How to contact Art Directors: Part I – Marc Scheff

This post is one of a four part series:
How to contact Art Directors: Part I – Marc Scheff
How to contact Art Directors: Part II – Jon Schindehette
How to contact Art Directors: Part III – Lauren Panepinto
How to contact Art Directors: Part IV – Mike Linnemann

As a young or new artist it can be intimidating to start contacting Art Directors, it is however a necessary part of the job if you want to make a living as a freelance artist. One of the more frequent concerns I have encountered from other artists and myself as well is how to contact them without being a nuisance. Naturally when asking for a job you want to come off as professional and make a good impression, rather than turning them off right away.

I asked a handful of art directors to answer 10 questions about their preferred method of communication with artists. I’ll be posting one interview at a time over the next month. Starting out with Marc Scheff who is an Art Director for Tree House Brand Stores. These interviews will be packed with good information on how to show your best side, so stay tuned and enjoy!

1. What is your preferred method of communication if a new artist is looking to make contact and why? (ie. Postcards/email/phone/facebook/meeting in person)
I have a form that new artists can use to send me a sample for consideration. I look at 100% of the submissions that come in, and categorize submissions into a few folders on my computer. When I need new talent, I look through most of them again. The form is here:

Other than that, I prefer email with a link or links to work. It’s easy, and it saves trees.

2. Social media is becoming increasingly popular amongst artists as a tool for networking, how do you feel about artists befriending you on Facebook? Is there a right and a wrong way to go about it?
Twitter and my Facebook page are the best places to connect with me. I accept friend requests if we have actually met, and I don’t share anything professional on my personal page anyway. I’m on there almost all the time, so I don’t miss much.

3. Conventions are a great opportunity for networking, both for artists and Art Directors alike. However some new artists are nervous about approaching Art Directors in person just because they would like a job. What is your advice to this and how do you prefer that artists introduce themselves to you during conventions?
I wrote an article on this topic here. Basically get over it. Be professional, courteous, introduce yourself, and move on. If an AD wants to continue the conversation, they will! It’s no secret that we’re all looking for work or people to work with, handing off your card, introducing yourself, and saying what you do, that says it all.

4. If you ask a new artist to email you after meeting in person. How soon after the meeting should they do so? (ie. The next day, next week, next month)
They could email me while we’re talking. If I ask you to email me, I am counting on you to actually do it, and we’re not courting each other so you don’t need to wait six days. In fact, emailing me shows interest and is a good reminder for me to follow up. I keep a zero inbox, so it is a todo list I am guaranteed to not forget. The sooner the better.

5. When emailing an Art Director for the first time – what should the ideal email contain?
I prefer my submission form. But if you insist on email, I like a brief email, ideally noting that you know what I hire for and why you think you’re a good fit, and a link to work. In the end, the work gets you hired, but a professionally written email showing that you have put some thought into why you fit shows me you that you want THIS work and not just any work. If I like what I see, I put it in a folder where I keep artists I think I can use.

Oh, and for the love of all that is holy: spell check and use grammatically correct english sentences. If you write “u” instead of “you,” use an emoticon, or say “lol,” I will certainly wonder if you’re a professional.

6. It is no secret that many Art Directors are busy people and get a lot of emails. If your email goes unresponded, should you send a reminder email and if so how long should you wait before doing so?
I can promise you I read all my email and look at all links. I often reply at the minimum to confirm receipt. If I don’t, then fair to assume I can’t see a way to pitch your work right now.

As an artist, I know we all evolve, so feel free to send a follow up with new work every 2-3 months.

7. On that note Art Directors may ask for artists to send them periodical updates. What is the ideal timeframe for you to receive such updates without feeling like you are being spammed?
See 6.

8. How do you personally seek out new artists and how do you keep tabs on the artists you have met?
I live on the internet and find artists everywhere. I look on Jon and Irene’s sites a lot, and see who they and Lauren are working with, as well as other ADs I like. I am on Facebook a lot too, and have hired a few from the crit group Team Awesome. I scour Illustration Age and some of the other illustration blogs. I check my submissions form folders. If I find someone I like, I often create a folder for them in my submissions directory.

9. What is the most positive encounter you have had with a new artist and what is the worst?
The best was when I ADed the 52 Shades of Greed project. It was my first time with about 28 artists and everyone got me finished work in 4 days. The task was impossible and they did it on a crazy budget. I was blown away. You can go see who those heroes are here:

The worst was an artist whose work I love but he failed to ever complete his commission. That means I have to explain or excuse him with my boss, figure out the legal stuff with how to close his commission, find another artists to start over, and in the worst case cancel that project. The less I have to do that, the better.

10. Do you ever get tired of having to explain the same things over and over to new artists?

– Marc

Twitter: @marcscheff

About Marc: Marc Scheff is an illustrator and Art Director, who went to Harvard. His work has appeared in publications such as Spectrum, ImagineFX, and more. Marc is constantly engaged in creative endavors and seek to help educate and engage his fellow artists. He does this in many different ways but a few worth mentioning are the Drawn Today podcast, and the co-founded, weekly livestream channel Awesome Horse Studios.

He currently lives in New York City with his wife Chloe and his son Declan.

Kiri Østergaard Leonard

Award winning Illustrator, Artist and Creator Kiri Østergaard Leonard happily shares her experiences making a living as an artist and pursuing a creative life. She grew up in a tiny village in Denmark, left her country behind to pursue art in the bustle of New York City and now resides in the delightful weirdness of Austin, Texas surrounded by sunshine and felines.

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