The freelance illustration market has changed dramatically, since I first set foot in my first client’s door. That was half a million years ago (slight exaggeration), but not all that long ago, really. The computer gradually changed everything – if not directly, there was a ‘domino effect’. Being freelance these days can be somewhat isolating, so I try to keep up with the current news with artist and designer friends, and what they’re up to – and I read blogs.
Sometimes the news on blogs is a bit too “up”, one might say. “Every thing is just fine and we’re happily freelancing, every single day!” I suspect, those blogs are a little too saccharine an not totally forthcoming. Some artists are doing very well, but the bulk of illustrators are not seeing the same amount of work or the same amount of financial return for that work. Most are not just illustrators or just designers – they either have a part time job; or are making money on the side from selling art or craft on web sites like Etsy, Artfire, etc.; or teaching; or … well, you get the idea.
I have seen the, what some would say, ‘decline’, of the market, over a long period of time. I have read articles with the point being that ‘the end is near’. I don’t think it’s that close to the ‘end’; I think it’s just the ‘next thing’ – evolution taking place. The computer and digital media isn’t all to blame; it has actually opened new venues. What it has done is make the competition worldwide. It has made the delivery of art, that is to say, the time frame from concept to finish a lot faster. It changes so quickly, it’s hard to not get left in the dust. Fortunately, learning whatever the latest “app” or “method” is quickly found, can be learned and mastered – until the next big thing comes around. All of those applications and skills seem to be in a burgeoning state of evolution too.
One of the blogs I read for news and information is called “Once Upon a Sketch“. Norm Grock and Wilson Williams, Jr. are the webmeisters, who do a lot of work in the children’s illustration field. Their latest podcast is a roundtable discussion with three other illustrators in the children’s market. They talk about not only the trade and commercial book market, but other venues as well. I bring this podcast to your attention, as they speak on other facets of the entire illustration industry, also.
In, as I mentioned, a profession that can be isolating, this podcast lets you know that you are not alone. The artists speak honestly about a lot of the things, I’m willing to bet, that you wondered about yourself. I know I did.
Visit the “Once Upon a Sketch” podcast. A little insight from people who are also in the industry, goes a long way.