Recently I was asked to contribute to a talk by children's illustrator Hazel Mitchell. She wanted to know what my thoughts were on social networking.
1. What area of social networking do you find most useful and why?
I think out of all the avenues to stay visual and vocal online, Blogging is definitely my favourite choice. Not only can you promote your latest work, you can show your process and share advice about being a freelancer.
A close second is Twitter because it forces me to have a conversation even when I think no one is listening! The 140 character limit is a great wordy challenge that I enjoy. Because Twitter is easy to customize, it's a treasure trove of great reading material, links and witty banter that helps motivate me.
Linkedin is my third choice because it heavily focused on business, direct self promotion where you can get very specific of who you want to follow, what you do, while making it easier to ask for what you want.
2. Has social networking had any impact on your career?
It's had a huge impact on my career. Being a freelance illustrator means a lifelong dedication to working long hours with no apparent off switch. This work involves many hours solo in my studio so it's very important to reach out, connect and promote as much as I can. The illustration industry is quite large with more competition every day so making this a daily creative habit is very important.
I believe good things happen when you reach out in a consistent, positive and professional way. For me it has been more freelance work along with exciting new endeavours such as writing a book-Breaking Into Freelance Illustration, illustrating my first children's book, being asked to contribute to articles and books and even contributing work to a music video. Social networking allows you to think big and in today's times you need that energy to keep moving forward.
3. Who are you reaching out to online and why?
In the beginning, I used to reach out to my peers and liked-minded illustration friends. Now I focus on still connecting but I reach out to more art directors, art buyers and publishers. The internet makes the creative work world a lot smaller and easier to access. Since I am in Canada, it helps me reach markets that would be harder to get to without it.
I believe the new way of working as an illustrator means more than making connections- it involves having working relationships where the human side is just as important as the illustrations we make. Showcasing our creative worth as well as being of service to the industry is a very important thing to do now.
More About Hazel: