Research notes for the presentation


How can we promote ourselves?

Promoting yourself tips have not been a complete new thing to me. During the summer holiday we had to create a presentation which involved doing research on the career of an illustrator, this is when I read few different books: ’The fundamentals of illustration’ and ‘Illustration: meeting the brief’. After summing up what I read in those books, I wrote down the tips, which, in my opinion, would be the most helpful when promoting yourself as an illustrator:

  1. Collaboration with different disciplines helps gain knowledge and broadens your view.
  2. When illustrating, it is important to make the image, which power captures your personality or a view point for a certain topic. Illustration has to tell a story, give it history and depth.
  3. When given a brief, asking three main questions: what/how/why are we trying to achieve it?

After that I have attended few different artists talks on the ‘Industry Friday’ days at the university, most of them have been talking about their career and freelancing. Below I have added few tips that I thought were the most useful.

Sarah Melin said that ‘’it is important to be patient – everything takes time, believe in yourself, being nice to everyone/professional (nice and professional when meeting new people), working freelance needs to be fun as it is a really hard work.’’

Rebbeca Ford (RSA) talked about a strong final piece, that ‘’the final product needs to look and feel well designed, important to use less text and make the product easily read for audience coming from different backgrounds and most importantly it has to be unique and surprising.’’


Robert Good gave tips on being a successful artist: ‘’ important to move on – start doing something; Applying for competitions, organising exhibitions; Pushing stuff towards yourself to make things happen from what you have at that moment; Networking – not about being too pushy to someone who showed you support in the past; Socialising – keep it real and you will prosper; Being organised and getting stuff done. ‘’


After given a brief to do more research on self-promotion I had to look at different tips, this is when I found audio record talks of Rosalind Davis at the Artquest website. I have chosen several important tips from her artist talk on self-promotion:

  1. Artists are visual people, so many do not want to write artist statements, however these are highly important as they help to reflect on your artwork and explain why are you doing this, why are you interested in this.
  2. Being able to talk about your artwork between 3 to 5 words. It is important to be imaginative and creative to build up curiosity. Never say, “I like drawing buildings… I enjoy drawing cats… ‘’, etc.
  3. Taking part in the exhibition helps to evolve your practice. When at it, make sure to talk to audience about your artwork, this helps to understand your own art more.

All in all, the self-promotion is very broad and there are various kinds of self-promotion ways. Here I listed some of them:

  1. Personal websites
  2. Portfolio platforms
  3. Artist exposure platforms
  4. Social media platforms
  5. Videos of creative processes
  6. Newsletters
  7. Business cards
  8. Networking with potential clients, agents, exhibition curators, artists and other.
  9. Trade Show exhibits
  10. Teaching a class or giving an artist talk
  11. Attending a networking event or a meet-up group

Target Audience


Instead of talking non -stop about the various types of audience I would like to sum up that there are several types of different audience. I would like to split those groups into professional and daily. Most artists forget that it is important not only to work at the standards of the professional audience, other are completely opposite and work only for the audience that surrounds them – daily.

I would like to be an illustrator which looks at both of these target types of audience.

Professional – potential clients, illustration agents, gallery curators, bloggers/art newspapers/reporters and companies,

Daily – non-artists, artists seeking for inspiration, potential art buyers, art collectors.

This would mean that I would have to work in two different platforms. While the professional audience seeks for a personal website, portfolio websites, and artist statements – they need business cards, post cards, you taking part in exhibitions and having a great portfolio. On the other end there are daily audience – who need to read blog entries about your current project, want to be able to buy your work on the internet or in shops, what to see your work everywhere, on social media platforms (Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, etc.), during the exhibitions and on the items they would be willing to buy (cups, t-shirts, pillows, clocks and similar).

Existing artist platforms

While doing my research on how to promote myself, I looked at various artist platforms. I have decided to divide them into several different groups by what the platforms provide:

  1. Portfolio platforms – Behance, Illustration Web, The Creative Finder, Dribbble, Found Myself.
  2. Exposure platforms (selling art, taking part in exhibitions or competitions) – Society6, Found Myself, ImageKind, RedBubble, Artician, Mail Me Art, Work Book, Illustration Friday, Illustration Mundo, Etsy.
  3. Social Media platforms – Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, WordPress.


I decided to create different charts for each of the website platforms and assess their cons and pros in the scale from 1 to 5, evaluate them in the most important for me values. [Information can be seen in the presentation slides]

Brief comments of cons and pros of each of the before mentioned website platforms:

  • Behance – this portfolio platform is one of

the most popular platforms among the potential companies and clients, this means that on the website there is going to be hundreds of artist. It might seem like it would be hard to find artists on it, however the website provides search filters. Due to the high numbers of artist on the website means that your work will be a little hard to find and you will get a lower percent of your art exposure on this artist platform.

  • Illustration Web – highly popular among potential companies and clients as it not only works as a portfolio platform, it is an agency too. Website has little fewer artists on the website and only two types of artists: illustrators and animators. Website provides search filters so it would mean you will gain more exposure if your art meet the needs of the search keywords.
  • The Creative Finder – free to join artist platform, has hundreds of illustrator’s, photographer’s and designer’s portfolios, which means your work might be hard to find and will receive less exposure – not enough various filters to choose from.
  • Dribbble – portfolios are mostly concentrated on the design works, has less artists on the website so provides higher exposure for you art work.
  • Found Myself – not only a portfolio platform, allows as well to sell your art for free. Does not provide search filters, which means it will not provide a high exposure on your art.
  • Society6 – a wide variety of items to choose from to sell your illustrations on. Highly popular mong illustrators – pretty hard to gain high exposure.
  • Imagekind – allows you to keep full profit of your own art piece, provides service to create giclee prints. You can set your gallery to promote your work either through free, pro and platinum accounts. On the other hand, company providing this free service takes high prices for framing or putting the art piece onto a canvas, so this service can be interesting only for certain type of customers who can pay for it.
  • RedBubble – company converts your images into framed prints, greeting cards, t-shirts and similar. You can set your own price on the product. However, prices are set by adding your price for an item and their base price, in the very end the artist might end up getting the smallest profit because the end price just looks too overpriced when selling.
  • Artician – website design and purpose reminds me a lot of a Deviant Art. Artists registered on this platform are mostly non-professionals, website design chaotic, thousands of artists registered.
  • Mail Me Art – this is a project based website, where you pay a fee, receive a booklet with the information on how to get included into this project, then you send them your illustration in a postcard format which is later on exhibited and published in a book. Extra exposure.
  • Work Book – this is a highly famous website where you can create your online portfolio for free, however you might not receive a high exposure mainly because there are so many artists registered on this platform. However, there is a possibility for you to get included into the Work Book published book if your work is good enough.
  • Illustration Friday – this platform has been highly famous between artists and non-artists lately. You can submit your work for a competition (they make one every week with a new topic) and if you win you get your work published on their website and in this way you can gain more exposure very quickly as this platform is highly popular.
  • Illustration Mundo – a platform where you can create your portfolio and network with other artists. Website design does not look professional, there are hundreds of artists registered on this platform so mostly this website works as a forum-blog for artists to talk to one another and share their work.
  • Etsy – is one of the most popular websites to sell anything you want. Similarly to Pinterest it is easily shared and many people will see it. However, provides not a high exposure on your art as there are loads of different kinds of sellers, both artists and non-artists.
  • Pinterest – in my opinion is one of the greatest websites in finding information. Sometimes it gives better search results or better information than Google. It is widely used to share ideas, illustrations and similar and they are all shared easily as anyone can pin it for you. But this is where the disadvantage comes as well, when anyone can share your artwork, it can be used without your permission. What is more, it does not look as serious as you can easily drown in the wide variety of information. I would probably use this website if trying to sell more of my art pieces.
  • Facebook – is and has been throughout the years the most popular website in connecting with people and sharing your life with them. I have noticed loads of groups and pages created in Facebook where people share their artwork, post new exhibitions, connect with different other artists and even sell work. It sounds like great idea, however, Facebook does not provide you with keeping your artwork safe, which means anyone can copy it and use it. I would probably use Facebook only for creating events on my exhibitions, sharing my personal website and using it as a blog to attract more people on what I am doing, what my current projects are.
  • Instagram – is widely used for sharing photos and videos. Even though that it is super popular and easy to use, I do not see it as a serious social website to share my art pieces at. However, great for building up audience and fans, sharing current projects as a way of blogging. Many people will see it as you build your follower numbers.
  • Twitter – is very similar to Instagram but more widely used between various famous people, company directors and similar. Great way to follow the recent news, connecting informally to famous people. However, I do not have an account and am not sure if I would like to have one as Twitter usually associates to me with silly ‘HASHTAGS’ and too much informality. In the end, I could create an account for connecting with the fans and followers.
  • WordPress – is one of the best blogging pages I have seen. I started using it for my university projects, and this was my second blogging page after using Tumblr for a year. WordPress is a lot more sensible and used by mostly adult audience, it provides various different templates, and you can create your own template for extra pay. Great website to share your current projects, keeping a blog on what you are doing and similar.



Illustration agencies


Illustration agencies are important for illustrators to join if they need some help with the projects or need that extra exposure between the potential clients – various illustration agencies are highly popular in different companies as agencies help those companies find what they are looking for.

I have done research on how to get an illustration agent and how to keep one. Here are some tips that I thought would be highly useful in my later career:

  1. Before approaching the agency it is important to research the illustrations they are providing on their website to make sure that you will be sending them something new and fresh that is not already there.
  2. Best ways to approach an agent would be: sending postcards with your current projects or writing an email with a short introduction on who you are and what you do and attaching a link to your personal website or a PDF portfolio of a maximum 10 pieces of your best illustration projects.
  3. Agents seek for illustrators who are constantly working on personal projects, This not only shows that you are constantly growing as an artist but as well you will be building up your portfolio pieces which can be sold later on through the agents to different clients.

The illustration agencies list in United Kingdom is very broad. After looking at K. Marshall’s blog and the list of the illustration agencies I have decided to use Google to tell me, which of these agencies come up at the first page when doing a search as this tells which websites would be used the most. I will assess these 8 illustration agencies with the following values of how many artists the agency works for, how exciting their website design is, does the agency website provide a search filter and what quality illustrations, in my opinion, do the illustrators provide.

  • Jelly – looks like a pretty hard agency to get into because illustrators list is short, their website is highly creative and easy to navigate, website does not provide a search filter but it seems not needed as the list or the artists is so short, the illustrators provide are great quality.
  • Handsome Frank – agency represents a variety of different contemporary illustrators. Website is simple and clear, does not provide a search filter, because number of artists on the page is not long, the qualities of illustrations provided are highly different, however it only shows that each illustrator does whatever works best for them.
  • Eye Candy – illustrators list on the page is longer than in other illustration agency websites, website design clean and fun, does not provide a search filter, provides a wide variety of great quality illustrations.
  • Illustration Web – illustrators list pretty long, website design exciting, provides a search filter which helps to sort illustrations by the style or by the artist name, provides a wide variety of illustrations, some better some worse – does not seem like a huge competition between them as all illustrator’s work seem different from one another.
  • MeikleJohn – website clean and clear, easy to navigate, easy to find illustrators – does not provide a search filter, list of illustrators quite long, they provide a wide variety of illustration styles.
  • Dutch Uncle – website clean and plain, represents only few artists from different countries (UK, USA, Japan), seems pretty hard to get into, agency does not provide a search filter, illustrators provide the best quality art.
  • NB Illustration – artist list very long, provides a search filter, which means less exposure but easier to get into, artwork quality varies a lot, plain website design.
  • Folio – website design pretty chaotic but plain, illustrators list quite long but does not provide a search filter, illustration qualities vary, some better than others.

I have chosen Eye Candy, Jelly and MeikleJohn agencies as my favourites so far because they provide high exposure of your artwork, they are famous between companies or clients and illustrators these agencies work for provide a wide variety of great quality illustrations.

Personal artist websites


A portfolio website is one of the most popular ways in presenting and promoting yourself as an artist as it is open to a huge variety audience, who can be non-artists, fans or your potential clients and companies. In order to create a website, I had to look into many different other artist websites to understand their cons and pros. In this article I will show the best chosen examples I have found so far and explain why I think they are worth looking at as an inspiration.

Thomas Fitzpatrick – his website portfolio stud out because of the simplicity and bald colours. It is bright, big and unforgettable. What is more, I do find his about me page text very brave and expressing his personality.

Katy Smail – websites simplicity shines through. Easy way to show of your personality by the chosen artwork that represents you the most. Website easy to navigate and find what you are looking for.

Deda – highly original website, which has all a website needs: about me, short original cv, portfolio and contact me. Uniqueness of this website as well is a big plus as it is not only well done visually but all the information is fun to read, which speaks a lot about the artists personality.

Kelli Murray – website design reflects on the colours of the art work the artist creates. Has all the needed pages, plus a shop for extra earnings. Great idea to present your best art piece on the home page so the viewer can already make an opinion of what he or she is going to see next in your portfolio.

Daniel Egneus – an example of one of the most common website styles for the portfolios. However, it compensates by the quality of the drawings as this artist has a bright and expressive style. Easy to navigate through the page and find what you are looking for.

Aprile Elcich – The logo on the top of the website representing the artist in my opinion looks amazing. Simplicity of the website – all the way throughout it.

Hitomi Watanabe & Iku Oyamada – motion gifts add a lot of interest, however, hard to find actual portfolio, a bit too much confusion. However, the whole website design is highly unique.

Nasibah – super simple, bright, reminds of a concertina book or postcards, website design reflects a lot on the style of the artist.

Helen Musselwhite – simplicity of the logo on the top, colours are nicely coordinated together. Clean and clear website. However, pretty common website design among artists.

Ben Barry – his website is pretty chaotic, loads of colour combinations, loads of work. However, it is easy to find the needed information – good navigation.

Hannah Rowlands – website is simple, clean and clear, colour coordinated, reflects on the artists style and personality. Again, website design pretty common among other artists.

Lisa Hedge – home page is well designed as the more you scroll the more artwork you can see. However, did not like how busy the tab section looks on the side. It makes it harder to access the needed information.

Teresa Ferreira – unique website design which reminds of a collage, as this reflects a lot on what this illustrator does. However, I believe it looks a little too busy, as there are loads of different colour combinations and loads of different shapes and objects all the way throughout the page.

Chris Haughton – even though the artist’s work is great quality, but there are some big mistakes on the website. First of all, it takes time to see a full image, as it doesn’t fit in page you need to scroll to see the bottom of it. Even though there is a list in tabs of all of his projects, the tab section is just too long and confusing.

My personal website & logo


Before I started doing my website mock ups, I have looked at various artist portfolio websites, from which K. Smail, D. Egneus, K. Murray, Hitomi and Iku, were the ones that gave me the most inspiration.

What I learned that if you want to create a strong personal website you can either create a unique website design or rely on your strongest illustrations to speak about your personality, style and abilities.

The first thing I decided to do is create my personal logo. Using initials of my name instead of writing my full name seems like a better idea mainly because my name is so long and logo just looks a lot clearer. What is more, I decided that a logo can represent me as an illustrator in various ways: on business cards, in the corner of marked illustrations and it will be a lot more recognisable. What I did is after taking the initials I decided to put them into a shape of one of my favourite animals – squirrel. This is how my logo experimentations looked like:

And in the end I came up with this final logo design, where I put the squirrel into a circle which represents a frame:

The logo does not have colours yet mainly because I will use the colours that suit my personal portfolio website, which I did not start thinking about yet, however, I investigated what type of fonts are most commonly used on the websites and are safe to use on any type of browser program both on a Mac or Windows. These fonts include: Ariel, Ariel Bold, Andale Mono, Comic Sans, Courier, Georgia, Impact, Times New Roman, Trebuchet and Verdana – which in my opinion are very simple and clear fonts for the website. After that I created two mock up websites, which I am not 100% about if they will be used in my later portfolio website, however are a great experimentation. The first mock-up has a home page – big illustration (will be using something that reflects my art style the most), about me page – illustration cv written in a self-interview form, portfolio page – best and current photos of my projects (if you click on the photo you can read more information about it and see more art), contact me page – where you can find all the contact information or write a quick message to me. The second mock-up has a home page – with my best and current artwork on it (if you click on the chosen illustration, you can read more about the project and see more art), about me page – illustration cv written in a self-interview form, projects page – a blog style of page where I will be posting all the information on what I do and what my current projects are, contact me page – where you can find all the contact information or write a quick message to me.

All in all, after doing these mock-ups I will continue researching and experimenting on the best ways of creating my personal portfolio website and as well choosing the best appropriate colour themes for it and hopefully have a finished website in the nearest future.


Website building platforms


The website building platforms can be divided into two sections:

  1. Website hosts
  2. Website platforms with templates

A website hosts basically installs all the needed programs – wed editor into your website so you can edit everything that is posted to the website: images, videos, etc. However, some website hosts require to work with other CSM (content management system) such as Joomla, Magenta, WordPress and similar.

Website builder platforms with templates for me sound like a lot easier way to build my own website. Most of them provide options of either installing your own website created by (Adobe Muse, Dreamweaver CC and others) or you can use their given templates and adjust them as much as they are allowing – how much they allow to adjust depends on how much you pay for the website, for example if you pay the basic price, they might not allow to change the designs as much as the premium buyer would.

Squarespace, Tumblr, WordPress and Wix are the most famous website builders. After assessing their strengths and weaknesses I decided that I would be willing to try building my website either using a Wix platform or a Squarespace platform. I liked Wix the most because it gives loads of website templates to choose from and opportunities to adjust them the way you would like to even having a free account, which means this platform will provide even higher website building tools on a premium account, on the other hand it is pretty expensive compared with the other website building platforms. Squarespace is one of my potential options mostly because the prices of the website are pretty small and it has a built in tool which provides options to work with the information you are posting on the website, however it does not provide many templates to choose from but you can post your website on the Squarespace if you created it in other programs such as Adobe Muse and similar.

Business cards


A business card is one of the self-promotion ideas I have and will be doing in the near future. I have done a little bit of research on how to create a good business card and looked at various examples, these are the tips I came up with after summing all the research I have done:

  1. Making sure I know the basics of creating a business card digitally and what are the: Safe Area, Trim and Bleed Area.
  2. Including the most important information: full name, what you do, and contact information.
  3. Using a well-chosen colour scheme which sums up your art work or represents the colours you use on your personal portfolio website so they link to one another.
  4. If adding an illustration, making sure it is one of your best pieces, building curiosity for the contact to look at your later artwork.
  5. Considering the thickness of the business card. Thicker cards tend to feel more expensive and professional.

After that I had looked at business card inspirations and will be updating my inspiration gallery in the nearest future. I am using Pinterest to pin all of the most inspirational designs on it.

Here is my Pinterest folder: https://www.pinterest.com/domenikachan/illustrator-business-card-ideas/

And several inspiration business card examples found:

My business card


After researching various types of business card designs and reading tips on various article websites I have decided that the best option for my own business card is to keep it simple and clear. I have not yet decided on the final design, however, I created a mock-up of the front side of my business card which will mostly have my logo on it and will be in the colours as my personal website, I would like the logo to be either stamped or letter pressed and on the back there would be all the needed contact information. Here’s the mock-up of the front of my business card:


Setting targets


What I have learned during the three years when studying in the university that setting targets help me to keep motivated, organised and I decided to keep on doing this after I graduate and help myself search for new job opportunities as a freelance illustrator and not to keep bored as well as boost up my creativity. I created a sample of my daily, weekly and monthly targets that I strictly want to follow. It looks like this:


  • Sketching
  • Looking for inspiration and new techniques


  • Working on a self-initiated project
  • Blog updates on the contemporary projects
  • Looking at freelance job listing websites


  • Update portfolio (website and catalogues)


Future targets for self-promotion


All in all, after doing all of this self-promotion research I finally came up with a set plan on what I want to be doing in the nearest future and what goals I want to reach to become a successful freelance illustrator. The first thing I need to do is to tidy up my projects, photograph them professionally and create short project reflections on each of them. After that is to write my artist stamen – this will be highly useful after I start uploading my work onto various portfolio websites, my personal one included. Then I can start registering for several artist platforms that I like the most from the research I have done for this Present & Promote unit. What is more, I will be continuing to work on my portfolio website together with my business card design as they will be highly related to one another. The further plan would be to start applying to get into an illustration agency. I am planning to do this after I feel like I have a good enough portfolio to show to them, fully evolved my personal style and covered enough projects, exhibitions and showed myself in wider public audience.



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Website articles

Artists & Illustrators Agents (Online)
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Artquest (2012). Self – promotion, ironically, has a bad press amongst artists. Which is a problem as it’s an activity that has an impact on every aspect of an artist’s career. (Online)
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Ashleigh Allsopp (2014). How to get an illustration agent – and how to keep one? (Online)
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Brophy, M. (2011). Self-Promotion is NOT a Dirty Word – 11 Ways to Market Yourself. (Online)
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Goble, S. (2012). Business Card Design: 7 Essentials to Consider. (Online)
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Heng, C. (2014). What’s the Difference Between a Content Management System (CMS), a Blog, a Web Editor and an Online Site Builder? (Online)
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Kim T. & Misner, I. Creating a Great Business Card. Success is in the cards when you’ve got business cards that convey the right message. (Online)
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Lazaris, B. (2011). 30 Best Platforms for Online Promotion of Artwork for Artists. (Online)
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Leyl Master Black (2012). 7 Social Media Marketing Tips for Artists and Galleries. (Online)
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Marshall, K. (2012). The Ultimate Illustration Agents List. (Online)
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Safe web fonts (Online)
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Web Hosting Articles
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Young, R. (2013). 11 Tips and Tricks for Creating Stunning Business Cards. (Online)
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Zeegen, L. (2012). The fundamentals of illustration/2nd ed. Lausanne, Switzerland : AVA Academia.

Male, A. (2014). Illustration : meeting the brief. London : Bloomsbury Visual Arts.


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