The Art of Business, Success Stories: Small Steps Lead to Giant Leaps for Freelancers by Donya Dickerson
Check out this interview to discover how illustrator Thom Glick entered into the world of business and launched a career with the use of his artistic talents.
Artist Thom Glick’s first success as a magazine illustrator happened while he was a student at Columbus College of Art and Design—and AGDM played a key role in his initial achievement. “I used AGDM to research what markets were available to me, as well as the best methods to approach those markets,” he says.
After sending out a mailing to the targeted list of markets he found in AGDM, Glick says, “I immediately got responses to my postcards and follow-ups.” Nevertheless, it took a few months before he actually received his first assignment. “Cleveland Magazine contacted me wanting three spots to accompany an article about the upcoming baseball season,” he says. “They pretty much knew what they wanted in each of the images, so it wasn’t a real complicated assignment. It gave me an opportunity to concentrate on my technique and my voice. Over all the experience was great and highly addictive; I couldn’t wait to get my next assignment.”
Clearly, Glick was hooked, and through hard work and dedication, he’s built an impressive client list that includes The Washington City Paper, Cat Fancy and more. “The bulk of my work so far,” says Glick, “has been in the editorial market, most specifically for alternative newsweeklies. I really enjoy the challenge that editorial work presents with its quick turnarounds and continual need for new and inventive visual solutions.”
But Glick hasn’t limited himself to illustrating editorial pieces. He’s also had great success obtaining work in numerous other markets. “Other assignments I’ve done,” he says, “have illustration, advertising page layout, interior retail rendering, some minor production management, gallery work, and some instructional and demonstrational work.” He also painted a mural for the Trader Joe’s grocery store in Columbus, Ohio.
For Glick, the key to success is “to be patient and persistent but also constant and relentless.” As he explains, “I always keep in mind the very relevant saying: It’s the squeaky wheel hat gets he grease. Art directors and editors are constantly flooded with artists trying to break into the market, so don’t get discouraged if it takes a few tries to get noticed.”
To ensure he’s constantly getting his name in front of key decision makers, Glick has a very organized mailing system in place. “I use the AGDM to compile contact lists and mailings lists. After I send out the postcards I typically wait a week and then follow-up with an e-mail or phone call. I do my best to update my Web site often and I try to send out a new postcard a few times a year.” And his Web site, www.thomglick.com, has played an important role in his success. “With how quick today’s markets work, it is very helpful to have a portfolio out there that can be easily accessed any time of the day anywhere in the world.”
Glick also makes sure that his mailing incorporates everything that an art director would need. “I make sure to include my contact information and my Web address,” he says, “so that potential clients can see more of my work. I also try to include one color piece and one black and white piece so that I can use one postcard design for a variety of clients.”
For anyone who is ready to send out a mailing, Glick recommends that “if you are using AGDM as a source for finding potential clients, make sure to pay attention to what kind of art the client is looking for as well as their preferred method for receiving samples or mailers. It can be a huge waste of time for both you and a potential client if the samples you send are irrelevant or in the wrong format. I once missed some details in a description and sent a black and white publication a color postcard, when they only used black and white art and they preferred to receive a packet of hard copy samples rather than a postcard.”
He also advises that anyone who is interested in getting involved in any art-related market shouldn’t be afraid to ask for help or advice. There are an abundance of resources, literature, as well as organizations, out there for artists, to keep them informed on everything from copyright issues to pricing to standard business practices. It’s always better to think preventively rather than reactionary.”
Glick’s final advice for artists is to remember that there are countless markets out there looking for talented new artists. “A lot of people are afraid that the editorial illustration is disappearing, but I think that this market will always exist. There’s a definite and constant need for editorial art. If you love making art there’s an outlet somewhere out there for you. All you need is passion and perseverance.”
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