Those of you who have the 2007 AGDM might remember Susie Ghahremani. She was featured in that edition’s Success Stories article. (Her portion of the article appears below in purple in case you missed it.)
I’m friends with Susie on MySpace, so I get to keep up with her continuing success, and I thought I’d share this exciting announcement she recently posted:
Giant Robot is proud to present Musical Chairs, an art show featuring the work of Susie Ghahremani.
Ghahremani is a RISD graduate who has contributed work to Nickelodeon, Chronicle Books, and The New York Times, and was featured in the 2006 American Illustration publication. Illustrations by the San Diego artist have a patchwork appearance that is simple in design, complex in execution, and all-around pleasing to the eye. In addition to making two-dimensional art, she crafts tote bags, buttons, wallets, stationery, and other goodies.
Subjects of Musical Chairs include animals in domestic settings with pianos, accordions, guitars, and other instruments. Some of the creatures are indeed seated but others are in boats, on picnics, or other settings in the modestly sized but highly detailed paintings. Ghahremani has created upwards of 200 pieces for previous shows at Giant Robot galleries, and Musical Chairs promises to be bountiful as well.
A reception for Ghahremani will take place from 6:30 to 10:00 on Saturday, November 10.
This will be Susie’s second solo show at Giant Robot this year. I really wish I could go, but I’m stuck in Ohio. (Why do all the best events take place in California or New York?!?) I guess I’ll just have to settle for looking at photos. I think this one is my favorite:
I love cats, and I really like the way Susie draws them. I also like her owls, and I’m planning to get this necklace for myself when I have some extra money. I’m so happy for Susie, and I wish her lots of continued success!
When Susie Ghahremani first started submitting her work, she learned several lessons the hard way. “I thought if I sent a postcard with my Web site on it to magazines, they would go to the trouble of looking up my full portfolio and contact info.” She then proceeded to create “a stack of very amateur promotional postcards, bought about 300 postcard stamps, and just started sending them out. It was disorganized, expensive and ridiculous.”
Today, Ghahremani’s whimsical illustrations have been published in an impressive list of national publications that includes The New York Times, The Washington Post, Shape, and Child. In addition, she has exhibited her paintings in galleries across the country, including Giant Robot (LA, NYC, San Francisco), The Front Room (Brooklyn) and Motel Gallery (Portland).
From those first tough steps to her now flourishing freelance career, she’s learned several valuable lessons that have contributed to her success. First, she found that it’s crucial to investigate the markets before she submits to them. When she first started submitting her work, she says, she “contacted magazines without considering their content and if my work was appropriate for them. That was totally a waste of time and money! The response and non-response I received really forced me to learn quickly.”
While she recognizes that “getting to know your illustration market is time consuming,” this important step “will really help you connect with the right outlets for your work.” Taking the time to know the specific tastes of different markets has really paid off for Ghahremani. “I’ve found 50% of my work through the combination of AGDM and research online and on the magazine stands,” she says.
Once she assembled a list of markets that were strong fits for her work, Ghahremani sent out carefully targeted promotional postcards. When it comes to that initial contact with Art Directors, she recommends that “your promo should be the absolute most representative image(s) of your work you can find.” In addition to being an example of your own illustration style, a promo card must also honestly represent your illustration skills. Your promo, says Ghahremani, “could be your best painting ever, just make sure you can achieve the same quality of work again and that your work is consistent.”
After learning the right way to approach markets, Ghahremani had immediate success. “I got my first call from a prestigious client regarding my first promo the day after I put it in the mail!” While exciting, this call actually provided another important learning opportunity for her. As she explains, “They wanted to review ‘my book.’ I didn’t even know what that meant at the time. Your ‘book’ is your tangible portfolio. I didn’t have one! I was terrified. I stayed up all night professionally printing samples and arranging their presentation and overnighted them the next morning. Miraculously, they hired me, and I had a deadline the following week.”
When it comes to putting together your work to send to markets, Ghahremani advises that “your portfolio should be cohesive. I think my first portfolio had about 10 different styles and techniques in it. A disjointed portfolio confuses art directors about what to expect from you.” For anyone having trouble assembling a portfolio, she recommends “exercises like www.illustrationfriday.com or taking articles from magazines you already like and re-illustrating the articles as if they had hired you.”
Ultimately, Ghahremani believes that the secret to success is to “keep trying! The more work you do, the better and more refined your work will get. The more work you do, the more art directors will see you, too. Don’t feel disappointed if you don’t achieve what you hoped to right away. Keep up your energy and enthusiasm, and don’t let making art stop being fun!”
Ghahremani’s final advice is to “love what you do! There are a lot of ups and downs in a career as an illustrator, a lot of hard work, lulls and times when you’re completely swamped and overwhelmed, but enjoying your work is the best reward. I wouldn’t trade it in for anything.” That’s a sure sign of success.
Susie Ghahremani may be from the smallest state, Rhode Island,
but she lives life in a big way and her art makes a big impact.
She’s a singer with her own one-woman band, Snoozer, and is
a non-stop illustrator with a unique style. The above illustration
is titled Food Fight–more of her work can be viewed on her
Website www.boygirlparty.com, which offers notecards, t-shirts and
more featuring Ghahremani’s work. You can also hear her sing!