Sabatino’s Strategy: Send a Sample Arsenal

*An excerpt from 2001 Artist’s & Graphic Designer’s Market.

send a sampleWhen humorous illustrator Chris Sabatino told me he’d send along a few samples of his work he wasn’t kidding. I got an envelope packed with an array of samples – tons of postcards, 8½ x 11 promo pieces, even a booklet entitled “The Making of a Humorous Illustrator.”

“Four years ago I worked in a factory from 10:30 p.m. to 7 a.m. The hours and unsatisfying work made life miserable,” says Sabatino. Now he’s a full-time freelancer specializing in humorous illustration.

Sabatino started out using Artist’s & Graphic Designer’s Market. “I sent out 300 humorous promo cards to listings that seemed they would like my style and I got a great response! I got two freelance assignments right away, three letters requesting more samples and one phone inquiry.” That was enough for Sabatino’s wife, Stephanie, to urge him to quit his factory job and pursue illustration fulltime.

“To survive as an illustrator, I knew I had to promote myself and I knew I had to do it frequently and cheaply,” Sabatino says. His strategy is to persistently pepper potential clients with affordable promos. He’s created Thanksgiving-themed postcards saying, “I’d be very thankful if you would consider me for an assignment very soon.” Christmas-time promes plead, “All he wants for Christmas is an assignment from you.” He even created a piece that was a take-off of the latest George Lucas movie, “Art Wars: Episode I, The Illustrator’s Menace” (rated PC – please call). “To make art directors remember my name, I try to make the illustrations funny. If you can make them laugh, there’s a better chance they won’t throw the card away.”

All of Sabatino’s promotional pieces feature his kooky characters talking up their creator with marketing mantras like “He’ll meet your budget!” “He works fast!” and “Additional samples available upon request.”

But Sabatino’s characters are not the only ones who talk him up. Art directors he’s worked with call him “top-notch,” “reliable,” “creative,” “unique,” “fun.” They know he makes or beats deadlines and delivers quality work. With his track record and his promotional mailings, he gets repeat assignments from clients like Girl’s Life, Hopscotch, Boy’s Quest, Recycled Paper Products, West Graphics, and Lowell House. “I’ve come a long way from doing mindless work at a factory in the middle of the night, and AGDM had helped me every step of the way!”

For more art tips, check out this title:
2015 Artist's & Graphic Designer's Market


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