Tips on Self-Promotion From Max Scratchmann

*Excerpt written by Cindy Laufenberg from 2001 Artist’s & Graphic Designer’s Market.

Award-winning illustrator Max Scratchmann, who lives on the remote Orkney Islands, off the coast of Scotland, is living proof that you can be a successful artist no matter where you live. By using e-mail and the Internet, he’s able to promote his work well beyond the shores of Scotland to clients all over the world. Scratchmann set up a website featuring his illustrations and client list, and he routinely sends out a quirky e-mail newsletter to keep potential clients up-to-date on what he’s doing.

Scratchmann has written an entertaining book, Illustration 101, that’s chock full of helpful strategies for creating a successful freelance business. The book covers all aspects of self-promotion, including meeting with clients, setting up and using a database, getting publicity, and networking. Here are a few of Max’s self-promotion tips.

self-promotionMax on Meeting With Clients

  • When just about to go into a meeting with a client, make sure you’re carrying your portfolio in your left hand so your right hand is free to shake hands with the client when you walk in the door. It might sound a bit like advice from one of those awful power-selling books, but there’s nothing more flustering for starting a meeting than being unable to return a handshakes, dropping your portfolio and then falling over it!
  • Every time you’ve been to a work-generating meeting with a client, whether you got any work or not, it makes a great impression if you send a brief thank-you-for-your-time letter or card, and pop your business card in. It’s a tiny detail, but it can often be the difference between you and the other guy!

Max on Sending Out Promotional Mailings:

  • Always check the spelling of names on your mailing. Nothing is worse for alienating a potential client than getting her name wrong on first contract. Worse still, starting letters addressed to female clients with “Dear Sir” is not going to make you flavor of the month either. I am reliably informed, for example, that Maggie Mundy, who runs the Maggie Mundy Illustration Agency, will bin (throw out) pitches from artists who address her as “Dear Sir” – and there seem to be plenty of very careless would-be’s around who appear to do just that. Don’t join those ranks, take a little time over your addressing and reap the rewards you deserve.
  • As an illustrator you probably won’t be mailing more than 300 people at any one time, so take advantage of these low numbers and always hand-sign your mailing letters for that personal touch.

Max on Networking:

  • Max’s Motto: If you don’t have to pay for it. Networking is a great free way of generating publicity and work opportunities for yourself, and its beauty lies in its pure simplicity. Think of networking as planting seeds – the more you sow the more you reap. If you tell 10 of your friends about your new illustration career they may tell another 5 people each, so that’s 60 people who know all about you, and if, say, those tell another three people each, that’s another 180 you’ve added to your list of potential customers. And what if they all tell a couple hundred people each?
  • Get into the habit of always carrying your business card and hand it out to people. When you meet other business people give them your card and ask for theirs as a matter of course. This allows you to build up a database of people you can ring up later and say, “I don’t suppose you remember me but…” In fact, just network all the time. It costs nothing and the results can be quite staggering.

For more tips on self-promotion, visit Max Scratchmann’s website at to order Illustration 101.

For more artist tips and advice, check out these titles:
2015 Artist's & Graphic Designer's Market Photographer's Market 2016


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