The Freelance Illustrator: Promoting to the Next Generation, by Lisa L. Cyr

Hartford Art School Student Q&As

This is the first of a 5-part artist interview series. Artist and art instructor Lisa Cyr shares Q&As and promotional projects of her students at the Hardford Art School at the University of Hartford. First up is illustrator Rebecca Solow. Stay tuned for more artist interviews in the coming weeks. Enjoy!

Over the last decade, the visual communications business has seen tremendous change not only in the way art is created, but also in the way it is purchased, used, distributed and marketed. To survive and thrive in this evolving volatile marketplace, illustrators need to be more proactive in the promotion of their work, creating brand recognition and building communities that span continents. To make a lasting impact, illustrators need to produce engaging, thought-provoking promotions that are not only keenly strategic, but also highly innovative from a production standpoint, spanning print, broadcast and new media.

Over the summer, I teach at the Hartford Art School at The University of Hartford in Connecticut. I’d like to share with you just some of the promotional projects created by the MFA students this past July. Many of these multimedia promotions are already bringing in work in new markets!

Interview with illustrator Rebecca Solow 

 Rebecca Solow

Q: Can you talk about your brand and how you were able to incorporate that vision into your promotional materials?

A: The main focus of my illustration work is on folklore and fairy tales, depicting them in a way that is modern with classical influences and an understanding of their history. My promotional materials serve to display my work in a way that is clean and approachable. The calendar showcases my paintings, each of which tell a story, while the sketchbook highlights my sketches and drawings: essentially the back story to the paintings. These promotional materials help me to reach out to the fantasy market as well as children’s book publishers and beyond.

Q: What advice can you give other illustrators/artists when it comes to self-promotion?

A: It is essential to have a clear vision of what you want your work to be, and who you want your work to be for. From there, you can decide how you want to reach out to your audience. Avoid getting too gimmicky, unless the gimmick is a major part of your brand.

Q: How has the Hartford Art School low-residency MFA Program in Illustration helped you in further realizing your career goals as an artist?

A: I was pushed to define what it is I want to do, creating work with that goal in mind. I came out of the program with a whole new portfolio and a sense of direction that I did not have before. In promoting this new work, I am already receiving recognition and new clients. I feel that my career has increased in both momentum and potential.


The Hartford Art School at the University of Hartford has designed an elite low-residency MFA program for seasoned illustrators who seek to move their careers to the next level, while earning a master’s degree for college-level teaching.  Dr. Murray Tinkelman, Hall-of-Fame illustrator, historian and the 1999 Society of Illustrators’ Distinguished Educator in the Arts award recipient, is the director of this cutting-edge program. Tinkelman’s years of experience in the field are an asset, attracting internationally-recognized artists eager to teach under his directorship. “It is taught by professional illustrators who are also dedicated and talented educators,” comments Tinkelman. “The students who enter this program are equally committed to the field of illustration. They come from all over the world, courageously checking their egos at the door and ready to plunge right into the learning process.”


Artist Network Videos by Lisa Cyr:       

Collage Techniques for the Mixed Media Artist

This video covers an array of exciting collage techniques from gluing, sealing, tearing, scoring, punching, die-cutting and custom inlays to wrinkling, creasing, burning, peeling-back, stitching, weaving, embossing and debossing handmade, custom treated and machine-made papers, foils and ephemera. If you love working in collage this video with artist Lisa L. Cyr is for you!

Transforming the Surface with Mixed Media Painting Techniques Webinar
This video covers a striking array of creative approaches in which to alter and transform the mixed-media painting surface. Lushly painted passages and rich transitions employing resist, blotting, lift-off, dissolve, marbling, sponging, distressing, aging and printmaking techniques are shown in inventive combinations. Utilizing both traditional and unconventional tools and techniques, this video will certainly ignite the creative juices.

Assemblage Accents: Employing Faux Finishes & Patinas

This  video covers creatively customizing found objects, assemblage accents and sculptural creations with unique finishes and patinas. To enliven the mixed-media landscape, a diverse array of techniques and materials from repurposed and custom treated natural and man-made elements will be explored. With the addition of faux finishes and decorative techniques, the everyday object can be transformed into a one-of-a-kind accent, communicating a concept or illuminating a subject in a unique way.


Lisa L. Cyr  ( is an accomplished multidisciplinary artist and author with a content-driven approach. Her highly imaginative, fantasy-inspired works use layers of metaphor and allegory to stimulate curiosity, provoke thought and encourage further inspection. A poetic, rhythmic synthesis of drawing, painting, collage and assemblage, Cyr’s visually tactile, mixed-media work is composed to collectively create a new reality with a more expressive, symbolic arrangement. An artist member of the Society of Illustrators NYC and the International Society of Experimental Artists, Cyr’s work has been featured in numerous magazines, books and online. She has authored seven books on art and design and writes for many of the creative industry’s leading art publications. In addition, Cyr gives workshops across the country and teaches in several of the top MFA graduate programs.


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