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An Illustration Story: The quest for the mythical Client.

In this new blog series, we'll cover a ton of topics that should help up and coming illustrators take steady strokes into the ocean that is the illustration business. Today, we start with a brief overview of where and how to find illustration clients. Are you an illustrator who dreams of filling the pages of children's books with whimsical creatures and brave little adventurers? Well, buckle up, because we're about to embark on the maiden quest: finding clients in the fantastical world of children's book illustration!

(Looking for clients on the internet can be a scary prospect, but you shouldn't be afraid to start!)

First things first, let's talk about the magical marketplace known as the internet. It's a realm where illustrators can showcase their portfolios to potential clients across the globe. Websites like Reedsy, Dribbble and Hireillo offer a treasure trove of opportunities to connect with authors who are just itching to bring their stories to life with your art. But remember, the key is to make your portfolio shine bright. Fill it with your best work, the pieces that truly capture the essence of your unique style. Make sure to include a variation of personal projects, subject studies and character/environment development to showcase your variety.

(Bologna book fair 2024)

Now, if you're more of a wandering minstrel than a hermit, consider venturing out to the grand gatherings—children's book fairs and conferences. Here, you can rub elbows (or paws, or fins, depending on your preferred drawing subject) with authors, publishers, and fellow illustrators. These fairs are a great place to start building your network, support fellow illustrators and see how your style is similar or different from everything else that’s out there.

Don't forget the power of the ancient scrolls—or as we now call them, blogs and articles. They hold the wisdom of those who have walked the path before you. For instance, the Self Publishing School blog provides a detailed guide on finding an illustrator for children's books, which can help you see the problem from a different perspective. 

And let's not overlook the enchanted forest of social media, where hashtags act like spells to make your artwork visible to those who seek it. Platforms like Instagram and Twitter can be your best familiars, helping you cast a wide net and attract the eyes of potential clients. Don’t forget to comb the ancient halls of Facebook for groups where you can promote your art to authors. Make sure you join the smaller groups as well, where it’ll be easier to stand out from the crowd. Some of my personal favorites are: Children's book authors and illustrators: P,M&S Children's book illustrators

But beware, brave artist! The path is fraught with perils like scope creep and clients who think exposure is a fair price for your labor. Arm yourself with a contract, as sturdy as a knight's shield, to protect your work and ensure you're compensated with more than just fairy dust. The Graphics Artists Guild has a great template to start you out with, with many more to find on the world wide web.

(The Road goes ever on and on

Down from the door where it began.

Now far ahead the Road has gone,

And I must follow, if I can.)

In the end, remember that every children's book illustrator's journey is as unique as the creatures they bring to life. Whether you're a lone wolf or a social butterfly, there's a path for you. So grab your sketch pad, sharpen your pencils, and set forth on the adventure of a lifetime—or at least, the adventure of finding your first client. Happy illustrating!

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