Now offering one-on-one guidance and portfolio consultations. Get yours today!

A Rogues Gallery: People Besides Art Directors Who Can Give You Work

In last week’s post, I discussed building a contact list. While I mentioned Art Directors as the primary target for your mailings, they’re not the only people at a company who can commission work. Let’s explore the other folk you might want to send your promos to if you’re so inclined:

Note: for the purposes of this posting, I’ll specifically talk about the book industry as that’s what I’m most familiar with. Other industries will differ slightly in their hierarchy and job responsibilities.

Design Assistants

Who are they?

This is the basic entry level position for anyone entering the art department. Design Assistants either work for the whole department or one or two specific Art Directors or Creative Directors inside of it. Their job revolves around administrative duties, basic design chores, and visual grunt work.

Why them?

While they might not have the power to hire and fire illustrators, oftentimes they may be tasked by their boss to research artists for a particular project. And, while they’re not full designers yet, eventually they will be, so getting on their radar can lay some foundation for you later down the road.

Assistant Designers

Who are they?

Assistant Designers are the next level up from Design Assistants (see how they just flip the name around?). It’s basically the same job with a little more responsibility as they’re starting to design a couple titles of their own each list.

Why them?

Same as above, only more so.

Designers

Who are they?

They’re full-on designers who get to design their own set of titles each list.

Why them?

Because they can actually hire you! Designers are in charge of their own books and, while they need to get approval for the final hiring, they’re the ones who are actually going to be concepting ideas, pitching illustrators, and ultimately commissioning work.

Junior and Senior Designers

Who are they?

They’re more experienced designers who usually have a larger workload and higher profile books. While they’re not full Art Directors yet, at various companies the jobs are almost identical other than some managerial aspects and salaries.

Why them?

At this point, other than the title, their job responsibilities are very similar to an Art Director. Also, Art Directors get flooded with promos so targeting people one rung down on the ladder may actually get your work more attention.

Art Directors (Junior, Senior, Associate, etc.)

Who are they?

These are the mythical Art Directors you’ve heard about. Art Directors design their own titles, but also oversee the titles for the designers working underneath them. There are some managerial aspects as well to their position, as they have to make sure every title underneath them meets its deadline and has their seal of approval before it’s released to production to be printed.

Why them?

They’re the ideal people to send your work to because they manage so many titles and have their hands in many different projects within the company.

Creative Directors

Who are they?

Creative Directors are the top dogs. They manage the design department and set the tone and style for the overall visual look of the books the company publishes. Everything that goes to print flows through them in some way—whether they’re leading the charge or just approving and directing the work that the people beneath them do. While the position is largely managerial, the best Creative Directors still get their hands dirty and design a few of their own titles every season.

Why them?

Creative Directors are the ultimate problem solvers because the buck stops with them. They oftentimes suggest artists to their designers and find new ones when the illustrators that have been assigned to a title aren’t working. Sure, they may not be the contact person for most illustrators, but their hand is in every book that’s published. Keeping them aware of your work would be a very prudent thing to do.

Editors (Assistant, Junior, Senior, etc.)

Who are they?

Editors don’t just deal with words; they manage the entire book—from the text to the cover to the marketing. They’re the only people who know the full scope of the title and balance all of the pieces together to create their ultimate vision.

Why them?

I wouldn’t send your promos to editors if you’re interested in magazines or book covers. However, if your interest is in children’s books it would be a good idea to include them in mailings since, in that market, the artist can sometimes be seen as an author and fall under editorial domain.

Final Thoughts

You’ll want to pick and choose which people to target within a particular company. However, if you have the resources, I don’t think it hurts to send work to everyone on this list so long as it’s appropriate. As I mentioned above, though, the jobs described here are specific to book publishing and the roles may be different in other industries. Do your research first because mileage will vary.

Post by

Neil Swaab is a freelance illustrator, art director, author, and educator based in Brooklyn, NY. He's an instructor at Parsons the New School for Design and the illustrator of the New York Times bestselling book Middle School: My Brother is a Big, Fat Liar by James Patterson and Lisa Papademetriou. His new authored and illustrated book, The Secrets to Ruling School: Class Election, comes out this September from Amulet Books.

See more posts by this author

Comments Off on A Rogues Gallery: People Besides Art Directors Who Can Give You Work