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Illustrators sometimes complain about their working relationships with art directors. But, did you know that art directors occasionally have their own gripes about the illustrators they commission? Other than doing amazing work, there are some universal things that art directors want from illustrators engaged in a project. From my own experiences behind the table, these are the things I think most would agree on:

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For illustrators, taxes work a bit differently than from those working regular 9–5 jobs. You’re essentially your own small business owner and need to treat your taxes as such. Let’s take a look at some essential things illustrators should know about taxes.

As the spring semester begins, for many aspiring illustrators this will be their final set of classes before graduating. Having taught senior illustration majors for eleven years, I thought it might be useful to share my advice for those embarking on their last semester:

Occasionally, as an illustrator, you’ll have downtime—whether it’s waiting for sketches or final art to be approved, having a hole in your schedule, or just plain needing a break. When that happens, it’s not time to grab the Playstation and veg out on the couch yet or go on that sweet vacation as there are still many things to be done. Here are some illustration chores to consider when you find yourself with a little free time.

In the first of my new recurring interviews feature, I’m happy to welcome Kyle T. Webster. Kyle’s an illustrator and educator whose clients include The New Yorker, Time, The NY Times, IDEO, NPR, The Atlantic, WIRED, Microsoft, ESPN, Krispy Kreme, BBDO, The Wall Street Journal, Scholastic, Simon and Schuster, and The Washington Post to name a select few. He’s also well known as the creator of Kyle’s Brushes, which brings realistic, high-quality brushes to Photoshop.

I recently had an interesting Twitter discussion with Darren Booth about metadata and protecting artwork online. Darren expressed disbelief at how many illustrators don’t include metadata in their files when posting their work to the web and was wondering if there was something he was missing. My answer—and this is not meant to support not including metadata—was that there was a trend to strip it to make smaller file sizes. As we discussed this more on Twitter, it got me thinking generally about how illustrators can protect their work online and what trade-offs, if any, they sacrifice by doing so.

When you’re selling yourself as an illustrator, it’s not necessarily your illustrations or a fancy website that’s going to get you jobs—it’s trust. What you’re selling is trust that you’ll do high quality art, deliver on time, and be easy and professional to work with. Trust is the thing that gets you work.

So, how do you build trust?

It happened again. Someone reached out from the internet with a burning question and I took the time to answer it. And they didn’t even bother to thank me. It’s such a small thing, but this happens to every professional. And if you’re that person who’s not saying “thank you”, it’s massively hurting your career.