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.
Photoshop has a ton of different formats to save files as—from JPEG, PNG, and GIF for web-based work to TIFF, EPS, and PDF for print. However, when I’m delivering final files to clients, for most work I use the native PSD format. Here’s why:
As an illustrator, copyrighting your work is incredibly important. It provides a number of unique benefits and is relatively inexpensive. Unfortunately, it’s also misunderstood by a great number of people. The following highlights some basic information about copyright that every illustrator should know:
One of the most frequent questions I get from young or aspiring illustrators is about having multiple styles in a portfolio. While it’s true that you should have a consistent style, it doesn’t necessarily have to be limited to a single one if you know what you’re doing.
Book covers are a unique market for illustration, however not many illustrators know about the long, arduous road they go through to be produced. Since I’ve worked both in-house at publishers and on my own as an illustrator and art director, I thought I’d shed some light on that journey. [Note: I work mainly in YA, which is a little different than adult books, so there may be some discrepancies.]
Reader Wijtze Valkema writes in with the following question:
I was wondering if you ever run into the problem of having a project going in a direction that you don’t really want creatively, and how you deal with these projects. A project that sounds fun at first and just right up your alley in terms of style, but after a couple proposals the project turns into something you’re not happy with, or even think shouldn’t be known as your work. Do you quit? Do you finish it? Do you ask having your name removed from the credits? Does it hurt your style and name when your name is credited to a project you feel isn’t ‘you’ anymore? Does it hurt your relationship with the client when you quit half-way or finish it but want no name credit?
Unfortunately, this is all too common of a problem. One of the things that separates illustrators from fine artists is that we have clients that need to be pleased. And clients, sadly, can sometimes be wrong.