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Joan Lee <[log in to unmask]>
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SciArt-L Discussion List-for Natural Science Illustration- <[log in to unmask]>
Mon, 23 Feb 2009 13:47:53 -0500
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If you have just graduated, don't forget the college's alumni  
association; they or the college itself often help graduates find  
jobs. Taking related but not exactly in your area jobs are sometimes a  
good way to break in; you take the job and let everyone know what you  
are aiming for.
Example: one of my first illustration jobs was drawing slicks for a  
major hardware company's catalog. It gave me a lot of practice doing  
good work fast, taught me some good business insight, and from it I  
moved on to a better job as assistant art director. Sometimes the step  
by step method works. At other times, if you have all the confidence  
in the world you can walk into a place where you want to work and ask  
to speak to the person in charge of what you do (of course, you have  
researched the people before contacting them). This method gives you  
some practice in your art work, introduces you to the world of  
business, and that is a solid foundation on which to later open your  
own freelance business. You literally got paid for learning. At one  
time that was how most illustrators worked. They learned the ropes  
with a company, started freelancing on the side, eventually switched  
to total independence.

If, on the other hand, you want to jump right into freelancing, I  
would suggest you either take some business courses, one of which will  
be in risk management, or buy some excellent used text books and teach  
yourself about business structure and practices. Subscribe to Nolo  
(free on the web). Make friends with your state arts agency,  
especially the Lawyers for the Visual Arts. (They often give great  
free seminars in copyright and all legal issues that affect  
illustrators.) Always check that your ambitions and your books are in  
balance. By books I mean your financial records.

Most of all, do your best as always, and hang in there.

On Feb 23, 2009, at 11:59 AM, Britt Griswold wrote:

> Cheryl McCutchan wrote:
>> Hi All,
>>    I have been following this discussion and have found it very  
>> helpful.  I just joined the Guild and have been reading the  
>> listserv for about a year now.  I'm a fledgling scientific  
>> illustrator and am feeling a bit clueless about how to run my  
>> business.  The differing points of view expressed on the listserv  
>> are some of the most useful I've come across.  Thanks for being so  
>> forthcoming with your advice.
>>    I've got a question for the many professional illustrators out  
>> there.  I'm not sure if this should have a new subject line but  
>> here goes anyway.  How did you go about getting your first job?   
>> Any advice?
>> Thanks,
>> Cheryl
> Getting a first job is always hard.  Part of it is being in the  
> right place.  Being around people who do what you do and others who  
> need what you do.
> My experience is that most jobs come by word of mouth.  Show others  
> what you can do and then you have a bunch of free agents out there  
> who see possibilities and recommend you, or get word back to you to  
> follow up on a possibility.
> Sometime to get into the right place so you can see a job or  
> assignment possibility, you have to volunteer in an organization  
> that does what you want to do or works with the subject matter that  
> interests you.  If you gain some subject expertise and convert that  
> to images, people will notice.  The downside is if you give away to  
> much of your time as a volunteer, an organization will expect all  
> your efforts to be free, so you have to limit the art volunteering  
> you are able to do.  Other volunteer skills are fine to use at will,  
> but once they know you can do something art-wise, find excuses not  
> to do more of art unless they have some money to put to it.
> Britt