Three other illustrators also spoke to our class at BYU. Jed Henry was one. He was in Rick’s class a year ago. He actually took Rick’s PB class twice. He broke into illustration because he randomly got an email from a company in Virginia that saw his work on his blog. Since then, he retained an art rep who is getting him work. Jed was an animation major in college then jumped to being an illustrator where he’s learned about book design. He said getting an agent/art rep made him believe in himself.
Take away tip: Blog!
Julie Olsen graduated from BYU in 1998. She took a more traditional route to becoming an illustrator because she started before a lot of the newer technology. She said she pedaled her portfolio in New York City. She worked without an agent for about 10 years. When her child started kindergarten, she got an agent. She explained that an illustrator’s agents get 25%, but she thinks it is worth it. Julie, Jed and Nathan all have the same art rep. She’s done a lot of educational books. She also illustrated Rick’s book, Herd of Cows, Flock of Sheep. Julie loves visiting schools. She got her first picture book job, Hip, Hip Hooray for Annie McRae, from sending out postcards. She sends them out regularly. Sometimes it takes years before she hears back from a postcard.
Take away tip: Keep constant contact information. She said it is also good to have a website.
Greg Newbold arrived later and was the last one to speak. He teaches in the illustration department at BYU. He uses traditional medium and is known for his painting The Touch of the Master’s Hand. He said the first book job he took paid crummy, but he took it anyway because he knew he’d get lots of jobs from it, and he did.
Take away tip: Small successes can create bigger successes.