May 17, 2007

As a sidenote-

How did you get to this sort of business? I’m curious. Me, I wanted to be an artist as a kid, and then when I went to college illustration seemed like the most interesting to me subject-wise, but then I fell out of it for a year or so until I saw its potential. (Instead I fooled around with printmaking, which informed me greatly really) And then from there I just plunged in after school. But what about you? What drew you to illustration as a job possibility, even if you’re just freelancing a bit so far?

Also, I’m asking you for help here on a quandry: Do you have a email mailing list for your website? How do you run them? Do you use a separate program to use it, or do you compile email addresses by hand and mass email them? What works best? And how hard is it to put a form on your site that lets you sign up?

See, the main reason I’m asking this is because I did try this once, and I used a feature that was with my webhost that just let me implement a list. But I found out like less than a month into it that somehow it got hijacked and all the people on my mailing list got porn spammail. And quite obviously, I don’t want to do that again! But I would like to do a monthly newsletter thing to keep people updated with what’s new and try to keep work going that way. So if you have any tried and true ways to handle a mailing list without it devolving into spam, I would love to hear it!


20 Responses to “”

  1. Gina said

    I’m a 30 yr. old newbie. I started in computer animation. I had a nagging feeling I should have been an illo major in college but lacked the confidence/vision/experience to switch. The real short version my path is this: compositor/ games animator/ flash animator/ art store clerk(2001 was a rough year!)/ scrapbook designer/ scrapbookAD/ freelance illustrator. I’m now 5 months into trying to make illustration my full-time job. It’s been slow but it’s great to be on the right path now.

    I have a small mailing list in excel as I’m still just targeting kid’s publishers and manufacturers for art licensing. I keep detailed notes on what/when/response/who. Once I have an editorial portfolio, I imagine I’ll need a better system. Hoping someone makes a recommendation here I can look into.

    Loving your site, glad you’re back posting again!

  2. Nicole said

    Like Gina, I originally majored in animation, but switched to illustration halfway through when I realized I liked painting a lot more than animation.

    I just keep my mailing list of ADs in Outlook – I only really use it when I’m in need of more work, though, not to email site updates.

  3. Bjorn said

    I have always drew pictures. I remember I wanted to be a fireman and after that an illustrator. So from the time I was 10 years old I kew I wanted to become an illustrator, and here I am…

    I have an email list function on my website. It’s just a regular emailform that sends an email. I use Apple Mail to collect those emailaddresses in a seperate emailbox. I do need to add those addresses manually in Addressbook. There I’ve made a special category called ’emaillist’ where I keep all the addresses of people who subscribed to my emaillist.
    When I send out a newsletter I just add all of those addresses with one click in the ‘BCC’ texfield in Apple Mail.

    Now, I do not have a lot of subscribers. If you have a hundred of more addressees you must be carefull sending out such high number of mails fror own account. Some servers could see this activity as spam-activity and your server and address will be blacklisted.
    There are special companies who send out large volumes of mail (non-spam) but this will cost you.

  4. josh said

    The short version is theater major (directing and design) who became an stage manager, who became a VB programmer who became unemployed, who became a sys admin who very quickly became a grunt at a alt-weekly who as quickly as possible moved into the art department then moved out of the country and needed to freelance, soon (upon coming back to the country towards the end of summer) I’ll be lead designer for a small publishing company.

    Working in the art department at the paper was the first job I had that I loved even when it threatened to drive me mad, so I know that design/illustration/photography is where I want to stay…

  5. Donna said

    Like most others I knew when I was very young that I wanted to be an artist. Majored in illustration in art school but got caught up in graphic design as a more “practical” way to make a living. So I have a lot of experience doing technical illustrations but I’d like to move toward editorial and cut out the graphic design.

    I recently tried Constant Contact for an email campaign. ( They have templates that you can customize without having to figure out the html yourself. The thing I like best about them though is the tracking info. After sending your email you can track how many people have opened it, and how many clicked on a link from within the email. They used to have free accounts for mailing lists under 50 (or maybe it was 100) but now they’ve eliminated the free account option and will be charging $15 a month for 500 or less on your mailing list. $30/month for a list up to 2500. If you mail once a month I think it’s still a good deal. If you only mail quarterly it seems kind of expensive. I wish they had an option to just pay $15 per mailing.

  6. Karin said

    Ditto on most of the above answers – I always wanted to be an artist, and got a degree in illustration and design – now I’m somewhere between an artist who shows, a designer who is currently doing web design, and an illustrator as well! Can’t seem to stay in one box! Sometimes it makes me feel crazy and unsuccessful, because I know that the best way to make a living at any of these things is to focus on a style and stick with that one thing, and I am all over the place. But recently I’ve just accepted that’s how I work, and it keeps it fun for me!

    Anyway with the mailing list, I’ve used, a free mailing list service. However, recently when I tried to open a new list for a client, they didn’t send the password so I’m not sure what’s going on with them. So I found another free mailing list at, which is even better. If your list gets super huge, and are both great, though they have a monthly fee.
    Hope that helps!

  7. Another good email service that I’ve come across lately is It has a pretty nice pricing structure where you pay only for what you need when you need it.

  8. I am am just started to rebuild my freelance business after a decade break. I want to be able to spend more time working on art, and working from home.

    Thanks everyone for the advice on the mailinglists!

  9. Well, I knew since I was a little kid I wanted to draw pictures for a living. In fourth grade I saw my first comic book, and decided I wanted to be a comic book artist when I grew up! (I’ve since drawn several comic book series, and now I’m the artist on Little Orphan Annie — — as well as the creator of my own webcomic, Jazz Age — — so I managed to make that one come true.) But over time I realized I also wanted to do other kinds of freelance illustration. I went to a good art school (Tyler School of Art, Philadelphia) and I’ve been doing freelance illustration ever since, for 20 years now. Some years have been good, most have been lean.

    As for managing email address responses from my web site ( ) — I’ve never had any! I’ve had a web site up for years, and I hardly ever get emails from it. I just recently revamped the site, adding a blog and a new interface of samples, and I’m on a push to promote the site and get the word out. Maybe then I will have a problem with email responses — I hope!

  10. I’m only just getting into the business, or, I will be in a year. I’m an Illustration major, I’ll graduate next May. I decided that I wanted to major in Art my Junior year of high school. At that point I didn’t know that an Illustration major existed, but when I visited this school I saw it listed and I was like “ILLUSTRATION! That’s perfect!”, because I’ve always loved reading fiction, and in high school my friends and I would write stories, and I always loved drawing the characters.

  11. Like everyone else – I loved to draw and my Mom had me on a strict “great illos in great kids books” diet. I loved Maurice Sendak, Bill Peet and others (still do!).. Anyways, that gave way to drawing and hopes of a comic book job someday. In High School, I realized that I like to draw a tad more stylized than what was published in comics. In college I “remembered” my love for kids books and chose Illustration. I love type and graphic design too – so that’s how I ended up doing both.

    That I get a chance to draw dun stuff for a living is amazing. Good stuff.

    (The e-mail thing I’d be interested in knowing about… Not enough exp. yet.)

  12. Kim said

    I am a interactive art director at an ad agency by day and a freelance illustrator in my free time. I graduated with a BFA in Graphic Design, Painting and Illustration from Savannah College of Art and Design in 1990. I have always known that I was going to be an illustrator and designer. I never even thought about doing anything else.

    I used to have an e-commerce site where I sold my paintings, custom furniture and jewelry. I had a email list when I did that. But, nowadays, the spam factor causes people to unsubscribe.

    The best way to do an e-newsletter is to use once you have a list. I use several sites like to compile my contact’s email addresses along with my regular contacts that I have had for years. The best way I have found to keep readers informed is to use Feedblitz email subscribtion service on your blog. I got rid of my form page on my personal site. I have been a web designer and developer since 1993, and nobody really ever uses form pages anymore. This info comes from our usability research and competitive analysis from several different industries. It’s still important to have a form page … but, people don’t use them much anymore with the proliferation of RSS feeds.

  13. Totally off topic here and feel free to delete this but it’s a real shame this site has fallen by the wayside, I thought you had some very interesting things to say about getting into the industry and as an illustration student I found this site a must read!

    As far as what got me into illustration, I had always wanted to be a graphic designer yet when I started my art education seriously I found I my response to briefs turned out to be more image based. Looking around at the summer shows while I was choosing which university to go to, I found that I was drawn to the illustration degrees or to the illustrative work on graphic design degrees more than any other work. Finding the illustration degree at my university and feeling a “fit” with it any myself was the final sign.

  14. Bradford said

    Hi Meg!

    Much like Tony, I miss the posts. I know all too well how much blogs can become lots of work in and of themselves. But, I hope that you’re just taking an extended break because you’re in high demand! Will keep checking back ’cause the blog is awesome!

  15. These are interesting questions and I read the responses with interest. For me the thought of having to constantly market myself and my inability to settle on just one style, has kept me from freelancing until now. I fell into cooking and managed to land an art instruction gig, both pursuits I enjoyed for a time but ultimately I want to create images, explore creativity, and learn new things, and not be bound to a 9 to 5 job. It’s taken me this long to finally be fed up to the point where I’m forcing myself to learn the computer skills I missed out on and to market myself, another big adventure.

    I have to say I love the detail and originality of your work, thanks for posting, this is a great blog!

  16. Aimée said

    I just always did art from a very young age. Never went to art school because I just did it anyway. Now at 27 I’m trying to make a go at my favourite thing sans resentment – only love.

    A great open source emailer is PHP List.

    Just go, check it out, download and follow instructions. We use it at my other work and I send newsletters to around 6000 people every month so it’s trustworthy, customizable to your site if you want, and users can manage themselves if you want too.

    Try it!

  17. Raia said

    Wanna have fun go to my site

  18. jeremy said

    I’m an animator, but I’m drawn to illustration because it seems more free. Also it seems quicker. I have too many ideas to have to dwell on them for a month while I animate them. Also, I like illustration because it’s not completely in bed with advertising like graphic design is. I hate advertising.

  19. WAM said

    GReat Blog
    Curious when I next update will be.

    GReat work too.


  20. Jerome said

    How I wish I could also do technical stuff about animation. I love watching animated movies and hoped i would do it by myself. I like the content of this blog. Look forward to reading more of your postings.Congratulations.

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