Sunday, April 6, 2008

Steve Harris

I did this some time ago, I think this is about the time when I started to learn how to paint on the computer or taking an interest. Still really proud of this one, Steve Harris from Iron Maiden.


Allan Burch said...

Thanks Matt. And, great stuff you've posted! The Steve Harris piece is killer. I love the energy that shines through in your work. You've captured some great tension as well as the intensity in his face.

Allan Burch said...

Wow, that's even more impressive, knowing you illustrated him with a mouse! I couldn't imagine, now, working without my Wacom.

I got started in the field by trickling into it. In college, I developed a minor rapport with one of the local magazines and fortunately received a couple of jobs from them. Shortly thereafter, I put an ad in a directory called RSVP. I'm not sure it they are even still around these days. From that, I landed a single magazine job with Bicycling Magazine. Then, I scraped together enough money to advertise on and landed the Science Magazine job you might remember from my blog post. From there, I received more magazine portrait jobs and a few editorial-type (conceptual) illustrations for magazines. It kept, slowly, snowballing, mainly due to my on-line and print advertising. Much of it has been magazines. Working for magazines hasn't been something I've set out to do exclusively. I think they are more open to new talent, and my portraits filled a need -- to which I'm quite grateful. I just happened to come up in the right searches to the right art directors.

The book projects I've done have been a result of my print directories and web advertising.

I think the best way to target magazines is to find a select few you'd like to work for and send regular mailers, showcasing work that would fit their niche. Marketing is as much an art as a science, and I'm still trying to figure it out.

Self-publishing is a good way to show your artistry, as well as your thinking and ideas. I really haven't done any to speak of, so I can't really speak from experience. I'm sure there are plenty of pros and cons, but the internet has provided a plethora of ways to get your name out there. The trick is getting it to the quality people.

What I would recommend toward getting started is spending some time in the library and/or Barnes and Noble and researching magazines that use illustration and uses work that's up your alley. As mentioned, I think magazines are more open to hiring artists who aren't stars, on the whole, since the investment isn't as high as something with a greater fee attached. You could also pick up a Communication Arts Illustration Annual or other annual and research the clients that use work that is in the same vein as yours and market to them. Same with book illustration. Print up some postcards every 2-3 months and mail them out to your list. Even a follow-up phone call can prove beneficial. has a free "phonebook" directory, with many listings and addresses of art directors and people in a host of other categories. But the bottom line is small and targeted.

Networking is huge these days. Professional sites like, and others that seem to be popping up hourly are doing so for a reason. It's all part of the networking/social expression boom. I've found them to be beneficial, and a necessity these days, at least for someone like me who lives in a rural area, away from the meccas of publishing. Plus, most of them are free, and gives you some great opportunities to get your name in front of some quality people and also meet some of them -- even land some projects.

That's my 2 cents. I hope it proves helpful.


Allan Burch said...

Thanks, Matt, for your comment. I'd be sunk if Canson ever discontinued that paper! Things are super-busy on this end. I've got 4 more of those portraits, plus several other jobs stacked up for this weekend. I might have to bring back the all-nighter. But, that'll give me good fodder for future blog posts.