Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Aspiring Comic Book Artists - Elevate Your Portfolio

Written by: Vince Hernandez, Vice President, Editor-in-Chief at ASPEN COMICS

Aspiring artists, here are few tips that will help elevate your portfolio and overall presentation when submitting to comic book publishers.

Please note: these tips are for submitting to professional comic book publishers, not book/graphic design/production company art gigs. This is strictly for breaking into comics:
First, let your art do most of the talking but make sure you know precisely what your art says. What do I mean? Put your best examples of solid storytelling into your sequential art samples. Make sure the samples emphasize your strengths, not your weaknesses. Editors will find out those soon enough. Trust me.
Make sure to include 2-4 pages of solid sequential art storytelling. NO PINUPS, and absolutely try your best to cater your samples to the publisher you’re submitting to. Understand what their market demographic is and put your samples in front of the right publisher that would realistically hire you because you fit into their demo. As much as you think a publisher will change their business model because your experimental art is just that amazing—the real world doesn’t work that way.
Include the following tests of your skills to show in your samples and you can’t go wrong, even if you’re not good enough: storytelling, anatomy, emotion, perspective, composition, lighting and word balloon placement.
Avoid the following subjects in samples as they don’t provide a good evaluation to editors of your skills: monsters/creatures, your own characters that you made up, robots and experimental artistic styles that you don’t see on comic book stands every day.
Don’t try to be more than you are. What do I mean? If you want to be a penciler STOP coloring your own work if you’re not a pro-level colorist. You’re only making your work seem less professional. Seriously. I see this too much.
Make sure your contact info is clearly legible and that you have at least a working business email and/or a website that editors can find if they want to see more of your art. Here’s a secret—we will check on our own. DeviantArt is a fine replacement for a personal website but for the love of all that is good in the world PLEASE put your email contact somewhere on there where it’s easy to find. If I told you how many lost opportunities arose from me giving up on finding a contact email you’d cringe. 
When submitting a sample in person at a convention here’s a few tips to avoid: Never tell me that you made the copies of your work the night before the con. I hear this so often and all it tells me is that you suck at preparation and will probably do the same if I hire you.
Never provide incomplete samples and tell me you’re still working on them. Why this happens often I’ll also never understand. 
Anything more than 6 pages of sequential art is too much, and the editor reviewing your samples is thinking this with each additional page turn. 

"Stop with the pinups, seriously."

When given advice or critique on a page, don’t be that person that always gives an excuse as to why you did something. I’ve heard every excuse under the sun and none of them ever stack up. Just take the advice or pretend like you’re listening, both will net better results than anything you come up with.
Understand that editors receive hundreds of samples a week ON TOP of our regular workload which is a lot. So patience is key, and impatience will wreck your reputation fast.
Most importantly remember that no matter how great your art is, we still hire people we WANT to work with, so check your ego at the door.

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