Tuesday, June 9, 2009

For What It's Worth No. 4

Today's subject is about something that's been concerning me lately, Blogs and Blog-lite.

This is one of the times of the year that I'm immersed in illustrator web sites. Clicking on links in IllustrationMundo. com looking for new artists. Adding artists to my favorites list. And inviting a few to join the next issue's Gallery or Showcase. It's been about six months since I've been so devoted at looking for new artists--though I'm always on the outlook.

There seems to be a disturbing trend towards the use of blogs or blog-like sites and away from the traditional web sites. This has plusses and minuses, but as you can tell I'm none too thrilled with the approach. You must remember I'm spending a great part of my day doing nothing but looking for artists, that's a truly unique position. An art director or art buyer won't spend this kind of time, nor will they try to figure out an illustrator's site.

Sure on a blog it's good to not have to wait for images to load, to see images larger than normal, but you're forcing me...and art directors...to scroll down the page to look at your work. Two things are going to happen, we won't scroll all the way to the bottom and we'll make a judgement on the first two or three pieces we see--which may or may not be your best work. And we're not going to read any text. Whereas when you show us the traditional thumbnail images, cropped or not, we can select random images to look at. While we may not look at more than three or four images, depending on how much time we have, but chances are better that we're walking away with a better understanding on who you are as an artist.

One good thing about a blog-like site has is that it is not over-designed. You wouldn't believe how many ultra-designed illustrator sites there out there. Great work, lousy navigation, slow loading times and total confusion. There was one site where the homepage is this pattern of lovely houses against a red background. I couldn't find a link to the work to save me. I clicked here, I clicked there but finally in frustration I just left the site. I gave it a chance, an art director will not; they'll give you about a second to get your navigation so they can find your work or leave. A lost opportunity for you. No work is so great that we're going to labor over looking at it. Art directors just don't have that kind of time, even the art directors who love illustration. Remember we're trying to grow the market, to reach art directors who are not using illustration, or using too little.

Overall most illustrator sites have way too much design to them. Art directors are not hiring you to design, they are hiring you to communicate. And a good test for that is how well you communicate with them. Through your web site, through your conversations. Keep blogs like you would a diary, share those with your friends and family, but don't try to use them as a marketing tool unless you are good friends with the art director you hope will hire you. And make it dead-simple for us to see your work, chances are better you might get an assignment. Don't make it simple and you're dead-certain not to.


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