Monday, February 28, 2011

EFII Podcast - Episode 72

Thomas James, Editor of Escape from Illustration Island interviewed me for his podcast earlier this month. It was a thoroughly painless process over Skype and we covered a lot of ground including my thoughts on promotion, web sites, competitions and as Thomas says,"the virtues of running an effective creative business." Thanks Thomas for the interview.

Emily Carr Visits

We were delighted to have twenty students from Emily Carr University in Vancouver visit the studio last week. A group of three instructors headed up by Durwin Talon brought the students to Brooklyn for the afternoon. These will be the first graduates of the new illustration program headed up by Durwin.

This is the largest group we've had to date and space was tight. We had a discussion about the industry, reviewed a number of portfolios and answered questions. Each student was given a copy of last year's 3x3 Illustration Directory and quite a number of the students purchased our new book, Nuts & Bolts: A blueprint for a successful illustration career. And they blew me away when they asked for an autographed copy!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Applied Arts Winner

We just received notice that Lasse Skarbövik's cover for our Issue 14 was a winner in this year's Applied Arts Illustration and Photography Show. Congratulations Lasse!

Where Has All the Creativity Gone?

A little something that came across my desk:

New York, NY  – Reports have been flowing in from academic circles, news magazines, and authors that American kids are no longer as creative as they once were. As a nation obsessed with numbers, data, and test scores, seeing the decline in kids’ scores on measures of creativity has caused concern for our children and the future of our country.  In his article, “Recreating Creativity in our Children and Ourselves,” Dr. Michaelis, a New York-based clinical psychologist, provides useful tips to help us recreate our creativity.

Dr. Michaelis, who specializes in helping patients achieve mental health and well-being through creative expression, examines the “culprits” that limit our creativity: reliance on video games and an overemphasis in making money. He also provides recommendations on how to overcome these obstacles in order to be more creative, productive, and happy.

He advocates taking an approach to limiting exposure to video games and spending more time encouraging active innovation. Michaelis says, “Consuming media is fine, but it should be done in balance with active creative production.”

The other creativity-limiting offender is an overemphasis on our narrow definition of success, which is defined in monetary terms. Our kids have become trained to focus their sights on a linear and conventional model of success: “Most middle class kids are taught to believe that if you get into Harvard you can get an MBA from Wharton and then you can make a six- or seven- figure salary and live happily ever after.” “In pushing this limited idea of achievement, we de-emphasize non-linear and non-traditional ways of thinking.  Innovation, unless it serves the end of making money, is discouraged.”

Reclaim your creative edge
To help regain innovative thinking and creativity, Dr. Michaelis provides proven techniques to help jump-start your creativity:

            Inspire curiosity and imagination: Bring your kids into new environments, get them to try new foods or learn about different cultures.

            Do something creative every day: Try to make things with your kids or encourage them to use their imagination during daily activities.

            Promote Active Problem Solving: Challenge your kids to think of solutions to everyday problems to get them to work their brain muscles in order to broaden their ways of thinking.

Bringing creativity into your life and your kids’ lives is  useful for helping to lead richer and more interesting lives and it’s also a lot more fun.

For additional suggestions on how to share daily creativity with your children, visit “Sharing Creative Time With Our Kids.”

Another Way to Get Inside an Ad Agency

Frustrated by the weekly onslaught of mailers from photographers and illustrators, a group of US ad creatives have set up an online alternative. "Our creative department gets about 60 lbs of paper promos a month from illustrators and photographers, most of which ends up in the trash," says Lance Vining, an associate creative director/art director at an agency in San Francisco.

To discourage the use of paper promos, Vining and a group of friends launched as a side project to showcase the work of illustrators and photographers in the hope that they would use the site instead of sending out printed materials. "The only thing we ask of the artists whose work we display is that they agree to significantly reduce the amount of paper promos they send to ad agencies," Vining says.

This gives a good idea on what art directors in ad agencies receive, standing out from the crowd is always difficult, promotion is key to your success as an illustrator. And you're not only competing against other illustrators but photographers as well. Keep in mind there is no one single way to promote to art directors. A mix of online and print materials is the best tact—always staying in front of potential buyers is the best way to get noticed, remembered and sought out. Going green is a good idea but remember you're still in the masses, you need to find avenues to approach art directors and art buyers from many directions, not just one or two. And while the sound of "free" sounds good, the adage still applies, you get what you pay for. Going green doesn't necessarily mean you're earning more green.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

HOW Int'l Design Awards: 3rd Year in a Row

We just got our complimentary copy of the HOW Magazine 2011 International Design Awards and once again 3x3 is among the winners. And not just one winner, but three winners: Our 3x3 Directory: ILLO 10 and Issue 13, 14 and the 3x3 Annual No. 6 . Also among the winners was a series of issues of our sister publication, Creative Quarterly.

This is the third year in a row that 3x3 has been honored by HOW and what makes it especially gratifying that our series of magazines were honored. As a judge I know how rare that is, too many times one or two of the three entries are great but the remaining are less so which will nix the entry—these judges saw strength in all issues.

What’s also gratifying is that our judges are being exposed to the best illustrators around, as they thumb through the entries they had to be impressed by the quality and diversity of the work they were seeing. In our magazine, our annual and our directory. These are not only design awards for us, these are big announcements that illustration is alive and well and thriving. Since in each of publications illustration is king, not design, the very fact that judges three years in a row have honored us speaks well of the illustration industry.

We’re only as good as the work we present. Our cover artists James Yang—ILLO 10, Nick Dewar—Issue 13, Lasse Skarbövik—Issue 14 and Marco Wagner—3x3 Annual certainly caught the attention of the judges as they sifted through the thousands of entries and provided a welcome greeting to what was inside. The judges had to be impressed with our publications cover-to-cover for them to receive this honor, so a great big thank you to them, and to all that were represented in our winning entries for making us look good.

There were only 272 winners this year. This year’s judges included Clinti Runge, co-founder and creative director of Archrival whose clients include Red Bull, State Farm, Foursquare and Pabst Brewing; Richard Westendorf, executive creative director of Landor Associates who works on Kraft Foods, KFC, Wrigley and Procter & Gamble and Michael Osborne, president and creative director of Michael Osborne Design that works on the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum and the Smithsonian.

Friday, February 4, 2011

For What It's Worth 27

I ran across this interesting article "Professional is Spelled with 5 P's" and wanted to share it with you:

The difference between successful business people, entrepreneurs, athletes, authors – anyone, and those who are not successful is not talent. The difference is the guts to move forward, to take intelligent risks, to try, to work harder than anyone else to become a true professional.

It is a fact that every industry has its share of immensely successful people, its share of abject failures, and a whole lot of people in between. The individual success of the people in most industries can be plotted on a classic bell curve, where the great percentages fall directly in the middle. Exactly how, then, does someone move from the majority in the middle of the pack to that select group who have reached the top of their profession?

Professional athletes will tell you that the difference between first place and second place or success and “failure” is incredibly small. At the Daytona 500, the premier NASCAR stock car race, between 1995 and 2004, the average margin of victory was only 0.241 seconds! The difference between first place money and second place money – a whopping $452,116. That means the additional prize money for finishing first was an astounding 68%. In the Winter Olympics in 2002, the difference between a gold medal and NO medal in the men’s downhill skiing event was 0.65 seconds. Small improvements can make a huge difference.

So, how can you become a successful professional in your job and your life? It starts with small improvements. You simply need to focus on the five fundamental P’s.

1.     Purpose: Seeking, and recognizing, opportunities to serve others is your starting point. Start by figuring out who you work for. It is your company? No. Is it your manager? No. Is it your boss? No. It’s your spouse, your family, your customer, or your co-workers. Human beings are social animals and have a fundamental need to contribute to something greater than themselves. Your job, whatever it is, is about providing a product or service to other people for their benefit. Your joy and success will come when you know that you have helped someone else out. Sit down and write out your goals. Are they about you or are they the results of serving others?
2.     Preparation: Be the best you can be! Read everything you can. Learn from others. Learn something new every day. Listen, you might learn something. Keep an open mind. The time to prepare is before your opportunity comes. Once that opportunity has presented itself, it’s too late to prepare.
3.     People: Surround yourself with good people. Your performance and your reputation are, most often, determined by the people with whom you have aligned your life. Your bosses, co-workers, subordinates, mentors, coaches, teammates, and friends all have a huge impact on your ultimate success. Choose those people wisely and be fiercely loyal to them. They will be the foundation to your ultimate success. Show them you care about them by asking them about them! Then shut up and listen to the answers. Care about them and they will care about you.
4.     Priorities: Focus on the fundamentals and the results will take care of themselves. Start each day with a simple written list of what you plan to accomplish - today. Make time to do the things that contribute to your purpose and your goals. Remember that if you don’t have time to do it right, what makes you think that you have time to do it over? Learn to adapt to your changing environment. Maintain a controlled sense of urgency. Being prompt, being reliable, and contributing to your team will go a long way to ensure your success.
5.     Persistence: Maintain a positive mental attitude. Your attitude is a choice you make each and every day. Choose to be positive. Don’t get bogged down in negative thinking. The past is just that – passed. The future is always a question mark. What, specifically, can you do TODAY to continue toward your Purpose?

How many people do you know that wake up in the morning and ask themselves, “how can I fail today?” Probably none. People fail because they haven’t focused on their Purpose. Or they haven’t prepared themselves to take advantage of the opportunities. Or they have made poor choices in the People with whom they associate. They may have lost sight of their Priorities. Or, they’ve given up and failed to be Persistent.

So, “professional,” in any endeavor, is spelled with 5 p’s – Purpose, Preparation, People, Priorities, and Persistence. Focus on those 5 p’s and you will find the success you seek.

James S. Bain, MBA, is an author, speaker, consultant, and coach. He is the founder of the Falcon Performance Institute, a consulting and corporate training firm focused on productive performance.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

3x3 Directory 2011 Arrives

We just got word that our new 3x3 Illustration Directory has arrived from Shanghai and will be at our distributor  ready for mailing next week. There are a lot of marketing opportunities out there, how is the 3x3 Illustration Directory different?

First, it only features the artists that I personally select either from the 3x3 ProShow entries or from those who have been featured in our magazine making it much more like a curated show than most similar advertising vehicles. My belief is that our audience responds better to collections of really good work than from pure advertising. And the design is fresh and inviting, only one image per page.

Secondly, we make it easier for art directors to find illustrators. We divide the Directory into specific categories: conceptual, whimsical, decorative, fashion, figurative, children's, animal, landscape, medical and lettering and maps. As a former advertising agency art director and creative director I know the value of getting something like this.

Lastly, we will be limiting our distribution to a core of 6,000 art directors and art buyers in the New York City tri-state area plus key markets outside of New York. We've hand-selected our audience based on their interest in illustration. Our list includes those individuals in advertising, editorial, publishing, corporate and entertainment industries. The Directory will be given away free to our audience and also includes an on-line element with direct links to the illustrator's site.

The Directory is a soft-bound book, 6x9-inches and has the look and feel of our 3x3 ProShow annuals. The size allows art directors to browse through it over their lunch hour or take it home with them on the subway or train. We've received many compliments on the size of our annual so it made sense to follow that direction with the Directory. And our website has direct links to each artist's site. This year's Directory is 400 pages and features 270 illustrators from all over the globe.

You must be an art director, art buyer, creative director, graphic designer or editor to receive a complimentary copy, go to and request to be added to our list—just click the request a copy link. We will have a limit number of copies available. Our new group will be uploaded shortly but you can take a look at last year's now.

Cover illustration by Serge Seidlitz

Belvedere Gives 3x3 Top Art Magazine Award

The Belvedere Visual Magazine + Art Book Festival named 3x3 Magazine as one of the top international art publications. Held in Rome, the Festival included magazine showcases and workshops. This is the second annual gathering and the results of the event are published in a hardbound book which presents the covers and sample spreads from all 120 winners. The book is being distributed by A.I.E. Agenzia Italiana di Esportazione. Our sister publication, Creative Quarterly, was also selected.