Monday, April 30, 2012

3x3 Subscription Price Increase
Prompts New Digital Subscriptions

Due to increased postage cost, new pricing is in effect. To offset this increase, especially for our foreign subscribers who are affected the most, we are now offering both print and digital subscriptions as well as single-copy issues in both formats.

As you know there is less cost in producing a digital issue and our plan going forward is to add more content to our digital issues, but at the moment we’re taking baby steps. The problem becomes how much people are willing to pay for a high-end niche publication. The cost of mailing a subscription outside North American has increased to the point that we felt it necessary to make this offer; there is no end in sight for increased postage costs. Our hope is that with our lower cost digital editions we will be able to reach more international subscribers. Within North American we have absorbed the cost difference but we cannot with our international pricing. We’ve looked at a lighter weight stock—at the moment our publication weighs one-pound (.4536kg)—or fewer pages, neither option was seriously considered.

All publications are facing a tough future as major chains reduce their shelf space, especially for art and design publications. The option for digital subscriptions and single-copy sales is still too new to see how this will impact the industry, but the fact of the matter is that the reduced cost—literally half the cover price must be offset with an increased subscriber base. The design and production costs are the same to produce any publication and even within the current publishing/bookstore partnership, publishers receive less than half of the cover price and must pay a fee, annual advertising costs and shipment to the main distributor and then to all bookstores—the end result is very little goes to profit. And the digital environment is not much better and in many cases worse. Signing up with a digital distributor looks promising in the beginning but after the substantial discounts, the initial fee for adding the publication to the “newsstand” and the cut Apple takes with each issue a publisher is left with pennies. To offset this publishers hope to increase digital distribution two-fold or more, this is where the outlook is cloudy. We’re all too new to this to forecast what the results will be and niche publications, especially ones with little or no advertising inside like ours, have a tougher challenge.

At the moment our digital subscription is only available for use on your desktop or laptop. An iPad app is coming as soon as we determine which route to take, to offer one ourselves or to go through a distributor.

Digital subscribers will receive a link to download each issue when it is published. With this approach, piracy is a problem. Sharing this link with anyone is in violation of the Digital Millenium Copyright Act and will result in termination of the subscription and further legal action. An app will avoid this complication but both forms will be necessary as we know people like to look at magazines on their computer as well as their tablet.

We hope you’ll consider supporting our new digital subscriptions, especially if you’re located outside North America, or you’re a student as there is a cost savings. And we hope that more of you will opt for our printed magazine, there’s nothing quite like the smell of ink on paper.

Subscribe today!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012


In this age, Illustration and design can be a lonely profession. Though the digital revolution has given us speed and the ability to live and work anywhere we choose, it has made true community a rare commodity.

ICON's programming promises to educate, inform, and inspire, but it is the rare energy of a shared experience that will launch countless creative projects and life-long connections. We hope that you’ll join us for a true community experience, where 500 illustrators, designers and image makers come together for a jam-packed weekend marinating with imaginative and inspirational speakers from many different creative fields.

Come to ICON and reunite with old friends and make some new ones.

Come to ICON and see works you’ve never seen before.

Come to ICON and learn about new business practices and experiment with new media.

Come to ICON and chat with that illustrator you’ve always wanted to meet.

Come to ICON and be inspired!

Early Bird tickets still available—limited to 100

June 13-16

Illustration by Chris Buzelli

Thursday, April 12, 2012

For What It's Worth 33

As I sat down to write the editorial for Issue 18 I became conscious of just how much has changed since I began my career as an illustrator that led to a career as a graphic designer and eventual ad agency creative director and business owner.

I’m going to sound really old right now but this was the time before computers and even fax machines. We made appointments by phone. We carried large portfolios that also served as delivery envelopes. Work was presented directly to the client—both the roughs and the finish. The art was prepared on a surface—hot or cold watercolor paper, vellum, paperboard, canvas—that would then be photographed by a large camera prior to assembly at the printer or publisher’s facility. Handwork was the modus operandi of the day from the artist to the printer. Type was handset. And then hand-sliced, sometimes word for word, line by line, to get the best kerning and rag. We used wall-mounted Artographs and stats to size both type and imagery for comps and reproduction. Film was hand-stripped.

Back then designers were more commonly called commercial artists, which also encompassed those graphic artists working directly for printers and publishers. Walking away from the term commercial artist was the first major step in establishing graphic design as a more specialized part of the graphic arts.

As a designer there were primo jobs to be had, newsletters, annual reports, corporate brochures, album covers, posters, book covers. Budgets were good, i.e. you could actually make a living designing newsletters. These were not your everyday corporate communications tools, these were conceptual and colorful and expensive to produce. That all changed. Enter Pagemaker and the CEO could have his secretary “produce” the newsletter. Those projects disappeared. As did annual reports. Album covers became CD covers and are now reduced to postage stamp- size images on iTunes. Social media takes the place of many branding projects. YouTube is now an advertising media for new products. The projects are dwindling for everyone.

As we head further into a totally digital world I contend design will take a backseat, but illustration won’t. Where once I thought being a designer had many more advantages with not only the type of projects but also the budgets, my feeling today is that design will continue to shrink, illustration will expand. Why the optimism? The market will crave images and those that will be doing the craving will be without a resource. Except for hiring illustrators.

Look no further than the area of game design, 3-D movies, apps and information graphics, which are totally illustrated. Think somebody’s secretary can do that? Art trumps design in all these areas. And if designers can’t draw they’re missing out on tomorrow’s opportunities; illustrators aren’t. The bottom line is that the future of illustration is brighter than any time in the past. We will be able to charge more for what we do because we’ve combined the essence of design and illustration into a new art form. We’ll stop referring to what we do by traditional classifications; we won't be designers or illustrators, we’re now visual communicators.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

3x3 Nuts & Bolts Conference 2012

We’re ready to start promoting this year’s 3x3 Nuts & Bolts Conference, the conference for grads and recent grads that we hold each July at the Society of Illustrators. This intense two-day event will explore the ins-and-outs of promotion, provide self-defense tips on how to protect an artist’s work, give direction on building a stronger web presence and share the three things every successful illustrator knows as well as the do’s and don’ts of being a young illustrator.

We’ve lined up an impressive list of speakers who will talk about developing a good mailing list, moving between commissioned illustration and galleries, and about getting published—either self-published zines, comics or children’s books. We’ll cover the subjects of artist representation, reading and writing contracts and offer marketing and portfolio tips as well as look at the future of illustration. Their talks with be both instructional and inspirational; it’s no wonder that when polled past attendees gave it their 100% recommendation—check out their actual quotes on our site.

And as it’s our third annual conference we continue to make improvements.

First we’ve added a day to visit artist’s studios and a chance to sit in on the Society of Illustrator’s Sketch Night. We’ve added smaller breakout sessions that balance our full-day lecture series. Our lectures are shorter and more focused leaving more time for questions. We’ll offer on-the-spot portfolio reviews. And yet we’ve still managed to keep the costs reasonable, conferences like this can cost twice as much or more but our goal is to make this information accessible to the most people we can.

Sitting is limited and an early registration discount is available so if you’re a grad, recent grad or even a senior this conference is for you. For more details or to register head to our website, just click the link below.

Nuts & Bolts Conference
July 13-14
Society of Illustrators
New York, NY

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Emiliano Ponzi@The New York Times

If you’re in the city or going to be stop by Emiliano Ponzi’s exhibit at The New York Times on April 12 between 7 and 9pm. You’ll need to RSVP to attend.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Issue 18 Heads to the Printer

We’re happy to report that the next issue of 3x3 is off to the printer and is a special issue on picture book illustrators.

Our featured illustrators include Michael Slack, Christiane Beauregard and Jaime Zollars; our Icon is Eric Carle and we have a Gallery full of international illustrators that include Jim Paillot, Pieter Van Eenoge, Lisa Cinar, Sara Gillingham, Bob Daly, Sara Woolley, Peter Farncis, Dan Bob Thompson, Shaw Nielsen, Bill Mayer, Gloria Pizzilli, Bellebrute, Carolina Farias, Sonia Kretschman, YoungJu Kim, Steve Simpson, Isabella Kung, Jannie Ho and Constanze von Kitzing.

CareerTalk points out ways to approach children’s book editors and art directors. Our profile is of Scholastic creative director David Saylor. And our survey about illustrator confidence and an op-art piece by Guy Billout round out this issue.

Issue 18 will be on newsstands in mid-April in North America and late-April in the UK, Europe and Asia. Single copies will be available in print and digital form on our site soon.

Cover illustration by Michael Slack