Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Hively Speaks at MECA

Being on vacation in Maine has its perks, certainly lobster and more lobster and tons of seafood was there for the taking but towards the end of the trip I had an added treat to speak at the Maine College of Art in Portalnd. Thanks to Jamie Hogan for setting this up and the wonderful poster and for Scott Nash, the new department chair and Jamie for making it all possible.

The talk was a shortened version of my lecture at our annual Nuts & Bolts Conference and the bulk was taken from a chapter in my book, Nuts & Bolts.

It’s always good to get in front of students as they’re entering their senior year or those who have just graduated. There is so little time to cover the basics of being an illustrator in any classroom, and what I’ve found is that the focus is so much on each assignment and creating a singular voice that it leaves little time to think about what it’s going to be like once they’re out of school. As those who’ve heard me speak will say, I don’t sugar-coat anything but at the same time it’s not meant to discourage anyone, it’s to better prepare them before or right after graduation.

Too many make too many mistakes entering the field of illustration which contributes to the low number who actually continue in the profession. One in eighty graduates are still practicing illustrators two years after graduation and an even smaller percentage are actually making a living as an illustrator. Too often they neglect the simple acts of promotion whether it’s their web site, their portfolio or even something as simple as their email address. It all leads to fewer young illustrators making it once outside the classroom. Our Conference, book and talks are all geared towards changing the dynamics, to offer more counsel in what it takes to make it in the real world.

Illustrators are not alone in this, graduates of most programs have no clue about working in their chosen field but unlike other professions, illustrators are on their own right out of school. They are charged with being business owners as there are only a fraction of jobs where they might land in what might be called a safe harbour. Design graduates go to work for design firms, ad agencies or the corporate environment, illustrators don’t have that luxury. Very few designers start a business right out of school, all illustrators do. It’s not the fault of the educational system necessarily for the ill-preparation of its graduates but it is disappointing to see such talented artists graduate and then disappear. I’d like to change that as much as I can.

Nuts & Bolts: A Blueprint for a Successful Illustration Career is available online for $10 plus shipping.


  1. We are so fortunate to have you share your wisdom at MECA! Everyone got a great primer on what to do, and your advocacy for the field of illustration is so powerful and heartfelt. Can't thank you enough, but a few more lobster rolls might suffice.

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