“What advice would you give yourself fresh out of college?”—Anna Faktorovich, PhD Interview

Faktorovich: If the young you, fresh out of a BFA program, strolled into your office today and asked you for advice on managing his coming illustration, animation, and writing career, what advice would you give him? What has been the biggest problem on your path you wish you could have avoided? Has there been an opportunity you now wish you had taken?

How to Win Friends & Influence PeopleAdams: I’d give him the best advice I’ve ever received from a stranger. I met her on a flight returning from Los Angeles. She recommended I read these three books: The Greatest Salesman in the World, because we all want to give up. Love is Letting Go of Fear, we all have a personal obstacles to overcome. How to Win Friends and Influence People, because you’re not a people person until you learn to listen.

When the student returns after reading these, I’d recommend, The Graphic Artist’s Guild Handbook of Pricing and Ethical Guidelines. And I’d recommend he select two fields of illustration. The first being his focus; the second an alternate income stream. Next I’d recommend seeking out the ugly books in the world and being a better illustrator than the publisher’s existing illustrator.

My greatest problems were not understanding my value and not having a mentor/support system. My first illustration clients took advantage of my inexperience by underpaying and not sharing profits through royalties. I also invested thousands of dollars displaying my portfolio along with hundreds of other illustrators. I also joined organizations that charged to critique my portfolio.

IMG_2307Through trial and error, I learned good clients want to share their success; hanging with publishers is more profitable than hanging with illustrators; and non-paid critiques from professionals are genuine. The opportunities I would have taken sooner, are joining a publishing organization like IBPA (Independent Book Publishers Association); cultivating a professional mentor relationship with an illustrator—not as a crutch; and starting my business fresh after graduation.

If I started again from college graduation, I would purchase a building with two storefronts in a small town for the price of a house. One unit’s rent would cover the mortgage. The second unit would serve as my business/studio. The upstairs would be converted to my loft/home. My clients would be found at large conferences where publishers and authors congregate. Technology makes small businesses into global business.

Who says being 20-something is a requirement to start a business. I might retire at 50 and start something new!

Read the complete interview with Mark Adams, Award-Winning IllustratorAdams-Author Bio Photo-mwa.company-template with Anna Faktorovich, PhD

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“Is there pressure to mimic popular books?”—Anna Faktorovich, PhD Interview

Faktorovich: Most illustrated books today look very similar to each other in style and technique. Why do you think this is the case? Is there pressure to mimic popular books in any genre because failure to conform to genre norms is seen as a mistake by reviewers, award organizers and others in the publishing industry? In other words, the styles of classical painters such as Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo are sharply different, but if an art historian attempted to tell two popular illustrated children’s illustrators’ work apart, they would be stomped as to how to tell them apart. For example, paint types, brushstroke style, and various other elements differ in the best canonical painters, but modern digital illustrations lack most of these characteristics, and frequently top illustrators mimic techniques others utilize to conform their art to the industry standard. If an illustrator attempts radically different art, the work is typically either ignored by reviewers or negatively criticized as a mistake. Have you made any attempts to break with these formulaic requirements, and if so, what was the result of this experiment?

Adams: Fine artists and illustrators are educated using not only paint mediums, brushstrokes, and art history, but also computers. My college drawing professor, Dale Leys, refused to let me draw cartoons during my four year degree program. He believed a fine artist could become a great cartoonist, but not the reverse. Talented illustrators rely on art techniques that apply in a variety of medium using any tool.

Many of my clients are independent authors or publishers who take liberty in pushing the bounds of traditional publishing. Reviewers, award organizers, and publishing purists stubbornly hold to publishing tradition and labels.

Nicholas,That's Ridiculous!-Carpenter-www.mwa.companyWith Nicholas, That’s Ridiculous! I learned even “mistakes” add value. I had flooded an illustration with water and dropped magenta paint onto the page of a story about being a boy. Rather than discard the illustration, I submitted it for author approval. Author Christa Carpenter loved the liberty I took. Many clients request my bold color choices for their books.

When I was younger, my librarian mother never allowed me to fold pages, write in margins, or cut my books. I experimented doing this in my Best Sketchbooks. In the illustrated edition of OUTBACK: Bothers & Sinisters, readers are allowed to cut or fold the over 100 illustrations. Each illustration is an experiment from the first sketch to the final cut illustration.
Read the complete interview with Mark Adams, Award-Winning IllustratorAdams-Author Bio Photo-mwa.company-template with Anna Faktorovich, PhD