illustrators: how to get noticed


© MARTINA DALTON, Designer, Allovus Design

If you are an illustrator, you might be wondering how you will get recognition for your work. How do you set yourself apart from all the other artists out there?

  1. Showcase your work online: Before you do anything else, you should go through your portfolio and choose pieces that most represent your ability. Only your best efforts should be included—you don’t want to put up a “so-so” piece and have a potential client be turned off by it.
    You can build a free online portfolio on websites like:,,,, and many more. Consider making a Facebook or Pinterest for your work as well.
  2. Enter contests: If you can say you are an “award-winning” illustrator, you have a much greater chance of being noticed by an art director or company. Organizations like the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) host annual regional conferences. As an attendee, you can enter your portfolio in a juried art show. Even if you don’t win the grand prize, you’ll have agents and editors from publishing companies perusing your work. Many illustrators have landed children’s book illustration jobs in this manner. To see when your regional chapter is hosting a conference, check out to visit your region’s page and look up “Events.” In addition to the regional conferences, there are much larger annual conferences in Los Angeles and New York. You can enter your work in those events for maximum exposure to the publishing world.
    There are other organizations that host portfolio contests as well. Check out: and
  3. Postcards and promotional materials: Despite the fact that most companies, agencies, and publishing houses have gone digital, there are still some who prefer receiving postcards with your work printed on it. You can always add your online portfolio link on the card to make sure they see more of your work.
  4. Here are some examples of digital illustration portfolios that really work:

Illustration shown by Joshua Dykgraaf,

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