5 things art directors hate the most

If you want to break into any art field, read on and take heed. Doing the following will quickly send busy art directors into a rage.

Breaking into the book illustration business is hard word, so the last thing you want to do is annoy your art director.

In this article, leading art directors explain the top five most annoying things that artists and illustrators can do when approaching them for work opportunities. 

It makes for great advice – whatever industry or art field you want to break into. So read on and take heed...

01. No research

5 things art directors hate the most

A Paizo Publishing cover by illustrator Lucas Graciano, who's also worked for Blizzard and Wizards of the Coast

Don't send your portfolio to a company unless you know what it does and that your work is relevant to it. Paizo Publishing's style, for instance, is high fantasy.

"Getting anime, editorial or children's book illustrations immediately tells me that this was a mass emailing," says Paizo's managing art director Sarah Robinson. And that's never a good start. 

02. Poorly designed websites

What's the point of having a slick-looking website if your contact details are hard to find or, worse still, missing altogether? Make sure your site is easy to navigate and up-to-date.

"It's so frustrating to see someone's great portfolio at a convention, or their latest pieces fly by on Facebook, only to look them up afterwards and see work that's six to 12 months' old. You want your website to seal the deal," says Irene Gallo, art director at Tor Books.

03. False representation

5 things art directors hate the most

Dave Seeley is a book cover illustrator veteran, and features in an eight-page ImagineFX feature on breaking into the industry. Image © SFBC

Art directors hate it when the work you hand in isn't the type of work they've seen in your portfolio. They've most likely hired you because they've seen that you do particular things well – and that style or quirk of yours is what they're after.

If you want to try something wild, new and different for an assignment, discuss it with the art director first. Surprise art directors by being great, not by being surprising.

04. Resistance to change

There are lots of people involved in the publication of a book and their opinions are all valid – from sales to marketing, and from the author to the publisher. Amends will happen on your covers.

"I never want to work with an artist who I think will become overly defensive about their first sketches and ideas. We should be working together to create a good piece of advertising.

"We all love it when that's elevated to the level of art, but we always need to be in service of the book first of all," says Irene Gallo.

05. No communication

You shouldn't need to talk to your art director every single day, but if you have a problem with anything to do with the project, let them know and discuss it. There might be a simple solution.

Equally, if your art director has a question, respond to it promptly. If you're off the grid when they need you, you'll drop off their list of preferred artists pretty quickly.

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