Anonymous asked: If you're self taught illustrator is it possible to make it in the industry despite the fact I've never been to an art school?
Some do, some don’t. Some art school graduates do, some don’t. I went to art school. From what I can tell, you need a good portfolio, a lot of motivation, and some luck. Whether you went to school or not, how motivated are you to improve your craft, seek out opportunities, gather information about your field & your business, and make connections? Do you have marketable work? Getting started (and continuing working) in freelance illustration is an uphill battle, but with any question I can only speak from my own limited experience.
Anonymous asked: Is it ok to send your portfolio to places where it seems like your style is out of place? Not like "my portfolio is bloody horror themed and I am trying to get a children's book gig", but like mailing to a financial mag when you have a portfolio inspired by fairy tales and fantasy kind of thing. Is it ok as long as it "feels" editorial? I've been told to take long shots but I'm never sure of how long, and it feels like my work doesn't fit in anywhere and isn't useful in any professional context.
I mean, taking a long shot can’t hurt. An intrepid AD might like your style or imagination and go from there. If your work doesn’t fit with them, they’ll just forget it—they’re not gonna put you on a shit list or anything. (Same advice for anyone who is scared of sending their work to ADs because they feel like they aren’t “good enough” yet) The more people that see your work, the better.
That said, it can be helpful to be aware of where your work might fit best. If you think your work is way out of the range of a magazine’s illustrations you probably wouldn’t want to waste your money sending them a postcard, but it pays to do a bit of research into their past content. Plansponsor & Planadviser (both under the helm of AD Soojin Buzelli) are very dense financial magazines that generate some of the most fantastical and imaginative illustration work out there.
If you want to work for specific markets or specific publications, consider pursuing some personal illustrations that can expand your portfolio to fit those niches. If your portfolio is entirely fairy tale and fantasy based and you’d like a better chance at working for more editorial clients, you might want to include some editorial-inspired work in your portfolio to prove you can read and interpret ideas. Pick an article from NPR or the NY Times or some other magazine or newspaper and illustrate it for fun. If you want to do book work, make prospective covers or narrative illustrations for a favorite book. For all these things, make sure your portfolio is work that you like, are proud of, and would like to do more of.
thenazzaro asked: Hey Kalo, I was just curious how you originally started getting editorial work. Did you hire a rep or mail out promotional stuff to ADs? I'm trying to get into editorial work myself, thanks!
I started by sending emails and postcards to ADs. Emails are definitely easier and cheaper, and I think postcards only work best if they’re very well done or unique objects that ADs would remember. Being brief in an email is fine—just show your interest in working with them, and include a link to your portfolio site.
I found emails through the websites of newspapers and magazines, and I even spent one day combing through the mastheads of all the magazines with illustrations at Barnes & Noble, writing down names and addresses (that method was not the most fruitful, but it was nice to just browse through magazines for a day) There are also lists of AD emails & addresses that you can buy from various sites.
It’s totally normal to not hear back from ADs at all after you send emails/postcards. They’re busy people, but if they like your work you may end up with an email out of the blue 6 months later.
Keep sending some sort of promo consistently, every 2-3 months in the beginning if you can!
Over time, word of mouth and recommendations from other friends & illustrators have played a big role in helping me get jobs. I try to pay back the favor!
Taking part in industry events, participating in the illustration community (through social networks or otherwise) and being a nice person never hurts.
dianacastle asked: Hi Kali! I really love your editorial work, and it's something I'd also like to pursue, but for some reason I struggle with it a lot. I was wondering if you had any thoughts you could share about your process when making an editorial illustration? After reading the article, how do you zone in on the specific part you'll focus your illustration on? Are there specific phrases you look for that you think would make a better image? Does the art director give a starting idea of what they want?
Hi Diana! Sometimes an AD will have a specific idea for the illo, but usually they just give me an article or a brief for me to read & interpret myself. When I’m thinking of an editorial illustration, here’s some steps I take:
1. Read the article well & simplify it down to its core ideas. The title of an article is usually very good for this. Or, sometimes there might be an evocative turn of phrase in the article itself.
2. Brainstorm symbols or images that capture these ideas. This is the tough part! Sometimes I’ll do research, look through my inspiration folders to see if they spark any ideas, or talk to my boyfriend about it. I also try to figure out symbols that I’d LIKE to draw.
3. I’ll check to see if I can show some kind of contrast or juxtaposition in my images, because it makes the idea clearer & more engaging. If I wanted to show that someone was tall, I’d try to juxtapose them against a room or person that was too short. Contrast is interesting. Past/present, dirty/clean, real/imaginary.
4. Take a shower. Or go walking or do something else mindless and physically occupying. It lets your mind wander and mull over ideas—I’ve figured out a surprising number of illustration problems in the shower!
mochi-latte asked: Hi Kali!!! Gosh, I love your work. I've noticed you have a lot of lettering and text in some of your works, and I was wondering if you draw your text by hand as well, or if you use fonts? (And if you draw your lettering, how do you get it so gosh darn straight and clean?!) Thanks, you are awesome!
Hello and thank you! I draw all my text by hand in photoshop, I don’t use vectors or anything. I just treat text like any of the other parts of my illustrations—sketching it out roughly first, then refining and polishing it up by drawing and erasing. My actual handwriting is VERY BAD, so I’m really drawing each letter, not writing them! It definitely takes time, for me.
I also look at lettering reference just as I’d look at drawing reference. Jeremy Pruitt (“Thinkmule”) curates an amaaaazing pinterest collection of fonts and lettering that I love to look at for ideas.
hanatomic asked: will you be putting your anime crushes zine in your store because i rly relate to it and want a copy of my own! it looks amazing! it was always tamahome for meeeee <3
Awww, thanks a bunch! Tamahome was such a hearthrob! As of right now, I think I’m only going to be able to sell the zine at cons, because the cost of shipping & packing that tiny lil’ zine would be way more than the cost of the zine itself! I’m real sorry about that. I’ll be reprinting it for future cons. However, if (when?) I make other zines down the road I could probably sell them in a bundle.
Anonymous asked: Is there a readable version of that baby boomer article online somewhere? It looks like a interesting read.
Here ya go! It is kind of a bummer: http://www.bostonglobe.com/magazine/2013/06/29/childless-baby-boomer-wonders-who-will-care-for/x4a0CmAJcuGM8SWdkRnAZN/story.html
Whoaaa! Thanks guys, I’m honored!
Kali Ciesemier is one amazing artist. Her posters, illustration and children’s work are incredible.
Which how we felt when she graciously gave us two of her posters to reside in the SPX Collection until the Sun goes supernova or we all die from climate change.
My bet is on the latter.
Here is Martha Kennedy, one of the curators in the Prints & Photograph Division of the Library of Congress with Kali’s work.
All hail Kali!!!