I went to the Childrens' Book Illustrator Group meeting on Sunday wondering if it could be at all useful to my errant freelance fancy, as in, earn a buck. While Regina Griffin of Egmont did a most informative overview of her new (start up) American branch of a large European publishing company I looked around the packed living room of our host and saw the eager, hungry, talented, and skilled hoards of illustrators, I asked myself the key question.
What sets me apart?
I haven't actually illustrated many books or magazines for kids. I certainly am not a name in the business. My style is not cutting edge or going to change the way an entire generation thinks about the way we see the world (Sendak). But...
I combine skills in a way that does make me a bit unusual. I've studied calligraphy, cartography, poetry, life drawing, book design, cartooning, painting, adobe illustrator and photoshop, color theory, perspective, anatomy, and I know how to develop a narrative and tell a story in words as well as images. One of the ways all this combines is in creating decorative/illustrated maps. Maps always have a narrative implied.
So during the Q. & A. I asked if she had need of such maps. She does. (I have done many--for fantasy books, kids' books, YA, historical, travel and whimsical.) I hope that she gets back to me, I left her my card and sent an invitation to view my website. Sometimes it helps to know what I can offer to a client, something I am uniquely qualified to do, that nobody else in the room is mentioning.
After that I leaned back and enjoyed the wonderful work my fellow members were presenting in the portfolio review. Here's to all of us.