Illustrators and social media...

“Are you a Tweety…?”

This question was asked of me by a family member in 2011, after learning I had joined the Twitter ranks. I replied confidently, “Yes – I’m on Twitter.” My initial idea and goal was simple: I saw Twitter as a sales tool with an immediate and pointed delivery, to be aimed at current and prospective clients. Free, direct, and uncluttered advertising to an audience with a common interest.

From 1994 through 2001, I was creating 2-4 illustrations each month for Popular Science. After being out of touch with the magazine for several years, I decided in 2010 to make a more focused effort to get back into PopSci. I sent a few hard-copy samples to get the ball rolling, followed up with an e-mail or two, and finally a voicemail message to the art director. After little response, I tried a different approach. I searched for PopSci on Twitter and found @PopSciGuy, the art director, Matt Cokeley. Each morning Matt would Tweet, “Morning tweeps! Let’s get to work!” After following @PopSciGuy on Twitter for a few weeks, I decided to make a bold move. While having lunch at a local restaurant, I replied to one of these morning salutations with “Matt, put me to work in the next issue!”

Now, I certainly wouldn’t recommend this approach to everyone! But my gut told me that this direct, outside-the-norm tactic might just garner a favorable response from the A.D. of a leading science and technology magazine. This approach was destined to go either of two ways: bold, yet smart; or the dumbest move ever.

Within two hours, Matt called and said, “Greg, I have a project for you.” I was pumped! We talked a few specifics on the phone, and he e-mailed me the project brief, etc. Later in the day Matt tweeted, “Greg, be careful what you wish for.”

Fantastic. Well played, Matt! Well played. After reconnecting via Twitter, I did numerous projects with Matt and PopSci.

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In 2017 it’s important for illustrators (and other creatives) to be actively involved in promoting their work and connecting with like-minded individuals through social media. The key is to BE ACTIVE. Simply setting up various social media accounts isn’t enough. Set up the desired accounts, connect with colleagues or individuals with a common interest, and start a dialogue, share information, trade tips, talk shop, etc. Through a bit of good-natured humor for example, don’t be afraid to initiate some of these interactions in a unique way.

If you’re looking for another legitimate means of connecting with potential clients, I would ask you “Are you a Tweety?”

-GM