I had an illustrator recently ask me ‘How - physically - does one present initial samples when submitting [illustrations] to a publisher for the first time?’ Here are a few suggestions for straight-up sending a package of printed samples to potential clients :
Always send copies. Never send your original artwork.
Scans vs Photography : When making copies of your artwork, scans at high-resolution (300dpi) are always better than photographs as the colour is truer. If you decide to take photographs of your artwork, be sure it is in a well lit place and images are clear.
Letter size printouts : This is one of the simplest and most popular ways to send samples to a client.
- Set up a template (InDesign, Illustrator, etc) to place 1-2 high-resolution scans of your illustrations on each page.
- Be sure to include your name & contact information on every page.
- Make sure to print at the highest quality.
- Staple your printouts together
- Include a coverletter and send unfolded in a manila envelope.
5 x 7 Photographs : This is another easy & inexpensive way to send samples to a client.
- Take your scans / photos of your artwork to a local digital photography printer to print at whatever size you’d like
- Have a coffee and come back in an hour when they’re done :)
- Clearly label each photo you wish to send to a client (sticker labels are great for this, and you reduce the risk of smudging ink.
- It’s unnecessary to mount photographs on card stock…it looks nice, but it adds weight to your samples when mailing and just increases the bulk of the package. Instead, just add a nice black border to your digital files so a consistent edge is printed on each photograph.
- Include a coverletter and send in a greeting card sized envelope
Colour Copies : For those who mightn’t have the resources to scan & print samples of their work themselves, if the artwork is small enough you can make colour photocopies at a local copy shop relatively cheaply. Then package the same way you would Letter sized samples (above.)
Clearly & descriptively label each sample with your contact details :
When mailing samples, if you dont label each sample, you run the risk of it being lost and not traced back to you. Include on EACH sample :
- Your Name
- Phone number
- Website URL
- Email address
- Copyright information
- Mailing address (optional)
SASE (Self-addressed stamped envelope) : If you want your samples sent back to you, include a SASE with sufficient postage. If you are sending samples internationally, use postage on the SASE that can actually be used in that country…as creative director at a card publishing company, I received several packages with SASEs to us in Canada with return postage stamps from the US :)
Including the price of each piece of artwork isn’t necessary. Get someone interested in your work first and let them ask (or set!) the price.
Avoid fancy folders : they will end up just being given to the art director’s kid for their school projects ;)
Presenting your work in a simple and tidy manner is always best.
Straight up : if your art is good, that is what will speak the loudest when sending your samples. What art directors look for is great artwork that suits their needs. As long as your sample package looks neat & is labeled clearly with your name & contact details, if your work is great and what they are looking for at the time, your art will speak for itself.
For more tips on promoting your illustration work, check out :