This week, Ourboox is hosting its second event at Campus Tel Aviv (an open space which Google makes available for various hi-tech activities), this time together with the Israeli association of Illustrators. The participants will be, for the most part, professionals, and they will want to know why they should participate in a website where books are shared for free.
The world is changing in many respects, and illustration is just one of the many professions that is morphing as I write these words. Tens of millions of illustrations and photos are available over the internet, and many can be used freely (with or without proper accreditation). In addition, through websites such as Fiverr original illustrations can be purchased for just a few dollars.
Those of us who have been lucky to work and publish alongside illustrators know that a single illustration can take days, weeks, or even months (in rare cases, years). Even the few lucky professional illustrators who work with publishing houses get paid a pittance for the amazing work that they do. In addition, they often have to relinquish some of the rights to the pictures themselves.
But as artists in many fields know, years of study and talent are rarely rewarded financially, and few artists can survive without taking on ‘day jobs’. In the case of illustrators, this may mean teaching and working as graphic designers. And in a world where one can shop the internet for free and cheap illustrations, publishers are going to be further encouraged to apply pressure to the best of illustrators to work hard for small pay.
There is little that we can do to stop that trend. On the other hand, we can take advantage of the internet to create and establish an international reputation. That is why sites such as Ourboox can be extremely helpful, even for professional illustrators.
My first advice is “Create a portfolio”. It takes only minutes. One excellent example is the portfolio of Rotem Omri.
My second piece of advice is “Put some (not all) of your work online”. Sites such as Ourboox are searchable, they reach far and wide and will increase your chance of being discovered by readers, writers and publishers outside your local circle. So I don’t advocate that professional illustrators put all their work online. But by sharing a portion of their work, they stand a better chance of becoming international.