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How to Get New Freelance Illustration Clients

Do a quick internet search of “client chase” and you’ll come up with scores of articles exhorting, instructing, and sometimes downright pleading with you to stop trying to go to potential clients and to start getting them to come to you.

In theory, that’s great advice. It saves you a lot of time, it insures that you’re only working with people that truly want to work with you, and it gives artists the ability to negotiate the terms of the deal.

But it’s much easier said than done. What if your website is completely new, so it has terrible traffic? What if you live far away from the biggest creative hubs of NYC, LA, SF, London… or any larger city, for that matter? What if you didn’t graduate from an art program that not only granted you a degree, but also access to the larger network of working professionals in your field? (All hypothetical situations, of course.)

In short, how do you stand out in a massive crowd?

Apart from finding your niche and hoping people notice, which can take years, here’s the stupidly obvious answer:

Go look for the work.

It takes a lot of effort and discipline, but it’s stupidly simple. Here’s how we do it:

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Watch These Videos of Glen Keane Drawing

(Image via Cartoon Brew)

Judging from the amount of process videos that go up on social media, I think it’s safe to say that artists love watching other artists. Ashley and I are no different; if you were to sit next to us while I watched a drawing tutorial, our reactions are so intense you’d think we were engrossed in some kind of sports event or action movie.

“Did she really just use that brush?”

“NO WAY, I never use that layer blending option!!!”


And so on.

It’s something that we really don’t take the time to immerse ourselves in, but we benefit in inspiration and technique every time we let ourselves do it.

For your viewing pleasure today, let’s check out some videos of the great Glen Keane doing his thing. There’s so much more to animation than drawing—great drafting skills are only the basic prerequisite to a good performance, after all—but we illustrators can learn a thing or two from our animator cousins!

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