I have always loved and produced plenty if speculative art and so maintain a sister blog and website dedicated to my Fantasy and SF imagery. Speculative work makes up about half of my monthly assignments, often much more than that. My fear is that by having the option to have incoming art directors choose between my contemporary collection and fantasy collection, I am watering down my presentation and confusing the viewer’s perception of what I offer.
My current landing page at www.mcauslandstudios.com assumes that art directors, publishers, authors and casual web surfers already know what they want and like, and with one click can drop themselves into the portfolio that best suits their needs.
Breaking down the various illustration genres I work in seems to be sensible and while I only have three categories now (Stock Art , illustration and Speculative Illustration), I have been considering adding a few more areas such as children’s, book covers, and fine art as I seem to do plenty of work in these fields as well, in fact today I am off to photograph a 24 x 48” landscape painting I did in December and will post that when I get it into the computer.
Back to the topic of whether or not to give my web site viewers the choice between commercial ‘mainstream’ illustration and other genres, such as speculative art… I ask: does this matter?
Clearly I think to some people it does matter and to others not so much. By writing this blog post and posing this question, I suppose I am concerned about this. Here is my reason….
Briefly I will just say that a great many art reps and potential clients are looking for a ‘serious’ commercial artist who renders imagery for health, investment, editorial, corporate and geo-political subjects and so making such imagery easier to review might be appreciated without speculative art blended into a site or mailer. Some people in the design and illustration industry, including instructors, have told me that ad agencies and designers in general don’t want to see any fantasy art in a portfolio, that the two don’t mix.
Does this go both ways? Do publishers of fantasy and SF feel the same about seeing links to a gallery showing investment imagery?
Can this really be the case? Wouldn’t art directors appreciate the fact that their potential illustrator is multi-faceted, has many interests, and can pull off an image in almost any subject? Just as I enjoy politics, news and current events on TV, I also like a good adventure, futuristic or historical movie and can divide my time and creative efforts among many genres and markets.
That said, clear divisions of subject matter are important once somebody arrives at my portfolio website. My choice to separate genre specific blogs and sub-web sites keeps it all clear in my head. It also helps when I am marketing online, or communicating with a client to narrow down the focus and determine the client’s needs accurately. A potential client has sought me out based on a certain image they saw someplace, and it is up to me and my website to allow them to explore more of a similar look and subject in one portfolio area without confusion or too many out bound links to other galleries. This seems like a logical idea.
To summarize, my hope is that when an AD comes to my site they already know what sort of art they want, and can easily click on that section. Once inside that sub-site, all is clearly laid out and the genre is consistent.
I would be curious what any readers think about this. In short, can a landing ‘home’ page of a site present an art director to various genres and not turn them away? Put another way, can an illustrator present him or herself in multiple styles and genres and still be taken seriously?
In closing, I love drawing and painting, and branching out into new subjects and markets, learning new methods and media all contribute to my growth. What I learn in one genre enhances what I can do for another, altogether different client in an unrelated market. I firmly believe working in multiple genres keeps an artist fresh and challenged, making for more creative, fresh, and cutting edge illustration.
I will close with a look back at some of my fine art from several years ago.