Interview with Illo Confidential Founder Brian Taylor
Opportunity. That’s the keyword in today’s industry.
As Agency Access’ digital marketing associate, one trend I have seen grow over the last year is the rise of collaborations.
One group of illustrators – or, as pro illustrator Brian Taylor would say, “collective” – that I’ve been fascinated with is Illo Confidential. The collective started up in January 2012 and is comprised of 21 award-winning illustrators with various styles and impressive client lists. So what makes a group of illustrators who work in similar markets pair up on the same site? We asked Illo Confidential’s founder himself.
So Brian, how did you come up with the concept for Illo Confidential? Was it your idea or a team effort?
Well, when Illo Confidential started out, it had nothing to do with marketing at all. It was more about connecting with other illustrators that I was fond of. I wanted to be able to talk openly about industry stuff or get feedback on an in-progress illustration without the entire Internet world seeing it. I live in the Washington, DC area and I don’t really know any other illustrators in my area. So I sought after the artists I was most active with on Twitter and asked them if they wanted to join my little group.
While I can take a good portion of the credit for getting us altogether, I have to give all the credit to illustrator Thomas James for his marketing savvy and putting together the public Illo Confidential website that shows our work. He was the mastermind behind that. Where I just wanted to connect with other illustrators, Thomas saw a real opportunity. Just within a few weeks of being together, the website was up and running and we were posting our latest work. It all happened very quickly and the response has been great so far.
Who decides who joins the collective? Do folks reach out to you or is it just friends of friends?
I initially invited a handful of people that were active on Twitter. I think we started with 10 to 15, but as a group we eventually added a few more illustrators to round out our roster at a lucky 21. The ironic thing is, I’ve always felt like an outsider when it comes to the illustration world. I don’t have a lot of personal, real-life connections to other illustrators, so the fact that I’m lumped into this group with such awesome illustrators is pretty amazing to me. Luckily, I’ve been able to meet and hang out with some of the IlloCon members since we started it.
Right now, we’re not adding any more artists. We’d like to keep it a tightknit group. It came together pretty organically and we don’t really want to force things too much. But I highly encourage other illustrators to form their own little groups.
What does the future hold for Illo Confidential?
Well, we’re trying to put together a “Best of IlloCon” blog post where we would have highlighted pieces from each artist. Hope to have that up early 2013 - possibly an email promo to promote that.
Are there any other areas you see as untapped opportunities for pro artists?
Selling your work as prints or T-shirts is another avenue that I’ve been exploring. Right now I have my work on society6.com, a site where they handle all the printing, etc. You get to set your prices. You wouldn’t make as much as if you did the prints yourself, but it’s good if you don’t want to worry about that aspect. Hasn’t been lucrative or anything, but sold more prints than I thought I would this year.
Laying Down a Foundation With Your Peers
All in all, I found that Illo Confidential is more than just pro illustrators collaborating. It’s about camaraderie – a group of pros supporting each other.
I think it’s also worth noting that support doesn’t necessarily have to come from other local artists (the 21 IlloCon members are from all over the United States and Canada, from New York to Oregon). I love the idea of “partnering” cross-country; it’s really just one unique opportunity to get your name out there in a manner that positively reflects your brand.
About Illo Confidential:
Illo Confidential is a collective of professional Illustrators sharing their latest work with the creative community. Check them out:
Brett Affrunti / Michael Byers / Kelsey Dake / Alex Fine / Daniel Fishel / Michael Freiheit / Chris Gash / Daniel Hertzberg / Thomas James / Joel Kimmel / Patrick McQuade / Keith Negley / Jacqui Oakley / Noah Pfarr / Thomas Pitilli / Peter Ryan / Ryan Snook / Jon Sperry / Brian Taylor / Kyle T. Webster / Daniel Zalkus
Brian is an editorial and portrait illustrator. His clients include: The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, Billboard, Wired UK, The Washington Post, Fast Company, Games for Windows and The Boston Globe. He lives in the Washington DC area with his wife, two daughters and a dog named Bill. BTillustration.com
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