Illustration - What do you find the best route for finding freelance work?

For a long time I have kept illustration as more of a side hobby but being in lockdown with no job I have been trying to get into it full time. So far my plan has been to email art directors of magazines directly with a short hello and a link to my site and maybe some low res attachments. But this hasn't been very successful and besides a few wins, the response (if any) is 'nice work we'll keep you on file' - which is definitely appreciated but I feel I could be doing more.

SO, what other avenues could I explore for promotion and getting some work in?

Also, what's your opinion on contacting through Instagram DM? I often find ADs on there but feel I would be a nuisance messaging them, and don't want to give a bad impression

For reference my site is



  • @Andy Carter Just keep emailing every day. Email small/medium businesses too. You might get a gig to illustrate something for their website or product. Just keep emailing and also updating your portfolio. I think the social media platform is probably also really good to do but I would not just rely on that - send an email (sorry for the repitition) with a link on it. all the best! it can be realy tough getting freelance work!
  • @Simeon Goa Hi Simeon, good to hear from you!

    Thanks for the links, the podcast sounds amazing, i've got it queued up to listen to a bit later. Can't wait to give it a listen and give it a try, cheers for the help !

  • Hey Andy,

    I listen to a guy named Andy J Pizza, who has a TONNE of good stuff in his show. He is a delight to listen to and provides good info. Highly recommend him.

    One of his things is taking on a creative side quest,
    where you focus on an industry / kind of illustration and then work through a variety of steps. He has a little e-book on it too. Perhaps that could help.

    Keep in mind that a positive reply is a good sign, even if it isn't "the job".
  • @Nikki Camilleri thanks Nikki! That's really helpful, i'm not the most active on social platforms besides posting on instagram and trying to give other socials (dribbble, the dots, behance) up to date - but I don't engage with it as much as I could with stories etc. which I think would help me as a 'brand' and give my accounts more character :) Thanks for the help!
  • Building a strong personal brand particularly on visual social platforms and on sites like this is key I think. Searching these platforms and looking at the work exhibited is how I've sourced all freelance artists and what a lot of peers I know also do. I hope that helps and good luck with your search :)
  • @Valery Goulet That's a great way of looking at it to constantly make sure i'm keeping up with others! Sorry I didn't expect you to solve the question right here and now just feeling a little lost :) Really appreciate all the help !
  • @Andy Carter I am not an Art Director looking for an illustrator so I am not sure how to best answer this but since most illustrators are constantly sharing their work with them, in order to keep up I do the same. I would also recommend you follow up with them perhaps a week after you first contacted them? It is s alot of work to be self-employed. But as loong as you do not give up :)!

  • @Valery Goulet Thanks Valery, so do you think just keeping going with my current routine of emailing art directors is not a bad idea? I go through phases of sending off quite a few emails but getting discouraged and stopping the action but I suppose you've just got to keep it up while also working on your own work?

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