Figures I would forget my sketchbook on the way to the NJCU Portfolio Review at the Society of Illustrators on Monday, May 16, 2011. I was really planning on showing Stephen Gardner my sketches with my new acquired ruling pen. Maybe he'd give me some pointers or something. I'll probably catch him at Drink & Draw sometime this summer, though. Imagine me, drinking with a bunch of illustrators and other artists. Crazy. Kinda.
So, at the portfolio review, only five students/graduates from NJCU showed up and of all of us, I was the only person dressed for an interview. Full suit= pants + tie + jacket + shoes. Did it make a difference? I don't know. Ellis Clark, a fellow NJCU student, was the only other person I heard receiving good reviews, but he wasn't dressed as much as I was.
Usually a person would feel weird for being the only person in full armor, and I was, but the awkward feeling didn't last too long, since I like to dress-up whenever I can. Besides, I always feel better in a suit. No not really. I do feel different in a stiffer outfit, however.
One of the reviews I held was with Gail Bichler, Deputy Art Director at the New York Times. (I was told by Dennis Dittrich that she's the art director for New York Times Magazine, specifically.) She looked through my portfolio, and to my surprise, she was impressed by my work! Also, Gail advised that I should practice to speak more confidently about my work by going on some "practice" interviews at places I wouldn't necessarily draw for. Now, that doesn't mean I'm gonna go knocking on the doors of Motherhood magazine, but it's a pretty good idea. Nevertheless, after the interview with Gail, I started to feel more confident about my career as an illustrator/comic book artist. (I don't know which will start first, but if I can get my foot in the door through illustration, then it'll be an easier transition going into comics. And I would still try doing both.)
After the review with Gail, Dittrich recommended that I follow Richard Berenson, former president of the Society of Illustrators, to the SI's permanent collection on the 5th or 6th floor of 128 E 63rd St. (There are so many levels.) It was exhilarating seeing all the work held by the Society. From Milton Caniff to Maxfield Parrish and N.C. Wyeth to Charles Dana Gibson, it was an impressive collection. The most rewarding part was that Berenson said that I had access to the collection whenever I wanted to see it. Just by Berenson's word, I had access to what could be the most expansive collection of 20th Century illustration. Awesome.
At the end of the day, Dennis Dittrich asked me what Gail Bichler thought of my work. He instructed that I make up a handwritten "Thank You" card and that I should start sending her postcard samples of my work after that. It's a solid strategy that will pay off, maybe not immediately, but after a lot of work.
That's what got me here. A lot of work. And there's still a lot more to do.
Society of Illustrators - http://www.societyillustrators.org
The New York Times - http://www.nytimes.com/
Ellis Clark - http://bookofrat.blogspot.com/