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Navigating the Labyrinth
by Lisa L. Cyr

For illustrators, the road ahead presents many challenges. A persistently uncertain economic climate has changed the playing field, forever altering the competitive landscape and significantly diminishing the traditional role of the freelance illustrator. To penetrate the instability in the marketplace and remain viable for the long term, illustrators must take a more active, forward-thinking, leadership role. They need to become more entrepreneurial, looking outside traditional venues to discover alternative markets for their work to move, grow and flourish.

To navigate and find their way through the complex, global labyrinth, illustrators need to look inside themselves to discover their authentic voice and vision. Clarity, insight and understanding unfold the map, revealing the true pathway in which to follow. Creative self-evaluation and definition require honest and deep introspection, with an ongoing commitment to the process of staying true to the soul of one’s work. Artistic self-awareness generates a personal, meaningful and vital connection between the illustrator, the work and the market, building a foundation that will not only cultivate artistic distinction, but also sustain market viability throughout the creative lifetime of an artist.

By embracing entrepreneurial thinking and promotional innovation,
illustrators not only create a breeding ground for imaginative and thought-provoking artistic content,
but also open the doorway to a global communications presence that penetrates
a marketplace on many fronts. As inventors, managers and promoters of their own
intellectual properties, illustrators hold the map to the labyrinth.

For illustrators to effectively assert their unique voice and vision, they must adopt a brand-savvy, globally-aware, multimedia strategy that crosses platforms, markets and disciplines. To survive, they can no longer afford to limit themselves to the traditional venues. Illustrators need to explore untapped territory that expands past the boundaries of commercial illustration, seeking outlets in authorship, animation, film, video, TV, merchandising, gaming, design and the fine arts. As multidisciplinary content creators, artists open the door to new opportunities in which to fuel their passion, energy and work ethic. No longer limited to visually translating and promoting someone else’s content, illustrators can take control of the overall direction of their work, gaining creative independence where they don’t need to rely on an intermediary to drive their futures.

To jumpstart a self-initiated project, entrepreneurial illustrators are looking to For a nominal percentage, the site offers the opportunity for interested parties to financially back an artist’s prospective project. Illustrators are completely in charge of their creative endeavor, from setting the goals, establishing the funding requirements and developing the deadlines. Fans, friends and interested investors can pledge a small or substantial amount to kick start a creative project. Once the endeavor has reached its financial goal, the pledges are collected and the illustrator is committed to produce the project by the set deadline. There has been some amazing creative and imaginative work put out into the culture as a result of this venue.

To communicate with key market players, illustrators are developing signature promotions that are engaging and thought-provoking, creating a custom-tailored experience across multimedia platforms. To establish a long-term, lasting connection with a targeted audience, promotional endeavors must be not only brand aware but also very market savvy, speaking to an audience in ways that they value and respond to. Initiatives need to instantly grab the recipient’s attention, motivating them to look further and participate in the overall brand messaging. An effective promotional endeavor communicates an artist’s creative personality in a way that is distinctive and memorable to an audience who is engaged and eager to listen.

Print promotions are boasting alternative formats, unique constructions, unconventional surfaces, custom bindery, clever die-cuts and engaging add-ons, creating active interaction and participation with a promotional message. The custom architectural aspects of a signature print initiative make it one-of-a-kind, standing out from a sea of mediocrity that only seems to find its way into the circular files instead of the coveted active files of prospective buyers. L. Cyr
Lisa L. Cyr is an accomplished author and multidisciplinary artist with a content-driven focus. Her books, Innovative Promotions That Work, The Art of Promotion, The Little Book of Big Promotions, Brochure Design That Works and Graphic Design That Works (Rockport Publishers), feature top national and international promotional work with sidebars that go beyond the basics to explore strategic and innovative thinking. A graduate from The Massachusetts College of Art (BFA) and Syracuse University (MA), Cyr’s artistic oeuvre has been exhibited both nationally and internationally in museums, galleries and universities. Her work is also included in the permanent collection of the Museum of American Illustration as well as private collections. She is an artist member of the Society of Illustrators in New York City and works in partnership with her husband Christopher Short, painter and 3-D illustrator.