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7 Tips For Choosing The Right Visual Artist

July 5, 2016

If you use social media and content marketing to build your brand, you need images.


To attract reader attention, and because readers are much more apt to share content that includes images.

There are plenty of stock photos floating around, but they tend to look like, well, stock photos.

So at some point, you might want to commission some custom illustration. It’s a good investment because illustrations can be creatively recycled in different ways.BlankVertSpace.8pixels

BlankVertSpace.4pixelsSo how do you choose the right visual artist?

What you need here is hardboiled, no-nonsense advice— the kind Mickey Spillane would give you.blank vertical space, 32 pixels highBirthday tribute caricature of author Mickey Spillane famous for his hardboiled detective novels featuring private eye Mike Hammer with rebus of book titles I The Jury and Kiss Me Deadly

blank vertical space, 32 pixels highSpillane wrote a series of thrillers about private eye Mike Hammer. He died in 2006, but he left behind some colorful quotes. Here are seven of them that point the way to choosing the right visual artist.BlankVertSpace.8pixels

Stephen King. Now I’m not crazy about him, but he’s a great writer.

BlankVertSpace.8pixelsAt first glance, there’s nothing profound here: Spillane is saying King’s not his cup of tea, while acknowledging King’s talent and ability.

But look again: he’s stating an important truth: there are lots of talented people out there (writers, artists, etc), but some, despite their obvious talent, aren’t right for you, aren’t right for the job.

A funeral home wouldn’t put cartoons on its site, and a skateboard dealer wouldn’t hire someone who paints old barns. At least I don’t think so.

So take a careful look at an artist’s portfolio: his style has got to be a good fit for your brand.blank vertical space, 32 pixels highHire someone whose style is good fit for your brand one that will attract your target audience bacon strip looking at pig painting on easel egg with beret paintbrushblank vertical space, 32 pixels highI’m a commercial writer, not an author. Margaret Mitchell was an author. She wrote one book.BlankVertSpace.8pixels

There’s nothing wrong with writing one book. Or pouring your heart and soul into one or two paintings. But a successful illustrator doesn’t have that luxury. He has to be good, and he has to produce. He has to have more than one idea. He has to focus on making you and your business successful.blank vertical space, 32 pixels highHire someone who can produce has more than one idea hen sitting on enormous pile of eggs giving thumbs-up

blank vertical space, 32 pixels highI know an awful lot of Hollywood people, who are so self-important, I can’t understand it. My father was a good Irish saloon-keeper, my mother always said to him, “Jack, how come you know everybody here?” and he’d say, “because I say hello.” I’m just like that, I’ve always been that way.

BlankVertSpace.8pixelsWe like to work with people we feel comfortable with. People who are easy to talk to. It’s no good hiring a nice person who can’t draw, but most illustrators have superb technical skills. Shop around, look for testimonials. You want an illustrator who listens; someone who’s easy to work with.blank vertical space, 32 pixels highHire someone you feel comfortable with easy to work with who listens bacon strip dripping grease talking to egg with umbrella pencil

blank vertical space, 32 pixels highNobody reads a mystery to get to the middle. They read it to get to the end. If it’s a letdown, they won’t buy anymore. The first page sells that book. The last page sells
your next book.

BlankVertSpace.8pixelsIn other words, it works. Whether it’s a book, a website design, or an illustration. It’s not just “good in places,” it delivers. You want an illustrator whose work helps you get likes, shares, and comments. Someone whose illustrations make people come back for more.blank vertical space, 32 pixels highHire someone whose work keeps people coming back for more ketchup dispenser showing blob painting to happy hungry packet of french fries

blank vertical space, 32 pixels highIf the public likes you, you’re good.BlankVertSpace.8pixels

You’re hiring the illustrator, so we can assume you like his work. But the key test is whether people respond to it. Whether it causes them to engage with your business,
and spread the word via social shares. You want an illustrator who builds your brand.blank vertical space, 32 pixels highHire someone who builds your brand by creating images that people want to share ant using mobile phone to send pictures of picnic foods to his friends apple hot dog hamburger watermelon sandwich potato chips melting ice cream

blank vertical space, 32 pixels highWhen I started the paperback market, there were only a few good writers, now the market’s loaded… you don’t know which one to take.BlankVertSpace.8pixels

Spillane succeeded because he was first— he more or less invented the sensationalist paperback thriller. But he also succeeded because he stood out. You want an illustrator who helps you do the same. Somebody who produces images that stand out and attract attention in a cyber-world teeming with images.blank vertical space, 32 pixels highHire someone who will help you stand out in a digital world teeming with look-alike images olive in art gallery looking at painting of giant olive in martini glass

blank vertical space, 32 pixels highI’m 82 years old, wherever I go everybody knows me, but here’s why… I’m a merchandiser, I’m not just a writer, I stay in every avenue you can think of.BlankVertSpace.8pixels

“Merchandiser” means maximizing the use you get out of an illustration, a blog post, whatever. Spillane worked in comic books, magazines, television, movies. Today he’d have a blog, a Facebook page, a Twitter account, and an online store. You want an illustrator who will help you “stay in every avenue you can think of.”blank vertical space, 32 pixels highHire someone who can modify images as needed for use on all your social media channels bacon strip at recycling center window with picture of pig talking to egg attendant signs on wall for YouTube LinkedIn Twitter Google+ Pinterest Facebook WordPress email

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Mark Armstrong is an illustrator specializing in humor, branding, social media, and content marketing. He creates images that get content seen and shared.

You can view his portfolio in slideshow format, and watch his short video 13 Reasons To Hire An Illustrator on YouTube.BlankVertSpace.8pixels

blank vertical space, 16 pixels high    *       *       *       *       *       *       *       *       *       *       *       *       *       *       *       *       *blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

What kind of images do you use for your content marketing?

Ever hired a visual artist? Any advice you’d care to share based on that experience?

Have you ever heard a slice of bacon and an egg discussing design issues??

Hope you’ll leave a comment.blank vertical space, 24 pixels high

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I also invite you to get updates. Just click the Get Updates button in the sidebar below the Portfolio Thumbnails, or click + Follow in the blog menu bar.blank vertical space, 24 pixels high
Other Posts You Might Enjoy:BlankVertSpace.8pixels

I, The Illustrator: Happy Birthday, Mickey Spillane

A Dam Fine Post: Happy Canada Day!

Meet The Beatles Parody: Vote For Me, Yeah, Yeah, Yeah!
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footer for all future blog posts showing picture of blog author Mark Armstrong, along with short bio and contact information

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. July 5, 2016 12:05 PM

    I will say hello to you, my funny friend. I agree with all of what you’ve so wisely written here oh, Yoda of all creators. It’s about people and in people one may find humans if they look or better yet put in the effort to see and hear. Person to person, forthright, honest behavior begets honest assessment good or bad, we do not learn from hearing “yes it’s perfect” – the downside keeps us striving (ooo, she’s going on a tangent and not a well-drawn one) – back to your post here – ’tis a marvel of excellence and certainly showcases your awesomeness!
    I hope you had a colorful and spectacular 4th!
    create on, my most funny and intelligent creative advisor!
    geez, I just read this over and it’s a mouthful for sure but I’m too darn tired to rewrite
    I had a most jubilant 4th!!!!


    • July 7, 2016 9:26 AM

      My dear AM! Please excuse this shameful tardy reply. I was helping out with the local fireworks display, and woke up in a tree the next day: dazed, confused, charred, and curiously euphoric. The whole experience was rather like reading one of your poems… : )

      The Yoda of All Creators… that’s too good not to use! I’ll hafta get my business cards reprinted, but it’ll be worth it. I may even preen a little, and comb my ears… : )

      I loved your tangent, radius, diameter, and circumference, too. If you’ll just bake a pi, we’ll have a complete set… : )

      Your comment, like your sweet self, simply oozes charm. I’m always happy to jump on my raft and ride the rapids of your stream of consciousness!!

      Thanks, as ever, for your lovely comment, and glad you had a hap-happy 4th, you Yankee Doodler Dandy, you!! : )

      Liked by 1 person

      • July 7, 2016 6:06 PM

        as long as you woke and had all fingers (did you check the toes;))
        I imagine your business card would be like a popup book in card form – all your wonderful characters holding your info – accordion style
        I want one!
        Glad you had a sprinkly, brilliant 4th!
        from your oozing pal,


  2. July 6, 2016 6:08 PM

    7 tips on the seventh month, which I read on the seventh day of the month, very close to the seventh hour. Coincidence? Magic? I’m bewitched by the Mark Armstrong magic and guess what… I know the answer to all 7: MARK ARMSTRONG!!!!!!!!!!! 😎😀😊😎


    • July 7, 2016 10:03 AM

      And after reading this fantabulous comment, I was, of course, in seventh heaven!!! 🚀⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️😍

      My dear Marina! You have descended from Mt. Olympus on 7 clouds, with 7 laurel leaves in your hair, 7 paint stains on your tunic, and you have left a comment as intoxicating as 7 bowls of ambrosia!! I was knocked for 7 loops, did 7 somersaults, cried “Oh, rapture!!” 7 times, and was given 7 summons for disturbing the peace!!

      Thank you 7 times for your 7 x wonderful comment!! Now I must fall into 7 swoons and await an ambulance with the usual 7 attendants… 🚑👽👽👽👽👽👽👽😊

      Liked by 1 person

      • July 13, 2016 5:25 PM



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