Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Illustration Resumes: 1. Importance

There is a great amount of advice and information available on line and in books about how to create a resume. Everything from how it should be worded to how it should look. There are suggestions for outlining a resume, samples of resume content, examples of resume formats, recommendations for the typographic style of the resume, guidelines concerning the resume length, references for usage of color in resumes, phraseology lists for writing resume descriptions, paper stock and printing advice, electronic resume email and PDF tips, and the list goes on and on, etc., etc. And all this information is for anyone who is trying to put together a resume with the intention of supporting him or her and loved ones in the present economically based society. The point to be made here is that a resume cannot, and should not, be taken lightly. It is not something, as the iPhone app developers suggest, that can be put together in five to ten minutes. A resume can be instrumental in determining your future and should be taken very seriously, composed thoughtfully, and undertaken professionally. It can result in determining your future professional activity for the next 30 years. Particularly if you are seeking a full-time staff position at a media, marketing, or design firm, or at a corporation or advertising agency. And despite what you may read in discussion groups or blogs on the internet, a degree, whether a BFA, BA, BS or AA, will be necessary to find full-time employment with a company for any form of professional job capacity.

© 2013 Don Arday.

The 3 Essential Credentials

Now you have probably spend a great deal of time perfecting your portfolio, and rightfully so, but a strong portfolio is only one of the three important credentials to gain employment to be able to support yourself as an artist. The other two are a strong resume, and certainly not least...you.

Why A Resume Is Important 

A strong resume, a.k.a., a listing of your professional knowledge, can be as important a credential as your portfolio itself. Here is one example of this. An illustrator applies for a job with a prominent animation firm. The creative department reviews the illustrator’s work and decides to interview the illustrator. All goes well. From there the department head recommends the illustrator be hired based on what was considered to be the most important qualification, the illustrator’s work. The recommendation goes to the executives of the company and to the human resource manager. At this point in the review process the resume takes over for the portfolio as the main credential that is under review. The individuals who actually do the hiring, being non-artists, trust the visual decision to the creative department, but for the hiring one, they must come to their own conclusion. That conclusion will be based on a thorough review of a resume, and if the illustrator meets the desired company qualifications, further interviews. The portfolio opens the door to a possible offer, and the resume and illustrator’s interviews seal the deal. Freelancers should note that many companies who commission illustrators are now asking for a copy of the illustrator's resume to be kept on file for company record keeping and future review. 

Resume Upkeep

Returning for a moment to the portfolio and to the work therein, most illustrators invest a decent sum of money and spend many hours on, not only the work that is contained in the portfolio, but the appearance of the portfolio and how it functions. Many illustrators have more than one portfolio and also portfolios in different forms such as books, websites, PowerPoint presentations, etc., each for a different marketing need. However, most illustrators have only one resume, and that resume usually is only evident in one format. Conversely, illustrators are constantly updating and altering their portfolios, adding new pieces, rearranging work, etc., but a resume is usually not maintained with the same enthusiasm as the portfolio, and in some instances is sadly neglected. Until, that is when it is needed, and at that point, it becomes very challenging to update the resume content if six or eight months have elapsed. Although it sounds unbelievable, significant achievements can easily be forgotten in a short period of time, especially for a highly productive illustrator. A good resume provides not only a list of your skills and experience, but it serves as a reference for your place in the professional world. Your resume should be as well maintained as your portfolio is. New information and achievements should be added soon after they occur. You should add items you are aware of to your resume regularly. But there might be items that you may not be aware of. To find these, you should form the habit of doing an “ego search”, in other words search for information about yourself on your favorite search engines. By doing this from time to time, you might discover citations of your work, or that your work has been shown or that you have been mentioned in some new sources. This information can serve to help you update your resume accurately.

Courtesy of Greenfield Belser.
Special Note: 
As I was writing this article, and for the sake of my own curiosity, I decided to perform an ego search on myself, which I did with a surprising result. I found my work was displayed, and I was cited in a book that I was totally unaware of titled, 25 Years of Legal Branding

The Bottom Line 

It is important consider your resume as a factual resource of all that you have spend many hours accomplishing; from your education, to your skills, to honors and to accolades. Regardless as to whether or not your portfolio presents “your voice” visually, your resume can speak for all that your portfolio cannot.

Now that you are convinced about the importance of a resume, and keeping it up to date, you can look for additional information specifically customized for illustration resumes in upcoming articles.

Further information about portfolio development, which will coincide with that on resumes, can be found at the following links.