My Never, Ever List by Gary Lacoste

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My Never, Ever List by Gary Lacoste

NEVER EVER LET FEAR DRIVE THE BUS
This is great advice I heard from licensing guru Cheryl Phelps. We all are afraid of failing or coming up short, and that fear can paralyze us into not making changes or choices that in the long run could further your career. Five years ago I made the decision to stop working on licensed artwork projects (Disney, Nickelodeon, etc.) and promote my own style. I was incredibly afraid of not getting work, though that fear wasn’t as strong as the excitement I had from doing projects in my own style. It was a slow transition but over time I’ve been able to stop working on licensed artwork and now work on everything in my own style.

NEVER EVER DO JUST ENOUGH
When working on projects be sure to follow, down to the smallest detail, any art direction given and then add to that. For example, if it’s a book cover, maybe you give an idea on how to work the title into the illustration. Or you sketch up a fun illustration for the author’s picture on the back cover. It’s a little extra work that wasn’t requested but will go a long way to show the art director you’re thinking about the whole product and not just the illustrations.

NEVER EVER FORGET PROMOS (because clients will forget you)Gary Lacoste
It’s always good, even when busy, to keep up a regular schedule of sending both printed postcards and e-mail promos. Though you may have to tell someone your schedule is full, you’ll have that contact to touch base with once your schedule isn’t so full.

NEVER EVER ANSWER EMOTIONAL EMAILS (or texts) RIGHT AWAY
When you’re stressed out trying to negotiate via email a particularly difficult contract or you’re being asked to change something for the 50th time, it’s always better to take a breath and let cooler heads prevail. Though you shouldn’t take forever with a reply, if you need a little extra time to center yourself you can always send a quick email saying you’re running out to a meeting but will get back to them later that day or first thing tomorrow. “It’s better to sleep on things beforehand than lie awake about them afterwards.”

NEVER EVER THINK ABOUT WORK ALL THE TIME
With the majority of illustrators at home working all hours of the day or night it’s easy to figuratively take your work down to the dinner table or out to your kids’ ball game, especially when you’re struggling with something. But giving your mind a break and being present and enjoying life will refocus you when you sit back down to that drawing board. I promise! And your loved ones will enjoy you more too!

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Gary Lacoste

Gary LaCoste is a freelance illustrator living in western Massachusetts. He started his career in 1998 working primarily with licensed characters for the toy and game industry. Clients included Hasbro, Nickelodeon, and Lego. In 2007 his focus expanded to include children’s publishing where he gets to promote his own illustration style. Gary has illustrated over 25 titles (and counting…). See more of his work at garylacoste.com

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