Monday, August 23, 2021

Miss New York Washington Post 8-23-21


Miss New York, Vanessa Williams, right, poses with Jo Ann Miller, who was Miss New York in 1973, at a champagne reception honoring Williams in August 1983. A month later, Williams would arrive in Atlantic City, N.J., to compete for the 1984 Miss America crown. Her presence was immediately noticed by pageant insiders, who quickly revised their predictions about who might win. (Ron Frehm/AP) By Amy Argetsinger Today at 6:00 a.m. EDT 

From “There She Was: The Secret History of Miss America,” © 2021 by Amy Argetsinger, to be published by One Signal Publishers/Atria Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Inc. Printed by permission.  See the entire article here: file:///C:/Users/Jo%20Ann/Downloads/Miss%20New%20York.pdf

Saturday, October 24, 2020

Secrets to your Success as an Illustrator - Mastermind Marketing For Illustrators Webinar

The secret to your success is to see yourself as a business and carve out time to fully develop as an artist AND as a business. As a business, you will need a consistent style/brand, a professional website and you will need to promote your work across many channels. Please don’t ignore online marketing – it’s THE way our industry is doing business these days. 


Your marketing strategy should be centered on the target market that you are aiming for and those who wish to hire you.  If you are not sure about your target audience and clients, please feel free to schedule a time on my calendar for a free consultation.


We can help you with this! The Directory of illustration is a full-service marketing platform that connects you with the most active creatives online, in print, through social media and through our email subscription program. We offer everything you need to increase your visibility and connect you with new potential clients. 




1- First of all you’ll need a consistent style/brand, and a body of work. Don’t steal other people's ideas. An original is worth more than a copy. Find your voice and Be YOU!


2-Having a responsive web site is a crucial first step in marketing your art. It’s important to have a place where you can send creative directors, commissioners and art producers to see your work. A poorly designed website will only ruin your chances of getting hired. If you need a website, or your website needs a makeover, send me a message and I’ll set you up for a conversation with our SiteDesignWorks manager Steve, to see the free customized WordPress templates and discount hosting.


Since your portfolio often serves as your first impression, it’s important to put some thought into it.

-  Only show your best work

-  Organize your work into categories or separate portfolios so your visitors aren’t so overwhelmed

-  Make sure your bio is well written and interesting - that you sound knowledgeable, trustworthy, educated, motivated, and creative

-  Add a blog

-  Add an online store



3- Be where your audience is:

Where do art directors, creative directors and commissioners go to assign jobs? is still the #1 site for illustrators also







Post at least once a week on your social media platforms and keep creating new images that are exciting and commercial


4- Reach your audience through email campaigns is our email subscription program and a great way to put your work directly in the inbox of a creative.

Make it personal, have a creative subject line and introduce yourself, providing a link to your website.

Keeping potential clients aware of your latest work through a regular email newsletter is a fundamental aspect of good marketing. If you’re interested to know more about an email campaign, send me a message and I’ll set you up for a conversation with Kayla Riveros.


5-Consider signing up for one of the Directory of illustration marketing packages, which will put you in front of the largest audience of qualified art buyers in the world. We have marketing programs to fit any budget.


Here is a link to the DI packages:


Remember this: You are a business, do your best to present yourself consistently and professionally, and know that I’m here to help!


Questions? Let's chat soon! Please schedule a time that is convenient for you:


Jo Ann Miller

772.213.3044 EST

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Engaging ways to talk about your illustration Creative Voice

As a Senior Illustration Consultant with Directory of Illustration I was just asked by the Association of Illustrators and the World Illustration Awards to offer helpful hints on creating engaging ways to talk about illustration and promotion. They asked for tips on ‘how to tell the story of your work or ‘ways to reach new commissioners and clients'. My experience has proven that when an illustrator incorporates my time tested advice into their presentation they’ll have a renewed sense of confidence and gain a significant competitive advantage. 

PASSION with a purpose, CAMPAIGN & APPLICATION” Aspects of Your Creative Voice

‘Telling a story about your work’ and ‘Creating a successful marketing plan’ begin by developing, presenting and showcasing “Passion with a purpose, Campaign & Application” aspects of YOUR CREATIVE VOICE.

It’s really pretty simple…let’s break it down:

PASSION – What are you best at? If you had to pick a ‘dream project’ what would that be? If you know what your passion is in your work you can build your portfolio around that. Ask yourself: what is the style and medium I love to work in? What are my favorite subject matters to illustrate? What images have I received positive feedback on?

PURPOSE - What are the values that provide meaning in your life? What things inspire, motivate or intrigue you? What can you contribute to the illustration world?  When you know what you can do with your illustration career that is important in the industry, you’ve found your purpose.  

CAMPAIGN - Portfolios with the most consistency usually stand out the most. Consistency in your portfolio shows that you are competent, efficient and can create more than just one of something. You need to demonstrate that you can deliver exactly what you advertise in your portfolio. Developing a recognizable style will give your illustrations a voice. It’s okay to have 2 or 3 styles as long as you can build on them. A campaign of consistent images will amplify your voice. Consistency also builds trust with editors, art directors and publishers who are hiring.

APPLICATION/USAGE – This is all about getting hired! When a client is interested in hiring an illustrator, they value being able to point to an illustrator’s existing work for reference. How will your illustration be used to solve a client’s visual problem? What is the illustration’s purpose? Is it conveying a concept or message? or selling a book, magazine or product? 

More and more the field of illustration is shaping the world we live in. There is always a need for illustration to solve a problem, tell a story or sell a product. Illustrators are getting work from many different places, but in order to get the work, VISIBILITY EVERYWHERE is key! You will never realize the infinite possibility of opportunities that exist unless you market yourself extensively. By doing so you will have a better chance of being seen and getting hired. Promoting and marketing your work to target all the major players and niche markets is necessary.

Be sure to ask the right questions to know exactly how to win the job. And don't give up if the bidding process doesn't go your way. Be positive about the connection you have established with this new potential client and work to build on it for the future.

Always remember the value YOU bring to the project and what your ‘creative voice’ offers to the world.

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Reflections on ICON10 : The Future Is Bright, and Animated, By Anne Telford, Co- Chair The First Illustration Conference

Anne Telford, Editor-at-Large, Communications Arts Magazine, and I were Co-Chairs of the First Illustration Conference held in Santa Fe in 1999. Today, Anne eloquently reports on the diverse and distinctive sessions from this year's conference in Detroit.

Twenty years after helping to found a national conference for illustrators, I sat in a hotel ballroom with 700+ others to watch ICON10 unfold with a joyous gospel choir welcoming us all to Detroit, Michigan. Indeed, that soulful welcome set the stage for an inclusive conference—many speakers were people of color, several came from other nations, and there were more female speakers than in past conferences. This anniversary conference also had co-presidents for the first time: Julie Murphy and Len Small.

From its inception in 1999 in Santa Fe, to its present vibrant entity, the road has sometimes been rocky and occasionally steep, but a succession of talented, entrepreneurial illustrators have guided ICON into an inspiring vehicle for community with an increased focus on the importance of art and creativity. Director Mark Heflin has lovingly guided the conference and is an effective cheerleader.

ICON10 addressed diversity, while refraining from overt politicization (despite the overwhelming output of anti-Trump illustration, non of the creators of those pervasive images, were on the roster). Anne Ishii and Graham Kolbeins, founders of lifestyle brand Massive Goods brought sex into the conversation showing images from My Brother’s Husband, a book by a gay manga artist and introducing queer art and sex into the design debate. Animation and VR capture were center stage this conference. Chris Sickels of Red Nose Studio and Richard Borge were two animation/stop motion artists soaking up the sessions. Ako Castuera makes sculpture and is known for her work as a storyboard artist and writer on the TV show Adventure Time. Her presentation was engaging and inspiring. Many of the young speakers and attendees are exploring animation and VR as additional outlets for their creativity.

Detroit with its maker vibe, and creative renaissance was a perfect location. Don Kilpatrick was a passionate representative of this spirit, showing his woodblock prints and studio in a well-received presentation.

The opening keynote was Tyree Guyton and Jenenne Whitfield, founder/president of The Heidelberg Project, a sprawling mutating art installation in a blighted neighborhood that has been transformed into an international cultural destination. Friday’s keynote speaker Emil Ferris, the cartoonist whose 2017 graphic novel My Favorite Thing is Monsters, brought many in the audience to tears and Gail Andersen closed out the conference with spicy behind-the-scenes stories of illustrator hijinks, as well as her path to design stardom at Rolling Stone, et al.

R.O. Blechman and his son Nicholas offered a wonderful peek at a warm and robust relationship between two generations of trenchant social observers. R.O. opened their session by stating, “Fine art vs. illustration. Come on!” The two garnered many laughs with their behind-the-scenes observations and delightful camaraderie.

Attorney Chuck Cordes advised registering your name as a trademark to protect your brand. Make noise on your own behalf; confront the infringer. Vandana Taxali, an intellectual property attorney and artist representative for her brother, the noted Canadian illustrator, Gary Taxali, offered excellent legal advice:
.have a solid client contract
.have your own negotiables, state these first before getting into the contract
.see client as a collaborator, not just a client
.ask for more $

Taxali touted Blockchain technology as a new method to track usage of copyright images. Check for more information and useful forms.

Marti Golan of Reader’s Digest claimed mailers are dead, and advised employing a good email blast to get in front of art directors. It’s imperative to have a solid link, if it takes more than a few seconds to bring up your work, she’s on to the next one. She also advocates entering contests to help get your art noticed.

One of the most dynamic components was Kaleidoscope, four five-minute presentations including Eunsan Huh, who wanted to learn Icelandic so she began deconstructing words through illustrations creating a visual aid for learning the notoriously difficult language, resulting in the delightful book Iceland In Icons.

The overall mood was upbeat, hopeful, and focused on personal stories, new outlets and new ways of creating images (one speaker worked in VR the entire 20 minutes, creating mesmerizing loops and waves of color). The majority of speakers were compelling, open, and engaging. Breaks, parties and outside events were joyous and many friendships were made and old ones cemented with cocktails in the hotel bar. (There was also a daily Sober ICON 12-step meeting.) I rank it as one of the best so far. And the closing party at the cavernous and slightly spooky landmark Michigan Theatre— now used as a parking garage—was stellar

Robert Hunt gave an intensive workshop before the conference proper that attendees were raving about afterwards. In a main stage presentation he urged attendees to bring diversity to illustration. People need to bring their own experiences and identity to a project, he said. He also advised having empathy for the intended audience, and for your clients. In the end, it’s all about love. Love your work, love your community.”

I could not think of better advice in this divisive year. The ICON community is thriving and is more diverse and visionary than ever. I can’t wait for 2020 and ICON11. I think we should hold it in Puerto Rico!

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Judging the MISS NEW YORK COMPETITION FOR MISS AMERICA at the Shea's Performing Arts Theatre in Buffalo, New York

It's finally summer - but I haven't been sitting in the pool! 

As a former Miss New York (that's me in the black velvet dress) I had the honor to judge the Miss New York Organization competition (for Miss America) this year at the Shea's Performing Arts Theatre in my hometown of Buffalo, New York. 

Working with so many talented illustrators over the years it was easy to recognize the talent in this young woman.

Nia Imani Franklin was the outstanding winner of Talent (she has a Masters in Music Composition), Swimsuit and Interview competitions. Congratulations to all 51 state winners competing in Miss America in September in Atlantic City!!

The last time I judged, Vanessa Williams won Miss America!! 

Thursday, April 12, 2018


So many of my Directory advertisers are getting asked to submit proposals and estimates for national and international work they know will pay well...really well - so they ask me for advice. I want to share the best input I've been given from professionals, two leading artist representatives, who negotiate all day long.

Remember the value you bring to the project and be sure to ask the right questions to know exactly how to win the job. And don't give up if the bidding process doesn't go your way. Be positive about the connection you have established with this new potential client and work to build on it for the future.

Here's the complete Q & A: TAKE CHARGE OF YOUR PRICING!! Here are some general questions YOU may have and advice on how to respond...

Scott Laumann   -

Question: I have worked with some major illustration publications. Work has been a bit slow lately and I’m taking on some smaller clients. I don’t really want to adjust my rates, but at the same time I understand that budgets vary from client to client. What is the best way to educate a client on my pricing structure, as well as to charge a rate that is appropriate and not too low?

Illustration is one of those subjects where clients have a hard time understanding the price structure, since there are no hard costs to accommodate pricing, like hard drives, equipment rental, etc. The best way to validate your worth for a job is to base it on industry standards for illustration projects similar to what you’re doing for your client.

The Graphic Artists Guild is a great starting place to justify what rates are acceptable in the marketplace right now. The problem is, editorial and other publications tend to pay editorial rates, not advertising rates, and these rates can be half the costs of an advertising project.

Question: Any tips for building sales confidence in new commercial illustrators? I don’t want my sales inexperience to reflect poorly on my work – and I do want to turn interest into sales.

As an illustrator new to the field, learning how to build sales confidence can be daunting. There are so many variables to consider when working in the advertising, publishing or editorial worlds. In the field of commercial illustration, potential clients don’t want to feel like they are being “sold to,” so effectively “selling yourself” comes from a combination of things you project on the phone or through your emails – once a potential client reaches out to you. When it comes to turning potential jobs into actual sales, the key areas you should be aware of and work on include:

1. Learn How to be Personable and Accessible When Communicating With a Potential Buyer
If you maintain a professional demeanor and are truly excited about the project, buyers will hear that in your voice and know that you want to work with them. There is so much competition out there that how you handle yourself on the phone, your enthusiasm (without sounding too pushy) and your ability to help them with costs – or with more of your work, to help them move forward – will set you apart. In this market, it’s the little things that push you to the top of the list! I have had illustrators who were considered for a job, but the client needed to see more work to help them sell the illustrator to the client’s client. Can you offer this? Are you willing to do a test if necessary, to show them what you can do?

2. Show Confidence in Your Work and Knowledge of Commercial-Project Pricing and Processes
The more knowledge you have in the pricing arena, the more confident you will be. You need to be involved in illustration groups such as the AIGA (, Graphic Artists Guild ( and the Society of Illustrators ( so you can understand what others in your field are going through. By keeping in touch with your industry peers, you will have a better idea of how to price your work, what questions you should be asking and which requests are just unrealistic. When I have interest from a client, the first thing I do is find out the scope of the project, the usage, if they are supplying any reference, what in the artist’s work inspired them to think of that particular illustrator for this job and, last but not least, whether they have a budget in mind.

3. Listen – One of the Most Important Skills You Must Develop!
How well you listen has a major impact on how effective you can be for your client. You have to listen to obtain information, to understand and to learn. After listening to the assignment parameters, the goals of the ad/illustration and any concerns the client or art director might have, you’ll be able to offer better suggestions – and show you will be a good collaborator.

4. Learn How to Say “No”
If a project isn’t right for you stylistically, or you can’t meet the deadline, or the client is not willing to pay what you feel is a fair price, you need to be able to say “no.” In these instances, the most helpful thing you can say to a potential client is, “I’m not the right person for the job because…” This builds your credibility. Yes, you may lose a sale, but you’ll probably gain an advocate because you shot straight with them. It’s also a good idea to suggest another illustrator who might be a better fit, to show that you want to help your potential client find the best solution for his or her project.

It’s also important to learn how to bring in more potential clients. Research your competition and find out who they’re working for. Find out what accounts are using more illustration in their campaigns, then research who the creatives are so you can market them directly. They know how to use illustration properly – and they’re not afraid to!

Question: I understand the value of including some personal work on my website, but where and when should I not market personal work?

As agents, we can’t stress enough how important it is for commercial artists and photographers to create personal projects. It’s at the top of the list of most important things you can do to keep your work interesting and evolving.

Personal Work = Personal Connections
Creating personal work not only gives an artist an opportunity to create new imagery for his or her portfolios, but should open the door for experimentation – creating for the pure joy of creating, no strings attached! – and feed the soul by creating work that comes from purely personal passion.
In many instances, potential clients are just as interested in this work – if not more interested – as they are commercial pieces. It allows them to see a broader dimension of the artist and helps them understand the artist on a more personal level. We love showing and promoting most personal work!

The goal of marketing your personal work is to intrigue clients and get them interested in working with you. You want them to move you from the giant pool of artists vying for their attention to the much smaller group that already has their attention and is being considered for work.

Pick Your Spots Carefully
But there are times when personal work should not be promoted within the commercial area of an artist’s business. An obvious example is not promoting personal work that’s not 100-percent complete, technically or otherwise. That’s a given.
Another good example is if the personal work is too erotic or sexual in nature. Although this work can be very interesting on a fine-art level, it’s not appropriate for most commercial venues. There’s a line where the sensual aspect of nudity crosses over to erotica, and it’s best to err on the side of caution.

If a personal project is too controversial, you should also avoid marketing it in a commercial venue. Examples of such work include pieces that make strong political or religious statements. Such work might be more appropriate as an editorial statement or as material for your blog. Think about the old adage that tells you, in social settings, to avoid sex, religion and politics!

Another example of personal work to keep out of your marketing materials is work that’s just so abstract a potential client probably won’t see any application for it. Your personal work should be promoted in a commercial venue to not only showcase your talent and creative thinking, but to inspire potential clients. In the commercial world, it’s great if that inspiration can somehow be applied to our business of advertising. Creatives need to see a connection between your work and what they create … a suggestion of how your vision can enhance theirs. If you’re marketing with an image that’s so artistic that it has no real application, you’re going to confuse people and lose an opportunity to shine.

Creatives have limited time to review what’s in front of them, and they continually look for inspiration. When a wonderful eblast or a direct mail piece with an inspiring or influential image hits their desk and they take notice, you have achieved your goal.
You also have to bear in mind how much competition there is out there, doing the same thing as you. Make sure you’re showing your strengths in a way that encourages targeted clients to use you.

Question: Clients always ask for an estimate, and I tend to lowball – any good strategies for coming up with a proper estimate?

Creating an accurate estimate is the best thing you can do for the client, your own illustration business and the industry. Even though no two estimates are the same, most can still follow a general outline for what should be included. Here is a list of questions to ask your potential client to help create an accurate estimate that fulfills both their expectations and your needs.


1. How did you find out about me? Is there something in your portfolio that inspired them to think of you for this project? Make sure you understand exactly what they’re referencing so you can make sure you’re comfortable executing it, and are clear on what they’re hiring you to do. This will also help you determine the level of complexity of the illustration they’re looking for.

Project Description

2. Do you have a layout? How complex are the illustrations? Are they single-spot illustrations or more complex scenarios? Are they providing any references for you to use? Are they looking for you to concept illustration ideas with the creatives, or are you working from a pre-approved layout that will not allow for much change? Is this black-and-white or a four-color piece? Are you working in layers?
3. What is the timing for the initial pencils and the final illustration? Usually, you should have three to four days for the initial pencils, and after client approval, another five to seven days to deliver the final. Two rounds of pencils are standard; anything more should have an additional charge.

Usage, Licensing and Copyright

4. Usage is very important in helping you price your project. Note that consumer advertising will be priced much higher than illustrations for a children's book or direct mail.

Does the client want national, regional, international, web or worldwide uses? How long is the usage? What is the media use: consumer ad, trade ad, packaging, direct mail, billboards, brochures?

5. If clients say they want unlimited use, you should explore if this is really what they need and offer alternative licensing to match their budget. Often times, clients are not “educated” in this area of rights-based pricing; they will be much more understanding if you take the time to outline that they will ultimately save money by purchasing just the usage they need. For example, if they see the difference in cost for a two-, three- or five-year use, this may be more in-line with what they really need vs. unlimited use/time. 
Most clients aren't planning on a consumer magazine campaign or any out of home use, they may just want unlimited collateral (direct mail and consumer or trade brochures and inserts) use. Find out specifically what they’ll use the artwork for and tailor your pricing to match.

6. If at all possible, never do "work for hire," give buyouts or sell your copyright. You’re essentially giving away all of your rights as the creator of the artwork and giving ownership to your client. They in turn can reuse and resell the artwork in any way they want.
You can still retain your copyright even if it's unlimited use, worldwide for an unlimited time and exclusive to them. If they feel they may need the artwork for other uses down the road or for a longer period of time, these extended uses can be renegotiated or factored into the original contract as well.
Remember, they want to use you and you want to work with them. This is a negotiation to give them what they need and pay you fairly for the creation and use of the work. You’re working together to create a fair contract for both parties.

7. Will this image have resale potential in stock or other markets? Does your licensing give you this option?

Keep Budgets & Other Paperwork in Mind

8. Editorial and book clients usually have a predetermined budget. Sometimes you can renegotiate if you feel it’s too low for the amount of work they’re requesting. You should always get a credit line for editorial or pro-bono work.

9. Do they have an allotted budget already in mind? If not, when do they need numbers?

10. Is there a contract? You should have your own contract in addition to anything they supply.

Hang Up

11. Never give an estimate while you’re on the phone with your client. It’s best to hang up and think about what you’re comfortable with.

12. Review your estimate before submitting it. A great source for guidelines for estimating various projects is the “Graphic Artists Guild Handbook” at


13. After you have submitted your estimate and it’s approved, make sure to have it signed and sent back to you.

14. After the project is confirmed, you should bill 50% of the job. This is important for cash flow since illustration projects can stretch over a number of weeks with the back-and-forth for approvals. This is also important with a new client that you don't have a payment history with.

15. In addition to billing upon confirmation AND having a new client sign your contract, you may want to get a purchase order from you client as it is a contract to purchase your services from your buyer.

Now that all the paperwork is in order, relax and have fun creating a fantastic new piece with your client!

Q&A Courtesy of my friends at Friend + Johnson (illustration representation agency) who allowed me to share the best advice they have about pricing that they would give an illustrator. 

Have a successful day!
Jo Ann
Marketing Expert/Illustration Consultant
Founder/Past President ICON, The Illustration Conference

Friday, July 22, 2016


10 year old Elliana, a 5th Grade student at Granville Central School District in upstate New York, was invited to illustrate for a local children's book author. See how beautifully Elliana's illustration stands up to last year's New York Times Best Illustrated Children's Books. 

Elliana's illustrated Page 8 from 'Library Lucy, Sleepy Secrets at the Pember Library and Museum'
book written by Kristina E. Martin

Elliana takes great pride in her multitude of talents including martial arts, singing, swimming, horseback riding and she loves and cares for a farm full of animals too!

The New York Times Best
Illustrated Children’s Books of 2015