Monday, September 21, 2015

Ed Shems Wards Off Art Directors

Ed Shems creates fun illustrations that appeal to both children and adults. I absolutely love his hilarious superhero work. He does very cool illustrations that remind me of some of my favorite cartoons! Check out Ed's work on his website and see all his great work:

For those of you who are tired of having Art Directors piling up work on your art desk -- Ed made this post is for you. 


Working in the picture book industry is a dream come true for many of us but unless you treat your business as a business, you may start losing out on future projects.

“Who me?” Yes, even you could use a reminder of how to play well with others. Most of us work every day without much human interaction aside from Instagram posts and tweets so when it comes time to respond to direct interaction, whether from a client or a loved one, we can easily forget what one typically considers obvious rules of the road.

There are many lists out there for what you should do to win the favor of Art Directors but not enough of them are riddled with sarcasm. Very few lists need a wink qualifier after each bullet. So here’s my list, in no particular order, of ways to make Art Directors run in the other direction. Some of these might even make an art director quit her job and move to another country and sell fruit by the side of the road. If you're not into sarcasm, simply invert this list, fold it diagonally four times and then toss out a window.

How to Make an Art Director Run Away
  1. Take your time replying to emails. 
  2. Skip proofreading your emails- it only wastes precious drawing time. 
  3. When you’re on the phone with an art director, consider clipping your toenails. 
  4. Go see that movie. Deadlines are suggestions. 
  5. If you forget to size your illustration properly, the client can fix it in Photoshop. 
  6. Avoid getting input from fellow creatives; they’ll just tell you to change stuff. 
  7. Bored with the project? Annoyed with the AD? Talk about it on social media (and do it using all capital letters). 
  8. Final art at 72 dpi. Yup. 
  9. The sky is blue. Always. 
  10. Inconsistencies with recurring characters from one illustration to the next add charm to any project. 
  11. During business hours always answer your phone: "Thank you for calling Movie Phone." It's hysterical. 
  12. Work in progress updates are not your responsibility. Wait until your AD messages you after you miss a deadline. 
  13. There’s no need to follow up once the final art is in the hands of your AD. 
  14. Not sure about something? Guess. 

So, you get the point. Common sense rules. Does it drive you crazy when a cashier doesn’t smile or say “thank you”? Then be friendly when speaking on the phone with YOUR clients and potential clients.

A good attitude, an openness to collaborate, and your best work will serve you and your career well. Oh, and it wouldn’t hurt to have an email signature that includes your phone number. And consistent branding on your website, promotions and invoices. (Not ALL my lists have to be sarcastic!)

Ed Shems is an illustrator of books for kids who also creates animations for clients, editorials for magazines, pictures for the education market and pancakes for his kids.

Follow Ed:

Ed Shems | edfredned illustration & design

Ed Shems is an illustrator of books for kids who also creates animations for clients, editorials for magazines, pictures for the education market and pancakes for his kids.


  1. Thanks for the tips! It always pays off to be nice doesn't it?

    1. It absolutely does! Maybe not right away but your good (or bad) karma is rewarded.

  2. Thank you, Ed, for the advise.

  3. There are easily hundreds more recommendations- please feel free to add to my list in the comments here (it's your choice whether to be sarcastic!).

  4. I'm working on your number 10 here. Currently, I'm wrestling with 5 chestnut characters, and giving them more permanent characterizations is harder than I ever thought. I'm working on 'attitude' now, for each of them. Each step I do, however, brings it in tighter. Then listening to others helps immensely. Thank you for all your other tips also - great post.