Friday, February 6, 2009

Portfolio Drop-Off: Scholastic and Tor

Last week, I took my portfolios into the city for the necessary and dreaded "drop-off." It's the illustrator's way of getting your work in front of the right people (hopefully). Most publishers accept work on Monday, and this was the case for my two targets: Scholastic Press and Tor Books.

My first stop was Tor. The website gave the address, but not much more. So I did my best to talk my way past the doorman, who was simultaneously disinterested and difficult to understand. Finally, in a thick African accent, he told me to go to the wrong floor. I got further directions from someone walking around the building.

I was finally on the right floor, facing two double doors that looked like they shouldn't be opened. But I was desperate. I opened the doors and was standing in the middle of the Tor Books office. I stood there stunned for a few moments before asking the only person I saw if: A)I was in the right place and B) were they accepting portfolios.

She then sent me down the hall (really? just walk right in?) to Irene Gallo's office. The art director of Tor Books, Irene Gallo is a king-maker. She's the best at what she does, and as a result, can get the top-notch talent. Ms. Gallo can make your career if she likes your work.

So as I nervously handed her my portfolio, I was relieved that she didn't find it odd or intrusive for a complete stranger to show up in the office looking for a review. She was very pleasant and welcoming, and invited me to pick up my work later in the day.

That afternoon, I was standing in her office again, looking around at all the original illustrations displayed and stored around the room. It's amazing and intimidating to see an original Greg Manchess just draped over a desk and a Donato Giancola propped up against the wall. Ms. Gallo gave my work an honest look-through. She generally liked some of my pieces, but didn't have any work for me (not that I expected any work; I was just glad to get her opinion). So, that was a success.

Oh, and I also dropped off my work at Scholastic, didn't talk to anyone, and got a rejection letter with the wrong date on it (pictured). It's now hanging on on what I call my 'rejection letter wall,' serving as another piece of inspiration as I work. Speaking of which, back to it ...

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