Grow Some Balls: Contacting Your Industry Icon's
WHO’S DOING THE WORK YOU SHOULD BE DOING?
As creatives, we all have those people in our industry that inspire us and get us turned on about our work again. Allen Ruiz, Austin Kleon, and Sil Van Der Woerd are just some of the artists that inspire me daily. All of these individuals are part of my icon list. This means they all do creative work that motivates me to learn more, expand my creative arsenal, and get back to the work that makes me happy.
To get started building your list, think of the creative people that you keep up with either online or in person. What makes them creative? What kind of work are they producing? What is the quality of that work? Does their work inspire and motivate you?
ICONS ARE PEOPLE WHO WE FEEL PRODUCE GREAT WORK THAT IS CONSISTENTLY USED AS INSPIRATION AND MOTIVATION TO FUEL OUR OWN CREATIVE PROJECTS.
When you ask yourself those questions and really narrow down who it is that truly inspires you, write down their names. Make sure your list is always growing and always changing. If you are feeling stuck and can't seem to get your list started, ask some friends and colleagues who motivates and inspires them. It's okay to steal someone else's inspiration; there is enough to go around.
START DOING YOUR RESEARCH
Once you've jotted down a few names, it's time to get to work! Start researching your ass off, find out where these creative people come from, personally and professionally. What drives them to do great work? Who are their icons? What is their creative routine? And most importantly, if possible, find their personal contact information. A personal email address is ideal.
Social media rules the world. Make sure that you are following and friending your icons online. Not only is this flattering, but everyone wants another follower and friend request in order to build their brand. Social media can and should be used to get people's attention. Make sure that your online presence reflects your creative work. Make sure that when someone takes a quick peek at your Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook, that it instantly becomes a memorable experience.
MAKE A CONNECTION
It's time to start building your network, making connections, and being bold! Begin drafting some personalized emails to your icons.
Remember that you are simply attempting to make a connection and open a line of communication and collaboration.
Each email will be different depending on what you want from each person on your list. Maybe you want to work for one of your icons or maybe you just want to brainstorm and collaborate on a project. Whatever it is, make sure you give yourself a day to allow time to make as many edits to your email as necessary. Do not click send until you feel your email is refined and ready. When writing your email, remember these four things: keep it simple, keep it clear, be human, and gush (but not too much)! If you feel it's necessary, you can have a family member or friend proofread your email before you send it. Depending on the type of friends you have, this can either be beneficial or detrimental, so be careful and choose wisely.
SIDE NOTE: PERSONALLY I RARELY LET OTHERS READ MY EMAILS BEFORE I SEND THEM.
Before you press send, it is important to remember that not everyone is going to respond, not everyone is nice, and not everyone has time to get back to you as quickly as you would like. It’s okay, breathe… a little ego crushing is good for you every once in a while.
THE LIST THAT NEVER WAS
Most of us spend our whole lives idolizing other people who are doing the work we wish we were doing. When we don’t use those people as motivation and inspiration, we quickly start becoming jealous and envious. We can even start to believe that we dislike them or need to slander their work in front of others. I see this happen often because the energy that once fueled us with inspiration and motivation isn’t being channeled in a constructive way anymore. In order to avoid this, make sure you are always updating and changing your list. Set goals for yourself, maybe you will commit to contacting one icon a month.
SIDE NOTE: AS SOON AS I ADD A NEW ICON TO MY LIST, I START WRITING MY EMAIL IMMEDIATELY. SOMETIMES I EDIT AND SOMETIMES I DON’T. SOMETIMES IT'S ONE SENTENCE AND SOMETIMES IT'S TEN.
Find what works best for you, and stick with it. If you can do this I promise, you will begin to make positive connections with some amazing people and some incredible things will begin happening in your career as a creative.
NOW… PRESS SEND
For those of you who aren’t ready to press send just yet, I have made something with you in mind.
ICON EXAMPLE LETTER
[Full Name Of Icon]
My name is [...], I currently work at/with [...] and I have been a fan of yours for many years. At the moment I am carefully building a list of people in my industry that I admire and draw consistent inspiration from. You are one of those people on my list. I did my research and I discovered that you are from [...] and that you use to work with [...]. I was hoping to start a conversation with you about collaborating on a side project. I know you are busy with your other projects such as [...] but I would love the opportunity to work with you. Below is my portfolio website, social media handles and contact information. Please contact me at your earliest convenience.
All the best,
[Social Media Handles]