The Homemade Illustrator- Taking time off to reboot!

I'm heading out for a bit to recharge and have some fun! Line dancing! Sandy beaches! Good books and fluffy pillows!!!

Freelancing makes me worry. I'm getting better, but it involves a lot of thinking and planning, and often...worrying. I'm glad I notice this so I can work on chainging that mindset.

Here's another episode of "The Homemade Illustrator". I hope you enjoy, and always feel like you can share your thoughts and experiences with me.


Creating a "Relationship List" of Agents, Art Directors, Clients, and Friends

I don't like the word, "marketing" even though I know that's my weirdness. But I get to choose what words to use for my mission. That's another word- mission instead of "business". So, I'm showing you, today, how I'll be creating a relationship list" for my "mission".


I start with an amazingly helpful book called..."The Book" by what a great name- so simple! It's the Essential Guide to Publishing for Children. I like it because it's updated every year and it has people's actual names so you can address your mailers to humans and not titles. I have 50 postcards to send every month, so I'm dedicating 35 to my special folks in the industry, 10 or so to my clients that I work with often, and 5 to some friends who continuously comission me. If I could, I would send a postcard to EVERYONE, but I can't.

Let's begin.

Do Your Research

Create a spreadsheet of:

  • Agents
  • Art Directors
  • Editors Who work with artists like you. It's important that you try and think like these folks and imagine what they're drawn to based on the artists and authors they use. If someone is publishing books about cute cupcakes and princesses, you might not want to send them moody Tim Burton like art. Or....if they seem to like contrast, maybe you do. Just feel them out.

Check people out on Twitter and get a grasp for their personality.

Look at some of your favorite books and see who worked on them. That'll tell you right there if you're work is appropriate.

Ask your fellow writers and illustrators if they have suggestions or even a list they use. If your work is similar, you can share lists. Woohoo!

Set up a plan to contact them often.

It's said that sending some postcards or mailers out 2-4 times a year is enough. I think even doing something every other month is great, especially if you're starting out. Get your work out there! Share what you do! You can make the most exciting and hilarious postcards. These are little gifts you are giving to the world.

Consistency is key (with everything you do). I am the queen of inconsistency, so I'm talking to my stubborn and doubtful self here, but it's important you make a plan and stick to it. It's also said it takes seven times for someone to see your ad, illustration, name, in order to remember you. So try and touch base with these folks 7 + times before you give up.

But please, don't give up. If you love the work you're doing, just think of all of this stuff as necessary push ups. You do push ups because you know you need to to gain strength, and they suck at first, but you'll appreciate you did them once they get easier and YOU get buff-tastic.

Find a Great Printer

This step kind of comes before the rest, but I thought I'd mention it anyway. Make sure you print with a company that can help your artwork shine. is great. So it is also fab.

Make a fun evening/morning out of it!

You get to enjoy this process if you want to. Ask some friends to come over and do a little co-working session together. Or treat yourself to a special coffee while you compile your list. This is the beginning of some great relationships! And you're celebrating the meaningful work you're doing by sharing it with protential new clients.

This is how I'm celebrating this process... my bestie Brianna works about 15 feet away (she's a kickass photographer) and she just wrote a post about working from home with energetic music, good people, and coffee. The key here: make it fun.


How do you connect with people and establish relationships? I have found some great friends on social media, but I feel like a noob when it comes to reaching clients on those platforms. What's worked for you? Not worked for you?

EXTRA EXTRA! I'll be launching a little campaign very soon! ...A One day sale of a special item, when all proceeds will be supporting creation and artistic expression. News about this soon, but please stay connected so you can hear about this announcement and help support the cause: @annieruygt on Twitter and Instagram.

Lots of LOVE!


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If you find spelling errors here, please let me know via the contact page. I'd love to make sure my content is useful to folks, and I don't have an editor right now! Thanks!

Extra! Extra! The Homemade Illustrator

I'm starting a series, friends. This is so I can share what I've learned, as well as start a community and encourage each other as artists, humans, and working folks. If you know me, I LOVE talking about the messy parts of life. I love what they teach us. So this series won't hold back, but I aim to make it fun. Fun and messy!

Please share with any creatives who might be interested. I'm also very open to topics such as "how to's" or discussing the freelance business, and also the emotional stuff that comes along with the freelance path. Oh goodness, I can talk about that forevah!!

TLDR: Let's start yappin' n' sharin'! I'm excited to take this journey with you.

Love, Annie

Leverage for making books for kids: tips and things to ponder.

I attended an SCBWI event recently where Antoinette Portisgave highly useful presentations to add leverage and juice to illustrating for children's books.

I wanted to share some of the ideas here, since I find there is information out there about illustrating for kids books, but it's rare to find info as thoughtful as what I heard at this past event.

  • Once you have birthed the idea, you are to serve it like a devoted lover! Do what you can to make choices that best deliver the idea/message/feelings you want you send out. Don't hold onto anything. If you want to create art for means of self expression, do this with another project.
  • Ask the question, "What is the best character for the story you are illustrating?".
  • Do you know your character well? What are their dreams, dislikes, doubts?
  • Play to your own strengths and illustrate texts that are a match for you!
  • Do a turnaround or model sheet so you can reference your character and stay consistent.
  • Think about book size. Size can add irony or emphasis to your illustration and theme.
  • Allow themes, motif, and metaphore, as in literature, to be told through the artwork. Antoinette does an amazing job with this one! She used reoccuring elements through the book to forshadow things to come!
  • Work out your ideas in the thumbnail stage. This is where you get the kinks out, make discoveries, and ask all the questions. Don't skip this and go into final art!
  • Consider the white space and the gutter. How can they be a presence? How can they can a valuable element within your illustration and design?

I hope these tips are useful for you! I found them enlightening, and I'm going to reference them as I work through some new ideas. It's so easy to get caught up in the drawing-- "does this look good enough? Is this hand right?" and forget that it really are the ideas that count.

Some of Antoinette's books are:


The book, Wait, especially made me teary eyed! **

Happy art making!

Fire Magic

I'm a super geek for life's metaphores. I want to draw them, talk about them, and write and write and write about them! So that's what you get today ;)

My dad up and all around Napa Valley and he mentioned to me that on his most recent trek up Mt. George in Napa, there was a fire poppy.

"They only surface after a fire. It's been 52 years since the last ones bloomed."

"Wow," I gawked at the photos of this lovely apple red flower.

Napa took a beating with the fires last Fall. 60 + homes were detroyed, and every month I find out more and more people, I know personally, lost theirs. So many folks have been trying to scramble and find places to live in the valley, so rent prices are high (higher than the normal high) and even more limited options than before. The community has been so supportive, however, and what could have been so traumatic of a situation, showed all of Napa how loving, strong, and ready natives are to take care of each other. I was amazed, and grateful I could be in Napa and witness this.

Now, after all that destruction, a beautiful, rare wildflower has sprung up, reminding us of our strength in the face of fire, and also the beauty and opportunities on the other side.

 "Fire Poppy" in Napa Valley, 2018

"Fire Poppy" in Napa Valley, 2018

Recently, I've been in a weird, up-and-down place. When I saw this fire poppy I felt my heart soften, and I realized that I'd been through my own little fire: a breakup from New York, a break up from a man I loved, and just before I left, a break up from old friends and coworkers at a company I'd invested all of myself into. Lots of fire, lots of destruction, lots of change. But see I have a hard time letting go. I hold everthing in my body. I resisted allowing the fires to burn and clear proper space for new opportunities, for new wildflowers. I resisted the fact that things hurt, and I needed time to heal.

No wonder I've been in this up-and-down place!

But when I saw that fire poppy...

They say the first step to healing a habit is awareness. So thank you, Dad, for sharing your pictures and interests with me. Thank you Mom for reminding me what I need is important, and helping me let go in your own way.

And for all the flowers in my life; my family, friends, and new projects.

One of these was a mural in Napa that came up the last couple months as I made my way back to California, and the Bay Area Book Festival in Berkeley, both of which were such great learning experiences, and well enjoyed breaks from the computer.


Letting go takes time and work. It's the kind of work you do on the yoga mat, or in the confidence of a friend. It's beautiful time spent and never has an agenda.

When I find myself in times of trouble, Mother Meary comes to me, speaking words of wisdom. Let it be. -The Beatles

And let it be I shall. I'm excited for the new things coming into my life, grateful for the past and its lessons and experiences, and ready for whatever life throws at me next. Who knows? Maybe it'll be a rare opportunity that can only come after loads and loads of frustration and heartache? Cool. I'm good with that. :)