-By Lauren Panepinto

If there’s one question I get more than any other, it’s how do you get access to Art Directors? Many of the Muddy Colors columnists have spoken about the importance of professional feedback, and how it can really light a fire under you and push your work to the next level. If you want to be commissioned for illustration jobs, who better to talk to than the very Art Directors you want to be hired by? But we’re a busy folk, and even though we make ourselves as available as possible at events and conventions, it can still be hard to catch some time with us. For shy artists uncomfortable with networking in crowds, it can be even harder. And if geography or budget don’t allow travel to conventions and seminars, then you’ve always been at a bit of a disadvantage.

One of the very first columns I wrote on this blog was about Approaching Art Directors: how to find us at conventions, professional events, and on social media. Then there’s the whole article on Portfolio Reviews. And then a whole article about how important face to face networking is. Every year at cons like Spectrum and others, Art Directors give hundreds of portfolio reviews to artists…but what happens if you don’t live in a major city where companies that use art are based? What if you can’t afford to get to conventions? What if you need more help than just the 5 or 10 minute portfolio review you’re able to snag with an AD even if you do get to attend a convention they are at?

Hunting Art Directors is an important part of the job of becoming a professional illustrator…but it’s also the part that artists universally have the hardest time with.

Now, I am happy to see that Art Order, the site run by Jon Schindehette, who has Art Directed for many properties, including ThinkGeek, Treehouse, and Wizards of the Coast, has added a brand new service to the site: Online Art Director Access. Art Order is a great site in the family of educational beacons in this community (like Muddy Colors, smArt School, Drawn and Drafted, and others), and it specializes in one-on-one artist career development. Jon has always been a champion of the mentor/mentee system, and this new service takes that relationship online in customizable levels of access.

At the new Art Order Career Development page you can schedule Portfolio Reviews, Mentoring Sessions, and (my favorite) hit the Panic Button with a growing roster of professional Art Directors in varied fields.

Currently there are 5 Art Directors available for 30 and 60 minute portfolio reviews, longer term mentoring, and 15 minute Panic sessions where you can get an immediate AD response to a specific piece you may need help and guidance on.

I spoke to Jon Schindehette about his vision for the site, and Art Order on one hand is continuing to specialize in making that mentoring process and career development more accessible, and on the other, walking artists through entrepreneurship with printing, product development, and manufacturing. These are services that artists ask me about all the time, and I am happy to be able to send them to Jon and Art Order.

If you’ve ever wished you had an Art Director on call to give you honest feedback and help you make your pieces better, then check out Art Order’s new services.