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An Interview With Workbook Publisher Bill Daniels

Posted by Workbook on 10/19/2015 — Filed under:  EventsFeaturesHeadlineIllustrationInterviewsMarketing IntelligencePhotography

What is new with The Workbook?

This year, Visual Connections is pleased to partner with Workbook. We would took some time to chat with Bill Daniels, Workbook CEO, about Workbook and its staying power – 37 years plus!

VC: Workbook has been around for a long time. Tell us about your history.

Bill Daniels, Workbook CEO: First let me say from everybody at Workbook, we are really looking forward to collaborating with Visual Connections. I appreciate your taking the time to talk to me about Workbook. It’s a fun story that started thirty-seven years ago when our founder, Alexis Scott, misplaced her address book. In an instant she saw how valuable those names and addresses were, so she set out to build a directory of all the Los Angeles commercial art buyers, and Workbook was born.

Workbook1First Workbook – 1978

LA Workbook was an immediate hit. Photographers saw this as a way to connect with art buyers. Art buyers loved it too. Initial expansion included all of California. In 1990, Workbook went nationwide. By 2000, the annual Workbook was a set of tomes: three volumes and 2,500 pages.

Workbook, Circa 1998Workbook, Circa 1998

Today Workbook is more than a beautiful coffee table book. We embrace new media, and the company has become an all-purpose resource for the creative community. Our website is the go-to destination for creatives looking for the best commercial artists. Our blog and social media help tell the artists’ stories in powerful ways. The printed Workbook continues to be important, easier to handle and published twice per year. All told, we will publish more pages in 2015 than any year in our history!

VC: How do you find out what buyers need?

BD: Workbook has an ongoing dialog creatives in our industry. For thirty-seven years, we have talked to the community about what they want and need. We also conduct regular surveys of the industry to detect and stay in front of the trends. We take a lot of pride in being an integral part of the creative process. That’s our secret sauce—this strong connection and deep understanding of the business.

VC: How do you work with photographers, reps, etc., to help present their work?

BD: A talented group of sales representatives and support staff work with our clients, the photographers, the illustrators, and their reps. Workbook people have a lot of experience. Most of our sales reps have been in the biz most of their careers.

This experience of our staff really pays off—they are the best at what they do. They are committed, smart, caring, and they really know what the buyers are looking for now. Since the beginning, we have been involved in the image selection for ads and portfolios online and believe these must reflect a photographer’s or an illustrator’s body of work in order to be effective.

VC: As a bridge between client and vendor, Workbook has always had a presence in the worlds of both. What are your observations about the current market?

BD: I feel like we have a pretty good view of the industry. There’s good news and bad. On the downside, commercial artists and photographers in particular face a lot of challenges today that didn’t exist before.

Our business ebbs and flows with the advertising industry. So, as the economy has improved over the last six years, and advertising has picked up, so have assignments for most commercial artists. Photography seems to be doing well. About equal numbers of photographer polled say things are better or have gotten worse (about 40% each); the rest say business is about the same. Illustration tends to move independently of photography, and things are less rosy. The majority of illustrators polled (56%) say things have gotten worse over the last five years, but they are looking forward to better times and expressed more optimism than last year.

VC: Talk a bit about the directory – always a strong point with the Workbook.

BD: We remain true to our roots. Our directory is at the heart of what we do. We still have a staff devoted to calling the art buyers and making sure that we know where to send their Workbooks and find out if there is anything else we can do to help them with their jobs. We take the time to listen to the buyers so we know what brands they are working on. We see a lot more buying being handled in-house versus the traditional ad agencies, and we reach out to that group as well. We respect and guard the trust buyers have in sharing their information with us. We also maintain a directory of artists, a valuable tool for the art buyers.

VC: Going forward, how will Workbook remain a go-to place for creatives and vendors to meet?

BD: Our role with Visual Connections is part of the answer! It’s a wonderful chance for our clients to network. In addition, we sponsor numerous events throughout the year that offer other networking opportunities, including FaceTime, our portfolio reviews, and sponsorship of local APA chapters nationwide.

We often receive calls from buyers requesting help with sourcing talent. We formalized the approach recently with a tool called Workbook Shortlist. We also send out monthly newsletters and our InFocus series, and these help creatives keep up with the assignments our clients are working on. All of this is necessary to help our clients get in front of buyers and keep the buyers informed.

We continually look for new ways to help put buyers and artists together. Keeping our website up-to-date is an ongoing task. We recently launched our mobile version, and earlier this year we launched an enhanced portfolio viewer that makes it easier than ever to peruse and enjoy all of the amazing images on our site.

Social media is another great way to get the word out about our clients. We now have thousands of Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook followers. We know the world is changing and we keep working hard to stay relevant!

Workbook Fall 2015

Workbook Publisher, Bill Daniels Bill Daniels

Team Vegar's New Breed of Business

Posted by Workbook on 09/28/2015 — Filed under:  Advertising CampaignsFeaturesFilm/Video ProductionHeadlineMarketing IntelligencePhotographybehind the scenes
Go RVing California Road Trip Photo: Chris Nowling

It's a given  that we work in an industry that is constantly evolving and subject to the latest trends in technology. In response, Team Vegar is now able to deliver, from a single production, beautiful visual content that allows clients to build a consistent and authentic brand experience for every platform, be it social media, print, or television. Witnessing the disparate ways in which his clients engaged his services and that of other photographers, be it for a still shoot, a film shoot, or both simultaneously, an image library, print campaign, client website, or TV production, he knew there had to be a way to create memorable content for all kinds of platforms more efficiently. Predetermining what to share and how to share it is key to solving the issue. Creating a more streamlined, combo production in order to meet the growing need for massive amounts of content at a acceptable cost, obviously appeals to clients as well.

As the name implies, the "Team" Vegar Abelsnes has assembled is also critical on a project like this. It is a close-knit group with years of experience, varying skill sets and talents, all working collaboratively. Vegar says, "Life is short; work with people you like," and he does.

His latest project for The Richard's Group for Go RVing is a great example of how everything comes together on a multifaceted project like this. The plan was to assemble a team that could capture an authentic four-day, 900-mile trip through Southern California in as many mediums as possible, as well as share it in real time. The results are impressive: 5,700 still images, twelve 2-3 minute videos, material for two 30 broadcast pieces,  130 images posted to 90K followers,  yielding 46K likes,  all while appearing to have a lot of fun doing it.

When asked what's next, Vegar said he would "love to try collaborating with a great creative team (art direction, concept development, writers, DP’s, musicians, postproduction, stylists, etc.) to put together his own ideas and pitches for potential clients" and believes that if he can bring more of the process in-house, the stronger the ideas will become. He also envisions having more time in the preproduction period to really fine tune ideas and visual strategies directly with the client and or agencies.

Look for a follow-up post soon where we share the agency's take on the project. Needless to say, they were very pleased.   -Suzanne Semnacher

Go RVing California Road TripGo RVing California Road TripGo RVing California Road Trip V. Abelsnes

Countdown to Creative Carnival!

Posted by Workbook on 09/24/2013 — Filed under:  Creative CarnivalEventsFeaturesHeadlinePhotographyUncategorized

It's that time again!  Pull out the suitcase, copics and paper and be there in Chicago, October 10, for the one.... the only... Creative Carnival!

We here at Workbook will be posting fun updates and interviews all leading up to the event of the year.  Keep checking back and hope to see you October 10!

Who:  Creative Buyers, Workbook Print Advertisers and the Workbook Team

What: Creative Carnival 2013

When: October 10 from 6:00pm-midnight

Where: Open Secret Studios

401 N. Racine

Chicago, IL 60642

If you would like to attend and are a Creative Buyer or Workbook Print Advertiser, please email

For all other inquiries please contact your regional Workbook Sales Representative.

Creative Carnival poster generously created by award-winning illustrator Bill Mayer, represented by Tricia Weber at The Weber Group.

Workbook Instagrammers

Posted by Workbook on 10/18/2012 — Filed under:  FeaturesHeadlineInstagramMarketing IntelligencePhotography
By Claire Semnacher

Here are our Workbook contributors' Instagrams! A link to each artist's Workbook portfolio is posted below his or her Instagram.

Walter Smith's Workbook Portfolio

Emmet Malmstrom's Workbook Portfolio

Emmet Malmstrom's Workbook Portfolio

Clayton Hauck's Workbook Portfolio

Emmet Malmstrom's Workbook Portfolio

Kim Lowe's Workbook Portfolio

Bob Packert's Workbook Portfolio

Emmet Malmstrom's Workbook Portfolio

Emmet Malmstrom's Workbook Portfolio

Walter Smith's Workbook Portfolio

Kevin Twomey's Workbook Portfolio

Kim Lowe's Workbook Portfolio

Jeff Johnson's Workbook Portfolio

Emmet Malmstrom's Workbook Portfolio

Kevin Twomey's Workbook Portfolio

DATTU's Workbook Portfolio

Emmet Malmstrom's Workbook Portfolio

Clayton Hauck's Workbook Portfolio

Getting your work in front of agency creatives

Posted by Workbook on 10/11/2012 — Filed under:  FeaturesHeadlineIllustrationMarketing Intelligencebehind the scenes
By Melissa Hennessy

I went to a great panel discussion this week where three art buyers, a consultant, and an agent/rep shared their views and opinions on the best way to reach agency creatives with your work. The audience had many questions on what's effective today - is it in person meetings, emails, direct mail, sourcebooks, gifts, etc? And like any panel discussion, the answers varied based upon the person, the accounts he or she works on, and how often they are inundated with visual material. The key things that were agreed upon are outlined below. I'm sharing them as a former agent and now educator & consultant to aspiring photographers. The more knowledge we have, the greater chance we have of success & upholding the ethics & standards of our industry.

This list is meant to be a concise summary. Feel free to email me if you need me to expand on any of them.

And a caveat: Following these isn't going to guarantee you work, but may increase your chances of exposure and make every art buyer's job just a little bit easier :-)

1)  Websites:

  • Keep them simple w/no music. Creative environments are small, and uninvited noise is very distracting in the workplace. Yes creatives love music, but there's a time & place for it.

  • Label your galleries so images are easy to find. No one wants to figure if "portraits" are behind Gallery 1, 2 or 3.

  • Make sure your work related to images you are sending. If you send someone a portrait - they expect to see portraits on your site, not abstract flowers.

  • You have 10 seconds to make your impression. Period. Personal work is also important to show.

  • Allow creation of PDF's, letting creatives choose and download the images they want to share w/their clients.

  • When you show your bio or client list, also have a Word document that can be downloaded & added to the document/deck that they show their clients for their photographer recommendations. Often the bios & lists are embedded and can't be copied or pasted.

2) Keep Your Marketing Consistent & Easy to Remember:

  • Don't try to be extra "clever" by using a different name, a different email, or anything that becomes confusing. You are your brand and all of your communication should reflect the brand - your emails, your website, your business cards, your blog, your direct mail, etc.

  • Frequency - most panelists agreed that once a month for email blasts and 6 times a year for direct mail was sufficient.

3) Emails:

  • They don't all get opened and we know that. But you can increase your chances by stating in the subject line EXACTLY what you are sending & the photographer's name: i.e. New Portraits from John Smith. If a buyer has to search for a specific type of photography - Portraits- they can easily find those emails.

  • If your subject line is vague it will be lost, if it uses words that are "questionable" it will be put into JUNK by spam filters, etc. Be specific & concise.

  • If you saw that someone opened your email, DO NOT call and say "hey I saw you opened my email, can I see you or send you my book?, etc." That is creepy & if you've made a true impression, they will contact you.

  • Respect their right to opt out.

  • Don't sound desperate in your correspondence; it is a turn off.

  • Have all of your contact info in your signature - your email, phone, & web address.

4) Direct Mail:

  • Like emails, direct mail is either tossed, thrown onto a stack to be viewed "later" or viewed briefly by those who have time. File space and wall space are at a premium and few agency offices have room to store direct mail. That doesn't mean emails and direct mail are a waste of time and money, it just means you have to put thought into what you are sending out.

  • There was no discussion about clear envelopes vs. other envelopes, or sizes or promos.

5) Contests & Sourcebook advertising:

  • Agencies like award winners, so if you're feeling that your direct mail and email efforts aren't getting through, consider advertising in a sourcebook like Workbook or a magazine like Archive.

  • Enter contests!!! If you're selected, you'll be seen by creatives. It's free advertising for a nominal entry fee.

6) In Person Meetings:

  • One question that was asked was, "If you don't open emails, or answer your phone, how exactly are photographers supposed to get in-person meetings with you?" The answer: It may takes months, but don't stop trying. If you do not get a call back or email reply, it's not personal. Keep trying. Some art buyers are out of the office for consecutive weeks and have a hard time finding 10 minutes anywhere in their schedule, but they truly do like to meet the artists they might work with.

  • Some photographers they had met with had work that was perfect for a current project, and serendipitously, were considered for the job and awarded it later.

  • Whether you have an agent or not, get out and establish relationships.

7) Do your Research:

  • Know who you are contacting and what they work on. There are resources like,, Agency Spy, PDN's Who's Shooting What, Ads of the World, Agency Compile, and Adweek to name a few that exhibit agency work along with the creative teams names. If you're able to say, "I've seen the work you've done for ______",  the person you're speaking with knows you've done your homework.

8) Update your work:

  • Creatives want to see different work each time you meet with them. It doesn't mean you have to have an entirely new portfolio, but at least 25% new.

  • Negotiate "self-promotion" rights with your clients so you can show campaigns you've worked on. It's important to show that your work is always evolving. If you don't have anything new to show that is client related - take on a project of your own, show personal work, etc. There are no excuses if you want to be taken seriously as a commercial photographer.

Special thanks to the APA Midwest panelists for their time & willingness to share!
Please remember that this is a summary of 5 people's opinions and it is up to you to design a business & marketing plan that you are comfortable with and dedicated to. Passion and perseverance are essential in our business, but your work is the key component. Make images that have a point of view, that differentiate you from the masses, that are consistent, etc. If your work is exceptional and you're marketing plan is sound (being in as many places as you can be), you will succeed.
As one panelist said, "Try not to let fear drive your decisions."

Check out Melissa's blog by clicking HERE.

Melissa's email:

Jason Moriber: Notes from the Undertone

Posted by Jason Moriber on 07/06/2010 — Filed under:  Marketing Intelligence
Jason Moriber works for Wise Elephant where he creates strategies and plans that help businesses and organizations grow. Engage with him on Twitter or call him at 317.802.1570.

Notes from the undertone: CEPIC New Media Conference

Bubbling up on my social media radar were tweets, quotes and posts from CEPIC's New Media Conference <> in Dublin Ireland. The gist of the conference, which was presented and organized by Lee Torrens (who, among a few things, keeps a blog about his experience selling microstock, microstockdiaries <>), was MicroStock, Metadata, New Media as Marketing Tools, and Stock Video.

I follow two artists on Twitter, Shannon Fagan <>, Taylor Davidson, <> (Taylor is also a peer in the consulting arena). Both were speaking on a panel devoted to Stock Media (photo and video) and how to prepare your business for what's next. I wasn’t aware of the conference until I read their initial tweets about the event.

Many conferences choose a unique identifier for social media channels. Attendees who are posting about the event intentionally plant a shared keyword (in this case #CEPIC <>) within their posts in order for someone (as I did) to follow the goings-on of the event using social media tools (such a twitter and/or tweetdeck). It’s not like being there, but it’s a good second cousin to being there.

Overall the data being noted was insightful, but not shocking or liberating. There is concern from both artists and vendors on the state of the image-making industry. The solutions remain vague, but within some of the comments and quotes are gold-nuggets that could lead to the answers that many artists are trying to define for themselves. Here are some key posts that struck a chord with me:

Here are a few gold-nuggets I gathered from the event through the social media channels:

- At iStockphoto < >, 50% of the images are from 7% of photographers. 50% of iStock’s sales belong to 2% of the photographers.

- Yuri Arcurs <>, micro-stock photographer, said 5% of his collection gets 50% of the sales. His commission is 53%.

- Andres Rodriguez <>, microstock photographer, noted that even tough… "Originality is key. Repetition is becoming the rule. Everybody copies."

- offered some more stats (of 400 survey respondents):

- Average Income from microstock: $10,654

- Median Income: $2,560

- Average Age: 41

- Median Age: 41

You can find more data here:

And one very relevant note on Social Media in general came from the motivational speaker Beate Chelette:  "You must communicate with your clients, not with another photographer."

You can check out the entire conversation-flow at the Twitter search page:

Let me know your questions and comments. Thanks!

Heather Elder Represents: Do you really know who that person is on your list?

Posted by Heather Elder on 06/11/2010 — Filed under:  Marketing Intelligence
Heather Elder Represents reps nine commercial photographers; Andy Anderson, Leigh Beisch, Ann Elliott Cutting, Hunter Freeman, Devon Jarvis, David Martinez, Richard Schultz, Jim Smithson, and Kevin Twomey. Heather also hosts a stock website and consults with a variety of photographers nationwide, with offices in New York and San Francisco.

A photographer recently asked what the best way to market herself would be, seeing that she is just starting out. The whole idea of marketing was a bit overwhelming. She was a lifestyle photographer and she knew the type of clients she wanted to hire her. She just didn't know where to begin connecting with them.

(Read more)

The Workbook iPhone App

Posted by Workbook on 06/03/2010 — Filed under:  FeaturesHeadlineMarketing Intelligence

Workbook is keeping the best tools and talent at your fingertips. Search for and correspond with photographers, illustrators, letterers and designers anywhere you go. The Workbook iPhone App was created to provide on-the-go access to Workbook Portfolio advertisers. The online content displayed is synchronized regularly with the website.


* Search artists by name or specialty
* Browse featured artists
* Save images to your photo folder in your phone
* Email any image with auto-link to the artist's Workbook Portfolio
* View and add contacts directly to your phone
* Link within your phone to artists and their reps' websites

We are committed to meeting the demands of an ever-evolving industry, to ensure up-to-date information and the highest quality talent.

Interview: Thomas James, Escape from Illustration Island

Posted by Thomas James on 06/02/2010 — Filed under:  FeaturesHeadlineIllustrationInterviews

In developing our blog for Workbook, Thomas James and his blog, Escape from Illustration Island came up over and over again as a great example of collaborative, relevant and thoughtful publishing. With the launch of his new illustrative style, a new eBook for illustrators due out in June, and co-oping efforts at the Icon illustration conference, we thought it would be the perfect time to interview Thomas. We ask him to share a bit about starting EFII and the impact both have had on his career in illustration.

WRKBK: First-off, we love the name - what was the inspiration?
Thomas James: Escape from Illustration Island reflects the state of illustrators working in isolation, and the need for artists to escape their solitude and connect with their fellow creators to share resources and inspiration.
WRKBK: Where did you get your start?
TJ: Over the years, I've pursued a lot of interests, such as music, travel, art, and the ways that people can create and change their lives through the actions they take. I grew up drawing, like most artists, but a turning point came when I decided to declare myself to be an illustrator. When people call themselves an "aspiring illustrator" or "student" it can really be a limiting mindset. I think that in order to accomplish a goal, you need to do it, own it, be it. So, I put myself out there as a creative professional and landed my first job through craigslist doing album cover art for local bands.
WRKBK: Did you try to find a rep?
TJ: No, because my style was kind of all over the place for a while. Now I've had a chance to recreate my new style, I plan to begin marketing my new work very soon.

WRKBK: When did you begin blogging, and has it helped to define your career as an illustrator?
TJ: I set up Escape From Illustration Island just over a year ago, because I wanted to share the many resources that I've found with my fellow artists. I then started writing resource reviews and highlighting useful tutorials to be found online. Since I'm a podcast junkie, I couldn't resist adding an audio show to the site. The opportunity to turn EFII into an alternate income stream, thanks to the support of sponsors, allowed me the freedom to take a break with my illustration and think about what I really wanted to do with my work. On top of that, EFII has helped me to make a lot of rewarding relationships with other artists in the field.
WRKBK: Wow, you only started in 2009? What did your blog ramp-up look like?
TJ: Yeah, in April of 2009 I had 236 page views per month, it began doubling each month after that, and now the site has exceeded 75,000 views per month, and there are over 9,000 downloads per month of the podcasts. As soon as I realized that I was on to something, and that taking things to the next level would require a lot of time and energy, I began to seek out industry-relevant sponsors who believed in what I was doing.
WRKBK: You seem to really enjoy connecting with artists - is this what feeds your EFII soul?
TJ: One of the main things that keeps me motivated is the feedback I get from artists who tell me that EFII has helped them in one way or another. It's great to know that there are people out there like me who are inspired by what I'm doing and want to be a part of the EFII community.

WRKBK: What has been your biggest surprise along the way?
TJ: When I started, I never would have imagined that Escape From Illustration Island would grow so fast, and that I'd have the chance to interview so many amazing people, such as Drew Struzan, Steven Heller, and Gary Taxali, to name a few.
WRKBK: It sounds like producing the podcasts are a lot of fun for you. Do you create and edit each piece?
TJ: I'm involved in every aspect of the podcast, from the music, to the recording, and editing. It's a long process to create each episode, but it's also rewarding to make something that draws on more than one of my interests.
WRKBK: We're excited to hear you've been working on an eBook, can you tell us about it?
TJ: It's called 15 Steps to Freelance Illustration, and it aims to give a new illustrator clear and simple tasks to complete and build, or rebuild, their freelance illustration career. There are a good number of books out there about how to start your creative business, but I'm trying to take a different approach by zeroing in on specific actions, the kinds of things that I think most illustrators want to be told. To help make the most of this approach, I'll be including a workbook with the eBook so that each artist can map out their unique goals and how to achieve them. The eBook, and its audio book counterpart just published, and I'll be giving away a bunch of copies as part of the launch celebration.

WRKBK: As you always ask at the end of your interviews, what do you think inspires art directors to hire you for their projects?
TJ: I haven't yet begun to promote my new work, but I hope that art directors will see my renewed focus on concept in my work, as well as my efforts to use elements like color to communicate something deeper than the image on the surface.
WRKBK: Thank you, Thomas.

Heather Elder Represents: Looking for a Rep?

Posted by Heather Elder on 06/02/2010 — Filed under:  Marketing Intelligence
Heather Elder Represents reps nine commercial photographers; Andy Anderson, Leigh Beisch, Ann Elliott Cutting, Hunter Freeman, Devon Jarvis, David Martinez, Richard Schultz, Jim Smithson, and Kevin Twomey. Heather also hosts a stock website and consults with a variety of photographers nationwide, with offices in New York and San Francisco.

I got a call today from a photographer. He was looking for a rep. He said that right off the bat. “Hi. I am Joe and I am looking for a rep. Are you adding talent to your roster?” I immediately said no, because I wasn’t. It was an easy conversation.

(Read more)