I had a wonderful phone chat with Jeff Stikeman the other day. He took the time out of a very busy week for him to talk and for which I am very grateful. He is a very talented architectural illustrator and architect with close to 20 years of industry experience. We discussed some of the pros and cons to our practices. His work encompasses phases that range from more sketchy types of illustration work to more finalized, illustrative renderings. My work on the other hand tends to lean towards the more photorealistic end of the spectrum. In essence, some of those differences appeals to different types of projects and clients and often serves different purposes.
Jeff has had a significant base of architects and firms to have built his practice upon. A lot of his sources come from word of mouth. That, and the fact that he employs a very high standard of quality, efficiency, and creativity to his work speaks volumes in of itself. He appears to have no shortage of clients – and I hope and firmly believe that will continue well into the future. The aesthetic quality of his work is excellent. If you have a chance, please take a moment to view his websites at:
As for myself and Lunarstudio, I didn’t have anyone to turn to when I first started out. I literally started from scratch and had to fight to get Lunarstudio started and noticed. That’s not to say that this is any “better” – by no means do I think it is – and in some ways really wish I was in his position instead.
In order to land my first few clients, I spent a solid month on the phone – cold-calling local architects and developers and seeing if anyone needed any work done. Now please keep in mind, I don’t really have much of a sales background and telephone experience either and that proved to be an added challenge. Out of the 200 odd phone calls that I made that month (not including emails and follow-up), I only had one return from a developer and that happened to have been a fairly large client. That project alone gave me a huge jump-start in business. From then on, I was able to use that one single project as a base to launch all my other projects.
But still till this day, my work is not a constant flow of projects. I don’t always have the luxury of being able to essentially, “pick and choose.” I have times where I am very busy and times where the work is completely still. I’d much rather be in a position to have work constantly flowing through the door. It’s starting to look like Lunarstudio and I might eventually get to that point, but many years later it is still proving to be somewhat challenging. Marketing art-related services in general is a very tricky subject.
Jeff accurately described my approach to marketing Lunarstudio as “casting a wide net.” I tend to throw my work out on to the web (through my website) and not rely on word of mouth alone. I put a lot of emphasis on my website’s search engine rankings and Internet visibility. While I get a lot of inquiries and hits, a good percentage of them turn out to be less substantial than I’d like them to be. On the other hand, I do get a lot of different inquiries – everything from large scale, city-sized project inquiries to logo creation and dairy farms out in Wisconsin. The varying projects I get approached with can keep you on your toes, but sometimes I spend more time responding to people and job applications than doing the actual work itself. Lunarstudio has a lot of exposure, but the quality (financially-speaking) of returns on being marketing mostly through the Internet seems to be watered-down.
In a nutshell, we both had very different approaches to starting out.