10 year plan

Episode 06: Listener Q & A

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Welcome to our mailbag episode! Lee, Will, and Jake answer questions that people in the forums have been asking; there are lots of great questions, some fun questions, tons of insightful answers, and even some differing opinions.

Check out the SVS forums. You do not have to be a subscriber to participate in the forums. It’s a safe space with a super helpful community, where you can post questions or your work (anywhere from sketches to finished painting) and get feedback from the SVS community.

Q: Where do we (Will Jake and Lee) see themselves in ten years? 4:00

Having a 10 year plan is advantageous. It allows you to have direction. You can even have a 1, 2, 5, and 10 year plan (Jake likes to do this). It’s best to make your plans project focused. Make sure that in those plans you are planning big projects. Maybe it is a project every year, or every two years.

Some people get so involved with just one big project and they noodle at it and go back and forth and keep going back and fixing things as they improve and they can end up spending 10 years on a single project with no finished product to show for it. Try to apply the concept “Finished Not Perfect”.

Making an actual plan helps you get the things done as you work to advance your career.

Jakes 10 Year Plan: 10 children’s books finished and 5 more graphic novels drawn. He also wants to see where he can take some of those projects and see if they can advance to another form whether it’s a movie, video game, or TV show.

Will’s 10 Year Plan: Has matured to the point where he really values the projects he is working on, more than just pumping them out.

Has gotten Bonnepart Falls Apart out and he wants to get the next book out and see if they can keep this series going.

WIll loves teaching and organizing concrete information to help students, where sometimes in college you get bits and pieces of the content. Over the next 10 years he’s going to be trying to create provide a solid curriculum and sees himself doing this within the next couple years. He also wants to start writing and illustrating and getting his own books out.

Lee’s 10 Year Plan: Wants to start focusing on the quality and the meaning behind the work and slow down. He enjoys writing books and creating content for the illustrations. He wants to be writing in 10 years and writing his own books, maybe 1 book per year. Also, loves the freedom that comes with online teaching and wants to try to teach 2 classes a year and recruit other teachers. SVS allows Lee to create the classes he thinks will be valuable.

While Jake, Will, and Lee, matured in their career they came to realize what work became fulfilling to them. Focus on meaning and quality. Consider the questions: what does your ideal day look like and what brings value to you?  

Q: How to do get ready for a Comic Cons or Art Fair? 14:03

Big question! We are thinking of creating a class to go over this, because all three have done these events and gone through mistakes and have a lot to share.

There are a lot of principles to learn. Here is one:

Start small- go to a convention. Start observing and go into research and development mode.

You want to reverse engineer the convention. Ask yourself:

Which tables are you afraid to walk up to, and why? Which tables do have no problem approaching, and why? What made you attracted to a booth? what made you stop in your tracks? Why did you buy from this person? These are the things to consider.

You can approach people and ask questions. I.e. Where did you get this banner printed? Find out where you can start. Be respectful of artist’s time.

Understand the difference between Comic Cons and Art fairs.

Art Fairs have a different crowd. It is much more fine art based. Where people are looking to buy more original art to decorate their house. Whereas Comic Cons are indoor and you sell a lot more work at a cheaper price.

You should ask yourself why you want to do this: is it to receive validation? To make money? To build a more personal fan base? You can measure success with you own personal answers to these questions.

Q:  What are your methods and approaches for time efficiency and consistency for a long project? 22:15

This has been addressed in a 3rd Thursday.

Find short-cuts. I.e. If Will needs to do a lot of grass for a project he will do a whole page of grass and then copy and paste it, and use it throughout the project rather than hand paint each strand on each page. Also, for character consistency he will do head studies for characters you’ll see a lot and then throw them in the right place. I.e.  high angle, low angle, straight on, etc.

How do you get motivated when you lose steam halfway through and don’t feel motivated?

Lee: starts with his favorite spread and then prints it out nice and hangs it up, it acts like a beacon for the rest of the project. He then will do the page he dreads the most because he still has energy. He also mixes his projects in a day and tries to have some other fun projects or paintings.

Every painting in the book doesn’t have to have equal value, some pages are just necessary and get you through the book. All spreads don’t bring the same enjoyment.

Jake: Create visual checklist/boxes. I.e. layouts, rough sketches, line work, ink, color, for each page. Finds satisfaction in the bubbles being filled.

Time yourself, see how long you spend on a page, etc. And then you can budget your time and plan some other projects for the middle so you don’t get bored.

Jake like Lee also likes to pick a fun spread to start off with that he is looking forward to, and this also helps the publisher get a feel for the art and makes sure it’s inline with their vision.

Ask for more time if you need it but when setting the deadline anticipate more than you really need. Often the client is willing to give you some extra time.

Q: What are the differences to being an illustrator or content creator? 32:18

Writing is hard, it takes time. There is a lot of hard work that goes into the writing process. You’re creating a world, and the characters, and there is a lot of nuance to it.

If you are a content creator, you are ensuring your own longevity. You aren’t dependent on others always giving you work, and you aren’t sitting around. If you don’t have work you are still moving creating content. This often leads to more paid work.

There is a difference between creating the entire visual world vs. just visualizing the world.

Contents creators are able to move forward.

The writer illustrator understands what needs to be in the text and what can be only illustrations. Success comes easier with these artist/writers that understand the process of perspective, creation, and building of the story. Be apart of the creation and make your own thing.

Comes down to failure. Failure is a part of the process get use to it!

Q: What is your process in doing master copies? 41:35  

Start by studying the image. Start from the ground up. Learn the gesture, structure, shadow, light, and  color. Studying process books that break down the steps. I.e. Art of … books. Understand the pattern of what is going on in the master copy.

Lee: Understand why you want to do a master copy of this art?

Ideal portfolio assignment:Choose 10-20 pieces of work that you wish you did. Look for the consistency and theme. What medium pops up the most. Find approach. Find similarities and difference. Find  Go in more informed before actually starting the master copy.

Master coping is a great artistic exercise. Understanding the artist and their thought process. Consider: why did they make certain discussion in their art? How did the solve certain problems? How did they figure things out?

Don’t just draw a lot but draw with a purpose and be deliberate. Master the basics/ foundations of art.

Q: If you can illustrate a small story based off a favorite song what would it be? 50:10

Music is inspiring and provide really great creative inspiration. Challenged to illustrate how a song feels. This could be a artistic challenge.

Lee: Tom York without Radiohead. New Order is a classic.

David Hone and Lee have an assignment- pick a song a illustrate the song, then the class gets to listen to the song and guess which art fits.

Will and Jake are hipster a listen to London Grammar, Florence and the machines, Foster the People.

Jake: Help by the Beatles would be a great children's book.

Will: Permission to love penguins.

Beatles YAY or NAY?!?!

Q:  What is the biggest mistake that amature artists and students make? 57:38

With the art:

Artists need to do the groundwork, previsualization work, character studies, scene studies, color studies, and little tests.

Create drafts and sketches, work out all the problems, think about what the image is trying to say, is the image working are a narrative?

Amature artists and students don’t do this will or enough.

With the career:

Fail to do...

Artists need to do the groundwork of understand the field that they want to get into or think they want to get into.

Know where you want to be and what it takes to be there. Understand the job whether that is illustration, animation, freelance, and etc. Consider what illustrators do you like, what is the job like day to day, what are some nuances of the job, and what is the job market like.

Amateur artists and students don’t do this will or enough.

Q: How can I do better in contest? 1:04:20

Enter contest and be comfortable putting your work out there. As a content creator you need to get use to this. With contest- yes, enter them but read the fine print.

If you enter and lose learn from the experience. Deconstruct your work and the top art pieces.  Be humble enough to look at the winners and think about what they did better and implement those principles into your own work.

Q: Do you recommend going to college for illustration? 1:05:50

There are so many factor and this is a complex questions.

Jake: if money not a problem do it but if you don’t take what you do have and make a self learning program. Be smart, self  motivated and get you can receive the same or better education for much cheaper.

Lee: With technology now you can custom build your education from the whole world. There are a lot of choice now

The school does not guarantee to work.

Build your portfolio



 Jake Parker: mrjakeparker.com. Instagram: @jakeparker, Youtube: JakeParker44

 Will Terry: willterry.com. Instagram: @willterryart, Youtube: WillTerryArt

 Lee White: leewhiteillustration.com. Instagram: @leewhiteillo

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If you want to join in on this discussion log onto forum.svslearn.com, there is a forum for this episode you can comment on.