freelance artist

Comic Cons & Art Fairs

Download the episode via Simplecast. Need help?

Art by Tanner Garlick

Art by Tanner Garlick

Comic Cons & Art Fairs

 Comic conventions and art fairs take place all over the globe, with almost every major city in the United States hosting one. With the large audiences  that attend these shows it is a good place for illustrators to show their work and start selling.

 In this episode we will cover what the world of comic conventions and art fairs is like, ways to get into shows, and the differences between them. This is one of the easiest ways (depending on some conditions) to make money as an artist.

 Lee White has experience showing at art fairs, whereas Jake Parker and Will Terry have experience with the comic convention circuit.

 Money range [5:32]

The amount of money an artist can make at a show depends on a lot of variables such as location of the show and the types of products being sold.

 At Lee White’s best art fair show he made $24,000 USD over a three day art fair.

 On the comic convention side, at Jake Parker’s first convention he made enough to cover the cost of the show and for travel. At Jake’s best comic convention he broke $9,000 USD gross. His average is $5,000-$6,000 USD gross.

 At Will Terry’s best convention he made $19,000 USD gross. His average is between $7,000-$9,000 USD gross.

 How Lee, Will and Jake started showing [8:38]

 Lee got his start showing at art fairs with Crafty Wonderland. He was invited to show when a table opened up. Following that experience he started actively looking for art fairs to attend.

In his mid 20’s Jake was in the comic anthology, [Flight](https://amzn.to/2zNv0fY).  The editor of the book purchased a table at San Diego Comic Con, and invited the other artists to use the extra space. Jake went to sell prints and books. After getting a taste of what it was like to table at a show, he decided to do his own show. His first show outside of San Diego was [CTNX](https://www.ctnanimationexpo.com/). Following that success he knew it was possible to be successful at other shows. a

Will Terry’s first comic convention was a disaster even though he spent two years researching how to sell. Through that experience he learned how to be successful. He now has an assistant that takes Will’s art around the comic convention circuit. Will only personally attends 3-4 of the shows.

 Will has a series of YouTube videos where he goes into detail about his first experience tabling at a comic convention.

[Will Terry’s comic convention video series:](https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nti31w0lZw0&list=PL7IC3Am6kUZPRoK9CjW9rhTLua3DQVL9I)

 Lee White: “It’s worth it as an experience. You cannot anticipate how much energy these things take. They are really hard.” Having extra people to help you is really helpful because there are so many factors involved.

 Doing this full time as your only source of income can be really consuming. For Lee, Will and Jake they use art shows as supplemental income sources. Artists who do this full time can go to 30-40 shows a year.

 Differences between art fairs and comic conventions [21:05]

 Art fairs are typically during the summer. Usually outside in parks, but sometimes in convention centers. Artists purchase 10 foot by 10 foot booths. The average attendee at an art fair is older (50 years-old to 70 years old). There are not a lot of collectors, it is mostly people looking for artwork to put on their walls. They want to purchase originals.

 Prices for pieces at art fairs range from $50 USD to $20,000 USD (higher end of that scale are people buying originals).

 Lee White: “The more specific the story in my image the less likely it is to sell. The bigger the character in an image, the less likely it is to sell.“ Lee focuses more on environment elements and doesn’t get too specific with storytelling. In order to be successful at art fairs you have to strike a nice balance between illustration and fine art, and create images people want to hang in their homes.

Lee’s Secret Sauce for Art Fairs: “[Illustrate] a moment that people can interpret what’s happening versus showing them what’s happening.” Create images that two separate people can view and come up with different stories. Just give the audience a hint of the story.

James Jean is a good example of this principle. His work transcends illustration and taps into the art fair market.

 [Website](http://www.jamesjean.com/)

 [James Jean Instagram](https://www.instagram.com/jamesjeanart/)

 Comic conventions [30:40]

 Comic conventions are focused on popular culture. There is an artist ally section where artists can buy tables to show and sell their work. Attendees typically have $100 and spend that across maybe 5 different artists. What sells the best at comic conventions are things people already know such as characters from popular films, tv shows or cartoons.

 Comic conventions products typically sells from $4 to $70.

 There is also a commission market, where attendees will pay artists to draw their character or some other character doing something specific. Some artists open their commission list before the show, whereas others only do commissions during the show. Jake does commissions at show and works on them during down times or at the hotel. He can make an extra $2,000 to $3,000 USD depending on what he is charging. Commission from artists at comic conventions can range from $20 USD all the way to $600 USD.

 Jake uses fan art he sells at comic conventions to get people to come look at his table where he also has pieces from his original stories. He uses this as a way to expand the audience for his original content.

 How to start [47:23]

 When trying to get into art fairs or comic conventions it is really important to understand the market. Lee tried to sell at CTNX with Jake and Will and his art did not fit that market.

 Step 1: Go visit the shows not as a fan but as research. Take notes, take photos, be detailed and focused.

 Step 2: Make inventory. You can’t do a show if you don’t have things to sell. Start with prints, prints are cheaper and easier to sell. Make sure to use archival ink and paper so your work doesn’t fade. Jake Parker says “every sell is a person you touch.” When you sell a print you are building a relationships with that person. There is a lot of repeat customers, so if you use cheap stuff you lose that future business.

 Prints generally have low overhead cost with a high markup price. T-shirts per-unit cost are higher and they can be hard to sell and keep the proper sizes in inventory. Stickers are also harder (higher per-unit cost and lower markup price). People often just want the image so they will buy the smallest size just to get it. Don’t lose sales by selling products with higher per-unit cost.

 Jed Henry is a good example of this, at shows he only sells one size. [Ukiyo Heroes](https://www.ukiyoeheroes.com)

 Start small and work your way up. Both with what show you start with and with your inventory (not small products but a smaller product list/inventory). Check to see if there is a show within an hour of your home. This is a good way to start small because you have lower overhead costs.

 Lee white: “Stay local until you get your market figured out and then start branching out.”

 It is important to know there are different niche markets in each show. So know your work and who it appeals to.

 Comic conventions are generally easier to show at then art fairs. Art fairs are curated so. For example, Lee only gets into about half of the art  fairs he applies for.

 [List of every convention in the USA](http://www.conventionscene.com/)

 Specifics on how to get into art fairs [01:06:29]

 For art fairs start with craft fairs, they are easier to get into. These shows are usually in the winter and indoors.

 [Art Fair Sourcebook](https://artfairsourcebook.com/). Has art fairs sorted by region, how many people attend and how much they spend on average. This source is expensive, but it is good data to have when catering to an audience with a larger budget.

 [Zapplication](https://www.zapplication.org/) is another good resource.

 Horror and success stories [01:07:55]

 Will Terry: For his first show he printed 1000 of each print, 23 different pints, so 23,000 prints total. He couldn’t even fit all his inventory in his car. Printing alone cost him $5,000 USD. He figured he would be showing at a lot of conventions so he was offsetting the cost. At his first show he only made $1,500 USD. After that he was pretty nervous. But luckily he was able to make it up over time, but it was scary after that first show.

 Lee White: At his first show he sold an original, but didn’t bring any bags. So had to give the customer his original art in a trash bag.  At a different show, Lee was busy setting up his booth, running to and from his car. When he was almost finished he realized the fanny pack he kept all his money in ($3,000 from his last art fair) had been open the whole time. Almost all his money flew into the wind before the art fair even started.

 Jake Parker: At a show in 2018, one of his tables was set up against and facing the wall. So he moved the table. Luckily no one told him to move it back even though it was obviously extending further out than anyone else’s. Also at that convention he had made a display structure out of foam core to hang prints. It kept falling over and he had to keep taping it. Overall it was just bad presentation.

Convention etiquette

 You have to learn convention etiquette. Watch out for ‘booth barnacles,’ they are attendees who stay for way too long and get in the way of making other sells. Jake has a polite way to remove booth barnacles. He waits for an opening in the conversation and sticks out his hand and says “It was so nice to meet you thanks for coming.” After that they usually leave.

 Also don’t just bring your portfolio to show and expect artists to review it. Always ask if there is a time to show them, don’t just assume. A good way to get a very quick and honest critique is to ask “what is the one main thing I should change in my portfolio?”

 For more information on critques listen to [Episode 10: Critiques] (https://www.svslearn.com/3pointperspectiveblog/2018/8/8/episode-10-critiques)

 Gear

 Information forthcoming.

 LINKS

Svslearn.com

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

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

Lee White: leewhiteillustration.com. Instagram: @leewhiteillo

If you like this episode, please share it, subscribe, and we’d love it if you left a review! These podcasts live and die on reviews.

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.

Episode 04: Our Most Embarrassing Stories in Illustration

Download the episode via Simplecast. Get help.

In this episode we swallow some pride and take a look at some of our less stellar moments. These are the times we wish we had a rewind button for life and could do things over.

We have take away points from each story so you don’t have to make our mistakes. Hopefully, none of you are as dumb as us!

 

Artwork by  Tanner Garlick

Artwork by Tanner Garlick

Story 1: Will’s Phallic Tortoise [01:31]

Take away: When you’re learning how to draw it’s a lot like a golf swing. To do a golf swing right there’s 50 things you’ve got to know how to do and you can’t be thinking about them all at the same time. They have to flow naturally. And so you can concentrate on 5 of them at the same time.

As an illustrator there’s 50 things you’ve got to know how to do to make an illustration, and one of them is composition. Make sure you’re composition isn’t set up in a way that it compromises the entire piece.

Story 2: Lee’s Name Critique [7:45]

Take away: Do your homework on who you’re meeting with. Take some time to understand what they are about, what they do, and why they want to meet with you. Don’t advise them to change the name of their company!

Story 3: Jake’s Edgy Style vs All-Ages Style [11:43]

Take away: Take a long look at your work and see how it might influence others around you. If you’re not happy with what your work is doing for the world see how you can change it for the better.

Story 4: Will’s Feminine Hygiene Job [16:14]

Take away: Just...don’t be a Will. Be happy you don’t have to be tied to a phone any more to get work. Also, you don’t have to take every job that comes your way.

Story 5: Lee’s Alphabet Book Debacle [21:14]

Take away: If you’re hired to do a job specifically for your style, maybe don’t subcontract someone else to do it for you.

Before you commit to do a job, take a good look at how much work needs to be done and see if your schedule can handle the workload. You want to avoid opting out of the job after contracts have been signed and money’s been paid.

Ask questions up front about what exactly is needed for the job. Get all the facts and cross check them with other professionals to make sure you’re not getting into something that you won’t be able to finish on time.

Be willing to say no to a high paying job if you don’t think it benefit your career. There are more important things than a paycheck if the job you take doesn’t really further your career.

Story 6: Will’s Fax Machine [29:00]

Take away: Get all the information BEFORE the fax comes in :P

Make sure you get all the information on the job that you need in order to finish your job. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, and take good notes on your calls.

Story 7: Lee Unknowingly Rips on the Boss’s Daughter [36:15]

Take away: Remember names! Do your homework and know who you’re talking to.

Story 8: Jake’s Big Meeting [40:20]

Take away: Don’t waste an important meeting. If you’re in the position to meet with an important editor or client do whatever you need to to have a killer pitch, presentation, or idea to share with them. Be prepared!

Story 9: Will Zones Out [46:16]

Take away: Be present and paying attention when you’re talking to a client or editor

Story 10: Lee’s bike ride [49:00]

Take away: Plan your day. Make sure you have time to do everything you’ve set out to do. You don’t have to do everything. Look at ways that you’re making you job harder than it actually has to be.

LINKS

svslearn.com

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

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

Lee White: leewhiteillustration.com. Instagram: @leewhiteillo

If you like this episode, please share it, subscribe, and we’d love it if you left a review! These podcasts live and die on reviews.

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.


 

Episode 01: My Art is Great, Why Won't Anyone Hire Me?

Download the episode via Simplecast. Get help.

Artwork by  Tanner Garlick

Artwork by Tanner Garlick

Many artists work hard and try to get there their work out there, hoping to break into the illustration world and then...nothing happens. No clients offering work. No e-mails. No phone calls. And they wonder why no one wants to hire them.

We offer our perspective on why you might not be getting hired (yet), and then go into great detail on strategies and give practical advice on overcoming that hurdle and really standing out.

We discuss:

-what might be missing in your work, and how to not miss the mark

-how to give yourself a self-audit and honestly judge your work, using Will’s 9-Square approach

-discovering specific principles to improve from looking at your heroes work

-why you should be copying and absorbing masters’ work

-getting feedback from a professional and creating a feedback loop

-the need for interest and storytelling in your work

-how to handle critique and the proper attitude to have

-how to be a more interesting person

All that and much more!

Links:

svslearn.com

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

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

Lee White: leewhiteillustration.com. Instagram: @leewhiteillo

The SVS forums: forum.svslearn.com

Bart Forbes: http://bartforbes.com/

Chris Applehans: http://www.froghatstudios.com/portemp.html

Skottie Young: http://skottieyoung.com/

Podcast production and editing by Aaron Dowd.

Show notes by Tanner Garlick


My Work is Great, Why Won't Anyone Hire Me?

Will got a long letter from an artist who felt that they had done everything they were supposed to, they felt that their work was great, and they were frustrated that they still weren’t getting work.

Jake and Will looked over this artist’s work and felt that the work was pretty good but not great. It was missing the style that fit the market that the artist wanted to go into. The style didn’t match the genre. You can’t do characters that look like they belong in World of Warcraft for a children's book.

Often, it’s not that you can’t draw or paint, but that you are missing the mark of where you need to go. Your style isn’t hitting the mark with what you want to go into. Your style needs to match the intended audience.

Work on Your Craft

Sometimes we feel that when we can render something nice, we have arrived, and we feel really good about ourselves. While that’s a great start, and an important step, this is really “fool’s gold.” There is a lot more to good illustration than just drawing well, and making things look 3-dimensional.

You never “arrive.” There is always an area to further grow or to better master.

Never convince yourself that there is nowhere else to grow.

There is a difference between drawing well, and creating a very engaging product.

The first step in getting professional work is to work on your craft: develop good drawing skills, good perspective, shadows, and light and color.

After mastering your craft, the second step is discretion. To not over render things, to not add too many highlights. You need to learn what to leave out. You need to learn what to illustrate and add. The artistry is figuring out what to put down, and what to leave out.

Conduct a Self-Audit

You need a combination of a self audit, and a professional audit.

You need to conduct a Self-Audit, as outlined below:

*You need go through this honestly, it will take some time.

- Study the published things in the realm that you want to go in, and have the “right heroes”

- pick 8 top illustrators, who are getting their work published, by the big publishers, i.e. Harper Collins, Random House, Scholastic, etc.

- make a 9 Square grid. Put your best piece in the middle and surround it with a piece from those 8 illustrators that you admire

- Then identify what you like about it, Don’t just say, “I love this!”, you need to verbalize specific things that you love about their work, create a specific list, and write it down. These are the things that you need to work on incorporating into your work.

- Hang the list by your desk in order to remember these principles and to try to incorporate them, hang the list by your desk.

Bart Forbes, http://bartforbes.com/

When you have an image that you really like, really analyze it, and dissect it. Don’t just say, “I like this image,” And then move on. Really dissect it and look for specific things that are working well for you. What am I responding to?

Copy, Copy, Copy

Many people have the attitude of: “I don’t want to look at other people’s work because I want to be original, I don’t want to copy.” There is a false idea about originality; it says you shouldn’t look at others people’s work, or that you shouldn’t copy or take inspiration from them.

Jake still looks at others work for inspiration. All great artists do.

You really don’t need to make it as hard as you’re making it! You say it comes from within, but really it comes from without and you process it and make it your own thing. Find the right artists to look at and let them flow through you. There is no way you can perfectly copy all things all the time, at some point you’re gonna mix something with something else, and with a little bit of yourself and a little bit of this other person, and you’re going to find your own style that fits into this world that you want to get into.

When you are at the level that you want to be at, then find the right people for your work. I.e. Landscape painters will find the right gallery, not a children’s book publisher.

Do you know anyone who is going through med school? What is their total work hours per week? Basically, if you are in med school and are doing well, you pretty much have zero life, and have tons of focus, attention to detail, etc. And if you do well in school, you most likely have a good job waiting for you with a good salary.

Illustration is every bit as hard, to develop a unique style and a product to beat out other artists for jobs, and there is not a guaranteed job waiting for you. You should be treating it like you’re in med school.  

You won’t get paid to learn and do research. You need to find the motivation within. No one will tell you everything you need to do. You need to make a schedule yourself and be self motivated.

After you develop the skills it becomes more and more about making an interesting image, something that people grab onto. That extra element of storytelling creates interest, the idea behind it. Am I bringing something new to this subject matter, some new idea, some kind of unique viewpoint, or perspective?

Chris Applehans, http://www.froghatstudios.com/

Add Interest to Your Life

There is nothing interesting there? It may be because you aren’t an interesting person.

But you can become more interesting, you need to have a rich life outside of art. Art is just a way to express the interestingness that’s inherently inside of you.

If your work’s not interesting: go out and do something, talk to somebody, travel, go to the other side of town. You need to fill your creative bank account. You have gotta have creative capital. If you’re dry and empty, you are just going to have dry and empty work.

The lazy man doesn’t get too far, the perpetually busy man doesn’t get much farther.

Some people are just drawing, drawing, drawing, without much giving it much thought.

Stop, what kind of images am I making? Is there something better or more interesting that I should be creating. Don’t just draw and draw without any direction, you need to be more deliberate.

You can’t just exhale, you need to inhale.

Quick Summary:

  1. Audit yourself, audit your work, evaluate your work based on others.

  2. Work on craft, do master studies, copy

  3. Add interest to your life.

  4. Find an outside source who can give you some honest critique and create a feedback loop (get feedback, improve it, then get more feedback again.)

  5. You have to work towards getting your skin thick enough to beg for a really honest critique. A pat on the back is not a critique.

4 Step Process to Evaluate If You are Really Good?

  1. People naturally gravitate towards your work. When you put your work up, people naturally are drawn to it. Online, people naturally gather around it. Mom, or significant other don’t count.

  2. People start seeing your work and recommending you for something or to others.

  3. You’re going to start to win things: contests, scholarships, free classes, etc.

  4. People will start paying you.

Why Should I Copy?

Top art schools have there students create master copies. It’s a proven exercise.

Steps:

  1. Create a master copy, the more exact the better.

  2. Then do a new original piece as if you were that artist. When you get stuck, look back at their work and try to figure out how they might solve the problem. What would ______ do?

Keep a copy sketchbook, this is a sketchbook that you can just throw away when your done. That’s it, don’t need to show it to anyone.

The most valuable thing from doing these master copies is what happens in your brain and your muscle memory. The most valuable thing is inside you.

When kids start to learn to play piano, the teachers don’t say, “Alright, just make a piece of music, just write whatever you want!” The kids start by playing other peoples music and learning to sight read other people music first. In other words, they copy.

The same goes with martial arts, and with sports. They teach you moves. They teach you what the greats before you did.

Story Time

Jake was working on an illustration of Santa’s sleigh being pulled by a bunch of different animals. He got an honest critique from Skottie Young, and Skottie told him that it looked like the stock-image version of what Jake was trying to do.

Jake went to Pinterest and started looking up cartoon animals, made a Pinterest board with cartoon animals and saw, “oh this is how you would do a killer whale… oh this is how you would do a llama… I wouldn’t have thought to do that..” Then took a little bit of this guy, and then took a little bit of what they did in this drawing, etc, and mashed it together and made it his own. But really it was from absorbing from all of those different artists.

There are pinnacle and milestone pieces where you have breakthroughs. Eventually you get to where you can focus a lot more on the creative and imaginative side of things because you don’t have to worry so much about how to actually create it.

Eventually you’ll get to where you don’t have so much hurt from something not working out. You need to learn to not take it personally, or take an emotional hit; to be able to say: don’t mind looking at something and saying, “Ahh, that’s not working out” and then you go back without taking an emotional hit, and say, “you know I can make this better.”

Sometimes you will ask, “Why am I not impressed with what I just did? If you yourself aren’t kind of impressed, then no one else will be. You should be stoked, not trying to convince yourself, “uh, it’s good, it’s good..”

There are times where Jake has worked on a piece for a few hours and then had to scrap it because it just wasn’t up to par.

You need to get to the point where if your dog chewed up your piece, you don’t mind because you know you can create it again or maybe even do something better.

A Word to the Pros

If there is a professional illustrator out there, or close to professional who has great work and you are saying, “I’ve done this, guys.” Then maybe your problem isn’t your craft, but your network. If you don’t know people in the field you want to go in, then you need to find mentors, get your work out there online, and up your game.

Current Projects

Jake: Skyheart, finishing things up there.

Will: A reading book, about a bunny that out foxes a wolf, and is about to start the sequel to Bonnepart Falls Apart.

Lee: Writing a children’s book about natural disasters, and just came up with a dummy, and is learning a lot.

Links

svslearn.com

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

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

Lee White: leewhiteillustration.com. Instagram: @leewhiteillo

If you like this episode, please share it, subscribe, and we’d love it if you left a review! These podcasts live and die on reviews.

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.

Introducing 3 Point Perspective!

Download the episode via Simplecast. Get help.

Drawing by  Tanner Garlick

Drawing by Tanner Garlick

Welcome to the 3 Point Perspective podcast! This is THE podcast all about illustration. We talk all about how to do it, how to make a living at it, and how to make an impact in the world with your art.

Your hosts are Jake Parker, Will Terry, and Lee White. For the last 25 years, they've all worked with just about every major publisher and every publication in the biz. They've collectively published about 50 books, and have all taught at universities.

Each week, they're going to tackle a subject related to illustration from their three different perspectives. Sometimes they'll agree, sometimes they're gonna argue, but you are gonna learn something new every time.

Here are some of the questions that will be discussed:

  • How do you get discovered as an artist?
  • Once you're discovered, how do you negotiate a deal if you've got a job?
  • How do you get an agent to represent you?
  • What are the tools that illustrators use (computers, software, pens, pencils, brushes)?
  • Why do you create?
  • How do you stay motivated?
  • How do you battle creative block?
  • How do you balance work and life and still have a successful career and have a successful family life?

Message from Jake, Terry, and Lee:

Thanks for checking out 3 Point Perspective. We'd love it if you would subscribe to our podcast so you'll know whenever new episodes drop and you'll be able to listen to them right away.

We would also love any sort of feedback you have. Did you like how the topic was presented? What's your perspective on the topics? What are things that you wanna learn about? What are questions that you have about illustration?

Please hit subscribe and join us for future episodes of the Three Point Perspective podcast, and we will see you in the next episode.

Our best,

Jake, Will, and Lee