A Day In The Life of an Illustrator

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Illustrated by Tanner Garlick

Illustrated by Tanner Garlick

3PP Episode 12

A Day in The Life of an Illustrator

Sorry! We just wanted to apologize for the audio quality of this episode. Lee was moving across the country and didn’t have the best set up when we did this episode, but we loved the content so much that we decided to release it anyways. Finished not perfect, right? And correction: when we mentioned Milton Glaser, we actually meant Philip Glass. Enjoy!

We want to talk about a day in the life of an illustrator because when you are choosing a career as an illustrator you are essentially choosing a certain life, and a lifestyle that goes along with it.

Lee and Will will be discussing the life of an illustrator from the book illustration side, while Jake will be commenting and focusing more on the entertainment side of things.

Lee always gets up really early each day and gets to work on a project. As an illustrator you don’t have hard deadlines, so you need to make up your own arbitrary deadlines. There is a final deadline but you need to break it up into smaller steps. So he spends the beginning of his day scheduling what to do. Then he goes right into working on one of the books he is working on.

Schedule: when you are able to schedule your time wisely, that is really going to pay big dividends in your career.

At a studio, Jake would get told what he would do and the schedule was laid out for him. It was a big adjustment when he became an independent artist and had to start managing his own schedule. He started with to do lists, to keep track of what went on during the day, then he started scheduling those tasks throughout the week, and now he has a full weekly and monthly plan and that really helps him with accomplishing his goals.

You need to learn to manage the small micro steps, and learn about your work flow and how long it takes you to perform certain tasks.

Jake divides his work into two categories: creative time and administrative time. Creative time is during the morning when he is fresh and alert, then administrative time comes in the afternoon when he is more tired and burnt out.

Deep Work

Lee is the same.

When Lee gets a project he typically gets an email from his agent that someone is interested in working with him; he writes back and tells them that he is interested; the agent will start to work on the budget and negotiate back and forth with the client; they go back and forth and agree on a schedule; then he gets started on the project by doing some research and development.

“A good beginning is half done.” Great advice from a fortune cookie. It is really profound, though!  If you can start goodt it will influence and pay dividends throughout the project.

At the beginning stages of a book try to stay open to a lot of different influences. It doesn’t have to be so linear. After reading the manuscript stay open to different ideas, styles, or influences, from anywhere and everywhere.

For entertainment, typically if you are on the development team doing the early early pre production work and working on ideas, then you might be doing that for weeks to months at a time, fleshing out ideas. A lot of times before Jake  would go to the studio he would stop by the library for a half hour before going to work and maybe checking it out to use at work that day. Usually there is a weekly meeting where you meet with the director and show it to the group.

As an illustrator you don’t want to attach too much value to your work early on. Nothing is sacred or precious, you can’t get too attached to your drawings and paintings. Otherwise it will become a hindrance to you.

If you are uncomfortable with showing people your rough sketches, then entertainment might be hard for you. You have to show everything, and you don’t know what the director is going to respond to. It might be a 5 minute sketch that you did, or it might be something you spent a few hours on.

You go through stages as an artist: you draw something realistic, then you start drawing characters and diving more into the story and narrative side of things.

You don’t just move forward with your first sketch. You need to do push it more.

Step 2 is where Lee will start thinking about storytelling, and this is his favorite part about being an illustrator: thinking about what the story is really about.

Everything needs to serve the story, including the style. The story should dictate the approach, not the other way around.

Entertainment: Usually the early development team is made up of an art team that is made out of artists with different styles that will help direct the story.

The Art of The Incredibles

There is a lot of overlap between movies and book images, probably because there is a lot of storytelling.

To recap Lee’s process of getting started on a project: Email and express interest, email about the budget, analyze the story, then do very loose sketches that thumbnail the book (2 weeks), then he tightens up the loose sketches, and start painting.

What is the process for you, Will? Once he did a book in 3 months but that was awful, usually a book takes 6-12 months.

A life as a children’s book illustrator: you need to be comfortable with these really long deadlines. You need to be comfortable working on a 9 month long project, if you are at a studio then you might be working on a project for 2 years plus.

This is one of the reasons that Jake wanted to leave the studio work life: the early blue sky stages are super fun, but other times you have to work on a single scene for months and constantly got revisions and sometimes it became unfulfilling.

Jake has been away for a while, and has thought about going back, but realizes that he has the lifestyle that he wants already.

One of the big pros of being a children’s book illustrator is that you are in control. You have control of the product. Ultimately, when you have the final product in your hands it is largely all yours. It is very satisfying.

Lee loves to use Adobe Indesign to layout his books, and it can seem daunting to learn to use a new program but it is definitely worth it; it can be really powerful for laying out a book, it is the way to go for multi page documents.

Will likes to work on the ipad, it is his mobile studio. He uses it to look at all of the different pages too. He chunks out time and give his focus to the design work, sometimes even working in his car to keep focused.

Biggest Pros and Cons of Being an Illustrator:

The pros of being an illustrator is the freedom to make your choice of how your schedule looks. The freedom can be a blessing or a curse.

You can go see a movie on a Tuesday morning, or go on a bike ride during the day if you want to! At a studio, that doesn’t fly.

If you like collaborating, and working in that environment, with different people, and all of the bustling that goes along with that, then maybe

Enough freedom is actually a bad thing.

Here is an important point: most people don’t make their full living as an illustrator. You might do a few things.

Maybe doing art all the time isn’t the best way to make your art. Maybe having a real job where you are interacting with people in real situations will spark your creativity and it goes into something that doesn’t have so many strings attached.

As an illustrator, everyday isn’t bliss. Sometimes you don’t feel like creating, or it may feel monotonous, but likely that’s how every job is from time to time.

What would you do if you couldn’t do art?

Teaching doesn’t count.

Jake: fantasizes about managing and operating a bookstore, or working in concessions at a movie theater.

Lee: physical therapist, or the guy that works in those little booths at a campsite. Delivering pizza was fun as a kid.

Will, has fantasized about running a restaurant.

The grass is romanticized on the other side.

What’s the biggest frustration of being an illustrator?

Will: sometimes when you read the manuscript from an author, even if you like it there are things that you would change. Another thing would be when you feel you really understand the story and the editor has differing views. A lot of the aggravation is based on our perception and attitude.

Biggest pro is the flexibility. Don’t take it for granted.

Jake: the biggest aggravation, or stressor is the lack of steady income. You might make 3 months income in one and then for the next 2 months, drip drip. The freedom in your schedule, is amazing.

Jake had the flexibility to go and help his wife with a project, and he could stay later or come in early. Another thing: Jake has 5 kids, and insuring all of the family, is really expensive. It is a huge burden. To them though, having a family is more important than having a nice car. Jake barely remembers what his older kids were like during

During the day, Jake could eat lunch with his kids and take breaks to play with them. The family life was a lot better. Biggest pro of entertainment job: consistent money, consistent job, and being surrounded by some of the most talented people in the world.

TV has more layoffs. Usually at an animation studio you have a lot more stability. There is enough work that if you are talented and good with people, they will keep you on.

There are a lot of people vying for animation jobs, although there are lots of different studio jobs there.

There is no career path to being a book illustrator. There are so many gray areas.

Lee: Early aggravation, of not knowing how to navigate the terrain.

There are a lot of online resources, youtube, and huge sources of revelation. The art of books are so valuable.

It is really rewarding to come in and get to work, and your whole day is spent trying to tell a story.

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 11: Networking for Artists

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Art by Tanner Garlick

Art by Tanner Garlick

If you think that networking is manipulative, selfish, or all about getting ahead you are doing it wrong. In this episode, we talk about how networking is all about friendship, giving, and the people that you choose to spend time with. We talk about how to network and connect with people above, next to, and below you.

Networking

The What and Why of a Network?

Your network is your connection to a broader world, to opportunities, and to new ideas. Your network consists of your friends in the field that you work in. Your network is so important and who you surround yourself with will influence the type of person that you are and the person that you will become. This applies to your creative life as well as with every other aspect of who you are.

Every jump in Jake’s career came from his network: animation, comics, publishing. Your network is your gate to so many

Jake and Will started to get connected over lunch. Lee was deliberate and tried to connect with Will and Jake.

Networking is like cycling, there is strength in staying in a group. Bikers encourage and support each other, and they draft off of each other. It is hard to break away and do it on your own. Choose friends and to spend time with people that push you to be better.

A true network is not your “job hotline” it consists of your real friends, your buds.

Put yourself in the right place and good things can happen [13:40]

It is true that there are some places that are creative hubs where its easier to find people to connect with but ultimately your network is a result of how much time and effort you put into it.

How much time do you spend getting to know other creatives that are like-minded, how do you make the first contact, and how do you deepen a creative relationship that you have? Consider these things as you learn more about creating your personal network and how to grow it.

Question: Do you need to live in a creative hot spot to be successful [14:54]

Many people have the false impression that it’s all about the location of an artist. Although each area has its own creative hub you can find creatives that are like minded just like you anywhere.

You create your network and you can reach out to people in the area through web searches and hashtagging your area to find people that have the same goals and values as you. Instagram is a great platform to do research and learn about the people in the area and there will be people.

How to build a network of friends in your area [18:00]

  1. Search online, check hashtags, follow & Like

  2. SVS Forum or general online forums

  3. Facebook groups

Through these interactions online you begin to develop relationships, give feedback and receive feedback, and engage with others. You can make the effort to not only find creatives online but create the friendships and start conversations to grow your circles.

SVS Forum

Online interaction is good, but you’ll need to meet people in real life [22:54]

Online interaction has its pros and has reach but there needs to be face to face interaction to solidify the relationships and contacts. This face to face interaction develops the real friendship aspect of networking. Go to networking events, Comicon, conferences, and presentations allow you the environment to meet people face to face with similar goals, values, and ideals. Often time if you have a clear vision of where you want to go you find people in the same boat as you.

How to get over being nerves [24:06]

Starting a conversation with a stranger is not easy but in the industry of illustration and artist, there are comfort zones that need to be broken.

Talking face to face can be hard but there are many things you can do to overcome the fear of talking to someone you have never met. Put yourself in situations to interact with others. Sit next to people or stand next to them in line and create a beginning point of conversation like drawing next to them or talk about why they are there.

Introduction and exit strategies [27:48]

The more and more you stick your neck out to meet other people the more and more you will learn how to ignite conversations and end a conversation. You can begin by pointing out something on their shirt, comment about something that they have or ask about what they are doing here, or what awesome things they seen at the conference etc.

Jake’s foolproof exit is “It was so good to meet you!” hint I gotta go.

Form: Family, occupation, recreation, motivation(or message) [29:44]

You can follow these guidelines to create conversation

  1. Family: Are you here alone, where are you from, are you the only artist in your family?

  2. Occupation: What do you do for a living, is it a hobby?

  3. Recreation: What do you like to do for fun?

This then warms people up for this question:

  1. Motivation: What motivates you, why are you here, why did you decide to draw ….?

Don’t forget the best questions: what is your worthless superpower?

More ideas to meet people [33:11]

  1. Attend a lunch or dinner, or host your own

  2. Create a critique group

    1. In critique groups, you find artists that are motivated and like-minded. This group can meet once a month or once a week and help challenge you personally and grow with each other.

  3. Draw Lunch

    1. Go to the mall and get something to eat and draw. It’s as simple as that. This is a great opportunity to get face to face action.

  4. Set up one-on-one meetings [35:44]

    1. This is a very deep level of interaction and creating your network.

What does your network look like [37:03]

Your network is composed of mentors, friends, and followers. Mentors are people that are farther along and have more experience than you. Friends are the people at the same stage of life you are in and have similar experience level. Followers are people that look up to you.

Keep in mind this quote: It’s not who you know, it’s who you help - Jeff Goins, Real Artists Don’t starve [38:27]

Real Artist Don't Starve

Give and you will grow your network.

Research before reaching out [41:00]

You need to put the work into researching before reaching out to mentors and peers. Before contacting a someone that you admire purchase their material, watch their YouTube videos, read their blog, follow their social media. However, beyond that make sure you have put the time and effort into learning about the field you are interested in or researching about the questions you have. For example, if you are wanting to be a children's book illustration do your research before asking a professional for help and looking like a deer in the headlights.

How to ask questions [41:56]

Before asking a question to a mentor think it through. Ask the question AND provide three solutions to your question. This demonstrates that you have thought things out and have done your research.

How to get a great mentor [43:26]

Jake’s experience with Rachel Everette-  First, Rachel went to a workshop Jake was hosting. Then they met again at ComicCon and she asked Jake to create one of her characters as a commission. This was great because it allowed Jake to be immersed in her art and get to know her. At their next Comicon, she created fanart art of Jake’s character. She also reached out to help Jake with Skyheart because she had time during school.  All these connections allowed Jake to become invested in her. Jake had a contact at Marvel and reached out to them on behalf of Rachel and she is now at the beginning of her career working with Marvel.

Rachel Everett

How to make friends in the industry [48:06]

It feels like common sense but find common interests- be a friend. Interact in thoughtful ways and then dig deeper. When you find people with the same artistic values and ideals stick with them and make time to connect with them.

Being a friend also means being invested in other others success, find the situations and environments that help you all grow, interact with people, and plug into groups and communities.

Finding followers [56:15]

Don’t neglect your follower network. Take time to create your follower network by creating work and allowing your “tribe” to naturally manifest. Build and maintain and network. Connect and be authentic when interacting with your followers. Some things that help people feel connected is Sharing your process, ah- ha moments, and screw-ups. Allow people to be involved in your world. Promote projects and do shoutouts.

Have a shared purpose of collective power i.e. Inkober- drawing in ink!

Building a universe one drawing at a time- Jake Parker. Build your brand around your shared purpose.

When building your network consider these things:

Share Freely [1:00:38]

People with good networks share freely. They don’t hide their secrets. This shows kindness, love, and authenticity.

Create a mantra [01:01:56]

Jake’s is Finished Not Perfect - independent creators that are finished

I.e. Draw every day

Learn and Listen [01:03:43]

Pay attention to feedback. Shift accordingly.

Host meetups [01:04:31]

You build a network by giving more than you take [01:05:14]

This is essential, give and share. This way is the right way to develop real lasting connections. 

This is the key to networking- give. Be a giver more than a taker.

Connecting other people together. Elevates the scene that you are a part of.

If your group is not challenging you to find different friends and

NETWORKING Challenge [01:07:46]

At least one time this next week invited someone to do something related to illustration. Be the inviter.

Post on the forum about the outcome of this challenge!

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 10: Critiques

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Critiques can be the wind beneath your wings that help you grow in incredible ways; or they can be the source of many tears, and hurt feelings. In this episode we will cover why you need critiques and critique groups, where to get them, how to prepare for a critique and what to avoid.

 

[00:00:49] What have you been working on?

 

We used to do this but got out of the habit and wanted to bring it back!

What projects are each of us working on?

Lee: Currently working on writing two books, and is trying to create a dummy book for both books, and trying to sell a two book deal, or at least have two options for publishers to choose from.

Will: Working with four other teachers to create classes for SVS, working on character designs for a board games and a sequel to Bonaparte Falls Apart.

Jake: Working on a figure drawing class for SVS that will be pulling the best from all of the figure drawing books to make the best class possible, on a sequel to “The Little Snow Plow”, Jake and an author he worked with earlier wanted to do a sequel together and their agents were able to create a deal (stay tuned, we’re not able to announce it yet!). and sent the files for Skyheart to the printer in China. Wahoo!

[00:06:10] Why art might not be right for your job?

We wanted to briefly touch on this subject because of a letter that we received from an artist named, Mike, in response to Episode 03: Ship Happens. Mike brought up the fact that maybe for a lot of artists out there, art is better as a hobby than a career. Mike went through all the steps and got his first art job… and he hated it. After he finished a couple of art jobs he was wondering why he didn’t want to apply for any other art jobs and didn’t know why he had such little drive and motivation. He realized that for him, and he imagines a lot of other artists making art their job isn’t the best option for them. He is does a weekly webcomic, does art for a board game company, and engages with his audience and is super happy with his art. He thought it would be nice to share with the followers of this podcast that to kill yourself to flounder in the shallow end of the professional artist career isn’t always going to pay off and doesn’t equate to success or happiness. Mike realized that he needed to have his own personal goals and  stick to them. Also, that he wouldn’t be happy working on other people’s stuff. He realized that his dream was to have a stable income outside of the art industry and then have the freedom to do whatever he wanted to do with his art.

Mike brings up some good points, and essentially hit on the plight on an illustrator; that is, we spend a lot of time working for other people and helping them accomplish their dreams, while sometimes letting our own dreams stagnate.

Super successful illustrators do one or both of these things well:

  1. Stop advertising for, stop looking for, or stop accepting work from clients that take them in the wrong direction.

  2. Or they start doing their own projects, or a combination of the two.

To help see the perspective you can compare this to becoming a professional tennis player.

With each level of progression there are nuances and changes that need to be made, and it sometimes becomes less about the fun, sometimes you just have to practice because you need to improve.

You need to find art jobs that match who you are. Think about your skill level and what makes you happy.

That’s a side note that we wanted to hit, now time to jump into today’s episode!

[00:15:15] What are the benefits to a critique?

You need to see things from the perspective of another and that’s what critiques help us do.

Critiques are for students and professionals, alike. We all need feedback and critique. That’s how we grow. Jake was working on Skyheart and decided to redo the cover and when he posted it online he got a lot of feedback telling him that the original was better.

[00:17:17] Why you might not get an honest critique?

Sometimes we don’t get honest critiques because we don’t create the right atmosphere for the critiquer to feel comfortable giving us feedback. If they think that you want validation and not a real critique then often they’ll just tell you what you want to hear.

[00:18:29] How to find a good critique?

There are many people you can reach out to for good critiques such as previous teachers, professional artists, critique groups, small social media groups or pods, and artists at art conventional or art shows.

Art students have their previous teachers as a resource but this relationship needs to be set up when they were in school. Have you created a positive relationship for them to want to critique you later? Be a good student and be involved, it will pay dividends.

Like it or not, we live in a transactional society. It helps if there is an exchange of time i.e. buying a print, helping to update their website, handle their social media posts, etc. Time is precious, see if there is something you can do for them.

Maybe you only have a critique group of your peers: be the person that gives critiques and set the foundation of a give and take relationship with your peers. On the SVS forum it is great to ask for a critique but people will be a lot more willing to give you a critique if you are also spending time to give others critiques.

You can also ask artists at conventions and art shows for feedback. Be courteous, and respectful of their time. It always helps to buy a print or something to compensate them for their time.

Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators

[00:28:22] Are you personally ready for a good critique?

How can you prepare for a good critique? You can approach critiques with a vision and a direction. Think about what your purpose for the piece is, and that will help your critiquer point you in the  right direction. Provide a frame a references.

[00:30:31] Know what you need

Understand what you are asking for. Maybe you just want to be validated or maybe you really need to level up the piece you are working on. Know what you need and ask for it.

[00:31:15] Mel Milton's critique method

Mel Milton has a critique method where he only praises people when they ask for a critique, unless they really push him to give a critique and really ask for it. If they really want a critique then the flowery praise won’t be enough and they’ll push for more feedback. Showing that you really want feedback allows the critiquer to take you seriously and tell you what they really think.

Mel Milton

[00:32:30] You never know how people will react to your critique

People sometimes cry, get angry or defensive and this is a sign that they are not ready for a critique.

[00:34:08] What not to do during a critique

Critique Repellent:

  1. Talking too much: cutting off their comments or not letting the critiquer actually critique.  

  2. Getting upset

  3. Being distracted and unplugged from the critiques

  4. Arguing

[00:36:00] What to do before and during a critique

  1. Know what you want the piece to accomplish- set a vision for where you want your piece to go

  2. Be specific- you can ask them, “what did I nail?”, “what did I get wrong?”, etc.

  3. Have more than one option open for critique- this helps provide a point of reference for critique and is extremely helpful

  4. Set limitations: "What are three things I could do to improve this?" This really helps the critiquer feel open to give you three things you can improve.

  5. Open the door for a total critique by saying “I’m willing to start this piece over”

In contrast to the “repellant” above, these things really create a positive atmosphere for receiving a critique.

[00:41:46] Break your critique into components

Lee liked to use a rubric to help provide specific critique to his students. Maybe they nailed it with the rendering and perspective but the concept was weak, or maybe they had a great concept but the values could use some work, etc.

Some fundamental things Jake looks at when giving a critique:

Gesture

Composition

Design

Volumes

Rendering

Understand your objective.

[00:46:11] How to prepare for a hard critique

When Jake worked at Blue Sky, his entire job was critiques. You would constantly draw and receive critiques. Sometimes character designs would have to go through 50 iterations before they ever settled on a final.

Come into the critique being malleable and bendable. It will free you from feeling too attached to your work.

Recognize that if you are making this a career there will be good drawings and bad drawings. Sometimes we are too invested in the time that we spent creating a single piece. Realize that one peace is a drop in the bucket of your lifetime of work. They say everyone has 10,000 bad drawings in them and so if you do a bad one, you’re like, “Sweet, I got one of those out of the way.” Then you can move onto another drawing.

Don’t spend so much time worrying about the one brick rather than the entire wall. Go into it knowing that this isn’t the last thing you are going to create.

Don't rely on feedback from one single person, but if multiple people tell you the same thing, pay attention. You can start to understand the trends of your critique.

[00:53:23] How to participate in or find a critique group

Try to find in your area 3-5 people with the same goals as you do.  As a group you will help each other achieve your goals. They could be in person or online and be composed of different creatives. Within your critique group find people who are at your level or higher, (preferably, you’re the least skilled in the group). Be accountable to this group.

Warning: if the group gets too big they become more of a cheerleading group and people will feel less impelled or comfortable to give honest critique.

Professionals need critique groups to level up and receive the feedback necessary to make work on that higher level. Try to find a local group with people who have similar goals.

[01:00:08] 5 Things to Avoid Doing In a Critique Group

  1. Don’t show with work, but dish out critique

  2. Take without giving

  3. Being disrespectful

  4. Being late: it shows selfishness

  5. Not be overly negative

[01:03:47] Quick note about posting online

Your posts online can also be a source of critique. Based on what people commenting and also what is getting a lack of comments.

If your art doesn't get any responses that is a form of a critique. It means that you can keep at it and make something remarkable (worthy of remark).

[01:04:55] Giving a critique

Knowing your biases in your artistic tastes. For example, Lee doesn’t really love symmetrical work or anime, so he has to take that into account when he is giving a critique.

These things influence your critique and how objective it will be.

Also, reach out to certain people for different types of critique. Any critique from anyone is helpful, and a fellow artist can give you a good general critique. However, if you want a critique on your watercolor techniques then you should talk to someone else who does watercolors and they will be able to give you a more specific critique. You can get more general and more specific critiques, and both are valuable.

[01:08:17] Trust you gut.

    Sometimes, you will get critiques that don’t sit right, and ultimately you need to trust your gut. Don’t change your whole style based on someone’s critique if it doesn’t feel right. However, if you want work from someone and they are asking you to change something then you probably should if you want work from that person.

Knowing what you want out of the critique will influence what you take away from it, and also the number of people giving you similar critiques.

Get critiques and be wise, what can we say 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

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.

Is that not enough for you? Okay, if you want, we even have a transcription below:

TRANSCRIPTION

Hello everybody and welcome to 3 Point Perspective, the podcasts about illustration, how to do it, how to make a living at it and how to make an impact in the world with your art. I'm Jake Parker.

I'm Lee white.

I am Will Terry and all three of us are professional illustrators. We've been working for about the last 25 years, and we've worked with just about every major publisher and publication in the business. We've also together published around 50 books, and we've all taught illustration at universities.

Yep. Each week we're going to tackle a different subject relating to illustration from each of our three perspectives. Sometimes we're going to agree, sometimes we're going to argue but hopefully, you're going to learn something new. 

All right. How are you guys doing?

Awesome.

It's been a while, hasn't it?

Been a while.

Just talked yesterday. I wanted to point out something that we dropped off doing this the last few podcast, and that was what have you guys been working on. So can we just do a quick update on what's on your guy's plate. I'm curious to know what you guys are doing. Lee said you were working on a book today, so let's do that and then we'll go into the rest of the episode. Is that cool?

Yeah.

Yeah, let's do it. 

Okay. Lee, what are you doing?

I am working on a book like you just said. I'm writing two of them at the same time, and my agent just went to Bologna which is a huge children's book convention. Every year happens in the spring, so if you guys want a tax-deductible trip to Italy, anyone can book a trip and go to this book fair in Bologna.

I've been wanting to go to that for years. I just-

Me too.

It always sneaks up on me, I always forget about it until too late.

I think I'm going to do it next year but anyway, my agent took one of my manuscripts there. I had some sketches and some paintings and stuff, so I got a lot of interest from this one story that I'm doing. I'm now dummying up that one to a complete dummy with some revisions, and then working on another one. I'm going to try to sell a two-book deal because as we've said before on the podcast, there's nothing worse than somebody having just one idea. So even if they don't buy both of them, I want to have at least two on tap just in case.

Right.

Smart.

Cool. What about you Will?

I am working with two or three, well three different, four different teachers at SVS to create classes. Some of them are really close, some of them are far off but very exciting. I'm working on a character design job for a board game company, and working on the children's book sequel to Bonaparte. 

Cool.

A lot of stuff.

I am currently working on a new figure design class for SVS. I have like 10, I ordered all ... I have my archive of life drawing books or Anatomy books, but then I ordered all the best ones that Amazon has highest ratings on. I've been going through these books looking at why is this book so good, what's bad about this book and crafting an outline and curriculum for the class that I think uses the best stuff from all these different books. So that's been a lot of fun and then the next thing, I'm doing a sequel to Snowplow, the little Snowplow. I'm working on Snowplow two and I just got a book deal for another sequel, I don't ... Did I mention that earlier on this podcast? I can't ... It's been a while.

Another sequel for what?

A sequel for another children's book that I'd originally done years ago. So those are the-

Which one?

I can't, it's not announced yet.

It's big secret.

I can't say.

The first one is already made.

The first one came out several years ago, and the author contacted me. He's like, "Would you be up for a sequel?"

I know which one it is.

I was like, "Yeah, that'd be cool and so we both told I guess our agents and they went and worked something out, and now there's a book deal in the works so it should be fun.

What I love about that us that you guys didn't wait around for the publisher to say, "Hey, what about a second book?" You guys took the initiative and something we talked about a lot on this show is like hey I got this image or this story, who might want it and what can we do?

I forgot to mention, I guess I'm just so ready to move on to these next projects. Yesterday I sent all the last files for SkyHeart to the printer, so that book is out of my hands. It's in China, they're piecing it together doing whatever they do over there, and I should have books back here in a few months.

Nice.

How many copies did you order?

About 3,000 yeah. We'll see, I still have to do a pre-order. I guess by the time people listen to this, the pre-order will have launched. So if more people want it than that, then I'll order extra.

Well just so you guys know listening at home, thinking of doing your own Kickstarter, a book, a hardcover book weighs a little over a pound typically. Obviously it changes depending on the actual dimensions, but around a pound so that's the reason I was asking Jake because that was a big shocker when I did my book is all of a sudden I did 2,000. Now €2,000 worth of books are coming my way, and that was the first time I just [inaudible 00:05:45] and were like, "Oh my gosh, where am I going to store all of these things?"

What did I do? Luckily we had a room in our basement that was empty and we just stacked, this was for my first Kickstarter book, The Antler Boy. We just stacked these books and made a giant couch out of them, and I mean a giant couch. A 30 foot long couch out of the books. All right, one more thing before we get into Will's topic. I got a letter this morning from someone who had something to say about back in episode three: Ship Happens. They had a really thoughtful commentary on that, that I wanted to share and I got permission from him to share this. His name is Mike, and I don't think he left any social media on this so here's Mike's letter.

There's something I kept thinking would come up in the Ship Happens episode, and maybe it's not a concept that resonates with you guys because you're all professionals, and have "made it" and are loving the work. I think for a lot of artists out there, myself included, I went through all the steps of making it. Had an art job and hated it. I went through a long period after my first couple of art jobs ended, not wanting to apply, not knowing why my drive was so low. It turns out that for me, and I imagine a lot of other artists that making our art our job might not be the best step for us. I'm getting far more productivity enjoyment out of creating now that art is officially my hobby. 

I do a weekly Webcomic, I do art for a board game company. I engage with my following of fans, my little following of fans and I have not been this happy with my art since college. So for a lot of your followers, it may be a good message to hear that killing yourself to flounder in the shallow end of the professional artist career isn't A, always going to pay off and B, making it doesn't equate to success or happiness. The Ship Happens episode seemed to really resonate with me because it highlighted that I needed to find my own personal goals and stick to them. I had to admit to myself, I'd never be happy working on other people's stuff and that was a dead end for a professional artist.

Following my dream would have meant a career I hated, and might not have realized until I was years and years into it. Turns out my dream was more like having a stable income outside of the art industry that let me do whatever I wanted artistically in my spare time. I don't know if that makes sense to you but it works for me. I'd love to hear what you think or something like that ever becomes one of your topics. Love your work, love your projects. Thanks so much for being approachable, blah, blah, blah. Mike. So what do you guys think of that?

Can I jump into that?

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

I think he's talking about basically the plight of an illustrator. The balance, right. I mean we work for other people and we work on their dreams, meanwhile we let our dreams stagnate sometimes. I think these super successful illustrators do one of two things or both, which is they stop advertising or stop looking for, or stop agreeing to work for the clients that are taking them in the wrong direction, and start accepting jobs which are in line with their visions. So the books that I take on now are pretty much all dream jobs. They're stories I wish I had written and I get to illustrate. The other side of it is they end up doing their own personal projects, and they could be a combination of the two. So I think over time ... I took so many jobs that I hated early on, and I describe it as working on an art job that you hate is actually worse than doing the worst manual labor job I could think of.

Right. You'd rather paint.

Yeah because it takes emotional labor, you cannot escape from it. When you're digging a ditch, you can think about you can be anywhere but when you're forced to work on art that you hate, you are there. You're present the whole time.

Well, there's another I mean that's totally true. I always use this analogy in school too to add to what Will said, it's my tennis analogy. I love using analogies for some reason when I teach, because it just makes it easier to see the perspective of it all. Just being, a lot of people think, "If I was just a pro I'd be happy, and if I was just making a living at this, it would be so much better." So I use this tennis analogy for the mentality of what it takes to be a pro at something. If you ... I enjoy playing tennis just as much as anybody does I guess recreationally, and when you play recreational tennis, it's pretty fun. You go out and you swat some balls and whatever, then you start to get a little bit better at it. Maybe I'll play some little neighborhood, little weekly round-robin tournament or something, and so yeah the level goes up a little bit.

Starts to become a little more serious, you start working on shots, still pretty fun though but you've changed it from that initial easy whatever kind of attitude, now you got a little bit of criteria that you're trying to do, and a little bit more seriousness. Then you start winning that, he's like, "Okay, I'm going to play maybe some regional tournaments and maybe get a coach." At that point, things shift quite a bit and now practice comes into play. All of a sudden what is always fun, is not the focus anymore. Now you have to go, "I got to work on this shot. I don't like doing this shot, but I got to work on it because I'm losing points to it." Then it's just more serious and then the next step is okay I'm going to be a pro tennis player, and now it's for real.

You got to start measuring your serve speed and all the stuff, and the fun is I don't want to say it's not fun, but it takes a different kind of person to go through all those steps and say, "I'm willing to do all this sacrifice for being a pro," and it comes with a lot of ups and downs in terms of your enjoyment, your relationship to that job. I feel like illustration is the exact same way, and I heard a writer talk about that with her relationship with writing before during this lecture. She said, "My relationship is just like a relationship with a husband or a family member. Sometimes we're good, sometimes I love my writing but sometimes I hate my writing. I don't want to even look at it, I don't want to talk to it. I don't want to even think about it." Other time ... It means it's bendable thing, so it just becomes different when you become a pro. So anyway-

Yeah. I think you have to find that job that matches your inclinations, your drive, and your ability level too. So it might be that like Mike says, you don't want to wallow in the shallow end of the professional world, and who knows what for whatever reason could cause that. It could be your ability level, it could be a drive or it could just be time constraints or maybe you don't want to move to a different place, and there's just not the jobs where you live. I have a friend who was trying to make the art career work, and what he ended up doing was teaching art to junior high students and loves it.

Absolutely loves it because it allows, it gives him so much creativity in the projects that he wants to do with the kids in his own projects, gives him time to do his own projects because he has summers off. So that was a great compromise for him that maybe he doesn't have to be working for a high-profile studio. Maybe it's something that he didn't initially think would be an option, but now is this thing that he loves to do. So yeah, that was like its own topic.

Yeah, let's go ahead and get it to the real topic.

Okay, next-

This is jampacked episode for everyone. All right Will, this is your day today. You're driving, so I'm handing the keys to you and take us wherever we're going to go.

Hopefully we don't wreck. So we get a lot of questions at SVS about, can I pay for a critique on my portfolio, or will you give me feedback on this, or are you going to offer a critique class? I wanted to address that first because a lot of our students listen to our podcast, and we don't often get a chance to talk to them in one place. We are trying to build SVS right now in the curriculum, and so we have taken a backseat on just doing critique classes. It's been frustrating for some of our students because they want it, they're just dying to get a good critique to just know how they're doing. We all do, right? I mean we all want to know where we fit in and so in general, I want to give in this podcast ideas, alternatives, on where to get a critique. 

How to get a good critique, and how you can prepare yourself to get a critique. What not to do, what to do. All of that, we're going to unpack that whole thing, because I don't think that you need to wait. I think there's some proactive things that students can do, or beginning artists can do to ensure that they're getting good feedback so they can move forward. So let's dive in. The first thing I wanted to talk about is why do you want or need a critique? Why do you guys, what would you guys say? Why should a student get a critique in their art? Maybe some people don't want one.

It's impossible to know where you stand without getting a critique, you have to see it from other people's point of view, and that goes all the way up into the pro level. I've showed my studio, I shared a studio with David Hone for years. I'd show him something and he'd spot something I did not even see, and it's as obvious as the nose on your face when somebody else sees it especially somebody who knows what they're doing.

Exactly. Yeah, I'm the same way. In fact, recently I self critiqued. I was doing the cover for SkyHeart and something just wasn't sitting right about it for me. I didn't like the character designs because I had evolved as an artist since, the style had evolved since I did the cover. I drew the cover first before I drew the comic, so I got to redraw this cover with the right character design. So I did it, I inked it, I colored it. I showed it to Will, and Will's like, "Yeah man, that's good. Ship it." I'm like, "Sweet." I posted online and you would not believe the feedback I got.

Most of the time I post something, people are like, "Yeah, this is good." I posted the old cover next to the new cover, and so many people were saying, "The old cover's so much better, the old cover's so much better." I showed it to my kids and they were brutal. They're like, "This one's garble, this one's a masterpiece." Pointing to the old one, and so then I realized okay A, don't ask Will Terry for critique.

It was funny when you came in. When I came in the next day and you're like, what did you say? You liked.

What did I say?

You said something like, "So did you give me an honest critique on the cover?"

Yeah, yeah, exactly.

That was busted and the reason that I didn't, and this is going to come up in ... We're going to address this is I was hedging for you, because you went ahead and did a completely finished piece. I could tell you're like, "I know how I feel when I do spend all that time, I want to use that time." You didn't really, I'm going to blame you when really I should just take the blame. I should just take it right? You didn't give me the permission I was looking forward to just hammer you on that cover.

Right. So I should have said, "I needed honest critique. Will, I need you to tell me is this good or not." Instead of just what do you think? Yeah, that's a good point.

Okay. So moving along, that was awkward wouldn't happen because I was busted. I did have to come clean and say, "I really liked the old one better and here's why," but at that point we ... We were in a safe space to be able to go there. Before we get going on preparing the critiquer to give you a good critique, I want to talk about places where people can actually get a good critique of their work. I think a lot of times students are afraid to ask their current teachers, or past teachers for a critique. They're out of college, they're out of art school, or they're out of high school. They've lost touch and I think in general, most of us are I don't know, somewhat introverted to where it's hard for us to reach out to someone.

I would say you probably already have, a lot of people probably have access to people who could actually give good feedback but maybe they're not as convenient to get a hold of, so I would start there. I have given quite a few professional critiques to strangers, who happen to catch me at the right time, or ask in the right way and I'm able to work that into my schedule via email or something. So if you can ask professional artists, a lot of times you're going to get ignored if you don't know them, but that's a good resource.

Can I add something to that, Will?

Yeah, go ahead.

One thing about that one asking prior instructors for feedback is your relationship with them during your class, when you're actually in the class is going to set up that relationship for them to want to critique you later.

That's good point.

Sometimes students, I haven't seen them for two or three years and they send me an image, and I couldn't be happier to look at the work. I'm excited to see what they're doing now compared to when they were in school, and I'm excited to be able to still help them out. Likewise, sometimes I get to hear from students couple years later. In class they were combative, they were late, they didn't turn in work. Then they ask me to critique something and I typically don't even respond to the email, I just can't.

Yeah, that makes sense. So basically be a good person.

Be involved, because it goes way farther than the class you're actually just sitting in right now. We just had just to speak to that point, we just had a student, I had a student who this is about five years ago. She was an awesome student, did a bunch of independent studies with her. We invited her to do a class here at the school that we run SVS, she did the painting class and just showed her process, and then she just won the Adobe internship. So it's just cool to watch this, I recommend her all day long because she was so good during my time with her. So I don't know, it just lasts. The relationships last a long time, longer than just one class.

I have a lot of former students that I would consider friends now. We hang out on a professional level now.

Like it or not, I just want to add too. Like it or not, we live in a transactional society and that means if you're asking for something like a critique to a current, or former teacher, especially a professional who doesn't even know you, it helps if you are giving them something in return. So for me, a lot of times people come up to me at comic book conventions. I'm at the table and they'll hand me their portfolio and say, "Would you mind taking a look at it?" I'm more than happy to give a critique but if that gets in the way of a sale, I'm there to make money. I'm taking time out of my weekend, away from my family, I've invested a lot of money and time into this show. If the portfolio reviewing is getting in the way of my reason for being there, the portfolio review isn't going to go as well.

Isn't going to be as thorough as if the person says, "Can I buy a print and can I have a little bit of your time to look at this portfolio?" So that always helps and I think also if it's a teacher, or some mentor, is there something I can do for you? Can I come in and update your website for you? Can I handle your social media posts for a month? Can I do something that saves you time so that you can use that time to give me a good review, a good critique? So I think if you come into it with that, you're going to get a better critique and you're going to understand a little bit more about the nature of what it's like working professionally, and trying to take out time to give back to others and being able to facilitate that for people.

So what if they buy five prints? Do they get like a full portfolio?

They get Jake for a weekend.

Yep. I come to their house, I make them breakfast. I sit down, we chat.

Okay. Some other suggestions would be art buyers at conventions, and the conventions I'm talking about like the SCBWI conventions which are in the children's book world, Society of children's book writers and illustrators.

Pause. Before you get into that, there's one more other thing I want to mention. Say you don't have access to a professional, say current teachers or former teachers isn't an option so you just have your peers, or a critique group or something like that. It helps so much to be the person that's always willing to give critiques, so that when the time comes that you ask for a critique, people are more and likely to share that with you. It's frustrating to see someone come up to maybe it's like an art form, like the SVS art forms. It's their first post, they're there with their portfolio or with an image and they're just like, "Please critique this, show me how I can make this better." People out of kindness will give critiques, but have that person showed up and for two weeks gave critiques to other people and then asked for a critique, I'm sure that critique would be much more thorough. Would be much more personal and probably get a lot better feedback than just having a give me, give me attitude.

Yeah. You never want to invite the revenge critique, right?

Exactly. 

I haven't heard it called that, but that is hilarious.

All right, I'm sorry. I just wanted to get that in before you moved on to the next thing.

There's a lot of different professional conventions, I don't want to go into all of them but in the area that you are going to be working in, there will inevitably be a convention that you can go to, and there will be art buyers there who one of their jobs there is to review portfolios. Either to ... They're head hanging basically, and so they want to look at good portfolios. I don't want to spend a lot of time there. Another one would be like Jake mentioned, pro artist art conventions such as comic conventions or art shows. When you say it's an unwritten rule that artists know that up and coming artists are going to approach them with their portfolios, or sketch books and-

Yeah, I think that's a little bit part of it. It definitely was more a part of conventions before they became so popularized. So a lot of times you'd go to a comic book convention because you wanted to meet a comic book creator. That's still an element of them, but for a lot of people going to conventions these days it's to meet an actor, is to meet whether it's a voice actor or the cast of Star Trek, The Next Generation or something like that. I've seen artists [inaudible 00:26:23] dwindle as a lot of these shows they're happening now but yeah, it's still an element. 

It's something that I think you're completely in the right frame of mind if you're going to a convention to meet an artist creator, to get some of their input on your portfolio. Like I said, just make sure that you are aware of the things happening at their booth, and the time of others and their time, and see if there's a way you can compensate or give back for that.

Can we go back to the revenge crit idea for a second? Sorry to derail but it just brought up this fun, I haven't thought about it since I left school. There was this one crit I was in, it was right when we were senior level and getting ready to leave. I remember we're getting our portfolios ready for real work, and this girl put up this image and we're talking about it, and everybody's critiquing it and stuff. It's fine but I just noticed and this is where you should shut up sometimes when you're critiquing someone else's work, but I just noticed that she had done this painting and in between these characters and whatever was happening in this scene, the negative space of the painting she had accidentally drawn a perfectly rendered dog.

So it's just I mean there's no dog that's supposed to be there, it was just the shape of like one leg coming down, and another arm coming up but it was so perfect. I just couldn't believe it, and a curb in the background was making the paw Anatomy and stuff. So I pointed out this dog and for the rest of the critique, nobody could talk about anything but this accidental dog that was in the negative space of this painting. Man she was fuming.

So when it was her turn to critique you?

Man she unloaded, it was pretty awesome.

That's hilarious.

That's a good one. So a few other ideas I want to touch on are the critique group. If you've never heard of one of those, we're going to talk about that just a little bit later in this podcast on how to form a critique group, but that's a thing and it's a thing that people regularly form either if there are authors, or if they're illustrators or both. Then the last one that I have on my list here is social media groups, is I've seen quite a few Facebook groups that people will form that are a private group. You wouldn't want to just have an open critique of your work unless you have the toughest leather skin possible put out on the general Facebook, but in private groups you can get critiques.

The next thing I want to talk about is how to get a good critique of your work, and are you personally ready for a good critique? So by that I mean, let me ask you guys, what would a person who's ready for a critique act like? What would be signs? Obviously Jake wasn't ready the other day.

Well, I think they would ... I think you got to be ready to put out what you want to get out of the critique. I think it's one of the problems that a lot of students do when they submit their work, they just shove an image in front of your face and be like, "Here's an image, what do you think?" The problem with that is the critiquer doesn't know what to do with the image, they don't know what the concept is or where you're trying to go with it. So it's really, really hard to critique when we are just left with nothing. So coming to the table with saying, "Hey, I'm trying to make this layout, I'm trying to make it really scary. It's part of this story." One or two sentences about where you're going with that piece, and does this accomplish that.

Just changing how you go into it. A lot of people are just basically going into crit hoping that the instructor says, "This is a perfect image and there's nothing that needs to be added to it." But I like having a frame of reference for how to critique it, like what they're looking for.

Yeah, you need to ... You first need to know exactly what you're needing. I remember I'd finish something, and I knew it was good. I didn't need a critique, all I wanted was validation. I just wanted someone to say, "I recognize these, you spent a lot of time on this. It looks good, you did a good job." I knew that that's what I wanted, I could ask in a way that I could get that and that way was, "Hey friend ..." I was talking to a friend of mine. "I spent a lot of time on this, I just need you to acknowledge that I created this." 

It's funny that you bring that up because our good friend Mel Milton, who I think a lot of people listening to this would know who he is, but you should look him up. We'll put him in the show notes, Mel Milton. He was teaching at our local university at UVU, this last semester. He told me that whenever he gets people coming up to him saying, "Will you critique this?" He just gives them a glowing, he just gives them nothing but praise because he's had so many times where he's given an honest critique, and then the person is just broken down bawling. So he actually uses the good critique as a measure, so if the person goes, "Okay, yes you're saying good things about it but ..." and then invites him by saying but what's wrong with it? What what could I do to make it better?

Then he's like, "You actually want a critique?" He's actually had people before that are like, "You don't ever give me a critique, how come?" He goes and he'll tell them, "Because you've never really asked." They're like, "Sure, I do. I ask." Then like, "Not really." You have to invite me and make me feel safe, because haven't you guys have you guys ever given a critique and had someone just start crying in front of you.

Yeah. Every class.

That's awkward or I've had people get mad. I had somebody on Facebook one time who messaged me privately and said, and I just took them at their word. They just said, "I really want an honest critique of this blah, blah, blah, blah." I gave him an honest critique and my way of critiquing, on a scale of harsh and easy I'm definitely more on the easy side, and I gave him the level of four critique. The response I got back was, "Wow, who do you think you are?" Kind of a thing and just from then on, this person wrote me off and was mad. I think we're all as a person being asked to give a critique, and this is all of you listening because it doesn't matter what level you're at. We all give critiques and we all need critiques. One of the things and I think you guys are alluding to is that the person asking for the critique needs to prepare the critiquer, is that a word?

Critiquer, critiquee.

You need to make the person you're asking feel comfortable that they're not entering into something they didn't bargain for that day. Like when they woke up in the morning they were like, "I hope I get into a fight with somebody today." They want to avoid that so I have a few things what not to do, and a few things that you can do. One, behaviors not to do. Person asks for a critique and then they won't shut up, almost as if they're blocking any possible negative comments that could come. If you guys ever experienced that one.

Yeah. It's like hey can you look at this piece and you're like, "Sure." "Just let me know what you think. So as I was working on it, this is the thing that I was doing and then I did this but then I messed up. So I went back in and made," and you just can't get a word in.

Yeah. So you're going, "Oh." At that point I'm thinking, "Okay, you wanted to be acknowledged for the hard work that you did, and so I'm not going to give you a critique." Another one would be person asked for a critique, and then gets completely upset. We talked about that. Another one is the person is distracted during the comments. So you're giving nuggets of gold as the critiquer, and they're off in some other world. It's like okay-

They're on the phone.

Yeah, they're blocking the negative comments or the feedback by being unplugged, arguing with the feedback that you're getting. You could be getting bad feedback, we've all gotten critiques that are bad. My advice for that is get multiple critiques on the same piece. If you don't hear the same thing, the same sorts of comments more than once, it could be that the comments are wrong that you're getting. So those are behaviors that I would say are repellent for getting a good critique. What would be, Lee what would be some things that you would say a person wanting critique should do to prepare the critiquer?

Yeah. One of the main things, know what you want out of the piece. So know what you want to hit during the critique, it can't just be what do you think of this image. So being specific on things you want to work on in the piece, or things that you're wondering about in the piece but my favorite is going back to the story that Jake was talking about with his covers. If you have more than one option, life is going to be so much easier for you because even the people who are uncomfortable about giving a true critique, once there's two options an option A and a B, then all of a sudden they feel very free and say, "No, I like B because A doesn't really feel this way to me, or B feels perfect to me or whatever." 

It's hard to just show one thing to somebody and have them either A, know what to do with it but once you have something to compare it to, man the whole world opens up because they can say, "Wow, look what you did here. If you just do more of that." The critique just becomes so much more productive, so have more than one option to crit, and then know what you want to get out of the critique. If you do those two things, they'll be very, very productive I think.

Yeah. I would also say be specific. What did I nail in this piece, and what did I get wrong? Looking at this, what can improve?

Another thing you could say maybe you're like don't leave it as this monumental task. Say what are three things I could do to make this piece better? Instantly I hear I have to give this person three things, they want three things. They're not going to cry when I tell them three things.

Right. There's a bar, there's an exchange that you've set up for that. I love that.

Right, that's good.

You know what I used to do with the people that argue with me by the way during critiques?

What's that?

It always works so well. I don't want to be mean and keep arguing with somebody, because like you said maybe I'm wrong and that's what I say. When somebody starts arguing with me, I've got definite reasons about why I'm saying the things that I'm saying but maybe I've been wrong before for sure. So I said, "Let's test it." I make them give me three key words for what the piece is supposed to be about, and then we go out, I would go out in the hall. This is what I'm teaching at the university and I would just find the first four or five people that come up and I'd say, "Give me three words on how this makes you feel." 

If they didn't match the key words, the cinnamon are the key words typically the student would be like, "Okay, I see what you're saying. It didn't communicate effectively." Just do this random, unbiased. First the person doesn't know we were just arguing in class about what to do about it, and almost 95% always worked in my favor that way. Sometimes I was wrong though and they would say, "Yeah, it works perfect." I'll be like, "Yeah, I'm just not seeing it but ..."

I do a version of that that goes something like this, I asked the rest of the class, we would come up with basically the key words. What are you trying to say, the student would tell me and I would ask the class if we showed this to random people in the hallway, do you think they would come up with what this student just said? Everyone's shaking their head no. It's a reality check because I think you go through these phases as an artist. At first you're just tickled that you can make a piece of art, and then you're tickled that you can make a piece of art look like what you had in your mind. Those two first stages, all you really want is praise and it takes someone I think for me at least deciding that they want to do this professionally, to where they start coming to the reality of I may not, I may fail in this endeavor if I don't get good.

They have to get tired of their current level of production to the point where they surrender and just go, "Hit me, I can take it." Another question that I love that I've heard people say before is they've said, "I'm willing to start this piece over if you think that's what it needs." That I'm free to tell you exactly what I think now, and that's where you're going to learn so much quicker. A lot of pieces can't be reworked, they're designed in such a way poorly to where it's like a plane that's in a dive that it's not going to be able to get out of. It has to crash and you have to build a new plane and start over again.

Do you guys know what rubrics are?

Yeah.

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Okay, so any professional teacher probably knows what a rubric is but for those of you guys listening, a rubric is a way of analyzing something and under multiple criteria. So that's the way, did you guys grade with rubrics in college?

Sort of, yeah.

So you'd have basically a call, it's not just like you get one grade. You turn in an illustration, it's just an A or it's a B. It would be your process would get a grade, and then your inking would get a grade, and your rendering would get a grade, and your story gets a grade. So it comes out there might be five to seven, five to 10 categories within a piece and you could see exactly what you did right, what you did wrong and that's a good way to do it too. If you come in and ask about each of those things specifically, because then it isolates where the plight it's not all just like this is a terrible piece. You can say the inking is great on this and the perspective is great, but the concept's not really working so well. So you find exactly where that category is that's not working as well.

Right and that's what anytime I critique, I go through four different things. It's all from fundamental stuff to the more superficial things, and I always start with well let's look at your gesture, or your under sketch. Maybe it's the composition or something like that, then let's look at your design work. Maybe gesture is great but the design is stale, and then I just move down those things to how are the volumes? How is it structured? Does it feel dimensional, if that's what they're going for? Then finally, how is it actually rendered? It could be that everything's good up to the rendering, and it's like if this was just rendered differently, it would be an amazing piece.

So it's going through those checklists for me and looking at those things, and deciding what ... It's like if they're willing to start it over, yes that's awesome because then you can go back to the beginning and say, "Here's how you do it." Sometimes it's just like what's the minimum thing you can do to change it for the better, and it might just be like well this eye is wonky, just fix that eye.

Yeah. I think that if you're going to be wanting a critique, you're also going to be needing to give a good critique. So thinking about for me anyway, the purpose of the art since we're not dealing ... We're not talking about gallery work here, we're not talking about personal work, we're talking about for most for the practical sense of this podcast, we're talking about commercial art. We're talking about illustration and so there's always going to be a purpose for that illustration. It's going to be to convey a story or an idea, a concept, and that is my number one question is does this say basically what you were saying Lee. Does it say what you're trying to say, and to me that's more important than the aesthetics. Even though to me the aesthetics comes really close second but I don't want to get into the color, and the rendering if the concept is not going to work. Even if the color and the rendering were fixed.

Right, and I guess there's a flip side to what we're saying here and that is from the students perspective, how do you recognize a bad critique when you're actually getting a critique that's not worth it. What I would say there, and that's happened a lot in my schooling both undergrad and graduate school. A specific example that my friend, won't mention names here but one of my friends was in his grad program and turn in an illustration, and it was a high key image. It was high key meaning that the values are at the high end of the scale, it's not a full contrast image and it was for a reason. Like that just hit what he was trying to say in the story by making the image high key. 

So he puts it up there and then the critique is, "Well you need to add more values." He's like, "Well I made it high key because at this point in the story ..." They're like, "Well, you don't have all your values here." It's just ridiculous where they start talking about these little things that don't matter, and they're not asking you the questions like, "What do you want me to think and how are you conveying these things?" It's amazing you can just, if they just have a certain go to like you have to use full value, it's got to be fully rendered, they don't ask you any questions that's how you know your critiquer is less than stellar, and maybe it's time to ask someone else.

Yeah. I think if you come into it and say, "This is my intention with this piece, this is what I was trying to accomplish. Let me know if this is doing it or not." Then you can tell if the person is just being subjective or if they're being objective like okay, subjectively I don't like purple and yellow together. I think that I'd prefer blue and orange right, but that is like a subjective thing. It doesn't matter if the colors are working, it doesn't matter but if they say, "This purple with this particular yellow flattens out your piece, and I think you said you're going for more contrast." Then you're getting something more objective and something you can actually respond to.

Right, it's good stuff. Okay, so what can you do to receive critique? How can you prepare yourself for that?

Yeah, how can you internalize what's been said to you?

Right because you're going to get hit in the gut. I mean you're like, "Hit me." That's basically what you're saying, "Hit me hard, I can take it." So for me-

I think, go ahead.

No, go ahead.

I was just going to say if you go in, this is how I started working in watercolor years ago, and it changed everything for how your critiques of my work and all this is that I go in when I'm going to do a finished watercolor. Hopefully a great painting but oftentimes not. I go in thinking, "This is just a study," and that way it calms me down. It loosens me up and if I happen to hit it, awesome I'm done and if I don't hit it, then I say, "That was just a study." There's that bendable mindset changed everything for everything I do, even almost to the finish I've turned it in I say here's almost like a clay version, and we can still sculpt it.

If you go in with that bendable attitude that this thing can morph and it can change, and I don't mind working and doing stuff over, then all of a sudden it's not that punch in the gut. It's just changing, you expect it to change anyway and you're welcome, you're open to it the whole time. It makes a huge difference in doing finished art by the way. If you have that problem where you go to do your finished art, sketch is good, color study is good and then you tighten up and you're doing the finish, this will solve that probLem because everything is just a work in progress until you're moving onto the next piece, and it just frees you up quite a bit.

Hey Jake, when you were working at Blue Sky, how often did you guys get critiques on the stuff that you were doing?

Oh my gosh, that was the entire job. The whole thing was receive an assignment, do a pass at it, get critiqued. Do a pass at it, get critiqued. Sometimes 50 times, I've seen a character design go through 50 iterations before finally being approved and so that's all it was. It's like I think what you need to do is recognize, you know the old saying everybody has 1,000 bad drawings in them, or 10,000 bad drawings or 500 bad paintings, I don't know exactly what it is. You want to get through those as fast as you can, so if someone says, "This one isn't that good." You're like, "Sweet, I got one of those out of the way, I can do the next one." I think the reason that I didn't feel slighted at all by people saying they didn't like cover number two, versus cover number one was because all in all I probably spent 16 hours on it.

16 hours is nothing, you could do another 16 hours and do something a little bit better the next two days, or the next three days. 16 hours is nothing when you're having this point of view, when you have the perspective that you're going to be doing this for 20, 30, 40, 50 years. I've been working now for 19 years, almost 20 years in October as a professional. I've done thousands and thousands and thousands of finished polished drawings, and so if one isn't working, it just gets thrown into the bad drawing pile and I know there will be another drawing the next day. So it's like just, I think you just go into knowing this isn't the end of the world, this isn't the last drawing you're ever going to create.

So it's a volume. You basically have developed scabs, you develop and then muscles and ...

It's like worrying about the one brick as opposed to the entire wall that you're building.

Yeah, so I think if you ... One way to prepare yourself for the critique is to really ask yourself what you want. Do you want, are you happy with your current level of art? Do you want to stay there? This is what I want to ask some of my students sometimes is you're upset that you're being told the truth, and that everybody is telling you the same thing yet your really upset. So if you unpack it even further, you're upset at the fact that you have to change to become better, and I think sometimes how you frame it in your mind can actually really help if you can just surrender the process and say, "I'm here to get better and all of this work that I'm doing this year in a year or two, I'm not even going to care about anymore, because I'm going to be so much better."

Yeah, and don't get feedback from just one person. Look at the overall sentiment of what people are saying, like Jake said. There's going to be a lot of people that are respond in a certain way and if, maybe Will said it but the majority of people start saying something, you got to listen to it.

Yeah. Those really good and insightful, I said it.

Okay, that means Will definitely said it. Well yeah, this dude at school who was a 3D modeler and I don't teach 3D modeling obviously, but he was in my senior portfolio class and I had to look at his work. He did this piece that he worked on the entire senior year, and he never deviated from this one piece. If you guys are familiar with 3D work, it had like 10 billion polygons in it but he wanted to be a game designer. That means it's just overly complex for being a game designer, this character coming up out of this portal, it was his only thing and his whole thing. So my feedback was this thing looks too complicated, I'm not sure if ... I'm not an expert in modeling so please go talk to somebody else but it looks like you just got one thing and that's it.

If somebody, if a client doesn't respond to this one thing, then you're not going to get a job but he was so focused like Jake said, on the one brick instead of the wall. He just wanted to keep polishing that one piece, so he goes to the modeling teacher. Modeling teacher says the same thing, this is great but you can't use it in a movie or even in a game. Even in a movie, you can't use how many, how complicated this thing was. So there was like four teachers are having lunch one day and we started talking, we always talk about students work and stuff. This was an example, we all said the same exact thing to him and he never changed it. He graduates and I didn't see him for about a year and a half and he came back, and he was in tears. He hadn't got a single interview, he hadn't gotten anywhere from when he was in school.

He hadn't done anything and he's finally saying, "I'm ready to listen to what you guys are saying," because he just couldn't hear it. He was so micro focusing instead of getting this general thing like man, there's like five teachers telling me the same thing. That's probably a pretty valid thing.

When the student arrives, the teacher will appear right?

Yeah.

Exactly.

I created that quote.

That's a crit.

Can we finish up with talking about critique groups real quick?

Yeah, I would love that.

Sure.

Okay. So for those who have never even heard of a critique group, or who've never been a part of one, let's just talk about our experiences a little bit, and how they form and how to be a good member of a critique group, and maybe a few do's and don'ts. I'll go first. I've been in two different critique groups and they were both for writing. I was in one for illustrating but I was already working professionally and I didn't really feel like I needed the illustration one as much. Basically my suggestion would be to try to find in your area, I personally believe that it's better to meet in person if you can. You want to find three to five people who basically have the same goals that you do to become a published author, to become a published author illustrator, to become a published illustrator. Something as simple as that and that becomes your mission statement.

It's like one for all, all for one. You're going to help each other achieve this goal. Most critique groups that I've seen, they meet though sometimes they'll rotate and meet at different people's houses, and you plan on about an hour and you bring your work-in-progress. You basically share it with the group and the group gives you feedback. So that's basically in a nutshell the idea of a critique group. Have both of you guys been in critique groups before?

Yeah, I've done it before. I've been in a handful of critique groups, I'm currently I would say in a handful of critique groups though we don't call ourselves that. It's just I have different groups of friends that I can share stuff with, and they share stuff with me and it's a great experience because you do get that feedback. Though the hard part is finding that right chemistry because you want people to be honest, and you want people who you should feel like you're the least skilled person in the group. If they can't work that way, everybody has to be at the same level so it takes a little work and maybe you have to swap people in and out of your group or something, but I don't know how you do that without hurting feelings. Like you can't come anymore, your critiques are horrible.

We voted you out.

In person I've done online and they both work pretty well. One critique group didn't last very long because we just got busy, but one of them was we weren't all artists. We were all creative people but doing different things, so one guy was making T-shirts, I was making illustrated books. One guy was making a board game, and I just ... We organized that because we wanted to see if maybe mixing this group together could influence our own work in ways we weren't expecting. So you might want to try something like that.

How about you Lee?

I say the limit the number if you can, unless you're just posting images online. I'm part of a couple of Facebook groups where people just post images every now and again, and it's been so casual. It doesn't feel like a true critiquer group to me, and it almost feels like a cheerleading group a little bit more than a crit group.

That's what they evolve into sometimes if there's not, if they get too big. 

Yep, that's right.

Then it becomes unsafe to stick your neck out and say what you really think.

Exactly is that I would say limit it to, if you can three to four people would be tops. The reason I say that is because to do real critiques takes time, and if you're sitting there for four hours or something, you're not going to continue a critique group where you have that big of a bite out of your week or timeframe. So a couple of people, I think three is a perfect number for a critique group and then stay accountable to it. We had when I was in school, a weekly meeting that we would go to this cafe and it was I think probably five of us total in the group, but three of us met every time. It was such a great experience and we knew that Wednesday at 7:00, we're meeting at that cafe and you better have something to show, because you look lazy if you don't.

That accountability really worked out well, and I'm actually teaching it with one of those people that was in the group. Jaime Zollars was one of the people that I was with then, and she's a great pro in her own right now and we still have that relationship to be able to critique. So it's been a critique group now that's lasted 15 years for me.

I would say most I would venture to guess, because we've talked about this at conferences before that almost I would say probably greater than 80% of the published authors and illustrators are part of critique groups. So you could almost say it's a requirement for getting published. If you're not in one, it's like you're not part of the fire. You're off trying to light a flame on your own, and it's tough.

You know that just made me think of something. It's early in my career a group of us, young 20-something artists got together to make a comic book anthology, and what that required was us ... None of us were professional yet, as far as comics were concerned we were all either working in animation studio, or whatever it was. So we would all post our comics and give each other critique, because we wanted this anthology to be good. What I realize now is that it was never called a critique group but what it was, was this thing we're talking about where we gave each other time. We gave each other artists critiques, because we knew that the anthology was only as good as it's worse comic. 

So if we tried to elevate everybody in the book, then the book would be better and it was just super mutually beneficial. So maybe your critique group starts out something like that where it's like a group project, I don't know, you're going to have to be creative to figure out what works for you but maybe it's something like that where you all benefit from it. Then you could split it out and go off and do your personal things.

Was that called Zoo's book?

Yeah, it was the flight anthology.

Nice. So what are some bad behaviors? Obviously you've probably been in a group of people that do things that are irritants, what would be things not to do?

The people who speak up the most and then don't deliver on their own work drove me crazy.

So they don't show up with work?

They got something to say about everything. You have to earn the right to speak in my opinion.

I would just say taking too much without giving, and not showing respect to everyone. That could be a bad thing, it may be that one person in your critique group is a little bit of a star, maybe a little bit ahead of everybody and not giving the lesser people as much attention, or love, or appreciation is that person. So that might be something.

The lesser people?

Yeah.

Another one would be the person who's chronically late, there's nothing more annoying right? You want to start, it's not like you want to wait for these people but there ... Someone told me one time that being chronically late is the ultimate form of selfishness.

I think that was my wife, she said that about me. Though she actually one day she's like, "Okay Jake, I've made a decision and this is to just overall help our friendship and our marriage, and that is when I'm going somewhere, I'm just going to leave whether you're ready or not, and you can figure out your way to get there." I was like, "Wait, really?" The first few times she's like, "Bye, see you." I was like, "Just five more minutes, five more minutes," and she was gone. I got the hint and now I'm much more punctual.

You're chronically on time now?

Yes.

What's the backstory?

If you can somehow hit yourself to a person who makes you better-

Do it, do that thing.

It's just the best thing. I would be such a mess if it wasn't for her.

Also, don't be ... Back to critique group, don't be overly negative. What was that Saturday Night Live Kids where with the woman that's like always, Debbie Downer. Wasn't it Debbie Downer? 

Something like that.

Something like that anyway, so yeah I've been in a critique group where someone is just always brings ... Everything they see is negative, they don't see any of the good in any of the work.

Especially in their own work too, like don't be negative about your own stuff too. Have some pride and confidence in your work.

Isn't that why you use the Oreo technique for critiquing? You guys use that where it's you come in-

Is that the layer of love?

Top layer of love, middle layer of crit, bottom layer of love. So you finish with something good, you start with something good, give them something meaningful in the middle.

Also described as people skills.

I called it the Sandwich skill.

Oreos are better than sandwiches.

Right. My last piece of advice is when you're fighting with your spouse, or your boyfriend, or girlfriend, that is the absolute best time to get a critique from them.

Because they're going to be brutally honest.

Do not get in critique. I have something to say about your art, let me have at your soul right now.

you should just stop. Hey one other thing though, and this is I guess a forum of a critique group or whatnot, but if you're posting your art online and you're not getting any feedback from people, first off posting your art online is a great way to get feedback. People will be honest, so I would do that. In the event that you're not getting any feedback from people, that in itself is a critique. It means that your artwork isn't worthy of a comment. So do what you need to do to get people to comment on your work, do what you need to do with your art in order to make it remarkable. Someone to make a remark on it, and I would look to that if you're having trouble finding a critique group, making a critique group. I have access to professionals, you don't have access to a teacher or anything like that. Still post it online, post in forums, post on social media, and you can definitely gauge how you're doing by the public's response.

Can I add something to how to be a good critiquer?

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

That is understand, try to find just like you have to self evaluate with your own work that you're doing and you're creating, you have to self evaluate your ability as someone who's giving a critique. What that means is knowing your biases, knowing your tendencies. I have a natural bias against symmetrical work, I know that. If somebody shows me a layout, I already know that if it's symmetrical, they better get me on board in some way because I'm already against it. I don't know why.

What do you think of Wes Anderson? 

Somehow he pulls it off, I don't know what it is about the look that he does but there's something quirky about the way that he does. I actually paused a whole movie just going through it going, "Why do I like this," but when other people ... I think it because it's so intentional when he does it, and so well-designed that it's not a mistake. I mean it's like I said, very intentional. Same thing with the Shining and the twins in the hallway scenes, I love them. I think they're done so well but just as a general rule, like I said you got to sell me on it and those two really sold me on that symmetrical. So I'm on board 100%. 

I don't love anime and I've developed the ability through conscious hard work to be able to critique it, and not just instant gut reaction. I like it but it would be a great thing if somebody was trying to get a critique from me and they're showing me a truly anime inspired character for me to say, "I'm not the best person here, maybe somebody else would be better."

That's a really good point.

Maybe before you ask for critique, what are your likes and dislikes biases and stuff like that. Actually you should probably do a little bit of homework on the person you're asking for critique from. Like you wouldn't ask someone who doesn't paint what they think of your painting, you wouldn't ask a person who works solely in pen and ink what they think of your watercolor.

It doesn't mean that they can't do that, I love realistic painting. I don't do realistic painting anymore but I love it, and if somebody comes to me with a realist painting, I'd love giving those critiques. So don't-

I guess it depends on the kind of critique you're wanting. So if you're wanting how do I make this watercolor really pop? How do I make these colors look less muddy? Ask a watercolor artist but in the same breath, it's always nice to get someone who maybe isn't an artist but just an honest person to give you their gut reaction to your piece. So you'll get a lot of good critiques that way as well, and they might not be able to nail it, specifically say here's what's wrong. They'll just be like, "You know what? It is not working for me."

You guys should email my seven-year-old son and ask for critique, because he'll tell you exactly what he thinks with no training. It's what I tell him. When he tells me he doesn't like painting I'm like, "You don't know perspective."

You argue with a critiquer, that's funny. One last, last thing that I wanted to say.

How many more last things are we getting here?

Yeah, we're getting a lot.

[crosstalk 01:08:15]. I think we touched on it a little bit already, but I just want to say if you do feel like you're ... If you're really unsure about the direction but you respect the person, just because the person's high up that you're getting critique from doesn't necessarily mean they understand your complete vision. I was told by a former rep who I really respected that I should change my whole color palette, because they were and he actually gave me colors that were popular that year. This was before, I mean I definitely have an opinion. I'm laughing now because I have a definite opinion on following trends, at the time I was only like five or six years into my career, and I strongly considered it. 

I started asking other people like, "The rep is saying I should change my whole palette, and the colors are giving me are really neutralized and it just doesn't feel like me. What do you think?" I wasn't really getting good advice from other people and I was really at a quandary for quite a while. Finally, after sleeping on a few days I think I finally just said to ... I talked to my wife about it and I just said, "I need to stay true to my vision," and I'm so glad that I did. It would've been such bad advice for me to chase, instead of trying to follow my intuitions.

How's that different from the student at leaves school with the model, and four different teachers told him you got to change the model, and he just stuck to his vision.

At the end his day, we're talking about art. There are no right and wrong answers, right?

False.

We're finally going to disagree on something.

Here's the thing, if I'm going to disagree with that if you're getting okay, I guess here's what it is. If you wanted to get work that you're from that agent, a rep, and they're saying, "Listen, I can sell your work if it's these colors." Then that's a critique you want to listen to because you want to get work, but if your vision is you know what? I'm building a career, I'm not trying to make a paycheck this year. I'm not trying to ... I'm building an overall career and a body of work, then you can take or leave it. So I think definitely knowing what you're wanting out of the critique will depend on whether you take that critique or not, whether respond to it or not.

Also, is it a course of people saying the same thing? Again, that's just one person and one person doesn't matter, but if it was everybody saying that you'd probably pay attention.

Right which is like with again going back to my SkyHeart cover, two people are like, "I love it Jake, it's so good." 10 people are like, "You know what? I like the first one better Jake." It got to the point where at first I was like, "These people don't know what they're talking about. The new one's better." Then by the end of it I was like the people who liked the new one I was like, "These people don't know what they're talking about, I can't trust these people."

I have a sneaky suspicion that this is all one PR stunt for you, new Coke.

Explain new Coke.

For those who don't-

Some of us-

Yeah. So back in the 80s I believe-

Some of us weren't alive in the 80s.

Way back when they had-

Not on this podcast but-

We started having cars, the Coca-Cola came out with new coke. They were going to change the formula and everybody freaked out. So the speculation now is that it was all a PR stunt just to drive more.

To keep that, yeah. Then that's when they made coke classic and they just kept the same thing they were doing.

Exactly, and that's when they to endear the company to its customers of base. It was, we will give you what you want when the new Coke was never really going to happen anyway. That's the speculation.

My whole thing was make a new cover to get a conversation happening about my book.

Make a new crappy cover.

I wish I would have thought of that, I'm going to do that from now on.

I got to say, I don't know about you guys but the hardest critique for me to hear about my own work is that something I did a long time ago was better. Like this exact scenario you're talking about, because every time you do a new piece you want people to say, "Oh my gosh, you're getting so good. You're so much better." You want people to love the new piece, right?

Who likes taking a whole day or two, or a week of their time and just chucking it in the trash can?

Yeah, no one. No one. All right, let's wrap this up. Do you have one last thing Will?

Last, last thing is go, wrap it up Jake.

Okay, good. All right everybody, thank you for joining us. 3 Point Perspective is made possible by svslearn.com where becoming a great illustrator starts. Your hosts have been me, I'm Jake Parker and Will Terry, and Lee White. You can follow my work at mrjakeparker.com, you can follow Will Terry at willterry.com, right? Someone deleted this on my notes, so I'm just shooting from the hip here and leewhiteillustration.com is where you could find Lee White. If you liked this episode please share it around, subscribe to it on iTunes if you haven't subscribed to it yet, and leave a review. We love reading the reviews because they actually help us know how to make the podcast better. So when we see what you guys are responding to, we know what we need to do more of. When we see what people aren't responding to, maybe we understand what we shouldn't do as well.

You can critique us. 

Yes, give us a critique in the podcast. So yeah, we'd love to hear what you think. If you're wanting to join in on this particular discussion, log on to the svslearn.com forum where we've posted this episode in its own thread. Chime in over there and let us know your thoughts. As always, we'll have all of this in the show notes with links to the things we talked about. A lot of people are saying how much they loved the show notes, and that's just as much of or just they liked the show notes just as much as they like the podcast as well. So check out the show notes, those are either in the podcast app or svslearn.com podcast link on there and that's it. Thank you guys, we'll see you next time.

Nailed it, nailed it again.

That's good.

 

Episode 09: How Much Will I Make In Illustration?

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Art by Tanner Garlick

How much will you make in illustration? [2:06]

This is a question every student has, and the frustrating part is that it is often not discussed openly, or is just glossed over in school. Which, honestly, is a bit crazy! Some reasons for this may be that those who are teaching are making too little and are embarrassed to share that, or it may be that they are making a lot of money and don’t want to share that, because they are afraid of coming across as bragging. In this episode, we hope to cut through the fog of uncertainty and shed some real light on what the market is like and how much you can expect to make in illustration, in different fields, and in different stages of your career.

Making a life in illustration [4:09]

When speaking of how much you make in illustration and of the various fields of illustration we are are ultimately talking about different lifestyles. A children’s book illustrator gets paid differently than a concept artist at an animation studio; the same can be said for a gallery painter or an editorial artist, etc. Each comes with its own unique type of payment system and accompanying lifestyle. There are many different career paths and combinations of career paths and it is wise to consider the environment and the financial situations that come with each.

Responsibility to talk about the business side too [6:44]

Schools are put into a tricky situation, because they need to recruit students and promise them a great career but the topic of money can be glossed over because the schools can’t guarantee jobs coming out of school. Will finds it necessary to have a talk with about finances with his students in each of his classes, and each time the students tell him: no one else has ever talked to us about this!

Comfortable to talk about how much you make [7:45]

Money is this weird thing that sometimes people hold so close to their chest. And sometimes people are super secretive about it. It can be frustrating

If you have artistic ability, the gamut of jobs available go from freelance out of your home to working full time at an animation studio and everything in between. Jake has taught at Brigham Young University (BYU), and feels as if the animation department there does a good job at helping students create connections with studios; they fly studios out to help conduct portfolio reviews and recruit. They try to get their students lined up with jobs and internships.

The hard thing about Illustration is that it doesn’t have a central source providing all illustration jobs, it’s everywhere! You school could fly and editor out to talk to talk about publishing work but they can’t offer 5 years of work like an animation studio can.

It can be a challenge to keep consistent work right out of school but there are things that you can do to prepare and gear yourself up to have consistent work; you can start trying to line up work, and start developing relationships to prepare.

It can be frustrating when you have no one to talk to about the financial side of illustration but it really only takes talking with a few people to start to get a pretty good idea of what it is like. Hopefully, this podcast will be a good start for you in answering your questions.

6 factors that affect your income as an illustrator [12:26]

It can be tricky to nail it all down, and don’t feel bad if you don’t fit into these categories. We are just going to ballpark some numbers and hopefully you can go from there!

We’ll divide it up into 2 different categories with 3 different sub categories.

Three different income bracket

Early pro

Mid level pro

Pro, seasoned veteran

Skill level

Exceptional skill

Average skill

Below average skill

It is important to know which you are talking about because if you use a seasoned pro like Chris Van Allsburg as a guide vs a student fresh out of school, you will get very different numbers.

People like Chris and David Wiesner have won multiple Caldecotts and are definitely anomalies.

You also need to distinguish your skill level with your career because there are students who are getting work in school and have an absolutely exceptional skill level, and these guys are super successful right out of the gate.

Chris Van Allsburg

David Wiesner

Dan Santat

We’ll try and focus a lot on average skill level, because people like those described above are outliers, and people with below average skill aren’t really going to be getting a lot of jobs.

What you can expect from book publishing [17:23]

Early pro $8,000-$10,000 for advances

Mid level pro $20,000- $24,000

Pro $28,000- and up

Educational publishers won’t be higher than $10,000

Small publishers offer less [19:27]

There are smaller publishers and they don’t offer as much. This means you should really think about whether or not it’s worth your time to work with them, consider these questions:

Questions to ask yourself before you accept work [20:13]

  1. Does it pay well? [20:28]

  2. Is it creative or challenging and taking you in the direction you want to go? [20:36]

  3. Will the final finished work provide extraordinary exposure? [20:48]

Lee considers these three questions when taking publishing offers. Ideally the project will fulfill all 3 questions but if it fulfilled two out of the three Lee would consider accepting the work.

Senior level in book publishing [22:16]

As you begin to build traction and notoriety the figures start to increase. Book illustration and publishing are a long term investment. You can build a long term career with passive income.

A published book doesn’t necessarily lead to royalties [23:33]

Most childrens books don’t earn out. Consider that most books go out of print. Royalties are great when they do come but, a general rule of thumb you could adopt is to just assume that you won’t get any and seek for the best advance possible.

Quick publishing advance explanation [25:11]

Publisher gives you advances on royalties. So you don’t get any money on royalties until the royalties due to you cross the amount of your advance. The advance is really there to protect the artist and create incentives.

Publishers can estimate how much a book might make in royalties and they give that money up front.

It takes a lot of time to make a children’s book and you can look at this as high income short term rates and long term investments you need to think about this as a business.

What you can expect to make within entertainment and concept art [27:00]

There are so many options, such as: storyboarding, background art, background painting, concept art, etc.

Entertainment industry [28:29]

Main Industries

  1. Animation

  2. Video Games

  3. TV

  4. Live Action

Feature animation, and feature live action pay more but TV might last longer like ten years. Video games can fluctuate but depending on the studio they can have pay rates similar to feature animation.

Feature anything is considering those with top tear skill sets and you can anticipate $70,000 starting off but also consider the cost of living in the area where feature animation is i.e. California. Cost of living in California is very high and your income may not be able to sustain a life there.

One of the reasons schools don’t talk about money [32:12]

You need to understand the life that you are choosing because there is a lifespan to each project that you have. Movies are made within 3-4 years and the studios have the option to keep or not keep you.

You should treat each job like it is freelance and think of your options. The are highs and lows in the industry.

Benefits of working in the entertainment industry [34:35]

In the entertainment industry there are great perks to think about like benefits, bonuses, and retirement. You can work around peers that help you and push you to level up your craft. The exposure of working in the industry also opens up other doors. Working in a company there is lateral movement like storyboarding or production assistance.

Day rate for feature animation concept art [35:42]

There are also opportunities to do freelance for animation, video games, TV, advertising, etc.

The day rate is set by the studio or you can negotiate for it.

For animation, the max is about $500/day.

Think about your social needs  [36:35]

Are you social? Do you need to, or do you prefer to work on a team with people or to work more solitary? This is a factor you should consider with different career paths, some are inherently more sociable and some are inherently more solitary.

Puppet Sanding to doing what you want to do [39:02]

Lee said there is this joke that when people started at Laika, they would have to “pay their dues” and started off just sanding puppets, because someone had to, and then, after paying their dues they would move onto doing more art and creative projects. Sometimes you will do something you didn’t anticipate, and you may have to spend some time “paying your dues.”

What you can expect to make at art fairs, Comic Cons, etc. [39:56]

The estimated rates in one Comic Con:

Early pro- $500-$1200

Mid pro $1200- $5000

Seasoned pro $6000-$30000

Will Terry Youtube, Comic Con

Will, Lee, and Jake say that they could make a living off of just comic cons and art fairs but it would be a lot of work, and stress, and isn’t the lifestyle they want.

By using different sources of income, you can create a sturdy “financial table”. Each leg is a different source of income that you have contributing to holding up the table of your finances; such as: art fairs, book publishing, freelance. If one leg “fall out” or is not producing income then you still have others to rely on. Whereas, if you only have one source of income, then if it falls, you will be in a lot more financial trouble. It’s great to have multiple legs to make sure your table is steady and strong.

Working in one area or multiple areas [45:03]

There are two types of artist.

One, the artist that has reached a pinnacle in his or her career and and focuses in on one thing

Or two,  an artist that has to piece together different forms of income but still can make a living.

Steps to take if you want to get into Comic Cons and Art fairs [50:47]

  • Go to Comic Cons or art fairs

  • Do research and development

  • Understand setup and prints

You can go and talk to people running successful booths and ask them a question or two but don’t sit there and take all of their time. Also, as a rule of etiquette: never get in the way of a sale. Be polite, and you and they will have a great experience talking.

The Graphic Artists Guild Handbook: Pricing and Ethical Guidelines [52:40]

This book talks about how to quote but most artist don’t love the guidelines. This could be the starting book. Helps to have a ballpark of where the price range might be.

Find peers that you can go to chat about pricing.

Will’s YouTube on Pricing

What’s the best route for making a living as an illustrator? [58:31]

Have a day job that pays the bills first then you can transition into illustration. Think about the need in the industry and how applicable is your talent in the industry. Understand your target market, budget, and rights. Have a day job.

Make great art and also understand how things are sold.

Piper Thibodeau worked a corporate job and did art on the side before she was able to make the jump and be an artist full time.

Piper Thibodeau

What are some financial things freelancers forget to think about? [1:05:19]

Freelance artists need to understand that what you make is not what you get. Consider the amount amount your agent will take, taxes (30%), health insurance, investments, savings, etc.

Quicken Self Employed, is a great tool for freelancers!

Quick Overview: Dollar Cost Averaging [1:06:25]

If you make 1 dollar what happens to that one dollar? How much to you pay for your agent? Studio space? Taxes? Then you can start to calculate based off of how many costs eat into 1 dollar, how much you will need to make to be financially comfortable. 

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 08: Your Creative Bank Account

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What is The Creative Bank Account? We have mentioned it a lot in past episodes and it’s about time we talked about the source of all good ideas: what it is, how does it work and what are the best strategies for filling your personal creative bank account.

A creative bank account is something that everyone harbors in their own minds. It is creative capital and you spend this creative capital every time you make something. Creative capital fuels all creative work: poems, drawings, artwork, writing, etc.

We are unable to create in a vacuum or closed system. We need inspiration and stimulus from outside sources to fuel our creativity. That’s where the need for a creative bank account comes in.

Steve Jobs said that creativity is about connecting the dots.

Activity:
Begin by drawing two dots. Connect the dots.
Then draw another dot. Connect them again.
Draw ten dots. Connect them in any way.
What is the outcome? This illustrates how as ideas come together it helps to create something new. The more dots you have, the more creative options and combinations you can create!

Innovation and ideas occur at an exponential rate.
Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Innovation

What are the best ways  to fill a creative bank account?

Expose yourself and put yourself in the position to be around inspiration and creativity. Lee has just joined a collective studio that has bakers, architects, artists, and graphic designers under the same roof. It allows him to be around more creative energy than he would be at home or in an isolated studio space.

Become productive and creative anywhere [15:16]
It doesn’t matter where you are as long as you are “collecting your dots” and filling your bank account. The internet allows you to fill your creative bank account anywhere.

Indirect and direct experience, why you need both [16:19]
There are two sources of inspiration for your creative bank account:

  • Indirect Experience - Experiencing something through the filter of someone else i.e. film, music, movies, libraries and Pinterest. You are seeing and experiencing someone else's perspective. This allows you to be up to date and aware of what’s going on in the world around you.
  • Direct Experience - Personal experience i.e. travel & exploring.

Why you should visit the a real library [18:11]
Go to the library.
It physically gets you out of your space.
Libraries allow you to be exposed to material that you would not normally read or see.  

Going out into the real world [19:21]
Interact with the world around you. Venture to new parts of the city and new places you’ve never been. Undoubtedly, there will be something for your creative bank account.

Lee was having a really tough time feeling creative after several months of getting his house ready to put on the market, then he had this cool experience with with his son by randomly deciding to check out a comic book shop called Cosmic Money. He hasn’t really ever liked comics, but after going into the shop they found an amazing graphic novel that re-sparked his creativity.

Cosmic Monkey

The Lost Path

Get out into the world and experience life!


The benefits and opportunities of living in a boring place [23:46]
It really doesn't matter where you live. There are experiences in rural areas and experiences in cities that fill creative bank accounts. However, being able to interact with other people more can give you a lot more opportunities to fill your creative bank account. It’s all about being proactive.

Tips for increasing direct and indirect experiences [24:47]

Jake’s artist friend, Jake Wyatt, says to always be reading three books at one time:

  • Culturally required (classics such as To Kill a Mockingbird, Grapes of Wrath, etc.)
  • Culturally relevant (current books you hear about on NPR, top selling books, etc.)
  • Personally relevant to you (what are you interested in? Fantasy, history, etc.)

By reading three different books at the same time you will see different dots and find connections that you might not have seen if you were to read them one at a time.

Jake Wyatt

Artist dates [27:39]
Regularly set a date and set time aside to take yourself out on an artist date! Get out of your own space and normal habits to go to an art gallery, a museum, a bookstore, or out into nature. Go by yourself so you don’t have to filter your experience through someone else.

Direct experience to pursue [29:44]
To have direct experiences travel, explore, do community service, go to museums, etc. Community service allows you to change your outlook and puts you in contact with people or situations that are outside of your normal routine.

Visit Family [30:36]
Visiting family pushes you to be in contact with people that have different opinions and perspectives than you. You don’t know what will inspire you! Who knows, maybe your crazy Uncle Joe will inspire a new character.

Get out of your comfort zone [32:31]
Change the way you do things, like travel from place to place or where you create. Take a different route home. Surrender control by getting rides with family on vacation instead of renting a car. Change your mode of transportation.

Will says that changing your daily routine is a boost for your creative bank account. You don’t always see all the benefits of these experience all at once, but, if you are deliberate, over time you will notice the effects.

Three steps to take after the direct and indirect experiences [37:24]

  1. Share what you experienced. Talk to someone, write a blog post or journal about it, condense the experience to a phrase/ tweet.
  2. Take time to think. Will goes on bike rides or hikes almost daily. Jake and Lee like to run. Take time to listen to your thoughts. We spend so much time consuming that sometimes we don’t allow time to think and process.
  3. Keep a sketchbook or idea book. Jake started keeping one in the early years of his career and would write down any ideas he had. Looking back on it now, there are lots of dumb ideas but also lots of nuggets that help spark creativity in his art now.


The book, “Choose Yourself” says to write down 10 new ideas a day. Jake has tried it and it’s hard. It really stretches you. Try it out! Creativity is a muscle - the more you use it, the better you get at it. Some ideas will be really dumb and silly, but still write them down, the good ideas will come. You can write down ideas for art, for new places to walk your dog, for a business opportunity you think Amazon could take advantage of, etc. etc. You will become more creative!

Choose Yourself!

People with tons of ideas get published [44:31]
The more ideas you have the more you push yourself. Will relates this to children’s books. He has seen that people with lots of ideas rather than just one get published. You have to generate tons of material and then refine.

Be comfortable with changing course [47:00]
Changing courses is part of the creative process. You will see what things work and what things don’t work and change gears accordingly.

Sketchbooks [51:08]
Don’t allow your sketchbook to limit you. Students sometimes feel as as if a sketchbook needs to be perfect but Lee recommends calling it an idea book instead. Then you don’t have to feel pressure that each page has to look amazing, you can have lists and stick figures if you want!

Rapid Viz: A New Method for the Rapid Visualization of Ideas

IlLISTtration: Improvisational Lists and Drawing Assists to Spark Creativity

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 07: 10 Reasons I Won't Illustrate Your Children’s Book

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Art by Tanner Garlick

Art by Tanner Garlick

Every time we get an offer to do a book we feel super grateful and flattered that someone would want one of us to illustrate a book for them, but for many reasons we can’t say yes.

In this episode we get into the details of book publishing, including the economic, social, and career building reasons we take on certain book projects, and why we say no to others.

Here are Will’s 10 Reasons for why “I can’t illustrate your children’s book.” Some of them deal more with submitting a book with an author to a publisher or self publishing; they are all things to consider and reasons for why you may want to second guess saying yes to that lady you know who wants you to illustrate her book.

1. Bad Protocol [5:40]
This question, about, how to deal with people asking you to do their children’s book, is talked about often at SCWI.
The Most Asked Question: how do I find an illustrator?
Editor will tell the writer, you don’t need to find the illustrator, that’s our job.
They take pride in this, one of the publisher’s major roles is to find the right illustrator and match them with the right manuscript. They have resources and lots of connections to find the best match.

Some people jump to conclusions and think that just because someone can draw and someone has a children’s book idea that they should be paired to work together, without doing research beforehand to see if they would be a good match. You wouldn’t go around prescribing medication to people before learning what their symptoms are and so is the same with writing and illustrating children’s books.

Publishers don’t want to be in an awkward situation where they love the manuscript but they hate the art, then they have to tell you and it can be something they just would rather avoid.

They have more art and manuscripts than they can publish.

They oft times will dismiss you, just because you are filing jointly, and the art is already done. As with everything, there are exceptions.

There are many other reasons as to why they want to personally pair their artists and illustrators. They have marketing purposes, often they like to pair a more veteran author or illustrator with a newer author or illustrator. A new author with a new illustrator, or vice versa, is too much of a financial gamble.

As you have more experience and  become more well known you may have more power and influence on who you are paired up with.

The Little Snowplow

2. Industry Perception [13:35]
Another reason Will would be hesitant to file jointly with an amateur is that it may look bad or affect publishers’ perception of him.

Even doing lots of things on Kickstarter can look amateur.
This is something that may be frowned upon merely because it’s a little more new.

Sometimes there are books that get picked up by publishers that started on Kickstarter.

Even your online followers on social media has an influence on how much of an advance you are allotted.

One book that may be an exception to this :

Frankenstein: A Monstrous Parody


They filed their book jointly and then 3 different publishers got into a bidding war over it. However, this is different, because they were two pros working together. So it’s not really an exception. They can’t think of an example of two amateurs who got a book published together that did super well.


3. I Don’t Know You [19:10]
When an illustrator gets contacted to help with a book, the manuscript has gone through a lot of rewrites. This is hard work and takes a thick skin.

However, if you contact Will, he doesn’t know who you are and what you are like.
Manuscripts always have rewrites and iterations.

It often is a big task and can be tricky to figure out how to make edits and changes. And if they don’t know you, they don’t know if you are up to that task.


4. Award Submissions [22:32]
This is not super well known:
Publishers, at their own cost submit books for awards. I.e. the Caldecott, the Dr. Suess award, state awards, etc.

It is a lot of work, they have to fill out all of the paper work and ship a couple hundred books to the right person at the right time.

Getting these awards is what helps the book take off. It gets more publicity, and starts to get bought and recommended by librarians.
This is more for self publishing but is another reason that Will wouldn’t want to illustrate a book with an amateur.

Will has received 5-6 state awards. Jake has received a state reward. Lee received an ALA Award for a "I Lived On Butterfly Hill." And it made a huge difference.

I Lived On Butterfly Hill

5. Reviews [27:06]
Publishers have connections to get books reviewed. Which gets it on people’s radar.
This is why I wouldn’t want to illustrate someone’s self published book. This doesn’t mean that a self published book can’t

6. Opportunity Cost [28:13]
If you say yes to this children’s book is saying no to something else.
It takes months to finish a children’s book and in the end there might not be much
Average time to complete a children’s book: 6 Months. Jake, Lee, and Will can get a book done in less time but this is a good place to start.

If You’re Going to Partner or Work With Anyone, Be Clear About Who Owns the Rights to the Work. [33:16]

You need to go in with your eyes wide open.
Lee had an idea for a book that he brought an author on to help him write the story. He knew what the story was and was struggling with the words. So he brought this very very well known artist on. His assumption was that they would co-write the book and he would do the artwork. Her assumption, however, was that she was now the author and owned all the content, and that he was someone now illustrating her story. Long story short, It didn’t work out.

For any joint venture: have a clear expectation and maybe even a conference maybe even for a critique group. To protect yourself and them as well.

Ideas are not “copyright able.”

Be careful and go in with your eyes wide open.

7. Professional Production [38:24]
Honestly, if it’s the authors first time doing this, they don’t know what they are doing. And that can be another red flag as to why you shouldn’t do their children’s book.

Authors usually don’t know how to art direct and don’t have the skills to give art direction.

Lee’s Story:
Lee decided to help illustrate a self published book and he did some character sketches and showed them to the author. One of them was a anthropomorphic cow, and the lady said, “My mom would never wear that.” And then got into how the cow represented her mom and how it needed to look like her. Lee saw that there was all sorts of subtle things things like this and took it as a warning to get out of there and not do the book. Because it would be very hard to work with this author as an art director when they didn’t know what was important or how to art direct.

Then there are a whole bunch of things in the production side of things. Margins and type, etc.

Will will get these short emails from people telling him that they like his work and asking him if he will illustrate their book for them. And he wonders where their business proposal is.

8. Royalties [43:13]
In creating all the art for the book, the author and illustrator are creating intellectual property (IP.) And if the book takes off and becomes a big selling book, or a TV show, or a cartoon, or a movie, then the illustrator wants to go along for the ride and make money off of all of the things their IP is used for.

It’s hard to have a long career as an illustrator living off of just the advances received, you want to be getting royalties as well. You want to see books stick and generate royalties and income for the long term.

Lee was complaining about his small royalty check ($13), hoping to have company in misery. Then David Hohn told him how much his check was (4-5 figures) and Lee was blown away by how much he had made.

God Gave Us Christmas


Then there are the Brett Helquists who have funded their own retirement and their kids retirement off of all he royalties he’s made through the A Series of Unfortunate Events books.

With self publishing there is a trust issue as to, how are you going to track sales and royalties. The publishers now have an online portal where you can login and monitor your book’s sales.


9. Distribution [46:53]
This is a lot of work and for Will, Lee, and Jake something they have all dealt with doing their Kickstarters.
Thousands of books take up space. They have had their basements and garages filled with books. Lee’s shipment of books was 2500 pounds, he literally had a ton of books. Now Lee and Jake have storage units to keep all their books. And 2-3 thousand books isn’t even a huge amount.

Jeff Smith, while self publishing “Bone”, ended up buying the house next door to house all of his book inventory.

Distribution is a ton of work! (no pun intended.)

Self Publishing authors are not distributors. They don’t have relationships with distributors. And so that’s one more downside.

One other side note:
Foreign rights. Lee has had books go into Korean, Japanese, and Chinese. Publishers know how to distribute in those markets.

10. Money [49:50]
People may think, “oh it’s just $500,” and don’t realize how much an illustrator needs to make from illustrating a book.

Will asks Lee and Jake to name their price, to do a self published book with a terrible manuscript.

Lee often gets 30K+ advances, Will is a little under that, and Jake has gotten both under and higher than that.

An advance is money publishers pay you in advance against the royalties. So you get money when you sign the contract, and then when you turn in sketches, and then when you submit the final work (1/3, 1/3, 1/3; or 1/2, 1/2). Then you don’t get money on royalties until that amount is reached, on what you would have got?from royalties if there wasn’t an advance, then once you reach that point, you start to make money off of royalties.

And Lee said he would do a self published book for $50,000 (and that is if he liked he book). Lee would charge this much because of opportunity costs, where
If he didn’t like it, they would have to pay up in the 6-figures range.

This conversation could be misconstrued to be three ar

Part of the problem is perpetuated with the publisher. Because there are some books like “Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus” that are super successful with very simple drawings, and so people think that anyone could do something like that and it would be easy.

What about for a family friend?

Jake might help illustrate a book for a family friend, but it wouldn’t be as detailed or
Will and Lee are against illustrating for a family member or friend.
You should love the project, and really like it.
When you set up your agreement, because you will set up a contract of course, make sure you don’t
They probably won’t pay you a ton. Go ahead and set up a big royalty. Do

How to answer this question, “Can you recommend someone?” [1:00:06]

That’s a hard question because you might not know what they want, or what they

Lee has a new technique for saying no to these offers. And one of the things he has learned is that you don’t always have to respond to every email.
Maybe for a high school student it could work out.

Neil Gaiman graduation commencement

He sees his goals and aspirations as a mountain in the distance, and as long as your going there then you are doing something good.
Make great art.
It might be different if you are in college or based on your circumstances.

Honestly, it comes down to: does it fit your needs, or does it point you in the right direction. Another thing is if you really feel that this will be something that will help someone, you can.

The reason creating art you don’t want to make is because your mind can’t escape it.

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 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

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 05: Should You Do Fan Art?

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unnamed.jpg

Artwork by Tanner Garlick

Today we tackle the subject of fan art. We discuss what it is, what it isn't, whether or not you should do it, and the legality of it. 

We definitely are of three minds on this one so get ready for some arguing!

Legal statement:

Will, Jake, and Lee are not lawyers and this is not legal advice. However, they have experience, thoughts and options on the topic of fan art.

If you are looking for real legal counsel, speak to a lawyer that specializes with Intellectual Property (IP).

What is fan art? [3:00]

Jake’s definition: Any drawing or illustration by a fan of a character or IP that is owned by another company or person.

What if someone did fan art and it become successful and gets traction on a social media platform i.e. Reddit?

Give credit where credit towards that artist or to whoever owns the IP.

In reality the fan art topic is more directed towards taking IPs that have great popularity already.

There are these massive IPs like Marvel, DC Comics, Doctor Who, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, etc. There are lots of people at conventions and online who are selling prints and merchandise using these IPs. So the question is, “should you do fan art of these IPs?” and “should you sell it?”

Fan art comes in 4 Categories: [10:50]

Derivative Work: something that you draw which is pretty much based on the character, your version of the character. The character in your style.

Parody: focused on the humor aspect, doing something funny with the character, needs

Plagiarism: creating a copy, or using actual artwork and reprinting it (reprint on paper or a t-shirt)

Transformative Work: take something that was created and transforming it into something new. i.e. A book review, a drawing of something that hasn't been visualized

What is the actual legality of it? Where is the line? [13:28]

Hard Line: if you don’t own the character, you need to be careful with the IP. It is illegal.

Grey Line: If the company or person who owns the character will care, prosecute, or send a cease and desist.

Jake’s thoughts [14:00]

If you have a piece of original art, that you created, on a physical piece of paper, you can sell it. That piece is a one-off the original.

However, prints and t-shirts become more grey area. You have created a derivative that the company hasn’t created. Ultimately, using another IP but if it became a parody in some way than it is in a “safer” zone i.e. SNL, parody, t-shirt or print.

If it has a strong point of view or a strong stylistic design, that couldn’t be mistaken for a licensed work then it’s a better situation to be in BUT best practice is to contact the copyright owner and ask for permission or to buy a license for the IP you want to use.

Sometimes larger companies are hard to get ahold of and request legal use of the IP. It is not in the companies economic interest to pursue legal action such as Jake Parker’s Iron Giant prints.

Jake Parker Iron Giant Print

It is hard to say what is going to happen if you do fan art. There are instances that artist received cease and desist and there are also instances where the owner of the IP likes the fan art and wants to purchase the IP for it.

Lee’s thoughts: [18:03]

It is very clear who owns the IP of certain art.

The grey line starts to work against you once dollars start to get involved- if you start to actually make money off of the art that could go against you. If you just gave away your art it wouldn't be an issue.

Lee clarifies Transformative art- There was a case where a photograph was used to created a sculpture (that was very close) and this case was not deemed illegal for the photography.

Fan art opens up problems and developing the mindset “I can grab what I want to”. Limits the artist and builds false notoriety and is illegal. The question is whether you will be prosecuted or not. And ultimately, if it’s not a parody it is illegal.

Another point to look at is: how much of the project or work is under a copyright? If you take out the copyright work, how much of your project is left over? Does the art still stand if the copied images are taken out.

Example: Jake's sketchbooks.

Jake Parker’s art books

WIll’s thoughts: [22:58]

There are forms of fan art that art legal and it depends on the degree in which you recreate the IP. Some fan art is definitely not original and  pure plagiarism but there are IPs that have been exaggerated and are protected under law.

Dominic Glover (started illegitimate and became legitimate)

Totally Legal Fanart video

Campbell v. Acuff-Rose Music, Inc.- Parody in a court of law recreating “Pretty woman walking down the street”. Campbell won because they were appealing to different audiences.

Wills 5 degrees of fanart [32:00] (From bad to good)

A pure copy

Copy reference but they change the style i.e. watercolor- Rendering has changed

Come up with New original pose, and in your own

Your own pose, style, and add a concept or something completely different i.e. Will creates known characters into children

Completely original pose, style, environment, and genre.

Every single thing has changed.

Why not create you own thing? [36:00]

Will- It’s rewarding aspect to recreated two ideas but there are pitfalls if not careful. Sometimes artist become reliant on fan art. Do it for the right reasons. You can ask- Do i do it for the love or doing it for financial gain?

Jed Henry is an example of creating “level 5” fanart. It is original and merges the IP and Henry’s style and vision.

Jed Henry’s Ukiyo-e Heroes

Could someone young make fanart and avoid these pitfalls? [45:30]

Often times fan art is done for economical reasons and to gain tractions. However, young artists need to be mindful. Don’t lean on fanart. Doing fanart allows for great exposure but shouldn’t be that bulk of your work. Fanart can also be an interesting exercise as an artist to grow and learn.

Consider WIll’s 5 step evaluations. How much did you change it? Are you selling it? How close to the line are you? The closer you get to the line, the more you are going across the ethical and legal boundary.

Do the fanart to learn, get exposure and sometimes to get work but don’t let it be you main thing. Maybe for every fanart piece you do, do 5 original personal pieces. Don’t sell you soul to fan art.

Jake found another artist’s list that puts your fanart at risk [51:00]

Kirawara Fan Art Risk List:

Used original logo

Makes it tasteless, sexual, or slanderous

Little or no difference

Does not have a parody or influence of parody

If you sell a high number of prints or commission

If it caters to the same market as the copyright owner i.e. Marvel prints don’t exist

As an official (career) Marvel artist, you can sell prints and consider them official Marvel art prints. It helps to supplement those artists income. Other artist eat into this market- a thing to consider.

Another “pro” fan art point [55:00]

In the end, it’s still illegal, but it help keeps the popularity of the IP alive. Whether or not you get in trouble for it is entirely up to the IP owner.

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

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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 03: Ship Happens

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Artwork by  Tanner Garlick

Artwork by Tanner Garlick

Today we talk about one of the main things that separates the pros from the amateurs: Having the ability to not just come up with the idea of a project, but to carry that idea all the way through to the actual production and shipping of it.

In this episode we cover what it means to "ship" something. We share stories from our own careers, and discuss ways to go from an creator who isn't producing to one who is consistently putting out actual tangible things into the world. We talk about how to overcome the obstacles preventing you from shipping. 

And Jake ends the podcast with his 10 item list on how to take a project from start to finish.

Links:

Merlin Man Podcast
Linchpin
Finished Not Perfect
Jake's Traveler’s Print
Draw 100 Somethings Challenge
Shoe Dog

Podcast production and editing by Aaron Dowd.

Show notes by Tanner Garlick


Ship Happens

Today it is all about shipping something and getting it out into the world.

Often we talk about what the difference is between a professional and an amateur, the art is one difference, but another difference is professionals "ship."

Link: Merlin Man Podcast

When people are successful, one big hallmark of that success is that they actually ship things, which means that they finish things. They don't just finish things and keep it in their house but they share it with others, they ship it.

Link: Seth Godin, Linchpin

Make sure you don’t just start a project and let it fizzle, don’t start one after another and let them fizzle. 

Look at all of your artistic heroes under the lens of finishing things and shipping things, what you find is a constant project based mentality. Where their projects go further than they do, they have to figure out how to publish it, and look at who it is going to go to.

Lee’s Story:

After school, Lee needed to try and get work, so he did the postcard thing. His idea was to create and send out 6 postcards a year, to 600 clients. He sent the first card out, and nothing happened, then he sent the second, and the third... and he was getting no responses.

However, his goal was just to get those cards sent out, they had to get out into the world. He decided that he was going to go on a trip to New York and he felt that he needed to have have something more substantial than a postcard to give to publishers so he made these really nice custom build books and custom mailers and sent them to 21 dream clients. 13 of them had him in for an interview.

Earlier he felt like he was just sending his postcards out into the void and was seeing no results, however, as he went around to meet with different publishers he noticed that a lot of the publishers had his postcard on their wall.  Some of those publishers, he is just now starting to work with. There was lots of stuff happening behind the scenes that he didn't know about. All of it came from him shipping things out..

Lee finished college where I was drawing and painting all the time. Then felt that after he was now just creating stuff to ship out. The shipping paid off.

The Power of a physical object

Jake been to every publisher and to Chronicle, he's been to all their meetings, and he can attest that their walls are full of postcards.

One of the art directors told him, speaking of the postcards on the walls, “I don’t know if I’ll work with them, but I want to remember them, and I hope that our paths will cross.”

Sometimes we think we need a broad audience and that we need to get our work out there onto the inter web, but sometimes something tangible for a small audience can be just as powerful as something digital to a huge audience.

This was evidence to him of the power of physical objects.

There is no guarantee of anything. It almost always costs more than what you might have anticipated. It’s terrifying putting yourself out there, you might be scared of failure.

You might have thoughts or hear people say, “who do you think you are?”

Will's Story: after finishing school he was planning on doing the postcard thing. His dad was doubtful and said “What are you gonna do? Send postcards to people? Without a cover letter? How will they know what it is for?" Despite his Dad's skepticism, he sent out postcards. It worked! He came home one day and his Dad was excited because there was a fax from Psychology Today wanting him to do work for him.

It's very powerful when you ship something out into the world. If you haven't sent anything out, you might be wondering if it will pay off, and you don't know. But once it is out there it is moving and there is this serendipity that Lee has faith in now that good things will happen when you put your work out there.

While there is not guarantee that you'll get work or that it will pay off the way you want it to, there is a guarantee, that if you get your work shipped out, you will learn things from doing this! Sometimes the value you want isn't going to be the value you get. Sometimes the value is the failure. Value in learning.

Even putting your work out there digitally in a finished way i.e. creating a website, is valuable.

Personal Takeaways

Jake- never sent out postcards. Was going into animation and had an agent pounding the pavement to get him comic and illustration work.

However, he had his first Missile Mouse Comic book. He made it at the copy center. And had to fold all of the 8.5 x 11 sheets, and get them all in the right order. It was a pain. He made a bunch of these "ashcan" booklets, and took a bunch of them to San Diego Comic Con in 2001 and started to hand them out to his art heroes. He gave one to Jeff Smith, the creator of Bone who was really excited and introduced Jake to Bob Shrek, the editor in chief at DC Comics. None of that panned out into anything but it gave him tons of confidence in his abilities, and led him to find other comic book artists at his same level, and they ended up making their own 

Beginning of this Journey, and really the first step for me realizing my potential as a creator. It never would have happened if I didn’t finish that first book and have something tangible that I could hand to another person that they can handle and pass it along.

Link: Finished Not Perfect

Link: Jake's Traveler’s Print

Jake's Goal for each piece: give it 3 lives. 

For example, you could create a process video, there's the finished piece, it could be scanned into book, made into a print, or into a postcard. All this artwork has mini lives, you can even sell the original. Don’t just let a piece of art live and die in one version, it should live on in many version.

Lee, has been entering into art fairs for about 5 years now. Then did his first one and all of his work sold really well, and he was doing prints, Lee then decided to find a way to sell the originals. Now when I make an image, I make it with a standardized frame size. 

Another important thing he learned from comic and moving forward. 

Jake, learned the value of letting something be finished, rather than trail off forever. Never being finished, always trying to find a perfection to it, rather have something tangible, that can be held, downloaded or a finished website, or in other words:

Whatever finished is you need to get it to that point. Another word for finished is shipped. You can't ship something if you haven't finished it.

You’ve got to get it to a finished state, what things to let go of, what things to hold on to to make it seem finished.

Lee always finishes things: has a way of working that applies well with his personality and is fairly fast.

Jake has a number of Projects not finished: i.e. Lord Balderben and the Infinicorn of Destiny. Started adding comic pages in between. So he put it on the back burner to work on another. It’s okay to not finish a project as long as you don’t make that what you do with all projects. 

You learn from things, even things like typography, and shipping. You learn about practical concerns. Lee realized that his books that were printed in China were coming to him on a boat and weighed 3000 pounds and he realized he didn't have anywhere for them. You really learn a process outside of the illustration process.

Obstacles

Not having an end product in mind. Jake did the Draw 100 Somethings Challenge, which pushes you to do something you aren’t familiar with, and pushes your creativity. He ended up drawing 200 somethings and then... that was it. Jake Realized, since that project, what’s the point of doing a project, besides getting better, if you don't have anything for the project to do, it isn’t helping you or another.

Begin with some sort of physical object in mind, so you know you aren’t done until that thing exists.

Want to maximize time, and get the most use and benefit from art.

Fine Artist- The creator makes something and it doesn’t matter if anyone gets anything out of it.As long as you appreciate your work, that’s good enough.

Illustrator- need to express something to someone else, a story or an idea, not as satisfied if you don’t get to express it something for someone else.

You need to train yourself to “ship”, need to start small.

If you have an idea, try it out, don’t just talk, walk the walk.

You have to decide to do it and start.

One key element: get used to the idea of “clumsy beginnings.”

It all looks clear in hindsight.

When you start it out, it’s really clumsy, you don’t know what the details are.

It starts as a big clumsy mess, then you start figuring out problems, 1 by 1 by 1.

They start with grabbing this thing, and this thing, you just go through and answer quetions.

Will starts to do something and then realize what he should have done. The more you age, the more creating, the more shipping you do, the more thoughtful, careful, and methodical.

Be a doer, a starter, a finisher.

Little book, wasn’t anticipating such a

People get paralyzed, Didn’t start with the small stuff, caught up in the “I can’t” Thinking mindset.

Finished Project: Jake starts with the end in mind, starts on making the thing, and the little things.

2-3 days making the logo.

What makes me excited about the shop 

Link: Shoe Dog- wants to make a really good shoe and make it as good as it can be, forgot to figure out name and logo.

People lose way by focusing on things that don’t matter too much and forget to focus on the meat, the important things.

Lee likes to do thumbnails, then a finished piece.

If lots of people are expecting to see it, then you will produce a lot more. Positive Pure Pressure. Good technique: have other people expecting it, develop Accountability.

Kickstarter is great- accountability, timeline, parameters.

One of the best things is Will’s Kickstarter failing. Hit self on the head with a new hammer, learn that way. 

People will click “LIKE” all day, if you can’t get 1000 likes, then you won’t get 1000 people to give you a dollar.

Then on second try, really did homework, asked questions, 

You’ve got to start small, and have failures, you learn the lessons along the way.

We have amazing projects within us, and we don’t even know what they are yet.

Do what you need to do to coax those projects out of you.

10 Item List: How to take a project from start to finish:

  1. Choose Wisely: you have got to have an interest in it, a motivition. Is it something that people want? Do research in it, is there interest in it? You and Others?
  2. Resource Planning: Figure out how much time it’s going to to take to make it? Figure out how much money you’ll have to put into it? Figure out supplies, physical resources? Plan out key tasks: creation, design, putting it together, figure out who you need to work with. Plan it out, how long it will take, how long you can spend each day, how long timeline will be. Then put schedule on calendar.
  3. Create a Progress Sheet or Schedule.
  4. Announce it! Tell friends, social media, etc. “This is the thing I’m working on”
  5. Finished Not Perfect: at every step, how do I get this to a finished thing, not too hung up on perfecting everything, you’ll learn more by getting it out of your system than perpetually perfecting.
  6. Share progress, how did you have idea, what you’re working on now, show work, what you did this week, what inspired you to do that? You’ll build an audience.
  7. Stay on Target: Always keep a vision of the finished product. Why you started? Keep in mind what that thing is, so you don’t waste time in the weeds.
  8. Unlock Achievements: reward self for accomplishments.
  9. Have Fun! If you aren’t finding fun in it, and it’s just drudgery you are doing something wrong, doesn’t 
  10. You can hit eject at any time. Give yourself option to be able to pivot and do something else.

Lee wishes he had 10 things told to him, when he was in school.

Nobody will pay you more than yourself.

Own your own IP, Business, Something, is so valuable.

 

CURRENT PROJECTS

Jake: Skyheart Update: still working on the coloring. Learning to attack a scene all at the same time. Speeds up working time, 10 pages an afternoon. 36 pages left to color.

Will: Textbook project complete. Will is working with a Hero Illustrator on a class for SVS, it’s amazing to be able to work with somebody whose work he was looking up to for so long. Really excited to announce it. 

Lee: Still working on Children’s Book, rough sketches are done, big aha moments are not as frequent for illustration, but they happen whenever someone tells him something about writing, he had a big aha moment with writing. Show not tell, make them feel it, not just tell.

“Nico was nervous.” Tell. “Nico got a knot in his stomach, and his breathing tensed.” Show. 

Now trying to go through manuscript and make it.

You can also show things in pictures that aren’t even mentioned in words that complement text.

 

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 02: Am I Too Old to Get Started?

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Podcast_002.jpg

Many people wonder, is it too late? Or, am I too old to start?

Will, Lee, and Jake talk about this age old question and discuss how it isn’t too late. There are many successful creatives that didn’t start until they were older. Lee shares his story and how he didn’t start art until later on in life.

We talk about ways you can amp up and make the most of your early years if you are starting for the first time, or looking to accelerate your growth later in life. We discuss some of the benefits of age and the need for sacrifice and prioritizing to create a thriving career in art.

Links:

Podcast production and editing by Aaron Dowd.

Show notes by Tanner Garlick


Am I Too Old to Get Started?

Am I too old to shift careers? Am I too old to start as an artist? Am I too old to start this big project I’ve always wanted to start working on?

What’s the average age to start working? If you grew up with an interest in art, drew all the time, and went to art school then most people start their art career maybe in their mid-twenties. Often people who get to art a little later in the game wonder, “Am I too old to do this?” Young people think, “When am I going to get that job?”

Regardless of your age, you are probably comparing yourself to people older and younger than you, and wishing you had done something different when you were younger or feeling like you are so far behind.

Examples of Successful Late Starters

Sang Jun. https://www.sangjunart.com/

Didn’t start drawing until he was well into his twenties. Realized he loved drawing, and started practicing, went to art school, ended up getting a job at Lucas Film doing character design for Episode 3, and then became a lead character designer at Blue Sky. You don’t have to start in your late teens to make it.

Lee White. https://www.leewhiteillustration.com/

Didn’t draw in twenties, or teens. Wasn’t interested until he was in his thirties and started drawing. Applied to Art Center of Design and got accepted with a scholarship, moved to LA, and graduated when he was 33. Then started getting his first books when he was in his mid-thirties, and that’s not the end, it’s just an on going thing.

Miyazaki, the Walt Disney of Japan, in animation all throughout career until 40. That’s when he decided to start his own animation studio. He did a graphic novel at age 40 for Nausica that he wanted to make into a feature film, all of his great movies were done in his post 40’s.

At age 40, you still have 25 years till most people retire, that’s a long time!

You really don’t ever have to retire.

Art isn’t like playing football, it’s not hard on your bones.

Zombies video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ngZ0K3lWKRc

As You Mature, Your Art Matures

Greg Manchess was winning awards and competitions for years, and he came out to do a lecture, he had just done the cover for “Above the Timberline.“ Speaking of that painting he said, “10 years ago I could not have painted this” even though 10 years ago he was winning awards for the Society of Illustrators, etc.

If you really are serious about being an artist and creating the best art you are capable of creating, you have to make it a lifelong goal. It’s not a sprint.

You need a schedule for yourself. You need to have an actual goal, something to look forward to. Without it, nothing happens.

Don’t judge results by if you are right on target.

Say, you’re 35. 5 years will pass whether you like it or not. You’re gonna be 40 at some point. Wouldn’t you rather have done something interesting with those 5 years between 35 and 40, or and tried to do this thing? If time passes anyways, you might as well do it.

If you are starting later, you won’t be creating the same work that you would if you had started younger. You have had so many life experiences: losing jobs, family, work, etc.

Beauty of age, experience, which leads to more informed art.

If you’re older, you’ve figured out how to work and developed a good work ethic. You don’t quit until the job is done. Broader perspective, more interested in learning than instant gratification.

Gina Jane- was a student going back to school. She turned in some of the best projects in the class, she had done a lot of graphic design stuff but hadn’t been drawing for a while. However, she had the work ethic, and she worked so hard at applying what she was being taught. She easily turned in some of the best pieces in the class.

You can accelerate your learning with your experiences. Older students are more okay learning something without instant gratification.

i.e. learning perspective, having a more broad perspective and being more willing to learn.

Battle Plan

For someone starting at, let’s say, 35-36..

Phase 1 or Year 1:

  • Draw for 2 hours a day.
  • Enroll in an online school, SVSlearn, schoolism, CGMA.
  • Learn the Fundamentals: Perspective,  Light and Shadow, Figure Drawing, Composition, Color, how to use Line/shape/tone
  • Fill 6-7 100 page sketchbooks, during your 2 hours a day.
    Work on hands, head, the figure, landscape, perspective, shading, this is your your sandbox for practicing and applying what you are learning.
  • Pick 5 of your favorite artist, do 20 copies from each of these 5 artists. Each copy, you will learn so much from trying to deconstruct what these artists have done. You want to learn how that artist did it.
  • You’re gonna fail with some of them, but you try and learn from the masters by copying their work.
    Depending on what your goal is, it might change your approach.
    Jon Klassen. Does a lot more simple graphic design type work. http://jonklassen.tumblr.com/
    Craig Mullins. Studied industrial design. He didn’t like the industrial design look. Then he went back to school and did illustration. http://www.goodbrush.com/
  • Seek advice from a professional: "these are my goals, what should I do?"
    Sometimes students want to become a children’s book illustrator but don’t really know any illustrators.
  • During this first year, you need to educate yourself on this field.
    If it’s children’s books, every week maybe read 5 a week.
    If it’s comics, know what’s in comics, not just 20 years ago, but what is happening now.
    Fill your creative bank account with what people in the industry are doing.
  • State your goal publicly: and then share your progress on the social media platform.

    That’s your Phase 1/ Year 1, it might take 2-3 years.

Phase 2: Build Your Portfolio

  • Draw 4 hours a day

  • Intermediate classes, these online schools, and svs have more advanced classes. More one on one with teachers.

  • 4 sketchbooks this year, not studies, concept art for portfolio.

Illustrator: ideas for illustrations or childrens books
Comic artist: ideas for characters, your take on Wolverine, etc.

  • Complete the Draw 100 Somethings Challenge: boats, trees, flowers, gummy robots, dinosaurs, robots, etc. Teaches you to not be satisfied with first 2-3, or 20 designs. Teaches you that true creativity comes after you have drained all the low hanging fruit. Jake did 200. Just to prove that there is no end to the ideas you can do.

100 Somethings, Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xxa01j9Ns7o

  • Continue Studying. If you’re aspiring to do childrens books- keep studying children’s books. concept artist or animator-reading every word in the “Art Of” books. Comics, keep studying comic books.

  • Social Media- post your 100 somethings. Post your sketchbook studies. Can start growing a following, cause you aren’t just practicing but sharing your own unique ideas and what you are bringing to this field you are entering.

  • Choose your heroes. Educate yourself on what you want to do. i.e. children’s books, comics, animation.

  • Post regularly, share your work, journal chart progress, share what you’re learning.

  • Keep Studying
     
  • Start to pay attention to stories. At the end of the day this is what will separate you. See what the story is about, not just the details, separate that.
    Eventually everyone will be able to draw and paint, and story is what will separate you.

Ultimately, Star Wars is all about a family. It’s a family drama, that’s what it is about. Be able to see the broader view, what’s the story about, and how did they tell that story. You can really get some great insights to storytelling, story building, and how to tell your own stories.

You don’t want to just be a vapid artist who isn’t saying anything.

Key: Ultimately, it is your stories that you tell that will separate you from the others.  Be observant of stories in your life and all around you. What the story is all about, what is the broader view? How did they tell the story. Look at it separate from the details.

They’re not saying anything, or they’re saying the same thing that has always been said.

  • Be conscious of the style that you are developing.

See "Uncovering your Style", https://courses.svslearn.com/courses/uncovering-your-style

Phase 3: Make a Product.

  • Kickstart and Create your comic, illustrate your book, concept out your idea. Create something that works for you.

Reasons:

  1. Teaches you to Start and Finish a project.An actual product, suggests a finality to the project. Not just a project. Finished not perfect.

  2. Learn Marketing

  3. Learn Production

  4. Learn Salesmanship.

  5. Learn who prints things, and how to get things printed.

  6. Learn about how when things get screwed up how to fix it?

You’ll be more educated and understand what’s happening behind the scenes.

Year 3 is all about taking everything you are learning and create something with it.

  • Enter contests, put yourself out there, step up to the plate, try it, and get work out there. This is the best that I have got, this is what I have to share. Helps propel you to a new step. Do your best, and then move forward.

You need moments of finality and stair stepping, then you can ask, “Where to go next?”

  • Keep finishing things, then you go on to the next thing, and keep doing your best, then you can decide where to go next.

Don’t just keep a bunch of unfinished things in the drawer.

Ultimately, we want you to teach yourself how to finish and present something.

  • This will also help you flesh out a network. If you want to be successful, you need to build a network. People above, next to, and below you.You’d be surprised at what jobs and opportunities will come.

Someone above may like your work and throw you a bone.

Someone next to you may recommend you for a job. 

Someone below you has opportunities too.

Start building that network by building things and putting them out into the world.

Get into the network/world that you hope to enter.

Project creates a connection with people in that world, starts a network.

 

  • Study a film a week, a graphic novel a week, etc.

Will used to have though that “If I look at other people’s work I would be copying.” Originality comes from taking and combining, and studying. Will wishes someone would have grabbed him and told him that. Keep feeding yourself.

All creativity is, is connecting dots. Connecting dots that other people wouldn’t haven’t thought to connect. In order to connect dots, you have to have dots in the first place if you’re not filling your brain, then you have no creative capital to work with, you have no thoughts.

 

How Can I do This?

You have 4 hours in a day. You work for 9-10 hours. You have 14 hours. Maybe you shave off an hour of sleep, maybe you stop watching a TV series.

It really comes down to what you want to sacrifice. You shouldn’t sacrifice family, or your job. But there are some things you need to sacrifice to go down this path.

Need to discuss this with your spouse or significant other.  I.e. “This is something I feel really passionate about, let’s work out a plan, maybe Thursday Friday nights are spent doing this, and you get me Saturday and Sunday.”

Maybe it’s not 4 hours a day, and it’s 2. You can get a lot done in 2 hours. If you don’t prioritize it, it will never happen.

Come up with a schedule. Maybe it is Thursday or Saturday.

Early to Rise.

Jake gets up at 4am to work on Skyheart.

Lee wakes up at 5, works from 5:30-9:30 or 10AM.

During that grouping of hours, stuff happens.

You can get a ton of work done in that group of time.

Pursuit of Happiness. The main character would drink less water, so that he didn’t have to use the restroom as often and could therefore make more calls.

You’ve got to ask yourself, how bad do you want something? It comes down to that.

I really want to play the guitar, but I didn’t sacrifice for it, I didn’t prioritize it. I said that I really wanted to play the guitar, but if you don’t sacrifice and prioritize it, then you don’t really want it.

You can’t have good things without some sort of sacrifice or some sort of skin in the game.

Yuko Shimizu, http://yukoart.com/

She had a full time corporate job, and kept her job until eventually she hit the tipping point and she quit her corporate job, and now is an incredible illustrator.

 

CURRENT PROJECTS

Jake: Skyheart, 60 Pages left to color, it’s coming along well!

Lee: Working on illustrating some different subject matter.

Do rough sketches, then Find 3 key beats or difficult passages, and does an illustration of those passages, cause that will set tone for the rest of the book. Not just page 1, 2, etc. and does those pages and then it influences all the rest of the pages.

Will: Wrapping up Texture Painting class, Finished up the Alice in Wonderland series for Comic Con, and just finished a children’s book.

 

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?

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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!

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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?

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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?

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Our best,

Jake, Will, and Lee