Creating a Great Concept For Your Illustration
3 Point Perspective Podcast is sponsored by SVSLearn.com, the place where becoming a great illustrator starts! Inktober Promotion: FREE 30 Day Trial of SVSLearn, includes all of our inking courses, along with 80+ other art related courses. Perfect for leveling up and getting ready for Inktober. Click here to find the links for this episode and to see this episode's illustration.
18 Sep 2019
Starting an Online Shop
3 Point Perspective Podcast is sponsored by SVSLearn.com, the place where becoming a great illustrator starts! Inktober Promotion: FREE 30 Day Trial of SVSLearn, includes all of our inking courses, along with 80+ other art related courses. Perfect for leveling up and getting ready for Inktober. Click here to find the links for this episode and to see this episode's illustration.
16 Oct 2019
3 Point Perspective Podcast is sponsored by SVSLearn.com, the place where becoming a great illustrator starts! Inktober Promotion: FREE 30 Day Trial of SVSLearn, includes all of our inking courses, along with 80+ other art related courses. Perfect for leveling up and getting ready for Inktober. Click here to find the links for this episode and to see this episode's illustration.
3 Oct 2019
10 Skills Every Illustrator Must Have
Most people think that in order to be a great illustrator you need to just be a great artist and storyteller, that's true. However, there is a lot more that goes into being a stellar illustrator and a more well rounded person. In this episode we'll go over 10 important skills that we all need to be developing, and we'll go over some of the reasons why they are all so important, and share some techniques and tips for improving your skills. "Art directors only want illustrators with great skills!" Just a reminder that this class is sponsored by SVSLearn.com with a library of over 80-90 classes. Here are some recommendations: Lee’s Favorite: Visual Storytelling Techniques, it gives a why for all of the marks that you are putting down. Will’s Favorite: Draw 50 Things, it’s hard but once you learn to swing a golf club then you can go forward knowing how to create images. Jake’s Favorite: How to Draw Everything, Really proud of this one, it’s an intro to drawing, and it’s also great for experienced artists. It’s always a great thing to make sure that you are doing it right. It corrects drawing problems, and you learn a process by which you can draw anything you want! SVSLearn.com is Netflix for art school. If you want to own a movie, you go buy it. If you want to have access to a library of movies you do Netflix. That’s how SVSLearn.com is set up, you can buy the class and own it indefinitely or you can subscribe to our growing library of great content. Project Updates: Will: Sequel to Bonnepart, still working on it and is on the second round of sketches. Lee: Working on a new book with Simon and Schuster, it’s a doozy, because it’s based on a song and the song doesn’t have a strong narrative, and so he is trying to create a story through the images. Great ideas come early in the morning. That’s when great ideas come. Working in the morning and then chilling at night, or some people like to work till late at night and that can be great too. When you get into a focus mode, whether it is late at night or early in the morning, nobody is there to interrupt you. Jake: Delivered all of the interior drawings for Littlest Snow Plow 2, and it ended up being 40 pages. Next up, is working on the Inktober Book with Chronicle: how to do Inktober, and how to ink, and Jake’s process. The 10 Skills that Every Illustrator Must Have Love Creating You need to love creating art. Will has had students who he has determined don’t love art, people who would show up late, and talk to people, and take forever to get setup, and then they pack up and leave early. This is true for anything that you want to do. If you don’t love it then you won’t have the drive to push yourself and become great. Art is great, it’s what kids get excited about in pre school, and we are so blessed to be able to “play” for our job. Will had a friend who was admiring his iPad and asked about getting one, and then Will told his friend that he shouldn’t get one because he doesn’t love drawing. The friend hadn’t drawn really at all in the last decade, and was kind of offended at first, but then when Will explained why he said that, he understood that what Will said definitely had some truth to it. You’ve got to love it in order to excel. Jake has 5 kids and all of them who like to draw. One of them loves drawing and is older, and has a younger brother who likes drawing but and is way more naturally gifted. Sometimes his older son gets jealous, however, the older one is way more passionate, and in the long run he will have the drive to grow and become an amazing artist. You have to love it in order for it to be a career. It’s fine if it’s just a hobby and you only do it for a few hours a week, but if you are going to be creating for 40-50 hours a week, then you need to love it. Unique Style Too often people settle and just copy someone else’s work and they don’t develop their own unique style. If you stick with it long enough, your style will emerge. You can be deliberate and coax your style out quicker with exercises such as collecting 5-10 illustrators that you really like, and then creating lists about the different things that make up their style. If you want to get published you also need to develop a style that is relevant. You need to be looking at what’s being published right now, and then you can push things, you need to be current. We’ll do an episode about this soon, because this is an episode in and of itself. Communication You have to talk good. You have to be willing and bold enough to ask questions, and call your art director to clarify things. Back in the day everyone called people even when people didn’t see it coming. However, it makes sense that sometimes people are nervous and don’t want to look silly or incompetent to an art director, and therefore, are afraid to call and ask questions. People are willing to help you. If they want to work with you then that means they value you and your art. You can be honest, “Honestly, this is my first time doing a job like this, and so what do you think would be a fair price?”, etc, people will find you and your humble honesty endearing and be there to help you. Power of Persuasion, People Skills Sometimes we look at persuasion as a negative term, as manipulative. But it’s not, and those things are different. It’s kind of like you get more bees with honey. Let’s say you’re a beginning illustrator, and the client asks if you can take on a project, you say, “let me check my schedule and get back to you.” When maybe your schedule is wide open. Sometimes it’s a little bit of a game, “What’s your rate?”, well, “What’s the budget?” That’s a vital question if you want to make illustration a career. You need to make your client comfortable, they’re nervous working with you if you haven’t worked with them before, do all you can to clarify and show excitement and interest, so that they feel comfortable and good about hiring you. Will wanted to get a Yorkie, and there were 100 people who were wanting it. Will wanted to try and get the owner to let him buy it, so he tried to reverse engineer the person’s perspective. Ask yourself, “What would I want to hear, if I were them? What would I not want to hear, if I were her?” Assess the situation and look for how it can benefit you and the person you are working with. Think win-win! Show that you are excited, be human. Don’t be afraid to be excited and to show it! The 33% Rule You have relationships that you need to maintain. There are executive relationships above you, peer relationships people who are next to you, and there are people who are “below you” (not in a condescending way) but they are maybe not as experienced at something. Focusing on all of these relationships helps you see where you are at in your career and in your ability, acknowledge what you need to do to get better and enables you to help those who are further back on the path than you are. As you help people who are further back, you learn and grow more. Your skills will increase as you have to teach people the process. As you spend time with people ahead of you, they pull you up. You’re the sum of the 5 people you spend most of your time with. That means you need to put people in your life who are better than you. What to do if you are the best? If you are the rockstar of your group? Jake was at an art studio, and eventually people above him had moved on and left, and one day he realized that he didn’t have anyone to look up to and to push him to be better, so immediately he started looking at higher up studios with artists light years ahead of him, and he ended up getting a job there and grew so much within just the first 6 months. Healthy competition can help push you to be a better artist too. Teach You don’t have to. But if you can do it, it’s so rewarding. You give so much to your students, and they give you even more. Your students build a great circle around you, and it increases your quality of life. Some people have different personality, and like being alone more. Will’s case for why you should teach: When you have to break something down, and have to explain something, then you are creating different pathways in your brain and you have epiphanies as you are teaching. You are held to a higher standard: if you teach your students to do something then you are more accountable to try and apply what you teach in your own work. Most of the most successful illustrators that he knows of, all have done something to teach and share their knowledge and experience. As a rule of thumb, you should be out of school for 5 years before going back to teach, and those years of experience will validate you. You’ll be a better teacher and have the students respect. Students smell blood in the water and they can tell if you don’t know what you’re talking about. Your art will get better if you teach. Jake took a teaching job and right away his work got so much better. Personal Projects Every successful illustrator that Jake knows of that has taken their career somewhere has done personal projects and more importantly finished them and put them out into the world. Ship It. Check out our episode on this: Ship Happens Not the continuous project on the side that never gets finished. This is the only way to avoid burnout as a pro. Sometimes you just want to paint or draw something that’s just all entirely yours. Sometimes you do a personal project and it works its way into your professional work. Personal projects and style are so interrelated. You can’t work on personal project without developing your style and artistic voice. Sometimes they turn into bigger things. Missile Mouse, a side project started in 9th grade, turned into graphic novel deals with Scholastic. Little Bot and Sparrow, a 10 page story for a comic anthology became a children’s book. Inktober was a personal improvement project, now it’s a world wide art challenge. Will did Bonaparte Falls Apart, because Jake convinced him to do the fanart and his Little book style. When you have a personal project you have to answer questions and solve problems that you don’t have to when working on a project for someone else. From doing Kickstarters, having to work with printers, and having to prep files, it has helped Jake work better with clients. Yearn to Constantly Improve So many people get to a point where they wonder where else they need to go. Simona Ceccarelli: a good example of continually learning. She made it a personal goal, that her portfolio would turn around and be a completely different portfolio by the next year. “Eternal student.” She was a scientist for years, but she loved art and started studying it. Be an eternal student. Will’s interview with her. Will was impressed with one of his highly experienced teachers in school who would constantly take notes whenever a visiting artist came to campus. He was humble and always trying to learn. Take notes. Have an Online Presence You can have great art, but if no one can find it, then you won’t have any work. Most illustrators that are doing really well have some sort of an online presence. You can find them easily, they have a website, they are present to one degree or another on social media. Simona has gotten work from twitter and instagram. Not only can you find work but you can start to build your own personal fan base. Personal projects can sustain you if you have an audience that wants to buy your work. Think of Yourself as More Than an Illustrator. When Will looks at some of the best illustrator many do more than just illustration. Strive to combine an additional skill with your illustration: i.e. writing, programming for a game you’re making, maybe it’s a board game so you’re combining it with your creative ideas for making the game, etc. Develop another skill that you combine with illustration. You combine things and can create something that is more than the sum of its parts. Some artists transcend the idea of being a hired gun, or “just an illustrator.” You’re never going to be paid as much as the creator rather than just the artist. You have to stand out in some way, you have to be unique. It’s important to create that mindset that you are a creator, even if it’s not illustration, even if it’s something completely different. Sometimes while working on other things you’ll receive insights and inspiration for your art. It’s all about how you define yourself. “Illustration is one of the things that I do, but I’m able to do lots of things.” There is so much more to life than just illustration. Be more than just an illustrator. Taking classes: Jake reads books and learns from them, art and non art, Jake did a marketing class, and went to a conference. Lee has this spark and wants to take some art classes, onsite. John Love watercolor workshop Lee did it. Will would like to get into Plein Air painting, has never done it, but wants to get into it. Svslearn.com Jake Parker: mrjakeparker.com Instagram: @jakeparker, Youtube: JakeParker44 Will Terry: willterry.com. Instagram: @willterryart, Youtube: WillTerryArt Lee White: leewhiteillustration.comInstagram: @leewhiteillo Tanner Garlick: tannergarlickart.com. Instagram: @tannergarlick 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.
31 Oct 2018
Most Popular Podcasts
Our Most Embarrassing Stories in Illustration
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 again. Hopefully, none of you are as dumb as us! 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, http://mrjakeparker.com. Instagram: @jakeparker, Youtube: JakeParker44 Will Terry, http://willterry.com. Instagram: @willterryart, Youtube: WillTerryArt Lee White, http://leewhiteillustration.com. Instagram: @leewhiteillo forum.svslearn.com Podcast production and editing by Aaron Dowd.
16 May 2018
The Best Illustration Assignments
3 Point Perspective Podcast is sponsored by SVSLearn.com, the place where becoming a great illustrator starts!Click here to find the links for this episode and to see this episode's illustration.
14 Nov 2019
Work / Life Balance
3PP 27, Work/Life Balance SVSLearn.com Just a reminder this podcast is sponsored entirely by SVSLearn.com. This is the place to be if you want to become a children’s book illustrator. We have 80+ courses apart of our subscription, we also have a few 5-10 week long interactive courses that will be starting up in May. We are running a 7 day free trial right now and you can try it out and see if you like it. We are starting to record our podcast as a video and will be uploading it to Youtube. Work/Life Balance Our topic today is Work/ Life Balance. We have gotten a lot of people asking us about this and we’ve talked about this before on our old webinar, which was the precursor to this podcast, hopefully we will be able to address it from a few different angles today. This is something that everyone is concerned with and it affects all of us each day. The Basics of Establishing a Work/Life Balance We were thinking about going over what to do with your time once you have established a work/life balance, but we wanted to start with the basics of establishing a work/life balance and share some experiences from different phases of our lives. We thought that starting with the basics would be beneficial. Is it possible to always have work/life balance? No. There are some phases that aren’t going to have as great of a work/life balance. When Lee was at Art Center, it was like boot camp, he was doing art from the second he woke up to the second he went to sleep, and he didn’t have good working methods back then which may have helped alleviate some of that. There were other phases where the balance was skewed, i.e. having a baby. Balance is not the norm but there are ups and downs and ebbs and flows and rhythms to our work/life balance. There are times for more work/life balance. Life is everything besides work: Spending time with family, with your spouse or significant other, exercise, recreation, playing games, etc. Learn to Do Hard Things Will has noticed that for a lot of young people, including one of his children, that they struggle to do really hard things. When Will was young he participated in Boy Scouts, and for that he was in an axe competition that took all day chopping down trees till his hands were bleeding. Probably one of the hardest experiences he had was when he hiked a mountain in the winter time starting at 5am and they didn’t set up camp till 5pm. Experiences like that, where you push yourself and your body to the limit, it makes other things pale in comparison and seem less difficult. Some people don’t have hard experiences like that to build on. Things that might seem easy to some seem impossible to them. However, compared to others throughout the history of the world, Will has never done a full days work in his life. There are kids today, who have really never worked a day in their lives. Lee was teaching a painting class and students were commenting on how they had spent 6 or 8 hours on their master copy painting, but when he was in school that was just the start most of his would take around approximately 12 hours long. That was the norm. Nowadays we lean towards that instant gratification mindset and 5 hours can seem like forever. If we change our mindset on how long we think something should take it can change our whole attitude towards the project. Work/life Balance is not a balance so much as it is more like an ebb and flow. There are times where you need to put everything into work, there are times of life and times of the year, or the project, during those times your life becomes the work. There are other times in life where you need to focus more on family and on friendships and it’s okay to hold back on work some to focus on those most important things, maybe you just had a baby, or got married, or had a death in the family, etc. There is a way to have that ebb and flow day to day as well. The main rule is: be present wherever you are at and in whatever you are doing. When you are at work, be 100 percent at work. When you are with your family, don’t be on your phone, be 100 percent present. Jake’s mom just passed away and that is one of those personal experiences that we will all experience in our lives. Jake went and visited her before she passed and had a really special time taking care of her, talking with her, and holding her hand. He came back to Utah and her condition was worsening. He had some rough days, and had been planning on going to Emerald City Comic Con and he was debating if he should go or stay in case he needed to go back to Arizona for his mom. Jake’s mom wasn’t the type of person who wanted to cause too many waves and wouldn’t want to get in the way of family or work. She was really cool about stepping back. Jake’s sister told Jake to go and that if there was an emergency they would fly him out. He went to the event and did his best despite the undercurrent of sadness and thoughts about his mom. He tries to be present and do his best wherever he is. Work With Intensity and Focus in All Categories of Your Life It’s a conscious choice, I’m here and I’m working. It’s a very important thing to think about and to apply to every part of your life. Learning art can be overwhelming. There is this undercurrent to art, that you should be working all the time. 21:42 While in his early 20’s Lee’s Dad got Cancer at a young age: 54 years old. Lee was living in California and his dad was in Nashville. Lee had a lot of friends in Nashville and he was trying to schedule a time to go out there to visit his father but also be able to see his friends and get the most bang for his buck from the trip. Sadly, his dad passed away when Lee was en route to see him, and that is Lee’s one regret. Time is so precious. Lee and his wife, Lisa, took his 8 year old son out of school for a few days just to go on a trip with him, and he really just wants to treasure his time with him. Nikola Tesla, and Steve Jobs they would wear the same outfit everyday so they didn’t have to waste any time thinking of what they were going to wear. Will has always wanted to get to the point where he realizes that time is short and that time is really so precious. We have that luxury some with being an artist where we are passionate about what we are doing. Some other jobs where you just clock in and out feel like you are just selling 8 hours of your life to that company. When you are creating your own art and you are getting better, and you are inventing yourself as an artist etc. That should become your “video game.” So many people get so addicted to games that they schedule it to where nothing else in the world will interrupt their game time. There are times as an artist where it needs to interrupt your pleasure time. The better you get the more fun it becomes, then you are able to start realizing the dreams you have. The work you put down on paper starts to mimic the vision you had. It becomes more fun when you are able to visualize something and then create it. It becomes a lot more fun when you are able to get past worrying so much about your technique. That’s an important part of work life balance, when you don’t struggle with the technique anymore and it becomes just the vision of what you are trying to say. Struggling with technique doubles your time on any individual piece. Once that goes away, then you are off to the races really quick! Jake’s Phases of Work/Life Balance. Teens: All about have experiences and drawing. Twenties: Got married and had kids, worked to master his craft. It was all: Family, work, family, work. Not much time for friends, health, or hobbies. That’s where he got really good at his style, finding tools he liked, exploring a lot of different things, etc. He experimented a lot: messed around with modeling, animation, comics, storyboarding. Thirties: Refining. He had mastered a lot of these things now it was time to pick one path, and zero in on getting better with his health and family. Also to put into practice those things so you can go on your own path. Children's books, and comics, and freelance. Getting into a position to where you can do your own thing. Started SVS. Forties: simplifying even more. Had a little more time for health and family. Now it’s Planning his trajectory to where he can do things like Will: stop working in the afternoon, and do something for his health/ a hobby for a couple of hours, and then spend the evenings with family. There are different phases that you go through. There will be some ebb and flow. Try and plan for it. Do things that will help give you that life balance. Don’t think you can maintain a constant. Be present and lean into your free time and lean into your work when you need to. Different things that help give us work/life balance. Lower Your Monthly Expenses Lowering your expenses is so much easier than making more money. If you have a full time job and you do that for 8-10 hours a day, and then you want to work on illustration at night and want to also spend quality time with your family. It can be difficult. There are only so many hours in the day. For example, if you can cut your expenses to where you don’t have to work full time but can work part time, then you can spend those hours you gained back working on your craft. Getting your financial life in order is a worthy pursuit. Start investigating it. A couple of things to check out: Dave Ramsey has a great podcast. This really got Lee started on wanting to be debt free. In the US you can have so much credit. Too much, credit, be wise and get out of debt. Lee and his wife were really interested in the the idea of being debt free. Lee’s wife came across a website called, Mr. Money Mustache which is all about penny pinchers to the extreme. For most of us, ultimately, we don’t like to work. Over at Mr. Money Mustache, those guys focus on early retirement, how to get off the treadmill. This got Lee and his wife thinking, is it possible to do this? So they started looking at where they spent their money. Some of it was ridiculous and easy to cut out immediately. Fast forward 8 or 9 years later from that point, they’re debt free. Which has made a massive difference. Now Lee can do what he wants to now. He still needs some money but it’s just so much different with how he feels about work. It’s just not as intense. They now fully owns their house, 100%. They have a renter and now they are making a profit. The difference between now and before is about $3000. Before he was having to spend $2200 now he doesn’t spend anything and he gets a rent income of $1400 a month. Lee’s our inspiration. When you are in a financial bind it’s really difficult. Will and his wife went through a time when they were not the best with their money and had a financial meltdown. He got to the point where he was waiting on some checks and he had to break into a coin jar he had collected to get money for gas and groceries, Will also had a big jar of pennies and they had to break into that jar to get some groceries: a bag of potatoes, bread, and a gallon of milk, etc. You shop differently when you’re in a situation like that; all while waiting for that check. Lee’s in a really good financial situation. Lee doesn’t come from money. He had no help, loans, gifts, no big inheritance. Their first home was 1 bedroom, 1 bath. He had a stated income loan. He is a success story from the time of the Great Recession. They were responsible with money. They didn’t buy a home that they couldn’t afford but just barely got in under the wire. Jake was working at Blue Sky, working full time in the animation industry, making a healthy 6 figure a year income. He liked it but what he really wanted to do was to be independent, to work out of his home office, doing the projects he wanted to do. But he knew that if he did that he would take a drastic pay cut for years until he could build it up and get enough work and things going to match that. His wife said, we can’t live here in Connecticut where you have to have 6-figure income to afford the houses here. So they decided to move to Provo, UT, which, at the time, all of the housing prices there were just dropping. They found this foreclosed home, the yard was trashed, the inside was trashed and they got it for a great price.Their house has never been a financial burden to them. It has made a huge difference in the amount of work that they had to take on, and it’s been a big blessing to them in the work life balance that Jake’s been able to find, for the past 8 years that they’ve been living in that house. Be sure to buy a house that you can comfortably afford. Don’t spread yourself and your finances too thin. Back to Lee: He and his wife started thinking about becoming debt free during a time when the idea seemed extremely outrageous. They had bought that first home (1 bedroom, 1 bath) with no down payment and now they had just taken on a $225,000 loan. Lee had barely any income. They bought this home in an area that was transitioning from being a dangerous place to becoming more gentrified. Lee didn’t know how to do any home repair, so he went to Home Depot and got that orange book that teaches you how to do all home repairs. He redid all of the electrical, flooring, tiling, plumbing, they even tore out a plaster ceiling, etc. He was illustrating books by day and renovating his home by night. Lee noticed his neighbors were moving and he offered to buy their house, with no money. So they sold their 1 bedroom house and made a profit. Then they bought that other house and had a higher mortgage but still wanted to become debt free. He was a broken record back then about wanting to be debt free and all of his friends told him it was impossible. Lisa’s grandparents had passed away and left an old beat up home. Lee and Lisa went and lived there for free in exchange for fixing it up. They rented their new home out to pay the mortgage on that home. They lived in their grandparents old home for free while his renters paid for their mortgage. This gave them a taste for renting your house out. They started to make these huge sacrifices and huge strides to living debt free. They started renting their house out on Airbnb whenever they went on vacation. The other thing is you need to get debt free is to live somewhere affordable. You will have a hard time if you live in Portland or somewhere extremely expensive as an artist and expect to get debt free. They moved out of Portland to Nashville which isn’t super cheap but much more affordable than Portland. They spent 5 years getting ready to do that. They ended up buying a third home and spent 5 years fixing that home up getting ready to sell it. Lee spent 12 years, in total, fixing up houses. It took them those last 5 years to prepare to make the move to Nashville. Lowering your expenses takes effort. You may have to move, you may have to shift things around, you may have to lower your standard of living, you may have to get roommates. But if you lower how much you have to make, your time will expand. How do you feel today about having to take a job vs. the beginning of your career? At the beginning of Will’s career he took everything that came in, he took all jobs. There were a lot of jobs he took in that he hated and didn’t want to do. Now Lee takes jobs now that move him emotionally and creatively. He doesn’t take jobs for the money now. It’s vastly different. You go through different stages in your career. In the beginning Lee also would take everything, not just for the money, but for the exposure, “I need to be published.” You’ve got to have some credibility of working as a pro and meeting with art directors etc. You have to go through that grind. As you get better technically, the jobs become more rewarding. As you go further along in your career and don’t have to take those jobs that don’t match up with what you want to do, as well. So this is a career that just becomes more and more rewarding as you go through it. If you are in a position to provide for your family or for yourself as well, it doesn’t really matter where you make your money; it doesn’t have to be from art. If you have to side hustle and make money from Airbnb on the side that is just as respectable as taking on 3 extra illustration jobs. All through his 20’s-30’s Jake’s mindset was: it has to be art, that’s all I’m good at. But now his mindset has shifted, it could be helping his wife to start a business, or they get a rental property, or Airbnb, or flip a car, etc. There are many respectable sources of income apart from art. At some point, you need to do what you need to do to make ends meet. Leave some portion of making art for yourself so that you can enjoy it and get something out of it, rather than just paying for the bills. Be a Scheduler This complements our step 1) Work With Intensity. If you don’t know what you need to do it’s hard to work with intensity. From 8-12 I’m going to be doing this thing, from 12-4 I’m going to be doing this thing, etc. Some of our scheduling strategies: Lee works for around 8 hours a day. He will work for 50 minute chunks and then take 10 minutes off. During those 10 minute breaks he will stand up and walk around and move. As illustrators we can work for hours and hours being stationary and it’s not good for our health. As illustrators sometimes our posture can get really bad because we are always leaning over to draw and may not have the best chair situation. Jake switched to a stool and has been sitting on a stool for the past 6-7 years and that has helped him sit up straight and has helped him not have back pain. Lee has this climbing harness type thing that helps pull his shoulders back, the natural position for drawing is rolling your shoulders forward. If you do that enough, the chest muscles become contracted and the arm muscles on the back of the arm become elongated and your body can get used to being in that state. It can become hard to get out of that state because your body has adjusted to it. It’s important to think about your health. All of the stuff we are talking about today are long term strategies because if we are going to be doing this for life we want to figure this stuff out. You need to take time to look at your calendar and figure out what you are doing. When Jake got started working for himself, he would look back at his day and realize he had nothing to show for the day despite having been in the studio for 8-9 hours, he didn’t even know what he had done. So he started doing a time audit where every minute of the day was accounted for. I.e. The last half hour, I confess I surfed Twitter, but then the next half hour I buckled down and got that illustration done, and then for these 3 hours I did this, then I spent 2 hours clearing out my inbox, etc. He did this for months, recording how he was spending his time, and making to do lists and checking things off. Once he had done that time audit and could see where his time was being spent, then he could widdle out stuff that was unproductive. He used to think that he could get so much done at night after the kids went to bed, and that used to be the case because he was younger and had more energy, but now as he’s aged he’s noticed that for 3 hours spent at night could get that same amount of work done in the morning in just 1.5 hours. So he’s 50% less productive at night. So he decided to take the times where he’s most productive and put the most creative work into those hours, and to take the time where he’s least productive and that’s when he’ll surf Twitter, watch Youtube videos, read a book, watch a movie, etc.That way he’s not doing unproductive stuff during unproductive time. This has made a huge difference with how he sets up his schedule. The other thing with this is that he doesn’t want to stay up late watching Youtube videos so he goes to bed earlier, and wakes up earlier, and gets more work done before his kids get up in the morning. It’s an overall refining of his schedule and how he works. Will doesn’t write things down but he knows what he needs to get things done and he thinks about it a lot. What Lee has learned about being a scheduler is that once you write it down you don’t have to worry about it and think about it but it’s just done. Will does use a to do list but he doesn’t put a timestamp down trying to figure out how long everything will take. Jake’s perspective on Will: Will does have a to do list, he comes into work focused on his MIT (Most Important Task) and he is focused on getting that done. If anything else gets accomplished then that’s just gravy. Then he goes home. Sometimes he gets the thing done that he wanted to get done and he can leave. It’s pretty awesome and takes a lot of discipline. Part of it is that Will doesn’t want to sit at a desk all day. He likes to break up his workday. Because his kids are grown he does a lot of drawing at home later on. He breaks his day into thirds: 1) morning/afternoon: work. 2) afternoon: exercise, shopping for the family, doing things with them. 3) nights) draw and get work done at home, especially the drawing aspect, he can do that anywhere with the iPad. Will has found a schedule that really works for him. Everyone should put a priority on that. Some people work better and are more creative at night. Some people, like Lee work better in the morning, etc. Jake’s daily schedule: 4:30-5:00AM: Wake up, get an hour of work in. 6:00-9:00AM: Make breakfast, take kids to school, work out/go on a run, shower and head to the studio. 9:30/10AM-12:30/1PM: Straight creative time, do the most cognitively demanding work, same with his early morning work time. 1PM-5:30PM: Afternoon is focused on administrative stuff, recording podcasts, meetings, checking email (Inbox zero method), phone calls, meetings, etc. 6-7:30/8PM: Family Time. Dinner, spending time with kids, helping them with school projects, etc. 8-9PM: Decompressing, reading taking notes, maybe write a little for a comic project, then go to bed. Tries to get 7 hours of sleep a night. Good schedules are something that are thought about. Not just random. That was Jake’s weekdays. The weekdays are super focused but the weekends are not. Friday nights he will stay up late watching a movie with one of his kids. Saturdays he sleeps in and will go on a nice long run in the morning, does chores, house stuff, etc. Sundays are completely a day of rest, he goes to church, spends time with his family, plays board games, maybe they make a dessert, watches a Miyazaki film, completely unplugs, tries not to even look at his phone. Then after a weekend like that he is itching to get back to work and it’s no problem waking up at 4:30 in the morning to start another work week. Lee’s Workday Schedule: Lee is naturally an early riser, he tried to be like Jake and wake up early and go straight to work but was feeling some resistance there. Feel things out, if you are feeling some internal resistance, then try and change it up. He would wake up and try to work and would feel antsy, he couldn’t just stumble from his bedroom to his office and start working. He wakes up at 5-5:30 and will do an intense workout, always something athletic, he will go on a run or lift weights, and will spend 1-1.5 hours doing that. Once he got on that schedule it was perfect for him and he would come back home or to the office, wherever he is working that day, feeling balanced, having burned through some of that weird energy and he’s ready to sit down and work because he’s already got some exercise. Monday, Wednesday, Friday: he has designated those days to be an illustrator, that’s when he does his book work. He has a separate studio away from his home and that’s where he does his illustration work. He will work there for 8-10 hours with his 50 minute blocks. He is focused, just does illustration, doesn’t answer the phone, it’s a very focused time frame for him. Tuesday, Thursday: are for teaching, for doing SVS, for recording podcasts. Lee can never do anything halfway, he gets intensely interested in things. Avoiding a trip up with being a scheduler: Before when Lee would get out his calendar and start scheduling he would schedule out the perfect day and with no space for error, he was going to be the epitome of productivity, and then he’d get a revision or something unexpected would pop up and throw everything out of whack. Finally, after a number of frustrating years trying to deal with that he realized something: it’s so easy, don’t be idealistic, leave open space in between the projects. All of the sudden things started working out a lot more smoothly. Obviously, you have to account for things you don’t expect, but by not trying to schedule a perfect day enabled him to have perfect days, if that makes sense. Don’t get frustrated if your schedule gets thrown out of whack. It’s still good to know what the the schedule should be so that if things start going off track and it’s your fault, you can get back on track. A good schedule is your armature to hang everything on. Be willing to dodge and weave as needed. The calendar is a guide/ armature. You will never stick to it, some things take longer, some things are shorter. That’s an important concept, before Lee would derail himself and go from having a crazy scheduled day to no schedule and nothing else would get done. On the weekends Lee has nothing scheduled. Live Life In order to be a good illustrator, it’s not about your craft, it’s not about your technique, it’s about your experiences that you are trying to share with people. It’s, what are you creating art about? What are you trying to share about? You can’t do that if you are vapid, if you don’t have anything inside of you. So you’ve got to have experiences, you’ve got to have a life outside of the studio, you’ve got to have hobbies or something like that. Once you get through that stage of life where there’s that intensity to master your craft and you get there, once you’re sort of on this track where you set your schedule and you’ve got some room in there for balance, it informs your art. Maybe even before then, you find a way that you can do stuff, you can travel (not traveling to Europe, but maybe just across town, or to that museum you’ve been meaning to go to). You need to fill your creative bank account, you need to fill it with creative capital and use it to know what to create art about. Jake’s family will always go on a summer vacation for 2 weeks to a month, depends on the schedule. They’ll do a road trip and go to New York to visit family. It’s a time to have experiences, to spend time with family, and just to have fun. The kids all sleep in a cramped beach house, and they get to play actual games like Cornhole that don’t involve buttons. Jake also raises chickens, which is sometimes fun. A lot people listening to this might be in school and not have the finances that we have. Back then Will would find time to exercise, and it was always running and that’s about it. Now he flies model airplanes, plays the bass, goes hiking, goes mountain biking, plays racquetball 3 days a week, sometimes he snowboards. Really work hard in the beginning, you have more bandwidth and capacity to work hard then. You don’t see many 80 year olds starting at 9 in the morning and going until they drop at night. You can do that when your are in your 20s, 30s, and even 40s. What you do is as important as taking time to work on other things. Will can see a lot of his childhood experiences in his newest Bonaparte book. He’s putting things in there from his childhood. It’s all about those raw experiences, you need to make time to have those meaningful and special experiences. If Will could do it all over again, he’d have spent money differently in the beginning, and became more financially independent earlier on. He would have cut out half of the work that he did early on, because he did so much horrible work: jobs that were so heavily art directed that he wasn’t happy with the work afterwards, and the client probably didn’t care too much about it either, after the fact. All 3 of us are later in our careers, where we’ve all been doing this for 20 years or more. Don’t get frustrated, if you’re like: “I’m never going to get there.” Jake never thought he’d get to where he is right now. There was a time in his life where he wondered if this was even possible. Will also questioned if he could do it early on too. We work smart not hard. We don’t spend as much time spinning our wheels. The execution is quicker. We’ve spent all of that time making those mistakes before. It’s like the guy who, when Will would help him move a couch, had already prepped the whole house, he had already put things away so they wouldn’t trip, and had tied the hide-a-bed down so it wouldn’t spring out and put a ding in the wall. He had done all that prep work so that when we would go to move, we would move it and it would be done, there weren’t a lot of mistakes made. Art is much the same way. When you’ve figured out your process, you just sit down and crank something out and it works out. It’s all about the mistakes you’re avoiding. I.e. Jake did 2 character designs the other day in 3 hours, 10 years ago, it would have been a 10 hour job, but now he’s got a system down, he knows how he’s working, and his intuition is finely attuned, he knows whether or not he is on the right track or not pretty quick. So the sad news for a student is that when you’ve worked 10 hours on a project, don’t pat yourself on the back, because you’ve only worked 3 good hours. Illustration is about experiences. How do those experiences affect illustration? Late teens to early twenties, Lee was really into competitive skateboarding. How he sees the world was changed. Even now when he goes down the stairs and sees a handrail, he sees it first as an obstacle, and second as a handrail. The whole world is like that. He has noticed that others don’t see the world the same way as he does. Skating was all about finding lines in these urban environments and it’s become a tool he uses now in his compositions. The way that he composes a picture has to do with the lines that he saw as a skateboarder. Each thing that you do complements other things that you do in life. And vice versa, how does illustration affect the way you see the world and other things in your life? The same goes for intensity, when Lee works out he tries to work out with intensity. Each of these things plays off of each other and make each other better. Try and see links between things. In Summary: Work With Intensity and Focus in All Categories of Your Life Lower Your Monthly Expenses Be A Scheduler Live Life Quote: “Make a daily appointment to disconnect from the world so that you can connect with yourself.” -Austin Kleon That’s what this work/life balance is all about: to disconnect from your world so that you can connect with yourself, so that when you are back to connecting with your work, with the world you know what to work on, what to talk about, and what your work is to be about. LINKS Svslearn.com Jake Parker: mrjakeparker.com Instagram: @jakeparker, Youtube: JakeParker44 Will Terry: willterry.com. Instagram: @willterryart, Youtube: WillTerryArt Lee White: leewhiteillustration.comInstagram: @leewhiteillo Alex Sugg: alexsugg.com Tanner Garlick: tannergarlickart.com. Instagram: @tannergarlick 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.
24 Apr 2019
How to Convey a Message or Story With Your Art
What if you could make money off of artwork you did years ago? That’s what Gina Lee does. She has a class on SVS where you can learn about how you can take artwork that you have already done or how to create new artwork that can be used for licensing (i.e. paper plates, decorations, etc.) You can check out that class here. This next week we will be releasing a Part 2, which will cover: Trend forecasting, developing your personal style so it’s more desirable to licensers, and how to create vision boards to help direct your work for what you want to do for licensing. Jake is reading, Keep Going” by Austin Kleon. One section is all about “Create For the Sake of Creating” and Austin talks about how you can sometimes just create something and then toss it, shred it or burn it. Create just for the sake of creating. It makes the creation all focused on the joy that comes from creating, not the end product. Sometimes we get so focused on the end product, whether or not we can scan it, share it, etc, that we lose sight of the joy of creation. Oftentimes kids only care about the experience of creating, they aren’t so focused on making something perfect. Sometimes it’s nice to not be so focused on the end product. Our topic today is: How to Convey a Message or Story With Your Art The Kick in the Creatives podcast covered this topic and they are tagging other podcasts to cover the same topic; we were tagged by them to go over this topic and they are wanting us to tag another podcast to then talk about this. Out tag is:(“One Fantastic Week”)(https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/one-fantastic-week/id949599706). Storytelling As illustrators here, we are going to focus on how to convey a story with your art. Jake overheard this experience, when Will was teaching a class with Brian Ahjar about creating great backgrounds. Brian is really good at telling good stories with his art. Will and Brian were critiquing students work in their interactive class and the problem many of the students were having was that they were telling story fragments. Brian’s critique on a lot of the pieces was: “I don’t know what the story is.” Oft times the illustration can confuse the viewer more than it communicates something clearly. Just because you’re drawing a picture doesn’t mean that you are saying anything. That’s a problem you see a lot of times with amateur illustration work they just draw a character or an environment with no story in mind and oftentimes people don’t know what’s going on or have any deeper questions that they want to know more about after seeing the illustration. That’s what we want to go over: how to tell a story and why that’s so important as illustrators. Longevity, if something is going to be interesting for a long period of time, then it needs a story. On the other hand, sometimes people run into the problem where they tell too much story and it doesn’t give the viewer any work to do or allow the viewer to participate at all; there is a good middle ground where people can come back to it again and again, and depending on where they are in life, they can maybe read the image in a different way. Sometimes people paint a barn that has really no story to it, and unless it’s just amazing if it’s not telling a story then it’s not going to be as interesting. If you aren’t telling a specific story, often what you draw asks questions rather than answers questions. Sometimes you are asking more questions and making things more confusing than you are answering. I.e. Will saw this student’s illustration where there was this happy woman in the foreground looking over her shoulder and a happy dog trailing behind her, and then in the background there is a girl that is upset, but there are not cues as to why the child is upset. You might imply that this woman is the child’s mom and that she was happy from just disciplining her daughter. It seems that she almost has glee that her kid is upset, which probably wasn’t the illustrator’s intent. That’s an example of asking more questions than you are answering. You are asking more questions than you are answering, that is starting to move away from illustration and more towards fine art. Which can oftentimes be a lot more abstract and wanting the viewer to ask questions and think more. David Dibble does these amazing barn paintings, with terrific color, light and shadow, but when doing that these are more of a gallery piece, a decoration for someone with a lot of money to hang on their wall. They are a decoration. The piece’s purpose isn’t so much to communicate a specific story. Your job as an illustrator is to tell a story. Every image spurs a question in your viewer. Every image should elicit some sort of emotional response from the viewer It should make them laugh, or make them interested in the story or in the character, make them want to turn the page to see what is going to happen next, make them angry, inspire them, give them awe, etc. Really cool concept art: creates a feeling of really wanting to see the movie and make the viewer want to see those characters in the movie. Sometimes it is an action that is not resolved until the next page and it makes you want to flip the page to see what happens next. For illustrators, generally the response you want to evoke should be the same for a broad audience. I.e. a scary illustration for a scary book, you want everyone to feel the same way, there is some intent behind it. While for fine art they desired response may be more open and it may be a lot more open to interpretation. Always include a character or some sort of evidence of a character. Don’t make your images merely decorative. Will was giving a portfolio review and the very first image was really nice but it wasn’t telling a story. Sometimes as an artist you will make these “pinnacle pieces” that are better than anything else you’ve done. If you are trying to build a portfolio to do children’s book work, you don’t want to lead with a piece that isn’t telling a story. What are you saying to a potential client? Why the need for a character? Even if it’s a landscape it could be a castle in the distance, or a rusty car in the corner. It is almost like we are programmed to look for people and stories. If there is no character or evidence of a character it is hard to connect with the image, it just seems like a travel photograph. When there is a “character” like a rusty car it gets us to be involved in the story and it helps the viewer start to become involved with the story. An image of a snowscape is one type of scene vs. a snowscape with footprints in the snow. Use small details to add more depth to your images. Use small details to add more storytelling depth to your images. If Jake is drawing a character he will try and give a character a quirky addition to their outfit, or they are riding something interesting, or if they are riding a horse they are carrying something behind them, etc. Why do little details help to tell a story? They add character depth. Those little details tell a lot about the character and become very character building. All details are an extension of the character. If you look at a brand new neighborhood most of the houses look about the same and have very little character. They look like Monopoly pieces. However, if you look at that same neighborhood 50 years later you will have a very different experience. Fast forward 50 years, the houses will have all sorts of details that tell a story about the people who live there, the houses and all of their details have become extensions of the characters that live there. All of the details point to the character and tell a lot about them. Beginners often are resistant to using reference. It is an acquired skill to spend more time preparing for an illustration. Doing research before diving in and cranking out an illustration. Will used to have that disease and would just sit down and bust out an illustration in a couple of hours. I.e. Will saw a student’s illustration where there was this street corner, with a more contemporary car by a bus stop but it had a bench that was totally made up out of the student’s head. It didn’t look like any bench Will had seen before. It totally took Will out of the image and became a distraction. If you are draw a bench in a park, you could look at different periods of time or places and draw a bench that would feel accurate with the story that you want to tell. Lack of details can distract from the story. You don’t have to be a slave to your reference and copy it exactly. But let it inform your work. If you are trying to develop your own style, then make sure that all of the parts of your image match and feel like they are in the same world. You don’t want everything to feel informed and then have this wonky bench that doesn’t seem to fit in. You can’t make up an entire universe that has no reference point for the viewer. Lee illustrated this book called, Arctic White and the whole book is in a more rural setting with animal pelts, dogs, and bobsleds etc. and it’s about this girl who gets sick of the greys of her world and wants to see more color. Lee feels like when he introduced the new colors in the story he used the wrong color pallette and it felt like it was from WalMart and the colors were too bright and saturated, he wishes he had used colors that felt a little more natural, like ground up pigments, and that would fit in that world better. Look at the details in your piece and see if any of the details are detracting from the image or enhancing the image. Avoid the climax. You never want to show the actual climax. Your illustration should be something happening right before the climax or something that is happening right afterwards. I.e. a kid running down the sidewalk and he falls and trips on a stick. Do you show the kid tripping and his knee scraping on the ground? Or the kid running about to hit the stick and you can imply what will happen? Or show a broken stick and the kid on the ground crying? Which has the most storytelling power? Our April Art Contest is focused on that: “The moment before” The sequel to a book Will illustrated, Bonaparte Falls Apart, is Bonaparte Plays Ball, and in this story there is a part where he hits a homerun. Do you want to show the ball hitting the bat or the ball having already been hit? It’s actually boring to see the ball hitting the bat. You want to show the before or after, “Is he going to hit a homerun?” Or “Oh! He hit a homerun!” In terms of playing with the moment, Lee likes to think of the different sounds or level of activity that come with it. Whether something is quiet or loud. When you are thinking of pacing or if you are leading up to an action you can think of the different levels of “sound” that your images have. You can think about if you want your image to be loud or more quiet. Right before an action there is a heightened sense of potential energy, but it is still more quiet. i.e. someone lighting a fuse of dynamite. The actual explosion of the dynamite, is a loud moment. The aftermath, it’s more quiet again. You can think of the story and it’s pacing and what each moment need. You want to have moments of quiet balanced with the louder moments. You want to have the reader fill in the gaps. What to leave out is just as important as what you leave in. i.e. The Road Runner cartoons: a lot of action is just implied and not shown. So much of animation is anticipation. So much of what the Coyote does is just planning and scheming and building up the anticipation. You can build up anticipation and make the viewer start to wonder what is going to happening? You want to leave some things to imagination. Use composition and point of view. Think about worm’s eye view or bird’s eye view, they both have different emphasis, one makes things look large, the other makes things look small. The worst point of view to use is the mushy middle. Not at eye level, not at birds eye view, etc. When we are floating 12 feet above the ground looking down on something and it doesn’t feel intentional. You are the director, you get to decide where the camera is facing. David Hohn and Lee give a teacup and teapot assignment where students have to create 50 different images all playing with the camera and point of view. After the first 20 the students have to start becoming creative and that’s when the best stuff comes out. POV: Point of View. Compositionally, you can create an image where there is a visual hierarchy. Maybe there is an image with an initial focal point but then after seeing that there is a second or third layer of the composition that you then can notice. I.e. Illustration of a deserted island with volcano erupting (first read), and then after further looking at the image you see villagers escaping to boats, and all of these other details, building a wall to help slow down lava, etc. Give your viewer something to explore. Add details that your viewer will find the more they look at and explore the illustration. Add details or sometimes hidden things, where as they look at the image they want to explore it more. In Bonaparte Falls Apart, the main character is a skeleton, and there are lots of other scary characters like Blacky Widow. When they introduce Blacky Widow (she’s a black widow) Will tried to add spiderweb motifs to the furniture. And it gives the viewer something to look like other than the action. Where’s Waldo: it’s completely designed for exploration. Don’t be afraid to add those types of details to your illustration. Lee read this book, based off of A Christmas Carol but it’s all mice and everything is made out of things that mice would use, he read this to his son a few times, and it wasn’t until he had read it a few times that he noticed that the human version of the story was taking place in the background at the same time. Sometimes the detail is just fun stuff, sometimes it’s essential stuff. One time details weren’t clear in the text so Lee had to try and add details in the illustration to help make the story more clear. Little Critters books: there’s like a spider or some sort of bug in every illustration. Richard Scarry does it too, it’s the gold bug. Use Lighting to tell the story. How can you use lighting to tell the story? Just by changing the time of day that totally changes the illustration. If someone is running through the forest during the middle of the day, it’s one thing but if you change it to them running through the forest during the middle of the night, it’s completely different. Lee does a lot with time of day and seasonal cues but not so much with lighting or distinct light and shadow now. Will did this illustration of an attic. But then he lit it as if there was a little beam of light coming through the window and just by adding a beam of light it hit 5 different objects and it told a different story because of the objects it was emphasizing. The place with the highest contrast usually becomes the focal point, unless you have a spot of super saturated color that might stand out more. The highest contrast point becomes the focal point. Show something impossible that couldn’t happen becoming a reality. MC Escher’s crazy drawings. Lee likes to do illogical solutions for logical problems. Guy Billout: does something unexpected in each piece. Always ask self, Why am I drawing this piece? How can I make this interesting? If it’s not interesting draw more thumbnails until it is. There needs to be interest to it or some sort of storytelling. Lee tries to do something that is unexpected in each piece. There has to be some sort of hook to it, whether it is in the environment, etc. In Summary How to tell a story with your art: Every image spurs a question in your viewer. Every image should elicit an emotional response in the viewer. Always include a character or some evidence of a character. Use small details to add more depth to your images. Don’t show the climax, focus on the before or the after. Use composition and point of view Give the viewer something to explore Tell the story using lighting. Show something impossible becoming a reality. LINKS Svslearn.com Jake Parker: mrjakeparker.com Instagram: @jakeparker, Youtube: JakeParker44 Will Terry: willterry.com. Instagram: @willterryart, Youtube: WillTerryArt Lee White: leewhiteillustration.comInstagram: @leewhiteillo Alex Sugg: alexsugg.com Tanner Garlick: tannergarlickart.com. Instagram: @tannergarlick 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.
8 May 2019
Your Creative Bank Account
Your Creative Bank Account 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. 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 “connecting 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, such as film, music, movies, books 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 - Your own personal experience, for example travel and 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 months of getting his house ready to go on the market. Then he had this cool experience 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-ignited 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? Fantasty, 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 routine 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 to 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] Share what you experienced. Talk to someone, write a blog post or journal about it, condense the experience to a phrase/tweet. 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. 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. Now looking back on it, 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. 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 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 IlLISTration: 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.comInstagram: @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.
11 Jul 2018
Our first mailbag episode! Lee, Will, and Jake will be answering 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. Link SVS Forum 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”. Jake’s Finished Not Perfect YouTube 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 Terry Bonnepart Falls Apart 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. SVS Learn Website 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 address in a Third Thursday. 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. Q: 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 hipsters and listen to London Grammar, Florence and the Machine, Foster the People. Jake: Help by the Beatles would be a great children's book. Will: Permission to love. Will’s Peguin’s Dancing to Permission to Love Beatles YAY or NAY?!?! Q: What is the biggest mistake that amateur 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? Amateur 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 factors 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 choices now. The school is not guarantee to work. Build your portfolio. LINKS svslearn.com Jake Parker, http://mrjakeparker.com. Instagram: @jakeparker, Youtube: JakeParker44 Will Terry, http://willterry.com. Instagram: @willterryart, Youtube: WillTerryArt Lee White, http://leewhiteillustration.com. Instagram: @leewhiteillo forum.svslearn.com Podcast production and editing by Aaron Dowd. Show notes by Tanner Garlick.
13 Jun 2018
How to Be the Best Art Student
How to Be The Best Art Student Will got a letter from a listener who shared that her favorite episode was the first episode, “My Art is Great, Why Won’t Anyone Hire Me?” She requested an episode where we focus again on that and expand more on that topic. She also said that “and by the way that is the best episode you guys have ever done thanks to Will Terry.” Will may have embellished the letter some! She continued by saying something along the lines of, "The idea of self audits is great and I am taking to heart the idea of really honing my craft over the next year. I would like to know as an artist taking your classes the best method to take and absorb those classes since I only have a few hours in a day after work to learn and get better." So that’s what we want to talk about today. We will split this episode into 2 parts: Part 1: How to Be the Best Art Student Part 2: How to Get the Most Out of Our Classes at SVSLearn.com and Online Learning We did these things called 3rd Thursday’s and they were Webinars that we did live and then we would put the recording of it on Youtube. We put all of those webinars on SVSLearn.com. So we are taking some content from one of our Third Thursdays from a while back and presenting it in a more creative way. Part 1: How to Be the Best Art Student, 5:35 Addressing Poor Mindsets: “I’m going to art school to get a degree.” First off, in all the years that Jake worked for studios and being apart of the process of looking at portfolios for people that they wanted to hire, never once did they ask if the applicant went to school. The portfolio always was first. They always would look at their portfolio to see if they could do the work and then they would ask what school they went to but wouldn’t check if they graduated or anything. The degree, as far as the real world is concerned in concept art, in children’s books, etc. does not matter, what matters is that you can do the work. It’s a meritocracy. It’s all based on ability. How well can you perform the task? Would you say that people who have gotten far enough in a degree program should quit? If it is your last semester and there isn't a job offer yet, then finish it out. If there is a job opportunity that is available and it is what you are going for, it might not make sense to turn that job offer down just to finish out that last semester, and then if you are ever in a position to you can go back and finish that last semester. But we're pretty sure that once you are working in that field that you are wanting to work in and you are good, and already getting job offers as a student then you will keep progressing and odds are you’ll keep getting better and never look back. Unless you want to teach for a University at some point, if there still are Universities in 10 or 20 years. Some job postings do require a degree. But really it all comes down to if you can do the work. If you have a great portfolio, and show you can do the work and especially if you already have some experience under your belt. There will be some companies that want you to get a degree. It's all about your portfolio and skill set. You could have two people who graduate from school and they both graduate and get a degree, however one of them may have worked 2, even 4, even 10 times harder. That person will be so much more prepared for the job field. If the prize was the degree then they will get killed in the job market. Maybe mom and dad will be happy about the degree, but it’s all about the learning. The mindset you should be trying to develop as a student is don’t have your eye set on the degree. The degree should be the byproduct of you trying to get the experience to get a job. Looking at the college kids that Jake works with as assistants, everything they are doing to get that degree is totally going to help them get a job. But it is not about the degree, it is about the experiences they are getting as they work towards that degree. Your senior project or your final art show, that should be the thing that gets the employer’s eyes on your work and interested in you not the degree. Will would give himself assignments or choose to do different assignments that he felt would get him closer to his goals in terms of portfolio. His classmates would sometimes get freaked out and ask him what he was doing and he would say that he was wanting to do freelance after graduating and that he was focused on preparing his portfolio. There is a middle ground with ignoring what your teachers are asking you to do. Lee would ask for permission to adapt assignments and would shoehorn what the teacher said to what he wanted to do. He would do what worked best for him and his portfolio. Jake had an assignment to draw himself as an animal and instead of doing a portrait, he did a landscape with animals in the background, because he wanted to do a piece that could become a part of his portfolio, and he ended up using the piece in his portfolio to get a concept art job. What Animal? We got into a random side note. What animal would we all be? Jake would be a horse, because that’s what he drew himself as in that animal self portrait assignment, plodding along in the distance. Lee would be a squirrel, like Scrat from Ice Age, he’s just scrappy like that and will stop at nothing to get what he wants. Will would be a walrus, chill with cool facial hair. Bonus, if you want to draw animal versions of us then share it with us, we’d love to see them. “This homework should not take me more than 12 hours based on university guidelines for out of class, in class ratios.” Some students are not willing to go beyond what the thing calls for. Some students are used to immediate rewards. Lee would have students come in saying, “I spent all night working on this!” And it turns out they had spent 3 or 4 hours, which is nothing. Lee’s average amount of time spent on a piece was 12 hours. Sometimes 9, sometimes 10 or 15 but the average was 12 hours from start to finish. How long do you need? The answer is, as long as it takes. Let’s say you spent 9 hours on a dud, and you budgeted 12, you have 3 hours to keep polishing that dud or you can start a new piece and sacrifice something else to have the time to finish it. Another thing to be wary of is the ‘speed class taker’. They are trying to take as many classes as they can to try and graduate a bit earlier. You should take fewer classes and allow yourself time to do the work, be able to mess it up and make mistakes and learn from them and do it again. Jake did this drawing of animals flying and his friend, Scotty Young told him that it was good but nothing special. So Jake redid it and pushed it a lot further. He spent 2 or 3 times as long on the second iteration. Jake’s first graphic novel was about 170 pages long and he timed it out the amount of time spent on each page was around 10-14 hour and that was around a year, while working a full time job. If you really want something you have to learn to get that thing done. Perhaps college is the best place to learn that, where you go from amateur to professional by one by one doing these assignments and after each one evaluate what you did well on it and what you can do better. How could you have spent more time on it, and better yet focused time. Until eventually you don’t even bat an eye if you have to redo something. In a year: what is your percentage of illustrations that you feel are your best work and better than the rest, that you really love a lot more than your other stuff you did. As a pro mostly everything you do should be at least okay, usually pretty acceptable. Then there are those ones that people really respond to and have that special quality to them, for Lee, he is stoked if he can get a couple really awesome pieces in a year. Every year Jake does 1, 2, or 3 pieces where he feels he really leveled up and they act as a benchmark for the following years. Even as professionals, the work created is still professional, but only a few pieces a year are seen as extraordinary compared to previous work. So if you are a student even if you are working very hard, not everything is going to be absolutely amazing. So it becomes a game of numbers, if you want to get a some stellar pieces done you need to do a bunch of pieces and work. Lee would review senior portfolios and he noticed that everything would look nice and cohesive but would usually come across one that was really over rendered. He learned that they came from the students rendering classes and they couldn’t give them up because they had spent so much time on them. “This is how I make my art, it’s unique, the teachers need to help me with my vision.” You can say that after you’ve learned the fundamentals; after you’ve learned composition, light and shadow, some color theory, some anatomy, perspective, proportion, and line quality. Once you have figured those things out, then you have the freedom to say, “Now I want to do my style this way and this is how I draw.” Up until then that’s a crutch and you can use it as something to lean on. Jake likes to compare art to music. You can’t just step up to a piano and pluck the keys with awful timing and make up your own stuff and expect it to be good. You have to master the fundamentals. Once you can play the basics then you can start to mess around more. “Don’t let your style be the byproduct of weakness.” That is an out, it makes you feel good, but really it is a lie. Mary Grandpre, you look at those and they are really well done, but perspective is not really all there. Some objects have dimension and there are objects that are more designy. She can draw that way if she wants to, but could draw them all “more correctly.” She does this deliberately and she can because she has earned it. Student’s want the teacher to support their vision. How many students would enter a college level writing class, and argue that the teacher shouldn’t critique their work but support their vision. The teacher will surely point out bad sentence structure, bad grammar, too many main ideas in a paragraph, etc. All art is the same, they all have a lot of similar principles. You can’t get around it, you never will get mad because you have good draftsmanship and you learned to draw something well. Even Jake is still learning. He has been working on relearning anatomy, he has leveled up a lot just since he started studying it more since a few months ago. He has already seen his drawings level up since he’s been studying this stuff. If you think you’re done learning, you’re not. This is a lifelong pursuit, and you need to be committed to lifelong learning. You need to have an open mind and be open to receiving feedback. Will identified all of these problems that his students had. Every year it’s the same: there are 3 or 5 that really get it and are doing really good, and then on the other hand there are a few who don’t get it at all and are not present, the rest are in between. In 9 years teaching over there, he has only seen like 3 or 4 students who went from the lower or middle section to the high section. He had one student who after school Will was really impressed with how her work had leveled up a lot, he asked her why she had gotten so good and she shared that, she looked around and she realized that her work wasn’t at the level as everyone else’s. So she decided to make a change. Still doesn’t know why she was able to do that, while others really struggle. Lee had a friend in school and they all shared their portfolios with each other that they used to get accepted to their program. His portfolio was not that great and it matched his classwork. He was pretty clumsy and not much of a stand out for those first couple of terms. And then around the 4th term he really started to stand out some more and started to have some pretty good pieces from time to time. By the time that they left he was smoking, he was so good. He really did his very best with everything, every assignment, starting with the basics. And he just did it right, he really transformed as an artist. It was not through talent, but due to sheer hard work and listening to feedback. Will loves to see that transformation. Will went through that transformation himself and now he loves to see that transformation in his own students. The cool thing about teaching is that you can find teachers that really resonate with your learning style. How to Know if You’re Good 5 Common Denominators that show you are getting good enough to start making a living at this: People naturally gather around your work, without you having to point it out. You’ll start to win things: contests, awards, etc. You start getting unsolicited recommendations, “I want to introduce you to, so and so”, “You should consider applying to such and such.” You start getting scholarships. You start getting paid, you have people that start asking you to do things for money. It’s the people who put their head down and just work. They don’t keep their head down and work in a vacuum but they learn from other people too. Do Not’s Will’s list of things you should avoid as a student (and as a professional). Chronically late Chronically unfinished work Always talking and having side conversations during lectures Always giving excuses and shifting the blame Asking the teacher to change the assignment (if this is a norm, rather than an exception) The last person set up to paint Feel guilty because they haven’t made progress since the last time you were given a critique Wearing headphones during class, half of your learning is going to happen from the people sitting around you. If you are not hearing side conversations or building friendships, you are missing out on a lot of learning. Overly critical during critiques, but their work was unfinished or sloppy. Packing up 15 minutes early. Leaving class early. Turning in scribble sketchbooks, if you don’t want to do it, just don’t do it. The art director from Sony was giving a lecture on, “How to Make Me Hire You” and there was a student clickety clacking typing on their keyboard really loud and they weren’t taking notes. Lee was furious and really got after his students after the lecture for being so disrespectful. Pencil Mileage Jake had this student that was just heads and shoulders above the rest of the class. Jake asked her why she was so good, and what her process was. She said that since the 7th grade she filled a sketchbook every month until now she was 22. So a lot of growth comes from pencil mileage. Kim Jung Gi: he is the guy who can draw for hours creating a mural without any reference and draws with straight ink. We were talking about this and why he is so good and we decided that it probably came down to: He just loves drawing, even more than those of us who really love it. He probably draws from morning till night everyday. He loves drawing to the point that his life is maybe not quite balanced. Don’t drop the ball when people are counting on you. People who get hired are people who are fellow working student’s friends and people who did good on group assignments. Don’t be a person who bombs it at a group assignment. Part 2: How to Get the Most Out of Our Classes at SVS Don’t treat it like Netflix and just have it playing in the background, instead watch the videos, do the assignments, get a sketchbook for notes, and take notes. Look at it as your school, and really take it seriously and treat it as your school. Look at your schedule and see what you can do daily and then try and have a day in the week where you can give 3 or 4 hours to apply what you are learning. Really evaluate your goals. What do you really want to get out of it. A lot of people say that they want to work professionally. But do you really want to work professionally full time? Maybe you just want to do some freelance on the side, maybe you are trying to get better to do a personal project, maybe it’s just a hobby. It’s important to take inventory on your goals so you can approach your education more wisely and strategically. Attack classes appropriately. Post and participate on the forum. Give and take. Take the classes that attack those different weaknesses that come up in critiques. It’s not Netflix, there’s this weird phenomenon where when you are watching someone do something it seems so easy that you feel like you could do it too. Lee would watch these tutorials, of Feng Zhu a concept artist on Star Wars, and feel that “Yeah i can do that!” Then when he would try and replicate it he would totally flounder. You need to put the pen to paper and put some marks down to learn, you can’t learn just from watching it. Until your hand has done it, you haven’t learned it. If you only have a couple hours a day, you shouldn’t put the pressure on yourself that someone who is in art school full time (9 hours a day of class). You should take one class at a time and really go through that class thoroughly. Sometimes people run through the classes and it doesn’t really show fully in their work. We have talked about having illustration tests and that hopefully we would have enough staff at that time that we can give you a critique on your illustrations, like we do in our interactive classes. Take it slow, when starting to post on the forum, and make sure you are looking at other people’s work and sharing comments and feedback. The atmosphere on the forum is extremely supportive. It’s a nice community Sometimes it is hard to get an honest critique out of people, they might say, “Well, I’m not an instructor, but this is my opinion…” You don’t have to be an instructor to give valuable critique and feedback, your opinion is valuable. You should go in there and read and engage and then people will be more willing and happy to give you a critique on your work. Be specific about what you are looking for in a critique. There are a lot of things that can be learned from this episode. If you are already a professional, you can look at it as how can I be the best professional that I can be? Best of luck with being the best student and lifelong learner that you can be! We are all learning. LINKS Svslearn.com Jake Parker: mrjakeparker.com Instagram: @jakeparker, Youtube: JakeParker44 Will Terry: willterry.com. Instagram: @willterryart, Youtube: WillTerryArt Lee White: leewhiteillustration.comInstagram: @leewhiteillo Alex Sugg: alexsugg.com Tanner Garlick: tannergarlickart.com. Instagram: @tannergarlick If you like this episode, please share it, subscribe, and we’d love it if you left a review! These p odcasts 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.
28 Feb 2019
Should You Do Fanart?
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, http://mrjakeparker.com. Instagram: @jakeparker, Youtube: JakeParker44 Will Terry, http://willterry.com. Instagram: @willterryart, Youtube: WillTerryArt Lee White, http://leewhiteillustration.com. Instagram: @leewhiteillo forum.svslearn.com Podcast production and editing by Aaron Dowd. Show notes by Tanner Garlick.
30 May 2018
How Much Will You Make in Illustration?
9: How Much Will You Make In Illustration? 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] Does it pay well? [20:28] Is it creative or challenging and taking you in the direction you want to go? [20:36] 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 book 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 Animation Video Games TV 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 comicon: 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 video: Pricing Question: 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 Question: 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.comInstagram: @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.
25 Jul 2018
A Day in The Life of An Illustrator
Have you ever wondered what your life might be like if you were an illustrator? In this episode we want to give you a sneak peak into the secret life of illustrators. We will go over what a typical day looks like, some of the biggest frustrations with this lifestyle, and some of the reasons being an artist is so wonderful and rewarding. Sorry, we just wanted to apologize for the audio quality of this episode; Lee has been 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 t 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. The number of things that you You might do a couple 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.comInstagram: @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.
5 Sep 2018
Difficulties of Being an Illustrator
3 Point Perspective Podcast is sponsored by SVSLearn.com, the place where becoming a great illustrator starts!Click here to find the links for this episode and to see this episode's illustration.
1 Jan 2020
Building A Strong Portfolio
3PP 29 Curating Your Portfolio New class that launches this month! Gina Lee’s Art Licensing Class: Part 2. She has artwork that she is still making money from, thousands of dollars, that she made in college, that is getting printed on bags, shower curtains, etc. If you want to learn how to do that, check that out at SVSLearn.com! Because Will has his Youtube Channel, does this podcast, and teaches for SVS Learn, he often gets asked a lot to give people portfolio reviews. Handout: A list of 100+ things to include in your children’s book portfolio, at the bottom of the show notes. Portfolio Reviews The main thing that Will will ask people when giving them a portfolio review is: “What type of work do you want to get?” And he will normally get one of two responses: I don’t know, I just want to work as an artist in some illustration market. More specific: I want to do [comics, children’s books, graphic novels, or animation.] Advice for people who don’t know: if you don’t know what market you want to go into, then there is no way you can make a portfolio that will please an art director and make them want to hire you. Art directors are pretty literal. If you think that you are good at rendering, then you may think that you could draw anything well, and that the art director will recognize that because you showed your rendering prowess. That is not the case, you have to show it! It really is so specific. Whatever you show, literally, that’s the thing you will be asked to do. If you have a couple of illustrations with chickens in them, then you may become known as the chicken guy! You as an artist know that if you can draw a human figure well, then you can draw just about anything. But that’s not how art directors see it. Art director’s have to protect their reputation. This is their career and they want to be well known and respected, and someday become creative directors. They don’t want a curveball. They will usually go for the sure bet. You Need a Business Plan Lee often asks the same question as Will: “What type of work do you want to get?” That question says: How are you going to be in business? It drives the image and everything else: who the market is? how the market pays? how you get paid? how many illustrations you have to do in a month? how images are licensed? how the pay structure works? do you know how the business works and which direction you want to go in this business? Etc. This is important stuff to research and know ahead of time. So essentially, when asking, “What type of work do you want to get?” We are asking, “What’s your business plan?” This is a business and you need to have a business plan. If you are at the point where you are trying to get work, it is vital that you understand this. For example: You need to be able to say, “I’m going to work in editorial illustration, focused on these markets..., I want to work with these magazines…., and this is the type of work that they are doing.. Here’s my work and how it fits in there...” And then as a critiquer, we could tell you, “I would recommend, you take these 4 images and make them into post card mailers and send them out, and then alternate them monthly with this email marketing plan…” The more focused and specific you are, the better advice and critique you will be able to receive. A business plan is an evaluation of the current market and your particular direction. Who’s getting work right now? Where is the majority of the work being hired? Are the rates going up or down? Who are your main competitors? What do you have that they don’t have? What’s your competitive advantage? What will help you get hired instead of them? You need to be able to answer those questions. This is a very smart, logical way to approach your work. To the person who says,“I don’t know what I want to do, I just want to work somewhere.”: You can always change it, but you will be treading water if you don’t have a plan. You need to have a definite plan. So let’s get rid of the art side of this for a minute. Let’s say you have a $100,000 and your friend has a business plan that they want to pitch you. So you go and meet them at a cafe and say, “Okay, pitch me your idea.” They say, “I want to open a pizza place.” You say, “I’ve got $100,000 that I could invest in your place. Okay, where’s it going to be? How are you going to compete? What’s your secret?” “Oh, I don’t know.” “How much is it going to cost?” “Oh, I don’t know.” “What materials are you going to need? What’s your advertising plan?”? “Oh, I don’t know, I don’t have an advertising plan.” Would you give that person $100,000? With what we are talking about it’s even worse: “I want to open a restaurant.” “Okay, what kind?” “I don’t know.” We have got to be smarter than that. Artists do that, here is most artist’s 3 Step Business Plan: 1. Make an image, 2. Post image, 3. Sit back and pray that something happens and that they get hired. We’re only half joking. Any other business would die with that model. They have to know their product and their customer. We do have a product. With art, sometimes we get too attached to it, and it is really personal. People can get so personally attached to their work. However, ultimately if you want to make an income from it, it is a product and you have to look at it as such, as a product. That’s what it is and you need to think about, “how much it’s worth, where it’s bought and sold, etc.” There’s nothing wrong with making art but you aren’t going to make a living at it. If you just want to make art for the sake of making art, or just for fun, that’s totally fine and good, but you aren’t going to make a living with it. To The Person Who Wants to Do Everything Sometimes Will still gets the comment, “You keep telling me I need to pick a market to work in, but I just want to work in all of them. I’m just excited, I love comics, I love illustration, I love licensing, I love animation, I just want to get hired anywhere, I don’t care.” Pick one as your main, and then dabble in the other ones. Then if you see success in one of those other areas then maybe you can start to lean there more. Pick the one that you know you can actually make some money at and can support yourself in. Nothing else will exist if you can’t support yourself. You need to have some sort of financial engine to support yourself. It’s like a Venn Diagram, one circle: the thing I’m good at, and the other circle, where there are opportunities. You want those to overlap as much as possible. For example with concept art, The technical side of it is so difficult, but interest is high, but usually a person’s ability to do it is low, and it is also very, very competitive. How many musicians are good at all types of music, how many restaurants are good at serving all types of food, how many karate studios teach all types of martial arts? If you don’t know where you want to go, and you’d be happy anywhere, and art directors won’t hire you based off of your work, then do a focused project to help build your portfolio. For example, let’s say your subject matter is all over the place, you don’t have any sequential art in your portfolio. However, comics, children’s books, and graphic novels are all based off of sequential art. So you create a project, i.e. write and illustrate a graphic novel, it could be a section or part of a graphic novel or a children’s book. It could be as few as 3-5 pieces of sequential art. Do that 3-4 times with a particular market. And then you have a portfolio that could attract an art director. You can focus on classics like your spin on Little Red Riding Hood, something that’s in the public domain, that the art director will recognize and have an emotional connection pre established with that story. Make new images for portfolios, no matter where you are in your career. Do research: i.e. List 5 people or companies that buy this type of work, look at how much these jobs pay, who are the art directors that work at these companies that do this type of job? I.e. Concept board book, go to Chronicle in San Francisco, would start to look at what they had done in the past and art directors that worked on those projects. You are in a sense, preempting what you want to do. You are doing research beforehand to tailor what you want to do. A lot of people do scary stuff but it doesn’t really work for children’s books. Editor, wants to see if you can carry a character from one page to the next, can you draw kids that are cute and appealing, can you draw different ethnicities and genders, can you demonstrate that you can use a variety of compositions, etc? So if you show up with a Friday the 13th Portfolio, it won’t be a good fit for children’s books. Phases of Your Art Career It takes a long time to develop a portfolio. Phases of your art career: Phase 1, “Wow, I can make something look realistic!” Being able to make something look like it is jumping off the page. Phase 2, “Wow, I’m better than my friends and family, I might be able to do this as a career” Phase 3, “Wow, I’m even better than some of my art friends.” Phase 4, “I’m not getting work yet, I need to get some critique.” That’s the stage where a lot of students that come to Will are at. Phase 5, “Man, I have so much work to do to develop a great portfolio” Start to become humbled because they realize where they are weak and where they need to improve. Phase 6, “I need to start publishing my own work, to get seen.” At this stage, a lot of people are really good and have great portfolio’s but aren’t getting noticed yet. In publishing in the last 12-15 years there has been a pretty dramatic change, this has allowed people to skip the line. Before there were basically 2 lines, the authors, and the illustrators. But now a 3rd line has emerged: the author/illustrators. I.e. Mo Willems, Dan Santat. It seems that the other two lines have slowed. While the 3rd line has sped up. It’s cheaper to work with a writer/illustrator. When Lee graduated he had a hodgepodge portfolio. Lee did a set of paintings his senior year of 10 people who set weird world records. But no one really asked him, what market they were for. Lee went to New York with some stuff that was children’s books, his world records paintings”, some landscape paintings, also a series of the Grimm Fairy Tales (darker stuff) that were all done in a children’s style. Basically it was hodgepodge of images that he liked. He is glad that the people he showed work to could see potential in him, and he got some work and found his agent there. Batman Syndrome Batman Syndrome: some people want to be all Batman and no Bruce Wayne. They want to spend all their time having fun, fighting crime, and driving a cool car. But Batman doesn’t exist without Bruce Wayne. Bruce Wayne, spends time in the real world, he foots the bills, and does research, networking, protects Wayne enterprises. All of that needs to happen for Batman to be able to go out and have fun fighting crime. That’s how Jake was at the beginning of his career, he just wanted to have fun doing illustrations, graphic novels, working in animation, dabbling with 3D. But in order to really succeed you need to learn to embrace both the fun art side (Batman) and the less fun business side (Bruce Wayne). That’s what we are asking of you. The fully actualized version of you is the person who can kick butt at art, and also kick butt at business. There is only one Batman, there is only one version of you as a fully developed “Batman”. You may not be there yet, there is no one who can compete with you because you have your own unique style, once you’ve arrived there. To go with the Pizza thing, if you are trying to compete with all of the restaurants in the world, then that is hard to compete. There is this Pizza chain in the South called, Mellow Mushroom, it’s got this giant mushroom everywhere, it’s a very psychedelic feel, the servers wear tie dye, it’s still pizza, but they stand out with their presentation and branding, they attract a younger more hip crowd. As an artist you have a better chance of separating yourself because you have your own unique voice. It takes a while to come up with your business plan, and it takes a while to build your style and the quality of your work up to where you can beat someone out. If you put your head down and work then it’s only a matter of time. It takes a lifetime commitment to being an artist and if you work hard you can do it. Some people come out of school and a few years later they have already bumped people out of line. For others it can take a decade or 2. Recommendation: stop drawing for a little while, not a month or anything like that. Sometimes artists are constantly moving the pencil, and feel a need to keep creating images and posting to Instagram. That’s great to always draw. But back up and ask, why am I drawing? Back up, look at the whole picture, why am I creating art. Do research and try to step back and be a little more informed. Trap with social media, “You need to feed the beast”, ultimately at the end of the day. Sometimes we spend so much time worrying about social media that we miss out on other things. Jake used to struggle with this, and we probably all do in one way or another. What have I created or not created because I spent so much time focused on my Instagram account? Take a step back, take a break from social media, do a dive on business and seeing how business works in illustration Go and see how business works, how it works with illustration. You’re art is going to grow but this business stuff is just as important. Where do you want to be in 5 years, 10 years? Be Deliberate A good example of pencil mileage and working smart is, Piper Thibodeau. She has worked for Dreamworks, Scholastic, and other publishers, it is all because of her daily paintings. But it wasn’t random. It was apart of her business plan and she was very deliberate and did her research. She has been doing this for years now. Pencil mileage is a real thing but being business-oriented is also vital. Sometimes people just create so much and don’t take time to think about and pilot their career. Take Work That Aligns With You and The Work You Want to Do Eventually you will be hired. But sometimes it’s not what you want. How do you decide what work you will take? Will turned down a dream job yesterday, for a board game, they wanted 10 character designs, and they had a small budget, but the deadline was just too tight. He told them if they gave him more of a heads up he would love to work with them another time. Lee has turned down more work than he has accepted. Will has a specific direction right now, SVS. This job would have pulled him away from that. We’re redesigning and reshooting our children’s book class, and expanding the sections, it will have better design, better filming ,better audio, better lessons, Jake and Lee will be teaching a lot more of it. We are going to be rolling this out starting in September dropping one course a month for a year. We will really parse what goes into it. We would like to think of it as the most comprehensive children’s book class in the world for illustrators. Anna Daviscourt, who Lee is working with as her mentor, she’s starting to get work and offers and Lee is helping her parse through everything and it’s easy to decide if it’s worth doing or not by seeing if it fits her artistic goals and style. Making Your Children’s Book Portfolio “Your work is a little too commercial for the children’s book market.” If you get that comment it’s probably because they don’t feel like your work will fit in with the styles that fit with the market. It’s probably a little too slick or cartoony compared to what you might see in children’s books. Want to do children’s books? Spend a lot of time at the library. What are your favorite 10 children’s books? Consume children’s books. Can you imagine a college basketball player who wants to play in the NBA but can’t name any of their favorite players? Go to the library or the book store, make lists of what the best books have in common? What do they not have? You really need to be familiar with the different styles. Will’s best advice, create an amalgam of your top 5 children’s book styles. Animation has a very specific look to it that isn’t a very great crossover, it wouldn’t work as well. There are people who are in this no man’s land, between animation and illustration, they are not really desirable by either industry. Not enough structure for animation, and not enough playfulness or approachableness for children’s books. Mixture of not understanding illustration vs. animation. Usually a student sketchbook, 95% of the sketchbook: faces and heads or bodies. Need character in an environment. And Characters interacting in an environment. Action and emotion that’s probably at the top of Will’s list for all pieces. Especially if you are wanting to focus on narrative illustration. Recently, Will had a portfolio where it was obvious that the first piece was the best piece and there were a lot of awesome things about it that were missing in the rest of the work, it’s time to bring the rest of the work up to par. Will knew a guy, Carry Henry, who redid his whole portfolio in 2 weeks. He went to New York, and the art director, told him that his work looked student and showed him what they were looking for. Carry spent 2 weeks in New York working on a portfolio, in a crappy Motel. He didn’t sleep for 2 weeks and was really serious about getting a job. Have you ever had a time when art was the only thing that you care about for a certain period of time, and you put aside everything for your art career. Have you ever tried that? Go to children’s book publishers websites, they show you what a successful children’s book illustrator portfolio looks like. When you are new, your whole portfolio should cycle every 6 months. Portfolio Perfection 100+ Things you need to include in your children’s book portfolio. Formats and sizes: spot illustrations, vignettes, full page, spreads, room for text, covers Color schemes: full color, black and white, monochrome Ages: adults, teens, children, baby Gender: girls, boys, men, women Race: asian, Indian, Hispanic, Caucasian, African Groups Activities: families, friends, classmates, co-workers Character Consistency: animals, humans, creatures Animals: anthropomorphised: amphibians, mammals, fish, reptiles, insects, birds Creatures: robots, dragons, monsters, aliens, ghosts Vehicles: cars, trucks, busses, boats, planes, construction equipment, submarines, space ships Props: household items, garage, kitchen, farm, office, food, bathroom, attic, school, games, toys Environments: interiors, exteriors, modern, vintage, ancient, houses, apartments, land, sea, earth, outer space, dessert, forest, tropical, arctic Seasons and weather: winter, spring, summer, fall, rain, lightning, wind, snow, fog, cold, hot Lighting: morning, noon, evening, night, spotlight, fire, ambient, on camera, on camera hidden, off camera Surfaces: shiny, matte, textured, furry, translucent, rough Action: falling, breaking, sliding, moving fast, running, jumping, flying, rolling, skidding Emotion: anger, excitement, happiness, sadness, fear, confidence, curiosity, love, sleeping, pain Scale: huge objects, tiny objects Camera Angles: establishing, close ups, medium, distant, high angle, low angle, profile, dynamic, POV. Complex Images: multiple figures, multiple objects LINKS Svslearn.com Jake Parker: mrjakeparker.com Instagram: @jakeparker, Youtube: JakeParker44 Will Terry: willterry.com. Instagram: @willterryart, Youtube: WillTerryArt Lee White: leewhiteillustration.comInstagram: @leewhiteillo Alex Sugg: alexsugg.com Tanner Garlick: tannergarlickart.com. Instagram: @tannergarlick 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.
22 May 2019
Networking for Artists
Networking 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. 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] Search online, check hashtags, follow & Like SVS Forum or general online forums 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 Family: Are you here alone, where are you from, are you the only artist in your family? Occupation: What do you do for a living, is it a hobby? Recreation: What do you like to do for fun? This then warms people up for this question: 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] Attend a lunch or dinner, or host your own Create a critique group 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. Draw Lunch 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. Set up one-on-one meetings [35:44] 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 Artists 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 in an environment, interact with people, plug into groups and communities. You need others to succeed there is no doubt about that. 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. Building a universe one drawing at a time- Jake Parker. Build your brand around your shared purpose. 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 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 you group is not challenging you find different friends and create the group that you grow with! NETWORKING Challenge [01:07:46] At least one time this next week invited someone to do somethings 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.comInstagram: @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.
22 Aug 2018
Roadblocks to Success
Have you ever felt stagnant in your life or your career? We all encounter roadblocks and in this episode we go over some very common roadblocks that are encountered by everyone from the most beginning student to the most seasoned pro. We talk about how to get those roadblocks out of your way and how to be great and reach your full potential. Roadblocks to Success We give a lot of critiques to students and also to pros. It’s interesting how many times the same things come up in a critique. That is what we want to talk about today, “Roadblocks to Success.” Lee has seen a lot of the same things happening, not necessarily in an art piece, b in different artist’s growth. What gets in the way? Why don’t people logically improve consistently over time? If you look at an artist’s growth and career it looks like a stock chart with ups and downs. You see some of the same things happen from the most beginning student to the most seasoned pro. We want to talk about those things and how to get those roadblocks out of your way, how to be great and how to reach your potential. Roadblock #1, No clearly defined goals or understanding of where they are going; they are trying to do everything all at once. There are a lot of students who are working really hard but might not be as focused as they could be. They are going to life drawing, doing Inktober, and taking 3 classes in school, they are trying to do everything, or there is the early professional with everything in their portfolio. Art schools are often patterned after the 4 year university curriculum, and they have all of these different skills and classes they require students to take and sometimes it just isn’t set up in the best way possible. You need a target to be shooting for. Sometimes in school we have to do a character design, then a book cover, then a concept piece. You can’t do all things. Lee would have students bring their business cards in and work on branding at the beginning of one of his classes, and students would bring cards up and they would say, “John Smith: Illustration, Concept Design, Storyboarding, Graphic Design, 3D Modeling.” you may have done each of those things but that doesn’t mean that you are able to produce at a professional level in each of those fields. Sometimes that thinking continues after people graduate and they can flounder with their portfolio. They haven’t picked their market yet. Art is very business related. Lee was judging January's SVS Monthly Art Contest just recently and got a great question. There was an honorable mention, for the topic “Big”, and in the illustration the artist (Aleksey Nisenboym) drew these leprechauns or gnomes around this giant glass of beer and they were all knocked out from drinking so much; the illustration was done in a children’s book style and the great question came: “Is this okay for a children’s book portfolio?” This was such a good question because this artist knew the market and target that they wanted to hit. Look at how you can fit in a field. There are two things here: There is focus and there is goals. We sympathize with the young 20 something year old artist who is kind of good at everything, when you are kind of good at everything you could go in any direction that you want. So you tend to try it all out. You try everything, you try some modeling, you do some illustration, some comics, etc. Jake’s advice is: Have fun, try as much as you can, but see where there’s opportunity, and follow that opportunity if it aligns with your goals. If you don’t have a clear goal for where you want to see yourself at age 30 or where you want to see yourself at age 40, then you aren’t going to focus in on the right things. Go out and experience those things and see what you are good at and see what you like, you may not be as good at that thing but if you enjoy it then that could mean a better level of success for you, in the long run. Then lean in on the thing that you like the most, the thing that you’re good at, the thing that you like and the thing that has those opportunities there for you. Jake’s Venn Diagram: What You’re Good At, What You Like to Do, Where the Opportunities Are. How do you figure out what you’re good at? First, do it. Then see how people respond to it. Show it to a mentor, post it online, see how people respond to it. Being good at something you don’t really care for. Lee did a bunch of architectural design to make money, even though he didn’t love it, but then was totally focused on children’s books and was always doing that on the side. Short term goal: pay your rent this month. Long term goal: where do I want to be as an artist in 10 years? Focus Some businesses in Japan have like 100 year business plans (that’s just a ballpark number, it’s some big number like that). We need to do more of that. A lot of artists are kind of just doing their next piece and go from piece to piece not thinking about the underlying reason and how it fits with their portfolio. Sometimes we just go with the flow and draw whatever is most convenient and what we feel like rather than really being deliberate and focused on what we need to do for our portfolio. 11:40 Jake has this assistant (Tanner Garlick) and he was going to school and had classwork and part of that is making a portfolio to get a job and part of that is to get a degree. There were these different goals laid out in front of him: graduate and create a portfolio. Tanner worked with me and saw the projects I was doing and he came in one day after we had talked about the Draw 100 Somethings Project... The Draw 100 Somethings project is great at helping younger artists discover their style, and it is a great project for really tapping into your creativity and really flexing your creative muscles. Pick an object where there is room to find variations in it. You don’t want to be too broad though, you want to be specific. You wouldn’t say draw 100 space ships, but maybe it’s 100 single seat fighter jets. It’s not a TIE fighter one day and a star destroyer the next day, but maybe you do 100 different TIE fighters. How many variations of TIE fighters could you design if you did 100 of them? Jake did this project with these little robots, who all had the same face, but they had different bodies and were all meant to do different jobs or tasks. They pushed him creatively and he learned so much from this project. You do the first 20 and you really feel like you are all out of ideas, so you put it on the backburner for a month and then you’ll have another idea that will spark another 10 drawings, and by the time you reach 100 you will have really grown a lot and learned so much about creativity. (Sidenote: Jake ended up doing 200 of those guys.) So Tanner saw this and said that he wanted to do 100 Pirate animals, Jake thought the idea was cool and gave him his stamp of approval. And then as he started working on it and was planning out his year and seeing how he could fit this in, Jake said, “hold on, let’s take a step back for a minute, you have some important goals in front of you. You need to graduate, and you need to get a portfolio that is good enough to get a job. Is this project applicable to those things? Will it help you accomplish those goals?” And his assistant realized that Jake was right, and that working on this project would actually put off him getting his portfolio ready to get a job and would put off him being able to finish assignments in order to graduate. So he took a step back and realized that this wasn’t the time for him to do this and that he could do it later when he had more time to focus on it. So now he has zeroed in on his portfolio and schoolwork, and actually had an interview and accepted a job offer to work at a cool startup studio here in Utah. So it comes down to what is your focus? Just because it is something that you are good at, or interested in, or is fun, doesn’t mean that is the thing you should focus on to achieve your goals. We gravitate towards easy. Some of the things we ask you in this project are not easy. Like what is your focus or what do you need to do for your portfolio, those things are harder and take a lot more thought. While on the other hand doing a Mermay drawing is easy, it is a concrete thing, the subject matter is already spelled out for you, it’s not abstract, you don’t have to worry about it. I’m going to go and do the easy thing, it’s not necessary easy but it is a more concrete and more spelled out and you can veer off of what the path should have been. Sometimes you have to choose the harder right, instead of the easier wrong. Lifestyle and Focus You can get sidetracked with a different project. There are many sidetrack distractions. I.e. Video games. Downtime is good in moderation. Will has had students who were focused and students who were not focused, and he likes to make analogies to non art people, because they are relatable but maybe not hitting too close to home. Recently Will watched the documentary Free Solo, and in it, Alex Hammel, this incredible rock climber, has spent his whole life climbing and is living in a van (probably down by a river) and that is so he can travel and be closer to the rock faces that he climbs. His dedication to his craft, that pure dedication and what you have to sacrifice is one of the most inspiring things. The documentary is all about his climb of El Capitan, that he climbed without ropes in Yosemite. People in that community are calling it, “the moon landing of rock climbing.” When he started rock climbing, there was no contract saying that if he did this he would get paid. Sometimes as artists we say that we won’t do anything unless we have contracts. Although it is good to set up contracts to protect ourselves. If you are an artist you do need to unwind sometimes. But for most successful artists, they have a period of their lives where their lives were maybe not quite balanced. There are usually a couple of years where you really have to lean into it, it’s not just a 9-5 in the beginning. You have to really sacrifice and “bleed” for your art. This guy, Alex Hammel literally bleeds for his work. Endorsements, and the money all came secondary to the sacrifice. He had the goal and was already doing it before all of that. Prior to doing the Solo climb, he completely removed himself from social media and decided he could not do anything that could become a distraction. Maybe you need to zero in and finish your project and maybe for the next 6 months, it’s only once a week I am going to go out with friends, or once a week watch a movie, or play a video game. And the rest of the time it’s eat, sleep, and draw. If you go to a skate park you see these kids doing amazing things on a skateboard. They were not born that way but they love it and they skate all the time and make plenty of mistakes in the process, and that’s where the real learning happens. When you go into a college art class that should be our skatepark. Sometimes it seems like people are avoiding it, when that is their time to experiment, have fun, and really learn. Those kids in these skateparks, more often than not they fall, they fail. These guys pay for it, for us as artists we just throw a bad drawing away. Lee had a critique with the artist, Anna Daviscourt, one of the Adobe resident he mentors. They were talking about getting some quicker work because the children’s book industry can be so slow moving. They decided to focus on adding some book covers to her portfolio. They wanted to choose something that art directors would recognize, and she said she wanted to do Harry Potter covers. Probably the hardest thing possible, it’s been done twice recently and both times has been done really well, so it will take a lot to stand out. She did a bunch of thumbnails and showed them to Lee and he told her that they looked like Harry Potter covers, they weren’t great yet, she was imitating the look that was already there. He told her, “Here’s the story, but who are you in relationship to Harry Potter, what are you going to do to really stand out?” They had to really fight for it, she did some pretty good ones, but they weren’t as aligned with the nuance of the story. They kept working at it and eventually she ended up with something fantastic. It was great because they knew where they were going and they knew where this thing was going to live. It was so interesting as they talked and got into what works and what doesn’t, the work was good but it needed to be better. In school they want to keep you in the generalist category, they don’t want you to follow a specific style or artist too much. Will had this student he taught in a workshop, who had worked at Disney and left California because he didn’t have enough to support his family. He was totally supporting his family but they really wanted to be able to get a house with a yard and stuff. He wanted to “undisneyfy” himself. Everything he did looked like Disney. He had been there for 15 years, and he really struggled with that. The school are afraid of creating clones of another artist or of a teacher. That’s why in school we say to not do anime and want to help you see objects and shapes in a new way and see how to interpret them. It’s okay, early on to have some floundering. There is a certain amount of time for finding. If you are in that mode, then enjoy it and soak it up. The problem is when you are considering quitting your job but don’t know what you are going to do yet. Experiment, try things out, find that thing that you are good at but also where there is opportunity. Roadblock #2, Too much downloading, not enough uploading. Over conferencing, too many tutorials, looking too much, and not doing enough actual work. Everyone deals with this. You spend an hour on Art Station, Instagram, Pinterest. You find and save things that you like. You are triggering some of the same neurons that you do when you actually create art but at the end of the day you haven't created anything. You are spinning your wheels. Where you actually learn and improve is from doing the work; creating work and sharing it, putting it out there for people to see, that’s where the actual learning and growth happens. Lee’s Red Light System This is a system that Lee has developed to help him make sure he is maximizing productivity while minimizing distractions. Green light, you are good to go, you have pen to paper. Red light, you are reading the news, looking at Facebook, being distracted, or playing games. You shouldn't go there. If you catch yourself wasting time or being distracted, then head back to the green. Yellow light, that is tricky. Often, you do need to find reference and gather images. The yellow light is flashing, and you don’t want to spend too much time in this zone; you need to speed up or stop and go back to what you were doing. Avoid Over Conferencing How do you avoid overdoing it with that stuff? Critique groups and conferences, etc. “Terry’s Law”: The more you talk about doing work the less work you have actually done. Will sees some groups of people who go to SCBWI who go more for the social aspect than for the work aspect. They go year after year but don’t really progress much. Likewise, Will plays his bass for fun, but is honest with himself about it, he isn’t planning or hoping on going super pro because of it. Lee’s wisdom for conferences: Nothing worse than seeing the same person at conferences for 2-3 years in a row and they have the same manuscript or the same work. If you aren’t a professional tied up with lots of work, but if you are a student, you should have a new portfolio every 6 months. If you have a new portfolio every 6 months go to the conference and show that work off, you’re showing off an updated version of yourself. If you are bringing the same tired work year after year, then you need to work on creating new work, then when you are going to the conference you are really able to show off new work. What about the person who is taking care of their family and doesn’t have the time to generate that portfolio every 6 months? Like we mentioned before if you are that family guy and don’t have as much time, just be honest with yourself, realize that it will take longer and chip away at it. Long story short: Don’t replace real work with conferencing and tutorials. Regardless if it’s your portfolio or if you are also professional or semi professional, don’t let a year go by without you doing some sort of actual project, whether it you paid for, or if it is a personal project or some research and development and see how people and the market like it, how did they respond to it. If it’s a year or every 6 or 3 months. A year should be enough time to finish some sort of project and put your stamp of approval on it. If gives you something that will ensure you are actually spending time working on it and making sure it gets done, you’re creating something you can point towards, you can put it on your portfolio or your resume, it shows your latest work, or it can be a calling card. 42:30 Be Student B Please be student B, not student A. Will would have these classes where he would set up a still life and it was a class for beginners. Student A, would get set up, and they might be painting an apple or a lime or something. Will would ask them to spend the whole 2.5 hours working on the painting. Usually student A would only paint for half an hour and spent the rest of the time talking and visiting with others. Will would have explained and showed the students things to look out for and things to focus on during the class. They were more concerned with being done. They wanted him to tell them what to do. If you are going to play it smart, try to understand more of what is being asked of you. That is student B.Don’t just go through the motions and focus on just getting done, be willing to experiment, Be a tinkerer, be an inventor. Challenge yourself and always do your best work. If you have teachers who don’t do demos, you need to go find another school. There is nothing worse than a teacher who isn’t willing to step up to the plate and swing. Some teachers are either scared of their inadequacies, or they are just lazy. You should have teachers who are willing to demonstrate and show you what you need to do or possible solutions or ways of approaching a problem. Lee always did demos and all of his favorite classes included teacher demonstrations. Shoutout to Perry Stewart! Whenever Will had a class after him, Perry would still be in the room helping students and sometimes would still be helping students even after Will had started his class. He was not getting paid extra, he was dedicated. 49:03 Don’t Only Practice Another addendum to the over conferencing roadblock: students get into the practice mindset. Practice is good. But it’s not the best when you never really put it on the line and create something of consequence or something that is meaningful to you. If you never put something out there, you never risk failing. Sometimes you need to say, “This is the best that I could do, I hope you guys like it.” 50:13 Getting Around Cliches Lee sees cliches all the time, even at big conferences like CTN. Stuff like, “Monster Under the Bed”. Sometimes portfolios and things are just way to generic. You see this with style too, there is this LA animation style that is a modernized version of Marie Blair. When 100 people are doing the same thing, how can you set yourself apart? A good example of standing out is Cory Loftis. He is in this scene but he doesn’t do that flat painted style like a lot of other artists are doing. He’s got this classic Bugs Bunny, Looney Tunes, Chuck Jones style, mixed with the stuff that Disney does, mixed with this edgy modern style that comes from his time working on video games. He played a big part in Wreck it Ralph and Zootopia. He is really respected and looked up to. He is putting together dots. We all have these dots that we collect whenever you talk with someone, have an experience, or learn something new you have a new dot that you can connect to other dots. Whenever you create anything you are connecting dots. You can see the same pattern that someone else has created with their dots, and you take those 10 dots and add or switch out a couple of dots. But sometimes it can still feel derivative. A way to separate yourself is to find dots that others are not using. Anytime Loftis does personal work it is always super out there and different from what everyone else is doing. When Lee sketches out a concept in his sketchbook or on his iPad before painting it, there always this gap and he’ll spend a couple of days doing other stuff and then come back to it. He has this little list and he runs his concepts by this list before deciding to paint something. Lee always asks himself these questions: What about this is interesting? Has this been done before, and if so, am I adding any new information to this? If I answer yes to both of those, nothing is interesting and it’s been done before. Then the only place to go is, “Am I trying some really experimental painting technique that will add something different to it?” Monster under the bed? Yes, kids can relate to it. Has it been done before, yeah, a million times! Jake’s friend calls this the Pixar Pass, when something has been done a hundred times but you can do it and make it cool and refreshing, then people will give you a pass for it. So, Monsters Under the Bed? They did Monsters, Inc. and Monsters University. If you really knock it out of the park and do it in a really creative and interesting way, people will give you a pass. The Incredibles is like the Watchman meets the Fantastic 4 with a fun modern art style. If you do it right, you can make cliches feel really fresh. Add Irony Cliche topics, look and see what is out there and then add some kind of twist to it. In one of Lee’s character design classes they looked at different portfolios and realized that all of the monsters looked angry. So Lee gave them an assignment to make the scariest monster that you can and make it embarrassed or nice. Another was a prop assignment where they were to take some benign innocent looking object that would turn into some dangerous mechanism. Irony is really powerful to create fantastic stuff. Sometimes people just have poor tastes. Will saw how people drew faces, but wanted to do something original, and give people more geometric faces. Some sort of cubism. Upon sharing his idea with his professor, his professor told him, “I’ve seen people try to pull this off before (Lesson 1, You are not original) and it never works (Lesson 2, because it is not appealing).” Will was just trying to be different. Yes, it’s unique in a way, but it also has to be appealing. Appeal is an “X-Factor.” It’s very important but can be hard to teach. “Don’t be basic.” In Review: Roadblocks to Success: You don't have focus, and you don’t have specific goals. You are spending too much time going to conferences and watching tutorials, spinning your wheels and not enough time making actual work and progress on those goals. You aren’t digging deep enough to be original. You’re taking too much of a surface level approach to your work. Today’s episode is sponsored by SVS Learn.com. We’ve got a 7 day free trial, try it out and see if it’s the right thing for you and if you like the teachers and the teaching style. LINKS Svslearn.com Jake Parker: mrjakeparker.com Instagram: @jakeparker, Youtube: JakeParker44 Will Terry: willterry.com. Instagram: @willterryart, Youtube: WillTerryArt Lee White: leewhiteillustration.comInstagram: @leewhiteillo Alex Sugg: alexsugg.com Tanner Garlick: tannergarlickart.com. Instagram: @tannergarlick 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.
13 Mar 2019
Failure There are a few different types of failure: Low-level; these are the daily upsets and letdowns. Mid-level; they sting for like a week or a month. High-level; getting fired, getting divorced, these are life changing and really can be cause for a lot of introspection. Let’s start with a good quote, that’s how all good podcasts start, right? “People who succeed are people who failed but they keep going anyway.” Examples: Mohammad Ali. He lost his first fight and then, after the fight, was claiming that he would be the heavyweight champion of the world. Michael Jordan, didn’t make his 10th grade basketball team. This failure is the impetus of his success. This is what lit his inner fire. Babe Ruth, he had the home run record and the strike out record at the same time. He went for it everytime, it was all or nothing. Babe Ruth was so confident that he would point over the fence to say he was about to hit a homerun before going to bat. 7:07 Low-Level Failures When Lee started art school he came to it really without any experience drawing or painting. The first 3 or 4 terms were kind of rough. Every day Lee would sulk into class and he would have done his best on his paintings and then would look at what everyone else had done and he knew that he wasn’t at their level yet. It was a daily failure, for the first couple of terms. It was tough and he really struggled with it; it was quite disheartening. He came up with a way to get through it: He was going to do 100 paintings and the wouldn’t start being judgmental of his work until he hit 100 paintings. He would keep tick marks on a sheet until he got to 100 and by the time he got there he was way better and more confident. By 100 paintings Lee was starting to find his stride and get pretty good, at that point at least it wasn’t daily failure. One problem we have is that we look at failures as failures. We have also been conditioned to not look at trying and failing as a learning and forward moving experience. Everything in school is all about moving up, what grades did you get? Were you right or wrong? We’ve been conditioned to not use trial and error for learning. In school we don’t get a good grade for trying and failing. All the results we see with report cards are all about moving up. That conditions us in a bad way for being artists. That model is good for math, it’s either right or wrong, but with a painting there is not just a right or wrong way, sometimes you have to wipe the paint off and redo the painting but that failure was apart of the successful journey. Will once had a student and they wouldn’t try anything with paint and were so afraid to make a bad mark, they were paralyzed. Will thinks that this was because they weren’t ever rewarded for trying and failing. 12:30 Be 100 Percent Responsible Participation awards, now in youth sports there are always participation rewards, but kids know it is a game and there are actually winners. They know who won and who lost. There is another way to categorize failures: Caused by you, and your choices Caused by others, and their choices Caused by external forces. You can’t always control the outcome of the failure however, your reaction to failure is up to you. Typically Jake’s goal, regardless of what caused the failure, he tries to take as much responsibility as possible for what happened, or for fixing the situation moving forward. Hopefully that’s the lesson from any sort of failure, you’ve learned something, if it didn’t work you can check it off your list, okay this didn’t work, and then you can keep moving forward. No matter what happened you can check it off your box, whether or not you caused the failure. You don’t have to be a victim, you can choose learn, and then move forward. 15:00 Test Your Hypotheses Art and life really is a lifelong learning process both on the micro and macro level. You’re always testing your hypotheses. You can always be learning. “I tested those theories and they didn’t work and so I am going to change the process, or change…” That’s how Lee learned watercolors. Initially in almost every painting he would fail. Watercolors are really difficult to master. Lee would constantly fail in every painting and would get frustrated because he had to buy these big sheets of expensive paper. He decided that he would start painting with the mindset that each painting was a test. And then that shift in thinking really helped him, instead of “I wrecked that painting and wasted that piece of paper”, it was, “okay, next time I need to put more water down.” he moved from frustration to a growth mindset. Rocket scientists almost celebrate when a rocket explodes. If the launch is successful sometimes they don’t know if they just got lucky. However, when it fails they get all of this data to learn from to solve the problem and then when the next launch is successful, they know that they were able to solve the problem. Jake feels the same way and if something takes off he is a little uneasy wondering if he just got lucky or if it was really good. Will was an early adopter of E books on Amazon and they his did really well and so he assumed that if he made interactive ebooks for the iPad they would see similar success and basically they totally failed, because people don’t buy iPad apps. 21:20 Failing Forward Failing Forward The subtitle of the book is: turning stepping stones into success. If you want to be a boxer you have to take hits. Your failures can motivate you and give you energy to persevere. Will would get upset when, in college, he’d show work to his wife and she wouldn’t like it, and he’d get frustrated that he couldn’t even impress his wife let alone others. So he would analyze his work and then used that frustration to keep working and get better. David Hohn, his wife was a graphic designer for Nike so he had a high bar to hit when he went home and showed her his work. Lee’s wife, Lisa, always has critique on his characters. Jake’s wife, Alison, always is straight up honest with Jake. Jake has to recognize that his target audience often isn’t his wife. But when it is something she likes she loves it and asks him why he doesn’t do more work like that. Jake’s mom would always give him a good ego boost, but not really any helpful critique. Sometimes your closest family will be your biggest fans or your biggest critics. Lee’s mom on the other hand would give him brutally honest critique. He never really drew, but it was raining outside and he decided to draw a picture of his great dane, he showed it to his mom and she said, “He looks deranged!” Will would always get critiqued that his drawings of children always looked too old. He was frustrated because he didn’t know how to fix it. He was putting the eyes in the adult places, and then he would add extra lines that are visible but unnecessary that would age his characters. Hard lines for the collarbone or the sternocleidomastoid (neck) muscle really make characters look older. One day he did a drawing that looked like a kid and his wife told him, “Now that looks like a kid!” But he lacked the skill to analyze it and figure out how he did it, so he used that drawing for reference and it took him a while to figure it out. People can really do a number on artists feelings pretty easily. 32:00 Critiques For more depth be sure to listen to: Critiques What do you do when you don’t like it but other people do? Skyheart cover story, Jake redid his Skyheart cover and asked for feedback from Will that he liked it better, and then most people online and Jake’s kids told him to go back to the original. Jake told Will, what everyone was saying and Will, said, “Yeah, I didn’t want to tell you…” Now Jake makes sure that Will gives him his honest opinion. It’s hard to have people around that can really give you an honest critique. We know how much of a letdown it is to get help and then have to change a bunch of things. But that critique is so important! Usually for Will, his best work is the work that he got lots of feedback on. Sometimes we just want to go into our secret lair and come out with a masterpiece, but often times it fails because we didn’t get help from other people. Receiving other people’s critique and feedback really accelerates our growth and the the quality of our work. Anna Daviscourt She has a 1 year residency at Adobe working on a book for them right now. Lee is her mentor, and they have an open dialogue and critique which has made her book really good. One of the reasons the Star Wars prequels turned out the way they did is because George Lucas was surrounded by “yes men.” You don’t want to surround yourself with “yes men.” Ironically, you need to surround your people who are willing to tell you “no”. Put yourself in a position to receive critique and then listen to those critiques. That’s a way to circumvent failures and then you can use those failures as stepping stones. It. Better to have a little failure than to wait and have a bigger failure. 39:45 Will’s Failures: Beginning of Will’s career: we have this project and are looking for illustrators, are you available? He would only get 1/10 of those. Puff the Magic Dragon A Marvelous Toy Will was really close to getting to illustrate the Marvelous toy book, which was a sequal to puff the magic dragon (which is still selling really well) Steve Cox got to illustrate the book. This is so true, there are all of these jobs that get talked about, there are so many books that you hear about or that get talked about. Especially for the first 5 years but even later. Lee would get all of these proposals and even some animation studios that were maybe interested in using his work to make a short, and then radio silence. It is quite disheartening. How to Catch a Bogle: Lee did a sample illustration and a couple of sketches for the cover and he thought it was a no brainer that he would get to illustrate it, but then he didn’t get it. So these hopeful opportunities that don’t pan out are plentiful. Mid Level Failure Lee did a childrens book, did a whole dummy, it goes to acquisition and then you assume that It’s a long letdown, it can cover 6 months of your life. It’s not like one painting It’s out of your control, maybe marketing got these sales reports and they feel like another book would be better. Or maybe something really similar comes out. If they had just rejected it right out of the gate, it would be easier 48:50 Jake’s Failure He was working at Blue Sky and there is this unspoken hierarchy that character designers are at the top, and he was on a lower level. He got thrown a bone by the director, they needed some background characters. Jake dropped the ball, he fumbled it. He did his best but basically they just yawned at his result. He realized that maybe his character designs aren’t the best for this animation studios or for animation in general, but he realized that he wanted to move into a place where his designs could be appreciated. Find the audience that appreciates it. When people think of Jake Parker they don’t hink of him as a character designer but see him now as a comic book artist and children’s book illustrator. Maybe now he is more experienced and would have done a better job on it. Jake has put his effort, emotion and interest into projects that he gets satisfaction out of and if the audience gets satisfaction from it all the better. 54:50: High Level Failures Will’s High Level Failure: Will was getting a lot of work but not as much as before, he and his wife were doing really well before while she taught school and he did illustration, but then she was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease and couldn’t keep working. He was still getting good assignments and money you could live on but because they had been living outside their means, and they didn’t have her extra income so they got into financial trouble. Will saw these people around him making good money and he felt sorry for himself and felt like a failure, and that he was letting his family down. So… he almost quit to become a prison guard. All of the guys around Will were correctional officers, they were making 6 figures, and their wives worked and the central valley of CA is affordable. Will saw that these guys didn’t go to college and they have these really comfortable financial situations. Illustrators are more like dentists have to study and perfect their craft and he felt he should be making more. He felt really sorry for himself, he wasn’t honest enough with himself to say, “We got ourselves into this situation.” He went and took the PCA32 class and got unofficially hired but then he was talking to the CO’s in his neighborhood and heard all of these horror stories, they were telling him not to do it. He felt like a failure he had a 15 year long career in illustration, it was a cop out. No one that did that job was having a meaningful career. It felt like giving up. How did you get yourself out? He talked to his wife, his bishop from church, his neighbor who was a nurse at the prison, everyone was telling him not to do it. His bishop told him that he saw what Will was capable of doing, had seen his children books, and that the gifts that he had should not be squandered this way, and that he had developed these gifts that would be taking away from people and he wouldn’t know what good he had done. Jake has really seen the positive influence on others through Will’s youtube channel, art, and on him personally. Will and his wife were in a sticky financial situation and it really took learning to live within their means to help get them out of that. Just because someone else has something you shouldn’t get it just because they have one. Live below your means so you can save every month, you will experience lean times. Carrie Henry, “I hope you are putting money away because this isn’t going to last.” There are so many benefits to living within your means. Including happiness by not being tied to needing to have everything. Jake had a great job at an animation studio, but wanted to develop an independent career. He had an opportunity to teach at BYU in Utah, where he could have benefits and health insurance along with a couple days a week to work on his publishing work. But that job at BYU disappeared because after a couple of years they told him they wanted him to have a degree. He didn’t have So he found a full time job and gave himself a year to get 6 months of work lined up. The year came and went and he didn’t have 6 months of work lined up, he was really stressed and he was really down on himself, he doubled down on himself and he started to post on social media and posted daily and tried to post daily. He then landed a really good job from Google that would last them a couple of months, and he knew if he did a Kickstarter, and he got another childrens book. He added it all up and realized he had his 6 months of work he was looking for. That was 5 years ago, and he’s been doing it ever since, but it hasn’t been smooth but it’s been a steady trajectory upwards. It would have been easy to quit and just stay at that new job for 10 years, but he had a vision or a goal and he stuck with that. You never know what the future holds in store. There are always curves and things you didn’t see coming. No matter how good you are you will still experience failures. This is true for life and especially for a career in art. Once you hit a certain point it doesn’t mean that those things will go away. Typically all failures have a silver lining. Use every failure to look at what went wrong, what you can do differently, and how you can learn from it and be better. LINKS Svslearn.com Jake Parker: mrjakeparker.com Instagram: @jakeparker, Youtube: JakeParker44 Will Terry: willterry.com. Instagram: @willterryart, Youtube: WillTerryArt Lee White: leewhiteillustration.comInstagram: @leewhiteillo Alex Sugg: alexsugg.com Tanner Garlick: tannergarlickart.com. Instagram: @tannergarlick If you like this episode, please share it, subscribe, and we’d love it if you left a review! These p odcasts 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.
31 Jan 2019
A Year's Worth of Lessons
Projects: We’re still working on a lot of the same things, and so from now on we’ll probably just give updates once a month instead of every episode.. A Year’s Worth of Lessons We want to each share a couple of lessons that we had from this past year. Concept is King, Will At the beginning of his career, like most people, Will focused a lot on craft. And as he has matured he has learned that craft is what gets you through the door but what moves you forward is artistry, or the concept behind your piece. That is the most important thing. Craft validates you, but your concepts is what moves you forward. It is all about the subtle things, the things that add to the story, the things that are left out of the illustration. WillTerry.com, check out Will’s comic con drawings, a lot of time goes into making sure the concept is solid. You don’t really get to see anyone’s real initial reaction when they see your children’s book that you illustrated. However, at the comic conventions strangers don’t know that you are the artist, so Will gets to see their natural reaction to his work and his fan art concepts. He has been able to really see, by watching it in real time, that people are not drawn to the craft but they are really drawn to the concepts of his drawings. The drawings with stronger concepts attract more attention from customers. Will is trying to go through his Bonneparte book and make sure the expressions and everything add to the story. That those little details are adding to the story and concept behind each illustration. Technique, perspective, etc: it all serves the story. Not the other way around. You don’t make the story about the perspective or about the technique. Lee really likes his work to look raw, and has really gravitated to that look over time. He oticed that when he tried to make things look really rendered and realistic people talked a lot at how realistic his work looked rather than the concept behind it. But when he changed his approach and focused a lot more on concept and developed more of a raw style then people also began to focus more on the emotion and the concept. Jake used to be very tight with his drawings using a technical pen, but has grown to not focus so much on that and instead uses a brush pen and it has given his drawings a more organic, hand drawn feeling. It’s more about bringing the drawing to life than making sure every part and mechanical piece makes perfect sense. Ask yourself: What is the concept, and what is the emotional response that I want to illicit in the person viewing it? With all of that it is hard to get noticed if you have bad craft. Having bad craft, is often from laziness. Will struggled with drawing and resisted getting better at it, and his excuse was that he didn’t want to hurt his style, but it was really just an excuse for laziness. Putting some effort at building your craft will help you better pull off any concept you want to tackle. You need to still learn craft so that you are able to take on whatever artistic challenge comes your way. You want to be malleable, and adaptable. You need to be able to adapt to the times and not be stuck doing just one style. In short, good craft will get you through the door, but good concepts and ideas will help you move forward. 20:00 It’s All About Lifestyle, Lee This has been a big year for Lee and his family! They moved from Oregon to Tennessee and have been able to really lower some of their expenses which has taken a lot of stress from Lee to have to make as much money and helped give him more time. They have been working at this plan to reduce costs for 3-5 years and it has really payed off, no pun intended. Now Lee has a lot more time, and a lot less stress that allows him to be more creativity. Essentially, control your costs to enhance creativity. There is a big relationship between what you want to do and the stress of making money. The more pressed you are for money the more likely you will accept work that you would prefer to avoid. The more financial freedom you have the more you can say no to those projects and work on the work that you want to. Will was alive way back when not everyone had personal computers. He didn’t want to spend the money on one and kept putting it off but once he got a personal computer, that was a game changer for him. If you need a particular tool to do the work that you need to do, that you want to do. Then get a job and work to save money for that tool. If you are more wise with your eating expenses and your other flexible expenses, soon you could save enough money to afford an iPad or those tools that will help move you forward. There are some practical things that you can do to help move you forward financially: Don’t Live in San Francisco or another place with high cost of living; it will be difficult to move forward, starting off your career paying $2300 a month for an apartment. Go through and try and take 20% off of your major bills: groceries, rent, etc. Back in the 70’s you had to live in one of those big cities, but nowadays with the internet you can stay connected. 27:31 The Inbox Zero Method, Jake Back in 2017, Jake had over 500 emails in his inbox, and he declared Email Bankruptcy, he took all of those emails and stuck them in a “Bankruptcy” folder. This is his new Inbox Zero Method that he used in 2018: Make a folder in your inbox called the “action folder” Create different folders for different projects/categories. Set aside time each day or every couple days to go through your action folder. I.e. send someone that file, or write that thank you response. Any email that takes less than 2 minutes to respond to, just do that right away, if it takes longer then put it in your action folder. Previously Jake would sometimes check his email 5 times an hour and then it fragmented his time and he wasn’t able to accomplish as much. The best work happened when he had 2 or 3 hours to get in the zone and focus on deep work. Don’t live in a state of constant distraction. Don’t let the email control you, you control your email. Lee has this program called Self Control and it allows you to choose the sites that are distractions for you: i.e. News sites, email, etc, and you can plug those sites into the app and create limits for accessing those sites. I.e. You can’t access any of those sites for the next 4 hours. Lee’s Distraction Websites: Instagram Gmail Facebook Some news source Craig’s List So anywho, when he clicks the button on Self Control it removes those distractions. Be Careful, Will Story: One of his best friends runs the comic con side of his business and does all the scheduling, taxes, going to shows, etc. And then pays Will his portion. Will and his business partner sent this person to run a booth for them in different parts of the country and this person had helped them $700 dollars. They sent him to another show and Will had a Facebook friend that tabling next to the man, and that friend emailed Will telling him that the person working for him was always showing up late to the show, and would leave the booth for hours at a time. So when the guy running those shows came back Will and his business partner, Wane, talked to him about that email they received and he admitted that it was all true. You really need to know the person that you are taking a chance on, and when necessary make sure there are checks and balances in place. Storytelling differences: Lee tells the point he wants to make and then gives the supporting details. Will tells the story and and supporting details and then he gives the lesson or takeaway. Jake likes to create orderly lists and bullet points. Truly be a Content Creator, Lee Being a content creator is where all of the fun and all of the income truly happens. Lee is in the process of making patterns, and books to pitch and he is having so much fun. He is making so much content that isn’t even being asked for, and then is going to see where it will go. He’s having a great time and he hasn’t ever had this much freedom before. Your ideas and your ability to come up with things will be rewarded. Those who not only illustrate but also write their books have a better chance of being picked up by a publisher. Those who take the bull by the horns and go above and beyond just being an illustrator can do really well. You feel like you are more in control of your future when you go the extra mile. The best thing that Lee likes about having being a content creator nowadays, is that there is now a Plan B. Before you would have to just shop your work around to different companies and publishers, but now there is Kickstarter. Worst case scenario: nobody wants it, then you can kickstarter it and make it yourself. Jake disagrees that being a content creator over executing someone else’s vision this is the only way to be successful. More and more today people want visuals and good images to go with their company, and there is work for people who have craft. With that said though, don’t let your side projects die. We aren’t saying that there is no more work for people who don’t create their own content and write their own children’s books, instead, we are saying that there are more opportunities for those that do. You can become entrepreneurial. Will was not entrepreneurial, and now he is. To do any personal project and have it be successful takes a lot more than just art. Each project is almost like it’s own business. A Kickstarter project involves logistics, marketing, etc. You should learn some business skills to help out with the other side of things. Be a content creator, it’s not entirely about getting work and being successful, it’s about reaching your full potential. Don’t just be a hired gun all the time, take time to do your own work too. There is something special about creating for your own project. Not everyone has that itch to do personal projects and be entrepreneurial, some people love working at a studio or just having a real job. And for them that is all of the creative fulfillment that they need. Making your own things, finishing things, and doing those personal projects gives you confidence that you can take with you into other endeavors. Take Time to Just Draw For Fun, Jake We all can get so caught up with deadlines, and drawing for specific projects that we forget to draw just for fun. There is value in drawing for fun and you never know what may come from it. Just take time to scribble and draw just for fun. Just like a kid, draw not for anything, just draw for fun. You never know what is going to happen. Jake drew this robot and colored it and because of the colors he chose it ended up looking like an avocado robot. So he drew a bunch of other “food bots”, and they were all just for fun. Someone took his Hamburger Bot and made a 3D sculpt from it, and then with his permission made some real 3D printed statues from his design, and they have even been made into stickers for Art Drop Club . All of that just from Jake choosing to draw for fun. 2018 Remorses: Jake wishes he had drawn all of Skyheart before the Kickstarter, instead of after. Jake feels like he could have been using all of that creation time of Skyheart as a build up to the Kickstarter. It would have been a better final product, and it would have saved him from a lot of stress. The great thing is that we can learn from our mistakes! In the past, Kickstarter may have been more about helping to fund something that never would have been done. Now it feels like it has shifted to becoming more of a pre-order and the money is just needed to fund the production of it. That’s it for today, we hope that some of the things we learned last year will be helpful to you with achieving your personal and artistic goals this year. Happy New Year, everybody! LINKS Svslearn.com Jake Parker: mrjakeparker.com Instagram: @jakeparker, Youtube: JakeParker44 Will Terry: willterry.com. Instagram: @willterryart, Youtube: WillTerryArt Lee White: leewhiteillustration.comInstagram: @leewhiteillo Alex Sugg: alexsugg.com Tanner Garlick: tannergarlickart.com. Instagram: @tannergarlick 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.
16 Jan 2019