Illustration by Oleksandr Shatokin
BTCA (Before the Computer Age) getting noticed as an artist was difficult at best. Especially if you were an illustrator working on the West Coast. There just weren’t enough venues handing out freelance work. There were only a handful of reps and they only repped known artists. You could do comp work for movie studios and agencies. But getting a finished illustration in a magazine, newspaper or on a movie poster was rare for a young artist. A few broke thru but the majority worked anonymously handing off their brilliant ideas to older more seasoned illustrators to finish of the work. Some who I knew from art school quit and joined (as my father would say) “the real world”.
My experience as a young illustrator was painful and it finally lead me to taking night courses in art production work and marker comps so as to become an art director. While I honed those skills I worked in construction for my parent’s family business. My thinking was most art directors can’t draw and express there ideas as well as I could so maybe my skill level would set me apart from the norm. I was right and my career as an art director was solid starting out as an art director for 20th Century Fox feature films.
As my career in the entertainment business flourished I still held the thought that one day I’d be an illustrator so I keep creating artwork with the goal of one day leaving my directing positions and stepping into the artist arena.
In 2006 I left my position at Warner Bros and started illustrating kid lit books. I haven’t looked back.
The freelance world had changed drastically and the challenges of being an illustrator in the digital age was challenging and exciting. However, I could see how a young artist might find the whole process overwhelming. Aside from having to master social media, an artist today competes worldwide with artists who are very skilled and will work for less than their American counterparts. What to do?
Connect. Connect. Connect. Call, eMail, DM, Text send videos do anything and everything to promote your work. Do not be shy, because it’s true that no one cares about what you’re doing unless they see it and see it a lot.
There are inexpensive ways to reach art directors. publishers and creative directors in every field of art. Think Bomb Bomb, MailChimp etc Post your work everywhere (add copyrights!) and…be yourself. Do what you like to do not what you think will get you work. This almost never works and can be frustrating if it does. I’ve experienced both and I can say this. I’d rather work in another field and keep my artistic integrity. The only way you will truly discover your “real artistic voice” is to do what please you. Finally and most importantly never, never, never, quit. Your success as an artist may be right round the corner.
THE PENCIL KING!
What would we do without our pencils? We artists owe a lot of debt to the Godfather of pencil-making Johann Eberhard Faber. So brush up on your pencil history and start sketching out your tribute to Johann!
Johann Eberhard Faber was born on December 6, 1822 in the village of Stein, near the city of Nuremberg, in Bavaria. His father, George Leonard Faber, was a descendant of the famous Faber family, one of ancient lineage in Bavaria engaged in the profession of manufacturing lead pencils.
He moved to the United States in 1848 and in 1849, opened a stationery store at No. 133 William Street, NYC. The store was later moved to Nos. 718-720 Broadway in 1877.
In 1852, he started to export red cedar logs to the Faber pencil factories in Stein, having realized that the red cedar available in America was ideal for lead pencils.
In 1861, he opened the first lead pencil factory along the East River, between 41st and 43rd Streets, New York City. The factory was established under the name of Eberhard Faber.
In 1872, a fire destroyed the factory in New York City, hence a new improved factory was built on a site on Kent and West streets in the Greenpoint district of Brooklyn. The new factory was designed for expansion and by the time Faber died his factory was the largest of its kind in United States and the Faber name was known all over the world.
If you want to be an illustrator then don’t expect riches. I’ve struggled with this aspect of being an artist my whole career and now I’m finally ok with that. The solution I adapted was to become a real estate agent for money and an artist for the love of it. During my career as a creative director in the entertainment business I bought, renovated and sold real estate. What I made in real estate eclipse my salary. When I left Warner Bros in 2006 I decided to illustrate children’s books. This is not a path to riches I assure you. Along the way I bought some run down homes, fixed them up. (mostly doing the work myself ) and sold them for profits. This allowed me to navigate my artistic endeavors the way I wanted to. It took quite a while to get to the point where I was satisfied with the direction I was headed but I stuck with it. I am still in the process. I can honestly say I love creating imagery and learning new ways of approaching my work every day. The most that I hope for is recognition among my peers and helping others succeed.
“There are many ways to be become successful. First off you have to decide what constitutes success to you then set the goal. You will have to be systematic and develop a tough hide to withstand suggestions and criticisms that’ll be hurled your way. The next step is exposing your art to anyone and everyone who could make a difference to you becoming a success. Then stay on them constantly until they tell you to stop. If your work is worthy and can help that person accomplish their job in a great way you’ll get the work. Be persistent and do not give up.” – The Editor
Becoming a Successful Illustrator: New Edition Nov 1, 2017 2:07 pm13 The second edition of Becoming a Successful Illustrator is now available. With cover artwork by hot illustration duo, Cachetejack, this edition expands on the advice from practicing illustrators as well as the people that commission them, including M&C Saatchi and The New York Times. Additional coverage in fields such as moving image, character illustration and the all-important social media ensure the information is bang up to date, and there are new exercises to aid illustrators starting to plan and build their business. With over 200 inspirational examples of artwork, Becoming a Successful Illustrator is beautifully contemporary as well as informative. Readers can expect practical tips on how to seek commissions, how to market themselves and how to run their illustration business in an enterprising way, with advice that will prove useful long after their first commissions. Building on the resources of the first edition, this continues to be the must-have guide to practicing professionally as an illustrator.
I wasn’t going to post this until tomorrow, but since I am home unexpectedly today, here it goes. Tomorrow, June 8th, 2017, marks 13 years that I came home from prison, and while I am aware that I have done some good things during this time, overall, I am not happy or satisfied at all. […]
This painting is from a children’s book without a home yet. It’s called Emma and Digger. It started out as a sand crab adventure story, yet I fear that since Emma and Digger don’t exactly look like sand crabs that perhaps they should just be little beach creatures and call it a day. I’ve gotten feedback that these are insects or sand crabs don’t look like that.
If you’re working on your own projects I’m sure this has happened to you. You get excited about the work and suddenly after the fact you realize you’ve done something that doesn’t make sense…or does it?
I think sometimes people cannot let go of what their perceptions are to see the bigger picture. Here it’s about losing family and friends and creating your own life and completing the cycle. Not about whether Emma and Digger are sand crabs, insects or from outer space. Thoughts??
“The most enriching rewards for creative endeavor are intrinsic; that is, the reward is in the pleasure the creator takes in doing the work itself, and in achieving the result, and not from the pay or the prize.” – Jane Piirto
Morning is here again and here’s some food for thought to start your day. If you’re creative and you enjoy doing whatever fuels the creativity do it. Don’t worry about how good you are or whether you’ll get rewarded for your work. That is not the point. It’s taken me a long time to realize I am driven to create. Though I’ve tried to suppress this urge and do things that are “more practical” in terms of making a living or creating wealth, I cannot hide from the fact I need to create. So I embrace the beast. I don’t try and tame it, rather I am riding it and enjoying the journey.
Professor Jane Piirto, in her book Creativity for 21st Century Skills covers the motivation to create.
She writes, “The main cause for creativity is that the creative person wants to be creative, in whatever domain he or she is working – whether it be woodworking in the basement, dancing, acting, drawing, singing, doing science, mathematics, inventing, being an entrepreneur, being an athlete, cooking, sewing, building, designing.
“People who are creative must have motivation. Creators intend to be creative, to make—something. People have to want to be creative. Creativity takes a long time and a certain amount of obsession.”
She thinks “Motivation is the only and main personality attribute that all creative people have and need.”
If you relate to this you are part of the tribe, so stop judging yourself so harshly and take comfort in the thought that millions of creative people all over the world are in the same boat. Piirto notes, “Creators must have the talent necessary to create in their area, and have had the environmental influence and support necessary.”
I’m sure most creatives feel this way. The way to get there is to day by day practice your craft and seek support from those who can relate to what you’re doing. IT DOES NO GOOD AND IT’S TOXIC FOR YOUR SOUL TO SEEK APPROVAL FROM THOSE WHO DON’T GET IT!
“What are the rewards for being creative? Fame is not usually one of them.” Piirto quotes musician Mat Callahan: “I have never found any correlation between money and the effectiveness of the creative process and its results. Do I produce a demand for my creative work… do I produce marketable commodities? Maybe. Do I apply my energies to my creative work, regardless? Certainly. Continuously. Why? Because of the satisfaction I derive from the process itself and the pleasure it brings to others.”
I leave you with that. The results of your mindset, your talent and your work will dictate the outcome. Focus on the work and being the best you can. Embrace the beast, take it for a long ride and enjoy the journey.