Tag Archives: art

Dreams that Drive You.

      You can’t dream too big. You can’t.

You. Can’t.

Never let anyone tell you that your dreams are too big or unattainable. They might be the most pie in the sky out there dreams in the world, but that’s the point of dreams! But what if you don’t succeed? Shoot for the moon, even if you miss you’ll land among the stars. Even if you don’t hit that pinnacle, that perfect ideal in your mind, you will still find yourself in an equally amazing place just by trying to get there. Sometimes failing to attain your ultimate dream isn’t failure at all.

But what do you do with you dream once you have it? Let’s talk about my dream jobs: I want to be a conceptual design artist for Blizzard Entertainment, and do freelance Illustration for DC comics in my spare time.

4205271295_3ff418bf29_o

Blizzard Offices

pointe-dc-entertainment

DC’s New California Location

That’s an insane amount of work, right? It sure is! Maybe even more than I could actually handle, but it does give me a specific set of skills (many of which are overlapping) to focus in on: Illustration and Digital Painting.

These are pie in the sky, oh my god amazing jobs that I may never get. But what I can do is start focusing on the skills that it would take for me to get there. I can start working on my illustration skills, my inking, my sequential art because whether I work for DC or not, I love doing comic book illustration. So maybe I wind up working for Boom! or Dynamite… who cares? I’ll be happy, and I’ll have the skills developed for it.

I can start working on my digital painting and conceptual design work. Maybe I work for an indie game company locally. Either way, I’m doing what I love.

And maybe, just maybe, I get noticed by Blizzard and start working for DC. But I will never – NEVER – get that dream if I’m not working for it. I can’t stress enough how important this is, whether your focus is art or any other field. Never stop dreaming, never stop wanting your dreams. Even if you find yourself somewhere that you’re happy, keep trying for that dream!

Motivate yourself to keep learning, keep growing, keep getting better. Keep sending in applications or portfolios. Keep that dream alive, it’s what will help you grow and flourish, even if it never comes to fruition.

And that’s the important part: Don’t let the dream get you down. Find happiness where you are, find contentment. Let them motivate you and inspire you, but never let them discourage you. That’s not what dreams or for.

Shoot for the moon, even if you miss you’ll land among the stars. 

Shoot for the moon, guys :)

Who’s Anatomy For Me?

One of the most common things that I end up talking to people about is anatomy. Just about every portfolio I’ve ever looked through, or every friend who’s asked me how to get better gets almost the same talk that boils down to, “You need to learn human anatomy.”

Drawing from life, of course, is the best way to do this, but without an understand of WHY that muscle bulges like that, or why the bones seem to bend about there, you’re left with only a partial understand and it will be glaringly obvious once you start drawing outside of what you can find reference for.

An understanding of how the muscles work and the tendons stretch will be what allows your drawings of the human form to blossom. The question then because: “Where do I start to learn from?” I know of three men that are generally the topics of conversation when anatomy is mentioned: George Bridgman, Andrew Loomis, and Burne Hogarth. Which one is the best is generally highly debated, but I’ve looked over them all at least partially so I can give you a run down of how they teach. I won’t make a recommendation here, as that is something that you’ll have to make for yourself based on what speaks to you. I can tell you, Burne Hogarth is my hero :)

Andrew Loomis:
Loomis is old school. His books are largely no longer in print, but you can still find them reasonably around Amazon. The key anatomy book that he put out is “Figure Drawing for All It’s Worth” and he focuses on simplified build ups, talking more about building blocks and refining than delving into the muscles, ligaments, and bones beneath the skin. This is highly effective, and he does a wonderful job of conveying the human form. A lot of people still find a good deal of understanding in Loomis.

Loomis_Anatomy

An excerpt from “Figure Drawing for All It’s Worth” demonstrating his building block approach.

 

George Bridgman
George Bridgman is the next big one. He’s been recommended by industry greats like Jim Lee, so you know he’s got some clout. Bridgman’s cornerstone anatomy book was “Constructive Anatomy”. Like Loomis, Bridgman focuses on building forms to create bodies, but he does tend to give more focus and attention to the underlying musculature than Loomis did. He does a great job of illustrating how to build a body from the ground up, and gives a good passing understanding of the muscles and tendons involved in movement.

bridgeman_anatomy

An excerpt from “Constructive Anatomy” demonstrating Bridgman’s form based process.

 

Burne Hogarth:
Burne Hogarth is the godfather of modern anatomy. Just about any artist you ask – especially in the comics book arena – has at least heard of the man I’d wager. He’s been the inspiration behind folks like Joe Kubert, so he’s definitely got clout as well. I’m willing to bet that you’ve probably seen some of his extreme poses and high detail musculature he’s so well known for. He focuses on forms and planes of the surface, but also delves much deeper into the musculature and ligaments than the other two, which has worked well for me with my “how does it work” attitude.

hogarth_anatomy

One of the more down to earth poses from “Dynamic Anatomy” illustrating Hogarth’s emphasis of muscle structure.

I hope that this has been enlightening for you, and helpful. All three of the books I’ve mentioned here are linked below on Amazon. Definitely worth a read! If you’ve still got questions, post them in the comments! Later guys!

-Aarpie!

The Art Pyramid

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you: THE ART PYRAMID!

art_Pyramid

Huzzah for fancy graphics, eh? Made it myself. Yessir, it’s like I’m an artist or something! So what is this marvel of modern graphic design? It’s a key that I think is lost on most artists coming along these days. This pyramid gets flipped on its head.

Artists, especially those in the comic art or conceptual design fields, are generally inspired by the vivid, deeply detailed and stylized creators that they know and love. They see the soot of dirt, the glare neon, or the smooth lines of ink that professionals do and immediately go to try and emulate that style, rather than stopping to understand why their heroes are capable of executing that style.

While it is tempting to go right for the stylized, recognizable art and start drawing the deep, sooty cityscapes of your favorite Superhero, it’s not the right place to start. Focus on the basics: Anatomy, Perspective, and Image Composition. Without a firm understanding of these principles, you’ll never develop a style that is anything beyond flash and flare. You won’t create the solid characters that Greg Capullo or JR Jr. do. You pages won’t flow like water (be the sequential or individual works of art). There will always be a level of “wrong” to your drawings. Your art will be flashy and pretty, but people won’t be drawn in like they could be because there’s a level of unbelievability to your creations. Get those foundations down before you move on. It’s a lot of hard work, grunt work, learning anatomy, vanishing points, the rule of thirds and all the other good stuff, but it’s work it in the end when you see your “unfinished” art starting to have impact.

That’s when you can work on finesse. Once you have your foundation built, and you have something strong to stand on, then you start making it stand out. You develop your sense of lighting and line weight, you start learning to add atmosphere to your art. You start making scenes turn into worlds and you can draw people into those worlds because the accuracy is there. They’re not snagged by broken perspective or wrong anatomy on the way in, you’re not breaking their suspended belief. This is the where you start to shine.

Finally, once the first two levels are solid, you start making those worlds you’re crafting your own. You’re making it your vision, and you’re doing it on a solid foundation so that it can stand on its own with no problem.

And guys, this applies to both realism and cartoon style art as well! Remember, in many ways cartooning is harder than realism. You have to know what to leave out and what to put in to convey your message in as few lines as possible. One line too many or too few and you’re dead in the water!

I hope this makes sense! I’d love to hear what you think in the comments below!

Talk to you soon, guys!
Aarpie!

Time Is Ticking Away

“I don’t have time.”

I bet… you do. Don’t believe me? Are you on Facebook? Twitter? New Grounds? Is Team Fortress 2 loading up in the background? What about television? Binge watching Game of Thrones again? Hours, my friend. Hours of your day are passing you buy.

One of the biggest excuses that I hear from artists – one that until recently I was horribly guilty of myself – is ‘I don’t have time’. The truer statement is “I’m not using the time I have wisely.”

Recently, I sat down on my train ride home and figured out my free time (thinking, certainly, I wouldn’t have any spare time to art). Twice a day, I had 45 minutes to and from work on the train to update my social media sites or work on thumbnails and roughs for prints and comic pages. I get home around 6:30 on a normal day. Help with some chores, hang out with the fam, eat dinner, and take a shower. Now it’s 8:30. Aaaaahhh… well, that’s convenient because that’s when the kids are supposed to turn off the video games and TV and start getting ready for bed. Well looky there, I’m done with my chores and I’ve got two or three hours that I can work on my art before bed.

That’s 10 to 15 hours a week… and that’s just Monday through Friday. Add the weekend to that: Sleep in (I get up at 5am on the weekdays for my day job, so sleeping in is 8 or 9) get the dogs fed and out. Do my chores. Maybe run out for breakfast with my lady. Now it’s 1pm, maybe 2pm. There’s 8 hours of time there, at least! Now, maybe you’ve got activities on the weekend. That’s fine, cut that out of the free time, and you’ve still got hours of left over time to devote to your art. Add Sunday into that and you’re looking at more hours still.

I’d wager, based on my hectic schedule and the amount of time that I really have, that the average person has between 20 and 30 hours of time that they could set aside a week, and it’s getting squandered on Facebook, Netflix, or the Xbox. Think about that. Think about how much advancement you could see in that time! Make the effort, not the excuse! You’ll see yourself grow, and you’ll find yourself WANTING to art, because you’ll want to see what you’ll get better at today.

Art is something you never stop learning, you never stop improving. It’s infinitely gratifying in just about every way, but you have to commit and have that drive and dedication. You can do it! I believe in ya! :D

Talk soon, guys!
-Aarpie!

The Talent Trap

I hate talent. I hate it. With a passion. I hate the very concept and idea. It’s insulting, it’s demeaning, and it’s discouraging. And so many people fall into the “talent trap”.

So why the rage? Let’s talk about “Talent”.

37565962

Why am I so enraged and angry about this talent thing? Because it’s non-existent. There’s drive, there’s passion, there’s skill, and there’s practice. But there is no such thing as “talent”. People refer to it as though it’s some sort of ancient mystical force that magically gives it’s wielder the ability to draw like a champ, or design graphics like there’s no tomorrow.

The bottom line is, these artists that you say are so talented and that you’re not as talented as have nothing magical over you. They have drive, passion, skill, and practice. Now, I could spend this entire blog post complaining about talent and why I hate it, but let’s break this down into something more useful.

4cf88d06a2784c63be852812db4d4320

No height is unobtainable for your artistic endeavors. You want to paint as well as Michaelangelo? Get those paints out! You want to draw like Greg Capullo (I know I do), then get those pencils out. Find where you’re lacking.

Is it the drive you’re lacking? Focus on your time management so you can fuel your passion, make time to learn and delve into magazines like ImagineFX or comic books, or art books. Make yourself draw, make yourself practice, sketch, paint. Find things that inspire you, find things that make you WANT to pick up your tool of choice and draw or paint or whatever else and make time to do it. Be driven to make it a part of your every day life.

Skill holding you back? Skill and practice go hand in hand. You must practice to gain skill, so if you practice, you’ll gain skill and as you gain skill you’ll be practicing. Two birds with one stone! Art constantly! sketch people in the train station, paint a photo realistic canvas of your cable box at home (complete with dust bunnies), do whatever you can to practice your craft and improve. Read books, go through tutorials. In this world of information overload, there’s no reason to grow stagnant.

Passion… ah, that’s the tricky one. See… passion is something you’ve either got, or you don’t. Passion is something that stirs up deep in your gut and makes you want to art ad nauseum. You can stir up a passion, you can become passionate about something at any point in your life, and your passions may shift as time goes on, but if you don’t have a burning passion for art, you’ll fall short. Passion alone doesn’t give you any type of magical skills either, though. It’s just what inspires you to do better and learn your craft. Look at art that moves you, watch movies, play video games, do anything that can make you passionate to go draw and learn. If you see art that makes you go “I want to DO that!” then find more of it, fill your mind with it, and with that goal in mind, set forth to gather the skill, the drive, and the practice you need to make it so!

Don’t fall into the talent trap, if your passion is here you can do it. You just have to make it happen! You make your own talent, it doesn’t make you.

Until next time guys!

-Aarpie!

Books: Will Eisner’s Comics and Sequential Art

One of the things that I want to do with this blog is to spread the word about books, websites, tools, and other resources that have helped me to improve as an artist. I’ve had to stumble across these items over the years, but I want to put them in one place so that the next kid who starts the long hard crawl up the ladder has an easier time of it.

To that end, I start with one of my favorite books: Will Eisner’s Comics and Sequential Art.

comics-and-sequential-art-cvr-300

Many beginning illustrators approach sequential art with the mindset that it’s just drawing cool pictures in boxes, never understanding the importance of layout and the flow of the page. This book by Will Eisner is probably one of the best resources talking about how to make your Sequential Art flow.  While Will Eisner’s style of art might be a little outdated by today’s standards, his grasp of sequential storytelling is beyond compare. I don’t know of anyone active today who has the same level of understand. This book will take you through page layout, timing, and every other element of sequential design you could ask for.




This is not a how to draw book. You won’t find pages and pages about anatomy or foreshortening. This is a technique book, it’s a professional’s book. It’s also a really enjoyable read as it’s littered with stories by Eisner himself. This is a book that I still pull out and read on a regular basis, just to keep the ideas and concepts fresh in my mind, even if it’s just a second here or a second there.

Don’t just read this book: Study it. Study it like it’s final exam time all over again. Learn it, know it. You’ll find yourself using the techniques without even thinking about them because once they’re in your head they just make sense. I have read other books and write-ups by artists who are amazingly talented and they helped, but nothing brought the art of sequential story telling into clearer focus than this.

Check it out! You won’t regret it!

-Aarpie!

The Art of Indie Art – Part 3

This is the last of the Art of Indie Art series, and admittedly this one is the most focused toward comic book creators. That being said, many of the points that I make in this one will apply to indie artists in general as well, so read on!

Big Dog Processes, Small Dog Budget

I think one of the most commonplace things that I see when I’m wondering through artist alleys at cons are comics and art that hasn’t been proofed or reviewed in some way. I’ve picked up comics that have not been proof-read (“There over their!”, “What’s wrong with yu?”), art that hasn’t been looked over by another set of eyes, print jobs that are grainy (300 dpi or better for printing, guys!) or have lines through it like you were running out of ink, and bad ink/color jobs that really just needed a second eye on it (missing the “X” for a black fill, coloring in eyes with flesh tone, etc). These seem like nit-picky little things, but they’re yet another gap between us and the big boys.

Stop and think about the process that the big boys go through – and bear in mind that this is a scaled down, simplified version. For a comic, the script is written, sent to editors to clean up and make any changes, then it goes to pencils, those pencils are generally reviewed (even if only at the thumbnail level) before being sent to the inkers. Once it’s inked, the lines are reviewed again and cleaned up if necessary, then sent to the colorist who colors and corrects as needed based on their own feed back. The letterist does their work, the comic is proofed and any final corrections are made, then it’s sent to print. Finally, once the comic is printed, it’s spot checked there again to ensure that the print out looks good. Same deal with any pinups or posters that go out, sans the script bit. Meanwhile, a lot of Indies are tossing out everything without anyone giving it a second look.

Well, sure. Indies don’t have staffs. We don’t have proof readers and artistic directors and editors to insure that we do things right. So we can’t do it. We’re just crap out of luck and have to settle for not being as good. Right?

Wrong.

You have friends. You have family. You have coworkers. It never hurts to ask, let me tell you. I’ve gotten some of the best feedback on scripts and art in the past from people who aren’t even remotely connected to the industry. Have a couple people read your scripts, grammar, spelling, anything. Have people look over your art and tell you if they see anything funky. But run through the same process, check each step and have someone with a fresh set of eyes check it too.

Now there’s an important step in there: YOU check each step. Write a script. Draw/Ink/Color a picture. Take a day off and then go back. Look it over with fresher eyes, and fix anything that is wrong. Then hand it to the person who’s helping you to do the same. Give them the best product you can, and then let them find the last nitpicks you missed. Too many people seem to forget to check their own work and hand off garbage to friends and family which makes it a chore to read through instead of reading something that’s already polished with some rough edges. Always remember: Present you best. Only you should see the coal, smash it real good so it’s already a diamond.

Another important thing to do is to surround yourself with trusted friends within the industry. I don’t know what I’d do without gents like Stephen Wittmaak or James Whynot, as well as folks like Derec Donovan or Mike DeBalfo. They’re people that I trust to give me valid feed back, and to point out not only issues on a particular pic but also point out when they send trends in my art that I need to beef up on. I know that I can count on them to help, and you’ve got friends like that, too. You’re probably already showing some of their stuff. Get them involved, get their feed back. It’s better than gold. Just remember to return the favor whenever you can.

This is where gold is made, guys. It may seem mundane. It may seem like a waste of time. But it will help you to maintain consistency, it will help you to deliver higher quality stuff, and it will help you become a better artist or writer. This is where the quality lies, guys!

In closing this series out, remember to be ambassadors. Remember to put your best foot forward in your presentation, your quality, your personality. Do your best to be a shining example of what an indie creator is. The onus is on all of us to do better than we have. To be more than what we’ve been. We’ve got the Oomph to do it. So let’s do it!

Thanks for listening, guys! Talk to you soon!

-Aaron

The Art of Indie Art – Part 2

Sorry I’m a day late posting this one, guys! Time got away from me last night. Last time, we discussed what it meant to be an Indie Artist, we talked about what it meant to be an ambassador of Indie projects, and how important it was to put your best foot forward. It’s important to put your best foot forward in the right areas as well. If you’re doing amazingly well in areas X,Y, and Z, but areas A, B, and C are what you’re being judged on, it doesn’t really do you any good. Today I’m going to go over what I’ve observed from my time attending cons as a guest and as an artist, and while being active in the community that makes the thrive. This isn’t a definitive list by any means, but it’s what I’ve found to be the top five most important things.

What’s Important  

I’m going to approach this from what I consider most important to the least important, though remember, this is the top of a longer list. Least important here is still pretty damn important.

Presentation 

You’re on a con floor surrounded by anywhere from eight-hundred to ten-thousand people, depending on the con. You’re surrounded by at least fifteen other artists and creators. Not to mention all the cosplayers on the floor, the special panels, celebrity guests, publishers, toy guys, collectables vendors. You name it, it’s there. And everybody is screaming for the same thing you are: People’s attention.

If you’re sitting in a booth with some pictures on a plain, uncovered convention center table then you’re not doing business unless you’re the Leonardo Di Vinci of the modern age. People are passing you by for flashy banners and slick print outs, price tags all over everything in clear view. Fun fact: Some people won’t even engage you if your prices aren’t in clear site. Your hemorrhaging sales. HEMORRHAGING.

And it’s even WORSE online! Between sites like Etsy, DeviantArt, et all you’re like a tiny fish in a pond full of sharks. If you’re not making every effort to measure up, you’re falling short.

Con displays cost money. Websites cost money. That’s rough, ESPECIALLY when you’re first starting out, but here’s the deal: Good presentation is the first step to bring in customers who will give you that money back for your products.  You’ll have your initial investment paid off before you know it, and be able to expand from there.

That last part was key, by the way: Expand from there. Don’t go and drop a thousand dollars on a con display and be in the red for months. Drop a hundred on a table cover (with your name or logo on it if you can swing it), some slick prints, and some cheap easels to display your favorites. If you sell your prints for, say, $20 each, you’ll have that made back in five prints. Once you do that, put aside the next bit of money you make for more prints, then a banner, or something else you can add to really make your display stand out in a crowd.

Same thing goes with websites. With things like http://weebly.com and http://wix.com that are free, or offer a free option, there’s really no reason to not make something nice. Yes, they’re stock sites. Yes, they might look like someone else’s site, but its for free and it gets you in the door. Set up a store online with http://etsy.com or with http://storeenvy.com and start selling there, buy a domain (they’re cheap!) and make it work! If you’re already adept at making websites, then have at it, but look at competitors’ sites and make sure you’re keeping up with the Joneses.

Learn SEO (Search Engine Optimization). It sounds all fancy and technical, but it’s really not. It’s easy, and a lot of free website builders include tools to make it easier. It’s the equivalent of posting a giant neon-billboard online to bring people to your site. More people you have following your site, your Facebook page (Make a PAGE, don’t use your personal account!), your twitter, your Instagram, and whatever else, the more people you’ll have recognizing you at cons and wanting to check out your work in person. The more people looking, the more people buying! It all works out!

Quality 

But getting folks to your booth isn’t the only part; next is keeping them there. What do I mean by this? Am I asking you to be the next Greg Capullo? No. I’m not. You have your own distinct style and your own progression level to contend with. What I’m saying is that you need to be putting out the best quality art you can put out, even if it’s stick figures with witty one liners. Make those the best damn stick figures out there. And as you improve, get rid of your old stuff. Either stop selling it all together (I prefer that option, personally) or stick it all in a bargain bin for 5 bucks a piece.

Make sure that what you’re selling is nice, as well. Prints that look like they came out of your grandmothers inkjet (sorry, Nana) when it was almost out of ink aren’t going to sell for 20 dollars. Go to Kinkos or whatever your favorite print shop is and have them run off ten of each of your prints. Pick affordable sizes. Don’t be afraid to offer smaller, photo sized prints as well! A lot of places have photo printers that will print off 4×6 images for less than a buck! That’s way affordable. AND it looks good, and you’re giving your customer something that’s worth buying. Key chains, buttons, prints: There’s plenty of vendors out there now that offer affordable, nice looking goods to hand to your vendors. And don’t be afraid to invest a little bit in something cool and free, like mini print or even a collector card. Just make sure it’s something good!

Personality 

Honestly, I think I could devote an entire blog just to this. (Note to self: Devote entire blog to this later). Personality is key. In my last blog entry I mentioned that you had to engage potential customers when they approached your booth, and that if you can’t do that get someone who can. I meant that! I don’t care if it’s your girlfriend, your wife, a friend, or even your mom! If you are a major introvert and can’t ready and openly engage people as when they start looking at your stuff, you will not be successful. Smile, greet, ask folks what they like. Don’t be afraid of your customers, they’re the best friends ever at cons! Even if you do have a friend doing most of the extrovert leg work, make eye contact and smile. I know it’s hard! But you gotta! And if they ask you a question, you have to answer. Just be friendly and tell them their answer then, “I’m sorry, but I’m super swamped with commissions right now! <insert friends name here> can help you with anything you need!”

So, so, SO important, guys! Remember this one!

Price 

You’re not charging too much (unless you are). Something that I fell prey to – and a lot of other artists have admitted to falling prey to – is the idea that your art isn’t worth paying for. I think to some extent we’re all capable of self-evaluation. We’re probably harder on ourselves than most, but learning to cut ourselves a break is awesome. All artists are not created equal. Your art won’t command the same as a thirty year veteran of the comic book industry, but look around at other artists in your vein. Both artists that have more practice in than you, and artists that are still working up to the level you’ve reached. Find a nice medium price range in there and set it. Set it solidly, and don’t let people haggle. If they don’t want to pay you a fair price for your art, they can move on. I can promise you, you’ll be surprised what people are willing to pay. Remember that when you look at your art and you internally rage fit out because it’s so horrible and so flawed, you’re seeing things that most people won’t. You’re seeing “That ear is off! The perspective is one! What the hell is that texture I made! Why does that look like play-doh? Where is gravity with those boobs!” while the people who are looking at your art are saying “Wow! What a cool drawing!”

Try and think about your art as an hourly, too. How many ours did you dedicate to a task? Let’s say you dedicated 15 hours to a commission for someone, and you got 25 bucks for the commission. Congrats, you’re making $1.67 an hour. Does that seem fair to you? That’s not even minimum wage! If you’re looking to make a living doing this, that isn’t fair. At minimum wage you’re looking at over 100 bucks for the same pic. Seems a little more reasonable now, doesn’t it? Now consider how uncommon artists for hire are compared to other professions. At minimum, I’d say you’re worth ten dollars an hour.

I stopped and broke down my hours for one of my last commissions and was sort of disappointed in myself. I spent at least two hours on comps for the customer, another three on pencils, three on inks, and probably four or five on colors (this was an 11×17 big ole commission). Twelve hours minimum, and I charged 60 for it. Sounds expensive, doesn’t it. STILL not minimum wage! I undersold myself! Don’t be afraid to ask what you’re worth!

Advertisement

Advertising is one of the simplest things you can do, but it sounds like the hardest. There’s a million ways to do it with the internet. You can start by reading up on SEO marketing. Pick some keywords, update your site regularly (use a system like Wordpress or something similar so you can do blog posts) with content that has the key word in it as much as possible. Add meta tags to your site, and start trying to get links made back to your site (Facebook shares are awesome!). Make a Facebook page for your creative ventures and post often (daily if you can). Start a twitter, a tumblr, an instagram. Make your artistic endeavors interesting, not just to you, but to everyone. Have fun with it! Get business cards, layout fliers (most cons have a nice general table for fliers, etc), post on Facebook Event pages for cons your attending with links back to your website. Let people know you’re going to be places, and more importantly try and get them EXCITED that you’re going to be there.

The point is: Get yourself out there. Advertise your art, your appearances, your store; anything you can do to get your name and your product out there, do it! I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: If you’re going to look at this like a business, you HAVE to treat it as one! Have faith in yourself, and make it happen!

 

Remember to make yourself stand out in the crowd, give folks quality items that make them want to approach, approach your customers when they approach you, charge what you should be charging, and get your name out there! Keep your standards high, and we’ll make this community of ours something to really be proud of!

One last thing before I go, because it’s fun. In my scrounging around for various and sundry bits for this blog post, I found this and thought it was fun and very, very true! http://virtualcara.tumblr.com/post/50919885990/10-tips-for-winning-at-artists-alley-con-season

See you on Friday to talk about getting Big Dog Process at a Small Dog Price!

The Art of Indie Art – Part 1

In my time delving into the Indie Comics and Artist arena, I’ve heard discussions over why Indie projects are or are not good. It ranges from the art, to the writing, to the paper that the comics are printed on. People nitpick fonts, or color choices, or the way word bubbles are formed. They critique the inking technique (or the lack of inks) or the way the panels are laid out. People nitpick every little thing, but the bottom line is: It’s all of the above.

I’m far from a shining example of success, I’ll admit this. But I’m spending this year working on getting my game plan together and consolidating advice and information I get for my own game plan, as well as my own thoughts and opinions based on experience and observation. And I want to share it with you guys so you’ve got it too.

There’s every reason in the world why comics from the big wigs (Marvel, DC, Image, etc) should outshine the indies comics, and the big name artists fade the little guys into the shadows. From offset printing to multi-million dollar advertising campaigns, Indies have a hard act to follow to get a fair share of the lime light. Over the next week, I’ll be posting up my thoughts on Indie art and how to do it better. Today, we’re going to talk about being responsible:

The Responsibility of Being Indie 

We are all ambassadors. Every single one of us has the potential to be the first indie creator that our audience may see. Whether we’re writers, illustrators, sculptors, painters, all of us stand to be the first-impression of what it means to be independent. We’re already off center stage because we’re not able to afford massive advertising campaigns or ten-feet tall full color booth displays, so when we get a chance to shine, we have to shine.

There’s nothing that irks me more than to hear someone at a con say “Oh, it’s just an indie comic” or “They’re not anyone special” regarding an artist. That tells me what they’ve seen and experienced already: Sub par products with sub par standards. “You’re being harsh, Aaron. We’re just indie creators!” No, I’m not. Do I expect you to have massive booths with the slickest and shiniest prints and booth-babes slinking off of every corner? Absolutely not! But if you want to be taken seriously, take yourself seriously!

Too often I see people with bare topped tables, nothing more than a simple print out of their name, not addressing the people that do stop to look at what they’re doing. This isn’t the time to be anti-social, this is the time to get out your extrovert hat and wear it loud and proud, and if you can’t do that, get someone who can! Get a cover for your table, get a banner if you can, if not, get a nice print out for your name with some art and maybe rates for commission on it. Get business cards! And when you make money from this, save it, use it to keep improving. Improve your tools, improve your display, improve your booth. If you’re complaining about not making enough money, then you’re obviously looking at this as a business venture, but are you treating it like one?

Make sure that you’re presenting your best work. It doesn’t have to be the most amazing work ever in the history of art, but it does need to be your best. If you’ve improved vastly since your current set of prints, make new prints! If your name tag/banner has old art that doesn’t look good by your current standards anymore, replace it with a new one ASAP! If you’ve done a few comics books and the first few are rough, keep them around, but showcase the good ones that you’re proud of. Show people that your worth checking out, and encourage them to check out your fellow artists as well.

Most importantly of all: Don’t get discouraged. You attitude will carry through in how you are interacting with people. If you’re discouraged, unhappy, frustrated, or just plain mad your visitors will smell it from a mile away. Don’t complain about the con, don’t complain about your fellow artists, don’t complain about the con goers. Don’t make fun, tease, or bicker. You may hate the loud mouthed son of a mother next to you, and the con might be the worst run piece of garbage you’ve ever encountered. That one fellow in the My Little Pony onesie might be the funniest thing you’ve seen in sixteen years, but remember this one simple rule: Don’t be a dick. I know it sounds like I’m joking, but I’m taking a somewhat light-hearted tone to tell you something very serious. Bad attitudes, rudeness, or just plain mean attitude is the quickest way to lose customers, fans, and business. No matter how hard you’re trying to be quiet, someone is hearing you, I promise. Keep it to yourself. Share bad experiences with a close knit few friends who can understand, and not just commiserate but also offer ways to improve results in the future.

Lastly, but certainly not least: Listen to feed back from your customers, even if it’s things said in passing. “I was on my way to xyz booth and I saw you,” What did XYZ booth have that was so appealing? “I almost missed you sitting here,” What can you do to be more of a presence on the floor. “I saw you on (insert social media here),” Post there more, offer deals or discounts, do anything to get their attention. Learn from every experience (especially the bad ones) and you’ll find yourself improving all the time.

Remember to be an ambassador for the Indie community. Strive to put your best foot forward in everything you do. Let’s all shoot to never here the word “Indie” said with disdane again. Let’s work hard to hear “Ooh! Where’s the Indie section?” The only way we can do that is to improve ourselves and push to be better. This is what I’m striving for. I’m currently off the con circuit until 2015 so I can get my displays ready and prints up and ready to go, because I’m going to be practicing what I preach. I hope you guys will too :)

Part two, we’ll be talking about What’s Important. See you Wednesday!