Conventions are not a place of subtlety. Walking the show floor you quickly become overloaded with visual information: walls of colorful prints, vendor booths that reach to the moon, cosplayers, and crowd noise bombard your senses. How can an artist stand out? By doing what we always do -- playing by our own rules.Read More
It’s the morning after C2E2 2018 and everyone in my house is a complete zombie.
Throughout last year, I worked to hire a dedicated salesperson to sell my work at conventions without me. Having Elaine take over convention sales for me has been amazing. The work she puts in has allowed me to focus on my health, my work and my family. Having not personally attended any conventions in nearly 6 months, my big takeaway from coming back is how fucking hard these things are.Read More
Like any artist I like to have my supplies close at hand. I have a pretty good sized bedroom dedicated to my studio space, but there are still size constraints. After cleaning and remodeling I didn't want to go back to a cluttered and cramped space where I found it oppressive to work...Read More
As one of the newest tools in the Independent Artist’s drawer, the prospect of launching a Patreon campaign can be both highly appealing and deeply fraught. Let’s get a clear look at what you need to successfully begin as a creator on the platform.Read More
One of the things I wanted for my studio was a light box. I do a lot of ink work these days and I like to sketch digitally. In the past I chose to print out my sketch as blue line and ink over the top, removing the blue lines later in Photoshop to produce a clean digital final. I love original art, and for awhile I've wanted to find a way to produce crisp clean original ink drawings.Read More
One Fantastic Week started with a simple idea. Sam and I wanted to share the kinds of conversations we've had at cons with a wider audience. We didn't know where that would lead, but we knew that if all learned from each other, that we'd all grow stronger together.
Recently, we've been seeing a lot of really amazing examples of independent success from around the community and we wanted to start highlighting them. Rather than refine down the stories into a real blog format, I just want to post them as they happen. This is a recent conversation with one of our community members who I reached out to on Facebook. Oddly enough, these sorts of convention reports are starting to become a common feature of my inbox.Read More
Over the last few years, I’ve built a business I’m really proud of. Not only because it makes enough money to support a comfortable life for my family, but also because it’s built entirely on the back of my own personal artwork. By paying close attention to the lives and businesses of artists more experienced than myself, I’ve created something that will sustain me financially and creatively for the rest of my life. As a repayment to the community that’s helped me achieve this, I’ve been working to hold the door open for other artists who aspire to the same goals.
I want to help you make a comfortable living, making the kind of art you want and selling it directly to your fans.Read More
Over the last 2 years, I’ve only ever made artwork for Angelarium. No fan art, no commissions, no freelance. It’s been great but I'm developing an itch.
The success of the project has had the wonderful side effect as well. By voting with their money, the fans of Angelarium have completely priced me out of the freelance market. There is no client I’ve encountered that can come close to matching the value that my fans put on my work. Getting to tell a bunch of low ball commissioners ‘no’ has been a pleasure but I’m starting to wonder if I’m building too high a wall around myself. I really do want to work on other projects sometimes, but it’s hard to justify when the pay is so much lower.Read More
As artists we are often told to specialize. I think some of that comes from the advantage of mastering one technique at a time. In sales, specializing or focusing your product line is also key. However, the opposite option is not as often discussed, but is equally as valid—that of the generalist.
The generalist is an artist who approaches art like a science, a series of skills to be mastered, based on a foundation of art history, and with the ability to transition into any chosen field within the wider art market. Ron Lemen is one artist that comes to mind who has chosen this path.Read More
When describing the journey we take to better ourselves as artists, we talk about a “career path”. Sometimes this is envisioned like a walk through a forest or scaling a mountain trail. These metaphors fail us too often because it supposes that there is an intended goal to achieve, a peak to conquer. The problem is that conquering a career goal often leads to a dead end. Each time we can no longer move forwards, whether it's because our goals have been met or because they've been cut short, will inevitably require significant backtracking to find new routes. Doing this over and over again, it's easy to see how twisted these paths really are. This world we're navigating is a maze. A huge and daunting maze without a clear goal or solution.Read More
I’ve just gotten back from Anime Central 2017 and I want to share some results of my ongoing experiments. This year, I had a 120% increase in sales from my last time as a vendor. To put that in context, I was getting a 10x return on my investment in 2015. That’s enough of a jump for me to want to talk about what went right so that you can reproduce the results for yourself and for science!Read More
Selling my artwork at comic and gaming conventions has had a huge impact on shaping my path to becoming an independent artist. I’m writing this today as a way to say thanks to the artists who have influenced me and to pay it forward to new artists breaking into the world of sci-fi/fantasy/comic art! For the past year I’ve been able to take the lessons I’ve learned, some good art, and make a moderate living wage by only freelancing and exhibiting at conventions. What follows are some of the key practices that have led to my success with selling my work at conventions!Read More
In March of 2016 I ran a successful Kickstarter to fund my book “The Illustrated Havamal.” With the help of 472 backers, I raised $35,108 for the project.
As I was running the campaign, I spoke to Dan Dos Santos about the idea of writing an article on running a Kickstarter and submitting it to Muddy Colors. Dan's response was that everyone wants to do an article about running a Kickstarter, and there are tons of them online already (go ahead, do an internet search, he’s not wrong), but there are very few articles about what a Kickstarter looks like on the back end. Dan said "I’m way more interested in the real cost of running a Kickstarter."
I imagine if you’re still reading this, like Dan, you're interested too. So here it goes…
I’ve had ADHD for my entire life. I saw one doctor described it as “diabetes of the mind”. This is a story of why I decided to seek help.
Over the course of a 51 day period I finished just one painting. Just one. That’s a big departure from finishing one every 7 days. Thinking back on that time, I can easily spin a yarn about where the time went. It’s fair to say that this was the largest, most involved painting I’ve made for Angelarium to date. Considering it was painted while I was trying to put my taxes together and travel to Seattle for Emerald City Comic Con, I might have a plausible excuse for why this took me so long. The truth is far more embarrassing.
I received 1000 enamel pins in the mail yesterday with the 1FW logo on them. Sam and I agreed that it was a great idea to get them made, but not because we wanted to make a ton of money on them. The truth is that more than anything, I just want to see these on people's art bags and lapels around places Illuxcon every year.Read More
There is an expectation that the beautiful things we enjoy will find success, but that’s not always true. Anyone who has had their favorite TV show get canceled in its prime knows how this goes. Some of our most beloved things don’t have a mechanism to be sustained. That’s part of why I’m such a staunch advocate for Patreon.
I’ve seen Patreon provide support where no other system could, the most recent example is my favorite cosplayer, Christine Sprankle.Read More
Don’t worry, I’m not going to force you to read this whole article to pay out the click bait title. Here it is, a new mantra to build your wealth and happiness as an artist:
Make your art available for sale before you promote it online.
This is so obvious, you may not consider it worthy of a written article and yet, ask yourself if you’ve actually followed this rule. I’m committing this to writing because it has become the most common piece of advice I’ve been offering to my compatriots. Too often, I see people do a wonderful job sharing their work, only to have the party clear out before they set up the merch table. Bands make sure their shirts and CDs are for sale while they are still on stage and so should you.
Let’s break it down.Read More
Most artists seek out other artists and creative types. No one really “gets you” like another artist. It’s how we find colleagues, mentors, and friends. The time I spend with other artists is some of the most special time I have. The desire and advantages of participating in art communities in person and online are both huge and easy to understand.
Thanks to the internet, it’s easier than ever to find other artists. It’s so easy, in fact, that you can create a world for yourself that’s almost exclusively art friends, and before you know it, you find yourself in an art bubble. Your social media will be filled with amazing pictures that both inspire you and occasionally make you want to quit. You will begin to think everyone is in the process of making their own intellectual property, and that everyone’s doing a Kickstarter.Read More
This weekend, I rented a 20 foot by 10 foot slab of concrete for 3 days at a cost of $4000. Let’s take a walk through that choice and I’ll let you know how it turned out.
Over the past year and a half, I’ve been readdressing the way I sell my work at conventions. After about 10 years of doing them as cheaply as possible, I started to realize that I had been doing a poor job at getting the most out of my time. I decided to scrap my old setup and rebuild it from scratch, doing my best to emulate the way the top performing artists were displaying their work rather than relying on what seemed to be the most popular approaches. This yielded a year where I first doubled my average sales and then doubled them again, leading to sales figures that were previously impossible for me.Read More
Imagine you had a job where you not only had to come up with ideas for stuff, but you had to come up with GREAT ideas on nearly a daily basis in order to keep your job. That is the job of a concept artist and oftentimes an illustrator. Doesn't sound easy does it?Now imagine that instead of working for someone else, you worked for yourself? Not only do your ideas have to be great, they have to be THE BEST and they have to be UNIQUE.
But how do you learn to develop ideas? Let's say you can paint circles around everyone in your field - that's great! You can sell an idea like nobody's business and that's a big leg up.Read More