• Jan7

    After reading about a current dustup about a certain clothing design by Old Navy, It got me thinking about the term “starving artist”. It doubtless comes from the same wellspring from whence Old Navy’s shirt design originated.  For those of us who try to make a living in creative fields, the usage of the phrase certainly runs counter to our efforts. I’m proud of those who stood up to Old Navy, but lately I’ve begun to suspect that expressions like these are merely symptoms of, rather than the origin of, this sentiment. Rather than coming from outside of the creative community, it more likely comes from within.

    The Appeal of Starvation

    First, let’s lump artists, designers, and all creative types under “Artist” for the sake of convenience, for the time being, as there are many fields of creative industry that suffer from this stigma. Now believe it or not, I’ve heard artists in different fields brag about starving. Well, not about starvation per se, but about how they worked 80 hour weeks, living off ramen and sacks of potatoes.  This type of humble-brag may find it’s origin in the mystique of the stalwart avant garde, who must sacrifice life and limb for concepts that are so far ahead of the societal curve that they must wait for public opinion (and funding) to catch up. It may have come from nostalgia for the adventurous gauntlet of paying one’s dues in the difficult but heady days of art school. But these were Artists well out of school, with jobs, taking what would otherwise be seen as poverty and unacceptable labor conditions and making them a badge of honor. Maybe it’s just sour grapes in reverse, or penance for making even a little money doing something you like. If you even like it.

    But other than pointless self flagellation for whatever weird psychosis we collectively share, we should all realize that we needn’t starve, for the same reason that those in other professions need not starve. We provide a service, a necessary good to society, which can, and should, be paid for. Read More

  • Apr4

    Cartoon Fox Family

    These are the cartoon versions of some real life friends of mine, actually surnamed “Fox”, and their overly affectionate feline, Gandalf the gray…cat. They currently endeavor to leave our soon to be dimmed presence to render ministry of the campus variety to the students of MTSU through the organization known as CRU, in darkest Tennessee, not far from an old stomping ground of mine, actually. I suggested a comic strip to garner support by telling their stories in an engaging way, by using the above avatars of themselves to take advantage of what Scott McCloud calls “the masking effect” (look it up, it’s legit, and it works wonders for the Penny Arcade guys). If you are so inclined, pop over to their blog and render unto them love and support!

  • Jul30

    House on Mountain Evening Scene Thumbnail

    House on a Mountain: Evening Scene

    The image above is what I hope will be the first among many attempts at creating landscapes and/or environments by me. It will be sold as a vector clip art stock illustration, and it has already been accepted at a few microstock sites (click the image to go to one). Most of my freelance requests come from clients who want figurative/character-based t-shirt designs. This results in my drawing lots of “mascots floating in space”. Nothing wrong with that, I love doing it, but I recently realized that I am very much out of practice with creating the environments that these characters might “live in”. I also came to realize that this would severely limit me in some upcoming projects I want to get started on. Read More

  • Jun28

    Gl stock images giant yellow robot

    This image is based on a very old sketch of mine. I’m finding microstock websites a good way to make old or unused work profitable, as well a way to get my illustrations in front of more eyeballs, perhaps leading to commissioned custom work.
    If you are solely interested in vector (infinitely scalable) stock illustrations, I also recommend toonvectors.com. They offer a very fair royalty to their contributors, and good prices for buyers. Check them out!

  • Jun9

    Gl stock images giant yellow robot

    When I’m not working on new commissions and I have some time to spare, I try to submit work to microstock agencies. Microstock agencies sell royalty free licenses of your work to designers, directors, and other content creators. Of all the agencies I use, I would like to put a particularly bright spotlight on GL stock Images, formerly called Graphic Leftovers. It’s a great place to show and sell non-comissioned work to the public, and also a great place to sell your… well, graphic leftovers. 🙂

    Fair trade… downloads?

    I wish GL Stock would get more attention, because they are a “fair trade” microstock agency. This means that  they pay a 52% commission to their contributors, including extended licenses. So if buying buy fair trade coffee, clothing, or anything else is important to you, please consider also using a microstock agency that compensates its artists fairly. It would help us to continue to do, that voodoo, that we do, so WELLLLLL!

    This agency has several of my images available already, such as the the cool looking robot at the top of this article. This Robot, by the way, was also accepted into the prestigious GL Collection, a collection within the main site for images worthy of special mention. If you would like to buy it, then click the image above,or to visit the main site, click this:

    Gl-stock-images-badge2

  • May26

    “Hey, man, I’ve got this great idea for a (insert imaginary project here)! I’d love for you to do the artwork for it. I can’t pay you right now, but it’s such a great idea, I’m sure that it will make us both a ton of money later.”

    Well…  🙁

    This awkward moment is brought to you by a situation that is the inverse of the one discussed in my last post .  Instead of wanting to walk away owning a picture, this person gives you the “elevator pitch” for a long term partnership, and they want you in on the ground floor. It could be a children’s book, a script they want storyboarded, a cartoon television series, or any other project that needs your artistic vision to succeed. But for whatever reason, they can’t pay you right now. Or, perhaps they can pay something, but not what the project would actually cost. You may also hear phrases such as these: “My company is a startup.” “I need your artistry to pitch the idea to investors/studio execs/publisher.” Batting eyelashes or a smoldering gaze can also be brought to bear. I’ve even heard tales of tantalizing artists with baked goods, which are awesome, but don’t fit so well into bill envelopes. It is known collectively as speculative work.

    Spec you later!

    Many blog posts and internet articles warn against speculative work as a drain on time and resources. But much of the advice I have read on this topic stops with the old “don’t work for free, unless its pro bono, because it will never pay off” maxim and leaves it at that. You’re left thinking of all these proposals as con jobs or fool’s errands.  But I think this is an over-simplification. Sometimes speculative work can be very attractive. Herein, I will try to get a little further into the risks inherent in accepting this kind of work that goes beyond “trust me, it won’t work”. Read More

  • May25

    “What’s the deal with this contract? Can’t I just buy the picture and be done with it?”

    🙁

    This awkward moment is brought to you courtesy of a typical situation: A freelance client who is new to the world of creative service wants a simple solution to a seemingly simple problem. All they want is a picture. They can’t draw, and you can. So why not just take the money and hand it over? Before I answer this question, I just want to say I’m not a lawyer, so nothing that follows is to be taken as legal advice in any way. That said, let’s jump in…

    The price of a doodle

    Let’s say this client is only asking for a simple drawing, nothing big, just a cartoon. What is that worth? Collective wince as you hear, “it depends”. For an artist, an image has at least three main ways of being worth something in terms of setting a price:

    1. The time and/or skill that was taken to create an image: The more skill, the more time, the more expensive. The artist is likely still making loan payments for what it cost to learn this skill (ahem).
    2. The cost of the materials required to make an image: This could be anything from canvas and paint to printing equipment, or even super-expensive computer equipment and software.
    3. Copyright ownership: Determining who owns the image outright can and should have a large effect on the images cost.
    4. Usage: If the artist maintains copyright, how it is used by the client will determine its cost.

    In my experience, Most clients don’t have too difficult a time understanding the first two concepts, but the third and fourth that gives a novice art buyer more trouble. I have had more than a few would-be clients cease to be interested in doing business when I mention a contract that defines copyright ownership and usage. In their minds, an image created by an artist should be like any other consumable good that they buy at the store. You buy a toaster, you take it home, it’s your toaster, no contract. Why should a purchasing an image be any different, especially if it’s “just a simple little drawing”?
    Read More

  • May16

    Vector Cartoon Of A Hipster Robbing An Aging Frat Guy At Gunpoint

    Recently after a discussion about portable credit card readers used with smartphones, I had a sudden flash of inspiration: What if muggers started using them, and insisting that their victims pay by credit card? It would be very foolish to conduct such an unlawful act as a traceable transaction, but still the more I thought about it, a funny image came into view.

    Who would perpetrate such a crime? An early-adopting member of hipster culture seemed to be a likely and humorous choice. What would a hipster mugger look like? He would probably disguise his identity using a scarf with the iconic handlebar mustache emblazoned on it (coming to a Pinterest board near you). And of course he would only use a vintage era pistol to “encourage” his victim. Speaking of which, the likely victim would be an aging frat guy “broseph” type, natural enemy of the hipster. If arrested, the suspect would likely plead “ironic”, and once in custody he would likely tell his cellmates that he was doing credit card muggings before they were cool.

    Above is the resulting cartoon! If you like it and would like to use it, clicking the above image will take you to graphicleftovers.com where it is available in vector and .jpg and vector formats at very reasonable prices!

  • Jan5

    Cover illustration for a kid's adventure novel about wizards

    A client/friend of mine is working on a kid’s adventure novel about wizards and an alternate universe. He contracted me to illustrate the cover. I used Corel Painter with very basic settings to do the job. I’m in the process of developing a new personal style, and I hope this project goes a little way towards accomplishing that goal.