Inktober: moving right along!

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Well it’s about to be day 9 of Inktober, and I feel I’m still going strong. I’ve ran out of my ‘”Sketchtember” sketches for the planned prompt list drawings, so now it’s getting a little bit hairy to fit it all in. But so far, I’ve still been able to make it happen. I like separating sketch days from the inking days, or at least on different items. I like just thinking about the one thing or the other.

I’m looking forward to some time to put these into a book format. Little weird stories about these odd people of Bricklefield. Maybe do some additional illustrations for other things about the town, like a town map, or some of the buildings perhaps? It looks like I’m going to make an art book – woohoo!

I can thank my patrons on my Patreon page whole-heartedly for this opportunity. (Check it out…pledges start at $1 a month ;))Β  I am trying to think about how I can produce more cool stuff throughout the year. Maybe not as big as a book, but other cool stuff. It’d be really awesome if I could come up with a regular product that people would want to throw a patronage in for. Still trying to figure that out…

On to work and then drawing and inking tomorrow’s prompt: flowing.

 

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People!

I’ve gotten some commissions over the years to do people. At first it always seemed strange to me, because I’ve never thought of myself as a people-drawer…even though I do enjoy drawing people. My cartoon-like, simple style was attractive to some, for some reason. Ok, I’ll take it!

The chain reaction from these has been interesting. It started with a group…which lead to some personal drawings for people within that group. Then to other people outside of that group that saw other drawings. That’s how things work, I guess! Which just emphasizes to me how important word of mouth is, and sharing what you do so people see it and think, “hey, I’d like something like that.”

Here are some of the drawings. I kind of want to go through my elementary school year book and draw my class from a good year. It’d be good practice!

I’m hoping to really get things under control and carve out time for drawing more soon. It’s not going to happen unless I make a big change with work, but I think it’s what I want to do.

Drawing Distractions.

I have some new ideas for 2018 that I’m really excited about. I started a Patreon page, which I think will be fun and help shape my art process better. I am really hoping to try to increase the time I spend illustrating. I have been planning and planning, thinking and thinking…and after a bit, I keep finding myself so frustrated. I’ve been here before. In fact, it appears to be a cycle of sorts.

Tonight I think I figured out why I only get frustrated when I have time to draw – by time and what little I can crank out. But I think it’s because of all the time I spend looking at other people’s art on Instagram.

I love Instagram. I am following so many amazing artists – showcasing all kinds of different styles, subjects and tools. There is soooo much talent and inspiration out there. I always thought by immersing myself in that world, I’d be more inspired for my own creative endeavors. Maybe I’d even absorb some talent through osmosis. πŸ˜‰ But here’s what I think is actually happening. I’m seeing finished art. Amazing finished art. And I want to also post amazing finished art. So I get busy, quickly making something so that I can finish it and have it to share. And by doing that – working that way – I think that I’m completely ruining my own connection to my creativity.

I look back at older stuff I did (pre social media) and sometimes am pretty amazed by what I came up with sometimes. My execution may have been a little rough, but quirky, really, Steph ideas. Now I don’t seem to have any good ideas. So then I get on Instagram to get inspired…and …well, it’s a viscous cycle, I’m afraid.

So, I think I need to unplug from Instagram a bit. Most people are addicted to Facebook, but I’m addicted to the art stream I guess. I think it’s overwhelming me to see so many ideas and end products. I need to reconnect with my own quirky brain if I’m going to write and illustrate a children’s book this year. I need more time with process and changing things. Sketching and redrawing.

Yep. This is going to be hard. I love looking at all of these artists’ work! But I’m going to try to disconnect for a little bit and see if that helps my own creativity come back to me.

SmithMail!

I’m thinking about making a subscription envelope of my art for 2018. This would be to help keep me focused on creation of a children’s book, and hopefully just have a lot of fun creating and interacting with “fans”!Β  πŸ™‚

Here’s a first sketch of what would be inside:

  • 5″ x 7″ print of one of my favorites – current work and work from over the years.
  • Stickers!
  • Monthly coloring page design – for you, your kids, your friends’ kids: everyone!
  • Mystery item! This could be a little story about one of my characters, a poem, another drawing, or an original sketch.

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I’m not sure how much people would be interested in spending. Maybe I’ll ask some people who I may think would be even slightly interested in this.

An Announcement for 2018

I’ve started up the Morning Monsters again! Woohoo! Here are the first three.

 

I’m having fun with these. There is a small bit of character challenge in them – trying to come up with different looking monsters with different monster personalities that have different monster backgrounds…Β I’m trying to immerse myself in what I love to do more and more.

Which brings me to the second part of this post: Plans for 2018.

I am going to create a children’s book!

I am not sure what it will be yet – or anything about it really. I just know that:

  1. This is a dream of mine.
  2. I think I have some quirky stories in me that could make fun books with fun illustrations.
  3. It will be fun.

Let me be clear that this isn’t a “I want to become a children’s book illustrator” announcement (though I do think this experience will help that goal). This is a “Here’s what I want to create next” announcement. I really want to create a children’s book – develop a story, develop characters, craft it all up, illustrate it, work work work…Β  I am not sure what the end product(s) will even be. It may be nothing more than a mockup or a couple of Blurb books I fork over money to have made. But this is going to be my creative discipline for the foreseeable future, and I’m really excited! It’s what I’ve always wanted to do, and I’m not sure what I’m waiting for any more.

The other part of it is that I would love to build a community around it. I hope to have some fun social media tools to help with thisΒ  beyond Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. I’m not sure what that’s going to be yet. It may be Patreon, it may just be this blog, it may be some sort of newsletter? Still figuring this part out.

So yay – a book! That’s going to mean more drawings! Challenging and pushing my skills to create things I haven’t yet! Characters! Writing!!!

I’m excited and I hope you come with me on this journey. More soon.

 

Illustration = 25% of my work day

As many of my friends know, I’m really trying to make a go at this illustration stuff. I’d love to have it be a bigger part of my career, and I’m happy to say that I feel I have some momentum heading in that direction.

This fall, I’ve been doing some work with my first official illustration client. It’s some children’s-book-art-like drawings for a paper that will be published in the education field. It’s been super fun to work on so far! Fun subjects and a fantastic client. I’m drawing things I’ve never drawn, and it’s certainly pushed me creatively. It has also been great to see how the process has unfolded, and how similar it has been to my professional graphic design processes with clients. There’s a schedule, deadlines, meetings, feedback…beautiful! I am thankful that I already have all of this experience down thanks to my independent graphic designer career.

I’ve also had quite a few commissions recently. Some baby room art…and some more baby room art. Each one has been different: from creating a unique scene from the ground up, to a simple request of just drawing something however I’d like to, to taking existing pieces I’ve done and customizing them in color and size and adding another piece to fit into them. Commissions are challenging. I’ve struggled with timing and my estimates have been pretty far off, but I’m learning. I’m also learning how to incorporate this type of work into my day. (And then there are some additional ones to start next year: a motorcycle rally t-shirt design, laundry room art mural for my mom, spirit animal drawings for a friend…talk about diverse!)

Due to all of this work, as well as some other illustration initiatives I’ve made for myself, I believe a shift is happening – from illustration being just a hobby and something I cram in on the weekends or at night to part of my career. Hence this blog title – “Illustration = 25% of my work day.” I am starting to carve out part of my days for dedicated illustration work, and I think it’s going to be good.

I have no intentions of leaving graphic design as my main career, but I’m curious to see what I can make of illustration along with it. I’m expanding my creative brush stroke, I suppose. It’s going to continue to take a lot of extra hours, exploration, and patience. But I’m having a great time so far, so I feel pretty good about it.

Some things that I plan to work on and develop more:

  1. My Etsy shop. It’s a slow build…but I’m continuing to focus on it.
  2. Twitch Art Stream. I’ve been streaming for a couple months now on Twitch, and it has helped so much with project discipline and immersing myself in a creative environment. I’ve never drawn so much, so frequently!
  3. Patreon. I’m beginning to create a Patreon for myself, to launch in 2018. I think it partners well with Twitch and Etsy creations. I’m still working on what it would all mean for products, rewards, content, etc. Quite a shift from my graphic design business head, but I think it’s a pretty cool business model.
  4. HUGE personal project: creating some sort of children’s book. I have so many notes of different children’s story ideas, and I’m itching to create characters soooooo badly. I think it’s high time I focus on the creation, even if it only means self-publishing. I want to create.
  5. Create for the Cincinnati Comic Expo. I had so much fun at the Library Con I went to…and can see the potential for a super fun time at a Comic Expo. It’s something I’d like to try out.

In the meantime, the beagle still watches me work, waits for me to drop a piece of whatever snack I’m eating while at my desk, and asks for dinner at 3:00 every afternoon.

As always, I appreciate all of the support everyone gives me. I’d love for you all to continue to follow along to see what I can create next. I’m going to start blogging more. And I’m still instagramming a bunch. And goodness…get on Twitch and come hang out with me in my channel!

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