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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Twitch

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A new series…

I’ve been trying to draw more and more…the story of my life. However, I have found some peace with the amount I’ve been drawing, and have also come up with some structure for creations I may be able to develope as pieces I could sell in my etsy shop. 

Here are two drawings – they are more exercises in color, which I love, than anything else. I want to do these more often with the hope that I’ll come up with some ideas for etsy paintings.  

“Stranger Things” Prints

My head is swimming with ideas, to-do lists, worries, more ideas and…some more ideas. I figured it may be nice to start the morning with some writing to try to calm the Creative Monster that I’ve unleashed.

A couple of weeks ago, I met with a local printer in town that I knew was not crazy expensive and with whom I’ve had a good relationship in the past. I was wondering if they’d be able to handle making prints of my art. The only experience I had with them was digital printing…the quick and dirty kind that doesn’t look super high quality. But maybe they had different printers now (or before and I just didn’t know it). The research I’ve done from sites online showed me that, while great quality, prints would be too expensive for what I’d like to charge. By the time I order, pay for shipping, then get it in my shop and have to ship it to (hopefully) a buyer…I just didn’t see how I’d make any money for the effort. So that lead me to Evolution Creative Services. I had a great meeting with the owner. They apparently print some artwork of a local watercolor artist, so that made me feel better. They use a Kodak Indigo printer, and their samples looked really nice.

So this week I sent over the first two pieces that will be 8×10 prints. Now to see how the quality is, what timing is like, etc etc. I have high hopes. Fingers crossed this works out!

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These are the first two in the planned Stranger Things series prints. I’d like to do Dustin and Mike next. I had done these two as original gouache paintings, and they are in my Etsy shop. Well, just Eleven, because Barb sold…within a day of posting. My one and only Etsy sale so far! I soon after made Barb into vector art, and just a couple days ago finished Eleven. Here’s a side by side screen shot – the gouache image is on the right.

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It takes quite some time to make these vector…but it’s kind of relaxing and rewarding, once done. And of course, allows me full control of the colors, which the designer in me loves.

For the next ones, I don’t think I’ll be making gouache paintings, but go right to the vector from my drawings. I think the cartoon-like style works well for them.

So my buckets right now are:

  1. Etsy – populate the shop…figure out what my market is…populate it with that. I think so far I’d like to focus on these things:
    1. monsters (cute for the most part)
    2. pop art (such as Stranger Things)
    3. robots (children’s art / children’s room art)
    4. animals (children’s art / children’s room art – some sort of theme)
  2. Illustration Portfolio
    1. Figure out my subjects for this: animals, characters and environments/nature?
    2. Research the hell out of other illustrators’ sites (proving very useful so far)
  3. Ongoing flow – social media upkeep
    1. daily sketches
    2. galleries in town?
    3. events in town?
    4. blog
    5. marketing plan

Ok. That kind of helped. Whew! I’m dedicating today to illustration, I think. Though there are still some other work graphic design day-job things I probably need to do. Yikes!

 

Blurb book arrived!

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After Inktober, I wanted to gather all of the Verntrupple drawings into a collection. I looked into Blurb.com, downloaded their InDesign plug-in, and got started.

The InDesign plug-in is amazing. You choose the type of book you want to design, the paper, the number of pages to start with and then go to town. There are guides and bleed marks. All of the production questions are answered via just using the template.

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After I got everything laid out how I wanted, I worked on the cover. Then when both files were finished, I uploaded them to blurb through InDesign. So crazy simple! I confirmed paper, the sizes, etc. Preflight was done and no errors were found. I was redirected to blurb.com and chose my quantity, shipping, and paid for the books. I ordered 10 to get a little discount, figuring it would be nice to have a few to play with / give away, etc.

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I’m very impressed with the quality of the printing. I chose a 6″ x 9″ trade book, keeping it cheaper this way. I chose the standard color printing, not the economy printing. The pages have visual bleed-through, but it isn’t bad and I expected this. The colors are vivid and crisp. I would give more inside margin room in the future, and I would also make the book more pages. Right now, it’s so thin…it just kind of feels flimsy, or like it should be a hard cover but isn’t.

I listed it on Etsy. Who knows – maybe someone would want to buy a cute little art book. I am giving a few away to family and friends. Oh, and yeah…trying to get that Etsy shop populated!

Reviewing Yourself = Hard

So far I’ve known I want to sell some sort of prints in a shop, as well as original art eventually. I’ve decided on Etsy as a shop, and I’m researching different print-creation options. While waiting for more samples to come in, I thought I should get a jump on what prints I’d actually want to have made so I can prepare the art files.

As I began to think about what the heck I’d actually pay to have made, knowing I probably won’t recoup that money any time soon, the decision proved to be a tough one.

First, as I mentioned, I don’t expect to actually sell anything for quite some time. Maybe some family members will purchase something, but I am fully aware that just because people ask if I have a shop or say “you should sell your art!” enthusiastically (as if I’d suddenly be able to quit my day job from my sales), I’m not guaranteed anything. Once the shop is up, I know I have a lot more work ahead, researching how to sell things, tap into markets, etc. But it’s all part of the process and the bigger plan: getting better and maybe become a children’s book illustrator.

To choose 10 prints (Etsy’s recommended shop opening volume), I had my husband help me – an eye that is “removed from the situation” that could look at my stuff more from a market point of view and tell me what he saw. What would people actually buy and why? Just because something may look cool doesn’t mean you can sell it. (I do think there is an important place for that work though, which I’ll get to later.)

What we came up with is pretty simple: I draw stuff for kids. However, my husband had a better, sexier way of putting it: “Children’s art for the discerning adult.” We started by just looking at my website, going through all the categories I have there and writing down things that looked like something someone might buy. And then after thinking about the importance of having a “look” or category to be in, we weeded out some of the drawings. What was left was animals and monsters.

CreativeSmith: a shop specializing in colorful ink drawings of animals and monsters doing the unexpected. Or something like that.

I was somewhat dumbfounded. That isn’t the kind of art that I drool over online. It’s not the kind of art that I follow from artists on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. Turns out my inspirations are just that – inspirations from other types of art, that I’m not directly creating myself, but am highly influenced by somehow. Interesting.

It was a great exercise, and I now feel a little more prepared to start the shop with something, and then build it on that foundation. Product: children’s art. Market: Parents buying products for their children’s life. It’s a start anyway.

I have other ideas that I want to get in to, eventually, as I continue to carve out illustration in my day, and practice and create more. And the work that looks cool but isn’t “sellable”? Well that will be how I have the most fun with all of this: interacting with people, showing flexibility and variety in my portfolio, and exploring styles and mediums.

Here is a snapshot of the first ideas I have for the chosen pieces. They all need some production and color work before I make prints. I guess I’ll start getting busy.110316_firstshopideas

 

I draw a lot of elephants, apparently. Also, I really enjoy drawing monsters, so I hope I can make that sell.

And now, I leave you with a picture from a 30 minute sketching session I did yesterday on mimes. They creep me out, but everyone on facebook really seemed to like these guys! I bet the limited color helps.

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