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!

Instagram
Twitch

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Update: LibraryCon is done!

Oh man…where have I been, blog? Busy. And…more busy. I feel like a little chapter of sorts is over for my illustration. Inktober came and went, and so did the LibraryCon I just participated in. So, I am using this time to set some goals and make some plans for this  illustration stuff!

LibraryCon was super fun. The Kenton County Public Library’s Erlanger branch puts this on every year, though I’m not sure how long they’ve been doing it. One of the organizers found my Etsy page and invited me to participate based on the Stranger Things art I had in my shop:

So I agreed to…and then used this opportunity to kind of fill out the Stranger Things fan art portfolio. Season 2 came out October 27th, and I got busy watching and drawing. I had drawn 3 characters after season 1 (Eleven, Barb, and Dustin), then made 4 more inspired by season 2. Whew! Here are the additional ones (and Dustin).

After the illustrations were done (or actually simultaneously, really), I got busy prepping for the show. I made some business cards, created and got a banner printed, made pricing signs, printed prints, cut prints (so much cutting), inserted prints into sleeves I purchased on Amazon, bought a tablecloth and 8×10 insert holders, got some additional display items for the table, and put together a look book of other ink drawings I’ve done. Whew again! Yep, I was busy.

Saturday was the day – and here’s the table setup:

The Con was fun. We got there early and set up. Greg had his Star Wars prints at one end of the table as well. There were a few other artists there, and I had a great time chatting with them and talking about possibly doing the Lexington ComicCon that they all participate in. The library fed us Chipotle, which was unexpected and nice. I made three sales (selling 11 prints). I also got to chat with some kids and parents about art, which was super fun. Many friends stopped by. It just really couldn’t have been a more positive, awesome experience. Creative immersion.

I’m pretty inspired now, and have been spending time today working on my illustration strategy. In no particular order, I’m working through:

  1. How to further manage my online presence (twitter, instagram, blog)
  2. My online portfolio strategy (website)
  3. Etsy strategy  (zomg the holidays are coming!)
  4. Twitch Creative streaming strategy (twitch.tv/StephanieSmithCreative)
  5. Commissions
  6. Future Art/Comic Conventions

Honestly, tomorrow I need to get busy back on commissions. Yikes.

So yeah! I worked on my Twitch Creative channel information today, and kind of made a decision about when I am going to stream and what subjects. I am going to break it into some categories: Etsy work, Commissions, Skills Practice, and Fan Art. I’m super happy about this categorization. I need to know what I’m doing / what my end goals are.

Next up, I’m going to work out a commissions schedule. I have quite a few, and they are all coming up to being due. So priority there! I know what I’ll be streaming Monday night…