In this post I declared my intentions to start uploading a ton of simple designs to my print on demand sites in the year 2022. After the explosion of AI generated images, I already can’t believe that I once wrote that I worried about the ethics of manipulating stock art that I bought the rights to use…what a difference a year makes.
Anyway… I managed to cram a total of 200+ designs into my two most frequently used print-on-demand stores before the year ended, and have been doing my best to shove more in as we enter 2023. So the question becomes: did it help?
All my art life (which is actually all my life now that I think about it) I have worked to become a better and better artist. At some point, this became practicing every day to become a more technically excellent artist. I wanted very much to have a more steady hand, more economy of line, better compositions, superior color combinations, more dynamic movement, a better grasp of anatomy, and a better command of an ever-growing box of tools, including digital tools.
Sometimes, a piece I do won’t be used by my client.
Rejection can be surprising and downright disappointing. If I recall correctly, the two pieces below were actually declined right around the same time. It was very tempting to wallow and mope and decide there was no point in trying anymore because clearly, no one wanted me in their book ever again. Maybe you’ve felt the same if you got a rejection cluster.
Instead of giving up though, I got back up. I certainly allowed myself some wallowing and moping, sure! …But then I took a deep breath and got back to the business of making the next thing I was passionate about.
In the past, I have bared my withered, jaded artistic soul to you all on the subjects of Popularity, Ambition, Commission Work, Spec Work, and ScrewUps. Today, I am going to tackle SELLING OUT. From a PRO SELLOUT STANDPOINT NO LESS! So strap in, sharpen your pitchforks, light those torches …or just scroll to the end for a wealth of tips on how to sell out efficiently so you don’t have to do all the tedious research I did.
Selling Out: An Overview
So first off, what do I mean by “selling out?” For my purposes, I’m not talking about making money from your own art, unless you’re literally making art you hate for money. Actually, I’m talking about completely phoning it in and using all of your painstakingly acquired design skills to quickly make stock art and fonts into designs you can sell. I am talking about the laziest, most money-grubbing (legal!!!!) use of your artist skills imaginable.
WARNING: I’m going to talk about sellout art and sellout artists a LOT until you get over any kneejerk reactions you might have to that phrase. Because I might be a little sick of artists just …never being expected to make any money from their hard-won art and design skills, or only being allowed to make money in a certain way that is sufficiently prestigious or noble.
Generally, when artists decide to “sell out,” it’s a financial decision. Their pleasure from personal expression isn’t enough to offset their monetary needs, so they gloomily resort to selling out in order to survive. I don’t think selling out is automatically a BAD thing, as you might have guessed, but I’m not interested in doing it for survival. I’m interested in doing it for FUN.Continue reading →
So, it’s 2021. The world is in flames. Millions are dead. What are we all up to?
I’ll go first. I’m working on a book cover for a cool novel.
The novel, called Blue Feathers, Bright Flames, is one of three projects I’m really excited about at the moment. The second is illustrations for my own book, and the third is a bunch of leggings ideas I want to make for Whimsies Leggings. So that will all be a lot of fun, I expect. Truthfully though, I’m even more excited about watching my children flop around, so that’s what I’m doing most of the time. But this is an art blog so
I’ve also adjusted my expectations…a LOT.
For one, my novel needs a lot more work! It’s been stuck in Development Hell since April 2020, as the pandemic wreaked havoc on different plans I had for it involving collaborators. That has all had to be scrapped. No one is coming. But, I’m ready. Let’s do this, Me.
I’ve also recently realized that clients change over time just like I do. This was the year that I learned that a client who has needed my help in the past won’t necessarily need it going forward. I had to grieve for an old business relationship or two, but ultimately it just meant I had more time to help other people.
As a part-time freelance artist, I’ve raised money for day trips and dates, medical help for family members and friends, art supplies, booth rentals, and presents. I even managed to raise some money for charity. I’ve had a pretty good run! I’ve been able to do many things I could not have otherwise done.
It is with these things in mind that I will now proceed to destroy my artistic reputation forever.
I’ve been a jerk more times than I can count, although I will attempt to count them for this article. But one common thread has united virtually all of my artistic knavery.
I speak of AMBITION.
Almost every (art related) act I’m ashamed of stemmed from my artistic ambitions. It’s not pretty! But if you’ve seen my gallery, you already know that “pretty” is not the goal here, so let’s get started.
Let me start out by saying WE ARE IN AN EXPERIMENT TOGETHER.
I’m a prolific and modestly successful obscure artist. At the time of this writing, 251 people have a passing awareness of me on Twitter, 252 on Facebook, and 5 on Patreon. I think most of them overlap, so let’s call that 252 fans total. Weed out the bots and people who have abandoned the platforms and let’s call it 200.
I have been active as an artist online since 1995. This should tell you that I am not an authority on building a fanbase. You’re not here to listen to my expert advice, you’re here to observe me succeed or fail, and try some of the same things if you’re interested.
My free fantasy horror novel is now a podcast, one that I’m proud of! But, [as] [usual] I sure muffed up everything along the way making it happen. And not only me, but my buddies had their fair share of difficulties with it too. So let me take you, if I may, through the very strange journey of starting a podcast from scratch. Continue reading →
Tonight at an art reception I was very rightly advised to offer my digital art in limited editions. I’ve been sounded on the issue many times before, and I recently had fun offering a limited run of painted archival prints for Kickstarter’s make100 promotion. So why don’t I do this regularly? Continue reading →
For me, there exist only two kinds of art. Medium has nothing to do with it, nor does whether the piece is one-of-a-kind or reproduced, technically perfect or relatively unskilled, famous or obscure.
No, for me the only two kinds of art are Art you make for yourself and Art you make for others.
There is a lot of discussion and judgement on both sides from artists who believe that commercial art is not “true art,” or successful artists criticizing their peers for not considering the “business aspect” of art. All of them have valid ideas to consider. As for me, I only have one big assertion to make about the two kinds of art as I have defined them:
UPDATED 4/18/2017: FUNimation released a very helpful statement about fan art and trademark, read it here.
DISCLAIMER: I don’t have a law degree nor can I give legal advice.
I like to make fan art sometimes. Maybe you do too. But, you might be wondering: is it legal? Is it morally questionable? Is it bad for your career? Is it copying someone’s work? Let’s take a deep dive into this incredibly thorny topic and answer these questions for ourselves. Continue reading →
Simply put, a successful client is someone who receives their completed project on time, within budget, to their specifications. You might be surprised at how often this does NOT happen…but it doesn’t have to be that way. Here are several ways you can avoid being an unhappy client. Continue reading →
A few years ago I became friends with Lauren Tharp of LittleZotz Writing. I didn’t know she was a freelance writer, only that she was the significant other of my incredibly talented artist buddy Ramiro. When I did find out about her occupation, I was mildly interested simply because I wanted to get to know her. Little did I know exactly how invaluable it is for an artist to know a good freelance writer, or how mutually beneficial our friendship would prove to be over the years.
Here are a few reasons why you really need a good freelance writer in your life too! Continue reading →
One of my biggest assets that I’ve built over the years is my pile of mistakes. That may sound strange, but to me if a mistake teaches me a lesson, that mistake is very valuable. For me, some of my most valuable mistakes have been BUSINESS MISTAKES. And let me tell you, I’ve made a LOT of mistakes creating comics. Continue reading →
As of early this morning, I have a Patreon page! It was all unfamiliar to me, so I’ll share what I learned while setting up.
Keep in mind, I just learned about Patreon yesterday. I’d seen it once or twice before but I didn’t understand the mechanics. Well, I stayed up all night until my eyes bled, reading over everything and carefully combing through other creator pages. Here’s what I gleaned: Continue reading →
A lot of artists and other freelancers have opinions about “working on spec,” that is, doing work without compensation in hopes of obtaining a job or some other benefit in the future. Some maintain it’s a necessary evil in the industry, some believe it’s a good way to get exposure, and some urge you to avoid it like the plague.
I have just been invited to a very active and exciting local Barter Group on Facebook, so I’d like to discuss bartering with you today as a good means of getting art supplies, services and payment from clients and friends. Continue reading →