THROUGHOUT THE AGES, THE ACT OF DRAWING HAS BEEN A PREVALENT AND POTENT MEANS OF HUMAN EXPRESSION.
From raw cave paintings to elaborate murals, from the tiniest post-it sketch to the most complex composition imaginable; drawing is the backbone upon which a vast swath of great works have been built.
Drawings can be established in virtually all mediums and media, and all you need is a surface and a drawing utensil…That is to say, a piece of paper and a pencil.
The act of making marks upon a surface is something that we’re wired to do. Whether it’s letters of the alphabet or a complex mechanical juggernaut the core principles remain.
Drawing can allow us to express ourselves and our ideas, it can train use to think in ways that shift our perceptions to higher planes of cognizance.
It can be a therapeutic act of creative joy, or a delightful discipline that we pursue in an effort to reach mastery.
Chances are that if you’ve read this far, then somewhere inside of you burns the sincere interest to draw.
The point of this post is to stoke that burning desire– whether it’s a small candle or a roaring furnace, you can be taken on a journey that will show you not only what you can create, but reveal to you aspects of yourself that may surprise you.
So why should you follow that urge? What have you to gain from allowing yourself to create?
Well, as I hinted to earlier, the journey is the true reward, though another wonderful thing about drawing is that you have something to show for it.
Even more wonderful is that if you persist you will have a timeline of evolving works, the source of which is yourself.
From humble beginnings you can steadily (or explosively) grow your skills. Even if you’ve been at it for a while there’s always room to improve.
There’s nothing like a feeling of progress and achievement to layer atop the simple joy you can gain from sitting down and making work.
When you get right down to it, we only have some much time on this earth. That’s a fact.
Assuming you only get one shot, wouldn’t you like to allow that creative urge within you to express itself? It would be a shame to regret that you didn’t develop the talent that you naturally possess.
You could spend copious chunks of time playing games, watching netflix, and consuming media ad nauseum.
It’s not wise to cut those things out altogether, however, all you have to show for hundreds of hours in many games is a save file and some memories.
So what does one do in order to embark or continue upon this journey? How do you find an outlet? What do you study? The questions are seemingly endless, but allow me to simplify things a bit:
JUST DRAW IN YOUR SKETCHBOOK.
FILL PAGE AFTER PAGE.
Let the forms and ideas come into being through your pencil or pens.
Listen to music, or if you prefer, a good audiobook.
Pay attention to your thoughts, and train your already keen senses to perceive the work in new ways by squinting, flipping the work upside down, or holding it up to a mirror.
Over time your hand will grow more sure. Shoo away the thoughts of self-doubt and non-technical comparison to others. It’s apples to oranges.
There’s only one you doing what you do.
And the more you do it to the best of your ability, the better you will become.
FIND FRIENDS TO DRAW WITH, EVEN IF THEY’RE ONLINE. START A VIRTUAL SKETCHBOOK. (1)(2)(3)
Do it daily. But don’t over-do it (aka hurt your wrist and such.)
There isn’t any real need to compete (unless that’s your thing.) Give yourself the freedom and liberty to work.
That’s it, really. It all begins and ends with you.
Make time for it, obsess a little. Find out more about who your are through your sketchbooks, and find out how you and your work change with each sketchbook you fill.
Don’t forget to have fun, it really isn’t all that serious. Drawing is a game with few rules and many exceptions.
The image above is one I did when I was just leaving college. I was about to embark upon my journey as a freelance illustrator…
(All I wanted to do was draw and lift…college photo from 3-ish years ago^)
Sporting a decent portfolio and a potent drive for success, I began emailing people frantically in search of work.
I sent over 50 emails in the first week alone, using a list I had compiled through a technique I call “lead scraping.”
To my surprise, I actually got a few gigs.
The pay wasn’t great, but at least it was something. I completed the jobs, collected the money, and….
My clients were happy, but their budgets were limited.
They didn’t have the funds to rehire me to continue their projects– let alone pay me enough to keep up with my student loans.
This was a painful realization. My inbox was quickly filling up with No’s and my bank account was draining along with my inspiration. Things were looking grim.
I had to do something, ANYTHING…Or I was going to drown in depression and debt. My anxiety was at an all-time high, and my drive to succeed and all-time low…
but that didn’t matter, I had to find a solution.
I began to read books on business, and to dig through art blogs from artists who had already “made it.”
I kept my spirits up by confiding in friends who I knew would understand. I watched motivational videos and listened to audio programs that would help me keep things in perspective.
But above all, I did 3 things.
3 VERY IMPORTANT things.
It took me months to figure them out, but once I had these 3 keys to artistic success…doors opened, rejections mattered less, and my bank balance got out of the red.
It’s my sincerest hope that sharing these 3 methods with you will enable you to prosper as I have. Any artist who’s willing to improve their work knows that you have to improve yourself and your approach to life as well.
So here are my 3 my gifts to you:
1. Diversify you income.
2. Charge what you’re worth (to people and businesses who can pay it.)
3. Reinvest in yourself and your craft/business.
Sounds simple, no? Let’s take a closer look at each of these keys:
DIVERSIFY YOUR INCOME
Anyone, artist or not, who only has one way for money to come to them, is in jeopardy. You MUST spend time opening up new avenues of currency to come to you. In order to be sustainable as an artist, this is pretty much non-negotiable. Having just one client won’t cut it. You have to find people who will hire you on a regular basis and then find others who will do the same.
You can also start thinking about product creation, or selling your work online to fans instead of doing commissions. There are many, MANY ways to open up different income channels.
Spend some time thinking of ways you can use your art to provide value to others. I recommend taking 15–20 minutes a day to brainstorm methods through which you can open up avenues for your work to flow out and currency to flow in.
The point here is to really take the initiative with your income, realize that getting repeat clients and finding new ways to sell your work is going to help ensure that you’re growing your profits for years to come.
CHARGE WHAT YOU’RE WORTH
Seriously. So many artists have the terrible habit of under-cutting. I myself was guilty of this as well. It’s really hard when it seems like people won’t pay you more than $50 for a piece that takes 8+ hours.
The simple fact is, there are many people who will pay you more than that. MUCH more than that. The key is to connect with this people and not to be shy about asking for $500 instead.
Funded kickstarters, certain indie game teams, businesses that hire artists, the list goes on.
There’s always someone who you can make contact with who will pay you more. The key is to focus on digging for those people and then making a good impression with your work and personality.
If you’re lucky, you may have a decent industry for artists where you live– look for studios, as they’ll typically start with $33,000+ a year at entry level. It’s not great, but it’s definitely livable while you plan your next move, which should be to….
REINVEST IN YOURSELF
This is non-negotiable. You should be taking classes, going to figure drawing sessions, buying art books, finding courses and/or mentors to help you along your journey.
GROWTH is the factor that keeps you green and mean. Stay hungry, and be vigilant in looking for ways to do things better. I wouldn’t be anywhere NEAR where I am today if I hadn’t continued to take at least 15% of my income and put it back into increasing my skills and optimizing my process.
There you have it.These are the 3 things that will help you step it up in terms of your abilities and your income. Above all, don’t stress yourself out– It can be emotionally and mentally taxing trying to improve your work, find new clients, serve the ones you have, and reinvest in your creative business/brand. Take it one step at a time. Even if you aim to do things just 1% better than you did before, you’re making progress.
It’s not a race, there is no end in sight. You’ll never be done learning, growing, making mistakes, correcting your drawing, refining your style(s), and opening up new doors for your career to grow. Making a living as an artist is a wonderful and challenging journey, and it’s certainly not for the faint of heart.
Seeing as how you’ve read this far, I’m sure your heart is plenty capable.
Expressing your stories is no small task. Discipline and diligence must be your cohorts if you are to realize the tales you have within.
I'm pleased to share with you the fact that The 3 main characters of SATELLITE have become crystallized.
Rai, Isaac, and Gemina are a band of espers ready to face a deluge of psychic foes, cataclysmic struggles, and otherworldly scenarios.
And that's not all.
I've started a personal movement I'm calling #wiptober (After the immensely popular #inktober.) My goal however isn't to improve my inking ability, but to improve my ability to finish pieces and projects.
And I'm really glad I did. Here's why:
Life has a way of letting those things we don't consciously cling to drift off into the perimeter of our focus.
Once it escapes the peripheral of our consciousness, it gathers two things: inertia, and then dust; neither of which are fun to shake.
SATELLITE was starting to get to that point. I hadn't lost interest, but I did lose focus.
My patterns and paradigms tend to be to move toward what I find easy, pleasurable, and routine. The thing is, many of us humans are susceptible to these tendencies.
Luckily, SATELLITE didn't fall too far out of orbit. I was able to renew my creative fervor by talking about it with my friends, visualizing cool scenarios, and then adding more to the script.
It's only a matter of time before visuals start flowing again, but for now the story takes precedence.
If I say I'll write just a few sentences, a couple paragraphs usually spill forth. The trick is to focus on consistency, not perfection. Progress is my goal, and progress is made. I can always edit and tweak after the foundation has been laid. For now, it's a matter of manifesting that basis.
If you haven't begun your own personal projects, I can't recommend it enough. The reason we got into our crafts is because we want to be able to express the ideas, feelings, and experiences that bubble up within us. Our creative quests are among the most challenging and rewarding undertakings we can earnestly carve.
As I wrap my head around the characters, follow the arcs of their stories, and envision them in their pinnacle moments of failure and triumph, my heart begins to race. There's a special feeling to inspiring yourself, and I believe that it isn't always there by proxy. Like the hungrily licking flames, that spark must be tended with suitable kindling. You must be the one who uses your thoughts and feelings to spur your body into action.
I was watching an interview with James Jean. He's an artist I highly regard for his prolific output, creative mastery, and technical virtuosity. He said something in one of these interviews to the effect of the body being the vehicle for the mind, and that really resonated within me. Our thoughts are creative, and at some level we know this. You can view images in your mind, you can compose music, and you can generate most anything. The key is to practice and hone your skills in a chosen craft so that you have the information to express the inspiration.
Think about it. In•form•ation.
This just means we're keeping our inspiration in form.
It has a structure, something solid we can build upon. All form must have solidity if it is to be scaled.
One of the real-life people who has inspired me greatly is R. Buckminster Fuller. A vast portion of Isaac (The middle character above, and the protagonist of Satellite) is heavily based R.B. Fuller's potent philosophies, geometric wisdom, and architectural mastery.
R.B. Fuller knew a thing or two about solidity. His geodesic dome designs were among the most solid structures this earth has ever known.
So if there's anything I'd like this post you leave you with, it's that your stories and projects are calling to you every time they pop into your conscious mind. Set aside small chunks of time for developing them. Honor them. Do research on how to better your work so that you can express them more aptly.
The cycle continues, it just depends how big we make the circle.
I don't want to reveal too much about the plot of SATELLITE, but for the next post I'll have a hook, some more vis-dev, and perhaps even some chapter snippets.
Thank you for reading. Feel free to join the mailing list below so that I can update you next time I publish another post (that's the only time I send out mail to this list, and you can unsub at any time if you feel like it's spammy or something.)
All in all, I'm just happy that The SATTELITE still orbits.
Join me on the Creative quest. I'll keep you up to date on my projects and provide proverbial jet fuel for yours.
All of us have stories locked within us. It's our privilege to craft them with love and expressiveness.
The sheer joy of coming up with characters, settings, worlds, and plots is unlike anything else.
Sometimes flashes of inspiration come in the blink of an eye, sparked across the imagination as we sit idly.
Other times we can work with intent, and through our efforts an idea may be wrested from the ether from whence it was born.
This is how I knew SATELLITE was going to come into being.
When I wrote an outline for the plot, started to envision the world, and put myself in the shoes of the main character (Isaac Ling) it all began to take on a life of it's own.
Since then, I've returned to it periodically...Developing bits and pieces-- flirting with the idea of it becoming a fully-fledged graphic novel.
There were many worries, fear, doubts.
There still are.
These are the feelings and thoughts that oft accompany the creative process.
Despite that, you have to know that in the end, there's no unique problem, and the solution is existent the second we come up against any sort of barrier.
In the end, we must trust ourselves to channel these creations! To allow our diligent efforts to unfold them piece-by-piece.
So now I work diligently to develop the larger pieces, fleshing out the details as the come to me, and studying everything I can about the successful undertaking and completion of my projects.
Inspiration is everywhere, so join me on The Quest Of Creation!
Sign up for the mailing list below and I'll send out non-spammy updates regarding SATELLITE, the creative process (yes, even the cool technical bits,) and keep you abreast of any amazing resources I come across.
Thanks for reading!
Join me on The Creative Quest below.
Sign up with your email address to receive news and updates.
As you sit here reading this post, ask yourself what you did today that moved you closer to where you want to be…
…And here’s to hoping you’ve more than a faint inkling of what you want to do artistically and creatively.
Though it’s perfectly alright if you don’t– that’s part of what this post is about.
You see, when we’re living in this day-to-day life, it’s very easy to sit back and become complacent– to throw your dreams under the couch and pick up the controller, or to scroll mindlessly down the dashboards of your favorite social media feed.
As you read these words, I want you to call to mind your goals. What is your primary goal as an artist? Do you want to work at your favorite studio? Hold large gallery shows and sell your work for tens-of-thousands or more? Do you simply want to complete a story or series that’s been building in your head ever since you can remember?
All of this is possible, so long as you make the definitive decision to move towards it.
On the other hand, if you don’t have any goals then it’s only a matter of time before you begin to feel vacant. You’ll have this odd feeling like there’s nothing in particular you’re moving towards, nothing keeping you hungry for accomplishment and personal development.
You must be honest with yourself about what you want. Let not fear nor doubt stop you from the discernment of it.
This, my creative kin, is what is worth your determined and courageous pursuit.
So let’s return to the topic at hand. What have you done today? Did you take a baby step? good! Did you make a tremendous leap? Even better! Each day a step is made, and one day the goal is won with diligence.
But if you’re still adrift, or you’ve fallen off course, here are a couple simple and easy steps to help you discern a creative and fulfilling purpose, and to aid you in the attainment of it. Even if you’re already hustling, this will ensure that you maintain that momentum. There’s no reason not to give these simple exercises a try.
1. Write down your goal.
Be specific. Give yourself a deadline, and allow yourself a reasonable amount time to move towards it.
2. Rewrite your goal daily after you wake up.
Your mind will automatically urge you towards it. Better yet, revise the goal as you go along. Keep a daily to-do for making the goal happen.
3. Take joy in each step towards the attainment of it.
If your goal was “publish my graphic novel by 2017, and gain a 2000-person following via a progress blog by 2016.” then you may have done some character concept sketches today, or perhaps you revised your script after feedback.
The fact of the matter is you’re moving towards it, and that’s more than most people ever do.
Don’t waste time feeling bad about procrastinating, or telling yourself you don’t know what you want to do. procrastination or willful neglect of your inner calling is simply fear in disguise. How do you fight fear? by facing it. You already know all of this, but it never hurts to have a strong reminder.
Now, remind yourself that you’re worth it. The simple fact that you exist is enough to warrant a smile and acknowledge a purpose. You can do whatever it is you’re aiming to do, by winning the little daily battles against fear and laziness.
I dislike writing somewhat negative titles, but the simple fact is that I often read that so many artists are struggling financially that I felt it was my duty to share some of what I know in order to help alleviate this issue.
As an artist who has broken out of the ‘scarcity mindset’ and stumbled upon new ways of approaching income, it’s my sheer pleasure to share some of these tips with artists everywhere who are looking to make a living doing what it is they love to do.
As a creative, you’ll only find your fullest joy by expressing yourself through your art, and balancing that with a savvy mentality when it comes to acquiring capital.
The creative is often somewhat of a sensitive soul, one that feels the desire to express themselves through their works regardless of whether those works are making money or not.
I find that this is a double-edged sword when it comes to matters of financial abundance.
We can create work all day long, but if we aren’t showing that work to the right people, using it as a means to provide value to others, and saying ‘no’ to working for exposure, we’ll have a hard time turning our passion into profit.
This creative compulsion is inherent– almost inextricable from the creative themselves.
We must make art because we’re compelled to do so by the potent and expressive that force dwells within us.
So when we decide to turn that expression towards providing creative products and services, we can begin to make a healthy living for ourselves.
It’s so much easier to create art when we aren’t worried where the next meal is coming from or if we’re going to make the rent.
Now, I wouldn’t say that those are anything to feel too bad about– in fact, adopting such a defeatist mindset would undoubtedly beget more of the same.
So how do we switch our consciousness on to providing value? making more money?This means taking our creative drive and using it as a means to procure the funds we need to buy our supplies, upgrade our equipment, and provide for ourselves and those we love.
It all starts with the goal to do so. If you set a goal of getting commissions, hustling to sell prints, connecting with galleries, getting your art in a coffee shop, ANYTHING, you’ll have your starting point.
What makes someone want to buy art from you? Your skills, your ideas, your timeliness and your professionalism.
No matter what kind of style you have there’s people out there who will hire you to make their ideas come to life, and there are studios that will open their doors if you’ll work diligently to become an energetic and valuable part of their team.
It all comes from realizing ( taking steps to make real) the potential you have inherent in you.
Yes, you may hear a lot of ‘No.’
Yes, there will be days where the creative faucet seems to be jammed.
Yes, times will come when your eyes feel fuzzy and your questioning whether all of your efforts are worthwhile or not.
The hurdles exist, but they exist for any given endeavor.
So when you shift your consciousness (your attention) on putting your art in the right places, developing a consistent style, building your renown and networking with others who have the means to pay you for the value you can provide– your life changes.
As I stated previously, there are many ways to unlock checks coming in the mail and to let your paypal balance grow, here’s just a short list of the methods through which an artist can make money:
- Prints - Patreon/ Crowdfunding - Conventions - Galleries/ Fine Art - Coffee Table Books - Kids’ Books - Intellectual Property Creation - Games - Products/Courses - Lectures/Teaching - Retail Distribution - Agencies
Yes, you will need some other skills as well, but the bottom line is that you can turn that creative drive that we all feel and make it work in your favor instead of allowing it to fizzle out like a discount sparkler dropped in a puddle of cheap beer.
You’re better than that. You can work on your craft, generate your own unique ideas, and leverage those ideas into building your life and your bank account.
Take it one step at a time, don’t worry about how it will come about, set your goal and study those who have achieved what you want to achieve or similar. Ask yourself what they did to get to where they are? How can you take that and make it work for your own unique expression?
So remember, take your expression and harness it– turn your creative powers into potent channels that will allow you to live your life more fully. I can’t tell you how wonderful it is not having to commute to a job every day, setting my own rates, and working moment-by-moment to make my creative projects come to life.
That’s all for all now. You have your mission! Get out a piece of paper and come up with ways and avenues that you can leverage that creative fulcrum to procure some capital and embark upon the wondrous journey that is the creative lifestyle.
Until next time, Power Painters.
I sincerely appreciate all of your support! Sign up for the mailing list if you want to be updated when I release new and helpful content like this.