There are a few things that keep getting asked and that I find myself replying to over and over again so I thought the best thing to do would be to make myself a page of answers for you!
How do I get into the art business/become an illustrator?
There are so many ways! The way it worked for me might not be the way it works for someone else so please take that into account. I found my way into fantasy illustration via comics on a message board for Liam Sharp’s website back in 2004. Previously to that I’d only done pet portraits for people and hadn’t thought about being an illustrator in a serious way and didn’t really know how to go about it anyway. Through Liam and a group of artists I met via that message board I started going to comic conventions and that led to becoming part of an anthology comic ‘Event Horizon’ in 2005 and meeting other artists and connections in the illustration world and it all snowballed from there… VERY slowly. A snowball on a 1 degree incline.
This is a great time to live in that we do not need a gallery or a middle man to sell our art to people, we can reach anyone in the world. However, this also means that we are competing with the world on a world stage, which is very stressful and hard work. Hard work is the only way you will succeed and sadly even that cannot guarantee success. This is more a vocation than a job where you will make your fortune, only a very small few can boast fortunes! This is something you have to love and be obsessed with to get ahead in it. As a freelancer or solo artist you need to be an entrepreneur as well as being computer literate, business savvy, a sales person and time manager just for starters.
Go to conventions, speak to artists online, get feedback on your art and focus hard. You can also join sites such as Patreon which I have done, which means that your biggest fans can support you as patrons directly. Patreon can work as a tip jar where everything you post is for everyone to see and your fans can choose to contribute to you creating or you can use a subscription model (this is the one I use), where people who subscribe get to see behind the scenes of how you work and ask questions and see things that don’t get shown to the public or get to see them before everyone else. Both ways work really well but it relies on you having a good social media following and fanbase since Patreon is currently difficult to search and they only show the top ten of their big time creators in their search engine so you must be the one to tell people about your page and send them to it. For more about Patreon CLICK HERE.
I want to make a Kickstarter, what tips do you have to make sure I make mine successful?
Since running my kickstarter in 2017 this is probably the most popular question - and most of these came during the time that mine was running from people who had already started their kickstarters. My first tip would be if you are asking this question AFTER you’ve already launched, then it’s too late! There is SO much information out there on how to run a successful kickstarter and its easy to find. I would recommend the 1 Fantastic Week podcasts on Youtube for starters as they have many episodes dedicated to Kickstarter alone. Kickstarter also has pages of advice on what to do and not do before you launch.
- First make sure you have a great product and if it’s not finished then make sure it is very close to finished. My book was 85% completed so all I had to think about after completing was doing the layout of the book, a little writing and the odd extra painting.
- Look at other kickstarters that have been successful, they are easy to find and search in the areas in which you are wanting to launch your own. Make notes of what they did and how you think they did well. Was it the layout of their project page? Their video? The product? What was it that was so appealing?
- Tell social media about it. This is SO IMPORTANT. Talk about this on social media for at LEAST two months running up to your launch. Get people excited, tease them with content and snippets from your project. The more people you have following you on social media the better chance you have of pointing them towards your project. Interact with your fans!
- Work out your budget carefully. If you are posting things out then make sure shipping is factored into your budget. Kickstarter make this clear in their articles - READ THEM! Factor in some buffering in your budget too, this is a business and you don’t want to be surprised with extra costs down the line. Shipping costs change, printing costs can change and all sorts of other little hiccups can happen to add to your expenses that you didn’t foresee.
- Keep it simple. You don’t need endless add-ons, kickstarter isn’t a shop, it’s to help you make your dream thing, be that a book, a comic or a run of prints or something else! Don’t be afraid that people won’t back your project if you don’t have loads of extra bits and bobs added on at the end.
- Make marvellous and wondrous things! You don’t have to do a big kickstarter to start with, you could start with a small limited edition print run or an enamel pin badge to gauge interest from your fans if doing a book is too overwhelming at first.
What brushes do you use?
Winsor & Newton series 7 sable brushes and I also have a Davinci sable too. I’ve not been able to find a synthetic yet that behaves like sable, they hold the water so well. Synthetic rigger brushes work very well however.
What medium do you use?
Watercolour currently and my favourites are Daniel Smith and Holbein. I spent many years using soft pastels back when I did a lot of pet portraits and will return to oil paints one day when I have more studio space!
How long have you been an artist?
Officially around 20 years, but I would say that I became a full time illustrator in 2012, before that I had a day job to support my art income.
Did you go to university?
No I did not. I did an art foundation course (which for those who don’t have this in their countries, is a year long course which covers many creative subjects such as photography, fine art, printmaking, etching etc) so that you can find what might tickle your fancy before you then choose your university course. I was at college doing this course in a time (late 90’s) when the art scene involved dead cows cut in half and presented in a tank filled with formaldehyde. The tutors I had were more interested in this kind of art than illustration and at the time I didn’t really realise that illustration was something I could do, which sounds ridiculous since who else paints book covers or movie posters right? So after college I got more into the horse side of things and went and tried to learn to be a horse trainer. I soon found my way back to art again since I am not brave and not good at handling the dangerous or difficult horses!
Will you critique my work/portfolio?
Yes I can! If you send over your work to my email then I can have a look for you. It won’t be super detailed but if you wanted something more in depth then please contact me.
Do you offer lay-away payments?
Absolutely! For paintings over £150 you can pay in instalments. You get the painting once all the instalments are completed.
Do you take commissions?
Will you make a picture for me for free?
I don't get this question so much anymore thankfully, but for those who are thinking of asking the short answer is no. My artwork pays my bills and my mortgage and the only time I do things for free is for charity or for gifts for friends.
Any more questions please use the 'email me' button in the menu bar.