More Than Meets the Eye …

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words …

Deadline
(Over committed, with an inability to say “no”)

Not every illustration and cartoon has to be funny.  Sometimes the message is so difficult that just a touch of humor (or sugar) makes the medicine go down easier.

Perhaps your message is complicated and you’ve noticed your audience stumbling over a particular point or subject matter.  Perhaps an illustration is needed to help those attendees visualize the concept more clearly.

If your message is important enough for you to devote your time and energy to delivering it, then you will want to pay attention to the high number of individuals who are visual learners.

Visual learners comprehend and remember information that they see – not necessarily hear.  While they are listening, they are searching for visual clues to comprehend and understand what they are learning. Body gestures, facial expressions, physical examples and demonstrations of what you are communicating will help aid your visual learning audience.  Utilizing charts, illustrations, flowcharts, cartoons and illustrations enhance and make clear your message and information.

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How To Create Your Product Empire on a Shoe String Budget

Four Seasons MousepadWhat if you were to take your message, or the characters in your book … or those powerful quotes that you love to repeat and share … and put them in a product that your website visitors would buy? Imagine multiplying your intellectual property into a line of products that reinforce everything you write?

Here’s 3 Ideas for creating products:

Online Retailers:  Zazzle is an online service that provides a plethora of products and opportunities for you to implement into your own business online and offline.

The service is free. The biggest condition that you must have is the legal permission or copyright to reproduce the artwork onto their products.  You simply go to their site, create an account and upload your artwork to create products. They make the product and ship to the customer when it is purchased (whether it is for you to resell or use for advertising or someone who wants to buy for themselves.)  The money earned is split between you and them.

Here’s what it might look like for you. You’ve written a book and are writing blog posts that support your book. The topic is fascinating and a following is created. In your writing you bring out interesting concepts or facts. These concepts, facts, characters, etc. become the image that you put on merchandise.  With a service like this, you can do that, without worrying about the manufacturing or distribution of the merchandise. It can be sold directly from your website. Besides selling products, you are building your brand by word of mouth.

Digital Products: Amazon has a service called CreateSpace that allows you to upload your manuscript for sale as a Kindle product or for print-on-demand. However, understand that your manuscript should be written, edited and ready for publishing before you upload it!

Anything that can be printed in a document can become a digital product as a PDF or as an ebook. Your manuscript, which we’ve mentioned above, could be sold by you from your website. Know that if you sell as a PDF, then it can easily be passed along – but don’t despair! If passed along, your product becomes a viral marketing tool. Make sure that the footer of each page contains your name, your website URL or a URL that goes directly back to your products. You want an identifier on each page with an action step.

Coloring pages, workbooks, are a couple of other ideas that you can print as PDFs in order to make a digital product.

Collaborations:  Do you write? Do you know someone else who writes or has a story? How about someone who illustrates? Perhaps you are an expert and don’t write, but have information that you know would be something that people would pay to know?  Consider a joint venture with a complimentary talent to create a product that could be sold on both of your sites and through both social media influences and split the profits 50/50.

What ideas do you have? What are some quick and easy product or merchandise ideas or sites that you’d like to share? Please share as a comment below.

 

 

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Images in Posts

Artist at easelImages in posts are extremely important but not always easy to come by. There are times when your blog post just doesn’t have enough descriptive words to conjure up an image, or, after searching the Internet for way too long, you find nothing that inspires you, or enhances the post.

Perhaps you are making a comment on another bloggers article, or a newspaper article and to use an image from their site would mean copyright infringement. Nope, don’t want to go there!

Here are some ideas to help you fill that image space which will enhance your blog post and break up the monotony of the reader’s eye and attention span.

Dream Clouds1. Take your own photo – Most likely you already have a smart phone or a phone that can take photos.  Snap a quick picture of something that is related or sets a tone.

Here’s some quick ideas:

  • A desk shot speaks of work, thinking, writing, entrepreneurship, blogging, workplace … 
  • Your garden! Reflections of images that speak to women, gardeners, nature, fragrance, emotions …
  • Automobiles set the tone for men, speed, automotive industry, paint, design, repair, travel, money
  • Money! Who doesn’t like a good shot of money? Coins, bills, or both – get creative and have fun snapping several shots to build your inventory of wealthy images. 

2.Screen shot of a website Screen Capture the site that you are commenting about. SnagIt is my favorite screen capture software tools because it also comes with an editor that makes special effects super easy. I can capture the site in question (that I’m commenting on) and make it a nice, small thumbnail, add a shadow and ta-da! I have a great image to help enhance my content.

3. TeamworkArtwork or Cartoons are always fun to have in a blog post. Simple clipart or more detailed illustrations attract the eye and help keep the reader’s interest. Contact me about creating custom content for your site or sign up to my periodic newsletter to receive free clipart for blogs.

4. Microsoft provides images for use on their site which have a nice variety of photos and clipart.

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What You Can Expect When Working with Me as an Artist

The following information is in regards to the creative process, and is unique to me. Other artists may approach their work differently, so I’m not in a position to speak for them, but I think much of what I am about to say will apply to them as well.

 

One bite at a timeMany of my illustration contracts center around providing interior book illustrations for a wide range of books that are written for adults and children alike. Each are different in how they are approached, and the styles will vary.  Gratefully, my styles do vary and I’m blessed to be able to many different types of artwork because of this.

Before I ever begin a job, my clients have viewed, or are shown, work that I’ve already created so that they can understand what they can expect for their own project. You can view my online portfolio by clicking here.

THE CREATIVE JOURNEY

A common mistake that many people, new to hiring an illustrator, will do, is that they will see my style, then as they describe their projects, their internal imagination morphs into something that I do not do. Yes, it is helpful to show artwork that you love, or to provide photographs. Ideally, it’s best to show me samples from my own portfolio so that our communications and expectations will remain on the same page.

Brooding and thinkingHowever, there are times when a certain look is trying to be expressed, and another artist’s work is shown to me as a reference. It’s important for you to understand that this is for REFERENCE ONLY and is not going to be a direct copy of their style, or the image itself. That would be copyright infringement and is illegal. My style is my own. Their style is their own. Your realistic expectations are expected”

As an artist and someone who loves to support you fully in your project, I have my talent, our communication, and your manuscript to go on as a reference. Reading your manuscript, researching for reference photos for things like furniture, buildings, clothing styles, facial expressions, body language and hand gestures is something that an artist will do ahead of time. Note the keyword “time”. This takes time to do. Therefore, I do not charge by the hour, but per illustration.

As I find certain references, or view the references that you provide, I am drawing and sketching concepts to continue communication on regarding what you have in mind.

Cartoons, Artwork, Humorous IllustrationsFrankly, my favorite illustrations are the ones where the author gives me free license to create, based upon what I”m reading in the book. They might tell me that they’d like five small spot illustrations and three full interior illustrations, for instance. They will also mark in their manuscript where they’d like them to go – or they may ask me to make suggestions.

My goal is always to support the flavor of the book that I’m illustrating and by allowing me creative license, I am free to flow and put my creative brain behind my sketches.

IllustrationBut sometimes, a client is a bit nervous with this approach and would prefer that they maintain more control over what goes where and what the characters will be doing. In this case, part of my brain switches to “left-brain” mode, or becomes logical as I take in the information and concentrate on various details while developing the character concept.

When this happens, the first initial character sketches that I do might feel a bit stiff, as I’m only focusing on various features, and not what the character is doing.

Bare with me … this is just laying the foundation. Once the character style is established, we then get to have fun with adding personality and body language within the various interior illustrations which will go inside the book. These are the fun sketches, as they bring the book to life.

DeadlineTIME AND PROCESS

Many people expect well developed illustrations immediately because that’s what they see when they search Google for concept illustrations. What they don’t see are all the chicken scratches and weirdness that happens while an artist “feels’ out the character. If you understand this process, and the time that it takes to lay the foundation for good illustrations which will go inside the book – then you may take a peek.  This is where conversation happens.

CONVERSATION

Speaking of which … I’m an artist. You’ve hired me to illustrate something that you are already familiar with. Your communication is extremely vital so that I can step onto the same page with you to see what you are imagining. Your project is new to me, I’ll need time to familiarize myself to it – and to you. Everyone communicates differently, understand this, is important to me so that I can give you the best experience possible.

Frustration happens when unrealistic expectations get in the way of facts, and established styles. Please communicate with me if you are not “feeling’ something. And by all means, let me know if I’m on the right track with you.

TeamworkEDITING

These conversations are extremely important because they save you money! Every time I have to revisit and drawing or redraw something or completely draw something new, I’m guessing if you aren’t communicating clearly. I’m not emotionally attached to my drawings, but my time and your time is valuable. Speak up! Have fun! Be realistic!

When I’m given full license to be creative and to draw as I’m inspired by your manuscript, you’ll get your artwork much faster. But when you want me to draw what you see in your mind, understand that it will be much slower and will require meticulous conversations and patience.

I’ve illustrated full books with 25 illustrations in less than a month and the client was jumping from the rooftops with excitement. And I’ve had to spend well over two years illustrating another book because the client wasn’t sure what they wanted, and we blew through hundreds of versions, only to return to my first initial sketch. The classic response by the client was, “Wow! I didn’t see you make this one. This is what I wanted!” to my very first illustration, has happened more than once.

UnsureMy experience is that people will have a certain idea, and will begin with that … but then realize that it isn’t working, or that there’s another approach that they hadn’t thought of before.  In the past, I made the mistake (yes, I said mistake) of meeting with the client personally and drawing in front of them. After eight hours of concept drawings, I realized that the client was so mesmerized by the artwork appearing before their eyes, that they got caught up in the entertainment of the moment and had completely lost focus of what they had wanted in the first place.

When I listen to a client, I’m listening deeply, I’ll ask questions, and I’ll have an intuition about what will work for them – based upon what I’m hearing. 90% of the time, I’m right on.  The problem usually arises with an unclear idea or expectation of what they want – or that they have another artist’s style in mind, and have forgotten that they’ve hired me – not that other artist.

PRICING AND WORK-FOR-HIRE

TreasureMy fees include all preparation work, editing and finalizing of artwork. I’m very generous with my licensing as I provide you with exclusive, unlimited rights to the work I create for you. I don’t resell it, but I reserve the right to show it in my portfolio, as long as it is not violating a non-disclosure agreement or any other agreement we’ve made that is specific to this.

I do not charge by the hour! If I did – you’d be paying a fortune for my work. Much is put into the foundational part of reading the manuscript, researching, preliminary sketches and character development as well as communication with you. When you pay me, you are paying for my creativity and licensing the work.

Many clients want what they understand to be “Work for hire” – where they own everything, lock, stock and barrel. Including my style of drawing! Work for hire is extremely expensive and it allows the client to make derivatives of the work without any consideration of my style or the integrity of my art. In past judicial courts, some artists have been shattered to learn that when they agreed to ‘work-for-hire’ terms, their style of art was deemed a part of that – and they were effectively put out of business as an artist. They could no longer create anything that resembled the work-for-hire because it appeared to be that product line and that effectively destroyed their artistic career – because they style was their own. Now it belonged to someone else.

I don’t do work for hire. Don’t ask.

The magic wandIN A NUTSHELL

  1. I read the manuscript
  2. Concept drawings begin (these are the chicken scratches to figure out the layout of the illustrations and character appearances.)
  3. Research is done to locate reference photos or other artwork which will help to explain the concepts.
  4. Interior illustrations are sketched out according to conversations that have occurred and adjustments to the illustration list you’ve provided.
  5. Two edits are allowed in the pencil stage.
  6. Inking is done after the image has been agreed upon.
  7. If you have requested color, then the coloring is then applied according to our agreement.

You will pay a deposit of half of the estimated cost of all the artwork. This not only pays for my actual drawing, it pays for all the preparatory work that must be done surrounding this work.

Remaining amount will be broken up in three equal parts, the final being when final files are delivered.

Depending on the extent of your project and the number of illustrations, you can expect a project to last anywhere from a month to … well … like I said, it’s been as long as a year, depending on the communication of the client!

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