Sketchbook Tour!

Making Of / 03 April 2020

I actually finished a sketchbook!  I did a video tour stream last night! 

I talk about my favorite sketching tools, the drawings, and my process!  

Plans and Goals for 2020

General / 01 January 2020

Happy New Year! With 2019 behind us, it's time to look forward to the new year.  I'm not a huge proponent of dramatic new years resolutions, but I would like to share a bit about some of my plans for 2020. More in-person events! 

  • In 2019 I attended my first con.  I'd like to get in the habit of doing more in-person events, including conventions as well as smaller art markets and popups.  I'm mostly looking into local events (in the Wichita area) at present.  The larger local conventions are in the latter half of the year, but it takes quite a bit of prep to run a booth so it'll be an ongoing process all year and I'll try to keep everyone updated.  I've put together an Amazon Wishlist if anyone would like to contribute directly to my setup (or if you'd just like to check out the stuff I'm looking at for display).  I also need to raise money for booth fees, printing products, and potentially travel expenses, so I am thankful for any support you can provide on Patreon!  
  • I'm also working on a new longterm project.  I've been interested in getting into board game illustration, and I am also a casual fan of game design, so I'm working on designing and illustrating my very first board game!  I don't have a lot of details to share about it right now, but I've gotten a rough ruleset worked out and found a source for printing. I'm looking forward to sharing more as it develops! 
  • Other than those two (very big) projects, I'm also going to be focusing on...focusing!  In 2019, the majority of my artistic income came from in-person sales and personal commissions, so in 2020 I'm keeping the number of online platforms I attempt to manage light and shifting more focus to making great art and getting it in front of people in person.  

So those are the major art things I'm thinking about right now for 2020.  Things may change or priorities may shift later.  Oh, plus my fiance and I are planning our wedding.  So 2020 is shaping up to be a pretty big year for me, regardless of how well the art biz goes!

Ink and Oil Figure Study On Paper

Making Of / 17 December 2019

This is a little painting study I did during the final class of the Figure Drawing class I've been taking this Fall at a local arts center MarkArts!  I used an approach to oil painting I've been practicing from time to time for quick studies and live painting.

This oil study on paper took about 2 1/2 hours. Usually, with live models, the painting session is broken into 20 minute periods so the model can have breaks.

  •  I usually spend the entire first 20 minutes just drawing things out.  
  • After getting everything in place with graphite, I reinforced the drawing with ink.
  • Then, I sort of scrub in a mid-tone with Burnt Sienna and a lot of Gamsol.  The paper is quite absorbent, so it dries quickly.  
  • After that, I lay in highlights with white.  The image below is that wash, highlights, and the ink guides from the drawing.
  • From there on, it's a little more freeform, just painting in more detail and filling the background.  The absorbancy of the paper speeds things quite a bit, but I also used a little bit of fast-drying medium on subsequent layers.

Here's a material list, with links to DickBlick for some of the more specific items (I'm not an affiliate or anything, it's just for your convenience):

My 2019 Year in Review

General / 07 December 2019

Last year was a pretty big year for me, personally and professionally.  

Last April I quit a fulltime corporate job I had for three years to pursue art full time.  I had reached the point where I was having more bad days than good, and I was coming home each day with less and less energy to get artwork done.  Before resigning, I saved up a bit of money and started shopping around my portfolio to every fantasy book and tabletop game publisher I could find a submission method for.  I think I heard back from 2 of them, both polite rejections.

So I set to level up my digital painting and draftsmanship skills.  I got a Schoolism annual subscription during their summer sale and took Andrew Hou's Intro to Digital Painting.  I had quite of bit of general art education (I have an MFA in Studio Art, but I focused on oil painting technical skills were not really the emphasis of the program), so I was focusing on more specific skills (like using digital tools most efficiently). I also worked a lot on painting different textures/materials and building more complex compositions while trying to post new work more regularly.   I also was able to get into a live Figure Drawing class at a local art center.  I somehow managed to get an art degree without ever taking a Figure Drawing class, so the focused practice helped quite a bit.  You can probably notice more accurate musculature in my latest figures as a result.

I've also been working on streamlining my online presence.  My general mindset with regard to social media changed a lot.  I used to be very numbers focused, and I've been working toward more focusing on quality and consistency, and not worrying so much about likes and follower counts.  I kind of limited how many people I follow places like Instagram so I could actually see and keep track of the people I follow, for example.  I also cleaned up my feeds, removing work that was outside my brand (ie, non-fantasy art).  Just recently I've also been using Later to schedule posts so I make sure post captions are higher quality and are going out at good times.  It frees up a lot of mental energy so I don't have to spend as much time on social media in general, which means more time for painting.

I've also just been shaving down the number of platforms I try to make use of.  At some point this year, I've tried to manage over 15 different platforms.  It's really just impossible to effectively manage that many platforms as an individual.  So I combined things where possible (like my portfolio site is now powered by Artstation), and focused on the handful of platforms that I actually enjoy, or that have very clear roles.  So I post regularly on Instagram and my Facebook page and monetize my personal work with Patreon and Redbubble.  I may have stuff going on in other places from time to time, but I think it's better to focus on making good work and being consistent on a few platforms than trying to post madly everywhere and getting stressed out.  And reserve any extra energy for submitting my portfolio to art directors.  

Anyway, there are some other milestones this year, I attended my first con, took my first commissions, and got engaged!  ⁠
⁠I'm excited to see where 2020 takes me! Thanks to everyone who's come along for the ride!⁠  Let me know if you have any questions or would like any more details about anything I mentioned! (I realize I kinda rambled about social media a lot).


Oh, and check me out on Patreon!  I just opened several new tiers, including one that includes paintovers/art mentoring.  

My First Con! (as a Vendor)

General / 24 October 2019

Last weekend did my first convention as a vendor.  The convention was a local tabletop games convention called TsunamiCon. It was a smaller con with probably around a dozen vendors.  Gaming areas for the board and tabletop roleplaying games were the central features, so the vendor area wasn't the main focus of the event like some larger cons.

Preparation

I've been considering the convention scene (at least locally) for a while, but never really felt "ready".  Then a couple of weekends ago I happened to watch a random video about doing art events that basically said "Just do it! If you wait until you feel ready you'll never do anything." So I decided to just go for it and try to get into TsunamiCon on super late notice.  I reserved a vendor table at the last minute (I think it was October 12 or 13, the convention being October 18,19, and 20).  I had less than a week to prepare so I couldn't over-think it.  I had some artwork and merchandise from my Etsy shop as well as some odds and ends, but I was only able to get a handful of new prints made local and had no time to order anything else.

So my offerings consisted of:

  • Art Prints (Mostly 11"x14", with a few smaller ones)
  • Artist Trading Cards ("ATCs" trading card sized original drawings) 
  • 1.5" Pin Back Buttons (I had about 50 divided among 6 designs)
  • Misc Small-scale Original Artwork from my Etsy Shop

The Event Itself

When Friday rolled around and the convention started, my display was pretty simplistic, essentially just spreading everything out on a tablecloth:



Friday the vendor area opened officially around 3 pm until 8 pm.  Things started slowly, which I figured was normal since it was still during the workday.  Traffic picked up in the evening and I made back the vast majority of my booth fee the first day. Saturday was the longest day, 10 am to 8 pm followed the same pattern. I made about 40% of my sales in the last hour the vendor area was open. Sunday was pretty slow all day.  The vendor area was only open from 10 am to 3 pm.  I pretty much just sold a single print.

So after all my expenses and table fee I only really ended up netting about $60 (not counting the material expenses for items I happened to already have before deciding to go).  Honestly, I think that's probably better than a lot of first-times go.  It was a pretty relaxed event.  Since most attendees were there to game, there were waves of people and periods of quiet as gaming rounds began and ended.

Afterward

Overall I think it was a pretty positive experience.  There were also a lot of lessons learned, like getting a handle on what types of things sell (I included some breakdowns on my Patreon version of this blog), as well as some tips and tricks learned from other vendors (like leads on printing services, product ideas, etc).  My gross revenue was pretty evenly split between art prints and smaller ATCs and buttons, but I sold more of the smaller items by far.  Also worth noting I did not sell any original artwork other than ATCs (the bulk of the original work I had were in the $25-100 range, more expensive than larger prints).  I got some comments about my pricing being too low, but I'd rather price things a bit low (with an appropriate profit margin) and allow people who want to tip more to tip rather than pricing aggressively.

For the future, I'll stock up on stickers and buttons and look for smaller and/or useful items (like the creature tokens I've been working on).  I'll also probably look for some display upgrades.  Kind of building up inventory and display slowly over the next year should put me in a good place to jump into cons next year (Wichita has 3 or 4 with slightly different focuses in a few month periods between September and November), and I can also look at smaller events like art markets or pop-ups between now and then!