Giving Yourself “Small Wins” in Your Art Career

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I did it. I made the largest piece to date!

It took me over 3 months to get that illustration to where it is now. So much improvement from the last illustration, too! That pose is on point, those colors are cray, that composition is lit. By God I killed it. 🔥

…And now I have to make something better.
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How I’m Improving on Backgrounds

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Someone in a Facebook Art Group I’m a part of asked this question:

“How do you improve on backgrounds”?

And man, as much as I wanted to save the post and add nothing to the conversation out of laziness, I needed to make some sort contribution. I’m not alone in the pursuit of illustrating believable backgrounds. While I am still very much in need of getting my environments down-pact, I offered some advice on what has helped me so far. And this is what I’ll share onto you. 

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A List of Monthly Art Challenges

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Making art can get tricky. Sometimes just a word can spark our imagination, and other times strict rules are the best for creating.  If you want to participate an art challenge but don’t know where to start, here is a monthly art challenge list I gathered up, just for you.

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3 Simple Ways to Improve Your Illustrations

*Reading Time: 3 minutes*I know as an artist it’s extremely hard to break that barrier of stagnation.

There’s a moment of time with your work that always has the same results, no matter how hard you try.  There are even times when you’re working on the greatest illustration you could imagine, and when you finish, it… doesn’t come out like you imagined. It’s frustrating!

I know how you feel.

That’s why I’m here to give you three simple, actionable ways you can work toward improving your art.
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What Doing a 30 Day Challenge Taught Me

*Reading Time: 4 minutes*The past few months, have been going through an ongoing creative block. There have been times that were hard for me to produce anything, if anything. I had blank canvases piling up. I was afraid to finish paintings in fear I wouldn’t like them. I was afraid to finish paintings in fear that I would ‘waste’ the canvases I painted on. This led me to doing something drastic.

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The Juiciest Brushes In My Studio

*Reading Time: 2 minutes*One thing that I love about making traditional illustration is not just the surface I’m working on, or the brand of paint I swear by, but it’s the watercolor brushes that I use.

Each brush has it’s own style of mark making,

Each brush has it’s own flair.

The way the handle is held, the way the bristles dance back and forth on the painting, this results in it’s own personality.

It’s time to tell you about my favorite watercolor brushes in my studio: Princeton Neptune.

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The Watercolor Brand I Swear By

*Reading Time: 3 minutes*When I first started watercolor, I learned from a mentor who works at a local commercial art supply store in my city. I was raised on really great quality watercolor brands, however I could only afford student grade paints.

As I tested out paint after paint, one watercolor brand that stood out to me were the Qor line of watercolors from Golden Paints.

I’ve been painting with these for about two years and I doubt I’ll go for any other brand of watercolor.

If you’ve seen any watercolor illustration from me, then it’s made with Qor.

I love the vibrancy, the clear, deep hues of each paint color. And what I love the most is the sheer mixing power these colors possess. But… how?

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Is Tracing Cheating in Art?

*Reading Time: 3 minutes*I am a firm believer that using photos and other media for inspiration, posing, and referencing is highly beneficial. Ideas need to come from somewhere. As an artist, I can’t pull poses, anatomy, and environments out of my head, and I definitely can’t pull them out of my ass! I don’t know where this stigma against using references came from, but it needs to stop.

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How Do You Price Art Commissions?

*Reading Time: 2 minutes*This is a question that many, many artists struggle with. I still struggle with this as well! The only thing I can suggest is, always have your prices be a work in progress.

When I took multiple art commissions in 2010, I started small. Really small. I had things priced extremely cheap. I remember back in the day I had a $2 sketch sale… Those were the days.

One reason was due to inexperience and lack of interest from others. What you’ll often read and what I’ll regurgitate is to check your market. Do you have any peers or people on art communities you frequent that you’re watching who works in a similar style? Research their price sheets. Research their following. Are they able to get away with a “Your Character Here” piece for $300? They probably have the followi- (I’ll rephrase that), the right following to back that up.

If you’re just starting out, it’s okay to begin your prices a little lower. But once that value, the quality of your work, and the demand for your work rises, your prices need to do the same.

Just…don’t drop your prices after charging others your current rates. Your clients will be highly peeved when they find out.

This answer will not give you a definite price, nor will any other answer. You, the artist has to decide your worth, but again that’s where that work-in-progress pricing comes in! This year, I decided to look at my prices and determine is this enough for me? Is what I’m being paid for sufficient for the amount of work I do? I’ll be honest, at the moment, no. I’m not satisfied with my prices. But once I answer these questions, I can then decide to revamp my prices depending on how the demand is progressing. And with every year or so after that, I’ll revisit, and tweak my prices as I see fit.

Next time, we’ll talk about flat vs. hourly rates, and how I charge my clients.

Until next week!

~PK

Networking is Crucial for Illustrators. Here’s Why.

*Reading Time: 3 minutes*I’m sure you’ve heard of the saying “it’s who you know” in show biz. Well, that applies to the illustration biz as well. Making connections is the best thing you can do for your business and your quality of life. When you make new friends, colleagues, and acquaintances, not only can you bring value to them, but they can do the same for you.

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