Monday, September 30, 2019

2.14 Susan Smith former Marketing Director of Scuba Diving Magazine

This is an interview with my former boss, Susan Smith. She was so kind enough to answer my questions about marketing for artists. Marketing and Sales seem like such a foreign concept for artists. Susan was kind enough to answer my questions on the topic. She has years of experience in marketing.

Nancy Miller: Can you tell us about yourself?
Susan Smith: I am the former Director of Marketing for Scuba Diving magazine and was also the Marketing Director at WCIV-TV in Charleston, South Carolina.

NM: Are there any essential things an illustrator might need in order to market themselves?  Nowadays, it seems like you have social media accounts even more than a web site.
Susan: I would say that today everything you mention here is important.  A web site these days for an artist might be like a business card for a product sales rep.  It is just a small piece of the marketing puzzle but a necessary one even if only serving as an introduction for you and your work.
Social media is the most popular and often the most effective marketing vehicle today, in terms of reaching the general public.  (If you are talking about trying to reach retailers who might carry your licensed products, that is a different question.) 
I’m going to assume for now that you are not talking about running paid-for ads on these social networks, but instead setting up accounts for your business and posting to the public.
I would select one or two to focus on, because if you are inactive on one of your social media sites, then it serves no purpose. You need to post often, I’d say at least 2 times a week, and continually invite people to Like or Follow your page because otherwise, no one is seeing your posts. 
NM: Are there any good resources online for understanding marketing online or sales?  
Susan: The link below will give you some great info on Social Media Marketing.  Remember, you are talking about marketing or posting right now, not actually running paid ads on the social media channels.  While the link is from a company that can help you with your social media marketing, have no fear, there is also a ton of useful information in here and there are no strings attached.

NM: What types of social media would you consider the best platforms for artists?  Most people say Instagram but are there any others that you recommend?
Susan: It all comes down to your audience and your product.  Since art is a visual product, right away Instagram and Facebook make sense.  There is a chart in the link above that shows you who the audience is on each of the social media channels.  So you should know or decide who your target audience is and then look at that chart to see which social media that audience is using the most.
 Also, here is a link to a good article about how artists can benefit from LinkedIn.  It’s a good way to get your name out there in the “art world” plus it gives you access to industry-related groups. This could end up being the most important step you take.

NM: Are there any sites one can use to measure how well one’s marketing efforts are working?
Susan: This is a bit more complicated.  In the first article link I gave you, it talks about different ways to measure the effectiveness of your social media marketing.  But let’s start out with some very basic information.  You can sign up for Google Analytics which is simple to do—just click on the link below.  You provide some basic information about you and your web site and they’ll provide you with a tracking code to paste (or have someone paste) onto the pages of your web site.  Then Google will know who is visiting your web site and where they are coming from, i.e., if they clicked on your web site from a Facebook post or from an Instagram post.  (So don’t forget to include your web site link at the bottom of all your posts!)

NM: I still hear that sending printed samples are a good idea.  Especially in licensing.  They love seeing mockups.  Is there anything I could do to get my mockups to stand out? 
Susan: I’m not sure I can answer this other than to say you need to pick products that best show off your artwork and the product at the same time.  You need to think like the retailer---and they are just thinking, what’s going to sell?  While your artwork is personal to you, it isn’t to them.  So pick a product that is modern and sellable and also one on which your artwork will show up well.

Monday, September 23, 2019

Interview with Jess Bircham, Children's Book Illustrator

I decided to contact one of the illustrators I've been following on Youtube. Jess Bircham. She has some really fantastic tutorials for digital illustration. She was kind enough to answer my questions regarding her career as an illustrator.

NSM: Can you tell us a little about yourself?

Jess:  Sure! My name is Jess Bircham and I am a professional Illustrator. I work full time as an Illustrator for a charming company called Bunnies by the Bay. I illustrate children’s books, create art for fabric, apparel, art for catalogs, website and social media. I also do commissions and some personal art. I am originally from England but now live in Washington state in a log cabin on 11 acres in the mountains. I am a Mum of two boys, wife of a loving hubby, and farm girl of 4 horses, 3 dogs, 3 cats and 18 chickens! My home is very inspiring to my work!

NSM: Describe the first time you remember making art?

Jess:  That’s a tough question! I don’t remember ever not creating art - it’s just always been my happy place.

NSM: What is your favorite type of art to create?

Jess:  Drawing is my favorite art - just good old pencil and paper. I can and do draw for hours every day.

NSM: Who are some artists that inspire you?

Jess:  I love the art of Quentin Blake, Beatrix Potter, Holly Hobbie, Nick Butterworth, Jill Barklem and Tony O’Connor.

NSM: Those are some of my favorite artists as well. What inspired you to become a visual artist?

Jess:  It was always my dream to become a professional artist- it is my passion and something I find very natural and enjoyable to do, so it was an easy leap for me to make, although it took a great deal of work to get here!

NSM: What is a day in your life like?

Jess: Up around 5am to take care of all the animals and then it’s off to work in my home studio with a cup of tea in my hands. I spend the majority of my day sketching or creating art on my Mac computer. My dogs surround my feet while I work at my desk. At the end of the day it’s more farm chores, dinner and sometimes a movie and off to bed! 

NSM: How do you stay motivated to keep working as an artist?

Jess: My motivation for my full time job comes from the challenges I am given by my company - there’s often new things to learn and I am always wanting to improve my skills as an artist. I don’t think I’ve quite tapped my potential so there is a personal desire to always improve and make my next piece of art the best I’ve created so far.

NSM: What are you currently working on?

Jess: I am about to start a new book about a sheep called Kiddo! I am also planning on creating some personal pieces of art too - I’d love to try to create my own line of special characters!

NSM: What has been some of your success at marketing yourself as an illustrator?

Jess: I have found social media to be the biggest help, specifically Facebook has been my most successful avenue for commissioned pieces. I also get quite a lot of attention from my YouTube channel which has reached over 5000 subscribers now.

NSM: What's the most indispensable item in your studio?

Jess: My sketchbooks and mechanical pencils!

NSM: I've enjoyed some of your youtube videos. How are you recording your tutorials?

Jess: I am simply using my Mac to film and record my videos - I use the QuickTime app to record my screen and the microphone on the Mac to record my voice - I then edit my videos in iMovie.

NSM: What is something if you had known about starting as an Illustrator that you wished you had known when you started?

Jess: I wish I had believed in myself and taken the plunge even sooner! If you really want something you can get it - with hard work, a good attitude and perseverance you can have your dream career as an Artist. I think we are all told to be a professional artist means to be a “starving artist” which is just not true. Value yourself and your work and never let anyone make you feel you aren’t worth it. You can do what others cannot and that’s worth a great deal.

NSM: At the end of your life, you've made all the art that you've wanted, and you've lived a full life. If there could be nothing left behind of your existence, but a note you've written with three final truths. What would those truths be?

Jess:  Share your skills with others so that they might learn, improve and grow as Artists - it’s probably the most valuable gift you can leave behind.
Don’t compare your art to others, appreciate the skill and talent they have and learn from them.
Enjoy your art and create not only for others but also for yourself.

NSM: Thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions!

To learn more about Jess' illustration and tutorials visit the links below.

Jess Bircham Website

Monday, September 16, 2019

2.13 Episode Blanca Cárdenas, Illustrator

On the 2.13 episode I had Blanca Cárdenas, and she is based out of Texas. She was in my Digital Illustration class. She is a very talented illustrator and working on her MFA in Illustration. I'm really glad I got to have a class with her.  Listen to the interview at My Creative Life. Blanca E. Cardenas Barragan is a Mexican artist residing and working throughout the state of Texas. She graduated from Sam Houston State University in 2018 with a BFA in 2D Studio Art, focusing on drawing and painting.  She has had extensive exposure to various artistic mediums such as bookmaking, sculpture, printmaking, and ceramics, but her passions are deeply rooted in graphic novels. Blanca’s work centers around the female form while illustrating its confidence and beauty using visually enticing pin-up styled illustrations. Her work has been featured in various galleries, including the Satellite Gallery in Huntsville, Texas and the Brooklyn Art Library in Brooklyn, NY. Blanca married in November of 2018 and afterward will continue on to pursue an MFA in Illustration and work towards a career as a graphic novel cover artist. To see more of her work visit her sites. Blanca's Website  FB  Becb.arts Instragram 

Monday, September 9, 2019

2.12 Episode Michael Bonfiglio Musician/Artist

In this episode I interviewed an old college friend Michael Bonfiglio. He’s been pursuing a music career while maintaining  full time job as a graphic designer. His band is Canine 10. They play at various venues in NJ and PA. He’s also a talented artist and studied sequential art at Savannah College of Art and Design.
Click for more info on Canine 10.
My Creative LifeThanks for listening!

Monday, September 2, 2019

Skillshare Mel Armstrong Class Desktop Wallpaper Class Review

I adore any courses that Mel Armstrong offers on Skillshare. Her course on Skillshare was highly informative about how to create various aspects of a surface design or pattern design. I found the videos to be clear and she tends to provide all kinds of additional resources in her class to allow students to mock up their own versions.

I think the course is definitely one of the best. The others sometimes when to quickly on the software steps. I think she breaks it down very clearly. 

I did the course on the wallpaper designs. She provides a mock-up that she created for personal use and not for resale. I used it above to create the mock-up for the wallpaper I created using a Sealife Pattern inspired by me living in the Coastal Low Country. I guess I should call it Low Country Sealife Pattern. 

I'll be posting the wallpaper designs on my website for free download.

Skillshare offers 1 months for free. I think the only thing is the streaming on the site. I found it to be slower then Youtube or I would have to refresh several times to get the video to start. I really like looking at what the other students have created from watching the course. 

There is another course for pattern design by Elizabeth Olwen that I enjoyed as well.

Click the wallpaper you want to download to your device.

Desktop wallpaper 1920 x 1080

iPad Pro wallpaper

Desktop Wallpaper 1280 x 1024

iPhone X wallpaper 

iPhone 6/7/8 wallpaper

2.11 Episode Nancy Miller Grad School Reflection

On this episode, I decided to spend some time reflecting on my quarter in graduate school. Had an amazing time learning and growing as an artist. 
The Linda Warner Constantino - Illustration Professor provided a checklist that I'm using in my work from now on.
The 5 C's. Are these things working in your artwork?
1. Color
2. Composition
3. Concept
4. Contrast
5. Craftsmanship
I've got several more interviews lined up with some more creative awesome people coming up, so stay tuned!
I need to keep that up and reminds me I need to practice drawing. It's been a few days since I opened my sketchbook. Below are some of the channels of youtubers I mentioned that I learned from. Great stuff! Thanks for listening to this episode![
Great Youtube Channels to watch in Concept Art