Comics Illustrator of the Week :: Sonny Liew























The story goes that legendary Uncanny X-Men scribe Chris Claremont discovered Malaysian-born artist Sonny Liew at a comics convention and got him his first big break into comics, landing Liew a gig illustrating Iron Man for Marvel. It was a small gig, just one illustration, but it set the stage for Liew’s bright future in comics! In 2004, Sonny Liew won the Xeric Award(an award for excellence in self-published comics) in 2004 for Malinky Robot. Later, he would go on to illustrate such titles as Slave Labor & Disney’s Wonderland series, Marvel’s Sense and Sensibility adaptation, and collaborate with artist/inker Mark Hempel on DC/Vertigo’s My Faith in Frankie.

Before studying illustration at Rhode Island School of Design, Liew attended college in Singapore(where he currently resides) and in the UK. His work has been featured in the critically acclaimed anthology Flight and he’s served as editor of the Southeast Asian comics anthology Liquid City.

Liew has been a celebrated artist at home, winning Singapore’s Young Artist Award in 2010, but recently he’s found himself in a bit of controversy over his latest book, The Art of Charlie Chan Hock Chye. The grant that supported the making of that book was withdrawn by the National Arts Council for containing sensitive topics. You can hear more about this story from the man himself at this book sharing session.

Right now is a great time to become a Sonny Liew fan, because he’s making some of the best comics art of his career on the newly relaunched Doctor Fate series with famed DC writer/editor/former-president Paul Levitz! I see that more people are catching onto this series, now that it’s up to issue 5, so hopefully that will continue to happen and we’ll get a nice, long Doctor Fate run out of Liew!

If you’d like to see more art and learn more about Sonny Liew, check out his blog here.

For more comics related art, you can follow me on my website – Andy Yates

Posted by Andy Yates on 10/22/15 under artists,black and white,comic,design,illustration,weekly topics
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Month of Fear art challenge

Posted by Jeanine

The Month of Fear is a weekly art challenge for the month of October, created by illustrator Kristina Carroll. A companion blog to February’s Month of Love, the idea is to inspire artists to get together, shake things up, push themselves, and create new personal work. 

A curated roster of artists have been selected to participate and are challenged to create a new piece each week in response to an assigned theme related the subject of fear. But, the challenge is also open to anyone who feels inspired, by sharing work on Tumblr using the hashtag #monthoffear. The challenges are designed to be open-ended so artists can interpret them in a wide variety of ways.

This is the third year of the Month of Fear, and the work is incredibly impressive! With challenge themes ranging from villians, spooky mirrors, and the dance of death—the images are all frightfully fantastic! A few highlighted pieces here by Reiko Murakami, Sam Flegal, Lindsey Look, and Samuel Araya.

Check out the Month of Fear site for much more!

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© Reiko Murakami


© Sam Flegal


© Lindsey Look


© Samuel Araya

Posted by Jeanine Henderson on 10/22/15 under artists,illustration
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Increase Your Productivity By Having a Ritual


Illustration by Laura Callaghan

When I first left my full time job 7 years ago, I suddenly felt like a city mouse set loose out in the countryside. Time seemed to pass slowly at first, but then it got quicker and quicker. I had lots of opportunities for fresh air – but I found that often locked myself in, concentrating on work instead. More often than not, my hours were longer than a 9 to 5.

Freedom was stifling.

My timetable was turned upside down. Where before I could tell what I would wake up, it now felt like I could do whatever I want, whenever I want. And it started to weigh down on me. But wait, having freedom is great right? People come up to me and say things like “Oh wow, that’s so cool, I’d love to work for myself, like you, so that I won’t have a schedule to follow.” Except that it’s not like that at all. It was debilitating.

Weird things start to happen when you get too much of anything. In this particular case, I suddenly had a lot of time freed up, so that I could concentrate on freelance work and on my website; instead of having an alarm wake me up at 8.15 every morning (after many snooze buttons prior) and cursing the traffic under my breath each time I set off to work. I felt odd. Almost in a surreal way. As though time was this continuous line that ran without stopping or pause, and I was just a mere beat that time skipped over.

I woke up at odd hours, and slept even later than when I was employed full-time. Instead of dressing up and showering to go to work, I found myself lounging around in my pajamas and having extended breakfast while skimming over the newspaper (contents of which I wasn’t really interested in anyway). Hours could pass. And then it would be lunch, followed by a TV show that I missed. And pretty soon it was time for dinner. Where did the time go?

After a few weeks of this unstructured schedule, I found myself in a rut. My productivity plummeted instead of what I thought it would do – that I’d be super crazy productive and churn out lots to show. Alas, to my dismay, it wasn’t true at all. I couldn’t think straight – I felt like there’s a haze hanging over my head and weighing my entire being down. My work suffered. My happiness level went way down. I’d get irritable and defensive when anyone asked about my day. I’d get jealous of other people who had colleagues – my companion at home were two dogs who got to take a lot of naps during the day and wasn’t particularly interested in engaging in a two-way conversation with me, dog language or no.

I craved for something but I didn’t know what. And it was driving me nuts. I was a mice left out in the field too long and instead of thriving, I craved for a cage instead. A semblance of order. Walls too, so that I could figure out where I fit in the whole picture.

So I whipped out that alarm clock again, and set a time everyday for waking up. I took a shower. Dressed up a little. Put on make up. After that, it was straight to the table for a quick breakfast. An hour later, work began. No ifs or buts about it – non-stop working for an hour at which I could not surf the internet, read or watch anything non-related to work. And it felt good.

I felt a sense of purpose. I felt that I was in control of my situation. I found that when I focused my energy and attention towards a project I could get things done quicker and more creatively than when I dawdled around, aimless and listless. I went in search of inspiration, instead of waiting for inspiration to strike me like a proverbial bolt of lightning. I took constant, but shorter breaks in between, and felt my mind filled with ideas even when I did stop. I read a lot more, offline and online; I was ravenous for information and devoured everything in sight so that I could sort through things and find patterns and connect the dots. I organized like mad. I exercised regularly, and was able to set up a system where I could just stop my work and head down for dinner, and continue right back to where I stopped before.

I found that when I had a system in place, I didn’t have to worry about a lot of things. Having a schedule freed up my energy and time, so instead of spending them thinking “what’s next?”, I went on autopilot mode for the things that didn’t matter. My brain suddenly got a lot more room to think up new things instead of feeling guilty or having to keep track of things all the time. Go brain!

I wasn’t caged up, but I felt better. Instead of putting up permanent walls, I put up a chain link fence just so I can know where my boundaries are. I could peer out and see what’s out there, and I could also peer in to see if what I’m doing works. I had a structure. I had a ritual. I had a plan.

Year after year, the distance between me and the boundary that I set up in my mind grew. And after 7 years, the distance between me and that chain link fence is so vast that I don’t know where it began and where it ended. I’m not sure if there’s even a boundary anymore.

Freedom never felt so good.


If you’re just starting out as a freelance illustrator or artist, here’s how you can start your very own ritual:

Wake up at a certain time every morning

Set that alarm clock for the same time, every night before you go to bed and no snoozing when it’s time to get up! This sets the day with a tone that means business – getting out of bed takes incredible effort, especially if you don’t have a place to physically report to work everyday.

Dress with pride

Pyjamas are comfortable. And yet they don’t make you feel as though you can conquer the world. Take a shower. Put some lipstick on if you like to. And take pride in how you look – it affects your work and mentally prepares you for tackling tasks for the day; even if you’re not leaving the house! 

Eat, and eat well

Don’t just grab a cold roll from the fridge – make sure you eat properly to refuel, because you are what you eat! My lunch hour is an hour where I can unwind and relax a little, so I like to plan it in advance so when the clock strikes one, I’ll sit back to read the latest Time magazine, or indulge in a little Mindy’s Project while I eat. I generally avoid snacks in between meals – I like to focus on my work so it’s 3 square meals a day!

Schedule time out

Go out for a run, or take your pet for a walk – it’s important to step away from your desk at certain points of the day. The danger of being a freelancer is that you’re almost always glued to your desk for 14 hours straight, which can quickly lead to burnout. Schedule time out often so that you can see things with fresh eyes.

Aim for a cut-off time, and end it with a ritual

Some people stop working completely at 6. Sometimes I stop work for dinner, before continuing again until 9pm. But I try my best to not work past 10, because I’d be waking up the next day again to do work anyway. So I walk my dogs with my husband after dinner, which often signals the end of my workday. For you it could be a hot bath, dinner, ice cream, or even supper – the point is to have something to look forward to that will physically and mentally signify that you’ve done the best for the day.

Amy Ng blogs at Pikaland, a popular stop for illustration lovers, students and artists who are looking for answers on how to find a balance between art, creativity and commerce.

Posted by Amy Ng on 10/21/15 under artists,business,freelance
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Studio Lilla Form

sprinklesStudio Lilla Form is the illustration & pattern studio of Cathy Westrell Nordström with a background in graphic design. Her love for flora & fauna, abstract shapes, nature and bright colors join forces in her patterns. There is a unique delicate quality to the patterns that, combined with her color palette choice, makes them stand out form the crowd. You can connect with Cathy via instagram.

Posted by Bryna Shields on 10/20/15 under artists
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Creating Your Promotional Strategy as an Artist


Do you have a Promotional Strategy?

Promotion plays a major role in the success of your freelance business. In fact, you may find yourself spending more time on this task than any other, even creating art. After all, if you don’t continually find new clients, you won’t have anything to Illustrate aside from your own personal projects, which means you won’t be able to pay your bills.

In order to get the most out of your marketing efforts, it’s important to create a strategy that you’ll follow in the days ahead. That way you can simply execute your plan rather than reinvent your approach again and again.

Here are some common steps involved in a basic promotional strategy that you can consider applying to your own business:

Build a mailing list.

If you’re aiming for a specific market, make sure you’re promoting yourself to the people who work in that field and only show the type of work that fits their needs. To do this, you’ll need to build a targeted mailing list of relevant contacts.

Create and send your marketing materials.

Design promotional items such as business cards, postcards, e-mail newsletter templates, etc. It’s a good idea to try a combination of direct mailings and email marketing to see which methods work best for you.

Announce your arrival.

Immediately send out your promotional materials to establish contact and introduce yourself to your target audience.

Promote on a schedule.

Don’t make the common mistake of sending out one promotional mailer or email and then sit back and wait until somebody contacts you. Keep your marketing efforts on a regular schedule while being careful to not send updates too frequently. Somewhere between every 60 to 90 days is a commonly accepted frequency.

Manage your mailing list.

Add to your list of contacts as you find new potential clients and check the information regularly to be sure that it’s up to date.

Use social networking.

Seek out and introduce yourself to the artists and Art Directors in your target market. Build real relationships with people and become a part of the larger Illustration community.

Making it Work for You

How you apply these concepts to your own business will depend on your budget, your personality, and your available time. If you follow these guidelines when promoting your business, you will have a much better chance of being noticed and remembered amongst a growing sea of Illustrators who are trying to make their mark in the industry.

What’s your promotional strategy?

Posted by Thomas James on 10/19/15 under business
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Becca Stadtlander


prideandprejudice_two prideandprejudiceoneearlymorning  il_570xN.416107992_6x58 knight 

Becca Stadtlander is a freelance illustrator and artist from Covington, Kentucky but currently lives and works in Rhode Island. Her illustrations are featured on products such as stationary, home decor, a wide-range of books and editorials. Her first picture book “On the Wing” was published in 2014. Her clients include; Random House, Kate Spade, Frankie Magazine and Google to name a a few. 

See more work from this amazing artist at her website and blog.

Posted by Jessica Holden on 10/18/15 under artists
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Pick of the Week for STAR and This Week’s Topic


Happy Illustration Friday!

Please enjoy the wonderful illustration above by Gina Lai, our Pick of the Week for last week’s topic of STAR. Thanks to everyone who participated with drawings, paintings, sculptures, and more. We love seeing it all!

You can see a gallery of ALL the entries here.

And of course, you can now participate in this week’s topic:


Here’s how:

Step 1: Illustrate your interpretation of the current week’s topic (always viewable on the homepage).

Step 2: Post your image onto your blog / flickr / facebook, etc.

Step 3: Come back to Illustration Friday and submit your illustration (see big “Submit your illustration” button on the homepage).

Step 4: Your illustration will then be added to the public Gallery where it will be viewable along with everyone else’s from the IF community!

Also be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter and subscribe to our weekly email newsletter to keep up with our exciting community updates!


Posted by Thomas James on 10/16/15 under artists,weekly topics
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Comics Illustrator of the Week :: Chrissie Zullo











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Chrissie Zullo is best known for her enchanting cover work on DC/Vertigo’s Cinderella: From Fabletown With Love, Cinderella: Fables Are Forever, and the digital-first series Fables: The Wolf Among Us. Before being discovered by an editor at DC/Vertigo, Zullo was working hard delighting fans with commissions & fan art of some of their favorite characters from across the spectrum of pop-culture, like Harley Quinn, Elsa the Snow Queen, The Legend of Zelda characters, Spider-Gwen, and many, many more!

You gotta love Chrissie Zullo’s eyes(in her art..)! She has such an appealing style and knows how to create really dynamic illustrations.

Additional works include contributions to Womanthology, Little Nemo Anthology, and Life With Archie.

The best place to go to keep up with the latest Chrissie Zullo art is on her blog here. She also has many snazzy art prints & sketch books for sale online here.

For more comics related art, you can follow me on my website – Andy Yates

Posted by Andy Yates on 10/15/15 under artists,black and white,comic,design,illustration,prints,weekly topics
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7 Tips on Getting Your First Illustration Project


Illustration by Catherine LePage

I have a lot of students who are graduating sidle up and ask me – very sheepishly – about how they could get their first freelance clients. They were told to create a snazzy portfolio, and to create works that would fill said portfolio up, but they didn’t know what to do beyond compiling their best work and sending them off to prospective clients and employers. What happened was a lot of waiting, rejection and a fear of hopelessness that followed. 

In my experience, a lot of first-time commissions come from word of mouth. When I first got started, I made sure to put the word out there that I was freelancing, and that if anyone needed a hand they can give me a call (or contact me via email.) But besides that, I find that being proactive about finding freelance work goes a long way – especially when you realize that those connections might take 2-3 years to fully materialize. It’s what has happened in my situation, and for many others too.

So here are few things that you can do right now:

1. Tell as many people as you can about what you do.

Spread the word that you’re freelancing around, to family, friends, even the neighbours. You may find at first that this will land you some pretty weird jobs and questions – stuff like “can you teach my kid how to draw?” It’s totally up to you to take it on, or not. I always say that it’s no harm at all, especially when you have nothing better to do – so why not flex your creative muscles and do your best – even if it’s something that you whipped up for the neighbourhood kindergarten?

2. Get your portfolio on different websites

The thing with illustration and art is that it’s hard to be found visually. And what that means is that people don’t go to Google, type in a few strings of words that describe what you do, and then be able to see your artwork among other artists (well the famous ones do, but only because they’ve built up a really big following!) So the next best thing is to put your work up in front of people who are already looking. And that means in places where they go to look. Places like Behance and Dribble. On Instagram (with the appropriate hashtags – not one made up by you!)

The caveat is that it might take some time for others to notice you, especially with all the great work out there; but it pays to be persistent. There might be a few art directors and clients who might be checking you out on those websites, but the timing is not right just yet.

3. Don’t just hang out with your illustration buddies from college or uni – make an effort!

Spread your wings out a little and go to where you’ve never been before! There is more to you than just your ability to draw – what other stuff do you like doing? What’s your other hobbies? Do you love reading? Join a book club! Do you love cooking? Join a community cook-out! The more people you reach out to that’s outside of your normal comfort zones, the better your chances of making new connections, which will ultimately help spread your name far and wide.

4. Constantly add new work to your portfolio

Slapping on a couple of pictures from your school days or previous college assignment does not mean that your portfolio is complete! Unless your work back then was really good, or it showcased what you are capable of right now, I’d suggest to leave it out. First impressions mean a lot, and if what you’re putting out there can only illicit a “meh”, it’s time for you to think of self-initiated projects that you can add to your portfolio. That’s right – there is no client involved (unless it’s imaginary, in which case it’s totally fine), no cheque waiting for you at the other end, and no assurance that it will amount to anything – not just yet. Do your best, take pride in your work and pick up that pencil because you want to better yourself, not just because there’s someone on the other end counting on you to do so.

5. Send an email to your favorite blogger

Back in the day, I get a lot of emails from graduating students and illustrators who were just starting out. And if their work catches my eye, I post it up on the Pikaland blog (though I rarely do this anymore because better platforms exist for that these days – Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, etc.) What I found out was that other blogs were checking out my blog to get news on the latest talent, and they picked up these artists too and featured them in their blog and magazines, which then helped these emerging artists gain a lot more buzz. So it couldn’t help to try – especially if you can identify with the audience of the blogger, and it’s a place where your work wouldn’t look out of place. Here’s a tip: don’t just aim for the big blogs – go for smaller, niche blogs too!

6. Be super nice to everyone and anyone

You’d think that being nice to people was a natural instinct – but sadly it isn’t! I’ve met my fair share of nasty and rude folks, but they’re thankfully far and few in-between. What I’m talking about is going above minding your P’s (please) and Q’s (thank you). Be genuinely interested in other people – listening to them, asking them helpful questions, thanking them for their time, etc – if you think that these gestures are unnecessary in the days of 140 character tweets, think again. If anything, it only serves to show how attentive you are, especially when others aren’t doing it.

7. Do your research

Look at artists who are in the same stylistic vein as yourself- see if they have a client list and see what companies or publications they have worked with. If their client list if full of, say, family and children’s magazines, you may get the hint that those markets would appreciate your work, too. Or you may be surprised to find that they are doing well in a market you never considered, and that can lead you to discover a bunch of potential clients that were previously off your radar. (This great advice is from Lauren Lowen!)

And there you have it! These are the things that I’ve personally done to get my name out there – and they’re virtually painless. All it takes is a bit of effort in the beginning, but when you’ve got your ball rolling, you’ll be able to see results very soon.

Good luck folks!

Amy Ng blogs at Pikaland, a popular stop for illustration lovers, students and artists who are looking for answers on how to find a balance between art, creativity and commerce.

Posted by Amy Ng on 10/13/15 under artists,business,illustration
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Joy Laforme

Raspberry+PickinJoy Laforme is a textile artist and illustrator based out of New Jersey. Her work is heavily influenced by spending time in the garden with her mother, as well as her mother’s love for American folk art. This sentiment certainly shines through in her whimsical body of work. Each piece in her portfolio is warm with nostalgia and feels like walking through a lush wonderland of botanicals, fruits and birdsongs. Joy uses a combination of media including gouache, acrylics and digital illustration. She has worked for many clients including Macy’s, Galison, Artfully Walls, Oopsy Daisy and Target. 
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You can connect with Joy via Instagram, Twitter or Pinterest.

Posted by Bryna Shields on 10/13/15 under artists
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