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Archive for the ‘freelance’ Category

Why You Don’t Need a Degree to Be an Artist

Amy Ng
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Amy Ng

Amy is a teacher, writer and a self-taught illustrator. Her blog Pikaland, is popular stop for illustration lovers, students and artists who are looking for answers on how to find a balance between art, creativity and commerce. Amy is also an adjunct lecturer at a local design college and has created online workshops for artists; teaching them how to use their unique strengths to create their very own opportunities. She believes that we each have a role to play and a story to tell –- and her personal mission is to help you discover what that is.
Amy Ng
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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.

Lim Heng Swee aka ilovedoodle

I like to challenge conventions and ideas alot.

And one of the topics that I can quickly get hot under the collar about is the topic of education. I think it’s a field that needs to be challenged, especially in this day and age where information runs freely and so abundantly. I’m not against the idea of learning. Far from it – I’m challenging the idea that learning needs to be in a formal environment, for a minimum of 2 to 3 years, learning about things that ultimately do not help you get to where you want to be.

You see, I get a lot of questions about pursuing a Masters degree, or even a diploma in a field that they love, i.e. art or illustration. And if you’re a student who knows what you want, and you have the means to go to a college or university, then by all means, go for it. But only IF you want to and feel very strongly about it and know what you want to get out of it. For the rest who don’t know what you want or can’t afford to go to college or university, then this article is for you. For those of you who don’t know whether to continue your education or not, then this is for you too.

I spent 5 years in a public university and graduated as a landscape architect back in 2004. I spent my life following a very predictable arc – primary school, high school, university, and then work. Only I didn’t work in the field that I graduated from. I felt that I didn’t belong, and after 6 months of intense internship where I gave it my best shot, I decided that I wasn’t suited to being a landscape architect. I hated the long hours, and the red tape that governed each project. I hated dealing with contractors and having my design torn to shreds due to shrinking budgets. And I hated AutoCAD with every fibre of my being. So much that I did my technical drawings manually (i.e. completely by hand) during my final semester when everyone else was doing theirs via computer.

So when I graduated, I turned to publishing immediately. What made me go to a publisher with nary a resume and no work history to prove my worth? Instead of focusing on what I didn’t have, I demonstrated what I could do instead. I wrote up an article and laid it out in Adobe Photoshop, to give an idea of the sort of articles I think should appear on the magazine. I got a callback for an interview and was hired on the spot as an editorial assistant. You wouldn’t believe the amount of push back I got from my peers and my parents about going for a job that required skills I didn’t learn in university! People said it would never work, and that no one would hire me – not without a Mass Communication or a journalism degree. I challenged it and proved them wrong. A few years later, I even went on to helm an architecture and design magazine as an editor; and even started a regional design magazine for a publisher. My years of education went full circle back then – my years of studying architecture and design made me very much sought after in the publishing industry.

Was my 5 years spent in university a waste of time? It’s hard to say – and I say this with the utmost affection for the time I was there. I probably might not have met my husband if I wasn’t there (he was a classmate). I’ve met wonderful teachers. But I’ve also found teachers outside the system by my own efforts. Maybe I was just lucky, considering how back then we didn’t have the choices that’s available these days. The internet was still in its infancy, and I was young and didn’t know where to look. So we followed along a very linear path – one that our peers took. And the ones that our seniors followed before that. I do wish however, that I could have cut the time I spent in university in half, although it wasn’t something that I could control. I wished that I had travelled more and explored student exchange options overseas. Maybe that’s it.

On the upside: I’m grateful for learning more about fine arts, design and the experience of working in a studio through my time in university, and for the friends I made along the way. I made sure I was in control of what I wanted to learn – I enrolled in a degree that taught me the basics of design and art, even though deep down I knew that I might not work in the field I studied in. The reasons for doing so was a little complicated – I didn’t have access to a lot of courses in public university, and I didn’t go to a private college because of financial restraints (I didn’t want to get myself or my parents in debt). I made sure that the lessons I learnt, however, can be applied to virtually anything I was interested in life.

And that’s what I want people to know.

That you’re in control of what you do. That you can choose to learn at your own pace and to create your own outcome. That you don’t need a title to define yourself – you’re better off focusing on the things you want to learn, rather than what you will call yourself at the end of a degree. That you’re no longer following a linear path – you have a wide open field at your disposal. And yes, that may be terrifying at times, but it’s also a very exciting time.

I set up the Pikaland blog in 2008 precisely because I didn’t know much about illustration. I wanted to learn more from the artists I saw online. I saw their work, and I devoured their bios and statements; and went looking for patterns in their work so that I could try to get a glimpse of why they chose to create the way they do. It was always about ideas, and not so much about their techniques.

For 7 years (it’s approaching 8 now!) I learnt on my own. I saw thousands of illustrations, read thousands of bios, artists statements and concepts; talked to hundreds of artists and learnt what I could about this unique career – one that has changed so much throughout the years. My personal accomplishments include being an illustrator, art director and educator. And I want to give back to people, and show others that it can be done. I took control of my own education, and I now I teach others how to do the same at a local college, and online as well.

And it’s the best feeling in the world – the thought that I could do whatever I wanted, if I put my heart into it.

I’ve come out the other side – still learning as I go along – and I’m happy to say this: so can you.

[Illustration by Lim Heng Swee of ilovedoodle]

Posted by Amy Ng on 07/24/15 under artists,business,freelance
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The Healthy Way to Compare Yourself to Other Artists

Thomas James

Thomas James

Thomas James is an Illustrator who has worked with The New York Times, WIRED, Pentagram, Wall Street Journal, The Los Angeles Times, and many others. You can see his portfolio at thomasjamesillustration.com.
Thomas James

Latest posts by Thomas James (see all)

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Illustration by Thomas James

It can be dangerous to spend too much time comparing your own Illustration work to that of your fellow artists, but there are times when it can be beneficial to your art and your business.

I’m sure we’ve all found ourselves getting caught in the trap of unhealthy comparisons. It can be easy to find yourself looking at someone’s art and marveling at how much better they are than you, or how much more successful. This only results in feelings of doubt and uncertainty, which can wreak havoc on your creative output. If you find yourself in this situation, maybe it’s time to back off and return to your own voice and think about what is unique about you.

However, it is also a mistake to go too far in the opposite direction and close yourself off from your fellow Illustrators altogether, thereby passing up opportunities for personal, professional, and artistic growth.

Healthy Comparison

There’s no doubt that paying attention to your fellow Illustrators can be a great learning experience when done in moderation. There are so many things you can learn from the ways that other people communicate visual ideas, promote their work, design their website, etc.

Whenever you come across an Illustrator that inspires you, take a moment to think about what it is that’s grabbing your attention.

Have they tackled a topic in a way that you might not have considered?

Do they have a unique skill or technique that you can develop within yourself?

Are they running their business in a way that you can apply to your own situation?

Questions like these can help to turn simple admiration into a more studious approach that can make you a better Illustrator. No matter what level of experience or talent you consider yourself to be at, growth and education should be a regular activity, lest you become stagnant and complacent in your craft.

The important thing is to be mindful of the ways that you can take the things that you learn from other artists and make them your own without simply copying their approach.

Do you consciously study the work and practices of your fellow Illustrators? What are some things that you’ve learned by doing this?

Posted by Thomas James on 07/23/15 under business,freelance
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How to Be More Creative in the Age of Over-Inspiration

Amy Ng
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Amy Ng

Amy is a teacher, writer and a self-taught illustrator. Her blog Pikaland, is popular stop for illustration lovers, students and artists who are looking for answers on how to find a balance between art, creativity and commerce. Amy is also an adjunct lecturer at a local design college and has created online workshops for artists; teaching them how to use their unique strengths to create their very own opportunities. She believes that we each have a role to play and a story to tell –- and her personal mission is to help you discover what that is.
Amy Ng
Follow me

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.

Neil J Rook

Ah, the internet. What would I do without it? It’s a portal that bounces me from one wonderment to the next – an inspiring road trip filled with jaw-dropping illustrations and illuminating interviews, with sideshow attractions of fun video tutorials to community hangouts for every niche under the sun. The internet is the gateway to inspiration on demand, and it seems like the more sidetracked I get, the hungrier I get for more.

When you have a source that beckons with creativity and inspiration 7 days a week and 24 hours a day, it’s easy to be sucked into a loop. There’s always something interesting a mere click away. I know for a fact that I’m not alone in my predicament. In the age of Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter and the many infinite scrolling art & design websites (I liken it to a bottomless well of beautiful things just waiting to be discovered) – what does this mean for artists?

The National Centre for Biotechnology Information’s research in April 2015 has surveyed that the average attention span of people in 2015 is now 8.25 seconds, compared to 12 seconds in the year 2000. That means our capacity for holding attention is 30% less compared to 15 years ago – and it’s not surprising, given how our brains are hard-wired to crave new information; according to Bruce Morton, a researcher with the University of Western Ontario’s Brain and Mind Institute.

With each click leading to the next and the more information we devour, the novelty wears off quickly, and off we go in search of better, more beautiful, more interesting things. It’s nasty cycle that perpetuates itself; leading to a host of other problems like a lack of productivity (hey, where did the time go?), procrastination (just one more website!) and for some, the inability (or reluctance) to dive deeper; to analyse and synthesise the information they’ve already visually absorbed.

I’ve talked to college students who were confused by it all – there was no lack of inspiration, and yet they weren’t inspired. They grew up with the internet being a very big part of their lives, and yet they seem to be suffering from inspiration fatigue, and couldn’t understand why. One theory that I brought up was that perhaps they’ve been looking at what was already completed and done by other artists, therefore subconsciously they didn’t need to figure out the process for themselves (hey, since it’s already been done!) Replicating something visually without finding out the underlying thought process behind it all is just like skimming the water without knowing its depths. It’s also a little like eating junk food all the time, which tastes great but isn’t very good for you.

I recommended my students to try and be more conscientious of the information they took in. Instead of merely looking at the aesthetics of the many works of art in front of their screen before jumping to the next, how about they pause for a moment and focus on finding out more details about it instead? Dig through archives of the artist’s work, and perhaps catch a glimpse of their process. Maybe it works and maybe it doesn’t (the ails of over-inspiration runs far deeper), but the reminder to dig vertically instead of mindlessly pacing horizontally might just be a good start. I needed the nudge too as I’m sometimes guilty of the same.

It’s times like these that it’s useful to remember Charles Eames’ quote: “Art resides in the quality of doing, process is not magic.”

Maybe we don’t really need more inspiration. We need more doing instead.

[Illustration by Neil J Rook]

Posted by Amy Ng on 07/16/15 under artists,business,freelance
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20 Pieces of Advice from 20 Illustrators

Thomas James

Thomas James

Thomas James is an Illustrator who has worked with The New York Times, WIRED, Pentagram, Wall Street Journal, The Los Angeles Times, and many others. You can see his portfolio at thomasjamesillustration.com.
Thomas James

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In preparation for her awesome upcoming online workshop Building a Freelance Illustration Business, Illustrator Salli Swindell decided to reach out and get some thoughts from other artists. The question was “What’s one piece of advice you would share with other illustrators?” This is testament to the fact that Salli is doing her best to make the workshop as useful and helpful as possible, and she has graciously shared the results with Illustration Friday!

Meet 20 artists below and read what they have to say! Also be sure to check out Salli’s educational and inspiring online workshop: Building a Freelance Illustration Business here.

Coming soon: Part 2 – Advice from art directors.

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Posted by Thomas James on 07/14/15 under art supplies,artists,business,classes,freelance,IF news update
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Elise Gravel :: author and illustrator

Alice Palace

Alice Palace

Alice works as a greeting card publisher, illustrator and designer from her studio in Evesham with her sister Lizzy (the studio manager) and their two dogs, Jemima and Honey (the distractions!).
Alice Palace

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Post by Alice Palace

Elise lives in Montreal and draws lots and  LOTS of wonderful monster characters – but the illustrations I love best are her children and animals…

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Take a look at her website

Posted by Alice Palace on 02/04/15 under artists,books,freelance
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a print designer named Aless Baylis

Alice Palace

Alice Palace

Alice works as a greeting card publisher, illustrator and designer from her studio in Evesham with her sister Lizzy (the studio manager) and their two dogs, Jemima and Honey (the distractions!).
Alice Palace

Latest posts by Alice Palace (see all)

Post by Alice Palace

Aless has just set up her own studio label called ‘This is gold’. Based in London, she is available for freelance surface pattern, illustration and childrenswear graphics. I love her characters…

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See her New Website

Posted by Alice Palace on 01/26/15 under artists,children's art,freelance
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Believing You Can Make an Amazing Creative Portfolio

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Just another day at the art desk I hear you say, starting your sunday with a chipper smile and creative heart filled with enthusiasm you believe today is going to be great. That is however until you sit down to start working on that creative portfolio you aspire to make. Suddenly you’re faced with an extremely sweaty brow and a blank canvas that’s been sitting there for the best part of an hour.

You may start to hear a small voice quoting in the back of your head how you can do this!”. However this then propels into a downward swirl beating yourself up over your lack of progress, whilst creating a rather larger  pile of screwed up sketchbook pages behind you. In all you just don’t know where to start and have an idea of a project’s “end” with no “beginning”.

Generating ideas for portfolio pieces can be tough if you don’t plan and prepare in advance what you aim to create.  Every creative person I believe though has the potential to create some amazing self-initiated projects to really blow the socks off those creative directors and get that commission.  If that’s what you wanna do then here’s a few ways to help reel back your line to the beginning and get started creating amazing portfolio pieces that will help promote what you can do!

1.  Understand what kind of work you want to be doing : Think about the kind of work you want to produce whether children’s book illustration , portrait photography , commercial design and more. By knowing where you want to go creatively this will help you understand the type of work you need to create.

2. Generate project ideas around your chosen work: Now that you’ve chosen your type of work the next step is to generate your own project idea. For example this could be illustrating a page from your favourite children’s book if your aim is a children’s illustration. Create a pattern design collection if your aim is to work within commercial product, licensing and more.

3. Hone your skills and think outside the box : No doubt you’ll have your collection of favoured art materials that you turn to when you create a piece. However be sure to hone your skills will other materials , softwares and processes to as this will help show how versatile you can create pieces and how diverse they can be. Last but not least though think outside the box, take inspiration from other creative is one thing but then take a little inspiration from it and create something unique to you.

Image by Matt Adrian you can find out more about his work here.

 

Posted by Kate Leonard on 01/18/15 under freelance
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Grace Helmer: ethereal oil paint illustration

Heather Ryerson

Heather Ryerson has worked as a designer and illustrator for the past 8 years. She writes short stories and has a keen interest in book arts and self-publishing. She enjoys reading children's stories, exercising her citizenship, and dancing to jangly '60s rock music. Heather splits her time between Portland, Oregon and London, England and has a fine collection of raincoats.

Find out more about Heather's work on www.heatherryerson.com.

post by Heather Ryerson

Grace Helmer

Grace Helmer

Grace Helmer

Grace Helmer

Grace Helmer

Grace Helmer

Grace Helmer uses strong brush strokes to create her rich, ethereal oil illustrations. The expressive color progressions in her paintings give the work a delicate, transient presence; the viewer can’t help but be caught up in the joy and beauty of Helmer’s brief captured moments. Her style is used to especially great effect in her animated pieces. Constantly changing textures and shapes create a depth and dynamism that one might feel could easily be drunk from the canvas. Helmer graduated from the Camberwell College of Art in 2012 and is part of the illustration studio collective Day Job.

See portfolio | Watch an animaton


Posted by Heather Ryerson on 12/05/14 under animation,freelance
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To the creative overthinker …

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Dear Creative overthinker,

No doubt there have been times where you were sat at your desk deep in thought or maybe you were previously to reading this. With your pen , paintbrush, camera or graphics tablet in hand your mind gets caught up in a whirlwind of creative over thought causing you to over think your entire creative practice. As you do this the creative work that you do that was “fun work” begins to feel more like ” hard work” thus bringing the creativity inside you to a halt. Thoughts such as:

” What if I post my design and no one likes it ?”

” What if I post this set of cards, notebooks and prints and no one buys them?”

“What if I go to that design interview and I get turned down?”

“What if I email this client the price quote for a commission and they think I’m really overpriced?”

In a nut shell thoughts like this cause “you” to stop and your creativity will stop with it, all the “what if’s” in our head’s are sometimes enough to stop us doing what we love to do. So my dear creative over thinker try to stop thinking so much , live in the creative moment, make smart prompt decisions that may scare the pants off you and be brave.

Image by artist Tim Bontan you can find more of his work here .

Posted by Kate Leonard on 10/26/14 under business,freelance
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Creatively managing your time

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We can all be guilty at some time or another of not managing our time as effectively as we could have done. Whether you were running late for a university submission, a deadline for a client that was looming or you just find it hard to keep on top of your to do’s then  creatively managing your time better maybe something you could improve on. Now you don’t need to make major changes to your routine to manage your time better, simply by bringing just some of these tips into your creative day will help you  manage your time making meeting those deadlines more stress free.

1 . Separate your tasks into time chunks of  30 to 45 minute  followed by a break to refresh your mind ready for the next task.

2. Set an alarm to ring when your time is up this will prompt you to move onto the next task and if unfinished come back to the current one later.

3.Use app’s or timers to track how much time you’ve already spent on your project.

4. Pop on a tv series or film is another way of managing your time if you don’t mind a bit of background noise, once the show is over you’re prompted to finish what your doing ( just don’t get to distracted watching it if you’re a adventure time fan it may be best to stick to the gardening channel instead).

5. Use a calendar that’s either paper based or digital to track how much time you have from the start date to finish for your project. This way you can allocate set days and time to progress with your project.

Image by illustrator Kritsten Vasgaard you can find out more about their work here .

Posted by Kate Leonard on 10/19/14 under business,freelance
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