Monday, December 20, 2010
You may have heard: #kidlitart is sponsoring a dummy challenge to celebrate our first anniversary (a year already!).
Thanks to the lovely and talented @DiandraMae, the Great Dummy Challenge has an official twibbon! . . . cool, huh? Get yours here: https://twibbon.com/join/PBdummy-Challenge-2
We've also taken the hashtag out for a test spin: #PBdummy will be the place to post comments on Twitter during the challenge.
The planning and scheduling is still being finalized, so be sure to add your comments/questions here, or DM us (@BonnieAdamson; @WendymartinArt).
We're looking forward to kicking things off January 6--see you then! In the meantime, watch this space for updates.
Friday, December 17, 2010
Points worth mentioning:
The big winter holidays are probably more a time to connect with and show appreciation for the people you work with: a card or small gift works well, depending on the closeness of the relationship.
As a creative marketing tool, try sending promos themed to another holiday: April Fool's; St. Patrick's Day; National Cupcake Day--riffs on any of these can give your promo a hook to make it stand out from the crowd.
Regarding manuscripts and/or dummies, don't forget that publishers are always looking for holiday tie-ins; it might be smart to have one or two in your portfolio.
Speaking of dummies, the last half of the chat was taken over with discussion of the Great Kidlit Dummy Challenge, set to kick off January 6 . . and somehow, that morphed into a general food-themed free-for-all. :-D
Programming note: Kidlitart is taking a holiday hiatus, and will return January 6. Stay tuned to Twitter and to this site for updates between now and then.
Wendy and I wish all of our kidlitart friends the very happiest of holidays!
Full chat transcript below--enjoy with the beverage of your choice:
Friday, December 10, 2010
Apologies to our guest, super illustrator Jannie Ho--the conversation last night was impossible to shape into a more reader-friendly Q&A; we've provided a list of highlights instead.
Please check out Jannie's website, the awesomeness of which was the inspiration for the chat.
Note: Jannie recently updated to a Wordpress site, using the Headway premium theme.
Alert chatters provided a link to a purchase promo currently running for Headway theme packages; and suggest a Twitter source for Headway support at #headwaywp.
Advice/suggestions/comments regarding illustrator websites:
1) Keep the site as simple as possible: it's not necessary (and possibly frustrating to busy ADS) to add animations, etc.
2) Consider opening directly onto a gallery page--the fewer clicks to get to your art, the better. However, opening with your blog might move you higher in search engines.
3) Provide your name and contact information on EVERY page; if an AD prints samples from your site (and some do), your name should be on them.
4) STOP USING FLASH: makes sites slow to load, hard to bookmark; not SEO-friendly; doesn't work on iPhone/iPad; ADs may be unable to download images.
5) make sure your site is mobile-compatible, as many ADs report surfing for talent from smart phones.
6) ADs repotedly like thumbnail organization; thumbs should be shrunk from originals, however, not cropped into obscurity.
7) Opinions divided on wisdom/effectiveness of providing pdf portfolio on website. Pro: handy for ADs to print samples for prospective clients; Con: makes it easier to steal images. Chatters point out that there are ways to add security, but NO image on a website is ever totally safe.
8)Questions raised in regard to performance of Wordpress in controlling SEO for images. Some use the NextGEN gallery plug-in or Flickr to display images.
9)Choices for monitoring visits to your site: StatCounter; Google Analytics; or statistics provided by The Authors Guild Web Services
10) If you have an established blog, consider exporting content to new web site, or placing a link to the existing blog on your site.
11) Edit content on your new blog: get rid of old, outdated work; keep it fresh.
12) Don't include styles in which you do not want to work.
Thanks to all for your insight! Full transcript below:
Friday, December 3, 2010
In addition to the traditional avenues of promoting our work with postcard mailings, online portfolios and sample submissions, many of us have original picture book ideas we'd like to develop. The notion of combining our art and writing talents received support recently from this post, which suggests that the picture book market is uniquely receptive to the author/illustrator. And several of us got an extra boost by participating in Tara Lazar's PiBoIdmo challenge last month. Add all this to the fact that #kidlitart's first anniversary (!) is coming up January 6th, and we've got a great reason to celebrate with our very own kidlitart picture book dummy challenge!
This is all still in the discussion phase--which is where we need your help. Here are the ideas so far:
1) host an online challenge, either here at the kidlitart blog or elsewhere, that would include a schedule of checkpoints to creating a finished dummy and a mechanism for posting your progress (not the work, just a comment on where you are in the process).
2) create a hashtag for keeping up with/encouraging each other via Twitter
3) establish a closed blog or Flickr account for participants who wish to disuss specific ideas or post work in progress for critique (this would be voluntary--you would not have to post work to participate in the challenge)
4) the challenge would be open to everyone: non-illustrator friends are welcome to join in (making a dummy is a great exercise for polishing any picture book manuscript)
5) the challenge would begin after the first of the year--kickoff January 6th--and run through May or June.
6) At each stage, the host site would post reference material for participants: links to online resources; pdf downloads of storyboard templates, etc.
7) the goal for illustrators would be to have a finished dummy ready to submit as part of an author/illustrator package. In other words, no prizes other than the satisfaction of accomplishing an objective.
Obviously, there are still lots of details to work out. If you're interested, we need your feedback to make this work! Please use the comment field below for questions, concerns and suggestions, or just to let us know you're interested. We won't hold you to it, but it will help in the planning if we have some idea of how many might be participating.
Thanks to all for your input so far, and for your support of #kidlitart every week: the energy and enthusiasm is wonderful!
Note: This chat morphed into a discussion of a possible kidlitart-sponsored online challenge to create picture book dummies. Please see Dummy Challenge post for details.
Friday, November 19, 2010
TOPIC: Illustrator only or author/illustrator--what's best for you?
This was a chat filled with quote-worthy wisdom from illustrators, writers and those in between. A brief sampling:
@kellylight: Shoot for the moon--if you miss . . . you get to illustrate the stars.
@JohansenNewman: Don't wait: write the stories for the things you want to illustrate.
@aliciapadron: I just want to say to all writers . . . you guys make it look easy and it's not.
@PattyJMurphy: Like illustrating, writing is a craft and an art form . . . both take time, talent, patience . . . and cupcakes.
Post at kidlit.com on possible advantages of aubthor/illustrator
Hulla-hooping supplies! (extremely relevant, believe it or not!)
Full transcript below--enjoy!
Friday, November 12, 2010
PiBoIdMo (Picture Book Idea Month)
NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month)
NaPiBoWriWee (National Picture Book Writing Week)
NaNoDrawMo (National "Novel" Drawing Month)
The Sketchbook Project
They Draw And Cook
SCBWI's Tomie dePaola Award contest
Dueling Banjo Pigs
Terrible Yellow Eyes (now closed)
Full transcript below:
Friday, November 5, 2010
First off, Tweet of the night honors go to:
@barrygott: You mean there's something beyond postcards? Weird.
@NVCrittenden: Singing telegrams????
Showing portfolio face-to-face
Paid portfolio sites such as ChildrensIllustrators.com; picture-book.com; altpick
Free portfolio sites such as Illustration Mundo
SCBWI: conferences; paid portfolio reviews; submitting to Bulletin; Tomie dePaola Award
Sample packets (example: Meg Hunt's promo packet)
Portfolios on CD (controversy noted: ADs split on this)
Online presence: website, blog, Twitter, Facebook
Website tips: "two-click" rule (should not take more than two clicks to reach portfolio images); have samples/thumbnails on landing page; track visits to site with free service such as StatCounter
Lynn Alpert (@RedStepchild)'s response to requests from self-publishers
Full transcript below:
Friday, October 29, 2010
Friday, October 22, 2010
In the excerpted transcript below, we've attempted to recreate the conversation in a more linear Q&A format. Questions and comments from chat participants are in bold; Wendy's answers are in italic.
Why don't you tell us a little about your art?
My pleasure....hello everyone. Gee...my art, it's colorful, detailed and I'm a stickler for "good draughtsmanship"...and decorative, I guess: I see texture and pattern everywhere.
That really shows, Wendy. Do you do any b/w line work?
I started doing only B & W pen and ink. It was a good thing I moved into color; in B & W sometimes the pattern was too much!
Do you have an agent?
Yes, I have an agent, MorganGaynin: kid's art and grown up art.
Is that for book illustration? the agent?
My agents rep me for books or other commercial work.
Do your kid art and grown up cross over style wise?
Actually, style wise, my adult and kid's work is pretty much the same.
Your art is incredible!! :) How long have you been illustrating?
I started working professionally when I was 16; I left school at the end of the 8th grade and my first job was in NYC, Garment Dist.
WOW! What confidence!
My parents were beatnik-hippie types and I just didn't know any better.....NOW, I get nervous! : ) I started out illustrating hang tags for Garanimals.
Oh! They're a brand of kid's clothing, aren't they?
Yes about the Garanimals: you match the "tiger" pants to the "tiger" shirt, kids do, so they can dress themselves.
Wendy, how did you break into children's books--from Garanimals?
I just started dragging my portfolio around NYC. I made a trip from Vermont, where I had moved to, and left samples.
Are you strictly traditional? You work looks like watercolor...
My work is watercolor, some acrylic and CP.
I'm sorry for being clueless--by CP do you mean cold press paper?
CP, sorry, colored pencils. I pretty much only use hot press paper.
What is your favorite brand of hot press? What weight of hot press paper do you prefer?
I tried to like Fabriano but always come back to good old Arches 140 lb hot press! I love the 300 lb but I print out tight drawings on my wide format printer and the 300 is just a bit much. I have some mystery paper I fell in love with, that had no watermark, and haven't been able to find it again.
Do you use any gloss medium/acrylic glaze in your paintings? Wish I could see your work for real - so much detail!
I do use the gloss medium w/ acrylics; all my work, in watercolor too, is all glazing.
If you had started out illustrating today, would you do it all the same?
I think I would do it again the same, but maybe I DO wish I had gone to art school to learn more technique, like oils!
Wendy, are you self taught?
Yes, I am self taught, but parents were both frustrated artists.
Looking through your blog to see more of your process and I have to ask, are you using brown cp as under sketch? Do you print the sketches right on the paper?
I print my drawings out in sepia, and then ink the contour lines in brown. Before the printer, it was the light table and brown ink.
You have an Epson?
I am a huge fan of Epson. I have a 2200 that is now discontinued, prints 13 X 19, and a 3800 which will print 17 X 27.
So paint over ink.. what pens do you use? Curious as to what doesn't bleed when painting.
The printed drawing and inked line are waterproof, pitt pens or microns in sepia. I actually miss rapidographs a little....but hated the eventual, inevitable clogging and they were slow.
Wet in wet bleeds in a lovely way but with glazing I let things dry in between so the colors, always transparent, shine through.
Wow, and here I am still transferring sketches onto watercolor paper using graphite sheets...
My drawings are so tight and detailed that drawing them more than once, transferring them makes my eyes bleed! I HATE light tables.
I use a light table but hate how the drawing loses life after tracing.
EXACTLY how I feel! The first sketch is alive, the traced one is stiffer.
My light table is much too small for my purposes these days.
I bought a light table from a going out of business printer, an old "stripper's" table 5 X 4 FEET!
That's how I got my paper cutter. A Dick Blick was moving and I got a super deal on it.
My paper cutter was from an old school......an old oak one like a table. I LOVE old card catalogs too, for paints and stuff.
I draw on trace paper and scan in then adjust and print out then trace on light table.
I draw on Clearprint Vellum, my fave because I can erase a 100 times if I just can't draw that !@#$%^ foot right at first.
Drawing such detail did you naturally go that way? What was your inspiration?
My drawing has always been really detailed; I think it is simply how I see. Some people see in shapes, blocks of color, but I see wood grain, herringbone, individual hairs. I've learned a bit to allow space in between areas of texture and pattern so the piece can be read. I try to be conscious of that. Once, I did a magazine cover in B&W with so much detail I didn't realize I drew a woman with three arms! Two holding a baby and one reaching.
Did you see it before you sent in the final?
Nope, there it was printed, and suddenly, OMG!!!! she's got three arms! No one else ever noticed!!!!! At least that I know of.
That is brilliant, I love hearing stories like that!
I think these situations just show how wonderfully absorbed we can become, which is so very lucky for us!!!
What's your studio like? Do you have a lot of fabric/tactile references for all the detail you do?
My studio is just in a pokey extra bedroom.......I just collect magazines, stare at things a lot.
I used to have a "morgue" now I just search through Google.
I love my morgue: once I saw a book cover and I recognized the Googled photo the illustrator had used!
The hour sped by so quickly--lol, didn't get to ask half the questions I wanted!
That is amazing that it has been an hour; yikes, I had NO reason to be nervous! Now that I've done this, I'll come back again! Thank you! Nice to see some old friends and meet new ones.
Thank you for sharing your tips and tricks with us. Your art is lovely. Hope to learn more from your blog.
Have a great night everyone! Thanks, and if anyone has a question, feel free to email me.
Full transcript below:
Wednesday, October 20, 2010
Totally self-taught, Wendy calls herself “ridiculously driven,” working seven days a week to realize her dream of becoming an illustrator. She says in the beginning she knew absolutely nothing except that she could draw, but she was determined to learn, going on interviews for freelance ad agency jobs by day and studying library books for technique at night.
Wendy will take questions on how she developed—or, rather, recognized—her own unique style, and how she has successfully carved out a place for her work in online marketing, children’s book illustration, and art licensing.
Check out her portfolios at http://www.wendyedelson.com, and news of current projects and awards at her blog, http://www.elevenlemons.blogspot.com.
See you on Thursday!
Friday, October 15, 2010
A big issue is scheduling personal projects; client projects have deadlines, which makes them easier to schedule--and when client projects come in, they always trump personal work
Loss of momentum can be a killer---it's hard to jump back into the game
Switching gears takes time--it's difficult to pick up work for just an hour or two if you know you're going to be interrupted
On the other hand, you can lose huge chunks of time to the artistic "zone"--that alternate reality that causes you to have to re-engage with real life
If the deadline is off in the future, you tend to work more slowly; closer deadlines mean more productive work
Many need to "schedule" hobbies, exercise; try five-minute exercise breaks while working
It's hard to visulaize how long a project will actually take to complete
It's easy to find yourself working too hard and accomplishing too little
If your life is out of control, it's hard to draw sweet, happy characters
It can be easier to streamline the mundane tasks (errands, housework) than to try to streamline your illustration process
It's particularly hard to balance two creative pursuits: iluustrating and writing, for instance--you seem to be pulled one direction or the other
If multi-tasking is required, try to designate chunks of time to each project; assign different projects different days; or make sure projects have different deadlines, especially in concept phase
Learn to say "no"--to clients and to unrealistic deadlines
Make lists and stick to them
Remind yourself that you actually enjoy drawing (!)
Ask clients for budget and timeframe up front, then include in contract
Try to be happy with what you did today, rather than worrying about all you didn't get done
Break big goals into smaller ones
Rid yourself of "easy distractions"--like iPod games
Article in The New Yorker on procrastination
Video with fun advice about tackling the most onerous jobs first
Basecamp project management software
Tweet of the night:
@alistaps: "Realistic goals - I meditate and journal lots to make sure I'm tapped into my heart's agenda.. my brain gets too tyrannical ;)"
Full transcript below:
Friday, October 8, 2010
Friday, October 1, 2010
Recharging can be a matter of sweeping out the cobwebs, finding new sources of inspiration—or both.
Suggestions for brain-clearing
Physical: take a walk; walk the dog; work in the garden; go for a swim; go to the gym; get a massage; take a nap; clean out/reorganize your workspace; leave the house; shut everything out and chill
Mental: read a book; watch an old movie; knit, crochet, quilt; work on a craft project; cook or bake; zone out in front of the TV; listen to music; stare into space; schedule a time to unplug from TV, internet, Twitter [gasp!]
Listen to podcasts; browse the internet; teach a class; attend a conference; visit the library or bookstore; take in a museum show; organize a field trip to the zoo; flip through back issues of design magazines; browse your WIP backlog; take out your supplies and play; network with other creatives, in person or online; sign up for challenges (mentioned: @taralazar's PiBoIdMo)
Full transcript below:
Thursday, September 23, 2010
Friday, September 17, 2010
graphite pencil (2B)
colored pencil (Prismacolor)
SmithMicro Manga Studio
http://www.lynda.com/ (Software tutorials--subscription site)
Tutorials for Painter
Tutorials and podcasts from Dani Jones (@DaniDraws): http://danidraws.com/
Full transcript below:
Note: We lost the first five minutes of the chat, due to a WhatTheHashtag snafu.
Friday, September 10, 2010
Here is a distillation of the main chat in Q&A form. Jonathan's comments are in italics:
So, Jonathan--would you like to fill us in a bit on zero2illo?
I started zero2illo as a way to keep me accountable-I'd procrastinated for too long in my illustration aspirations. [It] was also way to share resources I found along the way that may help other aspiring illustrators too & it sort of grew from there.
How's it working so far?
It has sort of kept me accountable and in outwardly sharing my progress it has helped me decide where I want to go.
How does [zero2illo] work?
It started as just a blog where I would post progress pics and
share resources but then came the challenges!
How did you arrive at having 12 weeks for a challenge?
It was really my wife @leawoodward that was responsible for the 12 weeks - she got fed up of me always talking about becoming an illustrator and said get on with it or let it go - I couldn't possibly let my passion go though. Together we decided to give myself 12 weeks to really make a go of it & she suggested inviting everyone else along for the ride
So important to have a supportive partner.
Totally - my wife is amazing and definitely the brains of the partnership (and the looks too actually).
How do the challenges work? Do you set up daily, weekly goals...and then, what happens after you reach your goals?
First we mapped out 12 steps that would be integral to setting up an illustration business from the ground up. We then put a post (task) on the blog each week for everyone tocomplete & week 12 you'd have a solid foundation.
The only thing keeping me going is fear of failure . . . and not being able to pay the bills.
It's funny how we all work as fear of failure was what kept me from starting in first place - self doubt.
How did you get the message "out there"? that you were starting the challenge? 02illo obviously, any others?
It was just through the site really and the facebook page too - I announced it about a month before we started.People then started tweeting about it and blogging it on their sites and I was totally blown away by the response. I was worried I might only get the odd one or two people joining but it got into the hundreds which was very inspiring.
I read about it on FB and thought, why not? I am so glad I did!
The business plan (OGSM) week was one I was a bit concerned about as it was very business focused and wasn't sure what participants would make of it - but the OGSM(Objectives, Strategies,Goals & Measures) is a great tool.
With each 12 week challenge, do you have daily goals, weekly goals?
The challenges are weekly and sometimes broken down into a couple of tasks - eg. create 2 portfolio pieces.
Can you offer a link to all of this...or is it on your web site?
It's all on the website and we've actually just pulled everything
together into a handy ebook too. The weekly blog posts are all still on the site but the ebook gathers lots of extra resources too.
Here's the link for the 12 week challenge ebook: http://zero2illo.com/store/12-week-challenge-kit/
How does one get in on this and is it open to beginners or pros only?
The challenge is open to anyone from beginner to pro and you can do
it anytime at your leisure.
Is it hard for you to start this project and have your work become about the project and not about your art?
One of our main intentions for 12WC was to bring in ideas, technology & methods
outside of the illustration norm = like the OGSM. My wife was a management consultant so we used a lot of her knowledge to do things a little differently & set up a solid business.
That's great, a different perspective...Thinking differently than how an illustr8r would approach it maybe?
Exactly-my wife's a techie whizz too & I'm a graphic/web designer too so we mixed it all up into a pot & served it up.
Any success stories yet? Is it too soon?
We have a few people that have had there 1st professional illustration commissions which was awesome to hear about.
What would be the best tip for those finding their day jobs or life getting in the way of their illo goals?
I'd say 'how badly do you want it?' There is always extra time to be found in your day.
I've found I can get a lot more accomplished in 15 minutes than I previously thought.
Especially true when you have a baby. Don't know what I used to do with all my time before becoming a parent.
So how is your own challenge progressing? Are you meeting your goals?
My own challenge, hmmmm. I underestimated how much time it would take to run the challenge and so I fell behind.
LOL, so you still need to finish?
Well, my goals have changed slightly & that is due to taking part in the 12WC as made me focus on what I wanted. I'm no longer necessarily looking outward for someone to hire me - I have plans to earn a living from illustration by building my own little empire. I have big plans but it's so important to think big. I'm moving more towards creating my own products and marketing myself using the 1000 true fans principle: http://www.kk.org/thetechnium/archives/2008/03/1000_true_fans.php
You're also expanding into digital with your work. How do you like working in Photoshop?
Yeah - just started doing some collages digitally which I previously couldn't get a grip of. Really enjoying it now I've worked out my processes and methods of
Do you think a business plan is important for any creative endeavor?
I think it's vital for any business - that is why the OGSM is so great as it's fun to create and a one page doc.
I think I've reworked my OGSM 4 times since the #12wk :) It is a wonderful tool to have at your desk to stay focused.
It's designed to be a flexible document. Mine has totally changed since I did mine in week 2. [It's] the law of attraction. So many of us focuson what we don't want rather than what we do want.
One of my very dear friends always says we get what we think we deserve...I think in a lot of cases that's true...
I love the Henry Ford quote 'Whether you think you can or think you can't, either way you're right.' Find out what the blocking factor is and smash it to pieces.
Find out what that blocking factor is and smash it to pieces - good topic for a series! I had a block for nearly two years.
Mine lasted for about 10 - never thought I was good enough, always comparing myself to my fav illustrators.
Holy Smokes!! How did you function? How did you come out of that and the frustration?
You uncovered my secret earlier - a kick ass wife!! I'm a very lucky guy. My wife [gave] me a kick up the bum as she got so sick of me talking and never doing.
I've spent the last 5 years perfecting a unique style. Been waiting until I was 'ready.'
I can relate to that - the old 'I just need to do one more illo and then I'll be ready' syndrome. One thing we talk about in the ebook is looking at your consumption to production ratio - I was always consuming & never creating
Our time is almost up tonight--thank you SO much to @jonwoodward for elevating the discussion tonight!
Thanks everyone for being so kind - I wish I could join you all every week. Some of you may know that we are www.locationindependent.com too and basically travel around taking our business with us and we may well be heading over to the US next year so if I'm on the same time zone I'll definitely be back to join in the fun.
The winner of the zero2illo 12 week challenge kit ebook is: @jessicablank! For everyone else the promo code for $7 off the ebook is: kidlitart2010. The promo code is for anyone reading the transcript of this chat too that couldn't make it to the live chat. All you need to do is go to http://zero2illo.com/store/12-week-challenge-kit/ - click on buy now and then enter: kidlitart2010. (NOTE: Coupon expires Wednesday, September 15.)
Full transcript below:
Wednesday, September 8, 2010
Jonathan will discuss the importance of being part of an online community (we're with you there, Jonathan!). He will also take questions about his experiences establishing the zero2illo 12 Week Challenge--and how that in turn resulted in the thriving zero2illo Clubhouse, which continues to offer support for professionals and hopefuls transitioning into careers as full-time illustrators.
As if that weren't enough, Jonathan is sponsoring our first ever #kidlitart giveaway:
"I will be drawing a name at random from those that participate in the live chat (actual participants though not just lurkers) and will be giving away a copy of the new zero2illo '12 Week Challenge Kit' ebook. I'll also be giving away a special coupon code to all participants for $7 off the price of the ebook too (valid until Sunday 12th September)."
The rules: You MUST comment during the chat to be considered for either the giveaway or the coupon code.* We will compile a list of chat participants from the "official" transcript, generated between 9 pm and 10 pm Eastern daylight time. If you don't comment, your name will not show up in the stream--so, lurkers, it's time to de-cloak!
Our thanks to Jonathan for agreeing to jump into the fray with us; and, as always, our profound appreciation to the loyal kidlitart community--you guys are the best!
See you Thursday!
*Update: Jonathan very generously extended the coupon code to fans of kidlitart who might have missed the chat on Thursday. You will find the code at the end of the Q&A distilled from the transcript (posted Friday, September 10). The coupon is still valid only through Sunday, September 12!
Update #2: The service used by zero2illo for purchasing the 12 week challenge kit has been experiencing problems. Jonathan sends his apologies, and has extended the coupon expiration to Wednesday, September 15.
Friday, September 3, 2010
Suggestions for generating a contact list:
Faculty lists for conferences. Ex: list of ADs attending SCBWI Bologna 2010
Member listings at the Children's Book Council site
SCBWI market lists (available for download to members only at http://www.scbwi.org/)
Children's Writer's & Illustrator's Market; new edition published annually
Harold Underdown's Who's Moving Where? page at The Purple Crayon
Interviews on sites such as IllustrationMundo
Browse the publishers' list at JacketFlap
Compile your own database from items in PW's Children's Bookshelf (free online newsletter) and Publisher's Marketplace (online subscription news service)
Networking! Make use of contacts you meet at conferences and on the internet.
Always, always double-check any listing with the publisher's web site before contacting them.
Focus on targeting the "right" ADS, rather than using a shotgun approach.
Postcards are still the preferred form of contact--4" x 6" is standard. Include a link to your web site or online portfolio.
Chatters suggest using an Excel spreadsheet to maintain your list and keep track of mailings and submissions.
Samples of recent mailings shared by chat participants:
@NVCrittenden: http://www.ninacrittenden.com/ (Splash page image)
@KatGirl_Studio: front & http://www.katgirlstudio.com/4x6_postcard_3-15-2010_back.jpg
@DiandraMae shared this link of another illustrator's promo retrospective:
Full transcript below:
Friday, August 27, 2010
This chat evolved into one of those community-building conversations Twitter does best: a group of people with a common interest sharing opinions and experiences.
There was no way to extract one or two comments that would sum up, so here's a sampling:
@melindabeavers: "As a freelancer—I don't think anyone cares [if you have an art degree]. They judge by your portfolio and your professionalism.
@angelamatteson: "[I'm] always grateful for college, but learning never stops."
@DiandraMae: "It seems the only way to learn the business is to try to be IN it."
@JohansenNewman: "Art school does not teach you tenacity. But it may begin to toughen your skin if it's too thin."
@WendyMartinArt: "I think traditional draftsmanship is a lost art."
@johnlechner: "Another thing art school can't teach you: how to discover your style. That sometimes takes a lifetime."
@JannieHo: "I had a great time in art school, so I would recommend it. Especially all the connections I've made."
@kellylight: "I'd do art school all over again! As my current self, though . . . not that namby-pamby I used to be."
@drawntobewild: "Art school is definitely wasted on the young!"
Full transcript below—enjoy!
Friday, August 20, 2010
Note: What follows is a condensed version of the chat, set up in Q&A format: text blocks in bold are questions and comments from various chat participants. Elizabeth's answers are in italics.
Before we start, here's a link to Elizabeth's app:
Would you like to tell us about how Lula came about?
Like so many, I thought the idea of a PB app was cool! Something about the whole app thing just screamed "Pay attention - this is gonna be big..." But most of my stories were tied up in rights. So I chose a dummy that had won some awards, but never got published. It was short, funny, the drawings were mostly done.
Only clincher, it was a Halloween theme and that was a month away! I got the finals done in two weeks. I was up very late for those two weeks, but it was fun, too. Since the art was so small (4x the iPhone screen size), it flew.
I went with a local developer and did the voice too since there wasn't any time to hire
somebody! (Btw, no eating Indian food or dairy before doing a voice recording. Learned that one the hard way…)
Rhodesoft (Reading Rhino) was my developer. Very smart people. :-)
How did you link up with RhodeSoft?
I was talking to a friend at the Decatur Book Festival about what I wanted to do and she told me about Toni [Rhodes].
Did you license it yourself?
It was actually easier with an unpublished story - no rights issues!
What is the size of the artwork?
Not very big. About 1024x768 pixels - which is the iPad's dimensions thank goodness. I didn't have to redo anything for that!
Did they tell you what size it needed to be to work?
I came up with the 4x thing. For iPad, dulemba: I'd probably work at least 2x. It's still MUCH smaller than normal for me.
Do you know of any vanity or P.O.D E book or App publishers?
I've started gathering resources. You can see at
How many "screen shots" for an average story--or is there an average?
My original dummy for Lula was a standard PB, so it stayed within that range.
How did you get in with the resellers?
Well, the reseller is Apple. And honestly, other than Toni requesting, I have no idea how Lula
ended up in their featured section.
Are you concerned about shrinking artists and writers royalties as we move closer to e books and apps?
I am VERY concerned about the "standards" being quoted for eBooks. I don't think it's right
What standards are you referring to?
Right now a lot of publishers are contacting their authors asking them to sign "Updated"
contracts promising 25% of eBook royalties.
The only difference between print and e books is the printed book. All the other
expenses are the same right?
Not sure exactly what you mean, but an eBook is quite different in that there's no
warehousing, overhead, etc.
Development and marketing . . .
Development and Marketing are still pretty different. There are some hiccups with eBooks. No
affiliate programs. No ISBN #s - it's hard to connect to them other than with a link to the app on iTunes. Not ideal from a marketing standpoint.
Do you think the same thing will happen to lit as with music: digital is easy to copy/share = less sales?
No, I think lit is more like the movie industry than music. Videos didn't kill theatres - we just
have more options now.
Did you have any upfront costs? Other than your time/materials for art?
That's different with every developer. In the beginning it was an experiment and some were willing to split royalties. Now I think more are charging for the set-up and upload to Apple. So, for me, no upfront cost - just a lot of labor.
So distribution awareness is kind of a problem...
Distribution awareness is THE BIGGEST PROBLEM with apps. It is SO Hard to be found!!! If you aren't featured in the app store, it's very hard for anyone to find your product.
Are you working on other apps?
I'm currently trying to get my rights back on one of my earlier PBs that's just recently gone
OP. It would do well as an app.
What do you think the future of libraries and school visits is with so many ebooks
I think our world will look very different 5 yrs from now, but I think/hope libraries will be a part of that. The need for libraries is still too strong. Tech stuff isn't for everybody.
Maybe they will have digital libraries in the future, like netflicks for video rental stores.
I think libraries are starting to put together something like that.
School visits really rely on having that tangible, large amazing book to connect with the kids.
Apps are difficult in crowds, although with projectors, they could do well.
Will you promote your apps or ebooks as you would hard copy books?
Promoting apps is more online obviously. But a bit easier in person with the iPad. Showing
an app on an iPhone was like..."Isn't that nice..." Doesn't work well with a crowd!
Wondering if anyone knows a good program to use to create an app?
Adobe has a walk through for InDesign, but that's for an eBook rather than an App.
Any plans to publish Lula's Brew traditionally (print)?
I'd love to pub LULA traditionally! My agent and I are waiting for the app sales #s to get high
enough to knock their socks off.
I love turning real pages but I'm also excited about the interactivity and animation part of it.
The interactivity is amazing. Jack and the Beanstalk kept me busy for an hour. And I'm an adult! (Sort of.) I don't think print will go away. Although I do think paperbacks are truly threatened by eReaders. Makes sense really.
Computers didn't fry our little brains! If anything, I feel like they freed us up! You'll never talk me out of wanting the print book experience. But the apps are fun TOO. I really do think it's like movies. There are some I must see on the big screen, while othersare fine on cable... I DO think apps are an opportunity. And I'm a geek, so I'm very excited by the possibilities.Just don't take my books from me!
I wonder if pubs will start preferring illus who can do print and e? (if art isn't digital already)
I don't think there will be a difference in illustrators doing print vs. e. Although the digital skills
definitely help. It doesn't matter how the art starts out, just what it looks like on the device. So no brush orstylus debate...For books that is. The drawing programs on the iPad are a completely different story!!!
I haven't tried drawing programs on the iPhone yet.
I'd wait a little bit for a good drawing program. SketchPro is good, but the resolution is still low and we need a stylus!
Would love a stylus for the iPad, or it could work like a Cintiq?
That's what I keep hoping for!! I'm betting we'll have a true digital sketch pad in 2-3 years. Yay!
One issue in adapting existing books is screen size. You can't just shrink a picture book without losing clarity/readability. For better or worse, many books won't transfer easily to screen - they'll need new layout/typesetting.
Absolutely! There is adaptation that needs to happen. Room in the art for large text. I zoomed in on most of my images for LULA. The large shapes really do work well. Too much tiny text, itty bitty detailed illustrations... I don't think they work as well.
Sometimes shrinking art can tighten it up. But that doesn't mean that's the best way to present it. It depends on the style. Simple shapes colors would shrink okay; complex details, not so much.
Wouldn't you just scan the art into a file the same way?
You could scan the art like you would for anything. But it's still a different presentation that a book and should be designed.
*Comment from @RhodeSoft: One thing to keep in mind - Apple requires that your app can be viewed both horizontally & vertically.
When changing the orientation, do you just crop from the center out?
Yup - that sounds right.
We just ended up adding black space to the negative areas. Otherwise I would have had to redo the art.
What's legible and readable for a PB is very diff on a tiny screen.
Indeed. I went much larger on my text. I think it was about 18pts for the iPhone.
If all books become e-books they will all have to fit into whatever the device's size is.
It's a good point. Although that's unique to kids books. There are some pretty common standards for adult books.
I think kids will be much more comfortable w/ digital devices than we are & may not be as attached to traditional print.
My 3 and 5-year-old cousins go right past my PB collection and to my iPad these days. They
are really good on it.
What do you think of simple ebooks or pdf's? Do you think creators should stick to more interactive apps?
I think a simple PB presentation works VERY WELL on the iPad. And I've seen kids go for both.
What are benefits of app over ebook?
ePub and Apps are completely different. They don't have the same functionality. So, they
really can't be handled the same way.
I do love technology, I think there's lots of room for both!
I agree - I think there's room for both too. The question is, is there enough income to support both.
I think the $ factor is what's concerning everyone. Where will it stop will determine who's willing to play w/it. I think the worry is that as the price drops, so will the $ to the content creators. Less royalties?
Yes, they're less expensive, but they also can potentially sell in higher numbers. Potentially.
If they can be found. The $$$ thing is a concern, but it's really the same issues as in print. How to be found. How to go viral. the potential is more of the royalty going to the creator - so it could balance out. Cheaper app, but more %.
Kind of like the .99 iTunes?
Yes, exactly like iTunes. Cut out the middle men and more of the profits go to the creators. I hope publishers find a way to adapt to this new tech and still support creators in a fair way.
They have much to contribute.
Bands can actually bypass record companies and offer music free, they're more in control.
But again - how to get found. There are lots of bands figuring it out. We will too. it would be nice if we could avoid the mistakes of other industries. I think it takes smarts, flexibility and... the willingness to JUMP!
When bands do that, more of a connection to fans, more shows, $$ in long run? Could authors/illustrators be the same way?
I think it's already happening. That's why an author's platform has become so important.
It's a brave new world... for the brave. What an interesting time to be a creative.
APP DEVELOPERS ON TWITTER
(Please feel free to add to this list in the comments section.)
Full transcript below:
Friday, August 13, 2010
BOOKS & LINKS RECOMMENDED:
Perspective for Comic Book Artists: How to Achieve a Professional Look in Your Artwork, by David Chelsea
Perspective, by William F. Powell
Perspective Drawing Handbook, by Joseph D'Amelio
Creative Layout: Perspective for Artists, by Thomas Denmark and Leandro Ng Budiono
Prepare to Board! Creating Story and Characters for Animated Features and Shorts, by Nancy Beiman
Drawing People: How to Portray the Clothed Figure, by Barbara Bradley
Figure Drawing For All It's Worth, by Andrew Loomis
People and Poses, by Buddy Scalera
Figure Drawing Without a Model, by Ron Tiner
Creating Characters with Personality: For Film, TV, Animation, Video games and Graphic Novels, by Tom Bancroft
The Illusion of Life: Disney Animation, by Ollie Johnston and Frank Thomas
How to Draw Animals, by Jack Hamm
Drawn to Life: 20 Golden Years of Disney Master Classes: The Walt Stanchfield Lectures Volumes 1 & 2, by Walt Stanchfield and Don Hahn
Dynamic Figure Drawing, by Burne Hogarth
Anatomy books by George Bridgman
Creative Illustration, by Andrew Loomis
How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way, by Stan Lee and John Buscema
Paint Watercolors That Dance With Light, by Elizabeth Kincaid
Photoshop 7 for Dummies (newer editions available for later editions of Photoshop)
Children's Writer's and Illustrator's Market, 2011 edition now available
Lynda.com (software training online)
PICTURE BOOK ILLUSTRATION/WRITING/STORYTELLING WITH ART
Writing with Pictures: How to Write and Illustrate Children's Books, by Uri Shulevitz
Understanding Comics; Making Comics; Reinventing Comics; series by Scott McCloud
Children's Book Illustration: Step by Step Techniques: A Unique Guide from the Masters, by Jill Bossert
Illustrating Children's Books: Creating Pictures for Publication, by Martin Salisbury
Picture This: How Pictures Work, by Molly Bang
How to Animate Film Cartoons, by Preston Blair
Writing and Illustrating Children's Books for Publication: Two Perspectives, by Berthe Amoss and Eric Suben
Writing Picture Books: A Hands-On Guide from Story Creation to Publication, by Ann Whitford Paul
The Making of Lost and Found by Oliver Jeffers (video)
WORKS OF OTHER ARTISTS
Taschen Books (publisher)
The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles, by Steven Pressfield
Dear Genius: The Letters of Ursula Nordstrom, ed. by Leonard S. Marcus
The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It For Life, by Twyla Tharp
Art & Fear: Observations on the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking, by David Bayles and Ted Orland
Suggestions for Improving as an Artist, by John Clapp (text of class handout)
Full transcript below:
Friday, August 6, 2010
Spec art is marginally acceptable, and only in special cases:
for a beginning artist, to build a portfolio
character sketches requested from a publisher (never finished art)
Clients will judge your worth by what you charge; clients who get work for nothing don't appreciate the value, and are never satisfied
Licensing is a different case: works differently from publishing in that the product is created first, then sold--so spec work may be the norm.
Red flags to look for when approached by client: "good exposure" and "potentially lucrative"
Crowd-sourcing: a unanimous "no"
Contests in general must be scrutinized carefully; only respond to trusted organizers, such as HOW and Print
WFH: not always bad. Educational publishers work this way; also, art for book covers is usually WFH; there's a difference between WFH and flat fee (artist may not retain copyright under a WFH contract)
Stock illustrations: may or may not offer royalty
Pro bono work is a plus--but be careful of assuming all nonprofits make good clients.
Causes with a good track record for illustrators:
The Totoro Forest Project
Alternatives to spec work for artists just starting out:
Personal web site
Holly DeWolf's Breaking into Freelance Illustration
Graphic Artists Guild Handbook: Pricing and Ethical Guidelines
Comment about PEG: fees listed are slightly higher than the average illustrator can command--perhaps because only most successful artists are willing to share fee history
Tweet(s) of the night:
This topic brought out the the pithy:
@vvjonez: If I don't want to get paid, I might as well work on my own stuff.
and the funny:
@WendyMartinArt: You can die from exposure.
@DiandraMae: I always feel like they're offering a flesh-eating virus to me when they say "you'll get great exposure!"
@WendyMartinArt: In fact, if I expose too much I can be arrested.
@NVCrittenden: Spec art is only okay when your client is an optometrist!
Full transcript below:
Friday, July 30, 2010
TOPIC: What are your best tips for single-image story-telling?
Make the world within the image look like it extends beyond the frame of the picture. Like you could walk into it. @KatGirl_Studio
Have two characters interacting, if possible--looking at each other. @BonnieAdamson
Action and dramatic lighting are always a big help. @KatGirl_Studio
Setting needs to have all the paraphernalia for a good story: props. @BonnieAdamson
Make the image narrative a potential-what-if cliffhanger--to segue into the next. @eimhinart
Dynamic poses vs. static make for a far more interesting image. @ElisabethJBell
Think of the setting as a supporting character. @WendyMartinArt
Show diversity, lots of different people. @andibutler
Colours, whether vibrant or a minimal palette, can move an image forward. @ElisabethJBell
There has to be implied action--either something has just happened, or is about to. @BonnieAdamson
Think in comic book terms--dynamic pose, interesting perspective, etc. @vvjonez
Interesting characters are a must! @NVCrittenden
Thinking how a child thinks and putting that into the illustration can make a more appealing and communicative image. @ElisabethJBell
Add detail, but with a focus--not just for its own sake. @BonnieAdamson
Include simultaneous actions in the background, as well. @andibutler
Too much detail can be almost as bad as not enough--you have to direct the eye. @vvjonez
The image should be in the middle of a story, so the viewer can imagine what happens and what will happen. @WendyMartinArt
Dramatic perspective, colors and characters. Plus lots of action or humorous tension. @CERodriguez
As a reader, I want to feel myself drawn in, as if I were the main character. I want info, some details, lots of color. I want to be led to the next scene while wondering what has happened thus far.@peg366
Pick a scene with some emotion to draw the viewer in--happy, sad, etc. @johnlechner
Adding movement in character poses makes an image more interesting. Drives the imagination forward. @ElisabethJBell
TOPIC MORPH: How to choose a single image for promotional mailings.
The best piece is the one you love to create. @andibutler
An image that shows you at your best will make your postcard shine! @NVCrittenden
Storytelling is key for kidlit. Too involved an image doesn't work for greetings. @andibutler
Try postcards as teasers to drive the viewer to the web site "where the real magic is." @andibutler
Thoughts from one AD (Victoria Jamieson)on what makes a compelling promo postcard:
Make sure your image fits you as a creative, represents who you are. It will show. @ElisabethJBell
What you show is what you'll get hired to do. @andibutler
[If you have multiple styles] I've seen it recommended that a different persona be created for each style (site, name, etc.)--at minimum, multiple portfolios. @DiandraMae
Research the publications of those you're submitting to. @joystewy
Eternal debate: ADs say have one recognizable style. Illustrators always say ignore that! @RedStepchild
Make sure multiple styles fit the same publishers. @DiandraMae
Choose a style that you like that you think would be a good fit for the AD. Check out their sites. See what they like. @ElisabethJBell
Work in the style [you're] good at and happy with--not what [you] think an AD wants. Otherwise [you're] an unhappy creative! @andibutler
You don't want to confuse ADs with too many styles. Pick one as your lead, to get them interested. @johnlechner
That's the struggle: doing what feels true to you vs. what you think ADs want to see. @DiandraMae
Your style, that is you, can be a good fit somewhere. You need to find it. Not be a sqaure peg in a round hole. @andibutler
Ironically, often your strongest work comes when you're not worrying about selling yourself. @johnlechner
You can't worry about the opinion of others . . . @reneekurilla
It's less about confusion, more about [ADs] knowing what to expect in finished art once they hire you. @donnadoesdoodle
Never present something you wouldn't actually want to do. @joystewy
It basically comes down to, would you buy what you are selling? @andibutler
At a recent conference, an AD said she wanted to see: 1) that you can draw: hands, feet, children, interesting perspective; 2) put together a consistent package. Your logo, contact information should be consistent from mailing to mailing. @vvjonez
. . . and that you can show emotion and storytelling. @joystewy
Since the internet, it's harder for a single-image postcard to make an impact. @johnlechner
I've heard arguments for both. Sometimes there is just too much email, so postcards might make a faster impact. @TracyBishopArt
The internet has helped with exposure, but there can be too much of a good thing. It's easier to be fresh in an AD's mind with a postcard hanging on the wall vs. an email in an inbox. @DiandraMae
Many ADs will hold cards they love for years till they can find the "right" project for an artist. @donnadoesdoodle
. . . one more reason to be proactive and go for work in multiple venues. @DiandraMae
Postcards can be a nice change, but ADs are inundated with images online, so it's more competitive. @johnlechner
Postcards are just one more tool, along with websites, blogs, email marketing, etc. The trick is to know when to use your various marketing tools and tailoring it to your recipient. @TracyBishopArt
Heard at every conference: ADs love postcards. @donnadoesdoodle
It pays to do research. Takes time but it pays off. @TracyBishopArt
Reinventing [yourself] is important, too. What worked five years ago doesn't compete today. @andibutler
The internet can have both good and bad effects on developing personal style. You have access to so many brilliant artists 24/7, it can make you feel a little insignificant. @reneekurilla
It is great to see what other artists do, but hard not to compare. @NVCrittenden
It's not always about brilliance--books and licensing are businesses. [There are] fabulous artists that can't meet a deadline. @andibutler
Being professional and pleasant to work with makes all the difference. It's scary for an art director when they first work with a new illustrator, too. Gotta remember that. @TracyBishopArt
Tweet of the night:
@andibutler: "We can do what we set our minds to. Be confident. Try different strategies--go back to an old-school one. The only boundaries are what we set."
Full transcript below: