Illustration news 28 February 2016

When we invest or sponsor a project, we always like to know when, where and how our money is being spent.

As Digital Arts Online explains, one such project allows its donors to literally see how their investment is being put to good use. If only all projects demonstrated such transparency.... 

 http://mobile.digitalartsonline.co.uk/news/motion-graphics/studio-akas-animated-film-gets-better-more-you-donate-charity/

A clever idea, and especially so, because you do not even have to invest very much on the project. A good return on investment, no?

How a curator helped me create a successful market stall.

Have you ever wondered if your presentation skills at market stalls were good? I always thought my layout was enticing to the eye, until one day I met a curator who was at a market stall.

I am not sure if you are aware, but some arts market stalls use curators to oversee market stalls and bring artists retail success.

Curators take responsibility for the presentation of your stall. In other words, your artwork has to reflect their brand.

So when one of them offers to help you, it is a good idea to accept their counsel.

It isn’t enough to come prepared with inventory and credit card readers. Sometimes it is in your favour to accept the help from other professionals who have more experience in the field of curatorship.

I have been rejected from excellent art markets with good reputations in the past because my artwork did not reflect their brand.

The standard of my work had no bearing on any decision not to grant me a market stall. Their letter said I simply did not reflect their brand.

Whatever that meant at the time, (most certainly, it was disappointing) I was not sure how they came to their conclusion. The best thing to do, was not to worry about it and get back on the saddle, so to speak.

Meeting a curator at an art market did help me. I accepted her counsel and watched her tidy my pile of cards so they looked neat.

Soon after, when customers were looking at my stall, they started buying my cards.

Maybe they bought them for my humour, but it was probably the presentation wot dunnit.

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Me with Sales Consultant, Kate. 

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Making a big success of your art market on steroids.

 

When you are hosting art markets, as I do, it always pays to have vast inventory. Always do an inventory check in the run-up to your art markets. If you are low in inventory, you need to address that shortfall. This may take the form of time-out to either design some cards or renew your orders with a distributor.

Customers buy seasonal items that you have made. It is a good idea to have some in your stock. For example, if you have Valentine cards for sale, try and make them as early as October. Then you will certainly be ready for your fairs. Having ready-made stock helps you in your social media campaigns. Who knows what this leads to?

I create my Christmas cards in July, so they will always be ready by September. Then I can create my social media campaign in October to get some sales going. It is important to be on top of things because you are competing with other artists who create some amazing cards.

Did you know that the Christmas adverts for television, which are broadcast over the Christmas period are actually made in June-July? Yes, it’s true. And I heard a few weeks ago that the Later With Jools Holland, broadcast on New Year’s Eve, is also produced back in July, and edited for broadcast as late as November. It’s all in the preparation.

This is a big one here. Always make sure your credit card readers are able to take payments. Many artists selling their wares have lost sales because their credit card readers wouldn’t function properly. What is going wrong? It’s nothing to do with the broadband or your phone’s 4G. It’s all in the software updates. If your card reader’s software hasn’t been updated, this can cause problems. Then again, your phone’s software also has to be updated. Do these two things and you are safe.

I like to give customers other methods of making payments. For example, if they do not want to use a credit card reader, I suppose you could direct them to the nearest cashpoint. But mid-way, they may change their mind and never return. On my iPhone I have PayPal for anyone who wants to use it. I suppose it couldn’t hurt to use another online payment app. Flexible friend, anyone?

When a customer buys a card or two from you, always ask them if they would like a paper bag. This sort of thing sounds much more professional. And always give them your business card. Giving them your contact details can’t hurt. Who knows...you may pick up more sales later. Maybe a commission? It’s the little things that matter, so always be ready and be professional whenever you have an art market.

Why is screenprinting so hard?

Why is screenprinting so hard? It isn't hard in the sense that it is a difficult medium to learn. Screenprinting can be physically demanding once you learn the basics:

1. Always have half a cup of black acrylic paint and an equal half measure of acrylic printing medium.

2. Stir with a spoon until it has a nice runny texture. 

3. Now you are ready to print onto your watercolour paper, make sure the follow-through with the squeegee begins at the shoulders, not your wrists or hands. 

So, back to the question: why is screenprinting so hard? I refer to stamina. I think that if you print seventy-five pictures, that's a test of  your stamina. At that stage, you should perhaps take a break and return to the job in hand.

Or maybe I have little stamina? Now we'll never know.... 

 

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How I learnt to make my own Christmas cards.

A few weeks ago (August 2016), I sat down to draw my designs for Christmas cards. I like creating and branding my own Christmas cards for an October launch. I visited my local printmaking studio to book some screenprinting sessions--a mix of tuition from an experienced printmaker, and screenprinting cards.

Before going ahead, my tutor, Anna Alcock gave me a list of items to buy for screenprinting.

1. Black acrylic paint. 

2. Acetate. 

3. Masking tape

4. Watercolour paper

I went and bought the items from a wholesale art shop, Cass Art, who have several stores in Central London. 

I should point out none of the items on the list (except masking tape) are cheap.

Now I was set to start screenprinting. But first, Anna gave me a quick lesson, especially in holding the squeegee (which spreads the equal mix of half a cup of acrylic and acetate onto the polyester screen). Like holding a butter knife was how she described it. 

So, with that advice I more or less took to screenprinting like a duckling to water. Soon after a few prints, my cards were looking impressive. I loved the stark autonomy of black line. 

And over three days, I printed 200 cards (correct number) . All that remains is the branding and packaging for the October launch.

Thank you, Anna for your help and tuition. I learnt a lot more than I thought. Most importantly, I enjoyed myself. 

 

 

Five reasons why participating in Art Markets is good for your business.

"A satisfied customer is the best business strategy." (Michael LeBoeuf, American Businessman). 

And so, last night at my local café, Wynwood Art District, which sits at 2a Chingford Road, Walthamstow, London, E17 4PJ, hosted an Artists and Makers' Market. The event offered an opportunity for artists and local brewers to sell their goods to customers.

My girlfriend organised and co-ordinated the event. It goes without saying that I am very grateful for her hard work. I am also thankful to Wynwood Art District, who do not take a commission from artists, or charge for a table.

For me and other artists, the event was great from a business point of view. So what are the five reasons why you should take part in opportunities like these? 

1. Marketing and exposure: getting out there and meeting your customers face-to-face is very good for your business. Not only does it give you a legitimate reason to tweet and invite people, they may also tweet how happy they are that they bought something from you. 

2. You can post pictures of your stall. Tell the world what you are selling and they will come. Here are some pictures of my stall, which I tweeted (and got retweeted): 

 

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3. It's a great opportunity to catch up with old artist friends. 

4. If you have inventory at home, you might as well sell it. It's no good saving it for that special market which isn't due for a few weeks...seize every opportunity you have, to take part in a market. 

5. You have a reason to distribute those 5000 business cards. Who knows? You may meet influential people who like your work, and want to take your business card. 

 

I presented mine on a mini-easel. 

I presented mine on a mini-easel. 

What are your Craft Fairs like? 

Five factors to consider when you have to pitch an idea to an audience.

Public speaking doesn't come naturally to some people, especially when they have to speak in front of one hundred people. 

Two months ago, this was something I had to do, when I had to pitch my idea to the hundred or so people who turned up to hear the pitches for the Walthamstow Garden Party. 

The idea was that the winning pitch would win the opportunity to host a workshop that would benefit the Walthamstow public.

After the pitches, the audience would vote for what they thought was the best pitch. As I secured 73% of the vote, I was quite astonished I had won. 

Now, I want to outline five reasons why I think my pitch was successful.

1. Do a lot of reading about pitching ideas and make notes, so common themes will stick in your head. 

2. When you pitch an idea, you have to assume your audience doubts your idea, and doubts you as you give your presentation. So sell the benefits of the pitch, so the audience has a product they can use without any training or difficulty. 

3. When you speak, look at everyone around you, and acknowledge their presence. This might be a daunting experience, but you must remember that people have turned up to hear you. 

4. If people are uncertain about your benefits, use social proof to show that your product has been a hit with other people, so why shouldn't it be a hit with them?  Make them laugh and you are half-way to a winning pitch.

5. Finish your pitch with a question and answer session: taking questions from the floor will make you appear professional. This gives an impression you are approachable and genuinely want your product to work for the audience. 

What works for you when you pitch an idea? 

 

 

What is your creative zone?

A creative zone is the psychological state where a person functions at their most creative and has an artist's mindset.  At the other end of the spectrum, exists the comfort zone, which is where a person experiences minimal anxiety and stress. It is a nice place to be, but you need to remember that, in the absence of creativity, you do not have art. Thus, you need to find a time during the day when you are at your most creative in order to develop as an artist.

"A ship in a harbour is safe, but that's not what a ship is built for."

                             Unknown

Chef (brush pen and watercolour, 2016). 

Chef (brush pen and watercolour, 2016). 

Every morning we wake up to distractions. For example, email, text messages, Facebook, online games, telephone calls, the pet cat etc.  

It's very tempting to succumb to the menace of social media, which demands our attention...we need to fight the need to connect with people each morning. 

"If what you are doing is not moving you towards your goals, then it's moving you away from your goals." 

                           Brian Tracy

Motivational Speaker and Author. 

This business of chatting endlessly to friends or strangers, just to see if they 'like' the work we posted online is a harmful one. The desire to be 'liked' is dangerous because it eats up a lot of your time. 

So what's the answer? Maybe we should work at an anti-social hour when no-one is about. Then maybe we will have created something. 

What's your creative zone like? 

Three reasons primary colours can help your work.

As an illustrator, I think it is important to use bright colours in your work, so I always spend a lot of money on brush pens of various colours.

There are three reasons for that:

1. Using primary colours gives your work an edge. 

2. If your work is cartoon-like or suited for children's books, bright colours are the way to go, and are sure to impress future clients when they look at your work.

3. Red, green, blue, yellow, pink and amber can present your character in a positive light, compared to grey brown or black. Dark colours dim the picture. 

Copywriter at work (commission for blogger). 

Copywriter at work (commission for blogger). 

So, next time you are drawing, make sure you invest in some quality brush pens, and soon enough you'll have created some masterpieces.

Obituary: Jack Davis, Cartoonist (December 2 1924-July 27 2016).

News reaches me that one of history's greatest cartoonists, Jack Davis, who drew for MAD Magazine and Tales from the Crypt, has died aged 91.

Mr Davis was a huge inspiration on my work, and his flawless takes on celebrities and pop culture, made me want to become a cartoonist. Any fan of MAD Magazine will tell you that his work gave them that added gravitas when it was a rising comic in the 1950s.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-36912468

 

My Cartoon Workshop 16-17 July 2016.

Pop Quiz: Have I had a successful July as a Freelance Illustrator? My answer is probably, 'yes'.

How did it begin? Well, I submitted an application to the Barbican-sponsored 'Ideas Kitchen' to win an opportunity to host an initiative at the Walthamstow Garden Party on 16-17 July.

I was shortlisted to pitch my idea in front of 100 or so people at my local community centre.  I pitched and won 73% of the vote.

Sure enough, I had won the opportunity to give a Cartoon Workshop at the Walthamstow Garden Party on 16/17 August. I designed step-by-step templates of cats and dogs, so participants (children and adults) who visited my tent could learn how to cartoon cats and dogs.

It was a very popular workshop, and I enjoyed it very much. I was helped by four volunteers Amanda, Dave, Jane and Kate--I am very grateful that they were able to give up their time to help me.

Without them, the Cartoon Workshop wouldn't have run as smoothly, so thank you, guys!!  

 

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Property Boars Exhibition 3 June-8 July 2016.

Property Boars looks at how high rents over the last year have impacted on tenants who rent across London. The exhibition also lampoons the the immoral conduct of wealthy landlords and estate agents who have been helped by bad housing policies.

Unless you are helped by the Bank of Mum and Dad, your chances of making the property ladder are zilch.

So, how hard is renting now in your Borough? Come and see how bad the housing crisis is at the Property Boars Exhibition.

Property Boars runs at Froth and Rind, 37 Orford Road, E17 9NL, until 8 July 2016.

 

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Please check out my Facebook page, which has been set up to promote Property Boars. You can find it at facebook.com/propertyboars/