Cover Announcement – Prickle Moon

I am an enthusiastic fan of science fiction / fantasy literature. Always have been. My sprawling collection of books threatens to take over all of our bookshelves and other genres at a moment’s notice, and I like it that way.

Earlier this year, I got an email message about the possibility of illustrating a cover with spiritual elements and a totemic hedgehog for an upcoming short story anthology from one Juliet Marillier, for Ticonderoga Publications. I remember thinking ‘wait, is this happening?’ In my sprawling collection were some of Juliet’s books, which I have enjoyed and devoured late at night, turning pages by lamplight with cats snoozing next to me. I also remember thinking, as I read the email, ‘it’s probably a good thing I’m already lying down.’ Heh.

I love collaborating with creative people, it’s one of my favourite things to do, so I thought I would share with you some of the process, from conceptualising the cover, all the way through to this week’s announcement of the official cover.

As well as a personally done colour sample, and individual sketches of hedgehogs for the delightfully named Prickle Moon, I did a few cover roughs, but the one we eventually agreed on, was one I developed in front of Juliet, discussing everything from colour, to tree symbolism, to placement and so on.

From there, I developed an official sketch showing all the compositional elements for a full-wrap cover.

And then, the process of inking. I decided to go with a more thorough style than what I normally use, to create a good sense of depth and texture. This part of the process took the longest, so I tied myself over by sending the occasional work in progress photo to Juliet and Russell. As you can see from the next photo, I was building up a lot of form with a technique known as stippling, or as we artists sometimes think of it: ‘oh god, my wrists.’ (Though I think it’s worth it!)

That said, I love stippling, because as time goes by, this incredible effect happens with the building up of simple dots. I was primarily using Artline Drawing System pens in the 0.1 size.

Which eventually lead to more detail:

And an ink illustration ready for colouring.

After inking, there is the process of overlaying colour to create a sense of depth. Juliet selected the colour scheme – a violet/purple monochrome palette and the effect of moonlight – and it was so much fun to work with. I have always been a fan of monochromatic palettes since they create unity and flow. Not only that, but it was also tremendous to work with the energy of hedgehog, and feel what it must be like to see the world from a perspective of toadstools and grass, where everything works on a different level than it does to us.

And now, I am so excited to show you the cover art for Juliet Marillier’s short story anthology, Prickle Moon, which will be launched officially early next year.

It’s been so much fun working in this way, and to have this opportunity. I’d like to say my thanks again to the awesome Russell and Juliet for the privilege. Let’s face it, what illustrator of narrative art doesn’t wish to see their artwork on a book cover one day. Not only that, but for a wonderful author, and publishing house, and a wonderful subject? Meanwhile, I shall be secretly (okay, not secretly at all!) thrilled to have another book to add to my sprawling collection of science fiction and fantasy books.

Romantic Minis – Part II

Here’s the last batch of the Romantic Minis, all available at Etsy. 😀

White RatsAVAILABLE AT ETSY

Silver Polar BearsAVAILABLE AT ETSY

Copper ViscachaAVAILABLE AT ETSY

Honestly, is there anything cooler than viscacha, the rodents that look like rabbits? They are almost too adorable to bear.

Violet RavensAVAILABLE AT ETSY

These guys are subtle, and gently iridescent. They’ve been living with me in my personal connection for some time, but I have decided to let them go.

Romantic Minis – Part I

Sometimes you just need a break from it all. And at times like that, I either take a break from the artwork completely, or I go to a completely soothing, twee theme which always makes me feel like snuggling up to my animal companions or a good friend. That’s the Romantic Minis series.

So! For my latest holiday, I illustrated six new romantic minis, as well as listing an older romantic mini that I thought I’d lost track of! Here are the first three!

Bronze FoxhoundsAVAILABLE AT ETSY

Blue FoxesAVAILABLE AT ETSY

Gold-Red PeacocksAVAILABLE AT ETSY

Arting, arting, arting, rawhiiiiide.

Boy, things have been busy lately!

Firstly, check out this awesome interview by Le Animale, with yours truly, over at her blog! In it, I talk mostly about my spiritual connection to illustrating totems, and why I draw the totems I do!

In the meantime, since announcing that I am able to work with cat energy, a ton of cats have come marching on by. Domestic cats. Wild cats. Er…okay well that’s about it. But still, I’ve drawn a lot of cats lately.

Here’s a bunch of commissions I’m working on. All exciting projects!

Russian Trotter

Russian Trotter / commission, by Pia Ravenari 2012

Melanistic Jaguar

Melanistic Jaguar / commission, by Pia Ravenari 2012

Cheetah

Cheetah as Totem / commission, by Pia Ravenari 2012

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Have some art stats:

Current number of pieces I have to colour: 8
Are any of these a secret project?: One of them is!
What keeps me company during the artwork process?: Currently, Law & Order: SVU
How much chocolate do I consume during arting?: Entirely too much.
Seen any good films lately?: Yes! Wolf Children, or The Wolf Children Ame and Yuki. Cute! It’s a feature length anime, with glorious (Miyazaki level) animation, and a cute, powerful and at times tragic story. Just incredible. I’d recommend it to anyone who loves animals / who believes they are an animal-person, people connected to wolves and people who love sumptuous animation.

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Also, stay tuned for some new Romantic Minis (although they are the current romantic minis, only two left! These go quickly. Even the romantic spiders went!) I’ve got six of these little babies planned. You can look forward to Foxhounds, Foxes, Peacocks, Polar Bears, Rats and maybe some Vizcacha!

Sneak Peek of upcoming collaboration between myself and Le Animale!

Le Animale and I have been working on a collaboration over the past few months.

She has been sculpting 10 totems amongst all her other works, and then they have flown over to Western Australia where I have painted them in my own style.

Additional, separate illustrations with a more complex style, all featuring landscape elements, will be going on sale to commemorate this project within my own Etsy store.
Each totem will come with a laminated collector’s card, which features a print of the illustration, as well as a paragraph of meaning about the totem, written by myself.

Although not officially launched yet, we are taking pre-orders of the sculptures. I have been so tempted to keep all some of these for myself!

Pre-painting – From left to right (the ones crossed out are the ones already ordered) Gentoo Penguin, Red Kangaroo, Komodo Dragon, Meerkat, Amur Leopard, Dugong, Dodo, Giant Oceanic Manta Ray, Harpy Eagle and Ocelot.

This is a limited edition collaboration that will happen approximately every six months or so. In the interim we shall be working on our own projects, and not offering customs (it’s unfeasible with postage – they are jetsetting totems, created in the N. Hemisphere and painted in the S. Hemisphere!)

Hoping to officially launch in October!

If you have any questions, want to see some of the illustrations or some photos of painted sculptures between now and launch for the purpose of pre-order, feel free to email me at ophelias.diary@gmail.com 😀

Merry Christmas and happy holidays from Ravenari and Startail! :)

I did this up today. Just then! I scanned it while it was still wet! I never learn. Lol. Here’s hoping there’s some more Startail love in the future. 😀

startail christmas 2011 - by Ravenari

Happy holidays for those who celebrate, may 2012 be all that you desire and more.

Paperblanks + Interview = awesomeness. :)

Hi folks!

A while ago, I found Paperblanks journals. Belatedly, I might add, but I found them and I was excited and now I have TOO MANY and simultaneously NOT ENOUGH and you know how it is when you like to journal and sketch on things, you want all the things, basically.

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I tweeted something to this effect, and Paperblanks tweeted back, and then magically and wonderfully I am now featured in an interview on their Featured Artist’s section of their blog:

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Here’s the interview in all it’s awesomeness!

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Check it out, and enjoy the wonderful journals while you’re there too. 🙂 It was a great interview, and you might find out some things about me you didn’t know!

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And because I haven’t done this in a while: Did you know there are other places to keep up with what’s happening with Ravenari? 🙂

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Ravenari @ Facebook.

Ravenari @ DeviantArt

Ravenari’s Totem Animal Dictionary

ETSY (Originals only)

My Twitter @ Ravenari:

Ravenari’s Portfolio

Full moons and Tumblr!

I’ve been getting distracted by Tumblr lately. I have two. One for art, and one for general awesomeness:

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ART TUMBLR
MY AWESOME SPACE TUMBLR

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Perth had a wonderful view of the full moon lunar eclipse the other day. I got some photos with my camera and its kit zoom lens (and no tripod). There are better photos around, but I was still pretty proud of this one:

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Full Moon lunar eclipse by Ravenari

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How are you all going? I should have some more totem files, AND illustrations coming soon!

I’ve been framed!

Two frames arrived today from Frameshop.com.au. I’ve had hit and miss success with them; I’ve had two frames arrive broken in the past, but their prices are also very competitive, and so with trepidation, I decided to invest in another two frames for two Wandsuna illustrations. And they are beautiful; arrived safely and everything.

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Wandsuna – Foxes Don’t Cry was the first non-pastel Wandsuna work that I illustrated, and I was kind of hooked on the ink -> watercolour pencil -> pencil -> acrylic -> etc. format and knew I’d have to revisit it. I love this illustration. So many foxes! So much red! Foxes! Red! And basically all my sophisticated thoughts drift off from there.

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Wandsuna - Foxes Don't Cry by Ravenari

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Wandsuna – Remember? is probably one of the most personal illustrations I’ve ever done, though the symbology for Wandsuna is quite complex, I still found it impacted people in personal ways as they watched the progress on Dreamwidth. The interpretation of the image by others was perhaps – is still, perhaps – my favourite part of putting a piece of artwork out into the world. It’s because of this that I still maintain a great reluctance to explicate the themes and symbols of the Wandsuna illustrations.

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I feel the artwork should be able to speak for itself; and I feel the dream-like nature of the Wandsuna series reminds us all that all artwork speaks first to unconscious processes, and then to consciousness.

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I’m happier than I thought I would be with this colour combination. The cream mattboard really brings out the cream/white costume, and that’s awesome.

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Wandsuna - Remember? by Ravenari

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I’ve been very much enjoying the wild, blustery Perth weather of the past 24 hours, and I hope it continues. FOREVER. Okay, but in all seriousness, I would not be upset if the rain continued FOREVER. Particularly if it remained blustery and there were overhead booms of thunder and flickers of lightning. I know storms can’t last, but one can live in hope! I imagine all the angry powerless flooded people will be knocking on my door soon with angry letters and glares.

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I’ve been living wild in the wondrous music of:

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Woodpigeon
Joe Hisaishi’s – Ni No Kuni soundtrack (NI NO KUNI! Is anyone else as excited about the English release of this video game for the PS3? Has anyone heard of it? You don’t know? OH MY GOD, MIYAZAKI AND STUDIO GHIBLI TEAMED UP TO MAKE A DS and PS3 FINAL FANTASY STYLE GAME BUT WITH THEIR STORYBOARDS AND MUSIC AND OH MY FREAKING GOD IT LOOKS AMAZING. The DS version has been getting great reviews so far.
Ludovico Einaudi
Robyn
And a bunch of other things.

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I’ve started a Master of Communications, to complement my Bachelor of Communications, and mostly because I’m a total suckah for punishment. It’s hard work, but it’s also a lot like revisiting my old friends. Oh media theorists, I’ve missed you. *pets Fiske and Hartley.*

My very eclectic, random advice on how to be a professional artist.

I’ve seen a few people writing articles like this lately, and I thought; ‘hey, I’m pulling more income in than the average professional artist in Australia, why not?’ (which is a sad reflection on the income of the average professional artist, and not so much a reflection of my riches and glory).

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Here’s what you should know about me before I start:

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1. I don’t have any tertiary qualifications in visual arts.

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2. I started this business as a way of working while I was on a Disability Support Pension. I can’t work fixed hours because of illness, but sometmes I am able to work a little bit, and because I can dictate my own hours, art is very flexible.

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3. My form of business does not include working in an office with other people, or interacting with people face to face (okay, maybe once or twice a year, when I exhibited at Swancon, and when I dropped off a picture to a client that one time).

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4. I am NOT a graphic designer. I don’t really want to be a graphic designer. And I don’t have the tools to do graphic design; so my income as an artist is based off…well…visual art. Traditional, two-dimensional visual art.

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5. I am pulling in a profit off my artwork but that doesn’t mean anyone should ever listen to me.

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Melanistic Persian Leopard by Ravenari

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1. Get some ledgers and some books and an ABN if you’re in Australia and things. – The ABN means you can claim back purchases for your art career back on tax. It also means that once you earn over a certain threshold in the art, you need to pay GST (Goods and Services Tax). For visual artists who are just starting out, the GST thing tends to live far, far off in a distant place known as ‘successful career as a professional artist.’ It’s important to log your sales, money owing, your costs, and keep your receipts at the very least. It also helps to do balance sheets to look at your profit/loss thingies once a month. It’s okay to call them thingies.

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2. Look at what you can do well, and then compare it with what’s available in the market. It’s important to be able to sell a product that – if not unique – is both important to you as an artist, allows your skills to show, and is something a client couldn’t easily get otherwise. – With the visual arts, this is a little easier, because you generally don’t duplicate paintings (unless of course you’re a 15th century Dutch painter, but… I’ll write another article for them).

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3. Price according to a magical formula that no one has worked out exactly yet, because there’s a LOT of things to keep in mind when pricing like: your experience, whether your product is popular, the price of comparable items, where you live, shipping costs, what sort of hourly income you expect to make vs. what people like to pay artists depending on which country you live in and even what suburb or subculture you reside in, the difference in dollar values, and about a bazillion other things. Some artists price by hours worked; I couldn’t do this at first (my inking style meant that – in the early days – just the inking process alone would take about 6 or 7 hours), so I charge by size. This works for other artists too. There’s some movement in that range, but I have established ‘starting prices’ per size that I offer, and usually adjust upwards each year because of inflation and because artwork naturally increases in value (if you’re doing it well).

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I also price my works in US dollars, because most of my clients are from the US. Because I use Paypal, I can also accept other currencies as necessary. I use xe.com to translate the dollars to offer different quotes. However, sometimes working in a different dollar value to where you live (I’m in Australia) can be a bit of a mess. Currently the US dollar is significantly weaker than the Australian, so I’m losing a bit of money. I’m still working on how to adjust for this. And it’s something you should keep in mind too.

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4. Do they pay for shipping? Or do you factor it into the overall cost? I factor it in. I’m unusual in doing this. I refuse to send artwork without insured or registered postage, and so I just decided a while ago to factor it into my overall costs. It’s also important to know how often you can get to the post office, and remember to factor in shipping costs into your overall ‘costs of being a visual artist.’

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5. Are you a commission artist? Do you sometimes take commissions? Do you never take commissions? In the past, I have not been a commission artist (I’ve been a ’email me privately and MAYBE’ artist). Due to the nature of my illnesses, I find it very difficult to work commissions with people; it’s a fair bit better now, but for a while there, it wasn’t something I could consider at all. It’s okay not to be a commission artist, you just might have to fight a little harder to market your artwork, and you’ll often find it’s very difficult to predict exactly what people are looking for. There’s this idea that – especially in the spiritual / furry / anthro art regions – you must be a commission artist. It’s simply not true. It’s also okay to stop offering commissions for a while.

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6. And on that note, it’s also okay to stop doing artwork for a while. Not everyone can afford to do this, but it’s important to keep in mind. Firstly, it creates some mystery, it creates desirability for your artwork (your clients know not to take your art for granted; it comes when it comes, and it’s not something you can produce forever, or all the time). Firstly, this is just good practice. Visual art is generally very hard on the body, especially the eyes and the hands. You’re not going to be able to do it, the way you’re doing it now, forever. But you’re going to be able to do it for longer if you take breaks. Not just during the day, but I mean – give your hands a break for a week or two. Most artists have a second or third job, plan ahead for an art holiday, and take one. I know a few artists who are forced to take ‘art holidays’ because they have RSI, and rheumatoid arthritis runs in my family. It is crucial that you don’t produce artwork all the time. Not only does it give your body a chance to rest, but – also important – it can actually increase the appeal of your product.

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7. Make your illustrations work for you. I’m still working on this, and this will be my focus for the years ahead, but the idea is this: you do an original piece of art, you sell it for $300 (sans costs). Yay! Money! Alternative scenario. You do an original piece of artwork, you DON’T sell the original, and instead offer limited edition, signed prints of the artwork instead through a venue like Etsy. You offer the prints – high quality giclee – at about $30 each for 100. You’ve made $3000 (sans costs). YAY! MONEY!

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Most visual artists – that I know of – make the majority of their money in one of three ways:

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1. They’re lucky enough to break into the gallery circuit and do solo shows and their originals are priced in the region of $5000-10,000 each.
2. Licensing. They have licensed their artwork for logos, cross-stitch designs, stickers, book covers and so on.
3. Prints. I know a lot of visual artists who get the majority of their income off prints, NOT off originals.

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If you want to make high resolution files of a good enough quality for prints you’re going to need a few things:

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1. A good scanner. A4 or A3 (but A3 are pricey).
2. A good camera. Something digital, that you can just feed directly into the computer. This is for when you work too large to get something scanned easily. Some printers will scan large works for you, but there’s often a significant fee for this, so you’ll have to decide how you want to work with that constriction.
3. A good image manipulation program because a lot of two-dimensional artwork sometimes needs colour and contrast adjustments. Photoshop is great. But there are free and cheaper options out there too.
4. A really good professional printer to work with, OR, a really good printer that can do giclee/inkjet printing on different forms of cardstock/paper.

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5. Put your income back into your business. It’s up to you how much you put back in, but I recommend at least 40%. Invest in new materials, buy in bulk to save money, and also ensure that you have materials to work with during the hard times. Establish professional accounts with suppliers to take advantage of discounts here too. Consider buying frames, or packaging for prints, or pay for advertising, or buy envelopes or materials for shipping artwork up in bulk. Get hardware and software for your computer. Get a new art desk. Get whatever you need to make sure the process of making artwork becomes less financially unstable, and more reliable. And expand into areas of possible increased income production.

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6. It’s possible to make a decent income online, and only online. My illness/es have forced me to be creative in my approach to selling artwork. I have a Facebook Art fanpage, an Etsy account, a DeviantArt account, a very dormant RedBubble account (which is on my ‘to do list’ this year), an online portfolio, a public WordPress blog, and a Twitter account. I don’t do public selling at cons or markets. I’ve been in two exhibitions and only sold in one. The majority of my income comes through the internet.

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7. If your artwork isn’t selling, you may need to address:

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1. Are you offering a unique product? Is it a product that people want? Have you talked to your clients about what they’d get from you next time, or why they’re avoiding certain products you’ve made/illustrated?

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2. Are you ‘user-friendly’? Is your artwork available in different locations in an easy to navigate manner? Do you have any internet sites specifically devoted to artwork promotion, and do these sites attract viewers? When you market your artwork offline, are you friendly and approachable? Or kind of not? These are rhetorical questions, because you know, offline, I’m not always approachable. Friendly; yes. But approachable? Not so much. So don’t fret if some of the answers to these questions are ‘oh shit, I’m not like that at all.’ That’s okay.

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3. How much time have you given yourself? I started doing my totem illustrations about 8 years ago. I started making a decent profit about 12 months ago. Okay, I gave myself too long (for about 5 of those years I didn’t treat it like a business), but it’s still important to give yourself a significant window of time to start pulling in an income. If you’re a visual artist selling anything in your first two years of wanting to? Imho, you’re doing well.

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4. Price issues. You’re pricing too high, or you’re pricing too low. Believe it or not, but underpricing your work can drive clients away. There’s no perfect way to price artwork, especially originals. Remember, it’s less ‘acceptable’ to increase the prices of pre-existing artwork, than it is to drop an already existing price. So aim high, and drop down from there. If you get clients who have purchased your artwork, and are telling you to charge more; listen to them. They are essentially saying; ‘I would have paid more for this.’

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5. Do you love what you do? Is your heart in it? Does it nourish your soul? The thing is, I really think a lot of art speaks a great deal of emotional truth to the viewer. If your emotional truth – while illustrating a piece of work – is ‘I hate this style of artwork and my client’s going to hate it, and everything’s going to suck, and I’ll never make any money,’ etc. some of that is going to come through your artwork. On the other hand, if you enjoy the style, and find yourself thinking that you’d be producing this style of artwork even if there was no demand, and it gives you something nourishing internally / emotionally / spiritually, then you’re in a win/win situation. Firstly, you win because even if it doesn’t sell, you’ve gained something in the journey of production. And secondly, you win because this kind of artwork is more attractive. Even if you’re illustrating really depressing, heavy, challenging artwork – there needs to be a kind of emotional freedom in the process of illustration (at least, there needs to be this for me). Feel free to paint your grief and sketch your anger; but try to avoid infusing every piece of work you do with cynicism and self-hatred.

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8. It’s okay to have an ego. It’s okay to really like your work. It’s okay to LOVE it. It’s also okay to be realistic about your skills. You are not as likely to sell your artwork if you’re very emo about how much it sucks. I know there are some things I’m not as good at as other things. My ability to draw perspective is kind of shitty, for example. I know that my ability to do linework first thing in the morning is shakier because my hands need time to warm up. This is me being realistic about what I can do. Be realistic about what you can do. Look at your technical ability and don’t pull any punches with yourself; see where you can improve. And let me tell you a secret, you can improve on everything. BUT, on the other hand, learn to love your artwork. Your style. Your body and mind unifies to produce something that no one else will produce in exactly the same way ever again. That’s an important gift. That’s important even if you’re just drawing stick figures (hey, people have made money off stick figures!) So it’s okay to really enjoy your style and your finished products AND be realistic about your abilities.

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9. Haters gonna hate. Some people hate my artwork. HATE it. It’s too repetitive. Stylistically it’s all the same. I don’t do enough of X style and I do too much of Y style. The colours are gross. Why would people want to put animals on their walls? Etc. I made a couple of those up, but not all of them! Some people will hate who you are as a person, even if they like the artwork (trufax), and some people are just gonna hate everything you do, because haters gonna hate. It’s okay! You have supporters! And clients! And more than that, you listened to point 8 and you see something of value in your artwork, it’s not gonna matter as much. It doesn’t bother me anymore that people don’t like my artwork. It doesn’t even ‘secretly deep down’ bother me anymore. I enjoy the art too much to stop. Also, it’s been my personal experience that:

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10. Some clients just want your artwork everywhere. Repeat clients are awesome. Don’t treat them like your best friend, because they’re NOT your best friend, and messing up friendship with professional relationships is tricky business. But do treat them awesomely, for they are awesome. These are the people who will write down your web address for friends, pass on your email, tell people who visit about the artwork on their walls, and buy the artwork as gifts for their friends. They will spread the love. Even people who can’t afford artwork will often spread the word online, or they’ll support in other ways – moral support, verbal feedback, encouragement and general wonderfulness.

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11. Be professional. Sometimes you might need to work with companies who want to license your work. You need to familiarise yourself with the wonderful thing known as a ‘contract.’ They’re scary (for people like me), but wonderful. They ensure your legal safety as an artist, and also let your client know that you’re not here to stuff around or waste anyone’s time. It’s also a clear ‘I won’t let you pull the wool over my eyes,’ step in the direction of working with commercial companies.

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When you write emails to clients in general, don’t make excuses for yourself. If you’re late with a deadline, apologise, but don’t pull out the ‘list of excuses.’ Just apologise. Keep it clean.

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If you issue a deadline; abide by it, and if you suspect you won’t or can’t email the client in advance and let them know. Keeping a client in the loop even if your loop is bad news, is better than not communicating with them at all.

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If you know your skillset isn’t ready for a project, be honest. It also lets the client know that you have a realistic grasp of what you can do, and what you can’t do. Keep a list of artists nearby that you can refer a client onto, if they are looking for something that you’re never likely to offer as an artist.

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Don’t force yourself to do too much thus causing a burnout. Because forcing yourself to do artwork through a burnout is a) hard on yourself but b) disappointing for a client. No client wants a piece of artwork if they know that it was executed during a time of impoverished energy and emotional resources. I mean yes, sometimes you do artwork and you might not be as inspired or happy about it as other days; it is a job. But there’s a difference between ‘treating artwork like a job,’ and ‘forcing yourself to work through burnout.’

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It’s important to learn how to work when you’re not inspired, in a meaningful way. You can’t always just wait for ‘inspiration to come to you.’ I mean, okay, maybe some artists can get away with this and still be remarkably successful; but I can’t, and a lot of artists can’t. Part of being professional is doing it even on the days when you’d rather be doing something else instead. And part of being professional is taking a break from the artwork to recharge and re-energise yourself. You will learn how to balance these two things, and they’ll often change and shift with time. Some times you can push harder than other times. Some times you’ve just got to stop and take a holiday.

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Be polite in your communications, honest with yourself, and look at what artists you respect are doing. More importantly, look at what business people in general are doing that you like and find ways to apply it to what you’re doing.

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12. Work out your boundaries. Don’t let clients push you around, and don’t let yourself be taken advantage of, even if this means losing work. I’ve refused to work with clients because of the way they were treating me via email. I knew I could probably do their project, but I’ve also developed a kind of sixth sense (I suppose that would just be the ‘instinct sense’ then) regarding the ones that might not be worth my time. I’d rather lose a project than end up in an extremely stressful, toxic situation. I’m very lucky in that I don’t attract many difficult clients. I think I’ve only really had one or two in a few years (that I agreed to work with). But I think part of this ability to attract really great clients is that I’m very clear with myself, and with others, about what I can and cannot do, and what I will and will not put up with.

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13. Don’t be afraid to ask for advice, but only ask the people you trust. Here’s something you might not know about the art world; some artists believe that there’s not enough money in the world for all the artists, and that they have to sabotage other artists in order to be successful. And here’s the thing, some artists will sabotage your career if you go to them for advice. That’s an ugly reality, and one I wish didn’t exist. I haven’t encountered it so much in spheres of writing or scriptwriting, so it seems really ‘visual arts specific’ right now. So if you want to ask people for art advice, be discerning, trust your ‘red flag,’ get multiple opinions, and don’t rush into any decisions. It can also help to ask people for advice from different areas; professional dancers, graphic designers, writers and so on will all have different spins on how to be successful, and it’s often quite easy to apply their advice on how to be successful to what you’re doing. So remember to look outside the box, and be flexible. It can also help to join a couple of art organisations. ArtSource in Australia advises you of upcoming competitions, grants and residencies, for example.

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14. Enjoy it as much and as often as you can!

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There’s probably a gazillion other things I forgot. Even reading through it I think there’s things I forgot. But this is long enough! Any questions, feel free to ask. And remember, if you want to ignore everything I’ve said and be a cynical, self-hatey, unprofessional artist, that doesn’t mean you might not find success! It takes all kinds, in this diverse world of ours.