Kokoro Cafe Winter Banner

A few months ago I did a banner set for the Otome gaming forum “Kokoro Cafe” which has been blowing up. Who knew girly games were so popular??

KokoroCafeBanner

KokoroCafe

This is one of the reasons I use layers so so so much. Since just about every element of the original image above is on its own layer, it was easy to go in and make small adjustments to create several Special Occasion versions: a 1000th member kiriban, spring time “Hanami” (turning the green trees into pink sakuras) and a winter “Happy Holidays”.

KokoroCafeKiriban

KokoroCafeHanami

KokoroCafeWinter

The winter one was a little more involved and actually required quite a bit of re-drawing/adjustments, but it was fun and turned out pretty nice. It went live on the site just a little while ago! I didn’t have enough time to do one for this past season, but I’m also planning on doing an Autumn/Halloween version for next year. Plus, at the rate the site is growing, I’m sure I’ll have to do another kiriban soon!

If you’d like to see the beginning to end process of how I created the original image, I posted a pretty detailed description of the process a couple of months ago. Thought process, scans, digital images, even a bit about the texturing that I used for the setting! Check it out here.

Advertisements

Santa Hat

One of my latest commissions! It’s of my client’s German Shepard “Kei.” He wanted a photo booth image based off of the “Pitty Kiss” image I did a while ago. I was sent a photobucket full of images of his dog, then I picked through them until I felt like I had a good idea of what the dog looked like. I found two images that were close to the poses I used in this to use as references, then added the hat. I think it’s going to be the front of his X-mas/Holidays card this year =)

Vverevvolf

Once I have better access to printing/shipping I want to offer cards/notebooks/framed images along with commissions like this. Drawing pets is always fun, and it seems to have quite a market too!

Freelancing: Issue #8503

I really love to brag about my job. As far as desk jobs go, mine’s juuuuust about one of the coolest! I’m basically doing for money what I’d be doing if I had nothing better to do =)
But every job has it’s downsides, right? Freelancing is definitely a “Feast or Famine” type of gig. I always have either WAY too much to get done nownownow… or nuthin’. Zip. Zero. And then back to omgwaytoomuch aaaaaaaaah!… It’s fun though, and it’s all a matter of pacing myself I’ve found, and lots of planning ahead. I try to always have several projects of my own on the back burner; drawings, crafty stuff, new signs or product ideas, etc. That way when those slow times come around I don’t end up just sitting on my hands, I can grab one of those projects and run with it until I get more paid work.

On the flip side, the same goes for the paid work. I never seem to have just one commission at a time; it’s always 5-10 all of a sudden and I need to get ’em done quick! Unfortunately, especially for the work I do in illustration, a lot of the pacing depends on the customer. I often find myself waiting on payments (which I almost always take up front. More on that later…), commission details, references, contact information, yadayadayada. Sometimes I send previews of the work and end up waiting days to weeks, even months before I get a response! So I’ve found it’s really important to be able to switch between commissions and work easily, without getting too hung up on the one I’m working on. Multitasking! Very important.

That said, I do have a “queue”, a sort of commission line that people get on depending both on when they contact me about the commission and when they pay. While I give the current commissions at the top of the queue top priority, I also bounce around the queue line while waiting on any of the many things I talked about above, or sometimes when I hit an art block on a certain piece and need to take a short break to get my groove back.

As for what I said earlier about always taking payments upfront, I’ve been burned before, but more than that a lot of friends of mine in the same field have been burned before. It’s (really unfortunately) not too unusual for people to try to get art for “free” by ordering work, then either disappearing or simply ignoring any payment requests once the work is complete. Luckily this has never happened to me, but I have had clients that procrastinate and procrastinate and make one excuse after another about why they can’t pay yet “but next week for sure!”. Basically it just becomes very unpleasant for everyone involved as I then have to take on the role of Collector and they have to deal with getting hounded about debts. After doing this several times I decided that I had enough of a clean track record with commissions and clients that it wasn’t unreasonable to ask for all payments upfront. Now, I do understand that it’s not always easy to pay for expensive things like art all in one lump sum, so I do offer small payment options for the more expensive works. But again, in order to protect myself, the payment always has to be made in full before work is completed.

I know lots of artists that have very different policies on how they take and work through commissions, and how they accept payments, but this is the method that I’ve settled on for myself and it seems to be working out. In fact, if there are any artists/freelancers reading this, I’d love to hear your methods/thoughts on this process!

Whoops!

The area had a little internet outage today so I didn’t get to post what I was supposed to earlier… This is definitely something that has worried me a lot since being down here. The unreliability of the internet is becoming a pretty serious problem, since my entire business is based around it! Not only that, but I’m pretty limited in technology as a whole. No data or constant wifi can really put a damper on things.

On a brighter note, I may have made a great work connection at my last convention. If all goes well my conventioning may just have just become leaps and bounds easier! My dad always told me, “It’s not what you know, but who you know.” I guess he was right. (queue, “I told you so!”)

Convention Sketchbooks (MFF Day 2)

One of my best sellers at conventions is sketchbook commissions. Everybody treats these commissions differently, but in general they are simple to somewhat complex sketches. I’ve also seen sketchbook commissions inked, fully colored with markers, or even painted! They can be extremely complex, or simple stick figures; it all depends on the artist and what they’re willing to do.

Con-goers often provide their own sketchbooks for these commissions and treat them as collections. They will go to different artists around the convention, getting artwork from each of their favorites, slowly filling the books. Some people choose to get random work, some people theme their books. I often get book that have a character description in the front and everything that is drawn within has to be based on that. I even got one book that had a random quote on each page and the artist could choose whichever quote they liked best to inspire them.

They’re great! They’re really nice, personalized collections for the people who purchase the sketches, they are (generally) a simple and fast way for artists to make money, and they are great promotions/advertisement for artists too!
I have a stack of about 8 sketchbooks that I need to complete by tomorrow soooo… I really ought to get to that now.

Printing

Awww man, I waited to post anything this morning since I knew I was going to be doing all of my printing today for the convention this weekend. I was going to to pictures of what I had done, but I don’t have a working camera! Oops. So instead, I’ll just describe what I did… which is boring, but it’s all I got.

When I’m at conventions one of my biggest sellers is prints. They’re small, easy and inexpensive, so they’re easy to sell. Before each Con I usually print individuals of the newest images I’ve done, to add to my Print Book (a binder portfolio that customers can flip through), and I also print multiples (3-5) of prints that I expect to sell. It’s always a gamble, guessing what will and won’t be in demand. I have to keep in mind what sold from previous conventions and what images have been especially popular when I upload them online… but even then there’s never a guarantee. Sometimes it’s the popular one that sells, sometimes it’s the 5 year old doodle.

So I managed to print most of the individuals that I needed for my Book, but I had some issues with my printer. I just recently moved this summer, and while I had a great working relationship with the whole crew at my old Office Depot, I don’t have anything like that here. It took about 4 hours just to get 24 prints, and only 18 of them were usable. Some of them were cropped, most of them were far too dark, and the girl at the counter insisted there was no way to lighten them. Oh, and they were about 4 times more expensive then they ought to have been ($1.60 for just one print!). So they were busy and I was asking for a type of printing the girl wasn’t used to… so I took what I could get. Unfortunately for me that means that I have almost no extra stock for this convention, but that just means making up for it in Sketchbook commissions and coms for after-con.

The good news is, I did managed to get most of my new signs printed. All except for the big banner, which is fine since I didn’t really need it for this convention. The rest of the signs were really important, though. I’ve had this bad habit of not making my prices clear enough, and of scribbling down last minute signs at convention… which is really unprofessional! So I finally fixed that. I have a nice new price list, complete with example images, signs for sketchbook commission status, I even made little signs for “sold out” or “unavailable”, and all of them are laminated too. Hopefully they’ll be able to last me for a while!

I leave for Chicago tomorrow at five… I really ought to go pack all of this stuff up =S