Sunday, October 27, 2013

Photoshop Power Day Videos Now Available!

We just wrapped up the most amazing day of learning how to paint in photoshop I've ever been involved in! The video recordings are finished and ready for you to download right NOW - and they'll continue to be 25% off for the next too weeks until November 10th.

It was so much fun to teach and learn from Zac Retz, Brooke Boynton Hughes, and Jake Parker. I have to give a special thank you to all of you who participated LIVE in our virtual GoToMeeting classroom - your questions and comments made it so valuable to me and the other teachers. Thank you for being so patient as we worked through our tech glitches.

Here is my finished demo painting that I made for the class - always fun to have an excuse to paint something just for fun!

You can learn more about the class here or purchase the HD video class right here.

We have more classes coming soon so leave your email in the comments below or email me at to be put on our mailing list for future class announcements. We are working on our website right now and our 2014 class schedule. Our goal is to provide instruction that works with current University and Art school illustration and animation programs or with those who have never attended formal art training.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Where Are My Freelance Jobs?

I have been blessed with many connections in the illustration world and many more since I started this blog a few years back and those connections seem to be growing. Every day I get asked questions related to the freelance illustration markets -from how to improve the craft of illustration to how to find markets and clients and I spend a fair amount of my time answering them. I enjoy this time each day.

I made a series of youtube videos on the subject I'm about to discuss a few weeks ago.

In the past month I have been offered three different freelance projects for publishing companies all of which I turned down due to the lack of budgets. I don't want to seem ungrateful - beyond the fact that it's flattering to be wanted - I realize that I'm in a different position than many illustrators since I've been at this a while and have spread out my income streams. I defend the right of our clients to offer what's in their own best interest as we must decide to accept or reject based on our best interests. Some people complain about the price of a water bottle at the gas station...but they don't have to buy it.

But it's the latest offering that I wanted to discuss. If you've gone through an illustration program on a University or art school level you know that illustration rates have either stayed the same over the last 100 years or gone down. The offering I received this week was half of what I used to get paid from this client. This made it very easy to turn down but that's not the point. The point is that what I've been saying (please watch my youtube video if you haven't already - all 3 parts!) is coming true. Prices that have at least "held" for decades are now going the other direction. We are competing on a global scale at many levels. With the ability for individual artists to publish their own music, books, videos, etc the big companies are having to adapt to the competition. It's one reason entertainers like Jimmy Kimmel are releasing anonymous videos on youtube (twerking girl catches on fire) to generate traffic back to his show. Our clients - the people we want to hire us are suffering from the noise just like we are - they are competing with us when we release our own products.

If you look at every potential consumer of your products as having a finite amount of attention per day - in other words in my case a mother will only read a certain number of books or story apps for x amount of time each day to their child. Every quality product that is released has the potential of sucking a certain amount of time out of the pool of consumers. As a result publishers have been going through massive layoffs. Some of this could be due to the recession and slow recovery but I believe that our industry has been hit by a "perfect storm" if you will. The internet is allowing artists and publishers all over the world to work together and compete, technology making creation faster and delivery quicker, a recession, and the ability for anyone to publish cheaply and in many cases - free.

AND education is getting cheaper for illustrators with online options - like our own SVS, Folio Academy, Chris Oatley's classes, Justin Gerard and Cory Godbey's Lamp Post Guild, and many others. This isn't going to go back to the way it was. The number of good and great illustrators is only going to grow. BUT guess what? I think it's wonderful!

I'm doing the best work of my life and getting fewer good paying gigs than ever and I hear this over and over from friends and acquaintances. Why do I think it's awesome? Because I believe illustration is going to become more honest and pure leaving only room for the truly dedicated and passionate artists. The artists that are willing to risk it all for a chance to engage their audiences with emotionally provocative art. Taking on mind numbing, politically correct, predictable, risk free, follow the leader, anemic, cookie cutter, tasteless, agenda driven, thoughtless projects are getting really expensive to produce - because nobody is buying them. I'm up for the challenge - bring it on!

Last year I filled in as an adjunct teacher for a neighboring University to UVU. I was asked to teach the business class for illustration majors. I decided to toss out the playbook we used 15 years ago (put your ad here - generate a mailing list - send out post cards - the end)  in favor of teaching the type of ideas I share in my youtube videos about developing your own projects and testing them in the market. It was appreciated by some and rejected by others. It really bothered me that some of the students were unhappy with what I was sharing. They asked, "Where are our Freelance Jobs?" "We want you to tell us how to get work."  I probably got more pissed off than I should have - after all - they did everything they were supposed to. They worked hard in the first school - got great grades in the second school  and were promised a bright future if they got good grades in the third school which they did - top of their classes. Then they met me in the business class at college where I told them - no - it's all different - it's about what value you can create in a product - that you create on your own time with your own money- and there's no guarantees. Who would want to hear that after being promised a job.

I emailed 20 of the who's who in editorial illustration (I'm talking society of illustrators award winners) asking them if what I was attempting to teach was misleading and false. 17 wrote back telling me (and them) that my advice was spot on and that they have had to make many alterations in their freelance careers in the last decade to stay viable. One said, "I lay awake at night trying to figure out my next moves...what am I missing?" Only one said that business has never been better. We read their letters in class - you could have heard a pin drop. The editorial market has probably suffered the worst with hundreds of magazines and newspapers shutting down or going online only and cutting much of their art budgets.

Where are your freelance jobs? For some there will be nice opportunities but for the majority you're going to have to afford yourself the time to do what you love and if you're dedicated, passionate, and smart enough to make the right products that change people emotionally - you'll do just fine. Just a decade ago the idea of creating your own animation, books, games, recordings, HD video, used to be next to impossible without a middleman. Now it's like there's a yellow brick road leading to your DIY projects. The tools have been created for you - hardware, software, websites, etc. The question is really up to bad do you want it?

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Jake Parker Will Throw Down On Power Day!

As a special bonus Jake Parker will add his tips and tricks on how he uses Photoshop to our upcoming power day! This was never part of the original class because he was knee deep in a few big projects but when I sensed he was nearing the end I asked and he delivered. So even though he we won't have time to fit him in on the Saturday event his videos will be bundled with the class video recordings.

So for those of you who are seeing this for the first time here's the skinny: On October 26th 2013 we are going to be holding a LIVE online Photoshop class taught by 4 illustrators/animators. Each artist will demonstrate how they use Photoshop to create their personal style - so you get to go behind the scenes and see what tools they use, how they use them, etc. While the class is going on we will be recording the GoToMeeting session. The attendees of the LIVE class will also get to download the recordings to watch over and over later on.

BUT - you can also choose to purchase the recordings only for half price. So why buy the Complete live class? The benefits of the live class: the ability to ask questions to the artists, (even how they broke into the business), my beginning painting in Photoshop tutorial (for out of the box users), and a half hour one on one session with me after the class the following week which can be used to help with your portfolio, work, advice, etc.

You can view the class here: 

And see who's going to be teaching here:

Jake's videos will be bundled with all the videos from the class for a total of 5 artist demos. I think this class is ideal for the artist who wants to switch over to using photoshop to create illustrations or for the person who wants to combine photoshop with their traditional work. We have been sold out for a few weeks but 2 people dropped down to the Lite version for schedule conflicts - so there are still 2 seats available for the Complete class - you can purchase both the Complete or Lite class right now. Either way your videos will be delivered the day after the class via download. Check out the class.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Color Studies for Photoshop Power Day

Just finished a few color studies in preparation to our Photoshop Power Day coming up in a few weeks. I like having everything ready to go long before I get into the online classroom. This way I can pack as much information into my lesson and efficiently cover lots of ground.

Having some color ideas worked out ahead of time takes some of the decisions away so I can focus on the techniques I'll be teaching. Working digitally has made it much easier to make these experiments in just a few minutes...I have about 20 minutes into these studies but being able to move forward with confidence is invaluable. 

Also - the Complete version of this class WAS sold out but we had a few people with schedule conflicts that asked to drop down to the LITE - video only version of the class. So there are 2 spots left as of today if you're interested you can sign up here -but if they're gone you can still sign up for the Lite version.

Monday, October 7, 2013

My Speech To Illustration Students - Part 1 - Will Terry

This is the most important message I have for up and coming illustrators and those that are still in school! This is the advice I would want to hear if I were planning a long career in illustration.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

How To Write A Children's Book

I'm very happy to announce TWO things this morning. The launch of Ann Cannon's Folio Academy video - "How To Write A Children's Book" and our Fall 30% off Sale at Folio Academy on the entire store! (use code: fall3)

Ann is a very accomplished author of children's books so about 6 months ago we asked her if she would be interested in making a video tutorial. We wanted a lesson designed specifically for illustrators and beginning writers. I'll be honest - I wanted that video for myself. With all the possibilities of indie publishing both traditionally and in electronic form becoming available - the demand for the kind of information packed in her tutorial is going up.

It took us a while because Ann is a busy woman who also writes a weekly column for the Salt Lake Tribune but we finally got time where we could all get together. I really hope this video helps the illustrator who wants to create his/her own story.

....AND - you can get it for 30% off for the next two weeks if you use this code: "fall3"...after that the sale ends.

Here is one of Ann's latest books and you can check out the tutorial here.