(Side note: This is the first time I’m using the new editor for the site, so please forgive any awkwardness.)
I’m not really a believer in ‘New Year’s resolutions’. It’s too… singular. It’s as if we’re all saying the world is black and white. You do something or you don’t.
I just don’t recon the world works that way whether we want it to or not. It’s more nuanced. It’s more gradual. You work on things bit by bit.
And you start with a plan.
Planning Process for My Art Endeavors
People plan in different ways. For me, planning starts with a brainstorming session. I have difficulty prioritizing until I see the whole picture. Without that view, everything that gets presented to me feels like the most important thing. So I start with a mind map. This mind map:
The general idea is to make a more significant portion of my income from my illustration work. So I figured the first layer of the brainstorm would either be types of products or methods of distribution. I started with the different means by which I can distribute my illustrations.
The Methods of Art Distribution
Amazon, DriveThru RPG, Stock Art Websites, Etc
As I see it, these are great for low effort, but they’re also low reward. After the websites take their cut, I’m not likely to make retirement money. What’s more, they control pretty much everything. Changes in corporate policy / philosophy can lead me to succeed or fail (even marginally).
Fiverr, Sketchmob, and Other ‘Hire an Artist’ Sites
These are low profit and high effort venues. I’ve often heard / read the phrase ‘race to the bottom’ with these sites. I find them highly frustrating. They take a significant percentage (or fee). You have to compete on price and thanks to the worldwide nature of the web, cost of living elsewhere means someone can always charge far less and still thrive where they are over where I am. And lastly, you eventually have to either pay to promote your site (both on the site and externally if you want traffic) or things get really quiet. On the plus side, I found both of those sites listed to be good for gathering new clients when I first joined them. I suspect that this is because there was a buzz about the site thanks to their being new.
I love the concept behind Patreon. I love the idea that a community could support an artist. Crowd sourcing art. It’s a great idea. There is one element that I dislike – setting up camp on someone else’s turf. This feels a little like the issues I had with the others – they take a fee and I have to promote to build traffic to their site in order to improve my customer base. Of course, it’s all the rage right now, so there’s some traffic there by default.
My Site and / or Email List
This just feels like the right answer. I’ll still have to do promotion work to bring people in. I might have some hurdles like overcoming the sense of “It’s not a site I already know and love….” But in the end, all efforts are towards helping my potential customers find me directly. No one is taking a piece of the pie, or choosing what my customers can or can not do. What’s more, if I do it right, and potential clients join my mailing list, I can make it even easier for them in the future. I can send stuff straight to them without intermediaries. My free content will show up in their inbox. They don’t have to remember to go to Patreon. They don’t have to search through the web. It’s just there waiting for them. I like that idea a lot.
Art Products I Can Sell
This list isn’t all inclusive – it’s just the things that I think I both want to sell and could potentially find a market for.
I could do a number of different types of illustration ebooks. Adult Coloring Books could easily be done from my finished line work. In fact, I’ve been told that my artwork ‘would make great stained glass’ because of my focus on clean lines. I see this one as a sort of ‘no brainer’. It just takes time to assemble. I would likely use art that I’ve already produced.
Sketch Books are something that have always fascinated me. I haven’t purchased a lot, but I have bought a few different artists’ self published and even print on demand sketch books. Just a simple collection of their unfinished works for inspiration and education. It’s remarkable how much you can learn about an artist’s process by looking at their sketch work. I’m thinking it would be worth my while to produce a digital version of these for my recent work. Possibly even just for my own edification.
While those first two ideas are things that I feel really inclined towards, this next one, I feel… less excited about. How To Draw Books are everywhere. Everyone and their mother has produced one. What’s more, it strikes me that many of them say the same thing as their predecessors – more or less. So while that makes me think that people are still buying enough of them to warrant their production, I’m not sure that I want to jump on that particular bandwagon. Still. Maybe if I could come up with some new direction. Some new methodology to demonstrate. Of course, all of that sounds like a whole lot of work.
RPG Character Portraits
While character portraits are things that many folks want, it’s not something they seem to be willing to pay much for. I understand that. It’s for a game or hobby, and money is always tight. Still, I have a modicum of skill and it takes significant time to create a single character illustration let alone a group or party.
So how do I make a larger portion of my income on something that people don’t want to spend much for?
I can sell original / custom pieces via some of those sites mention above.
I have also found a number of places I can do free illustrations of this type for folks. Places like /r/characterdrawing on Reddit. I can collect these images into bundles and sell them as Print and Play Paper Miniatures or as Token Packs for popular Table Top simulators.
While I haven’t done it yet, I could do much the same for Maps I could do for people to use in their RPG products.
While I haven’t pushed this too much yet, I should probably put a little more focus into doing caricatures. Whether more traditional goofy pics or something with a character theme (ie – your head on Arnold Schwarzenegger’s body to make you into a barbarian!) I finally feel confident that I could pull off individual likenesses to my satisfaction. And hey – people seem to love them, so why not?
Fantasy Clip Art
And lastly, there’s clip art. While this is something I feel a good deal less passionate about, it is a way that I could bundle collections of simple artwork together to sell inexpensively. There’s a pretty broad spectrum of folks who could use that sort of thing – from authors to game developers. I just need to find where / how they look for such things.
To Be Continued…
Well that covers the what and the where. Or at least introduces both of those elements. I need to spend some more time focusing on the who, when, and the how. I think I’ll save that for another entry. Or maybe I’ll update this one down the road.
In any event, I would love to get your feedback on this post. Was it valuable to you at all? Did I miss some element from one of these sections? Please feel free to let me know in the comments. I really look forward to hearing from you!