Commission Crunch Time!

Hey guys! I’m going to try and update this blog at least once a week from now on!

I’ve been really busy with all kinds of commissions as Confuzzled 2018 is fast approaching! I have now closed badge commissions and so am getting on with them. I still have a few older commissions to finish and then I should be clear for opening commissions soon! I also want to get about 10 new prints done before the con, as well as con merch and signage, so I am super busy!

I’ve been making progress on one print I’d like to do, my deer character, Rowan. He’s very much my Druid/Pagan side. Here is a mock-up I did today!:

woodland

A lot of people have been asking me about reference sheets too. I am currently reworking how I’m doing them and so I’ll post the examples when they’re done and let you guys know!

Here is a WIP reference for my long time character Mason! As you can see I want to try and maximize the art and have little text instead!

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And on the subject of commissions, I’m reworking my prices. I’ll probably have new prices after CFZ as I want to see how my work sells. I’ve not had a problem in past years but as CFZ now has bigger and better artists, it’s quite unnerving!

Thanks for reading and I hope to post a better update next week where I’ll have much more work to show!

The Artist’s Guide to Trello

Trello is an increasingly popular website for many freelancers, including artists. It’s an excellent way to keep track of commissions for both yourself and your clients! This post is just a simple guide on how I utilize Trello in my business, and how you can use it for your own.

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Trello in it’s most simple form is a bunch of cards which you can rearrange by dragging them around. It can be used for all sorts of purposes from flash cards to business, here we’re going to focus on using it for commission lists.

My commission list can be found here. (Beware, there are of course NSFW images on there too – I am not ashamed to say I do a large variety of NSFW artwork).

Trello is a very easy platform to sign up for and to begin learning, so instead of simply being a ‘how to’ post, this will instead be about how I use Trello specifically for tracking my commission work.


My Basic Layout

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This is the page I see when I log in to my account. You can see my two ‘starred’ boards are both commission boards – I have separate ones for my main commissions and my collaboration commissions with Pyropaws. The other boards are for my other projects, but we’ll leave those alone.

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This is the page which is public – my actually commission list. As you can see, it looks a bit messy but it works for me! On the furthest left column you’ll see general information related to my commissions. I make sure to constantly update the ‘Last updated’ card to show my clients that I am active on the board.

My commission opening dates are posted here too. I usually advertise them on FurAffinity and Twitter, but if I have a concrete date I’ll stick it on Trello too.

Underneath that is my planned absences. The little ‘=’ type symbol there means that there is text in that card. Upon clicking it, it opens this (which will look a bit different to someone else not logged in as me):

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Although I usually give a heads up on my twitter if I am going to be off that day, sometimes I forget and so this card acts as a public statement of my ‘pre-booked’ off days.

Under that is a link to my other commissions board, in case someone is looking for that. And below that is just… a photo of an opossum. Just something to personalize it!

Down a bit and you’ll find my label key! Labels are colour ‘tabs’ in which you can apply specific meanings. I don’t always remember to update them, but they are incredibly useful for letting your clients know where in their commission you are. Here is my current label key:

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Columns

I have a variety of columns on my trello, all of which often get renamed and rearranged.

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From left-right: 

Finished (Month/Year): I move cards which have been completed to this column every month before archiving it on the last day. This is mainly to show what I have been working on, as well as reminding me how much work I have been doing that particular month.

Working on: Cards will often move back and to between this column and ‘waiting list’. Commissions in this column are actively being worked on, whether I have my focus on that one at that particular moment or I’m doing bit by bit.

Waiting List: These are commissions I have taken but not yet started. Commissions where I waiting for client feedback also go on this list.

CFZ Badges: This was added this month and is just a separate list for conbadges I am completing for the UK convention Confuzzled. By keeping them separate from the other commissions I can see how much work I have at a glance. This also makes sure they don’t get mixed in with other commissions by accident and prevent me from missing the deadline. I will often put time-sensitive commissions in separate lists like this.

Personal Projects: This list is simply to keep track of personal projects I have going on. These are projects I work on outside of my work hours. As you can see, this currently contains a fursuit project, reference sheets for my characters and some cosplays.

Trades: I don’t often take art trades, but when I do they are listed here.


Cards:

Each individual card will usually hold at least the following info:

FurAffinity username/Twitter handle: I do not put real names on trello, due to privacy. If the commissioner requests a private commission then it gets added to another private list that is not publicly viewable.

Email: Email is the primary way I contact people! I used to use FA notes but their horrible lack of search function eventually ruled that one out for me.

General information: I use Google Forms for my commission slots, then I generally copy/paste any information I need for the commission into my trello for easy access. I will also copy/paste reference images here.

WIPs: I usually share work in progress images via my trello too. This is both for the client and for myself (to remind myself where I am in this commission).

An example of one of my cards containing a description, some WIPs and the finished resized version. This card will be moved to the Finished (Month/Year) column, before it gets archived. You can see the finished version of this commission here!


So this is how I use Trello! Lots of people use it nowadays as it’s simple to use and easy to update! Although not all artists use Trello, it is still essential to keep an updated commission list at all times.

Do you use Trello? How are you finding it? Maybe you use a different format to keep track of your work, I’d love to hear about it! Let me know either in the comments or by email.

I hope you enjoyed this post and have a lovely and productive day!

 

 

Resources for Learning Art

In my last post, I discussed why I felt that art university is detrimental to many artists, and I advised against it. Here are some resources for learning art online!

Online Education

There are many, many education courses online for aspiring artists. Below are my favourites!

aaron-blaiseAaron Blaise’s Courses
https://creatureartteacher.com

Aaron Blaise is an ex-Disney animator and director, character designer and wildlife artist who hosts a whole load of art lessons on his website. He also has a lot of free content on his Youtube so you can ‘try before you buy’. He teaches a variety of tutorials and lessons including animation, photoshop, charcoal, painting, wildlife art, anatomy and character design. As Aaron worked heavily on so many Disney movies including Brother Bear, his courses are a huge inspiration to furry artists and definately worth the money!

Each course is priced individually, or you can get access to EVERYTHING for only $199/year which is not only a huge saving but also massive value. I have personally purchased this and all I can say is WOW – if these courses were available before I went to uni, I simply wouldn’t have gone. This man teaches everything I learned there and much, much more.


London Art College

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London Art College
https://www.londonartcollege.co.uk/

The London Art College is a distance learning college which sends you folders of the coursework through the mail. You are expected to produce the art traditionally and return it to them either through scanning it or mailing it.  The average cost per course is £360, payable in installments and they offer a range of courses taught by tutors including Pet portraits, Botanical drawing, Children’s Illustration, Digital Illustration, Comics and cartoons and much more.


Websites:

DrawaBox

drawabox

drawabox.com

DrawaBox is an amazing website which takes you through art fundamentals at their very core – drawing boxes and shapes in order to improve your art skills by going to the very basics – the basics which many of us miss out on. The content is FREE, but there is an option to support them via patreon.

Drawspace:

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https://www.drawspace.com

Drawspace is a website which hosts a large variety of art tutorials covering many different topics. Membership is free for some of the lessons, though a monthly subscription does come in when you want to take more lessons. Still, it’s worth looking at the free lessons for a good start.

ArtGraphica

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http://www.artgraphica.net/

ArtGraphica has a number of FREE art courses avaliable, all sorted into sections. These include drawing and sketching, different mediums, art theory and more. They also host various public-domain art lesson books!


Books:

There are a LOT of books out there for learning to draw! However, I will narrow it down to the books I feel are most useful for furry and fandom artists!

The ‘Draw Furries’ Series:

At first glance, these books look like your typical ‘how to draw’ books (ugh, remember some of those ‘how to draw manga’ books, guys?). However, I was pleasantly suprised upon purchasing the second in the series on a whim (I have not purchased the first as the art really did not appeal to me as much). The art in ‘Draw more furries’ is lovely! The third book in the series, Furries Furever looks even better and has contributions by many popular furry artists including Katie Hofgad.

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These books teach human anatomy, types of anthro (chibi, digitigrade etc), structure of body parts and more. They are very good books and specialize in furry art!

Human Anatomy for Artists

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A bulky book full of drawn diagrams, this book is an anatomy bible. Even furry artists need a solid knowledge of human anatomy and proportions and this book shows science meeting art as the artist explores each and every part of the human body. This book is definately a teaching and practice book rather than ideas for poses and such, but the knowledge contained within is invaluable to any artist!

And right now it’s only £4.99 on Amazon!
Amazon USA

The Art of Animal Drawing: Construction, Action, Analysis, Caricature

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This book is a fantastic study of drawing animals both realistic and characterised. It starts with basic forms and moves on to dynamic poses, though I would suggest you have at least a basic knowledge of drawing animals before purchasing this book.

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I received this as a gift and thought maybe it was just a generic ‘how to draw’ book. I was pleasantly surprised though, finding it incredibly useful – the drawings come to life, the illustrator explains how to draw multiple animals (though there is a large focus on horses) and the tips in here are practical. An excellent book!

Find it here on Amazon UK  or Amazon USA!

How to Draw Animals

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I’ve had this book ever since University and continue to use it as a reference guide! It starts at a more basic level than the above book ‘The Art of Drawing Animals’ using basic shapes to draw the animals form. It also goes into detail on posture, gaits and movement and is incredibly practical for beginners and professionals alike. Another great book!

Here on Amazon UK and Amazon USA!


This is just a quick glimpse into some of the resources available online for learning art and improving! If you have found something you love and you feel should be here, please let me know in the comments!

Thanks for reading!

Do I Need to Go to Art University?

Hey everyone! This post is about my personal opinions on art universities and whether or not it is worth pursuing a degree. Please do remember that this is my opinion, and you may have a completely opposite view! If so, I’d love to hear from you!

Does an Art Degree have any value?

Many people will tell you how they attended CalArts, aced their class, or have a Bachelors degree in this that and everything. An art degree can be pretty impressive!

However, in my opinion, a degree in art is not needed at all to become a professional artist. If you specifically want to work with a company that demands you to have particular qualifications then yes, it would make sense to get those qualifications – otherwise being self-taught can be a much more rewarding (and much MUCH cheaper) alternative.

Going to University for art will not automatically mean you will magically gain all the art skills you could ever dream of. Nor will it ensure you a market to sell your art to. You may be taught the fundamentals of art, you might attend some events and gain some great contacts, but it is up to you to create those relationships. Art is a craft, it cannot be memorized on flash cards, it’s something that takes long hours and years of steady practice. In the end, university does not hold your hand through the whole course, it will dump you in the deep end and expect you to surface and keep yourself afloat for those three to five years.

When thinking of applying to university, think about what kind of art you want to sell. Since you’re here on my blog, I’m assuming you’d like to sell furry or fantasy artwork, maybe anime style and comics. Do you think a potential client will care if you have a BA (Hons) in whatever subject? Not really. They want to see that you can draw (and that you have previous examples and a strong portfolio), that you have a good turnaround time and that you are professional to work with.


“Why are you so bitter towards univerities, Neon? :(“

DID-A-UNI
Look at me. I’m so proud.

Okay, let me tell you a little story. I attended university from 2004-2007 in North Wales, studying Animation. It was a three year course and I was thrown in the deep end. For those years, I learned barely a single thing and struggled with many illnesses. Of course, the latter was not the university’s fault, but I digress.

Yes, I know the basics of animation. Yes, I can animate something. Do I like animation? Not anymore, well at least not doing it myself. Pursuing my passion through such a black and white way such as university really stubbed out my passion for animating. I faced the reality of keyframes, inbetweens and carpal tunnel. I went to many animation studios including talking to Dreamworks and Pixar at Bradford and Annecy Animation festivals. Surely they had some amazing information for a young 19-year-old animation student? Nah, they advised against going into animation altogether. They said the industry was tiny, concentrated to mainly accomodate CalArts students (or at least that was the case in 2005) and that most animation these days was being outsourced to Korea. And they’re not wrong.

Another problem I had was supporting myself through University. I started to take commissions through DeviantArt and FurAffinity, gaining a client list of around 100 individuals. In whatever time I wasn’t doing University work or working my part-time job, I was doing commission work. My tutors disapproved of me making money off of my art, even though that was my end goal.

Through my experience, and that of others I have spoken to, I strongly believe that going to an art university can be dangerous to an artist’s creativity and passion for art. Not to mention the colossal fees associated with it. In the UK, we have a loan which we then spend the rest of our lives paying off (though we only have to if we earn over £17,775 a year). In the USA, the loan must be paid back immediately – as far as I understand, correct me if I am wrong. Therefore we have a bunch of people in their early twenties unable to follow their passion and instead finding whatever means necessary to get out of crippling debt.


Some Cheaper Alternatives to University

Although I personally advise against going to university, there are other methods of art education available. For instance community colleges offer specialized courses on many aspects of art from life drawing to watercolours. These courses are often up to 10 times cheaper than university courses and will give you the practical experience needed to improve your skills.

There are also numerous online art colleges covering a variety of subjects, again much, much cheaper than going to University, and these are often distance-learning courses you can fit around your day job or even commission work.


So in my opinion (and only my opinion, if you disagree that is fine!): You don’t need to go to art university to become a professional artist. Though this may largely depend on your chosen career. It’s up to you to research what kind of qualifications your sector requires and to pursue them. To become a general fandom artist, furry artist, make comics or whatever, you do not need university. It will be a much more valuable use of your time to teach yourself everything you need to know.

Of course, how you educate yourself on art is completely up to you and don’t take what I say as fact. Some people have amazing experiences at university and through their course end up being employed in high end jobs. I’d estimate that’s most likely the 1% of the course though. Others made their way through university, only to find that companies wanted more from them than a simple certificate.


Do you agree with this post? Maybe you disagree? Perhaps you had an entirely different experience from me and would like to share?

Please comment below or email me to discuss this post or share your story if you would like!

Thanks so much for reading!