Cons, Illustrations, Audience-building, and More
Playing with Line and Shape
Interview with Lisa Cree
EMG News for February
Cons, Illustrations, Audience-building, and MoreAsk an Artist
by Ursula Vernon
Ursula has fielded more questions from the field this month! Feel free to submit your questions, too!
QUESTION: Cons seem like a lot of fun -- and I'm thinking about submitting my art to a convention art show. Is it worth it? What do you do to prepare?
Well, whether it's worth it depends on a lot of factors. You can do a lot to keep your costs down by sharing rooms, rides, etc, by bringing food, and so on, but it still basically hinges on people wanting to buy your art. I think it's worth it to do a con or two to see what sort of demand there is, and to get a feel for what sells, as a research trip without trying to turn a profit on it. (Lots of people try just to break even, so that the con pays for itself, and they get to get out and see other artists and so forth.)
To prepare, you make a lot of whatever you're selling! Prints, merchandise, whatever. You need little displays, which can be as simple as a cardboard box with a scarf thrown over it, a sign with your name on it (some people go whole hog and get big banners. Wait for a few cons before you do that!) and a price list (you can get sign holders at Staples for just this purpose.) You'll also need a cashbox or moneybelt and change -- $5s, $1s, some $10s, and if you're doing small things, change.
QUESTION: Who decides what gets illustrated in your Dragonbreath books -- you or the editor?
It's a collaborative effort. I write the initial script, which includes written descriptions of all the illustrations in a kind of short-hand that we've worked out. The editor mostly accepts this, but occasionally she'll say "I think we need to see this bit!"
Once it goes to the art director for layouts, we may find that we've got long stretches that don't have illustrations in them. Since we try very hard to have at least one picture every two pages, so that you never open to an un-illustrated section, the art director will come back with "Can you change this art to fit here?" or "Can we get a new spot illustration here?" or "Can this dialog be illustrated?" and so forth.
QUESTION: I know this is different for everyone... but how did *you* build an audience for your work?
Blog, blog, and more blog. Mostly blog. Also? Blog.
QUESTION: I can see a lot of James C. Christensen's influence on your work, and yet your art is distinctly *yours.* How does one go about developing his or her own style, and breaking away from their influences?
Oof, that's a tough one. I think you just have to keep hammering away at it. Everyone's early work is derivative. Work long enough, collect enough different influences, and they start to combine into something different. I love Christensen, but I also love Palencar and Mucha and Scott Gustafson, and when you mash everything together long enough, and keep beating your head against various artistic problems, a recognizable style starts to emerge.
Sadly, there is no shortcut for this. Style is a thing that happens to you over a long time, not something that you can sit down and go "THIS HERE WILL BE MY STYLE." It doesn't work like that.
QUESTION: What's your favorite part about trying a new medium?
Seeing whether or not it will explode.
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