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Tips for Artists Q+A round-up!

Journal Entry: Sun Jan 7, 2018, 1:09 PM


First off, happy new year, everyone! My first week of 2018 has been very pleasant and relaxing, but it's time to get back into the swing of things! I have some new art coming out soon, but while I finish them up, I figured I'd gather some new questions for my next "Tips for Artists" journal. I've learned a lot on my journey to make my passion a career, and picked up a lot of good little habits that I'd love to share. I've got lots more to talk about, but I figured it'd be a good idea to go ahead and ask you guys: What do you want to know? Go ahead and give me your top questions about offering commissions, running a Patreon, or anything else, concerning making a living with your art.

Some of the topics I already have planned: 
  • Negotiating the commission deal
  • Prices: Bid vs Hourly rates
  • Best practices to prevent "scope creep"
  • The importance of Quality and Consistency, and how it applies to a client's decision to hire you
  • Tips for a "stress free" commission process
  • Scheduling work
  • Setting goals
  • ...and more as they come to me!
If there's something you'd like to know that isn't on this list, post in the comments! I'll be sure to give you my thoughts on the topic, and if it's a question I think might help a lot of people, I'll add it to my list of articles to write. :)

Happy 2018 everyone! Let's move forward with fresh goals and a plan to achieve them!  
~Ray


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:iconthesla:
THesla Featured By Owner Feb 11, 2018  Hobbyist Digital Artist
i didn't see this before, so maybe i'm late to the discussion... still, there is this one thing that i want to ask. one thing that bothered me so much, it actually prevented me from seeking an art career:

how do you live with making your hobby into a profession? isn't it going to be unbalanced? as in, you either start hating your hobby, or start not taking your job seriously enough? i never really got it.
Reply
:iconronindude:
RoninDude Featured By Owner Feb 11, 2018  Professional Digital Artist
I think that is a great question! However, I think the answer is wildly different, from person to person. But I will go ahead and explain why being a career artist hasn't ruined art for me. 

When I was younger, I had all sorts of "regular" jobs that had nothing to do with art. Physical jobs like construction, roofing, logging, mill work, demolition, welding, etc... After over a decade of that sort of work, I moved on for a few years into retail and sales jobs. In those retail jobs I worked all sorts of positions: sales, public relations, tech support, management, reporting, inventory, and so on... So you can say that I have had a lot of experience with lots of different types of jobs. Eventually, I tried my hand at pursuing my dreams of becoming a professional artist. It took a lot of work, and a lot of years of failure, but I managed to pull it off. 

As a career artist, it's true that I haven't always enjoyed the jobs I have been paid to do. When I was taking regular commission work (instead of making my living off of Patreon, like I do now), I would do commissions back to back, for months at a time, without ever having a chance to do my own work. It did get monotonous. It did become "work". Sometimes I did boring work. Sometimes I had to work when I didn't want to. But I also enjoyed bits of it, here and there. Some art jobs I loved every moment, while others, I just wanted to be over and done with. Doing art as a career is work. But you know what I realized? 

I have to pay my bills. That means I have to earn money, somehow. I can either earn a living the way I did before, with all those other "regular" jobs I mentioned, or I could earn a living with my art. So the question is simple: Which would I rather spend my time, doing? 

I had no love for any of those jobs I mentioned, earlier. Most of the time it just felt like I was trading my life away, 5 days a week at a time (or more), just so I could keep living.. but living for what? It really felt pointless. I actually hated those jobs. And since those jobs took up 5/7th of my life, that meant that I hated 5/7th of my life. That realization hit me like a truck.

So you know what? It was actually a really easy decision, for me. Sure, an art career means that, sometimes, maybe even most times, I will be drawing things for other people. I will be using my beloved, hard earned skill to make someone else's dreams a reality. But hey, that's not so bad. And even if it's a really boring commission, I still find things to love about it. It's a million times better than spending my time doing some "regular" job that I will hate. Because I don't hate art. Doing it all the time does not make me hate it. It just makes me better at it, which makes me even more proud to do it. 

So I hope that my answer is clear. It's about your perspective. Your point of view. It's how you choose to look at the whole venture. You have to work. Might as well do something that you love to do. Work doesn't have to be this thing you hate, and making a career in art doesn't have to corrupt it. Worried about burn out? Take breaks. Can't afford to take breaks? Then your problem is not the job, it's how you price and market yourself. If the problem is that you just don't have the discipline to do art on command, or at regular enough intervals to make a steady income, well, then that's something to work on. If you honestly aren't interested in drawing every day or every other day, than perhaps it's just not for you. Keep it a hobby. There's nothing wrong with that. But if you enjoy art and want to give yourself the ability to do it more often, with more energy, than taking a career as an artist is the way to go. 

that's my take on it, at least! I hope that it helps. :)
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:iconthesla:
THesla Featured By Owner Feb 11, 2018  Hobbyist Digital Artist
dude, you just gave me multiple sucker punches with that long awnser... you kinda broke me a little... like, i have the option of working on something i don't hate? Dafuk? XD

Well, the whole concept of working with something i love is alien to me, so maybe that's why i didn't get it. it's nice to hear the perspective of someone with experience, it helped A LOT.

also, i have to once again remind you that you are my favorite artist and a huge inspiration. 
Reply
:iconronindude:
RoninDude Featured By Owner Feb 11, 2018  Professional Digital Artist
Thank you for your kind words! I have been there, buddy. I know that feeling.... "Wait... What?? I HAVE OPTIONS???" Yeah... Yeah you do.

For me, my work is just fun. I don't really see myself as working, in the traditional "get up and do your job that sucks" kind of way. I get up in the morning, I eat breakfast, I sit at my computer, and I make art. I make sure I charge enough for my work so that I can afford to take breaks. When I am uninspired, I doodle mindlessly, or go do something else. If I feel uninspired for too long, then I have learned ways to change that, through experience. I know how to get re-inspired. For me, it's just a matter of changing things up, for a bit. Work on different types of projects. Whatever. 

When I was just starting out my art career, I had to hustle. I mean HUSTLE. Yeah, I definitely worked 16 hour days, for weeks... no, MONTHS at a time. Yeah, I was underpaid. Yeah, I had a hard time getting jobs, and had to take work that I really didn't like, and get paid crap for it. That time was stressful as all hell. But I learned a lot along the way, and I didn't give up. I use that gained knowledge to help me make my life easier. I learned from my mistakes. I improved my artistic skill to attract more clients. I schedule my work better. I charge more fairly for my work. My life has gotten easier, because I was smart about it. It took years, but it was worth the investment. So yeah. You can totally do it. Just be smart about it. take care of yourself. Sometimes it's hard, and that's ok. Just keep trying to figure out how you can make it easier for yourself and how you can better align your life with your goals, and you'll eventually land on the right path, for you. 

I mean, seriously, who says work has to suck? The definition of work is: "activity involving mental or physical effort done in order to achieve a purpose or result." It doesn't say anything about it having to suck. XD
Dude, there's people out there making a living off of playing video games. So the old definition of work doesn't really hold up. 
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:iconthesla:
THesla Featured By Owner Feb 19, 2018  Hobbyist Digital Artist
ok, i know that my life is none of your business, but still, i guess i should let you know that you helped me make a decision here.  i had it in my mind to follow the dream of being a full time digital artist for a while, but never really took it seriously, until i got so frustrated with my job that my mental health degraded to the point were i was nothing more than a mindless drone with no goals in life. just getting up, going to a job i hated and getting home just so i could waste my time playing games to forget the miserable life i had. 

i reached a breaking point a few days ago, right about when you awsered me, and you kind of got me that spark of "get up and do something". and so i started to draw like crazy, trying to get enough for a decent portfolio so i can start selling my skills. and today i found out that i'm getting vacations. when i get out of that building i have absolutely no intention of ever getting back. so, it's very likely that tomorrow will be my last day at work.

so... maybe i'll flop hard. but i'm brave enough to give it a try now. eight years ago i gave up on this same dream, so now it's time for me to make up for the lost time. tanks for the kick in the butt!
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:iconronindude:
RoninDude Featured By Owner Feb 20, 2018  Professional Digital Artist
I am glad to hear you are motivated to start making positive changes to your life! That's always a good thing. I know what you mean, when you say that you felt like a mindless drone. Been there! Got over it! 

But I must warn you, since you are listening, to be careful about being impatient! I personally didn't quit my regular job until I had a freelance job to support me, and even then, I failed countless times on my way to figuring it out. I don't want you to think I am saying you should quit your job before you have a plan. I don't want you to become financially ruined because some words I said inspired you! While you can certainly learn a lot by just diving in, it's not easy. In fact, it's one of the hardest journies I personally have ever done. I would have given up many times along the way if it wasn't for the emotional support of my family and friends, as well as very good business advice from a close friend. Once I quite my regular job, and started freelancing as an artist, it took me 2.5 ish years to really get on my feet and make it work. I struggled really hard, during that time, and was constantly learning things and trying things out. My wife and I had to ration food, and we were always behind on bills. It took a lot of strength and reassurance from friends and family to keep going. But I did, and it worked out! It can for you to. But just be ready for the hardest journey of your life. 

So if you really are going to do this, expect to fail every now and then, and be ok with that. Every failure is a valuable lesson that will bring you closer to your goals. So keep your eyes and ears open, and study. Listen to podcasts and watch youtube videos about people who offer business advice for artists. Experiment and learn all you can. Improve your artistic skill, and your business mindset, always! And never be afraid to ask for advice from those who have been there! 

Best of luck to you! 
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:iconthesla:
THesla Featured By Owner Feb 21, 2018  Hobbyist Digital Artist
it's nice to know you care, but you don't need to worry too much about my financial failure. sure, i'll lose a huge source of income, but you have to measure your priorities. i still live with my parents, so i'm not going to starve. also, working on that place was starting to degrade my mental health, literaly. a few years ago i got over a serious case of depression and social anxiety. i was clean again, and then i got this job. it was just boring and tiring at first, but as time went on it got only worse. right now, i'm back to therapy and taking medicine again. getting out of that job was a good decision. i'll try my hardest to get money with my art, but if all else fails, nothing's stoping me from getting another job. i'm used to failure. i failed a lot before. i gess i'm getting a thicker skin, wich is something i didn't have back when i was a young artist in college and just gave up ass soon as the challenge got harder.

so don't worry! i don't want you to think you sent a young artist to his doom! things happened quickly here for sure, but that's how life goes sometimes. thanks for the support! 
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:iconronindude:
RoninDude Featured By Owner Feb 21, 2018  Professional Digital Artist
It sounds like you have a good support group, then, and that's what's important! And being used to failure is nothing but good! Take that thick skin and charge ahead to glory! 

Hey, I may be a stranger, but that doesn't mean strangers can't care. Take care of yourself! :)
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:iconag221b:
AG221b Featured By Owner Jan 24, 2018
I don't want to be rude, you have to be my favorite artist and main inspiration, but in my experience, the successful artists they are just guys with born talent, luck and money, that are privileged and have every opportunity to be successful, so any tip you can give me is useless if I do not have the rest.
some of us were simply born to fail.
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:iconronindude:
RoninDude Featured By Owner Jan 24, 2018  Professional Digital Artist
I remember when I used to think like that.

I used to look at artists I admired and think "Wow, are they lucky. Lucky to be born with such talent, in a life where such great support and opportunities were available to them." But now, after years of failure, sacrifice, persistence, and an obsession that was borderline unhealthy, I finally learned the truth. I was dead wrong. It's funny how ignorance can make you so confident in the things you know nothing about. But that's how it goes. 

I didn't have support, growing up. I was constantly told that artists were losers who lived alone and poor. We didn't have any internet at home (early 90's), so no online galleries to look at. The only inspiration available was my Nintendo Power magazines and video game cover/handbook art. I had to draw in secret, because I was constantly ridiculed for the things I drew. 

I didn't know a thing about how to make a living at art.
I just knew that other people were doing it, and that it must be because they were born into lucky situations. For me, my life was on rails. I was pulled out of school to join my father's roofing company, and ended up doing that sort of work for years. Close to a decade, actually. Roofing, logging, construction, demolition... It seemed that this was the fate I was given. When I finally got the internet, I had to watch other people be successful, while I was stuck in my labor job. No high school diploma, and no idea how to change my fate. 

I wasn't very good at art. At least, not for a long while. I was self taught, I didn't know the value of studying the fundamentals. With no access to teachers, and no support at home, I just tried to figure things out on my own. I would look at any scrap of cartoon or anime art I could find, and mimic that, trying to learn. But it was slow going. I started drawing regularly when I was 12, and I am 34 now. But I only really started to learn good practice habits in the last 5 years. 

I struggled. Not just to improve as an artist, but just to survive. When I was young, my family fell on hard times, because of some bad decisions my father made. We were homeless for a few years. Some of us had to sleep outside, at times. I've lived, trapped with terrible people, who have done terrible things to good people. The whole time, I worked 12-16 hour days, on roofs, in the woods, or anywhere else we could find work. At night, I would go home and work on art by candle light, until I passed out, because we could not afford electricity.

Eventually, I got out of that situation, and was able to afford some internet and electricity. That's when I found DeviantArt. I learned that there were artists offering commissions, and I tried my hand at it. But unfortunately, I had no idea what I was doing, so I failed. I failed for many years, and got taken advantage of, again and again. There were times when I would just give up. I said "fuck it". There's no way I can do this. It's just not my fate. I have no idea what I am doing, and there's no way to learn. Everyone I asked for help would ignore me. I just wanted a little direction, but no one would say a word of useful advice. Eventually, I got injured, and had to quite working labor jobs. I got married, and moved back to my home town. I wanted to try again with doing art commissions for a living, but after failing so much, I just gave up. I stopped drawing for a couple of years, entirely.

I started working at a cellular phone retail job, as a salesman. I didn't know a thing about selling, but they trained me. I ended up doing well, but I hated it. I just wanted to do art. But after so many years of trying, I just didn't know how. It was something other people could do. Something available to them. But not to me. So I started to settle in life. 

I gained weight. I started drinking more. I put aside my ambitions. I stopped calling myself an artist. I hadn't drawn for years, so how could I be an artist? my work sucked, anyways, and no one wanted it. Even after 15 years of constant practice (and 2 years of nothing), I just sucked. I saw online artists who were in their teens or early 20's who were better than me. They had supportive parents that paid for art school, or they were just more talented than me. They had a shot. They were lined up for such an opportunity. But I most certainly wasn't. 

Still, that just didn't sit well with me. Around the end of 2012, I started getting this reoccurring dream of seeing myself in my office at work, from the security camera. It was playing in fuzzy black and white, at high speed. I could see myself from behind, at my desk, busily marking papers and inputting inventory into the computer. As the camera feed continued to play at high speed, I could see myself getting older and older, as days flew by, with me spending all that time on this soulless task. eventually, I wasn't there. I had died, and someone else came to take my place. I saw my life flash before my eyes, and it was devoid of any meaning. I would wake up in a cold sweat, again and again, from this dream. 

On New Years, 2013, I made my first new year's resolution. I would try again at doing art. And this time, I wouldn't give up. I had no idea what I was going to do, or how I was going to do it. But if other people could do it, then so would I. So I started drawing every night, to practice. I looked up tutorial videos and techniques on how to learn. These things were not available to me before, and so they proved a great resource. I learned how to practice the right way, from other people who knew what they were doing. I started posted art again, and for the first time, I did get lucky. I got contacted by a toy company to draw some designs for zombie dolls, and they accepted my bid. Full of excitement, I put in my notice of resignation at my retail job, turning down a promotion from assistant manager to manager. I was going all in. 

The next few months were great. I learned a lot, and did well with the toy company, working as a freelancer. I wasn't being paid well, and I was putting in insane hours to make the deadlines, but my bills were covered, and I was actually drawing and making a living! They even flew me out to Philadelphia to a comic con, where I got to meet some movie stars and big wigs of Hollywood. It was very inspiring. Unfortunately, it didn't last. the company ended up imploding shortly after the convention, and I was left unpaid, for over $10k worth of work. I had bills due, and I had no money. But I didn't want to give up what I had experienced. So I pressed on. 

I spent the next year and a half struggling, and failing. My wife and I had to ration our food, and I wanted to quit, week after week. But my wife encouraged me to go on. I felt ashamed that I was not providing for my family, but she was very supportive. She got a part time job, and we still struggled. Every trip to the grocery store, we had to make our money go as far as we could. I used to carry a calculator to make sure we didn't over spend, often trying to make $40 last for several weeks. We were constantly falling behind on bills, and juggling which ones to pay, before they shut off services. Sometimes we did lose power, or water, because we just couldn't afford it. 

But I kept going. I got obsessed. I went without sleep. I didn't play games or watch tv or go out to socialize. I was so afraid of giving up, that I just kept laser focused on trying to succeed. I learned to accept failure as part of the learning process. And eventually, I started to make headway. I didn't do it on my own, either. I had the emotional support of my wife and friends. I had the training support from people who were making tutorials or talking about the industry do's and don'ts, online. I soaked up all the knowledge I could, and experimented with my business. I tried to make sense of it, and over the 2 years since I quite my retail job, I finally started to make some headway. We started to catch up on bills. We started to be able to replace our threadbare clothes. We finally started to be able to go out once a month for pizza. And slowly but surely, I made it over the hump. I started feeling confident about my process, because I was seeing results. Results I could replicate, and understand. Now, nearly 5 years after I quite my retail job, and after countless attempts and failures, I have reached a level of success with my art that I never thought possible, before. 

So I was wrong about what I thought, before, just as you are wrong. If you have read this far, then thank you for taking the time to listen. I hope that someday, you can find the courage to keep trying. Work hard, but also, work smart. Learn, and expand your knowledge. The world, and all it's truths, are much more vast than your present understanding will allow you to see. Best of luck to you, but above all, don't give up. 
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:iconag221b:
AG221b Featured By Owner Jan 24, 2018
Just Wow... I did not even expect an answer, I appreciate you taking the time to respond.

I hope you do not think I'm just a pessimist,
right now I'm at a point where I want to be an artist and I also have to worry about the bills. At this moment I have to borrow money to make ends meet, my situation is very precarious and I have given up a lot, everything in order to be an artist someday, Maybe that's why I feel so frustrated, I'm betting my whole life on this.

I will not bore you telling you how life is for a poor child in a third world country at war, but I will tell you that I really feel identified with your story, it really inspires me. I've been inspired by your work for years, even before I started to draw, I never thought that your art had such a difficult history behind.
You have given me a lot to think about, I'm an idiot, I thought I was not good enough to even show my work to someone (and maybe that's true) but after this, I'll keep trying.

I'm not good with words, I can only say thank you.
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:iconronindude:
RoninDude Featured By Owner Jan 24, 2018  Professional Digital Artist
I don't think you are an idiot. I think you were speaking from a place of pain and despair, and I have felt that pain, myself. I will never know what it's like to live your life, but I do know what it is like to be discouraged, and to feel like the whole world was built against you. Like fate itself won't let you escape, no matter how hard you struggle. But sooner or later, if you keep your eyes open, you will learn to see the little opportunities for change and growth, opening up around you. It takes a trained eye to see them, but they are there. But you can only find them if you don't give up, and continue to better yourself. So don't give up! Get mad, get fired up, get inspired... whatever it takes! Just don't give up. 

I also want to say that your art has a lot of potential! So keep working at it. Try and fail, and try again. keep on trying and failing, and learn from those failures. When something doesn't work, take a moment and ask yourself "what lessons can I learn from this that will help me improve?" Failure is nothing to fear. Failure happens when we push ourselves to our limits. And if you never push yourself to your limit, you can never expand those limits. It's like exercise. If you want to get stronger, you have to push yourself to your limit, again and again. You have to push yourself to failure, because that's where the adaptation happens, and you get stronger from it. Sooner or later, you find that you can go farther than you used to, because you've adapted and grown stronger. Be smart about your life, make sure you are taking care of your survival, but never be afraid to fail. It might mean working harder than you ever thought you could. It will certainly mean making sacrifices. But if you keep at it, pay attention and be smart about it, you will learn how to succeed. I truly wish the best for you, my fellow artist. :)
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:iconmleth:
MLeth Featured By Owner Jan 24, 2018  Hobbyist Digital Artist
This has to take the cake for the most outrageous statement I've seen on anything art-related. No one has been more influential and good for my personal growth AND for my art growth than Ronin. I didn't think I was able to do commissions, let alone do one piece of artwork every single day for months (which I did in 2016). I was in a darkness I didn't know I was in and Ronin pulled me out of it.
I'm telling you this because you saying that we as "successful" artists are born into our success is not only rude but insanely disrespectful if you knew what both me and Ronin has gone through in our lives to get to where we are. You're not given success on a platter - You work fucking hard to get anywhere and sometimes you fail but you get right up and you keep at it. You won't get successful by having a hopeless attitude saying that all people who are successful just fell into it by luck alone. 
Again, Ronin's life was in pieces for years before he said "Fuck this, I'm going to do something with my life" and threw everything else aside to be a self-sustained artist. His story should be an inspiration to you, not a way for you to say "Well shit, I wasn't born successful, lucky, talented and with inheritance money out the ass so I'll never amount to anything."

I know there must be something in you that makes you tired of not improving as fast as you'd like. Judging by the artwork in your gallery you have a good stepping stone! 
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:iconag221b:
AG221b Featured By Owner Jan 24, 2018
Oh boy... I hope you can apologize, it was not my intention to offend...
It's just is really been a struggle for me trying to be an artist. I'm an idiot, I did not know Ronin's story, I feel identified with it and if he succeeds, I think that I can too, despite everything.

Btw I've been a big fan of both of you for a long time (for years actually), it's the first time I've spoken to you, I guess now you both have a bad first impression of me, I think I really ruined it.
It's kind of funny, in my moments of optimism I have come to fantasize with work with you, you know, make collabs and art trades, I guess now that will never happen... hehe I literally said to myself "Someday I will be like RoninDude or Mleth" it sounds silly but it's totally true, I do not want to be like Artgerm or Sakimichan nor like any of the overrated artists on DA, for some reason I like what you do over any other.
But yeah, I fucked up. 
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:iconmleth:
MLeth Featured By Owner Edited Jan 25, 2018  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Hey, I admit I went a bit overboard with my reply but it was just rubbing me the wrong way is all haha. At first I was considering if you were being serious or not. 
Life throws shit at you and sometimes you're not given the "right" cards to play a good game with right off the bat but the more you play the more chance you have at acquiring those better cards. My impression of you isn't ruined since you seem to now have been given a new perspective through me and Ronin (mostly Ronin cus he sure knows how to speak his mind hehe). I wasn't going to say anything and I didn't mean for it to look like we were ganging up on you - Again, I just wanted to give my two cents!
I'm glad to hear you do have inspirations in the art world however and don't hesitate to ask them for any advice. More often than not you'll be given some tips and tricks you weren't aware of that could help you out a lot! So yeah, maybe it was a good thing that you wrote your comment now that you've been given a new perspective hoho. Don't give up, my dude.
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:icontoshiosu:
Toshiosu Featured By Owner Jan 22, 2018  Professional Traditional Artist
Id love to see something that you mentioned in your last journal, about those artist that create an emotional connection with the audience and how we can do the same.

Keep the great work, dude.
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:iconronindude:
RoninDude Featured By Owner Jan 22, 2018  Professional Digital Artist
Thanks for the kind words!

I actually went a bit into making a connection with your audience, in this journal: 
Tips for Artists - Building your Audience!

It's not that hard to make an emotional connection to your audience. It's really just a matter of replying and talking to them, the same way you would with anyone you intend to be friendly with, in your daily life. Of course, for some people, that's easy, and for others, it's not. I know a few people who have said it's hard to make new friends. But in truth, it really isn't. For example, my wife and I like to walk to the corner store, every so often, to buy snacks. It's a nice little break to step out of the house and get some exercise and fresh air. When we go to buy our snacks, we always make a point to say a few friendly words to the teller. After a few months of doing that, we've grown a friendly relationship with the tellers we speak to. They also are more willing to help us with little things, like remembering to order that special bag of chocolate almonds I always buy, when the stock get's low. I feel like it wouldn't be a huge leap to invite them over for a board game night, every now and then.

I go to the corner store to buy/consume their products, but I also have spent time building a relationship with the people who work there. Because of the time we have invested, they say hi to us when we enter, and it feels more welcoming than other stores, because of the relationship we have built. I am more likely to shop there, because I feel more comfortable around the people who work there. There is of course, one person who just doesn't respond to us. We try to be as friendly as possible, but they are just a blank wall. After a few months of trying to build some kind of relationship with that teller, we finally gave in and just decided to give them space. We are still friendly, of course, but we don't go out of our way to strike up conversations with that teller, either. They honestly look miserable, and I hope that they can find their way into a life that makes them happy. 

I think you can use my example as a parallel, when considering your relationship to your audience, as an artist. The responsive artists who go out of their way to make a connection with their fans are like the tellers who enjoy the friendly chat, while tallying up the cost of snacks. The friendly tellers at our corner store end up attracting positive attention, and get remembered, even when my wife and I aren't at the store. Such activity attracts not only other people, but other opportunities, too. This is the power of being responsive to your audience. I hope I explained that well enough to show the connection. :)

If you aren't an open person, then perhaps that's something to work on. After all, having an audience means being (at least in some way) in front of people. You don't have to talk about personal stuff, but having friendly conversation or replies every now and then helps let them know you are a person, too. and people like to invest in other people. 
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:icontoshiosu:
Toshiosu Featured By Owner Jan 22, 2018  Professional Traditional Artist
Oh, thank you SO much. That was way more than I was expecting, I really mean that. =]
Actually, what you said just made me thing more about my personal life than the artist one, and this is GREAT, haha.

Just to be sure, repplying and paying attention to the audience is what you mean when you wrote this in your last article:

"The common factor in their art is that their work is hyper-effective in getting an emotional response, regardless of the art piece. Their skills apply to an appeal that resides on a meta level. "

??
Like I said, just to be sure.


Thanks again, really really thanks for taking part of your time to help others =]
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:iconronindude:
RoninDude Featured By Owner Jan 23, 2018  Professional Digital Artist
Oh, no, I thought you were referring to the last paragraph, "Showing love to your tribe". That's what I was speaking about, in my previous reply to you, about communicating to your audience. 

The line that you quoted was from an earlier part of the article, where I was talking about the benefits of posting focused content. I went into the benefits of doing so in the article, but the line you quoted was about how artistic masters don't really have to worry about this. Their work is so amazingly good, it just speaks to everyone on a soul touching level, no matter what it is. If they are drawing characters, or landscapes, or advertisements, or whatever, it's done with a masterful understanding of how to speak to a person's soul. My point is that, while this level of mastery is always a good thing to strive for, it's not always accessible, at least, within a reasonable time frame. Furthermore, you don't have to, if you just follow a few little tricks to increase your efficiency, which I outlined in that article. I'd like to eventually talk about the kinds of things to focus on, if you want that level of mastery (I am still learning in that regard, too!), but it will be a big topic to tackle. 

The main point of that part of the article was to say that, if you are an artist that is offering character commissions, then it benefits you to focus your posting around character art. If you are wanting to get hired as a landscape artist, then you should be posting landscapes. this will attract a focused target audience that will be more likely to listen when you offer products or services related to your target content. As an example, if half of your audience follows you for character art, and the other half follows you for the cosplay you post, then you are only ever going to get 50 percent of your audience to respond (at best), to any given product or service you offer. 

I hope that clarifies what I was saying, in the article! :)
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:icontoshiosu:
Toshiosu Featured By Owner Jan 29, 2018  Professional Traditional Artist
Oh, I really got it now

Thank you SO much for taking the time to help me =]
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:iconronindude:
RoninDude Featured By Owner Jan 29, 2018  Professional Digital Artist
You are very welcome! 
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:icontoshiosu:
Toshiosu Featured By Owner Jan 22, 2018  Professional Traditional Artist
I was reffering to this part:
"The common factor in their art is that their work is hyper-effective in getting an emotional response, regardless of the art piece. Their skills apply to an appeal that resides on a meta level"


I REALLY hope you talk about this soon (If you can give some wisdom here about it while you don't write about it in more deep I'll be very glad)
.
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:iconfan4battle:
fan4battle Featured By Owner Jan 11, 2018
Ok, one thing I don't see discussed is file management. I do a lot of sketching, and sometimes a lot of versions of my work files (so that I can go back if I mess something up). I usually like to arrange everything in chronological order, so that it's easy to see progression, I used to title all my files with the date first, and then name. I've sometimes started to get lost trying to find a particular file. Do you have a system for naming and managing your files that you can recommend? I know probably everyone should figure out what works for them, but if they don't, a different perspective might help. 
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:iconronindude:
RoninDude Featured By Owner Jan 11, 2018  Professional Digital Artist
Well I feel that file management isn't necessarily a huge stumbling block for artists trying to make a career out of their passion, so it's not really been a topic of great importance, to me. 

However...

I tend to keep some folders that are basically archives for past years, and then I have some folders that are for current projects, such as Patreon, Public galleries, Commissions, etc. So my different folders are like this:
- I have an entire folder for commission work, with client sub-folders. each client sub-folder has project sub-folders, if I have worked with them multiple times.
- I have an entire folder for Patreon works, with sub-folders for advertisement templates, and sub-folders for year/month/reward types.  (because this is how the rewards are separated).
- I have a folder full of the current year's art and WIP projects that are for posting to public galleries.

...and so on. 

As far as individual file naming systems, I tend to put the date first, then whatever title. That keeps me from having to be too creative with titles, and it doesn't matter if I have a file named "2017-6-17_elf_girl" from May, and another named "2017-12-31_elf_girl", because each starts with the date it was sketched. Once I am done working on any drawings, I put all the work files (.sai or .psd) into a sub-folder called "WIP". That way I know that if I see a work file among the image thumbnails of any given folder, it's a drawing I haven't finished. 

I am constantly finding ways to rearrange my folder and file organization, so I really don't have a lot of wisdom to offer, in terms of best practices in this regard. Just do what makes sense to you. XD
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:icondandamian:
DanDamian Featured By Owner Jan 11, 2018  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I read through your comments on 'not good enough' that has really given me a lot to think about. I think my fear of 'finishing' work is the fact that I feel like the person I'm drawing for will feel that its 'not good enough' or that I'll mess it up last minute. 

Thank you so much for putting your time into these journals. My goal is to make at least part of my living -perhaps all at some point- off my art. I bought a fancy tablet as a good step to that, and now I just need to get over this odd 'fear' of mine. And reading your feedback to others and your journals is inching me to that resolution. Thank you. 

Happy Thursday, by the way. 
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:iconronindude:
RoninDude Featured By Owner Jan 11, 2018  Professional Digital Artist
Hey there! I am so glad you are finding these ramblings of mine useful! My goal is to give people actionable advice that they can not only follow, but understand WHY they should follow it, as well. We can start our journey by mimicking those who we follow, but true mastery comes from understanding. 

If you fear finishing your work because you are worried that it won't be "good enough" for the person you are drawing for... then consider only drawing for yourself, until you have built confidence in your technique and results. If you are worried that you need to do request art or kiribans or commissions to grow your audience, then rest assured, that you don't have to do any of those things to watch your audience grow. You just have to post great art on a regular basis. If it's easier for you to post the work that you do for yourself, then do that. Focus on self improvement, first, and build that confidence! 

One tip I have for building confidence in the creative process is to build a method or system for how you create your work. This system can (and should) be adjusted and improved upon as you learn. I am talking about how you construct your sketches, how you use your layers in the art program, how you build up your scenes, how you color, etc. I am talking about the actual steps you take to create a drawing. Build a process of steps that you use when creating your work that you can be accountable for. I know a lot of artists who just sort of add layers here and there, with no rhyme or reason. To a degree, that sort of experimentation is useful, if it's done with the intent of finding or improving a process. But those same artists tend to get nervous about some drawings, as they find themselves getting lost in their own nebulous process. I was the same way, until I learned the value of having a step-by-step process. And remember, a process can and should be changed and optimized, as you learn. But it's easier to assess the strengths and weaknesses of a process that is clearly defined, than one that is chaotic and nebulous. I like to think of my creative process like a machine, and my techniques are the parts. If I find a better working technique, I just swap out my current one, and it works better. This is because I understand my machine, and so I am qualified to make those repairs/adjustments. 

Anyways, that's one way I know to improve confidence in one's work. Confidence comes from understanding the process. You know how to read, you understand the process, so you can look at a piece of literature and say "yes, I can read that". It's the same for art, or really, anything. Understand the process, and you will be more confident. 

I hope that helps! 
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:iconfan4battle:
fan4battle Featured By Owner Jan 11, 2018
Another profound piece of advice. Too often I just throw new layers and effects around, sometimes getting lost in the hurry to be quick... I really appreciate your teaching of the methodical approach to this and the rest, it seems it took you a while and lots of hit and miss to figure it out by yourself, and you're giving us this pure wisdom so that we don't have to figure it out by banging our heads on the wall. By the way, right now there is this #Learnuary initiative (Here's how YOU can JOIN IN with #LEARNUARY!), Maybe you could start tagging your posts with it and they'll reach more people.

Also the "good enough" post is gold. 
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:iconronindude:
RoninDude Featured By Owner Jan 11, 2018  Professional Digital Artist
Just doing my best to share what I know! Glad you find it useful. :)
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:iconbrianladouceur:
BrianLadouceur Featured By Owner Jan 10, 2018
I'm glad you've found success as an artist finally! Thank you for sharing these tips! I always look forward to them.
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:iconronindude:
RoninDude Featured By Owner Jan 11, 2018  Professional Digital Artist
Thank you! It was hard work, but I stuck with it and learned a lot. Now I have a great tool box of understanding to take with me, as I move forward. I am just trying to share that with others, because I know how frustrating it can be. :)
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:icondesmond-the-patient:
Desmond-the-Patient Featured By Owner Jan 8, 2018  Student Digital Artist
How to build confidence on your work?

I get the tendency of be... bee.... Errr... Belittle (I think is the word) my work when thinking about open up for comissions and such, and many others do the same or even refrain from opening comissions at all for believeing their work is not good enough.

How do you get past that mental barrier?
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:iconronindude:
RoninDude Featured By Owner Edited Jan 8, 2018  Professional Digital Artist
If you don't think your work is "good enough", it's worth unpacking that, a bit.

What constitutes "good enough"? Consider making "good enough" into a complete sentence. Good enough for what? Do you have a tangible goal for this assessment? If you are just drawing to have fun, then "good enough" might be when you are having fun. "Good enough... to have fun while drawing". If you are trying to tell a story, then "good enough" might become "good enough to tell a story". If you are trying to sell commissions, then "good enough" might become "good enough to attract commission clients" or "good enough to charge reasonable rates". Now that you have a complete sentence that includes a goal, it becomes easier to see what you need to do to get "good enough" to fulfill that goal. 

If you can't find a good way to complete the sentence of "good enough", then maybe the issue is that you have unclear or unrealistic expectations. The problem, then, is that you don't have a clear goal for your art. So make one, or several! Then you have some actual marks to aim for, and can reasonably estimate if your work is actually "good enough", or if you are just being hard on yourself. 

Now, what if you set a goal, and realize that your work really isn't "good enough" for what you want to do with it? That's ok! It's ok to recognize that you have room for improvement. That's how we know what needs to be done to improve. Concerning the act of offering commissions, I think it's actually better to recognize when your work could use improvement, instead of just having a false sense of confidence that makes you feel like your work is "good enough" when your audience might not think so. After all, when it comes to offering commissions, it doesn't really matter if you think you are good enough... It matters if your potential clients think you are good enough. That's an important distinction, and you need to be mindful of this. 

So, if you want your work to be "good enough to offer commissions", I recommend that you really take a critical look at your work. Compare your work to others in your industry that are succeeding at the level you want to succeed at. If you can honestly say that your work is comparable, than it's likely that the issue is that your audience is too small. So grow your audience! But if you see that your work is not up to industry standards of quality, then comparing your work to other successful artists can be a useful way to measure what you could do to improve. 

It's important for an artist to be able to compare their work to the work of others without becoming envious or depressed. For me, I never get depressed or upset when I compare my work to others. Even when I was very young and just started my artistic journey. I would say to myself "If they can do this, so can I! I just have to learn!" and it was true. I just had to put in the time and work. So don't be afraid to compare your work to others in a critical way, and learn! Pay attention to that voice in your head that is asking you to improve, and don't ignore it because it's not showering you with praise. Sometimes, we have to listen to the part of our mind that tells us we could be better. Just don't beat yourself up over it! Set a goal, love the journey, and all the challenges along the way. :)

Best of luck to you! 
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:icondevouron:
Devouron Featured By Owner Jan 7, 2018  Student Digital Artist
I just wonder how did you find this cute and creative art style, I'm lost on how to find mine, care to share some tips? Thanks!
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:iconronindude:
RoninDude Featured By Owner Jan 7, 2018  Professional Digital Artist
Well, I was looking for questions based on making a living as an artist, but to answer your question, I didn't really look for a style. I just draw what I like. Style, to me, is like a thumbprint. It's unique to each person.

Style is a combination of an artist's technical problem solving methods, creative process, and personal aesthetics. I learned the fundamentals, and then I did two things: I looked at work I liked, and I experimented. If I like how one artist does lines, and how another artist does expressions, and how another artist does lighting, and I experiment on the things I can grasp from each, all the while using my personal taste as a guide, I end up coming up with my own style. So it's organic, for me.

I suppose you could construct your style systemically, and I guess it happens that way whether you want to or not, but for me, I never really put a lot of thought into it. So asking me how I got to my style is like asking me why I grew up to look how I do. It just kinda happened, organically. Sure, you can sculpt your body to a degree, but your genetics are gonna do what they are gonna do. I feel artistic style is very similar. But that's just how I feel about it. ;)
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:iconfan4battle:
fan4battle Featured By Owner Jan 11, 2018
Another one for the F.A.Q. :) Really well articulated explanation, much more appealing than the shocking "All artists steal" one. 
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:iconronindude:
RoninDude Featured By Owner Jan 11, 2018  Professional Digital Artist
Glad you find it useful! 
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:icondevouron:
Devouron Featured By Owner Jan 8, 2018  Student Digital Artist
Haha thank you for your touching comment, your art style is amazing and I'm glad it grew on you, stay awesome my dude of ronins!
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:iconronindude:
RoninDude Featured By Owner Jan 8, 2018  Professional Digital Artist
Thanks a lot, and I am glad you got something out of my ramblings. XD
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:iconbeastjager:
Beastjager Featured By Owner Jan 7, 2018  Professional Digital Artist
This is quite an interesting way of looking at it.. Nicely said, mate.

I am definitely gonna take this into consideration for working on my own style, thanks for the advice :)
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:iconronindude:
RoninDude Featured By Owner Jan 8, 2018  Professional Digital Artist
You are welcome! 
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:iconbrother-tico:
Brother-Tico Featured By Owner Jan 7, 2018  Professional Digital Artist
I'm looking forward to know all these topics about art marketing :)
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:iconronindude:
RoninDude Featured By Owner Jan 7, 2018  Professional Digital Artist
Glad to hear it! 
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:iconfantasyrebirth96:
FantasyRebirth96 Featured By Owner Jan 7, 2018
Do you mind giving some light feedback on my recent work? Pros and Cons? I plan on putting some more effort in my work daily this year (hopefully for the years to come)
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:iconronindude:
RoninDude Featured By Owner Jan 7, 2018  Professional Digital Artist
The purpose of this journal was to find topics related to an art career that I could write an article about, not to give individual gallery critique. 

That being said, I only really have one bit of advice that I give everyone, when they ask me for art critique: 

Draw a lot. At least 15 minutes a day, or more if you can. 

Do realism photo studies.
Draw more from real life, and not so much from other people's art. Learn from the source, and take what you learn to make your cartoons better. This means doing realism studies, to understand shapes through light and shadow, learning proportions, anatomy, and gesture. Learn the fundamentals, so that you can bend them stylistically with purpose, instead of just mimicking the work of others. Understand the reason behind the stylization, instead of mimicking. I say that a lot, but often it's ignored. You can still learn a lot from studying other artist's styles, but if you don't learn the fundamentals first, you are not really understanding the reason for why they draw things the way they do. You are just parroting them. Understanding is much better, and that comes through studying the source: Real life. Even if you want to do cartoons or anime, or any heavily stylized type of art. 

These two things are what I did to really improve my work. My work did not improve significantly until I bit the bullet and did these two things. Then it really grew quickly. 

I hope that helps! 
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:iconfantasyrebirth96:
FantasyRebirth96 Featured By Owner Jan 24, 2018
Oh I see~ Okay 15 minutes a day! Got it!
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:iconronindude:
RoninDude Featured By Owner Jan 24, 2018  Professional Digital Artist
Yep! At least. Likely, you will end up spending longer than that, but dedicating at least 15 minutes opens the door to a more regular habit of drawing and studying. 

And I can't say this enough: don't underestimate learning your fundamentals, namely, studying from real life! That is where the true meat of progress lies. Realism studies will go far to help even a cartoonist to understand how lines and and shapes and form play out. It's much more effective than just looking at other anime or cartoon styles, at least, in the beginning. Later, when you have a strong grasp of the fundamentals, you will be able to get more out of studying other artist's styles, because you will better understand the decisions behind the style. 
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:iconfantasyrebirth96:
FantasyRebirth96 Featured By Owner Feb 4, 2018
Right right. The other day I drew my left hand so that's a start.
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:iconronindude:
RoninDude Featured By Owner Feb 5, 2018  Professional Digital Artist
That's a great start! 
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:iconfan4battle:
fan4battle Featured By Owner Jan 11, 2018
You should do an F.A.Q., this answer should probably be somewhere on the top. 
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:iconronindude:
RoninDude Featured By Owner Jan 11, 2018  Professional Digital Artist
At some point, perhaps! Though I feel it's more useful to write individual articles on specific topics, and just link to them with a list, on each of these "Tips for Artists" journals. Otherwise, it'd be a massive wall of text. XD
I answer individual questions, and if a question comes up more than a few times, I add it to me "to-do" list of articles to write in more detail. 
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