Transition Into Illustration: Breaking Into The Industry | Ohn Mar Win | Skillshare

Transition Into Illustration: Breaking Into The Industry

Ohn Mar Win, Illustrator surface designer teacher

Transition Into Illustration: Breaking Into The Industry

Ohn Mar Win, Illustrator surface designer teacher

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27 Lessons (2h 36m)
    • 1. Introduction

      2:33
    • 2. Project and Class Materials

      4:15
    • 3. What is an illustrator ?

      3:13
    • 4. My Story and Timeline

      6:46
    • 5. Goals: My Story

      5:01
    • 6. Goals: Finding Yours

      7:04
    • 7. Inspiration and Considerations

      5:09
    • 8. Income: How Much Do You Need When Transitioning

      6:06
    • 9. Passive Income: My Story

      6:35
    • 10. Passive Income: Considerations

      5:32
    • 11. Attitude: Be Led by Fun, not Fear

      5:19
    • 12. Improving Skills: My Story

      6:38
    • 13. Improving Skills: Things I Wish I'd Known

      7:21
    • 14. Finding a Community

      6:13
    • 15. Mentors and Asking for Advice

      6:07
    • 16. Pros and Cons of a Single Style or Niche

      6:48
    • 17. Becoming Businesslike: First Steps

      5:27
    • 18. Marketing and Social Media

      7:35
    • 19. Income Streams and Earnings Breakdown

      5:37
    • 20. Editorial and Publishing

      7:34
    • 21. Branding and Packaging

      5:40
    • 22. Art Licensing and Surface Design

      5:11
    • 23. Teaching

      5:03
    • 24. Clients: Finding and Contacting

      5:57
    • 25. Clients: Fees and Negotiating

      7:50
    • 26. Self Care

      5:26
    • 27. Final Thoughts

      4:26
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About This Class

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Does having a successful illustration business that supports your needs fully sound like a dream come true? If you're struggling to make this a reality or curious where to start then welcome to this class.

8 years ago I was a stay at home mum with two small kids, yet over time I’ve become an in demand illustrator by sharing my gifts and talents with the world. And this is the first time I’ve revealed my entire illustration story anywhere! Although there isn’t a single set route to a successful illustration career, I can share my personal insights and experiences to give you a realistic understanding of what to expect. 

Reaching your own illustration goals can be taken step by step. The first half of the class is dedicated to laying the foundations, then building momentum to boost your skills and expand your outlook. You’ll be tasked with imagining what an ideal illustration career looks like for you.

There is a super handy 12 Part Transition Into Illustration Worksheets pdf which you can download to help you with defining your gifts and talents and how you can impart your unique passions into your illustration work. And a you can download my timeline to see major highlights of my transition journey. 

The later lessons Include tips that I’ve picked up from my own experience:

- marketing & social media

- setting up different income streams

- negotiating fees

- pros and cons of working with one style.

There are lessons on positioning your illustration for the markets you’d love to work in and contacting clients. And my personal experience with self care practices as an illustrator.

Whether you're just starting out as a freelancer, wanting to build your income and quit your day job, or are an established illustrator looking for extra tips and tricks, this class is for you!

MY OTHER CLASSES MENTIONED IN THE VIDEOS

Set Creative Goals - First Steps to Success

Leverage Pinterest for Your Creative Business: Strategies for Attracting Clients

Bringing Your Patterns into Photoshop : a Toolkit for Digitizing Your Work

Food Illustration : Design Your Favourite Fruity Recipe

ARTISTS MENTIONED IN THIS CLASS

Top Teacher Stephanie Fizer Coleman and her WEBSITE

Top Teacher Nic Sqirrell and her WEBSITE

Heather Dutton on Spoonflower and her WEBSITE

Artist Zoe Ingram 

USEFUL LINKS

Association of Illustrators

Graphic Artists Guild Handbook: Pricing & Ethical Guidelines

This Is Marketing - Seth Godin 

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Ohn Mar Win

Illustrator surface designer teacher

Top Teacher

 Hello I'm Ohn Mar a UK based illustrator and surface designer with a long and varied 20 year career. I started out many moons ago as in house designer producing greetings cards, stationery and moonlighting as a editorial illustrator for lifestyle magazine. These days I'm is primarily known for her textural foodie images, which have now appeared on branding  and packaging projects for clients from the US, Canada, Europe, and SE Asia. I was lucky enough to have The Most Gorgeous Cookbook Ever printed, a book of 30 of my own illustrated recipes.  I have had the pleasure of also illustrated cookery titles for Kyle Books, Sterling/ Barnes and Noble, Quarto Publishing,  and The Sunday Times magazine. Furthermore I was honoured to have my foodie ar... See full profile

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Transcripts

1. Introduction: Ruby, you need to get out of my show. Oh, my word. Does having a successful illustration business that supports your needs really sound like a dream come true? If you're struggling to make this a reality or curious about where to start, then welcome to this class. I'm Ohn Mar and I'm an artist, illustrator, and top teacher here on Skillshare. Eight years ago, I was a stay-at-home mom with two small kids, yet overtime, I have built up my illustration business by sharing my gifts and talents with the world. This is the first time I have revealed my entire illustration story anywhere. Starting out, I was not the most talented or organized and I didn't have any social media, but I did have potential, so I took persistent action which has resulted in becoming an in-demand illustrator for giftware, cards, food packaging, and even a project with UNICEF. Reaching your own illustration goals can be taken step-by-step. The first half of this class is dedicated laying the foundations, then building momentum to boost your skills and expand your outlook. You'll be tasked with imagining what an ideal illustration career looks like for you, then putting systems in place using Pinterest, worksheets and charts that I'll provide so that you can harness your unique passions. Although there isn't a single route to a successful illustration career, I can share my personal insights and experiences to give you a realistic understanding of what to expect. The later lessons include tips that I picked up from my own experience, negotiating fees and the pros and cons of working with one style. There are lessons on positioning your illustration for the markets you'd love to work in, and I'll show you a breakdown of my different income streams. Whether you're just starting out as a freelancer, wanting to build your income and quit your day job, or you're an established illustrator looking for extra tips and tricks, this is the class for you. By the end of this class, you'll have a clear understanding of your next steps towards a meaningful career. Be ready to think big and wear a few different hats along the way as transforming yourself into an illustration entrepreneur requires we take on many roles. So hold onto your hats. 2. Project and Class Materials : Working as a freelance illustrator can be a financially and creatively rewarding career, but to succeed takes time. You have to be prepared to work hard consistently over several years. As I'll explain in later videos, it all starts with a vision of how you personally want to shape your life and career. I'm sharing my personal highlights and an overview of what you may expect as you establish your illustration career. Your project for this class is to create a Pinterest board of your ideal life and career. Use the Projects and Resources tab to upload your project. I would love to see a screenshot and a link to your Pinterest board of images that support your ideal lifestyle. I would also love to see a chart or diagram that outlines some of the steps you'll need to take to complete a task, perhaps setting up your website or opening an Etsy shop. On the right just here are the project resources where you'll find all the downloadable PDFs you will need for this class. All of these documents will be in the resources section, along with the links to other Skillshare classes that I mention throughout the videos. The full details for both projects are on the PDFs, so I would urge you to download them and fill out the sections where you consider your ideal life along with your unique talents, values, and the type of illustration you would love to create before trying to gather your images on Pinterest. For your Pinterest board include specific experiences that you would like to have, where you want to travel, anything related to health and relationships, and of course, images related to the illustration career of your dreams. Don't be afraid to think big here. If we take a quick look at my board, starting at the bottom, we have a few of my food illustrations. It's really interesting for me to see these held up against some of my favorite illustrators like Mary Blair and Rene Gruau as I do love to work in a sketchy black line first and also the texture is always a big element in my illustrations. Another key point are the type of colors I seem to be attracted to and use myself, and is very similar to the retro stuff that is in this particular section of the board. Moving onto the travel area, which is a really big part of the type of lifestyle I'm aiming for, there are lots of images relating to water, diving, and exploring. Yes, I think the theme of exploration is really strong here and also in quite a spiritual way as symbolized by the bells and candles. Something else I've also realized are the reoccurring images of boats, which are obviously associated with water and also a type of traveling. It looks like I'm drawn to images where the water is calm, almost meditative, which again ties in with quite spiritual side of me. There are also several images of reading which I love to do and of journaling and writing, which I'm doing more and more, and again, I do find it's very calming. Also part of the reason I love cooking is actually the connections that I have when I share meals with my kids, but also the rest of my family and friends. These images at the top relate to the type of spaces I'd love to live in; airy but filled with an eclectic item from my travels, and one day, a huge library wall, just like this one you can see in this image. See if you can find really beautiful photos that resonate with you and support that extraordinary quality of life you deserve. You may find yourself getting carried away in a frenzy of pinning, but overall, 35-45 images should give you a feel of where your interests and passions lie. I'm really interested in seeing your ideal Korean lifestyle. Please upload your boards. That way, I can give you advice and insights, and feedback about how your images can inform you and the type of illustration career you'd like going forward. 3. What is an illustrator ?: At the time of this filming, I've been earning an income from full-time illustration for just over five years. First of all, we need to make a differentiation as the general term artist can refer to a wide range of careers, including illustrators. Although illustrators are considered artists, there is a significant difference between the two. Traditionally, fine artists make their own personal imagery and have the last word on it. While an illustrator will create images for a commercial purpose, such as children's books, catalogs, giftware, packaging, even phone apps, and newspapers amongst many other things. Some illustrators specialize in a particular type of illustration, such as scientific, medical, or technical, so perhaps marine wildlife or mechanical diagrams. Most illustrators often work within several different markets over the course of their career. An illustrator is paid to pictorially portray the client's message or bring their idea to life so that art is created for the purpose of communicating with an audience. The illustrator must problem-solve because the client has a question, which is, how do I get consumers to want my product or support my text? Illustrators will often work closely with an editor or an art director and sometimes an account handler who will give them the brief, which is a description of what they'd like you to illustrate, paint or draw. Within this brief here, will often include technical specification such as CMYK at 300 DPI, along with reference imagery, inspiration, and sometimes words. An illustrator has to turn these ideas or concepts set out in this brief into the final vision for their client. Most illustrators work freelance. For each new client or a new job, payment details and deadlines will be discussed. They will have to submit roughs perhaps over several stages and seek approval from the editor on the project. They will then review and make any revisions if necessary before the artwork is approved at the final stage. What I've described is not what happens every day, unless you're constantly working on endless briefs. Although I would love to sit in my office with endless cups of tea and a warm cat at my feet, the reality is often answering emails, setting up images and texts for social media, along with other admin things like chasing invoices, setting up Zoom calls, and perhaps buying a lot of art supplies in my case. Every illustrator works in different niches or niches if you're American and goes after different types of clients. I think you'll benefit not only from hearing from my experience, but also a little from others who have built successful illustration careers, but in different ways. 4. My Story and Timeline: Some of you may have taken many of my classes here on Skillshare or have followed me on Instagram for a while. But I think very few of you may know the full story from my humble life as a stay at home mom to the successful illustrator you see today. Since so many have asked, I felt this class would be a great opportunity to fool you in with much more of the behind the scene details. It would be really nice if we had infinite time to pursue our dreams, but most of us are working within very real constraints. For me, it was having kids to feed and bills to pay. It's smart to be pragmatic about the time that we have and what it will take to make that shift into a new career. First of all, I would just say a few words about why I use the term transition in the class title. I could quite easily have called this class, how to become a great illustrator. But it wouldn't take into consideration the real world factors. You'll have to weigh up and navigate. Transitions allude to progression or a shift over a passage of time rather than a sudden change. Becoming an illustrator will most likely take up a massive chunk of your time and energy as you travel from where you are now to a point when you are comfortably supporting yourself with the income from your illustration work. Wherever you are in your own life, whether you've just discovered your creativity or pondering your options after your kids have left home. Whatever your circumstances and your experiences, they are all valid. We can only start where we are now, and that's absolutely okay to acknowledge this, as you take steps and move towards becoming a full-time illustrator or creative entrepreneur. I thought it would be really valuable for you to see my journey laid out like this. This is just a quick overview of my particular journey to demonstrate the main events from the birth of my kids, because for me they are always part of the considerations when I make big decisions. In retrospect, I can draw this central line running down the middle. The timeline looks incredibly neat and tidy with these major events for five years from 2013 to 2018 laid out. But the real experience was anything but linear or smooth sailing. After I graduated university in 1996, I was an in-house artists at several greatest card companies, which I really enjoyed. I was also making good income from editorial illustration for lifestyle, health, and beauty magazines. I did fall into this niche by accident because I could draw people and I needed the money. But I did start to resent having to portray the idealized forms. I gave it up a year after my son was born. I then had another baby in 2010. That was the year when Pinterest was launched. Remember that, because I'm going to talk about it later. In 2012, I started to upload old freelance art and icons to Shutterstock image library, and these became the seeds of my passive income. Again, I will talk about this in much more detail soon. 2013 coincided with my daughter being eligible for free nursery sessions, and that's when I made the decision to step back into illustration. That autumn, I took my first intensive five-week online course called, Make Art That Sells, which really set the ball rolling for me. In 2014, I began taking Skillshare classes to improve my skills and techniques. This was followed by my first small but functional website. Then my love affair with the drawing cook and illustrated recipes started. It was an unbelievably pivotal part of my career, and late that year, I made my tiny Instagram account public. Moving onto 2015, I bought my first small scheme sketchbook for the watercolor practice, which I'm known for. March that year, I signed with an art licensing agent. In May of that year, this was exhibited at the Surtax trade show in New York. Following on from that, however, was the breakdown of my marriage and divorce proceedings. It was a really hard time for me personally and professionally, but it was also the start of really big things as I was able to write my first invoices under my own name for several editorial and packaging clients towards the end of 2015. I want to pause here and point out, it took just over two years from taking that initial online course to getting payments for my illustration services. That length of time doesn't look like very much on this chart, but I can tell you a lot had happened. After three years, there was an increase in the large illustration projects, at 2016 sold more food branding work like Marlene's Market and Deli, the Toronto food company. There were also books called the Healthy Hedonist and over a 100 illustrations for sugar detox me another cookery book. In 2016, was my very first Skillshare class as a teacher. It was called, Create Your Own Fruity Illustrated Recipes. In 2017, we have lots more food packaging projects. My jaw hit the floor when a project to work with UNICEF in Myanmar came through, that was really a massive highlight for me. By 2018, I had exhibited at my first solo art licensing show, New York. I had made 19 Skillshare videos. I haven't included everything like the books I read, the classes I took. Otherwise, this timeline would be three times as long. This is just the highlights. In the next set of classes, I'm going to talk more about the root and the decisions I took more in-depth. Buckle up because there is a lot to cover. I hope by sharing some of the specifics of my personal journey, it may help you understand and determine some of the decisions that feel right for you. 5. Goals: My Story: Over the years, I've received many emails and DMs asking what I consider is the most important part of a career in illustration. Folks have wondered if it's having a signature style or a large social media following or reaching out to the right clients. I don't think there is actually one element on its own that will secure a successful career in this field. Rather, it's a whole myriad of factors that need to be considered. An analogy could be covering miles in distance whilst wearing many hats. As an illustrator and business owner, you will have to play many different roles. So one hat for marketing, another for finding clients, one for developing different income streams, and one for self-care, and many more. When starting on this illustration journey, I firmly believe that it's important to have a vision of how you want your personal illustration career to look like in order to be able to shape it. Maybe you would love to work with The New York Times illustrator kids' book, as well as having a career that sustains you financially. For each of us, the successful outcomes will be wildly different, so it's up to you to define what success looks like for you. With this initial vision, you can set out the framework for your transitional journey. Although I'll be sharing my own path, please don't think that yours has to follow or look exactly the same as there is no one single root you have to take to be an illustrator. I've received hundreds of inquiries asking, "How do I get started in illustration?" When I reply, "Have some goals to work towards, have a vision of your ideal life, make lots of work, make some crap work too," eight percent of the time I am met with crickets. I rarely hear back from these people. I'm not sure why this is the case because maybe it wasn't quite the answer they were expecting. Asking yourself what do you want may sound simple enough, but for many of us, it can be quite a tricky question to answer. Your own illustration goals will provide you with strong motivation for embarking on that marathon I mentioned, one that has to keep you going for months and years. In 2012, even before I picked up a brush or pen, I saw what success looked like for me; a thriving illustration business, passive income to cover my bills, holidays with my kids all around the world, and good health. I arrived at these by giving myself time for a life vision exercise where I relaxed and focused on a few key areas that my ideal life would look like. I let my mind wander and saw all manner of things like my art space, which clients I was going to work with, and where I would go on vacation, and I would feel these funny flutters in my chest when I thought of all these things happening in my future. It was really, really powerful for me because in 2012, I was very much a stay-at-home mom with a toddler and a very boisterous seven-year-old, living off very little family income. It was far removed from the lifestyle I have now. You might think, "Alma, this is crazy talk. It sounds like you are daydreaming. When are you actually going to get to the illustration part?" Well, the key was I took action. I wrote down all these daydreams of a stunning lifestyle with this illustration career essentially funding and supporting the travels that I longed for. I saw this transition as part of a huge lifestyle change for myself and my family, pulling us towards a radiant future. Here's my goals book, where I cut out images related to the type of career I wanted and the places I would be visiting. It is incredibly low tech, but I'm convinced it helped me to focus in those early years. Please don't think you have to have everything figured out all at once at the beginning because I certainly didn't. I revisit and evaluate my goals towards the end of each year. These days, I don't have a physical goals book. I create slideshows, where I can view these images on my phone every morning to remind myself what my present goals are. When things looked very uncertain many times during my divorce, my goals not only sustained, but actually strengthened my focus and priorities. So I do urge you to look at your own personal vision wherever you are right now. In the next video section, I'll talk more about arriving at your personal and very unique goals and vision. 6. Goals: Finding Yours: I see goals as statements of our authentic wants and desires. You have to say, here is what success looks like for me. It might not be societies measure of success or your mother's idea of success, so you define what it looks like. This illustration career you're cultivating will be on your terms according to your values. Don't compare it to someone else's career as it has to feel right for you in order to sustain that transition. We all have the potential to be amazing, successful artists and illustrators. But without focus, these abilities will be underused. By setting goals for yourself, there will be less wasted energy shooting aimlessly. Instead, you'll have a better chance of hitting your target and reaching those successful outcomes and your personal priorities. The key to setting goals is to be realistic, yet flexible. You won't get everything done in a day, a month, or even a year. Planning doesn't have to be overwhelming. Start small and work up to the big stuff. It really can be as easy as that, get organized first and things will fall into place more easily. I do have a Skillshare class called Set Creative Goals, which is definitely worth watching or revisiting, defined more in-depth information about the vision exercise that really started the ball rolling for me. Here is my top advice in brief. First of all, write everything down. It's really important that you write down or define what success outcomes you are aiming for. Putting your thoughts in writing, forces you to clarify exactly what you want to achieve. It will guide your daily actions towards that goal achievement. It's worth considering these things when you're brainstorming. I have provided a full list in the PDF section of the class resources. Start with, what would you wish for if you were absolutely confident that you could accomplish it. Then what are your talents? What things can you do better than anybody else? What kind of work do you want to create or become known for as an illustrator? What does your studio or workplace look like? Which clients or manufacturers are you working with? How much income are you bringing in every month or every year? On a broader level, what does your ideal lifestyle look like? Write it all down like a massive brain dump. Don't leave anything out. Consider what are your values, what issues do you care about and how will you feel about yourself when you've reached a major milestone, like your first editorial illustration as it's gone to print? Then I do think it's worth creating Pinterest board. This is part of the class project that I'd like you to complete. We are highly visual people and to see actual representations of what success looks like, will really help us to focus. Think of this as a visual reminder of your ideal illustration career, so include images, words that trigger that excitement. Then with all this information, you can take it to the planning stage. Think what you'd like to achieve in the next month, six months, next one to two years, and even five years. It may sound really strange, but it's a good tactic to plan backwards rather than forwards. Think along the lines of what would you have needed to learn along the way? What important actions would you have had to take? Think about your first step and the steps after that. That will fill the gap between where you are now and where you want to be in the future. It may seem impossible, but this is exactly what I did and still do when I want to achieve something. Don't be surprised if your plans change over time. This is absolutely normal and can actually be a good thing. As you may realize that certain aspects may no longer be compatible as your lifestyle changes, then you need to look at small, manageable steps. Start by making positive incremental changes. Over time, those changes will produce huge results. For me, it's a lot easier to achieve my goals if I break them down into very small manageable steps, which also lessens the overwhelm. This is probably what setup my website look like for me. I would have researched free websites, retouched the possible domain names if they were available, and then research any web hosting platforms. Then when I've done that, I would have to look at a format that was easy for me to manage. Then I'd have to create the art that will be uploaded onto the website. Consider my logo, then upload the art and look at the links to social media sites. It's also really important to have a realistic deadline to achieve your goals as it will increase your focus and give you something specific to work towards. I also found that it helped me to manage my time more effectively and increase my productivity and stretched me and little beyond what I thought was possible. When working towards your goals, it's essential to measure and celebrate your successes along the way. We often tend to be incredibly hard on ourselves and have difficulty seeing any growth or headway. It's important to review your progress weekly or monthly. I actually write down three good things that happened to me at the end of every day as an acknowledgment of my progress or just a lot of gratitude. Remember that success is a marathon. When you look at other designers or artists who are successful, remember that they have worked for years and years to get to where they are now. They've put in an amazing amount of time and effort behind the scenes and you are only seeing the results on social media. Please don't feel discouraged if you're not quite where you want to be. Over time you too will achieve amazing results. Of the 20 percent I do hear back from when asking about a career in illustration. Most say, "What if my dreams don't come true. How will I cope? I'm going to be so upset." But then I say, "Imagine how happy you would be if your ideal client asked you for a collaboration or if you saw your work on the cover of a book." Trust yourself and your own personal vision of a thrilling illustration career. I'm sure it will contribute to your long-term happiness and well-being as a creative. It will help you get through the difficult days and rough patches. 7. Inspiration and Considerations : I live in a small market town in East Hertfordshire in the UK, which has few opportunities for cultural or design inspiration. Although London is only a short train ride away, in 2012, I hadn't freelanced in London for seven years. I was spending most of my days with my young son going to toddler groups, grocery shopping, cooking, and taking occasional naps. I had canceled my editorial illustration career in order to spend time being a mum within a domestic scene. As you saw in my timeline, my daughter was born in 2010, and this coincided with the launch of Pinterest. I know Instagram launched the same year, but it's significant that I latched on to the Pinterest platform first. My daughter was a really greedy baby and she would take her own sweet time to feed so I would often hold her in place and still be able to move a mouse around. It meant that I could pin images on Pinterest because I didn't have a smartphone in those days. If you can try to imagine that I was doing all of this in almost a vacuum in semi-rural Hertfordshire. Pinterest for me was like a window, a sneak peek of what art had been created in my absence from the creative scene. I'd lost touch with what had been happening in the industry over the years. I just got more and more excited and pinning actually became part of my daily routine. Due to the way that the Pinterest feed works, as you scroll through, you can see a load of images arranged across the screen. After a while, I realized there were certain patterns emerging. I was attracted to certain types of images, certain colors, and a lot of line work was very similar to what I was producing myself. Even the subject matter I pinned reflected my personal interests and tastes. I sorted them into their own boards like food images, repeat patterns, hand lettering, travel, inspiration, and I just kept adding to them. As the months and years progressed, my insatiable appetite for wonderful images just grew into what I can only describe as an edge that maybe I could start to create art again. Still staying with Pinterest, it was becoming apparent, after a time, that certain artists were coming up in my feed again and again so I'd check out their websites and blogs. I wasn't quite an online stalker, but I pretty much devoured everything that they would be posting. Many of them started talking about a course called Make Art That Sells run by Lillian Rogers in early 2013. One of those artists was Zoe Ingram, her work was so colorful and bold, and the way she described her experience on her blog, as she had small children too, made it seem really achievable for me. This was a five-week online course that covered five markets from fabric to paper products within the field of art licensing. The more I read, the more I was certain that this course was what I needed, it was going to be my ticket back to a creative career. Although I did eventually sign up for this course in the Autumn of 2013, there were a series of hurdles I had to be mindful of. These were my personal considerations before taking the leap and starting that transition. I had to make the time and make sure it fitted in with my current childcare arrangements for my three-year-old and my eight-year-old. I also had limited art supplies and a very old Mac and scanner and there was also the 380 pound course fee. I think it would be really helpful for you to write down some of your considerations at whatever stage you're at. I have provided a PDF for you to do this. Aspects of your current lifestyle or circumstances you have to factor in like time, family commitments or financial resources. They don't have to be huge paragraphs, just a sentence each. By being aware of these, you are in a much better place to problem-solve. I don't want you to confuse considerations with excuses. In the moment, it would be really easy to get defeated and say, I can't do this because I have kids or I don't have the right equipment or I don't have the money. But circumstances are never perfect and with a little ingenuity, we can make due. In the next class, I'm going to talk more about finding that 380 pounds so I could take that big step. 8. Income: How Much Do You Need When Transitioning: In this section, I want to focus on the practical side of household expenses. While you're building up your illustration career, I've mentioned before it could take a significant amount of time before we are able to fully live off our art income, so we must remain practical. I think it would be really helpful to put my financial situation around 2012 into context. Remember, we have to start where we are now. I was a joint company director with my then-husband who ran a mini-design and photography agency. In the early days, this was really lucrative due to his freelance placements in London, but over the years there was less work in London, and the dividends we drew from the company became very erratic. In the UK, company directors receive a basic salary of £440 of dividends. By 2012, some months I would only have £440 and no dividends to cover all the household expenses while he would pay for the mortgage with his share. They were definitely lean and mean months. It was always a great month if we could stretch to £400 or £500 in dividends. I would be shopping in thrift stores, I bought and sold items on eBay and I always cooked from scratch to stretch meals. Providing the essentials for a family of four with £450 to £900 a month is not impossible, but I did find it very difficult. We were in debt by the middle of every month. As I was acquainted with my outgoings, I knew how much we were spending on food, utility bills, insurance, nappies or diapers in America, petrol, and so on. I'm wondering if you know how much it costs for you to cover the essentials in your life right now. If you don't know your average monthly spend, then I urge you to look into it. I have provided a downloadable budgeting sheet if you'd like to print out for yourself, so you'll know the basic amount you can live on or at least contribute towards when you're trying to set up this illustration business. Then you need to work out how you are going to cover your expenditure while this transition occurs. When you're starting out as a freelance illustrator, you generally won't have the luxury of a substantial regular income. It may seem incredibly dull to go through this entire process, and I resisted doing this until I realized that I had to be realistic. You may be in a similar situation yourself, or maybe you're in a comfortable position financially, or you have a full-time or part-time job and the greater difficulty might be finding the time to set aside to create your illustrations. This is what top teacher, Nic Squirrell, had to say about her shift from the part-time job to full-time artist. This is what she says. ''I started my business as a side hustle alongside my job as an optician. There's no shame in having a day job in an unrelated field. For me, as well as providing financial security also meant that when I was at work and not making art, my brain was recharging. I was more receptive to new ideas when I came back to creating. Initially, I worked three to four days a week in my day job and then worked on my business in my lunch hour and on my days off. My daughter was young, and as most of us know, it's not always easy juggling work and parenthood. I concentrated on passive income streams, particularly print on demand websites such as Redbubble and Society6, amongst others. Eventually, I started earning a regular income from these. Once I was consistently earning enough to cover a day's wages, I decreased my hours in my day job and spent more time making art. I got to the point where it made sense for me to say goodbye to my day job and go full time as an artist and illustrator. Doing it this way gave me confidence that it would work and that I could cover my outgoings without having to worry too much. It's no fun creating from a place of fear or desperation.'' Now, going back to my story, by 2012 I had seen the potential of selling work I had done many years ago and uploading them to stock image sites which I began doing the year before. Those early submissions were not popular and I saw very few sales. However, I did start noticing that sets of images and icons on a theme, mostly Christmas, sold exceptionally well. By cross-referencing some of the most searched for items and only offering line art, which I term doodles, I was able to build up a sale body of work. With what little time and resources I had, black pens and an old scanner, and a very ancient version of Illustrator, I began adding to my stock image portfolio. By the beginning of 2013, I had hit £400 a month in sales and reached my target. Achieving this small goal was quite significant for me on several levels. For me, I realized if I set a goal with a reward, money for nice clothes and food, it was a great incentive and the lure of passive income was just beginning to shape my future. I'm going to discuss passive income at length in my next two video lessons. 9. Passive Income: My Story: I outlined in the last video lesson how I started uploading doodles to Shutterstock. That was my first brush with passive income. What I didn't know at the time was how significant this decision would be as I sought to transition from stay-at-home mom to food illustrator, and also in those 12 months after my separation and divorce until I had a far more stable income. Passive income is where you do a lot of work upfront to create a digital product or course or content that you earn money from over and over again. There are many reasons why passive income is indispensable for solo creative businesses and entrepreneurs. The harsh reality is this type of career almost always involves a degree of uncertainty and shaky income, as I was all too aware of. Having seen what I could achieve with image libraries, I ended up uploading the same images to at least three other platforms. I was attracted to acquiring more passive income streams. However, it did take several years of trial and error to incorporate decent streams of passive income. The next platform I tried was Spoonflower in the summer of 2014. Spoonflower are a print-on-demand digital printing company that prints custom fabric, wallpaper, and home decor. You just upload your design or pattern and Spoonflower handles the printing and shipping when a customer places an order. They've had weekly contests for years and this is what I created for a fishing theme. I was really shocked that I came in third as it was the very first time I'd entered one of their contests. Although my portfolio on Spoonflower has over 70 designs, this particular design, gone fishing, in various sizes and directions, is hands down my best seller. Considering I don't do very much with my patterns after uploading them, I'm really pleased with the income received every fortnight. I decided to ask Spoonflower superstar Heather Dutton her thoughts and insights about the passive income from sales. This is what Heather Dutton had to say, "When I first started my surface design business, my primary source of income was from freelance design work, and essentially, I had all of my eggs in one basket for earning money. After one of my biggest clients decided to bring their design work in-house, I went into a panic and I quickly realized that I needed to have a lot more eggs in my basket in order to keep my business alive. Having multiple streams of passive income completely changed my business, and now I don't know how I survived without them. Some shops only bring in a trickle of sales and money, and some shops make up a huge percentage of my overall income. Each one plays a vital role in my business, and as Ohn said, it does take some trial and error to see which ones are worth their time. But once you find your groove, the multiple streams of income allow you to focus on what you love the most. Designing." Later on, I uploaded a handful of designs to Redbubble, another print-on-demand site where your art can be applied to all manner of products from notebooks, bedspreads, even clocks, and hoodies. Similar sites you may like to try are Zazzle, Society6, and Bonfire. These are my big takeaways for passive income being part of my art business. Passive income can free up your time. As I was always mindful to have enough passive income to cover my monthly expenses, I was free to spend time to build up my portfolio and take more courses, and of course, creating a lot of personal projects. It reduces your stress and anxiety over money. Since my kids were born, I felt the pressure that comes with the inability to pay bills on time or even heat the house on occasions. It caused plenty of anxiety and an overall feeling of having a mentality based on scarcity and lack. So knowing I had enough to cover the essentials came as quite a relief. Knowing that if I or my kids were to have a period of ill health, which did happen when I had several bouts of pneumonia, the bills would always be covered. It also provides a platform for artistic growth. I feel passive income has allowed me to take risks. If you're experimenting with something new in your career or you're going through a slow period, passive income is the extra boost you can have to keep you going. I'm at liberty to stay curious and explore new ways to further strengthen my brand, look at more 100-day projects, and plenty of other personal projects. In 2013, my then husband didn't feel the 380-pound fee for the online maker, that sales course, would be worth my time or the money investment. Furthermore, it was money we didn't have, so he actually tried to dissuade me from signing up. It occurred to me that a way forward would be to upload even more images to Shutterstock. With that online course as my prize, I systematically drew my portfolio from around 500 images earning 350 pounds a month to 1,500 images in the space of nine months. With this extra income, I was finally able to pay for the course, and it also solve the problem of covering five weeks' worth of household expenditure while I undertook the course. This income from stock images was great when I was trying to build up my skills and my portfolio over the next two years. Passive income always starts as a trickle and takes a lot of work upfront. That's how you slowly move the needle so that you can make the transition. It becomes a self-reinforcing positive loop. Even now, I see it as one of the best investments in my time and efforts. 10. Passive Income: Considerations: As part of my goal of being super transparent and showing you how this really works in my particular case, I want to point out that my passive income strategy is a little haphazard. Even though I haven't done things in the most efficient way, it's still worked out for me just fine. As an example, my income from Redbubble is not great. However, I know of many artists who do exceptionally well by uploading their art and illustrations too many print on demand sites. Despite talking to all these artists and knowing there is a whole load of possibilities with print on demand, I haven't taken the time to fully exploit these platforms. Creating a passive income stream can be a lot of work upfront with many hours or even years of time investment. Things may shift as you move towards your goals and then you'll need to adapt accordingly so that you know what's working for you and what fits your needs. I could double my income from Spoonflower and make far more money from Redbubble over time but I haven't because I've not set aside the time to plan and carry through the steps necessary to grow them further. This is a reoccurring theme throughout this class, I haven't done things perfectly but I have done them more than adequately and it has still worked out. So don't feel that you have to make everything perfect. Here are some of the ways that I've not maximized on my print on-demand income. Lack of uploads, since I'm not taking the time to add new art or illustrations to my portfolios, they are very tiny and often times, how often you upload affects the search algorithm with frequent uploaders shown at the top of search results. Compare my 22 designs on Redbubble and 70 on Spoonflower with my 2,800 doodles on Shutterstock. Just as a comparison, Heather Dutton, who has over 2,500 patterns on Spoonflower. Marketing. In the case of Spoonflower and Redbubble, I virtually do no marketing. Although there are links to these sites on my social media and website, I'm doing nothing extra to direct folks to them even when there are special promotions. I know this sounds crazy, but I'm not all that comfortable about marketing on different platforms and that's across the board, including my Skillshare classes. With Shutterstock, I cross-reference and researched what would sell and then I strategically planned. Well, I haven't done that with either of these platforms. I can only describe it as a vague or half-hearted attempt which hasn't worked as well. Again, intellectually, I know I should do this in order to grow these platforms but I do have a lot of competing priorities these days. Instead, I've decided to direct my energies in other aspects of my business and this is something that you too will have to consider and weigh up yourself if you're considering adding passive income to your business. Remember, it has to work for your version of an illustration business. It's best to thoroughly research which options are best for your needs, as you will most likely have to stick with whatever platform or plan you choose for quite a while before you see a decent return each month. There will be trial and error, which you will have to factor in, but a tipping point will occur if you remain consistent and then you'll see returns on your time. Here are some other ideas for your passive income streams to consider: selling art or fonts as digital downloads, art licensing, creating instructional video tutorials or classes, selling instructional e-books, print on-demand coloring in books or journals. I have added these in the downloadable PDF which you can access in the Class Resources tab. When I first started out, I thought it was unlikely I could achieve a passive income that exceeded my expenses. However, whatever the mind believes, the mind can achieve. Like anything else, you need to set a goal, focus, and move towards it with persistent action on a daily basis. It very much depends on how important it is for you. When I was starting out with Shutterstock, I had nothing to lose and much to gain. To put things into real-world context, I have received over 70,000 pounds in earnings from my Shutterstock doodles, that's from a portfolio of 2,800 images over the last eight years. The last five years of that have been totally passive, I haven't created or added extra doodles during that time. It's interesting to note, I do receive smaller amounts from other stock sites that I uploaded the same doodles to. I'm sharing these numbers with you because passive income frees up your time. So you can focus on things that don't directly make money, like taking classes and improving your skills. 11. Attitude: Be Led by Fun, not Fear: A reoccurring feature in my work and a huge contributing factor to my success on many levels are the personal passion projects that I created for myself. What I mean by this are the illustration pieces or sketchbook creations based on my personal interests rather than what I thought I should be doing. My rule of thumb is the creation process should feel like play to be useful, it should never feel like a laborious task. In order to arrive at that place where you have accomplished a particular look, the way you create your illustrations need to be practical and easy enough for you to be able to replicate the process over and over again. How do we get to this stage? Be led by your passions. I'm going to hammer home this point. There is only one version of you, which is a massive asset. You are not flawed, whatever experiences you've had in the past, they can actually make you a very remarkable and unique with your own set of gifts and talents. Everything from your favorite colors, hobbies, books you like to read, and the things you like to collect are a huge part of what will set you apart from other illustrators. This is why I've asked you to include things like this on your Pinterest board. What type of images are you most attracted to? Which themes seem to be cropping up again? Perhaps it's 1960s fashion or Scandinavian folk art. Let these guide you for helping you intuitively decide on the type of imagery you would have fun illustrating. Write your own briefs for the type of illustration you would love to attract for paying clients. The reason I pursued food illustration so energetically was because I love to cook. I love the smell of food, eating the food, and traveling for food. I really enjoy cooking very much and have a load of cookery books on Asian and Middle Eastern cooking. In the spring of 2014, I meditated on what work I would find the most fulfilling. What I heard from my intuition was food and travel illustrations. Although I know flowers, butterflies, and birds are really popular, I'm just not that interested in them, but give me a beetroot, some figs, or a jar of pickles, and I can't wait to start painting or illustrating them. I'm still as excited about carrots and pears as I was six years ago. That tingle in my tummy is still there when I start a new food project, both paid and personal make a lot of personal work. This carries on from feeding your passions. In order to demonstrate your capabilities, you'll have to make an awful lot of art to become competent, so use your time wisely and create work that you are personally passionate about. It could be anything from Greek mythology, The beet or doughnuts. When you work on projects you have a personal interest in, not what you think will attract clients, then a special spark of energy will show through, your illustrations carry a certain freshness. Often you are in the zone and the results just look and feel different. In my case, as I wanted to be a food illustrator, I churned out masses of illustrated recipes and uploaded them to They Draw and Cook, and they soon filled up my fledgling website and my Instagram grid. Over the course of creating 30 pieces, I was learning immense skills, becoming comfortable with the world of food illustration and gaining experience, which would help me in later years. They were not perfect pieces, but I most certainly had fun creating all of them. As with anything else, break down this process. For example, if you wanted to attract map illustration work, perhaps aim to create one map a month for your portfolio. Let's say you needed 14 icons or buildings, you could create one a day over two weeks and then spend the next two weeks putting together the entire map. Overall, make it a really fun process for yourself and not a hardship. I can personally vouch for the effectiveness of personal passion projects. I'm still attracting great paid projects off the back of personal projects I created 4-5 years ago. Even sketchbook pieces have been turned into gift items. There's a phrase, "Where focus goes, energy flows," and having an openness to experiment and learn underpins a huge part of the creative process. When you're building a business, you may not immediately make financial gains from every task, but these passion projects are likely to pay dividends later. Focus on what comes naturally to you and what you enjoy rather than trying to pull yourself in too many different directions. There's a good chance that if you love what you're doing, then those who will commission you will love it too. 12. Improving Skills: My Story: I'm going to start by saying I was a beginner too. It may be difficult to comprehend when you watch my other classes or see my art on social media that I was not very skilled or productive back in 2013. I want to emphasize this as there does seem to be an illusion that I arrived on the scene as a prepackaged illustrator with a distinctive style, which is far from the case. I've botched up a whole load of drawings and questioned my talent, just like many of you are doing, probably. The illustrator you see today had to face a huge learning curve with many failures but it didn't deter me from my mission. Going back to 2013, I read almost every blog post from artists who had taken the very first Make Art That Sells course. I was still not prepared for the intense emotions I felt when it began. My major frustration was the distinct lack of technical skills. I realized there was a massive gap between where I currently was with my skills and where I ideally wanted to be and seeing what other artists could do as well. The basic tools I had were pen and ink, black pens and a scanner with very old programs. I didn't know how to take these mediums to the next level by applying them within an illustration or a pattern. These are a few examples of what I produced on that course. At the time, it was a huge leap out of my comfort zone, but I was very determined to learn more. I understood my skills will hold me back, so I used my frustration to seek out other means of improving my proficiency with Photoshop and technique with other mediums. This is where Skillshare came in. My very first project on Skillshare was for Mary Kate McDevitt's hand lettering class. Although it's just in pencil, I think conceptually it was quite a good idea. However, it wasn't until I took her next class again about hand lettering, but this time in color that certain pieces started to fall into place. I was able to take what little I understood about manipulating an image after scanning and applying the Image Trace tool to make an effective piece of art and illustration. This technique sparked other useful ideas and ways I could manipulate lines. Another handy Skillshare class for me was by Matt Kaufenberg. Although it was about character drawing, I was able to use some of the key concepts of setting it up in Illustrator than importing them into Photoshop to transform my drawings into illustrations. Just knowing a few more processes within Illustrator and Photoshop was a huge move forward for me. After Matt, I revisited my goals again, asking what do I want? That was when the idea of being a food illustrator was conceived, along with illustrating maps and surface design. By this stage, I realized I could take apart these pen and ink or brush pen drawings that I really favored and still retain the spontaneity and then apply textures to them. These pieces reflect this newfound technique. Both are illustrated recipes which I uploaded to the website They Draw & Cook. This autumn vegetable crisps was based on sketches I'd made from drawing the vegetables out of my vegetable box that arrived that week. I found free Photoshop brushes, which really reminded me of being in the print room at college. In some ways it was like setting up layers similar to silkscreen printing. This mulled cider piece was about playing with the different layers and understanding more about composition and contrast. Having decided that I wanted to pursue food illustration, a serious opportunity came along. The brother and sister team, Salli and Nate, who ran They Draw and Cook, announced that artists who submitted 30 recipes would have their work published in a book. Well that certainly caught my attention. I think at the time I'd submitted about seven or eight recipes, so I immediately made it my goal to illustrate 30. At the time, I felt I had to come up with killer concepts and layouts every single time, which actually slowed me down. I asked Salli for advice and this was the beginning of a friendship I'll talk about later. Producing these 30 illustrations was pivotal in becoming comfortable with working fast, methodically, and of course, expanding my portfolio dramatically. This put me in a favorable position when I started attracting paid work, pattern-making. As I wanted to make surface design as part of my business, I knew eventually I'd have to learn how to create a technically repeating pattern. My first attempts were pretty basic, but enough to get me noticed and eventually to find me paid work. Of course, over time, I learned lots of different techniques in Photoshop and Illustrator and creating all types of different patterns, including those that featured my watercolors. I do have a Skillshare class on this. If you'd like to learn more about this technique, do check it out. Sketchbooks. This part is probably what most of you will know me for, my watercolor sketchbooks. I started as a total beginner. I didn't know what I was doing. It was the consistent practice of using 365-day projects that helped me to become really comfortable and proficient with this medium. I think these sketchbooks, more than anything, support my firm belief that not every single piece of work has to be successful to be of value as many lessons can still be learned. The discipline of repeating and practicing over and over again, whatever the outcome will always pay massive dividends further down the line. 13. Improving Skills: Things I Wish I'd Known: Getting the various skills needed to become an illustrator is very much like a young tree emerging from a seed. The root always emerges first before the rest sprouts. This bit happens in private, below ground, unseen by the world, but then exposure to the world through the leaves feeds the root and on and on in a cycle of growth. Then as a sapling, it draws more nutrients, it becomes stronger, and grows more robust and substantial. Its growth is affected by the weather and seasons, just like yours will be. These adaptations make each tree unique, just like all of your life and creative experiences form part of your unique personality. As an illustrator, along with your passions and interest. I keep banging on about this because being unique is what will set you apart from other illustrators. In order to get to that place where you are producing portfolio ready illustrations, we cannot circumnavigate the doing, the work part. It is a huge segment in itself. So I'm going to touch on the points that I feel most strongly about. Even though I'm quite an experienced artists, I understand the tremendous frustrations involved at these early stages. Please go easy on yourself. Give yourself permission to make crappy work. Of course, we want every piece of work that we conceive in our minds to turn up exactly as expected. But there's a good chance in the earlier part of your journey we won't be able to bridge that gap between that vision and our current set of skills and that's normal. It's actually in the different aspects of making a pile of work, not just two or three sketches, more like 20 or 30, including the messy stuff, the slightly shoddy stuff that you will be building the foundations. You'll start to appreciate color, composition, drawing, and researching to generate those ideas. Please note this phase is way before you even start thinking about considered portfolio pieces. You have to try things out and sometimes they won't be successful. You may feel disheartened. But look at this stage as an important arena for learning, a place where you're training yourself, studying, showing up, and preparing for the next stages. After a few months when you spread out that pile of work, I'm certain you will see huge developments and progress. You can use this pile of work to also consider what you enjoy the most or the least. Try everything to gain confidence. In the very early days, you will feel uncertain about what type of work you should produce and in what mediums. I would say try everything, not just what you think will get you the paid work. Try not to make decisions based on what you think might be trending or what you see other artists doing. There is no right or wrong ways to create. It's seeking out the ways that feels good for you, find the mediums that you enjoy that resonate with you and excite you that you will discover things like drawing with a real brush doesn't come naturally to you and you like using all the brushes in Procreate. This is all really important and valuable and inform you of your strengths and weaknesses. I don't consider myself to be the most organized person yet. Many look at my output and wonder how I manage it with two kids. I was terrible at time management in 2013 when I had a toddler and was trying to transform myself into an illustrator. Organization did not come naturally to me and I resisted it for a long while. But I eventually found a few systems that worked for me. I was and still mindful of my kid's school hours and their after-school clubs. I knew I had a limited time in which to physically produce the art, so I'd organize myself the night before by writing a short to-do list, then review what I'd been able to manage the following evening, and then carry on throughout the week, making the time to create sketches, experiment with patterns or even if you only have an hour some days is still valuable. So make tiny steps in your progress. Making art and illustrations, producing images from nothing but a vision that you have in your head and putting them out into the world is a very scary process. Deciding you want to be an illustrator is a massive leap into the unknown. I can't say these fears will lessen over time, because as we grow and transition, new ones will crop up, perhaps based on how we think our illustrations measure up to others or how many projects we should have produced and added to this mix is our own high expectations of how a successful illustration business should look. Sometimes it's the fear of failure or putting out illustrations where they could be judged or criticized that manifests as procrastination and other excuses. I do have a class called tackling creative perfectionism that talks about fear of judgment and the inner critic in much more detail so it's worth watching. I want to say these negative feelings are totally normal. Every successful illustrator had and probably still experiences self-doubt, confusion, and overwhelm. I know I do. See these uncomfortable feelings as an indicator that you are growing as you potentially take risky moves outside of your comfort zone. I've learned to cope better with feelings of discouragement by understanding these anxieties are probably irrational fears trying to keep me safe. Don't forget that wonderful quote by Henri Matisse, creativity takes courage, which is certainly true if you are trying to set up any creative career with an element of uncertainty, progress is never linear. This aspect cannot be underestimated. We want to get to where we dream of in the shortest time and expect to constantly make progress. For many of us consciously or not, we may see progress as a straight road which goes directly and smoothly to our chosen destination. But just think, not even trees grow straight, they bend and twist, and that's how you could view your transition as an organic process. You may make awesome progress for a couple of weeks, but then there's a step or two backwards, a couple of steps sideways, and even going round in a circle in order to ultimately move you forward. What will help is seeing every step, even those steps backwards, as part of our transition. Try to appreciate the progress you've made, like we talked about in the goal section, by remembering where you started from and celebrating that progress. 14. Finding a Community: Due to the self-employed nature of being an illustrator, we will often be working in isolation unless you share a studio space with other designers or artists. In my previous career as an in-house artist at a greetings cards studio, I was lucky to work alongside other designers several times a week. However, by 2013, most of my interactions were in toddler groups and in the school playground when I picked up my son. I didn't have a network of friends who were illustrators or ran creative businesses as I do now. You may find it hard to believe as you listen to me on this video that I'm quite introverted and I initially found it very daunting being part of the maker that sells Facebook group of students. I realized quickly one of the advantages of taking the course alongside hundreds of others was the community of like-minded individuals who were traveling the same path as me. As I mentioned, it was a very intense course, almost like a baptism of fire for many of us who were not used to creating art for different markets in such a short amount of time. However, as the weeks progressed, many of us felt a kinship forged from this shared experience. A part of me feels I was fated to meet this wonderful group of ladies as we had many things in common, including starting out on a creative path, again, after having kids. As I enrolled on other courses, I discovered other wonderful and dynamic people all trying to improve their skills and create art-based businesses. It felt like a virtual coffee morning logging in and discussing issues from self-doubt to Pantone colors of the year. When I eventually joined Instagram in the summer of 2014, it was these people that I've met on all these online courses that I did initially followed on Instagram. I actually had my Instagram account set on private for the first six months as I was happy to share those early tentative sketches and illustrations in a small bubble of artists. Although my Instagram audience has grown since then, many of those artists I met in those early days remain some of my most trusted and valued friends. I virtually chat to them almost every day and I've been really lucky to join them for trade shows in New York, London, and Germany. Investing your time in building up a community should not be underestimated. You may hear a lot of advice focused on the actual illustrations like style, medium, and concepts where the importance of a good network is often overlooked. Although a strong portfolio is important, the connections you make will support you tremendously through the transition, and long afterwards if you have a question about Photoshop or need advice, there will be someone to lend their time and help you find a solution wherever in the world you are. There are so many different ways you can try and build up a community who will understand and encourage you. The following are ways that I was able to find that valuable community. Join the many online courses in the areas you're interested in, everything from pattern-making to children's book illustrations, and not just here in Skillshare. Many are run by amazing artists who are very supportive and encouraging of those who want to be better illustrators. There are also many Facebook groups some hosted by artists and Skillshare teachers where I'm certain you would meet like-minded people. Often within these groups, there's a great deal of empathy and understanding. Also, follow artists whose work you admire on social media. Try to interact with them, and with your own followers. Consider taking part in prompt challenges. For example, in October on Instagram, often there are art and illustration prompts being run almost all year round with their own special set of hashtags, so you can find other illustrators who are taking part, allowing you to comment and like on their work and to build up rapport. Top teacher, Steph Coleman, talked to me about how her illustration group fosters an autistic community. Steph says, "Early on in my career, I [inaudible] along on my own, feeling unsure of myself. As I got further into my career and started taking classes online and interacting more on social media, I met many illustrator friends who shared my struggles and successes. It has made such a huge difference in my life and career having a group of people who really understand this career path." About a year ago, I started a community group for artists who wanted to illustrate children's books. It's been such a joy to watch bonds form within the community. Members help each other with tech questions or art material problems and they give each other feedback and cheer one another on. Being able to facilitate the sense of community for artists that I didn't have when I started out is just the best feeling. I know the friends that I've met in classes and online communities will be lifelong friends and that knowing them has helped boost my career. Even if you're introverted, taking part in online communities is a beautiful way to build friendships and grow your illustration career. Over the years, having an amazing support network of fellow aspiring artists and illustrators who understand the emotions, hold similar dreams, and often juggling kids has created deep and meaningful bonds for me. In the next video, I'll talk a bit more about asking for advice from experienced artists within your community. 15. Mentors and Asking for Advice: Although I do describe myself as an introvert, there is a part of me that loves networking. Over the years I've realized I love meeting people, hearing their stories, and I love to encourage creativity. As my career has progressed, I've received hundreds of messages and e-mails asking for advice and information about the industry. Being an illustrator and teacher here on Skillshare, I do take the role of inspiring and helping others very seriously. I've been very lucky over the years to receive wonderful advice from other more established artists that I would consider my mentors. Mentor is often described as someone who's a few steps ahead of you in their career, who can guide, advise, and support someone less experienced to achieve their goals and progress in their professional and personal life. Sally, the co-founder of They Draw & Cook, would never consider herself as a professional mentor. However, she served a very important role in my growth as a food illustrator. I created a few illustrated recipes in 2014, but the following year, I created 26 new illustrated recipes. She got to know my body of work well as Sally always leaves lovely comments on every single recipe that is submitted to that website. After a while, we started e-mailing general exchanges of ideas and thoughts about what I produced. Here was a lady who was taking time out of her busy schedule to chat with me. I was so grateful that she did this for me as I was a completely unknown illustrator. Sally would make suggestions like use some simple line work to save time, or try some more hand lettering as you seem to enjoy that. I would happily listen to her as she had relevant experience and was very well regarded in the industry. Even now she dropped me a little note of encouragement if something really caught her eye. Here are few reasons how you could benefit from having a mentor. Mentors have a wealth of experience and knowledge that is invaluable. You'll most likely learn that there is more than one way to get to where you want to be as they've most likely encountered the same roadblocks as you. Sometimes we all need a little push to get out of our comfort zones. A mentor can stimulate your growth by asking questions of you that you may not have considered or perhaps identify your strengths. They can also challenge you to build upon other key skills that you may need to become a successful illustrator. Having a mentor who understands who you are and where you plan to go will help you create goals and targets. When I was trying to create 30 illustrated recipes in a limited time, Sally gave me advice on areas where I could speed up the process, like using simple layouts and less details, so they can help you identify what you need to work on. It's easy to get disheartened when things aren't moving as quickly as you would like, so it's great to have someone who can keep you motivated. Having a fresh pair of eyes can help put things into perspective as they have a better knowledge of the industry. A mentor will be able to give you valuable feedback or offer ways of improving or focusing your illustration work. If you would like someone more experienced than you to help you often for free, that request is going to be received much more favorably if that person already knows you and your art. If you're super serious about wanting to be an illustrator, here are some tips that I hope will help you: before you reach out to more established illustrators, start engaging with them and their work on social media or comment on their blog. They're more likely to help you if you show that you have done your homework and participated in what they already offer. Take part in any events that they're hosting, either online or in-person, enroll in any classes or courses that they're teaching. If you're reaching out to them directly, remember that that person is very likely to be busy, so do some research and be very specific with questions when you e-mail them. Yes, I did say e-mail, it's really tricky to give considered and concise answers when typing away on Instagram Messenger, and by e-mailing, it also shows that you are super serious about your career. Be tactful and tell them a little bit about yourself. Don't be too demanding, be brief and courteous with your question. Show that you're very grateful and when you're polite, it can be a great way to build rapport. Potential e-mails could look like this, "I know your florals, food, architecture work, whatever, and I have been following your career for whatever amount of time." Or, "I know you're probably very busy and if you have time, I'd love your views concerning whatever. I'd love to know more about how you did x, y, and z. I'm willing to take and be extremely grateful for your advice on maybe art materials." Always follow up by saying thank you, perhaps show them the improvement to your work, send your results and appreciation. It always makes people feel good to hear a thank you. When reaching out to an illustrator with much more experience, you will often get a different perspective on your work. They're likely someone who knows from personal experience what you're trying to achieve, so Their practical advice could save you months of effort. 16. Pros and Cons of a Single Style or Niche: One of the top questions I receive from those who may just be beginning illustration, is how important is having a recognizable style? I know this is a major concern as we all want our illustrations to be noticed and stand out. In the late 1990s, I was taught at college that to be successful, we needed to master one way of working really well and apply it to everything from portraits to book covers. People come to recognize your work, even if it doesn't have your name on it. You may even become known for something like a specialist working in a niche such as animals or kidlit or food illustration for me. I'm certain, other illustrators will have different views and insights about style. What I'm presenting, is based on my experience over the last six years of running an illustration business. I'm not sure if this will ease some of your fears, but I actually have several styles which are used for different illustration niches. Let me explain. I'm primarily an illustrator for food projects, but I also work with surface design clients. I have numerous styles that cover several mediums that have been applied to packaging, design, books, gifts, and fabric. Having a handful of styles wasn't something that I consciously decided, it evolved as my own skills and interests, and business grew over the years. It might help to find this issue as how proficient can I become in certain styles for attracting the clients I want? This may look and sound controversial, but it has worked well within the framework of my illustration business. Let me show you an assortment of greetings cards I've designed for clients. This one is in watercolor and ink. This is watercolor and procreate, watercolor and photoshop, this one's all vector, this is all photoshop, this is all vector again, and this is all procreate. Yes, it's a pretty mixed bag, including all the hand lettering that I put out. But the clients liked what they saw and it filled the gaps in their card ranges. Now, moving on to a small selection of food illustrations for packaging. Although I've done loads, these are free samples I've received from Olive Branch and English Provender. All of these were created in photoshop, which started out as brush pen sketches. As you can see, there's a very distinctive and consistent look for all of this fruit and veg. This is also the style a Japanese client chose for their party paper range and other gifts items, which is more art licensing. To mix things up even further, this was Evolution Fresh for Costco packaging, which is mainly watercolor fruit to represent their fresh juices. Although I interchange my styles and mediums, I'm very good and prolific with analog and digital tools and applying all of them within surface design or food illustration. With these mixture of styles, I can attract more paying clients across many different markets. If you can demonstrate that you can illustrate in several different styles to the same high standard, I personally don't think that is a problem for many art editors or directors. Making a success of multiple styles comes down to where you are in your career, and whether you have enough work in each style, to assure the one that's commissioning you. A potential illustration client will not contact you unless they think you're capable of fulfilling their vision in exchange for a fee, and delivering the artwork on time. Here are the pros and cons, I believe, of having one specialism or distinct style. Pros. You're more likely to become well-known for a particular look. As you developed one definite look, the chances are that you will be highly efficient in producing the illustrations to a deadline. This in turn means that art directors have a good idea of the outcome of a project before they commission you. You can also provide a more personalized service for your clients, as you understand the needs of their market. Lastly, you are more likely to get an agent if you want one. A few points I'd like to make as a niche food illustrator based on my experiences, if a client gets in touch because of my food style, they are more likely to wait till I have room in my scheduled to complete their project. Furthermore, they are likely to pay what I've quoted because they value the service that I can provide. I can now charge much higher than a few years ago and attract clients who respect my work rather than clients who just want something quick and cheap. Here are some of the cons for having a specialism or style. Art directors may find it hard to know what they're going to get from you if you can't demonstrate consistency. If you're asked to work the same style over and over, you may risk boredom. You may work with a fairly limited number of businesses or markets. It could be tough to make enough money from one style of work. In a recent survey of over 1000 illustrators, over 65 percent said they are not earning enough to live off illustration alone which is really sad to hear. My personal feeling is for many illustrators, there is a need to be versatile in order to survive. Being a single parent, I'm committed to supporting my kids financially. If having a mixture of styles which offers different things to different markets is what gets me enough work to do that, then of course, I'm going to diversify. I want to end by saying, the only person who can decide what your style is, should be you. Be led by your passions, as I explained, and use them as part of your inner compass, which is always pointing to your unique voice. 17. Becoming Businesslike: First Steps: It's vital that you treat your profession as a business, not a hobby. It's really useful to approach creating illustrations for your portfolio with a business mindset. It's important as you embark on your career as a freelance illustrator to understand the areas in which illustration is commissioned and be realistic about where you may be positioned. When you start out or even if you've been in the industry for awhile and are struggling with which projects you'd like to attract. You should take some time to sit down and work out where you can see your illustrations being used. This can be down to several factors. Your style of art, what it's appropriate for, and the subjects you enjoy illustrating the most. For instance, if you're leaning towards a style suitable for children's books, then it won't be appropriate for the album cover of a heavy metal band. Take your time to work out who will be seeking out your work and you can eventually tailor your marketing approach to that particular client base. It's important as an illustrator that you know your target audience, in this case, your clients. This will avoid you being confused in the future as to why some potential clients just won't hire you for certain types of work. Because illustration is accessible, you can find it in magazines, in bookshops, on packaging, and online these days. Just keep an eye open for everything that features illustration and make a note of it. Being aware of the breadth of the illustration market is very helpful in maximizing your reach. Exploring the field you wish to illustrate from comic books, for games apps can widen your chances of success. For example, decorative illustration can be expanded beyond greetings cards to gifts, fabric or paper. Fashion illustrations can be applied to lifestyle editorial work, even book publishing and branding. Here are just a few examples of where illustration can be commissioned. Books, editorial such as magazines, advertising, education or in textbook illustrations for children. Medical illustration, surface designs for textiles, apparel, and home goods, greetings cards, architectural visualization, packaging illustration, calligraphy and hand lettering, even religious illustrations, and tarot decks and New Age art. If any of the jobs on the list sound foreign to you, then please go ahead and research them. Google is your friend. Search for a career in X, Y and Z illustration. Researching key areas you would like to be involved with, will help you gauge the viability of your own work. This is part of building your knowledge base about the market and how it currently operates. Look at the illustrations being used in that field and compare them to your own current illustrations and think in what ways can you make your portfolio look like it belongs in that field. Before getting super serious about aspects like websites and contacting clients, you should evaluate what you offer by conducting an honest assessment. You need to be confident about what you're delivering, who will buy it, and for how much. This understanding is a good foundation for any business. Here are some simple questions you may want to consider. Questions about your illustration as a product. What kinds of illustrations do I enjoy producing, and have a lot of? What unique selling points do I have? Who are my competitors? Who are the other artists and illustrators doing similar work to me? How is your style or niche of benefit to clients? All of these questions and a few extras are available as a downloadable PDF worksheet. This is what mine probably would've looked like early in 2015 before I was working on client projects. Identifying appropriate markets or clients in order to understand how your own illustrations could slot in, is invaluable to help you position yourself commercially. When finding illustrators you admire, really try to understand why they are successful at what they do. Other artists websites and blogs can be really revealing about how they approach clients and marketing. It may be work contracting directly via email for advice, as I mentioned in my previous video. I also want to mention direct sales, which is selling art directly to the public. I haven't done much of this as I already have many markets I'm happy with. However, you may find that creating a product from start to finish and selling it directly to consumers, either from a physical store or an online store like Etsy is your jam. You'd be working purely for yourself, not for clients and producing anything from custom portraits to self-published books. 18. Marketing and Social Media: This year I finally read Seth Godin's book, This is Marketing. Honestly, I've been putting it off as I had preconceived ideas of what marketing should be, perhaps with sleazy sales pitches and spammy, having to talk about your product. Well, this book was a game changer and I'm going to share a few points that really helped me to understand what marketing can be. I really wish I'd known most of this when I was starting out to get clear on what I was offering. In a nutshell, Seth Godin says, "Marketing is the generous act of helping someone solve a problem, their problem." This is where the notes you made for becoming businesslike comes in. The field of illustration is already crowded and everyone is fighting for attention, that's why you have to offer a unique service. You need to understand your customers, your clients, or the end users of the illustrations you produce. So art directors within the fields of publishing or editorial, if they're needing maps, would need clear illustrations to enhance the text and visually explain famous landmarks in Scotland, for example. Also you, as students, are my clients. I'm always thinking of ways to inspire your creativity and take it to the next level, but in fun ways without overwhelming you. Start by asking, who is it for? Then ask yourself, what do they need? Then, what can I contribute to fulfill their needs and benefits them? Seth says, effective marketing now relies on empathy and service. By offering solutions, you give others the opportunity to solve their problems and move forward. I now see marketing as a chance to serve, that's why I share so much as a teacher on my blog and on social media. Seth thinks there's often a confusion about this. Your brand is not what you think, it isn't your logo, or the colors you use, or the layout of your website. According to him, your brand is your promise to the customers, your clients, the end users. By promising something and later keeping up with your promise continuously over time, you will win over a loyal fan base. If you think of fans as clients, they return to your illustration services because you have proved you are delivering on your promise with artwork that fulfills their vision. The last step is often overlooked, and it's the showing up regularly, consistently, and generously for years and years, which, again, feeds back into the loop of sharing those unique gifts and talents you have with the world. Although social media is vital to grow your audience, for illustrators, it seems that Instagram is the most popular method to share your illustration work. I totally understand why that's the case. It's easy to set up and you can start posting your images straight away. For me, Instagram is a great way to keep in touch with others in the art and illustration community. Getting positive praise in the form of comments or likes on a piece you've posted makes you feel great. The top question that most people are keen to know, is how I grew my Instagram followers to over 130,000. Honestly, it did grow slowly over the last five and a half years, that's half a decade. I set up an account in the summer of 2014, and it was on private until the end of that year and I had about 500 followers. By the end of 2015 there were 10,000 followers, by August 2016, I had 50,000. I didn't know at the time, but I was actually following Seth's advice. I was instinctively showing up and sharing almost everything I was creating on a daily basis. I had committed to several 365-day projects in my sketchbook. I would show my process and insights as well as the finished pieces. For more information about how to incorporate Instagram as part of your creative business, please check out my Skillshare class, Instagram Success for Artists: 2 week challenge to grow your following. I do feel the dominance of Instagram for many illustrators may distract from other ways of attracting potential clients, so I'd like you to keep an open mind. The other two effective ways of driving traffic to my website, is by writing blogs and through Pinterest. I actually started a blog in mid 2013, enthusiastically called it, The Illustration Soul Journey, as I wanted to document my return to illustration, and I'm not sure if anyone was actually reading it. My blog filled that gap in the interim period when I didn't have enough decent art to put on a website. The key here is, I got used to sharing my images and process way before Instagram. In the last year alone, my blog brought 10,000 visitors to my website. This is actually more than those who are clicking the profile link on Instagram. Bringing this back to the marketing point I made earlier, I write my blog to help others with posts about passive income, keeping sketchbooks, or practicing perseverance. I did also write a blog post about Pinterest in late 2015, as it was already having a huge impact for me in finding illustration clients. For me, 75-80 percent of my illustration clients find me via Pinterest. It is a visual search engine, so when you type in food illustration, vegetables, you get a great selection of images, which includes my leeks and tomatoes very high up in the searches. Imagine an art director undertaking these types of searches for kids books or hand lettering. Another example is, if you type in watercolor flowers, this is my time-lapse video that comes high up. I'm taking a look at my statistics. You can see it's been viewed over 1.5 million times and saved 40,000 times, and it links back to my organic and expressive florals class on Skillshare. This link click says, 1,400 times links back to my class. Coming up with effective marketing doesn't happen overnight and will take considerable time to fine-tune. It's about the long-term success over the short-term buzz that people may quickly forget about. In Seth Godin's view, one of the fundamental flaws in marketing strategies is the assumption that you have to reach lots of people. He thinks what you actually need to do is earn their trust. He says, "Being known by lots of people isn't really the goal, what you're really seeking is to be trusted, to be heard, to be talked about, and to matter." 19. Income Streams and Earnings Breakdown: From day 1, I wanted to live comfortably using just the income from my art and illustration. Your definition of comfortable and my definition may be different, but I think it's probably what many of us aspire to. We each have different lifestyles and uses for the money we attract. In this section, I'm starting with why diversifying income as an illustrator is advantageous and why it's been essential for my success. I'll also be covering the income aspect of the industry as it rarely seems to be addressed, or at least there's very little information publicly available. As a self-employed illustrator, I have very little control over when an art director may reach out to me with a good project. In the early days, months may go by without a commissioned project. Luckily I had my income from the stock images and I've steadily built up more ways of earning income from my art and illustrations. When client work is slow, it fills you with crippling doubts and puts you in a scarcity mindset, and that's how you end up saying yes to less than ideal projects with tiny budgets. When you have an income from 3, 4, or 5 plus creative sources, it reduces the risk of being left without any income. If one source of income is low, you have other sources to help you get by. It also helps you avoid boredom at work by giving you different things to do every day. Just a few examples of diverse income could be selling custom art on Etsy. Create and sell design templates on creative market. Sell greetings cards on print-on-demand sites. Sell digital goods like guides, download screensavers on your website, or develop e-courses and sell them on your website. Choose and set up one income stream at a time. The planning and launching of a new stream is the most time-consuming. Avoid the temptation of jumping into several ideas at once as putting your focus into many areas at once will dilute your efforts and slow you down. Very importantly, the process must be enjoyable. If it's not fun, you're never going to stick with it. Building successful income streams takes patience and time. So enjoyment is key. This is the average from my income streams over the last three years. Breaking it down into these percentages. I received 39 percent from teaching. This includes online, in-person workshops, and includes my Skillshare classes and a few other teaching platforms. Those in-person watercolor workshops were in London and New York. I received 36 percent of my income from commissioned client work. It is mainly food illustration for brand packaging, some editorial and publishing. Fourteen percent comes from art licensing and surface design. The bulk of this was from greetings cards, but it also included other paper products and gift where 10 percent is from the stock images. I still get a wonderful income from those stock doodle images, even after all these years. One percent was from Etsy. That was when I would be selling tea towels and it was only for a very limited time. When you only have one source of income, if it's based on client work dependent on someone else's approval, it's tough to be flexible, as most of us are likely to be self-employed. Remember we are our own boss and we can take control of what works for us. There are many aspects of income we can control. A diverse income is so important for freelance artists as it gives you peace of mind. When you spread out the ways you can earn money, you can cushion yourself against those slow times. This in turn gives you the ability to take on projects that really excite you, or create more personal projects and meaningful illustrations. Finally I want to give you specific figures for how much I made when I was just starting out. It's rare to get that kind of information, but I think it can be very valuable at the beginning of your illustration career, and it can help you to be realistic. Remember I'm in the UK and the tax system in your country will probably be completely different. In the first year of trading under my own name, I earned £18,000 before tax and expenses were deducted. The following year in 2017, I more than doubled the previous year, reaching my comfortable level of earnings. I felt such an incredible sense of relief. I went to Greece with my kids that summer, and it was such a beautiful way to celebrate with lots of good food and swimming in the Ionian Sea. To reach this stage, it had taken almost four years since I took that make up that sales course in 2013. The illustration industry can be incredibly tough, but it can be sustainable financially as well as incredibly rewarding. I know money is always a difficult subject, but I wanted to open this discussion and give you as much information as I can. I will talk more about this in the fees and negotiating video. 20. Editorial and Publishing : I know the field of illustration is huge, so rather than going over each and every niche, I'm going to concentrate on the ones that I've experienced personally. I've not done medical illustrations or architectural visualizations. In this video and the next few videos, I'll give you an overview of editorial, publishing, branding, packaging, art licensing, and teaching. Each one of these markets could actually be classes in their own right. Although editorial illustrations are made to describe a particular idea, they always accompany a text. The main aim of this type of illustration is to enhance and better express the idea and overall vibe of a written piece. The types of editorial illustrations depend on the texts they are drawn for. There are illustrations for web resources like blogs, web magazines, or news. Books for adults, fiction and non-fiction, children's books, non-fiction children's books, encyclopedias, and also interactive books for tablets. Then there are newspapers and magazines. Editorial illustration can be used wherever text is important as it's an essential companion. Editorial illustration was what I started out doing way back in the late 1990s. Most of my work was used for health, beauty, and lifestyle magazines, everything from horoscopes to yoga poses, as I could actually illustrate people well. In order to show that I was confident with my figure work style, I would take a few articles that I liked and illustrate them myself, so an art editor could see my approach. They like to see that you can visually present the articles key point with artwork that compliments it. When you're assigned a brief, there will be details like sizes, layout, some ideas the editor might have, and also flagging up considerations such as where the type will sit on a cover, the overall mood. The editorial illustrator's job is to create an engaging image that both supports and explains the accompanying text. Whether you are asked to work on a cover, a half-page, a full page, or a series of spot illustrations, it's good to show you can work on several different scales and adapt your compositions accordingly. The mechanics of editorial illustration range is not only from publication to publication, but also these days, print magazines need to take into account how the layouts work on digital platforms, for mobile devices, as well as published articles on websites. Editorial illustration commissions tend to be rather last minute with very tight deadlines, usually a matter of days. Depending on the time given for the job, you need to show them that you can work faster with sketches, that you're concise in your ideas, and quick in the execution. This very rapid turnaround was one of the reasons I couldn't carry on with editorial after the birth of my first child. I don't think the fees have really shifted that much in the last 20 years either, in my opinion. Now, I'm going to quickly show you some of the examples that I've worked on within the editorial field. This was for the Sunday Times Magazine. It was a series of four illustrations and the article was called Top Destinations for 2016. The art director had already picked out which text he wanted illustrated. It was for Kenya, Sri Lanka, Costa Rica, and San Francisco. However, I had to decide which aspects I wanted to illustrate. For San Francisco, for example, the iconic Golden Gate Bridge, and as the text mentioned a new Mexican restaurant, I included a plate of tacos. This example is for Waitrose Food Magazine. It was for a special feature about woks, and they needed a series of spot illustrations based on very simple liner with a tiny bit of color. This is a section that explains different steamers that you could use, and also this shows how to season your wok. These are actually the original line works that I created for them, and then I scanned them in and worked on them. The full-color illustrations were created in Photoshop. The art director had actually seen my sketchbook stuff on Instagram. Book publishing can be a rich source of commissioned illustrations. The four main areas on both print-based and digital platforms are fiction, non-fiction, educational, children's books, and graphic novels. Artwork can be commissioned for covers, as well as the interior illustrations. It can just be line art or full color. Often there's a large team involved, which would include the editor, art director, perhaps the page layout designer, author, and you, the illustrator. Turnaround time for book publishing, in my experience, are much longer, often weeks or months, as many factors have to be taken into consideration. There's a lot of communication between all the team members before the final artwork can be signed off. Here are two examples that I created illustrations for. This is for the Healthy Hedonist book cover. The author, Nicole, found me on Instagram. The story was she wasn't happy with the previous version of this book cover, and she searched up #food illustration, on a train going to London and found my work. Her book is about using natural ingredients like mango and papaya, along with things like kale and cucumber, and even peas added to the cocktails to make them healthy. It was her idea to put a pea cooler cocktail on the front cover because she knew I did a lot of fruit and vegetable illustrations. My illustrations also cover the spine, and there's fruit and vegetables that appear on the back cover. The brief that I received from the editor said to leave room for the title text in the top right, and to leave a space on the back cover for more text. But I was pretty much given free reign with color and composition. The SugarDetoxMe book was a phenomenal body of work, and it was put together incredibly quickly. This time it was the author that contacted me and said, I need 100 illustrations for this cookery book. My illustrations appear at the beginning of every chapter, so it's like a meal plan featuring my illustrations. Little ingredients like spinach, coconut milk, salmon, as well as items like baking trays, dishes, graters, and colanders. Because it was such a rush job, it really made me focus on streamlining my process, which really helped for later projects. 21. Branding and Packaging : One of the illustration's most powerful uses when it comes to branding is visualizing complex, abstract ideas like freshness, community, or security. This is very valuable to companies because it makes it easier for potential customers to understand what their values are. Some of the most admired brands use illustration to make their products appear friendly, approachable, and far less intimidating than if it was just described in a block of text. Brands can use illustration to appear unique, and authentic, and to distinguish themselves from competitors and to create a strong connection with their audience. Most of the brands I've worked with have required food illustration to uphold the message of their business, whether it's a pop-up food event in Toronto, or an organic supermarket on the West Coast of America. When it comes to packaging, brand image is typically built up of several different visual elements, the logo, color palette, and a particular font. Furthermore, the images together with the design of the pack have to stand out on a shelf, and be visually appealing. The food clients I've had the pleasure of working with always want to create a strong brand image to ensure the customers associate their product with high-quality ingredients and maximum taste. In almost all of these cases, I worked with a design agency chosen by the client to handle this project. It's often the account handler who will reach out to me asking about availability, pass on the basic details of a brief, so I can offer a quote. Often with larger brands, I have to sign an NDA. If I get the green light, there will be a detailed mood board based on a lot of market research which shows their ideas and intended outcomes. Unfortunately, I can't show you any of them because of those NDAs. I often have to cc mail three or four people when emailing sketches or color roughs. That doesn't even include their client, the food manufacturer, who will make the final decision on how their pack would look, which could be after two or three rounds of presentations. There's a lot of back and forth deciding on the tone or the texture of each food icon, or where there needs to be more contrast, for example. Generally, I include two rounds of feedback or amendments in my contract, which is often enough before the artworks are signed off. The packaging for Olive Branch was one of the first jobs I took on for a small company who imported all this produce from their family olive farm in Crete. They have extended their range over the years and I have been able to work with them on all their packaging. The brand logo was designed by a graphic designer, and he also came up with the concept and layout for all the foods on this label. There's a misconception when I'm contacted by very small food manufacturers that I take care of everything on a label from the logo to print-ready artwork, but the case is I just supply illustrations which a designer will place and compose within a design. I'm showing you this label for English Provender apple, pear, and fig chutney, as is interesting to see how the figs on the Olive Branch label are slightly different and how they've been used differently within these layouts. In this case, I worked with quite a large design team and the account handler said, they first saw my work on Pinterest. The brief for New Covent Garden Soup was really great because I went through a phase when I was pregnant of craving the fish chowder, so I have fond memories of that. This was what's called a re-brand, where they're updating the look and feel of the previous packaging. What a lot of these brands do is give me a concept of how they want the final product to look using work they've grabbed off my website, which is great because I had a lot of tomatoes and herbs already. Although you do have to remember, you're trying to fulfill their vision, so you have to take on board their suggestions. In this case, they just wanted loads of extra splatters in the artwork. I want to add, there is often an advanced fee before I start sketching. Time-wise, if it's a small selection of products, it can take several weeks. Although in some cases it can take several months if there are a lot of different products that my illustrations will be placed on. I don't mind working like this as it's a little bit of illustration or tweaks each day, and it fits into my lifestyle. I always work in lots of layers in Photoshop because they often want to make those little changes, and it means that I can easily do that without destroying the artwork. I would work on food branding all the time if I could. I'm often asked if I get bored of food illustration, and quite honestly, I don't. Food makes me happy on so many levels, and also seeing the products on the shelf is such a thrill, and it makes me really, really proud. I just wish that I could go to Singapore or Australia to see some of the products I've illustrated. 22. Art Licensing and Surface Design: The first online course I took, [inaudible] House, was very much geared towards art licensing within the field of surface design like paper products, fabric, and gift items to name a few. Surface design is the development of prints and patterns that can be applied by companies on their products like housewares, clothing, decor, or kitchenware. You don't always sell the original art, but simply license the images for use on commercial products. For me, it required a different way of approaching my business than what I was used to, as you had to create themed art and illustrations in advance rather than being commissioned. It was a huge learning curve for me finding out how to research trends, seasonal color palettes, learning how to create collections. Initially, I found it very tricky to get my head around this way of working, especially the understanding of trends along with how different designs needed to be suitable for lots of different products. I was able to attend my first art licensing trade show, Surtex in 2015, originally, by agreeing to help out an artist who had a booth there, but by the time of the show, I had signed with an art agent and my work was also on display at her booth. It was a very exciting time for me and I loved meeting all the different artists who were exhibiting there and walking the show. At the time, licensing trade shows were the main way to attract clients just about every major manufacturer and [inaudible] buyers, and also smaller manufacturers visited this show in New York. It was there that I first met some of my long-term clients who I still work with, along with Nate and Salli from They Drawing and Cook. There are many classes on Skillshare about surface design and surface pattern, which I urge you to check out if you're interested in creating artwork for this market. Although I do have a lot of products as a result of art licensing, I wanted to show you these particular examples because they came from my sketchbook work. This pink blossom gift bag and card by Design Design is really pretty. It was not my intention when I created the actual sketch that it was going to go onto gift bag, and the same again with this fish napkin. The art director had been following me for a while on Facebook, and he was actually able to meet up with me at a London trade show, and he said, "Please bring along your sketchbooks." He must have a photographic memory, because he would say, "Oh I remember that fish in your sketchbook and I need it for a particular slot." He did actually use to get a little annoyed with me because I was always really slow submitting my art and I would be a little bit behind with the trends. Even so, it was a great relationship. He has retired, but he still keeps up with my work on Instagram. This is fabric that called Make Lemonade by Northcott. Again, it was from a sketchbook piece that I created this pattern from. I want to point out again, this sketch was never conceived as part of a pattern or a collection, and it wasn't until I was at the blueprint show that I was approached and asked by the client to expand it into a fabric collection. I didn't know how to put a collection together, so I had to ask fellow teacher, [inaudible] to help me, and she helped me to think through some ideas. I eventually settled on the theme of lemonade recipe with jugs, hand lettering, and other lemon items for this 12 piece fabric collection. These products: the bowls, napkins, and table runners, are my favorite pieces to date. I am so pleased to have a homeware collection like this. The art director had originally seen similar work on my website and she checked out my Instagram and saw these. This was one of the very few projects where I was specifically asked to create vector artwork from my watercolors because of the printing process on these bowls. I do often receive questions from those not familiar with art licensing industry who have preconceived ideas of how it should be approached, and I have to tell them I may not be the best source of advice for their particular needs. First off, I don't create collections anymore, and even when I did, they would be no more than five or six designs at most. I don't even add to my licensing portfolio anymore as I tend to work with a small number of repeat clients who follow me on Instagram. These days, most of my art licensing royalties are from greetings cards, which I probably enjoy creating the most. 23. Teaching: Teaching was not something I considered at all when beginning my journey. However, I've since discovered that I really, really enjoy it, and that teaching art and illustration online and also in person is a fantastic way to add another revenue stream. It also gives me the chance to meet other artists at different stages of the journey and all over the world. It was actually Skillshare that first reached out to me because I had created several student projects for the classes I've taken myself. I totally ignored Skillshare's first email to me because I didn't feel there was anything I can teach. They did eventually coax me onto their month-long teacher training program, but these first attempt stalled because I had such an old Mac I couldn't load iMovie. It wasn't until the summer of 2016 that I finally launched my first class called illustrate your favorite fruity recipe, a tutorial on creating an illustrated recipe from line sketches. As soon as it launched, the class attracted more students than I was expecting and the amazing project soon started rolling in. I was just so gobsmacked as I had no idea this class was going to create such a buzz. I found this to be really encouraging. I eventually created 12 classes over 12 months, which sounds incredible, but they were mainly short tutorials. One of the biggest benefits for me was the community aspect that built up around teaching, and the meaningful relationships that I formed with other Skillshare teachers and also the students themselves. I love seeing their interpretations of certain concepts and demonstrations and how they had made it really unique to them. Many of these students would never have been able to study with me in person if I didn't teach online classes. In 2018, I was able to host the first of my in-person watercolor workshops in a little gallery in my home town. It was such a joyous event and I was totally thrilled with this approach. Soon after, there were more in-person watercolor workshops in London which had such a great group energy that I adored. The last in-person workshop was in New York at Skillshare headquarters, and it felt like I was on a high the whole time as I really loved meeting everyone and I just wished we had longer that evening. If you'd like to consider teaching, these are some of the considerations that you might need to look at. Decide what to teach. It can feel overwhelming, so it's best to identify the easiest things that you do. Best to start with pen and paper, write down every technique you use in your art and illustrations, and then break it down into the smallest steps possible to get a good idea of what to teach. Then you have to decide whether you want to do it in-person, in real-time or pre-recorded. I am actually filming this in a time of COVID, but it won't last forever. It's still worth asking yourself if you are excited by the idea of teaching a live class and interacting with students or if you'd like to prefer to record yourself creating a piece and then editing the video in post-production. Teaching a live course would allow you to interact and provide feedback to your students in real time, you could sell your online lessons on your own website. This would allow you to retain customer information as well as a 100 percent of the profits. You could also incorporate live chats and demos via Zoom, which would allow you to interact in real time with your students. One of the advantages of established online teaching platforms like Skillshare and Teachable is you can quickly get up and running with a structured course. It's also a lot easier to get visibility in a marketplace than promoting on your own website and being a solo teacher. I promised you I'm not the most technically minded person, and producing the first class is really stretched my ability in this area. I started very basic, using my iPhone and a small microphone. I also had an iPhone clamp placed on my coffee table in front of my patio door so I could only use daylight. Editing the video was also a learning curve. Overall, there's a big initial investment of time. Teaching in person and online fulfills my life goal of inspiring others with their creativities. Seeing their energy, enthusiasm, and talent of students is really inspiring and actually helped me to be a better teacher, an artist. Creating a space for students to grow and explore when I share useful knowledge is a really wonderful feeling. 24. Clients: Finding and Contacting: How do you get the actual illustration work? Again, this is a process that will become easier over time as you gain confidence. Before I start, I want to say this is purely based on how I used to find clients. There are lots of different techniques that work for different people. In the very early days, I started by doing an awful lot of research in the areas I was specifically interested in. I would research magazines that carried illustrations or go to a bookstore with a pen and paper and write down all the publishers that used illustration, it will sometimes have the name of the designer on the inside cover. I would also read other artist's blogs that have work similar to mine and find out who would commission them. Often, I would flip over the underside of the greetings card and calendars and see another illustrated products that I liked and take a look at the company name, which is often written somewhere on the product, and then go back and research the website later. You do need to be realistic about the places that would commission work with a style similar to yours. This is really important as you don't want to waste your time submitting to places where you definitely wouldn't fit because it's unlikely you'll get a response. There are different ways that you can approach the research, the easiest is literally to Google it, you can type in book illustration commissions in the search bar and you instantly have a list of places that are currently accepting submissions. I also found that LinkedIn was a good place to find out who the important people commissioning an illustrations would be. I basically type in, art director and XYZ company or the publication, and you would get a whole series of names come up and you would have to research them individually. I would log all this information into a really simple spreadsheet that would have the company name, the name of the art director, and their contact information. Many company websites will have a submissions page or a link that says contact or careers and often the website will state their submission requirements. Sometimes you might send an email or have to complete a form, and you'd also have to send some information about yourself with samples of your work. Some will ask for a specific number of images and only accept lo-res files. Every submissions page is different, so make sure you do follow their rules. Since you would probably be sending out dozens of emails to art directors and editors, I would often keep a general template email for submissions and then I would copy and paste various different sections depending on who the potential client would be, and then also try to make the emails as personal as I could. Directly emailing an art director at a publishing house or magazine may seem very daunting than it actually is. At one point I would actually phone them but these days I know people prefer email. Here's a few emailing tips that have really worked for me, I know these may not work for everyone. Choose a relevant subject line, something simple like, I'm interested in working with you or artwork for consideration, usually works well. Keep it short. The people reading these emails are very busy, so let them know your name and what you do which can easily be covered in one sentence. Also write another sentence mentioning something more personal about why you want to work with them. Although it can be disheartening when you don't get a response, it's very often because they don't have the right project for you yet. The editor of Artists and Illustrators magazine had my info for several years before he contacted me about a project last year about illustrating food in your kitchen. Often if they like your work, they will keep your details on record and contact you if they have a project that requires your skills or style. It is worth contacting them again, maybe in six months if you have worked on a new project and you want to show them an updated portfolio, this way you can remind them of who you are and what you do. As I said, this is what I used to do in the very early days and I did receive some positive responses saying, "Yes, we would love to work with you in the future" and then hear nothing again. However, since 2015, I have not had to reach out to art directors because they have often sought me out, this is due to me being very clear about the niche I wanted to work in and setting up my marketing. My whole marketing was based around those who would commission food projects. It was very much a case of working smarter, not harder. One more thing, if you do receive rejection emails, it does actually mean you have been seen by someone and they've taken the time to respond to you, take a moment to be proud of yourself for having the confidence to put your illustrations out there, and recognize that rejection often means you're pushing your own limits outside of your comfort zone. It is actually possible to learn more about your clients, build your confidence, and become a better illustrator by learning how to approach rejection differently, so don't let rejection make you doubt yourself or your skills. 25. Clients: Fees and Negotiating: At the beginning, when you're approached by a client offering your a project, it can be really exciting, but also a little daunting. You might actually be thinking right now, this lesson is so short because it's such an important topic. Actually, the aspects of contracts and pricing can be a whole another class in itself, since there are so many variables to consider depending on which market the illustration will be used for, if it's black and white, or color, the usage rights, and also in which countries. So rather than talk about specifics, I want to outline the most important aspects of fees, contracts, and negotiation, as every single pay project will have different considerations and levels of complexity. What I say are just general guidelines based on my own experiences. Please don't overwhelm yourself if you're new to this as there is a lot to take in. First of all, I highly recommend buying a copy of the Graphic Artists Guild Handbook. The original price of my version was $40, but I actually found it second-hand. When I started out, it was an invaluable resource as it had everything from legal rights and issues, standard contracts, artists agreement forms, and a very helpful pricing guide for illustrations. This covers comparative fees for everything from book covers, fashion and lifestyle illustrations, technical illustrations, and so on. There's also a chapter on fees for surface design and textiles for things like woven tablecloths to gift wrap. Even today, I use this book to refer to for every project that comes in. Just as my first paid commissions came in, I joined the association of illustrators in the UK. I had been a member after I left college, so I knew that they too could provide me with a wealth of information for the membership fee. One of the perks was that department that would help you with quoting fees for new projects to ensure that my fees were in line with the current industry levels for a specific commission. As membership was for one year, I made full use of it, and I became more confident about what to quote, what to look for in a contract, and also asking for advances and cancellation fees. Please don't hold a scarcity mindset and think, I can't afford that book or I can't join that professional body. Think of things like this as an investment in yourself and your future business, placing value on your work. It is a wonderful feeling that I get to do what I love as career. It's also worth remembering that I have invested an incredible amount of time, effort, learning, and money into this career. To reflect this, I expect to be paid accordingly. For my food illustration, for branding, I charge per icon, even if it's a simple slice of lemon. That lemon has many years worth of expertise and refinement behind it. Often, there are hours of research, sketching different concepts and routes to ensure a client receives the best possible video solution for their needs. Even if you are starting out, you should still expect the going rate. Try to remember it is a business transaction and sometimes potential clients need to be educated about the true value of what we do as illustrators. The first stage of forming a contract will happen when an illustrator is approached by a potential client, often via email. These days that is more common than a phone call. Some clients will be very thorough and give you a clear outline of what they need, while others may be a little bit more wooly. You must make sure you fully understand what's required and under what terms. At this stage, you need to be diligent about how many images are acquired, what size they'll be reproduced at, and where the work will be published. It's always worth asking if it's for a pitch, where they have been contacting other illustrators about the same project and they're waiting to hear back on all the different fees that have been quoted. One of the trickiest things about being a freelance illustrator is setting your pricing. There is no such thing as a standard rate, so you have to put in effort to research rates that are acceptable for you and your client. Fees for different commissions will be based on usage, duration, and territory. Generally, the longer your illustrations will be used, the greater the size and the territory, the higher the fee. Judging fees for projects will improve with experience, which may include making a few mistakes. Although it is unfortunate, it is part of the overall learning curve of being an illustrator. Before accepting any commissions, make sure you are satisfied with everything. It's much better to ask for more time if you think you need to think things through rather than make rash decisions. It's quite normal to consult your handbook or the association of illustrators to gain a clearer view of how to proceed. Being professional with your reply, outlining areas you wish to negotiate is common. Please, make the client aware if you have any concerns. Here are some tips that work for me. If it's a really big project, ask for a Zoom call to clarify or better understand what is expected. One time, I didn't realize a client wanted me to arrange the icons within a pleasing layout, and in the end, I had to hire a graphic designer to help me. Always ask what the client's budget is. Many times, it's more than what you might ask for. There is never any harm in asking. Go in with a slightly higher quote so that there is room for you to bring down the fee a little bit during negotiations where you have settled on something that is acceptable for both of you. Ask if there's an advance because most of the time they will be open to this if it is a larger project. Always ask for more time if the deadline is very tight and you have to work around existing projects. You shouldn't overwork yourself to fit whatever short deadline they give you, as you likely won't give the best results. If the proposed usage is unreasonable, offer an alternative or your preferred terms. Be assertive about your requirements, and renegotiate if necessary. Every contract should have details of the following, usage, how the image is to be used by the client. It can have multiple uses across different media, like print and digital. Duration, the length of time the client can use the image for. Territory, where the product will be used or sold, and in which countries. Finding out exactly what clients need to use the work for enables fair returns and helps you negotiate fees appropriately. It doesn't happen often, but it has happened to me when a job is canceled halfway through or if the client decides the final artwork doesn't meet their expectations. I recommend making it a habit to include a rejection fee in your contract. This can be anywhere between 50 to 100 percent of the full price. 26. Self Care: Self-care was something that I really struggled with. In fact, I don't think I gave it much attention when I was starting that transition, which in hindsight was a huge mistake. Being an illustrator has many challenges as we are entrepreneurs and we have to wear a ton of different hats. Many times I was wearing too many hats and the consequences were poor physical and mental health. Because when you're trying to juggle social media, personal work, client work, dealing with divorce and becoming a single parent, something has to give. I actually had two bouts of pneumonia in three years because I was so run-down and pretty much running on empty. I had gone to extremes in the pursuit of consistently creating quality work for clients and pushing myself out of comfort zones when producing personal work. I was chasing my own tail, working far too many hours, not giving my body the rest and nourishment it needed. This lead to burnout in 2018. I didn't find joy in creating some aspects of illustration. It wasn't a productive time for me. There are times even now when I struggle to find a balance between being creative, being a mother, being a businesswoman, and finding the time for myself. I am a lot better than I used to be. What I realized in 2018 is I have to stay healthy as my kids deserve a happy mom and also to sustain a long illustration business, it's in my interest to stay healthy, both mentally and physically. I now have some daily self-care practices that have really helped me to be mindful, be present, and stay strong so I can keep on making a living from my passions. Since I started doing these things consistently a few years ago, I've been able to enjoy what I do much, much more and have been able to improve myself confidence as a mother and illustrator. I was often teetering on overwhelm, wrapped up in all kinds of anxieties. Although I still have to deal with challenges, my mindset and outlook when I'm faced with them has changed dramatically. I had to take a long hard look at where my business stood in mid 2018. I had to put on my realistic and pragmatic hat. I realized I've been saying yes to projects from fear of missing out. The makeup, that sales course was very heavy on art licensing and I pursued it relentlessly with an art agent and later with a solo show. For sure, art licensing suits many artists and illustrators. But I realized it really didn't suit my particular lifestyle, my family circumstances, or the way I like to work. I said no to the paths that I didn't enjoy and yes to the path I did, which was basically greetings cards. Furthermore, I started saying no to illustration projects with smaller budgets. I realized my time was precious and I could only say yes to my top priorities. I tried to stay as balanced and mindful as possible mentally. I do this by writing out my feelings and thoughts every morning. Basically a massive brain dump of what I have planned for the day, ideas, and all the anxieties. By working through them like this, I often find simple solutions popping up. I find that is a great way to declutter all the different thoughts that are spinning through my mind and to organize those that could be useful and let out the ones that are really bothering me. I also try to have another quiet moment to myself before going to bed by writing down a few things that I'm grateful for and things I did well that day, even if it was simply finding the cat and taking her to the vets. Walking was something I didn't do very much. Often spending whole days cooped up indoors during the winter. It actually started with a count to 10K jogging challenge with my friend and we discovered new route in the countryside around where we live. But on the days we didn't run, I would find myself craving those country lanes or leafy walks. I post IG story called walk and thoughts where I would share little snippets of how I was feeling that day. I had no distractions of e-mails or kids, so it gave me a chance to find pockets of stillness and quiet. Similar to journaling, walking helped me to sort out that jumble and disorder of my head. Overall, those almost daily outings have improved my self-perception and self-esteem as well as my general mood. Running a creative business is tough, especially when you're running on empty. Now I try to be present, take authentic action, and always show up with a caring attitude. I have now been able to create more breathing space for what's important and the things I love and the people I love. 27. Final Thoughts: I hope this class has helped aspiring illustrators to try and pursue their passions. By just watching to the end of this class, you have shown some determination to find out a little bit more about the illustration industry and how you can carve out a really unique place within it. Illustration is a competitive and demanding profession requiring a diversity of skills and expertise. The myth of a starving artist is exactly that. It's a myth and quite harmful as I am proof it is possible. I honestly did start with nothing. I'm not more intelligent than you. I don't have the best drawing skills or even the best marketing tactics, but somehow I have managed to carve out the career of my dreams even after a painful divorce. I hope this illustrates with some courage and determination. If I can do this, you have the potential too. The illustration career I had before having kids was rather enjoyable to begin with. I totally overhauled my portfolio after graduation because I couldn't find any takers for the Moody Mono prints that I produced as a student. Magazines at the time had illustrations of rather beautiful women. So I decided to jump on this bandwagon and filled my portfolio with figure work of trendy people. Although financially it was a great move. Seven years down the line and heavily pregnant, I was slowly fading away every time I received a brief with yet another suntan beauty. I know from first-hand experience that maneuvering a portfolio purely for financial rewards rather than joy is not sustainable. That's why starting in 2013, I bent over backwards to carve out a path through illustration that would be worthwhile and engaging for me. This illustration career I have now is everything I dreamed of as it gives me the lifestyle that I want. 2020 was the year of COVID, so I wasn't able to visit Northern Thailand or Dubai with my kids, but they will still be there when we are able to travel and I still have massive dreams of traveling the world. Talent on its own won't get you where you want to be. Set your priorities based on what feels right for you and gain knowledge of your market or niche, along with the ability to network, telling others what you can do and having a portfolio of work to backup your claims is a great aim. Create your own momentum with personal work as a magnet to draw in the clients and the projects you want. Don't feel too pressured to bend yourself towards trends. Just be yourself and belief that others would like and appreciate your art and eventually some would like your illustrations enough to exchange it for good money. Your portfolio should only contain work you feel proud of. Include illustrations that reflects what you genuinely enjoy creating rather than based on any style or trend. If you're still at the beginning of your transition as an illustrator, you mustn't get disheartened if you're portfolio isn't quite the complete package yet, and please don't worry about taking a few years to get that portfolio into shape. As you saw and heard, it's taken quite a while for me to gain a comfortable income for my illustrations. The bottom line is having a lot of patients, if you're still trying to work out how to be noticed and make a sustainable career in this industry. If you feel undecided about whether to take the leap, take a piece of paper, and ask yourself, what do I gain by not doing anything about pursuing a career in illustration or any creative business? Write down everything that comes to mind, and then write down what could I gain from pursuing a career in illustration and then compare the two, and this might help you to decide. Please use those PDFs to write your ideal future where illustration plays a role in your happiness. I really look forward to seeing your Pinterest boards that will reflect how unique and amazing you are. I urge you to go create that compelling future where you're using your skills and abilities in areas of constant growth for an extraordinary creative life as an illustrator.