I recently made a guest appearance on a podcast by fellow artist Chris Oatley. Chris’s work includes freelance illustration, comics, and visual development for the animation industry. His podcast is called Chris Oatley’s ArtCast, and can be found on the web at ChrisOatley.com or on iTunes. I highly recommend you take a listen.
Chris contacted me a while back and we have been having an on-again off-again conversation about artists and the web ever since. Both of us share a philosophy of teaching, learning, and sharing, and want to encourage the same throughout the artist community.
I admire Chris and the work he has done so far. He has a blog where he shares his work and art in-progress, he is open and honest while talking about art in his podcast, and he also creates video tutorials where he teaches digital painting tips. He is absolutely dedicated to creating and sharing, and I can’t help seeing a kindred spirit in him.
In the episode of his podcast, we are joined by animator and motion graphics designer Paul Caggegi of The Process Diary, and we discuss the ever-growing importance of the web in the lives of artists everywhere in the hope that we encourage other artists to get started with their own web presence and creations.
Me and the Internet
If you are familiar with my work and websites, you probably already know that I am a big advocate of the web. It started with a portfolio site and a small sketch blog, and later launched this website, DaniDraws.com, plus a smattering of other small projects and sites. These include a Ustream show, and active Twitter stream, and a Daily Doodles blog. All are helping me in my greater goal of making a living as a freelance illustrator in ways that I never would have predicted when I started out. It has been rewarding, and as I continue to experiment, I am excited to see where it will lead.
The World of the Web
The way I see it, the world of art and illustration has already made its move onto the web. If you are an artist, especially a new or up-and-coming artist, you MUST have a website. I would even go so far as to say that it is also necessary to have a blog.
However, I would consider this the BARE MINIMUM of what you should be doing on the internet to help promote yourself as an artist. A website and a blog will put you on even terms with your competition; now, it’s time to think of ways to move past them.
That’s where all this Web 2.0, social networking, and multimedia stuff comes in. New tools and resources are being created each day, and it would be a shame not to take advantage of that. I feel that the ones who best utilize these tools will be the ones who come out on top. Be INNOVATIVE, CREATE, and PRODUCE – this is what artists are supposed to be good at!
Find your strength.
You don’t have to do everything on the internet; you just have to find the best thing. You can start a webcomic, create a podcast, design t-shirts, or set up an Etsy shop. The list is really quite endless. Find something you will enjoy and stick to it.
Why did I start this blog? Because I express myself most clearly by writing and am able to create long tutorials and articles like this one, while also having fun doing it. I also love Photoshop, which is why I enjoy making the digital painting videos so much. I have a lot to share, and this blog provides the perfect way for me to share it. We all have our strengths. How will you use yours to help complement your artistic abilities?
Create something that matters.
Now, don’t go and set up a web shop and a Twitter account and expect the visitors and money to start rolling in. No matter how many blogs you make, social networks you join, or artists you meet, you will not get anyone to buy your products, commission your services, or visit your website if you don’t give them something of value in return.
Lots of artists have blogs. Lots of artists write tutorials and make videos. What makes my site so different? I consciously try to create something that is worth your time and effort to come here and read each blog post. I am shooting to create tutorials that will be in the top 10% of the stuff you run across on the internet each day.
This isn’t easy and takes a lot of work. That is why I said you really have to “find your strength” – you have to love what you do and be genuinely interested in sharing that with other people. Your viewers/readers/listeners will recognize that kind of dedication, which will keep them coming back for more and might even influence them to put down money for what you do. Give them something of value, and they will give back.
Why bother with all of this? Why make blogs or podcasts or Ustream shows at all? You just want to make pretty pictures, right?
If you concentrate on the right projects, they will help your greater goals through inspiration, motivation, and education. I create more artwork, meet more artists, and learn new skills more quickly all because of my “extra” activities.
As artists, we should be concentrating on CREATING. My web projects help me do that. I have found that if I can continue creating and producing, the monetizing and networking fall into place on their own.
You can’t sell artwork without an audience, you can’t interact with other artists if you don’t participate in the community. If I have learned anything over the past few years, it’s that the web is the perfect place to gain those kinds of relationships. Nowhere else is so much information so readily available and easy to access.
Everything is still kinda new, and we don’t know where the road will lead. Very few people, if any, have found the “right” solution yet. That’s why I am trying so hard to encourage YOU to participate. The best strategies have yet to be discovered, so go out and discover them.