An answer to almost every question I’ve ever gotten ever.

Shortcuts:

ADVICE AND PROCESS
DIGITAL PAINTING
HARDWARE
IPAD ART
BUSINESS AND MARKETING
PUBLISHING AND EBOOKS
TECHNICAL QUESTIONS
REQUESTS
OTHER



ADVICE AND PROCESS

How do I become an illustrator?

First, learn how to draw and paint (duh). You don’t need to be perfect, but you do need to be at a certain level that will be accepted professionally. If you don’t know if you are there yet, I suggest getting a portfolio critique.

Once you can draw and paint adequately enough to land a job, it is just a matter of getting your work in front of the right people. One of my main mantras is, “Make stuff. Show it to people.” That’s basically how it’s done, no matter how much more complicated you want to make it.

The point is to keep creating, whatever it is you want to do, whether that’s illustration, children’s books, comics, or whatever. Then share it – online, at conferences, to friends – wherever and whenever you can.

And then (and this is the part that I think most failed artists forget to do), go back and do it again. Study some more, make better art, and then share it. Over and over again until you start getting jobs. Eventually you will be good enough and eventually someone will want to hire you for it.

It’s a simple process. Not saying it’s not difficult because it is. But it really is that simple.

You can also read:

Advice for New Illustrators and Art School Graduates

Should I go to school? Where should I go?

It is definitely necessary to learn the skills of drawing and painting. For some people, this means school. Not for everyone. But you need to learn it somehow, and school is usually the easiest way. I personally would not have been able to do what I do without my schooling. And it provides other benefits like teacher and peer networking, mentorship, friends, business classes, set assignments, critiques, etc.

I ended up getting a BFA degree, but illustration is one of those careers where a degree isn’t necessary – it’s the work that speaks for itself. You only need a degree if you want to teach.

I can’t offer much advice about specific schools because I am unfamiliar with most of them. I personally went to BYU-Idaho, which happens to have a great program. However, I DO recommend you go to a place that won’t put you head over heels in debt. Illustration is not exactly a profession where you will be raking in the dough, and expense doesn’t always speak to the quality of the program. Find something with a strong drawing and painting foundation. Consider the history of the school, what kinds of artists have gone there, and if you are looking for a specific arena (e.g. animation, publishing, concept art, etc.) look for a program that caters to it.

Do you have any advice for art students?

Finish every assignment. Don’t complain. Experiment as much as you can. Learn as much as you can. Look at as much art as you can. Work hard.

When you get out of school, your work does not end. Continue to make assignments for yourself. Get better at drawing. Keep deadlines. Do not stop. Many unsuccessful artists are the ones who quit developing after graduation.

How do I develop a style?

Style is not so much a conscious thing that you can force upon yourself. It comes naturally over time as you learn processes and aesthetics that you like. You can only do that by drawing and painting as much as possible.

I feel that the artists with the strongest styles are the ones that not only know what they like, but also why they like it. Analyze your favorite artists, movies, stories, books, and painters. Use the techniques, media, subject matter, and other things that you like and incorporate them into your work. As you mix different things together and experiment, your style will evolve.

As you study, improve your craft. Do not use style as an excuse to ignore good drawing, perspective, painting, coloring, composition, storytelling, and rendering skills.

And remember, your style will not just suddenly arrive. It is an ever evolving process. Although you may approach a point where you are confident with your work, your style should never be set in stone. Even I am still finding my style.

Is it good or bad to have more than one style? How do I market multiple styles?

I say as long as you are awesome at what you do, you’re good. If you can do multiple things, show it.

Ways this could be a bad thing: Don’t try to market your multiple styles to someone if it doesn’t apply to them. It’s kinda useless to show off your photorealism style to a person who’s looking for whimsical cartoons.

Don’t market a second style unless you are awesome at that style. If having multiple styles is killing the quality of your work (i.e. “jack of all trades, master of none” syndrome), it’s probably best to stick to what you’re best at.

And as far as portfolio presentation, make your different styles clear. Have enough samples of each to show a solid direction for each style.

Just put yourself in an art director’s shoes: ADs like consistency in quality and style. You have to be able to show them with your work that you can create an illustration in a predictable manner. Hiring an artist is risky as it is. They won’t want to hire you if your work looks like it is all over the place.

What medium do you use for your illustrations?

Almost everything you see that is in my main portfolio, and all my published and client work, is painted digitally in Photoshop.

What’s your illustration process?

This is a very heavy question with many complicated answers. The basics are:

  1. I brainstorm and thumbnail out basic ideas. These are REALLY small and REALLY rough.

  2. I create a rough sketch. I will do this either directly in Photoshop via a digital tablet, or I will draw it with regular pencil and paper and scan it.

  3. I clean up the sketch in Photoshop.

  4. For more complicated illustrations, I will do several studies and color experiments in Photoshop before moving on to the final painting.

  5. I paint the painting in Photoshop.

I suggest you check out the many videos I’ve posted to YouTube and Ustream. I explain my process and answer questions in many of them. I would also browse through the Process category on the blog.

What brand of paint/paper/brush/pen/pencil do you use?

Most of my work is digital and I don’t work with real media art supplies as much as I’d like. However, you’ll see me using them occasionally for my sketch cards, commissions, and random sketches I’ve put on my blog and on Ustream.

These are some of the supplies I have used to make them:

  • Strathmore Vellum (bristol or smooth – I use them interchangeably and don’t have a preference. Bristol has more tooth.)

  • Water brush – A paintbrush that holds water in the handle. I’ve seen them sold at Michaels. Pentel makes a good one. I actually don’t use the water handle all that much, but the tip has held up well for me and it’s convenient to carry around, so I like to use it as my all-around brush.

  • Pentel Pocket Brush Pen – Hands down one of my favorite things ever.

  • Gouache – Gouache is my go-to painting medium of choice. It is opaque watercolor. You can render like acrylic or oil, and lift and fix the paint like watercolor. It dries fast and the paintings have a flat finish that scans incredibly well. If you’ve never used it, give it a try. I usually use Winsor & Newton or M. Graham brands.

  • Oddly enough, one of my favorite pieces of equipment I have ever bought is a good quality paper cutter. I use it all the time.

For more recommendations and art supply lists, check out:

What art books do you recommend?

My favorite figure drawing book is The Human Machine by George Bridgman.

My favorite art business book is Nuts & Bolts by Charles Hively. It is incredibly simple and direct.

If you want to get into children’s books, I HIGHLY recommend you read The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Publishing Children’s Books by Harold Underdown before you do anything else.

My favorite art theory book is Making Comics by Scott McCloud.

For inspiration, I look at a lot of animation “art of” books.

Lots of people ask me about digital painting books, but I honestly haven’t looked at many. I learned most of what I know from school, online tutorials, and practice. If you must have something for your library, I’d check out ImagineFX magazine.

For even more recommendations, I built an Amazon store that collects all my favorite books and supplies. I will try to keep it updated.

Do you have any advice for beginners?

Most people want to rush out the gate coloring in Photoshop, inking a comic, or fully rendering a head portrait. However, start with the core foundation skills of drawing and painting first. If I were to break it down, I’d say:

  1. Learn how to draw. I don’t mean learning how to sling a pencil or shading. I mean basic construction and perspective. Do not start off drawing faces and ponies – learn how to draw a box and a cone and a cylinder.

  2. Learn about color. Study theory and practice mixing paint.

  3. Learn to paint. Learn not only how to color, render, and shade, but how to do so attractively.

  4. Try many techniques and mediums. Most artists starting out don’t know a lot about what’s available and how different paints work. Each medium I have tried has informed my overall process and helped me find what I like and don’t like. I also recommend that artists not start on the computer. I find that the best digital painters are usually the ones who have a solid knowledge of traditional painting.

  5. Learn your medium well. Once you’ve found some techniques you like, master them. Know them so well that it becomes second nature. Learn the best brand names, techniques, and equipment. If you’re a digital painter, get to know your software through practice, experimentation, and tutorials.

Also remember that this is not a means to an end. Art is an ever ongoing process; you are always practicing and getting better. Probably any artist worth their salt, no matter how good they are, will tell you that they are not satisfied with their work and that they are still learning. Don’t fret too much about getting good enough and just enjoy the ride.

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DIGITAL PAINTING

What software do you use?

Almost every digital illustration you see of mine online is done in Adobe Photoshop. My coloring-book-style black line work is done in Adobe Illustrator.

If you’re looking for advice about any other software like Painter, Manga Studio, GIMP, etc. I can’t offer much advice. I use Photoshop almost exclusively (with the exception of iPad apps, explained in the next section).

How do you get so much texture in your digital paintings?

It is a combination of several things:

  1. Textured brushes, both custom made and ones I downloaded from other sources.

  2. The way I paint, which tends to be messy and painterly rather than flat.

  3. Layering textures on top of the painting, mostly photos and scans of things like tree bark, stone, and paint splotches.

I find that doing all of these things in varying degrees helps to make my digital paintings not so “digital”. I try to mix it up and not stick with one technique, because that tends to look fake.

I’ve made numerous posts about brushes and textures. Try

What Photoshop brush do you use?

This is one of the most frustrating questions I get because it is super hard to answer. I can’t just say, “I use THIS brush” because no one has the same brush set, and I switch up settings all the time. I could put up some brushes to download, but I don’t do that (see next question).

The best advice I can give you about Photoshop brushes is to learn how to make them, download a few and play with them, get to know the brush settings really well, and experiment a whole lot to find the effects that you like.

Here’s some info to get you started:

More posts:

Some of my favorite brushes from other people:

Can I download your brushes?

No, I generally don’t provide downloads of my specific brushes because most of them are brushes I downloaded from other sources. I’d rather you download them directly from the original creators!

I can’t tell you which ones specifically because honestly, I’ve forgotten where I got most of my brushes. However, I’m pretty sure most all came from one of the places I linked above. I usually edit and make several versions of a brush with different settings and textures.

How do you transfer your drawings to Photoshop?

I do my drawings for my paintings by either a) drawing them on paper and scanning them, or b) drawing them directly into Photoshop with a graphics tablet.

If you scan a paper drawing, it usually requires a little fixing up. Here’s a few how-to’s:

What is that weird shading thing you do in your digital paintings?

I occasionally get questions about a specific technique that can be seen in a lot of my videos where I shade by putting a layer of color over my painting.

The process is this:

  1. I block in my basic colors.

  2. I start a new layer on top and fill it with a darker color, usually a brown-ish red.

  3. I change the mode of this layer to Hard Light, Multiply, or Overlay, whatever looks best. I may also lower the opacity of the layer.

  4. I erase away this layer gradually with a textured brush, leaving the darkest darks and a few bits of texture remaining.

In traditional painting terms, this is similar to a liftout technique, and in fact I adapted this from a process I used to do with oil paint.

I’m not saying this is how you should shade your digital paintings, but this is one way that I do it. I don’t use it all the time. Now if you see the technique in one of my videos, you know what I’m doing!

What are your favorite resources for digital painting tutorials?

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HARDWARE

Do you use a tablet? What kind?

Yes, I currently use a Wacom Cintiq 24HD. You don’t need to go with something so big and expensive if you are just starting out. I gradually worked my way up to the Cintiq after years of working with other tablets. I started with a Graphire (now defunct, but there is a new entry-level tablet called the Bamboo) and then moved to the Intuos.

I also own a Modbook, which is a tablet computer made out of an Apple Macbook. I used it as my main workhorse for several years, and I still use it as a mobile workstation. Even though I like it a lot, I hesitate to recommend it as much (mostly to do with the company rather than the product, which you can read about on my blog). I own the older 2008 version. There is now a new company and an improved Modbook Pro, but I have no experience with them.

Which tablet should I buy?

I generally recommend the Wacom brand, which is pretty much a standard for digital artists. They make great products.

Start with a basic, less-expensive tablet like the Bamboo or Intuos. There is a bit of a learning curve when using a graphics tablet, so I usually don’t recommend that beginners get the huge Cintiq right from the get-go. It would be frustrating and very expensive.

Any recommendations for scanners?

I don’t have much opinion about scanners because I don’t have experience with a lot of them. I have actually used scanners less and less over the years since I draw most things digitally. I only use one for grabbing an occasional sketch out of my sketchbook or making digital copies of contracts and documents.

The technology in scanners is pretty standard all-around nowadays, and even basic scanners have fair resolution and color capability. Unless you are looking for something fancy, like an extra-large scan area or film scanning, just about anything will do. I am currently using the scanner on a simple all-in-one printer.

If you are looking for something that is trusted by most artists and photographers, I believe the Epson photo scanners are your best bet. I have never used one personally though.

How about printers?

I have an Epson R1900 large format printer. The large format capability has come in handy many times for printing portfolios and booklets and things, so I recommend it.

One thing that irks me about Epson printers is that if an ink cartridge runs out, it stops printing. Like at all. Even if you don’t care about that color or just need to print a quick document. They say this is so you won’t damage the printer. I think they just want you to pay for another cartridge. I don’t know if this is true of other brands, and otherwise I am happy with my printer. Just letting you know.

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IPAD ART

What iPad apps do you use?

A whole lot, but my favorites are Procreate, Sketchbook Pro, Brushes, and Artrage.

What kind of iPad should I buy?

All the iPad models are generally the same. The newer generations will run faster and support higher resolution artwork. The amount of memory or whether or not you get 3G is more or less inconsequential in terms of art-making. Get what you can afford.

What stylus do you use for your iPad?

My favorite is the Adonit Jot Touch stylus. There is also the regular Jot, which is not pressure-sensitive, but is a great stylus also (not to mention less expensive). The Wacom Bamboo iPad stylus is also one of my favorites. (Note that the Bamboo iPad Stylus is not the same thing as the Bamboo TABLET that you buy for your computer.) The Bamboo and Jot have different tips. The Bamboo has a rubber tip, while the Jot has a point with a plastic disk. They each feel different. I recommend getting one of those two depending on which tip you are most comfortable with.

Is the iPad good enough for pro art? Should I buy an iPad instead of a Cintiq or other tablet?

In general, yes you can create high quality work on the iPad. As a warning, it is a bit of a learning curve, but I am able to create work on my iPad that rivals my portfolio work. It is not, as many artists might think, limited to just sketches and doodles.

However, as far as professional work, it is still a challenge to produce high-resolution images on an iPad. There are several apps that can do it, but it is still limited. I would not recommend an artist buy an iPad to use as their main workhorse. It is not a replacement for a Cintiq or other tablet, but it makes a strong side tool to use in supplement to your main machine, for use on the road and whatnot.

I would recommend iPads mostly for artist hobbyists who don’t need the expensive Cintiq but want to try out digital art, or for professional artists who already have the larger equipment and want an additional tool to use alongside them.

For more iPad art info…

I wrote a whole book about the subject! It contains just about every bit of iPad advice I know in great detail and with many tutorials. Learn about it here: danidraws.com/ipad-for-artists

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BUSINESS AND MARKETING

Do you have any tips about online presence?

Yes – put yourself out there and be nice. That is the long and short of it.

Create a website (this seems kinda obvious to me, but I am more often than not surprised to find artists who haven’t done this), and use whatever services that you will enjoy and can keep up with, whether that be Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, or whatever.

And most of all, have something to give. Most people tend to think that networking is about making comments or asking questions or trying to get their favorite artist to @ reply them on Twitter. It is more about having something that other people will want to look at. Create some art. Put up a blog. Make a comic. Do something that makes people want to follow, friend, or connect with you, and they will.

I once gave a lecture at a SCBWI conference about online presence. You can see the notes here:

Should I get an agent? Do you like your agent?

It highly depends on your own needs and personality.

If you have a head for business and are comfortable negotiating fees, settling your own contracts, and marketing yourself, you may not need an agent. For me who is incredibly shy and kinda reclusive, it was necessary.

If you are interested in writing your own books, it may be necessary to get an agent, because many publishers do not accept unsolicited or unagented manuscripts. In that case, you might want to look at writer’s agents, not just artist’s reps.

The relationship between artist and rep is also subjective. I personally like my rep and she works well for me. However, that is not to say she would be a good fit for YOU. If you are interested in getting an agent, check out different ones and see what they have to offer.

How do you manage your time?

It’s tricky! Sometimes I feel way over my head. But if I were to offer one piece of advice on the subject, I would say to concentrate on creating. It’s really easy to let marketing, online presence, and even paying assignments take over your life. If you are overwhelmed, take a step back and MAKE something. Something of value. If you are always making something, you will always have something to market, promote, and blog about. You will always be improving. You will always have something new for your portfolio. If you quit creating, everything else falls apart.

You spend a lot of time making art demos, tutorials, blog posts, etc. How effective are they really in promoting you and your work?

I fell into writing tutorials and making videos because I loved sharing process so much. It wasn’t even intended as a marketing tool (originally, they were all written on a completely separate website than my portfolio and illustration blog). But now I’ve realized that all my projects are intertwined and each of them are helping me build a presence online and helping out my career in general.

It’s hard to quantify, but all my various projects have undoubtedly helped me in some way. Some very real benefits include:

    Networking

    I’ve maintained that the best way to network is to give something. Making tutorials, videos, and blog posts have led many fellow artists to my website, and time and again I’ll meet someone at an event in person who says they’ve read my blog. I have gotten to meet many awesome illustrators this way.

    Income

    I get a small amount of revenue through the ads on my website and a few affiliate links. It is not a super lot, but it pays for my website, and it’s extra money for virtually no extra work.

    In addition, my tutorials have led to other paid projects, such as selling PDFs and video tutorials, being asked to teach and guest lecture at events, and even writing a book.

    Audience

    My website gets a lot of hits. Writing about things that I like – art, books, comics, kid lit, drawing, painting, and technology – has naturally built an audience that likes the same things. When I have something to promote like a book or a comic or a website, they are already there ready and reading

The point is, I’ve followed what I love doing (drawing, sharing, teaching, comics, writing) and have been able to use it all as a means to the overarching goal of building a name and a business out of it. I am not saying that every artist should go out there and write tutorials and make videos and do the exact same things that I do. However, DO find what you have a passion for, even if it doesn’t fall under the conventional categories of drawing and painting. You can find a use for it in some way to help your career as an artist, and many times you will find yourself falling into paths you never planned (I would have never imagined myself teaching a workshop or writing an instructional book a few years ago). I’ve seen other artists use podcasting, social networking, crafting, technology, music, video, and other hobbies as a means of creating and sharing. Follow those roads and see where it takes you.

How often do you send out mailers/postcards/emails/newsletters?

Um… this is one area I am not too good at. I’ve sent postcards and have gotten work from them, but as of now I don’t remember the last time I sent one (it’s been several years I think). I occasionally send an email out to a specific person if I come across them on the web or meet them at a conference. I’ve never had a newsletter.

I have an artist rep who is wonderful at picking up the slack in this department. That’s not to say I shouldn’t try to do better, but I just want you all to know I’m not doing this alone and I’m not a miracle worker who is producing work with no promotion.

What I HAVE done successfully: I try to keep my rep updated with new work and future plans. I network online. I make and share comics. I write super long blog posts.

I have had several clients come to me over the years who have specifically said they found me through my blog. I’ve had work come through friends that I met through Twitter. The publisher who bought my first picture books found me because they read one of my webcomics.

I know marketing is important, but I feel strongly that the creating is the most important thing. I think the fact that I am still making a living despite my lack of marketing skill is a testament to that. Who knows? – maybe if I was more adamant about my mailings I would be even MORE further along than I am now.

Excuse me while I go plan my next postcard…

Would you recommend attending cons, books shows, conferences, etc.?

Certainly. I think if there is an opportunity to meet someone in person, it is a good thing. It is easier for clients, readers, and fellow artists to connect with you in a way that no amount of online presence can equal.

For what it’s worth, my very first jobs that jump-started my career were all results of face-to-face meetings.

The only way I can see this being a bad thing is if you can’t afford it. Travel costs and registration fees are expensive. If you don’t have the resources to attend dozens of shows per year, I don’t think you have to. They are worth the sacrifice and investment, but they are not the magic door into the industry and they won’t do you much good if you have no work worth showing. Spend your beginning years invested in your art. Go to the events you feel are most important and cost-effective, then build up to attending more shows gradually if that is your goal. I personally don’t get to go to a lot of events. I go to my local SCBWI conference every year. I’ve attended just a few comic shows. I’ve benefited from and met people at each one, and am working on attending more as I can. I think that is all that is necessary.

What do you submit to publishers?

Many publishers will tell you! Find the artist submissions guidelines on their websites and they will usually spell it out for you.

Other than that, make sure you show only your best work, and only the things that are applicable to the company you are applying to. For example, don’t send mature comic book material to a children’s book publisher.

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PUBLISHING AND EBOOKS

How do you make a PDF?

I use InDesign to put together my digital books. You can use any number of apps available, including Photoshop, Apple Preview, Acrobat, or whatever. Give it a google search.

How do you reduce the size of a PDF?

You can use the PDF Optimizer in InDesign or Adobe Acrobat, or reduce the size of your images before you place them into your document.

This is a video I made explaining how I do it:

What size should I make my ebook?

This is my personal preference, but I prefer image-heavy ebooks like comics and children’s books to be slightly higher than web-quality (about 72 dpi), but less than full print quality (about 300 dpi). You want the images to look good on an e-reader, but if the image resolution is high, the file size get super huge. It makes it difficult to download and sync to devices.

Look up the resolution of your preferred e-reader device (I believe the iPad has the highest screen resolution and is a good reference point) and go with a size that fits. Generally, I’ve found pages around 100-200 dpi are ideal.

What’s been your experience with iBooks Author?

Not a whole lot, but I did create one book in iBooks Author as an experiment. I like the potential and ease-of-use. There’s still room for growth though.

Read all about it and download the sample book here: http://danidraws.com/2012/01/24/ibooks-author-first-impressions-and-making-a-comic/

How do you get your book into the iBooks store?

You have to sign up for seller program on Apple’s website. I personally have not done this yet, so I can’t provide much info about it.

Have you sold many ebooks?

I don’t know exact numbers. I’ve sold a good amount of My Sister the Freak comics in PDF format via my personal website, but I wouldn’t say I’m rolling in dough or anything. Sales have trickled over time since when they were first released.

Should I use the Kindle store/iBooks/Nook Pub-It?

I only briefly experimented with Kindle and Nook stores, but I haven’t had time to properly market them and explore their potential. I couldn’t really tell you much about them. Like I mentioned above, I haven’t tried iBooks yet.

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Technical Questions

My computer/tablet/software does not work right.

Many technical issues are very specific to the person’s setup and circumstance, and often take a lot of research on my part to answer. I am simply not equipped with the knowledge or time to answer the majority of these questions. Please ask the manufacturer’s help desk instead or use a forum specific to your needs.

How do you record your screen for your video tutorials?

I personally use iShowU. However, there is also screen capture capability built right into Quicktime (which is free!). I use iMovie to edit the clips together.

What webcam/software/website do you use to do your live broadcasts?

All that is explained here: http://danidraws.com/2009/09/22/ustream-questions-answered/

How did you build your website?

My website was built with WordPress. To design it, I usually take an existing theme and modify the HTML/CSS to fit my needs, or I build simple templates from scratch. I use the Adobe application Dreamweaver to build websites.

The portfolio portion and some of the image galleries on my website are done with the NextGen Gallery WordPress plugin.

There are some great, simple solutions for making websites nowadays. If WordPress is over your head, try services like Behance, Squarespace, or Carbonmade. Even a free Blogger page is better than nothing. I highly recommend that artists learn basic HTML, CSS, and how websites work so they can navigate around the web and customize templates and things. It comes in handy all too often. http://www.w3schools.com/html/html_intro.asp

How did you build your webcomic site?

The website for My Sister the Freak is also built with WordPress. I use the ComicPress theme to manage the comic pages.

How did you build your online store?

I currently sell things using Gumroad. I like it because it is a super simple interface and easy to set up on my website (just copying a line of code). It is especially great if you sell digital products.

My old store was built on OpenCart. I generally like it and it is great for making stores that are self-contained and easy to manage. It has a built-in shopping cart and can organize large inventories, digital downloads, among other things. However, I don’t recommend it for the faint of heart. It was quite a learning curve for me to set up and get working just right, and while it is free, a lot of the extensions, templates, and extra functionality will cost you money. That being said, it worked well for me for awhile, and I only switched because I didn’t need all the many features it had, and wanted to simplify my shop.

If you are looking for an easier option, Big Cartel, Etsy, and Shopify are all commonly used by artists, though I have little experience with them myself.

I am on a Windows computer and…

Sorry, I’m a Mac girl. I can’t offer much advice about Windows problems, app recommendations, or otherwise.

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Requests

Will you illustrate my book?

I am open to all freelance illustration inquiries. See my contact page.

If you are a self-publisher, please note that I will most likely say no. Picture books and graphic novels are highly work-intensive and take a lot of time. Quite frankly, most self-publishers that have contacted me have not had the resources, know-how, budget, or planning required that would make it worth my time to take on such a project. If you are self-publishing a project and are highly interested in working with me, please make sure to outline all details of your project including size of work involved, timeline, marketing plan, budget, and intended audience.

For more info, I recommend these blog posts:

http://danidraws.com/2009/01/22/how-to-find-an-illustrator-for-your-picture-book/

http://danidraws.com/2013/01/12/how-to-find-an-illustrator-for-your-picture-book-part-2-the-self-publishing-edition/

Will you draw me a picture?

I occasionally open my schedule to commissions, which are available in my store. These are generally the only availability and formats I have available to do custom personal requests.

Can I interview you?

If it is for a blog or podcast or something, send a note via email. It mainly depends on my schedule.

If you are a student and it is for a school project, please send your interview via email. Allow me plenty of time to get to it before you need it for class. (Do not send it the day before!) Let me know when it’s due and I will try my best to be timely.

Will you critique my artwork/portfolio/website?

No, sorry.

Can I use one of your images?

I generally don’t mind if you share one of my images online in social networks, blogs, and such, as long as my work is credited and linked properly.

I also don’t mind images being used for educational purposes, such as class assignments or teaching aids, as long as the use is purely academic and stays within the confines of the classroom. The work should not be published, copied, or distributed in any way without my express permission. Please also credit and source the work properly.

I encourage fan art. However, make sure it is credited and labeled as such so it is not mistaken as original work, or as my work.

Do not use images for:

    Illustrating blog posts, articles, websites, etc. that have nothing to do with me or my art.

    As a logo, mascot, book cover, posters, or other promotional uses, commercial or not.

    Printing on products, including apparel, even if it is for personal use.

If you’d like to request special permissions or would like to purchase rights for an illustration, feel free to contact me.

Please note that I cannot grant every request due to client copyrights and personal preferences on certain images. Do not use an image for non-fair-use purposes without permission from me in writing, and always ask if you are unsure.

Can I link to / quote / reproduce an article from your blog?

You can quote short excerpts and use images from blog posts on your own blog or website as long as:

    You don’t reproduce the whole thing or a significant portion of it.

    You link back to the original source and credit me.

    You do not put it in anything you are selling.

If you are a teacher and want to print a full article to give to your students for purely educational reasons, that’s fine. Include credit and link please.

You do not need to contact me if I already said it was ok per the above requirements.

If you would like to request special permissions, you can email me.

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Any Other Questions?

I appreciate emails and questions and like hearing from people. However, please keep in mind that every email, even simple ones, take thought and time to answer. I would greatly appreciate it if before you contact me, please first:

  1. Read this entire FAQ.

  2. Browse through my blog and videos.

  3. Google search.

And if you still can’t find an answer, email me.

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8 Responses to “Frequently Asked Questions”

  1. Michael Link says:

    What a great FAQ! I shared this with all my artist friends and send it to my fellow students (hopefully they’ll realize that “because it’s too hard” isn’t an excuse in the art world).

    Keep being awesome. =)

  2. jennifer t. says:

    Excellent post Dani! Keep up the good work :)

  3. Excellent, comprehensive FAQ Dani!

  4. Mithra Krishnan says:

    Hi! I don’t know if I should write here or write an email but I was looking through your work and I noticed you use your paint quite heavily. My high school art teacher taught me to use gouache like water color? Is that wrong? And how many bottles of white gouache do you go through?

  5. Arelyz says:

    Hi Dani, excellent FAQ. I´d like to know if can I use only an I pad to do my work (instead of a tablet) I do want to do illustrations, cartoons, some graphic humor. You said that you do not recommend an iPad as the main thing to work with, but I´ve seen videos in youtube about some I-pad artists, and are so great! I do like the way to use it, it seems to me more easy and versatile than an tablet. (Am I right?)
    Could you please gig me advice? I don´t know what to chose. Thank you very much for your help. I love your work!
    (Grettings from Colombia- South America) Arelyz.

    • Dani says:

      If you’re doing it for fun, fine. If you are producing work as a pro, I still recommend getting an iPad as a “side” piece of equipment alongside your standard desktop and tablet. Simple things like limited layers, saving file formats, editing and revising, high resolution, pen precision, etc. are a challenge. While the iPad does many things very well, these little things will leave a pro frustrated in my opinion if it is their only piece of equipment.

  6. Goncalo says:

    Congrats, I really love your work.

    The best of luck, in your professional an personal life :D

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