Wednesday, December 5, 2012

That Accomplished Feeling

I recently finished illustrating my first Children's Book. Towards the sprint to end I couldn't help feeling something I don't always feel everyday- a sense of accomplishment! 

Feeling accomplished often comes in small doses and on certain occasions. It would be nice to feel this everyday. Then I wonder- by not feeling it everyday can a funny kind of motivator to accomplish something to get more done. Maybe but one thing is for sure, we do things naturally to seek happiness in our illustration careers. Even on the worst and challenging days good things happen-we don't always recognize it right away. 

Why don't we feel accomplished everyday? It's easy:

• We get very busy! 
• We get distracted. 
• We often have long to-do lists that go on and on without end. 
• Life stuff gets in the way. 
• We do not always get feedback or recognition for everything we do. 
• And, sadly sometimes we caught up in all the competition that is out there. 

So how can we grab little moments of accomplishment? I think looking at it as an ongoing process helps. 

• Create more realistic daily lists that you can manage.
• Be selective at what you look at online. Try to avoid the negative stuff or the stuff that doesn't inspire you. 
• Better yet, get off the computer and make something! 
• Create something daily! It can be a new illustration, something for your portfolio or a new banner for your blog or Facebook like page. 
• Learn something new that can be applied to your illustration career. 
• Lastly and I say this often- Do something big before noon. Do something that scares you daily. Both of these actions push our creative boundaries and motivates us to do more. This can be very contagious and good for you! 

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The Common Sense Of Busy!

"Are you busy?"

Seems like a common enough question. We ask it everyday.

My simple answer is- Yes! I'm ALWAYS busy. To us freelancers, we always have something going on, something to do or something to make. That's how we roll in the freelance world! If we didn't we wouldn't be freelancers for very long. Without the hustle, bills go unpaid and other undesirable things would happen.

When Is It Too Busy?
It's too busy when you are standing there wondering where to start!

We've all been there, working on a big project and having to put off other things. There are only so many hours in a day but you know it all has to get done eventually. So you finish that project and that list that you have been putting off is still there waiting. Where to begin?

1. What is the most important thing to do right now?
2. Pick something that you are in the mood to do.
3. Divide tasks that are urgent, important, and not urgent.
4. Designate different days for different tasks such as 1 day dedicated to updating sites and another to focus on promotion.
5. Work on the tough things on your list when its quiet. Avoid distractions.
6. Utilize an app on your computer, iPad or phone designed to remind you to get stuff done!

Time Wastage
Evaluating your time isn't something we really focus on. We don't make time for it! If certain tasks are not benefitting you in the grand scheme of your business day then why do them?

In short, will it make you money? Will it help you find clients?

Yes, the M word. It's not really discussed much in illustration. We live to create and we live to make art. However, to live we must have an income.

Big reminders:
1. How many hours do you spend online?
2. How many times a day do you check email?
3. Are certain tasks time consuming? Is there a better way to learn how to do them faster?
4. Do you schedule your day or is it random?
5. What do you do everyday that will lead to more income?
6. Can you eliminate things from your day that are not important?
7. Are there too many demands of your time from others that is interfering with your work?

We all think we have time...eventually. We wish we had more time or better yet, we wish we had a time machine even!

I think if we treated time on a more precious level we would see how important NOW is. We would also get more done. What is happening right now is really the most important thing. Doing something now leads to getting something done later and so and so on. If you are scheduled to work, take a break, spend time with loved ones or get some much need sleep then that is the most important thing to do-right then, right now. All the other unimportant stuff will just have to wait!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

It's Grand Creative Central

I love getting up early on Saturday's and Sundays. This has become a new creative habit for me. I know what you're thinking... Why don't I just sleep in? That's a good idea but I've noticed my best ideas happen on the weekend. Odd right? 

It's downtime for some and grand creative central for me!

I've come to realize over the past 3 years that my week ends at five o'clock on Friday. Saturday morning is this new refreshing fixation that seems to just happen. It's like my brain just automatically knows. Since I'm not forcing this-I'm definitely going to use it to my best advantage. As my Mum used to say, resourcefulness is my middle name! 

Saturday's feel new. I feel refreshed from the past week even if it did not seem production or things did not progress as planned. All that doesn't matter on Saturdays. This beginning day of my week is quiet with kids sleeping in, no rush to the bus stop or a heavy scheduled day. The coffee is fresher and my mind feels uncluttered. I am totally at ease. 

To me that is a good kind of energy- the kind that makes things happen and motivates me in the right positive way. I think of it as inventory cultivating in a more imaginative way but with no pressure. 

My weekend habits:

I write or record my thoughts- 
This newness often means my brain is on full speed so if my fingers don't always keep up, my voice memo will. Either way, the ideas push their way out! 

I doodle-  
I quickly sketch thumbnails of things I want to illustrate in the future. I never let a good idea get away even if I thought of it at 3:00 am. 

I read- 
I finally get to pore over all those great articles I've set aside all week. This truly makes my geeky Corpus Callosum happy so to speak! 

I eject- 
All this creative thought becomes one big idea spill that gives me plenty to work with for the coming week. It's all jotted down so if I don't make time for it now, I can get to it next week. 

I connect with myself- 
All this 'me time' is a purposeful act in its purist form. Being alone in your creativity can be one of the most mindful unselfish thing you can do for yourself. It's devotion to your calling and to your illustration future! 


Thursday, October 4, 2012

Illustration Tip- Create A Series Of Covers For Future Posts

What better way to step up your online promotion efforts then creating a series of cover illustrations for Facebook, Google+, Pinterest and Twitter in advance. Once you have selected pieces you want to resize-put them in a cover file on your computer or backup drive. You can then use them whenever you want to show off a new visual! 

For a complete spec guide, look here at this handy dandy cheat sheet set up by Dan Wilkerson: The Complete Media Sizing Cheat Sheet.  Thanks Dan! 

See you all online! 

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

What I've Learned About Children's Publishing So Far

I'm happy to say I'm now in the final stages of the children's book I am illustrating. I feel lucky to have broken into this market. This is why I have been absent from my blogs lately. It's been a lot of work so far and a HUGE learning process that will be ongoing. So here a small list I've what I've learned so far! 

1. Ask lots of questions and then ask some more- 
Taking on a book is a pretty big deal so its good to keep open ideas, dialogue and questions flowing. The more you ask, the easier your job is going to be. 

2. Have a colour palette set aside-
I'm a fairly organized person when it comes to projects. I like an organized desk and I like to have an idea of what colours I'll be using on a regular basis. This serves two functions: It takes the guess work out and it helps me track how much paint I'll need throughout the process. For more ideas on this look here: Illustration Tip- Creating A Colour Palette For Reference

3. Get all the deets-
The book contract is one thing but all the little details are what is going to keep you on the book rails. Big details include size, bleeds, preferred colours, room for text, how many pages-these are very important details to know early on.

4. Stay in touch-
Once you begin the big work stage, don't forget to check in every once and a while. Don't disapear from the scene just because you are busy. Come up for air and let them know you are still around.

5. Show some progress-
The images I am working on are too big for me to scan fully so I have been taking process shots and finished shots. Its nice to keep your publishing team involved in the process plus it can also prevent issues before the final work is sent off. Asking for feedback as you go can help save you time, frustration and many revisions. 

6. Give yourself lots of time to complete the illustrations- 
Tacking on extra time to complete your book task is a good code to create by. If you know the due date is in two months do not delay. Always keep it in the back of your mind that things can happen like sickness, other projects, holidays and mistakes. 

7. Make sure you have all the materials you need in advance- 
Materials such paper, paint, brushes should be stocked and ready to go. Ordering supplies takes time and so does prepping the materials before you get rolling. 

That is what I have observed so far as I keep moving along towards the deadline. I'll keep you posted- deadline is coming up at the end of October. :)

Friday, September 14, 2012

How I Feel About Illustration Part 1!

I love defining things and coming up with new ways to describe illustration. When I am asked about what I do for a living I try to mix it up-I find this gives me a certain motivating energy that comes from doing that. My latest illustration description:

Illustration is a ticket to the greatest show on earth! 

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

My Definition Of Creative Idling

Sometimes you just have to stop to let the good stuff in! 

Creative idling: basically it means stopping. 

I get days when being an adult with constant multi-tasking feels completely over rated. In a nutshell, I'm busy. I've got a lot to do. I often get caught in the weeds! 

One thing that I have been allowing myself to do is stopping when I feel unproductive and just plain tired. Working 50 to 60 hours a week is not good especially when I look at how much of that I actually get paid for. So I'm going to avoid burnout but try to maintain a living because feeding my kids is extremely important to me. 

I'm adopting another personal permission of working smarter and taking time to do things unrelated to illustration. I've been allowing myself to do the following lately:

• I've stepped away from the computer on Sundays.
• I am making more time for note taking, mindless doodling and sketching.  
• I've been giving my eyes a break when they get tired. 
• I'm breaking up my day to focus on different tasks. I find this actually helps me get things done faster while adding creativity to my tasks. 
• I'm looking into asking for help. This is a challenge because my resources for that department are slim. This will come in time.
• I'm also giving up the idea that everything needs to be done as I originally planned. It's not reality. Sometimes letting go of some control allows change to happen. It adds an element of surprise and that can be used in a creative way. 

I'll let you know how all this goes. 

Holly :)

Monday, August 13, 2012

The Big Idea- The Notebook Code

I've been spending more and more time with my notebook lately and less time online. I think stepping away from all the technology noise can help me clear my head, boosts my mood and lets new ideas in. The best part- it's contagious. One idea leads to many. Even doing the dishes, which normally seems tedious has now become a great time to think and mull over creative thoughts. My notebook may get a little damp but it's being used and that's great productivity to me.

The notebook code creates good things:
• It gives me the chance to come up with more ideas on my own.
• I can sift through ideas I've written down that can jog my memory that can lead to more ideas.
• It lets me get back to basics. Old school!
• It helps me focus on what I'm thinking instead of a what others are posting online.
• It helps me stay focussed.
• It helps me come up with self projects, promotion ideas and new ideas for current projects.
• It helps me to wind down after a stressful day.
• Lastly, it's total freedom. These are my own thoughts so I can let loose and write and doodle about whatever I want. No one has to see it but me!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Going It Alone

In this blog I plan on being much more open and honest about my career ups and downs. These are just observations because even though I've accomplished a lot, I still have to work pretty hard to keep it all going. To many in the industry, some illustrators look like they have it pretty easy. What appears on the outside is only a glimpse of how hard illustrators work. Does luck play a part? Absolutely! However, working your creative ass off takes care of the rest. In a nutshell, I work my ass off and I probably work harder than some. But then again, its all relative right? 

Some illustrators get recognized early in the game, get agents and make a pretty good living at what they do. They are admirable and inspirational. They may appear to have had their careers handed to them but they worked hard to get where they are. It all comes down to luck, circumstances, talent, location, personality, hard work, sacrifice, business skills and community. 

My career did not happen overnight. I do what I do on my own. I do all the writing on my blogs and I find my own work. I also run after two kids and do all the housework too. For one girl, I wear many hats 24/7. 

For me, I have a case of small town-itus. Defined this means, I live in a town that is challenging when it comes to creativity, illustration and a like-minded community. I define it this way in a joking manner of course. 

But not all is lost. This just means I have to be more creative and resourceful. It's not an easy path doing most of it on my own but the reward can be huge. Since I never give up easy, I'll just continue to learn daily and work smarter. My personality does play a huge role here too- I am a perpetual learner with no positivity off switch. In other wards, I can make anything work if I try hard enough. This is probably why many describe me as being approachable and down to earth when it comes to illustration and advice. 

One thing is for sure, illustrators DO need people. The more support you have for what you do and create does make a huge difference in your career. So for those of you who have small town-itus like myself, what can you do? 

Some ideas to consider: 

• Create a strong online network. 
• Participate in Illustration groups online like Illustration Friday, The Little Chimp Society or Sugar Frosted Goodness.
• Start your own illustration group. 
• Reach out-test the creative waters in your area. 
• Offer classes, informational seminars or talks about what you do. 
• Chat with local schools and students who plan on going to art school. 
• Offer advice or mentor.
• Get spotlighted.
• Advertise a meet-up for those looking to connect with other creatives. 
 • Lastly,  this is a code that I live by: If you cannot dazzle them-wear them down. This means keep trying to get yourself out there in your community. It may take time, but if you professionally keep offering and advertising yourself, you will eventually meet the right people.