Why Freelance Artists Fail :: ArtCast #72

Illustration by Chris Oatley: A crazed octopus uses multiple phones at once.

“You need to be in constant communication with the client to the point that they expect… The worst thing is when someone doesn’t update you. It’s absolutely critical that you communicate with your clients.”

– Sean Hodge

Even the most successful freelance artists will tell you that bad clients and boring gigs are common roadblocks to a fulfilling creative career.

The popular blog known as Clients From Hell posts a new, true (and hilarious) freelance horror story almost every day.

Even the legendary Drew Struzan struggled with the client side of his now-famous career. In the recent documentary about his life he told a story that was actually painful for me to hear.

…but bad clients are so common and the stories so egregious that it’s easy for artists to remain blind to a hard truth.

…that we, the illustrators, are often part of the problem.

I’ve worked with many freelance illustrators and designers over the course of my career and I’ve noticed three common problems.

In this second half of our two-part interview, freelancing expert Sean Hodge shares insight into how you can avoid these common problems and attract better clients with better business practices.

Listen To The Episode:

*and watch the screen recording of the octopus illustration I did for this post!


[ download the mp3 ]

Episode Highlights:

  • How to communicate with clients.
  • How to create relevant work that is still inventive.
  • The value of having many mentors.
  • How to build your business with failure after failure.
  • The worst kind of professional artist (and how NOT to be that guy).

“That’s how most business is, to be honest – just bumbling your way through. Failing and failing and failing and failing and failing, being okay with that and then you break through.”

- Sean Hodge

Awesome Links:

Sean Hodge on Twitter

Clients From Hell

Creatro

Music by Storybook Steve and Kangaralien

Learn More:

“Own the apprentice phase. Absorb everything that you can. It’s very difficult to reach the next phase without that because there are so many gaps in learning between school and the reality of business.”

– Sean Hodge

Troubleshooting Your Freelance Illustration Career

Become A Professional Artist

The Death Of Freelance Illustration

The Bad Client Diet

The Two Secrets To Success In Animation

How To Gather Healthy Critique Groups And Collaborators

How to Attract a Mentor

The Breakthrough:


Oatley Academy student Eva Maria Toker was featured in last month's issue of ImagineFX Magazine.“I started getting seriously into illustration as a career choice just over a year ago, but for quite a while I had a really hard time answering the question “what do you do?”

I would freeze up and although I wanted to say “I’m an illustrator” it just didn’t come out.

Sometimes I would say “I’m an illustrator, but I haven’t really done anything notable”… It was pretty frustrating.

Getting my work into the ImagineFX FXPose section gave me a lot more confidence about my work. Just seeing it printed on the pages of a magazine somehow made it more real.

Eva Maria Toker - King Of The Wolves PaintingTaking Chris Oatley’s Magic Box course (among others), helped me get my work to a level where I was comfortable even submitting it to ImagineFX.

I also learned a lot of really valuable photoshop tricks from Chris that I use EVERY DAY in my work.

Specifically, I think that my way of rendering light has improved a lot thanks to The Magic Box.

And it’s great to finally be able to tell people that I’m an illustrator without having to feel like a fake!”

You can find more of Eva’s work at EvaMariaToker.com.

If this podcast, our blog, our interactions at a convention or one of our Oatley Academy courses has helped you achieve an artistic or professional breakthrough, you can share your own breakthrough story with our easy upload form.

Any Questions?

In this episode, we talked about tangible and intangible aspects of a freelance career: Originality, Professionalism, Mentorship and Art Direction.

Did this episode conjure up any other questions we can try to answer for you?

If so, post them in the comments below and I’ll respond to them all week!

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[ I will never spam you or share your information ]

{ 52 comments… read them below or add one }

Steve Carrillo

Thanks again Chris! You know just the right things to touch upon in your ArtCasts…
Loved the BREAKTHROUGH segment too. Something to look forward to.

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Chris Oatley

Thanks, Steve!

I’m delighted to hear that you are finding value in the podcast and the new episode in general.

You’re awesome!

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Evelyn (Ev_Doodles) Wesley

This wonderful podcast has come at the perfect time! I’m about to launch my etsy shop this week, and I’m currently having issues with a client, and I’m scared as all hell Thank you for this, as always Chris, you’re a lifesaver.

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Chris Oatley

Oh that’s great to hear, Evelyn!

Punch that fear in the face!!!

Keep us posted.

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Britny Arnett

Love the Breakthrough Section! Great podcast, as per usual. Great way to start the day. I love the Clients from Hell blog. I do have one question. In design school, I was taught that it’s a better idea to go and work at a firm or company before doing freelance graphic design (it helps understand the business better than going straight to freelance). My question is, is that possible for illustrators? Especially new illustrators that don’t have any client experience yet?

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Chris Oatley

There are a couple of illustration firms around but they are few and far between.

My friends who are employed as full-time illustrators (outside of entertainment, of course) aren’t actually full-time. Their jobs consist of graphic design too. But that’s not a bad thing.

For that matter, MY job consists of graphic design in addition to everything else and I LOVE that part of it… I like the communication challenge, the variety of work, and especially the practical side of graphic design. Oh man, and web design especially – I often tell my team that I think I could be happy just building websites all day if I had the right client base…

All this is to say that I think you can find hybrid gigs. I have a couple of friends who have successfully integrated illustration into their otherwise graphic design day jobs.

The only real down side is that these artists are often the sole “creative” on the team. Which is kinda weird. If you’re online a lot, I think that helps a lot…

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Britny Arnett

Having a presence online and being able to wear a lot of hats is extremely useful – as well as encouraging. I can do a lot of things, but I don’t a presence online yet (I don’t link to my website here, because…quite frankly…. it’s kind of awful. One of the things on my wunderlist..)

I haven’t quite found a way to integrate illustration into my graphic design work yet. The work goes so fast and my drawings and illustrations come together slowly right now. Hopefully in the future, I’ll be able to blend them.

However both illustration and design help with my personal project goals. It’s kind of awesome when you have an idea and you go “I can do that!” because you already know how to….but didn’t know it.

That made no sense. Anyway, thanks for the thoughts, Chris!

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Sean Hodge

Britny,

Yah, speed is a relevant consideration. Things move fast in a firm, lot’s of projects, and lot’s of variety.

Things move fast at a startup as well. Our designer at Tuts+ takes advantage of trying out various illustration styles, that lend themselves to more quick rendering, such as more flat graphic illustrations as well as really quick, sketchy illustration styles. It’s a good environment for growth to have design projects where you can add some illustrative flair to, but you don’t have to own the style as an illustrator.

With blending design and illustration, it’s helpful to experiment alot with pushing design with your illustrative touch.

Thanks.

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Juan F Bautista

It’s great to hear from two people with so much freelance experience. I’ll re-listen again in the coming weeks, as I set down the plan to assault the world of freelancing.
I specially liked the part where you discussed what unsuccessful freelancers did. I believe there is this bias towards paying attention only to what worked for people. That only tells half of the story.

Such a great resource!!! Keep the BREAKTHROUGHS coming!

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Travis Bond

Hey. Juan! It goes to show that failure upon failure make the career, right? The success stories are most worth something if there have been failures behind them! We’ll continue with the breakthroughs as they come through! Thanks for your support!

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Chris Oatley

Yeah, thanks, Juan! You’re awesome! Keep us posted on your freelance progress!

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Sean Hodge

Juan, yah man, we’re defined by our scars. They are our character ;)

My dad’s machinist hand’s are just a cut up mess of scars, showing a lifelong story of battling with metal.

It’s helpful to see mistakes and learn from them, in ourselves and from others.

Love the work on your site and how your art process blog is developing.

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kammi

What? Why didn’t ANYONE comment on how AWESOME that Octopus is? I’m going to say it; it’s FREAKING AWESOME and I couldn’t take my eyes off it the for the entire Artcast :) That being said, I’m glad you’re addressing the master-journeyman-apprentice mindset. It’s something that the film industry is struggling with at the moment, too, with the birth of cheaper and smaller cameras and the need for (due to the process) smaller crews, etc as opposed to a studio system. Also, I think that it’s so bad@$$ that Sean’s dad is a Machinist. Major respect to those guys!!

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Chris Oatley

Haha!

Thanks, kammi!

Thank you. I’m so glad you like the octopus character. I had so much fun drawing him for the last podcast I realized he needed to take the spotlight a little more on this episode! I hope to do more of these time-lapse video versions of the podcast.

They’re a lot of extra work on top of the of the already-insane amount of work that goes into producing the show, but we already have a new pipeline structure set up for the team to optimize the process as much as possible. We’ll try it a few times and see how it goes.

Also, the most important thing is that the listeners like it. If they continue to respond positively and it continues to feel like a wise investment of time and money, we’ll keep doing the “enhanced video” versions of the show.

…and yes. Machinists are awesome.

Thank you SO MUCH for writing!

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Joel

I wonder if any of your Magic Box students would be willing to submit a timelapse of a personal piece or even a Magic Box assignment for you to use in the enhanced video version of the podcast. Less work for you, more promotion for your students and the course. Just a thought.

I haven’t actually listened to part 2 yet. About to put it on while I work this afternoon. Really enjoyed part 1. I’m sure I’ll take home some useful tips from part 2 as well. Cheers!

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Chris Oatley

JOEL THAT IS ONE OF THE BEST IDEAS I HAVE EVER HEARD!

Thank you! *Definitely* going to pursue that!

When you get a chance, write Travis at Oatley Academy Support. You deserve a prize for that.

Thank you thank you thank you…

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kim

PS, Joel: your Splort Dragon made my day! Hilarious! just the break I need from all the serious things @ work

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Chris Perry

How would I go about recording myself for this? I know CO talked aboutt it on one of his pod casts but I forgot what the software is called

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Ashley Dotson

Hey Chris! Loving all the new additions to the artcast. Really cool to see how much things have changed since I first started listening!

I can TOTALLY relate to the “irrational fear” thing you guys talked about in this episode. I hold myself as a brave person and I always love to push myself and take on new challenges in my work, but something about working with clients, adding that new person into it, has been very scary to me in the experiences I’ve had. Partly because I’m still fairly new at it and have screwed up a few times in communication, partly because I’m normally extremely deliberate (and therefore controlling) about how I construct each email to hit at /exactly/ the right angle that I want…but really I’ve always taken screw-ups in a work setting fairly hard. Even working in retail when I was younger if I suspected a boss was upset with me it would completely shatter me rather than be constructive in my mind for some reason. It’s kind of embarrassing for me to admit!

I’m getting more used to it as I get older, but I must confess it’s probably the biggest hurdle (I might even call it sort of a phobia) that I haven’t been able to completely overcome yet in my work life…and I don’t have to tell you that’s saying something since you’ve seen all my struggles and successes as a student!

I guess it’s just like everything else, where you screw up, learn from it, and don’t do it again. Hopefully the fear subsides a bit in a good studio setting where people tend to trust each other more and be around each other enough that it could end up being a circle of trust, where everybody really just wants to make the project better. Kind of why I’ve always preferred the possibility of working in a studio as opposed to a freelance thing, where you just get involved in the project for a few illustrations and aren’t very invested…

Anyway, great episode!! Made me think a lot. :)

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Chris Oatley

You’re really making me think about this.

I’m a pacifist for sure. …unless someone messes with my students or a friend. Then I get all “mama bear” on them.

Haha. But my point is that we’re similar in that we get really rattled when we think someone might be upset with us. I know it can really undo me.

…and that’s yet another reason the Circle Of TRUST is so important. In a trust relationship, there’s a safety net where everyone sort of chooses to give each other the benefit of the doubt.

My most effective professional relationships have been built on a *relatively* personal foundation of trust through mutual vulnerability.

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Ashley Dotson

Thanks for the reply, Chris! Hearing this stuff and reading these comments makes me feel a bit of hope and gives me a new way of approaching these issues that isn’t quite as uptight. Though of course maintaining a professional tone is important, haha. But resisting the flow of conversation is definitely not preferable to loosening up a bit and letting things happen more.

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Britny Arnett

Thank you for sharing, Ashley! I had the same fear as you. Except I was so paralyzed by the fear of doing something wrong that alot of times I wouldn’t be able to finish the project. Which is why I lean towards working in a studio more than freelancing.

You’re right, over time that fear subsides. I’m in a graphic design workplace right now and one of the biggest things that has helped me overcome the ‘phobia’ of upsetting someone or doing something wrong, is talking with my coworkers about how they’ve screwed up in the past. Some of them have really made some serious mistakes. But they’re alive. They’re still there. And they make great work. So I think to myself, how hard could it be? :)

It’s all part of the Chris’s Circle of Trust.

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Ashley Dotson

Very nice, Britny. Thanks for the advice! I do at times forget that they are people >.< haha. Just gotta talk to them and make a personal connection.

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Sean Hodge

@Ashley,

Yah, “irrational fear” is hard to control—being that it’s irrational.

* Scared of tiger, helpful. Best to run from tigers.

* Scared of some complicated criticism or incident, probably not helpful, and probably just makes it more difficult to resolve.

A big chunk of my life I could define as me running from emotional or irrational tigers.

It’s tough. We often don’t even want to admit this kind of irrational fear to ourselves, let alone talk about it with other creatives. I really like Chris’s words on “circle of trust.” It’s really helpful to have those people that you can let this stuff out with, and they’ll be supportive.

Also, it’s helpful to learn to just live with your “irrational fear.” Get comfortable with it. Try not to judge yourself, but accept that it’s happening, then work on taking strategic steps forward. I really like Chris’s advice on being brave in the morning, using some of that early morning energy to tackle a difficult problem.

Certainly, any type of criticism is hard to field, especially in a work setting where stakes can be high. It takes practice to depersonalize and then move forward strategically. I don’t think anyone every totally masters this, they just get a bit better at it over time.

Thanks for sharing.

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Amy M

Hey Ashley:

I understand the irrational fear thing. I started freelancing directly after graduation, and it can be really intimidating, especially if it’s your first professional work experience. It does get easier as you move forward.

Here is my take: Occasionally, the emotion or fear of a past life experience (personal and professional) surfaces in the current moment. The goal is to follow these initial emotional/fear reactions to the source, and understand the link to the present. Try not to be too judgmental toward what is happening internally or resist it, but get curious about it. Understanding the source lessens the impact. Often, you can choose a different outcome.

Another mechanism I use: When I feel like my initial reaction might not be my best reaction, I say “I hear you and your feedback feels important. I want to give myself some time to really consider everything you’ve said. Can I get back to you?” I get out of responding on the spot and can be more thoughtful or strategic in my communication. This saves me a lot of stress.

Seth Godin would say that the fear is a sign you’re taking a risk.
“Fear is a natural reaction to risk. While risk is real and external, fear exists only in our imagination. Fear is the workout we give ourselves imagining what will happen if things don’t work out.” – Seth Godin

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Mandy Milliron

Awesome podcast and octopus, Chris! Though, I agree on mentor and apprenticeship mindset. My father was a boilermaker(helps make the really big equipment that is within factories) and worked in a union that works with the same system. Though, with how college are just rushing to pop out graduates, I can see why many artists are coming out way to early as well. I felt that way, though more with marketing and networking as well as my niche in graphic design not being needed in the area at this time. Sean Hodges is right about graphic designs dealing with the microwave gunk as even though my style still followed the trends, a lot of people did not want it as it was just different enough to not fit the trend to the way they wanted it. Even the part-time job market(for any job, that is) is quite bad in my area that I have decided I will stop looking for work and focus on what matters: improving my skills, get some illustrations out, and work on my writing as I decided I need to take advantage of my current situation of plenty of time, yet little money. I am now putting a whole lot more focus on my fanfiction with wanting to complete the stories I made and even made a Patreon account for it, though I don’t expect much right now with only getting back in the saddle with a short hiatus with trying to find work and my beta-reader being overwhelm by the monster of nursing courses. I am now trying to work on getting a buffer going in case my beta-reader is out again for when the next big round of college comes in Fall while trying to get a monthly posting schedule going to allow for the room to build that buffer while posting. I am also putting Jim Zub’s comic writing tutorials to my fanfiction, finding with using it for my fan comic project that it helps me better visual the story and make the pacing a whole lot easier for me for both comics and other written formats than going with the simple plan and diving in I usually do. I am working slow on my comic projects to not bog myself down and also use it to learn as much as I can at this slower pace before I really get going in that and allow myself to dig myself out of the “check my mouth wrote” with not learning to write the whole story or a good bit out before hand before posting with my fanfiction.

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Chris Oatley

Every week it seems your creative calling is coming further and further into focus. Is that accurate to say?

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Mandy Milliron

Yes! Indeed! In fact, I finally got back into my old writing groove before college which was easily 5,000-10,000 words a day if I am allowed the time after just dropping what was not needed at the moment and now really focusing on the quality of the stories I am working on along with still enjoying to write them instead of stressing constantly. Though, I also gotten back my old creative “plot bunny generator” as well which is why I am so glad for the Story Science panel post as Jim Zubs writing methods just finally helped me discover how to keep those ideas under control. I will be needing them for later stories, but for now, they go into my idea book. Though, unlike most people who put there planning and such on the computer nowadays, I found I have to keep my planning and such in handwriting and notebooks or else I never find them again on my computers. Now, a trip to the library to return a book and see if they have Invisible Ink as I really want to read that.

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Julia Morris

I have to say, it’s incredibly comforting to hear that you don’t need to be worrying about your portfolio during your freshman year. I just finished up my first semester as an illustration major and I’ve been feeling a lot of pressure to “put myself out there” even though I don’t feel ready for that at all, for a number of reasons. It’s frustrating and a little discouraging to be told that I should be starting to freelance when I don’t think I could even put together a cohesive portfolio right now. But students in other fields aren’t expected to be full-fledged professionals after one year of study, so why should it be any different for artists? Especially when putting yourself out there before your work has really reached a high enough caliber can be detrimental to your career in the long run.
I tend to stress about my future career quite a bit, and it’s encouraging to know that it’s perfectly alright to take time to just devote myself to improving, as I am still a student.

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Chris Oatley

Hi, Julia!

Yes, focus is a rare thing these days…

To everything, there is a season.

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Sean Hodge

Hey Julia,

Yah, I certainly wasn’t hireable my freshman year of college. Chris makes good points on taking best advantage of that cocoon phase to really improve your craft early on.

It is helpful to just learn about business early on though, even if it’s just conceptually, and spend some time absorbing that side—as well as interact with other creative professionals.

Ultimately, you want your creative and business pursuit to align, so you can make a living making art you enjoy, and work that matters to you. But you don’t need to have a clear picture right now though.

There is a great post on career planning from Leo Babauta, about how you’re building skills now that position you for future success: http://zenhabits.net/career.

Thanks.

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Luke Sells

Great Artcast! I really enjoyed The Breakthough segment. It’s always inspiring to see someone succeed at what they love to do. One of my greatest fears as an artist is talking with potential clients. I feel I don’t quite understand the business end of illustration, so this Artcast hits right at home.

My brother works in web design and one of his pet peeves is when a client takes forever to respond to submitted designs. Has this ever happened to you? If so, what was your solution?

Loved the octopus : ]

Luke

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Chris Oatley

Hi, Luke!

I can’t remember experiencing this, specifically.

…but I did have a client who take forever to pay. (This was back in 2007 when I was still freelancing regularly.) …and that’s maddening. My “solution” was to send angry emails. It didn’t help. I did eventually get paid but I regretted being so unprofessional.

My advice would be to politely refer to the contract and explain that they will now incur the late fee detailed in the contract.

All this is to say that you can do the same thing with a client who is dragging his feet. You can just write them and ask if they’re still interested in moving forward with the project. If you don’t hear back within X number of days, you’ll assume that the answer is no. At that point, the “kill fee” (that was detailed in the contract) will be incurred and you’ll simply invoice them for the kill fee along with any unpaid charges.

…and then, if they don’t pay, of course it becomes a late payment issue. They incur the late charges and we’re back to the beginning of this post.

Thoughts?

PS: Glad you love the octopus!

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Luke Sells

Great advice Chris and thank you. Lately I’v been working on what to include in contracts. Looking forward to you’re Escape from Art Jail course when it becomes available. It’s always interesting when a potential client askes for a commision and I pull out a contract. They look at at it with a raised eyebrow and say “contract?” : 1

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Hanna Sandvig

When I have clients that take forever, I just send polite emails reminding them that if they take too long I will miss their deadline. I do book covers for indie authors and I get my payment in installments as I go (outlined in the contract) so I am never out too much money if they are being super slow. I also try to have more than one project on the go so that I just switch to the next one while I wait.

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Tegan Clancy

It’s super interesting and I agree with Sean, in design school there’s a different lesson you learn about adapting your work that rarely comes across to art school, ie. being client driven work where as art school is self-driven work. Hmmmn never put these 2 together before now! I love the apprentice mentality too. You should see me scribble like crazy when get art reviews, and I see so many artists politely nod and walk away and you just know they wont implement the great advice being given to them. It’s a respect for the masters and being ready to learn and adapt which is a hard but great lesson to learn. Fun podcast as always Chris

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Chris Oatley

Yeah, Tegan. Your humility and “teachability” are why you have progressed so quickly…

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Tegan Clancy

I’m pretty sure an amazing teacher has helped along the way :)

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Will

Hi Chris – Until now my cxrazy schedule has kept me from catching up with your site since seeing you at CTNX – great stuff, lots o prime information, i can see how i will be spending my spare time for weeks to come…! Cheers, Will.

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Chris Oatley

Awesome, Will! Can’t wait to hear what you think of the new shows and posts!

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Pat Marconett

Hi Chris,
Another great post! For me after graduating, I kind of took the hard road. I did non-paid internships. I was grabbing any freelance gig I could get & a lot of them were pretty terrible & paid very little. Something they don’t tell you in art school, you have to get into pretty good studios before you’re even able to use what you learned. Through my journey it took about 4 years before I felt like my professional work was anywhere close to the kind of quality I was doing in school (which wasn’t that great). All the while I had to keep pushing my personal work & taking online classes, because I knew my professional work wasn’t going to make me get better or get me the jobs I wanted. I saw a lot of friends lose their passion for art during that time………but the positive side, is now I get to work for amazing studios & feel like I learn new stuff everyday & can really appreciate it.
I’ve also had a lot of time to practice my client relationships. And like you were saying communication is #1. If I get an email from a client I try to respond within a few hours. You don’t have to wait until you have something new to show them, you can just say “thanks these notes make total sense, I’ll be addressing them in the next few days….”. Keeping good communication doesn’t take long and goes a long way to building strong working relationships.

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Chris Oatley

Great insights all around, Pat! I’m so happy for all your recent success!

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Dave Clowers

Thanks for that Chris. I’m currently getting my freelance business going and one of my clients is a terrible communicator, and flaky. But they like my work and keep coming back. I need to decide if I can work with them and help them understand that I need better collaboration from them. I can see now that it is up to me to take the initiative to help them to be more clear with their art direction. Your podcast is just what I needed to hear as I was working on said clients job. Awesome!!!!

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Chris Oatley

That’s awesome, Dave! I hope you’re able to shape a clear path for your client so it can become a more mutually-beneficial, professional relationship.

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Helene

Hey Chris! I just wanna drop in and say thank you! I have just a few weeks ago discovered paperwings podcast and ChrisOatley.com and just – thank you! You (and Lora and Justin) have made me get up again and again these last weeks. Right now I have a tight deadline for a few illustrations and listening to podcasts is my solution to work fast, with fun.
The podcasts and entries are such a great help and I hope you´ll continue doing this for a long time. Especially for someone like me, who is just trying to get on track in this industry, there couldn´t be anything better.
Cheers!

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Chris Oatley

Wow, Helene! It’s wonderful to hear that we’ve helped to infuse your work with some sustained inspiration! Thank you for the encouragement!

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Chris Perry

It is great to hear your pod casts while i work on things. I appreciated your analogy of the liquefied butterfly. putting things out there before you are ready. Listening to advice from you guys and the piece you recorded with Will Terry has taken the pressure off and helped me to refocus on just taking my time with pencil to paper. Being in the moment and create good work.

I think as artists we are naturally sensitive and fear comes with that. Thanks for putting yourself out there and letting us all know we are not alone in this.

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Chris Oatley

You’re welcome, Chris! Thanks so much for your encouragement! It is truly our joy to help.

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Clarissa Hanekom

Hey Chris,

I wasn’t where to post this, I couldn’t find your email or a message box, but that may have been because I was distracted by your witty and insightful articles.
I’m going to study Animation in September and as excited as I am, I’m also very nervous. Would you be able to give me some tips and tricks or advice on activities I could start practicing before I go to make me feel a little more prepared?

Clarissa

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Chris Oatley

Hey, Clarissa!

As you can imagine, I get this question a lot. That’s why I wrote this post: http://chrisoatley.com/2secretssuccess/

That said, it’s also extremely important that you read the following post by the legendary Tom Bancroft.

It’s a real doozy, but it explains an essential, fundamental paradigm shift: http://tombancroft1.tumblr.com/post/82688288246/artistic-pet-peeve-03-of-312-this-one-is-very-high

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kim

Formal illustration art school didn’t work out for me. Probably due to the way things are taught over here. They are all into coffee stains, glueing strings and pieces and paper, making flat simple line drawings, but they cannot explain colour, perspective, anatomy beyond the explanation you get from reading a dictionary. If you didn’t follow their style, you where on your own. No help. No support. No vision. Not that I question their capabilities as an illustrator in their style, but their capabilities to be a mentor. Sorry. I’m a dropout.

And that’s where the internet really saved me. I’m now following workshops, get taught by people who have the same ambitions and interests and in the past 2 years I made more progress than 5 years in art school.

Mentors are sooo important. Even when you are a professional, it’s good to be able to talk to someone from time to time who can guide you and understands your style/vision and what’s needed for you to grow. Trust me, you are your own worst critic and someone else’s view on your work really can help to break through the next level.

I could write a lot about clients and communication, and most of it not from an illustrator’s point of view (’cause most of my professional life was everything but illustration :) ). But that would become too long and boring and you guys really explained it all :)

Keep up the good work!

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Aarpie!

I really love this artcast, Chris! I have been looking for a “master” to my apprenticeness for a long time, and I’d fallen flat. One of the things that I loved about your school is that it does give you that feel. Being able to bend your ear on stuff is an amazing privilege :)

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