Chris: Yeah, and it’s important to note that in all of these things, and the flakiness thing, in the note taking thing, unless we specifically address the bad client issue, we’re talking about good clients or acceptable clients. And here it’s the same thing, there is actually a great Tumblr called Clients From Hell that is hilarious. It’s so funny, it’s super entertaining because they just basically post sections of emails sent to illustrators or designers that are just the worst art direction ever. And we’ve all been in those situations and so grant it, that’s not a fun situation to be in and again, that’s a whole other podcast. But even if the client doesn’t get that at first, really it’s as simple as just continuing to ask questions that direct everyone to an actionable, deliverable result. So sure, the conversation can start in an abstract way, but you can ask questions and continue to kind of just dog the conversation until you get down to okay, so here’s what I think you’re saying and I’ll do these one, two, three specific things to the illustration and then send it back to you, right? We’re all on the same page?
Sean: The clearer the brief, the better the results you’re going to get because they’re going to be very targeted. So if you’re working with another client, you’re the one that’s going to have to put the brief together, you’re the one that’s going to have to walk them through that process. If you’ve got an art director, they’re more likely to give you something that’s more specific in nature and what they’re looking for which gives you a great direction to run in. And with some art directors, you’re going to get feedback that actually improves the work, not as much as you’ll get feedback that you’re like kind of unsure of or not feeling it as much. But yeah, I’ve seen art direction make the work even better because it just took it to another level. It’s basically just setting certain requirements and if the work isn’t quite meeting those and they articulate why, then the artist is just taking it that much further. So yeah, you need a really good brief and you need to put it together and work from that.
Chris: You briefly mentioned art school critiques and that is a great way to practice and to learn how to take art direction notes. And that’s one of the main problems with these random forums where half the people are being buttheads and are just ripping it apart. That’s not professionalism, it’s not professional practice. What you need is a circle of trust and ideally a circle of trusted fellow students who understand, clearly understand where you want to go, what your goals are, what your aspirations are and they are going to give you specific critique that will help you get there – critique and encouragement. And whether you go to Oatley Academy Art School or you go somewhere else to one of the other strong online schools out there or even one of the big expensive physical schools. Or you set up your own circle of trust in person or online, I cannot emphasize strongly enough the importance of professional practice within a trusted circle of professionally minded artists. The buttheads in the forums are not helping you and I don’t know a single successful professional artist who will say that oh yeah, that made all the difference, just having my work ripped apart by some stranger who’s probably twelve years old.
Sean: Yeah it’s a conversation and it has to be between two people that are aligned for the same goals. I’ve been in classes that have been excellent, like everyone put their illustration up, and like you’re saying, they understand kind of what you’re going for and your style, and they’re encouraging with their criticism. And it’s actually moving you in a better direction, but back to the little drawing board. Redraw it with a whole better focus, and I’ve been in design classes where everyone is kind of like hammering on each other without any real support, more like they’re competing where it’s not nurturing, it’s not growing, it’s not focused on improving and it’s just kind of hacking at each other. I can definitely see it happening in all art forums, you need early on a mentor or something that kind of relationship where someone will give you very poignant advice, helpful advice that’s not like just hacking and being like you don’t know how to use a paintbrush or whatever.
Chris: I think what we’re saying is, the bad situations are inevitable but the problem is with the internet and everything and kind of our new culture that we’re living in artistically, the bad situations are often the only thing that you’re finding yourself in. And that’s terrible, that’s no way to learn and it’s no way to be prepared and in fact, you have to take control of the situation and you have to get the small group again, the circle of trust or you have to find like Sean’s saying, find a mentor and ideally a mentor that’s taking you through an educational…a really effective educational program. Those are the places where you’re going to learn to see and when you know how to see, then when you’re back in the client ambiguouity, then you’re going to so much more confident because you’ll be able to…like Indiana Jones at the end of Last Crusade you know where he finally takes the leap of faith and all of a sudden the bridge appears under his feet. It’s that same kind of thing, it’s like you’ll be able to kind of take that first step and all of a sudden you’ll see the bridge, you’ll see the way to cross the gap of ambiguouity and get to the other side. And that makes you incredibly rehireable when you can do that, when you can close those ambiguous gaps, you are magic. You’re a wizard.
Sean: And the more you go through the process of you and like maybe a couple other people critiquing your work, you will get to the point that you can hang up your work, maybe not immediately after you’ve drawn it but you know, go write a copy and come back. Look at it with some level of fresh eyes and you can critique it as though someone else was doing it. You can get objective with your own work and find what are the flaws, what do I need to do to improve this, what do I need to practice?
Chris: Very true. Sean, would you please share with the listeners where they can find you online?
Sean: Yeah, I’m on Twitter. @SeanHodge on Twitter, I’m developing my own space to kind of help people with the micro business stuff more and more. I’ve got this space called Creatro.com and you know, it’s really people with this kind of creative background and mentality just wanting to make moves online.
Chris: Well I will link to both Sean’s Twitter account and Creatro.com as well in the show notes accompanying this podcast episode. Sean, thank you so much for coming on the show, this has been incredibly inspiring.
Sean: Thanks for having me man, great to meet you.
Sean: And good luck to everybody.
Chris: Be sure to visit ChrisOatley.com/Freelance-Artists. Scroll down to the Learn More section where you’ll find links to our other freelancing resources including part one of this interview with Sean Hodge. In the last episode, we introduced a new Q&A segment and it was as I was hoping a big hit with the Artcast audience. Today we introduce yet another new segment – The Breakthrough.
Today’s breakthrough story comes from Eva Maria Toker. One of Eva’s paintings was recently featured in ImagineFx Magazine, the digital art magazine. It’s huge! It’s a huge deal! And so we’re very proud of her. Eva writes, “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 expose 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. Taking 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 Eva’s ImagineFx painting in the post that accompanies this podcast episode at ChrisOatley.com/Freelance-Artists. That’s ChrisOatley.com/Freelance-Artists and that’s artists plural. You can find more of Eva’s work at EvaMariaToker.com. If one of our podcasts, our blog, our interactions at a convention, or one of our Oatley Academy courses has helped you to achieve an artistic or professional breakthrough, you can share your own breakthrough story through our easy upload form at ChrisOatley.com/Breakthrough. That’s ChrisOatley.com/Breakthrough. So visit that link, share your breakthrough story via text or audio and perhaps we’ll share it on an upcoming episode of the Artcast. Be sure to include the link to your website, blog, Deviant Art gallery, online portfolio, whatever you prefer so we can share the love with the link. If you’d like to learn more about the Magic Box, our digital painting course, the one Eva just mentioned, you can head to ChrisOatley.com/MagicBox.