Can I burrow your experience?



  • Howdy creative friends!
    I NEED WISDOM - CAN I HAVE SOME OF YOURS???

    I'm new to the SVS forums, but have been gobbling up the courses - Money well spent, I'll tell ya what.

    Aight, so... I'm in information overload. I've been drawing for a long time, working on my own projects and doing portraits for pocket change. I lost my day job due to Corona back in March and have since been committed to developing my artistic career. I don't want to go back into the job market - I want art to be my bread and butter.
    I did NOT go to college for art. Soooo, my portfolio is lacking a lot of example pieces.

    The dream - work on my own graphic novel, sell it, live off of it, and fine art prints.
    The reality - I'm not being paid to develop my own graphic novel, so I've marketed myself as The Art Bard, providing visual storytelling services for XYZ - got a website and everything (TheArtBard.com). I'm showcasing the better stuff from the graphic novel development to potential clients, which is attractive to a specific type of client, yet... It's all very muddled...

    As I'm eating up all the lessons SVS has to offer, I'm finding myself scattered on my next action moves. So, here's where I'd really appreciate some experiential wisdom : Is the following a viable path? And if so, what do you think would be most helpful in moving forward on this?

    • Develop fine art portfolio pieces for the KidLit market
      -Utilize the line art for manufacturer clients (for royalty income)
      -Utilize the line art for goodies, like coloring books or stickers
      -Sell fine art prints and art books
      -Lease rights for publishers

    • Develop and publish the personal graphic novel
      -Cultivate the online community/fanbase
      -Utilize line arts for goodies, like coloring books or stickers
      -Free first few chapters followed by subsequent sales
      -Use my own production work as examples for services I can offer other storytellers

    • Visual storytelling development services
      -Character and environment design for 2D and 3D platforms
      -Production for other graphic novels, picture books, KidLit, pitchbooks, proof of concepts

    • Continue to offer portrait services for immediate (but one time) pocket change

    The above comes out of the Business of Illustration videos I've seen here. I suppose I'm looking for feedback and direction. I would appreciate any wisdom you have to offer 🙂

    Thanks, fellow creatives! Hope y'all are well and keeping busy!
    All the best!
    Shani, The Art Bard


  • Pro

    @TheArtBard Hi Shani, welcome! 😃

    You seem to have a very good head on your shoulders and a good idea where to start! You're a researcher and planner, which is great - trust me, it'll serve you well!

    Out of the plans you've listed, I think #2 is the best. Note here: all of these could work. But you have many different ideas and in my experience, simplicity and focus will work best. Fine arts, kid lit, character design, environment design and graphic novels are all very different markets that require different portfolios.

    It's best to pick a focus and become the obvious choice for that market, rather than scatter yourself by offering many different things and risk not being an obvious choice for ANY of your potential clients. And it makes sense to pick your focus based on what you actually wish to do: graphic novels! To that end, developing your own graphic novel (along with its community, finding ways to monetize it, merch, etc) and offering graphic novel services for other storytellers seems to make the most sense! As you've pointed out, you can use your own graphic novel as examples of what you can do. Getting that kind of work will help you get better at your craft, all the while working on your own project builds up your community, skill, endless portfolio pieces and assets that you can re-sell as merch or license. It all kind of fits together.

    But if you try to add something else that doesn't fit, like kid lit or fine arts, that's a whole other market, style, portfolio and set of skills that you must develop. I think it would really complicate your business model!


  • Pro

    @TheArtBard Oh I just looked at your website from your signature! It kind of confirms what I suspected: you need a little bit of focus. On your website it looks like your offer everything except the kitchen sink. KidLit, Graphic Novels, Picture Books, Publishers, Independent Creators, Pitchbooks, Logos, Covers, Magazine, Cartoons, Website Graphics, Usage Rights, For Animation Studios, Game Developers, Production Crews, and Watercolor commissions and portraiture. And then you also have a shop for prints, originals and goodies. PHEW! There are buttons everywhere! It's left me overwhelmed and confused. Narrow that down!



  • @NessIllustration - Thank you so much for your feedback! You said exactly what I was worried about! I've felt very scattered with all the things I CAN do for others, it's like throwing spaghetti at a wall and seeing what sticks 😕 It's a lot of energy for not much return.
    I suppose the website shows more future intentions with the spaghetti on the wall thing. But you're right, it can get to be a lot.
    I agree with what you're saying - become the obvious choice in one thing (graphic novels) and excel in that. Like Fiona Staples.

    With that said, the plan then becomes the following:

    • Develop and publish the personal graphic novel series
      -Cultivate the online community/fanbase to build up for a Patreon within the next 6 - 8 months (where I can also accept portrait commissions from the fanbase for quick pocket change)
      --Free first few chapters followed by subsequent sales
      -Utilize line arts for goodies, like coloring books or stickers for quick pocket change
      -Utilize the digitally painted backgrounds for possible manufacturers for a guaranteed income
      -Use my own production work as examples for services I can offer other storytellers
      -Offer graphic novel production services to publishers and scriptwriters...

    Thank you for your feedback! If you're up for it, I'd love feedback on the above strategy~ Otherwise, you've given me a lot to think about thus far 🙂

    Hope you and yours are well! Hope you're keeping busy!
    All the best~

    Shani, The Art Bard


  • Pro

    @TheArtBard I think this sounds great! I don't have experience with monetizing graphic novels, but to me your ideas sound good (like offering a few chapters for free, then ask for money to continue) This can be done with a Patreon where you can also offer other tiers for the other things you want to offer like portrait commissions, etc. Your next step is definitely to revamp your portfolio to focus on your sequential art. Best of luck!!


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