Business of Illustration class is live!

  • Pro SVS OG

    @Rich-Green Here is an illustrator who uses watercolor and ink well with relatively loose lines and somewhat simple characters and watercolor washes. I'm not sure if he is working traditionally or digitally or both and I'm sure it is harder to accomplish than it looks but his work is really appealing in the children's book market. He doesn't over complicate it.

    His style reminds me a bit of Quentin Blake Loose line and watercolor washes but really interesting characters etc

    I'm a fan of watercolor and ink....can you tell? 😃

  • SVS OG

    @Charlie-Eve-Ryan - Funny you should bring up Matthew Cordell - he actually did my first ever portfolio review at a one day SCBWI Conference back in November. And I had met him prior to that when he came to speak at one of our monthly meetings. He is from the area and a tremendously nice guy - and quite successful in this industry as you might imagine.

    I did not have any of the watercolor stuff I had done in my printed portfolio so it was not anything he would have been aware of me working on to offer me advice/input. But he did pick up on the same thing that Lee had told me about my piece with the kids staring into the sea lion tank at the zoo - where the characters were too flat/outlined in comparison to the depth of the way I had painted the backgrounds. That is a piece I was considering revisiting for my portfolio update by changing out the characters to the newer way I render things without the outlines.

    My printed portfolio does vary some from what is currently online - as I can not publicly post much of the work I am currently doing for the client projects yet - until they share it online or the books come out. But that said it is all currently being done in the rendered style of the images with the kids in them more or less.

    I think you are right though - maybe I do over complicate the scenes with shading/texture/rendering technique details. But at the same time I find myself so drawn to work that has that sort of stuff in it. I just keep pushing to get better at it.

    Since being laid off from my former 17+ year career when they shut down our office a few years ago - I, like you, have spent all of my time and energy in the past 2 and a half years focusing on getting better and trying to build a name for myself in the world of illustration. I too have seen a tremendous amount of change and improvement in that time - and honestly even with in person courses at School of the Art Institute in Chicago - it is the SVS courses and watching all of the critiques and 3rd Thursday reviews that had the biggest impact.

    I realize now that I have given up way too much of my time on projects that provide little income and less ability for me to do my own thing. And that is definitely going to change as I mentioned. I may have to consider some sort of "day job" as my savings has lasted me far longer than I would have imagined since being let go - but it wont last forever. The only sacrifice I do not want to have to make is my house, I really want to keep it as I am down to 9 years left on the mortgage now. But otherwise I have cut out so many things to try and pursue this dream - and I am not giving up on it yet!!!

  • SVS OG

    @Lee-White Thanks very much for doing this class! It actually means a lot to me to hear people like you and @Will-Terry (in his videos) talk about running a business as an artist like it’s not a bad word or a sell-out thing to do, and that having a business mindset is a good thing…because I feel like I’m in the minority to be creating products myself, and sometimes I’ve wondered ‘should I be doing this? It’s not an ‘arty’ thing to do!’ is very commercial and I have to please my customers rather than myself… I’d like to carve out some more creative freedom by working in other areas too (e.g. books) ..because right now it all has to be cute or pretty…I’d love to do more quirky things for money too! Nevertheless, it’s given me the income to do art full-time.

    I’m only 45 mins into the class, but enjoying it a lot and definitely recognising what you are saying from our own experience of starting/running a business. For example, our first ever product, (eight years ago now) did not sell well - after so much effort! - and we had to go back, ask questions, refine the product, and try again. (and it worked better! ..and better, and better, the more we learned..)

    The other thing I really like so far is seeing how you organise your website, with the licensing options. Even before I watched this, it’s been on our to-do list to create a licensing website, which would be separate from our current (craft-focused) website…


    You see, I create paper packs like this…each one needs 12 separate designs and I spend a LOT of time doing original art to make them, but we don’t currently do anything else with the designs, apart from creating this one product (and some giftwrap), which is not maximising the possible income…and I have a huge library of other designs. So seeing how you do your website is really interesting. I’m sure the rest of the course will be just as interesting!

  • Great class, Lee! You really dont hear this stuff anywhere, I thought I have some good knowledge from watching Jakes, Wills and Oatleys videos/podcasts, but you went even deeper. Its funny that I originally subscribed to watch Jake draw robots...and then...hmmm new video by Lee, might watch it aswell 🙂

    I have lots of thoughts now, lots of doubts, but the goal is still the same, finish the goddamn portfolio 🙂

  • Pro SVS OG

    @Dulcie Love your paper craft licensing art! That sounds like a great way to go while you build your children's book work.

    I have people say you should do licensing, too and I say maybe someday, that could be fun...but it is a WHOLE different animal...entirely different market audience with a whole different portfolio and set of contacts lol. People have a tendency to think everything is easily interchangeable. I'd have to dedicate a boat load of time to make it fly.

  • Pro SVS OG

    @Rich-Green That's awesome that you got to meet Matthew Cordell, he does seem like a pretty great guy via social media etc...really awesome style.

    All these questions about which way to go are all hard. I've spent many a night as you have too, trying to figure it all out. I've also watched your progression for sometime and it has been really great to watch. You should be really proud of all the time you have put in and what you are putting out.

    One of the things I've done and it is a plus and a minus is I became really aware of my weaknesses ie perspective and detailed backgrounds. Keeping things simple from a design POV really helped.

    When you look at my portfolio for the most part I'm highlighting my strengths ie simple designs/textures and people sort of, but at the same time as @Lee-White pointed out it highlights my weakness (perspective and backgrounds...I focus on characters way more then setting) so I'm working on fixing that in order to jump to the next level and let's be honest perspective may always be a bear for me. We may never ever get along! LOL But, besides maybe the forums, those illustrations where I am practicing techniques or experimenting a lot won't make it into my portfolio until I am much much more satisfied with the outcome.

    I don't have any idea if that is the right way to go and Lee may say something different but I think for a portfolio overall you want to really analyze your strengths vs your weaknesses.

    Does any of that makes sense?

    Also if you love highly rendered styles keep pushing for it...overall I think it is a harder mountain to climb because it is way harder to pull of successfully and the level of competition is higher and since it takes longer can eat into your profit margins. Ultimately, you have to do what you love doing every day. What makes you wake up and put the brush to the canvas!! 😃 BTW, I LOVE your Bambi!!

  • Pro SVS OG

    @Lee-White I can certainly understand how being overbooked can spiral quickly. It's no wonder you set up a good time management plan, that is a ton to juggle.

  • Pro SVS OG

    I'm watching it for a second time. When you broke down all the ways to sell one image that blew my mind too and made me realize I should start doing more traditional paintings in addition to digital.

  • SVS OG

    Just got finished listening (finally, haha). Lots of great info! But now I'm feeling nervous since I got through school with mostly B's ;-). I'll keep moving forward, though.

    Definitely think the next thing on my list has to be to step back and not push myself to work for a week so I can get my office organized and functional, as well as setting a clearer schedule for what I want to do when. I'm pretty bad about keeping things organized but I definitely understand how it can help me.

    I also wanted to share, for those who get easily distracted on the internet like me--I have a mac computer app I use called "self control" which helps me a lot. Basically it allows you to make a list of sites you want to block, and then you set a timer and it will just not allow you to use any of those websites for the amount of time you put on the timer. I bet this could work great alongside Lee's pomodoro technique--just set it for the 50 minutes or whatever that you want to focus on work, and you literally can't look at your email until the timer is up.

  • Thank you so much for this class @Lee-White the information was great. My degree was in Fine Art, and I wonder what difference it would have made if a tutor had said to us "This is a terrible business model". It's so refreshing to hear honest and practical advice.

    My biggest takeaways are that I definitely need to simplify my work process, put more figure work in my portfolio, and prove to potential clients that I would be a "safe pair of hands" for their project. The pomodoro timer has been amazing - it's like having a fitbit for creative work! Looking forward to the next videos!

  • SVS OG

    It has been a few days since I watched this video and it is still having such a big impact on things here. I went into watching this course never expecting the section on being productive and efficient in your workday. I have been putting my version of the Pomodoro technique into use each day since and I can't believe how much I have gotten done. But even more so how much less stressed I feel too. I built in a daily walk with my dog, time out for exercise and a full day of work and it has been going so well so far. In these past few days alone I sketched and completed another full color illustration with the real life photo of a girl in it (this one was Alice in Wonderland) and it is probably some of my best posing/action of the illustrated characters along with some of my most detailed rendering work. I have completed many more of the base drawings for pages in one of the books I need to get completed. I am only a few pages away from having all 32 of them drawn out and ready for rendering. Here again some of my best work to date - taking into account perspective, character, environment - the list goes on and on but its all things I have been working on and become "aware" of from all of these courses here.

    I have not yet figured out how I am going to approach rebuilding my portfolio just yet - but I am feeling so much more encouraged today than earlier this week. Thanks @Lee-White for such a great thought provoking class and @Charlie-Eve-Ryan for all of your input/comments here in this thread. It's all been so helpful!

  • SVS OG

    This is clearly one of the best classes on the entire site. It's a must watch for anyone trying to break into any art related business or any kind of business for that matter. I'm also really looking forward to his upcoming water color classes.

  • SVS OG

    @Charlie-Eve-Ryan Thanks! Yes you’re right that each market area can be SO different. For example, the current customers of our business (craft shops) are ONLY interested in craft products. They’re not interested in buying rights to the art itself, or buying products in other areas. So if I want to use the same art to sell giftwrap, art prints, greetings cards, etc (which would be nice), I have to go out and find a whole new set of customers..and I know from the experience of setting up the current business that it all takes a lot of time to build that up. Doesn’t mean it’s not worth doing, but I have to figure out how many plates I can spin at once and still keep it all going.

    So yeah, I’d like to set up another website for the non-papercraft licensing, and then I think I’ll need yet another separate website for my children’s book illustration (my ideal destination!), which will be in a different enough style that I think it should be separate (judging from Lee’s previous posts about websites and self-branding and so on..). That’s been the tricky part for me recently - trying to work out how the different areas should be split up and branded.

  • @Dulcie Thank you! I think money often gets a bad wrap because often people do bad things with it or live a life out of balance in the pursuit of it.

    Money is life. We can't live without it. Life is a good thing - so the pursuit of money can be a good thing. It takes skills to get more "life" with your art skills.

    I embrace the idea of being a good businessman/woman because it means I can bring more life to my family.

    People with jobs are glad that their employer is a good businessman/woman -so the notion that being savvy in business means you're not a good person is ridiculous and needs to be rejected.

    I hope everyone who takes Lee's class learns skills that help them have a better life!

  • Brilliant class @lee-white!

    I'm addicted to Shark Tank now haha. It's like a show we used to have over here in the UK called Dragon's Den.

    Do you broadly know what you have planned for the next lessons yet and also when the Editorial class is going live? I'm stoked to see a different style like that.

    Take care Buddy!

  • This is odd I'm getting an error message on all the videos (Opps! that was suppose to happen. please check back) It's been about three hours now. 😕

  • @lyddie_lee I can't really help you, but I just checked and it's doing the same for me, too.


  • @lyddie_lee Just checked again and everything's working again.


  • @Ace-Connell Thanks for the heads-up!

  • @Lee-White Terrific class. I enjoyed every minute of your presentation. I really appreciate your "real life" examples. Thank you for putting this class together.

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