Well...here you go just finished it
Hey there everybody!
If you have been on these forums for the last few years you might remember me, but if you are newer you will have no clue who I am. I thought it was a good time to pop my head back in a give an update on what has happened with me and my career after spending two solid years at SVS. It might help others who are moving in the same direction, as well as clear up some things that I was not to clear about when entering this industry.
I signed with with agent last July!
YAY! It happened! After working so hard here at SVS and listening to Will, Jake and Lee a ton, things fell into place for me and I got representation. In fact, my agent signed three others from SVS, and since signing myself, I have seen other SVS members sign with other agents I follow. It has been quite amazing to witness.
I signed with a literary agent, that represents me as an author/illustrator, which is different than being rep'd as solely an illustrator. The difference is quite extreme in my opinion. This is something I wish I knew beforehand, but was somewhat aware. Let me explain:
Literary agents used to rep authors, and if they could illustrate that was a nice cherry on top. However, over the last few years, agencies have been trying to find illustrators who can already write or learn to write. There are many reasons for this, but one of the major reasons is one individual is easier market and more cost efficient than two. That being said, literary agents are now treading on new ground. It is much more time consuming to market an illustrator and get them work than it is an author. One reason is that much of the marketing for illustrators requires postcards, and constant ads to publishers, as well as maintaining a website with updated work. This is one of the reason Literary agents take less of a percentage than art reps, since art reps are taking on more of a burden.
So, we are in a new era if you will, and that means literary agents are being faced with a new hurdle in marketing illustrators, so don't be surprised if you sign with a literary agent and nothing happens with their help, and still requires that you do much of the leg work to get deals done. This will change over time, as literary agents grow accustom to this new breed of dual artists they have work for.
I was good enough, but not enough
If I can be honest, I was probably ready to get an agent a year earlier than I did. In fact, my critique group thought I was nuts for waiting around, but I felt as though I needed to be 100% ready. When I signed, I realized I shouldn't have waited....
I also was not ready in other ways. If your goal is to write and illustrate, please listen to me here: Have at least two solid stories ready to go for your agent. In fact, most literary agents I came across wanted two stories before signing an author/illustrator. I had one, and once it went to market for publishers, I should have already had a manuscript that was fully critiqued, rewritten, edited and ready to create a book dummy. I didn't, and so I am stuck in a creative black hole with a clock ticking as I write constantly trying to chase trends that both my critique group and then my agent can give the green light on so I can then dummy up 32 pages (which will take a long time) so that I can get my next story moving.
My critique group is doing better than me
As I sit by myself writing each night, I witness my critique group getting book deals left and right as illustrators. I often second guess my decision to enter this field as an author/illustrator. Some literary agents are different, and they will get you a good amount of work as an illustrator, but most won't. It seems to be either: "You are an illustrator and who knows, maybe you'll write something some day, and we hope you do". Or, The weight of your career rests on if you can write a great a story that fits the trends, or sets them (rare I think). However, I chose this path, because I worried that I would never have the time to branch out as an author/illustrator, and I am rolling the dice that it will be a good decision in the end.
I thought this would be good information to share here. I know everybody has their own path, and I look forward to seeing you all kick butt in publishing. SVS changed my life, and I hope you all get as much out of it as I have.
@will-terry I am so happy for everyone here at SVS. It has been great to see everyone moving forward.
I just did my first professional job with Highlights magazine. They gave me a full spread, which was not stressful at all :-). That will be out in December. The best part was how the Netflix documentary on the inner working of highlights launched the day I started on the final painting, and I got to listen to the AD I was working with stress out while I painted. That was surreal.
I have other things in the works, and will know in early October. I love seeing everyone here have success.
So I had a bad couple of weeks in art block hell, and this image is somewhat working out, but I feel it needs some SVS input. The boy needs work, and some of the underwater details. I plan to add fish and possibly some ducks as well. Any input would be greatly appreciated.
Love those pictures. I will definitelly be checking that artist out.
Interestingly enough, Lee White's is someone I have been researching a lot of these last couple of weeks. Turned my ipad wallpaper into the piece he did on luminous light. His work that is on his website has really pushed me in a good way, but also showed me how much I have to learn, which is great. I am addicted to hitting walls.
Another person I have been following, and I wouldn't be surprised if people here know about her is Iraville on youtube.
So these are the two artist that have been convincing me I suck, which is good. I love both of their artwork.
I never realized how much work goes into a book dummy. If I would have known, idk how I would have approached it differently. I started at the beginning of September, hoping it would take me a few weeks, but if I could suggest a few things after going through all of this, here are my tips:
1- learn Indesign!!!! Wow, how have I not used this from the beginning to layout my book dummy? I got a good grasp of it towards the end of this process, and it has just made everything much easier. It isn't a hard program to learn, but it can seem that way when you first start using it.
2- Get your page turns down from the beginning! I can't tell you how much time was wasted on drawing out a complete book, and then realizing a page turn doesn't work, and then having to cut images and text just so the page turn hits correctly. Dropping an image shifts everything, potentially ruining all of your other page turns. I have found that my original idea was easily ruined by not considering this right at the beginning. I started trying to make fixes which were not at the same level creatively because my mindset was to make it fit, rather than writing the best story possible. This feels like writing music with pictures, and getting the tempo down in the beginning is what makes it 100 times easier.
3- Plan other projects to do while working on your dummy. I was dumb, and thought this would be easy. I had a somewhat soft deadline which I missed, and it completely stopped me from working on anything for my social media for almost three months. This was a bad idea. I am glad that this is finally just about done (gosh I hope) so I can get back to some projects I have planned.
4 - share your work with others, because a very obvious issue might not leap out at you, and most likely it won't if it's your own project. I have had numerous people look over my work, or give me advice on where I am missing the mark.
5 - At least try to do a book dummy once, so you can get the feel of the whole process, as well as know what not to do on your next project.
Now my phone is ringing, and I have to go drive 30 minutes in the rain, even though I was putting the finishing touches on this atm (ugh)
A year ago I lost my job as a welder/fabricator, after many years of struggle to succeed in a career which I had attempted to really set an honest path in. I just am not fit for such work. I wanted to go to art school after high school, but my brother convinced me that it was a waste of time, but now looking back at it, I can see that it is just his contrarian personality that led him to such advice for me. He really hates anyone rating art, and finds most artists pretentious, though his work is remarkable, he refuses to do it as a career, and would rather dig a hole than make a dollar off of art.
Anyways, here I am about to turn 35, and last July I decided to join SVS after finding Will Terry on youtube. I have always wanted to write and illustrate children's books from a very young age, and was shcoked to find such a place as this. My work has grown so much over the course of a year, and it is due to Lee White, Will Terry and Jake Parker. I listened to their artistic advice, as well as their advice for practicing, scheduling, and overall, a realistic approach to improving my art. Here is an example of how much my art has grown since last July
I think the hardest part of SVS vs traditional school is that you are accountable to yourself, and must be able to motivate yourself. I got rid of all distractions, such as video games, and stopped using social media as a consumer, and started using it to surround myself with likeminded artists with similar goals. All these things have been recommendations from people here on the forums, as well as the teachers. They have a ton of advice to give you, and I would suggest that if you do go the route of becoming and SVS subscriber, that you also use these forums as a replacement for the community you would have in a college setting. You must also come in with the mindset that it will take hardwork and dedication, and the ability to push through different limitations you might be faced with as you begin to challenge yourself here.
I can't recommend signing up enough, but really want to emphasize the self discipline it requires to move forward. You can do it, and everyone on these forums are willing to help you as much as you need it. We all want each other to succeed, and so we welcome all the questions and critiques you would need to move forward with what you want to do. It is one of the best decisions I have ever made.
Hope this helped.
P.s the image is somewhat blury, but you can click on my SCBWI link and see what I have been able to do because of SVS.
@evilrobot I am with you on the political stuff.
As for the follower vs following: I cannot stand people that follow me only to drop me after a day or so in hopes to have fished me as a follower. My rule is that I only follow people back if I like their art or know them. I have an app that notifies me when someone has unfollowed, and aobut 75% of followers I get end up dropping me a day later.
I also believe that people who follow me are valuable to my art, and their comments on what I am working on hold value, and also helping them out in the same way builds good relationships with a group of up and coming artists that will pay off in the end for all of us. I try to private message everyone that follows me, and let them know I am glad they decided to follow me.
I don't know how much I buy into the idea that our social media presence has a huge impact on getting rep'd. I'm sure it is like having another thing working for you, but at the end of the day, you are either good or you are not. The people that got an agent or book deal that I know have virtually 0% social media presence. My friend just got two book deals with Harper Collins in YA and nobody on social media even knows she writes. My other friend just got a big book deal and rep at the summer conference, and as I was talking to him this last weekend at the SCBWI sponsored illustration show, he has very little interest in social media and growing his audience. I'm sure there is a value in it, but it takes a back seat in my mind to actually being good, and making sure that your craft is getting better and better.