Here is my entry!
Hey, I'm Taylor Ackerman, I am a children's illustrator making work under the name Studio Looong (an ode to my small, horizontally-gifted studio mates). I love making work that is whimsical, easy to relate to, and just a tiny bit off-beat. Knobby people, bug-eyed creatures and quirky narratives are some of my favorite subjects.
I graduated from Bradley University in 2015 with a B.F.A. in Graphic Design and now I work as a Designer at the University of Illinois in Champaign, Illinois. I spend every minute I can outside of work drawing and illustrating. I strive to become a published illustrator, specializing in Children's Publishing.
Here is my entry for the June contest!
For Mermay I am drawing an unconventional mer-granny and her cat-fish. I want to turn this into a little series where I have this piece and I draw a handful of catfish portraits like the ones behind her in the sketch as stand alone pieces. I'm not sure how I feel about the catfish I have on granny's lap. I feel like it's lacking the character that the other two have. I might re-draw it.
My friend Hayden has revamped and relaunched his character design challenge and is putting out one character description a week, this is my take on the first one; Ozmo, leader of the merchant guild. Adding color later this week! if you want to join follow @cqprompts on twitter or instagram.
@xin-li Noodlephant by Jacob Kramer is an 80-page picture book. That may be a good one to look at.
I think this tough to offer advice on because what you should do next really depends on your personal goals for where you want your career to go. It sounds like you're considering a couple options:
Signing up for a crowdsourcing site will get you a ton of experience quoting jobs, meeting deadlines, and communicating with clients. If this is an area where you feel you need to grow this could be a good option. If you're trying to get portfolio-worthy work or make money, these platforms are not the place to do it. Often the deadlines are tight and the budgets are small so you don't end up being able to do your best work. If you are going to join a platform, I suggest Reedsy. I find that site is a tiny bit less of a race to the bottom. There is an application you have to fill out to join, I find this makes the authors and illustrators on this platform less flakey since they've already had to put in some significant effort up front.
Opening an Etsy store is going to give you a whole different experience that's going to be a little less applicable to children's books. (but if you want to sell products this is still a great next step) The kind of art that is great for a children's book portfolio is often too specific to succeed as a print or digital product. You may have to rework/generalize old pieces or make a separate body of work to get your Etsy shop to be successful. The experience you'll get from Etsy is more customer service and logistics/shipping than client interaction.
The third option you mentioned is to keep working on your portfolio and contact agents and publishers. If you want to traditionally publish children's books, this is a good option. Creating portfolio pieces where you are free to take your time and unconstrained by outside influence (like sales numbers or a client) means that you can do your best work and you can cater it to catch the attention of agents/publishers. It isn't going to start generating income for you anytime soon. It takes time for a publisher/agent to notice you and when they do, there could be another 6-8 months before you actually get your first job underway.
If your goal is to make children's books but you're feeling like you aren't ready to reach out to agents and publishers yet, or you aren't getting the response you wanted, another option is to make a book dummy or kickstart your own project. These options will give you more control over the timeline and quality of work than a crowdsourcing site so you'll end up with great portfolio pieces. If you kickstart your project successfully you can end up making some money off of it and you'll have a finished product you can show to agents and publishers.
What's the best next step is really up to you, hope my pro's/con's help you in your decision. I'm sure whatever you do next will be fantastic!
I know a lot of kidlit authors and illustrators are on instagram and twitter, are any of you using Tiktok or Clubhouse for kidlit networking purposes? I'm on Tiktok but mostly just post/watch funny pet videos. I logged onto Clubhouse for the first time today and it looks like there are a lot of freelance designers and illustrators there. I'd love to connect with some other kidlit illustrators if you're on there!
I think that what you have going on with the path is flattening out the composition in an unnatural way. There is great perspective with the rocks getting smaller but that dirt path isnt following the same logic. It's almost as wide up by the person as it is down by the large rock. The rough edges of the grass should scale too, becoming less jagged as it reseeds into the distance.
Quick fix for the path width could be to take out some of the grass in the bottom left.
In this episode of Graphic Novel TK they go into time estimating and scheduling, may be a helpful refrence: https://soundcloud.com/graphicnoveltk/episode-11-how-to-make-a-graphic-novel
@Miranda-Branley it may help to look at some reference of trees and pick out what variety of tree you are going for - is it an oak or a maple? What is the shape of the leaves? What is the branch structure like? I think the texture that you have on the trunk is looking good but what sticks out most to me is the shape of the trunk and the lack of branches. Your tree is very straight, in real life, tree trunks tend to be a bit more of an hourglass shape with the roots flaring out just a little at the bottom and branches starting to come out at the top before you get to the leaves. With how close your foliage is in the foreground, you aren't going to be able to get away with not drawing any leaves but a little detail will go a long way. If you draw 4-5 leaves with a bit more definition and then just suggest the rest of them with some edge lines or texture, I think it would blend a lot better with the level of detail you're putting into the people.
@krish-iyer If you are going to go to a liberal arts school with an art program, SAT/ACT and GPA will still play a big factor - you have to meet the general admissions requirements for the school to get in. Some liberal arts schools will look at a portfolio and others will not even require one. Colleges that specialize in art degrees are USUALLY a little less focused on grades and test scores, putting most of their consideration into the portfolio, but it really differs school-to-school so once you find a few you like, make sure to read their specific admissions requirements.
If you want to get into the animation industry, I would look at art schools in Los Angeles, CA. Since the film industry is centered in LA, the art schools there will likely have more connections with the animation studios in the area which will help you get a job in the end. Art Center and CalArts are known to have great programs. Disney is based in Florida and they end up hiring a lot of people from Ringling, so if your dream is to work for Disney, that may be a good place to start.
If you are wanting to go to a liberal arts school, UCLA and USC also have top-ranked animation and illustration programs.
It may help to think about what you would like to do after graduation and where you would like to work. If you have a specific studio or network that would be your "dream gig," look up where their illustrators and animators graduated from. Normally you'll find that 70-80% of them all went to the same school.
Bummed I couldn't participate in this one but this month I moved cross-country (and we packed and moved everything ourselves to minimize COVID risk). There was just a bit too much chaos for me to get it done in time, really appreciate the invite though!