This is an all-to-common problem that many freelance artists encounter. If you're being paid a flat rate for something (meaning the whole project is one price like $300 and that's it) you MUST have a few sentences in your contract about "changes" to the artwork if the client wants you to redo something. I usually put something like "Each change to the artwork will be charged on a per hour basis of $25 per hour. A change is defined as something the client changes their mind about, not a mistake by the artist." This protects the artist from doing 2 or 3 times the amount of work through endless changes. There are differences between minor and major changes too, which can vary (like changing a character's hair color vs redrawing the entire page layout). Since I've put this in my contract, I haven't had any problems :)
Words are not enough to describe how awesome and inspiring the New York Comic Con was this year! I met SO MANY awesome people everywhere I went and learned immensely important things for my career as a cartoonist.
I got a 4 day "Professional" pass. Usually the con is 3 days, but Thursday was open to just Professionals. That's why you see all that clear space around me in the top picture, and craziness in the pic just above (taken Saturday). It helped to have time to scope things out before it got insane. I was able to talk with some other professionals I may not have gotten one-on-one time with otherwise, like Victor Gorelick: Co-President/E-I-C of Archie Comics, and Paul Kaminski: Compilation Editor of Sonic the Hedgehog. More on Sonic later :)
Half the time I spent going to panels (meaning interviews with creators/business people, rather than drawn comic panels on a page!). The ones I targeted were mostly about "how to" things, like self-publishing your comic, copyrighting, and digital distributing. One of the best panels was about using Kickstarter to fund and market your comic, so that may be the way AER HEAD gets out into the world. I even went to a panel about planning events in a comic store. It was aimed at store owners, but was actually very helpful in teaching interesting marketing techniques. Another useful one was about digital coloring. Christina Strain blew my mind away with all the awesome Photoshop stuff she demonstrated. I thought I knew a lot about coloring before, but there's so much more to learn!
I loved the panel about Womanthology, which is a compilation of short comic stories drawn and written by women. Womanthology is being put together by Renae De Liz, who I got to meet and is super awesome! She also drew the gorgeous artwork for the graphic novel adaptation of The Last Unicorn (one of my favorite childhood animations). I also met her husband, Ray Dillon, who inked and colored her work. This couple is so inspiring not only because their artwork is supernaturally amazing, but they have such drive and passion about them, as well as being very friendly down-to-earth people. Another Last Unicorn person I saw was Peter S. Beagle, who wrote the original prose novel that the animation was based off. I met him once before at the San Diego Comic Con years ago, and it was just as awesome seeing him again.
Another highlight was the Sonic the Hedgehog panel! I've been a lifelong fan of Sonic - from the videogames to the tv shows to the comic. I was thrilled to meet my favorite Sonic artist, Patrick Spaziante ("Spaz")! I asked him lots of questions about his career, gave him one of my AER HEAD mini comics, and practically launched into outer space when he said that HE liked MY artwork! How cool is THAT? As Sonic would say: "Way past cool!" I also briefly met Ian Flynn, writer of Sonic. Everyone working on Sonic just beams with positive energy and it shows that they really love what they do. Someday, I want to be part of that team!
I also spent a lot of time in the "Artist's Alley" section of the Con. This is the section where independent comic publishers and freelance artists have booths to sell their books and showcase their artwork. The more I talked with artists there, the more I felt the calling to get a table at this and other cons too. Some artists suggested starting with the smaller conventions to save money, so keep an eye out for mindy indy at your local Brooklyn cons soon :) (In this context, "con" is short for convention. I don't intend to con people :)
I noticed a significant difference in people's general responses to me this year when I mentioned that I colored Marvel comics as Kyle Baker's assistant. (I was careful not to look like I was blatantly name-dropping, and didn't bring it up with everyone. It naturally came up in conversations). I had a published Deadpool Max comic to show as an example too. Last year, I toted my portfolio around to publishers and asked advice, and was told at worst that my style wasn't what they were looking for, and at best to just submit samples online to the company's general email, not to anyone specific. (I don't like online art submissions, because like job submissions, I think they go into a black void and my time was wasted). But this year, people paid attention to me more! I got lots of positive feedback from the AER HEAD mini comics, and I may have gotten some possible leads to future projects - fingers crossed!
Speaking of Deadpool, a gazillion people dressed up as him! Everywhere I turned, there was Deadpool! I think because there's a movie coming out soon. I felt special that I get to contribute my talents to something so big and popular :)
While I'm at it, here are more cool costumes! If you don't know, Comic Cons are places where people dress as their favorite characters, often going to amazing lengths over details. I especially appreciate when I see unique characters from my childhood, like Darkwing Duck! Look at how the guy made the duck feet - they're 3 shoes glued together!
There are so many more awesome stories to tell, but it's past 4AM. Overall, this year's NYCC was more amazing than I could have imagined! I met fantastic people, reconnected with some old friends, learned a whole lot about the business, and had a TON of fun all at once!
Do not adjust your screen - that drawing is purposely sideways :) I had to scan it sideways and realized it looked even cooler that way! Looks like Aer is pouncing on/fighting with Andy rather than warning him about something (dun dun DUNNNN!!!). As my hero Bob Ross says, gotta love the happy little accidents in art. I've been drawing up a storm for the past week! 15 pages!! YES!! Well, 15 almost complete drawings out of about 45 pages (the first 5 of which are completed and posted on this site). So that's about 25 (wait... check the math..... yes!) more pages to draw.
I couldn't even fit all the pages on my desk. This is the way to go though - I love working on multiple pages at once. That way, if I'm stuck on a pose I can work on something else and go back to it later, and I'll reach a better solution. I'm also working backwards - these are the last 15 pages of the comic, because I felt like doing the real action sequences now :) The life of a freelance artist is constantly changing, and since my other work has taken a break for a bit, Aer Head kicks back into full gear! You will see more!!
You can see a preview of Marvel's Deadpool Max comic that I colored here! It's #8 and will be out on May 18th - mark your calendars! Here's a page out of five that Comic Book Resources posted.
I'm currently coloring #10 right now.
In other news, today, April 30th, is the one year anniversary of me moving to NYC. The year has flown by! As I reflect upon the year, I accomplished a lot. Even though some times were slow for paying work, I was always meeting new people in my field and made valuable connections, sometimes without even realizing it! The major freelance jobs I eventually got were a combination of preparation and luck. Who knows where I'll be a year from now!
Some of you have been telling me "I want more AER HEAD!" I know - I do too! My freelancing has been picking up lately, which is great news for me, but it also means that AER HEAD takes a back seat for a bit. When I was making a page every other week back in the fall, I was also unemployed :/ I wish I could work on AER HEAD full time and somehow get paid for it, but in the meantime, I'll keep trying to find a good balance between work projects and personal projects. But I'm excited to say that I'm getting comic and animation work:
Recently, I became a colorist for Marvel! I'm an assistant to Kyle Baker, who draws some of Marvel's comics. I just colored DeadPool Max #8, which should be out next month. (#1 is shown above. All DeadPool Max characters © Marvel 2011) It's so crazy - I never thought I'd be working for Marvel because our styles are so different. But I can color in any style! Kyle draws in Photoshop and sends me the files, and I do the "flats," which are the solid colors. Then I do some shading, send it to him, and he touches it up with his personal flair. You can see an example of a panel I colored here.
I've also gotten an animation gig, animating the end credits for Heart of a Doll, the film I was an art assistant for (see last post). One thing leads to another :) I'm so glad things are finally starting to come together for my career, after a year of being in NYC. What will the future hold? Only Aeryan knows ;)
I had an awesome time being an art assistant for the short film "Heart of a Doll", directed by Ash Mayfair. I learned so many new things and got to work with great people! Since it was a period piece set in 1965, I made a lots of props like a fake photo and helped make a fake newspaper. Lots of work went into converting a family's kitchen into a 60's looking kitchen - painting, putting up temporary wall paper, and lots of other details. I was "on stand-by" for a majority of the shooting time, meaning I had to be ready after a "take" was done and had to reset the props back to their original positions. I also needed to fix things on set (changing a light fixture, trimming curtains, cleaning glasses that were used as props). I also sawed part of a flat (fake wall), and felt so macho like I could build my own house! I loved the variety of tasks, and it kept me on my toes! Even though I brought my comic boards with me, I didn't get a chance to do any work on AER HEAD :P I did manage to get a few quick sketches of some of the crew, though:
I really liked being a part of this project, and would like to do more work as an art assistant for films. But probably not too much, because the long hours (literally from when you wake up early to 11pm, even all nighters sometimes) don't leave me time to work on my true passion, which is comics. But I love trying all kinds of freelance projects and learning all sorts of new things! It's important as a freelancer to be versatile. (Sketch of Lauren © Mayfair Pictures 2011)
In other news, Max West featured my work on his blog, Sunnyville Stories! You may have seen Max posting some useful tips on this AER HEAD blog - he's really on top of things like blogging and progressing on his comic. His stuff is worth checking out - I think it may be a big hit with kids in the future.
They're Prismacolor markers, and they blend kind of well... I'll practice more in the future.
In other AER HEAD news, it seems like whenever I start storyboarding for the current issue, I keep sketching ideas for events waaaaayyy later in the series, and even for my other comic series! This is still productive in the long run, but stretches things out for the short term. But hey, I'm my own boss when it comes to personal projects, and I've learned that when I get inspired I need to just run with it.
In other other news, I've been going to a lot of lectures about the business of art by the Graphic Artist's Guild. I have a thirst to learn all I can about this subject. One lecture was how illustrators can survive in today's marketplace. Basically, if you're great at illustration, just keep trying for projects and learn from your mistakes. And if you're not great, try for work in other fields, because it takes everything you've got to make a living as an illustrator. Another lecture was about "creative briefs" for large scale graphic design projects. Even though it was mostly geared toward small design firms, I learned a ton about how to handle many kinds of business situations with clients, some I would never have imagined. I even went to a "fashion roundtable" one time, where I got to talk with designers in the fashion industry. Even though fashion isn't my niche, I went anyway because you never know where something will lead. It turned out that some designers were able to point me to some interesting things I may not have looked into otherwise.
One of the reasons I'm so glad to be in NYC now is that I can learn so much from so many talented people from all scopes of the art world.
So far mindyindy.com has focused on AER HEAD, the graphic novel I'm (slowly) working on. My freelance work has been picking up, though, and I want to share some other comic work I've done recently - a custom comic!
A custom comic is a comic specifically made about someone, usually as a gift. In this case, the client wanted one about her boyfriend for his birthday. The client told me many details about her boyfriend's personality and life, and sent pictures for reference. We discussed the format of the comic (3 panel strip vs full page, color vs black and white), I drew it, and voila: the perfect birthday gift! Both the client and her boyfriend love it and intend to hang it in their new apartment. There was even talk of being Action Alex for Halloween! This was super fun and I want to do more of these projects!
I put a new Custom Comics page in this blog's upper right corner, listing my rates and more details. If you would like me to create a custom comic for you, just send me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or call 734-776-6477 so we can discuss details.
I've realized this past week that I need to spend more time trying to find freelance work and less time making my comic. I love creating AER HEAD and it's my true passion, so I'll definitely keep making progress on the comic and posting something each week, though.
I've been very good at dividing up my time between projects at various jobs in the past, but since this comic is my passion, I let myself be a perfectionist about it. It obviously takes a lot more time and care to create than a typical stick figure web comic ;) I have considered cutting corners by drawing at half the size. That would cut half the work, and in this case that's better than doing a sloppier job faster. Usually cartoonists draw at the big 11in x 17in scale and shrink it down so the art will be "super tight" when printed. But I've heard more than a few cartoonists say what's the point of drawing so much detail if it almost disappears when shrunken down?
More plans for AER HEAD include merchandise like stickers, T-shirts, prints, and the comic book itself, that people can buy through PayPal right here on my blog! But until then, I gotta pay the bills like everyone else. Recently, I have managed to get a part time job at an art store :) I'm very happy because it's art related, I work with super nice people, and I get an amazingly awesome discount! If you must get a day job, try to get something related in some way to your passion. It will be so much more rewarding than a daily grind because you'll still feel connected to your goals - more than just the money goal. You could also meet more people in your field and even potential clients. And I can't overstate the awesomeness of a great discount on supplies I already buy - it just makes sense.
But even so, part time won't cover all the rent, so would anyone like to hire me for any projects? :) I can work long distance too!