All posts by super

Woo-Hoo! Website is Done!

I had set up most of my website over Christmas, but not the most important part: the text content.  Without words there is nothing for the web spiders to search.  For each and every art project in my portfolio I added a description and the medium.  All I want to add now is a description to each of my portfolio categories, maybe a contact me link on each of them too. Also pricing – I’ve always sucked big time at it when it comes to illustration, because guess what… that skill takes time!  Like one painting can take all day or many days.  A drawing can be a few minute doodle or an extensive rendering.  There’s just no consistency unless you do the same thing all the time… and I don’t.  Must refer to the Artist Handbook of Illustration!  It blows me away that I should get a few hundred for a 3″x4″ magazine illustration… but then how was that illustration rendered? How long did it take?  What’s the actual size? It ain’t easy being an artist.  That’s why I mostly do web design.


Hand-Drawn Infographics

“When Sociologist W. E. B. Dd Bois crafted his brilliant and colourful data visualizations for the World’s Fair in 1900, he didn’t have the help of a computer. Neither did Florence Nightingale when she visualized the causes of death in the Crimean Warin the 1850s. In the early days of data visualization, people made info-graphics by hand because they had to. Today, that’s not the case. Designers can use software, styli, and tablets to craft glossy data visualizations—and plenty of them do. But many still prefer simple tools—and use them to fantastic effect.”

Source: The Nerdy Charm of Artisanal, Hand-Drawn Infographics

I like this. Visual communications isn’t always about wowing the audience with shiny things. Some times it’s really just about conveying the ideas; making your point without all the hoopla. It’s disarming, comfortable, casual… hand-drawn graphics are friendly.

Craft a Day Challenge

Craft a Day Challenge – which I’m sure I’m going to fail miserably at but it’s a start. I’ve been doing a lot of craft research lately… it’s time to start doing.

Today I stray painted a set of 3 tin cans of assorted sizes dark blue. I’m going to glue them together, embellish them with paper, ribbons and bling-bling and call it a caddy. I know, right? So lame. But I’ve been collecting these cans for a while and pretty much the only “craft” I can find for them is decorate it and call it a can. Cans come in handy because you can put stuff in them like pencils and forks. When you group them they become a caddy for putting like things in them such as toiletries. Alternatively, I could pound nails through them and call them tea candle lanterns.

The blue paint made me think of the blue sweater that just got trashed in the wash. Maybe I’ll do some cans for myself, dress them up with recycled sweater parts. I say “for myself” because most of my crafting is going to go into my Bread n Honey Craft table this year and the sweater is the same colour of blue that just painted my feature wall, so I’m using it to accessorize.

Oh, oh! I just made this up (© Feb 2, Evelyn Shifflett)… throw in a handful of dried beans and rice. Cover the whole thing in paper maché, sealing in the beans and rice. Decorate it and call it a maraca… or better, a Can-rauca™ ’cause I can rock out with it. I know, lame. But hey, I’ve been wanting to make myself an ugly stick too, so what’s the difference? It’s a noise maker.

Decorated Gam Can Caddy
Decorated Glam Cans with denim and burlap.
Decorated Pen Cans
Decorated Pen Cans with textiles.
Woodsie Faubs
Keychains made from a length of stick.
Girly Goat and Creepy Bunny
Girly Goat and Creepy Bunny creature stuffies.

OK – one a day is a bit ambitious.  But I am making the effort and enjoying the playtime.

Rhinoceros Beetle Restoration

This is my latest project – restoring a specimen. This is an Atlas beetle (Chalcosoma atlas) from Indonesia.  I found it in a thrift shop for $3 and thought, “Ooo!  My luck day!”  I like rhinos, I like bugs.  Rhino bugs rock.

It was in a bad state with it’s head and limbs falling off and being eaten by littler bugs (which I discovered upon opening).  No biggy – I put it out on the balcony for a week in the middle of winter.  No more live bugs.  I glued him back together with some super glue and goop and then shined him up with some bronze and black nail polish.  I got rid of the gross sponge the beetle had been glued to and the box got new wall paper lining.  Mr. Altas will be happily hanging on my wall for some time to come.  Well, happier than my partner about it anyway.  Whatever.

Yay bugs!

Rhinoceros beetle, aka Atlas beetle

30 Self-Promotion Tips

Self-promotion doesn’t mean selling out, though. Clever mailers, a well-stocked blog, quirky gifts and memorable business cards all help shape Brand You. Here we bring you advice from the top on how you can take some simple steps to ensure your name is the first that springs to mind when art directors and commissioning editors reach for their contacts books.

01 Get your name in lights
Nick Defty
Director, YCN
“Register your name as your domain name, rather than the name of an agency or other identity,” advises Nick Defty of YCN. For a start you’ll never lose business to the question, ‘What did he say his website was called?’ It’s almost like a psychological boost to know you have a personal presence online, one that speaks clearly with your voice. There’s nothing stopping you from registering another domain too, maybe with a clever name, but owning your moniker has to be position of strength.

02 Keep them coming back
Johanna Basford
It almost goes without saying that a website is an essential first point of contact these days. However, it’s no good just sticking a few pictures up and forgetting about it. Your website needs to look good but it also needs to be dynamic, says Johanna Basford: “I’ve got six images which flash up on my homepage. I try to change those every couple of weeks.” People want to feel your presence behind that storefront, always busy, keeping them enthralled.

03 Top advice: Speak 1,000 words
Sarah Trounce
Project manager, YCN
“Use words as well as images when presenting your work,” advises YCN’s Sarah Trounce. “People enjoy reading interesting editorial content and it helps to demonstrate your abilities as a good communicator.” It is essential that you are able to communicate effectively through some medium other than the visual. Whether emailing clients, writing a blog or explaining your work as part of your portfolio, thoughtful, stimulating and grammatically correct writing really shines through.

04 If you must blog, do it well
Graham Sykes
Co-founder of Teacake and designer at Cherry, London
Despite appearances to the contrary, blogging is not about telling everyone what you had for breakfast. “It should inspire an interaction, just as any other piece of work should,” says Graham Sykes of design studio Teacake. Boring people is worse than having no effect at all. Inspiration is fine but don’t make a rod for your own back by showing everyone how many better designers there are than you out there. Be funny, charming, entertaining and informative at all times.

05 Do good work
Peter Jarvis
Creative partner, Young
Give your time, skills and work free for charitable causes. As well as the obvious benefits for the cause, this, notes Peter Jarvis, is “especially useful for meeting new and influential people.” These types of projects often enable you to have more creative freedom, and won’t harm your reputation or your conscience. Do a good job here and, not only will it warm your cockles, it might bring you to the attention of financially liquid parties in need of some design advice. It’s a classic win-win situation.

06 Top advice: Engage with others
Adam Morris
London-based graphic designer
Sign up to design blogs and comment on other people’s work. There are lots of design forums out there, and plenty of ways to get involved with the design community. Not only will this keep you up to date with what’s going on, it will help to create an awareness of your opinion. “The more your name and web link is out there,” says designer Adam Morris, “the more likely people are to see it and visit it.”

07 Go on the social
Gavin Strange
Senior online designer, Aardman Animations
Blogging is just one short step from the world of social networking. Designer Gavin Strange is a fan. “Social networking is the most important yet easy-to-use tool in the whole game of self-promotion,” he says. Twitter, Flickr, Facebook, Behance – they all give you a platform to show off your work to like-minded people in an instant. And some, such as Twitter, still offer a direct route to commissioning editors and other potential clients.

08 Blog for self-motivation
Johanna Basford
If you have a lively blog with interesting content, it can be a real winner in more ways than one. “I think opening up your studio and letting people see the projects you’ve been working on and the different ways you’re working is a great idea,” says Johanna Basford. Use this show-and-tell process as a catalyst for new work and experimentation. This, hopefully, will create a virtuous circle as people keep coming back for more.

09 Top advice: Be seen
Magomed Dovjenko
Graphic designer and Illustrator
All that sitting around indoors while pondering your digital presence can easily bring on a bout of solipsism. There’s a simple way to fix that: go out and find some like-minded people to talk to. “Never hesitate to attend exhibition launches, award shows or festivals,” recommends tirelessly effervescent young designer Magomed Dovjenko. In the days before Facebook, events like those served as networking hubs, and that role still persists. They are overrun with creative types, many of whom you could work with or for.

10 Think like a brand
Adam Morris
London-based graphic designer
If your promotional efforts are going to pay off, they have to be leading to a consistent point – that is, your brand. “Colour schemes, typography, logo and tone are a few examples that can be used to bring consistency to how people perceive you,” notes Adam Morris. You have to know what you’re selling. Once you have that clear in your head, it will be much easier to devise clever promotional campaigns.

11 Be in the competition
Graham Sykes
Co-founder of Teacake and designer at Cherry, London
Granted, you might put in a lot of effort and get nothing in return, but that’s the nature of competitions. But, as Teacake’s Graham Sykes points out, “You never know who might see the work and which drunk creative director you can talk into looking over your portfolio as he staggers around the after-show party!” Plus, there is a school of thought that believes there’s something to be had from the taking part. If that’s too much of a stretch, you can always rant about the unfairness on your blog.

12 Top advice: Get up close and personal
Jonathan Kenyon
Creative director, Vault49
“You can’t just expect others to notice your inherent brilliance.” Vault49’s Jonathan Kenyon makes a good point – no amount of social networking can replicate the power of human contact. “Meet people face to face wherever possible and explain what makes you different,” adds Kenyon. It’s impossible to convey your passion through the written world alone, so get yourself along to your favourite studios, press some flesh and put your face about.

13 Win hearts and minds
Daniel Ibbotson
Founding partner and designer, Graphical House
Always be prepared to stand up for what you believe in, but make sure you’re the kind of person people enjoy hanging out with. Don’t just pick fights for the sake of it. “If you are a pleasure to work with then your clients will enjoy the experience and they will recommend you,” says Daniel Ibbotson of Graphical House. It’s as simple as that. Recommendation is a great way to get work, and if you stick to your guns clients will also respect and trust you, too. As long as you’re right, that is.

14 Learn to submit
Adam Morris
London-based graphic designer
Publishers sometimes invite open submissions for their titles, so submitting work to these books and magazines is a great way of getting your work into people’s hands. This item then becomes a useful promotional tool in itself. And if, as Adam Morris notes, you’re the kind of restless creative mind who produces all sorts of self-initiated work, it’s not even going to demand a great deal of extra graft.

15 Go postal
Gethin Vaughan
Creative partner, Young
If you can’t get there yourself, why not send a little something to keep your work fresh in people’s minds? First, think about who you’re trying to reach and what they might enjoy receiving, as the expense of producing and sending an item will be wasted if it’s inappropriate or feels like junk mail. With that proviso, people love getting stuff in the post. Plus, adds Young’s Gethin Vaughan, “Sending out physical mailers is a good excuse to ring the person.” Maybe to set up that face-to-face…

16 Top advice: Put your name on your work
Graham Sykes
Co-founder of Teacake and designer at Cherry, London
Think about it: what’s one of the first things people look for once they’ve clocked a masterpiece? The signature. “Be discreet with it but try to do it whenever possible,” says Teacake’s Graham Sykes. “I have got many a new client by them having picked up a catalogue or poster with Teacake on it.” By tying your name and your work together, people will begin to get a better picture of what you do and, therefore, when they should call you for help.

17 Don’t be a stalker
Alex Ostrowski
Meeting people in the flesh is undeniably worthwhile, but sometimes you just have to accept that people are busy. Knowing when to back off is as important as being persistent. “It’s important not to take it personally,” observes Alex Ostrowski, referring to those occasions when contacts don’t get back to you. However, while you have to know when to back off, if you want to get into a place or arrange a meeting there’s nothing wrong with making sure your contact knows that. Face-toface communication cannot be beaten.

18 Make the news
Ben Davies
Managing director, The Neighbourhood
People rarely keep an eye on every website they’ve ever found interesting, so occasionally they need a prod to get them surfing. A regular e-newsletter will do that for you. People always check their emails, so if you actually are doing something interesting they’ll come around sharpish. However, The Neighbourhood’s Ben Davies has a word of caution: “Keep the content concise and interesting, and not just all about you but the wider context of your work and your studio.”

19 Collaborate
Jonathan Kenyon
Creative director, Vault49
“Work with the best,” says Jonathan Kenyon, “and benefit by mutual association.” Creative people spark when they’re brought together. The results can be amazing, particularly since first-contact collaboration often involves non-commercial pieces intended to explore some common theme. Not only will the work produced speak volumes for both parties, there’s no need to feel self-conscious about singing the praises of your fellow creative.

20 Top advice: Freelance on-site
Gavin Strange
Senior online designer, Aardman Animations
If you’re struggling to get yourself a placement, you may be surprised when Gavin Strange points out that “creative companies have a hard time finding creative people.” The upshot is that when they find someone who’s both talented and friendly, they’re likely to want to hold onto them. And, more importantly, to recommend them. So, take the opportunity to do freelance work from your employer’s studio, contracts allowing. Make friends and they’ll soon be pimping your CV for you.

21 Spark some controversy
Jonathan Kenyon
Creative director, Vault49
Jonathan Kenyon isn’t content with just getting you out there, he wants you to stir things up a bit: “Voice your opinion and seek public debate and critique of your ideas, not just your designs.” Of course, this is dependent on you having ideas in the first place. If you don’t, the best policy is to say nothing and let people read you as a deep thinker. If you do, try not to be too bombastic – you’ve been wrong before.

22 Initiate your own projects
Peter Jarvis
Creative partner, Young
Don’t just complain about being unable to do the type of work you want to be doing – do something about it. You don’t need permission. “This is an opportunity to broaden your skills and improve your portfolio,” says Peter Jarvis of Young. “Having only opened our doors for two months, we needed to build brand awareness so we set up The site now gets around 10,000 hits daily.”

23 Be a good host
Gavin Strange
Senior online designer, Aardman Animations
So you’ve got as far as the front door and realised there are no events happening. Well, why not put one on yourself? “Having the initiative to get involved in curating your own event speaks volumes about you and how organised and self-motivated you are,” says Gavin Strange. Meeting like-minded folk, talking shop, having fun – you don’t have to see it as networking; treat it as an end in itself and other people will likely get on board.

24 Top advice: Target your audience
Johanna Basford
It’s no good getting a database of random design firms and sending them all an email. Or even sending them all a personalised pen or notepad. People need to feel special, and that requires some research on your part. Johanna Basford tailors her approach to the individual or studio. “Look at what they’re working on and see where you can add value,” she says.

25 Top advice: Stay in touch
Johanna Lundberg
Graphic designer and illustrator
Even a fresh graduate will most likely have a long list of contacts; people they’ve studied with, friends from other courses, tutors, random people met along the way. Johanna Lundberg points out that, “sooner or later some of those people might run a successful design blog, work for an advertising company or get a great project on board that they need help with.” It might be you. Exchanging favours is what makes the world go round.

26 Data is your friend
Johanna Basford
Your online activities – or, more specifically, the visitors to your sites – can also provide you with valuable information. Add Google analytics to your pages and keep an eye on your stats, as these will give you a ready source of information on what people are enjoying and what leaves them cold. When the stats peak, make sure you follow that lead. “You can even set up Google alerts to let you know what’s going down well,” adds illustrator Johanna Basford.

27 Talk to (real) people
Graham Sykes
Co-founder of Teacake and designer at Cherry, London
Don’t just talk to designers. Graham Sykes is all in favour of this. “Talk to everyone and anyone,” he suggests. “Talk about what you are capable of doing and how you might be able to help them out.” As ever, tread the fine line between friendly persistence and actual stalking. Other designers are all very well but they are rarely the end consumer of your work, so don’t confine yourself to communicating with the relatively small world of design.

28 Don’t forget to work!
Daniel Ibbotson
Founding partner and designer, Graphical House
Daniel Ibbotson makes a fundamental point: “Nothing will promote you better than your work.” Try to make every project as good as it can be. Having a reputation for producing quality work will bring you the kind of attention and projects you want. This is not as easy as it sounds, of course, and means that even the projects you aren’t enthralled by take longer. In the long run, however, you are what you do.

29 Be enthusiastic
Gavin Strange
Senior online designer, Aardman Animations
“A really underestimated tool is the power of enthusiasm.” So says Gavin Strange. Being genuinely excited about a project will not only get you remembered by the client and fellow creatives, but also helps inspire everyone else involved to give it their all. If you really believe in something, let it show. That commitment will be contagious, very often acting as a kind of hypnotic suggestion. Don’t fake it or over-egg it, though.

30 Do something different
Graham Sykes
Co-founder of Teacake and designer at Cherry, London
Dream up some caper that isn’t on this list and put it into action with characteristic flair. The established lines of communication are all well and good, but originality is what really gets you noticed. While you need to execute your work well, original thinking is in short supply so, if you have the knack, get out there and flaunt it.

By Creative Bloq Staff

The Business of Illustration

Being a successful illustrator is not just about being a good artist. That may be the overarching focus of what you are after, but there are many factors involved that determine a steady, productive career.

We talk about those factors quite a bit here on Muddy, but below are my rock bottom items for flowing into the workplace and becoming a sought-after professional. They may seem simple, and some obvious.

Remember that what you think and say and how you act within this very small industry is a reflection of the business as a whole. In that regard, none of us are alone.

1. Don’t be a jerk.
As if we need more grief in the business. No matter who you are dealing with, whether they can give you work or not, you must not allow yourself to lay a trail of destruction behind you. It catches up.

2. Good handwriting.
We are in the communication business. A good, clean handwriting style is appealing. People melt when they see someone write with a good pen hand. You’ll look intelligent, aware, and capable of dealing with details. Most notably, the details of their assignment.

Notes become pieces of art that art directors tack to their wall. And they remember…

3. Learn to speak and write well.
Master the English language and have a good vocabulary. Don’t use street vernacular when interacting with potential clients, and especially don’t use it when writing email. Only when you’ve worked with a client for a while can you relax your speech.

And if you’re pissed off, do not–repeat, DO NOT–write that email you want to write, even if you are in the right. Better yet, write it and put it in Drafts. Then write the email you know you should.

Proof read. Proof read. Proof read.

4. Learn to articulate your approach.
Speak well, and express yourself clearly when you present your portfolio. To anyone. Like handwriting, or intelligent English, it bolsters you’re effectiveness. Clients will be drawn to you (pun intended) even if they’re not ready for you yet. The next time you call, they’ll be willing to spend time with you.

The old adage that artists are inarticulate about their work is exactly that: old. Don’t be that loser. It is not impressive to any client that you are too ignorant to explain your work. “Gosh, I don’t know…it just comes out. Guess I’m just amazing.”

Don’t let “umm” be your go-to verb.

5. Develop a thick skin.
No matter what anyone says about your portfolio, good or bad, it is opportunity staring you fat, flat, in your face. They might be right, but you must let it roll off your back. Thank them for a compliment and appreciate their cold candor if not.

Either way, you gain insight.

6. Study what’s being bought.
Go to a bookstore, gaming store, go online, watch movies, go to galleries, look at magazines and study what is being bought in the area of illustration that you want to work in. You must. Do not allow yourself to say, “Those are cool, but I want to do something different.” Not yet.

You have to get work first before you can change the world.

7. Have a strategy.
Look at five years out. Build a plan of where you want to have your work five years down the line. Step backwards from that point to apply incremental steps of what you can do to get there; what needs to be in your book. Pace it off. See if you can’t come all the way back to knowing what you can do today to head toward that goal.

8. Stay out of debt.
When you get paid for a big job and you feel on top of the world, do not go out and buy a car. Or a house. Save that money. It will feel so good just to see it sitting in your bank account.

Conventional freelance wisdom says you must build up a buffer to cover yourself for three months starting out. Then six months, then one year. This is your only chance to be able to survive this business without living paycheck to paycheck.

Be patient and build that bank nut. Then you can loosen up.

9. Advertise.
If you must spend that money, then put it back into your business. Use it on advertising. Again, we’re in the communication business. Never skimp on getting your images out there. Consider the costs, certainly, but promotion comes first.

Accolades come after.

10. Play the field.
Set your sites on The Industry, not just one part of it. Don’t be myopic. Think about where you can apply your pictures to work in many sectors of the field.

Separate areas of illustration don’t watch each other. Children’s book folks don’t usually watch what’s happening in advertising or even book cover work. Comic book people generally don’t pay attention to editorial clients.

You can work in multiple areas of the field at one time. This will broaden your abilities and your survival rate.

By Gregory Manchess

How Much Does Illustration Cost?

A client guide to illustrator’s fees… So, you’d like to commission some illustration for your business or organization, but don’t have a clue how much it’s likely to cost? If you’ve never commissioned an illustrator before, it’s not surprising you have absolutely no idea how much they’re going to charge… They just pluck a figure out of thin air, right?

No. But, I’m afraid to say there’s no quick answer. Every illustration job is different – there are a number of key factors that a professional illustrator will want to know about in order to calculate their fee for your specific project.

Whatever the project, there are some important considerations that should always be taken into account when calculating a fee…

  1. Usage – What will the illustrations be used for?
  2. Licensing – This relates to specific media, the territory (UK only or elsewhere in the world?) and how long will the illustrations be used for
  3. The size of the client – The costs for a small business or start-up would be justifiably different than those for a global enterprise
  4. The complexity of the illustration – The time the work is likely to take
  5. The quality and experience of the illustrator

Additional to these, an illustrator will likely suggest and take into account the process required for a particular project. For example…

  1. Initial sketch stage, how many options will be presented to the client?
  2. Does there need to be any kind of sample style or different colour options shown?
  3. How many rounds of amends, if required, will be allowed for within the process?
  4. Delivery of the final artwork in specified formats – are there lots of different versions?

If this all sounds rather complex, please don’t be put off.

I can assure you that it’s in your best interests to have a project priced with your particular needs in mind, rather than a blindly quoted, blanket fee, which may allow for usage that you won’t require. It is mutually beneficial for the client and the illustrator that when agreeing a fee, a specific licensing agreement is in place – this way everyone knows where they stand and how the illustrations may be used.

I have recently created a set of questions I like to send out to new clients, before quoting on their project. I have found this is a useful way of gathering all the information I need, but it can also help crystallize the client’s thoughts in terms of what they actually want in illustration terms, and as such form the basis of a brief.

The ‘Illustration Brief – Client Questions’ as a handy PDF – DOWNLOAD HERE

Do feel free to use this document whilst considering your own potential illustration project… I hope it helps you on your way to briefing some illustration for your business.


Published on October 30, 2015
By Carys Tait

Copyright and Moral Rights

Copyright is an area which is governed by the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988. When you create a collage, painting, drawing, diagram, map, chart, plan, engraving, etching, lithograph, woodcut or similar work, you have created an artistic work and that is protected by copyright, provided that your illustrations fall into any one of these categories.

You, as creator of that illustration, own the copyright which subsists in it. There is on exception to this general rule. If you are employed to create that illustration, the employer will, own the copyright in it. There are no registration requirements. There is no requirement to use the sign © but it will help the public to realise that your illustration is protected by copyright.

If you own copyright, you are the only person who has the right to make copies of your illustrations. If someone else makes a copy without your permission, they are infringing your copyright.

You can give permission to individuals or companies to reproduce your illustration which is known commonly in the illustration trade as giving a licence. Your licence should be in writing and should set out the use that can be made of your illustration and any restriction you wish to place on the use. You can grant licences for different uses.

You can effectively sell your copyright which means that you have no further right of reproduction in your work. This is know as an assignment but will only be effective if you put it in writing.

If your illustration is reproduced without your permission, you are entitled to damages, perhaps an injunction to stop the infringement and on occasion the infringing copies delivered to you.

Your copyright in your illustration is an economic right. It is different from ownership of the illustration itself. You may still grant a licence or give an assignment of copyright in your illustration whilst owning the original piece. Likewise, you may sell the original illustration without giving permission for it to be reproduced.

Moral Rights

There are rights in addition to your economic right of copyright and your right of owning your illustration.

You have a right to be identified as author of your illustration. This right must be asserted in writing and should be included on any copyright, assignment or licence to reproduce or other written contract.

You have a right to object to derogatory treatment of your illustration. This means you have a right to object if your illustration has been adapted, altered, added to or deleted from. You may also be able to rely on this right if you are unhappy about the colour reproduction of your illustration or if perhaps it has been cropped in a way which distorts it.

You have a right not to be falsely attributed to another person’s art.