View Full Version : I am an artist. (Random artistic thoughts.)

March 4th, 2016, 10:36 AM
I am an artist. This statement can have a lot of connotations. What do you normally think about when you picture someone as an artist? Even I picture an "artist" as a scruffy pretentious hipster, despite having worked with many animators, illustrators, etc. who are NOT the stereotypical "artist." most of them, in fact.

One can make a living as an artist. I feel I have had a successful career as an artist, but not in the normal way one pictures as an "artist." Where am I going with this? Well, I don't know really. I'm just putting some thoughts out here. I'm running the risk of boasting about my own abilities.

It's just something I've been thinking a lot about in the last couple of days. Here I am, getting a degree in art, already having a successful career as an artist and animator. It seems silly in a way. I've been thinking about it because there was an art auction at school this week. Two of the bowls I made sold for a combined total of ~$550. In the art world, that's not really much though. A painting (not mine) in the auction sold for $1200. It was done by an artist that has since passed on. That's the way it goes in art. Usually, art is not valuable until the artist that created it is dead.

I could possibly make a living just making stuff on the lathe. I could also make a living by going back into animation. I could pursue more painting. Maybe I'm just trying to figure out what I'm going to do after I graduate. I originally started the degree in the hope that I could be an art or animation prof. Now, I'm not sure it could happen, at least not at USC for reasons I won't go into here. Let's just say that if I had a degree before Lori and I moved here, I would probably be an art prof right now, not a student. Frustrating.

"Artist" is a very broad term. Many of my former animation co-workers are artists, not just animators. They excel at other artistic pursuits, like sculpture, illustration, design, etc. even acting. I think it comes down to being an artistic and/or creative person. You either have it or you don't. The best artists I know do well at all their artistic interests, not just the job they happen to be doing at the time. They are compelled by some unseen force to draw/paint/sculpt/act all the time. I don't have that drive. Maybe I would be a better artist if I did.

A former co-worker of mine sold his oil paintings for thousands of dollars. They were not anything special, in my opinion, but he had a shtick that appealed to a certain group of affluent people. It's important to find the right market for your work.

I've done a lot of things in my artistic career: drawing, painting, illustration, design, animation, photography, even film-making. I think my wife will tell you that I am an actor as well. I'm kind of a goofy guy that improvises stuff on the fly to get some lolz. You have to be an actor to be a good animator, in my opinion.

I have the unique opportunity to choose what I would like to pursue, as a former prof said to me. My wife has been very good to me and supported me for several years. She bankrolled my university education. I felt like a ridiculous financial burden on the household income. Being a financial burden on the household takes a toll on a dude's manhood. Having a go at being a fine artist would be tough. I could probably get freelance animation work almost immediately because of the sheer number of people I know in the biz. I enjoy animating. I also enjoy painting though. I took a graphic design course and my prof encouraged me to switch my major to graphic design, which was a nice compliment. I told her that's not my thing though. I had a painting prof tell me my work was "very impressive." I get countless complements on the woodworking I've been doing in the last 8 months. I even have profs asking me for lathe workshops. Ironic considering I'm not allowed to be a prof simply because I don't have a degree. A photography prof encouraged me to pursue photography. I don't think that's my thing either. I guess I have lots of paths to go down and I'm standing at the crossroads, wondering, "Where do I go from here?"

There's not really a point to my rambling. It's just stuff I've been thinking about. I'm kind of stuck following Lori around for her career. Mine is more mobile in that respect. Unfortunately, there is little to no animation work in Columbia, that I know of. There is a happening art scene, however. Again, that would be a tough go. I think I would have to rent a studio space in the arts district to make a name for myself in the scene--another financial burden.

Do my trusted internet friends have any thoughts they would care to share on the subject? I think I would enjoy some dialogue. :)

March 4th, 2016, 10:45 AM
Various thoughts:
Simple: Put your woodwork on a more formal site for selling handcrafted goods, like Etsy, if it's not already there.
Slightly Odd: How long does it take you to do your excellent personalized paintings, what I will broadly call vehicle caricatures? Would you be capable of setting up a booth at a car show, selling your woodwork, and also offering to paint vehicle caricatures to attendees upon request at the show? It could be good business and great exposure. Perhaps even coordinate with organizers to offer up a free painting as a prize to concourse winners, who will likely choose to display that prize at future events since a) it will be a unique part of their display and b) it will document their award
Perhaps out of your comfort zone: a YouTube channel with Bob Ross style painting of complex car related scenes.

While none of these may result in financial windfalls of any sort, it would allow you to have finished goods that are requested and appreciated by their recipients, a definite source of self-assurance.

March 4th, 2016, 11:51 AM
Random thoughts...

I like the Slightly Odd ideas above, assuming you don't mind being like those guys with a stool and an easel at the beach, drawing caricatures of people on vacation. If you forego the stationary booth with your other wares, you could always stroll along at car shows with a folding stool and portable easel, with samples of your work on one side of the easel and offer your work right there on the spot, since many car owners sit near their cars at shows and aren't wandering around like the slack jawed yokels who drove there in something beige and boring.

Of course, this isn't a Big Picture Idea (Picture! Get it? Aw, nevermind :p), and quite possibly insulting to a Professional Artiste who has stunning work at his website, but I'm just sittin' on the proverbial barstool over here and jawin' at ya some. I don't know if sitting with a pad on an easel and some Sharpie markers next to food trucks, the inflatable bounce house, and downwind from the porta-potties at a weekend festival would appeal to every artist, but some must make decent weekend cash doing that.

Why is character spelled with an h, but not caricatures? I demand answers!

My daughter exhibits amazing (to me) artistic ability. She is terrible in math, but she can draw, like her Dad, and his Dad...on an amateur level. My son, on the other hand, can do relatively complex mathematics in his head, but his handwriting is atrocious and he cannot color within the lines. Some people have it and some don't, I think. I should sit down with her and draw more than we do, which is almost never. There's always something that seems more urgent at the time. I think I'll make some time for that this weekend, even if it's just with pencils and lined notebook paper.

I was always one for technical illustrations and drafting. I go for shapes and perspective and abstract things, but ones with sharp edges. I wanted to be a draftsman in high school and took Technical Drafting I and II, and planned to take III my senior year, but it was cancelled due to lack of interest, and probably because computers were putting draftsmen with T-squares, triangles, and compasses out of business even in the mid 1980s. And I realize drafting isn't "art", but I liked it, and still try to write that way sometimes - you know, the all caps printing with no vertical line for the E and other stylized ways of telling people that, like George Costanza, I could have been an architect. :lol:

I could probably get freelance animation work almost immediately because of the sheer number of people I know in the biz. I enjoy animating.

Well, there's always that to pay the bills, and doing what you love on the side. I imagine being an animator is a bit of a sweat-shop kind of job, but I bet it pays a lot better than the average "cubicle job". Maybe not, but that's my guess, since not just everyone can walk in off the street and learn to do it.

March 5th, 2016, 04:22 AM
When I lived in Hamilton, there was a weekly car show in the summer that I would go to. I took a lawn chair, would sketch cars there and got lots of compliments on my art. I was offering sketches for a mere $20. Only once did someone pay for one. Clearly, that was not the right market. I may do better at concours, but there are none around here that I know of. A guy told me once that I wasn't charging enough, but he didn't buy a sketch either.

I never went out of my way to do any marketing for my fine art. Doing caricatures of people is not my thing. There are others that are much better at it than I. I have already considered doing wood-related videos. Alas, my time doing wood stuff is winding down and will be pretty much non-existent once I finish school. I will no longer have access to the shop and tools.

March 10th, 2016, 08:55 AM
Cam, I have an idea for you that I present in all seriousness: writing and illustrating books for children. Sure, Dr. Seuss has many imitators, but as someone who has been reading bedtime stories for many years now, I'm often struck by two things while reading kids' books: the artwork is usually excellent, and the text is often quite minimal. In some cases, the stories are so simple that it seems anyone could write them.

I read a book last night called "Ninja Red Riding Hood" and while doing so, I noticed the particularly awesome artwork and thought, "I bet Cam could do this", and that's what led to this post. While googling just now to show an example of the artwork in this book, I found, of all things, a video trailer for it. It shows none of the text (which is written wonderfully in limerick format) but shows some of the artwork, which reminded me of animation, since there is so much motion implied by the still pictures in this book.


March 10th, 2016, 10:30 AM
Thanks for the suggestion. I am not interested in doing that at this time. I have a former co-worker and friend who excels at it. He also works at Dreamworks. Dude is a workaholic.

May 7th, 2016, 10:14 AM
I had a friend of an old school chum ask me if I could do an animated music video for his band. I told him the estimated cost. He told me his paltry budget. I was forced to tell him, "That's not even close." He tried to send me a track to stimulate ideas. I told him that I would not even start without some money up front. He tried to push it anyway, so I was forced to decline. :|

May 8th, 2016, 03:06 AM
Gotta stand firm man.

May 8th, 2016, 07:57 AM
Yep, because as soon as you give one customer a break, there will be a thousand more at your door, and the rate you charge just went from $LARGE to $TINY, forever more.

A probably irrelevant re-told tale (and equally inaccurate quote written from memory) I remember reading in one of Jesse Ventura's books (yeah, I know) in which he recounted business advice about being an actor that he said he got from Arnold Schwarzenegger: "Never read a script until the money is right".

June 3rd, 2016, 07:59 AM
I got some freelance animation work. It's fun, but frustrating learning the software all over again. I learned this animation software about five years ago for two productions, but it was far enough in the past to almost completely forget how to use it. The learning curve is steep and frustrating.

June 3rd, 2016, 12:43 PM
Are you working on the same version you were before?

It happened to me with propellerhead's reason, i am not a musician, and when they made the switch to a more robust interface intended for more complicated sequencing I stopped using it. Eventually i went back to an older version where i felt comfortable.

June 3rd, 2016, 02:08 PM
It is a new version, but the differences are not significant enough to be the problem. I simply forgot how to use it effectively.

It doesn't help that the character build for the main character has 1600 elements! Seriously, WTF? That is waaaaay more complex than is necessary. A couple of hundred elements is too much, in my opinion. :twitch:

June 7th, 2016, 04:31 PM
Creativity is like breathing....


October 31st, 2016, 06:57 AM
My daughter wants to get a drawing pad/tablet for drawing on her computer. Does anyone have any suggestions on easy-to-learn, beginner-level programs I can get her, to help her learn how to draw on a device?

This (https://smile.amazon.com/Anime-Studio-Debut-10-Download/dp/B00IUSWBBU/ref=sr_1_1_twi_sof_1?s=software&ie=UTF8&qid=1477922634&sr=1-1) is what I could find on Amazon...

Or maybe I should start her off with some free software (http://www.enkivillage.com/free-drawing-software.html), to find out what she likes first...

Are these disc stylus (https://smile.amazon.com/dp/B01E0LKHFC/ref=gl_it_dp_o_pC_nS_ttl?_encoding=UTF8&colid=37SESEWVZQT4V&coliid=I1MOCWJQAQISP2&psc=1)'s any good? It seems odd to try drawing with a disc instead of just the tip. ;) But, it sounds like a lot of people like them, from the reviews.

October 31st, 2016, 07:36 AM
I use free software when I can. GIMP is the best free Photoshop-like software out there. I use it quite a bit. The other free suggestions look interesting too. I have tried Inkscape (Illustrator-like), and it's fine, but I use an old version of Flash for vector-based drawing. If you buy a Wacom tablet, I'm pretty sure they come with a stylus. I think the aftermarket styluses are for drawing on mobile devices.

October 31st, 2016, 07:43 AM
Thanks! :) Free is always preferable. ;)

Wacom is the go-to brand for graphic tablets, I take it?

October 31st, 2016, 08:41 AM
Yes. There are more economical options out there though. In my biz, Wacom is the industry standard.

October 31st, 2016, 09:00 AM
Thanks! :) Free is always preferable. ;)

Wacom is the go-to brand for graphic tablets, I take it?

Bill, we have a small Wacom tablet that I could send you,if you're interested.

October 31st, 2016, 09:16 AM
Do you still have the box? It's for a Xmas present. Is it cheaper than this one (https://smile.amazon.com/Wacom-CTL490DB-Digital-Drawing-Graphics/dp/B010LHRFWW?ie=UTF8&colid=37SESEWVZQT4V&coliid=I13I4U1NU2GTP0&psc=1&ref_=gl_it_dp_o_pC_nS_ttl)?

October 31st, 2016, 09:23 AM
We don't have the box--it was a hand-me-down from my Dad.

Free is cheaper than $68, yes. ;)

October 31st, 2016, 09:42 AM
PM'd :)

September 25th, 2020, 02:11 PM
Being a full-time studio artist can be really great. Be your own boss. No deadlines to hit. No working for the man. Make your own hours. Be creative in new and exciting ways. Freedom to explore new ideas.

It can also really suck. COVID-19 has really put a damper on my progress. Everything has been cancelled this year. Business has really slowed because of it. At the end of last year, I was doing really well and had awesome momentum. This year has just really sucked. I had a few commission and sales, but certainly not enough to make a living at it. My Instagram following exploded in 2019, but came to a screeching halt in 2020. I can't help but feel they are intentionally stymieing me. Really frustrating.

Not really a point to this. I am just ranting. I am proud of the work I am doing and I still get lots of love for the things I make. Getting fans to open their wallets is the toughest part. I understand that people have other priorities and responsibilities. I am the same. I would love to buy things from artists I follow, but I am pretty much broke. I am lucky to have a wonderful wife that has a good job and supports us.

I recently reached out to a fellow woodturner who has been very successful on YouTube and makes similar videos. I asked him his strategy and the only thing he offered was that he got lucky. I had several people wonder how I do not have more subscribers. I have 7,500 subscribers, but less than 10% of those subs regularly watch my videos. I have a whole lot of disengaged followers.

That's it for now, I guess.

September 25th, 2020, 03:29 PM
I know you're venting dude but if I may give my unsolicited opinion... Here it goes.

I think the thing with artisan youtube channels is to give the impression that anyone can do it. For example, I subscribe to Matthias Wandel's and never in a million year could I pull off his simplest of builds, but watching it, as he's doing it, it makes you want to follow along thinking: "you know, that doesn't look too hard, I mean, if I had his setup..." So that's why I end up watching till the end.

One other thing is that I think it's normal for less than 10% of your audience to regularly tune in. People's interests drift off constantly, more so in these conditions. The only thing that would help is to have a larger pool of subscribers.

Rare White Ape
September 25th, 2020, 04:09 PM
Have you thought of live streaming your creation process on Twitch?

I mean, if you're making it anyway you might as well point a camera at yourself in the workshop for a few hours and talk about it while you do it.

September 25th, 2020, 06:19 PM
I have considered Twitch, but making the stuff I make live is normally incredibly boring. I would not want to watch me sand wood for hours.

September 29th, 2020, 09:08 AM
I don't know the market at all, is there a possibility that a Patreon could work for you? Get 1% of your followers to chip in $5/month to get behind the scenes content, early access to content, etc. Or is there another way to monetize your followers at a lower price point than buying a full piece?

September 29th, 2020, 10:14 AM
I have considered Patreon or similar. YouTube has channel memberships. Considering I have plenty of pieces available at less than $50, I do not believe price is the issue.

Last month, during a live stream, someone said that I need a donate button. You can set one up in the preferences. I set one up for a live stream this month. No one donated. *shrug*

September 29th, 2020, 10:48 AM
Yeah, I can see how that would reduce the thought of doing a membership program.

I remember you said you got a lot of attention around the spatula making, did you notice any patterns in the comments or shares regarding them? Is there something in there you could tap into?

This is me, a data person, trying to understand an art situation, and I'm flailing :D

September 29th, 2020, 02:02 PM
It seems I could sell skateboard spatulas, cutting boards, coasters, tables, etc. all day long. There are many people that make a living doing that. That is not what I want to do.

September 29th, 2020, 02:41 PM
Do you have a greater goal or bigger project, or do you just enjoy your actions and activities as they are and just want them to monetize more efficiently?

That's kind of the place I'm in from a data standpoint: I'm not much interested in going deeper into crazy huge database management or programming, which is where the money is, but also just, to my eyes, seems like staring at numbers and pulling levers to try and trick people out of more money.

September 29th, 2020, 02:44 PM
I think you are overthinking it. I just want to sell the art I enjoy making.

September 29th, 2020, 02:49 PM
So the latter :) That's why I asked.

October 6th, 2020, 05:37 AM
I think you are overthinking it.

Cam, this is Keith. Keith, Cam. *gestures*