Saturday, November 26, 2011

No Rest for the Weary

When you’re a freelance artist, you don’t really get to take a vacation.  There is no job security, next month’s paychecks may pale in comparison to this month’s, and you’re always hustling to find your next job.  I’m still getting my feet wet, so I’ve tried a variety of self promotional endeavors- attending conventions of all sorts, going to creator meetups, writing tutorials, doing reviews, and even offering free commissions to more popular blogs in hopes that I’d generate some lasting readers.  This effort has paid off in varying degrees, but I’m far from a place where I can take six weeks off without updating without serious consequences.
By the time you’re reading this entry, I’ll be in Japan.  I have no idea how often I’ll be posting fresh content while I’m in here, so I’ve been working on a few things to keep my blog updating.  I’ve lined up some guest posts, generated some content ahead of time, and am generally working double time to keep the posts coming.  There is no guarantee that I’ll be able to update much after I return from Japan, since I’ll be in Luling, Louisiana, visiting ‘home’, and the internet there is awful at best.  This means I’ve got to come up with six weeks of interesting content, updating at least twice a week.  That’s a tall order to fill in what amounts to one week’s time.

I can’t promise that there will be a lot of art, or a lot of pictures.  I’ll be drawing a lot while I’m gone, but there will be limited opportunity to share it.  There will probably be a massive update when I return, but six weeks is a lot to ask of possibly fickle readers.  I’d like to have one art dump at least (it’ll be pre-trip art, unfortunately), maybe review, and hopefully a tutorial occur while I’m gone.  I intend to fill a lot of the dead space with guest posts from a variety of people I know, including a non-artist who's working on a webservice I think a lot of you would be interested in.

The point is, even when I’m on ‘winter break’, it isn’t a vacation.  The trip to Tokyo is a class- Tokyo Trip Seminar, and I will be producing work.  My time in Luling will also be occupied, finishing the requirements for the Tokyo Trip credit (an 8 page comic inspired by our trip), celebrating Christmas (mostly attending church with the family, as it’s Advent, the season of Mass), and drawing.  Unlike most jobs, mine isn’t a 9 to 5, my work isn’t done when I put down the pencil, and just because my phone is at home doesn’t mean I’m not on call.  It’s my responsibility to ensure my success, and the best way I can do this is with constant effort.  For the time being, this blog is how I stay in contact with potential readers and fans, and how I generate future work, and I treat it like a paying job.  While one is an amateur artist, you have to take your self promotion seriously, and stay on the ball with it.

Possible venues of self promotion include:

Facebook: A great way to keep your close friends and family updated on your art.  A lot of non-techy savvy people use FB, so you'll be able to reach people who might not use Twitter or Tumblr.
Twitter:  Great for posting daily doodles, updating with WIPS, and communicating with other artists.  When you post new art, make sure you include a link on your Twitter.
Tumblr So not my cup of tea, but I've seen it work wonders for other artists.  I don't like the fact that it discourages proper credit of original artists, but as long as you've got the original on your blog/portfolio, it should be fairly easy for interested fans to trace your work using a service like TinEye.  That's expecting a lot out of a casual fan though.  Has several social networking features that may or may not be useful , like the ability for users to anonymously ask questions.
Deviantart:  A lot of people get work via their DA galleries, so just because it hasnt' really worked for me doesn't mean I should knock it.  I really ought to utilize mine more, since it's a free service, but it takes up time I'd rather dedicate to updating my blog.
An Art/Sketch Blog:  It's a lot of work, but it's really started to pay off since I've started to update with more than just sketches.  In the future, I'd like to post more finished pieces, and I need to organize it when I have time.
Your Portfolio Website:  I have a website, but I find the UI difficult to navigate and the site itself slow to respond, so an artdump that would take ten minutes tops to update on my blog would take an hour twenty minutes on my website.  A lot of artists get a lot of business from their portfolios though, think of it as a business card for the web.

I’m currently not living up to my self promotional potential- I don’t really bother with Deviantart much, my portfolio website is in shambles, and I don’t even have a Tumblr.  I decided to focus my energy on my blog and my Twitter, and that’s why it’s even more important that I update regularly.  I don’t have a set update schedule with set update features, and in cases like this (my six week departure), its for the best, as I can easily integrate guest posts.  I’m excited at the thought of providing these amazing artists an opportunity to geek out about the tools of their trades to a possibly fresh audience, and I’m excited to expose you guys to new tools and ideas.  If you particularly like anything you see, feel free to ask them questions on their blogs