The Art Expo was a huge learning experience for me. Unfortunately, I didn't sell anything, probably in part to not being able to actually attend due to having a bout of what I can only assume was food poisoning. From what I could see of the rest of the artists however, my art is just a bit too bold and macabre for the local market. But less about the negatives and more about what I learned from it!
1. Even if it says that the gallery will take care of "everything," bring your own necessities as if they will not, or directly ask what they'll be including and what you need to bring. Perhaps I assumed "everything" really meant everything because I had never done a show like this, but perhaps it was just this show. My only forms of comparison are silent auctions at conventions where they do in fact include everything: you just set up in your assigned spot using their provided materials, which includes the price tags/auction forms. For this art expo, I learned that I needed to bring my own price tags. Since I didn't have anything prepared, I ended up having to write my prices on my business cards. I'm guessing that the less professional appearance of my price tags hurt my potential to sell. I'm also glad I learned what sort of questions to ask about what I should bring, because I would have never thought to ask about price tags even if I had asked what to bring! From now on, I will be asking if I need my own hooks or price tags, and how should my art be prepared for hanging for the show. While the show did have hooks and didn't have an issue with the way my art was prepared, I feel like these are things that would be good to ask about for other shows.
2. If there is a set up time, go early. The expo gave us all a time frame to bring in your art. Unlike the auctions I've done where we had to set up ourselves, the expo said that they would set up for us. However, because I brought in my art towards the end of the first set up time, I feel like I was given a worse spot because the better ones had already been taken. It almost seemed like it shouldn't have been a spot at all! I'm betting that if I arrived earlier, I would have been able to select my spot and potentially set up my art in a way that would be more visually appealing to potential customers. However, this is all conjecture. It is possible that I was assigned that spot due to it being my first show with the expo, and more senior artists got assigned the "better" spots just for being a part of the expo for longer. Either way, I think arriving earlier would have helped a lot, if only to network with the other artists more.
3. Make sure you can actually go to the show. I know getting sick wasn't anything I could change, but the show probably would have gone better for me if I had been able to attend and mingle with potential customers. While the expo handled all of the selling, including any purchases, I still should have been there to market my art. Even if I still didn't sell, I would have learned a lot more about selling at these kinds of events!
4. Learn about what sells locally. The art that I chose to put into the expo all featured animal skulls and flowers, which in hindsight I feel was a bit too macabre. I also use rather bold colors, which didn't do anything to help soften the fact that the subject of every painting was a dead animal. Perhaps choosing softer colors and having some art that doesn't feature skulls would make for more marketable art. I was hoping to sell to the hunting crowd, but I'm not sure this event even brought in the hunting community, or even that my style would be marketable to hunters anyway! Seeing what kind of people attended the event would have helped me better determine what kind of art I should try to sell at the expo next year.
5. Don't let setbacks turn you away from future events. Overall, I thought the event was a fantastic learning experience. The person who put it on was wonderfully helpful and understanding, so I certainly don't want my issues to come across as complaints about the event. Everyone in this town who I talk to about my art is so incredibly supportive, so I am excited to learn from the few negative aspects of my first show and make my next one even better! I know I can normally get pretty embarrassed by setbacks like these, but I cannot let them bother me if I am to live my dreams. Using these as learning experiences will help me grow as an artist!
This was really the start of using backgrounds; even if they are mostly solid black! I started with the sphere behind the dragon, and although I failed at maintaining perfect lines, I still liked the concept. Unfortunately there is no undo button with traditional media! After the dragon, I got on a minor horror kick with the terrifying Vashta Nerada from Doctor Who and a zombie horse! I'm just loving using pointillism to create spooky textures.
I'm starting to get into the swing of doing these, finally! I've grown much more confident with the styles I have been using, and even trying out new techniques that I hope to carry over into my larger works. One of the other big changes that I made was using a better camera to take photos of my doodles. I'll scan them all in at the end of the month, but for now they are fodder for my teenage-like obsession with the "Instragram filter"!
As always, click on the images to see them larger!
It's October already?! I for one am excited! I love October, not just for all the pretty spooky decor and finally decent weather, but also because it's Inktober month! I've been dying to do it every year, but much like the Witchsona Week, I always seem to miss it. Not this year though! This year I remembered right before the start of October! I'll update here with each week's Inktober doodles, but you can check them out as they happen on Twitter.
"But Melde, what's Inktober?", you might be asking. It's rather simple, actually. It's a drawing challenge that pushes artists to complete one ink drawing a day for the entirety of October. It can be as simple or as detailed as you want, as long as it's in ink! You can find more info, and an optional list of daily prompts on the creator's website.
For the next few installments of Tips and Tricks, I’m going to walk you through making a traditional media badge. This tutorial series will also go in depth into the world of illustrating with traditional media, especially the use of Copic markers. Each blog post will cover a different section of making a badge, so you can easily go back and re-read an individual part later! While this series is geared specifically towards badges, the vast majority of the tips are applicable for any marker-based traditional illustration.
Today's blog will cover the basics of what a badge is, all the materials you will need to make one, and then just the sketch portion!
What Is a Badge?
For this tutorial series, you will need:
Step 1: Sketching Tools
Like most illustrations, you are going to start with a sketch. I personally like work on some generic cardstock when I do badges, but most thick papers will do. Smooth bristol paper is an even better choice for ink and marker work because it is designed to hold up to the wetness of markers as well as provide a nice, smooth surface for ink-work. It also holds up much better to heavy erasing than anything else. Cardstock is like the cheaper cousin to bristol paper: it’s decently smooth and holds up better than computer paper, but it will tear up much faster if you aren’t careful, especially when erasing. However, I still feel the cost of bristol paper outweighs the benefits when it comes to small art pieces such as badges. If you are going to be erasing your sketch a bunch, I suggest biting the bullet and getting the more expensive bristol. Anything larger than a badge will definitely benefit from using bristol as well! I have also used index cards, both regular sized and large, for badges, but they are even worse than cardstock, so I don’t recommend them unless you’re in a bind!
TIP: There are many, many, many different kinds of paper on the market. Try out a bunch until you find one you like! However, for badges, make sure anything you use has a smooth texture! When you go to laminate, any bumps won't seal properly and you will get these weird air pockets that look super ugly. Things like vellum brisol paper and watercolor paper are terrible for laminated badges!
Step 2: Expressions and your Character
Before you can even begin sketching, you should have an idea of what expression you’ll be doing. Because badges are supposed to showcase the character, and are generally only headshots, the expression you choose becomes paramount. I like to push most badge expressions to their extreme, but doing angry or goofy faces are my favorite. If you get stumped on what expression to choose, a simple smile is always a good fallback. While smiles do get old after a while, I can’t tell you how many clients have specifically asked for “just a smile”! Some other expressions to consider: shy, smirking, open-mouthed smile, smug (how many S expressions are there?!)
Step 3: Can I Sketch Yet?
Almost! Take a brief moment to decide how large you are going to want your final badge to be. Your drawing should probably be about an inch smaller than that size. It doesn’t really matter what size you decide on because it’s your badge, but keep in mind that these are meant to be worn. Now, I have seen jumbo badges that are a full sheet of paper, and tiny badges that are the size of a business card or smaller, but I like mine to be about the size of my hand, or a large index card. Make sure you leave enough room around your drawing to be able to put in the name though! Keep in mind that you will be cutting out your drawing as well, so make sure the character doesn’t run off the edge of the paper. It’s always good to have at least a half of a centimeter leeway between the sketch and the edge!
TIP: If you struggle with keeping your art to a reasonable size, try cutting down your paper to whatever size you want! If I’m going to a convention where I know I’ll be busy with custom badges, I’ll pre-cut my cardstock into fourths to make sure I don’t accidentally make my badges all sorts of random sizes!
Once you have decided on your expression, get to sketching your character! If you’re doing a bust, don’t worry too much over how to finish off the area beneath the shoulders because that’s where the name is going to go. The only thing you should worry about is putting the character down onto the paper.
TIP: Draw LIGHTLY. You are going to be erasing this sketch eventually, so make sure you draw as light as possible. Drawing too heavily can leave “ghost” lines after you erase, or even intentions! Unfortunately, there is no simple fix for drawing too heavily; you can only fix it by practicing!
Step 3: Names and Lettering!
Much like with the expression, how you decided to write the character’s name will affect the entire feel of the badge. For bust badges, I like to put names on either a banner of some sort, or make the letters big enough to touch each other because I use the name as an easy way to finish off the awkward edge made by the end of the shoulders/chest. If you’re doing just a headshot or a full body badge, try making the location and style of the name relate to the image (especially for full bodies!).
Another thing to consider is the “font” of the letters. While you can always just write the name in your regular handwriting, designing something unique can really pull together the entire piece. Try tying your choice of lettering into the character’s expression or interests. For example, an aggressive character will be better suited for an aggressive-looking, scratchy font than a bubbly, vintage font.
That's all for today! Next week I will be going over inking your sketch, taking you one leap forward in completing your badge!