I've posted about my admiration for Lois van Baarle's work before. She has been freelancing since her graduation in 2009, so I decided to go back and see what she had to say about this method of working.
2.3.3 Promoting myself online
I've been very active with posting my artwork on the internet ever since I started drawing digitally in 2003. Besides drawing on oekaki boards, I posted all my work to Deviantart and maintained a personal website. Over the years, I kept doing these things as well as branching out to facebook, twitter, and numerous other websites. Much of my online following is the result of actively promoting my work online for over 10 years now. For those seeking advice on how to promote oneself on the internet, I recommend staying active and keeping people up to date on your progress. Keep a blog next to a gallery site and stay in touch with people who start following your work, preferably through popular websites such as facebook and twitter as well as a personal website.
3.1.1 Current work
I've been working as a freelance animator/illustrator in the Netherlands ever since I graduated in August 2009. I’m also working on producing two animated shorts which I am financing myself (for more info visit theTrichrome website).
3.1.2 Future plans
I have the long term ambition of being able to live purely off of my own artistic ventures, but for the time being I am really enjoying the commercial work I am doing and the learning experiences it offers! Next to these freelance projects, I want to release an artbook and finish my personal animation project, which is forever at the end of my to-do list but I am very determined to finish them nonetheless.
3.1.3 Making a living off of art
I often get asked whether it is possible to make a living off of art, usually from people who are about to choose that direction in life and are worried about their future. Your ability to live off of your art depends enormously on what you do, where you live, and what your options are. I am able to live off of my art because of the exposure my work gets on the internet, the possiblity of being able to work from home, the fact that it's relatively easy to register oneself as a freelancer in Holland, and my ability to do work in both the animation and illustration field.
3.1.4 Finding work
People sometimes ask me for tips on finding work, building a portfolio, etc. It’s important to keep in mind that the commercial art industry is different from country to country and the workings of the industry in your location might be completely different from how it works in the Netherlands, where I work. If you're looking for specific advice on what your portfolio should look like or how to approach clients, it is wiser to seek this advice from people who work in the specific location and industry that you want to work in. As for my personal situation, I've found that online exposure has been the key to my career so far. Because I promote my artwork online, it is seen by potential clients who contact me personally. In this way, I have been able to build my client base and work on a variety of interesting freelance projects.
3.1.5 Commission tips
Commissions are paid requests, usually non-commercial in nature (i.e they are intended for personal use by the client). Commissions are commonly offered on art community sites like Deviantart. I've frequenlty been asked for tips on how to price them by people who want to start offering commissions. Personally, I started out offering very cheap commissions and then gradually raised the price as the demand for my artwork grew. But looking back as a professional freelance artist, I have to say that most of the commission prices I see on Deviantart are absurdly cheap, and far below industry standard – including the ones I used to offer before I became aware of how art is priced in the professional world. However, due to the wide availability of cheap commissions on the web, many people have come to expect and even demand these very low prices. If you decide to offer commissions, do not let anyone convince you that your price is too high – this happens a lot and is completely unacceptable. Be aware of the fact that there is a difference between the price of a product – such as an art print – and the price of design, such as an original drawing made in your own style. Design is always much more valuable and therefore more expensive. The best way to approach your pricing is to estimate how many hours would go into each piece, and to figure out how much money you feel an hour of your time is worth, and then do the math. For the rest, I would advise you to:
- Agree on the deadline in advance, and stick to it.
- Ask for your payment in advance, and if you can, use Paypal as the payment method.
- Agree on what your payment will be if the commission is cancelled halfway through the process.
- Show your client the rough sketch and a rough color version before proceeding to the next step, to ensure that the client is happy with where the image is going.
- Establish with your client how many modifications can be made to the artwork based on the client's feedback, in order to avoid a situation in which you might have to completely re-do your image.
- Be dependable and communicate well with your client. Your reputation as an artist is incredibly important
The fact that Lois has been able to support herself from her art alone for so long gives me a lot of hope. She has a presence on most art and social networking sites which no doubt helps advertise her work, and has been a prestigious artist since her graduation (her graduation film won her awards), so this no doubt gives her an edge. But I'm sure with enough determination, and with the help of the advice that her and so many other fantastic artists give, I might be able to reach a similar level someday.