Friday, August 23, 2019

August 2019 on the blog -- Tips, Case Studies, and Self-Care for Indie artist/creator life.

August is usually a month to take some time off. Refresh. Recharge. Renew.

Rarely possible for Indie Artists/Content Creators.. but let's try.

photo (c) Amy Wagner, 2019
This month I'll be sharing a number of posts with Tips, Case Studies and Self-Care info. I have moved some posts that previously appeared in July to this month so these topics can all be together. I'm adding new posts starting today (August 1st).

As I follow cases of online art theft, copyright infringement, the progress of the CASE Act, and the growing popularity of compensation platforms like Patreon and Ko-fi, I see more overlap between Indie Artists and social media Content Creators. They struggle with many of the same issues. They can benefit from each others solutions and pro-active pushback.

The images of Indie Artists, and the pages of Content Creators, are the engine of Social Media. But where is their credit and compensation??? Others are profiting. How can we get all the artWORK shared by Indie Artists and Content Creators recognized for the great value they provide??

These groups can learn from each other.

If you have followers, you are creating content. If people are "liking" and "sharing" your images, you are providing a service. If followers depend on access to your feed and frequent updates on your site, you need to be educating those fans about all your work behind the scenes that makes this possible. Building a loyal, dedicated fan base is the best front line of protection for indie artist rights.

Take a pledge this month to take good care of yourself. Do something that re-charges your batteries. You can't produce great work without reserves to draw on. Replenish now so you can produce for the rest of the year.

Friday, August 16, 2019

Books on Mary Blair and Marc Davis. SNB website now accepting pre-orders for signed copies of these much anticipated books

Stuart's weekly newsletter is brimming with updates -- especially this week. News on Lightbox Expo. New arrivals. Stuart's selection of books from SDCC 2019.
Sign up to get the complete newsletter via this link from the SNB website:

This week's newsletter includes info on pre-orders for signed copies of two extraordinary titles.

Don't miss out!

Pre-Order These Autographed Disney Books!

Disney Visual Development Artist Brittney Lee has illustrated several children's picture books, but this is the first time she has illustrated a book entirely with her cut paper artwork!

Brittney has kindly agreed to sign her new book for our customers.

Pre-orders will begin shipping as soon as the books are signed on September 8th.

Featuring work from the sixties through the eighties, this two-volume set includes more than 1,500 pieces from the Imagineering archives, the vast majority of which have never been published. In addition, for the first time Marc's design theories as well as many of his stories of working with Walt are featured in his own words as recorded during hours upon hours of interviews by author Chris Merritt.

I'm very pleased that co-authors Pete Docter and Chris Merritt have kindly agreed to sign copies of this new book for our customers.

Pete Docter will be signing the books at Pixar in Emeryville and Chris Merritt will be signing the books at Imagineering in Glendale.

This book has a release date of September 3rd. Pete and Chris will sign the books in mid- or late September. Pre-orders will begin shipping as soon as the books are signed.

Monday, August 12, 2019

"Tabling: A Comic Con Documentary" on VIMEO -- tips from exhibitors at artist's alley

Photo and quote from @citizenMilton on twitter.
"Documentary - online now! See what it's like to be a comic creator at a convention. Fly-on-the-wall observations and interviews about the quirks of the convention scene, the struggles, and the positive vibes of the con circuit."

Filmed in June 2019, this documentary (directed by Milton Lawson) is over an hour of behind the scenes footage at Artist's Alley at HeroesCon in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Lots of interviews with different indie artists, authors and exhibitors. Learn valuable tips on how to work your table at a show. See scenes from the live art auction... and of course wanderings on this exhibit hall floor.

At the 1hour 19mins mark, writer Jordan Alsaqa demos his vertical book stand and pin displays. Having the right ways to display your items increases your chances for the engagement/interaction with attendees that all the other exhibitors insist is essential.

This quote is from the Vimeo page for this link:
""Tabling" shows what it's like to be a comic book creator at a convention. With fly-on-the-wall observations, interviews, candid moments, this documentary captures the quirks of the convention scene, the struggles breaking into comics, and the positive vibes of the comic con circuit.
Filmed at HeroesCon, a convention known for highlighting indie creators. Features wide range of talent - from established creators who've worked for Marvel, to indie creators with niche fanbases, as well as first-timers."

Saturday, August 10, 2019

Enamel Market, Pasadena Convention Center 2019 - UPDATED 8.13.19

Enamel Market is a pin, patch and products show. Sponsors include the folks behind DesignerCon.

Details for the 2019 show.
Enamel Market is a Pop Up Event for Pins, Patches, and Art. A Marketplace for independent Artists, Creators and Makers.

About this Event

Enamel Market is The Premier Pop Up Event for Pins, Patches, and Art. A Marketplace for independent Artists, Creators and Makers.
This is our One Year Anniversary Event featuring 60+ different Artists, Vendors, and Brands. Its the perfect event to get your Pin Game on point and meet and talk to your favorite artist.
We love our supporters so at every pop up we will be giving away FREE limited edition pins to the FIRST 200 attendees
Admission was free, but you had to register online via an eventbrite link:
to print out your free admission pass:
At the check-in desk, you got a nice lanyard, badge, and a free pin (for the first 200 attendees).
 The back of the badge showed all the sponsors.

I really liked this show. Smaller scale with lots of vendors and room to move around. Pasadena Convention Center means easy logistics. Lots of parking. A big shopping and restaurant area right across the street.

Mostly went in response to some great social media posts by long-time exhibitor pals:

Terrific marketing convinced me to attend. Always great to see friends, but here are 3 areas the marketing by Flat Bonnie touched on that compelled me to make the trip out to the show...

1) New product:

Text from Flat Bonnie post with this pic: "Come meet "Jacaron" - Jackalopes that love macarons too much at Enamel Market at Pasadena Convention Center Tomorrow (8/10) 10am-5pm.
*It's FREE to attend thanks to DesignerCon"

2) Amusing vignettes featuring product. An ongoing series of these appear on Flat Bonnie social media. They are engaging, entertaining, and perfect vehicles to share a marketing message..

3) Story behind the art. Sharing your story connects you with fans. Flat Bonnie donates to several different small animal rescue groups throughout the year.
I picked up an assortment of Flat Bonnie stickers to send to my pen pals! Also notice the bookmark at the bottom and the cool postcards I will also be sharing. Postcards are multi-purpose merch items! An easy price point. Lots of room to share contact info and story behind the art and/or artist. Postcards also make a great bookmark!!

The creator behind the wildly popular Corgli and Co brand used this show to branch out with their "World of Zhen" brand, featuring more personal work.
The Corgli and Co work more in my wheelhouse, but this table a great opportunity for the artist and their fans to see other facets of this creator.
Just like an investment portfolio... a healthy art portfolio should be diversified. A family friendly, commercial main product gives you access to a broad market and a steady income stream. A popular-appeal product also gives you creative wiggle room. Doing more niche-market personal work is a way to recharge, and connects you with a different fan base and professional network.
The key is branding.
You can have a larger umbrella/parent company, but don't put diversified products under a single label. Use branding to identify distinct products. Branding also directs your customers to the merch that meets their needs.

World of Zhen table.
My merch haul again focused on stickers, this time with Corgli and Co characters. Brilliant extra here was the merchandise bag with an original sketch on it (seen in center of pic below). The artist had prepared several of these bags ahead of time, so I got to choose the image. What a terrific incentive item.. perhaps for purchases over a certain amount (could be what I qualified for as I got multiples of several of these stickers).
As the exhibitor, you can always decide to add on an incentive time as a "freebie".. but why not display it with a price tag and help  educate attendees about prices and values.
It's artWORK after all...

This table got my attention with a great display! Study this photo to see all the smart moves here. Tons of signs. Email list right out front (on the left). Vertical displays. Theme colors. Large sign with pricing and discount price for bundles (on the right). Lots to learn from here.
Plus a postcard sized business card with ALL the contacts! And a flat, card stock back to write on. Brilliant! Love this!!
And the more I talked with artist Aimee Han and learned her story (a graphic designer and former science teacher) the more connected I felt to her product. She featured a poster of "My Punny Alphabet." The pins for this are just getting started.
Fingers crossed that "A is for Artwork" comes out soon! That message is right in line with the themes here on the blog, and when I'm visiting with indie artist exhibitors. I would buy pins just to pass out to folks...
like I did for years with these buttons from Alaska Robotics.
Meanwhile I snapped up some fun science themed and bee pins..

Some clever pins here caught my eye. 
What I really loved was this "Rainbow Road" pet pin, which I haven't seen anything like before. If you have pets and pet loving friends, you're no doubt familiar with the Rainbow Bridge. This pin salutes that sentiment, but also evokes a bit of "yellow brick road" adventure and whimsy that puts a hopeful spin on the situation. None of our pet friends live long enough, but they stay with us forever. This pin is a sweet memorial to that bond.
You can order the pin here:
Like other tables at the show, there was a bit of pop culture-fan art fun here. 
Everyone enjoys the fan art playground, but it's original Intellectual Property (IP) that shows the growth potential for artists and their brand. 


Many indie artists do create pop-culture character/themed work that is licensed from the license holders. However, most customers don't know that these rights agreement relationships exist for some products and not others. Instead, most customers just assume all "fan art" is the same. It's not. It's a rights issue in a big grey area. I love to see an indie art take on licensed IP, but I still hope someday there will be a standard provisional license for fan art. It would educate attendee-fan-customers as well as level the playing field for exhibitors. The situation is complicated, but for now, we just have a gray area for fans and creators that only adds to the confusion. For the most part, major license  holders look the other way. Enforcement does happen, but it's haphazard. Meanwhile, several generations of collectors have been getting mixed messages about IP protections and artist rights. Eroding those rights is a slippery slope. I don't have all the answers, but I keep up with the discussions among artists, companies, and at legal panels at Comic Cons. Several links in the "Your Guide" post on the blog (it gets updated every month):

I loved the Yadyadayda co business cards that shared their story! With the proliferation of online shopping, it's getting harder to connect creators with their customers. Click-and-ship has its place, but nothing beats knowing where your merch comes from, who made it, and why your're supporting them with a purchase. Reaching out with your indie-art-life story helps build those bridges. 

Just when my eyes were staring to feel a bit glazed over with all the pins of cartoonish characters, logos, pop culture references etc. etc. etc.
some more representational images made me stop at the table of..

and her tablemate (below R)
More nice use of vertical displays -- even a guitar case! 
The natural history themes here reminded me of some artist pals I know. I picked up a few items for possible future gifts.

Next event to check out at the Pasadena Convention Center...
will be Lightbox Expo Sept 6th-8th! 

Saturday, August 3, 2019

Stand out from contemporary "sameness" -- look back to past icons UPDATED 8.25.19

Nearly 20 years ago, this USPS postage stamp series highlighted icons of  American Illustration. Are you familiar with all the artists here?? (click on the image to enlarge it)

Next 5 paragraphs were shared on social media by an art instructor...
"Read this. It's from Comic Arts Agent, David Campiti. His assertion is one of the reasons I push my students so hard:
A RANT ABOUT DIGITAL ART: For God's sake, folks -- why does your DIGITAL ART all look like everyone else's? In the nearly 200 line art samples I've received in the past 10 days, MOST are so damn similar you could swear three or four people submitted them all. They take on a very generic look, the storytelling has the energy level of a daytime soap, and the inking is often a dead-weight line.
Don't tell me it's the limitation of the medium. Artists like Mike Deodato and Will Conrad and Mel Joy San Juan do amazing work drawing on a Cintiq. The idea of "going digital" was supposed to make the process easier, importing backgrounds and creating graphic libraries for go-to elements and so much more -- including no need to scan your line art. But if your methods are so unlearned, so amateurish that such drawn-on-paper comics artist as Joe Bennett can draw rings around you, without a tablet or computer in sight, then drawing digitally is not a tool for you -- it's a crutch.
I swear, some digital artists have flung much of comicdom back decades in the quality of art being submitted. They've never even bothered to learn the dramatic, powerful storytelling and character performance that Eisner, Kirby, Adams, Kane, and so many others brought to the biz. They don't even grasp how amazing inking can be, because they haven't studied Raymond and Fine and Raboy and Frazetta and Schultz and Cho and Stevens and so many others.
Truthfully, ladies and gents: If a hundred other people are drawing dull digital pages just like you, what will make you stand out for editors to notice and hire you? Editors want the BEST available people for the job, and "barely adequate and uninspired" is not good enough."
Spending all your time checking out your contemporaries on Instagram, etc.????

You are in an echo chamber of imitation. This habit, and the proliferation of fan art in artist alley at every convention, has opened the floodgates of sameness. Where is all the original content?

 If you want your art to stand out, be unique. If you need to get inspired -- LOOK BACK! Don't look at all the same stuff that's being shared among your peers. Social media is a hall of mirrors. Shatter this.

Look at past icons. Look past them to what they were looking at. Where do you find this sort of reference??? Museums. Exhibition catalogs. Out of print art technique books and artist biographies. It is work? Yes. It is worth it? Artistic growth doesn't come cheap, but it is priceless...

Los Angeles will soon have this premiere art reference resource: Read the article to see names of some of the artists featured in this collection. If you aren't familiar with them, start searching.

The internet brings easy access to images that used to require trips to research libraries. Follow links to verified sources, like university collection, museums and libraries. Make the most of the best of the internet. Look back!

Dumbo concept art by Bill Peet (1915-2002)
 T.S. Sullivant (1854-1926)
 3 by Heinrich Kley (1863-1945)

Wallace Tripp (1940-2018)

When you get to meet an artist  you admire, ask them about the iconic artists they followed early in their careers. Be familiar with the famous names of illustration history.

 Andreas Deja is a modern-day animation legend with a passion for looking back at great artists.
His blog is a goldmine of reference on iconic artists. 
Plus he posts images of rarely seen originals, many of them from his own private research library collection!
More Deja art history lessons from previous posts here:

Storyboard artist Benton Jew shares names of several icons in recent interviews (these excerpt from July posts on blog, here's link to one of them)
Benton Jew (Artist Alley DD-23)
Indie artist Benton Jew added this pic and post
"Bumped into my old ILM compadre, master model maker, fx supervisor and director, Bill George. Any vehicle in a Star Trek movie he’s probably had a hand in as well as many other classic sci-fi favorites!"
also link to this podcast interview
I listened to the podcast while doing a mandatory workout. Podcasts add an educational element to necessary exercise. In my case, it's due to a chronic medical condition. For artists, you have to be mindful of long hours of drawing (and sitting) taking a toll on your health. Be proactive now, so you can be productive for years!. The audio is a little rough for the first half. Guest Tim Burgard has to leave about half-way through the episode, so starting around the 40 min mark the rest of the episode is all Benton Jew. At the 56 min mark he starts addressing the need for up-and-coming artists to be "intellectually curious" about the art field they want to pursue. This means knowing the names and contributions of artists in that field. Studying older films. He drops some powerful truths about the need to be literate in film language if you hope to be speaking with directors and other top tier behind-the-lens talent. Listen to him on this episode. Study the films he references. They are essentials! 

In this video interview on You Tube! Benton mentions learning to draw by studying past artist icons like Andrew Loomis and Stan Drake. Don't know their work? Learn from visiting the SNB website or store.

Want to grow your art? Learn to draw animals -- especially horses!

Why so much focus on equine art? Creature designer and scientific illustrator Terryl Whitlatch gives art demos around the world. She is known for her command of animal anatomy. According to Whitlatch, horses are the most challenging of all animals to draw because their physiology is the most extreme.

Links to some equine artists featured here on the blog:

Horse Information Chart by Sam Savitt. This and other reference charts by Savitt available on the website run by his family:

Animator James Baxter, renowned for his horse art in the 2002 animated feature Spirit, Stallion of the Cimarron, discuses how important it is to learn to draw animals in this interview from the Bancroft Bros podcast.

Plus learn about this pencil test  he did when he was 20 years old!

UPDATE 8.25.19
This post from website My Modern Met discusses the Japanese Woodblock Prints that influenced Vincent Van Gogh, and shares a link where woodblocks from Van Gogh's personal collection can be downloaded for free!

From the February 3, 2019 My Modern Met post by Jessica Stewart.

"The Dutch painter acquired his first box of prints in Antwerp and tacked them to the walls of his studio. By taking in these exotic influences, Van Gogh hoped to modernize his own art and wrote his brother Theo about the impact of his new discovery. “Japanese art is something like the primitives, like the Greeks, like our old Dutchmen, Rembrandt, Potter, Hals, Vermeer, Ostade, Ruisdael. It doesn’t end.”
Like many artists, Van Gogh was fascinated by the compositions of the prints, which didn’t adhere to the standard rules of Western Art. Japanese artists were not afraid to crop out elements, exclude the horizon, use unusual color combinations, and leave space in the middle foreground of their work. Van Gogh began to adopt some of these principles as he learned that the Japanese aesthetics freed him from the rigid compositional rules typically employed by European artists."
Van Gogh Museum Japanese Woodblock Prints

Thursday, August 1, 2019

Fiber artists the Lubbesmeyer Twins -- gallery of sold works

Can you believe this is a textile! Amazing! "Clouds Over Fields and Fence" by fiber artists Lisa and Lori Lubbesmeyer.

Their website has a very clever page! A Galley of Sold Art.

A gallery of sold art on your website helps educate followers that 
1) you have an audience and 
2) the prices on your work reflect an established market.

Read the text in this post below from "Embroiderers' Guild of Victoria" Facebook page for more on the artists (they're twins!) and their technique.

Embroiderers' Guild of Victoria
This is 'Clouds Over Fields and Fence' and is the work of fibre artists Lisa and Lori Lubbesmeyer (Lubbesmeyer Twins).
The Lubbesmeyer Twins create their work using a method of layering and overstitching as they exchange the pieces, allowing the imagery to emerge spontaneously.
Their individual styles influence each other, resulting in interpretations of architecture and nature that are representational. The fracturing of shape and saturation of color occur layer by layer – allowing the texture of the fiber to build the imagery as they’ve responded to each other’s work.
Check out more of their work on their website at

Your Unicorn Career -- great art life tips from a science column

Following science pages on social media brings many insights into art life. Frustrated, isolated, introverted scientists share many of the career and work-life-balance struggles of indie artists. 

Down a science rabbit hole of the internet, I got this link on my feed via the website.

"Your Unicorn Career is an advice column about understanding your value and creating professional bliss by career consultant and professional speaker Alaina G. Levine." The column launched online in February, 2019.

Here are some valuable art-life tips from just two articles that appeared on the column.

1) Landing that dream job...
Many indie artists dream of working for a major studio. This science-life column gives some strategies to get there....

"As you work to develop your unicorn career, whether you are applying for a job right now or strategizing what you will do years in the future, three elements are crucial: your passions, your value, and your objectives. These are three distinct but related concepts that you need to both know for yourself and be able to communicate to others. But what are they exactly?"

"The story of another scientist, who landed his dream job developing sneakers at Nike, highlights the benefits of making your passions, goals, and objectives known. His vision since he was 11 years old was to work in the sneaker industry, and he took every step you could imagine to work toward this finish line. He researched the sector. He networked and reached out to experts for advice. He pursued degrees that would bring him closer to the industry movers and shakers. In addition to this leg work, this guy also did something else that struck me: He told everyone he could about his dream to work for a sneaker company. And the more he learned about Nike, the more he told people his dream was to work at Nike. By the time he defended his dissertation, Nike knew who he was, the value he could provide them, his objective to apply his knowledge to sneaker development, and his passion for the company. A position was open, and he got the job."

2) How to tell your boss/mentor/family you want to leave your "real" job for an art career...

"Some advisers view a desire to experiment with and pursue careers unfamiliar to them as truly “unholy”—something to be looked down upon; a sign of failure, sabotage, or abandonment; sacrilegious; and even blasphemous. Others simply don’t know much about these options—most of them have spent their entire careers in academia, after all—and are not equipped to offer advice."
" are expanding your networks greatly and will have entrĂ©e to much more information, ideas, and other resources of value that can help your PI advance their goals. For example, you may start going to professional conferences that your adviser didn’t know about or didn’t think would be relevant for their research, and you realize that this is a perfect platform for them to present. You have now opened the door for them to promote their work, find new collaborators, and push their research agenda forward."