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The Starving Artist

This topic is about rates and wages that an artist should start to consider when taking on a new job. This is my advice, so take this as advice.

So let’s begin. As an artist you  should know right away that you are valuable. You can recreate people’s imagination and ideas into reality. You are the one who brings people together to be able to all see the vision for the final product. This is valuable. Keep this in mind when you take new jobs. Think about how many hours you plan on slaving over iteration after iteration. Because even though you may have a voice, if you agree to whatever the arrangement are, you must live up to their standards. So make sure you are paid well.

Imagine a client asks you to do 50 hours of work for only $500 dollars. That’s $10 an hour. That is not enough. You can go get a job that could pay you as much if not more, without being an artist. I’ve seen people’s salaries as low as 30k a year. This is not acceptable especially if they graduated from a college that costs them 90k in loans.

I suggest the following to all my fellow artists, that the minimum for your time should at least be $30 an hour. I have seen people make as much as $200-500 an hour to give you some perspective. Now that may seem like a lot but some of these artists deserve it, but some don’t. Either way the flux in income needs to be equalized so we all benefit from this, especially artists who are just starting out. It’s not fair that people get paid dimes and nickels for stuff that actually has tons of value.

If you have quality work, I’d highly recommend charging in the $75-$150 an hour, Novices $40-$60 an hour, and beginners no lower than $30 an hour. I hope this guide helps you and informs you of your worth. Your time and skills are valuable, don’t lose sight of that.

Good Luck,
AJ

And to give you guys some more perspective. I never go below $100 an hour for freelance gigs.

Also some images for a comic I'm putting together of many. Sneak peek
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Great Portfolio is greater than College Degree.

Of Course, I’m not exposed to every school in the world but from my general knowledge, personal experience and some basic logic: School is way too expensive to attend, especially if it takes you years later to get a decent job after graduation.

Here are three reasons why I’m not happy with most, not all, colleges in america. Especially for artists.

Reason 1
IT COSTS WAY TOO MUCH MONEY! I hear now that some art schools are charging $30,000 a year, for three years. That’s $90,000 of debt. Most professionals in my field of concept art don’t make that in a yearly salary. It’s more expensive than some medical schools and that’s becoming a doctor of some sort. So why is it so expensive? Doesn't matter, it just is.

Think about it this way. You are about to invest almost a tenth of a million dollars for the promise of being a capable person in the industry. But by the end, all you get is a piece of paper and a pat on the back. GOOD LUCK! That sounds like more of a gamble than an investment. It’s like playing black jack and betting big. Except the dealer always gets 21, and you got to hope to get 21 just to leave with what you came with.

Reason 2
A degree doesn't mean you are a good at what you do. All it means is that you ‘PASSED’ and need a representation of that. Remember, most degrees don’t have any piece of evidence representing your actual ability. It just confirms you graduated. Because even if you struggled for that high GPA, your classmates, the ones who played minecraft all day, ended up with the same degree. So what does it come down to in the end? YOUR ACTUAL ABILITIES! Your portfolio won’t fool anyone. If you are good, you are good, if you are bad you are bad. It’s clear from the work you show people. They can LITERALLY see if you are a good fit or not. Diplomas don’t do that. Barely getting by does not cut it, good hard work always does.

Another perspective to consider is this: Imagine you are at work and you pass off some ‘C+’ quality of work. One might think, "Well hey I got away with that in school I’m sure my work will do the same." Nope. They tell you to do it again, and figure it out, and if you keep this up. You'll get fired. There are no weighted averages in professional work, there is either good work, or bad work. Of course you are allowed to slip up here and there, but within reason. The quality of your work shouldn't diminish, more like you need a bit more time, or you misinterpreted the assignment.

Reason 3
There are very few GOOD Teachers that actually know what they are teaching. I have had maybe five teachers I could name off the top of my head who had influenced me when I went to college. And one of them told me to drop out because I was wasting my time at the school. I loved that guy. The point being that some of the professionals at these schools actually are recycled students. They have come back into the education system and are ultimately teaching new students the very same skills that never resulted in employment for them, rather than emergent and dynamic skills that are actually useful. This is not inspiring. I even had a teacher tell me to stop drawing and pay attention in my compositing class. I told him politely that I wanted to draw to get better at concept art, and I had no interest in compositing. He got irritated and demanded me to stop. This was at an ART SCHOOL.

Imagine it like this. You go to a school of martial arts, and all the instructors have never fought a day in their life, and have never even sparred. But all the while, they are preaching that their techniques will save your life. Come to find out, that they actually learned there "skills" from “Martial Arts for Dummies.” The same book you could obtain for $5.

Closing thoughts
I’m not opposed to the idea of college. In fact I believe it should be more accessible to people, but it must connect you with ACTUAL PROFESSIONALS! People who are working in your field. There should be more open mentor-ships and internships and closer relationship between the teacher, and the student.

The internet is already there with online education which is more affordable. People can spend hundreds of dollars on their education these days, some education is even totally free from some of the biggest names in the industry.

I can tell you from experience, no one has ever asked me for my college degree and education. It’s always been portfolio/resume. Am I capable? Yes. Have I worked before? Yes. That’s it. I know this is true for many industry professionals.

College isn't entirely bad. You can meet life long friends, network and exposure. All of which are wonderful things, but ask yourself is it worth $100,000. For me it’s not. If you are on the fence about going to college I can tell you a few that are worth going to. A FEW. But if you can avoid it, I’d say you should.

On the other hand, If college is free for you and you've got the time, ignore everything I just said.

Good Luck,
AJ
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How to stay Motivated. 

I’m writing this article for the type of people who say that just can’t find motivation to:

Make a portfolio
Finish a painting
Work on their personal project
Etc.

I got three tips I’m about to write, and it’s just advice and things that I found useful for myself. If you are capable to do any of these things you should definitely try them.

Tip 1

Fear. Get rid of it. If you are fearful of the outcome it will unmotivate you immediately. Just finish whatever it is and think about how you can improve after. If you can’t see what you need to improve ask someone else to tell you. There is always room to improve, and if you go into a critique with an open mind you will grow exponentially.

Think of it like this. If you were running one lap, and half way through you stopped because you were afraid you were going to throw up or pass out, you will never really know how fast you can run that lap. You didn’t push yourself enough to know your limits. If you finished the lap and did it in, lets say 3 minutes, you can now train and try again. If you run 10 seconds faster, you can see improvement. If you don’t you can see whatever you were doing may need more time or isn’t working. But at least you can now see where you are at, and make a move.

Tip 2

Which brings me to my next tip, which is clarity. The lack of it will keep you unmotivated. If you don’t know what you are going to TRY to do to be motivated, you will never start. I like to make a game plan of the things I’d like to learn or improve on. Let’s say Tuesday I’ll go and do some studies in lighting, the next day anatomy. I set a time limit and follow through. Even if all I did was draw/paint from reference, I put in a good effort to improve myself that day.

Here is another way of thinking about it. If you are playing a role playing video game where you can level up, the goal is clear. Kill 10 monsters, you level up. So what do you do, kill 10 monsters and sure enough you LEVEL UP! Then it says kill 20 monster, and so on and so forth. The thing is that the game is giving you an artificial sense of achievement that propels you to stay motivated in it and keep playing. All you need to do is the same thing with schedules, and planning. Just say to yourself, if I put in 10 hours a week, I should level up in art. And you would.

Tip 3

And the last thing you should do to stay motivated is have fun. It doesn’t always have to be work or studying. It can just be dicking around and see what you come up with. Many of my personal projects have evolved from this. At first it started out as a test or some practice, but then it turned out great, and I had a blast doing it. So I would do more and more, and then BAM bunch of new pieces and art to show others. And be proud, even if they aren’t all that great, you had a moment of glory and that rewards you with self confidence to go on.

Imagine if you had to sit down and play a game of tag all day. I mean playing tag is fun, but noone is forcing you to play and if you were forced to play for HOURS that would be a nightmare. Being artistic and creative is fun by nature, so don’t force it. Just find the time to do it, and make it interesting and exciting to go on new frontiers. Try not to be bogged down by external pressure, and be motivated by personal growth and prowess. The more you do that, the more others notice. Trust me on that, it worked for me.

Good Luck,
AJ

 

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www.kickstarter.com/projects/2…

Hello everyone!! Please help out with posting this and sharing this with as many people as possible! All the support and great feedback you have all given me has been truly appreciated! Check the link above to find out more and help support my efforts! Thanks so much in advanced and I hope to hear from you all soon :) Thanks and have a happy new year! :D

AJ
  • Reading: Figure Drawing by Michael Hampton
  • Watching: Inception
  • Playing: God of war 3
  • Eating: KBBQ
  • Drinking: Apple Cranberry
schoolism.com/interview.php?id… My latest tool presets for CS6 with video
  • Reading: Figure Drawing by Michael Hampton
  • Watching: Inception
  • Playing: God of war 3
  • Eating: KBBQ
  • Drinking: Apple Cranberry
Mike Tracy is one of the best teachers I have ever had. If you do not know what's happening with him and the Art Institute, I'll describe briefly.

He is required by the Art Institute to recommend a book going through their "Digital Booksh
elf"

The books that are recommended by the Art Institute are not needed in Mike's class and he refuses to force his students to buy these books. Because of his refusal the Art Institute has threatened him with termination.

It is obvious that the Art Institute has no interest in what their teachers think. This also shows they don't value their students, except for their money. There is a petition for this. I've signed this along with many others.

This is why I'm not a fan of this type of education. Where the students and faculty come last. It's disgusting. Help the cause, thanks for reading.

www.change.org/petitions/the-a…
  • Reading: Figure Drawing by Michael Hampton
  • Watching: Inception
  • Playing: God of war 3
  • Eating: KBBQ
  • Drinking: Apple Cranberry
  • Reading: Figure Drawing by Michael Hampton
  • Watching: Inception
  • Playing: God of war 3
  • Eating: KBBQ
  • Drinking: Apple Cranberry
I think you guys may find some awesome all over this blog :)

pootspen.blogspot.com/

-AJ! Thanks for the support!
  • Reading: Figure Drawing by Michael Hampton
  • Watching: Inception
  • Playing: God of war 3
  • Eating: KBBQ
  • Drinking: Apple Cranberry
  • Reading: Figure Drawing by Michael Hampton
  • Watching: Inception
  • Playing: God of war 3
  • Eating: KBBQ
  • Drinking: Apple Cranberry
schoolism.com/school.php?id=12

Hey Guys the link above is for my Schoolism class that starts May 24th! It's not too late to sign up! Thanks for all the support and I hope to see you there! :)

-AJ
  • Reading: Figure Drawing by Michael Hampton
  • Watching: Inception
  • Playing: God of war 3
  • Eating: KBBQ
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LAST CALL AND REPOSTING There are still 3 slots left.

I came up with an idea! I'm going to open up for commissions again for a limited time! But not any kind of commission a special one! I will do a character/creature/mech of your choice (Fan art) and put my own flare to it. Not only that I'll record my process, and give you a 10 minute voiced over demo about how I did it and how I tried to reinvent your favorite character/creature/mech. I will only do reinventions, and suggestions are absolutely welcome!

Example: You want Tetsuo from Akira, I'd do a revision of him, and you would see a 10 minute demo of how I approached it.

I hope this helps out and give people a fun piece of work, and insight on how I think and design. I know most people can't afford my classes, so this can be a great opportunity to get a mini lesson from me.

I'm only doing this for 10 people! First come first serve. The way I'm charging this is as follows.
$65 for Black and White with Demo
$85 for Color with Demo

To get your name on the list you need to write me a note. Title it "COMMISSION" and inside write what you want. I will then respond with what you need to do next to confirm the commission. :) End date is this Friday April 27th.

1. Evlncyd
2. k04sk
3. Fallcorius
4. Glaudarien
5. Mestophales
6. Lt-Settai-Tenshi
7. g8crasherboy
8.
9.
10.

Thanks everyone!
AJ
  • Reading: Figure Drawing by Michael Hampton
  • Watching: Inception
  • Playing: God of war 3
  • Eating: KBBQ
  • Drinking: Apple Cranberry
Hello Yall!

I came up with an idea! I'm going to open up for commissions again for a limited time! But not any kind of commission a special one! I will do a character/creature/mech of your choice (Fan art) and put my own flare to it. Not only that I'll record my process, and give you a 10 minute voiced over demo about how I did it and how I tried to reinvent your favorite character/creature/mech. I will only do reinventions, and suggestions are absolutely welcome!

Example: You want Tetsuo from Akira, I'd do a revision of him, and you would see a 10 minute demo of how I approached it.

I hope this helps out and give people a fun piece of work, and insight on how I think and design. I know most people can't afford my classes, so this can be a great opportunity to get a mini lesson from me.

I'm only doing this for 10 people! First come first serve. The way I'm charging this is as follows.
$65 for Black and White with Demo
$85 for Color with Demo

To get your name on the list you need to write me a note. Title it "COMMISSION" and inside write what you want. I will then respond with what you need to do next to confirm the commission. :) End date is this Friday April 27th.

1. Evlncyd
2. k04sk
3. Fallcorius
4. Glaudarien
5. Mestophales
6. Lt-Settai-Tenshi
7.
8.
9.
10.

Thanks everyone!
AJ
  • Reading: Figure Drawing by Michael Hampton
  • Watching: Inception
  • Playing: God of war 3
  • Eating: KBBQ
  • Drinking: Apple Cranberry
www.kickstarter.com/projects/1…

This is a project my friend is apart of! I would love it if you guys could go and contribute some money and help out their cause! They are nearing their deadline and could use the funding! Help out it would mean alot!

-AJ
  • Reading: Figure Drawing by Michael Hampton
  • Watching: Inception
  • Playing: God of war 3
  • Eating: KBBQ
  • Drinking: Apple Cranberry
schoolism.com/torontoworkshop/…;<<< If you up in Canada in the end of May! GO TO THIS EVENT! It should be a Great event!!!! :D come all and tell your buddies! Spread the word!

:)
  • Reading: Figure Drawing by Michael Hampton
  • Watching: Inception
  • Playing: God of war 3
  • Eating: KBBQ
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>>>>>>>>>>>> schoolism.com/school.php?id=12 <<<<<<<<<<<<

Here is a link to the February Schoolism class It starts February 2, 2012, GO SIGN UP!! :D the class fills up fast! :) Spread the word and Thanks in advance for the support!

AJ
  • Reading: Figure Drawing by Michael Hampton
  • Watching: Inception
  • Playing: God of war 3
  • Eating: KBBQ
  • Drinking: Apple Cranberry
schoolism.com/school.php?id=12… have a class on Schoolism!!! The timeline is almost up for the class! It starts November 30th! that's next week!! :) Check it out if you have time Thanks yall! And get ready for a major update to my deviant art!!!!!! :)
  • Reading: Figure Drawing by Michael Hampton
  • Watching: Inception
  • Playing: God of war 3
  • Eating: KBBQ
  • Drinking: Apple Cranberry
www.ctnanimationexpo.com/store…;

If you guys are going to be in Burbank today (Nov 18th 2011) I'll be doing a Demo from 2:00-2:45 pm on the main stage digital!!! :D Come and check me out! :)
  • Mood: Joy
  • Reading: Figure Drawing by Michael Hampton
  • Watching: Inception
  • Playing: God of war 3
  • Eating: KBBQ
  • Drinking: Apple Cranberry
I feel that I have disconnected with my fans and I want to say.. DOH!! Lets get this going again!!!! So first I want you guys to know that I post on this conceptdesignclub.blogspot.com… along with my fellow art buddies. Also, I plan to try to do a Livestream demo Once a week (most certainly sometime during the weekends) Anyways I'll keep you guys posted! Follow me on my twitter too I'm going to get it ramped up again. Robotpencil

Anyways, See you guys around and I'll make a major post soon on this deviant art of mine soon enough ;)

Thanks for all the support and can't wait to get back into my fandom. Love you guys.

AJ
  • Mood: Joy
  • Reading: Figure Drawing by Michael Hampton
  • Watching: Inception
  • Playing: God of war 3
  • Eating: KBBQ
  • Drinking: Apple Cranberry
  • Mood: Joy
  • Reading: Figure Drawing by Michael Hampton
  • Watching: Inception
  • Playing: God of war 3
  • Eating: KBBQ
  • Drinking: Apple Cranberry
IF YOU GOING TO COMIC CON!!!!!! I'll be doing demos!! all over the place! :D

Come check me out at Schoolism booth #2042!

On Thursday, Friday, Saturday
12:20pm-1:15pm and 4:55pm-5:50pm

On Sunday
11:45am-12:30pm and 3:30pm-4:15pm

Come say Hi! :) And watch all the other artists doing awesome stuff!

I'll also be running around as well come find me out! :)
  • Mood: Joy
  • Reading: Figure Drawing by Michael Hampton
  • Watching: Inception
  • Playing: God of war 3
  • Eating: KBBQ
  • Drinking: Apple Cranberry