Crimson Daggers — Art forum

Full Version: Is beeing cheap an advantage? Yay or nay and thoughts...
You're currently viewing a stripped down version of our content. View the full version with proper formatting.
Hello everyone. I'm new here.

I'm currently studying architecture but in the same time I'm teaching myself digital art.
Architecture is an honored and well paying profession here were I live but I have a huge passion about art and I don't want to be stuck in a boring desk job.

I always thought it would be easier for me to survive this industry as a freelancer due to the low cost of living in my country(Albania).
A monthly income of 400$ would be enough for me to motivate me working full time but as I learned more about the industry it seems that it may not be easy even if you're willing to sell yourself cheap.
I do not believe in artist selling their self cheap and I absolutely do not encourage it, however living in a poor I think this salary is acceptable for me.

So what do you think.
How much of an advantage is your price?
(without sacrificing quality)

For 400$ a month should I take it slow and focus mainly on university of should I focus on my art mainly and less about uni?
Hello and welcome to CD! :) Well to answer your question: I don't think having cheap rates is an "advantage"

I'm not sure it's even the right way of thinking about it to be honest.

I think it more depends on the kind of jobs you can get at your skill level and the amount of effort you spend in marketing yourself to get work. Starting off it can be hard to land decent paying freelance jobs.

There are many people and companies only willing to pay only $100 US and below for finished illustrations, or concept designs that may take anywhere from 2 to 14 hours to produce! Unfortunately these types of jobs are annoyingly common out there especially in the indie market and you will end up being approached to do them.
Even larger established companies like fantasy flight games offer $150/card for new talent. This is for things that could take 10 hours+ to produce!! This is below minimum wage where I am from and I tried it for a little while but found it unsustainable given my outgoing costs.

In your case well, if all you need is $400 a month, then at the face of it, only three of those illustrations taking you about a week of work time, and a few weeks start to finish, to produce sounds like it could work. But you have to keep in mind most companies will pay only after 30 or 60 days after completion and some only pay once the art is published, which can be many months away! The income will not be steady as a freelancer, and this is why you always have to spend a lot of time looking for work/promoting yourself and knowing the business side of things such as your basic contracts and rights is as important if not more so, than rates setting.

Working at low rates means you have to work harder and longer with less down time in between and spend more effort in marketing and hunting new clients. Your speed becomes an important factor, and sometimes speed isn't the best way to do anyrhing well while still learning. It can behard work and not that fulfilling. I'm not saying it can't be done, but be prepared for it. I did it for a while (while working a fulltime day job) and I have to say it totally burned me out and I ended up hating it. I went back to just doing painting for myself and on projects and it was instantly better for me and my work.

I fairly regularly get approached to do these kind of minimum wage gigs and I am always polite and start the talk but then I always get the silence, when I tell them my rates. It's fine, I'm happy with it. I don't need the money, and I'd rather not work for peanuts and end up hating the process of doing art.

I recently got a freelance gig where I will do a bunch of character art for 150 a character, and 350/ environment, plus some box and cover artwork. About 3 grand for a month of work in total.
I halved the rates I wanted to charge and went to the lowest I'd be comfortable with in order to secure the gig because I thought it was a good project with a good client and I wanted to make sure I got it. He accepted with no hesitation, in hindsight I probably could have asked what I wanted and maybe negotiated somewhere in between, but really because I didn't compromise and go below what I was comfortable accepting, I am still quite happy with it this time around. Next time might be different. It depends on you and the work you are negotiating each time.

I also think you need to decide what you want to focus on, aside from this question of rates, for yourself. Do you want to do Architecture, do you want to do art? Do you want to do both? Basically you decide your focus based on your own instincts. Art these days is hugely a desk job, don't be fooled into some idealised notion that it isn't. There are also other desk jobs that can be creative and fulfilling. It is easy to imagine that it is an either/or scenario, but the reality is different and really depends on your own wants.

Nobody will be able to tell you what is right for you. How much you might earn doing freelance seems to be a side issue altogether.
So basically the only advantage of needing less money is that I can take on less jobs thus having more free time for personal projects and stuff.
Gotta start building the portfolio.

I think different persons have different ways of dealing with jobs.

I, for example I'm terrible at things I got to do but don't want to. I procrastinate till the last minute, but on the other hand I am not greedy when it comes to money and would be able to work lots of hours if I would not be bothered by the work.

Thanks for the reply, really helped.
Needing less money is great. Earning less money is not.

I noticed your dA rates were maxed at 22US for "full" character work. That would be 20 full character designs a month or 1 finished design every 1.5 days to hit $400/month!! Also within this period, you need to do marketing and promotion, carry on with your own art study, and then fit in University as well. Perhaps you want a social life, and do some exercise as well? I think it will be practically impossible to do this at those rates.

I don't know how often you get commissions nor how quick you are, but I think you will need to raise your rates if you don't want to be working like a dog to get to your monthly goal, assuming you can find that much work in the first place.

So yep I suppose your assessment is fair enough: do what you need to get your income up, and use the remaining time to work on your own stuff. Somewhere amongst all this you have to fit in your University work.

It will still be hectic as hell even with increased rates, so you have to get over your tendency for procrastination and develop some really efficient discipline in order for the balance to work. Freelancers do not generally have the luxury of being lax and lazy. We have to be more efficient than the studio artist counterpart and much more efficient than your average uni student.

Not every project you will be offered, especially starting out, will fill you with 100% fulfillment. You will probably be asked to do some stuff you really aren't inspired by. The question then becomes one of money and time over desire. You don't want your freelance to become a string of jobs that you hate, because well this isn't an improvement over the dreaded desk job, and it can taint your motivation for doing art.

I don't mean to sound so negative of course, I FULLY support your ambitions, just be realistic and organised and reevaluate your path and your instincts frequently. :) GOOD LUCK!!!

Oh also for freelance, I recommend signing up for a year with ArtPact (29 bucks) for some good info on contracts and reviews on companies and their terms.
Thanks again for the comment.

My dA rates are just for some extra money, because I'm not advertising myself much and am afraid of taking big projects until I know I got some time and mostly until I will feel like I got a portfolio that really shows how capable I am and I think I can do better than my current works.
I rarely get commissions anyway, and when I decide to seriously search for employment, it is surely not going to be deviantart.

I know its subjective and somewhat personal question but I want to ask you, based on a couple of my works that you may consider the best, would it be a good enough level to build a portfolio containing that quality of art and search for jobs and develop the skill on the way, or would it be better if I focused on crafting my style some more?
Hey man, I will totally answer your question as best I can, it might take a day or two before I do because I have a busy weekend coming up :)
What might help to know however is what your general goals and things that make you passionate about art are ...what do you enjoy doing the most? Concept work or Illustration, comics and anime inspired stuff, etc etc? Just so I know where you see yourself heading.
Well my main goal and passion is Illustration and character design and maybe creature design.
I got a slight obsession with tshirt designs but thats somewhat of a hobby
ok sweet, well when I get an hour or two (probably on Saturday evening NZ time) I'll have a look through your work and give you my thoughts.
Hey man, I've had a chance to have a look over your work on dA and the CA sketchbook. Just a caveat so you know exactly where I am coming from. I am not a full time working professional. I have freelanced with some limited success earlier on in my development. I took a break to develop my skills and 'personal vision', feeling I jumped in the game too quickly. I am aiming at getting to the art fulltime within a few months with better skills under my belt. So yeah take or leave any part of what I say as you wish.

So first a couple of observations on your interests based on the work I saw and you can correct me if wrong.

1. You seem to be more drawn to stylistic and comic inspired art
2. You are heavily focused on anime.
3. You seem to be tending more towards comic character pinups than narrative illustration or creature concepts.

I guess the first thing to think about is whether my first impressions, aligns with where you would want a potential client to view your as your strengths, because first impressions are all that matter in securing work. At the moment it seems what you are focusing on is divergent from what you told me earlier.

Based on what I saw I would be inclined to say that you need to work more on your fundamentals in order to build a folio that attracts higher paying work. I think you can probably get work, but I feel that it will be on the lower end of the payscale. I think you could probably find work on indie projects in comics or any number of mobile app games companies or tabletop games that use a more stylistic or comic based approach.

I picked a few pieces that I thought might showcase your best efforts below:
[Image: muscular_xenomorph_by_gjergji_zhuka-d7bal2d.jpg]
[Image: dragons_by_gjergji_zhuka-d80tbik.jpg]
[Image: knight__contest_entry__by_gjergji_zhuka-d8891w5.png]

These seem to be the most polished, however they still exhibit flaws in fundamentals, most obviously in proportions of figures and accurate form building.

The Knight piece is probably the most consistent character. The "Dragon" piece showcases a thing that is reflected in a lot of your sketchbook in that you seem to not get the head proportion in relation to the body looking "right". I realise you are aiming for stylised and distorted, but there still needs to be an internal consistency in the distortion. If for example only the head is out of proportion things will tend to look "wrong" rather than stylistic. It is even more evident in your sketchbook.

Out of all those I actually liked the Xenomorph illustration the best. It seems the most finished, it has energy and mood, it has a good attention to form and composition. It could be a panel in an Alien comic. There are polishing touches that could be made : saliva doesn't look like saliva and the green goo is a bit out of place,
there are some squiggly lines that need to be fixed, but in general it feels mostly complete.

In terms of study and development, I noticed in your sketchbook that you are doing (or at least posting) mostly things from imagination. I didn't see a lot of observational studies. Since characters are a focus, I think you would really benefit from more observational studies from (preferably) life drawing classes, photo/video studies such as the Croquis cafe on youtube to improve your anatomy and proportion skills.

You tend to draw one body type for males and one for females, but there are endless variations that you could explore. What happens if you are asked to draw a hunched over old woman, or a really obese male ballet dancer? You have to really understand real proportions and abstract them, to be able to distort them believably from imagination.

You actually have demonstrated some good lines and dynamic charming gestures with characters and seem to have an intuitive understanding of foreshortening which can be tricky, but I feel you just need to consolidate your study more.
I loved this loose sketch of yours actually out of all your work including the more polished! It shows dynamic
gesture, good proportions and consistent lighting, palette and energy.
[Image: attachment.php?attachmentid=2051999&d=1414105241]

Another thing you can do that will help are general still life studies, that you can set up yourself, of objects
with various textures and forms in different lighting setups. Doing anything from observation will only help your imagination skills.

I also noticed less emphasis on design study. Character design is mostly about coming up with a unique design and how that sells a character, rather than rendering generic things in nice ways. I think you should really focus on the design aspects that make up a unique or interesting character than just simply going for mimicked or generic memes. You might want to consider taking part in things like the character design challenge here on CD and on other forums to hone these skills. Design is a skill that needs practice, as much as rendering technique.

I didn't see a lot of work on creature design. Check out Brent Hollowel's work ethic. He does creatures. he studies them, he lives them, he breathes them, he combines them into unique living entities. I used him as an in-development example, but if you look at any master designer this is the work ethic they all follow. This is what makes them good, not just the technique but the study and application of the study. You probably should be doing this as well if you want to do design for creatures. The more you know about real creatures, the more you can develop imaginary ones.

I feel you have again an intuitive understanding of colour but perhaps more study from life would help add nuance to this.

Basically, you should probably focus your study in order to build your skills and produce a folio that gets you the work you want to do in the future. If you don't showcase exactly what you want to do, you will end up getting work doing what you have shown instead.

A small note also, if you enjoy doing T-Shirt designs, definitely do not just discount that as a 'hobby'. You should generally follow your own sense of enjoyment and give it priority because it will lead to better work and perhaps other opportunities. Study and folio building is all an important part of the whole game but also as a general rule I believe it is better to focus these things on what you love more than what you think the market loves.

Hope this wasn't to rambly and was useful for you in some way.
Thanks. I feel flattered that you took the time for such a long critique, if I can call it that.

I find myself agreeing with most of what you said.
The main problems I find in me are that I don't take my time to fully render a piece(I get bored rather quickly) and that my productivity is maximal when I'm taking some boring architecture class.(meaning the lack of possibilities for other activities makes my focus on drawing)
I almost never use reference(in figure drawing) and despite everyone saying that it is very important for improvement I still don't feel comfortable, so I'll stick to brain visualization for now.
I really want to find more time for drawing landscapes when it comes to life drawings.Those I like.

I find that now that I'm comfortable drawing standard figures I'm slowly expanding my visualization for different poses and different body types.
I find myself to be in a point that you're comfortable enough and you are able to see yourself progress very fast.(I should probably update my sketchbook:).)

Anyways I got to say that the xenomorph piece is more like a happy accident, and thus not worrying too much made the lines feel more natural maybe.

Thank you again.I hope that someday I too will get a comment from Feng Zhu :P
No worries. Glad it was useful.

Yep there is definitely a sense of impatience in your work. It sounds like you lack self discipline. When you are forced to do something, you can focus, but when it is just up to you, you get indulgent and allow yourself to wander off. Definitely something to think about and work on.

I had and still fight this problem as well. I just wantto do the fun loose exploratory stuff and then once I knew where the piece was going, I get bored with the rendering.
Unfortunately rendering, especially for illustration, is pretty much a necessity for the most part.
You don't want to showcase that you can only push out sloppy work. You don't have to be uber-detailed of course, but just cleaned up enough so it looks finished.

So you either can just bite the bullet and force yourself to sit down and learn enough patience to tighten up your work before abandoning it, or find some way to develop your workflow that makes the rendering phase as efficient as possible. I would say you should try to find a way to make the rendering fun. Make up little stories in your head linked to the piece, listen to audio books or talks, even chat to friends on skype. It can be dull, so occupying your mind halfway somewhere else can help the process be less boring.

I think maybe just finding a more efficient workflow in cleaning up your lines from the start could help since you are going for stylised anyway. Check out this thread here on CD.
There is a pretty good explanation about halfway down of a standard workflow you probably have seen before in countless tutorials that splits up the lines, base colours, shadow and lit areas using layers. I just thought it was a great example of it. It might help for you to experiment with this more structured approach and hit a more cleaned up product earlier on?

Life drawing is probably the most useful thing you can do to increase your overall skill level in drawing, and using reference is a must for visual library building. The reason people say they are so useful, is because it is nd doubt. Most of the problems you will see in any piece will be in either a core fundamental drawing issue or in the lack of use of adequate reference. Of course there is no "right way" to learn anything, you can do as you wish and it might be right for you.

However the fact that you are not comfortable doing something, to me indicates that you should do it. You will always feel like you are improving at varying rates as you keep painting, but being lazy and sitting in our comfort zones and not challenging ourselves tends to promote stagnation eventually. So when there is something I don't really want to address even though I know it is good for me, I know I have to jump in and do it. Most of the time it ends up being a worthwhile and even fun exercise.

Anyways good luck with it all, and haha yeah that comment was nice to get at the time :)