Career

In Comic Stores Near You - Aspen Mascots

Today I've got some really exciting news... well, news that I probably should've shared two months ago but NEVERTHELESS...

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I've been working with Aspen Comics since late last year on an all-ages title called Mascots! The story is written by Vince Hernandez, penciled and inked by Joie Foster (ME, in case somehow you're lost and don't know whose blog you're on...), colored by Justice, lettered by Micah Myers, and edited by Gabe Carrasco.

What's it about??

 This sums is up rather nicely!

This sums is up rather nicely!

A milipede villain (villipede?) named Wormier must rescue his worm-y village by any means necessary, and builds a time machine to achieve his goals! And of course because it's time travel, nothing works the way he wants it to and he goes off on a zany adventure through time with his gryphon buddy, Griff. Yes, a gryphon named Griff. It's a thing. A ton of the mascots, creatures, and other critters from popular Aspen titles are involved, so be ready to get your cute-and-hilarious on!

 Featuring a sense of humor that is very in tune with my own...

Featuring a sense of humor that is very in tune with my own...

How do I buy the thing??

At your local comic book store in the back of any Aspen title that comes out this year! And... uh... turns out Chapter One came out in February, Chapter two in March, and Chapter Three this month... so I'm a bit late to the game in telling y'all about this. Whoops!

 At least that means you can binge read it?

At least that means you can binge read it?

Luckily, most comic stores have issues from the last several months so if you go, you can probably still find the books that my story is in. Also, here's a handy-dandy list to make your shopping trip easier:

  • Chapter 1 can be found in: Charismagic (vol 3) #1, Shrugged 3 #1 
  • Chapter 2 is in: Charismagic (vol 3) #2, Shrugged 3 #2, Jirni (vol 3) #1
  • Chapter 3 is in: Charismagic (vol 3) #3, Portal Bound #1

And for those of you who are visual:

 A gratuitous shot of my comp copies to make life easier for you... including Portal Bound which you should DEFINITELY check out since my buddy Gabe is a writer on it!

A gratuitous shot of my comp copies to make life easier for you... including Portal Bound which you should DEFINITELY check out since my buddy Gabe is a writer on it!

Buy and then read all the things, and then tell me what you think. Be gentle, us artists are delicate beings.

Chapter 4 comes out soon, so make sure you're ready for it! (Oh... uh. Speaking of, I'M not ready for it, so I better get back to the drawing table like NOW...)

 Typical artist.

Typical artist.

WonderCon Anaheim 2018!

My my, it has been a hot minute since I've updated my blog! I'm alive I swear-- and not only that, I'll be physically standing at my booth in Anaheim this weekend, March 23-25 (2018, if you happen to be reading this in the future)!

 I'll be in the Artist Alley at table B-43! Geez, I need to update my self portrait...

I'll be in the Artist Alley at table B-43! Geez, I need to update my self portrait...

From Friday to Sunday I'll be present with fistfuls of my comics and art for your viewing and buying pleasure! I also have the honor of showing with my normal show-partner-in-crime, Ria from Ria Art World! Yay! You'll spot us immediately, since we're the booth with All The Cute Stuff (TM). Hope to see you there!

Review of Heavenly Kibble Guardian Corgi from The Grand Geek Gathering Podcast

Don't you love it-- I tell you to start watching my Instagram Stories and them promptly stop updating both them and my blog, too? Fear not, I'm not dead! I went on a scheduled vacation up in rural Oregon where I didn't have much in the way of cell service or internet. Actually, it ended up turning into a roller coaster of a work-cation, but that's a story for another day.

 I may have had to work, but at least this was my surrounding scenery!

I may have had to work, but at least this was my surrounding scenery!

But I'm back. Huzzah! Half a day was spent fighting through my extremely backed up inbox, but I'm now back at work, back at Instagram Stories, and of course, back to the blog.

 These guys are the best. Seriously, they've got a lil' something for everyone!

These guys are the best. Seriously, they've got a lil' something for everyone!

I'm really excited to share both a review and an interview about my comic series Heavenly Kibble Guardian Corgi from the one and only Grand Geek Gathering podcast!

"The Grand Geek Gathering is a multimedia network dedicated to celebrating the geeky things we love that make us who we are. Every Gatherer has different interests, passions, and traditions. We love that. As you get to know us on the Gathering podcast, we do not hesitate to share those passions and interests (or shove it down your throat)."

They also have do videos, livestreams, and a slew of other things. I was really pleased and humbled to be the subject of both episodes 66 and 67 of their show "IndiComix."

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Episode 66 features an interview I did with Tyler, where we chat about Guardian Corgi, its influences, my inspirations, and a closer look at my process behind creating my comics. He's such a blast to talk to, so there's not a boring moment! (Approx 30 min)

Interview with IndiComix about Guardian Corgi


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Episode 67 is a fantastic in-depth, round table review of all three issues of Guardian Corgi! Tyler and Jeff covered their thoughts on my writing, jokes (they lived through the puns, hah!), art style, character design, and the colors.

They had delightfully nice things to say, including that they felt the fun, bright colors, and simplicity of the series made it very accessible and a different voice in the current indie comics industry. I was extremely pleased to hear that, as I aim to make my stories a fun experience for anyone-- comics fans or not!

Roundtable Review of Heavenly Kibble Guardian Corgi

Thank you for all the kind words, GGG!

Get Behind the Scenes With My Instagram Stories

Do you follow me on Instagram? Yes? Hooray, thank you! I hope you enjoy my posts there. I like posting in-progress shots of my work, pictures of me at conventions, and pics with my art buddies.

BUT.

There's more that you might be missing!

Instagram has a cool feature I've been playing with called "Stories." Much like the famed Snapchat, Stories lets me build a little fun narrative. They're usually snapshots or tiny videos of what I get up to throughout the day that give you an extra special behind-the-scenes peek.

 You can get quality humor like this!

You can get quality humor like this!

 And amusing, melting self portraits like this!

And amusing, melting self portraits like this!

 And don't forget great snaps of my Studio Assistant!

And don't forget great snaps of my Studio Assistant!

 Bits and bobs about my process as I go...

Bits and bobs about my process as I go...

 ... and weird closeups of the tips of my markers!

... and weird closeups of the tips of my markers!

These stories constantly update throughout the day as I add to it, so you can see what weird art-related (and sometimes totally personal) shenanigans I get up to! Some days I post more than others, and I'm sure some days I won't post at all. These stories also disappear after 24 hours, so it's always immediate "right now" content... and you might be missing stuff if you don't check in daily (that's the scheme, see? Good thinking Instagram. I don't even want to talk about how much of my day I spend watching others' stories...)

 Here's how to see 'em!

Here's how to see 'em!

So if you're on board, head to your Instagram app and check the top of your feed! There's a horizontal row of profile pictures with a little sunset-gradient circle around them. Those are all the people you follow whose Stories you might be missing! Alternatively, you can go to my profile and click on my pic (as seen above).

Hope you enjoy, and maybe it'll inspire you to try it for yourself, too! See ya there.

A Day in the Life of a Freelancer

So for everyone out there that wonders just what we freelancers DO all day, I wrote up a little outline about how my own typical schedule goes. Yes, we can work in our PJs* if we really want, but it’s certainly not sitting around stuffing our faces with bonbons. Or, if we do, it’s while we’re doing about 8 different tasks at once. You can eat bonbons or not, I won’t judge. You do you!

*I actually never work in my PJs, despite the temptation. I swear, really! If I do, my work ethic goes right out the window!

My Typical Day!

  • 8:00 AM: Wake up… I know, that’s not very early. It’s a thing I’m working on.
  • 8:15 - 8:45: My workout! I switch off between cardio and strength 6x a week. I usually use Jessica Smith’s programs.
  • 8:45-9:00: Dog walk.
  • 9:00 - 9:30: Shower n’ stuff.
  • 9:30 - 11:00: Breakfast while I BUSINESS FRENZY for about an hour. I go nuts on social media promoting myself and others, plus send/respond to emails, and search for new potential gigs. This is also when I post new content and work on writing any new content that needs writing.
  • 11:00 -  3:00: Job stuff! Actual client work. I also eat lunch at my desk at some point in here.
  • 3:00 - 4:00: Typically a second BUSINESS FRENZY but this time I might lean more heavily on the social media side. It’s when a lot of people are active! This is usually accompanied with tea.
  • 4:00 - 4:30: Walk the dog!
  • 4:30 - 8:00: More Job Stuff!
  • 8:00 - 9:00: Dinner
  • 9:00+: If it’s Crunch Time I’ll get back to Job Stuff. If it’s not, I’ll switch off between reading/watching a program, playing a video game, or working on my own comics/personal projects.
  • 12 AM: Bed time!

And of course there are exceptions to this rule. Making my own schedule as a freelancer is very cool! Things might shift around if I have a doctor’s appointment, business lunch, or some sort of event to attend. On Tuesdays my ballet class rearranges the *entire* day. It also depends on my current workload. If I’m lighter on the client work side of things, I tend to lean more heavily on BUSINESS FRENZY time and do such things as designing new promo materials and catching up on accounting.

If you’re a fellow freelancer, what does YOUR day look like? Share in the comments!

My Very First Comic

This is my very first comic I ever made at the tender age of 12. And yes, that’s a plushie of the main character that my mother and I made together. Despite it being part of a school assignment, I like to think my 12 year old self was forward-thinking with merchandising opportunities!

  My First Comic

My First Comic

I took this photo because my Patrons have unlocked the “Old Embarrassing Comics” Creator Goal, which means I unearthed, scanned, and uploaded 18 year old comics to share. I had a lot of fun revisiting my old (and awful) storytelling and art skills, reviewing why I made certain choices I did, and sharing a lot of fun personal backstory in the post. Literally ANY Patron level can get these, so I couldn’t help but share this! If you want some great giggle material, this might something you’re interested in!

Happy New Year!

So 2015 was quite an interesting year for me. There were fantastic ups and some truly awful downs. I had some money woes, drama, health issues, and intense career frustrations… but I’d rather not dwell on the negative when I had so many positives, too!

This was my second year as a full time freelancer, and I managed to significantly expand my client base. I did another album cover, worked on two different card games, a miniatures games, and a classic tabletop RPG. I painted backgrounds for an animated short with a long distance studio, and that was fun! I also got my first licensing deal (it’s jewelry… and it comes out next year! Squee!)

In education, I spent most of the year enrolled in Chris Oatley’s OALive class, now known as the Storyteller Summit. I learned quite a lot about storytelling and writing in general which led an amazing chance to pitch in writing a movie script, too! I made a lot of awesome friends in OALive, including the amazing comics group, Team Space Bear!

I revamped my website, and launched an entirely new comics-centric one, which was exciting because I’ve always wanted a place to focus on my cartoon work. It also helped me solidify my online branding.

Comics-wise, I published Guardian Corgi #2, and have two more comics in progress currently (one’s a 22 page one shot, and the other is a longer format). I finally got my first comic onto Comixology, which means I can now sell comics from three different platforms! I also have a brand new webcomic, Clucked, that I work on with Joel. It’s gonna launch in about 2 weeks!

I was a guest at the Norwegian comics convention Stribefeber, which was AMAZING! I absolutely LOVE that country, and really hope I can return again in this year.

I also became part of the amazing community that is The Comic Bug. It’s fantastically supportive and full of fun people. The Los Angeles Womens Comic Creator League is also now a group I’m a part of, and I contributed to their anthology that comes out this year.

Rounding things out, I’ve started adding more Pro notches to my belt– I’ve started doing colorist jobs for BOOM! Studios, and my first job was coloring an OGN that comes out in a few months!

I’ve got some solid goals figured out to shoot for this year both for leveling up my art skills, and expanding my business. Plus, I’ve lined up some conventions I’m REALLY excited about, including a of Pro Table at Emerald City Comic Con! My main goal is to create tons of comics! I am SO ready!!

In my personal life I got to go on some fun adventures including going to Mexico, spent a good amount of time enjoying Oregon (including Portland), had my bestie Prentice visit me in LA, and got my mom out to the West Coast. I also saw Weird Al and Tim Minchin in concert, and I finally got to the Getty!

Oh and I turned 30, I guess.

I made new friends, and had insanely good times with my current ones. I moved across LA, and in with Joel. It’s been a real wild ride.

So here’s to 2016! Happy New Year! I’m excited to see what adventures it holds! May your new year be amazing!

Putting the Biz in Business Card!

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I just got my new order of business cards, and they’re really shiny and lovely! I’m kind of a nerd with how much I love new cards and promotional materials. However, it reminded me of something that’s been on my mind: I’ve run into quite a few artists in person or at shows recently who have no way to contact them. You need a business card!

“But! But!” I hear you say. You can give me whatever excuse you like, but if you are an artist, you want to get your work out there, and you want to network (hint: you should)… then you need a way for people to contact you.

At my very first show, I made the mistake of having no business cards.  There were several other artists and people I would’ve loved to connect with, but I had no tangible thing to give them with my info on it. After the first few hours, I ended up tearing up rectangular pieces of paper and writing in my info to try to give out. Yes, people took them, but did any of those paper scraps survive through the con and then home with the people who really wanted them? I doubt it. They’re easy to lose, tear, and get water damage.

Imagine if an art director had wanted my information about a potential job? I would’ve been mortified. (Of course that didn’t happen, but you see my point…)

“But I don’t have an online portfolio/website.” That’s ok, you can point them to your blog.

“But I don’t have a blog.” You really should, but even in this case that’s ok, you can list your email… or Twitter or Facebook, etc.

“But they’re expensive!” They don’t have to be. My latest cards up there were a fantastic deal. I use OvernightPrints for all of my card needs, and I got 500 double sided, full color, front glossy, rounded edge business cards for $36 including shipping… and I got them a week after I ordered them. They always have some sort of sale or promo code going on so you never need to pay full price.

Other cheap options are Staples and VistaPrint. I haven’t used those services for cards personally, so your mileage may vary.

“But I don’t want to have 500 cards in this design, I’m building a website soon/rebranding soon/changing my email soon/whatever….” A lot of places require you to print at least 250, so a good option for smaller runs is the print-at-home snap apart cards

My very first business card (the purple one with the butterfly above) was that kind. The pack gets you 250 cards for under $10, and there are 10 cards to a sheet. This means you could print 10 cards each time, changing whatever you need as you go. 

The paper quality was quite nice. The design wasn’t good, but that’s my own fault. It got the job done when I was just getting started, though… and that’s what really counts.

Do you have business cards? Feel free to share pics of them in the comments!

How to Get your Children's Book Illustrated

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“I’ve been working on a children’s book for awhile now, and I’m ready for an illustrator.”
"Oh, my aunt has written a children’s book, are you interested in doing the illustrations?”
“My brother has a great idea for a kid’s book and is looking for possible illustrators.”

Have you heard these phrases before? Have you said these phrases before? Do you (or your friend or relative or neighbor) have a children’s book manuscript that has been toiled on for hours, painstakingly constructed, edited, and reviewed… and now it’s ready to be brought to life with beautiful watercolors, gouache, or digital paint? If so, then this guide is for you!

“Will you illustrate my children’s book?”

I get a lot of inquiries about illustrating people’s children’s books. It seems that everyone these days has an idea for a book or is working on a book– including you! Now you want to know if I (or another artist you like) can illustrate it for you.

Let me just stop you right there.

Yes, I mean red light, full stop.

You don’t need an illustrator.

Or rather, you don’t have to find one. Your publisher will find one for you. They have artists that they use regularly, and access to tons more if they’re looking to use new talent. As a matter of fact, publishers get pelted consistently with artwork samples, postcards, and book dummies from illustrators like me! Publishing houses have highly trained individuals called Art Directors who are able to select the best artist for the job once they’ve purchased your book. Plus, they save you the pain of coming up with contracts, negotiating, and paying the artist.

“But wait, I don’t have a publisher!”

Aha, and there is the meat of all of the emails, messages and phone calls that we artists get.

You’ve written your book and you assume that the next step is to get the entire thing illustrated before pitching it around. “It’s a picture book, therefore it needs pictures,” you say. I absolutely understand that; it’s a common misconception that I’m here to set straight. I mean, novels are fully finished before they’re pitched around, right? Why not your children’s book?

Well, the kid’s book industry is a little different. Consider this: a publisher gets a copy of your manuscript and– holy cow, it’s amazing! She’s floored, and she wants to hand you a three book deal right away! The only problem is that the manuscript came in with 32 illustrations, and they’re terrible. Terrible, awful, no-good, and very bad. Or maybe they’re great illustrations but they just don’t match your writing well.

She doesn’t want to buy the illustrations… but because they came in with the manuscript, they’re now tied together. Womp womp. Into the slush pile your book goes.

When you send in your manuscript with artwork, you now not only have to wow them with your writing, wow them with your friend’s/artist’s illustrations, and wow them with the two paired together. Frankly, you might both be amazing, but if the story and art aren’t well matched, it’ll be a no go.

It’s already difficult enough to have your voice heard in the absolute cacophony that is our world today– do you really want to make your chances at getting published smaller? Even if you really like the illustrator you’ve selected, the chances are your publisher will find a better match!

I’ll let the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators back me up here:

“Except in rare circumstances, it is seldom a good idea for authors and illustrators to collaborate together before publication.”(source)

Well, I just want to send in some illustrations as possible suggestions. Is that ok?

You can if you really want to, just be sure to note that in your cover letter. If you’ve never been published before though, I wouldn’t. And if you insist that your manuscript needs illustrations to be understood, well… I’ll let the SCBWI back me up again:

(…) If your manuscript doesn’t come to life visually without being explained, then it probably needs work.”(source)

An exception to this rule, however, is if your book is very high concept such as Press Here by Henré Tullet.

Ok ok, so how do I get published?

It’s a very similar process to how we illustrators get work in the kid’s book (or any) industry. Create content and submit it. Get rejections? Practice your craft, create more content, and submit again. Do your research. Only submit to publishers that are a good match for your work. Take a class, practice, create content, and submit again. If you’d like more information, check the links at the bottom of this article.

What if I’d rather self publish?

Self publishing is absolutely a viable option, but you have to know if it’s right for you. It’s an extremely expensive, difficult, and time-consuming option, even with the ease and availability of digital publishing in today’s market.

Let’s start with the most obvious cost: the illustrations. And yes, you need to pay for them. Please don’t offer “exposure” or profits as payment.

According to the GAG’s Handbook for Pricing and Ethical Guidelines (13th Edition), the appropriate price range for illustrating a 32 page hardcover book (including the book jacket) is anywhere from $3,000-$12,000+.

I’m sure you’re reeling from sticker shock, but that pricing is absolutely not something I bat an eye at. Doing artwork for a book is a really involved process. There’s planning, design, thumbnails, revisions, drawing, painting… each illustration will take a large amount of time, and art supplies aren’t cheap either.

And that doesn’t include printing costs (if you’re going with print instead of digital) or app building for iPad and Kindle (if you’re doing with digital instead of print).

I’m definitely not trying to discourage you, but you need a realistic picture of what this venture will look like. You will have to hustle, promote, and advertise for your book all on your own– it’ll take quite a bit of research and hard work to achieve.

Hard work? That sounds like me! Let’s DO this!

Well if you understand the expense and challenges ahead, by all means! Self publishing can absolutely be a way to succeed and be creatively fulfilled. It may actually be a better option for you depending on what you want to do with it! And if you need help with financing, Kickstarter is always an option.

No, I don’t want all those bells and whistles, I just want to create a nice keepsake for my kids.

That’s also totally fine! You can write the book, get it illustrated, then you can print a few copies with a POD (Print on Demand) service such as CreateSpace or Lulu.com. Since the book is mainly for personal use and you’ll be on a tight budget, you might try searching for a student instead of a professional to create your illustrations for you (but yes, you do still need to pay them). You could also try websites such as Fiverr or PeoplePerHour, but realize that you’re going to get the quality that you pay for.

In closing

I hope I covered all possible bases here, and that you found this guide helpful to you. A lot of kid’s book questions pop up because there are misunderstandings about the industry and process– but now you are more educated and can forge ahead to make the most amazing kid’s book that you can create!

If I missed any question that you have, feel free to leave a comment or email me. If you like this post, or know a friend who might benefit from the information, please feel free to share it.

Additional Reading

SCBWI – Joining the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators will give you access to wonderful resources, publishing house contact information, and a database of illustrator’s portfolios:

www.scbwi.org

Articles with further information about (NOT) submitting manuscripts and artwork together:

http://www.underdown.org/picture-books-illustrations.htm

http://danidraws.com/2009/01/22/how-to-find-an-illustrator-for-your-picture-book/

Information for getting published in the Kid’s Book Industry:

http://www.scbwi.org/frequently-asked-questions/

More information on self publishing:

http://www.scbwi.org/online-resources/the-book/

http://danidraws.com/2013/01/12/how-to-find-an-illustrator-for-your-picture-book-part-2-the-self-publishing-edition/

http://www.thecreativepenn.com/2011/08/13/how-to-find-an-illustrator-for-your-book/

Guide on contacting an artist you’d like to hire:

http://kmcmorris.blogspot.com.au/2015/04/self-published-authors-10-tips-on-how.html