Wednesday, February 22, 2012

REVIEW: Noah Bradley's The Art of Freelancing

During random  internet exploration of the fabulous critique site, WiPNation, I stumbled across a blog post featuring an article about Noah Bradley's Art of Freelancing.  I was instantly intrigued by the prospect of learning 'what the art schools didn't teach' and decided to give Noah's video a try after seeing a positive review at ArtOrder and listening to the free preview of the first 30 minutes posted on the site.

I was sold in that first 30 minutes with Noah's very up front approach to the hard truths of what freelancing really is.  It is oftentimes hard work, sleepless nights, and low pay, but most importantly one CAN make a living as a freelancer, if one is persistent!  Noah addresses commonly asked questions from novice freelancers, including but not limited to:

- How much do I charge?
- Where do I look for clients?
- What's in a contract?
- Where do I look for work?
- How does a portfolio review work?

There are a lot of questions answered that are useful for both beginners and advanced freelancers as well. Some of the discussions in this video that really impressed me were the more hazy aspects of the industry Noah addressed such as:

- What is the mindset of the Art Director?
- Is there such a thing as starting commissions too early?
- Why aren't you getting work?
- What is a freelancer's financial situation really like?

Many of these advanced discussions really forced me to turn my gaze inwards to my own work and be honest with myself as to where I need to improve and what strategies I need to employ for exactly how I can do so. I've also realized from this video some of the mistakes I have made as a developing freelancer.

For instance, I believe now after viewing this video that I started commissions far too early in my career.  I spent a lot of time making a quick buck over at DeviantART in my junior years when I should have been working hard on pieces I could put in my portfolio.  The internet never forgets your prices and the quality of that 'younger' work and it's taken me some years to get away from my amateur commission pieces, which only served to spread my reputation as someone willing to work for less and produce amateur work.

If I could start over, I would not have started taking personal commissions until my work was more refined so that I could have started at a more respectable level of perceived worth (which would have, in turn, helped me in asking more for my work currently, since I had become so used to asking for so little when I was younger).

But if there's anything to be learned from Noah's video, it's the message of hope that, while it may be challenging, freelancing is not impossible!  Especially not when we have the internet and easily accessible resources to share with one another.  As a plus, Noah's video comes with a link to a resource page where he shares recommended art communities, useful books, and more!  This site is to be constantly updated with new resources suggested by Noah and others, making it a useful collaborative learning tool that I will certainly be contributing to and referring to in the future.

Overall, I highly recommend this video for anyone serious about doing freelance art for a living.  Noah Bradley is a Scifi/Fantasy illustrator and concept artist, so there is a stronger focus on these aspects in the video, but there is something for every freelancer to take away from this video.  It may seem pricey at $57, but consider it an investment in your future career! I did and I am fully satisfied that this video is going to help me get to the places I want to be because it helped to fill so many gaps in my own experience that I didn't even know I had.

Brilliant video, brilliant artist, and brilliant learning tool!  I hope to see others doing more like this in the future to help de-mystify the mysteries of being a Creative Professional.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Book Review: The Art of Shadowscapes Tarot: Minor Arcana

Some of you might remember my review of The Art Shadowscapes Tarot: Major Arcana.  I've had the companion Minors book for some time and finally have a moment to put the spotlight on this colorful tome!  Minor Arcana follows a similar formula to the last Tarot collection, with the final paintings presented after a page or so dedicated to the developmental process of each piece.  The final paintings, all beautiful watercolors, are taken from the Tarot deck developed by Stephanie Pui-Mun Law.

The creative process of the artist presented in this book has always been the strongest selling point for me.  Pui-Mun combines a healthy love of mythology intermingled with the thought processes which went behind the revisions of each piece before it reached its final stage.  She discusses what was working with each piece (and what wasn't), which is perhaps the single most useful thing you can learn as an artist!

Minors takes this process a step further by also going into the creation of the Tarot deck as a whole.  This is especially helpful for those of us who might be planning our own Tarot decks, or any large series of images, on our own. For instance, Pui-Mun discusses establishing a particular color palette and defining symbols to characterize each particular suit so that each suit has a unity of theme and appearance threading through it that allows it to differ from the other suits.

Another advantage of this discussion is that once you understand Pui-Mun's thought processes on numerology, color, and symbols, it makes for an interesting second look at each final painting.  After the book, I was able to look at each painting in a whole new light to pick out the threads that bound each suit, which is quite a treat if you own the Tarot cards as well!

All in all, I would say have this book in your library because it's beautiful, artist or no.  For The Artist, this book is a great learning tool for the important skills of brainstorming, developing sketches, and learning to tie narrative themes into your work.

You can purchase this book directly from Stephanie Pui-Mun Law at her website.  Be sure to get the sketch option to make this even more of a lovely addition to your collection and to show your support of the artist.  I did and it's worth every penny!

A preview of a few pages of the book: