I sometimes remember that one of yall sent one of my egg cross stitches to a friend with no goddamn context and sent me a screenshot of their reaction in your product review and it makes me randomly laugh in the middle of the day cuz like.
What a fucking thing to receive contextless in a letter envelope
Making it in the art industry while being an artist from the 3rd world.
Hey friends, this is a post requested by my twitter followers and I’ll be talking about some FAQs.
Living in the 3rd world, a lot of us don’t have the facilities that many in America, England and other countries take for granted like Paypal. I’m gonna be providing some alternatives that might help you.
***PLEASE take whatever I say with a pinch of salt and be aware that it might not apply to you. I’ll be talking entirely from my own personal experiences***
How do I get a following?
I’ll tell you how I got mine, this could work for you and it also might not. Before twitter i had 3k watchers on deviantart, 300 of them migrated with me to twitter. I’ve been posting my art online since I was 12, (so that’s more than 13 years now) and it was only recently, 2017~ish that my following started growing.
I was in some fandoms and did fanart initially which bumped my twit following to 3000. After that I dropped the fanart completely and started working on my original illustrations.
Here is the first drawing I did that got 5k likes, which was massive for me at the time:
I really don’t know why it got that popular, i think it’s something people hadn’t seen before and it resonated with them so they were inclined to share it. Making very detailed environment art has sort’ve become my brand now.
After this drawing, the next environment illust I posted was this:
And on its own it got 13k likes, a massive jump from the first.
Making a brand for yourself on social media is so important in my opinion. You really need to focus on what sets you apart. Skill, while important, is not the main reason that gets ppl to share your work. There are many skilled folks that will never make it on social media. Those who have big followings have 1 thing in common: they’re very good at marketing.
You don’t need photorealistically rendered art, but I do encourage you to learn the basic fundamentals (anatomy, perspective and colour theory) these are my big 3. Anyway back the the point:
When you think of your fav artists, i’m sure at least 1 thing stands out to you that is unique to their work.
Using meyoco and gabriel picolo as examples, their art is extremely unique. When I see a meyoco or picolo drawing I can immediately tell even without reading their username that they’re the one who made it. They have a solid brand.
Luck is ofcourse a huge factor when it comes to SM, but when you’re good at marketing, you can manipulate luck to be in your favour.
I’ve had to memorize my followers’ timezones so i can make sure to post when they’re all awake and what days they’re most active on. I interact with my followers very often and reply to them. I also ask them questions and have conversations with them, it’s all very important.
Another thing I wanna emphasize is learning how twit algorithm works. Twit wants to promote tweets that create a conversation. Replies are most important. Create art that will make people question, or straight up ask your followers stuff in the caption that will lead them to reply to you more.
Meme art is so popular, it’s totally ok I think to post memes and if they go viral, plug your art in the replies. (i don’t wanna hear ANYTHING from industry pros on how this is “ShAlLOW” following. It’s not. I’ve had ppl who followed me cuz of my funny tweets stuck around cuz they realised that I draw and my art appealed to them. They are dedicated followers that always leave me comments and support me now)
Lastly, you should always focus on improving your work, no one is above that. Your followers also want to see your growth and cheer you on.
How do I take commissions? Paypal doesn’t work in my country.
So I live in Pakistan. We don’t have paypal here. I personally use Payoneer and have found that it’s a solid alternative. It lets you create invoices that you can send to your clients and they can pay with a credit card (they CANNOT pay with paypal, or, at least they couldn’t the last time I checked).
I’ve found a quick fix to this, though. I have a Patreon account (will elaborate on this below), where I ask my commissioners to send a one-time donation of the commission amount, which they can pay with paypal, and I transfer it to my Payoneer.
My Payoneer is connected to my bank acc, and 90% of the time the service is very swift, and your funds reach your bank within 1-2 hours after you withdraw. In the unlikely instance where they take long (this has happened to me) You will have to go bug their customer support to open a ticket to investigate the status of your transfer. The customer support is.. Decent. They usually get back to you within 7 business days so feel free to draw your own conclusions about that.
They also offer a payoneer ATM card that I recommend you DO NOT get, because they are in partnership with a third party company which issues the cards. Recently the company was in legal trouble bc It was going bankrupt, so those who had the Payoneer card, their funds got frozen temporarily. On the off chance that this could happen again in the future, just don’t take that risk.
What’s the deal with Patreon? Should I set one up?
Patreon is a monthly subscription service where your followers can subscribe to receive exclusive content from you on a monthly basis. It’s a good service imo IF you already have a dedicated follower base that you know will pay to receive art from you that isn’t commission work.
I post PSDs there, sketches of my characters, short comics, etc. I’m in a unique spot where many people are already familiar with my original characters and want to see more of them, so you’ll have to personally evaluate your own follower base and decide if you should set up a patreon.
I won’t sugar coat it, its ofcourse easier to become more successful on Patreon if you have a big following. I have 144k followers atm, and only 250 patrons (tho this number is growing the more I advertise it), so you can see that percentage for yourself. But there are also people with smaller followings than me who have more patreon subs just bc I think they offer content that people are more likely to pay for (tutorials, speedpaints, brush sets, some spicy NSFW stuff, u know how it works)
I opened my patreon acc very long ago and the site was very different back in, it has me listed as a “founder” (wow, so special). The way tiers work and all are very different now, so I’m useless when it comes to this. You’ll have to task someone who opened an acc more recently about how the options and everything work now.
What’s an agent? Do I need one?
You don’t NEED an agent, but an agent is highly recommended. When it comes to illustration and graphic novels, a literary agent is someone who represents you and looks for work for you. They have industry connections that you don’t and they will send your portfolio out to the right people. They also have more knowledge of legal stuff, and companies these days are very predatory and will try to get the rights for your IP from you without you even noticing. Your agent catches the fine print in these contracts and fights for your rights. They also negotiate better pay for you.
You don’t have to pay an agent, if an agent comes to you asking for pay, they are a SCAMMER. An agent gets paid when you get paid, they get a percentage of your salary. 15% is the industry rate across the board.
Now, how to get an agent? The process to get an agent is extremely hard.
An agent is not your social media, they are a professional who works in the industry. They will look at your art from a professional lens, so depending on whether you want an illustration agent or a graphic novel (GN) agent, you need to go see what’s already on the market and evaluate whether your portfolio and skills are comparable. If it’s not, don’t worry, you can always improve, and now you have a goal to strive towards.
Once you’re sure that your portfolio is good, you can start looking for an illust agent (but not a GN agent, that’s different, i’ll talk about it below). You need to google search and find a list of agencies that look appealing to you. Look at the work they’ve published, do you see artists or books there that you like?
THEN, you make a list of agents from the agency who stand out to you. Be aware that agents typically have 1 genre of book or whatever they rep. So if you seek out a children’s book illust agent, they probably won’t be too helpful in landing you editorial illust spots in magazines.
Now you look at the guidelines on the agency’s page, look for “query form” or the equivalent. Each agency will have a slightly diff method that you will have to follow to apply but it’s usually, “link your portfolio and tell us about yourself.” You send in your Query to the agent who impresses you and then you wait for a response.
NOW, let’s talk about graphic novel agents. A GN agent, I find, is a little more tricky. Almost all GN agents i’ve seen so far, request to see a manuscript/synopsis of your story along with your portfolio. They’re basically taking it for granted that you’re also going to be writing the GN that you wanna draw.
This was exactly the case for me, so I personally cannot help you with the case where you’re just an illustrator and looking to illustrate a GN but not write one. There are many agents on twitter so try dropping them an @ asking about this OR if you know an artist who only does the art and doesn’t write the stories, drop them an @ and ask them how they applied for an agent.
The agent process for me personally was unusual. This is because, some months ago, a publisher had reached out to me FIRST, asking if I’d be interested in publishing a GN of my original characters. I asked around and was advised by everyone to first go look for an agent.
So because I already had publisher interest, it basically bumped up my query to the top of the agent’s list. Their whole job is to find a publisher for you, so if they know that publishers are already interested in your work, they will be more inclined to sign you.
I heard back from every agent I queried, and then hopped on the phone with them. In the end I found that the azantian literary agency was the best match for me.
(google them if u’re interested in querying, or researching what a Query form looks like. My agent Jen has put useful bullet points on the submissions page that can guide you about what goes into a query)
There are other very good agencies out there too, PS literary, Inkwell management off the top of my head. You can find many top 10 lists on google about good agencies and good agents. Do your own investigation before choosing the ones you’ll apply to.
The waiting game is insane when it comes to applying to agents. I will absolutely not sugar coat this. Many agents have thousands of queries that they’re going through at any given time. It could take months before they get to yours. Rejection is common, so don’t be disheartened and try again.
Keep in mind that if you get an american agent, they will look for work for you in America cuz that is the industry they know. If you want work in your own country, you can try finding a local agent. Tho for real go for those american jobs, you’ll make so much more money cuz of the exchange rate.
How do I sell my merch?
There are many services that print your art and ship it for you so you won’t need to do that yourself. These services are also based in america so you don’t have to worry about international shipping fees and mail getting lost (our postal systems are trash i know).
I use teepublic personally. The drawback is that you earn a very small amount from each sale. If a print is $30, you will make $5 off it. But still, it’s better than nothing. It’s up to you to consider if it’s worth it. It was worth it for me cuz i don’t need to put in the labour of searching for a printer, getting tests, packing the art and mailing it myself.
Teepublic links to payoneer as well.
What should I price my commercial art at?
This is super tricky and I’m not sure I have an answer for you. Every single job is so different, I would personally recommend to seek out an artist who has done a job similar to the one you’re considering (or if someone has asked you to work for them) and ask them how much they charge.
https://twitter.com/litebox_info is a twitter account that keeps a spreadsheet of competitive industry prices that ppl have been paid in the past. The link is in their pinned tweet so check it out.
This is another reason why I would recommend applying for an agent. They know industry prices and will fight for the best rates for you.
How do I contact an art director?
So i’ve personally never had to contact an art director. The way my career has gone, I make most my money from commissions from twitter and patreon.
A lot of it does only apply to Americans, but it’s still very useful. If someone reading this is from a 3rd world country and wants me to add their experiences of contacting ADs, please let me know and I will add your info here.
If theres something i’ve missed out that you would like me to talk about, please let me know and i’ll add it.