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How To Make Money With Your Art
Learning how to draw comics is an incredible endeavor that demands the greatest amount of drive and passion to succeed. For many of us, we don’t have a choice – we have to pursue it. Drawing comics is in our blood!
But setting that passion aside, is it actually possible make a living doing what we love? Is it possible to make a decent amount of money from our art work – and if not – is it even worth it to spend years harnessing our craft to barely make rent and pay the bills?
We hear so much about the hardships of struggling artists, that we assume it’s going to be the same for us. That drawing comics will always be a labour of love.
But do we really have to give up on our dreams in order to achieve financial stability? Or can we actually make good money with our art work?
In this video, I explain why making money from your art is not only realistic, but why there’s never been a better time to make money from your art work then right now - AND how you can start planning out a strategy to do so immediately!
This is a serious issue that can discourage or even cripple the ambition of many aspiring artists permanently.
But in today’s world, your artistic abilities are a sought after commodity that have the potential to leave a phenomenal impact in the world of entertainment, and in the minds of your audience.
The patience, dedication and practice is all worth it – if you’ve got the right game plan.
I hope you enjoy this video and get some valuable insight out of it.
Keep on creating!
Thanks for watching!
Software Used: Manga Studio
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Hey it’s Clayton, welcome to how to draw comics .net. In today’s video, I’m going to talk with you about how you can make money with your art work. Weather that be by creating your own Comic books or through art commissions from clients or through starting up your own full blown studio.
But first, just for full disclosure – what I’m about to share with you here is based on my own experiences, thoughts, and ideas and I’m not making any guarantees that what has worked for me is necessarily going to work for you. I do want to shed some light on the issue however from my point of view, for those out there who are kinda sitting around wondering whether or not pursuing art as a genuine money making career is actually a worthwhile endeavour.
This video was actually inspired by another video that Robert Marzullo put out about a week or so back on a similar topic. So go check out his channel aswell if you like, he’s got some brilliant content that delves deep into the creation of Comics as well as some digital art tutorials.
But what really inspired me to create this video I think was a conversation I had with a couple friends of mine over the weekend that delved into whether or not making money from your art work was even the right angle to look at it from? As in, to be a true artist shouldn’t you do it for nothing more than the love and joy of it?
By the way, before we jump into this, the timelapse demo in front of you is going to show you the process behind a comic book illustration I drew up late last year for my upcoming fundamentals course on Figure drawing.
In this particular part of the introduction I talk briefly about how even the most complex, and intricately detailed illustrations begin with a very barebones structure. Which is often something that you don’t always realise when you’re looking at the final product. Between you and I though, the second pay off to creating this illustration was having a good excuse to draw up a monstrous, mutated brute fighting a delectable diva. Seems a bit one sided I know, but this chick is actually packing some serious fire power, as you find out in the next frame.
This was one of the few sequential pieces that I’d put out in years which as you can imagine was super fun to tackle. In fact after I’d drawn it up I was so tempted to just put the How to Draw Comics stuff aside for a while, and focus purely on my own comic book project.
However I love teaching just as much.
You know, drawing comics all day, it can be a very solitary experience. And I think for me I need that human interaction on some level otherwise I start to go nuts. So teaching this stuff gives me that. I get to be there, doing what I love, and teaching others how to do it as well. It’s incredibly challenging, and rewarding beyond words. Plus I’ve learned and developed so much myself along the way. It almost makes me thankful that I hadn’t started my own Comic Book Project sooner, because of how much my art work has refined itself and changed over the years.
That said, creating my own comic book series is obviously something I’m going to have to do for myself someday. For now though – it’s all about you! And I want to really build How to Draw Comics .NET into one of the most valuable learning resources out there for aspiring artists just like you and me. Because honestly I know what an impact something like that can have on someone wanting to learn this stuff.
When I first started getting serious about taking my skills to the next level, if I searched for How to Draw Comics in the webrowser, I’d maybe get a hand full of half decent websites pop up. The internet was still coming into bloom back then, but honestly, not a lot has actually changed in terms of the availability of educational comic art content out there. Of course the other alternatives were the Comic Art books by Christopher Heart and How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way, which were in all honesty really good. In fact I still flick back through them occasionally, if even just to be inspired by the cool art work and nifty tips and tricks they had tucked away in there.
But I guess that was what inspired me to create an entire website like that. And it just seemed like that from the moment I began this 4 yearlong project to date, I had an endless well of passion for it. As far as I can figure it, I can only chalk it down to that combination of being able to pursue my artistic passions, and that incredible feeling of giving back through teaching others.
Some of the best gems I discovered in those How to Draw Books or the courses I watched by artists such as David Finch over the years - I still hold onto today. Those teachers became part of my artistic journey and I’ll always remember how much of an impact they had not just on my art work, but how much they drove me to succeed. They made me believe it was possible. And now, after coming all this way, all I have left is this insatiable want and need to give back to you in the same way. To become part of your artistic journey to help you succeed in your passions and to inspire you.
Anyway – let’s jump into today’s topic. Because something that holds us back from really conjuring up the motivation and dedication we need to learn and get good at drawing is of course weather or not it’s a viable endeavour in the first place. And the first question we need to ask ourselves is whether or not it actually needs to be viable?
After all, at the end of the day, we are talking about art here aren’t we? Should money even be a factor?
Well unfortunately, yeah, money is a big factor. Especially if you live outside of home, or you have a family, car, and bills to pay. That’s just as the base level too, without any extras added in on top such as you know, Friday night drinks with your friends, pocket money for your comic books and action figures, or tickets to the game if that’s your thing. See money gives you options, and without it, those options begin to disappear very fast.
Some might say that hey, that doesn’t matter – because it’s all about the love of art – and to be a true artist you’ve got to be sacrificing yourself to the art by whatever means possible, even if that means squatting in some dump and bin diving every other day to feed yourself while you draw on the footpath with chalk for change.
I’m not saying that there’s anything wrong with that either. And I think if that person is 100% fulfilled and happy, then I don’t think anyone else can either. The problem is, we either think that we’ve got to live on a shoe string to pursue our artistic passions, or we’ve got to give it up completely and forget it in order to earn a decent living.
But what many don’t realise is that you can have both! You can have a regular 9 to 5 job, and still come home at the end of the day and work on your art. It’s not that crazy! Assuming you make it home by 6 or so, and turn in around 11 or 12 – that’s a good solid 3 to 4 hours of draw time you can fit in every single day. At minimum, 28 hours a week spare to draw whatever you want!
Or even better, you can pick up some casual work. It’s not as secure, and not as many hours, but it still gives you a decent income that’ll help you take care of the necessities while still giving you more hours in the day to focus on your artistic passions.
Here’s the real ideal we all wish we had in reality though. To earn a living doing what you love. For some, that forever remains a distant dream, for others a rare lifestyle few ever get to experience. But this idea, that you can’t or are rarely able to make money from your art is just not true. And it comes down to a simple mind frame reset.
If you want to start making money from your art, stop calling yourself an artist and start calling yourself a business man. You don’t create art. You create a product. And I know that this might seem a little soulless to say. I get it. But this is the reality of it, and we’ve got to grow up, cut the bull shit and take on a more mature mind set if we want to really live the dream.
Because guess what. It’s not all that bad! Sure you’re paid by clients to create something for them that they want – weather you’re working under an art director in a studio or you’re creating your own comics for your customers. And maybe they don’t care about what you want to draw, they only care about what they want you to draw. Makes sense. You’re not going to pay someone for something they want you to have, you’re only going to pay them if they’ve got something you want.
But most of the time – the people who hire you in the first place are probably going to get you on board based on what they’ve seen in your portfolio. Which means they probably love your style, and the kind of art work, and themes you work in already. So chances are, they’ll be getting your to do things for them that you already enjoy doing anyway – Except they’ll be paying you for it! Same with your audience. They’re going to love buying the comics you create for them, because they already love your art, and the kind of themes, genres and styles your art work depicts.
You’re creating art work, based on what other people want – but really, they’re just paying you to do the kind of stuff you enjoy doing anyway.
As artists, we’ve got to realise that what we have to offer is a commodity that other people hopefully want so bad they’re willing to pay us for it. If they don’t want it, they won’t pay. And they certainly won’t pay you money for just doing what you want to do. If that were they case everyone in the world would be rolling in cash all the time.
Okay, so we’ve got the mind frame – you’re a business man, an entrepreneur, with something of value, a specialised service to offer. But what can you do with that? How can you actually make money with your art work? Because we hear so much about the life of struggle and hardship an artist goes through to earn ends meat and how unrealistic it is to pursue art in the first place – so beyond this mind set, is it all worth it?
Absolutely. In fact, I almost find it unbelievable that this old way of thinking, that art isn’t going to ever earn you a decent living is still brought up. Because the reality is that if you put the time and effort into developing your skills to a professional level, it’s going to open up more doors for you than almost any other skillset.
If you learn how to draw Comics for example – not only are you able to pursue a career as a professional, freelance or individual comic book creator, those same dynamic drawing skills that you’ve developed can get you hired in storyboarding, concept design, logo design and illustration for any number of comic book companies, movie and animation studios, advertising agencies, bands, or regular businesses who just want a kick ass looking logo.
And I can tell you from my personal experience, that I’ve been commissioned to do work in almost all of these areas based on my portfolio. The last video game I was working on – I was hired to draw comic book styled fantasy characters. The last logo I designed was literally a super hero version of the CEO of an electrical testing company. So I was being paid to do what others wanted me to do, but in the context of the kind of art work I already loved to create… for example no one would ever look through my portfolio and commission me to draw My Little Poney.
Setting all of that aside, all the commission and client work… in this day and age there’s never been a better opportunity to start up your own studio and create your own products. Weather that be providing outsourcing services to other studios, creating your own products from comics and posters, to t-shirts and fridge magnets, to educational products like myself – you can do all of it for very little money up front. Today, you could create a free website, through wix or squaresoft, upload your comic book to gum road and start earning money from it tomorrow. For free.
The reason that there’s such a huge demand for artists in this day and age is because our society, at least in the western world is hooked on entertainment! Video Games, Tv Shows, Movies, Cartoons, Comic Books – you name it! And all of these entertainment productions have a massive amount of money being pumped into them because of it. But with that kind of investment, they can’t afford these productions to be a flop, which is why they’re willing to pay big dollars to people like you and I do design, and visualise how every facet of that production is going to look, before it even gets off the ground.
Comics specifically are a different story I guess, because there are some pretty low page rates out there, and many comic artists do get underpaid big time. Which personally, I do think is something that needs to change drastically, beginning with the artists themselves knowing what they’re art and time is worth, and not under charging out of fear of losing a gig or two. This is personally why I believe, when there’s never been a greater time to publish your own Comic Books and never been more knowledge on setting up a website and marketing your creation than there is now – for a very low price digitally – why not cut out the middle man altogether and create your own comic books?
With the internet becoming an ever more potent presence in our lives, the world is changing. And if you live in the west, there’s a reason so many people are going out on their own and starting up their own businesses.
Now you might say, Clayton, I’ve done all that, and I haven’t earned a cent. It’s not as easy as you think it is. I never said it was easy. In fact, anything worth doing in life is never easy. And the thing you love most, that dream you want to make come true will demand the most dedication and sacrifice beyond anything else. You can’t just expect people to come to you and throw money in your face. They got to work jobs they probably hate from 9 – 5 to earn that money. So they’re going to be choosey about where they spend it.
So you’ve got to market yourself. You’ve got to put the time into connecting with your community and actually caring about them. They’ll know too, whether or not you’ve got their best interests at heart, weather you just want to drain their pockets, and whether or not you believe what you have to offer them is worth more value than what you’re asking in return.
You’ve also got to put the time into net working with others and creating the right connections. Work with your competition, partner up with those who are better then you and learn from them. Work with them to create something better than you could have created on your own.
So many people work against their competitors out of fear of losing their customer base. Out of insecurity and feeling threatened. And that’s a real tragic mindset to be coming from because it really only ends up placing you under a glass ceiling, while those who work together surpass you. Simply because they’re stronger than you together. They’re bouncing ideas off of one another, helping to promote each other, sharing research, figuring out how to help their customers more effectively so that they get real results in the fastest amount of time possible. That’s something which is impossible to do alone sometimes, no matter how good or how big you think you are.
This is where that more mature, business mindset comes into play and you begin to realise that developing your ability to draw, is only half of the equation. The other half consists of being a good empathiser, communicator and networker. It consists of knowing what product to create, producing it well, and putting in front of people so that they actually know about it. This by far is the most important thing you can do. And it works. You’ve got to have faith in that.
Because as you pursue your passions there are going to be times where you doubt yourself, where you begin to lose faith in what you’re doing. And it’ll be right as you reach the cusp of success that you doubt yourself the most. It’s at that point you’ve got to be your bravest and push yourself the hardest. Realise that most people will never have the balls to do that! Most people will tell you that it’s impossible. You’ll no doubt see it in the comments of this video. But understand that the only reason you’re going to cop those kinds of put downs from others, is that they have unfulfilled dreams of their own that they never had the courage to follow through on. And when they see you about to succeed where they never could, it makes them angry. It makes them sad. And deep down it makes them feel hurt.
Just the other day I was talking to someone about the difference between creating art for the love of it, and doing it for money. And she said something along the lines that if you do it for money, doesn’t that make you a sell out? And she was right in a way. It makes you a sell out in the same way it makes Stan Lee a sell out for creating the comics that inspire us, the same way it makes James Cameron a sell out for producing some of the most iconic Sci-Fi movies still around today, or any of the great musicians, actors or creators of our time who make a killer living doing what they love.
But you know what? I think that the only thing that makes you more of a sell-out than that, is not perusing your passions in life and making them financially sustainable so that you can do what you love every single day. What makes you more of a sell-out, is when you give up on your dreams and ambitions to work a soul crushing, 9 to 5 job down at the office. It’s easy to make money doing something your hearts not in, but to make money doing what you love – that requires hard work.
You’ve got to drop the excuses, eradicate the laziness, and work smart. Because working hard without a strategy isn’t going to help either. Lots of people work hard their entire lives and still never make it. But again, it’s because they don’t have that business mindset that gives you the kind of foresight you need to execute a plan that’s going to work.
All your favourite Comic Book artists – Jim Lee, Todd McFarlane, Marc Silvestri, David Finch – they didn’t get lucky. They worked their butts off and made the sacrifices. They decided not to take the easy route, but to take the hardest route they could possibly take, because for them it was worth it. They went out there and they made it happen, they were the exception amid everyone else that lacked the drive they had.
You rarely get a glimpse behind the curtain of those who reach success. And most of the time we think they just got lucky. But that’s just ultimately another excuse not to try. So you can do it! There’s no difference between you and them, you’ve got a brilliant mind, you have the same muscle and hussle they’re have, all that separates you is whether or not you’re willing to do what they were willing to do to make their dreams come true.
I think that there’s more opportunity out there for you than ever, right now, for you as an artist. The only catch is, you’ve got to form your plan of action and execute it. You have to make it happen! So don’t waste another moment. Make a list right now.
What could you do right now to begin making money from your art? Maybe you have to begin from the ground up and patiently dedicate a couple of months, or even years into harnessing your skills and developing your abilities while you work a part time job down at your local comic book store.
Maybe you set up a Red Bubble, Society 6 or Etsy store online to sell merchandise such as T-Shirts and posters with your art work on it? Then maybe you set up a fan page on Facebook or Website to Promote that stuff to your biggest fans.
You might reach out to your audience and tell them you’re available for commissions, or reach out to studios or potential prospects and offer your services. Maybe you work part time, so that you can fund your dream comic book project, and you figure out how long it’ll take to produce and how many hours a day you can dedicate to it.
The list goes on and on. And that’s the other thing I will mention while I think of it… when it comes to making money from your art work, there’s a huge potential to create multiple streams of revenue. So for example you might have your etsy store bringing in revenue, your gumroad store bringing in revenue, your freelance work, and the in-house contract work you might do at a studio bringing in revenue. That way, if one income stream fails, you’ve got a whole bunch of others there that are still bringing in the money.
As I mentioned earlier, this isn’t easy. Not only is it extremely hard work, it also takes time to gain momentum. It might take years. Which means you’ve got to be extremely patient aswell as driven. It all comes down to how badly you need to make this happen. In a sense it does have to be more about your passion than the money – even though the money is what is going to make your passion sustainable. In the beginning though, you’ve got to delay that immediate gratification and put in however much time it takes to get what you want to do off the ground.
And when it happens, you’re going to walk with a different kind of stride, there will be a glint in your eyes. You’ll have the demeanour of someone on a mission toward a worthy ideal. You’ll be kept awake at night, and wake up early in the morning because you’ll be excited about what you’re doing with your life. To be that content, happy and filled with purpose – is what makes pursuing your passion worthwhile.
I hope you enjoyed this video – I enjoyed making it for you. Because as you can probably tell this kind of thing is something very close to me heart. Growing up I was a stubborn kid, who was determined to not waste a minute of my life that didn’t contribute to my true purpose. Time was worth everything to me. And I was so determined to make a living doing what I love that I was willing to do anything.
And I did make sacrifices that came at a cost, in relationships, sometimes wellbeing, and in the career opportunities that laid before me. But I stuck at it, and most of the time I was freaked out about whether or not I’d made an awful mistake.
But now, you know what? Everyday I’m able to draw. I work hard, but I work my own hours, and whenever I see my friends and my loved ones they’re always met with a huge smile as I tell them about the stuff I’m working on, with enthusiasm. It was all worth it.
I’m certainly not someone who is ultra-well off. But I live comfortably and I’m grateful for what I’ve got – but nothing more so than the time I’ve earned myself to work on How to Draw Comics .NET so that I can build it into something great.
Thanks for watching – remember to give this video a thumbs up if you liked it, subscribe, and leave your thoughts in the comments below. I’d love to hear from you!
Keep on creating and until next time – see you later!
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