Entrepreneurship & Drawing

Entrepreneurship and owning your own business is a lot like drawing and making art. It is constant trial and error. You are always evaluating and correcting your course or path.

When you draw, you make a mark, or shape, or series of marks on the page. Then you look at what you are trying to draw. You look back at your drawing and go, “Hmmm, this line or shape doesn’t look quite right.” So you erase the line and make another, improved mark. You repeat this process again and again, constantly correcting, until you feel the drawing is finished. By nature of the process, the artist is constantly adjusting and changing course.

The same is true in business. You try one marketing strategy. It doesn’t work as well as you had hoped. So you try something else. Your new strategy sort of works, so you adjust, and try to improve your strategy. You repeat this process again and again, constantly trying to improve your product or income.

I thought about this after making my goals for 2019. I evaluated my marketing from 2018, and tried to improve or change it. My physical mailer worked, so I am increasing the frequency this year. My Etsy shop is sort of working, but could be a lot better. So I am trying a physical space this year.

Evaluate and adjust.

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Monoprint Series

I recently learned how to do monoprinting (a method of printmaking where you only get one unique print per plate). To practice this new skill, I have decided to work on a new art series, of building or architecture details. My first monoprint is of a downtown building detail from my trip to Seattle. I have since been collecting photos and doing small watercolor studies of interesting architecture that I see.

This is the watercolor painting I worked from for my first monoprint.

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This is the first print I pulled of my monoprint plate.

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To create the image, I started by scratching a simple line drawing into the plexiglass plate. Then I rolled the whole plate with etching ink. Once the plate is completely covered in ink, you use a rag to wipe off ink from larger areas (I started with the background area). For very white areas, you use a Q-tip to wipe off the ink. For some of the finer white lines, I used a chopstick. If you wipe off too much ink, you can always apply more ink again with a brayer. I did this on the background, because in my first attempt I wiped off too much ink, in too many directions. Every stroke and brayer mark, you will see in the final print. I really enjoyed the process, it is very painterly and expressive.

After pulling the print, I pulled a “ghost” print, which is another print, without doing anything to the plate. You print with whatever ink is left on the plate, resulting in a lighter image. I then added watercolor to the print, after it was dry.

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I will post more images as I create them, so stay tuned for updates on this project! It will probably be a long project, as I am thinking of turning it into a solo show.

2018 Review and Goals for 2019

December was a planning month for my business. I did an evaluation of 2018, what worked, what didn’t work. I split my business into three parts: Illustration, Gallery Work, and Products/Etsy Shop.

Illustration – Postcard mailer was successful. Got two repeat clients out of it. Financially was so-so, I broke even on my marketing costs. For 2019 I plan to increase my mailer frequency to at least twice a year for editorial clients. I also plan to send a mailer to book publishers in 2019.

I also did an evaluation of my marketing costs. I added up the numbers, and one postcard mailer costs roughly $300. This cost could be lower depending on what items I get printed. The coasters I made were the most expensive to print.

Marketing plan for Illustration – I plan to send out a postcard mailer in the first quarter and third quarter. I also plan to research book publishers, and develop a mailing list that I can mail a promo postcard to.

Gallery Work – My group show at Dundarave was well attended. Didn’t make any sales from the November show, but I did have sales from the gallery in the summer and fall. Overall, Dundarave has been good for me both developing as a printmaker, and selling my art.

There are three all member group shows at Dundarave in 2019. I also would like to work towards a solo show proposal for 2020. There is a printmaking residency in Milan, Italy that I plan to apply for. It is a month long residency, and they pay for your rent and also give you spending money for travel, food etc. I also plan on keeping an eye out for the Vancouver Art Gallery Art Rental program application.

Products/Etsy Shop – I have had lots of positive feedback for my blog, so that is encouraging, that people read it and enjoy it. I have had sales from sending product announcements via e-mail. So e-mail marketing for my shop has been successful. Also the notebook I designed was pretty popular, so I will definitely make more notebooks.

Pacific Market is a new Vancouver based artist shop that just opened in December. You can rent space for four weeks at a time. It’s in a good location (Broadway and Granville area) and priced reasonably. I plan to apply for space in the second quarter, and give it a go for four weeks. In 2019 I also plan to research licensing your artwork, as a way to earn passive income.

I also need to upgrade my computer and software in 2019, so that will be a big expense. I am planning to buy a MacBook Pro, this way my computer will be more portable, and I can do more work in coffee shops, which I really enjoy. My Photoshop is WAY out of date, and keeps crashing on me. So I worked backwards – to update Photoshop I need a new operating system. To update to a new operating system, my hardware is too old. So, new computer it is! My computer is pretty old anyway (8-ish years). Plus I think it would be nice to have a laptop, and be able to do more of my work in coffee shops.

So that’s what I have in the works for 2019! What are your goals for 2019?

 

 

Broken Pencil illustration

Recently I did some illustrations for Broken Pencil magazine, and another one of them has been published. This illustration was for a short story titled “The Trouble with Sisters”. The story is about two sisters and their relationship. One sister helped the other one out during tough financial times, but the help wasn’t appreciated. The sister is resentful towards her sibling, and part of the story is about her getting her revenge.

I had trouble with the concept for this story, so I think the illustration is so-so. These are the two roughs I sent to the art director.

The art director chose the purse illustration. This is the lino print of the purse.

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When carving the lino block, I forgot that the purse was white in the story. So I made the purse white in Photoshop instead, so I didn’t have to carve the lino block all over again.

This is the final illustration.

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Thanks for reading!

Four Days in Seattle – Part Two

Monday – Day Three

In the mornings during my trip, I started the day with a walk down the seawall, which was lovely. It was sunny most of the days while I was there. After my walk I would go to the original Starbucks and do a little painting. It was a nice, slow way to start the day.

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Monday morning I went to an underground tour, called Beneath the Streets. I learned they have one in Gastown in Vancouver too, so I might check that out sometime. Pioneer Square in Seattle, is where Seattle originally started. The pioneers built the town too close to the water, so when the tide came in, it flooded the streets, and was quite messy. A fire started in one of the shops, and burnt the whole town down. Fortunately the area that burnt down was only the merchant shops, the homes were further up the hill. No one died in the fire. The town considered the fire a fresh start, and re-built the town, fixing the mistakes they made the first time around. They re-built higher up from the water. We toured through tunnels left from the original town. Apparently the tunnels were used during the American prohibition to smuggle booze in to America from Canada. It was a really informative tour, and our guide cracked a few jokes along the way. Our group was quite small as well, which made it more personal. There is another company that does underground tours, but their groups are really large, like 50 people. Our group was maybe 15-20 people.

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Watercolor sketch of a detail of a building downtown Seattle.

In the evening I went to the David Sedaris talk. It was a fun night, his humor is quite in-your-face and blunt. It was very adult humor, so I’m not sure what the 12-year old kid sitting in front of me thought. David read journal entrys that haven’t been published yet, it was nice to hear new content. He also read a speech he gave to a graduating class of a university.

Tuesday – Day Four

The last day in Seattle, I didn’t have anything planned for the day, so I asked the staff at the front desk, and they recommended checking out Capitol Hill, which is a trendy/hipster shopping area. It was a bit of a walk from the hostel, but it was nice outside. I also tried to find Volunteer Park, which is supposed to have good views of the city, but I didn’t find it. I stopped in a coffee shop and did some painting; there were two other artists there drawing and painting as well, so we had a little art party going on at one of the larger tables. It was cool. During my walk around Capitol Hill, I also found a chocolate shop (See’s Candies), which gave me a generous sample of one of their treats. Later in the afternoon, I went to Fran’s Chocolates, where I got another generous sample of one of the chocolates.

In the morning during my painting time at the Starbucks, I had a neat little experience. I was painting away at my table, and an elderly couple sat down next to me. They became very interested in what I was doing, and we chatted and joked a little bit. The husband asked me if the coffee helped my drawing at all, and I said, yes, it does! I started painting one of the other customers in the Starbucks, and halfway through my painting, he got up and left. The wife said, “Uh Oh!”, and the husband said, “Do you want me to ask him to sit back down?”. We had a chuckle. They were lovely, and wished me a good day when they left.

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Then in the evening, I took the train back to Vancouver. All in all, a very fun trip, and I had a good time.

Four Days in Seattle – Part One

This past weekend I took a short trip to Seattle, to see my favourite author, Neil Gaiman, do a talk. I also saw David Sedaris, but was mostly excited to see Neil Gaiman. The events were in the evening, so I had the daytime to explore Seattle. I stayed in a hostel called the Green Tortoise (excellent hostel, would recommend it). They had a kitchen for people to use, and fridges to store food in. Nice common area to hang out in, and the front desk staff were super helpful. The hostel was right by the Pike Place Market, and across from the original Starbucks, so that was cool to be right in the tourist hub.

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Saturday – Day One

I arrived in Seattle around lunchtime, and had a few hours to kill before checking into the hostel, so I explored the area around the hostel a bit. Pike Place Market was crazy busy, so I didn’t spend too much time there that day. I went down to the waterfront (a block or two away from the hostel) and walked down the seawall. Saw the famous ferris wheel, and walked down to the Olympic Sculpture Park. Also checked out the Gum Wall (literally walls covered with gum, not sure why this is a Thing).

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This is a watercolor painting of one of the sculptures in the Sculpture Park.

Sunday – Day Two

Sunday morning I went to the Museum of Pop Culture. They had a special Marvel exhibit on, which was amazing. Costumes that the actors wore in the movies and TV series (Iron Man, Daredevil, Captain America, Black Panther, Thor, etc). There was also a lot of original comic art, which was probably my favorite part of the exhibit. Some of them were from the 1950s. I saw artist’s work that I learned about in my History of Illustration class in university, like Jack Kirby. There was also comic work from Frank Miller, who I admire. It was neat to see the original work, because it was pre-digital era, so everything was literally pasted together, and there was a lot of white out used, and notes in the margins for the press people.

These are some watercolor sketches from the exhibits at the museum. Iron Man costume, and Gimli’s axe from Lord of the Rings. There was a Fantasy exhibit too, which was really interesting. Movie props and costumes from LOTR, Wizard of Oz, Princess Bride, to name a few. There was also an original Dungeons and Dragons book, which was cool. I learned that Dungeon and Dragon characters were originally based on LOTR characters, like hobbits. Then it was changed because there was a conflict between LOTR and Dungeons and Dragons.

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After MoPop, I wandered around for a bit and stopped for some beer at Seattle Beer Company, which had all Washington craft beers. I tried Bruski Patrol Dark Lager, Lucky Envelope Raspberry Sour, and Pyramid Coffee Ale. My favorite was probably the coffee ale, although the sour was really good too. I also discovered a letterpress shop, and talked to the shop attendant there about printmaking. She also does etching, so we exchanged instagrams.

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Then in the evening, was the Neil Gaiman talk. It was AMAZING. Neil didn’t really do a talk per se, but instead answered audience questions that had been collected beforehand in the lobby. He also read from some of his books, including Good Omens, Norse Mythology, and Trigger Warning. He talked a little bit about his writing process, which I found interesting. He said if he is writing a particularly dark book, he will switch to writing a children’s book for a while, then go back to the dark book, so his mood doesn’t get too dark. He also mentioned he uses different color fountain pens, and writes his first drafts by hand in a notebook. He uses different colors so he can see how much he has written on a particular day. His second draft is done by transcribing his handwritten writing onto the computer, and this is where he starts his editing process.

Sunday was a full day, but by far my favorite day of the trip.

Stay tuned next week, for the last two days of my trip.