Come Hear My Presentation at the CTN Animation Expo

The CTN Animation Expo is without a doubt a “must-see” event for anyone interesting in working in the animation industry. On Nov. 16-18, 2012 hordes of animation lovers will once again be descending on the Burbank Marriott Convention Center for three days and nights of animation goodness. There’s still time to register if you’d like to attend.

Just like last year I’ll be giving a presentation on freelancing called “Be Your Own Boss: Freelancing Tips and Tricks”. Here’s a summary:

In the current economy more and more companies are hiring artists as freelancers. Unfortunately many talented people wind up earning less than they could, or miss out on opportunities altogether, because they haven’t understood the business side of being an artist.

Cedric Hohnstadt has owned an illustration studio for over fifteen years and has created work for end clients such as Hasbro, Disney, DreamWorks, Coca-Cola, Verizon, Best Buy and Target. After working on hundreds of client projects he’s learned a lot of business skills the hard way and now he’s here to pass on some of that info on to you. He’ll discuss how to know if you are cut out for freelancing, how to promote yourself, how much you should charge, how to talk to clients about money, and look at different areas where an artist can find work outside of the animation industry.

My presentation is scheduled for Saturday, November 17 at 12:00 noon in the Exec Boardroom. It’s classified as a Workshop which means that seating is limited and that the Expo organizers have tacked on a very small extra charge to attend. I’m not sure about this year but last year it was only $5. I’ll try to cram as much info in as I can and afterward we can all go down the hall for an informal Q&A session, so you should definitely get your five bucks worth. Last year my talk sold out so don’t wait too long to sign up.

As a freelance illustrator and character designer I draw a lot of inspiration from the animation industry. This talk is my humble way of giving a little back. I hope to see you there!

Professional Advice From Al Jaffee

Famed illustrator and MAD Magazine cartoonist Al Jaffee on being a professional illustrator. Well worth two minutes of your time:

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I Hired A Business Coach For My Illustration Studio

One of the things they don’t teach you in art school is just how many business skills are required to run a successful illustration studio. Talent is not enough. You also need to get a firm grasp on some basic business principles. With no formal business training I’ve had to learn an awful lot of things the hard way, picking up as many tricks as I can “on the street”. I’ve also read more than a few business books and every year I attend the Creative Freelancer Conference.

Those things have all helped, but recently I’ve found myself in need for something more. My business has plateaued, even stagnated a little. I’ve been landing some big clients, which is great, but I’ve found myself asking “Now what?” Conventional wisdom is that to charge higher rates you should specialize—pick one industry to focus on (i.e. toy design, animation, etc.) But which one? And what about the future — do I still want to be working alone doing illustration twenty years from now? Is that even possible, or will younger, less expensive up-and-comers edge me out? Should I look at ways to grow and maybe even take on employees? How would I go about that? Is it possible to run a creative business and still have time to be creative? On top of it all, my studio was in desperate need of a re-brand (new website, logo, etc.) so it was a good time to really step back and examine things.

With all these questions swirling in my mind, I decided to take things up a notch and hire a business coach.Read More

See You At The Expo!


Tonight I’m flying to California for the CTN Animation Expo. Can’t wait! Before I leave I wanted to post a few items of interest:

1. Update on my freelancing presentation.

I’ll be giving a talk at the Expo on Saturday, November 19, 4:30pm, called “Be Your Own Boss: Freelancing Tips and Tricks”. In an earlier blog post I said the talk would be 30 minutes. It will actually be an hour and fifteen minutes. Tickets to my talk are sold out but I’m told that when my presentation is over I can move everyone over to another room in the building (not sure which one yet) for an ongoing Q&A. If you weren’t able to get a seat at my talk you can still catch the Q&A. Just wait around outside the Exec Boardoom at around 5:45pm so you can join us as we file out.

2. Check out Stephen Silver’s new “Posebook” app.

Speaking of the CTN Expo, the amazing character designer Stephen Silver will have a booth there again this year. He’s got a new project that I think is pretty neat: He’s creating a new series of iPhone/iPad app for artists called Posebook. It’s a collection of professional costumed models in over 2,000 full-body poses (no nudes), hands, and close-up facial expressions for sketching. There’s also 6 instructional videos included as well as 25 sketches from some top character designers in the biz. That’s a lot of goodies for $9.99.

The first volume, “Males”, has just been released on iTunes. The second volume, “Females”, is coming soon. I recently downloaded the app and can’t wait to give it a try. Once the dust settles around here I plan to post a review along with a sketch or two. But from what I can tell so far it’s a great product.


3. I’m being interviewed on “On The Box”.

Several years ago I illustrated a cartoon Gospel tract for the ministry of Living Waters which has consistently been one of their best sellers – over 5 million copies have been printed in English and it has been translated into 20 languages. Last year, with the help of some talented animators I produced an animated version of the tract which to date has had over 300,000 hits on YouTube.

While I’m in California Living Waters has graciously invited me  to do a short video interview on their webcast, “On The Box”. It will air live on Thursday, November 17 (11:30am Pacific) and then be uploaded to their YouTube channel for future viewing.

Gotta go pack my bags. I’ll be back in the studio on Monday, November 21.

My Freelancing Presentation is Sold Out, You Can Still Catch The Q&A

I’ve been informed that seating for my presentation on freelancing at the 2011 CTN Animation Expo (Saturday Nov. 19, 4:30pm in the Exec Ballroom) is sold out. I’m pretty sure there are still tickets available for the Expo as a whole, and most of the terrific speakers and panel discussions are still free to all attendees. But mine was one of a few that had limited, pay-per-seat seating and all those seats are now filled.


If you didn’t get a seat you don’t have to despair completely. I only have a half hour an hour and fifteen minutes to speak and I’m going to be trying to cram an awful lot of material into that time. If people have questions or want to talk more about freelancing I’m told that I’ll be able to move everyone into a separate “Q&A room” after the presentation to keep the discussion going. I’m not sure where that will be exactly but if you hang around the Exec Ballroom at a few minutes before 5pm about 5:45pm you can join us as we file out and move on to the Q&A location.

Only Three Spots Left In My Freelancing Workshop at the CTN Animation Expo

On Saturday, November 19 I’ll be giving a presentation at the CTN Animation Expo entitled “Be Your Own Boss: Freelancing Tips and Tricks“.

I had assumed my workshop would be open to all attendees but I’ve recently been informed that my presentation is part of a limited series of workshops that are pre-pay only. Most of the seminars at the Expo are still free to attendees (and there are an awful lot of good ones to choose from) but the organizers have designated mine as one of a few for which seating is limited and there is an extra fee to get in.

In my case the fee is a very affordable $5. In case you are wondering, no this isn’t a scheme for me to make a few bucks. It wasn’t my decision and none of the money will make it into my pocket. Somehow I doubt the organizers are getting rich either. These events are massive undertakings and very complicated to organize. Considering the enormous time and effort they put in to make the Expo such a great event they deserve every penny they can make off of it.

I’m told that you’ll have to log back in to your registration account in order to sign up and pay for the extra workshops. I’d include the login URL but my computer just went through a complete wipe-and-reinstall of the entire operating system and at the moment I can’t find it in my backups. If you signed up for the Expo the organizers should have sent you a link. EDIT: According to CTN you log in to buy the tickets here.

I’ve also been told that there are only three open spots left for my workshop, so if you want to get in you’d better act fast! Hope to see you there!