How To Bid Out A Project (Part 1)

Recently I was approached by a potential client to illustrate a coloring book. The artist she had originally chosen had backed out, so the deadline was now very tight. Since I was already committed to several projects I wasn’t available to help, but I gave her the name of a talented, up-and-coming illustrator whom I happened to know was in-between jobs.

A few days later, I received an email from the illustrator asking for advice. He had started writing up ideas for each page of the coloring book, and even did a few thumbnail sketches. The client liked his work and decided to hire him, but said she could only pay $10 per page! (A laughable sum, considering it would take the artist several hours to illustrate each page. She was essentially asking a skilled professional to work on a rush job for a fraction of minimum wage.) The artist was understandably upset and asked me what he should do.

I felt awful for having handed him a lemon, but decided the whole experience would make a nice springboard for a blog post. It’s an extreme example, but it illustrates the difficulty many artists have (especially those just starting out) when negotiating a freelance project.

Read More

Interview With Illustration Instructor Marshall Vandruff


Fanboy Radio is a weekly radio show/podcast devoted to comic books. I don’t really read comic books anymore, but the industry has some amazing artists whose work I enjoy following. Fanboy Radio interviews a lot of them, and it can be inspirational to hear the various creators talk about the industry and their work.

A few months ago Fanboy Radio did something a little different: they interviewed an art instructor. Marshall Vandruff is a gifted educator, and his classes on illustration, comics, and storyboarding are quite popular. Several of his students have gone on to make a big splash in the industry.

I listened to this interview on my iPod during a recent drive to Kansas City. I didn’t think an interview with an art teacher could be all that fascinating, but I was wrong. There is something about the way Marshall Vandruff talks that really inspires you and makes you want to strive to be a better artist. (He had some thoughts about skill versus talent that I thought were especially insightful). I can see why his classes are so popular. If I didn’t live halfway across the country I would definitely sign up for one.

You can listen to the interview on the Fanboy Radio website, or through this iTunes link (look for episode #395).

For more information about Marshall Vandruff, visit

Advice For Building A Career As An Illustrator Or Cartoonist

My friend and fellow illustrator Paul Fricke recently sent me a great link:

Advice for building a career as a freelance artist and/or paid cartoonist by Dave Roman

Dave Roman has been working at Nickelodeon Magazine for the last nine years. He is also a frequent lecturer at the School of Visual Arts. This article summarizes his advice for art students just starting out in illustration, comics, and/or cartooning. I’ve been freelancing for over ten years now, and I agree with what Roman has to say. His article is packed with good advice for the beginner (or even the not-so-beginner).

Along the same lines, here’s another great article I’ve blogged about before:

17 Lessons on Freelancing by Megan Jeffery.

Magazines added to Recommended Resources

I’ve added three magazines to my Recommended Resources link at

Communication Arts is a quality art magazine for creatives. It’s an expensive magazine printed on thick glossy paper, but it has a lot of good content. Several issues are themed around “annuals” (Design Annual, Illustration Annual, Photography Annual, etc.) which means that a big chunk of those issues contains the latest and greatest work being done in that media (at least, as judged by the editors). Lots of good content in the articles too.Read More

Putting Life In Your Poses


I recently purchased the special edition DVD of Disney’s Jungle Book. It is widely regarded as one of the all-time classics of animation. Not because of the story. The plot is so simple that the movie should be a total bore. The movie is revered because of the characters. They are so incredibly entertaining and delightful to watch that you can’t help but get caught up in the fun.

That is no small feat.Read More

Stuff I Recommend


I’m a huge collector of reference books. Among the dozens and dozens of books in my studio, there are a select few that I would highly recommend for any professional illustrator/character designer/animator to own. If you make your living drawing, this stuff can inspire you, boost your skills, maybe help advance your career or even increase your income. As part of my goal to make this blog a truly helpful resource for my readers, I’ve created a list on that organizes them under various headings. Categories include:

—Character Design
—Artist’s Reference
—Art Instruction
—Color Guides (for artists like me who struggle with color)

A link to the list will be permanently displayed on the blog sidebar.

In the interest of full disclosure I should mention that if you buy something from my list, will toss a few coins my way. I’m certainly not going to get rich off of it, but maybe it will be enough to buy a few extra cans of Monster Low-Carb.


While we’re on the subject, you may also have noticed the Tip Monkey that showed up on my sidebar a few days ago. I post new content every weekday primarily because I enjoy it. But it does take work. I want my blog to be a fun place, so no pressure. But if you visit regularly and if you’ve truly benefited from it, I certainly wouldn’t mind a small tip now and then. Either way, I’m grateful to have you reading.

Here endeth the sales pitch. Look for new, fun content again on Monday!