Dear Art Graduate Part 2

Dear Art Graduate,

Make a series.

Now that you're waiting for employment, what are you going to do with all that time on your hands? This is a good problem to have. You can stay proactive with your job search and still be invested in your personal projects. 

Post-graduation, my personal projects spanned a gamut of themes and narratives. Some pieces were developed for contests and others were just for fun. All were valuable in providing artistic growth, but they lacked memorability. If you want to be a commercial artist, memorability is essential to standing out among an ocean of highly-skilled fishes.

Think of your favorite artist (or any "famous" artist) and you will find that they occupy a certain niche. They are not limited to one subject or medium, but they make a lot of one thing: Monet's lily pads, Mucha's swirly-haired women, Keane's big eyes, the list goes on. Once that clicked for me, I realized the potential that a series of related pieces has. A series is far more memorable, especially if your stand-alone art typically runs the gamut like mine does. Furthermore, a series gives you more exciting monetization options: art books and zines, collectible card decks, postcard packs, and more!

You can start fairly small with a series. One of my more successful series is just three pieces. The idea started with my Monocle Mantis illustration, which achieved a fair amount of memorability on its own. I enjoyed the painting enough to create three more anthropomorphic insect humanoids. The enjoyment factor is huge because a series can burn you out otherwise. My Gentlebugs combined my love of insects and victorian fashion. The steampunk aesthetic doesn't hurt either, which made the artwork more marketable at conventions and art shows. 

If you are having trouble finding where to start, look at your sketchbook first. If your sketchbook is lacking, you can look at your existing body of work and see what content pops up most frequently. This is also the point to decide what the end-product will be. Think of the application for your series and how you might need to format your artwork accordingly. Next, set yourself a deadline and get started! 

Here are some illustrators who are seriously killing it with their current projects. Watch them like a hawk and learn their ways:

Stephanie Law's Descants & Cadences (You can learn her secrets here)

Peter Mohrbacher's Angelarium

Wylie Beckert's Wicked Kingdom Deck

Iris Compiet's Faeries of the Faultlines

Chris Seaman's Cameo Creeps

Just Browse the "Most-Funded" Section on Kickstarter