2015-Year in Review

Personal Work/Patreon
My Patreon support has dipped here at the end of the year but it was great for motivating me to work on my own stuff.  Now that I'm really shooting for book covers I think these pieces will help more than most of my regular client work would.






The Island


Client Work/Properties
At the end of the year I got to work on a huge property. One where I'll be able to drop it's name and regular people on the street might know what it is. That's really the first time I could say that. Here at the end of the year I've been able to get a couple book covers some of which I can't post the finals for yet so that's great.

Undercrypt Scar
Defensive Archers


Twilight of the Gods

Lucas Hale

Unhelpful Work
About 9/40 of the works I have released(more like 9 of 50 completed) from this year were unhelpful to my career and were just done for the money. There was also about a month and a half of hourly art work that I haven't released that doesn't really further my career either. I wish that number were better but I believe it is better than previous years if only because I did fewer pieces this year which meant I got to spend more time than usual on each piece.

I've heard that it's best to try to do a good job of participating in one community/social media  rather than try to tackle them all. So I've started trying to participate a little more and be more interactive with the community on DeviantArt. I've been giving a lot more critiques and plan to continue. 

I found some new tools this year that I'm loving. Paintstorm Studio is helping me to feel more comfortable when I'm making certain artwork. I'm always e-mailing the company reporting bugs or asking for features and they are great at fixing and implementing things.

I went to GDC and Spectrum this year and didn't do any of my normal conventions. Earlier in the year I was thinking that I needed to devote myself to video game stuff if I wanted to make money so I went to GDC. I really didn't have the portfolio together to get that kind of work and it wasn't nearly the venue for landing work that it was 8 or so years ago. So while that was a waste of money it had a big effect. It made it clear that I needed to make a very specific portfolio to get the video game work I wanted. The problem was I really couldn't see myself being motivated enough to make that kind of work on my own which tells me that I shouldn't pursue it.

I love illustration and not concept art/design.  This helped contribute to my deciding to go to Spectrum. Unfortunately it was a bust as well. I did learn what the convention is like which is very helpful but I missed my opportunity to show my portfolio much. Basically there was a meet and greet night where it was chaos and I felt like the poor ADs were being torn apart by a pack of piranhas. I hoped to catch the ADs when they wouldn't be exhausted sometime on the show floor but unfortunately I only found one with their lei on (which means they are doing reviews). That saint of an AD was Jon Schindehette whom I already have somewhat of a connection with. He gave me great feedback with a lot of insight. It was exactly the sort of critique I was looking for. I just didn't make the new contacts that I imagined.

Weird Idea Experiments
It's not often I do any sort of work for free but I had this plan to run a contest to quickly spread my name as an artists looking to do book covers. Basically writers could get a free cover illustration if they shared the contest on their social media. The post ended up getting nearly 5k views which I am fairly happy with but I only received about 50 submissions I think. It hasn't lead to any work yet but I learned about some writer communities that I was unaware of so now I know some places to hunt for work.

The other idea I had came late in the year. I was loving Paintstorm Studio so much and some people were picking it up based on my recommendation and yet I was surprised I haven't seen more people using it. So I thought to reach out and contact Painstorm Studio about potentially sponsoring me. I put together a whole pitch with numbers and a scaling system,etc. It wasn't going to be much money but with it stacked on Patreon money which was $100/piece by itself at the time it would have made it even easier for me to find time each month to work on Patreon pieces. They kind of agreed which was awesome but there was such a language barrier that I just dropped it before it could start. I just didn't want any money being exchanged if they potentially didn't understand something I said or I didn't understand what they said,etc. Still I was happy that it was a fresh idea for me that I developed and was technically successful at pitching.

I've never ran any ads for myself before this year. I decided to run an ad on DA which I think just cost $25 for 500 clicks. I thought with their huge traffic that it would quickly get the clicks but it seems with ad blocker and premium accounts there's not the kind of quick impressions that I expected so it actually stretches out over a long period of time. It only reached 50 clicks and 310,000 impressions. I didn't see any increase in Patreon or a significant increase in messages,etc. I'm still not sold that it was necessarily a bad decision. Maybe just need to find where I should be running ads.

2016 Plans
Pursue book cover work
Re-work my Patreon or develop a new way for me to pursue my personal work.
Try to attend the Spectrum Convention again.
Return to selling prints at conventions.
Sell Prints through DA - So DA prints are a real rip off for the customers and the artists get a pittance. BUT I've come to the conclusion that the DA market is a totally different market from what I see at conventions. So because I only make $1 on a print on DA doesn't actually mean that's a $15 loss at a convention. When I briefly sold prints on DA about 10 years ago I made some sales so hopefully now that my work isn't awful I can see some regular tiny income through there.

Joe SlucherComment