Brushing Up On Business Skills

There’s no getting around it: making living doing art requires business and networking skills. It’s something they never taught us in art school so I’ve had to teach myself (and I’m still learning). Its an extra challenge for me because I work alone at home. As much as I enjoy it, it’s easy to feel “out of the loop” as a creative professional.

Lately I’ve been looking for resources to help me feel inspired and educated about the business side of being creative. Here’s some of the best that I’ve found so far:

The Media Artist Secrets Podcast
This short little podcast (hosted by Franklin MacMahon) is incredible. MacMahon fills each episode with inspirational bits of wisdom for the creative person who wants to make their business thrive. You can subscribe for free either on his website or on iTunes. Highly recommended!

Magazines (HOW, Communication Arts, CMYK)
In the past I avoided these magazines for two reasons: (1) The subscriptions aren’t exactly cheap; and (2) They are mostly aimed at designers not illustrators. But about six months ago I ponied up the dough for a few subscriptions, and boy has it been worth it! Even though the articles are written mainly for designers, I was surprised at how much overlaps into my world. They also go a long way towards helping me feel “connected” to the larger creative community, and reading about other creatives who are succeeding in business inspires me to keep growing. (Click on the titles above to go to their websites).

There’s a ton of great books out there, enough to warrant a separate post. Fortunately, I did just that a few months back. Click HERE for a list of “Books Every Freelancer Should Own”.

There ya go. Business and Art need not be enemies. Rather, like two wings on an airplane they can work together to fly you to greater heights.



This Sunday (April 30) is MicroCon, a comic book convention sponsored by the Minnesota Comic Book Association. If you live in the Twin Cities area, come on down to the State Fair grounds and join the fun. While you’re there, stop by my table and say “hi”. For more info, click here or on the image above.

Happy "Tax Freedom Day"

Today is Tax Freedom Day. What is that, you ask? If you add up all the federal, state, and local taxes that the government will take from us this year (income tax, sales tax, property tax, etc.), the average American’s share would equal all the money you’ve earned from January 1 to today (April 26). It’s a way of illustrating just how much of our money the government takes from us each year. That’s 83 days of work (116 days counting weekends) just to pay Uncle Sam. Much of it we aren’t even aware of, for example the taxes listed on your phone bill, or taxes you pay whenever you buy gas at the pump. According to the Tax Foundation, the average American will pay more in taxes this year than they will for food, clothing and medical care combined.

Taxes were not always this high. According to this website, in 1920 Tax Freedom Day was only January 20. The total government bill then was only 5.7% of our income, today it’s almost 32% (and we’re still running a deficit!)

I’m not anti-taxes. We need to have a government and that’s going to cost money. But 32% is outrageous.

Of course there’s nothing I can do about it. I just needed to vent.

In Character: Actors Acting

This is a terrific new artist resource. It’s a large collection of photos of famous character actors doing facial expressions. There have been many other “facial expressions” books for artists in the past, but this one is unique in two ways:

First, these are professional actors, not low-budget models trying to be actors. Second, instead of just giving us generic expressions (be happy…now be angry….) which tend to look forced, these actors were given more specific instructions. For example, “You are a five-year-old hiding something from your uncle” or “You are a rookie detective practicing your interrogation technique in front of the mirror”. The results are absolutely astounding. My only complaint is that the faces are sometimes cropped too closely, cutting off the top of the head and/or the shoulders.

I can’t wait to start sketching studies from this book! Every artist should have a copy.