Digital Jobs for a Working Artist
The whole world has gone digital, or so it seems. If you have already embraced the many programs available to create digital art then you are ahead of the curve. If not, I would suggest starting with Adobe Photoshop. Sure it is used to manipulate and crap photos but it can also be used to paint digitally and has a relatively easy learning curve. Plus there are tons of tutorials online to get you going.
Next on the list is Sketchbook Pro. Very affordable but doesn’t have all the painting accessories that Photoshop has. Still you can draw some awesome pieces with it.
Corel Painter. Not Corel Draw. Painter allows you to use brushes and textures that look very much like traditional paint on canvas, as well as pastel, watercolor and airbrush. The learning curve is high and it takes a lot of trial and error to get going with Corel Painter but once you have used it a few times, you find it is hard to go back to the cheaper programs.
“Develop an infallible technique and then place yourself at the mercy of inspiration.”
— --Ralph Rapson
Scan your traditional work.
Also there is no rule that says you cannot use traditional artwork mediums such as oils and watercolor, scan the image or photograph it digitally and then tweak it in Photoshop or Corel Painter to enhance the image. Then with this digital art piece, submit it to one of the many companies listed below.
Once you have mastered some digital painting, you can submit work to a whole rainbow of job opportunities.
“Stieglitz would never say that certain objects of the world were more or less beautiful than others—telegraph poles, for instance, compared with oak trees. He would accept them for what they are, and use the most appropriate object to express his thoughts and convey his vision.”
— --Ansel Adams
Can you tell the difference between digital art and traditional art?
Stock Photo and Illustration Companies
Advertisers and companies need stock photos and illustrations for publications like brochures and web sites. Rather than pay a full time illustrator, many companies, corporations and even churches turn to stock illustration. These illustrations must fit certain guidelines, which are different for each company. They are mostly about size and file format. Each company has an application process that causes you to create according to their guidelines. They can be time consuming but worth the trouble.
With each illustration you create and upload to the stock site, you receive a percentage of the royalty each time an advertiser purchases it. This means the same illustration could be used by hundreds of companies and you get paid each time it sells. It could also mean that it could sit there with few or no sales for years before some one decides to utilize it. To me this means that my work has more potential to work for me than if it were a painting sitting under my bed, behind my couch or in the darkness of my portfolio.
Halloween digital art
“Art’s whatever you choose to frame.”
— --Fleur Adcock
Companies to look for.
The more valuable illustrations (those the stock companies charge clients more for) are vector images. This takes a little more time and complexity to complete but you do get paid more for them. Vector images generally have fewer soft edges and gradients. Vector looks more graphic in nature. However the popularity of vector is that they can be sized up without losing quality. Rastorized images will be pixilated when sized up and vector images won’t. This makes vector very desirable for advertisers who are thinking about large ads and even billboards. Adobe Illustrator is the best program, in my opinion, to create vector images.
One stock company asked for three illustration submissions as part of the application process. If they were rejected for reasons of size discrepancies or file format discrepancies, I was “punished” by being made to wait a number of days before I was allowed to resubmit. When the resubmissions were rejected, I was “punished” again by being made to wait a number of weeks. They are very serious about their guidelines. However after being approved, you can upload dozens and hundreds of submissions at will.
Some possible stock companies include: iStock, Dreamstime, Alamy, and Veer.
Digital art for the public
Edgy companies that allow a person or company to design and create their own business cards and branded office supplies are sprouting up everywhere. These companies want to offer the public great fresh artwork and illustrations for these supplies, so they offer artists like you and I royalties for posting images the public can use. Like stock companies, they are looking for specific desirable images that work for specific items. They include posters, magnetic car signs, business cards, labels, T-shirts, mugs, lap-top computer covers and much more. As the printing technology expands, so does the use and demand for royalty artwork.
Many of these companies also allow you to set your royalty fee. The higher the percentage that comes to you, the higher the cost to the public. So if you have an image that is edgy and in demand, you could afford to set a higher royalty fee, but I find I get more sales consistently when I set my royalty at 10% or less. Some possibilities are: Zazzle and CafePress.
“There is no abstract art. You must always start with something.”
— --Pablo Ruiz Y Picasso
Time Laps Digital Painting
Another possibility is Minted. Minted prints only greeting cards; cards for holidays and birthdays and any day. They use artist’s work to keep fresh and relevant in an ever-changing market. Minted has the added benefit of actually promoting the artist, based on votes given by the public on certain cards created.
Successful artists work.
As you can see, you could stretch yourself very thin working for all these companies. I find it is best to pick just a few and keep track of my submissions to each. With each company they demand exclusivity. That means that if you sell or post a piece to one of these sites, you have agreed not to post that same illustration to any other site. Since I have hundreds of illustrations, there is a bit of record keeping involved so that I don’t absently break that rule and use one illustration on more than one site. Still, I find it worth it to know that instead of sitting around for my pleasure alone, my artwork is being enjoyed and purchased by the public who seem to adore it enough to pay for it. That’s my idea of a successful artist.
Vector art is harder but worth it. People want it more because it does not pixelate as you enlarge it the way rastor (bitmap) images do. Also, vector images take a smaller amount of space so they load on the web faster. This is vital for those web designers who say if it takes longer than 3 seconds people refuse to wait and will move on to the next web site. This makes vector images valuable for web designers as well as advertisers.
“A room hung with pictures is a room hung with thoughts.”
— --Sir Joshua Reynolds