Episode 1 Homework

In Illustrator Life Episode 1, Mark asks questions an aspiring illustrator should answer before choosing a professional illustration career path.

Homework: Inside your sketchbook…

  • List 5 illustrator related resources you bring to prospective clients. (Examples: caricature artist, art degree, typesetting church newsletters, etc.)
  • List 3 reasons you haven’t become a professional illustrator. (Examples: no family support, time limitations, lack of clients, etc.)
  • List 3 reasons you want to become an illustrator. (Examples: money, have a published book, fun, etc.)
  • A sketchbook or the Graphic Artist’s Guild Handbook can be purchased at your favorite book retailer. The handbook may be available at local libraries. Both books are used in future episodes.

The most important part of being a professional is time management. If completion of these four simple tasks isn’t possible, this channel may not be for you at this time.

 

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Best Book Event Travel Bag

As an author and illustrator constantly on the move, I’m asked, “What’s the best book event travel bag?” The best event bag evolves from situations at events: “Did you have a safety-pin? Do you have a poncho? Do you have a Band-Aid?”

Below is a list of my longest lasting, preferred, and regularly used supplies for events. A good book event pack has everything necessary for events or airport travel. The big stuff: tents, tent weights, table, etc., are not a part of this list.

Ciao Rolling Carry On BagCiao Rolling Carry On Bag:  Rolling bags with retractable handles reduce heavy lifting. This bag carries up to 10 hardbound books either vertical or horizontal format. Deep pockets are found on left and right sides, front panel includes 3 exterior pockets and 2 interior pockets. It has enough storage space, to become a heavy hauler. Add a custom luggage tag with a book cover image to market your book while traveling. AGP Carabiner clip(s) are excellent additions to hold keys, or secure the bag while traveling. Use carabiner clips as makeshift chains too.

Best Sketchbook-3D-bookPaper/Writing Utensils: I generally carry a 6 x 9 inch Best Sketchbook. It is not only for drawing and writing inspiration, but also to track potential event and client contact information. Small notepads, post-its, and loose notebook paper are used for short-term purposes: signs, tracking inventory, spelling of customer names, and newsletter sign-up sheets. Pack a variety of sharpies, ink pens, or even a stylus to write on any surface from paper or clothing to digital devices.

Tripar Small Adjustable EaselTripar Small Adjustable Easels: These lightweight clear easels fold flat and look professional on any surface.

8-ft Tablecloth: Choose a lightweight or sheer fabric tablecloth that folds into a gallon Ziploc® bag. Press the air from the bag before closing to minimize storage space. A disposable plastic tablecloth is handy for outdoor events not only to cover tables, but also to protect books from water.

Marketing Materials: Business cards, bookmarks, price sheet, order forms, and shipping labels can all be stored neatly in an accordion plastic file folder for easy access. Using a waterproof filing system looks professional, minimizes search time, and protects documents from water damage.

Swiss Army KnifeCutting & Binding Supplies: Metal scissors, box cutter, or pocket knife are helpful, but not allowed on airlines or in some public buildings. Carry all sharps (scissors, pins, including zip ties) in a hard plastic pencil box. The container stores items neatly and can be removed easily. Duct tape, clear shipping tape, zip ties (various sizes), safety pins, and lightweight rope are handy for hanging banners, packaging supplies, and securing items.

Credit Card Processing: SquareUp credit card reader is still my favorite. I carry my reader in a neoprene case outside my bag for quick access. The SquareUp app syncs across digital devices and can be used by multiple users.

First Aid/Personal Products: Travel size first aid kit, Band-Aids, hand sanitizer, pain relievers, lip balm, deodorant, tissues/wipes, sunscreen, and snacks are life savers! Use a small grooming kit to store items neatly for quick removal and discrete needs.

Portable USB ChargerWeather Proofing: Plastic Ziploc® bags (various sizes), trash bags (various sizes), hooded poncho, hand-held fan, portable USB charger/flashlight, phone charger, and cable come in handy when traveling in the rain or long distances.

Yes, the Ciao Rolling Carry On Bag will carry this and more. With a decade of experience and four retired travel bags, I can say my event bag is “a speaker’s first aid kit.” Not all contents are used at events; however, they keep you out of a bind!

What advice would you offer new writers?

What advice would you offer new writers?

16-OUTBACK-Conversation_With_The_Author

Don’t wait to write a great novel. Age is not a limitation to becoming an author. Write everyday moments until the novel revels itself in your average day.

Write often in any format possible. Siri’s dictation on my Apple devices lets me write while walking, driving, or when I’m too lazy to use my thumbs. I carry my Best Sketchbook with me most everywhere to write and draw my thoughts. Use an app like A Novel Idea or software like Scrivener to keep track of your notes. Import your journal entries, dictations, and loose notes once a week into one main document that shows the word count. That will show you how quickly the story grows.

Join a professional writing group to enhance your writing. Join a publishing group to learn the marketing behind writing. Lastly, support local independent book stores. They will be the first to stock your book.

Read the full OUTBACK: Bothers & Sinisters, Conversation with the Author

Student Question: What should I draw?

23-MWA_Inc-Activities

Draw about your life. Things you enjoy: animals, home, school, or write about someone in your family.  The illustrations from The Invention of Hugo Cabret and OUTBACK: Bothers & Sinisters are about adventures in everyday life.

Draw about places. Boring places become interesting stories when people write about them. Driew Qweepie played on his farm, which he called Outback. Author Jules Verne included illustration about his Journey to the Center of the Earth. Document the seasons, birds, or activities that happen in your backyard using a Best Sketchbook.

Put your drawing skills to the test with this drawing challenge. Can you create all the related activities in Challenge 2?

See how many fun challenges you can create with this free drawing game. This teaching resource is a fun and easy activity that will keep students creative and save teachers time.

Student Question: “Do Your Children Draw?

Yes, both my children are unique artists. When each was around six years old, I gave her and him a Best Sketchbook. I told each “I’ll only draw with you in your journal so our drawings won’t get lost.” They were only allowed to start a new journal upon completion of their last.

My daughter, Isabella, would ask me to draw things once. Then a few days later she’d ask me to draw something else. She learned to draw by copying and listening to my instructions. Since then she’s won numerous competitions for drawing. Her goal is to become a singer, not an artist.

My son, Carter, was completely opposite. He rarely asked me to draw. He observed me with my journal and while I drew with Isabella. I discovered his journal filled with Lego patterns. His talent was spacial and usually consisted of rooms or building plans. He is a talented artist in a completely different way.

No matter who you are, time in your Best Sketchbook is inspiring to people around you. One of my favorite pastimes is flipping through other artists’ sketchbooks and journals.

King for a Day Book Giveaway!

To celebrate March coming in like a lion and going out like a Unicorn? MWA, Inc. is giving away one copy each of King for a Day, the Story of Stories, Best Sketchbook, and 1011 Uma Unicorn Pattern (Size Medium).
Is it possible to change an ordinary day into an extraordinary story? Russell,  a Jack Russell terrier, believes so. Learn how, with the help of his friends: a boy named Carter, his stuffed toy lion Litto, and stuffed toy unicorn Uma. Carter is supposed to write a story for Momma Gi Gi’s Jamboree. The best storyteller of the Jamboree is to be crowned “King for a Day.” Carter really wants to win the crown, but can’t do it alone. Discover how journaling saves the day.
King for a Day, the Story of StoriesBest Sketchbook, and 1011 Uma Unicorn Pattern (Size Medium) are popular books and pattern created by MWA, Inc. To celebrate, MWA,Inc will give away one copy of each book and one pattern. (Total retail value: $39.85) To qualify for our giveaway; like, share, or post this blog on your social media before March 31, 2015. Persons posting must live within the continental United States. Giveaway will not be shipped outside the continental United States. Winner will be randomly selected and notified April 1, 2015.
Items Given Away:
ISBN:  9781596160088
Retail Price:  $16.95
ISBN:  9781596160057
Retail Price:  $12.95
ISBN:  9781596160217
Retail Price:  $9.95

LOVE YOUR BOOKS!—Jackson

Jackson’s letter is why authors and illustrators should not only create books, but visit with readers.

“Dear Mark Wayne Adams,

Thank you for coming to Julington Creek Elementary School, I am glad that I got to sit next to you while the 5th Graders were performing their story. I was wearing a blue Under Armor long sleeve shirt with a white stripe going down the shirt. My friend, a girl with a long sleeve pink shirt and you signed her notebook and drew a picture in it.

I love your books, especially “Nicholas, That’s Ridiculous!” I would like to order the “Best Sketchbook.” But I would not like to order “Nicholas, That’s Ridiculous!” because we read it at the assembly.

In the notebook (on the first page) I would like you to draw a baseball player because I am a baseball player. And if you could please give me an autograph.

Your friend,

Jackson

P.S. You are a really nice and funny man. I loved your “stories” that you told us at the assembly. LOVE YOUR BOOKS! Write back if you get the chance. You are my favorite author now!”

February 18, 2015

Jackson, thank you for being a fan. You’re an inspiring friend! —Mark Wayne Adams

Meet Steve Riley

I recently interviewed William Steven Riley, illustrator and publisher. Most people know him as Steve or Steven. In his family it was common to go by your middle name. He works from the comfort of his California home. “I love it, but it does mean that sometimes I don’t get things done as fast as I probably would having an office.” His wife home-schools their two children, and Steve  loves having the family close-by.

Steve is currently working on Furnatche the House Dragon, written by author Honey Apotos. The story is about a family who discovers a baby dragon in the basement furnace. Steve is also finishing The Little Flame written by Denise Gary, his good friend and CEO of Kids Need To Read.  The Little Flame is a heartfelt adventure meant to inspire kids to pursue the important things in life while maintaing healthy relationships.

When asked how Steve chose this line of work, he admitted it chose him, almost by accident. He reached a point in his life when pursuing unimportant careers needed to change. “If I don’t give something else a try, then this will be my life.”  Life was not awful,  just not what he wanted. After some soul searching, writing and illustrating children’s books were his best chance to succeed.

Steve now has three titles the Little Ty Cooney National Wonders Series.  They are Little Ty Cooney and the Big Yosemite RaceLittle Ty Cooney and the Big Yellowstone Mystery, and Little Ty Cooney and the Grand Canyon Tour Company.  Other works include author Derek Sabori’s book Lu and the Earthbug Crew Zap the Energy Spikes. The illustrations were a collaborative effort between he and Mark Wayne Adams. Steve has three other books written. He is also collaborating with with World Class Climber, Dean Potter on a story about his life, which many people would say are just plain crazy.

Most all Steve’s character ideas are born in sketchbooks. “I will be drawing one day and some random sketch will just come to life in my imagination,” Steve says. His written stories generally evolve around characters, not a specific plot or theme. “All the story elements are there in the characters just waiting for me to discover them.” His Ty Cooney series began in Yosemite Valley with a little raccoon that lived under his family’s porch. “I sketched a little cartoon picture of him and that picture inspired the rest.”

The only career for Steve before publishing was managing restaurants in Yosemite Valley, California. It required very little of his creativity, and focused on managing people, resources, and providing customer service. His experiences inspired the entrepreneur within him. Publishing has been frightening and rewarding for Steve. “Frightening because if I fail there is no safety net. Rewarding because, when I succeed the rewards are mine.” said Steve. The combination of those two things keeps him highly motivated.

Steve is an independent publisher and illustrates for other independent authors. I asked him to offer insight to other’s considering independent publishing. His first words of advice were to develop a business plan on how to sell books. “This is a business driven by money.  Money is derived from sales. If you have a great book and no way to sell it, you are in trouble. If you execute a good marketing plan, then your book is going to make you money.” Money isn’t the most important thing to Steve, but paying the bills is a publishing priority.

“I think the most significant moments for me were the first moments of the journey. The first time I held in my hand a real true-to-life published book, that I wrote and illustrated.” says Steve. “Upon the arrival of my first 5,000 books, I stood back and looked into my garage at the enormous pile of boxes. My wife and I took pictures with the pallets. It is comical to think of it. I still smile when I see those pictures.” Steve said. To him those moments cannot be taken away, because the first memories were the best.

Steve didn’t hesitate when asked if he would start his publishing career again. “I absolutely would, in a New York minute!” Steve replied. The one thing he would change would be to start before he graduated High School. “I always had silly ideas and funny pictures of crazy characters floating around in my head. I never believed they would ever amount to anything.” Steve replied. Starting younger would given him nearly twenty years longer to build upon his success. “I recommend not hesitating or making excuses. I would just do it.” He also recommended choosing the correct college institution. His education was a good, but felt an art school would have provided more opportunities.

To contact Steve Riley visit his website at:  http://tycooney.wordpress.com

“I keep thinking Mark is just using lines like everyone else – how is it his lines look so much better?” – Steve Riley

10 Best Resources for Aspiring Illustrators

I’m often asked to recommend books on becoming a professional illustrator. Below are my 10 best resources for aspiring illustrators. Knowledge is power, however applying the knowledge creates a professional. The list includes drawing books and business guides I consistently use as an illustrator.

  1. The Book of a Hundred Hands (Dover Anatomy for Artists), George B. Bridgeman
  2. Dynamic Figure Drawing, Bume Hogarth
  3. The Art of Animal Drawing: Construction, Action Analysis, Caricature (Dover Art Instruction), Ken Hultgren
  4. Animation (Walt Disney Animation Studios: The Archive Series), Walt Disney Company
  5. Cartoon Animation (Collector’s Series), Preston Blair
  6. Anatomy for the Artist, Jeno Barcsay
  7. Best Sketchbook, Use at least one sketchbook to practice the books listed above.
  8. How to Write and Illustrate Children’s Books and Get Them Published, Bicknell and Trotman
  9. Graphic Artist’s Guild Handbook of Pricing and Ethical Guidelines, Graphic Artist Guild
  10. Your Perfect Home-Based Studio: A Guide for Designers and Other Creative Professionals, Poppy Evans

— Mark Wayne Adams, Publisher of Nicholas, that’s Ridiculous! A Story About Being a Boy