Illustration: Washington Outgunned

If you haven't listened to the soundtrack to Lin-Manuel Miranda's Hamilton on Broadway, then you need to stop and do that right away. It is so good that I'm now reading Ron Chernow's biography of Alexander Hamilton.

Hamilton, never a U.S. president, created our financial system, the coast guard, first Secretary of the Treasury and was George Washington's right-hand man during the revolutionary war and his presidency. In this illustration, I incorporated lyrics from "Right Hand Man" as General Washington was introduced in this play.

Watch the speed drawing.

The following video shows the process of creating this illustration, starting in my sketchbook, creating basic shapes in Adobe Illustrator and then finishing it all off with digital inks and color in Adobe Photoshop.

In this episode of illo talk, I tackle the challenge of

Becoming a Working Freelancer

What is the best approach to take to become a freelancer and how do you attract clients?

"I've said it many years and nobody ever takes note of it because it's not the answer they want to so good they can't ignore you... If somebody's thinking 'How can I be really good' then the people will come to you" - Steve Martin

Know it, Do it, Show it, Repeat

The challenge of becoming a working freelancer is two-fold. On the one hand, you need clients willing to pay and on the other hand you need a body of work that proves you are worth being paid. It seems like a catch 22 situation, but it isn't. You don't need clients to build a body of work, you need a personal project.

  • Know what you want to do
    • Be specific
    • Can change over time, but focus and let it evolve
    • Do something good, when that stops working, do something else good
    • Do it
      • Create the type of things that you'd like to create
      • Choose a personal project that will help you create and showcase what you want to do
      • Work for free, but work for yourself
      • Many people wait for clients to do the work that they'd like to do, but a client isn't going to hire you if they haven't seen you make things.
      • Show it
        • Wip, Show your work posts, the story, or narrative of your work should be shared
        • if you are constantly creating and sharing your work, then people will see what you're making and you'll be known for that type of work
        • you'll build a body of work that you can use to promote yourself.
        • Repeat

Other tips mentioned in this episode

  • Seek to make people's lives better
  • Follow people on Twitter and interact in a non-creepy/fanboy way
  • Support other creators on Kickstarter, Patreon, etc (give and take, law of harvest)
  • Be Patient it'll happen
  • Be consistent
  • Have a website (not .wordpress, .blogger, weebly, but a dot com/net/ whatever. Even .ink or .art)
  • Design your site to feature you work. Focus it.
  • Social media

Suggested Reading, Listening and Watching

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illustration: Benefits of Exposure, aka: exposure vs exploitation and the value of creative work

In the following process video, I draw this image in Photoshop on my Wacom Cintiq while talking about some issues that businesses and creatives face.

Talking about the value of creative work in business and why businesses benefit from paying for quality work. I also discuss why illustrators, photographers, musicians, designers, etc should charge for their work and when, rarely, to do it for exposure.

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Jake Parker's Video about Exposure

I'm getting to the point in time my career where I want to warn younger creatives of some of the lessons that I've learned the hard way.

99% of the time, someone promising "exposure" is just someone trying to get something for free that they should pay for.

In this video, I discuss the difference between exposure and exploitation in the hopes that business people and artists can have mutually beneficial relationships.

I discuss at length the concept of relationships based on a balanced exchange of value. That value can be money, altruism and, on rare occasions, exposure, but often, that "exposure" is actually exploitation in the form of an unbalanced relationship where one side is getting a significant amount of value and not giving any value in return.

The life of a dollar

Lately, I've heard a lot of "zero sum" talk about the economy. One person even said that the rich people are selfishly hoarding all the money so that there isn't any left for the rest of us. I just want to clear something up: money is not a limited resource, it is a transactional resource. How much is a dollar worth?

That's a stupid question, a dollar is worth a dollar right? What about the physical paper; what is that worth? It depends on how many times it changes hands. Each time a dollar passes from one person to the next, value is created on both sides. There is a trade. The purchaser is gaining a product or service while the seller is gaining money.

There is worth on both sides of the transaction. In each transaction, a dollar retains its value while leaving value behind. The more transactions there are, the more money there is in that society. It is not a limited resource.

A small example will help illustrate this. A man has $1,000 and pays a contractor to improve his bathroom. The contractor now has money and pays a plumber and a finish carpenter to do the work, then keeps some for himself. The value of the man's home increases with the improvements on his bathroom. The plumber buys a TV. The TV store uses the money to pay employees. The carpenter pays his rent. The carpenter's landlord uses the rent money to save for his son's college tuition. The contractor pays someone to mow his lawn... and so on and so on.

Each transaction, each time money changes hands, value is created. The more transactions there are, the more value our money has. Or in other words, the more value people add to other people's lives, the wealthier we all are. If each of us strive to bring the best value (read: products and services) to everyone else, the better we all are.