Hi guys! It has been some time since I blogged because I was busying growing my new comic ITGuyARTgirl, if you haven't already know. :) For the past 2 years, I have been drawing moments between my boyfriend and I in our animal form (I'm a horse and he's a polar bear). It was just for our entertainment and I kept them in sketchbooks. We were engaged earlier this year and I thought it's a good time to start a relationship comic after my break from completing RSJ. The comic is only one month old and you can also read it on all of my social media platforms!
This post is not going to be about illustration career tips, but rather the things I learned after starting ITguyARTgirl.
When I was drawing RSJ, Webtoon was the only place where I post. (Because it's a featured comic and I was not allowed to post elsewhere.) I have little knowledge of how webcomics go about on other websites. Then when I started ITguyARTgirl, I have the freedom to post everywhere. After reading tips about reaching a bigger audience by posting on websites such as Imgur and Reddit, I excitedly shared my comics. The result was way beyond my expectations, and here are a few things I learned:
Webtoon is a very friendly community (albeit with limited audience)
Not until I share my comics on different platforms did I know that their cultures can be so different. Webtoon is probably the friendliest community I know, everyone is so nice and cheerful. The only issue with this platform is that it's challenging for new comics to breakthrough. From my experience, Webtoon tends to favor comics that already have a massive following, and selectively promotes featured comics. Only the most popular comics on Discovery have a chance to become featured, and not every featured comic gets promotion on the front page. RSJ was never promoted. But thanks to RSJ and its lovely readers, some of them came to support my new comic and it's so good to see you guys again!
The internet can be a dark place
ITguyARTgirl generally received positive responses, however sometimes things can get a bit complicated , especially on Imgur and Reddit. These two communities have a huge reader base and some users tend to be more critical and unforgiving when giving feedback. I received all sorts of criticisms and personal attacks: terrible storytelling, copied from MGNB, laziest form of comic, not caring about homosexual couples, starving artist who relies on boyfriend's income, bragging about my muscular calves... etc. These can get really creative. Such criticisms can easily bring down anyone who want to share their hard work online.
Relationship comics - love them or hate them
Another fun thing I found out after starting a relationship comic is that, the response to this kind of comic is usually in two extremes. People either really love it or really hate it. People who are in a relationship or carry a positive attitude, they love relationship comics because
they are relatable and make them feel happy. On the other hand, people who are single with a passive/negative attitude tend to despise relationship comics, because they are not relatable and therefore does not appeal to their taste.
Dealing with haters is hard. Especially when you never really had any before. While I rejoiced over the unexpected popularity of ITguyARTgirl, I also cringed at the hundreds of negative comments. Although my friends and family told me to ignore them, it's easier said than done when you/your work are assaulted and your self worth is often linked to your art.
So I searched the internet for help and found tips on how to deal with haters.
Here's what I learned:
Focus on your fans
I'm the type of person who wants to make everyone happy (I bet you know this from reading RSJ). However, the world is full of different people with different values and tastes. For example, my friend loves horror movies, but I'm just horrified by them. It doesn't make us right or wrong. So instead of trying to appeal to those who doesn't like your work, focus on making good stuff for the people who already love it.
Don't feed the trolls
There are so many people in the world and sadly, some of them are trolls and they only love putting others down. Attacks on your work and person feel really bad, but don't get carried away and fight back with emotion, because that's what the trolls want - it feeds their hunger for drama seeing you being provoked. Instead, ignore them or respond with kindness (reminds me of Master Elephunk), and state whatever fact that they were wrong about. For example, someone on Imgur said my boyfriend is the bread winner and I am the burden. So I responded nicely informing that I earn as much as my boyfriend. The trolls will eventually goes quiet if you stop paying attention to them.
Learn to be humble
A lot of criticism seem to be pointless trolling, but some might actually help to reflect and improve the comic. After getting past the initial state of fear and anger, try to take a step back and think what the nay-sayers actually mean behind their words. Maybe the art could be better. Maybe the story could be funnier. Use criticism to improve your work.
Try to sympathize
I believe there is a reason behind every action, and a story behind every person. Haters say hateful words, maybe it's because they are having difficulties in life. Maybe they don't have a life or lover, so they envy and hate on people who have a happy life or happy lover. Maybe the environment they grew up in shaped their negative personality. Try to sympathize and forgive them.
Lastly, celebrate haters!
The best thing I read about dealing with haters is that, having haters is a sign that you are successful. Because if you have no accomplishments, no one would hate on you. The more successful and popular a person is, the more hate they will get. It's natural for people to feel jealous of other's success because it reminds them of their own failures. It's the least thing I expected: success brings haters. So why not celebrate both?
That's all of my venting and learning - I just want to thank everyone who read my comics, I will keep making them, improving them, and learning from Master Elephunk.... all is well.
So you've decided to journey on the path to become an illustrator. As a new traveler, you'll need supplies and skills to get to your destination. You look around and found a huge training center: "Art School". It seems promising with the teachers and shiny tools, but you'll have a to pay a big fee, and you don't want to figure out how to climb this mountain all by yourself.... So the question is, is art school really worth it?
In this post I'll talk about the pros and cons of art school and self education, so to make your journey easier at the foot of the mountain.
Art schools are universities where you study art as a major, and you receive a degree certificate after you complete the studies. (Examples: CalArts, SCAD, RISD) Having a degree is important to some people, as it will make your resume look better and qualify for certain jobs. Who knows you might want to switch to another career in the future? Some art related jobs such as art teachers and gallery curators often require you to have a degree as well.
Proper art education
Art schools with good reputation will give you an all-rounded, break-you-then-make-you resurrecting kind of experience. You'll have to unlearn the ways you've been drawing and start again from the beginning. Your creative skills will improve greatly as you follow the curriculum and critique each other's works. Teachers in art schools have usually worked in the industry for some time and they provide great career tips and insights.
One of the greatest benefits of art schools is the connection to industry professionals. Knowing the right people can help to get your foot in the doors of your dream job (Disney, Pixar, Marvel, or your favorite publisher/game company). Most art schools are practical: they prep you to land a job. You will learn how to build a strong portfolio, promote yourself and pitch ideas to clients. Some art schools also offer internship and mentor programs, which serve as great career stepping stones.
Sounds awesome, right? However, all good things comes with a price... and for art school, a very big price. A full undergraduate degree in an art school is equivalent or sometimes more expensive than normal university tuition fees. A lot of students will graduate with a bunch of loans and spend their first few years as starving artists in debt. What's worse, studying in art school does not 100% guarantee you to become a successful artist, so you'd better give a second thought at this investment.
Practice makes perfect, so expect to spend long hours in the studio honing your art skills with little time for everything else. Studying art in a full time degree is exhausting, you'll often feel fed up and don't want to ever pick up a pencil again. You might enjoy drawing as a hobby, but it will be different when all you do is draw.
Certificates are not compulsive for illustrators
Honestly, you don't have to have a degree to be an illustrator. Clients hire you for your art, not for your education background. There are lots of self-taught artists out there who didn't go to art school and they have a great illustration career. Some developed their distinctive style because they didn't go to art school and got brainwashed in drawing things as certain way.
Lots of online resources
You don't have to go to art school in order to learn the ropes, resources are everywhere if you look for it! You can find books/online tutorials/youtube videos that teach things from drawing cats to framing comic panels. You can follow great artists, emulate them and improve your art skills. Just like the saying, "nothing in the world is difficult for one who sets his mind on it", no one stops you from learning to be a better artist.
If going to art school requires too much money and time, then self-teaching is the opposite. You have absolute freedom on your path. You can have a day job and practice art at night, without worrying about homework deadlines and being in debt.
Lack in fundamental skills
If you want to become a character designer in Dreamworks, then you would have a hard time learning by yourself. Some illustration positions require highly trained drawing skills in human and animals, and those fundamental skills are best learned in art school. Without a curriculum forced on you, it's easy for us to only draw the things we like and skip the tedious training.
Little industry knowledge and connection
Starting your illustration career as a self-taught artist is less privileged than an art school student, because you have little connections. You can make great art, but if you don't know how to show it to the right people, or know how the industry works, then it'd be difficult to find a good job. Even if you landed a nice job, you might not know how to protect yourself and get taken advantage of.
So... did it scare you away? Or maybe reading this post makes you want to enroll in art school even more? I hope you have a better view of both options by now. My advice is: if you don't have to worry about money, go for art school. If you have no money or you're not sure about your career path, don't.
But some of you might ask, are there other options? The answer is yes. And I'll cover them in later posts!
People often confuse artists and illustrators. Both make a living from selling their art: fine artists sell art in an gallery, while illustrators sell art as a service to clients. Illustrators apply their art skills on solving creative problems, and that's called applied art.
The beautiful thing about applied art is, instead of creating art purely for personal expression, you create art to help others achieve a bigger project, such a movie, a book, or a video game. Before I enter the industry, I never knew illustration is needed in so many areas. So in this post I will share with you the types of work illustrators can do (as far as I know):
Probably the most well known job type, books can vary from children's books, textbooks, teen novels, adult fiction and non-fiction books. Each type of books requires specific skill sets, so illustrators usually focus on a certain type of book. (I draw mostly children's books.)
Newspapers and magazines, whether printed or electronic, require illustrations on a regular basis. Some are about illustrating a concept on current news and topics, and this type of illustration usually has higher creative freedom.
We see ads everywhere! Companies use art to sell all kinds of stuff, including products, food, games, services, events and basically anything you can think of.
This should be the most popular corner for aspiring illustrators nowadays - being part of the entertainment industry. Movies, animations and games need a ton of development, and illustrators are needed in many divisions:
In early stages of production, concept artists help to explore and set the look and feel of the movie/animation/game. This part has the biggest creative freedom.
Everything needs to be designed - even the cabinet in the corner and the windows outside the houses. This part requires extensive research to make sure the designs fit the story's culture and era.
Storyboard requires less artistic skills but more cinematic skills. The artist needs to be the director, visualizing the scenes from a script. This part needs a lot of editing to get the right look.
Color artists need to be skilled in using colors to convey different moods - called color compositions. This part happens in later production stages when the designs and storyboards are confirmed.
Illustration makes us more likely to buy a product. (As an artist, I always look for pretty package illustrations whenever I go shopping in the supermarket.) This can range from canned dog food to CD covers.
Retail Product Illustration
Have you ever buy a birthday card or a pretty cushion with cute patterns? Some illustrators specialize in creating greeting card designs and patterns. The art can be applied on all kinds of stuff - bed sheets, mugs, curtains, bags, T-shirts...(You can check out my online shop for products!) This area often touches licensing which I'll talk about in later posts.
Other lesser known but existing illustration types
Medical illustration: accurately shows how bodies work
Natural science illustration: accurately depicts animals, vegetables and minerals
Technical illustration: accurately shows how machines work
There is actually a very large and diverse range of work for illustrators, so don't feel discouraged if you can't draw pretty Disney princesses - your art style might be a match in another area.
In life, we are usually taught to play it safe. Don't make mistakes. Take the well-beaten path. See, lots of people took that road and succeeded, therefore you should too. But here comes the question: what if we don't want to?
When I decided to study Geography and later on, Illustration, most people's response was both surprised and concerned. I was top of the class all the way till high school, why would I choose such an unpopular subject rather than the ones with the most promising future - such as Law, Medical, or Accounting? (These 3 subjects are the favorites in my culture.)
"Because I love to draw" is not a satisfactory answer to many. Just because you love something, it doesn't mean you will make a decent living from it... or does it? Back then in art school, I was terrified that I won't find a job after I graduate. But I got my first job, then the second job, then another... and now I have a steady and sufficient income being a freelance illustrator. I'm so glad that I took the road less traveled.
Why take the road less traveled?
Live a life that's true to yourself, not the life others expect of you
Life is short, don't waste most of it doing what you dread. If you don't have any particular passion, feel free to go after any profession. But if you do have a burning passion, follow it, cultivate it, and make it your lifetime career. Live a meaningful and happy life doing what you love, rather than regretting spending so many years working just for money.
A more interesting and unique journey
Taking the road less traveled may be more challenging, but equally more rewarding. You'll encounter all kinds of weird stuff, meet lots of interesting people, and get to work on exciting projects. It might even take you to places you have never imagined! I'd say my life would be much more ordinary if I didn't take the leap to become an illustrator.
It might be easier to succeed
We often fear something because we are not familiar with it. People who's not familiar with illustration wouldn't know illustrators are needed in many areas: film, animation, games, books, packaging, toys, and the pretty mug on their table... If most people choose careers other than art, then you might actually have an easier time succeeding because there's less competition. (My primary school classmate, now a lawyer, once told me there are too many law graduates nowadays and it's hard to find a good-paying job.)
So pack your bag, gear up and create your path in the forest.
(The child in the artwork is my younger self with a boyish bob haircut.)
A week have passed, it's time to do the lucky draw!
I used an online random number generator to get a number between 1 and 16.
And the winner is....
Congratulations to Long who wanted the books for his little brothers!
Thank you everyone for stopping by and participating in this little game! :)
The books that I illustrated are now available for purchase on my website!
I've updated my website so that you can find the books here.
This is what I do when I'm not making comics - drawing books. The process is very different from making comics, and I also enjoyed creating artworks for children's literature.
My newest book is Most Valuable Puppy, written by Mike and Stacy Greenberg. They published this book for charity and all profit goes to support fighting pediatric cancer. It's an honor to know the Greenbergs and be part of a good cause!
You can get the book here. I ordered 3 for myself!
Last year, I illustrated 3 books for the series "Prayer Monsters". It's the first time I draw monsters as main characters and I had a lot of fun!
You can get them here.
I've also illustrated books in French (even though I don't know French). "Le Dernier Pisteur" is a series of 3 books about animal whisperers. Book 1 was drawn by another illustrator, and I drew book 2 and 3.
You can get them here.
If you would like to purchase any of these books, comment below with your email and the book you want the most, and I'll randomly give out a $50 Amazon giftcard!
To everyone and anyone who is interested in my stuff - hello!
I had the idea of starting a art/personal blog for quite some time, so that I have a place to call home on the internet and share the quirky ideas in my mind. I decided it's a nice addition to my 2018 to-do list... so here I am!
If you have been following my art and comics, you can skip this part.
If you're here for the first time, here's a little info about me:
My name is Bonnie Pang and I'm a freelance illustrator and comic artist from Hong Kong. I studied geography in university, but ended up going for a master's degree in fine art and pursuing my dream career as an artist. I have worked in an animation studio, and now I work with an US-based agent to illustrate children's books. I also created 2 webcomics: MindBound and Roar Street Journal (RSJ). MindBound is about environmental issues and is (sadly,) discontinued, and RSJ is a heart warming animal comic which is on a break after hosting for 3 years on Line Webtoon.
I will be posting regularly and posts will vary from "tips being an illustrator" to "life struggles in training your dog to fetch balls". I will also post experimental stuff and thoughts , it's been a while since I went on a retreat from making comics, and I feel I'm itching to make some.
Hello! I'm Bonnie Pang and I'm an award-winning illustrator and comic artist.