Inspiration

Inspiration

What to do When you Don’t know a Lick about doing art commissions online.

What to do When you Don’t know a Lick about doing art commissions online. 

I started doing my art freelance before I even knew what freelance meant. All I knew was that there were people that were willing to pay me for the art that I created and that was alright for me.

 

But what they don’t tell you are all the other things you become once you go down this path. Little did I know is that I was also becoming an accountant, customer service, marketing consultant and social media planner. Today I’m going to focus on how I got started with doing my art commissions on the interwebs.  

 

WHAT DID YOU DO TO START TAKING ART COMMISSIONS ONLINE?

 

Technically. I started freelancing during high school. Back when I had huge dreams of going to the Art Institute of PGH and wanted to become an animator. I ended up not doing either of those things and got my first real taste of freelance art-ing. Fast forward to college, I started focusing on doing art commissions online.

 

1| I showed my best work

I needed a way to show the people on the interwebs, like you, that I made art and that I was available for art commissions. But the thing is that people need to see what you’re selling before they buy from you. People want to feel secure that your style is what they are looking for.

 

At the time, I made a WordPress blog/portfolio and picked out my top 10 - 15 artworks. I wanted so badly to show everything I ever created but the problem is that it’s (1) overwhelming to the person looking, making their choice harder (2) if most of the art you show has portraits you shouldn’t then add digital artwork of a turtle. While it may be good, it doesn’t fit with the theme of your collection.

 

Here are some other options for portfolios:

  • A Tumblr page

  • Squarespace (That’s what I use)

  • DeviantArt

  • Behance

  • Instagram and/or Pinterest


 

2| I used social media for my behind-the-scenes & recent work


So I had my Wordpress blog up and running and finally got my art situated. And now I needed to let people know that I exist. I started taking work in progress photos and posting them on DeviantArt and Facebook. Doing those behind the scenes shots helped people see how I tackle projects and the time needed. People were excited to see what the finished art would look like.

Try it!  The next art piece you start working on, take photos of your progress and post them on your social media or platform of choice. Now I use Instagram as my main go to media for sharing recent art or work in progress.

Don’t forget to add your name somewhere in the photo to be your watermark.

 

3| I offered free or low-cost sketches from time-to-time

When I started doing digital artwork for the first time I thought I was terrible. I wanted to find a way to practice and keep myself motivated. So a friend and I went on Gaia and started trading virtual money to practice drawing other people’s characters. We did this for a year. Now I can digital paint and I get paid for it with real money this time around.

 

I tried this experiment again with watercolor sketches. I let people from my Facebook page volunteer their profile pictures so that I could practice sketch in watercolors for a month. After the free sketches were over, I attracted people that wanted their own full artwork and wanted to book my time.

 

Trading practice for free art can work but keep it on your terms. It gets people excited to participate on something with you. It also establishes the effort you put into your work.

 

Try it! Is there something you want to practice or experiment with? Create a way to practice that idea and involve your followers or friends.

 

4| I found a pricing model that worked for me & my art

Pricing is always weird to me. I’ve already established that I would happily create art for free. Unfortunately there are these things called, “Cost of Living” and “Taxes” that prevent me from doing so on a regular bases. You understand.

I compared pricing sheets of other artists to get a sense of how much something would be worth. When I started I primarily compared pricing on DeviantArt artists.

What I didn’t know is that sometimes their art commissions are extremely underpriced. The artists are trying to out sell one another. But that’s none of my business. Sips Tea.

 

After jotting down some rates, I decided to go with minimum wage per hour x however long it takes me to complete an artwork roughly. Then whatever time you THINK it takes you to make something, add two hours to that. That is your buffer in case you have revisions, a mistake, or some other art crisis that prevents you from getting done within your time frame.

 

Hint: You can also use your best sketches to build up your portfolio!

 

Try It! Do some research on the platform you have chosen to sell your art commissions primarily. What are the prices that are showing for artists similar to what you do? Then figure out how much you want to be paid per hour (based on your experience). Don’t forget to consider the cost of your art supplies and materials.

 

5| I gave myself realistic time to get projects done.

Speaking of time, I have this habit of using the best possible scenario for time instead of the worst case scenario. Yeah...for me that isn’t a habit that I’d like to keep and I’m working on that.

 

When you start to pick up clients, always check and make sure you have time to actually do the project. Think about these before you say yes:

  • Am I actually interested in this project?

  • Do I have time to do this project?

  • Do I like the person that I will be working with?

I didn’t do this when I first started. I was accepting art requests left and right out of excitement. Then when it came to actually working on the artwork I had problems with staying motivated to continue.

 

Agreeing to something half-heartedly hurts both sides. Be honest with yourself before you say yes. If you need more time to think over the request, say that.

 

Try It! Decide how many project you would be okay working on in a week or a month. Do you like to work with one person at a time or several? Each time you get a new project, add it to a calendar or a list as long as it’s something you look at regularly. This will help you find your workflow and get settled into your freelancing.

 

REWIND

So those are my essentials for beginning art commissions online. I hope that my mistakes and successes have given you a better understanding of what you need to do. But just in case you need a refresher, here’s the list:

 

  1. Show Your Best Work

  2. Share your Behind-the-Scenes

  3. Offer free (or low-cost) artwork in exchange for practice

  4. Price your Commissions

  5. Learn Project Management

 

Q: what’s the number one thing that is stopping you from doing online commissions?

Let me know in the comments below!


Trenita Finney is a Pittsburgh-based creative entrepreneur, artist and the Founder of Trenita Made it! She is most recognized for her vibrant watercolor works of women of color and photo-realistic portraits of inspirational musicians. As the creator of Trenita Made it! she promotes wellness + career development for artists + women of color through her youtube, podcast, Instagram, Pinterest and lifestyle illustrations + products.

Trenita has launched The Syllestial Collection VOL.1, an illustration book showcasing a collection of three years worth of illustrations during college. Trenita and her artwork have been featured in Raw Artist Pittsburgh, Redfish Bowl Art Festival, The Pittsburgh Comicon, Steel City Comicon and Layer Cake Festival. Follow on Instagram for the latest art creations.

Inspiration

3 ways to start enjoying your process of finding your art style

3 ways to start enjoying your process of finding your art style

You just ripped a page out of your sketchbook that you aren't supposed to rip pages from. 

You remind yourself how much you suck at finding a good art style.  Next thing you know, you’re looking through your favorite artists’ Instagram feed, praising and envying them at the same time. 

You can’t stop looking at how freakin’ cool their style is. 

 

You start wondering if you should blame your art supplies. And you wonder why nobody told you how painfully slow it would be to get comfy in your art style.

Why is finding your art style so hard?!
This journey to finding your art style is just...ugh.

 

SO, How do you get to that comfy spot in your style?

Welp, first you have to figure out what makes you uncomfortable with your style. The thing about finding your art style is that you have to know what’s working for you and what’s not.

Hate the way you draw hands? That’s your queue to start focusing your attention on different hand styles and practicing a few for yourself.

 

Here’s why you feel like you’re not there yet.

Comparing. 
Ugh. 

Comparing your art style to another artist is like comparing your life story versus there’s. You're experiencing life differently than said artist so of course, you’re going to draw differently.

But that’s not all that comparing does to you. It puts you in this lack mindset and you start thinking if I can just start drawing hands better then I’ll be happy.
 
But here’s what it also sounds like you're saying:
You WON’T be happy UNTIL you draw hands better. All of a sudden, you're thinking more how to about draw hands than actually drawing hands. 

I mean. Who-in-the-hell wants to draw hands when you’re unhappy about, well, drawing hands. You’ll just end up with angrily drawn hands. 


Okay, but how do I get there?

Basically, it’s not about getting there. It’s about focusing on where you are right now. 

MIND BLOWN.


SERIOUSLY! Developing your art style is something that evolves with you as you grow. And like any budding plant out there, you have to nurture and take care of it so that it becomes a beautiful orchid. That can draw.
Sidenote-it doesn’t have to be an orchid, you can be any plant you want to be, ahem.

Enjoy the process that you’re going through and be aware of the areas that you want to improve on. Instead of saying “I want to draw better” get more specific and focus on what you want to improve on.

When we set unclear goals we end up being disappointed with ourselves because we can't measure our progress. SO, here are 3 ways to start enjoying your process of finding your art style.


 

01 | make SPACE for yourself to grow


So you’re probably no stranger to feeling like there aren’t enough hours in the day for everything that you want to get done. But remember my friend, you have the same amount of hours in the day as Beyonce. 


With that said, set the intention of your day to sketch, even if it’s just for 30 minutes. Write it down your intentions to feel committed.

When you make space in your mind for something, you make space in your day for it as well. 


Oh yeah, and let yourself experiment too! Explore different styles and materials and see what you end up. And remember, no pressure.

 

02 | leave your house & explore


You know that feeling when you watch a new movie and something about that one scene hits you. You get this burst of inspiration and new ideas and you just want to make something from that scene right now. 

That energy is often the push you need to get back into the flow of things. Attend an event, go to a concert or see a movie. And if you have the time, travel! Find something new to spark up that mind of yours. 

 

03 | Get to Your Happy Place

Set the mood for your drawing time and surround yourself with every-and-anything, that makes you feel good! My go to mood for drawing is running my diffuser with my favorite essential oils, playing music, and a good dose of natural light.

Maybe it's the introvert in me but these items really help me create without feeling like I'm forcing myself to. 

There will be days when you need to trigger your creative light switch, so find out what your items are that get you to your happy place.

So there are my 3 ways to start enjoying your art style journey. 
And yes, it will still be painfully slow but now you can start becoming aware of your style and actually feel good about it!


Trenita Finney is a Pittsburgh-based creative entrepreneur, artist and the Founder of Trenita Made it! She is most recognized for her vibrant watercolor works of women of color and photo-realistic portraits of inspirational musicians. As the creator of Trenita Made it! she promotes wellness + career development for artists + women of color through her youtube, podcast, Instagram, Pinterest and lifestyle illustrations + products.

Trenita has launched The Syllestial Collection VOL.1, an illustration book showcasing a collection of three years worth of illustrations during college. Trenita and her artwork have been featured in Raw Artist Pittsburgh, Redfish Bowl Art Festival, The Pittsburgh Comicon, Steel City Comicon and Layer Cake Festival. Follow on Instagram for the latest art creations.

Inspiration

The 5 types of DIY art galleries you can throw without going broke.

The 5 types of DIY art galleries you can throw without going broke.

I remember walking downtown (in Pittsburgh so dahn-tawhn) and literally thinking, why is it so hard for artists to get their work shown in a gallery? Let alone pay for the exhibition fees, and the time you need to prep or paint each piece to make a solid collection. And then you have to see if you are even accepted by the location. So. Much. Stuff.

 

And I don’t know about you but when too many things are going on at the same time, I literally can not.

 

Then I find this awesome visual artist Shantell Martin. Her style is so unique and captured me immediately. I watched a few of her speaking videos and something she said really hit me.

 

Create your own opportunities. Set up your own gallery instead of waiting for someone to give you one.

It hit me so hard that I had to email her to say thank you for inspiring me.

 

Then I find another artist Eunice Kindred who made an entire video on her journey to showcasing her art in her first solo exhibition. Literally inspiration over 9000 y’all. Naturally I emailed her too.

 

These artists were out here making moves and creating their own opportunities as best as they could and it was working.

 

Since then I started making my own opportunities and basically became proactive in my art and putting it out there myself. Instead of worry about high-class galleries I’m more focused on vibing with my underground art community in Pittsburgh.

 

By the way I don’t know how much you know about Pittsburgh but we are a very artsy city and the steel mills aren’t a thing anymore here. Just so you know. Come visit some time!

 

So now in the present day, we have you the budding freelance artist just trying to make it in the art game. If you’re just starting out but have the urge to showcase your work and have a small budget then this post is just for you.

 

SO YES, YOU CAN REALLY PULL THIS OFF AND NOT BE SUPER BROKE AFTERWARDS

 

I mean, they’re already killing me with the $20 paint brushes and the artist grade watercolors…

A’ight I feel you so how do we pull this off?

Welp, I’m glad you asked!

You can host your own gallery by using the resources & connections you already have. Sure you can look for whole new locations, and whole new people and whole new things but don’t count out what you have right now.

 

And don’t let money turn you away from something that can truly be amazing for your art career and just life in general. That my friend is called a poverty mindset which can get in the way of you investing for your future.

 

So with all that said, what exactly IS your budget? How much money can you set aside to make this thing happen? I’ll help you figure it out by supplying you with this nifty expense worksheet that you can print or download.

 

I’ve put in some general tabs but feel free to make it your own. Once you have an idea of what certain costs are it will be easier to plan your budget and create ways to cut-down costs.

 


 

What do I need to put it together?

Throwing a gallery is a lot like throwing a party. So here’s my personal list of things that I like to make sure I have when I want to throw a gallery:

 

  • Music

  • Food/Snacks

  • People

  • Lighting

  • Contact info

  • Incentive for coming

  • BONUS : If you want to make money from this make sure you have a PAYPAL or SQUARE reader for your mobile device. You can even take payments without the internet connection. It will charge the payment once it is connected to wifi again.

 

How do I book a venue for my gallery?

Generally, if you see a place that you think suits your art, just ask for the manager in charge. Explain what you would like to do there and mention a benefit that they would get from having you showcase there. Make sure you have your business cards and a sample of your art so that people can contact you.

 

How should my gallery look & feel?

You set the mood to however you need it to feel for your art. Add elements that enhance your artwork like fake floral plants, LED lights, maybe a color theme. The gallery should be one big story and everything including the people compliment your night (or day).

 

You can tie in any surrounding holidays, pop culture, politic issues or simply a common ground that people can relate to.

 

When you define what your goal is for your gallery or the take-away message it will be easier to know how the overall look & feel should be.

 

Not every gallery is in a “fancy” downtown exhibit. Unless you want to do that, oh you fancy huh? But in all realness, you can host a gallery literally anywhere that allows it , so make it your own. Here are those 5 places that are pretty affordable for gallery space:


1| open up your space

 

Yes!

Literally the place right under your nose! You’re probably thinking why did I not do this sooner! Or you’re giving me major side eye like, girl my living space is not gallery rea-ty.

 

Think about it: If the purpose of your gallery is to show your latest collection to your friends, family and maybe a few +1 invites then why not just host it at your place?

 

So maybe you don’t like your place. But your friend’s place is fire and would be a perfect fit for your art style. Let’s roll with that.

 

Obviously, talk it over with your friend first and get permission to borrow their place. Mind your manners.

 

Make it into a BYOB gallery/party, make your Spotify playlist and order catering for the night. If you have a back door that people can enter through it will help keep traffic in the room and not the rest of your house.

 

Set the mood you want your art to have for the night and make it into a experience. Add a takeaway for your event so that your gallery-goers have a memorable night. This could be anything from an look book of all the pieces that will be displayed or a free print of an art piece.

 

2| A mom & pop shop

 

You know your mom’s friend that owns a hair salon or your co-worker who owns that brewery/bar? Talk to those people and let them know that you’re looking for space!

 

Even if someone doesn’t immediately pop into mind, someone you know, knows a person with a shop that they can introduce you to.

 

You can test the waters and make a post on Facebook (or what you kids use these days)and let everyone know you’re looking for a venue space. Be ready for the comments or DM’s you get and give them an idea of what you’re looking to do.


 

3| A COMMUNITY CENTER

 

A community center is a nice space because it’s a location people will know and they’re big usually. You may need to have racks, easels, or grid panels to hang your art on if they don’t allow you to hang art directly on the wall.

 

Ask how much it is to rent the space per hour and add it into your expense sheet so that you stay on budget or if any adjustments need to be made. Check into what they’re guidelines are for music and live entertainment as well.

 

4| a hole in the wall


 

You know those hidden gem cafes that have brunch and mimosas in the city? They're perfect if you want your show to have more of a urban and close knit feel.

This can work really well depending on what part of the city you use. Especially if it’s a creative hub. Yes, the stereotype of creatives and working people loving coffee is a real thing. Use it to your advantage.

You’ll have the people that you invited + the people who are regulars. It’s a nice opportunity for you to network, collab or sell your art.

 

5| A COLLEGE CAMPUS


 

If you’re currently IN college right now or an alumni then this should work pretty well for you. Talk to administration or check their website on who to speak with and ask if there is available space where you can use room or hall.

 

Make sure to pick the right time of the year for college students if they are your audience. You can pick a day to visit the campus to get an idea of the how traffic flows on campus. Some campuses do holiday shop sales as well so this would be another opportunity to get yourself affordable space.

 

Q: What would your gallery look like?

Let me know in the comments below




 


Trenita Finney is a Pittsburgh-based creative entrepreneur, artist and the Founder of Trenita Made it! She is most recognized for her vibrant watercolor works of women of color and photo-realistic portraits of inspirational musicians. As the creator of Trenita Made it! she promotes wellness + career development for artists + women of color through her youtube, podcast, Instagram, Pinterest and lifestyle illustrations + products.

Trenita has launched The Syllestial Collection VOL.1, an illustration book showcasing a collection of three years worth of illustrations during college. Trenita and her artwork have been featured in Raw Artist Pittsburgh, Redfish Bowl Art Festival, The Pittsburgh Comicon, Steel City Comicon and Layer Cake Festival. Follow on Instagram for the latest art creations.