Sometimes I feel like I have multiple personalities when it comes to creating. My first love has always been (and probably always will be) fantasy art. As a little kid all my sketchbooks were covered with fairies, mermaids, centaurs and all sorts of strange otherworldly creatures.
The other side of me, the silly side, always got a kick out of creating characters from every day objects. This I usually did in school.. doodles to make my friends laugh. Put a face on a watermelon and make him look like he was sweating his seeds out and watch my classmates giggle (yes, this character existed and his name was Watty the Wattymelon).
Funny now as an adult and professional artist I still find myself torn between these two styles. I've never found a way to merge them that made me happy, so they'll probably always remain separate parts of me.
When I quit my full time job last November I didn't really know what I was going to do with myself. Focus on my art, that's all I knew. But I didn't know where that would lead me. My first instinct was to sharpen up my digital painting skills.. create some more fantasy art, learn better how to depict the human face and form with a little more realism. I did that for months, and was really proud of the work that came out of me during that time.
In the meantime I was also submitting my vector illustrations to Threadless (tshirts) in the hopes I'd make some side cash if they printed any of my designs on their tees. I had one design successfully printed through them, and wanted more!
It was then I realized that people were responding with much more enthusiasm to my illustrations than to my fantasy work. It was a strange realization for me.. these little characters I created, usually in just a few minutes or hours, got way more reactions from people than work I took weeks to complete!
So what's an artist to do?
What I did, was start a t-shirt company
. If Threadless wouldn't print my designs (even though they were scoring very well and I knew people loved them), then I would do it myself. I used Kickstarter to get myself off the ground. I figured I only needed about $5K to get started, and it would probably take me the full 30 days of begging to get to my goal, if I even got there at all. I WAS WRONG. So wrong. I hit my $5K goal in 17 hours. I ended just $20 shy of $12,000.
That right there was what I needed to confirm that this was the best route for me right now. I am still creating art that I love, people respond to, and will actually give me money to have! I look at tees as wearable art.. it's a print, but one you can show off to everyone.
The other thing I learned from this experience.. I needed to have more confidence in myself as an artist. Like a lot more!!!
I am still creating fantasy art (sadly starting a new business takes up A LOT of your time, I have learned). I will never give that up though, it's my first love. But the funny side of me says "keep making people giggle!" Because everyone appreciates a good laugh