Dear Bright Spark, (It’s that or Firestarter)
Do you have your favorite beverage with you? If not I’ll wait.
What are you having? I’m having coffee, black.
You know when I used to write every day, not writing, became hard. And as I write only my second post of the week after taking a stint off. I’m finding it really hard to write. I actually wrote pages and pages in my notebook but couldn’t see why you would find any of it interesting.
What if you went first? I Have 3 questions you can answer either one or all three and I’ll go next.
Here are the questions:
What have you been working on in the past week?
What are you waiting for?
What are you reading?
In the past week,
…starting the week before actually, I’ve been working on a Sample. Which is a technical term in publishing where the illustrator creates work on spec with the goal of getting the job. So far the samples I’ve done have been paid for. Which means they will pay you if you don’t get the job.
Of the 3 samples I’ve done in my short career as an illustrator, I’ve gotten two of them. And the one I didn’t get still makes me angry when I think about it. This will be my fourth. And this is the sample (don’t share it it’s just between us) - There’s space for text and this was my original interpretation of the brief.
The designer wrote back with feedback and additional direction. (This has happened every time I got the job, and didn’t happen the one time I didn’t get the job) Here’s the revised illustration.
And here you might get a glimpse of my artistic vision as compared to a publisher’s vision. In all the books I’ve worked on, it feels like the team I work with has shaped or directed my work to fit particular markets. This shaping does have some lasting effect on my baseline artistic vision.
I remember when I had a portfolio review with a publishing director before getting any work. He said, now all you need to do is do some live projects. The last and ongoing part of my education as an illustrator is to work on live projects.
Send prayers and good vibes for me to get the project. Thanks!
What I’m waiting for…
… as you’ve already guessed is to hear back from this publisher. Along with another three publishers that I currently have projects with. I’ve sent in roughs for the 3 projects and am waiting for consolidated feedback so we can go to the color stage. There is a lot of waiting in publishing, you’re going to need strategies for that.
My strategy is to start another project. The challenge comes when all the different projects come back with their feedback. The good news is that the timeframes are long enough and always negotiable. And I have a near-perfect sense of how long I need to get each part of the project done, a decent command of my calendar, and the confidence to negotiate. These three skills play a big part in how smoothly the project runs and in my opinion, are as important as the actual ability to make images.
So I’m simultaneously waiting, but also not waiting…
What I’m reading…
One subject that I’ve been fascinated with since I was 11, is neuroscience. Perhaps because I’m neurodivergent. Just this week I picked up “Mastermind: How to think like Sherlock Holmes” which uses the classic detective character to explain various strategies for sharpening cognitive ability. It’s a science book and a literary study in one. This is a note I made from the book which I featured in Thursday’s Newsletter.
So that’s me..
There are four dozen of us in here, it’s a cozy group, why not tell everyone what you’ve been up to by leaving a comment? Or if you want to just tell me, you can by replying to this email.
PS: I’m slowly making progress in labeling and editing all the old notes (it will take months to finish).
P.P.S: Let me know if there are questions you’d like us to answer in future editions of this Sunday Letter. Or any questions you have of me personally.
Next week, we’re going to talk about Character Sheets becauseasked about them.
Nice to have you back!
1. I have been refreshing my online presence by updating banners, creating a new profile picture and writing new ‘About Me’ copy. I have also been doing my ‘pre-rough’ work on some personal pieces. This involves some research, some super rough sketching and lots of in-my-head composition and ideation. I find my best work comes when I can give myself a few days of this.
2. I am waiting to be able to show a piece of work that I am quite pleased with. Have to wait until, I think, the end of June. It occurred to me this morning that I could create a new piece that works in a similar way, but is different. So maybe I’ll do that. Or maybe I’ll continue waiting.
3. I’m reading The Last Party by Clare Mackintosh. I’m also looking for and reading blog posts and articles about getting an agent, as I feel I would really benefit from having one at this point.
In no particular order, I’m reading lots of things here on substack. Too many really as I’m getting so absorbed that I’m not doing other things that need doing! I’ve been working on my own Substack, tying to decide whether I should add a paid subscription option. I’d not considered it previously as I didn’t really think anyone would pay to read what I write, but other ideas are blossoming in my mind currently.. I’m waiting (but trying not to think about it) for a feature to come out sharing my substack and for some business calls to chat about next things 😊