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Illustration

Molly Crabapple on Thriving as an Artist in the Internet Age

Posted by Rebecca Blake on February 04, 2015

Artist and writer Molly Crabapple is no stranger to controversy, having co-founded the burlesque life-drawing class Dr Sketchy’s Anti-Art School, creating large-scale works on the financial collapse for a crowd-funded exhibit, The Shell Game, and reporting in words and illustration on topics such as Guantanamo Bay for Vice. She also has come into her own as a creator during the Internet age, an era constant and rapid change in the ways artists grow their careers. It’s not surprising that she was asked to share her thoughts on achieving creative success in that rough-and-tumble environment.

In “Molly Crapapple’s rules for creative success in the Internet Age” Crabapple offers some pithy and realistic advice for artists.  She addresses the pitfalls of comparing one’s success to others, advising creators to take a close look at the trajectory of well known artists’ careers, and pointing out that her own success was not the result of a “big break.” Much of her advice is the kind of common sense your mother would pass on (but expressed in refreshingly frank language): don’t be a jerk, treat your fans with respect, don’t be lazy, move past rejection.

It’s when she addresses the financial aspects of working as a creator that Crabapple hits hard. She particularly advises against working for free – either by creating original work for contests, or for clients with money – pointing out those who do so are gutting the market for other artists. Some of her strongest language is reserved for online platforms that encourage artists to post work: “They're just using you to build their own thing, and they'll discard you when they sell the company a few years later.”

She summarizes by encouraging artists to be idealistic about their art even while being cynical of the business of art. As she wrote, “Nothing will save us but ourselves and each other.”

Illustration © Molly Crabapple. Used with permission.

Artists, Money, and Envy

Posted by Rebecca Blake on January 26, 2015

Colleen DoranWhen the San Francisco Gate reported that author Danielle Steele’s assistant embezzled $400,000 from her accounts, many comments to the article relished the author’s financial woes. The rancor of comments led cartoonist/writer Colleen Doran to muse on the conflicted relationship artists have with money. It’s a situation made toxic by low expectations, envy, and hackneyed stereotypes.

In Art and Money, Doran describes her pursuit of financial stability as a bid for freedom to pursue her art — a habit of fiscal prudence she shares with F. Scott Fitzgerald. Yet artists who are financially successful are met with scornful envy. Doran writes:

“What sick mixed messages this ambivalence about material success sends to creators. They are constantly told they are fools for being artists, doing work for the love. Then they are told they are fools for doing art for money. They are fools for not managing money well. Then they are told that artists are constitutionally incapable of handling money because they are foolish artists.”

(Fitzgerald is spared this abuse because he died practically destitute, although because of his wife’s overwhelming medical bills, rather than any artistic financial ineptitude.)

The point of Doran’s article is one that she repeatedly makes: knowing how to manage money can make the difference between being a full-time artist, or one held back by juggling thankless part-time jobs. Buying into the stereotype of the starving artist, and denigrating those who are successful only holds artists back from realizing their goals as creators and successful business owners.

Photo of Colleen Doran used with permission.

Making Brands (or at Least Their Logos) Responsive

Posted by Rebecca Blake on January 22, 2015

Last fall, UK designer Joe Harrison unveiled his exploration of scalable logos. The result was Responsive Logos, a simplistic website featuring the logos of major brands such as Coca Cola, Walt Disney, and Kodak. As the viewer resizes the browser window, the logos respond, becoming both smaller, and stripping away elements. At the window’s smallest size, the smallest recognizable feature remains: Chanel’s interlocking Cs, the Guiness harp, Nike’s swoosh. As Harrison wrote on his website, “The concept aims to move branding away from fixed, rigid guidelines into a more flexible and contextual system.”

The logo project follows his earlier Responsive Icons project, in which a detailed graphic of a house resizes and sheds gables, windows, the chimney, and the door as the screen resizes. At the screen’s smallest size, only a simple house shape is left. Harrison started the project to explore “the perfect balance of simplicity in relation to screen size.”

Both projects utilize SVG files, deployed as image sprites. The sprites are packaged with CSS rules and media queries into an encapsulated SVG file. Smashing Magazine analyzed Harrison’s Responsive Icon project, and published a detailed how-to. They conclude that scalable SVG icons satisfy some key needs, for responsive ads, logos, and application icons. With Responsive Logos, Harrison elegantly illustrates their application in branding.

Logos from screenshot of Responsive Logos. Used with permission.

Responsive Logos screenshot

In Memoriam: Charlie Hebdo

Posted by Rebecca Blake on January 12, 2015

Graphic Artists Guild members have been contributing artwork in the memory of the cartoonists and staff killed at Charlie Hebdo’s offices last week. Below is a sampling of the submissions.

All artwork is copyrighted to the artist, and used with permission.


© JP Schmelzer JP Schmelzer


© Michael DaterMichael Dater


Doug Jennings


© Lisa ShaftelLisa Shaftel


© Diane Barton Diane Barton


© Jennifer MertzJennifer Merz


Anonymous World Citizen

Guild Statement on Charlie Hebdo Shootings

Posted by Rebecca Blake on January 07, 2015

The Graphic Artists Guild stands in support of our French colleagues, and the freedom of expression of all authors and creators. Our deepest condolences to the families and friends of the journalists, cartoonists and staff at the Charlie Hebdo office in Paris.


To see examples of Charlie Hebdo's satirical covers, visit the review on The Daily Beast.

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