Your Brand is the Artist’s new Job Description

Hey Artist, what does your BRAND look like?

A can of Artist Soup

Branding: The word ARTIST should be curved a bit shouldn’t it? It makes the can look flat.

Along with change, comes opportunity for artists

I hadn’t really developed brand for myself like I should have. I’ve been a freelance illustrator for almost 25 years and for the first 20 or so, it was business as usual. In the last five to seven years I’ve seen more changes in our industry than ever before. In some ways I must confess that if given the choice to see big changes or keep business as usual I would have ignorantly chosen the latter. Change isn’t fun. Change can be hard, change is usually painful. Change is scary because not knowing feels insecure and most of us crave security. But the reality is that change is on the menu to stay – so our choices are to dine or leave the restaurant and starve.

Being your own boss can be tough, “I hate my boss?”

In the past you were odd if you called yourself a freelancer. To most of the “normal” 9-5 crowd a freelancer was synonymous with freeloader or at best someone living on the fringe. Over time freelancers have become more mainstream. Most freelancers (myself included) own their job. In other words, they get an assignment from a company and then through their skills, crafts, or abilities satisfy that assignment. If they aren’t working they usually aren’t earning so while they have more freedom they still have to work to earn. And often, they/we work longer and harder.

Branding, A new job description for Artists

Now we’re seeing a whole new job description – The artist as “The Product”. Greg Spalenka a world renowned illustrator calls it “Artist as Brand”. In the past and present artist relied on companies to function as the liaison between them and the consumer. For gallery artists it was the gallery. For book illustrators – the publisher. For video game artists – the studio. These entities provide big money to produce and market products using art – the kind of money few artists could generate or commit to themselves. The artist’s risk is time – the companies risk is money. A symbiotic relationship that was virtually the only way – until now.

Artists now have a direct line to the consumer

Don’t get me wrong – I’m not saying that the days of these entities are over by any means but their roles are changing very quickly. The internet has in many ways leveled the playing field. Artists now have a direct line to the consumers for the products they create. “Never before in the history of the world have artists had the opportunity to reach their audiences so efficiently.” ~Wayne Andreason  If you’re a fine artist you can develop a following through a website, social networking, blogging, emailing, etc. And don’t forget Pinterest. The same is true for children’s book illustrators, Picture book artists, graphic novel and comic artists, as well as art educators and so on. You say you want to produce your own video game? What’s stopping you? Many iphone games are now being produced by solo tech savvy artists or artists teamed up with a tech person. A simple upload to itunes and if the game is good they could start raking it in. “Were going to need a bigger rake!”

Nobody will hire me is no longer a valid excuse

The idea is that you can no longer use “nobody will hire me” as an excuse not to produce your own products. Many companies will go out of business in the near future. Many will adapt and thrive. For me I’m looking at each new request for my services in a different light. I’m trying to balance my freelance assignment time with time spent on producing my own projects.

So Write and Illustrate the children’s books

I’ve realized that even though I’ve been illustrating children’s books for over a decade and sold over 750,000 books (all combined) a very small percentage of my audience associates Will Terry with the books I’ve illustrated. This is a huge problem! We usually buy name brand products because people associate the brand with quality. I need to be constantly working on the Will Terry brand and for me one of the easiest ways to do that is to also start to write some of the books I illustrate. The reality is that it’s an authors world and illustrators really take a back seat in many ways. As I see it an illustrator can complain or become an author. Or take a backseat.

Take control of your own branding with technology

Last year as I was getting my brain around the changes I was seeing in art related industries I became frightened and depressed. The insecurity was really getting to me. Now that I’ve started to take control of my own branding I’m finding the future exciting and I’m always thinking of new ways to take advantage of the technology that has fallen in our laps.

Change is coming and it will keep coming. Go with it. Create your brand. Use the technology that is so readily available. Promote yourself. If needs be, start writing.

We’ll be at Salt Lake Comic Con FanX

Come see Will and Wayne Tomorrow at Salt Lake ComicCon FanXperience

Little Batman type fan art Bat Dude

We get to go hang out for three days at the Salt Lake Comic-Con FanX for three days. We will have a booth and we’ll be peddling Will’s wonderful little Fan Art prints of young super heroes. Like little Bat Dude here and tons more. Bat Dude? Well I don’t think we are supposed to just come out and reveal their real identity, what with copy right laws and all.

We usually just go for a walk

Will & Wayne at a Comic Con type gig

Every once in awhile you just gotta get out, hang out or take a walk. Will and I go to the boardroom about three times a week to walk, talk and just enjoy nature. The board room you ask? Oh yeah, that’s what we call the great out doors, our board room. We live so close to the mountains that we just go for a short ride and we are out in the wonderful out doors. We call it the boardroom.


FREE Godzilla Stickers

free godzilla sticker comic con give away

That being said, we will be giving away, FREE stickers of Little GoshZila  here to any and all of you who spend just $20 or more. So go get your money and dome see Will and Wayne at the Salt Lake ComicCon FanXperience March 24-26. That’s 2016, just in case you are looking at this post some time in the future. Yup too late, if it is past March 26, 2016. But don’t cry, there will be other opportunities.

Make money as an Artist

So there’s a tip, one more way to make money as an artist. Create some art, take risk, spend tons of cash to make a bunch of prints or original pieces. Find a Comic Con type gig, spend tons more to rent a table or two. (But not in San Francisco, the table is cheap but they have a union or something, you can’t carry or cart your own stuff to your table. You have to pay some thug about $400 to put in on his cart, if it all fits, and he’ll take it there, if and when he has time. And if your stuff doesn’t all fit on his little cart, he will decide if it does, then you just pay him another $400 to make another trip. We won’t be seeing you in San Francisco) Spend more on a hotel if necessary, and the drive out there, set up, hang out for three days and HOPE that enough people buy your wares. And have good times. That’s the most important part.

Catwoman type Cat Girl Jumping rope. Fan art

think this is what Michelle Pfeiffer looked like as a child.

Ninja Turtle Type Kid Fan Art

Learn how to Art online

Learn how to draw and paint, and other fun art skills at


Book Signing his Picture Books – LA

Book signings are a lot of fun for authors and illustrators

My good friend Will here is just loving the opportunity to meet his fans and attending a book signing. One of the things you will love most about being a children’s book artist going to the book signings and meeting fans and signing books that they can’t wait to take home and read to their kids. If you look real close at our blog and our website, you will soon see that my good friend, Will Terry is the more talented and more famous artist here. I, Wayne Andreason, the other Folio Academy guy, don’t have hoards of peeps asking me to sign anything yet. But I like road trips and fortunately Will and I get to do a lot of cool stuff together. Bro time, if you will.

Book Signing for artist and author at the CTA

Will Terry and Helen Ketteman at the CTA Book Signing in LA

A few years ago, Will was invited to attend a big convention and book signing op for the CTA (California Teachers Association) in L.A. Two years in a row they chose one of his picture books as their spot light book I guess.  He was chosen to be the CTA illustrator in conjunction with “Read Across America” and the CTA chose Armadilly Chili to be their “RAA” book for the state of California for 2010-2011. It was such a great gig because they print up posters, conference folders, pencils, stickers, and for Armadilly – mugs, T-shirts, a plush Tex, and even an apron. Also, Helen Ketteman the author of Armadilly Chili was there to sign books and she’s a hoot. That woman has more energy than the sun!

Sun shining through the city-scape of LAWe were lucky enough to go hang out in LA and eat good food. An awesome road trip on the tax payers dime.

We signed books that evening, well his book signing deal not mine, but I was there helping get books out for people, keeping the line steady, crowd controlling and that. It wasn’t quite like a Justin Bieber concert but it was busy. Then were up at the crack of dawn to sign books all day Saturday. About 1000 teacher reps fly in from all over the state for their council meeting and most of them buy the books to take back to their districts for the upcoming read across America day on March 2nd.

“I was so lucky to get this opportunity!” ~Will Terry

Wayne In font of a cool old vacant diner in or near Vegas

I was so lucky to go too and to share in the fun. We stopped in Vegas to visit family and eat. It’s hard to believe it was so long ago. ~Wayne Andreason

Digital Art work vs Traditional Acrylic Painting

Can you tell which is digital art and which one is Acrylic paint?

Digital Art work of a speeding rat vs a Traditional acrylic painting of the same rat



Digital Art work on the Left vs an Acrylic Illustration on the Right

Pretty cool huh? Check out the texture on the Digital Art (left).

This little mouse, or rat, (depending on what YOU want it to be, (I want it to be a mouse, with teeth) was just a little doodle in my sketchbook that I ended up painting in Photoshop a while back. I posted it just a week or so ago talking about how you may want to make the switch. I also painted it the old fashioned way for an art demonstration for my Media and Techniques class at UVU. I used my dry brush, technique using acrylic paints. I just thought it would be kind of neat to do a side by side comparison.

I paint so dry that I just lightly put some Liquitex heavy gel medium down right in my sketchbook and painted him there. I used to like having a few paintings in my sketchbook – That way I always had a few finished pieces with me wherever I would go. Now of course I carry my i-pad and always doodle, digitally of course, and have a regular portfolio with me all the time. It sucks when you lose it at the airport though. Yes that happened, well almost happened. I went back to where I was sitting and an hour later, it was still there. I am a grateful man.

It is starting to look like I like to paint digitally. I have a secret. I have converted. But don’t get me wrong, I still love a real painting,and if I were to do gallery work, it would be a must. I just really like the switch that I’ve made.

You can learn how to paint digitally at and you can learn my dry brush acrylic technique there too.

Digital Painting, Illustrate in Photoshop

This, How to create Digital art, Painting in Photoshop got things going.

Digital painting in Photoshop. Art lesson by Will Terry


The digital transition was hard for me. But worth it.

Back in the day, I had such a great response to my “How to Illustrate Children’s Books” video series that I decided to make another series that explains in detail how I paint with digital paint in Photoshop. I had many requests over a number of years. to actually make a tutorial on painting in acrylic but I never got around to it. Well not at the time, so about a five years ago I was introduced to digital painting by Jed Henry – he was young illustration graduate and promising new upstart (He’d already sold two books to major New York Publishers. His generosity in helping me learn how to re-create my acrylic style digitally will never be forgotten! So I’m glad to report that I finally got around to doing a tutorial in acrylic painting the old fashioned way too. It was tough because I am so converted to digital illustration now.

Before Folio Academy I was Teaching Illustration at a University.

I was teaching at UVU, AKA Utah Valley University, and BYU. I wanted to show some technique on video so my students could log into a demo at their leisure. When the first one was such a success I decided that my peeps may want this one too. Little by little, my best friend Wayne and I created

Any who…

In this video series I go from sketch to finish, describing processes like: making and importing a texture, under-painting, value, brushes, layering, design, and many other aspects of coming up with your own personal way of thinking and working. If you want to know how I paint from start to finish you might be interested in these videos.

Just to be clear – these videos are not a general “How To” in Photoshop but rather a “How Will Terry fumbles his way into a digital painting with a very limited knowledge of Photoshop” In other words you could say these are Photoshop videos for dummies like me. I try to use as few tools as possible because part of my philosophy is simplicity and reduction lead to purity and essence.

Above is the digital painting that I start and finish in the videos so if you hate that painting DON’T BUY THE VIDEOS! :) Click here to purchase the video.

Self Publish Your Art Your Stories and Your Illustrations

Warning! Self Publishing Artists and writers are going digital, you might regret it if you don’t

A Running Rat

I’m no expert here – but I do self publish and I have to share what I’ve learned both as encouragement and as a warning. If you want to how to write your children’s books and or illustrate children’s books, now’s the time.

I hope to help you find the motivation to start self publishing your own stories and illustrations digitally. The warning is that if you don’t do it soon you might have regrets in a year or two or sooner.

Lowly Self publishers compete with big business

I’ve been doing a lot of reading of various blogs and web pages about self publishing digitally and most agree that we are seeing a change in publishing the likes of which we haven’t seen in our life times. Until now the gate keepers have been large traditional publishers. They held the keys because they could afford to put up the tens of thousands of dollars to print large runs of picture books. Also, they had established complicated distribution channels that an individual author, or illustrator/artist would be hard pressed to compete with. Most of this hasn’t changed. The day of the large publisher is definitely NOT over and I’m glad – I like the publishers I work with, and most of them have been very good to me.

E books cost so little to self publish

What has changed is how inexpensive it is to publish your work which means that one of the two cards that publishers held, has evaporated. Now the only real advantage a large publisher has is a distribution channel. I’m not underestimating how important this channel is either. Large traditional publishers have relationships with stores that you and I do not. They have publicists working for them to promote our books and editors to polish the final products. They have customers that they’ve established long before you or I ever worked with them, and way before we put on our author and illustrator/artist hats. They know the business better than we. They submit our books to all the major book awards and from what I’ve been told that list is well over 200. Imagine trying to research, compile, address, and pay for 200 give away books and shipping, just to put them in the hands of jurors who probably won’t pick your book anyway. And I’m sure there are a lot more things that they do that I’m overlooking.

The E-Book opportunity may not last for self publishers

The time is now, will, maybe a few years ago but I still see a huge opportunity that isn’t going to last forever. Like the Oklahoma pan handle rush of 1889 there was opportunity for a limited time and then it was OVER. For the first time in our lives a new platform is emerging that is giving the early birds a distinct advantage. I’m sure that you’ve all thought about e-books – I have been for the past year or more. However, I never realized how important it is to be first to market until I started reading and researching. It only takes an hour or so poking around on Amazon or Barnes and Noble to see self published books doing extremely well.

The new e-book digital format is growing

Awhile ago I published my first e-book – Monkey & Croc at Barns and Noble and it’s done pretty well on B&N. The only reason it did so well as it is – is because of the lack of competition. When I published it there were a little over 500 e-books for children ages 3-5 on B&N. Crazy right? Think of how many thousands of books there are in hard copy in that group. Look, I don’t even own an ereader but you can’t ignore this new format – it’s coming on strong. Amazon said that for any particular book that they sell in physical format – they sell 48 digital copies of the same book.

Intellectual property, art and words and pixels for sale.

Aside for being early to market you can afford to sell an ebook for only a few dollars because the only cost you have is your time. Right now the big publishers are selling their ebooks in most cases for about the same price as their hardbacks. This is another reason to get your book to market quickly. While they sell their books high – we can sell ours low and create an advantage for the buyer. Think about it…if you bought a new ereader or ipad and you wanted to load it with content wouldn’t you gamble on a few unproven $2 and $3 books since the alternatives are $12.99 books that you might already own?

I believe there’s still time to capitalize on the e-book movement

My belief is that if you can create a following due to timing – your book could gain the kind of momentum that could build a franchise. If this happens there’s also a good chance that a traditional publisher would want to buy your book and print hard copies. Another option is that you incorporate a print on demand publisher and offer hard copies on your own. Either way the future is bright for self published books. I think that there will always be a place for large publishers but now there is a much larger place for self publishers.

Join a critique group, writers or illustrators, find help

Some drawbacks: You won’t have the benefit of an editor and this places a great responsibility back on your shoulders. My suggestion is to acquire the help of a professional writer and/or join a critique group that can help you polish your story. Another obstacle is finding software that will easily let you turn your jpeg images into an e-book. This was a very frustrating process for me and without the help of my brother in law I don’t think I would have been able to release Monkey & Croc. There has been talk about Barnes and Noble, Amazon, and Itunes holding back publishing software and only releasing it to large publishers. Monkey & Croc suffered a bit with a few minor hiccups because we couldn’t get that software. I think that this will soon change as open source programs become available. Where there is a need someone will fill it.

I published Monkey & Croc on Barnes and Noble’s site. They take 35% of every sale but they give you an account for free and you can check your sales in your back office any time you like. It’s neat to go in and check every day or so.

It’s amazing what parents will let their children do if it means education

Finally for those who don’t think that parents won’t turn their kids loose with an expensive e-reader to beat up, you’re right. However think of the advantages – Carrying an unlimited amount of picturebooks on a plane, train, or automobile will keep kids pacified much longer than the few books parents can carry in hard copy form. And how nice will it be for the parents who have long commutes with children in tow to and from day cares. How long do you think it will be before they develop the kid proof ereader? I suspect it’s around the corner.

At the beginning of my illustration career I was asked to complete an illustration about e-mail – I asked the art director, “What is email”. It’s happening now.

The Artist in You

An Artist is trying to manifest itself

young Will Terry, the Artist to be, and his elder sister

“It wasn’t that I took pleasure in removing their heads”

Every child is an artist, in one way or another. I  don’t know if you can see it, look real close. Do you see that? That little boy has an artist trying to find it’s way out. My parents should have known when I took apart my brand new transistor radio. My sisters should have known when I removed their barbie doll heads – it wasn’t that I took pleasure in the removal of the heads. It was seeing how many different reactions I could create in their emotions. By the time my motor skills really developed I painted my masterpiece – Three barbie doll heads, owned by three different sisters all coming off at the same time. Magnifique!

Without boring you with all the details I had a pretty typical American exposure to art in junior high and high school. He was always pretty good but there were always those who were much better.

Getting into college was a challenge

I really didn’t fit in the one size is supposed to fit all public school system. I had quite a bit of trouble with reading comprehension, science and history always netted below average grades and forget about math…that left art and music…the only two bright spots on my report card.

On the other hand the little girl in the picture was destined for academic honors…if you look close you can see that she knows it too. :) (Love you Beth- look what she does!)

My art skills were keeping me in the game. 

So on to college and more bad grades in english, (shouldn’t that be capitalized? How should I know, I’m an artist) history, science, and math – what’s new right? Art on the other hand was still keeping me in the game with my grades. Kind of like adding bases to acids. (I did remember that from science class)

Then…upon applying for the BFA (Bachelor of Fine Arts) at BYU I distinctly remember hearing the earth crack as I was barely allowed in on probation. PROBATION???!!! in art??? but I’m supposed to be good at art – at least that’s what everyone had been telling me. How could this be? If not art then what?

I finally had to come to terms with the fact that my past effort had taken me as far as I could coast. It was time to admit that I wasn’t the savant I thought I was. That I had to get to work – that I had to humble myself and start listening and learning from my teachers – mainly Richard Hull and Bob Barrett – also Rob Colvin. If not for them I wouldn’t be able to enjoy a successful illustration career. (Ironically I was later hired to teach part time at BYU by Richard Hull)

One of the reasons I wanted to release my “How To Illustrate Children’s Books” video series is to help others learn those very important principles that can be the difference between success and failure. I know how frustrating it is to wallow in depression when a piece doesn’t work out….when you spend a lot of time on an image and you wish you had never started it. I know what it’s like to try to talk yourself into liking your own work. And I know what it feels like when you show a new piece to someone and their facial expressions just can’t lie as good as their lips….and how when you work and re-work a piece and re-work it some more you want to smash it and scream. Been there. I’ll admit it I’ve shed real tears over my art and I don’t cry very often…although “Driving Miss Daisy” gets me every time.

I wanted to post this as encouragement to my fellow artists – and leave you with this: I’ve realized that all those frustrations, emotions, disappointments and tears have led to one happy camper. I love my job  :)

How To Illustrate Children’s Books

It is easier to Illustrate Children’s Books when you know how.

This has been one of our best sellers and most watched video courses.

Doing artwork and illustrating in your spare time.

Cover of How to Illustrate Children's Books, the Art Lesson Video SeriesWill Terr worked on this video series while his kids played xbox and his wife caught up on her reading. It was a choice between relaxing doing dishes, cleaning bathrooms, and taking my turn cooking OR…Making a video series. It was a toss up – on one hand he’d get the satisfaction of cleaning and watching his kids mess it up again or creating something that he had been thinking about for quite some time.

We are all glad he let the kitchen go and created this wonderful art lesson.

Video is a much better medium for showing someone exactly what you mean

I’ve put quite a bit of work into my college picture book class but I always thought I could do more with it. In class the images that I show are static and often leave me feeling that I could have done better. Video is a much better medium for showing someone exactly what you mean in many cases. Don’t get me wrong – I demo in my classes but sometimes you just aren’t prepared or equipped to do exactly what you want. I’ve tried to include just about every aspect of the children’s book making process in this series to provide viewers with a basic knowledge of what they need to work on.

It has been nice to help others learn Narrative ILLUSTRATION

0001bIt’s definitely not perfect but I’m proud of the work I put into it and hope that it brightens the lives of those who want to learn more about narrative illustration. Perhaps this isn’t your cup of tea but if you know anyone who might appreciate it send them a link.

picture of some character development Thanks and have a beautiful day.