Personal ART Projects for Personal Progress

All Artists Should be Working on Their Own Personal ART Projects

a personal art piece by artist, Will Terry.







You’ve got to be working on personal projects.

By this I mean, something that you want to do for you, a non commissioned piece. You don’t have to have someone tell you what to do in order to create a nice piece for your portfolio.

When I was in School I would do some things just for me, or for fun or just for my portfolio. Other students would often ask me what assignment “that was for” and I would tell them that it wasn’t for an assignment. They couldn’t believe I would work if I didn’t have to. But I was working for me.

Some of my best pieces, were little things that I did as personal projects. These personal art pieces were also a big help in me finding me, or finding my style, or niche.


Keep it Simple, Stupid

By this I mean no disrespect, I am going with the KISS ACRONYM.

The most important thing about these personal pieces, I would say is to make them small, and therefor doable. That is to say, FINISH them. If you think you are going to create this gigantic masterpiece for you portfolio, you might be right, but more often than not, you are less likely to finish a BIG MASTERPIECE than a sweet little doable personal art project, especially at first. So remember KISS, not the rock band, the acronym. Keep It Simple, Stupid.


Start with Small Art Projects

I suggest you start with something small. Make one finished piece that will go into you portfolio, or not if it doesn’t turn out. Maybe your goal could be, not to stop until you get that little thing finished. Here comes another sports analogy. If you were going to run a marathon you wouldn’t just start a marathon. You need to work up to it.

One of the dangers is to want to bite off more than you will chew. Notice I didn’t say more that you can chew, but more than you will chew. I know that you can do what ever you put your mind to, so I’m saying, that you are more likely to put your mind to something that is simple, and therefor finish it, especially at first.


Tell that Negative voice to shut up!

The danger of choosing a personal art piece that is too grandiose is that you are less likely to finish it, and if you fail to actually do it, you are training yourself that A, YOU don’t always finish what you start, and B, it is OK to fail. Like if you decide to do a complete comic book or picture book and put it out there on Kickstarter, you may fail or run out of time or just get sick of it. Then you have that stupid little voice in your head that is there for all of us, you know, that voice that says “you won’t finish this” then if you DON’T finish, it will say, “see? I told you soo”. So beet the negative little voice,  choose small, doable, personal little projects, and complete them. Tell that little voice to SHUT UP!


Graduate to bigger projects, if you want.

I am finally getting to the point where I am finishing a story app. It is a big endeavor, but I have done dozens of smaller personal projects in the past and several big projects too. Even though I have done a lot before, this one is still a little tough, I gotta be honest. I still have that negative voice, and I have to keep telling myself that It will get done. I have to remember to enjoy the journey and the process along the way.


Choose something the YOU want to do.


Choose a personal piece that you want to do. If you are creating something that you want to do, it will be more fun and more likely to turn out. I have a friend who loves animals, so she paints animals. If you have a hard time with people, stay away from people or work on parts that you can conquer, like a back or torso, then build up to the harder stuff, work on something that you can do. Cats maybe, or a plate with fish on it. Who knows what you will like. Take something boring and make it exciting. They don’t all have to be gems.


 Take Some Risk

I’m not saying to invest a lot of money here, But I do want you do invest a little time and energy, and challenge yourself. Not too much at first, we need to have some successes to build confidence and self esteem.

Remember in an earlier blog I mentioned that a child likes to draw and paint and create artwork because it is fun and fulfilling. Not because she thinks it will make her a lot of money. Don’t kid yourself that you are going to sell all of your personal pieces and make bank. That isn’t the motivation here. Ironically, that is the work that will get you closer to making money as an artist, Or making more money as an artist. And who knows, you may monetize your personal pieces. The more you have, the more likely you will be to sell a few. Who knows. Some artists create a little personal piece of artwork every day and then sell them on their website. And that’s all they do. Win Win Win. Artist improves and hones his skill, artist makes money and end buyer gets a valuable piece of artwork.

Most of the projects I have done, I would say, well that negative little voice in my head that just won’t mind his own business and shut his big yap, would say, they mostly all failed. But did they? Well I didn’t capitalize on all of them, but they all helped me develop my style, my portfolio, my talent and my art stamina. So NO, they did not fail. They all succeeded in one way or another, even if just to keep me in the zone and to help hone my skill.

Just Do It!

Get on it and do a personal piece and then do another. To steel a quote from NIKE, “Just Do It”  and before that, Spencer W. Kimball, who used to say “Do it!” You just gotta do it.

My seventh grade, wood shop teacher, Mr. Swayze would always say, “Git-R-Done!”

“Git-R-Started might have been a better tag line because that seems to be the hard part every day when you looking at that blank canvas or work in progress. So Git-R-Started and Git-R-Done!”

Don’t Worry About Perfection

It’s a personal project so you don’t have to worry if it isn’t perfect or if doesn’t turn out. Everyone has at least 1000 bad paintings in them so feel free to get a few of them out of your system. You don’t have to hand it in to an art director, so you need not stress. Learn from it, try new things, this is where you can totally be you. If it sucks, don’t show it to anyone. Don’t throw it away either, at least not yet. You may want to use it as an example someday when you are teaching.





Tips for Illustrators & Students Part 2: Why Are You an Artist?

We are Artists Because IT USED TO BE FUN!

I became and Artist cuz art is fun.

I became and Artist cuz art is fun.

I want to start this by asking you, how did you get into art?  What made you start producing art?  Was it just for fun? Were you just a kid?  Did you get into art because people asked you to draw things for them?  I honestly doubt that you got into art because other people asked you to. Most of us got into art to make cool stuff and because it was fun and fulfilling.

There is much amazing stuff out there, and we looked out at it and decided we wanted to make our own and show it to the world.

Do you want to be an Illustrator, an Artist, or an Employee? 

Art is fun.

Art is fun.

Yet so many artists who have spent so long learning, and practicing get to a certain point, like when they’re about to finish school, and they start thinking about getting out of school, becoming an Artist, an illustrator, or just thinking about how to make money with their art skills.

After that all of a sudden we want to get hired. So we can get paid. So we can eat. We want to be employees.  We start looking for someone else to tell us what to do (or draw) so we can make a living, and so we can eat.

We get asked to draw something that isn’t fun or we get asked to do something that takes away from our vision.

What can I do To Make Money as an Artist?

I don’t want to discourage you, there is nothing wrong with working with and helping other people. I want to help open your mind to other possibilities.

It started with students across the country, and now it’s students all over the world. People want to be hired.

The main thing I am asked is, “what can I draw to make money?” I think it’s backwards, is that why we became artist? I’m not saying it’s inherently wrong, but it’s not why we started.

I’m in a position now that I can pick and choose. I’ve put in a lot of work that I ended up hating but I’ve also put a lot of work into my children’s books that I’ve really enjoyed, and I enjoyed the people I’ve worked with.


But is that the only way or are there other things that we can do? Have you ever thought that musicians, authors, actors, videographers, and gallery artists are more entrepreneurial than illustrators. Think about that, are they?

What is wrong with Illustrators.  And this is a generalization. Musicians move to Austin, or Nashville, or they record in a friend’s house, and now with the internet a lot of them are starting their own YouTube channels. Comedians are starting their own YouTube channels. Actors move to Hollywood or start YouTube channels, Gallery-Artists make something and try to get someone to buy it. Writers write something and hope publishers buy it, or they publish it on Amazon and sell it directly. Like Amanda Hopkins.

Illustrators Want to be hired, commissioned, or just get a job. 

What’s the difference between us Illustrators, and all the other artists? Ask yourself and try to answer that question. A graphic designer decided to publish his own small books. I have a friend who owns a graphic design studio, and we first started working together about ten, fifteen years ago. And he would hire me, he was getting contracts from Children’s book publishers, and he would hire me to do covers and inside spreads.

A couple years ago he hired me to do some work for a children’s book with a publisher I had never heard of before, why because it was new, it also happened to be him or his publishing company. He decided ‘you know what, I can make one of these myself’. And he’s still publishing books, and even some e-books online.

The Internet has Been a Real Game Changer. 

If you are a teenager or in your mid-twenties, you probably grew up with the internet. Not knowing life without it. I wonder if the internet is more impressive to me someone who lived without it. I can’t speak for someone who lived without cars, or plains.  But I worked without the internet. I don’t want to just assume that I appreciate something more than you, but I wonder how I ever got along without it.

There are thousands of people on YouTube who picked themselves.  People who just decided to utilize this wonderful tool. Some decided, “Hey! I’m going to broadcast the news, and I’m going to make money doing it”, and they’re doing it.

You got the guys who did kid history, (Bored Shorts) and the guys who do honest trailers, (Screen Junkies) look them up, or click the link. But don’t get sucked in, your focus is here right now.

Prank vs prank, there’s that guy from Utah “tipping servers $200”.  Video recorded it, and put it on Youtube.  By my calculations I’d say he cleared $20,000 just posting that one idea.

Now you don’t “NEED” the middle man.

You can now make a free service like Youtube, get your own channel (FolioAcademy has one right here that is grossly underutilized by the way).

My Kid History friends at Bored Shorts are talking to Disney right now, who may end up buying their channel of videos and if they do it’s going to be big.  By the way That guy who filmed the tipping video has over a hundred million views, when you do that, you get noticed, and even make money with advertising. There are tons of review channels too. Someone decides “Hey! I am going to review this product.” Have you ever noticed that whenever someone decides something they start by saying “Hey!” My friend Jedd Henry who did Yukio Heroes. Michal Dowdled who makes his own puzzles of all the famous cities.  He picked himself, Kazu who made flight, People who made their own web comics. That oatmeal guy (I love that guy) Music,  everyone in music is getting involved,  Indie Music, it’s when YOU decide that Hey! you are a musician, you don’t wait for it.

They don’t teach this stuff in public schools. 

The guy’s running public school never taught this, because so many of them didn’t create anything.

My slam on public schools, they do not teach creativity.  They teach people to obey the rules and math and language and science. And WE need that, OK we do but we also need creativity.

We have not been equipped for this world, and public schools haven’t either, our parents and friends and the world is all telling us what to do.  Go to college, get good grades so you can get a job. It makes sense, it’s safe. But ask these guys who have “picked themselves”, they don’t worry about safe.

This is starting to run long so I’m going to have to have a part 3 and maybe part 4 and more.

Okay my next posts will share some strategies, like: Things that I’ve learned, Things that I’m trying to apply now, and ways for an artist to be more entrepreneurial.

How to Make an App – Step 3

How To Make A Story App – Step 3 

Set yourself apart from the competition

Decide what you can put into your story app that will be unique to set yourself apart from the competition. This might take some brain storming but it’s worth it.

Be a leader or a follower that surpasses the leader

Are you a follower or a leader? When I look at many of the story apps available in the app store I notice that many creators seem to be playing follow the leader – and some aren’t even following the leaders. It’s hard enough to actually make the app but to put something out that is painfully predictable and average at best is a waste of time. It’s already hard enough to get noticed so don’t make your app forgettable by just doing what the other guys are doing.

If they are all putting coloring book activities in their story apps don’t add a coloring activity – unless you can do it better or different. If the other guys are making every object wiggle with a silly sound when you touch it – yeah you get the picture. We’re at the front of a new technology so don’t assume the other guy is doing it right. This is your app. What do you want to do? Then do that and don’t look back!

Don’t be afraid, Take some risk.

Afraid that you’ll do something other people will scoff or laugh at? Perfect! It’s not art if there’s no risk! Better to fail big and learn than to copy and be forgettable. Be remarkable.

So how can you be original? I think it’s by having one or more unique aspects in your app. Suggestions:

Great story
Great artwork
Animation that is unique to your story
Great voice acting
Integrated music
Unique navigation
Teaches niche moral or principle
Appeals to a niche market
Insert other unique aspect here.

So what am I planning for my app?

Another good question, glad you asked.

1. I think Rick Walton wrote a unique story for us – but the market will decide that.
2. I’m going to work hard on the artwork so I’m hoping to impress in that category.
3. I’m working on animation that helps further the story.
4. I will hire voice actors to enhance the experience.
5. Instead of page turns my app will navigate up, down, back, and forward.
6. The story has a sustainable living theme running throughout.

Like I’ve written before – none of this is a guarantee of commercial success but all I can do is put out the best I’m capable of in a reasonable amount of time and then begin work on the next app.

I’m really looking forward to beginning the Kwik class in a few weeks! Learning how to program my own app without any programing experience is going to enable me to take control of my app creating bug! More info on the class here. 

Tune in September 30, for part-4.

UVU Student Breaks World Record with her Artwork

Inez Harwood breaks the world record for longest tie-dye as her BFA capstone project.

Inez Harwood and her world record artwork.

Inez Harwood, a student of Utah Valley University in Orem Utah, breaks the world record for the longest single piece of “Tie-Died cloth.

Vibrant Prtotest, by Inez Harwood

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THere is a lot of artistic talent coming out of uvu

“UVU is fast becoming the best University in Utah valley for to learn art and illustration”, says artist Wayne Andreason of FolioAcademy. The program is constantly improving, as well as the staff. The program tries to attract faculty that are not just teachers but professionals with teaching skills, who mentor students for the art business market. Harwood’s project required cooperation from several departments at Utah Valley University a few shall be listed: Art and Visual Communications Painting and Drawing, Theater Arts, Musical Arts, Center for the Advancement of Leadership, School of Business, Academic Emergence Services, Grants Office. Community Assistance from the City of Orem, Wolverine Crossing and Dharma Trading Company.

Student Inez Harwood is a Traumatic Brain Injury survivor who faces ongoing health challenges and disability, she found a strong support community at Utah Valley University. Inez is a new genre artist which requires considerable leadership, and organizational skills. She began her journey more than one year before the art happening, when she proposed her idea to the Center for the Advancement of Leadership. Inez and C.A.L. began meeting regularly to coach her on how to develop the project. A process that helped Harwood learn how to write a public art grant and business proposal. Months before the physical work of the project began Harwood would have to develop the bureaucratic and financial development aspects of the project, including environmental study of the effects of dye and municipal water usage policies, gaining access to public works resources, finding a donated studio location, finding sponsors, hiring a studio staff, project manager, business manager, secretary, publicist, janitor, and community volunteer coordinator. Then once the team had been trained, the real work began.
In January 2013 Harwood moved into the donated studio at Wolverine Crossing with a 850 pound roll of fabric and began the tie process. Three months later, on March 7, 2013 Inez and over 200 volunteers rinsed and stretch the brightly colored fabric around the two retaining ponds west of U.V.U’s Hall of Flags.
This world record art work stretches 2945 feet 7 inches in length, breaking the previous world record held by Japan by 200 feet. This beautiful masterpiece was woven in South Carolina by Inman Mills with 100 percent domestically grown cotton, the approximately 970 pound tie-dye cloth by American artist Inez Harwood, 36, was made of using 120 pounds of dye and 8,000 zip-ties; originally measuring 3,153 feet long, it sets the new world record for the longest tie-dye cloth, to be published after verification process later this year in the Guinness World Records.

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Record breaking piece of art is 2945 feet 7 inches long

This world record piece of art work stretches 3153 feet in length. Naturally I wonder what the previous record was. Probably 3152 feet. (or less) This beautiful masterpiece was

Woven in South Carolina’s Inman Mills with 100 percent domestically grown cotton, the approximately 950 pounds heavy tie-and-dye cloth by American artist Inez Harwood, 36, was made of using 120 pounds of dye and 8,000 zip-ties; measuring 3,153 feet long, it sets the new world record for the Longest tie-and-die cloth, according to the World Record Academy:

You can see the colorful record breaking Tie-Died piece, Vibrant Protest: Liberty, at the Woodbury Art Museum in Orem, Utah until April 27th 2013.

Cool Huh? If you could hold a world record, what would you want it to be for?