Friday, June 18, 2010

Illustrators Unite!!!

Monkey, as he slowly builds up his portfolio to start taking over the illustration world, has stumbled upon some awesome resources. Here he is with two reviews:

First off, Escape From Illustration Island is a fantastic blog that has troves of awesome articles, great links, and handy information for the beginning illustrator. Written by Thomas James, there are lots of great stuff that I wish I had found about contact lists, marketing strategies, and also portfolio sites (useful info before rebranding my own portfolio site, I'll definitely be making some changes to the site. If anything, the man is WONDERFUL about posting easy-to-figure-out instructions (how to make a basic wordpress portfolio/blog site anyone?), and the community over there seems pretty fantastic.

Anyhoo, if you're interested in illustration, an illustrator who hasn't found this site yet, or someone who wants to get started in illustration, I highly recommend this site. Check it out!

Also, if you happen to have $495 + hotel and food expenses laying around in your budget (sadly, I don't right now but I'm working on it), you should check out The Illustration Conference (aka ICON) that'll be happening in early July down in Pasadena, CA. After reading the program of the events, I almost want to punch myself in the face for not budgeting for this earlier. If I can't make it this year, I'm most definitely going to plan for this event in 2011.

Seriously, James Jean? Yoko Shimizu? The Clayton Brothers? Gallery Nucleus events? Irene Gallo? The Art Directors for the NYT, Scholastic Books, etc., etc., etc.? Hot damn, this is the place to be. Anyway, definitely let us know if you're going, as we'd love to pick your brain after you get back!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

SF Etsy Trunk Show - Woot!

The #1 biggest danger for Monkey + Seal when they hit up craft fairs is that they are introduced to other artists and crafters with totally awesome things that we end up wanting to buy. There is always usually a little bit of down-time at any show, and naturally, we like to see what other people are doing. This is when the danger beings.

At the Artist Xchange gallery (at 3169 16th St x Guerrero), the SF Etsy Street Team had a Trunk Show on Saturday. Fortunately, Monkey + Seal were juried into the show (by the founder of the space, Scott Mitchell!) and we had a little mini table (there was only space for 20 vendors...but each space was only 3 feet! Eeeeep!). We managed to make do (leaving our larger prints at home) set-up wise, but the small space made for lots of looking around. Not only was there some good art on the walls (Monkey especially liked this Western Addition painting by Jon Ching), but the rest of the SF Etsy team brought their awesome stuff, and we ended up splurging a bit (although it was super reasonably priced) on Heathered's frickin' awesome narwhal hoodie pictured above (apologies for the lame phone camera photo).

We were also tempted by a whale print by muddipuppy, and by our friend Alana's (of Etta + Billie) darned awesome soap, but we managed to restrict ourselves to the hoodie.

Overall it was a really awesome experience as we got to hang out, meet, and bond with other team members. A special shout out to Jen (from Mama's Magic Studio) and Kendra (from Kendra Renee Jewelry) who did most of the organizing of the event, and to our neighbors Lauren of Crooked Sister and Jeanine of CraftyGirl05!! It was great spending an afternoon with everyone, and thanks to everyone that stopped by!

PS - If you missed yesterday's special Tuesday post about Chris Guillebeau's Empire Building Kit, you have until 9am PST Thursday to buy and still get the special guide to local markets! You can read a more in-depth review here!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Empire Building Kit Review

So we already reviewed Chris Guillebeau's Empire Building Kit for his 2nd 24-hour launch, but he's opening it up for sale again - but this time it'll stay open! So you may be asking "why even review this again if I can sign up whenever I want?" The answer is that if you buy it on Wednesday the 16th, when it goes on sale, you'll get a free copy of Chris' "Backyard Biz Profits," which focuses on applying his empire building strategies on local markets. Not bad, eh?

And if you were too lazy to go click on the review, we'll sum it up again for you:
Basically, if you want to start up your own business, you need this guide.

- 365 emails (one per day!!!!) of reviews, hints, tips, action plans, and more awesomeness that'll inspire you to stay active and keep on keeping on
- interviews with other business owners that are making at least $50k a year with less than 3 employees
-answers to specific questions like "if you're starting an ebook business, how many people on my list do I need before I should start releasing new books?" or "what email service do you use to manage your email list and why?" or "how do I find my market?"
-there are bonuses up the wazzooo! Extra interviews from his other projects, and the seriously, the in-depth interviews with some awesome, awesome people.

If you have any questions, feel free to email us (at and we'll give you our honest opinion on the matter and answer as much as possible. We were a bit hesitant, but really, $149 (there's also more stuff if you get the $249 or $449) is totally worth it if you are serious about starting up your own empire. $149 can be made up by skipping your morning coffee once every three days. $149 can be made up by cooking instead of eating out (in San Francisco) 15 times. In our minds, it's a small, small price to pay to get the knowledge and key skills needed to take your game to the next level.

If anything, we look forward to 1am, as that's around when Chris sends out our next email. We signed up for the first go-around, and we're on day 68, and what we've got so far is well worth $149. It's actually a bit shocking to think that we still have almost 300!!! more emails to go.

Anyway, we believe so strongly in Chris' product that, even though we're part of his affiliate team, we highly encourage you to go pick it up even if you don't go through our affiliate link.

If you want to go check it out, no strings attached (ie: the non affiliate link) after 9am PST on Wednesday, you can go check it out at: No hard feelings, promise. However, if you'd like to help support us along with Chris, our affiliate link is here:, which we would super appreciate you clicking on, but either way, we highly recommend you checking it out!

I hope you jump on this offer now (it's your last chance to pick up his free guide on local markets (later to be sold at $49), but if it takes you a while to digest/save up/etc., take your time. Like we said, if you have questions, email us at or leave your question in the comments and we'll do our best to answer you quickly. Huzzah!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Creating in Your Spare Time

First off, a quick thank you to everyone who came out to the SF Etsy Sampler Trunk show! It was awesome, and we had a great time hanging out with other team members and meeting a lot of great people! More on that Wednesday!

Many inquiries have been made about some tips to help one draw more. Without a doubt, I'd recommend going over to Michael Nobbs' website to check out his free guide called "75 Ways to Draw More." While this is a great starting point, we figured that we'd do more than just link Michael's great little starter kit, but we'd discuss a bit of how we stick to our priority of drawing every day.

So Seal's work is a bit more straightforward. She is working as an freelance concept artist, so her day job is to create. For Monkey, who works in a retail shop (granted, it's a huge paper and crafting store) it's a bit different.

So Monkey used to just bring a sketchbook to work, but soon he wanted a change of pace. Thus, he brought some ink, pro-white, cheap watercolor paper, some brushes, and an old tofu box (as a palette) to his work to set up a mini-studio for his lunch breaks.

While if he brings his lunch and is feeling it, Monkey will work on some pen and ink studies (like this) using the magazines other people bring to work as reference photos. However, Monkey realizes that many people might not have the space/tolerant co-workers and/or boss to bring a bunch of art supplies to work.

In that case, it's a matter of getting creative. Monkey used to get caught up in having to be in the "perfect" conditions to make art. To make a long story short (this whole mental hurdle deserves it's own post), Monkey thought he needed the best paper, the best pens, the best whatever, in order to really make good art. After a lot of art school and reading lots of books and having long therapy-like sessions with Seal, Monkey is now the complete opposite. He tries to make art with whatever he can whenever he can. Got a sharpie and a plastic cup to wash your brush in? Draw on it.
Did you just unpack shipment? Have an empty box lying around and a minute to kill on your break? Draw on it (see first photo). Got an extra flyer for an event that's already passed and a pen? Draw on it (the character is not based on an actual customer, just the general vibe we sometimes get -_- )

Basically, you don't NEED fancy stuff to make art. I know a lot of beginning art students that all draw and paint on Rives BFK because James Jean uses it. Now don't get me wrong, it's awesome paper, but if I don't have any more, or can't afford the $5 sheet, I always have large cardboard boxes from work. No sketchbook with you? You can do a lot with a pen and the back of an envelope.

No, not all of these methods are archival, and you probably shouldn't be framing envelopes for gallery shows (or maybe you should, if that's your thing), but the point is that don't get caught up with what your teachers, or the pros are using. That stuff is great to use, but if you don't have it, can't find it, or can't afford it, there are a lot of options. The main message here is: don't let yourself make excuses why you can't create. Anyone else have some great tips to share about creating every day?