Oh, The Place You’ll Go in 2016: The Seuss Museum, in Springfield, MA

Thneeds factory in The Lorax by Dr. Seuss. (top, ™ and © 1971 by Dr. Seuss Enterprises, L.P.); Springfield Gasworks, early 20th-century (bottom)

Thneeds factory in The Lorax by Dr. Seuss. (top, ™ and © 1971 by Dr. Seuss Enterprises, L.P.); Springfield Gasworks, early 20th-century (bottom)

In an effort to ensure no other city will claim Dr. Seuss for its own, Springfield Museums has announced it will create “the first museum dedicated to the life and legacy of (Springfield) city native Theodore Seuss Geisel.”

The Amazing World of Dr. Seuss Museum is scheduled to open in 2016 at the Quadrangle, precisely two blocks away from the real-life Mulberry Street, the site of Dr. Seuss’s very first picture book, And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street. The museum will also be only a few blocks from the Dr. Seuss National Memorial Sculpture Garden, where sculptor Lark Grey Dimond-Cates, Geisel’s stepdaughter, created bronze sculptures of Dr. Seuss and some of his most beloved characters, including The Cat in the Hat, Horton the Elephant, the Lorax, and Yertle the Turtle.

The new museum will feature all those characters and many more, and include a mural of an illustration from that first book, “which launched Geisel’s career as the most recognizable in children’s literature.” The first floor of the museum will open in 2016, and a second floor, which will include a “recreation of Ted Geisel’s studio,” is scheduled for completion the following year. The Springfield Museums has raised more than three million dollars toward the project, which includes “funds from donors, foundations and $1 million grant from the state.”

As WAMC-Radio reported, “The Dr. Seuss Museum will include interactive exhibits featuring the classic characters from the children’s books,” which “include references to many local landmarks.”

Like the hugely successful Eric Carle Museum not far away in Amherst, Massachusetts, the new Dr. Seuss Museum will promote both its namesake and children’s literacy overall. Dr. Seuss’s books are sold in 17 languages in 95 countries, making this development important for tourism and as a place to promote and cultivate a love of children’s literature. Museums officials, citing the worldwide popularity of Dr. Seuss, expect the new museum will result in a 25 percent increase in visits to the Quadrangle. They also believe it will help advance the cause of literacy in their community and beyond. In Springfield, currently “only 40 percent of the city’s public school students are proficient readers.” City officials hope to double that percentage over the next year by the time the new museum opens.

Springfield Museums President Holly Smith-Bové said at a meeting of the editorial board of the Republican, “With input from the Davis Foundation, educators from the Springfield public schools and Square One early childhood agency, the museum will also be a place where children can practice the basic reading skills including letter recognition, vocabulary and rhyming.”

This is important for all visitors, because, to quote another Dr. Seuss book, I Can Read With My Eyes Shut, “The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”

[This article first appeared in Non-Profit Quarterly]


Arts Initiative Sends Bronx Kids to College Free

Neil Waldman, Illustrator and Arts Educator for Change

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Take motivated students from a low-income area, add art instruction, benchmarks for high grades, and the prospect of a ticket to a first-tier college and, if you’re author and illustrator Neil Waldman, you’ve got The Fred Dolan Art Academy in Bronx, NY. Founded seven years ago and recognized by The New York Times and New York Daily News for its innovation and success, Waldman’s initiative has just gained a new revenue stream, Dream Yard Press, a not-for-profit children’s publishing house founded by Waldman, and which is publishing its first picture book, Al and Teddy.  Here’s the latest on his education art initiative:

What prompted you to start the Fred Dolan Art Academy?

I grew up in the blue-collar neighborhoods of the east Bronx. It was a world of factory workers, plumbers, and shopkeepers. But my love was for drawing and painting, and I soon came to realize that if I wanted to do those things for the rest of my life, I’d have to go to college. I managed to do just that, and eventually became a writer and illustrator of children’s books.
It was during that time that a dream began rising within me – to return to the neighborhoods of my youth, find young artists there, and help them go to college. With this in mind, I created the Fred Dolan Art Academy, named after a recently departed friend. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hTy6rqgV9oY&feature=em-share_video_user. The Fred Dolan Art Academy is a free Saturday school whose mission is to help young Bronx artists to build their portfolios, while encouraging them to raise their grades, so that they can be accepted to college. To date, 23 students have graduated from the program, all going to college with scholarships.
We’ve done this by giving the kids hope for a better future. Teaching them art has served as a bridge to academic success because they now understand that if they work on their art and raise their grade point averages, they’ll be eligible for scholarships to college.
Were they kids who had interest or particular talent in art?
The students who join the program are lovers of art, but we don’t require any art background or skill set to be accepted.
I think that talent is overrated. I believe in commitment and passion for art (or any other field). If people work hard and diligently, there’s no reason they can’t succeed . . . And we’ve never rejected a single youngster. All we require is that they attend classes every Saturday, and work steadily while they’re with us. In most cases, our graduates choose art as a career, but some have decided to pursue other fields in college. Some are now majoring in architecture, finance, creative writing, and theatre.
Do you think you’d have gotten similar results with other subjects?
Yes. I think it could happen with any subject. But our expertise is in art. The academy’s teachers are all successful artists and art educators, capable of teaching the skills necessary to succeed in the art field. But our kids come from families where no one has ever gone to college. And so there’s no understanding of the importance of a college education.
We’ve been doing this for 7 years now, and the data bank is growing. Every one of our 23 graduates is now in college with a scholarship. Our success is proving that hope is the most powerful tool. Without hope, there’s no reason to succeed in school. With hope, the goal of a college education becomes real, and our students have begun to realize that it’s possible to spend their lives doing what they love most.
What are your thoughts about future of arts funding?
Unfortunately, when school budgets drop, art and music are first to be cut. That’s a shame . . . and a concern. I’m hoping that through programs like ours, people will begin to realize that art can be a vehicle that leads to academic success, career fulfillment, and ultimately, the transformation of one’s life.
Who has stepped up to the plate to help?
We’ve had wonderful people offering their help and services, and we are very grateful to them.
We started with a Kickstarter campaign and received donations ranging from $10 to $1500. That provided seed money for Dream Yard Press, which is our new publishing venture. Our first book, Al and Teddy, (audio book, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HCwJikL7BGg&feature=em-share_video_user) will be published in December. All proceeds will go to supporting the Fred Dolan Art Academy.
Cornelius Van Wright, Robert Casilla, and other artists are serving as teachers there; a lawyer named Mitchell Pines has volunteered to help set us up as an independent not-for-profit corporation; Bill and Beth Johnson have donated their time writing the teacher’s guide for the book, and setting up an educational outreach program, where we’re hoping to get donations of $250 from individuals who want to gift a carton of 28 Al and Teddy books to a teacher of their choice.
This all makes a big difference because we can make more profits on book sales, and use that to support our students. We’ve found that it costs about $1000/year to support each student in the program.
What’s surprised you most about doing this?
Everything has come together in a seemingly effortless manner. One after the other, people have continually come forward and volunteered their time and expertise. I’ve been amazed at how much they’ve done to help us further the program.
What are your dreams for this project?
My dream is that we can help all the kids who want to be part of the program. So far, we’ve helped 23 Bronx kids go on to some of the top colleges with full scholarships, and the schools they’ve gone to – Dartmouth, the Rhode Island School of Design, NYU, USC, SUNY Purchase, and the Art Institute of Chicago.
Now, word of the program’s success has begun to spread. This year for the first time, we’ve had to turn kids away. Looking at the faces of those kids was sadder than anything I’d ever imagined So I’ve created Dream Yard Press, a not-for-profit publisher of children’s books in the Bronx. All the proceeds from sales of our books will go to the academy.”AL and TEDDY” is our first picture book. It’s the story of love and friendship between 2 brothers, and the power of art to transform their lives. I’ll attach 2 images from the book, and “A Bronx Diary,” the story of the Genesis of the academy.
We’ve had articles so far in The New York Times, the New York Daily News and others in recognition of this as an important model for what can be done via arts education to make a difference. My goal is for the academy to grow. I’d love to have “AL and TEDDY” considered for awards, so we can help more and more kids. In the long run, it would be great to have our own facility, and to show what’s possible to make a difference in the lives of kids who need help breaking out of what can seem like dead-end situations.
How can people help?
We’d welcome hearing from people who can help as teachers; in fundraising, non-profit and publishing advisors. We also particularly need help in creating an “AL and TEDDY” website.
Individuals can help us to by:
  • Purchasing a copy of “AL and TEDDY” http://raabassociat.es/14e2Rbh
  • Gifting an “AL and TEDDY” book box to your favorite middle school teachers.
Neil Waldman has been writing and illustrating children’s books for 40 years. His books have won the Christopher Award, the National Jewish Book Award, the A.L.A. Notable Award, the School Library Journal Best Book Award, and many others. Notable among these is a gold medal from the United Nations in a closed international competition in which Waldman was chosen to represent the United States. The world body selected his entry as the official poster for the International Year of Peace. Today it hangs in the halls of the U. N. General Assembly. He has designed postage stamps for thirteen nations, written and illustrated more than fifty books for young people, and has illustrated the covers of seven Newbery Award winners
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I majored in art and minored in juggling!

Scott Barnett, Artist
Scott Barnett art
From Dead Man’s Party
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When Susan and I first talked about my writing an entry for her blog, I had trouble figuring out what I wanted to write about, since I was currently juggling different specialties in the graphics industry. Then it dawned on me. THAT’S what I should write about- the necessary ability to reinvent yourself as an artist when need be, as well as juggling those different skills to continue to get work and stay relevant in today’s market.

I majored in illustration when I was in college and planned on being an illustrator in the workforce. After school, I looked to an industry that had provided me so much entertainment in my youth- comic books. So I focused mostly on comic book illustration and was making a reputation for myself when that industry suddenly had a major downturn in the ‘90s. It was a shock to me that after all my hard work (preparing samples for editors, meeting with them for feedback and advice, finally receiving work from some of them), I’d find myself in an industry that could barely keep the veterans employed, much less an up-and-comer like myself. I was naive then, what can I tell you? It took a while to figure out that I needed to go in another direction with my graphics career. Eventually, I settled into web design because it seemed like there was tons of work in that field. I bet you know where this is going, don’t you…

So, I switched gears and was hired by an internet company as part of their graphics department. It was a good company, with management that actually cared about their employees and rewarded them whenever they could. So what could possibly go wrong, you ask? Remember the timing- this was the year 2000. Remember what happened to all those internet companies back then? A ton of them went out of business during the dot com crash. I actually came back from a vacation, only to find my company gone. I mean, actually ‘gone’.  No lights on, no people…

As you can guess, I had difficulty finding work in web design after that gig dried up, due to the circumstances. So, I was forced to reinvent myself yet again, this time being introduced to the world of 3D modeling and rendering. An old friend and colleague showed me the software he was working in and I fell in love with it. I would never have thought I’d take to something where I’d be creating art entirely on the computer, since virtually all my education in school took place before computers took over. Yeah, I’m old- want to make something of it? I loved it so much, it wasn’t long before I was able to start using it professionally, even given the extensive learning curve involved in that type of software. I started bringing in freelance work from companies who needed photorealistic renderings of products that either didn’t yet exist or were too expensive to photograph. After several years of working in that industry, the economy tanked in 2008 (I’m sure you all heard something about that!) and most of my 3D clients dried up. So I turned to storyboarding, logo design and private commissions to bring in work. Essentially, nothing was off-limits, as long as it was related to the graphic arts and I could deliver to the client.

Point is, I’ve had to wear a lot of different hats to stay in the graphics industry, and in doing so, I’ve greatly diversified my skill set. These days, most of my work comes from 3D graphics and illustration (mostly comic book work), so I’ve come full circle, I suppose. Of all the disciplines I worked in, those two are my favorites, so I’m a pretty happy duck right now. I’m still always learning new skills and tricks, even after more than 20 years in the field. In fact, I’ve recently taken the leap into self-publishing; I teamed up with an old friend to create a crime fiction comic mini-series called Dead Man’s Party. Here’s how we describe it:

It’s called a Dead Man’s Party: an assassin puts a contract out on his own head and a select group of peers have thirty days to fulfill it. For the world-renowned hitman known only as ‘Ghost,’ ordering a Party is a last resort, a way to go out on his terms, at the top of his game. The invitations are sent, the killers are coming… And that’s when things go horribly wrong.

Publishing my own book and getting to illustrate my own creative property has long been a dream of mine, and I’m very excited about the press we’ve been getting about it. Don’t believe me? Check it out at www.DeadMansParty.org, where we post previews of the books, as well as reviews from critics. So if you’re looking for any type of advice regarding a career in graphics, I’d say this: It’s extremely rewarding being able to utilize your creativity (whether that’s in drawing, painting, web design, basket weaving, etc.), but it’s a career you REALLY have to want, because it can sometimes be a rough road, I’m not going to lie. But I’ll also say this- there is nothing else I’d rather do in this world than create. I’m happiest when I’m drawing, painting or modeling something in 3D. As for artistic techniques I use in, say, creating my comic book work, I’m not afraid to do a ton of research and find reference material to work from, and I’ve developed my painting style from a classic graphic arts education. What I mean by that is, if you want to draw comic books, learn to draw the real world first. Don’t just look at comic books to learn how to draw them.

In his professional career, Scott Barnett has been an illustrator, designer, storyboard artist and 3D modeler/animator. He and his wife live in New Jersey. His work can be viewed at the above mentioned www.DeadMansParty.org and www.ScottBarnettGraphics.com, as well as on Facebook and deviantArt.


Staying Current in Book Publishing

by Melissa Jacobson, Book Designer, Chelsea Green Publishing

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Although many facets of publishing haven’t changed in decades, a lot of its opportunities require curiosity and adaptability. In college, I pursued the subjects that interested me instead of focusing on a specific end goal. Interning and volunteering helped me explore a variety of art- and book-related professions. Helping a sculptor who worked on commission taught me I wanted an office job. A letterpress shop introduced me to the beautiful mechanics of type and design layout. Researching new markets and grant funding opportunities for nonprofits showed me how much I enjoyed organizing information and demonstrating results. I discovered my long-term interests and confidently listed over 3 years of relevant experience on my first job application.

Very soon I learned about the highs and lows of working for a company that develops commercial products. My first full-time job began in 2008, so I accumulated and managed multiple workloads when colleagues were laid off. Then, we published the company’s first New York Times best seller and I couldn’t imagine wanting to work anywhere else. I learned the most when priorities shifted and I had the opportunity to be trained in, or more often teach myself, something new to help the forward momentum of the company. My book arts, printmaking, and Excel experience had opened the door for me as a production assistant. My other creative experiences and passion for organization bought new and diverse tasks to my desk. Before long, I had to write up new job descriptions to explain how I routinely assisted multiple departments. When I decided to leave for another opportunity, they had to hire two employees to replace me.

At Chelsea Green, I am a book designer who focuses on print, but I always keep the future eBook conversion in mind. Digital media inherently offers interesting potential for many designers; but, markets are still being researched, budgets are constantly re-evaluated, and designing eBooks frequently just means simplifying the print book styles. But that doesn’t let anyone off easy.

Learning specific software can be a moving target for book designers working on print and digital editions. The first publisher I interned for in college still used Pagemaker even though we were being taught InDesign and most other publishers were using QuarkXpress. Now, I only need familiarity with Quark to work in the archives, Adobe continues to release new versions of InDesign that are barely cross-compatible, and I am brushing up on HTML so I can edit eBook code with Sigil or Dreamweaver, when necessary.

But in a more positive light, many new software developments are providing more efficient steps for all phases in the print and digital book design process. Staying current and relevant in a fast-paced work environment means learning how to facilitate your overall workload. For a book designer, this can make an earlier task take longer but clearly results in time or monetary savings down the line. Every publisher operates differently, but my experience at small, independent companies, has encouraged me to continually improve my skills and efficiency for the quality of our books and timeliness of our releases.

Melissa Jacobson interned for her first book publisher in 2005 and is now the first in-house book designer at Chelsea Green Publishing. Previously, she spent over three years at Quirk Books where she coordinated print production, managed and designed sales materials, and established a digital content conversion program. She earned her MFA in Book Arts/Printmaking from The University of the Arts and her BFA in Illustration with a minor in English from the University of Connecticut.


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Introducing Modern Art to Preschoolers: “Mousterpiece”

Jane Breskin Zalben. Author/Artist

1. How can your books be used to teach a love of art (Mousterpiece) and performing (Four Seasons)?

I have been told that both are perfect venues to teach the love of art and music. All I can say is that if you do something that it meaningful, write about it, and it comes through to the reader, then in essence, it teaches a lesson and shows without telling in a heavy-handed way what it means to be an artist, to do what has meaning in life, to make a life of art. Art was always my life since I was little. I think that comes through in Mousterpiece. It is who I am. It is who the little mouse, Janson, is. She discovers what it is to be a true artist. I also played the piano as a child. In the same vein, Ally, the main character in Four Seasons: A novel in four movements based on the seasons of Vivaldi’s sonata, is a child piano prodigy at Julliard in New York City and learns to discover, like Janson, (I just realized this link!) what it means to be a true artist for herself. I was not a child prodigy, but my younger son went to Juilliard as a violinist and composer for nine years as a child so I knew my “material” to say the least.

2. What do you see as connecting threads in your work?

The common thread is emotion. I do not avoid inner feelings and how people interact or relate to each other, whether it is for young children or young adults. We are complex human beings whether we are three or eighty-three. Some of us just choose to forget or deny the inner workings of who we are. I like to tap into and remember those feelings of separation anxiety or fear or heartbreak, and of course, empathy and love.

3. How does your work as an artist inform your book publishing?

Well, I am an artist – a painter – who happens to do books and am passionate about the form and structure of a book as an art object. I loved slip-cased books, books tied with silk ribbons, ragged thick paper on the trim, marbleized endpapers, embossed cloth bindings, vellum over a title page – that is why I originally fell in love with bookmaking. Of course books look different now, and that challenge I appreciate as well. Every detail down to the spacing of the typography on the page. Now, I like experimenting more in a book. With both the ideas and the materials used. I have done work on the computer, overlays like an animation, mixed media, collage, but in the end for me there is nothing like the water color on a gorgeous piece of paper painting with a triple zero brush taking my time with my nose to the surface for hours hunched over a drafting table! I consider it “serious business” and don’t take lightly the years spent on creating a book. I have done around 50 books – all kinds – and I like to push myself as an artist and a person to experiment and challenge myself to do something I haven’t done before. To grow.

4. Do you cross-promote the two?

I try, but it is almost like two different fields with different editors with their own passions. Some are better at novels, while others at a shorter form. I love music. Many people have mentioned it enters a lot of my work, in timing, space and intensity. I have used it in both age groups – novels and picture books. Sometimes people know me as a young adult / middle-grade author, and most know me as a picture book author/artist. I began my life as an artist, but felt I needed to say more so I began to write novels when my children were little and napped. I had stopped doing picture books for a few years to get away from all that! They no longer are small; I feel even more intense now about writing novels. The link between the two is that in a novel you are there visually with the characters, and in a way, it is like doing art. I disappear into another place that feels real in that fictional world. I love being in it and feel consumed by writing the story when I am working on a novel, like Four Seasons (Knopf 2011) which took about 3 or so years, and Leap (Knopf) before that, which I developed into a screenplay – another visual form with dialogue. I have had eight published between doing the picture books.

5. Is there an art technique you’ve learned recently that you’d be willing to share tips on?

I have experimented so much in these last ten years with so many different techniques that I find it actually interesting. I get bored when I look at some illustration work and the style is the same again and again. For me, it personally shows no growth. I know people often want the same old thing from an artist, but for an artist, that is not always exciting.

What is exciting is the journey, the process of working, revising, and knowing there is never an end because even when the book is done, it could always be redone in another way. There is a time though, you have to say, move on to the next one.

As a former art director, teacher at the School of Visual Arts, chair of the Society of Illustrators, I can say I have seen a lot of techniques, and in the final analysis the tip is what works for the individual. There are no rules. The key is to wake up and do what you love and keep trying to make it better. I think that is the plight of the artist. The process. The work. The time alone in a room to create.

Jane Breskin Zalben the author/artist of more than 50 children’s books. She’s just published “Mousterpiece: a mouse-sized guide to modern art,” which is receiving starred reviews. Her young adult novel, “Four Seasons” had jacket blurbs from Judy Blume and Gordan Korman and fan e-mails from Bunnicula author, James Howe. She travels around the U.S. and abroad to talk about her children’s books.

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If you draw well, you’ll work: Phyllis Pollema-Cahill

Phyllis Pollema-Cahill, children’s book illustrator

What’s made the most difference in your career success?
A mentor told me years ago that if I could learn to draw the figure well, then I’d always have work. Drawing the figure well takes a lifetime, but I think he was right. Other things are: just plain hard work, marketing myself, always trying to do my best, meeting deadlines and being easy to work with.

What organizations do you find useful and would be accessible to newcomers?

The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) without a doubt. The information they offer in their newsletters and at conferences is invaluable, plus you can make wonderful new friends and contacts.

What are common pitfalls in managing your time and career?
It took me a while to get over this one, but fear which causes procrastination was a big pitfall. I could find a million things to do before doing creative work. “The Artist’s Way” by Julia Cameron was a big help to me. Another pitfall is being too focused on day-to-day business instead of planning for the future. I’m still working on that one.

Where do you see growth potential in the field now?
It seems publishing apps is creating a lot of interest now. I’m doing more digital art and learning about apps. There’s a lot of growth potential in new technology.

Phyllis Pollema-Cahill has been illustrating for children full-time since 1995, after working for many years as a graphic designer. Her degree is in illustration from Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design in Denver. She’s illustrated over fifty books for children and regularly illustrates for children’s magazines. She loves to draw people and research different cultures and historical periods. A step-by-step demonstration of how she works can be seen at www.phylliscahill.com. Also see her Great Sites for Art Directors and Editors and Great Sites for Children’s Authors and Illustrators. Some of her clients include: Harcourt, Houghton Mifflin, McGraw-Hill, Scott Foresman, Scholastic, Zaner-Bloser, Highlights for Children and Spider. She lives in the Colorado mountains with her husband and two cats.

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How Do You Draw a Maze? Ask Roxie Munro!

Roxie Munro, Illustrator (publications, books and apps) and amazing Maze Artist

Learn the art of maze drawing from artist and amazing maze maker, Roxie Munro. Inspired by art, nature, architecture and design, Roxie’s mazes are found in paintings, murals, books, and now apps. She shares her design process and arts business tips here.

How to make a Geometric Maze

How to make a Random Roxie Reversing Maze

What’s made the most difference in your career success?


What do you advise newcomers?

Don’t feel entitled. It’s not easy, so you have to work very hard and not give up.

Dos & Don’ts about the arts business?

Be on time. Don’t burn your bridges. Don’t be high maintenance. Be generous to others. Don’t dwell on rejection.

Roxie Munro is the author/illustrator of more than 35 children’s books, including Mazescapes; Inside-Outside Books: New York City (New YorkTimes Best Illustrated Award), Washington DC, Texas, London, Paris, Libraries and Dinosaurs; EcoMazes (School Library Journal Star; Smithsonian’s Best Science Book for Children); and Hatch! (Outstanding Science Trade Book, NSTA/CBC; Bank Street College Best Books of 2012/Outstanding Merit).  Her books have been translated into French, Italian, Dutch, Chinese, and Japanese. Apps: “Roxie’s a-MAZE-ing Vacation Adventure” and “Roxie’s DOORS.” Out Oct 2012: K.I.W.i.StoryBooks (Kids Interactive Walk-in Story Books). Out 2013: Slithery Snakes.

She has been a working artist all her life, including freelancing in Washington DC as a television courtroom artist. Clients included CBS, Washington Post, and Associated Press. The New Yorker published fourteen covers. She also creates oils, watercolors, prints, and drawings, exhibited widely in museums and galleries.

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8 Networking Tips for Artists: Scott Daros

Scott Daros, Animator/Illustrator

What networking tips would you give to someone just starting out?

  • Ask for introductions from professionals in your field.
  • Get into art shows.
  • Meet people face-to-face. I’ve also had tons of luck networking online.
  • Make a website! You MUST have your work online.
  • Don’t be ashamed to show off.
  • Create a blog and update it regularly.
  • Join and be an active member of sites that discuss your area of expertise.
  • YouTube, Vimeo, Behance, LinkedIn are great sites for networking, getting feedback, and sharing your work.

How did you set prices for your projects early on?

I asked other illustrators and animators who were more experienced. There’s also a great book called Pricing & Ethical Guidelines that will give an artist an excellent idea of how much his or her time is worth.

What was the best advice you got when starting out?

Make time to keep up with the artistic projects you truly enjoy. Getting paid to be an artist is great but it can be exhausting and frustrating. It’s important to still do the creative things you did for fun before you decided to make it a career. After a long day of animating I like to sit down and draw some silly comics.

Any resources you’d recommend to others to learn about animation?

I’d recommend both StopMotionAnimation and AnimateClay.

Scott Daros is a stop-motion animator for the Adult Swim television series Robot Chicken and the CollegeHumor web series Dinosaur Office. Before moving to Los Angeles, he earned his BFA in Illustration from the University of Connecticut where he dabbled in animation prior to graduation. His subsequent job in a local advertising department got him interest in stop-motion animation, and he went on to work Michael Bannon who founded his own stop-motion studio, “Wreckless Abandon”. While helping Bannon create animated advertisements, Daros was taught “everything he needed to know” about stop-motion animation to go out on his own. 

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Art success do’s and don’ts: Steve Light

Steve Light, Illustrator/Author Storyteller

Don’t give up and certainly don’t give up too early. I’ve seen better artists than me give up on their art within a year of graduating. That’s too early! Be very tenacious and be very determined and you will succeed. This has paid off for me. I have some real momentum now. I enjoy telling stories and there’s a lot of opportunity out there. My career and work just keeps getting better. I feel really blessed. –Steve Light

What made the most difference in your career and what do you advise newcomers?

When I just started doing the work for me. Doing the work that I love, knowing someone else will love it also. I stopped chasing work and started producing work I love and then showing it to people.

Never, ever, ever, ever give up. Do what you love and do not listen to the naysayers.

 Do it because it is your passion.
 Don’t do it because you want to get rich over night.

 Do be kind to everyone you meet.
 Don’t underestimate anyone.

Do surround yourself with people that can help you.
Don’t stay around anyone that is negative or brings you down or does not share your passion or vision.

Do work hard—draw EVERY DAY!
Don’t get lazy or think it will be handed to you.

Do the art, if you are good at the business then do the business part—if you are not good at the business part, then let someone else do it for you.
Don’t spend all your time promoting or running the business part—your time should be spent doing the art!

I think Facebook, Twitter, a blog and a website are invaluable tools. A hand written note is also very powerful. Special interest forums can really help spread the word.

Steve Light grew up in an enchanted place known as New Jersey. He went on to study Illustration at Pratt Institute, he also studied with Dave Passalacqua. Upon graduating he did some corporate illustrations for companies such as: AT&T, Sony Films, and the New York Times Book Review. Steve Light then went on to design buttons that were acquired by the Cooper-Hewitt Design Museum.

He has published 12 children’s books by Abrams, Candlewick Press and Chronicle Books. Steve’s books include: I am Happy, Puss in Boots, The Shoemaker Extraordinaire, Uncle Sam, Trucks Go, Trains Go and The Christmas Giant. As well as 2 Hello Kitty books that he engineered. “Zephyr Takes Flight” will be out in October as well as Diggers Go soon after. Steve Light has also had his Steve Light Storyboxes produced by Guidecraft. Teachers, Parents and Children can use the props in a storybox to tell a story. Steve loves to draw and sharing his art and stories with children.