Celebrating diversity through new creative directories

https://www.womenwhodraw.com/

Illustration directories (or any other sort of creative directories, for that matter) have come a long way since the boom of the internet. It used to be that they were run by companies who would charge a sum for you to be included in their roster, along with other options such as appearing in their printed catalog/annuals, mailers, promotional items, etc. However, with the advent and freedom that the internet offers, anyone can be a part of (or even start up!) a directory on their own, for very little.

That’s all well and good, but what does this mean, then?

It means that the barrier to entry; of being listed in a collective space online, has reduced significantly. You’re no longer bound by expenses, or gatekeepers that were previously the domain of huge, existing directory companies. They would still have their merits, having existed in the industry way before anyone else. But unlike before, you now have a choice. If someone turned you down, or if the cost of listing your profile/work was prohibitive, you can now list your work elsewhere. For free, even.

http://www.panimation.tv/

Will it work? Will you get more work from it?

You may, or you may not. But with self-promotion, I like to go with the analogy of idea of throwing out as many balls as you can out into the world, to see who throws it back to you. Sometimes it comes back immediately, and sometimes, it takes weeks, months and even years before someone sees your profile and decides to reach out. In addition to the kind of work you produce, luck and timing plays a very big part for every artist that gets discovered online, and by putting yourself out there through various channels, you’re increasing your odds, even if by a little bit.

https://queerdesign.club/

Getting yourself on a list

The biggest difference that we see in the new directories is that it’s more niche. Instead of merely having filters that readers and potential clients could sift through, the entire directory itself is more specific, catering to clients who are looking to add diversity into their hires. There’s a directory for women illustrators. Latin designers. Queer/LGBT designers. Women, trans and non-binary animators. Black designers. Most of them are free, and many more creative industries are following suit, so take your pick and go from there!

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Share with me: What do you think of these directories? Do you like them, or would you prefer a different solution? Do you have more to share? Or what if you have happy stories of being found by clients or fans on them? I’d love it if you would share your thoughts with me!

Drawing as a state of flow

Caris Reid - Lunar Water Watcher

Caris Reid - Lunar Water Watcher

I didn’t know how to swim until I was a teenager.

The only place I ever hung out in was the shallow end of pools. The area that when you stood up, the water would only reach your waist. The sissy end – my friends would call it. At first I didn’t want to join them at the deep end, but it got lonely (as it often does, on the shallow end). I asked myself – what was the worst thing that could happen? That I’d drown? There’s a lifeguard. Stick with your friends, hang on to the side of the pool and you’ll be fine. What if your leg cramps up and you can’t move them? Stick with your friends, hang on to the side of the pool and you’ll be fine.

Fine.

So I made my way over to the deep end.

I didn’t drown. I stuck to my friends and inched out further away the sides of the pool gleefully with each subsequent visit.

Slowly over the next few weeks, I found that I could float quite well. I drifted away from the edges, letting go of the reassuring feel of the mosaic under my fingers and the sound of the lapping water against the hidden water overflow outlets. Swimming wasn’t hard at all, I thought. I could even tread water in a way that didn’t tire me out, with just my legs, kicking at a lazy pace that kept me afloat. I found that I could even do the same with just my arms.

Bobbing against the water and I found myself relaxing – I was using my body to stay afloat, but it was rhythmic and automatic, and not struggling spasms, like before. Being in the water felt good. I felt great.

And I moved further away from the edge. I did underwater somersaults. Backward flips, front-freewheeling balls. I was weightless, and I’ve never felt freer in my life.

Drawing reminds me of being in the water.

Not only was my mind free to wander and to do backflips when I’m drawing, but my hand were free as well. I draw from my shoulder, and not just my wrist – so that my movements across the paper was large and unrestrained. My entire arm and shoulder moves as I draw, just like they would if I were to float in a pool. It feels like I’m in a constant state of flow.

When I learned how to swim, I’ve found that it’s easier to stay afloat if I relaxed myself and let go. I don’t fight the water, I embrace it. I could feel myself melt into the invisible pores of the water, as if we are one.

Drawing, to me, feels very much the same.

Just like swimming, it took some time for me to embrace my strengths, instead of fighting against it. I’ve accepted that I draw the way I do, instead of trying so hard to be a second rate version of someone else. With each stroke, it gets easier; until you feel a part of you flowing onto the paper itself.

When that happens, it feels like I’m back in the water again.

And once again, I feel free.

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(This article ran previously, but I edited and rewrote it again. I’m going to take older articles and re-run them again in the next coming weeks to get a jump start on things. P.s. It’s good to see you again, too!)

Image: Caris Reid – Lunar Water Watcher limited edition print (source)

Review: Draw Stronger: Self-care for cartoonists & visual artists

Draw Stronger

Drawing can be dangerous. Just ask Kriota Willberg, author of the book Draw Stronger: Self-care for Cartoonists & Visual Artists. She draws from decades of experience as a massage therapist (for over 30 years) and educator in health sciences and the arts, which culminated in this very niche book – a guide to injury prevention for cartoonists and artists.

I did some background research on Kriota and found this podcast at Comics Alternative which was really informative. I learned that she was a guest faculty at the centre for cartoon studies one year. And there, she realised how students would draw with sketchbooks in their laps, even if there was an easel or table. They would be curled into a fatal position or hunched, not realising the detriments of a bad posture long term since they were all new to the field. She was concerned about soft tissue injuries and repetitive stress injuries because as a massage therapist who specialised in orthopaedic injury, her day job was in addressing repetitive stress injuries in variety of different context day in and day out.

Draw Stronger

She then tried to do more research online – trying to find resources for cartoonists and artists about injury prevention, in the context and scope that she wanted. She couldn’t find much about it, and so she took it upon herself to put it out there.

That’s just a small part of it. Because the book, as it turned out, wasn’t as comprehensive in the beginning. What you see now (a 136-page book) started out as a 60-page mini comic called No Pain that she passed out to her students who were drawing for class. It was about the immediate basics. Within the next couple of years, she added First Aid for Drawing Injuries. And then 40-page comic on back pain. She then decided to look for a publisher because “stapling 60-page comics is really hard on your hands.” And when she was putting together all the materials for the book, she added a few more smaller chapters to it to round it all up nicely.

My favourite chapters in the book were the ones with various exercises that an artist can do to help counteract the many hours spent in the same position during the creation of their work. She covers hands, wrists, neck, chest, shoulders and back – all illustrated in great detail – and I find myself mimicking all the exercises she recommends just to test if I was as mobile as I should be.

What I liked:

I really liked the format of the book. It’s small, light and easy to carry around (which harked back to Kriota’s purpose – she actually wanted it to be smaller!) I’ve always been interested in body, muscles and movement – I’m that geek who used to go to the library to read up on books on massage, physiology and dance while I was training as a landscape architect. I thought the book is really comprehensive. It doesn’t merely cover a lot of dos and don’ts, but it also tells you why. It illustrates this by diving deeper into anatomy and how the body works too. I really liked the limited color palette and how the illustrations helped to highlight the ideas/advice that Kriota puts forward. I thought that the niche that Kriota picked is really great – there’s a lot of information here that would benefit artists (who are different from other professionals) in how they work from day to day, and I’ve never come across a book that addressed this concern specifically, which is a huge yay.

Draw Stronger

What I thought could be better:

The heading font for the book is a special hand-written font that Kriota created, which really adds character to the book. However, because the hand-written font is mostly uppercase, the text looked blocky (plus, the body text and heading were of the same size on the same page) and sometimes made it difficult to focus because of a lack of hierarchy. There was a lot of great content (text + illustrations), but for me it felt like a lot of the information blurred and blended into one another as though there wasn’t much breathing space. But I understand that it’s not easy to pack the amount of information she did into a small book, so it was just a small (and totally ignorable) gripe of mine.

Overall:

I would highly recommend this book for artists and illustrators. In fact, I think it’s required reading for artists at any stage of their career – Kriota brings a wealth of knowledge and experience that benefits a lot of those who are seeing signs of strain and injury in the course of their creative work. She’s very specific in terms of who will benefit the most from it (not mural artists who work on large artworks etc, but people who draw at a desk who work on small pieces), and thus have gone really deep into this subset of audience. I believe that prevention is always better than cure, but unfortunately I think those who find the book will be those who are already noticing the toll it has taken on their bodies.

If you’re just starting out with no signs yet of body pain (lucky you!), and you are here reading this review – do yourself a favour. Get this book. (Amazon link)

To learn more about Kriota Willberg, head on over to her blog.

[Images from Uncivilised Books]
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