Work/Art/Play – registration ends tomorrow!



Some people have asked me why I came up with the Work/Art/Play online class. And it’s a great question because it was something that came together quite organically. It was a result of me being underwhelmed by the students that I taught in college – who I felt lacked real-life strategies and were unprepared for the world beyond graduation. Turns out it wasn’t just my students who had issues. A lot of artists mentioned to me that they had the same problem – no matter if they were self-taught or if they had studied the field before.

And so it all began.

Three years ago when I first taught a bunch of students at a local college, I didn’t know what to expect. I knew that I was supposed to teach them about creativity, and that I had 3 assignments that students had to complete in one semester. These assignments were to increase their creative thinking skills as illustrators, and while all 3 of the assignments were different in execution, the fundamentals of the projects undertaken was similar: how to create work that would sell.

As we ran through the assignments (I had designed them specifically for the class), I had more and more students come up to me – a lot of whom were overwhelmed, scared and unsure of their capabilities. Some weren’t even sure if they’d want to continue being an illustrator after they graduated, citing the lack of local opportunities and the horror stories of not being able to afford feed themselves and keep a roof over themselves as a new graduate.

So apart from tutoring them on the assignments, I began to include snippets of information and profiles of artists who were changing the world, one stroke at a time. I taught them new concepts and undid outdated ones – trading old beliefs with new ones that were positive and ones that served to propel them forward as opposed to ones that held them back.

Entrepreneurship seemed like a far-flung concept to them, one that was intimidating and hard-to-reach. So I started from the bottom, and slowly built a foundation that was easy to digest, and one that allowed to build their own future. The process wasn’t a quick one, I’d tell them. It would take time. But if you knuckle down and continue to build your dream slowly – even if you maintain a full-time job, the result could be quite magical.

It would happen before you knew it. You would inch closer and closer to being able to create the life you wanted. That you’d be able to work on the projects that you’re interested in, and you wouldn’t have to compare yourself with others because you’d be working on things that you believe in. Having the option to choose the work that you’ll do, and to be able to select clients would no longer be a dream. It would be real. You would be able to dictate your own time and enjoy your work.

So here’s what I’d like you to ask yourself:

What would you do if you could work on your own terms? How would it feel? What would you pursue?

What if you could learn strategies that work for you as an artist and illustrator in this modern day and age? What if instead of focusing on tactics that merely give you a short-term high, you took a good look at your career and plan out how you’d like to spend your days – in a fun, productive manner? What if I told you that you could take proactive steps to make your dreams come true instead of wishing for something or someone to aim their gaze on your portfolio and website, and then bless you with just 15 minutes of fame?

What if you could take control of that process, so that it’s thought out and methodical, instead of holding out on your work to get chosen because of a fluke?

I’ve designed Work/Art/Play to give you a roadmap on what you can do to effectively put your goals and ideas on track. I want you to make a difference. I want you to feel excited as you jump out of bed in the morning, and instead of merely waiting for other people’s approval of your work, you find the right people to connect with.

It’s a full on, 6-week immersive online class that’s now open for registration until tomorrow, Friday 7th August 2015, and everyone from anywhere in the world can join in. If you’re looking to build your own illustration empire instead of merely being a pencil pusher for someone else, then this is the perfect course for you.

Registration has ended, thank you so much! Click here to sign up to be notified when the next session begins!

Work/Art/Play 2015 is now open for enrolment!


I’ve gotten emails throughout the year asking when Work/Art/Play – an online class I’ve designed for artists and illustrators – will be opened again. Well the wait is over – because enrollment officially begins right now.

If you’ve ever wondered if there’s a better way to navigate your journey as an artist or illustrator, I’m here to tell you that there is. I’ve designed an online course that will not only help focus your strengths into creating works that you will love, but others as well. I’ll show you how self-promotion can be a lot less scary (because it really isn’t!) and by the end of it, you’ll see how the whole process allows you to stay true to yourself. You’ll also learn what works and how to find (and create) new opportunities you’ve never thought of before.

If you’ve ever met me in real life (or online), you’ll know that I love working with people. I’m a life-long student myself, and above all, I love teaching. I didn’t just come up with the materials for the class – I’ve also designed the online classroom myself – to ensure a great learning environment that’s conducive for students: one that’s beautiful and easy to navigate. It’s truly a full-on learning experience that you can carry with you wherever you go!

So without further ado, I’d like to invite you to join the Work/Art/Play experience. We’ve gotten lots of amazing feedback after two years of running the program, and we’d like to invite you to be a part of our smart and generous community.

Enrollment ends on 7th August 2015 – and there’s a limit on the number of students I’m taking in for the Personalized Program, so if you’re looking for targeted feedback + extra help one-on-one, I’d suggest you hop on over right now.

Registration is now closed! Click here to sign up to be notified when the next session begins!

Let’s not be too quick to judge

Malika Favre

 Malika Favre

The other day while I was perusing Facebook, I saw one of my students post up a diatribe on how some artists are getting recognition for work that isn’t “that” great, while other artists who can do better are not getting the recognition they deserve. Her short post included reasons she believed as to why some artists were successful and the rest, aren’t – which involved the former knowing more people and for being good at kissing ass (which might not have been her exact words, but that was what was implied). She was also criticising how other people do not recognise good work if it hit them on the head.

She was a smart student, and this concern of hers was something I’ve encountered more than once. I promptly told her to stop and think for a moment and gave my reasons why. The post was deleted a while later, but I kept thinking about it. I was unsettled.

It’s easy to watch other people’s success and then whinge about your lack of it.

“She’s not as good as me, but why is she getting all the publicity?”
“His grades were lower than mine when we were at school but he’s showing at a gallery now?”
“That group’s stuff is just so-so, but why are so many people flocking to their stall?”

It’s one thing to whine about how other people may be successful, but it’s another to assume that they managed it under suspicious circumstances. “Oh, they must know someone”, or “I think they must have gotten the gig in return for another favour [sic]*”

That, is not cool at all. Unless it’s true. However, if it is, then it’s now gossiping instead of being judgemental – both of which won’t do you much good in the long run anyway.

“The famous ones know more people.”
While not all of your assumptions are wrong, thinking along this line of thought is destructive and quite frankly, mean. My retort to those who bemoan how well-connected successful artists is my usual: “So, what have you been doing to know more people?” That usually just ends with them stammering about how they lack family connections that would lead them up the higher rung of the social ladder, blah, blah, blah. Because, you know – there’s no way they could have gotten there on their own.

It’s easy to complain about how well others have it, and while sometimes a good rant is just that – it would be much more constructive if you’d ask them how they got to where they were instead. Yes. The good old asking-a-question trick. Heck, it’s not even a trick, really. Not if it’s done without malice and snark, and politely with a dose of old fashioned curiosity. Their answer might really surprise you. Underneath it all, artists are people too – and yes, that goes to those who are successful as well. From what I know, the ones who are successful have great tips, stories and advice to share, that it would be such a waste to let one’s ego get in the way of finding out what really happened along their journey.

But what if someone by a stroke of luck has a great network care of their parents/relatives/friends/school? It happens, and while that may leave others seething with jealousy; remember that the artist also needs to make it work. Maybe they’re embarrassed about it. Or maybe they’d prefer not to have the leg up, but circumstances made it hard to say no. Maybe they don’t deserve it. Maybe they do. There’s all sorts of reasons, many of them have nothing to do with you. And so, let’s not begrudge others for their good luck – rather, it would be more fruitful to engineer some luck of your own.

“But I’m better than he/she is.”
If you believe your work is great and that you’re an undiscovered genius – good for you. Anyone can call (or think of) themselves as the greatest talents to ever walk the earth. However, what other people think of you might very well be otherwise. Now I’m not saying that you shouldn’t believe in yourself; on the contrary. Being a genius (or any other compliments for that matter) is something that others bestow onto you; which would make it undoubtedly more meaningful. Sort of like how giving yourself a trophy is kind of sad.

If you believe all the work you do is great, how else would you learn? If everything you created was a work of art (critics be damned), how would you know the good from bad? As a student, where does it end? A healthy ego is necessary to be a great artist, but to have an inflated one from the onset does not bode well for you – it gets in the way of learning (which should never end even if you’re successful) and it also gets in the way of getting to know more people (because you might end up being a jerk who thinks he’s right all the time).

So what can you do?
Fear not – to rid you of your judgemental and egotistical streak (hey, it happens to the best of us!) I have a 7-step program that I recommend heartily. Doing the below will significantly up your goodwill karma and results can show in as little as a month or it might take as long as 5 years for great results. Mileage will vary according to how hard you work:

  1. Be nice.
  2. Ask others for advice, don’t assume or judge.
  3. Ask for constructive feedback for your work.
  4. Listen for feedback and try them out – if it doesn’t fit, discard and repeat.
  5. Reach out to other people who you think might like your work. (Bonus points if you have something to say or a story to share)
  6. Say hello a lot.
  7. Be nice.

Rinse and repeat.

Try it and see for yourself. Not everyone made it through having connections. Most of the time they’ve worked really hard and worked smart by reaching out to people who in turn helped them. There’s a lot of things that could have happened in between that’s compounded by luck and timing too.

So in short – the road to success looks something like this (mind you, this is very simplified):

(talent x hard work)a + (luck + timing)b + helpc = successx

Note: With all of the above, the variation of success is subjective, and is wholly dependent on the effort put in (a) & (c) and factors beyond our control (b) in the equation.

Thoughts? Share them with me in the comments! And if you want to read what 39 other artists have to say about experiencing jealousy/envy, here’s a free download of the PDF copy of issue #6 of the Good to Know project!

[Illustration by Malika Favre]
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