CTNx 2016 Post Mortem


I just got back from an amazing and wonderful (though thoroughly exhausting) trip to CTNX 2016. My lovely wife, Elise Sketch, had a table there. While I was mainly there as a "booth buddy" to her and her tablemate (the equally talented and fun Melanie Hopper), I did get to observe and learn about the general artist marketplace.

Here's my main advice for all the new and would be artists:

  • Attitude. If you think you're not good enough and don't take yourself or your art seriously, why should I? Or an art director? Or a recruiter? Sure, you're probably not the greatest artist in the world, but everyone was once where you are now, even the greats. So get serious, and treat yourself seriously, it'll make a huge difference. A big part of this is investing in your art and yourself, both with money and with time. All companies take both to start, yours will too.
  • Get your own domain name. I got a tremendous amount of business cards from great artists with domains like laciesart.blogspot.com, or the worst, jonsart.wix.com (seriously, using a website builder but refusing to pay for the service? Why would I pay you then?). A few had portfolio sites like behance or carbonmade, which are great sites to have, but you need your own website. I highly recommend Squarespace and Format. Both offer website building and hosting starting at $12 and $6 a month respectively and include one free domain with their plan.
  • Get a proper email address. Something easy, short, and professional. If you can get yourname@gmail.com (or similar), great, but if it's something like Jordonpackard072@gmail.com, you are going to have to pay. I recommend G Suite (Gmail) having used both G Suite and Office 365. That's just my personal preference, so feel free to use whatever, but G Suite's included Google Drive is fantastic, especially for artists needing to share and send images and keep important things backed up to the cloud. My wife and I both have been saved by this feature a couple of times.
  • Get business cards. I met a number of people who I thought were awesome, but they didn't have business cards. I remember them, but not their contact info. And now I can't follow them, recommend them, or even hire them, just like that. For this, Moo is awesome. You can upload your own designs, or use theirs. Just make sure it has your name, what you do, phone, email and website. Make sure it's readable, and keep it simple. Moo lets you put up to 50 images on the back, so it's a great place to use your portfolio and let others choose their favorites, but just like your portfolio, only use your best work. And if you're an animator, just make your card memorable, you don't need to try and put a frame of your animation on your card (it mostly looks cheesy, and doesn't stand out at all).
  • One final piece of advice: You're an artist. Own it. Don't let others attitudes drag you down or hold you back. Don't apologize for not having industry standard art, few people do have that quality of work. You have worked very hard to get where you are, don't forget that. I have been in your shoes, so has every Disney, Dreamworks, and Pixar artist. We all remember. So don't hold back, be yourself, and show your art off to the world.

I could go on with more tips and advice, but for now, this is a great start. If you have advice to offer, or questions let me know in the comments! I'd love to hear them or to help!

PS: That is an affiliate link for G Suite, but I don't recommend them for money. I use their product for myself and think it is the best email service.