Thursday, January 29, 2009

Ninja Mountain Podcast #1 - Let's Start at the Beginning

It's the moment the world has been waiting for! And they didn't even know it! Yes, it's the premier episode of the Ninja Mountain Podcast. It's a podcast about art and the business of art, from the point of view of our Deadly Ninja Art Squad.

This episode features Jeremy, Jon and Patrick as they discuss their first freelance jobs, how to get started as a freelancer (and how not to), art school, Applebee's, space boobs, and anything else that comes to mind. Get ready for an hour of art talk!

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Show Notes for episode 1:

Porn Star Name

Here's the Everquest picture Patrick was talking about.

And this is the $5 picture Patrick was thinking of, his first semi-professional picture. It illustrates a story about a guy in the old west who comes across a town in the hills of Wyoming that's mysteriously frozen solid...
Catgut, Wyoming (That's right - 1991. Of course it sucks!)

Opening theme: Jon Hodgson
Closing music: SlingshotVenus

Be sure to leave comments about the episode, and remember to suggest some topics for future discussion. Art technique, digital art programs, business, philosophy - you just let us know what you're interested in and we'll try to be interested as well.



cmalidore said...

I imagine many folks will be curious on how to build up a functional portfolio - the balance of how much variety and genre range, and what not.

It would be pretty subjective toward the potential client, but perhaps you guys can shed some light on how you go about setting yourselves up to apply to a company or individual?

Unknown said...

Nice job guys. It's good to hear the experiences of other artists and know that's it's very much a journey to success. This will be a great resource for aspiring artists to learn from.

Unknown said...

Thanks Chris, and the other Chris! Now let's see how many people named Chris we can get to comment. There must be more of you out there.

Keep those discussion ideas coming. It's great to get teh feedbax.

C.E.L. Welsh said...

I posted a comment on PRGnet, but seeing as how my name is Chris, I had to post one here, too! I'm not an artist, but I am a freelancer and I work with artists, so it was nice to listen to the experiences you shared in your podcast on two levels. Plus, you guys are pretty entertaining.

Chris Welsh

Unknown said...

Hey, thanks Chris. We'll get the "Legion of Super Chris's" going here yet. :) Glad you liked the show!

Lucas Cottom said...

Thanks for the insight guys. The Podcast was great.

Ninja Mountain said...

And thank YOU for listening. See you next week!

jakebilbao said...

hey guys,

nice podcast. loved the part where you guys were discussing about your reasons for leaving art school. i also had somewhat the same reason also.

keep it up guys! i'll keep listening.


Ninja Mountain said...

Hey Jake. Thanks for giving it a try. It's funny now that we've mentioned our experiences on the show how many other artists are telling us that they encountered something similar. Sometimes it's just good to know that you're not the only one to have a particular problem.

Kat said...

Loved the show guys!! Was laughing about "Take me to your Applebees" for the next few days. Keep it up.

Ninja Mountain said...

Thanks Kat! We've had Jon locked in a dark room, force-feeding him scotch for 24 hours straight, so he can be that funny again this week. If necessary we will kill him to make you laugh - that's how seriously we take this thing.

Usby said...

Interested to hear more stuff about getting work, and dealing with clients, requests for changes etc

Good podcast. Now do more!

Ninja Mountain said...

OK Usby, because you demanded it -- Episode two is UP NOW!!

Andrew said...

Love the posts! Had me in stiches, informative and funny, a great combination. Looking forward to more!

Ninja Mountain said...

Thanks for letting us know you liked it Andrew. Glad to have you on board!

Ryan said...

Wow! I've been looking for ages for a podcast on this topic. Thanks so much! I especially enjoyed hearing about your early years in the business and breaking in.

I'm right in that difficult starting period. I've been working mostly doing board game art for a number of companies. While I seem to be able to find enough work to fill up every second of my time, I almost can't pay my rent (even with another full time job). I'm sure this is common to everyone starting.

My question is this: How do you decide how much to charge and is it really possible to live doing this full time?

Ninja Mountain said...

Thanks for listening, Ryan!

That's a great question, and I think we'll be addressing it this week or next. Glad you'll be listening!

The best answer I can give is that yes, it's possible to make a living but you really need to work on expanding your client base. Be sure you are constantly on the lookout for new work and new clients, and make sure that your current clients know that you think you need more money.

Don't be afraid to ask for more, or negotiate when a client gives you a price. It's always just a starting point. If the client really wants you they'll either give you more money or they'll have to worry that they'll lose you. You have a strong bargaining position because YOU have the training and talent - don't forget that.

And don't neglect what we talked about in the previous episodes - network online! Attend conventions (even little ones)! Use the internet to research companies and apply with them.

Another great thing to do is try to get a day job that's art-related. Working in an art store, a copy place that does layout work, a multimedia company, anything like that, will really give you a leg up. Any art experience is better than working in some office or warehouse or whatever.

It's very hard to get traction, but once you do things get easier. It's never completely a breeze, but it does become manageable.

As to charging... There's a simple formula for charging a client: figure out what hourly money you want to make. This needs to include rent, food, insurance, car payments, all of it. If you worked 40 - 50 hours a week, what hourly amount do you need?

Lets say you need $800/week. That means that for a 40 hour week you need to make $20/hour. Now, figure out how much time the job will take, INCLUDING time talking to the client, sketches, reference, rendering, corrections... everything!

So as a for instance: if the job will take 1/2 hour to discuss with client, 1/2 hour to gather reference, 2 hours to draw, 4 hours to render, and you about 1 hour for corrections, that's 8 hours.

Now, add 25%. Why? Because it always takes longer than you think.

That means that you'll bid the job at 10 hours, 10 * $20 = $200. Easy as that. If you are offered less, you can take it, but you know just how much money you will be losing.

Hope this helps!

Jon Hodgson said...

I expect we will chat a bit about this in the next podcast which we are recording tonight, but I solidly agree with Patrick's approach there.

It can be a bit of a shock to work out just what you need to charge to make a living. And that can be testament to how easy it is to think of any work as good work, and a step towards becoming full time. In one sense it is just that. In other senses we have to be mindful that working at less than a living wage can also be the highroad to debt, de-motivation and a whithering of our skills as we have to churn it out just to make the rent!

Ryan said...

Thanks so much, that really helps a lot. There were a lot of answers there I needed to hear.

Meredith said...

The part about art school was pretty accurate :)

I wasn't supposed to work on technique in painting class apparently. They wanted something DEEEEEEEP instead.

Ninja Mountain said...

Yeah, Meredith - I'm really surprised and saddened by just how many of us had that same experience in college. I had long thought it was rare, but I hear it from more and more artists as the years go by. There are some truly lousy art instructors in this world.

Thanks for listening though! We'll get through this together. :)