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"In the Studio"
An Interview with Artist Dan Gremminger

(This interview is continued from the September 12, 2008 Artellagram...)

Artella: How can I try to start getting work as a freelance illustrator?

Dan: If you want to make a living as a freelance artist, you must feel a passion for what you do. You need to be a self-starter and a person who can find motivation without outside provocation. Having an artistic talent is, of course, a prerequisite. (Although I do know a couple of examples where individuals succeeded on sheer determination.) But for most artists, the hardest part of this business is the mundane, day-to-day management duties: keeping financial records, making cold calls, setting up meetings, and doing the boring organizational chores of a (hopefully) successful company.

Have your best work scanned and mounted and laminated for presentations. The ability to send digital samples of your work is a must and having a website to show off your talent is a big plus. You must also cultivate a client list, both potential and real world. After you have a few real world samples, the momentum will just build and you are off and running. Every two to four weeks, call (not email) your ten best client contacts. Many projects have come from good timing like making that phone call to keep in touch.

Artella: I can't seem to make time to make art. Everything else always gets first priority. Do you have any suggestions?

Dan: A commitment to your art has to be a priority. Look at your schedule and find a half hour or so each day to focus on your artwork. For me, the earlier in the day, the better. By the end of most days, I am too tired to find the energy. Because of the book, The Artists Way, I discovered that my best time is very early in the day. When I am fresh and my day is uncluttered has proven to be the best time.

Also, remember that it's not the destination, but the journey. And each step in that journey is of equal importance. I continually find joy in the small things. And I'm a big believer in small treats for myself as a reward for a job well done. The light at the end of the tunnel may be small, but it's highly motivational.

Artella: I have written and illustrated a children's book and am trying to decide if I want to try to get it published by a book publisher or if I should self-publish. What are the most important things to know about each option?

Dan: This question comes down to control and money.

If you want to control the entire process and can afford to do so, you should self-publish, which is what my partner and I did with our children's book, Deep River Dark. You do get to control the whole process, but you will be responsible for all sales and distribution of your book, which will take more time and money.

Finding a publisher as a first-time author is a difficult and (usually) slow process. You will need great faith in yourself and your book, because you will hear "No" a lot. If and when you find a publisher, they will take all creative and production control away from you. In return for their monetary "show of faith" in your book, they have the right to change the story, the art, and even the title of the book. They will have distribution avenues in place and may offer you a book tour, which is a great idea. Book sales multiply with events where the public gets to meet the Author/Illustrator.

Artella: Why is it so hard for creative men to be accepted in society?

Dan: In the world of Advertising, men have always outnumbered women. Men have always dominated the creative arts. While I'm definitely not saying this is a good thing, I don't think there's any stigma to being creative and being a man. I think men who are in touch with their feminine side are more balanced individuals. Creativity is birth and I equate it with the more feminine qualities in each of us. The male side is more aggressive and destructive, which explains why men dominate the business world.
See Dan's creative books in The Shoppes of Artella, here.

Want more artist interviews from Artella? Take a look at our eBooks Artist Profiles Assembled and Artist Profiles Assembled, Vol 2, and look at the "Ask the Artist" column every single day in The Artella Daily Muse, our daily online creativity newspaper. You can even sign up for a free two-day subscription to The Artella Daily Muse, to see what it's all about.

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