09: Professionalism in Commissions with Billy Blue

09: Professionalism in Commissions with Billy Blue

Posted by Nicholas Ribera on

Artist Billy Blue and I talk about the logistics of being commission focused. We discuss everything from software to file delivery to trusting your client.

You can listen to the episode here (or wherever you listen to podcasts) or read the transcript below:

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A Conversation with Billy Blue

Chain Assembly: We’re joined by Billy Blue today, who is an artist and illustrator. Billy Blue has some really cool designs he's done for some different role playing games and other projects. Lots of high fantasy, but some cool splatter punk looking stuff. And Billy, thank you for taking the time to join me. Oh, thank you. It's my pleasure. Thank you for having me. So why don't you introduce yourself a bit and tell me a bit about your art and how you got into the position you're doing now.

Billy Blue: Um, yeah, well, I like you said I do art for role playing games. Um, I Do a lot of fantasy things on like kind of morgue board related type of artwork, you know If you guys are familiar with that, um I really enjoy that style of work and I do a lot of it, but honestly I can do any style So sometimes people are surprised to see some of my work and things like oh, I didn't know you could do this kind of work So like you said I can do some high fantasy stuff. I do the splatter punk type stuff, I can do, you know, cartoon stuff, things like that. But I just, I just like making pictures, you know, and I just like role playing games. So where those two things intersect is, is where I like to be.

CA: So how did you start with the commissions? Where did it begin? 

I've been doing it off and on for  quite a few years, but honestly, the thing that really kickstarted it was the pandemic. So for about 15 years, I was working in the service industry and just kind of doing a little bit of art on the side and not really having the time to take it seriously. But once the pandemic hit, and my wife and I had to make some financial adjustments to survive. That's when we decided like, Hey, maybe since I'm stuck in the house, you know, maybe I can start pursuing this. And one thing led to another. Um, and it's been going pretty well so far. So that's been about, I don't know, two and a half, three years or so. Um, and I really just got my start by putting myself out there on the various groups, mostly Facebook. Um, I, was kind of doing everything for a while, whether it was Reddit, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, all that stuff. But Facebook is really the one that gave me the most feedback. Someone would say, hey, you got cool stuff. And then we would talk and I'd do a piece. And then I'd share that piece. And then more people would notice and kind of snowball from there. So I really feel very fortunate that I took a chance and it's workingnand I'm able to pursue it and that actually led me to, even getting all these commissions, led me to being able to design my own game, which is cool because I have always approached things from the visual part of it, of course, as an artist, and I never really thought of myself as a designer, but just being in those circles and having to work on one side of the project and the art side and getting to communicate with both the design people. It really gave me a lot of good information and a lot of good background. And also just playing a lot of games every week, you know. So I branched out into design and doing that now. And yes, so that's where it is at the moment. 

CA: Okay. My, my, my art business chain assembly primarily started with commissions and, um, in prep for this meeting, I just looked at, um, where I am for this year and only 6% of my business this year has been commission based, which surprised me, I thought it'd be a lot higher. But when I started, like the first two years, it was nothing but commissions. And I mean, like, yeah, the name of my business, Chain Assembly, refers to the top part of a disc golf basket, because that's, I started by doing art for disc golf tournaments and clubs, and I'm pretty much become like the go-to guy around Florida for disc golf related events. And it was probably like maybe a year and a half into it that I incorporated to try and do everything official.  So are you incorporated as an illustration company? 

BB: No, I thought about it, but really I have just decided to kind of keep it very kind of low key. I don't even use contracts very often. For the bigger jobs I will, and for some clients I will, but I think it mostly was because when I first started, I was doing AP for an hour or two for a person, and then I would never talk to them again. So it was just the nature of the business where it was very much like, here's my money, here's my image, and then we're done. So it was just kind of very quick and simple kind of transactions, and I just kind of kept that as much as I could. I've fortunately, knock on wood, I've only really been burned one time, and I was able to dispute it and get a refund. And it was just by someone who was gamma. So, you know, I use contracts when I need to, and I haven't done any kind of S corp or C corp or anything like that yet. But I think maybe if it gets bigger and I branch out to a certain point.

CA: I think, well, in my regard, the most fun part about incorporating was I get to then decide what becomes a business expense. So I can easily translate the money I'm making into better equipment, like a nicer computer and nicer microphone and things like that. And I really kind of start to... It...I mean, that is one thing that helped morph what my business became, because I can spend money in things that are tangentially related to what I was doing. And then that opens up a whole new revenue stream. Like, I guess a good example would be a, you know, a $1200 printer. So now I can make my own giclee prints and sell those at events and stuff, rather than having to offload them to a printing company. So that's just, you know, that kind of thing.

BB: It makes sense. It seems like it would make it a little easier to justify some of those expenses that you normally wouldn't be able to because, you know, it's for the business, you know, like, yeah, you can write it off or at least partially write it off and then, hey, now you're able to take a chance. 

CA: Well, I guess on my side, too, it helped that I was I started off all by just doing it as supplement supplementing my already existing income. In your regard, you're using it to bring in money to replace the income from the service industry that kind of shut down during the pandemic. So let's talk about your pricing structure. How has that changed since you started two and a half years ago? 

BB: Um, it has almost doubled, I guess. It just to be rough about the numbers, but I started off pretty low and just kind of kept inching it up little by little. Um, like a lot of people when I first started, I didn't know how to price. And not only did I not know how to price, but I had this mentality of since I am new at this, I'm going to keep my prices low. And I think that there's some logic to that, but I think that also what a lot of artists forget is that for the most part, nobody knows that you're new at this unless you tell them. And It's not like you have a big sign on your forehead that says I just started. You know, so if you handle yourself in a certain professional way and with a certain level of confidence, people respond to that. And it's like anything where value is a funny concept and a perceived value of something can be manipulated very easily. So if I walk up to you and I say, hey, I had this thing for a dollar. You assume, I could take it or leave it because it's not that important, it's not that valuable. But if I say I have this thing and it's a hundred dollars, you think, oh man, I don't know if I can afford that, but it seems really valuable. You know, and it's this funny thing that humans do where we kind of just accept whatever the stated value of something is, you know? I mean, that's the reason why diamonds are so valuable, because we say they are, you know? It's like a lot of new artists, they have this perception that I can't charge, you know, quote, real prices because I'm not there yet. And it's like, you know what, that's the wrong way to look at it. Look at it as far as what are the people with a similar skill level to you charging? That should be your baseline. And once I figured that out, I was able to kind of adjust my prices upwards. And like I said, over the last couple years, days uh, basically doubled. Um, also a really helpful thing is that when I first started, like I said, I was getting, you know, a commission from some guy, you know, who just wanted a picture of his, his OC, you know? So it's like, he doesn't have very much money to spend and that's why he just wants one small picture of his favorite character. But you know, nowadays I'm doing things for bigger clients. So, you know, such and such games will contact me and say like, hey, we need 10 quarter page pieces. You know, can you give us a quote? That's a completely different type of client and a completely different type of job and a completely different type of budget, you know. So starting off and doing those small jobs, it did help me get to a place where I was noticed enough that the bigger companies would then inquire. And then I was able to price accordingly. And it's honestly being just candid and professional with my clients has been the biggest factor in me raising my prices because there's a couple of clients that I've had over the years who I've been able just to speak very openly and honestly with and I just asked them, you know, hey what do you think of my prices? You know and I work at a and they would give me advice, you know, and amazingly, you know, one or two of them said, hey, you should charge more for your stuff, you know? And they said, you know, hey, this is an admission against interest, you know, because they wanna save money by hiring me, but they also know they gotta do what's right. And so that was really helpful. Also connecting with other artists, you know, we all hang out, we all talk, you know, and we kind of get a sense of what other people are charging. So if I know like, you know, Joe Blow over there is charging three times what I'm charging and he's getting clients, well then I can probably raise my prices by 30% and you know, not shoot myself in the foot. And after you do that for a few months, you're like, maybe I can do 20% more, you know, things like that. So there's a lot of things that go into it, but you, and it is kind of going by feel to a certain degree, but also a lot of it is just confidence and saying, hey, I'm worth something, you know? And my time and my skill is worth a certain amount. So this is what I think is worth. 

CA: I definitely went through a similar journey, like right off the bat when I was beginning, just like you said, I felt like I was a nobody, so I charged nobody prices. I started off at $15 an hour, because I said, I don't wanna do minimum wage, but I wanna do something close to it. And... 

BB: Well, what was comparatively, what was minimum wage to you at that time? 

CA: This was, I guess, maybe four years ago. So minimum wage is like ten dollars or something. I mean, like national minimum wage. I don't know what it is. I haven't heard the minimum wage in a while. 

BB: Yeah. So that's kind of what I was facing. I live in California, as far as it's high. 

CA: Oh, okay. Okay. I'm in Florida. We have no rights. Right. So that's kind of how I initiated it. 

BB: You're a real life Florida man. 

CA: Yeah, yeah, born and raised. Yeah, yeah. So I'm actually working on a Florida. I'm actually working on a Florida man themed role playing game. But anyway. 

BB: Oh, I love it. I love it. I got to hear more about this. 

CA: It's still in the planning phases. But anyways, we'll save that for the role play game talk towards the end. So yeah, so I started off with the $15 an hour and each year I increased it. And I've for the I've kind of been stagnant in the last year, year and a half or so, I have not raised my prices. And I know I'm woefully under charging for things. But at this point, because it's become such a small factor of the business, I'm really only doing it for people who like I'm friends with and just like a small favors to people. I don't really pursue large commission clients, mostly because I, in my mind, if I spend an hour designing something for somebody else, I get paid once. If I spend an hour designing something for myself, I'll get it funded through Kickstarter. I'll get multiple copies printed and I'll be able to sell it for the next two years. So yeah, yeah So that's one reason why I don't want to fill my time with commissions So that's kind of I guess how I ended up right now I just charged $30 an hour, which is still way too cheap. And that's gonna become my default price for Anything whether I'm doing like headshots with photography or Building 3d models of people's projects and stuff, you know, no matter what it is. That's kind of I'm doing research for someone on how to find the best wallpaper printer. No matter what it is, I'm just charging $30 an hour. And I typically do a two hour minimum. So because I do it by hour, I don't do it by project. Do you do by hour or by project? 

BB: You know, it's funny, I do it by project. But after a while, I realized that the project fees that I had settled on are actually really close to $30 an hour or, you know, like, depending on the project. Sometimes it's like $60 an hour. So yeah, and the reason why I do a light project is I do it also by size. So since I do a lot of work that is meant to be printed, my pricing structure breaks down to like this much of the page equals this many dollars. Because the logic is the bigger the image, the more detail and more time you're going to have to put into it. So something like that.

CA: It's fascinating because looking at your website, there's not a lot of backgrounds. You do a lot of like one-off characters. I'm the same way. I don't like doing backgrounds. I'll just do a solid color, some texture, and call it a day. So if you're pricing things based on like half page, quarter page, full page, it's still usually gonna be some type of hero shot, right? 

BB: Yeah, and that's mostly just because that's what I like doing the most. And that's just what I get page, that's what I get contact with the most for. So and the logic is still saying, you know, a hero shot that takes up, you know, a half a page is still going to take me a lot longer than say a two inch square thing of just a character portrait, you know. The environment stuff and things with backgrounds, those almost always tend to be the bigger things. So it just kind of works out that if I do an environment or something, or if I do a scene, I'm gonna charge more because you can't just, you can't cram a scene into a two inch spot illustration. So they want all that cool juicy detail to take up a lot of real estate because they want their readers to go, whoa, look at that. So it kind of all just kind of works out. 

CA: Hm. So what software, if any, do you use to track your commissions and the time you spend on projects? 

BB: As far as time tracking, I don't do anything digital. I just work at the clock and kind of make a note. For a while, what I was doing as I was painting in Photoshop, and I'd say, OK, I'm done for the night, I would write on a layer. I would just write, you know, six and a half hours or whatever. And then the next time I opened that file, I'd look up the time and then when I stopped working for the night, I would just do the math and say, okay, now it's at nine hours. And that helped me for a while, probably about a year, keep track of how long does a certain type of piece usually take me, ballpark hours. And that is what helps me kind of refine my pricing structure also. So now I know that like, if someone hires me to do a quarter page illustration, probably not gonna take me longer than X hours. So I'm comfortable with this price. And like I said, it's already set. So a quarter page is just this price, half page is just that price. And it's because I know it's gonna take me generally a certain amount of hours. 

CA: It's funny too, because yes, you definitely get better over time predicting how long something will take. But aside from that, it's also funny to notice that you really need to increase your prices over time because you become so much more efficient. Um, because, you know, something that might've taken you three hours is now going to take you an hour and a half. So you're losing money because you got better at executing the illustration. So it's, it's always fun trying to balance those things together. 

BB: Which is, which is part of the reason why I like a flat rate is because if a job takes me one hour versus three hours still making the same amount of money, which means I'm getting a higher hourly rate. If I charged by the hour every time, it would just be more work mentally for me and also I would have to adjust it. Like you said, if I go too fast, I'm kind of losing money, kind of that thing. But it's like this way, if I just say it's $200, you know, and if that takes me two hours less than I was expecting, bam, my rate just went up. But also I like knowing this job is going to bring in this amount of money on this date. So I can kind of plan my financial structure around that. Whereas like if it was by the hour, it would be an estimate. And then at the end of the job, I would have this X number, you know, and I would, it would be harder for me to plan in the future for that. Not knowing exactly how much you'd take. And also when you, when you price that way, I think it necessitates a little bit more of a waiting period at the end of the job because it takes them a while to get those funds together. Whereas if the customer knows I'm spending this amount for this work, they can usually just pay it all up front. Or if they are paying half of it at the end, since they know exactly what that number is going to be, they can prepare for that expenditure and they can pay it more quickly. And I am very fortunate that I have clients, almost all of my clients are able to pay right away. 

CA: I'd never consider that. That is a really good point, um knowing what's ahead of you you know the more the more specifically you can know what's coming the better you can prepare for it and the quicker you can respond to it so that comes on on my side as far as doing and planning work and it also comes on their side as far as paying for the work do you usually request money up front? 

BB: So the way that i work is um 50 percent is due to start the work i don't even want to make a single mark unless I have received half of the funds. And then the other half is due right before I deliver the final image. The final image with no watermark, high resolution, all that. The whole time I'm sending you sketches, you know, updates and things like that. But yeah, you don't get the final image until I get my money. That's just, it protects everyone because it's really common and if you spend a lot of times in the forums, artists forums like I do, it's really common for people to get scammed. And I think one of the biggest reasons people get scammed is because they're turning over the work before they have received the money. And some people feel like, I don't want to offend my clients, you know, by asking for the money ahead of time or, you know, oh, I'm just trying to be cool with them but it's like if a client is a professional honest person, then there's zero chance that they're going to get offended by you saying, hey, I would like my money. Because that's the whole nature of this relationship. They were expecting to give you money. The only people that get offended by you saying, I want my money, those people who are trying to scam you in the first place. So, you know, that's the advice I like to give to newer people is like, they say, oh, but you know, I don't know, am I going to offend them by asking for money? You know, are they gonna think I'm gonna run away with their money? No, they do this every day. They were contacting you expecting to spend money, so don't worry about asking for their money. And if someone has a problem with paying a deposit, it's either because they just aren't ready to spend the money yet, which is fine, they can wait, or because they were scamming you and they don't have the money. So, you know, like it kind of protects everyone in the relationship to put a pricing structure, a transparent pricing structure in place like that. And there's different ones. Some people say like, oh, a deposit at like 50% complete and deposit at 75% complete or whatever. I just like simple, round, easy numbers. I like being able to break things down. 50 now, 50 later, boom, we're done.

CA: I think that's really good insight to kind of call out how that I don't want to say lack of trust, but that situation. Well, that that does translate into more of a professional atmosphere. It makes them think, oh, this is not just nobody. This I got to I better get my shit together if I want to work with this person. I know I'm definitely too lazy and trusting, I guess, when it comes to the way I deal with those. I always just ask them to pay when it's done. I send them just screenshots throughout the process, not watermarked or anything. And because it's a screenshot, it's not super high res, but if they wanted to, like if I'm doing a logo, they could probably still use it if they needed to. And plus the invoices I send, the email they get, I use Square to send my invoices. And I just put a link to the files in my Google Drive in that. So they can just click the link at the files and not even pay the invoice. I've only had one person ever kind of just disappear in the middle of the process after I'd spent a few hours on their project. So again, almost all of my commissions are people that I've already done multiple projects with, so I trust them. Yeah. And that's the thing too is, once you start doing this, you'll get a reputation. And a client will talk to their friends and they'll recommend you and they'll say, oh, hey, I heard about you from Joe Blow or whatever. And once you start doing that and you get three or four or five, repeat client. That's a different kind of relationship than, you know, I'm getting a new one-off client, you know, every week because you have to kind of re-establish that trust every time you're speaking to a new person. But if this is the tenth job I've done for a dude, you know, I trust him, he trusts me, he knows, you know, and it's the same thing if, oh, you know, my friend recommended you the kind of trust barrier for entry is a lot lower than getting some random person every time.

BB: It's funny that you mentioned Google Drive because I actually use Google Drive for all my clients. And I'm really surprised how often my clients will say like, oh, nobody else does this. I wish more people would do this. And I'm like, this is just easier for me. It's less headache for me. Put all of your stuff in one spot, instead of like, where did I put that file on my computer? Like most people, my computer's a mess. You know, my desktop is a mess. It's always changing. And it's like, if I just have Google Drive and I know your name has a folder and all your stuff goes in there. So now I don't have to think about it, you know? If I look on my screen and messenger, oh hey, John is texting me about his commission. Okay, go to my drive, John, boom, there it is. You know, and a lot of my work structure is built around ease of use, you know, for me, and also for the client. So whether it's invoicing or delivery or storage of files, it's all built around ease of use. And I think that I know that my clients appreciate that because they tell me. They say like, some of them will just tell me straight out like, hey, I was kind of nervous hiring you because you're more expensive than this guy and that guy. But I'm really glad I did because your professionalism puts you ahead of them. And I just tell them straight out like, hey, that's that's one of my selling points. I think it's coming from the service industry because for a long time, when you're a waiter or a server, you're basically selling yourself to a table every time they sit down. And you're not only trying to do the job of getting their food and drink but you're trying to make yourself likable enough to earn extra money on top of that. So what you're doing is you're starting this this weird one hour relationship with a stranger where you're saying, hey, I really want you to trust me with your food experience but I also really want you to like me so that you will give me a little extra on top of that. And I really have tried to translate that experience to my commission business because to me it's kind of the same thing. I'm meeting some guy over the internet who doesn't know me from Adam. He's trusting me with his experience. And if I can make myself likable and professional, he's going to want to come back to me and become a routine customer. And it's working because I've had people tell me like you do things differently than the other artists I hire. And to me that's a big point of pride for myself because I think that there's a thousand artists out there and some of them are more expensive, a lot of them are less expensive than me. So what do I have that can set myself apart? It's the quality of my work and that includes the interactions we have. Do I communicate clearly and professionally? Do I communicate in a timely manner? Do I deliver things in a timely manner? Do I handle revisions well, or am I kind of rolling my eyes at them? Am I nickel and diming them and trying to charge them for every single thing? It's a totality of experience, and that's the way I look at it. And I try to kind of make every part of the experience a pleasant one for them within a kind of reasonable professional balance.

CA: So talking more about the Google Drive situation, the way I have it organized is I have a folder in my Drive called commissions, and within that, I have a folder for every single client. Then within each of those folders, I have a folder for each project for that client. So whenever I complete a project, I give them a link to the main folder so that they can be like, oh, yeah, I remember these are the files for that. And then the invoices I send, I also tell them I'll delete their stuff after 90 days.n And really I just delete stuff after my drive gets full. And it's always funny that no matter how long I wait, if I delete someone's files within the next few hours, they're gonna call me and say, hey, what happened to my files? Yeah. And so I have everything backed up anyways, through my cloud backup. 

BB: That's funny because that's one of the points of difference that I chose to make about my work is, I actually tell my clients, I will never delete your stuff. And I did that because I know it's a little bit of a headache for me to maintain that much storage space, but I use it as a sales point to justify higher prices because I tell them, this is basically like a free backup for you. If you ever lose your files, your files get corrupted, you contact me because I have it in the cloud for you forever. And once I started pitching that, people really started to like it because, and again, it's all about that sales experience. I'm basically telling them, here's a reason why you should choose me instead of the other guy. And the other guy has great work and his prices are less than mine. And maybe he's just as friendly and just as quick as I am, but I'm offering you free backup for life. And really, what does it cost me? I mean, I spend, right now I spend like $5 for like 200 gigs of Google Drive. Like, you know, that's to me, that's more than a fair trade-off. To be able to tell my client, I offer this also. Well, that's a great point. Just between you and I, a client would go to you, even if the price is the same, because I'm annoyed that they don't save the files to their machine, and you're turning something, you're making a sales pitch out of something that we're all already doing. Yeah, yeah, exactly, yeah. That's great. And that's just that sales mentality. It's like, and it's… Again, I keep going back to the service industry, but the way that I approached, you know, I'm doing that job was basically like, why should you choose me instead of the next guy? We're basically all the same to you, you know, and it's like, so that's the way I approach my business now is because these sales points, you know, I offer this, I offer this, I offer this, you know, and my dad actually owns his own business and he has since I was a kid and ever since I was like, four or five years old, I would go with him on jobs and I would observe the way he would talk to customers. And I kind of just got that kind of drilled into me like a service minded approach, like why should you choose me? You know, and he would tell people, I know my prices are higher than the next guy, but this is why you should choose me. And so just seeing that for so many years, you know, it kind of just now every, every kind of business conversation that I approach. I'm approaching it with that mindset. I'm looking for those opportunities to say, this is why you should choose me, you know? And the Google Drive, that was the one I found. 

CA: I think a deeper explanation of the frustration I feel with that, which is even further, a great explanation on why you're so much better at working through commissions than I am, is I cannot feign excitement about somebody else's project. And so one of my pet peeves is when someone comes to me and they're like, oh, I've got this great idea. It's going to make so much money and I really want you on board. And like, oh, you're I'm going to bring you up with me. We're both going to get famous together. I'm like, dude, just tell me what you want. I don't I don't get off the call. I'd rather you just email me what you need. I do not want to pretend I care about your soul searching TikTok project that needs flashing graphics. 

BB: Yeah, and it's honestly and it's just a rehash of something I've seen a thousand times already. Yeah. But you know what? You know what the solution is for that for me? I handle almost 100% of it at business through Facebook Messenger. That way I don't have to have that face to face contact. Because I actually I deal with a lot of anxiety issues. And uhm– being face to face with someone actually causes me a lot of anxiety sometimes. Um, and even this interview that we're doing now, which I know the visual component won't be released to anyone. It still made me really nervous. I'm like, I got it. You're ready. I got to put on your shirt. I got to comb my hair. And it's like, it almost felt like I was getting ready for a first date. And it's fake. So, which is stupid because you're never, no one's ever going to see this you know, they're just gonna hear my voice, which I'm okay with. But it kind of translates to that same thing, being face to face with someone kind of is nerve wracking. So I just eliminated that from my process. And it actually has a really good side benefit, which is I have a really terrible memory. So it's really useful to me to go to Facebook Messenger and I can just scroll up and see Oh yeah, that was a quarter page illustration he wanted. And then I don't have to ask that question of the client again, because asking the same question over and over gets annoying to anyone. So, and I tell them like, hey, I prefer to do my communication through Messenger because I can refer back and double check things and blah, blah, blah, you know. And I just think that it's a quick and easy way to work and it's a little less clunky than email. So that's what I've been using for the last couple of years and it served me really well. 

CA: I use a free service called Clockify, which is great for tracking your multiple projects. You can enter clients, have contact information for them, list projects underneath them, and then assign tasks. It's designed for multiple people, but I just use it for myself. Really. I hit the start button on a project when I work on something, and then I hit stop when I'm done and that tracks how long I've spent on a project and you can use that to easily translate that into an invoice. But aside from that, yeah, and it's free. It's great. But the software I use for art, and we can go deeper into drawing software later, but I use Clip Studio Paint, and they just announced a feature that actually tracks how long you're working on a file, from like first mark to last mark. And you could choose how it's, like when it stops counting, which I would love to try. But that's the first feature in their new subscription service. So, I don't know if I need that yet, but I think every every program should have that. I know there's got to be some type of third-party Windows app that will track how long you're in an active piece of software. Like if your phone can track how long you have an app open, a computer should be able to do that too. Yeah, I just use clockify for all my time tracking.

BB: Yeah, I like that. You know, every, I think every drawing app should also have a time lapse recording option, like appropriate. 

CA: Clip Studio Paint has that built in, yeah. 

BB: That's amazing, why doesn't Photoshop have that? 

CA: Oh, Clip Studio Paint is better for illustration in just about every regard. 

BB: You know, I've heard that from a lot of people. 

CA: All right, well, let's do it. Let's talk about software. 

BB: Okay, let's do it.

CA: So the reason why I use Clip Studio Paint primarily was when I first started my art business, I was using a bamboo tablet on a very old tower PC. And Photoshop could not handle any strokes. But Clip Studio Paint is way better at being adaptive to crappier computers. So as a result, that's what I ended up learning on. After that, I upgraded to a Surface Pro 6 which had just come out and was like the bee's knees because I could run the full Adobe suite on a tablet PC. Still, I don't, are you Windows or Mac? 

BB: I'm Windows

CA: Awesome, I'd shake your hand if we could. Do you ever see people drawing on Procreate and you're like, come on, man. Anyways, I'll alienate a lot of listeners if I go down that road. 

BB: Yeah, no, I get a little bit jealous because Procreate is a really great program. And I'm like, Please just make it for Windows. I just wanna screw around with Procreate, you know? And I don't wanna have to do some books. 

CA: I think for me, the biggest issue with drawing on an iPad is after you do the drawing, then what? You can't really open up Photoshop, create multiple versions, vectorize it in Illustrator, and then, like there's so many things that I do with the illustration after I'm done with the illustration that I would then need to move the file from an iPad to a computer. So why not just draw it on the computer?

BB: See, I don't have that issue because basically when I am done drawing, I'm done. And that's one of the things I like about the work that I do. Um, I try to approach it like a, like a traditional artist. Um, and because that's my background, that's my training. Um, I started with traditional medium and then I moved over to digital. Um, so basically when my last stroke is done, I put the, you know, pencil down and I'm done, right? I ship it. Uh, so an app like Procreate would work well if I had a Mac. 

CA: So some of my favorite features about Clip Studio Paint that I don't believe Photoshop has. Does Photoshop have symmetrical rulers?

BB: Do you mean like a symmetry feature where it, it draws for you? 

CA: Yeah. 

BB: They don't call them that, but yeah, they have that. They actually, okay, this is the funny thing. I use Photoshop and I love it and I've used it for a lot of years, but I also recognize that it's not the best thing that I could be using. It's just the thing that I'm the most comfortable with using. Right. And it's, um, it's almost like when people, so it's almost like when people, um, They'll kind of make fun of Apple products because like, oh, Apple just got this new feature. And they're like, yeah, Android had that five years ago. Yeah, that's kind of the situation Photoshop is in sometimes, where there is the biggest dog on the block, but they're also kind of the slowest to adapt sometimes. 

CA: Last year, Clip Studio Paint introduced some AI features and all of the users got really pissed at them for doing that. So then they rolled it all back. Meanwhile, Photoshop is like, we don't care. Because I mean, the people who are against it made a great point. We don't want our clients see us using a software and then wonder if we just generated what we delivered. So I mean, that definitely made some great sense. But the number one feature I use in Clip Studio Paint that I cannot do in Photoshop, in CSP you can create raster layers and vector layers on the same file. 

BB: Oh, how neat. Oh, wow. 

CA: Yeah, so any of my line art, I always do that on a vector layer. And it has this really great feature where it's kind of hard to describe, but when you erase a line on a vector layer, it erases all the way up until the next intersection. So you don't really need to slow down to make sure your lines like hit perfectly. You just quickly draw and then go after and clean up all the little stragglers that are sticking out past where they should be. 

BB: Oh, that's neat, yeah.

CA: Yeah, and so the way that the vector layers work is it's still raster strokes, but it's over a vector spline so you can go back and edit that spline and it'll move the stroke along with it and That also then still allows you to do a small file Say you don't have the best computer do a small illustration, but you can export it at 10 feet by 10 feet and it'll appropriately expand everything 

BB: Wow, that's actually really clever. Yeah, I can see how that would be useful, especially for logos and such. 

CA: Well, I do a lot of... I guess a good example is I do a lot of tarot decks and illustrations and things like that, that involve line work. And I always do those at 1200 DPI because I want to make my file like the thing that I'm illustrating, I want it to be in the correct ratio of how the card will be printed, but I want to have the opportunity to print it as a big 18x24 poster after the fact. So even though it's 1200 DPI, using the vector lines doesn't bog down the computer or anything. 

BB: Yeah, yeah, because if you're trying to make a, you know, 3 feet by 4 foot thing, and it was all raster, you know, that would get gigantic, you know? Your little computer would start smoking.

CA: Another great feature is you can import 3D models into Clip Studio Paint, such as they have posable characters, so you can do little poses, adjust the camera angle, and then draw on top of them. So that's quite helpful if you needed to have those right there. You can also have a little window pop-up that is just your color palette, so you can mix colors over there and then pick colors from that. There's also a mobile app, so you can do that same thing from your phone. Just turn your phone screen into a color palette. You just tap on different colors, blend them with your finger, and then on the computer, it will instantly pick up whatever color you tapped. You can also program short keys and buttons to your phone so that you just tap it on your phone and it changes the control on your computer. And aside from that, they also make a little handheld device that I use. And you can also program a Nintendo Switch controller to work with Clip Studio Paint to program tools and stuff into all that. Yeah, it just connects to Bluetooth and it just it's pretty awesome and those are just some of the features Yeah, the interface is very much inspired by Photoshop, so it's incredibly easy to Transition if you needed to and it's way cheaper way cheaper, but I mean I still have Photoshop, but yeah.

BB: I actually I started my digital learning on Photoshop. And then after a few years, I branched out and tried a bunch of different programs. And then for one reason or another, I came back to Photoshop. And I'm always kind of open to trying new things. So yeah, I'm definitely gonna check that out and give it a shot. 

CA: Plus, it's a good thing that they have- One thing that they have- I said, you know? Yeah. Well, one thing they also recently added to Clip Studio Paint, I don't know if Photoshop does this, but realistic color blending. And so that you've probably noticed this if you ever make a gradient in gradient in Illustrator, for example, because the colors on a wheel, like if you go from, say, blue to yellow, it's going to cross through gray in the middle of the wheel, which will sometimes give you a inaccurate gradient. And Clip Studio Paint and Photoshop, I don't know if Photoshop still does, but it used to be color blending would do the same thing. It would not be like yellow to green to blue or yellow to green to blue. It would be like yellow to kind of a grayish to blue. And they ended up doing more like pigment based blending on the colors, which really adds a lot of life to images that like you don't even, you only notice it when it's not there kind of a thing. It's hard to describe, but it's really fun to see it in action. You can also combine multiple brushes into one. So say for example, you could have a watercolor with a gouache on top and you can choose how they interact, whether it's randomization or based on pressure. So that's fun. 

BB: That's cool. Yeah, it's been a few years. I'm gonna have to check that program out again. 

CA: So enough about Clip Studio Paint for a while. Let me ask you this. What is your default when starting a new illustration? Like what sizes, do you use inches? Do you use what DPI? 

BB: I always use inches and I always use 600 DPI. That's just because that's what's comfortable to me and I change it accordingly for each client if they need it. Most people don't need anything different. I have like one client who always wants their line work at like 1400 DPI or something like that, which is not a problem, my computer handles it fine. But usually it's just not an issue because 99% of the work I do is an image printed in a book. And since it's all the same output, it allows me to standardize the way I work. And I have in Photoshop, you know, you go to File, New, and I have some pre-programmed stuff, like A5, letter size. So that way all the DPI and the size is just set up. So I just click the one I want, and then boom, I'm ready to go. OK. 

CA: So I guess you're usually doing more or less 8 by 10 at 600 DPI?

BB: Yeah, yeah, I get a lot of for some reason I get a lot of half and quarter page illustrations. So it'll be you know, whatever half of that is a lot of a five stuff and things like that. I think it's just the it's I think it's mostly the the clients that I work with are in like the the zine community, you know, and zine they're usually about a five. So, you know, just I usually work somewhere around that side. I used to whatever size they wanted, I would just create a 300 DPI document and then double the size. So if they wanted a half page, I would make it full page and then just shrink it down. But that was just a step or two extra. So basically what I ended up doing is I doubled the DPI and keep it the same size and then that way it still packs in all that detail and still looks good.

CA: An actual tarot-sized document, but at 1200. So I have plenty of freedom to expand. That gives you the freedom to blow it up. 

BB: Yeah, yeah. 

CA: Right. Yeah. What are you drawing with this? 

BB: It kind of depends on. Sorry. Oh, go ahead. 

CA: What kind of equipment are you drawing with? XP pen or Wacom? 

BB: Oh yeah, I have an XP pen. I think it's 22e Pro or something like that. And it's kind of, for those that don't know, it's kind of like the less expensive version of the Wacom, the Wacom Cintiq. So it's a big giant screen that I can draw on and it plugs into my laptop. 

CA: I bought an XP pen, I don't remember exactly which one it was, but it had a monitor on it. I think I paid like six or 800 bucks for it. I was so excited. And within like an hour of using it, I hated it. Mostly because I- Well, before that, I was using the Surface Pro 6, which is a small monitor, but the resolution on that tablet was so much better than what I had on that XP-Pen monitor. Plus, the parallax was pretty bad on it, too. Like when you're drawing on the tablet, the stroke is almost immediately where the tip is. But on that XP-Pen monitor, it was like maybe half a millimeter or maybe even a full millimeter away. So it was harder to like get in those small areas and predict where the stroke is going to begin. Plus, it didn't allow for the hand gestures that I was used to, like pinching to zoom and double tapping to undo, things like that, which I can do with Clip Studio Paint. So I returned that and then just upgraded to the Windows Surface Pro, which I adore. It's super powerful. The screen pops down over the keyboard and it's still a full powerful laptop, but I can do all my illustration on it.

BB: I actually had a Surface Pro also a few years ago. And I really liked it. It was just a good drawing experience. I think the only thing I didn't like about it was that it was small and it was just kind of hard to, you know, click the things I needed to click sometimes. But the actual drawing experience was really nice. 

CA: Well, the Surface Studio or Surface Pro Studio I'm using now is...I think 15 inch screen. So it's way bigger than their surface pro that I was using before. But I mean, ideally I want the giant. 

BB: Yeah. 

CA: Windows makes this giant, I'm sure you've seen it. It's this giant tablet computer. That's like a three by four ratio, but they haven't updated it in years. So it's got super old technology in it. I'm very happy with what I have. And I love being mobile with my full studio. So I can go to a coffee shop, do an illustration, edit video render 3D things all on my tablet, which is, I mean, my laptop that converts to a tablet, so no complaints there. 

BB: Yeah, when I first started out, I had a little bamboo, Wacom bamboo tablet, and it was like, I think it was like six by eight or something ridiculously small. And then, yeah. ‘

CA: That's what mine was. 

BB: Yeah, yeah, it's great for when you're starting out, you know, it's a perfect entry model. And from there, I went to like a Surface Pro, Service Pro, I went to the XP pen that I have now, and that's starting to get a little old, so I'm wondering if I'm gonna go back to the non-screen type, but I haven't decided yet. 

CA: Do you find a benefit to that? 

BB: You know, it's funny, I like both of them for different reasons. It's, I don't know, it's hard to explain because it's kind of a, it's a feel, you know, it's a feel thing. And I definitely like having the screen to draw on because it really feels in my brain. It feels like drawing on paper or something. But for some reason, drawing on just like the pad tablet thing and looking at the screen, it's like a I think my brain is just maybe trained to enjoy that more. And I don't really know why. Yeah, maybe because that's how I started, you know? So that's what I was born for. 

CA: I understand that it might be more comfortable for your neck to be looking ahead, but it's not comfortable for your arm to have your arm up in the air as you're drawing. So I could see that being a factor. 

BB: Yeah, that's definitely an issue is over the years that I had to learn to like, if I sit in one position for too long, I get cramps in my back and it's made me actually a little more healthy because I have to force myself to get up and move. Whereas if I'm too comfortable on drawing, I'll just sit there for four or five hours straight. And then I wonder why, you know, I stand up and I feel like an old man. 

CA: I've got this one thing that I bought that's been a huge lifesaver. It's like a, it's hard to describe. It's like an arm cradle that clamps to your desk. So if I need to move like my hand from say mouse to keyboard, this little cradle just slides around because it's like all hinged and it feels like some type of old medical device, but it just keeps your arm, your elbow supported throughout the entire use of your arm moving around your workspace. And that has really saved me. So when I'm like at my mom's house for the week or something, I don't have that with me, I get carpal tunnel very easily, but that thing really saves all the fatigue. I'll send you a link to it. It's like 30 bucks and it's a lifesaver

BB: In my head it In my head it looks very big and clunky like Do you remember the do you remember the guns from aliens and they had that like pivot thing? And you know what I mean? Like that's how I picture you drawing I picture you have to like strap into your desk and then you have this giant like arm that moves around. And I'm going to be really disappointed. I'm going to be really disappointed if you send me a link and it's something like very nicely designed and slim. I really hope it's just ridiculous and all over the place. 

CA: Well get ready for the disappointment then. 

BB: Yeah. 

CA: So I wanted to ask you, how do you send and collect your invoices? 

BB: PayPal. I use PayPal for everything. It's honestly, it's just what I started with and it never really gave me any problems. So I just stuck with it. I think that similar to using Facebook Messenger, one of the benefits to PayPal is that it's so widely used. So if I say, hey, I need a PayPal you, nine times out of 10, that's not an issue. There's only a very small percentage of people who they or won't use PayPal for whatever reason, but you know, like I said, it doesn't give me any headaches, so I just keep using it. 

CA: If they can't use PayPal, it's probably because they're planning on scamming you and they've already been kicked off PayPal for scamming. 

BB: Exactly, yeah, yeah. Or they're trying to do some weird, you know, can I pay you in this form, whatever. No, please, PayPal. 

CA: I use Square to send all my invoices. And that's a good one. I guess primarily because I already use Square for, I do a lot of in-person markets. And so I use Square to collect payments at those events. So I've already got like my hourly rate up in there, my half hour rate up there. So I'm just used to using that Square. 

BB: Square is good for those kind of in-person transactions. 

CA: Yeah, I do wish you could like attach the files to your Square invoice, but the only thing you can really attach is your logo. So it's kind of like a five megabyte limit. So that's why I just put in the Google Drive link. It would be nice too if you could program it to send the link after the invoice is paid. Maybe they do have a feature. It's just been so long since I messed with it. I just put it in the description of the invoice. 

BB: Oh, that's funny. I never even thought about using the invoice to deliver the file or a link. Because what I do is I send them the invoice and then when that's paid, I drop the Google Drive link into Facebook Messenger. I just, I like being able to say to people, like if they say, hey, how do I get the file? I'll just be like, it's in the invoice I sent. It's on the side saying that. Yeah, yeah. Plus I realized since I'm working with a lot of ReV customers, they already have the link to their own file because it's the same folder they've been using for the past year. So it's usually already taken.

CA: Well, why don't you tell me a bit about the role-playing game you're designing? Since you're kind of stepping out from just the illustration side now. 

BB: Yeah. Um, so, uh, it's called TLD RPG and it's kind of a play on words because. 

CA: Great name. 

BB: Yeah. Thank you. It's funny about like 50% of the people get the joke and the other half are like, what does that mean? Um, but there's an internet acronym T L D R. stands for too long, didn't read. And it's basically just a way to summarize, you know, like a long post or something. Hey, if you don't want to read my whole rant, TLDR, here's my point in one sentence. So I set out to design a role playing game that was rules light or minimalist, and I just kind of wanted to look at it. It started off as a two page document. So I thought, you know, hey, this is kind of like my summary of the role playing game experience, so quick and to the point, so let's call it TLDRPG. That was one of the first things that I came up with and it stuck, so, yeah, that was kinda neat. As far as the game itself, it's a classless, rules-like system. And it's designed to be kind of really quick and easy and you can just jump in and you don't have to learn a whole bunch of rules. And you can just have fun with your friends, I think that a lot of games just have too much stuff in them. And one of the points of role playing games to me is um, player agency. Like if everything is spelled out, it almost feels like you're not playing a game. It's almost like you're running a simulation. And I was trying to design a system that would help facilitate that feeling of. I have agency, I'm making decisions that matter and the story changes depending on what I do. So I tried to design a system that kind of gets out of your way and just lets you have fun with the game.

CA: So when you're putting this together, is it just the rule set or are you also designing a world, a campaign setting? What kind of product do you envision for this? 

BB: Well, so I kickstarted the project about six months ago and actually I'm starting to do the final steps of delivering the PDF while I'm waiting on print copies and so those will go out soon. But as far as the product there's a there's the basic core rule set and then I also designed a short adventure to go with it and I wrote the adventure I threw the map and then came up with a bunch of characters I mean creatures and things like that to go in it so that way you could kind of you could just grab this book and sit down and have everything you need or if you want this book could really be plugged into kind of any system. And in fact, there was an actual play that was done on YouTube with the, I don't know if you're familiar with the group Wandering Monster. They have a really good YouTube channel. 

CA: I am. 

BB: Okay, they actually did. Yeah, I follow their podcast, yeah. Oh, they're really great guys. And they actually did a live play using TLV and then they just combined it with a setting, I don't remember which one, but a setting written by someone else. And they just kind of said, we're doing this mission, but we're using this rule set. And it worked really well. So I really liked that. I like that you can just kind of sit down and do what you want with it. And again, that kind of goes back to my philosophy regarding games is that they shouldn't get in your way, you know, they should facilitate play instead of hinder.

CA: Wow, that's very exciting. So the campaign that you're, or the adventure you're putting together, is it fantasy or is it like a whole new thing you're designing from the ground up? 

BB: Well, it's definitely kind of, it's definitely fantasy based. The book itself and the game itself definitely, you can tell grows out of a fantasy, like a love of fantasy. You know, there's Goblins and things like that magic spells, but one of my plans Hopefully is if this is popular enough that I could adapt it to other genres and I Mean, honestly, I don't see why someone couldn't take To the RPG as it is and just say let's let's run a sci-fi campaign or something like that you know, you would just have to kind of rework it around the edges, but the the base system itself is actually pretty lean and able to just do what it needs to do without a lot of trappings. So it's actually a D6 dice pool based system and that was deliberate from the beginning because one of the things that was important to me about making this game was to try to make it a very approachable. So it kind of goes back to the idea that like some games just have too much in them and too much explanation necessary. So you know, if you if you hold up a D6 and you show it to someone, they're going to know what it is, you know, and they're going to know how to use it, you know, because it's just it's dice. Everybody knows dice. But if I hold up like, oh, here's a D8 and here's a D20 and whatever, oh, and here's a D100 chart, you know, it's like that requires explanation. And those things can they're a bar to entry to some people. So one of the design constraints that I put upon myself from the beginning was make this game very approachable so that you don't end up just creating some other, you know, 300 page game that's dense and nobody wants to play. 

CA: So for the print versions that you said you're sending out, did you fund those through a campaign or you just had them for sale somewhere? How did you pull that off?

BB: Um, yeah, I ran a Kickstarter campaign and, um, that is going to pay for the print run basically and, uh, excuse me. I ran a Kickstarter to pay for the print run and that's going ahead full steam right now and should be hopefully being started, started to being delivered.

CA: I'm taking a look at it, but for some reason the page isn't loading for me. Found it on Google results. Um, all right, here we go. 

BB: Okay. And by the time this, um, interview goes live, I'll actually put a link, um, on my personal website that says like click here to buy my game. 

CA: So they'll be able to go to billyblueart.com and they'll be able to click a link and buy my game. Oh, that is. That is a gorgeous banner image. I always get suckered into, I always get sucked into projects based on the banner image. And when I was looking at your website earlier, I saw that it looks kind of like a bat boy from weekly world news. I love that little goblin character. 

BB: Oh, it totally does. I forgot about that guy. 

CA: Yeah, yeah, for all of your listeners, the big image is like a bat-goblin hybrid.

BB: And it's if you see that image, it's it's kind of a good summary of my art style but also a good summary of the game itself, it's kind of Gritty and interface and kind of really jumps off the page and says hey look at me, you know 

CA: So I could see one of the you're off No, sorry, you do it. 

BB: Oh, I was gonna say one of the benefits to being an artist who is making my own game I was able to pack a lot of artwork in there and of course get the artwork exactly the way I wanted for those that don't know when you make a project like this the artwork is usually one of if not the biggest expenses and that's why you know just to put it nicely that's why sometimes the artwork is not so great and some of the like some very like smaller operations because they just can't afford, you know, to get a lot of good artwork. So they'll go to newer artists or, you know, they'll try to do it themselves. So like kind of we talked about before about that sales sales point mentality, I thought, hey, I'm an artist, this is usually a big expense for a project. So push that gas pedal and pack as much really cool imagery in there because that's going to help set you apart from other people who they just can't afford to commission, you know, 50 different cool images, you know, and all it cost me is my time.

CA: I know exactly what you mean. Every time I'm putting together a Kickstarter campaign, I load it with graphics and as I'm doing it, I'm like, I am so thankful I know how to do this. If I had to wait 48 hours for some other artist to just give me like a little text banner, I would be so frustrated. But the fact that I could just. spend like four or five dedicated hours and build out a gorgeous Kickstarter page, I love that I can do that. I mean, it's taken years to be able to do that in four or five hours. 

BB: Exactly. Yeah. Well, there's that old story about Picasso where someone says, oh, hey, can I get a drawing from you? And he kind of whips up this drawing in like 30 seconds, and hands it to the person. And they say, oh my God, how did you do that drawing so fast? It only took you 30 seconds. And he says, that drawing didn't take me 30 seconds. The drawing took me 30 years, you know, and the whole point is it takes years of hard work to get to the point where you are now. So, you know, me being able to pack all that cool artwork in there, it's a sign that I have put in the years of work before that just to be able to do that kind of work for myself.

CA: I love that mock-up you have of the book with the white cover and that grinning, blood-dripping face. 

BB: Oh, thank you. 

CA: Is that what the final product is going to look like or did it change since the campaign? 

BB: No, no. Actually, that is one of the very first images that I sketched out for the cover. And I loved it and it just kind of worked. So I just brought it to final and it's stuck ever since. Yeah, I was actually just reviewing print files the other day before yesterday. And yeah, it looks good now. And I made a kind of a weird choice because for the people listening, he's describing the front cover is white, first of all. And there's like the bottom half of a face kind of coming down from the top of the page. And it's real gross looking. And it looks like a goblin or something like that you know, that kind of, you can kind of picture it in your head and there's like blood dripping out of the mouth. And I made kind of an interesting choice because I chose not to put the title on the front cover. It's almost fine, you know, and it's all over the inside of the book and the back of the book. But I did that deliberately because I wanted to say this book and this game is a work of art. And it's something that grabs your eyeballs and you want to look at it more. And so I just kind of approach the cover image as not necessarily a cover, but just as a resting piece of artwork. 

CA: Well, you definitely nailed that goal. I do recommend if you do a campaign like this again, put that core book at the top of the Kickstarter page. 

BB: Yeah, that's a good idea. 

CA: At the top of the story. Yeah. One thing I've learned is if you have your money shot right at the top, that'll draw people in more than them initially seeing like the title and description of what it is the campaign is. Yeah, you want them to see what you want them to pledge for. 

BB: TLDR, here's my book. 

CA: Yeah, right. Yep, exactly. So was this your, yeah, this was your first campaign and you've backed 28. So nice. Yeah, good success on the first one. 

BB: Don't tell my wife. Yeah, this is my first campaign and it's my first designed game. So I was very nervous but also very pleasantly surprised that people were so supportive. And I'm really excited for people to get it in their hands and start playing it so I can hear what they think about it. All the feedback that I've gotten so far has been really helpful and positive. And I've been play testing it for, you know, off and on for about a year or so. It's, it feels pretty sturdy. Um, but yeah.

CA: Well, I think it took me seven Kickstarter projects before I broke $1,000. And you broke 2,000 on your first one. So that's a good... Yeah, close to three. Yeah, it's a good trend. So aside from the book and aside from the commissions, do you have any other sources of income that you have or you're working on having as an artist, I mean? 

BB: You know, I have all of these things that I keep saying I'm going to do and I'm going to release, and then I just get distracted with the commissions. But now that I'm finishing up the book, because that was my main one, I want to move on to creating a Patreon or something like that. I want to, and it's like you talked about earlier, it's I can do a job once and get paid, or I can do a job once and get paid many times for it. So I'm trying to the book and also something like a stock art Patreon is a, is a, an attempt to create these like semi passive incomes. And I think one of the things that would go over really well is a Patreon service where every month I release X amount of pieces and you can do whatever you want with them. I think that my style is interesting enough where I think that people would say like, oh, I want to put this in my game. You know, it looks different and, you know, gets people's attention, clients that I work with who do their own, they publish your own books, and they do that kind of stuff regularly. They have told me, yeah, man, if you make a stock art service or stock art Patreon or something like that, we'd be very interested. So they always need, they always need work, you know, so I might as well make work that can be purchased more than once. 

CA: So I sell a good amount of I guess I don't want to say sell, I have a okay, I could do better and okay income from Adobe stock photos. Whenever I go out, take photos around town, the nicer ones I put up on Adobe stock. And I probably average maybe $10 a month. Nothing crazy, but that's $10 I didn't have. I know with Adobe stock, they also, you can sell licensing of illustrations through it and the cut you get is way better than the cut you get from photos. And I've been meaning to just force myself to spend one day going through my illustrations and seeing which ones would be good candidates for it and upload them to that. So that might be a good thing to look at for any of the listeners who are looking to make money with stock illustrations. Episode two of my podcast is a conversation with someone who does have a Patreon that is supplying her custom illustrations to it. Some helpful information there too, as far as interacting with the audiences you build through Patreon. 

BB: Yeah, yeah, and that's a big one to me is that if you do a Patreon, you're creating a little community. And that really appeals to me because I just, I like interacting with people in certain ways. Like I said before, being face-to-face with human beings is sometimes anxiety-inducing, but interacting with them through a screen or through a digital community is actually really gratifying for me. I just really like sharing information and sharing work and sharing encouragement and things like that. So the idea of creating my own community where we can do all that stuff and just kind of also make a little money on the side like that really appeals to me. So that's going to be my next big project. I have another game planned, but I'm telling myself to get the Patreon rolling before I start my next game. Otherwise, it will just distract me. 

CA: Yeah, I get that. I think as an artist, as a modern day artist, you really kind of have to open yourself up to shotgunning different revenue streams. You can't just kind of exist as just one thing. 

BB: Yeah. I mean, you could, but it takes a lot more dedication when it's easier to have different sources of income and then nurture the ones that work and figure out why others are not working. It's always fun to go back and reflect on where that is. 

CA: And so if anyone wants to see your art or soon buy your new book, they can find you at billyblueart.com and on Instagram you're also billyblueartdotcom on Instagram as well as on Facebook, billybluart.com spelled D-O-T-C-O-M. All right. Is there anything else you want to send people to? 

BB: Um, I think that's good for now. Uh, just I'm, I'm very approachable and I'm very kind of willing to talk to people. So if anyone has any questions about anything I've talked about today, you know, hit me up, I'm always willing to chat or, you know, Hey, maybe you listening to this, maybe you're an artist and you have questions about your artwork or about the business of your artwork, you know, let me know, and I don't know everything, but whatever I do know, I'm willing to share.

CA: Um, yeah. Awesome. On that very supportive note, thank you so much, Billy, for joining me. 

BB: Yeah, it was my pleasure. Hopefully there are no technical difficulties with first half, but we'll see. 

CA: We'll see. All right. Thank you. And I'll definitely be able to bring you on at some point in the future too. 

BB: Oh, it sounds great.


Chain Assembly: Art for profit sake is recorded through Riverside FM, distributed through Spotify for podcasters, and edited on Adobe Audition. The music is provided by Old Romans. If you learned anything useful or found this podcast helpful, please rate and review us five stars. If you want to learn more about me or my art, head over to ChainAssembly.com.

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