I don’t do a lot of freelance art these days. Not for a few years, anyway. I used to, I used to do a lot of it but when I started Uptown Girl I put all my time and energy into the comic. Once in a while a freelance project rolls my way and it’s a nice break from what I usually do and gives me a chance to play around with something new.
Doing art for other people is kind of a tricky thing. Usually I am working with someone who has no idea what they are talking about and they give me vague descriptions of what they want. Usually along the lines of “well, I want a drawing of someone young, but not too young, someone sort of trendy but not too cool, maybe something kind of ironic but not a parody…I don’t know, I’ll know it when I see it.” But going overboard on a description is also a challenge, like “Make it a drawing of a girl 26 years old, with barrettes in her hair, with hair that is normally straight but it was recently curled. She should be very fashionable but not overly so. I am thinking small hoops for earrings, and although you can’t see, she must have a toe ring.” Yikes. And God forbid you don’t give her hoop earrings. I always try to show someone my past work so they know what they are getting from me. I draw pretty simple, and to be honest, small hoop earrings are likely not going to stand out as much as you think they will.
But normally working with someone else works out well. To be honest, I like working with descriptions and boundaries. If someone says “draw whatever you want”, then I am almost paralyzed and have no idea where to start. But in a perfect world, all my freelance projects would work the way this current one is.
I am working on a project focusing on stereotypes in website designers. My point of contact for this project sent me character designs and ideas for the drawings and the descriptions for the characters give me enough guidance and enough freedom so I can not only create what she has in mind, but also lets me have a little fun.
She sent over 4 character designs. The first one had a description of an evil business man with a budget ray gun that zaps color and life from its target.
And here’s what I did:
The third character I drew had a description of a zombie in geeky clothing. Since the design called for ‘geek clothing’ I threw ‘Firefly’ onto the shirt. Looking back, I realized I totally should have done a ‘Doctor Who’ t-shirt.
And the final designs were calling for a typical boy/girl next door armed with a sketchbook, pencil and colorwheel. I drew these last and I really wanted to play up the whole “boy/girl next door” idea so I tried to show a little style to them, but I think only the girl really worked in this drawing, in terms of giving it an old-timey, retro design feel.
Anyway, the project isn’t quite finished but I like what I’ve done. I also got to play around in Photoshop a bit and although I still am not very good with coloring, I am pretty happy with the finished look on these drawings.