Thought I'd share a little gallery of photos I'd previously taken and posted on Instagram. I usually just post art on Instagram, but sometimes you just come across something interesting and want to capture or document it.
From time to time I like to tidy up my portfolio. Never an easy task to decide which works stay and which ones go and there's usually at least one thing I like about every image I create and one thing that demonstrates a different skill or technique I'm capable of. Originally my portfolio was only ever going to be around a dozen pieces, but my gallery layout allows for more without looking over the top so decided to populate it with some extra works.
Decided to remove this ninja girl commission I did back in 2013- seems a little basic compared to some of the more recent stuff I've been doing but still like the bold red background and the flower boarder, so maybe I'll use those elements in a new piece some time?
And I've added the following:
Harley Quin Fan art I did this year in Markers and Ink which I since sold to a customer in France. Plus a more monochromatic Skull/Wolf/Girl image I created for chrome/mirror prints (which can be ordered in the Shop) This one was done in Photoshop CC with my Wacom Cintiq tablet. That now makes 31 portfolio pieces.
Frequently Asked questions...
Sometimes it can get tiring re-writing the same answers to the same questions week after week despite answering on social media so often and the fact they they still come up all the time makes me suspect this post might go noticed also.
I don't want to appear ignorant, so will always courteously reply but I'm sure I'm not the only artist who's bored of answering things like "Can you draw me a picture of X?" and "How much do you charge for art?". I'll answer the questions with the same response I give to those who have asked in the past as well as comment (or perhaps moan is the right word? ha ha) on the question itself in italics.
How much do you charge?
I'm honoured to know you like my work enough to want to commission me. I will need to know exactly what you want created before I'm able to give a price. For example a pencil sketch of a head will take considerably less time and therefore cost less than illustrating an entire book or creating 6 months worth of video game assets. The Hire Me page on this site was created to answer this question and give customers an understanding of how to commission artwork from me.
Please appreciate this question gets handed to me at least once a week so can't help let out a sigh every time! Imagine asking a builder "how much do you charge?" to build a house. It could be inexpensive if you only want it for your kids to play in or dog to lay in, or it could cost tens of millions if it needs dozens bedrooms of and 20 bathrooms! Or what about walking into a restaurant and asking "how much do you charge?". There's going to be a big difference between a side salad and lobster dish, so surely most people would at least ask if they have a menu if not specifying, for example, "how much do you charge for a salad"?
I appreciate it might seem like a genuine query and perhaps wrong of me to expect the potential customer to consider an artist's services don't carry a single value e.g. £100. And, unlike a restaurant, a menu of prices is difficult to create when you're an artist like myself who posts/ advertises/ is able to create a wide range of different types of art. However it has become evident that the vast majority of potential customers asking little more than "how much do you charge?" aren't particularly serious about commissioning work to begin with and/or wouldn't be prepared to pay my prices anyway. The serious ones have already done the sensible thing of researching me on this site (perhaps arriving here via the link in my bio on social media sites) which can answer most preliminary questions before continuing to contact me. When clients write an introduction, a brief and specifics with politeness and etiquette I'll sit up and give the request the attention it deserves 🙂
What materials do you use?
Mostly Photoshop CC software with a Wacom Cintiq 27QHD graphics tablet. I'll occasionally use pencil, ink and markers for traditional work.
- I've likely already posted #photoshop and #cintiq in the description on social media art posts, yet people still ask on these posts what I use. I do wish people would pay more attention.
- I think a lot of people are looking for expert insider information with this one to help give them the edge, but does it really matter what I use? You can achieve similar results to most things I create with dozens of different software or traditional media, so much of the time it comes down to personal preference and my methods may not suit other people. It's strange that most other artists also list this as a most frequently asked question when there are so many other important or interesting questions that could be asked.
- I've written art tutorial books which discuss tools of the trade in far more depth than I can cover in a reply online, so better just to buy those- they're reasonably priced and not going to break the bank.
Can you draw me a picture for free?
Sorry. I'm too busy with work and commissions.
There's a few reasons why I wont do this:
- I feel it's disrespectful to ask an artist or any professional to work for free. It's like walking into a hairdressers and asking for a free haircut.
- Like most creatives, I have so many ideas for things I'd like to create that I don't have time or want to devote mental energy to focusing on someone else's project (unless compensated). I especially wouldn't have time if I'm spending vast amounts of my life drawing pictures for anyone who asks.
- Giving away freebies would be unfair to customers who have happily paid me to have artwork created for them in the past or will do in the future.
Does anyone ever actually say yes to this request? I would imagine every artist gets asked this question all the time and I'm sure we all face-palm every time.
How long have you been drawing?
I'm in my mid thirties so quite a long time. Read my Backstory for more info.
Can you give me some art tips?
I'd rather aspiring artists buy and read my How to Draw Manga books (in this site's Shop or via Amazon) which gives hundreds of tips. If you've read my books cover to back I guarantee you'll learn something new and anything needs more clarifying, let me know and I'm happy to help as much as I can.
I know everyone's looking for a free education, but sometimes putting your hand in your pocket and investing just a small amount in a tutorial book can be such a time saver. I also think if you've paid for information, you're more likely to take on board what's being said plus I'd feel happier to see people using what I teach in the books than me handing them some general advice on social media which wont stick or be sufficient to make people want to sit down, try a new technique and feel inspired to create.
Can you tell me how to become a pro artist?
I don't have a good answer to this one. Every artist will need to find their own way to success. I'm not deliberately trying to be vague, but it would be impossible for anyone to replicate what I did to established myself. Why? The internet was still in it's infancy when I started out. Opportunities to promote yourself online were quite different than they are today. Plus luck had a lot to do with it. For now I'd advise just working hard on improving your portfolio and skills, start small and work your way up. So far as Social Media goes, I will say, unless you're work is phenomenal, simply creating a Facbook page or other social media account and posting up art once a week isn't going to be enough to secure any work on it's own. You'll need to devote a lot of time and energy to marketing yourself and making others aware that you and your awesome, unique art exists. That might involve interacting with other people's content, liking, following, sharing and being a good online-citizen in hope of reciprocation, or finding a use for your services within communities you're involved with, both on and offline.
Thought I'd share a few pics of my current work space at my studio. It looks a little something like this.
I've got my trusty Lenovo Laptop to the left, and a Wacom Cintiq graphics tablet to my right which is attached to a Ergotron arm- this means I can keep the Cintiq in a floating position for general surfing and writing, then re-position and tilt it down onto on the desk. I have a custom large mouse mat for the desk to match the canvas I drew on the wall- the main reason is to stop the bottom of the tablet getting scratched or damaged on the desk when I push it in place. The black gel padded mouse mat supports my wrist.
I use 'Smudge guard 2' when working on the tablet to prevent smear and reduce friction and often wear a pair of crystal Gunnar glasses which provide a small degree of eye relief when staring at the screen all day.
Tech / Spec Summary:
- Lenovo Y500 15.6" Notebook:
- i7-3632QM 2.4GHz Processor
- 16GB 1600mhz DDR3 RAM
- NVIDIA GT650 Graphics
- 1x speedy 2TB Hard Drive for data, 1x 250GB Solid State Drive running Windows 10 Operating system
- An external 1TB 2.5" overflow drive for movies and less frequently used data, an external 5TB drive for backing up [Located at home]
- Ergotron LX Arm
- Cannon LiDE A4 scanner [Located at home]
- Epson Stylus 1500W A3+ Deskjet printer [Located at home]
- Wacom Cintiq 27QHD Touch Graphics Tablet
- Microsoft Wireless Mobile Mouse 6000
- Logitech 2.1 Speakers
- Additional Web Cam: Microsoft LifeCam HD-3000 [Not in photo]
- The mounted Microphone is a Samson C01U
My Laptop is now 4 years old, and I'd usually consider upgrading it after this amount of time, but I'm finding it hard to find something drastically better for an affordable price. Anyone use a Mac Book pro? I've seen a similar spec model to my current laptop, be it with a better resolution screen, but it's 3 times the price. I couldn't imagine the upgrade being worth it. I'll no-doubt stick with what I have for a few more years to come then reassess my options. As much as I hate Microsoft, I'm familiar with Windows OS on a pretty deep level, so will likely stick with it also. And does anyone own an A3 size scanner? I'd like one but they are so expensive compared to A4. Other than that I'm pretty content with my current set up.
If anyone wants a non-bias opinion on any aspect of the above tech or set-up, leave a message and I'll add a follow-up comment 🙂
This one was a commission of hip-hop mascot 'Dirteee'. Although pretty basic, I had an original reference design to work from, and the brief was basically to draw it in my own style. I like to mix my style up a lot- drawing semi-realistic comic characters one week, tattoo art the next, then going back to my manga roots after that. And even within the manga sub-genre, I vary styles from time to time 🙂
As always, starting with a sketch and then moving on to colours once the client approves the design:
If you'd be interested in commissioning me to create artwork of your character, a portrait, mascot etc, leave a message or contact me and I'll get back to you as soon as I can.
Here's some progress shots of my recent frog girl illustration. I originally shared these on my Instagram account. At first this was just going to be a grey + one neon colour marker-only piece, but decided to give it the full digital colour treatment also 🙂 Any preference on which version you prefer?
If you'd like to own it, I've added exclusive signed prints of the digital version to the site's Shop.
POD = Print on demand. A service that prints art and designs on products on an individual basis rather than batch printing in greater quantities.
Check out my 'Art theft and stealing images online' post if you've not done so already. I'm trying to make people aware of the fact that all of the artwork floating around on the web is property of the person who created it unless a license or rights transfer has taken place. Unless this is the case or permission has been given by the owner, such work should not be used for monetary gain by third parties.
However it does get used and I suspect more art is profited from illegally than legally and that's not something to be ignored! The internet as it stands is never going to be stopped. Perhaps in decades to come a block-chain style attachment to all digital content including images will come in to place whereby digital data can be traced to it's origins while leaving behind records of every time that data has changed hands, been bought/sold and so on? Such a system would at least prove ownership in disputes. And personally I don't have a problem with people printing off an image for their bedroom wall, using it in an online avatar or generally small-time, non-profit, personal or private use.
It's directly profiting from another person's efforts which I find so repulsive. It's something that these unscrupulous individuals or companies should not be allowed to get away with. Artists can take steps to help safeguard themselves by being aware of the issue and making sure to reduce the resolution of their files online or watermarking. The art they display might not look as pretty but it's an option.
Unfortunately I also know some artists who have a much more relaxed attitude this, and allow the occasional small-scale rip-off to take place, passing it off as an inevitable reality of sharing content on the internet. A top-tier professional, with an endless supply of high-paying assignments or commissions may be able to get away with looking the other way, or not feel triggered into doing anything about art theft, but the art game is tough and the last thing artists should want is to compete against their own stolen artwork and living in a world where this kind of thing is allowed to happen.
To quote Snazzygaz - a designer on DesignbyHumans (an online POD t-shirt store.):
"I’m not exaggerating when I say I believe almost every single listing on DBH and Redbubble has been scraped by what I believe to be an automated chinese operation and being applied to products there for sale on Aliexpress and the like and as a consequence listed against official listings on Amazon, as well as Spreadshirt and potentially more PODs.
These people are not only stealing straight from the artists but also the legitimate PODs like DBH by offering the “same” product much cheaper and with inferior quality on what looks to the average person like an official outlet via Amazon and the like, they’re taking money out of your hands by DIRECT sale and pushing inferior quality work which severely dampens the average public opinion about what the company offers.This is like the most criminal shit I’ve seen relating to copyright theft and counterfeiting and it’s absolutely insane."
There's a few of us that are aware of this issue, but unfortunately not enough and I feel both artists and authorized retailers of their art and designs do not take this issue at all seriously enough.
I contacted Society6 to see if there was anything to be done about my stolen artwork being used by online retailers-
"Hi there, I've found my artwork which I had submitted to Society6 having been taken without permission and sold by Chinese retailers via Aliexpress.com. Would you be able to assist in getting these products removed from Aliexpress?
Artwork in question: [Link to Artwork]
Instances of it being used without permission by sellers outside of Society6:
It's also been stolen by Hoodietime: [https://hoodietime.com/collections/dragon-ball-z-3d-hoodies/products/dragon-ball-super-z-super-saiyan-blue-tattoo-goku-hoodie-pullover-3d-hoodie].
I have contacted Hoodie time asking to remove it and still awaiting response.
I have submitted a report on each of the Aliexpress items, but was told there is not enough evidence that I created the work. I hoped that S6 would be taken more seriously than a single artist like myself.
"Hi Ben, Thank you for contacting Society6 Support. Unfortunately, Society6 has no legal standing in this matter. So we are unable to contact the websites in question.
As the copyright owner, it is your responsibility to contact the infringing party. We are unable to provide legal advice and recommend you seek counsel if this matter persists.
We are sorry we are unable to help any further. Thank you for your continued support.
S6 Legal Team"
I didn't expect help with this, but thought it was worth a shot and would at least make S6 aware of yet another instance that this practice is still taking place. The trouble with S6 for example is that they require high-resolution files for their products and don't protect the artwork used on these items (as of 2017). The art uploaded by artists and designers to POD sites should be automatically scaled down and watermarked making it harder to steal and make use of while keeping the original submitted clean, larger images stored offline and completely inaccessible to scrapers (people or systems which extract content from the net to then make use of). If POD sites aren't doing this then they should have a responsibility to help resolves these cases.
If I effectively licence a design to S6 and the design is stolen from S6, I would argue that theft was due to negligence on their part. And after-all, if for example 1000 S6 or DBH designs get scraped and added to shirts and sold elsewhere, S6 and DBH lose out too. More so, since they often take a larger cut then the designers.
I would guess that most (more than half, but possibly 90%+) products that display art and designs of which are sold on the internet (as well as comic conventions) are counterfeit, illegally unlicensed, infringing copyright or stolen from artists without permission.
The state of affairs regarding stolen artwork on the internet is ridiculous. An epidemic one person on their own, or even thousands together could never hope to even reduce by a tiny amount. To say this upsets me and to attempt to make people aware of what's going on here seems like a wasted effort while the sounds of a thousand virtual cash registers ring from the profits of stolen art every second of the day!
I don't even look for it, but I see it all around me. I often recognize my favourite artist's work being used on questionable products by relatively unknown online marketplace retailers and know a lot of the fan art and concept art I see isn't being licensed to certain low-grade knock-off merchandisers. Instead it's simply been saved off of the internet and slapped on top of a product...
And then it happened to me. I did a reverse image search on one of my works to find it for sale by three different Chinese retailers on Aliexpress and two other separate T-shirt and apparel stores! I'm attempting to get these works taken off, but it's not always easy. Stores often ignore or don't seem to take these kind of complaints seriously~ so long as they're making money and aren't getting an official 'cease and desist' letter through the post, they'll carry on profiting from a stolen work, while the original artist gets a zero percent share of the income it generates.
To help combat this in the future I've spent a few hours lowering the resolution of each image in my portfolio on this site. They should still look fine, but originally I was hoping to future-proof by posting larger sized images as screen resolutions continue to get bigger and that's something I won't do anymore. I've also applied watermarks to the bottom corners of selected works. The only trouble is, I can't stop people stealing 'without watermark' images I've already supplied added to my online 'print on demand' stores such as Society6 and DesignbyHumans 🙁
I appreciate that most buyers wont even consider there could be an issue with the items a shop has to sell, but I just ask that before you buy a print, t-shirt, mug, key-chain, etc, please do you best to find out if it's legit and make sure you're not lining the pockets of a thief. Buy from original creators or verify the products being sold are official and licensed. In the world of anime, comic and gaming merch it doesn't take too much practice to spot a fake from higher quality original.
Having a little clear out and decided I'd offer up some of my original A3 pencil and ink drawings for sale. Check out the shop to see what's available 🙂 I'm pricing them all reasonably inexpensive for now and can post them worldwide. Some are works featured in my How-To books such as Digital Manga, so you might recognize a few of the designs if you already own a copy of it.
I always think it's a good idea to hang on to originals to be able to look back on and have drawings dating back to 1993! At the same time, I thought I could spare a dozen or so and make room for newer work. Although these days I'm working purely digitally a lot of the time, so traditional work will always be limited. Let me know if you'd either be interested in commissioning me to produce original artwork or would like to see more original art sold on this site.
I'll be attending along with 100s of other artists at what looks to be the UK's biggest comic convention yet. I've got a 'comic village' table from Friday 28th of May until Sunday 29th, so anyone who'd like to drop by and say hello, buy a signed print or book is more than welcome. We can discuss potential commissions- this is something I'm happy to do after the con, as I like to put in more time, effort and a better level of finish than is achievable while I'm there throughout the day.
This will be the 12th UK Con attended so far. MCMs are difficult to get secure a table. Too many artists and not enough capacity I suppose, so while I'd like to also attend future MCMs at London, for example in October later this year, it's likely I'll be unable to get my booking sent off in time. I usually book within 5-60 minutes of the booking form going live, but even then there's no guarantee of getting a reservation secured, so we'll have to wait to see what happens.
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