Tips for Artists

A little over a year ago, Paul and I put out a call for artists for Red 5 Comics. We posted a notice on several comic websites and got a couple dozen responses. Then we posted a note on and We were shocked to receive over 1000 responses from artists. And we reviewed every single one. It felt like the comic book version of American Idol. I guess Paul’s the equivalent of Simon and I’m the equivalent of Randy (Dawg!). Or we’re both Paula. Either way….

We learned a lot in going through all those entries. I thought I’d share some of our lessons learned in hopes that they’ll help some of you guys out there snag some work in the future.

1. First off, make sure your website actually works. We clicked on many links to find they went to dead sites, they were the wrong URL, or they simply never loaded. When you’re reviewing 1000 competing artists, you don’t waste time with sites that never load. So make sure yours is working.

2. Make sure you actually have a website. A number of people e-mailed us looking for work, but didn’t have anything to show us except via snail mail. Since most correspondence was going to be online, we needed our artists to be able to show work on the internet.

3. Everyone wants to be a cover artist. The majority of entries are from people that want to be cover artists, but what we really needed was sequential artists, colorists, inkers, and letterers. If you really, really want to get work, I recommend you be one of the few, the proud, the colorists and inkers. Everyone wants to be the rock star and not the backup singer. It may be your chance to get a foot in the door.

4. If you want to do sequential art, actually show sequential art on your website. We had many people who showed fantastic artwork of a single character striking a heroic pose, but they didn’t show that they could tell a story with their art. Put as much sequential art up as you can!

5. If you can do a variety of styles, show it. Some guys (and gals) could do realistic paintings, caricatures, comic book art, and more. Their versatility in style shows they can handle anything we might throw at them. And try to draw something more than buxom heroines in spandex. As much as we here at Red 5 love them, not every comic can star Amazon warrior goddesses with a high center of gravity.

Those are the big lessons! Good luck out there and keep those entries coming in.

3 Responses to “Tips for Artists”

  1. Walt Robillard Says:

    I missed a open call…I guess I should have frequented the sites more!

    I love to do open calls but one of the things that I have noticed with most is that you will most often get a flash in the pan. Most people that you will net from a casting call are those with fortune and glory in their sights. The problem is that the fortune and glory is resting atop a hill and no one wants to do the climb to go for it. But like you said… everyone wants to be a rockstar…

    Looking forward to you guys making the big debut!

  2. Keith "Nar" Kappel Says:

    We haven’t actually ever done an open call for artists at fandom comics (probably because we don’t pay our artists), but I can relate to the problems/tips you suggest here. I have been extremely fortunate thus far in that I have been able to find great sequential artists (or those with the potential to be great sequential artists) by looking at pin-up pieces. Without putting TOO much of my own self-interest first, I will say that a good stepping stone is to find a site such as mine, where they are willing to work with guys with no sequential experience as long as they work for free. The deadlines are usually pretty lax, but it gives you a chance to work with a writer and draw from a script. This will give you a chance to grow as a storyteller and build a sequential portfolio. There are thousands of sites like mine hungry for young raw talent, if you are having trouble finding a paying gig, spending some time with a free sequential site might be your best move.

  3. Scott W. Says:

    I love Tip #5.

    Y’know, as obvious as a lot of this advise may seem, its all good. And its all ignored at one point or another by many artists just starting out.

    I’ve only participated in one or two open casting calls. Its intimidating because you will be trying to stand out from hundreds of other artists. Having an on-line portfolio that looks good, is easy to navigate, and shows a variety of work and styles is a MUST.

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