Blog

We are getting closer to laying out the portfolio, but first I want to dedicate an entry to other basic elements that we need to decide before starting to lay out: composition, typography and color.

Remember that designing is an act of conscious creation, that is, before we start working we think about what we want to communicate and what is the best way to do it. Contrary to popular belief, designing is more about making decisions based on prior knowledge than expressing what we feel without thinking about it twice.

A note: Due to the size of the entries in this blog and as not to bore you, I will only briefly mention these elements. If you are interested in me making another more detailed entry on any of these topics, please tell me and I’ll gladly prepare it!

Back to what I was saying: in our case, what is most important are the illustrations, so we will choose a graphic style that adapts and accompanies them. Again, there isn’t one correct way to do it, but we will have to see what best suits each case.

Composition: you should treat the pages of the portfolio as if they were an illustration or a series of illustrations: apply the same principles of visual hierarchy (highlight the main elements), contrast, order, visual weight, space, rhythm…

Typography: Typography is very complex and rich and I am not going to get into it much because I am not an expert in this field. If you are interested in knowing more I can leave you some resources about typography later, but for now it is enough to know a series of basic rules:

  • Legibility: VERY important, we must be able to read the texts well, be careful with fantasy typefaces.
  • Sizes: the same principle. If you are not sure how it will be read once it is printed, one way to do it is to print a few pages (in a home printer or in a copy shop) and thus you make sure that it will read well. A high contrast between the titles and body text will give interest to the page.
  • Combination of fonts: the ideal is to use one or two fonts at most. When choosing, we must combine two fonts that are quite different to generate contrast, the classic example is one with serif and one without. Fonts with many bodies (light, book, medium, bold, condensed, extrabold, black …) give extra versatility.

  • Where to find fonts: Typically, people look on Dafont or 101fonts, which are free font directories. Be careful with this: many of them are free tests and do not have all the necessary characters (for example, the accents or exclamation points). I recommend researching on design websites and blogs and see how they use typography and which one may work best for you.

 

Colors: You can do whatever you want as long as it makes sense. For example, if you want to give an image of sobriety or elegance you can use black and white. If instead your illustrations are kawaii and colorful, you can use bright colors (remember that what should stand out are the illustrations, the layout accompanies but does not dominate). A reduced and harmonious color palette is always a good option.

Now I know that there are many things to assimilate but I firmly believe that it is worth researching and learning a little about design. You don’t have to be an expert, but having some basic knowledge will help you in your life as an illustrator. Regarding the portfolio, I think that pausing a moment to think before starting will help you a lot to know what you want to do and to do it with more confidence. It is not a matter of design done right or wrong, but of design serving  its purpose and expressing well what you want it to express.

Bonus tip: on a personal level, I think that when in doubt it is better to go for a simple design. If you don’t feel very confident with your level of knowledge of graphic design, making it simple will make your task easier and it will look its best. In the end, the strength has to be in the illustrations and that is what we have to highlight.

And so far today’s post, did you find the content useful? Would you like me to share some resources on graphic design, typography, composition, color, etc. around here or on my social media? We can comment on it on Instagram , Twitter y LinkedIn

Once we have learned about the world of illustration and the specific sector we want to target, it is time to curate the content of our portfolio. And that’s when the first questions come to us: what do I include? How many images do I show of each project? Do I make a digital or a paper portfolio? Do I add text?

Many of these factors will depend on the sector you are targeting, for example:

  • If you want to work illustrating books you should have a digital and a physical portfolio, (if you have any published work it is better that you take it to the meetings too). If we present a more finished product to the editor he or she will decide more easily if he or she wants to publish our work.
  • If you want to work in illustration for digital media (for example, apps), it’s best if younhave a digital portfolio.
  • If you want to focus on product illustration, it always helps to include mock-ups (I will make a post about those later on) or models of how the finished illustration will look on the product.

The idea is that you present your work in a way that it’s closest to how it will be reproduced and  as finished as possible. Look at it from the client’s point of view and think if he or she will understand your portfolio and if it will be a useful tool to decide if they are interested in your services.

There is nothing established about the quantity of images, but there is a golden rule: quality is better than quantity. It is better to show a few illustrations that stand out and are really good than to show a lot of mediocre work or one that doesn’t represent your style. The usual is between 10 and 15 illustrations. Bonus tip: do series! Presenting several illustrations on the same topic (for example, several book covers for a collection or some designs for juice bottles of different flavors), this will demonstrate that you have a consistent style and you can translate it into different set illustrations.

Finally and to make this task easier, get organized! It is important that when preparing or updating your portfolio you can easily access the images that you are going to include. That is why it will make your life much easier to have a well-ordered folder system (per year, per customer, per sector …) on your computer. In my case I have it per year and per customer. Another thing I do is, once finished, export the illustration in various formats: in CMYK in high resolution for printing and for the portfolio on paper, in RGB in high resolution for the digital portfolio and in RGB in medium / low resolution for my website or for social media (and in a format that fits them). I also name the files so it’s easy to tell them apart. So, when I look for the image for any use, I don’t have to reopen it and resize it; it is more efficient.

With all this information it is time to choose which projects we will add to the portfolio, how many images per project, whether we will do it a digital or paper portfolio, or both, what format and size works best for us and what approximate number of pages it will have. Also to order the files to have them ready for later.

And that’s it for today, what questions have popped on your mind before starting to lay out your portfolio? Are you having trouble keeping it updated? Tell me all about it in the comments and on my social media! You can find me on Instagram , Twitter and LinkedIn

As I have mentioned before, as well as being an illustrator I am a graphic designer. They are two professions that go hand in hand, and having a basic knowledge of graphic design will help us as illustrators. That is why I want to make a series of posts on this blog with some tutorials and tips that will help us improve our image and the way we present our illustrations.

One of the main ways to present ourselves professionally as illustrators is the portfolio. Although nowadays we have digital platforms to show our work online (Instagram, Behance or Domestika, for example) I think it is important to have a selection of our work in a portfolio, physical or digital. And if it is well designed, polished and has a good presentation, so much the better.

Before starting to lay out, we must sit and think (I usually do this with a notebook to take notes and with access to the internet for research). And that’s because before starting our portfolio we need to decide a number of things, for example:

  • What specific sector of illustration do I want to aim to?
  • What do I do best? What do I have to improve?
  • Which commissions have I made for clients and really enjoyed?
  • Which projects define me best as an illustrator?
  • Do I have a unique style? Is it important to have it in my sector?

Based on this we will decide which way to go and choose which illustrations we include in our portfolio, in what order and if we have enough or need to do something new. For example: if I like editorial and product illustration, I will make two different portfolios focused on each sector (or at least I will separate them very clearly).

I know this requires a lot of information and knowledge about our profession, and there is no correct way to do things (every potential client has his own way of working and will look for something different in our portfolio), but we can get a little closer if we know the specifics of the sector we are targeting.

I am not going to explain much more about this since my experience is limited and specific, but I recommend that you follow other illustration professionals to learn more: read their blogs, follow their YouTube channels, listen to their podcasts, look for books on illustration, design, entrepreneurship and creativity … it all helps! And what I love about this profession it is that illustrators very often share their experiences and help each other.

I am going to recommend some resources that I follow and that have helped me a lot:

  • Ilustrando dudas (in Spanish): on this website, Io Bru is dedicated to collect ALL the information available on the world of illustration, curating it and offering it in a clear and understandable way. She has several articles on the portfolio and also offers online mentoring sessions – a gem!
  • El club del dibujo (in Spanish) in this podcast, the illustrator Andrés Sanchís tells us about his experiences as an illustration professional and has in each episode other professionals as guests who talk about specific topics, very interesting and also entertaining! Since it’s a podcast, it is ideal to listen to while we draw.
  • Frannerd’s YouTube channel: In this channel, illustrator Fran Meneses tells us about her daily life as an illustrator, her favorite materials and also about the daily problems of the freelance. In addition, she usually uploads great comics to her social networks so I recommend you follow her there too.

These are only three resources, there are a million more out there but I didn’t want this entry to become eternal, if you are interested in learning about other resources on the world of illustration and design, comment or write to me via email or on my social networks and I will prepare a post on the subject.

As always, I appreciate the feedback! I’m on Instagram , Twitter and LinkedIn

Almost without noticing it, summer has arrived. As this year I cannot afford to go on vacation, I have thought of escaping through my sketchbook.

I have a complicated relationship with my sketchbook, on the one hand I love the idea but on the other hand I have a hard time drawing when it is not for work, since I have this idea of ​​associating my value as a professional with constant productivity. And that’s a problem, especially in creative professions where it’s important to let your mind rest every now and then to work better.

Also, 99% of my work as an illustrator is digital, but the truth is that there is nothing more relaxing than feeling the texture of the paper and fiddling with colored pencils, watercolors, markers, ink … there is a kind of freedom in assuming and accepting that a wrong line can ruin completely change the drawing, and that if that happens it’s not the end of the world either.

So, in summary, for both mental health and for fun I am going to try to force myself to rest and spend time on my sketchbook, and making these videos can be the perfect excuse.

If you like relaxing lo-fi music and watching other people draw, this video is perfect for you:

 

 

As always, you can find me on social media: Instagram , Twitter and LinkedIn

Hi! Another month has passed and I bring you a new blog post. Today I will talk about selling illustrated products online.

Most illustrators, at some point on our way, think about selling products with our illustrations, either at fairs and markets or on online stores. And it’s not a crazy idea, but there are certain things you should keep in mind before doing so.

The truth is that running an online store is a full job in itself. To make it work you must spend time designing the products, ordering them from suppliers, keeping control of the stock, creating, maintaining and updating the store, creating quality descriptions and photos of the products, doing some marketing, managing shipments, attending customer requests, designing the packaging … it is a lot!

In my case, I enjoy all those tasks and I also love illustration and product design, so I ended up opening an online store anyway.

 

Showing good photos, mock-ups and nice compositions will help you make your products stand out

 

But let’s get into it: I’m going to tell you a little about online stores. If you decide to sell products with your illustrations online, you have three options:

  • Create your own e-commerce: this option is the most expensive in terms of effort and money. Creating and maintaining your own website is more difficult and expensive than advertising your products on an external platform, and it will be harder for customers to find you. I would not recommend this option unless you already have a high sales volume that justifies it.
  • A platform with external production: platforms like Redbubble or Society6 allow you to upload your designs and they print them on demand (this means that when they sell a product they print and ship it). In return, you receive a percentage of the sale. This option works great if you don’t want to spend time managing a store, buying products, shipping… in exchange, the product options available are limited.
  • A platform with your own production: such as Etsy or Bigcartel. You have a platform that makes it easy to upload your products and in which there are already many registered users who can find them. However, you manage your stock level, what products and finishes you want to use, and manage the shipping and packaging … it is more personalized and, as you do most of the work, the platform takes a lower percentage of the order.

 

For me, the best option right now is Etsy. Etsy is a platform designed for small craft businesses and works globally.

The advantages over other platforms are:

  • Best prices: € 0.20 per ad every 4 months and 5% of each order (it may be more if the customer uses Etsy Payments to pay, but this also allows us to accept many different payment methods so it benefits us in the end).
  • Large volume of users, it is the most used platform to buy handmade and vintage items.
  • Easy and quick to set up, you can upload your ads and configure your store in a matter of minutes.

Now, they don’t pay me to write this. Actually, I started on Etsy a few years ago, I closed and switched to another platform, but finally I have ended up going back because I consider it to be the best option available right now.

 

You can see my shop at https://www.etsy.com/shop/wendymontasell

 

At this point I had planned to prepare a video tour of my Etsy store in which I was going to tell you in more detail which products I have and how I prepare orders, but due to technical problems with my computer it was impossible for me to finish it and you will have to wait a little longer. However, I can show you this brief intro that I have in the store:

This is a big topic so I can dedicate another post to it if you are interested, but for now I leave you with some basic tips:

  • Your products will not sell on their own. You already upload your illustrations to Instagram from time to time, why not take the opportunity to advertise your store? Start with your friends and family, advertise in Facebook groups or in your coworkers WhatsApp group. Let others know that your store is active and full of amazing products.
  • Take care of the packaging. A beautiful package will make the customers feel like they are opening a gift and they will open it with much more enthusiasm. If you use eco-friendly packaging, advertise it too! That will give added value to your store.
  • Be original! Your audience is made up of people who prefer artisan products that they can’t find elsewhere, so trust your creativity and surprise them.
  • Do not despair. Running an online store requires time, patience, effort and some money. We live in a very competitive world and the market is saturated with options, so do not worry if you don’t sell everything right away, you will start getting orders if you keep going.
  • Ask for feedback. This will help you on one hand to improve your store and your products, and on the other hand potential customers will trust you more if they see that other buyers have left good reviews.

And this is all for today, did you find it interesting? Do you have an online store or were you planning on opening one? What difficulties and joys has it given you? Comment on my profiles: Instagram , Twitter y LinkedIn

Hi!

As I said at the beginning, I will publish only once a month, but recently I decided to try shrink paper and, as it was, I have made a video on the subject.

Here you have it (my videos are in Spanish since it’s more natural for me to speak in this language. Nevertheless, I’m working on learning how to add subtitles so English speakers can understand it too):

My final impressions are:

PRO

  • You can make different models from 1 unit, which is great for small online businesses.
  • You choose the finish, size … it gives many possibilities.
  • It is cheap and fun to use.

CON

  • The bad part of the craft process is that it is time consuming, if you need many units I recommend that you order other types of pins.
  • There is always the possibility of mistakes.

Ans that’s that! Did you enjoy it? Is there anything els you’d like to know about this product? Would you like me to test another material? I’m all eyes and ears on Instagram , Twitter and LinkedIn

And if you liked the pins and want to purchase one, check out my Etsy shop.

When I asked on Instagram about which content should I upload to the blog, one of the first questions was about my working method, so today I am going to show you how I make an illustration from the idea to the final result.

I must say that the process varies a bit depending on whether the illustration is for me or for a commission, for the online store or for Instagram. The approach is different although the method is similar. I am going to use as an example an image that will become a print to sell in my Etsy store and I will do it with Procreate.

As you may have already noticed, my work in many cases is 100% digital. I like to work with ink and sometimes with watercolor but in the end I chose the practicality, speed and versatility that digital illustration offers. My main working tools are:

  • A pretty old and trotted Macbook pro
  • A wacom bamboo that I bought second hand many years ago
  • An iPad with apple pencil
  • Software: Adobe Photoshop on the laptop and Procreate on the iPad

I used to make sketches in pencil on a sketchpad, but now I do them directly in digital because that allows me to do, undo, scale, copy, discard and redo sketches much faster. Sometimes I even make the sketch digitally, I print it, then trace it and make the final illustration by hand with ink.

It has been a bit hard for me because I don’t particularly like being on camera, but I have managed to make a video to better show you the process (it is in Spanish, you can try the automate subtitles, sorry!):

Anyways this is my personal process, each artist has his or her own way of working and they all have their personal touch! Is your drawing process similar? Do you work in different ways? Tell me everything about it on instagram or twitter! ✨

First of all, I want to clarify one thing: doing nothing is a perfectly legitimate way to spend time. Having fun (by playing video games, browsing Instagram stories or watching The Simpsons chapters you know by heart) is not a waste of time.

I deal with the anxiety of the quarantine by being busy, by learning and working (especially drawing) all the time, but that does not mean that this is the way to go. Each one relaxes in its own way and all the options are correct, so choose how you want to spend your time and don’t feel guilty for doing either too little or too much.

That being said, here are some of the things I’ve done these days:

Domestika courses

It’s always nice to learn a new skill, and for those who don’t have time to enroll in long courses or attend classes, Domestika courses are a lifesaver. I have completed a pair of courses that I bought months ago but had not been able to start. Now, they have also opened a section of free courses to watch during the quarantine and there is something for everyone. Highly recommended!

Catch up on the to-read book pile

Honestly, it was hard for me to focus at first, but since I am really stubborn I didn’t give up and in the end I made some progress. Another fun idea? Buy the same book (or ebook) with your group of friends and then discuss it with them as you go along. Another option are audiobooks, but I cannot comment much on the subject since I have not yet tried them.

Create just for fun

I’m learning to separate drawing for work from drawing for myself. One way is to use techniques that I don’t normally use or that I haven’t used for a long time, like ink or watercolors. Another way is to change places (for example, drawing on the terrace or in the dining room instead of doing it on the usual workspace) and reward yourself with a cup of tea or some cookies, with music or with a movie to make it more festive. Bonus tip: any chapter of RuPaul’s Drag Race will cheer you up.

In this case, I updated an illustration from years ago with to my current style.

Take care of yourself and your home

It may seem silly but cleaning, tidying up the workspace or the cabinets, cooking more elaborate dishes, taking a long bath or any similar activity makes my mind feel that everything is a little more “in order” and relax. If you live with someone, taking care of them (and letting them take care of you) also makes you feel good, it is a win-win situation.

Work as if my life depended on it

This is probably the least healthy thing I have done these days, but as I said at the beginning I need to be busy with something all the time, and while I am drawing I have less mental space to worry about abstract things. That is precisely why I have tried to alternate work with the previous activities, with light exercise and with quite a few video calls.

I created new illustrated banners for my social networks on the first days.

In short, I haven’t had time to get bored! Again, these are some of the things that have helped me on a personal level. And you? How have you been during the quarantine? Have you learnt new skills, worked hard, or spent time on that much-deserved rest? Tell me on instagram or twitter!

How could I ever imagine that, when I first started thinking of writing this blog, that I would write the very first entries while being stuck at home in the middle of a global pandemic. Because the situation is pretty weird right now.

And I know as an illustrator that the greater part of my routine is still working from home and in isolation (luckily this has favored me having a designated space for work and to relax after the workday is finished), but still I’m suffering the fact that I’m not able to go for a walk, that I’m seeing the spring pass by on the outside through the window, the lack of human contact and the constant worrying for my friends and relatives, the anxiety that all this produces…

And that’s why I have decided to share something with you to help relieve this stress by doing what I do best: drawing. In the link below you can download for free two coloring sheets with illustrations. I’ve tried to add a bit of humor so we can have fun by coloring them.

Download the files

 

In other news, I have opened a Ko-Fi account

Ko-Fi is a crowdfunding site in which you can help several artist by small donations (or coffees). It’s easy, quick and it helps us keep creating and, more importantly, to do so with a smile on our faces.

You can help me out here

Hello world!

 

Welcome to my first personal blog

I know this all blogging stuff is a little old-fashioned now, but I have always wanted to write one, and now that I have set my mind to become an illustrator I have decided to start writing as well.

To be honest, I have never been able to keep a diary for much long, but this time I’m decided to succeed! As Jake the dog says, Dude, suckin’ at something is the first step to being sorta good at something.

 

So, what will you find in this blog?

I will write once a month (for now) about illustration, comics, design… I’ll give my humble opinion and share some tips about this subjects.

I will also talk about the latest projects I’m working on, show you part of the creative process behind my illustrations and the new products I’ll be uploading in my online store.

If you want to know a little more about me, here’s my social media networks:

Instagram    Twitter    LinkedIn