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Work Related : Some Tips for New Illustrators

As a local illustrator, I hate to accept that most local clients/publishers are putting such a low-fees/budget/price on illustration works. And because I wanted to help the industry, I usually agree on the pricing even though I know that I'm also jeopardizing the small illustrator's industry as well. I wish they know that I actually put much higher service fees to other international clients - as my time and effort worth. And the reason I agree to work with the local industry is just because I wanted to help and be a part of the growing industry itself. 

But sometimes it is just not worth my time and effort.
Sometimes I am just so frustrated T^T

Here are some notes for budding illustrators :

Don't let them give the price of your work - it will demotivate you.
  • Ask them their budget on each illustration or spend the time for the illustration with the same amount of budget they have stated before agreeing to the project.
  • Or, give your service charge in advance : per illustration/per project/per day/per hour so they will know upfront.
  • Please don't let them give the price for your work, you are no longer a student waiting for the teacher to grade you. You are adding values to their project, appreciate your time and effort. You decide your price or they decide their budget.

Before agreeing to a project - make everything clear.
  • What they want? Which style - vector? hand-drawn? 
  • Rough price for each illustration - simple items, complicated item, full poster, icon
  • Make sure both sides agree on it
  • Send them an invoice 
  • Start working

Set timeline - try to follow the timeline 
  • If you need more time, tell them
  • If you can't submit in time, tell them
  • If you can't no longer listen to their never-ending amendments, tell them
  • If you think you are not up for it, tell them
  • This is a field that need your most contribution and creative ideas, if you are not fully up for it - I can't imagine how your artwork will turn up. So don't be afraid to reject a project, or a client.

Your client is not always right - even how professional you are trying to be.
  • I know they are paying you, but if your instinct is saying that they are evil - don't work with them. Ha.
  • People who are paying you to work with you is not your boss. Imagine them as a working partner. You want to feel full-filled and proud after you finish a project, because those works are your babies - and you are passing your babies to your clients and they will grow up together. So your clients are not your bosses - make sure you work with the right people.
  • I met super-manipulative evil clients before. So I'm picky nowadays.

Know the price, know your price.
  • Basic way if you don't know how to name your service price. Your basic monthly salary, divide by your working days, you'll get your daily salary. So there you'll get the basic salary for your 8-hour working time - don't let it go lower than that.
  • Research, experiment on several projects with various clients, you'll get the rough idea on how the local pricing goes here. 
  • It really not worth it - trust me, I'm doing this just for passion and charity - to help the industry and to learn. Don't be an illustrator working for local clients - work your way up, and soon you'll work with clients worth your time and effort. 
  • My cheapest fees I got was RM 12 per illustration, my highest fees I got for a full illustration was RM 12,000. So, yes, work yourself up and choose your clients.

Note : Most local clients will have a REALLY low budget, don't expect an easy life out of it. They will negotiate to get a lower and lower price than you should get paid. And you will feel devalued and under-appreciated. If they are really on a tight budget, you can suggest them to download images from Freepik or subsribe to Shutterstock, by doing that they can't demotivated your burning passion and waste your time.

Or if it is not for money, just do it for your passion and you know that it will make you feel fulfilled afterwards. You know they are using you anyway, make sure you'll have a fun time while doing the project and you will feel proud and want to post it in your Behance and Dribbble later - if not then it is actually not worth your time :D

Work Related : Old Navy Poster

I subscribed to Adobe CC for a year, so I got to use Adobe Portfolio. Tried it and kinda like the whole clean curated look of my online portfolio. All images are not auto-compressed like in Behance *even though they are in the same engine - images posted in my portfolios are images uploaded in my Behance, but they are all clean and crisp :F Compared to images I posted in Blogger, Pinterest, Dribbble and Behance - at least these uploaded images aren't auto-compressed by the engine. I'm super grateful. So you can see all my shared works there, none tiny-bit-blurry caused by auto-compression. *you have no idea how this issue disturbed me for a long while back :F


Note : All works now belong to Old Navy.

My last client before I started working full-time again was Old Navy. The Old Navy. I worked on this project for 2 months, since right after Eid until August 2016. 

This was considered as my first 'big' international client eveeeeer and I was super excited and nervous and everything in between. I took so much time to finish up the project even though I was working as a freelancer for full-time. I want to indirectly thank my art director for the project, Mr Jonathan for helping me and being super patient with the whole slowpoke process T^T

I even took 2-3 weeks for for the research, moodboard and first rough sketches. I don't know how other illustrators work, but I know I did take a long time than the intended timeframe they gave me. But I loved it, I love the whole process T^T It was like I finally been paid for my time and effort to make something that I really-really like in my own style and colours T^T 


Here are some of other cities' poster made by other illustrators from all over the world. The Malaysia poster was done by Big Mouth - I'm his super faaaaaan, I contacted him to ask for the formal forms that I need to filled in :D 


My poster was definitely wayyy different than all other posters because I chose to do in hard-line stroke for all the vectors when almost all other illustrators didn't use any strokes at all. But I took the chance. Mine looked different, but definitely my strokes - for anyone who've come to recognize it lah, I looked at it and it looked like my work. And I'm proud of it *at least while I'm writing this, I feel proud of it, who know 2 years from now I want to delete the work because it looked super ugly by that time kan.

Here are my first draft sketches :

My strongest feeling is the 4th sketch, and thank God he agreed with me too. So I came out with the version 2 of the 4th sketch. The detailing, the planning on what to draw, the size of the paper that need to resemble the poster size - so using a squared paper in my Muji planner was very-very useful. I came out with this :


To digitize it took few more weeks, and to finalize it took more and more weeks :F I had some problems with the colour mixture and the text wording of "Indonesia" and "Old Navy". They gave me a branding guide, so I had to follow their colour guide.  See how many revised files I have in my hard-drive :D 


We finally decided on huge blocky word for "Indonesia" and main colour : red to represent their national colour. The wording was customized a bit to make it looked like it came from the same person. Ditto the word "Old Navy" in a bubble surrounded by one of their national flower :


So that's the story of my first 2016 international client :D 

Rejected version :


Note : Best kaaaaan. Do you want to be an illustrator now? :D

Work Related : Japanese Foods & Drinks Sticker Packs

Here are some of my stickers from my previous trip to Tokiyo that I printed out for my Public Garden, Singapore event a few weeks ago. I've been keeping these for almost a year now :F I used these stickers in my personal travelogue for the trip. Sooo nice that I can draw and make my own stickers for my own syok-sendiri travel journal kan :D

These are my favorite items while we were in Tokiyo - like our first day early morning breakfast when we first learned how to use the vending machine at the airport (I remember the blue morning, cold breezy rain and both of us sitting at the deck waiting for morning light) , or our random juices like Coconut water that doesn't taste like coconut at all - more like a sweetened water that we bought at our first park when we were lost in the city while searching for the nearest Daiso we saw in the map, or our daily breakfast drinks throughout the trip, or lots and lots of Onigiris. 


All ready and packed for next events in November (I signed up for Junk-ed Makers' Market and Etsy Made Local). Also selling these sticker packs  in my Etsy.


Books : Scandal, Boring Fictions and More Books

I think I took around 3 weeks with iFlix to finish up all 4 seasons of 'Scandal' by Shonda Rhimes. 

I never thought I would enjoy politic/mystery/thriller series these days :F Look how grown-up I am now, I no longer have any patient to watch superpower/fantasy/sci-fiction series or even movies. I've been living in my own world for almost 30 years, now I'm just starting to catch up on the world's issue :F Just because I feel intrigued to know.

I did try to watch Once and The Magician over the weekend, both attempts failed. I sat there watching the series, did somethings else at the same time, and forgetting that I was watching the series. When did I became too hard to be impressed by fictions?

Note : Also watched Miss Peregrine's & the Peculiar Children last weekend with my family when we were celebrating Ma's birthday and I didn't like it :F I'm so sad.


I listened to Nicholas Sparks' audio book - The Wedding last week, it took 3 working days. The book is a sequel to the famous 'The Notebook" - featuring non-other-than Ryan Gosling as Noah and Rachel McAdams as Allie, that once brought me to tears. But the sequel was boring :F It was about an old couple that was about to celebrate their 30 years of marriage, they were Noah & Allie's daughter. They were having relationship difficulties, lost it's 'sparks' after so many years of being together. Compared to all the drama and emotional rollercoaster that Jodi Picoult can write in her books, Nicholas Sparks lost all his 'sparks' to me a long time ago :F
I no longer feel his writing worth my time. This too, saddens me.
Also another 2 additions in my weekly audio books are Roald Dahl's books : "Danny, the champion of the world" and "Charlie & the Chocolate Factory" - all in one working day, because the stories weren't that long. I loooove Roald's books, currently listening to "Matilda" - with the story-telling version from Kate Winslet. I personally suggest all parents to read-along Roald Dahl's books with your children. I'm reading the ones that I never read before and re-reading the old ones.


While on physical books, I managed to finish reading "The Life of a Stupid Man" by Ryunosuke Akutagawa. Personally loved the first short story he wrote in the beginning of the book. I didn't know him as a writer, I just bought the Penguin book that costed RM 6 and the book was small and light enough to always be in my bag for emergency reading time.

Read this and I found out that he killed himself at 35, before publishing the book with 51 tiny stories, some were as short as in one-paragraph and a bit confusing. He was having a depression :( Here are some of his quotes :
He wanted to live life so intensely that he could die at any moment without regrets.
Do I still love this woman? he asked himself. He was in the habit of observing himself so closely that the answer came as a surprise to him: I do.
Currently reading "Chronicle of a Death Foretold" by Gabriel Garcia Marquez & still on "The Graveyard Boy" by Neil Gaiman because I left it in the car.
Note : I'm catching up to finish my 29 books-goal for this year :F

Run : The Fitness Story in a Year, July - Oct 2016

The first half of 2016 can be read here.
This is the second half of the fitness story for this year :

July :
  • Total run : 5.5 km
  • Goal update : 194/250km
  • Super lazy + busy month.


August :
  • Total run : 50 km
  • Goal update : 200/250km
  • We trained for the up-hill track because our 10km trail run in Bromo was getting near. We went to Bukit Jalil park, Bukit Komanwel Park, and Putrajaya for our training during the weekend. Sometimes we went to the gym when we can't go out running. 


September :
  • Current total run : 37.5 km
  • Total walk : 3 km
  • Goal update : 250/250km - completed !
  • New running goal : 365km by 31st December 2016
  • Bromo Marathon 2016 - Af and I entered the Bromo 10km Run, read here for the full story.
  • I just bought a new running shoe from Power : Play On at Bata after I got back from Indonesia. The old one has been over-worn, it's time for a new running shoes. I've been using Power since I first started running in 2013. The second shoe lasted almost around 600km of running + jogging, for the past 2-3 years without any injuries. Even though it was cheaper than most famous running shoes, for me, these shoes are the best running shoes that I've used. Personally I feel that what matters is a workable shoes for my running sessions. For less than RM 70, I can run for 2 more years. I believe that anyone can run, using how much they afford to spend, be it Power shoes, be it second-hand running shoes from pasar malam, be it hand-down shoes from your siblings. Those famous brands they printed outside of the shoes doesn't represent anything in your runs, so don't ever feel bad or ashamed of what's there on your body because none of the materialistic items represent who you are. Remember, that the early marathoners in those old days never wear any running shoes or fancy equipments. So you can just use what's enough for you :) 
  • Since I can no longer use my iPhone for running tracking because my iPhone is getting older and not-so battery efficient. I bought a pedometer to track my running distance and Casio watch to track the time. I'm pretty sure I won't be buying any smartwatch anytime soon in my life, except if one day they will make a kiddy-size watch for my super-small wrist. So I opted for a small size digital watch like the ones I wore in high-school. 
  • Bought the pedometer before I went to Indonesia, it worked like magic, stopped when it needed to, activated again when I continue running/walking. Pedometer is an old-technology, so anyone can get it, it's quite cheap. It tracks the distance, the steps, and the calories burned. I've always wanted to buy it since I first started running. Only less then RM 20. We are now best-friends :  
  • I also signed up for my first half-marathon this October - seeing that I run 10km by myself in most of my weekly training, I think I can try to upgrade my running length. Training starts already, I have 2 months to go. I have to train for more than 10km runs from now on. Managed to ask my brother to join the event as well, for moral support. I might need it. 

October :
  • Current total run : 37.3 km, 
  • Total walk : 10.5 km 
  • Goal update : 299.7 / 365 km
  • I already started my training - a bit late, because I was having vertigo and rested for a week. I'm trying to go running at least 3 times per week. 

November :
  • Putrajaya Night Marathon - I signed up for my first 21 km - half marathon