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Thread: Fear of work?

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    Fear of work?

    Seeing as how there are potential employers posting here this may not be the smartest post I've made, but I'm not doing a lot of smart things these days anyhow. The following may not make sense...

    When I get commissioned for a single image I'm usually fine. I can spend my time on it and get it done. When it comes to large amounts of small images however... I freak out. I don't know how to explain it, but it's something that been with me for a while now: my art is almost always hit-or-miss. I feel that the good stuff only comes about by chance. When I'm asked to do a number of images (especially when they're at a low price) I get really antsy about it all. If in the first 20 stroked of the pen what I'm making doesn't turn out, I feel like quitting already.

    It wouldn't be so bad if I was somehow consistent, but I feel like I can't really DRAW anything EVER, that all my art is is the leftovers of my sifting through countless small failures. I'm never quick about my art, and I always feel that I'm lazy. My larger pieces all have taken at least a week or two to finish. The I start thinking "well if I have to keep doing this over and over until it fits, it's going to take too long! if it takes too long then it's not worth the money I'm being paid! if it's not worth the money I'm being paid I should quit!"

    The problem extends to pretty much everything. It's to the point where I tell myself that a simple figure with some armor is an impossible image to create, so don't bother...

    So what the fuck do I do? I like making art, but apparently I hate working with it. And yes I know it's another bitchy post (not sure if one's been made about this particular problem) but I mean... this isn't some simple anxiety or lack of inspiration I'm talking about, I'm pretty much wondering if I really want to work in illustration at all anymore, because I'm apparently an oversensitive bitch about it all.

    So I guess a clear question so this isn't just a rant: anyone ever feel like this, anyone recommend anything?

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    If you keep having a pessimistic attitude. Your going to develop it that, and your going to dig yourself into a deeper hole, which will be harder to crawl out of.

    Sometimes, I take a small breather to restore my confidence.

    Maybe you can increase your rates, see if that motivates you.

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    "Feel the fear and do it anyway."

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    I recommend you read the book "Neurosis and Human Growth" by Karen Horney.

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    I think you should take a step back and look critically at your situation. I know that money is important and you obviously have a desire to make an attempt at an illustration career. However, if you don't have the confidence to stand by your work (good or bad) perhaps you need to focus on developing your skills to a more professional level. Maybe it would be a good idea to hold off on freelance for a short time and really examine the things that make you uncomfortable. Taking some time to focus on your weak spots is a way of investing in your future career. It may not feel very good and you may think that the resulting art is crap, but you will learn much more and develop more quickly if you continue to challenge yourself.

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    Sounds like your main worry is long hours for low pay. If you're happier with spending time to make a finished work for money you consider fair; run with it.
    Maybe I'm reading this wrong, but it sounds to me as though you're trying to produce work for a pittance at a quality that would demand a higher price. Nobody can cram a 40 hour work into 4 hours; so don't try.

    High stress for cents? Not worth it!

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    hmm u sound like me... i feel im inconsistent and once in awhile get lucky and do a good drawing...

    I use to take really long to draw because of how much corrections and thinking i have to do... nowadays if i dont finish something in 3 days its trashed and start on something else!

    all i can say is... learn from the good ones u did?

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    Yeah... if you have issues with more than one image at a time, I don't think I would recommend illustration as a career. I'm only just getting into it, but from what I do know... you have to absolutely be confident, and be able to crank out at least consistent artwork on schedule. For example I follow one artist's blog, and she ended up with a contract for a children's book/graphic novel with something like 70-90 illustrations... which were due in 3 months. Also she wrote the text for the book itself. I've also heard a lot about people having to do several dozen fully painted card illustrations in a very short amount of time (maybe a few weeks?)

    In illustration, things like that are going to come along. If you can't handle them, maybe pick a less demanding occupation. There are plenty of art-related jobs that aren't maybe as stringent in their demands. Go after one of those until you find more confidence in your own skills?

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    My question is, do you keep drawing despite all these fears and anxieties?

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    jason its partially a matter of perspective. taking everything you've said you could also spin it to your favor by saying that youre realistic about your talent and your capacity to create. i think it shows a degree of maturity that you are able to identify your flaws and limitations.

    clients appreciate hiring people who are honest so they feel comfortable knowing what they will get. i think you'd be doing yourself a huge risk by taking a job you feel uncomfortable handling. youre getting caught up in some abstract feeling of inferiority about your work because youre familiar with your own process and how demanding it can be. you'd be really hosed if you accepted a job and simply could not deliver, its a fear i think most all of us have.

    i think taking a more diverse assortment of smaller jobs will slowly start to allow you to tackle areas outside of your comfort zone. refuse work at times if you have to, there's nothing more empowering than being able to know what is ill-suited for you and avoiding it. confidence is something that takes time.

    i don't really like the logic of 'fake it until you make it', as it seems a false representation of who you are. faking confidence to make yourself more appealing is misleading and can come back to haunt you.

    at the same time though you want to instill trust in your client, and sadly telling them what they want to hear, even if its a lie, tends to work.

    you have no reason to lie to any client, your work is solid, youre educated, and you appear to be able to communicate your thoughts and worries properly. those are all selling points which will attract work to you, and i don't think you need to dress it up as it speaks for itself.

    these things take time, perhaps you'll laugh at this post after a few years of upper-cutting your way through jobs.

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    Quote Originally Posted by alesoun View Post
    Sounds like your main worry is long hours for low pay. If you're happier with spending time to make a finished work for money you consider fair; run with it.
    Maybe I'm reading this wrong, but it sounds to me as though you're trying to produce work for a pittance at a quality that would demand a higher price. Nobody can cram a 40 hour work into 4 hours; so don't try.

    High stress for cents? Not worth it!
    That's partially what it is, but I'm also feeling like my time spent:quality ratio is overall quite poor. Like I said I can make decent art if I take long enough, my problem is is that when I (think I) need to be swift I get myself too worked up that it's not turning out.

    My question is, do you keep drawing despite all these fears and anxieties?
    If you mean do I keep working at the job? I've pulled out (somewhat gracefully, I of course finish whatever I'm working on then let them know I won't be continuing) of 2 jobs so far that required many pieces for somewhat low pay. If you mean do I keep drawing? Yes. I sometimes take a day or so as a break but end up sketching soon after.

    I think you should take a step back and look critically at your situation. I know that money is important and you obviously have a desire to make an attempt at an illustration career....
    I've just set up a to-do list of items I feel poor at (some exposed through recent work) and I aim to do some studies to get me competent in those areas. I'm worried about getting freelance work because I will be moving soon and not entirely sure if whatever peon job I manage to find will be enough to keep me afloat. Like you say though, I think study is more important right now. Problem is... the same impatience I have also applies to studies.

    jason its partially a matter of perspective. taking everything you've said you could also spin it to your favor by saying that youre realistic about your talent and your capacity to create. i think it shows a degree of maturity that you are able to identify your flaws and limitations....
    It's funny you mention the "fake it till you make it" mentality, as it's something I was conflicted about through all this: I like to be humble with much of the stuff I do. Even though I know a lot of people encourage taking risks and being ballsy, I'd prefer to refuse a job that I'm not confident I'll produce my best work for rather than accept it and risk letting down the person who hired me. My portfolio, to me, feels like a deception as it's the 'best' of the stuff I create. What Irene Gallo stated in an older post was that your portfolio is your promise: what's in there is a window to what you can consistently create. Seeing as how I have this perception that all that work is just what managed to get through the strainer, those words didn't exactly sit well.

    As for breathers, I've taken way too many way too often. It's not as if I've been doing art nonstop, I've only been pecking at a doodle here and there, working a tiny bit on a larger project per one day. I just feel.... lazy. Lazy in my process and in my overall diligence. The problem is rather than a kick in the butt it just de-motivates me...

    But like you say, perspective. Maybe if I just screw freelance for a while and focus on skills I'll be less pressured and just learn....

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    I'd like to give a more in depth response, but I'll just throw out a few random suggestions:

    • Start logging your hours. Find out how long it takes you to grind through a piece that gives you trouble. Find out how long it takes you to finish a piece you breeze through. Log how long each stage of the project takes you. Adjust your prices accordingly, and note where in your process you are getting bogged down.
    • Don't take work you can't produce quality work on. Simple as that. If you're not prepared to take on 20 images, don't do it. Or, if you feel you can do it but they are not paying you enough, don't do it.
    • Lots of other things may be tied up in this, like fear of failure or perfectionism. It may have less to do with your abilities and/or love for art and more to do with the emotional investment you have in your work and your success as an artist.


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    Great thread and advices, I'm sucking this all up.

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    I am also sucking up all this incredibly valuable advice like a sponge...

    I agree with Grendel Grack maybe you need some time to face these fears away from freelancing. If you say that you've been taking too many breaks, and that when you do work you only do a little here and there, then that is your problem right there! Try and train yourself to not be bogged down with worries all the time, and just, create. When your working try your best to enjoy it and just let your creative energy take over. This is also a skill that is developed over time, time spent drawing and painting. Therefore, no breaks, no worries, no fear, just action. Paint more, draw more, and confidence will build, speed will build, efficiency will build, quality will build. Art is not hard. Gots to remember that, and remind yourself constantly.

    Remember that any feat, considered one step at a time, is not incredibly daunting. Man where did I read that quote?! Trying to live by it...

    Last edited by hemP; April 1st, 2009 at 01:28 AM.
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    I've been to your site, dude...and it's clear you have a lot of talent. So my only advice to you is don't sell yourself short! If it takes you a long time to produce a good quality piece of work, then so be it. If the client has a problem with the price, then don't do it. You can't get intimidated by what you feel they will think about the price. If it's awesome, they will pay the price...trust me on that one.

    I am confident in my ability and my prices because I base my rates off of what I make annually. I divide it all down so it basically equals to the amount per hour that I would make by going into work. That is what my day-time employer feels my time is worth, so that is what I feel my time is worth at home. Too expensive? Sorry, I can't be bothered to spend MY TIME if you can't pay the price.

    Granted, I am not choking on illustration offers, but I do make a nice side-living off of them. It's how I weed out the cheap-asses and it's how I make sure everything I do is worth my time.

    So I would suggest doing the same. You are spreading yourself too thin for too little pay. Don't do work you don't enjoy, either...at least not as freelance. I mean if you literally aren't able to eat without it, that is different, but if you don't need it, only take the fun stuff, man.

    Good luck!
    Don't quit, either...your stuff rocks.

    -D

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jason Rainville View Post
    If in the first 20 stroked of the pen what I'm making doesn't turn out, I feel like quitting already.
    Heh, this is me. The early stages of my work are an absolute embarrassment and it takes a hell of a lot of willpower to work through it. It happens on every single image, every concept, every sketch and I never learn.

    Sometimes I think, "Holy shit, what if I've forgotten how to draw?" as if such an event is remotely likely, and instead of forging ahead I stare at the mess on the screen for half an hour thinking, what went wrong? Crazy, since I know if I keep going it'll work out fine but that doesn't help. Sometimes I have to wipe spittle off the screen after yelling "What the fuck is that?" in light of a particularly lacklustre beginning.

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    Hmmm, I know I worry about whether I should bother with illustration anymore. Doing a simple sketch is sometimes taxing because I look to closely at it, wonder if every little detail is okay and if so-n-so will like it. And IF someone offers a bit of money for it, I do wonder if I need to up the price, lower it, if my simple sketch if good enough for that kind of money, etc.

    It seems like the task for you this time is a bit too simplistic to wrap your head around, and with money being part of it, now you'll have to look closer into the pictures you make, the quality you might want them to be... I only suggest that you think about what is or is not motivating you from doing this kind of illustration. Lazy, you mentioned. Are you feeling picky at all? Maybe knowing exactly what the problem is might help you feel better about this job, and your occupation at the moment.

    Well, hopefully I made sense. My mind is floating into "school test" mode. -_- Good luck figuring this out, Jason! It's okay to get that confused as long as you don't dwell for too long.

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    I recommend you some drop-out! ... forget everything for few days, don't think about art, job, money and life at all ... Lost in jungle, travel to somewhere else ... open your eyes and close your mind ... Just death for few days!

    It's like re-birth when you comeback home! ... New Fresh Start!

    Last edited by sketchfreak; April 1st, 2009 at 09:27 AM.
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    I'm also a catch-as-catch-can freelancer, and I wrestle with this issue too... really I think it's just plain old procrastination, resisting the work I "have" to do even if I enjoy it. Oddly enough, even when I'm avoiding work that has a deadline I'll still take time to draw my own stuff or follow along a CA activity.

    I'm also feeling like my time spent:quality ratio is overall quite poor. Like I said I can make decent art if I take long enough, my problem is is that when I (think I) need to be swift I get myself too worked up that it's not turning out.
    Here are a few thoughts in no particular order...

    Speed will come with confidence. It's normal to spend a long time laboring over one piece to get it really right. After a while though, you should start noticing that your speed picks up.

    Money may not be a motivator for you. Charging more up front will not necessarily make you want to produce more. But again, with time and confidence you'll learn the shortcuts you can take and still produce quality work which will satisfy both yourself and the client. Of course, if charging more does motivate you, go for it!

    Don't spend your time and energy worrying about this too much, just deal with it's effects. What I mean is... for example if you know that a contract for 20 drawings will freak you out (even if they're just supposed to be simple characters or something) then don't take it. At first I would not take more than 5 illos at a time.

    Looking back, I realize that I actually now work very fast... though the available work-time is still limited. You should find the same, but it does take time.

    So hang in there. Search for practical solutions and again, don't spend your precious energy and time in worrying.

    Last edited by CCThrom; April 1st, 2009 at 10:59 AM. Reason: poor writing
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    ok man this is said with as much love as possible, you have all these other nice people giving you logic im gonna give you my spin onthings, i dont mean to insult anyone, this is partially a joke, and partially my real opinion


    stop being such a bitch and man the fuck up! i've seen your work your a fucking good artist you can do this shit, dont fucking doubt yourself, when your making art you are the shit, your the man, your the best fucking artist in the world. when you stop to crit it then get real. but when your actually creating, there is no time or space for doubt or other bitchy little amateur things.

    Grab your balls. Remember your a man. and just fucking do what your born to do.

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    I've just set up a to-do list of items I feel poor at (some exposed through recent work) and I aim to do some studies to get me competent in those areas.
    David Byrne Sez: "I have adopted this and made it my own: cut back the weakness, reinforce what is strong." Your list is a great idea. Work at that.

    Dave Palumbo, I think, has the quote in his sig about cutting down the job into bite size pieces.

    The overall feeling I think you are describing is something that can happen to lawyers too. You get the feeling that you just can't stand to pick that particular case up again and start to draft a simple paper you know has to be done by next Tuesday. You just can't stand it. It sucks too bad. You just can't bring yourself to face it, etc. etc.

    What I can say is that sometimes you will just need to pick it up and do it even if you are not really feeling like it. While you are in the middle of it it still doesn't feel too great, but at least you actually have the feeling of what you are supposed to be doing. On those days the good part of the job is confined to when you get the darned thing done and you can mark it off your "to do" list and don't have to look at it on your desk any more. Usually for me when I get feeling that way I even feel like it sucks too bad to write that guy a bill afterward. I have to finish the job and set it aside for a few days and then write him his bill after I have forgotten about that sucky feeling I was getting.

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    Another thing to work on is your time management. You really need to make the most of the time that you spend drawing. It doesn't have to be in 9 hour chunks, either. If you make the commitment to dedicate at least a few hours each and every day to developing your skills, it will become second nature to draw everyday. You will also find that your speed and consistency will improve.

    Making a list of things that you would like to work on is a very good idea. See? You already have the right mentality and you also have the potential. Now you just need the ACTION.

    On a more personal note, I remember the exact moment when I decided to become an illustrator. Before that time, everything was uncertain. After I made the commitment to myself, the path became more clear. Nothing changed except my attitude and as cliche as it sounds, your attitude means everything.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Baron Impossible View Post
    Heh, this is me. The early stages of my work are an absolute embarrassment and it takes a hell of a lot of willpower to work through it. It happens on every single image, every concept, every sketch and I never learn.

    Sometimes I think, "Holy shit, what if I've forgotten how to draw?" as if such an event is remotely likely, and instead of forging ahead I stare at the mess on the screen for half an hour thinking, what went wrong? Crazy, since I know if I keep going it'll work out fine but that doesn't help. Sometimes I have to wipe spittle off the screen after yelling "What the fuck is that?" in light of a particularly lacklustre beginning.
    Oh lord do I know about that. Especially if I don't draw everyday...It's like I start to forget that I can, or I start thinking that somehow I've just lost the ability.

    It's totally a confidence issue though, and like Jason said I tend to try to always stay as humble as possible about things, which I think is good in some regards...it opens the world up to you...but you have to remember to save some confidence for yourself. I know every time I've taken a payed job, which honestly, other than my fulltime 3D gig hasn't been much...but every time there's a wave of fear that I won't be able do it, or it'll suck, or some other bullshit thing...and of course the first couple of sketches or attempts totally blow ass...however beyond that it always improves. I think the key is to know that there is going to be that initial rush and instead of allowing it to paralyze you, fight back. It seems like some folks just simply don't have that little voice inside their head that shits on everything they try to do, and I envy them....but you know what, fuck that guy (the little voice I mean) he's just the accumulated bullshit other people have fed you, a disempowered society has thrown on you, and that in moments of weakness, shit we pile on ourselves. So yeah dude, buck up, fear is just a reasonable reaction to the acknowledgment that there is work ahead of you. It needn't have any other meaning.

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    what i want to know is how the heck are you getting freelance work? I would love some freelance work coming my way!

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    First, I have to say stop thinking of it in terms of money. You don't want to sell yourself short and work on every low paying job out there, but if you accept a job you need to put the money out of your mind until the job is done. Once you accept a job it isn't about money, it's about your reputation. It's about improving. Money is just the gravy at the end, or at least that's how you have to consider it while you are working on the job.

    Secondly, if large jobs freak you out some, you need to either cut down on the number of pieces you accept, or start nailing down a workflow. Break it into easier to manage chunks that are less scary. Like doing art itself, a good procedure makes everything easier.

    Inconsistency happens, especially if you are starting out. So look on the bright side, these are "small" lower paying jobs. You are getting paid to practice your technique and workflow, and build your portfolio. You'd be doing those things anyways right? You'll probably always have things you want to work on and improve (at least if you want to grow as an artist), so it's not going away. Accept that there will always be things you want to improve on and just keep moving forward.

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  38. #26
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    My thoughts on this:

    A friend of mine build websites for a couple of years.
    I helped her a lot with that, learning her to work past the basic HTML coding and doing some advanced scripting for her. She did most of the graphic and layout work.

    One thing I learned for this is that you get what you pay for.
    It's unrealistic for a customer to spend $50 and expect the same quality as when he spend $500. That's something you and your customers need to sort out. You should know how long something takes you appox and what your hour rate is. When it's too far below just tell the customer that you can't meet his expectations but offer alternatives.

    The main problem are the first projects. You have to make a guess how long something will take you. This friend accepted some work at start that was way underpriced considering the demands of the clients and the time she had to put into it. The demands were just too complex for her.
    Still she learned from it and was able to give a more realistic rate to later customers. Because she knew better how long something would take her. She started to work besides her regular work, so she was not depending on the income of website development. This also helped.

    All I can say is accept the jobs you think you can handle at a decent rate and learn from the experience. Keep track of the hours you spend on them, including research and such. This way you will know how much time a project will take after a while.
    And talk with customers about expectations. Everyone wants an Aston Martin, but they only want to pay for a second hand VW Golf at max. You don't want to be the guy selling AM cars at second hand Golf prices....

    I know part of getting work it's about exposure, specially when you start out.
    That's why my friend accepted projects that were underpriced. But only do that with projects that give you huge exposure or are a sure addition to your portfolio. If not, be realistic. You need to eat, pay the rent/mortgage and your artistic gear. There are only 24 hours in a day and you can't work all of them. So make sure your average money/hour rates generates at least enough income to be able to pay what you need.
    Taking a underpriced project means that you need to get that money somewhere else.

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  40. #27
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    It is normal to feel sometimes that the project is bigger than yourself. You can treat incoming commissions like a buffet but if you pick up something on your plate, you better finish it. So pick up what you can eat, not because it's just tempting.

    Make a sketchbook happy, feed it a tip to improve!

    http://conceptart.org/forums/showthread.php?t=85628
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  41. #28
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    Great advice in here guys, thanks to all - I'll have another read through all this and get my studies underway

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  42. #29
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    As someone said don't sell yourself short.... you just need to figure out what is right for you so you know how to gauge the offers and negotiate terms with potential clients. Make sure to pad in time to come up with ideas... not just how long it physically takes to do the work.

    Most non-art people have NO CLUE how long it takes to do artistic things they just know they have a deadline to meet. If it is too big of a job with an unreasonable deadline let them know. They will appreciate your honesty, which is equally as important a reputation as the quality of your art. If they really want you to do it they will renegotiate with you to make it reasonable for everyone. If not, then don't take the job. I know its hard to turn work away but its better than getting in over your head and not coming through on your commitment.

    As for the art quality... my work looks like crap until the last 5 minutes. I like it at first, half-way through I want to trash the whole thing but I keep at it and then somehow it all comes together in the end. And then I hate it again 3 days later. LOL!

    You just gotta keep it at!

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  43. #30
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    Most non-art people have NO CLUE how long it takes to do artistic things they just know they have a deadline to meet. If it is too big of a job with an unreasonable deadline let them know. They will appreciate your honesty, which is equally as important a reputation as the quality of your art.
    Yeah, this is a really good point. Every person creates art at different speeds and/or has different things going on in their lives that may affect the length of time to finish the art. I see some people on here that blow me away because they crank out these Star Wars quality pieces of art seemingly with the snap of their fingers...for me it takes me a good month or two to get anything done because of work and family time. I always make sure to communicate that to anyone I'm doing work for.And you know what? Usually they are okay with the timeframe I give them. If they want it faster, well I just say there are a lot of artists in the world...but this one can't get it to ya in a week.

    -D

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