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LA-based freelance concept artist and illustrator, Shreya Shetty, shares her insights about handling and organising finances as a freelancer, so that it no longer feels a daunting task.

Working as a freelancer means you have a wear a lot of hats. Being smart about your finances will allow you to continue to operate smoothly. Here are some ways to help you through the ups and downs of the freelance life.

1. Know Your Worth

Charging a below par rate is going to hurt you, over time. Talk to your peers and know the general rates. Sources like ArtPact, Glassdoor, etc. help find out the hourly and per piece rates for illustrations and such.


2. Budget for Taxes

Freelancers pay at a higher tax rate. Consider this when you quote your prices, and budget for this when you have expenses. Virtually, all work related expenses can be written-off as business expenses. Find out all possible allowed business expenses that you can claim as a freelancer. Be sure to keep your personal and professional spending separate.


3. Consistent Clients

Try to have consistent clients so you know that you will be making a certain amount per month. Also, don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Try to have a couple of different clients, so even if one stops commissioning work, you won’t be out of work.

4. Invoicing

Be prompt about sending in your invoices as soon as the job is done. Most of the bigger companies have fixed billing cycles so if you are late and don’t send your invoices in by a certain time, it might take up to the next cycle to get paid.


5. Passive Income

It’s always great to supplement your commissions with passive income. This means that you can generate revenue with minimal effort, based on the work that you have already done. Examples of this would be Print on Demand (POD) services for prints, licensing; selling content like tutorial videos, brushes, and so on.


6. Plan Downtime

Plan for the downtime and try to save up at least 3-6 months of your basic living expenses. When you start out keep your overheads low, embrace the frugality till you know you have saved up enough to not panic if the work dries up for a while.

Published in Issue 37

The issue includes interactions with Preeti Vyas from VGC on ‘How to pitch for clients or retain the existing one’ and Ashish Deshpande from Elephant on ‘Challenges of working with a startup’, along with some best freelancers like Archan Nair, Shreya Shetty and Paul Sandip, sharing their knowledge of working with various clients. Also, Sachin Puthran from Thatzit.com gave a 10-point no-nonsense guide for studios to handle their finances. A must read, if you are planning for the financial year ahead or worried about your handling your money matter.

 

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With the stakes of digital art soaring high in the market, have a look at some of the best Indian digital artists and get-going to be one!

Wanting to give life to your imagination? What are you waiting for! This is just the right time to start out and the right environment to be inspired from!

 

Be it replicating an image of a famous personality or creating other-worldly characters, anything and everything is possible with digital art using a simple pen-tab and digital software.

 

Follow these brilliant Indian Digital Artists and hop onto a journey of unplanned surprises and master-piece outcomes!

1. Aashit Singh

Aashit Singh is a Mumbai-based visionary artist specialising in creating visual representations of the intangible and other-worldly imagery. He feels that realism in psychedelic art is important to be able to relate to these psychedelic visions. Read the detailed article on Constructing Psychedelic Experience! featuring Aashit’s deep insights.

 


Digital Art

2. Ankur Patar

Ankur Patar, a national and international award winner, has had over 13 years of experience in the advertising industry. Accredited with being chosen as one of the best digital artists of India in 2012, he has brands like Adidas, Nike, Adobe and the likes associating him for years.

 

His recent collaboration with Adobe to recreate lost masterpieces got him into the limelight once again. He was one of the only 4 digital artists chosen from throughout the world to recreate paintings using only Adobe stock imagery.  Ankur also shared how does Digital Art help to exceed your imagination!

 


3. Archan Nair

A firm believer of creating what the heart says, Archan shifted from being a fashion major and an entrepreneur to a self-taught digital and visual artist and illustrator specialising in mixed media and digital art. He is now a Germany-based independent Indian Digital Artist with cultural roots from India. Archan calls this artwork as Psymbionic – a digital Illustration of human and the subtler elements of being human.

 


4. Jithin Roda

Jithin Roda is a freelance concept artist and illustrator based in Kerala. His passion for art got him specializing in a wide spectrum of the illustration world like pre-visualisation, concept designing, cover designing and illustrating for posters and topics in general.

 


5. Medha Srivastava

Attracted towards art depicting metaphors and thought-provoking subjects, Medha, previously a gaming artist has been fascinated by conceptualisation, ideation and realism. Concepts and character building have always aligned with the intent of her artwork.

 

Starting out with simple digital illustrations, she eventually moved on to the world of concept art. Social issues contribute to a major part of her inspirations. To be true to her style of art, which she defines as realistic with a tint of stylisation and conceptualisation, she picks up on things she sees in her vicinity like shapes, colours, patterns and textures for the visual representation of her digital masterpieces. She insists on thoughtfully mixing Realism with Conceptualisation.

 


6. Mukesh Singh

Mahabharata, the epic of epics, can be told and retold time and again, still feeling fresh and young to the receptor. Dissatisfied with the earlier visual representations of the Mahabharata, Mukesh Singh took on a journey to explore the characters of this epic through his own style of digital art and with the aim of wanting the audience of today to not just identify and accept the character’s inner selves but their outer ones too, which are external manifestations of their inner selves.

 


characters

7. Nikhil Shinde

Nikhil Shinde, an Indian digital illustrator feels that creating a character is similar to assembling the pieces of a puzzle together. He puts in his heart, mind and soul to create out-of-the-box characters and gives them a twist in a way which takes the audience by surprise!

 


advertising

8. Nithin Rao Kumblekar

Starting out in his career as an art director in an advertising agency in 2005 and having gained some experience in the field, Nithin decided to freelance as an illustrator from the year 2010, with a focus on commercial illustrations. Since then there has been no looking back and he has brands like IBM, Lenovo, Brittania, Idea cellular and alike as part of his clientele.

 

He has also collaborated with global advertising agencies like Saldo Disegni Italy, Kassett Norway, JWT Delhi and Bangalore, Leo Burnett Mumbai, Saatchi & Saatchi Bangalore, etc creating pieces of digital art to be used by them for their promotions and in other areas.

 


9. Pavan Rajurkar

Pavan Rajurkar, a young Mumbai-based freelance illustrator believes that traditional and digital art compliment and complete each other. In spite of being in the digital era, he feels that the mind is directly connected to the hand and a hand-drawn doodle is the strongest way to brainstorm, leading to an idea.

 

Pavan has worked for numerous reputed advertisement agencies and was also featured in Lürzer’s Archive’s 200 Best Illustrators worldwide in 2016.

 


Emotions

10. Pratima Unde

Accepting the challenge to create a unique beauty, Pratima Unde leaves no stone unturned to explore her subject of illustration. Specialising in expressing human emotions, she highlights these in her digital portraits through a particular technique called Giggling.

 

Focusing on subjects which are shy, she spends days with them sitting face to face, expressing the unexpressed, only to discover something new every day. This portrait is of a Joyous Rajasthani, as she likes to call it.

 


Versatile Designer

11. Rahul Arora

Rahul Arora is a Mumbai based freelance digital illustrator. Believing in the fact that versatility plays a massive role in the life of an artist, his spectrum of working typologies in the field of design is pretty wide, varying from illustrating for advertising to character designing, story-boarding, environment designing and comic books illustrations.

 

Keeping his clients in the centre of any project, Rahul feels that the designer is responsible for conveying the idea of the client through the creation of styles matching the needs of the clients; thus the style of the designer is a reflection of the clients’ sensibility and vision!

 


12. Raj Khatri

Raj Khatri is a Mumbai-based movie buff, visual designer and a digital artist who believes and lives by the fact that experimentation is the key to self-discovery. This thought has helped him create some brilliant movie posters and other artwork, only using the medium of digital art.

 

Having had more than a decade of an experience in various sectors of the field of design like websites, social media, flash animations, TV series, films and many more, he now heads the creative team at an entertainment design studio known as Marching Arts.

 


Indian thelas

13. Ranganath Krishnamani

Ranganathan Krishnamani is a free-thinker, an obsessive doodler and has a soft corner for architecture. An illustrator driven by passion, he feels that self-developed style is what contributes to the uniqueness of an artist.

 

With a keen eye for observation and a distinct point of view, Ranganathan captures and expresses the unique stories of simple everyday life through his own developed style of minute detailing in his digital illustrations.

 


14. Seerow Unni

Believing that the core idea of an artwork is to convey the message to its readers, Seerow Unni, a digital illustrator says that every artwork should be considered as a scene of a movie, as it helps in adding the missing elements, thus adding life and giving depth to the scene. Fun and witty humour are the key elements to grab peoples’ attention.

 

To be a part of the community, it is important to keep oneself updated with the latest trends and happenings of the digital design market. He feels that this year the trend is shifting to from complexity and elaborations to minimalism. He says the key is to enjoy the process and improvise at every level.

 


Characters Shreya Shetty

15. Shreya Shetty

Balancing fantasy and realism, Shreya Shetty creates characters dictating a sense of otherworldliness, yet being anatomically and functionally viable. Following certain thumb rules like relating the character to its environment and keeping the background subtle, she has mastered the art of creating original, believable fantasy characters on a digital screen.

 

She believes that the right expressions and poise can create a memorable moment that will stick with the audience even after the story is over.

 


16. Sri Priyatham

Earning his very first commission by turning his bedroom into a studio during his student days motivated and inspired Sri Priyatham to transform his love and passion for illustration into his profession. To have a free-flowing lifestyle and working on his own terms and conditions, he chose to work as a freelance illustrator creating digital art pieces.

 

The social platform of Facebook helped him communicate and promote his artwork and get commissioned. The reach of other social platforms like Instagram, Reddit and Imgur worked wonders for him to get in touch with a global clientele from the continents of America, Europe and Australia.

 


17. Sukanto Debnath

With an experience of living in changing surroundings and different cultures, Sukanto Debnath, a Hungary-based Indian digital artist explores human behaviour and body language through his extensively detailed yet sketchy illustrations.

 

He believes that travelling and exposure to various folk arts and cultures opens up an artist’s mind to think beyond the usual, thus resulting in mature design. The global artist has created this digital painting called ‘People in Groups’ where he expresses the facial features of Hungarian locals and their body language.

 


Illustrations

18. Uday Mohite

Uday Mohite is a digital-caricature specialist and paints characters believing them to be a piece of art! He does a deep research to understand the features that define and describe the subject of his digital illustration and then exaggerates certain components like colours or characteristic features to start a conversation with the viewer.

 


19. Vishnu

With an impeccable passion for drawing and sketching, Vishnu tries to achieve perfection in all of his artworks. With only an experience of a short span of 5 years in the world of art, he has mastered the skills and techniques of digital art in his own way, developing his own personal style.

 

To be the perfectionist he wishes to be, Vishnu puts his mind, body and soul into his work to achieve an intricate level of detailing, which is visible in all his sketches.

 


Vivek_Feature - Amitabh Bachchan

20. Vivek Mandrekar

Currently working as the chief creative designer for movie posters under the banner of Yash Raj Films, Vivek Mandrekar has come a long way from being just a self-taught artist to mastering the art of creating posters for the film industry.

 

Face expressions tell stories and Vivek has captured these different stories of many great legends of the Indian film industry through his digital paintings. One such famous artwork is that of the Bollywood star, Mr Amitabh Bachchan, created using Adobe Photoshop and Wacom pen-tablet.

Fantasy and realism are conflicting thoughts. Yet, for fantasy characters to be believable, it is important to bring in a sense of ‘otherworldliness’ while still keeping them anatomically and functionally viable, professes concept artist Shreya Shetty. She lays down few very important tenets to create fantasy-realism, as she likes to call it.

Characters Shreya Shetty
Aghori
Characters Shreya Shetty
Mr. Nibbles

Origin decides the destination.

The characters are shaped by the environment he/she resides in. For example, if you were drawing a character from a tribe that lived in the desert, you wouldn’t cover him/her in heavy fur – it just wouldn’t be practical. Or, if you had to design a character that lived up in the Arctic, you wouldn’t design elements that echoed tropical climates like palm trees and such. It is very important to design the characters in relation to the environment it lives in to maintain believability. Try not to have too many elements in the background or keep it super detailed because then, the character would be difficult to read. Keeping the background simple helps in reducing clutter in the image and maintains the focus on the character.

Characters Shreya Shetty
Broken
Characters Shreya Shetty
Vendor

All the characters are born out of a real instance.

Usually, the overall design and silhouette of the creature will first catch your eye. Take inspiration from associated elements, for example, surface qualities like colouring, pattern and texture details, physiological traits, mechanics and behavioural traits to come up with your imagination. With humans, faces with nonconventional features make for more interesting characters. Replicating, in terms of fan art or redesigning, involves a bit constraint. But you can always add your own unique perspective, while maintaining the original identity of the character. On the other hand, original artwork gives you free reign to design as you wish.

Characters Shreya Shetty
Gar
Characters Shreya Shetty
Merman Sketches

Exaggeration makes the character memorable.

If you exaggerate just the right amount, it could be the difference between a dull, forgettable character and one that stands out and grabs the viewer’s attention. You can play with physical proportions and expressions to add a theatrical flair to your design. Props and costume add to the storytelling and history of the character. Look through resource materials for costumes and hairdos and find inspirations that are more suited for your character. It’s important for the added elements to match the universe of your character to bring in that sense of authenticity.

Characters Shreya Shetty
7 of Pentacles
Characters Shreya Shetty
Merman

Expression defines the persona.

Expression and posture are all parts of the visual storytelling process and act as cues. They tell us more about the character if he/she is aggressive or submissive, intelligent or dumb and so on. In respect to the overall plot, expressions define the role played by the character in it. The right expression and poise can create a memorable moment that will stick with the audience even when the story gets over.

Characters Shreya Shetty
Kinara
Characters Shreya Shetty
Helith
Characters Shreya Shetty
Flower Fairy

Practice, patience and perseverance.

Many people have this notion that few artists are naturally gifted with the ability to draw and paint while others are not. That’s not true. With hard work and persistence anyone can be a good artist. The important thing is to just practice, practice and practice more. Look at the artists you admire, see what attracts you to their work. Do master-copies, observational sketches and supplement your studies with working from imagination. Finally, give yourself time to grow and develop to be the one you always want to be.

Characters Shreya Shetty
Enoi Queen
Characters Shreya Shetty
Barnabus
Characters Shreya Shetty
Alice and the Caterpillar

Published in Issue 16

We always wish we had someone to show us the right way of doing things when we were starting our professional journey. And that’s why we have based this issue on graduates. The cover feature is an ensemble of advice from top names of the industry. We have also showcased few talented fresh graduates from across the country, keeping with the theme. You’ll find Tom J Manning and Pallavi Sen share their international exposure as well as insights behind their unique approach. Also featuring Shreya Shetty, a prominent concept artist, who shares the secret behind the believable characters she creates. She believes, with practice and patience, anyone can be a good artist.

 

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