I’m an artist who studies the habits and traits of successful creatives. Then I share what I learn in the form of process snapshots and showing how I translate articles into imagery.
This way you can beat procrastination, build better habits & strengthen your creative core.
Each week my newsletter shows the methods I use for distilling text based stories, articles and ideas into bold imagery. If you don’t have time to create images yourself, you’ll learn some valuable tips that may be useful when assigning a project to an illustrator or designer.
An Article That Inspired A Generation
Have you heard about the famous article called 1,000 True Fans?
It was written in 2012 by Kevin Kelly of Wired magazine. I never took the time to find it on the web and read it because I thought well, the title is pretty self explanatory right? I thought it’s probably about how people like artists, singers, performers, sculptors, painters or comics, who are trying to make a living doing their art need one thousand loyal fans.
I assumed from the title of the article, that these creative people were warned that attaining 1,000 fans was only the beginning of a long road to someday reach the level of success of Beyonce, Amy Winehouse, Annie Leibovitz, Jerry Seinfeld, or Banksy.
But I was wrong.
The gist of the article argues that 1,000 true fans is all an artist needs to make a successful and satisfying career. A true fan is defined as someone who will immediately consume their works. Any time the artist releases a new print, song, or performing a new stand up routine at a live event, fans will buy tickets and downloads so the artist is rewarded monetarily.
Kelly made a graph that showed what this sweet spot looks like. These fans form a proper base of aggregators who will spread your message and support your ideal. This goes across all business types. And in this day and age of "uninspired” barrage of mass advertising, what better way to keep your message personal?
Kelly points out that this target number is a very attainable, realistic goal.
If you can get 10 true fans, you can get 100. If you can get 100 then 1,000 is not that hard to imagine.
So many people give up on their dreams of being a (insert your passion here). A talented singer may give up because she sees Alicia Keys playing at Madison Square Garden if front of 20,000 screaming fans thinking, “I can never do that.”
But the way Kelly breaks down the math, it really makes sense. If you assume conservatively that each True Fan will spend at least one day’s wages (say $100) per year in support of what you do that means 100 x 1000 is $100,000 per year. Subtract a modest overhead and folks, that is a decent living for most people. Now is that superstardom? Not even close.
What if you are a duet or group? Your True Fans are scaleable and will be in direct proportion to the number of people on your team.
For those who are thinking of trading in their day job to pursue their passion, then this soberingly realistic article may give some very real hope.
The Rough Sketch
Step 1) After reading the article I knew the image wanted to be about getting a tattoo. It was too perfect of a fit. Inking your skin is all about commitment and fandom. I didn’t explore brainstorming other ideas, but I did need to see what shape would look best on the what part of the body.
Step 2) After choosing a good spot on the body I looked for the right typeface family. It was between a “Fast and the Furious” feel or a more hand lettered look. So I went with the hand crafted approach.
Step 3) I started to go in a flat, two dimensional direction but it was lacking something. I didn’t have the impact I was going for. I decided to go for a stylized realism.
Rework & Finalize
Step 4) So a little light and form was what it needed. Still wasn’t completely happy with the way the tattoo looked. It wasn’t appearing like the ink was IN her skin. It looked like it was stuck on top. So I took another blending pass. Then added a layer on top of her skin & ink which helped indicate the surface skin and subtle reflections.
More by Tom LaBaff
Thanks for reading!
Each week my newsletter shows the methods I use for distilling text based stories, articles and ideas into bold imagery. If you don’t have time to create images yourself, you’ll learn some valuable tips that may be useful when assigning a project to an illustrator or designer. Sign up on the home page.