Author Archives: Jonathan Woodward

NYC Aquarium ‘Ocean Wonders: Sharks’ Exhibit

I’m very excited to be able to finally announce that I’m currently working with the lovely people at the Wildlife Conservation Society in the US to produce 60+ Illustrations for the ‘Ocean Wonders: Sharks’ exhibit that will be housed in the new $157 million re-build and transformation of the NYC Aquarium.

As a shark freak, this is a dream project and by far the highest profile and hugest job I’ve ever worked on (literally, with Illustrations ranging from 5cm to a whopping 4 metres!)

I’m nearly half way through the final artwork, but won’t be able to share anything until the Aquarium is re-opened in 2016. However, I have been given permission to share a sneak peek of one of the shark Illustrations from a huge shipwreck scene…

blue-shark

I feel very fortunate to be working on such a fun and very worthwhile conservation project, helping to educate future generations about these amazing creatures.

Here’s an animated walk through of how the exhibit will look when finished – it looks amazing!

The June 2014 Desktop Wallpaper

Download the June 2014 Desktop

TTWN-June-2014-wallpaper-blog

To download your copy of the June desktop, please right click on the version you’d like and select “Save As…”:

The Print

I’ve also released a print based on the June desktop Illustration called ‘Lunch!’.

To purchase a copy of the print (framed or unframed) from my Society6 print shop, please click on the image below for sizes and prices.

Jonathan-Woodward-Studio-bronze-whaler-sharks-print

 

 

The May 2014 Desktop Wallpaper

Download the May 2014 Desktop

TTWN-May-2014-wallpaper-blog

To download your copy of the May desktop, please right click on the version you’d like and select “Save As…”:

The Print

I’ve also released a print based on the May desktop Illustration called ‘Peace & Quiet’.

To purchase a copy of the print (framed or unframed) from my Society6 print shop, please click on the image below for sizes and prices.

may-print

 

3 Things You MUST Do When You Finish An Illustration Project

#1 Ask For Feedback

Why Do This?

…Because it’s a great way to continually improve the way you work with clients.

…Because feedback and testimonials from real clients are a great marketing tool.

#2 Keep Your Financial Records Up To Date

Why Do This?

…Because it helps you see whether you’re on track to achieve your financial goals.

…Because it eases the admin stress come tax return time, and instead makes it a breeze to do.

#3 Update Your Portfolio

Why Do This?

…Because your illustration portfolio should reflect your latest & greatest work.

…Because every completed project and satisfied client is a great marketing opportunity, and adds to the potential for more work 😉

And Finally…

To help improve your paperwork, we put together this template for you to begin to create your own (online) Client & Job Database….

5 Questions To Ask Yourself Before You Start Any Illustration Project

#1 Have You Confirmed the Full Scope of the Project?

Why Do This?

…because unless you do, you could be setting yourself up for a whole world of hassle later down the line.

…because until you do, you can’t provide a quote accurately or assess whether a proposed fee is worth it.

Will Terry gives this advice about managing scope creep…

“Newer and smaller businesses often do not have a good understanding of how business should be conducted. Creating a good working relationship is even more important when working with these clients because you will often have to take them by the hand to educate them.

For instance, one of the biggest problems you will encounter is “scope creep”.

Scope creep happens after you have signed a contract or agreed what the scope of the project is going to be and then you are asked to create more work.

Example: Your client wants you to illustrate a dog, cat, and mouse having dinner together. You agree on all of the specs, price, and deadline.

After you send in sketches your client informs you that he/she would also like you to include a donkey at the dinner party.

Since there was no possibility of satisfying the sketch on the first pass it is unfair to ask for this extra work without offering an additional amount of money.

If you’re a good designer you know you can’t just “add” an donkey into the sketch without redesigning the entire composition. If I were doing the painting for $1000 I might ask for an additional $50-$100 for the extra work.

The most important thing in handling these situations is to be informative in a kind way.

A careful explanation of your position should help most clients understand their error in expecting something for nothing.

You might even offer to do it for free this time so you can help preserve the relationship knowing that if it happens again you will hold them to paying an additional fee.”

#2 What Are the Copyright & Usage Terms?

Why Do This?

…because all parties need to be clear on who owns the rights and how long they own them for; these terms then form part of the fee.

Brett Ryder shared this advice…

“Some editorial companies will try for perpetuity, which in my opinion is completely outrageous! The acceptable term is one-time use within the magazine/newspaper, and 3 months use on their website and within the article it was commissioned for (there is some movement on this, but it’s pretty standard).

Sometimes – mainly in packaging or adverting – perpetuity is unavoidable and you will need to make the decision as to whether you are happy with this, and that the fee reflects the buyout of the image.”

Here’s a checklist of key aspects that need to be agreed upon:

Usage Rights Checklist

#3 Have You Confirmed the Financial Terms of the Project?

Why Do This?

…so you can be paid what you’re worth!

…so you know what you’ll be paid, and when you’ll be paid it.

Here’s a great article on how to calculate your fees, which includes the following advice on how to set your hourly rate:

How to calculate your hourly rate

[Annual salary + Annual expenses + Annual profit] ÷ Annual billable work hours = your basic hourly rate

Annual salary: What would you like to make a year? Consider this as a business expense (paid out to you as your own boss).

Annual expenses: Includes purchases and overheads for your business.

Annual profit: This is the profit charged over and above your expenses. Our friend Ilise Benun suggests 10-20% of your salary as the norm.

Annual billable hours: 365 days minus vacation, sick time, weekends off, and time you spend doing administrative stuff, and multiply by the number of hours you work a day, approximately.

Basic hourly rate: This is a guide, not a rule. You may choose to share this with a client as your hourly rate, or you may just build it in when you give a project fee.

When you’re calculating your fee, remember to consider the following:

  • Your hourly rate – calculate the number of hours each stage of the project will take (sketch, back & forth, final artwork etc.), to calculate a total. You do NOT have to communicate your hourly rate to a client, nor your time estimates either – but it does enable you to calculate a fee rather than guesstimate it using gut feel 😉
  • Client management time – remember that your fee should include the time you work on a project which includes back & forth with the client (by email or phone), as well as any research or other time spent on that particular project.
  • Expenses – equipment and any resources required to complete the project should be included in your fees.

And finally, be sure to confirm the payment details & schedule which means clarifying what and when you can actually expect to receive the monies from the client.

The following are often up for negotiation:

  • An initial deposit, paid upfront – many people will tell you not to expect or ask for this, but it can be used as a point of negotiation if a client has a tight deadline and/or can’t pay the full amount you quoted/asked for.
  • A kill fee – so you’ll be paid for any work you’ve done, even if the client cancels a project.
  • The final payment – always submit your invoice ASAP upon completing a project and put a note in your diary/calendar (or use followupthen) to remind you to chase up the payment if it hasn’t come in on the day it is due. Even better than this is to send a pre-emptive reminder a few days before the payment is due asking for confirmation it will be included in their next payment run.

#4 How Will Changes & Extra Requests Be Managed?

Why Do This?

…because things change. Always.

…because when they do, you’ll already have agreed the process to manage these changes.

For advice on what to do when things change AND you still want to be paid, watch this (it’s for designers BUT highly relevant). WARNING: NSFW…

#5 Have You Got Everything in Writing?

Why Do This?

…Because unless you do, you won’t have a leg to stand on should anything go wrong.

…Because it doesn’t need to be a scary, legalese document – it can simply be proof of everything that’s been agreed in writing (and emails still count).

Chris Oatley gives this excellent advice…

If a potential client is resistant to the idea of beginning with a contract, run away! Contracts exist to protect everyone in the professional relationship.

The biggest problem, however, is that most artists don’t work with a contract of any kind. They never even have the contract conversation.

It’s easy to villainize clients, but I rarely hear of an artist actually doing their due diligence and ensuring that a contract is arranged at the beginning of a job.

So all that’s to say, always work with a contract and on the rare occasion that a potential client is resistant, don’t work with them.

This is a brilliant tool to create a simple contract that covers all the important bases. Plus read about the red flags in licensing, if art licensing is your game.

And one final but brilliant tip that comes from this excellent article, is this:

Be clear that the written agreement is the final agreement…

“This is the parties’ entire agreement on this matter, superseding all previous negotiations or agreements.”

4 Things to Ask When A Prospective Client First Contacts You

#1 How Did You hear About My Work?

Why ask this?

…because it gives you feedback on which of your marketing activities are working.

…because it helps you figure out where to focus your future marketing efforts.

 

#2 What Final Output Are You Looking For?

Why ask this?

…because it enables you to review your own business goals and decide if this is a good fit.

…because it gives you clarity on what’s being asked and what’s expected.

#3 What’s the Deadline & Work Schedule?

Why ask this?

…because it enables you to manage your own schedule.

…because it gives you an additional criterion to decide if this is going to work for you.

#4 Is This the Best Fit for My Business/Me?

Why ask this?

…because ultimately, you do have a choice, and it’s always good to recognise that.

…because sometimes a job just isn’t the best thing for you or your business.

Four Ways to Get A Headstart on Your Illustration Business Each Year

At the end of each year, with the festive season in full swing, it can be hard to concentrate on your business and move the needle much further until the new year ‘lull’ comes round.

But if you can find a few quiet moments to begin thinking about the coming new year, you’ll be able to get back into the swing of things much more smoothly when the festivities are over, and focus on what matters most to grow your illustration business each year.

Here are 4 of our top recommendations to help you do this…

1. Review Your Biggest Lessons of the Past Year

Has it been the year you wanted? If not, why not? What didn’t work so well? What did?

There are a lot of ways to conduct an annual review, we like to keep it simple. Grab a pen and make 3 lists, as follows:

  1. What are you going to KEEP doing? (Because it worked well and it’s worth continuing with).
  2. What are you going to STOP doing? (Because it didn’t work well, never has and likely never will…if you’re truly honest!).
  3. What are you going to START doing? (Because you have a feeling it could work well for you and it’s worth a try).

This gives you a very simple action list that lets you (a) Review what’s happened (b) Clear the decks and (c) Re-focus your efforts on what matters.

2. Make a Plan for the Coming Year

“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”

“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to.”

“I don’t much care where –”

“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go.”

~ Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland  

If you’re typically a ‘fly by the seat of your pants’ type illustrator, and it’s not been working out so well for you thus far, perhaps now is a good time to try something new…

Creative people and plans don’t often play well together, but there’s a strategic planning tool that Lea has developed that works well because it’s not a long-winded 30-page business plan, but a simple 1-page plan.

The crux of a good plan is this: Know what you’re aiming for…

What do you really want to be illustrating and who do you really want to be illustrating it for?

Until you really get clear on this, anything else you do for your illustration business is pretty pointless.

3. (Re)Focus Your Brand

It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that your work will do all the talking when it comes to your personal/professional brand – and sometimes it can – but if you interact on social media, attend networking events and generally perform other activities to market your business (which you should be doing!), then honing your brand for all these activities can really help.

Consider the following questions:

  • What do you and your brand stand for?
  • Are you and your work instantly recognisable?
  • What sets you apart? Why should someone work with you and not another illustrator?
  • Do ALL of your marketing activities present a cohesive and accurate representation of your brand?

If your work looks the same/similar to fellow illustrators, your brand – how you (re)present your work across all different channels and media (including you, as the illustrator) – can set you apart.

How well does your brand currently work for you? What can you do next year to improve it?

4. Create a Promotional Calendar

I’m sure we’ve all done this (I know I have)…you work on a lovely new promo mailer and send it out.

Then, several months later you think ‘Ooh, I haven’t sent out a mailer in a while’, so you create a new one and send it out. There’s no set schedule, it happens when it happens.

Creating a Promotional Calendar in advance can help you plan this into your schedule so you know what’s coming up, and can incorporate it into your workload.

The biggest benefit of doing this is that you will have an ongoing stream of marketing activities happening – to a plan – rather than the sporadic, ‘market when you need more clients’ type of approach so many creatives default to.

The December 2013 Desktop Wallpaper & Print

With this new December 2013 desktop, it marks 3 years since I started creating and releasing them – this is probably the longest illustration project I’ve ever stuck to!

These desktops have been an important part of my work – giving me a space to experiment with new ideas without a client looking over my shoulder, and also enabling me to share a taster of some of the client jobs I’ve been working on at the time.

To celebrate, I wanted to do something to take the project to the next level and also tie it in more with our endangered animals website, Then There Were None.

The Plan for 2014

So, thanks to my lovely business strategist wife, I have a new plan!

Each month I’ll be releasing:

Week 1: The desktop to download, freely.

Weeks 2 & 3: Prints of the desktop; on sale for a limited time until they become extinct forever.

Week 4: One unique, hand embellished and signed version of the print.

This Month’s Desktop

Without any further ado, here is the December desktop available for immediate download…

TTWN-december-2013-wallpaper-blog

Please right click on the version you’d like and select “Save As…”:

With the print that will be available in week 2, I’d like your help to decide which one goes on sale…

I’ll be adding these 2 prints to the Jonathan Woodward Studio Facebook page and asking you to vote there. Alternatively you can leave a comment with your vote here on the blog.

The two prints are…

Polar Bear Family

JWS-DECEMBER-PRINT2-blog

Polar Bears & Narwhals

JWS-DECEMBER-PRINT1-blog

The Story So Far…

I also thought it would be fun to take this opportunity to gather all my previous wallpapers together in one place and see how they’ve changed and progressed over the years…

36-months-of-wallpapers

Original Collage Auction For The Philippines Typhoon Disaster Fund

In response to the devastating typhoon that hit the Philippines and to try and help the people over there in some small way, I’ll be auctioning off my framed original Kingfisher collage to the highest bidder.

The auction is being run via my Jonathan Woodward Studio Facebook page, is already underway and will run until midnight on Friday (GMT). I will be covering the cost of postage and packing to anywhere in the world.

kingfisher-frame

My wife and children are Filipino by genetics so I feel even more compelled to try and help, but more than that, I’m a human and fellow humans are currently going through something we probably couldn’t even begin to imagine right now. So, please do hop over to the Facebook page and take a look >>>

UPDATE:

I’m delighted to say that the final, winning amount bid for the collage was £100. Thank you very much to Mary Murphy, who is the new owner of my Kingfisher collage.

donation

October 2013 Desktop Wallpaper

Download the October 2013 Desktop

TTWN-october-2013-wallpaper-blog

Apologies as I’m a bit late this month due to Illustration deadlines and also preparing for the Illustration conference I run with my wife being this Saturday.

This Blackbird collage is one of 12 spot Illustrations I created for ‘The Allotment Almanac’ – the second book from Radio 2’s resident gardening expert, Terry Walton. I also Illustrated the wraparound cover too and it will be published on 10th October.

To download your copy of the September desktop, please right click on the version you’d like and select “Save As…”: