035: Thinking Local + MERCH DROP!
Wherein I talk about the opportunities all around you, and some new merch drops!
You need to remember this. The skills you have as an artist and visual storyteller, don't take them for granted. Other people think what you can do is MAGIC!
And it is.
This week I want to talk about THINKING LOCAL, and potential paid opportunities right in your backyard that you may have overlooked.
I also promised to talk more about the Children’s Book I recently finished! Let’s get into it.
My first experience with Children’s Book Illustration
For years I was getting asked if I could draw people's children books, and my limiting beliefs held me back.
I guess in my own mind, I thought I needed to be "IN" or have some special style. In reality the #1 thing you need to be able to do is simply tell stories with drawings. And that can be done in any style.
One day, someone tagged my name on a Facebook Post from Ivory Latta... she's a WNBA All-Star!! She had written a Children's book and was having trouble getting illustrators to finish the job.
She had a fun story! You see, IVORY was SHORT!!! So she grew up being told she would never make it in pro basketball, And she proved them all wrong... it was called DESPITE THE HEIGHT!!
The offer came to me at the right moment in time. I was recently divorced, climbing out of debt, and wanting to afford a MacBook Pro for my son for college. So I thought.. well, I'll do this extra work and put it toward my kids college! I thought that was the number one motivating factor.
But there was a deeper reason for me as well.
My 8th grade art teacher and member of my invisible council, MR. CRUMP, was also a published childrens book author on the side. He had specialized in re-doing classic fairy tales like Cinderella or Snow White and making them for African American children.
He did that because he noticed back then there were not a whole lot of books where kids of color could see themselves in the story.
Mr. Crump is like my OBI-WAN KENOBI Force Ghost.
When I feel myself thinking I can’t so something... or heard the little voice inside saying I wasn't good enough... The GHOST OF MR CRUMP WAS THERE to tell me that not only could I do it, but how important it was to put out inclusive works like this.
So, HELL YEAH!!! I did that and I kept this spirit with me. My little ode to Mr. Crump's legacy…
And there it is, a best selling children's books from Ivory and me!
Remember, IVORY didn't have a publisher either! She just started with the story and a vision. Other artists had let her down. And I stepped up to get the job done.
We thought maybe if we had our own copies she'd attract a bigger publisher.
I set out initially to use AMAZON KDP, print-on-demand for books.
And just as we got the sample copies setup, guess what? She found a real publisher to take the book over!!!
Long story short, my kid got a MacBook for college, and years later now makes almost 6 figures as a computer developer. It all worked out!
I hadn't done a Children's book since then. It just wasn’t my passion.
BIG TIP for you is... you could totally publish your own PRINT ON DEMAND book using KDP. It's fairly easy to setup and format anything. If you’d like me to do a full tutorial on setup, let me know. Otherwise there are plenty of others on Youtube.
The BIGGER idea for you…
And this is right in your own backyard. There's literally thousands of dollars in opportunities waiting all around you if you know how to position yourself.
It happened to me again. I was recently referred from a friend to a local tourism board asking me if I could make an animated series for them.
I could have just said no, I don't do animations...but I took the call and pitched them the idea of a Children's history book of the county. THEY INSTANTLY LOVED IT!!!
The thing you need to know about government agencies, non-profits and local organizations is, they have access to budgets, can get grants for education programs, etc. A fun Children's book is a NO-BRAINER!!!
I simply drafted them up a quote for a 24 page classic Children's book setup. They took my quote, a quote from the printer and writer... and POOF!!! they went and got the funding for the whole project.
Think about that a second…
You don’t have to be in a major metropolitan city or densely populated area. You don’t need a large publisher. You can achieve deals like this right in your neighborhood. Miles from your own home.
Added bonus? They have a built in market of public school's, libraries, and teachers who want this for their classrooms. They already had a hundreds of copies pre-sold or committed to each school, all before my pencil really started moving.
It sparked new exciting ideas for this organization, maybe a school visit or talk. Maybe on-site book readings at the historical sites mentioned in the book. Help raise awareness and funds for these non-profit orgs and locations.
ANDDDD they’re already thinking even bigger. Ideas to expand this concept into future books. I know as soon as one group sees this book, they'll want something for their county, town or organization.
This could easily become a FULL-TIME thing if you focused just on your local and regional market.
I think It's unlimited.
You know, I had the GHOST OF MR. CRUMP with me. I was able to draw and show the history of our area and be inclusive and show kids of color and even touch on topics like the history of the indigenous tribes who were here long before us, instead of white-washing history.
And here we are, it took me about 8 weeks to complete the art and pre-press. And now the final books are done and waiting to go to the local schools.
While Making Children's books isn't my #1 passion, I chose to take on this project because it aligns with my personal pillars, AND I could use the money to help fund my REAL passion project, building out some fun merch lines for the Draw or Die Club, and help inspire even MORE artists out there.
Speaking of which… MERCH DROP!!!!
We have a limited run of the leather patch trucker caps here. These are made in the USA by our friends at BrandedBills. Super high quality.
We also have some new hoodies up and we still have series one buttons available.
Our goal with the merch is to help motivate you to draw more. AND, they make great conversation starters. Go get some gifts or put em on your gift wish list for others to buy for ya!
This Week’s Drawing Prompt is:
“The Lonely Days Were Gone….”
Don’t forget to tag #drawordieclub so we can find you out there!
Don’t forget we have Daily Drawing Prompts at 5am to keep your pencil and mind moving. Try it for free for 7 days, then it’s $5 a month after.
Okay, everybody get back to the drawing board!