Digital Spotlight: Annie Stoll and SquidSalad.net

We are very proud to present to you our second Digital Spotlight, featuring the immensely talented graphic artist and illustrator Annie Stoll! Annie has a quite expansive portfolio of work, ranging from anime- and video game- themed fan-art and jewelry she sells at conventions, to graphic design for clients like LucasFilm (yes, THAT LucasFilm) and Ani DiFranco (for whom she does CD packaging and merchandise design with White Bicycle and Grammy winning art director Brian Grunert). Not to mention her latest webcomic project, Squid Salad! In this latest Digital Spotlight, Annie opens up with us about the ways she gets her art noticed and how to make social media work for you as an artist.

Annie is also contributing her talents to our webseries, This Is Art. You will be able to see her illustrations featured in the opening animation that will start each episode. When it came to choosing an illustrator, Annie immediately popped into our heads. She’s such a flexible, professional, and driven artist who knows how to have a presence on the internet. Plus, she’s a blast with which to work!

Annie has inspired me as an artist since I first met her over two years ago (her artwork decorated my apartment far before I ever met her face-to-face). Here are four invaluable lessons that Annie has taught me, and that every new media artist can learn from Annie and the work that she’s done:

1. Be Fearless. Don’t be afraid to promote yourself and your work and network as much as possible, even when it comes to artists or producers who intimidate you. Have confidence in your own work and show no fear when it comes to promoting yourself.

2. Support your fellow artists. Twitter, Facebook, and all those other social media technologies are great for spreading the word about the work that your peers are putting out there. Also, when the other artists in your life need help that you can offer, offer it. Collaboration is key to discovering new things about your own work.

3. Get organized. Have a system, stick with it. Be as prepared as possible and plan ahead. This level of professionalism will show in the quality of your work.

4. Know your audience. Every demographic is a chance for someone new to fall in love with your work. Annie has a unique style that she’s been able to cater to a wide variety of clients (including yours truly – after all, she did the illustrations and web design foremilyfloyd.net!). Proper research and knowledge of an audience give you the edge that gets your work noticed on the internet!

Annie, we wish you nothing but continued success and we can’t wait to collaborate with you on our webseries! If you’re interested in being a guest on our Digital Spotlight series, leave a comment, DM us on Twitter, or email us at thisisartwebseries (at) gmail (dot) com.

– Emily Floyd

@emilythespoon
@followthisisart
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Conventions and Community: Can’t have one without the other!

As anyone with internet access and a penchant for geekery knows, last weekend was San Diego Comic Con: the veritable Mecca for all fanboys, fangirls, comic-lovers, gamers, cosplayers, and anyone even remotely interested in nerd culture.

I only recently became a con-goer myself, but even at my very first convention three years ago I recognized right away what I love about conventions: the sense of community and the uniting love of art.

After all, the video games we play for hours, the comic books with which we fill our shelves, the television shows we memorize, and the movies we line up for at midnight are all art forms. Conventions give a chance for artists and art lovers to gather as a community and celebrate the art that brings us together.

Conventions like San Diego Comic Con have such an important impact on the art community. First of all, they provide a rare opportunity for the fans to make direct contact with the creators – through panels, industry booths, and even sometimes on the show floor! Also, big production companies make huge announcements at conventions about their work. Most up-and-coming video games, comic book creators, and even film companies save their biggest news (like release dates!) for specific conventions, and organize their marketing around these conventions. This, more than anything else, is an indication of just how much importance these production companies place in the convention community and in the respect of their fans.

In addition, conventions open up a unique market for an untapped batch of artists – digital artists, costume makers, webcomic creators, and more. Every convention I’ve attended for 3 years has had a fantastic Artist Alley showcasing hundreds of new media artists and fresh talent that are, in my opinion, as important to the industry as the big production companies sponsoring the convention.

And, of course, there’s cosplay. The best cosplay requires patience, talent, skill, passion, and lots of love. How can you see THIS and not call it art?

Emily and Chris in Gitaroo Man cosplay, with Adam Sessler!

Ok, maybe it’s not the most impressive cosplay ever. It’s just me and Christopher Gravenstine (one of the producers of This Is Art) in our lovingly constructed Gitaroo Man cosplay. And it was enough to get the attention of G4‘s Adam Sessler and get us featured on a segment on X-Play about the importance of cosplay in the con-going community!

When you see really well-made, mind-blowing cosplay, it really makes you appreciate how much talent that cosplayer has in terms of construction (which often includes not only sewing, but also sculpture, detailed painting, and a heck of a lot of engineering). It also makes you realize what an effect that particular character (or series, or video game, or comic book) has had on this person. After all, the genesis of cosplay is the instinctual desire we have to bring fantasy universes from the art we love to life.

So what does all of this mean for This Is Art? Well, for one thing, conventions gather together a plethora of artists (both well-known and up-and-coming, across all forms of new media), and we want to know about them! After all, This Is Art (the web series) is a story about the way art is made, and This Is Art (the project) is a community for these artists to share their processes with one another. You’re going to see a lot more of that soon with our upcoming Digital Spotlight Series.

And it means a great deal for This Is Art (the web series) as well. The web series is still a fairly new and innovative form, and conventions have a huge impact on the development of the web series community.

Take this year’s San Diego Comic Con. One of the biggest panels of the con was the panel for the hit webseries created by Felicia Day, The Guild. To quote Marc Hustvedt of Tubefilter, “The Guild panel at Comic-Con is about as close as the web series world has to a Steve Jobs keynote” (you can view his full article here). This year, the cast of The Guild made huge announcements regarding the expansion of the web series into physical world marketing, including a new line of Guild character-themed Jones Soda. This is a HUGE advancement for the world of web series! Folks, this is the kind of stuff normally reserved for major market entertainment! In other words, The Guild is really putting the world of web series on the map as a form of marketable, viable entertainment. At a time when the state of online entertainment is so up in the air (Hulu, Netflix, and Youtube, oh my!), this is ridiculously awesome news for those of us who are excited about the expansion of the web series community.

At SDCC, The Guild panel also unveiled the first episode of their latest season. As it turns out, Season 5 follows the beloved Guild characters as they attend – are you following me here? – a fan convention!

Needless to say, conventions are very important to me and Anne as we continue to develop This Is Art, both as a web series and as a community of artists. We’ve attended them for years as fans, but recently we’ve really begun to understand the impact of conventions, both on the artists and on the fans, and their importance to our new media community.  As most of you know, we’re well into our fundraising campaign on IndieGoGo! We’re awfully close to $6000, and if we accomplish our goal, or (even better!) if we go OVER our goal, one of the ways Anne and I will be using any additional funds (in other words, what doesn’t go directly toward production) will be to take This Is Art to conventions here in New York City and across the country. After all, as I’ve hopefully made clear, conventions are an extremely important part of our community, and quite possibly one of the best ways for us to promote our series and to allow for This Is Art to grow beyond the web! So… ahem… DONATE and you can help us achieve that goal!

This year, Anne and I are excited to attend New York Comic Con, where we will not only be spreading the word about This Is Art, but we’ll also be scouring the convention for innovative new media artists to share with you! And of course, there’s always room for inspiration for This Is Art, Season 2! Who knows? Maybe this time next year you’ll see the This Is Art panel on your NYCC schedule. Ooo, I can’t WAIT for Cami cosplayers…

 

Emily Floyd
@emilythespoon
@followthisisart
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