Welcome to the August edition of my Imaginarium! I’m going full Goth with everything black: ebony, crow, midnight, ink, raven, oil, onyx, pitch, jet black, obsidian, coal, metal, and the darker-than-your-soul Black 3.0. I’m also looking into ways to further your art career with some helpful resources.
There isn’t a guaranteed formula to follow when it comes to being a successful artist. A portion of it is hard work, while the rest is loads of planning and a dash of luck. Sometimes it seems that it’s all about hitting the right trends at precisely the right time and how much money you have to invest in it. There are numerous courses to help you manage your art business, but unfortunately, they cost money and time. But on the upside, there are plenty of free resources that help immensely, and by applying yourself bit-by-bit, you can manage a fairly decent career.
Not all of us are fortunate enough to have mentors, and not many people are willing to share their secrets. It’s only natural to look to other artists who managed to grow their careers and try to learn a few tips from them. I’ve come across a few of them who do not shy away from helping other artists, and their insights have been life-saving. I’ve rounded up my top picks:
If you’re looking for places to sell your art, the best place to start is with local markets or art fairs. You could also enter art competitions, but success isn’t always guaranteed. Keep an eye out for art competitions and open calls for exhibitions, and you never know which one can open the right doors for you.
Marketing also plays a significant role in promoting your art and investing in a professionally designed website or online portfolio will help you establish your brand as an artist. By knowing how SEO and Google Adwords work, is also beneficial once you start to market your art seriously. If you are in the market for a website, I highly recommend o5 Webdesign and Auxilium Haus.
Brushing up on business 101 is also a great way to boost your entrepreneurial skills:
Don’t forget to have fun with it. Your art career is an extension of your soul and something that should bring you endless joy. It’s important to remember to take it easy occasionally and to feed your creativity with things that you enjoy. Just for fun, and if you’re a Harry Potter fan, you can sharpen your magic skills by enrolling at Hogwarts:
If you need an amazing soundtrack to go with your studies, I highly recommend Miracle Forest:
Don’t you hate it when your favourite black clothes start to fade into that horrible brownish-charcoal oblivion? Black never seems dark enough, and I continuously find myself painting more layers on an artwork or increasing the contrast and shadows in Photoshop. Scientists discovered the blackest shade: Vantablack. It’s so dark, absorbing 99.995% of light, giving the object covered by it the appearance of a gaping hole. But it’s quite fragile and impractical for everyday use. There’s also an issue with acclaimed artist Anish Kapoor, who bought the patent and therefore no one else is allowed to paint with the pigment. This, of course, sparked outrage and prompted a bitter feud between himself and fellow British artist Stuart Semple. You can read more about the fantastic Vantablack and the dispute between the two rivals here:
In short, Stuart made new colours that he banned Anish from using, and the fight continued. What does this mean for those of us who want to use the blackest shade on the market? Even if we get our hands on Vantablack, lawsuits will prevent us from using it and chances are that it’ll ruin our artworks are rather significantly. Then Stuart made Black V1.0. Sure, it’s not as dark as its predecessor, but it came pretty close at 98 – 99% light absorption. And the best part: its non-toxic, acrylic, smells like cherries and can be used as regular paint. It’s also not too expensive. He’s since perfected the formula with Black 2.0 and recently Black 3.0. Finally, a shade as dark as my soul! Check it out for yourself, and let me know if you’d use 3.0 or any of your projects. But be aware, due to its high light absorption, there is a fire risk:
When it comes to illustration, it’s apparent that I prefer graphite pencils, sure, they might not be as dark as charcoal, but I love their simplicity, and I don’t like getting my hands full of charcoal smears. To achieve a decent shade of dark contrast, I use the HB 0.5 leads in my mechanical pencil. I opt for the H leads when I want to create lighter and more delicate lines. My mechanical pencil does all the darkest parts in my drawings, and for larger areas, I go in with my Derwent 3B pencil. When I paint with black, I use it straight from the tube, unless I’m mixing different colours.
One thing I’d love to try is drawing on a black canvas, which is readily available at art shops, and the effect of creating something that contrasted is breathtaking. Have you ever tried drawing or painting on a black canvas or paper? If not, here are some great tutorials to get you started:
Black clothing is just as versatile when it comes to making art: it doesn’t show the paint as much. But there is one huge drawback: pet hair! I look like a walking fur coat thanks to my cat, and she prefers lounging on my darker clothes. I go through lint rollers like you cannot believe. But stop wearing black? Never! Finding black garments in a country that is known for vibrant and sunny colours is not easy, I still get weird looks in certain areas when I venture out, so I’ve opted for lighter colours such as greys and dark blues when I need to blend in. If you’re someone who loves a darker aesthetic, check out these stores for some inspiration:
If you know of any places that sell unusual black wares and attire, please let me know!
One thing I don’t see often is black flowers, and they’re not as well-known. I scoured the net for some beautifully dark plants:
• Queen of the Night Tulip: They bloom in spring and are more of a velvety purple than black. They’re not too hard to maintain and can withstand colder climates. https://www.gardenia.net/plant/tulipa-queen-of-night-single-late-tulip
• Hellebore: They’re poisonous, which adds to their mystery, but they’re evergreen and will grace your garden all-year-round. https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/ornamental/flowers/hellebore/growing-hellebores.htm
• Bat Orchid: An exotic orchid that resembles a bat in motion is perfect for any garden. They do require extra love and care, but the result is spectacular. https://www.easytogrowbulbs.com/collections/tacca
• Black Pansy: Not only are they easy to grow, but they are also edible. https://www.clickandgrow.com/blogs/news/the-wonderful-world-of-black-pansies
• Cranesbill Geranium: Also known as Black Widow Geranium grows in dark, damp spots. http://www.plantgenesis.co.uk/geranium-phaeum-black-widow-dusky-cranesbill-hardy-perennial-seeds-c2x19127609
• Spanish Moss: Although its seen as a hindrance, it adds an eerie beauty to any tree it grows upon. It makes the perfect indoor hanging plant. https://www.gardeningchannel.com/how-to-grow-spanish-moss/
• Black Beauty Elderberry: With its dark leaves, it adds just the right kind of vibe to a garden, even though the flowers are pink. https://plantaddicts.com/black-beauty-elderberry
There are so many more that I haven’t mentioned above, but these are my top picks.
Looking for bio-degradable and environmentally friendly supplies can be arduous and expensive. But it doesn’t hurt to experiment at home with ingredients you might already have. I’ve started by making my ink from a few simple elements to practice calligraphy and ink drawing.
Not sure which shade of black to choose for the day? You can download the perfect reading companion here, with the names of various shades of black:
Thank you for reading and please share with your art-minded friends. They can also subscribe to my newsletter here:
Until next month, have a perfect August!