On This Day, Seven Years Ago...

December 10, 2016

#selfemployment #freelance #business #anniversary #creative #design

On this day, seven years ago, I wrapped up my first pencil illustration of HellBoy, a fanart drawing that I attempted to sell on eBay for $10 dollars. The business model for the then called EWGraphics was simple. Draw 4-5 pencil pieces, whether it be my own original artworks or commissioned pieces, and sell them to customers via eBay. I shipped whatever I sold every Friday. This simple but honest attempt at generating my own work in a climate where nobody wanted to hire led to a brand and body of work that evolved with every year that went by. Now thousands of artworks and seven years have come and gone, and the evolution continues. The first 5 years saw growth and refinement that continues to this day. Read the '5 Year Journey' series for those first 5 years. In this post, I am looking at the last year and the view ahead.

While most of 2014-2015 saw me in the role as a comic artist juggling 5-6 different comic gigs at any given time, 2015-2016 saw all but one of those run their course, and me starting the new year with literally no substantial clients on retainer.  After much leg work following up with large clients and potential new comic jobs, there was little to no result. I got by with weekly slot commissions to fill gaps in the income and relied on one or two large clients to keep it going week to week. A new direction was needed.

It felt like I was back at the very beginning again. I had years of design-heavy work and comic-heavy work and years full of variety. The business was flourishing. Then it felt like I was suddenly back in 2009. Nobody was commissioning me to work no matter who I contacted or how much I advertised. As a wise man once said, "as doors close, so too do new ones open." I had one very important door open in February of 2016 thanks to a friend and colleague over at twitch.tv/2dorkstv.

I had been doing late-night sketch streams on Livestream and Picarto to supplement my comic work the year before. I'd do it at night so it would not interfere with the daily grind of the comic assembly lines. But in February 2016, I was nudged by Steve at 2dorks to checkout twitch and see the many additional benefits it offered compared to services I had been using. My streaming life was changed forever. There was a whole world of creative people to meet and interact with, and I could run my stream with  the possibility of donations and other fun interaction abilities with viewers and chatters. After several months of experimenting with the format, soon the Drawing Request Show was born.

Almost a year later we have now hit 420 followers, and have gone from streaming two nights a week to every afternoon. Eryck Webb Graphics now makes more from the live streaming commissions ('requests') than from any other source. Customers are able to come out, watch the stream, win free drawings, donate to request commission sketches and even upgrade to finished inked and colored pieces. The latest additions to the stream include drawing-based games for prizes and a drawing-lesson segment where everyone can learn the basics of how Eryck draws.

Since October 2016 the workload has been at such a fevered pace that the acceptance of commissions outside of the stream is on a temporary case-by-case basis. The streaming itself has helped bring in commission and design work off stream as well. All in all it has opened up a lot of opportunities I never would have had to meet and be inspired by new artists and work for individuals who I would not have been able to meet otherwise. A year in and I'm still learning as I go. I constantly update and make changes to improve the stream and keep it fresh. As the business moves into a more streaming setup, I look forward to seeing what else is to come.

The way this business changes every year, next year I might just be drawing mascots and not even streaming. Who knows? If I've learned anything in these 7 years of working for myself, it is that anything is possible. I'm never done being a student of this creative world and I have absolutely no idea what awaits me and Eryck Webb Graphics down the road!

Highlights and Noteables:

- My wife, Kristina, regularly works for the business doing copy editing and record keeping and has also moved into the world of digital coloring in Photoshop! I am very thrilled and excited to have my wife helping with the creative assembly line!

- Drawing Request Show now streams every Monday through Friday at 2 pm Eastern Time! Come out enjoy the show and grab a request!

- Opportunities open every week to meet new artists and get inspired in new directions creatively.

- The long-time trusty workhorse, Eryck's Wacom Intuos2 finally got replaced this year with an Intuos 5 (Intuos Pro) and its been an outstanding addition to the arsenal!

- Twitch inspired the desire to pursue figure sculpting. Eryck has enjoyed exploring sculpting stylized -cartoon figures with Super Sculpy based on techniques learned from  fellow twitch streamers broadcasts. He is in the process of finishing his first one as this post is being written.

- This year was the first time doing competition-style artwork. Eryck entered a piece in the Last Guardian fanart contest on twitch and will find out if he won on any level later in December!

- Eryck Webb Graphics is also going to be represented in the Megadeth Christmas Card art contest as another attempt at a competitive art challenge.

- Eryck's interest in traditional artwork remains on the back burner but is always burning. Look for more traditional art pieces to be offered in the year to come.

Thanks for reading and here's to another year of unexpected surprises!

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