Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Ask Alicia: Digitisations and drawings





There are few things I consider an extension of me, and if you asked me about a decade ago, Photoshop definitely wouldn’t have been one of them. I adore Photoshop and use it on a daily basis and (a few over-users of photoshop will understand me) I sometimes think in Photoshop. Like masking parts of my work or apple+e (merge) all weekdays into one day...you get the drift 😬.
Anyway, starting out on software was harder back then than it is now. I started transitioning because I needed to get my illustrations digital, be it for a college project or just to put on my blog I had then. So that’s where my first, and only, scanner came in. From there it just graduated from to using Photoshop to make scans look better, then to colour, then to use in projects and print, then for work and now for everything.

I truly think the amount of digitisation one wants for their drawings is purely personal but ultimately, it almost always HAS to end up as a soft copy if a drawing needs to be ‘used’ commercially. If not, then it’s your call! That’s the beauty. I never completely transitioned to digital because I adore hearing the sound a pencil makes on paper. That scratching sound is one of my living pleasures.

There are certain things I do only digitally. This happened only recently when I started using the iPad Pro and the Apple pencil. I love it and it's one of the few instances where I am completely digitally drawing.




That’s about it!
Thank you! and I hope I answered your question. This would be a very trail-y note with no purpose if not 😛

Alicia

Monday, September 25, 2017

Ask Alicia: 3 way street



Email from A:

…So basically I was working at a company which I recently quit and now sitting at home doing freelance isnt as great as it was to do it on the side along with my steady job. 

And I realised i like being around people while working...need activity and some noise around me. 
But right now I am in a confused state of mind whether to start something of my own or still apply and look for jobs because I want more exposure( i have worked only for a year after graduating).

Because starting up requires a plan and money to run it which I thought i would do along side a steady job where I can save a little every month to put into my business.

Another thought from parents is that I do post graduation and then get a good job outside.

I am basically now stuck in a situation where i have 3 doors to open and I don't know which one to choose.

Cheers
A

Dear A,

So there are many many routes to reach one destination and that’s what so great about..I guess, life! It’s great that you realised what works for you and what doesn’t as that’s really important. There are ways to be a freelancer and have the niceness of white noise with co-working spaces. Many have popped up around the city and have great reviews. Though I personally love the ultra quietness or loud country music (that is pretty much unacceptable in any workspace haha), a co-working space  could be a solution if you love every other aspect of freelancing. 

Starting something of your own does needs a bit of an investment, and a plan. Initially, unless you have a partner, you’ll still be working at alone. I’m a little unsure when you say start something of your own, do you mean a service-based company or product? Because for service-based, time will pretty much be your biggest investment. 

A steady job would help if you want to start a company that requires an investment but making time to work on the side on the ‘bigger picture’ is hard when one has a full-time job. It can work but this is a matter of what kind of job and where. If you can make it happen, then this is your best bet! It’s less risky because you get to meet more people (given that your job allows that), earn for an investment, and build up what you want slowly and steadily until it takes over completely and you can seamlessly shift into your own space. 

I’m always weary of suggesting post graduation as unless it’s something you really ‘need’ to study, it’s just a framed print and time away from getting real experience in the work space that is worth, usually, a lot more. Having said that, it’s a personal call because sometimes that break is something you need for yourself and that community of students is what you crave. 

Anyway, I hope this helps. I know I didn’t give you one solid answer because I think only you can pick the path that calls you the strongest. But, pick one not based on what’s the least scary but the one that could bring about the best outcome and happiness. 


All the best!

Love, 
Alicia

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Ask Alicia: Blocks and all



Email from 'Said':

:-)
Hi Alicia,
Thanks for the mail. I would like to know your opinion/suggestion on two more things (Won't take more time of yours .. promise)

1) Do you get something like a writer's block? How do you overcome?
2) As a kid, I had a huge desire to 'live' out of drawing. Now when I see, I feel maybe that was the reason why I stopped .. as I found it difficult to monetise on the skill. Did you have a similar phase/doubts? Or the 'living' part 'just' happened? How do you keep the 'need for money' separate from your art?

Thanks

--
Hellooo
So let me get straight to it!


1) Do you get something like a writer's block? How do you overcome?
I used to before I drew for a living. I remember when I was at university, there were sometimes 4-5 weeks that would pass by where I just didn’t feel like picking up a pencil and then suddenly I couldn’t stop drawing the week after. But I think now I can’t even imagine not drawing daily. I believe it comes from making it habitual. Habit to draw but also sometimes practical when it comes to what to draw. There are days when I can sit infant of a blank paper and stare without a thought and that’s when I refer to notes I make about ‘what I need to draw’. I make these notes at random times when I am in the middle of other activities and don't have access to a pencil. I feel like it’s almost like cooking sometimes. You can sometimes whip up something just by looking at the ingredients but sometimes you need to flip through your recipe book. 

2) As a kid, I had a huge desire to 'live' out of drawing. Now when I see, I feel maybe that was the reason why I stopped .. as I found it difficult to monetise on the skill. Did you have a similar phase/doubts? Or the 'living' part 'just' happened? How do you keep the 'need for money' separate from your art?
That’s a great question! That’s one of the reasons I said I WOULDN'T be an artist as a kid too! And well, life has a funny way of making your wouldn’ts come true :)
I kind of fell into freelancing and that meant I had to come out of my comfort zone and talk about money to clients and put a figure to my work. When it comes to client work, it’s a job and not a piece of art because art is about feelings and messages whereas client work is about fulfilling a brief, even though you have to/want to put in feelings and a message. That’s something I make clear to students as well. Realise that when you illustrate commercially, you’re never given a blank canvas. Having said that, it’s sooo much more fun that it sounds. It’s challenging in a nice way where you work within the constraints but in the most creative way. It's also personally challenging because you have to do things that you don't always prefer, like talking about money (which is a big worry when starting out) but you get used to it over time. Be open in thought and accept challenges. 

But at the end of the day, you should also always draw for you! And that’s when you can call it ‘art’. And that's when you can have a blank canvas and the separation that one may desire. 

Hope this helps!
Love, 
Alicia

Monday, May 15, 2017

Ask Alicia: Making stuff



Email from Jaai V:

Good morning Alicia

Thank you so much for the reply. I went through your blog and all the questions. Yet I have a few more questions and I think only you can answer them. 
1. How did you get your first order for designer merchandise? I am very much interested in starting my own online store business and selling designer merchandise and accessories but I don't know how to start and whom to approach. I make Illustrations but I don't know how to earn a living out of it.
2. How do you collaborate with big brands like Lenovo, Tinder, etc. I have no idea about how to approach well known companies. Do they get in touch with you or you contact them?
3. Do you manufacture the cute illustrated products or do you get them printed? Whom to contact and how to collaborate with manufacturers of products? 
4. Where do you store all your products before shipping? What is the process when you get an order? For example, you get an order for a designer bag then is it ready to be shipped before hand or you get your artwork printed on the bag later? Can you please guide on how to approach manufacturers and collaborate with them?

Your inputs will be of great help as I am very much interested in designer merchandise.

Thank you so much for your guidance and help. You are an inspiration.
Regards,
Jaai Vernekar. 


Hello Jaai
Thank you soooo much for your mail!
So let me reply in order of your questions, so I don't miss anything out:)

1) I think I was a bit lucky on that front. I had a few people ask for merchandise before I even considered it. But I took a risk, thanks to the help of a friend, of making a few products for a flea market event (the Sunday Soul Sante) and we ended up selling out and having people mail with queries for months after. That was when I realised there was a need; though it was a long time later that I started the online store, stopped and started again!
When it comes to merchandise, I think the thing to realise is that it’s an entire different ballgame. Handling the manufacturing, stocking, logistics and then sales is a full time job (depending on how profitable you want it to be). But getting your products manufactured is as simple as going to the nearest/ biggest print shop around and getting your work printed on the merchandise that’s easily available to be customised. This could include t-shirts, mugs, badges, prints etc. Basically things you can make small quantities without worrying that you’ll be stuck with a whole lot of stock. I would say look at it as a testing project first and then go guns banging after doing the math of the business. It’s a little less risky and grey-hair-starting.

2) I think I’ve been lucky enough to be contacted by every client who I’ve ever worked with. It’s also because I’m rather public with my work (though I rarely actually showcase client work). I would recommend getting a portfolio of your work online first, because when you approach a potential client, you want to show them your capabilities. Then, go ahead and approach them! We live in such a beautiful age wherein most people are just an email away! And that too, an email address that can be scouted with just a bit of research! Mail and mail some more. Showcase your work. Also pitch some ideas! The sky is the limit!


3) Yes, we manufacture each product. We work with manufacturers (sometimes two and even three on a single product). I started off, as I mentioned, at the local print shop. That worked for a while, and then I took a break because running a product business meant that I had to be doing it full time. Which also meant that if I was single-handedly doing the packaging and shipping, I had to be in town almost all the time, which is not possible with my schedule. It wasn’t until I met Saurabh, my current partner, that we started the online store on full swing.
Finding manufacturers is a task in itself, and to be honest, I don’t have a knack for it, nor do I enjoy it. Figuring out cost prices along with follow ups for timelines and MOQs (minimum order quantities) is something that can take more time than I have to offer. So my partner handles that side of the business while I do what I love, i.e., the drawing bit!
Back to my beginnings, I think the local print shop should do just fine initially and if it’s something you want to pursue after the first few lots, then I would suggest getting someone to help with the business side of things, including finding manufacturers (this is sometimes asking current manufacturers and just plain ol’ google searches!).

4) When I started, I only stocked smaller products under my bed in boxes. Also under my housemates bed. It was a mess. Every time there was an order, I’d had to pull them out, pack them and call the courier guy who would send it across. It took a LOT of time in my day even if the number of orders weren’t too many. At this point, we have a little office with a store room for all our products. I still recommend going through the hassle of the home storage before investing in a storage room because the number of orders will dictate if the business is worth growing and investing your time and money. Almost every order is pre-manufactured, which means we have stock of products. But we do have a few products (like our custom stamps) that we manufacture on demand. That’s only something we’ve been able to do with a team and process in place, because it takes longer and also involves working with a manufacturer every time an order comes in. Custom orders tend to be a lot more expensive (depending on the product) because you manufacture single units, which means it’s a lot more effort from the manufacturers side and a lot of time from yours too! So unless it’s a high value product, like say a bag as opposed to a badge, I wouldn’t think it would be worth getting into.

A shirt I mocked when I was in university. I used to draw more skulls back then haha!

Lastly, you should also start mocking your illustrations onto products. I did this from my university days, which was when I knew I would love to see my work on merchandise. Mocking is still something we do because I cannot get everything I envision manufactured, so I mock it instead!

Hope this helps! All the best and don’t be afraid to take a risk!
Love,
Alicia

PS: Take everything I say with a pinch of salt! I took one direction and got to where I was, but walking in a completely different path may get you ahead of me! So don’t be afraid to do what you think works. I don’t take the most riskiest paths but maybe you would like to! Go ahead! Your life, your path :)



Tuesday, April 18, 2017

I have news!



There are very few ways to announce this, rather biggish deal, but I guess two words should suffice: I’m married!
I’ve mean meaning to mention it for a few months now but I’m embarrassed to say that not having time to do a decent announcement was one of my reasons for a delay and the second one is plain old shyness. A few months ago, I legally got married to the loveliest, kindest, sweetest man I’ve ever met and he fills my life with more happiness than I ever could imagine! George Seemon is my fellow and I thought I should just let the world know.
George, I refused to wear a white gown and walk down an aisle but it would be a pleasure to make up for it in every way possible for the rest of our lives by being a corny wife.

For more corniness, please visit: www.dearestgeorge.com

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Das Din- a hindi kids book

So this book happened! Das Din, my first Hindi interactive book! Pridhee was a joy to work with and hopefully there will be more in the future too!
Available here: https://www.aliciasouza.com/products/dasdin

Thursday, April 13, 2017

A thank you.


If you told me a year back that I would be juggling a company, freelancing and still (kinda) leading a rather otherwise productive & normally social life, I would have told you to keep quiet and get me some chips. If you told me two years ago that I would love Instagram, enjoy posting and have a family of 60K people, I would have told you to go away but get me some more chips. And if you told me this little company would, in just over a year, hit it’s 5000th order, have an employee, a few contracts and steal hearts, I would have kicked you out to start a chips shop for me. And here I am, chip-less, with all of the above, drenched with love and happiness with the goodness that has passed my way. I don’t even know how to be more grateful so I can only do it with a gigantic big hug to the universe and love to every single one of you. For your kind words daily, the loving mails that truly bring a tear to my eyes, my team who support me through my stubbornness, and for making this possible! I never dreamt of any of this, so I'm kind of floored that I am this blest. I love you guys to the stars and back!