We’ve always known that it really is possible to make living doing what you love. It’s not been a traditionally easy road to take, pursuing your passion and earning your keep, but the times, they are a-changin’. It’s becoming more and more possible to set yourself up for a creative and fulfilling career that you’ve built on your own terms thanks to platforms like WordPress, Wix, MailChimp, Facebook and Selz to name just a few. We’ve noticed a particular shift in the digital arts toward selling direct to an audience – these creatives – Kirill Chepizhko, John Sweeney, and Dan LuVisi – have been leading the way when comes to direct selling via social media.
These featured names are just a few artists that have ventured outside of their day jobs to create tutorials and products that are getting swallowed up by their enthusiastic following. If you’ve ever wondered who gets to come up with the incredibly detailed and beautiful imagery for cinema, animation and computer games, these guys are it. ‘Talent’ doesn’t even begin to describe what we’re dealing with here, so it’s no surprise that not only have they all cultivated social followings in the tens of thousands, but the people that do follow want to be able to know how to do it too. And so, in response to what their followers want, they’ve created a series of in depth tutorials that show you the techniques and tools that can help you put a professional polish on your art.
Rather than see each other as competition, they’ve seen the value in banding together with other artists like Anthony Jones, Vaughan Ling, Nick Grindaux, and Maciej Kuciara to grow a true community of digital artist on kiwijuice.net. We had a quick chat with the lads to get to know them better.
28, San Francisco, California.
Kirill Chepizhko has been working in the entertainment and gaming industry since 2010 with particular focus in concept art, visualization and look development.
26, Santa Monica, California.
John has worked for companies like Paramount Pictures, Into the Pixel, and Naughty Dog. More recently he worked as a concept artist for ‘The Last Of Us’.
29, Southern California
Dan is a teacher at Stan Winston School of Character Arts and Creator at Last Man Standing.
What is it that you guys love most about what you do?
KIRILL: I love doing concept art, visualizing things and making them look cool and I am happy to help aspiring artists and those looking to improve their work. My major in college was teaching and I still have a passion for sharing the knowledge. If my tutorials help artists in any way – it makes me happy.
JOHN: What I love most about art is the opportunity to tell a story.
DAN: I get to work on my own art all day. It took a while to get to this point, but it’s very refreshing.
Getting your name out there is probably the biggest challenge that many artists face – what tools or networks have you used to grow your following?
KIRILL: I am friends with quite a few people on Facebook and some other social networks and this has helped me spread the word. And then Kiwijuice.net is the best resource for quality tutorials online at the moment. The fact that the site puts together all of the amazing artists and keeps the pages updated is what made it so popular in the industry. I highly recommend to check it out to anyone who is looking for affordable quality tutorials from the top industry professionals.
JOHN: A lot of online networking for me has actually been done through Facebook. It’s the easiest way to directly reach someone.
DAN: I’ve used DeviantArt, ArtStation, CgHub, Facebook, and Twitter. I try to remain close with my following to keep them up to date on projects and news.
John Sweeney, The Last Of Us (concept)
Any words of advice to those looking to follow a similar path?
KIRILL: I have a lot of good friends hopping on the self-publishing tutorials train and I think it is one of the best things that happened to the industry this year. The quality of a lot of those tutorials and the pricing amazes me. I personally have bought so many already and I wish that they stayed affordable and educational. So anyone who is looking to get into this – please keep raising the bar and dont raise the prices . I also love this peer to peer way of distributing tutorials because it helps people understand that making the material for the tutorials and spending your time putting them together needs to be rewarded financially because what you are getting for free is the knowledge that an artist has been accumulating for all of his professional career and he is passing it on to you.
JOHN: The most important part of creating art is foundation. Mastering the basics of shape, color, light, and perspective should be first on the list of anyone interested in pursuing a career in the entertainment industry. My other advice would be to never stop learning, and don’t just look to one book or school of thought when educating yourself, and always be open to criticism.
DAN: Never give up. This business will eat you up and spit you out alive if you’re not strong enough. Moments of doubt will creep in and tempt you, but hold on and push through.