RAWR Bitches. Rawr.

RAWR Bitches. Rawr.


Today we touch base with Veronica Guzzardi – our “going for it” girl.

2014 saw V jump off the cliff and take on the full time artist’s life as an illustrator and merch artist, making her living from POD.

We check in to see what went on in 2014.

91 Illustrations on the Wall…

Lezley: How’s things?

Veronica: Yeah, things is good.

Lezley: Things is good? You ready to reveal things to us here?

Veronica: Yes, yes, I will reveal all of the things. Maybe not all of the things, but …

Lezley: We don’t need all of the things.

Veronica: … some of the things.

Lezley: Some of the things. I’m going to do it in reverse order, I think, from what I sent to you.

Veronica: Okay.

Lezley: Because I want to talk first about 91 illustrations?

Veronica: Yes.

Lezley: That’s amazing.

Veronica: I want to downplay this, because, yes, it sounds super-impressive, but some of them took like fifteen minutes to do, so …

Lezley: I don’t care.

Veronica: Okay, that’s cool. Thank you for being impressed. It made me feel good.

Lezley: Well, I am impressed, I am impressed, just because, I mean, that is totally a foundation of success, right, in art, is prolific production? The more you make, the more you can sell, the quicker you can be, the more profit there is on it. You know? It sounds very not-magical and arty, but that’s the bottom line, right?

Veronica: Right.

Veronica: Oh, no, I was just thinking about it, like, thinking about all the stuff that I did and just … Some of it was, I don’t know, actually a lot of it was for print-on-demand, so …

©Veronica Guzzardi

©Veronica Guzzardi

Lezley: Well, I wanted to ask. How much, like … Did you notice a difference, did you do … Two questions. A, were you on a schedule? Did you have in mind the idea, like, I’m going to put out one new piece a week on print-on-demand, or I’m going to put out something new every three times a month? Did you have a plan, or is this just how it all kind of happened? And, did you notice an upswing in sales and interest in audience, print-on-demand and social media, because you were producing so much?

Veronica: A couple of things happened …

Lezley: All the questions.

Veronica: Right, yeah. In terms of audience, noticing audience particularly online is really difficult to gauge last year because of what happened in January, where I ended up on Tumblr Radar.

Lezley: Oh, what’s that? I don’t even know who it is. I suck at Tumblr. I just suck at Tumblr, it’s true.

Sherlock & Tumblr Radar

©Veronica Guzzardi

©Veronica Guzzardi

Veronica: The three weeks during which Sherlock was showing in the UK, I drew a picture of Sherlock wearing a stupid hat, and it ended up on Tumblr Radar. It happened between midnight and 4:00 AM my time, and I’m getting ready to go to bed, and all of a sudden my phone starts blowing up, and I’m like what’s going on? It just … brrrr … likes and re-blogs and people are following me and … what the fuck is going on?

Lezley: That’s awesome.

Veronica: So, that happened, and it was a total anomaly, and it doesn’t have a whole lot of bearing on just about everything else that happened for the rest of the year, but it was very exciting at the time. That happened, and then everything went back to the way it was. My growth has been slow and steady. Post a thing, maybe get a new follower, that sort of thing. It hasn’t changed a whole lot, but it has changed a whole lot, because that happened.

As far as posting stuff to print-on-demand, on a regular schedule, my initial plan was, yeah, I’m going to do a new thing every week. Once I started doing shows and cons and stuff, all the stuff that I didn’t plan on doing at the beginning of the year, like, when I wrote out, here’s how 2014’s going to go …

Lezley: Right.

Veronica: … and none of that stuff was involved, because I didn’t think I was going to be able to do it. Then I did it anyway, because, that, yeah … I stopped posting stuff to print-on-demand third quarter. I checked my records. I didn’t do anything in third quarter for print-on-demand, and my sales tanked. So, yes.

Lezley: Definitely connected, so it’s …

Veronica: Absolutely.

©Veronica Guzzardi

©Veronica Guzzardi

Lezley: You got to keep breathing life into the bellows kind of thing.

Veronica: Yeah, and they tell you that. CafePress is really explicit about that. They’ll tell you, you need to post, in order to keep your score up, they score you based on this set of criteria, and one of them is you need to be producing regular content at least, like, once every three months or something like that?

Lezley: Okay.

Veronica: Which, you know, that should be super-easy.

Lezley: Yeah.

Moar Otter

Veronica: If you’re kind of committed to making that happen. In that quarter where I didn’t do anything, it was the first time I’ve ever seen my score drop, because I just fell right off, and I’m like, oh, I haven’t … I’ve been so, kind of … I was doing Art Market, and I was doing Sherlock con all at the same time, and I was just learning about resin, and that was what I was focused on. Then all of a sudden, my score dropped on CafePress, and I’m like, oh, God, I got to post anything.

©Veronica Guzzardi... I LOVE this.

©Veronica Guzzardi… I LOVE this.

Lezley: Yeah, right, because that’s not print-on-demand. All the resin stuff is physical, shipped products.

Veronica: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Lezley: Hmm, okay.

Veronica: Yeah. That was such a lark, and I got so obsessed with it.

Lezley: But that’s good. That’s quality.

Veronica: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah, and it’s fun. Yeah, I’m really glad I went on that lark.

Lezley: Well, they’re really cute.

Veronica: Well, thank you.

Lezley: More otter. Otter. More otter. I felt like such a fucking nagging ass. Everywhere you turned on social media, “More otter! More otter!”

Veronica: Oh, no, dude, I thought it was hilarious.

Lezley: I want one of those so bad.

Veronica: They’re, like, one of my guys. Otters are one of my, you know, like, the owl is one of my guys? The otter is also one of my guys, so he’s definitely in line. That’ll happen, it’s just … Right now, this is your otter right now. He’s so cute.

Lezley: I have hope for him. He’s cute and little. He’ll be mine. He will be mine.

Veronica: Oh, yes, oh, yes, he will be mine. But, yeah, I got to make an investment in some equipment there first, because …

Lezley: Like what?

The thing about resin…

Veronica: Resin is … It’s a really expensive hobby.

Lezley: Yeah?

Veronica: You can either do it where you just pour stuff into a mold, and

Mooncats ©Veronica Guzzardi

Mooncats ©Veronica Guzzardi

everything’s full of bubbles, which is basically what I did with the cats and the bunnies and all of that, and it’s fine. It actually kind of looks neat, like, they look a little bit like soda, but as I get into it and learn what all the cool kids are doing, how they get the bubbles out, you need an air compressor and a vacuum chamber and all of that stuff. I want to do this thing with glow-in-the-dark stuff, and that’s really expensive. I want to do quality, and if I want to do it with quality materials, then I got to actually do the production with quality in mind.

Lezley: Right, right.

Veronica: I’m working on that, but that’s part of my thing now. That’s just become another thing that I’m doing, because …

Lezley: Revenue streams …

Veronica: Yeah, because it’s really exciting, and it makes me excited. Bringing them to Art Market and having the little tower of things, and having little kids go … and having adults do that, too. It’s like the best thing ever.

Lezley: Well, I can see it. Look at you, look how passionate you are. I mean, I’m sold, literally.

Veronica: Right.

Lezley: Right? I totally get it. I love them. I love them.

Veronica: I’ve always wanted to make toys. That’s been …

Lezley: What about … Is it all clear resin, or is there opaque resin? Then if it’s opaque, do you have to paint them at that point? That’s a lot of process.

Veronica: It is, but …

These are my resin figures from Veronica... all snuggled up with Toothless.

These are my resin figures from Veronica… all snuggled up with Toothless.

Lezley: They’re all handmade.

Veronica: Every step of it is really, really fun and fascinating, and it’s so messy. I took over our dining table for months. For months, we were eating at the coffee table, because I just took the whole thing over. It was my resin studio.

Lezley: It was all resin.

Veronica: By the way, Brad is such a good guy, because he’s been so …

Lezley: Is this your man? The dude?

Veronica: Yeah, he’s just so tolerant of everything that I’ve done all year. It just exploded all over the living room.

Lezley: Really?

Veronica: My whole world is just, it’s a mess, everything is a mess, and he’s been so great.

Lezley: Big thank you blowjobs. Come on.

Veronica: Yeah, all the time, and he said “thank you” for that repeatedly.

Lezley: Oh, did he? Okay.

Veronica: Oh, yeah. He thought that was hilarious.ThankYouBJ

Lezley: We should make a card, or little reminders, little stickers, magnets, “thank you blowjobs: for a job well done.”

Veronica: Yeah.

Lezley: Well, you’re welcome, Brad.

Veronica: Right?

Lezley: I understand.

Veronica: This is the other thing that’s good about face-to-face is when I make that “yeah” sound, you can actually see my face, and it’s not …

Lezley: It’s so much better. It’s true. “Yeah.”

Veronica: “Yeah.” Anyway …

Lezley: Well, that’s awesome. That’s good.

Veronica: Right. What else did you ask me just now? You said, oh, about prolific-ness?

Lezley: You pretty much covered it. There was definitely a connection to sales, and sales dropped when you stopped submitting, posting and submitting work, but then there was the weirdness with the Sherlock thing. I mean, that’s cool. What do you think you took away from that? How many did you keep that were active, because that’s a weird thing with social media when you get re-tweeted or re-blogged or whatever, by someone really popular. There’s a flurry of excitement, but then how many people actually stay engaged? You know what I mean?

Tumblr is weird

ScaryFishVeronica: Engagement on Tumblr is so weird.

Lezley: I don’t get it, and I’ve talked to a couple people in the group, who are just, like, we don’t … and I feel old. Honestly, I feel like I’m too old for Tumblr. I don’t get it. What are the kids doing? I can’t even really talk to anyone, and it’s not about talking. It’s about sharing and moving on, kind of thing, you know?

Veronica: I feel like, there seems to be two different approaches to Tumblr, and there are probably more. This is just my observations. Being involved in Sherlock fandom … It’s young women. It’s like teenagers and twenty-something women. They handle social media really differently than I do. There’s a lot of disclosure. There’s a lot of over-sharing that I remember doing, like, I had a blog when I was nineteen, like, a blog as in, like …

Lezley: Remember those?

Veronica: I posted HTML pages, one after the other, back in the olden days, when there wasn’t … I had a blog before Blogger was a thing.

Lezley: Wow.

Veronica: Point being, yes, I did over-share on the Internet. Thank God that’s all gone, and it’s not on the way back either. I’m not a teenager, so I don’t do that, and so I can’t engage with that. It would be weird and creepy if I were to do that, so, yeah, I can’t really get in there that way. I can’t make friends on Tumblr that way, but I have made friends on Tumblr with people who are kind of closer to my age. I shared a hotel room with a friend of mine who I met on Tumblr.

Lezley: Oh.

©Veronica Guzzardi

©Veronica Guzzardi

Veronica: That was cool, and there’s overlap. There’s, for some reason, Sherlock people and shark people are kind of in the same group. There’s an overlap there. I don’t know why, but those are the people that seem to be sticking. Every time I do sharks, they get really excited, so that’s weird.

Lezley: Nothing to offer to that.

Veronica: I know.

Lezley: I’m, like, okay.

Veronica: I’m not sure I’ve got a reasonable way to explain strategy for Tumblr other than post a lot of stuff all of the time? Tag it well and hope somebody loves it, I guess?

Lezley: Tag it. Yeah, well, it just sounds like, do what you really like, and hopefully people will find you who also like those things.

Tiny Originals

Veronica: Right, yeah, so, I mean, there’s that. Also, the other thing that made me prolific was every time I had an Art Market, I would stay up until, like, one o’ clock in the morning the night before, painting little tiny paintings.

Lezley: Oh, my God. How big was the paintings? Oh, so adorable.

Veronica: It’s like three-inch squares. I like these for sharks.

Lezley: How long? How long would it take?

Veronica: Thirty minutes.

Lezley: How much would you sell them for?

Veronica: Fifteen dollars.

Lezley: Okay.

Veronica: I have two of them left. I think I did, like, six or eight of them over the course of a year. I did all right.

Lezley: Tiny original art. Did you make any prints of them?

©Veronica Guzzardi

©Veronica Guzzardi

Veronica: I didn’t, because they’re real small, and I’m not a very good painter, either. I mean, I’m learning. It’s a small investment. It’s fun, but they’re very impressionistic. They’re not very much, they don’t fit with the other stuff I’m doing other than … I used to paint a lot. I used to paint oils when I was a teenager. I don’t know how my parents let me do that, but anyway, yeah, I used to paint all the time, and then I stopped because I moved into apartments, and it was messy. Now, I’m starting and learning how to paint all over again, and it’s weird, but they’re too small to make prints out of. I might make a print out of the octopus, though. I just have to figure out how to photograph it.

Lezley: Well, that’s big. Right? Well, scan it. Don’t photograph it. Scan it. Do you have a scanner?

Veronica: I do. It’s not big enough. The octopus is 12 x 12, and my scanner is 11 x 17.

Lezley: It doesn’t matter. That’s okay.

Veronica: Yeah? Even to sell it together?

Lezley: Well, you don’t even … You could photo-merge it in Photoshop. That’s how I do … For four years, I scanned all of my strips into pieces and then just photo-merged them.

Veronica: Really? How big were you working?

Lezley: I was working 9 x 15? No, no, that’s 20. I was working 9 x 20.

Veronica: Wow. I didn’t realize they were so big.

Lezley: Yeah, it’s the freedom of movement for me when I was painting, because they’re all analog. It’s all paint and ink, and I found, to get the line quality that I wanted, I needed to have it big-ish.

Veronica: Fair enough. Cool.

Lezley: I’m working on … I’m scripting right now for a new book. I want to work in double-page spreads, and so I’ve been lying in bed doing math, to try and figure out how big the paper has to be to work in double-page spreads. I figured it out. I have to use 18 x 24, actually stretch 22 x 30 watercolor paper, and then tape it down to 18 x 24 to work on a double-page spread for a 6 x 9.

Veronica: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Lezley: Then scan it in four pieces, probably.

Veronica: Nice.

Lezley: I know, right? There’s probably a better way, but I don’t know what it is. Everyone’s like, work digitally, but I don’t want to …100monsters15

Veronica: It’s just got such a different look. It’s like these monsters that I’m working on, if there’s one rule with them, it’s do a hundred of them. Well, there’s two rules. Do a hundred of them, and do them all in real media.

Lezley: Nice.

Veronica: And that’s it. Because it’s different, and I get really reliant on this situation. I really miss working in real media. I miss having stuff. Working digitally is great …

Lezley: Yeah, I know. Physical work. Physical originals.

Veronica: Having a stack is just delightful. “Yay, I’m doing a thing.”

Physical inventory and book-eating rats

Lezley: I know. I originally thought of it, doing all the pages, and actually stretching the watercolor paper, but then I couldn’t even conceive of there being a hundred stretched watercolor canvases in my house. Do you know what I mean? They would be physically in my house. I’m like, no, no, it’s got to be single sheets of paper. Where do you store your art, because when it goes to print, it’s not like, you know what I mean?

Veronica: It doesn’t evaporate. You still have to …

Lezley: It doesn’t evaporate. Yeah, right.

Veronica: I’m at the point where I keep eyeballing the commercial rentals on craigslist, being like, well, you know, I could get a hundred square-foot office and just put some racks, and then I wouldn’t have to keep this stuff in the house, you know?

Lezley: I know. I know.

Veronica: That would be a thing. I’m not there yet, but maybe.

Lezley: I have just encountered … All my books are in my garage, okay, so, great … except we have mice now in the garage.

Veronica: Aw, that’s the worst.

Lezley: And I don’t know whether they’re sleeping in my books.

Veronica: Yeah.

TealuprightlayersLezley: I’m not willing to check yet. It’s cold out there, so I don’t want to know. I’ll find out in spring, and if we’re still good, I’m going to move them inside the house. Right now, I just keep praying to the mice gods that, just, I don’t know, find something else to use.

Veronica: Yeah, that’s funny, because that happened to us. We have rats, and our garage is off the house, it’s down on the lower part of the property, and, yeah, we got rats. We had stored a whole bunch of books out there, stuff that we weren’t sure we were going to keep, you know? Let’s put it in a box and put it away for six months, and then we’ll go and reexamine whether or not we can either sell give-away or throw out this stuff. The rats got in all the books.

Lezley: Hey, I’m thinking that’s not good news for me.

Veronica: I’m sorry.

Lezley: It’s okay, it’s okay.

Veronica: Maybe your mice are less ambitious.

Lezley: I don’t know. They chewed through the rubber, like, the actual plastic recycling box corner to get in to just the recycling … Anyway, look at us. What are we doing? We’re talking about fucking mice in our books in the garage. All right.

Veronica: It seems to happen a lot.

Lezley: We need to get back on track.

Veronica: Yes, good. Sorry.

Lezley: No, that’s my fault. I’m the one that brought up the books and the garage. Everyone think good thoughts about the mice not eating my books, though. That’s … yeah, and the new ones …

Veronica: But it was about storing stuff.

Lezley: It was about storing stuff.

Veronica: Making physical work.

Lezley: I mean, it’s a legitimate thought. There are things that they don’t teach you about when you’re like, oh, by the way, you’re going to have a house full of art until you sell it, and if it’s for print, it’s not …

Veronica: Definitely when I lived in an apartment, that was definitely the appeal of going digital.
Lezley: Yeah, for sure.

©Veronica Guzzardi

©Veronica Guzzardi

Veronica: Being in college and not having to move at the end of every semester with a half-ton of paper was kind of one of the things that was nice about working digitally.

Lezley: It’s true. It is nice, but I think there’s something special about an original piece of analog art. I love it how …

Veronica: All my digital stuff comes out better when it starts physical.

Lezley: Yeah?

Veronica: Things that are based on physical sketches, that I scan and then do, even if I’m doing it in Illustrator with my vector so that I get obsessed about, they still come out better if they start out with a drawn line.

Lezley: Interesting.

Veronica: Your mileage may vary, or whatever, but that’s been my experience so far.

Lezley: Hmm, interesting.

Veronica: Yeah.

Lezley: Makes sense.

That’s a wrap on V’s 2015 interview part I – check out Part II and III coming up in the next couple weeks!

For those interested:

  • Part I – Sherlock / Tumblr engagement / making resin toys
  • Part II – getting a job / Jim Henson / developing a drawing discipline
  • Part III – Patreon / POD / Zazzle changes / Emily McDowell & resistance to licensing
  • Part IV – Kickstarter / more revenue streams / website shenanigans & html code

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