Ep.203: On getting clients with Jarom Vogel

By Iva Mikles •  Updated: Sep 23, 2019 •  Interviews

Hey, guys! In this episode, I am chatting with Jarom Vogel, who is an illustrator and programmer. He is well known for his colorful illustrations and has worked with clients such as Apple, Disney, Procreate, Spotify, Pepsi, Adobe, Nobrow, HarperCollins, Skillshare, and others. Enjoy!!

Get in touch with Jarom

Special thanks to Jarom for joining me today. See you next time!

All artworks by Jarom Vogel, used with permission

Episode Transcript

Iva Mikles  

So welcome everyone to the next episode of Art Side of Life. And I’m super happy to have Jarom here. Hi.

Jarom Vogel  

Hi, good to get to be here. Thanks, Iva.

Iva Mikles  

Yes, thank you so much for joining us here because I always love to like, check out your art on Instagram, super colorful and positive. So I’m

Jarom Vogel  

super excited to do this.

Iva Mikles  

Oh, so cool. And like for people who maybe don’t know your art, and of course, I will show it here like in the corner? And what is your specialty? And if you can tell us a little bit more like, what do you focus on mainly these days?

Jarom Vogel  

Yeah, so I do. It’s a little bit hard to describe, but it’s kind of like, sort of cut out type of art, but but digitally, so like really strong shapes with colors and textures. And then I just tried to do like really graphic, it’s like almost more towards the graphic design side of things in some ways, but kind of just fun characters and stuff like that. And then what I focus on these days, I mean, mostly still, that kind of thing, but just tends to be a lot more for clients and a lot, a lot less for personal work these days, which which is great, but and then I’ve been doing some code stuff as well, which is kind of fun, just mixing that with my art. And that’s been really exciting.

Iva Mikles  

So how did you get to all of these? Did you start with graphic design? Or you were like, Okay, I’ll just do an illustration or How was your journey to this point.

Jarom Vogel  

I mean, like, I’ve always loved drawing, like, I think, as probably most people on here, have said, but like I took art classes all through high school. And it was like my senior year of high school. Actually, the year before, I was in an AP art class, which is like a advanced art class thing in the US. And I took the AP art test and just failed it so badly. And I had been doing all of these like rendered things like kind of realistic type of drawing and then like a bunch of abstract stuff. And I think partly I just didn’t have a good focus. So the next year, I took the, like the same class, but I did sort of the 2d design test instead. And just completely changed my style. I had come across some artists who were doing like paper cutout artwork. And it just came so naturally to me, when I started doing that. I was like, Oh my gosh, this is like a breath of fresh air. Like you don’t have to do everything realism. Like, honestly, I’ve just been always so bad at realism, like the rendering and the Yeah, so I guess I kind of started there. And then in college, I sort of did the same thing, but with masking film and acrylic paints, which was very tedious. But I’d like cut out the shapes with an exacto knife, and then fill in the colors with acrylics and then eventually sort of mature in Illustrator phase and and then got to like Photoshop, and now procreate is what I’m using now. But yeah, it’s all kind of the same sort of process, though, to some degree where it’s like big shapes with sort of gradients and colors in them. I guess I should say I also majored in illustration in college. Yeah, I actually studied dentistry first, though, and

Iva Mikles  

it turns with a different direction. So. So Dentistry was like, because you can focus on it on high school already. Can you do? That was college right?

Jarom Vogel  

That was college. Yeah. So that’s when I got to college? I don’t know. Am I skipping ahead on the question? Yeah, it’s

Iva Mikles  

all good. It’s like natural flow, right?

Jarom Vogel  

Yeah. So yeah, in college, I, like my school didn’t have a pre dental major. So I was planning on being a dentist. But they say you can major in whatever you want, as long as you take these pre dental classes, you know. And so I was like, Well, I want to major in art. So it’s just doing the illustration major, but actually taking all of the dental like science classes on the side, which, which was so much work. And but I think I kind of enjoyed being an enigma on both sides. So like, yeah, exactly. So it’d be like, Oh, well, I’m actually an art student, and they want to just be floored, like, what? And then kind of the same thing and in art classes, but eventually, I decided, I don’t know, I just realized that I would hate actually being a dentist and kind of came to this realization that like, wait, I can actually do art as a career and and like, why would I not do that? If I can, you know, yeah, yeah, it was it was a big decision. And it was scary, but I’m just so glad that I did that. And when

Iva Mikles  

you were actually deciding like on the also the art style and the illustration direction, were you thinking like, Okay, what would be like my client base or the you know, because the certain ArtStyle have using certain areas, right, the animation or publishing or basically why did you decide it for these like, to the cattle design or like, basically more simple shapes?

Jarom Vogel  

Yeah, I wish I had like, actually thought that through more than I did. But really, I think I just did it because that’s what I enjoyed doing. And that’s what I felt like I was good at. I did kind of want to do children’s books, and I still want to do more of that than I am now. But it’s You’re just getting into the, I think it’s just a matter of doing what you like. And I know there’s been like a lot of talk about style. And there’s kind of this hashtag going around on Twitter about your four styles. And I think a lot of students especially really worry about finding a specific style. And I don’t think you need to worry about it so much, or planet, as long as it’s something that you enjoy doing. And you feel like you’re passionate about I think that’s going to show through, and then people will respond to that. Yeah, yeah, for

Iva Mikles  

sure. Especially, because it’s like, you see so many. And of course, especially on social media, people will tell you like, yeah, you have to have a consistent style, because people get confused. They, they don’t want to follow you, and so on and so on. But yeah, social media following and the client, it’s like, do different things. Right. So

Jarom Vogel  

yeah, it really is. It’s a it’s a weird thing. And I mean, I think you do need to have some, like, you need to be able to show that you can consistently work in a style. But that doesn’t mean you have to limit yourself to one style, right? Like, I think when you’re working with a client, they want to be able to look at your work and expect you to produce something like what they are seeing. And but if you have a few styles, I think that’s also just fine. As long as you can kind of consistently do that same thing if you need to. Yeah, so

Iva Mikles  

how many pieces would you say like maybe like, Okay, this to show the consistent art style 10 100? Or like something on the landing page and the website or

Jarom Vogel  

at least 1000? Yeah, no, I think probably like three or four have a specific style. I mean, I’m not I’m not a very good example of this, because I really think I only have like the one style, more or less. But I think just enough to kind of show maybe a little bit of variety within that style of subject matter and things like that, just to show that you can do that and make things look consistent. So I mean, whether that’s three, four or five pieces, I don’t think you’d have to have 100 by any means, but just a few.

Iva Mikles  

And so when clients come to you now, do they refer to specific artwork? Like, oh, we really love this one? Or, you know, we would like to create something based on this collection?

Jarom Vogel  

Yeah, they do. I’m always a little discouraged when it’s like my older work that that happens with. So sometimes they’ll pull something from, like three years ago, and it’s like, I’m not sure if I can actually still work that way, you know. But But yeah, they will do that a lot of the time, they’ll kind of have like a sheet where they’ve pulled up a bunch of example, artwork that they that they want me to sort of mimic, or that they will say like, we really like this about this piece or this particular aspect or something.

Iva Mikles  

So for example, can you share something what they like? Or would they kind of mentioned about your art? Like?

Jarom Vogel  

Yeah, I’ve had a few people who really liked the way I do eyes in certain pieces. So like, I guess that is one thing that I do differently. Sometimes I’ll have like more detailed eyes, and then I’ll switch to like little dot eyes and some of mine, I think personally, I kind of gravitate toward the little.is because it just has sort of like a lego person quality or something, you know, where it’s like, you know that that thing where you can kind of project yourself onto the character better, the more like simple the character is. I think that’s something Scott McCloud talks about, but it but it’s like this idea that like if the less detail you put in a face, the more somebody relates to it. So I think I gravitated towards that. But I do I have had a few clients who specifically asked me to like do this other style that I’ve done, where it’s like a little bit more, more detail in the eyes. So probably some other things that I can’t think of right now. But that’s yeah.

Iva Mikles  

So if you can share with the with the audience, like what type of clients do you work with now so they can connect the, your artwork with where they can see you?

Jarom Vogel  

Yeah, sure. I just finished a project with Spotify for a page about podcasting. Trying to think let’s see, I’ve like blinking on this now. I’ve done some work for Disney and just a couple things for their Instagram for Adobe for procreate. I guess that’s, that’s one of my my biggest one of my favorite clients personally, they just have me do some things to kind of showcase the app.

Iva Mikles  

So you can tell the story how the app then kind of project even more through the illustrations, which is hard to actually

Jarom Vogel  

they’re really fun to work with. Because a lot of the time the the brief that they give you is just sort of like they might have something a little bit specific to showcase a certain feature or something. But mostly, it’s just like draw something cool that you like, and I think my art tends to turn out a lot better when it’s when I have more control over the subject matter and things like that. I’m trying to think about their clients. I should have written this down somewhere it’s on my website somewhere

Iva Mikles  

because it’s more like you don’t have to mention like specific clients. It’s like okay, like illustration or is it as you said, like app icons and characters and this type of thing for Disney I guess it was some like story image right. Alice in Wonderland, wasn’t it? Yeah.

Jarom Vogel  

I did run with Matt a meme a little while ago and they let me they let me choose a Disney villain to do and it’s like, obviously it’s front Sword in the Stone and Uh, yeah. So I guess the type of work that I’ve been doing, it’s a little bit like, just sort of stylized things like that thing for Disney or procreate where it’s just to show off things. Or I’ve been getting a lot of work for websites recently. So sort of like startups that want illustrations, like for marketing for their website, or then kind of a few advertising types of things as well. I did. I did a pitch for Pepsi recently. I still haven’t heard whether I got it or not, but it’s paid. So it counts, right?

Iva Mikles  

Yeah, that’s true. That was a gig, right?

Jarom Vogel  

Yeah, exactly. Yeah. So So kind of like advertising, a little bit of publishing. So I’ve done a few things for some magazines. Yeah, so started publishing, advertising, marketing type of that area, more than more than concept type of stuff.

Iva Mikles  

And if you think about like, because your artwork is simplified, as you say, also on the for the website, do you have to work sometimes in vector or do you always in like, procreate and pixel,

Jarom Vogel  

I try to always work in procreate and pixel, but occasionally, the client will want me to work in vector, which I’m fine with, because I did do that for quite a while in school. But it is a weird, it’s a weird experience going back and trying to sort of adapt to the way that I work now in vector, like, how did I do this? When I was in school? It’s just so different. I don’t know. But yeah, so So I don’t I don’t love working vector. But I actually recently found a Affinity Designer app for iPad. And so it’s a vector. It’s kind of like Illustrator, but an iPad version. And I just really liked the way it works. I feel like it works well, with the types of things I do. It does like clipping masks really easily and gradients. And you can like rotate the canvas around as you draw, which is really nice. Yeah,

Iva Mikles  

yeah. Because I also used to do a lot of vector design when I was in Lego, and then we were doing figures and all of that. But when you transition, then I kind of stopped using Illustrator as much so I’m more comfortable with the procreate in Photoshop. So it’s like, really fast. And then when you go to Illustrator, he’s like,

Jarom Vogel  

Yeah, and it’s like, yeah, like it’s a great program. I don’t I don’t want to say anything negative. Here, mental. It’s a mental shift. Right?

Iva Mikles  

Yeah. It’s more like what you’re used to, if you’re, of course, if you’re used to using Illustrator every day. I mean, there are so many awesome tools and the updates and everything then I like it as well, as you said, but it was more like the transition where you spend more time.

Jarom Vogel  

Yeah, I didn’t realize you’ve done work for Lego. That’s so cool. Yeah, I was there. earlier. That wasn’t even the name drop. Yeah. Many years.

Iva Mikles  

Yeah, there. Started as a graphic designer for the minifigures. And then I continue is like a concept artist and

Jarom Vogel  

like, LEGO fan.

Iva Mikles  

Yeah, they’re fun. Yeah, it’s a cool product. I totally agree. And yeah, a lot of

Jarom Vogel  

nice art. Yeah, definitely. Yeah.

Iva Mikles  

So if we go back, actually, to your, you know, experiences on the artwork, maybe we can kind of talk about like, how did you get your first client, right? So when you finish the school or even during the school, how was the transition for you? And basically, what did you do kind of like step by step guide?

Jarom Vogel  

Yeah, sure. So I finished school in 2015. And while I was in school, I was working as a. I was working as a developer at the time, actually at a company in Utah, which I’m from Utah, I guess I didn’t mention that. Living in Portland now. But yeah, I was working as a web developer, and then sort of transitioned into design. I can’t remember if that happened before or after I graduated. But I was always kind of in both a little bit. Yeah. So I was doing that, like you mentioned before, just sort of like did I have a part time job. So I actually worked there for about two years after graduating and sort of gradually shifted into part time until I cut it off altogether. And I’m doing full time freelance as of a little over a year ago. So but but as I was doing that, that full time job, I just started taking on freelance jobs on the side. And my first one was, they actually contacted me, I was for a payroll company in Utah called Cotopaxi. And they I think they had reached out to my school and asked if they had anybody that they would suggest, and one of my teachers had recommended me for the job just to do some t shirt designs for them. So be nice to your teachers. I guess. It was,

Iva Mikles  

it’s always good plan. Yeah, I would have just been nice to everyone. Right? Because then you never know.

Jarom Vogel  

Yeah, exactly. Right. And that’s, that’s such an interesting thing that was like, you really don’t know where these jobs are going to come from. Like, I’ve had them come through social media. But then it’s like, once you start getting out there, it just kind of comes from all over the place, you know? Yeah, that’s true.

Iva Mikles  

So now, as you mentioned, so he goes through school and when you had the part time job, it was more the like the coding, right? Or also the school

Jarom Vogel  

part time job, wasn’t that the school Sorry, that was that wasn’t very clear. The part time job was at some company in Utah. But I was I was doing coding and design. Okay, I sort of started more in coding moved to design but kind of stayed in both like One foot in each side and sort of leaned over to design more last Yeah. So

Iva Mikles  

So yeah, like PHP or like the JavaScript? You would?

Jarom Vogel  

I do. Yeah. JavaScript and HTML CSS, mostly. Yeah. Yeah. That’s true.

Iva Mikles  

Yeah. Because it developed so fast. I mean, I also studied coding, but then I found that like, it’s not really for me, but yeah,

Jarom Vogel  

that’s like, I still enjoy it as sort of a hobby, but I don’t I don’t think I’d want to do it as a career,

Iva Mikles  

I think interrupted as a hobby. Yeah. It’s like, the thing when you like, forgot one thought. And

Jarom Vogel  

I was like, Why is this not working? And then yeah, that’s yes. Always some stupid little thing where you like misspelled something. Yeah,

Iva Mikles  

I still need to try the the cool thing I forgot. What is it called? When you do the illustration? And then it kind of turns right when the parallax likes? Yeah, it looks

Jarom Vogel  

cool. Thank you. Yeah, I’ve been kind of like pushing that as a sort of a side project hobby thing for. I don’t know how a few years now. Yeah, I actually just did a workshop about that at lightbox Expo. So we both go into and try to figure out like, did I start doing this? And it’s like, I guess I’ve actually been sort of gradually improving whatever it is, I’m doing with that for a few years now.

Iva Mikles  

Oh, nice. So and then do you do this also, for clients or not?

Jarom Vogel  

I have a couple times, not very often, I would love to get hired for more of that sort of thing I love, like mixing those two sides of because Because doing code and doing illustration, use such different parts of my brain that it’s like, I can work on the illustration part. And when I’m tired, I switch to the code. And it just feels like a break is like this totally different way of thinking. And I actually really liked doing both of those. So

Iva Mikles  

it’s really cool. And I’m thinking about some other people when they’re more creative. And they will say like, it’s more relaxing to do the illustration and the code that would be you know, that very far.

Jarom Vogel  

Depends on how the code is going. If it’s going poorly, then it’s not relaxing. Yeah, when it works, it’s actually like, very satisfying. It’s like you do something and it works. And it’s just this sort of little dopamine rush or something, you know, it’s like, Yes, I’m, I’m the god of this computer. You know, like, Edward, it’s how I want. Yeah, right. Exactly. Yeah,

Iva Mikles  

it’s so true. And when you say this, like when Okay, so you went full time freelance last year, right? Or? Yeah. And so how was this transition for you? Was it easy to, ya know, like, set up all the entities? Because even though you took some jobs before, so you already had free on setup, I guess? Was it a lot of change for you?

Jarom Vogel  

Not as much as I expected. I finally switched to full time because we moved to Oregon. So because my wife is going to physical therapy school out here. And it was sort of like, okay, now is the time to just finally cut it off and see if I can do this as a full time thing and actually signed on with an agent a couple months before moving, I think so it was kind of this really convenient timing and transition, that we can just kind of do all of that at once. And it was really scary still, though, just this because it’s a big change, right. But it went a lot smoother than I expected. And I ended up wishing I had done it sooner. I guess if anything.

Iva Mikles  

Yeah, but it’s good. It’s always good time.

Jarom Vogel  

Yeah, and I’m trying to think like, I really don’t even remember it being that rough. It’s like moving was kind of hard, but that’s always hard. Yeah. It’s annoying. But yeah, I was a little scared to work by myself all day. But that hasn’t been nearly as bad as I expected to and maybe I just have the right personality for it that it’s like I’m kind of okay doing my own thing all day long and not talking to anybody but

Iva Mikles  

do you feel you are more introverted or extroverted? If you say like, you are okay, being in home, I guess it’s more intuitive,

Jarom Vogel  

I think more introverted, for the most part, I can kind of cross over the line when I need to. So I don’t know. It’s like, I’ve taken those personality quizzes and they usually put me like, somewhere in between. So so

Iva Mikles  

that’s good. So you can work on both worlds. So that’s, that’s perfect, convenient. And when you say also the agent, how did you find the perfect agent or someone who would fit

Jarom Vogel  

again, he actually contacted me I’d had a couple people reach out before and I wish I had handled it better, but I think I just sort of ghosted them because I was too scared to kind of move forward with that at the time. But he he contacted me just reached out and just asked if I wanted to hop on a call and I talked to him and it just seemed like it would be a really good fit and it’s actually been really great. So again, that was that was scary because signing on with an agent can be like if it’s a bad relationship it can it can be really bad. I mean, like any relationship right?

Iva Mikles  

Yeah. And then he takes percentage on the of the jobs he will bring to you and other jobs, which are maybe from Instagram or something like that. You have different agreement or

Jarom Vogel  

he does he does percentage of everything for the US right now. So yeah, and then a few clients that I already had I keep for myself, but Yeah, so which, which I was a little nervous about, but he’s done a really good job of like justifying that. Like, he gets me more money. He handles those those talks about money, which I always hate.

Iva Mikles  

negotiate the prices? Yeah. And everything. Oh, perfect. Yeah, exactly. Yeah. Because it’s tough in the industry, when you are like in, like starting out, and you’re like, okay, they want, for example, three illustrations. And you’re like, Okay, I have to ask when is going to be used? Or what is the location? And how should I set a price and all of that

Jarom Vogel  

I just, yeah, I just hate having those conversations. I hate doing that kind of thing. And then especially when you’re starting out, you just don’t know how much things are worth to. So like, people will ask you, how much do you usually charge? And it’s like, I have no idea. So you just kind of throw out a number. And then if they accept it too fast, then it’s like, oh, no, I should have asked for more, you know,

Iva Mikles  

yeah. Because also it depends if it’s like used on packaging or in advertising, or how much you know how much money they are going to make with it, or is it just like in a presentation or what is it right?

Jarom Vogel  

Yeah, exactly. Yeah.

Iva Mikles  

So do you have some tips about that? Or you would just suggest to people to get agent?

Jarom Vogel  

I don’t think I’d get an agent right away? I think you should just kind of have some experience with that. I wish I had better tips about kind of how much to charge and things like that. I mean, you’re worth more than you think you are. If you’re new, I guess that’s my advice. I Yeah. So you’ll get people who will reach out and ask you to like work for exposure and things like that. And of course, that’s that’s a bad idea. Don’t do that. Unless it’s I mean, unless you know, it’s going to be really, really incredible exposure. But I guess there are situations when it might be okay. But almost always, it’s not.

Iva Mikles  

Or maybe like a brand you really like and you want to have one or two jobs at the beginning. Yeah, sort

Jarom Vogel  

of like, make your kind of add something to your website to sort of establish your reputation.

Iva Mikles  

Yeah. So you have like, you can commission yourself. So to project so to tell a story. And then maybe if you have one or two real clients, that helps. So

Jarom Vogel  

yeah, exactly. And I don’t know, I still wouldn’t work for free, especially if it’s a big client, they can afford to pay you like make them pay you. Yeah, for sure. But yeah, I think just don’t be scared to ask for for as much money, as you’ve heard, you should ask for or at least close to that, because they’re going to tell you if it’s wrong. If they don’t, I don’t think I’ve ever had a client that I would actually have wanted to work with. Who is too scared away, because I asked for money. Yeah, if that makes sense.

Iva Mikles  

In Do you have ever, like, months or times when you feel like, okay, I don’t know, when the next client will come? Are you booked all the time?

Jarom Vogel  

I mean, I’ve been pretty lucky to have been booked pretty consistently. For the last year or two. I did have a bout a month and a half gap a few months ago, which was a little weird. Because I had just been I think I had like four projects I was working on at the same time. And then suddenly, they were just all over. That’s like, oh, no, what do I do with myself? Yeah, and I did, and but it’s also this weird thing where it’s like, wait, maybe like my work isn’t in demand anymore. And you start questioning yourself, you know, but yeah, I don’t think that’s it. I think it’s more that when when you’re working really hard. I think that kind of happens to a lot of people because you tend to have less time to sort of market yourself. As as you’re working on a lot of projects, and then you haven’t really like lined things up for that gap. So you end up with sort of this these like, really busy and then nothing and then really busy and then nothing.

Iva Mikles  

Yeah, that’s true this year, because it kind of can happen when you’re like Okay, so now I did all the projects for the clients like these, and maybe they’re no more like that.

Jarom Vogel  

Right. Exactly. Yeah. Yeah. So it’s quite interesting.

Iva Mikles  

So how do you then split your income streams? Is it mainly through the client work? And then you have also the Skillshare class? Right? Yeah. Something else?

Jarom Vogel  

Yeah. Mostly just those two. So I Yeah. Mostly commissions. So freelance Commission’s that have mostly been coming through my agent lately. And then I did the Skillshare. So like that, that month and a half gap that I had, I just decided to do a coding Skillshare class, because a lot of people have been asking about it. It’s like, well, I have time, I might as well do it. Now. I didn’t really expect to make very much from it. But it did. For the amount of time I put in it actually did really well. So I think I’d be interested in doing more of that kind of thing. And then I’ve done a few children’s books. So I’m starting to get some royalties from those as well. Yeah, but I think I think that’s about it. Unless there’s secret income, I don’t know about

Iva Mikles  

somewheres. So, but you are doing full time illustration, no more coding right now.

Jarom Vogel  

No, no, I think I’ve had a couple of requests about that sort of thing. And if it’s just coding with no artwork, I’m going to say no to that kind of thing, because it’s just not my interests. You know, it’s like I don’t want to move in that direction.

Iva Mikles  

Oh, that’s perfect. Yeah. Because also like a lot of people when they are just deciding about like artistic career and being a freelance, you know, you imagine something like, oh, I always have to have something on the on the side, or I cannot afford to go to restaurants or a you know, you have to always leave like very, like super frugal or scrappy. Yes. So I don’t know how do you feel about this type of topic?

Jarom Vogel  

Well, I mean, there’s sort of the I think it’s kind of the myth of the starving artist, you know that. Your parents always say like, oh, you should be a dentist. Don’t be an artist. Yeah. But I’ve done actually really well. I’ve made a lot more money since I started freelance full time than I was making when I had the day job. So for whatever that’s worth, and I think I’ve been really lucky. So I mean, not everybody is going to have that same experience, probably, but but you can, you can do it. Like it’s a totally viable career. I think the thing that is scary about freelance is, it’s inconsistent. So like, you might make a ton of money one year, and then just for whatever reason, you don’t make as much the next year. So you do have to be a little bit more cautious with your money, I think. But it’s actually been really good so far for me. So I’ve been really pleased with

Iva Mikles  

Oh, nice. So you didn’t have to think like, oh, I have to move to a cheaper place to for a start and these type of things.

Jarom Vogel  

Yeah. Well, I mean, they’re just a little bit of a cheapskate anyway. So maybe it’s just that I already live that way, regardless of whether I’m freelance or not,

Iva Mikles  

yeah. Because then people think, you know, like, when you go when you’re starting out, so either moving with a parent, or going to some super cheap place, like you go at least to like Thailand, or you go to Bali, or like Eastern Europe somewhere. I don’t know where.

Jarom Vogel  

Yeah, exactly. No, we have not had to do that. So yeah, we’ve been really lucky. But that actually sounds kind of fun though. The Thailand thing or something. So if you can get good internet, you can, you can make it work.

Iva Mikles  

You should you guys try it. But as you said, like she used to studying then it’s probably tricky. But

Jarom Vogel  

yeah, maybe consider that. Yeah. Yeah. Because

Iva Mikles  

I heard that there is like pretty good entrepreneurial community, you know, in like, especially Thailand and Bali. So

Jarom Vogel  

kind of like Central America and things like that, too. Yeah, exactly. sounds really nice. I don’t know.

Iva Mikles  

So yeah, so maybe, yeah, as you said, in the next few years, right. Yeah, exactly. Yeah. And if you can describe maybe a little bit of your process when you’re working on a client project, like, how does it look like maybe the sketches or the, you know, the color the work? So if you can tell us a little bit more of these like steps of the process? Yeah, well,

Jarom Vogel  

I mean, so when I get a client, like a new client project, I usually try to start off with a phone call, first of all, just to sort of talk through things as much as possible, because you want to get kind of aligned on the idea, or as closely as you can before you start on the sketches. Because I’ve gotten into projects where you just go back and forth on sketches forever, and they just don’t like what you’re doing. And you’re like, Well, what do you want, you know? So I found that that’s super helpful. And then I’ll tend to send like 123 thumbnail images, usually, I’ve done three. But lately, I’ve been thinking like, well, actually, I can just start with one thumbnail a lot of the time, if they’re okay with that, and then they let me know if they want something else. And that saves a lot of time, which is, which has been really nice. And then they choose one and then I spent a really long time kind of blowing up that thumbnail sketch into a full sketch and just like really planning out all of my shapes, and just trying to make sure I get all of the detail worked out there. And then I’ll just from there, I just It turns kind of tedious. You know, I just use the lasso tool and kind of draw out all of the shapes block in the colors and then sort of spend forever tweaking them and till I like the way that textures and the colors are working. I think that’s about it. It’s not it’s not terribly complicated.

Iva Mikles  

And do you agree on the color scheme before you do the the color the work? Because I mean, it’s it’s possible to change but of course, it’s easier to agree or set the colors or they usually leave it to you or it depends on a project, I guess.

Jarom Vogel  

Yeah, it depends on the project. A lot of the time, they’ll give me like a few key colors to work from, but they’re usually pretty flexible about like, start with these colors. And it just kind of like you can have some flexibility within that though. Yeah, so that does happen. Sometimes I’ll do a color study and send it to them if it’s like really important that that the colors are what they want. But the problem is, a lot of the time I’ll do a color study. And I like how the color study turns out, but just kind of the way that I work with color. But it’s actually kind of hard to reproduce that on the full size one. I don’t know if other people have a problem with that. But these pens,

Iva Mikles  

I guess how much texture you use, right? Because if you use flat colors, you can everything thumbnail and also in the in the big image. But when you have the colors, like going through the other colors and the shapes, right,

Jarom Vogel  

yeah, exactly. So I’ll have like a lot of gradients and things. It’s really hard to kind of reproduce a gradient. Small. Yeah, I don’t know. Anyway, so. Yeah. So I don’t do color studies all the time. Mostly just if if it’s seems like it’s going to matter.

Iva Mikles  

Yeah. And then when you like, do the thumbnail sketch and then bigger sketch. Do you have these like, loops with the with the client, so you share it maybe through Google Drive or something like that? And well, yeah.

Jarom Vogel  

It depends on the project. Again, I mean, for bigger projects. My agent has an Asana board that he’ll set up, which I don’t know if you’re familiar with that was kind of like a project management thing. I use it every day. Oh, yeah. And it’s been really great. But I mean, When it’s a smaller project, usually a client’s or like now just send it over email. And we’ll keep it more informal. And I think that works a little bit better for small things, but big things, it’s actually really nice to have that thing to track. Like, if you have 100 different illustrations or something, just to make sure that you haven’t lost anything. And you can keep the sketches and everything in one place.

Iva Mikles  

Yeah, because they definitely like helping when you are kind of like, organized and many. Do you also tell them like, Okay, you have my maybe two revisions for the sketch, or you don’t limit this part.

Jarom Vogel  

My agent does have a limit, I don’t think we enforce it super badly. Unless they are sort of abusing that though. That’s usually like. But usually, I’m working with people who have worked with artists before. So they kind of get the idea, you know, or that they are artists themselves. Yeah, so usually, that’s not a problem. But we do have it in the contract just in case. It’s getting out of control. Yeah. So

Iva Mikles  

this is actually very good reminder, or the kind of note for people, like always have a contract when you’re starting with someone.

Jarom Vogel  

Because I have been on those projects where it’s just endless back and forth. And then it’s not in the contract. So it’s it’s kind of hard to say like, I’m sorry, but I’ve done five revisions on this thing already. Yeah, we need to be done.

Iva Mikles  

That’s true. That’s true, because then also there is a deadline, and all of that needs to be said. And do you also charge like health at the beginning? Or and then health at the end? Or do you just send the invoice at the end? Or I mean,

Jarom Vogel  

yeah, well, usually when I’m doing it myself, I just tend to charge at the end, my agent does try to get a half half of the commission upfront, and then half at the end of the project. It doesn’t always work out that way. But that’s that’s the goal.

Iva Mikles  

Yeah. Because I mean, normally the clients are normal human. But I heard from one girl recently when I met here, that she was like, Oh, I was doing this private commission. And then they told me that they never received it. And they sent me money. And I’m like, if they would send you money, probably they would chase after it. And then it’s just yeah. Oh, bad. And we’re like, yeah, that’s it. Yeah. So but I guess that happens also with the private commissions when just someone randomly right you like, Oh, can you draw me? And then

Jarom Vogel  

I always say no, to those. I’m too scared to do that kind of thing.

Iva Mikles  

Yeah. Because then I guess in those cases, probably, it’s better to do the 50%. At least, upfront. It’s not a company. So it’s, it’s more Yeah, it’s difficult.

Jarom Vogel  

Yeah, exactly. But even some companies that they just take forever to pay at, like, for some reason they have it in their contract. I was like, sorry, we take 90 days to pay you 90 days.

Iva Mikles  

Yeah, just giant corporation. I’m like, okay. Yeah. It’s like, what

Jarom Vogel  

about paying somebody takes 90 days? So that yeah, I don’t know. I don’t know why they do it. But usually, when it’s a company, they do pay eventually. So turns out, okay. Yeah.

Iva Mikles  

Finance department, like, oh, they work only on the contract. Like,

Jarom Vogel  

they only work every three months. Sorry. Well, okay.

Iva Mikles  

Actually, when you were mentioning also the, the art style and developing the art style, and you say those are the declines referred to the older artworks. So what do you feel like? What was the the main progress or how your art style changed over the like, past few years?

Jarom Vogel  

I think I’ve kind of simplified things a lot. So the way I was doing characters, when I first sort of started getting work, I think I put a little bit more detail into faces, a little bit more textures. And now I’ve sort of like, Come to this place where it’s like a little bit more about color and a little bit, just more simplified. Just characters. And honestly, this is something that I kind of go back and forth on though that it’s like, I want to push that texture more, I don’t know, it’s kind of a weird balance. And I find that I have to sort of kind of push myself to say like, Nope, you’re using that soft brush too much. You need to go back to something a little harsher to kind of like intentionally get that in there.

Iva Mikles  

Yeah. And do you have like, special inspirational boards, maybe on Pinterest, or like photography, or artists you always look for like, Oh, this is interesting.

Jarom Vogel  

I don’t have anything on Pinterest. But yeah, I just follow a lot of artists on Twitter and Instagram, mostly. And just so many so many people who are so inspiring out there.

Iva Mikles  

Yeah. And then when do you not when Where do you promote yourself? Mostly easy. Instagram, I guess. And then as you said, Twitter. And

Jarom Vogel  

I think mostly like when I’m doing my own personal promotion. Yeah. Mostly Instagram, I think and I’ve actually had pretty decent success with that. Surprisingly, I know a lot of people will do like the mailers with postcards or email lists and things like that. And I’ve I probably I probably should have done that, but I’ve never done that. And yeah, and then I feel like Twitter is for me a little bit better for networking and less for getting work. Like I have got I have gotten some work through Twitter, but it’s it seems just kind of the feeling I get is that Instagram people are looking more at your artwork and Twitter people are looking a little bit more at you as a person.

Iva Mikles  

Yeah, because a lot of times I don’t know if people even read on on Instagram well these days Yeah, like, just scrolling and there’s like, oh, this was this person, but if you have a specific style, they would just recognize it. And they’re like, Okay, yeah, I know these guy or

Jarom Vogel  

Yeah, exactly. And I never know what’s right in those captions, so I hope they don’t read them.

Iva Mikles  

Because he’s like, if you do new artwork, I was like, okay, new artwork.

Jarom Vogel  

Yeah, exactly. Oh, like, I always think of something like 10 minutes later, but but when I sit down to like, write that caption out, it’s like, just the deer in the headlights. Like, I cannot think of anything. So I just, I just end up doing like, emojis or something. She was like, I have no idea.

Iva Mikles  

Yeah, well, emojis also have, like, you know, stuff to say. So let’s go. Yeah. And do you have like a favorite thing to create? I guess it’s characters as well. And, but is there something like, Okay, this always have to come through in your artwork, or you don’t think like that?

Jarom Vogel  

I a little bit, I think everybody kind of has some go to things that they’ll draw. It’s just when you’re drawing for yourself. For some reason, I like drawing deer a lot. There’s a few of those scattered through my Instagram. I just think they’re, like, really beautiful and elegant animals, you know. And then people and plants I really like just kind of having nature and then sort of, there’s just this sense of adventure, you know, like, I want people look at my art and feel sort of like, happy and like some sort of exciting adventure and elegant. And I don’t know that I always get all of that across. But those are sort of the the ideals that I’m trying for. ends up being sort of outdoors. People, animals, maybe swords sometimes, because what can I say swords?

Iva Mikles  

Just cool. Yeah, they’re just, they’re just cool. Yeah. Because also, you have like a flow in your illustrations, right? At least like that was like my impression of your art, as well. When people are so like, fluid, then they’re like, action and interesting angles. So

Jarom Vogel  

yeah, I really like to get sort of that sense of motion and energy as well. And that’s, that’s something that’s actually kind of frustrating working with clients occasionally is like, the type of thing that I draw for myself tend to be like people in motion people doing actions. And a lot of times they want like somebody standing in a room, which, which I can do, but it just feels so so dead comparatively, you know?

Iva Mikles  

Yeah, it’s more static for sure. Yeah. I mean, the same is also with the toy design, right? When I was doing some, like, character design or something, everything needs to be like, more static. Of course, they are like images when they are in action. But you know, to show the outfield or how the toy would look like or the game, you know, then you do all the static characters.

Jarom Vogel  

So I guess I’d have to do like the turnaround and stuff like Yeah,

Iva Mikles  

exactly. But I mean, yeah. steps of the process, right.

Jarom Vogel  

Yeah, exactly. I mean, it’s all it’s all good. But yeah, when I draw for myself, I usually start out with sort of like some sort of squiggle and sort of try to turn it into a person because I really want to like, keep that initial gesture. Yeah. Of action line. Yeah. Yeah.

Iva Mikles  

So that’s the importance that first year yeah, because then you want the float.

Jarom Vogel  

And it just kind of gives it this energy. Yeah.

Iva Mikles  

And then you mostly work on, on procreate on. On the new tablet, I guess you have

Jarom Vogel  

the iPad Pro? Yeah, yeah, I do almost all of my work, unless somebody asks me to work in vector, or very rarely, if I have to work very large, sometimes I’ll jump over to Photoshop. But yeah, it’s always a little painful

Iva Mikles  

here. Because we procreate, you have like, what is the maximum 10,000 by 10,000? Or something like that?

Jarom Vogel  

Exactly. Yeah, I forget, it’s more that the layers get limited, the bigger the canvas goes. And so the way that I work is very layer focused.

Iva Mikles  

So so how will these decides usually you working or like, so you have been bonds of layers? And

Jarom Vogel  

right? I do, like 4000 by 3000 as sort of a standard or like fourth or three, somewhere between three and 4000 per side, usually, and that tends to give me enough layers for the types of things that I’m doing.

Iva Mikles  

And then it’s also like, good enough size for the client word.

Jarom Vogel  

Yeah. Yeah. Usually, I mean, sometimes it will be like, smaller on one side and bigger and the other dimension or something, but yeah, unless they specifically want it large. Usually, that hasn’t been a problem.

Iva Mikles  

Okay. Yeah. Because that’s what I was thinking as well like transitioning from Photoshop to procreate. Like, okay, then you’re very limited with the weed layers, but I mean, yeah, EVPs also, okay, for declined. What again? Yeah. So, yeah,

Jarom Vogel  

I do have some tricks, right. Like, I’ll, I’ll like share layers. So probably when I when I give layered files to clients, that’s just a disaster because they get it and it’s like, all kinds of things are actually on the same layer that don’t look like they should be, you know.

Iva Mikles  

Yeah, this will be fun to see actually.

Jarom Vogel  

Yeah, so it’s a bit of a mess. But nobody’s complained about it. So it works. Oh, good. Yeah, exactly.

Iva Mikles  

Yeah. And if you think about the normal day or week in your like, freelance life, how does it look like do you take weekends off? You know?

Jarom Vogel  

I try. I tried to take weekends off when I can. Like my wife really likes hiking, and so we’ll go especially Because Oregon is just so green and so beautiful. We’ll try to like go out and go on a hike a week or something like that. But yeah, regular day, it’s just sort of exercise, email, eat and work and then gas sort of repeat, you know?

Iva Mikles  

Yeah. So you usually structure your days that you have the creative part in the afternoons and the mornings, you do more the business size and the exercise.

Jarom Vogel  

Yeah, I do. I think starting out with exercise, I do think is a good idea as far as like leaving the artwork for later. I do usually do that. I don’t know if that’s actually a good idea. But that’s kind of the way that I attempted to do it.

Iva Mikles  

If you I mean, if it works for you, that’s perfect. It’s good.

Jarom Vogel  

Yeah, it’s been working. I think, ideally, people say to like, work first, like start drying first before you’re tired. And I think that’s probably a good idea. But it’s also like, my emails often tend to sort of stack up overnight, and then I don’t Yeah, anyway, I just tend to get sort of sucked into the administrative stuff early. And then.

Iva Mikles  

Yeah, you want to, like Sorry. So he’s not there. Exactly. Yep. Perfect. And then when you like, work, usually on the the client work, as you said, it’s like you had like four projects running at the same time? Or do you most of the time, also do something like, okay, one client within a week or a month? So you always want to get the same artworks? Or how do you then structure these that if you have four projects at the same time, you know,

Jarom Vogel  

it’s a little chaotic. I mean, I try not to have four projects at the same time. But it’s so frustrating when like, you’ll be working on a couple of projects, and then some, like dream project will come up. And it’s like, I can’t say no to this. So I’m just going to make it happen. You know, yeah. Yeah. So as far as structuring it goes, usually, I just kind of balanced them. And hopefully, they are sort of staggered. And when they get back to you, usually they’re a little bit flexible, about like, how long they wait between like updates. And I do try to be upfront that like I am working on a couple of other projects. So I don’t I don’t try to sort of pretend that they’re my only priority, you know, yeah. But yeah, just kind of keep a rolling list of deadlines and sort of whatever is most urgent I get to first you know,

Iva Mikles  

yeah, and then you do it, like, as you said, like, split the days and usually working also through the weekend.

Jarom Vogel  

Yeah, exactly. Yeah. Yeah, I should. I should work less on the weekends. Usually, I take Sundays off. That one I do a pretty good job of Saturday’s not so much.

Iva Mikles  

Yeah, I’m doing the same right now as well. Like, one day a week. I’m like, Okay, thank you. Oh, and then also, yeah, when you do like, at least I mean, the exercise every day helps

Jarom Vogel  

for sure. Yeah, it really does. Yeah, absolutely. Because, I

Iva Mikles  

mean, if you’re sleeping all day, then it’s just very difficult for the bag for everything. And yeah,

Jarom Vogel  

yeah. And I think it just sort of starts your day off. Right. When you exercise like mentally, it just kind of puts you in a good place. Yeah. And

Iva Mikles  

and do you also do meditation or some something like this?

Jarom Vogel  

Not really, now. I mean, I’m religious. So like, I’ll pray and stuff. But yeah, not. Other than that. Not a whole lot.

Iva Mikles  

So he’s more to Yeah, as he said, like, focus on yourself. So when you do either the prayers or something you’d like just to stop and observe the world for a second? Yeah.

Jarom Vogel  

And I think it’s sort of the same thing. So like, if you’re not religious, I think meditation is absolutely a really good way to kind of get that same sort of just kind of quiet moment, you know, like

Iva Mikles  

it because yeah, as you said, Sorry, that he did, he was more, you’re fine. The meditation was more like to focus on the breath. So if you are, you know, like, in a stressful weeks or days, some people like to do that in the morning, like, just five minutes when you’re like, Okay, focus on myself for a second. And then you can go on with the date.

Jarom Vogel  

Right, exactly. And I think that, that that and exercise are probably the best sort of mental health things for me where it’s like, you just have sort of some quiet time, some. I don’t know, whatever you call it, exercise time. Sort of like get your body up and running and things like that. I think that’s a good way to start.

Iva Mikles  

And do you also do some exercises for your hands, so you don’t get like problems with the breast?

Jarom Vogel  

Other than just kind of stretching when I feel a little stiff? Not really, I probably should have had much of a problem with it, actually. Which is nice.

Iva Mikles  

That’s good. Yeah, maybe it’s the exercise, you know, like when you do like, actually physical exercise, then it kind of connects with the priest. So I guess it’s only the people when they don’t do anything and just see the day and just like okay, drawing drawing.

Jarom Vogel  

Yeah. And well, part of it is probably that I’m not very good at just like sitting and drawing for hours. Like I’ll take breaks while I’m drawing and I think just giving yourself a rest break is also it’s also probably helpful.

Iva Mikles  

And if you think about like what you wish you knew before you started out in something like that the advice to young self?

Jarom Vogel  

Yeah, I think I was thinking about this and mostly just that it’s a viable career. I would just tell myself like you can do this like this is this is not, this is not impossible, and you need To be confident and just go for it, you know, like don’t don’t waste your time on other things just like it’s possible. And I think, I don’t know, at least for me, that was like such a revelation, you know? And, yes, I wish I had known that I wish I could have saved myself some of that anxiety when I was making those big decisions.

Iva Mikles  

Yeah, I was also super stressed. So yeah, you’re totally right. I totally agree. Yeah, yeah. And if you think about for the, like, a future, like five to 10 years of what would be your dream scenario, or maybe some projects you want to work on?

Jarom Vogel  

Yeah, I would. I mean, like, with clients, I would like to keep doing some of the things I’m doing now and also get into, like, fiction, children’s books. So the ones I’ve done have been nonfiction, which were great. But I think I’d be more interested in the fiction ones where I have a little bit more creative freedom. So some of that, and then just what I’m doing, but then I think along with the children’s book thing, I want to kind of push that code like I have this dream where I’d make kind of a, an interactive, like, digital pop up book, where it’s like, there’s there’s some aspect of it’s, it’s like, not a game, but sort of just these little interactive things. And it’s like this cool idea that I don’t know that I’ll ever actually have time for it. Yeah, but

Iva Mikles  

this will be cool. Yeah, I think it’s so some of those, like, when you like, click, and then then there is something happening and yeah,

Jarom Vogel  

for kids. Yeah. And I would like to do it in a way that it’s not completely about the gimmick, you know, like, I feel like, it’s like, I want to make it an actually good book that, that all that stuff adds to it rather than rather than just sort of being a distraction. And anyway, that’s the dream. I don’t I don’t know.

Iva Mikles  

Yeah, I think you should totally do that. I mean, it sounds great.

Jarom Vogel  

Yeah, I don’t know. I need to keep working on decoding stuff that.

Iva Mikles  

Yeah, maybe you can buy some script somewhere for it. And just Yeah, combination. But yeah, and if you have some last advice for people starting out, as you mentioned, that was the wish you knew, but kind of like yeah, summary before we finish.

Jarom Vogel  

I think, kind of along the same lines of the advice, though, like, I feel like the best advice I ever got, and I don’t even remember who told me this, but it’s sort of general is just the kind of idea of faking it until you make it you know, and not because you’re going to lie to people or like claim to be something that you aren’t. But I think there’s this tendency to be like, really, really nervous and not confident about yourself, especially when you first graduate. So I’ll see people putting like on their social media, a lot of the time things like aspiring illustrator or like student or you know, all of these things that are just sort of a detraction from them and sort of setting expectations for clients low before they’ve even had a chance to look at their work. And I think you need to just be confident and say, I am an illustrator, or a designer or something. And just, you might not believe it, but it’s actually pretty easy to make other people believe it. And you can do this, you know, you’re better than you think you are. You can you can make it work. Yeah,

Iva Mikles  

definitely. Yeah. Very good advice. So yeah, so people should like if you’re heavy, they’re aspiring artists just right artist.

Jarom Vogel  

Yeah. And I remember that being scary, but you know what, just get rid of it. Yeah. And

Iva Mikles  

share the art with the world, right? Because a lot of people are just scared to share it because they feel it’s not good enough. But I mean, we improve all the time. So you will feel like that all the time, I guess.

Jarom Vogel  

Yeah, exactly. Like your artists good enough. Like the world needs your art out there. Put it out there.

Iva Mikles  

Yes, for sure. Yeah, totally agree. And I’m super happy that you took time and joined us here and share all your experiences and knowledge. So thank you so much. Oh, thank you so much. You guys can hear the great Oh, thank you. And thanks everyone who joined today as well. And if you guys have any questions, just write it in the in the comments. And see you guys in the next episode. Bye

Hi, I am Iva (rhymes with “viva”). I am an artist, illustrator, founder of Art Side of Life®, and Top Teacher on Skillshare. Since 2009 I've worked as an illustrator, character designer, art director, and branding specialist focusing on illustration, storytelling, concepts, and animation. I believe that we are all creative in infinite numbers of ways, so I've made it my mission to teach you everything I know and help either wake up or develop your creative genius. Learn more about me.

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