Ep.41: How to prepare your portfolio for Disney with Julia Blattman (jbdraws)

By Iva Mikles •  Updated: Oct 31, 2017 •  Interviews

Julia is an Academy of Art University graduate residing in Burbank, California. Since January 2016, she has been a Concept Artist at Disney Interactive where she assists in designing characters and backgrounds for Disney’s mobile games.

In her illustrations, she likes to be on the whimsical side; most interested in color, shapes, and storytelling. She has been recognized by the Society of Illustrators in New York, as well as participating for four years in Academy of Art’s annual Spring Show. Julia’s work has been published by Spectrum 23 Fantastic Art, 3DTotalPublishing “Beyond Art Fundamentals – A Guide to Emotion, Mood, and Storytelling”, and Simon and Schuster Publishing.

Julia has been a visual development artist on an unreleased animated short film with a group of passionate artists, a team called SOBA. The film had its first trailer debuting at CTN Animation Expo in November 2016.

Get in touch with Julia

Key Takeaways

“Never stop learning, keep it up! Even if you feel burnt out, it’s OK, don’t drop your passion, just keep it up!”

Resources mentioned

💡 Please note: We are supported by our readers. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn a commission at no extra cost to you. Thank you! For more info, please read our disclosure.

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

All artworks by Julia Blattman, used with permission

Episode Transcript

Announcer  

Creative, artistic, happy! That’s you. There are endless possibilities for living a creative life. So let’s inspire each other. Art Side of Life interviews with Iva.

Iva Mikles  

Hello, everyone and welcome to the next episode of Art Side of Life where it’s all about how you can turn your creative passion into a profession. My name is Iva, and my guest today is an illustrator and concept artist from Los Angeles, California. She attended the Academy of Art University in San Francisco, and right after graduating started her internship and later full time job at Disney Interactive, where she designs characters and backgrounds for Disney mobile games. She has been recognized by the Society of Illustrators in New York, as well as participating for four years in academia as art annual Spring Show. In her illustrations, she likes to be on a whimsical side, mostly interested in color shapes and storytelling. She has been a visual development artist and an unreleased animated short film sounder with a group of passionate artists and theme called soba productions. So please welcome Julia Blattman. And let’s get to the interview. So welcome, everyone to the next episode of Art Side of Life. And I’m super happy to have my guest here. Julia, please. Welcome Hi. Hello. I’m super happy that you took time from your busy schedule. And maybe we can start with your background. And like you can tell us a bit more about your childhood. And maybe something like did you have like a creative play when you were a child something which kind of enhance your creativity?

Julia Blattman  

Yeah, so I’ve been drawing pretty much all my life. I started at a super young age and like my parents are always super supportive of my hobby. And you know, it kind of all started with me drawing mermaids all the time. Like, I would stay up past my bedtime and like, make a little fork out of my bed and like, like draw mermaids with the flashlight. And I just remember being so excited. Like it was such an adrenaline rush just to, like draw all the time. And like my parents always got me art classes. And throughout middle school and high school, I went through a lot of different art phases are that I realized that’s what I wanted to do for a career. So I went to Academy of Art University and studied illustration. And yeah, that’s kind of how I got here. So

Iva Mikles  

perfect. And so how did the first conversation with your parents look like, oh, I want to take this professionally.

Julia Blattman  

Um, I think they already knew that I was super into it. So it wasn’t too much of a surprise to them. My cousin went to an art school and I just remember when I was like, eight years old, that’s what I wanted to do. Like, I was like, oh, I want to go to art school. And my parents were like, okay, yeah.

Iva Mikles  

And how did you choose the art school? Like, because there are a lot of them. And so what was your priority when choosing a school?

Julia Blattman  

Yeah, I just remember like, driving with my parents through San Francisco. And I would see all of the Academy of Art signs everywhere. And, you know, that’s the same school my cousin went to, so I was like, already pretty set on that. I did explore some other art schools, but I just feel like that one was the one for me, because I’m like, I really love San Francisco. So I wanted to be in the city. Now. I heard great things about it. So

Iva Mikles  

and you’re at home as well with your cousin sometimes or not.

Julia Blattman  

Um, she was a different kind of artists. She She was shader I believe that DreamWorks? Um, so she was more on the technical side. But

Iva Mikles  

yeah, and so why mermaid Why, what was the fascination with mermaid?

Julia Blattman  

Um, I think it honestly all started with the little mermaid just watching that every day on repeat as a little girl, then, like, I would just start making my own mermaids every night and I was just so excited like making them with my colored pencils. Yeah.

Iva Mikles  

How does it look like when you are applying in schools in your area? Because also in Europe, it’s a bit different. So did you have to prepare like a portfolio for your school? And

Julia Blattman  

I think I actually don’t think I had to, um, for some other schools I applied to I had to like put a portfolio together but um, yeah, I honestly don’t quite remember how it went with my school.

Iva Mikles  

And then how did you get to where you are now or which was like the biggest decisions or turning points you had to do? What happened after the school?

Julia Blattman  

Oh, yeah. Um, so this happened. I think a week before graduation, my friend who was interning at Disney Interactive here before me, recommended me for the next open internship position here as a concept artist. And so, you know, I took the interview, and then I had about a week to decide if I was going to move down here to LA and take the part. So I did and it was kind of crazy, like finding an apartment, but worked out.

Iva Mikles  

So and so when you did the interview for the internship. Did you do it through Skype? And

Julia Blattman  

yeah, it was through Skype. Yeah. So I had like, normal clothes on top. And then like pajamas on the bottom. Be comfy.

Iva Mikles  

With the coffee and TV. Yeah. And so when you were still like studying, and you were deciding where to go next, you knew already? Did you want to work with Disney? So that was your dream job?

Julia Blattman  

Yeah. Disney has always been like one of my goals for sure. Yeah, in school. For the first few years, I wasn’t too sure what I wanted to do. Like at first I was like, oh, I want to do children’s books. Then, like, I got really interested in the Art of Animation. And like, I just knew that’s what I wanted to do. So like, Disney Feature Film was one of my like, big goals. I never thought I would be working in mobile games, to be honest, but it’s actually pretty rewarding, like actually like it a lot. So.

Iva Mikles  

And so what did you prepare for the for the portfolio again, for this one? Or because people have always these questions? Oh, what should I put in Portfolio how to choose? And so yeah, how did you prepared

Julia Blattman  

I just took some tips from my like for my teachers and stuff. And I took like portfolio preparation classes in my final year. And like I learned about which work to include, like, it’s good to have a range of like finished works as an illustrator as well as, like, proving that you can do it in a way like showing your steps and like even showing, like the ugly phases to get where you are in the final product. So yeah, and then just having like a wide range of like characters, the background. And it’s also good if you can show that you can like, specialize in something in particular, but also can be like, diverse in what you can do, like have a good range.

Iva Mikles  

Perfect. And so when you were studying or when you were still growing up, did you have a mentor or someone who inspired you?

Julia Blattman  

Oh, I like always had friends that always inspired me. Like I try to surround myself with people who are better than me all the time. I had like really great teachers and my director of illustration Chuck Pyle was always just so supportive and always like pushed me to do my best.

Iva Mikles  

Perfect. So what was the best advice you ever received?

Julia Blattman  

Oh my gosh, um, I think it was from Chuck Pyle. And he said to never stop being a student just like, always stay hungry, and never settle for where you’re at right now. Because then you’ll just never improve really. And just constantly keep learning.

Iva Mikles  

Yeah, so even if you are in certain level when it’s like, okay, my art is good, but still Yeah, to improve. Yeah, exactly. Yeah. Perfect. And I took that to heart. And what is your take on you know, like, some people have different approach on the learning, you know, like, you have like strengths on one side, and then maybe weaknesses on other things, like either backgrounds or characters or whatever. So do you try to build on the weaknesses, or just Oh, yes, your strengths. So what what kind of, you’re

Julia Blattman  

kind of both like, I definitely know my weaknesses. And I try to, like, make up for that. Like, I know that. Like, characters are my strongest suit. So I’ve been going to like figure drawing workshops and just starting to, like, relearn the basics, you know? Yeah, but I also try to like, work in my comfort zone every now and then, you know?

Iva Mikles  

Yeah, so you’re working on both at the same time?

Julia Blattman  

Yeah, yeah.

Iva Mikles  

Okay. Okay. That’s cool. So yeah, and what is your kind of like an idea or vision or something which always comes through your work something which you can always see?

Julia Blattman  

Oh, I’m always trying to go for like a whimsical vibe with my work. I’m always like, super interested in lighting. Like, that’s just something I’ve always been kinda like incorporate with my work is like interesting lighting patterns and stuff. Also colors like, I was probably too colorful, but

Iva Mikles  

so and now what do you are inspired by? Because you talked about the light and colors around you. So maybe what is the main inspiration? Or how do you combine your inspiration? Or maybe what is also the weird thing which inspires you?

Julia Blattman  

Oh, yeah, sure, um, to be honest, like, anything can inspire me like, it doesn’t even have to be art related. Like, I can just be walking outside and just see a cool, like, double lighting effect on the ground and be super inspired by that and like, take pictures and then like, incorporate that in my next piece or something. It could be just like the color of certain flowers, like the pattern and that could be fashion. Yeah, inspiration can really come from anywhere. And music too. Like I’ve made pieces based on songs before.

Iva Mikles  

So Billy also like music when you are like creating, sir.

Julia Blattman  

Oh, yeah, that’s another. Like, I think that’s something weird that I do is like a half to match songs to what I’m painting, or like background noise. So if I’m paying like a creek, I will listen to like three hours of a creek or like a rain forest? Or I don’t know, just something weird like that.

Iva Mikles  

Oh, that’s super cool. Because then you can get you in the mood. Yeah, really

Julia Blattman  

gets me in the mood. And like, I want to like feel like I’m in the environment that I’m making. Does that make sense? Oh, perfect.

Iva Mikles  

And yeah. What about, like, motivation, you know, when you have like down the so what do you do for combat?

Julia Blattman  

Yeah, that’s interesting, because I’m actually going through a little bit of an artist block right now. So the best thing for that, instead of doing like, no art at all, that doesn’t make me feel any better. So what I like doing is just like taking my time with studies. And lately, my coworkers and I at work, were doing like movie studies. So we’ll like choose one movie that we’ll all do paintings from. And then we’ll have like, 30 minutes just to like, paint a certain screenshot that we choose. And like, that’s been really helping me with just like, turning off my brain kind of and just like focusing just on composition and like color, because everything’s been worked out for you by the director. So it’s really helpful to do that. Let’s see what else. I’ve also been taking, like classes on school ism.com. Like, just like, going back to basics like color and light with dice assuming Robert Kondo that just really helps a lot with technique and stuff. What else? Yeah, and just going to figure drawing workshops just helps a lot, too. And, yeah,

Iva Mikles  

I did also the class with dice. Oh, yeah. Because I’m also fascinated with

Julia Blattman  

Foley, but man, I learned so much from just like, five of the classes.

Iva Mikles  

Exactly. And because they talk about the observation as well, a lot. And so how do you approach your observation when you are like creating art.

Julia Blattman  

Um, like, I always try to be really cautious of colors and how they work in real life. And just like pushing that a little bit more in my artwork. Also, like, I’m always like, trying to step back and look at my artwork. And, like, if something isn’t working, I’ll just like, not look at it for a day and come back with like, a fresh pair of eyes. So that helps sometimes.

Iva Mikles  

Okay, so do you also work on different pieces? At the same time? Or do you like to?

Julia Blattman  

Yeah, so yeah, I’m always working on like, a few different pieces at the same time, because like, I don’t know, if I get too precious with one, I can kind of lose focus with others, if that makes sense. Yeah.

Iva Mikles  

And, like, if people want to do what do you do now? Maybe can you talk about like, mediums or tools? Maybe what do you use now? And will be used when you were starting?

Julia Blattman  

Yeah. Um, so in school, I did a lot of traditional medium. Like, I think for the first two years, it was mostly just all traditional, like painting, charcoal, pencil, ink, all that. And that really, actually helped when I moved on to digital. Finally, I feel like people who start painting with digital right off the bat like with Photoshop, there can be something kind of lacking is a technique that I feel like you can only find through, like trying it traditionally. So that’s what I would recommend, like trying to learn how to paint, like, outside with real paint before you start diving into Photoshop. Yeah, but I personally just use Photoshop. Like I’ve tried programs like curl painter, and it’s just not for me. So just sticking to Photoshop following you.

Iva Mikles  

And what do you use in it maybe at work or at home? Do you paint them? Or, like into us? Or? I don’t know.

Julia Blattman  

Yeah, um, so for the past few years, I’ve been using syntax and before that I actually really didn’t like syntax too much. I couldn’t really understand why. But I was just using like an Intuos. One with like, with the pen and the little tablet in front of you. And I guess I was so used to that, that I didn’t want to, like, try new things. But like with the Cintiq, it just feels so natural. And I really love it. So at home, that’s what I use and also at work.

Iva Mikles  

Oh, perfect. And so from the traditional tools. Do you have like a favorite brand as well? Maybe of pencil like this is my favorite?

Julia Blattman  

Oh, yeah. Yeah. So lately, I’ve been painting in goulash for the past year. And I’ve been really loving like Windsor Newton, colors and like whole Bane brands. And, like, I really love those because with squash, you can just get, like such vibrant pops of color that I can’t really get with others like acrylic, I can’t really achieve bright colors that I can wash.

Iva Mikles  

Yeah. And so you also talked about like group throwing before. So how do you find people to draw with or before at work? Now you have a colleague? Yeah. How do you get yourself noticed? So before he goes might be classmate, or, you know, the whole networking thing? How do you do it?

Julia Blattman  

Yeah, actually, when I was moving down here, I knew like no one down here. So it was kind of scary for me. But I knew that there was like a huge community of artists down here. So I just like got the courage to just ask some people to go painting. And that’s kind of how I met a lot of artists.

Iva Mikles  

And they would from your work or from somewhere else? Um,

Julia Blattman  

no, they were just like, some of them were in college. And yeah, they were just from all over the place. And then yeah, St. Louis, my work. Like there’s a good community of artists here too, that are super passionate.

Iva Mikles  

But if you can give like specific themes, how did you find those people? You know, because it can be difficult.

Julia Blattman  

Yeah. Um, so I went to CTN animation Expo, which is a convention here in Burbank, and I’ve been going there for the past few years. So like, I would go there and like network and like, Meet artists, like, from all over the place, which was great. And so like, I had met this one guy there, who is my boyfriend now. And like, I knew he was down here. So I hit him up to go painting. And like, he already knew a lot of people. So then he introduced me to a lot of different artists.

Iva Mikles  

Yeah. Oh, so are you going? Oh, so this year for the CTN?

Julia Blattman  

Yeah, I’m gonna try. Last year I table there, which was like a super cool experience. That yeah, I’ll be attending this year just to like, walk around and check out the panels and stuff. Oh, perfect.

Iva Mikles  

So I’ll see you there, then.

Julia Blattman  

Yeah, you’re going? Oh, cool. Yeah, it’s perfect.

Iva Mikles  

Good. And so what is your experience with events? You know, like, so the CTN Expo, you mentioned, it’s good for networking. Do you go to different ones as well.

Julia Blattman  

I’m, like, I’ve been to school ism wives event in San Francisco. And that was so cool. Like, it was so rewarding. I think it was like just a few days of just artists talking and like presenting their work and sharing their, like tips and advice and stuff. So that was really cool. But besides that, I just go to like small art conventions, and CTN is probably the biggest one I go to.

Iva Mikles  

Oh, nice. So what about the project you’re working on now? Or something? Maybe you can share already? Or maybe you can? Yeah, past project as well?

Julia Blattman  

Yeah, sure. Um, so for the past, I think two years. I’ve been working on this short film with like a group of super passionate, amazing people. The short film we’re working on is called sonder. And I think it’s going to come out by the end of this year, I could be completely wrong. But yeah, I’ve just been working on it from the very beginning with this team of people that I’ve worked on like a game in the past with and I’ve been doing bizdev work for that. like in the beginning, I did characters and just kind of explored what the world could look like. And yeah, now I’m doing lighting keys and color keys. And it’s just been really fun. So I do that every week, like we meet up once a week to present our work and stuff. So that’s also a big motivator to because like, people are counting on me to do something, you know. So it’s kind of like in school, when you have assignments, and you’re like, expected to do something, it’s kind of nice to have something like

Iva Mikles  

that. Oh, nice. And maybe you can mention for some of the people in our audience, if they don’t know, what is this, like, what does it include? And what do you actually work on?

Julia Blattman  

Uh, huh. Yeah. So like, in the beginning, when I started working on this short film with people, I was doing a lot of character exploration, like, what was the overall style that was gonna, like, unify this world and the characters in it. So in the beginning, it was just like a bunch of like, sketches, like 50 sketches of the characters to like, explore, and like not taking anything too precious, like just going through a bunch of ideas, you know. And a lot of it is also like, figuring out, like, what a room would look like, or what does this restaurant look like that the characters are in and just really, like, flush that out entirely, like, oh, the chairs, like, what they’re eating the atmosphere, what the lighting is gonna look like, etc. What I’m doing right now is they’ll send me like a screenshot of our animatic, which is just like a rough 3d model in motion, and all draw on top of that, and craft like the character’s pose. And then I’ll do like a flat color wash and all put in lighting. And usually, I’ll give them like a few different lighting options to choose from. And, yeah, that’s how we do it on our team. So it’s

Iva Mikles  

something like, you know, when you have a certain mood, then you have these like modal and if it is creamy, and you add green light, or whatever, and

Julia Blattman  

oh, yeah, exactly. Yeah. And also, a big part of it is lots and lots of reference, like gathering lots of reference for the lighters, and especially in the beginning to like our just hoard reference for everything.

Iva Mikles  

Perfect. And what about, like, when you work also on your stuff? And then you have a full time job? How do you combine your income streams? Or do you have one main income? Or?

Julia Blattman  

Yeah, um, well, my full time job is at Disney here. And I think that’s definitely my main source of income. I’ve been doing freelance on the side, I try not to take too much freelance, because then I can get overwhelmed. And I’m not really too great at the balancing thing yet. Still kind of working on that. But yeah, so I do that. And I also like table at conventions every now and then I think I’ve done about two or three. Yeah, two or three. So that’s like money on the side, too,

Iva Mikles  

because I was talking with one of my friends. And she usually says, like you Oh, you pay right for the table. And then from the sales of your artwork that it usually comes back. Yeah, back. But you get usually more back than you pay for. Yeah, I guess. Yeah,

Julia Blattman  

definitely. worth it in the end. Yeah. I mean, it is a lot of work, though. Like, you know, like selling stuff for three days and being on your feet for like, eight hours a day. Like talking a lot. Do you lose your voice?

Iva Mikles  

Yeah, and but you meet also a lot of people, right?

Julia Blattman  

Yeah. And they also do like, book covers for like children’s books. someday I’d like to do like an entire children’s book if I have the time. And I’m also trying to work on my own projects, too. Like I’m trying to come up with like a story that I can illustrate as well. And find time for that. But lately, I’ve just been trying to like, go back to my techniques and do studies.

Iva Mikles  

And so when you are creating stuff for for like a CTN or other event, so you have like art prints, and then what else do you sell? Well that

Julia Blattman  

last year, I made my first art book, which was super rewarding. It was also a lot of work, but it was just like, it wasn’t like a massive book. It was just like this little book filled with like maybe 30 pages of my artwork or something like that. I was super great to make and that was probably the thing that sold most like people will really like to buy books and stuff. People also really love buying little trinkets, like little buttons or bookmarks. People just go crazy. Easy for like, I just saw people walking around with like loads of buttons. Yeah. Because it’s something nice and cheap. And you can still support the artists by buying that, you know? And I sold prints as well, but

Iva Mikles  

and how do you design your day? Or how do you plan your week when you have so many projects? Uh huh.

Julia Blattman  

Yeah. So Monday through Friday, I’m at work from pretty much like 930 to six. Then, like, at lunch, sometimes we do like studies together, like painting exercises and stuff. I also go to like figure drawing every now and then during the week. Or then after work, I go to the gym, or at least try to some days I do. Then I just try to like eat dinner and then do my own work from there. And then on the weekends, I usually like go outside to pay cuz like during the week, I don’t really see the light of day too much. So I need to get out

Iva Mikles  

in the morning to sunny area. So yeah, yeah,

Julia Blattman  

try to like get out and enjoy the nice weather and paint and stuff. So

Iva Mikles  

yeah, because also when I was living in Denmark, it was sometimes you know, you go like to work when it’s dark. You come back. Oh.

Julia Blattman  

Yeah, that’s cool. I can’t imagine that. Yeah.

Iva Mikles  

And so when you paint outside, do you take oil paints or tablet or something to sketch,

Julia Blattman  

I been using wash paint. So I just like take my easel and take my gosh, and go painting outside. I want to get into oils. But they’re so hard to transport. I feel like I really like the colors that you can achieve in it. And I also like how it can kind of act like watercolor if you want it to, but also build up like acrylics, but I feel like the blend a lot better for me personally than acrylics in some way. Yeah, I’m still trying to get used to it. I’m actually didn’t really like goulash in school, but I grew on

Iva Mikles  

me. Nice. Because yeah, also, when you mentioned that you try to paint sometimes, you know, from the movies or outside. So what I think what you’re looking for, like, is it the layout you want to paint or, you know, like what interests you and you are doing a scene?

Julia Blattman  

Yeah. Like, I’ve definitely been trying to improve with my light and shadow pattern. So I really just try to simplify more, like simplification is something that I wasn’t always interested in. I was, like, I used to paint like, oh, every single detail has to be in the scene. And I have to like render the “beep” out of everything in order for it to be good. Like, I gotta like, make it perfect. But lately I’ve been really interested in just simplicity can be so beautiful, you know? So I’m just looking for like composition and like, trying to like, squint and see the simple, like two values that make up something, you know.

Iva Mikles  

Yeah. And do you sketch it first with the pencil? Just to see the values like okay, to the side, though? And then

Julia Blattman  

yeah, um, yeah, if I’m painting outside, I’ll sketch it out and try to spend like too much time on it. Like, I don’t like go in and like, draw every little thing, just like loose, then I paid it. Same thing in Photoshop, like my sketches can be really ugly. Like, like, I’m pretty sure if someone else thought like, only I could understand in the initial stages, then actually, like, do like two or three layers of like drawing passes. So I’ll do something super rough at first, turn down the opacity on that and then sketch over it. Then I block and like simple values, and I move on to color from there.

Iva Mikles  

So is there something kind of you wish you knew before you started your whole art career? Hmm,

Julia Blattman  

yeah, like, like in school. I wish I had known that animation was exactly what I wanted to do in the beginning, because I just went through so many different dramatic art styles, like, throughout school, like I really didn’t know what my style was. So, like, my portfolio by like, the third year was just all over the place, which isn’t bad in art school, like that’s okay. You’re, you’re figuring out what to do. But I wish I had, like, explored more. What I like thought my style was in the beginning, if that makes sense.

Iva Mikles  

So how would you find your style or something would you be interested in you know, because also when you’re young, and you don’t know what you want to do? Yeah. How would you approach it?

Julia Blattman  

I feel like you just got to experiment and like style. Uh, isn’t really something that can be forced. I mean, you could like copy other people, but you don’t know just like, like, know what you like and find what you enjoy doing. And I feel like with practice, like, style is something that can just come naturally. Yeah, I mean, I don’t even know if I have like a particular style with my work. I just try to paint things that I enjoy. And hopefully, things will come. They’re

Iva Mikles  

like be like the light what you mentioned. So proud. Yeah, he’s there all

Julia Blattman  

day and kind of, like I’m really interested in. Yeah, definitely.

Iva Mikles  

Okay, cool. Cool. Yeah. Because I think it can be frustrating for young people or, you know, like young artists like, oh, yeah, style, and Oh, yeah.

Julia Blattman  

Yeah, no, and it’s good to like, like, see your inspirations, like your favorite artists? Other than, like, it’s okay to, like, derive a little bit from them and, like, take inspiration. But, like, it’s even better to see what those artists inspirations were, like, older artists, you know, and take from there.

Iva Mikles  

Yeah. So like, when you see how they simplified maybe the landscape. Yeah, and you go paint outside? Yeah, exactly. Yeah. Cool. Cool. And when you’re designing characters, do you also simplify them? Or do you have like, specific shape for the characters? Or?

Julia Blattman  

Um, yeah, for characters. Like, for me, personality always comes first. And then like, trying to find a rhythm with them and not have them be so stiff is also important. And I’m really interested in like expression as well. So that’s something I tried to do. Yes.

Iva Mikles  

So you connect like a personality maybe with the posts as well, like, yeah, exactly. Okay, cool. Cool. And what about some books? Can you recommend some books you love or you

Julia Blattman  

know, people should check it out? Oh, yeah, for sure. Gosh, there’s so many trying to think of some the color and light by James Gurney is just amazing. Like I took a look at that the other month and it just so helpful. I think it’s called color and light. I could be wrong. But I think anything by James Gurney is just amazing. And he’s such a master at, like the light and color. You’ll learn so much from him. And like, kind of not art related. My favorite book of all time is the Goldfinch by Donna Tartt. It’s just incredible. Like, it’s so good.

Iva Mikles  

goldfinch? Yeah,

Julia Blattman  

the goldfinch.

Iva Mikles  

Cool. So we’ll put it in shownotes. So people can check it out as well. Yeah.

Julia Blattman  

And the whole book actually revolves around a certain painting called the gold fit. So yeah.

Iva Mikles  

Nice. Nice. I didn’t ask you about because you talked about different projects. And how do you decide what to say? Yes. And no. Do you know when you are like, what is going in your head when you need to decide? Yeah.

Julia Blattman  

So I’m still kind of new to the freelance thing. Like I’ve been doing it for the past few years now. I tried to say yes to only things I know, I’m going to enjoy. Like, I wouldn’t really say yes to like, a graphic design project Grafton, like make a logo like that won’t go towards my career portfolio at all. So usually, I’ll say no to that, or, like, if they’re not willing to pay, like a fair price for an artist. We’re like, I won’t bother with it really. Um, let’s see what else. Yeah, I also like super tight deadlines I try to avoid because that’s pretty stressful. And recently, I took on one, that was a pretty tight deadline, and it just kind of messed with my whole schedule. Like, I couldn’t go to the gym, I could hang out with people. And yeah, that particular freelance thing didn’t end up so well, because like, they ended up not paying me. So I’m still like in the middle of that, which is kind of hard, but I’ll figure it out somehow.

Iva Mikles  

So what would you say is like, or was the worst career moment or most difficult one, and what do you learn from it? I

Julia Blattman  

actually think it’s this freelance project that I took on, because they wanted to book covers in a month. And they were willing to pay pretty well. And so I was like, Okay, I’ll do that. And then they like, wanted a few more and they were willing to pay a good price. I was like, Okay, I’ll do that. But they haven’t paid me yet. So I’m, like, sold was complicated with the contract where I couldn’t get a certain signature for them. And it kind of just messed everything up. So now I don’t know if I should like continue with the freelance or like, just stop altogether, even though like I finished two of the book covers completely. So yeah, that’s something that’s been stressful and I kind of regret like taking it on without a super particular contract that says, Oh, you will pay me at like, half the halfway point or something, you know, I just think that it came with an experience, like I didn’t know what I was doing or getting myself into. So

Iva Mikles  

I approach it in that sense that you will have a contract better, like more Yeah,

Julia Blattman  

better contract. Yeah. Like they gave me one. But it was mostly for like, the money aspects and punch, like, when exactly the payment will be received. So that was just totally my fault. And like, I definitely needed to learn more about contracts. It was complicated, because it was out of country.

Iva Mikles  

Yeah. And how it brought the pricing because, you know, like, people always are like, Oh, how much do they ask? And I’m you know, so do you ask friends how much you should ask God?

Julia Blattman  

Yeah, I definitely asked friends. And like, I also asked my boyfriend since he’s an illustrator, and he’s done like, a lot of freelance in the past. So he has really good advice. And also, if it’s like, a well known company, that’s pretty big. They’ll usually like, like, they know how to work with artists. So they’ll usually negotiate a pretty good price with you. That’s fair. So do

Iva Mikles  

you wait for them to tell you the price, or you ask for something?

Julia Blattman  

I’m usually just asked to discuss it. Usually just goes from there. I mean, if they’re not, I don’t know. It’s hard to explain. But like, if we go too low, all like usually I’ll just state my price right off the bat. If they try to, like lower it way down. I’ll be like, Oh, can you do like, portrait for $20?

Iva Mikles  

So maybe it’s good to set some, some I don’t know, like, Okay, this is what I would like to be paid, then ask for a little bit more, because they will price you down or something like that.

Julia Blattman  

Yeah, I’ve done that in the past. But usually, like, I’ll just do it by how many hours I estimate it to take me. Like compare it to like what I’m making right now on my job. And like, just divide it by hours. Not usually helps me estimate a price to

Iva Mikles  

Yeah, that’s actually interesting approach. You can see what is the kind of the standard in the industry. Yeah. For hours. Yeah,

Julia Blattman  

exactly. Oh, yeah. I think it’s important to like, stand up for yourself. Like, Don’t lower your prices so much just because, you know, you want to get the work because that kind of like, you know, lowers the price for everyone else to you know,

Iva Mikles  

yeah, definitely. And what about some, you know, like tools with simplifies your life? Something maybe? Oh, yeah. cently? Or it’s a software or I don’t know something?

Julia Blattman  

Yeah. Um, yeah, I’m trying to think planners actually really helped. Like, that’s something that I’ve gotten into for the past year. And I was never like a planner person. Like, I’m pretty disorganized most of the time. But it really just helped me out. Like it helps just to, like, write down what I want to achieve, like every week and make little bullet points. And it’s actually really satisfying like checking off the bullet points of things you’ve done and looking at

Iva Mikles  

the same I’m like, yeah.

Julia Blattman  

Such a rush, like, finish something.

Iva Mikles  

Yeah. Don’t check off anything that I’m like, Oh, I haven’t done anything. This is I feel you’re in. Do you have some favorite quote, maybe you would put on the sketchbook or the notebook or something? You just like,

Julia Blattman  

Oh, yeah. One of them is create whatever calls it causes a revolution in your heart. And that’s by Elizabeth Gilbert. She said that in her book, strange magic, or big magic. Yeah, big magic is another book I would recommend for artists. It’s all about creativity. And I just really liked that quote, because, you know, just like, do whatever makes you happy and keep up with your passion.

Iva Mikles  

Nice. And if you think about like five to 10 years in the future, what would be your dream scenario if you cannot fail, and you’re not afraid of it? Oh, yeah.

Julia Blattman  

Oh, man, or, like, I definitely want to travel more. And I would love to just like keep a travel journal with sketches and like sketch all around the world. That’d be so cool. That and I’d also really like to have, you know, like, eventually become an art director for something that would be really cool. And that’s definitely one of my goals eventually. And just working in an animation studio and just like taking on a bunch of different projects, and just being around passionate people to be great.

Iva Mikles  

It’s really important to always be yourself. People who are better than you may be because Oh, yeah, learn and grow. So Exactly, yeah. Perfect. And my last question would be, what would you like to be remembered for in like, 100 years?

Julia Blattman  

Oh, my gosh, that question. So hard to answer. Um, I would like to be remembered for all my artwork, but I also want my artwork to go towards something. Like, I want to be able to tell a certain story, even if I don’t really know what that story is, but I just want to like, send a message through my artwork, and you know, make people happy that way.

Iva Mikles  

Oh, really nice. And before we say goodbye, maybe you can like some parting piece of guidance or last advice, and I’m super happy that you took time to be here. It’s yeah,

Julia Blattman  

thank you so much for having me. It’s been so much fun. Yeah, it’s like never stop learning. Kind of like what I said before and just, you know, like, keep it up. And if you’d get burnt out, that’s okay. Just, you know, don’t drop your passions altogether just because of a burnout. Yeah.

Iva Mikles  

Oh, nice. Super cool. And thank you again for being here. And thanks, everyone for joining.

Iva Mikles  

Hope you guys enjoyed this interview. You can find all the resources mentioned in this episode at artsideoflife.com. Just type a guest name in the search bar. There is also a little freebie waiting for you. So go check it out. If you enjoyed this episode, please leave a review on iTunes, hopefully five stars so I can read and inspire more people like you. Also, don’t forget to subscribe to our site of life book cast, because I post new interview every single workday. If you want to watch the interviews, head over to artsideoflife.com/youtube. Thank you so much for listening. Don’t forget to inspire each other. And I will talk to you guys in the next episode. Bye.

Announcer  

Thanks for listening to the Art Side of Life podcast at www.artsideoflife.com

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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