Jake is an illustrator based in Utah, United States. For the last 15 years, he has worked on everything from animated films to comics to picture books. He has lived in six states, working at the best studios with the most amazing and talented people in the country. Now he freelances out of his home studio.
Jake has worked on movies like Epic, Rio, Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs. He has worked for Blue Sky Studios, Google, Marvel, Disney Animation, Warner Brothers Animation, Psyop, Hubris Studios, Nexus Productions and Nick Magazine.
Jake is the creator of the #inktober challenge, happening every October. It’s all about doing one ink drawing a day for the entire month. Since 2009 it has attracted the interest of millions of artists and followers.
Jake is a passionate teacher. He left the animation industry in 2010 to pursue personal projects and to teach. He says ” … Teaching helped me to organize all of the art knowledge I had gained over the previous 11 years in my professional career and distil it down to core principles and techniques. I now pass this information on through an online art school called The Society of Visual Storytelling (SVS). The classes are an affordable supplement to art school.””
Jake is also an expert on social media, and he shared his wisdom @CTN Expo 2016 in the session called ‘How to get your First 10k Followers’.
Get in touch with Jake
“Finished, not perfect. It’s more important to finish things at the cost of perfection … the more things you finish, the closer you get to perfection some day!”
- “There is always work for an artist … if you are willing to do the work. Even if it’s not something you really want to do, you will always learn something from it!” It served him ever since he worked for the Museum of Natural History in Arizona
- Jake’s brand/mission is threefold: 1. Provide for his family to have stable lifestyle 2. Create something that matters to the world – inspiration, entertainment 3. Help people to be able to do those 2 things
- Jake always looked at people who were far better than him, so he could learn from them and get help from them and help them with their stuff
- Jake’s fondest memories are of having a safe place to be creative and explore and do things that directly don’t relate to the profession and making money, but just being creative, explore and try things out. He still does it to this day, exploring, being open to different opportunities
- Jake would advise to his younger self. Really embrace hard work! He is a lazy person and he is fighting laziness. He was able to overcome that in last 10years … go work hard and go learn about things – anything is accessible to you only if you are willing to put down the work
- Society of Visual Storytelling – Jake’s online classes
- Art tools
- Digital tools Apple iMac
- Apple MacBook Pro
- Wacom Cintiq
- Printer – Epson Stylus Photo R2000
- Books by Jake Parker Christmas book – The 12 Sleighs of Christmas
- Books: Tim Ferriss: Tools of the Titans
- Cal Newport: Deep Work
- Jake’s mantra explanation video: “Finished not perfect”
Special thanks to Jake for joining me today. See you next time!
All artworks by Jake Parker, used with permission
Click Here For The Episode Transcript
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
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 concept artist and teacher based in Utah United States. For the last 15 years, he has worked on everything from animated films to comics to picture books, and many other things. He has worked for Blue Sky Studios, Google Manuel Disney Animation Warner Brothers and he mission and others. Now he freelances out of his home studio. He’s also a passionate teacher, he co founded the Society of visual storytelling, where he teaches art fundamentals, as well as details about different topics. He’s the creator of Inktober telling happening every October, and it’s all about doing one enjoying a day for entire month. Since 2009, he has attracted interest of millions of artists and followers with this art challenge. So please welcome Jake Parker. And let’s jump to the interview. So welcome everyone to the next episode of art side of life and I’m super excited to have Jake here. Hi.
Jake Parker 1:42
Hello, for having me.
Thank you for being here and taking time from your busy schedule and especially preparing for in October soon.
Jake Parker 1:51
excited for that.
Yeah, you already did some videos right on YouTube. Now. Just do like an intro.
Jake Parker 2:00
Yeah yeah trying to get more people interested and and just I guess educate people on what it is this as well because there’s still a lot of people they’re like not exactly sure what the challenges about what you’re supposed to do
yeah really nice. Let’s start then with your background before we talked about the current projects and everything maybe you can share some of your stories from childhood when you have been like create the for the first time or which were the creative outlet
Jake Parker 2:29
Yeah, so I i’ve always drawn it’s always been a thing that I’ve done ever since I was little story goes that when I was really really little, you know, barely could hold a pencil, two or three years old. My my mom said that I drew a picture of her just the outline of her sewing machine. And she saw that she she can’t find that drawing anymore. It’s somehow got thrown away or lost or something but she remembers seeing that and the King, oh, this this kid has figured out you know, to put down on paper what he’s saying. And so both heard my father nurtured that all growing up and made sure I had plenty of paper and markers to to, to draw with me to have a ton of money but you know if they got surplus paper my mom worked in school so if there’s extra paper she’d bring it home and, and I drawn that and and so that was that was great and then I had a friend growing up his mom was an artist and so she would give us art lessons teach us how to do you know how to unlock our brain so that we could not just, you know, think more creatively but but draw more creatively and draw the things that we that we see and and just really taught us how to look at things and how to visualize things on paper. So that was that was always interesting and by the time I got too, you know, my early early 20s I, I got I, you know, drawn so much that I felt like I had reached a level where I could try and get a job. And I was still going to school and and I was able to get a job while I was at school working in an animation studio, and and so that was that’s kind of my my background as soon as I got that job in the animation studio, I’ve just been working professionally, ever since different jobs all through the years and taking out different projects and things like that.
And going back to your friends mom or your parents. What was the best lesson they taught you when you were a child or teenager?
Jake Parker 4:50
I would say
you know, I can’t pinpoint any particular lesson or, or something that you know, really stuck out to me. But the thing that that I think I take away from that time period was that it was safe to be creative. And it was safe to, to explore and to, to do things that maybe didn’t directly relate to a future profession or didn’t directly relate to, you know, making money or anything like that, but, but they were, it was a safe place for me to grow up and, and be creative and explore and try things out. And I think that’s what’s really helped me in my career, going forward is I still take time out to do things that may not you know, add up, you know, the numbers may not add up and you know, that hour spent here may not equal to this many dollars in my bank account, but, but it is something that maybe tangentially helps me accomplish another task or helps me unlock a problem that I’m having somewhere else.
I would say that that would be the main thing I pulled from that.
And did you also receive something like a worst advice? Or maybe you see that the young artists or creators are getting like these bad advice now around you?
Jake Parker 6:15
Yeah. So I will I will say this. I did. You know, when I was a senior in high school, I really started to worries my last year in high school I started to worry was actually going to do for a job still going to do for a living I you know, this is when you figure out what you’re going to major in, in college or what college you’re going to go to what are you going to study, and I didn’t know anybody who was a professional artist, who I don’t know anybody working professionally in art as an artist, or making money with their art, except for, you know, my art teachers. They were teaching art. They weren’t creating art very much And I knew one guy who was an illustrator, but he illustrated, you know, collectible plates, and things like that, you know, kind of kitsch stuff. And that really wasn’t what I was into. And so I didn’t, I didn’t know what to do. And I asked this girl I knew I asked her father, who was an architect, I said, maybe architect is that a creative fields, that’s something I could do for a job. And he said, Don’t be an architect. Whatever you do, do not become an architect. So that was, you know, that was kind of eye opening to me that that, you know, just because what I traditionally thought might be a creative job, you know, designing buildings or working on things like that, from his perspective didn’t necessarily mean it was something that that actually would fit my personality at the things that I wanted to do. So, again, that’s not bad advice that I, I took his advice. I didn’t become an architect, but I still kind of wandered around a little bit trying to figure out what I do. I knew I had to take classes, take some art classes and get better as an artist in college. And so I started doing that. But I think the main thing for me was just exploring and being open to different opportunities. I had an art teacher who’s my high school art teacher, I went back to visit him. And I asked them, you know, I showed him my artwork and my portfolio and I said, you know, what, what can I do with this? how, you know, how do you think the things are going, how do you like it? And he, he told me that I could stay in school if I wanted to, but my portfolio was good enough that I could probably try and get a job at an entry level position at this animation studio. And so I thought, well, why not? You know, I got nothing else to lose. I’ll take his advice and I and I went and did that and you know, Long story short, they hired me they saw the my work that they liked, and they hired me. And so I had to choose between do I finish school? Or do I take this job and so I decided school always be there, it’s schools not going away. But this job could possibly not be here when I’m done with school or who knows, you know, what opportunities so I thought I’ll just take this job now and and do it as long as it lasts. And then I can always go back to school and that’s what I did.
And was he like your mentor or someone who inspired you the most or did you have other mentors, you kind of remember like us that.
Jake Parker 9:39
He, I would say he was a he was a mentor, along with, you know, in that I never looked at it to him as a mentor and that word was never used, but he was a guiding person in my life who was who’s sort of directing me and helping me up to that point. After that, I looked to other people as mentors You know, I always everywhere that I’ve worked since then, I’ve always looked at and wanted to be close to people who are far better than me. And just learn from them and, and, and try to get help with my stuff for you know from them, try to help them with their stuff. And so for me a mentor apprentice sort of thing, those words and never used and it’s, it’s very transactional, I will help you do a thing. Or I’ll be you know, on some level, you will benefit from me. And hopefully I can benefit from from you as well, from your experience and from the things the things that you’re you’re doing so yeah,
and at the time did you wanted to work for animation studio or it was just a suggestion. What did you have in the portfolio? Was it like the same thing would you work on now like these type of characters, or was it something else?
Jake Parker 10:58
Yeah. So it was A lot of character design type of stuff. The job I ended up doing was basically an animation assistant. I was an in between her, and what the, you know, I would just help the animators finish drawing their their scenes. And that really wasn’t the thing that I was like always wanting to do. I always wanted to do comic books. But I always loved animation. I always thought animation was cool. And so when I got that job and thought, you know, maybe I’ll work up to becoming an animator, and that’ll be my career, I could become an animator. And after doing that job for a couple of years, I realized I didn’t want to be an animator. I didn’t really like what I was doing. I did want to do the concept art and the visual development and so I spent a lot of time on work breaks and before and after, we’re talking to the guys in those departments and learning from them and, and showing them my work and getting feedback on my work. And, and the A couple of jobs after that I actually started working as a concept artist based on their advice and their input.
Oh, perfect. And so we try to kind of like the biggest decision points or turning points, you know, where we just they get you in your now because you mentioned that where do you start leading this animation studio? Can you mention some other big points of your career?
Jake Parker 12:24
Yeah, so a couple years after I got that job, the studio was shut down, and they laid everybody off, and we all lost our jobs. And so there was I thought, Well, that was my one opportunity. I guess I’m gonna go back to school I still need you know, in that time, I also got married. We had a kid on the way and I needed still to provide like to bring in some sort of income. And, and this is this is really important. This this thing changed everything for me. I went and interviewed at job that was a call center. So I just be calling people on phones and it has nothing to do with anything artistic, but it would make pretty good, okay, money, right? Compared to what I was doing. And I went to the job and I sat down in the interview with with, with the guy who was interviewing me and he, he looked at my resume. And it saw that, you know, I’d studied art, and I was an artist at this animation studio, and it was very much a creative, you know, creative things that I was doing. He said, Are you sure that you want this job? And I said, you know, there’s nothing in your resume that that really leads me to believe that this is like the job for you. And I said, You know what, you’re right. I don’t want this job. And he said, Well, I guess we’re done here. And I said, Yeah, thank you. No, thank you for your time. Sorry. And I went home. And I was kind of depressed and I told my wife what happened and she she said, You know what? There’s a there’s a Natural History Museum down the street from us from where we’re living there in Arizona. And they had been building on to the museum and they were doubling the size of the museum. And they were adding a dinosaur wing. You know, they wanted dinosaur bones and all these different exhibits, and she said, they’ve been working on this. And maybe they need an artist. I don’t know what for maybe to do murals or something like that. She said, Why don’t you just go down there, show them your work and say, could you do need an artist could help and I went down there. And they hired me on the spot. So yes, because your your help. We’ve got two other guys work and they need an assistant. And right then and there. That’s the lesson I learned. And I realized there’s always work for an artist. Always you don’t. If if you’re willing to do the work, you know, there might not be always the work you want to do for an artist but there’s always creative work that needs to be done. For people, and you’re going to get better as an artist, even if you’re doing stuff that isn’t directly the thing you want to do. And I learned a lot from these guys that I was assisting and I learned a lot from working at this museum. And it fostered a deeper love and appreciation for you know, for for dinosaurs and for ancient history. And for all those me I that job and it was only just for summer, but it really shaped me. And it helped me to, to, to work on my portfolio more and to look for interesting and different opportunities and artists. And it’s helped it served me ever since then every everywhere I look, I realize there’s a hole that an artist could fill. And you know, if if I stopped doing what I’m doing now I could go do that thing. So there’s always going to be that that work.
And over the years of creating your own branding and like the vision or mission where you are communicating through your eyes. What was like the biggest thing you learned? Or maybe how do you approach branding yourself now?
Jake Parker 16:07
So my brand, I would say my, my mission or my personal manifesto is divided into three things and number one, it’s provide for my family providing some sort of stable lifestyle for my family with my art. Number two, it’s to its to create something that matters in the world or something that inspires or that people can look to for, for whether it’s entertainment or something, something that just changes the world in some small way. Okay, so, so provide and and create something cool. And then the third one is to help people to be able to do those two things as well. Okay, so my, when I sit down and think about what am i going to do today? or What am I do this week? It’s always through that filter. Okay, what do I need to do to make money? Alright, so what’s that question has been answered, okay, now what am I going to do to make something cool to put something cool to the world? All right now what am I going to do to help other people? And so the money thing is usually whatever current project I’m working on, it’s bringing in money, or whatever revenue streams that I’ve built for myself. The cool thing is usually the project that I’ve taken on and sometimes those overlap, or, you know, I might launch a Kickstarter for a book I want to do or I might, you know, just be slowly building a body of work that I could someday publish somehow. And then the third thing is, do I, you know, put out YouTube video today that that discusses some sort of topic that I think could help artists, or do I work on, you know, don’t do some sort of Instagram story or tweet or something. Something like that, that helps somebody. And so that’s, that’s really how I mapped out what I’m going to do from a day to day or week to week basis is, is how do I fulfill those, those three things?
And maybe let’s talk about the in October now or in October. And so how this came to be and what is your mission there?
Jake Parker 18:21
Alright, so my my initial idea for Inktober came about in 2009. I was working with a bunch of artists at Blue Sky animation studios, and one of my artists friends there had a really cool brush pen that he got from Japan. And I love the way he drew with it and asked if I could borrow it and try it out. And I used it and I realized I wasn’t super good at the pen, but I wanted to get better at it. And so I decided that I was going to challenge myself to draw straight every day a drawing a day with this pen. Get better inking, and do it for 30 days for about a month. And this was around August, or September. And I thought, well, let’s turn it into a challenge and give it a clever name. And they said, Let’s How about I do Inktober and and set it up in October? And how about announced it as a thing that I’m doing and other people can join me as well. And so the first year, I was pretty much the only person who did it. There’s a few other people who kind of, you know, popped in once in a while and did a few drawings. And, and there was a, I guess, someone influential blog and artists community called drunk.ca. And they picked it up and said, hey, look what Jake Parker’s doing. And what was cool about that as it got a lot of eyes on me, Sean what I was doing and, and I did the entire month, and called it good and the next year rolled around. I thought, you know, should I do it again? Yes, I should definitely do again. It was a lot of fun last year, I should. I should do it again this year. but ended up having an accident that second year where I hurt myself. And I couldn’t work on it for that month. So I skipped 2010. But I was back at it in 2011 2012 kept doing it. And every year people started to more people started to do it. And it really didn’t explode and take off until a lot of artists started getting on Instagram and Twitter and started using hashtags. There was a time that people didn’t use hashtags or even know what hashtags were. It was around 2013. That hashtag started to become really ubiquitous, and everybody was was using them. And I introduced the tober hashtag and I introduced the official rules and I said, here’s how you do it. You don’t draw drawing you posted online using tober hashtag. And what I’ve seen from there on out has been What is it? Double it doubles the amount of growth Every year, so cool, you know, in 2013, I think 300,000 people posted an image on Instagram under the Inktober hashtag on 2014. It was, you know, 600,000 then it was a million and last year 2016 Inktober hashtag had one and a half million people, or one and a half million posts made one e 17. Inktober hashtag. So it’s it’s really taken off and it’s gotten to the point where nobody, people just think it exists. Nobody, like leading it or trying to get something started. When I go to a speaking engagements at schools or whatnot, I’ll say, you know, just say I want to familiarize myself with the audience and I asked him, How many of you have seen my work before have heard of me before? You know, 20 hands will raise up And then I’ll say how many of you have heard of tober have participated in October and 100 Hansel rates up, come, it’ll say, Okay. And then I’ll you know, tell the story of Inktober. And, and a lot of people don’t know that, that I had anything to do with it. Now as far as the mission and the purpose of Inktober is, it’s a I’ve benefited from it. And I’ve gotten so much better at my craft because of this challenge. And it’s, it’s fostered, you know,
a desire for actually fostered habits and me to create daily and to draw daily. And that’s really what I want Inktober to do for the artistic artists community. They want people to create drawing habits where they’re thinking creatively each day they’re drawing each day and they’re sharing their work each day. People tell me so often this they’ll say that Inktober changed their life that they were creative. You know, they’ve lost their creative spark. And it helps them to find that spark again, and, and they weren’t very good at drawing, but by the end of October, they felt like they’re so much better at drawing. And even a more practical level people have said, I got so many new followers from doing Inktober just the act of drawing and posting every day I got, you know, 100 new followers or 1000 new followers this month. Yeah. So and then the other cool thing is people collect their drawings and they’ll post little books and put those books out and make some extra money from from the books and every once while I’ll get someone mailing me a copy of one of these books that they made, I love them. They’re super inspirational. See what people do with it. So So yeah, that gets the mission of Inktober is finding your creative spark or maintaining your creativity through a month long challenge. 30 day trying challenge
Yeah, perfect because everyone wants to be just fine. Part of the community and also if you see your friends doing it, and then they just join and then you can compare like, Oh, I lost the 10 days, or I actually did the whole month. And you can actually challenge yourself as you mentioned. So definitely great idea. And what about, like projects you’re working on now and something exciting coming up if you can share, which is no maybe confidential anymore. And
Jake Parker 24:23
yeah, so I have a Christmas book that I worked on. It’s called the 12 slaves of Christmas and it’s about Santa who who is like a trashed and so the elves all work together and they designed 12 different slaves, and they’re all like, mechanical slaves like a hot rod sleigh and motorcycle sleigh and snow plow sleigh and it was super fun project to work on. So that’s coming out for this, this Christmas season. It was written by Sherry Rinker published by Chronicle and drawn By myself illustrated by myself. Other projects in the works are I’m still working on my my sky heart Kickstarter, trying to wrap that up and finish it and hopefully get those books sent out to people, you know, the end of this year or early next year, and that’s taking just a lot of my my time and working on that as well. So those are like the two main projects that I’ve got, you know, children’s book that I’m working on here. Another thing I’m working on there. And then and then one thing I’m really proud about thing I’ve been working on a lot lately is is classes for SPS learn calm. And this is an online school that I started with a couple of artists will Terry and Lee white. And we just teach a lot of the fundamentals and a lot of the, you know, the basics of art and then we get into a lot more details of like how do you compose a picture? How do you design a book cover? How do you is how do you illustrate a children’s book. And so there’s classes there for everybody that ranges from the beginners to the intermediate to some of the more advanced artists as well. So that’s been a true labor of love. And also, it’s also been able to provide somewhat of a financial base for me as well over the years teaching classes
and how the class is structured. Do you sign up for like a month? Or do you choose like one class, which is, I don’t know, like few weeks or how does it work?
Jake Parker 26:30
Yeah, so all the classes are pre recorded, and you have the option to buy a class an audit, and you can watch it whenever you want. Or you can subscribe, kind of how you would subscribe to Netflix. Subscribe, subscribe to to SPS, and just watch whatever class you want, whenever you want, as long as you’re subscribed to it. So your two options
that we can put link in the show notes so people can take it up and sign up and What about the income streams? As you mentioned already? What is your main income streams? One already you like, as you said, combined from different sources. So you have the table with more legs.
Jake Parker 27:13
Yeah, exactly. So SGS is an income stream for me. My online shop is an income stream, children’s books, the advances that I get from children’s books, and then also the royalties from those is another income stream.
any sort of odd freelance jobs that I take on here and there those also are my, you know, another another stream of income. And between those four or five things, you know, every few years, I might launch a Kickstarter as well that that will pay for some things, but, but that’s pretty much that’s pretty much where I’m at with With with income, there’s also, you know, everyone swelled up to get some, you know, now that I have such a sizable online following, I’ll get some influencer, people who want me to, to promote a project or promote a product that they’re selling. So I get a lot of like free art supplies from that. But I can also make money from affiliate links, and things like that as well. So So, yeah, that’s that’s pretty much that’s pretty much how I support myself now.
So that’s good that you can like spread it out and just even something will be lost or change then you’re still okay.
Jake Parker 28:43
And how do you do networking now or kind of finding new paid projects or creating your own? Because it was probably different at the beginning when you didn’t have like a big following. And so how is it compared to that, and maybe what would you advise people if they want to create their own following or just do the networking.
Jake Parker 29:06
So, as far as building a following, I think people are really attracted to consistency. So if you’re consistently always posting your work online, and people also really attracted to projects, like, if you tell people this is a thing that you’re making, this is a thing that you’re working on, and you invite them to join you in that endeavor. And to follow you making this thing I think that’s a good way to build a following because people, it there’s, it’s inherently a, it’s a, there’s a story there. You’re establishing, you know, use the main character, and you’re establishing this problem that you’re trying to solve. And people love to see if those problems are going to get solved and they love to see if this character is going to try out. You know, Trying to find and conquer this problem. And so if you announce, you know your student and say I’m in my third year of art school, my goal is to get a job at Disney animating and follow me on this path and we’ll see if we you know if I can get there and we can get there together right? So that’s one thing the other thing is, you know, I have work a day job and but I’ve my true passion is is children’s books and this is a children’s book story that’s been in me for so many years. And you know what, I’m just going to make it who wants to follow me as I make this this children’s book and just post online the progress as you make this children’s book it might take a year it might take two years or five years to do both of these things, you know, try to get a job or to try to make this thing but people slowly and surely as they see you consistently posting online will want to follow that and they want to see how that you know what happens and if you accomplish this thing and and and when you actually do accomplish it and when you actually do when, you know, that’s going to be a huge I think a huge thing that gives people to talk about and will also add more people to your to your followership. Now as far as, as how do you network and get and get work, I think it comes from that, you know, someone might see that you’re the student who’s who’s actively learning and getting better and showing progress. And they might see something in your work that they really like. And you might get called up by some smaller company that says, you know, we’re not Disney, but we see potentially a new and we’d like, you know, to see if you’re available for this one project. So, so there’s that then there’s also the best networking strategy is to actually go out and make friends in the industry that you want to work with. True genuine friendships and know that that nothing should ever come or you shouldn’t expect anything to come from. From that friendship. Initially, or for the first year, you know, and really, if you’re doing it right, you are making real friends. And you’re not making, you know, these, this building this network of people that you can just use. But, but what happens is you have these friends and they have jobs somewhere and they’re working on a thing. And they realized, you know, there’s this hole that needs to be filled at the studio. And they think I wonder who could fill this, oh, you know, this person right here, could could do it, let’s call him and ask him and see if they’re available. Every job that I’ve gotten, that’s been because of three things. Number one, I had the abilities to do it. So I was able to prove that I could do the job. Number two, I knew people that worked at this place, or they knew me. Maybe not personally, but they knew my work somehow, or they knew me from somebody else. And number three, timing or luck, you know, it just happened that they needed me at the right time that I needed them.
Yeah, perfect. I love that. Yeah. Because it’s necessary to have a good network and just like friends and yeah, you never know. Also, maybe it’s not artistic friends, you can meet them playing volleyball and maybe their friends need artists. So yeah,
Unknown Speaker 33:15
And what about like your projects and timing? And how do you design your day? Because as you said, you do so many things. So do you do something daily, which contributes to your success, like sport or meditation? Or do you have some spatial planning?
Jake Parker 33:36
So I like running. I don’t run every day, I’ve run a few times a week. And running is a good way for me to sort things out. It’s like almost a meditation. Or I get to just sort things out and think things through and prioritize what’s important. I also keep a planner. I’m pretty strict about my planner you can I’m just gonna pull it out. Skype camera here. You can see. Yeah, what I do with the planner is I record everything that I do day in and day out. So if I spend a half hour answering email, I write down the planner, spend a half hour answering email, if I spent, you know, 20 minutes watching YouTube videos, I write that in there. And what that happens is when I go to plan the next week, I can look at my past week and I look at the past few weeks and see, Oh, I know how long it takes for me to do this thing. I know when I’m more productive, and when I’m less productive, and I could see patterns of while I was really creative in the mornings here. So let’s plan creative activities are things that need to get done with creativity in the mornings in the future. And let’s save like construct our day so that when I am physically exhausted, I save my you know you YouTube watching for that. So it’s not interrupting my creative time. So there’s there’s that. So there’s the physical thing of running. There’s the mental thing, I guess, of planning the day out. And then I also try to take out time each day to read a book, I’m always reading some sort of book. And, and I usually take notes from the book or try to pull something that I’m learning from the book, if it’s even if it’s, you know, a fiction book about whatever. There’s still things you can learn from either story structure with the characters with the authors trying to save with their characters. But I do also like to read a lot of like, self, not self help, but like self improvement books as well. It’s like that,
like tools of the Titans by Tim Ferriss. Have you read that?
Jake Parker 35:53
I have it on my desk right there. I haven’t. I haven’t read the entire book. I kind of that’s a good book to like. see someone that you’re interested in learning about and reading that then pop over here and reading this? And yeah, I don’t think it’s meant to be read like cover to cover.
Oh no, it’s just like you can pin first like, okay, I like this or like that. Yeah. And can you share some other books if you like maybe some artistic books or something you will give as a gift.
Jake Parker 36:20
So I just gave this book as a gift to a friend of mine. It’s called Deep work by Cal Newport. And it’s, it’s a book about, I guess, strategies and, and the argument for staying, staying focused and, and working on in a focused manner in a society that’s getting much more distracted. Yeah, so I was just reading through that today this morning and and found some really, really nice tidbits of knowledge. Yeah, there’s
I read this one as well. It’s really good. Yeah. So I thought that’s a good one. And when you said also with the with the scheduling in your notebook Do you use also the digital tools or software like toggle? I use toggle for that when you can record your activities and it actually kind of like tracks your, like time. How much did you spend on each?
Jake Parker 37:21
Yeah, I don’t I’m very much an analog person. I, I met that age where the internet, I didn’t grow up with the internet. I didn’t, I didn’t really get an email address until I was 21, I think. And so I’m very much used to had writing things down and owning physical copies of things and writing and physical books and taking notes on paper and things like that. And so I think that’s always just going to be a part of me and so I always prefer to work that way as opposed to an artist. tried the digital stuff before and you know I was the early adopter of like, you know the digital planners you know, you could put in your pocket and things like that but I always come back to having a piece of paper having a book or having some sort of thing that I physically right and so that’s what I use and I figured we fight it anymore just just embrace it fully and and if there is a digital tool that becomes irresistible and I can’t live without it then of course I’m going to adopt it but for the most part, I haven’t found anything that’s really
really been necessary.
Go and what do you have like a favorite pen or like, favorite traditional tools.
Jake Parker 38:46
I’m, I’m really really really like the zebra through the brush pen.
This guy right here, and this is it’s just a nice brush pen that gives Me the kind of lines that I like to make when I when I draw, and I have a page on my website called It’s Mr. Jake Parker comm slash tools read list like all my favorite tools that I use, so people are interested in where to buy it and how to get it and they can go there and click on the link and and get it from Amazon.
So we can put the link to your website is also they can go directly there and check all the resources you have. And if you think about like, something you wish you knew before you started your whole art career, is there something you would give us an advice to young self
Jake Parker 39:37
um, I would advise my younger self to
to really embrace
hard work and, and embrace like you know, I haven’t distilled this in The exact like, soundbite that I want it to be at, but I would, I’m a lazy person. And I’m always fighting against that laziness. And, and I think, you know, there’s always in me just wanting to not work. And so, but I’ve been able to cope with that and overcome that in, you know, in this last decade of my life and what I would love to tell my 20 year old self is you’re lazy, and and you’re dumb and stupid. So go work hard, and go learn about things and and know that anything is accessible to you if you’re willing to put in the work and willing to learn about it. And it took me a lot of years to realize that and a lot of years I kind of just glided and kind of just, you know, coasted along on my my talent I guess and and didn’t really put forth the effort to try to get better at certain things and try to learn and grow in my understanding of certain things.
Yeah. And would you consider that there was something like the worst career moment so far or like a difficult time in your art career and what you learned from it?
Jake Parker 41:20
Yeah, I wouldn’t say this is the worst. But there was one time where I had reached a level of success that, you know, standing back and my younger self saw this would be super proud. And what it was, was I published a graphic novel with a major publisher. And, and that was like, who could ask for anything more than that, but for me, it wasn’t enough because it wasn’t like a New York Times bestseller, and it wasn’t selling amazingly well. It wasn’t making a ton of money and so for me, you know, the one hand like you got A book published you fit Not only did you finish a book, but you got it published. And, and I hung a lot of my, I guess my understanding of success on more of the accolades than more on just the work that was getting done. And so and so I had to, I guess what really shifted my understanding and made me realize it’s not about how much money the book makes or how well how well it sells or anything like that it’s about are you able to touch people’s lives or influence people’s with the thing that you made, even if it’s just a few people? And, and what helped me understand that helped me realize was I got an email from a woman who said that, that her son’s favorite book was missile mouse and this is a book that I came out with and Here I was like, thinking it wasn’t, you know, no, only a few people loved it and it wasn’t that big a thing but she said this was her son’s favorite thing. And she said that he was he was diagnosed with cancer. And it was really the only thing that gate was not the only thing but one of the few things that gave him like comfort and took his mind off of, you know that that hardship and right then I there written in there, I realized like, okay, it didn’t sell ton of copies. It didn’t, you know, didn’t reach the New York Times bestseller list, but this book made an impact in that kid’s life. And if that’s all it did, then then why should I complain that it didn’t do more than that, right? So from there on out, I realized, do the best you can at making a thing. work the hardest you can at promoting that thing and trying to get it out there and sell it and Then whatever happens, let that happen, and don’t focus on it and just keep moving forward on the next thing, and making that next thing. And because they’re really for me, you know, a lot of many years it was realizing that this is this is actually, you know, somewhat cliche, but it really is about the journey, not the destination, right. And it took me a long time to realize that, that, that if you’re not enjoying the daily grind of making the thing that you’re making, then what’s the point because it you know, if you’re just working towards that final outcome, that final outcome could totally not deliver, it could not be that thing that that gives you everything you dreamed of. And so then you’ve not only not enjoyed creating it, and now you’re not not enjoying the fruits of your creation. So at least get to the point where you create you’re enjoying creating it daily and working on Daily. And then whatever happens at the end there, you’ll you’ll,
you know, that’s just bonus.
Yeah. Because exactly as you said, you might be disappointed if you’re working years to get to a studio you want then then you get there and you’re like, Okay, so what now? Right. So yeah, and my last two questions are about the future. And I would like to know, how would you imagine your dream scenario from like, five to 10 years? What would you be doing? What are the projects? And the last question is about Far, far future and I would like to know, what would you like to be remembered for in like, hundred years? Hmm.
Jake Parker 45:41
Um, okay, so, the 10 year plan, the 10 year future thing I would like to I would really like to be doing what I’m doing now. Creating, working on the things that I’m working on. But
I let me think about that.
I would like to be a little less.
I want you to edit this.
I will make you look smart.
Jake Parker 46:20
I appreciate that.
So in 10 years, what I would like to see or what I envision would be the ideal thing would would still be working on the things that I’m working on now. That is having a personal project that I’m developing and working on. Still helping and teaching people and, and
you know, it’s still
I guess, having some autonomy and some independence by selling things through my through my online shop or through something like that. I’m really happy With where I am right now, and I wouldn’t like very much to change, I would just like, the projects to be a little bit more successful. I would like everything where it is now but just a little bit more successful so that, you know, there isn’t much worry about, is this going to, you know, is this going to bring in the amount of money that I needed to bring in to survive this, you know, just just to have a little bit more, I guess. I guess, appeal with people in the thing that I’m doing and enjoying the thing that I’m doing just as much as I’m doing it now.
And not too much to ask.
No, it’s good. Like, if you really enjoy what you’re doing now that the best scenario and then you know, just not to worry about money and then you can leave where you want then you can work on the projects you want. That’s the perfect thing. And whatever the hundred years whether you’d like to remember for it,
Jake Parker 48:02
yeah, so in 100 years, I would love it if my great great, great granddaughter found a box in the attic and opened it up. And in it, she sees all of my sketchbooks, and some of the books that I’ve worked on, and she sees my journals and she sees my notebooks. And it’s, I would love it if that was like something that she was really into. And it helped her to want to be creative and want to create things and and want to, you know, and just find kinship in a long lost ancestor and inspire her to go out and to make her own stories and to draw her books and to
you know, to write her her stories.
Wonderful. And before we say goodbye, maybe you can share the last piece of advice or again then then then we will finish.
Jake Parker 49:03
Okay, so this is something that is a mantra to me that I live by. And, and I try. I try to help people understand this as well. And the people who do understand this, I think have more success in what they’re doing. And that is three words finished, not perfect. And what I mean by that is it’s important. It’s more important that you finish things, then strive for perfection, and I think perfection actually comes. I think professionally, I should say strive for perfection at the cost of finishing things. I think you should strive for perfection, but not so much so that you never finish a thing. Okay. And so, that perfection comes to us as creators. by finishing things. Every time you finish something, you have a set of failures. That happened, but also set of successes. And those things combined are what teaches us how to improve and how to get better. And the more you finish something, the more that you put a thing out there and and it’s got your stamp on it that says this is finished and I approve of this, the closer you’re going to get to perfection Sunday. So to put it simply, again, finished, not perfect. Just keep reminding yourself that try and finish your thing. Don’t worry about perfection right now perfection is going to come later.
Awesome. And everyone can check out also your video which you made on this topic right on YouTube. So we can put the link to that as well there and thank you so much for being here. And it was so much fun.
Jake Parker 50:43
Yeah, thanks for thanks for having me on. I enjoyed it.
Perfect then thank you everyone for joining and see you in the next episode. Hope you guys enjoyed this interview. You can find all the resources is mentioned in this episode at art side of life.com just type a guest name in the third 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 reach and inspire more people like you. Also, don’t forget to subscribe to our side of life podcast, because I post new interview every single word day. If you want to watch the interviews, head over to art side of life.com slash 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.
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Hi, I am Iva (rhymes with “viva”). I am a full-time self-taught artist behind Art Side of Life® and a Top Teacher on Skillshare. I have 15 years of experience in the creative field as a concept designer, illustrator, art director, and now freelance artist, content creator, and art instructor. My goal is to help you get your creative groove on with Procreate and make awesome art through practical classes, tutorials, Procreate brushes, and guides on art tools, supplies and resources. About me »
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