Ep.82: Freelancing since she was 15 years old with Devin Elle Kurtz (Tamberella)

By Iva Mikles •  Updated: Jan 03, 2018 •  Interviews

Devin started her professional freelance illustrator career when she was only 15 years old! She creates stunning animals, creatures, and natural environment work. She loves to tutor and teach other artists as well and you can learn from her during private consultations or from her tutorials on Patreon and Gumroad.

Last year Devin started working as a Background Designer for the Rough Draft Studios in Burbank, who do art and animation for Futurama and also the newest project by Matt Groening and Netflix called Disenchantment.

Get in touch with Devin

Key Takeaways

“Draw something every day, even if it’s just a tiny doodle, keep the energy flowing!”

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 Devin for joining me today. See you next time!

All artworks by Devin Elle Kurtz, 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 I chat with inspiring artists five days a week. My name is Iva and my guest today is Devin Elle Kurtz, also known as Ambarella. You will learn how to start your art career from scratch, and what to focus on at the beginning.

Devin Elle Kurtz

If you’re not good enough, yet aren’t wise to to make living wages, then you should be focusing all your energy on getting better, and not on trying to make money this way. Like I would even recommend getting a different job, and just focusing all your free time on getting better until you can make real living wages.

Iva Mikles

They’ve even started your professional freelance illustrator courier when she was only 15 years old. She creates stunning animals, creatures and natural environment work. She loves to tutor and teach other artists as well as you can learn from her during private consultations, or from her tutorials on Patreon and Gambro. Last year, she started working as a background designer for rough draft Studios in Burbank, who do art and animation for Futurama. And also the newest project by mid gurning and Netflix called disenchantment. So please welcome David L. Kurtz. And let’s get to the interview. Welcome, everyone to the next episode of Art Side of Life. And I’m super happy to have Devin here. Hi, welcome. Hi, thank

Devin Elle Kurtz

you. Thank you for having me.

Iva Mikles

My pleasure. I’m super happy that it took time from your busy schedule and joined us here to inspire more people with your amazing artwork and your artistic story. And let’s start directly with your maybe first experience with the head with art and how did you get to art and like your first creative outlets?

Devin Elle Kurtz

All right, um, well, I definitely drew like my entire life. I was in kind of like a lucky unique situation where when I was two years old, my mom went back to school for graphic design, she went to college, she was she to learn to graphic design. And so she had a really early tablet, early Photoshop. And instead of giving me coloring books, when I was bored, she would sit me down with her tablet in Photoshop and painter. So I remember being like a toddler and playing around in Photoshop. So I, I was kind of lucky in that way because I just grew up with it. And I as I got older, I got really interested in digital art in general, it was like becoming, you know, a thing, like, there were all kinds of chat websites and drawing rooms and, and more and more websites were popping up where you could post your art, and I was getting really involved with that I really loved it. And when I was 11, or 12 I started doing, I did pencil sketching all the way through this as well. And when I was about that age, in middle school, I discovered that people would pay money for drawings, particularly drawings of their pets, like even like parents of of like kids from my school and you know, random people in my life, you know, who are older who had money, they were like, Oh, wow, I want a drawing of my cat or my dog. And I was like, wow, this is amazing, real money. What a concept. And I it pretty much just took off from there. As soon as I got this idea in my head that you could you know, art could be exchanged for money. Then I got really interested in it. And I started researching like all the ways that I could be a professional artist, I got really into the idea of working in animation. I was obsessed with Disney movies and also DreamWorks movies like Prince of Egypt and spirit. And I was researching, like all the time all the different careers that I could have all the different people who are doing what I wanted to do. I love the art of books for all those movies and I pretty much just from then I just continued to take commissions and that eventually as I like grew online. I it kind of transformed into freelance work when I was still pretty young like 15 Are 16 years old, I started doing freelance stuff for like Game Studios. A lot of children’s websites on apps as phone apps started emerging. And I’m 20 now. And I, just some months ago, I started working in house with an animation studio. But up until then it’s been just just freelance. But yeah, it was kind of a smooth transition.

Iva Mikles

But it’s amazing that you started so early, and then you can just experiment with the different, like, aspects of artistic life, like, do I want to be freelance or do I want to be in a studio? And so what make you made you actually like, decide do you want to be in a studio,

Devin Elle Kurtz

I really wanted to experience kind of the collaborative environment. And to kind of like, be in the same room at the same time with the people who I was working with, because I, I’ve worked a lot with other people on projects before. But it’s always been so distant, like, the closest that we’ll come to communicating will be, you know, like being in a Hangout online, you know, while we’re working. And there’s definitely like a delay of feedback, you know, like when you are working, and you really want to hear what the art director thinks, but they’re across the country, so or in another country. So I really wanted to have that kind of like live feedback and that environment with people around me and just kind of experienced that and see how I felt about it. Because I really love kind of the collaborative nature of art. And I wanted to experience that in full.

Iva Mikles

Because when you were working before as a freelancer, you’re fully supporting yourself already, right?

Devin Elle Kurtz

Yeah, yeah. I left home, I left my parents home. When I was 17. I went to art school for one year in Southern California at Laguna College of Art and Design, and it did not end up being for me. So I left and just freelanced and did take some classes at Concept Design Academy in Pasadena, which I like Super recommend. It’s just a it’s a non accredited school. So it’s not like you apply or anything, I would just take like one class at a time when I wanted to learn something. And I still intend to do that. But yeah. And how did

Iva Mikles

you how did you approach learning? You know, like, when you were like, Okay, now I want to learn, like how to draw pets when you started, right? And it’s like, okay, now I want to improve my life, or did you continue with what you are strong with? Or did you try to level up everything?

Devin Elle Kurtz

I definitely would, like dedicate time to learning things. Once I realized, I think that art could be a real career, which I was, you know, I was pretty young when I realized that, but it wasn’t something that people, you know, talk about that much. It was like as dawn like this dawning realization, like, oh, my gosh, I can I can do this, then I was like, Wait, I’ve seen it really good. It’s gonna be really hard to do this. I remember, like, when I was quite young, I, when I was trying to figure out how to draw different Disney characters, I wanted to draw them just like they were in the movies, I would just sit down and I would get screenshots of the movie. And I would just draw the character over and over and over again, just all the different facial expressions and try to get everything in the right spots, like all the eyes, and, and then as soon as I was done with that, I would try to come up with my own expressions and still haven’t make it look the same. And like years later, I’m like, wow, that’s an exercise. That was good. That just came together randomly. But I wouldn’t do stuff like that. And my mom would come into my room at like, two in the morning and be like, hey, you need to be asleep and not doing school. But I was I was like, obsessive, I feel like a lot of us, who drew from when we were young, we had that period of time when we were just like, crazy obsessive with just drawing and painting and everything and just like we desperately wanted to be better. You know? I, I definitely had I went through that, like, for sure. And I think that helped me a lot. But um, I had very supportive parents, luckily, who gave up on being like your computer time is up because I would just be sitting on Photoshop. Go ahead of your screen. You know, they’re trying to be those like nice hippie parents who were like screens are bad. And not working out so well with me, um, but they ended up being really supportive. My dad’s a photographer, my mom’s a graphic designer, so they, but they were supportive, but they’re also like, yeah, you do need to study. You need books. You know, you have this money now that you’re making you need to reinvest that in your career, you’re building your business, they like emphasize that from the young age, like if you’re gonna be self supporting, and be then be an artist and you want to do this, then you need to build your business, you need to build a following, you need to build like a foundational base, you need to learn the basics of everything my dad would employ me to do retouching for him in Photoshop, which was great, because I really learned a lot of the tools in Photoshop, my mom would, from a young age taught me a lot of graphic design skills, like things, she was learning about color, and I learned how to do some, like basic web editing stuff, too. So I was able to, like get my website going. Build My Online Business, essentially. And they’re very helpful with that. And I think that really helped me study, you know, it helped me Give me a good like foundational base and support system to like, get the resources I needed by books, by tutorials and stuff, and they gave me like that sense of dedication, like I need to reinvest my money and things that will help me which was good, because I don’t know if I would naturally would have done that. Without that sort of guidance, just looking at it as a business when you’re just enjoyed throwing and how to build these right? And started with the VNR. Right, and then you move on to other platforms. Yeah, I was on DeviantArt from a young age, like before, you’re allowed to be on DeviantArt. So maybe I won’t say they don’t care at this point. But um, yeah, what I was really young, I started on DeviantArt. And then, you know, all these other platforms came about pretty much after that, but DeviantArt has been the base I jumped off of for everything.

Iva Mikles

So what is your now go to platform you spent the most time

Devin Elle Kurtz

probably Instagram just because it’s so easy to like, open it up, and just like scroll through your feed and see all kinds of art, and I like compulsively open that app all the time working on that. Instagram?

Iva Mikles

And do you have maybe some some tips for people, they’re just starting out maybe how to do either networking, or how to get yourself noticed?

Devin Elle Kurtz

Yes, um, I think that with the way that Instagram and a lot of social media are today, there’s a huge amount of people trying to become known. So it’s almost, so it’s almost like you have to kind of take advantage that and work with the people around you. Because most of the algorithms are based on the more feedback you get, the more interaction the more the more people interact with your posts, the higher they go on people’s feeds. So that’s actually kind of an important aspect. So you can find a bunch of people who are in the same place as you know, both art wise and maybe community wise, and work together, you know, all comment on each other stuff, give each other you know, constructive feedback on like each other’s posts and just kind of try to propel each other higher. I think that’s one of the best ways you know, creating like cooperative groups trying to get people’s posts seen, you know, featuring each other, that sort of thing. Because then you have the opportunity to all reach more eyes at the same time and help each other. And you’ll also develop, you know, really great friendships that will help you out in the future.

Iva Mikles

Definitely, yeah, because I mean, just to engage with others and you get actually also good feedback and just make new friends as well so and do you also go for some, like, catch club events or something in your area?

Devin Elle Kurtz

Um, I try to I love to do stuff like that. I love to go to events and stuff. My life is pretty hectic right now. So I haven’t had the time to for a long for a couple months now for like half a year, which is really sad. And I want to Yeah, and there’s like the weekend warriors in LA who go and do plein air painting. And I have a lot of friends who do that and I want to, but sadly right now, no, but I love to in the future. Yes, yes.

Iva Mikles

And can you mention maybe also some conventions? People should you know like visit which are good? Oh, sure. Um,

Devin Elle Kurtz

well, I do a lot of conventions in the area because I sell prints at conventions. That’s like one of my businesses I guess. Um, so I do like all the ones in the LA area and even some of the up the coast just California ones for now. I would say WonderCon is really great on La Comic Con is another really good one. I really like those two for kind of comic conventions. For if you do like anime stuff, then Anime Expo can be good. It’s really huge though. So I don’t know if I would recommend that to someone who like maybe hasn’t been to convention before. Let’s see. I do a lot of little ones too, which I like the little ones because they’re kind of more personal, but um, like, I do. I did Long Beach shows recently. There’s a A smaller show called animate LA, which is actually not in Los Angeles. It’s in, like, East. It’s like 40 minutes east? Because the name used to be in LA. Yeah, but um, the yeah, those are the main ones I guess I would recommend in this area. Yeah. So

Iva Mikles

that’s one part of your income as well to sell prints. And what are the other ones? If you can mention, we talked about the art tutorials a bit? Or how do you build your income streams? All right.

Devin Elle Kurtz

Um, so yeah, so what for I work in house, in a studio, obviously, that’s my, one of my main income sources. Now before then, it was a lot of, you know, random freelance gigs. When you’re a freelancer, you hop around projects a lot. So there’s that whole like section. And then my Patreon and Gumroad, which I even though they’re two separate things, I kind of lumped them together, because of the same resources, I just take my Patreon resources, and then I put them on Gumroad and sell them there, too. And those two have been one of my big income streams, which is all my tutorials and resources, I’m very into making art resources available for everybody, and not just rich people and people who willing to go into a lot of debt. So I have been working on those for almost two years now, that’s been one of my big income sources. And then conventions, like we talked about. Online print sales, I guess, would be another one. Some, like speaking at events, and that sort of thing, which I would say is not so much like that’s more of like the public relations side of being an artist more like the public figure side of being an artist is another smaller, but still, I guess, mentionable stream of income. Yeah, I think those are are the main ones.

Iva Mikles

What do you think like when someone is just starting out, and you don’t have the network and yet, and just to find new projects, and new paid projects and figure out like the pricing and all of that that’s another beast? But what would you advise someone who doesn’t have the artistic community around? Or maybe they didn’t start it like super young? And, you know, do you have maybe some experience in that or advice? Like, how to approach it? How to start it?

Devin Elle Kurtz

Um, yes, well, I have done. Yes, no, I’ve done a lot of tutoring. I’ve tutored a lot of young artists, I recently had to stop doing that, because time stuff, but I did that for quite a while over a year. And that’s a big question that I’ve got. So I’ve worked with a lot of people trying to get that going on. I think that, like the main two things, it, I don’t want to say this in a way that sounds discouraging. But it can be it can be really difficult to get going. I think the two main things that I like encourage my students to think about always is think about long term, because it’s not going to be it’s not going to be something that comes together unless you’re really, really lucky, it’s not probably not going to come together for you like this month, or maybe next month, or probably not even the month after that. But thinking like a year ahead, like how can I budget myself and plan my future so that I can get things going and just kind of ramp them up slowly, because I think if you’re doing if you’re working online, and you’re trying to base your business online, the first mission is going to be to get known. Because if you get known, then the jobs are gonna start coming to you. There are different ways to do that you can apply for you know, different things, if you see a project has a spot open, you can apply for that. And if you’re really good, then you might get it. So you got you kind of have two options, you can be really good or you can work really hard to market yourself. And, and you kind of have to find that balance. Like there are some people who are really bad at marketing themselves and they don’t put not bad like they like they’re they suck at it just that they don’t that’s not something they put effort into. They don’t need to because they’re so good that the jobs just come to them. And then there are also people who are really good and they’ve not gotten lucky. So they haven’t been noticed. They haven’t put that kind of effort into marketing. And then there are some people who there may be not the best artist in the world. They’re good, you know, they’ve got talent, but they’re they’re true talent. I would say that I’m very impressed. Why is that marketing skills there are some artists who are just ridiculously good at marketing themselves. Like they are so good at it and I truly admire them and I try to, you know, see, like, see what they’re doing. So I can give students similar advice because they you know, they know what they’re doing. Um, there’s a there’s a great podcast, another Art Podcast, you might know about it called One fantastic week. That I think is a really good resource for people who are trying to figure out how to market themselves. So that’s like, that’s, I think their main focus is trying to figure out how to how artists market themselves. But yeah, I either got to focus on getting really good or focus on marketing or ideally focus on both. Because if you can, if you can be really good, really friendly and really marketable, then you’re gonna get known, you know, if you can, if you can get those three things, but the truth is, you only actually need two of them. Like you don’t need all three, you can, if you can be really good, really friendly, and really good at marketing. You’re good, you’re golden. But if you can just be really friendly and really good at marketing, you’re also going to be okay, and if you can be really friendly and really good, but maybe you’re not the best at marketing, you’re probably going to be okay, too. So like, that’s good news.

Iva Mikles

Yeah, exactly. Yeah. Because I heard also this theory before, that’s actually totally true. Like, if you can keep the deadlines and talk to clients, and you are good, that’s good. Or like keeping deadlines and doing the marketing yourself. So yeah, definitely. Yeah. And can you maybe mentioned some one peep from the the marketing what you heard, or what you saw around? If you remember something?

Devin Elle Kurtz

Sure. Um, yeah, so like, if you’re just getting going, and you’re trying to price yourself, like, let’s, let’s talk about that for a second. Look at people in the industry and try to find people who are doing art that you think is about the same level, as you see the volume of commissions that they’re doing and their pricing like, you know, make pretty much make a spreadsheet out of it, even talk to them if you have the opportunity to and and just pretty much try to come up with an average, you know, you don’t you want to be working for living wages at all times. I you know, this isn’t always possible. But the advice I give is that if you’re not good enough, yet aren’t wise to to make living wages, then you should be focusing all your energy on getting better. And not on trying to make money this way. Like, I would even recommend getting a different job. And just focusing all your free time on getting better until you can make real living wages, because it makes me really sad to see people who are making non living wages. So find find artists who are about the same level as you find their prices, make a real spreadsheet, like get all the numbers, talk to some of them, and then pretty much just come up with an average, like what works for you, if you want to get a little bit more work than they’re getting, maybe lower it a little bit, if you want to get less work, but make a little more money, raise the prices a little bit. And that’s how you kind of find your sweet spot. And then you can just, you know, raise those prices over time.

Iva Mikles

Oh, perfect. That’s really good advice. Because then a lot of people are just struggling exactly with this when you are just starting out, like how do I price myself? And yeah, what do I do? Basically? Because if you have, like, not such a high demand, and you’re not sure if you’re good enough and all of these problems, yeah, it can be it can be hard. Definitely. And what about the like a topic? What do you draw or something? What is your experience when you started out? Or just over time? You know, did you have a patient with drawing animals from the beginning and then just like seeing the people want their pet to be drawn or so what was kind of like the balance of what people want and what you have the passion in?

Devin Elle Kurtz

Hmm, I think that I really love drawing and painting animals. It’s really fun for me, I love like learning the anatomy. And I really wanted to do a scientific illustration for a long time. And really just like draw like anatomy and stuff like that. The truth is that there aren’t that many jobs in this there are some and I definitely a portion of my freelance work was animal related, but it was honestly more like 30% I’ve always had more work that was not necessarily creature art and animal related because I don’t do so much of the creature design I would do some for like games and stuff. And that’s mainly the work I would get those animal related. Truthfully, a lot of the freelance that I’ve done is not something that I’ve really posted on because my following online is very dedicated, they like I know what they want to see. And it’s not necessarily all of this freelance stuff that I do so you know, I’ll put that on my website or keep it separate once the NDA is up, because I kind of feel like I have especially now that I’m doing the tutorials I kind of have like a you know, a brand like a like a thing going with animal art and that’s a kind of my my focus with the following that I’ve built there but there’s not always a ton of work in that like the work I do in house is totally completely different from that and I’ve had to build you know, my my other skills at the same time mainly environment design, you know, other more typical concept design stuff but I do really love animal drawing and painting and it’s still like a huge passion of mine which is why all my not all but a lot of my resources are in that area. Yeah. So

Iva Mikles

you were keeping the social networks or like the Instagram with a one consistency just that the animals so either light on the animal or fur or different animal poses, sketches and other words on the website.

Devin Elle Kurtz

You Yeah, yeah, I have a I, I have, like, I have posted some things that are not, uh, you know, super on brand or whatever brand, would it you know, whatever you want to call it. But for the most part, you know, I tried to just I, you know, I have enough volume of work to keep that going. So, you know, I may as well keep it in the same general sphere of relation, you know, if I’m posting that, and then I have like pencil sketches of cathedral designs, like, you know, people aren’t necessarily going to want to see that maybe some people will. But the majority of people who like came to see, you know, like cool lions, hunting stuff, and like creature designs are not going to necessarily want to see like complicated geometric like pencil designs for cathedrals for a video. differently. Yeah,

Iva Mikles

actually, when you were mentioning the Commission’s I also wanted to ask, did you charge per hour or per project?

Devin Elle Kurtz

Um, it definitely varied, I was honestly pretty loose with that it really was like, what was needed at the moment?

Iva Mikles

What do you better do you think?

Devin Elle Kurtz

It’s kind of hard to say that as well, it really kind of have to get a feel for what works for you. Because I’m someone who hops around a lot. I like to work on a lot of different projects at once, even in the same day. And I also like to, like watch Netflix and do other things while I work while I’m freelancing. So that sort of a lifestyle doesn’t necessarily lend itself to doing everything hourly, because it’s a lot of a lot to keep track of, you know, if you if you stopped to take a lot of breaks and like switch move around a lot. That said, I still did charge hourly for a lot of things, but it was how much I knew it took in the end, you know what I mean? Because I had a really good feeling for how long different things were going to take me. And that ended up working well, you know, as long as if you’re doing the flat rate, as long as you know how long something’s going to take you it’s pretty much the same thing. You know, in the end, it’s pretty much the same thing. You know, if you’re freelancing, definitely, if something if you realize something’s going to take longer than you initially thought, and you’re not working for a bunch of apples, then tell them and most of the time, if it’s a if it’s a bigger company, they’re going to work with you, you know, they want it to be good. They want it to be the best work that it can be. So whether it’s flat rate or hourly, making sure you get the compensation that you’re worth is like the main thing.

Iva Mikles

Yeah, that’s really good. Yeah. Because also just when you talked about the Commission’s like, on the social media, but also maybe pricing with, with the companies to see maybe what is the average salary in your country or in your area? So you can kind of break it down and see what you can ask, you know, in your level, right, that’s how you maybe,

Devin Elle Kurtz

yeah, I think once you by the time you are, how do I phrase this, most young artists start with more individual one off commissions, then bigger freelance projects. And I found that most of at least most of my students these days, most, by the time they’re getting into the bigger freelance projects, they have their feet in the water pretty pretty well, they kind of have a feeling for what they’re making, you know, what the industry is, like, especially because I’m always encouraging them to do as much research as they can, and be asking as many people as they can about, you know, what, what are we making, you know, how are we doing as an industry? How can we do better? How can we support our up and coming artists?

Iva Mikles

Definitely. So and also, when you said like, about the like, how you word Bally? How do you design your day? You know, like, do you have like daily rituals? You do and are something which contributes to your success?

Devin Elle Kurtz

Yeah, yeah, I think so. Um, I, for a long time, I’ve always done warm ups, which my Instagram is full of them. And like half of the things on my Instagram are warmups, which are great because it gives you lots of Instagram fodder. But I’d say that was a big thing, like just taking an hour before jumping into any like bigger project to do a painting some sort of warm up painting get like the energy flowing and that helps you have something that you’ve done something that you’ve accomplished every single day because especially for working on a bigger projects, and it’s maybe going to take a few weeks, having then at the end of those you know, two weeks like 10 Warm up paintings, and that big painting is a great feeling, you know, wow, look at all this art that I’ve done and all these things I’ve explored. So that I think has been really great. These days. As I as I’m working in house, I’ve been designing my day, definitely differently than when I was doing freelance. I was a lot more kind of go with the flow and looser when I was doing freelance but now I have to be really structured to get everything done because I have so many. I have so many different things in the fire right now. I have so many different things going so I get up at six or 630 eat in the morning, and I work on freelance stuff or Patreon stuff or convention things for three hours. And then I go to work and I’m there for about nine hours because I take a lunch break in the middle. And then when I get home, I usually will have that be like my studying time, which is it’s kind of too much right now. Like, I’m not recommending that anyone does this, like that is too many hours of art per day, and I’m gonna get wrist problems. If I keep this up. It’s not gonna be forever. No, I mean, I do my exercises. Don’t worry guys, I do my wrist exercises, but it’s still a little bit too much. But I’ve been I’ve been taking a class right now while I’m working, doing Patreon. I have freelance projects going still that I’m winding down, which I won’t be doing freelance anymore while I’m working because I’m doing Patreon and also conventions. I won’t be taking any more classes for the foreseeable future. So this actually this like this week, I’m looking at my calendar right now, this week that I’m I’m going to be going through is kind of going to be the last super intense week, I think crossing my fingers and then I’m going to have a little more free time. But that would be that’s my day, like right now which is busy, but you get a lot of art done.

Iva Mikles

So what do you do for like resting or recharging like the it was either watching the Netflix or the the also some sports or meditation or something like that.

Devin Elle Kurtz

Um, I have a little dog, I’ve little sheep, you know, and we love to like go hiking with her, me and my boyfriend. So that is a really good like way to relax or take her to the beach or to the dog park or pretty much anywhere because it’s a lot of fun to watch her, watch her run around and do stuff. And I actually have been getting really into photography too. So I like to go out and take photos. I got a photography drone recently. So I like to take that out and take some cool aerial shots, so different areas, and that those tie in really well with hiking and going to the beach. And so yeah, just like being out in nature. And sometimes I’ll take my sketchbook and like do some sketching out there too.

Iva Mikles

Oh, perfect. Yeah, that sounds like fun. Yeah, do you have like some resources you can recommend about like the learning, you know, like, either books or documentaries or other online resources? Maybe?

Devin Elle Kurtz

Yes, definitely. Well, I love art books, which all of that or at least a portion of it, I’m definitely school ism is a really good one, I would totally recommend that anyone who wants to learn stuff goes to school ism, you don’t need to take like the feedback classes which are like I think like $1,000 but they have like a subscription where you can just watch all the videos and honestly, like anyone who wants to make this their career, I would recommend just going and watching all of them because it’s comparatively like such little money for the quality of information that you’re getting. Because they’re they’re the same quality of information that you’ll get at a art school that costs you know, $200,000 for education. Yeah, so um, so that is really good one um CGMA is also a really good one that’s another online school. It’s the CG master academy and they have a 2d section and a 3d section. It’s another really good one on art podcasts like this like one fantastic week like Bobby Bobby to level up. All of them just have them playing while you’re working really good. You hear get so much information from other artists who are in the industry. As far as books go, I have some favorites for color James Gurney his color and light and imaginative realism which are very well known, but I they’re just like amazing resources. For figure drawing, actually, one of my recent favorites has been Nathan foxes figure figure, Figure in charcoal, or portrait in charcoal book which came out recently really good probably one of the best resources for like drawing and painting humans, even if even if you’re not doing it in charcoal, that’s like not necessary. It just gives you so much information about how to like simplify the human face, which is a pretty important aspect these days for a lot of jobs out there. I’m like looking looking back here. The how to draw and how to render books by Scott Robertson are super full of information. Those are they can be a little bit tedious to get through but very worthwhile. Um, so yeah, I’ll stop there because I can I can keep going. Yeah, yeah,

Iva Mikles

yeah, I hit I didn’t have the Nathan Fox book yet because I did also his course is about the environment and coloring Live from school ism as well, they were super nice. And I’m like excited to give his book as well.

Devin Elle Kurtz

Yeah, I know his book is fantastic. If you like his way of teaching, then like, you’ll like I want like a school ism course on this subject so bad now.

Iva Mikles

But maybe he’s working on it already, because they mentioned that they are working on the new courses with already existing teachers. So that might be something perfect. And is there also something like going back to your art career, like difficult time or the worst moment of your art career? And if so, what do you learn from it or kind of like a fakeaway

Devin Elle Kurtz

I’ve actually, I’ve had a lot of panic moments before. And I will call it like, those are moments where I realized that I have too many things in the fire, I’m spinning too many plates at once. And there aren’t enough hours in the day to get done. All of the things and I’ve had like I’ve had a lot of these because this is kind of what I do to myself, I take on way too much at once. And it’s something that I’ve had to work on through the years, like it’s been a major problem where I overestimate how much I can handle. And it’s it’s mainly situations where I give myself no wiggle room, like I could get everything done if nothing else happened in my life. But then, of course, that’s when the dog gets sick and that’s when I get sick I have a chronic illness actually. So it’s like super bad for me to do this because high stress situations can like land me in the hospital, which is really hard to get good at not a great combination. But I have an every single time that that’s happened, everything’s been okay. Which is just like I’ve actually never had a moment where it’s like destroyed me in the end, I’ve still managed to get through it every single time. It’s mainly been telling people hey, this is what’s going on. I’m not gonna be able to make this deadline but doing it enough in advance so that’s not last minute like figuring out how to you know, how to navigate that what things kind of like go that’s been a really important skill that I’ve had to learn like I’ve had to let some things go sometimes it’s been a class like I’ve been taking the class and then I realized I cannot make my work requirements and my school requirements at the same time so gonna have to let that go. But yeah, I’ve actually i I am someone who is prone to thinking everything is fine and then breaking down and having a panic attack like a final moment and realizing Wow, everything’s not okay, there’s way too much going on. But despite that, I cannot think of a single moment where it has like really like screwed me over or anything which is good I think I think that’s a little bit comforting like now when it happens and like okay, I’ve gotten through every single one of these so far. good track record is probably going to be okay.

Iva Mikles

So you’ll learn how to prioritize and like book like maybe value to the project is how important or like the deadlines and everything God is like urgent and important at the same time and all of Yes. Yeah, and when you’re doing so many projects, what is kind of going on in your head where you want to decide like okay, I cannot like take this one on when to say no.

Devin Elle Kurtz

I think that um, initially when I was first starting out doing a lot especially when I first left like two and a half three years ago when I first left real art school to be a freelancer I was like man I better take everything because I’m not doing school now I have all this time and so I did I took like everything for a little while. And then I was like okay, let’s slow down for a moment. I cannot breathe this needs change. So I think that on it like for me it’s been a lot more based on what projects will I enjoy then which will be the most like monetarily beneficial? Because I would rather do more projects that I enjoy then less that the ones that have been a few that I enjoy less but that pay better if that makes sense. Because I mean obviously you know you always want to be compensated well I’m not saying that I would ever not like like undercut the industry or anything but um but I like I if I find myself on a project that I’m really not enjoying I slipped super regretted later so I would always take ones that I like really felt a passion for like really connected with the people I was working with or like the subject matter or like what I was doing or maybe not even necessarily like what I was drawing but like the the meaning behind it or just like some aspect just making sure like connected with it and was really motivated to do it. Yeah, good but I think that was a luxury like I do want to say that that is like kind of a luxury and I am really lucky to have the chance to do that to make those kind of decisions. And I definitely realized that like, I’m in a, I’m in a privileged position to be able to do that.

Iva Mikles

Yeah. But it came also over time, right? It wasn’t like, at the beginning. So that’s yes, absolutely. And what about some projects you’re working on now or something which is coming up in the future? What do you can share? Maybe which is not confidential?

Devin Elle Kurtz

Yeah. Um, so I am working on on the, the next project by rough draft Studios, which there’s a press release out if, if anyone who is watching just wants to Google like Netflix, Matt groaning project, then it will come up. I don’t want to say anything more than that. But I’m very excited. I’m, like, so excited for this project. And they’ll release more information over time if people want to keep tabs on it. But I got notes. It’s like, really fun to be working on this project. And especially to be one of like the few people who’s working on it right now. Because we’re like a really small, passionate team. So that’s pretty cool. But that won’t be I won’t be able to say much more for like a long time on that for like, a while. So just

Iva Mikles

so you will be more out like next year or you don’t know that yet either. I

Devin Elle Kurtz

actually like have no idea. I’m sure the release like bits over time. As as more is more information is released. But I don’t know anything about that. That’s totally not in my in my area. So I’ll, when more is released, I’ll totally like link it to my followers and stuff.

Iva Mikles

Perfect. And then we can put it also in the show notes later on when? Yeah, this will be out perfect. And we didn’t talk actually about your tools. And what do you use actually, for work? Do you work with Photoshop? And like Cintiq? Or Intuos? Or what are your go to, like, favorite tools?

Devin Elle Kurtz

Favorite tools would be Photoshop, and my Cintiq 22 HD Cintiq and I’m super used to it. I can’t imagine working on anything else. At this point. I used an Intuos for a long time. Like there’s really nothing wrong with that up until I was like 18 So only in the last like two years have I switched to Cintiq but I wouldn’t go back now it’s very comfortable for me. Yeah.

Iva Mikles

And when you travel do you take like a sketchbook or because they are the Cintiq 22 is not really portable.

Devin Elle Kurtz

So I take a sketchbook definitely and I also have an iPad with procreate that is like actually becoming a really cool little program like you can do a lot in procreate they, especially with the recent updates that have come out like it’s it’s, it’s getting, it’s getting there. And it’s going to be it’s going to be a force to be reckoned with.

Iva Mikles

Oh, nice. Nice. Yeah. Because I was also just talking about these other interviews, like I want to get that one as well. So because I work on the Cintiq. And I’m like, okay, the procreate and iPad Pro sounds good. And everyone is just recommending it. So I think that’s something to try in the future for sure.

Devin Elle Kurtz

Yeah, totally.

Iva Mikles

And then what about some future projects? Like where would you see yourself in like five to 10 years? And what would be your dream scenario? What would you like to have going on? And just like, you know, this is how it should be? Oh, wow. Um,

Devin Elle Kurtz

I think I would like to have built up a lot of online resources, and have like, a whole set of online resources for like students who are looking for art education, that is like one goal that I have, which is kind of slowly working towards helping provide, like affordable art education. And like, I guess, career goal wise, I would love to do a book at some point. I think that’d be a lot of fun, especially since I do convention so much. And books can be a really nice, like, accent piece for a table at conventions. So that’s one that I’m interested in. Um, I think that I really am enjoying working in TV and at some point, I would like to work in movies as well. So because I’ve done games, I’m doing TV now. It’d be cool to do movies. So then I have that kind of like all three of the of the kind of areas so I guess those would be my major goals work in movies. Have a really robust online store and do a book

Iva Mikles

perfect then I do already create some stories for yourself, you know, like maybe for your characters or you know, like when you want to do the book or the book will be more like an art book or something with a background story and universe.

Devin Elle Kurtz

I’m thinking that it will. Mainly it will probably be an art book with how possibly instruction instructional elements to it some sort of an animal painting or animal drawing book. Because there aren’t a ton of resources out there like in that range like and there are a lot of like how to draw animals books, which are really specifically like drawing animals. And then there are like books of paintings of animals, but there aren’t that many like, this is how you paint animals, books, especially ones that are like modern, because I have a lot of techniques. Now, like I go to the zoo a lot, I have camera equipment that I used to take reference, and I feel like that would kind of structure itself well into a book. So it’s probably the area I would focus in.

Iva Mikles

Oh, perfect. Yeah, I definitely get that I like to draw animals as well. So that’s really nice. And your paintings are amazing. So I’m always like, looking at it. I was like, wow. And what is the thing? What do you learn about creating characters? Or animals? Or if you if you have to give like one advice, like what is the most important when you’re creating a character or animal?

Devin Elle Kurtz

I think no matter what you’re creating, I know this is taking away slightly from the topic that I promised humans back to no matter what you’re creating, if you’re creating something, if you’re trying to come up with a concept that you want people to connect with. The most important thing is observation. observing the world around you, how do people carry themselves? How does this animal carry itself? What is your like emotion? What is the emotional impact of this thing that you want to design? And then trying to focus not on? Not on just drawing it literally, like what do you see in front of you, but incorporating how you feel about it, those little motions, the little actions, little gestures that make something feel real and that your audience will connect to that really quickly?

Iva Mikles

Yeah, that’s definitely a good idea as well like also to learn how to observe right, when you go out and everything it’s like, so complex, and how to boil it down. And so it’s Yeah, the whole complex. And so what my last question actually would be about part of our future, and I would like to know, what would you like to be remembered for in like, 100 years.

Devin Elle Kurtz

I think that I would love to be remembered as someone who helped make our education more accessible to more people who kind of helped take it away from where it still is kind of lingering now as this establishment that is very hard to get into and hard to manage financially into something that people who, you know, everyone from people who are affluent to people who are living in poverty, have an opportunity to participate and be a part of.

Iva Mikles

Yeah, that’ll be beautiful. Yeah, because there are so many people, they just want to learn, and it’s just too expensive for the golfer convention is far away. And yeah, that’s great message. I love them. And thank you so much for being here. It was so much fun.

Devin Elle Kurtz

Thank you for having me at a great time. And uh, maybe before

Iva Mikles

we say goodbye, you can share your last advice or key takeaway, and then we will finish.

Devin Elle Kurtz

Sure, all right, um, draw something every day. Even if it’s just like a tiny doodle or a line on a page. Just keep like the energy flowing, and make sure that you never become afraid of your art, and that it’s always something that you feel intuitively.

Iva Mikles

Yeah, amazing. And thank you so much, again for being here. And thanks, everyone for joining and see you in the next episode. Thank you so much for my 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 Art Side of Life podcast 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.

Recommended:

Ep.44: Chloe Rose on personality of the artist is as important as the art itself

Ep.44: Chloe Rose on personality of the artist is as important as the art itself

Chloe has very entertaining and insightful videos for artists on Youtube, where she is constantly growing her community.

Ep.108: Why it’s important to market your art with Alba Bordes from Made of Sundays

Ep.108: Why it’s important to market your art with Alba Bordes from Made of Sundays

Hey, guys! In this episode, I am chatting with Alba Bordes, the co-founder of Made of Sundays studio in Finland. Together with her husband and her sister they started producing cute stickers and creative wall decoration for both homes and offices.

Ep.151: Atey Ghailan aka Snatti on why should always have your personal art projects

Ep.151: Atey Ghailan aka Snatti on why should always have your personal art projects

Hey, guys! In this episode, I am chatting with Atey Ghailan, a.k.a Snatti, a concept artist, and illustrator, in LA. He works as Senior Illustrator and concept artist at Riot Games. In his free time, he works on his personal project called Path of Miranda.

Ep.145: How to find your art style with Abigail Larson

Ep.145: How to find your art style with Abigail Larson

Hey, guys! In this episode, I am chatting with Abigail Larson, a mixed-media illustrator. Her work appeared in Spectrum Fantastic Art, Art Fundamentals, and Digital Artist and she’s worked with publishers like IDW Publishing, Titan Comics, 3DTotal.

Ep.134: How to build your credibility with Aiman Akhtar (Fungisaurs)

Ep.134: How to build your credibility with Aiman Akhtar (Fungisaurs)

Hey, guys! In this episode, I am chatting with Aiman Akhtar, a freelance 3D Artist who specializes in character development and 3D print design. He is the creator of a toy line Fungisaurs, the cute hybrid of dinosaurs and mushrooms.

Ep.105: On importance of staying open to opportunities with Tyson Murphy

Ep.105: On importance of staying open to opportunities with Tyson Murphy

Tyson is a principal Artist at Riot Games. He used to be a Lead Character Artist on World of Warcraft at Blizzard Entertainment!