Ep.196: What’s new with Djamila Knopf

By Iva Mikles •  Updated: Jun 04, 2019 •  Interviews

In this episode, we are chatting with Djamila about what is new in her life since we talked two years ago! Enjoy!!

Get in touch with Djamila

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

All artworks by Djamila Knopf, used with permission

Episode Transcript

Iva Mikles  

So hello, welcome guys to a new episode of Art Side of Life. And I’m super happy to jump right here. Hi. So welcome back after Yeah, already more than a year, right? Yeah, it went by so fast.

Djamila Knopf  

It did. Yes. I checked like the time. I think it was July of 2017 When we asked to talk, so it’s been a while. Yeah. Oh,

Iva Mikles  

wow. Yeah. So I’m looking forward to hear more like, what’s new with you and how your artistic career progress and where you are now. And so maybe just to refresh for people like when we last time spoke, maybe if you can mention like, what if you remember, like, what was your main thing? What were you doing? Because if I remember correctly, you were still doing little bit of Commission’s, but you were mostly creating your own art for your shop. Right? And then where did you go from there? How did you decide what, what are the next steps?

Djamila Knopf  

Okay, if you say so that was still the time when I did a few commissions. I honestly don’t remember. I was thinking I was already doing my own thing. But

Iva Mikles  

yeah, most I think that was the your own artwork. That was your like, main focus. But maybe you were just like quitting the last commission? Yeah, I remember correctly.

Djamila Knopf  

Yeah, I think you’re you must be right. I just have a terrible memory, with everything. But yeah, I was doing my own thing, I opened my store and everything. And that’s still going well, I moved my store over from store envy to my own website, which has been a very nice change. So people, like more people are coming directly to my website. And it’s, it has just become a little destination to go there other than having everything spread out. And what else I I was doing that and Patreon. And Patreon has been developing very well I changed it. After we talked to a system where I have only one tear, pay what you want, where everyone can just give me like $1 If they want or more. And they get my layered Photoshop files of all my illustrations like in a smaller format, but you can still see all the layers and go through and store discount and some other stuff. And we do exclusive live streams, three other artists and me every month. So that’s in there, too. So yeah, Patreon has become like a big thing for me every month just in terms of income, which wasn’t the case when we last talked, it was just still very small. But the change to that one to your thing has really worked for me, I understand that it doesn’t work for everyone. But for me, it has been just the right thing. That was yeah, that was the situation. And I added some things I started going to conventions. And I am just starting to get back into teaching. I will be doing some workshops and like an online course and yeah,

Iva Mikles  

things right. So when we like maybe start with what you said that the first change was to put the shop in your website, right. So why did you decide to do that like to maybe to share with others like why there is better because it is better.

Djamila Knopf  

For me, I was using store envy, which has a lot of advantages. It was nice to begin with, because it’s free. You don’t have to pay a fee just to put your stuff up there, which I think you do with Etsy I think you have to pay for like every listing. And so I decided to go with that in the beginning. But after a while it was bothering me that the prices were only set in dollars. And when you’re living in Europe and you have Euro, you know that one euro isn’t $1 And I was always kind of miscalculating in my head. I was like oh I gotta make this $25 And that’s gonna be 25 euros but no, that’s not how it works. So I was looking for an option that had euro as my own currency. And yeah, I was weighing different options. I looked into Etsy as well. But in the end I decided to go with Squarespace, which is my website host. So they have a store option as well and I figured okay, I’m just gonna go with them. They’re not perfect. The shipping system was kind of funky you have you don’t have the option to set different shipping rates for each product you just can’t say okay, all the international orders are like this and all the international orders are like this price wise but it’s okay they’re all almost the same size for me. So on some shipments I lose out on shipping and on some I’m charging maybe a little bit more than it actually costs but I think it evens out and it’s not too. Too bad. Um, yeah, but that was better on store envy. But overall, I think it’s, it’s really nice. I like having just everything in one place that I can bring people to. Yeah, and it’s more customizable. Yeah. And

Iva Mikles  

the traffic you’re bringing there is mostly from Instagram, and I guess you’re using like Link three, or you are using only just one link in the bio or mostly stories.

Djamila Knopf  

Yeah, mostly through stories, I have my my single link that I have on my Instagram is my store link, that people can go there directly. And if I do something, like in the stories, I put different links there to my Patreon as well. But for the website, I always just point people to my story, it’s just, if they want to see my portfolio is just one click away, which is fine. And on Twitter, it’s actually really nice. Like I have, I have so many more followers on Instagram, than on Twitter, but it’s only twice as much traffic as I get from Twitter, where I have like, I don’t know, six times or more probably I’m really bad at math. A lot more followers, but a lot more people click through from Twitter, just because you can include links. Yes, very easily. Yeah. So that’s interesting. Also, like,

Iva Mikles  

are you more active on Twitter than on Instagram? Or like similar?

Djamila Knopf  

Yeah, similar. I post almost the same stuff there like on Twitter sometimes when I have a thought that I want to share, I just type that in. Whereas on Instagram, I’m more concerned with posting only my best work in the profile because you know, the algorithm and everything. You don’t want to screw it up with mediocre content or whatever. It sounds so bad. But you know, that’s my thinking behind it. I’m just going to post the very best stuff I have on on Twitter, you can just be more spontaneous and be nega. Just watch this movie. It was great. Hello. And that’s that’s what I’m doing in my stories on Instagram as well. Sometimes. I know a lot of people love sharing a lot of stuff. Like what they’re doing in their free time and everything. They have so much fun when they’re on vacation, they can share their stories and everything. But I’m like what a vacation I I’m not gonna bother with social media right now. And that’s just the way I am. Maybe I’m going to get better at that. But it’s just, yeah, no, I want to I want to take a break sometimes.

Iva Mikles  

Yeah. And everyone takes it differently, right. So you don’t have to do what everyone else is doing when you’ve already you know, like, created some strategy for yourself. Because you’re you have like some thought behind posting as well as your artwork. Do you always post more post? But in the process of one artwork, right? Yeah. Yeah, post like, this is the final piece. So do you have always the similar process of posting like the sketch, then part of the artwork, then the in between and the final? Or do you try to do differently?

Djamila Knopf  

Yeah, no, pretty much. Yeah, I just post a sketch, my philosophy with posting is that I just post whatever I did that day, or the last few days, I know other people schedule their stuff. And that’s cool, too. But I just, I don’t know, I’m like, I’m drawing this sketch today. Here’s the sketch. And the next day, I might have put down the base colors. And I’m like, here are the base colors, but with hopefully a little bit more interesting description. And then I start rendering, and then I post little snippets, like close ups of the piece. And then I post the final. So yeah, that’s pretty much always my process. But sometimes you have those images, or they look really ugly in between. I believe that there isn’t that ugly stage to everything sometimes. And I’m like, Okay, I don’t I don’t want to share this, I have to wait until it’s actually finished so that I can, you know, post things that look nice. I don’t want to share stuff just for the sake of sharing it, I want to be sure that I actually like it. But what I do is I go back to my feed and I archive older posts that don’t look as nice and the overall scheme of things like sometimes everything is colorful and seems to be harmonious. And then there’s this white sketch in Michigan, I’m like, Okay, I’m gonna archive this. That’s fine. People have seen it and I’m like, can it can go. And I also post process gifts of like, just my process. Yeah, I take the sketch and then the vase colors and then rendering, rendering, rendering those images that I share with my patrons as well that show the process and make 10 images or something. I put them together in an animated GIF, and then I just share that as well. That has been well received. So this is like some content to fill the gaps when I don’t have something to share. I’m pretty much always working on an illustration these days. But sometimes I am in that ugly stage. Or it’s the weekend and I’m not painting. So I’m like I have this process gave that I can share.

Iva Mikles  

Yeah, so definitely, that’s like a good thing that you can share more pieces of content now post on Instagram or somewhere because then you can keep the engagement flowing. So it’s very good that you don’t have to wait like I don’t know, we go to how long to post only like the final schedule to can see more of your process. So that’s very cool. And when you mentioned also Patreon, so how did you decide what to sorry what to share on Patreon? Because then it was like, You said one tear. So did you ask people what they want to see? Or how was your decision making process there?

Djamila Knopf  

Yeah, I don’t think I did. In the very beginning, when I set it up, I asked people what they wanted. And I had those different tiers. I had one where I share the PSD and everything. But that was $5. And he thought I maybe that’s a little too much for people. So what’s like a good balance? Like, what do you get that’s worth more than what you pay or what is perceived more than what you pay. So people think like they’re getting a really good deal, and then again, set the price themselves. So they feel cheated, in a way. So I want to offer more than you would normally get for $1. Because on other people’s patrons to get just like access to the feed or something. And I wanted to give a little bit more, but I was like, I don’t want to put too much effort into it. Because it was a lot of work for not that much return in the beginning. I didn’t want to make videos because that’s always a little bit more trouble, you know? And I Kazumi Yeah, very much. Yeah. So, um, I thought, Okay, what’s something that I can give that is organic to my process, like something that I have anyway, and that I wouldn’t use, but that maybe I can share with people that they can use. So and that was the layered PSD files? Because I get so many questions about how do you do this with your layers? Like or what are your brushes, I share my brushes as well. And every time somebody asked me that, now I can just say, Okay, you can go to my Patreon. And for $1, you can just download it, it’s not, it’s not crazy. And the previous rewards people have missed, I share those on Gumroad. Also for $1, or euro, I think. And when you sign up to my Patreon, and you sometimes get like three illustrations in a month, but on Gumroad those are separate. So each of those is like one euro as well. That was my boyfriend, he’s playing games

Iva Mikles  

when you were thinking about the setting of Patreon, right, that, you know, so you already have your own shop. So that was kind of set for your income kind of in a way, I guess. So we’re like, okay, when you do Patreon that you can start spreading the different income streams, right. And so so as you said, like, it was very time consuming at the beginning when you have like only few people signing up. And so how long did it take you to get? I don’t know, like 100 patrons, or how was the process of you know, the people were signing up? They remember?

Djamila Knopf  

No, I don’t remember. Oh, God, I remember that. It really started picking up at the beginning of last year, when I changed the system. And I’m really not sure how many paychecks I had maybe 200 or something at that point. Maybe not even that. I don’t know. I really don’t know. I don’t remember how

Iva Mikles  

long did you have it for? Like, you know, so

Djamila Knopf  

2016 I think October 2016. I set it up? And then or maybe I had like, just a little over 100 At the beginning of last year. I have it saved up somewhere. I would have to check it on my computer. But yeah, last year, it just kept growing and growing. It was crazy. Like in a month I got sometimes 100 new patrons and now I have I don’t even know I’m terrible at this. I’m so sorry.

Iva Mikles  

Sorry. Like we cannot remember all the details all the time basically because of course you are creating all the value on Patreon for all the people so it doesn’t matter if it is like one person or you know 500 People but it’s always like kind of good to know for others if they want to start their own Patreon you know, like what they should count on. You know, so when you start like, Oh, so you don’t expect that in, in one week or two weeks, it will be like, I don’t know, 1000 patrias, we still need to promote it and be patient. And yeah, so

Djamila Knopf  

it does take time. I’m at 686. Now. And I think, at the beginning of this year, at maybe 400, or something, it’s been going well, it’s been growing constantly. But what happened last year is, in summer, I think it was June or July, more people were dropping out, and I didn’t get as many new ones. And that kept happening until the end of the year. And then this year, it started picking up again, I don’t know if that’s the trend, or I don’t know, I was just, I know, it happened to other people as well. I was just assuming that people didn’t really care in summer, they just wanted to go on vacation and not look at their digital rewards or something,

Iva Mikles  

or to learn or something. Yeah,

Djamila Knopf  

that’s what I was assuming. So I’m excited or not excited. But I’m curious to see what happens this year if this keeps happening. But if so, I’m not surprised like last year, I was like, Oh, my God, what’s happening? I’m freaking out. But this year, I’m kind of expecting it. So we’ll see. Yeah,

Iva Mikles  

yeah. Because maybe it’s kind of the yeah, as you said, the holy day back to school thing, you know, and then you come back in September. And so when you were asking people what they liked the most, they appreciate the the brushes, you mentioned that they can look into your Photoshop files, something else they are always excited about.

Djamila Knopf  

I include a folder of my references and inspiration images, that’s what people mentioned that they like a lot, because that’s something that not a whole lot of people share, I think you get this impression that everyone just keeps creating stuff out of thin air. And it’s just nice to see where your inspiration comes from. And I’m happy to share that as well. And I also have a store discount in there. 10% store discount. Yeah, that’s, I think that’s it. And the live streams are nice to just look, a little exclusive club feeling.

Iva Mikles  

Very cool. Do you do it through discord or some body?

Djamila Knopf  

Oh, we just hosted on YouTube. And we just don’t list it. So only people can join who have the link to the video. So we just share the link beforehand, and then people can join.

Iva Mikles  

And how did you connect with people to do these exclusive videos, you know, if you get the share again, like if somebody’s like, Okay, I want to do this? How do I find people to do anyway?

Djamila Knopf  

That’s kind of an accident. I had the accident. I was just doing this by myself, because I was like, Okay, I want to do something for you. I want to connect with the people a little bit more. And video always makes that connection, I think. So I did that. And I made some overpayments and answered questions and stuff. And I was like, after an hour, okay, this is weird. I’m just talking to myself. I’m not sure that’s great. I’m not sure that’s the best thing I can do. So maybe if there’s someone in the chat who wants to join me next time, tell me and I’ll be happy to have you on. And that’s when Lavina said, Okay, I’ll join you. And then she did and then there was Kim as well. I’m I’m friends with all of them on on Twitter. So you can check that out. I also posted about the live stream and

Iva Mikles  

you mentioned there like Instagram handles or something. So yeah, who are you talking about? Maybe?

Djamila Knopf  

Yeah, okay. Um, so Lovina llama, that’s ama data underscore, that’s her handle. And then there’s a Kim Myatt I think is one Her last name is pronounced. And her Instagram and a Twitter handle is very hard. It’s is very, I think it’s y s

Iva Mikles  

we can put it also in the description under so yeah,

Djamila Knopf  

yeah, it’s tough. And then there’s Gentile guys. Who I

Iva Mikles  

assume Yeah.

Djamila Knopf  

Yeah. So those three girls and I were always doing this it just yeah, we just came together as a little group and we’ve become friends and we’re actually going to do a stream right after this. Oh, yeah. At eight today. Berlin time.

Iva Mikles  

Super cool. Yeah. And then basically do you thought about like, you guys have bought all like, I don’t know fantasy style feeling or so were you thinking like, Okay, we want to have similar audience they appreciate that type of art or was it more like the the way you speak or approach the art or?

Djamila Knopf  

I think it was just that we all had patrons, and we all were getting along. Yeah. Yeah, we like similar stuff, I guess. But it would be I mean, we are kind of different in our styles as well. So that’s always interesting. Last time we did a collaboration shantala Did the the line work. And then I did the base colors, although chant had it scheduled, and I did the line work, I did the base colors, and then Kim rendered it and that was like your little mishmash of our styles, which was really cool to see. So yeah, I don’t know, we just get along. It would be cool if we did if we had more versatile styles, but we we kind of have similarities and differences, which makes it interesting. I think,

Iva Mikles  

most of it when you were thinking about we talked about the style a little bit did he change from last year? More? Or did you start to collect different type of references? Or going one direction more or for the biggest inspiration now? Is it still major and yeah, may think it is maybe Gigli movies style?

Djamila Knopf  

Yes. I started painting more backgrounds. Last time we talked, I think I was still very much focused on characters. But now I actually might enjoy backgrounds a little bit more. It just takes a little more time. But it’s, it’s so nice. I don’t know, I got into storytelling a lot more. And I think that’s a lot easier if you have a location that you can work with. So I’m always like browsing images on Pinterest or something. I’m like, whoo, I want to draw I don’t know, an abandoned building. And then I just do that. And then I put a character in there who does something. Yeah.

Iva Mikles  

And you you still work with Photoshop. Right? That’s your main. Yeah. Do you also work sometimes on a tablet with procreate or mostly Photoshop?

Djamila Knopf  

I just got an iPad four days ago. Oh, wow. Okay. My friend, she, she had it. It’s an iPad Pro, like the larger version, and she wanted to get a smaller one for sketching. And she asked me if I wanted to buy it from her. And I was like, Yeah, okay. So I bought it and I’ve been getting into it. I’m still trying to figure out what brushes I can use and procreate at feel like the brushes I use in Photoshop, because I’m very much set in my ways, like an old lady and like, I want my brushes. So yeah, I’m trying that out. But I think I’m getting closer. It’s, it feels very nice to draw on the screen directly. And the program is very intuitive. Yeah,

Iva Mikles  

I like to use it when I’m in a tram or train. Because it’s like, you know, you listen to an audiobook or a podcast schedule or something like that. And yeah, so it’s very

Djamila Knopf  

cool. Yeah, I want to do some plein air stuff, maybe when the weather is nicer. And I’m excited about the video feature, because it was time lapses and everything is nice.

Iva Mikles  

Now you can do also gifs or GIFs? Or how do you pronounce that? It can combine like the layers you know, ultimately.

Djamila Knopf  

So that’s great. That price, especially if

Iva Mikles  

for sure, but I mean, you still need Photoshop, because it’s yet more complex stuff. I think some of the effects or whatever, I don’t know how much of that you are using. But yeah, it still cannot finish super complex artwork. I think with that. Yeah,

Djamila Knopf  

I miss my gradient maps and I miss a Navigator window. That’s my biggest thing right now in procreate. So yeah.

Iva Mikles  

Yeah, but you know, like, you can use one program for something and the other program for that. Yeah.

Djamila Knopf  

So, yeah, it’s

Iva Mikles  

always the option. And so you were talking also about the teaching. And so how do you approach your your classes or what did you decide to share as your you know, Outlook on art? What is your specialty Delete? Okay,

Djamila Knopf  

as I said, I am getting into, or I got into storytelling a lot. And I am going to be teaching a class about storytelling in illustrations. So I’ve just been working on the outline today. And I want to put a big emphasis on things that other people don’t talk about as much, I think, which is idea generation how to start out developing an idea. For me that always has to do with writing. Yeah, I know not everyone does that. But I like to just write down my idea and just like keywords that come to mind, because it’s much quicker than sketching, because you can get overwhelmed sometimes let’s say you have an idea of, I don’t know, I want to draw a magical forest with a tree house and there’s a little elf sitting on a branch or something. And I’m like, I’m starting to sketch it and then I’m losing the idea suddenly, because it’s just too complex and too overwhelming. So I’d like to just break it down into those little chunks like start out with writing coming up with Your concept and solidifying it. And then also getting into reference, how I get inspired and how to, you know, just recognize what your taste is and develop and cultivate your interests in a way. I think that’s pretty interesting too. And that plays a big role in who you are as an artist and what kind of stories you want to tell. So definitely, it’s kind of goofy little stuff ago, a little bit, baby. But I like that part. I think a lot of people talk about, you know, anatomy and color. All this stuff will play a role as well. But I want to get to the very beginning to the core of how an idea develops and how it turns into a painting all those steps that I take to make that happen. Yeah, so I’m excited about that. Yeah.

Iva Mikles  

Ah, super cool. Yeah. Because then you can also like the the Nina in the real life, people asking, I can ask the questions as well. And so super cool. Yeah. Because computer, as you mentioned, like, I don’t do much of a writing when I’m creating. So my approach is more as well. Like, I would like to observe the colors and the how the colors are actually influencing the story and the visual, like, how are supposed to feel what the creator wants you to feel. Yeah, so definitely, that is the difference between the classes and stuff. So yeah, so far, I have only one class as well. So I guess, somewhere you have to start, right. Yeah. So yeah, but you’re also starting with one for now? Yes, yes. Yeah, it’ll

Djamila Knopf  

be probably nine sessions or lessons. And yeah, I will break them down. And there will be stuff like composition as well. And color, I will go into color theory as well like the the proper way. But then I also want to show like the “beep” way of how I do it in Photoshop, just like with a bunch of layer modes, because let’s be honest, we know this kind of color theory stuff. But sometimes it’s just so nice and easy to just lap, an adjustment layer and everything and, you know, change

Iva Mikles  

works. And if it doesn’t, then you can change it. Yeah, yes.

Djamila Knopf  

So I want to cover all this things and how I sketch how I do push back to, it’s just I know, there are a lot of, there’s a lot of material about that out there. But I just want to throw my experience in there. So I think that’s what it’s about, I don’t want to be repeating what everybody else has said, I want to, you know, tell it from my perspective, what I found out via trial and error, and I want to provide that or suggested for people to use it. And if they think it’s useful, they can use it. And if they don’t, they can also go to their own way again.

Iva Mikles  

But I think it’s always interesting to learn from different people, because I also like to take different classes because everyone’s approach is different. And then maybe you take one thing from one person and other thing from other like, Oh, I like how this person is approaching the, I don’t know coloring the Lydon line work and then maybe from you like oh, this is how the you think about the words at the beginning and then like, Oh, this is how you approach the the characters and all of that. Yeah, the image froze a bit. It’s fine. Okay. Yeah. Now we are like, Oh, good. is still working. So yeah. So yeah, you’re totally right. And then so when people can see your your class, like when it’s going to be out, do you know, you haven’t recorded yet? Right. So you are in the process? Like you said, you have the skeleton now. And now you will be in process of creating it?

Djamila Knopf  

Yeah, I want to have it finished by the end of July. And I don’t know when it will be online

Iva Mikles  

or in July so and then you will promote it on your social media. So Can people can find it. Right. So yeah, yeah. Cool. Cool. So then we I can update also the description of this video when it’s out. So that would be super nice. Yeah. Oh, cool. Cool. So it will be something like the storytelling with the fantasy artworks or storytelling with the illustration. Yeah, something

Djamila Knopf  

illustration I was my first impulse was story driven illustrations, but I’m just I’m still thinking maybe narrative illustration or storytelling in Illustrator or something like that. I just want people to know that it’s about story and about illustration.

Iva Mikles  

Yeah, I think people loving the show because your illustrations are so like, full of life and then colorful, so super awesome. And then yeah, your people can Yeah, learn from you and then create like different stories. And then you can go maybe when you do like assignments and these kinds of things, people can, you know, compare how they approach the same topic. Yeah. So exciting to see.

Djamila Knopf  

Yes, that’s when I was thinking like one assignment where I give like a very broad topic, and everyone does that. And then just have them like, do do whatever they want. Because, you know, it’s very individual for each person and what kind of stories they want to tell, but I am definitely looking forward to their their comparison thing, how different people tackle the same thing. Yeah.

Iva Mikles  

Or like when you give, like we do sometimes on workshops that you have like one location, and you say, like, oh, we have one evil character and one good character. And then it’s so fun to see how everyone imagines these two characters differently. Like, I don’t know, if you have this desert or like a jungle, and everyone has a totally different, you know, look at it. So yeah.

Djamila Knopf  

That’s the amazing thing. And sometimes I have conversations with people who are like, I don’t know, my ideas good enough. I don’t know. I don’t want to draw this. It’s been done before. And I’m like, Yeah, but it hasn’t been done by you. You’re different. You want to show your own perspective. And that’s what makes it interesting. So yeah, I think every story is worth telling through your own perspective.

Iva Mikles  

Yeah, definitely. So there will be one big project coming up now. Right? Yeah, to create the whole thing. And so you still look around the shop, right? And then the Patreon, but you don’t do any client work now. So you are like, self employed and all of us like, yeah, working with the community. Right?

Djamila Knopf  

Right. Yeah, it’s so nice. I have a lot of freedom. And I actually I hired my boyfriend as my assistant this year. And he’s been doing all my shipping for my store, which has been a huge relief, for me a huge help. It’s just, I’ve been spending so much time with it. Because I don’t want to complain, I’m getting more orders, which is awesome. But it was also taking a lot more time. And I was debating whether the expense was worth it. But it totally was like I’ve been making more art. And in return, I’ve been getting more followers and more patients and more sales, and just everything comes back and, you know, fuels things in a way that I couldn’t have imagined. So I can definitely recommend this to everyone. If you have someone who you trust, who can, you know, take a few tasks for you. Please go ahead and do that. I think it’s awesome. Yeah. Because

Iva Mikles  

you can always think about what can you delegate, right, which is like, probably you cannot delegate your drawing. So okay. Yeah, you do. Right. So easy’s may be editing videos? Is that taking orders? Or what can it be? So yeah, definitely that helps to scale and then to focus on an art and be more creative.

Djamila Knopf  

Yes, definitely. And taxes as well. I’ve been handing off my taxes to a professional this year. And it’s been great as well, I just didn’t want to deal with it anymore. It was just getting more and more complicated. So yeah, that’s

Iva Mikles  

more resources or more income streams, then, you know, have to figure Yeah,

Djamila Knopf  

and she called me like, she was doing my first thing this year. She was like, that’s a lot. You have very no like, yep. From here, from there. From there. Yeah. And what’s this PayPal thing? Or what does this do? And I’m so sorry.

Iva Mikles  

Oh, yeah. And PayPal peaks. So much fees. That’s great. Yeah. So if people can pay we transfer try to do that. Yeah, but people know, PayPal. So it’s like, yeah, like, trust. So yeah, yeah. But anyway, yeah. If you like, think about your work week, do you think a take like, I don’t know, at least Sunday off? Or do you take the weekend? How do you plan your work life balance. Now,

Djamila Knopf  

I’ve been getting pretty good at this. I’m very proud of myself. I take Saturdays and Sundays off. And throughout the week, I work five to seven hours per day. I’m, like, really focused work. I still I track my time with toggle. I don’t know if I’ve talked about this last time. I don’t know if I started then. But since I started, it has been great. It’s just it changes things a lot for me, because back then I had the feeling that Oh, I must have paid I must have been painting for six hours. And then I looked at actually the time it was just four. So it just feels a lot longer. And when I track it, it just I have my different projects set up. I have like one that’s called admin, where I do emails, and I don’t know, contracts or whatever. It’s just organizational stuff that needs to get done. When I do that, I just hit like play or start. And then I just do that and I don’t get distracted as much because I know that the clock is running and I don’t want to cheat it so I just really work and then when I hit pause i i Take a break so I know exactly when I’m working and when I’m having Time off. So that’s been great for me. And I can see that per day, my limit for doing illustration is four hours. That’s when I get really exhausted. And when my brain stops working properly, I’m like, oh, okay, I need to take a break. And also need to rest my hand and everything. So for hours, it’s been a great amount of time for me to just get some art done. And I tried to do that every workday to paint for four hours, and then do all the stuff that’s necessary to do on the side. Yeah, because

Iva Mikles  

I definitely do that as well. The I like the toggle thing. Right? So yeah, cuz I also do so many different things. So and then you feel like, as you said, like, oh, my gosh, I worked on this so long, and then you check the times, like, okay, it wasn’t that bad. Yeah. And then you can also calculate how much you actually earn. If you you know, if you have set price, right for the project, and then how many hours you actually spend on it. Or if you were with someone, client, or whoever you can estimate the time better, like, oh, this usually takes me these long,

Djamila Knopf  

right? That’s perfect. And you can also just check your week or month and just split it and see what you make per hour, because as a freelancer that can be very confusing. So you just kind of get an idea where your time goes, or maybe where you can also improve things. Because when I was looking at that, I was like, Okay, I’m spending so much time on packing orders, what can I do to relieve that a little bit? And so I did, and I’m always still looking for ways to improve this and to spend my time where it most matters, because the core of everything that I’m doing is just painting. And if I don’t have enough time to do that, that’s going to break my business model. I think so.

Iva Mikles  

Yeah. And then you also mentioned that you go for conventions, right? That’s another thing. Did you do it also a lot last year, or this year will be like more?

Djamila Knopf  

More this year? Yeah. When I talk about it sounds like I’ve been doing this forever. I’m like, I have so much experience during conventions, but no, I did three.

Iva Mikles  

So which one did you do this year, or are also going to?

Djamila Knopf  

I did two last year. And one this year so far? I just the first one I went to was very small. It was one hour away from my hometown here. And the table was 25 years. Yes, right. So I just went, and I was like, Okay, I have nothing to lose, except the price for staying there overnight and traveling there. And the expenses for the table like I bought some stuff like a tablecloth and prints and all this kind of stuff. But it turned out to be really good. I made all my money back and a lot more I made over 1000 It wasn’t my first convention, which was very nice. For me, I think, especially for the cheap entry fee. So I was like, Yeah, this is fun. I like I like talking to people a lot. I’m very sociable. I think so. It’s been it’s been very nice. And then I did the second convention and I was invited there as a guest. So yeah, they just

Iva Mikles  

did you do also like the talk there or only the stand?

Djamila Knopf  

Yeah, I did. I had a table and they did like a panel about how to make money doing your own thing, which is kind of my my thing that everybody wants me to talk about, about Patreon and everything together with another artist, a German artist, as well. Louboutin is his name. And

Iva Mikles  

interview with me right here as well. So yeah, cool. Yeah,

Djamila Knopf  

he’s Oh, yeah. And yeah, so we did that and did the table thing for free days. And that was nice, too. And I was like, okay, like this, this is going well, the two times I’ve been so I’m just gonna be more daring and invest a little bit more for the next convention that I’m doing. And there’s one in my hometown here in Leipzig, which is a book fair combined with like a manga comic convention. And it has a lot of visitors because of that, because just a ton of people go there. And they have an artist alley, and they give the tables via lottery. So 400 people apply. And 130 get a table. And I’m just never lucky with that. I’ve applied like three times and I never got in. So I was like, okay, there are also big booths that you can buy for 1200 euros

Iva Mikles  

that’s too big. Then you have to be sure that you will sell a lot of products and Whereas Yeah, minus or something so yeah,

Djamila Knopf  

right. But I was like, Okay, I’ve had those two conventions, they were much smaller. And they were two or three days. This one is four days. It’s in my hometown. Everyone says it’s a really good convention where you can sell more than it others. So I was like, Okay, I’m gonna do this. I bought a booth and I went there. And overall, my stomach was just terrible. I was so nervous. I woke up at four in the morning, the first day, and I just was so exhausted and terrified. But it all worked out after the first day. i Yeah, I’m right. Like, if that wasn’t yours, or like 900 years, the first day and then every day, as well, just. Yeah, so. Okay. Okay, this very well, it’s nice. I can relax. So now I already bought my booth next year. Oh, cool.

Iva Mikles  

Yeah. Because usually it just gets better. And then you know, that you will not be minus, so you can invest in these. And then it’s also convenient, because you don’t have to pay for accommodation.

Djamila Knopf  

Yeah, that’s perfect. It’s just I was mad that I never got in because it’s here. And I wouldn’t let me. But yeah, just now I am just going to buy the thing, if I’m not lucky. So, um, let’s see, what else do I have? There’s a dog comi. It’s a manga convention as well. That’s coming up. And then there was a comic con that’s coming up in June. Then there’s a small one, as well. Then there’s a Vienna Comic Con in November. And I’m going to lightbox Expo in September.

Iva Mikles  

And that one is in LA and then you Yes, yeah. And then you have these ones are in Europe. Right? Yeah. So most of them are in Europe and wow. Okay,

Djamila Knopf  

or this one was in Vienna, like the Vienna Comic Con. Oh, I’m going so far. But then yesterday, I heard that I’m going to lightbox Expo and I’m like, Okay.

Iva Mikles  

Now, you will like enjoy the sunshine there as well. And then I’m sure you will be the lot of awesome other artists

Djamila Knopf  

will see I just see myself in the hall like all the time behind my table. Like with the last one, I got 10 minutes of sunshine or so just the four days I was at my booth. But yeah, I’m looking forward to that there are people that I’ve had admired for so long, and I can’t wait to just talk to them. And yeah, it’s going to be cool. And I’ll also be doing a talk and a panel. I think, I don’t know about what, but

Iva Mikles  

I will probably something similar. Both you will work on as a workshop. Right? So that would make sense to connect those two

Djamila Knopf  

or more of the business side? Maybe? Um, yeah, we’ll see. I mean,

Iva Mikles  

you can do too, you know, because it’s either good promotion for your class afterwards, you know, so people know what to expect from you if they take your online class as well. So I think that it’ll be super cool combination. Yeah. So yeah, a lot of exciting projects coming up. And if you think about them in, I don’t know, five years, can you imagine what more do you want to do? Or some dream projects you want to work on?

Djamila Knopf  

Oh, it’s so tough. Because my I’ve been talking to my friends and they said, you know, if you reach all your goals, now you’re gonna have severe burnout and a midlife crisis very soon, and

Iva Mikles  

maybe not, maybe you are just like happy where you are. And you know, you just want to continue with that. Yeah,

Djamila Knopf  

I know. Last time we talked, you asked me what I wanted to do in five years, I think and I

Iva Mikles  

was already a year right. Yeah, I said,

Djamila Knopf  

what I’m doing now with with more money. And that’s, that’s happening now, which is very nice and very stress relieving, if you don’t have to worry about that. Yeah, a big thing I want to do is make an art book. So I want to I still haven’t done it. But I want to approach a publisher to ask if they want to collaborate with me on that. Because I I admire that people who do their own art books for Kickstarter and do everything, the layout and the shipping and all this stuff. I’m familiar with that. And I don’t see myself having like pallets of books in my apartment and shipping them out or like doing the layout of everything. And I’m glad to hand that off to a professional. So I hope I can get a deal with a publisher so that I can provide the artwork and the writing for the thing and they make it look all nice and they get it out to people that would be my perfect scenario. So that’s a goal for the end of this year. And maybe next year.

Iva Mikles  

Yeah, maybe you can do it with 3d Total or someone like that because they work with a lot of artists in our industry, right so

Djamila Knopf  

yeah, yeah. would be my ideal scenario. Yeah. Yeah.

Iva Mikles  

So if they’re listening, you know, like,

Djamila Knopf  

you also write them an email very soon. I’m just yeah, good, but it’s good to put it out there ready?

Iva Mikles  

I think that’s always a good idea. Yeah. Because you have already a lot of super cool content, you have the audience, they want more of your art. So just to put it together in some form that they can get more, you know, from you.

Djamila Knopf  

I hope so I hope I can offer them something good in return. You know, I was thinking of waiting until I have more Instagram followers to contact them when I’m like, No, I’ll just do it sooner. It’s fine.

Iva Mikles  

Yeah. So it’s like when you can structure your time now already to do that, like, why not so great. Yeah.

Djamila Knopf  

And I’m free. It’s so good. I can do whatever I want. I was also invited by Adobe to do live streams with them last month, or was it this month?

Iva Mikles  

Yeah. I saw it on your social media. I was like, yeah.

Djamila Knopf  

That was very nice. Yeah. So it was pretty spontaneous. Some people canceled, and so they were like, Hey, do you want to join us for these live streams in like, three weeks? And I’m like, Yeah, sure. I don’t have anything else to do.

Iva Mikles  

Anything else? Like, a million projects? But it’s about the priorities when you want to work on something, then you can always Yeah, make time.

Djamila Knopf  

shift things around. Yes. That’s so great. I love it. So I’m really happy with everything. Honestly, it’s just better than anything I could have hoped for.

Iva Mikles  

But it’s so cool. Like, if then if yes, someone you know, you they want to have like life like you do, you know, so like, work on your own artworks and make leaving from basically support from the community, and basically everyone who appreciate your art, and it’s definitely possible. So that’s so awesome. So

Djamila Knopf  

thank you. Thank you.

Iva Mikles  

Let’s do like a check in maybe in the in the year, and let’s see how many art books.

Djamila Knopf  

Oh, my God. Maximum one. I don’t even know how long.

Iva Mikles  

You’ll be like writing pin. courses online and books. So yeah, it’s super cool. So I’m curious to see where you will go soon.

Djamila Knopf  

And I will also be teaching a workshop next year in Spain. Oh, cool.

Iva Mikles  

Yeah. Do a lot of artists. So they have really cool stuff.

Djamila Knopf  

Yeah, it’s crazy. When they contacted me, and they sent me the list of people they have hosted. I was like, I’m a baby. Please, guys, it’s like, I’m still trying to find my place in the whole community. I feel very strong impostor syndrome. And I get these big opportunities. And I hope I can get over that. It’s just like, my first reaction is to be really, really happy and like, like, whoa, do I deserve to be? Yes,

Iva Mikles  

yes. So yeah, you should be like, yes. Thank you. Yes, I will help others do you know, get there and I will share my knowledge. Thank you that you invited me good.

Djamila Knopf  

And I am a teacher. I study teaching. So it’s nice to put that to use finally, combination.

Iva Mikles  

So that’s great. Yeah, I’m super happy. And I’m like, Yeah, I hopefully this was also inspirational for people listening that that it’s definitely possible in less than five years. And yeah, when you work on something, then you get there. Like with a clear vision, you enjoy the art, and yeah, just to do that. So thank you so much for being here and sharing the story and the

Djamila Knopf  

update. And it’s really cool for me to see as well how you’ve grown with your channel and everything. It’s crazy. Yeah.

Iva Mikles  

Yeah, it’s going Yes. 20 million project. Yeah. And everyone is always wondering like, Yeah, can you leave from stuff? Online? Yeah, yes, you can. So that’s possible. And I like the flexibility of yeah, when you work on your own stuff, then you can decide on what to work on. So yeah, super cool. Yeah, so awesome. And thank you so much again, because I don’t want to hold you too long. And also, thanks everyone who was listening or watching and I’ll see you guys next time.

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

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