The Job of the Job

When I’m at an event or a guest speaker somewhere, there’s one question I get asked the most which is, “how do you break in the business”?  I wish I could tell you there was an answer for this one, but really, there isn’t.  I’ve mentioned this before, but what I always tell people who are eager to do what they love as a career, is just keep on doing it.  Keep on doing it until you get sick of it and you want to quit, then keep on pushing after that.  Whatever you do, don’t give up.

It’s difficult to take a hobby that you enjoy doing and make it into a career, because now, you have to WORK at it.  That may not be true for everyone, but usually because you want to make it into how you put food on the table, you really do have to work at it now.  It’s not something you can just push aside and come back too later.  I’ve been there.  Taking something that I loved to do and making it into a career.

When I first started out in the comic industry coloring comic books, I had two full time jobs (one of which was more time consuming than the other).  But I worked retail management at Crate and Barrel  in Chicago (busy store).  You’re constantly doing something, running around, stocking and all the fun stuff that comes with retail…lol.  But I also was collecting comics years before I started working there and wanted to make “comic books” or art my career.  I enjoyed it and wanted to work for myself.  I think it was about 8 years earlier I started teaching myself to color digitally.  They didn’t have the schools they have now or the YouTube presence they have today.  Now you can look up how to do anything basically on YouTube.  So I purchased a few CD-Roms (for those of us who remember those…lol) and books (those too) and taught myself.  That by itself was a full time job.  But I was determined to do it and MAKE it.

In 2009, I got “let go” of the retail job and I was already working fulltime in comics with a company and on my first major professional comic.  Years to follow after that I thankfully worked on hundreds of comics (coloring them) from Marvel to indy companies.  But now I’ve stared a whole new adventure and the whole process all over again.  I was working in comics for years, but it really slowed down, and realized that my passion and heart was in something else…animation.  I “let go” of working fulltime in comics and started my new career in animation.  It’s been a rocky start, but that’s just all part of it.

You just never know where things are going to lead you.  The way I “broke in” may not be the same way someone else you ask broke in.  But the biggest take out of this is, never lose sight of your passion.  Follow your heart.  That is how you will break in.  It won’t be overnight, it will take time, maybe even years.  But you can’t give up.  You may have to work a fulltime job and your career.  It may seem difficult and impossible, but believe me, it’s not.

I’m really excited about what my studio has coming out soon.  Something different, something unique.  This is something I never felt in the comic industry (NOT in a bad way).  But I kept reaching for more and wanted the characters to come to life on screen.  And now, I’m on my way to making that happen.

Again, DON’T GIVE UP!  It’s all just the Job of the Job.

Hiring a 2D Animator

I’m very excited to announce that I’m looking for a 2D animator for a short little clip (up too 10 seconds long) featuring one of my little guys.  There will be music with the clip, but no voiceovers and light sound effects.  This is a very simple and fun animation.

If you’re interested, please send me a link to your demo reel at: or go to the “contact” page here and send it there.

I hoping to get this started as quickly as possible, so again, if you’re interested and serious, please contact me.
OH and yes, this is a paid gig.

Social Media ARToons

One way I sell and promote my ARToons is by posting them on Social Media.  What are ARToons?  These are what I call the cartoon artworks of my characters like Stanley Squirrel and friends and all the other characters from Jeff Balke Studios.
I just took the words Cartoon and Art, mashed them together to make: ARToons.

In addition to selling the ARToons on my store, you’ll be able to “claim” them right off of my Facebook and Instagram pages.  Now why did I use the word “claim”? Well you’re not buying them right off of FB and putting your credit card info down on either site.  Instead, when I post an ARToon, simply let me know you want it (by saying claim, or I’d like that one, or however you ‘d like to let me know) and I’ll pull it aside for you.  On Sunday of that week, I’ll tally up how many ARToons you’ve claimed, add up the price, add shipping (which I do combine shipping on multiple purchases starting at $5) and send you an invoice either with PayPal or Square.  It’s that simple.

All ARToons will will be posted on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and will have a limited quantity specifically for the Social Media posts.  Some will also be discounted as a little special for these deals.

I hope this all made sense…lol!  If you ever have any questions about how this works, you can always shoot me an email or send me a PM on any of the social media pages I have.

Do What You Have Too

Some of you have asked me, “why do you always post about prints and merchandise”?  The simple answer is…merchandising and to help bring money into the studio.  Having your own business or in my case, studio, is not cheap.  You basically have to do what you can to bring money in (legally…haha).  One of the quickest and best ways I know, is simply by opening up an online store of some kind and sell through there.  Pre-Covid, I’d set up at conventions around the country and sell the ARToons and talk with people about the studio and characters.  Now that’s the REAL “facetime”, “facebook”, whatever you want to call it.  Talking to people face to face.  I love that.

When I decided to open up my own online stores, one of artwork ( and the other merchandise (through TeeSpring), I knew it was going to be extra work, but work that I’d love doing.  It’s not that I just post an image on a t-shirt and call it a day.  No no, it’s much more than that.  You have to set it up, design the graphic and choose which items are best you want to sell.  I make it sound easy, but it’s pretty time consuming.  So when I post a piece of merchandise like a t-shirt, there’s been a couple of hours invested in that piece, not to mention creating the art itself.  Same goes for the ARToons (the cartoon art) I sell.

Not by any means am I complaining.  I’m just letting you know why I post a lot about the ARToons and merchandise.  I’m very proud of what I’ve accomplished so far.  Even though the animation side is taking longer than I anticipated, I’m not letting it get me down.  There are SO many other ways my characters are reaching you guys.  We have our weekly comic strips featuring Stanley and Friends starting back up coming this March with a WHOLE different approach and story.  Of course like I’ve been talking about, I have merchandise and ART so you can take home and enjoy the characters and art at home all the time.  Plus a few different projects coming out this year.

If you haven’t thought of it already, please check out my two stores by going to the “store” button on this site OR click:
TEESPRING (Merchandise Store)