An Artists Simple Recipe for Success

Artists Recipe for Success

The fabulous Carlos Castellanos

I am a co-host on a site called Drawn by Success along with the great Carlos Castellanos. Not too long ago we got into a discussion about what it takes to actually make it in this crazy competitive world of art. Why are some so successful while others are still struggling. What do successful artists do that the rest of don’t? At Drawn By Success we have an opportunity to interview some pretty amazing people. The folks that make it onto the site and into the interviews are people who have done something really remarkable. They’ve achieved a remarkably high level of success. So what makes them so different from the rest of us? What is the formula for success for an artist or for that matter most any creative field?

 The successful people we’ve interviewed have three things in common even though they come from very different backgrounds. Sure, there are a lot of other factors that contribute to their success but the three they have in common are passion, taking action and following through.


Being passionate. All the people we interview are super passionate about what they do and it’s the first answer they give when we ask WHY they do what they do. They all share it and honestly it’s what attracted us to them in the first place.

Being passionate gives them the drive to move forward and believe in what they are doing. Passion helps them overcome their fears and doubts. It helps them gut out the long hours and never give up. Are you passionate about what you do? Without passion are you just going through the motions? Find something you are passionate about and I guarantee you’ll never be bored, burn out or loose interest in your work again.

 Taking Action

photo bob ostrom, drawn by successPassion is great. It’s what puts fire in our belly but unfortunately it’s not enough. Taking action is the difference between having a great idea and actually making something happen. Think of passion as the fuel and taking action as the engine. You can’t move forward without taking action. By taking action no matter how small it creates forward motion. Move forward, even an inch, and you’ve generated momentum. With forward momentum comes larger and larger gains. The importance of taking action can’t be understated. Without talking action an idea is just an idea.

Follow Through

There’s nothing glamorous about follow through. It’s the long hours, hard work and the determination to make something happen. How many ideas die on the drawing board or fizzle out before they’re finished? Taking action gets the ball rolling but follow through is what makes it happen. Seth Godin calls it shipping I call it follow through. You can call it whatever you like, without it your project fails.

So there you have it. Three simple steps. Follow them and you will follow a path to success. No more excuses. The plan itself is pretty simple. It’s sticking to the plan that presents the challenge. So how do we stick with it? I’ll let you in on a little secret. Even as the guy who’s edited the audio and listened to those interviews a thousand time I often listen again any time I need a little motivation or a kick in the pants. I’m not saying Drawn By Success is the final answer. What I’m saying is surround yourself by motivation. Surround yourself with whatever it takes to get you moving forward and taking the next step. For me it’s Drawn by Success and talking with other successful artists. What is it for you? If you’ve discovered other sites that get you get rolling or help you find your mo-jo please leave a link in the comment section. I’m always on the lookout for good motivational reading or listening.

eBook Illustration – Where are the Dinos?

eBook Illustration

Cartoon, dinosaur, artist, ostromHi readers this week and next I will be featuring art from my latest book Where are the Dinos ?, written by author Julia Dweck and published by Kite Reader. You can find it in the hot new release section over on the Amazons. So far it looks like we’re doing pretty well. Lots of very positive reviews. WHOOT!!!

Illustrating a children’s ebook is no small task. It takes lots of planning, an endless amount of sketches, roughs, layouts, revisions and many late nights at the drawing board. The amount of work that goes into producing just one book is staggering. It is truly a labor of love. Surrounding yourself with good people always makes things a little better. I’d like to give special thanks to my good friends artist Richard Carbajal, author Julia Dweck and all the kind folks at Kite Reader for making this look easy (trust me when I tell you it’s much harder than it looks). Here is just a small part of what we do…

rough sketch, dinosaurs, gym class, ostrom
Start with a rough sketch. How rough is rough? Just enough to get the idea down on paper.
dinosaurs, cartoon, sketch, bob ostrom
Once I have the idea down on paper it’s time to tighten up the sketch.
cartoon, dinosaur, gym, cartoon, art, childrens book illustration, ostrom
Every piece is reviewed several times before it goes to publishing.
dinosaur, cartoon, gym, childrens book illustration, ostrom
The final art with type in position.

Editing Video in Photoshop

Editing Video in Photoshop
Is there anything you can’t do with this program? I swear, it won’t be long until you can ask Photoshop to make you a cup of coffee and take the dog for a walk. This week I had a chance to sit down and actually learn how to edit and create video using Photoshop. I know, sounds crazy doesn’t it? One of the great parts about my job as an instructor is that it really gives me a chance to learn these Adobe programs from top to bottom. Before I began teaching I would just focus on a small part of the program, only the small part I needed to complete whatever illustration I was working on at the time. I wish I had known then what I know now….By taking just a little extra time to learn the program completely I could have saved myself hours of wasted time.

Most of the functions in Photoshop are not a huge stretch to learn. Admittedly though, they can sometimes appear a little intimidating. Editing video is one of those functions. When I first looked at it, it seemed overwhelming but after about an hour or so of research and working with the program I felt totally at ease. The learning curve is gradual and best of all it relies on many of the functions I’m already familiar. You’ll find everything pretty much right where you remember it to be. The time line interface is predicable and easy to use and adding audio is as easy as clicking a single button.

Up until now I had been using I’d been using Apple’s latest version of iMovie to edit my videos…ugh. Maybe because I’m familiar with the Adobe programs or maybe because I’m just not in love with iMovie, I feel like comparing these two programs almost seems unfair. While iMovie is clunky and counter intuitive Photoshop uses a platform I’m already comfortable with and allows me to do all the things I’m not able to do in iMovie. iMovie is great if you don’t mind using pre-fomatted functions. Photoshop really allowed me to create whatever I wanted to and whats more I feel like I’ve just started to scratch the surface. All in all it was a great experience and I can’t wait to see what else I can do with it. The only drawback I’ve run into so far is that it’s tends to be bit of a memory hog when working with it. File sizes however are still manageable so far. This file for instance is under 10mgs. If you’ve worked with video editing using Photoshop I’d love to hear about your experience and how it’s working out for you.
If you are interested in learning more about video editing here are some of the the resources I used.

I highly recommend:
Photoshop CS6 Classroom in a book – (Ok yeah, the cover’s a little creepy but it’s a great book)
YouTube video tutorial  – – Straight forward look at editing with Photoshop and how to get started. Walks you through from start to finish.

If you are interested in Photoshop, Illustrator or InDesign and happen to live in the Raleigh area you are always welcome to join me in any of the locations where I teach-

Wake Tech community college
The State Personnel Development Center