Branding: Butler Bites

Butler Bites

When Michael and Athena Butler wanted to expand their business, they came to me with three things:

1. High quality, home made, all natural, dog treats

2. A tongue-twister of a product name

3. Photos of their Saluki

The Butlers came to me for just a logo but for their business to be as successful as it should be, they needed a complete branding package. By re-branding the treats Butler Bites, I made sure their product is easy to remember and pronounce. The clean, iconic artwork and type treatment conveys high quality and whimsy.   

Artists: Be Your Own Design Company

Do good work and get it out there. That's what they say it takes to be successful as a creative, right? Being a self-employed illustrator takes more than the ability to draw awesome bears (The good work). It means spending 20-40% of your efforts on graphic design, blogging, photography, convention exhibit design, even guerilla marketing in order to promote yourself (get it out there). Over the next few days I will be posting some examples of design work I have done for self-promotional purposes. I hope you find it helpful in your own pursuits.

Part 1. Print-On-Demand services can help you be your own brand, regardless of you budget

It's looking chilly. Have you seen my Cover Letter Hoodie?

In late 2008 I launched my own T-shirt brand, Snake Oil Clothing. I sold screen-printed Tees at conventions like Comic-con and through a web store. Three years ago I moved into a small San Francisco apartment with very little storage. I just can't print and store large amounts of shirts like I used to. But I still get emails from people who are bummed that their favorite Snake Oil shirt is now mostly dryer lint. I didn't feel good about telling my fans that they were plain out of luck, so I made designs available through Redbubble.com

It turns out, their quality is amazing! If you gave up on print-on-demand T-shirts five years ago when P.O.D could only be done on light colored shirts and had weird, off-white boxes around the image, it's time to try Redbubble.

I can put up new designs just see how they do. If I never sell one it doesn't hurt me. If 400 copies sell it's all up to those guys to print, package and ship the T-shirts out! All I have to do is wait for a Paypal payment of around $4.25,  per shirt sold, $11 when someone buys a hoodie! That's pretty much the same profit margin as when I was having shirts made through a screen-printer.

How does this help with self promotion and branding?

  • If you have a collection of solid work, you can make it all available as T-shirts, phone cases, pillows, prints etc. as P.O.D merchandise. Now you have a nice portfolio of work that shows a) what you are about (that's your brand) and b) that you can create finished work. Showing that you can start and finish a solid collection of artwork is huge on its own.
  • Your T-shirts sell. Not only do you now get some sweet "mailbox money" coming your way, now someone is walking around with your artwork on their chest. That's free advertising, son! Maybe that person works at Marvel, Pixar or LucasArts (Jeez, I guess I should just say Disney), wherever you want to get work. If your designs are strong people will ask about that T-shirt. Now you have fans who work at Lucas or wherever and see your artwork every week or so. That's Huge! And it totally happens.
  • Redbubble allows creators the option to upload artwork that is only available to the creator, private-style. So you can make one-off, high quality T-shirts that no one else could possibly have. For about 30 bucks!  That was unheard of a few years ago. I took advantage of this by printing one T-shirt with my resume emblazoned on it (pic above). I am not above this sort of shameless, meta, self-promotion. And I'm chok-ful-o-more ideas for using this technology and service to do things people could have never done before.  

Are you getting your artwork out there by using Print-on-Demand services? Let me know what kind of experiences you have had. 

Follow Ben Walker on Instagram and Twitter: @ArtofBenWalker

New Services

Services Like Custom Pet Portraits That Are Good

I added a new menu item to this site, Services! The first item on the menu is Pet Portraits. But they aren't your usual pet portraits. These are good! Portraits are priced by size and start at just $200. Check out my Services page for more info.

"I am freaking out. OMG This is the most beautiful thing I've ever seen." -Sarah DSR and Detective Karla Whiskerson

"I am freaking out. OMG This is the most beautiful thing I've ever seen."
-Sarah DSR and Detective Karla Whiskerson

Bigfoot's Big Day

"We are gathered here today, under the canopy of the Black Forest, to witness the joining in magical matrimony of Mr. Bigfoot and Princess Glengarry Glenn Rosa, of the Enchanted Grass Valleys…."

I made Bigfoot's Big Day in celebrate my upcoming nuptials. T-shirts are currently available through RedBubble.com. Choose between enchanted forest colors or the very masculine Groomsmen's Edition.

Both colorways will be printed on your choice of hand-picked complimentary colors. Girly tees and hoodies available too! (although the zip-up hoodie looks like some kind of bad omen. Oh wait you can print on the Back! Much better.) 

Redbubble.com

10 Years of Toast Boy

 ...and T-shirts

Click to get the new Toast Boy T-shirt!

Click to get the new Toast Boy T-shirt!

Ten years ago, Toast Boy (also known as Butter Side Don) was born on a cockroach infested tour boat in Bangkok, Thailand. He became the first in a whole family of indie T-shirt designs. To celebrate, I am making this hand-painted Toast Boy available as a T-shirt the first time. Read on for the evolution of poor Toast Boy. 

2004

Awaiting my marginally appetizing lunch aboard a small, Thailand touring boat, I scratched at my sketchbook. I kept one eye on the clips from "America's Funniest Home Videos" the crew had put on to keep us Westerners occupied. I looked up and was struck by a quick shot of an upset boy (or girl?) dressed as bread. With a jarring "Ka-chunk!" an image popped up in my mind. 

Original sketch of Toast Boy. Yes, it was on pink paper. 

This Toast Boy is available on RedBubble too.

This Toast Boy is available on RedBubble too.

When I returned home, I scraped the lint off as best I could and Toast boy was ready debute as my first indie T-shirt design at my first convention table, Alternative Press Expo 2005. 

This Toast Boy is available on RedBubble too

This Toast Boy is available on RedBubble too

Coffee-stained Toast Boy

I drew this Toast Boy on some old shelf paper around the same time. This version was eventually printed as a sticker and distributed around Sacramento's midtown. I like to think the image became the Obey Giant sticker of Sacramento but the truth is Obey Giant was still the Obey Giant sticker of Sacramento. 

Wondercon 2008

You can imagine my shock and pride when I saw that famed MAD magazine cartoonist, Sergio Aragonés had adorned his briefcase with one sticker, Toast Boy. I had given him that sticker a year prior! *starstruck*

In 2011 Toast Boy was painted in full color, renamed Butter Side Don and shown as part of Gallery 1988's Garbage Pail Kids show.

This hand-painted version of Toast Boy is available for the first time as a T-shirt on RedBubble. They are printed on American Apparel tees just like I have always done. The quality is superb and buyers can choose between a bunch of hand-picked, complimentary shirt colors! Oh, and if you live in Portland and only want hoodies, they are available too, along with girly fit, kids, baby onesies, and more.

Why is Toast Boy so iconic and beloved? I think he just sums up our lives sometimes. Whatever he was about to get up to is ruined and we can all relate to that. 

Thanks for reading.
-Ben

Live Cartooning at Crocker Art Museum

Sacramento! Who said I would never be back? 

Crocker Art Museum, Super Nice!

Crocker Art Museum, Super Nice!

The Teen Self Portrait show opens at Sacramento's Crocker Art Museum, Thursday April 17th. In case these youngsters are not satisfied with just one 2D rendering of their glowing visage, I will be on hand, drawing live. I will be joined by one of my favorite San Francisco cartoonists, Donta Santistevan

  • Thursday, April 17, 2014
  • 5:00pm – 7:00pm
  • Crocker Art Museum (map)

Action shot

This could be YOU!!!

Doggies in Jalopies

If you live in San Francisco's Nob Hill or Pacific Heights you may have recently noticed a guy "leering" at your dog, maybe even taking pictures. Well I can't account for every weirdo out there but if it was me you saw behaving that way, I can explain. I was merely looking for inspiration for my newest series, Doggies in Jalopies. These little hellhounds will be showing as part of Less is More, a group show at 111 Minna Gallery. The show opens Friday, April 4th, 5pm- late.

Howl I Get Through??
-The Process

These guys are all done on Claybord. Claybord is basically a scratchboard without the black layer on top. It lets me add ink and paint then scratch, scrape or sand it away wherever I like. Here are some pictures showing my process for working on this addictive surface. 

I start with a basic pencil sketch using a Col-Erase (violet) pencil. Any pencil will do. This is just my favorite. It doesn't smudge or get reflective like graphite can. 

Then I use watered down India ink to add tone. It doesn't look like much because at this stage because I'm just adding a middle tone to work up (or scratch away) from. I would use Dr Ph Martin's Watercolor dyes or maybe watered down acrylics at this point if the piece were to be in color. Trying to color in artwork AFTER the lines have been laid down is a pain and doesn't really work so well. This is the kind of cool stuff you learn by hanging out in Skinner's studio. 

After scratching away at some background elements, I add line work and dark fills with India ink. I have to be careful about timing when I scratch or add ink so I don't scratch away at the work I want to keep. There isn't as much room for changes and improvising like there would be with standard painting. Check out the tail I had forgotten about and added in at this point, over some scratchiness. Those scratches still show through a bit. Oh well.

I keep scratching to create white line details and I add black line work until it is done to my satisfaction. Notice on his muzzle, you can basically erase if necessary. I decided those marks weren't helping. 

Hey! I just saw something I had planned to fix. Oh well, artwork is never finished, just abandoned, right?