An important aspect of being an artist, is being organized, and often it’s a subject that seldom gets talked about. I’m a big supporter of being organized, and when it becomes a habit, it can really save you. Example: several months ago, I was working an onsite temp job, and had lots of down time. During one of those down times, I wrote down a bunch of notes and script for a follow up to Kool Aid Gets Fired, to be included in the reprint.
I did some sketches, and then had to put it away to focus on paying work, and now I can get back to it. I thought I had handwritten them out, as I generally do, and hadn’t gotten around to typing out. But looking through all my current project journals, I couldn’t find them. Oh here is a sketch from the new work.
So I looked in the folder on my computer, and low and behold it was there! I had typed it out, in fact, there were no hand written notes, because it’s not a lengthy project.
Because I had gotten into the habit of putting things where they belong, when my memory came up with something different then reality, I wasn’t left having to redo work.
I credit my organization habits to working corporate publishing. You really have to be organized when you are the person handling all the files, for several books all being made at the same time. You either get organized, or end up being frustrated and hating your job.
But even without working at a big Publisher, or some other company, you can be organized.
I’ve got one folder I keep the files for my various comics in. Broken down by Client or project. Everything for that goes in the main folder, and gets organized inside. Black and white art, finished pages, layouts, reference art and more.
However you decide to organize yourself, the main thing is to be consistent. Each project will require it’s own categories. Certainly I don’t have a folder for LegalDocuments for my own work, like I do for a big client, like Marvel.
But I am consistent in putting the files where they belong. And not inventing a new category, or using temp folders, which end up never being deleted. It gets to the point where it becomes automatic, and so when I go searching, I generally find things right where they need to be.
You can be like this with your business side of being a professional artist. I have a folder for all my stuff pertaining to being a freelancer. Samples, resumes, art of business and postcards. Invoices, contracts (Which get printed out, a little note written on them for what, and then filed).
Yeah, it sounds like a lot of work. The biggest work is just figuring out your needs. Once you get that, the rest is just follow through. And your needs may change over time, or you many think of a better way of doing things.
For example, when I finish a page for a comic, I make a RGB jpg of the page, at 200 and 72 DPI, so if I have to show someone, it’s ready to go. If I take screen shots to send a visual along with a question, I keep those in a folder along with these low rez images. Why? Those are not files I will need to keep, so once the project is over, I can delete the folder, without losing anything important, and get back some space.
All those lo rez files and screen shots can start to take up space.
After all, which is more work, taking a few seconds to save a file to the right spot, or trying to remember the script and notes to a comic you wrote 3 months ago, and haven’t looked at more then once in that time?