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Echo Chernik: Ask Me Anything

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Echo Chernik
(@echochernik)
Advanced Member
Posts: 41
Posted by: @wulfmoon

Thank you for the answers about commercial illustration vs. personal projects, and how you view both as problem solving that leads to personal growth regardless of who you are doing it for.

One thing I teach my in my writing workshops is that to survive as a writer, you need multiple income streams. Few full time writers make 100% of their income from selling their writing. In fact, figures I've seen in recent studies reveal about one third comes from writing, and the rest from teaching, editing, public speaking, and the like. How true is this for full time artists? I would assume it's similar, as being diversified means if it's a slow month in your gallery, you can still pay the overhead because you have an assignment from Hasbro or Celestial Seasonings.

This is true - I teach my students something similar.  I like to have several different lures in the water at the same time, when I'm fishing for new projects - several different styles and markets that i'm  trying to get work in.  Which, makes for a challenge when I land several at a time (when it rains, it pours!).  But I also am usually doing other things too - having a kickstarter on the side is a great side income stream. I also have the gallery now, which brings in monthly.  Print sales from the online store - or convention sales.  I also have a patreon. Some people do craft shows, or have royalties from projects that they did.  And sometimes you need to have less glamorous projects like graphic design work, or even a job on the side.  I always tell my students that if they need to get a side job, try to get something creative, and LEARN from it.  When I was in college I had a freelance side gig writing out names on certificates in calligraphy.  Granted, I had to quickly teach myself calligraphy in order to land the side gig, but it not only paid the bills, it also made me really good at calligraphy!!!

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Topic starter Posted : May 22, 2021 1:49 pm
Wulf Moon
(@wulfmoon)
Platinum Plus Member Moderator
Posts: 2337

Echo, When I go through solo galleries or studios, I find most artists have one special work that's dear to their heart and NFS--not for sale. What's yours, what motivated you to create it, and do you care to share a link?

Click here to JOIN THE WULF PACK!
"Muzik Man" wins Best SFF Story of 2020! Read it in Best of Deep Magic Anthology Two! Includes stories by Super Secrets' alumni KD Julicher and Brittany Rainsdon!
You know WotF Workshop's 24-hour story exercise? Want to see what I wrote? It's about to be released in the pro-pay anthology THINGS WITH FEATHERS. Order HERE!
I've been invited back to Fyrecon Online to teach my Zoom master workshops Nov. 18th—21st. Four to chose from! Which one will help you level up? Explore HERE ... but you better hurry. They always sell out and are already half full!

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Posted : May 22, 2021 1:52 pm
EmilyGoodwin
(@emilygoodwin)
Active Member
Posts: 7

A question came in on email for you:

"in contest entries, do you lean more towards an illustration that tells a story or technical skill or both?"

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Posted : May 22, 2021 1:53 pm
Echo Chernik
(@echochernik)
Advanced Member
Posts: 41
Posted by: @karyenglish

Hi, Echo,

What would you recommend for someone who's proficient with traditional 2D media only - nothing digital? There are so many online / digital tools out there, that I don't even know where to start.

Thanks!

 

Kary

I think it's easier to go from traditional media to digital than the other way around.  Traditional artists understand that digital is simply another medium.  When you start digital, it's so much harder to master a traditional media.  So, remember that - it's only another medium!  You have so many great tools at your disposal nowadays and a plethora of online teaching venues and free videos.  An ipad with the ipad pencil and procreate is awesome. The pencil gets great line sensitivity, and its awesome for drawing. I personally like using photoshop and illustrator - and I work on a wacom cintiq.   If you want to get a cintiq (where you draw right on the screen) you can get a dirt cheap 12" one on ebay for less than $200 used.  It plugs into your desktop computer, and you can learn on it and use photoshop.  It's smaller than the 24" one I use, but I worked on one of those for an entire summer, and bought them for both my girls. The sensitivity is on par with the big one - and you don't need to spend the thousands of dollars.    Illustrator is awesome, but has a little bit of a learning curve, so take a class on vectors.  I also have some tutuorials on youtube.

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Topic starter Posted : May 22, 2021 1:54 pm
Echo Chernik
(@echochernik)
Advanced Member
Posts: 41
Posted by: @emilygoodwin

A question came in on email for you:

"in contest entries, do you lean more towards an illustration that tells a story or technical skill or both?"

Both. I look at technical skills and expertise - the mastery of basic illustration concepts such as color theory, composition and mastery of the medium. When it comes between two different artists, however - I always go to the artist who tells a story. It *is* an illustration contest after all.

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Topic starter Posted : May 22, 2021 1:55 pm
Dragongirlb
(@dragongirlb)
Active Member
Posts: 10

What is something you wish you had known when you started?  What skills outside of art would have made difference for your career?

Thanks

 

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Posted : May 22, 2021 1:57 pm
Wulf Moon liked
Echo Chernik
(@echochernik)
Advanced Member
Posts: 41
Posted by: @alexh

Hi Echo - what do you consider when illustrating written works? Do you look for a particular visual scene or descriptive detail, for example? I read your response about creating illustrations that don't give too much about a story away - can that be difficult to do?

Is there something us writers can do to make your job easier?

Finally, who or what were your inspirations, whether fellow artists or not?

Thanks. Smile  

I think that it's important for illustrators to read the story (if it's at all possible).  But, writers can also suggest parts of the story that might be good to be illustrated.  Communicating visually and in the written word are two different beasts - and writers sometimes try to art direct a little too much.  I would describe the scene, but maybe stay away from art directing too closely, because artists can get too hung up on trying to draw your vision, which ends up with a sub par illustration.  If that makes sense.   If possible, let the artist read the story, and then pitch three ideas back to you.  

I'm inspired by the neoclassical artists (Jacques Louise David), as they have a lot of symbolism in their works.  I love the realism and the symbolism. I also like decorative works, such as art nouveau, art deco. I'm a fan of romanticist and orientalist works.  

 

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Topic starter Posted : May 22, 2021 2:00 pm
André Mata, AlexH, Wulf Moon and 2 people liked
Michelle
(@michelle)
New Member
Posts: 1

Hi Echo, on average how long do you spend on a project?

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Posted : May 22, 2021 2:04 pm
Wulf Moon
(@wulfmoon)
Platinum Plus Member Moderator
Posts: 2337

Echo, I'll ask the obvious question. What are the advantages of winning the Illustrators of the Future Contest for aspiring artists? Why do you work for the contest, and why do you believe in it? 

Click here to JOIN THE WULF PACK!
"Muzik Man" wins Best SFF Story of 2020! Read it in Best of Deep Magic Anthology Two! Includes stories by Super Secrets' alumni KD Julicher and Brittany Rainsdon!
You know WotF Workshop's 24-hour story exercise? Want to see what I wrote? It's about to be released in the pro-pay anthology THINGS WITH FEATHERS. Order HERE!
I've been invited back to Fyrecon Online to teach my Zoom master workshops Nov. 18th—21st. Four to chose from! Which one will help you level up? Explore HERE ... but you better hurry. They always sell out and are already half full!

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Posted : May 22, 2021 2:06 pm
Echo Chernik
(@echochernik)
Advanced Member
Posts: 41
Posted by: @dragongirlb

What is something you wish you had known when you started?  What skills outside of art would have made difference for your career?

Thanks

 

I'm glad that I learned business from my parents. They were both business majors, and taught me that even though I'm an artist - I'm also a business and need to market myself as such.  So, I'm glad I have skills in business. I also have a background in medical (I ran on the ambulance when I was in high school), and was on the ski patrol - I think these outside adventures contributed to my storytelling skills.  

What do I wish I knew when I started? That's a good question.  It would have certainly been easier to have the internet when I started - however, the internet provides an overwhelming amount of information and competition, and I think it's easy to look at the entire worlds worth of amazing artists and think "wow, my work sucks" - I know a lot of young artists who fall into this trap.  So try not to compare yourself to the entire world - focus on your art and make it amazing.  I'm glad I didn't have the internet when I was starting out (that kind of pressure is overwhelming).  Instead we had libraries with books full of amazing art.  Go to the library and look at amazing books.  Be inspired by the people on the internet and not intimidated by them.   And just KEEP GOING. and KEEP CREATING. Before you know it, you'll be a success!

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Topic starter Posted : May 22, 2021 2:06 pm
Echo Chernik
(@echochernik)
Advanced Member
Posts: 41
Posted by: @wulfmoon

Echo, I'll ask the obvious question. What are the advantages of winning the Illustrators of the Future Contest for aspiring artists? Why do you work for the contest, and why do you believe in it? 

Absolutely.  Promotion is important, and the IOTF folks really believe in taking Hubbards dream of launching careers to heart - they promote winners with every bit of their being!  Also, you end up with a *published* piece - and as I stated earlier, a published piece in your portfolio inspires others to hire you. Once someone hires you, you're trusted and are on your way.   I believe it's important for successful artists to give back to the up and comers.  I remember how hard it was starting out - we didn't have the internet back then, so no big forums of artists to ask "how much do I bid for this?" "how much do I charge?" "what's work for hire?"  "how do i put together a contract?".  So, I do this in order to help make it easier on the new artists -a nd help them not get taken advantage of.  I'll actually talk about rates and money, which some professionals won't.   Definitely enter and win the contest if you can, and don't get discouraged if you don't get in one quarter, or two, or even three. It doesn't mean your work sucks - it just means that it didn't fit into the grouping I was putting together to pass on to the judges, for that particular quarter.

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Topic starter Posted : May 22, 2021 2:11 pm
André Mata, AlexH, John Goodwin and 1 people liked
Echo Chernik
(@echochernik)
Advanced Member
Posts: 41
Posted by: @michelle

Hi Echo, on average how long do you spend on a project?

Depends on the project. My pieces take anywhere from 20-200 hours per piece. Sometimes longer.  Remember, every piece you do makes you stronger as an artist

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Topic starter Posted : May 22, 2021 2:12 pm
Michelle, André Mata, Wulf Moon and 1 people liked
cabarrett
(@cabarrett)
Bronze Member
Posts: 56

What are your personal favorite tools (physical, hardware, and software)?

Vol36 - HM
Vol 37 - Finalist (upcoming on Podcastle), HM (published by Mysterion)
Vol38 - Q1 SHM, Q2 HM, Q4 pending...

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Posted : May 22, 2021 2:13 pm
Dragongirlb
(@dragongirlb)
Active Member
Posts: 10

@echochernik What would your Magnus opus dream project be?

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Posted : May 22, 2021 2:14 pm
Echo Chernik
(@echochernik)
Advanced Member
Posts: 41
Posted by: @cabarrett

What are your personal favorite tools (physical, hardware, and software)?

I prefer Photoshop and Illustrator, and I have a wacom cintiq 24". I like Wacom over other tablets, though the size isn't as important than it being wacom.  I have an ipad with procreate, but I don't prefer it.  I actually prefer drawing on vellum or mixed media paper. Or sometimes marker paper. Or sometimes I draw on the backs of bills or envelopes (lol if that's what happens to be closest).  I have been working with watercolors lately, and like my Holbein blocks, although I also bought some daniel smith watercolor tubes and windsor newton.  I am not brand loyal. I tend to walk around the art store, open tubes and smear the pigment on the back of my hand. If it speaks to me, I buy it.  Oil colors are the same way. I like old holland, rembrandt, daniel smith, or whoever else tickles my pickle while I'm walking around the store smearing it on my hand.    I prefer to paint on board versus canvas. In college I couldn't afford canvases after the first few weeks, so we used to gesso pizza boxes. Now I use Ampersand gessobord, or hardbord if they are out. Although Claybord is pretty cool stuff too.  To draw, I like Palomino Blackwing pencils. Blackwing Pearl is good too.  I prefer these over all other pencils. Period.    I also like to draw pen and ink with microns, but prefer an old dip pen if I have my druthers.  I like doc martin inks, india ink, or metallics with mica in them that come from germany.      Oh, and cherry twizzlers. Those are also an important artists tool. Smile

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Topic starter Posted : May 22, 2021 2:20 pm
André Mata, Wulf Moon, cabarrett and 1 people liked
Echo Chernik
(@echochernik)
Advanced Member
Posts: 41
Posted by: @dragongirlb

@echochernik What would your Magnus opus dream project be?

I am working on landing that right now.  Can't talk about it, but keep your fingers crossed. Smile  

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Topic starter Posted : May 22, 2021 2:20 pm
Wulf Moon liked
Echo Chernik
(@echochernik)
Advanced Member
Posts: 41

And I want to design a starbucks cup.

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Topic starter Posted : May 22, 2021 2:21 pm
ashpyne, Wulf Moon, Dragongirlb and 1 people liked
André Mata
(@a-mata)
Active Member
Posts: 5

Hello Echo,

 

I have a few other questions…

About promoting work online, you advised promoting everywhere but is there any particular platform that you recommend for example promoting work for book publishing or illustration in general?

 

Regarding book publishing, for someone who wants to do book covers is there any particular demand or trend that you have noticed? Or something in the portfolio or requirement that an artist should have or be able to do, like for example being able to draw the human figure, or stylized art vs realistic painting? 

 

Is there a particular preference for traditional or digital illustration in the industry, or any particular demand for one over the other on any occasion?

 

Any particular advice for the inexperienced illustrator when dealing with contracts or negotiating a commission or basically putting a price and value on their work?

 

Thank you very much!

 

André

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Posted : May 22, 2021 2:22 pm
ashpyne liked
Echo Chernik
(@echochernik)
Advanced Member
Posts: 41

And a us postage stamp. That would be cool too.

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Topic starter Posted : May 22, 2021 2:22 pm
EmilyGoodwin
(@emilygoodwin)
Active Member
Posts: 7

@echochernik lol "cherry twizzlers are important artists tools." Do they work better if you bite the end off or do you paint with the blunt tip? winking  

 

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Posted : May 22, 2021 2:24 pm
HabaneroPepper
(@habaneropepper)
Active Member
Posts: 17

@echochernik Thank you! I'll take that advice as I work on my more recent draft. I've been looking at your art since the link was posted--I may just be a student but I'm gonna work hard to get there someday. Thank you so much, Ms. Chernik! 😊 

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Posted : May 22, 2021 2:26 pm
Wulf Moon
(@wulfmoon)
Platinum Plus Member Moderator
Posts: 2337

Echo, I enjoyed your comments on understanding that you are also a business and need to conduct yourself as such. I find there are more than a few creatives that view commercial success in art or writing as "selling out." In fact, the more successful you become, the more you hear such comments. They speak disparagingly of promoting your work, when in fact, the artist must promote their work to the proper degree in order to sell their work and get additional jobs. This is how you build your brand and increase demand. It's how you make a living from your art. Have you experienced this attitude yourself, especially as your star started to ascend? How do you tune out the negative as you keep building up your career and promoting your brand?

Click here to JOIN THE WULF PACK!
"Muzik Man" wins Best SFF Story of 2020! Read it in Best of Deep Magic Anthology Two! Includes stories by Super Secrets' alumni KD Julicher and Brittany Rainsdon!
You know WotF Workshop's 24-hour story exercise? Want to see what I wrote? It's about to be released in the pro-pay anthology THINGS WITH FEATHERS. Order HERE!
I've been invited back to Fyrecon Online to teach my Zoom master workshops Nov. 18th—21st. Four to chose from! Which one will help you level up? Explore HERE ... but you better hurry. They always sell out and are already half full!

ReplyQuote
Posted : May 22, 2021 2:27 pm
Dragongirlb
(@dragongirlb)
Active Member
Posts: 10

@emilygoodwin you get the pull and peel ones 

 

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Posted : May 22, 2021 2:29 pm
Dragongirlb
(@dragongirlb)
Active Member
Posts: 10

@echochernikone my fav artist of the non fantasy type art had postage stamps made of his work. It's a goal I have as well.  

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Posted : May 22, 2021 2:31 pm
Echo Chernik
(@echochernik)
Advanced Member
Posts: 41
Posted by: @a-mata

Hello Echo,

 

I have a few other questions…

About promoting work online, you advised promoting everywhere but is there any particular platform that you recommend for example promoting work for book publishing or illustration in general?

 

Regarding book publishing, for someone who wants to do book covers is there any particular demand or trend that you have noticed? Or something in the portfolio or requirement that an artist should have or be able to do, like for example being able to draw the human figure, or stylized art vs realistic painting? 

 

Is there a particular preference for traditional or digital illustration in the industry, or any particular demand for one over the other on any occasion?

 

Any particular advice for the inexperienced illustrator when dealing with contracts or negotiating a commission or basically putting a price and value on their work?

 

Thank you very much!

 

André

Have a website. It's amazing how many illustrators don't have websites.  Have a business card *with your art on it*.  I have gotten jobs from so many people that told me that they picked up my card and have been carrying it in their wallet for ten years, and now that they are a creative director they want to hire me.  Online platforms change constantly. I used to say to be on portfolios.com and theispot, but they are constantly shifting.  So, instagram is good, and I even encourage you to be on less pro platforms. I have gotten professional jobs from deviant art and renderosity.  I also don't tend to watermark up my pieces, if people want to use them as their iphone backdrops, I'm ok with that.  I download art to inspire me all the time, but I also make a point to follow artists instagrams and if I really love the work, to order a print off their website.  

Book publishing.  Do the work that you love to do.  I loved doing art nouveau before it was a thing. In fact, I helped bring back the art nouveau trend because I just kept doing it.  Eventually the world caught up.  Remember, it's an artists job to help fashion what's popular - so be a trend setter, and don't get caught up on trying to follow what's trendy right now.  If you put together book covers in a style you love, then you'll hopefully get hired to do book covers. Start with illustrating covers that excite you and send them out in a portfolio.   I can advise that light washy styles don't tend to make good covers (like watercolors or pastel works).  Oils or digital realism tend to be strongest - though you can also throw in some graphic elements too.  Remember too that type will need to be fit in, so design with empty space.  

Traditional versus digital are like hemlines in my experience. When I was first starting out, I was turned away from a company because my work was digital, and they didn't print digital. And then companys only wanted digital. And then people started to consider digital work "easy" and only traditional artists had talent.  Really, when it comes down to it - GOOD WORK IS GOOD WORK.  However, digital is easier to make edits to, and can be supplied layered, so for commercial work I still prefer to work digitally. 

Don't work for free.  If you're designing a logo for a cupcake company and they claim they don't have a budget, get six months of free cupcakes.  Barter counts - but just don't work for free. And remember, if you choose to work for a lower budget, you get more creative control.  If they're demanding and want you to work for free- you're better off doing a personal piece for your portfolio, the way you want to do it, and have it come out amazing.   Some jobs will pay more, some will pay less. It depends on the project, the demographic, the client, the scope and the rights.  Pick up the Graphic Artists Guild to Pricing and Ethical Guidelines - this is a great place to start learning about contracts, fees, royalties, etc. When I started, I would even quote the industry prices in the book (even though they seemed high to me), because it helped me have a starting point.  Turns out they weren't high at all, btw.  But the book is chock full of contracts. 

 

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Topic starter Posted : May 22, 2021 2:34 pm
ashpyne, AlexH, André Mata and 2 people liked
Dragongirlb
(@dragongirlb)
Active Member
Posts: 10

Now I want to see elmore's work on a stamp as well. 

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Posted : May 22, 2021 2:34 pm
Echo Chernik
(@echochernik)
Advanced Member
Posts: 41
Posted by: @wulfmoon

Echo, I enjoyed your comments on understanding that you are also a business and need to conduct yourself as such. I find there are more than a few creatives that view commercial success in art or writing as "selling out." In fact, the more successful you become, the more you hear such comments. They speak disparagingly of promoting your work, when in fact, the artist must promote their work to the proper degree in order to sell their work and get additional jobs. This is how you build your brand and increase demand. It's how you make a living from your art. Have you experienced this attitude yourself, especially as your star started to ascend? How do you tune out the negative as you keep building up your career and promoting your brand?

I've only been accused of "selling out" once. And that is when I chose to take on an illustration assignment for Camel Cigarettes.  It paid a *lot* and I had young kids, so every time they would run into my studio I would just turn around from painting this beautiful woman with a cigarette and say "remember, smoking is bad!".  But as a commercial artist I didn't feel that this was selling out and it didn't bother me that much.  I DO have standards though - I was asked to do a political illustration in 2016 and I turned it down. There are some things I'm not interested in touching.  If I were an editorial satire artist, that would be another matter, but I'm an advertising illustrator.     I have always stayed true to my art style.  I have been encouraged to do fan art of comic characters, and have been told that I would "totally make bank" if I did a print of wonder woman in art nouveau, but I just can't get myself to do it. I like creating what I like to create - my own characters, so in this way I've never sold out.  Now, would I illustrate an art nouveau wonder woman? Of course, if I was hired to do it.  So, just stick true to what you believe in, and you'll know if something comes your way you're not comfortable doing.  

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Topic starter Posted : May 22, 2021 2:39 pm
Echo Chernik
(@echochernik)
Advanced Member
Posts: 41
Posted by: @habaneropepper

@echochernik Thank you! I'll take that advice as I work on my more recent draft. I've been looking at your art since the link was posted--I may just be a student but I'm gonna work hard to get there someday. Thank you so much, Ms. Chernik! 😊 

You'll get there - and remember, even the failed pieces make you better and stronger as an artist. You learn from each and every one. It's okay to copy artists you like while you're learning, in order to master the decisions that you made (as long as you give credit and treat it like an exercise) - It's a challenging road, but as my alma mater said "be true to your art and your art will be true to you"

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Topic starter Posted : May 22, 2021 2:41 pm
Echo Chernik
(@echochernik)
Advanced Member
Posts: 41
Posted by: @dragongirlb

@emilygoodwin you get the pull and peel ones 

 

I want the real deal. The closest that I have come was to have an entire display SELLING stamps in the post office. My work wasn't actually on the stamp, but on ALL the promo materials featuring Frank Sinatra. Stand up boards, displays, cd covers, cases, etc etc - but no stamp! SOOO close.

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Topic starter Posted : May 22, 2021 2:42 pm
Wulf Moon liked
Echo Chernik
(@echochernik)
Advanced Member
Posts: 41
Posted by: @emilygoodwin

@echochernik lol "cherry twizzlers are important artists tools." Do they work better if you bite the end off or do you paint with the blunt tip? winking  

 

They taste best if you dip them in your paint water first.....

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Topic starter Posted : May 22, 2021 2:43 pm
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