28.6.21

Film Study 1-Juice (1992)

 

Juice (1992) is one of my all time favorite films. I've seen it so many times I can quote most scenes. Heres a bit of film study learning about shots. How they're composed and why. Ernest Dickerson was the director and Larry Banks was the DP or Cinematographer. You can get the 25th anniversary edition here.

I got some of the shot composition definitions from Studio Binder and made this graphic with shots from the film. Feel free to use it or share (w /credit of course). I already have respect for film, tv, and animation makers, but studying it gives me so much more respect for how difficult it is to make something both beautiful and meaningful. 

Stay tuned.... 

23.6.21

Gender Nation - One of a Kind Like Me

 

So recently a picture book I worked on with Laurin Mayeno and Blood Orange Press got banned from a few schools. Read that post here. And we got a bunch of negative comments about the book from parents and adults who are frankly scared. They're scared of folks who they don't know, understand, or want to have to get to know so they can teach their children to understand them. 

But at the same time we got some good news! This organization Gender Nation founded by two parents who have queer kids to get books about the LGBTQ community and diverse stories into San Diego schools. They fundraise, and get these books into schools where they might not have the $ or just didn't know about them. And our book "One of a kind, like me/ Unico Como Yo" is one of their books.

Please watch the video and go to their fundraising page because they're now aiming to get these books into schools in Los Angeles, one of the biggest school districts in the US.



Heartbreak Radio 151 - Lady Imix & DJ Phatrick

 

Not sure if you've had the chance to listen before but Heartbreak Radio (Lady Imix and DJ Phatrick) is a monthly radio show online with music lovers, educators, and activists that play love songs, chill vibes, and songs about heart break. LISTEN

If you dig mixes, check out this one of Philipino funk from Pele Durian Funk

21.6.21

Love & Basketball (2000)- Movies I Love 4

 

Gina Prince-Bythewood is a great director. I've seen the majority of her film work and this is one of my favorites of her films. It's rare that I've seen a love story like this about an athlete that puts a young Black woman front and center. Not only as the awkward love interest but as a force of strength and power on the court. If you haven't seen it I highly recommend it. Sanaa Lathan and Omar Epps are incredible in this and it came out when I started college. Watch the trailer.


Did you miss the last Movie? O Homem Que Copiava.


If you loved this film and want to see more like it I suggest Beyond The Lights! And peep, this film will be re-released this year w/ a new documentary and commentary by the director herself as a Criterion collection Blue Ray.

What is this? This is a part of my blog where I share my favorites films. I enjoy them for their pacing, action, comedy, drama, lighting, acting, score, so many things. I grew up as a lover of cinema going with my parents, friends, and by myself. I'm no scholar but I bet I could find a movie we both love to talk about. Stay tuned for more.....

19.6.21

14.6.21

SFETSY seller!

Fam, I first "volunteered" for SF Etsy in 2014 (i think-getting old) because I wanted to put in some work and learn how they work, who they are, and if it would be a good place to sell my stuff at. I found out all of that and so much more. SF Etsy is a kind, supportive group of folks who are from all over the Bay Area. I've always had a great time at all their events and its a world class lesson in community and business when you peep how they do what they do. So, find something different and unique by using the #sfEtsy hashtag, go to the shows once they start up again, and support a local business... 

 

11.6.21

Freelance chronicles 7- 1000 Sales on Etsy

Me vending, photo by Imelda Jimenez-LaMar

Yo yo yo yo (Stretch Armstrong voice), I just crossed the 1000 sales mark on Etsy which I'm very proud of. I know sellers who have less than 100 sales and folks with upwards of 20k. But, I plan to make more. Here's some tips and things I did to make it this far. If you're new to selling on Etsy, Shopify, Big Cartel, We Buy Black, or any online commerce site these might be helpful. Got suggestions? Questions? Leave a comment! Shout out to my wife who gave me so much energy, ideas, and feedback on how to make my work pop! If you have ever purchased a book or a sticker from me, THANK YOU.

via GIPHY (Fresh prince of Bel Air)

1. Get Specific

I like when I see sellers on Etsy create a niche. It doesn't mean you sell something that no one has ever seen or made before only. It means you and your products have focus. If shoppers can see your story not only from your bio and product descriptions, but your over all store; it will help. Why? You want to get to specific people who like what you like. Not every single person. There are going to be a lot of people who don't rock w/you because its not their thing and that's ok. Trust me, if you LOVE it there are others out there who will. And your passion, expertise, and knowledge is infectious! So nail it down, and pivot if necessary.


Reverie performing, photo via 
@justraw5


2. Flow/ Rhythm
 

I've found that if there's a regularity to my posts about my merch (merchandise) people not only come to expect whats new from me, the awareness that I make products grows. When I wasn't making very many sales it was because I posted a product once here and there. Once I sat down and made a schedule each year including multiple series of products I began to see much more traction. Create a rhythm of when you release products. Could be 4 times a year, or 12. Create a schedule and try to stick to it.


Doc OG Lowrider painter (RIP)

3. Customize 

One way to set yourself apart from the crowd in terms of sales is to make custom items. The challenge with these is that they are time consuming and require skill to make them. As a result they will cost more, but if folks get to know you and they think what you make is unique and special they will buy them because they mean something. So, how can you flip what you're making now to have a flair, color, tone, or message that is custom (your style) or customized for the individual. This way, folks can't get it anywhere else but from you.


via GIPHY (In the heights)

4. Build Community 

A great way to gain more knowledge and eventually more sales is to build community. How do you do that? Join an Etsy team if you're on the platform. Make friends with other sellers like you. Reach out to people and ask for help, offer help, etc. By building friendships in this area of life you not only earn more money, but you can help your community of sellers by sharing what you know and you all grow together. This community can be virtual or in person. The point is to get out there and make genuine friendships, give, and receive. Support other sellers by buying stuff from them that you like, and they will do the same. Shout out to SF Etsy (Etsy Team), The Black Owned Etsy Shops, and my local community for having my back!


Vendor at Unique Markets via Forbes


5. Do events

Before Covid and after events in person will always be a great way to market your work, meet new people, to product test, and to drive future traffic to your shop. Events are not just for selling your stuff that day, sometimes retailers or shoppers will take note of your stuff and hit you up at a later date. If your immediate family already has everything you make its good to go to the other side of town and show em what you got. If you can talk about and share your products with people who stop by your table/booth you'll be able to see real quick what people gravitate to and what they don't. Test! If folks buy from you once make sure to leave them with a way to follow you, see more, or to share what they got with their friends. Business or postcards are great for this and you can also ask them to sign up for an email newsletter....


Tony Leung/ In the mood for love


6. Email newsletter 

I started doing email newsletters seriously over 3 years ago and it has done wonders for my regular sales and for connecting to my folks! Why? I can reach people at their personal emails and the majority of them actually see it and open my message. With social media it can be difficult to reach people because of algorithms, or the latest features a platform is highlighting. I started with one email a month, thats it. I do not spam people because that gets annoying. I make the newsletter short, to the point, and balanced with image, text, and sometimes video. If you have one consider making a website of your work with a pop up and having an actual paper form that people can fill out at events to get new sign ups. I use Mail Chimp but there are many such as Mad Mini, Constant Contact, Substack, etc.


via GIPHY (Marshawn Lynch)

7. Press 

Both paid and earned press is key. You sell at events, you post on social media, you email everyone. You tell all your family and friends. Folks support and then the sales slow down or stop. Don't quit. It just means folks have bought all you have or they're financially tapped out. You gotta reach new folks. How do you do that? Get eyes on your products who don't know you at all. Maybe they support Black owned businesses, maybe they're Queer friendly, maybe they're a teacher, entertainer. Whatever it is, they're looking for folks like you. Which blogs do they follow? What podcast do they listen to? Do they read newspapers? Make a note of these places (especially the ones you know your audience would love) and reach out. Sometimes you will have to pay, but I've heard its best to reach folks who write about work like yours and get it for free. You're helping journalists and they're helping you. This takes a lot of time, years even. But the more you prepare your information, links, and photos so it is easy to share with journalists the easier it will be to cover you and your work. You can see some press I've gotten for books or merch here. Shout out Papalodown who helped me tremendously with this.


Aaliyah / Romeo must die


8. Trial & Error

Some shit will pop and some will not get any traction at all. That is just how it is. Sometimes it takes awhile for things to gain traction too. There have been times where I made something and got it reproduced. It never really sold, and I was left with tons of products. A few times I just followed my gut and made something that sold really well! This to me means making what you want and thinking of what would best serve your audience and or supporters. There have been times where customers have told me what they liked, didn't like, or what they wish I would make. If it made sense, I'd try it out. Sometimes they were right, sometimes not. Try new things related to your core passion. And take your time, because it takes time.


via GIPHY (Maitreyi/ Never have I ever)

9. Extras
Here are a few extra things I would highly suggest. 
-Get good photos of your merch. Either your study YouTube tutorials and figure it out or you hire someone like Sunset Shutterbug. A product photographer can help make your work shine! 
-Brand your stuff and your social media. Meaning, use the same font, colors Key Words, logo, bio, typography, etc. That way when they look at your card, site, merch, social media it is all consistent and says something about you. I should note that a logo and an illustration are NOT the same thing. If they seem too similar or you don't understand the difference, hire a graphic designer! 
-Search your app or selling service for help. Many of these platforms will have helpful articles, blogs, or videos to guide you. Take advantage!

Me and my youngest


Peace fam, my name is Robert Liu-Trujillo. I'm an artist from the Bay Area and I work in several fields (Kids books, Murals, Merchandise, Licensing, Illustration, Creative writing, etc). If you're new to my blog, welcome. I share my personal and professional work here. Freelance chronicles is a series of blog posts about what has helped me succeed and the many experiences I've had along the way. I've been working as a freelance artist since 2006 officially. I have not worked a "day job" since 2014.  If you found this helpful you can support me by copping something from my shop or subscribing to my email newsletter! Feel free to share.

Previous Posts: 

Improve your merch table LINK

Business podcasts LINK

LAST NOTE: I started my Etsy shop in 2009/ 2010. I didn't really start making full use of it until the past 5 years (I'm writing this in 2021). It takes time, be patient with yourself. Wherever you are in the process be open to growing.

10.6.21

Interview w/ professor Marilisa Jiménez García (Side By Side )

 

Great interview w/ author and educator Marilisa Jiménez García about her book "Side By Side" which examines Pura Belpre, Puerto Rican historians such as Arturo Schomburg, US empire, and the beginnings of books and education for children in the US. This is a greta book for ethnic studies students in high school and college. And my artwork is on the cover :) Big shout out to Marilisa for including it.

Link to buy the book

Previous post about the book, and here's the link to the original illustration.


4.6.21

Organizing-Video Inspiration

 

For over a year I got to work with Ntanya and a crew of great organizers and I still carry conversations like this one with me. Organizing, base building, etc A lot of people talk, but organizing is hard work.

Here is a bit of organizing I do: Social Justice Holiday Bk Fair 

Speaking w/ Sol Collective


 Today I'll be speaking with Sol Collective and their community talking about literacy!!! The jist of the presentation is : To develop a love of reading takes teamwork and ganas (desire). The absolutely awesome stories you seek are out there, you just have to work together to find and share them. In this short workshop, Robert will share his experience going from a nonreader to a lover of books and stories.

Hosted by: Me! Robert Liu-Trujillo, father, husband, artist, and author

LINK: Eventbrite Link


1.6.21

Donating bks for Palestine!

 


What up fam, so if you follow my blog, my social media, etc you know that I am very pro Palestine and have made artwork voicing that support as a way to let my folks know and encourage other artists who agree to share. With this past few months attacks on Palestine by Israel's Zionist govt and their continued policies more people are waking up and finding out the conflict is not really a conflict but an apartheid system and a genocide of the Palestinian people. 

So, the homie put out a call and I answered along with many others in the kidlit world. I put up a book bundle and a 1 on 1 chat about kids book illustration. So, please go to the their page and bid on some of these books, art, book swag, etc. And there are professional services there for folks who are actively trying to get into the kidlit world like manuscript critiques for multiple forms of kids books. Thanks in advance for your support. And for supporting Palestinian kids and families, and the people!


Social media: Instagram and Twitter