Frequently asked questions

These are questions I've been asked a few times or that I think would be helpful to answer. I'll add more as I get more questions. Feel free to email me at or visit my portfolio at

1. Who are you?
Hi, my name is Robert Liu-Trujillo/ Tres. I write and illustrate stories. I design characters for children's books and animation, and I paint murals. Parenthood,Ethnic Studies,Storytelling, Music, Social Justice, Science Fiction, & Publishing are regular thoughts. To contact me for commissioned art, freelance, or collaboration. Email me:

2. Where you from?
I'm from the Bay Area (California). I was born in Oakland and raised in the East Bay (Berkeley, El Cerrito, Richmond, Hayward) and I stayed with my family a lot in San Francisco.

2. Do you have any advice for up and coming illustrators/artists?
Yes. If you don't love  what you're doing, you're not going to last long. If this is something you want to do practice, have fun, and build community with other artists. You'll learn the most from your friends. Try to be unique by following your own interests, and always try to improve your skills. Learn the business of art making too. Track every dollar you earn or spend, budget, save, and invest your money. Study financial literacy and what it means to run your own business. Beyond making art, you're running a business. For example, I write this series called "freelance chronicles".

3. Can you visit my school or classroom?
Yes, I visit lots of schools every year. I read my picture books to kids, lead workshops, and I talk about my career path. In the past I visited tons of schools for free, but I now require an honorarium or charge an hourly rate. Depending on where the class is I may need to have my travel and lodging expenses met too. Email me what you have in mind.

4. My parents/guardian doesn't support me pursuing art. What do I do?
Your folks sometimes have your best interests at heart and want to see you succeed and be able to take care of yourself. I find most people do want their children to express themselves, but are worried about your ability to make a living. It's hard, but not impossible. It takes a lot of self motivation, organizational skills, time management, determination, and hustle to make it. And to be honest, everyone's definition of "making it" is different. I would suggest you get a day job, take classes, and/or attend an affordable school. Again, I would suggest you learn the business of making it both financially and artistically. I'd provide your parents with examples of creatives who make a living. To convince them you'll need to learn as much about that person as possible. But above all, don't give up.

5. How do I promote my work/Get noticed?
This one is going to sound simple. It is, but not easy. Make work, and show it to people. That can be through social media, it can be at conventions, or at your local market. Wherever there are people you identify with, show your work there. It doesn't matter if its good or great, what matters is showing it off consistently. Also, build community with other artists by supporting their work, showing yours, etc. Soon people will get the message that you are an artist and they will hire you or refer people to you. But they can't do that unless you are making work and sharing it.

6. How did you get your first job?
I started making work, my own projects, and collaborating with people. The self initiated work may not pay at first, but the more your skills , style, and work improves the more folks will take notice. Be modest in the beginning, and continually raise your prices as your experience deepens. Ask around for what others charge and check out books like the "Graphic Artists Guild Handbook" from your local library.

7. How do I become a freelance artist?
Polish your skills, and learn how to manage yourself and your projects. At a regular job you have a boss who gives you deadlines, projects, parameters, and a paycheck. When you freelance you are in charge of all that; not just making art. I would find a local freelance artist and ask to shadow them, apprentice, or ask them questions. But above all, you have to just begin. And keep at it. Get a day job if you have to, and do your freelance work on the side. It will take some time, but stick with it.

8. Is it better to work for a big company or work for myself?
Depends. If you are extremely self motivated and don't mind hustling and doing some of the other things I mentioned freelancing may be for you. But if you work better with a team you might want to work for a company. When you work for someone else you are an employee of theirs. When you work for yourself you are a business. I think it makes sense to do a bit of both to learn what works best for you. Some benefits to working for a company besides regular paychecks are health benefits. Some benefits of working freelance is saying "no" to clients who don't share your values. I'd say, try both.

9. How did you come up with your style?
I didn't really, it came naturally. Style is something that is unique to each person. I couldn't do what Mode 2 or Kara Walker does, and they probably wouldn't want to do what I do. It comes from who you are and how you see the world. Just by you doing a sculpture or painting, it is your style. You don't have to come up with it. It just is. However, if you want to have a dope style, you just need to practice your craft and experiment. Study what other people are doing. Incorporate some of their techniques. Don't copy exactly, but try it out and sooner or later you'll find that you are doing it your own way.

10. Will you do some art for me?
Possibly, if it resonates with me and you have a budget to work with. 

11. Will you illustrate my kids book?
Maybe, depends. I would have to read your manuscript, idea, or synopsis first. If I understand it and it is something that interests me then I would ask about a budget. If you are working with a larger company or publisher than I would refer you to my agent Marietta Zacker. If you would like to send me something please email me.

12. Do you have any advice for getting into kids books?
Yes I do, you can read this free blog post here and get this pdf where I give a bit more detail.

12. How can I work with you? 
Please refer to this blog post about the different ways you and I can work together. 

Thanks for reading, If you have any other questions please email me at

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