Oct 18

Author Interview: Joiaco

Tue, 10/18/2011 - 09:00 — julie

Living on the bottom of Africa, being fascinated and inspired by her dad’s signwriting, “freedom comes from self-discipline”, and creating a font that Apple put on the iPhone. This week we meet Joanne Taylor (Joiaco) from GraphicRiver.

If you’re an Envato marketplace author and would like to be interviewed for the blog, head over to this form. We’d love to hear from you.

Tell us a bit about yourself. Where are you from, what do you do for a living?

Right down on the bottom of Africa there is a little holiday town called Knysna, my home. I ended up here to give my kids a more natural lifestyle. Now I’m a granny, and have been making a living since the late 70s as a ‘jo-of-all-arts’ (after getting fired from my first job as a secretary). I did airbrush illustration in the old days, moving on to watercolor and oil painting.

I only started learning the skills of digital art last year when my son Ross died of spine cancer at 30, leaving me his iMac with Photoshop and Illustrator on it. He said I had ‘potential’, so I don’t want to disappoint him!

South Africa is not an easy place to make a living with art that is not ‘African’, and so i have learned to turn my creativity to just about every aspect of it, from handmade paper stationery and simple clay work to miniature watercolors and huge canvas murals.

Which marketplaces do you belong to? What types of files do you sell?

So far I have only submitted files to GraphicRiver in order to test my ability to produce anything worthwhile. I have masses to learn about the marketplace.

How did you get started? Have you had any formal training?

I have always loved letters and type. My dad was a signwriter when he wasn’t making boats and flying aeroplanes, and I remember being fascinated at his skill. So I bought a FontCreator program from HiLogic to see if i could make my own fonts. The housework didn’t get done for months as I was introduced to ‘vector drawing’!

Then I submitted some free fonts to 1001Fonts.com and got a great response. I even got an email from Apple to say that ‘Qarmic Sans’ had been chosen for their new iPhone at the time.

Later I made a great Romanian friend on Facebook, a GraphicRiver user who loves my art. They set up a blog for me, and urged me to start submitting my fonts for licensing, as well as to start illustrating digitally. Considering I have no formal training in anything, I have obviously got this far through passion, and annoying a lot of people.

Describe your home workspace.

I live and work (rather play) all in one space of about 100 square metres. Eating and sleeping fit in between the fun materials of paper, canvas, brushes, ostrich eggs, feathers, and bike. As the seasons change I have to move everything around for light.

I have an iMac next to my bed (chained to a bookcase because my laptop was already stolen!) and a few months ago I bought a Windows PC with huge screen, made up with the best hardware I could afford for graphics. And Photoshop, but no games, sound or anything else on it.

I love it because it processes so fast and is forgiving of all my blunders, unlike the iMac which tends to close down on me in Photoshop and Illustrator if I press the wrong keys. I have also just found GIMP on an old CD and installed it, and that adds to my knowledge of digital graphics generally.

Describe your creative process. What steps do you normally follow to create your files?

I have mountains of hand drawn lettering, sketches and lino printed artwork from years of working on t-shirt designs, so I am teaching myself by scanning in images and drawings over the lines (good Bezier practice) or by playing with filters in Photoshop (which is beginning to feel like cheating). Then I add colors.

I am so new to this game that I have not yet developed any specific process. I am still struggling to find tutorials about the differences between file formats, how to convert to other files, how to make and open EPS files… Hence my frustration with some submissions getting rejected on GraphicRiver.

What is your advice to other authors regarding how to create a successful portfolio?

Firstly, love what you do. To the point of addiction. Then what you produce will carry that vibration of joy and passion.

Secondly, discipline. That was always a dirty word for me. Like imprisonment. But over the years I have learned that if you want to achieve anything, you need to be responsible, and that requires organising – which is discipline.

Freedom comes from self-discipline.

What do you do to market your files?

Haha! Marketing has always been the hardest thing for me as an artist. You are selling something you have made and it’s much easier to sell something someone else has made. My Romanian friend is a godsend in that way – he has set me up with a blog, Twitter, and other things I can’t even pronounce.

What are your three favorite files, and why do you like them?

My first fonts to get into GraphicRiver would have to be my favorites because I know how much time and effort and frustration it took to make them. Especially since I knew no shortcuts at the time I made them, and didn’t know many of the features in the program that would have made it all so much quicker. So each letter ended up being drawn individually from scratch.

My third favorite is probably not allowed – it is a painting of mine that’s got loads of great feedback, and was also used as a book cover design in Amsterdam. I would like to one day convert it into a digital work, maybe if I get to 90 years old. :)

Apart from yourself, who is your favorite marketplace author, and why do you like them?

I can’t choose one – that would be like having to choose between hundreds of varieties of delicious cake! I am not qualified to judge design. All I know is that I marvel at the skill that I know has gone into all the GraphicRiver items.

What do you do in your spare time?

All my spare time (and some that is not spare) is spent at the computer, trying new things, reading tutorials, playing with new tools. Knysna is a very beautiful area for walking and cycling. I used to ice skate but now have roller blades. And I read a lot, listen to Jazz, especially African Jazz. And of course, my baby grandson and my cat take up a lot of fun time.

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