Mario Sánchez Nevado created and runs an independent design studio called Aégis that specializes in art direction and illustration. In the interview below, Mario shares his insights on specialization, selecting sales channels, acquiring clients, choosing worthwhile social platforms (he has experienced the most success with his Facebook page and DeviantART), determining rates and prices, and building a sustainable career as an independent artist.
Why did you decide to focus on CD cover art, editorial illustration, and art direction through your company Aégis? Does it help to narrow one's focus down to a particular type of work or client base?
I always wanted to work within the music industry. At first, I tried to focus my studio Aégis around my unique capabilities (apart from editorial illustration: advertising, web and graphic design, photo retouching, photography sessions, branding, etc.), but one day I decided just to focus on my favorite one.
After I streamlined my services, Aégis worked way better than before. Even though I knew how to do a lot of visually-creative things, most potential clients visiting my original site were probably confused about what my studio was really offering. When people are looking for something special, they don't go to the supermarket: they visit a specialized store.
How did you choose which online platforms to use as storefronts for print sales? What are the benefits of selling through DeviantART, Fine Art America, The Untapped Source, and Redbubble as opposed to selling through just one platform?
It is important to know who to trust to sell your pieces. You don't need to direct your prospective clients to just one place to buy prints. Let them choose.
That said, I would not encourage people to sell there stuff everywhere. Stick to a handful of reliable platforms. Also consider the location of potential storefronts, since certain customers can save a bit in shipping costs based on a selling platform's location. Low shipping costs can play a crucial role in someone's decision to buy (or not buy) your work.
Do sales of your prints online comprise a significant portion of your income, or is most of your living as an artist made through work you do for clients?
I usually get a monthly salary just from royalties in prints, which leaves me in a comfortable position when accepting commissions.
How do most of your clients find you and learn about your services?
Most of them contact me via the contact form on my website. How do they reach it? Some of them are referrals from old customers; others have mostly found me on social media websites like Facebook or DeviantART.
How do you determine what to charge for your work, commissions, prints, etc.?
I want my prints to be affordable for all audiences and that's why I don't sell any limited editions. Unlimited prints are easier to sell and if you think about it, plus they're free promotion for you because more people end up hanging your work in their houses, which leads to more word-of-mouth promotion.
About commissions: I have a base price for all clients, which is based on the value of my time and my monthly expenses. Final prices may be subject to change depending on print runs of my products, the complexity of the image requested, etc.
You're present across a wide range of sites and networks- from Behance and Flickr to Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and DeviantART. Which sites have been the most useful to you professionally?
What advice would you give to someone who is just now getting started in your line of work?
Stay true to what you think you're worth, and to avoid selling your work at a rate that is too low. I think the issue of underpricing one's work is the main problem with aspiring artists and creative individuals in general.