Loish van Baarle (AKA Loish) is a well-known, freelance illustrator, animator and character designer based in the Netherlands. Despite her young age, she has moved so much in her life that we may call her the citizen of the world.
Having collaborated with the biggest brands, she worked on her name over the years and now she is one of the most popular and eagerly followed creators in the business.
In this interview, she is sharing with us some truths about her career path, first steps in the design industry, social media experiences and the importance of self-improvement as a freelance artist…
What were your first steps as an artist?
I’ve been drawing since I was very young, so I’d say those were my first steps! I was always passionate about drawing, since before I can remember. My parents put me in extracurricular art courses which helped a lot as well.
You’re a self-taught artist. How did you manage to learn how to draw by yourself?
When I was quite young, my art teacher taught me to draw from photo reference. So after I stopped doing extra art classes, this is how I continued to learn – to copy from what I saw around me. I drew from life, from photos, and did studies of other artists. When I discovered digital art, I just played around with the tools with my mouse. From the beginning, drawing digitally was just trial and error for me. I experimented with the different options and discovered my own way of working.
What do you think of learning from tutorials on YouTube?
I think that’s an amazing resource! I’m a big fan of the fact that so much information is available for free. You can tell by the incredible skills of young artists today that these resources are making a huge impact on the artist community.
Do you create them yourself?
I have some tutorials available on Gumroad and Cubebrush. I find them very difficult to make, but it’s worth it to be able to share some knowledge with aspiring artists who can’t attend my live demonstrations or workshops.
What influence on your art has the fact that you move a lot?
Because we moved around a lot, I was able to go to international schools with great art programs. I had a lot of teachers that really encouraged me, just by encouraging my art and being enthusiastic about what I did. I think this had the greatest impact on my art – if I hadn’t moved around, I might not have received the same encouragement.
Do you have any artistic inspirations?
I’m mainly inspired by Disney and Alfonse Mucha! I also really love the art of Eliza Ivanova and Andrew Hem at the moment.
How and where did you start promoting your art?
I started in 2003 when I started a DeviantArt account and was drawing on Oekaki boards. I also had a personal website, but it was through platforms like DeviantArt that I was able to start building a following.
When did it start bringing you benefits as an artist?
I’d say around the time that I was almost graduating art college, which was in 2008. By this time, I was getting a lot of job offers and interest in commissions. When I graduated in 2009, I was able to start working as a freelancer right away because of my exposure through DeviantArt.
What was your favorite commission you have ever worked on?
The project that I enjoyed working on the most was Horizon: Zero Dawn. I was really able to use my own style and ideas for the work I did on Aloy, the main character from this game.
How do you make use of social media? Do you think that it’s possible for an artist to earn using Instagram (or any other social media)?
I definitely think it is possible for artists to earn through social media! For me, I use social media as a kind of business card. Posting my work can gain the interest of potential clients, so I can continue to get new work and interesting projects. I also use it to sell my artbook and sometimes prints and merchandise, but this is a smaller portion of my income. There is a huge artist community on social media, who love to follow other artists and learn from them – so I think it’s a good idea for any artist to try and find their niche on social media.
What do you consider the most important to do and not to do while working from home?
I think it’s really important to have a separate space as your workspace. Even if it’s just a corner of your living room – just a spot that is only for art so that when you sit there, you know that it is time to work. For me, it helps to have music or a podcast on so that the background noise is relaxing. In general, I need my workspace to have a calming and soothing effect – then I am able to work optimally!
How difficult you think it is to succeed as a freelancer and be able to earn on your living by making art?
It’s pretty hard. I know there are a lot of artists who struggle with this. It also depends so much on whether your art is ‘trendy’ at the moment. But nowadays you can use internet and events like comic cons to make a living, so it’s definitely possible. But if artists struggle with making a living, it’s not always a reflection on their art.. sometimes it’s just a difficult field to work in.
How many hours do you draw every day?
It depends – lately I haven’t had any time to draw, but sometimes I draw 5-7 hours a day. I don’t think there is a rule for how much one should draw.
What are your favorite drawing tools?
Cintiq and Photoshop!
Do you think it can be ever too late to learn?
Definitely not! Learning is always possible. It can be hard to break out of a routine sometimes, but it is possible, for sure.
Which of your artworks do you like the most? 😉
Right now, my favorite one is this: https://www.artstation.com/artwork/WAmkE . I’m just happy with how it turned out, and with the flowing elements.
To sum up – can you name a few main steps artists need to make if they dream to live off their art?
Definitely take the time to learn how to negotiate, and how to promote yourself. You need to be a business person as well as an artist. Don’t buy into the myth that artists can’t be confident businesspeople! Try to network as much as you can, not just with potential clients but also with fellow artists and aspiring artists. Somewhere down the line, they might help you find an interesting job. Also, be willing to help others. And definitely look into events where you can meet other artists in your field – art fairs, comic cons, exhibitions, etc. You will learn so many things about what kind of business practices do well.
Hey, don’t forget to follow Loish around the web: