It's been a while since my first collaboration but nonetheless worth mentioning! My first collaboration was with a epic cinematic music composer called Mika Lumijarvi. Working with him, a passionate Finnish composer, i learnt many things. I consider myself lucky as he is a very relaxed person, he understands what it takes to be an artist. He understands it's a passion and that nothing comes overnight, meeting him early in my career was therefor really beneficial to me as i learnt alot in the process and really managed to push myself to the next level.

The digital age

It's wonderful how distance isn't really an issue anymore nowdays. As of now, i'm 34 years old and i remember having to call with a phone that was physically connected to the network. Having to have a notebook with you with phonenumbers, or simply try and memorize them. Sending letters to your sweetheart, writing them over and over again cause you made a mistake, or the color of your 12-color-pen-set didn't look as nice as you thought it would!

I went through the transition from analog to digital, i had my first phone when i was 15, my very first struggle to send an sms with the number-buttons was when i sent my, now late, grandfather a message that i had a phone and now could text him if i wanted to hop by. I even remember that it was on my way home from a long schoolday, i was cycling past purple colored heathlands with the late summer sun in my back, leaning with one leg on a wooden bench while i struggled with finding the right letters and fitting everything i wanted to say in the limited space you had back then to write. And my first experiënce with a computer was when i visited a friend of mine at an age of 11 i think. Her father was into coding so they had a PC. I was surprised and horrified at the same time to find out that my friend didn't have ANY interest in microsoft paint! Oh the horror! And that computer was just sitting there with that lovely program on it and i couldn't touch it as my friend much rather played dressup....

It's wonderful to think back of that now and at the same time realize how easy it is to have contact with anyone all over the world nowdays. Setting up my first collaboration was therefor an easy thing to do. I saw the request from a fellow artist (music) in the Evenant Design group with the request for a digital artist to make art for his music, sat back for a few minutes and simply contacted him with a facebook message. An hour later we decided to give it a go and before we knew it we were into a collaboration that would otherwise take weeks, if not months to accomplish!

Sending his music to me, music that wasn't available on the internet yet as it was still being developed, a few minutes and i could listen to it. Me giving feedback what feel the music gave and what kind of image popped up in my head. Receiving the thoughts and approval of Mika and being able to get started in a matter of hours, something i wouldn't have been able to imagine 25 years ago, or even 18 years ago for that matter, when i got my first 3,5 GB storage computer with windows '95 on it. That time where a download of a music track could take over 100 years to complete and the most amazing game you could play was something like pacman on a floppydisk.



The benefits of a succesful collaboration

Collaborating with someone can be a blessing or a nightmare. It's more or less the same as receiving a gig, or having a boss. You have someone that needs something from you. Sometimes this means this person knows exactly what he wants, sometimes they adjust their work to your art. But no matter the case, when you collaborate with other artists, be that musical artists, be that other illustrators or concept artists or you name it; Most of the time they understand that creating a piece take time, that it doesn't come out of thin air, and therefor, unlike with some non-creative people, it tends to be a pleasure to work on collaborations like that. There is a mutual understanding both ways, the blood and tears that when into a piece, the time, the research, the doing and redoing, and redoing, overcoming obstacles, not only technical ones but sometimes also emotional ones when you feel something is wrong but you have no way of pinpointing it, laying awake at night, knowing in only a couple of hours your buzzer will go and you have to get ready for your other job which you still have on the side, cause as you know, being an artist doesn't always equal having a stable income. But other artists understand that.
It's truly worth starting to collaborate early in your career.

  • You learn what people need of you.
  • You learn to communicate properly.
  • You learn to tackle problems or eventual hiccups early.
  • You learn to work with reference pieces the other party sent in.
  • You learn to work outside your comfort zone.
  • You get inspired by things another artist does.
  • You can widen your horizon and pick up on new idea's.
  • You learn to communicate what you want or need.
  • You learn to compromize where needed.
  • You learn to work with a timescedule.
  • And much more!

If you choose to freelance it gives you a true headstart. For freelancers there is no company that takes them in and teaches them all the in's and out's, a freelancer has to learn that on it's own, therefor likeminded people are a great way to start. Especially if you are not really that good at communicating, or maybe abit people-shy, which is often the case with artists, this truely is a gentle way in as the other party already understands what it takes to do the work you do. Everything else will solve itself after overtime.

Did you ever do a collaboration? And in which field? How did it go?

~Much love, Tess


I would like to say i woke up one day and decided hey, an art career is what it's gonna be! But no. Eventhough being an artist is all i could ever dream of nowdays, and the fact i couldn't think of any other outcome, this isn't really what i dreamt of, or even studied for when i was younger!

Fun fact: I been told many times when i was really young that i should make a career of my art. But guess what! I was young! It's not that i had other dreams or anything, i never really knew what i wanted to be or wanted to do, but it definitely wasn't the thing everyone told me to be! Despite me drawing all the time. So, i went to study SPW and specialized in mentally disabled care! Well, we all know that didn't work out, cause else we wouldn't be here, would we?

I spent a few years working in the mentally disabled care, decided it was not for me so started a study in animal care. I worked a few years in a pet shop and a luxury doggywalk and moved from a study at a school to a homestudy which suddenly disappeared while i was still working on it. Quite a pain cause now i was 21 and i still had no diploma! Leave alone what step to take next!

Jumping some jobs, thinking of what to do next, i ended up working in the restaurant of my parents, a restaurant that recently launched and i'm still working for to this day! I wouldn't be me though if i would just sit back and do nothing else. I always want to learn more, do more, do new things... In other words: I always want to improve myself and i did my best to do so, first by starting yet another education hosted by the same home study company (after all they were considered to be the best at that time). This time it was the study Graphic Design, yes! My first step to becoming a digital artist! But little did i know, at first, that the education was at least 10 years outdated. I started to notice that after a year or so when i came to the chapter about computers. I was surprised to read in 2014 about how windows '95 worked and what the idea was behind floppy disks! When i called the company for an explaination i was told they were aware of the problem and were working on it. A month later i was told i had to pay for my exams (which were still two years ahead in my study) as the education would end with that very exam and could not be continued. Suffice to say, that was the end of that education! I been spending over a year learning outdated things and again, ended up without a diploma.
You would think one would learn after the first education suddenly disappeared. I wish i had! I continued though. After alot of hassling i managed to get a big discount on the new education on graphic design, which was updated and worthwhile when it comes to the knowledge. But, we all know: Graphic Design is an oversaturated market, so landing a fulltime job was not an option.

I started doing traditional paintings and small jobs for local companies, friends, and the company of my parents. Menu's, commercials, folders, posters, websites, such things. Nothing big, often not even payed, but still getting myself a name. I really enjoyed the freedom of these kind of jobs. Ofcourse there were deadlines, and ofcourse i had my regular job, but being able to plan my own days or even weeks really appealed to me. This was also the time when drawing tablets became affordable. Being able to draw digitally had always been a dream of mine, eventhough i didn't consider making a career out of it. And just like that i bought my first digital drawing tablet. This was beginning 2017 and little i knew is that my art career started right there! My very first drawing was a scribbly uncalibrated landscape, the kind a child would make. But hey! It was my first time! I to this day regret not saving that project to share with everyone! But i anotherones for you right here:
These in fact were my second and third drawings, the heavy use of texture brushes, stamps, and screaming colors are the tell-tale signs for a beginner, enthousiasm hit me and i played around more and more, i had all these idea's in my head. Landscapes, creatures, wildlife and many more things. I wanted to draw them all! So i went on, i'm pretty sure i got myself some early records i don't plan to ever break again, like the amount of texture brushes i used in the one above, or the amount of layers i used in the one below (103 to be precise).

This was all before i decided to take on some courses, i started off with Hardy Fowler on Skillshare, man this was an eyeopener! I suddenly understood:

  • The mechanics of photoshop
  • The little amount of brushes you actually need
  • How to create different effects
  • Composition
  • Lighting
  • Not using too much layers (kuch)
  • And much more!

The endresult of a creature design i made with his guidance filled me with so much joy that i finally knew what i wanted to become. Not only someone with the most wonderful creatures in my head and the most beautiful landscapes to accompany them, i actually wanted to put them all on paper! Or well, on one's and zero's to be precise. One thing led to another and i found some tutorials of Walid Feghali on youtube, joined his facebookgroup and in 2018 followed his course 'Evenant Cinematic Design" which teached me even more in a short period of time, mostly about landscape art, but also about character design and more in-depth material design and before i knew it i started selling custom made digital animal portraits, recently followed by being asked to start teaching on skillshare. And i'm proud to say my first course succesfully launched in june this year! This course is about contrasts and textures and you draw your own animal portrait alongside my instructions. In the same timeframe i also started my own youtube-channel!

The journey goes on, i'm not there yet! But i know i will get there. Persistence is the key for anyone that wants to start a career in art. You don't need an expensive education but you do need to educate yourself. Constantly challenge yourself, get to know your audience and potential customers or employers, get to know the market and find your niche and never give up!

Have a lovely day!
- Tess