Victoria based cartoonist Robin Crossman shares his journey through the art world.

AIP: How would you describe your style of work and what is your preferred medium to work in? 

RC: I like to make people laugh. 

I spent quite a few years performing stand-up comedy and improv in Toronto before I began working as a cartoonist. I think a lot of my more recent ‘wordy artwork’ has grown out of some of those experiences.

I often create using a digital medium, but I also enjoy working with pencil/ink and pencil crayons. Nothing feels more natural to me than a freshly sharpened pencil on a clean sheet of paper. The digital world offers a robust toolkit, and its one that I very much enjoy working with, but everything I do begins with a pencil sketch.

AIP: What were you first steps toward selling your art and what type of setting was this in, a gallery, art & crafts show, market, on-line or elsewhere?

RC: I’ve tried selling my art a few different ways and have found the most successful route for me has been and continues to be at a market. Currently, I’m selling my work at the Bastion Square Market in Victoria BC.  This market provides me with an opportunity to connect with a wide variety of people from all walks of life. It’s incredibly hard work and the hours are long, but I think the rewards far outweigh the difficulties.

cartoon crow

Anatomy of a Crow by Robin Crossman

AIP: Why do you choose Art Ink to print your reproductions, and what products to you order from us?

RC: I had heard about Art Ink from other local artists. With trusted recommendations at the forefront of my mind, I placed an order for a small batch of 8×10 digital prints. From beginning to end, the entire process was handled quickly, professionally, and with beautiful results. Art Ink is a business run by artists, for artists. Scott, Dan, and Chloe have a passion for the work they do, and it shows. I could not be happier to have found them. 

AIP: If you could look back in time and meet yourself when you first started making an income as an artist; what would be the most valuable piece of advice you would give yourself?

RC: Stay true to yourself.

AIP: What are your favorite methods for marketing yourself as a self representing artist?

RC: Marketing has been tricky. In-person is by far my favourite way to market myself, but it’s not very practical. 

I’ve read quite a bit about the importance of having a blog, so I incorporated one of those into my website. I think an artists’ blog that talks about more than just their work can be an essential marketing tool. One that delves deeper into the artists’ story, as told by the artist is, in my opinion, the most effective and rewarding way to market yourself. Even if nobody reads mine, at least I’ve got a place to put myself out there 24-7 where I can tell my story. A blog can also be useful in other ways, of course. Its been instrumental in driving me forward on difficult days when I might need a little self-inspiration. Although my blog is new and in need of some attention, just having it up and running is often enough to keep my marketing wheels in motion. 

Social media is a part of every marketing discussion, and if it isn’t, it probably should be. I have a love/hate relationship with social media, like most people I suspect. I don’t bother with Twitter, and I have begrudgingly set up a Facebook page. I’m most active on Instagram, which, to me, feels like a natural place for a visual artist to market themselves.

AIP: Can you tell us an event or occasion which excited you the most, with regards to getting your art ‘out there’ for people to see?

RC: Years ago, I had a little exhibit of my work at the now-closed Buon Amici’s in Victoria BC. This exhibit was held back when I was drawing all of my characters in pencil crayon and ink, often isolated on a white background without words. The owner of the cafe liked my work and agreed to a month-long exhibit. I had never shown my drawings to anyone aside from my family and friends and had certainly never tried to sell them. You can imagine how surprised I was when the exhibit sold out almost immediately, and I had to replace everything. I was equally surprised by the unexpected opportunities that sprung from that first exhibit. This isn’t meant to sound like a brag; the experience of my first exhibit could have turned out so many ways, and not all of them good. I was fortunate that it turned out so well. The point is that until I had taken that first step and put myself ‘out there’ I wouldn’t have known one way or another. 

I think the most exciting thing about that whole experience was letting go of what I saw as control. Creating in public is very different from creating in private. Showing my work in public, far away from the safe confines of my drawing table left me exposed. It left me exposed to anything and everything. It took me a long time to realize that that’s all a part of the creating game, at least for me it is. These days I would equate the difference to being funny around the dinner table with family and friends versus being funny on a stage in front of hundreds of total strangers. Until I put myself ‘out there’ I had no idea how “creating” really felt.

AIP: Where can our followers and your patrons find your work, and keep up to date with your new creations?

Cartoon portrait of a man with beard

Facebook: @wordyart

AIP: Any other comments you would like to share?

RC: Thank you to Art Ink for allowing me an opportunity to share a bit of my story with other artists and clients. I wish everyone out there the very best of success.

AIP: Thank-you for taking part in our artists’ Q&A Robin and sharing your story. We love your playful cartoons, so full of character!!