Frequently asked questions about illustration services and illustrator Mayra Ruiz-McPherson

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

If you can’t find your question answered here, then please use my online contact form to ask me your question. I reply to all serious, non-spam inquiries within 2-3 business days (if not sooner).

ABOUT ME

What is your design background, not just as an illustrator but as a designer in general?

Professionally, I’ve always held a role or title that had me right in the mix of creative and design-related activity on behalf of a brand.

One of my first creative roles was that of web designer back when the web was just becoming mainstream for business and for marketing, which had been during the mid-to-late 90s. Back then, there weren’t really formal training or courses to learn web design as there pervasively are today. Most of us had to wing it by reading books and studying code. At the time I had gotten my first official web designer job, I was actually thrust into the role because my employer had learned I knew how to code HTML and CSS, and my peers had learned I liked to draw and paint murals outside of work LOL … I guess they figured if I was creative and could code, then I could be a web designer for the company (and for their clients) 🙂

How it all has changed since then!

Since those earlier, cowboy-like web design days, the field of interface design has since become very sophisticated. And so has commercial, advertising, and editorial design — facets of communications design that I’ve been been heavily involved with throughout my entire career. From designing brand identities to advertising campaigns and application interfaces and outdoor signage, I think I’ve pretty much have dabbled in many aspects of professional design throughout the past 20 years.

And its from this extensive and exciting foundation of design repertoire that I sought to build my illustration practice upon. Adding illustration to my design suite of services feels like a very natural extension of what I already do. I’m absolutely thrilled to be in a place in my career where I can delve into the illustration arena and seek opportunities to make a unique, illustrative mark in support of communications-related endeavors.

When did you first realize you were creatively inclined?

Answer: Since childhood.

You know, when you’re young and carefree, you don’t realize certain things are “things” until perhaps much later in life. I guess I started to realize I was creatively inclined in my early teenage years when I spent summer months designing the layouts for imaginary newspapers and magazines I had invented. I would print out countless of editions on a molasses-slow dot matrix printer and then eagerly distribute my “publications” to family and friends.

How oddly fantastic that my vivid childhood playtimes actually became reality (and the source of my livelihood) in adult life!

Not that I’ve published any magazines, but I have designed for magazines, newsletters, annual reports, marketing collateral, web and mobile apps, social media content, and so much more since those ancient desktop days on my dad’s clunky and old home-based computer 🙂

How did you get into the art of illustration, sketching, and doodling?

While I’ve always had a knack for drawing or doodling here and there, there are two driving forces that propelled my illustration path forward:

The first was a bit of a challenge I faced a few years ago with a designer I had hired to help me with a drawing project.

I had outsourced some drawing work to someone I thought would do a good job, based on their portfolio and the like. But each time this person delivered their work for my review, I found it was lacking or not as visually appealing as I had hoped or envisioned. It was then a dear friend suggested I work up the drawings myself, a suggestion I had initially never considered! Ultimately, I let the designer go and began working on the digital artwork myself. The positive outcome of this project improved my drawing confidence and inspired me to expand my illustration and drawing skills further.

The second push towards illustration was inspired when my 12-year old son and I decided to self publish a comic strip together based on imaginary characters he created.

Knowing how much it would cost to hire out for illustration and digital inking work, I opted to take a stab creating the illustration art myself — a personal project and task that continues to this very day.

Of course, in between these two specific experiences were other countless moments and epiphanies; each underscoring that the illustration journey was the right path for me to follow.

Where did you study and/or what is your educational background?

I’m presently pursuing an MFA in Illustration from the Academy of Arts University and it’s a (very) rigorous online program that I won’t complete until at some point over the next two years.

I am also concurrently in another full time graduate program pursuing my MA in Media Psychology with Fielding Graduate University. I’m excited to complete this degree next year!

Despite the hardship and intense challenges attending both programs full time can and does often bring, I’m enjoying all that I’m learning very much. Mostly, I’m just SUPER EXCITED to leverage all my collective education and graduate-level training as I embark on client projects that come my way!

ILLUSTRATION SERVICES

Do you draw caricatures?

No, I do not.

Unfortunately, caricature drawing is a highly specialized form of drawing I do not offer, practice or do. My drawing and doodling style tends to be more simplistic or casual in nature and does not even remotely resemble the art of caricature.

Do you work with individuals? I‘m not a company or agency. I’m not even a small business. I‘m just someone who has a project and I’d like to work with you.

Answer: Sometimes’ish.

While I prefer to work with professional and commercial organizations, there is the extremely rare and occasional project needed by an individual (non-business entity, aka human being) that may peak my interest. But more often than not, I tend to work with organizations and brands, not usually individuals.

For me to work with a person not affiliated with a company or organization (for example, you’d like to ask me to consider designing your wedding stationary), the person must demonstrate a solid understanding that the estimates to be provided for the project will not be “Fiverr” or “Craiglist” inspired. I do not offer coupons, barter for services, or basically design for free. Please keep in mind that, like you, I need to make a living and pay back student loans 🙂 These are realities I’m sure you can absolutely relate to.

Therefore, if you are NOT a company and you are NOT from an agency and you’d still like to enlist my illustration services after reading the above, then please be serious and remove the expectation that my time and work will or can be bargain basement. I’m not out to rip you or anyone off but I’m also not about to undersell my services, talent, or expertise. Thank you for your sincere understanding.

I want one (or some) of your illustrations in my upcoming ebook or book cover. Can I hire you for that?

Yes, you can.

But I’m selective about the projects I take on and as well as the people I choose to work with because I want to ensure a win-win and positive experience with good collaborative energy.

Assuming we do decide to work together, I will absolutely partner with you to bring your vision into illustration, drawing, or sketch form in line with your needs.

Can I hire you to illustrate my upcoming children’s book?

Yes, you can.

But before any actual hiring or commissioned work can begin, I have to first feel artistically confident that I can execute your vision. That is not always a given just because someone wants to hire me. If I feel I cannot align myself creatively to the project, I will say so. OR we may opt to do a creative exploration where you may hire me to share ideas, sketch out some concepts and so on. Then, at that point, you can leverage my ideas, creative strategy, and recommendations, and either create them out on your own or hire and work with someone else to execute.

At minimum, I’ll be happy to discuss your project with you and assess and propose how I may best add creative value to your children’s book publishing journey.

If I hire you, how many rounds of edits or revisions do you offer?

This is an important and great question, yet it’s one usually only your wallet can answer.

For smaller projects, I may include at least one round of reasonable revisions or light edits into the estimates.

Additional revisions may be possible depending on (a) scope of work (which includes timeframes, complexity of the edit request, etc.) and (b) your budget (usually, additional rounds of edits are, well, additional in so far as costs are concerned).

As part of the estimates and work project, creative consultations are included. Therefore, there is plenty of creative discussion with a client any commissioned work begins. As a result, the likelihood of multiple edits or revisions will or should be minimal.

Generally, I will approach the subject of additional revisions beyond the initial round on a case by case basis.

What thinking or factors go into how you price out your rates or estimates?

Answer: I leverage my 20+ years of hands-on experience working in the creative, digital media, advertising, and publishing field.

If you’re here AND you are wanting to work with me, please know I hand craft and/or oversee all my designs and artwork, from start to finish. I provide ideation, concepts, and creative strategy and I bring many years of creative, graphic, and publishing design experience to the table and to your project.

Another consideration to point out, one that is often overlooked or dismissed by those seeking cheap rates, is that I, like everyone else, has to make a living. Plus, I also have operational costs, taxes, computer/digital art expenses, and other needs to maintain and grow my illustration practice.

Given the above, almost-nothing-per-hour-rates are non-existent here. Nor does bartering for services. Please note that I’m not looking to attract or work with that kind of clientele.

Next, the project considerations are important factors as well. What level of expertise and tools will be needed to execute the project? What is the scope of illustration work being tasked? And is this a one-time project or an ongoing engagement?

All of the above goes into my pricing methodology for client projects.

Do you charge by the project OR by the hour?

Kind of both, but it depends on the project.

  • How simple is the doodling project request? Or not?
  • How much time and creative resources will be required or needed?
  • Then there’s also your budget to consider. My prices are my prices, sure, but can your budget and my rates work together? If yes, then how much so?

We will have to discuss your needs in considerable detail so that I may best assess a suitable and clear creative approach. This will ultimately result in my providing you with various pricing options for your consideration.

DRAWING CLASSES

Do you offer any illustration workshops or art classes?

At this time, no.

But I’ve been looking into perhaps offering some classes locally where I live (and/or within the Washington DC metro area, maybe’ish in the future). I’ve also been exploring some instructional, upcoming ebooks that offer ideas and tips, but these possibilities are long term goals and not immediately available.

Keep checking back from time to time to see if anything new has developed on this front as I would surely share that news and information here on my site.

If you are interested in workshops or classes, remote/virtual or local to the DC metro area, please use my online contact form to let me know about your interest. Learning there is interest or demand will help me determine how to best proceed on this front. Thank you! 

Do you teach kids to draw or doodle?

Well, I’m working on it.

In fact, please read my answer to the drawing-related question above this one because that response applies to this question, even though the inquiry is slated towards instruction for kids.  Currently, I’m working on various training and instruction angles so please be sure to check back from time to time for updates.

I’d also love to hear from you if you are interested in my drawing workshops for kids — no matter where your children are based.

Please use my online contact form to share your interest level. Learning there is interest or demand will help me determine how to best proceed on this front. Thank you!

PITCHES FOR CONTENT OR INTERVIEWS

Would you consider guest blogging, if asked?

That would mainly depend on these 3 factors:
(a) the blog (is it reputable, is it relevant, etc.)
(b) the word count and/or subject requirements
(c) the timeframes or deadlines involved

If these considerations are reasonable, comfortable and agreeable, then yes, I would consider guest blogging.

A single guest post here or there will be considered on a case by case basis.

However, if you are intending to pitch me with being a columnist (which requires more of a time and writing commitment), I’m not sure I can do that. I’ve been a columnist before a number of times for email newsletters, magazines, and blogs throughout my career and even with compensation and perks, it’s a real significant time commitment; one I would only consider with great care if the fit was truly right.

I‘m writing a book (or a blog post, news article, etc.) and I’d like to quote you or interview you. Can I?

Maybe 🙂

You can go ahead and do share with me what you’re writing about, and if I feel I can add value to your writing project with a comment or quote, then yeah, sure.