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Welcome to Pikaland!

Hi there! My name is Amy Ng, the mayor here at Pikaland and if you’ve ever asked yourself the following questions:

  1. How can I become an illustrator?
  2. How did other artists & illustrators become so good at what they do?
  3. How do I learn to be more creative, and to be able to generate more ideas for my work?
  4. How do I earn a living as a creative person in the modern era?

… you’re in the right place.


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Here’s how Pikaland can help open your eyes to new possibilities in furthering your creative career: 

I believe that illustration (and art) involves more than just terms like editorials, advertising and work-for-hire. To become an illustrator in this day and age, it means more than ever that you’ll need to become adept at telling your own personal story.

But how do you do this? How can you run against the herd that’s telling you that it’s always been done this way – and that there’s no changing how things are?

You start small. Let an idea grow, little by little, and surround yourself with like-minded people.

Join the Pikaland tribe by subscribing to our weekly newsletter – where you’ll get ideas and thoughtful strategies from other artists who are making a name for themselves, and musings from my own unique experience as well – direct to your inbox. Because I know how busy life can get, think of this as your personal weekly reminder to slow down, sit back and to think of the bigger picture, instead of just focusing on checking off your packed to-do list.

I’ll save you time: I won’t be touching on techniques or small tactics to create the perfect paint texture. What I explore is ideas: how you can deliver them through your own story and how to communicate your ideas better.

All because I have a knack for breaking down patterns that I see in successful illustrators and artists – and the ability to be able to read stories from images. My belief is this: it doesn’t matter if an illustration is great on technique – if it lacks in substance, it loses out to the one that isn’t technically strong but has a great story. I’ll break things down for you into practical tips that you can start to incorporate into your work right now.

About Amy

I founded Pikaland in 2008, and I’m now spreading my ideas as an adjunct lecturer in a local art and design college in Malaysia, speaking and sparking thoughts on creativity, illustration and entrepreneurship.

talkI started this blog when I was curious about the world of illustration. Prior to that, I had no idea that a field like this existed. Sure, I loved drawing, but beyond that I had absolutely no idea how to begin. I was stumbling around, collecting links and images from others who inspired me; and I began to look deeper into the thought processes of each artist as I went over their portfolio and online shop.

So I took notes, and learned with fresh eyes. I taught myself how to identify patterns and styles – aesthetically and conceptually. I was just someone who wanted to know about illustration so much, and how I could break into the field. I decided that I didn’t need a degree to love illustration. I just went ahead and soaked up whatever information I could find on the subject. Business. Process. Creativity. Networking. Techniques. Storytelling. I soaked up everything.

Five years on, I’ve taken on several illustration commissions, and was also appointed a creative director for a regional agency – I had a client list that included Tesco and Marie Claire magazine. After the experience, I felt that I was a much happier person when I organize things instead of being the one who wielded the brush, so I concentrated taking on a managing and teaching role instead, which suited me to a tee.

I teach others the way that I hope to be taught – and so a lot of my lessons are based on personal experience. A lot of it is how I approach problem solving via creative thinking – a skill that I feel is lacking today, because we’re too focused on everything else. We need to re-focus on the important bits.

Pikaland is a place where I experiment with my ideas, and where I can share the things I’ve learnt along the way.

If you’re interested to hear more from me, all you have to do is enter your email below and click “Subscribe”. No spam, ever.

3 harmful myths about self-promotion & why it’s time to do things differently

It’s been a week since I launched Work / Art / Play – an online class for artists and illustrators to help them find their footing in this big bad digital world; and the response has been amazing. I’ve gotten so many responses from artists and illustrators who took the time to send me an email, telling me how this has been what they’ve been looking for (and why the heck was I keeping it from them for so long!) So thank you readers – I’m touched beyond belief, and can’t wait to start!

One of the core messages in my upcoming class was that it’s time to do things differently. And that means it’s not just about up-ending the competition. It’s not about tweeting your fingers off every hour of everyday with news about that same new painting, or sending in that fourth application to an illustration annual. It’s more than that and I’m going to lay down 3 harmful myths about self-promotion and why it’s time you did things differently.

Myth #1: Social media is key to making sales, getting clients, etc!

No it’s not.

Tweeting about your offerings 24/7 into the wide open world is not going to cut it. You might trigger a response (if you’re lucky someone notable stumbles onto your tweet) but for the most part it’s like shouting into a barrel and hoping for a response. Social media is merely an amplifier for your marketing efforts and is a way to connect with others on an informal level; but it’s not the whole picture (unless it is, and if it is, then you’re in trouble).

Handy hint: Stop sending pitches through Twitter or Facebook – it’s unprofessional and lazy. Plus, it’s easily forgettable compared to an email.

Myth #2: Postcards: the more the better. I need a fancy logo and name card that people will remember before I promote myself.

This is a misguided effort at best, and a time-staller at worst. Sure, creating the best name card so that people will remember you is a noble effort – but ultimately people will remember the person, not a name on a card. Even if it was printed with gold leaf on a scratch-and-sniff card.

Handy hint: As long as your name card is legible and carries an example of your work or your message, it’s time to hustle!

Myth #3: Emails don’t cost a thing. I’m just going to send one to everyone I know with a blind carbon copy (Bcc).

Again. This is just lazy, and just like shooting fish in a barrel. Would you send out a mass cover letter and a generic resume in hopes of landing a job? If that’s what you’ve been doing (no, no, no) then it’s time you stopped and put a little more effort into putting yourself out there.

Handy hint: Use names if possible. Most of the time you can do a search and you’ll find the person you want to reach, and avoid the possibility of being binned.

The biggest takeaway from all this, is how artists and illustrators need to stop putting their hopes on others, and take concrete steps to claim responsibility for their actions. So many marketing strategies out there hinges on other people’s responses instead of how you can deliver your message and story better.

And how did I know all of this? Because I’ve been on the receiving end of the above strategies. Frankly, after 6 years and hundreds of emails, it’s getting a little ridiculous, to the point where it has become a personal pain point, rather than something to be tolerated. Things can be better. You can do better.

So if you think I’m going to be advocating that you send in more postcard mailings, or take a spread in that fifth illustration annual, or to put up your portfolio up on that illustration portfolio site – I’m not. These may work for some, but ultimately it leaves too much to chance. Remember, it’s not about out-doing your peers, it’s about doing things differently in order to succeed.

And this is just a small part of what I’ll be focusing on in Work / Art / Play. If you’ve been doing things the same way without much to show for it, do yourself a favor and check it out – it might just change the way you look at your work and your business. Enrollment ends on 8th September 2013, and class begins 16th September. 


Although I’ve laid out the points above, I know that there’s always an angle that I’m missing, an opinion that I’ve not heard. So I’m curious to hear from you – have you used the above strategies and has it worked for you? Tell me your findings in the comments below!

And if you haven’t signed up for the mailing list yet – do join in! You’ll get a weekly newsletter and special members-only updates with ideas, tips and advice on how to spread your wings no matter if you’re an artist or illustrator (or both!)

[Illustration by Susanne Low]

How about some finger painting?

Judith Ann Braun

The beauty in Judith Braun’s work is that she uses her fingers to paint beautifully. I thought her symmetrical pieces are the most beautiful, and hardest to create. I can only imagine the self-restraint she had – if it were me I’d get all giddy (and a bit mad with anticipation) at the thought of having a tub of charcoal powder and a clean white wall at my disposal.

Have a lovely weekend folks! 

[Images / discovered via 9gag]