Jake Parker is an incredibly talented and prolific artist. His art empire stretches across numerous projects and social media. In 2009 Parker started Inktober, a popular annual celebration of ink drawing during the month of October that spawns hundreds of thousands of images each year. His YouTube channel and online art lessons are also very popular. His newest book is called Little Bot and Sparrow (above). Last year he launched a Kickstarter campaign for a new project called Skyheart (below). Parker was profiled previously on The Krakens for his Fan Art. He lives and works in Utah.
You are involved in so many different projects, what does a typical day look like? This is something that I’ve worked on for years and years and years, and I’ve gone through periods of time where I’ve wasted a lot of time and I’ve been really ineffective with my hours in the day. That’s frustrated me to no end. I feel like it’s kind of…I don’t want to say a sin, but it’s a transgression to the time that you’re given to waste it and to not be productive with it. I’ve been trying really hard to not waste time and to spend every hour of my day on something productive. Something that’s going to get me closer to accomplishing my goals.
In order to make my days more effective here’s what I do. I usually start my day around 9:00 a.m. That’s my workday, I actually get up about 6:00 every day. For three hours I make breakfast, and help the kids, and clean the house, and just kind of get that part of my life squared away and help my wife get her day set up. I’ll spend the first 15-20 minutes either reading my scriptures or reading a book about my craft, whether it’s a book on illustration or a book on being creative or something like that. Those two things combined really get my mindset in a place where I’m trying to put my work towards something. Trying to put my work towards, really a higher elevation of ability and creativity, and trying to chip away at these goals that I’ve set for myself.
Once I’ve done that, I’ll sit down and make a To-Do list for the day. Spend about five minutes just prioritizing and figuring out what actually needs to happen and get done this day. That’s been good for me, to just keep track of what my day is actually spent doing. I can look at the end of the day and see that list that’s checked off and realize “Okay, I actually did accomplish something.” That To-Do list is key. Once that’s done then I get started. I usually spend my morning hours doing creative stuff and then my afternoon will be spent doing more administrative stuff. It’s really because I feel more creative in the mornings, in the afternoons I can get interruptions and things like that. When I’m being interrupted it’s easier to just be answering emails, and handling making PDFs of stuff to send to clients, and doing phone calls, and things like that. That’s typically how my day is divided up. I’ll try to devote, in a week I’ll say “Monday is to this project. Tuesday is for this project. Wednesday is back on my first project. Thursday, half day I’ll spend doing this, the last half of the day I’ll spend doing that.” I try to give a big chunk of time to whatever project I’m working on.
You are the most savvy, social media artist I know. What do you like or dislike about the new communication channels? I enjoy Instagram a lot because it’s very much based on visual communication. You can say a lot with pictures and I like that it’s contained in the phone and there’s not very much linking going on to other websites or to other things. It’s very pure, and it’s very…I guess I don’t want to say it’s very pure, it’s more pure than other because it’s all about creativity and “Look at this thing that I’ve seen, or this thing that I’m doing, or this thing that I’ve created.” It’s about sharing that instead of sharing links to other websites “Look at this and here’s what they’re talking about.” That’s what I oftentimes find is a problem with Facebook. I like Facebook in the fact that it’s great in having conversations with people. Twitter is really good for that as well, although I don’t have time to do as much conversation stuff on Twitter. Lately, probably my social media outlet of choice is YouTube. Just because I’m able to share so much of myself and my thoughts, and the community on there is very open minded and thoughtful. There’s lots of back and forth in the comments and stuff, and so I enjoy that. The thing I dislike is, again with Instagram, there’s a lot of people on there with short attention spans. That’s probably something that’s across the board with all of these things is the short attention spans. It’s really hard to grab people’s attention and to share stuff.
For two months straight I was talking about SkyHeart, which was my Kickstarter. For one month, all through Inktober, I did a drawing every day “Here’s this book I’m working on. This is my graphic novel. SkyHeart, SkyHeart, SkyHeart.” Every day. I was like “Man, I’m probably annoying these people always talking about SkyHeart, and then my little Kickstarter.” It was all “Go back to my Kickstarter. Go check out SkyHeart. Go check it out.” At the end of it, one of the last days of the Kickstarter, someone posted and said “Oh, what is this? You should make a book of this.” It made me realize, people aren’t on social media all the time, and when they are on it they’re whizzing through, looking at it, and you can’t expect that everything you do is going to be seen by everybody. I realized that to break through people’s short attention spans you really have to be…You either have to be super unique with what you’re doing, have some kind of imagery that just stops people in their tracks, or just count on your stuff not being seen by everybody all the time.