Shop Talk: Why sketch for FREE?

1457740_10203100792908345_1454005167_nBehind the table at a con-
One of the greatest things I have learned from doing shows is the importance of interaction. Especially with the kids. There is a reason I do FREE “Quick” (that’s the magic word) sketches. Not masterpieces, just sketches and that is because it allows me to take a moment and talk to people. Especially the kids. They are our future fans, our future creators and our future supporters. There is power in the quick sketch… it is a door way into the imagination of others and the ability to foster communication between creator and fan. I find that these moments are incredibly special.

People have said i should charge for my sketches or not do them at all because i take money opportunities away from other pros (yes, really), but i wont. I can’t, because it takes away from the moment, the opportunity to create an incredible connection. Every year i am given ideas from small and old that range from kittens to princess to ponies to zombie robots to dragons to hippos dressed as storm troopers. The sketch is very very simple, nothing more than a quick doodle, yet it is the smile that I enjoy. The eyes that light up, the laughter of joke, or the fact that a pro took a moment to create something special just for them.

That’s what it is all about. I do do commissions at shows, but they are secondary – the quick free sketch will always come first. Always. I have found that over the years, that sketch has made some wonderful friends, created some beautiful memories and have brought me to tears at times as I learn some of their stories.

I have watched more shy, timid little sweet kids come out their shells, when I ask them what they want me to draw, and then follow up with questions directed just to them. About what they like, what they want to do, and that they are important. I have seen it in adults as well. They stand a little taller with a smile a little broader as they leave the table with a little piece of paper that was their idea and that i just drew.

That is why i do it. It’s not about the sale or the money. That comes on it’s own. It’s about creating a connection, building a relationship and strengthening a bond that in many cases has lasted for 15 years.

If more pros understood the value of a quick 3×3 free sketch- and how it builds a nice connection with an audience, which builds up a fanbase, who are very willing to support the creator that takes a moment just for them.

Some people will not get, some people want to rush it, some people wont wait which means they miss the opportunity for the possibility of a little magic. To those that visit the table and ask…. you already know what the magic is all about.

So all those that have stopped and asked for a sketch (I have done about 20,000 in the last 15 years) I say thank you. Thank you for hanging out with me. For sharing a little bit of you and making me realize that there is much more to being an artist and sitting behind a table than i originally thought. To those that support my art thank you as well…. I know many of my supporters have come from the simple question of “hey would you like a Free sketch?”

There is a lot of power in those words.
Keep creating
trav

 

travis-hanson-adventure

2 Comments

Bryant Hewitt » 11 Apr 2014 » Reply

You sir have totally blown me away. I fell in love with your art style the first time I ever saw bean. It's very inspiring to me as a developing artist to see someone like yourself who still reads and connects with what inspires him such as reading Tolkien once a year. It's even more amazing to see how you place the value of connection with fans above monetary gain unlike so many other artists. Keep up the fantastic work while staying grounded and connected. I for one, am a great fan because of both your work and your commitment to those who support your work. Well done sir. You've definitely inspired me to reawaken my passion for art that I've lost track of over the last couple of years. Thank you for that.

Phill Layman » 4 Apr 2014 » Reply

Travis, that is what attracted me to your booth at the Albuquerque Comic Expo back in 2012. You had a sign about beating your record for free sketches from a previous Convention. My son still points to the sketch you did of him dressed as Harry Potter. Eagerly awaiting Tanner Jones!

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