Reclaiming Norse Mythology from the Nazis by Ian Stuart Sharpe

It is one of the most iconic scenes in modern cinematic history:  Indiana Jones is in a desperate race against the Nazis, a lone hero battling against the entire German war machine to prevent an ancient artefact of immense power from falling into the wrong hands. Of...

Interview with Ian Stuart Sharpe, Author of The All Father Paradox!

Q: What made you write The All Father Paradox? Ian Stuart Sharpe: I think it was preordained. Not in a crazy way, you understand. You just learn to spot the signs, to realize that something is off-kilter. For example, in the year 793AD, according to the Anglo-Saxon...

Join the Outlanders!

ANNOUNCEMENTS Join Outland's Street Team, The Outlanders! Get sneak peeks at new releases, including fiction, games, and comics! Receive exclusive content, and be eligible to receive advance review copies of upcoming releases! If you like to help spread the word about...

THE ALL FATHER PARADOX Releases in October!

THE ALL FATHER PARADOX by Ian Stuart Sharpe Coming in October! What if an ancient god escaped his fate…and history was thrown to the wolves? Churchwarden Michaels thought it was just a run-of-the-mill crazy old man who stood in the graveyard, hellbent on studying the...

HATH NO FURY Has Hit the Shelves and E-Readers!

Mother. Warrior. Caregiver. Wife. Lover. Survivor. Trickster. Heroine. Leader.   This anthology features 21 stories and six essays about women who defy genre stereotypes. Here, it’s not the hero who acts while the heroine waits to be rescued; Hath No Fury’s women are...


ANNOUNCEMENT Official summary of ALL FATHER PARADOX along with color cover illustration! What if an ancient god escaped his fate…and history was thrown to the wolves? Churchwarden Michaels thought it was just a run-of-the-mill crazy old man who stood in the graveyard,...

Announcement: New Comic Coming from Outland Entertainment!

ANNOUNCEMENT: Announcing Riddle of the Loremaster, an all new original comic series written by Melanie R. Meadors, with art by Nicolás Giacondino! Here is a sneak peek at some of the promo art: Riddle of the Loremaster is a comic for mature readers set in a fantasy...

Women in Dark Fantasy Have Changed by Linda Robertson

In doing a bit of research looking for a dark-fantasy-related topic for this article, I sought something that I knew at least a bit about, something I felt strongly about, and something where I could add meaningfully to the conversation. Many things were considered,...

Alethea Kontis on Imposter Syndrome

Earlier this year, I met the only student Katy Kellgren ever had. He told me he just about had to bully her into being his teacher. This amazing, multiple award-winning voice actress with hundreds of audiobooks under her belt truly didn’t believe she knew anything...

Announcements: HATH NO FURY Has Arrived in the US!

Backers of the paperback and hardcover editions of Hath No Fury will be happy to learn that the books have arrived at the printer's headquarters in Chicago! Now, they just need to be sent to our head honcho Jeremy Mohler, and then they will be sent out to backers...

Lately I’ve heard a lot of people talking about how art school is a waste of money and time.

I am here to tell you it’s not.

Don’t get me wrong, there were things I found aggravating about art school, but odds are I wouldn’t be a successful freelance artist now if I hadn’t gone to college–one that fit my needs.

Art school taught me more than just technique. It also taught me work ethic. I could have learned technique on my own, but work ethic was difficult to wrap my head around when I was a teenager. Some artists are motivated enough to pick up a book, watch some courses online, and put in the work. Good for them! However, most of us need a little push, especially when we’re young. Art school can give you the structure and motivation you need to develop a work ethic. Your work ethic is all you have to lean on sometimes, especially if you end up being your own boss.

That’s why it art school is so important. Attending the right one is life changing.

When I graduated from high school, I had a vague idea of what I wanted to do. I knew it was something art related, but I didn’t have a plan. I thought it was a foregone conclusion that I’d attend a local university, at least up until the day I got a card in the mail advertising the Kansas City Art Institute.  It was eye opening since I hadn’t even realized that there were actual schools dedicated to art! (Don’t laugh. I grew up on a farm in Topeka.) Nobody had ever talked to me about art school, let alone told me there were options with different specialties. Needless to say, I went with the first option that presented itself: KCAI.

I was already into comics and illustration, and had I known enough to do a little research, I would have found out that KCAI wasn’t going to be a good fit. It’s a great school–I earned my BFA there–but I should have looked a little harder.

Choosing a school or an area of focus seems complex, but it all comes down to answering three simple questions:

What kind of artwork do I want to create?
Every school caters to a genre: animation, graphic design, comics, illustration, game art, gallery art, etc. Choose a school that specializes in your area of interest, if you can. You’ll be working with the all-stars in your field and getting targeted education to help you on your path.

Do I want to make art for clients or for myself?
If you want to make art for yourself, consider fine arts or and gallery art. If you want to get paid upfront for your work, consider a more commercial program such as illustration, graphic design, animation, or gaming.

Would I prefer to work for a company or for myself?
Graduating from a graphic design, animation, or gaming program positions you to get a job working for a company. If you want make money as a freelance artist, your best bets are programs in comics, illustration, and gallery art.

Don’t stress too much if your options are limited by family ties or financial concerns–or if you don’t get into your dream school. There’s a lot of crossover amongst the fields, and you can still get a great education. You’ll have to work a little harder at making your program serve your needs, though. For example, fine arts schools tend to focus on concept more than technique. If you’re a painting major, you’ll have to seek out every opportunity to learn technique. Enroll in illustration classes (or look for illustration programs) to get the foundation you need to become an excellent painter.

I wasn’t getting what I needed at KCAI, so I ended up at the Joe Kubert School of Cartoon and Grahphic Art for a few years. Although I returned to the Midwest and graduated from KCAI, I learned almost everything I use today in my time at JKS. (Just ask me about the “work ethic” portion of my studies; I never worked so hard in my life, nor have I since!) JKS was a perfect fit, and that made all the difference.

Here are the schools I’d recommend to aspiring comic artists and illustrators. If I had to do it over again, these are the ones I’d be applying to:

The School of Visual Arts, New York City, NY

Savannah School of Art and Design, Savannah, GA

Ringling College of Art + Design, Sarasota, FL

FZD School of Design, Singapore

Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, RI

That’s all, young padawans. Stay tuned for the next installment of Professional Practices.

Thank you for reading.