Category Archives: Pencil


Busy busy! I just got back from Rocket City Fur Meet, which went fairly well sales-wise. I have several commissions to do and a website to finish and I noticed I broke my blog pictures for the older posts. :/  I’ll try to get that fixed soon. In the meantime, have a cute squid!


Art Slump

Squid tree

Sketch commission, don’t ask by Meg Lyman

Art slumps. We all have them. We usually have reasons. But they’re rarely good enough to be anything but excuses.

I have been busy, so much so that I’m rarely at home. I’m keeping in shape at the gym and playing sports, and cultivating my social life by hanging out with friends. I don’t regret making the decision to go out instead of staying in and doing art, because I’m creating some great memories and spending time with people I love and enjoy. But I miss being productive, too.

Even though I’ve been busy, I could still slip in a little sketching here and there, but I haven’t much. I’m beginning to understand how I operate – make something a habit, and you’ll want to keep doing it. Stop doing it for a while, and all of a sudden it’s a habit to NOT do it. I need to work hard on making art as much of a habit as brushing my teeth or feeding my cat.

Free Art


Hippopoctopus by Meg Lyman

Free sketch commission

On several art gallery websites, you are given a statistic called “pageviews.” It’s an inaccurate counter of how many times your main gallery page has been viewed. It’s also tradition on these sites to offer free art (generally sketches) to people who can “screen-capture” a nice, round number on the pageview counter. Typical numbers include 1000, 10,000, 55,555, 100,000, etc. I decided to participate and offer a free sketch for the 5,000th pageview on FurAffinity.

I’m not doing it again.

Due to those aforementioned inaccuracies, four separate individuals captured 5000 on their screens. Being the kind-hearted, wanting-to-please-everyone person I am, I did free art for all four. It was fun – no outlandish requests, hippopoctopus included – and it ended up being great marketing. Plus, I know I have at least three more pageviews than that stupid counter says.

Zoo Life Drawing

Zoo sketches

Sometimes you can really get your sketch on. Other days, not so much. Warm-ups help, but even so, some days you’re just not feeling it.

Recently I’ve been frustrated with my lack of ability to imagine a certain perspective or viewpoint of something that exists only in my head. Practice makes perfect, but I’m fairly sure I’m never going to have a racquetball squid to draw from life. Still, drawing from life really helps hone your skills… and you can apply that to drawings of real or imaginary things.

So, to ease my frustration, I headed off to the zoo this morning to do more life drawing. I really didn’t have my sketch on today, but I made myself keep doing it. I didn’t improve much throughout the day, but the general practice really helps. I noticed it was easier for me to sketch today than it has been in the past. Go, me! Experience points!

The best part of being a zoo member in Atlanta is that you can get in half an hour before the general population. I was the first guest inside the zoo today and got some great one-on-one time with the animals who usually have crowds of screaming children blocking the view and idiot parents telling their children “look at the bobcat!” instead of reading the sign right in front of them that says Clouded Leopard.

OmegaCon Report

Lady and the Tramp Squid

Lady and the Tramp Squids by Meg Lyman

8×10″ graphite OmegaCon doodle; SOLD

OmegaCon was a first year fantasy/sci-fi convention in Birmingham. I had art in the art show and a table in the dealer’s room next to the Wandering Men. The dealer’s room was huge and fabulous and the turnout was phenomenal. The art show organization was abysmal, but it all worked out in the end.

I sold enough to cover my food and my half of a hotel room, which is more than I was expecting! Most of my sales were prints and originals. I took some older illustrations (~5 years old), because they were on-topic for a fantasy convention, and actually sold some of those old ones! It doesn’t hurt to try, especially if your prices are reasonable for older work (unless your old work is really horrible). I didn’t put any old art in the show – it was all in a binder at my table. I was pleased to see it sell but a bit hesitant putting old work out there, even if it was hiding in a binder.

What are your thoughts on selling older work?

Art and Taxes, Part 2

Happy Roo

Happy Roo by Meg Lyman

Happy March! This kangaroo is smiling because it is sunny and 70 degrees here, and I’m about to go play soccer. I love the south!

I want to answer some questions asked in my last post about taxes – but I need a disclaimer. I am no expert. I don’t know a Form 1120 from an abacus. Please do not take these tips as law. My best advice: talk to an accountant.

That said, here’s what I learned about hobbies this week:

  • As far as I can tell, there’s no maximum you can earn as a hobbyist before the IRS takes notice. You can offset your hobby gains with hobby losses. The catch: the losses (expenses) have to be at least 2% of your adjusted gross income before you can deduct them. So you have to spend a lot and make a lot on your hobby for that to work in your favor.
  • I’m not sure about years of consecutive loss, but a legitimate business (in the all-seeing eyes of the IRS) will show a profit in at least 3 of the last 5 years. There are exceptions to this (me, for example, since I’ve only been doing it officially for one year) – you have to pass a type of “legitimate business test,” witch factors in things like reasonable attempts to make profit, how much time you spend on it, and if you rely on it for your livelihood. Go here for some great advice.
  • Confused yet? I am. See above advice about an accountant.
  • How is it that smart, educated people have trouble figuring this stuff out? I think they make it hard on purpose. Makes me want Fair Tax even more.

You have now completely exhausted my knowledge of art and taxes. If you have any further advice, let us all know!

Art and Taxes

Friendly Octopus

Friendly Octopus by Meg Lyman

One of the biggest business questions I’ve pondered recently is: “Hobby or business?” The IRS lets you count art income (and loss) as part of your overall income, provided that you can prove it’s a legitimate business venture. But why do it? And when? Here’s what I’ve learned so far.

  • If you don’t make a lot from art, it’s counted as a hobby. You don’t necessarily have to claim your income, but you can’t deduct your expenses.
  • If your art income gets large enough, you’ll have to start paying taxes on it eventually. They’ll find you.
  • If it is your intent to grow your art business into a profitable endeavor, and perhaps make it your only source of income, it’s good to get the tax part started a year or two beforehand.
  • This is why: switching from an undocumented hobby to an official business when your business is still starting, struggling, and in the red means you can deduct your expenses from your day-job income, using a Schedule C.
  • Eventually you’ll make a net profit each year, at which point you’ll have to pay more taxes than you did with just the day job, and it’ll be beneficial to ditch the Schedule C and incorporate.
  • In order to accomplish all this, you’ll need several things. First, excellent records for at least the past year. Second, proof (if the IRS demands it) of intent to increase profit. Finally, a good accountant.

I have done those last three things and decided to make the switch for 2007. I started keeping detailed records in mid-2006, so I have all of 2007 documented. The records include sales, expenses, training, travel, and mileage. My “proof” of intent includes art show attendances and a shiny new business license. I got it earlier this month. It doesn’t do much of anything except make the business legitimate in the eyes of the IRS, but it only cost me $85.

I’m still really new at all this, but if anyone has questions, fire away!

How to Clean a Scanner

Bontebok sketch

Bontebok Sketch by Meg Lyman

So, does anyone know how to clean a scanner? Mine has been very good to me, but recently, the dirt on the glass has reached annoying levels. No longer do I have to use the Gimp to clean one or two dots; now they’re everywhere.

When I look at the surface, I notice two things. First, it’s foggy. The fogginess isn’t on the outside, but on the underside of the glass. I have no idea if it needs to be cleaned, or how to do it. It has slowly gotten worse throughout the scanner’s short life. Second, I see little dirty dots. They look green, presumably because of the way the scanner reflects light while it’s idle. But when I go to brush them off, I find that they’re sticky and need to be chiseled off with a fingernail, and mostly they smear all over.

When I scan, I see two undesirable things, both of which have gotten worse recently:

1. Grey areas on the edges. This admittedly may be a problem with the cover.

grey streaks

2. Spots in the scan, per the second complaint above.

I have a nice, soft monitor cleaning cloth that I use on the glass, but it won’t budge the sticky spots, and obviously has no effect on the fog. I keep the scanner covered so well that even cat hair never gets inside.

Does anyone have any words of advice? I paid a lot for this scanner, and I want to run it into the ground – many, many years from now.