Two twin braids hang from the girl's head, tied neatly with oversized bows. Her translucent wings are aglow from the sunshine pouring on her right side. In her right hand, she holds a curved trident and wears a stern expression on her face, ready for a tussle. Within an hour or so, I created this concept art for a fairy warrior to improve my art skills for game design projects.
From a young age, I looked at the world from the lens of a dreamer. Flame-colored sunlight would dance through windows, and water would trickle below trees. I created scenes in my head until I found that a pen and paintbrush could do the same. It was then that my passion for art exploded. I wanted those pictures and worlds to have substance in reality.
This lure to create art captivates me to where time seems to stand still until the artwork is birthed out into the world. I’m almost always creating. My little sister often comes in and says, “There’s always something new in your room!” And she is right!
As an artist, I try to experiment with various mediums, ranging from mixed media to digital artwork--although I’m most comfortable with digital art. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic this past year, I have explored painting with acrylic and oil paints. I had a slow start, but all bets were off once I started to master mixing the paints! My favorite topics to depict in my work involve mental health and the re-imagining of things we humans love, such as connection and nature. In addition to canvases and boards, I’m now experimenting with painting furniture, clothing, and basically anything that can absorb my creativity.
Most people are familiar with the popular “starving-artist” narrative, and many parents will use it to steer their children out of the arts. To be perfectly honest, it’s why my parents encouraged me to combine my love for art with technology. It just happens that I love them equally, so it’s great for me. However, my experience has proved that my artistic and creative skills will always keep me from starving.
In 2018, I started working as a freelance artist, and my parents continue to encourage me to create, promote, and expand my business. I’m excited to expand upon my art skills in college and look forward to the opportunity to take entrepreneurship classes.
The work I get paid to do now includes drawing comics, video game assets, and illustrations. I’ve done jobs for people from former NBA players to colleagues, creating portraiture and game assets for them. In 2019, I was even hired to create illustrations for a children’s picture book and coloring book, entitled “Bear Learns to Share,” which is now being sold on Amazon and in Barnes & Noble. On the tech side of things, I got a job as a front and back-end web developer helping to create Mid America Baptist Seminary’s new website and recently contracted to design an app for the local Opera company. I feel so lucky that my artwork has had such high demand.
Teaching Art Classes
I not only sell my art, but I also get paid for preparing, planning, and teaching art classes. For the past two years, I have taught adults, teens, and elementary-aged children the fundamentals of art (like breaking down the shapes in any object) and honing in on the skills they wish to gain (character design, portraiture, and animals are popular choices).
I’ve also had the privilege of teaching basic animation skills, and it has been a privilege to see my students grow their skills and artistic talents. I imagine adding more students and expanding the business to incorporate on-demand video-based art instruction. This business strategy would allow me to maximize my time by teaching the class once, recording it, and then selling it on repeat in the future. These evergreen classes would be a great way to make money in perpetuity.
Art And Technology
Currently, I get hired for my art, but I also want to develop my side-hustle in technology-based speaking engagements. Although I haven’t received payments yet, I’ve had some fantastic opportunities to share my tech opportunities, like last year when I gave my first Tedx Talk about the need for diversity in the gaming industry.
I worked with TED-Ed and Games For Change on a TEDx Youth Talk about the need for diversity in the gaming industry. Though the world of game development has grown exponentially in recent years, the content and creators still have room for improvement. Out of 30 national finalists, I was one of five selected by the Ted-Ed Committee to give my talk at the Games for Change 2021 Festival.
In my talk, I stressed the importance of creating more inclusive games and reflective of their users. By sharing my own experiences and insights into the gaming community and industry, my goal was to encourage listeners and all lovers of games to get involved in making the industry better. Ted Talks are such a powerful tool of influence to affect those around the globe, and I was so honored to be entrusted with the opportunity.
Working with Tedx Youth Talks has opened many doors of opportunity. It led to the invitation to speak at the Youth 4 Youth Summit on two panels. The panels were entitled “Avatars, Emojis, and AI: The Need, Push, & Path to Creating an Inclusive Digital World” and “I See Me: Envisioning an Inclusive and Representative Digital World.”
As I gain notoriety and a reputation in the speaking world, I think it will be a natural way to make money. I haven’t thought about what I’ll charge, but school districts, conferences, businesses usually have significant budgets to finance speakers. Already I am invited to be a guest interviewee on blogs and podcasts. I believe sharing my story and perspective on these platforms is an inspiration specifically to young girls and youth from under-represented communities who aspire to have a technology-based career.
In the future, speaking will be a great way to add income streams and ensure the growth of my side-hustles.
About The Author
Jayda Murray is planning to attend North Carolina State University.