Ken Meyer Jr. is a seasoned artist whose creative journey spans decades. After honing his skills in various 9-5 art jobs, he took the plunge into full-time freelance work in 2002. His artistic roots trace back to childhood, where he began by copying comic book illustrations. This foundation evolved into contributions for Magic the Gathering, a game that significantly impacted his career. Operating his Storenvy shop since January 2018, Ken’s advice to emerging artists emphasizes finding a distinctive artistic niche and navigating the challenges of the industry. His remarkable journey is marked by a deep connection with fellow artists and fans who have been profoundly influenced by his work.
Name: Ken Meyer Jr.
City: Santa Ana, CA
Store Owner Since: 2002
Opened on Storenvy: Jan 2018
If you could have any superpower, what would it be?
Hmmm….if your general run of the Marvel mill power, probably invulnerability. If something not so average, the ability to eat anything and everything and still be in great shape!
What was the last concert you attended?
I think the last one was Elvis Costello (and Nick Lowe) at a nearby casino, where I met him (for the third time) to give him some artwork and talk a bit…awesome!
Are you surprised at the success of Magic the Gathering? What is your favorite Magic card and did you design it?
Oh hell yes…I had no clue when I did that art so long ago! I wish I could have seen into the future, I would have done sooo many things differently! As to the card, I usually say Stone Throwing Devils (now outlawed), because it is a fun combination of realism and goofiness.
What are the most challenging and rewarding parts of pursuing a creative industry?
Even with the internet (and maybe because of it), reaching people can be hard. The internet is the most vast ocean, and we are all, to some degree, little prawns swimming around in it. As with the previous question, the toughest thing is the time you have to spend getting to the level to be a professional. Also, knowing when you have NOT reached that level can be important. There are so many variables and facets to being a commercial creative person. It does feel good, of course, to know people like your work…and show it with their bank accounts!
Can you tell me more about your transition from working traditional 9-5 art jobs to becoming a full-time freelance artist? What actually prompted this change?
Wasn’t my choice! The last full time art job I had was at an online games division of Sony, working on Everquest… but, like most companies like that, they are pretty mercenary. They let me go (on my birthday, no less) for a bogus reason. The real reason, I suspect, was that they wanted more people with multiple skills, whereas I was hired mainly for drawing (and more exactly, texturing) ability. I went freelance out of necessity, and it took several years before it was really working out.
What is the most rewarding part of going freelance full time?
Not having to wear pants?
Do you have any advice for those who want to start pursuing a creative interest as a business?
Open a sandwich shop? Seriously, if someone has the art producing ability, the imagination, and the drive, it should be a no brainer. But, most people don’t know the time it takes to learn all you need to learn to produce art that satisfies both you and enough people to make a living at it. It is tough!
What are some overall things you have learned from selling your work that you think every artist should be aware of?
Figure out the niche you are best at occupying and really work it. Don’t be too put off if you are not immediately successful. Ask fellow professionals…it can never hurt to ask, and most artists I know are pretty giving people. Research those that are successful and don’t be shy about modeling yourself after them.
Can you recall a challenging situation you faced as an artist and how you managed to overcome it? What did you learn from that experience?
Boy, my whole life (like most artists) has been a challenge! Still is! There have been many times when, luckily, I had TOO MUCH work, and had to really put in the time to meet those deadlines. ALWAYS meet your deadlines! If you get in the habit of turning work in late, sending orders out late, people will say aloha. And I don’t mean hello! One specific recent challenge was doing a mural for a game store, featuring a battle royale between multiple game characters. And it was 15 x 5 feet, soooo much larger than my usual work. In addition to the actual physical strain of painting so big, because of the budget, I had to keep the level of detail to a comparative minimum. And I had to adjust to my surroundings, since I don’t have a huge studio. There will always be hurdles along the way.
Is there anything you have done as an independent business that really impacted your success?
To be honest, I think I am still waiting for that success (or at least, the level of success I would love to have). There are new problems to solve constantly, as well as new highs.
How did you find Storenvy? Can you tell me a little bit about your early experiences selling online?
Easy! A fellow artist friend had set up his store and I asked him about it, since I had been looking for something like it (my website had a too complicated process of setting up shopping cart ability). It took some practice to master even the simpler processes of the site, but it goes really smoothly now.
What is the hardest part of running your store?
I don’t know if it is that hard, but keeping up with orders can sometimes be difficult, since I travel a lot for my art. But I try to be very, very communicative with my customers, so they know of any problems, or delays.
What is the most thoughtful experience you have had as an artist?
For me, hearing people say things like “your art made me become an artist” is pretty humbling and gratifying, whether it is my comic book work or, usually, my Magic the Gathering art (done many years ago). I have many artists that I idolize myself, and meeting them (especially if they are familiar with my work) is an incredible high.
If you could spend the day with anyone real or fictional, who would it be?
One possibility would have been Frank Frazetta, during his real busy years (the 70s), watching him draw and paint, getting tips and, knowing him, probably throwing a baseball around (even though I have never been into baseball). Either that or a favorite musician like Kate Bush.
See more of Ken’s work
Art of Ken Meyer Jr. Storenvy Store