Thursday, February 28, 2013

Some Truth For Today

People discuss my art and pretend to understand as if it were necessary to understand, when it’s simply necessary to love.


Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Forays into Marketing

I've been researching into this a lot, because, well, I want to illustrate for a living.  There are some very interesting things out there to help the emerging illustrator promote themselves, but I am honestly confused by the massive amount of information available.  I wish there was one place you could go to get a step by step guide on "How To Be A Working Illustrator And Promote Yourself", but everyone seems to have their own opinion.  I'm at the point that I figure I'd better just jump in and see what works.

So I think I'll be making several of these "Forays into Marketing" posts to chronicle my personal experiences, 1. to look back on and reflect later, and 2. in the hopes that my journey might help some other people.  Because this isn't a working illustrator's blog, it's mine, and I'm nowhere near working full time as an illustrator.  Hopefully reading about me being honest with my struggles and making mistakes as I make them will help someone else.

I mentioned some books I have picked up in this post.  I've been trying to compile a list of publishers I can send postcards to, and it's been . . . interesting.  Some publishers don't post their addresses and some don't want to look at unsolicited work, etc, etc.  And then some of the contacts in the books I mentioned are  purely for writers, no clear instructions for illustrators.  Gah!

I have also looked at the past year's contest winners, like the Chesley Award and others to try and get recent art director information.  I've turned up a few that way.  Still, my list seems pitifully small.

Another idea that I am wrestling with is this idea that university put in my head that my promo pieces have to be "memorable" and "unique".  Part of me wonders if that isn't just trying to guild bad or mediocre art.  But if you have good art AND a memorable promo . . . Ugh.  I'll never get anywhere with all this.  Also, no illustrators that I've seen or tried to Google post pictures of their promo pieces.  At least the unique ones don't.  Which I can't blame them for - if you have a unique idea why put it on the net for a thousand other people and their moms to steal?

Also, I only have three new pieces for my portfolio, and they're kind of on a higher level than some of my old stuff.  So do I start sending things out now? Do I wait till I have 8 or 9 new pieces?  Which at the rate I'm going wont be till December.  Of course I'm asking these questions like there's a right or wrong answer . . .

So changing topics before I start questioning the meaning of the universe - here are some sites that I am considering using for printing my promotional pieces: - multiple card in one batch for the same price
Overnight Prints

And Mailing Materials:
ClearBags - what I use for packaging the prints I sell in my store
E-SupplyStore - what I use for mailing the prints I sell in my store

Now, I also have a large format printer that I can use to print out my own promo pieces, but I am considering the time/cost benefit of that.  It's obviously cheaper to make everything myself, but the time I'll have to put into it might make some of the above services more effective as far as time goes.

I remember different people saying in school that 50% or more of your time should be spent on promoting and marketing yourself (holy crows).  I'm not going to lie - I cringe whenever I remember that.  But we'll see how this goes.

In other news, I've recently made a change in my life to devote more time to art, which is where I am supposed to be.  I am nervous and questioning my sanity a little, but it was past time for a leap of faith.  Basically, I quit my job and am taking part time work so that I can focus more on my art.  I think I'm walking around with a permanent deer in headlights look on my face . . .

Also I am sick again.  That's 4 times since September.  The cells in my body are conspiring against me.  But they won't win . . .

Friday, February 22, 2013

An Artist You Should Know About

Illustration from The Dark Fiddler: the Life 
and Times of Nicolo Paganini by Aaron Frisch

Gary Kelley is an illustrator who has worked in all areas of illustration, editorial, books, advertising, etc.  You've probably seen his work if you've ever stepped into a Barnes & Noble; he's the one who did that great mural you see over the coffee shop area of all the authors.  He also teaches with the Illustration Academy.  I met him once when I was in school and he's a really cool guy.  Loves jazz.  As far as I can tell, he still lives in Iowa.  He works in oils and pastels.  And he's awesome.  There's a lot of his work on his website.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Some Truth For Today

He who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead; his eyes are closed. 

- Albert Einstein 

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Pitch Perfect Musical Swap Process

While the piece I did yesterday isn't really in line with the rest of my work, I proved to myself a few things that I thought I'd share with you.

I'd never seen Pitch Perfect before I got the sketch, actually hadn't even heard of it.  I didn't know who Fat Amy was, was completely clueless as to what horizontal running was referencing.  So I do what I usually do when I have no idea what something is: I call my younger sister.  And then I Googled it.  And once I figured out what I had been handed was more than a little intimidated.

I downloaded as many photos of Rebel Wilson as I could find and wondered all day what I was going to do.  That night I watched the movie with my friend Cathy and found some kind of affection for pieces of the story and the characters, and with that tenuous interest developed I stumbled on an idea and ran with it.

The biggest problem was that I didn't have any photos of Rebel Wilson in the pose that I needed - and even if I did, I'm not sure what would and would not be considered plagiarism in using a photo of someone as inspiration for a final painting.  I've also never done any kind of caricature (not that this was going to be one) or even tried to create a drawing of someone without good reference for what I was doing.  But I ended up finding two photos with the same-ish lighting that were kind of what I was looking for and I did a sketch or two to see if I could combine them into what I was looking for.

A week is not a long time to throw something together, so there was no time for second guessing.  It was close enough.  Combined with a photo I took of myself in the pose I wanted, I think I managed pretty well.  

I ended up doing the whole thing in watercolor and colored pencil - no acrylic under-layer   I missed that piece of it, I think, and I will keep doing the under-layer in acrylic.  I'm not quite sure what the difference was, just that I didn't feel that the watercolor was going down the same way.

So then I scanned it in and did some editing and created the background in Photoshop.  You can see the final piece here, along with the sketch I did for Sound of Music.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Ten Paces and Draw Swap: Musicals

Hi all!  This is the "big reveal" of the collaboration I told you about a couple of weeks ago.  Ten Paces and Draw is an online collaborative project for a community of illustrators and designers.  Every week they do a swap where sketches based on a common theme are swapped and finished by another artist (in a week).  I got a sketch from Irena Freitas from the movie Perfect Pitch which you can see above on the right next to my final image.  Oddly enough she ended up getting my sketch for Sound of Music and did a really beautiful final piece based off it which you can see below:

And, yeah.  That's it.  Told you it wasn't a huge deal.  You can see the rest of this week's swap here.

Friday, February 15, 2013

An Artist You Should Know About

Dan Dos Santos is a Cincinnati-based illustrator working mainly in oils.  He heads up the Muddy Colors blog and we love him for that - for other things, too (see above), but Muddy Colors is a big deal.  You can find more of his work here.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Some Truth For Today

One of my favorites.
Anybody can look at a pretty girl and see a pretty girl. An artist can look at a pretty girl and see the old woman she will become. A better artist can look at an old woman and see the pretty girl that she used to be. But a great artist—a master—and that is what Auguste Rodin was—can look at an old woman, portray her exactly as she is…and force the viewer to see the pretty girl she used to be…and more than that, he can make anyone with sensitivity see that this lovely young girl is still alive.

― Robert A. Heinlein

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Drive-by Post

Sorry, guys.  Not much more than a drive-by post today.  I am under strict instructions that I cannot show you what I am working on until it is revealed on the 18th.  So you're just gonna have to wait.

Still plugging along on . . . everything.

Remember to check back next week on the 18th to see what all the fuss is about (or don't, it's not that kind of a big deal).

Friday, February 8, 2013

An Artist You Should Know About

Sam Weber is a New York based illustrator working in watercolor and acrylic.  I love his work.  I know I say that a lot, but it's really true.  You can find more of his work here on his website.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Some Truth For Today

Everyone is born creative; everyone is given a box of crayons in kindergarten. Then when you hit puberty they take the crayons away and replace them with dry, uninspiring books on algebra, history, etc. Being suddenly hit years later with the ‘creative bug’ is just a wee voice telling you, ‘I’d like my crayons back, please.’

    - Hugh MacLeod

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Dragon Tamer: Still a WIP

I imagine sometimes that this stage of painting is not unlike being pregnant.  The vision of the final is so close to being real, but there's still so much time to put in before you see it.

Meanwhile you just feel fat and irritable.  Those of you out there who have been pregnant, let me know.

I did a study over a photo of the Dragon Tamer piece and it was . . . not a pretty sight.  So after aimlessly perusing the internet for "photo night scene" and "moonlit person", trying to remember the name of night paintings I'd seen or come across, and countless other queries, I hit the books.

Which is honestly what I should have done in the first place; I own a copy of "Color and Light" as well as "Imaginative Realism" by James Gurney, after all.  My obsession with books can get me into trouble sometimes; I have so many that I forget or get overwhelmed by too much information.

If I hadn't been so busy looking and reading I would have kicked myself - all the paintings, all the information was there.  At the very least I had a new direction to try and take the color studies.

And as you can see below, take them places I did.

Glowy dragon needs to not make a reappearance. 

Meanwhile I was also working on the final sketches for the Save the Dates.  Simple, I kept telling myself, beautiful color, strong shapes, concentrate on the feeling.

I can't help but think that simple really just means LOTS of work, but maybe I'm doing something wrong . . .

Last year when I went to Tennessee, I went to Cades Cove (possibly one of my favorite places on earth).  We got there before the gates opened and were able to drive through just as the sun was coming up over the mountains.  There was fog and fall trees and deer and it was amazingly beautiful. So when I started working on this piece, that morning is what I was thinking about.

The first one . . . wasn't awesome.  At the very least it didn't get me excited to start the piece.  It didn't recall any of the beauty, any of the feeling I was trying to capture.  There were things I liked, but overall it was just boring.  So I did another one.  It was better, but my struggles with Dragon Tamer have shaken my confidence, so I kept at it, trying to find something that really worked.

I looked up some morning fog, looked up paintings of fog (oh, hello Turner, hello Whistler), trying to just steep myself in the essence of what I was trying to create.

So I made, like, a million color comps.  And then just quit and broke out the watercolor paper and started doing it old school.  I didn't have much more success.

So here's where I am with Dragon Tamer:

Wait, aren't those color comps, you say? Why yes, yes they are . . .

Because this is where it is in real life.  Still.  I still can't seem to find the key.  I've been taking it into my room at night, hoping that by looking at it before I fall asleep, I'll be able to work out the problem in my sleep.

It hasn't worked.

And here's where I am with the Save the Dates:

Color comps everywhere!

Fog doesn't usually drift like this, I am discovering . . . 

I haven't done so many color comps since I was a sophomore in college.  Little Red Cap tricked me with how very easily the steam effect was created and I dived into the color comps here thinking "Fog is like steam, I got this!"


Fog is not like steam.  Especially fog that has light coming through it.  And I can't seem to make up my mind as to what this is going to look like - realistic?  Stylized?  And I'm worried about this nagging voice that's telling me to go make maquettes for the owls so I can light them (shut UP!) correctly.

Both of these were supposed to be DONE by now.  I have a schedule!  Save the Dates were supposed to be a mash up of watercolor-y effects goodness.  In-and-out, easy-peasy.

Freaking owls.  Freaking fog.  Freaking DRAGONS.  Do your worst, you won't win . . .

Working on something for Ten Paces and Draw: check back February 18th to see the final reveal.

Holy crows, I really am a masochist . . .

Friday, February 1, 2013

An Artist You Should Know About

Alex Alice is one of my heroes.  His interpretation of The Ring of the Nibelung (which can be found here) is perfect in every way - except that it has been TOO FREAKING SLOW BEING TRANSLATED INTO ENGLISH.  Aside from that it's beautiful and awesome and it makes me happy.  The rest of his work is fantastic, too.  He is a French artist.  His blog can be found here.