Tuesday, August 31, 2010

State of the Union- Post 4

Yeah..."updated editor", right. Not really crazy about that feature. It made everything all wonky, so I freaked out for awhile trying to figure it out, & then went back to the old editor, started all over & voila!

List ten illustrators whose work you admire, or whose career you would like to emulate. Who are their clients? What sort of work do those clients look for? Provide images.

Cedric Rivrain - I like fashion art and I like his style. He’s a fashion illustrator, and some of the designers he’s worked with are John Galliano, Maison Michel, and Martine Sitbon.

Lauren Mills - I like the delicacy in most of her work. She’s very skilled with watercolor. She’s done children’s book illustrations, and portrait and sculpture commissions. She’s been published by Little, Brown Young Readers, and Dial.

Michael Whelan - Not a bad career…over 350 books & magazine covers, and some album covers. His eye for detail and his technical skill are amazing. His work has been published by DAW, Del Ray, & Ace books, almost all, Sci-Fi and Fantasy. He doesn’t even accept commercial commissions anymore, and he’d finally won so many awards, he started withdrawing his name from competitions.

Ingrid Sundberg - Her children’s work is bright and fun and a little quirky. She’s done work for books and magazines, including The Mountain Astrologer, Sage Woman, and Half Price Books.

Stephen Gammell - I love the loose and splattery children's book illustrations he’s done, particularly for Monster Mama…I bought it just for the illustrations. Some of the publishers he’s worked for are Knopf, HarperCollins, Atheneum/Richard Jackson Books, and Henry Holt and Co.

Tony DiTerlizzi- He did freelance work, and then began writing and illustrating children’s books. He’s worked mostly for Simon & Schuster, Children’s Pub.

Wayne Anderson - I really enjoy looking at his work. I'd buy those books. His work is featured in books, mostly children's books, on greeting cards, posters, magazines, and more. Some of the publishers he’s worked with are Jonathan Cape, Paper Tiger, David Bennett Books, Templar,, Walker Books, and Delpire.

Mary Engelbreit - Not a bad career: children’s books, greeting cards, and then you’ve got the plates, T-shirts and all that other stuff....she's obviously been successful in marketing her work. Her work has been published by Andrews McMeel Pub, Harper Collins.

Jerry Pinkney - Children’s books illustrator, illustrator of novels, and doer of commissions, he’s won too many awards to count. He’s done work for Knopf Doubleday, Macmillan, Dial-a division of Penguin Pub., and National Geographic, just to name a few.

B. Kliban - Cartoonist for Playboy, creator of cats ; his work was compiled in books, & even though he died in 1990, it’s still being reproduced on greeting cards, mugs and t-shirts, etc. Most of his books were published by Workman Pub.

Go to a bookstore with a large magazine section, like Barnes and Noble or Borders. Find at least 10 magazines you think you could work for. Consider both the content of the magazine and the type of illustration, if any, that they use. Record the names of the art director and any assistant art directors listed, and their contact information.
I love magazines, but I'm afraid printed ones may soon become extinct. Everybody's got an online version, or they're scrambling to create one. Some previously impressive magazines, like Smithsonian, are now just shells of what they used to be....it's sad. Especially since illustrations just don't have the same impact for me if they're not on a printed page. I think if I'm going to think about submitting work to magazines, I might like to find small, financially solvent magazines that can still afford to pay, but that might be easier to get my work into. That will take more research, so in the meantime:

Cricket Magazine Publishing (14 children's magazines)
Highlights for Children
Brain, Child

Modern Dog
Fantasy and Science Fiction
Realms of Fantasy


If you were starting your own magazine and your livelihood depended on it selling well and your sanity depended on it being something you wanted to spend all your time on, what would it be? What sorts of writers and artists would you hire? What subject matter would it deal with? How would you want it to look?
If my livelihood depended on it, it would have to be a magazine that could tap into an unoccupied market niche. So maybe something for women over 50... there aren't a lot of those around...magazines for that specific age group, I mean...there are plenty of women over 50....and they generally have disposable income. I'd want the magazine to steer away from the "women's magazine" or AARP vibes that everything else for that demographic seems to have. I wouldn't want it to feel old, or present that age group as marginalized, or isolated from anything and everything current and relevant to people younger than them. I'd hire starving-type artists and writers, but good ones....try to find new talent, but not necessarily young; it would be ok, maybe even a plus, if they were over 50 as well.

The subject matter would include the issues that women from that particular age-group face...like the fear a lot of grannies have of the Internet, maybe, or how they feel about single men over 50 being given a free pass to go out with younger women, while women over 50 are ridiculed or vilified if they choose to date younger men. But I wouldn't want it to be a whine fest, nor would I want it to fall into the self-help vein. I'd want it to be entertaining, so I'd make specific interests they have, including, or maybe especially, art, a large part of the content. Serious art, though...not scrapbooking and stuff...not that I have anything against scrapbooking, mind you.
And since I'm really interested in science, I'd want to include fun, science-y factoids in there somewhere---I like the way Mental Floss presents their information. I'd want the magazine to be smart...but not too dumbed-down or too intellectual to be off-putting to anyone who might think about buying it. What I wouldn't want it to look like, would be old, or stale, or stiff or cheesy, or unoriginal, or cheap; I'd want it to include a lot of photographs and original art.

List ten non-magazine clients that you would like to work with. Why are these dream clients? Find and record their contact information.
Book Publishers - I've seen some really crappy-looking paperback covers, and have often thought: surely, I can do better. Many of the large houses have quite a few children's book publishers under their umbrellas, and children's books really interest me:

Haffner Press
MacMillan (includes St. Martin's & Tor)
Penguin (includes several children's publishers, Dial Books for Young Readers, Ace, & Daw)
Random House (includes Bantam, Dell, Golden, The Dial Press, Ballentine, & Del Ray Books)
Simon & Schuster (includes Gallery Books)
Hatchette Book Group (includes Little, Brown & Co.)
Andrews McMeel

Greeting Card Companies: Greeting cards are small, they have few words, I'm not sayin' it's easy, but I figure I can do that:

Recycled Paper Greetings
Designer Greetings
Oatmeal Studios
P.S. Greetings

Monday, August 30, 2010

State of the Union-Post 3

Describe your typical creative process, from getting an assignment to finished piece.
It’s not unusual for me to become confused about what I’m doing from the get-go, so I always spend time at first just trying to make sure I’ve got all the assignment details right. Fairly often, I’ve gotten some part of the instructions wrong (though even when I don't, I usually think I do). I’ve found that I get things accomplished more quickly, if I’m away from, well…everything…I do better in a solitary confinement sort of situation, because I’m very easily distracted.

I write a lot after I get an assignment…it seems to make sense to take the ideas from my head and put them into words, before I begin to draw. After I finally come up with some ideas that seem workable, I might do a little research first, maybe look at a few reference images, and probably do some reading. Then, I agonize through stick figure thumbnails for composition. (If I get much more elaborate with my thumbnails than stick figures, I get bogged down, trying to perfect them.) Sometimes I have to stop and write some more. When the thumbnails are done, I’ll eventually be able to choose a few that I like, but decisions are difficult for me. I usually try to pick at least 3-5 that I like, maybe see if I can make them better, and then eventually try to pare the selection down to one, if that’s what I need.

My process for the portraits I do outside of school doesn't include thumbnails. I usually take photographs at a client's location, then, most of the time, I put them on the computer and collage dog parts and a client-approved background together in Photoshop, to create a composition that the client likes. I then use the collage as my drawing reference for everything.

Once I’ve decided on the direction I’m going to take, composition-wise, I either make a larger, more finished sketchbook drawing, or I move directly to full-size graphite drawing on tracing paper, using reference material. If I’m really confident in the composition of the thumbnail(s), and am afraid I can’t correctly size it/them up manually, I’ll enlarge it/them via the computer to the drawing size. It seems to help a lot to have a full-size composition reference.

I usually do massive amounts of reference research. I often have a lot of trouble drawing out of my head, so I try to make sure I have as many specific photo references as possible. It's possible that I overdo it on the reference material. A few times, I’ve collaged my reference photos into the correct composition in Photoshop and used that to draw from, because I also have a hard time putting the different reference elements of a drawing together properly in my head and then transferring them to paper. A collage takes a little time (though I’ve noticed I’ve gotten faster); it adds a step or two, to the process, but it seems to work for me, because when I’ve tried this, the finished drawing always seems to be better.

Once the tracing paper drawing seems right, I transfer it to the working surface for my final piece. I’m still trying to find an easier way to do that at home. Sometimes I rig up a sort of rickety replica of a light table, but if my painting/drawing surface is too thick for that to be of any use, I either use graphite transfer paper, or I trace over the back of the tracing paper drawing, & then transfer it onto my painting surface. I’m not a huge fan of graphite paper, because the lines sometimes bleed through paint.

If I’m painting, I try to mix my colors first. I just realized it’s been so long since I’ve painted that I’ve forgotten what I usually do next. Paint, obviously, but how? I think I try to get the mid-tones down, leaving highlights if I remember to (adding ‘em back in if I don’t), and then I darken the shadows. This is usually where I manage not to go far enough with the values, or maybe this is when I usually run out of time.

My biggest problem is probably that I get bogged down with very small details when painting or drawing. I can spend an inordinate amount of time trying to fix or figure out, one tiny thing. On the previously posted Invisible Cities piece, I think I worked on one tiny cart and itty-bitty person for days, because I had such a terrible time getting the perspective right.

Describe what you think your creative process should be like.
I’m not sure there are any huge problems with the process I have, since I’m fairly sure I’m essentially following the process we’ve used in class (with a change or two to try to compensate for a couple of specific problems that I have); it just seems to take me forever. I'm open to any helpful feedback. I hate thumbnails, but that’s obviously something I just need to get over---I’d like to come up with a magic number of thumbnails that would be enough to generate good, strong ideas, but not so many that it feels like torture. It’d be great for my process to be easier and quicker, but I think that probably only comes with practice, and maybe a better-working brain. I’m reasonably sure that some of my problems are due to the brain-wonkiness I experience, that I don’t have much control over. I try to work around that dysfunction, but the severity and effects change, and I’m not always successful.

Research and describe a professional creator's creative process.
Here's James Turner's take on the creative process.

And then there's Nate Williams' creative process. I ran across it and thought that at least parts of what he had to say were very relevant to what I'm trying to do.

He gets the specifics of a job from a client, and then (sometimes) pulls his inspiration from the environment around him. If this is his aim, he does his preliminary sketches somewhere away from home, on an aimless bus ride, on a park bench, taking a walk. He says that this kind of activity fires up his creative spark.

He also uses words. He tries to think of 2-4 words that relate to what he’s trying to create. Then, for each of those words, he thinks of other things…either words or images…associated with them, making columns of words/images under each of the original words. He then rearranges the words, one word from column A, one from column B, one from column C, etc., to create ideas. (An example of this part of the process is here. He gives an additional link for helping with the idea process, here.)

Next he creates rough pencil sketches to use when he talks to his client about his ideas. He takes digital photos of the sketches, because he says that’s quicker than scanning and the quality at this stage, isn’t important. Then the concept sketches go to the client, he gets phone or email feedback from the client, and revises the concept until he has something the client is happy with.

His next step is to begin creating the work. He says he likes “organic textures and loose free-flowing lines.” He uses a lot of different media, from acrylics to watercolors, to Sharpies to India ink, and more. He says that he’s trying to “create a library of modular pieces” that can be put into his computer and then changed and used repeatedly. He says this allows him to change things easily and turn his work around quickly. He frequently re-uses bits from other work, and says this helps speed up the creation of new compositions. He then modifies the work, and tailors it to meet the needs of the current illustration.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

State of the Union Post 2

Of the artwork you have done, what is your personal favorite piece?
There are two.
#1 This one, that I did for the Invisible Cities assignment:

#2 And this one, that I did with the little monster fella:

Why do you like it?
#1 There are problems, including the values, with the original...the scan came out darker and off-color...but I like the composition, and the choices I made for the details of clothing, hair & shoes. I also like it, because it looks like there's a story there.

#2 I like this one, because I rocked the litho-crayons, and did some not-too-bad drawing on this one. I've not been able to reproduce that kind of success with the crayons, since. I like the composition, I'm pretty happy with the other technical aspects of it, and I think my interpretation of the idea is good.

What piece do other people like most?
There have been a few different pieces in different classes. The Pretty Hate Dress in Surface Design, a couple of landscapes in my watercolor class; the painting class liked Susan:

But probably the piece that I've received the most positive feedback on overall, inside and outside of class, was my Hannibal Lect-Hare t-shirt design for Illustration:

Do you agree?
The pieces I've done over the years that've received more-positive-than-usual-feedback have almost always been those that I've been reasonably happy with, the ones that feel at least mostly finished, and that don't have too many mistakes to fix...so the answer's yes; I can't recall ever having done a piece that I've disliked, that other people really liked.

Why do you think they like it?
What's not to like about a homicidal, cannibalistic bunny? Maybe people liked it because the style makes it look very clean, it looks finished, the colors work well together, the workmanship is good, or maybe they liked it because it was an idea that more people could relate to, for a change. Once in a while, I think I surprise people.

What piece surprised you the most?
The 100 demons scroll piece. It was a difficult assignment for me, but it turned out to be a good exercise that helped me see how a lot of sketches can help with the idea process, if you don't lose your mind first. I ended up surprising myself with some of what I produced. A lot of it was lame, but there were a few characters in there that weren't too bad. This is the one that got the most positive feedback, even from people who'd never commented on my work, before...which is funny, because this little guy is me:

And here are some others:

Five doodles or sketches that you like as much as any of your finished pieces.
I don't doodle...which is probably against the artist's and Illustrator's code, or something. I usually always like my final preliminary drawing better than my finished piece...the drawings are done in a dry medium though, & the finished pieces are almost always done in a wet one, and I just never seem to get the final one quite finished, especially where the values are concerned.

This was a less-than-an-hour, in-class drawing of Cody, which miraculously actually sort of looks like him, and probably has more life in it than the final Sinbad piece.

This was some sketchbook work that was done fairly quickly with no preliminary drawing or planning.

This one's from the same sketchbook assignment, & I did as much sketching with the paintbrush as I did with the pencil, which is unusual.

One of the sketchbook sketches from The Peabody. They were originally just supposed to be sketches for ideas, but several turned out well enough to be stand alone work, I think.

Another sketch from the same bunch from The Peabody. I don't think anyone else who looked at it, liked it as much as I did.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

State of the Union-Post 1

Ok...so...I've been away for a year, and now I'm beginning Illustration 5. This is the first in a series of posts to allow me to reflect on the work I've done both in and out of Illustration class.

What media do you like working in? List them.

My favorite personal medium is photography, I guess, if it counts, but I haven't made much use of it in my class work, except for drawing reference. I've used photography for years as an extension of my eyes and memory,

to capture and hold moments in time that I'm afraid might not come up again, I guess.

I love working with Adobe Photoshop,
I gave Frida a new dress...

and have developed an appreciation for (though not as much skill as I'd like to have with) Adobe Illustrator, as well. I enjoy working with dry, hard pastels; maybe it's the control freak in me, or maybe it's just that I like getting my hands dirty---having a very tactile experience with the medium. I suppose graphite and charcoal fall into that sort of smeary, get-dirty category, too, but I'm allergic to charcoal, so that takes some of the fun out of working with it. I also like to paint...with acrylics more than watercolors...but I enjoy them both, even if my results aren't as consistent as I want them to be.

What media do you hate working in? Why?
Hate's a strong word...I'm not sure I actually hate anything, and I feel reasonably confident that if I used anything often enough, I'd probably feel more comfortable about working with it. Since I've never worked successfully in colored pencils though, I guess I'm not crazy about them, and I feel the same way about oil pastels for the same reason. I think I also tend to avoid media that are less forgiving---hard to correct where errors are concerned, and easy to make mistakes with; litho-crayon was like that, cut paper, paper craft, and ink, too, even though I really, really like the way they all look when I'm able to use them properly, I definitely dread working with them.

What media would you like to try, but haven't?
I've never done anything in oils, and I've been told I'd like them, because they dry so slowly, and I'm a slow painter. I've always thought I'd enjoy working in clay and wood.

List three non-illustration classes that have influenced you and/or your work, positively. Explain.
2D, where I leaned how to properly use an X-acto knife (despite my irrational fear of sharp objects), and about careful craftsmanship.

Life Drawing & Drawing Comp., because they gave me new skills and gave me more confidence in the skills I already had.

Classes involving digital media, because they gave me new skills and more confidence in the skills I already had.

How has the work of your peers influenced you and your work?
I think many of my peers must've begun making art in the womb.

They amaze me. The sheer numbers of incredible ideas they have, astound me. Their work generally makes me feel as though my own imagination and work are extremely limited, but at the same time, their ideas and what they produce inspire me tremendously. Their efforts make me want to be better and more innovative with my ideas and in my work.

What sort of subject matter do you like to create work about?
I don't have a lot of experience with anything much but what I've done at MCA. In class, I guess I've enjoyed creating pieces that were tied to stories, more than those based on more abstract concepts.

This is some work that I did in Surface Design that I felt strongly about, that had to do with the subject of intolerance. The idea that art can be used to protest the wrongs in the world appeals to me, though I'm not much of an activist.

Pretty Hate Dress

Work that explores my personal experiences interests me, too. This piece was part of a Design Systems assignment.

The only work I've done that seems to allow me complete freedom with my subject matter is photography (it's easy, so I can do it for fun), and those subjects are almost exclusively front and back yard flora and fauna.

I enjoy my pet commissions more than schoolwork, but I don't know if that's because I like using pastels, or because I set my own deadlines and I'm not usually rushed. It's definitely not because I'm partial to dogs, because I like them, but I'm actually more of a cat person.

(this is Anastasia, my favorite part is the chair)

I like the idea of creating work...drawing or painting...that involves clothing, especially vintage clothing, and I collect images all the time, but have never gone anywhere with the idea.

image source

I've long considered doing illustrations for children's books, but so far, I've not done anything with that idea, either. Illustrating my own writing is something I'd really like to do.

What sort of subject matter do you like to read about?
The books I read are almost always strictly for entertainment...speculative fiction or regular fiction...usually nothing that requires a huge amount of deep thinking. http://www.terrypratchettbooks.com/

Specific real world subjects that I read about most often are:
space exploration,
quantum mechanics (as much as I can understand, anyway),
string theory,
anything out of the ordinary,
or unusual,
and cooking.

What kind of music do you like? Why?
I'm mostly a song person, rather than a band person or a specific type of music person. Much of the time, it depends on how the song sounds...what emotions the music evokes, not necessarily what the words say. I'm usually one of those people who thinks that life should come with a soundtrack, though when I'm feeling bad, physically, I often can't stand to listen to anything, because it seems to overload my wonky brain.

My musical tastes are varied, though to the shock and dismay of many people I know, I'm not a fan of most jazz or blues. What I listen to depends on what I'm doing, how I'm feeling, physically, and/or what mood I'm in. Sometimes I have to have classical for homework, sometimes it has to be 80's hair bands, sometimes New Age-y stuff. If I'm having problems with homework, loud and angry is good, if things are going well, something quiet is great; if it's early on in the creation process, loud is best, when I'm close to finished with whatever I'm working on, quieter is nice. If I'm cleaning house, or doing something really physical, I definitely need some kind of rock or metal.

Slash image source

My regular song list includes:

Black Eyed Peas, Rasputina, Jefferson Airplane, The Mamas and the Papas, Ozzy Osbourne, Linkin Park, Cameo, Jason Derulo, Disturbed, GunsNRoses, Prince, Offspring, Metisse, Suzanne Vega, Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Placebo, Warren Zevon, Simon & Garfunkel, Crash Test Dummies, Saliva, Fleetwood Mac, Korn, Lady Gaga, The Beatles, the soundtrack to Rock Horror Picture Show, world music with African drums, or a Middle Eastern, or Bollywood sound, and other seemingly random choices.

My favorite homework music is the soundtrack from Conan the Barbarian. It's on a cassette tape...I've just about worn it out.

My favorite piece of classical music is Barber's Adagio for Strings; it makes me cry. My second favorite classical piece is Borodin's Polovtsian Dances from Prince Igor; the first time I ever heard it was when I was a little kid, in the soundtrack of a cheesy 50's movie, called Fire Maidens From Outer Space, and I never forgot it.

What non-art related interests/hobbies/skills do you have?
I grow things...

I read quite a bit,

I'm a good cook

(shrimp with mango sauce)

I can sew,

I'm an avid escapist movie-goer and television watcher,

I write a little,
I used to sing,

and I can find four-leaf clovers without really having to look for them.

What is something you like that no one else does?


and Masterpiece Theater.

If you had to run one of the world's museums, what 3 works of original art would you like to own?
Nefertiti's bust

image source 1 image source 2

Millais' Ophelia

Image source

Klimt's Danae

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Bernini's The Ecstasy of Saint Teresa

image source