Monday, May 25, 2009

A little Update, Memorial Day

I hope that all of you are having a good Memorial Day weekend! Hopefully we can enjoy some time off with our families, maybe get caught up a little bit on chores, and also take a moment to remember those that have left us...

Running a little behind this week. Lots of work at home, plus just being busy with friends. It's all worth it every day though. Fortunately I have today to get caught up here, so I wasn't up until 3:00 in the morning and had to go to work as well. Ha-ha-ha!

Like I said, It's been a busy week. I made a point to pus aside a little time to work on this illustration though. Not much, but it's a step in the right direction, and I think it's almost done. Another hour or so of work on the background, and I think I can call this guy finished. I changed the grass... I didn't feel that the last try really worked, (the texture of it with the gradients and also the sheer denseness of it was really distracting. I also added the foreground path, and finished the garden walls. As I'm looking at it right now, the right side is looking a little bare, maybe I'll plant some azaleas or wisteria this week to fill it in.

Have a happy, fun and safe memorial day, and I'll talk to you soon!
Your friend

Sunday, May 17, 2009

There Is No Holy Grail

I am not perfect. I do not claim to be. I strive to be better at the things that I do. There is no Holy Grail that will make that easy for me. It's hard work.
I have a couple of reasons for doing this blog. The first is as a platform to both develop my portfolio and to display it. I also try to have an educational element to it... both showing off artists and designers that I enjoy and admire, and (hopefully) talking about tools and techniques that I use from time to time. Lastly, I do this blog as a sort of documentation of my progress as an artist moving toward freelancing.

I want to mention that it's not always easy. I've been bogged down with work (both during the day and freelance at night) as well as the fact that it's summer, and my daughter is mobile and awake more of the day. My personal stuff is at the bottom of the list, and usually comes late at night. Bed sometimes wins. LOL.

Anyway, tonites post comes to you for a couple of reasons. 1.I was too busy to do much worth showing you... Actually, I did a lot, but am not ALLOWED to show you. 2. I got a couple of e-mails from a friend who is wanting to get some use out of his degree, but isn't sure about where to start. He is in a similar position as me time-wise. Working, Family/kids time, etc... So I'm not really sure about this, but here goes. His questions, my responses as I see them.

These answers are just my opinion from my current vantage point. I am not full time freelance, I do not have cut and dry answers.

"Jeff I wanted to know how one would start trying to get jobs on CA I saw there are low level freelance jobs to working for free. What do you know about this stuff? Help a brother out. I just want to know the good, bad, and ugly of it. Thank you"

As with any job type situation, you have to apply for it, and show that you can do the job you are being asked to do. This is a public forum, so to "Apply", all you have to do is post in the thread saying something like "Hey! I'm interested in doing this project, and I think I'm a strong candidate for it because_(Fill in the blank)_. Please view samples of other projects that I've worked on here _(fill in the blank)_. Samples don't have to be crazy, and you don't need a huge, Laser Awesome website for them either.
Your blog, CA sketchbook, or Flickr account would all be fine. It is important to have them though, and that they be FINISHED. If you are wanting comic work, do some finished pencils showing Characters interacting in a story framework. Also do some inked pages. Maybe even download penciled pages by other artists and ink them, so you can show how you would ink another artists work.

If you need some "get up and go" to feel like this is a real project, try doing some of the P.O.W. (Panel of the Week) activities in the community activities forum. Activities are fun, and a good way to pad your portfolio. You can also get some good feedback from those guys.

Having a portfolio/samples of your best work is really REALLY important. Nobody will hire an artist without seeing their work first. And honestly, if they did I would seriously think about whether it was a good idea to work for them. LOL.

The job forum is set up so that you can check out possible jobs based on what you feel comfortable charging right now. Many people start in the low paying section, because that way you can prove your worth before (to yourself as well as potential employers) before you start taking on bigger jobs with more responsibility and more pay.

Generally working for free sucks. The upside is that you can build some credibility, experience, and a portfolio from doing this kind of work. The important thing here is to remember that there is a reason you are doing it. It's not just hobby work. Just because it's non-paying does not mean that it should be treated with less respect than any other job.

Both of these options are for people who want quality work, but can't really afford to pay for it. So the mutual benefit is exposure and experience.

I hope this makes sense and helps.

Let me know if you have any more questions.

"I want to know how you do it man? How do you find the time... Especially with the little one. What are your words of wisdom on that. I thnk I'm going to use the structure of the skillful huntsman to come up with a portfolio and story and try to get work from there, obviously start small, but go to it. now I just need deadlines and motivation :) So how do you dig deep?"

This is a harder question, but it's really about desire and discipline. It's also about being able to break down both your day and your projects into smaller pieces. I'm going to give you a breakdown of my "typical" week day.

I get up at around 6:30, get dressed and pack lunches... Basically get Abby and me ready to go. We all pile in the car at around 7:30, I'm at work Between 8 and 8:30, and I'm there until 4:15(ish) then I go and get the girls, and come home (5:15), Make dinner and eat (6:30), Get Abby cleaned up and ready for bed (7-7:30) and then spend some time with Amy until 9 or 9:30. This means that I have 1 hour and 30 minutes to work on my own stuff before bed. That includes checking e-mail and surfing for whatever. (Freelance deadlines will sometimes change this around, and Amy is wonderful about supporting my dropping out of existence when I have to)

I know I have a lot of projects on EVERY burner. So I dance between them, and do a little at a time. I put stuff off when I need to. But the important thing is that I honor my commitments first. I spend a few minutes scribbling and doodling. I'll work on some pose studies at Posemaniacs, or ink a drawing or work on some coloring or vectoring, but it's little bits. I don't have enough time to commit to doing a ninety minute warm-up drawing. If I was down here all day, every day, then sure I'd warm up for ninety minutes, but I'm not. So I don't. I warm up for five minutes and then work on something.

This goes back to what I was saying at the top of this monstrosity of a post that I applaud anyone who sat though... THERE IS NO HOLY GRAIL. So many people are out there looking for that one supply, that one book, tutorial, video, paper, pencil, snarfblatt... whatever, that will make it EASY for them to be a good artist. That thing DOES NOT exist. It's about hard work. It's about dedication.

It's about wanting it so bad you want to live it.

Think about what you want to do. If you want to be a concept artist, and work on defining the look of characters and worlds, then by all means use the skillful huntsman book as a structural guide to building that portfolio. It's a good book, with good work.

If you want to do comics, do some pages. If you need an idea, check out the P.O.W. community activity on They give out a plot summary and you have a couple of weeks to turn out three pages. It's a good way to get some work behind you and into a usable portfolio, and you might make some good friends to hold you accountable for it.

Sorry everybody. I think I've rambled on long enough for one day. I hope everything is going well for you all. If you have any questions or comments... or if you want to call me an ass that doesn't know what he's talking about, feel free to drop me a comment. Until next time, take care and be good.

Your friend

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

What You Talkin' About?: Lorenzo! and Studio Blink Twice

"When I look at the sketch work of an artist, it is always the working lines that hold the most interest for me, as they show an idea as it is just taking shape, when it could go any number of ways and when the creativity and imagination of the artist holds the most potential."
I first saw Lorenzo!'s work in his sketchbook on I was blown away. This guy is doing art that is both loose, and yet clean. His art is highly detailed, but simplified down to what it needs to be. It holds together equally well as black and white line art, and as more finished, rendered grayscale and color pieces. Just... wow.

Looking a little bit closer, he's also working very hard, and apparently LOVING every minute of it. That's one thing that comes across in his sketchbook, and his blog in the way he talks about his work. It also seems to shine through in every line and gesture... Lorenzo! truly loves what he's doing.

Founded in 2003 by the Etherington brothers, Robin and Lawrence (Lorenzo!'s "real" name), Studio Blink Twice was a "total change of direction from the whole touting-art-and-words-to-publishers-who-weren't-all-that-interested, to Self-publishing". Working in black and white, the animal comedy story "Malcolm Magic" launched as a bi-monthly title in January 2004. "Our intention is a simple one; we want only to create beautiful things. Blink Twice is committed to breathing excitement and fun into paper, pixels and people’s minds."

I've been following the sketchbook for quite a while now, and I'm always excited to see new work. Recently, Lorenzo! self-published through Lulu (A Laser Awesome self-publushing/print-on-demand website) the first volume in a brand new series of art books, "El Sketchbook Lorenzo: Volume One". What an excellent little book! Weighing in at just over 100 pages, it is packed to the gills - cover to cover - with drawings, sketches and processes.

It's really cool to see the process that artists go through when they are working on concepts and finished drawings, and I look forward to checking this book out over and over again. If I were to have anything bad to say about it, it would be that I would've liked a little bit of commentary to go along with the images, but at the end of the day he was trying to keep costs down (which I appreciate) and it's an ART BOOK! Given the choice between some text, and more pictures, I think he chose wisely.
One last cool thing about both his blog, and his sketchbook on CA... Demos! this is another reason I can easily forgive the lack of text in the book. LOL. Every so often, Lorenzo! posts pictures of his workspace and works in progress... as they are progressing. Even better, sometimes they include detailed text embedded in the .jpg for convenient theft (erm... I mean... um... well...) viewing later when you are trying vainly (LOL) to emulate his working style.

This is something that I personally love about the inter-web (and you kids better count your lucky stars at how easy you have it). It seems like when I was a lad, everything (techniques, processes, even ideaology) was closly guarded. I remember getting issues of "Starlog" or "Wizard" magazines reading the fluff articles with the creators "behind-the-scenes" and studying grainy little photos of their studios hoping to spy the Holy Grail. That one thing that made them better. Or at least to get an idea of how to do some of the stuff that they knew how to, and I didn't...

Well, it looks like I've started rambling, so that's a good time to cut things here short. I hope that I've piqued your interest in the Etherington Brothers, and Studio Blink Twice, and that you'll go and check them out. Also, as a side, I hope they inspire you check out the possibilities of self publishing your work through companies like Lulu, or Ka-blam!. There's a lot more flexibility out there now than the old model of working and hoping to get noticed by Marvel or something. There's still some hustling involved, but I think it's worth it, and possibly more rewarding in the end.

Until next time, take care and be good!
Your friend

Sunday, May 10, 2009

More WIPs... But not new ones, LOL!

This illustration is really becoming appropriate... I just looked back in the archive log, and it's been over two months since I posted any progress on it. It's so easy to move on to other projects, and lose a little focus. I promised in my last post that I would work in earnest towards finishing some of these other projects before I move on to more new ones. Sometimes, that kind of kills me... Ha-ha-ha! I have so many ideas for things I want to draw and write about, but it doesn't always seem like I have time. And then by the time I get to them, my interest has waned somewhat.

This is really something that I've been struggling with, and I know that others have too. Finding time to get the personal work that will move your career (and life) forward, in a world that seems to fill in all of those gaps for us. It's partly about discipline... being able to say "No." to things like facebook and TV sitcoms. These things have their place, but mustn't consume all of the free time we have. It's also partly about realizing that we can't do it all in one go, (much as I'd like to... I know I don't have that kind of stamina) but should instead set aside a lot of little blocks of time to work. If it carries over and we don't want to stop, that's fine. It's much harder though, to commit to a large block of time than to a small one.

At any rate... I can feel this post turning into a ramble, so I'll stop there and talk a little bit about the work. I added the grass and started working on the garden wall this week. I'm not totally sure how I feel about it yet. I think there are still some kinks to work out of it, but progress has been made, and I'm glad of that! LOL.

I also did a little work on this illustration. Fleshed out the dad a lot. I think he's mostly done, except for his kite. Next I'll work a bit more on the girl. I'm thinking, instead of doing a painted background, I might put them in a vectored one. I'm not totally sold on that idea yet, but I definitely want some vectored elements in there.

I'm going to be starting up with the "What you talkin' about?" Wednesdays again this week. I feel pretty lazy for missing them pretty much all last month, but I think part of it was that I'm not totally settled on the new format for this blog... I sometimes worry that there isn't enough of my own work in here. I guess the best remedy for that, is to start doing more work and posting it, huh? We'll see...

Until next time, take care and be good! Talk at you Wednesday!
Your friend