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Week 4 – New Direction

May 6th, 2010

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Okay, so currently I’m a full half week behind. However I believe I’ve learned a lot of things in my failures over the last ten or so days. The first being I’m not nearly fast enough to work a traditional painting at a commercial pace. Also I may need to hit the old drawing board to revisit my color work. I tend to work with limited color palettes, because for me it’s an easy way to balance tones. I always feel like my full color stuff is a little too technicolor processed. I should have paid more attention in painting classes I guess. More practice needed there I believe. So watch out folks UGLY paintings in the future.

Anyway here’s my latest challenge piece. I did this up yesterday. It’s in response to a story excerpt in the current The Strand Magazine titled SMILES by Alexander McCall Smith.

Smiles-WiP Inks only.

Smiles Finish

Once I’ve collected the six pieces to be done I’ll get them all properly scanned. But for now these are some nearly functional digital photos.

12wkch, Process Work

Week 4 pt1 – Hectic Days and Sleep Deprevation

May 1st, 2010

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This week begins the creation phase of the 12 week challenge. In the next three weeks each participant is to set out to produce 6 new illustrations based on the list made in the previous week.

This week got off to a bit of a slow start for me, as I had a couple images I had to produce before I could get started on the six planned images. So actual drawing on the first piece didn’t begin until Wednesday. Because of the short turn around needed I chose to go with two of the three planned editorial pieces.

The first image is a visual done for an article found on the Utne Reader website about Buddhist Monks in Thailand arming themselves due to repeated attacks. For this one I can say there wasn’t a lot of thumbnailing done. I kind of had the image I wanted right away. Here’s an in progress pencils image. This was just taken with my cell phone and cropped/reduced in dpi, so the image quality may be just a bit shoddy. However I think it shows how I pencil well enough. I try to get all the information I need without tightening up too much. Doesn’t always work according to plan but I can certainly try. Below is a series of photos taken at various stages.

*Prewarning, the production of this image devolved into absolute chaos. This is by no means a typical representation of how I work.

buddhist-with-gun wipPencils

buddhist-with-gun-wip2Painting in progress

buddhist-with-gun-wip3

buddhist-with-gun-wip4Masked off and ready for blood spatter.

And then speaking of not going according to plan, it turns out the masking doesn’t help when the paints bleeds through it. I’ve done similar techniques before. But never on Illustration board. Not only did *that* not work, it pulled the drawing up! So needless to say I was a bit put off by what happened. I went ahead and took the image toward a final anyway, just did so in a way I may not have gone had the mask not failed so completely.

buddhist-with-gun-epic fail wip Exhibit A of the failure of my initial plan.

buddhist-with-gun Just added new glazes and a whole lot of ink.

I’ve let it sit for most of the day now so I could get some fresh eyes on it. Scarily the finish isn’t terribly different on the figure than it was before I destroyed it other than the black line I added to find the image again.
buddhist-with-gun-final

In the end I can’t honestly claim image 1 of the 6 I planned to do was wholly successful. But I definitely learned a thing or two on the way to where I ended up. First lesson, I probably shouldn’t break out techniques I haven’t really field tested when you are under a deadline gun. For the remaining images I believe I’m going to go with things I’m a bit more comfortable with. In the production schedule laid out there reall isn’t the luxury of a “do over”

Back soon with more.

12wkch

Continuing on the Challenge- Week 3

April 24th, 2010

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More business set up this week. These are things that have been on my mind as of late. As such this week’s challenge is again another impetus to maintain focus on all those tasks I may not enjoy but I know are necessary in order to do what it is I do. (Which judging by my lifestyle is hardly sleep and try not to spill ink, there may be other activities but these two are front and center right now.)

Anyway onwards and upwards.

1 Decide upon your business structure

This one is simple enough I believe. And in the near future I’ll need to get this in place. I did this once before with Hand Turkey, but in that Jason did the majority of the leg work. I think my main contributions were coming up with the dumb name, signing a couple forms and paying 1/4 the fees.
As of now anything I do is under the business banner of “sole proprietorship” which is okay for now as most of what I’ve done freelance wise has been technically through the umbrella of my old studio. Meaning the work came in, I did it, invoiced the studio and the studio invoiced the client. So while that allowed me a touch of legal separation between myself as a business, and myself as uhm myself (awkward wording is awkward) as I attempt to branch out into things the studio was not set up for it’ll be much less tenable to do so.

Wow the 249 prior words are there purely to say “I need to fill out LLC paperwork soon”, where is all the Russian spam I’m blocking that translates to “brevity is your sister” when I need it. Moving on.

2 Lay the foundations for your marketing strategy

For this section the goal is to pick 10 names to use as a laser marketing strategy. Presumably for later down the road in the challenge. The choosing of these ten names were to be informed by the decisions made in previous weeks. With this in mind, I’m looking up a mix of magazine and book publishers in order to target. With such a small number of names I want to select a bit of a range to the list. Oddly the challenge here wasn’t coming up with ten potential contacts, but narrowing down to ten to focus on. For the time being this is what I’m going with in no particular order, but all have really cool art direction. Some of these selections definitely lean towards my not so secret inner (and outer) nerd.

1: Dell Magazines (The Mystery Place Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine & Ellery Queen, Asimov’s, and Analog)
2: Plansponsor (So much awesome work finds its’ way into this magazine)
3: Richmond Magazine (Benefits of being local, and also having an awesome list of freelancers used)
4: Utne Reader
5: Hi-Fructose
6: Juxtapoz
7: Tor Books
8: Paizo Publishing
9: Fantasy Flight Games
10: Wizards of the Coast

3 Armed with everything you now know about your list of contacts, plan out 6 portfolio pieces that you will be creating in the next 3 weeks of the challenge

1-3 Based on editorial styled work, taking articles from one of the magazines listed above and re-imagining the illustration for it.

4 The Finding a Muse poster design (for Art Order) – This was something I’ve been planning to do, might as well add it to a public list to spur me to sit down and do it.

5-6 Fantasy pieces to be explored. There are a million concepts I want to do, so ideas aren’t the shortage. Time is.

12wkch

12 Week Challenge

April 17th, 2010

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Week 2 of the challenge is rapidly coming to an end. This week for me involved the gnashing of teeth, and pulling of hair. However in that it has proved to be a very useful exercise, so bravo to Jonathan and Lea for producing such a thought provoking challenge.

For those reading this that aren’t following along from any of the networks the challenge is running through, you can click: here to read all about it.

My initial thought when watching the videos was honestly “GAH, business plan…” followed quickly by the thought to half ass it and maybe not take it too seriously. After all, it’s a business plan, I know where I’m headed right? Well in the end this was DEFINITELY not the approach to take, so I didn’t. I let it mull about in my head and I scribbled a bunch in a sketchbook, and then finally sat down and made the OGSM on Wednesday. (Between twitter comments about my lack of focus, and possibly rather being slapped in the face).

The business plan isn’t much to look at and I did leave off any allusions to one day becoming a “Would be world conqueror”, which means this is a giant step ahead of what I turned in to career counselors at school years ago. Instead I filled the plan with things that feel doable in the short term, and kept it in a very editable version so things will come and go from it as they are completed or prove to be dead ends.

So long story short (well long for the attention span of the collective internet) instead of “GAH business plan”, I went with the thought if I already had it so cleanly laid out how come I’m not where I want to be yet? This new approach of taking things a bit more seriously may work yet.

12wkch

12 Week Challenge Week 1

April 6th, 2010

Long post follows, be forewarned.

And oddly not a drawing of a monkey, or gas mask, or zombie in sight.

Over the course of the next 12 weeks there should be at least one post of this nature as I document my progress in effort to complete Jonathan Woodward’s of Zero2Illo’s 12 Week Challenge. This is something I signed up for completely on a whim when the tweet went out even without a clear idea of what the challenge would entail. I did know it was focused on helping you move forward with running a business focused on Illustration. This came about as I was knee deep in the task of compiling/updating a mailing list. Sometimes things just work out.
I found out about Jonathan’s blog last Fall when he was interviewed by Thomas Jane for the Escape From Illustration Island Podcast. (Episode 9 dated October 20th) You should check it out if you’re one for podcasts.

Anyway that’s the intro, onto the first week’s challenge.

What do you want to illustrate?

The type of stuff that gets me excited for working is narrative based. I tend to work from concepts as opposed to drawing in a decorative way.
My current goal is to focus my portfolio more on that narrative hook. As it stands currently I do still have a couple hold over design/text illustrations floating in there, though these aren’t something I plan to focus on in the near future. So organizing my portfolio is a big goal currently.
As I do that my intention is to focus my marketing efforts towards book publishing as well as magazines that use editorial work for features about people/events/stories rather than abstract things like whether the market is in a Bull phase or a Bear phase. I’m not really the guy to call on to draw “the business man in a bowler hat pushing a penny up a hill” and I can live with that.

I’m not worried about the genre nearly as much as I probably should be. I love fantasy, sci-fi and horror art, but I don’t know if I would be satisfied with only doing that kind of work. There are times where I wish I had that laser focus of “This is exactly what I want to do forever”. With that said for the time being I’ve narrowed my focus down to what still is a rather largish niche. I may revisit this as the weeks go on and garner a tighter focus to this statement.

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12wkch