Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Poster for the Global Art Gathering in Brighton

I decided to get painterly again!

And it was fun.

For those process-lovers...

I started out with marker and quick-sketched lots of different concepts.  Here are my faves:

At first, I started drawing in Illustrator, but most people in the MATS Bootcamp were going digital right away, and I couldn't get the kind of texture in the marks that I wanted.  And I felt like I couldn't really get that kind of energy using just vector imaging.  So, I went painterly.  I was so happy to get painting!  I adjoined 4 square canvases and painted them as if they were one.  I used paper, paint, ink, fabric, and all kinds of pens. 

See the seams where the canvases met?
Then, I sliced them apart with an exacto blade and scanned them individual at a very high resolution.  I then took it to Photoshop where I painted and patched the seams, collaged some more, and then added the text.  And there you have it!

So what's the poster about?  Well, it's a real event happening in Brighton, and I'm super excited to be going!  It includes speakers and networking, and best of all... it's in Brighton!  I cannot wait to visit the city.  I've heard such great things, and can't wait to see for myself! You can find out more information about the Global Art Gathering here.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Working on Magic

Something clicked for me after MATS A, and that's the concept of joy in one's work.  I connected it finally with the idea of creating magic in an illustration. It's something I have struggled with for a long time, and am always working on.  So, this past week, I made it a point to focus on this element and re-work some past illustrations.

I started with my sketches from the Global Talent Search back in 2013.  I loved my sketches for this project, but ended up submitting something completely different and kicked myself afterward.

Anyway, I worked with this palette which I used for the competition and that I love, and it helped me focus on just having fun and making a sweet little repeat.

revamped repeat

original illustration from 2013

Next, I thought of a different concept with the playground scenario.  What if the playground animals came alive at night and had fun jumpin' around in a magical firefly forest after dark?  So, I re-inked the original sketches, illustrated all-new spring animals, and created a night-time palette to help me focus on illustrating.  Here is what I came up with:

alternate night time theme, 2015

Wouldn't it be so cool if it came in actual glow-in-the-dark fabric?  I keep thinking of a pajama set for my little guy that glows in the dark!  That would be neat!

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

MATS Part A - Overview and Review

5 weeks of illustrating like crazy!
 The following is a two part review of the Make Art That Sells course Part A as it was presented this year (2015).

1) A Review of the Make Art That Sells Course, Part A (from the heart)

MATS is a meeting place for people all around the world who are looking for their "tribe."  I know that's a word that's flung around a lot these days, but I don't have a better word for it... I guess I could say like-minded or similar seekers.  The community that is created after sharing our work, well, it's kind of intimate.  When you're working so hard on a dream that you hold dear, and you share it with others who have a similar dream, it's not difficult to see why we come together and why the course begins to take on a deeper meaning. MATS has a following because we feel connected to one another.

What about the work?  I can only speak for myself.  I have grown a lot and I think you can see it most in my final two assignments.  I used the five weeks of the course to try and discover a style within my work.  I wrote in my pre-course planner, "I have invested in this course because I want to make marketable art that feels true to me in a style that rocks!" So, I experimented with various mediums and line and hoped a style would jump out at me.  I can see a common thread running through all five pieces, mostly it's a color-based thread, but no obvious style jumped out at me.  The biggest thing I learned is to stop being slap-dash about my work.  I can see in my final piece a deliberateness that wasn't there before.  I am taking the lesson of deliberate mark-making as my biggest achievement in these past 5 weeks.  Did I achieve my original goal?  I think I kind of did.  I think all of my work feels true to me, but I don't think I'm far enough along in my illustration journey to say, "Yes! I love this style!  You, oh thick line and wavy brush, you will be my style from this time henceforward!" or whatever.  Not there yet...

2) A Review of the MATS Course, Part A by the numbers

Let me give you an idea of how dense this course is.  I created an outline in order to keep track of all the materials after the final wrap-up post, and it took me 12 hours to do a cursory review and download the course materials.  TWELVE HOURS!!  If I were to collate all the pages and content of this course, it would amount to a very, very thick 3 ring binder.  It would be somewhere between 200 and 300 pages of material.  The first photo in this post is just a fraction of the content.  I printed out only what I intended to fill out or jot notes on.  And this is just Part A! There are several hours of videos including interviews with successful working illustrators and artists.  There are written interviews with experts in the business.  The course includes so many helpful tips, tricks, lists of possible clients, and a very large, supportive community (see part 1 of this review).

It is an intense course requiring the quick turnaround of 5 briefs from concept to layout/mock-up in five weeks.  Each project is broken up into a mini assignment at the start of each week, and then the fleshed out brief is given mid-week with the deadline of Sunday.  I loved the deadlines, and I happily met each one.  I loved being given the assignments, too.  It was nice having direction given to me. :)

And finally, many people who are reading this review are wondering about the reviews.  I will be straight with you.  My work never made it to the reviews.  Each week, Lilla Rogers chose 9 to 13 pieces to talk about.  There were over 150 people signed up for the course.  Many of these people, I'll say 20% are professionals.  Remember people take the course for all kinds of reasons including re-booting a career or refreshing a portfolio.  Some of my peers taking the course had already done editorial work with big name magazines and others had illustrated entire children's books, others were total beginners.  I was... in the middle.  So, I wasn't surprised that my work was not chosen for review.

On one level, of course I was disappointed!  I want to feel validated just as much as the next artist.  But, after every single review without fail, I looked at the checklist Lilla used to discuss the merits and drawbacks of each piece and I saw that even though my work had some of the elements listed, there were always a few missing.  The work reviewed often had a little something extra or something special about them that my work just didn't have (or doesn't have YET!).

It's also a matter of taste!  I know my work runs a bit dark (see troll and mash-up creatures), and Lilla represents some really joyful and happy art.  I'd like to make art that makes people feel joy, and I need to get back to that place.  I was there once.  Here's a throwback photo for you all.  This photo is from the RISD Graduate Student Publication "Making Something with Some Things" from 2008...

It's my entry into our class book.  I still haven't given up on that dream, I just got a little sidetracked is all.

So was it worth it?  Hell, yeah!

If you have any questions about the course or are considering it, but aren't sure, just send me an e-mail and I'll answer the best I can.  You can also write to the school itself, they're super helpful and friendly.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

MATS A, Week 5: Gifts

As I posted my final assignment for my first MATS class in the flickr group, I was really sad.  I mean it!  I was so sad it is over.  There are still a few days of "wrapping it up" and the final review, but the 5 weeks of meaty assignments with endless potential...

Wait a sec, this is just the beginning!

Put those tissues away!  Although MATS A is over, it's time for me to shift gears and get ready for phase 2!  Transition time!  This is the toughest part I think, but I've got a pretty darned good toolkit and support network to help.

My next steps in this whole illustrator as full-time career move include:

  • refining my projects based on the feedback I received
  • assembling a portfolio with enough pieces in a marketable style
  • presenting my work to companies (and/or a representative)

I've been doing research since the start of the year on artist's representatives.  Between MATS and the Skillshare, Creative Live videos, Illustration podcasts, and the books that each of my teachers have recommended, I've got a fairly good idea of what it will take for this to work... and it's a lot of WORK! :D  But, I already knew that, and hard work is quite familiar to me, and I kinda like it.

Anyway, a review of Week 5...

Mini Assignment: identify and photograph or illustrate your favorite collections of items in your life. In my case, I have a lot of scissors... and looking at the photo I realize I missed two pairs in the kitchen. Oops!  I also have a huge collection of rubber stamps and many, many items relating to what I'll call "the paper arts" - illustration, drawing, painting, drafting, etc.

yes! an authentic Caboodles case, and Corn Flakes stamps from the 1960's

I have a cute collection of house-plants, too!  It's too bad I didn't have a balcony garden this year otherwise, I'd have used those too.  Hmm, I could get my photos of them from years past for another one of these...
 And then there's the fiber arts. This is just the tip of the iceberg, but my photographed collection includes my two favorite skeins of yarn in my stash, so many spools of thread, fabric scraps, patterns, and my all-time favorite buttons... 

When our big assignment came, I wasn't sure where to go with all of these photographs and illustrations.  I was overwhelmed with the sheer number of things I had scanned, isolated, color tweaked and sketched.  Overwhelm!

I showed this image to my fellow MAT-sians at the height of my overwhelm.  I've realized this is a typical stage in the artistic process. This is the part where you feel self-doubt and uncertainty and the judge part of the brain is telling you you're nuts for attempting this.  Don't let that judge win!  My classmates helped for sure.

So, I kept plugging away at it!  I thought of a way to bring my favorite collections together and here is my secret: key phrase.  I created a key phrase to help guide me.  My phrase for this piece was "tropical vacation yarn fetish".

I started by creating creatures that lived in this overlush place, these creatures had to be over the top.  I have been dying to do mash-up creatures and I thought this would be the perfect opportunity for a little Frankensteining!  Above you can see my first creature above.  It's a jackelope iguana, but it gets butterfly wings eventually.

Here's a .GIF of how the piece developed once I got going.

Just in case it doesn't loop on its own, click on the image to see the short GIF

The materials in the class for this week were really helpful.  There was a great list of businesses that are in the gifts market, templates, and wonderful life tips.  All in all, it was a really strong week with which to finish the course.  I'm so looking forward to MATS B in the fall!