Friday, September 25, 2015

Yes I made this

Sometimes I undertake projects that seem far removed from my other work. As an artist who wants to grow I constantly work on being versiltile. This was for the Hudson Valley Seed Library. They hold contests for packaging and for food related art. I went with a more traditional illustration style for the subject. The packing was for an heirloom baking bean. They wanted something that showed cooking, the plants, and the bean. It's hard to be creative but also adhere to reality. I liked this illustration, it was not my favorite, but I think it accomplished the goal and visually interesting. It did not win, but it's almost better to show off these examples. I really like seeing the work that doesn't get picked for New Yorker covers more than winners. It's a good insight into the strange process of art direction and taste. 
I'm currently more excited about my portrait work. Creative work is great, but sometimes a good portrait or still life helps you regroup. When I'm feeling burnt out its a good way to stay in practice. 
Small note: I doodle on the bottom of lots of work before making it, which you can see in the bottom photo. This is how I work out the composition. Is not as fancy as using transparency paper, but it works.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Patterns make perfect

I have been doing a lot of thinking lately about how business and how I want my business to run. For awhile I thought I wanted to just be a children's book illustrator, but its been hard to get noticed so in the mean time I have had other greeting cards. I love making greeting cards and while trying to get into new shops I have been dappling in pattern making, colorbooks for adults, and home goods. Yes, I know, is there a category I have not been trying to get into. The truth is I see a lot of stuff on instagram of what the "it" illustrators are doing right now and I think to myself, "I should be doing that too before everyone else figures it out." The truth is, they have figured it and I am the one that is late to the game. It doesn't matter if that is a true statement or not, its how I feel all the time. I had to take a break from social media this weekend because I was getting compulsive to the point of having a break down on Friday night. Everyone I follow is amazingly talented and successful so, of course, I look at their successes and wonder why I am so far behind. Keep in mind I do not know these people personally, they have had internet presence for years, and they are all different ages and backgrounds. There is literally no reason for me to freaking out about other peoples careers. And yet, I freak out. I have been throwing myself at a bunch of things for about six or seven years and after awhile its hard to see the small successes when other people have larger ones. The fact that people I do not know have adult coloring books, textiles being made into bedding, and home decor does not mean my work is crap and not good enough. The fact that other artists have thriving illustration careers does not mean I will not, but for the moment it means I work in a coffee shop and cram in freelance around it. Its difficult to feel successful when you have worked in the service industry for ten years. I love my customers, but my feet hurt!
But really, the bug to make functional art approached me first. I signed a contract to work with a company to make home goods. It was so exciting, they wanted a lot of art, and I would get royalties, but it fell through. It was so heart breaking and I realized I had really wanted it. So the obsession really started from feeling like I was going to be in the game and then actually just getting to sit on the bench and watch the game.
All of this also comes in the heels of hearing from someone in the industry that they felt my illustrations were stiff and that I do not have an area of focus in my work. I asked for the critique, so do not feel bad for me, but I didn't agree with it at all. Usually, I get constructive crit. and I take it and use it to focus, but this crit was the opposite. It felt like I was getting a first year review in art school and it felt completely off base. The worst part was it was from an art director at a publisher I love. I understand that this is the way it works, which is why there are many art directors within a company, but still it deflated me. I really should have seen it coming.  I went to a great workshop lead by a number of art directors from different kinds of publications (including the woman that gave me the crit.) and they discussed what they looked for in illustrators. It was very useful and interesting. The thing that really bothered me, however, was that they all agreed if an artist was good at drawing cats then that would be the person they went to for a job where they needed cats drawn. My heart broke when I heard that. Art directors are curators of creative people and by extension creative themselves. The linear thinking of such a statement was the opposite of creative. Its actually a creativity killer. I have heard about this way of thinking before and presumed, dumbly, that it would be snuffed out with the newer generation, but these folks were all in their 30s. After that my brain exploded and I had to cut myself off from the internet.
I am still interested in trying out pattern making and adult coloring books, but I'm not going to force anything. I think I have been killing my own creativity by thinking that the internet cares and it doesn't. I do know that I felt a lot better after taking a break and I recommend it to everyone. I posted work, but didn't look at anyones feeds and I feel like a better person for it. Forget success or failure and just try not to go crazy or kill your creativity.
These are some process drawings and then the final pattern that is up on spoonflower. I am getting a sample and will post it when it arrives. I think this will be fun.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

The postest with the mostest

Here are some comics that would not be appropriate for the New Yorker and so, for your low brow enjoyment!
I have a lot of comics that I absolutely love, but they never seem to stick around for long. Its hard the way a stand up routine must be hard. You deliver this amazing gem that people love in the moment, but eventually they forget. Its hard to show the world your gems and know they might just look at it like its another rock. My best comics are enjoyed for a day, at most, and then they become another rock. Its a little sad, but I can't stop making them anyway and maybe some day one will rediscovered as a gem again.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

What the blog!

Yes I know it's crazy here we are again at the same blog about a year later, or was it two? Anyway, I'm back because I do love blogging although it feels like a place for me to whine. I am going to attempt to keep the whining to a minimum. I am hoping to discuss more about process and development of projects. 
Recently I have been working on getting a series of comics together to submit to the New Yorker. They do have open hours supposedly where one can bring work to be reviewed; I am not sure how that works now that they are located at the freedom tower. I am getting ahead of myself though. The goal is to have 20 very solid comics before I go. I came to this goal with the help of an illustrator who worked with the cartoon editor and knows how he works. For me the tough thing is not using puns. The New Yorker does not take puns...I know, who knew!! You might say to yourself, "Charrow that is all do!" And there is the challenge. Instead of crying myself to sleep I am making it into a create my own caption game. I make an illustration with a pun, erase the pun, and try to move beyond the pun into the deeper more absurd jokes. It is both fun and challenging. Even so it's slow going. Out of 45 I submitted to my mentor he felt that 6 of them met the standards of the New Yorker. If you decide that you want to submit work too be forewarned that it is super brain consuming. Also, there is no guarantee. There are illustrators who work for the New Yorker now that had been submitting for for 12 years before getting in. I think the word your thinking of is Crazy! I'm hoping at some point I will be able to write about my review, but I definitely am not holding my breath about getting in.
The comic above is actually something I hope to submit to the New Yorker because it's not a pun and I am still patting myself on the back about it. 
This is just the first entry so I won't go on forever, but I hope to write one a week for now. I will be posting more large scale illustrations in progress as well, but right now all I have the time for is quick pen drawings. 

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Animals on bikes!

newest commission

Commission! animals are my favorite.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Tourist Town

This is one of the times of year they flock to the city to see the christmas lights and fill our hearts and minds with images of violence. But really, if you are going to walk slow don't walk down the middle of the sidewalk...some of us are busy pretending we have places to go.

(As in the spirit of tourist season)