Sunday, September 13, 2009

Pet Peeves as AD

I know I changed my format to being posts more directed at myself but I thought I'd still post this.

  • If I post a call for artists stating that we pay X and you respond citing your e-mail as a response to my post, don't be shocked when I offer you work for X pay!!!! READ! Read a post before you waste my time with an e-mail! Quality illustrators made this mistake. If you're simply submitting your portfolio for consideration for future covers or would like to try to negotiate higher pay, then you better say that in your initial e-mail.
  • If you're a studio, have a studio name and use it in your e-mail. Don't send me an e-mail as "Greg" and link to a portfolio by a half dozen artists. I won't know whether I'm just supposed to look at Greg's work or if I'm looking at the entire group.
  • If you have an apprentice/understudy that's going to do part of the work, better tell me that shit. If you haven't told me and I find out, you look like you're cheating me. Or if you tell me at the end of the process when I'm getting your information for the credits, I'm going to be pissed as well. Some companies might be okay with it but I'm not. I don't like the idea that you could be paying your apprentice/assistant/understudy $5 to do a drawing for my company. When our company paid less, we had problems with people trying to turn in plagiarized work and we've seen it with other companies who pay very little. For the same reasons, I personally have absolutely no interest in working with studios.
  • Telling me you might be late with your work because you've got some work with a BIG company that you REALLY need to finish by X. WTF. I'm understanding and will say okay but you have to understand that I think you're a dick and given the choice between you and someone close to your skill level, I'm now going to choose the other person every time.

Lack of Foresight

So I was looking through some of my records and couldn't help but notice what a short-sighted moron I had been in 2008. I completed 338 commissioned illustrations (296 of which were icons) and worked about 470hrs between my concept art gig and art director job. I would say it was like I was trying to keep my head above water by making lots of small frantic movements in no particular direction. It wasn't and isn't something that can be prolonged. I should have been making a few, bolder, focused movements to get myself to dry land. My portfolio hardly improved at all that year. I made some nice quarter-pagers but didn't work as much on the kind of work that has potential to be awesome.

It's difficult to see students with very little work but still manage to have some pieces much better than mine despite also having some work that is absolutely awful. It's one of those benefits of being a student where there's low risk and lots of time on individual pieces. I somewhat regret that I chose a school that wasn't geared towards exactly what I wanted to do because I ended up working extra outside of school to create the work I was interested in. Sort of missed out on that great portfolio building time and instead created a habit of working on a million things at once.


Anyways, back on topic. At GenCon I couldn't help but look at some other booths and think,"how do they have this many print worthy pieces?" Then the wheels start turning and my brain begins to run the numbers. It would only take 2 pieces a month for a year to have 24 amazing prints/portfolio pieces in a year. There I had been throwing away probably 7 months of 2008 and then creating an illustration every 3 or 4 days and that's not counting contest entries. My head swims with all of the ambitious and awe inspiring work I could create given two weeks per piece. Ofcourse another part of me,my stomach, swims at the thought of how little money I would make in that year. Technically my wife would probably be willing to support such a bold move and I'm sure Iv'e told myself repeatedly that I'd commit to making fewer pieces but I was never able to factor in self-esteem. I was never able to anticipate just how soul-crushing it is to only make $100 in a week and willingly put in so many hours that I've effectively dropped my hourly rate below minimum wage, while knowing I could satisfy the client with a quarter of the time.

It's very easy to lie to yourself and persuade yourself that the well paying jobs are helpful. "If I do a million icons for an MMORPG then I can say I have work XP on an MMORPG and I can get into the game industry without leaving northern Kentucky!"
"This AD job will get me a higher profile AD job down the line," or "this AD job will show I'm responsible and larger companies will trust me enough to take a risk on me as an illustrator!" That last statement is especially ridiculous considering I never mention being an AD in my submissions to companies.
"This concept art job will put some sci-fi and turn-arounds in my portfolio and that'll really help me with the game industry."
The harsh truth is that what really helps you get bigger and better work is making bigger and better artwork. Right now I don't feel like my portfolio represents my abilities so I really need to stop lying to myself about the work I take and suffer through the low self-esteem from making very little money for a while.

Monday, September 7, 2009


So the baby has really thrown a wrench in things. Didn't realize until the day of that the deadline was here for the owlbear challenge. Threw together this illo at the last minute. The goal was to try to make it so that you didn't have much you could put your finger on and say "that's from an owl and that's from a bear." The strange should eye/eye stalks came from the thing I like most about owls being that they can turn their head nearly 360 degrees (I think). So I wanted to give it eyes that could really look all over the place. Then the spikes/horns were...well a take on the horned owl. Originally I had these guys with wings, then that morphed into velvet moose antlers and then I thought it would be cool if visually they created a flared out shape like the horned owl. I came up with the odd little sketch for the baby one where there's a massive beak in the front and then just thought it would be neat if as they aged, it grew small and rotated down to the center of the chest. This was all done super quick though so I can't make the argument that I lot of thought went into it. Probably should have made them furry so that they're a bit more like a bear. Threw in some little birds for size reference. Probably should have worked something into the foreground. Even if it's not the best rendered, hopefully it will at least stand out as the most drastic departure from an owl or bear. Not thrilled with it but am actually pretty happy with it considering how quickly I pulled it together.