Saturday, January 29, 2011


Thought I'd make something clear. I love doing this freelance illustration stuff. I know I gripe a lot about the bad apples, maybe that's because I like the blues or maybe it's because overwhelmingly positive stuff seems cheesy to me. So for once, I give you cheese. Don't expect much cheese beyond this.

It's hard to have any hobbies because illustration is also what I enjoy more than anything else. If I have money to spend, it always goes towards training or reference. I decided to pursue this profession knowing that very few make a living from it and that even fewer make a living off of this niche market. I often work weekends and evenings and not because I have a deadline crunch. If I ever had to quit doing this full-time, I'd still create artwork in the fantasy and sci-fi genre in my spare time.

Why do I love it?
1. I love the genre.
2.I love being my own boss. I get to turn people down. I can attempt contract revisions. Scheduling vacations isn't a problem.
3.Researching potential clients has become fun. Thumbnailing, roughs, tights, color studies, sculpting/shooting photo reference and final rendering; they've all become steps that I thoroughly enjoy.
4.The process has become a lot of fun.
5.Even if the career isn't always going upwards, I always feel like m work is steadily improving.
6.My peers are mostly great people who are very helpful and open.
7.Each week can be wildly different and you never know what sort of wacky thing you'll be illustrating next.
8.When work is slow, it's easy to be full of hope that maybe the following week you'll get that huge paying job. It's easy to be full of hope because sometimes it actually happens.
9. I'll admit it. It's nice to know there are thousands of copies of my work all over the world or my web traffic spikes or when people recognize me or my work at conventions,etc. I also love when people complement my work or give it awards. That stuff really does keep us self-loathing artists going.
10.I love that I have to be a go-getter. I actually like the fact that I have to hunt down and research how to get my prints made, how to deliver prints, what to charge for prints and commissions, how do I build a website, what conventions should I attend, who do I need to talk to,what are the best materials,etc. It makes it so that every part of my success or failure is completely dependent upon me. That could be a lot of pressure or it can get you going and in my case it gets me going.

While we're being positive, it's only January but I think this year is going to blow the last couple of years out of the water. I believe I'll be allowed to show certain work by the time GenCon rolls around and my portfolio will be making a leap forward. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that several projects I've illustrated that have been delayed for a long time will suddenly be released this year and there will just be a flood of new people introduced to my work. I've been too busy so far to work on traditional media stuff and the clients allow prints so I've been working digitally. I think some clients coming up will not allow me to sell prints but will allow the sale of originals so there's some incentive there to create some traditional media stuff.

I've decided not to go to Wondercon. Even with getting paid hourly during show hours, I was likely going to lose money. I will however be at GenCon and will have a bigger booth. I also plan on being at Cincinnati Comic Expo.  I'm also thinking about getting a dealer table at ConGlomeration in Louisville in April.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Rubble Reference

Kind of a tip. It makes fairly nice rubble reference to just break up some styrofoam and dip it in a cup of paint to kill the white some. If you're really concerned you could dip it in a bucket of housepaint to get a more opaque covering I'm sure.

If you want some rocks rather than man-made rubble then take some of that soft foam that comes in flexible sheets and tear it up and dip it in paint. These actually look really good if you make sure to get rid of the hard edge sides. We did this at Cincinnati Playhouse when making the set for Of Mice and Men.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Life Drawings

This month is going to be insanely busy. This month is going well. Got a love letter from an old client of mine yesterday. "I miss you. Wish we could be together again." That sort of thing. It was very sweet. Anyways, this month I haven't been sick! So I managed to make it to figure drawing this week. Haven't been in over a month. Very rusty. Bottom two are from an older session that I just thought I'd post.

Monday, January 3, 2011


Here are some thumbnails I made for somebody wanting a private commission. They're really rough. Never heard back from the guy so I guess he didn't like any of them. He had two ideas for an illustration, one being the character flying above a distant city and another one with two characters in battle
I broke one of my own rules here and I think I just paid for it. If a client has little or no art directing experience,  make the first sketch pretty tight. So the error was completely on my end of things. I shouldn't have assumed that someone who isn't familiar with the artistic process can make the imaginative leap from thumbnail to finish. I should have made a solitary sketch that was really clear. I approached with an elongated process that went thumbnails>rough sketch>tight sketch with color study>finals when what seems more comfortable with those new to commissioning artwork seems to be to have a tight sketch and then finals. For me, thumbnails are about general composition and posing and I think a private commission can get freaked out that they don't see a likeness and exact costuming yet. Also private commissions can often be a bit reluctant to voice their concerns or have trouble putting into words what they may have a problem with. Perhaps this client didn't like any of the thumbnails and was embarrassed to ask for more or couldn't put things into words and just found it was easier to just drop the whole thing.Oh well