December 9, 2008
Unfortunately we are getting toward the end of the year and in my nostalgia I fear I will make this blog another long-winded manifesto.
This autumn thus far has been one of my most productive seasons of my career. After several years of attending the cons they have finally paid dividends that I could not have expected. I have been pleasantly surprised and blessed with an abundance of work of late.
Whatever your field, be it plumbing or art, I would highly suggest finding out where the trade shows and conventions are. Every industry has several where like-minded people in the field gather. I have spent several years going to Comic Book and Gaming conventions. But it wasn’t until 2005/2006 that I started showing some work. I was pleasantly surprised at the good feedback and advice that I got but was subsequently disappointed in the lack of work that followed. It wasn’t until I took the time out from 2006 - 2007 without income and designed a portfolio that I was passionate about which was geared toward specific clients that I finally got the results I desired. To anyone following his or her dreams, be specific. The more specific you are with your goals and the greater the belief in that goal on the back of hard work, the more beneficial your results. It’s a pretty self-evident idea and yet I simply ignored it or better yet I believed I was doing it for years when I simply wasn’t.
Another key factor was a great bit of advice from Jon Foster, an amazing artist who I accidentally gave some really bad indigestion to. While I was attending a speech in Columbus Foster said whatever the job, find your love in it. Again some pretty simple advice but powerful and often over looked. It wasn’t until I looked back at a loveless portfolio that I noticed a huge difference in the work I was getting paid for and the work that I did for myself. In the middle of my career I was unhappy at the images I was producing on hour deadlines and shoestring budgets. I googled my name and simply cringed at the amount of terrible work I sent out into the world. I made up my mind then that no matter the pay rate I would put all of me into my art, because after all it was my art my expression, I then started to make art for myself and not the pay check and it was noticeable. The first piece I tried this on was my Van Helsing and while the image could be stronger it got me into Spectrum. So I was already on the right path when I heard Jon’s speech but his reminder when times were tough was a great reiteration of what I was already committed to. Another great piece of advice was to simply calm down, focus on what I could control. In my case it was making the art and then getting that art in front of people who would hire me. Again this is really obvious stuff, and yet it’s hard to make art that you love, which you give you all to and still be a good husband, a brother, and a good son. It’s hard to tell your wife, have faith, when there is no money and it’s raining in the hole in your ceiling. I am not putting this here to complain or whine, as there is no use in that. But it is nice to keep the flip side in mind when things are going well as they currently are for me. Not so you can wait for the other shoe to fall but to remember if you are doing what you are suppose to be doing everything will work itself out. So breathe, focus and do what you love to do.
I read a book that said our greatest enemy is our mind. That the mind has one function and that function is to solve problems. And like any organism or mechanism its core programming is to survive. To survive it must serve a function. The problem with the mind is sometimes there are no problems, so for its preservation your mind creates problems to solve. It cleverly disguises opportunities with fear and doubt distracting us from what we should be doing. Interestingly enough it’s that same mind writing these words. Regardless I am droning on so its time for an update of the work I have been producing lately. These are in no particular order:
First off here is the Edward Gorey Zombie piece I did for a group show in Chicago.
It was a fun experiment for me just for the enjoyment. It made me dust off the old airbrush to try something I have been meaning to play with for a while with mixed results. Nothing amazing but it sold so that something I guess.
Next is the CityBeat Obama cover. This was a real disappointment for me because it really could have been a nice piece but I was way over booked and only had a night to do the whole thing. Lesson learned though so it was helpful.
Now what took most of my October and November I am sad to say I can’t show until next April. I don’t think I can even talk about it. What I will say is I finally got a chance to do several pieces for Wizards of the Coast on the Dungeons and Dragon line. I am really happy with the way most of these pieces turned out. I have wanted to work for WOC ever since I was in grade school so it has been a dream come true. My art director was also a great pleasure to work for which always makes the work more enjoyable. One thing I will say I have never had to make so many changes in my life and while frustrating at the time I can honestly say every suggestion and change made each piece amazingly better. When I post the image after April I will make sure to include some progression so you can see the various stages.
Finally I got a chance to work on the Vampire RPG for White Wolf. This has been another goal realized. While I never have played RPGs I was always draw to the books for the great illustrations. This title like D&D was one that always caught my eye at Media Play growing up. Again as above, very cool art directors at White Wolf that gave me a lot of freedom. These two illustrations really turned out nice. On top of that the story was sweetly macabre, disgusting in parts and deviously wonderful. I really look forward to the release of this book.
Future projects on the horizon:
I am doing some concepting work for an independent Zombie flick, which should be a labor of love. The Talon Black piece (as seen earlier in this blog) was done for The Undertakers script, which is a predecessor to the concepts I’ll be doing for a trailer.
Also I am also doing some sample pages for a talented young writer, Kristin Royer, who has completed her first comic series. The story is in the vain of the classic pulp novels and film noir films of yester year. I think both experiences will really help me develop as an artist by forcing me to really play with light and dark in unique ways as found in the media referenced. I have always had a love affair for German Expressionism and its influences are clearly visible in the best of the Noir genre as well as in good horror.