21 April 2010

12WC: Week 3: Target Audience

The 12 Week Challenge has been really great at building upon the previous weeks. Well done Jon!

The Task
1. Based on your research, I'd like you to gather a targeted list of 10 Companies, Publishers, Art Directors, or Manufacturers that you will be contacting when we get to that part of the challenge.

2. Armed with everything you know about your list of contacts, plan out 6 portfolio pieces that you will be creating in the next 3 weeks of the challenge.

This week's challenge has to do with building up the target audience. Now that I have an idea of what work I'd like to do. It's research time figuring out who's hiring for the work that I do. It's a good query and one that I am not wholly unaware of. For some time now I've been building, rebuilding, refining a mailing list. However I tend to open the door pretty wide. This week's task asks me for 10 targets, so I am going to use this as an opportunity to hone in my vision. Laser-Marketing.

Here we go, in no particular order, Part 1:

  1. Aladdin Paperbacks: Karin Paprocki
  2. Atheneum Books For Young Readers: Ann Bobco
  3. Realms of Fantasy: Laura Cleveland
  4. Pyr Books: Lou Anders
  5. Wizards of the Coast: Jeremy Jarvis, Matt Adelsperger, Jon Schindehette
  6. Tor Books: Irene Gallo
  7. Analog Science Fiction and Fact/ Asimov's Science Fiction: Victoria Green
  8. Baen Books: possibly Toni Weisskopf
  9. Subterranean Press: William Schafer
  10. Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers: Dan Potash
and now, for Part 2:
  1. Velor cover ( a fantasy novel )
  2. Love and a Molotov Cocktail cover ( a Noir ) image
  3. Character Art ( basically card Art )
  4. Concepting Magic Challenge
  5. Dune cover
  6. Pulp Science Fiction ~possibly based on a Ray Bradbury short story
Ok, in all fairness, numbers 1 and 2 are already in my work flow and need to be done in the next few weeks. So, I say why not double up and include them in the challenge.

By the way, the illustration above is available on skateboards through Zazzle { here } If you'd like to get some other thing with this, or any image of mine, please don't hesitate to talk with me about it. I'd be more than happy to accommodate your requests.

Zero 2 Illo, home of the 12 Week Challenge { here }
Art Order Challenge "Concepting Magic" { here }
• other 12 week challenge posts { here }

Thank you for reading along, please stay tuned... there's more to come!

18 April 2010

12WC: Week 2: OGSM

Well, another week, another challenge. This week it is the Business Strategy whittled down to a nice 1 page document; the OGSM. Objectives, Goals, Strategies, and Measures is what OGSM stands for.

I will start off saying that this is a totally brilliant piece of information to generate for any business. Entering into the wild and wooly world of illustration, it is absolutely key. I see it as being a bit like a tuning fork. It allows me to retune to my initial objectives for my business.

However, getting myself to do this was like giving a cat a bath. I had all kinds of problems with focusing my vision in this way. Part of my problem was in trying to get my statement to be both succinct and realistic. Sure, I'd love to say, "by the end of 2010, I will have made 100k," but that isn't realistic for me right now. So keeping it real was important to me.

What was a little bit easier was the creation of a list of things to do. In fact it was so easy that I created a 3 page outline listing it all. The next challenge was for me to put this in a format that would be like the one presented. But, this is why having deadlines is good. Without a deadline I could've put this off indefinitely. So, here's me turning in my work.

I suppose I will need to review and renew this initial outline, but for now, it is a place to start, a structure upon which to build towards my objective for 2010: "To establish a profitable freelance career."

As ever, if you would like to make a comment, I am always glad to hear what you think. You can comment here on the blog, or send me an email through the contact link on my website {here}

• other 12 week challenge posts { here }

12 April 2010

Mutant Challenge: Small Win

Anubis; my answer to a Mutant future

Recently on Art Order, there was a Mutation Nation Contest. Basically the challenge was to come up with one of two Mutant paths; a gene splice of two critters, or an anthropomorphic blend.

My thinking that ended up leading to the painting above, is that after whatever holocaust blows us off the planet, and radically contorts all forms of life that might be left, there will be scavengers. Packs of wild creatures, roving like gypsies, mutant creatures scouring the land looking for anything of value. They would be scrappy critters with sharp pointy teeth and an insane laugh that could curdle milk. Enter the mutant dogs, half man - half jackal, and all business. Seen here in their natural habitat, the mutant dogs have ripped up anything that might be used as a bludgeon; a parking meter, a no parking sign, and "other."

Their leader, Anubis, runs an orderly, if not psycho, band of scavengers. Woe be unto those who might cross his street or per chance happen to have upon themselves a scrap of anything that he may desire, for he is quick with a smile and a laugh but he's just as quick to shred your flesh right off the bone!

For those of you still reading along { thank you } here's the process that brought about the final painting. In all honesty, I have to say that this painting is not one that I consider to be a huge triumph, more that it is a small win. I was able to finish on time to enter the contest and I was able to explore some new techniques with the airbrush. But as a finished piece, I don't think anyone will think "elegant simplicity," in other words, I think the piece is overly complicated for the requirements. Where did it go wrong, or was it ever right?

This is one of three thumbnail that I generated. The things that I like here are the saunter of the main character, and the creature in the super foreground. I felt like the creeping mutant dog in the back felt a little like "a boy and his mutant dog go for a walk," so I axed him. I did like the flotsam of fire and smoke in the background to give it that post-apocalypse feel.

A little further down the road. I am still trying to wrangle some kind of understanding/ imagineering of how these legs might work, and how the rest of the body would respond. I am struggling with the hips and the shoulders. I know there should be some kind of contropposto going on, but my result so far is very square.

The value study.

Then after showing the WIP around to some friends, I started to rework the drawing. While I was doing that I couldn't quite remedy the awkwardness of the character in the fore ground. And by awkwardness I mean "I wanted to draw those fabulous backwards dog knees." This may actually be the point when I start going downhill, I was falling in love with my drawing. My friend and drawing mentor Mark has warned me numerous times about this. I was sacrificing the piece for those hard won lines of legs.

After some friends Vaughn and Vince {see links below} helped out by sharing their observations about this drawing, I brought it to the final stage. Some of the suggestions that were made was to establish a better horizon line with some more dynamic perspective to give a better sense of space, and also to better coordinate the main character's gaze with where he's pointing.

In the end, the painting seems to be a technically well produced piece, but that it's just a little too busy for my taste. Not bad, but a beautiful looser. As the age old saying goes, "you have to paint the bad paintings too," and for me, that's OK. It feels good to know that I am still learning, and that the next piece... well the next piece will be even better.

As ever, your comments and observations are welcome and appreciated.


Helpful Friends:
Vaughn Barker { site } and { blog }
Vincent Lee { site }
Final Challenge Gallery: come see everybody's work... it's pretty incredible!: { here }
Original Mutation Challenge page on Art Order { here }
Keep checking back for the gallery link, which will be posted here when it becomes available.

08 April 2010

Loving Life, Drawing

I have to admit that this most recent life drawing session was a lot of fun. How to explain, just good people having good times. Well, enough said, the pictures can speak for themselves.

20 minutes

Ok, I can't resist making a few comments, these are all still so fresh at the time of this writing. I felt a few things coming together tonight, not just the good people, but on the drawing board too. It just seemed like I was able to concentrate on things like composition, on line quality, and center of focus.

1 hour

I have to admit that I am proud of this drawing. I feel like the pose says something along with the quality that the drawing seems to have. Don't ask me what it's saying, but it's saying it.

45 minutes

This was the final drawing of the night. Here I had some fun with splitting the pose in two. This is a tactic I may explore further some other time as well.

Hope you enjoyed these as much as I did making them. As always, feel free to leave comments and to share your own observations.

To see more figure drawing posts you can go { here }


07 April 2010

12WC: Week 1: The Big Question

First, mad props to Jonathan at Zero2Illo, thank you for spearheading this challenge. I am really looking forward to focusing on my work as well as offering a lending hand to my fellow 12WCers.

The task for Week 1 of the 12WC:

Ask yourself this question…If I could illustrate anything and get paid for it, what would it be?

If you hate illustrating comics (even if you are great at them), it isn’t very sensible to fill your portfolio with samples of your comics work. Even if you think this is your best shot at getting that first commission, it’s recommended that you should focus on creating a portfolio that reflects the work you really, really want to do – not just the work you can do.

Here are a few things that might help:

  • Remember this is a business, we’d all love to get paid to only work on those premium projects, but we all have to start somewhere, so balance out what you’d love to be doing with what is going to pay the bills. Aim for the sweet spot between what you love, what you’re good at and what has potential to generate an income.
  • Remember this is for the 12WC so even if it’s not the absolute 110% ideal area you want to be working in to begin with, that’s ok you don’t have to stick at it forever – the important thing is that you can move on from this stage to the next one with something you’re happy with.

You may have already considered all of the above and have a clear idea of what you want to be illustrating – now is the time to ask yourself some further questions:

  • Is your idea commercially viable?
  • What are the target markets (publications, manufacturers, brands and companies) currently commissioning this kind of illustration?
  • Who are the big players (illustrators) in this market?
  • Why are they successful in this area? Look at their website and other online profiles, search for interviews with them online…How do they promote themselves? If you can break down what makes them successful (other than that they are very talented), you can apply this model to your own business.
Now, regarding the question, generally speaking, I want to create narrative/ figurative images with a slant towards action and adventure. I’d like to work doing books and magazine, both covers and interiors {black and white, and color pieces}. Ideally, I would like to work on a YA Adventure series, possibly of my own authorship.

There are some different avenues where I’d like to see my work grow into, for example; experimental graphic novel forms {i.e. “Lore” by Ashley Wood,} also the Sci-Fi/ Fantasy gaming world holds a lot of promise this includes game art, card art.

As I review this, I can see that I am very print-centric. One area that I need to explore further, is the online publishing world, an example would be Digi-pulps, and Downloadable books. Surely there is more, and I'd appreciate any help in thinking of it!

As for people who’re in it now and making a living, Tom Kidd, James Gurney, Rebecca Guay, Larry MacDougald, Paul Bonner, and Omar Rayyan just to name a few. For the most part these are folks who are working in both a similar market as I am, but also ( for the most part) in the same medium. Now, to unearth how they've met with success... you know aside from being awesome!

Week 2 Challenge is next!
• other 12 week challenge posts { here }
Zero2Illo {site/blog}
Omar Rayyan {blog}
Tom Kidd {site}
James Gurney {blog}
Rebecca Guay {site}
Larry MacDouglad {blog}
Paul Bonner {site}
"Lore" by Ashley Wood {but buy it from your local comic shop}

Thanks to anybody who made it this far in the reading!