Friday, May 18, 2012

Count Chocula

Count Chocula was known for his sweet tooth for all things chocolate. Everyone knew him to take great care in baking his magnificent pastries and cakes made of the richest chocolates. Everyone loved his desserts, but no one could tell how he could get such a delicious and unique taste. His only reply to those who question the recipe, "Chocolate is only the second most important ingredient". Everyone who indulged in his delicacies had no distaste for this answer, just as long as they could continue enjoying his food. But the Count has more than a few secrets and though he may be feeding the town with his chocolates, he is also making sure that he gets his fill as well. He has combined his two most favorite dishes in a way that only someone like him could even fathom.

Friday, May 11, 2012

So you're graduating from art school...part 3

The last piece of advice I'd like to give to the new art graduates looking to start their career is to keep the fire burning.

One thing I've noticed about successful artists is that they all have their own story of how they got their success. While every story is unique, they all share one common aspect. They never gave up. After graduating I remember how excited and determined I was, ready to take the world by storm and prove my worth. There are many rewards to be had in your first year out, but there are also just as many pitfalls as well. I've experienced a good deal of both. As I'm writing this post now I am very proud of how far I've gotten in my career so far. I'm still very far off from where I want to get to, but I feel like I'm getting closer and closer. But tomorrow I may face a problem that leads me to question my worth, and if I really have anything to be proud about at all. It can get really hard sometimes, and it can be very painful dealing with the pressures of family and finances. Sometimes you may even think of how much easier it would be to just give up and get a regular old "job"-job and let your art fall to the wayside.

More than anything else, I advise anyone who seriously wants to make it in art to do whatever they can to keep up the excitement and eagerness to succeed in any way they can. Whether it's by looking at art you love, contacting other professionals for advice, keeping in touch with old classmates, forming your own art group at home, visiting galleries, participating in online challenges, experimenting with your art, whatever. If you can keep yourself motivated (especially through the hard times) then eventually everything will fall into place. If you really want to make it you'll figure it out and do what you have to do to stay productive and working towards your goals. Speaking of goals, make some short term and long term ones and figure out how to best achieve them.

Even if you have to take up a regular job on the side to help support yourself (as I am doing myself) don't let it lead to you forgetting about your work. Make the time to fit in whatever you can however often you can and know that it will all add up in the end.

This may sound like a bit of a cheesy post, but it's really how I feel about my own situation. The most productive times for me is when I rebuild my excitement and motivate myself to keep going strong. It's so easy to want to kick back and not do anything, I have periods where I fall into that a lot. While it's  important to take a break and recharge for a while, don't let it go on for too long. Know when it's time to get back to work, and look forward to doing so.


I hope these past three posts have been beneficial to some degree to anyone reading them. I know they don't cover everything, but I tried to cover problems that were specific to graduating, and some of the prevalent things that came up in my own experiences. Either way, I appreciate anyone taking the time to hear what I have to say.


Speaking of advice. This past Monday, illustrator Steven Belledin made a post on his own blog about advice itself. Some of it sounded similar to some of the points I brought up this week so I wanted to link to his post. You can check out his post on his blog 'Push and Pull' HERE.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

So you're graduating from art school...part 2

The next thing I want to mention to all new graduates is about the idea of being a professional. A lot of you may be excited to finally graduate and now you can finally become a professional. But this isn't quite how it works. You don't become a profession by being promoted to it. It's not a badge you pin on when you take off your student badge. It's a mentality. If you want to be a professional then behave like one, and then, boom, you're a professional, that's really all there is to it. The biggest thing I think that can hold you back immediately after graduating is by referring to yourself as a recent graduate. I personally feel like it's a sign of ones uncertainty towards their abilities and/or maybe they feel like they haven't earned the right to call themselves that yet having just graduated. Regardless, By asserting your title as a professional in every facet of your web presence, you'll be treated like one because of it.

I'm not trying to say that it is a horrible mistake to let anyone know how recently you've graduated, but I feel like it's more important to let your potential clients know you have the professional mindset and are ready to be taken seriously. If you start working for a client and they're extremely happy with what you're giving them, they won't care if you tell them you're a recent graduate. Calling yourself a professional shows that you're confident with the idea of being able to take on a professional job. Even if you're terrified of ruining your chance with a job, you need to still act like you have the confidence. I still have my doubts all the time, but I think it's important to keep those feelings away from your promoting venues as much as possible. Art Directors are going to get nervous if they see you nervous, and they'll feel confident if they see you confident.

Lastly, show some excitement! In my experience, ADs get excited at the idea that you're excited to work on your project. Enthusiasm will make a job a lot easier and it will encourage the AD togive you more work in the future as well.

Next, I want to talk a little about when to accept work and when to decline work...

I remember when I graduated I was eager to take up any job that came my way. Every person that approached me asking for work made me feel like it was going to be my road to glory. But this isn't always the case, and it's important to keep an eye out for signs that a job that looks promising at first, could instead be promising a mess.

Recently Heather Hudson made a post on her blog related to this idea. She posted a photo of a flyer at an event that advertised the need for some book cover illustrations and she breaks down the flyer and unveils the warning signs of what a job with this person might have in store. Check out the post HERE. Her post gives some really great insight on how to dissect a job request so you can calculate the credibility of it. If you can work out a fair and worthwhile deal with someone then by all means take it. I personally have had some really successful and rewarding jobs come from unexpected places and with clients who had never commissioned artwork before. However, it's still important to know when you may be doing more harm than good by taking a job. Learn when to say yes and when to say no.

These are just a couple things I've had to face myself after graduating and I hope that what I've said can help ease the stress for anyone else who's about to face these problems as well. I'll have one more post to wrap things up on Friday. If you like what you've read so far, please come back then.

Monday, May 7, 2012

So you're graduating from art school...part 1

I don't like to mention that I'm a pretty recent graduate here on my blog. But seeing as I'm just about a year out of school now and I've got a bit of work under my belt, it can't hurt too much to mention now.

As a matter of fact, this time last year my fellow classmates and I were having our work reviewed at Lubinhouse in NYC as a part of our school's senior illustration review. Syracuse University's illustration alumni are invited every year to come by and review the newest graduating class's portfolios and are encouraged to leave feedback in the hopes of helping them start their careers as illustrators.

Tomorrow and the day after, SU's illustration majors of the class 2012 are displaying their work, just as I did, at Lubinhouse. As much as I would love to go and leave feedback, I'm unable to make the trip this year. However I still want to do what I can to help the next batch of wide-eyed hopefuls looking to make their mark in the industry.

I'm only a year out of school myself so there is only so much I can say from my experiences, yet I hope that having graduated fairly recently means I can pass on what I've learned in my first year out of school. So here goes, I hope at least a few people can find some of my words helpful...


The first thing I can say for sure is that graduating may be the end of grades and tests, but that doesn't mean it's the end of learning. It's extremely important to find ways to learn more all the time. This will help you get better and thus stand out more. There are tons of artists out there willing to share their own stories and insight.

Absorb all of it.

Take in as much advice and ideas as you possibly can. Remember that everyone's road is different and not everything everyone has to say will directly correlate to you, but there is always a benefit to hearing about it. Over time you'll get better at sifting through advice and learning how to apply it to your own situation.

A perfect place to get started on this is by checking out a post made by Chris Moeller (fellow SU alumni) on the Muddy Colors blog (this blog is on my personal required reading list so check it out). The post is titled "Life After Art School: Five Years to an Illustration Career". It was originally posted this time last year and I remember it being a really nice insight as to what to expect in my future. Rereading it now it's just as refreshing as when I first came across it. Take some time and check it out.

Like I said, there are tons of helpful people, sites, blogs, podcasts, and whatever out there, and a lot of it can be taken advantage for free. Here are a few of my favorite ways to continue learning (in no particular order...

Muddy Colors -- Blog. A collaboration of some of the industry's finest. Posts are made on tons of topics from tons of different perspectives.

Gurney Journey -- Blog. James Gurney's personal blog where he promotes himself, his work, and gives his insight into technique and application. I also recommend his books Imaginative Realism and Color and Light.

Ninja Mountain -- Podcast. Collection of fantasy, sci-fi, and horror artists talking about different art topics and experiences, along with interviews covering all kinds of fun things. I've posted about them more extensively in THIS past Inspiration Spotlight.

Dave Rapoza & Dan Warren -- Livestreams. These guys both run an online study group called Crimson Daggers. You can watch them work on paintings and are encouraged to work alongside them. You even get to ask them questions and even have your work reviewed. They also run challenges

The Art Order -- Blog. Created and run by D&D Creative Grand Master (his title is close to that at least). Mostly focuses on Fantasy art, but there is still tons of useful information from an Art Director's perspective on this website.

That's just a small scoop of what's out there. Poke around online a bit, see what you can find for yourself. This is all for today's post. I'll have a bit more in a couple days.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Inspiration Spotlight #24: Dave DeVries and the Monster Engine...and a visit to NYC

I've got a special Spotlight post today! Yesterday I dragged my friend Anthony Briglia with me to New York City to see the opening for Dave DeVries's Monster Engine gallery show. But I'll get to that in a minute.

Before the opening we spent some time visiting different places like Forbidden Planet Comics, and The Evolution Store. In addition to those places we decided to hunt down the Comedy Cellar and Ben's Pizzeria, two locations (on the same block) featured in the FX show Louie, created by Louis CK. It was a lot of fun seeing the places in person, and we even got some slices at Ben's. We only got to see the outside of the Comedy Cellar, but I would really love to be able to go in and see a performance sometime in the future.
After we were done sight-seeing, we headed over to Sacred Gallery at 424 Broadway (2nd Floor) for Dave's opening. Here's an excerpt from the Engine's website where Dave describes what exactly the Monster Engine is:

The Monster Engine is a book, a demonstration, lecture and a gallery exhibition. The premise for all three came from one single question: What would a child’s drawing look like if it were painted realistically?

Below are some of the pieces that were at the exhibit, both the children's original drawings and Dave's paintings based on them.

Getting to see the pieces in person was a real treat; Dave has done some really great work. It'd been a while since I worked with Dave back on Blue Shift so it was nice seeing him again and saying hello. I got a signed copy of the printed Monster Engine book, full of interviews Dave conducts with the kids about the process.
If you're in the area you should stop by and check out the work yourself. The exhibit will be up until the 31st. Also check out his book and the news report on the Monster Engine on CBS (note:this doesn't cover the exhibit, only the Monster Engine itself).

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Leader of the Sanbone Trio

Here's a quick fan art piece I did recently of a character from the obscure yet extremely awesome rhythm video game, Gitaroo Man.

I believe his name is Carrot, and he's the leader of the Mariachi Trio of xylo-bone playing skeletons. Below is the official artwork for the Sanbone Trio for reference.