Monday, April 21, 2014

The Littlest Angel Of All - Character Sketches

Next up on the drawing board, The Littlest Angel of All, my next picture book for self-publishing author, Terry Mayfield.

This project will first be a video (out this fall) to accompany a song written by the author, and then a picture book to follow.

Here are some early character sketches to explore The Littlest Angel's look and a small scene sketch to start exploring some of the setting. This is only the beginning. Plenty of more cute little angels to come!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

The Coal Thief - New Book Project

I'm so very pleased to officially announce my next book project, The Coal Thief!

The author, Alane Adams, is a local author who is self-publishing the book. It is loosely based on stories her father told her growing up about his own childhood. Therefore, the book is based in 1929 (a fun era to illustrate!) in the small town on Girard, Pennsylvania.

This is the first book in a series of three. But more on that later. For now, here is a snippet of one of the interior sketches.

More info and sketches to come in this new project!

The Importance of Having A Life

I read a blog post from a fellow illustrator that I've met at the SCBWI Conference (Chelsea Kenna).  I wanted to repost it here.

I don't know who the original author is, but it speaks on a point that I have fallen victim to many a time. Our success as illustrators should not be measured by the time we put into our work, but the quality of the work we create. And for some people (like myself) reaching that quality of work takes more time than other people. I have felt the guilt of not being in my chair ALL DAY, but instead, going to the store, cleaning, or (heaven forbid) going to hang out with friends. Since when has keeping your house in order been a bad thing? Since when has building or maintaining friendships been looked down upon?

This is not to say that us illustrators should not spend a significant amount of time improving our craft and learning new things, but at some point a line has to be drawn. I suppose that will be different for every person. All I know is that I've crossed my line too many times. No amount of success is worth letting relationships falling apart over.

So, let's change the way we encourage each other. Instead of asking, how much did you draw today? Maybe we should ask, did you go outside today? Did you talk to your family this week? What ELSE have you been up to?

Here is a link to the original post I read
And below is the article I am referring to.

The Workaholic Pedestal
We freelancers have a tendency to never truly be away from our work, regardless of the time or day of the week.  Especially if like me, your work station is in your home.  We work long hours and dedicate ourselves fully to whatever project we have at hand.  We loose sleep, skip social gatherings, eat whatever is quick and easy so we can get back to work. I have noticed that there is a sense of pride in general among freelancers that we are so in love with our work that we can dedicate ourselves this way.  Passion for your chosen profession is definitely a plus!

However, I have also observed a downside to this part of freelancing.  That dedication can cross the line into an unhealthy workaholic lifestyle, and other freelancers actually encourage it.  There is an underlying unspoken rule in freelancer culture that if you’re not working, you’re slacking.  I’ve seen other freelancers take subtle stabs at their peers for taking time off to see family, to tend to daily life, or to just have a day (or three) to simply BREATHE and do something other than art. Doing things like comparing your work load with others’ work load, making yourself out to be the harder working one.  Referring to things like showering, cooking, and cleaning as “free time” or “vacation”.  It creates or adds to guilt surrounding work, which is really not a nice thing to do to your friends and peers.
The disclaimer here is that clearly not every freelancer does this, and I think those that do are not being purposefully malicious, so please don’t misread this as an attack.  I’m guilty of playing into this myself, we are just falling into a part of the starving artist stereotype;  The idea that your chosen craft/art must encompass ALL of your being, every day and every moment for you to truly be passionate about it.

The truth is, there IS life outside of art and work, and it’s not a contest. We are living beings that must eat and sleep, and we are social animals that must have a connection with others.  So not only do we HAVE to do things other than art, but it’s also ok to spend time doing other things that make you happy.  It doesn’t mean you are less passionate about your work, or that other artists who spend more time on theirs love it more.

And yes, there are deadlines we must work under.  But none of us want to be starving artists. None of us enjoy loosing sleep, eating crappy or skipping meals, working our fingers to the bone, letting friendships fall apart…  These are not good things.  You aren’t a cooler or more a passionate artist for making those sacrifices.  So I think instead of putting that lifestyle on a pedestal, we should be encouraging one another to take time to care for ourselves, and to have a life outside of their work. Just like anyone else doing any other kind of work.  =)

YES. Thank you. It makes me really uncomfortable when I hear professionals saying things like “if you are not drawing 24/7 you’ll never make it”, implying that having outside interests or taking care of yourself means you will fail. You undoubtedly need to be dedicated and focused to succeed as a freelancer, but what is the point of having the so-called freedom that freelancing is supposed to provide you if you can’t even leave your desk every once in a while? Exercise, get outside, socialize, have other hobbies. I’ve found I’m more productive and happier and healthier and more passionate about my work and my career when I take time off, every day, to get away from work for a little while. Building a career is important and rewarding, but your life is not comprised solely of the amount of work you are able do. Your life is not defined solely by how many hours you clock at your work desk.

This mindset is rampant throughout college and even in the professional studio environments too. It’s so sad, I’ve fallen Ill because of it and still have a hard time breaking away. I see many of my peers ruining their bodies and minds too to live up to an ideal of working 24/7.