"What Can I Do For You" #2 Patterns for the People!

Between "Stack" and my next story, I want to produce a series of relatively simple "What Can I Do For You" images. I will use them for the "call to action / about me" section of my website and also in a small printed portfolio for marketing and promotion.

I am very interested in licensing my work.  There are millions of products that require decorative art and design.  Single images work great on most products, but sometimes a large area needs to be filled. A repeating pattern can be used for stationary and office supplies, fabric prints, website backgrounds, and more.  Here is an example using a kiwi and a kiwi: 

Advertisements ~ Banners (web and physical) ~ Book cover design / illustration ~ Brochures, pamphlets, etc ~ Business branding ~ Business cards ~ Cd art ~ Character design and Concept art ~ Children’s book illustration ~ Comics ~ Display ~ Game and toy design ~ Greeting cards ~ Licensing for home and office products ~ Logos ~ Magazine Illustration ~ Marketing Campaigns ~ Mascot and Spokes-Character design ~ Murals ~ Online Media and Gaming ~ Original Art for home, office, or business ~ Packaging design ~ Posters ~ Signs ~ Stationary ~ Stickers ~ T-shirt and clothing design ~ Website design ~ and more!!!


Stack Illustration: Sneak Peak of Page 3!

I have had some creative light bulbs flashing overhead. Lot's of fun and cool stuff planned for 2011. I'm ready! I am on track to have the pages from "Stack" done this year, and printed early next year.  Stay tuned for ordering information.  Here's a peak of page 3:


A Page from "A Roar and A Squeak"

Here is another page from my story, "A Roar and A Squeak".  You can order a copy of "8: A Kid's Book Anthology" here:  Indy Planet
Below are some of my thoughts on creative steps and the state of illustration. You can find the responses from the other 8 Anthology contributors here: Artist Q & A

What advice do you have for someone who wants to add more creativity to their life?
 Success (no matter what your creative goals are) does not happen overnight, so get started now. We are lucky to live in a time where we don’t need a huge studio with expensive equipment and supplies to produce quality work.  Save up and invest in a decent “work” computer, a wacom tablet, and some art programs. Look for deals on art supplies and start filling a few art drawers with them.  If you have the space, it is helpful to set up a permanent work area.  You may be surprised by how many tiny bits of time you can find in a day to chop away at a project if it can stay set up and ready to be worked on.
I keep huge idea lists and smaller project lists and give myself deadlines to finish projects. Starting a blog has helped me keep track of my artistic progress and stay motivated and focused. The online art community is full of supportive, helpful, and cool people, and there are tons of opportunities for critique, collaboration, and networking. You can almost create your own art school experience with all the great forums, tutorials, and communities. Get involved! Here is a good place to start:  http://www.illopond.com/   Podcasts have  played a huge role in building my artistic confidence.
How do you balance family, financial obligations, and creative personal projects?
  I do have to work a day job to pay the bills. I try to make the best of it. I keep notebooks/sketchbooks around at all times.  I think through plot problems and brainstorm ideas so I can put "pencil to paper" during the limited time at my art desk.  I listen to tons of art and business related podcasts and audiobooks at work.
Time with my family is my #1 priority. This time generates the vast majority of my ideas. We eat dinner together every night. We read or tell stories every night at bedtime. We talk about the authors and the illustrators. We draw characters from our own stories. We cherish imagination. We have a lot of art supplies for the kids to use. They are encouraged to work on their own projects. We don’t watch much TV, but we do watch lots of movies together. We talk about all the work and creativity that goes into movie production.  When we see something cool (toys, park designs, games, books, clothes, etc.), I try to talk about the design, creativity, and production that goes into it. Spending time with my kids  helps me see the world with artist’s eyes and a wondering mind.
 What is the current state of illustration, and where is it headed? 
Almost everything we see has some element of design and/or illustration to it. From toys, games, books, movies, ads, clothing, packaging, signs, websites, stationary, logos, and decor…It is everywhere. For such a massive presence in our society, I don’t think that artists/illustrators/designers are always appreciated or taken seriously. Here are some pretty hilarious examples of that:  ClientsFromHell.net  Some people understand how much time and effort goes into quality illustration, but many people still think it is a cute little hobby job, and that’s how they want to pay for it.  (see my previous post Caring for and Communicating with Your Artist) Finding the right market/audience/outlet is the key for success.  (and that's not easy!)
Is there a future for print?
I hope so! I love books. I’ve heard talk that my generation may be the last one to appreciate the printed book. There are plenty of kids out there who have full book shelves, and love trips to the library and bookstores. My kids do– I think they always will.
Is learning animation and programming necessary with the increasing demand for interactive media?
 It is impossible to learn every tool and technology.  I believe we should learn as much as we can, but focus on a few areas that we love and do those “awesomely”. 
How do you stay motivated when you see so many fantastic artists struggle, and “less professional” artists work for next to nothing?
Spec work and world economies make it incredibly difficult to earn a living wage as an illustrator. It is a competitive field that is full of awesome talent.  It’s not ever easy. When I’m not feeling great about my professional progress, I try to remember how much I enjoy creating and look back at my finished work. I always hope that someone else “gets it”, but I do this “just for me”, too. 
What are the most important things we can do right now to be relevant in 10 years?
Work on projects that we truly love and truly believe in. Stay informed and educated. Build deep and lasting relationships. Value children and teach value to children.
What are some of you influences and/or inspirations?
I am a pretty big fan of horror. I love horror movies from the Universal films to modern classics like The Devil’s Backbone. I especially love classic horror tales by M.R. James, Poe, Lovecraft, Ambrose Bierce, Saki, and all those old gruesome fairy tales. 
"Art of..." concept books are a HUGE influence for me.  I love the media experimentaion, the sketchy lines, and the variations that never became part of the finished work.
It is my opinion that the best artwork in the world is found in children’s books. I can (and do) spend hours and hours flipping through illustrated books for kids. Very inspiring stuff.  Three of my favorite artists are Charley Harper, Pascal Campion, and Chris Ayers .


Stuck Illustration: Mooo?

I haven't received any questions about whether or not a cow will play a significant role in Stack.  The answer is no.   She has a part in Stuck.


The Stack anteater started his career posing for cheesy Valentine's Day cards in the early 1990's.  "Those were crazy times." he said.

Stack Illustration: What an Anteater Does Best


The Arrival

Here is an early sketch for one of next year's short stories.  It will be a 1950's style sci-fi romp with a Twilight Zonesque twist.  Ughh! I've been reading too many badly written reviews lately.  

Turkey, Pilgrims, and Zombies!

We had a great Thanksgiving. I am so thankful for the wonderful people in my life.  I am especially thankful for my wife, who puts up with my cuckoo crazy mind and tries to understand my urgent need to empty it.

I am the proud father of probably the coolest 5 year old in the whole world.  She knows who Cthulhu is.  She likes the 1931 Frankenstein.  And the subject she chose for our Thanksgiving sketch was Zombies.  Here are our drawings:
This is mine.
This is my nephew's. I especially like how the leg rotted off.

And this is my daughter's.  A pretty dynamic pose for a 5 year old.

My niece made a funny save the turkey sign. No zombie turkeys, though. She is writing and illustrating a book. Here are some of her character designs:

She is starting to learn about digital coloring.  I think she will have a finished book in 2011! Very cool.


Prana Electric II

Here's the Prana design with some of the suggested changes.

Prana Electric

A design option for a friend's new company.


Stack Illustration: Otter Games

"What Can I Do For You" #1 Stack: the game of animal stacking

Between "Stack" and my next story, I want to produce a series of relatively simple "What Can I Do For You" images.  I will use them for the "call to action / about me" section of my website and also in a small printed portfolio for marketing and promotion.

There are thousands of applications for artwork, illustration, and design.  As a creative entrepreneur (Does that sound better than freelancer?...I think so.), I have to show my potential customers the benefits that good art and design will bring to their business, product, project, etc.   By showing some examples of my art in context, a client can see potential solutions for their needs, and have a clear understanding of the value that I bring to their project. 

Advertisements ~ Banners (web and physical) ~ Book cover design / illustration ~ Brochures, pamphlets, etc ~ Business branding ~ Business cards ~ Cd art ~ Character design and Concept art ~ Children’s book illustration ~ Comics ~ Display ~ Game and toy design ~ Greeting cards ~ Licensing for home and office products ~ Logos ~ Magazine Illustration ~ Marketing Campaigns ~ Mascot and Spokes-Character design ~ Murals ~ Online Media and Gaming ~ Original Art for home, office, or business ~ Packaging design ~ Posters ~ Signs ~ Stationary ~ Stickers ~ T-shirt and clothing design ~ Website design ~ and more!!!


I'd like to meet his tailor

Do you remember that time your boyfriend said that he had a big secret to tell you, and you thought he was going to propose to you?  Silly girl.

Stack Illustration: Oh No! The TIGER!!!


An Illustration from 'Stack'

Here is an illustration from 'Stack'.  I've decided to use a loose and energetic style for the final artwork.  I liked the clean vector-style character tests, but I think this story works better if the reader can see the "hand" behind the illustrations.

I have been reading  a lot of "Art of..." books lately.  (some of my favorites are "The Art of The Lion King", "The Art of How to Train Your Dragon", and Chris Ayers' "The Daily Zoo")  The concept art for the character, set, and prop designs are totally fascinating to me.  I love seeing the sketchy lines, media experimentation, and style tests.  I love how alive concept art and storyboards feel.  I hope to bring this loose and experimental style to "Stack", while keeping a purposeful feel and professional quality to the book's design.


Bedroom Eyes

One crouched in a tenebrous corner of the bedroom. The thing's arms and legs were too long and it wrapped them around its scrawny body. Its bulbous head was covered in tiny bumps and valleys. It was the color, texture, and smell of rotten cauliflower. Two glossy black marble eyes were fixed on the end of fleshy stalks that protruded from each side of the head.  Four more beady eyes glared forward into the darkness.  A huge gaping mouth filled with needle teeth stretched across the whole lower half of the foot wide head.  It was tangled mess on the verge of pouncing.

 And it cackled. 


Slug Love or Slime Time

Aww. Two slugs found love! This is going to be gross.

I have a really cool promotional project that I'm excited to get started. First, I have to finish 'Stack'. I need some little elves that come out at night and finish my projects for me.  What makes shoemakers so special?


The Gargoyle Goblin

The Gargoyle Goblin is a character from Morgan MonsterHunter & the Crypto Kid.  In this story,  he threatens to devour Morgan's pet mouse, Fuzzbutt.  In the end, Morgan tricks the Gargoyle Goblin into a eating a zhu zhu pet, leaving Fuzzbutt safe and happy.  

Yes,  much of this plot came from a 5-year old's head.


Dude, seriously.

I've been told that I say "Dude, seriously..." a lot.  I want to finish about 12 stories before the end of 2010, but dude, seriously - that ain't happening.  "Stack / Stuck" will be finished this year...but not by my original goal of Nov.1.  The early stages of a project are so fun and full creativity, that I sometimes forget how much time and work is required to actually finish the project.  Head to paper is ...S...L...O...W...!   My realistic goal for "Stack" is to have the pencils done by Nov. 1 and the colors done by Dec. 1.  Ok?  Ok.  Dude, seriously, get back to work.


Story-time's ready! Y'all come and get it! 8: A Kid's Book Anthology is AVAILABLE NOW!

You can check out the website that I made to promote the book here:  8: A Kid's Book Anthology

There you will find:

  •  pages from each of the stories

  •  artist interviews

  •  links and contact information for all of the contributors

  •  the link to the Indy Planet page where you can purchase your copy of  "8"

  •  the link to Illopond.com where you can join us on upcoming collaborations


Style Test for 'Stack'

I am thinking of switching the art style of "Stack".  I love the vector look from previous posts, but I can be much more efficient with my time if I use a technique that I'm more comfortable with.  I want to produce a steady flow of books...I am already anxious to get started on the next one.  I will use that vector style in a book someday, but for now I'm leaning pretty heavily towards the sketchy / digital watercolor style above. 


Aim High!

You may recognize the little hamster on the right from a previous post: Designing a New Character   He is the main character from "Stack".  His little friend on the left is the main character from "Stuck".  You'll see.

I'm thinking of having these printed up as bookmarks for the finished book.



My almost two year old son MUST smell the bag of coffee after we grind it at the store and when we pour it into the coffee maker at home.  I understand...sometimes you just have to stop and smell the coffee.


The Porcupine

I have had little to no time to work on personal projects for a looong time. Frustrating.  I still want to finish "Stack" by Nov.1st...but I've lost about 3 or 4 weeks of production.  It is important for me to take this deadline seriously, though...or why even bother giving myself one.

The porcupine is another character from "Stack".  Here's a promo poster from his band: The Porcupines. (They're not very good.)


8: A Kid's Book Anthology

Off to the printer! The kid's book anthology that I have a story in should be available by November.  It is being printed by Ka-Blam and distributed through Indy Planet .  I will post information on how YOU can get your very own copy of this SUPER HIGH QUALITY book when a definitive release date is confirmed.

I am so proud to be included in this anthology.  The artwork and storytelling is outstanding.  This book is more than just stories, though.  It is an example of  independent spirit and collaborative motivation coming together in a productive way.  We all worked very hard on this project and we have an awesome book to show for that effort.  It is my belief that the future of creative art and storytelling will be largely independent and collaborative. 

If you are interested in taking that next step in your creative life, I urge you to get involved in creative communities.  Ben Powis, who's story "Hoot!"appears in the anthology, created  Illopond .  This is the forum we used to organize and communicate during the production of "8".   We have opened that project thread to the public, so you can see our process and development and hopefully join up and/or start a collaborative project of your own.  I think it would be totally awesome for the illopond to be the meeting place for dozens of independent collaborative projects every year!  (There is already talk for Anthology 2.)

I want give a HUGE "Thank you!" to Christpher Tupa for organizing this project and inviting me to take part.   I will post some more in-depth information about Christopher and the rest of the contributors in the near future.  In the meantime, check out their websites to see some of their awesome work!

Mark Harmon
Sam Kirkman
Michelle Kondrich
Craig Pirrall
Ben Powis
Christopher Tupa
Lee Wiley