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 .

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