Category: brainstorming

Book Club: Artist As Brand Part 3 – My Vision Board

My reading of Greg Spalenka’s Artist As Brand continues with section III. Your Vision Board.

I found the book for a great deal on the Nook.
Or you can buy it via my Amazon referral link
and give me a little kickback!
You can also buy direct from the author!

This section focused on another visual brainstorming exercise meant to help you visually map your passions and interests and connect them with products, people, and places.  I found a lot of value in doing this because I have a lot of interests, from video games to art marketing to folklore and beyond!  It’s always so difficult for me to narrow down my projects and focus, which has been a constant challenge for me over the years.

View a larger version of my map here.

I went a little insane and fit as much on the board as I could.  What a crazy web I wove!  The text at the bottom represents the connections I drew with colored lines between my top three activities from the first circle, the products I can produce, and the people and venues I could reach those people through.

That’s a pretty powerful thing to figure out for yourself!  So many of us just throw art out there with no thought put into who that art is meant to resonate with.  Creating with purpose seems a valuable way to focus your time and energies and make your brand more consistent, which is something a lot of novice artists don’t do when they’re first starting out (I’m guilty of it, myself!).

I also made a .psd template, since one wasn’t provided in the book. Feel free to download it here for your own use.

Download the blank template I made here.

As ever, I have left some details of this exercise (such as the explanation of Mind, Body, and Spirit and other instruction) vague on purpose to encourage you to purchase the book.  It’s a really worthwhile read thus far and I would recommend it based on the helpfulness of the exercises I’ve already completed!

Next up, IV.  Plan the Brand
Go on to Part 4. (coming soon!)

The Portfolio Regeneration Project

The main character from
Kushiel’s Dart.

Since Dragon*Con, it’s been a week of cleaning, catching up on work, and riding the tide of inspiration that always comes after taking part of such a large art show full of inspiring people.  The portfolio reviews I received there have my brain in overdrive when it comes to thinking of ways I can get my portfolio up to snuff.  I needed newer work and more of it.  I needed more examples of illustration, book covers, and the kind of work I’d like to do for CCG.

While I have CCG covered by using my own in-progress fantasy novel for inspiration, generating art for the rest didn’t seem as straightforward.  That’s when it hit me.  If I am seeking to do art for fantasy novels, why don’t I do what I’m doing with the fake Magic the Gathering cards and do the same with a novel?  Since my own novel is largely incomplete, I’ve decided to take one of my favorite novels on instead – Kushiel’s Dart by Jacqueline Carey.

With fallen angels, a rich tapestry of unique mythology, masquerade balls, and intricate tattoos, there’re plenty of visuals for me to play with in this novel that are right up my alley!  The plan to generate more portfolio pieces is to re-read this wonderful book and create my own versions of illustrations of my favorite scenes, as well as any character art that comes to mind.  This may include my tries at creating concept art sheets for that career wish of mine to get into concept art for games later on in life once my work is ready.

Finally, after I’ve absorbed the whole book and its themes, I plan to do my own version of the cover art for it.  If all goes well, I will be doing this art generation project with more than one from the Kushiel’s Legacy series, or perhaps other fantasy favorites of mine!

Working from a book which, to date, has no movie adaptation makes it far easier for me to create my own raw original versions without a visual influence.  It also gives me the freedom without the copyright worries, since copyrights for books only cover the text, and not any visual representations.  Even so, I don’t plan to sell whatever art comes from this project without Jacqueline’s blessing first.  It’s main purpose is to freshen up my portfolio and not my own pockets.

The plan is to post sketch collections from this project on this blog, but for those of you who want to keep up with every step and sketch of the Kushiel’s Legacy themed work from this project, you can follow the Kushiel art blog here or its Tumblr counterpart here, which will echo the posts on the Blogger version.  The Kushiel art blog is empty right now, but it won’t be for long!

The old iPad I inherited from my dad has proven an invaluable tool for this ambitious project, as I can add searchable notes to my ebook version of the novel and highlight pages which have physical description for illustration purposes.  The pages are marked, the blank sketchbooks have been acquired, and my drawing fingers are itching!  Let the regeneration of my portfolio begin!

What is your dream illustration project?  What novel would you love to do work for?  Finally, what novel would you love to see me illustrate?  Discuss in comments!

DragonCon 2012 To-Do List

This year is going to be my biggest year yet at DragonCon!  I’ll have a table in the artist alley, a large gallery bay, and a 3D display table in addition to all the rest!  This will also be my first year giving a panel on the basics of leather mask-making (Saturday at 7pm during the con).  I thought it would be a good exercise to share my tentative to-do list for this year’s con just to give everyone an idea of the hecticness.

–  Shoot and edit videos of segments for the mask-making demo.
–  Finish “War Prince” and “Lotus Dancer” paintings.
–  Craft 6 leather masks to add to the displays.
–  Create head displays for masks (touch up ones from last year that are damaged).
–  Double mat 10 art cards and embellish each mat with a themed drawing.
–  Order canvas prints of centerpieces.
–  Order bookmarks (order vinyl sleeves and tassles for bookmarks).
–  Make prints for the print shop and table (what a time to break in a new printer!)
–  Make sure I have enough bags and backing for all the prints.
–  Program barcodes for products at my table. Train with the new scanner between now and Dragoncon.
–  Compile portfolio for black and white interior artwork and full color character art for tabletop game companies.
–  Sign up for portfolio reviews. Still need to research which companies are represented at DragonCon and what kind of art they’re looking for.
–  Make some kind of freebie for any interested AD’s. A sketchbook? Bookmarks? Mini Calendar? Brochure? Not sure yet…

Have a sneak peek of my art gallery panel layout, for the curious:
I almost always lose my layout during setup so it’s nice to have a backup
here on the blog just in case I lose it.

To be honest, I’ve never pursued portfolio reviews at DragonCon before. It’s always been too intimidating and I never felt like I had enough of the right kinds of pieces.  Now, I feel I have a better idea  of what I am trying to be hired for and better work, to boot.  We’ll see, though!  I suspect I will be in for a cold splash of reality, but it’s one I hope that will help me to improve my presentation, overall! I’m also going to experiment with presenting my portfolio on an ipad. Yay for hand-me-down electronics!

So let the mad rush begin! May the coffee flow free and the chocolate be plentiful!

My Anatomy Improvement Wishlist

In an effort to improve problem areas of anatomy, I present to you My Anatomy Improvement Wishlist, or exercises I intend to do involving the following:

  • Hands – I still have problems with fingers at foreshortened angles and the joint of the thumb to hand/wrist.
  • Feet – Less troublesome than hands, but still alien to me in their funkiness.
  • Faces – Specifically various facial expressions and different facial types.  To help me draw people who look diverse instead of like myself. Also concentrating on the planes of the face for better understanding of how varying light defines facial features.
  • Arms – Mostly the construction of the bicep/tricep area. The way these muscles interact baffles me.
  • Man crotches – Don’t laugh!  The way pants and clothing drape over this…complex…area of anatomy always looks too tight or just plain flat and weird the way I draw it currently.
  • Man Waists – To help battle my bad habit of drawing men with feminine waists.

How will I fight these difficult areas of anatomy?  With practice…and chocolate (and coffee)!  I’d like to do the 100 drawings of each exercise and will probably shift my studies of life drawing towards planar breakdowns and contour exercises instead of the usual gesture and shaded drawings I’ve been doing with the Pixelovely tool.  They say you have to draw something, 10,000 times to know it completely by memory. I think I’ll just try 100, for starters.

Once this month is up, I’ll probably dump the best picks from my studies here for you all to see.  In the meanwhile, what areas of anatomy do you all have problems with?  How do you plan on combating your problem anatomy areas?

Stay creative!

The Snowflake Lady – Part 1 – Brainstorming

Lately I’ve been working hard to beat my own procrastination for this year’s Christmas card for my family, friends, and fans. Seems I always get them out late because I always bite off more than I can chew! This year is no different with an image I’m temporarily calling ‘the Snowflake Lady’ (because, well, she’s surrounded by snowflakes and has a very snowy theme? Original, I am not.)

Brainstorming for her began with pondering on just what in particular about the last Christmas cards people liked the most.  Holiday Nouveau (my 2nd Christmas image) has been pegged as the crowd favorite, even after several years of images.  The contrast of crisp lines to soft watercolor and her Mucha-inspired pose, which leaves little white space for us to lag on, stood out to me as things which made her more successful than the others.

And so, a sketch was born!  I wanted to escape the usual green and red themes,but keep the soft stained glass look of past designs that made them so popular.  Snowflake lady emerged from the desire to conjure the delight of silver ribbons, deep wintry nights, and quiet snowfalls.  She would be more elegant than warm, an embodiment of snowy silence and the introspection of the season. (Notice her long sleeves and boot gear! I wanted a winter lady who actually looked like she was dressed halfway appropriate for the weather)

Preliminary thumbnail with fashion sketches.  

Nothing says holidays like fur trim, silver ribbons, heavy velvet, and snowflake tiaras! The full thumbnail came first so I could figure out the movement of her overall pose. The fashion sketches came next to help clarify the details of her outfit from the fuzzy mess of the thumbnail. All done on a single page of my travel 6×9 in. sketchbook in ballpoint pen with no erasing.  Working in pen keeps me from adding too much detail and taking too much time on what is meant to be a very rough idea splurge.

Leather Faces on Parade!

Wow, when you try to make a pun from Phantom of the Opera’s “Masquerade” and leather masks, you end up with disturbing mental images of Leatherface from Chainsaw Massacre dancing a musical number (or perhaps that’s just me?)

Moving on to the point of this entry! I’ve been dabbling a fair amount in leathercraft of late! In a strange twist of fate, dabbling has started to become a part of my business at large, with at least half of my sales at DragonCon from masks I had on display there.  As such, I’ve recently uploaded a flood of masks for Halloween to various online markets. (Just click the thumbnails to see their sale listings)

And if that weren’t enough masks to shake a stick at, I’ve also been invited to the Mechanical Masquerade, a steampunk ball taking place November 6th in an old theater in Avondale Estates.  I’m super excited about attending this event as a vendor and hyped to make all new designs!  I’ve been a little stumped on what to do so far, but I have a feeling that when the dam breaks, I’ll get a rush of inspiration at the very last minute!

Right now I’m brainstorming on how to mix the themes of filigree, keyholes, gears, roses, clockwork, and lace.  Toss that all together and I’m getting mental images of a street-walking Rosie from The Jetsons, but I’m sure it will all gel at some point to inspire some really cool designs (no doubt in the same vein as my Keeper of Secrets mask).  I’m not quite sure I understand the Steampunk movement as it applies to Fashion, so I am looking for reference links here, if you guys have any good ones!

Will I ever get back to painting (or writing, for that matter?) Only time will tell!  For now, I’ve been quietly thumbnailing images for my long forgotten Rapunzel comic at night.  The upcoming Disney retelling of the tale (Tangled) has rekindled my love of the story and my dark retelling of it.

But that is a matter for another entry!