Monday, August 30, 2010

The State of the Union, Part 5

If I had to illustrate one book for the rest of my life:
It would have to be The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas. For one thing, it’s so long it would probably take the rest of my life to illustrate the entire thing, but besides that, the plot is extremely riveting and had me sucked in from the very beginning. I also think it would be a great challenge to illustrate Dantes’ years in prison, his change in personality and growth of skills. I can see the scenes of revenge in my head, especially the sword fighting finale, so full of dynamic movement that if executed right it would look to be ripped out of the catalog of N.C. Wyeth. It is such a powerful tale of betrayal, love, and revenge and I would love to attempt to capture all of those themes in picture. Overall, I would pick this book because there is just so much to choose from in terms of plot points, personalities, and relationships that it would leave me busy for a lifetime.

If I could apprentice with any two artists in the history of the world:
Number one on my list would have to be Walt Kelly. Why—because I bow to that man’s line work. It is absolutely stunning the versatility he was able to get out of a brush and a little black liquid. In one panel he could make ten different textures happen so smoothly that pointing out the hierarchy of objects within the panel would become elementary. I would also love to pick his brain on how he came up with his satire, how he created so much wit and response to it with just a possum. I also am interested in the difference between creating comics shorts vs. full 24 or 32 page comics. I would learn from him how to pick the precise moments in the scene to make the comic flow like 8 pages worth of action.

Second would probably be Chuck Jones. Just looking at how many iconic characters he created—Michigan J. Frog, Roadrunner, Wile E. Coyote, Marvin Martian, Porky Pig, Daffy Duck, Bugs Bunny—makes me want to meet him. I would love to learn more about stylization from him and how to make absurdity work as comedy. Bugs and the gang are still relevant some 50 and 60 years later! I would love to have that kind of a character, and I believe he would be the perfect man to learn how to accomplish that. I mean, who wouldn’t want to storyboard an episode of the Looney Tunes?

If I was banned from the art world and could have any other job:
I would do stand-up comedy. Why? No dress code. Period. And that means I still get to wear my hats. Actually, I seem to do a pretty good job of making people laugh, and well, it makes extremely happy when I do. I love putting smiles on peoples faces, so why not take that act on the road? I’d get to see all of this country and maybe several others throughout my career all while making sure people have a good time. Also, stand-up is another outlet where, when done well, one can express one’s observations of what’s wrong in the world and hopefully drive people to do something about it. Plus, my work schedule would be one hour a day. How cool is that!? (I know I’m exaggerating the last part, but why not throw in a tiny little joke with a comedy paragraph?)
Design an art project with the following parameters:

1. One month, one-thousand dollars:
I'll admit, when I first saw these questions, it was tough for me to come up with any answers. I don't know how logical they all will be, but I'm going to give it my best. With this set of limitations I would probably do a large scale painting. There is a part of me that has always wanted to do a life-size portrait of one of my favorite musicians. I don't know who I would pick to do it, but the canvas and really nice paints and brushes would certainly take up a lot of the costs. Also, after the piece was completed, I would hang in my house so when you entered it would be in your periphery and when you turn to the left it will come into full view. I don't know why, I just think that scenario sounds cool.

2. Six months and ten thousand dollars:
My first thought on this one was a large scale mural. It would probably be on the side of a building and the subject would definitely not be LeBron James (sorry, Cleveland, but it was too easy). I also thought it would be funny to make it a comic mural, however I don't know how funny it would be after the tenth time you drive by it, so it would probably be a single scene of something. I do want you to be able to drive by it, chuckle, and move on with your day with a smile on your face. I just had the thought that since we are in Memphis I could do Elvis at that poker table full of dogs and call the thing "The Original Hound Dog." I know, it's a little weak, but I never said these ideas were brilliant.
3. One year and one hundred thousand dollars:
You know the MetLife blimp? With Snoopy on it? Well, I want to make a Foo Foo blimp. I realize how random this idea is, but I think it would be cool. Foo Foo painted on the side of a blimp with a pilot helmet on and Stevie waving at everyone below. I guess I would design it digitally and then how to transfer the image onto an actual blimp is where I get stuck. However, presentations seems pretty cut and dry here...we fly this sucker! I certainly think it might take that long if I did it some old fashioned way. But I could tour the world in a blimp, which sounds pretty cool to me.

The State of the Union, Post 4

Illustrators Whose Work I Admire:

1. Jeff Smith (Graphix, DC Comics, Cartoon Books)

2. Walt Kelly (Disney Studios, Dell Comics, Hall Syndicate)

3. Pablo Lobato (Rolling Stone, Time, NY Daily News, TV Guide, etc.)

4. Michael Schwab (Nike, MLB, U.S. National Parks, Amtrak, TCM)

5. Patrick Arrasmith (Random House, Scholastic, Forbes, Reader’s Digest, NY Times, Boston Globe)

6. Stephen Bliss (Rockstar Games, MTV, Sony, Pepsi)

7. Stan Gorman (Nissan, Dow Chemicals, Mattel, Virgin Interactive, Disneyland)

8. Jay Stephens (Exclaim! Magazine, Nickelodeon Magazine, Scholastic, Animated Series for NBC and Cartoon Network)

9. John Royle (Marvel, DC Comics, ESPN, GQ, Reader’s Digest)

10. Ian Marsden (MAD Magazine, The New Yorker, Coca-Cola, Universal Music Group, Google)


10 Magazines I Would Like to Work For:
1. The Progressive (Nick Jehlen, Phuoung Luu)
2. Under the Radar (Wendy Redfern)
3. Baseball America (Sara McDaniel)
4. Sports Illustrated (Dominic Aratari)
5. MAD (Sam Viviano)
6. Oxford American (Tom Martin)
7. Esquire (Darhil Cooks, Stravinski Pierce, Soni Khatri, Steve Fusco)
8. Skeptic (Pat Linse)
9. Psychology Today (Katherine Bigelow)
10. The Believer (Heidi Julavits, Ed Park, Vendela Vida)

If I started my own magazine:
This is certainly a tough question. I believe as far as subject matter, it would have to revolve around music. I know that is a broad topic, so I will narrow it down my saying my magazine would focus on delving into music theory, song structures, and the history of songwriting. It is a vast topic that I believe could keep me occupied into eternity. I would love to be a better songwriter, and what better way than to make myself work on it for my entire life?

As far as writers, I wouldn't go for the "edgy" Rolling Stone of Spin type of journalist, but rather approach it from a more scholastic side. I would definitely use songwriting professors and try to get interviews with songwriters who have certainly made a name for themselves in the industry.

As far as appearance, I would probably like it to resemble the look of American Songwriter in terms of color palette. It has what I would call a rustic-modern look to it, sleek yet paying homage to tradition. Therefore, I would probably look for artists who approach their work the same way, combining pristine linework with worn textures. I would of course include some comic strips poking fun at songwriting because it's fun to pull out a corny music joke every once and a while (Don't be flat, be natural! Is this thing on?).

American Songwriter website
10 Non-magazine clients I would like to work for (in no particular order):
Major League Baseball
Green Bay Packers
Nashville Predators
Montgomery Biscuits
Scholastic Books
Whitney English
Crane & Co.
General Mills

Each little group of clients has a different reason for why I chose them. The sports related ones (#1-4) are obviously from my love of sports. The Packers are my favorite sports team, so why wouldn't I want to work for them? As far as the Predators and Biscuits, I chose them because I love their logos and would love to work with manipulations of them as well as designing around them (pics below). I chose Scholastic Books because I believe working on children's books would be a really fun experience. I'll be honest. I enjoy putting a warm, fuzzy feeling into a reader and what better place to do that than in a children's book? Whitney English and Crane & Co. are 2 of the biggest stationery tycoons in the country. I had an internship at a paperie last spring and really loved the chance to combine illustration and graphic design in a single project. I would love to be able to do that for a nationally known company. I then chose General Mills and Kellogg's because their cereal boxes and such are littered with illustrations, usually geared towards children. That area would be another outlet for me to work with childish, humorous illustrations and I think I would enjoy it.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

The State of the Union, Post 3

My Typical Creative Process:
When I first get an assignment, I immediately start trying to brainstorm compositions. I usually come up with a quick 3 or 4 and jot them down as a thumbnail. After the long process of dumping every idea into a thumb I can think of is over, I usually have 2 or 3 standouts. From there I get feedback from my peers and then sort of take the consensus and draw up the picture full size. If there are any objects in the piece I am not very familiar with drawing, I usually go and grab a couple images of them off the Internet or take some photos myself to have by my side as I draw the final piece.

Most of the time now I ink over my line art once it is finished and then scan the image into Photoshop, where all the coloring and additional values are added. I will usually drop in flat colors first, then if I want to use any textures, those go in second. After that I add value either in a painterly way with low opacity brushes, or in a more traditional comics style way with darker tones of the flat colors involved. The last touch is a few highlights and then voila! The piece is finished.

What Creative Process Should Be Like:
I think the main thing my creative process should contain is some more experimenting. I should probably get a little more feedback as I am coloring the piece and even advice on new methods of coloring to try. I also think I should experiment more with some textures than I do. I also get very monotonous in the thumbnail process, so I should probably try to search my mind for my ideas during that part. I tend to get stuck on a composition or theme and run with it for like 10-15 of the thumbs. Basically, I think I should take a few more calculated risks with the coloring, maybe do a little more written brainstorming before I thumbnail, and look for a little more feedback from fresh eyes in the sketch process.

A Professional Creator’s Creative Process:
The one whose process immediately comes to mind for me would be Bob Dylan, and that is because I recently finished reading about it. For him, creativity always starts in writing. He will sit in front of a notebook or computer and just type/write away, rambling on for pages and pages (for example, “Like A Rolling Stone” was originally 40 verses long). Then after a while he will go away and come back and see what he wrote. At this point, he probably has a melody in his head he wants to use and he will see if any of the words fit that melody. If they do, he proceeds to write the song. If they don’t, he will try and make long lines fit short musical phrasings until it won’t work and then he may just start the process over.

Also, another process that came to mind was Chris Gall's. I interviewed him a year ago on how he created his book Dinotrux. He said he started by basically being inspired by a traffic jam one day and going "Hey, what if dinosaurs were trucks?". Then he went home and wrote a story based around that subject (His process usually starts as "I wanna write a story about (black)" and from their the brainstorming begins). It took him a few months to narrow the story down to its format (somewhere around 250-500 words). From there he went to sketching all the characters and then the scenes to be depicted in the book. He drew and drew and drew until they were ready to be scanned in and colored in Photoshop. Then the book was laid out and long story short he's got his book in the works to be made by Pixar. Quite a nice deal if I do say so.

Great Site about the Book

Saturday, August 28, 2010

The State of the Union, Post 2

My favorite piece is this Foo Foo strip I created over this past summer. My main reason? Because it still makes me laugh. Besides that, I think in this piece I actually start to have a grasp on the traditional comics digital coloring style that I have been trying to get into recently. I think the colors work well together, the gradations and textures are subtle yet present; and that the humor, as it should be, is the star of the show. In short, I think it’s my most successful Foo Foo.

The piece that I believe others like most is this photo collage I created in Illustration 4 depicting a scene from the myth of Heracles. I have to say it is one of my favorites as well. I believe they like it because for once I got a lot of different textures to show through in this piece and the values work pretty seamlessly. Also, the composition is very powerful with the Heracles looking into the distance at his former home.

To be honest, the piece above is also the one that surprised me the most. Well, it and the other photo piece I did with it (seen below). This is because I never expected to have so much fun with either of them. I had never worked with photos before in a project, and it was just a real joy to get these results. The thing that shocked me the most was just how easy it was to manipulate them and make them do what I wanted to create some very wonderful affects.

5 Sketches I like as much as my finished pieces:

Friday, August 27, 2010

The State of the Union, Post 1

Media I like to work in:
Pencil, Ink, Digital (Both Coloring and Inking) and scratchboard the one time I tried it

Media I hate working in:
Acrylics because I can never get the exact colors I want, and textures are hard for me to achieve. I also do not like working in ink wash. I can just never get the values to flow seamlessly into each other.

Media I would like to try:
I think I’d have to go out on a limb and say I’d love to try a 3-D illustration. I had an idea to do a papercraft one that never came to fruition over the summer, but I’d love to try something with models and such and then photograph it to become my illustration. I just think some really cool stuff could come from it.

Three non-Illustration classes that have influenced me postively:
1. 2-D Design. I know it’s a class from a time that seems long ago now, but that was my first taste of really digging into how to layout a powerful composition. My professor Elvis pushed me all semester long to get better and go bolder, and it paid off. The concepts I learned in that class have been paying dividends ever since in hundreds and hundreds of thumbnails all the way to final compositions
2. Sound Acquisition and Editing. You’re probably wondering what sound has to do with drawing. Well, I was the illustrator with a side hobby of writing music that snuck into a class more geared towards animators. Therefore, as a bonus, I got to see a lot of animations while in that class and picked up on a lot of their styles of work. This drove me to try and be a little more stylistic and graphical with my work.
3. Intro to Computer Graphics. It was my first taste of the digital art world and I absolutely fell in love with Photoshop and Illustrator in this class. It allowed me to stumble out of the starting blocks and then catch my balance in Design Systems 1 & 2 before really starting to hone in my skills today.

Influence of my peers:
I think the biggest influence my peers have had on me is to push me to get really good at digital work. I saw what everyone in my class was doing digitally and I just wanted to do it. I wanted to know “How do you make that texture do that?” and “What brush do you use to make it look so painterly?”. I was really impressed by what everyone else could do on that digital box of wonder and since then I’ve been striving to get that good.

Subject matter I like to create work about:
The subject I have been most interested in recently has been my cartoon, Foo Foo. I’ve been experimenting with developing him and his Nephew Stevie and their interactions with the world and each other over the summer. Outside of that, I would love to be able to do some more work based around sports. Sports logos were the first thing to spark my interest in art. I

Subject matter I like to read about:
I love dystopia novels. I’m also a huge music geek, so I equally love biographies of my favorite artists. I also like a humor books by my favorite comedians based on a satirical view of the way we live. I have also recently been delving into some graphic novels that deal with interesting twists on the kid adventure theme.

The kind of music I like:
When it comes to music, I’m a lot more all over the place that most people think. However, my four favorites would have to be, in no particular order: Aerosmith, Bob Dylan, Michael Jackson, and Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers. The main reason, after the fact that their songs are flat-out amazing, is that they represent this “cool factor” for me. They can dress, act, and talk in a way I won’t ever be able to. As far as trying to just name genres I’d have to go with classic rock (60’s-80’s), singer/songwriters, and I have a big soft spot in my heart for ballads of all genres. Where my guitar driven rock lets me just sort of unleash adrenaline, my softer stuff allows me to kind of escape reality and pretty much enter a meditative state. But as I said I am all over the place, so a few bands from my odds n’ ends would include the Commodores, They Might Be Giants, Lou Reed, the Gin Blossoms, Roy Orbison, Hall & Oates, and the Spin Doctors.

Non-art related hobbies/interests/skills:
I am an avid songwriter and I play the guitar and piano. I also enjoy hiking, biking, and swimming. My big interest is obviously sports, particularly football, baseball, hockey, and college basketball. I mean, I can tell you what ESPN stands for goodness sake. I’m also big into bowling, with my highest game ever being a 284 this April.

Something I Like that Nobody Else Likes:
I’m probably the only heterosexual male on the planet that thinks Extreme’s “More than Words” is absolutely beautiful, but as a more serious answer I would have to say broccoli. I think that stuff is great.

If I had the run of the world’s museums, the three original works of art I would like to own are:
1. The Raft of the Medusa by Theodore Gericault
2. Untitled (1969) brass boxes by Donald Judd
3. Any original Pogo strip (by Walt Kelly, of course)