Friday, November 28, 2008

Velociraptor with All the Fixin's

UPDATE: I decided this post was perfect for the current Illustration Friday topic, Similar.

I'm doing a lot of research on dinosaurs for a book series I'm illustrating. Theories about dinosaurs are constantly changing, but one idea that seems to have gained consensus is that birds evolved (or devolved) from meat-eating dinosaurs.

When I was eating my turkey this year, I kept thinking about the similarities between a Butterball and a Tyrannosaurus Rex. My mind wandered to a parallel universe where folks eat Velociraptors for Thanksgiving.

Happy Holidays everyone!

And to all you vegetarians, I apologize for this gruesome post–I hope you enjoyed your Tofurky!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Holiday Card

Here's a detail from the Holiday card I'll be sending out soon.  I had been on the fence about whether or not to do a card this year. I'm really busy with the dinosaur books and I always question if a promo has any chance of making an impression during the craziness of The Season.

Then I remembered my brother-in-law's rehearsal dinner back in July. Uncle Dave, acting as MC, introduced me to the room by saying "everyone here needs to get on this guy's mailing list because his Christmas cards ROCK!"

That was nice to hear because I wondered if my wife's extended family thought my Holiday cards were deranged–and by extension perhaps I was deranged. Admittedly, my cards are often on the dark side.

So, this card might end up lost in a sea of holiday cheer at publishing houses around the country, BUT Uncle Dave will hang it on his fridge–and that's pretty cool!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Hurray for Dinosaurs!

This photo of me and T. Rex was taken at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History in DC a few years back. I'm posting this photo now because I'm currently illustrating a series of dinosaur books! The project is extensive and lots of fun!  It's now my job to research dinosaurs, watch Jurassic Park movies and buy dinosaur toys (more about toys in a future post).

And here's an adorable photo of my wife posing with the same T. Rex a couple decades ago.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Art Talk

Recently I spoke to a class at the Monsterrat College of Art in Beverly, Massachusetts. Fellow illustrator Nathan Walker, an instructor at the school, invited me to speak to his Illustration 1 class. Public speaking is not one of my favorite activities, but I was honored to be asked; and I figured I've been doing this long enough that I've accrued some wisdom!

Nate assured me the class was small and informal.  Rather than prepare a speech, I gathered my portfolio (along with lots of preliminary sketches) and headed to class.

The school is charming! It's housed in a cool historic nineteenth-century brick building that looks like a classic high school. Before the class I wandered the halls and absorbed the familiar sights: a room filled with easels, rows of cubbies with enough space for large oil paintings, a naked man posing in front of a throng of students - ah, memories!

The aim of my presentation was to share my process. I showed the class examples from each stage of an illustration, from rough thumbnails to finished art. Creating an illustration is rarely a linear journey. My process involves searching and experimenting to find the composition, the character, the pose, the color. Rarely does my first stab at an illustration resemble the final product.

What do I wish someone had told me when I was in art school?--That's the question my wife suggested I contemplate while preparing for this talk.

I wish someone had said it's okay to emulate other artist's work. I avoided studying and learning from other artists because I thought it was "cheating." I've come around to the realization that I can learn a lot from other illustrators and artists without polluting my integrity! 

BB King was asked how he found his style of guitar playing and he answered--and I'm paraphrasing here--I was trying to imitate my guitar heroes but fell short–that's where my style came from.

And similarly, in the words of Stephen Sondheim from Sunday in The Park with George:

Just Keep Moving On
Anything you do
Let it come from you
Then it will be new
Give us more to see…

UPDATE: After further thought, this Sondheim quote, out of context, sounds a bit trite. I assure you, in context, it's wicked profound and life-changing.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Lemonade Girl

This is an illustration I did for a local insurance company. The ad copy makes the case that the right insurance coverage can help you turn lemons into lemonade (how sweet is that?).

This was painted digitally using Photoshop with a Wacom tablet. And here are three of the ads in the series: