Sunday, February 27, 2011

1st Illustration Friday - "Swarm"

This is my interpretation for this week's Illustration Friday word: Swarm. I'd like to begin doing IF every week. It's fun and good practice!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Just Have Fun!

With so much information rattlin' around my noggin' since the conference, I've been stressed lately. There are so many things that must be done in order to become successful! I must begin social networking! Finish a story! Learn how to create Apps for the Apple and Android market! Improve my style! This morning I took a walk by town lake and meditated. While doing so, I realized that all this worry about calculating my moves and becoming successful is making my life miserable. If I'm not making art for the LOVE of it, why even bother? Who cares about success if you're miserable? You only get one life, wouldn't you rather spend it being happy?

At the conference I found myself comparing my work to others, judging my art for it's lack of anatomical correctness or general "sloppiness". Consequently when I returned home to draw I began tightening up my lines, trying to make the forms look "right". Nothing kills my creativity more than trying to make things look "right". Heck, trying at all is detrimental to my work!! It's when I let go of all preconceived notions and allow myself to have fun watching the lines spill onto the page - that's when I produce art that I'm happy with.

Although I do admire artwork that is tight and clean, I have to remember that that's simply not me. The strength of my style lies in it's looseness and immediacy. And who's gonna tell Quentin Blake or Shel Silverstein they can't draw? Only a fool, that's who! Today I drew this cityscape. And yeah, the perspective is inconsistent and the colors could be better, but you know what? I had a fun doing it. So all you voices in my head can GO TO HELL!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Conference Lessons --- Part One: The E-volution

Ego aside, the 2011 Austin SCBWI conference was very important. This event, thanks to the wonderful guest speakers, helped me shift my thinking and open my mind. My brain has been buzzing ever since with the excitement of new possibilities.

I thank Editor Stephen Roxburgh for destroying my anti-technology bias. Stephen gave a very interesting talk about the future of the book industry, which, with the advent of e-books, is in transition and uncertain. Firstly, e-books are here, says Stephen, and their popularity is growing exponentially with the explosive sales of Kindles, iPads, and smart phones. He was blunt: your opinion on these developments is about as relevant as your opinion on the weather - the forecast calls for e-books whether you like it or not. Stephen sympathized with all of us who love our hardcovers and paperbacks (he does too), but pointed out that the next generation, children growing up right now, are primarily reading on screens and will not have the emotional connection to physical books like we do. And that's okay, because when we love a book we're loving the content, not the format. He said loving physical books is akin to loving the paper cup you drank your morning coffee in.

This is good news for us Authors and Illustrators! It means your craft is still what's important! It also means less constraints. You know that old 32-page-picture-book rule? It's a relic of the past. According to Mr. Roxburgh, technology creates options, and the future belongs to the adventurous.

Monday, February 21, 2011

SCBWI... Conference... Yadda, yadda... whatever.

So the big Austin SCBWI conference was this weekend, and man did it suck. Not the conference itself - it was fine - but my experience of the conference, for which I had very high expectations. Let's go back a moment and revisit last year. 2010. My first professional conference. I walk in scared, timid, and green as the grass which waves in spring. My "portfolio" was scant, I had no expectations. About mid-day one of the guest speakers, Mr. Mark McVeigh (an agent in New York with extensive publishing experience), approches me and compliments my work. We briefly chat and he hands me his card. "Holy horse turds," I thought, "I've been discovered my very first try!"

The encounter was ultimately fruitless (for reasons I won't go into), but nonetheless had been tremendously encouraging, and perhaps set me up to expect a certain level or recognition at these events. This weekend that recognition did not come; I was not appreciated by industry professionals, nor did I win 1st, 2nd, or 3rd place in the portfolio contest. Overall I was disappointed since I feel my work has improved enormously over the past year.

But this is just my injured ego talking, and that's okay - I'm not going to pretend it doesn't exist. I'm gonna whine and sulk and throw my spaghetti at the wall. After that, I'm going to blog about all the GOOD which came from this conference, from which I did learn a lot. So stay tuned.

"Blue Period"
Unappreciated portfolio piece, consequently how I feel. 

Friday, February 4, 2011

Snow in Texas!?

How dare winter poke its frigid nose into my warm winter home! Actually, it's pretty neat. It very rarely snows in Austin; this is the first time it's happened since I moved here almost 4 years ago.

It was especially exciting for Austin's children, many whom have quite possibly never seen snow. There was a buzz in my neighborhood as people made snowmen, had snowball fights, and slid down hills. Of course in Texas, snow sleds are as hard to come by as an Inuit's access to bikinis, but the kids made due.

It was also Brutus's first time seeing fresh snow. He liked it a lot. He even got into the snowball fights! Below you can see him throwing a snowball at Allison!

Gonna start blogging more art related stuff soon. Austin's annual SCBWI conference is February 19th, and I've been working to get a knockout portfolio together. Been more stressful than fun so far - hopefully I can change that dynamic coming down the home stretch.