Friday, August 21, 2015

An apology to children artists

Dear Child Artists of the World,

I apologize.  On May 5, 2015 I shared my love of art made by children on this blog.  But then I completely belittled the genre by expressing my embarrassment about my love.  I realized my mistake this week while reading "Drawing for Older Children & Teens" by Mona Brookes.

In the book, Brookes sets artists up for success in the first chapter by explaining that many people need to let go of their preconceptions about judging art because their criteria in most cases is irrelevant.  Whoa! I have been using absurd comparisons to judge art and never realized it before.

For example, back when I created solely vector art I used to say, "I wish I was an oil painter instead of a vector artist because the best vector art will never be as good as the best oil painting."  I see now that comparison is completely absurd and led to unnecessary feelings of inferiority.  It's like saying the best apple will never be as good as the best orange.  Or the best football player will never be as good as the best baseball player.  You can't compare and so you shouldn't.  When these comparisons are made genre's of art, sports, fruit, etc. are disregarded.  I am guilty of disregarding the medium of vector art and children's art in this way.

This book is really good so far.  I've only read the first 11 pages but already a huge weight of judgement has been been lifted off my shoulders and I have a new appreciation of all art genres.  This is definitely going to help me be more realistic in judging my own work and keep me from backing myself into a judgement corner where no art is good enough. 

I'm going to keep reading and I'll let you know if I have any more epiphanies. 

Below is a drawing I did as a child.  I LOVE this drawing FYI. 

Here is a scribble project (the first project in the above mentioned book) completed by me this week.  It is really relaxing to put medium to paper and not be concerned one iota what the outcome will look like.  And as far as scribbles go I think it's pretty cool.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Pencil Sharpener!

Woo hoo!  I just bought a new pencil sharpener and I'm really excited.  Whew, I've never said that before but I really am excited.  I really wanted the Panasonic kp4A because everyone recommends it but I think it's discontinued.  Actually I think it's been discontinued since like 2009 because that was the most recent discussion of pencil sharpeners for colored pencils I could find on the internet.  I guess it's not a hot topic of discussion, surprisingly.  Or not.  Anyway, I found A LOT of reviews on Dick Blick and decided to go with the Bostitch QuietSharp6 Classroom Pencil Sharpener.  People love this thing!  Like sleep with it on their pillow love.  Okay, maybe not but they did give it 4.5 stars and that was good enough for me.  I'll let you know if I like it or not.  And if you see me in public with pencil shavings squashed on my face, now you'll know why.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

How having two art styles is like having two medium piles of dirt

Is it possible to build an art career and have two art styles? This is a question I hear asked a lot by students and people starting in the industry.  I've come up with a clear cut answer as to why you should strive to only have one style.  It's because having two art styles is like having two medium piles of dirt.

When talking about art it is easy to get bogged down with words like talent and who-you-know and agents and luck and right-time-right-place and location.  It seems impossible to compare the careers of two artists  So when answering questions about art I like to break it down, way down.  Instead of saying "creating art" say "digging a pile of dirt."  You will be surprised how quickly the truth becomes clear.  So let's try it with having two styles.

I want to have a wonderful flourishing art career.  I want to be one of the best in my industry.  I want lots of people to notice my work.  Should I have two art styles or concentrate on one?  Okay, here we go: I want to dig a giant pile of dirt.  I want to have the biggest pile of dirt in the my industry.  I want lots of people to notice my giant pile of dirt.  Should I dig two piles of dirt or concentrate on one?  Well now it's obvious.  Clearly if you want to get noticed and be recognized in your industry you want to have one giant pile of dirt not two medium piles of dirt. 

Let's say you spend the rest of your life shoveling two piles of dirt.  Let's assume you just got out of college and you are going to work until the day you die.  Let's say you spend all your working hours for 80 years shoveling equal amounts of dirt into two piles.  You are going to have two big whopping piles of art, I mean dirt.  But now your buddy, who also graduated the same day, spent the same amount of time over the same 80 years shoveling all his dirt into one pile.  Think of how ginormously gigantic his pile of dirt is going to be compared to your two piles.  It will probably be so big people will come from miles around to see it.  And everyone will talk about it and blog about it and share it on Facebook and he will be really famous and revered.  Everyone will say, "Wow, he is the best dirt digger in his industry.  Look at what he has accomplished in his career."  And you will be like, "Hey, I shoveled the same amount of dirt as he did.  Why is he getting all the attention?"  It's because no one cares about two medium piles of dirt.  In fact, your buddies one pile of dirt was as big as your two piles 40 years ago. 

If 80 years is too large to conceptualize, let's break it down to 4.  If you spend 4 years developing two styles your two styles will only be as good as if you spent 2 years on each.  But your buddy will have 4 years experience in one style and be 2 whole years ahead of you in his career.  And it only grows from there.  In 6 years he will be 3 years ahead of you.  In 8 he will be 4.  See how this goes?

So my point is, if you spend your time spread over two illustration styles, the best you can ever hope for is two styles that are only half as good as the styles of the people in your industry who only have one style.  And in the end you will never be able to come close to their accomplishments because you didn't have enough time to adequately hone two styles.  So how do you meld your two or three or six styles into one?  I'm going to work on that and get back to you. 

In the meantime, I dug out my first website from 2005.  Below is a sampling of the four art styles I was working in at the time.  And yes, this art is making me cringe (as all old work should).  If you want to see my current pile of dirt please check out my Instagram feed.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Inspired by a chef and reality tv

Oh wow, I just watched a REALLY good reality show.  Anyone who knows me is probably like, "Oh no not again, last time it was the Vanderpump Rules finale what is it this time?"  But I'm serious this time.  I saw a really great show about following your path as an artist through unacceptance into total and complete success.

If you have Netflix you must, must, must watch the first episode of "Chef's Table."  It's the story of an Italian Chef Massimo Bottura and his restaurant Osteria Francescana in Modena, Italy.  I found it very inspiring.  He and his wife tell the story of how he graduated from culinary school, started a restaurant, realized he was doing what everyone else was doing, found a new path, met resistance, contemplated giving up, and finally had an encounter that was totally happenstance which led to his acceptance by the world.

As a visual artist I can totally relate.  I feel like I just passed the realizing that I don't want to do what everyone else is doing part of my career.  I'm currently getting a glimpse of my new path, bracing myself for the resistance part, and hoping the acceptance comes around sooner rather than later because, like Bottura, giving up is NOT an option.

I usually learn a lot more about the artist process when I study the work of an artist that is very far from my own discipline.  This is why I like to watch shows about chefs, musicians, and others in creative disciplines other than illustration or art licensing.  I can more clearly hear their message and story.  If I listen to another illustrator's road to success I get too caught up in the details.  I hear, "I am successful because I draw lighthouses."  When they are really trying to say, "I am successful because I draw something near and dear to my heart."  I get all confused and start thinking, "Should I draw lighthouses too?"  And I totally miss the point.  I'm a good example of can't see the forest for the trees in that case.

Anyway, thanks for the great lesson Chef Bottura. These experimental eggplants are for you.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Please don't be frightened by my spot on trend predicting

About 2 months ago I noticed that I was starting to find children's drawings very inspiring.  "That's weird'" I thought to myself.  It kept happening over and over again.  I would see a child's drawing on a blog or Instagram and proclaim, "Oh my gosh, this is genius.  Who is the artist?"  And then I would feel a little embarrassed when I saw that the caption read, "a drawing by my daughter."

Fast forward to today, I am catching up on my Fall 2015 fashion shows and my jaw hits the floor when I see Dolce & Gabbana's Mamma inspired collection.  They have eight beautiful dresses in the collection covered in children's drawings.  So, thank goodness it's not just me!"  If you'd like to see for yourself you can check out the Dolce & Gabbana collection here: Dolce &Gabbana Fall 2015. 

Friday, April 24, 2015

Hot art hashtags on Instagram right now

I am a huge fan of blogs and I always have been, especially those written by the makers, manufacturers, and distributors of product with art on it.  I use Feedly to organize and read all of the blogs I follow (well over 100).

Sometime last year my Feedly feed started getting really sparse and some regular bloggers started disappearing all together.  It was a mystery to me.  Where was everyone going?  Was everyone at a party that I hadn't been invited to?  YES!  Everyone is at a different party and that party is Instagram.  Holy jackpot of fresh and beautiful art.  I can't stop scrolling through art, art, and more art.

I discovered this week that the HOTTEST spots at the party are the hashtags #nss2015, #surtex, and #surtex2015.  The National Stationery/Surtex show is coming up next month. Hundreds of artists and manufacturers are toiling away making their best art and posting it on Instagram.  The above screenshot is the last 16 images posted on #nss2015.

I actually decided not to attend the show this year because I'm going to watch the whole thing unfold on Instagram.  I'm already spotting a lot of fun new trends.

So go check out those hashtags.  Your eyeballs will thank you!

Sunday, March 8, 2015

LOUIE Award finalist!!

I am jumping up and down right now because the "Santa Train" card I conceptualized, illustrated, and engineered for the Museum of Modern Art is a LOUIE Award finalist in the category Christmas/Seasonal Boxed Set Above $2.  Hooray, hooray!  If you aren't familiar with the LOUIE it's the highest honor in the greeting card industry.  This is the third time I've been a finalist and I even won once before.  Soooooo exciting!  Okay, I think you get the picture that I'm excited.  If you would like to see all the finalists you can view them here:  27th Annual LOUIE Awards Gallery.  It is quite a remarkable display of greeting card excellence!