Monday, October 29, 2012

Gearing Up for IlluXCon 2012

It's less than two weeks away now... the fifth annual IlluXCon! Are you as excited as I am?

This year is a bit different for me, and I'll explain why. Unlike 2010 and 2011, I will not have a table in the main show. There are very good reasons for this, the main one being that I didn't try out for the main show. "Wait... what??" Yes, you heard me: I didn't try out. In late 2011, when IlluXCon announced they were officially going traditional-only, and everyone had to be juried into the show, I had to get honest with myself about my work. I've been a working illustrator for a few years now, but primarily a working digital illustrator. When I did a hard comparison between my digital and traditional work, I saw a big enough disparity in the quality that it bothered me, and I thought it would be best to spend part of my first year as a full-time freelancer working toward getting back into shape with oils.

Instead of trying out for the main show, I set a goal for myself to make 5 oil paintings to present at the IlluXCon Showcase, which is the one-night-only art extravaganza held at the Ramada hotel. Not just paintings for the sake of painting, but paintings I would be proud to put my name on and show off as a sample of my latest work.

I think I met that goal.

A couple weeks ago when I started planning my table display, I made a second big decision that will set 2012 apart- I'm only bringing traditional work. Digital artwork isn't necessarily verboten in the Showcase, but it's not part of Pat and Jeannie's vision, and it's unfair to collectors who want to buy originals to get them interested in what they don't want. Also, for the first time, I don't need to show it to feel good about my work. If I had had enough original oils the last two years, I'd have done this sooner, but I just didn't. In less than two weeks, you won't even see a print or postcard of a digital piece at my table. **SPOILER ALERT** Here's what that might look like:

I'll have 5 original oils, 3 of which are still for sale, as listed below:
Blue Flame, 2012, 16x22 in. | $1,200
Rush of Blood, 2012 | Sold
Tarzan: The Light of Knowledge, 2012 | Sold
Omens, 2012, 22x30 in. w custom frame | $3,200
Phial of Galadriel, 2012, 11x14 in. | $600

On the table I'll have a binder of original drawings, including richly-detailed preliminary drawings for four of the oil paintings listed above, priced between $150 and $300.

The binder will also have large giclée prints of some traditional work; if you can't pick one up at the Showcase, they can also be ordered online from my store for the same price.

Something new that I'll be trying out is playing my Making of Omens painting video at my table (sans audio, so my table-neighbors don't go insane from hearing the same 10 minutes of sound on loop). For people who want to watch it after the showcase, I'll have little cards to take that have a QR Code on the back, that will link you directly to the video:

Lastly, I'll have the usual takeaways, in the form of business cards and postcards, all bearing images of traditional paintings from 2012.

None of this is to say that I'll be abandoning digital art- no, siree. I still plan to work both ways, but I'm hoping to continue focusing more on honing my traditional skills throughout next year. I'm really hoping that I might have a shot at the main show again when IlluXCon moves to Allentown- that is a great motivator.

Lastly, since I'll only be behind a table for one night, I'll get to go to some lectures and hang out this year! :) Looking forward to seeing you all very soon! Now, get back to work.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Voting for the "Illie" Awards ends tonight!

(File under Shameless Plug)

One of my paintings, Rush of Blood, has been nominated for an Illie Award, along with tons of other awesome works. Voting ends tonight at Midnight EST! The Illie Awards are presented by IlluXCon and the Illustration Exchange.

Visit the IlluXCon site to cast your vote.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

New York Comic Con!

Last week I had my first Comic Con experience!

I shared a table at New York Comic Con with my good friends Noah Bradley (left) and Marc Scheff (top) from Awesome Horse Studios. Photo courtesy of Irene Gallo.

I was going to write out a huge list of tips like I usually do, but our friend and left-hand booth neighbor Kiri Ø. Leonard beat me to it! And she did a great recap, with good advice for first-time exhibitors. Read about her 10 Things She Learned at NYCC.

Instead, I'm going to sum up the 4 day art extravaganza and share some personal experiences through the majesty of captioned photographs.

Every convention starts weeks or months in advance with good decent planning.
We discussed what we were going to bring and drew up a little table plan before the con... of course, we thought the tables were going to be 2 feet wider than they actually were, so our setup ended up being quite different.

Wednesday Night: I measure some foam core board in Marc's studio while Tim Paul makes custom wallets.
After arriving in NYC, we got straight to work making tiered foam board stands for our prints. Thanks for the idea, Tim!

Thursday Morning: We arrived at Javits Center, along with Marc's assistant Alex, and set up our display.

All done with setup! Posing at our table just before the doors opened on Thursday.
Sharing a 6-foot table among three people meant we needed to maximize our vertical space. We were guilty of a bit of "visual vomit" (too much disorganized clutter), but since we were treating the Con as a fun learning experience, we rolled with it.

Me and Noah looking suave and/or cheeky...

Sushi dinner with artist Kiri Ø. Leonard and art director Lauren Panepinto
Work hard, play hard. Just like any convention, evenings are for hanging out with friends and colleagues. Not pictured here: the alcohol.

Friday Morning: I pose next to Marc's banner with Kiri. The banners, much like the rest of our setup, were fastened together with duct tape and wishes.
I decided Friday was going to be dress-up day. Coincidentally I also had my best sales day... ha! Anyway, things got so hectic starting right after this photo was taken that we barely have any photo record of the next 48 hours. To paint a very small picture: Javits Center was PACKED wall-to-wall with attendees for the remainder of the con. The recorded numbers topped 116,000 for the whole weekend. WOW.

Saturday Afternoon: Posing with Dan Warren (center) and Dave Rapoza (far right) from Crimson Daggers.

Sunday, at last! And coffee. Delicious, delicious coffee.

All told, we had lots of fun and did well with sales. I'm really looking forward to the possibility of doing NYCC again next year!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Sketch Night at the Society of Illustrators, NYC

Figure studies, 10/16/2012

If you're in NYC, you truly owe it to yourself to go to a Sketch Night at the Society of Illustrators. $15 gets you a 3 hour sketch session with talented models, really good live music, and a great atmosphere. Food, alcohol, and art supplies are also on sale. Sadly, I got on a train and left NYC only hours after the event concluded, but I'm certain I'll visit again soon...

Monday, October 1, 2012

"Sherlock" Pencil Studies

(Pencil studies of actor Benedict Cumberbatch in his role as Sherlock Holmes, from video stills.)

This is post 1 of 2 that I want to make about Sherlock Holmes.

First off, I want to say that I've become extremely enamored with the BBC TV series Sherlock. I didn't think that any moving picture re-imagining could beat out Basil Rathbone's portrayal in the black and white 1940s films, but here we are, and I stand humbly corrected.

Not only is Sherlock a beautifully crafted and enjoyable show to watch, it's also brought a brilliant actor into the American spotlight, and to my attention (or more importantly the attention of my pencil). I could study his face and its myriad expressions all day.

There's a lot to learn from sketching actors, even from photographs, but it's wonderful that nowadays HD video is so widely available, too. Where photos are often posed, a paused video frame gives you the opportunity to capture a more naturally expressive moment on a character's face. Every observation and pencil mark from this kind of practice gets stored deep in our memory, and we access it later while making new drawings, without thinking of it consciously.

Please enjoy these practice sketches, and my small tribute to a new favorite TV series. Now go scour YouTube for your favorite actor or actress, and find a nice place to pause and sketch.