Monday, January 30, 2012

I have moved to tumblr

Hi folks. Due to a more user-friendly interface and better design options, I've decided to uproot my blog here at blogger and move it over to tumblr. It's not without regret, though. I'm sure I'll lose a few followers in the process and some nice encouraging comments didn't make the journey like all my old salvaged posts did. My new blog can be found here:
I haven't yet changed the blog link on my portfolio site to reflect this change, but it will happen soon. Head over to my tumblr to read a inaugural update!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Let's catch up

Hey all you crazy cats. In typical Kellan fashion, I took another leave of absence, but I do come bearing gifts!

Back in November, I was approached by Active Interest Media to illustrate a spread and mini-spots for an article in Amazing Wellness Magazine. The subject matter was pretty quirky and seemed like a pretty good fit for my art style. How else should a piece about health supplements in a beauty pageant be illustrated but in a cartoony, lighthearted style? The folks at AIM were really pleasant to deal with, the negotiation process went swimmingly, and the schedule, while quick, was still comfortable and went off without a hitch. I thought I'd elaborate on my process work, and the stages that happen before my finished product.

First, I was given the article to read, and the layout to compose my image around. Normally the client would be very open to multiple concepts for the piece, but due to the limited time, I instead created comps based on the idea they gave me. Speaking of comps, my policy is to create 3 clean, developed sketches per project. Here they are in the sent document:

The client chose comp #3, and requested a different image for the 'collagen' spot. I then put together some color comp options for their approval.

They chose the first comp, and I set about finishing all the final artwork. This is what I came up with:

Like I said, it was a great experience. My copies should be getting to me soon, so I'll probably take some cheesy photo of me holding the printed version. Getting published will probably be exciting like this for quite a while. I don't plan on becoming jaded anytime soon.

My New Year's resolution this year was to really push myself in my freelance career. It's been a constant struggle to keep myself motivated after coming home from a day's hard work at the animation studio. I did personal work sporadically, and one gig as seen above, but completely dropped the ball on additional promotion and just didn't see myself really GOING for it like I should. So, I'm hoping the good vibrations I'm feeling will carry me forward in both facets of my career. As far as Powerhouse goes, I still can't really talk about it. It's getting really close to becoming public knowledge, when I can actually SAY what I'm working 40hrs a week on. But even then I can't show you! In the meantime I'll show you the beginnings of another pet project I started that may or may not fall by the wayside if my creative ADD has anything to do with it:

I was feeling super inspired by one of the Christmas gifts Caitlin gave me, a 1949 edition of The Fireside Cook Book, illustrated by Martin and Alice Provensen, huge inspirations to 50s animation design, and thus a huge inspiration to me. The illustrations in the book mostly consist of black line drawings accented by solid, single tone shapes that are just dripping with divine design and simplicity.

(credit: Martin and Alice Provensen)

It's an aesthetic I've flirted with but never really jumped into head first. I always find myself starting simple, but adding more and more to a point that's still pleasing and cohesive, but just lacking that spark that the brilliantly simple work of the Provensen's has. But back to Georgie boy up there. I just started drawing him last night. I have no idea why. But I kind of realized that doing a series of all the presidents would provide a consistent exercise in character design, with a touch or caricature, and would even allow me to work on characters from various periods of history. I dunno, it just seems like lots of fun. As I said before, my attention could stray...

Let's hope not.

Happy New Year everyone. I've had a great couple of weeks seeing great friends and loved ones, eating mountains of amazing food, and getting great gifts. I can only hope you've done the same. 2012!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Budding Ideas

I'm not feeling especially chatty tonight. However, I have work to show, so I suppose I gotta throw some words in with them, right? Right.

My boss at Powerhouse Animation Studios recently started an organization called Artists Against Cancer to benefit an employee currently undergoing chemotherapy for breast cancer, as well as anybody unlucky enough to be struck with any form of cancer. On the 27th of October, Artists Against Cancer (AAC) is putting on a benefit concert headlined by some local Austin bands. Our most recent task for "The Luck of the Draw", our biweekly drawing contest, was to create a poster for the event.

This marked my first piece completed with my brand new Wacom Cintiq 21UX. It's incredibly rewarding and relieving to know that I can literally jump in and create whenever I want. That's not to say I couldn't do that before with paints and pencils and the like, but I've settled into a pretty regulated workflow that is digital-centric. That said, I've wanted to get back into painting, as a complete omission of traditional techniques would be counter productive, considering my digital method is intended to evoke the traditional. It would be forgetting one's roots. So maybe look forward to some good ol' gouache stuff in the future. That used to be my bread and butter, but I've been spoiled to the user-friendly and time saving techniques inherent to digital creation.

The next matter of business is this idea I've got kickin' around my head. Caitlin has recently been getting really great feedback on her illustration work, and got some pointers for self promotion as well from book publishers. It was suggested that she create a mock series of consistent characters and story to better allow children's book publishers to see your ability to continue and carry a story through your illustration. It's a pretty self explanatory concept, but it never occurred to me that my menagerie of individual illustrations wouldn't get the whole point across. Needless to say, I'm taking the advice as well.

With that in mind, a little idea started in my head. I've always been a fan of very simple children's books. The kind involving a main character and merely snippets of a loose story. The kind meant for early readers that entertain by color changes, alliteration, and an expressive single character. Perhaps I can't exactly explain what I mean there, but I can at least show you what I intend to do.

This is Daredevil Darryl. He's an adrenaline junky. I intend to flesh out his character more, and put him in other activities, while keeping with the 'D' alliteration. Daredevil Darry dives, dirtbikes, drives, dunks, etc. All while teaching a moral of safety, making sure he is always depicted as fully prepared for each situation. A children's book has to have a moral, after all! I haven't decided on a changing color palette, but I've been thinking a simple swap of the single color (in this case, the red), while retaining the rough paper base, and the blacks and whites.

Sorry to split, but I've run out of words and feel like sketching! Laaaater.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011


It's true! I did! Snagged the last one at the online store I stumbled upon. $1,999. More than the market value of my car. AWWEEEEESOME. I should hope this will cause a huge spike in productivity. I mean how can I not draw when I have the sheer awesome power of this product? You can't, that's how! BAM.

I'm excited...but also loopy. I think I will sleep now. G'night!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Minor Site Update

Minor site update today. There's an addition to my resume page and pdf to include Powerhouse Animation Studios as my current employer. Don't let that scare you potential clients. I still have plenty of time for freelance in the evenings and weekends. Seriously! The contact page now has a mailing address (y'know if snail mail is your thing), and I added a new portrait and some new descriptors to the about page. Goody!

Have a great Labor Day weekend, everyone! Err...what's left of it.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

I am alive. I swear.

Hello everyone! Or

I've been pretty busy lately. Not too busy to post on my blog. That was just plain neglect. But I have had a lot on my mind and on my plate. I successfully made my move to Austin, and after a month and a half bumming food and shelter from Caitlin's parents, she and I finally moved into our downtown apartment at the beginning of August. It's a one bedroom place, but we ended up making great use of space and Caitlin and I both have our very own studio spaces. Here are some photos of mine:

Now, just picture a nice, new, cintiq monitor right there on that desk. I'll hopefully make that happen very soon. I've got the money ready, just need to find one in stock!

The big news, that isn't really NEW anymore, is that I totally landed the position at Powerhouse Animation Studios. After months of determined pursuit, I was finally hired and started on July 5th. I'm considered a general animator, and I'm usually kept on my toes, hopping from one project to another, ranging from fluid disney-esque animation, to puppeted stuff (similar to my personal work), and with a few character design opportunities in there as well. I show up at 9, grab a cup of coffee, work on a cintiq and computer that's all my own for 8 hours (plus lunch) and come home at 6. Most of the contracts are secret and I have to keep quiet or the clients will murder me or eat my first-born child and whatnot, but so far I have worked on some super-cool stuff. Things I never thought I'd get anywhere near touching this early out of school. The pay is good, the people are awesome, and I'm really enjoying and relishing the security it provides. Benefits kick in soon, too! I should really update my resume, huh?

Here's my company photo from my employee page:

It's no coincidence that I'm holding a copy of Cartoon Modern, my most favorite book ever.

There is a biweekly drawing contest at work between the employees, called the Luck of the Draw. So far the subject matter has been new employees (I was one of a few). Two have been done so far and here are my entries:



These pieces really are the closest thing to illustration I have done since the end of school, however. I have found there is one detriment to having this animation job. It certainly requires a lot of focus and energy that could be going toward my freelance career. In order to succeed at both, and bolster a client base, I'm going to need to push myself harder, and find a groove so that my illustration aspirations don't fall by the wayside. As of now, it's much too easy to clock out at 6, come home, eat dinner, and lounge around until bed. Wake. Repeat. It's hard to escape this feeling that I've already got a job and I don't need to do more work. And that is true. But only monetarily. I've found that what I crave is the achievement and praise that comes along with illustration projects. The money is an added bonus. So while I certainly enjoy my studio job, it can't fill that void, and I suppose I never expected it to. I just have to try and try, and not forget my aspirations. Wish me luck.

I could continue blathering, but it is getting late and I have work in the morning. Goodnight all!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Post-Graduation Extravaganza

So much to share with you today. As I write this, I'm sitting in a cluttered guest room at my folks' place in Alpharetta, GA. Cluttered because I can't unpack any of the things I brought home, as I'll soon be packing it up again to head to Austin, TX. Y'know, to LIVE. I graduated magna cum laude with a BFA in illustration from The Savannah College of Art and Design last saturday, the 4th of June. It's been a wonderful 4 years, and a wonderful week off from work. Well that's not true. I've still been at work, just a different kind. The preparatory kind. I decided it was time to add a blog post to my list of things to do.

First off, the graduation festivities!

Here I am in front of the piece of mine that made it into SCAD's 2011 Communication Arts show. This piece is getting pretty good exposure and mileage!

The next night was the SCAD Illustration Club senior show. These are the 4 pieces I chose for the show (that will be soon hanging in my future apartment)

I'm a blurry, splotchy, graduate!

Me and my lovely girlfriend, Caitlin after the ceremony. Pardon my sweaty, stupid hair.

Me and my buds

Graduation gifts from my folks! I got a GPS unit and Caitlin got a blender/food processor. Not pictured is the gift I got from the Alexanders...a 2 burner gas grill! Manly!

Needless to say, it was an awesome experience. I feel so old, but with so much more ahead of me.

Now, about all those materials I created in my last illustration class:

My envelope mailers, consisting of cover letters, tearsheets, a postcard, and business card (sorry for the dim, poor quality. These are mac photobooth pictures in dim lighting)

A closeup of the logo sticker on my envelopes. No return address as of yet. Waiting until I have a permanent one.

My handmade physical portfolio binder and box! This thing was a labor of love and I'm so happy with it. Made with bookbinding/davey board, PVA glue, paper-backed book cloth, canson paper interior, 3 ring binding mechanism and page sleeves of course. Visible here is just the outer box/case.

The open side of the box and the binder spine within it.

Dunno if you could tell, but the logo is inlaid. So fancy.

The binder slides out.

The binder.

Cover page.

interior pages.

That's all for the portfolio. I'll be lugging it around to potential interviews with art directors at publishing companies and editorials. It's suggested you have two, though. That'll be another $200+ and 10hr investment right there.

Here be my business card and postcard:

business card front. That's my info, yup.

business card back. Good ole Slick the Cowboy!

postcard front. Like I said, mileage.

postcard back. Decided to spiff it up. If you're an art director at a publication with quirky artwork like mine, expect one in the mail. Now to get stamps...

I'm sure there's something I've omitted. I certainly did more in my class than just this. I created a resume, artist statement, business/marketing plan, contract/document forms, tearsheets, client lists, etc. but none of that is interesting to you, the viewer. So this is all the visual candy (aside from the website, but you saw then on your way here). Up next is the true self-promotion process wherein I will utilize all of the above. Wish me luck!

P.S. Here's a little doodle I did in the last few days of school. Just something goofy. Enjoy?