Monday, September 6, 2010

A Quiet Summer

Apologies for being so quiet this summer. I don't really have enough viewers to really feel all that neglectful, though. I'll make up for it anyway by attempting to pack an entire summer's worth of news and information into one post.

I predicted a terrible summer job market here in the metro-Atlanta area, so the thought of actually landing a local job for a few months was not in the forefront of my mind. Instead, I turned my efforts to finding my first freelance illustration job. I scoured and scoured, stumbling upon way too many examples of artist abuse a la and Much of my job search was an education in how little respect commercial art garners amongst the laymen. Everybody needs or wants it, but nobody wants to pay the proper amount, let alone understand it from the artist's point of view. Luckily, these instances are only prevalent in individuals looking for art. Professional institutions are obviously knowledgeable, but at this point, sort of unattainable. In the meantime, I decided to get some postcard mailers created and sent out. This required new artwork specifically crafted for this purpose. I tried to hit as many children's book publishers and editorials as I could. We'll see if there are any fruits of my labor. This is what became the current face for my artwork:

In the confusion and struggle to gain as much knowledge as I could on my own (my only complaint about my SCAD education is that, so far, little has been taught in the vein of self-promotion, contract writing, and dealings with clients), I realized it was the best time to get my mitts on the Graphic Artists Guild's Pricing & Ethical Guidelines Handbook. I'm very glad I did. I feel light years beyond my junior-year self in terms of professionalism and understanding of contracts and the in's and out's of freelance in general. I read and read, practiced rough contracts and my timing couldn't have been better, as I was just about to nail my first professional gig.

David Jafari, creative mind behind SPARKMUSE, an upstart web community for technologists, programmers, and super-nerds (and I mean that in the nicest of ways) contacted me, wanting an illustrative front page for this venture. A landscape, logo, and mascot were needed, and I had ideas in abundance. I tackled the logo first, as its color scheme and style would dictate and influence the rest of the work.

I struggled at first to find a direction. My girlfriend, Caitlin Alexander, a lovely and talented illustrator herself, had recently gifted me a book written by the author of one of my favorite blogs/resources, Cartoon Modern (now long defunct). Within the last year, due to my exposure to animation mentality since declaring it as my minor, I have become completely obsessed and inspirationally in love with 50s animation design. For someone like me who stumbled onto gouache and found his niche seemingly overnight, the work done by these artists more than 50 years ago feels entirely fresh and peculiarly MODERN. I must have watched UPA's Rooty Toot Toot nearly 20 times now.

With the imagery from all these wonderful artists swimming in my head, I decided, with David's input, on a limited, but vibrant color palette, and a simple, almost literal logo concept. The three steps in the SPARKMUSE method are discussion, refinement, and acting upon developed ideas. This led to the three bars, and the prevailing bouncing spark obviously symbolizing the sharing or 'bouncing' of ideas within the community. I was thrilled with the outcome, due to its aesthetic and for what ideas it spawned for the remaining imagery.

The mascot and environment were brainstormed and designed in tandem. The winning idea amongst the numerous sketches was a jetsons-like, futuristic setting, full of whimsy: an embodiment of the forward-thinking ideas of the community. A jetpack-weilding rocketeer became a helicopter contraption pilot, and a floating city in the sky became a bustling, condensed metropolis on a hill. Some parts were painted traditionally, with gouache, while others were purely digital. I find great satisfaction in the seemlesness. I won't bother posting initial sketches. They are truly dreadful and not worth looking at. I'ven ever been the best sketcher. Their worth is in my ability to see a final image through them. It's a wonder Mr. Jafari didn't get scared off. Luckily he had seen my work in completed form before and knew what to expect.

the mascot in his jetpack sketchy days

a quick digital comp for the selected idea

the finished mascot design

A mockup of the final assets.

The early build of the site can be found at It moves!

That's all there is as far as career news. In the midst of this work I had time to visit Vermont for my cousin's wedding, Bar Harbor, ME for some relaxation at our family cabin, and a week long trip to see Caitlin in her Austin, TX home. The beginning of a new (and LAST) school year is drawing close. One week, actually. I leave thursday and I couldn't be happier. Summer has been a much appreciated break. But you CAN get too much of a good thing, especially when that good thing comes at the price of being far, far away from the girl you love and the friends you love as well.

Take care!

P.S. Thursday also marks the last day of my late summer experiment. I've never been much for facial hair. I just can't grow it effectively. In order to avoid embarrassment, I keep clean shaven at all times, lest I put a patchy abomination on display. But in these quiet summer days, with little to no interaction with the outside world, I've just let it be. It's been that I now know I can never grow a full beard, just a weak moustache and chin scruff, and some crummy sideburns. Curse my genes.

It has to go or I get the cold shoulder from my girl.

(this post script comes your way after suggestion that I make my blog a bit more personal to put a, well, personality and face to my artwork. You all now know how weird I am. Hope it helps. <3)

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