illustration

Calendar Man

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The Calendar Man is a disreputable holiday-themed Batman villain from the 60s who got a boost in popularity from Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale’s miniseries “Batman: The Long Halloween”

It also refers to me, a guy whose first solo calendar just went on sale.

You can buy it here.

Last year, I did artwork for a collaborative calendar with a few other artists, on the theme of “Space Vacation.” This year, all the art was completed by me, with added typography and design by the good folks at Gladstone Media.

The whole thing was great fun, if a bit hectic since due to production schedules, all 12 images had to be completed in 3 months before Christmas, but I must have enjoyed it, or else I wouldn’t be doing it again for the 2021 calendar.

Also coming for 2021 is a calendar entirely painted by me, of the Sloth Kama Sutra, or, as I recommended, the Sloth Tantric Sex Manual, because I imagine sloths take their time climaxing anyhow.

Below are the color comps for each of the pieces above.

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Saturn-color.jpg

Society of Illustrators: West Coast

Two of my works have been accepted by the Society of Illustrators: West Coast (abbreviated to “SILA” for Los Angeles because “SIWC” is not a word) and I’m very pleased.

The first is displayed on the top of my home page, because I am a clever marketer who sometimes does smart things like putting my best work closest to the audience, and hiding the filler at the bottom. It’s the one with the minotaurs and demon pigs in Tibetan Buddhist style for Tricycle: The Buddhist Review magazine. I knew from the get-go how pretty awesome this piece would be, and having worked extra hard on it, I’m glad that other people with professional credentials feel that way too.

The second piece will be up soon, about gerrymandering. I’m pleased with this one being selected also, since there was an experimentation process going on while I was working with it. I honestly get bored sick working on the computer, and this piece was an attempt to see how much I could get away with working off the computer, while still allowing me the freedom to edit as I pleased. Like all great experiments, it didn’t quite work, but I learned a bunch, and can possibly use that knowledge for a future assignment.

Which, of course, leads me to a crossroads I’ve been at since before college. Having received professional accolades for two of my projects, both of which I enjoyed equally, but each of which looks vastly different from the other, I am unsure which style to proceed with. I think they’re too similar to split them off and market myself as a man of many styles, take your pick! But they’re too different to advertise together (like I’m doing now) without art directors being unsure what they’re going to get if they hire me. Already, I don’t have the time to churn out personal work in both styles, and when I do personal work, it looks completely different anyway.

Commerce has always been the bane of my career. But no one in any professional capacity has responded positively (I mean, by hiring me. Plenty have said, “You do good work!” and immediately forgotten my name) to anything I’ve done for my own pleasure, which is probably what broke my sense of how my art should look to begin with. I’ve opened and closed too many online stores to be able to gauge anything from a popular vote, and the friends are generally too… friendly or inexperienced to give what I feel is useful advice. My wife has given me some good pointers, and I trust her, but she has tastes that often veer from mine, and from art directors too.

Which way shall I go? Because I’m sure straddling the fence is just as damaging to my illustration career as the five years I spent with a crude, unpopular, lazy style following college.

ICON 10 Report

Yesterday, I returned home from ICON10, the Illustrators' Conference, held this year in Detroit, MI.  That means I got to go to Detroit, and I got to eat hot dogs and beer and burgers, and look at cars, and visit their art museum, because that's what's in Detroit.  I did not go to a Tigers game.  They're also in Detroit, but I don't think they, or the Red Wings, were playing at the time.  So, no hockey, no baseball.  Just food, and adult beverages, and soft pretzels, and art, and illustration.

I really love going to the ICON conferences.  They're held every two years, every time in a different city.  The first one I went to was in Portland, Oregon, which was lovely.  They have donuts and pinball arcades there.  The second one was in Austin, which has barbecue and 104 degree weather, and bats.  Austin was less lovely, but the conference is always good.  There's always a decent spread of snacks and coffee and a free full breakfast buffet, and cocktail hours, and usually some nice giveaways, and oh yeah, IT'S FULL OF ILLUSTRATORS, who, along with my wife, and most Nobel Prize winners, are the best people on the planet.

And I don't get to see enough of them.

For most of my adult life, I've lived in either Washington, DC, or Charlottesville, Virginia, which have thriving art communities and minute illustration communities.  There are very few people I can meet for coffee and talk shop with, compare fees, bitch about assignments (although all of my assignments recently have been cool) and grow my presence.  Which is what ICON provides.  For 4-ish days, I hobnob among my people.  EVERYONE comes to these things.  You have old pros who have been working since the 60s, young hotshots who win awards every year, students, art directors, designers, agents, people who illustrate children's books, people who illustrate the New Yorker, cartoonists, poster artists, muralists, writers, and every single one of them is delightful to a tee.  I've met so many friends there just by following up on the business cards I collect. 

This year I forgot my satchel of business cards at the hostel when I flew back, but the hostel staff found it, and they're mailing it back to me, which is nice, but they're making me pay for it and I only forgot it because I lost it when they forced me to switch rooms, which is less so, so in all, I'd give the Hostel Detroit something between 0 and the most stars, because they deserve both.

Most of the Conference is taken up with talks and workshops where people with experience or knowledge to share, share that knowledge, and then run away very fast before everyone deluges them with contact information.  And I've found most of it to be very useful.  Last year, I had lunch with an art director who vehemently insisted that being in New York was very important to my career.  That's part of the reason I moved to DC.  Manhattan is just a quick train ride away.  This year I heard an educator talk about how to best shape my portfolio to attract new clients.  I'll take his advice too.  And I always meet a lot of people, many of whom continue to inspire me, out of the sheer beauty of their work, or their work ethic, or my jealousy at their ability to manage both at the same time.

Now that I'm back, I desperately need to catch up on sleep while I wait for my business cards to arrive in the mail.  Then I will get right on that.  I'm an illustrator and I want to be a better one, and I REALLY hope the next ICON is held somewhere I don't have to fly to.

I recommend Northwest Washington, DC.

I never have pictures in my blog because I never see the need to post anything on the internet twice, but my Instagram account to the right has most of the sketches and photos I took, and my Twitter has most of the same, but with better captions.

New Ilustrations: Part 1 of 746

I just realized how long it's been since I'd paraded my published work online.  As a professional illustration, that is bad of me, and I ought to be punished, preferably by leggy women wearing black leather and stiletto heels.

Well, Experience Life continues handing me awesome work, including this piece about the multifarious joys of Farmers' Markets, including balloons, fried dough, and, if you're truly desperate, fresh produce, dairy, and meat.

Most recent is my illustration about the hourly activities of a health food blogger, as told by a real-life health food blogger.  I tried a different medium with this one, shading with pencil, just to see if that would work.

I also have an upcoming piece for In These Times, whom I've never worked for before, that was fun because they specifically insisted that I use watercolors.  "Well, okay, if that's what you want, I told them, bouncing up and down giddily in my seat."  It should be available online and in stores in a few days.

That is all for now.