Sunday, May 30, 2010

A picture of the Battle Grounds, otherwise known as my art desk! Critters illustrations, as well as character sheets for my comic book commission all over the walls, paints all over the desk. I think there's more paint on the desk than there is on the actual papers!

One Week 'Til Convention

It's Memorial Day weekend! Guess what I'm doing? Beach? Barbeque? Beer? Nope, nope, and maybe later. I'm knee-deep in watercolors, making Critters for my in-process children's fantasy picture book, Lil' Book of Critters.
It's a little bit of a drag, 'cause I'm running a few weeks behind where I wanted to be with the book. I was hoping that I'd be finished with a website commission a few weeks ago, but in standard Jason fashion, I misestimated how long this project would take. S'kay, I got it taken care of. And I'll GLADLY sacrifice a weekend of fun for....well, FUN, honestly. I lovelovelove art, and it's SO nice to just be able to focus on your own wacky project, for once.
I have the SCBWI Florida Children's Book Mid-Year Workshop this coming weekend. I'll have an Illustrator's Intensive on Friday, Picture Book Workshop on Saturday, finished off with two critiques of my book that Saturday evening. I went to the event last year for just the one day, unsure who or what this convention had to offer. But after seeing the big-name authors, literary agents, and other "power" people there, as well as the direct-access addresses and other inside help the organization offered, I realized it's worth me taking this seriously.
In amazing synchronicity, this year had two big industry editors coincidentally really gravitate towards this book that I just had mentioned on a lark. One was an editor from, who found my art on a site like DeviantArt or something like that, and did a whole little blurb about me. I felt like I should have my Professional Geek card revoked, because I wasn't familiar with! I checked it out, and just marveled at the amazing stuff they had on there! Comic books, fantasy and sci-fi book and movie reviews, concept art from big-time video games....and now an online article about lil' ol me?? No way! She asked me what current/future projects I was working on, and decided to mention this children's book I was toying with. She was really interested in it, and in addition to my other illustrations that she wanted, I sent her some scans of the rough illustrations I had done. She asked me if there was a story in addition to the characters, and I'd discovered through sharing the book with others that people had more fun making up their own stories, so felt it was more enjoyable for the viewer to just have the visual of the critter, their name, and then let others make up what the critter's story was. The editor loved the illustrations from the book, and then did exactly that--she took the critters, and made up what she felt these creatures do, what they eat, where they live! She even changed the gender of what I felt some of the critters were, which was once again affirmation that leaving these critters this open truly gave people their own imaginary playground to enjoy!
A few months after that, I contacted an editor from one of my favorite art magazines, ImagineFX. I sent him some samples of my work, as well as a link to my site. He liked what I had to show, and asked for three print-ready samples of my work, as well as to answer several questions that he sent along. One of the questions that he asked was, once again, about current and future projects I was working on. In the same way, I mentioned the Critters book. My work was supposed to appear months ago in the magazine, but due to circumstances out of his control, ended up postponing my blurb in the magazine 'til June of this year. As that date approached, in early May he revisited my information, and realized that I was doing this Critters book. He asked if I had some information about the book, as well as some pictures of some of the critters, and if so, he'd put it in their "Products" section in addition. Holy shit!!! I was now going to have an internationally-known publication helping me sell my book, free of charge! This has made me suddenly have to move in fast-forward. I immediately contacted the information architect that helped me put together my own site, and told him, "Hey, here's some scratch! Can you please set up an e-commerce site for me, stat?" I've looked into Paypal, and am setting up a new bank account to just focus on money earned from that project. Hopefully if I get enough pre-orders from this, it'll help me seal a deal with a publishing agent or better yet, a publisher.
It's really amazing how life works, sometimes. I never really thought very much about this book, except for it just being an exercise for my imagination. But after seeing two industry people react so positively to it, I suddenly thought, "Holy shit! I might be on to something, here...."
I REALLY hope this convention and children's book does well! I'd love nothing more than being a daddy that takes care of his kid during the day, and earns his keep, working on his art during the evening. That, in my ideal mind, sounds pretty much like a dream come true, no doubt! Wish me luck!