Wednesday, December 21, 2011


The Hobbit Trailer!! Man, those dwarves look amazing!!!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Fables: Character Sketches

I've decided to make an entire sketchbook of drawings, based off my favorite comic book, Fables. Here's two of my favorite, so far: Mr. North and FlyCatcher.

Both of these sketches are rough, at this point, and don't have any trademark hand-drawn lettering of their names, as well, but just wanted to put it out there, show people what I'm doing. I've drawn over a dozen characters, so far, and each character sheet has multiple angles, emotions, and compositions. I'm really excited with how this is going, so far, and each night it's a huge thrill just to pour through the books to find the proper piece of reference material, or just seeing other artists' takes on the characters!

Monday, November 28, 2011

A good associate of mine made a new fantasy pictorial book, and put a ton of MY art in it! Feel free to go to Amazon and buy it for yourself:

Machines & Magic

Thursday, July 21, 2011

A General List of Advice for Aspiring Artists

I've shared this before, but never here. Once again, a lot of these are just general life lessons, as well, but it's good to keep them in mind, as an artist, too:

· 9-to-5 will get you by, but it won't get you ahead.
· Whatever opportunity is given to you, do not snub your nose at it just because, "it's not what you're about." At first, you have no choice. As you progress, and you get better at what you do, a positive reputation is being built. If you start making a consistent surplus of money, THEN you can be picky. But I haven't got to that point, yet, and I don't know many that have!
· Only be an artist if you love it with every fiber of your being. Otherwise find a career that will make you MONEY.
· Starting out will more than likely suck. But just remember one thing--your worst day as an artist will be 100 times better than your best day as a waiter!
· Do the artwork you love first, find a market for it second. Every piece of "guilty pleasure" artwork I've done for myself has found an applicable sector of the industry that finds interest in it.
· Don't go to college 'til you think you're ready. There's no shame in taking a few years off to get the immaturity out of your system. Nothing will motivate you better at getting an education than working as a waiter or starving for a bit!
· Know thyself: Be honest with your talent, know your limitations. There's no shame in having a certain style nor being capable of copying the style of your favorite artist. Have you honestly been trying as hard as you can? Start with what you know and are good at, but continue to drive yourself towards being not only a better artist, but a better person.
· Hustle, hustle, hustle! Always keep an eye out for opportunity! Seek out new avenues and clients that may need your services!
· DON'T BE AFRAID TO TALK TO PEOPLE! That's the biggest obstacle the majority of artists have. Remember—it's not necessarily your art the client's sold by, but the person. Plus it gets easier the more you do it.
· In relation to the top one, word of mouth has been my best marketing strategy out of everything I've done. If people like you, and you're easy to work with, your clients won't mind sharing you.
· If you have a better idea for a project than a client, don't hesitate to suggest it. The worst they can do is say no. But in my experience, people appreciate creative, passionate individuals. And clients are always looking for creative and original approaches to promoting their product.
· Choose your battles wisely. Is it worth bitching about every little difference you have with your client's vision on a project? Very rarely. Is it worth going to court over a lousy $200, or would it be better to let it go and continue on the path towards new, better clients?
· Don't work in a vacuum. If you're dubious about a piece of your art, show it to other people and get their feedback. I don't necessarily take the advice too literally, but if five or more people point out the same issue in an illustration, dear God, change it!
· Be inspired. Read magazines, talk to artists, go to shows, take classes, keep practicing, try different techniques or medium. Doing so has a two-fold effect: first off, it keeps your mind open to different approaches to art. I went into Computer Illustration kicking and screaming. Now I preach the gospel about it. Secondly, seeing other art styles keeps you on your toes by showing you who your competition is.
· NOBODY gets their dream job, coming out of the gate. Suck it up, make it work for you, learn as much as you can, and if you're still not happy, figure out a good Exit Strategy. Everyone starts on the ground floor, but it doesn't mean you need to stay there.
· IT'S A SMALL WORLD—Any good businessman/woman lives or dies by their reputation, and none more so than in the microcosm of the art world! We're all going to the same conventions, hanging with people in the same fields, going to the art colleges, entering the same competitions, and talking the entire time. I've seen people get such poor reputations that their businesses dissolve—don't let that be YOUR story!
· Remember that freelancing is a business, just like everything else. This means you have to keep track of everything, just like you would in any other business. Keep track of your mileage for tax deductions, keep spreadsheets of expenses, invoices, food expenses. Keep track of your website traffic. Did that last promotional mailer you send increase the traffic to your site? If it did, what kind of percentage increase did you receive, and better yet, what percentage gave you a job?
· The point of an education is to work smarter, not necessarily harder!
· It never pays to be a dick. Just reinforcing the last point.
· Work for a company in a specific industry before trying it on your own. Every successful company 99.99% of the time is started by someone that worked for a company in that industry before trying it themselves. There are so many factors involved in really big projects, that to just blindly try to do it from scratch--and expect to get it right--is almost guaranteed financial and professional suicide.
· Sometimes you're going to have clients that are hard to please. If you're starting to gain momentum with what you're doing, and don't need certain difficult clientele, one very polite way to try to get rid of a client is to significantly increase your pay scale. That way, it'll either scare them away or at least make it more worth your while to deal with them!
· At the same time, remember that a client is only a temporary boss. With a normal boss at a full-time gig, you have to put up with the person on a day-to-day basis. With a client that's a jerk, eventually the project will be over and they'll go away. So take it on the chin, if you can, just to make the process go as smoothly and as quickly as possible.
· Know basic contracting lingo. Understand what the term "work for hire" literally means, and remember that ANY contract can be revised or negotiated. Never hurts to try.
· Promote yourself. With postcards, tearsheets, websites, banners, skywriting, business cards, phone calls, whatever! Just do it. No one gets "discovered"—they are made aware of someone's presence by that person.
· I'd recommend starting self-promotion on a small scale, and going from there. An e-mail with a link to your site is as cheap as it gets. It's got a 99% chance of being deleted, but it costs nothing but time, and when you're starting out, you typically have more time than money.
· Step back, reevaluate. I'm not necessarily talking about in painting, either. Make a list of what you want to accomplish, figure out HOW and WHEN you want to accomplish it. Timelines are very important. Not making self-imposed deadlines is the slacker's road to complacency! Don't be afraid to revise that plan, as necessary, as time marches on. What you thought would work, and what actually does may be two different things.
· If something didn't work, really do some soul-searching as to what results you were anticipating, and what happened. It may just be bad circumstances or timing, but more than likely you were in error in your judgment, and the plan needs to be altered, or a different approach needs to be taken. Remember--the definition of insanity is doing the same destructive actions and expecting a different result!
· Understand starting out that you will make mistakes. How you handle those mistakes, or make them work for you is entirely what will make you sink or swim! This applies to life, as well as your career!
· Diplomacy is a very valuable skill in any business, not necessarily just art. If you can diffuse a tense situation, convince a stubborn client to your vision, maturely handle a hostile coworker, or put out any other personal fires that sometimes arise from all of us just plain being human, you'll have acquired one of the most valuable assets needed in being a professional, regardless what field you're in.
· Don't fight fate too much. Let life take you where it will. Sometimes sticking too closely to an initial dream might cause you to ignore a better opportunity up ahead.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Tuesday, June 21, 2011


Holy crap, this just looks better and better with each new trailer! Really feels like they finally have the old tone, feel, and sense of humor of the original series right back here again, doesn't it?
Cannot WAIT, especially since I have a kid, now, to share this with!

Monday, June 13, 2011

So You Married An Artist. NOW what?

For every non-art person that marries an artist, I think there's something that's very important to keep in mind: your spouse is cheating on you. And no, not in an actual physical, sexual way, a la any member of Congress, but in the occasional spiritual way. Every passionate artist is always married to two people: their spouse, and their muse.
The spouse of an artist is the one that, hopefully, married them because they appreciate all aspects of their artist hubbie/wife, including that they expose the non-artist spouse to a different side of culture that you'd probably not be aware of, otherwise. This includes all the eccentric artist friends, the strange exhibits/events that they are involved in, as well as the biggest factor: that their attention and passion isn't always directed towards their non-artist spouse.
This last factor is probably the biggest point of contention with spouses of artists, and understandably so. I've been getting more and more into film production lately, and you can only imagine the baffled look on my wife's face when I told her my film buddies and I are going to be filming a short comedic skit on the weekend about a jogger that gets stalked by a duck. It's a clever and quirky script (I think...), but to a merchandise analyst for a Fortune 500 company that got a Finance degree, you can only imagine how random and strange this notion is, especially when it means there is time taken away from her. These flights of fancy are met with confusion, and sometimes betrayal, because they realize--you've been seeing HER again, haven't you? That MUSE of yours! I thought I sensed her visit the other night, when you were typing madly until 2 am on your computer!
But that's just how creatives think. It's especially how we think, when the 9-to-5 job is working at a printing shop making brochures for church and school functions, or doing page layout for textbooks, or cranking out blase' signage for strip mall shops, or anything else that's cut-and-dry and not very creatively-motivating. Sure, our bodies are there earning a living, but our minds are already thinking about the next piece of canvas we're going to go to town on that night. When we're done having dinner, put the kid to bed...we then get to hang out with the muse.
I appreciate having such a polar opposite for a spouse. In fact, I highly recommend that very imaginative artists HAVE a more conservative spouse, because it just really helps keep you grounded with your dreams and ambitions. In my case, I want to do it all--animation, gaming, film, children's book publishing, comic books. I have my fingers in all of it. My wife, however, brings a good sense of pragmatism to the flights of "inspiration" that I have, and has been a very good rudder for my after-hours ambitions, as she has a very different point of view that's more focused on the big picture. Many a time, when I suddenly talk about how fascinating Chinese calligraphy is, and how I should go invest in a fifty dollar brush and ink set, she's very useful at putting things in a better perspective:
"Wait, Jason, what happened to that comic book you started? You got five pages into it, are you done with that project yet?"
"Did you ever wrap up that children's book and submit it to that agent? You know you have an open invitation from her, and that's what you're mostly interested in pursuing, so don't get sidetracked!"
"Whoa, hold on! You've got a week before that deadline on that freelance project! Are you done with that, yet? That check would definitely help us get ahead on that student loan you wanted to pay off!"
These are the best types of critical remarks from non-artist spouses, for they're not discouraging of what I'm doing, but just trying to keep me focused on main priorities with my career that helps move me forward, instead of just aimlessly floating off to the next shiny object in my view port.
If I married another artist, they'd either be just as distracted as I was, or just encourage every ridiculous notion that I had. Can you imagine?
"Honey, I was thinking about recording the sounds of hummingbirds."
"Well," my flighty artsy wife would declare, "you have to go catch them, first! Here, take this giant net, mating whistle, and hummingbird costume, and go!" My god, I'd get NOTHING constructive done!
Most importantly, spouses of artists need to understand that they'll always be competing with the muse for attention. If you love the artist you married, you definitely need to give them space to thrive in that facility. You knew about this aspect of them before getting married to them, and you have to remember to love and accept this aspect, after getting married to them. It is, however, a delicate line that needs to be balanced. Artists, by their very nature, can get self-absorbed, and it's just as important for the artist spouse to be sensitive to their non-artist spouses' needs, as much as they are about the needs of the artist. This means making sure that chores are done in the house before art is finished, not missing big dates like anniversaries because you're busy working on a new song, perhaps not doing every gallery opening since you had already made plans to hang out with another couple this coming weekend, or if you do drag your non-art spouse to the art opening, not spending all night there like you typically do. If you really lack self-control, you might even need to set an alarm to let you know when you need to walk away from a guilty pleasure project, and make time for your loved one.
In life, there is harmony in balance. Such is the case with the married artist, as well. There's great spiritual fulfillment with your art, but there's a whole lot more spiritual growth that you benefit from, spending time with your loved ones, too.

Thursday, June 9, 2011


For years, I'd been hearing Art Directors tell me, "Your art is good, but we'd really like to see a whole series of weapons and other armor in your portfolio, as well." This advice was very good, and I thought it was good...and then proceeded to ignore, for years.
Finally, I got wise, and chose to go ahead and finally succumb to good advice. Sadly, it takes a while for it to sink in, LOL...

It was almost as much fun naming these as it was painting them!

A friend of mine suggested making a small publication, almost like a historical archive, that showcases the weapons and armor (and I'll be doing a wizard's staff sheet, as well) and documents this lost history that only this book will be a testament to. I think this is a great idea, and would be a great small publishing endeavor that I could then spring into bigger and better projects, if this small one bears fruit. Only time will tell.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Drawing of My Daughter

My daughter was sleeping in the car on our hectic drive across Florida this Easter weekend, and I took advantage of it to finally do a drawing of my cutie-patootie!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Village Furnace

A sketch that quickly became an illustration. A lot of people looked at it on, but nobody commented on it. Never a good sign......

Monday, March 21, 2011

So Ya Wanna Be An Art Intern!

I just got to hire my first intern for my department at work a few weeks ago! That was exciting! However, going through the slush of blah artists made it less exciting, but dealing with the people that couldn't follow instructions was infuriating.
I made very straightforward instructions: give me your resume', five of your best art samples, a link to your website, and send it to my specific e-mail address. People couldn't even follow those instructions. I'd get two samples of art instead of five, they'd go check out our website, and instead of the e-mails coming directly to me, as instructed, they'd just sent it through the company, meaning my boss would get inundated by e-mails HE didn't want to deal with (that's why he hired me!) and even when I said I was looking for local artists, I'd still get the random e-mail from Spain, asking if it's okay if he/she would apply.
So, in an attempt to REALLY CLARIFY what potential art applicants should and shouldn't do, here's a quick, concise list for any aspiring artist to follow. (Psst! A lot of these rules apply to ANY job applicant, too, so don't bail it you're not the artsy kind!)

RULE 1: I'M NOT LOOKING TO HIRE A COPYING MACHINE. Oh, look, here's several pictures in your portfolio that are either a few filters on a professional photo or just you duplicating a well-shot photo of a current celebrity! Know how much I care about that? Not at all. I'm looking for ORIGINAL CONTENT. I want to hire you as an artist to create art out of your head, not copy a pre-made photograph. If that's what I wanted, I'd just buy the stock photo.

RULE 2: DON'T JUST DO THE BARE MINIMUM. You can tell what assignments a class gets when you see a million of the same thing in the student portfolios from the same college. With 3-D at my old college, it was that old-fashioned Mr. Munch robotic penny bank for modeling, and then the standard bouncing ball and walk cycle for animations. With illustration, it was the acrylic animal eye and watercolor face portraits that was in EVERY portfolio. Obviously, if all you're turning in is what you were assigned to do for a grade, you're not showing that you have much ambition or imagination. So why would I expect you to give me either if I hired you?

RULE 3: FOLLOW INSTRUCTIONS. If I ask for a cover letter, a resume, a link to a website, five of your best illustrations, and a specific e-mail to send applications to, you better do every damn step EXACTLY how I told you to! If you can't get those instructions right, trying to teach you the complexities and intricacies of how our company is run is just going to annihilate you! Or worse--waste a lot of my spare time trying to hold your hand through the process. P.S. Have another person read your cover letter if spelling isn't your strong suit. If you can't expend the extra energy to spell-check or proof your own cover letter, the employer's going to interpret that you don't care enough to get the job.

RULE 4: BASIC ART PRINCIPLES. Don't send me half-finished artwork! Don't send me art that clearly isn't applicable to what we do! If you include a figure drawing, finish the hands, feet, and face! Unfinished art always sends the wrong message to the art director.

RULE 5: WALK THE WALK. Don't act like you know a program or are familiar with a process that you're not. Eventually you'll be put to task on this thing you don't know, and if it's on a tight deadline and you don't deliver, you've pretty much given yourself your own termination notice. Downplay your ignorance, but emphasize your ENTHUSIASM to learn more! Honesty is always the best policy, and if you show a basic knowledge of the principles, it might just be enough to encourage a boss to give you a chance.

RULE 6: DON'T CALL US, WE'LL CALL YOU. Did you send your contact information via e-mail, on the cover letter, and include it on the resume? Was the e-mail bounced back to you? If yes to the first question, and no to the second, okay, assume we've got your information and art. Don't e-mail me right after, asking if I got your stuff. Follow-ups can get REALLY annoying if you're a busy art director. Obviously, you get an interview, sure, do a follow-up. But silence from the company is usually the best critique you can get about the applicability of the art you submitted. NOTE: It doesn't necessarily mean you're a BAD artist, but perhaps that what you submitted doesn't fit the need of what we currently are looking for.

RULE 7: THE JOB INTERVIEW DOESN'T END WHEN YOU'RE PICKED. If you're hired as an intern, it's basically a litmus test to see if you're a good fit. Hiring an intern means, "Hey, we're willing to give you a shot here, professionally, for cheap, and perhaps if things work out, we MIGHT give you full-time employment!" So don't act like you can relax. The real test starts, the minute you start working there. Be punctual. Be respectful. Get to know people. Get those people to like who you are. But most importantly, work your ASS off. Interns are hired to do menial tasks that higher more experienced labor A) Doesn't WANT to do, and B) are way too knowledgeable on other aspects of the company to do such a menial task. As an intern given the petty jobs, MAKE SURE YOU DO THEM RIGHT. And with a smile on your face! If you can't get the coffee order right, or scan things properly, or put files in the correct folder, how will they ever trust you with larger responsibilities on a giant team project? In addition, if you mope and complain about every task I give you, what makes you think I'll be eager to continue collaborating with you? I know it seems like a common sense philosophy, but I've seen many a person dig their own grave with just their attitude, alone, when it came to getting a full-time position. I will gladly take a more personable yet less talented team player under my wing than a more talented prick. People are already complex and demanding enough. Please don't complicate that for any one!

So those are the big rules. I'm sure I'll add to this as I think of other things. But it's the big strokes, and if you follow these rules, you'll probably at least have a better head-start than most applicants do. Good luck, and most importantly, keep on drawing!!!!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Promotional Postcard, and the Hustle

The biggest weaknesses that most artists have? Two big ones stick out to me: the lack of self-promotion and no ability to hustle (aka negotiate).
A lot of artists have this amazing contradiction going within them--they're COMPLETELY self-absorbed in their work, but have no urge to try to promote themselves. It seems if you're THAT into yourself, you'd be telling THE WORLD about it, but not the case, with most artists.
I don't know if this is because artists have no idea how to even START promoting themselves, or if that's just energy they'd prefer to waste on doing artwork. Well, I'm here to tell you, when you're a fledgling artist, you've got more TIME than money, and in all honesty, you need to spend about 50% hustling/promoting and 50% doing art. I know that's a horrifically discouraging ratio to any artist, but in all honesty, ANY new business would be spending about that same ratio of time on actual trade and promotion. One cannot create within a vaccuum! Same goes for promotions, too! You need to beat the pavement, shake hands, make phone calls, send e-mails! Nobody gets "discovered", I don't give a shit WHAT you hear! You put yourself out there to EVERYBODY, and then about 1% of those people you promote yourself to will give you work.
Which brings me to my latest promotional effort, a new promotional postcard! Here it is:

The alligator in the center of the composition has given me a TON of work, so I figured I might as well give him some reptilian friends, and see if this gets me more enjoyable work! As much as I pride myself on diversity of style, I definitely gravitate more towards cartoony.

So, the Hustle, the second Achilles Heel of artists, and other workers, in general. I'm convinced that most people just accept the first wage thrown at them when it's offered to them at a job interview. Same thing applies to people that get a freelance offer. They simply say "yes" or even let themselves get talked down on price. Well, I can tell you, from personal experience, you need to REVERSE that approach. Even if they don't budge on price, get them to budge on other things, like the amount of finished material you receive from them as promotional materials, paying for room and board if you're on location working for them, per diem, etc.
With my postcards, the printer was raving about my cartoony cards, and then mentioned that she wanted to redo her bland flamingo on her logo. A week later, I needed more postcards than what I initially bought (500), so I made a work-for-product deal: Print me out another 100 postcards, give me an I.O.U. for the other 400, and I'll render that flamingo for you that you've been craving for. Well, here it is:

She's THRILLED with it, and has become a strong advocate of what I do for the last few weeks, sending me phone calls from her business! So, it just goes to show: you can print postcards 'til the cows come home--your reputation and networking ability is what REALLY gets you work!