For those of you who have been following me for a long time, you may remember the “Cats Are Aliens” doodles I did on napkins or perhaps you have seen them popping up on Instagram. I found those drawings, scanned them and gave them some new life. I’ll continue to collect them here in this gallery as I finish each one. Enjoy!
How awesome is that? Albert Einstein’s birthday (March, 14th, 1879) and Pi Day (3.14) are on the same day? The only thing that would be better would be if his birthday was on 299,792,458 (speed of light) day, but I don’t think that occurs, ever. I think we should celebrate by cracking the code to marrying relativity and quantum theory together. Well, let’s just start with having a piece of pie; that seems more manageable for today. So, for all you math and science fans out there here are two wallpapers for you. Just click to get the full resolution and then you can save it to your device.
After being away for a little while, The Daily Mobster has started up again with new gangsters! The stories and characters are ever growing. Be sure to head over and follow along and don’t be afraid to share! Just for fun, I have compiled all of them together below, so please enjoy!
(Be sure to read in a slow, grisly, proper voice)
E is for Edward, he’d be eighty eight, I say.
G is for Gorey, happy, happy Birthday.
My copies of Ultraswing‘s “Jouez” have arrived; they look so great printed! There is always something pretty great about seeing work printed as it has such a different feel that being digitally onscreen. They have a tactile substance that I love. The music is great too, so if you like gypsy jazz in the style of Django Reinhardt be sure to check out Ultraswing; they have worked really hard to putting this album together and I listened to it on my drive up to the north valley this weekend and the tracks are wonderful. You can have a look at flat, larger versions of the covers from an older post here.
Ultraswing, the UK gypsy jazz band has just released their next album, “Jouez,” for which I did the album art work. This was a great project to work on, especially for developing some fun characters, interesting vignettes and scenes. They wanted to go with the idea of a speak-easy style jazz club featuring the full ensemble as well as all the characters that go along with that type of lounge. As soon as I receive my copies in the mail, I will be sure to post some photos of the product as well. There are interior panels and the disc itself, as well. If you like jazz, and especially gypsy style jazz, in the vein of Django Reinhardt you should certainly check them out and give them a listen; plus, they are super cool cats.
The proof print for “The Island and the Plough” has officially arrived! I must say, it is very exciting to see it in physical print. Regardless of my thoughts on ebooks, and digital media, there is something really great about a book. I am still sorting the official business with copyrights, and the ISBN registry, which will allow some time for the printers of the final version but it is so good to see this in near finished form. I want to thank everyone who helped me along the way and have been so patient as well as those who follow and support the entire process. I can’t wait for this to be a completed project, and then start the next!
Here are six preview images of the book proof. I tried to choose six images that sort of represent something we can learn from this entire process.
1: First Impressions Are Important
First impressions certainly aren’t the be-all-end-all, but despite the old saying to not judge a book by its cover, people do. I know I do, but more importantly than judging it is calling attention to and grabbing the eye. Something catchy, simple, and strong is often a great idea for the front, cover, or introduction of any project. A book calls you by its cover.
2: Dot your Is and cross your Ts.
The “legal/acknowledgments” section of any project is of the utmost importance. Noting your sources and identifying yourself is crucial, even on a single image. There is nothing I hate more than finding a great image or illustration on the web but there is no identifier as to where it came from, so I can never find more of that goodness! Thank Google for the reverse image look up. Don’t forget to acknowledge those that may have helped. Be gracious, thank those that have honestly helped you, because no project is done alone (even those that physically are done alone, mental, emotional and inspiration support comes from everywhere).
3. Set yourself some rules.
Like Papa warning the children of rules of the island, be sure to set yourself some basic ground rules. Projects very easily get out of hand, grow larger than expected and veer off into unexpected territories. Be clear with yourself about goals and expectations. Most importantly make sure your project is manageable! It is much easier to grow any project than to trim back an unwieldy beast.
4. Know your strengths and embrace weaknesses.
Papa has the wonderful idea to throw apples from the tree down to his son Eli who catches them. This works well until he throws an apple too far, setting forth the entire story. Know where your strengths will take you and what weaknesses you have that might hold you back. Focus your strengths to really drive the project and carry the bulk of the work. You may even tailor a project (Like this project I focused on constrast with black and white) to your specific strengths. Work with weaknesses, not against them. Composition, for me, is tricky. To be frank, the children’s books out there have little of it (mostly just an image with text below); finding reference or examples was quite difficult. I needed to be creative and make composition a focus but not let it hold me back as I wanted a very graphic style and include dense typography to help tell the story.
5. Be willing to accept non-perfection.
There are many things, even in this final piece or a feature film I may have worked on of which I still want to change. The viewer almost never notices them, so learn when good is good for the sake of the project, time line, goals, and just over all sanity, to not obsess. Like Papa needing consolation from Mama, don’t be afraid to ask for help, critiques and comments. You are your own worst critic, so fresh eyes that aren’t directly attached to the project are best, but try to make it someone who will be constructive and give reasons to what they think rather than claiming something is not working. Surely, too many comments can lead to a mess, but none is far more dangerous. I suggest getting feedback early on in the process, then work on it a bit for yourself, and then comments near the end (but not so far to the end you can’t take them into account). Try to ask someone other than your mother.
6. Just do what you want.
Some of my story ideas are certainly a little “off the beaten path.” An editor I once talked to said my work is wonderfully unique, but impossible to categorize (and therefore, market). I was unsure if I should take that as a compliment or a critique. It may be true, and I might possibly only live in a niche market, but that is all I know; do what you know. I write about what I think about, and things I would enjoy to read or illustrate. Perhaps, this story is a little heavy for children and I wouldn’t even dare to call this book for children, rather an story for those who also like illustrations. If something is deemed “unmarketable,” I always go back to the fact that someone marketed and sells (a lot, mind you) rubber dog poop and plastic vomit. Anything is marketable.
I have the first actual printed proof of “The Island and the Plough,” on its way to me. I am awaiting eagerly for it to arrive. This puts me ever so close to the finish line for this project. Meanwhile, I also am working with a friend who is a developer to release an App version of the book with some fun interactive tid-bits and animation. I hope to have that out soon after the print release. The above is again, just a nerdy digital book mock up, but I will be able to finally post an actual photo soon!
Who knew I could make it this far with just a silly mobster theme? I have to admit that I worried, I cried, I even confessed to “Mad Ma” Johnson that early on, I would run out of ideas and she might have to break my knuckles. But, I am quickly finding out that just about anything can be turned into a goofy character; I mean, there is a character based entirely off of neckties, and looks like a necktie! The Daily Mobster has just reached 40 mobsters and is quickly nearly the 50 mark! I have a special announcement to make when we reach 50 so make sure to stay tuned, and share with a friend. New readers are always welcome and if you have ideas, thoughts or comments, share them! Thank you all for the following and support.
I like Johnny Cash; I also like the way he looks. His appearance and personality make for a great caricature. Here is an original ink drawing I did (before) and then a treated poster print (after) of Johnny Cash as “The Man in Black.” It is actually available for iPhone skin and poster print, but I am wondering what I might ultimately do with some of these caricatures. They were on Etsy as cards a while ago, but I guess cards aren’t the best application for a caricature.
Normally, when I check my stats page in the morning the usual search terms that bring people to my page have been “Django Reinhardt”, “Django Reinhardt Cartoon”, “Book Layout”, and “Black and white characters.” Today, however, I am delighted to say that I come up under “crazy illustrator.” I am not sure what this means. Am I crazy creative, crazy good, crazy bad, crazy crazy? Anyway, thank you for making my day fellow searcher.
This also begs the question why “Jack Benny’s Suit” leads people here. “Magneto’s Helmet” seems to quite popular as well. Regardless of all this, thank you all for each and every visit, no matter how you get here, really! Thank you!
Illustration Friday’s topic popped up as “Fluid” and I immediately thought of a past project I was working on about three years ago. The villains in the story shed off black, inky, fluid as they moved about. Unfortunately, this was one of those projects I just had to let die as, every time I sat down to work on it I drew a blank and struggled endlessly trying to achieve what I wanted. It definitely taught me how to learn to let something die. I have to admit that I really want to complete this project, but am not regretful that I dropped it. It allowed me to clear my head and start over on several other projects since. I still love the story and the concept, so I am sure I will return to it in the future. The manuscript actually came together quite nicely with the exception of one plot hole, as did some of the initial pencils of each page. But, when I sat down to some of the very important page layouts, to finish the ink for each page, or do the final treatments (and this book had a lot of “effects” involved) it just never looked the way I wanted it to and unfortunately the mood and plot of the story relied very heavily on the visuals. I hope to add it back into my queue of projects sometime.
The basic set up for this page is that Benjamin Brigham is a rotter and just a really nasty little child. He plays horribly (really horrible, some times life threatening ;p ) pranks on people, is grouchy and grumpy, and puts up a fight to nearly anything his parents or teachers wish him to do. After being thrown from several schools and scaring away countless nannies and sitters, his parents receive a letter in the mail regarding the most prestigious academy for troubled youth that guarantees perfect results. Madame Lynch, the administrator of the academy has come to collect young Benjamin.
Come witness, the amazing, brilliant, shocking, stunning Miraculous Marvelous Marvin! For one night only watch this one man show; no assistants needed! You won’t believe your eyes and you won’t believe the astounding, wonderful, thrilling, mind bending, brain boggling tricks, illusions and feats of disaster! Watch a single man appear, disappear, eat fire, blow fire, jump through fire, juggle knives, dazzle with costume changes, practical illusions and perform his most incredible illusion of sawing himself apart!
(For Illustration Friday : “Separated” )