Dog Sketch 3

Another pen sketch from dog sitting. This is the paw of the same dog from my last post =) Paws really are odd looking when you look at them up close…

PawSketch

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Dog Sketch 2

Another page out of my sketchbook. The scan was pretty wonky, which is why the lines are a so hard.

DogSketch1

I sketched this while dog/house sitting. She’s a Great Dane named Fizzlewitt doing her best to fit onto a very small chair.

Wheatpaste Concept Sketches 2

Another concept sketch for the wheat paste I’m planning. This time I was testing out the composition, making sure the positions of the characters worked. Plus I was testing out the style. I wasn’t sure just how cartoony I wanted to go with it. I liked the look of the composition for the most part, but the fox and kids turned out too exaggerated.

A little more tweaking and it’s almost ready!

Inspiration: Mexican Huichol Art

I’ve already talked a lot about Aboriginal Australian art and how much it’s inspired me in my own work. Their art has been inspiring me for most of my life, but just recently I also found the Huichol.

My sister and her boyfriend moved to a small town just north of Puerto Vallarta, Mexico in Nayarit about three years ago. After they had settled in a bit I flew down to visit with them (…and the beach). My sister had been telling me about the local artwork and how amazing it was, so one day we drove to the next town over for a weekend market where we were hoping to see some. Sure enough there were several booths set up… absolutely overflowing with color. The tables mostly consisted of yarn paintings and bead work and all of it was absolutely beautiful. I knew I’d found something really special as soon as I saw it.

I wish I could say more about the Huichol (Wixaritari) people, but the truth is I don’t know very much yet. I do know that they are an extremely old culture and struggling to remain intact. They retain their own language and religion, one based in Animism, and the designs of their art are direct reflections of that faith.

Some Huicholes have actually brought their art to wider audiences through galleries and exhibitions. One of my favorites is this:

It’s a Volkswagon Bug and it’s covered, absolutely covered, in over 2 million glass beads.

It’s name is Vochol (VW Bugs are called “Vochos” in Mexico). I’ve known about it for a while, but in one of those amazing coincidences I walked right into it one day! I was flying in to Denver International Airport (of all places..!) and as I was walking out of Arrivals I looked up and there it was, right in the middle of the floor. There was no lighting on it and only the tiniest display with it so it was easy to miss and I almost didn’t recognize it for what it was! I was geeking out and practically drooling all over it in the middle of the Airport… I got a few odd looks…

More traditional (and no less bad ass) Huichol bead art is normally done on carved wooden statues that are covered in Bee’s wax. Each little bead is pressed into the wax with a needle, one at a time.

There is also amazing beaded jewelry.

This is a super long post… but one last thing =)

For more information of Huichol you can check out the Wixarika Research Center.

Platypus Painting

This is a painting that I actually did years ago. In fact, it was one of my very first paintings in acrylic! I had only really worked with watercolor before and I was having fun with the thickness of the paint. Plus I had just been talking to a friend of mine about how beautiful Australian Aboriginal art is, so I was pretty inspired. I started out with a very basic shape of a platypus and painted in some very simple shapes behind him. Then I just started to dot dot dot one at a time, little by little filling the spaces. I think it took me something like 30 hours to complete.

I love paintings that spill over the sides of the canvas. They look like they’re popping out of the frame and it makes them so much more dynamic than images that just stop at the edges. That and, while you can’t see it in the photos, the paint of the dots is actually so thick it pops right off the canvas and gives the whole thing texture.

I did a few more of these paintings after this one (an echidna, a wallaby, a kangaroo rat) but this first one is still my favorite from the series and inspired me to do a lot more work with dots, texture and pointalism.

Freelancing: Issue #8503

I really love to brag about my job. As far as desk jobs go, mine’s juuuuust about one of the coolest! I’m basically doing for money what I’d be doing if I had nothing better to do =)
But every job has it’s downsides, right? Freelancing is definitely a “Feast or Famine” type of gig. I always have either WAY too much to get done nownownow… or nuthin’. Zip. Zero. And then back to omgwaytoomuch aaaaaaaaah!… It’s fun though, and it’s all a matter of pacing myself I’ve found, and lots of planning ahead. I try to always have several projects of my own on the back burner; drawings, crafty stuff, new signs or product ideas, etc. That way when those slow times come around I don’t end up just sitting on my hands, I can grab one of those projects and run with it until I get more paid work.

On the flip side, the same goes for the paid work. I never seem to have just one commission at a time; it’s always 5-10 all of a sudden and I need to get ’em done quick! Unfortunately, especially for the work I do in illustration, a lot of the pacing depends on the customer. I often find myself waiting on payments (which I almost always take up front. More on that later…), commission details, references, contact information, yadayadayada. Sometimes I send previews of the work and end up waiting days to weeks, even months before I get a response! So I’ve found it’s really important to be able to switch between commissions and work easily, without getting too hung up on the one I’m working on. Multitasking! Very important.

That said, I do have a “queue”, a sort of commission line that people get on depending both on when they contact me about the commission and when they pay. While I give the current commissions at the top of the queue top priority, I also bounce around the queue line while waiting on any of the many things I talked about above, or sometimes when I hit an art block on a certain piece and need to take a short break to get my groove back.

As for what I said earlier about always taking payments upfront, I’ve been burned before, but more than that a lot of friends of mine in the same field have been burned before. It’s (really unfortunately) not too unusual for people to try to get art for “free” by ordering work, then either disappearing or simply ignoring any payment requests once the work is complete. Luckily this has never happened to me, but I have had clients that procrastinate and procrastinate and make one excuse after another about why they can’t pay yet “but next week for sure!”. Basically it just becomes very unpleasant for everyone involved as I then have to take on the role of Collector and they have to deal with getting hounded about debts. After doing this several times I decided that I had enough of a clean track record with commissions and clients that it wasn’t unreasonable to ask for all payments upfront. Now, I do understand that it’s not always easy to pay for expensive things like art all in one lump sum, so I do offer small payment options for the more expensive works. But again, in order to protect myself, the payment always has to be made in full before work is completed.

I know lots of artists that have very different policies on how they take and work through commissions, and how they accept payments, but this is the method that I’ve settled on for myself and it seems to be working out. In fact, if there are any artists/freelancers reading this, I’d love to hear your methods/thoughts on this process!

Wheatpaste Concept Sketches

I’ve been tossing around ideas for a wheatpaste that I want to try out.. I’ve never done it before, so I really have no idea what I’m doing and it’ll be a total experiment. Here are some of the concept sketches I did for my first idea. (sorry about the awful scans =/)

I wanted to do something light and fun, and I’ve also had masks on the brain for a while now. The general idea is two children playing with fox masks, one distracted and the other confronting the very  spirit they were playing at, face to face.

I actually have the semi-final sketches for this idea just about completed, but I’ll wait to post those until I’m a little further along.

Fur Suiting, for reals this time

So I posted something about this a few days ago and promised I would explain it. The most basic explanation of FurSuits is this; they are animal costumes.

A little more detail? Okay, so fursuits are most popular in a fandom called “Furry“. The point is to anthropomorphize an animal or creature that a person wants to represent themselves as. The Furry fandom is based around a group of people that, in one way or another, personify themselves in an animal, but it’s not limited to that. Interests within the fandom are extremely broad; anything from a love of classic old Bugs Bunny cartoons, to the spirit animals of Native Americans or the gods of ancient Egypt, to the more technical side of costuming and prosthetics. Personally? My interests are in the artistic aspect. As far as fandoms go, Furries are extremely art and artist friendly… but I’m getting off topic.

To be completely honest, when I first started selling at these conventions, fursuits freaked me out.

Seriously. WTF. Gigantic furry suits with big huge eyes towering over you with who knows who inside… Buuut I guess you can get used to just about anything given enough time, right? After I got over the initial shock I started to really appreciate the craftsmanship and creativity that goes into them. Every year I see something new and innovative that’s really amazing. There are a lot of hobbyists that dabble in fursuit creation, but then there are those hobbyists that have taken it to a whole new level, and even professionals in areas like Hollywood creature creation and animatronics. Two years ago I had a long conversation with a man who had created a fox head that was fully mobile. The eyes opened and closed as could the mouth. The lips around the teeth could even be bared like a snarl, all controlled by sensors placed on the wearer’s face. The ears were fully mobile and twitched and moved about according to a sort of “mood” sensor touching the wearer’s forehead within the mask. The man was an engineer by profession and had created the mask over the past few years as a fun side project.

On the more artistic side there are also creations like these.

They are unique designs by a studio called Clockwork Creatures and the craftsmanship and detail in each and every one is absolutely amazing. They remind me of the creatures and designs from the 1980’s movie The Dark Crystal (before CG took over the movie business…)

TL;DR… it can be a little shocking/confusing/creepy when you first see a fursuit, and yah, not all of them are amazing works of art or engineering… but no matter what, there is a lot of time and effort that goes into each and every one and sometimes the results can be really amazing.
EDIT: oh yah… it’s Thanksgiving today, isn’t it? Happy Turkey Day all of you States side =)

Whoops!

The area had a little internet outage today so I didn’t get to post what I was supposed to earlier… This is definitely something that has worried me a lot since being down here. The unreliability of the internet is becoming a pretty serious problem, since my entire business is based around it! Not only that, but I’m pretty limited in technology as a whole. No data or constant wifi can really put a damper on things.

On a brighter note, I may have made a great work connection at my last convention. If all goes well my conventioning may just have just become leaps and bounds easier! My dad always told me, “It’s not what you know, but who you know.” I guess he was right. (queue, “I told you so!”)

Back from the con aaaaand…

I promised a post explaining fur suits yesterday, didn’t I? Weeeell travel back home was a little crazy (early morning international flights are never fun…) and I’m bushed. Totally whipped out from the con weekend. So instead of a full explanation, for now I’ll just leave you with this: