Jakob and Jessica

Paintings! These are private commissions for the talented and kind Jakob Westman and his girlfriend, Jessica. I’m particularly proud of these. Jakob specifically wanted to commission me to do this style of painting, from what I call my “Night Life” series. This is what those paintings could have looked like, if I hadn’t had to finish them in 1 to 2 days.

Sadly, I don’t think there will be any new paintings from me in the near future. I’m shifting into a designer/developer career path, and I won’t have time to paint until I’m gainfully employed.

Video game mock-ups

I’ve been sitting on these for a while. This was some pitch work I did over the summer. A team of local programmers was working on a Rock Band style game that used a real guitar to pitch at E3. Sadly, at E3 Rock band announced that they were going to start using real guitars. Beat to the punch I guess. Still, it was a fun project. This was the beginning of my interest in 3D. It’s hard for me to believe now, but I was ecstatic to use Google sketch-up with PS, AE, and AI to make these. Mostly because I didn’t have to worry about perspective, which I don’t enjoy drawing. If I had known how easy other 3D programs were to use I wouldn’t have used sketch-up.

Cthulhu

You know how if someone is missing for 7 days you can legally declare them dead? I believe that if you don’t hear from the client for a month, you can declare the project dead. This was supposed to be a record cover. I was timid about working for a band again, as I have had bad experiences with them in the past. I took a chance and accepted a cover job for a small band, and a small fee. At this point, the band is nowhere to be found. ::Sigh:: I will never do that again.

The real shame is that I think this would have been the best CD cover I’ve ever done. The difference is that this is designed to be eye catching, iconic, and to read well at a small size. I used to try putting epic pieces on those little 5″ squares (or whatever they are), but that’s really not the way to go. Simplify the message.

This probably would be a good submission for Spectrum, but I don’t see the point in entering anymore. I’m not looking for work as an illustrator, and I don’t have money to waste on submission fees.

This is mixed media. It’s a charcoal, pencil, and white gouache drawing, colored digitally. I think it’s a great way to work. It has the speed and flexibility of digital, with the texture and “artist’s hand” that makes traditional so nice.

Sorry if this post is a downer, I was burned by another band, rejected for yet another job, and I filed for unemployment today. I’ve been out of work for over 2 years, and it’s getting to me.

Some other stuff

Some random stuff nobody has seen. I’ve been experimenting with video the last few months. Video is just awesome. I’m not very good at it yet, but I’m surprised how generally easy it is to pick up, if you are already familiar with other creative programs. The main problem is how long it takes! Hours and hours of rendering. These videos need a lot of work, mostly on the animation which is not so fluid. I made them just to learn, so I’m not concerned with a high level of finish. The Victorian with the lit sign was going to be part of a new website layout, but I ultimately decided to go another direction. Kinda sad because I put a lot of work into it, but I remember thinking when it was done “Man, I really wish this was a drawing!”

The character sketches were developed for Sunken Castles, and since now they will never be used for anything I guess I can post them. I recolored a couple of them when I was learning to paint digitally.

jeremyforson.com V6 live

You might have noticed some changes around here. For a while now I’ve been working on a new look for my site, and today I applied it across my websites.  I started to feel that the old site had gone TOO far in the direction of minimal design and light weight file sizes. I stripped out everything that was unnecessary, and that left very little. Technically it was good, but it felt cold and detached. I wanted to add some more personality into my website, and make it friendlier. The new site is bigger in file size than the old one, but still small as far as websites go. I added some older work that I still like, and tried to add more content in general. I did not expect to settle on Garamond and gold, but I’m happy with the way it came out. To me, the time I spent studying graphic design recently is apparent, but I don’t know if other people can tell.

Las Vegas

I went to Las Vegas a few weeks ago for a wedding and I saw a woman that looked something like this. I was just so captivated by how perfectly Las Vegas she looked, as well as the stories I imaged she would have. She was in the casino, smoking with a broken arm, huge gnarly scar on her calf, haggard looking, tacky dress, big fake breasts, and a tattoo she must have gotten a couple hours ago because she was still wearing the plastic wrap. Amazing. One of those things where nobody noticed her except me. This image has just been sitting in my head since then. I finally got a chance to sketch it out. The tattoo was just little lines, looked like a bar graph.

John Hersey lecture

Last night I went to CCA for John Hersey’s lecture. The photo is of some wrapping paper he was nice enough to give out to people after the lecture. I like the little cube faces. I have to admit that, even though I respect him as an illustrator and designer, his work is not really my cup of tea. I’m sure he would say the same about me, we have very different styles. Still, I think it’s important to participate in illustration-centric events when you can find them, and it’s always good to listen to lectures and interviews from illustrators. You never know what you might learn, and sometimes you can find a new respect for their work. John’s presentation was light-hearted and very funny at times. I do like his isometric work quite a bit. When I saw it I wondered if e-boy had draw some influence from John’s work, as he was doing digital isometric illustrations as far back as the 80’s. I was especially interested when he was talking about an economic recession in 1993 that almost wiped him out. He took the time to make a book of his work and mail it to people. Not sure if that helped, but either way he made it through the economic downturn.

I talked to Barron Storey after the lecture about how I’ve been having trouble finding work, and my concerns about it being due to the quality of my illustrations, since I know many art directors have seen my work, and not hired me for one reason or another. He didn’t think it was because my work was bad at all, and told me a story about how he had done some illustrations of Despair and sent it to Neil Gaiman. He heard nothing about for 7 YEARS then Neil started writing about it on his blog out of the blue. I suppose that the connections you make can sometimes take years to bear fruit. Doesn’t really help my situation now, but it does put my mind at ease a bit. Robert Hunt weighed in on how he thinks that mass mailing is plainly not effective. I’m inclined to agree with him. Bob knows his stuff, and is excellent both as an illustrator, and a businessman. I’d like to know more of his thoughts.

I went out to drinks/dinner with everyone afterwords. Hanging out with a bunch of other illustrators is THE BEST, so I was happy to be there. I was glad to see Chris Koehler, Alexis Lopez, Caitlin Kuhwald, Randy Chavez, of course Bob and Barron, as well finally meeting John Hersey and Owen Smith. I saw Alexis Mahrus and Mark Eanes as well, but didn’t get to talk to them much. Randy told me about figure drawing on Wednesday nights at CCA. It’s free, 7-10. I think I’m going to start going after Thanksgiving. I heard about it, but didn’t think much about going since drawing figures is not what I’m focused on at this point. I’m more interested in ideas, composition, storytelling, and color. I don’t feel that technical skills like chiaroscuro, line work, and anatomy are really low points in my skill set right now, but still I’d like to go for community reasons. Hang out with some other artists, do some drawings, talk shop, etc. These things are fun to me, and productive, so it seems like a good idea.

Client Shopping

Today I’m not drawing (as much) because I’m client shopping. Essentially what that means is I’m looking for potential clients, and taking down their contact information so I can try to solicit my services to them later on. It’s a necessary task for all illustrators at one point or another. In my case, I haven’t been marketing myself, and I haven’t been getting work, so I badly need to address the situation. One reason I don’t market myself more is that it can be very expensive, and it’s a gamble. My past experience hasn’t been so good. For a year I had subscribed to a pricey contact list that gave me essentially any email or postal address I could want in the publishing, advertising, or music industry. I sent out lots of email blasts, and one postcard mailer, and after all was said and done I only got one job, which was nice, but the payment for that gig was not nearly enough to cover the costs. Most people would say that I need to do many more mailers, but they cost about $200 every time, mostly because of the postage. Email blasts only have a small percentage of success. If you have a service for mass emails, you actually get some analytics back about how many people opened the email, who they are, and how many clicked through, meaning that they clicked a link to your website. I noticed a spike in visitors to my site every time I sent one out, but still no work. I’m also on Altpick and theispot.com, both of which have not brought me work personally, in spite of other illustrators I know swearing my them. What to make of all of this? Well, I’m doing something wrong, but I don’t know what it is. Thousands of people see my work every day through the various websites I’m on, and still nothing. The only thing I can think of at this point is that my work must not be very good, and that seems hard to believe considering a lot of other encouraging things that have happened over the course of my career. When I was doing my senior thesis portfolio revue, I remember Shawn Barber told me “All you have to do is get this in front of people.” Sadly, that didn’t work out, and it’s left me pondering what I’m doing that is not appealing to potential clients.

So what’s next? Cold calls. The last thing I ever wanted to do, and who would? It’s basically focused telemarketing, and I’m not a good salesman. On top of cold calls, I need to try to meet more people in person and show them my work. I might not get any jobs this way, but maybe I can find an art director who will be honest enough to tell me why I’m not getting hired more often.

On that note, I’m available for work of all kinds, and will be happy to talk to anyone who would like to purchase my services. I’m specifically looking for book cover work, posters, and editorial, but I’m open to record covers, tattoos, dog portraits, covering your dish-washing shift, whatever! No graphic novels though, sorry. Send me an email or give me a call if you’ve got a project for me.