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, 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.

Prop. 8

I’ve been wanting to do an illustration about Prop. 8, California’s constitutional ban on same sex marriage, for some time now, but I was too busy working on other projects. I’ve left my company, amicably, and I’m now working on a new portfolio, and looking for work. It feels great to be doing personal pieces again 🙂

Over the summer I was working on NDA projects that have yet to be released, and it helped me to take a break from gallery work and illustration, and get some perspective on what I’ve been doing. Sometimes (in whatever you’re doing) you can hit a wall, and it helps to take a break and come back to it. I don’t know the exact science of why it helps, but it seems like your mind needs time off to make new neural connections. Now that I’m back at it, I feel as if I “leveled up” and it’s amazing! When I’m drawing, it seems like I’m not moving the pencil, it’s just doing what I’m thinking. Spooky. One direction I did not expect to be heading in was digital. I guess that the computer has been playing an increasingly larger role in my picture making over the last year or so, but after doing the Zombie self-portrait, and now this, I’ve become a digital convert. I can’t imagine what this piece would be like if I tried to paint it, not to mention how long it would have taken. I’m in love with the speed and flexibility of working digitally, and for mostly practical reasons I expect to continue in this direction. I feel that I did a pretty good job of bringing my painting style into the digital realm, but I’d like some feedback on that. I’m showing some new influences as well. Since I got an iPhone, I’ve been digging vintage photography apps, and you can see that I applied a cross-process look to this illustration.

I really wanted to do an opinion illustration about this subject for a couple reasons. I haven’t seen any illustrations about it, and it’s an issue I feel strongly about. I think Barron Storey would say that’s exactly the kinds of things you need to illustrate.

If you don’t know, there’s a big deal about gay marriage right now, duh. What you might not ave heard is that the Mormon church has put vast sums of money into banning gay marriage in California, which is why there’s a little Mormon guy in the corner. This idea started off being humorous, a rampaging prop 8 monster destroying a city of gay wedding cakes, and in the beginning the monster was kinda silly looking, like a Japanese vinyl toy or something, but conceptually that bothered me. I didn’t want prop. 8 to be cute or funny at all, because that’s not how I feel about it, I wanted it to look as scary as possible. We’re dealing with bigotry made into law after all. What I’ve ended up with is a mix of humor and horror that I had a lot of fun making.

Sketch today

Did a sketch today and applied a few coats of gesso to the deck. I tinted the gesso with light blue for a unifying color. I’m not sure about this sketch, so I’m going to keep messing with it and maybe do a few different versions. Mostly re-arranging. I’ve been working pretty slowly lately. It’s nice to work at a more leisurely pace than I usually have to, at the same time, I feel guilty for not working as hard as possible.

Skate deck

I’m starting a skate deck project today. I got an email from the Montana Skatepark Association a few weeks ago asking me if I’d contribute to their art show/auction to raise money for skateparks. I applied, was accepted, and got a deck in the mail a little while later. If you didn’t see, I posted a link on my Facebook fan page, and at least one other person was accepted into the show as well. Cool stuff! I haven’t painted a deck since I was a sophomore (I think?) in college. It’s been a while, and I’m looking forward to making another one. It’s not due for a while, but I like to be ahead of schedule, and it’s still my most pressing deadline.

More info:

Born Anchors CD cover

I worked on a CD cover for Born Anchors. It never really made it to completion, so this is it’s last manifestation. The colors, concept, and type are not mine. This is kind of a sad job for me. I like the guys in the band, and the music, and I wish that the concept they wanted had worked out, but it didn’t. I was not creatively active on this assignment, my role was more of “the hand.” I just drew whatever the guy I was working with wanted and didn’t really participate in the concept or anything. The comics style portraits I did on my own at one time in the process, they might become buttons. I like them a lot, even though they’re certainly a departure for me. I’ve been playing around with a lot of different styles lately, and the projects that I’ve been conceptualizing have been all over the map. This was when I was thinking a lot about developing a comic book style. I’ll be the first to admit a strong influence from Jamie Hewlett (Tank Girl, Gorillaz). Fun though. But yeah, the cover, not so much. I’m not sure where it went wrong, but it surely did.

Last record cover?

This is a record cover for a Mexican hardcore band called Maladie It’s got an Egyptian Death theme. Mummy, blue lotus, stars of the underworld. Good times. I got to do whatever I wanted on this one, and that’s the way I like it. They did some of their own changes after passing it off, but I’m showing it the way I intended it to look. This is probably going to be my last record cover, at least for a while. I’ve finally finished all the covers I had committed to doing, and I don’t want to do them anymore. They are labor intensive, and I don’t get paid hardly anything to do them. If I got a decent offer to do one for a large label or something, that’s a different story, but for what I’m making now it’s just not worth the time and stress. I’m supposed to work on some drawings to go in the layout of a record cover, but that’s a bit of a different beast.

I’m not sure where my next move will be. I have some editorial illustrations coming up, but if you haven’t noticed, illustrations in magazines are waaayyy down. I don’t think it’s realistic to try to squeeze a living out of those alone. Possibly comics, or concept art. Maybe I’ll hunker down in a master’s program until the economic shit storm blows over. We’ll see.