15 May 2020

Tips from Creative Pros - Part 1

This spring semester, I took an awesome class at Boise State University called Preparing for Creative Careers. Each week, we had the opportunity to speak with a local creative professional about how they built their career. In completing the final assignment, I realized that even though each guest speaker was very different (we had street artists, writers, puppeteers, sculptors, and more) there were many common themes spanning their experiences. In this blog series, I'm going to share with you the themes I found most useful. If you're an aspiring creative professional, I invite you to consider how you can apply these tips to your own career, as I believe they have the potential to be universally helpful!

Part 1: Say Yes to New Opportunities


Today’s tip started with our first guests of the semester, a street artist duo who embodied the existing image of edgy professional artists who operate on the fringe (at one point in their careers, they had been in trouble with the law for illegal tagging at the same time they were receiving a public mural commission from the city). They explained that accepting clients’ proposals led to work they never would have done otherwise—such as photorealistic portraiture in spray paint, now a hallmark of their work—giving them new, marketable artistic skills and sparking interest in unexpected genres and techniques.
The published novelist and screenwriter we spoke to had something similar to say when she joined us the very next week, “Say yes to everything because you don’t know what it’ll turn into.” She started her career with screenwriting and, after so many failed attempts at selling a certain screenplay, a publisher finally picked it up, but rewritten as a novel. Not only that, her book deal was for two novels, so now she's in the middle of writing the next one. Writing a novel from scratch, rather than adapting it from a screenplay, is a totally different experience, she told us, betraying both excitement and a sense of panic. Her deadline, months away, seemed to be closing in by the minute in her mind. A problem, as an aspiring novelist myself, I wouldn’t mind having!
Saying yes and accepting new opportunities is how the filmographer we talked to made his entire career. He's not only worked locally, creating some of the best films I've seen from and about my hometown, but has even gone abroad, filming volcanoes with scientists in Chile, and documenting an amazing falconry event in Mongolia. Ironically, the months of editing that were required once he got home overshadowed the thrill of those once-in-a-lifetime experiences, but, he explained, even that was a positive, as it helped him understand better the kind of work he wants to focus on in his career.

 ★★★

The lesson here is to not decline opportunities just because they don’t fit into the container you’ve set up for yourself. So long as there isn’t some entity trying to take advantage of you (exposure don’t pay the bills, folks!) there’s no reason not to take your career down a different path for a while and see where it leads. I actually have a very specific idea about what I want my creative career to focus on—writing and illustrating books—so this advice, and the anecdotal experiences that illustrated it, was valuable to me. It's important to have a goal to keep you focused and moving forward, but you should always keep your options open. Your career, and your life, may very well end up far more fulfilling and rewarding that way!

01 January 2019

Welcome 2019!

For 2019, I wish you happiness!
Clip Studio Paint and Photoshop, 8 x 10 inches
Click hear to learn more about this piece.

Hey everyone, happy new year! I'm recovering from the flu right now, but I wanted to start the year off right by making a little blog entry on the very first day of 2019. I have big plans for this year, most of which revolve around my return to college! Spring semester starts on the 14th and it's going to be the first time I've ever taken a full-time course load. I'm excited! I've always loved school, so being a full-time student is going to be really fun and satisfying. Outside of that, I'll continue making illustrations and creating rewards from them for my Patreon supporters throughout the year. I also figure that I'll have plenty of new artwork to choose from, so I'll participate in the Western Idaho Fair fine art exhibition again, and perhaps other art shows that are a good fit for my work. These things are what I'll definitely be doing, but a year is a long time, always ripe with new opportunity, so what I'm looking forward to most in 2019 are all the unpredictable things that will come my way!

May 2019 bring us all the strength, ferocity, tranquility, and protection of the Boar!

04 July 2018

Aunt Sam - Happy Independence Day 2018!

Happy Independence Day from me, here, in the United States of America!  I was inspired to create something fun and unique today, since the holiday falls on a work day!  Please allow me to present Aunt Sam!

"Aunt Sam 2018"
graphite, watercolor, gouache, acrylic, and ink on watercolor paper, 5x7"
Completed 4 July 2018

I wanted to genderbend our well-known fictional representative and make her a cheeky, fun-loving lady (as opposed to the grump on the Army recruitment poster, lol).  I don't know where the idea came from, but once I thought of it, that's all I wanted to do for my 4th of July Twitch stream.  I think more than anything, the fact that this would give me a break from my February Gryphon illustration, which I've been working on diligently every day for the past few weeks, was what motivated me.


I ended up using an even wider variety of media than I originally planned.  My plan evolved as I worked and after finishing the graphite sketch and the watercolor, my use of the gouache with a stencil proved that I would need to use something else when adding more detail to the background.  I had intended to use gouache there too, but it was too bold and would have taken away from the main focus of the piece (Aunt Sam, that is).  So I switched to metallic silver acrylic!  I love the effect!  I definitely think it was the right move.  Everything else went as planned and I finished off the details with ink and more gouache.

Real time creation video of Aunt Sam 2018.

I had so much fun creating this piece (and chatting with one of my Twitch friends) that I ended up streaming for a full hour longer than scheduled!  And I didn't even notice my back hurting or my stomach complaining for food like I usually do.  I definitely needed this break :3  What a great way to start my long holiday weekend!  Happy Independence Day, everyone 🇺🇸

P.S. Consider supporting my art career by purchasing this artwork as a print!  Available as art prints, mouse pads, mugs, and more! Click here to check it out :D

21 June 2018

Chibi Bilbo Baggins

Today I'd like to share a chibi I drew for myself, as a response to an art challenge posted by my friend on my message board back in April 2017.  The challenge was to draw something from one's first anime.  When I thought very hard about it, I realized that, technically, my first anime was The Hobbit!  Although it is a Rankin/Bass film, the animation was done by what would eventually become Studio Ghibli.  So, to complete the challenge, I drew the cutest Bilbo Baggins I could!

"Chibi Bilbo"
ink and Manga Studio, 4x5"
Completed 9 February 2018
I've always loved the incredibly unique art style of the animated The Hobbit adaptation (as well as that of its sequel, The Return of the King).  It was very fun to take that amazing style and process it through my own chibi style to come up with this super cute Bilbo!  I started by finding a good reference image from the movie and then began sketching.

Completed sketch.
I used my Plumchester sketchbook to draw this piece and the sketch was done with a simple mechanical pencil.  Interestingly, I didn't move directly onto inking.  For whatever reason, I forgot about the project entirely until my friend posted his completed challenge drawing a week later XD

Erasing pencil.
Completed inking.
I used my Sakura Micron pens to ink.  I may have used a small brush pen of a different brand as well, but I honestly can't remember anymore, lol.  I cleaned it up and got it scanned in and digitized for coloring on my PC but, again, for whatever reason, I totally forgot about the project and didn't start coloring it until nine months later!!

My digital working environment with reference and color swatches.
What got me to finally pick this project back up was my need for digital work to do during the months when I was in-between homes earlier this year.  I was extremely fortunate to be in a place where I could stream art on Twitch despite my awkward situation, but digital was MUCH easier to do since I had a rather small workspace.  That's how I dug this file back up and finished it off!  You can watch the whole thing happen in the video below!

The coloring of Chibi Bilbo in real time.

So there we have it!  Took nearly a year but I finally completed my friend's art challenge XD  I'm really happy with this chibi, it reminds me just how much I truly love that awesome, unique art style from Rankin/Bass's version of The Hobbit~