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Archive for April, 2008

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A newish piece from my portfolio.

I got back from the SCBWI conference in Seattle (well, actually it was in Bellevue).
They put on one great conference up there in the Mountains. They assembled an amazing list of speakers.

Mo Willems was one of the keynote speakers. He was an impressive speaker. Very funny with good timing and he presented his very strong POV without it being so militant as to aggravate those who disagree. That’s a talent. I also attended one of his break-out sessions, and actually, his advice contained some of the best reminders I have ever heard from a speaker about what makes a picture book tick. He obviously has spent a lot of time creating work, because his opinions seem true and tested, not academic and theoretical.
I have lots of ups and downs at a conference like this. Feeling good about pursuing this industry, and in equal parts, thinking it is a waste of time and that my work will never stand out.
It’s an odd industry. You work really, really hard, and even harder and then do more work, and really you are chasing a pretty small field of work. I would guess less people make a living doing children’s books than: college athletes who make it into the pros. I would also be willing to bet, that less children’s books authors and illustrators make a full-time living from that industry than the percentage of writers in the WGA who make a full time living writing.
And yet…I can’t seem to stop myself from pursuing the work.
I should have gone to law school.

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See also: M is for…

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I’m still working on the cover. This time I will include the wrap around. I want to keep it straight forward, yet have some fun with the general idea of a collection of stories.

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This is the cover for a personal project I have been working on for quite some time. It will contain 4 different short, illustrated stories. The first one is done, the other three are written and I am in the process of editing them and starting the art.

This cover might change one more time as well, the art on it anyway. Once all the stories are done, I might plop in (that’s the technical term) the art form the stories. but first I need to get them done. It’s all Photoshop, with some scanned textures.

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This was painted in arcyllic, then scanned in and repainted almost completely in Photoshop. it’s an older piece, that I seem to take out and add to every once in a while. A great reason to work digitally.

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quick study – crow

Usually on Monday, I post a link to interesting online animation. But today I start a new feature called, Freelance Monday, or how I stopped worrying and became a freelancer and stay at home dad.

I was scared and not sure what I was getting myself into when we set off on the ‘have a kid’ thing. And over the past 19 months I’ve longed for the comfort of a 9 to 5 job. A freelancing day never really ends, and neither does the time it takes to raise our daughter. Raising a 19 month old is far more work then any job, ever invented, except maybe staying home and taking care of 2 or 3, 19 month olds. It’s more like 6 jobs.

I’ve worked some pretty stressful jobs. At Sony Online I was an art director. A lot of hours, a lot of meetings and lot of deadlines. A LOT of JEOPARDY! and Wheel of Fortune. The hours were long, and the deadlines could be killer, but you still got to sleep. You left the office and went home. (not that the 2 hours on the 10 and 110 freeways from Culver City to Pasadena was relaxing). But you got away from work and sleep it off. Over the past 19 months sleep is something I have learned to cheerish. Nothing like staying up for 24 or 28 hours to finish a deadline and then find out that your daughter is getting sick and you will need to sit up with her for the next 12 hours. At some point you get so tired, you don’t mind being tired. It also reminds you to NOT work with clients who want 9 hour turnaround on 34 hours of work.

quick study duck

I am also getting my portfolio ready for the SCBWI conference in Seattle next week. Printing out work, throwing out work, wondering why my work isn’t better, wondering why I haven’t done more fresh work in the past year. And of course, this week is also a deadline week for 2 other projects. Freelancing means in between getting the kid set, and the house set, and the dogs fed and the cat fed you go BACK to work, which is never more then 30 feet away.

But tomorrow around 10:00, my daughter and I will be headed over to the park or, if it’s cold and raining really hard, to the Play Boutique for some fun time. And for that time, at least, I won’t worry about my deadlines, my portfolio or my lack of sleep.

Freelancing has given my wife and I the freedom to raise our daughter at home, until she is a little older and can really enjoy the social aspects of pre-school/day care. It really is a luxury in this day and age. But I haven’t had a full-time, in-house job now for about 22 months. And I am not sure there will be a place for me in the working world when this is all over. I have slowly grown my freelancing to where it about equals my last full-time job (minus the health care). I have always done some freelance on the side, but this is the first extended ‘non-employed’ time in my life. All those years of corporate work, design team meetings, staff meetings, drawing classes, reviews and long hours may have prepared me to run the creative direction of a project or draw and paint well enough to communicate a given idea. But they didn’t provide many lessons about how to be a stay at home dad and balance work in between.

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