Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Searching for Secrets

As part of my MAKE 2013 workshop, I led a project with all my participants for Light Grey Art Lab's Message in a Bottle show. It's a little show within a show--ours is called Searching For Secrets, and each person created a piece with a letter hidden inside. The pieces are arranged in order, so once you find the letter in each image, they spell out a message together! I couldn't be happier with all my participants' work, it's a great range of styles and subjects with plenty of mystery to go around (and letters hidden in different ways!) Take a look and figure out the message for yourself!

The theme I gave everyone was Searching for (or discovering!) a secret.
Here's mine, 'Relic'
Can you find my letter??

Part of the project was challenging everyone to use informal subdivision to help come up with sketches. I felt that the working method itself is appropriately secrets-themed--you're looking at a bunch of lines and trying to figure out an image hidden within them.
Here's my informal subdivision lines and the sketch I settled on:


 I actually had a million other sketches, but lost the file with all of them in it. D'oh!
I thought that something sci-fi themed would be fun to draw--I've been reading a lot of cyberpunk recently (Snowcrash, The Diamond Age, Neuromancer) and visions of dirty dystopian futures have been floating around in my mind.


I ended up moving the whole image down a bit for better compositional value, which means my final image doesn't line up with my informal subdivision quite as well. However, I think the main value of informal subdivision is to suggest composition and generate ideas. If you decide to work with informal subdivision and think that something doesn't look right, change it!

Thanks again to all my participants for their fantastic work! You guys did great.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

MAKE 2013 Workshop Thoughts


Starting things off!

First off: Whoa! What an amazing experience! Its already been 2 weeks since my MAKE 2013 illustration workshop that I led at Light Grey Art Lab, but I still get the warm-and-fuzzies when I think of all my awesome participants and and the LGAL crew!

For a blow-by-blow breakdown of everything we did that weekend, be sure to read Light Grey Art Lab's lovely writeup of the workshop! You can also take a look at alllll the photos from the weekend here! (which is where I got almost all my photos for this post. Thanks Chris!)



Freelance illustration can often be an isolating pursuit, so it was a real treat to be reminded of all the fun that happens when you get a group of artists talking and sharing together in one room. All of my participants came from different walks of life and various career paths--students, designers, animators, freelancers, company artists--and it was really eye-opening for me to hear about all of their goals and experiences. As a bonus--the chilly temperature in MN has made my Baltimore winter feel positively breezy in comparison. ;)

Our talented panel guests Brad Mcginty, Alyssa Thomas & Allegra Lockstadt were also very generous and informative about their own practices! Good insights all around and great to meet them all!

From the left: Brad, Allegra, me & Alyssa!

Overall, I wanted to write up a few key things that I took away from the workshop:

1. Holy cow, everyone is awesome!!

2. Everyone has a different goal and a different timeline. And that's as it should be! It's easy to sabotage yourself by comparing your path to others (I've definitely been guilty this) but racing against other people isn't healthy, and it's not helpful. There is no One True Road To Success, everyone has different needs and different steps. At the workshop we all analyzed what we really wanted out of life and work and then came up with a doable step-by-step plan for how to achieve our 2013 goals. It was a great exercise, and made me realize that some of things I thought I wanted weren't actually the important goals for me. It's all too easy to set lofty ideals for your work and then become disappointed when you don't reach them. Breaking an overall goal (like working on jobs in a certain field or balancing work/life) into tiny monthly chunks is much more palatable and easy to fulfill. My own biggest goal is to try and separate, equalize, and maximize my social time and my working time!

3. Artists LOVE to make things hard on themselves. I think everyone does this in one way or another--agonizing over the tiniest details, feeling guilty about doing or not doing a particular thing, for being at a particular place in life, for working too hard or not working hard enough. It's easy to feel like you're alone in this situation, but everyone feels unsuccessful sometimes, and sometimes quite often. I certainly do! And actually hearing all the same insecurities from other people at the workshop made me realize that this is a massive delusion--if we all feel like we're insufficient in ways other people aren't, it can't be true. So why torture yourself needlessly? Self-criticism & self-doubt is definitely healthy and needed, but it was a good reminder that giving yourself some love and forgiveness should be just as important. Feel pride in what you have accomplished as a creative person and don't give up!

4. Share! In my experience, when you are generous with other people, they are more likely to be generous with you. It sounds so cliché, but you can learn a lot from others by giving away your own resources. You can also learn a lot about yourself! Most of my illustration decisions/processes were internalized or just intuition when I graduated school. However, in the process of teaching/blogging/workshopping, I started to analyze the differerent aspects of image creation, how I do it, and how I'd present it to other people. That got me thinking about the decisions I make, why I make them, and how other people approach the same things. Working consciously and sharing with others has been so helpful to me in generating new insights about myself and illustration in general.

You guys are the best!

This was my first workshop and I REALLY HOPE it isn't my last! My time in Minneapolis was the perfect experience I needed to get reinvigorated for the new year, and I can't wait to see where my participants go from here! Big thanks to everyone who came to the workshop--I can't believe we had people from all across the US (and Canada!) and every single person was so friendly, generous, and talented.


From the left, thanks to Lindsay, Chris, Jenny, Jared & Francesca! And if you THINK that I added Jenny to this image through the magic of photoshop...you are clearly mistaken.
I certainly wouldn't have been able to do this without the Light Grey Art Lab crew. Huge thanks to Lindsay Nohl, Chris Hajny, Francesca Butchko, Jenny Bookler and Jared Tuttle for inviting me to lead the workshop, chauffering me around town like royalty, regaling me with stories and delicious food, and organizing every single thing so it ran without a hitch. Lindsay was my go-to gal in the planning stages and a huge help in figuring out workshop activities and schedule--she is such a pro and it was a real treat to talk shop with her. I was also super inspired by the thoughtfulness, collaboration, and talent that Lindsay, Chris, and Francesca share together as Paper Bicycle. Overall, the effort that Jenny, Lindsay, Francesca, and Chris take to organize LGAL shows and events is amazing. What great people all-around!

Lastly, as part of the workshop, I gave everyone (including myself) a group art project! I'll be putting up my piece a bit later this week and hopefully linking to all my participants' work as well! Everyone's awesome work will be seen in a special section of the Message In A Bottle show at Light Grey Art Lab, opening this friday, so check it out!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Dateless by Degrees

Happy 2013! Man, time flies.
I've been so busy working and teaching over here (I will be putting up a post about my workshop with Light Grey Art Lab soon!) that I've been neglecting a bunch of pieces to share with you guys...I'm going to try and post at least once a week and get things back on track again. Let's do this!!


 Okay, so a while back I was asked to do another illustration for Ebony magazine, this time about the supposed difficulties in getting married for college-educated women. Spoiler alert: not true! The marriage gap between women with and without degrees just doesn't exist anymore, and although college graduates do tend to get married later in life, they also have lower rates of divorce.

My sketches--I still really like the one on the right, too! Maybe I should make it into another illustration?

My color sketch with the layout mock-up. Had to reposition some things!
 Thanks again to my great AD Lynn Galloway!