Monthly Archives: October 2011

Escaping the king’s men-at-arms

I like this pre-dawn scene from The Really Awful Musicians for its drama.  Illustration is just a form of graphic design.  Here I’ve used the elements of space, value & texture to get the most juice out of the image.  Color, too: the one sliver of orange intruding into the blue-black scene lends a feeling of expectancy for the new day.

Really awful character sketches

Here are sketches of most of the characters in Really Awful Musicians.  Piffaro is the little guy with the pipe & drum, Espresso the skinny dude playing a lute, Serena on harp, Fortissimo on sackbut and Lugubrio on bass recorder.  Piffaro is the Steady Eddie main character providing an anchor for the other extreme musicians who are too fast, too slow, too loud and too soft.

Really Awful press sheets

Holy cow—I just got these in the mail from Hong Kong!  These are the press sheets from The Really Awful Musicians.  There are 2 sheets, each with 16 pages (8 on each side).  Eight plus eight equals sixteen—two times sixteen is thirty-two.  That’s why a picture book is usually 32 pages long.

The president’s poster design contest

President Obama would like to promote a new jobs bill.  Shepard Fairey‘s posters were a big part of the president’s 2008 campaign so this time around Obama for America is running a contest for best poster design.  There are no cash prizes.  The designer must surrender all rights to his design to Obama for America.

Many designers are upset about this contest.

So here’s my two cents.  I think this contest isn’t good for designers or illustrators.  You may say, ‘So what?  If you don’t want to enter the contest then don’t.’  The problem is that the perceived value of a designer’s time & skill is diminished whenever any one of us participates in a contest like this one.  The administrators figure that these contestants place so little value on their time & skill that they’ll be willing to work for free and then let someone else profit from their work.

An artist will spend his entire career negotiating for bigger fees with each new project.  When we say it’s okay to devalue an artist’s time and talent to zero it becomes really difficult to convince the next client that those commodities are worth anything at all. It’s easy to see why a plumber or mechanic charges what he does.  Because art is subjective it’s often not so easy to see how we arrive at our fees.

This is just my opinion.  You may want to read the guidelines for art competitions the Graphic Artists’ Guild came up with.

Painting the opening spread

And here is the painting—from The Really Awful Musicians—in progress.

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The opening shot

Here’s the first spread from my upcoming book The Really Awful Musicians.  It’s about what happens to a band of musicians—who play pretty badly—as they escape from a country where the king has banned all music.

I drew the thumbnail sketch first when I was figuring out how to tell the story.  Next is a tight sketch, designed to appear on the right page only.  The second sketch occupies the entire spread (2 pages side-by-side) and is livelier than the first version.  Finally the painting—which you can see has been flopped to face the other way.

thumbnail sketch
first version of tight sketch

painting pp4/5

The Really Awful Musicians are coming…

Yes, the long-awaited soon-to-be-a-beloved-classic The Really Awful Musicians will be hitting the ol’ bookshelves December 19th!  This is my first time out as both author & illustrator.

If you happen to be in northwestern Pennsylvania in December, be sure to stop by Graffiti Gallery in Oil City where I’ll be exhibiting artwork from The Really Awful Musicians.  The show runs from December 3 to 31, 2011.  There will be a kids-only reception Saturday, December 3rd noon-2:00, followed by the artist’s reception—open to the public—Saturday, December 3rd 5:00-8:00.  You can find Graffiti Gallery in the National Transit Building Annex, 210 Seneca Street, Oil City, Pa 16301. Exhibit hours are 11:00-7:00 Fridays & Saturdays.

I hope to see you there!