Tuesday, December 9, 2014

variety is the spice of life

Or perhaps the spice of an interesting career.

I have had a very spicy year. In spicy I mean lot of different types of projects and in many styles. One of my favorites was creating giant Photoshop paintings for a stage set. The paintings were output onto canvas and stretched over panels that are going to be reused each year for a Holiday Pageant. I lost count on how many panels there were, but my guess would be 50 or so individual set panels. Most were landscapes but all were digitally painted in Photoshop. Which I LOVE doing but don't get nearly enough projects that require it. Darn... So hear this theater companies, I LOVE painting sets digitally, feel free to call anytime.

Another great gig was a Graphic Recording job for Exterro. I spent two days learning all about the challenges of being a corporate lawyer and dealing with pending lawsuits and collecting pertinent emails, and communications of employees. And I thought my job was challenging sometimes. Ha. I sat in on different break out sessions and drew imagery to help explain the legalize as well as to capture the overarching concepts. I learned a lot and the attendees seemed to really enjoy the finished products. Many people were taking pictures of the graphic recordings and using them for notes. Success.

And in between those projects were holiday cards, an instruction manual, signs for small towns and countless others. I really feel that one of the keys to survival as an illustrator today is versatility. And although that is counter to what I was taught in college it has served me well. So to you young illustrators, don't be afraid to say yes to a project that makes you stretch. There is far more growth in the edges of ones career, than in the middle.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

breathing and regrouping

Wow, what a year. I finally have a lull so wanted to play catch-up and regroup.

This year I have had a broader range of work then years past. This year I got to animate my line illustrations for MacAfee in a series of videos about cyber security. I also had a great time at a recent event doing Graphic Recording. Who knew that a conference on the legal challenges for a business could be so interesting?

Some of the things I have learned this year. Sometimes it is better to say No than Yes. I found I got so busy that it was better for me and my clients to just say no. Although it was hard to turn work away it felt good to not overload myself and I delivered a better quality product to my clients. I also found I did the work I wanted to do and was able to give other illustrators a foot in the door with a project (I referred those clients to other artists). It felt great to share finally.

Another big moment was the Illustrator's Conference - ICON. This year the event was in Portland and made it easy to attend. The first night was an emotional roller coaster. Surrounded by so many Illustration super stars I felt insecure and full of self doubt. It doesn't matter that I actually make a living as an illustrator, somehow I felt that I wasn't good enough. Thankfully after a day I realized that one doesn't have to be a super star to have value. The world is chock full of people who are really good at their work that never have their names in lights on the marquee. We are the people who make things work, who innovate and create every day without the awards. And honestly that is a noble thing. So cheers to those of us who make good work!

Lastly, I need to find a way to manage my online work when I am so busy. This may be the hardest part. The creating is easy, the taking care of customers is easy, but sitting down and managing a portfolio, blech!

Until next time, keep drawing, keep making, keep being inspired.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

holy crap, a busy 10 months

Yes the blog title says it all. Holy Crap, it HAS been a busy 10 months. I know my last post from February noted the 6 months of crazy preceding, well other than that one day in February, I have been buried yet again. NOT complaining!

First, I have been swamped with regular work from my steady list of regular clients. I also have had the great fortune to work on some wonderful new projects.

One of my favorites has been working with a local packaging designer, Jeff Menzel. Jeff had me illustrate the label for a local company that makes the MOST delicious apple chips, 'Sisters Fruit Company Apple Chips'. I painted the two sisters in Photoshop which I love to do, and rarely get the opportunity. Then just last week while grocery shopping I met one of the sisters as she was demonstrating the apple chips. One of the fun perks of working for local folks.

Another big project was working with Dan Pred on five videos for McAfee and Intel. I created approximately 150 illustrations and then animated them for inclusion into the videos. Dan is a great collaborator and our client was very accommodating with a great sense of humor and style. Animation takes my illustrations to a whole new level and I loved getting to bring them to life.

There have been many other projects during the last 10 months that have reinforced for me why I am the luckiest person I know. Doing Illustration as a profession has been my life long dream and it really brings me joy knowing I have had the luxury to do this year after year. I sincerely am grateful for all the gigs I get, little to big, and the range of work to the variety of clients and personalities.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

finally a break

Unbelievably today is the first day in over 6 months where I do NOT have a project that requires my attention. Yes, since last August I have been buried, swamped, overwhelmed and thrilled to have so much work that a lunch break was a luxury. Now what?

Now is when the busy work comes, the accounting, the web updates, the portfolio modifications, and blog posts.

What have I been doing? It seems a blur, but here are a few items:
1) New illustrations for the Idaho motorcycle safety course. This project was especially fun for me because I attended the Oregon version two years ago and received my motorcycle endorsement. All the illustrations were familiar to me situationally, and I was able to improve them through my own experience with the program and as a rider.
2) More illustrations for Total Gym. Yes Chuck Norris and Christie Brinkley are still making new exercise machines and I get to do the 'how to' illustrations. I enjoy the project and am always happy when it comes back around.
3) Lots of logos. I don't even know for whom, but I know I have a list of logos that have flown out of my office.
4) The 2013 Schwabe, Williamson and Wyatt flash holiday card. This is an annual favorite and this year was no exception. Truly fun and creative.

Big sigh. The last 5 years have been brutal from a freelancer perspective. Seriously. There were times I didn't know if I would make it. Work was so scant that cruising Craig's List for any creative gig was an obsessive disorder. But thankfully, I managed to hang on, and grow in spite of the downturn. My perspective is that the economy is ticking upward, it isn't in 'fully stocked refrigerator' mode, but some of the good times from the 90's are starting to return.

Here's to weathering the storm. Finger's crossed for smooth sailing for a nice long while.