Thursday, August 21, 2014

Art quote

I love inspirational quotes, especially when they are about art!  So I thought I'd add a few quotes to my blog that have inspired me!  I'll post them from time to time for you to enjoy!

And another great quote….

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Portfolio Reviews - Words of Wisdom

I just had to share this on my blog with you all.  My professor this past semester gave us this quote by Pascal Champion who shares his thoughts on what a portfolio should be and do.  He see tons of portfolio so he speaks from experience.  His words of wisdom are so encouraging and reminds me to be true to myself and my art.  Let go of perfectionism and let yourself shine through your art!

His original post can be found on his Deviant Art journal.  If you click on the link it will take you there.  Or you can read it here as I copied it for you.  Let me know what you think!

You know, I see quite a bit of portfolio on a regular basis, and even more so when I go to comic con and CTN.

This time around was the same thing, I saw quite a few portfolios. Some good ones and some that miss the mark.

There were a few in particular that caught my eye.. a few extremely good ones, and a few that just didn't work, and I wanted to try and share my opinions about portfolios in general.

This is just my point of view, based on MY experience and definitely not a definitely law, rule, or "must do". Just what I noticed in many student's and young professional's portfolios.

The first thing that strikes me is how similar portfolios can be from one student to another..I can almost always tell when one student is from Art Center, San Jose State, Otis, Sheridan or any other major school. It's a good thing and a bad thing. Mainly a bad thing though

Just a few personal thoughts on portfolios since I just came back from comic con and saw a ton over there.

Your portfolio should be a reflection of yourself , not just your skills. When you do a portfolio and go shopping it around, or just ask for some feedback, the person you are showing it to doesn't know anything about you. Doesn't know how long you took to draw this piece or this piece, and quite frankly, does not care. Do you know how long it takes to make a commercial? a movie? does it matter when you are in the movie theater and watching it? The same goes for the reviewer. The number one thing that matters( at least to me) is how enjoyable the experience of going through your work is.

It doesn't have to be funny, or cute creatures.. I very often appreciate portfolios that are fairly gory and bloody, or of other nature, as long as I can relate to it somehow.

The way I relate to a portfolio is through the quality of the images in them..and this is what I consider to be quality work.

1 If you are images tell a story, you are more than halfway there.
2 if your story is crystal clear, you are ninety nine percent of the way there.
3 if your stories are clear and personal, you just broke the house.

You'll notice that neither in 1 or 2 is there any mention of technique… and, oddly enough, there is still no mention of it in number 3 either.
You know why?

Let me make this clear.
When you are showing your portfolios to people, you are selling ideas and personalities.
Not how you handle Photoshop, or perspective.
Not how you mix your colors, or how many different variations on a tree you can create.
These are exercises you do in school to develop your skills that are used to create stories..which is what I look for.
I am not saying that technique is not important, but I see it as a skill that is very similar to writing.
When you are a kid, you learn how to draw letters, and eventually words and how to write..and you forget about it.
You use that skill to write essays, and novels, and letters to your mom, girlfriend or potential employer.
When you send a letter to a potential employer, you are not showing them how many different ways you can draw the letter A, or B, or Z.
You write ideas.. you try to show this person who you are and what is interesting about yourself.
The better you write, the better you will be able to convey these ideas..but if you have no ideas to convey, all the nice writing in the world won't amount to much.
In a similar fashion.. if your resume is fifteen pages long, most people won't want to read it, especially if you are just showing declinations on the letter M and N, and how well T and H can go together.

Back to Portfolios.
Images are beautiful letters, beautiful words and it's easy to get caught up in the "how it looks" bit..much more than with the alphabet( unless you look at how old Manuscripts were written), but they still function like words and paragraphs.
In some ways, if you use them correctly, they actually function better. If you are careful enough, you might be able to express emotions and feelings that you wouldn't necessarily be able to do with words. You can suggest images that don't exist, and you can make someone feel something… very much like a great writer can create worlds that do not exist.
You can , and you should do that as well in your portfolios.

I understand it is easier said then done, and a lot of you think they have nothing to say.
I disagree.
I think every single person has something to say in a unique way.
Maybe you don't have something DIFFERENT to say, but the way you are going to talk to your best friend ,your mom, a complete stranger about how you feel about ice cream will be different from person to person.
The way you and your neighbor see the sky and the clouds outside your window will be different and unique.

As an artist, you are an author, not just a mechanic.
As an author, you develop your technique to fit your vision.
This is what school and teachers are here for. They are not meant to transform you into an artist… you already are one. They are here to help you develop the tools you need to fully express who you are and what you see.
This is what most people in the industry are looking for.
People who can use the skills they have to share visions.
You need both.
You don't need to possess ALL the skills in the handbook.. that would be impossible because that handbook is being written as you go along.
There definitely fundamentals that have been around for centuries and that will always be around, but techniques change and evolve with you and with society.
The latest software you are going to be be so good at might not exist in three or four years.. but if you are using this software to express your ideas, chances are you will be able to do it somehow with a different piece of software, or a different type of tool altogether.

Last week, I saw two portfolios of note.
One from this young artist from Mexico who could barely speak English.
He did comic books, and was there with his other friend, who didn't speak English Either.
He showed me his work, and was very shy about it.
When I looked at it, my first reaction was.. ha.. this is not my style, this not the "look" I like.
When I read through the first story he had, the hair on my arms were raised. I loved the story.
It was simple, clear, and easy to relate to. it was a love story.. love gone wrong if you want.
Technically, there were some issues in the pacing, there were a few frames here and there that were not totally necessary and some that could have have been totally cut out… but the overall point of the story came across loud and clear and it worked.

His second story was a sci fi story…once again..not my cup of looked like a mix between Anime and something else that I didn't know and that is not necessarily my favorite type of art.
Here again. the whole story worked, and there were NO WORD BALLOONS. He hadn't had time to put them in.. but the story still worked.
There were again some things that were not necessarily working with layouts and pacing, and the look of it was something way more bloody than I cared for, but it worked.

My feedback to him was that his work was awesome. I saw some issues here and there, but in spite of these, his stories worked very well.
I didn't feel like I should tell him what to fix, because although some parts were clumsy, they were not broken. It was imperfect, but it worked.
The point I am trying to get across here is that even if it's not perfect, your stories, your images can work. And that's really all you can ask for.
Perfection doesn't exist.. we strive for it, but we know that no matter how close we get to this ideal we have, it will always move a little further back, always out of reach.

The other portfolio I saw that made an impression was for the wrong reason.
This young girl who had just graduated showed me her work and everything in the book was an exercise she had done in school.
Technically, it was all good. She actually drew and painted better than me( which happens VERY often) BUT… there was very little personality in the book.
When I see something like this, I usually pick apart the technique because that is the only thing that is presented to me. And that is what every recruiter will do..if you just show him how well you draw your O's and your T's, they will just look at that, and not at the bigger picture, they won't read the text and will just get very nit picky on those things.
That's what I did.
I also encouraged her to put all that aside and to use her own experiences in life to come up with stories that she could put in images…and make them as honest to what she felt as she possibly could.
This girl has so much skill, but it seems that along the way she forgot to use them for what they were meant to be used.

And that is what I see a LOT in portfolios.

This my advice to you guys when you are prepping your portfolios, when you are in school,when you are relying on your teachers.
Remember WHY you want to be artists. Remember that you ( most likely) were draw to this because of the cartoons, comics, films you have seen as a kid that made you laugh, and cry, and wonder.
Remember that your teachers are there to help you but they won't transform you into artist. They can just help you find your way, and develop the tools you need to get there.
And remember that you are special and unique. That even if everybody else in the class, or around you can draw better, color better , animate better than you, it's about what YOU are going to do with your skills that matters, not how many skills you have.
And that's what you should be showing the world.

That's my two cents.
Once again.. that is just MY point of view.
I am sure many many people will have different opinions, sometimes contrary ones, but this is what I think and this is what works for me.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

5 Hungry Mice Roughs

Continuing on with my thesis project I have completed some rough compositions for my 5 Hungry Mice story.  These are value studies at this stage and I was working on also creating dynamic compositions.  Mice are obviously very active and skitter a lot, so I wanted to make sure my compositions gave that feeling.  I'm not sure I'm there yet, so let me know what you think and how I might be able to improve these.  I am planning on working on them further next semester and hope to bring them to finish by the end of the semester so any input now will help!  Thanks!

5 Hungry mice found a box full of rice...

So they ran to the top…

with a squeal ….and a hop!

 Those 5 hungry mice dove right into the rice...

No more hungry mice, no more box of rice.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

5 Hungry Mice!

Starting work on my next picture book thesis project!  It's about 5 hungry mice who find a box full of rice!  I've been working on the layout all summer long and should have roughs to post in a few days, but in the meantime I thought you might like to see the mouse sculpture I did for reference.  Picture off the internet are good, but the mice don't always have the right positions for drawing from.  Real mice are best, but have you ever tried to capture pictures of real mice?  Even in the pet store it's tough!  So a sculpture that can be articulated into any position works really well as a drawing aide.  Mine is made from natural fibers using a process called needle felting.  Polk a needle enough times into the fibers and it's sculpts it until Voila!  A mouse!

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Sara Palacios - One of my favorite Illustrators

Today I want to introduce you to one of my favorite illustrators… Sara Palacios.  I discovered Sara and her beautiful artwork through Illustration Friday and then I found out that she was a student of my favorite instructor at AAU Angela Dominguez.  What a small world it is!  The first book I bought of Sara's is called Marisol McDonald Doesn't Match.  It's a wonderful story about a little girl who is bi-racial and loves mixing together her favorite things from both cultures of her parents.  It is a wonderful story with a great message of always being yourself, and Sara's illustrations just make it all the more memorable.  You definitely need to check it out!  The first illustration I attached below is from that book.

You can check out more of her work at

Here are a few of my favorite:)




After finding out about our mutual Professor at AAU, I contacted Sara to ask her a few questions about her artwork and her influences.  She was so kind to grant me an interview!  It was so wonderful for her to take time from her busy schedule to answer a new illustrator's questions.  I just had to share it with you all!    

Who is your favorite illustrator?
I admire many. I don't think I have one absolute favorite illustrator actually. One of the ones I admire is Miroslav Sasek. His illustrations are timeless. I like his graphic and elegant style, love his characters and city landscapes. I think if he was still illustrating books today his style wouldn't look dated and would be just as admired as it was in the 60s.

Who are your influences?
That changes a lot. As I said I admire many illustrators and I think we are all influenced but everything we see. I look up to many illustrators that inspire me and make me want to improve my work constantly. I think my style changes as I grow up and the more I learn and the more I practice. I always discover new things, that I like and that I don't about my work.

What is your process when you do a picture book, from reading the manuscript to the final illustrations
This is something you probably have already learned in Angela's class. When I get a manuscript the first thing I do is think about the characters, I try to picture them, and how their surroundings will be like, what kind of place will they live in depending on the story. I usually start by designing the characters, this is a really fun part for me. I start to look for reference, for the characters and for the story. Once I have the characters approved by the art director I move on to thumbnails. Thumbnails are all about the composition, big shapes and some values. This is when I gather more reference, the first time was mostly for inspiration and this time is more specific. When thumbs have been approved, then I do sketches. During these stages there are several rounds of revisions. Lot's of e-mails or phone calls. When I get sketches approved and we're all happy with how things are looking, it's time to do the final art. This is when things get fun again. I usually send the publisher two finished illustrations so they can see the color palette, technique etc. I do this because I want to make sure we're all on the same page. And after that, it's all about hard work and organizing time and life to meet the deadline. 

Sara shared with me that she is working on several picture book projects right now, one that will be coming out with Viking Press this October.  So please check out her site and look for her next book in October.  Plus she said she is working on another Marisol book too!  She will be posting more about all her projects on her FB.

I hope you enjoyed meeting Sara Palacios!