Friday, January 16, 2009

Post 265

Here's something I did today, heard some kids talking about 'girl trouble' and how girls never say about boyfriends...WHAT ARE THEY HIDING IT FOR?!?! But yeah, the kids had a point.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Post 264-I love my Texas...

I'll post a picture in a bit, I just need to get this off my chest while it's still fresh on my mind. I just got back from a long day at work, but I got an e-mail. I know I've talked about the possibility of branching out in terms of conventions, going to out of state ones, but besides the economic climate, I keep getting reminded why I avoided them in the past.

On the heels of the news that Wizard World Texas died, there was barely a tear shed. It was like the state of Texas rejected a transplant and realized the transplant was unnecessary. The flash of a Wizard World show brought little to our community, and the fun part of the show was essentially hanging out with our usual local crowd and fellow Texas comic folk. Essentially it was a Texas show with walking room...and that was the problem. Texas art collectors and supporters love the intimacy of being near the artist and asking lots of questions. We love our live art, and we love to hear all of the latest tips, tricks, techniques, and get an inside scoop on the latest technology and media (any material used to make art for those who haven't taken Art I).

In the past year I've really allowed the spirit of the Texas shows envelop me like a warm blanket. The people running the shows respect the little guy, they respect new artists trying out new things, and they support it in a big way. Not that they reject big name artists, but they love genuine people trying to make it against all odds doing something outside the industry standard...ultimately, it is a love of art and folks of the fine artist mentality.

Many whose only experience or knowledge of Texas is in Pee Wee's Big Adventure might be led to believe that Texas is this place out of a spaghetti Western set, where people all talk with drawls and say y'all...well, most people do say y'all...I don't, but that's because I was born in Indiana...but that's just it. Texas is full of transplants, kids who were born all over the world, but burgeoning industries of the 70's, 80's and 90's (me) were 'dragged' to Texas by a parent who was transferred. I had misconceptions of what it would be like here, I thought there would be tumbleweeds everywhere (they're only in some places, you don't see them that often, but that's not the point), and I thought that you could only eat Tex Mex food. But Texas is a mish mash of people with dreams, with aspirations, and drive to make better lives for themselves. It's a miniature country, and it's become self sustaining.

Getting to why I am writing this. Some of you may have noticed I kind of blew off recapping Baltimore...that's because it kinda sucked. I'll be honest, aside from hanging out with friends and meeting one of the greatest comic art collectors ever. It wasn't a great show, we had bad placement, like really bad placement. There wasn't any thought into who was sitting next to whom, and you're all fighting against the biggest names in the industry for a share of the money. People don't go to that show looking for the new guy, they bring their money to get an Immonen sketch, and if I had a chance, I probably would too. But the disparity in placement is like a slap in the face. Add to that the overall way that the fans were to try and talk with or sell things to. It was like they thought we were evangelical zealots trying to change their religious perception. People would run, or when they'd take your card, and you tried to talk to them they'd run, like full out RUN as if they boosted something from your table. Hardly a good environment.

But I fought my way nearly to cost, but I didn't get to ENJOY the show. That's the problem with working a day job and having to go out of state. I got in late, didn't get to set up before the show, and never got to rest until the end of the day. By the time things died down, I didn't feel like going and hanging out with people because Baltimore at night makes me think of last year, which was like living through a version of Friday the 13th. You have to walk everywhere just like any other con, only it's more humid, and more hostile than going to other shows.

SO...back to the e-mail. I have been wanting to branch out to some other shows and put out my feelers to to see if I could get a bite, or just gather a feeling for if I wanted to spend a bunch of money (even though it's a rough sell to make it back). Essentially figure out if it would be worth shipping paintings across the U.S. and dealing with the logistical nightmares.

I basically got an e-mail where you can easily read between the where a person holds up their index finger, middle, and ring, but they're only doing you the courtesy of not dropping Mr. Index, and Mr. Ring...get my drift?

I'll spare you the details, but it ended with trying to sell me a table in a separate spot for an amount that is cost prohibitive. I'm not Charest, I can't pull down numbers to make both the travel (425 for the flight) and the table (too many hundreds to think of selling items and sketches to make back), not to mention lodging and travel to and from the hotel to the airport etc. Also, the table I would purchase would undoubtedly be in a portion of the convention center where I'd be lucky to have people walking by to ask how to get to the bathroom.

Sure, the locations for the Texas conventions are pretty small, but you get maximum traffic and exposure. Being in a large center, the space is daunting and ultimately hides you from prospective supporters. A few years ago, at this same show, I was sitting with a friend, and the folks sitting with us were trying to sell things to people in the line in front of us. Around 100+ people in line for a well known artist that was doing free sketches. Now tell me, with someone with a proven name undercutting you, how can you sell anything!?!?!?! Nobody will want to jump out of line to go buy something from you when they're about to get a free sketch!!!! THEN, once they're done, they'd have spent a few hours waiting through the line, so they are ready to go somewhere else or home, so even IF they were interested in you at one point, their mind is on the free goodness they just got. It's insulting of the well known artist, who probably didn't have to pay for a table, and made his money with a couple commissions. It shows a lack of respect for the new guy entering the field.

Now understand me, I know that in the internet, it is easy to put a hostile voice behind words, and in the past I might have had that sentiment. But I'm pretty close to indifferent.

Sure, it was insulting how I was brushed off because I'm a 'nobody' in this business, but whatever. I'm making moves, and climbing up the ladder as best I can. I'm still probably going to this convention and sitting with some friends that have extra space or didn't have to pay for a table, just because it's one of the few conventions outside of Baltimore that all my friends go to, and I ain't going back to Baltimore any time soon.

I am pretty much set on not going to any out of state conventions and just saving money for local ones and going with my usual crews. Easier to make a profit and use it to pay for creating new pieces, and that's ultimately the reason I do MAKE ART!!! I don't care about just making profit...or I wouldn't be doing the style I do. But I need to constantly create, improve, and hang out with like minded people, and Texas offers all those things without the stress or disappointment. Even a disappointment at a show is covered up by a meal with 10 or more friends who you've know for years and give you grief because they care!

I know I was born in Indiana, but after living 15 years here (3/5 of my life), I feel like a Texan.

So, I better wrap this up or it'll take up the whole length of the page. I love people of all over, but there are many instances where conventions have lost their way, lost the heart and original meaning of having a convention: a place to find cheap comics and meet the creators. Conventions used to be in church basements, or like the small ones my brother and I went to in Indiana in a hotel lobby no bigger than a Denny's.

My philosophy about this business is having fun, avoiding stress and unnessecary hassle over this business. Art should be fun, and the minute it is work, it's lost its focus for me. I have a day job, and even that is fun, so why should a convention be so much work?!

If you want a fun convention, and are in the northern portion of Texas next weekend, hang out with me at Dallas Comic Con and I'll talk endlessly about anything you want. I'm bad about that, I can talk to you for hours about pens and environmental effects on various ink types...but if that's your thing, I'm your guy. Other fantastic Texas conventions: STAPLE!, and CAPE.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Post 263

New painting I did a little bit yesterday and a little today. Gouache and Acrylic for this one, but on a 12X24 inch canvas. It was a ton of fun working on this piece. I had a sketch I did this weekend, and freehanded it in gouache onto the canvas, pencil always shows through, so if you do a painting in acrylic, it's best to sketch things out and put in a shading guide using gouache or watercolor. I honestly need to paint on canvas more often. I saw some Windsor & Newton large canvases for a steal up at my old college a few weeks back, and didn't pick any up, but I might have to swing by this weekend!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Post 262

Now's that time of year where I now realize everyone gets busy due to work and stops communicating until convention season starts back up. Back when I didn't have a job (this is my first real day job) I didn't understand that people just get tied up with life. The job carries with it more of a 'neediness' factor than any other time of the year, and people are less patient.

In the past, I used to think that people might be mad at me, or avoiding, or just didn't give one about me anymore, but now that I know what the grown up world is like, it's easier to understand things. I've been working on things like that, and it's helped me get better at dealing with situations that would normally be stressful. Nothing helps arguments like learning to let things just slide right off of you. Can't bring any of the stress or aggression back home at the end of the day. You have to keep the home life pure.

I've got another painting in the works right now, letting it dry and stepping away from it for an evening so that I can come back to it with a refreshed mind so that I can tell whether I want to use any black on it or not. I got some 12X24 canvases this weekend and I forgot how much smoother blending is on a butter smooth!

Also, I've got some art published, Supermarket: Cash Money Edition came out last week (I think last week) and I started freaking out when I saw that my pin-up was published first in the group of new pin-ups. THANKS KRISTIAN!!!!

One last thing, next week I'll be at the Dallas Comic Con, and I think I'm sitting with David Hopkins, my partner in crime for a story in Popgun Anthology volume 4. Yup, finally getting into it. I was supposed to do a couple stories meant for it, but for one reason or another, the writers became too 'busy.' So I guess third time is the charm, and honestly this is the best thing I've worked on to date. Great script, and I feel like my strongest storytelling. Beats the crap out of my pages for Hammer Sound. I'll keep you updated on things. All I can show you are some character designs.

But it's cool, if you look at the DCC page, it's the first time I'm a guest at a show, it's exciting!!! But understand, I'm still going to be rolling with the Space Gun Kru as always, but I'll just be hopping between tables. I sent most of my original pages to my art dealer Paolo, and I don't plan on doing any new prints until Heroes, but what I WILL have are lots of paintings for sale and what I feel is a really reasonable (Matt would say criminally insane aka 'low') price.

Either way, interesting things going on right now, and I'm just going with it. Praying 2009 is better, I feel like I'm better prepared, and I'm working harder than ever. Lets hope it pays off!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Post 261

Here are some sketches I did while waiting for paint layers to dry. Started on the bottom left and worked to the right, so you can tell there's some improvement and adjustments.