Saturday, March 30, 2013

Spectum 20 and HUGO nomination too!

Kind of a whirl-wind day: Just got the news that I made it into Spectrum 20! Aaaaand... also, I'm on the Hugo ballot for Best Fan Artist ;)

Thrilled and honored to be sharing space with an amazing line up of artists, writers, editors, creators of all types. I'll post more when I have more information myself. Meanwhile, Here's a glimpse inside the  jury selection process for Spectrum and the nominating process for the Hugo.

More later, meanwhile, Happy Eostre!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Fully Dressed Superheroines.

An exercise in character design by comic artist Mike Lundsford.

"Point of this: An exercise in character design, attempting to clothe the heroines nearly all the way and not making them painted-on, while still keeping the look of their original costumes in some way... NOT the point of this: some moral code I’m trying to push on you" ~Mike.
(check out the full line up.) 
Very Very Very applicable to things I am interested in. Speaking of which, found this one recently on pinterest:
(wish I had a source for this one, i'm not sure where she originated :-/ )

Makes me want to put on gauntlets and play with swords again, myself :)

photo session at IMC 2012

Okay, that's all for now. Back to work.

happy happy happy.

This, by Chuck Wendig, (also applicable to visual artists):


Chuck goes on to expand further, but here, two teaser quotes:

"It’s a cool moment where by creating art with no limits or no pressure and with jizz-buckets of fun you still managed to do something interesting. Something different. Carry that into your writing. Leap into the beyond. Fingerpaint like a boss. Remove the pressure of quality and give yourself permission to suck." 


"Failure is illuminating. It reveals every broken board beneath our feet, every crack in the wall, every pothole in the road. Do not shun failure. High-five it. Hug it. Engage in lusty pawing with it. Failure means you’re doing."

Go read the rest.

Now, your entertainment, the mummified heart of Auguste Delagrance.  (!!!)

Thursday, March 21, 2013

having it all. or not.

Yesterday I had a good conversation with a friend. About living the creative life, day job vs creative work, when creative work is your day job, time management, etc. What sparked the conversation was an Onion article; Find the Thing You Are Most Passionate About, Then Do It On Nights And Weekends For The Rest Of Your Life. The Onion did what it does best; using satire to push real buttons. This one pushed a lot of my buttons. (That's a good thing, regardless of your opinion about the article, having your buttons pushed is a good thing.)

This morning, Amy Sundberg wrote a post along the same theme. But not satire, simply real life situations and facts:  Nobody Can Have It All. An excerpt:

"It’s so much sexier to talk about priorities in terms of what you can accomplish with them, as opposed to what you have to give up. But the accomplishment and sacrifice come together... Priorities are set based on how much we want something, but they are also set based on what we’re willing to do without. You’re willing to not have much of a normal social life? Then you can be a concert pianist. You’re willing to not see your kids very often? Then you can be a high-powered CEO. Most of us don’t have choices that are quite as extreme, but the core principle remains the same." ~read more 

Finding what works. What you want. What you have control over. What you are willing (and able) to sacrifice.  Right now, in your current situation. (It's what I'm trying to do.)

Anyhow. Here are three random cool things that actually do relate to sacrifices and priorities, but mostly they made me tingle with delight just a bit. 

1) Onna-Bugeisha: Japan, 19th Century. “An onna-bugeisha (女武芸者) was a type of female warrior belonging to the Japanese upper class." (read more
3) Filipina actor, Marian Rivera as the Visayan warrior, Amaya welding her sword for justice. (read more

and 3) And the latest Star Trek trailer. (Evil evil Benedict Cumberbatch!)

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

pretty pinterest (plus viewer data algorthithms, plagiarism etc)

When buzz about pinterest first hit my ears it was in the form of housewives giddy over finding cool recipes, cleaning tips, crafty ideas, and exercise routines to obtain the perfect buttocks.  Not really my thing.

Then I got involved in the Geek Love anthology project and Shanna Germain invited me to begin pinning to the group boards there and Oh...! a whole new point to these pretty pins revealed itself. I joined up and jumped in and eventually began to make my own boards. (Shanna recently wrote here and here about creatives using pinterest for inspiration, collaboration, etc.) I used pinterest for collaboration again when I started work on the Glitter and Mayhem cover, Creating a joint pinterest board where John Kilma, Lynn Thomas and I could throw shiny stuff at each other as the anthology took shape.

Now let me combine that with something else that's in the back of my mind and I think it is connected: I'm thinking about the way we create. The rubbing of elbows, the sharing of ideas, the give and take (both with other artists as well as with our audiences.) We don't create in a vacuum and social media increases the white noise around your creation. I observe some illustrations I've done that I love with all my heart get very little response while others that I'm more ambivalent about get much more fanfare. It has me thinking of the way Netflix is using viewer data and algorithms to give viewers 'exactly what they want' and ereaders are tracking audience reading trends to 'help authors create even better books'. There's no judgement there, just something I think about. For someone trying to make a living at this, creating work that get's good public reactions is pretty important. On a slightly different track, here's a rather sobering and controversial foray into artistic plagiarism in the Heavy Metal art scene. Not sure how much that applies to the topic at hand, but it's on my mind quite a bit lately: I use inspiration and reference material from a wide assortment of places but want to make sure that the end creation is authentically mine and could never be accused of plagiarism.

Anyhow, back to pinterest. Yes, I do love it! All the pretty pretty things I can find there. Inspiration, new discoveries, other people's variations on similar ideas, a wider visual world all nice and neatly organized. (Sort of.) And yeah... I am even thinking of starting a board for recipies I want to try.

Meanwhile, here! Two things found just this morning on pinterest:

1) A new artist I am swooning over. Full Mano, embroiderer artist working in Paris. (More here.):
Embroidery altered photo by Full Mano

and 2) More delightful art from Ann Siems:

Messengers by Ann Siems.

Okay, that's all. Back to other stuff.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

The Helsinki Bus Station Theory.

Originally theorized by photographer Arno Minkkinen in 2004, brought back to light by Oliver Burkeman at The Guardian last month.

It goes as follows:

"There are two dozen platforms, Minkkinen explains, from each of which several different bus lines depart. Thereafter, for a kilometre or more, all the lines leaving from any one platform take the same route out of the city, making identical stops. "Each bus stop represents one year in the life of a photographer," Minkkinen says. You pick a career direction – maybe you focus on making platinum prints of nudes – and set off. Three stops later, you've got a nascent body of work. "You take those three years of work on the nude to [a gallery], and the curator asks if you are familiar with the nudes of Irving Penn." Penn's bus, it turns out, was on the same route. Annoyed to have been following someone else's path, "you hop off the bus, grab a cab… and head straight back to the bus station, looking for another platform". Three years later, something similar happens. "This goes on all your creative life: always showing new work, always being compared to others." What's the answer? "It's simple. Stay on the bus. Stay on the fucking bus." ~ read more 

I thought that was pretty interesting advice.

Now, for your entertainment, here's one of the internal illustrations I created for Stephen Carter's novel The Hand of Glory:

Friday, March 8, 2013

asking for money.

You may have noticed that several of the recent projects I've been involved with have been funded by Kickstarter campaigns. That's an interesting (sometimes awkward) place for me to be: I have a difficult time asking for money. It's been educational and eye opening to participate in and promote these projects as a contributing artist. The arts need funding. Artists and writers need to be compensated for their time and skill and energy.

So here's just four things:

1) Stephen Blackmoore blogged about the success of our recent Fireside Kickstarter. An excerpt:
"Nobody’s walking around with bags of money dumping them on startup magazines saying, “Here, get some awesome fiction into the world.” They should, but they aren’t. People with bags of money are disinclined to give it away. That’s where crowdfunding comes in. Crowdfunding is nothing new. I’ve been involved in a couple of projects that have been funded that way, like the Kickstarter that led to my writing KHAN OF MARS, and I’ll probably be involved in a few more...
The arts depend on patronage. Whether that patronage comes from someone with big wads of cash, advertisers, people purchasing a subscription, cartels laundering money through shell companies, whatever, is irrelevant. Crowdfunding is no different, except in that it spreads that patronage out to and puts it directly into the hands of you, the audience.
Congratulations, you are all mini-Medicis." ~read more
 2) Amanda Palmer gave a TED presentation on The Art of Asking.  An excerpt:
"I was a self employed living statue called the 8 foot bride... I would get harrassed sometimes, people would yell at me from their passing cars 'GET A JOB' and I'd be like 'this is my job', but it hurt and made me fear that I was doing something 'un job like' and unfair and shameful..." ~Amanda Palmer

She goes on to talk about her own experience with Kickstarter, with negative backlash, the new way of connecting with audiences, and the entire talk is 12 minutes of AWESOME:

3) Recent developments in author contracts with Random House which disenfranchise the author.
First, John Scalzi weighs in extensively and you really must read the whole thing but here's an excerpt:
"What impetus does Alibi have to keep those costs down? What impetus will it have to keep those costs high? And how will you know the difference? Well, if you are like most authors, you won’t — and thus, you’ll be at the mercy of Alibi in terms of what costs you owe. This is, I will note, a fine way for Alibi (or any publisher under such a scheme) to make mischief and engage in the sort of accounting that ends up making the publisher a profit and the author, well, pizza money." ~read more
Then Jeremiah Tolbert translates the PR response from Random House. An excerpt:
"We hired some­one from the record indus­try, and we were aston­ished to learn that you could fuck over writ­ers in ways we never even imag­ined.  So we imme­di­ately set about set­ting up an imprint where we could dick over writ­ers like record com­pa­nies have been screw­ing over musi­cans for years.  Why should be have to bear the bur­den of risk pub­lish­ing new authors, I mean, we’ve been doing it for­ever, isn’t that long enough?  We swear writ­ers will make money this way." ~read more
(Here's the full content of the Random House response, and SFWA reply.)

4) Recent protests at the Oscars over the state of the VFX artists' dismal financial state of affairs.  An excerpt from The Big Social Picture:
"The film Life of Pi was nominated for Visual Effects (and won!), but sadly the studio that did the effects for the movie (Rhythm & Hues) had to file for bankruptcy a few weeks ago, and laid off close to 250 employees.  The protest was named "A Piece of the Pi" to show that the VFX studio behind the film wasn't getting their share of its success...
This tragic story is just one example of the poor state of the VFX industry.  With overseas competition, domestic VFX houses have been surviving on less than 5% profit margins, and other studios have gone bankrupt as well (see: Digital Domain). " ~read more , and more and more.

And there you go. I do not have anything more profound to add after these brilliant folks. Just needed to make a note of it, for my own sake as much as anything, then get back to work.

some alternatives to drinking alone in the dark

my latest blog post for the Inkpunks.
I've had this conversation several times lately:
Friend: "Hey, what cons are you going to this year? Will you be at [ComicCon? Rainforest? IMC? Norwescon? WHC? IlluxCon? WFC?... etc]"
Me: "No, i'm not going to that one either..."
It usually feels a bit like this:

Let's face it. Conventions and workshops are great for networking with those in your field, pitching project ideas, promoting yourself, getting immersed in your craft etc etc. But also, cons are this magical alternate reality in which your scattered tribe, who you usually connect with only via the Internets, will all converge in one geographic location and have a good time!
[read the rest....]

Thursday, March 7, 2013

catching up: a few things I haven't blogged about yet

Each of these should have been it's own blog post. (Maybe one or two of them will be, eventually.) But here's a quick run down of what I've been doing lately (in no real order.)

First... FIRESIDE! In a breathtaking down-to-the-wire kickstarter, Fireside relaunches on July 1 as a monthly website and ebook, each with two pieces of flash fiction, one short story, one part of a 12-episode fiction experiment by Chuck Wendig. I'll be doing monthly art for them, and created this promotional piece for the kickstarter. (Here's the Q&A with me on the matter.)

Also, last month we just wrapped up a successful Kickstarter for the Glitter and Mayhem anthology. I am working on the cover art right now; here's a preview of the preliminary study:

And OZ REIMAGINED! I spent All of last October buried in emerald cities and yellow brick roads to create the cover art and individual art pieces for this John Joseph Adams anthology. Here's a bit about creating the cover art, and an interview with me on the process. (Plus...both  i09 and the Mary Sue feature glimpses at the internal art work)

Also last year I had the titillating delight to work with Shanna Germain, Jaym Gates, Janine Ashbless, Lee Moyer and Bear Weiter to bring Geek Love to life.


Along with finishing up the Glitter and Mayhem cover this month, I am also finalizing the cover for The Future Embodied, edited by May Empson and Jason Andrew.  Here's a glimpse at the preliminary cover sketch for that one: 

Finally, over the holidays I got the chance to get my horror on, working with Stephen Carter on his historical ghost novel, The Hand of Glory.

Okay, well now. I feel a bit more caught up. More about whatnot later.