Sunday, July 30, 2017

Uniformity Required

We had a meeting earlier in the month. Everyone was present; Chad, Steven, Keith, and I. This meeting started with me previewing for the others a digital mock up of the book. All the images that we felt the book required were used in the PDF I shared. There are a lot of new images and this was the first time the rest of the group had seem many of them. They were well received, some with great enthusiasm. However, there was a general problem with the images.
I've had my nose to the grindstone so closely - had my blinders fixed to block out extra work until I finished all the "pages" - that I was taken aback when it was brought up and discussed how the Toddler's appearance has not been consistent throughout the book. I had been keenly aware of this but had accidentally erased it from my mind. You see, his face and head was much more rounded when I began drawing him and had acquired a block structure somewhere along the way. And his nose became bigger and more block like. I simply forgot this looming issue, how fixing it was a necessity.

As you see in the top image, created a few years ago, the Toddler's face is quite rounded and his nose is smaller and less square. The second image has a completely different color palette, too, but that was just an experiment and final coloring is a later step. But yes, the difference is clear and there were other less obvious features that changed like the teeth (the gap developed later), and rounded hair ends. 
Don't expect a highly uniform appearance with any of the characters in the book, but Toddler is such a central one that special attention will be given to him by the reader and so I must get it right. Nevertheless, I enjoy giving his face some flexibility based on its expression and forces acting on it such as his own nubby little hands.


It is always difficult to take criticism, artist or not, and this meeting was no exception, but I have some new tools to deal with this difficulty.

(Continued in the next post...)

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Four Heads/Are Better Than One

I've been playing around with a bunch of head drawings I did in the last couple weeks of the Toddler and his Companion. This is one configuration I particularly liked. Remember!.. Color will come later/next.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

That Thing I've Avoided Sharing (Until Now)

This is a post that I have repeatedly thought about writing but have questioned the wisdom of sharing each time. Sure, I have alluded to it, mentioned it in passing, but never directly, and never with the weight it deserves. The post I'd like to write is about self-doubt. Often times I feel like it's the elephant in the room. It seems to be too important a factor in the process of making this book to give short shrift. If I am going to share this creative process withheld all of you, and I really want to because it is something of great importance to me, it's import should be expressed in a forthright way. To convey the story behind the storybook, and more specifically my story as the illustrator, all the relevant and interesting bits should be included even if some of those things feel quite personal.

...Isn't this the new way? -Marketing (believe it or not, Drawing A Conclusion me marketing this book-to-be) should be thought of as sharing and with a kind of informality and transparency that allows for connection, trust. I don't have any training in marketing, I don't know about clicks or eyes or interest, how to attract them. For sure I've been doing it wrong because – too shy on social media, too hesitant; too few posts, not enough about me, my opinions, my life. Too infrequently have I commented on others posts, started a conversation that bonds and brings together. I have my habitual behavior of being reclusive , staying insular, not reaching out to others. But I very much want to reach out and connect with you. I want to create something that for you is joyful and meaningful. You being able to see what me and my friends have created and sharing it with the young people in your life would be a very special connection!

Of course the fear in sharing what is a surely a weakness is that you are painting yourself in a negative light for others. Many would say, "Don't do it. You are giving yourself a reputation". Honestly, I can't see how that wouldn't be true, but, taken as a whole, revealing your weakness need not be a negative thing. By revealing my difficulties, I hope to help the reader identify with me and my journey. The self-doubt feels like a unique and personal debilitation,but, in my more grounded moments, I can see it as a quite universal and common affliction. If it were not so, there would be a heck of a lot more people going after their dreams. This seems like common sense.

To put this into less wordy, more every day language:
Guys, making the pictures for this book is really challenging me and making me confront my insecurities and reckon with my negative habits. In my core, I sense this will be a pretty awesome book that has the potential to get a lot of attention that could translate into sales. I've never had anything resembling that kind of success and the possibility of it is causing me to subtly drag my heels — put off completion. Even if the only success this achieves is the completion of a project that took years, I am daunted!
When I have attempted to support myself through my craft it has been a losing proposition, I just couldn't sustain it, not enough gigs, under-estimating how long it would take me to complete and therefore under-bidding. It was a couple years of being broke and going further into the hole due to the interest on my credit card debt. It was a couple years of struggle. I lacked the inner strength to self-promote, to network, to push forward with confidence.

All I could see were my negatives, how I could only barely work on my portfolio and add pieces. It seemed I didn't have the resolve or discipline to put in as much work as animators that were having success and believed that if I did the same as they, I too would have success and my work might even be of superior quality. This may be true, but it is a sort of excuse. It is part of perfectionist's dilemma; too self-critical to create, never having to see if your work measures up to your high standards. Never trying, never failing. The solution being: to do the thing, to take action, to risk failing, give myself the only chance of succeeding.

The bottom line, thankfully, is that here I am...doing it. Not just to make a living, but to take full control of my success and consequently my life. Not creating for a client, but for myself, for everyone. I'm proud to be inching toward a goal that I have worked very hard on and represents my best work to date.

Thank you if you read to the end! I'll try to keep future posts shorter.