Thursday’s Children

Back in November, I was approached by friend and author Curtis Chen to produce the art for his upcoming book, Thursday’s Children. A couple weeks ago he announced the cover on his website, so… tada!

512-6x9_Front_Cover_blogHe also is going through the book building process on his 512 Words or Fewer blog including some of the steps involved in designing the cover. You really should go check it out. I’ll wait.

Back? Cool.

I really loved working on this cover piece (and the interior spot illustrations, tease tease). Even the revisions were enjoyable because the resulting image turned out so much stronger.

Curtis is the master of setting a scene and this book is the culmination of his five year 512 Words or Fewer flash-fiction project. All the best of his snack-sized stories were put into this collection (mmm… snack-sized fiction). I highly recommend checking it out. The official release date is Friday, January 31st, so get those reminders set. Here’s a handy link to the official book page.

 

 

Overcoming the Cold Start

Passage(Please excuse me while I ramble about my issues with creative block.)

I also like to call this the great stall, or “blergfffpptt” on special occasions.

Sometimes starting things is easy. You get exited about something and are all over it like a hyperactive puppy on a brand new squeaky ball. OMG! IT’S SO SQUEAKY! AND IT ROLLS! HOLY CRAP DID YOU SEE THAT?! IT BOUNCES TOO?! EEEEEEEE!!!!

Sometimes, not so much. And sometimes jumping back into a once exciting project is difficult. It starts with “oh, that’s a neat idea, I should start that” or “I really should finish that project I started” and then turns into “except that project/idea is now a slathering fell-beast of despair”. At which point the only logical action is to scour the internet for articles discussing ways to overcome this imaginary wall, but instead you find yourself, three hours later, at the bottom of a funny cat video pit.

Don’t deny it. We’ve all been there.

Truth is, I don’t know the best way to push past this confounding illogical creative block. A method that sometimes works for me is to wave a dancing stoat (totally not making this up) in front of my brain, distracting it with something cute and immediately enjoyable in order to maul it from the backside with the project that I was trying to get started in the first place. For example, sketching out some tentacles or hedgehogs or tentacled hedgehogs. In a fez. I think this works because the momentum from little mindless doodles pushes me through the mental wall. Also, another reason to warm up before working on a project. Also, fezzed tentacled hedgehogs with bow-ties.

Alternatively, I just put on some battle-pants and charge flailing into the beast of despair, kicking it in the junk as I run by with my eyes closed. Honestly, that takes a lot of energy. I mean, half the time my battle-pants are in the wash and my aim really isn’t that good with my eyes closed anyway.

While setting the project aflame and chucking it though the nearest window (metaphorically speaking of course) is, technically, effective in burning down the creative block, it’s not all that productive. Although, there may be a point where a project needs to be put out of it’s misery. However, that’s another topic entirely.

All things considered, I prefer the dancing stoat method. However, because the human mind is a complex chaotic thing, there isn’t one method that always works.

OR MAYBE THERE IS? <cue suspenseful music>

Probably not, though. <sad trombone>

Part of this, I think, is because a good deal of my creative projects have no deadlines. “Oh!” I hear you cry, “What about self-imposed deadlines?”

Rubbish, I say. Balderdash and poppycock!

Does a magician get surprised by his own tricks? No. Does a ventriloquist know that the creepy puppet he’s talking to isn’t himself? No. Well… unless the puppet is possessed by a chatty demon, a very clever parrot, or is a sentient robot. The point is, I know they’re self-imposed therefore my brain is like, “Hey, I made that deadline so I can change it to whatever. Ha ha, me. Nice try. You really should know me better, me.”  Brains can be real jerks sometimes.

However, an actual deadline set by a distinctly not-me entity works pretty well, but not helpful on personal projects.

So, yeah…

To summarize, have some dancing stoats handy and make sure your battle-pants are clean. I think that covers it.

What methods work for you when faced with a creative block?

 

Nearly Daily Sketchdump

In an effort to tighten up my skills, I’m going to post daily sketches to my Tumblr site, affectionately named Davy Jones’ Academy of Moderate Dampness for no apparent reason. Well… the reasoning was that if Davy Jones did have an Academy it would be, at the very least, moderately damp. Any other rationale behind the name is lost, tossed into to my well of whims long ago.

Why there and not here? Well, mostly because I like to keep this blog for thoughts and mostly finished work. However, I may do a monthly “best of” post here.

So, if you have any interest in my terrible attempts at producing non-cartoony anatomy and other miscellany, feel free to follow this Tumblr stream.

There may also be the occasional cat because the internet is made of cats. In fact, the internet would explode if we didn’t keep feeding it cat imagery. This is a well known phenomenon. I’m just doing my part to make sure the internet doesn’t explode.

You’re welcome.

To sum up, go look at my Tumblr for silly sketches and possibly cats.

Season’s Greetings!

2013xmas_card-octo-seasongreetings-sm

Yes, I realize it’s a bit late, but that plague bronchitis I had really killed my pre-Christmas progress. BUT it’s now finally done, so YAY! Also, tentacles! Hooray!

I hope everyone had a lovely holiday season and New Year’s!

Looking back to look forward

(a.k.a. bye 2013, hello 2014)

I’m not one for resolutions, but I thought it might be self-educational to break down what I actually did accomplish illustration-wise last year. I think it’s the curse of the creative to underestimate accomplishments, and while the logical part of me knows I did do quite a bit this year, I still have that nagging feeling that I really didn’t do much. So, in an effort to put the dickish part of my brain in its place, here’s a breakdown of what and how many pieces I did complete in 2013.

  • 13: Cthulhu Slippers Season 1
  • 1: Cthulhu Slippers Logo
  • 31: Month of Monsters (4 colored)
  • 1: Thursday’s Children eBook Cover
  • 6: Thursday’s Children Spot Illustrations
  • 1: Beyond the Wall Podcast Logo
  • 1: Consumption Podcast Logo
  • 4: 23 in ’13 Challenge (3 colored)
  • 1: King of Beards Commission
  • 15: Doodle Swap #14 and #15
  • 3: Homebrew Labels
  • 1: End of Flesh eBook Cover
  • 1: Bedtime Stories for Badasses eBook Cover
  • 2: Scalzi Fanart (Redshirts and Snailquake)
  • 1: Doubleclicks Fan Art
  • 1: 512 Words or Fewer Fan Art
  • 1: CmarauderCon Badge

Total pieces: 84

Holy crap… 84?! I was much more productive than I thought I was. Interesting. That’s not even counting all the sketches and doodles. Huzzah!

While I only did 4 pieces specifically for the 23 in ’13 Challenge, I think I’m going to call that a success since my goal at the start was to create at least 23 large full-color finished pieces (I did 32 of those). Because my jerk brain keeps searching for some way to make it seem like I still didn’t do all that much (stupid brain), I’m now curious how many of those I consider portfolio pieces.

15.

Huh.

Not bad, but I think I could do better on that account.

Where to go from here:

  • Keep working to improve my digital painting (I’m working through Chris Oatley’s Magic Box Course)
  • Make an effort to draw every day and to work on weak areas in those sketches
  • Start a Patreon campaign for a personal webcomic I developed in 2013 (more on that later)
  • Do more work, and do good work.

How about you? What challenges did you face completing your creative goals last year? What lessons have you learned to improve your work process in the future?

As for me, my challenge was always feeling like I never had time to work on anything. It’s strange saying that now that I have a numerical value to contradict that feeling. I did get things done, and quite a lot (for me at least – full time professional artists typically crank out more). Working on things just one little bit at a time does produce results even if it doesn’t feel like progression at the time.

Anyway, just a bit of self reflection.

Time to work on something. :)

Cthulhu Slippers: Cookies and Hastur

CS_page7 Because I was suffering from the plague bronchitis last week, I didn’t get a chance to say anything about last week’s comic. So, yeah… cookies. It’s sad when they run out. Or something. Did I mention I’ve been sick?

Check out the full comic at Cthulhu Slippers.

 

 

 

 

 

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Sometimes it better to check the office directory before pulling out the human sacrifice. Sometimes. Check out the full comic.