Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Seven Questions for Leaders

I'm a fan of Seth Godin's daily blog. Most if not all if his posts are though provoking. I really appreciate how he keeps looking forward and urges each and every one of us to do the same. If you aren't reading his blog, you should be.

He recently posted the very thought-provoking "Seven questions for leaders".

I'll wait while you go check 'em out.

Done? Good.

Here's my personal addendum to his post: if you are going on job interviews you need to be asking these seven questions. If the answers are not to your liking, then you don't want to work with those folks. Move on and either find another company or better yet, start your own.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Sketchbook Project: The Maiden & The Hawk Part 3

This is part two of a three-part series on my The Sketchbook Project entry. Read part one and part two on how I set up the sketchbook with new paper. The basic concept for the project is that when you sign up, you are provided a sketchbook to fill up with images based on a theme. I chose "Storybook" because I've always been a fan of myths and fairytales.

So I've got new pages for my sketchbook, I've got my concept storyboarded, and I had my characters defined...time to put it all together into the final illustrations!

I used my storyboards as my "bible" and pencilled each page as a spread (this spread is page 2 and 15):

After completing each sketch, I went back and inked each page with my trusty Pitt Artist Pens:

After letting the inked pages dry, I erased my pencil lines and prepared to color my pages with watercolors. I had kept a set of Dr. Ph. Martin's Watercolors from college and decided it was time to put them to use. 

Some pages turned out, "eh": 

While some pages really turned out beautifully:

You can view the complete set of pages on my Flickr page.

After all that, I still had to rebind the pages to the sketchbook cover. After a failed attempt at simply poking holes into the pages and sewing them together, I figured out that I could use pushpins to keep everything in register. So I got out my trusty old Artist's Tape and taped up the middle of the book and started over:

And here's how the center spread looks sewn to the cover with heavy duty thread:
After all that hard work, I'm still uncertain about how the project turned out. I've learned a lot along the way, but I feel that some pages just could have been done better. I would've loved to have redone the entire book, but time was short, so I had to move on. I guess the folks who check out The Sketchbook Project on its nationwide tour will be the true judges of how my book turned out...

Oh, and for those who've read this far, thank you. If you are interested, here is the full text of my poem that The Maiden & The Hawk is based on:

The Maiden and the Hawk
The Maiden stood at her balcony,
Hawk was soaring high
Over her castle
When he heard her sadness.

Hawk landed perfectly
On the small ledge
And asked of the Maiden,
“What troubles you so?”

The Maiden replied,
“My true love left me for another.”
And Hawk said,
“Mine too.”
The Maiden smiled
And her tears dried up.

Hawk then came to Maiden every night.
On his third visit,
He asked of her,
“The moon shines full.
Let us fly up to her embrace
And back again.”

“But Hawk, I cannot fly,”
Was her forlorn reply.
Hawk grinned knowingly.
“Tonight, my fair Maiden,
Dreams come true
And everything is possible.
Just close your eyes.”

The Maiden did so,
And off they went.
The wind in her hair.
The moon soft upon her face.

Hawk soared forever
Up there
Around the full moon.
And far too soon,
The Maiden and the Hawk
Returned to Earth.

The Maiden stood
Shimmering in the moonlight.
Hawk’s feathers
Glowed about him
In the most magnificent way.

The Maiden whispered,
“Thank you, Hawk,
For being you.”
She placed a gentle kiss
Upon his beak
And wished her wish.

As she did this,
Hawk stood up
And cast off
His feathered coat.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Japan Earthquake Poster - Please Help!

I'm sure you've heard about the devastating earthquake that hit Japan on Friday. I'm not quite sure why, but I've always had an interest and fascination with Japan and its rich culture. I would love to travel there one day after this disaster has passed.

Feeling helpless just listening to the news about the quake, the resultant tsunami, and the nuclear reactor problems, I decided to do what very little I could: I made a poster.

Prints are available for a limited time only from my Imagekind shop and 100% of the profits will be donated to the American Red Cross relief efforts in Japan. Please pass the word!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The Sketchbook Project: The Maiden & The Hawk Part 2

This is part two of a three-part series on my The Sketchbook Project entry. Read part one on how I set up the sketchbook with new paper. The basic concept for the project is that when you sign up, you are provided a sketchbook to fill up with images based on a theme. I chose "Storybook" because I've always been a fan of myths and fairytales.

After receiving my sketchbook and while I was making the new pages, I was thinking about what I would actually fill those pages with. I've always loved myths and fairy tales, so I knew I would focus on that aspect. I can't recall exactly what prompted it, but I began to think that I could do a version of Jack & the Beanstalk. My initial concept was to keep it simple: make a gatefold poster that would open up out of the sketchbook and tell the whole story in 2 images (front page and back page):

After some consideration, it just wasn't working for me for this project. So I worked up some storyboards on how I could tell a more traditional story with my take on Jack and the Beanstalk.

I sorta freaked out because it was the busy holiday season, I had tons of stuff going on, and I felt like I had to start over and that I didn't have time for it. But I put the project aside for awhile and let ideas sorta marinate. Then I remembered a poem that I had written in the early 2000s about The Maiden and The Hawk. I've always loved that poem and thought it would make a great illustrated fairy tale book. This was my chance! So I worked up storyboards based on the poem. I tried to get the story to fill the allotted 24 pages, but I would be stretching it to make it fit that many pages, so I settled on 16 pages instead. I also decided that while I had limited dialog in the poem, I wanted no discernible words on this version, so I made up a symbol based language to convey the dialog without using letters.

Now that I had the storyboards complete, I did some research on maidens and hawks and did some character studies to prepare for the real thing:

Now I was ready to create my sketchbook pages!

Coming next week: putting it all together.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

The Sketchbook Project: The Maiden & The Hawk Part 1

This is part one of a three-part series on my The Sketchbook Project entry. 

I decided to enter the Art House Co-Op's The Sketchbook Project this year based on the link provided by my design friends over at the HOW Design Forum. The great thing about knowing a lot of folks in the design industry is the vast knowledge and resources they can share. The bad part is that you may be like me and want to participate in too much stuff. While I was initially excited by the project, it quickly became clear that this project was bigger than I anticipated. And because I had been so busy during the fall, it was time to start work on it right around the holidays. Whoops!

The basic concept for the project is that when you sign up, you are provided a sketchbook to fill up with images based on a theme. I chose "Storybook" because I've always been a fan of myths and fairytales. The provided sketchbook pages were very thin and there were a lot of them: 80 something if I recall correctly...

I spent a bit of time trying to wrap my head around the project and it was evident that I needed to cut the number of pages so I could have a hope of completing the project on time. I also decided to do my book in watercolors and that would require better quality paper. 

My first (and easiest) task was to remove the old paper. A few snips with the scissors and the old pages were free from their binding.

My next task was to choose a new paper to add to the sketchbook. I chose Canson's 140gsm Watercolor paper. It has a great texture and was the right size for the project. 

Next up, I figured out the number of pages I wanted my book to be and then I setup and trimmed the sheets to size. I originally figured that I would need 24 total pages (12 sheets), but that number would change...

Next up, and my favorite part, I wanted to do deckled edges. And I had no idea how to make them. So I just figured I'd draw a line where I wanted the edge to be...and luckily the edges of my desk are sharp! 
Here's how the book looked with the new pages inserted...
After all this, I was ready to work on my actual sketches and pages! 

Coming next week: ideas, sketches, and freak-outs, oh my!