A while back I decided to take a stab at writing & illustrating a kids book. Client work seems to come first so this little project has taken a back seat, but I work on it when I have time. So, I'm still busy dummying the book out, but did some painted tests from the character development stage. Did these back in November but forgot to post them here. Better late than never, I guess. Pretty sure this is one of those projects that I'll need to make time to work on it instead of trying to find the time.
I recently passed the one year mark of having a separate studio from where I live. The previous 12 or 13 years had me working from home, but when my house started filling up with my children, the need for the studio increased as my work productivity decreased. It was only supposed to be until the kids were in daycare, but it quickly turned into a better situation overall so now it's a long term thing. Being able to turn off work when I leave for the day and just be Dad at home, and being more productive and more focused has been pretty invaluable. All my worries about the extra costs, or wanting to work all the time, or not being at home for every hour of every day, quickly washed away after I settled into the new routine. I highly recommend this move for anyone in a similar situation.
This past summer I was commissioned by Great Lakes Brewing Company in Cleveland, OH, to refresh the label artwork for their line-up of craft beers. GLBC is a brand that's critically acclaimed with a regional cult following and it's the first time they've refreshed their brand since opening for business over 25 years ago. The branding refresh was handled by the great team at Brokaw. So many of the labels have connections to Ohio, as well as personal connections to the brewery's owners, brothers Pat and Dan Conway. My job is to help showcase these stories in an interesting way all while remaining true to their roots as they get ready for expansion on national scale. Here's the reveal of the first 5 labels.
Well just when I thought work and life couldn't get busier, I started teaching a Hand-Lettering class in the Illustration program this semester at my alma mater, Sheridan College. I have always had a bit of a soft spot for it since I had such a great experience while there and it's hard for me to imagine how different my life and career would be if not for Sheridan. I had great teachers, an invaluable internship, and graduated with some fellow illustrators who create wonderful work and continue to inspire me.
I've lectured from time to time, but it's not at all in my comfort zone, mainly because it feels like I should be an extrovert in order to truly enjoy it. That said, the past few years I've learned how to work comfortably outside of my comfort zone. Or maybe my comfort zone is just larger now as a result of forcing myself to step outside of it? But, for me, teaching is worlds apart from lecturing and it feels so much more natural. I like it. I like the idea of getting to know your students, seeing them learn and grow from you, and it feels like it'll be very fulfilling. I've quickly learned what teachers mean when they say it's a very rewarding profession. I've often felt a desire to be a part of the cycle that helps the next generation of illustrators, regardless of how brief it'll be for, even if it's just for this semester. I've started wondering if my own growth as an illustrator (and/or as a person?) will be influenced from this stint, kind of like when you become a parent and you're conscious of leading by example. Anyways, I'm excited to see comes of it.
I've bee playing around with repeating patterns lately. Basically, these are little exercises to help me think more graphically because I have some future plans for my work (like illustrating a kids book) and I need to feel more comfortable with the transition, both visually and mentally.
Here's a treatment I did for WIRED UK.
I just found out that a series of animal pieces I worked on for Prana have been accepted in the Society of Illustrators 56. Normally I don't get excited about stuff like this but SI has been undergoing some great changes in the past few years and I'm happy to help support them as they continue to help preserve the craft of Illustration.
Well, I started writing a children's book recently. This is completely new territory for me and I'm really enjoying the challenges so far. I'll also admit that I have clue what I'm doing. I've been anxious to start expanding my work into new areas and I want to figure out what else I can bring to the table as I'm starting to feel stale in some areas. If you asked me 2 years ago if I would write & illustrate a children's book I would have said "no", but yet, here I am. It's not that I'm writing the book for my son, but it's because of him. Outside of adjusting to new routines and schedules I didn't realize fatherhood would have a direct impact on the actual artwork. This is just further evidence that supports my wife's theory that I'm equally clueless as I am astute. Either way, I'm excited about the new challenges it places on my work and it feels good knowing I may be starting a new chapter of my career.
This spring I was asked by Jayme Stone to build a life-sized Calder-esque mobile that could be used as his album cover for The Other Side of the Air. The main challenge for me was figuring how to create my work on a large 3-dimensional scale AND have it be light weight so it could be hung and moved with ease. I didn't want to rely on something like a CNC machine to cut out the shapes because I was afraid they'd start to feel too mechanical. After some experiments I found the materials that I needed to use and started building. I'm really happy with the results and it's helped me open up other avenues in the way I work.