Saturday, January 20, 2007

HDJP: The Foz In High Def!

Like the hair? Thanks. Grew it myself. Why drop cash on a product called "Bed Head" when I already own a bed to do it for me? Just add ten hours of sleep and voila. You've got Buddy Holly, Kramer and Kevin Smith's illegitimate love child.

So the last two assignments I've gotten from Interlude Magazine have seen me turn a new corner in my artistic career and abilities. Jean Charbonneau, the ed in chief, often refers to illustrations she's seen in other magazines when she has an idea for an assignment. In the case of these two I've mentioned, the examples she showed me were in the style of Vector art.

Essentially, Vector art is cartoons shaped with big blocks of flat color without the typical black lines to give them definition. It's basically all computer work, if you do it the way graphic artists do it. However, I'm a hands-on kid from a hands-on background. I've learned Photoshop through a piecemeal tutorial via various friends in the know and my own trial-and-error experimentation. So I came up with my own way to create the Vector style.

I draw out the cartoon by hand, scan it into the computer, color it in Photoshop, then painstakingly go in, erase all the black pen lines and polish and sharpen the remaining blocks of color using a combination of the Photoshop tools. In the end, you'd never know that a good ol' fashioned marker laid the foundation for the final piece, which makes me kinda sad. But it's hard to stay sad after seeing the results. It's rare, but sometimes I impress myself. These pieces gave me good reason.

The hard truth of it is that, in my belief, any monkey with a keyboard can call himself an artist these days. That's what Photoshop and Illustrator have done; given the untalented the ability to buy talent down at Staples or OfficeMax, install it in their computer and print themselves out a masterpiece. But it takes a real scope of vision and keenly honed talent to think up an idea and execute it by hand with rudimentary materials. That's why I still use the tools I use. I want people to know that it takes more than a mouse and a modem for me to be talented. I was born with whatever I can do. I just hope that doesn't get lost in these new mostly-digital pieces.

Jean assures me she still has need for my standard hand drawn cartoon work. But for these last few assignments, a new approach was what was needed. Each piece took me between two and six hours to execute, which is a long time for me. But as I've said, the results speak for themselves. And this is the most I've been challenged artistically since taking Painting with Larry Butcher back at Delta College over ten years ago. It's refreshing to know I can still be challenged, introduced to new methods, and conquer them while making them my own.

On the job front, the whole Bay City Times things is down the tubes as far as I'm concerned. After the contest, they never contacted me to say whether or not I got the position, and honestly, I'm not too bothered by it. I doubt the money would be much more that what I make at my day job now, and there was no promise of health benefits or anything. The Times has shown me how bad their communication skills are, and that's enough to keep me from pursuing a career with them.

I have, however, had some gigs come my way, which is always great. I drew caricatures at my friend Jason's wedding last weekend, I have a two hour caricaturing gig at Northwood University this Saturday, I've got a date booked in March to draw caricatures for Hemlock Elementary (an annual event at least seven years running now), a slew of gigs lined up for May and June, I've got a caricature gig lined up for next October at a country club for a Dow Corning event, and I'm currently working on my first ever cover for Interlude Magazine.

This is a big deal to me, because essentially I'm responsible for "selling" that issue. Whatever I put on the cover is what people will first see and determine whether or not to peruse, purchase or put down the magazine. Plus, Jean tells me it's the first time they've used an illustation for the cover. Nice to know I'm setting a trend here. So for your benefit, I'm showing it to you guys, my core audience, before it hits the stands.

It's drawn in my newly adopted Vector style (as per Jean's request), and it was a bear to create. But it looks sharp. I could see it in Entertainment Weekly or Cosmo, y'know?

Lastly, a weird little moment came down the pipeline recently. Laura was online watching Youtube, perusing the Conan O'Brien clips. She comes across this one homemade compilation of Conan clips set to song by some anonymous fan, and in the midst of watching this montage, notices my caricature of Conan pop up on the screen. So anyway, I e-mail the guy who posted the video, telling him, "Great video. I especially loved the hella cool caricature of Conan. At least, I thought it was hella cool when I DREW IT." I then suggested that, while I didn't mind him using it, that'd I'd appreciate him giving me credit for it. He wrote me back soon after, saying he couldn't believe the artist who drew it found him, and didn't know where it had come from originally (meaning someone else must have ganked it off my website before he did and he found it from them). But he promised to give me props for my work, and as you can see in the clip's description, he has. Always great to snag these guys who try to use your work without your permission or knowledge. Bill Watterson should take note and nail the little bastards who employ Calvin and Hobbes for window stickers showing them pissing on Ford or praying at the cross.

So that's about it for now. More news as it comes. Thanks for sticking with me thus far. Hopefully one day I'll have something so big to report that you'll all be able to say, "Wow! I remember when that guy was just getting by doing caricatures! NOW look at him!"

One day......

1 comment:

Doc Shaner said...

Jay, these illos look fantastic! No joke brother! Even beyond those of more "modern tools" and holding the outline, just the style of the characters (I especially like the little dog) is plain awesome. Good stuff.

I also like the pic at the top. It says "Oh my god a camera the size of a MAC truck".