10 More Days of Pawgust

The struggle continues with daily production of stuff. Some days I feel like I’m getting this. Other days I think I’m wasting my time. While I think every creative person probably goes through these feelings at some point, I don’t remember a time when the flip-flopping happened so rapidly for me. But if I know anything, it’s that I just have to keep at it. I’m going to try not to analyze anything over the next 10 days and just keep my head down and produce. There’s an odd vulnerability I feel. I don’t want to share anything anymore because I feel like I’m forcing people to look at crappy drawings. How strange.

Experimentation continues. I’m just going to post a few favorites for now.

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Pawgust is Coming…

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What have I been working on besides the gifts/commissions? (Shhh! you know who you are…I’m working on them…) More drawing. It’s simple. Just more of that grand act of picking up the pen, pencil, Apple pencil, or even occasional crayon.

Aside from just the discipline to do this, I thought it’d be a good opportunity to do another drawing challenge, à la Inktober. I always get some cool stuff out of Inktober, from exploring styles to just a nice creative flow that results from setting aside time every day to create the piece. The Disney animator Tom Bancroft started a drawing challenge back in May that he called “Mermay.” The challenge (as you can probably guess) invited people to “post a new mermaid drawing every day in May.” It looked fun. Some people did creepy zombie mermaids, others did robot-mechanical ones. Good stuff.

These challenges, along with the knowledge that they always lead to good stuff for my craft, inspired me to think of something for August. There needed to be a play on the name, of course…because that’s what you do. I posted about it on Facebook and got so many responses from friends. A big thank you to everyone, for playing along and having fun with the ideas!! I had only come up with about 4 names myself: Dogust, Frogust, Hogust, and Drawgust. But everyone else collectively? Twenty-five…though some overlapped and some were just plain silly. I suppose this is why people crowd-source ideas.

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I’ve decided to go with Pawgust! After some quick googling, I found that Pawgust did exist on the Discovery Family Channel in 2015, where it was a month-long event of animal-themed series, specials, and movies hosted by animal-lover Betty White. Other people have used it too: retailers for animal-themed sales and events, photographers for photo sessions of pets during August. It’s not a terribly original idea. I just wanted to make sure it didn’t have some other cultural meaning that I didn’t know about. Like, “Pawgust: learn how to be an excellent thief! Get your sneaky paws on loot!” Or something.

So starting next Tuesday, August 1, the August Drawing Challenge, Pawgust, begins! A challenge to draw anything with any kind of paws. Maybe there could even be some sort of tie to helping out some local animal charities or something too. I need to contact some other minds for this kind of thing. More details soon!

Blurb book arrived!

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After Inktober, I wanted to gather all of the Verntrupple drawings into a collection. I looked into Blurb.com, downloaded their InDesign plug-in, and got started.

The InDesign plug-in is amazing. You choose the type of book you want to design, the paper, the number of pages to start with and then go to town. There are guides and bleed marks. All of the production questions are answered via just using the template.

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After I got everything laid out how I wanted, I worked on the cover. Then when both files were finished, I uploaded them to blurb through InDesign. So crazy simple! I confirmed paper, the sizes, etc. Preflight was done and no errors were found. I was redirected to blurb.com and chose my quantity, shipping, and paid for the books. I ordered 10 to get a little discount, figuring it would be nice to have a few to play with / give away, etc.

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I’m very impressed with the quality of the printing. I chose a 6″ x 9″ trade book, keeping it cheaper this way. I chose the standard color printing, not the economy printing. The pages have visual bleed-through, but it isn’t bad and I expected this. The colors are vivid and crisp. I would give more inside margin room in the future, and I would also make the book more pages. Right now, it’s so thin…it just kind of feels flimsy, or like it should be a hard cover but isn’t.

I listed it on Etsy. Who knows – maybe someone would want to buy a cute little art book. I am giving a few away to family and friends. Oh, and yeah…trying to get that Etsy shop populated!

Stranger Things

I recently finished watching Stranger Things on Netflix. Yes, I binge-watched it. What other way is there to watch a show on Netflix?

I really enjoyed it. Before I watched it, I had a feeling I would enjoy it, from what I heard about it. And I also thought it would possibly be something awesome to draw in a “pop culture” kind of way.

Around the same time I finished the first season’s episodes, I found my gouache paint. We have been painting models for Pathfinder, a campaign-style role playing game we’re going to play this winter, and all of that painting really made me want to paint more. Specifically, I wanted to revisit gouache. So I broke out the paint tubes, some watercolor paper, and after some quick character sketching for Stranger Things, I painted Eleven on a waffle. If you haven’t seen the show and you like sci-fi and scary stuff…and the 80s…I highly recommend it. It’s kind of Goonies meets E.T. meets Stand By Me. You probably have to have seen the show to understand the drawings below.

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Pretty fun, and a nice way to get back into painting. I would like to do all of the characters. Next, Barb. Have you seen Barb?

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I haven’t decided how I’m going to feature Mike, Lucas, Will and Dustin yet. Or if I’ll do Nancy, Jonathan, Joyce and Hopper. Or any others, for that matter. But I at least would like to do the kids. I also decided that these would be better for any products as vector art. I am still going to start with paintings of them each…but am currently in the process of making them vector as well.

It’s been hard to balance painting and working the day job…but with winter coming and less yard work / outside things to do, I’m hopeful my evenings can be spent with my paints.

More Sketching

I am enjoying what I’m learning from my 30 minute sketches, filling the page with one idea to draw. I’ve done mimes, monsters, robots, and now people in glasses. Here are some things I’ve learned:

  1. A 30 minute sketch allows me to have a finished product, even if it’s just a sketch-level product; it feels good to accomplish something
  2. It seems to be just enough time to slightly push ideas…while not pushing them far enough. That’s good and bad. But I’ve come away from these thinking “yeah…I could definitely explore this a lot more,” i.e. push characters expressions or exaggerate features. Maybe one day I will be able to push things farther in that time period.
  3. Limiting my color palette is impactful to the overall page of images. I’m enjoying that, but also find it to be difficult.
  4. 30 minutes is incredibly easy to fit into my day.

Here is my page of people in glasses. And I’ve also included a sketchbook page of character practice I did last year. I would love to be able to come up with a character(s) I like and draw all of their emotions/expressions.

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In print research news, I think I now have all of the samples and/or paper swatch samples I’ve sent out for from online places. There is one place in town I need to email, and then I am going to make a chart based on sizes I think I’d like to sell and see what costs are. I seriously don’t know how people are selling things as cheap as they are, given what I think I’ve seen so far. Plus shipping and shipping costs? We shall see… That’s on this weekend’s list.

30 Minute Sketches

I read an article someone posted (I can’t remember where anymore) about an artist talking about taking 30 minutes and drawing for himself before he’d start anything else for the day. I can understand the benefits, though I think my take on it may be different from the original writer’s point. So I decided to start filling the pages of a new mixed media sketchbook I had bought. The first one was the mimes that I wanted to draw after one of my Inktober drawings in which I drew a mime. After filling the page with pencil sketches, then inking them with a Tombow wtaer-based pen and sharpie, I was finished in about 30 minutes. Perfect!

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After mimes came some monsters…and a pretty disappointing use of the pens. I just wasn’t happy with the colors. I do like some of the monsters’ gestures though.

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And today’s 30 minute sketch was robots. Again, I didn’t even really try to make these last 30 minutes…it just happens to be the right amount of time for some quick sketches and inking. I went back to black ink for the robots, with a green/gray waterpen and green and orange sharpies. I think the minimal color pop is fun.

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I’m going to keep doing these pages. This certainly helps keep some drawing flow going and have something to post on Instagram. I can definitely carve out 30 minutes when I want to. Plus who knows what kind of new character ideas may come from some of these.

Reviewing Yourself = Hard

So far I’ve known I want to sell some sort of prints in a shop, as well as original art eventually. I’ve decided on Etsy as a shop, and I’m researching different print-creation options. While waiting for more samples to come in, I thought I should get a jump on what prints I’d actually want to have made so I can prepare the art files.

As I began to think about what the heck I’d actually pay to have made, knowing I probably won’t recoup that money any time soon, the decision proved to be a tough one.

First, as I mentioned, I don’t expect to actually sell anything for quite some time. Maybe some family members will purchase something, but I am fully aware that just because people ask if I have a shop or say “you should sell your art!” enthusiastically (as if I’d suddenly be able to quit my day job from my sales), I’m not guaranteed anything. Once the shop is up, I know I have a lot more work ahead, researching how to sell things, tap into markets, etc. But it’s all part of the process and the bigger plan: getting better and maybe become a children’s book illustrator.

To choose 10 prints (Etsy’s recommended shop opening volume), I had my husband help me – an eye that is “removed from the situation” that could look at my stuff more from a market point of view and tell me what he saw. What would people actually buy and why? Just because something may look cool doesn’t mean you can sell it. (I do think there is an important place for that work though, which I’ll get to later.)

What we came up with is pretty simple: I draw stuff for kids. However, my husband had a better, sexier way of putting it: “Children’s art for the discerning adult.” We started by just looking at my website, going through all the categories I have there and writing down things that looked like something someone might buy. And then after thinking about the importance of having a “look” or category to be in, we weeded out some of the drawings. What was left was animals and monsters.

CreativeSmith: a shop specializing in colorful ink drawings of animals and monsters doing the unexpected. Or something like that.

I was somewhat dumbfounded. That isn’t the kind of art that I drool over online. It’s not the kind of art that I follow from artists on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. Turns out my inspirations are just that – inspirations from other types of art, that I’m not directly creating myself, but am highly influenced by somehow. Interesting.

It was a great exercise, and I now feel a little more prepared to start the shop with something, and then build it on that foundation. Product: children’s art. Market: Parents buying products for their children’s life. It’s a start anyway.

I have other ideas that I want to get in to, eventually, as I continue to carve out illustration in my day, and practice and create more. And the work that looks cool but isn’t “sellable”? Well that will be how I have the most fun with all of this: interacting with people, showing flexibility and variety in my portfolio, and exploring styles and mediums.

Here is a snapshot of the first ideas I have for the chosen pieces. They all need some production and color work before I make prints. I guess I’ll start getting busy.110316_firstshopideas

 

I draw a lot of elephants, apparently. Also, I really enjoy drawing monsters, so I hope I can make that sell.

And now, I leave you with a picture from a 30 minute sketching session I did yesterday on mimes. They creep me out, but everyone on facebook really seemed to like these guys! I bet the limited color helps.

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