What's your illustration process?

The process has changed over the years and I've had to switch it up in light of the economy, living conditions, and changes in the illustration business. That is to say, I now do most of my work in the digital realm. I'll usually start a project with a few thumbnail sketches in pencil, a value rough, a color rough, and a final draft, allowing for revisions as needed. A lot of my work is very comics influenced and my process is similar; when I get to the final draft I go over my pencil drawings, sometimes adding in inks or darker pencil tones. Afterwards I take them into Photoshop for color or any other corrections to the original drawing. I'm a huge proponent of the idea that Photoshop is just another tool in the artist's toolbox, no different from a paintbrush, or an easel. But there is something to be said about the human touch; that is why I like to let my pencils show through here and there. Occasionally my illustrations might approach a tightly rendered style but not usually. For projects calling for a highly polished finish, I'll use acrylics or gouache before touching them up in Photoshop.

What's your design process?

For logos, I start with a thorough understanding of the company's "personality"; its style, image, and practical needs. In essence I try to personify a company. After a creative brief is discussed I create roughly 15 thumbnail sketches out of which I will refine three ideas, then further refine that down to one. I submit a mock up of the logo for approval and barring further revisions, submit a final in an outlined .ai format and hi-res JPEG.

Do you do stock illustration, spec work, logo contests, or work-for-hire?

With regard to illustration and design, I don't usually do spec work - UNLESS it's for a good cause! Spec is the practice of working for free with the promise of future work that may never come - or even worse, for "exposure" that never pays off (ask the illustrator behind the famous Dreamworks Logo how many calls he's gotten based on the exposure from that job). Commercial art and design is not a hobby; it's a business like any other. Spec devalues the profession and the professional. Same goes for so-called "logo contests" - where the designer puts in weeks worth of work within a ridiculously short amount of time for absolutely no pay and without regard for the time invested. I will, however, often make exceptions for causes I believe in. Visit no-spec.com for more info.

As an illustrator I have witnessed firsthand the damage that stock illustration can have on the industry. You make a few quick bucks up front but end up competing with yourself in the end. So aside from not being a smart business practice, it also makes for bad illustration; the beauty of illustration is the fact that it is unique and tailor made to the subject at hand. At its best, illustration is fresh and relevant. Stock by design has to be as bland and as broad as possible so it can be used for a variety of subjects. The greatest stock illustration in the world can't hold a candle to the most crudely rendered, but brilliant and original concept.

And finally, "Work-for-Hire" is a nasty piece of legalese that effectively strips illustrators of the right to make a living off their work. An artist literally signs away all rights to his creations only to see them used multiple times across several media without permission or compensation. Its use is sometimes inevitable, but widely abused. According to the law, a work-for-hire clause can only be enforced if the artist signs an agreement explicity stating that the work is for hire, and only if meets one of the following criteria:

  1. A contribution to a collective work (such as a magazine, newspaper, encyclopedia, or anthology).
  2. A contribution used as part of a motion picture or other audiovisual work.
  3. A supplementary work, which includes pictorial illustrations, maps, and charts, done to supplement a work by another author.
  4. A compilation (new arrancement of preexisting works or data).
  5. A translation
  6. An atlas.
  7. A test.
  8. Answer material for a test.
  9. An instructionan text (defined as a literary, pictorial, or graphic work prepared for publication and with the purpose of use in systematic instructional activities).
All other use of the work-for-hire clause is technically illegal.

What about Pro Bono work?

Sometime's I offer my services to charities or other worthy causes for free or for a reduced fee if my schedule permits. I usually take on these kinds of jobs with the only trade-off being more creative control, relaxed time restrictions, and full ownership of all work produced. If you need an illustration or a design for free let me know and I'll try my best to accomodate you.

Do you write professionally?

Actually nobody's asked me this yet but I felt it should be addressed - I've included a writing section to my site simply as a personal exercise to vent and develop my writing skills. But mostly to vent. If you've seen even a few of my blogs you'd probably think of me as a clinically deranged sociopath. That may in fact be true and I strongly advise sensitive, politically correct types to avert their gaze. But writing keeps the lunatic in check so he doesn't embarrass me out in public. I know just enought about writing to know that if you want to do it professionally it shouldn't be a form of catharsis. But I do plan on using the writing section to post exerpts from comic book projects, short stories, poems, raps, and maybe even a screenplay. But most of my writing will be blogs about politics, life, and anything else I feel like writing about.