Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Good Reviews for "Skeleton For Dinner!"

Just got a few good reviews from Kirkus and Publisher's Weekly!...it's always tense waiting to see if they'll like it or trash it. This book is due to hit the stores in September - can't wait!

Mother and daughter witch want to have skeleton for dinner. Is he on the menu or intended to be a guest?

Big Witch and Little Witch are proud of their yummy stew full of delightfully disgusting ingredients, such as “shark fins and snake skins, spider silk and centaur’s milk, catfish whiskers and banshee blisters.” Little Witch makes a list of the friends she wants to invite for dinner. She writes “Dinner” at the top, with Ghost, Ghoul and Skeleton below it and tacks it to a tree. When Skeleton reads it, he flies into a panic. Veteran Cuyler keeps the text flowing and sets a just-right pace for reading aloud. Poor Skeleton “rat-a-bat-tat[s] down the hill… / and jingle-jangle[s]” off to warn first Ghost and then Ghoul about what he fears the witches are planning. Terry chooses deep blue-greens and dark craggy trees to create the nightscape. Skeleton’s cool white and Ghost’s translucent wash of white makes them glow on the page, whereas the warmer tones used for Ghoul and the bright green of Little Witch provide refreshing contrast. When Little Witch fails to find her friends to tell them about the dinner party, her despair sends Crow flying to the rescue.

A poison-ivy bouquet, full bowls of stew and happy friends bring the story to a satisfying close. Make sure to tuck in to this delicious tale. (Picture book. 3-6)

Publisher's Weekly:
Bathed in a spooky graveyard glow, Big Witch and Little Witch brew a stew and prepare a list of the guests to invite for dinner. What follows is a kind of Halloween version of Chicken Little, as timid Skeleton misunderstands, believing he’s an ingredient, not a guest. He dashes off to warn two friends—Ghost, a wispy girl, and Ghoul, who resembles Quasimodo. It’s a familiar joke, but Terry’s illustrations give the cast of characters distinctive looks and personalities (they almost resemble rubbery toys). Despite the threat of death by cauldron, neither contributor lets things get too frightening as the story works its way to a happy ending for all. Ages 3–5. Author’s agent: Tracey Adams, Adams Literary. (Oct.)
Reviewed on 07/19/2013 | Details & Permalink <http://www.publishersweekly.com/978-0-8075-7398-3>

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Don't Let Them Define Your Success!

Too often I hear up and coming illustrators, animators, and comic book artists say, "Hopefully I can make it someday and get freelance work." This is a self defeating way of thinking...if you never get hired does that mean you didn't make it? Is there a such thing as all or nothing as an artist? Is this easy for me to say because I make a living with my art?

I don't think so because I remember those very discouraging times when I wasn't getting work. But more importantly I would be creating art even if I wasn't getting hired to complete freelance assignments. I don't create for my clients - I create for myself. My publishers get to publish my work. I own it and stand behind it and even though I work closely with them they don't own it - I do. I take responsibility for the quality of my work and place a higher standard for myself than my clients demand - therefore - it's mine.

The problem with thinking that assignments equal success is that you let forces outside of your control define your value. It's a dangerous game to play because at what point to you throw in the towel and say, "well, time to quit - nobody hired me." Success can be defined in many ways and I understand the need to generate income with your craft. I think it's important to remember that some artists start earning a decent income within a year after school. Some might take 1-5 years. Some much longer.

I once had a student who stated, "I need to start earning money with illustration right after graduation." I didn't know quite how to answer that and I failed to give a good answer at the time. What I would say today is this: "So, what if you don't? does that mean the past four years was a waste of time? What if you could see the future and you are able to generate more money than you could imagine but it takes you 10 years to get to that point - is that worth it? Do you have the commitment to make it through the 10 years of below expected income levels? What if your experience was like my friend who struggled for 4-5 years after school and then was asked to illustrate: "A Series of Unfortunate Events"? Would that be worth it?

The tendency is to want the rewards with little sacrifice. If you really truly want it you will have to dedicate your life to it - this is good news for most because you're in control of it! You have many years ahead of you of hard work! Embrace it. Fall in love with it. Cherish the time you have with your craft.

If being successful means being chosen to work for someone else - you might be disappointed if your work is easily good enough but you aren't being seen by the right clients.

If being successful means earning enough money to pay your bills - you might be judging your potential before your work is marketable.

If being successful means winning awards - you might be creating art that is unappreciated by the trend police.

If being successful means selling a certain quantity - you might be disappointed if the right audience never sees your product.

The previous is inspired by Seth Godin who says we're now living in a time where you can't afford to wait for someone to pick you - rather you must pick yourself.

Nobody hired me to make ebooks but I picked myself and published them.

Nobody hired me to make video tutorials and online classes but I picked myself and created them.

Nobody hired me to run my youtube channel but I picked myself and publish videos every month.

Nobody hired me to write this blog but I picked myself and now I have a place to share my ideas.

If you set attainable goals you can be successful every day, month, and year. It starts with a commitment to excellence and improvement. It ends when you die. I can promise you that I will be creating art until that day. I don't work -I create. I live and breathe knowing that I have much more to give. I am successful because what I create makes me happy.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

How Many Sketches Should You Send In?

Back in my editorial days I was always coached to send in multiple sketches and ideas for the art director to choose from. Now that I'm a children's book illustrator I've come to realize that sending in multiple sketches for one page is not often the best policy. The reason: I always like one better than the other(s) and often the editor or art director will pick the one I like the least. Then it's a let down having to paint an image I'm not as happy with.

I just created the image above for a new book I'm working on "There Once Was a Cowpoke who swallowed an ant" by Helen Ketteman (Albert Whitman). My working process is to send in rough sketches for the direction I'm thinking of. Then I get feedback from the art director and editor. My goal is to make myself happy and then see if the team likes it. If they do then I move to a final drawing refining details and making any alterations asked for by the team.

 Sometimes they don't like the direction at all and ask for a new idea -offering their suggestions. I love working this way. I've taken the time to explore many thumbnail sketches and ideas and I don't want to share my rejected ideas just to offer more choice. Sometimes more choice just offers more confusion. Ever tried to order at restaurant with 100 menu items? You feel overwhelmed and start to think you're going to miss something really good - so you spend more time reading the menu rather than visiting with the people you went to have a meal with.

I'm a big believer in working hard to develop a sketch you can't wait to paint and then working with it until you and your team come to a consensus. I've taken the time to do a lot of editing in my development process and I choose NOT to share that with the creative team at the publisher.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Do I Need A Rep To Sell My Work?

I was asked a series of very thought provoking questions from a fellow illustrator about reps and selling work online. I realize I start to ramble a bit but I hope I answered your questions in a way that helps. Tune in while you work and it might help you too...

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Advice For illustrators

I went through all the great questions that were posted about a week ago (a few posts back) and in this video I answer as best I can. Thank you for your great questions.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Updates On Our SVS Classes

Just a few updates on our classes:

1) Illustration for Storytellers will only be available for a few more days. Wednesday July 10th will be the last day you can purchase the LITE version of the class. After that you will have to wait until we run it again. We hope to offer this class again in the fall - hopefully in October be we haven't finalized the date yet. Here are all of the details on this class.

2) The Critique Class (companion to illustration for storytellers) is LIVE right now. The class is about half full already. This class was designed for the people who couldn't get into the COMPLETE live class. The requirement however is that you first take the LITE version of illustration for storytellers. This is so that we can work from a common language and understanding when we are critiquing your illustrations in class. Here are the details for this class.

3) We are planning to announce a comics class by Jake Parker and a one day photoshop workshop - probably 6 hours of intensive ramp up to getting you working digitally taught by me.

See what people are saying about our class!