April 30, 2011

Pieces from the week

  The Robins at Boston ComiCon
Hey friends, hope you are enjoying the weekend!

Here in MA it's a balmy 67 and sunny.  And naturally, I'm sick.  But these antibiotics are magic and they kicked in just in time for us to hit the Boston Comic Con and meet some of my artistic heroes.

It's been pretty busy lately.  Andy and I taught a comic art workshop in Manchester-by-the-Sea, ate at the most fabulous American bistro ever - Cala's - which I hiiiiighly recommend you check out - then taught another workshop in Boston, I finished up a few commissioned art pieces and finished the script for the second installment of Frankenstein, went to southern Connecticut to say hello to my grandparents, and had a lovely Easter dinner with Alison and old reruns of News Radio.

special thank you to 
for inviting me to speak at their  
National Art Honor Society induction ceremony 
and presenting me with a gorgeous bouquet and plaque.

The talk mostly included pieces from my Motivation series.  [PART I]  [PART II]
Talking about my own failures/successes always gets me revved up for another year of this fantastic risk that is freelance art.   Let's DO this thing!

the simple pleasures of life

Manchester-by-the-Sea township

April 27, 2011

Cherry blossoms 桜が咲く始めた

Hey friends,

Sorry no artwork today, I've been awfully sick this week and haven't had a moment to scan some new sketches.

But my friend Mayako let me post these wonderful pictures she sent of her neighborhood. Full on cherry blossoms! In my neck of the woods, we have mostly daffodils - pictures on those soon, but someday I hope we can get back to Japan during the peak of the blossom season!

 color retouching by myself, photos by maya-chan
♫ Here is some more music to draw to!  A more chill mix, I think ...

April 23, 2011

Music to Draw to - Digital Mix Tape 1

Hey friends - made you a mix-tape!  Yay! 

Usually we ask people "What kind of music do you listen to?" and everyone - everyone - can rattle off about 8 or 9 names off the top of their head.

Someday I hope when we ask "What kind of art/artists do you like?" most people will have the same response.

Like in the movie High-Fidelity, John Cusack says making a mix is an art form. So I'll be making more in a series of mixes - to suit different moods n' such.

Mix-Tape 1 : The Rough Cut Sound


  1. The Way We Get By - Spoon
  2. Ain't No Rest for the Wicked - Cage the Elephant
  3. Left Hand Suzuki Method - Gorillaz
  4. Sugar Water- Cibo Matto
  5. Two More Dead - RJD2
  6. God's Gonna Cut You Down - Johnny Cash
  7. My Doorbell - The White Stripes
  8. He Can Only Hold Her - Amy Winehouse 

FUN FACT  if you tell me you dislike the Beatles - that you can't find a SINGLE Beatles song you like, I'm sorry, we're not gonna be friends. [I've tried this method with all types of relationships and it is pretty much the deal breaker.] You may wonder, 'Who wouldn't?' but in college I met 3 people who didn't like the Beatles. *LE GASP*

April 20, 2011

Your Cultural Life

So lately I'm really obsessed with EnglandBBC shows like The Old Guys, Vicar of Dibley, Sherlock, scones with clotted cream (Lindsay when are we having high tea??) mod style, NARS cosmetics (that would be "Barbarella" there on the left) ADELE, Massive Attack, and most recently Harper's Bazaar.

They had a great interview with Benedict Cumberbatch (whose features I am mining with great relish for Victor Frankenstein drawing reference.)  They fired a series of questions at him that are seriously great food for thought.

Here they are, feel free to leave any answers that strike you.  My own are in gray.
  1. Your favorite cliche? 'tomorrow's another day'
  2. Any passages known by heart? 'the walrus and the carpenter' + most of 'ferris beuller's day off'
  3. Guilty pleasure? peanutbutter fluff sandwiches
  4. First record you bought no doubt's first album
  5. The book that changed your life? of mice and men by steinbeck
  6. Favorite film? metropolis
  7. Favorite villain? satan from 'paradise lost'
  8. Who would you like to play you in a movie? rita hayworth (dead) aoi yuu (living)
  9. Favorite hour of the day? early dawn
  10. Do you have any irrational fears? heavy things falling on me
  11. Recurring dreams? trying to walk on water but continuously drowning
  12. What's worth fighting for? truth, love and justice
  13. What's your signature dance? balanchine would roll over in his grave
  14. Money or sex? sex
  15. Apollo or Dyonisis? dyonisis
  16. Good cop or bad cop? bad cop
  17. Dylan or Hendrix? hendrix 
  18. Lennon or McCartney?  lennon
  19. James Dean or James Stewart? both
  20. Optimist or pessimist? optimist
  21. Minimalist or maximist? minimalist
  22. Grace Kelly or Grace Jones? kelly -pssh of course
  23. What's your fancy dress? london mod

Drove 400 miles this weekend, up at 6AM going out to the further reaches of Massachusetts to see the second version of Danny Boyle's Frankenstein with my sister. Then back to her campus to catch her Shakespeare club perform Taming of the Shrew, and then finally home again around 1:30AM.

After getting whacked with some serious car rental fees for driving over allowable miles, insurance issues yadayada - and then driving home in torrential down pours in thick cotton candy fog - well, I was cranky this weekend.  But seeing my youngest sister is always fun since she is a cheerful rainbow 24/7.

Some snaps from that Saturday...

April 17, 2011

Newbury St + Strawberry Sweets

Been cooking/preparing food/not-eating-from-a-can again!  RESULTS //

Made some mahi mahi with strawberry lime juice.  Tart but good!  Next time I think we'll throw some mango bits in there.

Not really feeling so hot these days.  I think it has to do with being caught in the rain last night.  But more on my weekend from Hell later.  (*shudder*)

Some cellphone pictures from last Tuesday, kicking around Boston by my lonesome. 

 at Madewell

 at Trident Cafe on Newbury St.
Elaine's dinner party was the bee's knees

April 13, 2011

Motivation Part II: What Keeps You Going

Well, thanks so much for the great response to Part I of this off-the-cuff pep talk!  So let's say you have triumph-of-the-will and have successfully gotten over any issues of jealousy, fear, creative sloth or otherwise.  Now what? 
You keep your metaphorical Aston Marten in high gear, that's what!  
It's going to need maintenance, so here's some food for thought :

Some people are born with it, some people are nurtured in to it, and some people struggle with it forever.  No matter what, you can get it.  I think it's easy to assume if you act confident, you will come off as arrogantBut that doesn't have to be the case. 

Arrogance is thinking you know everything.  Confidence is being secure in the fact that you know something.

When Luciano Pavarotti, arguably history's greatest tenor, fired his voice coaching staff because he felt they were superfluous, his ability almost immediately plummeted.  Aaaaand he hired them back.  If you accept the fact that you will constantly be learning stuff, your confidence won't be confused with arrogance.  Whatever you master, you will still be a student in something else.  But isn't that an exciting prospectThere is so much to know!  So little time!  Ah the tragedy and joy of living!

So be proud of what you've accomplished, and be psyched about where you can go!

"Boys, be ambitious!" as William S. Clark once said. Or "Damn the torpedoes, full steam ahead!" as yelled by Col. Farragaut - whichever you fancy.  Set a goal and fill your life with ways to move you towards it.  Filmmaker Chris Marker and his production team went to the 10:30AM showing of "An American in Paris" e v e r y   s i n g l e   m o r n i n g  until the film's completion because it specifically kept him motivated on that project.  Don't let your inspirations fizzle out, even if you are having an off day.

When Paramount Pictures told Ed Wood that his movies "are the most horrendous, obnoxious practical-jokes of film-making" he said "Okay, my next one will be better."

Right the eff ON.

When you tie your work to your emotions, it's easy to get hurt.  Growing up - especially in my angsty teen years - I felt that art was solely an expression of myself.  That it was all about "letting people see my feelings."  Well, that's kind of sillyOf course art is a fabulous outlet for such things.  Art therapy is in my mind, one of the most excellent resources for anyone.

Art is my passion.  However, illustration is my business.

I said in the previous section that at the top there is a lot of responsibility.  You have to step up and meet it head on.  Be on time, be professional, be kind, and above all, don't worry if you get passed over for a gig.  If you are good to work with your reputation will build on it's own - no need to fret about it.

If an art director chooses someone else for an art job - it's okay - it's like choosing a different album in your collection.  They just feel like listening to Hendrix today instead of Bo Diddly. 

Stop one mid-sentence - even in your mind.  Excuses start you on the road back to your old nonsense (like fear of success.)

In my painting classes at the Museum, I drill into my students that they are never ever never ever ever allowed to say "I suck at (insert here)". If you say it enough, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy....

At my first interview, I was about 19/20, showing my portfolio to an assistant at the Boston Globe.  I apologized for everything! "Sorry, this isn't that great...","I could do better on that one..." et cetera...
Visibly irritated, he shut my book, slid it back to me and said, "Maybe you should come back when you're ready."

I almost peed myself.

Those words changed my life.  He was so right.

 Put in everything you got, accept critiques of your work, and knock their socks off next time around.

So I hope this has been beneficial!   Thanks for reading, guys!

April 11, 2011

Motivation Part 1 : What Holds You Back

Hey friends,

So I am giving a lecture towards the end of April about art and being an artist to a group of high school students, and I realized that I have given this kind of lecture many times, I should write it down here in case any one else could use it.

I love my students at the Worcester Art Museum - I teach art school portfolio preparation and advanced painting + drawing, and have, along the way, given them lots and lots of advice, that could really apply to more than just artists.

is a fear of failure.  Stop thinking about your problems and get to work.
I used to be terrified of calling art directors. I was afraid to charge a lot for my work because I didn't feel it was good enough.  I would endlessly tweak my website and promo materials before ever sending it out to people - for fear it wasn't ready.

I was really scared of rejection.  Of not being accepted by my peers in the illustration business.  Brick by brick I was building a wall in front of myself of self-doubt.  Nobody else did it - I did.

So one day while drinking peppermint tea I thought "Wait a second - who cares!  I'm wasting precious time!"

We're afraid to succeed because we know at the top there is lots of responsibility and there are hatersOh haters gonna hate.  They could say your art looks like someone else, or you are contrived, or you aren't doing anything special - blah blahIs that seriously the worst thing that could ever happen to you?


Will the police come to your door and say "Mrs. Veronica Fish, we are here to arrest you because everyone hates your work so you have to go to jail now." 

Of course not.

So what's the worst that could actually happen?  Some dude leaves a negative comment.  Whatever.  You are stronger than that.

Knock it off.  Right now.  SeriouslyJealousy is insanely pointless.  It accomplishes nothing, except to drag you down and make you look bad, and the worst part: you do it to yourself - for no reason.  Some people have been at it longer than you, some people have good connections - either way, it doesn't matter.  They are just people, doing their thing, getting by like the rest of us.  Just do your thing, the best you can.

Be a hunter-gatherer.  There is so much to be inspired by, if you have exhausted your usual haunts explore a new place.  Find a new museum, pick up a random book at the library, ask your friends for suggestions, even watch movies with fresh visual styles - anything that plants a seed of a new idea in your brain.  Doodle ALL. THE. TIME.  Get a tiny sketchbook and doodle stuff in it all day.  Even if it's the ugliest thing you've ever drawn, it doesn't matter - just keep your hand and brain working together.

Slay it like a dragon.  Swear off Facebook for a solid week and actually stick to it, have a friend take away your tech-toys, cancel extraneous internet accounts.  Paul Pope once told my illustration class in college that he works 3 solid days of every week with no phone, TV or internet, and gets a tremendous amount of work done. That's a great strategy!  Remember : your work deserves your full attention.

FACT : You are awesome!

April 8, 2011

What I Wore - Winter 2011

Hey friends,

Here is a compilation of little sketches I kept this winter - most of what I wore for Winter 2011.

Definitely looking forward to spring, although these days the morning is so cold and the afternoon is so hot, my sinuses are all kinds of crazy.

Right now I'm working on some great projects for some really great clients, so more on that soon!  Here are some cell pictures of Brookline, MA from this week, when we went downtown to see Frankenstein at Coolidge Corner, grab some amazing sandwiches at Zaftig's, and kick around Brookline Booksmith before showtime!

 Ahh, spring...