Tag Archives: digital

New Artist Showcase: Alexa Macfarlane

Alexa Macfarlane

Blog: www.alexaillustration.blogspot.com

What projects are you working on lately? Anything you’re particularly excited about?

Currently, I’m working on writing and illustrating a children’s book about a brother, sister, and a fortune cookie. I won’t tell you what happens though… you’ll have to wait to read it! I’m also working on some oil paintings which I’m very excited about, and a handful of other little craftsy projects like textile designs, glassware/dinnerware designs, and some digital illustrations. I’m also in the process of getting a website up and running, but for the meantime have been using my blog to showcase recent work. I’ve ALWAYS loved art–at least for as long as I can remember–and am so excited to graduate from Pratt in the spring to start life in “the real world” as an artist.

How has your art evolved in the past year? Have you discovered anything new about yourself as an illustrator?

In the past year I’ve realized my passion for children’s books even more. I’m having a lot of fun writing and illustrating new stories. I’ve always had a love for illustration that intertwines with graphic design, like the prints and patterns on clothing and home goods, and am finally discovering how to incorporate that into my work. I would love to design for a company like Anthropologie. I am also completely obsessed with buying items of this sort! This past year has been a period of discovery and development for me; I feel that I’ve finally found my niche (what I enjoy doing, although of course I’m open to the changes/growth that will come in the future) in illustration.

What is your creative process like? What do you do to keep new ideas flowing, especially under stress?

I find that I get inspired most by reading books, listening to music, and looking at artwork. I think that always surrounding yourself in art, no matter what form, will keep the creative process flowing. When I’m stuck on an idea or can’t quite figure it out, I take a break and do something that is not related to what I was working on at all. Some of the best ideas come when you’re lying in bed or in the shower—when your mind has time to think freely or when you think you aren’t thinking about your art at all!

As a student leader, what advice would you give to incoming freshmen or young people pursuing illustration?

As a student leader, I would encourage young people pursuing illustration to draw, draw, draw. And then draw some more (and keep these drawings compiled in your sketchbook so you don’t lose them). As a young person, it’s easy to get off track with so many responsibilities, decisions to be made, and while living a new lifestyle, but remember to stay focused and on top of your work. As I said above, I’d highly recommend that young artists go to as many gallery openings, exhibitions, and shows as they can and keep themselves surrounded in art, especially if you live in NYC–we have SO many opportunities here and we should use them. But most importantly, have fun! You should be doing art/illustration because you love it… and if you made some money off of loving it that would be great too.

You’re about to graduate from Pratt this May. What would be your dream first year, career-wise?

I would love to have a children’s book published!! My dream first year would be to get a book deal, stay in NYC, freelance, and/or even work as a designer at a publisher or at a company for textiles, product design/illustrations for home goods, or a magazine. Basically, I’d be happy working in any of those areas and am open to many more. My number one goal is just to be able to support myself with my artwork and to have fun with what I’m doing.


New Artist Showcase: Dan Masso

Dan Masso

website: http://www.danmasso.com

twitter: http://twitter.com/danmasso

How did you get into illustrating trading cards? What makes that kind of illustration unique?

Well the story of me and trading cards goes back to Senior Project class with Rudy Gutierrez. I was having trouble figuring out what else I could do with my career other than comics when one day Rudy brought in a few former students of his to talk to us in class. One of those former students was Doug Cowan. Doug spoke about his work doing trading cards at Topps and showed us the huge amount of cards he’d done. I really liked his work and saw it as an inspiration to follow that same path. I managed to get the attention of the licensing art director at Topps with a postcard and he put me on a Star Wars set right away. That was my first real professional job as a freelancer.

Trading cards are interesting because size is something that really has to be taken into consideration. The majority of trading card art I’ve done so far is on sketch cards which are basically trading card sized pieces of bristol paper that you draw directly onto. Each artist usually does around 100 of them to be randomly inserted into sets as incentive for collectors to get an original piece of art. Drawing in a small surface like that is very different and leaves a lot of room for experimentation. Other than those there are the printed trading cards which I usually do at a size of about 11×14. These obviously get shrunk down so it’s important to not get so detailed so you don’t lose it all in reduction.

What other freelance projects have you been working on?

Other than the Star Wars cards and Legend of the Five Rings trading card game I’ve been working on numerous comic projects, none of which have actually been released into the general public yet but hopefully sometime soon. I also just finished a project with Diversion, Inc. for a Facebook game called FameTown. I did an illustration for the game that shows up on the loading screen.

What kind of stories do you like to illustrate? Where do you get your ideas for comics?

I’ve found that I really like to draw fantastical things in a modern setting. While doing fantasy art for Legend of the Five Rings I realize that I start to miss adding those modern elements that help me bring myself into that world. I also like to draw woman and sometimes wish that I could have been born in a different time and been a contemporary to the classic pinup artists.

I think the majority of my ideas for comics from movies TV and other comics. I would be a liar if I didn’t admit that some of my biggest influences are Lost, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Marvel Comics.

What are some of your favorite comic books/artists?

All the work I’ve been doing recently has really helped realize which are my favorite comic books because they’re the only ones I actually take the time to read anymore. Those are Ultimate Spider-man (modern reinterpretation of a very 60’s hero), Runaways (teen superhero team who’s war cry is “Try not to die!”) and 20th Century Boys (the only manga I read).

I have a huge amount of artists that I look up to and they’re always moving around in my scale of awesomeness. My favorite artists right now I’d say are Dan Dos Santos, Jon Foster, Joshua Middleton and Nathan Fox.

I love Dan Dos Santos because he can create such crisp saturated images that still look real. His images glow so much you wouldn’t believe they’re all done in oil!

Jon Foster has an amazing fluidity in his work. Something that I’m trying really hard to incorporate into my work.

Joshua Middleton is one of those rare examples of a comic book artist that does all the work himself. That is, he draws, inks and colors the art. He’s the guy that really made me want to take on all the art chores in my comic work.

I envy Nathan Fox because he made his name in editorial illustration and then decided that he was going to go into comic and BAM! there he is. He’s one of the artists that influenced me to start inking my lines with a brush.

You’ve been freelancing for a year and half now. If you could go back in time to when you graduated art school, what would you tell yourself?

If I were to go back and talk to myself after graduation, I’d say to myself “You’re not as good as you think you are. Sit down and start pumping out new portfolio pieces right away and don’t stop. You’ve got a long way to go.” I still have a long way to go. The one lesson that I’ve learned in the past year and half is that everything takes a lot more time than you first think. It’s a very competitive market and it might take a long time before people will start to notice you.

Baby Rhino Sketch!

The first prototype for the main character of a new picture book I’m starting.  Except maybe with smaller ears?

He’ll be watercolor eventually but for now I’m enjoying playing around with digital for color sketches (it gives me an excuse to improve my tablet/Photoshop skills!).

It’s A Book (and Also Something Else…)

image source

Behind the boom of new technology and the digital e-book revolution, there is a lingering panicky mantra among longtime book lovers that goes, But what about my pretty hardcovers?? And although I’m excited about the possibilities that the future holds, I’m right there with them – it makes me instinctively sick to think of a world where ITunes replaces bookstores and children grow up staring at screens. Those who agree will argue that there is something wonderfully tactile about the physical book: the cover design, flipping the pages, and oh, that smell… some things are just irreplacable.

But now that more and more readers are in favor of Kindles and IPads over stuffed bookshelves, what’s to become of the precious physical books?  Well, these designers have found some pretty creative ways to celebrate the spirit of the book as an object – by finding a different use for it.

1. The Shelf

What better way to display books than on a shelf of MORE books? Like the designers of this inventive shelf, I totally feel the pangs of abandonment when I see books thrown out instead of “repurposed” in some way.  Plus, this feeds right into my instinct to hoard books… long after I’ve read or have space for them.

2. The Laptop Case

Technology and traditional materials finally go hand-in-hand with these leather laptop cases, appropriately named the BookBook.  For only $80-100, you can swath your MacBook Pro in a hand-crafted faux hardback book.  So not only do you seem really intelligent to that cutie in the coffee shop, but no one has to know that you’re researching your paper on Google instead of at the library.  Go you.

3. The Camera

Pinhole cameras were always a fun experimental diversion in high school photo class, but these made of books, by Erin Paysse at Engrained Works, take the process to a whole new level beyond the average coffee can.  The pinholes even take and advance a roll of 35 mm film, just like a real camera… but so much classier!   I just can’t get over how gorgeous these are.

4. The Flower Pot

Ah, the age-old trick of digging out the inside of a book, the perfect disguise to hide away small treasures and secrets.  This time, though, the “secret treasure”, in the form of potted flowers, seems to announce itself proudly, unable to be contained, by popping out of pages in which it grows.  If only I was the gardening type… or lived in Japan.

5. The Tee

My knowledge of American literature is woefully tiny (thanks, public high school with no AP English), and I can’t be bothered to pick up such classics as Of Mice And Men and Moby Dick now when there are just SO many more fun books out there to read.  Still, I’d sport one of these fab t-shirts from Out Of Print (well, except for the Catcher In The Rye one), since they celebrate iconic book covers and even donate books to Books For Africa for every tee they sell.  Who says book nerds can’t be fashion-forward?

Last Video Half-Day Friday: It’s A Book!

In celebration of the final half-day Friday of the summer, I should be doing – and posting – all sorts of sunny, outdoorsy activities/videos.  But the impending hurricane vibe that’s taking over New York today has got me cancelling plans and just wanting to curl up with a good book instead.

So today, if you haven’t already heard all about Lane Smith’s newest masterpiece, watch the trailer for “It’s A Book!” (and check out an interview here).  I’ve been crazy excited about this title a lot longer than is appropriate for a new picture book, and it only increases my awe that Smith remains relevant, innovative and, as always, wacky over two decades of best-selling books.

Plus, as someone who has been spending more time on social media than at the painting desk, this book resonates – but in a light-hearted way.  I find it especially ironic that “It’s A Book!” is being promoted virally . . . wouldn’t it be hilarious if there was an app for that?

On a further digital note: I’ve been redesigning my web content this week . . . stay tuned for the launching of AnnieBethEricsson.com awesome-ness!

End Of Summertime

Soak it up, kids… fall is just around the corner.

Piggie at Coney Island, ©2010 Annie Beth Ericsson, digital color and pencil