Archive for February, 2017

A Night at DUNE

DUNE is a local group of indie cartoonists and illustrators who gather at Cafe Racer every third Tuesday where over the evening everybody does a page of art then you put down three dollars and it gets printed in the group’s monthly zine.

I try to go there at least every other month (for reasons I do not understand, third Tuesday is the most popular day in the month for organizers. The reason I don’t go as often as I’d like is I have a  is on the same third Tuesday I have a choice between DUNE, a WordPress users group and a Photoshop users group at the Adobe Campus.

So it’s a great opportunity to hang with colleagues as well as challenge yourself by conceiving and executing a full page of fully inked art in under three hours. (to keep things interesting I prefer to limit myself to using a ten point marker) I find it’s the conception part that’s the most challenging part. No matter how many times I remind myself I should, I rarely go in with an idea. (or at least a good one)  So I find myself spending the first hour desperately brainstorming, doodling page compositions, pouring through notes desperately trying to think of something. Partly because of this I find myself doing full page illustrations as I am to do a comic page.

Last time was no exception. I ended up recycling a picture of some trees from a series of thumbnails I’d done as a speed exercise. To make things interesting I made it the scene for a Fairy Ball. At the time I wasn’t completely happy with it. I had blocked out the pencils a little too quickly so I ended up inking a lot of the figures in the crowd freehand and even though these were minor details in the big picture, I walked away from it mostly unsatisfied, thinking it was sloppy. (one of those Artists can’t like their own work because they’ve been looking at it for too long things.) I was genuinely surprise when it got some of my best numbers on Instagram at the time.

So, having just got it back at last night’s Dune I thought I’d share. Can’t wait to show the one I did last night, it Rocked!

A Fairy Ball From DUNE

My Second Column For Cartoonists Northwest – Where Do You Get Your Ideas

Cartoonists Northwest logoOne of the most frequent questions any creator, whether writer, artist, or cartoonist, is where do you get your ideas. Many creators, unsurprisingly, give many different answers.

Some creators respond philosophically or with profound insight, or maybe even with something about tapping into the creative flow. The rest of us tend to be a bit more snarky when we answer this question. We might say the ideas come from someplace (Albuquerque), or respond with a pithy statement that we hope is witty (my favorite is “a bottle of Jack Daniels and a very cruel god”)

But ultimately the come to the biggest secret among creatives: we really don’t know.

We do what we can to contact the muse (sometimes literally; hoping for a placebo effect I’ve considered making a small shrine more then once). Sometimes these techniques even work, but this leads to a secret we might acknowledge to nearly everyone.

We really don’t have the time.

Seeking inspiration is great, but we have deadlines and we need to come up with ideas as fast as possible – if the idea doesn’t come to you have to find a way to go get one (or, in this modern age, find it on the internet).

Ultimately getting ideas is a discipline, and just like any other discipline it gets easier with repetition…just like doing pushups, or jogging. Maintaining the analogy, there are a lot of exercises you can do to get your creativity working for you. One approach for a cartoonist is a sketch challenge (such as “Inktober”). The format is to do one drawing a day, usually based on a theme, for a week or a month (though I have benefited from a two month focus on Mother Goose). One trick for making this work for you is to make them as random as possible, perhaps literally picking an idea from a hat (dice can be used too). This way you don’t know in advance what you have to draw and “communing with the muse” or waiting for inspiration isn’t going to help you. It may feel like an uphill climb, but it works.

There are lots of other exercises and games that you can try to help with ‘creativity when you need it’, and I’m happy to announce we’re going to be trying out a lot of them at our February meeting.

Can’t wait to see you all there!

Happy Darwin Lincoln Day!

Wpmorse Charles Darwin Abraham LincolnI Can’t believe I had to be reminded of this but a very happy birthday to Charles Darwin and Abraham Lincoln! While the two never met I still like to pretend that they would have enjoyed each other’s company over drinks as this picture implies.