Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Ernie Zelinski, proponent of the good life and wearer of many t-shirts

This book appeared to me quite by chance, unbidden, and completely fortuitously, a couple of years ago. I was, at the time, working at a to-be-unspecified job for a very small chain of independent Canadian bookstores that shall remain nameless. It SHOULD have, been a good job, it COULD have been a good job; working for someone else, it might have been. But it wasn't. It made me miserable, completely miserable. Not only was I not left with sufficient TIME for any of my various art projects, I was so completely consumed by how much I hated my job that I was hardly even inclined.

I had been thinking that I would like to pursue illustration. All of my interests and predilections seemed to point to it. But I didn't know how, and all of my time/mental energy seemed caught up in work. I had no time to work on a portfolio. I wanted to do it, but how? I would think about it longingly , but week after week after month slipped by. And then Ernie Zelinski appeared.

Real Success Without a Real Job arrived at the warehouse as a 'freebie'- it was accidentally sent to us, unordered. Since it was not sent in PLACE of anything, it wasn't sent back in return for another item. I saw it on the shelf where such things wind up, and snatched it up. It seemed clear that that book was FOR ME!!!

His main points: many, even most people, are unhappy and unfulfilled working for someone else, and most likely wish that they were doing something that they cared about. That real success is what you make it, not living up to the traditional view of success, and that real success is living life in your own way, pursuing things that have meaning to you. That working at an 'unreal job' (something, ideally, that you would want to do even if you weren't getting paid) will give you a sense of freedom, satisfaction and fulfillment that a 'real' job can't.

He tells his own story, which is not a tale of miraculous luck but rather of dogged perseverance and dedication to pursuing his dream. He is not, as he readily admits, a particularly 'good' writer in terms of style or elegance, but he IS a good writer in that he writes clearly, expresses his own unique point of view and his inimitable personality. As he so succinctly put it, " I may not be able to write a book by Shakespeare, but I can write a book by me." Oh, did I mention? He is FUNNY.

Clearly, I had long ago joined the choir. The book served for me more to confirm and elaborate what I already knew or intuited. It is more inspiration and pep talk than a step-by-step guide to achieving your particular objective (although he does suggest numerous other books to consult to help you figure out your path). But WHAT a pep talk... I have re-read it countless times, and it has joined the ranks of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Hothead Paisan, Homicidal Lesbian Terrorist, and A Confederacy of Dunces as a reliable remedy for times of discouragement or depressedness.

He has also written books entitled The Joy of Not Working, How to retire Happy, Wild and Free, and The Lazy Person's Guide to Happiness.
His official website: http://www.erniezelinski.com/

p.s. it seems that the edition that I have is no longer available; I suspect that the new book Career Success without a Real Job is probably the same book, essentially.

another page of my book...

Another page of my book-in-progress. I'm thinking of adding some more leaves on the bottom right instead of the sort of strange continuation of the pattern on the house... but for now, I've had enough of fussing with this and will do it later! LATER! I have a lot of work to do; no doubt I'll want to start some pages over again completely by the time I'm finished (in fact, there are already a couple that I have in mind, sigh...).

Sunday, December 6, 2009

CRUNCHY .... (illustration friday)

Yes, this is something that I posted a little while ago... but I thought that it fit the IF theme for this week, 'crunchy'. 'Crunchy' seems like one of those words that simply MUST be used to describe breakfast cereal. Although I would imagine that this bowl of larvae is mostly soft, I imagine that the legs are fairly 'crunchy' (as is certainly the case with those huge tiger shrimp!) Bon appetit!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

new thing, promotional piece perhaps?

(added 7 december)...It occurs to me that this also fits the Illustration Friday theme for this week- (4 December) (that snowflake is going to be a little crunchier than she was expecting, perhaps!?!?), so I'm adding a link to this one, too.


So, here's another piece that I did over this past week- I was thinking of using it as a Christmas card, perhaps of making a series of cards for next year. We shall see.

I've been working on several pages of my book, although I took a bit of a break this week and worked on a few other things. I was getting a little too 'close' and hypercritical. Some of the criticism deserved, of course, some just a result of lack of perspective... Some of the pages I will almost undoubtedly wind up re-doing. By the time I am finished, I will probably want to redo all of what I first did! I've been working on, rejecting, and re-starting background patterns.

I listened this a.m. to one of Escape from Illustration Island's earlier podcasts that I had not already heard, the interview with Penelope Dullaghan. It was good; I appreciated her honesty. It's helpful to me to hear 'how others did it' and also, of course, it is always good to hear that those successful others didn't start out having all of the answers (as I think a part of me always worries is the case!). I wouldn't call it Schadenfreude, as I'm not delighting in their past lack of know-how; it's more the idea that well, they didn't know it all and look at them now, so perhaps there is hope for me also...

Ok, back to work. I WILL write the Ernie Zelinsky Adoration post later today (did I say today? I mean...soon!)... very very soon.

'music'; illustration friday

Ok, so not quite finished yet- I have yet to put the guitar strings on the guitars, and, more noticeably, I am going to replace some (all?) of the 'squares' on the lower half with some kind of patterned paper.

More soon!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Further aimless doodling

...a few more aimless doodles that I've done over the last few days. Not all that I've been up to, but...the rest I will post soon! Other things soon to come: I am going to attempt to document some pieces 'from beginning to end'; that is, from sketches all the way to 'finished'. Also, a post of praise for Mr. Ernie Zelinsky (of The Joy of Not Working and Real Success Without a Real Job fame.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009


...is what I have been feeling. I've been concentrating on work on my book to such a degree that...it was as if I couldn't even SEE it, if you know what I mean... Hypercriticality (is that a word?), comparing myself unfavorably to others, doubt that I've EVER done ANYTHING good are among the results... So I've been taking time over the last few days to just do some aimless sketches in the a.m., something that I don't care about at all... the above are a couple. (And yes, I did take down that last book page- I've decided that it's not finished.)

One more thing- and I've been meaning to report this for a couple of weeks now (I am such a delinquent blog-ger!)- I am the lucky winner of a signed copy of Holly De Wolf's book, Breaking Into Freelance Illustration, courtesy of Escape from Illustration Island and Holly De Wolf! Thanks to both Thomas James and Holly De Wolf. I will indeed post a review when I receive it!

Monday, November 2, 2009

What I've been doing...

I've been working on various pages of my book. Here's one that is almost finished, more to come (although I think that I'll start taking them down before there are too many up- I want you to buy the book)!

The greatness of Jonathan Woodward

The second interview/podcast that I listened to on Escape From Illustration Island
was with Jonathan Woodward, who is not only an incredibly talented collage-based illustrator- look at his work here!- but who is also documenting his ongoing progress in his quest to transition to a full-time freelance illustrator on this blog, zero 2 illo. He also seems like a genuine, generous nice guy. Good luck, and thanks, Jonathan Woodward!

great site, great podcast, thank you Thomas James!

It would simply be wrong for me NOT to mention the great site that I recently came across, Escape From Illustration Island.
Experienced illustrator Thomas James has posted an exhaustive list of resources of all kinds that I have no doubt will be of great use to me and to many others starting out. He also hosts a weekly podcast (of which I have only- so far- listened to two episodes, both excellent) in which he interviews various personalities of the illustration world.

As I may or may not have mentioned (whined about?) before, I am occasionally seized by the unpleasant suspicion that 'everyone else' knows something about the illustration game that I don't- that there is something obvious, perhaps, that I am missing, that is THE ANSWER! THE KEY! (to success) etc. etc. A site such as this helps in practical ways ( to point me in directions that it might otherwise have taken me much longer to discover!) as well as psychological. I am grateful to its helpful and generous author.

His most recent interview/podcast featured Holly DeWolf , a successful illustrator who has written a book that I will be ordering, Breaking into Freelance Illustration.
She describes it as 'all of the things that she wished she had learned in school, but had to learn in the real world'. Perfect! Again, for both practical reasons and reasons of reassurance- I wouldn't call it schadenfreude, exactly, but I DO find it comforting to know that I'm not the only one who didn't leave school (I didn't do an illustration programme, rather a 'fine arts' programme with no practical reference to the real world whatsoever) knowing everything that I needed to know. I'll let you know what I think once I've read it.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

je suis toujours vivante!

Yes, I'm still alive. I've been working on my book, and on sending out more mailings. This is a finished page from my book; I will soon post another page (almost done) (the page, not the book...). I finally finished that 'meatball story' commission; I haven't posted it though as it was too large to scan. I'll see if I can do something about that soon.

I've just joined some entrepeneurial 'networking' sites and will endeavor to update my online portfolio sites. Must keep up on the 'business' side of things; that is hard but must be done, unless someone would like to volunteer to do it for me? Anyone? I thought not...

I recently did a sketch for a sports team's logo (sports team/sport to remain anonymous) that may or may not be used. Nonetheless, I am pleased to have made a new contact (web designer); hoping that he may think of me again whether he gets the contract or not. I'm hoping that I was agreeable, helpful, easy to get along with, etc. (Stop laughing!)

Anyhow... back to work. I will attempt to post a new drawing soon.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

holy blog neglect...

...but I've been working, really I have... I recently completed (quickly quickly!) the above three images for a magazine recently- the second was not to their liking, so I did the third which was more to their liking. I've been working (oh so slowly but still) on my book... I've also started making character sketches for the book for the little kiddies that I'm working on w/my friend BM (she's the writer), and I am at long last finishing that 'Greek meatball' drawing (sketches posted some time ago)... Now, too, I'm working on a piece that I am hoping will turn out well enough to be my next promotional piece/postcard (though I'm thinking that perhaps the 'meatball' may turn out to be a good choice too)... Anyhow. Will post more soon!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

A few pieces-in-progress from my BOOK...

...In case you thought I'd been doing nothing. I wouldn't want you to think that I'd been doing nothing.

Crow Toes Quarterly No. 10!

A couple of weeks late; I've been meaning to post this- well, for a couple of weeks. It's the new issue of Crow Toes Quarterly, of course, and it contains another illustration by me!, as well as several other Very Interesting art and story-type items. Subscribe to Crow Toes HERE.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Monday, May 25, 2009

better like this, or better like that?

I added some 'candy' shapes to my larvae-eater. Which is better? I can't decide. I need to decide soon though, since I'm going to postcard this one- one version of it, anyhow...

Monday, May 18, 2009

LARVA BOY! New promotional piece!

...I had started this one before leaving for St. Catharines, but finished it there. I'm pretty happy with it! I still may add something though. I'm on the hunt for candy wrappers, red preferably, or some other kind of red-patterny element that I can add. Hmmm. I'll know it when I see it! And I still need to colour in the spoon, I see.... This one I'll definitely do as a postcard and/or copy. Too bad I had not done this when I sent out images to Boys' Life! Well, can send them one of the postcards as part of my pestering- oh, I mean promotional- campaign.

I've been neglecting Illustration Friday for a few weeks now; I have been relatively busy (although still, as always, berating myself for not working at every! available! moment! on something) but also not inspired by any of the one-word topics. This coming week, though- I forget the exact word- contagious? pestilence? plague? something like 'spread of disease'- seems right up my alley. Maybe tomorrow or the next day, something quick, if inspiration strikes.

why? I don't know why...

Just something quick & pointless drawn in St. Catharine's, where the squirrels have grown to gigantic proportions!

botanical drawing-asian lily

Something else drawn in St. Catharine's- an asian lily from Red's beautiful garden. Not terrible, but should be 'lighter'- more watercolour and less coloured pencil. Still, not bad... I plan to do some drawing at the Botanical Garden soon.

What have I been doing all this time?

Long time no write! Ah, I think I've realized why the red (here, in 'create post' it appears as underlining)- it's because I'm writing ABOVE an image, and this must therefore be a title! right! Well, I finished that piece for Crow Toes... It turned out fairly well, I thought. It will appear in the next number- I will surely mention it's impending release! Next, I (finally! arrggh!) sent out another several packages to magazines/publishers. Must keep on that. Wasn't my goal ten per WEEK? I try, I try...

Soon afterwards, I left for St. Catharine's to visit my boyfriend's family. I did SOME work... see the above...

Friday, April 24, 2009

..I try not to be too disappointed...

ok...so I (finally!) actually finished a page for my picture book. (I don't know that I've actually mentioned here that I am working on a book. Well, what do you know...?) And I am not happy with it, to be honest. I fussed and fussed, and I find it to be sort of too much of a muchness..... I should have left out the near-allover leaf cover, and I overworked the birds (mostly the top one), and don't know why I didn't just have her standing on the ground instead of in a sandbox, which turned out to be a pain in the ass anyhow and... just another additional element too many. On the upside, I am very happy with my depiction of the girl- her expression is exactly what I wanted. So. So... I am going to do it again. As a matter of fact, I think that I'll do two more versions of it- that is, I'll pencil out two versions and complete them as I like, incorporating the changes I've considered. Good colour combination overall but must simplify. I AM disappointed- I wanted to get this one done in time to send it out with the next bunch of publisher/mag mailings- but now I'm not sufficiently pleased with it to do so. Oh well... next time. Speaking of the book, I am determined to get back to work on it in a real way- that is, in such a fashion that I will actually complete it within something like a time frame. My determination has been renewed! No IF this week. I doubt that I'll do it for next week either- I have to finish another piece/pieces for Crow Toes Quarterly (woohoo!). Their assignments are always fun. Ugh. I'm a little overly disappointed with myself vis a vis this piece though, as I always am when I have spent time doing something for which I had high hopes and it did not turn out as well as hoped for...must not lament so....ok that's enough moaning for the moment, yes?

Friday, April 17, 2009

IF: fleeting

...it is late, perhaps I'll add some clever commentary/quips tomorrow. Sleep now.

Monday, April 6, 2009

a tale of greek meatballs

I am away this week but still at work... so here, as mentioned previously and semi-promised, are the sketches for the commissioned piece that I am currrently working on. It is based on a true story about a young man making meatballs in his mother's kitchen in Greece, hoping then to transport them on a flight home to Toronto for a party. I am executing it using the 'meatball recipe' sketch for the left-hand side of the drawing; the right-hand side will be the second sketch (in which it is clear that he is LEAVING the meatball-making kitchen). So far so good. Hopefully I will have time to take it to be scanned before it is delivered! (It is too large for my scanner at home.)

I met with a new friend (BM) before I left to discuss a children's book(s) collaboration! This could be exciting. She is interested in a style rather unlike what I typically do- this will be good for me, though- it would be good to develop another style. Will report as things develop!

What else? Well, I think that I will do IF this week- 3-hour restriction will apply. Will post, certainly. I sent off a few more packages to publishers today. I'm doing well! Must keep on keeping on etc. Ok, that will be all for now. Will return within a couple of days with Illustration Friday post.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Illustration Friday: Poise

With this week's Illustration Friday I seem to have done something that would seem to be rather difficult; I have created an image that turned out to be both a) somewhat cliched (tomboy girl, with frog!) and b) somewhat inappropriate for children (got a little carried away with the cleavage of the woman on the right!). Ah well... Still working on commissioned piece, perhaps will post sketches of this within the next couple of days.

Friday, March 27, 2009

life is short, filled with stuff

I have no idea whatsoever why this must be in bold. Anyhow, in the absence of any IF this week with which to entertain those eagerly awaiting my blog postings, and in celebration of the acquisition of a (good!) scanner, I present to you various stuff that I had laying around from here and there. First, one sheet of the pinup girl tattoo designs I did about a year ago for a tattoo artist: (seemingly mandatory 'bold' gone! why?!)

This week I spent working hard on the business/promotional side of things! (Finally!) I received the postcards that I ordered from vistaprint.ca, and I was pleased beyond pleased. Really, I can't recommend vistaprint enough! The postcards themselves were free; I just paid a download fee (because I was using my own image), which was about 5$ per design (i.e. 10$) plus shipping. And the quality was far superior to the ones I first got (at unnamed print shop near me). All you have to do to be BOMBARDED continuously with offers for free this and free that is sign up for an account with them. (How can they afford to do this?)

Anyhow, so I mailed out a number of packages to several publishers and children's magazines, including CRICKET, my favourite of all magazines for kids. They use an impressive variety of illustration styles, not just all that goofy super-cartoony kiddy stuff that seems endemic...oh, I know what I mean. I now have a decent 'template' letter for both magazines and publishers that can easily be added to or adjusted for the individual recipient. I also sent a follow-up card/letter to several magazines that I've contacted already. So, good!

Here is a stream-of-consciousness ink-watercolour crayon thing I did last summer:
Also this week, I got paid for the piece that I did for Briarpatch. Very good indeed!
Here, another ink/watercolour crayon sketch. This one I like.
And I played bridge! For the first time in nearly five years. I was in 'instinctive mode' mostly- my card-counting skills are gone. Luckily I played the hand only a couple of times (and made it!) I did not disgrace myself terribly. I miss playing cards! Next week I'll continue with more publisher research (have to do some research into the maisons d'editions en francais here in Quebec, too!), but mostly I'll be working on a commissioned piece. Maybe I'll have time for Illustration Friday, maybe not.
One more ink/watercolour thing:

Friday, March 20, 2009

IF: sorry about the lack of image!

Curse my stupidity! I edited the IF post and didn't realize that I had to attach the image again!
Well, here it is now...

Thursday, March 19, 2009

illustration friday: Legendary

I've linked my IF entry for the first time to my blog rather than to my website. First, not too many visits to my blog. Second, I don't necessarily want everything that I do for IF to be posted on my blog (seeing as how I only intend to spend a couple of hours on each IF theme). If I like it, great- to the website it goes. This week I only spend a couple of hours and think that it is just ok- nothing spectacular. Yes, Hank Williams. My #1 'if-I-could-see-anyone-play-in-any-era' choice.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Illustration Friday: Intricate

Another installation in the series of one-word themes that is illustration friday.

another possible candidate for contest entry... the deadline for which is tomorrow!

I am quite pleased with this one, actually. It is a promotional piece that I am definitely going to include in my submissions to the children's/YA book & magazine market. Which are going to go out SOON! I wanted the 'graffiti' in the background to look real- so I cut a stencil, just like the real graffitos do, although it was more to achieve the 'spray' effect than to look as though it was stencilled. I think it turned out well! All in all, I spent a ridiculous amount of time on this brick wall.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

possible candidates for contest entry...

The first one is the second of two drawings that I did for an imaginary book review for a dark Japanese novel of murder, dismemberment and fatalistic hopelessness (quite a good book, actually...). I quite like it, but solicited opinions are split on this one... apparently it LOOKS a little too bloody and depressing. The second is one of the three that appeared in Crow Toes Quarterly (see earlier post); this one was included in their 'art interludes' section. I think that it's pretty but perhaps a bit 'fluffy'... The third and fourth also appeared in Crow Toes; these two were commissioned specifically for a story. I am really only considering submitting the one with the yellow grid background; I just wanted to include the companion piece because I had not yet posted it. I think that this one turned out quite well. I don't know which to choose! I will only enter one (costs money to enter, or I'd enter more). There will also be the one I've not yet finished but I will hopefully finish this weekend and scan... If anyone has any opinions, please let me know. There appears not to be a category for 'children's' illustration specifically- the contest seems to be divided according to industry sectors (i.e. advertising, book, poster, etc...) Hmm.

Friday, March 6, 2009

communication arts illustration contest etc.

So, I did not do the Illustration Friday topic suggested last week, for a number of reasons. Reason the first: I was away visiting family and friends and was thus unable to think properly. Reason the second: What time I did have I spent working on and thinking about the (mentioned a week ago I think?) promotional piece that I was considering entering into the Communication arts illustration contest (mostly thinking about, only a little working, sigh.). Reason the third: I didn't like the topic/word this week so much anyway. It was 'breezy'. I can't put my finger on why particularly this word/topic irked me, but it did... maybe I was just looking for an excuse not to do it. And would it kill them to add a second word occasionally?!?! Never mind.....

Anyhow, so I was concerned with completing this piece for Friday, the deadline for the contest, i.e. TODAY. Having only returned home on Wednesday night, and having had to work yesterday, I wasn't sure that I would finish it, so was considering (had been, anyhow- who knows how well something is going to turn out?) other options- i.e. pieces already completed. I checked the contest deadline again (to find out when exactly the 'last minute' would be) and what do you know, there has been an extension until next friday, leaving me more time to think. So, having no illustration friday BREEZINESS with which to regale you, I will instead post my 'shortlist' of possible entries, excepting the as-yet unfinished piece. Soon I must buy a scanner! Then you will be submitted to ALL of my half-developed sketches and other stuff that nobody should probably ever see.... I will post the images above, provided 'blogger' lets me add images (it isn't allowing me to add images to this post, perhaps because I added and then removed? ah, mysteries of the tinternets!)

Thursday, February 26, 2009

IF: Instinct

A quick job for IF this week; kept to my proposed time limit of no more than 3 hours for this one! Like the idea. Am away on vacation this week visiting family. When I get back- next week- I must finally, FINALLY (!) put together a package of images to submit to various publishers and magazines. I've been meaning to do this for a while, but find myself torn between wanting to do more, better work and wanting to get to it and just submit, submit, submit... Seeing as how the 'business' side of things is harder for me, doing more work wins out... but no more! I brought along a piece that I will complete over the next few days and I want to finish a couple of pages of my book and... and... that will be it. I have to get going. I suppose that waiting until I had enough stuff that I really wanted to show isn't a bad thing (and realistically, it is true that a lot of the work that I had was NOT really suitable or appealing to the children's market), but enough already. OK, enough of the tiresome lecture to myself. Back next week with a new IF and another promotional piece!