Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Will Terry on Doing Test (FREE) Illustrations for Jobs

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Q2KP0kVNsE&feature=em-subs_digest

I am posting this video today because I really like what my colleague-Will Terry has to say.
Some artists get really upset with this kind of thing, but it's part of being an artist.
In animation and illustration it is common and for the most part I don't mind doing a test image.
Sometimes companies, or people will pay for the test and sometimes they don't. It really depends, so before you decide to do it, you really have to ask yourself a few questions.

1. Do I have time to do a professional test?
2. Is this job worth it for me?
3. What is the likelihood that I will get the job?

The last one is because sometimes in animation, the studios will give 100+ people the same test and then it really is just a Craps shoot on whether you will get the job or not. Usually, these days, I stay away from those. I used to do them, but one animation studio-who I won't say which-I passed the same test 9 times, yup NINE and they never hired me, so I was wasting a week (40 hours) each time I did it.

I think as artists we really have to know our own time, strengths and whether it is worth it.

Have a great day making art everyone and you can find Will via this video or here.
http://willterry.blogspot.com/

and here

https://svslearn.com/

Here are some of my test images that I have done for some jobs

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Friday, May 8, 2015

What I Realized at a Book Signing-Teens LOVE Characters Like Real People

I chose this photo just because the book I am working on now is set in a private school,
well that and a hospital, and the city of Boston. :) I love photos and just like to have them in my posts.
belmont
I have never thought about killing off my characters more than, this is what I need to tell this story. It has to happen. I don’t sit down and say, “hrm? How can I make people cry?” Or “I want to write a boo-hoo (as a fellow author friend of mine calls them) book.”
I went to a book signing and talk last night that a friend and fellow author was giving for her book-All The Bright Places- (Jennifer Niven). It was great, and I love supporting my friends, and great books. What was especially cool was sitting in the room with about 100 teenages. Watching their reactions to the book and how the book made them feel really hit home with me.
I thought.
Oh. My. God. “They are going to hate me, I kill of characters in every book.”
They didn’t hate Jennifer, but a lot of them were sad, and some destroyed because of something that happens in the book.
It’s funny how we as adults feel like we know and love these characters, but for teens, well, I am learning, there is a whole new level of “REAL” when it comes to our work.
I brought my first 10 pages to a Starbucks a few months ago. I bought all the teens in the room coffee and treats and asked for their opinions on my first chapter. It was amazing, and what was great was that they had totally different reactions than my critique group-who at the time was mostly middle aged and older women-who don’t want to think that their sons would ever do anything wrong. So I had to get teens to weigh in.
When I then told them what happens in the story, in a clumsy not-the-way-I-would-pitch-it way, they had STRONG reactions. One girl actually teared up-WHY???? why does that character have to die-why??? I could see it in her face. Broke my heart a little, and it excited me at the same time.
My goal is not to make teens, or anyone cry, but to tell a powerful story. I am trying, learning, revising, reworking, working on my craft daily so I can achieve this. Last night gave me a whole new perspective on just how personal these stories can be to these kids.
Also helps me be ready to answer these questions when I am up there giving a talk.
When I used to read my chick lit books at signings-I just hoped for some laughs-the books didn’t mean anything, they were just fluff and fun. Now I have shifted into wanting my work to mean something to kids even if that means I may have to pair up with Kleenex and sell tissues with each copy (just kidding of course).
If you haven’t read All The Bright Places, I highly recommend it. It’s powerful, beautiful and just great. Finch and Violet will take you ‘wandering’ into their lives, dreams, hopes, despair and love.
atbp_m

Monday, April 20, 2015

Yay, It's OKAY to Be CARTOONY and ME!

OMG guys, I was just at the SCBWI Houston conference and I am happy to say that I have beeing feeling so insecure (you may not know that I actually am insecure about my work, even if I appear confident due to years as a professional artist) about my "cartoony" style for children's books. Even though I have done many, I still get the "your style won't work for children's books" comments etc, from more "artsy" folks in the industry. Well I received AMAZING comments in my portfolio which was on display. I always get good comments, and at every conference, including New York and Los Angeles, I have gotten calls about work from them, but I am ALWAYS NERVOUS-because of the aforementioned cartoony-ness of my work. So it was great to talk with a fellow cartoony illustrator, who is doing really well in children's books with her debut book, that just came out this past year, and I had a critique session with, who has a similar background to me and know that it's okay and I can be myself. YAY! 

Friday, April 10, 2015

Da Beers-Blood Diamonds & Engagement Ring Scam

http://www.diamondboycott.com/


I rarely am political on social media, but this is something that I really believe in. It's ridiculous-the whole diamond industry. I am shocked at how many people are okay with it, and also argue that no one died so they could wear that big rock on their finger.
Especially my vegan friends! Come on, it's not okay to kill a chicken for food, but it's okay for CHILDREN to constantly be slaughtered, or arms cut off, or forced into slavery so you can wear a diamond? It boils my blood.

In 2006/2007 I did volunteer work AGAINST Da Beers and the diamond industry.
I can't stand diamonds, I can't stand the ads that run all the time about them and I can't stand that people turn their heads and pretend that what's happening isn't.
Also why should a guy spend so much on a ring? It's stupid. I'd rather go to France or Italy for a week, put a down payment on a condo/house. Seriously I don't get it.
http://expandedconsciousness.com/2015/04/10/scam-alert-the-awful-truth-about-diamond-engagement-rings/



Friday, March 27, 2015

Don't Blame Lufthansa






  • This plane crash thing is just a nightmare-but I am seeing a lot of posts on social media to boycott Lufthansa/Germanwings-I disagree-the guy clearly hid his illness. I understand that people are angry, but Lufthansa is historically a great airline. The whole situation is just tragic. My Westie Finnegan and I flew Lufthansa back from Denmark. We flew KLM over-they are both great for that as well as Air New Zealand to Sydney. KLM actually flies horses a lot and Finn was on the same level as we were in the back.  But I feel terrible for Lufthansa and everyone involved. I understand the rage, but I think boycotting is not the way to go. It could happen anywhere. I think changing the way of only having one person in the cockpit is the next step for all airlines. Yesterday people were posting saying that in the US all airlines do this, but it's not true, on the short hops (like this flight was) sometimes one person is left up there. That said, I am sure the FAA will make more changes. Maybe because my father worked for the airlines for a long time-I come from an airline family in a way-I can see the other side of this nightmare. It's so easy to blame the airline for the actions of one person. Flying is still safe. I saw yesterday a report saying that more than 150 people have died in the world in car accidents since this plane crash and yet people still get into their cars everyday, text, etc without giving it a second thought.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Luck? No It's Hard Work

Yes it is possible to make 100% of your living as a creative-artist, writer, musician, actor, etc. You can do it. 

Hey everyone so this is a carryover from a discussion on FB about working as a writer and artist or one or the other.

I write this blog today because it seems that people are misunderstanding some things that were said at the SCBWI winter conference in New York earlier this month. One of the editors made a comment that it always scares him when his first time authors say the words, "I quit my day job." Now everyone is on social media freaking out saying that it was said at the conference NOT to quit your day job because you can't survive as an artist or a writer. Funny, I was there and didn't hear that at all.

What I heard was an editor being truthful about his part in the publication process and how much stress that puts on him when someone does that. The truth is, that editors work too, and if a book is successful or isn't, it affects them as well. Telling your editor, especially on your first book, that you are now depending on your book to hit, and stay, on the New York Times Bestseller list, is a lot of pressure.

To be realistic. Authors don't make a lot of money. That is the truth and it's been the truth as long as writing books has been around. It surprises me that new writers are shocked to hear that they aren't going to be rich when they get an agent and sell their book-the great American novel. Yes there are some that do. We can all name them off the top of our heads-even the people who don't read that much know them. SOME AUTHORS ARE: Stephen King, John Grisham, Michael Crichton, Tom Clancy, George R.R. Martin, Jennifer Weiner, Helen Fielding, and in children's books- J.K. Rowling, Judy Blume, Philip Pullman, Stephenie Meyers, and recently, John Green, Jay Asher, James Dashner. To name a FEW. But these are the exceptions, not the rule.

Wouldn't it be great if we all made money on our novels? And don't forget Dan Brown and E.L. James. Not the best written books of all times, but they are laughing all the way to the bank.

It can be done, but it's not the normal. I have plenty of author friends on the bestseller lists who work day jobs on the side. Most of them are well known in the writing community.

This doesn't discourage me at all. Why? Because I know the truth about it and I don't do it for the money. I have been published in the adult (just meaning non-children's books) world. I jumped at the opportunity to get published with smaller publishers and was wildly unsuccessful because I knew NOTHING about editing, the process, or marketing. I am a published author and yet I still work, have a day job.

I also have been hired, work for hire as a picture book writer. People alway say, "but you wrote like 16 books for FarFaria, can't you live on that?" hahaha, yeah, no. That was for a flat rate on each book, so I could gain experience in PBs etc.

I am now concentrating on my YA (teen fiction) books because I LOVE writing for teens, not to get rich. I wouldn't mind it. I daydream about my book(s) as films, but I don't do it for that reason.

Most of you know that my day job is as an artist-specifically a children's book illustrator. Yes I am one of the ones who makes her living drawing. I have for the last 20 years. I started in animation and then I went to children's books. But guess what? I also do TONS of other illustration and graphic design jobs from painting doggie portraits, to licensing my work, to logos, greeting cards, educational books, magazine illustrations, consumer products, storyboarding, character design, background design, being in art shows etc. See? I work all the time because I do a lot of different things.

One person said to me that I was lucky when I started. That may be true to a point in that I got my foot in the door by luck. The luck was that I was doodling at an audition for Disney when they saw my quick sketches and offered me a job in their animation internship. I turned it down, then a couple years later, sick of my mother telling me how I was going to be a waitress forever, I decided to call up Disney and work as an artist. That's the short version. What people forget when telling that story is that I worked my arse off for almost two years in classes at the animation guild while working full time at the Cheesecake Factory to make that happen.

I drew 8-12 hours a day. I slept about 2-4 hours a night. I took classes 5 days a week, all day long ones on anatomy, life drawing, quick sketch, animals and animation. I busted my hump to make that happen. It wasn't luck it was hard work. Then when I got into animation I worked on 7 films, back to back, to back.. etc.. for 3 years, 6-7 days a week, with an average work week being 70+ hours. I also continued to take art classes and animation classes on the side. Again sleep didn't happen much.

I still take art classes. I still take writing classes. When I got my first novel published in 2003, I had been out of work, when animation crashed in 2001, for two years. I had only worked briefly on a couple films and commercials, but for the most part I wasn't working, so I dove into writing. I took tons and tons of classes with Gotham's online courses and the Children's Institute of Literature. Then in 2007 I was offered a job on a TV show for ABC, it got cancelled the day I started-I know, what rotten luck. Well I dove into TV and film writing courses, workshops etc. I continued to take novel writing courses. Etc. Get it? I worked my butt off and I still do.

To work and make a living as a writer, you have to do more than just get an agent and sell your book. You have to do other things like; being a reader for the studios and publishing houses, be an editor, write copy, write shorts, write for magazines, work in tv and film, etc. Just like art, you have to do more.

So while there may be some element of luck to how I got into art in the first place. I continue to work because I work at it. I network all the time. I continue to take classes. I improve my skills. I used to split my income between writing and illustrating, but these days, I am focusing on my YA novels and so my art is my day job for the most part. I still read scripts, TV shows, specs, etc.. I still do consulting, but for the most part, my day job is illustration. I work on greeting cards and children's books mostly right now, but also do other side jobs when they come in.

I think there is a huge misconception of the creative industries that we don't work-I think that we work harder than most industries. That has been my experience. It's the same for actors and musicians. The friends of mine who are making a living at it, work all the time. The aren't relying on one thing to make them famous, they are working.

So my advice to anyone who is new, don't give up, but know that you have to work at it, all the time. If you end up as the next J.K. Rowling, than great! (don't forget me! Hehe)

Also to be a professional creative-you have to LOVE what you do. I always say that I don't have a choice in the matter, this is why I was born. Rich, poor, broke, flush-none of that matters to me. Trust me, I am always up and down with money, that is part of the deal. :)

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

YA For Boys

So many of you know that I write from the male POV. I am not trying to change the way things are done in teen fiction or any of that, it's just what comes to me. I do, however, feel that boys are grossly under represented, in that most of the teen fiction that have strong male leads are MG action adventure-not that there is anything wrong with that. I LOVE the Maze Runner and Percy Jackson books as much as the next person.
I write contemporary YA fiction from the male POV. Maybe it's because I was obsessed with S. E. Hinton in middle school or that I just like boy driven stories better, but that is how I write. I am writing for the teenage boys. Hopefully girls will like my books too. Recently I was at a SCBWI convention and someone said to me, "you are writing Boo-hoo fiction like John Green" because yes in my first book there will be some deaths. I don't think of it as Boo-hoo fiction, I look at it like intense there are consequences to your actions stories from the boy's POV.
I just got an idea and have already plotted it out. I don't mind sharing, because I think there could be tons of books on this subject and we would all write it differently.
I am going to write a YA about a boy who gets drunk and sleeps with a girl, who is also drunk and then gets accused of rape. This is a VERY important storyline and poor guys, they are always just called assholes. What about when it ISN'T rape? Who is sticking up for these boys?
This is all stemmed from a recent storyline on a popular ABC Family teen show that I watch. I blogged about it here on my other blog. I am happy to hear your thoughts on it, but please be respectful of others. Thanks.

https://stepholivieriwriter.wordpress.com/2015/02/11/switched-at-birth-important-rape-storyline/