Friday, June 19, 2015

Directed Study: GLA 675 OL: Professional Practices (Summer 2015)

About: This class goes into the business portion of illustration as well as the overall critique and analysis of one's portfolio. Because this is my first official directed study, I must document my assignments. Generally, these consist of essays about me as an artist, research, my portfolio, my development etc. Alongside that, if there are any thoughts that come to mind in terms of this class, I will include it as well.

Module 14 (July 30- August 1) and Module 15  (August 2-5):

Although Module 15 was more of a free module to wrap up the semester, during Module 14, I finished up my assignment "Maintaing a Schedule for a Week. This is my explanation of my week as part of the assignment:

Part II: Evaluation

Evaluate your schedule. In a brief essay of 500-800 words, answer the following questions:

Impression: What are you immediate impressions when you look at how you used your time during the week? What met your expectations? What surprised you?

Productivity: What did you tangibly accomplish during the week? How long did it take?

Efficiency: How efficiently did you work? Where could you improve?

Distractions: What kept you from being more productive? What wasted your time? How can you reduce or eliminate these distractions?

Evaluation: How satisfied are you with your time management? What would you change? How can your improve your productivity and efficiency?

Well this was interesting indeed! Personally I feel that, overall, I dedicated much more time into my art per week than I seem to have recorded here this past week. My part time job NEVER schedules me this much as they did this past week, and I very rarely have other appointments and errands to attend to otherwise. If I knew of this assignment beforehand, I would say I most likely dedicate a good 50 hours, if not over, to my art in general per week. So, I will say, the dedication to my art this past week of recording did not come up to where I wanted it to be.

Butt, all in all, I did accomplish the majority of what I wanted to accomplish that week. My two oil horse portrait commissions are now fully painted. Therefore, they are 95% done. All I have to do is re-burn some outlines into the surface and paint on a protective coat seeing how these will be mounted up in a horse barn. I worked on both of them for a total of 10 hours. Not bad for 2 oil paintings My personal self portrait is about 95% done, but I decided to put it aside because I felt I was getting overwhelmed since I dedicated a lot of time into the piece before hand ( I need fresh eyes on it). I am sure to get right back to it this week since my final day at my part time job will be this upcoming tuesday.

Yet, I still feel like I need to improve my dedication to my work. I just need more time and energy to dedicate to it. With everyday life and distractions at home, it makes for a very difficult goal to achieve. Especially being a student where the part time schedule, the class and class work, and all other things that are forming in one's life, makes things a bit everywhere and unstable.

But, a huge thing I know, from looking at this, and even in my past week, I did not waste time. Yes, you may see that I didn't work on anything one day, or only dedicated some hours in another. The fact is that, along with my job, my family, errands, and the like, I still dedicated time which others would deemed as spare time, which in general consists of sitting as in front of the TV. I always make sure I realize that, even on my bad days where I feel I am just not making enough time for my work, I am. There is no doubt I am, because I hate wasting time. Free time is art/development time for me. Unless, like this past monday, where I needed a full day of nothing (being my first day off from work in 9 days, working on art everyday etc), sometimes a day of no art and going to a bar and drawing the architecture, is still something.

I will say that I can improve my productivity just by increasing productivity. At the moment, doing that will effect my personal relationships with family and friends. So , when back in school, I will almost double that number since I will be in a non stop race to finish the next piece to start another! Therefore, I can't really answer that question in a yes or no. Each semester brings different needs and things to deal with, developing schedules to fit these needs and other things is always different and I am sure to bring myself to get to where I have to be.


Though I will be done with my part-time job soon, I was disappointed to see how much time that job took up for me this past week. Having a job is wonderful and very much needed, but I am done with this kind of scheduling. A job like this one should not have schedules so drastically different from the previous week(s). That breeds unstably in life and work ethic (an I like to have a fir idea of scheduling every week). I am glad to be done with them soon so I can focus more on the commission work I have and preparing to get back to school!

Module 12 (July 23-25) and Module 13  (July 26-29):

I don't have much to say about these modules. All we had to do was rework our business card layouts, resume, tear sheet, and cover letter. I will be truthful, I barely did anything with these (I won't repost since they are basically the same). Reason being that the comments I received were not comments I could work with at the moment. Mainly because it had to do with what I used as images for the tear sheet and business card. Like I kept saying this whole semester, my portfolio is not where I want it to be. I don't have enough to work with. Yes, I could've made some, but I have been diving into 5 commissioned horse portraits that have been taking up my artistic time and energy. Still recieved a great passing grade, but still the same ideas as before, "Could've used better pieces." I am sure I will have enough work to work with at the end of this semester.

In addition, during this time I have already started my next 2 module assignment: Maintaining a Schedule for a Week. Let us see how much time I dedicate to art!

Module 10 (July 16-18) and Module 11  (July 19-22):

Understanding one's timeline can be a bit overwhelming but it offers a challenging mindset. These next modules I found that we were researching the ideas of time; time in terms of where I consider myself as a student; time where I find myself now as an illustrator; and time, where do I go from here.
Although, the timeline I had to make is a bit personal to post publicly, I will say, what an understanding I have made! I had to make an overall Business Plan. This included a cover sheet, mission statement, Industry and Market Description, Product and Services, Marketing, Operations, and Funding and Financial Projection.
Thinking of yourself as a business, puts you into a perspective that forces you to think of the 'real world' aspect of life. So many individuals that I know who went to art school, got out with a head filled with confidence, quickly found that they are/were failing in promoting themselves in the industry. Therefore, the earlier you think of yourself as a living business out to make a living on your product, and understanding what you have to do to get there, puts you in a good mindset towards success. But success can be defined in so many different ways. To me, I would define success as this: My work is and will stay active within the industry to a point where I know my art is going to go down in the History of Illustration, Yes being financially stable is one big part of it, btu to know that how it feels to you your art will be looked on by generations after to; to know your work brings new perspectives, opens more doors, and promotes intelligence, growth, and uniqueness, well I can say that would be a feeling I will look forward to in the future.
Just have to work hard to get there!

Module 8 (July 9-11) and Module 9  (July 12-15):

These modules were quite time consuming. I won't post the assignments here, but they consisted of research current Art Directors or individuals that reflect the hiring process for illustrators in publishing companies. Along with that, we would have to research these individuals finding out their contact information, any other connection they may have, who that have hired and worked, in terms of illustrators, in the industry, and how my work reflects their list of illustrators they have worked with.
This was challenging. Not in the way that it was a lot of work (research usually isn't a hard task for me), but the fact that I had to work with the portfolio I have now to align myself with these 50 contacts. My portfolio is not there yet. I am in the process of working on a few projects, but they won't be complete portfolio worthy product right now.
Also, I feel that, in a years time, some of the people I have researched may not be there or may change their information by the time I really start researching and sending out mailers (Spring semester).

Module 6 (July 2-4) and Module 7 (July 5-8):

I enjoyed focusing on understanding how to promote oneself. These modules focused on establishing a design for a business card, update resume, and develop a tear sheet. Before this I didn't know what a tear sheet was. Now I do, but, like I keep saying so many times, I am in need to update my portfolio and get a professional website. I used what I have at the moment to give up-to-date images,but these are not going to be something I will be using for myself.
At the moment, I am working on my self portrait piece, which is now prepped, stretched, and ready to be painted. This piece I hope will come out the way I want it to: Professional, well executed, and a great understanding of values/laying with the watercolor and gouache.
Speaking of gouache, I will be trying out my new Holbein Arcylica Gouache set with this one! Quite excited for that.
looking at these images though, I am happy with them. Even with the small amount of professional work I have made this past month and a half, I have a lot to work with. I will tell you that I did take some important aspects out of this project:
1. Business cards should have you name, email, and website on both sides
2. My work is becoming more focused
3. I am getting somewhere
                   Business Card Design Front                                  Business Card Back

Resume (with little Meelo in the corner)

Tear Sheet Design

Module 4 (June 25-27) and Module 5 (June 28-July 1):

These modules reflected on the ideas revolving around obtaining reference, clients, and understanding one's market. The assignment was to make a list of 50 clients that I would 'contact' whom influence the hiring process for illustrators. But, I have a problem with mine. Yes, I did the list, but my professor gave really good insight about my list. I included a lot of even higher ups in the companies/publishing companies I was looking into. Not that they don't get involved in illustrators/hiring process, they are not the ones that look at your work first. Some do make the final decision whether to hire an artist or not (as I have seen in their job descriptions), but not the first decision. Therefore, this is what my professor said:

..."The issue that I have with your list is that 80% of it revolves around three companies (Simon & Schuster, Random House & Scholastic). And while technically you may have 50 contacts, a big chunk of them are not responsible for hiring illustrators. When researching a company look for art directors, creative directors and art buyers. All the rest: vice presidents, publishers, editors, etc, won't be the indicated persons to give you work. And while all three companies have enough names to fill your list, you're limiting yourself to other publishers that might hire you."

And he is very right. Though I want to work with those companies (along with Little, Brown Books, Penguin Books, and Tor Books), I did limit myself. There are more publishing companies out there, I just have to look some more. 

And I will be truthful, I feel that a weeks time doesn't give one enough time to figure out a list of 50 contacts. Also, people change positions in companies, and even change companies, who is to say that some of the individuals I have found will be there by next year? I plan on updating this list when my last semester rolls by (or even juts starting fresh).

Module 2 (June 18-20) and Module 3 (June 21-24):


In an essay of 800-1000 words, you are to evaluate your goals, focus, and ambitions both for your
thesis and for your career as an illustrator.

Create a Needs Analysis of Your Portfolio

Use the following suggested outline as a guide for your essay:

1. Introduction: Begin by briefly indicating your goals and ambitions as an illustrator, the type of work that you want to do, and the markets and opportunities for it.

2. Professional Landscape: What are the potential markets for your work? What kind of assignments do you want to pursue? Who are the most obvious potential markets for your work? Identify three targeted clients. Next, who is your competition? Identify three competitors currently active in the field. Provide websites for each of them, and one example of work for each. (If they don’t have a website, choose
another artist).

3. Competition: Choose one of the artists from Step 2. Write a brief professional profile that includes
where he/she went to school, how he/she got started, major clients, awards, etc. Why is this person so
successful? What makes the work so effective? What problems does he or she solve for their clients?
What can you learn from them to inform your own work? (Note: “Nothing” is an unacceptable answer and will result in an immediate “F.”)

4. Specific Market: Identify a leading company in the field you want to work in. Profile the company by including a brief history, including significant products and developments. What does this company expect from its illustrators? How does it use illustration? Explain why you selected this company, and why you think it is a good match for your work.

5. Needs Analysis: Using the content from Module 2, and your competition and specific market as
guides, review your thesis project work. Identify what your thesis project needs to make a compelling
portfolio that can meet the requirements of your market and compete with your competition. Try to
remain as objective as you can, and use the skills from your course critiques to evaluate your work.
Look at your work through the eyes of someone you want to pay you for it.

6. Conclusion: Identify and pinpoint areas in your existing work that may need to be revised or
redone. Also, describe the next illustration or illustrations that you will create to address these
needs in your portfolio. While you won’t be doing any of these illustrations for this class, it is
never too soon to begin planning the next pieces for your portfolio. Remember that your
portfolio, like your education as an illustrator, is an ongoing process that continues in the
professional world.

Illustrators contain so much power, to themselves, for themselves, to be able
to complete their goals in the art world and in their life. Goals include, but are not
limited to:

1. Getting published
2. Finding their niche
3. Becoming a Master in the medium they wish to work in
4. Create work that provides a living income (especially to pay off the loans)
5. To inspire
6. To create
7. To create work you love

All goals in which I want to achieve, in addition to inspiring others through teaching. Like many illustrators I know, they inspire outside of the books and bring their knowledge into the classroom. I am lucky to be surrounded by schools growing in the education field, especially talk of new MFA in Illustration degrees in need (or will be in need) of professors. I hope to be in that field alongside a career in the Children's Book market. Work is abundant. There is a high demand in horse books, fantasy illustration, and animal illustration; all of which are subjects I specialize in and wish to pursue throughout my illustration career. And, I am very lucky to be located 2 hrs away from Boston and 3 hrs away from New York City; the breeding grounds for big publishers (whom I plan on getting in contact with).

The Children's Book industry is considered its own market with segments within it. This includes advertising, middle-grade, cover art/design, young adult, interior book illustration, and baby books. I personally want to explore the middlegrade, cover art/design, young adult, and interior book illustration segments. There are many publishers that hold great power in the book world in terms of selecting certain artists that reflect my work's interest (horses, animals, fantasy, sci-fi).

Though I am asked for a few examples of big Publishers, I will give a list a several that I am looking into:

1. Random House
2. Scholastic Press
3. Penguin Putnam Inc.
4. Harper Collins
5. Simon & Schuster
6. Tor

They are huge companies filled with opportunity and I hope to work with one of the ( I already have an in with the Editor for Simon & Schuster). Each of these hold many amazing illustrators whom I look up to as artists and as individuals. Yet, they are my competition. Even so, they will always remain my inspirations. Three artists I look up to (even though it was so difficult to narrow down my inspirations to only 3) are John Howe, Toni DiTerlizzi, and Ruth Sanderson.

Now, to be clear, these three artists are very active in the world of illustration. They are highly professional and way beyond the idea to categorize them as 'competitors,' yet, I also to think of them as such because I will enter their worlds in the illustration galaxy! And to consider your inspirations as competition, makes you work that much harder. The following are links to their websites:

John Howe

Toni DiTerlizzi

Ruth Sanderson

Even though I look up to each of these illustrators, and I would love to focus on each of them, yet I will stick to Tony DiTerlizzi. The next portion of information can be found on his website

Tony went to school at Florida School of the Arts and the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale. He graduated with a degree in graphic design in 1992. His first jobs were working as a freelancer for TSR (publisher for Dungeon and Dragons) as well as creating some Magic: the Gathering cards. With a move to NYC in 1996, he began working for Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, which was the start of his now very successful career. He is mostly known for his outstanding Spiderwick Chronicles, with Holly Black. After a decade of other books, and some Dungeons and Dragons, Tony created the Wondla saga. He is a New York Times bestselling author, has won a Caldecott Honor Book award for his The Spider and the Fly, and his Spiderwick Chronicles have sold over 12 million copies to date! His work has been featured in Time magazine, USA Today, CNN, PBS, BBC, and the Today Show.

Why is this person successful one may ask? Well have you looked at his work! He has been active in the field of writing and illustration right out of art school. He has a tremendous amount of work, which shows his dedication to his craft and his knowledge for the field. His work touches all ages. Even though, he is characterized as a middle grade and a young adult writer and illustrator, his work is so vast, unique, confident, relatable, and, just simply put, Masterful. It is obvious that he has molded his brain to be extremely imaginative, which in turn keeps his clients (Simon & Schuster) coming back to him for more. One may look at his work and think Can I truly get there? Through his work I see professionalism, confidence, and a true style. All importance aspects a growing young illustrator, such as myself, hopes to achieve. I look at his work, and, to be truthful, I am overwhelmed with emotion on how beautiful and (there's that word again) Masterful he executes his imaginative images and ideas.

Though I am fond of Tony's publisher, Simon & Schuster, and others like Scholastic Press, I feel, for my style right now, Random House, or Penguin Random House, would be the place to go. They are a vastly diverse publisher, considered the largest general-interest trade book publisher in the world.

Historically, McGraw-Hill Education acquired the Schools and Colleges division of Random House Inc (1). But then, a German conglomerate, Bertelsmann, acquired Random House in 1998. In July 2013, after some business talk of combining their rival conglomerate, Pearson plc, with their publisher house Penguin (2). This is why it is respectively called Penguin Random House.

Because they are such a diverse company, I feel that my work fits very well with them. I am an animal illustrator that specializes in horses with a little medieval fantasy mixed in with all that. With those subjects behind me, I am a very diverse individual with skills that are unique and beneficial to any company that would hire me. Random House is so vast, they hold rights to the publications from Dr. Seuss, to G.R.R. Martin, which is why I selected them. Being a publishing house that is very open to all forms of writing and art, there is no way that I wouldn't look into them for employment.

Yet, I have a long way to go to get to that point. Although I do not have any of my 15 pieces for my thesis work started, I will annualized what I have now in terms of my style and progress. I know for a fact that I need more. More of, not just work, but more style-specific rendered works, more subject oriented works, and works that reflects more of the Children's Book industry. Like I said, I am just starting the process in creating this market acceptable portfolio, but I feel that taking this class now is really helping me understand what I am trying to accomplish and where I should go from here. There is not much to say other than that.

In short, I still need to begin my portfolio. I now understand the direction I need to go into to create this portfolio, I just need to begin. I will say, in terms of my current portfolio, I need to get ride of a few of the older pieces (Old Satyr, Baby Bear finds Goldilocks, to name a few). I need to add more narrative works that can show what I can do in terms of perspective, atmosphere, and storytelling ability. I also feel that, even though I love animals, and plan on going into that direction, I need to show that I can do people.

People and children are the main subjects in the Children book market. Therefore, one piece that has been through the thumbnail stages, but not so much refined, is a very much needed self portrait with a child like character.Yet, it is not what others may perceive as a normal self portrait. I plan on portraying myself as a stone pillar, buried in the ground up to collar bone, engraved with amour and holding a sword hilt with a decorative horse pommel (not implying any dark ideas behind being stone, just feel like it would be interesting). I won't be the only one there. I am thinking about developing a small troll-child creature, as if it is a traveler/gypsy, or even a kind of archaeologist, looking at me, examining me in awe, discovering inspiration so to speak. This narrative will be in a forest scene, but I am still debating whether to do a foggy atmosphere or dramatic lighting. Either way, I need to go into the refined sketching stages to figure out what I am trying to 'see.'

Another project I want to work on is creating a few variations of trolls. I have had these ideas of a troll race, with tear shaped heads. One thing I would want, ultimately, is to create a narrative inspired by these individuals. I feel that my character design skills are weak, limited, and not so much grown upon. I am hoping that the class I was recommended and that I am taking in the Fall, Character Design for Animators with Scotland Barnes, will be beneficial in this area. I felt that taking my Children's Book Character Design class online didn't really push me as much as I wanted it to. Not that it was a bad class, just felt that if I was on campus, in a 6 hr class with models in front of me, I would have grown more in that area (plus I want to learn how to make a maquette properly because I feel that is a very valuable skill to know for any illustrative/imaginative market).

Yet, that idea would be a side project I will try to work on, time permitting. Right now, along with my previous self portrait idea, I plan on preparing my thesis some more. Not so much working on final pieces, but the preliminary stages. When I am able to see Bill Maughan when I get back to the west coast, I want to be able to show him that I am prepared to move forward and show him, much like showing a client, what I can do and where I am going with it. I want to be able to have final sketched quality layouts of Black Beauty and Aesop's Fables portions of my thesis by that time. My story about Meelo has a 32 page layout already established, but I want to show it to Bill, get his feedback, improve it, and be able to create final sketches of selected double page spreads towards the end of Fall semester, allowing me to work on my final sketches in the Spring.

As you can see, I have things planned out, and I am hoping to accomplish them within the appropriate time I am given before I graduate in Spring 2016. I am sure that once I talk to Bill, I will be adjusting my schedule, but I will for sure be working my hardest to get to where I want to be. I have been on top of networking, connecting, and researching my market, so I am ready to go once I am good to go.


1. "Random House - Bertelsmann AG" (in German). Archived from the

original on 2013-06-18. Web. June 17, 2015.

2. Edgecliffe-Johnson, Andrew; Wiesmann, Gerrit (26 October 2012)."Penguin

and Random House in deal talks". Media. Financial Times. Web. June 17, 2015.

Module 1 (June 15-17):

Part 1: Website Status Evaluation

In an essay of 500-800 words, describe the status of your website and your plan for either building or updating it by the end of this class. You must have a website to graduate. Use the following suggested format.

1. Website status: Describe your status; if you have a website, include the url/domain name in your essay. Also, describe how you currently use your website, and how up-to-date it is. If you do not have a website, say so.

2. Evaluate the competition. Find two illustrator websites, one that you think is strong and effective, and one that is weak and ineffective. Describe why this is the case for each. Include the url/domain names for each.

3. Describe the website you want to have. If you have one, evaluate it critically and describe how you would update and improve it. If you don’t have one, describe the ideal website you would like to have.

4. Finally, how can you leverage your thesis and portfolio to either build or update your website to make it the ideal one?

Be advised that this is the first step of a semester long process. You will be required to build a web site by the end of the semester.

The status of my website should be deemed “in progress.” This past break, and spring semester, I have been busy accumulating research, information, understanding, and other aspects of the main topic of “what makes me a children's book illustrator.” In addition to networking and developing my work, I dedicated my break to re-vamp my website (blog spot). As of now, I am 85% done with where I want to be for the moment.The last thing to do is to update my portfolio. After my Mid Point review, I had an epiphany moment when I looked back at myself and saw how my style is all over the place but going in a direction. My work has been experimental, focusing on developing my understanding of principles and techniques, where only a few out of the hundreds of drawings I have done are deemed worthy to present in my portfolio.

When evaluating the competition, I will say these individuals are way more advanced than me, so even if I feel one is less 'sufficient' than the other, I still don't mind their layouts since they work for them. I will begin with one of my mentors over here in MA, Ruth Sanderson. Her work is fantastic, strong, beautiful, and unique. She is very successful and really has no need for change of her website. For the younger generation, and the high traffic of artists emerging with their work and promotion , I feel her site would be considered too busy and not to the point. I feel that in a market where self promotion means you have to makes things easy for, let's say, Art Directors to look at, then making things straight forward is beneficial. Yet, Ruth doesn't need to really 'promote' herself like we beginners do, so her site's layout doesn't matter much ( Same with Toni Diterrlizzi, one of my main inspirations! Both his and Ruth's sites are mainly based off of a blog like structure that documents all the events, travels, work, shows, talks, books etc. But they are so diverse in so many different things and events that this style blog suits them perfectly right now. IN terms of two illustrators I admire as well, their websites are very much straight to the point. These are John Howe and Angela Dominguez. I have had the pleasure of having Angela as a professor, and the pleasure to have somewhat frequent email conversations with John, and I have to say, what wonderful people. Their sites are, like I said, straight forward. Their main page has the tabs on top or right in front for easy access to other topics, or sections to click on. There is a clear style promoted with either a slide show or work clearly visible ( and ).

In terms of of the website I want to have, I will be truthful and say that I don't have a preference. There are so many individuals that have so many different structures about their websites, that I will have to do my research on where to start. Right now, I have a blog spot that is serves as a blog, a portfolio, and my Thesis Journal (all of which are separate blogs that are attached by tabs one may click at the top of the page under the header). The main site is I will say that I hope by the end of this class, I will have a .com website purely dedicated to my work and portfolio. The blog has sufficed for now, but I am finding that is it not professional enough. Yes, blogs are important for an artist to voice their thoughts on projects and updates, but a website is the first impression of an artist as a person and their style. I am looking into right now, who seems to be the best option thus far. I have even messaged illustrators I frequently talk to about their websites to get their opinions on the matter (still waiting their reply). In terms of layout, I would like my front 'page' to be a clean layout with groups of work, including my portfolio, sketchbook, published items etc.

When it comes to leveraging my thesis and portfolio, I know that I am in the beginning stages of both these topics' development. Once I create my professional works I will then weed out the 'ok' works, and put more subject oriented, developed, and style oriented works. Like I said, I am very much in the developmental toddler stages of everything. I feel that, taking this class now will really help me get a head start on my professional development as an artist (I feel this class should be taken either the semester before one's final semester or right after your mid pt).