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Friday, February 28, 2014

Heading back to the drawing board...

I don’t know how many of you knew this tidbit, but I was working as an illustrator for 10 years prior to collaborating with Lianne and starting our wonderful joint venture called Swirly Designs.
A big chunk my work was working with magazines on editorial illustrations. What I really enjoyed about working as an illustrator was collaborating with the art directors and working together. Every project was so different it was exciting to research and learn about unfamiliar topics.  
Jumping ahead 20+ years later… I have been getting the urge lately to revisit my illustration roots again. To what extent still not sure yet. My true joy and focus right now is with Swirly, but I love creating and designs with my hands. Here is a sampling of some of my earlier work.
The top tow editorial illustrations were created early 2000 when I did everything by hand. When you made a mistake or a bad color choice you had to start all over again.  I used a Rapidograph technical pen for the line work, adding a base painting of watercolor then added rich color and shading with colored pencils.  The two small images are digital. It made sense to embrace the digital age and start taking my illustrations onto the computer.
The process of working with the art director from copy to sketches to mock-up cover layouts to color to printed piece. Trade magazine cover The Pet Aisle June 2004
This is another digital editorial piece I created back in the day.
So when I heard about this MATS (Making Art That Sells) Bootcamp online course that artist rep Lilla Rogers was offering, I could not miss this opportunity to help me get back in the game. I've never taken an online course before, so I had my concerns. Would I have the time to really focus on the class assignments? Would my rusty computer skills work against me? The course runs for 6 months (Feb-July) and so far I’m very happy to say it’s been a fantastic, rejuvenating, eye opening experience for me and it’s only been one month. 

The course works something like this: The first Monday of the month you get a “mini” assignment and then the following Monday you get your “big” assignment, which you have two weeks to complete and then post to a gallery where everyone can view it. Week three, Lilla shares a surprise tip or advice. You  also get access to a private Facebook group where you can share and connect with your classmates. I really had to force myself to stay away from the group until I had all my ideas /concepts/finish pieces ready so I would not be influenced or swayed by the talented pool of work already growing in the group.

The mini assignment was to research/sketch cuckoo clocks. Not knowing the big assignment yet, you are able to just have fun and play and experiment with your style. As soon as I started sketching my cuckoo clocks they took a holiday theme...hmm how did that happen!
The "big" assignment was now to take your cuckoo clock sketches and incorporate them onto a cell phone case. I was a little torn about the direction I wanted to go in. Do I treat it like another Swirly and create it and sculpt it out of clay? Or do I revisit my illustration roots that I haven’t worked on, in about 8+ years? Reminding myself ....this should be fun..fun..fun! And plus Lianne seeing me start to stress over this, helped me put things into perspective and realize why I’m doing this again.
Once I settled on a style, I decided to create a Merry Time Cuckoo Clock. Going back to working on the computer again actually is not that different than working in clay for me. I found out very quickly that if you don’t have good sketches of your ideas, with color break downs, you end up wasting a lot of time working in circles and getting very frustrated. So I had to step back, figure out  my direction, then I started to enjoy the process again... even though it was taking me longer. Every time Lianne would check in on me she would roll her eyes and bite her tongue about how I do everything on the computer the wrong way and should really use the more keyboard shortcuts!      

After working into the wee hours (I think I was up til 3:30am) here is my finished piece that was submitted:
Lilla's tip in this round was about using color. She challenged us to try incorporate a particular color palette into our illustration. To my surprise my illustration palette was very close to hers. (great minds think alike!) So I decided to challenge myself again and work on a second version playing with color. I like the yellow version, but ultimately I decided that  blue would be more marketable for this assignment.
 Go check out mine and see 350+ other artists who participated in this Cuckoo Clock Cell phone assignment at Lilla Rogers website here. 
Thanks for letting me share and taking you on my creative journey.
~ Paul 

1 comment :

  1. Hi Paul...don't know if you will remember me, but I have been collecting Swirlys for a looooong time. This year, I was the one that missed the Valentine opening day and missed out on some pieces. You were kind enough to send me a few that you still had!

    Anyway, I checked back in today to see when the Easter/Spring pieces were going to be available and came across your post here. I love you cuckoo clock cell phone cover! Only wish someone would design ones for Samsung Galaxy SIII! Anyway, keep up the fabulous work and thank you for sharing your journey.



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