Between 1983 and 1984, an amazing thing happened to U.S. television. Programs such as Transformers, Thundercats, Dungeons & Dragons, and Voltron were all released within 18 months of one another, forever changing the way a whole generation would think of cartoons.
Being a child at the time, these cartoons had a major influence on me, and I have no doubt that they helped spawn my interest in Fantasy Art.
All of the above mentioned titles were amazing.... but the king of them all had to be He-Man.
With 130 episodes, and an extensive line of toys that held as much importance as the cartoon itself, it's not surprising that this icon has lived on to spawn numerous movie remakes, and countless amounts of fan art.
Robert Lamb, who served as a writer and storyboard artist for the He-Man cartoon, has recently posted some wonderful scans of the original concept art for the show on his website. Now, as far as I know, these scans are not of Robert's work. He did storyboards. These images are scans of preliminary layouts that he found in the DUMPSTER behind Filmation Studios!!! Thank God someone had the sense to save these beautiful drawings.
Take a look at the numbers in the corner. The MU (Master of the Universe) stands for the episode in which the painted background would appear. The BG (background), denotes the number of the painting. By episode 24 (boarded out of sequence), they had already painted 241 different backgrounds! That's an amazing amount of work, especially since He-Man was one of the first cartoons to be produced directly for syndication, and required 65 completed episodes before even airing.
Being a Father of two boys, I still watch a lot of children's programming. I would conservatively estimate that about 75% of cartoons today aimed at children younger than 7 years old, are produced entirely digitally. Obviously, this has it's own merits, most notably efficiency. But it does instill in me a longing for hand-drawn animation, and new found appreciation for the massive amount of work that went into those old cartoons I loved so much.
You can see these pictures, and a bunch of others, including Robert's storyboard work at:
For those interested, all 33 episodes of Season 1 can be viewed for free on both YouTube and Hulu.
While working on the Anne Frank storyboards that I mentioned in my last post, I also got the chance to work on a side project with Dario, a short comic called Sulphur and Dana. Dario was encouraging a friend, Steed Gamero, to flex his creativity through writing. With the help of Roberto Malini, the screenplay writer for Dear Anne, they came up with a beautiful and visual story that I had the joy, as well as challenge, to illustrate. I was quite proud of my work, which was only in black and white, but when Dario added his colors to the pages it brought the entire comic to life. This was years ago, and I don’t think it went much further than a writing competition in Italy, but now there is a new version of this story for the Ipad, still a comic, but with some subtle movement in the panels for mood. Below I included the add page as well as link if anyone is interested in seeing one possible way of making E-comics. Dario is the mastermind behind this new version and I must say that he makes me look good J.
Every now and then I get asked what I do for inspiration.
Some mistakenly believe that I torment my sister's cat for inspiration. Others believe that I methodically hunt down and destroy endangered species. And still others suspect that I build giant robots and plan an invasion of Mars.
I assure you this is not true. I like good music and fine literature.
I always bring a hardback sketchbook with me on these trips, and try to have easy access to it. Every time I come back from one of these trips I have hundreds of new thumbnails a ideas for new projects I want to undertake. The odd scribbles and tiny thumbnails made on the trail may get turned into something larger and they may not, but the impression of it all never quite leaves me. It will always be somewhere in the back of my head, waiting for a chance to find its way onto paper.
By John Jude Palencar
Merry Christmas everyone. A few years ago I had the opportunity to stop by Andrew Wyeth's home. No - I don't know Mr. Wyeth personally but I did sit in his driveway with fellow Wyeth-nut and art instructor Ralph Giguere from the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, Pa. (Great School BTW). I was a "Visiting Artist" at the University. These pics of Andy's home were taken a couple of years before he passed away. I did meet Jamie many years ago and I always thought I would get to meet his father.
Some how I think it was for the better that I never met him..... he will always remain mysterious and larger than life in my imagination.
First off, I'm not downing formal education. I'm just asking if it's worth getting into $120 thousand dollars worth of debt not to mention the interest for four to six years of college. Especially in our current economic state.
So what does school offer us? Hopefully, teachers and peers who can assist in pushing us to be better than we are(ultimately we have to be our hardest critic). There's also access to facilities and opportunities to produce and experiment in. But these are really just opportunities the student can take advantage of not. You can't force someone to get better. It's a choice to pursue, a decision to push ourselves, to be on time with assignments, to stay after class to finish the still life or do extra reading etc. There's an intrinsic incentive for us to master the craft of our choice. We all know of self trained painters, illustrators, and musicians who are amazing at what they do.
Today we have more access to information than ever before. Let's list some:
- illustration tutorials on dvd that deal with technique process, business aspects etc
- illustration workshops like "Illustration Masters Class" where you may pay a fee for a professional ass kicking and intensely constructive experience.
- art books, the library is free
- video demos online( learned a lot about Photoshop from CMYKilla)
- all types of online art forums where one can get critical feedback from the art community of the world(take everything with a grain of salt}
- art blogs, personal and collective... I'd list some but I'm blanking out right now.
- attending conventions, lectures, and demos to observe, ask questions, and get feed back from professionals
- taking advantage of museums and galleries to view original works
- online classes such as "Schoolism"
- private internships
- You can also find the contact information of your favorite artist and ask some specific questions. I try to answer as many as I can fit into my schedule as well as email others for advice.
Thankfully, there are scholarships to help kids with paying for school. I could be wrong but I would assume the kids who get the scholarships are the same kids who are drawing and producing art even when they don't have to because they want to get better.
Even if you were interested in a Masters Program you could look up the list of professors that you would be learning from and read up on literature written by said professors.
My point is there is an abundance of information out there. You have the same options you have in art school. You can take it or leave it. The choice is yours. We all know people in school who didn't take the time to do the work. School is only as good as you make it. Going to the best art school doesn't make the best artist.
Is staying at home or even with some of your art buddies and learning/practicing via these alternative methods(the same methods artists use even after graduating college)as good as going to an art school? Maybe not. Maybe so and it's just a different learning experience minus the debt. Again, it depends on how much the individual is putting into mastering their craft. The art school environment is great and if art school wasn't so expensive I wouldn't be writing this blog post. Can you get educated for a lot less than it cost to attend art school? What are your personal school experiences/regrets? Would you do it differently if you could?
A few months ago, Jon Schindehette (the main art buyer/director) at Wizards of the Coast asked me to write a post for his blog, Art Order, about how I broke into the illustration industry ( I highly recommend Jon's blog for insightful, informative and vital information about not only breaking into the business, but also great advice on how to stay in the loop!)
In that posting, I mentioned generating a handful of book cover samples back in 1992, fresh out of college, for my then 'pending' representative Sal Barracca. Sal had seen my work at a portfolio review and expressed interest in working with me if I could generate some appropriate samples for the book cover marketplace. Anyone asking you to generate six highly detailed and complex images for a client before they hire you would seem out of this world crazy...Go take a hike Man!!...but that is exactly what I did.
Actually, there was no limit on how many samples I would have needed, or was willing, to create- four, six, eight - I kept showing up on Sal's doorstep like clockwork month after month after month with a new sample painting and drawing- asking for his critical input, absorbing those comments, implementing the changes, and moving onto the next work. These sample images were critical in introducing to Sal my working methods and commitment to professionalism and were all targeted towards the fantasy and science fiction book cover industry, taking in considerations for type design, appropriate figure content and knowledge of the current marketing trends. My first images were not strong enough for Sal to put his reputation on the line to represent me, I had to prove to him I was capable and consistent enough to deliver professional quality jobs before I could accept a professional level commission.
This awareness that it was not my reputation which was at stake, but rather his changed my whole impression of how I deal with clients. When an art director hires you, yes, your name will be on the art, but it is the art director who must answer to everyone else in their place of business if a project stumbles, a deadline is blown , a budget exceeded or, heaven forbid, just plain bad art is turned in. They may have far more to loose than the artist does, an issue I had not really thought of until I worked with Sal, and one I keep in the forefront of my mind as I work on every new project. Illustration is a collaborative process.
Here are those first six samples. There is no sample for August as I was moving to New York City that month and recovering from a critically damaging eye injury which destroyed the macular region of my right eye (the part that lets you see detail, and yes it was permanently destroyed). So I had a few good excuses! But that didn't slow me down much...
The final sample is unfinished, the last time I touched it was the day Sal called with my first professional commission!
20" x 30"
oil on panel
My first sample, created just one month out from Syracuse University.
24" x 36"
Oil on panel
Sample number two
The Sword and the Pen
20" x 28"
Oil on panel
Sample number three
Gwindor at Angband
24" x 39"
oil on panel
Sample number four
20" x 30"
Oil on Panel
Sample number five
24" x 36"
Oil on panel
Sample number six
The T-Rex head was build by Paul Bonner believe it or not. It is shaped by toiletpaper and glue with a frame of wire.