Thursday, March 6, 2008

Atlanta Arts Forum

A couple of weeks ago we had the Atlanta Arts Forum, our version of the Savannah Comics Forum. We had a great batch of pros at the school – Eric Canete, , Yuko Shimizu, James Jean, and Andrew Robinson. They did a talk that was open to the public at the opening, answering questions and the like.

Yuko and James

Afterwards Shawn, Nolan Woodard, Pat Quinn, me, Justin Wagner, Doug, Eric, James, Andrew, Yuko, and a few of the illustration students and professors went to Ted’s Montana Grill, where I got AMAZING lemonade, Knob Creek, and my perennial order, Ted’s Kitchen Sink Burger. The Kitchen Sink Burger is Bison, Blue Cheese, Sautéed Mushrooms, Onion, Lettuce, Tomato, Fried Egg, Bacon, Cheese, and a nice mustard sauce. I love that burger, even though finishing it is invariably a torso cramp in waiting.

James gives his recipe for success

I took Yuko’s workshop on the business end of freelance illustration. Yuko is an amazing illustrator who teaches at SVA in New York. The workshop was INCREDIBLY helpful. I’m waiting until Crogan’s is finished (time management issues) before trying to get regular illustration work, but this has given me tons of ideas and inspiration for doing so, when the time comes.

One of the most interesting aspects to me was her approach to portfolios. The only time I ever put together a portfolio was to try and get into/get a fellowship for SCAD – I’ve never had one since. Usually I have a particular project in mind, and pitch that particular project, which has never necessitated a portfolio. Likewise, I’ve never really expended much effort to get work-for-hire jobs, hoping that word-of-mouth, reputation, and published work will be enough. Granted, my particular publishing goals do not, at this point, call for a portfolio, but man-oh-man, Yuko’s talk got me excited about putting one together.

For the first time, she explained a “science” behind the works in a portfolio and the order in which they should go – colors going into like colors, a work that you used to GET a particular job followed by a commissioned work whose tone was predicated on the “look” of the aforementioned promo piece, spreads, spots, tear sheets, etc... for the first time, I could see an almost narrative styling to the portfolio, and now I’m excited to make one. As I’ve not updated my gallery section in almost a year, I’ll likely do so with these principles in mind.

Andrew showing his thumbnails to Cara, Jackie, and Olu.

The other workshop I took was with Eric Canete. Eric recently did the art for the Iron-Man origin miniseries Enter the Mandarin, which is a model of storytelling. He also is a concept designer and storyboard artist for Cartoon Network’s BEN•10, with a number of other great cartoons under his belt.

Eric is one of those all-to-rare birds, a comic artist with a true understanding of storytelling and narrative principle, on an academic level. His workshop focused on shot placement more than anything else, showing mood and the relationship of the characters to each other by means of the relationship they share in the composition. We talked about Citizen Cane, Heat, using scale effectively, foreshadowing each subsequent panel, etc.

It’s always exciting to have interaction with someone who has such a wealth of understanding of the form, and the students got a lot out of it – it’s great to have pros tell the undergrads (and, I guess the grads) what they hear every day, because that does serve to legitimize it. That every shot, angle, panel break, etc needs to be a conscious decision, made with a good, story-based reason is something that comics needs more of, and I’m confident that a lot of the kids who turn pro from here will adhere to that logic.

Eric being far too forgiving while looking at the Crogan’s originals

I gave Eric and his girlfriend Naomi a ride to the airport, and he was kind enough to pass on all sorts of great stories about the Animation business and working on Iron-Man, and then headed back to Shawn’s where I drew pictures with Zoe, his oldest, who at five is showing serious artist chops, drawing awesome characters and her own interpretations of obscure Kirby characters, like Karcass. Then I drove Andrew to the airport.

That’s it!

Also, I shave my beard in stages again, and made poor Liz take a picture of me before I took the moustache off.


A. Bullett said...

That moustache was working pretty well. I wish I could have been there for the arts forum. It looked great.

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