Sunday, January 25, 2009

State of the Union: Part 6

Review your responses to the above questions. What sort of an illustrator are you?
One with lofty goals and aspirations, that are probably more achievable than I realize now, maybe. I think of myself primarily as a storyteller first, using illustration and animation to get my voice heard and hopefully having fun in the process. I think right now I'm really trying hard to find a comfortable working process and within this process a skill set that I'm continually sharpening. I'm also trying to learn as many ideas and techniques (traditional and digital) that may help me along the way.

What sort of career do you want to have?

One where I can switch work on both graphic novels and animation and hopefully because of the nature of my career I'll get to travel to places a little bit.
I care very much about West African stories and history so I'll probably be devoting my career to achieving some awareness of that material.I know for certain that I wouldn't mind earning my stripes in an animation/ production or video game studio for a while, but as soon as I feel confident enough, I'd like to start my own personal self directed projects. Eventually, when I am old and gray and somehow have the means I'd like to start a decent specialized Art school somewhere in Lagos.

Does your present body of work reflect your aspirations? Could it do so more strongly?
Right now going into my final semester, I feel I need a handful of highly polished finished illustrations to get my foot in the working world. I have some I consider usable, but not enough. I'm also unclear in deciding if I should make the subject matter range broader or more personal. Also it wouldn't hurt to finish the animation I'm working on soon, at least before graduation, so I can start sending clips off to studios.

List ten images/themes/techniques/subjects/formats that your portfolio needs in order to become more in line with your aspirations.
_Concept character illustrations (digital)
_Concept environment illustrations (digital)
More Illustrations involving a group of people interacting with an environment
_more loose quick studies of subjects like movement studies (traditional)
_a polished comic spread
_some handmade books?
_a z-brush beauty render sculpt of a character
_more color key studies of illustrations
_a couple of illustrations without scanned in textures.
_maybe more science fiction/fantasy themed illustrations (nothing kitschy I hope)

State of the Union: Part 5

If you had to spend the rest of your life illustrating one book, what would it be? Why?
I suppose I'm sort of a one trick pony, but if it was for the rest of my life it would have to be some sort of compendium or collection of West African/ Yoruba myths, tales, and legends type of book. I would be able to work on it with my brother as both of us have already discussed such a project. It would be a great alternative to animation, although it might not reach as wide an audience as I'd hope, and it would be a great way to showcase aspects of a culture and its nuances that I haven't seen in much of any worthwhile media at all. I suppose that part of the allure is that it is pretty much an untapped goldmine and their seem to be no limitations besides my own imagination and effort that could possibly ruin the venture. Finally I'd like it to have a style that's unique to me or my brother, something that doesn't say 'Africa' in the stereotypically depressing sense. I expect it would have a great balance of humor and light-heartedness interspersed with some socio-political problems that face the countries of West Africa. Also it would take on experimental graphic novel formats as well as encyclopedia/compendium style illustrations and info about intersting characters, history and places in West Africa. If it got good enough, i definitely wouldn't mind hiring guest artists to illustrate some stories or characters e.g Jason Shawn Alexander. I think I would like the magazine to be called Ase, which is Yoruba for life force/soul/ spirit.

If you could go apprentice with any two artists in the history of the world, who would they be? Why?
August Rodin because of his unique insight into the human form and it's expression on paper and in sculpture and Edmund Dulac to understand his color theory and most of his techniques.

If you were banned from the art world, but could have any career you wanted that wasn't in art, what would it be? Why?
Architecture is art so that's out of the question, so probably archeology, which was actually one of the first ever career aspirations I developed in elementary school. I guess its part romanticism, part love for all things history and science, plus I'd get to travel.

Describe the project you would propose under the following circumstances. Describe the project in detail: what would it be, how would you spend the money, how would you schedule the time alloted, and how would the work be presented upon completion? 1) You have one month and one thousand dollars (all of which must be spent on art expenses). 2) Six months and ten thousand dollars. 3) One year and one hundred thousand dollars.
1. I would create a large wall sized banner (10x30) consisting of illustrations of unique scenes in Lagos and its denizens in one of the major markets in the 90s. Either Oshodi, Tejuosho, Mushin would be depicted with heightened reality (mental exagerations) highlighting positive and negative aspects of society all set against the backdrop of the tumultuous time of Military government. First I'd buy a large HDMi 30 inch monitor ($400), then I'd hook it up to my existing computer, buy some good paper ($50), a $150 scanner and then the rest would be for its printing. I would spend a week doing research and sketches, then execute the piece in 2 weeks, and leave the rest of the time for printing and set up hopefully presented in a safe public space that is not a gallery.
2. A 2 part 200 page graphic novel based on the life of the two historic kings of Mali, Sundiata and Songai. I'd spend the first month traveling to Mali, taking reference pictures, buying books, visiting relevant sites and the history relating to the story doing preparatory sketches along the way. That whole trip would cost about $3500 or so. I'd spend 2 weeks writing the story, revising it if need be over the months. I would send the script, research and sketches to publishers at this point. Upon approval or interest from a publisher I'd spend $3000 on materials (computer, software, ink, paper, paint, etc) and get to work over the next 4 months. I'd spend the rest of the money on replenishing materials and printing tests of the book. Hopefully if there would be time and money left I'd make more sketches and presentation illustrations that could accompany the book. I'd send off a test copy to the publishers relating to them that I'd like to overlook the presentation of the book, cross my fingers and hope for the best.
3. A 20- 35 minute animated short of course, based on a story that I've been writing recently about a girl from a middle class Lagosian family who gets kidnapped and apparently left in a ancient forest of spirits outside of the city. The first 2 months would be used for the script, concept art storyboard and animatic. The next 6 months will be used for animation, modelling, and the final four months will be for rendering, lighting, sound, and post production work. I would need to acquire equipment and software needed for the project ($25000). I'd need to hire three animators, a concept artist, a sound technician, and composer, which would require 11 months of salary for the animators and concept artist ($1000 a month), and 6 months of pay for the sound technician ($1000 a month) and $1500 for 3 months for the composer's services ($43500 in total). $6000 for a year of utilities, $8000 for lunches and other activities throughout the year, and $2000 to backup information on external and secure servers. The $15500 left would be used to find market and generate interest in the animation, and entering it into film festivals and competitions world wide trying to get it as much publicity as possible. Hopefully it'll end up in enough theatres in the world to generate interest for a DVD/ Digital distribution release.

State of the Union: Part 4

List ten illustrators whose work you admire, or whose career you would like to emulate. Who are their clients? What sort of work do those clients look for?
1. Mathieu Bessudo is an illustrator whose work I greatly enjoy because others in the past have tried to work in a similar style that he does ( the crazy rubber hose animtion look), but none have achieved the easy and zany nature of his that defines his work. Plus he does animation as well, which is what I want to do. He works for The Mill in England as an animator and freelances with Heaven Paris

2. I recently found Frank Stockton's work while looking through a group of artists with similar styles. I greatly admire his line quality and use of flat colors. He also experiments with various media making him quite versatile. Some of his clients are Boston Magazine, Esquire Russia, Best Life Germany, Mens Health, etc

3. I recently happened upon the works of Polish surrealist Jacek Yerka. His handling and rendering of environments is quite unique. He bends perspective and planes of objects to create more outlandish worlds. He does book covers occasionally, but sells a lot of his paintings directly.

4. I first encountered Eyvind Earle's work in the Disney's Sleeping Beauty (he did the background) when I was about 5 or 6 yrs old. A couple of months ago I stumbled across his website and I think he is one of those artists that will inspire me till the end of my days. Eveytime I see his paintings I just have to sit and study them for a little bit.
He has worked for companies like Disney and Universal Studios, but only on commision, he sells his art in galleries.

5. Russ Mills is a British illustrator whose work is interesting, but for a while now doesnt have very much depth to it. His use of paint splatter and loose paint strokes to define form is great, but he never uses it for anything but figures it seems.
His past clients are Them London, US Playstation Mag, The Royal Court Theater, etc.

6. Mike Mignola is an artist I've greatly admired for some years now. He has worked on his own comic book creation for years now (Hellboy) with a signature style and has managed to have time to work on movies and animation
. He has worked for DC, Dark Horse comics, Disney, etc

7. Everyone's favorite illustrator James Jean. He must have a timeless void that he retreats to, to be a ble to produce work so prolificly.
He has worked with DC/ Vertigo, Rolling Stone, Atlantic Records,etc

8. Sam Weber is a great guy and an artist whose work seems mystifying and never ceases to surprise me. He has worked for The New York Times, Soul Pepper theatre, Time Magazine, The New Yorker, Scholastic, etc.

9. Emanuel Malin is a French artist that uses flat shapes and textures in a manner I've never seen before. His clients include Imagine FX magazine, Brandweek Magazine, and illustrations for Spicy horse Studios, and Wanda Productions.

10. Sylvain Chomet is a French animator and illustrator whose work seems to be a technical paradigm of what most would call European style illustration. However, it's Chomet's storytelling and quirky humor that sets him apart. Has created commercials for Swissair, Renault and Principality, but has since formed his own animation studio called Django Studios

Find ten magazines you think you could work for. Consider both the content of the magazine and the type of illustration, if any, that they use.
_National Geographic
_Computer Arts Magazine
_Itsart Magazine
_Digital Arts Magazine
_Hi Fructose Magazine
_EGM- Electronic Gaming Monthly
_3x3 Magazine
_Frames Per Second Magazine

If you were starting your own magazine and your livelihood depended on it selling well and your sanity depended on it being something you wanted to spend all your time on, what would it be? What sorts of writers and artists would you hire? What subject matter would it deal with? How would you want it to look?

Well, first of all I'd really be scared for my lively hood because not many magazines make it today due to the internet, and most of them have internet counterparts anyway. It would probably be a magazine of short story collections (those already exist right). They could take on any format as long as they could fit within alotted pages. All short stories would have to have at least one illustration accompanying them. The Subject matter would be African myth and culture (contemporary and historical). I would hire writers from a broad range of genres whose work I admire such as Wole Soyinka, Philip Pullman, mayber even Chinua Achebe, if literary greats like that cared about small fry stuff. I'd like artists like to work with a lot of the artists above, but mostly to see what kind of spin they'd put on the visuals of an African tale, but mostly I'd like to start a program seeking out indigenous skilled African students. I'd be willing to experiment with its format and aesthetic, but I would be a huge stickler for the way it would be printed and bound.

List ten non-magazine clients that you would like to work with. Why are these dream clients?

1. Naughty Dog- this is a video game company based in California that have been making some of my favorite games for the past decade. I love their concept art team's art direction and their animation is second to none in the industry.
2. Team Ico- A Japanese development team that created my favorite video game of all time, Shadow of the Colossus. Really great, original, character design along with phenomenal animation.
3. Dark Horse (Abe Sapien)- Wouldn't mind doing a run on the newly created Abe Sapien comic. Mostly because the Hellboy series and its spin off have elements of the supernatural storytellin and humor that I enjoy.
4. Working on a Pixar production. I thoroughly enjoy and respect their movies, but I'd mostly like to work for them because of the experience.
5. Designing a new Lego toy line! Of course because Lego was my favorite toy when I was a kid and I still think its brilliant stuff.
6. Doing architectural concept drawings for any one that has enough money to fund the project. Architecture is a second love of mine.
7. Working on an illusrated version of the his Dark Materials trilogy. I love the stories the worlds and the characters in the book.
8. I'd like to work on a special issue of Tintin, mostly because of nostalgia. Tintin is a character whose history has been criticised and adored, however despite obvious flaws found in the comics, it was one of my favorite books as a kid and I still enjoy it.
9. I'd like to someday do a mural with my dad and brother.
10. Work with a ad agency/organisation in Nigeria to come up with a marketing plan that raises awareness of African history and culture. I feel that government eduaction in many parts of Africa is not doing enough to educate the youth in society. My idealistic thinking is that good worthwhile media can help to soften that blow till the eduation system is organised.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

State of the Union: Post 3

Describe your typical creative process, from getting an assignment to finished piece.
The first step I take is to sketch a couple of notions that are rattling around in my brain based on the problem. I started doing this to compare them to my informed concept sketches based on research. Sometimes humor or methods to play with that naivety are put to good use. The second step is to do as much internet and library based research as possible. This of course helps me understand the subject better, dispel misconceptions, and most importantly (I think for me anyway) helps me develop an augmented visual vocabulary that aids communication. The next step is to play around with compositions and the acquired ideas and visual references to not only communicate the ideas but also to express my own personal voice and perspective. After the sketches and thumbnails have been narrowed down to the strongest I decide based on what I would like to draw most. Next I execute the piece in either charcoal or ink wash depending on whether I need precision or atmosphere. After that is done, I scan the piece in and color digitally make corrections and touch up the composition and lighting. Also because of my personal illustrative aesthetic, I use scanned in images and textures to add a little visual interest to pieces.

Describe what you think your creative process should be like?

I wish I would include color key sketches into my process and I have seen artists like James Jean using a light box to refine sketches and iron out problems and add flourishes via this method. I would like to use these processes but I often get impatient and end up ignoring them.

Research and describe a professional creator's creative process.
Sam Weber's creative process is one that I've admired for a while because of the process and how consistent his final illustrations are. Also I have found that his creative process is similar to mine, and have found several different methods of his that I have tried to apply to my illustration. He starts sketching after a little research because he says he doesn't want to limit his own imagination. He finds his own sketching (which he does with ink or ink washes) his strongest ability and bases his final illustrations on the experiments, general shapes and spontaneity of his sketches. The most amount of technical energy goes into this step, as Sam Weber says without this vital foundation the digital step doesn't not work at all. He then takes this final ink illustration and adds accents of color or and and adds muted color overlays to the rest of the image. To add a layer of visual depth and atmosphere he then uses textures and 'accidental' marks to add the human touch back into the image. However Weber mentions that recently he has been trying to distance himself from using the computer in many aspects of his work.

Friday, January 23, 2009

State of the Union: Post 2

Choose five doodles or sketches that you like as much as any of your finished pieces.

Of the artwork
you have done, what is your personal favorite piece? Why do you like it?

I recently worked on a series of illustrations for the bazaar. I enjoyed working in this specific style technically because I was able to explore my tendencies toward flat shapes and line interacting with textures. I also got to use color more intentionally and with more awareness than I ever previously did. Lastly the free choice of subject matter ranging from abstractions of Nigerian Egungun masquerades to fanciful Hausa pipe players. My favorite in the series was the illustration below, mostly because I enjoyed the process of doing the actual charcoal drawing, the flatness of the final piece, an aesthetic I have begun leaning toward.

What piece do other people like most? Do you agree? Why do you think they like it?

Out of the series mentioned above I got the most positive criticism from this illustration
. I think it garnered good responses because of the textures and the way they interact with the flat shapes to create motion and an interesting composition. Also I think stylization of figures adds a layer of visual interest to the image.

What piece surprised you the most?
A piece I did in Drawing and Composition about 2 years ago surprised me because I had never really considered 2 things ever working effectively: two picture planes merged to create a more interesting composition and using several overlapped drawings within one picture plane to create layers of visual interest and otherwise unexpected shapes in a composition

Thursday, January 22, 2009

State of the Union

Illustration 5 is here! and to begin we have the State of the Union. A series of daily blog posts based on questions tailored to discover the core of 'illustrator voices.'

Post 1:

What media do you like working in?

I tend to enjoy sketching with charcoal, and when things work out with ink washes they can be fantastic because of its inherent spontaneity, and in the last couple of months I started enjoying using graphite for finished character studies. However, for finished pieces I more than always start traditionally (ink or charcoal) then paint color and add textures to the final steps of the illustration in Photoshop.

What media do you hate working in?

I have developed a dislike for acrylic even though I've tried recently to return to the medium. I also despise pencil colors.

List three non-Illustration classes that have influenced you and/or your work positively.

Life Drawing- taught me that the rate at which you draw the human figure can drastically improve your technical and observational skills and that I also have a bit of a problem with pacing drawings. A life drawing blog I follow is here.
Drawing and Composition- the class affirmed hazy notions of mine about the power of composition and its uses other than making the picture 'fancy.' Also found out a load of painters that broke it down to a science and that color can be an important element of composing art. Composition is essential to me because its important for storytelling and as an aspiring animator, that's fairly important.
Color Studies: Ah, how little I knew and still did about the science of color and how for centuries artists have used color relationships to create wonder. Getting a taste for the techniques used in color theory revitalized my perceptions of color as an artist's tool.
Contemporary concepts in drawing was also good for conceptual and technical problem solving.

How has the work of your peers influenced you and your work?
Mostly in realizing that in comparison with my peers, the scope of my ideation process can be limited. I do a lot of research but not enough effort in realizing the sketches. I tend to get one good idea and stubbornly stick to it.

What sort of subject matter do you like to create work about?
I enjoy creating art based on West African Myth and legends, and West African history that has a heightened sense of reality. I also enjoy drawing from life adding my own mental exaggerations and of course making art based on stories I create. I wouldn't mind illustrating a couple of books like Phillip Pullman's his Dark Materials or Wole Soyinka's
The Interpreters.

What sort of subject matter do you like to read about?
I read a lot of collections of West African folk tales, myth and history, a lot of graphic novels with varying subject matter. Recently I've been trying to read different religous texts out of curiosity, and about how stuff works (like lightbulbs) For as long as I can remember adventure fantasy although I'll only read them now if they come highly recommended, although ultimately,I think I'll read anything that is more than averagely interesting.

What kind of music do you like?

Ah music. Music always affects me profoundly (as does everyone of course), but for some reason I can't generate the effort or devote time toactively seek it out. I usually just stick to tried and tested musicians or bands. There are some favorite genres though like Afro beat (Fela and Femi Kuti), Jazz, and very specific Electronica (Massive attack, Chromeo, etc). I also enjoy movie sound tracks which is how I discovered Michael Nyman who created the soundtrack for Gattaca.

What non-art related interest/hobbies/skills do you have?
I like watching and playing soccer, cooking (when there's time), used to be a Lego enthusiat, but no time for that anymore, juggling

What is something that you like that nobody else likes?
the taste of Mouthwash

If you had run of the world's museums, what three works of original art would you like own?
Umberto Boccioni's Unique Forms of Continuity in Space 1913
Auguste Rodin's Monument to the Burghers of Calais 1889
Luis Baragan's Cuadra San Cristobal, completed in 1968
Heinrich Kley's sketchbooks