Monday, April 30, 2012

Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band -- for a Circus Mind

My latest illo for Ryan Cox's rock n' roll poetry book A Circus Mind (see the other illos I've done for this project here)! Clearly, this one is total Beatlemania and more specifically that peerless eclectic conceptual album "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band". Lots of Beatles trivia and imagery in this one!

Prints of this image and more on my Society6 shop.

Naturally I had to incorporate those iconic satin miltary-style uniforms, down to the Ontario Provincial Police  patch on Paul's. As a proud Ontarian I couldn't miss out on that!

The "Sgt. Pepper" name was inspired by Beatles' road assistant Mal Evans asking what the "S" and P" on the little packets accompanying their meal meant -- Paul jokingly responded "Sergeant Pepper". Here's a great read about the album, taken from a Paul McCartney interview. So of course I had to include actual salt and pepper.

There was once a rumour floating around that said John Lennon composed "With a Little Help From My Friends" on the piano with his middle finger after injuring his forefinger: Not true! Still, I added that in for fun. And the song was briefly titled "Bad Finger Boogie", for what it's worth. He's also holding a kite to refer to the song "Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite" which doesn't have much to do with actual kite. I stuck rain and lightning behind John because I wanted to contrast his more moody personality with sunny Paul. And I couldn't resist the classic imagery of someone flying a kite on a stormy day. 

Ringo is holding a revolver because the album previous to Sgt. Pepper was "Revolver". In his other hand is a marshmallow pie, recalling a lyric in "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds". Sgt. Pepper features a lot of Indian instruments, so I stuck a tambura behind Ringo. 

Paul is reading one hand on a tabla (an Indian drum). He's got the Kellogg's Corn Flakes rooster over one shulder because that cereal inspired the track "Good Morning Good Morning". By John's right elbow is a jelly baby. That popular British candy was thrown by fans onto the stage because it was reported that George Harrison liked them. "With a Little Help From My Friends" originally had a line that went "...throw tomatoes at me" but that was revised after the band feared they'd be pelted with tomatoes the same way enthusiastic fans threw jelly babies at them!

George has got a parking meter beside him which symbolizes the eponymous traffic warden of the song "Lovely Rita". The fern and the french horn are callbacks to the original album cover. A true masterpiece!

Tight sketch:
Initial concept sketch:

-- Julia

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Lots of Links and Reviews Part 2: Illustrationmundo

Here's my Illustrationmundo review! Illustrationmundo is a great site to discover and follow illustrators. It's a great place to stick all your widgets, links, and upload news about new work. And it's free! There's also an Illustrationmundo blog that highlights terrific illustrators. 

It'll also track how many people have clicked your profile in the last 14 days (I have a sad ONE click in that screenshot!), which is a nice and easy way to track how much recent interest your profile is getting. Perhaps I would get more hits to this profile if I stuck it somewhere on my blog... Done and done.

Illustrationmundo is my 7th best referral for my portfolio. Not bad for a free service. If I didn't have a blog this site would perform all the important functions of a blog (ability to submit new work, all your links, very simple stats) except for a space to write stuff. The only drawback is that you can't tag your images with keywords so it's not as effective as Foundfolios in terms of searchability for potential clients. It's more of an illustrator's community with lots of great work on it.

Part 1: FoundFolios
Part 2: Illustrationmundo
Part 3: Hire an Illustrator
Part 4: Society6

My big wall o'links. I'll be taking a look at another site next week!

-- Julia

Monday, April 23, 2012

Rock the 9 for the Weekly Alibi

Rock the 9 is a Native rock music festival in Albuquerque, New Mexico. I thought it would be fun to combine elements of a classic rock n' roll drum set with some awesome native drums! 

Like the Al Hurricane illustration (another music-themed illustration) I did for a few weeks back, I feel like this could almost be album art because of the square composition. I even put hand-lettering in this one!

The drum on the bottom left is decorated with the birdy that's on the Albuquerque flag. The same bird appears in this other Albuquerque illo I did. The Albuqueque and New Mexico flags both have a sun symbol on them so I incorporated that, too. I've used it before (albeit much smaller) in another illo for the Weekly Alibi.

My favourite thing about this piece is the colours. I am a sucker for killer colour combos.


Hope you like it!

-- Julia

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Lots o' Links and Reviews Part 1: Foundfolios

I thought it might be helpful to share my thoughts on various image-sharing and art-promoting websites. At first I thought I'd cover them all at once but when I saw the wall of text I was generating, I decided to break it down into a series.

Here are the ones I belong to:

And here is my first of what will hopefully be a handy, helpful series!

FoundFolios/AdBase Review
It's hard to talk about FoundFolios without talking about AdBase first. AdBase is a massive database of creative professionals in every type of industry you could want. Just about every magazine, book publisher, design firm, and advertising agency is catalogued and updated frequently. You can generate and save contact lists with a myriad of options including industry, job title, specific awards, etc. The database gets updated constantly, which is great because creative professionals will often move from job to job and it's hard to keep track of all those changes -- I'd rather spend my time elsewhere! And if you are a subscriber and you have updated contact info for a creative, Adbase will track the number of times you've helped them out and will eventually reward you with an Amazon gift card. Pretty cool!

AdBase Emailer 
Adbase has a number of cool features, including an Emailer program that works with their database so you can send targeted emails and track click-throughs. I find Emailer kind of pricey, particularly when the AdBase subscription itself costs $$$ (although you can tailor your subscription to certain regions instead of all of North America which would decrease the cost) so I've never bought it, but when I re-up my Adbase each year they give me some Emailer credits and I use those to do a few email promos. And to be honest, it's pretty easy to create your own email promos (don't forget to have an opt-out button in the email!) and send them out 50 at a time (remember to use BCC, aka Blind Carbon Copy!) by setting Adbase to output email lists. Sure, if you want to send out thousands of emails this option could take a while, but doesn't it always boil down to a time vs money issue? Just be warned: I've found that Gmail will shut your email account down for 24 hours if you send more than 250 or so emails per day like this.

Agency Access
Agency Access is a wealth of resources for subscribers to Adbase. It offers podcasts, articles, and video tutorials about editing your portfolio, what art directors are looking for, marketing tips, etc. I must admit that these emails have been piling up in my inbox :P. But they do offer insight into what creatives are looking for and how to think from their perspectives. 

FoundFolios is run by Adbase and is free with an Adbase subscription (EDIT. FIRST YEAR IS FREE. AFTER THAT YOU PAY!). It's a portfolio site with an exceedingly slick search engine, which makes it great for art directors to look up illustrators and photographers with specific types of work. The whole site is set up very well. Uploading and organizing images is easy, and you can tag your work with keywords so that they are easily searchable. It'll show you a stat for how many views your gallery has gotten, but there are no detailed metrics that I can see. FoundFolios seems to host way more photographers than illustrators (841 to 290) so it may be more of a destination for photographers to get their work seen.

Google Analytics Referral Ranking for FoundFolios
Looking at the traffic I've had for the entire history of my portfolio site (I implemented my tracking code September 2010), FoundFolios comes in 22nd in terms of referrals. Mind you, FoundFolios is a relatively new service so that should be taken into account. Still, 22nd is pretty far down the list! I don't have an upgraded FoundFolios account (I only have the basic one that came with my Adbase subscription) so maybe that would help drive traffic to my site, but I'll probably never know.

Adbase is pricey. But so, so helpful and a major time-saver. Adbase Emailer is great for massive email blasts and tracking click-throughs and the % of people who opened your email promo, but ultimately too costly for me. Agency Access is a nice bonus to my Adbase subscription, and so is FoundFolios. If I was paying separately for Foundfolios I might give it another year to see if it moves up in my referrals rankings before cancelling it. That doesn't mean it's a bad site, by any means -- Just that it hasn't been working for me!

EDIT: I cancelled my Foundfolios subscription. I had it for three years and I didn't get any work from it and not much internet traffic to my site.

Part 1: Foundfolios
Part 2: Illustrationmundo
Part 3: Hire an Illustrator
Part 4: Society6

portfolio site

Monday, April 16, 2012

Cottage Magazine Illustrations

Here's a series of illustrations I did for Cottage Magazine's Cottage and Cabin Planning Guide, out now on selected newsstands! I've seen this magazine on newsstands here in Calgary and it's based in Vancouver, but I'm not sure where else it's available. 

It's always great fun doing a series of illustrations that appear together -- Here's a series of beers I drew dressed up as famous movie monsters last Halloween. I like using the same set of colours throughout the series to make it all kind of work together.  I'm working on a series of illustrations for Ryan Cox's "A Circus Mind" that all stick to a very specific palette as well!

I kind of like how the image of the cottage at night almost looks like a scene from an old-school adventure game. Maybe I'll use it for the game I'm creating!

And sketches!

Hope you like them :)

-- Julia

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Two Chosen Images in American Illustration 31!

 Great news! I just learned that two of my illustrations are Chosen Images in American Illustration 31. Both are for a book that will be published later this year: "A Circus Mind" by rock n' roll poet Ryan Cox. 

The one on the left is for a poem called "Jack White" -- Because the White Stripes broke up last year I decided to do a tribute to them, using imagery from their albums and music videos. I wanted to depict the first time Jack handed Meg a pair of drumsticks, sort of like a devil/temptation idea. I'm a fan of the White Stripes so this was great fun to do!

The illustration on the right is for a poem called "Dark Side of the Rainbow" and deals with mental deterioration, lost paradise, loss of innocence, and disempowerment (Dorothy loses one of her ruby slippers). Here's another Oz-related illustration I did

Here are some other images I've created for A Circus Mind. The Peter Townshend one didn't make the eligibility requirements for this year, unfortunately! 


Monday, April 9, 2012

Al Hurricane for the Weekly Alibi

The Godfather of New Mexico Latin music! Another fun one for the Weekly Alibi. Giant pompadour and a wicked eyepatch... Check and check! Yet another guitar illustration (it's small). And another. And another? Here'a a small one. Hit me baby one more TIME! Yeah, I draw a lot of guitars :P. 

Here's how this piece appeared in the magazine.

I've done a lot of square illustrations for this client. In this instance I feel like this would make a nice cover for a record! 

Here's my five seconds' worth of effort at an album mock-up: 


Thursday, April 5, 2012

Tom Ford Black Orchid: My favourite fragrance

Ever since I did those fragrance illustrations for Best Health magazine I've been wanting to do similar illustrations, using some of the fragrances I love. Tom Ford's Black Orchid is my absolute #1 perfume! Most fragrances are too fruity or sweet or generically floral for me. Black Orchid is warm, spicy, woody, and very unique.

Here is YouTube 'fumehead Katie Puckrik's review of BO, wherein I learned many things. For one, Tom Ford requested that the perfume smell like... A man's crotch. Hm.

Anyway, it's gorgeous and I hope I can grab some time to put some colour into this drawing!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Macleans illustration on newsstands this week!

Here's my latest back-page illustration for Macleans! The subject of this obituary travelled around a lot her whole life so I used a dotted line to connect lots of Canadian landmarks of the many places she lived growing up.Working counter-clockwise from the bottom left up to the lighthouse, I drew some bits to signify her many vacation destinations as an adult.

Compared to the other illustrations I've done for Macleans, this one's got finer lines. I bought a new size 0 brush. It's funny how a little change like that can affect line quality so drastically!

This is a pretty busy frame with lots of little elements. So I drew everything out separately and moved, scaled, rotated, etc. until I got what I wanted. From the sketch on the right you can see that I already had a decent idea where everything was going to go, but plenty of fine-tuning was involved!

 And here's the inked version, without the grey tone.