Monday, May 28, 2012

Andy Warhol for A Circus Mind

 Another for my series of illustrations for "A Circus Mind" by Ryan Cox! This one has a kinda different colour thing going on than what I usually do. I'm always trying to figure new stuff out! There are a lot of portraits in this one, from Mick Jagger to Edie Sedgwick and Holly Woodlawn in the front, to Candy Darling and Gerard Malanga in the back. All of them were fixtures in Warhol's studio The Factory. I added some little background details to indicate that's where they are. I saw lots of pictures of the interior of The Factory and there were a lot of pillars wrapped in tin foil and the odd ladder :P.

I offset the colours a little to represent the silkscreen process, as well as to add a party-like atmosphere / garishness / uncomfortable vibration. I suppose I depicted Warhol the same way I feel in similar situations!

I focused on post-shooting Warhol, and how withdrawn he became after the incident. Even before the shooting it seems like he had a detached view of life -- but after, he said "Right when I was being shot and ever since, I knew that I was watching television. The channels switch, but it's all television." Warhol had to wear a surgical support wrap around his torso, which I made sure to include. He died a year after his shooter did. He had spent the rest of his life afraid she would try to kill him again. I wanted to contrast the bright colours and fleshily-coloured people surrounding him with what he may have felt like on the inside. Warhol always seemed colourless to me, even in colour photographs. 

Here are the sketches!

-- Julia

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Lots of Links and Review Part 5: Galleray

Galleray is a new and emerging gallery where artists can post work and people who love art can discover and connect with them! 

As of 12:00pm today (May 23), there is a 24-hour window of opportunity to sign up to Galleray and explore what they have to offer.

To be honest I don't know much about this site. Galleray is just getting off the ground so there's a lot of stuff that is in development. It's a lot like Society6 in functionality but without the e-commerce (producing, billing, shipping, etc.) aspect. You can follow artists you like, comment on work, etc. I suppose it might be more like Illustrationmundo than Society6 although Galleray is looking to create a platform to sell stuff as well. 

What I do know is that their Terms are fair and respectful and the site and the services it provides are free (at least for now!) and I'm always trying to get my work seen in as many places as possible.

My other reviews on portfolio sites:

Part 1: Foundfolios
Part 4: Society6

Hope this is helpful,


Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Macleans obit illo: Las Vegas and Reno

Here's a Maclean's illustration from a while back. I had started a post on it but it's been languishing in draft mode purgatory. It finally gets to see the light of day!

The upper part of the illustration is Burrard Bridge, a famous Art Deco style bridge in Vancouver. It was a place the obituary subject frequented often, and she loved the musical "Singing in the Rain." She worked at a bank, loved travelling to Reno and Las Vegas, and was planning on a cruise.

Macleans has an iPad app so they require a spot illustration too -- so I take some elements from the frame and arrange them in a new way:

Hope you like it!

portfolio site

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Mother's Day card

Happy Mother's Day to my mom! Here's the card I painted. The weird tube that looks like a Chinese finger trap is a bridge in Calgary. Near this bridge were this pair of ducks that my mom told me later were American Wigeons (male and female). And of course we have Dido-cat holding some tulips and wearing a pretty bow!

I'm growing rather fond of ducks. They are easier to spot than birds that hide in trees and are often such lovely colours. Here are the other two duck-themed cards I've painted so far. And a duck-themed illustration, published in the National Post!


Monday, May 14, 2012

DIY Music and Underground Creative Culture, for the Weekly Alibi

There's always been a culture of resourceful musicians, hobbyists, and crafty people -- but thanks to the internet and all sorts of other technology, sharing knowledge and projects and getting together has never been easier. Long live DIY!

The colours of this illustration are a little bit different from what I usually do. Often there's a punchy contrasting colour but not here. I wanted to capture a bit of a vintage basement feel (shag carpet, wood-panelled speakers, dumpy couch!). 

I had no idea how much knitting has been championed by craftivism. In fact, I didn't much know what craftivism was. I love doing research and finding out about all sorts of interesting stuff :). 

And yeah, yet another illo with a guitar in it. This blog post provides a bunch of helpful links that'll direct you to some of my other depictions of guitars!



Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Lots of Links and Reviews Part 4: Society6

I love Society6, simple as that! Unlike my other reviews (which can be seen in the following places: Part 1: Foundfolios, Part 2: Illustrationmundo, Part 3: Hire an Illustrator), Society6 isn't a portfolio promotion site -- it's a site where you post your art and it's sold as a digital print, stretched on a canvas, printed on a t-shirt, printed on a hoodie, as an iphone case, on a greeting card, or as a laptop skin. The best part? Society6 does all the printing, billing, and shipping for you!

The other best part of Society6 is the respect they have for artists' copyright. Here's a basic overview of their selling practices. You control your rights, you get to set your prices. Before I sign up for any of these types of services I make sure to read their Terms of Service. Some are not quite so respectful so if you are interested in selling your work online I urge you to wade through all the legalese!

I've ordered a digital print, a t-shirt, and an iphone case from them and I'm pleased with the quality of all the items. 

Here are some pics I took with my chintzy iphone3 camera -- of my lovely Society6 iphone3 case! Here is how it looks on my Society6 shop page. And don't worry, they sell an iphone4 version as well for the more technologically with-it people out there :P. I've been using this case for more than a year with no issues. I don't remove it that often so I don't know if that skinny bit of plastic on the side will break if bothered too much, but it certainly hasn't broken with day-to-day use. The only slightly odd thing is how dirty the inside of the case looks; that's how it looked the first day I got it! But of course, it's not a big deal when the case is on my phone. It's a shiny plastic shell which can be slippery. That took a little getting used to!

And here's the t-shirt I ordered. Here's how it looks on my shop page. Society6 uses American Apparel t-shirts, which are very high quality and made in the USA. I've used American Apparel shirts a bunch of times when I make my own silkscreen t-shirts and I've always been pleased with the results. The colours on the shirt I ordered are bright and the lines are decent. Certainly not as crisp as a digital print on paper but I suppose there's only so much that can be done on fabric using the particular printing technique they use on their clothing items. The inks here are kind of translucent so if you order a lemon yellow shirt the yellowness will show through the art. It makes for a slightly faded vintage look. I'd order from them again!

Here's a pic of the digital print I ordered. No complaints here! The colours are bright, the lines are crisp, and the tones are lovely. I put the mat and frame on myself, although Society6 does sell them already framed and ready to hang as well. The frames they use are made from " solid wood claimed from socially and environmentally responsible forests" and they use shatterproof acrylic instead of glass AND an acid-free dust cover on the back! I love their attention to detail and devotion to quality. 

Another cool thing about Society6 is that it occasionally organizes artist collaborations with participating partners such as EA, MTV, and Vans. These collabs can involve gallery showings, limited edition zines, and more. After you become a member it's easy to apply to be in a collab, but a very small number of people are chosen. I have yet to get in, but I hope to some day!

Like Illustrationmundo, Society6 also functions as an artist community where you can follow your favourite artists and promote specific pieces you love with the click of a button. However, Society6 is not the place you want to post work you've just published in a book or magazine unless your relationship with your client is such that they would allow you to sell products using the image they've just commissioned! Society6 isn't a portfolio promotion site at all -- it's something completely different and terrific. 

I maintained an Etsy store for a little while but I eventually decided I didn't want to deal with the hassle of hauling my original art from place to place (I split my time between Toronto and Calgary) or with shipping stuff direct to a customer and worrying if it didn't get there. Society6 takes that all out of my hands and I love that.

Society6 doesn't drive traffic to my site or blog but that's not what it's for. I've been with them for a year and a few months and I've sold eight things. That's not going to pay the bills but every bit helps and I get a major rush every time someone does buy something with one of my images on it! That thrill is worth more than the money. And because Society6 is a free site (they take a cut of your sales) that money is 100% profit. Very hard to argue with that.

They make it super easy to promote your shop page on your site or blog with a handy-dandy widget (you can see it in the right-hand margin of this blog) that will cycle through your artwork and stick it on the various types of merchandise. Slick!

In conclusion, out of all the sites I've reviewed so far this is the one I'd more heartily recommend. It's the one site that provides services I'm simply not equipped to offer myself! I don't really need a separate portfolio promo site or a destination to post my latest illustration news; that's what my portfolio site and blog are for. Still, it's always a good idea to get stick your work in as many places as you can because there's no telling where people's eyes are.


Monday, May 7, 2012

Summer Guide 2012 for the Weekly Alibi

Here's my latest for the Weekly Alibi! Four spot illustrations for their 2012 Summer Guide. I did the same job last year except that time I did a whopping twelve illos instead of four! The art director provided me with four paragraphs chock-full of content that I really enjoyed picking through. The more info the better, I say!

This time, each illustration includes a drink of some sort. I made sure to stick 'em in opposing corners so they all balance out. I also used my trusty Wacom Intuos2 tablet for the sketches this year, instead of pencil. 

The surface of my tablet is all pitted and scratched up so on the advice of a Wacom customer service rep I stuck a piece of mylar on top that I cut to size. The surface is nice and smooth now and works like a charm! Unfortunately my nibs are wearing down just as fast and I honestly don't know what I'm going to do once I run out of replacements. The Wacom site sells replacement surfaces and nibs, but not for Intuos2 :(. I poked around the internet and I didn't find any great suggestions. If anyone has an idea of what I can use for nibs, please let me know!

Last year I did Alibi's Annual Haiku contest cover, which was another repeat job for me. I must be doing something right!

Sketches for this one:


Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Lots of Links and Reviews Part 3: Hire an Illustrator

Update on the Update: (November 3, 2014): I really should've dated the previous update! I'm back with Hire an Illustrator, have been for some months now. I went back because there was an opportunity to be part of a show and collaboration project that I wanted to submit to and I needed to be a member of HAI again to do so. I've stuck with it and have had much better success with it in terms of getting illustration work. -- Julia

Update: I cancelled my Hire an Illustrator subscription. After 97 weeks of trying it (far too long but I only have myself to blame!), I've concluded that it wasn't worth the investment. Didn't get any work from it, got maybe a click a week from it. Pretty disappointing. And I used it fairly actively, submitting work (and getting it approved!) maybe twice a month to be featured in their promo emails. As far as I could tell from the site they still had a supply of my postcards that they were using for their mail packs. I'm just mad I let it go for that long.


Hire an Illustrator is a lot like IllustrationMundo. It's a great one-stop destination for artists where you can manage an online portfolio, your contact info, and connect a bunch of widgets (Facebook, Twitter, a shop page -- mine is connected to my Society6 store, Google+, and LinkedIn. Every week they send out a well-produced promo email featuring a bunch of artists (you can submit a new image which may or may not be approved for that weekly email) with links to profiles.

(Click to enlarge above images)
Besides the weekly promo email, Hire an Illustrator does a particular special thing that IllustrationMundo doesn't do. If you mail them a bunch of postcards and mailers, they put together these promo packages of multiple artists and mail them to contacts every few months. Hire an Illustrator is based in the UK, so I figured it would be a good way for me to dip my toe into the European market. And save on that pricey overseas postage!

Which is a good thing, because (and here's where Hire an Illustrator is especially different from IllustrationMundo) HAI is a paid service. $7 per week, which I have set to automatically come out of my PayPal account. 

If they didn't offer that promo mailing service I'm not sure that I would've stuck with them. I've been with them since April 2011 and I haven't seen much traffic being driven to my portfolio site or blog from this source. It's a little tricky to track because a potential client could be entering my name into a search engine after receiving a promo mailer sent via Hire an Illustrator. IllustrationMundo has driven far more traffic to my site and blog in comparison. Also, IllustrationMundo is free!

What makes it a little odd is that Hire an Illustrator runs another illustration news site where artists submit their work and it's free! Little Chimp Society. LCS doesn't do a weekly email or (edit: I think they actually do this) mail out your promos for you, but free is free. 

Hire an Illustrator is a good site, but there are a lot of options out there that are free that perform basically the same services. Except that mailer service. That one might be worth it, although I haven't gotten any jobs from it. 

Disclaimer: These are only my experiences, I'm sure other people would have a different perspective!

Hope this was helpful,