Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The colors of Spring are inspiring

Well, here's my first post in my new blog location. It's been a while since I've blogged at all, so I feel like there are a lot of things I could talk about. Before I get to my main subject, I will allude to a past and future subject: my voiceover quest. I have signed up for an introductory class in May, so I'll probably write an update about that after the class. I am very excited to try it out!

What is inspiring me today (and for the past week or so!) are the amazing colors of spring time. I was walking to my yoga class this morning and saw a cherry tree in full blossom, right next to a leafy tree, whose leaves were that super-bright green that you only see when the new, young-and-fresh leaves start showing their faces this time of year. I love seeing those two colors together.

I am also looking forward to a day of brunch, yoga and crafts at my friend Betsy's place this Saturday. Funnily enough in reference to "the colors of spring" I was looking at the craft I am going to be working on, an embroidery design based on a drawing I did last year. Here it is:
I based my idea on South-East Asian and Indian motifs. The bright green and cherry-blossom pink are part of it, surprisingly appropriate for this time of year! I've chosen embroidery threads to match the colors shown here as closely as possible. I started working on some of the green areas last month, so I'm glad to have Saturday to focus on it some more, while enjoying the day with Betsy and her other friends.

The butterflies project is still in progress [today!] and I'll be attending a Freelancer's Union seminar this evening about using a website to market your work. I kind of do that already but you never know where the next new idea or beneficial contact will come from. So, until next time, enjoy your spring!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Eddie Izzard/Passing Strange (2/20/2008)

This is an older post from my blog, which I am relocating to blogger.

This past weekend I was lucky enough to see 2 great shows. On Saturday, Janet, Elaine and Kurt joined me for Eddie Izzard's stand-up show. It's been at least 2 years (maybe 3?) since his last performance(s) in New York. What I find so amazing is that he keeps to some of the same main subjects (world history, religion, computers, and toast with jam) but is able to come up with completely new and completely hilarious jokes for each show. I have seen him perform about 8 times now and I always wonder how much of his act or subject matter is planned in advance and how much is improvised. It has to be a combination of the two, because the things he relates together in his jokes or what leads him from joke to joke seems so obscure, as if it occurred to him at that moment. One of the things I like best about his humor is that he'll take an idea that people tend to believe or take for granted and question it. For example, his main subject matter that night seemed to be his issues with Intelligent Design and the fanatics who believe in it. He asked, "If you were God and you created the earth and all of its life forms in 6 days, and had that all written out in the Bible, wouldn't you also want to brag about creating the whole rest of the universe, and all other universes?" His delivery was funnier of course, but that's a good example of some of the things he brings up. Other jokes are just plain silly in a great way, like miming a snake driving a speedboat.

Sunday afternoon I had a discount ticket to Passing Strange on Broadway, a new rock & roll musical. The music was really great, I'm still singing some of the lyrics in my head. (because me singing them out loud would really be an insult to the show!) I found inspiring messages in the story about a young man from South Central L.A. who leaves home to live in Europe for a few years to discover himself and explore his musical talents. I'm pretty sure the story is loosely based on Stew's, the narrator's, life at that age and his relationship with his mother. There was a moment towards the end of the show that really grabbed my attention. Basically they were saying (singing) that wherever you are in life for whatever reason or choices you have made, that you should remember that "it's alright!" I always like being reminded of that, since sometimes I find myself wondering: Why I haven't had more public acknowledgment or higher accomplishment (such as more stuff being published or paid for in some way!) concerning my artwork. Is it purely because of the choices I have made? ... Choosing to sleep in instead of forcing myself out of bed so I can get a few more hours out of the day? Going out with friends more often instead of dedicating more of that time for moving forward on whatever portfolio piece I am working on? I read a bit more about the creation of the show and Stew and co-creator Heidi Rodewald worked the story and songs for about 10 years. It was first performed in Berkeley, CA, then eventually made the jump to Off-Broadway NYC at the Public Theater last year, and now it's a full-fledged Broadway show. So, greatness does take time to develop. There's still a chance for me yet!

Branching Out? (2/5/2008)

This is an older post from my blog, which I am relocating to blogger.

Last night I attended a seminar after work about getting into the voiceover business hosted by Syracuse University at their NYC location, Lubin House. I was glad to learn from the instructor, Johnna Gottlieb, that a background in acting is not required, and the start-up fees she mentioned didn’t sound prohibitive. ($1500-2000) And, on most auditions and projects the voiceover artist puts in 15-20 minutes and the work is done. I could make $400 in 15 minutes! Really!

Since I am mainly a visual artist, people might be surprised that I’m interested in voiceovers. I’m not even sure how serious I am about pursuing it, just very curious at this point. It would definitely take time and money away from my main goals. (Most of those have to do with my illustration.) I have gotten some nice compliments from people over the years regarding my voice and I think I have one of those “accentless” voices that they are looking for in the business. Also, it would be really neat to be the voice on the subway or other kind of public service announcement... don’t worry, I do dream bigger than that!

The way she described the process of how one gets work after you put together a professional voiceover reel (like a portfolio) is very similar to the process of how to promote oneself as an illustrator. You have to do the legwork of sending samples to publishers or art directors, hoping that they will look at what you send and like it and put you on file for future reference and maybe even hire you for a project... along with the thousands that are also interested in being published. As with any talent-driven career, having an agent that can help get an “in” for certain gigs can be helpful but not completely necessary to get work. (And those other thousands of folks want an agent, too!)

Having the fact that the promotion process would be very similar to what I’m already trying to do for my artwork in mind, I still had this feeling that trying it with a voiceover reel instead of an illustration portfolio would somehow be easier. I realized I was thinking this because I don’t have the same emotional attachment to voiceovers as my art. I really want to become more noticed and published as an illustrator, so whatever I do concerning that has much more weight and significance to me.

So, my next step is to check out this place called Edge Studios, they specialize in voiceover coaching and reels. They offer a program for amateurs once or twice a month where you come in for 4-5 hours and they give some instruction, everyone has a lot of time to read into the mic, and then on a separate visit, they give you one-on-one advice about wether you have the right voice and talent for the business and what to do about it. It’s only $150 and I think it would be fun, regardless if I decide to go further with it.

I should also put some more thought into my illustration promotion and find a way to be as carefree about it as I imagine I’d be with voiceovers!

Fashion Plates! 1/11/2008

This is an older post from my blog, I am relocating my blog to blogger.

One night last month, as I was coming home from work, I started trying to remember what some of my favorite toys were when I was growing up. One of the first things I thought of was Fashion Plates.

The main idea of Fashion Plates was to mix and match shirts, skirts or pants and model heads which were on plastic square "plates" onto a tray. You then place paper over your combination and make a rubbing with a black crayon. The really fun part came when you flipped the plates over, each had a pattern (i.e. plaid or floral) or texture (denim) to could apply to the outfit you just created via more rubbings with colored pencils.

When I mentioned this my friend and co-worker, Peggy, she said "Well that's just like your artwork now!" And she was right, I had never though about it but it must have had some influence on me. I started browsing e-Bay to see what the going rate was for a previously-owned Fashion Plates toy. I also asked my parents if they had possibly not sold that at their big garage sale when they were moving to a smaller house, but they no longer had it. My advice to those of you looking for your favorite retro-toys on e-Bay: Wait until after the holidays! In the week before Christmas there were some that sold for over $100 and ost of them were more than $35. I checked again right after New Year's Eve and was able to claim a full set (minus the rubbing crayon & holder and colored pencils) with the original box for about $25 including shipping.

I haven't used it yet since I need to dig up a black crayon to do the rubbings, but I'll have to post some here! Also after I figure out how to get pictures into my blog.

Looking Forward, Looking Back (1/7/2008)

This is an older post from my blog. I have decided to relocate my blog to blogger.

Happy New Year! As many people do, I tend to assess my recent accomplishments and new goals this time of year, but I tend to do so more intensely around my birthday. In any case, these are some of my thoughts about my art in 2007 and what I hope to do in 2008.

For most of 2007 I put a lot of energy into sketching out a graphic novel idea. (Starring Adele, my Parisian character) Being new to the medium I was easily frustrated or confused about how to develop the flow of the story and communicate my ideas. From this time I have learned that I need to experiment more in a shorter format, so that is on my list for 2008.

After I decided to take a break from Adele's story, I went back to some drawings of butterflies I had in my sketch book. Originally I created the drawings to be transfered to fabric so I could embroider them, but I decided to stick with the drawings to make a series of greeting cards. Each butterfly is arranged with a photo of a plant from its native region and a recreated textile design based on the craftwork of people from the same region. One is finished and I'll post it in my jamuse portfolio soon, and I'll begin working on the others again this month.