Welcome to this final cul-de-sac of one side road of the great wandering tour of blogs by artists – writers, musicians, painters, photographers, and more! I was invited by Nancy Heard, a fellow North Texas illustrator, who in turn was invited by Bobbie Dacus, her good friend and another fellow artist. You may make your acquaintance with Nancy at her blog: http://nancyheard.blogspot.com/ And, now a little about Nancy: Nancy Heard is a freelance illustrator/artist. She has illustrated children’s books, activity books, and coloring books. She has designed/illustrated wallpaper, scrapbook paper, party invitations, and has also produced illustrations for corporations. Some of Nancy’s clients include: NRN Design, Glad Tidings, Sonburn, Ideal Publishers, Dominee Press, Rainbow Press and more. Nancy illustrated “The Tiny Ant” for Edupress, which won the Teacher’s Choice Award. Nancy currently resides in Dallas, Texas. Now, for my part in the tour … 1. What am I currently working on? I am writing and illustrating a re-telling of a classic fairy tale, and I am enjoying the challenge of incorporating American muscle cars and skateboarding into a beloved princess tale. The final product will be a juvenile graphic novel. 2. How does my work differ from others of its genre? My illustrations begin as ideas, and if the ideas do not eventually speak with their own strong voice, I discard them. I do a lot of discarding. Then, those that have potential become pencil sketches, then ink drawings on paper, in the tradition of Bill Watterson, Mercer Mayer, and Will Eisner. Finally, I digitally paint the drawings, aiming for the most expressive, luminous, painterly, and lush final product. It is the combination of solid ideas, deft draftsmanship, and painterly color work that gives my illustrations a shot at standing out. 3. Why do I write/create what I do? A life of making is the life for me. I have always made things, as long as I can remember. If I do not have a project going, I get cranky. When I am working on something—a painting, a drawing, a story—I am trying to make the best thing I’ve ever made, with the goal of making something worthy of joining the work of artists who have made all the things that have so enriched my own life. 4. How does your writing/creating process work? My process is pretty messy, though I am always trying to refine it. Most of my work is accomplished by brute force, lots and lots of erasing and re-starts. I meet with my critique partner—the very funny and smart Bill Burton—and we bounce ideas off each other and laugh. And, I riff a lot with my kids, one 1st- and one 6th-grader. So, as I wrap up this leg of the tour, I would like to share a few sites of people whose work I admire and who also blog sometimes. Diandra Mae is a fellow Texas illustrator from Houston. I met her at the great 2012 conference of the San Antonio SCBWI Chapter, when she had just been honored as SCBWI’s featured illustrator that month. Her illustrations feature the three legs of idea, drawing, and color that I aspire for my own work to stand firmly on. Erwin Madrid is an artist whose work I follow for equal parts inspiration and humility. He is an illustrator and concept artist, and sometimes, when I look at his book jacket work and concept painting, I literally whimper.
For my MFA thesis show at UNLV, I created a lifestyle brand called Beachfront. It was all about optimism and toothpaste packaging design. There were 5 sub-brands: Beachfront Fire, Bold, Classic, Sensitive, and Gold. I created this plan for the gallery layout of the exhibition. I am including a photo of the installation of these wall pieces and of the Judd-inspired upper gallery.
A selection of logos I created during a period of painting that was awash in graphic design and branding influences. TAF is inspired by the UPS shield logo redesign; Koby Teith is an homage to the country singer; Beachfront is a lifestyle brand modeled after toothpaste packaging design; Omoo comes from the Melville novel of South Seas adventure; The Horror is a logo for a would-be garage band; Mississippi is what it is; and, Paint is a treatment of the word if it were a Las Vegas nightclub.
Koby Teith was a brand I created during the time that my friends and I were writing country songs as Ripper Jordan. We liked Toby Keith’s bravado and intelligence as a songwriter, so I paid homage to him by creating a logo that I think looks like it would be dandy on a steak sauce bottle. As for the artwork, the logo served as an armature around which to pile up mounds of oil paint. Methinks the tedium of masking and airbrushing was getting to me!
It is crazy to look back on complete bodies of work that you made years back. I hadn’t thought about these paintings from 2007 for a while, then I stumbled upon them recently, deep in my hard drive. I made this group of paintings while I lived in Las Vegas. They embody the romance of the Old West that still characterizes that place.