Monday, June 10, 2013

Pinch Me, I Must Be Dreaming

As I mentioned in my previous post, Heroes Con 2013 took place this past weekend June 7-June 9 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  James and I rode down Friday with fellow B&D employees Margaret and Brian, and their daughter Zoe.  We only spent one day at the con, but I'm ready to go back next year and spend the entire weekend.  We had a blast meeting some of our favorite creators and purchasing more art... in fact we only purchased one indie comic and one toy/action figure (we take them out of the box, which makes them toys in this house).  Everything else was art.

Of course we saw Beck from last week's Artist's Block Interview. She set herself up to work on con sketches throughout the weekend.
Hi, Beck!

And we met fellow crafter, Jennifer from Handmade Stuffs.  If you have only seen her stuff online, or never seen her stuff before, all I can really say is it is even cuter in person.  I felt compelled to bring Fionna home with me because she was so cute and cuddly and the details are perfect!

 There were some awesome cosplayers, like this Batgirl.

I overheard Batgirl giving advice to a Green Lantern Cosplayer. Paraphrased, she said not to worry about what your costume looks like this year because you will only get better.  In a few years you'll look back at older pictures and wonder what you were thinking.  But as long as you have fun and enjoy what you're doing that's all that really matters.

A few of our favorite cosplayers included:

We also saw an incredible Rick and the Governor Cosplay that I wish I had photographed, Jasmine and Jafar, Harley Quinn, Zatanna, and so many more.

And now, let's get to the really awesome stuff.  The stuff where I feel like I'm Walking on Sunshine and in a dream.  First, I met Kelly Sue Deconnick.  You know, the woman who currently writes Captain Marvel.  The woman responsible for promoting Miss Marvel to Captain and changing her uniform from a swimsuit and thigh high boots to a one piece uniform.  Yeah, I met that Kelly Sue.  

She was incredibly nice and I gave her one of the Captain Marvel inspired totes that I made a while back. She was so nice and appreciative and turned around and grabbed her laptop and slid her laptop into the bag.  I'm still a little flabbergasted, and she pictured it on her tumbler along with other gifts she received at the con.  So of course I had to get a picture.
We also got a personalized signature on the Captain Marvel #1 Variant cover we had and were offered a sneak peak look at some of the pages for Pretty Deadly.  It was already on our list of books to keep an eye out for, but now it's on our pull list for whenever it is ready to come out!
We also met Andy Price, artist for My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic.  I gave him a Sweetie Belle themed parasprite, which he loved.  And so did his wife (at least I assume that's who was at the table with him!).  Then I talked to her about crochet and such, but somehow I didn't even think to ask for a picture!  But, I did leave one of my cards with them.  And it was really cool because Neil happened to be around the table at the same time with the Right Hand of Doom Bag that I made for him so Andy Price got to see (and seemed to admire) that piece of craftsmanship as well!  I have sent him a little note asking if he might possibly send me a picture of himself with the parasprite, but only if it isn't any trouble.  So if I receive that then I'll post the picture here as well!

Then we met Dave Johnson who, among other things, drew the art for Superman: Red Son.  

Red Son happens to be one of our favorite Superman stories in this house and explores what the world might be like if Superman landed in Soviet Russia rather than small town America.  It is wonderful!  And a while back I designed a cross stitch pattern based on the Red Son Logo.  I hope to finish the pattern file and offer it on Etsy in the near future, but for now I must be content that I gave the first finished piece to the artist who inspired the pattern.  And let me tell you what, he didn't even know what to say.  I'm not sure anyone has given him something quite of that nature before.  So I got a picture of him with it, and then he set it up on the table next to him and among his prints.  So that was really cool to see my piece mixed in with his whenever I passed by his table.
That was all the art I brought with me to share with the creators who have inspired my own work.  I mean, they gave us so much creativity it only feels right to give a little something back to them.

We were excited to see awesome sauce artists like Jamal Igle who drew the art for the first comic I ever personally owned (Supergirl #50) or Thomas Zahler who wrote and drew the My Little Pony micro for my favorite pony, Twilight Sparkle.
And we got to meet one of our favorite Comic Couples, Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti. Again, some of the nicest people that you may ever meet.  We chatted for a while with both of them (separately because each was at lunch when we spoke to the other) and they were just wonderful.  We picked up two Amanda Conner prints, even though we already have her art in the house, and of course got signatures on some of our favorite titles.  

I thought it was both interesting and wonderful that Palmiotti didn't bring anything with him to display or sell. He didn't even have a banner.  He was truly there for the sole purpose of meeting and greeting fans... and, you know, spending time with his wife.  They both thanked us for supporting the Sex and Violence Kickstarter and Palmiotti talked to us about the Kickstarter projects he has in the works.  And, I'm telling you, that anything that has Jimmy Palmiotti, Justin Gray, or Amanda Conner are things worth taking a look at.  Oh, and I should mention, we handed nine comics to Palmiotti to sign (four also signed by Igle and one also signed by Conner).  All Star Western #1 was probably six comics down in the stack and as he was signing and talking to us, he just starts sketching Jonah Hex on the cover of the book.  He didn't break the conversation or make a big deal about it, but I can assure you it's one of the comics that now hangs in a frame on the wall in the house.
Again, Heroes Con was simply amazing.  The only other thing I can think to mention right now is that if you have a cat you should definitely check out Duae Cat's Etsy shop.  We brought home one of their catnip toys and the cats went crazy over them.  It almost started a fight since we were stupid enough to only bring one home with us!
Harley swiped at me when I tried to take it away from her!  And when I gave it to Trousers she bullied him (a truly funny sight) until she regained control.

But lest you think Duae Cat only sells catnip toys I have to tell you they also offer the most adorable tiny amigurumi items, like this set of My Little Pony cuties.
But that's where I'm going to have to leave this post and return to the real world.  Next year we'll plan and budget out a trip to cover the entire weekend.  I can't even begin to imagine how much more fun we could have!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Artist's Block: Beckadoodles the Art of Cute

I first met Beck, of Beckadoodles The Art of Cute at my first Free Comic Book Day.  It was also the first Free Comic Book Day to take place after the publication of Womanthology, and the only thing that I knew about Beck was that she had a page somewhere in the book.  I later met her again at B&D's 30th Anniversary Celebration.  It was at that point I joined the ranks of stalkers and fans of Beck's signature cute art style.  I no longer need to stalk her since we now go to the same weekly artist group and I count her among my friends, but I still love to keep up with Beck's activities (they're just so darn cute!).

Beck dabbles and excels in multiple art and crafting mediums and describes herself as "a cartoonist, illustrator, painter, author and yarn crafter who collets pet hair, freckles and hugs.

She's a champion cookie eater, a yarn crafter, the Queen of Glitter and lover of all things cute, cuddly, and chocolate covered.

She can normally be found in her home studio drawing and coloring.  Or on the couch with a ball of yarn and some kitten watching Star Trek. (the cats love Spock)

Beck currently resides in Roanoke, Virginia with her teenage son and has a glorious view of the mountains and trees, and nature"

I hope you enjoy our interview, and be sure to check the contact information at the bottom of the page and revel in the cuteness that is Beckadoodles!

You are a cartoonist, painter, illustrator, author and yarn crafter.  Are there any new skills you would like to learn?

Wow when you put it like that, it sounds like a whole lot! Guess that's why I'm always busy creating.  If I somehow found more time in a day, I'd like to learn to be more proficient with digital drawing and coloring.  I have experimented with my drawing tablet and have started getting more familiar with a few of the drawing programs but it still takes too long to achieve what I'm looking for.  Digital art is my Everest... one day I'll stand at the top and think, "Now what?".

How doe your multi-craftualness affect your artwork?

I think any artist or crafter or designer uses all their skills to accomplish many of their projects.  I love to illustrate childrens art, I love to paint using bright happy colors, I love to draw funny cartoons and I think all of these things are reflected in my yarn creations too.  I was complimented the other day when my fiance said, "You realize your crocheted dolls look like your cartoons"... I agree they do, but is that a bad thing? Heck no! Who doesn't love looking at something and thinking of happy childhood memories, maybe not Batman, but most people would be smiling.

How would you describe your overall style?

Overall style? Hmmm... I can answer that with one word, one amazingly simple word. "Adorkable"
When did you know you wanted to be an artist and how did you get your start?

My earliest memories are of sitting on the floor with a huge box of crayons and stacks of coloring books.  That was how I spent most of my days.  coloring was and is one of my favorite things to do.  When I was about 8 years old, I loved to find things laying around the house and draw them, just so I could color them.  My Gramma taught me to draw the pages of my coloring books onto blank paper so I could color the same picture over and over.  At that moment I knew art would be part of my life. I drew everything.  I painted everything.  I tried different types of paints, pencils, markers and my mom taught me how to sew and craft.  I took classes in high school, I had a few private tutors and I explored every way possible to create.

As for getting my start... that took times, lots and lots of time.  I sent samples to companies looking to hire freelance artists.  I handed out fliers with samples of my work to do private commissions.  When the internet became more user friendly (for me), I posted on forums, created a website (my first site was so bad!), emailed companies, blasted my art on portfolio sites.  I did what most artists do.  Oh and I read a lot books on being a freelance artist.  My first paying gig was for a commissioned painting of abstract flowers.  I earned $50 and thought I was Picasso! I was 13 years old.  It's hard to get started, it's hard to stay working, but it's worth it to be able to do what you love.

Where do you draw your inspiration from?
I am truly inspired by all things cute and cuddly.  For reals, I look at a kitten or a puppy or the cutest of all the critters, a Panda Bear and all I want to do is draw them.  But not only draw them as the cute things they are but draw them wearing little superhero costumes or Viking Helmets or eating cotton candy.  Also I have a large collection of children's books I've been collecting since I was a little girl.  I love to look through them and feel the joy and inspiration I felt as a young girl.  Richard Scarry, Dr. Seuss and Anita Jeram are among my favorites and looking at their books gives me hours of inspiration... and happy thoughts.

What is your process from idea to finished piece?

I normally start projects, whether it's a commission or collaboration or freelance, with thumbnails and notes. I have stacks of sketch books, journals and files of loose papers in my studio full of ideas that one day will see the light of day.  when an idea pops in my brain, I sketch it as a thumbnail and take a few notes.  Sometimes the notes are what colors, size, and medium.

If it's for a sewing project I normally draw a few different angles of the item so I can visualize it in 3-D.  Once all those details are worked out I get busy drawing on the final paper or canvas.  For larger paintings it can take a few days to complete, for cartoons and illustrations maybe only a few hours and for sewing... well that depends on the complexity of the project.  And all along the way I take lots of photos and I've even started videotaping my process to eventually make some time delayed videos.  Then I sign my work and share it with the world!

How does your process and style change when you work with others, like the Sweeten Village Web-comic?

When I get the pleasure of working with others, like Brad Duncan my writing partner on Sweeten Village, I have to listen to their ideas for the characters, world and story so we can start thinking on the same level.  Most non-artists give me a lot of room to create because they trust that I will give them my best work.  I listen to their wants and needs and work side by side with them to come up with characters or designs that we both enjoy.  And some non-artists have a hard time visualizing the world or characters they've created until they've seen some sketches, then it becomes more real for them and easier for us to collaborate.

Is there a different mindset you assume when working on sequential art for projects such as Wiener Dog Adventures or themed sketch card series?

Yes, most definitely there is a different mindset with almost all projects but especially with sequential art.  I like to create the characters and practice drawing them so I can live where they live and draw them the same throughout a story.  With books or comics it is very important to maintain the continuity so your reader enjoys the story and art without wondering, "who is this guy and what is he doing on this page?". As for sketch card series, those are a bit looser.  If I'm going to draw over 100 Star Wars or Superman cards I'm going to play around with the style and make each card stand alone.  I mean you can tell I drew them but it's a bit more freeing.  On any given set I may draw the same character 3 or 4 times but in slightly different styles, still my "Adorkable" way but mildly different.  With sketch cards collectors are expecting to get a unique one-of-a-kind piece of art, so it's fun to change things up.

If you could draw the cover for any book or comic book what book/comic book would you choose and why?

Obviously, "Twilight" because I do so love glitter! Haha

Seriously, this is a very difficult question because I have so many favorites.  I'll make it a bit easier by breaking it down to categories.  Children's book cover : Dr. Seuss's, "Yertle the Turtle" Book cover, J.R.R. Tolkien's, "The Hobbit" Comic Book cover, anything with Wonder Woman.  Ok that wasn't so hard, but now I want to go draw them all!

What cons will you be attending this year?

I've already done a few.  I'll be at Heroes Con in June, RobCon in July and Cincinnati Comic and Toy Expo in September.  I've had to cut my con list a bit this year, too many great cons and never enough time to create stuff for them!

As a full-time artist and crafter, what are the best and worst parts of your job?

I'll start with the worst because there really aren't many things to list.  First of all, it's a business so keeping proper bookkeeping and tax paperwork is time consuming and mind numbing.  And time.  Time is the worst, there's never enough and sometimes I work for 16 or more hours a day and often 7 days a week.

Now as for the best parts... I get to do what I love, in my pajamas, at my home, every single day.  not many get to do that, so that's pretty awesome.  Getting paid to do these things in the cream filling and sprinkles on top.  there are days I struggle with design or ideas or creative block but even that is not the work part, because at the end of the day, I'm still living the dream I started as that little girl with a box of crayons and a stack of coloring books.

Any tips or tricks for aspiring artists?

Tips yes, tricks not really, sadly this is a hard job and it's a dog eat dog world so you have to grow a thick skin and practice your skills.  It's important to learn to take criticism and give it properly too.  If you feel you are good enough, you probably are not.  Never give up, never let anyone tell you can't do what you want... but always remember there are 50 others out there trying to do the same things.  I draw in a sketch book every single day, I take notes and make lists every single day, I look at other art and artists every single day to stay inspired and to give me hope.  Find your happy place and live there, even if it's in a tiny corner of your cluttered mind.  And don't give up.  It's hard to stay focused when there are bills to pay and time is never on your side.  But it's worth it... just keep drawing or painting or sewing or crafting or whatever it is you love to do!

In the spirit of mixing things up: if you were restricted to only ever doing one type of art/craft in the future, what would you choose and why?

Not sure if this is a fun question or a mean one!  I think I'd choose Mixed Media, which is, artwork made from more than one medium.  That way I could still add a bit of crafting to my paintings.  Best of both worlds!

You can find Beck in all sorts of places online such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Redbubble, Zazzle, PInterest, Etsy, and of course her website!  Don't be afraid to drop her a line, she doesn't bite... most of the time.

Look for an in-person siting of Beck at Heroes Con this weekend Friday June 7-Sunday June 9 in Charlotte, North Carolina at table AA-31 (straight back and along the back wall of the convention hall).

Beck will have all sorts of Adorkable items with her including a limited selection of her latest collection of Ponies and Heroes prints and stickers!

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Time Marches On, But Family Always Remains

It's strange to think that in February 1995 we welcomed my baby brother, Kenneth, into this world and our family was complete.   

In some ways it seems like only yesterday Kenneth was still small enough that we could fit him inside of a pumpkin, and young enough he made an adorable pumpkin for Halloween!

As I recall he was also put inside a large number of cannons when we visited historical sites.  And we visited a lot of historical sites, so there were a lot of cannons!

But now, my younger brother and youngest sibling is not so little or so baby.  And I think his leap from the nest seems stranger to me than that of my sister because he is 8 years younger than me, rather than the 1 year, 10 months, and 10 days that separate Debbie and me.  (No, two years would not suffice!)

But we've all grown a lot over the last 18 years, we're no longer the small hooligans we once were.

Now, Debbie and I are out of our parents' house, and out of college and Kenneth is about to leave the nest and start his own journey.  Where did all that time get to?

But this is all just a long way of saying, Kenneth, I am so very proud of you.  I wish you the best of luck when you start college this fall, and I'll even try to get you that crocheted something I promised you all the way back in February!

But, along with Kenneth's graduation last Saturday there came the influx of family to cheer him on, including our sister, Debbie!  When everyone else packed into their cars to head to Georgia for another graduation on Monday, Debbie and I had a Sister's Day.

We tried out some crayon art: 

Admittedly, we didn't finish any of the pieces we started.  Though, I do intend to finish the piece that I started, it just may not be until next Saturday!  And I think the heart that Debbie set up against the darker background has a lot of potential to be AWESOME!  Maybe I'll have to borrow her idea...

Debbie did a little Painted Zentangle:
We made some magnets:

(So all the magnets pictured are mine, but Debbie made some very pretty magnets too!)

And we went up to the Star.

And we made Rolo Cookies from the Six Sisters' Stuff Blog.  The only real change we made was that we substituted Mini Rolos for the regular sized Rolos.  And they are oh-my-goodness divine.  I took some up to Terry at B&D Comics and I was told to keep them away because she doesn't have the will power to resist their delicious caramel and chocolate temptation.
These are from the batch I made after Debbie left, because the first batch disappeared too quickly!
They are soooooo easy, and sooooooo delicious and I think I've found my new potluck dish.

It was a good weekend with lots of family, chatter, crafts, movies, and fun.  So, I'll leave you with a couple pictures Debbie took of Harlequin and Trousers and remind you that early next week I'll be sharing an interview with Beck from Beckadoodles The Art of Cute!