We had a great time shooting in my yard the other day. The weather is so nice now and the yard is starting to come to life. Its been exciting to see what plants come up and what flowers bloom. Caryson wanted to take some pictures so we took a few shots in her new dress. She was also named student of the Month this same night. My Fiona is getting so big.
My monsters have taken over Red Cup in Chesterton. All pieces are for sale and need a home so head on down grab a cup of coffee a pastry and a monster. They range from $20 to $50. I'm super thankful for Laura Verheaghe for allowing me to hang my work in her shop again.
While you're there bring in a donation for Free the Girls - Red Cup is a drop off location for donations. Free the Girls is mission is to help women rescued from sex trafficking reintegrate into their communities. With the vision to see a world in which previously enslaved women are leading vibrant, successful, integrated lives. I was please to find out that this world wide organization is located right here in Chesterton.
Learn more and get involved with this great organization.
I've been itching to get back into my studio. I've been so busy with work and design that I haven't had a chance to spend some time working with my hands and creating. I recently remembered that I had some material to make some canvases. I have a two man show coming up in September (more details to come) and I really need to get a jump on it before I'm up against the gun again. I can't wait to get back on some canvas. Stay tuned for process pics as I document those pieces for the show.
I had the pleasure of participating in Hunt & Gather this year, it was great meeting new people and putting a face with a name to fellow artist. The event was packed and full of great energy. I'm glad I entered, it forced me to get some new pieces done and it scratched my itch of wanting to know what it was all about. All of it couldn't be possible without a lot of help from family and friends. I have to give a special thanks to:
My wife Lisa, for putting up with my long nights in the studio and keeping the wheels on the bus while I was distracted, love you babe!
Brian Conferio for dropping off wood at my house and for lugging that stuff from work multiple times.
Jose Burgos for providing me with wood as well ( I made a table out of an extra piece)! That is huge.
Dave Adent, for letting me borrow saws and equipment that allowed me to build my booth.
Ernesto Martines for letting me borrow a jigsaw in the zero hour when mine died mid cut.
Coty & Jill Mansfield for letting me borrow your sander and also working my booth Friday night, thank you so much!
I made some real progress tonight.
I started priming all of my monsters so far. And what I thought was going to be an easy tasked turned into another long night.
My process for priming is pretty simple. I use some basic primer to get a night matte finish on the wood so that when I lay down my color it sits nicely on the surface. I water it down with a third water to paint ratio to help it move quicker over the wood. Its basically a white wash, nothing fancy or to detailed. But when you're doing multiple pieces and takes some time.
Once I got all the pieces painted I cleaned up the studio and figured out a game plan for the rest of the pieces and my display. I found some old sketches in the back of a bag of supplies and it got me thinking of what else I could do.
It was a great night of getting some stuff done. I feel accomplished and I think I'll be ready for Hunt & Gather next weekend.
These hands have seen better days.
The race to get as much artwork done for Hunt & Gather is on. I'm elbows deep in wood, sawdust and paint. I've been cutting out monsters every other night and have 30 cut so far. In between batches of monsters, I created two large pieces that I plan to use as decoration for my booth. They'll also be available for sale. But creating these two pieces has been challenging and fun. I've learned a ton by going through the motion of spraying some paint. I've learned what can tips do what and how to move and how much pressure to put down in order to create the line weight that I want.
I did this blue one first. I stated by sketching out a rough outline to give me a frame of reference and size for each monster. I then proceeded to put down all the base colors, I experimented with different movements and pressure intensities of the can.
Once I was done with this one I wanted to try something with the left over space. I cut out the top edge of the monsters and loved the way it looked. It gave the large piece some additional personality.
I tried to give the monsters in this one a little more character this time around. I spent a little more time adding shading and color layers to these guys. I went with a warm color scheme for this one. I used the same process as the other one and outlined them last.
I ran out of the Montana paint that I used for outlining so I wasn't sure how this color and paint was going to lay down. I used a New York Fat Cap for the outlines.
Until next time. I'll be cutting out monsters for the next few days then the painting and fun can begin. Stay tuned for more process stuff and check out Hunt & Gather the first weekend in March.
I've prayed more these past few months then I have ever prayed in my entire life. I believe in prayer and the power of prayer. It helps keep me grounded and humbled. I'm grateful for the many blessings that have come my way over the years.
I created this piece in my studio as a reminder to slow down, give thanks and pray.
I received a bunch of spray paint from my good friend and fellow artist Jeremy Bustos for Christmas and got busy. Below is the progression and final. Piece.
It's pretty sloppy but a great leaning experience, I think if I do it three more times I can get it right. I'm still working through the pressure and speed of the paint. Great fun though.
Meet Panda, the newest member of our household. He's an amazing 7 month old Sheepadoodle. A rare breed of fluffy hypoallergenic non-shedding cuteness. My wife stumbled upon him on Facebook one night and two days later we were bringing him home. He's an ex-service dog that failed out because of car sickness. He's fully trained, super smart and completely lovable. We look forward to many good times with this pup, check back often for Panda photo shoots and updates.
It's official. I'm going to do my first Hunt & Gather event in March. I'm really excited to be included with so many other amazing and talented vendors. I have a ton of monsters in the works. All new, one of kind and 1 of 1 goodness. From taco monsters to donut monsters to Indiana state monsters and classic monsters. I plan on having all cut outs for sale as well as a couple prints and some smaller desktop items. I'm also kicking around the idea of a door monster. A cut out that you stick over a door frame - giving any entrance way some character.
I'll be buried in the studio under a pile of wood if you need me just shout. I might go def from the hum of the jigsaw. See you at my booth in March.
I've longed for a place to create. My new home studio is just that place, a happy place of epic proportions. I can't wait to post more photos of it as it comes alive. I have big plans for murals, photo shoot space and a workshop. Its a giant space that I can't wait to fill up with monster goodness. I jammed out on the inside of the door which will more than likely get painted over ten more times. Great stuff, stay tuned to my blog for more info.
I have been freelancing for many years and know a lot of different freelancers at various levels in their career. I was asked to speak to a class of design students at Indiana University – Northwest, about freelancing. I’m a strong supporter of fundamentals and that’s where I started. I gave this speech about the Human Side of Freelancing. I wanted them to understand what it takes to freelance – as a person – before they ever jump into the rapid waters of the design industry.
Over the years I have identified many attributes, that when combined, make up a very well-rounded individual and I believe are the keys to a successful career. Full disclosure: I didn’t have a way to organize this information until I heard Pastor Mike of Faith Church in Dyer, preach one weekend, on a new series about the hole our gospel. He talked about, as Christians we can have all the knowledge in the world in our head, but it must filter down to their heart and translate into doing good deeds and works with their hands. After hearing that it really help me make sense of the following information.
The first set of attributes I have identified is broken down into Head.
Predictable Process: As a freelancer or design professional in general you must have a process for which you work. You need a predictable and flexible process to your work flow. Having a process that is tightly outlined will translate into a smoother, organized, and reliable outcome. Failure to have a process in place can result in missed deadlines, unneeded stress and unprofessional outcomes. This takes time and over the years I have picked and pulled from other freelancers processes to make one of my own. My process starts with a phone call, email or referral requesting services. For the sake of this example I will use a logo as the final product. After the initial contact, I’ll send the client a questionnaire regarding the logo, this questionnaire is a great starting point and a means of gathering information before we get started with the project. After I receive the questionnaire back, I’m than able to see the scope of the project with a little more light and for clarity I’ll either call the client or meet with them in person(the preferred option). Now that I have talked to them about their project have all the information I am than able to give them a proposal for services – an estimate, project timeline, and contract. Once I receive my 50% deposit I start the project. I work on the project, go back and forth with the client, create the final logo, submit final files and style guide, than final invoice. They pay it in 15 days. And I’m done. Of course every project has its hiccups, but since I have a process down I’m able to adapt quicker and smoother to hiccups that happen along the way. No two projects are alike, clients are different and so is the project. A strong process to deal with change is key to any successful outcome.
Multi-Tasking Ninja: The ability to do more things at once goes without saying. But recent studies have shown that you are less productive than you think when you multi-task. Be it true or not in the design world. The type of multi-tasking that I’m talking about is the ability to do multiple things away from the computer. Like listen to an audio book while getting ready in the morning or driving to work. Sketch while watching your favorite T.V. show, Hold more than one thought in your head. Yes, I still think that you should be able to work on more than one project at a time. I’ve never had a project that didn’t overlap with another one in my whole career. You should be able to switch from print to web and back again in the same day. If you have trouble multi-tasking then you’ll have a rough time juggling projects or responsibilities.
Administrative Bones: When you’re the king of the forest you call the shots. As a freelancer you are in charge…of everything! That means from sending countless emails, numerous phone calls, meetings, billing, taxes and all the things a secretary would do. You have to use the side of your brain that is organized and structured. You need to be deeply involved with this process of your business in order to run effectively. As a freelancer there are tons of tools out there for billing, taxes, time keeping and so on. The tighter you are on the administrative end of your freelancing the less headaches you’ll have to deal with, freeing up your creative side. Take note that I send “less” and not all. Being a freelancer you have to deal with multiple problems on a daily basis that fall outside of the scope of your proposal and process. There are tons of thing that can happen, which translates into phone calls, emails and communications that need to take place. Just know as a freelancer you have to deal with this stuff along with the creation of your projects.
Marty McFly: The ability to manipulate time is the key to my success. I know exactly how long it takes me to do any number of task, travel or process. I have an ultra heighten awareness of time. It’s something that I can have 10 layers back in my thought process about any given number of things. Knowing how to use your time wisely is beneficial not only in life but as a freelancer. You can’t take for granted the time you have every day. Like writing this blog post for instance. I’ve moved and managed time over the period of two weeks in order to write this. It’s a constant game of chess and you’re in control of the pieces. It comes with practice and over time you’ll be able to know how long something takes – from getting ready in the morning to illustrating a logo – once you have an appreciation of time, it works for you.
Responsible, Disciplined, Organized Robot: The bottom line is that clients are paying you (hopefully) money to create materials or experiences for them. There is a great responsibility with that. Once you have gained their trust and received your deposit – you are now obligated to come through with a product. Not just any product, a creative, professional, under budget, on time, working, functional product. As freelancers we must do so, time and time again. If not, then we won’t have any work to even talk about. There is a level of discipline that is required to be a freelancer. Be it as simple as not going to hang out with friends because your on deadline or a creating your own typeface for a project instead of reaching for one in your list. This often gets over looked and taken for granted but a focused and disciplined freelancer will win every time over one who is not. To wrap up this section you couldn’t do any of this unless you were organized. You have to have the ability to put your ducks in a row. If not you won’t make it to meetings on time, you’ll forget to contact people, you’ll miss a deadline, have issues with billing. You have to be organized – period.
Craftsmanship: As a design professional you must have a high level of craftsmanship tied to your work. It’s the visual representation of your ideas. If you can’t bring to life the ideas of your client then what good are you as a designer. The output is the star of the show. It’s the main item people will hire you for. Yes, there can be great creative behind a failing idea. And yes, you can put tons of talent behind a stupid concept. We see it every day. Big and small companies do it. But the key to success is to combine great creative with an amazing concept. And if you don’t have the skills to make that happen. Then you’ll need to get up to par and beyond, if you want to make it as a freelancer.
Craftsmanship does not mean being handy with Photoshop. It means having an eye for composition and details that the normal person overlooks, as standard. To be a great designer you must have this in you. If you develop it over time or wake up with this gift, you’ll be well on your way to having rock solid work.
Specialized Expert: There are two schools of thought in the design world. Be a Jack of All Trades or be an expert in one or two specific areas. I started off as most of us do, as an all consuming creative sponge. I wanted to learn everything and anything related to design. I’ve design everything from packaging to billboards to bus signs. From web to video and back again. It’s all rather fun. And I think you might have to go through that process before you settle into a specialty. It’s different for everyone. After doing all those different things you come to the realization that you might be really good at one thing. When folks are looking for freelancers they look for the best person for that project. As an agency or client you might have very specific needs. Enter the expert. As an expert in your concentration you will have the upper hand in this selection process. If you are a rock star logo designer then you might not be a good fit for an email newsletter. But if you are a email newsletter expert then I think you’ll have a better chance at fitting that project. Experts still have to adapt but being super good at one thing may prove beneficial in the future. We will just have to see.
Passion Fruit: Do you love design? Do you love what you? Many of us have a love/hate relationship with design. The process and day to day operation of running a design driven life can take its toll on the best of us. But at the end of the day do you lay your head down with a smile? Knowing that when you wake up you can do it all over again. Having a deep passion for design is critical. When you spend long nights on a project or hours upon hours on getting the logo just right, having this deep rooted passion will get you through the rough times of design. We all get into this business based on passionate at one point or another but its this passion that we can draw upon time and time again to replenish our creative bucket.
Morals and Integrity Compass: Recognizing your moral compass can be hard if you are not grounded in faith and a good moral foundation. There are a lot of opportunities to take advantage of clients or the system. From over charging, to outsourcing oversea’s to copying another designers work to using clip art and calling it your own. You must have some integrity to have long term success. I’ve seen other designers get called out on this. I’ve seen companies put other designers work on their website and try to sell it. I’ve had a major retailer rip off one of my designs. Only offer services you can follow through with and only offer services that you can do well.
I like that guy/girl: Being personable goes a long long long long way. I can’t stress this enough. No one wants to work with an egoistical, snobby, know-it-all. Having a bad attitude or filled with negativity will get you know where. It will ruin your reputation and no one will want to work with you. Clients pick up on this instantly. I’ve meet with clients and have heard horror stories of past designers. I’ve built my relationship with clients much like any personal relationship. Be nice. Be a great listener. Read body language(so important) and be here for them. I’ve had my ups and downs with clients through the years. But I’ve learned how to foster a relationship into a great partnership. It comes with time and expereince, work on being a great person and being a great designer will naturally follow.
Head + Heart – (Hands) = This is a person that has a great business sense, can fully run the show. They also have a deep passion for what they are selling. They love design and can sell you the farm. BUT withoutHands they don’t have the ability to create good work. They have a hard time expressing their clients ideas. They may know how to use photoshop but they can’t send a file to the printer. Their selections are horrible and it looks like they cut out a photo with a butter knife.
Head + Hands – (Heart) = This person has an incredible ability to bring to life your ideas and knows every trick of the trade. They can make it to a meeting on time and every project is on schedule. BUT without Heart they do the job as a means to pay the bills. Its just work. There is no real passion behind it. The work becomes stale over time and there is no real creativity – it looks good – but it’s just slightly warm – not on fire with awesomeness. This person might cut corners to make an extra buck or do work that goes against their morals.
Hands + Heart – (Head) = This person is the a rock star, they come up with the latest trends and have a deep passion for creating great work. People love them and what they can do for their product or message. BUT without Head, they can never make it to a meeting on time. They’re constantly stressed or rushed to meet a deadline or miss them all together. They can never get paid on time, has no process and is very unorganized.
Conclusion – Balance:
Have a balance between the three will make for a well rounded freelancer. There are many people who get by just fine and make tons of money not having a balance of all three. The sum of this article was to bring to light what a well rounded freelancer could look like. Look at those around you and see what attributes they have and look at yourself and see how you play into this formula. Long term success has to have a foundation and I strive each day to obtain these qualities. I’ve represented each one of these qualities throughout my career – good and bad – so the soap box I stand on is made of wet paper. I’m still learning and testing this formula to become the best I can be.
When inspiration hits me I just have to go with it. We left some beers in a cooler outside and when they were taken out to be put away they looked really cool. The bottles and cans were so frosty and picture perfect. I kept opening the fridge to look at them. Then finally the urge came over me to do something with them - but I held it off because it was -2 degrees outside. After a few moments I finally gave in and gathered up some tools.
I wanted to shoot this bottle on the ground in the snow. Since it was colder than a polar bears butt, I didn't want to fuss with setting up any lights and take time adjusting settings on this negative degree night. I formulated a game plan. I used a book light that my son got for Christmas. Some rock salt to act as "ice". And a Tupperware lid served as my tripod. My normal tripod was to tall and I wanted to be as low as possible to the bottle without having my camera sit in the snow. That large crystal didn't get used, it was to cold to experiment with.
I gathered up all the things, threw on my coat and got these shots below within 2 minutes. I used the lights from our Christmas decorations as ambient light and the book light as my main light source. Once I set my camera up and got the focus locked in I started snapping away. Each image I moved the light source and adjusted my shutter speed. I lit multiple locations on the bottle, from the neck to the base as well as the surrounding area. I took about 30 images and got the heck back inside.
Once I got back inside I looked over the images and felt that I had enough to pull together a composite. As you can see my handy dandy Tupperware lid wasn't the best option for a tripod. But since its super simple to line up images in Ps I wasn't worried. Looking through the images I was able to pick out my favorite ten. Each image was only going to be used for very specific reasons. A highlight here and background there.
Once I selected the images I wanted in Lightroom, I edited them in Photoshop with the Open as Layers in Photoshop command. From there I auto-aligned the layers so that they were all straight. From that point I started going through each layer to find my base layer. After I did that I placed a layer mask on every layer and starting going through one layer at a time bringing back what I wanted from each layers, adjusting opacity along the way. This gallery is of the images that I used with the final image being the one I created.
Overall it was a lot of fun and something that came together really quick. I learned somethings along the way and I see something things that I should have done differently. Side note: After doing all this I was to cold to actually drink the beer and it was to pretty to open. Next time I guess.
If you've followed me for sometime then you'll know that I post some of my photos on Unsplash.com. Unsplash is a website that allows user to upload their own photos for others to use royalty free. Great images to use free of charge. I'm sure this makes some photographers cringe while it makes people who want to use great images for free really happy. So why do I choose to contribute to a site like this? There are a couple reasons. So let's dive into them.
Give a penny, Take a penny.
I use Unsplash for a lot of projects that need placement photos for moodboards. Its a great resource for high quality images. And like the saying goes if you take a penny then you have to put one in at some point. Since I use Unsplash and the communities photos I figured I'd jump right in and give back.
Its really cool to see people use, view and share my images. Here are some cool emails they send me periodically as well as a screen shot of some stats on one of my images.
Seen in the wild
Stumbling across one of my images in the real world is pretty cool. A quick image search on google can show you where and how your images are being used. My food images get used the most but other times its something random. Here are a few shots of my images being used in the wild.
This are really cool examples of how your images can be used, the french toast image was also replicated almost exactly by an oil painter in Europe but I can't find the image.
Lastly the reason I share my images is because I shoot a lot of images that never see the light of day. They are just sitting in my Lightroom catalog collecting digital dust. Sure I could post them to a stock site and try to make money off of them but I'm not interested in that. I think you should give back and this is a great way to do so. The image are just sitting there so they might as well get used by someone. Image how cool it would be (and interesting) if everyone had gateways to their Lightroom catalogs online and you can access them, view and use other photographers images. Crazy and stupid idea I know... or is it?
Let me know what you think and if you have ever used my images for anything shoot me a link I'd love to see how you are using them.
A couple months ago I was asked to design graphics for the Valpo Dash station. It was an incredible opportunity to get my artwork on a neat surface. That surface being a shipping container. The wheels were spinning and I thought of all the things I wanted to do. I got the green light to do whatever I wanted to do and so naturally it was going to be monsters. The Valpo Dash bus takes Valpo residents back and forth to Chicago. Its a great alternative to driving to the city everyday. I knew I wanted something bright and colorful. I sketched out some ideas and settled on this design. I shot it over and got the thumbs up.
Once I had some idea down on paper. I had to get accurate measurements. Luckily the company wrapping the box had those. There were a couple challenges with windows and door seams but overall it was a pretty straight forward design... so I thought.
The designer at the printing company had to go on site and remeasure a couple times and then since the shipping container was corrugated the design had to be stretched and pulled in the main file in order to get it all to fit properly. I think it turned out great. To date the front is only done and the sides are set to be completed once it gets nice out. There were also four bike lockers that I got to put artwork on and the faces look great. The final artwork is super bright and colorful. I wanted to be sure you could see it from the road. If you're in the area check it out!
Creating artwork is one of my favorite things to do. It's much different than working on a concept for a new brand or photographing a family or some food. Drawing, sketching and painting trigger different parts of my brain in its own special way. I recently completed a group of paintings for a show at Blackbird Cafe. A local (Valparaiso) coffee shop that is right across the street from my work. I frequent there often and I have always wanted to show some art there. I was in one time a couple months ago and asked for the person in charge of the art section. Daniel is one of the owners and was gracious and willing to let me hang some pieces in the shop. This gave me a deadline and the something to aim for. I knew what I wanted to do I just had to do it.
As time passed and weeks turned to days I felt confident I would be done on time, even though I hadn't lifted one finger towards my artwork.
So I got home after work the day before the artwork was due and here's what happened.
That's my process, nothing fancy or glamours just good old fashion hard work. After I was done painting all of them I had to add the hardware to hang them and clean up. 3 a.m. I was finally done.
These pieces are all for sale and will be hanging at Blackbird Cafe in Valparaiso during the month of October. Stop in and check them out.