Saturday, December 29, 2012

Website

I republished my website tonight & I'm trying to decide if its worth having for another year.
It will expire in a few months and I'm just unsure if it is something that is necessary.
I have 2 good clients & it was good to have when I was trying to showcase my stuff to them. Since I have pretty steady work right now (Praise God) it feels less like something I really need.
It does feel classier than just directing a prospective client to a Deviant Art account.
I think back to my old partner & the fact that he had me design him a website for him. He never directed ANY traffic that way.
Or my friend John who moved to help start a new church & they had a website designed. Now granted it was designed by a member of the church & I don't know if it cost them to build it. Still I was at the site last week & their blog hasn't been updated since July.
Seems like a waste of time.

I don't want my site to be just a vanity thing.
I do host my blog there & I update this thing a lot.
So I drive some traffic to it at least that way.

Guess ill figure this out before it expires.

If you are reading this & a fellow artist let me know if you have a site & if you think it's worth it.

Thanks for reading
Alan

Random

Closing out the year with a couple projects.  This has been a pretty great year for art. Not the most lucrative but any year that goes by where my only job is drawing is a good year.
Currently  have 3 good clients which is weird for me.

Just some randomness for this blog that is too long for tweets or too random for facebook.
On here I don't feel like Im forcing myself on you like on facebook.  This is completely elective. So if you've made it this far then it's your own fault.

The highlight of my year was the UpperDeck card set.  I got paid to draw Marvel characters and that is a dream come true

I realized this year as well that I can't look at other artists work unless I think I'm better than them. However if I think I'm better than you but we work for the same client I have to avoid your work because then I get irritated that we are probably making comparable money.

Lost my best friend this year and found out that really wasn't as bad as I thought it would be.
He kinda went pretty pretencious & condecending  over the last year or so.

Finally, a big thank you to my wife Linda Myers for hanging in there with me for the last 12 and a half years. She is probably the only reason I have been able to do this for a living.  Even though we are broke a lot of the times she still encourages me to just do this.  She knows this is what makes me happy. So thanks Lin if you are reading this.

Thanks for reading?

Alan

Few Drake Designs

Just finished a shirt comission here are a few pieces. 













Thursday, December 27, 2012

Best of 2012 (the Movies)


Here are my top movies for 2012.  

Making the list is just fun for me and I do it every year whether it gets read by anyone or not.

This year what was important for me was rewatchability. The majority of the movies on the list are ones I saw and have watched several more times on digital download since.

Django Unchained - This may be my favorite movie this year. Christoph Waltz was beyond amazing. Jamie Foxx gave a performance as good or better than he did on Ray. whether you like the movie Ray or not doesn’t matter cuz I hated the film but Foxx was ridiculously good in that movie and probably even better in Django.
Every moment of the almost 3 hour Django was not only engrossing but perfect. 
I can’t recommend this enough and I can’t wait to see it again and again and again.

The Dark Knight Rises- This movie has a ton of flaws but it was a really fun movie and a great way to end the trilogy.  Personally I would be thrilled if Joseph Gordon Levit got to play Batman in the upcoming Justice League movie although that is doubtful.

The Avengers- This is what a summer blockbuster is supposed to be.  it was epic and fun and infinitely rewatchable. More so to me than any of the stand alone Marvel films. As much as I love them all especially the Iron Man movies this was a nearly perfect super hero film.  

Pitch Perfect- I got sucked into this movie by seeing a clip of the star Anna Kendrick doing a musical number with an empty plastic cup.  Went and saw the film in the theatre and it was just amazing.  The music the cast the predictable but fun plot.  I have watched this a dozen times on dvd.  Its like a love letter to 80’s teen movies and I love it.

Cabin in the Woods- A solid horror movie. It was fun and unexpected. There was just no way of knowing where that movie was going to go next and I had an absolute blast the 3 times I saw it in the theatre and the handful afterwords at home.

Prometheus- Prequel? Maybe. Still, set in the “Aliens” universe I saw this 2 times in the theatre and keep going back to it in my digital library when I’m working.  I didn’t expect to like the movie this much. Lots of crazy plot holes and people acting just ignorantly but I’m a sucker for a good sci fi film and this hit the spot.

Sinister- This is one of the most original horror movies I have ever seen.  It was expertly crafted and creepy as all get out.  I loved every minute of both theatrical viewings.

DREDD- This is one of those movies that I don’t think anyone I know really watched. I was looking forward to it and it exceeded expectations for sure.  The slow-mo action was amazing.  I thought I’d get tired of that. I figured it was just fodder for the 3D cannon but they made it a plot point that was more than just bullets coming towards you in the third dimension.
It has entertained me just as much in 2D at home as it did in the theatre.
Carl Urban was born to play Judge Dredd and I would LOVE if this got a sequel which is currently doubtful.

21 Jump St- this was the funniest movie I saw in the theatre this year.  To me it was more than a comedy it had comedy, drama and action.  
So many comedies this year were just trying to be shocking, like Ted or That’s my Boy. This movie was a solid film. Great cast engaging plot and well acted. 
Completely changed my mind about Channing Tatum whom I didn’t really care for until this film and his hosting of SNL.  

Skyfall- The best Bond movie I have ever watched. In a world where action movies are just getting bigger and bigger this film managed to have great action sequences and tell a very personal small story.  Definitely a must watch...... over and over.
Javier Bardem was the perfect Bond villain.  The cinematography was mind numbingly beautiful as well.  I was blown away by 007 this time around.

Argo- I thought this was a close second to Django Unchained for the best made and well acted movie this year. It’s crazy how good Affleck at making films. This is only his 3rd outing and it’s phenomenal. 
I hope Ben Affleck gets an Oscar for this film.  Brilliant.

I see a lot of movies every year and this I think is the most mainstream my list has ever been.
A few honorable mentions. John Carter, Looper, the Grey, Machine Gun Preacher and Sleep Tight. 
Movies like Looper as good as they are kind of loose the luster after you know the twists and the ending.
As much fun as John Carter was I don’t find myself going back to it often. 
The Grey is a bit of a downer. Machine Gun Preacher is inspirational but how often are you in the mood for that.  Seems like if I sit down to watch a movie at home this year I just want fun popcorn films.
Sleep Tight is a Spanish movie and it is super creepy.  Thing will haunt you for days. It really is a must watch if you don’t mind subtitles. I think that is what kept it out of my top ten.  It’s not that I don’t like subtitles but rewatchability isn’t there for me because often times I am working when I watch a movie at home.  Trust me though it is definitely worth the watch.

Usually there is a documentary or 2 on the list and while I watched a ton of them this year, I found myself drawn to the light hearted and the fun more than the real.

Lawless was one of the worst movies I watched in 2012.  i had looked forward to it for so long and it was borderline unwatchable to me. Lin and I watched it one Friday night and regretted it ever since.

I think that pretty much sums up my year in movies.  2013 is going to bring us Iron Man 3 and the Man of Steel. Both of those will odds are make the list next year.

Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Best of 2012 (the Books)


My favorite books of 2012

I read 74 books this year.  Which seems low for me but I’ve been a little distracted.

First off Non Fiction. this year I think i read less nonfiction than I have in years. I used to alternate fiction and nonfiction but this year I didn’t.  I think that was probably because of my preoccupation with Jack Reacher novels. 

Hunt for Bin Laden books.  I read Man Hunt by Mark bergen twice this year.  I also read the Finish by Bergen as well.  He was also the author of Black Hawk Down a few years back. An expert in nonfiction.
Along the same lines but certainly not as well crafted was another Bin Laden book.  This time by one of the Navy Seals that was there on the ground during the raid that finally killed Bin laden in his Abbotabad compound.
These books were spellbinding start to finish.  

Nephilim & The Pyramid of the Apocalypse, The Return of the AntiChrist and Apocalypse Soon all by Patrick Heron.
These books are all M.r Herons theories of the end times and its connection to the beginning of time and the Nephilim from Genesis 6:2.  As he says in the books, these are just his theories and posibilities. With that said they are just impossible to put down.  I read the Nephilim and the Pyaramid of the Apocalypse 3 times this year and twice were in a row. Do yourself a favor and read some Heron.

Fiction time.  I read some great book and some ok books this year.  I finally decided this year that if a book wasn’t at least decent then there was no point to finish it.  Life is indeed too short to read crappy books.

Jack Reacher Books A lot of my time was spent reading Jack Reacher novels by Lee Child. I went thru 15 of the books this year.  I’m sure that makes the series my favorite of all time.  I don’t recall ever reading that many books about one character any other time.
Worth Dying For was my favorite.  You don’t need to read the books in any order and I highly recommend the series.

Origin by J.A. Konrath - This was an older book I just got around to this year and it was mesmerizing.  
It’s a supernatural thriller about a box uncovered while digging the Panama Canal.  The box is a tomb and the creature inside may just be the Devil himself.  Excellent book and another one I read twice this year.

11-22-63 by Stephen King tells the story of a man who discovers a portal to the past and his planning to stop the assassination of JFK.  This is the first King book i have read in a number of years and it was perfect. I know the plot seems a little strange but it was an excellent read and one I am sure I will revisit in the future.

Heart Shaped Box by Joe Hill was the creepiest book I have read in a long time. The story is simple. A man with disposable income collects the macabre. One day his assistant comes across a great find online.  Buy the suit of a dead man complete with Ghost says the ad. He purchases the suit and it arrives in a black heart shaped box. Terror ensues.
Joe Hill is the son of Stephen King and the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

Finally I am currently reading the Stand.  11-22-63 was so good I decided to read some more King and the Stand seems to be about everyones favorite.
I have enjoyed it so far and I am about halfway thru.

So thats it for this year.

 Thanks for reading.

Alan 

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

More Military

I got an order a few weeks ago for 4 Army 4 Navy & 4 Marine designs.
I did them & turned them in. Only to find out there was a misunderstanding. The client didn't want Navy as specified in the email. They meant to type Air Force. So I had to scrap the navy designs. Then do 4 Air Force designs to replace them.
Also 1 more Army design. I did as asked and I'm pretty proud of this batch.









Ex Best

I guess as I look back on 2012 even though there is a couple weeks left there are a couple things that stand out this year as...... noteworthy.

One of those things & the only one I'm covering in this blog today is the apparent loss of my heretofore "best friend"

He's been like a brother to me for about 9 years give or take.
He's been around me, my kids & family more than probably anyone that isn't blood relative.
I do miss him. I miss him more than I miss the sister that chose to leave the family a few years back.
Her I never think of, my kids don't mention her and I don't feel a loss.
Him on the other hand I do think about a lot, I do miss & the kids do ask about occasionally.

He moved with his wife to help plant a church in another state.
I visited once & it was great to see them.

I don't think we will ever be close again. Not as close as we were.
It hurts a little less because after I stepped back from the friendship.
It was stunningly apparent that I was a better friend, or at least tried harder than he did.
It's probably because he never had to compete for friends. People genuinely gather around him.
I counted myself lucky to be considered a brother & to be his best friend.

I'm sure he'd think he was the one that tried the hardest but in reality he never had to try.
I would drop ANYTHING at a moments notice to give him a hand.
Where as in return I came in usually second to absolutely anything that he thought was going to be more fun than what I was planning.

I felt for a few months that I was being goaded into arguments. Really trying to get me to argue. About faith, doctrine, anything he could.
It was obviously overt, what actually brought it to a head.
It was in no way random. I was corralled I to an argument and the more I refused to argue the more irate he became.
To the point he was unlike I'd ever dealt with him. He desperately wanted to fight.
He picked at me for 5 hours via text trying to materialize a fight.
I just wouldn't do it. He called me names. He brought up a laundry list of things is done thru out the last 8 years that he disagreed with. Or that he thought God would disagree with.
I managed to not argue or fight. 5 hours of deflecting & trying to not argue in hopes to salvage what we could after he cooled off.
Didn't happen though & we haven't talked since.

He's a good guy & I genuinely wish him the best. I don't feel mad at all about it which is normally my go to emotion when I feel betrayed.

I've heard since things went south that there are plenty of us back here that ran into the same problem with the people that left to plant the church.
Lots of friendships tested & torn by the same thing.
A really good friend if mine had a very long lunch with me one day & without prodding told me several similar stories to mine. So that made me feel better too.

That was a pretty big deal for my 2012.

However with that off my plate I find myself in better communication with my wife.
I had a habit you see, of talking my problems out with friends. My wife works during the day. So while I'm here working from home I'd use my friend as a sounding board.
Then feeling better about what ever it was because I'd gotten it out of my system I would blow it off rather than talk to Lin about it.

Well thanks for reading. This was cathartic

Alan

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Dream Job! (?)

I have the dream job I wished for as a kid. Except in the dream it paid better.

I draw for a living. I draw a lot.

I start my day later than most. Usually a solid start by noon.  Then I work at a desk in my office until usually 9-10 at night.  Sometimes later and very seldom earlier.

I run an average 65 hours a week.

I love doing art for a living but I miss a lot.

I don't get to hang out with my family like a lot of people do.  I eat dinner with them and try to watch a 30 minute "night time" show with them of an evening.

I miss them a lot.  Sometimes I wonder if a regular job wouldn't just be easier and better for the family.  I'd make the same amount roughly but at least I'd know when  it was coming in. As it stands I can go weeks without getting paid.  Or paid in such small increments at a time that its hard to make ends meet.

I have a ridiculously supportive wife. She encourages me to focus on art and to make this work. She is my biggest fan and there is no way I would be able to do this without her.


I do most days, think this is the best job ever but once in a while, days like today I feel low when I hear the kids playing but I can't join them because of deadlines.
I don't sketch as much either cuz drawing when I don't have to doesn't quite relax me like it used to.

Anyway, thanks for reading




Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Military Pin Ups



Doing some armed forces designs and tried a few very simple pin ups.

Whattya Think?

I do graphic art from my home, you can find some of it here and some at my website www.KidIcthus.com

Here is my current situation. Say a client calls and wants a 6 designs.  Normally I do the designs submit them for approval and wait to send an invoice.

The issue is that occasionally the client doesn't want the designs or take so long to decide that I go without getting paid for long periods.

So my dilema is this...

If a client orders 6 designs is it appropriate for me to send the invoice with the art?  I did the work, so part of me feels I have the right to get paid for my time.  I charge a absurdly low rate on my art.  For example


  I charged $50 for the piece below.

and $30 for this one....

I want to be fair to the client but also i'd like to know if I put in the time and like with my last assignment have to turn down work in order to meet a deadline that I will get paid.

What are your thoughts? 


Monday, December 10, 2012

Christmas List

OK, this feels weird, I am not asking for anything for Christmas but there are a few relatives and such that want to know what I want were they to get me  anything.

I'd rather all focus be on my kids but I understand my mother and wife will probably get me something.

Here is a list of a few things I need. These are all the styles I like not necessarily the exact item.  I didn't include links cuz you can get them at any dept store.
As far as colors go Black and Earth tones for outer wear and it doesn't matter for shirts or lounge pants


A Coat.

I haven't had a coat since 2004.  I had a Carhart coat that lasted me 10 years and it was fabulous.  After I tore it up I never bought another.  I'm just not outside that often when its cold.  However as I get older I get Colder.
This green coat is a lot like the one I lost back in '04
I know it would last for another 10 years or better.






Beanie

Tight knit beanie or "boggin" cap. Ribbed is the best and usually the tightest.  I like to know a hat is there.



Fleece Pullover

No zip up and not a "sweat shirt" while some are made of fleece its not the same as a fleece pullover.
Again with outer wear like this black or earth tones. Hoods are fine

If I do not get a coat this winter I will be wearing fleece instead and while they aren't as warm as a coat they help.  currently down to 2 and I could use another (or 2)


SHIRTS

 size XL God willing I won't get any bigger. I like plaid but I do not wear flannel often.  It shrinks and fits me weird. I wear long sleeves pretty near year round so never short sleeves.



Lounge Pants

I spend ALL of my time at the house in lounge pants. I work from home and this is my uniform.  I can not have too many of these and currently I only have 2 pair.  My mother and Father in Law got me a pair last year and I have almost wore them thru in places.  

Gift Card Amazon or iTunes

I don't buy DVD's or blue rays anymore all my movies are digital so an Amazon or an iTunes gift card is great.

So thats my list.  If you are going to get me something and I'd just as soon you didn't.  Being a freelance artist while its a dream come true isn't necessarily the best paying gig and we can't afford to spend much for Christmas ourselves.
So especially if this is one of those "Let's get them something great, so they spend the same or more on us" kinda thing don't bother cuz thats not going to happen.  Wish it could but it's not in the cards this year.

























Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Approved by Upper Deck (and Marvel)

Today I got the approval for the Marvel sketch cards I did for Upper Deck.
This was the first time I have ever worked on a sketch card set for any company and it was probably the most fun i've ever had doing an art job.  
In the end 54 of the 100 cards I produced were approved.  I'm personally happy with that number because I know there were a ton of artists that submitted cards. 
Since it was my first set though i don't know if Upper Deck considers 55 cards worth having me work on any more sets after this one.  I pray they do.  I want to do more card more than anything I've ever done.
So here are some of the approved cards.  There were a few that while they were approved I personally wasn't happy with so I didn't post them.

Thanks for Reading
Alan