Saturday, December 24, 2005

Merry X-mas and Happy Holidays!!!


Did I just declare war on Christmas? Ahh how silly we are, we little human creatures. Seriously Merry Christmas/X-mas/Kwanza/Holidays/Hanukkah, etc, etc. We all hope your holidays are peaceful and enjoyable times.

Goings on with the studio.... busy. I have had little time to post... I have been swimming, swimming like a shark, always looking for new freelance which can be tenuous at times but has been gradually gaining steam, so very, very busy. As you have read here, sadly the EBEJEEBIES project is on hold due to a situation that cropped up, no fault of ours, we had no control over. The good thing is we own the property and it will come back again, probably next year. Also, between freelance, a lot of work has been done on Theos, new work, and much of it is ending up on the Deviant site. One final thing before I must depart, the forum, sadly, I must report is malfunctioning and frankly broken. This is why we haven't been posting on it. The damn thing won't even let me on. We're going to kill it soon and put a new one up, once we get it working (crazy PHP). I should have posted about this earlier to fill anyone in that might wish to post there, it's simply messed up in the code somewhere and dead, just plain dead. We hope to have the new one working soon so stay tuned, until then you can post on this blog even if you're not a blogger, anyone can. Once again Happy Holidays Everyone Yes it's last year's but unfortunately I've had no time to make a current one for 2005. Next year, next year).

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

The Care and Feeding of Your Artist

This one’s an open letter to all who commission work from an artist, no matter how big or how small (the work, not the artist). It’s a bit of free consultation from someone who’s worked in the industry. It’s a wee bit of wise advice from someone who has suffered and seen friends suffer. Finally, it’s a dose of common sense. Here it is:

Let the artist stand (or fall) on his / her own creativity.

Not too hard a concept, eh? The problem is, if you wield the money, there is the overwhelming (and easy to understand) urge to become an editor, to muck around in the finger paints and put your indelible mark on it.


Just don’t.

Let the artist go.

This is not to say, “Do not give direction” or “Do not provide background”. The more of that there is, the better. But once the parameters have been set, just let go.

Let it go!

It’s kind of like, “If you love something, set it free…” except here it will always come back to you, and it will (90% of the time) be better for it.

Marvel and DC Comics learned this lesson the hard way. For years, they hired talented young artists and writers, and then forced them into a mold. Anyone remember “How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way”? And what did they get? Work that looked uniform, exactly the same… which is fine if you’re producing plastic pails or Oreo cookies, but for comics… it got kind of bland. No one could tell any of them apart. Tell me, which Marvel and DC comics sold the best? Remember? The ones by artists whose work looked different than all the other guys’ stuff… McFarlane, Adams, etc. Which stories sold the best? The ones that broke the “Comics Code Authority” mold… Miller’s Dark Knight, Killing Joke, etc.

Which Hollywood movies are best remembered? The blockbusters where every producer has to have a cameo and his own personal script rewrite? Or the focused vision of an unfettered director? Fifty years from now, people will still be watching Blade Runner and Brazil. I doubt I can say the same for Armageddon and Lost in Space.

The key here is to research the artist you wish to hire first. Research him or her thoroughly. Decide if you like their style. Decide if the kind of work they do is what fits your vision. Provide the details of the job, and any background information. Then… let go. If there are corrections needed, consult. But don’t attempt to contort the creative process without reason. It’s like trying to bend a sheet of glass. Pretty soon, everything is in pieces… the vision, and perhaps a pair of sanities.

Granted, there are times when the parameters are pretty tight. I do some freelance writing for projects where there is not a lot of creativity involved. The trick is, I know this going in. And so should any artist for hire.

Mike (and many other freelance artists) have run into situations where the artist is invited to “do whatever” and “have free creative reign” and then… SLAM! Down comes the box. If there is not a lot of room for creativity (like if you want them to copy another’s style exactly), then this must be understood before the start. You won’t scare many artists away, and you will have the respect of those who stay. If the artist refuses a commission, then it’s for the best. Move on. Someone else will do it.

“But I deserve to control the process!” insists the employer. Well… if you don’t trust the artist’s look, sensibilities, and creativity, then why hire them in the first place? Yes, I know. You control the money. But realize this: by trying to micro-manage the artist’s output, by trying to make the image conform to YOUR vision rather than THEIRS, you are getting LESS for your money rather than MORE.

Obviously, there are parameters. If you ask for a color CG rendering of a beautiful girl and get a pencil sketch of a duck wearing bloomers, there is cause for complaint. If you ask for Kate Moss and get Chesty Love, there’s a problem. What I’m trying to say is, don’t sweat the unimportant details. General kinks and small details can be ironed out, and any reasonable artist will make corrections. Just don’t try to make the artist into something they are not.

In summary:

DO be honest about the creative parameters of the job.

DO have an understanding of what you want going in.

DO provide plenty of background details.

DO provide as much reference material as possible.

DO submit any changes as soon as possible.

DO choose the artist based upon their previous work and its suitability to your project.

DO allow the artist to express their own style.

DON’T micromanage.

DON’T think that controlling the money allows you to control the artist.

DON’T make wholesale changes after the work is nearly completed.

DON’T sweat the small stuff.

Saturday, December 03, 2005


Immediately deciding to break my vow that there will be less extraneous commentary on this blog, I present... extraneous commentary. No, actually, really, it's related to Detroit, and thus to the Detroit Project. No, really.
By the way, SafeT... keep that drumroll going for a few more days there... that's a good chap.
I found out who's playing the halftime show at Superbowl XL in Detroit! It's the Rolling Stones!
The Rolling Stones?
Normally, I couldn't work up the energy to bother, since the Rolling Stones are about as vanilla and boring a rock act as the world is ever likely to see... and I have no interest in watching the Superbowl... and if I did, I would check out the goofy commercials, then the game... and it would take the threat of forcibly removing my toenails with pliers to get me to watch that steaming pile of offal known as the Superbowl Halftime Show. The only thing that might make it interesting is if Mick Jagger had a wardrobe malfunction and graced 100 million households with the sight of his pastie-covered, withered nipples. On second thought, no. Not even that.
So why, you may ask, are my shorts in a knot?
Because choosing the 'Stones is yet another slap in the face of DETROIT. Yes, that's DETROIT! You know? MOTOWN?????
Does it make any sense at all that a city with as much musical heritage as this one would have ALL OF IT ignored so they could put a bunch of shriveled Brits up there? No offense to any shriveled Brits in the audience, of course...
Instead of Mick n' Keef, how about Stevie Wonder? Diana Ross? The Temptations? What remains of the Four Tops? (I think they just call themselves "The Tops" these days)...
Okay, so Motown isn't what the execs want. How about rock? Alice Cooper? Iggy Pop? What's left of the MC5? Too old school? How about one of the millions of techno artists who started a whole genre? No? How about pop goddess Madonna? Still holding out? How about something real modern, like Kid Rock or Eminem? Actually, seeing as how this is the friggin' Superbowl halftime show and the damn thing goes on for freakin' ever, how about doing a quick complete history of Detroit music? A bit of song from all of the above? WHY NOT?????
Because they're stupid and the whole world hates Detroit. The NFL sucks. Bean counters suck. Marketing people suck.
Because, gee, if you actually honored the MUSIC OF DETROIT the one freaking time you actually hold the damn Superbowl in the CITY OF DETROIT, you might, I don't know, actually have SOMETHING WORTH WATCHING. Then I could keep my toenails and everyone would be happy.
All I can say is, they better let some Detroiter do the national anthem, or I'm getting REALLY mad!