Thursday, November 1, 2012

New Work! Deathline!


Heres some new work for Paizo i finally have permission to show. these are for two new scenarios for pathfinder called 'The Cultist's Kiss' and 'Severing Ties'. these were my first commissions solely focusing on portraits, and it was a lot of fun. the deadline was a real challenge, but im pleased with the results for where im at. lots left to do and lots more to learn.

speaking of, some of you might remember the Deathline challenge i began a year ago. my goals for the year were the following-

to develop a new professional portfolio- accomplished
to become self sustaining off of freelance- accomplished (in the 11th hour)
to lose 100 lbs and get in better shape- i lost 35, and made exercise regular

Im happy to say this year was overall a really good success and a hugely productive one. the first year after college is the time where most people in the arts make it or break it, and im relieved to say that things are on that ladder to a career. As far as the weight loss, working with tufts medical taught me a lot and while it hasn't gone as fast as I would have liked, im well on the way to losing it in a healthy way and keeping it off. and, hey, 2.35 out of 3 isn't (too) bad. Im gonna give some thought to deathline 2 this week and decide on some new goals so i dont lose track of the big things in year 2.

hugs and kisses. <3


Sunday, October 28, 2012


Hey, all!

as mentioned before, i cant show anything im doing lately. so its time to share what people in the daggers have been doing under my mentoring class. the mentoring is in a sort of beta testing period. I think its going to go very well, but for now its all trial and error! heres what 3 of my students have been doing, with some links to the video crits as well as the forum thread with everyones work! Ill have new stuff to show next week.

below are works by (in order) Thomas Mahon, Malan, and Tadas. their submitted design is on the left, my crit is on the right, and the explanations as to what i did and why are in the video (3 hours of me and david talkin bout armor.)

Hope everyones well!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

the long push to 2013

Hello, all!

for those of you who might not know, ive been working regularly for Paizo on some pathfinder campaigns for about a month now. its a lot of fun and im really enjoying it. Im not able to share the work im doing for them with you yet, but when i get the OK ill have tons of new stuff to share. ive got solid work almost til the new year, so i should be good and busy through the holidays.

Comic-con was also great fun, and it was awesome seeing those of you i got a chance to hang out with. It also made me realize that its time to make a more serious site, and that is in the works. (Thanks, Marc). ive never been this busy before, ever. even when i was finishing school. forgive me for not being able to stream as much, I hope you all understand. for those interested, ive started my first run at mentoring over on the daggers site. i run it on sundays, and i think it'll be a cool experience. you can follow it and check out the classes here-

lastly, heres a new piece i can share. its a new card for moonga, and it was easily the hardest thing my colorblindness has ever had to deal with painting. youll see why.

more soon. <3
© Everdreamsoft

Thursday, September 20, 2012

some good news and some new work!

Hey everyone. first off, for those of you who frequent the stream, id like to apologize for not being on much at all lately. I promise ill get some time for it in my schedule soon. The reason ive been away is because recently ive had a huge increase in NDA work- which for those unfamiliar, means work i contractually cant share. Ive taken on so much that its been almost impossible to make time for anything else, including the stream. The good news is ive landed a freelance job with Paizo as well as several other smaller clients that will mean regular work. they've been tons of fun, and i cant wait to share what ive been doing for them with you when my contract allows it. Ill also be at new york comic-con, as those of you who listen to the stream have probably heard. if you can find me, ill give you a hug. if you cant, then prepare to leave the con un-embraced.

below are some symbols i wrapped up for dream reactor's card game. theyre sort of heraldic takes on the 6 faction symbols in the game. because the images had to work at multiple sizes, some very small, the textures had to be generalized and painted in manually with less details than a textured brush would offer. was a lot of fun to try my hand at.

more soon, I promise.

<3 Dan

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Old and New!

Hey! havent updated in a while. a lot has been happening! since my last update, ive moved into a really great but much more expensive apartment. this means I have to do a lot more work! ive been streaming less and working more and ive got all kinds of stuff in the works i hope to be able to show soon. today, im gonna upload some stuff from the villains a couple weeks back you may have already seen, and a newer card for Dream Reactor games. new paintings, some UI stuff, and sketches soon!



Thursday, August 9, 2012

this might be done?

ive got some new jobs i have to get started on, and my move is wrapping up this weekend, but i wanted to post my king card which i think is done finally. maybe it isnt, but i think it is. who knows.

pics and love from the new workspace coming soon.


Monday, August 6, 2012

Thanks, Brah

Ooooooooo its been a long month. between the stress of moving, working freelance, and all the usual streaming and studying, its been a rough go lately. the move has been wrapping up and i should have it settled soon. But i wanted to say thanks to everyone for being so supportive and awesome on and off the streams. when i needed more work, you guys were there to help, getting me freelance gigs from forums i hadnt seen as well as even some card art for employers you had looking for new people. It really means a ton, so thanks for everything.

heres some new stuff, none of it done, except for the redone cathedral dude fixed with a paintover from david. theres also my villains spreadddd which i hope will be wrapped up soon, and that king card which i themed off some of my favorite stained glass. 

so thanks again to all you awesome friends. you know who you are. more soon!


Sunday, July 22, 2012

Some new, Some old

hey everyone. thanks for all the positive feedback on the last piece, it meant a lot. i just got back from an impromptu  3 day trip to las vegas with my brother and ive been tryin to hit the ground running. ive got 3 new pieces in the works and i wanted to dump these 2 old ones and a rough for one of the new ones.

the oldest here is a weird and very specific character commission some of you might have seen me working on on the stream. this is as far as i got with it, and i really enjoyed rendering the smoke. so much so that ive adopted it into my momo image below, a book with, conveniently, a large emphasis on smoke.

also below is the my most back burnered image in recent memory. i had to stop working on it, as it should have been done ages ago. be careful of taking on too much at once! the consequences can be terrible.

more soon!


Thursday, July 12, 2012


Been very hard at work this past month. ive got a few more images ill be putting up tonight or over the weekend, but i wanted to share this giant mess below (with detail crops). this started as a sort of stress test, to see what i could do with the same 14 days spent on the gauntlet bloodsport. its got its flaws, but im satisfied with the improvement within the time alloted. updates have been slow on here- theres lots coming! between crimson conversations, NDA jobs, a secret project, and me and Dave's plans for the next year of daggers, ive been totally shut down with work! but im loving it, and look forward to sharing more.

Much love!

Monday, June 11, 2012


this is going to be very long, because theres quite a bit to say. you all asked for it, so here it is. hope you enjoy. there will be typos. 

Ive been meaning to update the blog for a while. though ive been streaming, ive kind of fallen off on here due to a lot of recent NDA work i cant show. there are updates coming with some new art, but i wanted to post up something ive been meaning to for a while now- my experiences in the first year of really taking art seriously. Id like to talk about the troubles, commitments, realizations, and rewards for those of you still wondering whether or not to really go for it. I get the question a lot over on my stream, and the same questions pop up time and time again- people, like i was, who are trapped in a seemingly endless position they are not satisfied with- wondering if and how they can take on the truly daunting challenge of trying to get into professional art. there is nothing in the world more soul crushing and depressing than being a creative person who is not allowed to express themselves and do what they love. Recently ive been defining it as the specific frustration of 'knowing what you want and seeing it in your head' vs the 'inability to convey it accurately on the page'. this, among many other problems, makes it seem impossible to get anywhere in the beginning. Ive dealt and am still dealing with it daily. but it does improve once you've decided theres no going back. Im going to lay out some advice from the past 12 months, and i hope it helps anyone still struggling with this important decision.

1) Accept harsh truths.

Im starting with this advice because it is ultimately the gateway between those who will make it and those who will not. I have not made it yet, and hold no claim to being any kind of success story, but ive met many who have, and have experienced why this is so important first hand. it is a common thread all of your inspirations share, so believe me when i explain it to you. As hard as it might be to accept at first, there are significant sacrifices one needs to make in order to get anywhere worthwhile with their art. As illustrators and concept artists, we are judged based on a combination of voice and skill- that is, our stylistic and personal inclinations as well as our fundamental and technical grasp on the roots of narrative image making. I mention this because, while we all develop our own voice and style naturally over time, skill is something one must work out like a muscle. anyone who's ever gone to the gym knows that results only come over a long period of time and with increasingly dedicated effort. its no different in art, and that means a massive sacrifice of ones time and personal life in order to achieve their real potential. As you progress, you will get faster in all that you do. your understanding of fundamentals will allow you to convey things faster, which will result in more free time and less spent rendering. I mention this because it means one significant thing beginners tend to ignore: your life is not over. Yes, for a good chunk of time- usually around 2 years- you will be primarily at the grindstone working night and day to get to a point where you are able to progress to the next levels- but after that time and sacrifice, you can slowly incorporate the things you've missed back in. treat them as a reward, and not something you're entitled to. your time is the most valuable thing you have, and if you invest it wisely there is no reason you cant take some of it to just enjoy yourself. just be honest, work hard, and earn it.

with that being said, trust me when i say that once you dedicate yourself to this, all of your priorities will change. you will see life differently, and your choices will reflect this change. many things you used to find fun will no longer appeal to you- many of the people you surrounded yourself with to fill time will fall by the wayside, and many of the things you thought you 'had' to do will dissolve into the realities of living your own life. before i took myself seriously as a working artist, and reshaped life according to what i needed to achieve, my days went something like this-

i would wake up. i would go to class because college was the expected natural step after high school. i would do what work i was told to do, and spend all other time outside of said work enjoying myself with the clear conscious that i 'had good grades' and head 'earned some time to myself'. I would play video games religiously, sleep extensively, party regularly, and (heres the important bit) whine constantly. Nothing seemed fair. no matter what I personally wasn't getting done, it was someone else's fault. the school wasn't teaching me stuff i wanted to know! there were no jobs in what i did! noone wanted to pay fair wages so what was the point! id never be as good as those people i admired- they had 'talent' and i did not! Id never overcome my colorblindness! my finances wouldn't allow me to do this for real! and so on and so forth. I can freely admit now that i was being an absolute escapist and procrastinator, using bullshit excuses and transparent problems to avoid shutting up, buckling down, sacrificing my cushy lifestyle, and getting to work. 

It took a hard truth for me to snap into gear- namely the experience of the dallas workshop put on by massive black and and once i had seen the reality of the world i wanted to be a part of, the fear set in. i was older than most of the attendees- and all of them were better than me.  how could i ever land any kind of living in an industry increasingly flooded by passionate and dedicated young visionaries. fear can be a powerful motivator, and if its there, don't ignore it. Embrace it and use it to spark the productive panic you'll need to overcome it. I felt an incredible amount of fear, and to a degree i still do. but the more you go at it head on, the less it will grip you. ultimately all of your problems and excuses and reasons for not doing what needs to be done have one common denominator- yourself. and in that regard, you have only yourself to blame. with that being said, you are the one person you truly have total control over, and if there is a change to be made, you can, and must, force it to occur. Its very hard to get past this point and actually accept the workload ahead of you. but there is no alternative. you will do this or you wont- and all the time, energy, self doubt, and work it will cost is merely a hard truth you must accept. you will learn to love it- but like anything, it will take time.

2) Surround yourself with positive influence. 

Noone can make it entirely on their own, even if they'd like to say so. Its going to be a long and hard incline to get where you want to be- so why go it alone? make friends within the online art community, work alongside them, and try to understand that alone as you might physically be at your computer for the next several months, you can still communicate and participate in a massive and positive community of like minded peers. From experience, i can tell you that becoming a part of the community is a surefire way to solidify your progress. as you grow to know and interact with more people, you will make friends who actually care about your work and advancement. if you disappear, they'll ask where you've gone- if you get depressed, they'll encourage you, and if you get stuck, they will offer help and critique to get you back on track. If you're lucky enough to visit a workshop or one of the more popular ateliers for what we do, you will meet these people in the flesh, and it only makes the satisfaction of that friendship more real. fill your studio with work that inspires you- join groups and livestreams on a day to day schedule to stay on-tassk, regularly update or share your work, and eliminate any gap in your day for laziness or self doubt to creep in. this positive reinforcement will only make you more productive- and will, in time, become an essential part of your professional and social life. once you've met and connected with like minded people sacrificing the same things and sharing the same experiences, theres really no going back. you'll never feel as welcome or as understood. 

3) have realistic expectations.

A lot of people entering into this field for the first time have an in-grown sense of entitlement. most of us have been told by someone or another that we are creative from very early on- others may have gotten excellent grades in art school, with A level portfolio reviews by their professors and peers- and others might just feel, somewhere inside, they they are simply special. 'of course ill get a job- its me. how could I not?'

Its best to eliminate these expectations and prepare for a shock. Speaking as a summa cum laude graduate of art school with a 3.98 average and numerous honors attached to my degree, i can tell you very honestly that it means absolutely nothing in the real world. prepare to redo your entire portfolio, prepare to get very low paying work- or no work at all- as you start to climb the ranks of reality- and prepare for whatever you thought the next logical step was to simply vanish into the reality that your previous life- be it home, school, or work- was a bubble in and of itself. theres a much harder and expansive world outside the bubble, and the accepted rules no longer apply. 

With that being said, expecting these things significantly reduces the stress and discomfort they will cause. Its much better to know a hole is coming that to fall into it blindly. facing these problems having already accepted them allows you to minimize your risk of depression or stress along the way, and to stay productive knowing that even if you aren't getting any work, everything is going according to plan. this is a necessary step in your progress, and a stage almost everyone working in this field has gone through. share it with others and realize it is essential. it will pass much quicker once you have. 

4) Blowback

Hopefully, none of you will encounter this next bit- but some of you inevitably will. I did, all of my peers have, and many of the pros ive had a chance to talk to have. the problem is that, much as misery loves company, so does laziness. if you've been living a life of regular distractions with friends and coworkers, suddenly deciding to leave that system in exchange for an increasingly introverted one will cause a negative reaction. people will wonder why you're ignoring them and avoiding them, and many will likely take it personally or as an insult. Ive had several people this past year take my silence and absence as a slight against them. they call me and ask me to come party or go to bars regularly, and each time id decline i was usually met with some kind of opposition. I can speak to this first hand because, when i was the 'old me' I did it to Dave Rapoza when he got serious about art. suddenly our friend wasn't around anymore and instead of realizing he was being proactive and serious about his future, we got offended and made fun of him. Ive been in the position of those against me first hand, and understand it all too well- and the bottom line is that people too steeped in distraction to pursue the harder things in life tend to resent that spark when it shows up in others. no-one likes to admit they are being lazy, and your absence will force them to do just that. through your progress, other people will see their own shortcomings and lack of drive. if you're lucky, some will respect and congratulate you along the way- but many will use it as a means to project their own insecurities against you. Be ready for it and don't let it derail you- because once you've had any degree of success (and believe me on this), your selfish time away will become legitimate in their eyes, and suddenly you'll be praised with open arms. its a very strange and unfortunate psychological circle we all go through in some way- but again, recognizing and expecting it will minimize its negative effects. find encouragement in online communities of other struggling freelancers and make ties that will reinforce your goal.

5) Dont avoid the hard work.

Even after youve made the commitment to do this, there is room for self-deception. laziness and bad habits are extremely hard things to defeat, so you have to be aware of them at all times. as hard as it might seem to accept- you can work all day, every day, and still get very little done. this is a result of staying within comfort zones and never challenging yourself with the difficult problems necessary to advance. I hear people complain all the time that theyve been working for months and arent getting anywhere- or that no matter how many studies they do they dont see any effect in their personal work- and the answer to all their problems usually stems from not taking the necessary risks. the online art community is increasingly transparent, with sketchbooks and blogs showcasing every step of your advancement. oftentimes, people in the community wont even take you seriously unless youve posted all of your work somewhere, and will inherently think youre lying when you say 'ive been doing it- but is hasnt been scanned yet'. the reason they think this is because its usually true- the vast majority will always lean on excuses and falsifications- preferring to merely seem like they are hard workers rather than doing the work itself. they enjoy the satisfaction of pther people patting them on the back, and have tricked themselves into thinking that by talking about something extensively they have somehow taken it seriously. they havent. If there was ever a case of the proof being in the pudding- it is in your studies. no pudding, no proof- no work, no results. The problem i see people facing, and that i indeed faced when i started up, is that when we start studying we are obviously not very good. our images are flawed, our drawings skewed, and in my case especially, the colors are completely off. this leads us to not want to share the work on forums or blogs. we get sucked into a sort of artistic vanity where we have dueling fears. on the one side, if we dont show the work noone will take us seriously- on the other hand, if we show flawed work, we fear we will become a subject of ridicule. The fear in this stems again from not wanting to admit just how bad we are at a given point in time (and thusly just how much hard work it will take to get where we are going).

Now that ive described it, i hope you can accept it and move past it as best you can. trust me when i say that in this community, dedication and hard work overwhelmingly affect how seriously people take you over quality and accuracy of work. a good thing to remember when you see flawless studies and feel insecure is that when you see no flaws, people tend not to be working on hard enough problems- in itself the stalling problem of the comfort zone. take risks and study things you never have. do still lives, environments, anatomy, light studies. study masters and adopt their techniques. people often ask what formula is best to get good the fastest. the simple answer noone wants to accept is that there is no formula. there are only the fundamentals- anatomy, light, color, composition, and perspective. what mix of them or in what amounts you pursue them are entirely up to you, and your personal blend will inevitably lead to developing your eventual style (which always changes and evolves). the only advice you should adhere to at all times is that if one becomes easy, if you find yourself doing studies automatically without any serious difficulty or concern- its time to rotate out in favor of something else. you will undoubtedly return to a comfort zone later only to find it is far less comfortable.the reason for this is that all fundamentals reinforce the others. study of light shows form where anatomy was once flat lines, color shows depth of field whereas perspective was once purely mathematical, and so on. when you are studying one, you are actually studying all of the others, but their connections and relations are always kept secret until you uncover them.  noone can truly master any fundamental- so keep in mind that no matter how long you study you will never be 'finished' with studying. as you grow, your comfort with and ability to recognize harder challenges will also grow. the studies you do now will not be the studies you do in six months. there is no formula or go-to answer, but instead a shifting set of stairs based on each one of our specific and individual sets of strengths and weaknesses. though they all seemingly branch off in different directions, each is ultimately only going one way: up

with this in mind- make sure you are always producing your own work, reflective of but not rooted in your studies. apply what you learn to enhance it and commit it to memory. without this essential application of the knowledge you gain in studies, you will lose it. one of the biggest problems beginners face is study-sickness- a desperation to be admired on forums that results in the artist having no personal work of any kind, only pages and pages and pages of studies. while the work ethic is admirable, it is a misapplication of your time and effort. a healthy balance is necessary for real, substantial progress. dont be afraid of making your own flawed images. overstudying is in of itself a form of the comfort zone problem- as all studies come from a reference. the reference, for some, becomes a cheat sheet, with the accuracy from source to study creating a sense of satisfaction in the artist. remember that even if you can do the most amazing copies of photographs and still lives ever seen on the internet, you still might be shit when all youre left with is a pencil and a blank page. youre only ever as good as you are without google image search.

6) Don't make it 'a job'

Lastly id like to talk about another major de-motivator. It stems from a few sources, but the end result is no longer enjoying or having passion for what you've set out to do. we all need money, and as we progress, we will take on jobs we may not entirely be fond of in order to pay the bills. this is an important and natural step in your career, and you shouldn't shy away from it. Its easy, however, to take on too many of these jobs and to consequently have a portfolio that plays to your expectations of what employers are looking for. suddenly all your work becomes contrived, stale, and derivative. you've crossed the dangerous gap between creating your own exciting career and simply having a job. there will be a time for all of us where we must take the work handed to us, but it should never be all you are doing. the reasons for this are clear when you consider what would come next. lets say, for the sake of argument, that you don't enjoy drawing architecture. for whatever reason, you are offered a job doing so, and out of need for money, you take it. by putting the result in your portfolio, other clients looking for architecture see it and expect that you enjoy it because you've included it. this leads to more jobs doing it, and a repeating cycle of self-describing work begins. there is only way to get out of this, and its to make time to do what you love at your core. if its characters, reserve time in the week to make sure you're doing some entirely your own. if its weapons, do weapons, if its landscapes create exciting landscapes, and so on. i can tell you in all honesty that the best jobs ive received- both the highest paying and the most artistically rewarding- have come from this self pursuit. make sure the portfolio you show is tailored to the kinds of jobs you want to get- and inevitably (in time) they will find you. don't, under any circumstances, get sidetracked into thinking only one set of things in this industry pays. there is room for all at the table in what we do- and people are far more interested in what you have to say when it is clear you're excited about saying it. the common flaw in most bad work is that the viewer can tell the artist did not enjoy it. there is an awkward feel in something forced and without passion, and while most cant describe it, we all tend to recognize it. avoid it at all costs. 

Its been a full year since i buckled down and started living art. i sit at home and work more than i ever have on anything in my entire life. It wasn't hard once i had decided it had to be done- but it was very hard getting to that decision. The last thing id like to say is that once you've made the commitment and it starts to pay off, it is literally the most rewarding experience you're likely to have had in your life. all the things you think will matter beforehand evaporate, and you don't miss the things you thought yourself hopelessly tied to. Once a freedom opens to invite the things you've sacrificed back in, you find that only the real essentials seem to matter. you've entered a self sustaining cycle of inspiration and productivity and you find yourself wanting to spend your free time doing the same things you do while you work, constantly wanting to try new things and never being satisfied with the previous pieces' standards. It is incredibly fulfilling, and i hope you all have the chance to experience it in full.

you can find me daily on my stream if you have any questions- i welcome them. I look forward to recounting year 2 and all it has in store once i get there. 

Go now. there are other worlds than these.



Tuesday, May 1, 2012

way too busy.

been extremely busy lately between my deathline goals, client work, and personal work. below is a mix of both. everything but the soldier girl is unfinished. lots of NDA stuff lately, so forgive me if im slow to post!



Sunday, April 15, 2012

Keep Calm and Kill Witches.

heres some updates with what ive been up to. none of it is done, but some things are closer than others. hopefully ill have a chance to put up some finishes soon!

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Dan Rants: Volume 2. The Illusion of Division.

We cover a lot of issues in the discussions on my stream, ranging all sorts of topics in the current world of professional art. Over time, a few of these issues have popped up repeatedly, and have resulted in an increased level of reaction. The new result Ive decided on is here in the form of catalogued rants- of which this is the second. Not long ago we had a barrage of questions on the tracing issue, and im happy to say most of that has been put to rest. The next topic id like to lay out is the repeatedly brought up question of division in the art world and the strange politics it has created within groups of artists everywhere.

So, what is this division? Specifically, it's the branching tree of artistic fields one can get into, and the idea that somehow they are different from one another in any tangible way. Illustration, Concept Art, Fine Art, Painting, and Graphic Design have all increasingly become isolated communities, with minimal crossover. Time and time again im contacted and asked which field is 'better' than the other, which field an individual would be best at, and which field is the most lucrative to pursue-  all questions with one unified response: the lines you've broken professional art into are invisible, and, like the boogeyman, only exist if you believe in them.

As we start to break this down, I'm reminded of a line from James Gurney, I believe from the introduction of Imaginative Realism, that says 'There is no high or low art, there is only art', and I could not agree more. Increasingly over the last century, the world of professional art has been split into just that- professions- which, over time, have come to define themselves as jobs requiring a set of compressed and specific skills that separate the people using them from other artists doing other things. You can see this split easiest on the educational level of the art world, where Majors available to students have a wide range of titles- each with their own required courses and materials except for on the fundamental level. In this divided environment, all kinds of strange problems can arise- some of which ive had the displeasure of experiencing myself during my own time served in art school. The end result is a series of bubble environments that groups of otherwise likeminded people are split between, each with their own misguided blanket statements about what they can and cannot do based on what they've been told is and is not how things work. Ive had to endure many of these back in school, and im still seeing them pop up today. Phrases like 'Photoshop is mainly for graphic designers' or 'Of course I don't design letters, Im an Illustrator after all'. It's one of those recurring cases where a basic knowledge of art history can help smooth things over and get people back on track- so without any more hesitation, lets break down where we are today to what it all came from, and hopefully realize that everything were all doing basically boils down to minor professional inflections on the same visual accent. 

Below im going to show, in descending chronological order, the jobs available through time as a professional visual artist. At the top is the modern world today, and at the bottom is the Renaissance and the dark age world before it. 'Fine art' will be exempt from the list, because what is and is not 'fine art' changes age to age. The constant which i will list in its place is 'painting', which can mean anything from the work of the renaissance masters to any and all of the the changing gallery trends of the ages since them.

Today:  Painting, Graphic design, Illustration, Comics, Concept art

1950's: Painting, Graphic design, Illustration, Comics

1900: Painting, Graphic design, Illustration

1850: Painting, Graphic design*

1600's: Painting, Graphic design* 

Renaissance: Painting

*(though the term 'graphic design' did not exist, there was a booming art in letterform design, patterning, and the arrangement of book design between the renaissance and the 1700s which would fuel the birth of future graphic designers such as william morris and alphonse much. Jobs were not available, but the art was being performed nonetheless.

When viewing the chart above, its easy to see at first glance that since the renaissance the field of professional art has certainly expanded. Whats harder to understand, however, is that much of what has come since is merely a matter of titles instead of substance- and that in many cases, one thing is in fact very much alike, if not the same as, the other. What do I mean by this? Ill try to explain bellow with one example which encompasses the entire point, best represented through a man who is considered by many to be the creator and model of the current professional world we live in: Alphonse Mucha.

Before Mucha's time (1860-1939), the terms 'Illustrator', 'Graphic Designer' and 'Concept artist' did not exist. They were, as jobs,  present in the world nonetheless, but all fell under one shared title: Painter. As one such painter, Mucha excelled in one specific area which propelled his career forward, defining all that would come after it- Design. Famous for his ability to wrap text, pages, walls, figures, and sculpture in unique and elaborate patterns and shapes, Mucha was directly responsible for the emergence of corporate identity in the 1800s. He was hired, in no simpler terms, to brand a companies products with a distinct and unique look and title that would catch the eyes of consumers wherever they were shelved. Whats more, thanks to then groundbreaking advances is print and photography, Mucha was able to incorporate images with the text- often of his signature female characters embodying a vast array of themes and products. At the height of his career, Muchas work and influence was present in the entire western world- no small accomplishment once one considers that at this point in history almost all of the east was closed off. But this was only the beginning of his contributions to today's model of professional art. Because categories for artists did not yet exist in Mucha's world, he was seamlessly involved in a number of now separated industries. He was a book illustrator of much merit, as exemplified in his illustrations for Le Pater, he was a painter and muralist of incredible skill as seen in his massive works for The Slav Epic, and he was an accomplished prop, costume, and poster designer for a number of plays and operas- indirectly furthering the pre-production and advertising ends of an industry that would one day come to be called 'Concept Art'. By the time of his death in 1939, Mucha had laid the foundations of nearly every field of work available for professional visual artists in the modern world, and had lived to see his explorations into corporate branding and book illustration thrive in illustrations 'Golden Age'.

So what does this mean? Quite simply, that our fragmented and divided view of what visual artists can do, the paths they can choose to take, and the fields that they may let define them, were all once one and the same- with a common denominator in the representative arts that have always been their ever present backbone. As we've grown more practiced and sophisticated in what we do, naturally some have excelled in certain areas, expanding and defining them further and further. This has caused what was once a unified field to slowly split apart into specialty factions, where some artists focus on only A and B, while some only deal with C or D. We forget that there was a time, not long ago, when only one person was expected to do all the things listed above, and to do them very well. This has led to a strange switch being flipped in the modern artistic climate, where artists are constantly looking ahead and not back, striving to find some undiscovered niche  and unconquered corner of design and statement where they can set up shop and thrive in their self defined 'next big thing'. Its a somewhat new idea, only having been around for the past 70 years or so, where more meaning is placed on art that is unique, brave, and 'new' rather than well versed, grounded, and skilled. where for over 500 years of art, the masters we all fall back on were constantly looking to their predecessors to master and perfect upon, now students are encouraged to look forward toward something that doesn't yet exist, to find some of the few remaining unsaid statements and styles, and to let those lucky finds define them. Its the difference between an artist in the 1930s, (who, well versed in fundamental design and having strong foundation in the 500 years of painting and draftsmanship before him, could take on any job from a book cover to a poster to a stage design to a pamphlet to a newspaper ad to a blueprint for a buildings entryway) and an artist in the modern world (who is very good at using the program or medium he was told to use in school, but if you need anything else you'll have to check the looking for work forums because he's only ever done this one thing and doesn't see the merit / point in doing the others since he paid good money for his degree so what he got out of it should be enough for you).

We all can, and should, be open to doing everything and anything with our work. Every divided field in existence today was once part of something unified and greater, and as such, each can inform and improve the others. Some of the biggest names in what we all do today are hybrid examples of two or even sometimes three of these fields, and people wonder how their illustrations achieve such graphic elements, or how their designs could be so evocative and illustrative within their set parameters. Lets all stop limiting ourselves to the title of what it is we are supposed to be doing. None of these fields are better than the other, and for narrowing ourselves down to any one's accepted set structure we are all actually worse in the end. Lets stop looking down on other types of artists to make ourselves feel better, and instead realize that were all being huge idiots by categorizing these things in the first place.

See you all next time.


Thursday, April 5, 2012


well im back from a short break. didnt want to take one, but my monitor was in the shop again for backlight issues. i took the time to do some pencilling and try to organize what i need to finish for my portfolio. below is some random stuff ive been working on lately.