Other Panda Worlds

Monday, September 29, 2014

Interrupting Girl Illustration Process

Now that I've submitted the last illustration for The Girls' Q&A Book on Friendship I figured now is the best time to release me WORK IN PROGRESS video series. I'll begin with "Interrupting Friend". 

Most of these videos will be showing me doing the clean up work that was required between what I submitted last summer for the dummy and what I submitted this past month for the final published book. In some cases, a lot of clean up work and redrawing was necessary to bring the illustration to the consistent level of quality my publisher and I agreed we wanted to see for the final book. 

In this case a lot of cleanup work needed for removing the 'sketchy' pencil lines in the clothes, skin and hair, a little bit of redrawing, and tidying up the grey values.

Before (last summer's submission) & After (final submission)

Enjoy & goodnight! 
Love, Erica

Friday, August 15, 2014

My rant on work for hire & free labor.

 Hi Panda lovers!

Today I read a very interesting email posted by Dan Carraso via facebook. It was a very polite, yet in a very backhanded way, rejection email in response to an extended invitation to enter a "contest" where artists can submit artwork to promote Floyd "Money" Mayweather's upcoming match in Las Vegas in the MGM Grand. The contest and email invite was from Showtime. The winner of the contest's prize was to be flown to Las Vegas and their artwork would be featured at the MGM Grand and throughout the week of the match on Showtime.

I look back at when I was fresh out of art school, only 2 years ago. And back when I was naive, and fresh off the boat in the land of freelance illustration and professional artists, I would have probably jumped at the opportunity to have my art featured and shown at such a highly watched/widely covered event. When you are a fledgling artist and don't have a penny to your name since you are deep in loan debt, you probably should jump on all the opportunities/open doors like these contests. It helps to expose your art and talents to the world. And yes, a free flight to an amazing boxing match would be very welcome.

Presently, 2 years later, I am a year and a half into my first full-time picture book assistant designer job at HCP. I do not make that much money as an assistant, but I love what I do and I learn a LOT doing it.  NYC rent is expensive. I also work at night on various freelance projects that help to pay my bills and allow me to treat myself to an occasional fancy dinner or buy myself something nice every couple of months. Honestly, I no longer have the time to spend on projects that will not pay me. Especially something that requires me to take the precious time away from the projects that actually do PAY me, not to mention the time away from working on my own PERSONAL projects.

With that in mind, I am blessed to have my day job. I am blessed to have the clients that gladly pay me what they can to compensate me for my artwork (key word is the "WORK" in "artwork"). If you have the time to do these free contests, all the best to you, they're opportunities to do diverse projects to add to your portfolio, which you will need in order to get to the jobs that will pay you.

(Above: Goldilocks and the 3 Bears character studies from a "freelabor" project I got recruited to do fresh out of college, 2 years ago.)

After paying your dues in the world of professional artists, find the people and opportunities, the open doors that will pay you what you are owed. Do art that YOU want to do, that pleases you. Do the art that feeds you. And more importantly, do the art that feeds your soul and helps to rejuvenate your sense of artistic/creative freedom. That's my 2 cents on the matter. I'd love to hear your opinions too! :]

Good night,

Saturday, July 26, 2014

A Day In the Life of PandaErica

Click on this thumbnail to view actual size. :]

This was me Thursday night. I am a children's picture book designer by day. By night I am a freelance illustrator. It has its own set of pros & cons. I love what I do though, so despite the surely, bumpy, stressful, and mentally strenuous road ahead of me I am very happy. 

Summer time in a corporate design office is more than a little stressful. While people are out sick or out on vacation, I am left with all of the extra responsibilities of books that I am not normally in charge of. Needless to say, all the stress has sort of been frying my poor, fatty brain. 

After a day of hard work and putting out corporate "fires" (ironically, I am now a deputy fire warden for HarperCollins in our new office building. I have an arm band and everything! ;] ), I feel pooped. Especially on the days that I decide to cook dinner. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE it when I can successfully please my loved one and my own's tastebuds through my own efforts. And I seem to thoroughly demolish the food that I made with my own hands more so than any take out/delivery food (except for Napoleon's red velvet cake waffles & chicken wings. HEAVEN).

But after all that energy expended throughout the day, after a very relaxing, hot shower, I end up passing out into my deadly comfy and snuggly bed. My bed is pure evil anytime past 4pm. The soft comforters trap me in its warmth and it is practically impossible trying to wake me up after it has me in its grip. 

Does anyone else have similar problems? If so let's converse some time. :] Misery like company. ;]

Well, moral of the story, today and Monday night I certainly have to double up on my freelance hours to make up for my slacking these past few nights. And eats my vitamins (bleck! yuck!)! 

Have a happy Saturday afternoon everyone!


Thursday, July 24, 2014

A little bit of process from The Girl's Q/A Book: Friendship

Hello Panda followers!

Gosh has it been a year and forever! This past year has been a whirl wind. I now am full time-employed by HarperCollins Publishers as the DESIGN ASSISTANT to the Associate Creative Art Director of the Picture books group, Martha Rago. And I am very happy to be working in the HarperCollins Children's Design Department for a little over a year now.

Besides the addition to a grabbing a very "adult-like" day job, I am now blessed to be working on a book due to be independently published come late September/early October, just in time for your elementary-middle grade daughters, friends, and family to go back to school. Going back to school is a fresh onslaught of female, pheromone-induced, friendly drama!

Well, Annie Fox and I have a wonderful book for parents and adults to share with their kids that will help guide you and them through the difficulties of making and keeping friends. Our new book, my first published body of illustrations, is called The Girl's Q&A Book: Friendship.

Here is a sneak peek into a small portion of the process work that goes into one single illustration that headlines the letter/chapter heading of the book:

ONE - Annie give me letters from real life girls that are having a hard time dealing with their friends. In this example we have a girl who has a new "cooler" friend who isn't quite so nice to other people. It bothers the writer that her "cool", new friend is a mean person, but she still is excited that the "cool" girl even bothers to acknowledge her as a "friend". 

Here are some concept sketches I whipped up based on the letter writer's problem. I tried to go for very dramatic moments where the emotion is at it's peak. Can you tell I got a little overboard with my action/drama/emotion lines in these first sketches? :)


TWO - To give Annie an idea of how I was thinking of "coloring" the line drawings with greyscale values, and to give her a feel for how I envisioned the final drawings, I did more refined versions of 2 of my more favorite sketches.

THREE - As it turns out, Annie didn't like the sketches that were my favorite and we decided to develop the sketch she preferred (It's her book, so she's the boss! Plus, I tend to look at all my sketches with the potential of being great). No biggie. Here I refined the drawing. With a little more art direction from Annie, this is the drawing that I started to work on for the final illustration. 

FOUR - If you click the image thumbnail below and look at these screenshots more closely, you can see how I thought the first round of "coloring" would be the final. WRONG! This is not often the case when it comes to my freelance illustration projects. From what I've seen this past year working in the industry, it is most definitely NOT the case when it comes to book illustrations published through publishing houses. 

You can go through 2, 3, 4, sometimes even more iterations than that for just one illustration -- as many revisions as it takes to get the illustration just right. And if your art director and you, (and the editor and the sales/marketing team, and everyone else who seems to have an opinion), work well together and communicate the feelings, emotions, and the idea that you want to get across through your illustration between the two of you frequently, usually the multiple rounds of revisions will produce a very worthwhile finished piece of art. 

Final illustration is not shown here. You'll have to wait for the book to see how the final product came out! :P 

FIVE - I turn in the final illustration and the final to print art files over to the publisher/designers.

Sometimes, I get lucky and the universe throws me a bone. I set up the right scenario/setting in the first sketch. That does not mean to say that this will be the final illustration. 

As you can see below, Annie and I decided to change up the composition/layout of this drawing and flip flop the focus on the "potential friend-making" aspect of the illustration, and not put as much emphasis on the gossiping, isolating "cool" girls. 

Again, this is not the final illustration. 
Buy the book when it comes out to see all the final illustrations! ;)

That's all I have to show for last night's work session. I hope showing my process and how the stages of revisions go for children's book illustrations has been helpful, if not at least interesting to read through. More to come from this book and more. 

I'm trying my best to put in more effort into posting something little every day of my work. This blog post isn't so little, I admit, but I figure since this was the first blog post in over a year, you guys deserved it! ;)

'Til next time!