Discount on Schoolism Digital Painting Classes!



In March of 2010 I started taking a digital painting class through Schoolism with Bobby Chiu. It was one of the best things I’ve ever done and I learned more about Photoshop in 9 lessons with Bobby than I did in 4 years of college.

If you’ve ever wanted to get better at digital painting, Schoolism offers all sorts of great classes. You can take them live or you can take self-directed classes on anything from character design to lighting. As a Schoolism alum, I can now offer you a discount on their classes! Full disclosure: I get credit towards more classes when you sign up for a class. We both win!

Below are links to all of the lessons I completed with Schoolism so you can see how great they are.

Digital Painting #1

Digital Painting #2

Digital Painting #3

Digital Painting #4

Digital Painting #5

Digital Painting #6

Digital Painting #7

Digital Painting #8

Free Download of “The Domesticated Four”


I just learned that today is National Comic Book Day. In honor of that, Dan Santat is generously giving away his 275 page PDF The Domesticated Four: The Art of Sidekicks. His newest graphic novel, Sidekicks, came out earlier this summer and I have been dying to read it. It’s been getting rave reviews and I’ve been a fan of Dan’s artwork for a long time.

Download the PDF and pick up a copy of the book!

My Creativity is a Fussy Newborn


Just so we’re clear from the beginning, I do not currently and have not ever raised a child. BUT, as far as I can tell, my creativity is like a fussy newborn in more ways than one.

Some days it wakes up crying and nothing I do will soothe it. It refuses to let me work because it needs something but it refuses to tell me what that is.

Is it hungry or thirsty?

I go grab a snack (trying to ignore thoughts about my waistline) and make a cup of tea. Nope, still crying.

Is it bored?

I go for a walk or take a break and read. Screaming like a banshee.


I hand it over to my husband for some reassurance and encouragement. Wait… I think that might… oh, nope. Crying again.

Other days my creativity is more like a toddler. It’s defiant and consistently says no to any fun new projects I offer it. It throws tantrums, refuses to come out of its hiding place, or demands cookies or other treats before it will behave.

So what do you do when your creativity refuses to cooperate? Should you coddle it? Give it a bit of tough love?

Only you know how to get your creativity back in line when it’s behaving like a child, but maybe next time try a different approach. Experiment with your creativity and you may surprise yourself.

Another way my creativity is like my child? I love it unconditionally and will do whatever is necessary to nurture it and help it to grow.

How do you handle your creativity when it’s throwing a fit?

New York Magazine – The Junior Meritocracy *New Illustrations*


These editorial illustrations are based on a New York Magazine article titled “The Junior Meritocracy.” It was a great article that addressed the issues involved with testing our children for advanced placement in schools at 4 years of age. It revealed the problems with testing at such early ages when a child’s IQ is not stable and certainly not permanent.


“The kindergarten-admission process has always been about openly judging a 4-year-old and secretly judging the parents’ wealth, connections, and likeliness to give.” 

Illustration is About to Make a Comeback


I can feel it in my bones. The illustration industry is about to make a huge comeback.

With the incredible amount of content available on the internet people are striving to stand out. Whether you are selling a product, publishing books or magazines, selling your services or just your opinions you need people to pay attention.

You need to be unique.

What better way to stand out from your competitors than by using commissioned illustration? Illustrators create something completely original that says exactly what you need it to say and conveys the exact feelings you want to convey.

Recently I have seen an increase in the number of in-house illustration jobs being advertised (a tiny increase, but still). While the economy is  struggling and budgets are low, illustration is still the best value for those that truly want to stand out and be noticed.

It can be disheartening to open up a magazine to see it filled with photography. If these magazines used more illustration in tandem with the photography both would look more interesting.

I don’t mean this to sound like an advertisement for illustration, though that’s not such a bad thing. I mean it to sound encouraging to my fellow illustrators. Don’t get me wrong, I would love to be making more money from my work (wouldn’t we all?), I just have a sense that illustration can’t be as devalued as it’s been forever. The pendulum always swings back in the other direction.

Let’s heed the words of Jessica Hische and Ben O’Brien, take pride in our work and look ahead to another “Golden Age” of illustration.

How can we work to improve the status of illustration?

Boo! Spooky Tales for Kids


I was so excited when I came home yesterday afternoon to a box from Ka-Blam. They have been responsible for printing all of Illopond’s anthologies thus far and they always do a great job. I opened the box and found what I couldn’t wait to get: Boo! Spooky Tales for Kids.


Mark Harmon created the fantastic front and back covers which are really going to grab kids’ attention from far away. Denver Wagner organized this project and put together the book and did a mighty fine job. My story, Detention, was created for this anthology. And look! There it is!


The book will be available for purchase at APE this year and shortly after will also be available on Indy Planet along with the other Illopond anthologies, like 8: A Kid’s Book Anthology which I’ve got a story in. Come by our table and say hello!


Let’s Start a New Illustration Industry! | Ben the Illustrator

“Let’s do it!  Come on illustrators!  Grab your pencils and macs and stuff, let’s go start a new industry!  It’ll be like Detroit in the 1950s, where industry is king, we’re talking Boomtown here!  It’s going to be ace, and we’re all going to be professional illustrators on professional wages.  Are you with me?  We’ll have to leave some people behind though, they won’t be allowed into the new industry.  Here’s a little history lesson about what happened and why we need to do this…   continue reading


There has been a lot of talk recently about the state of the illustration industry and the amount of free or underpaid work that goes on. Ben the Illustrator wrote two wonderful posts on his Tumblr blog about the subject (read part 2 here).

While there are situations in which doing work for free or for a very limited budget are acceptable, like charity work, for the most part we all need to be saying no to working for free. We can talk amongst ourselves about how devalued the industry is but actions will speak louder than words to our clients.

Conversations like the one Ben has started are a great start. Have you turned down clients that wanted you to work for “exposure?”

Jessica Hische | The Dark Art of Pricing



Last night, Jessica Hische posted a fantastic article on pricing in the design and illustration industry.

Bordo Bello Skate Deck Work in Progress



I’m almost finished creating an illustrated skate deck for Denver’s Bordo Bello by AIGA Colorado. The last time I illustrated a skate deck I used a dip pen and ink. If only I had known then that Sharpies were the perfect tool! I love the way this deck is coming out and I have high hopes that it will do well at auction. Unfortunately I’ll be on my way to APE, so I’ll miss the big party but if you’re in Denver on September 30th you’ve got to check it out!

The illustration is based on Chilean flag trees. In the southern part of Chile it is so consistently windy that the trees are forced to grow almost horizontally if they want to survive. It’s an amazing phenomenon! I’m also working on an illustrated map of Chile that I will be able to share in a few months.

Are custom skate decks something you would be interested in purchasing? I’m having a blast with this and would love to create one for you too!