Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Time to breathe, not to rest

What a crazy month this has been. I swear, this is the first opportunity I've had to write anything in the last 10 days, and it's just a short break before handing in more sketches and taking part in weekend festivities.

Here is a (quick and grammatically messy) recap of the last couple weeks:

Friday, July 10: While in Rochester helping my sister move, I got a call from Serino Coyne, an ad agency in NYC that handles all sorts of Broadway plays. They loved the piece Lion on the Mound, and wanted me to do the illustration for the Neil Simon plays Brighton Beach Memoirs and Broadway Bound. They mentioned that the time frame for the preliminary image was pretty tight, but of course, I jumped on the opportunity. Who in their right mind turns that down?
Monday, July 13: First phone conversation about the piece at noon. They wanted a tight color comp by Wednesday (yikes). Hung up the phone and started calling around for models. Left the studio, took some reference shots of the first 13-15 year old boy I could find, but he looked too old. Came back to the studio, played a little dress-up and took photos of myself in the proper poses. Glad I made some knickerbockers a couple months ago. Still nothing great to work with yet. Ran 15 miles. Got on the phone and arranged for a second 13-15 y.o. boy to pose the following morning.
Tuesday, July 14: Woke up, took some reference shots of the new model (thank God my kindergarten teacher mother knows a lot of families with young kids). Got to the studio and started drawing. Finished drawing by noon. Then started painting. Got further drawings done of the faces and was done by 11pm.
Wednesday, July 15: Set up my camera equipment and lights. Took shots of the color comp, emailed it to Serino Coyne. They liked it. Went to Norwalk for supplies.
Thursday, July 16: The producers of the play liked it too. Except for the young kid's face. Not quite right; needed to look more like the young actor in the play, which I wasn't anticipating. Older guy's face was fine. Final needed to be done by the 29th (yikes).
Friday, July 17: Adjusted the kid's face in Photoshop, but it still wasn't right. So, I changed gears and redrew the face from the reference I shot of myself, as the face needed to be longer and narrower. Got it to Serino Coyne, but not in time for them to show it to the producers. Couldn't stay idle the entire weekend, so I got together what I had and transferred the drawing to the final canvas. I spent the weekend drawing the bodies, the hand-lettering, and everything else but the young kid's face.
Monday, July 20: Got an email in the morning: the face still wasn't right. I redrew. Sent it back. Normally, I'd start painting the faces first, as they are the most critical and inform the rest of the piece, but I couldn't do it in this case. So I masked off the area on the final canvas where the kid's face would go and spray-fixed the pencil marks so the turpentine wouldn't wash them off. With no better place to start, I started with the difficult hand-lettering. Around the end of the day I got a call from the Creative Director at Serino Coyne. The face still wasn't right, so I got verbal instructions on what to fix. Went home and drew a new face. If this wasn't right, I would have been lost. Submitted it to them. Ran 12 miles.
Tuesday, July 21: Continued work on the lettering and lamp post. Splashed some color on the bodies. Continued painting what I could, desperately trying not to do the painting completely backwards, starting with the feet. At just the right moment, I got the email that the kid's face had been approved. Stopped painting and started drawing right on the final canvas.
Wednesday, July 22: Masked off what I had already painted with tracing paper, so the mask wouldn't touch any of the wet paint. It was basically a huge mask on the entire canvas, with only a hole around the fresh drawing of the kid's face. Spray-fixed the face and took the mask off. Painted for the rest of the day exclusively on the face. If I hadn't gotten it right, the project would have been toast.
Thursday, July 23: Second-hardest and second most critical part: The older guy's face. By this point, I had begun waking up at 4:30am, working till 5pm, grabbing dinner, going for my daily run and getting to bed by 9pm.
Friday, July 24: Hardest parts were done; now I just had to paint my butt off. Started with the kid's clothes and worked down the body.
Saturday, July 25: Finished up the kid's clothes and moved onto the older guy's shirt. By this point, I was using the fast-drying oils called Alkyds and mixing it with the fast-drying medium called Liquin. I needed to be done by Monday so I could varnish the piece on Tuesday.
Sunday, July 26: Finished up the clothes, made a few touch-ups.
Monday, July 27: Painted the shadows under the bodies and made final adjustments. Ran 18 miles and took an ice bath to heal my legs.
Tuesday, July 28: Varnished the piece.
Wednesday, July 29: Took the train into NYC. Dropped off the painting. Done.

I'm beat, but really quite excited. I'm very fortunate that Serino Coyne found my work, liked it and had the confidence in me to hire me for the job. The creative team there is extremely friendly and professional. They had a great deal of patience in working with me and the producers to get everything the way it should be. The piece will appear in a NY Times advertisement on August 9th, and the posters should hit Broadway in the fall. Go see the show! I'll post more information when I know it, and will post images of the painting when it gets back from being scanned.

Now I have to submit sketches for my next two Magic Cards and prepare to make another trip to Boston for the Magic Grand Prix, where I'll be signing more cards and selling more work. What a month!

Saturday, July 18, 2009


Well, ladies and gents, I'm going to earn my salary in the next 10 days. I go a job Monday that I simply could not turn down; probably one of the biggest breaks of my career. They needed a tight color comp by Wednesday and then requested some changes late Thursday ... changes which are still pending approval. So I'm going to try to do as much as I can before I (hopefully) get the go-ahead Monday.

But you won't be hearing much of anything from me until the 29th. Once I finish writing this, I'm going to start drawing. Then it will be exclusively studio time or marathon training or sleep. Wish me luck.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Boston M10 Pre-Release Recap

Here they are! Finally got a hold of my first two Magic Cards at the Boston Pre-Release event for the Magic 2010 Core set. Plains, for those not familiar with Magic: The Gathering, is one of the basic lands from which power in the game is acquired. It is therefore a very common card. Convincing Mirage is a new card in the M10 set. I don't want to stoke any fires here, but it doesn't seem to be a very popular card among players, even though its another common card.

Popular or not, I really can't explain how excited I am to see my name down at the bottom of the cards.

The Pre-Release event (the official release is July 17th) was a great experience. I learned a lot about the fans, the art and the game itself. I had a table set up in the main tournament hall. I had the original paintings from both of these cards, as well as original color studies, posters, postcards and my portfolio. Fellow Magic artist Cyril Van Der Haegen had a table right beside me. He was obviously more experienced than I, as he brought his own portable gallery walls and had a separate table for all the prints he was looking to sell.

Cyril gave me free advice pretty much all day; everything from printers to industry insider info. He's hilarious and very attentive to his fans. The event's organizer, Rob Dougherty of Your Move Games was very hospitable and generous.

And the fans: My first EVER signature went to a guy named Justin. The people who came by and got cards signed throughout the day were great. Since the Plains were so common, I signed plenty of those (even one shiny foil version!). Some people wanted little doodles on the card too. I sold two prints right out of my portfolio, and some guy bought up all the little sketches I was doing at the table between signings.

At the end, Rob invited me to the Boston Grand Prix on August 1-2. So I continue my debut tour in two weeks, with more artists and in front of more fans.

Vacation recap

Great times in Sea Isle City, NJ. Even had time to do a little recreational sculpting ...

A late post ... things have been crazy.