November 25, 2011

The Problem With "Doing Well"...

Did you ever notice, wherever you state in a conversation that you are doing well, the conversation is soon dying? No? Then try it for yourself.

People like to small talk and sometimes we enjoy a little compassion too.
And that is totally OK, because the human nature is that we are sincerely interested in solving problems.
We are most eager to solve problems we have created by ourselves.

I hear outcries like: " It´s crisis, how can you do well?" or when the newspaper write about another catastrophe here and there.
To be honest, I care about problems that people carry to me with passionate interest in creating an outstanding solution, why should I waste time with problems I can not fully grasp, especially when they happen to take place far, far away?

Sure thing, terrible things happen in the world, every day, every hour and every minute, and an equally number of great things do happen at the same time in the same world, how is this possible?

Simple answer first: Ying and Yang. Black and white, cup half-full and half-empty. Day and night.
Makes sense, right?

It always depends on how we see things and if we are able to change our worldview through others. If you believe in the BS television will make you believe, its your own fate, and please don´t wonder why the cup is always half-empty.
Its totally important to know your conversation partner, because you can´t tell heaven from hell, blue skies from pain and a green field from a cold steel rail. (From Pink floyd - Wish you were here)

If I do well, for whatever reason, its my own luck and its absolutely crucial to know with whom I share this luck. With the right people this luck can double, with the wrong people, it can grow anger and envy.
In this regard, the lyrics and hidden advice from Pink Floyd are golden, like so many of their songs.

An interesting thing I noticed, is that it is vital to share any positive vibe and happenings with clients and true friends, with people who enjoy hanging out or working with you. These people are multipliers for positive mindsets and "doing well"- notifications because they invest, time, money, or both and love to see you grow.

I think its good to know that, and its important to filter what you share with people around you.
Last but not least its also important to treat the people who invest in you with appreciation and not forget their confidence in you.

If you do that, there is no competition, only collaboration, only full or half-full cups and always a steady change of days and nights.

So, how do you do?

November 9, 2011

Artbook Review: Machines and Magic

Just got my artbook order from Amazon the other day. Included in my order was "Kris Kuksi´s "Divination and DelusionJason Felix´s Salvaged, and the international sci-fi and fantasy artbook edited by Craig Musselman: "Machines and Magic"

About  this Machines and Magic artbook I wanted to write a little review, not only because I´m part of it, but also because I think it fills a gap between Spectrum and Exposé.

Here is a video that shows a flip through to get a glimpse of what you can expect from this book.
Flip-through preview:

The artist list includes names like Peter Mohrbacher, Rob Rey, Liiga Smilshkalne, Dimitri SirenkoRaoul Vitale, George Patsouras and yours truly.

So what can I say about the book and am I supposed to say even something?
Well, I am a collector of artist books myself and I have seen a lot, my current collection counts over 100 art books! Standards of expections are often depending on the price and with $29.99 its not a steal, but its also in the middle field for a book of around 150 pages with pure inspiration, especially for a book on demand.

I know I could have got a pdf as a complimentary copy but when it comes to artbooks I prefer printed and physical books, which was the reason I supported Craig with this project.

For artists, especially illustrators working in the genre art, sci-fi and fantasy sector, its important to get published and these artbook compilations are a nice way to get exposure for little to no cost.
Ballistic books gives every included artist a free printed copy of the book and even entry is free, but its important to note that Ballistic does no book on demand and has the financial background to handle shipping and around 150-200 copies to artists worldwide.
Spectrum on the other hand has a fee on entries, no ftp submission - so basically artists have to pay in advance per piece + shipping costs for no certainty to be included. Some other publications like "Illustration Now" from Taschen are invite only, which is a system that in my opinion can´t show the true gems of what´s great out now, only what the editors know, and that can, but has not per se be to the best in fact.

Artwork: juried quality and a wide variety of technique
From the quality of artworks included I would say this is always depending on many factors: Artworks submitted by the artists for consideration and the taste of the editors for example.
The latter is a subject that I find even in books like "Spectrum" questionable at times, but in all these books it can be summed up to just a few percent of images that I´d have cut as editor.
The 91 artists included in this book span a wide variety on techniques, ranging from pencil to oils over digital painting to sculpture and photomanipulation. Unlike the Ballistic "Exposé" books where only CG-art is featured and even photomanipulation is not really considered CG!

Now to a little scarcity of the book that isn´t really an issue: the quality of the print is definitely great, just the paper of the interior is matte and has a mild structure. Which results in the impression that the prints are roughly rastered, but they are not! Its just the light on the paper structure that reflects oddly.

Other than that the colors are pretty great and the resolution of the printed images are excellent, opposed to some fuzzy pictures from the "Kris Kuksi" -artbook, which seem to be shot with a 3megapixel camera (which is a pity to say the least, but especially considering the price).

Overall I can give out 4 of 5 Stars because of the paper choice of the publisher.
I know that all the editing and acquiring - to get the artist to participate in this project - has been a lot work for one person, this fact alone deserves to look over this little paper issue.
All in all it can be said its a very good overview over the genre art, sci-fi and fantasy illustration scene and my recommendation for an inspiration overdose is to buy this along with the most recent Spectrum #18 and Exposé #9 artbook!

You can order your copy either here via Amazon, or from the website of the editor.

Now some photographs of the book, (please note the images were made with ISO 800 and may not be perfectly reflecting the colors and the quality).

November 2, 2011

Find the best in everybody

Ancient Blades Cover / personal version 
Sometimes it feels so tempting to shout out loud what we think about a situation or a circumstance.
The most recent example I can tell where this happened to me is when I contributed some of my works to art communities.

Actually I don´t care if my work is accepted in the CGSociety/CGTalk* gallery, because otherwise I would have much to do ranting about what kind of "art" is accepted over there... I also know that most colleagues there have also just 50% of their works accepted. I guess they agree its funny to read their reasons for rejection and the suggestion that we might consider to submit a finished and printed image to the "work-in-progress forums".
Honestly, I have better things to do, but occasionally when this happens, I think about how others feel about such a reaction, artist who might not have the self-confidence might take this very personal.
When it comes to work, I have learned to take things never, ever personally!

I had submitted a piece once to the gallery which took me a long time to finish and it got rejected for some minor lighting issues, I thought that its not my problem if their eyes are hurt from looking at 10k images a day that cause severe eye injury and I tried again around 6 month later without changing the work at all, that time the image got an editors pick, how´s that possible?
Because the first attempt was most likely bad timing.

When it comes to rejections in our life there is one thing that counts, persistence, Randy Pausch said in his last lecture: "Find the best in everybody. Just keep waiting no matter how long it takes. No one is all evil. Everybody has a good side, just keep waiting, it will come out."
No comments about a work -can be a critique too, but only if you don´t know how to deal with it. The art communities, be it deviantArt, Artwanted, Artician, are all nice and fine, but they can give artists only a glimpse of a general opinion. A good portion of luck and sympathy also decides if your work gets featured or awarded, but if not, don´t blame yourself, it might be just bad timing.

Personally, I know that my commissioned work does only sometimes become the attention they deserve in these communities, but these works allow me to make a living as artist. Also these works help me to get better at painting and sharpening my skills on a daily basis to deliver quality work in return.

Personal versions of client based artworks are not necessary at all, so why do I make them?
Because it feels great to make a good artwork even better, to play the "Director´s-cut" and it shows very good that I don´t take my artistic self too serious.

Which brings me to a last important saying: "Never take yourself too serious, because no one else does."

*  For those not familiar with CGTalk: Its a professional platform for CG-artists,( every submitted image can be directly submitted to a user portfolio and is visible over there, (for example: but along with the submission process it can be submitted to the cg-gallery for discussion / additional exposure and to take part in the regular cg-choice awards.

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