Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Updating my Portfolio

I spent a few hours today updating my portfolio for an upcoming illustrators meeting and I realized I didn’t have any of the updated Pet My Dragon? illustrations in there. So I carefully picked out a few of the pages that I thought would give a prospective agent/editor/app buyer the flavor of the story. It was quite nice to look back at those illustrations and smile instead of obsess that I shoulda done something else. I guess I AM done with those images.
In the coming weeks I will be updating my print and digital portfolio and I will share those images with you when I do.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Getting My Name Out There (aka marketing?)

Lately I have been taking advantage of any contest or blog promotion that will get my name and illustrations in front of new people. Here is a short list of what I have been doing in the last two months.

1. In October, I entered my first blog contest that was hosted by They Draw and Cook. I found out about the contest just a week before the contest ended and I didn’t look at the specifics until there were only two days left. Finalists from this contest will be published in a compilation by Weldon Owen Publishing. I just got word that they will be announcing the finalists this week and either way (win or not) I will post my recipe Spam Musubi here for all to see and maybe try. You can see a sample illustrations below.

2. Yesterday, I entered my second contest hosted by They Draw and Cook which is themed around the holidays. I did a comic book version of Russian Tea Cakes. (Title illustration below) This one is particularly exciting because it is again going to be viewed by art directors from Weldon Owen Publishing and The Food Network. Not only will the recipe be shared on The Draw and Cook but each day one lucky recipe will be posted on The Food Network’s The FN Dish with cross links back to the artist’s website.

3. Also yesterday, I also submitted a holiday card design to Kate Harper’s Blog. Kate Harper is a greeting card designer and maintains a blog for card designers, artists and writers. Her blog has a couple of thousand visitors a day and she will post a few submissions each day for all the visitors to see. You can see my submission (penguin with ice cubes) and some of my other card designs @ http://curtistaylor.biz/zencart/

These kinds of “marketing” opportunities are out there but you just have to dig a little to find them. I am taking each opportunity very seriously because I know I am not going to find the right person at the right time if I don’t keep trying.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Appdate 2

I know the app puns are probably getting a little old but I couldn’t resist. I had a short conversation with my app builder yesterday and he told me that things are progressing nicely. The static pages are almost finished and when they are he will start adding the animation pages, vibrations and sounds.

The app will have a “Read to Me” option where the text on each page is read aloud. While I really enjoy the sultry sound of MY voice it doesn’t sound so great recorded. What’s better than an adult reading a story? A child reading the story, of course. So I had the brilliant idea of recording my children as they read the story. Pro’s: They are mine so I don’t have to worry about consent forms and they work cheap. Con’s: I don’t want to pay for studio space and I don’t have the equipment for professional sounding audio. Both of which are very big concerns as I don’t want this app to sound amateur in anyway.

I tried to set up a makeshift audio studio in a coat closet. I figured it had lots of echo reducing clutter that would produce good quality audio. It might have worked except the combination of the Windows’ Sound Recorder on my laptop and the Guitar Hero microphone from the Wii underperformed spectacularly. So I had to figure out another route. I needed to find an option that would be less expensive than renting a studio.

I started researching microphones and came across one by Blue Microphones called the Snowball that sounded like it was designed for my project. It was designed for podcasters who need a cardioid and/or an omnidirectional microphone and want professional quality audio. I do love this microphone. It has special settings on the microphone to turn off the extra microphones inside the receiver which cuts out almost all of the background noise except the desired audio. Very easy to use!

The next step was finding a good audio program that was cheap or free. I tried a couple of programs that said they were free but in fact they were scaled down versions and wouldn’t record MP3’s unless you bought the upgraded version. Then I came across Audacity. This is an open source program that has a complete set of audio utilities and it is free, though a donation can be made to the creators. The only drawback to this program is that it downloads incomplete and you have to do additional downloads if you want to save your audio as MP3’s. The good news is that the directions for downloading these updates are straight forward and the installation is a breeze. Also, this program is very easy to use. Probably the best part of all of this was that I didn’t have to rent any kind of studio. In fact, I had just purchased the microphone and while my son and I were waiting for my daughter to get out of school decided it would give the microphone a test run. I sat in the driver seat, positioned the microphone on the armrest, and my son sat directly in front of the microphone in the back seat. The audio was so good that I decided to record all of his speaking parts while we waited. It was a fairly quiet parking lot so there wasn’t a lot of external noise to contend with and my car has wonderful acoustics. Thank you Honda!

Enjoy these audio sneak peeks:

Do you wat to pet my dragon?

Love this dragon wagon!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Agents and Editors and Publishers (Oh My!) Directories

Searching the interweb last night I cam across this directory or directories on Gally Cat http://www.mediabistro.com/galleycat/directory-of-galleycat-directories-2_b12782 

Lately, I have been finding lots of agent contact info online especially through Facebook and Twitter.  Sometimes you have to dig a little but usually you can get to their agency and find their submission guidelines without jumping through many hoops. The best part is that it is free!

I am starting to find more and more directories of agents, publishers and such online that I am starting to wonder if I will need to buy the 2012 Illustrators Market. After all, I can find just as many agents and publishers to reject my work this way and it doesn't cost me a thing:-)

Friday, November 19, 2010

Graphic Novels v. Comic Books

Is it a graphic novel or comic book? Is there a difference? I found this explanation at Wise Geek:

There are several standout differences between graphic novels and comic books. Typically, you could observe that the standard comic book is usually thin, with a paper cover, and it continues, begins or concludes a story that has been addressed in other comic books. Both the graphic novel and the comic book tell their story primarily with pictures and some words, but graphic novels tend to cover one story only in its entirety (though there may be sequels).

So with that tidbit in mind I guess I am introducing my new COMIC BOOK project: Bus Stop Adventures. I am planning on this becoming a three story series (maybe more) based on the imaginative adventures of my son as we walked home from the bus stop. A walk that should take a few minutes that was almost always drawn out to a half hour because any object (a stick, string, a piece of bark, etc.) would engage his overactive imagination.

The “official” pitch: 
Bus Stop Adventures is intended as an early reader comic book series for boys. Each edition of Bus Stop Adventures follows an imaginative young boy home from the bus stop and each adventure focuses on a discarded object he finds along the way.

The Whip is the first issue of Bus Stop Adventures and focuses on a piece of discarded twine. After discovering the twine which becomes a whip, the boy creates an imaginary adventure that takes him deep into a jungle in search of a missing idol. His guide, a disguised archeologist, tries to sabotage the boy’s efforts to claim the idol for himself. The guide’s efforts never work out the way they were planned and eventually they backfire on him. As you might guess, the boy retrieves the idol and is able to deliver it to the museum.

Enjoy this preview!