Friday, May 22, 2015

First Class Grads

Deniz & Mr. Shiny Head
Teaching is at times next to an impossible task for a freelance illustrator that wants to remain at all relevant in their genre' (and on their partner's good side), but I must admit to it being a very rewarding process with all of the leaps and pitfalls combined.  Student success can spring from exploring a variety of techniques, researching opportunities and navigating through a vast multitude of influential events, sometimes they take years of grinding through obstacles (self driven or otherwise), and sometimes they line up like a brilliant celestial equinox as soon as they leave school.  It's a period of time I try to make shorter for all my students, regardless of skill set, as that time for me was quite a hulking draw back as I left school.  I've had the great fortune to mentor six new illustrators on their paths into the professional world so far.  Every one of them has had such a brilliant take on their Content, and it's been a pleasure to have guided them all in as much as I have.  This semester brought with it more of the same brilliantly fulfilling work with my mentorship, Deniz Johnson.

Deniz created a wonderfully dark and shadowy group of portraits, depicting six female characters from some of the vast Histories, Mythologies, and Cultural Symbols that revolve around Halloween.  Her presentation ranged from the real story behind the Witches Broom, to the Greek's guardian of the underworld Persephone, to some of the more demonizing portrayals women have received over the centuries, wrapping things up with some thoughtful feminist content as well.  The series can be viewed here on Deniz's site Alien-Rat Illustration, but I would also take a look at what's going on in her Tumblr in the months to come.  Deniz has a great sense of embedding symbols and tension in her work, which I can see being utilized in the Editorial Market, nice figurative and characterization skills, and works quickly and consistently enough for these images to show up in any number of venues in the future!

Taylor Davis @ Pivlywhip
Taylor Davis was my Independent Study Student this semester, and really knocked her project out of the park as well.  Taylor has essentially re-imagined the original Grimm's Fairy Tale, The Lily & the Lion (Beauty & the Beast) with a Strong new cast of Characters, illustrated in a much more Multicultural Light.

Taylor's was quite a fulfilling Independent Study, primarily as she's very self driven in her goals toward Character Design in the entertainment industry, but partially as I saw first hand, some of the things I placed in my Character Design class from the very first syllabus, revealed so nicely in the final Lily & the Lion pitch book.  Always nice to see the kind of attention paid to Period, Region, Behavioral Gestures, and Facial Expressions that I try to encourage with every assignment.  These aren't sketches from Taylor's project but they are indicative of the quick and delicate sketch work she produces.
Make sure you check out Taylor's Blogs on Instagram & Tumblr called Pivlywhip, and look out for her incremental posts that will reveal the whole Lily & the Lion project from the beginnings.  Also look out for Taylor at the annual Sakuracon for CosPlay portraits and a fun mix of Anime' genre merch!

I was fairly sick throughout Focus Week at the PNCA this time around, but I did manage to see two other Thesis Presentations.  First being a former student of mine, Andrew Moir and his wonderful Children's Book, "Welcome to the World of the Forest"!  Printed in board-book format, this is a beautiful romp through the Forest, in Andrew's abstracted illustrative style suited nicely for the Editorial and Children's Book world.  It was also created for the Moir's new baby boy, who was there for the presentation.  Check out Andrew's Website for contact info and updates on titles and projects in the future, he's an utter joy to work with, and I can't wait to see the kind of work he get's up to outside the PNCA!
Andrew Moir
 Last but not least was a thesis presentation I served as panel member for, given by Devin Amato.  Although I've not had Devin in class, his thesis was of content close to my heart, Buddhism and Comics.  He wrote and illustrated the first volume in a comic series called "A Visual Guide to Buddhism", and I mean to tell you if you've someone looking for a lighthearted and quick intro to Buddhism, pick this book up!  In the tradition of Tsai Chih Chung's "Speaks" series, this 30 page Comic is well thought out and executed, and Devin's presentation was filled with his brilliantly quick wit and knowledge of his content.

Devin Amato - Visual Guide to Buddhism Vol.1
Well, there were certainly more brilliant young artists that I missed this year, but I wish you all, past and present, the very best into your future professional careers, and bow to your inner LightPushers !!  ILLUSTRARE'!  ..and stay tuned !!  =)