Painted Skate Deck

Here's a painting that didn't quite make it into the portfolio page...

It's a painted skate deck that I did for a benefit auction show.  I really loved how it turned out, but the timing was tight once I finished it and I never ended up getting a better photo of it than this one shot with my phone.  Since that time I have invested in a better camera, so here's to acting like a professional and getting proper photos of paintings!

Insta-What?

StormGirl So my big goal this summer is to completely rework my portfolio.  I'm planning to create a whole new body of work to give myself a boost to where I want to be after having struggled the last year and a half with all kinds of outside pressures and stresses that kept me from focusing as much on my work.  Time to reboot!  I'm already well on my way and getting a lot done, and I'm excited about what I'm working on.  If you happen to be interested in keeping up with shorter and more regular updates to what I have going on, you can follow me on my recently created Instagram account.  I'll be posting frequent in progress work, sketches, and work at various stages, as well as random bits from my little world.  Look at me all getting with the times.  Now, to upgrade to a smart phone that actually has a flash and a decent camera...

Better or Worse, Nothing Stays the Same

Dad

My dad passed away.  Nearly a month ago now.  The most amazing man I’ve ever known put an end to a very long and difficult battle with a very nasty cancer.  My mom, sister and I stayed awake with him in the hospital all night before what had become the life prolonging equipment would be turned off the next day.  Although he could not communicate with us, we each took a turn to sit and talk to him, to try to say what we wanted him to know before we knew that he would leave us.  I told him that I was proud of him and hoped I would continue to make him proud of me, and that we would be ok.  His brothers and nephew came to say their goodbyes also.  It was a beautiful spring day on which he took his last breath.

I felt a fleeting moment of relief that he would no longer have this unrelenting uphill battle, but that relief was immediately replaced by a ripping hole in my gut.  My dad, with his incredible intellect and understanding, his infectious belly laugh and twinkle in his eye, his unquenchable thirst to learn and passions for music, history and theater, who had humbly touched the lives of so many students, friends and acquaintances, was gone.

There’s a part of me that is very pragmatic and logical.  I knew the cancer couldn’t be conquered.  I know we all will, when our time comes, pass the way of all of those, everyone, which came before us.  And also, as isolating as it can feel, I know that most people must experience this loss in their lifetimes.  But knowing these things doesn’t stop me from missing him and regretting that there wasn’t more time to spend with him and learn from him.  We always think there will be more time…

Honestly, I feel less stressed than I used to, but a little angrier at the moment.  I question if I’m on the right path and if I’m working hard enough, enjoying enough, contributing enough.  I find myself sometimes talking to him and wondering what he would think and say to me.

Funny how the world keeps moving.  Spring is in full blast, we grilled and I even had my first seasonal sangria on a patio last weekend.  We drove down to Kansas City for Spectrum Live (fantasy and sci fi illustration convention) where I got to meet many of my favorite illustrators and walk away with tons of inspiration, information, and a load of art to frame.  Summer is only around the corner.  It all feels very surreal.  My family is doing our best to cope and adapt and integrating this new pain into what normal life will be.  The best way that I know how to cope is to try to keep living my life in a way that would make him proud.  To keep learning.  To keep bettering myself.  To keep loving my family and friends.  To keep true to who I am.  And to keep attacking life like I don’t know there will be a tomorrow.

My comments on "10 things about being an artist that art teachers don't tell you."

ArtSchoolGirlfriend_sm  

Today I read an interesting article in the Guardian, by , "10 things about being an artist that art teachers don't tell you."

From having talked to many artists, both established and aspiring, I don't think it comes as much surprise that after art school you are unleashed into the world with typically a pretty poor perception about what your in for, what your chances of making it are and what the realities of getting there are as well.  It certainly was an eye opener for me.  I knew in making the decision to go to art school that I wasn't doing it for fame and fortune, but I wanted to be successful and make a living, and I didn't know how to get anywhere else after I had walked down the isle to get my degree.

Here are the 10 'truths' described in the article: (Quoted truths in purple)

1. Many artists work freelance. A study by the Arts Council finds that 41% of creative workers are self-employed. Temporary work contracts can make for an interesting and varied career, though periods of unemployment between jobs are a reality for some artists.

I remember finding that about halfway through my junior year in school, except outside of design work, I would have a hard time believing that percentage is that low.  Freelancing is great, it can give you tons of freedom and chances to do all sorts of different projects, but you are essentially becoming a business owner, and that is something most are not ready for.

2. Freelance artists budget carefully. Being self-employed means you are without pension, holiday pay or maternity benefits. Contingencies such as falling ill or having children require pre-emptive financial planning.

If you're not working a day job, or accomplished what one of my instructors told us was the best possible pieces of advice, to marry somebody with benefits and a full time job, a major illness can be a serious and life changing set back.  I've heard plenty of horror stories.  So yeah, you had better get yourself at the least an IRA account and a good financial advisor.

3. Artists self-promote. Many showcase their talents on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Linked in, as well as on their own websites. Having a good online presence shows employers that you are self-motivated and digitally literate.

Times were different when I graduated 10 years ago, social media was virtually non-existant in the mainstream at that time.  (Wow, how quickly times change.)  So a big part of self promotion was all about cold calls and mailings.  We were sort-of kind-of prepared for that in school.  I mean, they talked about printing postcards...  But the truth of the matter is, if you expect to be found and swept into the best galleries and publications while never leaving your studio or taking your nose out of your sketchbook, you may be waiting a loooong time.

4. Artists love socialising. Networking events are the art world's equivalent to job hunting, but with less misery and more booze. Whether you're searching for commissions or trying to advance your career, networking gives you the chance to meet industry professionals and expose yourself to new opportunities.

Well...  Kind of.  If you're an introvert, as many artists I know are, this is kind of a tough point.  Not networking and self-promoting can be a the downfall for a serious introvert in their ability to build a career.  And of course, it helps to live in a metropolitan area where there are networking and art meet-ups.  But nobody can argue that networking is priceless.  I am lucky to live near Chicago, where there are many events and groups to get involved in, but I admit, I need to be better about getting going and driving my butt into the city from the burbs.

5. Many artists form collectives to publicise and exhibit their work. Kate Rowland, an illustrator from the collective After School Club explains: "Being in After School Club is great for motivation. It allows us to utilise each other's skills, therefore we have more resources to help one another. It's kind of like a creative support system. And lots of fun."

This is true and sort of ties in to the point above.  Quite a few of the art shows I've taken part in were organized by other artists whom I know and respect.

6. It's all about your portfolio. The visual arts are less grade-centric than other disciplines. An art director at a graphic design company once told me he'd think twice about hiring someone with a first-class degree, as he worried they'd have no time for hobbies outside of work. In his words, not mine, "they might be really boring". This isn't to say you shouldn't aim high – another employer might appreciate a first-class candidate. Rather, you should focus on making your portfolio the best you can possibly make it. A good body of work speaks louder than grades.

Again, pretty much true.  Clients are typically looking at your portfolio, rarely ever your resume.  Nobody looking to hire me has ever asked me what my grade point average was in college, your work and professionalism should speak for themselves.

7. Some artists supplement their income with a second job. Doing so gives them financial security while they exercise their creative passions. Take a look at some of these prolific "double jobbers".

Many do this.  Many,  many, many.  Until you are established, or have a partner with steady income as I mentioned above, or are just a serious risk-taker, (or live at home with patient parents) you're gonna get a job to pay the bills because no landlord cares if your art isn't selling one particular month.  It's hard to juggle a job and put the hours that you want into building your art career, but it can be necessary at least to get started.  And if you can get vested in a retirement plan while your at it, more power to you.

8. Many artists take on internships to help kick-start their career. Working for a company can prepare you with essential industry skills and improve your employability. The question of payment is a hot potato – in general, the shorter the internship, the less likely you are to get paid.

Yup.  I know a lot of people who went this route, and it seems to be especially useful in our particular economy for those right out of design school.  It's a great way to get some credible experience and pieces in your portfolio that aren't just 'school' projects.

9. Job opportunities are growing. There are currently over 1.9 million people working in the creative industries. However, by 2016, the government expects this figure to skyrocket, with an additional 1.3 million new jobs in the private sector alone.

Not to be a negative nellie, but I'll believe it when I see it.  Maybe in web and design?

10. The creative sector is characterised by high levels of job satisfaction. As a result, the industry is highly competitive and jobs are sought after. If you have the passion and the motivation to stay ahead of the game, then a creative career can be an exciting and rewarding experience.

This is true.  Like I said earlier, I didn't do this to make millions.  Like many others, I pursued this career because I couldn't do anything else.  You could pay me 6-figures to sit in a cubicle, but I would be a miserable human being.

The one item I would add to this is that it's imperative to always be expanding your talent/skill set.  If you work digitally, know the newest software platforms.  If you paint, keep learning new methods and pushing your understanding, if you do design work, stay up on the newest outlets, multi-media is king.  Keep learning!

It's a business and it's hard work, but it's worth it if you love it.   I'm still working my way through these truths and trying to make a successful business myself.  So here's to a elbow grease and paint stains...  and a little luck for everyone out there pouring their passions into their respective canvases.  ;)

Playing with a Different Brushes in Photoshop and a Special Deal

I love painting.  Real paintbrush to canvas painting.  But I've moved toward doing a lot of painting digitally due to time and space constraints over the last few years.  Just like painting with, well, paint, everyone has a different touch and approach to working with digital medium, and my painting approach has been pretty graphic.  I usually use a hard brush.  I decided I wanted to push what I was doing and try some new techniques, so I decided to try playing with the soft brush and working in a lot of low opacities. Hard and soft brushes are essentially the most very basic brush set that comes in Photoshop.

Hard and Soft Photoshop brushes

Here's an example of a piece that I created using mostly hard brushes and a close up.

Under the Surface

It tends to give it a graphic almost Adobe Illustrator quality.  Besides the scattered textural brushes I used on the mines, which still have a kind of hard edge, just more detailed, and a few loose highlights in the hair, all colors and shading are more or less shapes, which you can see in the super-close-up below.

Close-up detail

Here's my recent go at using only a soft brush (outside of the background splatters) and a close up.

Bride-of Soft Brush

 

Bride-of super close up

This piece was an exercise for me, but it was fun and I think I will play with this method of digitally painting more.  Also, I plan to play with some of the actual 'brush' brushes that Photoshop has now a little further to see if I like them.  And just to keep things rounded out, I'm working on some sketches for an acrylic painting as well.

If you stuck with me long enough to read all through this blog post, I have something for you!  ;)  Special through February 10th: Free shipping on everything in my shop!

Monster Illustrations on My Mind

There was never a monster in my closet or under my bed.  When I was a kid, when bed time came around I would get the assured idea that anywhere in my bedroom that the hardwood floors were exposed, the floors could dematerialize that monsters from some other dimension could reach through them to grab at me.  I had a careful scheme of climbing over furniture to reach my way to the bed without stepping so much as  toe on the wood floors.  I never screamed or became afraid and made a fuss about it, in my mind (at the times that I believed this) it just was so and I'd just go about my way avoiding any contact with these floor monsters.  I wish I could tell you where I got that idea, however over the years I've come to the conclusion that trying to understand how young ones believe or say what they do is futile because they are simply insane. I've been drawing a lot of monsters lately, you may have caught my New Years post with the Monster Party Gone Bad art here.  I'm working out pages of sketches and ideas to put something comprehensive together possibly.  Here's one more that I just did for fun, playing with some colors and lighting a little differently that I usually do.

Little Monster Illustration

If we're afraid of monsters under the bed (or in the floor), what terrorizes little monsters at night?

What are your monster memories from childhood?  The standard fair, or something a little stranger?

Unique Gifts for Unique People

Just wanted to remind you that if you're looking for something interesting for your creative or art loving friends and family, I've got some great options, guaranteed* to make them love you even more!  Here's some examples of what is available at my store.  (If there is another piece from my portfolio that you would love to see available for sale, just let me know, I'll be work on expanding what is available!) *Well, it should...

Printed Art Pillow
Printed Art Pillow

What couch wouldn't be so much more fabulous with one of these pillows?  Only $20.

Art Tote Bag
Art Tote Bag

Tote bags for $22, I think this one is particularly neat on the black background.

Stationery Cards
Stationery Cards

Stationery Card Sets, available in sets of 3, 5 or 10.

Art Laptop Skin
Art Laptop Skin

Various phone, laptop, and tablet skins are available.  This one for the iPad is $25.

Art Shirt
Art Shirt

There are currently two designs available on t-shirts or hoodies, you can even pic the color of the shirt!  The women's fitted shirt pictured above is only $22.

Art Print
Art Print

(As framed below at an extra cost.)

Framed Print
Framed Print

And of course, all of these are available as prints in various sizes ranging from 8x10" all the way up to 22x38" on some.   Also available as stretched canvases or framed art for an added cost.

So go ahead, be the best gift giver this year.  :)

Haunting Tales of Horrorbles

The first book of the horror anthology based around the amazing, scary, and yet charming horror Berwyn shop Horrorbles (seriously, check it out) is released!  I had the pleasure of contributing a funky little pin-up for this comic.  I haven't gotten my hands on a copy just yet, unfortunately I missed the premier this last weekend, but don't let that stop you from going and picking up your own copy!

Toys and Music

In my last post I mentioned the Toy Invaderz show that I was going to be a part of.  Well the opening was last weekend and it was awesome.  Amazing work there, and it's still up through the end of July, so check it out if you are going to be in the Wicker Park area.  Here are my two little dudes....

Also, some time ago I did some illustration and design work for the Stray Toasters CD, Let Go My Ego, which was just released.  Here are some pics of the finished product, which I admit, still makes me a little giddy to see my work actually in use in the physical world.

Your Next Must-Have Adornment.

Drumroll, please.... And Ladies and Gentlemen, I present to you, my T-shirts!  These babies will be available this year and are rolling out at C2E2 in April!  I hope you are planning to stop by and buy your very own Lynell Ingram T-shirt.  :)

First, the unisex soft gray tee.  Featuring the new illustration, 'Red's Revenge.'

And next, for the girls, a pink fitted v-neck tee, featuring 'No Funny'

Both adorable and incredibly bad-ass.  All your friends will think you are cool.  I will think you are the coolest.  Don't forget!

Illustrations on both tees are copyright of D. Lynell Ingram 2012.

Space!

Why hello my lovelies. Happy Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year. I swear I have all kinds of great reasons why I have been MIA on this little blog o’ mine. In fact, probably the primary reason I am posting right now is that I've run out of  about everything but sketch paper and need to get myself to thee art supply ASAP, but feel the need to keep myself busy none-the-less.  I’ve been working, I’ve had major projects, I have a short attention span and… I’ve moved! I have a brand-new (ok, maybe just new to me…) studio space with a big old gorgeous east-facing window. This new space is my source of joy and happiness, frustration, and many coffee fueled late nights. Good things are coming, I can guarantee it. Here's a little peek... (excuse the udder lack of decor so far, I'm sure the walls will be cluttered beyond my tolerance before long.)

Studio

I know, terrible picture.  Truth be told, I took it with my phone.  For shame. Speaking of coffee, have you tried brewing with a French press? These babies make the best coffee. I don’t even own a drip machine anymore. Just sayin'.

At the moment I’m working on some t-shirt designs that I will have available at C2E2 this spring! Mark your calendars, April 13-15 at the Chicago McCormick Center. These babies are going to be very limited runs, so be sure to come by and grab one for your adornment.

Artists are complicated.

Case in point: food.

So I’m one of ‘those’ people now. I am, it’s true. I never thought it would happen, not to me. But, I’m only one of ‘those’ people half of the time. Sigh. The story starts in high school when I worked a part time job at McDonald’s (hey, I grew up in a small town, there weren’t a lot of options.) My school ‘lunches’ regularly consisted of a bottle of coke and a bag of either chips or peanut m&m’s from the vending machine, let me tell you it is a miracle beyond miracles that I don’t have type 2 Diabetes right now. From high school, I went on to become a destitute college student, sufficing mostly off of single serve bags of ramen. Even after college, I had zero interest in cooking or health. Until I suddenly did. I suddenly became very interested in cooking and making things from scratch, and then on to caring about where my food came from. It occurred to me while sitting on public transportation this last weekend with a rolled up yoga mat beside me and a reusable bag of my organic meat share from a local CSA, that I’m one of ‘those’ people. (I feel obligated to point out that I still have yet to use the yoga mat or take a yoga class… next week. Next week.) I’m a borderline activist, organic loving, and health-obsessed foodie.

HOWEVER. There’s another side of me that loves butter! I love baking. (I pretend to occasionally make it healthy, but whom are we kidding?) I love Little Caesars Crazy Bread. It’s just not natural. I love fried cheese and onion rings, and oh my heaven, cheese fries. Food. Of. The. Gods. I am obsessed with blogs about baking. I print out recipes incessantly. I made 75 cinnamon rolls before Christmas, and 8 different batches of cookies. (I went through pounds of butter.) And I’ll admit to drooling while watching Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. Deep fried garden gnomes covered in au jus , fries and cheese, then fried again? Yes please!

How do I justify this dichotomy? I don’t. I gave up trying to understand how my brain goes about its day and come to a level of acceptance and embrace the oddness within. The monster in my closet prefers it that way.

Ice cream….

The source of the swelling


Album cover I designed for 888 in 2007

I’m feeling nostalgic. Maybe it’s the weather. But it leads me to page through my old sketchbooks and notebooks. Even an old blog I’d forgotten I’d kept until I saw a photo today of a certain amazing individual who in my life had a very fleeting moment of acknowledgement, yet possibly changed and inspired me forever. It was simply an encouraging comment to a blog entry. All of these old scraps and scribbles feed my borderline melancholy and I’m flooded with memories of moments in my life both terrible and beautiful.

Sometimes it seems like I get so caught up with working, and paying bills, taxes, and keeping myself healthy, and essentially the whole ‘rat race’ that it’s easy to forget why I do what I do. What I want to say. What I’ve always wanted to say. Life becomes the lid on the jar of my very essence. I wish I could schedule days like today, at least every 3-4 months as a bit of a reality check. Maybe reality isn’t the word I’m looking for. A motivation check? A who-the-hell-am-I check?

My best work is always the work that wells up into the back of my throat while I hurriedly try to put it onto paper before the moment is gone. As an illustrator, it’s not always easy to paint from the heart for each and every project. But the closer I can try to get to that, the more successful I will be. So that is the challenge.

Now. I feel like I should go close myself in my room with a sketch book and blast some Depheche Mode, then paint my fingernails black.





Carnival game chance And yet I walk on forward Swollen feet and hope