Monday, May 17, 2010

How are you doing?

   Hello my friends. It occurred to me this morning that in almost every blog I am writing about something cool that is happening to me in my career, and realized I hardly ever talk about me as a person like I did when I started this blog 2 years ago? I'm guessing, because I had another one before this one, and I don't remember when I changed over.
    One of the things I really miss is being able to write all my friends like I used to. Things are always so crazy I have to cut corners, like not writing letters, to help me have time to do the things that i do know.  But honestly I care a great deal about all my friends but just don't have the time to write anyone like before.   I still remember being foolish and saying I would never change and always did the things like I used too. Like I said, that was a foolish goal. These days I even have a hard time finding time to write a blog that has any substance and doesn't sound like a commercial for myself. A couple of times I thought about ending the blog, but then I realized that this is the only real way to keep in touch with my friends anymore.  So today, i decided to start talking about more than just my career.
     Obviously, i can't get to personal, because we had a Nut Job threaten Madison's 3 times in the last 6 months, because they where upset with me, and there have been a good many more.  But 99% of the people out there are wonderful to both of us, and I really enjoy watching Madison career start and grow. It brings back so many memories of my own career.  But she is working so hard at learning all she can, and we have wonderful friends that are helping her. I see great things for her future, but like most of us know, there is no shortcuts. You have to work your arshe off, developed a tough skin and keep at it, an before you know it you are living your dream.
     My normal day is probably not what you think. Sometimes it alters like here the last 2 weeks because of some new medicines the doc put me on. They where making me sleep way to much, so I quit taking them yesterday and now my body is returning to normal. Normal for me is I get up about 7:15 and by 7:45 i am in the studio going through my mail and checking the networking groups that I am part of.  These are an important source for finding new work. Normally by 11 i have drank a pot of coffee, ate breakfast, showered, and ready to get to work. Normally I work to somewhere between 7 and 9 pm, unless i am getting out a tight deadline, then it could be all night. After my day is through I try to watch a good movie at the end of the day.  Then it's to bed and start all over again in the morning, 7 days a week.
     My days are usually interesting and full of surprises.  For Instance Yesterday, I get a letter from a publisher saying " The deadline is almost here, where is the work?"  I had a total brain lockup.  I had no clue to who they where and what I was supposed to be doing for them. I wrote back immediately wrote back and gave them a great big  "HUH?" It turned out to be an E-magazine called "House of Horrors' which I had agreed to let them use some of my work for a feature they wanted to do on me. I couldn't believe I had forgotten something like that. I apologized and got everything to them they needed last night, feeling like a big idiot.
   There a wonderful e-zine out of the UK.  You know I told Madison last night that I have noticed here lately that I have been tons of work and interviews, the whole 9 yards for overseas.  Of course about half of the horror writers I work with are from overseas. But it still is bugging me I could have forgotten something like that, so Madison came up with a good solution. We are putting a huge calender in the studio so i can write down all the deadlines and anything i commit too.
    But to be honest I think the real problem comes from a new med the doc's have been wanting me to take for PTSD. I started taking them about 6 weeks ago, and I noticed right away that I was more upbeat to start with, and then  after a few weeks I would go into a stupor where I had to lay down to sleep, or fall on my face. So I wasn't getting the work done I needed to get done, which in turn make me grumpy.  And all of a sudden I couldn't remember things, so I quite the med's a couple of days ago, and I am already feeling much better, and getting back to my normal routine. We decided to tell the doc that I am still taking them though, because if I tell them I'm not, they'll put me on something else, and I have been doing great the last few months.
    I have been taking more pain meds though, because at my age, and working out everyday is veryyyyyyyyyy painful. lol. But the results are nice. I see my body getting in tone again, and it makes me feel better about myself.  It also makes me feel younger as well.  Now if I can just get rid of the grey hair. lol I don't mind aging, I really don't.  For one thing, it keeps me from doing stupid things like I did when I was young.  These days I stop and think, "now that might hurt if I don't do it right" lol  For a while I considered getting back into Kung Fu, or at least Thai Chi.  When I was a young man, I was very heavy into the Martial Arts, and I know it would be good for me now, but those stretches, oh god, they would be painful. But  don't be surprised if you hear me tell you that I decide to get back into it.
    I feel like the powers that be have given me a second chance at life, and I am going to live everyday to its fullest.  Madison has really helped me in so many ways that she doesn't understand, but if she would have known me 3 years ago, she would be able to see the changes that I have went through just because I love her so much and I want to spend as many days beside her as I possibly can. She is the only woman that I ever took everything she says so seriously.  The reason is simple, she has it all on the line for me. She got me this very expensive computer for me to do my art work on, she has made everything possible that has happened in my career. Let's look at the facts, since I meet her 13 months ago, I have been interviewed 14 times. I have had 5 features ran on me in name publications. I have been interviewed and filmed for a motion picture, and I will be on the radio heard all over the world in a couple of weeks, and the most important thing is that she believes in me and loves me.
    Before her in a 4 year period, I was interviewed 4 times, was on the radio once and was on a TV commercial and a guest on a "Ghost Hunter" type of reality show.  She is always telling me that I give her to much credit, but she doesn't realize that without her help I would have wound out on the streets, homeless 1000 miles from home because of the as*wipes that brought me here to use me until my health was failing, and I was dying.  I still get angry when I think about them, but I'm not going down that road again. I have no doubt that Karma will give them what they deserve, whatever that may be.
    Here is something I want to share with young Illustrators.  There is much more to this business than just being a good artist, you have to wear many hats as the saying goes.
A lot of times you work directly with the writer, and the info I am going to paste below is written by a friend S.D. Hintz.  The young man is an excellent writer and has a wonderful future in front of him.  After his article I made a couple of comments intended to help young Illustrators, So hear it is...

One of the things I dread the most as an author is what the cover art for my upcoming work will look like. I always have an image in mind that I think would capture the feel, but more often than not the artist and/or publisher has a completely different vision.

Should I Commission An Artist Myself?
Good question, and it rests on a balance beam, in my opinion. If you choose to commission your own artist and your work has already been accepted by a publisher, keep in mind that the publisher will not want to be caught in the middle. Meaning, your contract, whether written or verbal, with the artist is only between you two. Some publishers will not even give you the option of providing your own artwork, depending on the contract. One of two things could occur if you commission the artwork yourself:
You pay the artist for the cover art, you like the end product, but the publisher dislikes it. So now you are stuck with a cover you paid for that the artist will possibly be disinterested in reworking.
The publisher loves the cover art commissioned and it saves them hundreds of dollars, depending on the artist's rates.
Now speaking as a publisher, I oftentimes commission different artists for our Skullvines Press titles. I have had certain artists that either could not meet deadlines or their art did not work for me, hence ending the relationship. This is business as usual depending on the contract details.
Where it can get sticky is if you commission an artist yourself and neglect to include a clause in the contract to cover you if you or the publisher dislikes the artwork. Lawsuits can often manifest if there is a disagreement and lack of contractual terms. A good example is the copyright dispute with the Hershey company.

What If I Hate My Cover Art?
The best case scenario is that your publisher will respect your opinion and work with you. I recently had conversations with my publisher concerning cover art I was not particularly fond of, and he reworked into something that I now love. Always be sure to let your publisher know what you think of the artwork. After all, this is your writing you spent months or years hammering away at. You should adore every bit of it once it is published.
The worst case scenario is that the publisher will not budge on the cover art - seeing how they have the final say - and you are forced to live with it. In an instance like this, if you are extremely passionate about disliking the cover and the publisher is deaf to your cries, you may want to consider breaking your contract. The truth of the matter is that everyone judges a book by its cover. And this is the cover you are going to advertise to the world. Something to always keep in mind.

While there are various other scenarios in regards to artist and publisher relationships, hopefully the previous insights will assist fellow authors that are challenged by their cover art.

Subscribe to S.D.'s articles at the top of the page!
Other articles that may interest you:

Nick Rose says:

Right now I am working on a book cover where the horror great Zoe Whitten hired me to do the work for her. I made sure to ask her all the right questions. She had a specific idea of what she wanted in the cover. If I wasn't sure I would ask her until I felt like I was seeing what she was seeing. After I got the piece to around the halfway point, I showed it to her to make sure I was on the right track. She is please and make a couple of suggestions and gave me the green light to finish it. Once I am done, I will show it to her for her opinion once more, and make any final changes she may want.
Although I am trained in traditional methods and love painting in oils, I use Corel Painter 9 for my illustration work. I can save the work at many points making it easy to make a major change if necessary, and working in layers makes my job much easier as well.
But the main thing to remember here is if you call yourself an illustrator, then your job is to please your client.

Nick Rose says:

Hey SD,
This is an excellent article, and if you don't mind I would like to share it on my blog. I do my best to help the young artist coming up, and this a fantastic article for them to read.
First and foremost, and it should be carved in an artist forehead, "Never miss a deadline" and don't wait to the last minute to start the project. An artist should always work on being weeks ahead on all their deadlines. The reasons are simple, things change. Sometimes the artist has to make changes at the last minute because of "Layout" issues, Or the second reason, the artist is not getting what the writer wants.
In my case, even if the publisher hires me, I work with the writer. I pick their brain to get the best idea that I can of what they have in mind. One has to remember, an Illustrators job is to create the writers vision, not there own. If you want to do your own all the time, then it is best to be just an artist.
More in next comment.

May 17, 10:29 AM

I have seen many artist young and older blow their careers because they could not work with either the Art Director or the Writer.  But the main job as an Illustrator is to be able to understand what they want and give it to them the way they see it.  If you can learn to do this, you will have a good future and good things will come your way. I am able to do this 97% of the time. I've only had one writer that demanded why to much and crossed the line in several attempts to work with him and give him what he wanted.  That is the only writer I was not able to please in my whole career.  It really hurt my pride that i could not please this guy. I showed his letters to a couple of my friends to see what they thought, and they told me they would have told him to go f@ck himself after the first one.  But outside of that one occasion, I would bet i have worked with at least a 100 different writers so far, and i enjoyed working with all of them.
    You have to learn not to take it personal or like it is an attack of your ability's. It is not.  It is simply the process that you go through to produce quality illustrations.  It is also how you build clients. If you make the writer or publisher happy, they are going to recommend you to their friends, and over time that builds up into  a healthy studio making a profit.
    Time to sign off. Until next time and a new Painting for Zoe Whitten's new horror book. Peace and blessings. "May the Darkness comfort you"

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