Category Archives: Kool Aid Gets Fired

How you see yourself

Recently I went to GenCon, the best 4 days in gaming! It’s a total nerd-fest of gamers, and is a lot of fun. I went for the fun, but also to help out my friend Marc Scheff who had his first booth in Artist Alley. With us was Jeff and Caroline Himmelman, and Aaron Miller.

I sat there amongst all these awesome fantasy art illustrators. I was a little apprehensive at first. But that didn’t stop me from talking to them. Marc, Jeff and Aaron all introduced me as their friend and as fellow illustrator.

More then anything, that meant a lot. I’ve been calling myself an illustrator for the past two years, with confidence. No, I’m not fully supporting myself yet doing just illustrations. That’s probably several years off. It’s actually how I see myself these days.

When I got to meet other artists and talk with them, I was able to talk with them on the same level, a professional illustrator, and all that goes with being an illustrator, getting work, where to look for work, how to deal with clients. When you are a commercial illustrator, there are lots of area that are common, regardless of what kind of illustration you do. And I was able to say, I do editorial illustration and that was cool with everyone, there wasn’t any sense of “oh your not a fantasy illustrator…”

I gave out several copies of Kool Aid Gets Fired, and got a really great response towards it. Saturday, I got a text from fellow cartoonist Monica Gallagher, saying “Dude, I’m in a comic book store right now and this guy is totally gushing over Kool Aid!”. Then about a hour later, and email from someone that picked up Kool Aid from Midtown comics, telling me how much he enjoyed it (and how sad it was at the same time).

I left GenCon feeling really energized, and I wasn’t even there to promote myself or get work, though I did leave my comic with several art directors. You never know when a game company does a silly game and needs whimsical illustrations.

It also reinforced that being an illustrator is something you have to pursue actively. Marc was there to get his work seen, and hopefully sell some prints, which he did. For a first GenCon, I think he did pretty well. He got great reactions from people to his art. In particular to his animal prints. Sales are always great, but sometimes feedback is better, even though it doesn’t have any bankable value. Feedback guides you to make better choices.

Marc got to talk to lots of art directors, getting direction and possibly some work. We both got to talk shop with each other, and other artists, and it felt great. Actually it felt amazing to be honest. For me the moment that stood out most was one night (I can’t remember which night), before going to sleep. Marc, Aaron and I shared a room. It was late and we were just sitting around talking, and it wasn’t about art, just guys sitting around being guys (I’ll spare the guy talk details). But under that we shared the bond of having the same struggle and goals.

While a lot of the time was socializing, hanging out, watching Marc take his first nerd steps (He’s totally into Magic, the card game, thanks to Jeremy Jarvis), it was still networking.

Now, here is a list of the awesome artists that I got to meet and talk to besides the ones mentioned above.

Chris Seaman, check out his new book, inkBloom with the talented Jim Pavelec.

The Mohrbachers, Ania and Pete. They traded a very nice print for a signed copy of Kool Aid.

John Stanko, Eric Deschamps, Paul (the Prof) Herbet, Chris Burdett (rawr, I’m a monster!) and Grant Cooley were just some of the many artists there, but I actually got to talk to them the most.

While sitting at Marc’s table, I did some drawings, so here is a couple of them.

Kool Aid Goes to GenCon

Rascal Pile up at the dice bins

waiting for inspiration

“Inspiration is for amateurs. The rest of us just show up and get to work.”

– Chuck Close

Someone quoted that this weekend, I had never heard it before, but it’s something I believe in, and have for years. It’s not good enough to just sit around waiting for a good idea. In fact, I tend to have more inspirations when I am doing something, over doing nothing. Being active makes the brain active, which causes ideas. Just like anything in this world, use it or loose it.

Inspiration can come in many forms. Secret confession, I watch Project Runway. Not for the fashion so much, but because I like Tim Gunn. I see him as a very positive, problem solving, encouraging person, who is genuine. He goes with his gut feelings, but channels that into thoughtful questions and is very open to a wide range of ideas.

So, I enjoy watching someone like that, because I work towards being like that in who I am.

I find inspiration in Sarah Palin, in how not to be as a person. She is a horrible person, because she is a hypocrite. She talks about how society needs a strong roll model and leadership. And yet every time someone says some thing insulting or degrading about her, what comes back is on the same level, insulting and degrading.

In short, she has never shown me that she can rise above, and be better. Which, to me takes her lower then the person who originally insulted her. Because she knows she’s doing it, and goes ahead and acts that way on purpose. Maybe not, which is sad, because that means she has no self awareness.

I’m only mentioning these public figures as examples of how inspiration can come from anywhere. Currently I’m working on 10 full page color illustrations for Son of Kool Aid, need to be done by March 9th. I’m doing good on getting them done.

There are lots of things motivating me, but one thing in particular, are people that always complain about not being able to ever get work done. But they never just sit down and do it. There is always something in the way. Tired from work, which I would accept, if they were lumberjacks. They have boring jobs, that dull their minds. I’ve been there.

I write these blog entries for myself, really. Why? To remain positive. To motivate myself to looking at things in a forward way. There is no room in these entries for complaining and bitching. I may talk about a bad experience, but it would be about how I learned from it. There isn’t any reason to come here and vent.

As I work on these illustrations, I find inspiration comes naturally. But it’s also because my mind is very active. It’s like working out. Keep doing it, and you will see results.

So don’t wait till you have the inspiration to do something. Do something and the inspiration will come. Not only that, your skills to execute the inspiration will be sharp, making it easier.

Here are some sections of the illustrations I’m working on. Enjoy.


Yesterday I worked on site at a company drawing graphs for a Math book. As with many temp jobs, there is some sitting around doing nothing. During my downtime, I sketched ideas for how I want the kids to look in my Son of Kool Aid story for my book. I came to a design that I really like. The red checks mean parts I like and will develop further or try and use.

Here is the basic shape of the boys that I am going with. Sure there will be variations but the basic average boy is based on this sketch.

When I’m working on my comics, it amazes me the amount of pre-development you need to do for any given aspect. It’s easy enough to write down “SoKA being picked on by school mates”. What do all those school mates look like? I think that’s often were I spend the most time staring at the screen. It’s a good process, as I will get an idea. It might be “Fat Kid”, then I start working out what kind of fat kid. “Mean Girl” or “Nose picker”

A friend on facebook recently asked, should he plan out all the aspects of a website, sketching it out, or a few parts, and then just start to building pages, making things up as he goes along. The over all response was, sketch it out, keeping it flexible, that making it up as you go along doesn’t really work.

Planning out your art and creative process, more often then people realize, determines if you will succeed or fail.

The return of Kool Aid and more

Today, I’m officially having Kool Aid Gets Fired professionally printed. And I have time to add the short illustrated story about his bastard child I want to. Pushing the book up from 28 pages to 40. because of getting a lot of work lately, I was worried if I would have time include the new story. I felt that I should include something more for the official printing.

Here is color test of his son I did, as I was working out the look I wanted for the illustrations.

I’m very pleased at how this came out, for only spending a couple of hours on it. If you haven’t read Kool Aid Gets Fired, I’m not spoiling much. There’s plenty in the book to look forward.

The books should be in my hands by April 2nd, and will go for $5 each, which you will be able to order through here (Plus shipping), or if you come to one of the several conventions I’m going to, get it there. Of course, I will be posting more info as it comes along and gets closer.