Monday, March 7, 2016

Mark Crilley: "10 Ways to Get Better at Drawing"

Mark Crilley is an author/illustrator of manga and children's books based in Michigan. I recently came across this 20-minute video of his advice for artists and found it to be helpful and insightful.




After the craziness of 2015 kept me away from studying art with any level of seriousness, I'm returning to it now with a fresh approach, as well as the wisdom that comes from having applied myself to it for several years now (I still can't believe it's been over 3 years since I started this blog and this journey!). In looking back over the blog, the various experiences I've had and things I've learned from, I'm realizing that certain pieces of advice that I've been hearing all along are hitting a new level of resonance with me now.

1. THE IMPORTANCE OF MINDFULNESS - When it comes to practice. You can't just decide "I'll draw 25 horses, and then I will understand how to draw horses forever." If that's your approach, then you'll rush through each drawing just to get it over with and get to that final destination of having done the drawings and thus having the 'knowledge' - which of course is not how it works at all. You have to be deliberate with your drawing, analyzing what went wrong and what went right and how best to move forward.

2. THE TOOLS DON'T MATTER - I see it all the time - the #1 question from aspiring artists to professionals is "What brush/pen/pencil/program/paper/etc should I use???" Mark hits on this in his video too - it really doesn't matter. You just have to try to make art with whatever you find, and keep experimenting with different materials. What works for one artist won't work for the next. Your favorite tools will introduce themselves to you over time.

3. PATIENCE - Mark touches upon this in the video with his #9 point: 'Don't expect progress to occur in a matter of weeks, or even months.' This is the most significant thing that I think I've truly come to understand recently. Some of the first books I picked up when I started wanting to improve were Andrew Loomis's books on figure and head drawing. I'll always remember reading the introduction and coming across this passage: "May I add one suggestion? Whatever your motive, try not to be impatient. Impatience has probably been a bigger stumbling block in the way of real ability than anything else... Skill is the ability to overcome obstacles, the first of which is usually lack of knowledge about the thing we wish to do... Skill is a result of trying again and again, and applying our knowledge as we gain it. Let us get used to throwing away the unsuccessful effort and doing the job over. Let us consider obstacles as something to be expected in any endeavor: then they won't seem quite so insurmountable or so defeating." I read that, way back in 2012, and thought: Yes, I will remember this! And I will never be impatient with myself. Oh, past Gina... you're so cute and naïve.

4. FUN - It has to be fun. Otherwise why are you doing it? Studiousness is all well and good, but the study of art is something where I think the motto 'work hard, play harder' applies very well. The study should be in service of all the great creations your playful, imaginative, creative self wants to bring to light.

I wanted to share one last quote from Stephen King, whose part-technical prose manual, part-memoir 'On Writing' I read sometime in the past year, during a period when I was often feeling frustrated with the lack of time I had for art due to our wedding planning, family obligations, traveling for friends' weddings, or what have you. In the memoir sections of the book, King had a number of passages devoted to his family life, and one in particular really touched me. For years, he said, he’d dreamed of owning an amazing writing desk, a ‘massive oak slab that would dominate a room.’ He finally got one and he put it in the middle of his study, and used it during the worst years of his alcohol and drug addiction, ‘like a ship’s captain in charge of a voyage to nowhere.’ After he sobered up, he gave that desk away and put in a living room suite where it had been, where his kids would hang out sometimes. He got a smaller desk and put it in the corner, under the eave. “It starts with this,” he says:

“Put your desk in the corner, and every time you sit down there to write, remind yourself why it isn’t in the middle of the room. Life isn’t a support system for art. It’s the other way around.”

© Gina Florio 2016

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Student Short Film "Ed"

This short was animated in Photoshop by Sheridan College's Taha Neyestani, and recently won the Annie Award for best student film in 2015.

There's not much I can say that will add to this beautiful film, so I'll just let it speak for itself. Enjoy!


© Gina Florio 2016

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Wedding Art

I've been wanting for some time to do a post on all of the art I produced for our wedding this past September. I particularly enjoyed designing our Back to the Future themed invitations as well as our program, which surprised me, considering they were more graphic design than illustration.

By the way, all professional-looking photos in this post were taken by the illustrious Mary Costa, a fantastic L.A. based photographer as well as a friend.





 




I also did a number of 'fictional couple' illustrations to use as table markers to showcase some of our favorite films, books and videogames - Dave and I share a strong love of good stories!







 Finally, I made a Calvin-and-Hobbes-style illustration as a Thank You card. I used Photoshop to mimic watercolor, an experiment I'd been wanting to attempt for some time.


Bonus actual wedding photo! It was truly a happy day.



© Gina Florio 2016

Monday, December 14, 2015

Bachelor Party Shirts

Weddings?! I love weddings! Drinks all around!

We've been to six weddings this year (invited to eight), most of which were for very close friends or family members of either Dave or myself. (I realized at our most recent one on December 5th that it was the first wedding this year that we'd actually arrived at together, having been involved in the bridal parties of all of the others.) And these weddings came with all of the assorted sub-wedding events - engagement parties, bridal showers, and of course, bachelor and bachelorette parties.

This year I did four bachelor party shirts (which we then screenprinted onto blank T-shirts with the help of our friends Jessica and Jack).

For my friend Steve, codename: Dennis the Menace.

For my husband. This took forever. He owes me.


For my good friend Thaddeus, aka Thadd Washington, aka Pastor Thadd (he did my husband and I the great honor of marrying us).

For our friend Heinz, who holds the record among our friends for biggest smile and most owned articles of American flag clothing.

While I'm not going into a career in T-shirt design anytime soon, these were all good exercises in graphic design as well as caricaturing people I know, which used to make me super nervous but doesn't anymore. Also, due to the nature of screenprinting, every design had to be black-and-white only with no gradients or shading - a limitation that I hadn't had to deal with before but that led to some interesting artistic growth.

Most importantly, all the guys were super happy with their shirts. Happy clients = happy artist.

© Gina Florio 2015

Monday, November 9, 2015

NYT Tackles the Creative Economy

This article was sent to me by my friend Jack, with the promise that it was worth its reading time. It's a good look at the creative culture of today, examining income statistics and sales rates to determine if the outlook is bleak or bright for people who create and produce art and entertainment for a living.

Illustration by Andrew Rae

The answer, of course, is complicated. My TL;DR synopsis is that technology and the internet have made it both easier and harder for creatives. Yay! Sort of.

But two things give me heart: firstly, the fact that, even in the digital age, consumers still appreciate and seek out handmade things and tactile, real-world experiences. As James Gurney said, "Other humans will always enjoy works that are filtered through the human consciousness and the human hand." And secondly, Johnson's observation that "The profound change lies at the boundaries of professionalism. It has never been easier to start making money from creative work, for your passion to undertake that critical leap from pure hobby to part-time income source." 

Whatever the outcome, I believe that easier and more affordable avenues that pave the way for more creative people to do what they love will never be a bad thing.

© Gina Florio 2015

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Drunk Literature: "Game of Thrones"

One of the many benefits to not posting for almost a year is that I now have a nice buildup of my own work to post!

For realsies, though, I'm sorry for my absence, but this year has been certifiably insane. In a good way. But still insane. I'm happy to report that our wedding was great, A++, 5 star experience, would get married again. Also very happy that life is finally starting to resemble normalcy now.

Right after CTNx last year, my friend Ellen (who blogs for Garlic, My Soul, among others) contacted me to see if I would be interested in working with her fiancé Aaron, a DreamWorks TV writer, on one of his side projects, a 'Drunk History' spinoff called Drunk Literature. They'd done a full first season on YouTube that included The Catcher in the Rye, Hamlet, and 50 Shades of Grey, and they were gearing up for season 2. They had me in mind for their epic 'A Song of Ice and Fire' (aka Game of Thrones) episode. Being a huge fan of the book series and the show, I couldn't say no.

Clocking in at almost 8 minutes, it was their longest episode yet, covering the first three books in the series, which meant there was a lot of drawing to do (and there would be no time for polishing). I definitely utilized my skills from my Intro to Storyboarding class with Louie del Carmen here, especially when it came to the animation effects that I wanted to achieve.

Obviously, spoilers for Game of Thrones abound below.





© Gina Florio 2015

Friday, October 16, 2015