Here's a piece that I recently finished as a self-promo to friends and clients over the internet; The Twelve Days of Christmas. I love this time of the year! Happy Holidays! Let's hope for a prosperous 2010!
Last Friday, I hosted a studio visit for some of the Graphic Design students visiting from the University of Central Missouri. I always enjoy meeting new students who are interested in both illustration and design, which is why I was happy to share with them some of my experiences as a freelance illustrator. I graduated from art college about 10 years ago, but didn't begin working steadily as a freelance illustrator until about 8 years ago. It was a somewhat difficult transition for me from being a student to a professional because I really had no idea how to approach this. I was working full-time in a retail store and illustrating part-time, but desperately wanted for it to be the other way around. Oftentimes when asked, "What do you do?" I would respond by saying apologetically that, "I worked in retail, but drew pictures on the side." Sounds self deprecating, I know, but I think it had more to do with the fact that I understood that I had not quite reached a point in my professional life where I could comfortably admit to anyone that I was indeed an Illustrator. But, I believe this was the case with many of my friends who currently work as freelance artists, writers, designers, or illustrators - they never announced what it was that they did professionally, but rather the industry assigned them that role, and position. I have such clear memories about what it was like to get my illustration career off of the ground. I'm asked quite frequently by students, how it was that I was able to grow my career to a point where illustrating is what I did day-to-day. That's why hosting this tour was very interesting for me because it's what I would have wanted to experience as a student and young illustrator. I had a truly great time and hopefully they did as well. Many thanks to David Babcock, Assistant Professor of Graphic Design at UCMO, for arranging the tour.
This is a follow up to the lecture that I did in Toronto a few months ago at FITC, which was a Flash conference that spanned a period of 3 days that included some of the brightest and creatives minds in motion and interface art and design. That's me in the bottom left corner and an image of an illustration that I did while studying Illustration at the Ontario College of Art and Design, in Toronto, Canada. Essentially I spoke about the "ins and outs" of my experience as an illustrator, where my work was, where it is now, and which direction that I hope to take it in the near future. There are some bits about my process as well as samples of my personal drawings near the end of the presentation. I must warn you that the audio cuts out slightly near the beginning, but remains pretty constant throughout the rest of the talk (which is 52 minutes). Here is the link to the FITC website http://www.fitc.ca/media/ where you can view my lecture; scroll down the window on your right side where you will come across "Pretty Pictures, by Marcos Chin." Many thanks for checking it out. I hope you enjoy it.
IMAGINING MOZAMBIQUEOn August 27, 2009, I will be participating in a traveling fund-raising group show at Maxalot Gallery in Amsterdam for ASEM, a non-profit organization for the children of Mozambique. This project was especially important to me because I was born in Mozambique - actually I am second generation being that my parents were born there as well. Coincidentally, or perhaps serendipitously, I was asked to participate in this exhibit. In 1975 Mozambique gained independence from Portugal after hundreds of years; however, 10 years prior to that began the revolution or civil war that carried on for decades after. As a result there was a mass exodus during that time, and luckily my family and I along with thousands of others fled the country fearing that our lives would be torn apart by the war. Unfortunately for many of those who remained, that was just what happened. Mozambique's war last until the early 1990s and was coupled with economic instability, famine, drought and other natural disasters. Many of the children of Mozambique therefore, became victims of violence, poverty and were separated from their families and forced to live on the streets. For this exhibit eleven artists from around the world were asked to create a piece that would help to enlighten the public to the every day life of the children of Mozambique, in hopes to inspire awareness and positive action in some capacity. Below are some of the photos that I took of my process of creating this piece from sketch stage to final. It was my intention to keep this piece somewhat narrative and have it include some qualities that might be inherent in story book illustrations. The children here are hopeful, food and water are plentiful and they are spreading goodness to one other, celebrating and partaking in it. Here is my initial sketch. I usually like to keep it rather loose, breaking the image down into shapes in order to find a composition that satisfies me, after which I proceed into tightening the drawing. I've transferred my rough drawing onto watercolour paper. Typically I place the rough drawing underneath a fresh sheet of paper and use that as a template to create a final drawing by means of a light table, but in this case the sheet of paper that I am using is roughly about 30x40". Consequently, I had to do a graphite transfer of my rough drawing onto my watercolour paper instead. Oftentimes to save time I will draw some components of my drawing on mylar or tracing paper. It's an approach that was informed by my time spent learning how to silk screen i.e. separating your image into layered components and then assembling them together to form an entire image. This method of working makes sense to me because it allows me to work on each layer without it affecting other layers. Moreover, since my main medium is digital using Adobe Illustrator, I have become accustomed to layering my images already. That's something that is very important to me as an illustrator, to learn various techniques and artforms outside of my own because there is a possibility that it might inform my craft or process in some way. The inked image was then scanned into my computer and then finished off in Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop. Oftentimes, I like to print a version of my illustration in the midst of working in order to comb over the details of it. You can see in the photo above that I've done a test print. But if you scroll to the top of the page, you'll notice that my colour palette has changed considerably. I feel as though the image on the monitor creates a false sense of what my illustrations look like when they're printed although I'm actually not sure why that is? It might be because of the glare? Perhaps my eyes get tired of looking at the monitor and so I overlook mistakes? I really don't know. Either way, I like to hold the actual illustration in my hand, even if it is a print and use that as a final test to see whether or not I am actually happy with the image that I've drawn. The opening for "Imagining Mozambique" will premier at Maxalot Gallery, in Amsterdam on August 27, 2009. You can visit the website at maxalot.com to see the other artists who will be involved and read more about the exhibit.
Last night, my friend (and illustrator extraordinaire) Fernanda Cohen and I participated in "Happening 002" at Collective Hardware in the Lower East Side. It was a fun night of drawing and art making on the spot accompanied by Mikkel Hess' (of Hess is More) drum sessions. Other artists in attendance were Alessandra Olanow, and Bill and Cassady Benson. The five of us sketched each other, the scenes around us, or whatever were in our heads and then posted our sketches up on the wall. At the end the night these sketches were either sold, or given away or exchanged for the works by other artists The remaining drawings that were left on the walls were then ritualistically torn up and thrown onto the floor marking the end of the night. Many thanks to Seth Cohen for making this happen(ing).Sketches by Bill (left), Alessandra Olanow (top) and Cassady Benson (on the right).Mikkel Hess of Hess is More performing his drum sketches periodically throughout the night.You can see a sketch of Mikkel that I did, the second drawing from the left of the red figure over a braided abstract background. Another drawing of mine above of my friend David Singer; below that are two by Fernanda Cohen.
MOVING DAYHere are some photos of my recent move to my new studio in Brooklyn. It's been almost 4 years that I've had a studio in Manhattan, but now I've decided to say "farewell" and embrace a space that is closer to home. I'm going to miss my studio mates, but this is something that I feel is necessary, if I want to grow my work. The main reason that I decided to find a space on my own was because I wasn't accepted into graduate school this year for Fine Arts. My rejection from the 4 schools that I applied to left me a bit lost and confused. My intention to go back to school had more to do with feeling as though my work had plateaued in some respect, and so naturally, I assumed school would be the proper route to take in order to free myself from this creative flat-line. But also, in the past 2 years I was fortunate to have participated in a couple of studio residencies within New York City, that truly inspired me to want to take my work to the next level; to experiment with different media, and to explore new ideas outside of my commercial work. My experience in this fine art environment seriously thrusted my way of thinking into a new direction, and thus challenged the way in which I began to view my commercial/illustration work. I've been asked time and time again, how do you keep your work fresh?...how do you stay inspired?... really, I don't have a concrete answer. I'm inspired by so many things: by the books that I read, by the images that I see day-to-day, from the conversations and interactions that I have with friends and strangers. I think for me, being too comfortable, feeling too cozy in my life and in my career, can become detremental to my creativity. I've learned up to this point not to try to follow so many rules, and to understand that there is no right or wrong way to approach image-making. So after not getting into graduate school, I decided that instead of sulking in my own complacency, I would find a space of my own where I could concentrate and freely explore some new ideas that I had, regardless of how relevant it may be to the illustration work that I am doing now. In many ways, I've crawled into my own well, and will steep in there for a while, until I am ready to come out again.
Last night was the opening of the DECOB show in Zakka, NYC, in Dumbo Brooklyn. DECOB are eco-friendly bags that have been made by various artists from around the world. The exhibit has traveled to Toronto, Tokyo, Osaka, London, Hong Kong, Shanghai and New York. I along with Yoko Furusho were asked to contribute to their New York show by submitting one image that would be printed onto one of their bags as a limited run of 30.
The image that I submitted (above) was a personal piece that I had previously done. It's a straight-forward ink drawing entitled, "Paddle Ball." I have been for some time now, trying to include within my art practice, moments when I can work on personal assignments, and to experiment with different kinds of media. Much of the commercial work that I do is entirely all digital (using mostly Adobe Illustrator, and now Photoshop as well) and so in order to keep me constantly engaged with my work, I feel that it's necessary to continue to work on these personal drawings. Honestly I'm not sure where I will be taking these drawings... it has been an extremely slow journey for the past 2 years or so, but so far, I'm enjoying the ride.
I'm trying not to think so much about the application of my new work anymore, mostly because I don't know how committed I am to this "style"... ooooohhhh did i say "that" word? ... Yes I did...and I'll say it again, "style". But it's true, aesthetically I'm not certain if these new images that I am producing are even the direction that I want to pursue with my new body of work; however, it's a good and comfortable starting point for me. My belief is that one's "style" is born out of being artistically prolific; that one's signature aesthetic is informed and derived from strong ideas and concepts, so that the "style essentially finds you, instead of you trying seek it out." But again, i'm not so sure what it is I want to say within my personal work, nor do I understand how it is relevant to the rest of the world. I had no idea that when I began this process of creating personal work, that it would have any forum... so to see it on the DECOB bag is very interesting to me.
Either way, back to the original point of this entry, last night's show went very well, there was good turn out, a lot to drink, nice people and live jazz to end off the night. Thanks so much again Zakka, NYC for hosting the show and to Tomori Nagamoto who asked me to participate. And of course much love and a special thanks to all of my friends, and my friends' friends who showed up and also to those who dipped into their wallets to purchase one of my bags (especially during these gray economic times). Hopefully this is the start of something new. Big hugs, Marcos.
KOKESHI DOLLHere is glimpse of the Kokeshi doll that I just finished... yeah, it's that tiny thing left of center in the photograph. The doll will be part of an exhibition at The Japanese American National Museum, in Los Angeles, this June. It was a fun experience mostly because I spend so much of my time working on the computer, so when the opportunity arises where I can investigate new materials to work with, it's all the more fun.
The Kokeshi dolls are wooden but as you can see, the final doll looks more ceramic. I basically sealed the surface of the doll with Absorbant Ground and then drew on top of it using ink and watercolour. Afterwards I poured resin onto it (... I know it's super toxic, but I use it only about once every year or two...) to give it the appearance of a glassy surface. Initally I planned to keep the content more obscure, focusing more on creating a pattern, but somehow I moved in this direction drew a face, and then hair, etc. In the end, it ended up looking like my best friend. Ha!
I just got back from FITC Toronto where I spent 4 days with some of the most intelligent and creative minds working in the industry of Flash, motion graphics, moving image, sound and interactive art and design. It was an incredible experience and my gut is still gasping from all the goodness that I inhaled while I was there. I was moved by so many of the speakers' presentations that I attended (about 10 in total) and also presented one lecture of my own, as well as being involved in a "Source and Imagination" panel discussion along with Camille Utterback, Shaun Hamontree of MK12, Dr. Woohoo, Jared Ficklin of Frog Design and Craig Swann (all of whom are outstandingly talented, kind, funny and generous people). For an illustrator who can harldy use Flash, and has had no concept until this weekend about anything to do with programming and coding, nor how to use algorithms and mathematics to inform one's artwork and/or design, I was wholly inspired. It makes me hopeful that my work has the potential to grow in a new direction. It was incredible to listen to these artists and designers explain the critical issues that they experience while in their studios working on their projects. I realized that regardless of whatever creative discipline we are in, we are still connected by the questions that we ask while we are making our work, by the mental and physical labour that we put forth, and by our wanting to express ourselves and to make manifest our vision and voice our point of view. I realized after attending this conference that I do love illustration... or more specifically I do love to draw. But sometimes working on so many commercial assignments diminishes that feeling somewhat. I become exhausted and confused from thinking so much, from working so much on such short deadlines, and so my pool of inspiration grows less and less. I sound ungrateful, I know, but I don't mean to be... Inspiration is something that I constantly seek out, and so when those moments hit, then I try to nurture them.