Archive for May, 2008

Great at One or Good at Many?

Friday, May 23rd, 2008

My 27th birthday came and went last week. To be honest, I sometimes forget exactly how old I am. If asked, I will undoubtedly pause and think about it. And then Josh will correct me when I guess wrong. (In my defense, I’m usually only a year off. They all started to blend together after 23.)

Anyway. I’ve been struggling for a couple months now with my various activities — Design, Illustration, and Writing — and how they affect my life and balance with one another. And there’s a battle going on.

Design will always be Priority #1. It’s not only my bread and butter, but I lurve it. I love creating visual solutions, and drooling over other people’s work. Package design, a good logo, a beautifully integrated illustration or an amazing commercial… it all makes me warm and fuzzy inside. There are so many wonderful ways to conquer the same problem — that is, communicate a message in a unique and memorable way — and I haven’t found them all yet. There’s nothing else I’d rather spend 40 - 60 hours a week doing. Illustration is that back-burner love that has fallen back into my lap, which is lovely. And writing is something I’ve been doing for years, and I’m only recently feeling ready to explore the professional end of it.

This is where my conflict lies. I have three things that I love to do, and so I divide my time amongst those three occupations. I understand the idea of wearing many different hats, and I’ve been juggling all three competently enough. But does splitting my time between those three somehow rob one of them of the potential to be the best it can be?

For example: if I’m never published, will it be because I didn’t give writing the due concentration it needed?

I never want to stop pushing myself, and I love them all. But I have to wonder if I’m sacrificing the quality of one to pursue the others. So what matters most here? Quality? Or quantity? I would usually say quality… but when the quantity is improving the quality of life as a whole… where does that leave things?


This is heavy thought for a beautiful Friday. Let’s have a donut.

Killah Bee

Thursday, May 15th, 2008


Speaking of Illustration - Jacob Thomas

Monday, May 12th, 2008

Pittsburgh Society of Illustrators is presenting four lectures this year called “Speaking of Illustration” to showcase nationally and internationally recognized illustrators. The first was on Saturday night and featured Jacob Thomas, an Art Institute of Pittsburgh alumnus living in New York as a professional freelancer.


He grew up in a small town, joined the Coast Guard for a while, went to art school and then (successfully!) made The Move to New York city where he spends his days making a living doing illustrations. He’s relatively young — as in, freshly into his thirties — and he has done so much in his years since leaving the Art Institute. His clients have included The New Yorker, Bath and Body Works, AIG, Forbes Magazine, Esquire, The Art Institute of Pittsburgh, Wall Street Journal, Vibe Magazine, ESPN Magazine… and more. His work has been recognized by NY Society of Illustrators, CA Illustration Annual #46 Cover, CA Fresh Section, American Illustration, HOW International Design Annual, Print’s Regional Design Annual, and Semi-Permanent.

So yeah, he’s got it — how do the kids say it? — going on.


It’s one thing to read about people that succeed in their fields; it’s another thing entirely to hear them speak about it in person… with a slideshow, no less. Thomas was casual, funny and came across as very approachable. His style is fun and fresh, with strong inking and vivid colors that smack you in the face (in a good way). There’s also a surprising amount of motion to each piece, which I find fascinating, and a yummy gritty quality that makes them more real.


As robust as his career has been so far, he was clear at the end of the presentation that his journey has taken a lot of hard work. He showed an abbreviated version of his process, a painstaking combination of hand drawn artwork and computer work. Plus, in the wake of many rejections over the years, he’s just kept trying which should be a lesson to everybody. I certainly saved it somewhere in my brain, and plan to pull it out when I get my next 20 rejection letters. In fact, I wrote “TENACITY” on a piece of 17×11 paper and hung it in my studio when I got home.


And, seriously: I thought I was goal-oriented, but this guy puts me to shame. He is a To-Do-List Master. Coast Guard in Hawaii? Check. Art school? Check. Professional New York Illustrator? Chickity-Check.

I originally moved to Pittsburgh to attend the Art Institute in the hopes of becoming an illustrator. Between you and me, I only took Graphic Design because it had two Illustration electives. Not one of the smartest decisions to base my education on, but thank goodness it all worked out. I found my illustration class to be lacking, although not because of the teacher: my brain just wasn’t ready for it yet. Around the same time, I broke out of my blood-feud with computers and fell in love with design. Six years later, I find myself full circle, designing for a living and doing illustrations on the side.

Sooo… semi-professional Pittsburgh illustrator? Check-ish. I’ll take it.

This was a great event. PSI plans to do three more of these, and I hope I’ll be able to make them all. It was insightful, interesting and the inspirational jolt I’ve been looking for since finishing my novel. It got me excited to create again. And I’ll definitely be on the lookout for more of Thomas’s work.

*All of the images in this post are Thomas’s. I don’t know the legality of posting them here, but I’m happy to remove if I’m contacted to do so.

And: Scene!

Thursday, May 1st, 2008


I wrapped up the last part of David’s sequel at around 3 am this morning. It’s been a tough few weeks, but I’m feeling good about the finished product. I’m also exhausted, since I’ve been putting in 8 - 10 hours of my day job and then heading straight to the coffee shop to write for another 5 - 6 hours. But I hit the May 1st mark, so yay me. I’m excited, but also POOPED.

At one point I typed “understanded” and was filled with a millisecond of rage when Word’s spellchecker put a little red squiggly line under it. I thought, “What the hell? What’s wrong now? That’s how you spell it!”*

Here’s some yummy facts to chew on while I recover.**

The current manuscript is 150 pages long.

That’s approximately 72,000 words, nearly 40,000 of which were written in the last four weeks. It will undoubtedly expand and contract when I begin editing.

In my brain it is simply “David’s sequel”. In my laptop, it is called “SoD BK2 v01″. I’ll come up with a better title eventually. Hopefully.

It’s my fifth novel and the second of a planned trilogy.

The above illustration is a rendition of me late last night/early this morning. I was feeling loopy and absolutely inundated with LETTERS. So that’s me… feeling loopy… made out of letters. Merry Christmas. Zzzz…

*That is so not how you spell it. Or conjugate it. Or whatever.

**This recovery will absolutely involve alcohol. And probably a nap.