Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Is Art School Worth it?

In case you haven't seen my post over on Muddy Colors. I think this is an important issue to consider. There are also some great comments to read. Would love to hear your thoughts.

First off, I'm not downing formal education. I'm just asking if it's worth getting into $120 thousand dollars worth of debt not to mention the interest for four to six years of college. Especially in our current economic state.

So what does school offer us? Hopefully, teachers and peers who can assist in pushing us to be better than we are(ultimately we have to be our hardest critic). There's also access to facilities and opportunities to produce and experiment in. But these are really just opportunities the student can take advantage of not. You can't force someone to get better. It's a choice to pursue, a decision to push ourselves, to be on time with assignments, to stay after class to finish the still life or do extra reading etc. There's an intrinsic incentive for us to master the craft of our choice. We all know of self trained painters, illustrators, and musicians who are amazing at what they do.

Today we have more access to information than ever before. Let's list some:

- illustration tutorials on dvd that deal with technique process, business aspects etc
- illustration workshops like "Illustration Masters Class" where you may pay a fee for a professional ass kicking and intensely constructive experience.
- art books, the library is free
- video demos online( learned a lot about Photoshop from CMYKilla)
- all types of online art forums where one can get critical feedback from the art community of the world(take everything with a grain of salt}
- art blogs, personal and collective... I'd list some but I'm blanking out right now.
- attending conventions, lectures, and demos to observe, ask questions, and get feed back from professionals
- taking advantage of museums and galleries to view original works
- online classes such as "Schoolism"
- private internships
- You can also find the contact information of your favorite artist and ask some specific questions. I try to answer as many as I can fit into my schedule as well as email others for advice.

Thankfully, there are scholarships to help kids with paying for school. I could be wrong but I would assume the kids who get the scholarships are the same kids who are drawing and producing art even when they don't have to because they want to get better.

Even if you were interested in a Masters Program you could look up the list of professors that you would be learning from and read up on literature written by said professors.

My point is there is an abundance of information out there. You have the same options you have in art school. You can take it or leave it. The choice is yours. We all know people in school who didn't take the time to do the work. School is only as good as you make it. Going to the best art school doesn't make the best artist.

Is staying at home or even with some of your art buddies and learning/practicing via these alternative methods(the same methods artists use even after graduating college)as good as going to an art school? Maybe not. Maybe so and it's just a different learning experience minus the debt. Again, it depends on how much the individual is putting into mastering their craft. The art school environment is great and if art school wasn't so expensive I wouldn't be writing this blog post. Can you get educated for a lot less than it cost to attend art school? What are your personal school experiences/regrets? Would you do it differently if you could?

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

A Question About Rates...X Rated

Hi Eric,

My name is X and I'm a recent XXX grad working in X. We've met a couple times before and I was wondering if you might be able to answer a question for me. Since graduating I've mostly been doing work for various collectible card games and board games which tend to dictate up front just how much they're going to pay you. But I have a sci-fi publisher (XXX Books) asking how much I charge for cover work, and the question has thrown me off a bit. If you don't mind my asking, what do you charge for cover work? I'm certainly not looking to compare my work to yours, but I don't want to lowball myself or undercut the market either. In any case, any light you could shed on the subject would be extremely helpful. Thanks in advance and have a great day!


Professional Artist and Illustrator
123 X St., Apt X
X, X 43202

Hi X,

Publishers usually pay somewhere between $1500-4000 for a cover. Depending on how interested you are in the job, how much artistic freedom you get, how quick the turn around is, or how much exposure you'll get(is this a well known publisher?), you may feel inclined to charge more or be willing to do it for less. I'm usually willing to work with a lower budget if I get the opportunity to have some freedom and do a really strong piece for myself. Hopefully, you can do the good work and get paid top dollar.

An art director will usually give you the info when they inquire about your availability ie budget, deadline, size etc. If they don't give you any of the info don't be afraid to ask.

"Hi Art Dir X,
Thanks for contacting me. I'm looking forward to working with you on this project. Could you please provide the synopsis, deadline, size, and budget for this job?"

Something simple like that or however you want to address it. But getting the information is a must before signing on to a job. That way you can make the most informed decision.
Also, I would take the "Professional" out of your title. It is assumed that you are already a professional. You don't want it to look as if you're overcompensating for lack of work. I'm not sure you need to give your addy or phone # either unless asked. I like it nice and simple. Just my opinion. You should also make your website a live link so it's easy for anyone to just click on it as opposed to copying and pasting.

Hope that helps,


Any other tips? please post them:)

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Beginnings & Endings

Leading up to my recent show at LeBasse Projects I had been working around the clock to finish up the paintings. After coming back from LA it was straight to Altoona, Pa for Illux Con. And currently, I'm house/dog sitting in NY for a cousin of mine. I have been doing nothing for the passed few weeks but absorbing other peoples art; galleries in LA and NY, amazing work at Illux Con. Taking a lot of it in and letting it marinate.

Normally when I travel I bring all my supplies: fold up art desk, desk lamp, paints, palettes etc., and I work. These recent travels have been interesting, because I only brought pencil and paper. I wasn't even worried about art making really, mostly trying to get inspired for my next body of work. Exposing myself to as much as possible(in an artistic context). About two days ago I woke up thinking about my work and busted out ten sketches almost effortlessly. That never happens. I'm kind of excited about these so I thought I'd post a few of my early morning chicken scratches. The beginnings of what you may see fleshed out in the months to come. I'm also posting another beginning and the detail of an ending to recent previous months of work.

The next step from here. refine sketches, value/color studies, photo ref, transfer, paint. We'll see what happens.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

"Descent" Detail

This one is acrylic on canvas. Some pros to working on canvas. I don't have to worry about the surface buckling or flattening the piece when I'm finished. And I don't really have any size limitations. Attributes that take time to deal with. The surface of the paper(I'm thinking more gesso to tone down the surface) and painting more opaquely with acrylic is strange. It's lighter when it's wet and dries darker. So I'm constantly testing colors, letting it dry, readjusting my colors, testing it, letting it dry. Getting the perfect color can be a....not fun. I think the more I work on it the more proficient I'll become. I also still plan on playing with oils.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

"The Vanishing" detail

Here's a detail from a recent painting. I'll post up some more details from the others works soon. I'm trying to keep my blog posts here and on Muddy Colors separate so that they are both relevant and perhaps supplemental. If you haven't seen my Nov 12th post on MC yet it's a start to final process of this very image.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Wrapping Up

I'm putting the final touches on my last painting for the LeBasse Show next Sat Nov 6th. The most enjoyable part of the painting:) I'm really looking forward to having a little r&r while visiting Cali for the show. For once I'm not packing up all of my art supplies. Just my sketch book to work on new ideas.

Friday, October 29, 2010

First Post

Hi Everyone. I just wanted to redirect you to my first post on MuddyColors hope you enjoy... or at the very least don't hate it;)

Monday, October 25, 2010

Muddy Colors Blog

I'm participating in a artists collective blog called, you guessed it, Muddy Colors. It was Dan Dos Santos' idea to gather up an eclectic group of professionals in the field to give info, feedback, share progress shots, new work etc. It's a killer line up that I'm honored to be a part of. So check it out. Some cool posts are already up.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

What Motivates you to be an Artist?

Fame? Money?(ha!) Or maybe you just can't help yourself? The lecture addresses motivation in general. Being a successful artist, or doing anything well is touched on towards the end. A great listen while working on your art ...well, I liked it.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

A Question about paint

"Hey Eric,

I am a huge fan of your work! Your work is very inspirational and has
changed the way I look at illustration all together. I was wondering
if you could advise me in what certain brands of acrylic paint to use?
I've tried a lot of different kinds and I keep seeming to pick brands
that lose a lot of pigment and just look really flat when dry.
Anyways, if I could get your advice on the ordeal, that would be

Honestly, I haven't done a lot of experimenting comparing various brands of paints. I mostly use "Liquitex, Soft Body" acrylics. I think it started when I found out a favorite illustrator of mine ,JJP , used them. I've had success with "Golden" brand as well. I've even had success with student grade acrylics that I didn't want to waste. So to an extent I'm not sure how much of a difference they make. I doubt it would make or brake a painting. I have had friends buy and use pre-gessoed canvas boards and paint that should've been on permanently would be wiped off due to more brushwork. That may have been a cheap gesso problem. Not sure.

Back in the day when I was at CCAD I heard people tell of some "secret" pencil that Pete DeSeve would use to draw with. I just didn't get it. I doubt a secret pencil is the reason for the skill and creativity behind such an artist. I'm sure Pete would draw circles around most with a burnt stick.

I'm not sure if you mean "flat" as in the rendering of the piece or the surface of the paint. Painting thin leaves a piece with a matte finish similar to watercolors. A thicker application, as I've been painting recently gives a more glossy sheen. If surface is the problem, using a satin or glossy varnish at the end of your painting will unify the surface and give it the desired sheen.

It's hard to give advice on your problems without seeing the work. Color being relative, perhaps using more muted colors adjacent to your chromatic areas will be a way to help accentuate your color more. If you think of some of Chuck Close's paintings they are realistic at a distance. But up close they are blocks of color. Not unlike a monitor or tv screen. So placing the perfect color in the perfect spot is a major factor in a successful painting. Hope this helps.

Friday, October 8, 2010

A little process

I just posted a new painting video. So I thought I would go through and kinda breakdown what exactly is happening. Watch video here.

Materials- Acrylic, water, gessoed canvas, good lighting

Before we get started let's revisit the basic steps from start to finish.
-thumbnails(if working on a commissioned job this is where you would want to do your research for ideas)
-refined sketch
-value study, color study
-photo reference for some reason people always fight this.
-final drawing using ref
-paint, paint, paint

Goals in this vid:

The drawing is down and I just started applying some paint before recording. Right now I'm trying to stick with larger brushes so that I don't get sucked into doing detailed work too early which, as fun as that can be, really slows things down and then sometimes gets covered up when it's all said and done.

Using water I mix my paint to a "melted ice cream" consistency. This is thicker than when I work on paper and to be honest I'm still trying to adjust to it. I'm started out with lighter colors and slowly darkening as I go. I have two brushes. One I use to apply paint to a section and another to brush and feather out any streaks or inconsistencies. I try not to cover too large of a section because I don't want parts starting to dry before I can feather it out. So I brush feather brush feather and work around the canvas. You can do this in larger sections or using smaller brushes do more detailed feathering. Right now I'm doing general coloring and suggesting some contours but everything is pretty soft and feathered. I plan on tightening up closer to the end.

I started with a small bowl of warm parchment colored mix. After going over the surface where needed I mixed in some reddish and yellowish colors to slightly warm up and darken the mix and continued painting. Added some more reddish colors and repeat, slowly working in darker and darker. Dark is relative since the piece in it's essence will be a mid/high key piece. That's basically where I'm at with this painting.

I'm usually worried I'll losing my drawing. I'm trying to let go of that a bit and I think it's helping. I can still see suggestions of most of the line work through the paint. At the same time losing some edges give the piece a more spontaneousness that is appealing. At one point I did take the darkened mixture and reinforced some of the line work to ensure that I didn't lose it completely. So far so good.

tips- the right brush for the right job. If your painting a large area it helps to have a large ass brush. Size does matter...or at least can be very useful at times.

Also, the concept, composition, drawing are the foundation of your work. So to have great technique and a weak concept, composition etc will only go so far. So don't neglect these important factors when creating. Hope this is helpful.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Final peek

Actually finished this piece and shipped it and few others out to the gallery. Moved on to new work and trying speed things up. Gallery show about a month away...

Saturday, October 2, 2010


"Hi mate, I love this.
I have a technical question if you don't mind. What scanner do you use to scan the your artwork to computer? Coz I notice the you paint things in big format.Thx"

Previously I would use my 8x11" scanner which worked fine for most jobs. Piecing a few scans together started to be troublesome with the larger works. Eventually I knew I needed to upgrade to a large format scanner or a nice digital slr camera. I decided to get the new camera. I"m not the best photographer(understatement)so of course I had to do a little research on lighting art and what lens are good for what. After asking a few friends who used cameras to shoot reproductions of their artwork I went for the Canon 50D 15.1mp. I also had to invest in proper lighting equipment which can add up in cost. However, I don't feel limited by size and in the long run I know I'm saving tons of money by doing the repros myself. It's also nice to be able to help friends out with their own repros:)

I usually shoot work in two pieces and a quick photomerge in photoshop to piece it together gives a pretty flawless image.

Also, don't forget any equipment you buy for your art is a tax write off!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Progress shot for my upcoming LeBasse Show

Putting in a lot of hours lately and it feels good. Progress is still slow but the results I think are worth it. Liking this piece so far.

Thursday, September 9, 2010


I have some email questions that are starting to stack up. I'm going to try and take some time here and there to answer some on my blog. Hopefully, I can provide a little insight for anyone else dealing with these issues. Feel free to add your own tips that may have helped you in your journal to being a successful artist.

"I have a couple questions about the interesting life of being a freelance illustrator. I feel like I'm running like a chicken with it's head cut off, and not sure were to find work. I'm kind of grounded in the city right now, so commuting out of state for work is out the question. I figured you could give me a few pointers. Like what to look for when doing a freelance job search, and how to bypass a lot of BS and bogus jobs. I guess what I'm asking is what do I need to work on, who do I need to reach out to, and what are some of the key things in helping you find work. I mean besides an actual BOMB portfolio. Anything you can tell me I would greatly appreciate it."

What to look for when doing a freelance job search, and how to bypass a lot of BS and bogus jobs.
I would be wary of doing any work for a person who is hiring artists for their personal project ie children's book, graphic novels etc. They don't have a company’s budget to use as payment. Often it's their own personal savings and they expect a lot of work for a little money. A client should have a contract set up for freelance artists. If they don't it's a red flag. If you ask what their budget for a job is or what the deadline is and they don't know it's a red flag. A person who hires artists regularly should, at the very least know these things and have a contract to offer.

What I'm asking is what do I need to work on, who do I need to reach out to, and what are some of the key things in helping you find work. I mean besides an actual BOMB portfolio. Anything you can tell me I would greatly appreciate it.

What to work on: The number one thing that I notice about student level work is people are not taking their own good(“good” is the operative word here) photo reference and applying that to your sketches. This applies to just about everyone that was in my class and most aspiring artists that I meet. And for some reason everyone seems to fight it. Not sure why that is.

Finding work: Ugh, Welcome to the world of being a professional artist. There are no guarantees for work. A few things to consider. Not in any particular order
1. Networking. Staying in touch with people from school; teachers, classmates, artists from conventions etc. You emailed me so....check.
2. If you’re not working on freelance jobs you should be working on your portfolio. Even if you get to a point where freelance is pouring in they were never quite as fulfilling as personal work. This has helped me to grow as an artist and also get the work that I enjoy and resonates with my artistic needs.
3. It may help to pick out the top ten places you would like to work. Provide each with a nice customized portfolio package geared to reflect what you think they are looking for. You should also follow up with potential clients. If you only have 15 quality pieces in your portfolio think about sending eight now and seven or eight in a month or so. So you don’t give out all your goods at the same time. AD’s get flooded with work so it’s good to remind them you’re still around as often as possible.
4. Promote yourself consistently. This helps if you have new work to promote with. See #2
5. Competitions, Conventions. Gallery shows, Meeting local art directors etc.
6. If you have a group of talented friends consider forming an art collective where work and money is divided to make promoting the group as a whole a bit easier.
7. Note, all the promoting in the world will do little if the work is subpar, mediocre, or just good. Good isn’t good enough. This probably should've been #1.

Here’s what I came up with off the top of my head. Hope this helps.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Nov Show LeBasse Projects

Wrapping up one piece and on to the next one. Feels great to have one down. But I think I'm going to do a little more jumping around from piece to piece to try and keep work fresh...not always an easy task.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Choose a painting

Hi All,

I'm considering putting out a new limited edition print. But I first want to try and get some feedback on which image you would like to see printed. So here I've listed some recent and older works. And I've numbered them to make things easier, just comment with a number.

Thanks for your time and help

Monday, August 9, 2010

Moving forward

Here's what I've been painting on for the last several days. I always want to skip out on the color comp but it really does help to move things faster if I know exactly how dark or saturated an area of the painting is going to be. It also allows you to preview and adjust the juxtaposition of colors and get all the mistakes out of the way without compromising your final panting. Plus the digital comp moves fairly quickly and definitely saves time in the long run. Esp. since a friend of mine gave me his old wacom tablet. It's a nice improvement from the mouse:)

Some people feel that there's no room for spontaneity when you use photo ref or have all your color/value comps. However, I always seem to have plenty of opportunities for spontaneous goodness:) My name is Eric....and I use color comps.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

more wip

Put the painting down to flatten the piece. It helps to do this every now and then if the paper starts to buckle from the washes. It's just nicer to work on a flat surface. So I switched it up today and spent time fixing up this final drawing for another piece. Feels good to take a break from the other piece for a day and to work on something new. But tomorrow I paint.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010


Here's a detail work in progress of one of my new works on paper.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Fantasy+ 3 Best Hand Painted Illustrations Feature

Got a nice surprise in the mail the other day. This is a beautiful looking book with great interviews and tons of cool art. For more info on this book go to http://www.cypi.net/

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Great News! Chesley Nominations

I've been nominated for 2 Chesley Awards. ”Best Color Work: Unpublished” & ”Best Monochrome Work: Unpublished” As you may know, the Chesley, named in honor of Chesley Bonestell, is the only science fiction/fantasy art award voted on by the artists themselves. I don't want to count my eggs before they hatch but I will keep my fingers crossed. Regardless this is quite an honor. Thank You and Congrats to all.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

LeBass Projects in Oct

Busting anus on some new works for my next show at LeBasse Projects. Once I get that cleaned up I'll start working on some art....BadaBoom. On a more serious note. I am working on several new paintings. Since that last canvas turned out half way decent( I liked it) I'll be revisiting that as well as some new works on paper. Scaling up a bit on the newer paintings and I'm excited to get started.

However, getting all the preliminary stuff out of the way has been tedious. But all the work is just about ready for some color. All the little things are just about taken care of and I'm feeling a little momentum. I also discovered 5hour Energy Drink....not sure if that's good or bad. Everything in moderation right?

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Columbus College of Art & Design

Last semester I taught my first class. I was anxious and awkward and one can always improve. However, I hope the students were able to take something beneficial from the class to help them along their way to a career in art. Overall, it was a great learning experience(at least for me;) If I had to break it down I would say work really hard at your art and promote yourself. There's a saying I heard when I was in school that went something like "We all have a thousand shitty drawings inside each one of us. The sooner we get those shitty drawings out of the way the sooner we can make drawings that are the shit" I may have switched it up a bit but hopefully you get the point.

Here are some finals from a few of my students

Monday, July 5, 2010

Opening this Friday, July 9th at Roq La Rue

I'll be showing next to Glenn Barr this Friday at Roq La Rue in Seattle.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Fun with Spontaneity..

Applying the information from my photo ref to my sketched out figures can be difficult at times. However, there are certain areas where I can just make things up as shown here. Ultimately, I want develop a cohesive blend of realism with my natural sense of stylization in the finish.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

"Exquisite Departure" Progression

This painting is different from most of my others in a few ways. It's rather large compared to earlier pieces. And it's on canvas. While experimenting with acrylic on canvas I discovered that I rather like it. There's a granulation effect that is similar to working on paper. Another nice thing is that the acrylic doesn't soak into the canvas as quickly and I can move it around a bit more before it starts to dry. And at the end I don't have to worry about flattening the painting. On the downside I'm not sure I'd want to do a small painting on canvas because the texture may become too distracting. Also, stretching and gessoing a canvas are a real pain in the ass(hands). However, I'll continue experimenting with canvas and we'll see what happens.

Another note. I did my final drawing with photo reference on paper at a small scale. Then transferred that with a projector. It seemed to make sense that I would want to work out my details before hand and prevent large mistakes on a large scale. Who knows, perhaps transferring a rough sketch like I normally do and doing the final drawing on canvas would've been fine. Maybe next time.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

"Exquisite Departure"

Roq La Rue Opening with Glenn Barr is now July 9th in Seattle. Here's one of the three pieces that will be showcased. This one has been a difficult piece for me to finish. But I think I did my best and it feels good to have it finished and shipped out.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Monday, May 31, 2010

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Starting to have some fun with this one:)

Monday, May 17, 2010

Bliss Mag

Received a nice surprise in the mail today. Interviewed in the current issue of Bliss Mag Thanks Liz!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010


Raining today. Something nice about staying in and painting while it rains:)

Monday, May 10, 2010

Getting Started

Sketch, value/color study, reference, and working on final drawing.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

A Want to Believe

Thanks to everyone who purchased a print!

Monday, May 3, 2010


Just posted this piece on my site finally. It needed a little touching up(legal in Ohio with consent) before taking final reproductions. Currently working on paintings for Roq La Rue's mini show in June..paintpaintpaint

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


Another piece on canvas. I was going to do this in oil so I started an acrylic under painting but I'm liking the way it's going I think I'm going to continue with this in acrylic and maybe save oils for more towards the end of the painting. This is a difficult piece for me to work on but I've had a good day painting over all.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Friday, April 2, 2010

New Video

Here's a new piece I'm Working on. Just getting started but I'm going to try and stay on top of it. Lots to do...

See vid here

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Monday, March 22, 2010

Moon Rising Detail

I just put the finished piece in it's entirety on my site here.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Buckling Paper?

"Hi Eric!

First up I absolutely love your work and I'm having one hell of a
great time painting with gouache and acrylics on watercolour paper
thanks to your example. I was wondering how ever how you dealt/prevent
the paper from buckling? I know the whole chore of stretching paper
but I was wondering what you specifically do.

Thank you for the inspiration!

ps you're also the most handsomest, nicest guy ever. Seriously, extremely handsome"

Ahhh, he knows me so well. It's almost as if I tacked that last part on myself ;)

Some people stretch their wc paper. I don't. The main reason I don't stretch mine is because when I have it framed I like to show the natural deckled edge of the paper. And stretching the paper eats into the workable area which wouldn't allow me to use the entire surface of a full sheet of wc paper.

Things to try:
- try a heavier stock. The 300lb paper buckles a lot less than the 140lb. Esp on a smaller scale. ie 8x11" vs 22x30"

- It's inevitable that the paper will warp and buckle a bit with aquious mediums. If my paper is buckling enough that it's affecting my application in an undesirable manner I'll usually spray the piece with some water until it starts to relax a bit. Sometimes on the front and the back if it's being very stubborn. Afterwards, I sandwich the painting between two pieces of matte board. Then I sandwich that between two pieces of plywood. Put on a few of the 75lb dumbbells that I normally do curls with and let that flatten for a day or so. When I take the painting out I immediately hang it by a bullclip to let the piece dry out completely from both sides. If you don't do this the paper will curl up on the side facing up. I assume that's because the top is drying faster than the back(facing down and not getting any air) therefore curling forward. I hope this makes sense. I could totally be wrong. But I let it hang in the air for at least twenty min or so. It should be pretty flat. Then it's ready to work on. This is the same process I do at the end of every painting to flatten the work before framing.

-Keep in mind I'm using acrylic. And once it dries it's permanent. So I don't have to worry about it bleeding or getting muddy. If I were using just watercolor or guache. Something that isn't permanent I'd probably do the same process except that I'd only wet the back of the painting before flattening.

Hope that helps. If I missed something let me know and I'll try my best to address it.

Thanks for the great question!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010


Here's another shot of an oil painting I'm working on. I leave today for CA. Yay! But I have bring my paints to finish this up for the show. Booooo!;) All good, I had a breakthrough today with the piece and I look forward to the show. If you're in the LA Area shoot through and give me a holla:) Copro Nason Gallery this Sat

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Spectrum Gold Medal :)

I just found out that.....Kanye, let go of my award!!! Huge Thanks to everyone at Spectrum for all the hard work they do every year. This is such an honor.

Watch Vid Here