Wednesday, May 18, 2016

The Beauty of Deadlines - by Diana Ting Delosh

I'm always amazed at what I can accomplish with a deadline breathing down my neck. It doesn't matter if the deadline is a sale for a postcard printing, submission window, conference or a commission. The hard deadline forces me to find my zen mode, banish distractions, make decisions and finish. It forces me to produce.
Meditating Lady - © Diana Ting Delosh Ink, Watercolor, Digital

Currently I'm in the throes of prepping for the upcoming SCBWI NJ June Conference. I've got about 2 weeks+ to get things done on my list. As usual the list starts out ambitious and very long. Now that time is running out, the list is getting pared down. Rather than a portfolio of totally New Art it's down to new pieces judiciously mixed in with older pieces and picture book dummies are getting their final tweaks. The deadline forces me to get my butt in chair and not get up until that illustration is painted.  
Postcard Front: Odion Skunk - © Diana Ting Delosh,
cover art from my Skunk story PB Dummy.
I had actually picked this as a possibility for the Postcard weeks ago
- was just holding out for future illo.

Monday night, just hours before the 40% OFF Sale at Vistaprint ended at 11:59 pm PT, it was suddenly crystal clear, what illustrations to pick, card size and how many to order. All of which I was fuzzy on until 11:49 pm ET.
Postcard Back: Boy Meets Octopus - © Diana Ting Delosh
This illo was inked, painted, scanned & PSed the day I  uploaded the design
that morning, I decided my Conference Postcard
must have a kid on it and not more animals. So I just had to give it a go.
It is after all a conference  for the KID Lit & Art set.

No a deadline won't help you make the best choices but it forces you to make a choice. Sometimes that's the difference between finishing and still working on it. Trust me, finishing things feels very, very good. I keep an annual list of my finished work.

The beauty of a deadline is that it breaks you free of the endless revision cycle. The one that you got lost in when you decided to try your best not to send out crap. Of course you should always do your best but at some point you have to draw a line and say this is the very best I have right now and show, submit, whatever. If it's a personal project, you can always toss, redo and revise later... again and again.

Grab the caffeine and eye drops. Show angst and self-doubt the door. Time to go into hyper-speed and make that deadline.

twitter: @dtdelosh

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Risk and Style...Keeping It Real - by Deborah Cuneo

"Talking" / Ransom Gallery Show / Brooklyn NY  - Acrylic and colored Pencil

1. exposure to the chance of injury or loss; a hazard or dangerous chance
   At any gathering of  visual creatives, the topic of style usually comes up, with the main question being whether or not an artist should change their style  during the course of their career. I've heard so many opinions on the subject  from both sides of the desk (so to speak) and everyone seems to have a valid reason for or against.

"Discouraged" - Pencil Sketch

   Deciding to change it up was not a decision I took lightly. It would mean abandoning what I knew,  what was warm and cozy and familiar for so many years, but it came down to one major factor...I wasn't getting the employment results I was looking for using my older style.

   I was also starting to let  my internal feelings of discouragement get to me, to where even it was starting to come out in my art. It became a business decision.  It would be a huge, scary risk to change my style, but I didn't anticipate any injury  or imminent danger resulting from the intended change. Other than it possibly not being well received and having to figure what direction to go then, there was really no reason not to I did.

First Step - B/W Promo - Digital and Pencil

First Step - Color Promo - Digital and Pencil

I suppose I could have continued in baby steps,  but to go down that path meant the evolution would be dragged out...and why?  So I could delay the inevitable for another day, a month? How many more years would I be willing to sacrifice to being in artistic limbo, just so I could remain creatively cozy and comfortable in my little box that I literally painted myself into all these years? 

   The answer...none. And, It was already clear ( to me, anyway) that anything I produced that was remotely similar to my old style, would  most likely get the same results. I had to make this change count, it was the only way I was really going to be able to move toward the result I wanted. So, I put my fear aside and just jumped right in. 

Jump! - Digital and Pencil

  I tried something completely out of my comfort zone. I felt that in order to make this work, I had to stretch myself to the point of being creatively uncomfortable and bring myself to a place where I couldn't predict or control the outcome, because in that dark, scary unknown, is where all the wonderful, creative possibilities are!! 

"Little Dragon" Sky Pony Press/Color Sample - Mixed Media

A lot of this new style is tied up in the book I'm still working on, but I will be showing some of the new work at the NJ SCBWI  June conference and then updating my website shortly after that. Will my professional risk have been worth it?... I don't know.  Will  I crash and burn?...maybe. Could I end up totally flopping on my face...I suppose... but,  it could also work out really well too!  I can't predict or control the result, only put myself out there and commit to do my very best, while continuing on my newest artventure! 

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

The Journey - by Jason Kirschner

If you know me, have heard of me, follow me on social media or just exist in a realm that picks up on my psychic vibrations, you may have heard that I wrote and illustrated a book that officially launches next week but is (surprise! surprise!) on shelves everywhere as we speak.  I have not been at all shy about this.  In fact, if I could sing, I’d have fellow D2PB’er Mike Ciccotello play jazz piano while I crooned about it.  It is, with very few exceptions, one of the things I am proudest of.
Photo Credit: Barbara DiLorenzo
I went into a bookstore with my wife this past Friday and saw the book on a shelf “in the wild” for the first time.  As I posed for a few selfies with my book, I reflected back on my journey so far with Mr. Particular.  And make no mistake —it is a journey.  I hope Mr. Particular and I have further to go together, but we’ve also come along way.

It’s my thinking that this journey, this campaign to get published for the first time,  is a series of successes.  There are the bigger achievements — winning awards, signing with an agent, selling your first book, your first good review.  Those are the ones you celebrate, the ones you savor and clink glasses over. 

Most successes, however, are small — teeny.  I’m not even sure you notice all of them as you go along.  A few might only be recognizable in hindsight.  You have to think hard to remember a positive portfolio review, or when yet another zany book idea woke you at 3 a.m.  It’s easy to forget the morning you nail down a plot point that’s been escaping you or the evening a slight change in your color palette makes everything mesh the way it should.  Goodness knows that the small text revision you made yesterday changed it all, but no one hung streamers when it happened. Rest assured, it’s still an achievement.

Post sale, there are more small tiny wins.  You might get the perfect person to write your back cover blurb or a mention on the right blog. It’s a win when you see proofs that prove you’ve finally got the colors right. And although you may not mark the day in your calendar, I promise your heart will swell, just a little, when you see your name on the spine of that book for the first time.  There are F&Gs to pass around and marketing campaigns to launch and promotions to be completed. And then you walk into a bookstore and there it is…on a shelf. And a kid picks it up and starts to read it and you feel like the journey led somewhere worthwhile.

(Then of course you have to ask the kid to put the book back on the shelf so you can take a picture with it. “It’ll just take a second kid.”)

I’m sure everybody’s first book experience is different, but no matter what path they took, I promise it was made up of  little victories.  All those little wins count too. They're all part of it.  And what that means is, even if you're not published (yet), you’re already on your way.  Try to remember that the little wins aren’t really so little.  Its a journey.

This is the print. Fun right?
Jason Kirschner is the author and illustrator of Mr. Particular: The World's Choosiest Champion from Sterling which you can now find on shelves in bookstores everywhere. Get your own copy by clicking here and see more of Jason's work at

ONE MORE THING-- Send me your selfie of Mr. Particular or post it on Facebook or Twitter and tag me and I'll enter you in a contest to win a signed 8"x10" print of our titular hero!  I'll pick 5 winners on May 27t

Facebook:  Jason Kirschner 
Twitter: @jason_kirschner
 Instagram: @jkirsch118