Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Curating your work, Part II, by Mike Ciccotello

Last time I wrote, we spoke about curating your work for a website. Now I’d like to share my experience of curating work for social media, specifically, I want to tell you about my Instagram experience. 

At the NJ SCBWI summer conference, I met two art directors, Maria Middleton, Random House, and David Dewitt, Little Bee. Both art directors said they have searched for new talent on Instagram. If you are an illustrator looking for work, that little bit of information should make you think about having an Instagram account.

Here's a preview of my Instagram feed.
If you are an Instagram user, you know that you can search users, tags, popular stuff, not so popular stuff, it’s endless. You can view new images people have posted when you click your home button, or you can swipe right and view what people you follow are liking. It’s visual. It’s cool. And like most social media, it can eat hours of your day if you’re not careful.

The thing that sets Instagram apart, in my opinion, is Instagram offers a unique visual experience, The 9 Image Grid. When you view a users feed, within the Instagram app on a smartphone, you can see 9 square images, 3 across and 3 down. Typically, a user will post one image per square that doesn’t necessarily relate to the other images. A dinner plate, an adorable dog, pictures of kids… you get the point.

Now, what if we played with that space? What if we pushed the boundaries? Instagram is always 3 images across with a portrait orientation. So, what if you take a 3x1, long horizontal image, cropped it to 3 squares, and post each square image separately? What if we took it a step further and cut up a 3x2 image or a 3x3 image? I once posted a 12x3 image… that’s 36 square images. 


I have seen photographers use this technique and thought it might be interesting to try. I wanted the whole feed to flow from one group to the next. 

I have been influenced by this idea of an “infinite canvas” many years ago when I met Scott McCloud at NY ComicCon.  Years after that conversation, I saw this amazing comic by XKCD, titled, Click and Drag.

I understand Instagram doesn’t scroll left or right, and every feed has a starting point. But being able to infinitely add imagery is pretty cool. I tried it out and kept up with it for a while. I posted Monday through Friday, at least 3 images a day. I had to take a little break due to deadlines etc., but I’ll be back to posting just in time for INKtober.

Once you start posting in a format like this, you need to always post in 3’s, to keep everything in order. If you only post one image, it throws the feed out of wack and the images won’t line up until you post a third image. 

I didn't invent this, I just put my own spin on it. Look at Dave Pilkey's Instagram feed. He’s shifted away from it a bit, but if you scroll down his feed, you can see ways he has played with the space. 

Consider the images you post and what they look like as a group, rather than an individual piece. Each post could be an individual piece, but maybe there's an overall color pattern you could follow, or textural element. How would you use this space to curate your day-to-day art gallery?
TIPS: 
  • Plan your grid of images ahead of time. 
  • Look into tools like Tail Wind or Instagrid. 
  • Use photoshop with a grid overlay to see what goes where.
  • Post the last image first and keep working backwards.
  • Always post three images at a time.
If you have questions, please feel free to comment.

Thanks for reading! Follow me on Instagram ( @ciccotello) to see my upcoming INKtober posts and how everything evolves. I’ll be speaking at Johnson & Johnson Corporate HQ next week talking about my current show, Wishes and Daydreams. If you or someone you know works for Johnson & Johnson, stop by the show and send me a message. I’d love to hear from you.




Represented by Rachel Orr
For more info contact 
rko(a)prospectagency.com

Twitter: @ciccotello 
Instagram: @ciccotello 


Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Drawing Process by Barbara DiLorenzo

This blog has been such a great outlet for sharing thoughts on the field of children's literature. I'm grateful for my fellow bloggers on Drawn to Picture Books that keep the focus on the process of drawing. I can tend to shift to politics–especially in this charged atmosphere. But although I had prepared an entire piece on comparing and contrasting what happened in Charlottesville, VA with the protection of art in WWII Florence, Italy–I realize this audience is smart enough to know the difference. These thoughts belong on a different blog–and perhaps I'll post that essay on www.renatoandthelion.com. 

Getting back to the nuts and bolts of picture book making, I've chosen to share the drawing steps for a new piece. I am fascinated by restaurants and the people that work behind the scenes. So I've been noodling (ha!) with a book dummy on the subject for some time. The Society of Illustrators has a Members Open show this fall with the topic of food–so I'm using this as an excuse to create a final piece to go with the book dummy. 

The first version of the dummy had a penguin and a polar bear. I don't have a concrete reason for picking the polar bear other than I doodled a chef polar bear with a penguin overlooking at an SCBWI conference many years ago. I know, I know. North and South pole creatures don't meet naturally. I had a back story to explain this in the first version. But despite loving the characters, I realized this was forced. I still think the characters should be animals because children can't open and run a restaurant–but anthropomorphic bears and penguins can and still be relatable to kids. 


The polar bear, paired with penguins, started to look more racially specific than I wanted. And since the polar bear was the one in the know, teaching the penguin what it takes to open and run the restaurant, I wasn't happy with the unintended message. I could use a Grizzly or Kodiak bear instead, but there are so many sweet brown bear characters already out there. And there's the geography question. So I did some research, and discovered that Le Cordon Bleu, the premiere French cooking school, has a location in Peru, in South America. Perfect! I lived in neighboring Bolivia for 6 months, so I am familiar with the cuisine–and penguins live in Peru! So I started to sketch the most ubiquitous animal in that region–the llama! I remember being on a bus from La Paz to Tarija, and watching llamas running outside in the countryside. They looked so funny with their silly oversized ears bouncing as they ran. Definitely a fun character–though I defer to Anna Dewdney's LLAMA, LLAMA series as the best version of a llama in children's literature. 

I also decided that though the penguins could remain, the main penguin needed to be swapped with another character. So I sketched a goat. Soon their personalities started to emerge in the sketches. 




After sketching quick then detailed versions of the goat and the llama, I had an idea of where the story would go. So with the opportunity to do a finished piece, I looked through and decided to combine these two sketches. One included the polar bear, now just a line cook–and penguins as both servers and chefs. But the main characters are now the goat and llama. 


I combined the sketches in PhotoShop, moving elements around and creating a more interesting composition. As I write this though, I see I still have a change to make. The goat looks more interesting facing the original direction.

Although I'll go back and tweak the goat's position, this is the version I sketched on watercolor paper. I'll now use this as a color study. I'll be sure to post the next steps in an upcoming post. Stay tuned! 
And if you have any feedback, I'm happy to hear it. 



by Barbara DiLorenzo
Now booking author visits for 2017-2018!

Barbara is represented by Rachel Orr of the Prospect Agency.
Twitter: @wavepaint
Facebook: @BarbaraWillcoxDiLorenzo
www.barbaradilorenzo.com