Incidentally, this guy golfs better than I do.
A few months ago I was hired by Denali Marketing out of Minneapolis to develop some rough comp art to help them pitch a Best Buy ad campaign.
Recently a brand new baseball stadium was built for the Minnesota Twins. Best Buy is a Minnesota-based company so the idea was to come up with a local print campaign to highlight Best Buy’s excitement over the new stadium. The folks at Denali pitched me a few ideas and I worked up some rough sketches to help sell the various concepts.
Here’s a sampling of the sketches I submitted:
Thanks to Mark Evanier for the link.
Last year I did some concept development work for an animated motion picture currently being developed in Hollywood. I was brought on board to help design some animal characters. The catch was that I had to try to match the style of another artist who had already done quite a bit of their visual development.
I did some sketches of an ostrich and a near-sighted rhino. Ultimately it was decided that I wasn’t quite capturing the look they were after and so we shook hands and parted ways. Oh well, you can’t win them all. But they were great people to work with, they paid me for my work, and we parted on good terms.
I can’t say too much about the project because as far as I know it is still in development. But I did retain the rights to my unused sketches and can show them to you. I posted some ostrich samples a while back. Today I came across some of the rhino drawings in my files and thought I would post them as well:
As a freelancer I spend long hours working in the quiet solitude of my studio. I’m always looking for something new and interesting to listen to in the background while I draw. My iTunes library gets a lot of heavy usage, as does my radio, podcasts, and audiobooks.
Recently I discovered a new resource to add to my list: The Archive of American Television.
This fascinating website is jam-packed with long, in-depth video interviews with dozens (maybe even hundreds) of the biggest names in American television both in front of and behind the camera. And when I say the interviews are long, I mean long. Many are several hours in length. And they are totally free.
I’m a bit of a movie and TV buff and I’m endlessly fascinated with what goes on in Hollywood. I’m not talking about the sleazy gossip–I couldn’t care less about most of that. I mean the creative process, especially in animation but also in live-action. How do scripts get written? How do TV shows and movies get made? What are the business decisions that guide a project? What are the obstacles that have to be overcome and the compromises that have to be made? What’s it like for the actors, directors, and writers to be creative in the high-stakes pressure cooker of Hollywood?
Over the last few days I’ve listened to lengthy interviews with greats such as Chuck Jones, Stephen J. Cannell (creator of “The Rockford Files”, “The A-Team”, and “The Greatest American Hero”), Norman Lear (creator of “All in the Family”, “The Jefferson”, “Good Times”, “Sanford & Son”, etc.), and Alan Alda (“M*A*S*H”). Other interviews I’ll be listening too soon include Joseph Barbera (of Hanna-Barbara), Roy. E. Disney, Bill Melendez (“Charlie Brown” animator), Ron Howard, Gary Marshall, Larry Gelbart, and many others.
There’s some salty language but overall the interviews are fascinating. You can browse by person, TV show, by profession, or by topic. You can watch just selected clips or entire interviews.
The Archive of American Television is a terrific resource for anyone interested in filmmaking.
A few months ago I was hired by the Trifecta BBQ sauce company to create an illustration for their new brand of BBQ sauce. It was a fun project which I blogged about showing the steps from intial concept to final artwork.
I’m an illustrator, not a graphic designer, so I did not do the full label design. I just created the artwork and then the Trifecta people hired someone else to design a label around it.
Here’s the final artwork I submitted:
The preliminary bottling has now begun, and earlier this week I received six bottles showcasing the new label design, hot off the assembly line. I’m told this is not the final design—they are going to make some minor changes—but I thought I’d post a quick photo anyway:
I can’t wait to slap some steaks on the grill and give this sauce a try! This is the perfect time of year for it too. Here in Minnesota the snow has only been gone for about a month, the leaves are sprouting on the trees, and there are no bugs….yet.
There’s also a Trifecta website in the works at trifectasauces.com. As of this writing its not live yet but it should be going live soon. If you enjoy a good BBQ it would be worth giving Trifecta a try.
Today (April 15) is the last day to get the early-bird discount on the Creative Freelancer Conference. Plus, if you take part in their Twitter promotion you’ll save an additional $25 off the registration price (even after today’s deadline, I believe). Details here.
Full disclosure: If you enter my Twitter name (“cedrichohnstadt”) when you register I’ll be in the running to win an free iPad. But I’m not expecting to win so I don’t want you to think that’s why I’m plugging the conference. I’m being completely sincere when I say the Creative Freelancer Conference is a *fantastic* resource and I would highly recommend it with or without my very slim chances of winning.
This will be the third annual conference. I attended the first two and each one has been one of the professional high points of my year. Even though I’ve been freelancing for thirteen years I still learned an awful lot from these conference that has helped me to be more professional and boost my income. In my case, I’ve learned enough ways to make more money through all the great seminars that each conference has easily paid for itself.
But its not just about the money. You’ll also learn a great deal about how to run your freelance career more like a business, which just makes life a little easier. At past conferences I’ve learned a lot about “scary” topics like networking, self-promotion, how to talk to clients about money, etc. The folks who put this conference together are top-drawer and really know their stuff.
I own a ton of books on freelancing but when am I ever going to have time to read an entire book? By carving out a couple of days in my schedule to get out of my studio and focus solely on learning about freelancing, surrounded by other creatives with the same goal, has been a terrific solution for me. Each year I’ve come back smarter and excited and ready to take my business to the next level.
Unfortunately most art schools don’t do a very good job of preparing their students for the business side of freelancing. I’ve certainly had to learn most of it on the fly. Fortunately this conference is custom-made for illustrators, designers, photographers, and other creative types who would rather be creative than do a business plan. You’ll learn how to make your skills profitable from other successful people who speak your same language.
The conference this year will be June 5-6 in Denver. It will be immediately followed by the HOW Design Conference so you can kill two birds with one stone if you are so inclined.
More info on the Creative Freelancer Conference here.
JellyTelly.com is a fun website project from Phil Vischer, creator of VeggieTales. He’s partnered with Focus on the Family to create online daily episodes combining animation, puppetry, and live action to present Biblical concepts to kids in fun and entertaining ways. Sort of like a Christian Sesame Street. It’s really fun stuff!
Much of the site’s content is populated by puppet characters. Recently Phil hired me to create a new monkey puppet for a bit he was working up for the show. He sent me some rough thumbnail doodles and photos of the two puppet characters the monkey would be interacting with. My job was to work up a final design for the puppet, one that would look good next to the other two puppets and feel like it came from the same “puppet world” that they inhabit.
I started with a round of rough thumbnails, playing with various shapes and proportions without deviating too far from the rough design I was given:
I don’t know when the episode will go live. When it does it will likely only be available to Jelly Telly subscribers. But if I can get permission I’ll post a screen shot or two.
Dan Haskett is an animation veteran and one of the top character designers in the business. He’s contributed to classic feature films including The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, The Prince of Egypt, Mulan, and Toy Story. Dan helped translate Matt Groening’s early sketches for The Simpsons into the look we know today and was rewarded with an Emmy for his work. He’s also worked on numerous commercials and created animated bits for Sesame Street.
I first met Dan Haskett at the Motion ’08 animation conference in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where he gave a fascinating presentation on designing ethnic characters (read my blog post about it here). After his presentation he was kind enough to review my portfolio. The following year I was invited back to the Motion conference as a speaker where I again had the chance to visit with Dan. He’s a brilliant and versatile artist, a likable guy with strong opinions that he shares in a soft-spoken and thoughtful manner.
In January 2010 Dan was kind enough to give me a phone interview from his desk at Warner Brothers where he is currently designing characters for two Scooby Doo projects. He shared some observations on the industry, offered some advice, and gave his thoughts on The Princess and the Frog from his perspective as an African American in the animation industry.