Website Updates + New “Comp Art” Portfolio

Last night I made several updates to my website,  My website is over five years old now (which equals about fifty internet years) and badly needs a face lift to optimize it for the web 2.0 world. Until I can tackle that mammoth project I’m continuing to turn the crank on this trusty-rusty version.

The latest changes include:

  • Added a new section called “Comp Art” to showcase advertising marker comps I’ve done recently for end clients such as Best Buy, Target, Walmart, and Chef Boyardee.
  • Added 1 new sample to my “Illustration” page (bottom row center).
  • Added 1 new sample to my “Toy Design” page (bottom row, left corner).
  • Added 3 new samples to my “Courtroom Sketching” page (top row) from a court hearing I recently drew for ABC News out of New York.
  • The Facebook link on my Contact page now connects to my business Fan Page instead of my personal Facebook page. From now on I’ll be posting all of my freelancing update on the Fan Page and using the personal page mainly for the non-work related areas of my life. You are welcome to follow me on both, or if you’d rather unfriend me on my personal page and just follow the fan page that’s fine too.

Stay tuned for more updates, including newly updated PDF portfolios to download, updates to my mobile site, and more.


This and That

A few tidbits from around the internet:

Reference for Animators — A few good clips here.

Open Letters – Thomas James has some thoughts on the general lack of business and freelance training in many art schools. He wrote an Open Letter To Art Schools Everywhere and followed it up with an Open Letter To Art Students Everywhere.

Tribute to Milt Kahl – A neat collection of video clips taken from a recent tribute to legendary animator Milt Kahl. Some funny stories and insights about the master draftsman.

Leveraging Social Media As A Creative – A helpful article with strategies for getting more out of your online presence.

Sorry About The Multiple Posts

My last blog post was published to my RSS feed about a jillion times and then forwarded to my Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn accounts where it also published itself over and over. My apologies. I’m experimenting with a new way to manage all my accounts under one app ( and apparently I’ve got some bugs to work out.

I’ll be publishing some test posts until I get it all figured out. I know how annoying it can be to see all those multiple posts so I’m grateful for your patience.

Courtroom Sketches For ABC News

This past spring I was hired by ABC News out of New York to do courtroom sketching for a big trial they were covering here in Minneapolis. It’s a fascinating story:

In 1980 a young man named Ming Sen Shiue kidnapped his former teacher, Mary Stauffer, and her 8-year-old daughter Beth. A 6-year-old boy, Jason Wilkman, witnessed the kidnapping so Shiue murdered him and left his body to rot in the woods. Then he locked Mary and Beth in a closet in his suburban home where he kept them as prisoners for seven weeks. During that time Shiue raped Mary almost every night, often videotaping the rapes.

Eventually Mary and Beth escaped and Shiue was arrested. At his trial Shiue smuggled a knife into the courtroom. While Mary was on the witness stand he attacked her and slashed her face. He also swore that if he ever got out of prison he would come after Mary, and if she was dead he would go after her children.

Shiue was sentenced to thirty years in prison for his crimes. Thirty years have now passed. So a hearing was held to determine what should be done with Shiue. Should he be put back in prison? Locked away in a treatment facility? Or be set free?

Shiue is now an old man with gray hair. He needs crutches to walk. He says he regrets his former actions and wishes no harm on the Stauffers. Yet during his thirty years in prison he made almost no effort to get serious treatment or to seek professional help, and the Stauffers are understandably afraid for themselves and for their families.

Mary Stauffer and her husband are life-long missionaries. She credits God with helping them to get through their ordeal and for helping her family to find healing. They have forgiven Shiue for what he did to them. Nevertheless they are convinced he should not be released back into society. The risk of him doing further harm is too great.

The ABC news series “20/20” decided the story would make a good segment for their program. The network people in New York saw a photo on (taken by Richard Sennott) of me sketching for another recent trial. They liked my work and hired me to do a day of sketching for them at this hearing.

Ming Shiue waits for the hearing to start.

Ming Shiue is questioned by the prosecution.

The Stauffer family listens to the proceedings.

Beth Stauffer tells the courtroom why she believes Shiue should not be freed.

I worked out a deal with ABC allowing me to also sell the drawings to the local media. The sketches aired on several local news stations and even made the front page of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.

Unlike the local news outlets, 20/20 wasn’t in a giant rush to use the sketches so I was able to go back into my studio and touch them up—a luxury courtroom sketching normally doesn’t allow. In the courtroom you have to sketch extremely fast so that you can rush the drawings out the waiting news truck as soon as they are finished. I didn’t really nail the likenesses in my first sketch of the family so it was nice to be able to go back in my studio and use my Cintiq to draw a new, improved version.

My contact at ABC told me that the “20/20” story would probably air in June. I’ve been watching the 20/20 website and recording every episode hoping to see my sketches. Today I learned that, to my surprise, it already has aired—not on 20/20 but on a different ABC News series called “Primetime”. Apparently ABC decided that “Primetime” was a better place for the story and ran it this past Tuesday (June 22). I just missed it! That’s OK I guess. I know that producing an hour-long news story takes a lot of work and the people at ABC are very busy. I know they don’t have time to contact every person who had anything to do with each show. Still, a quick courtesy call or email would have been nice.

For the time being you can watch clips from the episode on the Primetime website, though they probably will only be live for a few more days. Unfortunately I didn’t see my sketches in any of the clips so I don’t know if they were just trimmed out for the web or if they never even made it to air in the first place. I did order a copy of the episode on DVD so eventually I’ll find out for sure one way or the other.

A lengthy but well-written article about the Stuaffer’s ordeal can be read here. There’s also a book about the case, “Stalking Mary”, which can be purchased here.

As far as I know the judge hasn’t yet made a decision about Shiue’s fate. If I had to guess, I think he’ll probably wind up locked away in a secured treatment facility for the rest of his life.

Charity Animation Auction Tomorrow for Pres Romanillos

A few months ago a charity art auction was held to support animation artist/director Tim Hodge who’s teenage son had been hit by a train and is now in a coma. It was a tragic situation but fortunately $79,000 was raised to help with medical bills. Some terrific animation and comic book art was donated. I myself snagged an animation maquette of Kuzko from Disney’s “The Emperor’s New Groove”.

Chad Frye, who organized the “Help the Hodges” auction, has just sent out a notice about another similar charity art auction taking place tomorrow (Sunday June 20) for animator Pres Romanillos who is fighting Lukemia:

We just wanted to let all you Help the Hodges supporters know that tomorrow (June 20), there will be a live auction of some AMAZING artwork to help support fellow animator Pres Romanillos who is suffering from Leukemia. When we were collecting art for our own auction earlier this year, Pres did three drawings for us. Since then, his cancer relapsed and needs our help.

If you cannot attend the live auction, there are instructions on their website on how you can place an absentee bid. Much of the artwork will astound you. They even have at least one piece we sold (original Peter Pan art) that was generously donated by the buyer.

Pres is really a great guy, and Help the Hodges wishes him and his family all the best.

I browsed the auction listings and there is a very impressive collection of art available for bidding. This auction is being done live instead of on ebay but if you can’t attend in person you can bid absentee.

My best wishes go out to Romanillos and his family.

Thoughts On Licensing For Artists

I’ve made my living as a freelance illustrator for thirteen years and counting. I’ve tried just about everything a commercial artist can do—children’s books, storyboards, magazine illustration, toy design, marker comps, comic books, character design, animation, even courtroom sketching. One of the few areas where I haven’t yet dipped my toe in the water is in the murky but potentially lucrative field of art licensing.

Last week I spent four days in Las Vegas at the International Licensing Expo attending classes, walking the show floor, and shaking hands in an effort to better understand that particular industry. I wanted to find out what real opportunities, if any, existed for me there.

Unfortunately the short answer (for me at least) is “not many”. Continue reading

Live Tweeting from the Creative Freelancer Conference

I’ll be among several attendees live tweeting from the Creative Freelancer Conference this weekend (June 5-6). To follow the feed just search Twitter for hashtag #CFConf.

Afterward I’ll be attending the Licensing Expo June 7-10 and will be likely be posting a few tweets from there as well. So far I haven’t found an official hashtag for the Expo. If anyone knows of one please leave a comment.

You can follow me on Twitter @cedrichohnstadt.