my first stab at a graphic kinda style

An old character redesigned, again

Goodness! So much has been going on! I feel ashamed of myself for not updating here.

It’s always so helpful to put myself into a writing sort of mood, but honestly I haven’t had the time! And normally when I say I’m busy it’s a half-excuse, but for the past 2 months, at least, it’s been completely true. ๐Ÿ˜›

Life has been like this for a while now.

So late last year I was approached by an independent children’s book writer who runs a site supplying free children’s stories on the web, one of which has been picked up by an independent publisher. He effectively opened a call for entries, and I won the bid! My first published work as a professional artist! Excitement!

The book is called the Journey of the Noble Gnarble, and it’s about a little made-up sort of fish who lives on the bottom of the sea, who dreams of seeing the sunshine. Can you say right up my alley? If all goes as planned, it’ll be printed and on bookshelves by Fall 2011. So, here’s a few sneak peeks of some of the double spreads:

His friends tell him he can't do it, but he's all, F*** YOU GUYS!

And lo, the Gnarble travelled through many lands...

fuuuuuu, this one took forever ๐Ÿ˜„

That giant thing isn't going to play any role in the story whatsoever.

Kindof a spoiler, but I'm pretty sure you were expecting it ๐Ÿ˜›

So over the past 6 months I’ve been working closely with the author and the publisher’s designer to nudge the illustrations into a good spot. I designed all the characters and helped a little with the title typeface design – that was super challenging! There were a few stops and starts, technical malfunctions, miscommunications, and some emotional rough patches, but I had good friends and colleagues to keep me on track and encouraged! I like to think I gained a good chunk of experience – being a freelancer doesn’t seem nearly as scary. ๐Ÿ˜€

In addition to this, I’ve been working with another author, this time a guy who’s intending to self-publish a series of young adult Fantasy novels, called the Winterlark Series. More work to come soon on that, though!

Kylie is basically a girl Harry Potter who can talk to magical animals.

I also participated in a local art show for a gallery in San Francisco, the theme was meant to bring art by game developers into a fine art setting. It was definitely an interesting experience dealing with a gallery, but I don’t think I’ll be dealing with one again until my name actually means something. ๐Ÿ˜„

For the show, I was convinced that everyone needed to know what whales and dolphins looked like 30 million years ago. Unfortunately, they put my piece all the way in the back of the gallery under the stairs, so no one cared. And yes, it’s still for sale!

Pakicetus was kindof like an ottery wolf with hooves that lived in prehistoric Pakistan, which was a giant swampy delta back then.

A bunch of ancient whales from different stages. These are not direct descendants.

I joined a blog that is an exploration of mythological and folkloric critters – some of which are quite awesomely poorly known! Some of my submissions to the Alphabestiary:

The Angha is a Persian manifestation of universal wisdom

The Bush DaiDai is a nasty thing from Guyanan folklore.

The Dobhar-Chu is an Irish lake monster, basically a giant otter. I didn't want to draw a giant otter.

My lady creature-making compatriots Brynn Metheney and Allison Theus, and I began a creature design project together – it might become a book, who knows! Right now the project is still in its infancy since we’re all three so busy, but hopefully more will come about soon! We were also interviewed about the project, and our very similar, yet distinctive work, by Mike Corriero for an artists’ spotlight via the Art Academy Character and Creature Design Notes Blog.

You can read the interviews HERE. Some of the work I’ve done for the project:

A giant filter feeder. The juveniles are more active predators.

Social pack-based plains hunters, a female with a new litter and last year's remaining daughter.

Nudibranch-based critter

Nudibranch-based critter

And lastly, THE OTHER BOOK. The prehistoric one where kinda-myself travels back in time with kinda- my little brothers. Well it’s still underway, but having worked so long on the Gnarble, I can’t help but notice that my drawing skills have substantially improved (by force) over the past 6 months. I’ve done some good work on the Dinosaurs Before Bedtime paintings, but I’m tempted to redo them. I wasn’t organizing the book properly, I had no layouts, and I had no text to work with. I’d often start paintings on a whim and flub in the illustratey details as I went along. With what I’ve learned from working with someone else’s text, that’s not very smart, and doesn’t make for a sellable product.

I did, however, get a few more of the paintings up:

Clifford and Clive arrive in the Cambrian

Dunkleosteus attack! Don't worry, though, Chloe's GOT THIS!

That last painting actually made it onto ImagineFX’s front page! I’m internet famous!

Turrill Attack! yeah that's pretty accurate.

So, I’m not entirely sure what’s next. Aside from taking a few small sketch and quick-paint commissions on DeviantArt, I’m definitely warming to the freedom and the diversity of work that comes with being a freelance illustrator, and so far I do enjoy working on small publishing projects. Even when it’s been hard, it hasn’t had the same soul-sucking feeling that my prior game industry experiences have had. So we’ll see if I give that industry another chance for the sake of job security and the ever-elusive perfect art team, or if I wind up sticking it out alone. I’m open to being convinced by either, or, and both!

Hopefully my next update won’t be so far off, but you can always follow more timely posts on my Facebook, and my Tumblr.

Cheers, cuties!

Well, as with all things, my latest job has come to an end. I had the opportunity to work on some frustrating projects, but I feel like I was able to channel it into some decent work. I’ve learned so much about my craft in the past 6 months – most of it, I know, I won’t fully appreciate until a few more months have passed. The peeps at Backbone Entertainment were a great bunch, and I hope the best for them all as they continue to try and get great projects off the ground and out the door. And who knows, maybe when the time is right, I can work with some of ’em again. ๐Ÿ˜€

My children’s book is calling me! Oh Clevengers! I’ve missed my prehistoric friends and kiddie adventurers.

In some ways, I’m actually quite excited about what’s next. A good deal of that is “I DUNNO” but hey, now I can actually hang out with all the friends I’ve said I needed to catch up with. Wonderful lady creature designers two, Brynn Metheney and Allison Theus and I are also embarking on a collaboration effort on the side – I’m thrilled to actually have time for it now.

LADIES OF BEASTS mwahaha.

So in honor of moving off to different places, and at the encouragement of internet pal David Brown Eyes, I’ve started a shiny new WordPress!

Suck it, Google!

Also, critters!

I’ve been talking for a while about my kids’ book, but haven’t yet shown any of the final pieces – until today!

This piece took a long while on account of my day job, but I quite like how it turned out. I’ll probably throw a little bit of type on it when the actual story is written, but so far I’m just making the story through its pictures. ๐Ÿ™‚
All of the images are being done in watercolor.

In this image, the Clevenger kids have just narrowly escaped a sticky situation involving a Dunkleosteus, and time-jump a little ways into the Late Devonian, where they drop in on some Acanthostega.
Friendly proto-amphibians! ^_^

More pieces and half-pieces from the Clevenger Kids bedtime adventure:
click meh!

Also, some pieces I’ve done on the side:

The Dolphins of Japan, inspired by the recent slaughter at the Cove of Taiji.

Ornithocheirus, one of my favorite pterosaur species.

And the Battlecat of He-Man, redesigned.

until next tiems!

~tiff


Lud-in-the-MistLud-in-the-Mist by Hope Mirrlees

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Enticed by the promises of a great many favorite writers, I took up Lud-In-The-Mist expecting a change in what female fantasy could be.

The name, the time, the author’s story, all attracted me. Despite this, i couldn’t manage to lose myself in it.

Essentially, for me, it didn’t hold up.

I found the characters shrill and predictable, the bewildered goodies were good, and the baddies just as you found them.

As I read, I had a sense that I was waiting for the literary ah-ha to happen – the plot is thick as molasses, even the interesting characters are quickly stunted or oversimplified (I’m looking at you, Endymion Leer – such a great name, sigh!).

The whole plot and execution felt like a great dance around saying what the authoress wanted to say – I imagine this was quite effective in 1925, but I live in the 21st century, and I’ve seen LOST.

The premise is still interesting – a town on the border to the realm of Faerie, and the invariable cultural crossover that seeps in – and the prose was fittingly British and pretty, but Lud’ left me with little to go on… and the slightly irked feeling of having missed the boat.

View all my reviews


The White Goddess: A Historical Grammar of Poetic MythThe White Goddess: A Historical Grammar of Poetic Myth by Robert Graves

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

a dense thicket of myth in all of its core components. graves is the writer’s critic’s writer, leaping wildly from one subject to another, spinning threads and running out across them. he focuses a great deal on the Welsh Ogham and its correlations with Greek and Jewish traditions. although historically flawed, the book itself it still thrilling to parse – and tremendously inspirational when you consider the nature of culture, the foundations of all stories, and their further path. i will very likely read this again.

View all my reviews >>

images from Derek Henderson’s The River


Hello my dears, how is your Monday?
Here in Yay Area, California, it’s a schizophrenic on/off switch of rain and shine.

The Spring is here, (in this area, it has been for a long while) inciting long walks, lots of photos of flowers, and moments admiring light.
The past few months, for me, have been a heap of mixed-baggery. The new year came in, up and down: perpetually waiting for the other shoe to drop.
When I last wrote, to be honest, I was in a pretty dire spot, and was considering abandoning art-making all together.


I’ve been feeling lately that the methods I have relied upon in the past no longer serve me – and thus feel forced and outmoded. They’re cast in this mold of final product, quick changeover, and imitation. I’m just beginning to realize now how it puts me in this position of resenting the creation process, hurrying to some end-day when I’ll finally have the time to do as I wish.
But the day I will be perfect and “finished,” will be the day I die.
So what then? Change is scary. The conflict I’m wrestling with now, with my art, and my expression, is like some somatic symptom of my feet dragging – resistance at finding a new method.
Perpetually in transition, I am still filling up my mind with ideas and images like some decanter of experience. After maybe a few more years of decanting, maybe I’ll have some great work, my gift – perfectly aerated. It will be true, and come perfectly from me. Fountained.

Since then, and despite my challenges, I have seen New York, New Jersey, Ohio, Kentucky, a glorious wedding, and (large amounts of) snow. Thankfully, I came back around to my senses. Travel will do that.


Mike has taken up a new hobby – our oven is filled with bricks. Every weekend he experiments in baking, and his holy grail is the perfect New York style pizza. I’m convinced he’s already nailed it, but he isn’t satisfied. In myriad ways, he’s the foundation for my ability to not give up.
My family has been predictably incompetent and infuriating – and predictably just in time for Mother’s Day… I think I’ve finally given up having any manner of dialogue with mine.

The detractors, distractors, the nay-sayers…. I can’t waste energy on them any longer.
It takes away too much from my work.


Employment-wise, I’ve been doing brief gasps of work for game companies, web non-profits, and authors whom I inexplicably befriended at coffee shops.

A good friend has loaned me a copy of this; it and various design blogs have been a very grounding place to make me feel less crazy, despite the rabble’s prattling opinion.

And about and between this, I’m developing my own children’s book, a fantasy bedtime adventure that is somewhat autobiographical. This project has allowed me to somewhat keep my head during my days (and away from Facebook), and warm me to the idea of being a freelancer.
My home studio fits like a pair of favorite shoes, by now.
It’s usually covered in Moleskines and paint.


Two of my dearest loves have always been watercolor and natural history, and diving back into that world has taken me into heights of nerdery these past months, all which I refuse to apologize for. ๐Ÿ˜›
I recently completed a terrifying double page spread of a Dunkleosteus menacing my characters, I’ll try to get it up soon.

I am also letting a few new stories simmer a bit more in the pot, they might cross and connect in cute little ways. They’re fittingly children’s literature-esque, hopefully one or more will show promise, and be a follow-up book to the Bedtime Adventure.

In the meantime, here are a few quick previews of my children’s book, Dinosaurs Before Bedtime: (my good cousin Chad visited from Dallas, and snuck photos while I was out, the little sneak)




And some new places to see me (because I’m feeling whorish):
My tumblr, a repository of things I like, and you might, too: Tumbles away!
I’ll also be featured in the Drawgasmic compendium: Drawgasmic

Happy May, cuties.

~Tiffany

(That’s me! Spewing love out my ear. Or cheek.)

SO!

No more holidays or new year dawdling! Time to get to work! You heard me! Drop and give me 50! Paintings!

Yes, it’s true. After a month of piddling around and hemming and hawing over what to do, and my general dissatisfaction with the state of the games industry in America (although I’m sure Japan and Europe are just as screwy), I’ve decided to switch gears and develop a children’s book.

And damn if it isn’t daunting. All the worst-case scenarios and fire and brimstone lectures from illustration curmudgeons have been coming back, and hitting hard. It’s so easy to get discouraged, and I haven’t even done anything yet! Just reading about the state of the overly saturated publishing industry sets my teeth on edge. Yeeee.

I’m enthusiastic mostly because of two things: I’ve rediscovered how much I missed drawing and reconstructing prehistoric creatures (I’ve been so out of the loop with paleontological discoveries in the past few years: I’m a bad nerd!); and two, I’ve rediscovered how much I missed watercolor. Coming from years of battling digital programs, it alarmed me how easy it was! Just slosh and slop and a painting is done. It’s hard to keep the images from getting to heavy.

Sigh.

I’m going to be sneaky about the details of my book for now, but I will leave you with some preliminary practice work I’ve been toying with to get me back in the groove. Here comes fun!


And some others I’d been piddling with:


Stay sassy y’all, next time I may have some more secret details for you. Chock full of paleontological goodness!

~Tiffany

unfortunately, these things do happen. a few months ago, i was laid off from my job as a concept artist at a start-up video game studio here in the Bay Area, ending three years of work with no product to show for it, and nothing substantial to add to my resume. many friends of mine have been unemployed for a very long time now, and now i’ve joined them. it’s actually quite depressing, the layoff went down just in time for seasonal affective disorder to take hold.

the upside is that work that was being put off can be realized. so far this has limited itself to quick paint sketches, but i have plenty of bigger, more refined pieces coming down the pipeline, which i intend to print and send in for various art competitions. i am also making an endeavor to get back into traditional art, as was inspired by a trip to a sketch-night at a local gallery, where my work was very well received by enthusiastic art scenesters.

but until then, here is what i have so far.

Haibane Renmei is a short (13 episodes) anime series from the creator of Lain, and centers on a few girls living in an isolated village, who have awakened as angel-like creatures with no memory of their past lives. the plot is very slow and meandering, but the emotions that are kindled as the series progresses are searing. i found myself crying while watching the later episodes. i was especially struck by the character of Reki, the selfless caretaker of the group, and her emotional struggles – which of course resemble my own.

Greer Gilman’s Cloud and Ashes: Three Winter’s Tales is the best novel i have read in many years. the craft, the images, the themes, the sheer poetry of the three stories (two shorter ones to set the scene, and a long novella) has filled my mind with beautiful images for months now, but no real complete pieces have come out of it so far. the abstraction and ethereal tone is sometimes difficult to pin down in a precise image or character design, the prose is told as if through a haze of all the words that came before it. the experience of reading Cloud and Ashes is to be fully immersed in the present moment, being overwhelmed with the english language. sounds pretentious, but it’s true. of course it helps that the authoress is a lexicologist.

the plot circles in on the unassuming and reticent girl, Margaret, who was born and raised in the celestial plane of Law by her sinister grandmother, the goddess of the moon, Annis – but escapes. Margaret is the product of an incarnation of Annis’ daughter, Ashes, who came was stolen away to the earthly land of Cloud with a simple fiddler. her journey through Cloud to find her mother and escape the prying eyes and spies of her grandmother is a myth as rich and multilayered as any hero journey from the european tradition.
so far i am on my third reading of the book.

and finally, this piece is purely a personal work, inspired by a particularly distressing session at therapy. the emotional struggle that i have been going through lately, in attempting to reconcile and grieve for my past self, has been harrowing. this piece was done in the weeks leading up to a trip back home to stay with my family, and the anxiety and guilt that i felt was almost enough to make me back out of the whole thing. so this character, whom i named Turmoil, is the representation i have chosen of myself, when i am overwhelmed. i’m using a bit of overt symbolism, but the emotions elicited are what i am after. constriction, suspension, and the feeling of gasping in brackish water.

until next time,
tiff

well things have certainly been interesting, but i wanted to share with you all some commissioned work i did for some of the good folks at DeviantArt. it was pretty successful, and some of the pieces were fun to work on. maybe i’ll do another set soon!

Belligerent, a mongrel wolfy character.

Furyen, a birthday character design request, which was later printed and framed and loved.

this pic was once a much more kinky fetish image. i talked the commissioner into giving it a bit more context.

a set of four for one gal, of three of her characters.

and finally a kabuki assassin night elf named Vanasa Orclance.

overall the commission experience was kindof interesting, i’ve never coordinated something like this online before, and it was actually relatively quick and painless. all the people i worked for were quick to respond, inquisitive, honest, reasonable, and they liked the pieces that came out of it.

this is mostly, i figure, a product of doing art for people who are themselves artists. they know what to look for, know what to provide, and know where to let the person hired for the job go ahead and do their thing. i had all kinds of delays and crises throughout the process, but the clients who were delayed just sent me smilies and love. i wish “real” freelance jobs could be this fun!

until next time,
tiff