Many years ago I did course work via mail correspondence with a school called Art Instruction Schools. I was only 15 or 16 years old when I called to take the free drawing test. A month after shipping the test off, I received another piece of mail from them expressing interest to send a recruiter over to interview me. My parents liked the idea, so they enrolled me in the course.
I finished all but 3 assignments by the end of my senior year of high school. I shipped off to bootcamp immediately after graduation and then 9/11 happened. As you can imagine, I was pretty busy for the next 4 years, especially when you consider the nature of my occupation: Marine Infantry. I left active duty in the summer of 2005, reinstated my enrollement, and had finished the remaining 3 projects.
In the fall of 2011 I applied for the Art Instruction School's 2012 Outstanding Graduate of the Year award. Just a few months later I received a phone call notifying me of my selection as the awardee for my contributions in the field of art. Just recently, I was chosen to be their featured artist in their annual publication called the Illustrator.
Here's what arrived in the mail last week:
Their editor, Brad Kroll, did an extensive phone interview with me about my work. He asked if I would be interested in gracing the cover of their next annual, and I happily obliged. You can read the article below:
It's an honor to be Art Instruction Schools 2013 featured artist. Speaking of featured artist, my wife and I were just invited to attend the Navy and Marine Corps ball in Washington, D.C. in March 2014. Renown combat artist Michael D. Fay and myself were asked to be the featured artists at the ball. Our work detailing both The Joe Bonham Project and in Afghanistan/Iraq will be on display. Because we are out-of-town guests, they are accomodating our stay for one night at the Washington Hilton. I'm looking very forward to attending the event.
Lastly, I have a brilliant idea in the works and I'm keeping it a secret for fear of somebody stealing it from me. My Children's Book Illustration class has allowed me to think in a variety of ways I never thought possible. I just pulled two all-nighters in the illustation room putting together die cut texture book prototypes for Professor Franki's next assignment. The content must relate to toddlers ages 2-4, show 4 pages (cover and back count) of the book's content, be printed and adhered to chip board, and be interactive (texture, pockets, etc). Again, I think I have something big here, and I don't want to show my hand until it's fully developed and copywrited.
So no pictures.
Our second project in Children's Book Illustration involved the entertainment of little ones between the ages 0-3. We were required to illustrate four consecutive pages anywhere from within our made-up book, and to create a concept sketch for a piece of merchandise relating to the story, character(s), etc.
I feel that I have somewhat of an unfair advantage regarding material. Considering that I am about a decade older than most of the other students in the class and that I have a 7 year old son who's fixated with animals, I felt natural moving forward with the assignment.
Instinctively, I tinkered with doing an animal/alphebet themed story but, after some serious consideration, I scrapped the idea. I figured that other students were going to do the same thing and there is nothing more that I hate then doing the same thing as everybody else. Animals were still an option, so I went into my son's room and took pictures of a bunch of his stuffed animals for possible reference material. The two that stood out the most to me were his baby giraffe and the 3 foot mama giraffe.
Many drawings were made in the class (not shown here), and creativity began to spark. Then I had to figure out which type of media would work most appropriately with both the assignment and the concept. Since detail isn't important for the demographic in mind, I chose to go digital and use flat fill colors.
Hypothetically, I would title this book, Mommy & Baby. The story would be about mom and little one spending the day with each other, with the final four pages wrapping it up with a bedtime routine.
In my mind's eye, this book is about bonding and would be for moms and their babies of any sex. Establishing this specific target audience truly helped propel me forward with a deliberate hand. In the words of the great Professor Franki, "Make sure it looks like you meant it".
This is a preliminary sketch that I did on my tablet where I was attempting to finalize the text placement and the overall composition of each page. There are several factors to take into account when putting down images and text. These include, but are not restricted to: establishing balance; leaving the gutter (inner page) free of text or important imagery; creating eye movement; including a place for text and page numbers; avoid cramming too much in one area or space; freeing the edges up; color choice, etc.
Although I've learned a lot, I'm still learning, and will probably continue to learn until I'm dead.
Over the course of the summer I came into contact with Neil Janowitz, a senior editor for SI.com and the one who runs their pop-culture page Extra Mustard. It started on a boring Friday night when I was 4 beers deep and had nothing else better to do than to scope out new ways to market myself. After searching several Sports Illustrated directories, I came across Neil's twitter and email information. It pretty much happened like this: I sent him an email asking to do work and he said yes.
Since contributing to the site, I illustrated three articles (one yet to be published). Outside of taking illustration courses, this was the first time that I ever made work, professionally, for an editor. I have to say that my Topics in Illustration class has played a part in getting me to this point. Additionally, my illustrator pals have certainly made an impression on the way I approach my work.
Since I've became a contributing member to the site, Neil has given me very little to no art direction and has gave his stamp of approval at everything I've thrown at him. Our working relationship has been a fairly relaxed one to say the least. I, of course, understand that situations don't always pan out like this.
The first article was about LeBron James and how he has broken the video game rating system. Click here to read.
The second article was about the Waterboy, in a series titled: Where are they now? Click here to read.
Apart from Sports Illustrated, I've been immersed in Fall course work. I'm finishing up my art history's with Survey I and Northern Renaissance, and taking two studios with Children's Book Illustration, and 3D Design.
So far Children's Book Illustration has been a blast. For our first assignment, we were to illustrate and design a cover/spine/back and a centerfold of a book that appears to be for children but is adult themed. What's more, we had to be the main character. This was a beginning-of-the-semester exercise to get us thinking about what children's book illustration is really about. Let's just say that I had way too much fun with this.
-Appears to be for children/tweens/teens
-We are the main character
-11"x17" using any media
Yes, it's of me. Taking a shit. And no, I didn't draw myself actually sitting on the pot. However, I did snap pictures of myself making faces for photo reference. Super excited for the next project.
Finally, my 3D class.
I've been putting this class off for the longest time. I love working in clay, but I was never the crafty type. This class puts you to the test by requiring you to work with a variety of material. Our first project has to to with constructing something abstract out of paper in a myriad of weights and sizes.
-Made of white paper (to accentuate form)
-At least 18" cubic square inches
-Have any of the following two: rhythm, positive/negative space, symmetry v.s. asymmetry, chance v.s control, etc.
This isn't due for another week, but here's what I've done so far.
Im not too sure why I chose to go the route that I did, but I like where it's going. I'm now working on the outside, cutting illustration board into square rods and gluing them together at random. This configurement will spiral up and around the "staircase".
For those who donated to my trip last fall/winter, I promised you a signed print of one of the pieces that I did from the embed in Afghanistan. Well, I'm a man of my word. I signed and mailed off all 80+ prints yesterday. Sorry that it took so long, but I guess better late than never. Just from this trip alone, I made local news twice, a 3 page color spread in the Charlotte Observer, national and local radio, and more. All of this wouldn't have been possible without your support. Thank you.
I'll end with this interview that my school, the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, made regarding the exhibits uptown, including mine. The College of Arts & Architecture have been so kind to me, and it is my honor to be a student there.
They start talking about my work at the 14:40 mark.