2012 Year End Wrap up/Back to the Drawing Board in 2013
No apocalypse means more fun art stuff from Serkworks – Yay!
Another year gone by, another pile of unfinished creative projects that sit gathering dust. What a bummer. Or am I being too hard on myself? I may have bit off a little more than I could chew, but I did accomplished quite a bit in 2012. I churned out a lot of cool artwork and even dipped my toes into some new creative waters that I am very anxious to dive deeper into. So, why not recap my Serkworks highlights of last year and share some my goals for this one?
So what did I do last year? Well, for starters, I traded in my busted, hadn’t been updated since the mid-90’s, Flash intro, 800×600 website for the shiny new, more practical, easy to navigate WordPress site you see now. It comes complete with an easy to update blog and handy social media tools that I can use keep everyone on top of what’s going on at Serkworks. Now all I have to do is take better advantage of it. (More on that in my goals for 2013.)
Designed stuff for Social Games
The bulk of my time in 2012 was spent creating game art for my awesome day job at Broken Bulb Game Studios. We launched three new social game titles: “Hero Conquest,” “Soda Pop Panic,” and “Bake Shop Drop,” plus our first mobile game, “Light the Night.” Being a huge comic book fan, and a fan of superheros in general, I was thrilled to have spent most of 2012 creating heroes, villains, and an entirely new superhero universe for “Hero Conquest.”
In addition, I did a lot of concept work on “Soda Pop Panic,” which was actually based on a game that I pitched. To top it all off, I designed the branding for all three of our new social games. Sweet!
Did Some Live Streaming
Another cool thing we tried was the Broken Bulb Live Stream, where for the first time I got to show online viewers my process of creating game art. We only produced a few live streams, but I enjoyed the experience so much I would like to start something similar of my own.
In addition to my work at “The Bulb,” I managed to keep myself busy with a number of freelance projects. This made finding time to complete the laundry list of personal projects on my to do list rather difficult. But I’ve got bills to pay and mouths to feed, so I try not to complain too much. Here is some of the stuff I managed to squeeze in when I wasn’t using my skills to pay the bills:
I built a kick ass Trade show booth, exhibited at my first convention, and put on a how-to workshop.
I am a huge fan of Halloween, so when I heard about Keen Halloween – a new event celebrating every thing I love about the holiday – I just had to get involved.
Even though this was a first-time event, Master Organizer Daniel Davis of Steam Crow fame has been touring the comic convention circuit successfully for years, and his knowledge and experience made for an incredible show. One Idea Daniel had was to offer a prize for the best booth display. This brought out the creativity of the exhibitors and really punched up the aesthetics of the exhibit hall. Not being one to be outdone when it comes to presentation, I used a little ingenuity and my background in set design to build a booth that incorporated both my “wacky factory” brand imagery and a bit of mad scientist flare, which fit in nicely with the Halloween theme.
Armed with my newly constructed booth, comics, buttons, sketch cards, a new set of mix-and-match monster trading cards, I set up shop at my very first con. What an amazing experience! I only wish I had started exhibiting at conventions sooner. Most of my career has been creating art for clients who I rarely meet face to face. So being able to interact with the attendees and other exhibitors was really something special. At the end of the day, I did pretty well: I sold some art, met some awesome folks, packed the house for my “Mad Props” workshop, and made back most of my initial investment by winning the Best Booth Award (the prize is a free table at this year’s event!). I’m looking forward to doing more shows in the future, and plan to create more prints, comics, and trading cards, as well as some other surprises to bring along.
Had some fun riffing on on pop culture.
I keep a file of pop culture-based gags and t-shirt ideas that I pull from whenever I find time to do an illustration or t-shirt design. Here are a few ideas I finished last year:
I already have a few on the drawing board for 2013, and the list of ideas continues to grow.
Last but not least: Comics!
My biggest lament of 2012 was not making more progress on my comic book project, “Young and the Dead.” Though I was able to assemble a new standard format version of YATD’s first issue to sell at shows, there is so much I didn’t get around to. Mainly, I was hoping to start artwork on issue two. but as it stands, all I have is the script. Right now, though, I’m working on a comic project for a client that is really helping me speed up my comic book-making process, and the knowledge should prove valuable in getting future issues of “Young and the Dead” out on a more timely basis. It is also my goal this year to have digital copies of the books available online, and to start running it as a web comic.
That’s the basic run down for Serkworks 2012. Here’s a list of other things I would like to accomplish this year:
1. Create a more effective online storefront. With all the new products I plan on producing, I’m going to need a better avenue to distribute them to folks online as well as at comic cons. A lot of people might not have the wherewithal to make a purchase at a con, but may see something they say they would buy later. I’ve seen a lot of cool things at shows that I regret not picking up that I purchase later online.
2. Be more active in terms of social media. Interacting with folks online is not something that comes naturally to me. When I create, I typically get in a zone and it’s hard for me to pull myself away to share what I’m working on, much less strike up a twitter conversation. On the other hand, I love checking in to see what other artists are working on and am always interested in learning about new tools or a particular process of creating artwork. I have a few interesting tricks up my sleeve, and with awesome tools like Facebook, Twitter, You Tube, Tumblr, Instagram, Deviant Art, Google Plus, etc. at my fingertips, why not use them?
3. Videos/live stream content. I’ve done few live streams and workshops, and though I could improve on my performance, the more I do, the more comfortable I get hamming it up in front of people. Practice makes perfect.
4. Sketch more. A while back I was doing daily fan art sketches, which were great warm-ups and gave me a ton of original art to sell at shows. So, why not stream my sketching process and kill two birds with one stone?
5. Finish issue two of my comic, “Young and the Dead.” This is my favorite pet project as well as the most satisfying to me. I plan to make physical and digital versions available, and create a web page for the book so I can start releasing pages online as a weekly web series.
6. Go digital for comics creation. The new Yiynova tablet display is getting rave reviews as an alternative to the Cintiq, and doesn’t cost an arm and a leg. I think I’m going to pick one up and teach myself Manga Studio. As much as I love traditional drawing and inking, I know I can save a lot of time if I didn’t have to scan and resize my roughs, print them out, and and scan back in the final inks, like I do now.
7. Make new designs. I would like to have triple the amount of products I currently sell at shows. This means about six new prints, another eight button designs, a new set of mix and match character cards (maybe a “Wizard of Oz” or “Alice and Wonderland” series), plus a few other novelties to keep it interesting.
8. Improve on my trade show booth. I’m pretty happy with the booth so far, but there is always room for improvement. I learned a few things about presentation from Keen Halloween that I would like to implement. As it is now, the booth is wide open, exposing whatever is behind me. Some venues offer a curtain back drop, but then you’re just staring at the same bland drapery that everyone else has. I think I can find a way to rectify that. I also want to play around with more effective ways to display my products. It’s all a learning process, and what works well for one crowd or venue might not work for another. I’ll have to keep learning and changing things up.
8. Do something with that darn children’s book. I have a very tight outline for my first children’s book that has been on the back burner for a while. I need to step up and send some samples out to see if I can get any interest from publishers. If that’s not in the cards, I will look into self-publishing.
9. Home art projects. I like to do a lot of my own home improvements: murals, custom furniture, stuff like that. I built a castle bed for my daughter that is functional now but I would like to spruce it up a bit by adding a stair case, a slide, plus some finishing touches to make it a bit more elegant.
My workspace is also in desperate need of an expansion. Lately, my three kids have been fighting over computer time and encroaching on my workstation. So I plan to add on to the desk I built to include a larger workstation and some much needed cabinet space. I also have an outdoor playhouse and playroom that could use a little TLC.
Of course these are the things that are on my mind right now. You never know what challenges lie ahead. New projects and opportunities always seem to pop up and you just roll with it. This is my plan. It’s not set in stone but should provide a good blueprint for 2013. It will be interesting to revisit it next year and see what was accomplished.
Happy New Year!