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If I could give any advice to another artist, commercial or otherwise, it would be this.

Try not to obsess over whether or not people like your work. Some are going to like it, some are going to hate it, and there’s nothing you can do about it. If you must pay attention to destructive criticism (and there will be a lot of it), then develop thick skin.

Very few artists are household names. A tiny number of them ever become famous and the few that do are unlikely to be remembered after they’re dead. It is a safe bet to say that you will leave no art behind that will significantly change any future generations. So don’t do it for that.

Bottom line…if being creative makes you happy, then be creative. If you can make a living at it without compromising your character, even better.

Now, why are you reading a blog when you could be drawing or painting something? 🙂

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Goodbye, Bob

Sad news last week for this community. Bob Schott, the publisher, general manager, advertising manager and one of the founders of The Rocky Mountain Outlook, passed away after a short battle with cancer.

Bob and two others started up The Outlook 7 years ago, competing directly with The Banff Crag and Canyon and The Canmore Leader newspapers. Many told them they’d fail. If for nothing else, that was reason enough for me to want to work for them. I like people who take risks against the odds. It shows character. And as so often is the case, The Outlook not only stayed afloat, it is now the paper of choice around here.

So when I got the news, I knew I would be required to do a cartoon about it. Anything else would be inappropriate on the editorial page this week. Fortunately my editor already had something in mind, and together we came up with this one. I was grateful for her help.

Bob was only 56, and that’s too young. I didn’t know Bob outside of the newspaper environment but I liked him and I respected him. This afternoon, I’ll attend his memorial, and I won’t be surprised when it’s standing room only.

I’ve always been acutely aware of the passage of time, how little we have, likely less than we think. Don’t wait to do the things you’ve always wanted to do. We hear that often, but it bears repeating. Life is too short.

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Oprah Final

This took longer than I wanted it to. I obsessed a little too much with the details, many of which you can’t even see at this size. This is one of those situations where a deadline is a good thing because once it’s due…it’s done.

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Here’s the next evolution of the Oprah piece. The tough part with caricature seems to be finding the right reference photo. This piece was especially difficult in that regard. In almost every photo she has different weight, different hair, and photos that have been airbrushed excessively for publication. I’m closing in on finishing this up and adding colour.

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Oprah – rough sketch

Been very busy with editorial cartoons and marketing. The Indiana Jones postcard has already resulted in work, so I’m definitely feeling good about that endeavour. Can’t share the piece I’m working on yet, but I will when it’s done.

One of the things I’m really working toward is being more prolific when it comes to caricature pieces. I’ll be working on cranking out portfolio pieces this summer, which should help me increase my speed and skill. With that in mind, this is a very rough quick painting of Oprah that should be finished in the next week, if I can tear myself away from the paying gigs.

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Stephen Silver’s ArtCast

As you know, I’m a fan of Stephen Silver‘s character work, and was able to see him in Calgary recently. Stephen is a very positive person, with a great outlook on being a cartoonist for a living. Artists can sometimes be brooding and pessimistic about their circumstances, many get sucked into a ‘poor me’ attitude. I must confess, I’ve allowed myself to wallow in self-pity a few times in the past as well. A ridiculous notion, considering what I get to do for a living.

Silver has an audio segment that he calls an ‘ARTcast,’ on his blog. Not a regularly posted feature, just something he does once in awhile when he has the time. It’s usually quite motivational. Since being an artist for a living is often a solitary existence, it’s comforting to know that somebody else in the profession goes through the same doubts, fears, and insecurities. So if you’re an artist, and you need a pep talk, head on over to Silver’s blog for a listen to his latest Artcast. If you like it, search through his blog’s history for the rest of them.

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Rocky Mountain High

It’s kind of pricey to live here in the Canadian Rockies, but when you wake up to this view most mornings, it all seems worth it. A friend of mine once called it, “paradise tax.” Couldn’t agree more.

This was the view of ‘The Three Sisters’ from my office window this morning at 6:30. One of the reasons I love getting up so early is I get to watch the sun come up. This was taken through a window, so not the greatest of shots, but you get the idea. I think I need to clean my window.

Never fails to inspire me.

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Oot and Aboot

Had a couple of days OUT of the office at the end of the week.

On Friday, I had the pleasure of visiting the Red Deer Lake School on the southern edge of Calgary. They had a career day where people of interesting professions came in to talk to the students about the sort of work they do. I had two sessions, spoke about editorial cartooning and artwork in general. Managed to have some coffee time and lunch with the other speakers. Found myself wanting to sit in on THEIR sessions rather than teach my own as they were all quite interesting. This was my second invite to the school and I had a good time. Their keynote speaker was a very inspirational guy by the name of Alvin Law. A gifted speaker and I would welcome the chance to hear him again.

Today, I went back to Calgary to attend the Calgary Comic and Entertainment Expo. My first time at this sort of event.

I’m not much of a comic fan, but I did want to check out some of the artists in attendance, among them Bobby Chiu and Stephen Silver, two of the instructors at

Since I’ll likely be taking each of their courses eventually, I wanted to find out a little more before deciding. Both are great guys, I picked up some books from them, and I’ll likely be taking one of their courses in the Fall. Still trying to put into practice everything I learned from Seiler’s course.

Met some other very talented artists there as well. While I’m not into the fantasy genre, two local guys I met from DPI Studios, Embrio and Jaysin really impressed me. A very talented team, they have created some beautiful eye catching stuff.

Another artist I met, Joe Weatherly, specializes in animal drawings and paintings. Enjoyed finding out that he spends time at the zoo every week, working on his craft. Obviously his dedication has paid off. Bought one of his books as well.

Had the pleasure of meeting John Giang who currently works for Industrial Light and Magic, arguably one of the top creative employers around. Not really a surprise they hired him after looking at his portfolio. This guy has some incredible talent and skill…his attention to detail in his digital paintings is second to none, and I’ll definitely be keeping track of his work.

Aside from that, there were toys, comics, and the requisite sci-fi celebrity guests. While I’ve never been the type to go after autographs or get my photo taken with a celeb, it was definitely odd to walk by a booth and see Mr. Sulu (George Takei) sitting there.

All in all, a good time. The folks who organized it did a great job and I’ll plan to attend again next year. I left feeling really inspired by the other artists there, all of whom were very gracious with their time.

But…time to get back to work.

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Taking a day off.

I’m a workaholic, and while many may say that’s not a healthy thing, I’d have to disagree. It all depends on what you do for a living. I’m up at 5:00 AM almost every day and working by 5:30. Unless we’re on vacation (on what?!) or camping, I don’t ever sleep in. I’m one of those freaky morning people. It used to annoy the hell out of my coworkers when I had one of those ‘job’ things.

I find myself at the end of a pretty busy few months. I finished up my bookkeeping and handed it all to my accountant yesterday so he can file my taxes, Seiler’s course is all wrapped up, the Indiana Jones caricature was uploaded to my printer (that’s a company, not a piece of hardware) for postcard prints and I’m in between deadlines. Funny how it all came to a head in the same week, but it all got done and I’m able to take a bit of a breather, before another busy week coming up. More on that in another entry.

Today, however, I’m taking a Saturday off. But what does that really mean? It’s too early for camping (oh but it’s sooooo close), and Shonna is working today, so we won’t be heading into Calgary or doing anything else. We’re also in the midst of a spring snowstorm, so it’s an indoor day.

That means I get to have a day of learning new things that I haven’t had time for. I am a learning junkie, addicted to it in the best and worst way. I can’t get enough information. In my little office, I have two bookshelves full of books on Photoshop, cartooning, caricature, illustration, animation, 3D modeling, character design, and photo reference books. On top of that, I have two shelves of magazines that are chock-full of tutorials, interviews, articles, and helpful resources. I have an online magazine I get every month as well. Then there are the training DVD’s…colour theory, Photoshop (Channels, Layers, and Masks, oh my), 3D software, animation, and a bunch of Gnomon DVD’s from the likes of Neville Page, Dylan Cole, Dusso, and David Levy.

I spent a good hour this morning watching Joe Bluhm’s Digital Podcasts…a very talented caricaturist. But I think the rest of today is a Neville Page day…I’ve been itching to get to the 2nd DVD in his series on digital painting.

So what does a workaholic artist do with a day off? He finds a way to fill it.

OK, I’ll take a couple of hours to play the guitar, but that’s it.