Tuesday, June 9, 2015

New Tumblr Blog

Hey gang, I didn't want to leave you all hanging - which looks like I've done so for a while now! - and I want to introduce you to my new blog home on tumblr. It's bright, and shiny, and much more fun and interactive.

So, for new sketches, work in progress, sneak peaks on finished work available and other such goodies related to my art, please follow me on tumblr: http://jesschrysler.tumblr.com

You can also get news about my next shows, events and other fun things on my website news page: http://www.jessicachrysler.com/news

I will be keeping this blog for the time being, but if you're looking for updated happenings please see the above links!



Thursday, August 7, 2014

Summer Conference Recap from SDCC to SCBWI

This summer has been a crazy one for me. I had taken a spell off from the inter-webs to make sure that I had everything planned and prepared for the opportunities I knew were coming. Networking is the most important thing one can do when you are an artist - especially if you do not have a rep and are putting yourself out there on your own. Over the past few years I've learned a tremendous amount about myself when it comes to networking and attending functions for that purpose. I think the most important thing I have learned is that I absolutely NEED down time in between functions, and I NEED to make sure that my energies are not spent solely on one individual for the entire evening/event. As much as I like to pretend that I'm a gregarious extrovert, I'm really a quiet introvert, much rather preferring to observe than to perform in public. (This is where dance class helps! haha)

My dance class performing: Borka and the Purple Dream Dancers!
(Ya, I'm serious! lol)
So, to start off the convention season, Joe and I went to visit his family in San Francisco. I always have a lovely time there, the quiet and picturesque scenes to be had from his mother's home in the hills overlooking an inlet from the bay is pure magic. Though it wasn't much "down time" for poor Joe as he had an injury he needed to tend to, it was just what I needed to get a bit of rest and spiritual relaxation away from the everyday noise and pollution where we live. Then when we came home we literally had one day to unpack, do laundry, and repack for ComicCon in San Diego. I felt completely at ease, and very happy to have the day and a half to prepare and get ready for the Con. We also had an extra day in San Diego before the Con started, so that also helped keep the stress at bay.
View from the Townsend's
View of Mary's Garden

When ComicCon started I already had a game plan of things I needed to do. No, it wasn't standing in line to see a free concert by Weird Al (which I totally wanted to do!), but rather I made the most of my time and spent it meeting up with friends and contacts I had met at previous cons. I brought my dummy book to work on and show to my writer friends, I made sure to say hello to people I knew on the show floor at their booths, and when we went out somewhere in the evening it was to an industry event where we would meet other like minded folks. Now, this seems like a basic notion for most of you, but you would be surprised at the amount of people who go to these things with a PRO badge, and yet do not take advantage of the networking opportunities available to them. Preferring to meet up with some buddies at a bar and stand in line to buy lots of goodies on the show floor. And sometimes those people are friends of mine who complain of not having enough work, or that it's too tough to get in the industry. Yes, it is hard, but you have to do the work. All in all, it was a pleasant experience as always and I look forward to going again next year.
View from our hotel in San Diego the first night.
The very next week after ComicCon was the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators Summer Annual Conference. I'd been looking forward to this since the beginning of April this year! The venue was sold out (1235 attendees to be exact) and I was excited to meet the famous Tomie dePaola and hear Judy Blume speak. I also wanted to make it my mission to meet new people and interact as much as possible with people I knew from local events as well. Unfortunately, I was already worn down by ComicCon and stressing about my portfolio that I mostly just sat in the ballroom and tried to chat with my neighbors. I did meet some wonderful new people, especially after wards at the Illustrator Social on Friday, but I regret that I had maxed out my energy by Saturday evening and had to go home early so I could make it the next day. Though I am glad to have done so, because the next day I had to opportunity to chat with Eliza Wheeler whom I met at our first SCBWI conference together about 5 years ago. She's now an accomplished illustrator with several awards, and was kind enough to share with me her galley of the next book she'll be published as illustrator. (Congrats Eliza!)

Sketched Meg Rosoff as she was giving her keynote
on how "real life" fairytales would give kids nightmares!

As you can see in my last post here I had been working hard to complete three new paintings, and I had also written and sketched out a whole new story to include as a dummy sample. I wanted to make sure that I had prepared for the opportunity that awaited - the chance that I would meet with an Art Director (which was not a guarantee). I was so stressed about the whole thing that I had to remind myself that this is my best work, and I will only continue to improve upon it, let the chips fall where they may. So, when I got my badge on the first day I was ecstatic to find out that I had my review with Laurent Linn, the AD from Simon & Shushter! I couldn't help but feel that this was meant to be, and after the review it emboldened my confidence to continue my pursuit. Then when the showcase opened on Saturday, I felt like I won the lottery to find that ALL of my postcards were gone within the first 15 minutes. I just hope that the other ADs and agents were able to grab one before they were gone!

Sketched Judy Blume as she spoke:
"Do not let anyone discourage you; get angry, not depressed!
Determination is key."

The keynotes and lectures were amazing, and very informative. I decided to mix it up between YA and picture books, writing and illustrating. I think though the one that brought me closest to tears was Stephen Chobosky (The Perks of Being a Wallflower), when he was telling his story about how he came to writing and encouraging everyone to find that voice inside them, even the small and quiet, to tell the story that will make a difference in someone else's life because it's also what you went through. I do believe the gal next to me thought I was a little crazy, but I had to wipe my eyes. It reminded me why I was there in the first place, why I thoroughly believe that children's books is what I was meant to write/illustrate, because my story is akin to so many other kids' stories out there that are underrepresented, that are suffering, that are trying so hard not to lose hope in the face of extreme obstacles. That all that matters is the heart of the story, the emotion and the experience, which is a universal experience none the less. It was also the reason why, throughout the rest of the whole conference I knew why it felt like home, and I could always feel the smile on my face. Next year though, I think it might be wise for me to room in the hotel...that way I can get more rest and have more time getting to know new people!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Update on Projects

I just wanted to share my projects with you, as I know it seems like I've been hiding these last few months. I've been quite busy bouncing around from show to show, and getting ready for the SCBWI Summer Conference has been the biggie. I've spent much of my time the last two/three months planning, organizing, sketching and deliberating on projects to complete and finalize, to put in the showcase. (I also have a one-on-one, but the showcase is the real deal with everyone looking!) My goal was to create three to four new pieces in the style that I've been using on the last book I worked on, A Word to Rhyme with Orange. I've gotten the process of making the paintings down to an absolute science and have only been able to get faster with every new piece! That, my friends, is exciting and surely a sign of doing something right! I really want to take some video and share with you, but haven't the proper equipment or a helper for when I am working to do it for me. But...for the time being pictures will have to do.

For the pieces I've come up with ideas for a new take on some old classics. One of them being Wynken, Blynken, and Nod. The other being inspired by an old Norse tale, East of the Sun, West of the Moon. For Blynken and Nod, I thought, wouldn't it be fun if the boys were not actually all one boy, but friends that go on an adventure during a slumber party! So I drew not one, but three little boys riding around on a boat collecting the stars in the sky. For East of the Sun, West of the Moon, I did a little research to see if it had been redone recently, and to see what other views people had for this story. Turns out that not very many people have actually illustrated or have done a retelling of this story, so I thought that it would be neat to take it back to its roots. I also have somewhat of an obsession with native and migratory cultures, and with a little research I came to find that there are actually "native peoples" of northern Europe, called the "Sami." They have beautiful textiles and are just drop dead gorgeous people, live in the northern most areas, and are the sole herders of reindeer! Way cool! Then putting two and two together, it just made sense that the Norse folktale would have a Sami girl as the main character.
Sketch for East of the Sun, West of the Moon
So as of right now, I'm working on the finished painting of the sketch above and have done the rough draft for a new story....shhhh...that's still secret! With about a month to go, I actually only have three weeks left to finish everything since I'll be at ComicCon the week before! Eeek! For upcoming posts I'm thinking about divulging some info on oil painting and best practices, if you have any thoughts or questions about my work or process I'd sure love to hear them!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Social Media Madness

Today's siren call for most individuals' lies in our handheld devices. You've probably even heard them call out to you in a multitude of dings, bells and musical cuckoo sounds. Audibly poking at your psyche. Well, besides all that, I want to talk to you more about the aspect of how this stuff works for the artist, graphic designer, crafter and other creative individual trying mightily to command their public's attention at any given moment.

I was introduced into this maddening sphere of notifications from infinite sources while employed for a web development firm, whose sole purpose was to gain its client's numbers by way of followers, email lists, e-commerce, so on and so forth. Any kind of virtual ROI was up for grabs, and often times it felt like I was selling snake-oil due to the overall inconsistency of the world wide web. New sites were popping up everyday that claimed to have innumerable followers and trendsetting interactive features to garner your fans' attention and money. Even five years later, this still seems to be the case. Although there are a handful of successful and engaging sites that can lead to larger numbers. It's all in a matter of knowing your audience.


Facebook

Facebook, the perennial social media hub. It's where we play games, share pictures, website links and other general stuffs. It's also a commercial war zone, loaded with advertisements and video clips inserted into individual news feeds to attract potential buyers. The scary part about it all is that these advertisements are "smart ads" and are shown to people logged into their account based on their profile preferences, friends lists, and other demographic information. If you've ever paid for a "boost" you'd know that you can pinpoint a highly specific group of people to the letter. Though this will not necessarily give you the biggest bang for your buck. 

While you do need to know who to send it out to, you need to know what it is you are selling and to the fringe audience it could sell to as well. Taking that into consideration, how do you find out who that audience is? Is it your mom? Your friends? Your local soccer enthusiasts? Possibly... In order to discover this, you must first create a fan/business page, make a few postings about your product (or your work) and invite all your friends - ALL your friends, yes I also mean that kid from Elementary that friended you and you don't even remember them. You can also place an ad for your page, but you still need to know who your audience is first. The coolest part about having a Fan page is that it will give you metrics and demographics of people that like your page in a simple chart/graph format that you can then utilize in placing advertisements. It will even tell you the time of day when you get the most interaction from your followers than at any other time - this bit is probably the most useful because it translates well to other forms of media sharing, like mailing lists.

Keeping all this in mind, there is also a specific demographic that uses Facebook. Wait, it's not everybody?? Yes, it is definitely not everybody - despite what the media folk are trying to tell you. If your demographic is not between the ages of 16 and 65, with ease of access to the internet, and not phobic of sharing personal information, then Facebook should not be the only place you advertise. Not only because of this margin of demographic, but also because of the many changes to the algorithms over the years Facebook has made it virtually impossible for even your Fans to see the information you post unless you pay to "boost" everything, and even then there is no guarantee. Still, it is essential to utilize their metrics and keep a sounding board on this site.

Twitter

Twitter is another, "old school" platform for social media. This site has a very narrow demographic of individuals as it leans towards the tech-savvy 25-45 year old adults that use it heavily. It is essentially used to express thoughts in news bite form, making posts truncated or making the reader click through to engage in your topic.  This is a great site for figureheads, celebrities, and writers, but not so much for people that need to share lots of visuals all the time.* It is also very easy to get lost in the stream of posts and replies, as the ease of posting is definitely there with the ability to tag the topic/interest, it's not quite as easy to filter and identify actionable topics. Especially if your audience is not as inclined to dig for the needle in the technological haystack.

*Edit: Since the rumor surrounding Facebook utilizing your microphone to gather data on your phone, I switched to using this platform more frequently. Twitter has since upgraded it's capability to show visuals and have a more graphic friendly UI than they've had in the past. Though without the proper tagging, etc it is still easy to get "lost in the crowd".

Instagram

While launching about 4 years after it's parent company Facebook, it definitely shows it's age as the demographic is primarily composed of young adults and teens 13+. There is also a wealth of older Facebook users that also post and socialize here. It is a great cross-over platform and allows for the user to be a bit more creative with their photos. It is now viewed as the ubiquitous photo editing program and engages users with large images in their feeds. This is the ultimate site for audience building for visual creative professionals. Hash-tagging allows outside users to easily find you in the search function and it also utilizes a "newest post" algorithm that pushes images out to every user who views the "Discover" page, much like Pinterest does. Though I am still new to the nuances of how this site works, it seems like the best of a few platforms that have already been available to the public for quite some time. There are no limits to the amount of posts and you can advertise freely by creating graphic images to post - I just wish there was an easier way to post from a desktop!


Pinterest

Pinterest is a form of digital scrapbooking, and with this in mind draws a similar type of audience. It allows for infinite collecting of images and sharing of information between users. If you are a graphic artist of any kind, I'm sure you've used it to help gather information for mood-boards. It seems to have a mostly female demographic, as the top boards always shows "weddings" and "baby" ideas. Though it can be useful to most anyone. There is an unwritten "best-practices" sort of guideline that you should leave the credit/information of the image in the comment section stay if you re-pin. Otherwise things are mostly fair game, and their system for categorizing helps other people find you and your boards with relative ease. There's just so much on there that, much like Twitter, it is easy to get lost unless you already have a large following.


Artist Websites: DeviantArt, Behance, etc

There has been a rise in portfolio sites for artists over the last few years. Free and paid alike. The best ones are free, though there is a TON of competition. The competition factor has its pros and cons, it's what made CGHub the largest and most reliable source for art directors in the entertainment industry to pull talent from. Though you were only seen if you were on the front page. With the tremendous amount of people out there doing creative work, it is almost imperative to be on at least one of these sites and contribute to it regularly. You will gain followers by being friendly and sharing critiques, which is much easier than trying to pay per view. Though the audience that frequents these sites are usually solely other artists, so no selling of wares here, other than showing off what you can do. There are other sites like theiSpot, ChildrensBookIllustration.com, and a variety of others that ask the artist for a sum of money to showcase their work (usually of a certain genre). The money factor does pare down the competition, but make sure you do your research about the best one as not all websites like these are created equal.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn is among the top most popular social media websites, but I list this one last because of people's infrequent usage of this site. Just like Facebook, LinkedIn claims to have everyone listed as a member, and that there are more and more new people every day. Though, the people that actually spend time on this site are actually HR and contract agents. The importance of your resume on this website is above and beyond your paper resume, as this one gets seen by both real people and robots. There is limitless potential in the connections you have and make through this site, and many opportunities for freelance and contract gigs you might not acquire otherwise. Keywords are VERY important here and will determine the outcome of someone just viewing your page. Do engage in the groups that are available in your fields of interest, do invite people to add you to their list, do interact and participate in discussions you feel important, because this is the one place where people look for other professionals and money making opportunities on a regular basis. Just don't spend your whole day looking for it.


The magic sauce here is to make sure you have a presence on ALL of them, and make sure to link them back to your website, blog, storefront, social media sites, etc. Make sure that the profile names (and urls) match up, and that you create a brand by utilizing that same name across all media. The internet is about linking links together, because that's how files are accessed, shared and viewed across devices. This one thing will guarantee that your name (the one you used) shows up first in a google search for those keywords. This is the one way that will always make social media work for you - and even better if you get your friends and family to literally share your posts! 

What say you? Do you have a favorite site/method that works for you? What is the most surprising avenue of social media that has helped you gain in followers/e-commerce? 

Here are the links to my social media pages, feel free to friend and follow!


Sunday, March 2, 2014

"A Word to Rhyme with Orange" Art Show and Book Signing

I'm pleased to announce that the Show and Book Signing for "A Word to Rhyme with Orange" was a great success! I sold out of all of the books I had on hand and with such a great turn out I had barely a second to talk to everyone who came by! It was both overwhelming and a great pleasure to host so many friends, family and people whom got word about the show from other avenues. I sincerely want to thank everyone who helped me, either by helping set-up, take down or just by helping spread the word. I couldn't have done it with out you!

That being said, we are still in need of reviews of the book! If you already have a copy please leave a review on Amazon, Goodreads or on your own blog, or even on your Facebook page. We would appreciate it! If you haven't gotten your copy yet, you can buy it directly from Amazon.com here: http://amzn.com/1493767267

I also want to make a special thank you to Sandi Heath who took all the photos at the show. Here are some of the pictures for you to enjoy.



Wednesday, January 15, 2014

A Word to Rhyme with Orange


I am excited to announce the release of "A Word to Rhyme with Orange," now available for purchase on Amazon.com!

I had the pleasure of painting over 20 illustrations for this whimsically rhymed, heartfelt journey written by Matthew Wilson. It is a story that stole my heart the moment I laid eyes on the rough draft.     Though illustrating the story was something of an epic journey in itself.

A couple years ago, I had been searching for a project, and rustling up ideas of my own, to complete in a traditional style/medium. It seemed as though right at that very moment Matthew walked over to my table at WonderCon and introduced himself. After a meeting or two over coffee, Matt graciously had given me free reign in art direction and medium. I choose to dive into my past and unearth my first love - oil painting - which really only seemed fitting for the warmly romantic tone of his modern fairytale. I had to get reacquainted with my love and embrace all the quirks and challenges that come with oil painting. I took classes, painted plein air, picked people's brains about their process and read books about process. I ate, slept and drank paint...just kidding! :p In truth, nothing was more satisfying than laying down layer after layer of colored pigment in an orderly fashion to make a picture. Here are some images of the last painting as I worked on it in stages...

Clean up sketch from thumbnail

First Pass

Second Pass

about Third/Fourth Pass

Final Painting


Next month, I plan on sharing the finished pieces in an Art Show and Book Signing being held at the Los Angeles Arts Collective in Westchester, CA. It will be on Saturday February 15th, from 3 to 6 pm. Please feel free to join me in celebrating!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Sketch Update

Catching up with some house cleaning with projects today, and I have only a few paintings left to do for Orange before it goes to press! So here are some sketches I've done at the Zoo this last month while going out with Drawn West. I got a few good ones of the human species too - it's great to find places you can people watch/sketch with relative ease of anonymity!


LA Zoo
LA Zoo

And in other fabulous news... I have sold my plein air piece of the Santa Monica Pier! It was claimed in less than 4 hours after I listed it on Etsy! It now finds a happy home with a fan in North Carolina. :)  I will be listing more paintings for sale on my Etsy page in the near future, and just in time for the holidays, so follow me on Facebook or on Etsy to get a heads up! :)
jchrysler_SantaMonicaPier