Other than knowing how to sling an airbrush and wield a marker I was totally clueless at the outset of my freelance career. As I’ve written earlier my parents were not overly enthusiastic about my career choices and until my second year of college the only bona-fide artist I knew was Peninsula pioneer and Renaissance man Cotton Moore…and it didn’t get much better when I finally started studying art in college as practicalities of an designer’s life were glossed over in favor of draftsmanship and technique.
Somewhere along the line I discovered CA (Communications Arts) magazine and learned about promotions and hustling up work…which immediately started the internal Stukas tearing up my innards. Along with all sorts of naturopathic remedies I had been spoon-fed in my youth with the idea that you “didn’t shoot off your mouth about yourself”, that hard-work and professional results were the best advertisement ever and in the initial stage of my illustration career that proved to be a sound plan.
…then came the evening in late 1984 when I looked at our snug little home, my sleeping children, the moths flying out of our checkbook and realized that at my current income we’d soon be getting our mail at nsmCardboard Box 5, Under The Overpass at Exit 272 , Utah 77340
My first step was to increase my efforts showing my portfolio locally, but I also went back to CA (then subsequently Step By Step and How-To magazines ) and started researching the idea of promotional mailers. As I was living in the creative wilderness of the Intermountain West a decade before computer aided design (with printers and scanners) the process of designing/printing/distributing promotional mailers was extremely labor-intensive but I managed to churn out some nice work which in turn brought in new clients and an increase in assignments. .
Skye Boat Song was the first promotional image I sent out – the image was inspired by Gordon Dickson’s classic military science fiction novel Tactics of Mistake while the title was a pun playing off the title of one of the first bagpipe tunes I ever learned. The type was all set by hand using Letraset press-type and pairing with the image involved more work with a PS 79 Proportional Scale than should be allowed by law. As photographic prints they were a little pricey to print up, but I sent 25 out in December of 1984 followed an equal amount a month later. As a promotional mailer it wasn’t too terribly successful, but it did startle an existing client into formalizing our relationship and feeding me a LOT more work, so it definitely was one for the win column.
It seemed only natural to have a Fireball XL5 re-design as my first finished project for 2020. While I continue to adapt classic uniform details and as was the case with LT Ninety I’m changing the Professor’s back story a bit, giving him a Welsh surname which enhances the “realness” while continuing the pun (“Matthew-Madoc” vs. “Matthew-Matic”.
I’ve also given him a specific rank, which brings up an interesting point: granted this is a kids show, and a kids show from wwaayy back but even at age ten it bothered me that naval ranks were interspersed with ranks used in the army/air force/marines. With the World Space Patrol part of an integrated service maybe the source of commission determines what type of title you are given: go to Annapolis and you become an ensign upon commissioning, go to West Point and you start out as a second lieutenant
When it comes to wealth and/or physical possessions I have always tried to stay negotiable in that any amount of my money or any possession was “negotiable” if a friend or family was in need. For example during our wilderness years in Eastern Tennessee my sons could always tell when we started our Christmas shopping because it was as that point that my CD collection would start to shrink as I started selling them to finance the purchase of gifts.
I’m not nearly as generous with my work – it’s tough to let it leave my possession and I won’t sell a piece of art now without a very pressing reason…but the most difficult “departure” for me involved a piece of work that wasn’t even finished. It was twenty-five years ago and between caring for our newborn daughter Meghan and teaching an early-morning religion class My Beautiful Saxon Princess had little time for painting and had little to show for an upcoming convention. On the other hand I had three paintings started, one of which showed a lot of promise so push-over that I am I wrapped it up and put it under the tree for my sweetheart.
Not many people would start to sniffle at the sight of pencil lines on primed Masonite but then My Beautiful Saxon Princess isn’t most people. I’d gone through several overlay/steps to get the drawing just right and the underpainting I’d included neatly indicated all the lights and darks which made finishing the picture both timely and painless. The signature is different from the way either one of use routinely sign work but then it’s probably the closest to a true collaboration we’ve ever done – evidently a good thing because it both swept awards and sold immediately at the convention.
It wasn’t just the move from Alaska to Tennessee that brought about culture shock during the winter of 1990-91, it was also the collision of graphic design hipsterism with the more casual business world found in science fiction conventions. All of this playing against the backdrop of yet another artistic upheaval, namely the transition from physical hand tools like waxers and X-acto knives to the use of computers in the practice of graphic design itself.
It all felt I was trying to take just a little sip of water out of a fire hydrant but I had a family to support so I did my best to integrate new skills from the university with the solid skills I’d developed as a successful illustrator…and I had to do something: Though I’d been a full-time freelancer for a decade I was feeling real heat from new competition and figured that I needed to do a better job in promoting myself and my work.
My CATalogue project seemed to fit the bill by combining basic computer design work with rendering skills and a dash of humor to present my work in the best way possible, an approach that was made even better when marbleized paper to create hand-made book folders for presentation. Unfortunately to this day I am still trying to figure out just how effective the campaign really was. It was so labor-intensive that I only sent out two dozen books with mailings spread out over a six-week period and it was tough to make a connection between “who got a book” and “who sent work”. A few of the small press publishers in the science fiction market didn’t quite grasp what I was trying to do and returned the books, one with the damned-with-faint-praise remark that he liked the concept a lot more than he liked the art itself and it was twenty years before I tried promotions again with an equally ambitious campaign.
…well, mostly done. There’s a needed touch-up here and there and the photography leaves a bit to be desired in terms of cropping and focus, but the main goal has been achieved before 2019 ran out.
I finished “Forlorn Hope” 2.0
Close to a decade ago I put together a cut-paper sculpt very similar to this one in terms of subject matter, but that earliet work was always lacking somehow. That aesthetic shortfall was grist for more than one blog post so about a year ago I decided to do some editing…which turned into close to a complete rework – the project that wouldn’t die – and when I took my tumble down the stairs which in turn led to me flat on my back with serious knee problems I thought I’d never, ever get done.
But somehow I did, and getting it done has given me confidence – and hope that I’m not quite ready for life in a rocking chair yet.
If it seems like I haven’t been writing as much it’s because I haven’t – I’ve been caught up with fulfilling orders for my Midnight Son Kickstarter campaign and have had little time for proper word-crunching. When I do knock something it out its usually short, and short work is usually put it up on my Facebook fan page.
The page’s proper title is Fans of the Art of David R. Deitrick and it was put together by my dear friend and sometime agent Scott Taylor of Art of the Genre. I know that there is a wide range of opinions when it comes to social media, with most of the distaste brought on by the vicious political infighting that has all but supplanted the usual cute cat and Here’s-What-I-Had-For-Dinner posts but the fan page very pointedly avoids political/contentious posts. I share these blog posts with the fan page, but there is a lot of shorter – and in some instances –“funner” things going on there.
I’m very hesitant to add friends to my regular Facebook page but I’m easy-going about the Fan site, again with the assumption that we’re there to have fun and not argue.
You’re more than welcome to join.
I guess you could say that this is the last Christmas present I’ll ever get from my mom. Her estate was finally settled and after I paid off some bills my Beautiful Saxon Princess and I decided to put a little bit of the legacy into the house itself. With the first disbursement we had our space-tub (whirlpool therapy bath) installed in our master bath but this time I wanted to fulfill a fifty-year old wish.
As I’ve written before my bonus room studio bears a strong resemblance to the attic loft I grew up in back on the ranch in Sterling. As much as I loved “living on the roof” I always wished there’d been just a little bit more window space but Dad wasn’t quite confident enough to try making a skylight or dormer window so I made do with the sunlight I DID have.
… which makes it all that cooler to finally get a similar change made in my current studio. Having it adds sunlight and a cross-breeze when so desired but the change has messed with my spatial perceptions a bit. The VELUX brand window can be opened and comes equipped with two screens: one for the sun and one for the bugs. It was purchased through Home Depot and installed by Ruggle’s Realty Services based here in Clarksville, with actual installation taking about a day.
I was actually indulging one of my secret vices (“Choosing Beggers” videos by YouTube content provider RSlash ) when I stumbled onto this young man’s work about a month ago. As I watched Furze document his creations via time-lapse video I was convinced that I was seeing some rather ambitious digital work but as I’ve gone through video after video I finally realized Colin is the person that I’ve always styled myself to be: the man who can make anything.
I’d like to say that Colin is a younger version of me – a 30+ year younger version but he has twice the skill-set I do, a rather hefty sponsorship from eBay and a physical presence I can only aspire to (think Bryan Adams with a Lincolnshire accent.) His life is the most compelling argument for young people to actively consider going into the trades as opposed to incurring crippling debt for a college degree.
I’m including just one of these video clips but there are plenty more to choose from.
It has been one if those days. Somewhere between all the text on my Facebook turning into Spanish and a tub of Bondo tipping over and spilling in my studio cabinet I sat down with my markers and worked up a color version of Robert(a)
It seems only fitting that given the state of our current social/political world a little bit of gender-bending is in order for the synthetic member of the Fireball XL5 crew. As it is there’s plenty of room for change as Robert’s appearance was pretty bland to begin with and once you substitute Sylvia for Sir Gerry in the dialog department the aesthetic opportunities are almost limitless.
The biggest challenge would be to establish a feminine appearance without taking the Benny Hill route and resorting to chrome-plate T&A. Effective feminization required some basic research into the way evolution has hard-wired men to respond to feminine curves (hint: child-bearing and survival) and how that principle would apply to into cybernetic lifeforms (Hey Bay-bee! Will ya look at the power-cells on that one!) Just make sure that while studying the subject you DO NOT blindly Google “sexy robots” as the results will be most definitely NSFW.
However, if you were to type the name Hajime Sorayama to the search parameters you’ll find examples of sleek feminine form combined with gleaming chrome and streamlined automotive styling that made this Japanese artist the king of the sexy-robot field in the 1980s. He, along with the equally talented British artist Phillip Castle were powerful influences on airbrush artists and other illustrators of that decade but to be totally honest my inspiration was an artist whose work was popular even earlier than that.
His name was Russ Manning and he was a phenomenal illustrator who was tragically cut down in his fifties by Mean OId Mister Cancer. In the Sixties Manning bounced back and forth between advertising work and penciling Tarzan, Korak: Son of Tarzan and Brothers of the Spear for first Dell then Gold Key Comics but my personal favorite was Magnus: Robot Fighter , a kind of Tarzan-of-the-future who relied on martial arts (and the most totally bitching white go-go boots ever) to combat hordes of robotic enablers intent on weakening of humanity into a form of comfortable servitude.
Manning was a master of figure drawing and could draw a better figure with five lines than I could with fifty but was equally adept with mechanical figures prompting me to shamelessly hork the grace and form of his cybernetic aesthetic in every robot or android I’ve drawn … to include Robert(a)
One other important change: Robert was constructed out of Plexiglas but I’ve gone with an opaque exterior. It came to me that being able to see all Roberta’s inner, circuits, wires and structural components would be much like looking at my Beautiful Saxon Princess’s face and seeing all of the blood vessels, bones and sinus membranes under her skin…and while the ensuing suppressed gag reflex had me quickly changing my design I’ve had to work hard at keeping that yucky image out of my mind
…just like you will now be doing for the rest of this day!