Who, What, Where, When and Why? I do not know.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Did you know you can add Google Analytics to your Facebook Page?

Have you ever wished you could have as much detail about visits to your Fan page on Facebook as you can with your web page using Google Analytics?

Now you can! A web development company in london has developed a workaround to Facebook's limited java script and has come up with a clever way to allow any box or tab utilizing Static FBML, to be connected to Google Analytics! I tried it yesterday, and it really does work!

Facebook's insights is rather limited in it's information, while Google Analytics shows you tons of info that you can review and make decisions on how to tweek your content to maximize viewer participation. Check out this post  for more information. If all that was as clear as mud, drop me a line and I'll see if I can help you out!

The Sketchbook Project: UPDATE

About a week ago, I posted a bit about The Sketchbook Project. I received my Sketchbook in the mail yesterday. It's a bit smaller than I had anticipated, but it's pretty cool. It even has my own UPC code on the back! I have my own card from the Brooklyn Library, too! I chose the subject "Nighttime stories". I have a great idea for the book. Now, I hope I have the time to work on it! Go check it out!

MOAR news!
I've been shaking the bushes trying to find some illustration work and I have a couple of things that I think are going to pan out. One is a for sure project that I am really excited about! I'll have more news when I am able to share! In the meantime, if you need some art or design for a project, or help on anything really, drop me a line at darelliott@darrylelliott.com. Connect with me on Facebook, Twitter and Linked In. All the buttons and stuff are on the blog and my Wibiya toolbar!

Here's a sketch for a challenge on CGHUB. I probably won't have time to finish it but, I thought it was funny.

Till next time! Keep it real!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Ang Gouy. Works In Progress.

I love the creative process! I enjoy looking through other artist's sketch books because I feel that's where the raw, embyronic creativity begins. Only when the vision becomes placed on the page, does it truly begin to live.

I also enjoy it when artists post up a WIP, or Work In Progress. The most well attended panels I ever had at conventions were my demos. I would have about an hour to sketch an idea and then take it to as finished as possible.

Ang Gouy is a very accomplished graphite artist who regularly posts his works in progress. I really enjoy seeing how a piece develops and how each artist works from beginning to end.

Take a couple of minutes to visit Ang's Facebook Page or his Deviant Art Page. His beautiful portraits will pull you in and you will be entranced! His wonderful Grace Kelly is just the beginning!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Do you use social media when looking for new clients?

Hi all,
Years ago, it was enough to to lug your portfolio around and show it to every AD and company you could get it in front of. If you were lucky enough to have an artist's rep do it for you, then you probably have already paid those early dues! I think the majority of illustrators don't make enough to justify having a full time rep. Maybe I am totally off base on this. I have been looking at a lot of websites that rep artists or where you pay to have a portfolio on their site, and I simply can't afford them. There are a lot of opportunities and places on the net where you can post up your work for free and join in the forums and participate. I've mentioned several here before. ArtOrder, CGHUB, ConceptArt.org and many others.

For me, social media is a very fertile ground for generating leads. I have made numerous contacts using my Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn accounts and this weblog. They are solid foundation to work from. Nothing happens overnight though, and it takes a lot of work to put your name out there, develop relationships, build trust and then land projects. All the applications you need are out there and usually at no cost to you, which is good. You just need to be able to put a little time and effort into it.

I'm testing out this little wibiya toolbar that appears at the bottom of my weblog. I like it's cool features like being able to follow on Twitter, fan on Facebook or view some images from a slide show from Flikr, all without leaving my site. That's pretty awesome.

Check out the wibiya site and look at all the features and add ons you can have on your bar. Oh yeah, it's FREE. Nice. I'm all about the free stuff.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Some New Old Art!

Derek and Brandy Spraker are friends of mine that I've known and loved for quite a while. They're partly responsible for putting together Libertycon, one of the many great southern cons we have here in the States. They, along with many, many others have been major supporters of me over the years, purchasing my art and letting me be a guest numerous times. I even got to be the Master of Ceremonies once! I haven't been able to attend the convention in the past several years due to other circumstances, but maybe 2011 will prove to be the year we get to return to our favorite convention.

I had asked for people who owned some of my art to post up some on Facebook. Derek has a motherload, some from my very first projects from the early 1990's. It was a trip down memory lane and I am glad he has some of the pieces he does. I know they will be taken care of!

Check out a lot of Derek and Brandy's collection on my Facebook Fan Page. Become a Fan and check out  Derek and Brandy's Collection Album from the photo's tab!

Till next time, keep it real!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

The Sketchbook Project.

The Sketchbook Project: 2011

This is amazingly cool. Just check it out and sign up. I am! It looks like a blast!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Set Up Your Social Media Diamond

Hi All,
I really like social media. I don't claim to be an expert by any stretch of the imagination, but my experience in advertising still kicks in every once in a while and free advertising is a good thing. Social Media Marketing = Free Advertising.

There are a lot of great things about social media marketing, not only for the big companies but for anyone.

The Old Spice campaign has proved social media can be very successful.

Well, that's fine and good for corporations with deep pockets and a fancy schmancy ad agency. I want to focus on what you, as an individual, can do.

What social media marketing brings to the table for a small company or an individual is huge! Without a bunch of gimmicks and with a little bit of work, you can increase you web presence and expand your contact base within a pretty small time window and with minimal expense.

If you are looking to jump on this whirling merry-go-round of social media without being spun off into oblivion, there's a pretty easy way to set up your social media diamond quickly. This diamond can then be the launching point for more endeavors later. By beginning with these core components, you'll have a solid base to start jumping from.

With so much information and opportunities available, you can quickly find yourself bogged down and overwhelmed, trying to do too much too quickly and then getting nothing accomplished.

Strip away all the thousands of social networking sites and opportunities, and you're really left with the three most effective. Facebook, Twitter and Linked In. Having a unified profile across all three platforms is a great place to begin. I made the mistake of having a lot of miss matched information from the three sites, and have since gone back and changed all my profiles so they are more consistent.

Start a weblog with Wordpress or Blogger. I actually prefer Blogger because you don't have to download anything, the hosting is free and if you want your own domain, it's really inexpensive and you get all sorts of little perks from google. You can do as little or as much as you want with your weblog. It's pretty easy to figure out you can get it to do as much as an expensive web site or storefront, but with zero cost. I like that.

Then you tie them all together. It's super easy to get all of your platforms to link to each other. Each account should offer links to each other. Once you have all the bare essentials in place, it's time to start expanding! That's for another article.

It takes even more time to turn those contacts into contracts.

Until next time, keep it real!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

More Amazing Art

Hi All,

I work a lot in graphite. I have a love for all things pencil and when I come across another graphite artist that I enjoy, I just have to share!

Andrew Read is a a welsh artist who specializes is portrait work. He has a great style and he really captures the likenesses of his subjects. I especially love the way he handles eyes. The viewer is drawn right to them!

He is available for commissions and has some limited edition prints, too!

Check out Andrews Facebook Page and spend some time looking through all his outstanding work! Don't forget to 'like' his page while you are there!

Till next time, keep it real!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Do you struggle with this?

Sometimes when I work on a painting, it just doesn't seem to come together at all. This was one of those paintings. In a previous article, I talked about CGHB, the awesome people there, the awesome art and the awesome ongoing challenges they have all the time. I've only had time to do the Creature Planets Challenge a couple of times.

This creature to the left is a piece submitted a couple of days ago. It's a Pygmy Esorifleu. If you want to know all about Pygmy Esorifleu's, head on over and check it out.

There were 16 entries in addition to mine, and they are all really good. I love these challenges because the push me to do things I otherwise would not do. 

This little guy really annoyed me when I was painting it though. It just never really seemed to come together. I didn't really get into any sort of rhythm and every aspect of it gave me trouble. Even when I posted it for the challenge, I didn't feel comfortable with it. 

A lot of times, the ideas come hard and fast, but somewhere along the line, the execution gets all jumbled up and the end result is less than what one originally envisioned. Not only in art, but writing, business or any endeavor. 

Does that ever happen to you? 
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Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Seelie Players

The Seelie Players is a traveling entertainment group that consists of a rotating cast of dancers, models, actors, and gymnasts. 

On the ground, walking among humans, these creatures are the epitome of grace, strength, and ethereality; in the air on their cloud swing--even more so. Their act is something that is meant to be experienced, not just seen. If you are willing to let go of your ties to reality, you will be transported to a different place.

My beautiful daughter, Tegan spends her adventurous life travelling around the country doing various Renaissance Festivals. Currently she is at the Bristol Renaissance Faire as one of the Fantastikals, characters that roam the festival, interacting with the public. There are a few of them and are always a big hit at the show. 

Of course, Tegan is the best one!

I'm proud of her! Become a fan on Facebook!!! 

If you would like an unusual and unique act for your next gathering, themed business meeting or retreat, party or what have you. The Seelie Players will certainly make it unique!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The Most Awesomest Thing Ever!

I've often wondered what the most awesomest thing ever was and now this website will tell me.

The site pits two items, celebrities, concepts or whatever against each other in a never ending search to find out what the most awesomest thing  ever is! It has some pretty funny match ups sometimes.

Right now, Life is ranked number one, which is good. The Internet is ranked number two and oxygen is ranked three! That really says a lot about how humans view things these days. The internet more awesome than oxygen? I don't know. I can live without the Internet. It's pretty hard surfing the web when you're DEAD! Unless you're a zombie, which probably ranks pretty high on the awesomness scale.*

If there is something you think should be considered for the most awesomest thing ever, you can submit it!
I'm just waiting for someone to hack the site and make something really lame like, earthworms or BP, the most awesomest thing ever.

Good site to waste a few minutes on, or a few hours.

*UPDATE: Zombies were 174th.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Contacts Into Contracts

I am an independent contractor. I am not a freelancer. Freelancing has a bad vibe these days. Several years ago, I didn't mind being called a freelancer. It was like a badge of honor. Being a rogue freelancer was like being a specter in the night, ready to pounce and rescue people in need of something they themselves could not provide. The explosion of the available talent pool coupled with the implosion of fees, means you have to do much more than simply be good enough. You have to stand out from the rest. That means getting out there.

I'm not going to find any work sitting on my hands bemoaning the fact I don't have any work.

I've been busier in the past few days than I have been in the past few weeks. I have a lot of leads, and contacts and try to find  more each day. I network, I put myself out there, I get involved. I meet people. I tweet, I FB, I blog, I link, I backlink, I stumbleupon, I digg, I research, I chat, I learn and I still have to find time to work on the art side.

There have been days where I feel I'm wasting my time and nothing is going to happen. My shoulder, neck and butt hurt. My wrists are sore from working on my art and the computer. But, in the long run, it will pay off. Some of those contacts are turning into contracts. I have had to get out of the "I'm going to illustrate full time" mentality and offer up multiple services. I do want to illustrate full time again, but I'm realizing this is not going to happen fast enough.  I've had to go back to the advertising repertoire and pull out old tricks from there. But, that's OK. I see the long term potential. I am actually sort of afraid. The amount of work that could suddenly come my way in next few weeks and months has the potential to overwhelm me and take me into a direction I really wasn't looking to go.

If you're an independent contractor and struggling to find work. Hang in there. If you're in a full time job and you'd rather become an independent contractor, weigh the pros and cons carefully. There is nothing better than having the flexibility and freedom of working for yourself, but there is a lot of stress and, I feel, may be more work involved than just getting out there and rolling 9 to 5.

Till next time. Keep It Real!

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Monday, July 12, 2010

Stomping Zombie Shaman

Hi All!
Just wanted to stop in and post up my latest illustration. It's a Zombie. Not just any zombie, a SHAMAN zombie. It's got sticks for legs and it's in a swamp. How can you go wrong with that?

If you like it, leave a comment or something. I don't have any comments and I know people look at the site because my stats tell me so. I don't click on my own site THAT much!

Feeling kind of crazy!

Saturday, July 10, 2010


Hi All! I really don't have too much to say about this other than it's almost the coolest thing ever. They say if you have enough money, you could get almost anything and if I had enough money, I'd get me a few of these.

Robosteel is in Ireland, but they will ship anywhere in the world. All their sculptures are made from recycled steel and welded.

They do have some smaller pieces for sale. I like the ALIEN and Predator sculptures the most. Although the 8 feet tall, 1,213 lb. Optimus Prime is nice.

Pretty friggin' SWEEEEETTTT!

Friday, July 9, 2010

When is Social Media going to implode?

I like Social Media.

I like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and Blogging. I like the way social media presents a totally FREE platform where "independent contractors" like myself can market themselves, share ideas, meet other people and network. Networking is vital in order to turn contacts into contracts. Armed with a few effective tools, an individual can make a presence on the web and get their name, face and product in front of potentially millions of people with little to no out of pocket expense. I got darrylelliott.com for ten dollars. Sometimes, by sheer chance and stupidity you can go viral, like the numanuma dance, dramatic chipmunk (which is really a prairie dog) or Chocolate Rain. Fast Company has recently launched The Influence Project which has gotten a little bit of criticism for appearing to force a concept to go viral. I signed up for it out of curiosity. It has quite a few bugs to work out and it may just be me, but the site is laggy as all get out. When I sign in via my Facebook account, I show up as Cheryl Weigert?

The way social media works is a far cry from traditional advertising, not only in the marketing strategies behind it, but in the variety of outlets. The staggering number of social media sites available is becoming overwhelming! Just look at the number of  locations where you can share a blog post via the share it button. Over 300!

How big is this balloon and how far will it expand before it explodes? Are there enough people interested in The Acme Widget Factory to justify a social presence everywhere? I look at it as a big experiment right now. A lot of people are putting out a lot of sites to see what hits and what misses. Of course, everyone is looking to make a buck at it, and there will always be the snake oil salesmen promising something for nothing or at a reasonable 900 dollars. If  I had 900 bucks to throw away, I certainly wouldn't do it on a sales pitch from the internet!

I am by no means an expert, but it looks to me there may be backlash waiting around the corner. There may be a day of reckoning for many a social networking outlet. Personally, I  don't have time enough to dedicate to every new site that pops up overnight. A day may be coming when the young and craggy social media mountain will be ground down to peaceful rolling hills.

Till next time, Keep It Real.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

CGHUB Challenge!

Saturday, I posted a bit about the awesome CGHUB site and got some shout outs tossed my way, which was a pleasant surprise, so thanks to Shane and the good folks at CGHUB! They encourage participation in their challenges and Jams like,  2D drawing Jams, 3D Jams, Storytellers and Creature Planets. Now they have a new one! CharacterForge! Check out the info, it's gonna be good!

I worked up a piece for Creature Planets, and the challenge is now open for voting! Never being one to shy away from shameless self-promotion, I ask you go look at all the entrants, which are all awesome, and no matter how you feel about the other illustrations...VOTE FOR ME!

Heh, just kidding. Vote for who you feel is the best! Of course, I did vote for myself. Who wouldn't? At least I'll have 'A' Vote! :)! That's an update for now. May post up something else later! Keep it Real!

Monday, July 5, 2010

Disturbing Trends In Independent Contracting

I started out in advertising, doing paste up. I worked for a mid sized agency and worked my way up to Senior Art Director pretty quickly. About once a year, inquiries would come in from all the art school graduates for reviews. I didn't go to art school, I started at the agency when I was eighteen and by the time I was 21, I was second only to the Creative Director. These graduates would come in, most of them older than I, and I'd look at their books. I recall more than one instance where some one would beg for a project and even offer to work for free on the first job! That always bugged me.

When I began doing illustration on the side, this mentality continued to show itself. I don't know how many times I heard an artist tell a potential client, they would work for free just to get published! Face palm. Not only does this make it difficult to dig yourself out of a hole, it makes it harder for all artists to get a decent amount of pay for the work they provide.

I was a full time illustrator for a several years until the gaming market crashed back 90's. I had to go out and get a 'real' job. Now, being unemployed again, I'm trying to reestablish, reintroduce and rebrand myself. In addition to looking for another 'real' job (whatever that means), I've been looking around on the interwebs for some additional contract work outside of the sci-fi, fantasy field. I figured I could maybe snag a couple of jobs here and there while I looked for other opportunities. What I've been seeing is really sort of sad.

In my opinion, sites like Odesk and Freelancer actually hurt the market more than help it. In perusing the job lists, I am astounded at the amount of work people want done and the paltry amount of money they will pay for it! I actually saw one posting where a company was looking for someone to work 7 hours a day for 5 days every week and they were going to pay 1 to 3 dollars per hour! They also wanted DAILY updates sent to them, probably just to make sure you were working hard for that chicken feed!

I've been telling aspiring artists this for years. DON'T work for nothing! It hurts everyone!

Rant of the Week......

Saturday, July 3, 2010

CGHUB! Artists sharing knowledge from everywhere!

CGHUB, is The social network for professionals in entertainment - Animation,  Movies, Visual Effects, Games, Illustration, Concept Artists, and more. If you make cool stuff, join us!

I have fallen in love with this site! The amount of talent there is unbelievable. Their landing page is enough to make you want to pick up your art supplies and create. When you hit the front page, you'll see dozens of tiny thumbnails. Just pick one, any one, it doesn't matter. I guarantee, you will be taken to an artist who's work you will enjoy and quite possibly have even seen in your favorite video game or blockbuster movie!

If you want, you can make your profile with your own personal gallery of art work, your work experience and projects you've worked on. Right away, I jumped in! There's usually a challenge going on where everyone is encouraged to join. Right now, there's a 2D Drawing Jam featuring CTHULHU. Artists are invited to share their interpretation of this classic baddy. It's all very friendly, and every artist is more than willing to share and offer kudos, crits and advice.

The scariest forum is also the most helpful. It's so fantastic, it has it's own huge banner on the front page. It's called The Paintover Thread and it was started by CGHUB Moderator Juto, Justin Oaksford. Here, if you have an illustration you're working on and you've got tired eyes and you're looking for a different direction, or something just isn't quite right, or you have a finished painting and you're looking for some advice, Juto and other artists will do a paintover. If you're unfamiliar with that, another artist (or sometimes several) will take the image you posted and literally, paint over it, and will repost suggestions and changes they have made. 

Being the adventuresome sort and having a piece that's been on my hard drive for a couple of months where I was just deadlocked and didn't like where it was going, I posted it up in the paintover thread.

I was really unhappy with it the way it was, and I hoped I could get some feedback on it and boy, did I ever!

Justin's first paintover was an immediate improvement and, there was a bitter pill I had to swallow that went along with it.

I mean, look at that!!!! That's gorgeous! 

I have always struggled with color. Just because I was so comfortable with black and white and had really rested upon that skill set to get me started in the field, I never really had to do much color work. Even so, I did manage to provide quite a bit of color pieces, a lot of advertising illustrations, some covers, dozens and dozens of collectible card pieces,and the like, but I always knew it was my Achille's Heel. It really showed in this piece.

I took the suggestions and revamped it. Already, I was feeling much better about it, but still, it lacks the spontaneity and solid confidence of his first paint over. Since I thought the piece was coming along pretty ok, I decided to submit it again. Hopefully, some definite improvements could be seen and darn, if he didn't do it to me again!

Not only did he flip it, he made it better again! 
There is some serious talent at CGHUB and I really love the way every one is active, friendly and more than willing to share their expertise and have a bit of fun along the way! CHECK IT OUT!

Friday, July 2, 2010

Spectacular Art!

The internet is a truly amazing place and with the current buzz being  Web 2.0, it has exploded into a giant social phenomenon!
Never before has the world been so interconnected!
The amount of spectacular artwork I've come across is mind boggling!  Before Facebook, Twitter, FourSquare, Blogging and (insert your favorite social media application here), artists could have a website, where you could go and look at their work, but you could never really connect to them. Today, the social media explosion has allowed us all to connect almost instantly and actually become closer and learn from each other.

It takes a lot to impress me when it comes to pencil art.
Veri Apriyatno, pictured here, is one who has impressed me the most. Not only is he extremely talented, he is willing to share with others his techniques, materials and even other artists work. His Facebook Page, Drawing Pencil has over ten thousand fans (of which I am enthusiastically one!) and he regularly updates his albums with OTHER pencil artists! To me, he exemplifies  what art is all about, sharing, learning, and exploring!

Get a cup of your favorite beverage and take a trip to Jakarta, Indonesia and spend time marveling at Veri's work! Don't forget to like it, because I surely do!