Monday, July 27, 2015

I'm gonna do a Kickstarter!!


I'm planning to run a Kickstarter for a book containing all of my Ladies of Kirk drawings. The Kickstarter should launch in early August - you can sign up here to get an email notification as soon as it launches! In the meantime, I'll share my preparations for the campaign with you guys on this blog. (Similar to my Preparing for an Art Show series that I did two years ago, remember that?)


A mockup of the cover!

Although my husband and I ran a Kickstarter for our game Crea three years ago, this is my first art-based Kickstarter and I am nervous. I think it's because it has a definite possibility of failure. Usually, if you post artwork online, it can't really "fail." It can be ignored, in which case you just tell yourself to give it time and eventually you'll be noticed. But a Kickstarter, well, that can definitely fail, and that failure would be immortalized on the Kickstarter website forever. Like Han Solo encased in carbonite, except digital. And Princess Leia can't kiss the internet and make it melt, can she? (I'm a little fuzzy on details when it comes to Star Wars)

Whatever. Let's just do this.

I know a lot about Kickstarter, and about how to put together a solid campaign. However, the success of Ladies of Kirk probably depends on my ability to bring it to the attention of Star Trek fans. I've been doing my own research, but if you have ideas for any other places where Trekkies congregate, I'd love to hear them. I could use your help and support!

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Traditional vs. Self-Publishing: What Illustrators Need to Know


Almost every illustrator I've talked to has been contacted at some point by self-published authors looking for artwork. The self-publishing market is growing into a force to be reckoned with, so it's important that illustrators understand what it's all about.

Many people think that self-publishing and traditional publishing are the same thing, because they both use the word "publishing." The truth is that they are totally different. Here's a basic breakdown:

  • In traditional publishing, the publisher pays for all costs and takes on all the work of producing the book.
  • In self-publishing, the author pays for all costs and takes on all the work of producing the book.


Traditional publishing is when a publishing company chooses to purchase an author's manuscript. They bring on an entire team of professionals - editors, marketers, designers, art directors and others - who transform that manuscript into a sleek, shiny product. They handle the creation of e-book versions, audiobook versions and foreign translations. They work with printers, distributors and booksellers. And - most importantly for you - the publisher, not the author, hires and works with the illustrator. The publisher pays for everything, and the author receives a small percentage of the sales.

This sounds like a pretty sweet deal, right? It is. The bad news is that, for authors or illustrators, it can be very difficult to get noticed by a publisher. It's simply a very competitive market, with thousands of creatives all around the world competing for the attention of editors, art directors and agents.

Some writers turn to self-publishing out of frustration with this system.


Self-publishing is when the author pays to have their book printed by a printing company. Or, the author assembles the book as a PDF and sells it in e-book form.

Editing, proofreading, design, marketing and distribution are up to the author. If they have the money, they may choose to hire freelance editors, designers and illustrators. Or they may attempt to save money by tackling every aspect of the production themselves.

Some of the benefits to self-pub are that the author has complete control over the book, the book can be produced more quickly, and the author keeps more of the profits. The biggest drawback is that most self-pub books sell very, very few copies. They have a reputation for appearing amateur, under-edited and poorly designed. Bookstores and libraries refuse to carry them, and major book reviewers will not review them, so getting a book into the public spotlight is a major challenge for all self-pub authors.


I hope I've clarified how these two types of publishing are actually completely different processes.

As SCBWI (The Society of Children's Book Illustrators) puts it, self-publishing "is primarily for a book that will have a limited, personal audience." Many artists use self-publishing to create their own comics, zines and sketchbooks to sell online and at shows. (For example, my personal artbook!) Self-publishing can be one of many streams of income that artists can use to build our businesses.

It's pretty safe to say that very few authors and even fewer illustrators make their living purely off of self-publishing. However, many people are still under the impression that self-publishing is an easy, instant substitute for traditional publishing. Once you start advertising yourself online as an illustrator, you will eventually be contacted by aspiring writers who have over-inflated ideas of self-publishing's money-making potential, and under-inflated ideas of how much illustrators charge. Don't be surprised if they offer you very low rates for your work, or even ask you to work for free. (Please don't work for free.)

Now that you understand how self-publishing works, you can make a more informed decision about which commissions to take on.

Additional resources:

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

A Woman Washes Jesus' Feet


This is an illustration I did for Lifeway's Explore the Bible curriculum for Sunday Schools. I've done many Bible scenes for this series over the past year, but this is one of my favorites.


In this scene, Jesus is having dinner with some religious leaders when a "sinful woman" (no further explanation on who she was) crashes the party and starts washing Jesus' feet. In Hebrew culture, it was customary to have your servants wash a guest's feet. However, instead of using water and towels, this woman washes Jesus' feet with her hair and her tears. The religious leaders are scandalized. But Jesus reprimands them and says to the woman, "Your sins are forgiven. Go in peace."


This is a very emotional scene, so I really wanted to do a good job of it. And that means taking my own photo references!


And my best imitation of a scandalized Pharisee:



I also made some crying faces in the bathroom mirror, for references for the woman's expression, but no way am I posting those online. No one needs to see that.

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By the way, I am moving the Ladies of Kirk posts to their own Tumblr, so that I don't over-run this illustration blog with my Trekkieness. If you like the Ladies of Kirk, don't worry, I'm still making them! I'm just posting them on Tumblr now. I am also posting them on Deviantart if you prefer to follow there.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Ladies of Kirk: Lt. Areel Shaw

Lt. Areel Shaw
Episode 14: Court Martial
An aggressive and professional lawyer, Lt. Areel Shaw has been assigned to prosecute at Captain Kirk's court martial. Despite their past relationship and warm friendship, Lt. Shaw does her duty and charges him of willfully causing the death of a crewmember. Her case is devastating, using even the testimonies of Kirk's closest friends to make him seem like a vindictive murderer. It takes Spock's cunning and unshakeable faith in Kirk to overturn the seemingly hopeless case.


Being a sucker for courtroom showdowns, Court Martial is one of my favorite Trek episodes. Lt. Shaw is also one of the strongest and most intelligent female characters in the series. Outside the courtroom, she is warm and soft-spoken, and wears this glamorous paisley handkerchief with lime-colored leggings. Very Star Trek couture.




McCoy: All my old friends look like doctors. All his old friends look like you.

But in the courtroom, Shaw is brutal. She holds nothing back. In fact, the show respects her so much that she gets a SLIGHTLY LONGER MINISKIRT that comes to about mid-thigh rather than just barely covering her butt.


But in the end, even Lt. Shaw can't resist a little smooching with Kirk on the bridge of the Enterprise while all the other crew members cringe and pretend not to notice.


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Next up: Edith Keeler, the Goody Two-Shoes

Friday, July 17, 2015

Ladies of Kirk: Leonore Karidian

Leonore Karidian
Episode 13: The Conscience of the King

Charming, young and stylish, Leonore is the daughter of legendary theater actor Anton Karidian. Together they tour through the galaxy performing Shakespeare plays. At first Kirk romanced Leonore as a way to gain more information about her mysterious father. But he quickly falls for Leonore’s charms - preventing him from seeing her real character. Knowing he can't resist a damsel in distress, Leonore is perhaps the first woman to use Kirk’s favorite distraction-by-seduction trick against him.



Leonore has her strengths and weaknesses as a character. On one hand, the story is really about her, not about Kirk or Anton. Leonore has her own plans and secrets, which she follows brutally and systematically. On the other hand, you don't really know any of this until the end of the episode. She spends most of her screen time seeming to be nothing more than another Blonde Kirk Plaything. (By the way, her character is supposed to be 19 years old!)

Let's talk about Leonore's costumes. Star Trek characters rarely have costume changes. Star Trek was a show perpetually short on cash and on time, which is why they frequently re-used props, costumes and sets. But Leonore has a whopping six costume changes!


When I started this project, I made a rule that if a character had multiple costume changes, I would depict her in the most interesting and Star Trek-y one. But all of Leonore's costumes are pretty interesting. I chose to draw her in her green chiffon gown, because I felt like it was the most typically Star Trek, with its groovy pattern, ridiculous feathered trim, pink satin lining and sparkling leggings.  I'm not sure if I made the right decision, though. Her strapless chinchilla tube was a close runner-up.


What do you guys think?

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Next up: Lieutenant Shaw, the Power Lawyer.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Ladies of Kirk: Dr. Helen Noel

Dr. Helen Noel
Episode 9: Dagger of the Mind
Dr. Helen Noel is a psychiatrist working on board the Enterprise. She and Captain Kirk have a history, and she won't let him forget it. When Helen and Kirk are trapped in a penal colony run by a sadistic scientist, Kirk is subjected to a brainwashing device that makes him feel as if he is desperately in love with Helen. Helen chooses to put aside her feelings and resist Kirk's advances in order to help him overcome his brainwashing and escape the colony.



Yet again, a mad scientist traps Kirk on the surface of a planet with a beautiful woman. His life is rough!

Helen is a pretty strong female character for Star Trek. At first she comes off as an annoying ex who just won't let go of the past, but in the end, she is the clear-headed and rational one who snaps Kirk out of his false romantic obsession. She gets to actively participate in the escape plot, including the classic move of crawling through air ducts. Additionally, I imagine that the idea of a female psychiatrist was pretty progressive for the 1960's.

As far as costume goes, it's a standard Starfleet-issued miniskirt, but it seems a few sizes too small for the actress. In almost every photo I found of her, the poor woman is clearly trying her best to keep her skirt as flat as possible.




I guess in the future, clothing still shrinks in the dryer.

Next up: Leonore Karidian, Space Ophelia

Monday, July 13, 2015

Introducing Ladies of Kirk: Andrea

I am drawing all the women Captain Kirk ever kissed in the original Star Trek series.

I'm going to post all 19 of them on this blog and you're going to like it. Welcome to Ladies of Kirk!

Andrea
Episode 7: What Are Little Girls Made Of?


Andrea was an android created by Dr. Korby, a lonely scientist on a deserted planet. Desperate for human contact, Dr. Korby lured the Enterprise to the planet and kept Kirk and the landing party hostage. As part of an escape plan, Kirk attempted to overload Andrea's circuits by kissing her. Confused but intrigued, Andrea later demanded that Kirk kiss her again. When he refused, she promptly shot him with her laser gun. Of course, she only shot a cloned android version of Kirk, because the real captain would never refuse to kiss someone. Still, Andrea proved that despite Kirk's best efforts, she was a robot who knew her own mind.



Wow, does this series start off with a bang.

I think we can all agree that these are sexiest pair of overalls ever worn by an android. I actually felt a little uncomfortable while drawing this outfit, so I can only imagine how scandalous it must have seemed in 1966.

This costume is one of Star Trek's most memorable in an episode that is otherwise somewhat forgettable. Unlike later costumes worn by Ladies of Kirk, it's quite simple. It has no fringe, sparkles, feathers, tie-dye, paisley or flowers. So, in the bizarre universe of Star Trek TOS, it makes sense for a beautiful but emotionless robot, I guess.

This episode marks the first occurrences of two of Kirk's favorite strategies for dealing with tough situations:
  1. Disable a robot by confusing it
  2. Distract a woman by seducing her
A combo attack! That's why he's the best!

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Next up: Dr. Helen Noel, psychologist. What do you guys think so far? 
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