Caricature Convention

I mentioned something in the previous post that I feel I need to thoroughly cover: if you haven't heard about this, or aren't sure what it's all about, I invite you to check out the National Caricaturist Network (NCN), as well as the annual convention. This year it's held in Raleigh, NC at the Brownstone Inn from November 2nd (opening reception in the evening) through November 7th (awards banquet held in evening). This will be my 6th consecutive convention, and I can't believe that it's been so long. I can't imagine missing one, and if you go you'll see why.

A quick rundown of what happens, what it's about, and what you will get out of it: First, it is a convention full of rookies, veterans, novices, experts, live entertainers, studio illustrators, fine artists, caricaturists, portrait artists, cartoonists, sculptors, and wacky people from all spectrums of the art world, as well as all corners of the planet Earth.

The 5 days are kicked off with an icebreaker reception, at which old and new attendees can mingle and get comfortable over some drinks and snacks. In the morning, you'll experience a seminar. In the afternoon another. These seminars run all week. Some are workshops and some are speeches. Some are presentations to watch and ask questions, and some are hands-on small classes where someone like Jan Op De Beeck or Court Jones (specifically, this year) will offer one-on-one help and instruction in their field of expertise. These seminars run all week, at least two per day, and are optional for each attendee.

On top of this, there are good-spirited competitions. The culmination of the week is the awards banquet, where dozens of awards are presented at the final banquet. Throughout the week there is optional fun competitions. Some are as simple as a direct likeness competition or speed draw-off, and others are as open as you'd like, where each artist has the chance to hang their masterpieces and sketches on their designated wall space, to create a larger-than-life gallery filling the giant ballroom with unique caricatures, portraits, sketches, sculptures and stuff you just can't describe.
It's amazing to see the room fill up throughout the week.

On top of portfolio, studio piece, and entertainment competitions, there are awards based on the work you do that week. The element of live and studio work collide, when each artist diligently or casually (up to you!) take up your pens/brushes/etc to create likenesses of those in the room. There is plenty of time for fun and creating all week long, and the inspiration is like nothing else you will find.

For what you get, this is one of the cheapest retreats you can find, and you will not be lonely in your passion for caricature, portraits, sketching, sculpting, painting or any sort of art that you desire. You will also make life-long friends and be able to find some amazing books and souvenirs to take home. The convenience of an art store on-site and some great legal advice, as well as benefits in the industry make this trip even that much more valuable. Pick the brains of those that you admire, as they are there as your equal, creating, teaching and having fun as well.

Those attending this year and giving presentations include: Jan Op De Beeck, Tom Richmond, Jason Seiler, Court Jones, Stephen Silver, and myself. The honorary Keynote speaker in attendance this year is Ismael Roldan, and he will generously share his career with a slideshow presentation and interactive talk, as well as mingling and being a part of the events and community. This is an amazing opportunity to learn, practice, have fun and be inspired, and I sincerely recommend anyone interested at all to try it out! You have so much to gain and nothing to lose.

Feel free to contact me for any help getting registered or any questions you may have at all. The NCN offers a glossy magazine style quarterly newsletter (amazing quality and articles, I might add!), and an online forum, as well as web-based directory listings for all members. The community is great and networking has paid for my membership and convention dues 10x over, and it will be the same for you, if you have the passion.

I'll be mentioning this more in the coming weeks, but the deadline to save money with reservations and the discounted convention fee is coming up soon. Check it out, and I hope to see you there!


Back from Deutschland, Back in Action!

Okay, so a lot has gone on since my last update here (sorry to all the loyal readers), and I'll be updating on a lot of things in the coming days/weeks/months.

(photo of me by Ismael Roldan, looking down the hill from the hosting hotel)

First thing: I just returned back from the Sebastian Krüger portrait painting workshop in Hanover, Germany. This is Krüger's fourth annual workshop, and there were 20 artists in attendance.

(Sebastian and Jeff Redford: a little too buddy-buddy?)

(Hanover Museum)

During this trip we took a tour around Hanover, learned (perhaps too much) about paint brush manufacturing details, saw Sebastian paint an entire finished (very large) piece, and had the chance to work on our own pieces, with plenty of tips and feedback from the master.

(Stefan, otherwise known as "German Joe Bluhm")

In attendance were artists from Brazil, Korea, Holland, Germany, United States, and Canada! These great new friends are from all over the spectrum - some in their '60s and some in their '20s, some professionals working in movies, some not artists at all (one dentist!), but each were more kind, talented and wonderful than you could ask.

("JerT" - Jeremy Townsend being all "Euro-cool")

This workshop is very reminiscent, in a couple ways, of the annual convention held by the National Caricaturist Network (NCN). Not that we were focusing on caricature, but there was plenty of inspiration, artwork, partying and building friendships. I highly recommend both this workshop (see Sebastian's blog for 2009 workshop announcements) and the NCN convention, held this year from November 2-7 in Raleigh, NC.

(click for larger version)

Here is one of the two finished paintings I worked on in the 3 days we had to paint (sorry for the bad photo- it's in the mail, on its way home). I feel quite invigorated and prepared to continue painting very regularly. Keep an eye out here for traditional paintings on canvas, from time to time (as well as some gallery shows next year).

As for my current work, I'll be finishing an illustration, publishing two art books and working on a third through Art Squared Publishing, traveling to the NCN convention, starting some new paintings, and possibly traveling down south in late October to do a few days drawing theme park caricatures (more to come on that topic).

By the way, Germany is FULL of windmills! Rockin' place.


Mel B and Virgin Media

Here's the second of a very cool series of advertisements from Virgin media, that I was fortunate enough to be a part of. The amazing team of creatives and hard-workers at So! Animation are responsible for this one, just like the Mick Hucknall "KWACCS" advertisement aired last month in England (as well as more to come...). They did a great job and are a great team to work for.

I got to design and help create the characters, from start to finish. Here you can see some sketches and versions of the design for the to-be animated Melanie Brown (aka Mel B, aka Scary Spice). I offered a few versions of each character and some revisions, based on the team of creators and writers at the Y&R agency, responsible for this campaign. This will air in theaters (HD!) later this month. It really was a fun process, and you can see the result is just as fun:

PS- It was great to work with Ed Steckley on this one: can you see other influences (for those that know me or Ed) or art that Ed and I collaborated on? Maybe on the walls? hehe.