Artist-in-Residency

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Artist-in-Residency

Postby Vanessa » Sun Mar 03, 2013 11:10 pm

Figured I might as well throw this out here for any advice.

I'm going to be applying for an artist-in-residency program at my local comic store, and I'm going to be applying as a colourist. Considering that most applicants probably apply as line artists, I need to work extra hard to stand out as a colourist and prove why I deserve to get the position.

I have no idea who chooses the successful applicant or how much they may or may not know about colouring. I need to do an objective statement, a statement of career goals, list of community work, a CV, a letter of reference and 5 portfolio pages.

I know I have some tough competition from some highly capable artist friends of mine. Some of which are actually taking comic focused art courses, while I have no art schooling whatsoever.

Any advice for how to best approach my application would be much appreciated!
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Re: Artist-in-Residency

Postby laurelobrien » Mon Mar 04, 2013 10:58 am

I can't help you as I'm a first year art student and inexperienced myself, but I've never heard of comic stores sponsoring a residency! That is so neat!
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Re: Artist-in-Residency

Postby Eagle » Mon Mar 04, 2013 11:34 am

I've got no advice either, but I did want to wish you the best of luck and the most of fun. :D
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Re: Artist-in-Residency

Postby Winterbourne » Mon Mar 04, 2013 12:36 pm

Vanessa wrote:I have no idea who chooses the successful applicant or how much they may or may not know about colouring. I need to do an objective statement, a statement of career goals, list of community work, a CV, a letter of reference and 5 portfolio pages.


Community work, eh? They're pretty serious, then. Or want to seem serious.

Keep in mind, all this stuff is really about is insuring that they're not giving the residency to someone who isn't serious and doesn't know about their subject. That's really it.

You'll prove what you know with your objective statement and your statement of career goals. You can talk about people who inspired you, who you want to model yourself after (if there is anybody), what made you want to be a colourist, and why colour is so important to storytelling and aesthetics that in your opinion you deserve the residency. For example:

  • Colour can create elements of story when linework doesn't or cannot suggest them on it own. Imagine The Abyss or Finding Nemo without blue, or The Incredibles or The English Patient without rich environmental colour. Tone alone is not always capable of the immediate recognition that colour is.
  • Colour can create verisimilitude by filling out the linework with the kind of hues and tones that a person would actually experience in that situation. Film examples again: Terence Malick's The New World was shot almost entirely by natural light, and films like Lincoln or Amistad lose a huge amount of impact without colour.
  • Colour can support the linework in storytelling by making elements like materials seem realistic appropriate to the style, and by differentiating settings (deep red for a submarine interior, bluish for underwater, etc) and guiding the eye in order from element to element, so that the reader is never pulled out of the story by confusion or a lack of clarity.
  • Colour used selectively can create a visually unique and striking style (Sin City), or guide attention to a specific element and emotion (the girl in the red coat in Schindler's List).
  • Colour can create a vivid sense of place by distinguishing time of day, different time periods, climate, terrain, season, perspective, environmental conditions like weather, materials of clothing, plumage and hides of animals, and the like. Zhang Yimou's The Curse of the Golden Flower without colour loses much of its operatic, intensely emotional feeling. Dynamite's Sherlock Holmes and the TV series Murdoch Mysteries generally both remember the importance of gaslight and daylight to their time periods.
  • Colour can unify an entire design scheme. Zhang Yimou's Hero without colour is basically hamstrung because he uses it so intentionally.

If any of that sounds good, feel free to use it.

Also, while your friends may have formal education with comics courses, it doesn't necessarily mean they actually know how to tell a story in a clear and compelling way. There's a comics program happening at a college near me, and it doesn't have a basic design or typography class. Lettering and design are kinda important.

Remember, you went and learned on your own because it meant something to you. You practiced on your own motivation. I seem to recall you doing flatting for people, and also that you had the fortitude to post your work and ask for critique in public from professionals in the industry and jerks like me ;). This isn't a fad or a hobby that you'll drop in six months.

You'll show your work experience with your CV, letter of reference, and portfolio pages. The CV is the CV. The letter of reference will make an impact. As for portfolios... People disagree on how you should structure your portfolio, but that's about getting work. Some people say specialize because it shows focus, some people say variety because it shows your range. I personally think one's style should be distinct but adaptable. So someone better qualified better supply some ideas there!

It may help to imagine you're writing about someone else who is simply exactly like you. Use your critical analysis skills to identify your strengths!

Also, what exactly are the submission guidelines? What sort of wording do they use?
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Re: Artist-in-Residency

Postby DCJosh » Tue Mar 05, 2013 8:35 am

such a thing exists??

where have i been D;
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Re: Artist-in-Residency

Postby Eagle » Tue Mar 05, 2013 8:38 am

DCJosh wrote:such a thing exists??

where have i been D;

In a hotel? :P
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Re: Artist-in-Residency

Postby DCJosh » Wed Mar 06, 2013 12:11 am

touche` :P
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Re: Artist-in-Residency

Postby Vanessa » Sat Mar 09, 2013 2:06 pm

Thanks a lot!

Winterbourne wrote:Community work, eh? They're pretty serious, then. Or want to seem serious.


I have actually done quite a bit of comics community work in the form of participating in fundraisers for 24 and 12 hour comic days and sketching for Food Bank donations during Free Comic Book Day. None of those really involve colouring, but I think it still counts.

It may help to imagine you're writing about someone else who is simply exactly like you. Use your critical analysis skills to identify your strengths!


Yeah, writing about myself is always difficult because I'm prone to see my imperfections more than my achievements and growth as an artist.

Also, what exactly are the submission guidelines? What sort of wording do they use?


These are the submission guidelines:

Applicants must provide curriculum vitae that should not exceed two (2) sheets of standard 8.5 x 11 paper.

Applicants should provide a statement of the objectives they hope to achieve as Happy Harbor's Artist-in-Residence. Please itemize the work(s) being focused on.

Applicants should also provide a statement of their personal career goals and how this position would help them accomplish those goals.

Applicants should include:
- List of recent community work, especially that which applies to your craft. Please make sure to include contact information for reference.
- five (5) digital samples of work, three (3) pages of which must be of sequential work.
- one (1) letter of reference/recommendation, preferably from someone in the visual arts field.

The successful application will be selected by a committee of individuals who are not in the employ of Happy Harbor Comics and will remain anonymous to the public and the applicants.

Successful applicant will become the Artist-in-Residence at Happy Harbor Comics for thirty-two (32) weeks, working in the store on Fridays from Noon until 6 pm and on Saturdays from Noon until 5 pm.

Applications are due by midnight April 1, 2013 and can be hand delivered to HHv1 or emailed (preferred) to hhv1@happyharborcomics.com.

Our new Artist-in-Residence will be announced April 12, 2013 and the fourth term will commence Friday, May 10, 2013.
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Re: Artist-in-Residency

Postby Winterbourne » Mon Mar 11, 2013 1:16 pm

Vanessa wrote:Thanks a lot!


I hope it was useful. If you want, I'd be happy to give your draft a read. Just pop me an email.

Vanessa wrote:I have actually done quite a bit of comics community work in the form of participating in fundraisers for 24 and 12 hour comic days and sketching for Food Bank donations during Free Comic Book Day. None of those really involve colouring, but I think it still counts.


Awesome, that sounds good. Also, man, if they toss the drawing for the Food Bank out because it's not colouring, screw 'em. Wait no, don't screw 'em. In fact, nobody screw 'em.

Vanessa wrote:Yeah, writing about myself is always difficult because I'm prone to see my imperfections more than my achievements and growth as an artist.


Writing about my doppelganger has generally been helpful; it also helps to ask people you trust what your strengths are. Are you on good terms with past employers? What would they say?

Also, think about your personal ethos. Many people kinda ignore it, but what are the kinds qualities you would ascribe to a good person? And which of these do you possess or try to exercise? Trying is important, since nobody is perfect. For me, I generally mean people well, I'm fairly patient and compassionate, slow to anger, and pretty good at finding solutions. People have told me these things, and lately I'm awesome at fixing things for people, so there you go.

If that's really hard to do, take a look at your faults. They'll generally point to some virtue, especially if you borrow the Aristotelian system where vices are the over- or under-abundance of a certain otherwise good trait. A lack of confidence is humility in excess, for example, and overcommitting to workload can be excessive diligence (perfectionism!), being excited about a project that may be more than you can handle at the time (ambition!), or not wanting to let people down on something that matters to them when your circumstances interfere with completing your work (compassion and dedication).

You can turn those faults into a statement about a quality that is good, like humility: "I'm constantly working to broaden my experience and experiment with new skills and methods." It may be because you're paranoid about screwing up, but as long as it's true...

I've written a lot of cover letters for people.

Do you know what you'll submit yet as your portfolio?

Submission Guidelines


Dang. Usually there are more hints about what they're looking for in the wording.

It looks like they want you to have something personal and specific in development, like a story project of your own. Got anything like that? They want career goals -- do you have any that are relevant to how you'd use the residency? i.e. Do you want to stay in colouring specifically, or maybe move into more of a digital painting style, or experiment with doing more elements of the art process?

That's all I got for now, sleep deprivation has made me dumb.
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Re: Artist-in-Residency

Postby Vanessa » Mon Mar 18, 2013 10:28 pm

Winterbourne wrote:Do you know what you'll submit yet as your portfolio?


Not yet. I'm still sitting on it. I have some ideas, but it's all about narrowing it down to the best 5, and I'm working with a pool of about 35.

It looks like they want you to have something personal and specific in development, like a story project of your own. Got anything like that? They want career goals -- do you have any that are relevant to how you'd use the residency? i.e. Do you want to stay in colouring specifically, or maybe move into more of a digital painting style, or experiment with doing more elements of the art process?


I'm currently working on colouring several issues of a comic project that got funded through Kickstarter. Issue 1 was funded and it's sold about 10 copies at my local store in the last few months. It looks like issue 1 will be submitted to Comixology as well, as I just found out today. It's free to read at paradoxthecomic.com. I'm much happier with my current work on issue 2 than I was with issue 1. With issue 1, I kind of had to stay consistent with how I coloured my initial pages for the pitch, which was more than a year prior to doing the rest of issue 1.

I would also like to work on my own comic project that I want to draw and write, but that's something that I would only do when I'm caught up on colouring pages for Paradox. Paradox should easily run me through the entire residency term.

I aim to stay in colouring, but I also want to better myself as a line artist. That would only serve to make me a better colourist, and it would allow me to do more of my own projects. The project I want to do is hopefully going to be my way of improving through doing. I've been told before that I shouldn't even bother trying to draw because I will never become good enough to do it professionally, based on how juvenile my art is right now. That won't stop me from trying though.

Getting enough decently paying, professional colouring work to allow me to not have to work retail anymore would ultimately be my goal. I would love to work for any of the big comic companies, even if it might take me a number of years to get good enough, and more importantly, fast enough.

I might go back to trying more painterly stuff later down the road. I actually started out doing much softer colours, because hard cuts were scary. It's much more difficult to hide your rendering flaws that way, and even then, I had to push my colours from being too flat. I sort of pushed myself into the deep end, so to speak. I still have a hell of a time with rendering. If there's a page or panel I'm not satisfied with, I just have to move on and learn from it, rather than endlessly fiddle with it.

I actually had a "friend" recently dismiss my critique of his colours because I'm a colourist, while he is a digital painter and we just have different viewpoints. Didn't help that his friend came in to defend everything that I pointed out as flaws (that I constantly see in all his coloured work). I urged him to try hard, clean cuts, because it would have suited the drawing better and I thought he would learn a lot from trying something different. Maybe even using colour to affect the mood of the page by making his sunset scene with sunset colours instead of just adding a yellow outline to the characters.

Nope. He flat out said that he has no intention of changing his approach to colouring his artwork. I now have no intention on commenting on anymore of his colours. He clearly doesn't want to improve!

It's frustrating when people around you are colouring in ways that absolutely drive you up the wall. Too dark, over rendering very cartoony images, using the exact same normal saturated daylight colour palette for every single piece, except if it's at night, and then it's a saturated palette so dark that the line art disappears. Argh!

Part of me just wants to get the residency so I can tell people to cut that shit out with some kind of authority. i may not be a pro pro, but I know bad colours when I see them.

/rant
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Re: Artist-in-Residency

Postby Winterbourne » Tue Mar 19, 2013 1:09 pm

Well, these bits of text would be a good start for your letter!

I'm currently working on colouring several issues of a comic project that got funded through Kickstarter. Issue 1 was funded and has sold about 10 copies at my local store in the last few months. It looks like issue 1 will be submitted to Comixology as well. It's free to read at paradoxthecomic.com. Paradox should easily run me through the entire residency term.

I aim to stay in colouring, but I also want to better myself as a line artist. That would only serve to make me a better colourist, and it would allow me to do more of my own projects. I would also like to work on my own comic project that I want to draw and write, but that's something that I would only do when I'm caught up on colouring pages for Paradox. The project I want to do is hopefully going to be my way of improving through doing.

I would love to work for any of the big comic companies, even if it might take me a number of years to get good enough.


Just needs a bit of fleshing out. :)

Vanessa wrote:I've been told before that I shouldn't even bother trying to draw because I will never become good enough to do it professionally, based on how juvenile my art is right now. That won't stop me from trying though.


Who in hell said that?

You know, there was a local painter here in BC who got his arms shattered by artillery during either the Boer War or the First World War (read an article about him ages back) and took up painting watercolours afterwards. Not a difficult medium, you know, watercolours. Especially when your arms have rehabbed from being shattered by artillery. Also, I personally met a dude a few years back who broke his neck, was in a chair, and took up marble sculpting afterwards with specially-adapted tools. Seriously, he had a huge commission list--he was working on a marble sculpture of the bones of the foot for a podiatrist at the time. Broken neck!

Nothing pisses me off like people who think they're good telling developing people they can't learn. Anyone can improve. Grn. Now I have an urge to do violence. I better go play Bayonetta for a while until my murder-level eases back down to normal.

You're perfectly right to keeping working!
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Re: Artist-in-Residency

Postby Vanessa » Tue Mar 19, 2013 10:02 pm

The letter is done, I just need to finish off my other stuff.

Winterbourne wrote:Who in hell said that?


The internet. :( People on the internet are just mean. I shouldn't have posted my art and ideas, so I really got all the flack I deserved for that. Now I just know where not to post. I was told that even if I drew 8 hours a day, every day for 10 years, I would still not be able to draw like how I want to draw. (Among other things) I know that's not necessarily true, so I am going to keep trying. You have to do a lot of bad drawings before you can make any good drawings, right?
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Re: Artist-in-Residency

Postby Eagle » Tue Mar 19, 2013 10:31 pm

Everybody sucked sometime. You recognize the suck, get better and move on. It takes tons of practice.
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