Pittsburgh’s Confluence

28 07 2010

Last weekend I went to Pittsburgh’s Confluence, a sci-fi, fantasy and horror convention. The setting was a hotel near the airport and it was a small but nice venue. It is not flashy at all but the organization seemed to me to be very clean and sleek, which is a plus.

double-tree hotel sculpture (c) Constanza Ehrenhaus 2010

I visited the dealer’s room, where you can find books and books and more books for the most part *By the way I found just by chance a wonderful book about oriental art that I promptly bought as a reference source. It was so cheap too!* The tables are $150 for the whole weekend and since there is not a lot of room for the dealers you should put your application a year in advance! Besides books they had some CD’s, jewelry, a few crafts and more books. I seriously did not see people buying much, maybe because at that time they had panels going on, though.

On the other hand they have the art show. In the art show they had all kinds of things, arts and crafts, from excellent quality to badly rendered poser dolls, but for the most part the quality was good. The show if free and agenting is allowed (artists friends *hint hint*!), there is no fee for art that is for sale and there is a $2 for art that is not for sale, the conventions keeps a commission of what is sold. If a certain piece has more than one bid during the art show it later goes to an auction on Sunday afternoon.

I did not have much time to spend at Confluence, mainly because life keeps going and I had laundry evening and had to get the house ready since I have guests coming over soon. But they do have really good guests and great speakers. I went to see only one talk about storytelling and I was all fired up wanting to go back to college and take some literature classes! 🙂

I think next year I will give the art show a try. The accept originals, limited edition prints and embellished prints (signed), so I think I’ll give it a go, especially since there is no loss if I don’t sell anything. My biggest criticism to the organization is that I have been trying to contact them for several months (I think since January) and I had to get myself to the convention to actually talk to somebody and get some answers.

Yay, fairy tales!

21 07 2010

I am very happy to tell you that I will be working to illustrate fairy tales for a young children oriented site. This site is aimed to kids 2-8 and its goal is to be educational, nurturing and fun, taking the edge out of the internet so parents can be at ease knowing that their children are not exposed to inappropriate material.

I am really excited about this since I always wanted to do children’s story books (plus tattoos, plus goddess art, plus character design, plus what have you) :). I got assigned the Princess and the Pea. I am just getting to work through the sketches for the storyboard so I have not much to show for. But I can show you the sketches I did to show to the client before I got assigned the Princess and the Pea.

One of them was the big bad wolf. The brief was along the lines of “bad, dangerous, but charming and endearing”. I had a blast dressing the Big Bad Wolf as a Chicago gangster… why did I dress him up? well, honestly, to avoid any genitalia conflict 🙂 same reason why I am using long jackets in the males of the tale 😉

Big Bad Wolf (c) Constanza Ehrenhaus 2010

I also drew a princess to show them. I chose the princess from the Princess and the Pea, just to have something on what to base the design. I used the pea (Pisum sativum) as an anchor for the color selection. This way I would have a palette for the character. Since the tale is most probably original from medieval Switzerland, I went with a modification of the traditional garments of the time and place.

Princess (c) Constanza Ehrenhaus 2010

So, after I was assigned the tale I started designing characters, which I always loved. And as soon as I have green light from the clients I’ll show you some of those concepts 🙂

Have a good one!

Interview with Patrick McEvoy

13 07 2010

Fantasy artist Patrick McEvoy is not only extremely accomplished but also a greatly generous person that invests part of his limited time to help others improve. His art is highly energetic and interesting. Let’s have a look into Patrick’s world!

Patrick give us a little background information about you. How did you become interested in art?
I was always reading comics from a young age, and drew characters from there. I just loved it all from a young age. Then when I was around 11 I started discovering some of the great fantasy/genre illustrators from the 60’s and 70’s, such as Bama, Frazetta and Steranko (and of course I’d already seen Steranko’s comics).  They inspired me to want to learn more about this “art” stuff!

Dirty work (c) Patrick McEvoy

You have worked in different areas in the art industry, what attracted you to become a full time illustrator?
My first long-term career was as a programmer, believe it or not!  But at some point I realized I was wasting my time in a job I didn’t care for and I got back into art, pretty much teaching myself everything I needed to know about the craft of illustration.

Since I was getting into professional art rather late, I approached it very logically. I already knew computers and programming, so I concentrated on doing art with the computer, and also learning “Director”, which was a program used a lot back in those days for computer animation and interactivity. (Basically like Flash, but without the vectors and much more solid).

This paid off pretty quickly, as I got jobs working in the game animation industry right off the bat. My very first big professional gig was as an assistant storyboard artist for Lee Marrs, a wonderful comics artist/writer who at the time was an A.D. for game company 3DO.  Then I landed a few jobs as a freelance animator and I was off and running!

After that I became an Art Director, working at a couple of different companies that specialized in educational games (“Edutainment” they used to call it), and I did that for several years.

Finally, about 5 years ago, I decided that I should really go back to my first love, illustration. I had been doing some illustration work on the side for a few years before that, and at some point I just said “it’s now or never” and took the leap!

Rising (c) Patrick McEvoy

How did you land in your first jobs for great companies as Wizards or Marvel?

Well, with all of the companies I’ve gotten to work for (also Sony, Blizzard, and many others!) it’s largely been a matter of putting together good portfolio pieces, tailoring my submission to what I think the company will need, and (very importantly) being professional and timely when I do get the job, so I have more of an opportunity to do work for them in the future!

But I can’t rule out networking! I think at least 75% of my jobs (including my long-term gig with Marvel) have come about because I have contacts with other artists, either personally or through online art groups. Taking Marvel as an example, I knew Scott Johnson through Gutterzombie and Ninja Mountain, and I’d also met up with him at the Chicago Comic-con one year. So when his A.D. at Marvel said they needed more artists in the marketing group, he knew me, knew that I could do the work, and had seen my track record. So he was confident in passing my name along.

That sort of thing happens all the time. You NEVER know when a contact will come through, so make as many as you can.  Of course, it helps that I really like to talk to people, so it’s maybe easy for me to get to know other artists. But even if you’re shy or don’t easily talk to strangers, it’s a good thing to try to overcome that. Networking is key!

Once you have your sketches approved, how do you choose the palette to set the mood for each piece? Do you think about this before starting your sketches, during, after?

This is different for every piece. Sometimes I know the colors almost first thing when reading the brief, and sometimes I’ll play with colors after the entire drawing is done and I’m in Photoshop. Or somewhere in the middle!  I just let it happen and it usually works out.

But I DO always like to start with one main color, which I roughly slop in over the entire background with slight hue and value variations. That way the entire picture has one mood and temperature to start with.

What do you think are your greatest strengths in your artwork? And your weakness?

Strength – probably my ability to come up with a good story, and an interesting point of view for my compositions.

Weakness? That’s hard to narrow down, I have so many!  Probably dynamic figure poses – I always feel my characters are a bit too stiff.

You give art seminars in MacWorld, would you mind explaining a little bit what are they about for those of us that cannot go?

Well, I did the one at MacWorld Expo this year, which was kind of expensive to attend (they charge a lot for the seminar track), but I’ve also done them at comics conventions, including San Diego Comic-Con last year. And in a few weeks (April 3, 2010) I’ll be doing it at WonderCon in San Francisco,  and it’s free with the regular admission to the con. So that’s a little easier to attend!

I describe the seminars as a “cooking show”.  That is, I show a piece being created from the ground up – sketching, drawing, color blocking and rendering. But I’ll do just a few minutes on every step, then “put it in the oven” so to speak, and skip to the next step.  That way I can concentrate on big ideas and important techniques, rather than too much time just rendering.

As an ex-art director, what attracts you to a piece? What should an artist do to impress you?

Really, it all comes down to the job you are hiring for. If an artist has what’s needed for THAT SPECIFIC job, then he or she will have an important advantage. And that’s something you never really know as an artist when you send in your submission. That’s why it’s good to remember that a lot of getting jobs is just luck – do you have what’s needed right then?  But the important part is to always be ready to do great at a job when it is assigned to you.

After a job is assigned, the main thing is professionalism. That’s what keeps an AD coming back for more work from you. And that professionalism encompasses many areas: hitting deadlines, good communication, and living up to the quality of work in your portfolio. It’s all important.
Glaring Admonition (c) Patrick McEvoy

Tell me about Ninja Mountain, what is it? How did it evolve?

That came out of a group of artists who all knew each other online, mostly through RPG.net. They just decided to put together a private forum where they could share ideas and information without the prying eyes of the outside world! I was invited in a year or so after they began it.

You can find out a lot about the early days of NM on the interview show we did for Escape From Illustration Island.

What about Ninja Mountain Podcasts?
Well, I started that, pretty much. I just decided I wanted to do a podcast, and  here I was chatting with folks on Ninja Mountain all the time, and it seemed perfect for a show! A bunch of really good artists, from all over the world, who already get along well, and have a lot to say about art. As it turned out, we’ve had a pretty good run (over a year now!)

For more info on the subject, check out the blog post I wrote about the origins of the podcast here.

Tell us about your graphic novel.

Starkweather: Immortal, coming this July from Archaia. Written and created by David Rodriguez, and one story in the book is written by fantasy legend Piers Anthony.  It’s going to be a hardcover graphic novel, with 138 pages of comics story and some other art, as well as Piers Anthony’s original prose story.

This book started as a standard comic book, with a story set to run for five issues and then be collected. But after we did issues 0, 1, and 2, the company took a hiatus to reorganize (one of the partners left) and there was a year and a half break in the series.

By the time we came back, it didn’t really make sense to do the last 2 issues of the story arc as newsstand comics, because no one would remember they were reading it (we feared), so we decided just to finish up for the collected edition and skip the comic book versions.  That also freed us up to change the story a bit, and add a few more pages.

I’m very happy with how it’s come out, and I’m really looking forward to its release in July! Find out more, and see an excerpt from issue 0, here.

Starkweather Immortal (c) Patrick McEvoy

Why the name Megaflow? And Ninja Mountain?

Ninja Mountain I have no idea at all… Megaflow is a term my favorite sci-fi/fantasy author Michael Moorcock uses for the space between all the alternate realities in his multiverse. I liked the sound and meaning of that so … there we go!

How do you find the time to do it all!? Please, let us know!!

Not much sleep. Not much at all…

Where can your fans find you? Will you be doing conventions?

Please find me at
or my blog at
Also I have galleries at http://megaflow.epilogue.net and http://patrickmcevoy.deviantart.com/

Also, you can hear new episodes of Ninja Mountain almost every week here:
Or find it on itunes and subscribe.

Melissa Findley

Patrick is an amazing artist, always willing to go the extra mile to help newer artists get a step up. I’ve found his advice invaluable and I’m honored to have been able to meet him in person and see how he works first hand. Also, his fashion sense is fantastic. 😉

Chris Malidore
Years ago when I first began to freelance I ran into Patrick on the Epilogue gallery and recognized his name from a product that we were both in – I said hi, and ever since then he’s remained a person that I not only look up to, but love to speak with. He’s helpful and has great artistic insight. Even to this day, I refer back to wisdom and knowledge that Patrick taught me in those early years. I owe him a great deal of thanks!

Jon Hodgson
Patrick McEvoy is a machine. An art making machine. Not a coffee machine or Xerox machine. More seriously, Patrick is one of those really well grounded people who it has been a pleasure to work with, and one day I’d like to buy him a pony.

Scott Purdy
”Patrick is one of the friendliest and talented illustrators that I’ve bumped into since Ninja Mountain set it’s roots deep into the core of the earth. His vast knowledge and unwavering humour keep me listening to the NMS podcast week after week.. now, what did he say to me the other day.. oh that’s it.. he’s the ”idol of millions and Emperor of Awesome!!”
Go Patrick!”

Book Review: Tattoo, from idea to ink. By Joy Surles.

8 07 2010

From time to time I design tattoos, an activity that  I enjoy greatly, but I have never done any study on that topic, so I decided to buy some books on it.  I found Tattoo, from Idea to Ink, “Tattoo, from Idea to Ink, is an indispensable resource for tattoo artists and enthusiasts alike.” Or so the review reads. Truth is that it is not a resource for artists. It is a lovely book with beautiful images from different master tattooists from around the US mainly, but there is little about the designing.

Even when the book claims constantly that they focus on the process of the tattoo from its conception, they basically just ask the artists how they approach the design getting a generic “I use a lot of reference” as an answer each time. It is a good reference if you are planning to get tattoos, since the book covers hygiene, safety, and what you should look for in a tattoo artist.

I did like a lot the interviews the author includes in each chapter, and the extensive collection of images she shows. But unfortunately the book is not what it claims to be and it is mostly aimed to tattoo collectors.

Is there any tattoo book you could recommend me? I am in the search right now.

Meeting artists in real life: Brenda Lyons

6 07 2010

Because of Anthrocon taking place in Pittsburgh, where I live, I got to meet the wonderful Brenda Lyons, whom you might know as Windfalcon. Brenda was doing Anthrocon for the first time and drove from Connecticut on Thursday. My husband and I picked her up from Downtown and brought her to have some pizza and beers to the Church Brew Works (incidentally, if you ever come to Pit, that is a brewery you *have to* go see!).

Not only Brenda is an excellent artist but she is absolutely awesome. I was told by many how much I was going to like her, and they were right! She is a very nice person and I so

Protect me (c) Brenda Lyons 2010

loved her distinguished Yankee accent! Oh, how charming! We talked about art, large cities, small cities and the frustration of being a college professor… we actually discovered that we have had very similar experiences as young new teachers! It was going to be the first time in Anthrocon for the two of us, so we were rather excited about that, Brenda was going to go as an artist in the artists alley so I was hoping to see her again the next day when I was going to go check the con out. We then brought her to the hotel since the poor girl was exhausted after 8 hours of driving (plus we gave her beer! *giggles*) and promised her to be there the next day.

Unfortunately I couldn’t see her the next day. I went to the Con but the Convention Center apparently had not given Anthrocon enough tables for all the artists and Brenda was not included :(. The good thing though, is that I got to see her incredible art in person in the art show. People, you have no idea how beautiful her watercolors and masks are! They are absolutely stunning! If you think they look good in the screen, wait to see them in person! The richness of color is in-cre-di-ble! She was going to be there through Sunday, but on Saturday I had to go to Monster Bash and after paying entrance fees for me and my husband for both conventions I was completely broke, so I could not go back to Anthrocon. I did hear she did a very good con, though, which all that know her had no doubts about, since her art is just awesome. I hope I can hang around with her next year again 🙂

Do you want to see Brenda’s art? Head to her webpage, or go to her blog to read about the process of her art.

Would you want to know more about her? Then stay tuned! There is an interview coming up soon!