Just because giveaway

26 04 2011

Just because I am really  happy. Just because my mom will be here on Sunday. Just because I will be having a baby boy in two weeks! And I want to share the happiness! 🙂

What am I giving away?

One original small work of art, it is a colored pencil sketch that has remained unsold from an old Sketchfest. You get to choose which one.

How does this work?

You have to leave a comment telling me something that has made you happy recently or is making you happy at the moment! Let’s make it a happy ring and inspire others to be happy too! Do not forget to leave an email or some kind of contact information in the post and your choice of sketch.

If you subscribe to this blog your comment will count as two, giving you two chances to win.

When is the deadline?

Let’s run this for one week. Next Monday the giveaway will be closed and I will randomly select someone (or maybe Sebastian, my cat, as the last time. You cannot get more random than that!)

Eros and Psyche (c) Constanza Ehrenhaus

Eros and Psyche (c) Constanza Ehrenhaus

Vintage Faery (c) Constanza Ehrenhaus

Stained glass faery (c) Constanza Ehrenhaus

Keeping in mind that my crappy scanned likes to murder blues, forgive the lack of accuracy in the digital image. I promise that what you will get looks much better!

I do ship international, so that will not be a problem at all!  So, comment away!

Sketchfest-April 2011

23 04 2011

Sketches for Sketchfest April 2011 (c) Constanza Ehrenhaus

Good morning! yesterday and today is Sketchfest, and since I am really busy with some paid commissions I do not have a lot of time to do this. But I still wanted to join the fun! So I decided to put 3 hours into it and have some good, relaxing sketching time. And I don’t regret it! I have dome 4 sketches, two of them I am so loving!! The pirate chick has an attitude that I love! And the faery couple is my favourite of this month. I really like the mood to it and the colors (In the original) came out very nicely.

My scanner frustrates me to no end, and one of the sketchfesters told me that it might be blind to blue… which is the most reasonable explanation since the blues never ever show up at all! 😡  But it is not the time to get a new scanner, we have more pressing issues coming up! (Can you say “baby”?).

In an y case, all the sketches are available for purchasing, all the proceedings will be donated to EMG. Again, you will not find these prices for originals of mine ever except in Sketchfest, so if you like, pass by and get them before they sell!

If you would like to purchase old unsold sketches from prior sketchfests, let me know.

You just draw chicks, you gay or wut? Or how being an artist leads you through different behaviors.

18 04 2011

I remember drawing. always. really. I cannot remember a moment in which I was not drawing through my life, even in school, which is no surprise to all of you artists, as the teacher would speak I’d draw away in extra sheets or in the margins of my notebook. I always have been an excellent student, so my parents never worried about this, and my teachers gave up after a while, after all I was getting good grades and understood the topic.

As I went to college to study biology, I found that doodling actually helped me focus better on what the teachers were saying, some of my lectures went for up to 3 hours, so anything was welcomed to keep focus! But also this brought the unwanted consequence of other nearby students noticing that I was drawing and making weird comments. I remember one conversation went like this:

I guess I must be lesbian, since I only draw naked chicks 😉 (c) Constanza Ehrenhaus

-Are you lesbian?

-No, why?

-You are always drawing women.

-Uh… yeah…. (fantasy art influenced artist, ya see?)

-So, why do you *always* draw women, and naked!

-Ehr… I really like how women look.

-So, you *are* lesbian!!

Yes, I guess all female fantasy artists are mainly lesbian, and as my friend Jesus Alonso says “I guess all male fashion designers are straight”.

Another interesting conversation came about in my Evolution class, one of those 3 hr. lecture classes, with a very smart scientist as a professor, sadly, he was a really bad professor, so keeping focused and awake was a must! As a good artist I became interested in a certain subject, I think it was mermaids, and I started doodling mermaids like crazy, you know, with all that idea of concepting and finding the right pose and such. This girl came to me and told me “Oh, I see there is a pattern of obsession there, you’d do good in going to the psychoanalyst and find what is wrong with you”. I was completely flabbergasted, I thought that was terribly non courteous and so out of place! But I guess I was an artist in the making sketching away and being misunderstood 😉

My obsession knows no limits! Otherwise known as concepting. (c) Constanza Ehrenhaus.

Do you have any funny anecdote to tell? Please, share!

The value of a book cover

12 04 2011

Many times I see posts by authors, mostly self published, that want cover art for their upcoming book. Often times these posts are followed up by some kind of comment (by the author) stating how this should not be very expensive because it would not take more than X amount of time to make. I have even seen authors talking about how you should not pay more than $5 for a cover! Excuse me, but $5 is a latte, it is lame to ask anybody to work for a latte.

Now the problem seems to arise from said authors thinking that:

Cover art by Dan dos Santos

a) What they do (writing) is soooo much harder than doing art! Why should they pay a good price? Art comes naturally!


b) Apparently they are soooo famous that people will read their name and buy the book, and the cover is actually not so important.

The problem is that a book cover is actually very important, in the brick and mortar bookstore and also online, because it is the first thing that catches your eye. A good design, good typography and the right kind of art will attract the right kind of audience. A sci-fi book should have a sci-fi illustration and technical looking design, not a full blown medieval fantasy look. A romance cove will repel some people while attracting others. And there are codes to these styles, and the artist has learned them, and the artist is spending hours in each cover, plus the knowledge and experience that brought this artist to where (s)he is today.

It is a problem that is very big in the e-publishing area, because a lot of these publishing houses pay about $50 per cover, how would you expect a self published author to want to pay more? Now, for those of you that might think that $50 is a fair price, a lot of these covers are photomontages because a photomontage is faster than illustration from scratch, and while the artist might be saving time, it is also a reality that the publisher does not provide nor pays for the stock in most cases. So the artist is stuck with paying for the stock and fonts out of pocket, and how much of those $50 are left? Not much really. Good resolution stock photography starts at around $10-15, if you have to buy several photos (heroine, hero, background) voila! your salary is gone. And fonts are expensive too.

On the other hand we have the paper publishing companies. For some reason they seem to take this cover art issue more seriously. While I have never bought an e-book (I just love books with a passion and I love to have them and see them in my home) I have many times bought a book for its cover. I remember my sister, being probably 14-15 picking her first fantasy novel just because the cover was gorgeous (it was made by Ciruelo Cabral, by the way) and she was not disappointed with the book. Years later I still find myself going toward attractive covers with good story telling, they make me curious, if only to pick up the book and read the description of the work, and that is the first step in selling a book.

As an artist, with some experience now and knowledge of other artist’s works, many times I find it easy to identify the author that has been hired for the cover, and let me tell you, if the publishing house has taken the pains and the budget to hire someone who charges good money, let’s say Dan dos Santos or Kinuko Craft (in which case I have bought the book just for the cover) it means that the publisher considers that particular book to be good enough as to deserve a lot of money going to the cover art alone, let’s not go into layout and fonts. And if they are willing to spend a small fortune int he cover, then it means that they are quite sure that they sill recover that and much more. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the power of a good cover.

Interview with Angela Sasser

8 04 2011

Angela Sasser is a very talented artist. This innate talent is not all, she is a very hard worker and has studied a lot the business of being an artist. These qualities make her unique, since it is not very easy to find a fantasy artist that has such an extensive academic background as Angela’s. To top it all, she is incredibly friendly! Please, join me in this interview to know more about this wonderful person!

Image (c) Angela Sasser

Angela, you have had a very intense and interesting education regarding art. Can you please tell our readers about it? How has it helped you so far as an artist?

Where to begin? I spent a long time trying to decide what I wanted to do with myself when I was younger. I always knew that I wanted to be involved in illustration and storytelling, but as a young dreamer, I was discouraged from pursuing it as a profession because it was seen as a fool’s errand and a profession that wouldn’t allow me to put food on the table.

I went to college with every aspiration to be an English teacher, since I had an equal love for storytelling and it was a profession at which I could make a modest living.  As time passed, I tacked on a second major in Studio Art and the two majors battled for dominance over what I was going to do with the rest of my life. I also took several business and art education courses in an attempt to find out just what it was I wanted to do with myself.

In the end, I decided I was more interested in the creation of art (even after achieving a Masters in Arts Administration), despite the fact it still took some time to convince myself I was good enough to succeed on my own merits. If my varied education has taught me anything, it’s that confidence in yourself and your art is the essential ingredient to success!  (Learning basic marketing strategies can’t hurt your chances either).

Tell us about your thesis, could you give us an outline of your findings?

For my thesis to complete my MA in Arts Administration at SCAD, I tackled the topic of e-marketing for artists.  My thesis examines the evolution of patrons of the Arts, specifically how these individuals have evolved from an elderly well-off group of appreciators to a younger audience rising up to take their place using internet as the fulcrum of their support. I also breakdown some of the more prominent methods of marketing online that artists can utilize and how many of these internet-based organizations were founded and developed.  I actually started many of my social media pages for my studio as experiments to record research findings for my thesis.

It all boils down to the fact that the arts, particularly those that are considered ‘niche’, are finding new audiences and enthusiasm thanks to the internet and social media!  I have it in mind to rewrite my thesis as a handbook to e-marketing for artists, but that is still in the very skeletal phases while I put my energy into promoting Angelic Visions.  For those who’d like to read my thesis, you can do so at the Savannah College of Art & Design’s libraries in Savannah and Midtown Atlanta where it is kept on file.

If you had to choose one single thing, what is the one decision that has influenced your artistic career the most?

Image (c) Angela Sasser

Hands down it is the decision to work on Angelic Visions for Impact Books.  I had resigned myself to a very desolate job search after finishing grad school when they approached me about doing a book for them.  My experimental efforts in marketing myself for my thesis had paid off, especially for the fact that the editor who found me did so via Google’s search engine!  It was proof this wasn’t the fool’s errand so many claimed it to be and gave me the push and confidence in my work that I needed to get going in my career.  I’m still at the beginning of my journey, technically, but the fine folks at F+W Media (Impact’s main company) got me started and forced me to focus on what I needed to do.  They gave me the push I needed to find out what I was really capable of as an artist!

Can you call yourself a “Jack of all trades”?

I’d like to say so, but I am still a novice at so many things!  I’m a novice leathercrafter (crafting for less than a year now), a hobbyist writer (too many projects waiting to be written), a web designer (I worked as one for a few years in college before programming languages left me behind), a freelance editor (when I have the time), and a would-be artist’s agent (I have the training, even though I am currently working for myself till I feel set on my own path).  All in all, I have interests in many different disciplines, but don’t quite feel a master of them all yet!  Even still, life would be boring I did not learn something new every day!

How has each discipline you practice affected your artwork?

Without this odd combination of skills, I don’t think I could be as independent as I am. If I want my website updated, I do it myself. If I want to make a budget for a convention, I do it myself. It’s been interesting learning more about leathercrafting as well, as it’s really given me wonderful insight on how my characters might function in their armor and even more inspiration for designing armor in a visual sense.  I am a firm believer in learning to do things for yourself. When you have a shoestring budget, it can be a lifesaver!

How did you get started on the masks business?

I’m still somewhat new to mask-making, but I bought my first leather hide over two years ago now along with my friend Brenda (Windfalcon on DA).  She took one half and I took the other. The hide sat in my closet for a

Image (c) Angela Sasser

whole year while I was busy with other things.  Eventually, after drooling over Brenda’s gorgeous feather and leather designs and viewing tutorials by the wonderful Andrea Masse (Merimask on DA), I finally got off my duff and started playing around myself. It was amazing how easy it was for a non-3D minded person like myself to pick up leathercrafting!  Leather surfaces take acrylic paints much like canvas and tooling designs in leather is also very meditative in its tediousness.

Are you a full time artist? How do you deal with this recession?

I am a full time artist and I will be bluntly honest in saying that it if were not for the help of my loving family, I would be working a day job right now to help pay the bills.  They supported me while I took time off to write Angelic Visions and are still supporting me during my endeavors to promote the book. More practically, I’ve been dealing with the recession by providing cheaper, smaller, and easier to produce items, such as ACEO prints and leather keychains which people can invest in small doses without stretching their budgets too far or feeling guilty for spending large sums of money.

The funniest thing about this recession is that if you find the right market to present your work, you can still find buyers! For instance, I did pretty well this year at DragonCon because it is such a large event. There were people in attendance with the willingness and appreciation to pay money for original artisan crafted work, which made it a great market for me.  Smaller events, however, have been somewhat of a bust for me this year.  Mostly I am picking my venues and events more carefully so I can keep the budget for peddling my wares manageable.  You really have to learn to read the mood and crowd of an event so you can predict where you’ll sell better next time.

Tell us about your book.

My book, Angelic Visions, came to be after Pamela Weissman over at F+W Media found my work online and approached me about creating an angel book for them.  From a business standpoint, they knew there was a market for more feminine watercolors after the success of Stephanie Pui Mun Law’s Dreamscapes and they needed someone who could provide a similar book while still being unique.

For me, it was a chance to bring a lifelong obsession with the topic of angels to fruition by combining so many interests, including mythology, painting, theology, and art history into a book that I pretty much had free reign to do what I wanted with!  And so Angelic Visions was born! It is a 125 page tome with many inspirational prompts on character design, demos on using different media, and tidbits of angelic information sprinkled throughout.

Image (c) Angela Sasser

Who is Aurora Adonai? And why does she show up so much in your work?

Ah Aurora. Like so many characters playing poker in my head when not in use, she pops up at her own discretion, usually when I have too much to do.  Aurora was originally a sassy backtalking Shadowrun character of mine – an Elven Street Samurai, to be exact! (Yes, I am a closet geek) She came from a setting that combined technology with the resurgence of magic in a decaying futuristic world.

Something about that backdrop and the way it brought to life a uniquely dark and visually interesting character stuck with me through the years.  She’s yet another pet project awaiting a novel or graphic novel.  If anyone is curious to learn more about her and the other major characters in my artwork, I’ve written a blog series on my ‘muses’ here.

What is the importance of your artist friends in your development as an artist?

First, I should say that all of my friends, including the non-artistic ones, are a precious vein of support that keep me going! Kindred spirits who can weather discussion on topics from gender roles in novels to the best way to bake a potato are a priceless commodity. Those special few of my friends who are also creative professionals prove to me that there are others who are as equally insane to embark on this ‘fool’s errand’ of being an artist.  By supporting one another and sharing information, we pave the road for others and inspire one another in a way we may not have been inspired before!

Where can our readers find your art?

Readers can find my art at my professional online portfolio, http://www.angelicshades.com. I’m known to hang out mainly on DeviantART, where I have a large presence under my studio name – http://angelic-shades.deviantart.com. You Facebook addicts out there can keep up at http://www.facebook.com/AngelicShadesStudio. Finally, I have a blog at http://blog.angelicshades.com with discussions, announcements, and other tidbits of advice.

Brenda Lyons
I’ve known Angela for several years. Before I actually met her, I remember seeing her work online and saying, “wow, I hope someday I’m able to draw as well as her.” Years later, I still see her work and find myself admiring her ability with color, line, and inspiration. She has a determination that follows her into success, and I have a feeling this book will be first of many projects to come.

Samantha Hogg
Ang has been a dear friend and a huge inspiration to me for some years now, and it’s wonderful to see her work finally getting into the public’s eye with her up coming Angelic Visions book! We’ve often spent many a night feeding each other’s project fairies and incurring moar research (inside gag :D) and she’s always been there to offer me thoughts and advice on art and the world beyond. You couldn’t hope to meet a more enthusiastic, imaginative and downright sweet human being, I count myself very lucky indeed to know the lady.

Image (c) Angela Sasser

Find your voice, say something! Finding your own style in art.

1 04 2011

cover art (c) Luis Royo

I remember the first time I read about “finding your voice” in art, about “saying something” and I thought “what if I have nothing to say? Back then I understood that I had to say something significant, with maybe a political flare or perhaps with a strong message. Later I understood that we all have something to say, even if it will not change the world. I like to do illustrations that are beautiful and fun, there are things I’d never do, such as extreme violence, gore and porn; so I guess there was a lot I wanted to say and a lot I did not.

Also I came to understand that having a “voice” is an equivalent of having your own style. Regardless of if you will become the next Picasso o Monet, it is about a style that represents you, that you can express yourself through and that it is not copied from, let’s say, Disney.

I saw years ago art by this artist in DA, he was good, but his drawing might have as well sprouted from a Disney movie, and while that is very valid, he would deny that he was copying Disney and would sustain that he had a style that was his. Unfortunately years later his skills have not evolved one bit. He is denying reality and bringing himself to stagnation. And while he might get a job as a Disney animator he will never be recognized as himself but as “that guy that draws Disney stuff” (even when his characters are original).

I mentioned something about young artists finding their own style instead of *only* copying one other artist that they admire in my facebook and that ensued a very interesting

Cover art (c) Dan dos Santos

discussion with other artists! It was fascinating to read through the different opinions and ideas! I never hoped for such an enriching interaction when I posted that question but the interesting thing is that mostly we all agree in the following:

If you are doing art because it makes you happy and all you want from it is to draw to be happy, not becoming a professional artist and not artistic growth, by all means do whatever you want. Be it exploring your style, copying Amy Brown or painting with your penis (beware NSFW!). BUT (yes, big “but”) if you are after artistic development, growth and establishing yourself as an artist in your own right, with the possibility of gaining recognition some day, you should not box yourself in the idea of “I want to draw just like so and so”.

Cover art (c) Kinuko Craft

I used to get really angsty about having a style. Do I have a style? Will I ever have a style? How will I get a style? How will I know I have a style? It is hard to tell by yourself if you have a style until that style is there, blatantly biting you in the face, but before that you will start to have people telling you that they could tell a piece was yours before reading who made it. And how do you get that style? well, drawing, painting, exploring the possibilities. It seems like circular logic, but it is the way to do it.

One of the things that we talked about with my friends was on how copying for learning is a great exercise, you should go and copy from Klimt to Leonardo and anybody you can find interesting. This gives you an idea of the process, of the mechanisms that these people used to create art. This will help you grow as an artist because in your explorations you will find what works for you and what doesn’t, what elements you absolutely love and which ones you can live without. And as you explore and copy and learn, your style settles itself.

The problem arises when you are so infatuated with one single artist that all you want is to draw like this person, not talking about inspiration by other artists but just down right copying them. I used to say “I would love to paint like Stephanie Pui Mun Law!” or “Oh, how I’d like to paint like Ciruelo Cabral!” But the truth is that I never wanted to do it like them. I wanted their talent, their skill, their mastery. I wanted to reach that excellence level, which I still need to work so hard to achieve! I would hate to be “that chick that copies Ciruelo”, I want people to think “oh, yes, that is a piece by Constanza (or Coty, or Faerywitch, whatever you fancy).” And I think I am slowly but surely progressing in that direction.

We also talked about niche. If you want to be a cover artist you have to be able to imitate the styles of cover artists, right? In my opinion, wrong. If you want to be a cover artist you have to be beyond good, you have to be excellent (talking about big publishers here). I have seen cover art done by Ciruelo, Royo, dos Santos, Craft, all of them highly recognizable in their unique style. The only thing that groups them together is that they are incredibly skilled and very hard working people. So if you want to appeal to a certain niche, sure, there are certain things you have to do, but you will be better off having your own personal style than just copying another artist as is.

Cover art (c) Stephanie Pui Mun Law

The discussion in Facebook was wonderful, I would love to know more about what other people think. Please, leave a comment if you have something to say because this topic is fascinating!