Making Good on Randomness

Up top there is the mention of this blog containing, "Randomness." But there hasn't been much in awhile. So here is a collection of random thoughts and news. In the past I might have made some of these (like new product details) their own posts. Going bi-weekly, that's not fair to do. I'll start there:

Printed things:


Great Northern Games just published its successfully Kickstarted game, "Noble Treachery," which features a number of my illustrations in the game, licensed for use. I often get people looking to commission work who maybe don't have a budget to commission portfolio-quality works from me, but would like some. Licensing is a great way to do that, and GNG was able to get some nice art for their game by going that route. Learn more about Licensing via this free pamphlet I wrote. The game is a 4-6 player, standalone game.

As it happens, I took Noble Treachery with me for my Thanksgiving family visit. I played it with my nephews and niece. The game has a bit of a steep learning curve. I sat for a bit and just read over the rules so I could internalize them before attempting to teach them to these younger players, the oldest of whom was 15, the youngest of whom was a bit under the 12+ age recommendation. 2 had played Magic in the past, 2 had no experience with those types of games. Those latter two took a bit longer to acclimate, and the youngest player struggled a bit to grasp hold of all the intricacies, while occasionally scoring a great play still.

The first game we played was a bit of a mess as we all learned together what the heck was going on. There are a number of upkeep-related items that need to be done each turn, and we ended up forgetting to do some of them, which affected the game. Nevertheless, everyone got familiar and enjoyed it. The next day, they were all asking to play again, and that night we did and played two much more fun rounds. I don't often get to enjoy the products I work on, but in this case I was able to. I gave my copy of the game to 2 of my nephews (brothers), who the next day then roped their parents into playing. Needless to say, it was a hit.

Grab a copy if you'd like!

Magic stuff: I missed a couple of reprints that came out over the past few months. "Soul Warden" appeared in the Modern Event Deck. "Hypnotic Specter" was reprinted for the Duel Decks: Jace vs. Vraska product.

My painting, "Alieis," was likewise licensed by Asimov's Science Fiction magazine for its Jan.2015 issue, which went on sale 11/25/2014. Back in High School and through Art School in the early 90s, I used to read Asimov's magazine regularly. That it often reprinted fantastic art by some of my favorite artists was no small reason why. I endeavored that eventually I'd see my art on the cover of Asimov's. Then life took its own turns and magazines began shrinking in importance, and I got involved in many other things and it kind of fell of my radar. But then it happened. The image was, unfortunately, quite, um...adjusted. Didn't see that coming. I might've made adjustments myself, if needed. Well, you know the real deal.

Art things:

I signed my signature to 7 paintings in the past month before Thanksgiving break, some of which were in progress for a long time and I just finished up, others very much new. It's an odd feeling to know there hasn't been a lot of new art here lately, since there's plenty sitting around my studio that you haven't seen yet. I look forward to sharing some or all of this work with you in 2015.

That said, I also snuck in this 3x3 white back artist proof sketch, my biggest yet. It was done by purchasing 9 of the same card, each with its sketch option. So, a little pricey but take a look.

You can order your own single-card or some other configuration drawing here.


Other things: I am now a first-time member of the Oil Painters of America, after being juried in on my first attempt. Apart from supporting a movement of traditional painting rooted in realism in general, it also opens up opportunities to show my work in new venues, and I look forward to learning from other artists in the association and bringing a dose of Imaginative Realism to it, perhaps.

Paintings in Limbo

Yep, a bit slow around here lately. As I approach the tenth anniversary of Exit Within, I had intended that I would switch up my publishing schedule to bi-weekly. But it looks like life may have moved me into that place already.

As I continue to work on projects which I can't show yet, I am reminded of the many projects that have come and gone over the years that I've never been able to show. These would be paintings in limbo. Sometimes, projects get cancelled mid-stream. Sometimes they are indefinitely delayed. Other times, the product is published but the art is not included for a myriad of reasons (and sometimes, that art may reappear later). Often, publishers get First Publication rights, which means just that--if they haven't published it, I can't. Sometimes they get around to letting me show the work under stipulations that I not discuss what it was used for. Sometimes they go bankrupt and the contacts and rights go into a second legal limbo. I might be able to regain the ability to show the work, but by the time it's clear that it's time to try, I've moved on in my art and wouldn't much care to show it off anymore anyway.

Here, then, are a few of the pieces that come to mind which are stuck in one form or another of publishing limbo:

  • Since 1994 I think there have been... at least 12 pieces done for Magic: the Gathering that went into limbo. I asked and was allowed to show two of them over the years without really saying they were for Magic. 2-3 of those have been posted online by Wizards since then.
  • Of the above, 4.5 of them were alternate versions of cards that released. Early in my career I would sometimes do the approved sketch and then mid-stream come up with another idea and so just paint that too, then submit them both for publication, letting them choose. Card art was smaller and faster in those days. One I know was killed because the art sucked--it was published having been reassigned to another artist who, interestingly, got a different/better description than I got, apparently.
  • The .5 piece is the "Ascendant" half of "Rune-Tail, Kitsune Ascendant," which was killed when mid-assignment, the Art Director liked the rune-in-the-sky interpretation of one illustrator doing another of those flip-cards, and asked the rest of the artists to swap out their Ascendant side to match that theme.
  • One of them is an alternate version of "Tempting Licid" which was actually more of the Art Director's fault than anything. I understood the AD to have approved the sketch, and painted it. As I neared completion I was told that it had not in fact been approved, and I ended up having to start again....Wizards has implemented much tighter and explicit controls around this since those days.
  • In 1995 I painted the cover to an old WotC-published magazine called, "The Duelist." There is an alternate unpublished cover to that. I turned in the original and the Art Director was fine with it but not loving it as much as I'd hoped, so I immediately painted another cover and they much preferred that and ran it instead. I preferred the second attempt better, too. Note that I always did this sort of thing on my own dime, in the interest of trying to satisfy my client, without being asked. If I'd been better as a younger illustrator, of course it would have been completely unnecessary.
  •  A couple of early pieces for Vampire: the Eternal Struggle card game were painted but the cards killed in production. This was my first professional gig. A couple of later pieces had alternate versions produced in the same manner as above...I was not particularly confident as a young illustrator.
  • At least one illustration commissioned for Netrunner was similarly killed in production.
  • Over the years a couple of Dungeons & Dragons spot illustrations were moved from one book to appear in another. A couple, as far as I know, were never published.
  • A couple of early World of Warcraft cards were cut. Let's just say it took a bit for a lot of artists to get the hang of Blizzard's very peculiar style. There was a lot of art cut out of that first set, across the board.
  • Some illustrations for an educational graded-reader. UPDATE: this was finally released.
  • One licensed Star Wars-related painting.
  • Multiple illustrations for 2 mobile games, one of which had production killed before release, the other of which may have been published but the foreign client is no longer responding to emails about it to confirm.

I'm sure I missed a couple. It would be tempting for me to do the math on how many months of work have never seen the light of day over the course of 20 years. Maybe half a year? In the early days, that art was being churned out very quickly, but it's gotten much slower (and better) over time, so recent losses are more painful on this front. It's also nice to know that whereas earlier in my career there were more limbo pieces due to quality issues--me deciding I needed to produce alternates because I was unsure of what I was doing, or a couple of cases of just making bad art, it mostly has become just a matter of art succumbing to the vagaries of publishing.

Although, in doing a bit of research on this, I did find out that at least one piece was finally shown so I can talk about it, so perhaps I'll do that next!

Science Fiction Book Club Catalog, Feb. 2014

When I was younger, in college I think, I spent a little time as a member of the Science Fiction Book Club. I was a voracious reader in those days (before Life happened), and the SFBC helped fill my need to read with inexpensive hardcovers of then-recent releases and classics of the genre. Then, as now, they would often license the original cover art for their reissues. Sometimes, they would commission original illustrations for books or for omnibus editions, which was also great.

Back in 1996 (and probably a few times after), I submitted work for consideration by SFBC. That didn't transpire. So I was particularly thrilled when, a few months back, SFBC Art Director Matthew Kalamidas saw and licensed "Alieis" for use as the cover to their Feb.2014 catalog.

Incidentally, that was the same day (and at the same table) as SooJin was at when she too licensed it for PLANSPONSOR Magazine! It was an unusually productive lunch.

Thanks to SFBC for using the work. It took 18 years, but I made an SFBC publication!

And don't forget that the full-length video demo of Alieis is still available.