Wednesday, October 22, 2014

5 Things a first time author should know.

I've been doing a lot of reflection lately.

Next year is the 10th anniversary of the release of my first book, A Book About Design; Complicated Doesn't Make it Good. Getting a book published through a major publisher is one of the things, if not THE thing, I'm most proud of accomplishing in my life so far. It's amazing to think it's already been that long.

In 2005, my eyes were the size of dinner plates. My first book had been released, positive reviews were coming in from all sides and I was even favorably reviewed by The New York Times!

Almost 10 years and 7 books later I'm now a little closer to reality. My feet are planted firmly on the ground and there are a few things I wish I had known then as a first time author.

In no particular order.

1. You've got about 6 months to make sales.
So many books come out every year, there's always the next new thing. With the advance of self publishing, the white noise is only that much louder. Your book is just one more struggling to be noticed. After about 6 months, if it hasn't caught lightning in a bottle, it's probably old news.

2. So You're probably not going to make more than your advance.
Traditional publishers typically give advances. Money provided to the author against the sales of the book. Unless you're the next Polar Express or Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus (and I'm certainly not either of those) that's likely all the income you'll see from your books. Publishers have it pretty much down to a science, they know what to expect in sales and they know what to offer. Everything else is a surprise.

3. If it's not ready, don't do it.
I really like the idea behind my 4th book, A Wish For Elves, but it wasn't ready. I was trying to do too many different things all at the same time with it. I wanted the art to be simple but I wanted multiple panels per page. I wanted it to be colorful but monochromatic. I wanted it to be funny but sentimental. Mostly, I wanted it to be better. It needed more time and I wasn't brave enough to tell the publisher that. The graphic artist in me didn't want to blow the deadline. I regret that and always will.

(Side note: The Spooky Box is much more like what I was hoping A Wish for Elves had been.)

4. It's up to you to promote yourself.
Don't wait for the publisher. Don't wait for anyone else. Put yourself out there and make connections with people. If they don't like what you're doing, screw 'em. That's something I didn't do nearly enough in the beginning. When I started, Facebook was barely a thing. Twitter didn't exist and you had to dial up the web over your home phone. It's a hard thing to ask for support. It feels too much like begging or bragging or both for me. I'm still trying.

5. It's the best job/not a job in the world.
I wanted to end on a high note. I love this. This is the life I've wanted since I can remember wanting anything at all. I literally can't see myself doing anything else. I hope I get to continue doing it. There are amazing highs and miserable downs but every day is a new opportunity, a new idea, and a new page.

Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

The first book I ever remember reading.

The first book I can remember sitting down and reading of my own free will was a hardcover collection of Aesop's Fables. It was probably the illustrations that drew (no pun intended) me to the book to begin with.

I doubt I understood a lot of the stories but there was one that I got. The Crow and the Pitcher. That's the one where a thirsty crow keeps dropping pebbles into a pitcher in order to raise the water enough so it can get a drink. For some reason that one stuck in my brain.

Take on your problems one pebble at a time. It's helped a lot over the years to keep a concept like that in my mind. It's also been on my mind a lot lately that it's a lesson I need to learn again every so often.

This time around, I decided to put my own interpretation down on paper (or on screen would be more accurate these days).

To date, I've done eight different Aesop Fables minimalist posters. I'm sure do more eventually, but for now, it's eight. Each poster is a different fable in a nine panel narrative (as well as the text from the fable).

You can see all 8 here. I'm doing another kickstarter in the hopes that I be able to print a run of all 8 fable posters.

If you like them, you can help make that happen. I'd really appreciate it!


PS. Or you could help by sharing the link! : )

Thursday, October 09, 2014

Happy Halloween!

It's that time of the year again! The time of year where my thoughts turn to Vampires, Werewolves, and Witches (more-so than usual I mean).

Continuing the coloring book theme from the last post I decided to do a series of Halloween coloring pages. Enjoy!

If you like these pages, check out my Halloween kids book, The Spooky Box! (This is an Amazon link but it's most likely available from your preferred book source or possibly even your local book seller!).

Check out for more art and Halloween stuff too, thanks!


Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Hidden Letter Coloring Alphabet

My most recent book, Counting on Letters, got me thinking more about, well... letters. That combined with a long time fondness of coloring inspired me to make Line by Line: A Hidden Alphabet Coloring Book.

I started out thinking it was going to be a stained glass kind of look but it was really more freeform than that. I let the letter dictate the shapes around it. Very linear letters are surrounded by more straight lines and rounded letters would get more circles and arcs. It was a fun, quick little project that I'm happy to share.

Here's a link to a free PDF of the complete book.

If you like this you should check out for more.


Thursday, October 02, 2014

The Last One to One Hundred!

Hi everyone! This is the last 48 hours for the final One to One Hundred project. We're at 80%! Help support this project and future design projects. 1000 designs!
FREE international shipping on top rewards! : )

One to One Hundred started out as an experiment in graphic design. The concept was simple, to combine numbers with graphic design elements to create something unique. The result, which was far from simple, was a unique series of posters representing the numbers 1-100. Thanks for your support!

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Fast Company has a new article about my Letters by the Number project.

If you can click through and share the link, that'd be very cool of you. Thanks!!

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Letters by the Number is LIVE!

Launched! The Letters by the Number project is now live and running on Kickstarter. I'm really happy with how the card and poster designs have come out. 

It's an alphabet card set where each design is based on that letters placement in the alphabet so 1A, 2Bs, 3Cs and so on to 26Zs.

Take a look, hope you like it and share.


Starting Scratchboard.

I played around with scratchboard a bit in art school but it wasn't until after I had graduated that I really took an interest in it. Among the first things I did in scratchboard were the Mr.Oblivious comic strips. There are certainly artists out there that use scratchboard as an elegant medium of great detail but I prefer to use it more like a chisel against stone. If things don't turn out exactly how intended all the better. 

When I would draw with pencil and paper it's was hard to not see all the flaws and compare myself with every other comic artist out there. With scratchboard, it's ALL flaws. It's never what I think I want and I'm forced to let all that other stuff go. 

I've taken a bit of a break from Mr.O lately but someday I'll get back to it. In the meantime, ALL 3 of my scratchboard Mr.Oblivious comic books for the Kindle on Amazon are now FREE through this FRIDAY. Behind the scenes sketches and comments for each cartoon. Check it out. Thanks!