The Portfolio Review went well!

Photobooths are cool, originally uploaded by pejnolan.
Three things have happened:

1. I attended the portfolio review at Spudnik Press in Chicago.

2. An advertising firm from Montreal, Canada requested an illustration

3. Rick Dale and Kelly from the History Channel's American Restoration thanked me personally for creating an invitation for a Petrol-Mania party.

Paul came in to the city with me for Spudnik's portfolio review. I was nervous about walking back to the "El" in the dark. There were three reviewers from opposite ends of the art spectrum. It was extremely helpful to know what certain aspects of the art community are looking for from an artist.
The first reviewer was Dawn Hancock is the owner and managing director of Firebelly Design. Seriously, take a peek at their website. (I'll wait … ) Right?! It is freaking awesome!

She was very excited about my work from a commercial standpoint. Her exact words were, "Quit your day job and do this full-time." She said that I have a phenomenal talent that really showed through with my portfolio. She loved the personal background stories and meanings behind each piece and mentioned that it really added to the artwork. As an added bonus, she mentioned that she has a pop-up show planned in about three weeks to benefit people in need during the holidays and that she would like to have my work in the show.

Mark Pascale, the Curator for the Department of Prints and Drawings at The Art Institute of Chicago, was my second reviewer. I was most interested in his opinion because I want my work to be of fine art quality, not just a crafty-person or hobbyist. He had many suggestions:
One of my "textural, sculptural" pices
• "Continue to develop the textural, sculptural pieces." This was a fresh of breath air. I had a show at Kishwaukee College called "Cricket and Sparrow." My idea for this show was to show the textures and patterns found in nature. I was very proud of this set of work. Well, no one purchased those pieces. From the feedback I received, I didn't think they were very successful. When I said this to Mr. Pascale, he thought that it was the type of audience and not the artwork.
• He suggested using embossing using a press
Earthtone Aqucolor inks made this print stand out.
• He enjoyed the earthtone colors and said that it was interesting because it was unexpected. If the same print used black ink, he suggested that it would be more illustrative than art. (I think this point was interesting because I had mentioned that my degree will be illustration. I wonder how much this statement had consciously or unconsciously formed his opinion.
• He wanted to see much larger work possibly created with a Dremel.
• He suggested making several editions using the same block, but using different color palettes to show many moods. At this point he asked if I had heard of the artist named Arthur Wesley Dow. I hadn't, but told him I would study up when I came home.
• Finally he told me not to try for perfection, that imperfection can add to a piece's meaning and context.
• He liked the idea of returning to get my degree at NIU and said that the printmaking department was well respected.  He mentioned that he knew Michael Barnes who would be my graduate instructor.
Angela Bryant liked the cultural symbols in this piece.
The last review was shortened due to time. Angela Bryant is director and owner of Abryant Gallery, a rotating contemporary art gallery for new and emerging artists. Angela is also the new director of Dominican University’s O’Connor Art Gallery. She represented the Gallery side of art. The best information I received from her was to return to the Australian Aboriginal origins of my artwork. She wanted to see the same patterns and textures, energy and linework used in my pen and inks and acrylics. This prospect excited me and gave me a new perspective. She also liked the idea of using symbols like the ones used for the ImaBridge Africa.
Returning to the ideas behind the Australian Aboriginal origins of my art is exciting!
When I originally returned to my artwork I was doing it for me because it was fun. Over the last couple years, because of experimentation with different techniques and also because I am no longer doing work just for myself; the process has come to feel more like work than play. It is hard not to think of subject matter, sizes and colors that will sell vs. what I want to do. This is just a growing pain of the business of art. There is a balance that needs to be achieved. The idea of returning to doing artwork because it is what I want, doing my best not to be overly influenced by the pressure of sales or competition between other artists, makes it exciting to think about.

I was asked to create an illustration for Huetopia in Montreal, Canada. This was really a fun piece to do! Although I want to be known as a fine art printmaker, my day job is as a graphic designer, creative consultant, and illustrator at OC Imageworks in DeKalb, Illinois, USA. One thing I love to do it to create vector illustrations. I didn't have a clear image to work with, so this is an amalgamation of several references of scarlet macaws. It turned out really well and I am particularly fond of the way the feathers at the ends of the wings appear as if the sunlight is shining through them like stained glass. I hope to be doing more work with Huetopia in the future. Thank goodness for the networking possibilities of the internet.
Rick Dale and Kelly form "American Restoration"
Lastly, I created an interactive, multi-piece invitation for a local party featuring Rick and Kelly Dale from "American Restoration" television show on the History Channel. Unfortunately I don't have a pic of the invitation, but I will get one soon and repost. Rick and Kelly liked the invitation so much that they requested to be introduced to me before the end of the evening. I had my picture taken with them, but I don't have permission to use the photo. Instead, I have my blurry camera phone pictures.

They are a super-nice, down to earth couple with larger than life personalities. Basically, Rick said that he was a small business owner who had some lucky breaks. You could tell he was so thankful and appreciative of everything and everyone that has propelled him and his company into people's homes through the show.

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