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Posts tagged “weird art

Weekly Weird Art: Casey Weldon

By Sam Reeve

Casey Weldon comes from southern California, but now works out of Brooklyn. He paints a lot of four-eyed cats. You can see more of his work on his website, and also on his tumblr. His tumblr is really worth it if you’re interested in an artist’s process, as he  posts pictures of his work at different stages.

Weekly Weird Art: Jacqueline Gallagher

By Sam Reeve

“I’m painter of Zombies and the Disturbed. Or Disturbed Zombie Painter… I forget which. These figures are contractions, beautiful and grotesque at the same time. They float through their worlds driven by craving, vanity, and addiction, caught in moments of comedic indulgence. They put themselves on display for the world as their bodies and minds slowly decay. This is how I see myself and most everyone around me. We are the Dead Living, but we sure do look good.”

Please visit Jacqueline Gallagher’s website here to see more of her work.

Weekly Weird Art: Jesse Berlin

By Sam Reeve

Today’s post will be kept short and sweet. Jesse Berlin is an American sculptor who received a BFA in 2004 from the Art Institute of Chicago, and received his MFA earlier this year.

Alan M. Clark’s Advice for Aspiring Illustrators, Part 5


In all that you do in your illustration business, show professionalism. Don’t be a slob. Organize your life. The flaky artist rarely succeeds. Society’s “temperamental artist” is a stereotype. You don’t want to be a stereotype, do you? Make the effort to speak with good grammar. When writing to people, whether by regular mail or e-mail, compose your messages carefully and spell words correctly. All of these efforts indicate a high level of interest and willingness to perform your illustration services with care and excellence. That’s exactly the message you want to convey about yourself, your methods and your work. This is an important part of how to get people to pay for your work. If you are moderately talented or better and persistent, you may very well succeed.

Your appearance is important and sends a message as well. When I was starting out in illustration and looking for work, I wore dress pants, penny loafers and oxford shirts while doing business at conventions and with art directors. I’m not suggesting these clothes are necessary, but I want to get across some of what I was willing to do to get work. I believed that was the uniform I should wear to projected an image of stability since I was trying to get work from New York mass market paperback publishers. I looked damned preppy, but my artwork spoke of my imagination for me. I wore the uniform while many of my friends who were aspiring illustrators were wearing Hawaiian shirts, sandals, and ripped jeans. I believe it helped me get work.

You might think that I’m not a ripped jeans sort of guy, but that’s far from the truth. My opinion is that if you can be conservative and responsible in your business practices and work hard, you’ll probably get the opportunity to be spontaneous and wild in your art.

After I’d been getting illustration work consistently for over ten years, my wife, Melody, said to me one day, “You’re brave to have pursued your artwork and made a good business out of it.”

She’s a sweetheart to say stuff like that to me, but I said, “No, I’m not. I worked hard because I was afraid. I feared making a living doing something I wouldn’t enjoy, something that would give me little pride.”

If you have a desire to pursue your creative talents and find an audience, it’s no small task, but I believe regret for not having tried would be much worse.


—Alan M. Clark
Eugene, Oregon

Weekly Weird Art: Jarosław Jaśnikowski

By Sam Reeve

Jarosław Jaśnikowski is a Polish surrealist whose style will seem familiar to you if you’ve seen the work of the other fabulous Polish painters Zdzisław Beksiński or Dariusz Zawadzki.

The first thing we’ll get to is the pronunciation of his name, since I don’t want any of you to sound like a tit when talking about weird art. So, to the best of my ability, Jarosław Jaśnikowski is pronounced like YAH-RO-SWAV YASH-NEE-KOV-SKEE. Just remember that the weird Ł sounds like our W, and their W is our V.

Now that our mini Polish lesson is complete…

Jaśnikowski was born in Legnica, Poland, in 1976. He’s said that Salvador Dali (note the melting clocks) and science fiction are two of his main influences. What I can glean from Google translated pages of his website is that he feels his paintings are windows into the “Alternate World” he invented, one where our laws of physics don’t apply and things basically get freaky.

To check out more of his work, visit his (all Polish) galeria here.

Art from Pure Imagination—Inventing Light and Shadow

When inventing subject matter without the aid of reference images in drawing and painting, there are a few assumptions based on my observations of the real world that I find useful.

1) All light travels in a straight line until it reaches an object, at which point it is reflected, frequently in a radiating manner, the directions of the reflection being determined by the shape of the object.
2) Ambient light is that which comes from reflection.  All objects within an environment reflect light, including the particles of gas within the negative space.  These reflections bounce all over the place, further illuminating everything within an environment. The more the light bounces, however, the less powerful is its ability to illuminate as it becomes scattered and diffuse.
3) Direct light is that which is reflected off objects directly from a light source within an environment.
4) Shadows occur where light, both direct and ambient have a hard time reaching.  Shadows vary in darkness, depending on how close they are to that which casts them.  The darkest shadows occur where the influence of ambient light is diminished by how many times it must bounce to reach the area. The farther away shadows occur from the object which casts them, the subtler they are due to the influence of ambient light.

Artwork: “If You Have Any Worth at All” copyright © 1994 Alan M. Clark

—Alan M. Clark
Eugene, Oregon

Weekly Weird Art: Daan Botlek

By Sam Reeve

***With today’s post I’m experimenting with inserting a gallery instead of just inserting a bunch of pictures, so I’d love to get feedback in the comments below about which you prefer!

Dutch artist Daan Botlek creates some wonderfully odd street art and murals, but also does illustrations and commissions. You can see his work around the world – earlier this year he participated in the Bukruk Street Art Festival in Bangkok, Thailand!




Weekly Weird Art: Salvador Dalí

Guest Post by Andrew Wayne Adams

“I don’t do drugs. I am drugs.” — Salvador Dalí

Today is Salvador Dalí’s 109th birthday. Believe it or not, he has never been a featured artist on Weekly Weird Art or Weird Art Month. Too obvious, maybe? Whatever the reason, he’s pretty pissed about it; I just got an irate phone call from him on my lobster phone:

Lobster_telephoneLobster Telephone, 1936

He said: “Buenos días, Andy! This is Salvador Domingo Felipe Jacinto Dalí i Domènech, and I am irate. I am also drugs.” I could hear his mustache fuming. “How dare Bizarro Central overlook me? Am I not the quintessential Weirdo Artist? Listen: I’m turning 109 this Saturday, and all I want for my birthday is to be the featured artist on Weekly Weird Art. That, and a flaming piano full of ants.” His mustache clapped its hands. “If you don’t grant my birthday wish, I will rise from the dead and slice up your eyeball.”

At that point, I slammed down the lobster phone. I was scared. I would do what he said.

May I present, this week’s artist: Salvador Dalí.


temptation of st anthony



Salvador Dali - Burning Giraffes and Telephones


Face of War



P.S. Melting clocks.

Andrew Wayne Adams is the author of Janitor of Planet Anilingus, a bizarro novella available from Eraserhead Press. He was born and raised in rural Ohio. It was boring. The memory of it persists.

Weekly Weird Art: Christopher Ulrich

By Sam Reeve

Christopher Ulrich’s iconographic work is heavily influenced by religion, alchemy and the occult. He’s one of my favourite artists and I’m not sure why I waited so long to share his work here.

Visit his website to see more, or give him a like on Facebook to hear his latest news.

LG_Chronocrator_Descent ulrich 9-Alligator-Lady_LG ulrich 6-Dali_LG ulrich 3-muter-spade_LG ulrich 32_Ulrich_LG_Destiny ulrich 19_Ulrich_LG_Infinity-painting ulrich 24_Ulrich_LG_Fate ulrich 30_Ulrich_LG_Eternity ulrich

Weekly Weird Art: Ron English

By Sam Reeve

Ron English is an American pop artist and culture jammer extraordinaire. English’s work has gained widespread notoriety, and his likeness even appeared on an episode of The Simpsons.

Below you’ll find examples of his street art, fine art and also the bizarre toys he creates. Visit his site to see more!

Ron English portrait toy

01_RaisingtheBrow ron english CowgirlMcDonalds ron english hailmarydetail1 ron english mcmilkshake ron english painting_marilynCartoon ron english pair of pears ron english ron english sharks Bar

cereal boxes on shelf LA SM_1 ron english street art diet coke wall queens ny ron english street art mural3 ron english street art

BLACK_MCSUPERSIZE  ron english toy

What They Didn’t Teach Me in Art School

by Alan M. Clark, Jill Bauman, Chad Savage, and Steven C. Gilberts

The names of the artist in this post are links to their websites.

Alan M. Clark—

I have a degree in painting from the San Francisco Art Institute, and while I got a lot out of that education, there’s much that I learned only after college, in the “real” world. Here’s some of what my professors didn’t teach me:

  • They didn’t teach me to be reliable, responsive, punctual, and easy to work with.
  • They didn’t teach me how to communicate and make my services as an artist salable.
  • They didn’t teach me that the world didn’t need me and my artwork and that I’d have to establish the value of my work before anyone would take me seriously.
  • They didn’t teach me that the value of artwork is based on “perceived value” and that it is up to me to raise the perceived value of my work.
  • They didn’t teach me that I needed to establish a good reputation for fulfilling the dreams of my clients if I expected to continue to get work (note that I did not say “the needs of my clients”).

Perhaps these things go without saying, but I think it would have been helpful if my professors had addressed them. Of course, I was young and full of myself and not paying attention to my teachers the way I might have. Perhaps they knew this and that practical experience was the best teacher of these basics.

When young artists ask me for advice, the first thing I say is, “Don’t be a flake.” Second thing I say is, “The business of getting work as an artist takes tenacity.” Third thing I say is, “Learn how to raise the perceived value of your work.”

Jill Bauman—

What they didn’t teach me in art school was how to deal with the emotional ups & downs of an art career. That was left to parents, siblings and friends who questioned the practical aspects of my life as an artist.

They didn’t teach me how to be original or to set myself apart from other artists. This I had to discover on my own. They taught basic skills, but not how to “think” as an artist.

Art school does not teach you how to present yourself and your art to galleries or art directors.

They didn’t teach me about money management or setting up funds for retirement or investment. Working as a free lance artist can be a rocky financial road.

They didn’t teach me anything about the business end of art. There were no courses in copyright protection, contracts, tax deductions or artists’ rights.

They didn’t teach me about the struggles to pay heath insurance.

As an artist I followed my dream. I was willing to pay the consequences when it came to artistic, financial, emotion and spiritual challenges. The end result is that I have had a long and fruitful career. I don’t have to retire. Now, I am respected for my experience.

If I were teaching now, I would advise young artists to develop their drawing skills. I would tell them to participate in life-drawing classes–it will be the basis of everything else that they do. Then I would encourage them to find their own way of seeing the world and expressing it visually.

Don’t try to be like someone else you think is successful.

Have your own vision!

Be original!

Dress neat!

Chad Savage—

1. Personality & Integrity

When a potential employer is first informed of your existence as an artist,
if s/he’s got Brain One, s/he’ll ask his/her contemporaries “What do you
think of this artist”? You’ll be judged and juried without ever even knowing
it, based on (a) your personality and (b) your integrity. That is to say,
based on how you deal with people, and how you deal with your work.

Are you a charismatic character who meets deadlines? You’re golden.
Are you a shy, withdrawn type who meets deadlines? You’re still good to go.
Are you a prima donna jackass who meets deadlines? You might still get
Are you a charismatic character who misses deadlines? Outlook not good.
Are you a shy, withdrawn type who misses deadlines? You’ll have plenty of
time to doodle.
Are you a prima donna jackass who misses deadlines? Have fun in the vacuum
that is your life.

Be easy to get along with. Don’t miss deadlines. I can’t state it any
simpler than that. Go to conventions and buy the first round. Be funny and
entertaining at industry events. Post to industry message boards and have
something intelligent to contribute. Tell jokes. Be fun.

And don’t miss deadlines.

2. Say NO.

Seriously. Nobody taught me how to say “NO” without feeling guilty. It took
10 years of every sob-story band, writer, starving artist, et al begging and
pleading for my artistic assistance before I was able to say, with 100%
conviction and 0% guilt: NO. You don’t walk into McDonald’s and expect a
hamburger just because you’re a broke musician; don’t walk into my studio
and expect free art. My time and talents are valuable. Period. If you can’t
see that, that’s your problem.

3. Be Professional.

Any industry, no matter what its focus, is rife with political crapola,
rampaging egotism and nepotism galore. Your job? Stay out of it. Rise above.
Don’t engage in stuff that is beneath you as a professional artist, no
matter how tempting it might be. I am certainly not without sin in this
department, but the older and more experienced I get, the more I’m able to
resist it, because I’ve seen how it NEVER works to your benefit. If you’re
known as the guy/gal that is impervious to industry shenanigans, well, go
back and read Rule #1 above.

Steve Gilberts—

During my freshman and sophomore years I attended the Louisville School of Art which offered a BFA (Bachelor of Fine Arts) program. When the school closed due to financial problems, I transferred the applicable credits to the BA (Bachelor of Arts) program of a satellite campus of Indiana University. This was the only option financially available to me at that time.

While both programs taught an adequately balanced curriculum of artistic fundamentals, they considerably lacked in teaching even a basic understanding of marketing artwork or artistic skills. In fact, the prospect of creating “art for hire” was largely a forbidden topic. In general, both establishments frowned upon commercial and graphic art and viewed it as “selling out” or “prostituting one’s artwork.” The rule was “art was done for the purpose of creating art alone, not for deliberate monetary gain.” Within the later BA program, this bleak financial future was not helped by the large amount of non-art required (and expensive) courses the degree demanded. Additionally, I encountered what has been a common complaint among many of my professional peers. Particularly within the BFA program (but also present within the BA program) there was an outspoken majority of both upper class-men and faculty that were openly opposed to fantasy and science fiction illustration. Once, when I mentioned my interest in fantasy illustration to a senior, her reply to me was “Don’t worry Steve, we’ll burn that idea out of you.” Ironically she was not saying this to be mean. She actually meant this as a positive and inevitable outcome of the BFA program.

Now I don’t mean to undermine the value of a college education in the arts. My time spent in the classroom was invaluable in learning the basics of composition, design, and color theory. Indeed, I feel that it is my background in the fine arts that has given my work a distinctive edge that helps people to identify my work.

But for the amount of money and time that an art degree costs, there should always be at least the potential of financial opportunity in compensation. Art for art’s sake might be a philosophy worthy of those who are independently wealthy, a Sunday hobbyist, or a tenured professor. But for a large number of artists, illustrating for a living is how the bills are paid.

In regards to higher education, my advice to young artists is that a college degree is a worthy endeavor, provided you avoid some pitfalls.

If possible, attend a Bachelor of Fine Arts program rather than a Bachelor of Arts program so that you will be able to concentrate on art. While I understand that it does not hurt to have a well rounded education, courses not specific to a degree should be chosen by the student or at least the faculty teaching the degree, not the financial department of the university.

Make sure the program will provide you with the opportunity to grow in your skills, not stifle them.

Develop your own style. I can’t stress that enough. During my college years I saw fellow students emulate the styles of favored instructors. The instructors and their work are still around, but their imitators have vanished. Conversely, some instructors tried to churn out clones of themselves. Professors of this type are best avoided as they can cause damage to a developing artist.

Don’t buy into the philosophy that creating art for profit is demeaning and lessens the value of the piece. This philosophy doesn’t apply to the endeavors of teachers, lawyers, musicians or doctors, nor should it apply to artists.
Artwork: The quad of images above is formed of artwork done by the artists who wrote this article; top left—Alan M. Clark, top right—Jill Bauman, bottom left—Chad Savage, and bottom right—Steven C. Gilberts.

Weekly Weird Art: Oliver Hibert

By Sam Reeve

Oliver Hibert’s illustrations are at once a psychedelic throwback to the art of the 60s and a surreal look into a colourful future. Born in Seattle in 1983, he started exhibiting at a very young age. With art this hard to ignore, it’s no wonder that at the age of 18 his work was used in an MTV music video. Besides MTV, Oliver has worked with the likes of Nike, Disney, Adidas (and many more).

Visit his website here to see more work.

The StairingGirl

Invisible - Gateway

Peppermint Twin

Invisible Mirror

Secret Twins




Basic RGB

Alan M. Clark’s Advice for Aspiring Illustrators, Part 4

Working Freelance as an Illustrator

Many of us see the prospect of being a self-employed artist as a great adventure.  As young artists we often develop both a glowing, idealistic picture of what it is like to work freelance, and quite a lot of dread that in the pursuit we might become just another cog in someone else’s creative wheel.  These aren’t unreasonable ideas.  The reality is that working for oneself is as tough or tougher than any other job—and job it is, love it or not.  I had my share of unrealistic assumptions when I started out.  Much of those assumptions and quite a bit of concern on my part revolved around the issue of creative freedom.

If a client is paying me to be creative, they want to feel confident they’re making a good investment.  Therefore I must give my client a very good idea what they are paying for.  At the same time, I must do this before I actually produce and deliver the final product to protect myself from having done a lot of work that might not be right for the client.  At the very least, a client will want to see a sketch of what the finished artwork will look like.  Some will want more preliminary work, possibly several sketches to choose from and then a rough color rendering of the image chosen before the finished work is done.

This “pinning down” of the image can become somewhat mechanical and frustrating.  Making that part of the process interesting is entirely up to me, and sometimes that takes some effort if I’m not thrilled with the subject matter. If illustration is to be a creative pursuit, there needs to be sufficient spontaneity and discovery in my process to keep the work fresh and retain my interest in producing it. Many artists have difficulty reconciling the two.

I did too, once upon a time.

As young artists we often become interested in illustration because we see the imagination involved and are fascinated.  We too have powerful imaginations and want to express ourselves.  We develop our talents and become eager to display our wild imaginings.  Entering into the business of illustration, however, we find that the look of our work is subject to the whims of art directors or editors.  Sometimes, instead of feeling grateful that we are being paid to use our talents, we feel our artistic integrity is at risk.

I felt this way too, at first.

But just what are we talking about here? Could it be that once we produce a piece of work that is not entirely our own conception, we lose sight of our goals? Will our artistic vision be so compromised by the experience that we must wander the earth thereafter as broken imaginations, wasted talents, having become artists who have lost our grip on our own thoughts, feelings and convictions?

Hell no!

I discovered early on that illustration is just a job or rather a whole string of jobs. As a freelance artist, I can take what jobs I want. If I take a job I don’t like, I’ll complete the work to my client’s satisfaction, but I might not take another like it. It’s my choice. And in the meantime, I have plenty of time to create my own work, pieces of art that come exclusively from my own imagination, products of my own thoughts, feeling and convictions.

So when working with a publisher I show a willingness to work with them. It is not likely that my client would want me to do something completely outside my comfort zone, say, paint Elvis on black velvet or something—not that there’s anything wrong with that. The client is most likely familiar with my work, and once again, I have a choice of whether or not to take the job. Generally speaking I am chosen for a job by those who like my approach to illustration. This approach is demonstrated in my work—my choice of subject matter, medium and techniques. Therefore my rapport with a client has often begun through the body of my work even before we have met or spoken to one another.

The constraints that come with a job can be liberating, if I choose to see it that way. That is to say that they can liberate me from myself. Economy is not my first priority in creating a piece of artwork, but if a deadline is short, the job doesn’t pay well or I just don’t like the subject matter, I become very economical and deliberate in my approach to the work. I do not want to slight my client by turning in lightweight work, so the artwork must be simple but strong. This can result in pieces that are wonderful because of their simplicity. Working within constraints given by a publisher, I produce work that I would never have discovered any other way. This broadens my horizons, adds to my repertoire of techniques, helps me master new subject matter and hones my design skills.

If I find I really don’t like a job, I work twice as hard to create something I’m proud of so I don’t look back on the experience with bitterness. Most of the time I get jobs for which my work is well suited. A willingness to try new things has taken my work in exciting new directions.

I’ve learned not to fear reactions to my work—there will always be criticisms and rejections. To relinquish some control while working with another artist or art director is a chance worth taking. I have accepted that once my art is placed before an audience, it is no longer entirely my own.

Artwork: “Sideshow Surgery” copyright © 2005 Alan M. Clark. I threw painting in just to have a piece of artwork with this post. I chose it because it is a display of my wild imaginings. “Pin up” for Robert Steven Rhine’s graphic novel, Satan’s 3 Ring Circus of Hell, published by Asylum Press.

—Alan M. Clark
Eugene, Oregon

Alan M. Clark grew up in Tennessee in a house full of bones and old medical books. He has created illustrations for hundreds of books, including works of fiction of various genre, non-fiction, textbooks, young adult fiction, and childrens books. Awards for his illustration work include the World Fantasy Award and four Chesley Awards. He is the author of 12 books, including six novels, a lavishly illustrated novella, four collections of fiction, and a nonfiction full-color book of his artwork. His latest novel A PARLIAMENT OF CROWS was published by Lazy Fascist Press in the fall of 2012. Mr. Clark’s company, IFD Publishing, has released six traditional books and seventeen ebooks by such authors as F. Paul Wilson, Elizabeth Engstrom, and Jeremy Robert Johnson. Alan M. Clark and his wife, Melody, live in Oregon.

Alan M. Clark’s Advice for Aspiring Illustrators, Part 3

Perceived Value

A key issue when trying to sell your artwork and artistic abilities is PERCEIVED VALUE. (On this issue, I will at first speak the obvious, but bear with me, please.) Artwork has no monetary value until someone gives it value. The one who produces a piece of artwork most often assigns the value, but that doesn’t necessarily mean much. Often, the value of a piece of art is arrived at only when someone agrees with the artist on a price and pays it. Still, that price may not be agreeable to another, and therefore the artwork is not a good investment for possible future sale. Artists like to think their artwork is sold to people who buy it because they like it, not as an investment, and while it is true that most people do buy what they like, frequently, often wrongly, the buyer also thinks that the piece carries a particular value they might need to cash in on in the future.

Perceived value is the collective response to your work by an audience, big or small, generally a community of some size, a fan base; those who attend a venue or enjoy a genre or a particular type of product in which or with which your artwork is associated and seen. You know your abilities are valuable, but there are people all around us with their very own valuable artistic skills and in order for yours to have high value, they must stand out in some way. The more people who see your work as having high value, the more you will be paid for it.

Exposure helps. Get your work out there. Early in your career it may cost you something to do that, but think of it as an investment in the perceived value of your work. Show samples to buyers, whether commercial or private, take part in art shows, competitions, etc…

The buying public, whether it is a company or individual, wants to know that you’re consistent and reliable at what you do. A one hit wonder, or someone who occasionally squirts out a little artistic genius on their own time will not earn the kind of respect that garners ongoing success. Work for people while working for yourself. Be prolific. Reinvent yourself regularly, but don’t drop the old you when doing so. Strive for distinctiveness in your work so that you are not replaceable. Hook up with those who are putting out products or events that are highly regarded or involve other highly regarded artists, writers, and products, for the high perceived value of those colleagues and products will rub off a little on you and your work. Strive to knock the socks off of your clients and their/your audience even if it takes more effort than you’re getting paid for. Sell your original work, as the sale of your work speaks volumes to others about the desirability of it. When you’re just starting out, lower the prices you’re willing to take, sometimes to ridiculously low levels, just to make the sale. Again, consider this an investment in the perceived value of your work.

The image with this post is an acrylic painting I did in 1985, the first year I was a full-time freelance illustrator. Not much really—an afternoon’s worth of work, maybe six inches tall, by twelve wide—it was one of umpteen quick, small pieces I did to show and sell cheap at science fiction conventions that year. Just starting out in freelance illustration at the time, I was struggling to get work and exposure, so I would entered this piece, and many others like it, in the convention art shows’ silent auctions with a minimum bid of twenty-five dollars. My hope was that it would get a couple of bids, and therefore have to go to the voice auction where artwork was paraded around by runners who showed the pieces to those bidding. That way, my piece of art would get more exposure. It may have gone up in price during the voice auction or it may have sold for twenty-five dollars in the art show’s silent auction—I don’t remember. My goal was to have the highest profile sales of my artwork at as many conventions in as many cities as I could, with the hope that by the next year, folks would know me and my artwork a bit. I sold sixty-four pieces of art at conventions all over the country that year and my income was pitiful, but by the next year, my artwork was commanding higher prices and people were talking about my work.

Artwork: “Adolescent Spacecraft” copyright © 1985 Alan M. Clark

—Alan M. Clark
Eugene, Oregon

Alan M. Clark’s Advice for Aspiring Illustrators, Part 2

If there is a company you want to work for, try to make an appointment with the art director (in some cases this will be an editor or even the publisher) and go see that person so they can look you in the eye and see that you are the sort of person who can get the job done. Make sure before going to all this trouble that you are the sort of person who can get the job done.

If you can’t go see an art director or their submission policies don’t allow it, send samples, either digital files via email or hard copy—read their submission guidelines to find out what they allow or communicate with the art director and ask. For magazines, guidelines are usually in the first few pages. For books, you can find guidelines in books like The Artist’s Market and The Literary Market Place or on the publisher’s website.

If you get in to see an art director, don’t run your mouth. Be patient. Let the artwork speak for you. Make sure your artwork can speak for you.

And that reminds me—there are other things that speak volumes about us, like the way we act, the way we look, and conduct business. Be dependable, punctual, responsible. Always meet deadlines or at the very least let your client know when you might be a little late. Don’t take work you can’t get done by the deadline. Try to take all work that comes your way—you might never see any again. Take a chance on trying things you never thought you’d do—it’s just a job and you’ll survive it—and you might find your way into something new and different for which your personality and skills are perfectly suited. (This takes a non-begrudging, generous mind set. Those who enjoy feeling sorry for themselves need not apply.)

I was one with a heaping helping of self-pity, a slob, a drunk, a procrastinator, but fear of working in a convenience market or, say, the men’s department at J. C. Penney or on an assembly line somewhere forced me to change and helped me to get organized.

The image with this post is one I created for the first portfolio I showed to art directors in New York in 1985. Fantastic Planet Books picked it up this year for the cover of One and Wonder, edited by Piers Anthony.

Artwork: “A View of Enverlez” copyright © 1984 Alan M. Clark

—Alan M. Clark
Eugene, Oregon

Alan M. Clark’s Advice for Aspiring Illustrators, Part 1

This is the first of a series of articles I’ll offer on Bizarro Central on advice for finding illustration work. The advice I’ll offer is largely based on advice given to me that worked. I’m not an authority. I am talking about my experience. Everyone’s experience is going to be different. I’ve been a freelance illustrator for almost thirty years now. These articles will include the sort of advice I’d give myself if I had a time machine and could go back and talk to the Alan Clark who was just starting out thirty years ago. Since then the landscape of the illustration field has changed a lot, but I will talk a bit about what I believe still works.

My education is in fine art, so to learn about the illustration business, I went to science fiction, fantasy, and horror conventions and spoke to the professional illustrators who were guests of the conventions. Illustrators are generally very generous with information about the business. I learned how to prepare a portfolio, who to try to see and how to approach them. I learned of work that was being assigned and how artists were chosen for the assignments. I learned about the difficulties of getting work without having had work—artists are notoriously flaky so art directors have all been bitten more than twice. I learned how to be the sort of artist an art director might take a chance on. I learned how illustrators made sure art directors and editor knew about them, their availability and dependability, and how to maintain a presence to avoid being forgotten. These days an art director might be a publisher, editor or even the author of a book.

There’s a lot of good advice out there for building a portfolio. But here I’ll give somewhat unusual but valuable advice given to me about preparing a portfolio:

1) Don’t include samples of anything that you won’t want to be hired regularly to do.
2) Six to ten examples of your art should do the trick. This few signals confidence in your ability to get your skills across to someone. Make sure the pieces you choose do this.
3) Make sure that the work chosen suits the format of the work you’re going after, that it’s tailored to the market you are showing the work to. If you are wanting book cover work, produce samples that look like book covers, ones that are the right shape and have a low contrast area where text might be placed. Don’t put text on the images. The low contrast area should not be one of no interest, but instead an area where text would look comfortable and where whatever was underneath the text would not look awkward.
4) If you produce work that is generic in nature, it might be purchase by an art directorto be used on something for which it is appropriate. For instance, in science fiction novels that include space ships, the ships are often not describe vividly, so a painting with a space ship in it would make a good cover. A novel with Vampires in it could use a generic vampire image. A fantasy with a dragon could use a dragon image and so on. Don’t put lots of extra subject matter in these pieces or they will begin to tell stories that might argue with the novel for which they might be purchased. Although these pieces are generic, they should be produced with distinctive style, strong compositions and incredible color. With tear sheets from these sales, a portfolio looks like it belongs to an artist an art director trusted with an assignment, getting you past the problem of not being able to get work unless you’ve had work. Art directors seeing the work in the portfolio do not know that the work wasn’t done on assignment. This is how I got in the door.

The image with this post is my first paperback book cover, a generic space ship piece bought from my portfolio by Tor Books for Le. E. Modesitt’s The Silent Warrior. I had been working full time in illustration for three years when the book came out, but had had little success in getting work with any consistency until after this. I got the advice for doing generic covers from David Hartwell.

Artwork: “Trilobite Returns to Helvoran” copyright © 1986 Alan M. Clark

—Alan M. Clark
Eugene, Oregon

Dilation Exercise 79

In an effort to promote my new novel, A PARLIAMENT OF CROWS, released by Lazy Fascist Press, I created the Dilation Exercise below to expand the story beyond the end of the novel. This week’s exercise works with last week’s. The novel is inspired by the three infamous Wardlaw sisters.

Need a further explanation? Go to Imagination Workout—The Dilation Exercises.

By the time Vertiline had given up the search for Mary, Carolee had taken a terrible toll on the innocent, and by all signs, her deadly activity stretched far into the future.

Weary and reconciled to her existence ending in shame and failure, Vertiline tried to lie down and be still, but the wind gave her feathers life, picked her and sent her flying onward, ever doomed to witness the murderous career she had helped to shape.

—Alan M. Clark
Eugene, Oregon

If you like Alan M. Clark’s artwork, please try his writing in both short fiction and novels.

Artwork: “Portents” copyright © 2008 Alan M. Clark. Cover art for Portents edited by Al Sarrantonio, published by Flying Fox Publishers.

Captions are original to this post and have nothing to do with the literary project with which the artwork first appeared.

Dilation Exercise 78

In an effort to promote my new novel, A PARLIAMENT OF CROWS, released by Lazy Fascist Press, I created the Dilation Exercise below to expand the story beyond the end of the novel. The novel is inspired by the three infamous Wardlaw sisters.

Need a further explanation? Go to Imagination Workout—The Dilation Exercises.

When Vertiline found herself in the cemetery, she realized she was dead.

If Mary had also become a crow after death, and Vertiline could find her, she had an idea for how they might end their sister, Carolee’s, reign of terror.

—Alan M. Clark
Eugene, Oregon

If you like Alan M. Clark’s artwork, please try his writing in both short fiction and novels.

Artwork: “A familiar Crow” copyright © 2008 Alan M. Clark. Cover art for VINTAGE SOULS by David Niall Wilson, published by Five Star.

Captions are original to this post and have nothing to do with the literary project with which the artwork first appeared.

Weekly Weird Art: Xue Wang

By Sam Reeve

Chinese-born artist Xue Wang started out by earning a BA and MA in fashion before transitioning to painting. Her work, featuring doll-like figures, may at first appear to be cute, but is often twisted and unsettling.

Xue’s latest solo show, titled Time Off For Good Behavior, kicks off today at the Copro Gallery in Santa Monica, California.

You can find out more about Xue and her work by visiting her website.

Fowl Play xue wang Some Like It Hot - xue wang I PUT A SPELL ON YOU xue wang Abettor xue wang xue wang - nurses

Weekly Weird Art: Scott Hove

By Sam Reeve

This is the first Weekly Weird Art post of 2013, and today’s artist is most definitely in my top ten of favourite artists of all time. I am more in love with Scott Hove’s work than I know how to express. His vicious-looking cakes are a visual treat like none other.

Scott creates both sculptures and huge Cakeland installations. He also paints and does murals, though I’m a much bigger fan of the Cakeland stuff. Check out his work below, or visit his website here.

Gateau Self


Cakeland Black Cherry

Cakeland doll jaws

Cakeland maraschinoismurder1

chocolate beast

scott hove ant cake

scott hove chandelier

scott hove shoe cake

scott hove sticky trap

scott hove tiger lily

installation cake vault

installation cakeland

scott hove painting i-AnimaSola

scott hove painting juggernaut

scott hove painting mural

Day 22: Emilio Subira

By Sam Reeve

“Your disease is my art”

Emilio Subira

emilio subira2

emilio subira


emilio subira3

emilio subira4

sweet decay

emilio subira..kjlkj

it's all about time


penis eyes

emilio subiralkjfljksd



Dilation Exercise 77

In an effort to promote my new novel, A PARLIAMENT OF CROWS, released by Lazy Fascist Press, I created the Dilation Exercise below using an excerpt from the novel. The novel is inspired by the three infamous Wardlaw sisters. This Dilation Exercise breaks my rule of only two lines of caption.

Need a further explanation? Go to Imagination Workout—The Dilation Exercises.

“Detective Robert Walker testified that burnt fragments of the bones of a human infant were found in the furnace of the tenement where you and your family lived in Brooklyn. Do you know anything about the tiny bones, Miss Mortlow?”

Although she had her suspicions about Orphia’s role, and that of her sister, Carolee, in the disappearance of the infant, thankfully Vertiline didn’t know the truth. “No,” she said. She clenched her jaw, glanced at the jury, and was disturbed that she couldn’t read their expressions.

—Alan M. Clark
Eugene, Oregon

If you like Alan M. Clark’s artwork, please try his writing in both short fiction and novels.

Artwork: “In the Furnace” copyright © 2012 Alan M. Clark.

Dilation Exercise 76

Below you’ll find Alan M. Clark’s weekly Dilation Exercise. Please look at the picture, read the caption, above and below the image, and allow your imagination to go to work on it. If the artwork inspires an idea, please use the comment feature to tell us something about it. Need a further explanation? Go to Imagination Workout—The Dilation Exercises.

Alister married his dead half-sister, and their first night together was some weird kind of hell.

Despite her claim that they helped her to sleep, he thought her collection of stuffed animals was the most unusual he had ever seen.

—Alan M. Clark
Eugene, Oregon

If you like Alan M. Clark’s artwork, please try his writing in both short fiction and novels.

Artwork: “The Mind Wanders” copyright © 1992 Alan M. Clark. Inspired by the painting, Gary A. Braunbeck wrote the story, “The Sisterhood of Plain-Faced Women.” The artwork first appeared as cover art for Gary A. Baunbeck’s collection,Things Left Behind, published by Cemetery Dance Publications, which included the story. The image appeared as an interior illustration along with the story in the anthology, IMAGINATION FULLY DILATED, VOLUME II, edited by Elizabeth Engstrom, published by IFD Publishing. The image also appears as an interior (appears in black & white) in SIREN PROMISED by Jeremy Robert Johnson and Alan M. Clark, published by Swallowdown Press.

Captions are original to this post and have nothing to do with the literary project with which the artwork first appeared.

Dilation Exercise 75

In an effort to promote my new novel, A PARLIAMENT OF CROWS, released by Lazy Fascist Press, I created the Dilation Exercise below using an excerpt from the story. The novel is inspired by the three infamous Wardlaw sisters.

As the flames raced down his body, engulfing him entirely, Carolee got behind him with the damp mop and used the implement to shove him out of the carriage house.

Reeling and screaming, he ran out onto the campus lawn, fell to the ground, and died in a gurgling, writhing, blackening heap.

—Alan M. Clark
Eugene, Oregon

If you like Alan M. Clark’s artwork, please try his writing in both short fiction and novels.

Artwork: “Ash of a Boy (revised and colorized)” copyright © 2006 Alan M. Clark. In it’s original monochrome form, this image was the cover art for Dark Discoveries Magazine – Issue #10 and appeared in the interior of the magazine as an illustration to the short story,”Scare Tactics,” by Eric Witchey.

Captions are original to this post and have nothing to do with the literary project with which the artwork first appeared.


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