Sep 2011

Maybe an Illustration Portfolio App?

Online portfolios have been the norm for artists and illustrators for years now, replacing the need to schlep the bag of mounted originals or transparencies, or packing and sending, from one potential client to another. Initially these websites were not much more than photos of an artist’s samples posted in an easily accessible format for all to see. A virtual sample bag, accessible to anyone who cared to look. As time went on however, the ante was upped. Showcasing the finished product began to not be enough. Additional information was added to illustrator’s websites. Demonstrations shots of the painting process, insights into technique, case studies showing the entire illustration process from thumbnails to final art, and eventually videos, all were being included and becoming the norm. Years ago much of this information was only available through books, (and later dvd’s), schools, or if you were lucky enough, an apprenticeship with a seasoned pro. Creatives have been providing a treasure trove of information, instruction and insight, available to all, for free.

One photographer however, has begun taking a different approach. Michael Nichols has been shooting nature photographs for years and has many stories to go along with his incredible shots. Like every other photographer, he had an online portfolio to show off his work. After an extensive redesign of his website, which was to include narratives, along with his photography, he had a change of heart. Instead of serving up all the material online for free, he turned 180º. He pared his website, trimming down to a simpler portfolio of photographic work. Then he used the edited material to create an app showcasing not only his photos, but extras, such as the stories behind the pics. So what he had originally intended to be accessible for free, would now require payment. The result? So far it seems to be a huge success. Although I have no idea how many downloads he has to his credit, and therefore no idea of the financial benefit, his app has garnered very high marks on Apple’s App Store with rave reviews.

Could this be the first hint of a new trend in artistic presentations? Or is it a complete one off? Maybe this the future of portfolio style art books, the coffee table portfolio book morphed into the virtual coffee table ebook? It will be very interesting to see how many other creatives try something similar.

You can read more about Michael Nichols story here.

Andrew Loomis Reissues

One of the first art instruction books I remember using was Andrew Loomis’, Figure Drawing For All It’s Worth. My father had a copy on the bookshelf in his studio and I paged through it often. Still do. Even though it was published in 1943, and has been out of print for decades, it is one of the best books on the subject of figure work I have ever found. My copy is literally falling apart from use.

The Loomis approach is more practical than professorial, which I chalk up to the author being a working illustrator rather than a full time art instructor. The drawings in the book are simple, clear and though dated from a fashion standpoint, timeless in content. This is one book that I would consider essential to any illustrator’s library. And I’m certainly not alone. As an out of print title, copies have been selling on the used book market for hundreds of dollars.

The good news is that in May of this year Figure Drawing was once again available new. Titan Publishing has begun to reissue Figure Drawing For All It’s Worth (link to Amazon’s Loomis page). At a price of $26 this is a no brainer purchase for any illustrator or artist who aspires to draw the human form. Even better news is that Titan is continuing to release Loomis titles. In October the book, Drawing the Head and Hands will be available. I’m not lucky enough to own a copy of my own but will be sure to grab one of the reissues as soon as they are on the block.