Loving Your Rejects and Yourself

Gozer the Gozerian and her two hellhounds with a fuschia crystal pyramid in the background

Sometimes, a piece I do won’t be used by my client.

Rejection can be surprising and downright disappointing. If I recall correctly, the two pieces below were actually declined right around the same time. It was very tempting to wallow and mope and decide there was no point in trying anymore because clearly, no one wanted me in their book ever again. Maybe you’ve felt the same if you got a rejection cluster.

Instead of giving up though, I got back up. I certainly allowed myself some wallowing and moping, sure! …But then I took a deep breath and got back to the business of making the next thing I was passionate about.

Here’s the story of how that went.

First off, I decided that I was genuinely proud of my work even if it did not work for my client’s needs. After all, I had been proud of it right up until the moment it was rejected! The work didn’t change, so why should my perception of it change based solely on that?

Secondly, I realized that throwing a cloak of secrecy around my rejections would just make me think that I genuinely had something to be ashamed of. But rejection and plans changing are an intrinsic part of life. It’s not healthy to hide such a common experience, or fear it as the worst thing that could ever happen to you.

With that in mind, I will now show off my frickin’ AWESOME artbook reject. BEHOLD.

Gozer the Gozerian and her two hellhounds with a fuschia crystal pyramid in the background

This lovely lady didn’t make it into Printed in Blood‘s Ghostbusters Art Book. Which has great stuff in it, by the way, so go check it out if you’re into Ghostbusters:

Amazon page for the Ghostbusters artbook by printed in blood

I think it’s pretty important to acknowledge that 1) I really dig the work I did and 2) they made a truly fabulous artbook without me.

It wouldn’t be healthy to start doubting the work I had believed in so firmly before my rejection, OR to falsely pretend that the artbook in question is “bad” because I am not in it. Both my art and this artbook CAN be good at the same time. There’s plenty of room for both of us.

When you realize that your work isn’t automatically bad because it was rejected, you can more clearly think about why it may have been rejected. This is especially helpful for your next efforts, since the rejection might offer important insights about what your client is looking for, or new things you can explore as an artist if something didn’t work this time around.

In this specific case, Printed in Blood was working with another entity’s intellectual property. The IP holder actually decides what pictures go in the book in those cases. So it was actually Sony that had declined my Ghostbusters piece, just as it was actually 20th Century Studios that decided to accept my Aliens piece. So if one person or committee doesn’t pick you, there’s no reason to despair about your chances with a completely different one.

To illustrate this, I went on to get into either 2 or 3 artbooks AFTER this rejection (I am unsure of the chronology on what hit when).

If it’s something you truly care about and believe in, keep going.

In that same vein, here’s my other recent reject:

A songbird sits in a flaming field with flames reflected in her eyes

This lovely lady (you’ll just have to trust me) was tentatively going to be the cover for Michael Cisco‘s book Ethics, but things didn’t work out. That book’s another good’un, I highly recommend it:

The Amazon page for Ethics by Michael Cisco

Mr. Cisco’s also a hoot to talk to, I had the pleasure of sitting in on a Lovecraft eZine podcast with him a couple years back.

But to continue, the same thing happened with Lovecraft eZine that happened with Printed in Blood. I ended up doing work with them AFTER this rejected cover…and oddly it was much larger project where I (cautiously) think I might have done some of my best work to date. That could never have happened if I had decided to slink off into the darkness after one single cover design didn’t pan out.

Of course there are cases where a client or publisher actually isn’t a good fit for you. I definitely don’t recommend slaving away just to feel like you have finally been “accepted” by a client or are finally “good enough” for them. Frankly, if you need someone else to make you feel like you are good enough, then it’s time to take a step back and work on that feeling before you do anything else.

You should always be your biggest fan and you should always be the critic you strive to satisfy.

But if you genuinely like the client and believe in their work, that’s a different matter. That’s how I feel about both Printed in Blood and Lovecraft eZine, so when they have a new project that I’m excited about, I go for it just like I always did.

And in the meantime, I continue to be proud of my work and show it off whether it was useful to someone else at the time or not. Creating truly is an audacious act, and sometimes no one will be around to encourage you to keep it up. If you don’t have faith in yourself, you can lose momentum pretty easily.

I hope that after reading this you can all be overconfident jerks like me. Or at least, that you don’t let rejection ruin your love for your own work or your ability to see the beauty in the work of others (even if it doesn’t involve you this time). There’s a big beautiful world out there with so many chances for us to try new things.

So why should we let rejection slow us down? It’s not that deep.

 

 

 

More Internals for Pelgrane Press

A vampire skeleton wight guards his treasure with a sword on his knees.

These were actually completed back in November of 2018, shortly after I finally got permission to post my first couple of rounds of work for Pelgrane Press. I always have trouble keeping track of when publications come out and I can’t post the art until they do, so I frequently end up updating actual professional illustrations waaaaaay after I make them!

C’est la vie. I think these are awesome monsters though. I wouldn’t want to face down any of these fiends!!

A vampire skeleton wight guards his treasure with a sword on his knees. A terrible gargoyle has claimed a human arm A sigbin triumphantly clutches a human heart

And here were the initial drawings I submitted, I actually like them just as much.

Some Recent Work for Printed in Blood Artbooks

A detail of the red death himself, after Bernie Wrightsons style

Here’s the newest one, an AWESOME tribute to Bernie Wrightson! I’ve dug him ever since my friend Carl, guitarist and comic art lover and maker extraordinaire, introduced me to him. So of course I had to submit something to the book. I made it, too!

Can’t go whole hog since it’s not printed up yet, but here’s a detail, the placeholder book cover, and the background of the piece.

Before that, I got this beauty into the Aliens artbook.

the queen alien hiding within the intricate and repellant repeating pattern of solider alien drones

And here’s some progress shots of that. The repeating pattern was a BEAST I can tell you.

Here are some shots of the actual book, which as you may imagine is incredible looking.

Lastly (or rather, first among this group chronologically) is Kaylee from Firefly! YAY!

Kaylee from Firefly looks out of a Serenity shaped hole formed by the colorful paper parasols she so loves

And shots of THAT book.

I have no idea what is next on Printed in Blood‘s list, but I’m sure it’ll be rad as hell.

Two Book Covers with Female Protagonists

A strong female space marine rallies her troops during a bloody firefight on a distant planet their spaceship crashed in the background

First in chronological order was this cover for Battle Cry by Eric Glocker! It’s an exciting read and you can find it here.

A strong female space marine rallies her troops during a bloody firefight on a distant planet their spaceship crashed in the background

Secondly, at the beginning of 2022 I also did the first edition of what would later go on to become The Girl Who Dreams in Green by Adrienne Mayse.

A teenage girl uncertainly approaches a burning forest led on by a fox and a singed bluebird

She describes her gentle and thought provoking book better than I ever could, so I’ll give her the floor:

The full front and back cover for the first edition of Blue Feathers Bright Flames by Adrienne Mayse before it became The Girl Who Dreams in Green

Working on both was a real pleasure and both taught me a lot. Adrienne especially got me interested in different methods of making book covers, something I plan to experiment with in the future.

The Goddess of Closed Eyes

This was the creepy phrase that a friend’s child recently uttered at the snack table (or something like that). My buddy forthwith wanted to see what a “Goddess of Closed Eyes” would look like. So, I did my best to oblige. I took a somewhat dull horror magazine illustration I had done years previously and did my best to make it a psychedelic riot of eyes fit for a goddess! Hopefully I did my friends proud. Publishing on Christmas because…this is a Christmas present of course! Can’t you tell by how festive and merry it is?

 

Selling out…FOR FUN?! as a digital artist

bruh what r you doin or how I learned to start selling out and BRUH

In the past, I have bared my withered, jaded artistic soul to you all on the subjects of Popularity, Ambition, Commission Work, Spec Work, and Screw Ups. Today, I am going to tackle SELLING OUT. From a PRO SELLOUT STANDPOINT NO LESS! So strap in, sharpen your pitchforks, light those torches …or just scroll to the end for a wealth of tips on how to sell out efficiently so you don’t have to do all the tedious research I did.

Selling Out: An Overview

So first off, what do I mean by “selling out?” For my purposes, I’m not talking about making money from your own art, unless you’re literally making art you hate for money. Actually, I’m talking about completely phoning it in and using all of your painstakingly acquired design skills to quickly make stock art and fonts into designs you can sell. I am talking about the laziest, most money-grubbing (legal!!!!) use of your artist skills imaginable. 

WARNING: I’m going to talk about sellout art and sellout artists a LOT until you get over any kneejerk reactions you might have to that phrase. Because I might be a little sick of artists just …never being expected to make any money from their hard-won art and design skills, or only being allowed to make money in a certain way that is sufficiently prestigious or noble.

Generally, when artists decide to “sell out,” it’s a financial decision. Their pleasure from personal expression isn’t enough to offset their monetary needs, so they gloomily resort to selling out in order to survive. I don’t think selling out is automatically a BAD thing, as you might have guessed, but I’m not interested in doing it for survival. I’m interested in doing it for FUN. Continue reading

Juvenilia

I’m sure it’s hard to believe, but even I was a kid once. A very creepy and morbid one, as you may have guessed. And being the very obsessive and painstaking person I am (in some regards), I have preserved almost every scrap of art I have ever made in my entire life. This website in itself can serve as somewhat of a window into my journey as an artist, since I have been updating it since 2010. But even before that, I was making art. And since most of that childhood art is now irreparably damaged, I have been photographing and backing up every single lick of it before burning it in a series of bonfires with my best friends.

Here are a few of the pieces I have documented (there are hundreds, if not thousands, in total). Hover over each image to see the story behind it, or click for a bigger view with the description.

The Colour Out of Space revamp

Recently for the 2021 Arts Council of Southwestern Indiana Spooky Art Show, I redid a piece I have been meaning to revisit for a really long time: The Colour Out of Space.

Here’s the new piece I did in 2021:

And here is the first time I attempted to draw the story, back in 2012. At that time, I did a “down the well” view instead of the squirming mass of colors beneath, before all Hell broke loose and the alien evil emerged.

I took more of a “vexel” approach with the 2012 one, although I wanted to use strange colors and inorganic shapes in the new one too. Overall, when I went back to look at my old work, I enjoyed seeing the differences between the two approaches! I definitely think I’ve branched out more in the years since 2012.

Which style do you prefer?

 

 

 

What the Hell Are You All Doing: Or, How I Learned to Stop Fearing Twitter and Love the Bomb

a metallic purple space worm erupting from a surreal ruby red sandy landscape kind of dune ish but not scifi

So, it’s 2021. The world is in flames. Millions are dead. What are we all up to?

I’ll go first. I’m working on a book cover for a cool novel.

The novel, called Blue Feathers, Bright Flames, is one of three projects I’m really excited about at the moment. The second is illustrations for my own book, and the third is a bunch of leggings ideas I want to make for Whimsies Leggings. So that will all be a lot of fun, I expect. Truthfully though, I’m even more excited about watching my children flop around, so that’s what I’m doing most of the time. But this is an art blog so

I’ve also adjusted my expectations…a LOT.

A rainbow with the words no one cares above it
A lot-A lot.

For one, my novel needs a lot more work! It’s been stuck in Development Hell since April 2020, as the pandemic wreaked havoc on different plans I had for it involving collaborators. That has all had to be scrapped. No one is coming. But, I’m ready. Let’s do this, Me.

I’ve also recently realized that clients change over time just like I do. This was the year that I learned that a client who has needed my help in the past won’t necessarily need it going forward. I had to grieve for an old business relationship or two, but ultimately it just meant I had more time to help other people.

And I finally figured out how to do social media.

Continue reading

AMBITION: 25 YEARS OF BEING THAT GUY

As a part-time freelance artist, I’ve raised money for day trips and dates, medical help for family members and friends, art supplies, booth rentals, and presents. I even managed to raise some money for charity. I’ve had a pretty good run! I’ve been able to do many things I could not have otherwise done.

It is with these things in mind that I will now proceed to destroy my artistic reputation forever.

Lol destroy your what?

I’ve been a jerk more times than I can count, although I will attempt to count them for this article. But one common thread has united virtually all of my artistic knavery.

I speak of AMBITION.

Almost every (art related) act I’m ashamed of stemmed from my artistic ambitions. It’s not pretty! But if you’ve seen my gallery, you already know that “pretty” is not the goal here, so let’s get started.

Continue reading

Inexpensive Tarot Art Commissions in time for Christmas!

A piece of original art of the tarot card The Moon depicting a woman's face floating over spider lilies in a line heavy style with neon colors
I’d like to help a friend with some medical bills and I feel like tarot card art might be a nice Christmas gift for someone out there. If you’d like one, they’re $10 in the style you see below. Your art file will NOT be watermarked but I will happily share a small watermarked version online with your links in the description.
https://paypal.me/sandpaperdaisyEmail reference pics to: sandpaperdaisy@gmail.com

A piece of original art of the tarot card The Moon depicting a woman's face floating over spider lilies in a line heavy style with neon colors

The word is Zain: Arthur Machen’s The Terror

A many armed angel of death descends from the moon in a cloud of scarlet moths.

I stayed up entirely too late last night making this. The funny thing was, I didn’t plan to make it beforehand at all. Not even earlier that day.

…I just up and made it. (While watching Pink Floyd’s The Wall.)

But, I think I can point to the reason I felt so compelled to create this piece in particular. I had an incredibly stressful weekend, coupled with an ever-sharpening sense of my own mortality. Locally, covid-19 cases and deaths continue to break daily and monthly records and yesterday was no exception. People got sick yesterday, plans were cancelled…and then I surprised myself by making a painting based upon Arthur Machen’s story of a deadly force of nature killing a family isolated in their house.

Continue reading

Are You Ready to Build a Fanbase? Yeah, Me Too.

A terrified girl sprawled on the snow looking up at a menacing shadow covering her.

Let me start out by saying WE ARE IN AN EXPERIMENT TOGETHER.

I’m a prolific and modestly successful obscure artist. At the time of this writing, 251 people have a passing awareness of me on Twitter, 252 on Facebook, and 5 on Patreon. I think most of them overlap, so let’s call that 252 fans total. Weed out the bots and people who have abandoned the platforms and let’s call it 200.

I have been active as an artist online since 1995. This should tell you that I am not an authority on building a fanbase. You’re not here to listen to my expert advice, you’re here to observe me succeed or fail, and try some of the same things if you’re interested.

What could go wrong?

Ready to start experimenting? Let’s go!

Continue reading

All June Sales Will Be Donated to BlackLivesMatter

A black hole surrounded by flaming petals against a space backdrop. Detail of the digital painting SUNflower by Heather Landry

Hey guys! I’ll be donating any art revenue I make in June to help out with #BlackLivesMatter. I’ll be making my decision(s) closer to when I have a more sizable donation pool, but I welcome any input on good organizations to throw money at!

Currently, I’ve gathered money from my patreon, society6 and a recent freelance job, and I’ll also be donating the sales of these two pieces at the Arts Council of Southwestern Indiana‘s upcoming Unsheltered show (assuming they make it in).

And if I make any other print on demand sales, any of you guys email me for a print, or I do any more freelance work in the month of June, that money will be donated as well. I may or may not do commissions to reward people for making donations of their own, but that’s more “iffy” since I’ve been having some humorously strong headaches recently.

Either way, feel free to drop any links of deserving organizations in the comments below! And I hope you all have a very safe month of June, filled with love and unity.

Plague Doctors and Other Strangers

An excerpt from the comic The Ocean by Heather Landry, a comic about the black plague of 1348, depicting a plague doctor and the imploring necrotic hand of a plague victim.

The medieval plague doctor, with his waxed robes and beaked mask, has always been an important part of my internal horror landscape. So much so that when our own real-life pandemic hit, a plague doctor sticker giveaway was the first thing I thought of in order to try to cheer a few people (and myself) up in the early weeks of the tragedy. I’m happy to report that it did just that! I sent out lots of letters and everyone who requested them was delighted to get a little “extra” with their stickers: a little sketch of a plague doctor (often with a big heart on his robe or doing something silly like pushing a shopping cart) telling them to “Stay Safe!”

Now that the giveaway is over, I thought it might be nice to commemorate the event with some more glimpses of plague doctor madness. Continue reading

The Cradle of the Worm novel free beta release on HorrorFam

A towering giant consisting of a man and woman fused back to back like the original conception of Ha-Adam, humankind. Set against a glowing forest hanging inverted from an enormous swollen moon. An illustration for the cover of The Cradle of the Worm, a fantasy horror novel by the artist of the piece, Heather Landry

This past Monday I finally finished my first horror fantasy novel, The Cradle of the Worm, and released the beta version on HorrorFam.com on their Freebies page.

The entire text of the novel, as well as the first audio chapter, are all available there. My friends and I will continue to release free audio chapters of the text on podbean and youtube. Here are some scenes from the novel if you’d like a quick glimpse of what you’ll be getting. Continue reading