' Losing Fight' from 'Ender's Game' by Robert SimonsWhether you’re into concept art, illustration, character design, comics or storyboards, I’m constantly pushing you to create personal projects and pursue amazing collaborations.


The success of concept artist Robert Simons is why.

Previously, on the ArtCast, I interviewed the director and composer of Project Arbiter – an indie sci-fi short film with a big-budget look.

Robert Simons’ concept work on Project Arbiter demonstrated a surprising level of maturity (He was only 19 years old at the time).  Unsuprisingly, his career now includes concept work on huge films like Ender’s Game and The Amazing Spider-man 2.

In this interview, we hear how Robert’s career evolved, his attitude toward criticism, obsession and creating art with meaning.

…and in the Q&A segment, my good friend Matt Kohr joins me to respond to a listener question about whether you need to move to the west coast of the United States in order to become a concept artist…

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Detail from Mallory Carlson's "Medusa"

Detail from Mallory Carlson’s “Medusa”

Here’s an inspiring collection of stand-out work from some of my stellar Painting Drama students…

For the uninitiated, ‘Painting Drama’ (PD1) is my super-intense, real-time course on composition and finding your own visual voice.

The third generation of PD1 began this past Spring. The amount of talent and charisma in this group is unreal.

Today, I’d like to introduce you to eleven of them.

These assignments were completed about a month ago. Each artist contributed a few thoughts on their process and/ or a testimonial about the course. There are also some links you can use to connect with each of them online.

This post is overflowing with beautiful, imaginative art.

*We will begin accepting auditions for the fourth generation of ‘Painting Drama’ in the Spring of 2015.

*This post contains some very mild nudity.

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I wrote a 6-page spread for the October issue of ImagineFX Magazine featuring 15 tips to save your animation career before it starts.

A Few Of The Topics I Covered:

  • Adapting to different styles.
  • Showcase your strengths/ Hide your weaknesses.
  • Patience.
  • Laziness.
  • Building trust.
  • “Tradigital” Techniques.
  • Negotiating a fair rate.

The new issue (#113) also features articles by wunderkind Mingjue Helen Chen and Sorcerer Supreme Nathan Fowkes. It hits shelves in the UK today and will arrive stateside about three weeks from now.

…or you can just download the awesome iPad/ iPhone version right now.

The ImagineFX team was overwhelmingly generous with the amount of space they devoted to showcasing my artwork.

You’ll find a few new paintings (including full-page reproduction of the Octopus Artist pictured above and my newest Tin Man), a few sketches, a “tradigital” process drawing and a color-corrected re-print of my original Animal Farm painting (it was super-dark when it appeared in the mag last year).

The amazing Cory Loftis was also kind enough to let me feature one of his illustrations to make a point about versatility.

This is my third collaboration with the wonderful folks at ImagineFX.

Click here to see a hi-res version of my Octopus Artist.

UPDATE 08/15: Two of my Painting Drama students – Olga Drebas and Katrina Lin – are also featured in the FXPosé section of the new ImagineFX!

Congrats, ladies! You’re amazing!!!

…and a single tear rolls down my cheek.



For many visual storytellers, technology means “equality.”

Equal tools, equal teams, equal attention.

…a creative meritocracy where the Internet decides to reward only the best and most beloved work.

Of course, the mythical future I’m describing isn’t significantly different from our present reality.

Ideas like Webcomics, PodcastsPatreon and Spotify have been erected from the rubble of the traditional publishing and music industries. Mobile and indie games erupted into the mainstream, claiming a huge share of the existing market and expanding it even further.

Movies are different. Not safe, but different.

Independent film and mainstream movies have co-existed since the early twentieth century.

Mainstream movies thrived because the Indies never really got in their way.

Most independent filmmakers embrace limitations and leave the spectacle to the studios.

Today, mainstream movies survive on spectacle. …almost exclusively. They are being destabilized by a global competition for attention, not by independent film.


In this interview, Director Michael Chance and Composer Ryan Leach take us behind the scenes of Project Arbiter, an indie sci-fi short film with a big-budget look.

What will happen when technology offers Hollywood spectacle to aspiring independent filmmakers everywhere?

‘Project Arbiter’ is proof that we’ll all find out very soon…

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Interview With Sarah Marino: Visual Development Artist For Nickelodeon & Reel FX (Part 2) :: ArtCast #77

In part one of this interview, Sarah Marino told the story of the struggle to find her calling as a professional artist and how she got her first animation job – not in the art department – but as a production assistant. In this episode Sarah talks about her success in both animation and kidlit, her new gig as a background painter and VisDev […]

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Interview With Sarah Marino: Visual Development Artist For Nickelodeon & Reel FX (Part 1) :: ArtCast #76

Two years ago, my friend and Oatley Academy colleague Sarah Marino appeared on what is, to date, the most frequently downloaded episode of The ArtCast: The Rising Stars Of Animation. Like every other guest on that show, Sarah has, as I predicted, gone on to great success. After wrapping as a visual development artist on The Book Of […]

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The Freedom Of Limitations

Here’s a new portrait study in a digital “scribble” technique with which I’ve been experimenting. Click here to see a high resolution version. I used a very limited number of values. …and if my Photoshop Brush Settings had been any simpler, I could have done it in Mario Paint. (100% Opacity. 100% Flow. No feathering. No […]

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Artists: Today Is The Deadline To Speak Out For Internet Equality

A few weeks ago I did my best to explain a complicated (but pressing) issue known as “Net Neutrality.” Basically, it’s a real-life version of Who Framed Roger Rabbit and it could negatively affect artists and audiences worldwide. Today, the FCC (the folks who decide whether to give independent creators equal treatment online) is closing itself off to public comment […]

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Interview With Pascal Campion (Part 2) :: ArtCast #75

“I can’t take ten steps without seeing something I want to paint or draw…” – Pascal Campion In part one of this interview, we learned about Pascal Campion’s early career and his development into a uniquely versatile professional artist. In this episode, Pascal manages to communicate to us how his creative mind actually works – which […]

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Interview With Pascal Campion (Part 1) :: ArtCast #74

What does a successful artist look like? Many of us define success by the size of our fan bases, the popularity of our best clients and the amount of money in our bank accounts. But very few of us would agree that these are the most valuable aspects of life as a professional artist. Nothing […]

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21 Butt-Kicking Questions To Help You Stay Focused On Your Creative Dream

My friend Debbie has a big BUT. …and it has become a serious problem. Debbie is a creatively-unfulfilled (and slightly depressed) graphic designer. For years, I’ve challenged her to start searching for a new path to greater creative fulfillment by: Starting a personal project. Launching a creative side business. Developing new, professional relationships via social media. […]

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Why Your Concept Art Portfolio Is Being Ignored (Part 3) :: ArtCast #73

My friend Matt Kohr is a professional concept artist and the creator of the best digital painting tutorial site on the Internet. So it’s safe to say that he appreciates digital tools and flashy Photoshop tricks as much as anyone. But in the following interview, you’ll hear him say this: “I get a lot of […]

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Our Creative Future Is At Risk: What “Net Neutrality” Means For Visual Storytellers

The Internet is the most accessible, affordable and inclusive media distribution platform in history. The freedom and equality it offers for creative people like you and me has inspired big dreams and new hope for our world, our families and for ourselves as creative people. Right now, that freedom and equality is being threatened by Comcast, […]

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Why Freelance Artists Fail :: ArtCast #72

“You need to be in constant communication with the client to the point that they expect… The worst thing is when someone doesn’t update you. It’s absolutely critical that you communicate with your clients.” – Sean Hodge Even the most successful freelance artists will tell you that bad clients and boring gigs are common roadblocks to a fulfilling […]

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“Story Science” With Louie del Carmen & Jim Zub: Live From Emerald City Comic Con

I was honored to support the Emerald City Comic Con this year by hosting a panel with seasoned storytellers Louie del Carmen and Jim Zub. Louie is a legendary storyboard artist with credits on Rise Of The Guardians, The Croods, Kung Fu Panda, Kim Possible and Invader Zim to name a few. Jim Zub is the creator of the Samurai Jack comic and his popular […]

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Troubleshooting Your Freelance Illustration Career :: ArtCast #71

“Art is  a system. I think  as you mature, it’s natural that if you start to pay attention to business, you’ll start to approach that systematically as well.” – Sean Hodge Conducting creative business on the Internet is a relentless test of endurance. The fight for attention in this crowded, noisy market is exhausting and often discouraging. […]

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