Friday, June 28, 2019

Indie art "in the wild" -- Lili Chin licensed art

Had to kill 20 minutes between errands, so I walked over to a local "Home Goods" store. Browsing there, I spotted licensed art by the amazing Lili Chin. Check out these cozy blankets — each with a nice big branded label giving her credit. Lili’s Doggie Drawings brand continues to grow.

So much of indie art life today is about branding... educating fans... and fighting unauthorized commercial use by others of artist-owned Intellectual Property (IP).

Lili has successfully fought back from art theft cases large and small. Several of these battles have been discussed here on the blog.

She also posts free, educational info graphics on artists rights
and on pet behavior issues.

 I especially love her "Hello Offleash Dogs" booklet about space etiquette.

Artists rights...and animal behavior education.. are subjects Lili Chin is passionate and knowledgeable about. Her info graphics are made in consultation with experts in these fields.

Best of all.. Lili continues to thrive, create.. and license her art for legit use by suppliers.

It's always exciting to see indie art "in the wild" ... especially when you know it's licensed by the artist to that vendor.

Artists deserve credit and compensation. Buy direct from artists to purchase with confidence. Be wary of anonymous content sites like Tee Spring, and other third party sellers that sell on big platforms (Amazon etc). These sites are notorious for stealing art to make merch -- robbing customers and creators. If an artist has a legit site on Red Bubble, Etsy etc., you should find a link from their own website or social media center.

Lili's website has lots of cool merch you can buy direct from her:

Thursday, June 20, 2019

"Into the Spider-Verse" artists discuss vital role of books and research in interview on Bancroft Bros podcast

Stuart Ng Books is a long time sponsor of the Bancroft Bros podcast. Tom and Tony Bancroft are former Disney pros who have had long careers in art and animation. Each episode of their lively podcast is brimming with tips on making it in animation. Scan the episode summaries to see interviews with leading artists. Check out the "Hash it Out" segments to hear the Bros. share opinions on current topics and art-life advice.

In this June 14, 2019 episode, Tony talks with two creative forces behind the recent smash success "Spiderman: Into the Spider-Verse." The interview with Shiyoon Kim and Jihyun Park takes you behind the scenes into this fresh and exciting film. Plus, Tony gets these artists talking about what they are working on now and what inspires them in their art.

The most important point they repeat several times throughout the interview is the value of research. Not just knowing the current tends. You need to dig deep into the past. Learning how previous masters worked -- and who influenced the icons of illustration and animation -- are the best places to get inspired today.

At 12 mins into this episode you can learn about an abandoned Disney project based on the work of Ronald Searle. Even better, you can learn how a version of the look conceived for the Searle-inspired film was used in the end credits of a recent Disney hit.

At 49 mins into the episode Tony, Shiyoon and Jihyun discuss their love for the Famous Artists School art instruction courses. These correspondence school courses, published in the 1940s and 50s, are now vital reference material highly prized by leading artists today. Listen to learn how Stuart Ng Books is connected to this discussion... and best of all.. learn about the even rarer Famous Artist Advanced Courses. Plus there is a nice shout out to the SNB store, and all the fantastic Japanese food in Torrance. (Torrance is the home to national headquarters for Honda, and was the national HQ for Toyota as well for many years... which helped launch a thriving community of Japanese and Asian shops, restaurants and cultural events in and around Torrance)

You can find more info on the Famous Artists Advanced Courses at this link from the Stuart Ng Books website. On the website link you will be able to hold your cursor over the image of this title page pictured below to enlarge it for better viewing:

The SNB website also lists several individual titles of the Famous Artists School Advanced courses.

Here's a link for the June 14th Bancroft Bros podcast episode
and a description from the Bancroft Bros podcast website

Animation Podcast #123 – Designing Spiderman: Into the Spider-verse with Shiyoon Kim and Jihyun Park

In this episode, Tony goes it alone while in Italy for ETNA Comic Con with special guests Shiyoon Kim and Jihyun Park. This man and wife team literally helped design Sony’s Spiderman: Into the Spider-verse. Shiyoon as the lead character designer and Jihyun as storyboard artist. Besides Spidey action, hear how young love budded in college, how Shiyoon proposed and how they had a baby while Spider working! This is like an Anime romance! Bam, Bap, Pow! Let’s listen now!

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Day 1 of 7 Days of Books I Loved -- Go Dog Go

Day 1

I was challenged on social media to spend 7 days posting covers of books that I loved. It was such a pleasure looking back on the authors and artists who made me love reading. Writing 7 posts about the books quickly expanded into multiple examples and categories. I've expanded the posts for the blog. All 7 are here individually. There is also a compilation post with all 7 days text and photos in a single link. Enjoy!

One of the first books I remember reading and re-reading and still going back to long after I'd moved past this reading level. I enjoyed the humor and the illustrations so much. And of course, all the dogs.

Day 2 of 7 Days of Books I Loved -- Lassie and Her Day in the Sun

Day 2
Little Golden Book

Day 2 of books I loved. I was obsessed with this book (and yes, these are pics of my childhood copy). Re-reading it now, I realize it's an appreciation of all the "silent labor" that many people do -- caregivers, single parents, folks who are juggling chronic conditions. During the story Lassie rescues so many kids and animals. It might not be visible to those who drive by, but Lassie handles a lot in her day

Day 3 of 7 Days of Books I Loved -- Black Beauty

Day 3
Complete and Unabridged
Day 3 of books I loved. Anna Sewell only wrote one book in her lifetime, but it's the classic "Black Beauty." My childhood copy is the unabridged edition and includes the War Horse and Barn Fire chapters often omitted for kids adaptations. I was lucky to have already taken riding lessons by the time I read Black Beauty. Sewell's understanding of horses, and how much education she weaves into her tale of hardship, kindness, compassion and the bittersweet ending of being back home but missing absent friends makes this book a masterpiece. I've included books from my library related to bios on Anna Sewell and on horses in kids lit.

Endpaper illustration.

The Barn Fire chapter Illustration..

The War Horse chapter. Long before the War Horse book that became the Spielberg film. I could never see the film... even with my 2 fav brit actors in it!!! .. because reading this chapter from Black Beauty was enough War Horse experience for my lifetime.

Books about Anna Sewell... author of "Black Beauty"

Book collector magazine.
 Article inside discusses many beloved Children's books that feature horses.

Below are photos from "The Annotated Black Beauty" referenced above:
 This book is a detailed education in Victorian era horsemanship.

For a more kid-friendly annotated edition, I highly recommend this Dorling Kindersley version:

Day 4 of 7 Days of Books I Loved -- Adaptations

Day 4

Day 4 of books I loved. Adaptations. These 2 books introduced me to the idea that books were adapted for young readers, and if I liked the story, I could look for the unabridged edition in the main section of the library. These books also made me realize books were written by real people, who had lives I could learn more about. 

Albert Payson Terhune (1972-1942) was a journalist, novelist, and prolific magazine short story writer. He probably never imagined his story about his collie chum "Lad" would secure them both fame and fandom for over 100 years. Even today, "Lad" fans visit the grounds of Terhune's pastoral home "Sunnybank" -- it's now a 9 acre public park on the shores of Pompton Lake in New Jersey. Readers can see the graves there of many of Terhune's canine companions. "Lad" also introduced me to the idea that there were dog shows. All of my collies, even the rescue ones, were exhibited at shows, matches, obedience trials, and public education events, sharing the beauty and character of the breed Terhune loved.

Previous post with more info on these books, 
 also this post with more on Terhune, illustrators who contributed to his books, and Sunnybank today, with photos of the park, local library, and Terhune collection at the historical society museum:

In 1997, Scholastic released adapted chapters from Lad:A Dog as individual books in its "Hello Reader" series. These were suggested for "level 4" readers in grades 2 and 3. The text was by Margo Lundell with illustrations by Don Bolognese. 

I purchased all four when they were new releases. (Lad to the Rescue- January 1997;  Best Dog in the Word - April 1997; Lad is Lost - October 1997; The Bad Puppy- February 1998). To the best of my knowledge, these were only published as paperbacks with just these four titles issued in the series.
Each book had the same back cover:
And this page at the end that revealed there was a real Lad and Sunnybank.
Walter Farley (1915-1989) was only 18 years old when he wrote the book that would launch his career: "The Black Stallion." He followed it with a long series of sequels. The 1979 film adaptation of "The Black Stallion" features a 20 minute island sequence.. just a boy and a horse with minimal dialogue.. that is epic visual storytelling (not to mention the rousing film score).

Previous post here on the blog about "The Black Stallion" has more about the film, and info on the real-life Arabian stallion who played the title role
Walter Farley bio from his official website (run by his son Tim)

Day 5 of 7 Days of Books I Loved -- Scholastic Books

Day 5

Day 5 of books I loved. Scholastic Book Flyers and Fairs. What a thrilling day it was in grade school when the teacher handed out the flyers and we could see all the wonderful possibilities. My recollection is that I could only pick a few titles -- perhaps my adult life is a reaction formation to my more limited access to books I could keep as a kid. Anyway, it's obvious I still have lots of my childhood library, so it's not like I was deprived  I just loved seeing all the books in the flyer.. and in later years at the school book fair. Photos here are titles I fondly remember from that era.

This "Arrow Book Club" flyer photo is one I found online that most resembles the Scholastic Flyers I recall.

The format is similar to the Scholastic Book Club flyers I remember... and the titles here are of the right era.
Some Scholastic favorites --
"How to Care for Your Monster" written and illustrated by Norman Birdwell
Boy did I love this book!!! I only realized recently it's by the same author-illustrator of the "Clifford the Big Red Dog" series.
"Champ - Gallant Collie" by Patricia Lauber. Illustrations by Leonard Shortall
If you're a collie fan and aren't familiar with this title, you're in for a treat. It's a terrific adventure story for young readers with a good lesson about building character and self-reliance. I gave this book it's own "Closer Look" post on the blog. The Closer Look includes several of interior illustrations, as well as a synopsis, and some biographical info on the author and artist. Here's the link:
"A Pony for the Winter" by Helen Kay. Illustrations by Ingrid Fetz.
One of the first stories I recall reading about a proactive young heroine who works hard to get what she's dreaming about. So many of the books those days were about boys and animals. 
"Midnight - Champion Bucking Horse" written and illustrated by Sam Savitt.
Sam Savitt (1917 - 2000) was a renowned equestrian artist and prolific author-illustrator, especially of books for young people. This was one of many of his books I adored. His children run his website:
"Follow My Leader" by James B. Garfield
Perhaps the first story I read about a service animal and that special bond. Also traumatized a generation of young readers with its lesson about the dangers of playing with fireworks.
"Afraid to Ride" written and illustrated by C. W. Anderson
C.W. Anderson was another famed equestrian artist who also produced many books for young readers. His "Billy and Blaze" series was also a favorite of mine. There's a photo of Anderson and more about him in this post on the blog
"Clifford the Big Red Dog" a series of early readers written and illustrated by Norman Birdwell.
Who wouldn't want to read about a playful giant puppy pal owned by a young GIRL.

"The Story of Helen Keller" by Lorena Hickok
One of the few biographies about accomplished women that were available to young readers at this time. I loved this story as much for the inspiring tale of teacher Annie Sullivan as the transformation of Helen.
"Little House on the Prairie" series of books by Laura Ingalls Wilder
The charming illustrations of Garth Williams only enhanced the fairy tale feeling of this series of books. I read and loved all of them. Re-reading them as an adult, and seeing the sacrifices and folly of the parents from that perspective, is an interesting experience. Wilder's daughter Rose became a journalist, and some credit her with the success of her mother's books.

Day 6 of 7 Days of Books I Loved -- Marguerite, Madeleine and Marie

Day 6
Day 6 of books I loved. Marguerite. Madeline. Marie. These three women shaped the future of my life from early encounters with books in my beloved grade school and local library. Starting with "Misty of Chincoteague," the horse stories of Marguerite Henry marked my transition from chapter books to hardcover novels. Granted, the appealing illustrations by Wesley Dennis added lots of visual interest to Henry's wonderful writing. 

I read all the "Misty" stories. They were part of the group of books based on real-life people and places that made me want to learn more. I have many books about the real-life Misty, and the ponies of Assateague Island, in my library.
Below is a wonderful book about Misty.
This website for the Misty of Chincoteague Foundation has oodles of info on Misty, Marguerite and illustrator Wesley Dennis:

The first real novel I remember reading is the classic "A Wrinkle in Time" by Madeleine L'Engele. 
I was intimidated by this book. It felt very grown-up, both in the lack of illustrations and heft of a book with smaller font on the pages. Not to mention the adventurous (for me) subject matter: a young girl on a sci-fi rescue mission. I felt like I was reading a classic book that had been read and loved by generations. Imagine my surprise years later when I learned it was first published only a few years before I read it.

This book has lingered with me, and I'm not alone. I attended a lecture by screenwriter Linda Wolverton years ago. She talked about the impact this book had on her --- and her experience of meeting the author and trying to adapt this challenging, very internal-narrative story. I never got to meet L'Engle but, thanks to Stuart, I do have a signed copy of her definitive work.. here are 3 pictures of it:
 The endpapers of this edition have a handy family tree of the L'Engele characters.
 L'Engle often used this inscription for signed books.

My first encounter with Madame Marie Curie must have come when I was venturing outside the kids section in my local main library, searching for unabridged editions of books I loved. At some point, I saw the striking cover of "Madame Curie" -- the consummate biography of this epic pioneer scientist. (I highly recommend this book. It's written with great beauty and sensitivity by her accomplished daughter Eve.) 
As a young reader, I felt it was a big book beyond me at that point. Still, something about it told me we'd meet again. It wasn't until my 40s that I finally read the book. It started me on a quest to learn more about the Curies and that amazing era of science.

Eve Curie was the Renaissance woman of the Curie family. She was a diplomat, adventurer, classical musician, model, and accomplished author. Her prose in this book is stunning -- and since she spoke fluent English I attribute it to her and not the translation. She lived to see her parents re-interred in the Pantheon. 

This is a portrait of Eve Curie by Philippe Pottier, circa 1937
 Eve Curie on the cover of Time, Feb 1940
 Eve the author and diplomat, 1960s
 Baby Eve in her mother Marie's lap, with her sister Irene.
Eve passed away in 2007 at the age of 102! Her will left money to the Musee Curie, which helped this gem of Paris undergo a much deserved, respectful renovation in the past few years. The rooms of the museum include Marie Curie's last office and adjacent laboratory. The grounds have a garden she enjoyed and was famously photographed enjoying a view of from the steps outside her lab. In an instagram-ready moment, a reproduction of this famous black and white photograph is placed where it was taken, ready for visitors to share with a selfie. There are a number of modern touches to this very accessible, family friendly institution. Still, it retains its aura of scholarly purpose and love of discovery that the Curie family personified. (photo below from the Musee Curie Facebook page)
Visit the Musee Curie online via their website:

Here are two of my blog posts that document my visits to this extraordinary museum .