Carl Crawford, of the Tampa Bay Rays, World Series runners-up, was the last of a number of baseball players I painted for the 2008 MLB Masterpieces baseball card series for The Upper Deck Company.
I had posted an earlier illustration of Jim Thome, where I document my challenge of dealing with out-of-focus crowds. At this point in the series, I felt like I had hit my stride, and figured out the formula for such crowds. In this particular image, I cooled the crowd back with blues and violets to allow the warmth of the foreground to further pop forward.
This was a terrific assignment in which to participate. The original 8" x 10" paintings are sold to collectors, and reproduced for the baseball cards on a high-quality, linen-style card stock. I recently received the cards, and was very impressed with how they turned out. If you are an illustration enthusiast, and a baseball fan, you should do yourself a favor and check them out -- not just because I participated in the project, but because they are really cool collectible art pieces.
The excellent communication throughout the assignment was a measure to its success, in my eyes.
I am often contacted by students and beginning illustrators, seeking advice for starting their careers on the right path. Building strong communication skills is one such way.
When evaluating my working relationships, communication is at the very top of my criteria. How much value does an illustrator place in communication? How much value does an art director place in communication? Communication makes the world go around, and it certainly drives our profession. An assignment can be made or broken by the level of communication displayed on both sides.
As an illustrator, one of the most valuable commodities you can possess is the power of timely and thoughtful communication. In an era of email and non-personal contact, it can be endlessly frustrating for an art director to contact an artist. Making yourself available and going the extra mile to make it easy for an art director to contact you, is a first impression that will pay dividends on your reputation and separate your services from other equally talented artists.
My policy is to respond to all emails, if only to acknowledge their receipt. I feel it bridges the lines of communication, facilitates a smooth workflow, and is just a matter of professional courtesy. All positive and considerate actions will spill over to the quality of the resulting art, I believe.
Transparent and conscientious communication builds trust. Trust is the cornerstone of a creative professional's reputation. As illustrators, we have nothing if not our reputations, right?
As evidenced in the United States' recent presidential campaign, communication is a vitally powerful tool, and always reflects beyond the speaker or author. I absolutely believe this can be said for everyone who considers themself a professional -- political, creative, or otherwise. In my opinion, an aspiring creative professional will be miles ahead, in both fostering their own career, and in bolstering the reputation of their peers (and their industry), by choosing to do everything within his or her power to make conscientious communication not just an unending priority, but one of their most stellar attributes.