Wednesday, January 16, 2019

New Illustration Series: VERNAL (2018-2019)

A new illustration series that I'm particularly proud of, called "Vernal Occiptial".

The intent was to practice my line work while experimenting with some visual juxtaposition. By combining my long-standing habit of drawing skulls and a newfound appreciation for flora and fungi made a spectacular and compelling contrast.

What resulted is dialogue inferring that even in death life is persistent, that we offer longevity after our perceived end. Legacy, mortality, life springing from death. Rebirth, rot, decay, and the reminder that nature is forever around us, feeding into the greater forces that we live in and beside each day.

There is further opportunity for insight in each piece, working on both political, social and emotional capacities. Definitely a new level of work that I'm proud to have broken ground on.

"Vernal Occipital - I"

"Vernal Occipital - II"

"Vernal Occipital - III" 

"Vernal Occipital - IV"

"Vernal Occipital - V" 

Color prints are next on the menu, and these illustrations will be accompanying many more as I barrel towards the release of "From The Well", which will be my first ever Illustrated Art Collection Book.

Stay tuned!

- @bkartmerc

Thursday, December 13, 2018

2018: A Year-End Journal

 Here we are, another year on the ropes, on the cusp of becoming anew. Feels like it was yesterday, for better or worse.

However, this year proved to be an odd step in the Art Mercenary records. A breakdown on the accomplishments, hurtles and follies of the last 12 months:

Shows/Live Events/Projects:

- Art Journal January 2018, 
I kicked off my year with a self-authored artist initiative using an older creative theme. It was fairly well received! Through that month of work I set into motion a series of projects that I got to see come to fruition.

- The Sketchbook Project and Library in Brooklyn, NYC
I spent the earlier part of my year working on my first submission to the Brooklyn-based Sketchbook project. It was a lot of work, and I wound up learning a lot through the process. The show actually took a pretty impressive tour of North America and Canada!  You can see the digital upload of it here:

- May 5th: Free Comic Book Day, Comics-N-More, Easthampton MA 
I completed three comic book covers that showed in my favorite comic shop in The Pioneer Valley. They remain showcased there until purchased, just ask the front desk to see them. One was claimed for purchase, then abandoned.

- May 12th: Watch City, Waltham MA
Watch City was a fun, if not soggy experience this year. Despite the weather TONS of people in the Steampunk community came out, and it was awesome to see so many familiar faces I normally would have seen elsewhere.

- July 7th: Heavy Metal Folk Fest, Wallingford CT 
My first visit to Cherry Street Station was a banger. Got to hang out with more Steam-folk and see some pretty solid acts perform.

- August 18th: TerrifiCon, Uncasville / Mohegan Sun CT
TerrifiCon was a grand time, hanging out with my good friends Alex and Jayare from Opinions May Vary as well as my talented and wonderful friend Kyle from Decimated Designs. Also my lovely Babs from Babs Who Takes Pictures. I got interviewed for Rhode Island Public Access and got to catch up with a bunch of good people.

- August 24th-26th: RPM Fest, Montague MA 
Man. This was just FUN. The wonderful people at RPM Fest had enlisted some design assistance last year which carried over into this year's three day metal festival in Western Mass. It was a lot of fun, and I hope to go back next year.

- December 8th: An Evening of Dark Arts - AS220, Providence RI
Fun show, good folk! It was a nice change of pace heading out to a new space in a city I rarely get to visit. Saw a lot of RPM attendees there as well.

- December 6th - 20th: Easthampton City Arts Small Works Show, Easthampton MA 
One of my favorite art shows of the year. Showcased some recent illustrations and got to see some local folk.

- May 9th 2018 - January 2019: "Discover Steampunk Exhibit" Museum of Idaho
A bunch of my artwork appears in a Steampunk show curated by Bruce Rosenbaum of ModVic and Steampuffin.

Design Projects/Collaborations:  

RPM Fest
I consider myself lucky to have been able to lend my talents and collaborate with the runners of this mighty fine festival. I provided the linework and character design for this year's "logo/mascot" of the Western Mass Metal show to what was easily one of my favorite projects of 2018. Meet "Kick-Ass-Squatch": 

Got to design a new t-shirt for OXEN out of Western Mass. Check them out!

The Aberration / Stay Classy Prints
Collaborated with Travis O'Connell on some merch using some old drawings I had in my archives.

Demented FX / Kirby Productions
Collaborated with Al of Kirby Productions in developing a new shirt design for Holyoke's epic Haunted Attraction!

Commissions: A discussion on the horizon

For the past sixteen years, commissions have been a long-standing institution for me and are a major component to my identity as an "Art Mercenary". They have helped me hone my skills many times over and because of this I will always make them a staple of my services offered.

However,  commissions have begun to take a more hindering toll as I've been recently attempting to expand my personal body of work and grow as an artist.

I took roughly 45-50 Commissions in 2018 alone. I have about a dozen left that still need completing due to various circumstances. I consider myself lucky that the patrons I work with are patient and understanding with these delays as I try my best to deliver the absolute highest quality of work to them.

To me this further cements that I have been putting off some much needed actions regarding my commission taking processes. I will be starting 2019 with a more rigid set of standards regarding commissions that I failed to establish and enforce this past year. I have become cognizant of my need to change and evolve in order to become a better artist and creative, and this is what needs to happen to allow this change to occur.

Expect a much more in-depth post about my commissions process going into 2019 in January.

Looking towards 2019: What to Expect

The future at the moment looks suspiciously bright, and I will be treading carefully into the New Year with baited breath to ensure no immediate disasters lie on the horizon.

That said, I am working on a number of exciting projects that aim to help establish my identity as a creator and storyteller and not just a pencil for hire.

- Art Journal January 2019 
I am bringing the initiative back this year, and will be making my Instagram the place where I tease some of the various projects on the back-burner to gauge public interest. The more popular the projects the more focus I will give them on the production timetable.

- A New Art Book
This was an ambition I wanted to take on in 2018, but got severely sidetracked. Right now I have enough material to produce a brand new art book. Details will arrive in the early months of 2019.

- RPG Campaign Book
I've been quietly developing my first official written project: a campaign book as an accidental follow-up to my 2016 Coloring Book project "Tales of Clockworktropolis". It currently sits at 43k words, complete with regions, map breakdowns and characters abound. It is 5e derivative, and handles steampunk in an RPG setting with a slightly more fantasy-inspired angle.

- BK Merch
I'm on the cusp of developing a few series of stickers, pins and prints that should do me well in the New Year.

- Less shows, more product
I would like to spend more time working than showing next year, but I'm sure I'll find a few live events to showcase my work at.

That's it so far! I cannot thank everyone enough for your support and patronage. I cannot wait to show everyone what I have in mind for the future, and hope everyone will be on board for the ride.

Back to it, and all the thanks I can muster,


Thursday, December 6, 2018

"From the Well" - Inktober remembered and other favorites

So, I've been toying around with a new publication in 2019 called "From the Well" in celebration of me leveling up my illustration game last year. There are some selections from last year's Inktober, but most of the entries are new pieces that are building off of new bodies of work.

Here, check it out:

"Front Cover WIP" 

"Disastronaut - I" 





"Cthulhu 2018" 

"Candy Corn Cretin - 2018"
Look...I really just want to make a mascot for Candy Corn. This is that. 

"Autumnal Lord - 2018" 


"Vernal Occipital" 

Art Journal January Two: Electric Boogaloo

So, I sometimes take a crack at coming up with content for public consumption. An idea I had (or so I thought) was called "Art Journal January". You can read up on the two articles I posted here:

Original Post on December 5th, 2017:

Follow-up Primer on Art Journaling on December 27th, 2017:

This ended up being a super fun project, and it helped me in so many ways in not only cultivating ideas, but also cataloging and planning out my year.

My productivity bolstered, and I found myself with more work to show and more completed pieces to bring to live events.

"Art Journal January Concept Page"

"Art Journal January Concept Page" 

I am planning on doing it again, and this time adding a more product-oriented mindset to it. I will be continuing to catalog and organize my work, but this year will be more focused on setting goals and deadlines and meeting them. This should ideally help in getting more of the work I've been so desperately trying to get done completed and out into the world. 

"Tales of Clockworktropolis" Steampunk Coloring Book (2016-2017)

This was a major project for me that I am very proud of.

I crowdfunded the production and distribution of an exclusive 150 copy run of my own Steampunk Coloring and Concept book. There are currently 8 copies in my possession that remain unsold.

The campaign resulted in the production of over 85 unique pieces of artwork (including promotional materials, backer rewards, etc.). The campaign itself raised nearly twice what I needed, which was then pumped back into the book's rewards.

This project has also served as the launching point for what may become something bigger, which I will elaborate on at a later date.

But for now, take a look at some of my favorite pages from the book:

"Skyport Harbor" 
"Back Alley Rat Finks" 



"Market Lane" 

"Approaching The City" 

"The Traveling Caravan Band" 

"The Historic District" 

"The Lightning Lounge" 

"Prof. Gwendolyn Yonder" 

PUTRI-FICTION Series (2016-Present)

"Putri-Fiction" has been the little pet name for all the "fine art" based work I try to crank out in between my commissions. They are typically lowbrow or suggestivist, whatever words that make the most sense to you, and they tend to be acrylics with mixed media in custom fabricated or found frames.

I average about 3 to half a dozen paintings a year, depending. The vast majority of these works are under 12" x 12", with a frequency of them being between 5"x7" to 8"x10".

Here is a retrospect of some Putri-Fiction entries:

"Godhead" - 2016 - SOLD

"Of Mud and Flame - II" - 2016 - SOLD 

"Autumnal Lord - III" - 2016 - SOLD

"Steamface - III" - 2017 - SOLD

"Cthulhu Wakes" - 2017 - SOLD 

"Demon Fauna - I" - 2017 - FOR SALE

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Illustration series: CRYPTIC (2018)

Contained in this post is a teaser for an ongoing original illustration / print series known currently as "Cryptic"

Inspired by heavy metal music, dungeons and dragons and dark fantasy, Cryptic aims to scratch the itch of drawing skulls and designing armor / weaponry.

"Cryptic - I and Cryptic - II" 

"Cryptic - III and Cryptic - IV" 

"Cryptic - V and Cryptic - VI" 

"Cryptic - VII" 

There are more on the way in 2019, with potentially a new book on the horizon.