Tuesday, December 31, 2013

In Which We Look Back and Begin to Look Forward

Happy New Year, friends!
Not my photo, but I think we can agree its a pretty cool one.

I've been wanting to write a Year in Review for a while now, so here it is. 2013 a really great year for me. So much happened, and it set the stage for a lot more to happen in 2014.

This year began with me enjoying the professional attention I garnered from this feature on the well know children's literature blog "7 Impossible Things Before Breakfast." I was contacted by several editors, authors and illustrators of prodigious talent, offering advice, encouragement and help. It was fantastic.

Around the same time, I was commissioned to illustrate a middle grade novel, the first full-length book project I had ever worked on. It was for a small publishing company in Utah. While the project did not end up being very successful, it was a good teaching experience on how to create a lengthy visual narrative on a tight deadline, good practice in character continuity, and a bit of a tough lesson on what sort of contracts to say yes and no to in the future.

Shortly after that, I was asked by an Art Director at EA Games if I would like to work as a concept artist for some in-development Ipad games, alongside my friend and talented cartoonist Zackariah Ausgotharp. I had made the acquaintance of the director the year before, and was overjoyed to be invited onto the project. It was a great gig, and we had a ton of fun.

The end of this last school year marked my departure from Snow College in Ephraim Utah. The school had been very good to me. My professors where great, my peers clever, insightful and supportive, and learning prodigious. I felt ready to set off into the world to make my way as an illustrator.

Before this could occur, however, I was staying at my parents home in central Utah preparing for the weddings of both my older sister and younger sister. I gained two brothers-in-law, and we all somehow made it through all the preparations and events in more or less one piece.

Immediately after these weddings occurred, I accomplished a big dream of mine: moving to New York City. I was so excited to return to the city that I loved so much. I flew in on July 10th, 2013.

I spent the first few months renting out the guest room of my friends and housemates, journalists, writers and lovers of really good food Penn and Brandon, as well as their two cats. I enjoyed being back in the city, attending concerts, spending days at the museums, eating glorious meals and making hosts of new friends. Brandon and Penn treated my to great tours of my new neighborhood in Brooklyn, and I began to settle in nicely

On my flight out to New York, I received an email from Stephen Barbara of Foundry Literary Agency saying that he had been introduced to my work and that he was interested in meeting. A mere two weeks later, I had a great meeting with Stephen that resulted in him becoming my agent! I was so nervous going to that first meeting. I still didn't know certain areas of Manhattan very well at the time, and got pretty lost on the way. I'm afraid I looked a little flustered.

After a while, Brandon, Penn and I moved out of our little place and into a much bigger one, a beautiful brownstone deep in Brooklyn. We were joined by Matt, a Floridian, animation nerd and all around great guy, as well as his nice-though-somewhat-needy dog. Our household now complete, we celebrated by buying lots of books and saying somewhat nasty things to each other during heated games of Munchkin.

All the while, I took a part time job running the cash register at an art store near the Pratt Institute, so that I may support myself while I worked on getting my illustration career going full speed. I met some great folks, earned a fair amount of money, and eventually ended up needing to leave the job (a long story involving holiday madness and some corporate skulduggery).

Meanwhile, I worked on various projects, both personal and ones that my agent brought me. Some are still in progress, and I hope to be able to share them with you all soon. I was able to meet and/or be put in touch with several creative types I have long admired, among them Oliver Jeffers, Sophie Blackall, Peter Brown, Julie Danielson, Susan Rich, Brett Helquist, Betsy Bird, Aaron Becker and quite a few others. I met with representatives from a publishing company or two, and I got some great projects underway.

In this year, I have chased my dreams, finally buckled and signed up for Twitter, made new friends, reconnected with old ones, hosted a kick-butt thanksgiving like a real adult, and only got sick once. It's been a great year.

If you've made it this far in your reading, I congratulate and thank you. Were I able, I would even reward you with cookies (sorry). Thank you to all my friends and family, old and new, who stood by me this year and made it one of my best ones yet. I look forward to the adventures of the new year, big and small, professional and personal. I look forward to spending time with my current friends and to making lots of new ones. I look forward to creating, to telling stories, and to living a grand story of my own.

Happy New Year, friends.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Work, a workshop, and a shop

Happy December, everyone!

It's been some time. Things have been crazy here in Brooklyn for the last few months, but have finally settled for the time being. So, I thought I would take advantage of the calm to update this ole blog.

So, I finally was able to move into the new house! It's a beautiful brownstone here in Brooklyn. I've been in it for something like a month and a half now. What more new is that I finally have a work space set up. Check it out:

I've been chained the this beauty for the past few days working on a project or two of mine (keep an eye out in the future). Good things are happening from a professional standpoint and I hope to have exciting new for you all soon.

Some in-progress work
And speaking of exciting news; remember that shop I promised you I would open way back when? Well, I finally did it, and just in time for the holidays! Its through society6, which has lots of cool stuff on it. Check it out here: http://society6.com/ethanaldridge .

That's all I've got for now. I'm hanging out with my brother here in the city for the next week before flying back to Utah for the holidays. Now that things are a bit more stable, I'm going to put some serious effort into keeping this thing updated.
Stay warm!

Monday, July 22, 2013

The Apartment, The Rain, and The Lone Bellow

So, the adventures in New York City continue.

To start, good news! Remember the lawyer messiness I mentioned in the last post? Done. We have the apartment! So, in the next couple of weeks, we will be moving up to the Bed-Stuy neighborhood. I haven't actually been to the apartment yet, but one of my flat-mates is taking me over there later today. I've seen the photos, however, and I can't tell you how stoked I am. I mean, it's got central air, among other things!

Meanwhile, I've been taking advantage of what seems to be the constant stream of free entertainment around NYC. In particular, I attended a performance at the Celebrate Brooklyn concert series in Prospect Park. The Lone Bellow was playing, and I'm rather fond of their music. I checked the weather forecast earlier that day, and it said rain, but the sky was clear, so I being the fool I am didn't bring my umbrella.

Well, in true New York fashion, while everyone was waiting in line, we got well and truly soaked.

The good news is, the rain let up of most of the concert itself, just sprinkling here and there. For the most part it stayed rain-less.
Myself and a couple of friends, trying mostly in vain to stay dry

 The concert was awesome. If you ever have the chance to see these folks, do so. It was quite an energetic performance.

In other news, I attended the Maurice Sendak exhibit at the Society of Illustrators, which was wonderful, and I'm meeting with a Children's Lit representative this week. Wish me luck!

To wrap up, here is a song of The Lone Bellow's that I'm fond of. Again, this is one of those bands that are better to see live. Until next time.

Monday, July 15, 2013

A Reasonable Excuse

Ok, I know I haven't posted a weekly drawing for quite some time. I'm awful, I know. But I do have a pretty good excuse. Remember when I said I was moving to NYC? Well, that's happened. Due to some nastiness involving lawyers and contracts, however, the place I'm moving to isn't quite available just yet. So, I'm staying in the guest room of some fantastic friends of mine until that clears up. Here's a pic of my current living quarters.

Cool, huh? The book shelf wall was a nice touch, I thought. Unfortunately, it doesn't give me a lot of work space, and much of my art supplies are in boxes back in Utah, waiting to be shipped. All this to say, it may be a little while yet until weekly drawings start showing up again. I know. You're crushed. Hang in there.

Meanwhile, I'll keep updating this thing with bits from my adventures in NYC. Hopefully that will tide you over until things get a bit more stable.

Until next time.

Monday, July 8, 2013

New Piece

Here is a piece that I just completed for a client. What do you think?

Monday, June 24, 2013

Peace Offering (and a rejected cover)

Hey folks,

So, as you may have noticed, there was no weekly drawing last week. My apologies. It's been crazy busy over here. I'm getting ready to move from small town Utah (really, really small town) to the amazing borough of Brooklyn. I am so stoked, but a bit busier than I would like.

So, to make up for the absence of last weeks drawing, I have a peace offering for you all. Coming out on July 6th is the book UP IN THE AIR by Ann Marie Meyers, which I had the pleasure of illustrating. I was originally supposed to do the cover as well, but the Powers That Be wanted a bit more pop in the color than my traditional work style could provide, so they had their colorist take over. You can see the current cover on this. Anyhow, for your viewing pleasure, here if the final incarnation of the rejected cover:

Obviously, this is sans text. For some reason the skin tones are showing up a bit gray with this particular image, but you get the idea. What do you think?

Meanwhile, I'm off to another trip at the zoo! I'll post some of the resulting sketches on my return. Until then!

Monday, June 10, 2013

Weekly Drawing: The Night Circus

This weeks drawing comes from THE NIGHT CIRCUS by Erin Morgenstern. The chapter it comes from is titled "Bedtime Stories."

I love this book. The descriptive visuals, the creativity of environment, the characters. Depicted above is young Bailey Clark, a prominent character in the story. Bailey is a bored farm boy whose life is forever changed by an encounter with a certain red-headed girl who lives within the mysterious Le Cirque des Reves. I really connected with Bailey's character, and I wanted to depict a moment of the story where he is discovering a particularly odd attraction in the circus. If you want to know what is up with all the containers, I suggest you read the book.

Here is Amazon's blurb:
 The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called Le Cirque des RĂªves, and it is only open at night.

But behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway: a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors. Unbeknownst to them both, this is a game in which only one can be left standing. Despite the high stakes, Celia and Marco soon tumble headfirst into love, setting off a domino effect of dangerous consequences, and leaving the lives of everyone, from the performers to the patrons, hanging in the balance.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Weekly Drawing: Danse Macabre

This weeks practice illustration comes from THE GRAVEYARD BOOK by Neil Gaiman, Chapter 5. The book won the Newbery award for Children's Literature. If you haven't read this book, I highly recommend that you do, and soon. It is beautifully written, and a personal favorite of mine. Here is the book description, as listed on Amazon:

It takes a graveyard to raise a child.
Nobody Owens, known as Bod, is a normal boy. He would be completely normal if he didn't live in a graveyard, being raised by ghosts, with a guardian who belongs to neither the world of the living nor the dead. There are adventures in the graveyard for a boy—an ancient Indigo Man, a gateway to the abandoned city of ghouls, the strange and terrible Sleer. But if Bod leaves the graveyard, he will be in danger from the man Jack—who has already killed Bod's family.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

The Redemption of Eustace

The image in this post has some spoilers, just so you know.

So, I recently finished up a piece for a client. He wanted me to illustrate a scene from "The Voyage of the Dawn Treader," in the Chronicles of Narnia series. This is the bit where Eustace, who is turned into a dragon in the book, gets turned back (like I said. Spoilers).

I ended up having such a good time doing an illustration for this book, I've come to a decision. I'm going to start doing an illustration for an already published book once a week. I'm not sure how long I will do this, but I've already made up a good sized list of books I want to do an illustration for. Keep an eye out for the next one.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Migration Day

I thought you all might enjoy another little peek into how I make these pictures. This one is for a brand new illustration of mine titled, much like this post, "Migration Day."

A big part of the inspiration for this came from childhood memories of my super small town in central Utah gathering together at the local park to watch fireworks on the 4th of July. The whole town would turn out and we would just hang out together.

A big part of my work is looking at commonplace things and subverting them in a way, trying to see how they might be different. I like exploring the sense of wonder as a theme. The sort of subject for "Migration Day" seemed suited to this, as everyone has comforting holiday traditions that are not always completely understood.
The original sketch
Once I have an idea in my sketchbook, it can be in there for awhile before it turns in to something. I think this sketch sat in there for something like two years before I did this painting. It sometimes takes a while for an idea to mature (if that doesn't sound like some sort of psychosis). Some ideas can be made to mature faster (especially if there is some sort of deadline attached to it), but this is why I keep a sketchbook. I have hundreds of ideas going at once so that I have a good stock ready when I need stuff for projects.

Once the idea is all grown up and refined a bit, it's time to paint! I started this one by doing a light drawing. From there, I do the ink work. I used sepia ink on this one, as it tends to mesh better when color is added. I wanted this piece to have a lot of detail, so I did a quite of bit of the specifics of the piece in ink.

Next I stretch the paper (The paper is soaked and then taped down. This prevents the paper from buckling when watercolor is applied later) and lay down my first washes of color. This is to get a general idea of what colors go where and to make sure the pallet is unified.
From here, it's sort of hard to give specifics. I just add shadows and highlights to give depth and detail to the piece (I do most highlights by re-wetting the areas of paint I want lighter and then dab it with a paper towel). Like I said, this piece is pretty ink heavy, so I tried to keep the color simple.

And there you have it! Until next time

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Sunday, March 17, 2013

A Story To Tell

So this update on my exhibition with Corey Egbert, "A Story To Tell," is coming super last minute. It's been a busy week. The exhibition will be opening tomorrow in the Annex Gallery, located in the foyer of the Eccles Performing Arts Center in Ephraim, Utah. We are having an opening reception at noon tomorrow. Come on out, we would love to see you. As a teaser, here is the Artist's Statement that will be posted at the entrance to the show:

Stories are a vital part of our culture. They instill within us a sense of wonder and imagination. The best stories are the honest ones, stories in which not everything is neatly explained and tied up with a nice little moral at the end. The best stories mirror life, and life is often mysterious and unexplained. The best stories leave space for the listener (or viewer) to fill in with their own imagination, to engage the story on a more personal level, and to involve themselves in the creation of the tale. As the viewer gives part of themselves to the story, the story becomes part of them.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The Autumn Dragon

I got a bunch of new supplies to begin work on the cover for UP IN THE AIR recently. Sepia ink, which  I've never used before, and a bunch of new paint and paper and whatnot. I always love getting new bottles of ink. Every time I pick one up, I get this little tingle up my spine. It's bottled potential. Also, it's bottled dye and sediment.
 I decided to take the new materials, as well as a new technique or two, for a spin before getting to work on the cover. The first of such experiments is this piece, an unseasonably timed bit of illustration titled "The Autumn Dragon."

I expect I will include this in my upcoming exhibition. I love the way the sepia ink really connects to the color pallet, as opposed to just defining shape. It feels natural. Just for fun, here is the original sketch I did in my notebook when I first had the idea.

It's a tad unusual to have the final look so much like the sketch, the composition felt right.

In other news, I'm still working on getting an online store up and running. A lot of folks have been sending me emails and asking if prints are available. I swear it will be up and running soon. And when it is, my radiant readers, you shall be the first in the know.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Some Catching Up to Do

I apologize for my hermit-like carryings-on here in internetville. In my defense, I have several good reasons for not being sociable, which I shall now share with you, my dear readers.

Firstly! I am proud to announce on here (it's already been announced elsewhere) that I will be illustrating Up in the Air by Ann Marie Meyers. It is a middle grade novel, and one that I have had a lot of fun working on thus far. The book tells the story of Melody, a young girl who's fondest dream comes true, but not without cost. The book is being published by Jolly Fish Press, and is slated to be released in July of this year. You can read more about the book here. Check back for little snippets of the illustrations that I'm working on.

Secondly! I've simultaneously been preparing for a gallery exhibition at Annex Gallery with the extremely talented Corey Egbert. The show is titled "A Story to Tell." The opening reception is scheduled for March 18th. More on that to come as the date draws near.

Thirdly! I've been working recently with doing some prints on fabric. A bunch of artists got together  to swap some printed patches that we all made. We made these patches under the theme of "Unnecessary Accessory." Here's mine;

A Monocled Fox, while cool, is not exactly necessary.
And here is the collection in it's entirety. It includes prints by Adam Larsen, Holly Hooper, Alva Nicol, James Hadley, Nicole Graham, Corey Egbert, Kim Gordon, and David Raleigh.

Lot's of exciting things going on. Now that these various projects have moved past concept phase, and are now blazing full force into final execution awesomeness, I'll be able to put some images up of the projects in progress.

Until later.