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Creation and Collaboration

As an artist, when you start using the internet for self promotion you hope to have emails start rolling in for new work. I can tell you that for me, this has been true. Since starting this very blog, updating my personal portfolio web page, utilizing Twitter, and starting my store, I have started receiving emails from interested parties looking for some kind of artwork in my style.

I can also tell you that some of these emails have been pretty interesting. Some are big deals or have the potential to turn into big deals, others just seem to fizzle out or never happen, and some turn out to be pretty cool collaborations.

So, here is what I have learned. Big deals seem to take forever to enter the final stages of implementation. It’s like waiting till Christmas morning to open your presents. You’re just so excited, morning cannot come soon enough. But, when dealing with big clients it takes time for all the stars to align. For the emails that are inquiries about projects that end up fizzling out, you learn to spot these from the get go after going through the motions with a few. Trust me. The collaboration emails can turn out to be beneficial to both parties involved and give you the chance to see your art used in new and interesting ways. Collaboration is what this particular post is about.

A year or two ago I participated in the Behance.net group, Minimalz. I don’t believe groups like this still exist after the most recent changes to Behance, but the jest of this particular group was to create re-imagined movie posters in a “minimal” style. Each month a new topic in the form of a celebrity name was sent to the group and we picked a movie from their filmography. I did a few of these and found it to be a great creative outlet. When Jack Nicholson’s name came up my first thought was 1989’s Batman and his depiction of the Joker. I talked about this poster and my process behind it back in April of 2011 on this blog. Feel free to take a look here.

Jump forward to May of 2012. I received one of those collaboration emails from Sam Kurd of B15 SDM Designs that I mentioned earlier. Sam designs arcade style controllers and arcade cabinets that he promotes and sells on his website www.b15sdmdesigns.com. He was looking for permission to use my Batman movie poster design in the building of a custom arcade controller. Like I said earlier, I get some pretty cool emails.

What follows is the process I used to vet the project to make sure it was something I was interested in participating in.

First, Sam won big points for asking for permission. I knew I was dealing with a fellow artist. Second, after looking at his website I was really impressed with his work. I felt pretty good that my design would be used appropriately and Sam was very gracious about asking for my input on how he was going to execute the design on the controller. After a few emails back and forth Sam was able to come up with a graphic that he thought would work on his build. All I really did was provide Sam with my design files and looked over his design concepts to make sure I was comfortable with the design.

Sam's finished arcade controller based on my Joker design.Sam finished up the controller a few weeks ago and currently has it live on his website. He did an amazing job and I really like the details he added to the basic Joker illustration I provided him. In the case of this project, no money was exchanged. I thought that the chance to see my illustration used in the making of an arcade controller was something that would be cool to see. And I was right.

Sam added to my original design to better suit the arcade controller format.A look at the back of the controller with a clear panel to see internal components.Sam added the retro Joker logo to the back of the controller. A great detail.

I feel that I have been pretty lucky to avoid any really negative side effects of using the internet to promote my work. The people I tend hear from always seem to have interesting things going on which can be exciting when they want to involve you. I would make sure to do a good check of anyone that contacts you on the web to make sure all is on the up and up. Typically, if someone reaches out to you for a legitimate project they will have websites and contact information that match. Rarely do I get any emails out of the blue that I can not track the person down on the web in some way. The bottom line is that YOU have to make things happen, and if you put in the hard work, other people will eventually recognize it. So, go forth and create!

Cheers, Ben.

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