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Entries in batman (8)


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.


Get Excited People, The Dark Knight Rises!

It's going to be a big week for me with the release of The Dark Knight Rises on Friday. While I worry about the potential for over hype given the success of Nolan's last outing with Batman, I am still very hopeful of a great summer theatrical experience with this latest flick.

Other then the Avengers, I thought this summer's movie going experience was a little flat. I do think Wes Anderson's Moonrise Kingdom wins for best small film making a big splash among the typically glossy, studio tent pole movies. Overall, with the mishandling of John Carter and the mess that was Battleship, not much blew me away. I have yet to see Spiderman and while I have heard good things, something about this 4th outing with Marvel's favorite Wall-Crawler just doesn't have me racing to the theaters. 

That leaves Batman as the last hero of the summer. I have been under controlled excitement for a few months now. Even creating my own little homage to the Dark Knight with a retro-inspired movie poster back in February. 

As we approach the offical release date, I have been getting more and more giddy about seeing the film. The marketing has released just enough info to get me intrigued on how Nolan will end it all. Will Batman die? Is Robin showing up? I guess a few more days wait and we will all see.


New Work: The Dark Knight Rises

Despite having a few projects in the works, I managed to get a nice little personal piece knocked out recently. I am a big fan of Batman and especially Christopher Nolan’s take on the character. The end of his run on the character with The Dark Knight Rises is bittersweet in that I can’t wait to see how he concludes the series, but I have a feeling no one could replace him. Just look at Joel Schumacher and those damn Batsuit nipples as proof not everybody gets it.

Nolan managed to add a significant amount of legitimacy to the comic film genre with The Dark Knight in 2008. Hell, the Oscar Academy bumped up the number of accepted Best Pictures to 10 because it didn’t make the cut when they only allowed 5 flicks. Crazy.

While an avid fan of the movie series since Burton (I has 9 when it released and it was one of the 1st films I saw in a theater, so watch it haters), I also read the comic book. Recently, I became very fascinated with the original source material from the 40s and 50s. If you go back and look at the covers from this time period, they are really amazing. The use of such vivid colors and the simplicity of the character designs were really interesting to me. Plus, I contend that the original Batman comic logos are great examples of how to properly do a comic logo. They were bold, had great use of illustration and typography, and easily recognizable. You can find out more about the evolution of the Batman logo on Todd Klein’s blog. It’s a really interesting read.

A look at the early evolution of the Batman Comic logo

I spent a lot of time on www.coverbrowser.com looking at all the different covers over the years and this sparked an idea. Kind of a “What If” moment for those comic book fans out there who remember Marvel’s What If series from the late 90s where major storylines were re-imagined with different outcomes. In this case I thought “What If” Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises was a storyline from the 50s. So I went about recreating a cover of just such an issue as a kind of movie poster for the new film.

The original Batman Comic covers were wonderful in their simplicity and colorfulness

I needed to figure out exactly what elements were necessary to make the cover look authentic for that time period. I studied nearly every Batman cover on coverbrowser.com to find all the common graphic elements. I knew I would need to recreate the DC logo from that era as well as the Comics Code Authority stamp of approval. Each cover also had a featured box, which highlighted the issues main storyline. I decided to use this as a way to reveal the movie title.

My take on the DC Comics logo from the 50s and the famous Comics Code Authority stamp

Colors were also a major consideration. I looked at the different color combos that appeared on many of the covers and found that depending on the issues main background color the Batman logo colors complemented them in a way that would make the logo pop. My research into the covers inspired the illustration style of Batman and the main villain Bane. An interesting little tidbit of information is that Batman and Robin often found themselves shrunk by the villain. If you look through all the covers from the 40s and 50s a common visual element would be that the caped crusader and boy wonder would find their nemesis towering over them with a dramatic fear inducing phrase. Shrink rays must have been in abundance. Hence the inspiration for my cover’s final composition.

The final piece

To keep up the authentic look I added a little bit of texturing to give it a weathered feel as well as some halftones to mimic the printing resolution of the time. All in all, a nice sidetrack project to keep the creativity flowing. I actually liked creating the “old school” Batman illustrations so much that I am developing it into a style that I would like to use in future fan art.

A look at the retro Batman character that I am working on

So tune in – same Bat-time, same Bat-channel!