Monday, April 30, 2012

Little Raindrop: The First Two Chapters in #BookDummy form!

Text & Ideas © 2012 Richard Halttunen
Art & Characters © 2012 Melanie Linden Chan
All rights reserved.

I've finally put together a book dummy of the first two chapters of Little Raindrop's story!

There is nothing like the feeling of a story becoming a book. You can leaf through its pages, see how the page turns work, and get an overall feel of the story as a whole when it is in a tangible form.

This is easily proven by the reactions I have been getting from friends and customers at work when I plop the book down on the table and say, "Check it out! Tell me what you think!" I've been telling them about the story for ages- about its topic and the story line and the layout, the whole shebang. But until they can hold it in their hands, it's hard for people to understand what it is I've been working on all these months.

And the feedback I'm getting from them has been super positive! Adults, parents, teachers, twenty-somethings, and KIDS... so far everyone has been impressed with the work that Richard, the author, and I have been doing. This is what has been happening:
-I expect some to leaf through it and say, "cool." Instead, they start reading the story right away! (Even when dinner arrives at the table, they push it aside until they're done with the book! This is HOT FRESH Chinese food they are pushing aside, my friends!) 
-Another customer, an old grump of a man who loves to give me a hard time, and who I suspect barely reads the newspaper, read the dummy from front to back (and without his reading glasses). A nod and a big smile, and "where's the rest of it?" 
-An older couple tells me the only problem with the book is "we don't have any little ones to buy it for!" 
-A boy, who turns ten today (HAPPY BIRTHDAY  MISTER!!!) saw the book dummy and said, "This book's gonna be SICK!" Meaning: "When this book is complete and published, I shall enjoy reading it immensely." 
-A fifth grade boy learned something new from the book dummy. (So this book is not just for 3rd graders!) 
-Awesome friends sit in shock, saying that it looks like a REAL book. 
-Awesome customers mistake the dummy for an ACTUAL book.
Not only that, but by giving people a sneak peek at the book, they tell me to make sure I remember to SELL THEM A COPY when it's finished!

*runs in circles*

I really can't wait for tonight's Crit Group meeting with my RISD friends at the Providence Athenaeum! I want to hear what the artists, designers, and writers have to say. The book needs work, and editing, and I know they'll help me find ways to make the book even better!

I just can't wait to share this book with the world! :D

Text & Ideas © 2012 Richard Halttunen
Art & Characters © 2012 Melanie Linden Chan
All rights reserved.
Text & Ideas © 2012 Richard Halttunen
Art & Characters © 2012 Melanie Linden Chan
All rights reserved.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

#NESCBWI12 Poster Contest Winners!

As I mentioned yesterday, the 2012 NESCBWI Annual Conference held a contest to create a poster with the theme of "A Whole New World." Many of my friends participated, and many of them won! Click here to see the guidelines they had to follow.

And the winners are... (I'm still learning who won, so comment below if you know!)

For the Published Category:
1st Place- Russ Cox, winning piece shown here
2nd Place- Hazel Mitchell, winning piece shown here
3rd Place-

For the Unpublished Category:
1st Place- Milanka Reardon, winning piece shown here
2nd Place- Andrew Sabourin, winning piece shown here
3rd Place- Marcela Staudenmaier winning piece shown here

People's Choice Category:
1st Place:
2nd Place:
3rd Place:

Other entries illustrated by my RISD friends:
Kristina Hickman
Cindy Cornwall

Congratulations to all of you!!!

Monday, April 23, 2012

It's Monday already?!?!

Well! This week went by FAST!

I don't have anything super awesome to share with you, however, I did finish sketching out the first two chapters of Little Raindrop's book yesterday. And now I can finally turn those sketches into a nice, clean book dummy which I will be using to get some feedback from Mr. H's third grade group of professionals, and our RISD Illustrator Crit Group!

This is an important step, because I will learn what needs to be changed, and if the layout is working, and the overall book design is going where it should. If it is, I can continue on working the way I have been. But if I end up with a list of things that need work, then I will double back and re-work it a bit before moving on with the rest of the book.

Also, this past weekend, I missed out on the NESCBWI conference in MA. I missed the workshops, the fun, and I missed seeing so many friends win awards! I'm so proud of them! Missing it all bummed me out more than I expected it would. But I chose to spend more time on the book instead, and it feels good knowing that I truly did meet some sort of a landmark in my own way. (I just know better for next time not to consider skipping a conference!)

So, no art today! I've got to get rolling on that dummy!
Have a great week!
p.s. As soon as everyone posts their winning pieces I'll re-post them here! :D Aww, forget it, I'm making a new post for this!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Other Ways I Spend My Time: Star Harvest Fairy #Tattoo!

Miss me already?

Well I was able to hunt down a photo of the very first tattoo I've ever designed, from waaaaaay back in 2002! I was twenty! It's scary how fast time flies. :(

Here is the drawing...

And this is what it looks like now!

We haven't yet found photos from when the tattoo was brand-spankin-new, (and that was before every cell phone had a camera) but if it ever turns up I'll be sure to post it here! And now I think of it, I forgot to ask who inked it! So I'll be posting that information too.

One thing I DID learn, however, is that she still loves her tattoo! After all these years... isn't that awesome? :)

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Other Ways I Spend My Time: Sparrow #Tattoo!

Hi Again!

I figured since I'm going to be posting tattoos, I might as well show you this one from 2009! My cousin's girlfriend has it on her front hip!

I am missing my final drawing, but you can easily see what it was supposed to look like based on the photos.

The original sketchy idea.

Better looking...

Brand spanking new!

The teal looks so neat when it's fresh like this. :)

What it looks like three years later!
This tattoo was inked by Bret A. Lohnes, of Captain Bret's Tattoo Parlor in Newport!

This was my second tattoo design, and I am working on hunting down the first! :)

Other Ways I Spend My Time: Comedy Tragedy #Tattoo!

Hi There!

So last week I was finally able to finish illustrating a tattoo design for a friend. I've designed two so far in my little lifetime, which I'll share with you once I have pretty photos of the final pieces. Tattoos are great little projects because you revise them a million times until they are just right, and then when you see all the progress you've made from point A to point B, it's truly amazing! AND, the best part, is your art ends up as a permanent piece of work on a body! How cool is that?!?

The tattoo requested needed the following items/themes: comedy tragedy masks, yin and yang, music notes, hidden initials, sparkles and "swirlies" and colors that matched an already existing tattoo.

My earliest sketches were just warm ups to get a feel for the project. Generally, my warm up sketches are quite lame. I'm seriously considering not even posting them, however, there needs to be a beginning somewhere, so here it is... *cringe*

The best part about that page was by the time it started to get full, I had gotten a spark of true inspiration, and it led me to this:

I shared it with my friend who made some suggestions, and also sent me photos of her preexisting tattoo...

original tat
brightened for color reference

And then I drew and painted a final piece, scanned it and colored it digitally for the tattoo artist's reference, and I have everything ready for her to pick up!

hand painted

digitally colored

I can't wait to share the final product with you! :D

Monday, April 9, 2012

Don't You Think We Can Do Better? #WeCanDoBetter #IPromise2DoBetter

Hi Again!

My weeks tend to have themes lately, as I'm sure you may have noticed. In between working on Little Raindrop, I don't have much time to do other art. So I have to come up with something interesting on my blog or it will go stagnant and dusty. This week's theme seemed to just scream at me. It was at my workplace. In the news. On my favorite tv show. It was on Facebook, and in Blogs and on Twitter. It was everywhere that people are.

People are just plain MEAN.

And it's not like this is news to me. It's just increasingly worse every day and it drives me mad. You know what I'm talking about. You've seen it too. Parents abusing their kids. People shooting each other. People lashing out at one another on social media. Bullying in politics. Bullying in schools. Howard playing humiliating tricks on Sheldon. All for what? Because we're selfish. Because we're afraid someone will learn about our true selves, or get the best of us. Because we're not being honest human beings.

We have all participated in it. We are all guilty of varying degrees of it. But it makes me wonder, if people are even trying to be better? For the love of all that is good, why can't we practice putting aside our egos and just love one another for once?

Truly it is okay to disagree with one another on any given topic. But when did name-calling or put-downs become an okay thing to do? Just because on social media, you are behind a screen and no one can see your face or hear your voice, it doesn't mean that your words and your ranting don't hurt. That they don't make another person flare up with heat, whether it be shame, or anger, or fear. It doesn't mean it can't ruin their day, or their week... or their life.

When you physically hurt another living thing, don't you realize what you are taking away from them? You are stealing their security, their peace of mind, their self-pride and faith in themselves. You are creating a monster that will lash out at others, and cause a chain reaction that reaches across the entire planet. And this planet is starting to feel even smaller as the human race increases in size.

And on the flip side: CHILL OUT. Seriously, people, try not to take things so seriously! So you sat in chocolate and it's all over your butt... LAUGH, it's funny! If someone tells you that you have a big head, then OWN that big head! One of my uncles has an unusually large skull and we marvel at it every time. And guess what? It makes us all smile and laugh together! Or, you've made a mistake and someone points it out. Say, "whoops! Sorry!" and move on! Don't be mad that someone caught your bluff. Your kid just punched that other kid? The other kid might have been asking for it, might have even deserved it, but you know what? Violence is wrong and all parties should be punished. Your kid isn't innocent. Kids need to be taught to stop violence when it gets to them.

We're all so different and yet so much the same. My husband's skin is the color of a Ball Park hot dog, and I'm so white I'm practically see through. He can't live without rice, and I can't live without breakfast cereal. He was born in Hong Kong, and I was born here in RI, not twenty minutes from where we work. We constantly make fun of each other, and we have fun with it! Because we love our differences. We embrace each other's faults and we work together as a team. I know for a fact that my husband's socks will always lie in a pile two feet from the hamper. For as long as we both shall live, I can count on that. And it irritates the heck out of me. But if those socks aren't there... well, it means neither is he. And that's not something I can live with.

Now, I'll be the first to admit I'm not perfect. I often try to be, and that could be my Achilles heel.  I too, am guilty of being mean. I'm selfish, and also ignorant enough at times to say or do things that hurt others without even realizing it. And on top of that, I'm clumsy. But I live my life in the most honest way that I can.

So I'm going to start with a clean slate. I'm going to take a vow today. Make myself a promise. And make you a promise, too. Heck, I'll make the whole world a promise. And I'm going to encourage you all to do the same. Put it on your blog, Twitter, Facebook, wherever you can spread the word. Share my post or create your own, or find a more well-written one on the topic. Use these hashtags for good measure:  #WeCanDoBetter #IPromise2DoBetter

I promise to do better.

I promise to try harder, to be kinder, to be more understanding. I promise to turn the other cheek, to Do No Harm, that I'm aware of. I want future generations to live in a better world. Change begins with ME.

There are some movements starting out there, and it gives me hope:
"Bully" - the movie about bullying in schools.
#WeCanDoBetter - the Twitter hashtag that has been used to create awareness of child abuse, but is also commonly used for other things.
"Do No Harm" - a site I recently found and I like it :)
And if you know of more, let me know so I can post them!

I hope you'll take this candle, and run with it, too. Maybe we can light up with world with a little more love!

Kid Art: My Birthday Cards

Hi There!

I always like to share art made by the little ones in my life. They work so hard on their little creations and they are so PROUD of what they've made. When it comes to that kind of pride in one's own work, we all could learn a lesson from them. Sometimes we forget that, though we are older and are supposed to be professionals, we are still learning every day. And every new piece of work should be held up with pride, because we created it with the newest knowledge that we have of the world. Because we gave it all we've got to make it. And because life is short, and there are enough people putting each other down, and we really shouldn't be the ones doing it to ourselves!

I often I find children's art inspiring, because of their line work, or their color choices, or how they manage to turn a scrappy piece of paper into something beautiful. And it also reminds me of how far I've come in my own life- that I started exactly where they are, and managed to get here, after all these years.

So, Thank You to my nieces, Vanessa and Ashley!

Vanessa wanted the PERFECT flower for my card,
so she painted it three times until she got it just right!

Ashley likes to use a lot of color!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Surprises, and On Turning Thirty

Hello Friends!
Today I am writing from a TOP SECRET location... Actually, I'm on a mini getaway trip with my husband, in New Hampshire!
We came home from work last Saturday night, and after putting together a late dinner, my husband climbs up into the attic and brings down our luggage. "Pack for a few days!" he says to me.
For my thirtieth birthday, my husband, (who is awesome by the way. He does the dishes AND cooks for me.) chose to surprise me by calling us both out of work for the next few days and whisking me off to New Hampshire for some much needed R&R.
Funny how one day you think you're going to be cleaning the house and the next your find yourself getting a massage in a fancy spa!
This milestone birthday celebration happens to parallel with the feelings I have about my life goals, my career, and my art.
When asked as a child what I was going to be when I grew up, and how I was going to do that, I'd answer simply, "I'm going to be a Disney animator and I'm going to RISD!" As I grew up, I had always thought that by 30 I would have had children by now, and even own my dream house. I never thought I'd be here, on my own website, blogging about books and art, and how I'm going about making them myself. This doesn't sound as glamorous as being a Disney animator, but I wouldn't trade what I have right now for the world. And drawing repetitive animation cels doesn't sound as fun as it used to!
Funny how one day you wish you could win the Mega Millions, and the next you remember... you're already a winner.
I might not be where I thought I'd be at this time in my life. And some times I wonder, as we all do, what regrets I'll have later on. But right now, I don't regret any of the choices I've made, because they all make me who I am, and where I am, and gave me the person who is dozing next to me right now.
So I'm going to enjoy the last half hour of being in my twenties watching a silly television show by myself, next to the one I've loved since my teens, and will continue love through my thirties and on...
And three is my favorite number, anyway!

Melanie Linden Chan
Children's Book Illustrator
SCBWI Member