Thursday, December 24, 2015

It's About Time For Santa

Many illustrators over the last couple of centuries have created versions of Santa. In the U.S., the jolly old elf would be known as Santa Claus. In England, he would be referred to as Father Christmas, and an illustrator in Germany, would be portraying Saint Nickolas. In any persona, there's a rich tradition of picturing this historical fictional character (don’t tell your kids). Illustrators for decades, indeed centuries past, have described the character with acute visual similarity. And, although a few other illustrators had pictured Santa at the same time, the illustrator Thomas Nast can be credited with establishing the character's archetype. Even Norman Rockwell had referred to Nast's interpretations of the jolly old gentleman with white beard, portly figure, twinkling eyes, and red button nose.

© 2015 Don Arday.
Now as you all know, illustrators work from reference. Even if it's reference we acquire from one and other. But where did the original reference come from. Where did Thomas Nast obtain the reference he used to produce his portrait—one of the earliest of Saint Nick? Perhaps Nast used some reference from an illustration that appeared in Josiah King's The Examination and Tryal of Father Christmas, or the old gentleman, known incognito as Kris Cringle, was obliging enough, and kind enough to grant Mr. Nast a sitting in order for him do produce a portrait for posterity. And it is this portrait that has stood the test of decades, and over a century, to serve as reference for all illustrators who have pictured Santa since. What this all means is that perhaps there was a real Santa who existed, or perhaps he was an imposter. Or, there was a very astute, worldly Santa, who wanted to conceal his identity and masquerade as an imposter. Either way, there are now hundreds of thousands of illustrations depicting Santa with the accuracy that would assist Interpol in apprehending him, should they receive word of an actual Santa sighting.

We illustrators know without a doubt, there is a Santa. For how would an apparition, a phantom, a specter, a spirit, a persona, be able to actually make money appear in our bank accounts for the portraiture work we have produced of him?

Father Christmas as pictured in Josiah King’s
The Examination and Tryal of Father Christmas (1686).

St. Nicholas delivering toys. Illustrator T. C. Boyd (1848).

Saint Nicholas portrait. Illustrator F. O. C. Darley (1862).

Although this illustration of Santa Claus by Thomas Nast
was drawn in 1881, Nast had been publishing illustrations
of Santa as early as1862.

Santa Claus. Notice his elven stature. illustrator Frank A.
Nankivell (1902).

One of Norman Rockwell's earliest depictions of Santa
(1913). Rockwell illustrated Santa many times over his
long career.

Santa becomes a brand. Illustrator Haddon Sundblom (1931).
Sundblom illustrated Santa for Coca-Cola for more than two

               Enjoy the Season!    Best Wishes and Happy Holidays!

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Portfolio Presentation Resources

The number one error that young illustrators and recent graduates make is underestimating the extraordinary power a quality-based, professional portfolio presentation can make in a job or freelance solicitation interview. I have personally witnessed where the failure to invest an additional $100 in a portfolio has resulted in a job offer that was thousands of dollars less than what the work and the artist deserved. For some unknown reason, the importance of a portfolio’s appearance, with reference to its contents, is grossly underestimated.

© 2015 Don Arday.
It may only be human nature, but human nature is unwavering. Value and worth are presented materially, and potential employers view portfolios in relation to potential worth. An applicant must present himself or herself at the same level that an employer views their own business status or higher. Through technology, a new level of appreciation has evolved for high-end print and well-designed custom hard copy presentation pieces that engage a viewer in both a visual and a tactile way. As the saying goes, “first impressions last a lifetime”. Portfolios presentations that appear to be in an economic bracket below that of the potential employers will not be considered seriously, no matter how good the work may be.

The following is a list of resources that cover the three major formats for portfolio presentations; 1) paper portfolios, 2) digital portfolios, and 3) e-portfolios or remotely accessed virtual portfolios.

Paper Portfolios

Custom Portfolios

Klo Portfolios
Klo Portfolios allows illustrators, artists, and designers creative freedom to create a customized portfolio of their work. Custom portfolio books are fabricated, treated, and hand assembled by their craftsmen. Their selection of materials and treatments offer a variety of options that allow their customers to make a unique impression with their portfolio. Each material is locally sourced for sustainability down to the portfolio screw posts and custom bindings, allowing KLO to handpick the finest quality materials for your custom project.

Brewer Cantalmo
Brewer Cantalmo have been manufacturing portfolios for professional artists and illustrators since 1928. With a full line of superb quality products, and unlimited custom manufacturing, Brewer Cantalmo is one of the premier portfolio providers in North America. We are manufacturers selling worldwide directly to the public, There is no minimum quantity required and the typical turnaround time for a custom portfolio is about 2 weeks.

Shrapnel Design
Out of Canada, Shrapnel Design manufactures high quality screw-post portfolios and 3-ring binders. They provide handcraft custom presentation solutions for creative professionals. They offer original combinations of materials and techniques to help artists to display their work in a personalized way.

House of Portfolios
Thomas Lombardo, founded The House of Portfolios over thirty years ago. He began his apprenticeship in Italy and relocated to the USA where in 1990 he single handedly established his own company "The House of Portfolios" in NYC. He is a master craftsman in the top echelon of the custom-made portfolio industry.

Bella Forte
Extremely exclusive and highly crafted, Bridget, the company founder, began her bookbinding career over twenty five years ago in Italy. After studying the arts of bookbinding, papermaking and book restoration abroad, she returned to the US and opened her first bindery in Center City Philadelphia.

Etsy Portfolios
Etsy the web community for artists and craftspeople has numerous listings for custom portfolio cases constructed from a wide variety of materials that range from fabrics, to woods, to metals. And although the producers of these portfolio cases and binders are “home Grown”, there may be the perfect solution for a portfolio just waiting to be purchased and put to use.

Readymade Portfolios

Portfolios and Art Cases
Portfolios and Art Cases has specialized in prefabricated portfolios since 1995. Their inventory comprises an extensive selection of portfolio types for both flat art and rolled at presentation, storage, and transportation. Portfolios can be easily selected and ordered through their website.

Archival Methods
Archival Methods manufactures and offers a wide range of professional presentation portfolios. Customer service and delivery times set Archival Methods apart form their competitors. They offer complete portfolio solutions such as portfolio and board combinations, onxy portfolios, etc. Their service is professional and pricing is extremely competitive.

Light Impressions Direct
Established in 1969, and long having been the first choice for professional photographers and museums, Light Impressions offers the world's largest variety of fine archival storage, display and presentation materials for artwork and documents, negatives, transparencies, CDs, photographs, etc. Light Impressions is considered to have set the standard for readymade archival portfolios in the US.

Pina Zangaro
For the past 24 years Pina Zangaro have been redefining the way the world presents artwork and documents by designing and making innovative, attention-grabbing and functional portfolio books, binders, boxes and related accessories for the presentation and storage of artwork and documents.

Digital Portfolios


Apple/Apple App Store
For Apple hardware devices turn to the Apple Store. The iPad has now become an acceptable portfolio presentation format for certain situations and settings. Its size is just large enough for display. The iPad Mini is also available, but due to it’s smaller size, is inferior to its larger sibling. For apps to support the pad hardware use the Apple App Store. Although not covered here, a future blog will go into detail about specific portfolio apps.

Although the name implies a Mac exclusive inventory, MacMall is a great place to get tablets and products made by other manufacturers including Samsung, Lenovo, Acer, Viewsonic, etc. PCM, formerly PCMall sells tablets manufactured by nine companies including Dell, Toshiba, Asus, Motion Computing, etc. Apps for these tablets use the Android operating system.

Portable Storage

CD’s, flash cards, and jump drives are available from local electronics stores or online from vendors like These devices have the storage capacity to easily accommodate most portfolio presentations. Software to prepare the presentation for remote viewing like PowerPoint and Keynote are available from Microsoft and Apple.

Picture Frames

Best Buy
Digital picture frames offer a lower cost alternative to using a tablet to display a body of work. However, they don’t offer much in the way of versatile functionality. These frames are made by a variety of companies, some which also manufacture tablets like Viewsonic, Sony, HP, etc.


Free/Limited Free Portfolio Sites
There are a number of sites that allow an illustrator to upload a body of work. Some are totally free, while others place a limitation on the number of pieces that can be placed on the site without incurring a fee. Many of the sites provide a number of resources such as categorization, subject search engines, direct contact sales, and order taking mechanisms, etc. Researching, choosing and actually using the right portfolio sites may be a daunting task, but one thing to remember is ”it’s the company you keep” that will reflect back on you and your work. Choose those sites that project a personality you are comfortable with, and are directed to the markets you wish to reach.

Note: The site links below are for portfolio sites that do not require an illustrator to sign up webpage hosting or use unique website building features. Those sites will be featured in a future post.

Logo Portfolio Sites

Paid Portfolio Sites
There are several paid subscription portfolio sites to choose from, and the cost of having a listing on them can vary considerably, anywhere from $300 a year to upwards of $2000 per annum. Of course, the cost relates to the amount of service these sites provide. The main difference between a paid site and a free site is that the paid sites aggressively e-market your work, while the free sites do not. With the cost there are also amenities that may be well worth it. Paid sites can provide very specific individual data and demographics about who has viewed your portfolio and when. And, some paid sites can even provide the company and profile information as to who looked at your work.

Logo Portfolio Site

Website Hosts
Any list of resources in this category will have no end to it as there are new hosting sites literally going live on a daily basis. There are many reasons that go into choosing a specific website host, ease of use, capacity or bandwidth, reliability, pricing structure, accessibility, web identity services, security, etc. Ease of use or flexibility of the website building engines provided by these sites may be the deciding factor. What is more important is to secure the proper domain name, one that will be uniquely explanatory and identifiable, i.e., your own name. A proper domain name will assist potential clients and employers to more easily locate your portfolio on the web.

Note: This is a partial listing. It is meant for the purposes of getting you started. Many of these listings are not specifically designed for illustrators, but are popular hosting sites on the web.

Disclaimer: The list of website links is provided to be a resource for illustrators. It was not intended for the purpose of advertising or endorsing one source over another. Nor is it by any means complete. There are many other excellent sources not mentioned here.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

From the Illustrators Partnership: Google Prevails in Copyright Lawsuit ©

Originally posted Friday, October 16, 2015 by the Illustrators Partnership of America (IPA). The following is courtesy of IPA.

Next Stop: Supreme Court
How will outcome affect artists?


© 2015 Don Arday.
Four years ago the Google Book Search Settlement was thrown out of court on the grounds that neither party to the agreement had legal standing to carve up the exclusive rights of the world's authors. In his ruling, Judge Denny Chin wrote that it was for Congress, not the courts, to decide on the future of copyright law.

Since then, however, the courts have been chipping away at copyright, expanding the scope of what's called "fair use," that is, how much someone can use of your work without your permission. 

Today an appeals court ruled in Google's favor, according to an online article in Fortune.

"It's finally over. An appeals court confirmed that Google's scanning of more than 20 million books counts as fair use.

"It's been ten years since authors first sued Google over the decision to scan millions of books, but now an appeals court appears to have confirmed once and for all the scanning did not violate copyright law."

To be clear, this does NOT directly affect the new orphan works legislation currently being considered by Congress. But it's a safe bet that corporation lobbyists will use it to argue that the decision paves the way for it:

"Friday's appeals court ruling is significant because it clears the legal uncertainty that has been hanging over Google for a decade, and also because it provides more guidance on what qualifies as fair use in a digital age.

"In particular, the court states on several occasions how copyright law represents a balance between authors and the public, and points out how many forms of fair use are partly commercial." [Emphasis added.]

The Authors Guild has announced that it plans to appeal to the Supreme Court: 

"We are disheartened that the court was unable to comprehend the grave impact that this decision, if left standing, could have on copyright incentives and, ultimately, our literary heritage. We trust that the Supreme Court will see fit to correct the Second Circuit's reductive understanding of fair use, and to recognize Google's seizure of property as a serious threat to writers and their livelihoods, one which will affect the depth, resilience and vitality of our intellectual culture."
Thanks to all of you who wrote the Copyright Office this summer, and let's all buckle our seatbelts. We could be in for a bumpy ride.  

Letters submitted by Illustrators Partnership and ASIP can be read on our Orphan Works Blog 

IPA Comment: Copyright Protection for Certain Visual Works
IPA Reply Comment
ASIP Reply Comment 

-- Brad Holland and Cynthia Turner 
    for the Board of the Illustrators Partnership

Please post or forward this artist alert to any interested party. 

Friday, October 9, 2015

150,000 Pageviews And Counting

© 2015 Don Arday.
Recently The Informed Illustrator surpassed 150,000. I hope the information continues to be of benefit to the illustrators and practicing arts communities. Many aspects of illustration have remained constant over the years while others are in flux and constantly changing. As a form of social media this website is an example. The advent of social media has given illustrators unprecedented access to the world of other illustrators, tutorials and demonstrations of illustration techniques, and information about what it takes to be an illustrator. More importantly social media has expanded the illustration community and its ability to reach admirers, clients, and colleagues. 
Most importantly it has provided a great opportunity to create another commemorative emblem.

Thanks everyone for all your support.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

From the Illustrators Partnership: Reply Comment to the Copyright Office

Originally posted Friday, September 18, 2015 by the Illustrators Partnership of America (IPA). The following is courtesy of IPA.

© 2015 Don Arday.

We want to thank all of you who wrote to the Copyright Office several weeks ago regarding the return of Orphan Works legislation. The Copyright Office received nearly 2,600 letters, an unprecedented response.

Nearly all are from artists protesting the draft legislation proposed to Congress in June.

To put our response in context, orphan works legislation has been based on fewer than 215 letters sent to the Copyright Office in 2005. That means our initial response trumped those total comments by a factor of 10.

The letters have been posted here: 

Reply Comments Needed

Now the next step will be to write "reply comments." We hope everyone will take the opportunity to write again.

A "reply comment" can take any form you'd like. We'd suggest 1 of 2 ways:
1.Take one or more comments you agree with and say that you agree.

2. Take one or more comments you disagree with and explain why you disagree.
We invite you to consider endorsing the letter submitted by the Illustrators Partnership. It's key sentence reads:

"Because Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution grants authors the exclusive rights to their work, it is our understanding that those rights cannot be abridged without a constitutional amendment."

The full letter can be found in Document #1: Direct Initial Comments
It's listed alphabetically under Illustrators Partnership. 

Reply Comments are due October 1, 2015

American and foreign artists can both submit their 
letters online here.

Comments must be submitted using the comment submission form or they will not be considered part of the public record. 

Please be advised:

"The Office intends to post the written comments and documentary evidence on its website in the form in which they are received. Parties should keep in mind that any private, confidential, or personally identifiable information appearing in their comment will be accessible to the public."

Special note to foreign artists:

If you are submitting from outside the US, under "State," please scroll down to the bottom and select "Non U.S.A. Location." 

You Can Still Contribute*

For those who didn't write the first time, please don't miss the opportunity to do so now.

-- Brad Holland and Cynthia Turner 
    for the Board of the Illustrators Partnership

*Addition to original IPA text by The Informed Illustrator

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Improving Digital Color Quality

Whether you illustrate using traditional media or digital media, high quality accurate or pleasing digitally output prints of the utmost importance. Output has been a challenge for illustrators from the very outset of digitally created or digitally processed imagery. The number of variables that can occur in the imaging process causes the difficulty. However, there are several methods and techniques that can be applied to digital working methods to improve digital print quality.

© 2015 Don Arday.

Multi-User Open Environments VS Single User Closed Environments

The easiest situation to deal with is that of a closed (single-user) environment. In a closed environment all variables can be systematically eliminated. When identical conditions are applied to both the creation of illustrations, and the way they are output, in other words under ideal circumstances. An example of this would be an illustrator who creates their own art and outputs prints she or he wish to sell by using the same equipment in the same environment and the same paper stock.

Unfortunately, many of us have to produce prints in an open (multi-user) environment that contains many variables. The variables not only occur at the output stage but also on the front end or input stage. This is especially true for students that use community computer lab facilities. These labs may present a variety of working conditions, as well as operator created variables. These might include someone changing the monitor’s brightness or even color preferences.

Regarding back end output, the truth is, most freelance illustrators produce work for a number of clients, and each one uses a different output system. There may even be times where an illustrator may be unaware of output preparations or even who will be printing their illustration.

Ways To Improve Image Output


Most output professionals would agree that monitor calibration is the most effective way to optimize print output. There are two categories of calibration that can be used. One involves the exclusive use of a software program while the other requires the use of a hardware device in combination with software. Although software calibration can improve the relationship of input to output color in some situations it is not as effective as a hardware colorimeter or color spectrophotometer. A colorimeter is used to calibrate a monitor’s brightness, contrast, and color temperature while a spectrophotometer is used to calibrate reflective light from prints. Using a colorimeter will greatly increase the potential for all forms of color print or display output to be accurate. There are a number of good commercially available colorimeters.

Color Management

Color management is a method of controlling the color characteristics for every device in the imaging chain. All devises rely on color management in the form of a color profile to control their color space. The color space on an input device requires a translator or converter to impart its color characteristics to an output device, which has a separate set of color characteristics. Users by default can allow the input software to manage color or alternate parameters can be chosen. Although occurring behind the scenes color management is something illustrators should be aware of. Alternative color monitor settings can be selected in Adobe software under Edit > Color Settings.

Print Profiles

A digital profile is a descriptive index that is used to define of properties and limitations of a color space. A profile registry is a set of finite values that create meaning for digital display media or physical output media. Profiles exist for hardware devices, within software programs, and for physically displayed media. The best visual results and intended color consistency is achieved by using profiles that were created for their respective destination environments. Imbedding the correct print profile in an image file can greatly improve print quality. Profiles can be selected in Adobe software under Edit > Assign Profile.

Monitor Brightness

Users, to suit their own personal preferences in a multiuser environment, frequently alter monitor brightness. Although a simple adjustment, this alteration can have a significant impact on color accuracy. An overly bright monitor will result in darker print output while a darkened monitor will result in lighter prints. It is always advisable to check the status of the monitor when working in a non-calibrated multi-user environment.

Color Sampling

When dealing with darker tones in Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, and other like programs it is advisable to sample the colors to see what there CMYK or RGB color percentages are, especially when painting or blending colors. Sampling dark colors can inform an artist about how much black is contained in a color, how saturated it may be, or whether it is warm or cool toned. This can indicate if there will be any gain or over saturation that will occur when printing. Even subtle warm and cool colors can be hard to judge. This may sometimes appear to cause a shift when printing, but it may actually be a misperception of a color’s content to begin with. The link below is to a perceptual color test provided by X-Rite. The online color challenge, based on the Farnsworth Munsell 100 Hue Test.

Work Environment

It’s time to think outside of the box. All the conditions referred to above occur inside hardware devices, but there is one factor that influences color perception that does not--the users environment. The amount of light in the workstation environment, whether it varies, and the quality of the light will all influence the colors used in an illustration. Both natural and artificial light varies in amount and in color temperature. Color temperatures over 5,000 Kelvin are cooler in color--bluish white, while lower color temperatures, 2,700–3,000 Kelvin are called warm colors--yellowish white through red. Color temperature and brightness can alter an illustrator’s use of a particular color scheme. Working in an environment with a stable lighting situation can improve output results. Professional colorimeters include ambient light testing.


All or any of the above suggestions can greatly enhance color display and output quality and accuracy. Even in difficult to control multi-user open environments certain color management procedures can be applied to improve the color environment.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

From the Illustrators Partnership: Copyright Office Letters Posted

Originally posted Friday, August 21, 2015 by the Illustrators Partnership of America (IPA). The following is courtesy of IPA.

The Copyright Office has posted the responses to its Visual Arts Notice of Inquiry.

They say they "received a large volume of initial comments," and unlike previous letters, which they always posted individually, these have been posted in Adobe PDF Portfolio view.

The Copyright Office recommends you download the files rather than viewing in a browser. 

© 2015 Don Arday.
Go to the link above and you'll see 7 PDF’s. The first, captioned "Direct Initial Comments" contains 358 letters that the Copyright Office regards as directly responsive to the 5 questions they posed about current copyright law. The other letters are available in one of the 6 PDF’s titled "General Initial Comments," and contain 2,244 letters.

Download the PDF’s and open them. Be patient: this could take several minutes. An error message may pop up: ignore it and proceed. 

When the file opens, it may appear to contain only one letter. Go to the menu at the upper left of the PDF portfolio file and click on "Files." This will open a column with hundreds of names along the left hand side of the window.

The letters are listed alphabetically by the author's first name or organization name. If the letter you're looking for is not in the "Direct" comments PDF, look for it alphabetically in one of the remaining 6.

(Informed Illustrator Editor's Note: You have the opportunity to reply to comments made in the letters submitted or to write additional letters.)

Reply Comments are due October 1, 2015

American and foreign artists can both submit their letters online here.

Please Be Advised:

"The Office intends to post the written comments and documentary evidence on its website in the form in which they are received. Parties should keep in mind that any private, confidential, or personally identifiable information appearing in their comment will be accessible to the public."

Special Note to Foreign Artists:

If you are submitting from outside the US, under "State," please scroll down to the bottom and select "Non U.S.A. Location." 

Read the Copyright Office Notice of Inquiry and Extension of Comment Period.

This will be an opportunity for you to either endorse those comments you agree with or object to those you don't. Or if you missed the first deadline, this will be a second chance to weigh in.

We hope everyone will review as many of these letters as possible and consider responding.

-- Brad Holland and Cynthia Turner 
    for the Board of the Illustrators Partnership

Please post or forward this artist alert to any interested party.