Process :

Quick Draw Comic and Upcoming Show


I had a great time at Quick Draw in SOMA last week! Lots of great artists and visitors, and I even got to draw Adventure Time fanart! It’s a great place to kick off my comics diary for the year, they’re surprisingly slippery comics to put online, since feeling of-the-moment is so vital to both maintain my attention and for them to maintain their relevance! I’ve come up with a method that is fairly quick and spontaneous, but it STILL ends up taking a week from drawing, painting and scanning. I’ve been spoiled by the immediacy of Instagram, but there are several more comics lined up for the very-near future.

I’ve been busy chatting with clients and preparing for my new show this Friday! The workflow right before a show is intense, both creating new pieces that have lingered in dreams for months, and touching up projects that have sat unfinished. I’m excited by the array of pieces, from small sexy lady paintings to large tropical beaches, and I think they’re going to look great on the walls of Field Day!

I’ve been playing with my stop motion app as I work, here’s what I was painting this morning:

I’m still working on my final pieces for the show, I’ll see you this First Friday if you’re in Oakland!


329 19th St, Oakland
More information and RSVP.

What I’m watching + Reading:

Russell Brand’s Revolution – Russell preaching to the future and change.
It’s Only Color – using color from nature for better design.
The Designer Who Gives Half His Work Away for Free – I’m still debating whether it’s a good model or not, but the intention is great!

<3 J

Upcoming Field Day and Quick Draw


I’m currently working on a bunch of new pieces for my show at Field Day in March. I can’t wait for next month, these girls know how to put on a great First Friday, and I think my latest paintings are going to be right at home in the adorable Field Day shop. Mark your calendars:

First Friday @ Field Day

329 19th Street, Oakland
Friday, March 6th
6-10 pm


I’m also happy to be a featured artist for the upcoming Pin-up themed Quick Draw SF event at F8 next week! I’ll be making little paintings for sale at the event, and will bring a bunch of cute little postcards and books. Plus, F8 has great drinks and food. I’ll see you there!

Quick Draw SF @ F8

1192 Folsom Street, San Francisco
Thurday Feb 19th 6-10pm




What I’m reading Online

Werner Herzog’s Life Advice – Especially for timid artists, read over these every day.
Patti Boyd’s Photo Exhibit in SF – I read Pattie’s book Wonderful Tonight a few years back, and her story of touring as a model and Beatles wife is both exciting and heartbreaking, and I expect her photographs will be too.
Mushroom War Wiki – I’m over-indulging in Adventure time and trying to get to the bottom of this Mushroom War and Ice King storyline.

Why illustrators should learn to code


It’s a really strange time to be an illustrator. Especially in the Bay Area. In the past few years, there was a huge inflation of jobs for production artists in mobile gaming, everyone seemed to be hiring as many young illustrators as they could, and just as quickly, all the major studios let go a huge amounts of artists (I was one of them). The film industry isn’t any different. When you hear things in the news about Dreamworks planning massive layoffs, that is a really bad sign. That one hits especially hard for me, since Dreamworks was a great supporter of the animation department I came out of at SJSU, and some of our brightest graduates went to Dreamworks. We just found out that over 500 jobs are being lost, and I’m watching my friends post about their job loss on Facebook just like I have been over and over again in the past few years as each major company in turn drops their creative teams. In 2013 we had Rhythm and Hues laying off designers and effects artists, painting the dim future for art teams being an expense that can be cut.

We’re dealing with structural problems as commercial artists (production artists, illustrators, etc) like the widespread idea that artists need to be kept in their own little room and treated delicately. Yes, artists often need a quiet place to do their work, but so do most people. The theory that they should be sheltered from the decision making in a business has injured the profession, it’s created a lot of jobs for non-artists to manage art teams, and frankly, that structure has made it easier for creative work to be sent overseas. If artists aren’t thought of as an integral part of a company’s production process, but instead as add-ons, it’s easier to consider them as commodities that can be replaced.

How can you compete with a market that readily disposes of their artist? I’m of the mindset that you should learn to do EVERYTHING, learn new things constantly, and be able to take on as many elements of the job at hand as possible. Be flexible and curious and dive into the wide ocean of new disciplines. This conflicts with the idea that you should focus on what you do best and leave others to do the rest, and that if you’re an illustrator you don’t need to think about stuff you don’t specialize in. “I don’t really do technology, I’m an artist.” But you have a much greater chance of supporting yourself if you know how to do more than one thing. Be a powerhouse: do the drawing, do the technical art, do the writing, do the programming, do the development. Do as much as you can.

(As I write this, Susie Cagle is tweeting about freelancing and says in regards to freelancing in journalism: “But this is why I learned to draw as well. I have two skills/revenue streams. I’m glad to not just be selling words in this market.”)

We’re taught to have clear dreams and goals, but we’re in a time when jobs and industries are so fluid and changing so often that you really have to be open to new opportunities. You may want to draw comics or animate your own cartoon, but leap at any chance you can to learn skills that can enhance your creative life. When an opportunity to learn front-end development came my way, I went for it. As an illustrator, my opportunities for work and collaboration with people I loved were pretty minimal, but by establishing myself with a skill like web design, new doors seem to be opening. People /want/ to work with creative people when they’re commissioning work like putting together a website. They want someone who speaks their language, knows the art scene, and can bring that experience to their design. And if you can also throw in some drawings into the project, you’re golden.

The first trick is to start looking at the world around you like any piece of art, and realize that design is art that’s tailored to the user. For instance, look at the web and think about what you like and what you don’t like, and then justify those opinions. Now you’re thinking like a designer! If I’ve learned anything, it’s that if you have a well-trained eye for detail from traditional illustration, animation inbetweening, and pixel-perfect vectorizing, you can attribute that beauty obsession to designing something functional. As I work from website mockups and develop them into fully-functioning websites, having a sensitivity for detail, matching ratios, fonts and colors if a huge part of the job. The more commercial artists bleed into design and coding, the most beautiful our products and lifestyles can be, because the aesthetic of the project will be considered from the beginning.

It’s a treacherous market out there, but if companies are finding ways to cut out creative departments, illustrators have to get scrappy and be a company within ourselves. If we work small and lean, we can design the aesthetic and make creative decisions through to the finished product. The movement towards small business owners running their own enterprises online, that people are finding more and more ways to express their dreams and fund them organically, and the best new media is forming outside of the usual corporate structures, this creates a whole new fertile ground for an illustrators, designers and developers to restructure the way they create. There’s no clear answer or road to take, but blurring the lines of disciplines, and having illustrators step up to the plate is a good start.

Currently listening to:

Rachel Fannan’s two new tracks are delicious, a heavy beat and beautiful vocals quickly bring these tracks into heavy rotation.

Poolside: Process


1) I work very loosely at first, draw in blue line on watercolor paper, just trying to get the main shapes down and start putting in color as quickly as possible. 2)Blocking in more color, this is what I call the “ugly phase”, 3) Throw in some ink lines and bolder splashes of color, and suddenly it all snaps together! 4) Finishing out the piece with a few little background details.

Quick rundown of my watercolor process, let me know if you want more!


Project Update


This is a question I often ask myself, how do you stay motivated and stick with a project? I have too many ideas in my head, too many things I start, and not enough projects I actually finish. When I was younger, I approached HUGE projects (large watercolored graphic novels, for instance) and managed to see the project to the end with an intense focus, but these days it’s getting harder and harder. Is it the constant information overload that causes us all to run around like headless chickens? Is there just too much to do? Or is it just the span of potential projects that’s daunting?

Here are the big things in my life right now that I’m juggling and nurturing:


If you asked me a year ago what my dream project would be, I’d say it would be to design and brand for companies featuring my illustration work. That seemed like a far-reaching dream, and I don’t think I’d have found a way to do it on my own. Now, I find myself with a fun client that’s allowing me to brand a new company (that I can’t wait to share!), but I’m also working and learning the ropes at a really great design studio (ThisIsStar). It all happened so naturally it makes me smile. When you have a CV of gaming art jobs, animation and comics, a recruiter for an entry-level graphic design position won’t even talk to you. But I found myself drawn to layouts, typography and hand-lettering more and more, filling my time reading design blogs and downloading type books, so I reached out to my friend, superstar designer and artist Star. A lunch led to more correspondence, a couple design projects, and now I’m assisting on her design projects at This is Star. She’s been awesomely supportive and great resource of knowledge!

I’m learning on the job to refine my taste, lay-out projects, experiment with color, moodboards and logo designs. As I apply my illustration experience to graphic design principles, the connective threads between practices become apparent, and I find it fascinating. Design is design is design, I suppose. From illustration to animation to character design to comic books, they’re all closely related, it’s all more close-knit than I thought and design seems to be the way it is presented and how you communicate an idea with the rest of the world.

I simply cannot express the importance of friends, especially in a competitive field like this. While a company might not take a risk on you when you’re switching career goals, a smart friend might see potential. And you never know when an old client might hit you up with a new project! Freelancing is still new to me, but it seems like there’s no rhyme or reason to it, it’s just constant communication and staying open for the things that find you.

I’m beyond thrilled to be working with Star, and we’re going to my first design conference next month! Lady designers are awesome.



There’s a boom in hand-lettering, from sign-painting to hand-lettered logos. You see brushy hand-lettered titles and sayings all over the place. And guess what? I love handwriting! I’ve been hand-lettering comics since I started drawing comics, and preferred the looseness of it over any font. Now I’m realizing that my hand needs some refinement, but there’s a lot of help for that! I recently signed up over at Skillshare, and there’s a TON of handlettering classes taught by great lettering artists like Mary Kate McDevitt, Simon Walker, and Spencer Charles. Star sent me to these classes as homework, and those 3 classes combined really gives a broad spectrum of lettering techniques and tools. Some of those tips have refined my process of writing immensely! I don’t think I’ll ever really lose my rough edges, nor do I want to, but getting some type discipline and tighter process is making everything look a lot better.


Patterns + Fashion

I’ve been spending some time looking over my past work and realized the patterns I did for Nooworks are still some of my favorites. I LOVE creating illustrated patterns, I like sketching a bunch of ideas, bringing them all into Photoshop and figuring out how they’ll fit together. I like masses of shape and color. I want to see my patterns on everything, and it seems to go hand-in-hand with my new design work, especially if I gear it towards the fashion world. I created this field of kittens pattern in an afternoon, and even made some merch on Society6!


Let’s not forget comics! I’ve had to put them on the backburner during this time of, ahem, needing to make an income, but I’m starting to find little blocks of time to return to comics. My collaboration with Eddie Wright, Chrysalis, is still in an early stage of production, but we’re starting to make some convention appearances together. This weekend is the San Francisco Zine Fest, and we’ll be sharing a table and selling copies of Chrysalis #0, a magazine that collects the first 10 pages of the comic, a bunch of my art, and two stories written by Eddie. I’m excited to design this book and get some eyes on it! Now we’re booked for A.P.E. as well, so I’m going to have to hustle to get more comic pages done!

I still want to keep drawing the diary comics and have another project that’s taking formation…

Website Design

Sadly, a Squarespace account made sense for a concept artist website, but as I merge into design, I’m having to learn some website building skills. My first big project is going to be migrating this site back over to WordPress and designing the new look for it. For now it’s research research research and organizing my files as I transition.
Work It

Those are the main projects keeping me busy, they all feel very much In Progress but I’m learning to embrace that.


All content © 2016 Jamaica Dyer. Developed by JAMDYE.