Shop Mobile More Submit  Join Login
Small, not-pushy-at-all, reminder of where you can buy my work, should you feel so inclined: - Copies of "Horace Spiegelman Gets Made Redundant" are still available here, along with lots of lovely work by Agent Agnes. - Get your prints here...prints of many of my most recent pieces. As always, if there's something you want to see, which isn't there, tell me; I can probably put it there. (Birds of Lore prints will be available AFTER publication, though.)… - A few of my ORIGINALS are available here, AND there is a handy shopping cart thingy, so you don't even have to talk to me, in order to complete the transaction. - My own site, of course, also has originals for sale, and a wider selection. But it doesn't have a shopping cart, so you WILL have to e-mail me, if there's something you want. I take PayPal and Interac e-transfers. :-) - Prints of some of my older work can still be got, here.

There might be other stuff knocking about, that I've forgotten about--but this should suffice, for the blatant art-pushing.
  • Listening to: the telly, in the other room
I've had the same e-mail address for the last 15 years, and during those 15 years, I've done most of my shopping online, with predictable results:  I get so much spam I overlook the occasional legitimate mail.  Bad mojo.  For that reason, I'll be phasing out my old e-mail address, over the next little while.  Here's some new contact info, for anyone who wants to talk to me:

FOR NEW CUSTOMERS, RATE INQUIRIES, SALES, SHOWS, AND GENERAL WORK-RELATED WORKINESS...please write to info AT rocketsloth DOT com.  (My sister has an illustration agency, and is now representing me.  Her name is Clare.  She's very nice.  She can tell you everything you need to know about working with me, and a few embarrassing stories about my childhood.  Just kidding about the embarrassing stories.  Really!)


Or, hey, send me a note on DA; I'll see it.
  • Listening to: the wind
Every time artists are invited to work for free, or for exposure, or for the chance to be part of something very special and wonderful (ahem), people like to defend the offer of, well, nothing, by comparing it to other things, which it is not comparable to.  Here are a few of them, for easy reference:

Working for free is not like...submitting to the Spectrum annual (and similar publications).

Why not?  Because these publications really ARE used by creative directors looking for fresh talent.  I've been hired based on appearances in Spectrum, and so have plenty of people I know.  Submitting to annuals is a reasonable investment.  I know, I know, I haven't submitted to Spectrum in ages, but that's not because it didn't help.  It's because I was miffed about not getting my copies, but that's just me being curmudgeonly, and cutting off my nose to spite my face.  There IS value in annuals.

Working for free is not like...internships, student-teaching, apprenticeships, and similar on-the-job training programmes.

Why not?  Because many jobs REQUIRE on-the-job training, before you're allowed to do them by yourself.  On-the-job training is part of your education, not your working life.  You're there to learn, and if your placement is a good one, it can be incredibly instructive.  Furthermore, a good reference from an internship or training programme can be valuable, in the job market.  Sometimes, you may even be asked to stay on in a paid capacity, when your training or internship is complete.

Working for free is not like...collaborating with other artists and writers on projects you're passionate about, with no guarantee of compensation.

Why not?  Because when you're asked to contribute to a commercial project of any sort, someone is profiting from your work.  And it's not you.  When you collaborate with other artists and writers for the fun of it, or with a view to turning a profit eventually, either nobody profits or EVERYBODY profits.  Why on earth would you want to line someone else's pocket, while yours goes empty?  And why would anyone want to put you in that position?

Working for free FOR A LARGE COMPANY, OR FOR AN INDIVIDUAL is not like...submitting to small zines, which pay in copies.

Why not?  Because most small zines don't make a profit, or if they do, it's very slim.  They're pretty much labours of love.  They can't afford to give you much, if anything.  But choose your zine carefully:  some of them are widely respected, and can get you seen by the right people.  Others...well, let's just say they can't help you, and leave it at that.  If you're considering submitting to a publication that pays little or nothing, check out some back issues.  See if anyone famous is in there, or anyone you respect.  Google that publication, and see who's talking about it, and for what reasons.  Also, when you submit to a zine, you can often submit something you've already done, rather than creating something new:  that is to say, you can get legitimate exposure to the right people, for no extra effort, beyond the time it takes to submit.  Not a bad deal.

Working for free is not like...doing something you'd do anyway, for fun, and getting some added exposure for it.

Why not?  Because when you do that same thing for fun, nobody else gets to profit from it.  You don't have to give up any rights to your work, or allow it to be associated with somebody else's brand; you can save it for later, and maybe profit from it, yourself.  "Exposure" is a misleading currency.  Even if the project soliciting free work has a famous face or a large corporation attached to it, there's no guarantee your work will be widely circulated.  Even if it is, the bulk of the attention will not be on you or your work, but on whatever company, product, or famous face is being spotlighted. This is the age of social media.  If we want exposure, we can...ha, ha, ha...expose ourselves.  Let's flash the world, guys!  Yes, it takes work to get heavy circulation, but when you put in the time to advertise yourself properly, you can make sure the focus is on YOU.  And you can target that advertising to people who can help you, or people who'd appreciate what you do, or to whatever audience your heart desires.

Working for free is not like...cheese bites in grocery shops.

Why not?  (Are you serious, with that?  Well, yes; somebody was, at one point, which is why I'm including it here.)  Because the value of a cheese sample is, what, half a cent?  A cheese bite is not an entire meal.  It is not satisfying.  You eat a cheese bite, and you want a whole sandwich.  But to get at the sandwich, you need to buy cheese.  And bread.  And veg.  And whatever else you like on your sarnie.  Basically, a cheese bite is a teaser that costs next to nothing, and whets your appetite for a whole lot more than just cheese.  If even one person likes their cheese bite, and buys sandwich stuff, the promotion's a success.  If not, who cares?  Nothing of particular value was lost.  A free illustration, however, is worth quite a bit.  At least a couple of hundred dollars, in most cases.  And it IS an entire meal.  It IS satisfying.  The customer has what they want.  Maybe they'll come back for more, later--in fifteen years of professional illustration, I've seen this happen exactly ONCE, and most of the "paid" work given out as a result of free work was never, in fact, paid for, as the company went under shortly thereafter--but probably, they won't.  If you want to hand out free samples, they need to be equivalent to cheese bites, so, I don't know, send Christmas cards to your favourite clients, or something.  Include free doodles when you sign autographs.  But don't give out sandwiches.  ;-)

Added 24/02 - Working for free is not like...lawyers (for example) doing pro bono work.

Why not?  First, let me explain the term.  It's short for "pro bono publico" -- for the public good.  It doesn't really mean "free."  Pro bono work CAN be free, or it can involve a reduced rate.  The idea behind pro bono work is to allow people who can't normally afford professional services to benefit from them, nonetheless.  There are also a variety of less altruistic reasons for performing pro bono work (good press, for example).  Many law firms require employees to perform a certain number of pro bono hours per year.  But when you provide free artwork to an entity that CAN afford to pay for it, and chooses not to--a corporation, for example--you are not working pro bono publico.  You're working pro bono cheapo.  (Providing free art to a charity, a school, a library, or any number of deserving beneficiaries, however, could certainly fall under the pro bono umbrella.)

Also, a note to all artists who believe they have to work for free, or for exposure, just to get a toe in the door:  cracking into the illustration world is difficult, but not THAT difficult.  I promise you, you don't need to do that.  You really, really don't.  You might have to brace yourself for a spot of rejection, but if you keep approaching companies which regularly commission art that's similar to yours--that is to say, companies which are buying what you're selling--sooner or later, you'll be hired.  In the meantime, keep expanding that portfolio, and use social media to spread the word.  And keep your self-esteem up.  If other artists can become successful without coughing up free work, why not you?  Are you worse than they are?  Are you too lazy to promote yourself?  Of course not.  Be proud of what you do--and if you want to do it for free, at some point, make sure you're doing it for a good reason.  Charity springs to mind, or, y'know, a present for your mum.
  • Listening to: birds
Deviant Art is at it again, this time in cahoots with Neil Gaiman:…

At first, I thought this was a charitable effort, with Blackberry as its corporate sponsor.  Under that supposition, I disapproved, and expressed my disapproval, but very mildly.  Now, watch me disapprove rather more forcefully (but still quite politely, because I'm repressed, that way):

The Keep Moving Project is NOT a charity, with Blackberry as its corporate sponsor. It's an advertising campaign for Blackberry, from which Neil Gaiman expects to make a small profit, which he will donate to an unspecified cause. So...problems:

1) Contributors don't know what they'd be contributing TO, beyond Blackberry's continued success.  Does Neil Gaiman's idea of a worthy cause coincide with yours?  Who knows?  (There may be somewhere online where one might discover the intended beneficiary, but I couldn't find it.  It all seems a bit airy-fairy, to me.  I am happy to donate my work and my time to legitimate, registered charities, when I can afford it, but this is not an appropriate way to solicit donations.  It's...well, awfully tacky, isn't it?)

2) Publicity for artists involved might be rather limited, as Blackberry is not obliged to credit them in all instances where their art might appear. It's highly unlikely artists would get NO credit, but their work--their free work--could certainly be used in manners far beyond the scope of its original intent.

3) This is basically your standard-issue "ha, ha; fight for the chance to work for free, lowly nobodies!" competition. It's exploitative and demeaning.  If Neil Gaiman would like to collaborate with artists, he should ask politely.  And he should not expect anything of the artists that he is not demanding of himself.  Sometimes, creative people band together to create something they're passionate about, with no certainty of profit:  artists and writers collaborating on comic book submissions are a good example of this.  But we usually do these sorts of things with our friends or trusted colleagues--people we know, people we respect, people with whom we share a mutual trust.  Not random people on the Internet, who compete for the privilege.

Let's not encourage it, and encourage everybody else not to encourage it! (That is to say...let's discourage it!)

Neil, DA, you are DOIN IT RONG!
  • Listening to: birds
Years and years ago, at the beginning of my illustration career, a veteran illustrator got mad at me, and at a number of my colleagues, for charging too little.  We all protested loudly.  "But, dude," we said, "we are not veterans like you, with years of experience and stunning portfolios to back us up.  We are newbies, and we need to eat, too, so we'll take what we can get.  We're not in direct competition with you, so why do you care?"  Then, we added, with great smugness, "Oh, and our rates are the current industry standard, so pthbbbbbt!"

Except more than a decade's gone by, and I see that my colleagues and I are now veterans, with our own pretty portfolios and lengthy CVs.  We have become the indignant illustrator's direct competitors, and we're not earning that much more than we were at the start of our careers.  We're certainly not getting what he did, at the height of his.  And we did this to ourselves.  Oh, sure, we're not solely responsible.  These are hard times, to begin with.  Rates would've taken a hit, regardless.  But we're not blameless, either.  Rates HAVE come down to match what we were willing to work for.  This is something I've witnessed firsthand, over and over again.

Why did I do it?  Even at the start of my career, I was doing work that, for the most part, thrilled my customers to their boots.  This is not said with ego, to imply that I was at the level of a veteran illustrator even then--I certainly wasn't--but to point out that my product was exactly what somebody was looking for, and willing to pay for...and yet, there I was, producing it for what amounted to less than minimum wage.  I was even a bit proud of myself, when people were surprised by my low rates, and thanked me for making my work affordable.  

There are a thousand excuses.  I needed money fast.  I lacked experience.  There's no single set of industry standard rates for artists, only a loose collection of generally accepted rates, which vary wildly by market.  My living expenses were lower, then; I was in an area where a decent one-bedroom could be had for as little as $200 per month.  Food was basic, but cheap.  It didn't occur to me that my colleagues might be paying ten times the rent I was, for a home too small for their families, or that there was already a recession on, and that artists, furnishing a luxury commodity, would be among the first to see cuts to their earnings--and that my willingness to undervalue my work was not helping.  None of these excuses are particularly helpful now, when I find myself arguing with the next generation of people who Just Don't Get It, and probably won't, till it's too late.

DA is now contributing to the problem, in their own small way, with a new commissions widget, which offers artists the chance to sell their services for a maximum of $50, minus a 20% fee.  At best, this feature will go largely unnoticed, and will be used primarily by kids and by hobbyists with no potential to become professionals (ie, people who will never be competing for mainstream jobs, and bringing that undercutting mentality to the grown-up arena).  The young, inexperienced, and simply oblivious will be exploited--and that's the best-case scenario.  At worst, it'll be used by people who are genuinely skilled, but who don't rely on art to make a living, or who have extremely low overhead, in terms of rent and bills.  Apparently, DA also plans to present the people using this widget as the artists on this site who are looking for work, contributing even further to the common perception of art as a commodity with little value, and artists as people who should work for peanuts.

On its own, DA's widget is not a disaster.  The problem is, it's part of a much larger trend towards rock-bottom prices.  A tiny part, to be sure, but a part nonetheless, and we shouldn't let it happen without a murmur.  Think of this widget as an ant.  When one ant comes in your house, it's annoying.  You stamp on it, and you're done.  When ten ants come in, it's a little problem.  Maybe you don't stamp on all of them, and one of them gets into the strawberry jam.  When a hundred ants come in, it's a disgusting infestation, and you'll probably get bitten.  When a thousand ants come in, they might actually kill you, or do serious damage to your home.
  • Listening to: birds
A few of my drawings are now available as prints, via society6.  Go here to get them:

I've only put up a handful, so far, but I'm open to suggestions:  if there's anything you'd particularly like to see in print form, please post it here in the comments, and I'll put it up, if possible.  (Please note that older work, especially if it's digital, may not be available, due to my not having high resolution files any more.  There are also a few images where copyright would be an issue.  But most newer stuff is fair game.)
  • Listening to: an unidentified whirring noise
I'm currently looking for freelance work in the HORROR market, in particular--I'd especially like to draw zombies, ghouls, and any non-sparklevampire undead.  If you are hiring, or know of someone who is, please let me know!  :-)
  • Listening to: small, peepy birds
I'm doing some guest art for this project, here:…

If you're a fan of birds, or mythology, or mythological birds, please consider contributing.  It's going to be full of lovely illustrations, and awesome stories about birds.  What more could you want?

Here's a little WIP shot of my contribution:

Go on.  Give 'em money.  You know you waaaaaaaant to.  (Imagine I said "want" in a voice like a seagull, you know, all squawky and annoying.)
  • Listening to: my fridge humming
My sister and I are now blogging together at .  There are photos, dorky observations, and more photos.

(It's called "Aardvark and Donkey" because when we were kids, our father used to call us the aardvark and the donkey.  Not such flattering choices of animals, when one stops to think about it, but I'm sure he meant it affectionately.)
  • Listening to: my fridge humming
Hey, does anyone else remember the "Ebony Keep" forums, and all the sheep and olives and stuff?

I was looking through some old storage CDs lately, to see if there was anything worth hanging onto, and I discovered a folder full of those little sheep icons:  first, I was all "WTF?"; then, I was all "Oh, yeaaaaaah...I remember those."

The hot, wild kitchen!
Reclaiming Art!

My, that was a blast from the past.

(Apologies to anyone who hasn't a bloody clue what I'm on about, and is reading this with a WTF expression on their face, rather like the one I had on when I first excavated those sheep.)
  • Listening to: my fridge making a funny noise
Does anybody know of any shipping services in Vancouver that offer on-site pickup (that is, they'll come to your door, get your packages, and put them in the post)?  FedEx is getting more and more expensive, and that expense is being passed on more and more to people who want to buy my art, which isn't fair to anyone.  Right now, I can't reasonably sell anything worth less than $200--nobody wants to pay 50-1000% of the cost of the artwork in shipping fees!  (And, yeah, 1000% can happen, with a cheaper drawing headed to a remote destination--depressing, isn't it?)  I used to absorb the cost of shipping on more expensive items, as a courtesy, and I would like to bring back that service, but I can't afford it, with FedEx.  :-(

My goal is to be able to sell some smaller pieces, and possibly prints, for reasonable rates--but even Xpresspost prepaid envelopes start around $15 a pop, for deliveries within Canada, and pickup adds even more.  I'd like to be able to charge no more than $10 for shipping within Canada, and no more than $15 internationally; is that a pipe dream?

I need something that works in one of these ways, I think:

a)  a service that sells prepaid envelopes, and will pick them up for shipping at least once a week, without charging an arm and a leg,

- or -

b)  some way of figuring out exactly how much shipping will cost, to any destination--then, I can order regular stamps and envelopes online, and hire a courier to come and take my post to the nearest mail dropoff centre a couple of times a week.

- or -

c)  a flatmate, who will go to the post office for me upon demand.

(Option c is what's passing for a joke, these days.)
  • Listening to: my neighbour assembling IKEA furniture...loudly!
I think I stepped in pee, yesterday.  I went downstairs to get my post, and I didn't put my shoes on--sometimes I don't, when I'm not planning to leave the building.  But then, I forgot I wasn't wearing shoes, and I wandered out, and I thought to myself, "Hey, the ground is so cold, it almost feels wet."  And then I looked down, and it WAS wet, and it smelled like pee.

I think it's a cruel, cruel thing, that tomatoes must be so acidic.  Must I be punished with acid reflux every time I indulge?  In my early twenties, I could eat a whole tomato, drizzled with a dressing of olive oil and vinegar and cracked pepper, and it would be nothing but delicious.  I want THAT body back.

I think those Dove commercials, the "Campaign for Real Beauty" ones, are barking up the wrong tree.  Rather than trying to convince us we're all beautiful, perhaps they should remind us we don't have to be; we have value beyond the visual.  We'll all be old and shrivelled, some day:  it's wise to find something beyond beauty to hang our egos on, before that day comes.
  • Listening to: that Audi A6 ad, with the hummingbird, on TV
Partial list of strange items I've received from my local grocery shop, in lieu of out-of-stock products:

*  A can of pre-cooked chipped beef, in place of an uncooked pheasant.
*  An entire frozen turkey, in place of a plate of deli meats.
*  A fruit I could not identify, in place of a dragonfruit--perhaps you can help me.  It was long and oval-shaped, green on one side and orange on the other, and full of rich, sweet orange flesh.  I did not like this fruit.
*  Five gallons of skim milk, in place of a pint of whole.  (In fairness, these were not meant for me, at all.  They came back and took them away.)
*  A frozen butter chicken entree, in place of a roast chicken.
*  A box of macaroons, in place of marzipan--

--and, this morning, the greatest disappointment of all:  a sad little container of grapefruit parts floating in syrup, in place of a whole grapefruit.  I'd been looking forward to that grapefruit.  My mother used to give me grapefruit, when I was ill, and to this day, it's my comfort food of choice.  After more than a week of surviving on apple juice and chicken broth, and feeling thoroughly sorry for myself, I was positively slavering after that grapefruit.  A grapefruit is so good:  so cool, so refreshing, so sweet, and the texture--those little bursting membranes--who couldn't love a grapefruit?  But this grapefruit in syrup was soggy, and sugary, and not at all what I was expecting.  I'd order some squabs to make up for it, but they'd probably send a haggis.  Besides, I don't want to cook.  I just want to suck a bite of grapefruit till those little poddy bits break open, one by one.  Maybe I'd even put it in the freezer for a few minutes, to get it extra-cold.  Ice crystals on the verge of forming; the best.

  • Listening to: a pair of squabbling night birds
I have a Temperley London jacket in size 6 US, 12 UK, which bloody won't take back because I thought it was the size 2 I ordered, and cut off the tags.  It looks like this:…

Will send anywhere in the US or Canada.  It's totally last year, but it really IS a lovely coat.  I'm so disappointed.  :-(

I feel just like Akaky Akakievich, I swear.  Worked superdoublehard for seven months; bought a much-coveted coat as a reward; never got to enjoy it.  If I die of grief, beware of my coat-snatching ghost around the False Creek area.
  • Listening to: the television being noisy
A pair of trousers just scared the skin off me.  

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw them hanging on a chair, draped over the seat and crossed at the knee--right jaunty, like.  I thought they were legs.  I thought there was a person in them.  A person in my apartment.

Here's the sad part:  exactly the same thing happened an hour ago, and this morning.  You'd think I'd move them, or start remembering they're there.
  • Listening to: Verdi - Otello
Remember the bad necklace from this entry?…

Well, I e-mailed both Enviius and the designer of the necklace--in the first case, to ask for a replacement; in the second case, as a heads-up that her products might not be getting represented to their best advantage.

Got a very kind response from Enviius:  they've sent me a shipping label, so I can return the rusty necklace free of charge, and they're going to try and find  me another one.  I like that.

Got a rather odd response from the designer:  essentially, "it's supposed to look like that."  Seriously.  She informed me that her line "incorporates many natural and less refined materials to create a current, fashion forward product. Slight irregularities in  finish are considered part of the "look" and are intentionally included in the design."  All right, fair enough--but if that's the case, why does the product photograph on her website reveal no such irregularities?  If you're going to sell a product that intentionally incorporates big blobs of rust, shouldn't you make that clear BEFORE people shell out for it?  Something like this, perhaps:

Clustered heart necklace - $375
(Onyx - $300
Pewter-toned base metal - $25
Labour - $50
Generous bespattering of rust and scratches - priceless.)

Dude, man.  I paid with Visa, not Mastercard.  The necklace should therefore be where I want to be--not contain priceless elements.  Like, it should have a tiny little GPS on it, so I can search for it in the wasteland that is my closet.

Perhaps the designer felt that I was trying to malign her line, or maybe score some free jewellery, and felt the need to put me in my place.  Such an odd response; odd, odd, odd.  I'd stick my nose in the air, and vow to stick to Cartier, but I haven't got the funds to follow through on that idea.

Geese, I don't mind you eating my plants and honking up my balcony, but must you do so at 8AM?
A little heads-up for fellow bargain shoppers:  avoid!  Avoid like the plague!  I don't know WHAT they were thinking, but they seem to have sent me a box of rust with a necklace buried in it.  Funny:  I don't recall ordering that.

What I ordered is supposed to look like this:…

I don't usually wear costume jewellery, but for $80, reduced from $375, what the hell, right?

Then, I see the box.  Uh-oh:

Pewter tone?  Eh?  OK, this might've been my bad.  You check gold jewellery, to make sure it's not plated; maybe silver, if the price is suspiciously low.  But pewter?  Dear sweet Jebus; who's faking pewter?  Why?  I don't remember seeing anything about pewter tone on the listing, but that doesn't mean it wasn't there.

Still.  For eighty bucks, pewter tone is OK.  I'm not likely to wear it much, anyway.  I'll just be extra-careful.  I won't,, and stuff, so the fake pewter bits won't scrape together.

Only, oops--looks like someone's already done the Boston Marathon in this thing:

OMG HUGE BROWN MARKS, WHAT THE HELL, I DON'T EVEN!?  (A bit tough to spot in this photo; iPod photography tends to be short of detail.  But check out the little heart right by the label, especially.  See that little brown bit, that looks sort of like a shadow?  That's a GIANT NASTY RUST PIT, where the finish is completely scraped off.  (I thought it was a dirty mark, at first, and tried to remove it with my nail.  That was when the rust started flaking away, and I realised I'd been hosed.  Sad little sprinkles of corroded metal, how I loathe thee.)

At first, I thought the rust was only on the back of the necklace.  Not freaking out yet:  my hair might hide it.  It's OK.  It's fine.  It's...RUST AND SCRATCHES ALL OVER THE BIGGEST DANGLY BIT, front & centre!  Yuck:

I wouldn't pay $8 for that.  It's obviously USED, and seriously damaged, and so cheaply made I'd spend more having it repaired than I did to buy it.  Horrid thing.  Now, I KNOW I'd have noticed, if it had been marked used or damaged.  I'd never buy something like that.  It's bloody well going back, and I hope I'm not charged for shipping.

(On the positive side, I've had much better luck with HauteLook, and sometimes Beyond the Rack--though, BTR will occasionally sell you stuff, realise they don't have it, then spend a couple of months promising it's coming, before finally issuing a refund.  They also sent me a pair of giant knickers, one time, but I got my money back on those, despite them probably being my mistake.)

tl;dr:  GROSS necklace, scratched & rusty, sucks.  I ordered a Teaposy set from them, too, and the cellophane on the tea was totally ripped; I was afraid to drink it, with the damaged packaging.  But it was the teapot I wanted, anyway, so whatever.  But the necklace, that's torn it.  Sticking to non-Enviius sites, thank you!

I have had another loud visitor, today.  I think I might put a bird feeder out there, to attract more pleasant species.
I was roused this morning by a mighty honking:  there, at the window, was a goose, having itself a right old peep.

I turned to find my iPod, and while my back was turned, ANOTHER goose arrived!  I couldn't get the world's best shots of them, as I've not cleaned that window in ages--but there they were.  Perhaps the 8AM behonking was a birdbrained act of vengeance, for February's goose-stalking.  Or perhaps they envy my view.  I HAVE got rather a nice one, haven't I?
  • Listening to: Something on the telly