A Story Before Bed

Posted in childrens book, childrens market, illustration, new project with tags , , , , , , , on November 2, 2009 by Dante DeStefano

It’s out! Earlier this year, a few other Portfolio Center students and I created full length children’s books, mostly from fairy tales and such, to be published in online picture books. I did The Musicians of Bremen Town. Well, it’s finally published. Go check it out at the A Story Before Bed website. The idea is that you can purchase books and, if you have a webcam, you can record yourself reading that book to a child/family member that you may not get to see very often or lives far away. Soldiers can even get them for free. You may need to buy a book in order to view the entire book, but I believe it offers a preview.


Autumn Introspection

Posted in Life after school, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on October 15, 2009 by Dante DeStefano

I just had a great introspective moment. I haven’t had one like that in a year. I laid down on the couch to close my eyes after a busy day of running around and babysitting, when I fell into a deep and clear self-hypnotic trance and started meditating unintentionally. Maybe it’s the cool and rainy autumn day or that I found the most comfortable position possible on the couch, but I hadn’t felt that peaceful and relaxed in a long time. It was great. In that place I went to in my mind, I found a deep sense of security and wealth. Then, I realized something: I am finally happy with being just who I am and I know who I am. I’m finally not trying to emulate someone or constantly seek approval of others. Even though I’m still looking for work and haven’t found my place yet, I feel great. As long as I can find this center, I’ll know where to go. And as long as I can take power naps like that and remember how to relax, I’ll be able to keep up the good fight.

Make|Think 2009

Posted in AIGA, Life after school, Make|Think with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 12, 2009 by Dante DeStefano

I just got back from AIGA’s Make|Think 2009 Conference in Memphis, Tennessee. I had a great time. I went with a group of friends and current students from Portfolio Center. We were out of town for four days. Other than it being a good idea in general, I decided to go because I wanted a good excuse to get out of state for the first time in years, to meet new people and try to grasp a better understanding of the larger world of design outside of PC and illustration. Most of all, I need to find more work and I figured that a national conference would increase my chances.

First off, I felt a little overwhelmed. There was so much to do and so many people. Even now that I’m back, I still feel overwhelmed with information, feedback and people. I’ve only been to comic/sci-fi conventions before. This was a lot different and more important. I felt like I spent every moment awake doing something or getting the hang of how to navigate the conference center or the city. Personally, that didn’t leave me with a lot of time to mingle and meet people. I think the best thing I did while I was there was participate in the student portfolio review. That is when I got a chance to get my name and cards out to professionals without just being dumbstruck by talking to strangers. I got lots of positive comments at the review. It helped boost my confidence and give me a better perspective on how professionals see my work.

At this very moment, right after the conference, I didn’t walk out with definite work. It’s been only three months since I’ve been out of school and, even now, I am starting to feel a little claustrophobic and stressed. Only three months, but within that time, I’ve done a lot of job shuffling and hustling and I’ve seen my friends grab work and get paid for it while I’m still looking. Part of me wonders what I’m not doing right or if I’m not trying hard enough. Now is not the time to get discouraged. There is never time for that. This weekend gave me a great look at the world of design at large and lots of time listening to the big shots. A lot of what I learned is that, even if it’s not my favorite thing to do, I have to spend more time yackin’ it up and promoting myself. I believe in my work with all my heart and while I would rather be creating more work, no one will know about it unless I tell them. The jobs I’m dreaming of are out there, they just don’t know it yet.

Also, my graduation ceremony is happening this Friday! Most of my friends and family are going to be there and meet each other. This makes me giddy. After the ceremony, we’re heading straight over to the nearest movie theater to see Where The Wild Things Are. It could be more perfect.

I have some fun stories to tell and pictures to share from this weekend later. Look for another update this week.

The cover of my Mohawk sketchbook. I drew all over it.

The cover of my Mohawk sketchbook. I drew all over it. I think they're the Village People.

Finished portfolio

Posted in illustration, Life after school, portfolio with tags , , , , , , on September 24, 2009 by Dante DeStefano

A while ago, I was very hyped up about how Theo Rudnak was helping me build my finished portfolio box. It’s been over a month since I signed off, now, and I have photos to share with you of this beautiful box, thanks to Peter Hobbs. I’m very happy with the box and it was a joy to work with Theo and make it happen. Click the photos to enlarge them.

So much has happened in the past month. One thing I’m looking forward to is attending the annual national AIGA conference in Memphis next month. I’m very excited. I just became an AIGA member last week and now I’m already going to the con. I’ve never done something like this before.

Knitting nerd

Posted in new project with tags , , , , on August 14, 2009 by Dante DeStefano

Since last time I posted, yes, I did sign-off. My presentation went really well. I heard that I had some of my friends bawling with laughter as I showed my work. That’s good cuz most of my work is humorous and I like making people laugh.

I’ve still been fairly busy since Tuesday, but whenever I have a break, I’ve been working on knitting a star sweater like Coraline wears in the move. The unrealistic goal is to have it ready by Dragon*Con. If not, I’d like to say it will be ready for Halloween. Really, maybe by Christmas or next summer (womp, womp). The point is that I’m making it.  This is the first sweater that I’ve attempted. The pattern has already stumped me once. Luckily, Nell at Knitch knows a lot more about knitting than I do and I don’t live far from the shop. I tried to find pictures of the full size sweater, but it seems that either no one has completed it or they have and didn’t post pictures that can be easily found.  Oh well, it’ll be a nice surprise.


Giraffe Jive

Posted in illustration, Life after school, moving, portfolio with tags , , , , , on August 11, 2009 by Dante DeStefano

I’m signing-off from Portfolio Center today! This past month has been hectic. I’m finally all moved in to my new place and ready to get down to business. I picked up my portfolio box from Theo this morning and it is crazy bangin’! I love it and can’t wait to post some pictures of it.

Anyways, I have a new piece to show you. It’s one of my favorites. I painted it in gouache by hand and then made it even fancier in the computer. This one is part of a series for a fundraiser benefit ball for the zoo.

Giraffe Jive

This box is gonna be B.A.

Posted in illustration, Life after school, portfolio with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 22, 2009 by Dante DeStefano

I just met with Mr. Theo to go over my portfolio box design that I’ve been working on. Check out this site for a better idea of my inspiration it. Ever since I started thinking about building my portfolio box and how I want it to look, I’ve known that it needs to look unique and personal to me. I knew that I wanted it to look hand made and worn. Then, I started playing around with how it would look if it were made out of wood instead of covered with cloth or paper. I started browsing around in antique stores over the past couple weeks, not for any reason except to possibly find a cheap and vintage coffee table or couch, but not for anything in perticular. While looking, I saw all kinds of old boxes: cigar boxes, medicine boxes,  ornamental boxes, etc. I thought it might be interesting to turn one of them into my portfolio box, but I’d have to find the right size and one that wasn’t rotting or didn’t smelled funny.

It wasn’t until I came across the Coraline box on that Knitty sight (I was probably looking for a knitting pattern) that it clicked. That box wasn’t a found object, it was handcrafted and faux-finished to look like that. I was really impressed to find out that the tools inside of it weren’t even made of metal, but handmade out of another material, just like what Theo had been working with us on in this classes at PC. Amazing! Once I put those two ideas together, I knew that Theo and I could create a antique-looking, worn “old” box to hold my prints and make it as unique and special as I believe my work to be.

We’re building it out of real mahogany wood (naturally beautiful stuff) and I’m going to search through fabric stores to find a cool cloth to line the inside. I’m even going a design custom latch. Not only is this all possible, but it’s something that I’ll be proud to present and won’t be another portfolio clone.

If any other PC illustrators are reading this, take your personality into consideration when creating your final professional presentation. We’re illustrators and artists. That means that we develope our own visual language and style in our work and it should translate harmoniously to your presentations. Our creativity and personality is so obvious in our images that it wouldn’t feel right if they were presented in a familiar and conventional way.

I can’t wait to show you when it’s finished. I’ll post pictures. I might even post pictures of the building process if possible.