In a few weeks, IX Arts (IlluxCon) will be up and running at GoggleWorks in Reading , Pennsylvania, Wednesday October 20th through Sunday October 24th. Hundreds of artists will be in attendance as well as a similar count of fans, collectors and art appreciators.

I will be returning to the lecture circuit for this years event with a new presentation on Linking Commercial Commissions to Personal Projects.

The main gist of the conversation is to tap into personally derived concepts to fuel visual solutions to commercial commissions.  This approach holds numerous benefits, from sustaining a high degree of motivational interest in the assignment, to fulfilling career milestones, developing new client bases, providing fresh and unexpected solutions for your projects, and lastly broadening your artistic aesthetics so you rarely experience professional burn-out.

I wish I had to time to write this book here on MuddyColors, but you’ll have to make do with a few slides posted below describing two of these themes. May be I will see a few of you at the convention for the others?!


Here are four various themes correlated to personal projects I have pursued over the years which have brought about very fruitful commercial commissions and developments.


This portrait of Gandalf was one of my very first toned drawings offered up for sale at a convention back in 2002.  This was created as a fan, and to celebrate a new technique I was using in my life drawings. The massive positive response to it encouraged me to continue with this style for future offerings.



Through the years, those convention drawings as a fan grew to a large mass of material, much of it centered around Middle-earth and J.R.R. Tolkien’s writings.


Eventually I was approached by the publisher, Tim Underwood, to put together a collection of my drawn and painted works on Middle-earth. The drawings helped fill in the gaps of the book and made it possible. 90% of the content of that book was personal projects. What a dream come true!


That experience and body of red toned convention drawings then convinced other publishers to hire me for interior book illustrations. Here we have 32 of the drawings created for Naomi Novik’s brilliant novel, Uprooted, published by Grim Oak Press and Shawn Speakman.


My love of space travel and the shuttle program goes deep into my childhood.


This work, Prometheus, was created for a fine art exhibition in New York’s Chelsea gallery world. Unfortunately it was not hung for that show, but did make it onto the cover of Spectrum 13 and hung in a highly public space at the Queens Museum of Science for three years where tens of thousands of visitors saw it (far more than it would have at the gallery!)


Triptych for the United Nations, Space for Humanity stamp series. The Prometheus painting was mentioned by the art director of this project as the reason they hired me.


Some of the 18 UN Stamps.


Lastly, the UN stamps, now in my portfolio and known to other stamp art directors, allowed me to receive other commissions from the US Postal Service. The latest of these was executed with great honor for the 3 ounce stamp featuring one of the greatest science fiction writers, Ursula K. Le Guin.