Drew Pocza | illustration
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shirt art

My best work tends to be character driven. I love creating characters to fit client needs and have often referred to my work as “Illustration with Character”. See what I did there? lol

About a year ago, I created a pretty fun a logo for a church youth group. Calvary Chapel Merrit Island in scenic Florida. Dan, my contact there has been a great supporter of pushing new custom art for his group. Not just relying on stock art. And hey, I do stock work as well, so I’m not totally dissing it. But with so much visual noise out there, it’s nice to know people care about putting out fun, relevant projects out.

Dan came back needing some art for his Vacation Bible School coming up this summer. There are LOTS of junky VBS packages churches can buy, but again, I’m thankful Dan likes to go big and be original. He needed a shirt design. Simple enough. After we talked about the elements he needed, I started sketching. As the process went on, I realized it was going to be VERY expensive to make shirts if I did them the way I would normally color. After brainstorming a bit, we decided on a new direction. Make the art for various applications. He let me go all out with color and textures, then as necessary, we scaled parts back. So far back, to one color for the shirts.

I build art in layers with black/outlines on top, colors on descending layers. I have always given the options for turning color layers off and supplying black and white coloring page art. This time I gave more options.

1. Single color for shirts.

2. Additional single color version was made to separate youth from leaders. I added a distress pattern to give the art a warn vintage look.

3. Full color version done with flat colors. Set in Illustrator so the art could be scaled to any size and still look great.

4. Full color with textures. This version adds a nice tone to the art that works great for smaller print and web.

So with all the same art, I was able to offer four variations. The client was very easy to work with and I’m happy he lets me do my thing.

The type is a font I created called Wonky. I use it often, but vary the letters so it looks different with each use. It really compliments the hand work I put into my illustrations.

So if you or your organization needs help, let me know!

Stock

Over the years I have been doing LOTS of faith-based illustrations. It started when I was asked to illustrate a book for Mars Hill Church. The series became part of their kids ministry decorations as well as coloring books. With that giant push, I was asked by other churches like New Spring Church to populate their kids ministry curriculums. Having gone to Bible College, it was pretty fun to take that knowledge and apply it to my illustrations creating fun, and hopefully accurate depictions.

My best friend was a pastor of a small church with no budget for kids ministry. I agreed to help him out with a weekly sermon illustration and a matching coloring page. That’s what best pals do. Slowly, but surely the series grew. My intention was to crate really fun art that kids and parents will enjoy. The full color version for for the large screen slide, and the black and white outline version for the kids to color during the sermon. Another pastoral pal, was using them for his weekly sermon break down as well. It was fun to how different people used the art. I eventually came up with a name for the series, Drawn By Faith.

The catalog kept growing and I just kept them on my hard drive doing nothing. I knew there are other pastors who couldn’t afford custom art to be done and I started to think about licensing/stock illustration. After a year of trying to get stock art out there, I realized it is very hard to do by myself. As much as I loved doing the Drawn By Faith series, I almost called it done. I admit, I couldn’t get the traction I was hoping for in doing stock art on my own. So I was happy when I was recently, invited to start posting my work on a large, faith-based stock art site. I finally found a home for my work. They have the robust site already built, all I needed to do was upload!

This is the largest body of work I’ve created and it is exciting to see the artistic growth from the first few renderings the most recent. The art is great for Sunday School curriculum, bulletins, Bible Flash cards and more. You can see the work here at Drawn By Faith, and if you would like to purchase any of the stock, you can visit Lightstock.com.

Communication

 

I recently had the pleasure of meeting a new client through another illustrator who is moving on in another direction. The new client is a German economics teacher who likes to publish his own books. I found it very interesting so I said I would love to help out.

The previous artist has a great style, but we have no similarities. I had my fears that the client wanted me to replicate the other work. One rule I apply to every project is to NOT imitate another artist. I’m simply not the kind of artist who can rmimic another technique with ease. It has taken me years to craft my style and so I only take on work that I can apply myself to.

The first hurdle was the language barrier. The thought process was hard for me to interpret, but I came up with a sketch based off his art order. Easy enough. The different illustration style worked out and the client was very happy with the new direction.

Once I got approval I had two visions on how this could work out. So I sent the style I wanted to push. It wasn’t what he was hoping for, but I needed to take that chance. So I went back to my signature style and redid a character for approval to do all the others. Second style for the win! I’m OK with that. Ultimately, he has to be happy with it. As much as I wanted to try the retro inky look, I think he made the best decision. Just because a client contacts me for what I do, it doesn’t always mean I am right.

One thing he really wanted was to keep the magic of the sketch. Often fun sketches get too cleaned up and it misses that “something”. He was persistent in wanting that look. So I tried hard to go line for line over the sketch. gain, good call.

Once all the outlines were done, it was off to coloring. Exploring some simplicity in colors, we opted for full color. The image was created in Adobe Illustrator and is ready for print. The brilliant thing I love about i is the flexibility in size output. He produces books in print and digital and he can engage images for his class as big as he wants!

 

Lesson learned: Communication is king. My goal is to communicate both orally and artistically to help clients get what they want. Simply put, “It is exactly what I wanted” is how I wrapped up this project for the client.

kill fee

samples

All jobs have good days and bad days. There also lots of pros and cons to working full time. freelance. As a commercial artist, I try to have a thick skin. creating “art” is something personal at times, but I am in the business of making art for advertising. My work may not be the right art for the project. That’s one thing I am very aware of.

Over the years I have been able to take notice of when I feel the potential client has something else in mind. Communication is king and I try to do my best to let them know that what they see on my website is what I do. I don’t do realistic work. I don’t do highly detailed work. My strong skills are humors illustration. There are many, many talented artists out there that can do several styles on demand. I admit, I am NOT one of them. I have taken my “No style as style” approach and applied to to editorial, packaging, animation, games. From kid friendly fun to boring office work. But it is me, and that’s what I do.

I recently worked on a large project for a publisher of kids educational material. I was excited. I have worked with them in the past and they know my skill set. I confirmed what my expectations were to make sure they are on board. Moving forward I produced lots of spot illustrations. I got frantic emails saying we don’t have time for sketches, go straight to finals! WHAT? I have never done that. The other emails form others involved saying, “STOP, we need sketches”. Needless to say, the miscommunication, and eventually lack of communication was causing havoc. I resorted to simply going with my gut and sometimes I was right, others not so much. But one thing for sure, the project was going south and FAST.

I have never been so excited to get a kill fee for a project. It’s never happened under bad terms, but we simply couldn’t agree on anything. We both didn’t work well together and the project was actually taking a physical toll on me. The stress was driving in my back like a dagger I could remove. So when we reached a end game scenario, I felt relieved. The stress left and took the dagger with it.

I’m writing this not to rip the client a new one, but to say, it’s OK for a project to not work out. It’s just another reason I make sure people know what I do. I don’t try to mimic other artists and I access when a client lets me be me! All the little stuff I pack into an illustration to give it personality shows when I am happy doing my own thing. The project will turn out great now that they found an artist who meets there vision more clearly than I could. These are a few of the samples I liked and wanted to share. The others, they get tucked away deep down in folders on a external hard drive.

Pro Bono

ExpectationsPosters_r3_800

Pro bono publicI don’t often do it. Not because I’m a jerk, but usually, the right project and timing don’t always line up. But recently an old AD and friend asked me if I would consider helping him out with a project. The company he works for was doing this pro bono for a school in Baltimore. After chatting about it for a bit, looking at my schedule I said yes.

The school seems to have a lot of rules. Assuming needed, but a lot. What was proposed was to make fun posters reminding the students of them in a less strict manner. I came up with three youth characters and Sean did all the hard work. They matched my illustration style amazingly. In total, there were four posters made using the characters. But what I really appreciate it that Sean really “got” the art. His choice of colors and type treatment were perfect. Now I hope the students agree.

As much as I hustle for that next gig, it felt good to simply help out.

Markers

Hellboy

 

I have worked digitally for so long I have almost forgotten the charm of pen, ink and markers. I was doing them only at cons but this morning something was itching inside. I have been “coming down” from a little PTSD. Last week my computer died and since I work digitally, that meant no work. I had to suffer through a project on an old mac mini and it was time consuming. But thanks to a rather generous benefactor, I was able to procure a new iMac. WOW.

But I was really stressed out like an emo artist would be. So I took a couple days “off”. Playing with the dogs, watching LOTS of tv and seeing a friends jazz band. But this morning I was trying to think of something creative to do. I still didn’t want to sit in front of the computer for the better part of the day. Then it hit me. MARKERS. I noticed them in the kitchen and thought I would play with some water colors at first, but I realized quickly that I don’t like water colors. As soon as I grabbed a marker it felt right. It’s nice to hold something that makes marks, good or bad and deal with problems like smudges with no Command -Z. Make do with what ever hits the paper.

I thought about it and decided on HellBoy. I really like the character. I am sure I have mentioned this before, but the biggest influence on my work is Vaughn Bode and his son Mark. They have a signature style, and Vaughn was THE MOST BRILLIANT marker guy to walk the Earth. Don’t bother looking him up as his stuff is rather ambiguous and simply dirty. But I grew up reading his work and couldn’t get enough of it. My friends were all into X-men while I read Cheech Wizard and Junkwaffle. I would frequent dark ally way head shops for the underground comics. ANYWAY, Vaughn impacted me as well as countless graffiti artists in the NYC art scene back in the 80’s. If you know his work, you will see it right away in my version of Hellboy.

Personal

mawwidge

I mostly do business/ corporate work, but every now and then I get the chance to work on something more personal. People enjoy the fun style of art and it works in a variety of applications, but the “Average Joe” doesn’t have the corporate funding. It can be difficult to switch gears from business to personal work, however, it’s never a problem to inquire. When I do this kind of work, I know it’s personal and that can be creatively refreshing.

Here is an example of a project I did for some friends of friends as a wedding gift. This was printed on some very nice textured paper and I love how it turned out. And I think, sometimes art is better than a blender!

 

More video

o365

I have said it before, I’ll keep saying it, I never get tired of seeing my stuff move. My work is used from logos, coloring books, games and animation but I try to use a few styles that are still very “me”. The recent trend that I am getting hired for is a rather simplistic inky look. With this style I try as much as possible to get the most out of the least lines. This was an effort in helping the motion graphics guys. There was a need for me to keep it simple and stylish. Vintage advertising from the 50-60’s is really exciting and so I try to replicate that feel but in a  modern sense.

I started this inky style to contrast the typical hard outline work I had been doing for years. I decided to make a comic strip and my main goal in style was to work in anything that wasn’t vector looking. So Pokeweed became a fun exploration in style, story boarding and writing. Slowly the process overlapped into my regular work and now I do about 90% of my work in a loose brush stroke. And now, I feel the urge to work back in the hard line style. Or no outline at  all. But that will work itself out in time.

Check out this new Office 365 video I did the art assets for. I also like the look of this one, with no outline, for Microsoft Kudos… Kudos is an internal “appreciation program” at MicroSoft.

Drewtube

DBF_Joseph_fam400

I recently made a youtube channel where I plan on making short videos on my illustration process. It was a difficult task, but I did it. I found it creatively invigorating to do. Since it’s in the Adobe family and I use the Adobe CC stuff I thought I would give Premiere a try. Originally I thought I would use iMovie, but it wasn’t what I was hoping for. So with lots of tutorial searches I finally made a movie.

The process is basically the same with most of my illustration work, but I chose to record my work during a sermon illustration for the Drawn by Faith series. It took a few hours, but I was able to trim it down to about 5 minutes. I hope you enjoy it. And please let me know if you have any comments or questions on stuff you may want to see.