Monday 31 October 2011

Monday 24 October 2011

My Grandmother's Favourite Drawing - re-post

(With over 600 posts and almost 5 years of blogging, some days I'll dig through the archives and re-post an older Flying Trilobite post. This one originally appeared in November 2008.)
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This drawing was always my grandmother's favourite piece of my artwork. I drew this back in the early days of university after I had largely stopped drawing vampires and faeries, and as my interest in science had started coming back to the fore. I called it "Beetleman", though I'm not really sure why.

My grandmother loved this one, and I gave her a reproduction of it. I miss my grandparents, and I'll always appreciate how they encouraged me in my artwork. My grandmother would challenge me about what I was trying to do, and pester me with questions, until she'd laugh at my answer once it was clear. My grandfather would not have much commentary about the subjects, instead asking about the media used, and supplying us with astonishing amounts of paper when my sisters and I were small.

Good times.

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Original artwork on The Flying Trilobite Copyright to Glendon Mellow
under Creative Commons Licence.

Print Shop 

--> Find me on Symbiartic, the art+science blog on the new Scientific American Blog Network!

Saturday 22 October 2011

Science-Art Geek iPhone 4 cases!

Available now, in my print shop at RedBubble.

Here's some specs from RedBubble themselves:

Uncommon spent months in the desert inventing a revolutionary and top secret printing process called TATT™, which embeds the design into the case—so no fading or peeling, ever. It all sounds a bit space age really, which we quite like.
Our cases were made specifically for the iPhone 4S & 4, ensuring that all of your bits, pieces and functions line up where they should. Plus, Uncommon cases are chosen by Apple for sale in Apple Stores. Seal of approval right there.

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In addition to selling these designs on an ongoing basis, I'm also looking for someone to finance a few as prizes for ScienceOnline12 ! Please email me at theflyingtrilobite at gmail dot com if interested. 
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Original artwork on The Flying Trilobite Copyright to Glendon Mellow
under Creative Commons Licence.

Print Shop 
I hope everyone enjoys my cheesy mirror effect above.

--> Find me on Symbiartic, the art+science blog on the new Scientific American Blog Network!

Thursday 20 October 2011

Let's have a frank talk about illustration royalties.

This is a conversation I think illustrators should have. My blog allows anonymous comments since I think that will let more of us have it. 

My experiences are still few and new in the field of illustration. I come from a science-inspired, fine art background, and since taking my artwork online almost 5 years ago, my fine art projects are usually asked into service illustrating science blogs, books and magazines (and occasionally skin with tattoo design).

The book work up until now has mainly been covers. However, after watching a couple of potential book contracts fall apart, one for a mid-size reputable publisher I will not name, I've been curious about one aspect of the illustration biz: royalties.

The experience I mention called for me to submit my originals, hand over all copyright and get paid a flat fee worth less than equivalent stock art images for my creations. No hope of royalties or re-negotiation if the book was a hit and re-printed.

At the time I was using the Graphic Artists Guild Handbook: Pricing & Ethical Guidelines, 12th Edition (13th is out now).   Leaving out the details of the publisher's requirements, according to the Guide I should have been charging about $550 per drawing, and I was offering $300.  The publisher wanted to offer $150.

I know there are a lot of specific circumstances to any contract: we parted amicably I hope (they produce a lot of books I enjoy).  I thought it was just this case, for whatever reason.  After speaking to new illustration acquaintances on G+ over the last several weeks, from many different realms of illustration, I'm hearing that "no royalties" and prices below the GAG Guide are common.

What I wanted to discuss, is without details (I am not out to vilify any publishers here, that's not the point so no need to identify them) are illustrators:

  • getting royalties as part of a contract?
  • finding the GAG Guide prices accurate reflections of reality?
  • being offered more than work-for-hire?

Part of the 'long-tail' of illustration is licensing your own images after the copyright either reverts to you, or by retaining it. The other is royalties.

Let me know approximately how long you've been at the illustration biz, and whether you've found royalties common or uncommon. Again, I allow for anonymous comments and I'd prefer not to discuss specific publishers, just get more of a sense of what's happening out there.

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Original artwork on The Flying Trilobite Copyright to Glendon Mellow
under Creative Commons Licence.

Print Shop 

--> Find me on Symbiartic, the art+science blog on the new Scientific American Blog Network!

Wednesday 19 October 2011

What would make good iPhone case art?

RedBubble, the extraordinary company that makes my art prints, cards, calendars, clothing and stickers for my online store has now started making iPhone 4 cases.

So I thought I would ask: what images from or my dA Gallery would make good iPhone cases in your opinion?  What do you think people would like to be seen carrying?  This info will help me ramp up for the holiday push to sell some wares in my online store.

Darwin Took Steps? A pink parasaurolophus? Trilobite Boy? Please comment below if you have an opinion on this!

Also: if anyone is interested in financing a giveaway of a number of cases or other Flying Trilobite swag at ScienceOnline12 in January, let's talk!

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Original artwork on The Flying Trilobite Copyright to Glendon Mellow under Creative Commons Licence.

Tuesday 18 October 2011

Eight Years

Eight years ago this evening, I married Michelle.

I drew this for our invitation, based on John Atkinson Grimshaw's Iris, my favourite painting, which we saw on our second date.

Victoria College, University of Toronto.

She is my favourite person. 

Times have sometimes been challenging but mostly they've been amazing.
We're never at a loss for conversation and I can't take my eyes off of her. 

We still have the best of times...

Even more now that little Mr. Amazing has rolled into our lives.

I love our family. Happy Anniversary. 

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Original artwork on The Flying Trilobite Copyright to Glendon Mellow under Creative Commons Licence.

Sunday 16 October 2011

Illustration blogging: why it's essential - a SONSI discussion

This post is mainly a supplementary series of links and points accompanying our discussion, "Illustration blogging: why it's essential" at SONSI's 2011 Presentation Day

Tuesday 11 October 2011

Reminder: SONSI Science-Art Talks in Toronto this weekend!

I'll be one of the presenters at this weekend's Southern Ontario Nature and Science Illustrator's series of professional talks.  These should be a great help to illustrators of all stripes, and I'm psyched about the day.
Here's a link to the official blurb, and I've re-posted it below.

Invitation to all illustrators in Southern Ontario:

SONSI's 2011 Presentation Day
October 16, 2011 
12:00 PM to 5:00 PM
Toronto's Harbourfront Community Centre
Assembly Room A
627 Queen’s Quay West, Toronto

Please join us for an afternoon of illustration-related presentations by members of the Southern Ontario Nature and Science Illustrators and a representative of Access Copyright. Light refreshments (coffee, cookies) will be provided.
For non-members, a $15 donation to SONSI is requested (or $10 for full-time students). This will help us cover the cost of facility rental and refreshments.

Space is limited so please register to attend by sending an e-mail to:

Arrive at noon, presentations begin promptly at 12:20.
12:20 pm to 1:30 pm "A Quick Look at Adobe Photoshop"
1:35 pm to 2:15 pm "What Access Copyright can do for Illustrators"
2:15-2:30 break
2:30 pm to 4 pm "Illustration Blogging; why it's essential"
4:10 pm to 4:50 pm "The Content of Contracts"

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"A Quick Look at Adobe Photoshop" by SONSI member Jeremy Loranger

Adobe Photoshop is one of the most powerful programs in an illustrator’s arsenal today. However useful it may be, Photoshop can also be quite a daunting program for newcomers. This presentation will serve as a brief introduction to the program as well as provide some very useful tips and tricks that are commonly overlooked in many tutorials. Proper file formatting for print and web, as well as web security for your work will also be discussed. Bring your questions!  

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"What Access Copyright can do for Illustrators" by Margaret McGuffin of Access Copyright
Every day across the country individuals in schools, businesses and government copy excerpts from published works to obtain the valuable content they need to get their jobs done. But are you - the owners of that content - being compensated? If one of your copyrighted illustrations is published in a book, newspaper, magazine, or journal, then you need to find about becoming an Access Copyright Affiliate. Don't miss out on Payback! Also, Margaret will explain what grants The Access Copyright Foundation offers to creators of copyrighted material, including Research and Professional Development Grants. 

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"Illustration Blogging: why it's essential" by SONSI member Glendon Mellow
How to dive into the online world of blogging and social media to find work, fulfilment and community. Worried about image theft and your copyright? Don't understand Twitter or G+? Want to see how easy it is to set up a blog?  Blogging your artwork can be essential in today's market - people expect to be able to provide feedback in numerous ways to images they find on the internet. We'll discuss the basics to the latest in social media for illustrators and how to be effectively busy online without losing control of your images and brand.

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"The Content of Contracts" by SONSI member Emily S. Damstra
Wondering if it's really worthwhile to have your clients sign an agreement? Worried that your contract is missing something? Frustrated that the contract your client provided isn't quite what you had in mind? Hear from someone who has signed a lot of contracts in her career; learn from her mistakes as well as her successes.

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The Southern Ontario Nature and Science Illustrators is a regional organization of illustrators whose works focus on science and nature.
Our goals are to:
  • Further our own professional development by learning from each other
  • Encourage each other toward higher standards of competence and ethics
  • Network and socialize with others having similar interests and work experiences
  • Support the intellectual property rights of visual artists
  • Promote our discipline to the general public and to potential clients
  • Educate the public about science and nature through our work
We meet every month or two throughout the year, primarily in locations between Kitchener and Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Anyone with a genuine interest in nature and science illustration is welcome to join.
For more information about SONSI please visit our website:
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Bios of presenters:

Jeremy Loranger has a Bachelor of Applied Arts in Technical and Scientific Illustration from Sheridan College and has been working freelance for 2 years. His work covers a broad spectrum including fine art, biomedical textbook illustration, exploded isometric assembly diagrams, video game production art, and 3D modelling.

Margaret McGuffin is Director of Licensing and Distribution Services at Access Copyright. Prior to joining Access Copyright, Margaret worked as a consultant providing business planning and research services to organizations including the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame, Canadian Heritage and The Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences. Margaret has been involved in the formation and development of a large number of music industry collective management organizations including the Canadian Private Copyright Collective and the Neighbouring Rights Collective of Canada. Margaret currently sits on the Advisory Committee of MusiCounts which is a not-for-profit providing grants to schools across Canada for the purchase of musical instruments. She also spends a large amount of her free time in hockey arenas with her two children as a team manager and trainer. For more information about Access Copyright visit their website:

Glendon Mellow is a fine artist + illustrator whose projects have ranged from fine art commissions to tattoo design to museum display; appearing in magazines such as Earth and Secular Nation, in books such as Geology in Art and The Open Laboratory and sites such as io9.comHe has spoken at the Centre for Inquiry Ontario and at ScienceOnline.  Glendon is a co-blogger on the new Scientific American science-art blog Symbiartic and shares his art process at his blog The Flying Trilobite, and tweets at  @flyingtrilobite. His portfolio can be found at

Emily S. Damstra has a Master of Fine Arts degree from the University of Michigan and has been a full-time freelance illustrator for eleven years. Her clients have included the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, The City of Kitchener, The University of Michigan Press, Natural History Magazine, The Royal Canadian Mint, The Calgary Zoo, and many more. Visit her website:

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Original artwork on The Flying Trilobite Copyright to Glendon Mellow
under Creative Commons Licence.

Print Shop 

--> Find me on Symbiartic, the art+science blog on the new Scientific American Blog Network!

Monday 3 October 2011

The best terrible painting (and decision) I've made.

It's been a year.

A year since I left my management job with a dynamic art supply retailer I'd been employed by for 10 years.

Above is a little painting I did the following Monday, my first day as a full-time freelancer.  It's kind of a poorly-painted little oil painting I call Freelance Leap, and it represents my excitement and anxiety at leaving a secure job and diving into my illustration and social media work.

I'm still glad I made the change to challenge myself in most ways. But I cannot deny, times have also been much rougher than I ever imagined. It's been the best and worst year ever.

Reading Jesse Bering's piece on Bering in Mind, Half Dead: Men and the "Mid-Life Crisis" has me wondering about which option of Jacques' will happen with my creativity in mid-life (note to self: you're 37 you're already there): will my current state of anxiety propel me to greater heights like Bach? Or will I do a major about-face in my creative style, brining me larger success than before?  (The third option, dying somehow, is off the table as far as I'm concerned.)

Good friend and amazing illustrator Eric Orchard shared this piece on G+ yesterday, by Scott Timberg from Salon: The Creative Class is a Lie. It's an engaging piece, covering everything from retail jobs to writers. And it offers a ton of interesting things to think about for illustrators.

Up until now, my business model has been:
1. Make cool artwork, mostly for a niche scientifically-literate audience
2. Put online for people to view for free.
3. Take commissions for originals or prints from people who like it enough to want their own, or have a budget.

It works. It works better than not being online ever did. It works haltingly, in fits and starts, with many months in between. It's not enough to feed my family. How does this whole creative economy do that? Or all we destined to be like rock stars, where only a tiny few ever make it despite the public''s hunger for imagery and illustration?

I outlined in my Symbiartic post, It's Time for Illustrators to Take Back the Net that illustrators supporting each other when faced with image theft online could put the profession back on a path to respectability.  Would income follow?

I miss the guy I was when I did that terrible little painting, above. I'm still optimistic I might get to that amusement park in the distance, but my feathers are bedraggled.

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Original artwork on The Flying Trilobite Copyright to Glendon Mellow
under Creative Commons Licence.

Print Shop 

--> Find me on Symbiartic, the art+science blog on the new Scientific American Blog Network!
Copyright © 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 Glendon Mellow. All rights reserved. See Creative Commons Licence above in the sidebar for details.
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