Thursday 31 January 2013

The Badge

I'm enjoying the hospitality of @LabSpaces and ready for a full day at ScienceOnline.

Here's what the awesome badge looks like.

Friday 4 January 2013

A Big Bee

When my son was just over a year old, we'd argue about the flying trilobite tattoo on my arm.

"Can you say, 'tri-lo-bite'?"

"Bee," pointing at my arm.

"It looks like a bee, yes. But it's a trilobite."

"Try clapping out the syllables for him," Michelle, the educator, suggested.

"Okay, Calvin,"(clapping each syllable)"Tri-lo-bite," I enunciated.

Random clapping. "Bee."

Again, clapping each syllable. "Tri-lo-bite". 

An exasperated look for his father, the toddler touched my winged trilobite tattoo, looked me in the eye and said:

"A big bee."

Now he's two, and can say it just fine. After saying it clearly for the first time, holding the fossil above (minus the wings: I found the wings in the years once years ago and snapped the pic - birds had eaten the rest of the poor monarch).

After saying "Trilobite", he laughed, refused to give back the fossil, and a chase scene ensued. 

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

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

Thursday 3 January 2013

Ceratosaurus Science Ink

Another dinosaur tattoo design!

In March of 2012, I posted a bit about the process behind paleontology author and blogger Brian Switek's 
Allosaurus tattoo design, which he commissioned from me and had inked at the Heart of Gold Tattoo studio.

Brian Switek is the author of Written in Stone and My Beloved Brontosaurus and the former blogger at Laelaps on Wired, and Dinosaur Tracking on the Smithsonian site.

Recently, he's taken his Laelaps blog to National Geographic's new "science salon" blog network, Phenomena. 

You can read more about how I personalized it with hidden Easter Eggs in the design to make it specifically for Brian in the original post.

Brian liked it enough, he needed another carnivore.


Sketching the horned beastie in my Moleskine. Ceratosaurus was much like Allosaurus but with a wicked horn, and devilish ridges over its eyes. 

My work in progress, inking using ArtRage Studio Pro. The inks in ArtRage are pretty phenomenal. In this case, I mostly stuck with the technical pen. 
Illustrators out there can see why I enjoy Artrage so much. It's like working on a desktop in realspace. Reference photos pinned, all my tools on the quarter-wheel to the left, all my paints in the palette on the right. 

My first proposed final design. 

You can see one of the differences I made from the Allosaurus in the top image in this post:  The allosaurus had hollow, outlined vertebrae and ribs, with solid black limbs and skull and the Ceratosaurus has the reverse. The dinosaurs are similar enough (and I was proud of my skull linework on the Cerato) that I thought this might be interesting.

Brian made the call, and it was the right one to have both matching: outlined vertebrae and ribs, solid limbs and skull. The two predators are, after all, side-by-side on his arm and so the similarity strengthens the design. 

From left: Allosaurus, revised Ceratosaurus, initial Ceratosaurus. Click to enlarge.
Yeah. The middle one matches the Allosaurus much better, and the skulls have more impact in solid black

Brian visited Jon at Heart of Gold tattoo in Utah again, and here's the final result!  

Brian's arm photo by Tracey Switek.

It was amazing working with Brian Switek again and boy oh boy - I want a dino skeleton tattoo now myself.

You can read more about how the two skeletons I largely worked from for the Allosaurus and Ceratosaurus are related over on Brian's post on the new Laelaps!

If you'd like to see more of my science ink designs, check them out at my portfolio at under the science tattoo header

Thanks Brian!

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

Print Shop

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

Wednesday 2 January 2013

Creative Depression And How I Got Rid of It

When I die one day, my biggest creative regret will likely be all the artwork I didn't have a chance to finish. Headlines marketed at artists and illustrators like "How to Increase Your Creativity" and "Get Your Creative Juices Flowing" never make sense to me.

Ideas aren't the problem. Time to execute them to my satisfaction is. 

Not every idea makes it past the sketch phase. 

So it may seem strange when I say that looking back, I was in a creative depression for much of last year. I was almost locked-up, I could barely act. Everything seemed too difficult: opening the research files, choosing digital or paper sketching, creating process templates, setting up the easel, dealing with my dismantled studio - it was all too much.

I think I know why, now.

I quit my full-time, 10-year, well-paying job managing an art store the day after I found out my wife was pregnant back in 2010. One friend put it, that he, "nods approvingly at the madness of it".  The final few months of my wife's pregnancy had me working from home, getting a steady stream of small revenue but exciting science-art projects. When Calvin was born, it was great, all three of us together. 

I completed this commission, Tylosaurus Reef around the time of my son being born. 

It was the best time of my life (being a dad, being freelance, blogging for freakin' Scientific American is a dream come true) but barely being able to keep up financially was hurting us. Michelle and I have weathered tough times before - we've been married for 9 years - but it was just us. The weight of responsibility for my son to have what he needs was all-encompassing. The cafe job felt professionally like dues I've already paid as a younger man, but ya do what ya gotta do. 

When Michelle went back to teaching, this was the state of things. I worked those 4 part-time jobs while being a full-time stay-at-home dad. Being a freelancing dad was a process I never finished learning how to do.

I painted this small oil on my first day of full-time freelancing. "Freelance Leap". I never did figure out how to fly all the way to those freelancing fairgrounds in the distance. 

The depression really set in for me last fall after my son started daycare. It was the right time for him to go: he loved it almost immediately, running around, learning like an exuberant, friendly and hyper little sponge. 

The new expense of daycare and the empty house/studio brought it all home for me: 

  • With the publishing market being where it is, 
  • With scientific funding being so small, 
  • With science-art as a field barely crawling on the periphery of cultural awareness, 
  • With my history growing up with one parent struggling to keep my sisters and I going,
  • With my experience going from job-to-job in a steady stream since I was 14 years old, 
  • With my amazing wife and amazing son being here in my life, 

I realized something.

I am not cut out for full-time freelancing.

I sent out resumes to a very small number of studios around Toronto that do work I respect and might be good for my 
fine art/science/social media/management background, and you know what? One of 'em hired me, and it's fantastic. 

My energy is back, I'm excited to go to work (the team there is brilliant, welcoming and fun), and I'm excited to get up at 5 a.m. to blog or sketch again. And we have groceries. 

The fallout is, there are a few people who have commissioned me I owe apologies to for being later than I ever expected. Three of those projects are still in the works and I hope I make them kick-ass and worth the patience that's been given to me.

I lifted the creative depression by starting to become part of a team doing work I believe in, and by bringing my share into the household. Never underestimate the impact that 

  • supportive people
  • new influences and 
  • livable income 

can have on your creativity. 

Okay, so it's not all perfect. For example: my face. 

Art is no longer a grind, and in 2013, I think it will be an adventure again. 

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

Print Shop

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

Tuesday 1 January 2013

Latest Fashion From Paris

Coloured this pencil sketch using the Sketch Club app on my iPhone. The original is owned by Morgan Jackson of Biodiversity in Focus.

We're having a light family day at home after staying up late with good friends to ring in the New Year.

I'm going to try posting quick sketches more often. 2012 was my lightest year of blogging here on The Flying Trilobite, though not of blogging in general considering my posts on Symbiartic.

Last year was fantastic and I did some of the most important illustration artwork I've ever had the opportunities for to date.

Can't wait to see what 2013 brings.
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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