Monday, 26 March 2018

FEDEX...

It’s not often (if at all) that I post non- work-related stuff on here but I have to vent. Since October FedEx have been taking money from my account because of an ‘internal error’. The initial incident was an invoice (money already efficiently removed from my account through auto-pay) for £336 for import charges. A company in Birmingham that does things with concrete for some reason had my account billed for their import charges. After I chased FedEx up about it with repeated phone calls I was reimbursed after about 3 weeks, being assured it wouldn’t happen again.
It did, £64 this time, same company in Birmingham. One of the helpful, and equipped to do their job properly, staff on the customer support line got shirty with me and asked why I was questioning the invoice as I’d imported goods and had to therefore pay. His synapses eventually fired and he realised he was talking utter pap. We worked our way through it. Again, a few weeks later the money was returned and a note had been put on the concrete company’s account to stop me being billed.
On the 13th March I received another invoice, this time for £228. I went through the same process and was assured on the 21st that the problem had finally been resolved, I’d get the money back and all would be fine. This was the first time I’d spoken to someone who seemed to be able to do something. I was also able to forward an email to them (another invoice arrived that day) so they could add the new invoice (only £8 this time!) to the ongoing situation. I was pleasantly surprised by the interaction.
It was a relief to know it was all over, the £236 I was owed was on it’s way back to me, and I could now send some art to a client in the US using Fed-Ex.
I awoke two days later to an email to say that my account had been disassociated with the concrete firm’s and all was well. Excellent. And another invoice. The thing about the ‘you’ve successfully paid using FedEx autopay’ invoices is that they don’t tell you how much money they’ve fleeced from your account. Still, I figured it was all sorted, the email from FedEx had assured me that all would be well, no need to worry about the invoice. It’d be an error, surely.
I decided to call Fedex that afternoon as the invoice had weighed on my mind. Still, I figured it was probably, at worst, going to be £50 or something. I'd get it back, eventually.
The invoice was for £816…and the accounts dept were closed until Monday. The person I spoke to was embarrassed and dumbfounded at her company’s ineptitude. It was marked as a level 4 priority (they understood that my account had been drained and I now would struggle to exist until the money was returned) and I’d get a call on Monday morning. Again, I believed FedEx.
I called FedEx this morning and was assured I’d receive a call before midday. Obviously, I didn’t. In fact, FedEx have never once called me throughout the entire ridiculous and now financially crippling affair. I've wasted a fair amount of time waiting for them to answer the phone, being put through to different departments and left waiting again as people spoke with their supervisors. FedEx really put themselves out to help their customers.
So, I called them again this afternoon, eager to know how quickly I’d have my money back in my account, why no-one’s called me (I did receive an email reply this afternoon to an email I sent Friday telling me FedEx are at fault and I’ll be reimbursed, nice, but I knew that, folks). Apparently, I’ll have the money back within 5 to 7 working days. I explained to the man that I have no money left to do things like pay bills and exist. He was sorry but that’s just how long it takes. Well fantastic, stellar, in fact. FedEx, through no fault of mine, have taken over £1000 from my account and will do nothing to rectify their mistake with any semblance of alacrity. Fair play to them. After all, they spend a lot of time taking great care in assuring that people's packages arrive intact, on time and to the right address (I know, a generic dig, but I'm not in the best of moods). The £228 from March 13th has yet to be returned so I expect the other £824 to returned sometime in May, possibly.
I was assured that it takes 5-7 working days to perform a bank transfer. Except it doesn't, does it…FedEx use the same bank as I do, bank transfers are pretty quick. Surely someone with a functioning mind and a semblance of compassion or conscience could just put my money back in my account? After all, it takes them only moments to remove money from my account for no reason at all.
Occasionally I've been accused of being a tad trigger happy to boycott shops, companies, towns etc (Pound Bakery for not having a sign up to state that they don’t accept card payments. I queued, with kids, for ages only to be told the hard truth. Put some cardboard up in the window, it isn't difficult.), I also keep it to myself, not wanting to kick anything off online, but in this case, FedEx unquestioningly deserve it.
Over the years FedEx have almost bent an oil painting in half, leaving a permanent crease through the middle (JSA #58 cover), bent another in multiple places causing multiple fractures across the entire art (Hawkman #16 cover) and lost another completely (JSA Strange Adventures #3). I accepted that. Wasn't happy about it, but I accepted it. Now they've taken me down financially and just don't care. So I'll boycott them. And anyone associated with them, sponsored by them, or deep down thinks they're a fine company.
Will my boycott make a difference? Not really, but then it seems there’s absolutely nothing else I can do about it except rant ineffectually and take it.
Here are some sketchcovers to look at, a small apology for having to sit through the above!







Monday, 5 March 2018

NICE 2018 1st/2nd Sept 2018

I'll be at the con all weekend sketching and signing. I'll probably be sketching on the Saturday night after the con too. 
As always, I'll be sketching for free at the convention. These won't be as finished as the commissions I do but they look pretty good.
I'll have a folder of pieces to sell, sketchcovers, watercolours, the usual stuff, and I'll be taking pre-convention commissions as usual. 

For those interested in a commission for the con, here are the details!


SKETCH COVERS

These are £50 for a b/w Copic sketch like the examples below. For a wrap that'd be £100. Colour (Copics and ink with watercolour wash) will be £60, £120 for a wrap. For anything like multiple figures, detailed background etc then it'll be on a per job basis.

Also, I must point out, that the quality of blank variant titles varies greatly depending on the publisher. For example, DC generally have the best surface to draw on, it's a decent surface. Except Adventures of Supergirl which has a surface like 1970's school toilet paper and has my vote as the worst blank variant ever made. 
Marvel tend to be hit and miss, some are fine, some are ink, Copic, paint and even pencil repellent. 
Dynamite...every tool I use skates across the almost plastic surface and coagulates in a pool of frustration. So, not all art options that I do will be available for every blank variant. We can always talk about it beforehand.

Cover recreations on blanks start at £70. They're pretty tricky to do although they do look nice!


I also do non-likeness sketchcovers like the examples below. These are the same price as the likeness ones.




Gal Gadot £50




Adam West, £50



Reeve £50


Chadwick Boseman £50


Julie Newmar £50


Cain and Hatcher £60


Eartha Kitt £50


West and Ward £65




Emma Stone £50




Stephen Amell £50 





Harrison Ford £50




Burt Ward £50




Harley £50



Obi-Wan Kenobi £50



William Shatner £50



Benedict Cumberbatch £50


Hulk Ragnarok £60



Carrie Fisher £60



Burt Ward, Yvonne Craig, Adam west wrap, £125



Bounty Hunters wrap £135



Swamp Thing and Abby £65


Stan Lee and Marvel characters £150 




 Swamp Thing and Ivy wrap £120



 Cover recreation sketchcover £70



 WATERCOLOURS 



This is a new line for me. Last April I was asked to paint a series of covers using watercolour. I enjoyed it and the results surprised me (in that they looked quite good). So I now offer watercolour sketches as a commission option. These aren't to be confused with the Copic pieces with a colour wash, these are true watercolours, no ink or marker involved. 



Prices are £200 for something like the pieces below. They're A3 in size. 



Prices for A4 watercolours like the pieces below are £60.



For more detailed pieces, for example with a full background or more figures, prices will be on a per job basis.



Spidey v the Goblin A3


Spidey v Goblin A3


Hawkman #11 recreation A3



                                                      Daredevil #8 recreation A3


Spidey v Goblin A3




Poison Ivy A3


Poison Ivy A4



Wolverine A4



A4 Phoenix 

Also, I now do purely watercolour sketchcovers like the pieces shown below. No Copics etc, just paint!


Hawkman £60



Hemsworth Thor £60



Poison Ivy £60



Batman v Joker £60


Peter Parker/Spidey £60

CONVENTION STYLE SKETCHES

Prices are £50 for an A4 sized one and £100 for an A3 sized one (or about 17" by 11" if you're from the USA). 
 Colour (Copics with a watercolour wash) will be £60 for an A4 and £120 for an A3





Again, it's a similar situation regarding detailed backgrounds and multiple figures. They'll be priced on a per job basis. 






A3 Julie Newmar




A4 Chris Hemsworth





If you want something doing for the con that's not listed here, like a cover recreation for example, then see here for the info!

Tuesday, 30 January 2018

Watercolour covers for MDACC

Something a little different from the usual comic based stuff this time.
I was asked to paint some covers for the MD Anderson Children's Cancer Hospital early last year. These are the finished watercolours for the covers.
It was the first time I'd used watercolour (and some gouache, mainly for the whites) since, well, ever, really. I'd used gouache to do a couple of pieces for my GCSE art coursework and I did a sci-fi style piece for an advert for a car salesroom back when I was at Uni in the early 90's...Since then I'd used what few watercolour paints I had for washes over Copic marker sketches. So, it was a new thing, something outside my comfort zone.
I really enjoyed the speed and immediacy of the process. There's a lot more freedom in using watercolours than in oils, at least in the way I use oils. I found that the paint took care of itself, creating incidental shapes, colours and marks that I had no intention of making. It was like sketching but with paint. Basically I enjoyed it and after I finished the job I continued using them. Currently I'm experimenting with paper types and brushes. I probably need to use thicker paper as I'm somewhat inept at stretching it and it still warps anyway...so it's an ongoing process.

Here's the cover art (along with one cover with all the text on it!).

Cover to issue one. I used my second eldest daughter, who was 10 at the time, as the model. This was about the 4th attempt (and the bear was added in digitally) on this cover. I used four basic colours on this one along with a hand mixed flesh colour. In fact, I very rarely use colours straight out of the tube (or pan). I guess that's a holdover from my oil painting where I mix every colour I use.

Above is the preview, or mock-up, of the first cover. Each issue concentrates on a different stage of  the journey. This one is diagnosis.



This was my second attempt at the cover when the colour scheme was different. I was using pencil crayons at the time also. I wasn't there yet. I stopped using the crayons after this piece.


Cover for issue 2. Again, similar colour palette to issue one, a stark, limited range of colours. This issue is about Treatment.





Issue 3. I introduced more colour for this cover. I added the headscarf in digitally on this cover. It was needed to depict this stage of the journey correctly, Remission. The unedited painting is below.


I like this piece. But the headscarf was needed for this point of the journey through the stages of cancer. 
Relapse. This was the most difficult cover to visualise and went through many different ideas at the sketch stage. A return to the limited palette for this cover after the more upbeat and colourful remission cover. 


This was an earlier idea for the cover that didn't quite come off!

Survivorship. A pretty much full colour piece (yet it still has an undertone of the original green that I used on the first cover). I wanted this to look like an illustration from a classic kids story book, Famous Five, something along those lines, depicting a sense of adventure and a summer day.

So, that's the series of covers I painted in watercolour that kicked off my current interest in the medium.