Light During the Darkest Days

The Chieu Hoi Saloon, ready to hit the shelves

Summary: A reflection on the joy of seeing a newly published cover illustration, as well as the tortuous path of my illustration career. I draw a personal and timely connection between my career, my life, and the cosmic passage of the Winter Solstice.

I went to the Anarchist book store up the road to pick up my copies of the “Chieu Hoi Saloon” today. It seems amazing to me, that a year ago (11 months technically) I was jumping for joy at a fresh new prospect of creating two book covers for PM Press. Now, here I am almost a full year later, marveling as the second of those books come to fruition on the printed page. As the New Year approaches, one can’t help but to be struck by the wonderful and timely symmetry that this book represents, if you’ll pardon the pun, it creates a nice book-end to 2010!

When the first book “Pike” came out in print, I could hardly believe how wonderful it was. While I am under no false illusions that my painting can, and has since gotten stronger over the past year, there is a certain pride that welled up then, just as it does now, to see the work in print and to know that it is heading out there into the wide world. I like getting to know, and being a part of the team of people that it takes to bring a book to life. It occurs to me that this must be one of the addictive part of illustration.

For this blog, I endeavor to keep things pretty much on point with my the upside of my illustration work, but I want to just take a moment to get down to a human level for a few moments. Cracking into illustration is hard. It’s damn hard. There are a wide array of skills required even to operate at the entry level of the business. Not the least of which is being able to create a compelling image; which is of course a highly personal affair. I mean, there’s no one else there to take the blame if the work doesn’t rise to it’s fullest potential. Friends and conspirators can encourage and make suggestions, but in the end it is up to you to solve the problem. Not only is creating the work difficult, but then there is “getting the work out there”, courting new clients, then throw your competition into the mix and you’ve got quite a precarious path to navigate. From time to time, I’ve found that my path has passed through some pretty dark hollows. In those dark moments when new work isn’t immediately apparent, and self esteem is at it’s nadir, strangely quitting just doesn’t seem like an option and one is just left to toil in the darkness, groping for the way forward.

So it has been, that the latter part of 2010 has for me been like the “dark night of the soul.” It now occurs to me this wonderful and timely symmetry of these books arriving are a kind of Cosmic Coincidence, in the most literal sense. That here we all are, with the Winter Solstice less than a week away, about to literally pass through the longest night of the year and that it should be that this is the moment when these book should arrive and bring with them the glimmer of hope. I do not mean to ascribe too much to such a simple thing, but to merely to acknowledge and be grateful for the confluence of this moment. Just as the cracking of the dawn brings the promise of the new day, these books are a reminder for me that my aspirations of a career in Illustration is in deed dawning, and that all the groping through the darkness has brought me further down the path.

Well now, to wrap up the illustration angle of this post, there are links below where you can take a gander at the process by which this image was crafted, and read some of my thoughts about it. As ever, you comments are encouraged, and thank you for reading along. Stay tuned for more upcoming posts!

Happy Solstice to all and to all a good night,


Here is the direct link to the portfolio page for this image: {Chieu Hoi Saloon}

Here are the previous blog posts about this image: {1. Merry Christmas, Now Get To Work} and {2. Chieu Hoi Saloon}

Here’s a link to PM Press’ web page for the book: {Switchblade Series}

Here’s a link to the blog post about the first printed book: {Pike}

One Response to Light During the Darkest Days

  1. Brian,
    Great post to end the year and look forward to longer days. It’s cool seeing your cover art all lined up on the PM Press page. Too bad the cover artist is not mentioned in the description, but I guess it never is. Oh well, awesome anyway!!

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