“The world needs its ditch diggers.”
This is a line from the movie Caddyshack.* High school kid Danny is trying to get money for college and he’s telling Judge Smails his financial woes, hoping that the judge will help. Danny tells him that that he dreams of being a lawyer but if he can’t pay for college he doesn’t have a chance of having a good future. Judge Smails’ reply?
Yup. The world needs its ditch diggers.
This line has always stuck with me. Becoming my mantra. At first, it meant that no matter how hard you try it doesn’t matter. It’s very likely that you will not succeed at your goal. That thing your parents told you? How you can achieve anything if you try? Yeah. That’s not true. Never was.
As I’ve gotten older my perspective on this trivial line of dialogue has changed. Or I have changed, and shaped it to fit my life. Now I see it differently. Ditch diggers get the dirty work done, doing the necessary yet not glamorous jobs. For artists, this can be the designer who creates street signs or junk mail pamphlets. The graphics for cereal boxes and the packaging for shoe laces. Not glamorous, but necessary.
Eviltender.com is about working artists, or really, working people. I’ve enlisted various artists to create logos in their own style that would depict this idea. I turned to my many talented friends and now I have my very first logo.
This comes from illustrator extraordinaire Jerrod Maruyama. His work is full of joy and whimsy. Playful. He took my ditch digger and gave him a paint brush rather than a shovel. Jerrod’s style is very optimistic. If he can take a URL with the word EVIL in it and a tag line about the grit and maw of hard work and turn out something adorable he can do anything. I had always wanted to work with Jerrod on a project and I’m happy to have him be the first illustrator in this series.
My main goal with this logo was to make as much stuff as possible to give away at this year’s Comic-Con so I took his image and plastered it on a bunch of buttons and stickers.
I got bags of stickers printed up by the fine folks at Printing Blue.
Then I made a bunch of buttons of various sizes from the Busy Beaver Button Company.
Finally I got a few shirts made at Custom Ink.
Now I’m armed and ready to head to Comic-Con down in San Diego. I’ll be there July 13th – 15th handing out all of my wonderful free schwag. If you want a button or a sticker come find me. I’ll be around. Right now I only have a few t-shirts, but I’ll be getting more but they won’t arrive in time for Comic-Con. I’ll be posting a give away when they do arrive.
Since I had Jerrod’s attention I got him to answer a few questions about his work and career as an illustrator.
ET: When I first met you, you were an art director for a software company. You’ve gone freelance since then. Was that an easy transition?
JM: It seemed more a logical transition. The company I was working at closed and I needed to find something else. I knew it would be tough to immediately find another Art Direction gig so freelance seemed the easiest thing to transition to while looking for more steady work. Since then, I’ve worked on and off as an art director but usually as a contractor. And even while working as an art director, I kept up with freelance work. Now it seems art direction is just another contract. I haven’t been back at work in an office or as an employee for some time now.
I think your work is what first introduced me to the kawaii style. I had probably seen it before, but never knew it had a name. Your work was always on the cute and adorable side, when did you decide to work exclusively in this style?
Well, I wouldn’t say I work exclusively in the kawaii style. Most of the actual work I do can’t be shown in my portfolio. A lot of the work is conceptual and at the early stages of development. I can’t show the concepts to the general public. But much of my professional work isn’t so stylized. It’s still very kid-friendly.
The kawaii style is what I enjoy doing the most. What you see in my portfolio and flickr pages is the work I’ve done in my free time for the most part. It’s a style I feel most comfortable working in and one that I thoroughly enjoy.
Is it more viable for an illustrator to work in one style or do you think a working illustrator needs to have a variety of styles?
I think it depends on the illustrator. If you are comfortable working in many styles then it’s only going to benefit you. You will have that many more opportunities. But I think it’s rare to find that artist that is amazing in multiple styles. I think most people tend to be passionate about one style – even if they can do others. And in my opinion, I would want an artist to work in the style they are most passionate in. But I still get clients who see my work, like it and then ask for something completely different.
I think as a freelancer, it’s important to know your limitations as well as your strengths. I find it can be torture when working in a style I am not passionate about. That’s when it becomes work. But sometimes, you just have to work.
You’re pretty active on Twitter and now you’re involved with The Pixar Times. For a while it seemed like the only place to see your work was via Flickr, but now you have an awesome site and online store. You’re incredibly visible on the internet. Do you think a working illustrator can get by without using social media these days? Do any traditional outlets for finding work still exist?
I’m sure you probably CAN get by without using social media. I just don’t know why you would avoid it. I think it can be an incredible tool. You can get your work in front of some amazing and talented people. You can get advice and hear stories from the big names in the industry and all in this very casual setting. Where as before, you would have to schedule portfolio reviews, submit slides of your work, mail postcards and just pray that your images landed in front of the right people at the right time.
There are just so many more options to show your work. I don’t know if there’s a right or wrong way to do it. It probably depends on the artist and the specific work they’re looking for. But why wouldn’t you take advantage of every method available of showing your work?
A while back you had one of your kawaii Pixar designs put on a t-shirt and sold at the Pixar campus. How did that whole thing come about?
I posted the picture of Woody and Buzz to Flickr. Someone on Twitter posted a link to the image and sent it to (Toy Story 3 Director) Lee Unkrich. Lee contacted me via email and asked if they could use the image on a t-shirt. It was that simple. I have received more followers, fans and job inquiries because of that image and what Lee did. I am forever grateful for him taking the time to make that happen. It was simply incredible.
As I mentioned in my previous response to your question about social media, platforms like Twitter and Facebook open you up to a whole world of professionals. It puts your work in front of so many people and requires very little effort on the part of the artist. But it can lead to some amazing things.
You’ve been a Disney super fan for a long time. Is there a job at Disney that you dream of having?
That’s a good question. As much as I love Disney animation, I am definitely not an animator. I really like working with the classic characters and developing different styles to show them in. So many Disney characters are iconic in their design. I think that’s a very powerful thing. It’s fun to play with that, push the style and see how far it can “stretch” while still maintaining the integrity of the character. Anything that would allow me to play with existing Disney characters in different styles would be a dream. That’s what was so fun about the WonderGround gallery pieces.
errod Maruyama can be found on Flickr, his website, and of course on Twitter. Oh, and in case you’re wondering you can get happy underpants on a t-shirt and a ton of other Maruyama goodies at Jerrod’s Casa Kawaii online store.
*This isn’t the exact line verbatim, but it’s what my brain has always remembered it as.