Guest Blog by Mark Schultz!

Attention Flesk Publication aficionados: Flesk Publications regular Mark Schultz here, guesting for John, who was kind enough to yield the blog and allow me the opportunity to personally market myself.

As many of you are no doubt painfully aware, the Comic Con International—formally the San Diego Comics Convention—is bearing down hard upon us. As has been my privilege for many years, I will again be attending the Con, setting up shop at the Gianni, Keegan and Schultz booth (#4902), providing interested parties with original Schultz art for sale. I’ll be selling recent Schultz-related publications, as well, with the new Flesk produced Xenozoic print and poster featured. Please refer to John’s News section for the skinny on this, my first official Xenozoic merchandising in over ten years. It’s good to be back in the dinosaur-infested future.

Art for Upcoming Schultz Portfolio!

To answer a frequently asked question: no, I unfortunately will not have a new Various Drawings book out this year (we will have copies of last year’s Vol. 3 on hand). My work on the illustrations for my Storms at Sea book have precluded the assembly of a new collection this year, but I’m accumulating a lot of stuff for use in Vol. 4, which we’ll have out in 2009.

In the meantime, please check out the accompanying Storms at Sea images, proof that I am indeed plowing forward with my pet project. I’ll be offering the preliminary drawings, as well as some brand-spanking new pulp-girls-in-danger inked extravaganzas, for sale at the Con (but not before, so please don’t bother emailing John).

Storms at Sea
Storms at Sea
Preliminary Art for Upcoming Book
Storms at Sea by Mark Schultz

(Sidebar: I know from talking with many of you that I need more venues for selling my originals—not everyone who might be interested in making a purchase can make it to the handful of cons I attend. I am in the midst of constructing a website on which I should be able to offer pieces for sale. But that’s still a bit in the future—I’m getting there, but right now I’m not set-up to sell from my home.)

Storms at Sea
Artwork for Upcoming Book
Storms at Sea by Mark Schultz

Back to the Comic Con: In addition to the Xenozoic print and poster, I will also be offering a new Centrosaurus print, a colored version off the dinosaur image seen at the end of Various Drawings Vol. 1. All proceeds from the sales of this print go to financing the fieldwork of this particular species of centrosaurus’ discoverer (and SubHuman co-creator), paleontologist Dr. Michael Ryan, helping him continue to excavate the remains of Mesozoic beasts in the far-away badlands of Canada and Mongolia. A worthy cause, indeed, to anyone interested in the increase and diffusion of prehistoric knowledge.

The coloring on both the Xenozoic and the Centrosaurus prints was beautifully executed by Jim and Ruth Keegan. Unfortunately the multi-talented Keegans will not be attending the Con this year, overwhelmed as they are creating a series of new illustrations that I’m sure will stun us all at the 2009 convention. In their place, this year only, Gary Gianni and I are happy to have the astounding Mr. Geoff Darrow staking his tent at our booth. A man who needs no introduction, Geoff will bring his unique and powerful presence—as well as artwork over which we can all mutually slobber—to our matrix.

Lastly, but never leastly, the artistic symphony that is Gary Gianni will continue to anchor our booth, displaying a vast array of both mesmerizing illustrations and magnificent Prince Valiant page originals. (And, by the way, a couple of the new Val pages are collaborations between Gary and I—see if you can spot them.) Gary, of course will also be offering his new Flesk Publications book, The Prince Valiant Page, which, if you have not yet seen it, will set your jaw solidly on the floor.

As usual, our booth is a mere stone’s throw from the Flesk Publications location at #5019. Gary and I will both be doing book (and print) signings there, so if you happen to miss us at our home base, chances are we’re over with John. (He’ll have a signing schedule posted.)

If you’re attending the Con, be sure to stop by and see us. If you’re not attending, happy trails, and I hope to see you somewhere down the road.

Mark Schultz

Artwork Scanning and Preservation Tips

One of the most common questions I receive is that of how do I scan the artwork for the Flesk books. A recent email from a young artist prompted me to write this blog with my knowledge on the subject. Before I offer my suggestions and dpi settings that I use, I would like to share a bit of advice geared towards the young and new artist, and any artist who does not currently archive their work.

First off, I’m not an artist. I am a publisher who understands what I need from an artist to put together a book collection of their work. Because of this, I will incorporate business advice. I will go over three things. Why should you scan or photograph your art, followed by scanning tips, and then how to backup the scans.

In my opinion, one of the most important things you can do as an artist is preserve and record your work for future use. Even if you keep the originals this is a good idea. Having your art scanned or photographed can benefit you for the rest of your life (and your family and legacy once you are gone). There are many reasons why this is smart. Here’s a list of examples. You sell the original and no longer have access to it. The artwork gets damaged. You used some cheap watercolors, or some other weird thing happened where the art degraded. You don’t want to ship the original to a publisher or client (send them a scan or transparency instead so you don’t have to worry about loss or damage). Plus, there are the financial benefits. You have a permanent record to use for book collections, prints, posters, ads, magazine articles, etc., that you can continue to use for your benefit forever. If you don’t have the art, and no scan or photograph, then you may be stuck when an opportunity arises to utilize past art. Remember you are an artist and a businessman. If you want to survive as an artist, you need to have a plan for your future.

As an example, I spoke to an artist who I highly regard, who has had a long distinguished career and is nearing sixty. He mentioned a publisher was putting together a collection of his work, but was having a tough time locating artwork for the book. The artist sold the majority of his originals, and never kept records.

Another example, I spoke with another artist who is at retirement age. He had had many of his paintings professionally photographed during his entire five decade career. Who knows where all the originals are? But, he has the next best thing–preserved film to reproduce the art.

Now on to scanning. As a general rule for halftone printing purposes, I recommend scanning your art at 400 dpi in RGB. This goes for black and white art, too. I have found the blacks are preserved better in color than in a grayscale scan. You can always convert your RGB file to grayscale. Scanning any higher is unnecessary for print.

For pure black and white reproductions (bitmap files, no halftones) scan at 1200 dpi in grayscale. Never scan as a bitmap. You want to make the bitmap adjustments in Photoshop yourself, rather than letting the scanner make the decisions for you. And that goes for all adjustments. I never use my scanning equipment to make lighting, or color, or threshold adjustments, when I have Photoshop to use for complete control.

When saving your files, save them as either a PSD (Photoshop) file, or Tiff file. Never save them as a jpg. I often see people save their art as jpg’s, and editor’s use jpg’s for reproduction. I never understood why, especially when tiff files are far superior. Jpg’s produce hard edges on the art, and don’t preserve the colors or details as good as a Tiff file. I see no advantage to using jpg’s.

I’m not going to get into the details about photographing art, but I will mention when you want to photograph versus scan art. I have found that scanning paintings on canvas looks terrible. The intense bright light of the scanner oftentimes makes bright pinholes of light in the nuances of the canvas, and washes out the colors. I prefer photographing paintings while controlling the light. I used medium format film up to two-three years ago, but shoot exclusively digital now. Digital cameras are finally providing affordable equipment with excellent results. For a long time they were expensive with poor results.

Now for backing up your digital files. I keep a second disk online as a mirror, so if one disk fails, I just keep on working. This has happened to me twice in the last six years. Disks are mechanical units and will fail at some point. Another option is to burn your files onto a CD or DVD and file away. You can even keep a second copy at a friend or family member’s house in case of a fire or catastrophe. Whatever you do, do some sort of backup.

That’s it for now.