During Christmases and birthdays being able to produce some nice creative presents for friends is always better than just buying them a movie or tshirt.
It’s not always a sure thing though and sometimes you decide to do a piece of art for someone and get hit by the creative block freight train that bogs you down…
A friend recently had a birthday and I decided a couple months before to do some artwork for her. She’s a huge fan of the 80s cartoon show Jem (as can be seen here and here) and I wanted to do a Jem piece for her.
I had a clear image in my mind of what I wanted it to be…but it took a few swings before I landed on the final…
I wanted to do a “singing” piece, not just a standing there for the poster piece.
My initial idea was a close up using Halestorm vixen Lzzy Hale as a model.
I sketched it out in pencil in my sketchbook before deciding on a medium for the final:
I tried to do it in chalk pastels…but as I progressed through it I didn’t like the look of it. I definitely wanted the bright pink colors but I wasn’t a fan of the composition… So I dropped the close up concept and went with a copy of a famous Jem poster…but as I worked through it I considered how senseless it was just to draw a poster…it’s just a copy of existing art. And scrapped that too…
So I scrapped it and thought, “Well I haven’t done any straight up pencil work in a while. I can add a touch of color to the pink like I did for my World’s End piece.” So I started on pencils…
I thought I could do a punk rock or metal Jem… The issue is Jem’s look is kind of iconic. If you take her gaudy pink dresses, teased hair, and make up away she isn’t Jem anymore (as the producers of that awful film found out). So even though I thought the art was better it wasn’t what I wanted to do. So I scrapped that one.
With the birthday rapidly approaching I was starting to regret painting myself into the “creative” corner for the present. I couldn’t muster the creativity to do a piece I liked and ended up regretting the choice to try it.
Then one morning I was lounging in bed one Saturday morning scrolling through Facebook and I came across a an ad for a Rick and Morty tshirt showing Rick in the iconic Scott Pilgrim pose. As soon as I saw it I had the idea, Jem in Scott Pilgrim style.
I thought about the piece while I was at work that day. I initially struggled with the composition, Pilgrim had his famous Rickenbacker bass. Rick was holding a cartoon guitar. I briefly considered just giving Jem a guitar or an 80s keytar, but I know fandoms enough to know you want to stick with accuracy. I couldn’t give her either of those because canonically Jem doesn’t play either of those instruments in the show… I eventually landed on having her still singing, but holding the mic cable in the same pose as a guitar player. Once I had it nailed down I produced this:
The first one of these I was actually happy with.
It was done just in time for the birthday and now hangs in her house. Always the best part of making art for someone is seeing how the recipient decides to display it!