Scott Bakal
June 2010
Dean Cornwell Achievement Award

Dean Cornwell Achievement Award


At the Society of Illustrators President's Dinner last Friday June 25th, along with Robert Zimmerman the main man who created this here Drawger, Illoz, Bite-Sized Snack...and other internet realities, we received the Dean Cornwell Achievement Award.  We got the award for 'conceiving and implementing' and 'creating the customized website portal' competition system that every illustrator, student and school have been using for the last 4 years to enter Society of Illustrators competitions.

From start to finish, it took me about a year and a half to get through the process.  Dealing with logistics, money and what needs to be built and then Zimm came in the last 6-8 months and built it.

Thinking back, it was an amazing project to do because so many other changes were occurring at that same time with the newly hired Anelle Miller as Executive Director. I remember getting pretty cranky along the way because it was a long project to deal with and I was nervous about how it would work.  Also, most of the professional illustration industry and hundreds of schools were going to use it!  It HAD to work! Thankfully, cool-as-a-clam Zimm always had a way of making sure I wasn't taking things too seriously.  When I started freaking out during the testing stages and some stuff didn't work, inevitably there will be some silly sound-effect or link that took my to some sort of nefarious website that he would sneak in somewhere when I wasn't looking which made for some great laughs.  If anyone knows him, you know he's got a wit and laugh that you just can't help yourself to laugh along with.

In the end, he built an awesome competition manager.  When everyone saw how amazing it worked, the Society's Board decided to start using it for everything else.  It has been amazing to see it grow after that first year.  Major props to Zimm for helping me make the vision a reality with his ninja-like coding skills then taking it further with Anelle for all the other competitions!  Also...props to Josh Carpenter...the quiet guy in the background that seems to never get enough credit!

Thank you Zimm and Josh and thanks to the Society for giving us the award.

As an aside...a special thanks to Zimm for creating Drawger, Illoz and the other piles of illustration-based sites and putting passion behind the possibilities in the illustration world.  It's changed a lot of things in the illustration biz over the years and more changes will come.  Congrats, buddy.

We wanted to make sure we gave the Society all our love for giving us the award!  Zimm is a good kisser.
...and for some shots of the evening....
Greg Manchess and myself comparing facial hair notes....
A view from Table 1. That's right...they put me and Zimm at Table 1.
Irene Gallo presenting an award.
Tim O'Brien also at Table 1...ho-hum...text, text, text...he was an hour away from the beginning of his vacation.... ;o)
Me, Kristina Carroll and Victor Juhasz
Zimm with his Mom and Dad.
Wilson McLean receiving the Hall of Fame Award.
John Jude Palencar receiving the Hamilton King Award.
...and of course, Zimm and I playing with our Droid phones looking at Drawger during the whole ceremony! :o)
"Good News! Winning Streak! Happy!"
Alien and the Happiness Diamond | Acrylic and Ink
The title of this post is actual art direction!

I'd like to thank SooJin Buzelli for being the first art director to hire me to use my alien character in a commissioned piece!  Largely, this character has remained mainly in my sketchbook and gallery art for the last 2-3 years.  I am really fond of him and all the stories I've been developing over the years.  Hopefully soon, I'll have some product to put out there over this next year.

I actually added this sketch on right at the very end of some other ideas I had going on and in less than 5 minutes of sending her the email, she responded that she wanted the last one.  I even told her I put it in there as sort of an aside and asked if she was sure that she wanted that one.  Yup!  Okey dokey!
One of things that I love which I eventually figured out within the context of my career is to do whatever the hell you want.  I was always nervous about perceptions of art directors and what I thought the 'market' wanted of me.  It kept me stagnant for so many years.  I am sure a lot of illustrators think about this or have thought about this sort of thing at one point or another.

Somewhere along the way in the last 6 years, I gave up and decided to do what I wanted and created the images, use the symbols, draw the way I want to draw and use the colors that I want to use.  To hell with the market!

I understand that I provide content that needs to fall within a conceptual framework often which I am totally cool is the nature of being an illustrator.  But if I am not having fun with it, then what's the point?  The work I've been doing these last years is the most personal and most fun I've had in my career.  With a positive attitude and positive feelings about the art I make comes the work.  I've never been busier.  (Knocking on wood.)

Thank you SooJin for believing in me and some of my twisted visions and all the other artists you hire.  Not only for their picture-making abilities but for their personal visions of the concepts you need illustrated.  Because of this, and I think many may agree, especially when they first work with you, it is terrifying to get the email from you for a job.  We get that one word or phrase and have to translate it into some visual.  Somehow, with this abstract art direction, we have to somehow come up with a knock-out-of-the-park image to stand up to the other amazing illustrators in the same issue....because we all know that each issue is going to be loaded with amazing art.  Yikes!  Terrifying!

In the end, every issue you art direct is eye-candy because of this allowance of personal vision.  Congrats on such good designing and art directing.
Earth: Fragile Panet Exhibition
Mother Nature (and the Impenetrable Lilac Tree) | 18x24 | Acrylic and Ink on Wood Panel
EARTH: Fragile Planet is a nine week exhibit showcasing 120 of the world’s most accomplished illustrators giving them a forum to set forth their personal views about the state of the world and the environment. Divided into five categories: earth, energy, air, water, and wildlife, the exhibit consists of multi-media works including original art in both traditional and digital medium, video, 3D, and comics.

An Opening Reception for EARTH: Fragile Planet will be held on Friday, June 4, 2010.
Detail #1
While I was working on this project, I had some thoughts about where I grew up and how nature orientated I was.  From when I was born until 11 years old when I moved to New York, I lived in a small town called Simsbury in Connecticut.  Largely surrounded by farms, small mountains and forests. Our small bit of property had some enormous trees and in particular, a wonderful lilac bush that towered over me. It was so large I could climb it like a tree. Some of my most wonderful memories includes lying in the grass on the side yard starting up at the sky and watching one of the huge trees sway back and forth in the wind and the sweet smell of lilac all around for the few weeks that they bloom.
Detail #2
I believe that this early connection and enjoyment with nature stayed with me. Any chance I get, I find myself walking to a park or looking at some sort of foliage or lying in the grass. It also sparks the environmentalist in me. Always trying to recycle when I can, driving fuel efficient cars, recycling office supplies and anything I can do to make my footprint smaller on the planet.
Detail #3
Here's some recent press and interview with Tara Jacoby, Kate Feirtag and Greg Manchess about the exhibition.  Congratulations guys!  It's going to be a great show!

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Bakal is teaching at TutorMill, an online mentoring site for students of illustration!