Tuesday, December 28, 2010

My Top Three Comics of 2010 On MTV GEEK

Check out my top three Comics of 2010 at MTV Geek. Top Three Comics of 2010.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Emerald City Blues Update

Here are some pages from Issue #3 of Emerald City Blues. My take on The Wizard of Oz.

To own your copy of ECB click right here: ECB issues!

Enjoy these new pages.

Monday, November 08, 2010

Night Baby

It think every creative person always wants to be creative in some other artistic discipline. I've dabbled in music and photography and video. I enjoy them all and I wish I could pull them all together into one piece of art.

Earlier tonight I was taking pictures and I decided to do a series of pics of this doll figure.

I wanted to capture that moment in childhood where you remember something but can't place the time or the context when it happened. Part dream, part half remembered memory.

Courtesy my Hipstamatic app.


Friday, October 29, 2010

Me2 at MTV Geek


I've been off this blog for a minute so for those of you that don't know I'm partnering with MTV for my next comic project called Me2.

You can read the news article here: MTV Geek Launch Article

Me2 is the story of a young girl named Crystal who has multiple personalities. What's worse is that each of one of her personalities has their own super power!



MTV Geek has been kind enough to let me blog on their site.

You can read my first blog entry at  Me2 Character Blog

I talk about the ideas and development that went into creating the main character from Me2. I've posted some never before seen development sketches that give a behind the ...scenes look at how I approach character design.

I'll be posting new art and exclusive sketches to MTV Geek during the lead up to the launch of Me2 in December. Swing by and check it out and feel free to leave your comments!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Super Creatives, Djing, Graphic Design, Comic Books

I spent the day searching for interesting fonts to reload my font book. It's not all comics and toys for me. Sometimes I take on freelance pixel pushing gigs. In this case I'm working on some toy packaging design. The rate was great and I actually dig the product so although I don't consider pure graphic design my forte' I am enjoying the process of creating the packaging. It's part of the broader idea of creative communication that I fancy myself to be a part of.

Before I launch into my main subject of graphic design and comics I wanted to a take a minute to talk about something that I don't think is discussed enough in the creative world. I think we are in the midst of the era of the "Super Creative". Let me roll it back 7 or 8 years ago. I was on a flight to Paris from Los Angeles and I had just spent over a month in Singapore. I was beginning to see a this emerging trend of creative people that because of the computers and the freedom and sheer amount of available information available on the web were learning faster and mastering their first creative ability and moving on to second and third creative skill sets. I could see that this was a global phenomena that was going to even the playing field in terms of access to learning and high end out put of creative materials. All that would be left was the "idea" as in who had the best idea. As opposed to in the past where it was about who had access to learning/polished skill sets and who could promote their work best or who was local to a creative industry. Now companies are willing to have a design house in India create work for a toy manufactured in China to be sold to people in Kansas. I didn't think how price would become the dominating factor in the future but I was just in such awe of the idea of a global artistic movement. Back to the me on the plane. I was sitting next to a French photographer/musician who I struck up a conversation with. I showed him some of the comics I had made and we talked about making art, music and film. He said you are a "Hyper Artist". I thought at first he meant that I had ADD but he soon explained what he really meant was that I was an artist that was chasing different creative disciplines.

On the rest of the flight it dawned on me that I was part of a bridge generation of artists that had studied under or grew up with artists that lived by the idea of "be great at one thing" school of thought. I think this worked well for them because pre-digital you needed many hands to make up for the time it took to create Comics, Film, Music, Design but with the computer it cut those times or in some cases cut those steps out altogether. Each one of those steps used to be manned by an artist that took pride in their work and their craft. Now they were manned by a computer and an ambitious artist. We were seeing the consolidation of the creative process and the empowering of the single creative person. It was like jumping from holding a pistol to holding an M-16. The amount of creative firepower you could bring to bare on a single piece was staggering.

Back to graphic design. I equate Djing with Graphic Design. Djs are always looking for new beats Graphic Designers are always looking for new fonts. Both Graphic Designers and Dj's are always trying to find the right mix of elements blended together to generate an emotional response. The output is different but the mental and creative space is the same. When I got involved in comics everyone would tell me "Comics are not about graphic design they are about clarity." No overlapping panels etc. I don't think anyone would have predicted the amount of visual input people would be taking in and how savvy the average reader has become in regards to graphic design. Graphic design as pure communication it is exactly what comics are. There is an emotional current under the visuals that influences and promotes the text and in some cases works on a pure iconic level conveying much more than any work could do. I still think clarity is important because Comics are about the stories but at the same time there is room for the Comic book equivalent of Drum and Bass music. Not everything is easy listening or easy viewing. The older I get the more I want a challenge in the work I see, read, hear. I always have to remind myself that not everyone shares those tastes. It's like the DJ that doesn't want to play Rob Base "It Takes Two" at a wedding. Sometimes you have to consider the audience and the venue or in the case of Comics who is the intended reader for your work.

I think many artists start with the idea "what do I want to read" and they hope it resonates with people. I think that can work on a small scale. If you look at the big picture of creative communication it's the idea of finding common ground through your story on a human level as opposed to searching for common ground based on your perception of self or your tastes based on the work you've been exposed to. The old saying "write what you know." means write about the truths you believe in or the experiences you've had. Those truths can be put into a new fantastic context but they are still ideas you understand and believe in. I think creators that are starting out and many that have been around for a long time think "writing what you know." is actually "write versions of stories you know or remember from when you were a kid." Which I think leads to a cycle of regurgitated patchwork media that undermines your true voice.

That's it for now. Back to looking for interesting fonts and remixing this package design.



Saturday, August 07, 2010

Old Man Zombie

The temperature read 93. degrees on the digital letters outside the bank. I was sitting at the light turning onto Van Nuys from Ventura when I noticed an old man crossing the street. He was moving very slow and with a bit of a limp. From behind me two Angelinos with hard ons honked their horns as if I should run the old timer down. Just than he heard the horns and I don't think he knew exactly where they were coming from. He abruptly stopped, lifted his head and let out a sound to no one in particular.

The sound was something like..."UUUUHHHGHHHHARGHHH"!

His right art went up half way and stopped and jabbed at the sky like a De La Hoya punch recreated by an injured bird.

At that point his mouth sort of opened....and it dawned on me.

The limp...

the sounds...

He looked like a Zombie.

My next thought was how sad it is that at the time of our lives when we have the least amount of actual time our bodies are so slow.

Point taken cruel God.

Maybe when he summoned the strength to lift his arm and yell it was not at the drivers but at God for stranding him in a body that was so slow with an arm that only worked half of the time. I couldn't blame him either way. 

The man made his way to the curb one tiny step at a time. Giving me a minute to ponder the debate between Zombies that run and Zombies that walk. I don't know what you do when you are sandwiched between an old timer who's every step actually makes clock hands in a 20 mile radius move backwards and pissed off Valley dwellers who are in a hurry to get back to their Bungalow style apartments and crank the AC and smoke a fatty and forget their shit job in an office in Hollywood and cry themselves to sleep because they lost their dreams of becoming an actor and all they have left is the local theater gig where they are doing a bit part in a Shakespeare play that they don't really like but it's okay because someday they will become a big star, look at George Clooney he really didn't get big until he was older. As night falls they listen to the hum of the AC and they keep saying to themselves.


I like both running Zombies and walking Zombies for different reasons. I like fast ones because it's scary to think that someone that wants to eat your brain like tofu ice cream is running after you like they want to qualify for the Olympics. It's just freaky. I am also a traditionalist and I do like the idea that they are slowly coming for you. In such great numbers that speed doesn't matter. Eventually we will get to you and when we do...CARNE!

On the other hand if I had a choice between old people who could run and old people that walk I would no doubt choose old people that run. I'd love to see thousands of old people running down Ventura with the Chariots of Fire theme mashed into a techno beat playing behind them. You would see them passing the cars punching the honkers. Jumping little dogs. Grabbing In and Out Burgers. Generally kicking ass and running like it was the end of their lives. I guess for some it is....or will be soon.

The old man takes his final step and pulls onto the curb.

I turned onto Van Nuys and made my way to the Mexican restaurant.

I needed a burrito.


How to put the Comic back in Comic Con

This has been floating around my various social networks for the last two weeks. I wrote it when the show was fresh in my head...but it's finally landing on my blog. Enjoy

Over the years I've had mixed feelings about the transformation of Comic Con from an all access pass to the world of Comics to the Super Bowl of Pop Culture Marketing. As a person who set up at the show for a great many years I was eyewitness to the transformation. It was a gradual slide but eventually there was a tipping point and the show became a marketing show for Hollywood and the video game world. In terms of making a profit and getting the message out on your Comic, Comic Con has become a difficult place to navigate. Despite all that, I've grown to appreciate the spectacle of a double decker bus driven by David Hasselhoff with Bay Watch girls hanging off of it. I don't even mind last years Twilight folk. If we can except a hunky Wolverine why can't we accept Vampires that sparkle. Comic Con is all grown up and has a diverse set of tastes. It's not your dad's Comic Con and let's be honest it hasn't been his convention since the the late 90's.

It's no shock that the average Comic artist with his 2d hand drawn art can't compete with life size Bummblebees and Odin's golden throne. Don't get me wrong for some Comic artists Comic Con is still a booming business. I hear stories of certain artists selling so much original art at Comic Con that they don't have to work the rest of the year. I'm sure you can count those guys on one hand. I also see incredibly talented artists staring into space with nobody in front of their artist alley tables. I think often Comic creators see the lights of Comic Con and think "I want my part of the pot of gold." just to find out that the audience attending the show is huge but maybe 10% are hardcore Comic fans. With those numbers it would still be a huge number for a Comic show...now disperse those fans over a football field and over the entire creative Comic community. Well you get the idea. It's just not easy to sell a comic in the numbers you need to make Comic Con profitable. Taking all that into consideration I still think it's a show every comic artist should go to. Here is why. If you can mentally switch gears and see Comic Con as an opportunity to build your brand rather than a place to sell your comic you are half way to turning the show into a useful tool.

#1 Comic Con has the biggest concentration of Comic media out there. If you want to set up face to face meetings with your favorite Comic book site journalist this is the time to take the money you would spend on a table or booth and use it to buy key people beers and create a genuine relationship with them. Marketing Comic books are about the personal touch so getting to know people in the industry should be a top priority. Being chained to a booth or table is not going to make that easy, being flexible time wise will. Ditch the table and go mobile.

#2 Give your comic away to other Comic creators. Nothing creates buzz in Comics faster than other Comic artists talking about your work. There are some that may not read it or give it the time of day but most people who make Comics love comics so they will be happy to give it a look. Although it might not get you promo/buzz it may get you a job. If an editor or art director is looking for a style that an artist doesn't do, often times they will mention an artist that does. That could be you and your style thanks to them learning about your work through the Comic you gave them. It also puts you on the radar of writers. It's the nature of Comic Books that writers need artists. Want to be on the next big book with a well know writer? Give them your comic!

#3 Make yourself and your Comic available to mainstream media. Mainstream media is crawling over Comic Con begging for content to fill up the 24-7 news cycle. Find the camera crew talk to their producer give them your book. Have your pitch down and see if you can get on G4 pimping your product. Won't mom be happy when you show up on Entertainment Tonight!?!

#4 Social Media. Get on Facebook, DA, Twitter and update what you are doing at the show. Say who you met, what you are seeing. It's an opportunity to push your message and your brand. Many people can't make it to Comic Con so they like to read what's going on at the show. You may get the chance to introduce your work to people who may have not heard of it when your tweet shows up with #sdcc behind it in a search.

I know Comic Con has reached it's limit in terms of space but going forward here are a few things I think Comic Con can do to put the Comic back in Comic Con.

#1 Expand the artist alley section and let in younger less accomplished artists by giving cheap tables. Think of it as an American Comicket. These artists will benefit by sitting next to established pros and it will breath new life into the show. It will help create the next generation of Comic creators by giving new creators a place to show their work on the biggest stage in Comics. I went to the Anime Expo here in LA. The artist alley section is vibrant and filled with people buying art and trying new Comics/Manga. This is essential for bringing in a youth movement to the Comics industry. If Comics are to survive and grow they need to appeal to a larger audience. How do you appeal to a larger audience? Cultivate new voices that appeal to diverse groups of people. Comic Con should make room for the future talent in the industry and brake down the barrier between Pro and Pro Am.

#2 Comic Con is almost like the Cannes film festival so why not hold a Comic Con Best In Show Comic Prize. Creators (established or not) submit their comics a few months before Comic Con for selection. Every comic that is selected is printed and put in the giveaway bag so people can read the comics that are selected. Have a group of judges select the winner and have winners in different categories. I know the Eisner's are held at Comic Con but the immediacy of having a book that is debuting at the show and the fact that the people attending the show will see it there first will bring a sense of enthusiasm and excitement to the Comic side of the show. It will also get mainstream coverage and make it a place for new Comic voices as well as established Comic creators to have their creations and ideas shown to a larger audience.

#3 Free Comic supplies! Comic Con needs to get sponsors to put Comic making materials in every giveaway bag. The show owes it's existence to the voices of Comic creators so why not give attendees a chance to experience what it's like to actually make a comic books! Having larger workshops/demos of the materials by the companies and sponsored creators showing off what can be done with the supplies would be an amazing win/win for attendees, the companies that make the supplies and the next generation of Comic creators.

Back to the Comic-preneur grind, because Comics don't sleep.


Also a little how to I posted to you tube. Learn how I create Kirby Krackle.

Kirby Krackle "How To" in fabulous HD

Saturday, July 03, 2010

Scenes From a Courthouse

I spent a week serving the City of Los Angeles as a juror. It was a fantastic experience for me. I met some amazing Angelinos. A real cross section of people from this great city. We were brought together to do a job and everyone did their best. Lot's of wisdom and insight was given over coffee at Mc Donalds. As strange as it sounds the day after the case was over I missed the group I had grown to really care about and appreciate. They were funny and caring and responsible dedicated people. I left the experience having more faith in our system of justice and the common sense and humanity that still lives in this city.

These photos were taken on day one and reflect the mood I felt going into a new experience. I look back now and sitting in the jury room I saw these people and little did I know I would become friends and learn about their lives and hopes and dreams over the next week. A true blessing for Juror #22

Thursday, June 17, 2010

How To Dismantle A Comic Store

I've been up to my ears in toy pitches and consulting. I've not had a lot of time for my personal work but I'm hoping next week I'll make a serious push towards getting back on track. With art it's always about doing the paying gigs and finding the time for your own work. I bet if I went back through my entire blog I'm sure I've mentioned that particular struggle many times. Yes it's that big of an issue. If you are an artist you already know and feel my pain. The personal stuff feeds the soul. The paying gigs feed the stomach. Tru-motherfucking-day!

In other news I was talking to a Comic store owner the other day about the news that Marvel is experimenting with releasing their comics digitally on the same day they release them in print form at Comic stores. I think this is a big deal because it tells me Marvel is looking at eventually doing that with their entire line and they are priming the pump for the day when all of the their comics are delivered digitally.

The retailer said that he thinks that the people who come into comic stores are not the same kind of people that would download them. I made the point that what if only 10% of his customers are? Could he afford to take a 10% hit on his business? He sort of went pale when I framed it that way. He brought up the point that Marvel is a "publishing" company and they are not going to just stop being a publisher. To which I said in fact they were not a publisher they are a content/IP company and the publishing is just a small part of what they do as a company. Sure it's how they started but it's not their future. Their future is in big budget 3D Spider-Man movies and Underoos.

Then he said if comic stores go under where will comic fans find out about new comics and ideas? I said comic stores don't carry independent product now so what's the difference? He had a blank stare and he had admitted to dropping certain Indie books he liked because he couldn't develop an audience at his store for them. ("CHEW" on that Image Comics)  He said times were tough and people wanted their Spider-man and Batman but with the Marvel and DC books clocking in at $3.99 there was a limit to what customers budgets would allow them to experiment with. I believe as Marvel and DC move more towards digital releases we will see comic book stores that can weather the transition looking for new physical product to sell. Shirts and toys and yes Underoos. I'm not sure that even then they will turn to Indie Comics as a new source of income. There is a trust that is not there between the retailer and the Indie creator. It could be caused by the landslide of Indie comics that went one issue and pulled a Houdini and disappeared into thin air leaving one too many retailers with a 50 cent box filled with one part of a four part story. Maybe it's the complacency brought on by years of consistent Marvel and DC material. Weekly comics are the life blood of Comic stores. They keep the lights on and pay the rent. The trades and the Sin City shot glasses are just tiny contributions to the bottom line. Which brings me to why more retailers are not making more of a stink about the shrinking window (and soon to be nonexistent window) of digital to print release dates. The wolves are at the door and the impression I'm getting from retailers is that they don't believe people want to read comics on I-pads or I-Phones. I think that argument might have worked with an I-phone but not with an I-pad. If not in the next year or two than within the next five years as the I-pad user base grows and consumers get used to getting their digital subscriptions downloaded right to their shiny new devices they will find less and less reasons to make the trek to the comic store. In the same way that I held onto buying vinyl and than CDs there will be a few people who will keep buying the physical media until it becomes more of an inconvenience or a price issue and then they will move on. There will be deluxe hardcover editions of comics made for the best of the bunch but I see the eventual death of the floppy or it's transformation into the weekly download as inevitable.

I for one always loved the Comic store experience. It's charm comes from it's dual identity, part garage sale/used record store, part nerd community center. I liked the cranky clerks that always presented themselves as someone with an "in" with the Comic world. All the wannabe writers and artists that were replaced by the wannabe comic producer types (at least here in L.A.). I'll miss the Comic club house that was the Comic store. Comics will survive and even thrive but not in the current format. The conventions will become an even bigger deal. We've seen convention owners battling for weekends and locations all over the country. Conventions will become more about the comic memorabilia and meeting creators and other fans similar to what Anime fans experience now at their conventions.

In the theme of changing times for the sequential art business here is a link to an article talking about the reasons for the sudden demise of the Manga industry.
Why Did Manga Collapse?

The article makes some interesting points about the lack of a new Manga that captures the imagination of the whole fan base as well as bringing in new readers. Think of a Harry Potter or in Manga's case where is the next Naruto or Akira?

Next time I'll tackle my ideas for how a comic creator can take advantage of this changing environment and I'll pose a few questions every comic creator should ask themselves before they start a project.


Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Drawing the Demon

Check out my new video where I talk about the process behind drawing a commission piece of Etrigan The Demon
Drawing the Demon

I also attended the Pasadena Comic Con this past weekend. Wow a total bust. I did get a chance to hang with some of my comic pals and I saw a Pirate rock band...so yeah...super bust.



Thursday, May 20, 2010

Building a Bad Guy Video

Hi All,

I've posted a new video
Building A Bad Guy Video

Description below

A new video series by Comic book artist Karl Altstaetter (Artist Deity, Bloodstrike, Q-Unit) In the third episode Karl talks about his artistic process and walks you through the creation of a villain for a new toy/animation concept. Karl gives some tips and tricks and a behind the scenes peek at coloring.

You will be able to see the process behind my creation of this piece.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Karl Altstaetter's Creative Conversations Part 2

Karl Altstaetter's Creative Conversations Part 2

The second part of my video sketchbook walk through. I talk about recasting characters and the importance of Cybernetic boobies.

Check it at the link above.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Karl's Creative Conversations Part One

Hi All,

Here is a link to my new video of me talking about what's in one of my old sketchbooks. It's part of a new video series I'm starting where I talk about my art and the process I use when I do my art. Sometimes I'll be dissecting an old sketchbooks or ideas. Other times I'll be doing "how to" videos.

check it out here: Karl Altstaetter's Creative Conversations Part One

Tuesday, May 04, 2010


Pictures from a series of photos I've done representing Spring.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Precious Photos 01

Some recent pics I've taken with my Hipstamatic app.

The Future
Self Portrait
The Road
Urban Jungle

Friday, April 09, 2010

I'm on the Art and Story Extreme Podcast

Hi All,

I'm on the Art and Story Extreme Podcast with a recap of Wonder Con. With Gerimi Burleigh

Drop in and give it a listen.

Thanks to Jerzy for having us. A great show and a fun experience.


Thursday, April 08, 2010


Picked up an IPhone the other day and I downloaded the app Sketchbook. Started drawing away with my finger and bing, bam, boom..I made a little robot guy.
Considering that I drew it with my finger...well actually my nail..I was happy for a first time.

Mostly made of scribbles it was kinda of like drawing a Terminator on a glass bean. Yes it was that unusual.
Going to experiment more.
With each passing day I get more IPad envy.


Monday, April 05, 2010

Deadpool: Sketch of the Day

Back in from Wonder Con. In catch up mode. I'll give the play by play tomorrow. For now a sketch I did at the show.


Sunday, March 28, 2010

Acroyear-Warm Up Sketch Of The Day

I used to really dig the Micronauts when I was a kid. I dug the story and the designs and the Michael Golden art really sealed the deal. This piece is my love letter to my favorite Micronaut Acroyear!

You can own this very piece! Check out the handy dandy button on the right! Only $25 American bucks!!!


Friday, March 26, 2010

Darkseid-Warm Up Sketch of the Day


I'm going to try and post more of my warm up sketches. This one is of Darkseid of the New Gods. Trying to channel some Kirby/Simonson goodness on this piece. I hope you dig it.

If you would like to own this piece. You can get it via PAYPAL in the box on the side of this posting. For only $25 Buckaroos!


Sunday, March 21, 2010

Fancy Daft Punk Helmets

I was sitting with a friend of mine the other day and we were talking about what projects I had going and what my priorities as far as time management goes.

After complaining for a good 15 minutes my friend said to me.

"You look tired."

He didn't mean physically.

He was talking about my mental state.

I think everyone who has a long involved career at some point wakes up, looks in the mirror and wonders if they have had enough. In my heart of hearts I still love what I do. I still enjoy drawing although everything I want to do artistically is very involved and time consuming for me. No easy fun stuff. I spent my 20's learning and doing a wide range of quality, from epic fail level hacks to professional shockers.

As I grow older each piece takes on a new significance to me. I'm not satisfied with showing what I've done again and again. I'm about surprising myself and finding that bleeding edge of my work where the true growth and all the roads I've taken lead to. The problem is the amount of energy it takes to get there. When I first started drawing any half draw John Byrne face I did was an accomplishment. I had so much to learn and I knew so little every thing taught me something. Even if it was just repetition it still gave me hand eye control and moved me farther down the road. Over the years I followed different creative paths. More detail. Less detail. Color. Painting. Inking. Cartoons. Illustrations. Concept designs. Graphic design. I was like a fat woman from Alabama at the Balagio buffet (Go bama Go Tide!).  I wanted to try everything until my hand broke or my my brain exploded or both. In the end I became a jack of all trades a master of none.

I ended up with a multiple personality artistic brain. I am the art Sybil. With all this swirling around my head it can be tough to power through the wall of artistic inspiration and experimentation and get to that place where I can perform at my best. If you add in the amount of time I spend doing freelance and the amount of frustration it creates and the toll that takes on my mental state. Well you have a perfect storm for lack of true productivity. I'm not talking work. I'm talking artistic expression at the level I want to express myself at.

I'm not tired of art.

I'm tired of not getting the quality I want out of my art.

I'm tired of doing mindless freelance jobs.

I'm tired of chasing the green guys.

I'm tired of being tired.

My goal is to clear off some of these minor jobs I've got going and make time for the projects I really want to do. They say the worst thing you can do is start a drawing without an idea because 9 times out 10 you will draw the same thing over and over again. Which as we all know if the definition of insanity. I have the ideas. I just need the mental space to create them.

I am also going to start posting a sketch every couple of days. I might put it up for sale. I might not. We shall see.

First up. My take on Thor by way of 300. Drawn all digital.

A new feature in my blog called "Bitch Corner".
I bitch and maybe we both learn something from it:

I had a meeting recently with the client of a client. Which means it was someone I was working for who in turn was working for someone else. I didn't really want to interface with my client's client but he wanted to cut out the middle man and have me pitch to this fellow straight up. Between drive time this cost me about three hours out of the middle of my day. If I was billing for that time it would have been a cool $225. I didn't bill for it because I had settled on a flat rate which didn't include me going to meeting with client's of clients. So I met the big boss and as most Hwood types are they think they are mini Jim Camerons and that their time is more valuable then yours. Hence the waiting and waiting being entertained by his cronies and their mindless Entertainment/Internet babble. Dude I read WIRED too.
Anywho the head honcho shows up. Looks at my work and proceeds to undo everything my client has asked me to do. A sort of client's client cock block so to speak. After showing zero understanding of what it takes to create what he "wants" he confessed. "I don't understand this world." World meaning this particular type of art and project that he seems keen on making money from.  He proceeded to ask one of his cronies to gather some related media and I quote "download" it to me. Yes download it into me. Do I have a USB jack in my skull? Am I wearing one of those fancy Daft Punk helmets? Does my name start with R2 and end with D2?

Suffice to say the lessons learned in this addition of bitch corner.

Never pitch to the client's client.

Stay away from flat rate gigs.

Always bill for your time including meetings and drive time.

Get a USB jack hardwired into your dome piece. (Fancy Daft Punk helmet optional)

Good Night,


Thursday, February 25, 2010

Lion Ass

I really enjoy Deviant Art. I've always appreciated the site because it provides a platform for any type of artist to show their work and thanks to the web they are able to connect with others who have the same artistic interests. A world wide 24/7 art show and community.

Since I first joined DA I've seen some changes. I've seen how many professionals have decided they need a "presence" on DA and they use it more for self promotion rather than creating and participating in an artistic community. Their approach is very old media. Very one way.

I make
you love and buy

No real discussion and no real participation.

This is all followed by the ubiquitous "I don't have time to reply to everyone's comments" journal entry.

I understand most artists are followers. They see something that works and they jump on it and use it for themselves.

Artists for the most part are thieves.

Not to say that's a bad thing. It just is what it is. Artists have always learned from each other and stolen knowledge since the beginning of time.

The web has just moved it onto a global limitless scale.

The pros have seen the upside of promoting their artwork on DA meanwhile staying aloof and apart from the larger community.

Sad but true.

There are a few things I would prefer never to see again on DA. This is a personal list. Not a value judgment just what I'm tired of

Girls with pierced lips spitting up food coloring with corn syrup simulating blood. It's been done and done again and than done once more.

The underwater Alice and Wonderland photos. The first 28 were great. Time to send them back down the rabbit hole.

The flame sword /weapon gifs. It was cool when it was a sword. It was cool when it was a staff. It jumped the shark when they started writing their names with it.

Black and white photos of the midsection of a stripper with tattoos. Far be it from me to discourage pictures of strippers but at some point it's like Groundhog Day..without Bill Murray and the laughs.

Lastly. Lion Ass. Yes it seems every other day the main page has a picture of an Anthro lion or wolf showing their ass with a come hither look. I'm not saying there isn't an audience for this type of thing but (or should I say "butt") me thinks every other day is a bit much for sexy lion ass. I mean how much lion ass does one need to see before you start taking it for granted?

Just say'n

Have a great day. Time for coffee.

Friday, February 12, 2010

At The Crossroads

For a while creating comics had become very difficult for me. I was so into the process that I would worry about every tiny aspect of what I was doing.

It became a drag. I didn't look forward to creating them anymore. I liked the ideas I was coming up with but I didn't enjoy the process. It had become a burden.

A year or so ago I started trying different things to speed up my process. Working smarter rather than harder on pages and working more towards the final image rather than focusing on what got me there.

I felt liberated.

I started cranking out more work and I felt like the work had more of an edge to it. Some of the grittiness was peaking through and I liked the feel of it.

The farther I went the more I started to add to what I was doing. More color. More detail. More thought.

Little did I know but I was slowly circling back to where I'd been before. I was over thinking my work again. Massaging every aspect of it and stealing the life from the work.

I'm finding that the older I get the more I question my natural instincts. Which is a good thing because I'm finding that sometimes my instincts are pushing me in the same direction over and over again. By questioning those feelings I'm discovering new solutions and new ways to express my ideas. On the other hand I built my whole artistic foundation on those instincts and now I feel like I'm flying blind sometimes. I don't have a net under me and that can be a source of anxiety.

So here I am having a artistic mid life crisis. I'm happy, I'm sad, confused and excited. All I know is that I'm at a crossroads just like when I started. Looking forward to seeing where this new road takes me.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Back From the Land of the Dead

I am back from my 2 day adventure with a clear head and lots of ideas. Found a bit of direction on the long and dark rainy roads.

rain + road + music = creativity

Took many notes. Will be sharing concepts soon.

Now time to sleep.


Wednesday, February 03, 2010

6 Things You Can Do Today To Improve Your Art/Drawing

Sick as a dog today. This is my 3rd illness in 2 months. Yeah need to take vitamin C!

It was pointed out to me that I've become a cranky mother f'er in my old age and I am less than helpful with my advice for younger artists. In the spirit of that I wrote a list of 6 things you can do to improve your art/drawings. A little disclaimer. I'm not a master artist. I've never claimed to be. These tips are
for you to either use or not. They are not the gospel just some tools I've picked up over time. They are made for artists that are just beginning that need a little practical knowledge. Some will take more than a day to master but everyday is a new opportunity to learn.

Use as you see fit.

6. Always Flip Your Drawings.
We have some quirk in our brain that corrects what we see when we draw. If you turn your paper over and look at it on light box or against a window you will notice how off eye lines and perspective in terms of anatomy and environment are. With a few simple corrections on the back of the paper (use a colored pencil it helps you see it better from the other side.) you can flip your page over straighten things out and improve your draftsmanship by leaps and bounds. This is important because as you practice this technique on a subconscious level you begin to see the draftsmanship errors in your work sooner and it improves your inner artistic eye. A must for serious drawers.

 5. Draw With A Ballpoint Pen.
This may sound strange but filling up a sketchbook with ballpoint pen sketches is a fun and easy way to improve your decision making skills as well as refine your hand eye drawing ability. With a pencil we have a tendency to draw multiple line with the intent of erasing and refining them later. With a pen you are forced to make a choice. This will get your observation skills (when drawing that cute boy or girl at Starbucks) in line with your hand coordination. In time this will improve the line quality of your pencil work and speed up your drawing process.

4. Use Reference When Possible.
This should be something every artist does but for some reason it got a bad rap over the years. If you need a specific object let's say a building or a car or a gun go take a picture of it. If you can't take a picture go to the library and get a book about it. If you can't find the book go on the Internet. If you can't find it on the Internet go to Google and download the free simple to use  3d program and build it.  Either way the time you spend referencing the real world object will improve the authenticity of your work. A byproduct is that it will eventually speed you up as you collect more and more reference. Which leads me to...

 3. Create A Morgue File.
All great Illustrators have a reference library. In the past it was called a morgue file. This came from both the newspaper business and through that I believe the term floated to spot/commercial Illustrators and became the name for the reference library In reality the morgue file is a drawer or file cabinet that holds any reference you may need for your artwork. The morgue file is important because it's more than just shots of cars and buildings.  It's your inspiration place. Anything you find in the world that may be of use to you in your art should go in the morgue file. Everything from colors on a napkin to photos ripped from magazines. In fact I recommend trying to collect imagery that is far removed from your own style. It will help you bring fresh ideas into your work. Keeping it organized is great but not essential. I've seen it work both ways.

I keep a file on my desktop called "Son of Crap." It houses random imagery I get from the internet. When I'm tired of my own work I'll drag and drop it into Preview and just sit back and watch lot's interesting images float across the screen. It never fails. Watching all that interesting material leads me to new ideas and get's me revved up to do art again.

The process of creating your morgue file will work two fold. You will expose yourself to new material and you will have a treasure trove of visual material to pull from for reference or inspiration. In turn this will improve your art.

 2. Paint in Grayscale.
When learning to paint there is often a panic about what color to use and how to mix colors. Great paintings are not really about color they are about contrast and the illusion of depth. How do you get depth? Work on refining your sense of shape and tone in gray first. By separating the process you can work out the draftsmanship and depth and than add color to it. This works especially well in digital painting. I always keep an adjustment layer that will turn the piece gray so I can see if the contrast and depth are working. Makes refining your piece easy and keeps you from over painting the highlights.

1. Draw From Life.
This one never gets old. It's been said a million times but I'll say it once more. Draw from life because even if you are a hardcore Mangaka or a Funny Animal artist the illusion of life we
create has to come from some inner reference model or pictures we can reference as we draw. When you draw from life your brain begins to pick up on the subtle bits of information that when put together will inform your artwork and make in convincing in the minds of the viewer. Take life drawing classes or take pictures with your camera phone so you can draw them later. Draw on the bus or at the coffee shop but keep building that reference model in your head. Draw dogs and humans and buildings whatever you see draw it because you never know when you will need to recreate what you've seen in some form in your artistic work. If you are home watching TV draw your living room. Draw a stack of books. Refining your artistic mind is a life long endeavor. Draw it with a ballpoint pen and you will really be smoke'n.

I hope that helps. If you have any questions feel free to drop them in the comments section.

Good luck and good art.

Monday, February 01, 2010

Samurai Billy

I'm working on a short story for a Samurai anthology book I'm putting together. I had one idea worked out but I felt like it was to similar to other ideas people were pitching so I decided to go in a different direction. I always wanted to tell a Samurai story but with a Rock and Roll/Rockabilly sensibility.

From that came...Samurai Billy....which is somewhere between Grease and Ninja Scroll...yeah..it's that strange..

It's still in the design phase but I thought it might be fun to show off some of the rough designs.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Emerald City Blues Issue #2 Pre Orders

As some of you may know I created a comic last year called Emerald City Blues. Emerald City Blues is my post modern take on The Wizard of Oz. ECB started as a one off story for the 24 hour comic day marathon.  In that first 24 hours I had drawn 17 pages and inked 11 of them. After looking at the amount of work I had done I decided I should do something with it and started posting it on the web as a sort of web comic. I ended up getting a really good response to the story and eventually I published the entire first chapter in printed form.

I didn't go through comic stores I sold directly to the readers that had been enjoying the work so far. I was humbled by the amount of support I received on the project. I sold out of issue one and I am now printing issue 2. So look below and enjoy reading my hype text and if you know anybody that would enjoy reading a new comic or they are a long time Wizard of Oz fan than please point them in the direction of my comic.

Pre-Orders for Issue #2 of Emerald City Blues.

Issue #2 Pre-Orders!
Official release date February 29th!
Convention Debut
Emerald City Comic Con 3/13/10

The saga continues as Dorothy and
Tin seek out the Scarecrow for answers.
Meanwhile Glinda reveals there is more
to her plan than ruling Emerald City!

Emerald City Blues is a post modern
take on The Wizard of Oz by
Writer/Artist Karl Altstaetter
(Q-Unit, Deity, Bloodstrike)

Three covers!

Main "Yellow Brick Road" Cover
28 pgs-$5.50 + $4.95 S.H.

Alternate Dorothy Cover
28 pgs with a card stock cover
$10.50 + $4.95 S.H.
Alternate Dorothy Sketch Back Cover
Comes with a custom sketch on the back!
$25.00 + $4.95 S.H.

“Emerald City Comic Con”
Version of Issue#1
Your chance to get the sold out
Issue #1 with an exclusive new cover
made for the Emerald City Comic Con!
28 pgs.
$5.50 + $4.95 S.H.
Sketch version
$25.00 + 4.95 S.H.

Combine shipping! Up to three books
for $4.95!
All versions signed upon request.
Paypal at karl@hyperwerks.com
Retail and large orders contact me at

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Pay Yourself First

There is the old saying when it comes to money "always pay yourself first." Which means always put your savings away before you pay bills. That way you know you will always have something in reserve. It's the reason why we work. To make money for ourselves not constantly spend. Or so I was told..but this is America. Not sure if that holds true anymore.

When it comes to art. "always pay yourself first." What do I mean by that?

I mean do artwork for yourself first.

I'm assuming this is being read by artists that do commercial work. As we all know you can get so caught up in doing work for other people you forget to do your own artwork. Which is what the whole thing is about right?


The most important aspect of doing artwork for yourself is that it's the testing ground for new techniques and new ways of thinking. Often times on commercial gigs you will get asked to do the same thing you've been doing for the last ten years over and over again. Where is the room for innovation and expanding your repertoire of artistic skills.

You've got to pay yourself first. Pay into you bank of artistic skills and refine your imagination.

One way to do this is to be religious about the daily warm up sketch. Set a time limit. 15, 30, 45 mins before you start your daily work and just go off.  Draw or paint whatever comes to mind. This will free your mind and get you in the mood to make art.

Some people dedicate one day a week to learning and trying new things. With life such as it is that's not as easy but if you can manage it all the better.

Take a class. Every Community College has a life drawing class or if you live in LA throw a rock and you will hit a nude model sitting in front of a group of artists.

This morning  I did some personal work to wash the bad taste of a week of tough clients and mindless blood money art out of my mouth.

The lesson I learned today. Calm down and don't rush your own pieces. I had this feeling I was on a deadline. I had to take a step back and remember how to enjoy the process...and enjoy it have.


ECB #2 Alt. Cover Work In Progress

Friday, January 22, 2010

Spawned By The Dozen

Got lots of push back and changes from the clients today.

Changes are the death of a freelancer's margin.

Plain and simple.

Every minute and every hour I spend making changes is time I'm not doing other profitable work or hunting down more money making gigs.

It's a double punch to the sack...uh..so to speak.

It's not like I hack out the work either. I do my best on this stuff.

My biggest weakness as an Illustrator: I'm not a mind reader.

I can't look into a client's mind and see exactly what they want. I just give them what I think they want based on what they say

...but that's about as easy as speaking Dolphin.

I never understand when a client hires you for your particular ability or style and than constantly questions that ability and instinct throughout the process. You can try and walk them through it and be the Politico but at some point it's not about customer service. It's about the client needing to show respect for your time and expertise.

Let the artists do what they are capable of doing.

I know clients are not artists and they can't always give you the information you need up front until they see what you have done first. That being said the relationship is really about me helping you achieve your vision. If you don't know what your vision is until you see it than you should be willing to pay for the time it takes for me to find it for you. Often times the client gets it twisted. They project their frustrations with their own inability to describe what they wanted or know what they wanted with your efforts to "give them what they want."

It becomes less about your artistic ability and more about something nobody has. The ability to read minds. Some clients want your vision and those jobs are easy. They hire you because they see what you do and they want that look for their idea. It's like apple pie with ice cream. It just works.

Others hire you on the strength of your ability and they assume that ability can be shaped into something that it's not. Those are the clients that seem to be spawned by the dozen in the cold brutal final circle of hell where all the showing of teeth and baby eating goes on. 

It's truly a balancing act. I sometimes wish I had a buffer. An account rep that would deal with the nut balls and take all the bullets for me. I don't think I'm bad at interfacing with clients in fact over the years I've gotten pretty good at selling my services. I've also learned that it's not okay for a client to run over you. Which is my second worst ability as an Illustrator. I demand respect for my time and ability.

I'm beginning to wonder if this is really the part of the art business I want to be in. I know that almost all art is commercial. If you sell it or it sells something it's commercial art. I'm not going to escape that. I like the business of art I'm just not sure I like being in the "art hands" business.

Maybe I need to become a bartender. I hear they make good money on tips. Plus I want to toss around vodka like Tom Cruise and the guy from FX in Cocktail..

Don't act like you never saw Cocktail!

Time to rest up. Do some personal work this weekend and than get back to the grind next week.


Thursday, January 21, 2010

Is That A Mouse!?!

It feels like I've been working as much as the rain had been falling in LA.

I was in a slump a couple of weeks ago. Partially brought on by a cold but I've bounced back like a Phoenix rising from the ashes to claim my place amongst the stars!!!!!!!

Okay...the lack of sleep is seeping into my writing. In all seriousness  I have been working a lot. In fact I've been going mostly without sleep for the last few days. Which has it's side effects.

This morning I was getting out of the shower and I swore I saw a white mouse. I looked down and it was a tiny piece of tissue paper.

Starting to feel like Al Pacino in Insomnia. Things are getting twitchy.

Ironically the more my body gets tired out the more I'm able to focus on art. My body relaxes and stops wanting to go out into the world and enjoy stupid things like sunlight and human interaction. It settles down. My primal art mind kicks in and pretty soon I have 5 pages done.

No wonder I like drawing at night.

It's cooler.


Nobody to bother you with offers of food and companionship.

I have another 12 hours in me before I wrap up this weeks work and surrender to the weekend and some much needed sleep.

Is that a mouse!?!?


it was a renegade cable bill.

Back to work.

Designs for a Rev. Run from RUN DMC animation pitch.