I originally met Jeff of Handmade Family and Red Herring Illustration on DeviantArt. He’s a super nice and funny guy, and awesome artist with two beautiful, little daughters. In this blog post, he tells us about his art, his family, and his life. What a treat!!
One of the greatest things about growing up a fan of Science Fiction and Fantasy in the 80′s was that I was there to be shocked as Flynn was pulled into the digital world in “Tron,” I could be jealous of Alex Rogan when he was recruited by Star Command in “The Last Starfighter,” I cheered when the Ghostbusters defeated Gozer the Gozerian. The wonderful thing about being an illustrator is that I’m no longer merely a spectator, but am now a part of bringing exciting stories like these to life. As a stay-at-home dad, crafter, illustrator, web-comicer, and homesteader, I try to bring this love of storytelling to my everyday life.
In 2004, my wife and I moved from a small town in the middle of Missouri to Saint Louis…well the edge of Saint Louis, anyway. Ha-ha-ha! With the move also came a transition from doing art as a hobby to doing it as a job. I started Red Herring Illustration as an outlet for t-shirt and animation design, but quickly moved to role-playing games, and document design for the entertainment industry. It’s important to me to be able to make a variety of things, and to constantly improve my technique. Working with games allows me to tackle subject matter that I may not consider on my own. Doing personal projects allows me to further develop my skills by experimenting within the confines of my interests. Taking up art for a career meant that I needed to learn to manage time (and invoices) as well as learning the value of the work. When we’re in school, mostly we do art for recognition, and it’s something we’d be doing anyway so it’s easy to just give it away. Once we move out into the workforce though, it’s important to make a living and defend the value that our product holds for our clients.
I feel really fortunate to have the type of job where I can spend all day with my kids and still do the work I enjoy. We play, act, and work together all day. They tell me stories and show me things through the games they play. I read them books and teach them about being responsible citizens through example. We have a wonderful group of friends that make things and are always happy to see the children, which helps reinforce their security and sense of identity. Storytelling is a big part of my life, but so is community. I’m amazed at some of the friends I’ve made through conversations and stories that we share on the web through pictures, drawings, tweets and comments. Adding to these is part of the reason that we decided to move the business out of our basement and into the real world. In the spring of 2011, My wife Amy and I decided to join the local indie-craft community and formed Handmade Family. Using our backgrounds in art and education we create back-to-basics gifts and toys that promote imaginative play, problem solving, comfort and creativity. Looking at our world, we saw a need for high quality, engaging toys for children which acknowledge their desire for good design. Two great examples of this philosophy are Sesame Street and Mr. Rogers Neighborhood. Between the two of them they provide a mix of subversive learning without being afraid of mayhem, teaching by example, and simply telling the truth.
Handmade Family: http://www.handmadefamily.com
On the Web as Redherringjeff