My 2016 Christmas card

Dan Holst Soelberg - 2016 Christmas cardIf someone can tell me how to have more time in a day I am all ears. I’m not talking about wanting to cram more activities into a day, I’m literally talking about having more time. I’ve been thinking about this—if I could add about six more hours to every day I would have just enough time to do everything I want. That’s all. Just an extra six hours. If you know how, let me know.

Speaking of non-existent segues, it’s time to unveil my new Christmas card. I’m excited! It’s been a couple of years since my last Christmas card and I’ve had requests for something new. So, I dug deep into my cavernous well of ideas and sketches. Here’s what came out:

Dan Holst Soelberg - Cover of my 2016 Christmas card

Cover of my 2016 Christmas card

Dan Holst Soelberg - inside 2016 Christmas card

And open the card to reveal the horrors that await smiling, candy cane loving children. (click image to enlarge)

What better way to say “bless you on this sacred holiday” than the image of bones in the snow and the threat of bodily harm from a mutant tree? I wrote the poem and sketched this idea a while back but it didn’t feel resolved.

Dan Holst Soelberg - 2016 Christmas card

Left to right: Initial sketch of the card front; Original sketch of the axe-wielding tree monster; Revised tree monster with enormous hands instead of the axe. Without the weapon, I wanted his facial expression to be more animated. The ruled lines are drawn to help me figure out the layout, and to transfer elements to the final artwork.

The tree holding the axe didn’t feel quite right. The image is just a little too close to the axe-wielding boy in my headless snowmen card, so I kept sketching until this monster with huge grappling hands emerged.

Because I was strapped for time (seriously, six extra hours every day would be awesome…even just five!) I had to change up my usual process and find ways to speed it up. First, I drew it at 100% scale. Like most artists, I usually draw at a larger scale, but when time’s valuable, a smaller drawing translates to less time.

Second, I really felt that colour was important for this card (rather than my signature black and white). I like watercolour, but it can be finicky and time-consuming. I recently bought a drawing tablet for the purpose of speeding up my process, but for some reason it wasn’t giving me the results I wanted. So, after a few frustrating minutes of failed attempts, I ditched the tablet for my trusty Apple cordless mouse. It did exactly what I wanted and the result is satisfying. I like how the Photoshop watercolour brush can be adjusted to work like the real thing. The happy accidents feel and look remarkably natural. And if a brush stroke isn’t working, it’s such a fantastic feeling to command+z my way out of it!

The card is available for order on my online shop, and I’ll start shipping them out next week. If you want yours in time for Christmas, please place your order now at this link. If you’d rather buy directly from me, just send me an email at dhsoelberg(at)gmail.com.

Dan Holst Soelberg - 2016 Christmas card

Here is the completed pen drawing before applying colour on the computer. Notice the misspelling of “dear”. Photoshop can do wonders! (click image to enlarge)

Dan Holst Soelberg - 2016 Christmas card

Here is the final product, with the silhouettes completing the 3-act play, and punctuating the punchline. (click image to enlarge)

If you want to buy from me personally, you can tomorrow! As mentioned in a previous post, I’ll be selling my wares at Frost Bite in Toronto on Sunday, December 11 at 11am to 8pm. It’s at Pia Bouman School for Ballet, 6 Noble Street, Toronto.

Click here to go to the event’s official facebook page. You can also go to the website for more information: http://theBazaarofTheBizarre.org/

 

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Chicago trip, 2017 Calendar & new prints for Frost Bite

Life’s been treating me fairly well and keeping me far too occupied. Recently, I took an overdue trip to Chicago with my family.

danholstsoelberg_chicago_trip3It’s been more than just a bucket list destination. So many reasons to go and far too many things to do in that blustery city. “Windy City” is not just a cute nickname.

danholstsoelberg_chicago_trip4The famous Chicago Skydeck was not-so-cutely closed when I went due to high winds. Trust me, that little diversion didn’t deprive me of a Chicagorific adventure.

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Left to right: Art Institute of Chicago; Georges Seurat’s painting “A Sunday on La Grande Jatte”; The L Train was a convenient 5-minute walk from our hotel and took us right into the heart of Chicago

I was fortunate to visit the Art Institute of Chicago, but in retrospect I wish I’d had more time to take in the staggering number of exhibits. I had my own Cameron Frye moment with the famous Seurat masterpiece. It’s only now that I’m home that I seriously regret not going to The Green Mill, a renowned Chicago hot-spot for Jazz lovers. Then again, I don’t know how kid-friendly the place is and I was carting two under-aged offspring. I think a parents-only revisit is something I must plan soon.

In announcements, I am very happy to have the 2017 Shadow Abuse calendar restocked and available in my Storenvy shop.

The first printing sold out quickly! The new calendar features large-scale reproductions of pages from the book Shadow Abuse, and if you have the 2016 calendar, I assure you these are all different. If you visit my shop, you’ll also see several new full-scale signed reproductions of drawings from Shadow Abuse. And in response to requests, the “headless snowmen” artwork from my Christmas greeting card is now a signed print. Click here to see it.

In upcoming events, I’m taking part in the very-soon-to-happen Frost Bite show in Toronto. Expect to see lots of wonderful things to delight your soul and make holiday gift purchasing easy for you. I’m aiming to unveil a brand new Christmas card that conveys the sentiment that I think we all need during the holidays. I’ll post a peek here just before the show starts. Frost Bite happens Sunday, December 11 at 11am to 8pm. Once again, it’s at Pia Bouman School for Ballet, 6 Noble Street, Toronto.

Click here to go to the event’s official facebook page. You can also go to the website for more information: http://theBazaarofTheBizarre.org/

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My dream of making greeting cards has come true!

I fantasize about working for Hallmark making greeting cards, but I’m sure the job in my head doesn’t resemble reality. My twisted mass of grey matter imagines a vast open office space, and my spot in front of a large window. I’m sitting atop a tall stool under a swing-arm lamp clamped to a drafting table. I start Monday morning with my steaming cup of coffee, giggling as I sketch out my latest greeting card ideas. After lunch, I present my ideas to the creative group in a long room at the head of an equally long table and we choose the most promising ones that I will develop throughout the week. At the end of Friday I put my finished artwork boards in an oversized orange envelope and drop it on the office mail cart for the reproduction department. At 5pm I switch off my lamp, fold my jacket over my arm, and whistle happily as I skip to my car.

I know, it’s kind of a boring fantasy. Don’t judge!

Headless snowmen greeting card by Dan Holst Soelberg

The front of my headless snowmen Christmas card. See what’s written inside here: http://danholstsoelberg.storenvy.com/

The reality is I don’t have a job at Hallmark, but I decided to go ahead and make greeting cards anyway. I started a couple years back with my headless snowmen Christmas card. It’s been a consistent hit with multiple reprints. I think it’s the message written inside that has captured the essence of the holiday season. Click here to look inside. I then created a couple of birthday cards that went over well and prompted many requests for more. Well, since I have this little Hallmark job fantasy, I was happy to oblige! Without further ado, here are my latest birthday cards available for purchase now:

Dan Holst Soelberg don't look your age Birthday Card - cover

Dan Holst Soelberg don't look your age Birthday Card

You can buy this card at my online shop: http://danholstsoelberg.storenvy.com/

Dan Holst Soelberg give you a hand Birthday Card

To see what’s written inside the card, click here: http://danholstsoelberg.storenvy.com/

Dan Holst Soelberg kill two birds birthday card

To see what’s written inside the card, click here: http://danholstsoelberg.storenvy.com/

Dan Holst Soelberg don't age any more Birthday Card

To see what’s written inside the card, click here: http://danholstsoelberg.storenvy.com/

Dan Holst Soelberg Octopus Bard

To see what’s written inside the card, click here: http://danholstsoelberg.storenvy.com/

 

If you want to browse my birthday card collection in person, I’ll be at Art-O-Con in Burlington this Sunday. It’s located at 3063 South Service Rd, Burlington. I’ll have all my books, prints, 2017 calendars (yes, I reprinted!) and other things available.

Admission is $8 for adults, $2 for kids aged 12 and under. There will be over 90 vendors there. You can see some of the other vendors at the official Art-O-Con news site.

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Thanks to all the wonderful fans who support my work!

This is dedicated to the Fan Expo fans

This year’s Fan Expo took place the first weekend of September, and I would be remiss if I didn’t give some seriously earned kudos to all the people who attended. The Expo organizers deserve a shout-out for doing their usual event-hosting magic, but let’s give due credit to all the devoted fans who bring their energy, enthusiasm and excitement! Please accept this as my humble offering of most sincere gratitude. This message is devoted to you. I am your biggest fan!

Dan Holst Soelberg with Emma at Fan Expo

Dan Holst Soelberg with Emma at Fan Expo

Emma bought a book and was kind enough to come back the next day for more. Thank you!

My first ever event/expo as a vendor was Fan Expo Toronto 2012. At the time, I had a couple self-published books to my name and I thought Fan Expo might help me find kindred souls who enjoyed macabre humour as much as me. Maybe I’d make a buck while I was at it to fund my creation factory. Four years later and five consecutive Fan Expos later, I am a believer in the Expo. And I appreciate the amazing people who share my weird, dark humour and have bought my offbeat creations.

The lovely Jaime with six-year-old Grey (left) and three-year-old Shaw (right).

The heart the operations, Jaime, with six-year-old Grey (left) and three-year-old Shaw (right).

Of course, my family gets a big chunk of my gratitude. For the past couple of years, my wife Jaime has joined me on Thursday with my son Grey. Grey had to get used to the crowds and the noise, but he always settles into the Expo groove. Since last year he has been a Minecraft fanatic, attracted to anything and everything Minecraft related. It’s because of him that I have Stampy’s voice on perma-loop in my brain. It’s been a huge education for me. This year was first time we brought Shaw, my daughter. It was amazing to see her immediately take to the Expo like it was home! She is a natural-born party girl, and the Expo is her scene. Cosplay is definitely Shaw’s jam. The look on her face when she first saw Spider-Man in person was priceless. Pointing and shouting “It’s Spider-Man, look! It’s Spider-Man!!!”. The pure joy rushing through her was palpable and contagious.

visitors to Dan Holst Soelberg's table

The Thompsons: Stacey, Maggie and Gord.

Visits from old friends are always a welcome and exciting surprise for me. It was a special treat to see the Thompson family this year. And, if you’ve visited me the last couple of Expos you’ll be familiar with my table partner Alexandria. Alex is an amazing friend and purveyor of exquisite taste. She turned me onto Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki. “This One Summer” has a special place in my heart.

Beetle Juice and Spiderman. Side by side, naturally.

Beetle Juice and Spider-Man. Side by side, naturally.

Fan Expo is inspiring for me. Meeting the people who actually like what I do is both an honour and humbling. It gives me the drive to keep going. For everyone who took time out of their busy Fan Expo day to visit me, thank you.

The constant stream of people that move through the Metro Toronto Convention Centre all weekend long.

The constant stream of people moving through the Metro Toronto Convention Centre all weekend long.

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Shadow Abuse Awareness Month

October is sneaking up on us once again. For some inexplicable reason, many people don’t realize that October is Shadow Abuse Awareness Month. I’m not sure why Shadow Abuse Awareness isn’t trending as the most important topic right now. I mean, our Prime Minister wrote that beautiful, touching poem, and Adele sang her heart-wrenching “Abuse of Shadows” ballad with Kanye West and Willie Nelson. And the countless celebrities baring it all in those powerful youtube vines in the name of Shadow Abuse Awareness. Anyway, I’m here to announce that I’m doing my part. I know it’s only September but I’m starting early: I have launched an exhibition of original art in Toronto:

Dan Holst Soelberg Shadow Abuse Art Exhibition - Invitation

I brought my artwork on Sunday to Vesuvio Pizzeria & Spaghetti House with my radical revolutionary wife Jaime. I am super excited to share my passion for this worthy cause. My activist artwork is on the walls of Vesuvio’s until October 16th. Please come to the restaurant with protest signs and shouty voices. I’m not advocating that you streak naked in front of the restaurant waving a giant Shadow Abuse Awareness banner and post videos of the whole thing, but if that happens for some reason, please share your link with me here and on Facebook. We all must do our part. Peace out and rock on!

Dan Holst Soelberg Shadow Abuse Art Exhibition

Dan Holst Soelberg Shadow Abuse Art Exhibition

Dan Holst Soelberg Shadow Abuse Art ExhibitionDan Holst Soelberg Shadow Abuse Art Exhibition

Dan Holst Soelberg Shadow Abuse Art Exhibition


Shadow Abuse By Dan Holst SoelbergPlease help fund my campaign for this worthy cause. Buy your copy of Shadow Abuse from my online shop.

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Fan Expo 2016 starts today

I’m heading to the Toronto Metro Convention Centre this afternoon for Fan Expo! Once again, I’m at booth A265 in the Artist’s Alley. I’m super excited to share all my new birthday cards. I’ve got new signed prints available by request from fans. I’m also bringing my brand new 2017 calendar with artwork from my book Shadow Abuse. I’ll post more photos as the convention goes on. Hope to see you there! Click here for all the information about the event at Fan Expo’s official website.

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Front of my new “Octopus Bard” birthday card. No birthday is complete without an octopus, in my opinion.

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And here’s the inside of the card. It had to be an ink gag!

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Soelberg family portrait

2015 Soelberg Family Portrait drawing pen

Drawing of the Soelberg family based on photos taken January 2015.

I guess it’s pretty obvious that I find the usual posed portraits kind of dull. I had this idea for a family portrait on my bed in January of 2015. I got the whole family on the bed, took the photos and picked the expressions that seemed to best reveal our moods and personalities. Just as I was about to make the drawing, I was consumed by distraction. Then other priorities took over, and mounting distractions filled my days until the drawing was literally buried under papers. I dug it out last month, finished the pencil drawing and inked it. Getting the personality and expression right is deeply satisfying. When I’m drawing from life, and especially portraits, every line of permanent ink is an exciting act of bravery. It’s a commitment. I’m sure tattoo artists get that same thrill with every bit of ink they commit to flesh.

On a related note, I was contacted just this week by someone wondering if I do commissioned drawings and portraits. Yes I do! Please contact me at dhsoelberg@gmail.com with inquiries. I’ll post a gallery of past commissions to my site soon.

2015 Soelberg Family Portrait progress drawing pencil ink

Here’s a progress shot. Pencil drawing is done and I’ve just started the basic inking.

2015 Soelberg Family Portrait (upside down) drawing

Here’s an upside down view of the drawing

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