Very happy news! Two pieces were selected for American Illustration’s 38th annual. Out of 7000 pieces, 368 were chosen. It’s always a good day to be selected for American Illustration because their annual has a reputation for showcasing the most exciting work in illustration. Much thanks to the judges for this honor.
Dear Diary: James Yang’s first look at The Masters. Client: Golf Digest. AD: Ken Delago
September. Client: Konica Minolta. AD: Kenny Eicher
Art Director, Ken Delago called last year with a dream assignment. Golf Digest wanted me to be the artist for the 2018 Masters Tournament as part of their First Look series. Each year Golf Digest Sends an illustrator to Augusta National to experience the masters and create an 8 page series of illustrations based on your first impressions. Ironically I am the first illustrator who golfs whom they’ve sent in 14 years and this was the assignment of my dreams. Many legendary illustrators and friends of mine who are insanely talented have done this gig and it was exciting and frightening at the same time. Not only did they ask for art, they also asked me to write a humorous story.
The story and art are now out with the 2019 Masters Preview issue and I have been grateful for the positive reaction from readers for both the art and the story.
Much thanks to Ken Delago and Editor in Chief Jerry Talde for making my dreams come true. You can read the story online at Golf Digest.
One of the funner challenges is creating art for the Opinion Section of the New York Times. The deadlines are famously short, you may have deadlines as short as 3 hours to pull something off and it needs to be compelling and thoughtful. It helps to have smart art directors like Hannah K Lee and John Custer. The art, article, and design happen at the same time. The designer may change the layout based on your sketches or the story has been revised so your specs are fluid. The art also needs to work for both print and web. The career has come full circle as I have updated a line oriented approach used at the beginning of my career since it allows illustrations to be executed quickly. It’s been a fun trip creating art as fast as the news for this rising generation of art directors.
This is fun. Today at Apple will have a Live art with James Yang session this Thursday, 6:30pm. Here’s the link to sign up. We’ll draw on iPad Pros with Pencils and I’ll talk about how a first grade teacher trashing the my drawing of a duck was an early clue that I might be an artist. We’ll use trees as an example of how simple shapes and elements can be used to communicate a variety of ideas. Please sign up and see you this Thursday!
This was my first year participating at the Brooklyn Museum Children’s Book Fair. It is a wonderful chance for the community to meet artists and authors and even I was shocked at the level of talent who lives in Brooklyn. Bus! Stop! had a very good day and sold out in the first hour. Next year I promise to have more copies of Bus! Stop! along with my new book, Stop! Bot! which will be available in the summer of 2019.
photo: Melinda Beck
Emceeing ICON10 -The Illustration Conference in Detroit was both a thrilling and frightening experience. The reaction from attendees and speakers went beyond my dreams and it was fun pretending to be a talk show host for two days. A wrong step here or there could have made it an awkward time for all. Thank god it turned out well and I still have a career!
After time to reflect, here are nuggets of advice from myself and others which could help you crush as emcee if you’re lucky enough to get a call:
An emcee needs to be visible and invisible at the same time: My wife is a performer and choreographer who has emceed many award shows. She said never try to prove that you are clever or brilliant. Emceeing is about focusing on others. When talking about yourself, make it relate to the audience. Mrs Yang was spot on. More than one attendee said they liked how my emceeing wasn’t about me. Some even mentioned how they were turned off by emcees who try to be comic geniuses or purposely outrageous. A performer at the conference told me you have 3 minutes to win an audience. Thank god I learned this after my opening monologue.
Research is good: After getting the call, I binged YouTube videos of my favorite talk show and podcast hosts and read their thoughts about a successful show. Past emcees for ICON used costumes, props, or scripted pieces which are not my thing. I’m more comfortable as an old school host where I ad lib jokes and move things along. I’m not saying you can’t use props, it’s about finding an approach which feels genuine. More than once I used something learned from talk show hosts.
Don’t force funny: The best advice from my favorite hosts was don’t try to be funny, be yourself. Let reactions and jokes come from an honest place. The jokes I made from honest reactions received the biggest laughs. There was a moment when I tried to channel Chris Rock and it didn’t work. When I went back to being myself, the audience responded. If a joke doesn’t work, don’t panic and try to compensate. Let it pass and wait for the next pitch. Sometimes a comment which makes people smile is enough especially for those of us who are not performers.
Have a few anecdotes in your back pocket. Everyone has anecdotes they love to tell. Use your stories when there is a technical glitch or need to stretch a segment. My mind went blank on the second day and I pulled out a personal story. No one noticed the mental reboot onstage.
Slow down a beat when you talk: I’m a fast talker so this is a great note. When I slowed down a beat, the mind was able to relax and this came across onstage.
Let speakers know you’re nervous too. They will appreciate it. A highlight of emceeing ICON is having a brief moment to chat with speakers before they went onstage. Many were nervous so I would share that I felt the same. They appreciate it. It’s also good to give them a verbal pat on the back before they hit the stage.
Move things along: An Emcee is a transition from one talk to another. If transitions seems abrupt between talks that’s a bad thing. The best compliment received was ICON10 was a smooth conference.
It was a blast pretending I was a talk show host and I will always be grateful to ICON and Presidents Len Small and Julie Murphy.
Thanks for letting me be the popular kid at summer camp.