The Art of “I Am Extra Special” Childrens’ Books

During my career as a freelance illustrator, I worked on two children’s kids for the I Am Extra Special brand – which specialises in awareness of sex education for children, and the different methods of having children. It was definitely a project I enjoyed and I thought I’d share some of the work in progress and sketches from the books.

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If you want to buy a copy of the books, email Belinda Messer directly at: belmesser(at)icloud(dot)com, as there is now only a limited supply left! 😀

Art Traveller – Location: Cockatoo Island

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I stayed in Sydney for the majority of May living with a couple of friends, and used the time to catch up on finishing some personal paintings as well as explore around. One of the places I went to that was the most inspiring was Cockatoo Island. It is a small heritage site in Sydney Harbour that has a lot of buildings that were built in different time periods which make it even more interesting.

Really want to do some paintings referencing a lot of what I saw there. I recommend if you’re in Sydney and want some artistic environment inspiration to visit it. It’s only 20 minutes from Circular Quay – and make sure to take your camera with you for textures 😀 Here are some that I took.

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Art Traveller – Location: Sydney

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  1. Watermelon Cake in Newtown.
  2. Chinatown and N2 Icecream.
  3. Catching the Ferries in Sydney Harbour.
  4. Living the apartment lifestyle with friends right in the heart of the city.
  5. COFFEE.
  6. Cockatoo Island – literally feels like an island that Miyazaki invaded.
  7. Ippudo – one of the best Japanese restaurants I’ve tried in Australia.
  8. Rainy nights and painting with the company of cats. Then said cats steal your blanket.
  9. Vivid Light Festival – creativity and inspiration.
  10. North Head Cliffs in Manly.

I enjoyed Sydney, however feel the busy and overcrowded atmosphere wasn’t suited for me and staying in the CBD felt claustrophobic personally because I missed seeing nature, the blue skies and being out in the open – which is better for my wellbeing. A nice place to visit family and friends, but in terms of living I don’t see myself settling down there in the future. I managed to get a lot of work done here though which was nice!

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Demo for AIE in Melbourne.

Because my buddy Diego Aguilar is a pretty awesome dude (thanks man), I was invited to come into Academy of Interactive Entertainment in Melbourne to do a quick demo for the students studying at the college. I started with a 3D block that Diego supplied and showed the students how I would paint it up.

Was really awesome hanging out with the students and showing them a bit of the process, and talking about what’s happening in the entertainment industry. Here’s the painting I did, with the steps. A really great experience!

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Art Traveller – Location: Melbourne

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  1. Public transport is SO GOOD.
  2. Graffiti is everywhere. On all the buildings, the alleyways, signs and shops. And it’s embraced and celebrated as part of the culture. That’s got to be the best thing any city has ever done. It’s makes everything very artistic.
  3. Every single coffee I had was amazing. And I’m not exaggerating, there weren’t any average ones – EVERY SINGLE CUP made me go, ‘So goooooood!’
  4. I stayed in the area of Hawthorn, which feels really safe and was nice to explore.
  5. I spent most of my money on food. And only bought a coat. And did 2 weeks worth of yoga. But food. FOOD IS AMAZING. AND AFFORDABLE.
  6. Do the Yarra Trail. Seriously. It’s so beautiful. I felt like I was in Middle Earth. It was an awesome experience and so much inspiration being in nature. My feet hurt a ton after.
  7. Also yes, the weather is SO UNPREDICTABLE. AND COLD. HUARGH.
  8. Japanese food is great, Spud Bar is a thing, Fro-yo is everywhere and ‘dirty-chai latte’ is one of the best drinks.
  9. Melbourne was hipster before hipster was even a thing.
  10. Everyone dresses fashionably and interestingly. It’s like each person has a character.

Melbourne has definitely lived up to its reputation. I also think what made it really awesome was hanging out with some cool people while I stayed there. It made the visit so much fun. One of my favourite cities to date. (BONUS: try find the kookaburra in the tree!)

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High School Workshop – CDW Studios

I was given the lovely opportunity from the awesome people of CDW Studios to teach a 2-Day Digital Painting Workshop for high school students in mid-April. Here’s the thing: this was so surreal to me because CDW were the people that got me into concept art a few years ago – when I attended their first workshop in Sydney, and it opened my eyes to the industry and what concept art and illustration was all about. So going back to them as a teacher is too humbling. When Simon Scales asked me to come down, I was ecstatic and said yes!

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The school itself in Myer Centre in the middle of Adelaide reminded me of Concept Design Academy a lot, and I totally recommend it to artists who are thinking of studying there in the future. The teachers are friendly, they have a great foundational course and a lot of the students there are great as well as super friendly!

The workshop went well and it was awesome hanging out with a few of the CDW students, and seeing some of the high-schoolers and where they were at in their artistic journey. A lot of them reminded me of myself when I was first starting out, so it was really endearing to see. Teaching is also something I discovered that I really like! (when it’s to do with art, of course).

Here’s some of the works that I did during the workshop for the students.

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A big thankyou to Simon Scales and the people of CDW Studios for inviting me down to Adelaide for such a lovely experience. Check out CDW Studios website and their Facebook Page.

Where have you been, Jess?

Hey. Good question.

Over a month ago, I made the step and decided to sell and give away all my possessions at home, keeping only the essentials and packed my life into a suitcase. It started when I was given an offer from CDW Studios to teach a short 2-day workshop at their school in Adelaide in April, and because that occurred, it was almost a light bulb moment, where I thought – instead of returning home to Perth after the workshop, this could be the first step into venturing out there into the world.

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So I made plans, researched a lot and asked advice from good friends who already had experience or were already doing this. This whole living-from-a-suitcase-while-freelancing-art. I’ve been asked a lot why I decided to make the move to do this, and the main reason is because well…I want to explore the world.

There is literally so much out there, and I don’t think people truly can fathom it unless they experience it in person. Photos of places on the internet don’t tell the full story. I wanted to go beyond that. By being there in person, breathing the environment, feeling the scale and the size of it and realising how small you are in this world. Meeting and becoming friends with people, and seeing how they live in an environment that’s completely different to your own, and getting around by navigating and exploring. Doing it all yourself. Solo.

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Yes, it’s scary. Yes, most people wouldn’t do it. That just gave me more incentive to do it. Because for me, it felt so right. What was the alternative: moving out and staying somewhere in Perth? Why that, when I could travel instead? Dude, come on. I had to do this.

I got a taste of it when I travelled to the United States over a year ago, this time though instead of it being 3 months, I wanted this to be a long term thing. When I found out that it was possible, and that there are others already doing this, it gave me the confidence to put what I dreamed of into action.

I should mention first though that I’m a bit unusual. Most people already have commitments to their home, like family, jobs and employment, partners and relationships. For others, those come first to them and that’s totally understandable. Everyone is in different situations.

For me, I have no attachments to Perth, except for my family and some close friends (who I can always go back and visit, ‘cause they’re cool). And I do my work on the internet. Location isn’t a thing for me, as long as I have a wifi connection, I can make enough to feed myself and move around. Therefore I’d be an idiot to say no to doing something like this.

So I did it.

I travelled to Adelaide, then Melbourne and am currently in Sydney. It’s been a bit of a ride, with ups and downs and getting used to this lifestyle, but hey. Right now: it’s going amazing.

Really looking forward to sharing with you guys what I get up to while I’m on the road. And hope that it inspires others. Stay tuned!

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The journey so far…

Achievement Unlocked: Charity Stream was a Success!

In which the 24hr Charity Stream for Pencils of Promise opened up my heart and threw all my expectations out the window.


On Valentine’s Day, for 24 hours, I streamed online from 12pm to 12pm the next day, painting the whole way to help raise awareness and do something for a good cause. It was one of the most mentally and physically challenging things I’ve ever done, but completely and utterly worth it.

As a community of people coming together, we raised $1050.00 altogether, which which ends up equating to giving 42 children a year’s worth of education (or 1 child for 42 years…but that doesn’t make sense). 42 children!! That’s A LOT! And who knows! One of those kids may end up being a badass artist because they got the opportunity.

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I want to thank every single one of you that donated. You are the ones that made this possible, I don’t claim any credit for it – I only put the fundraiser together and threw it out there (and did the strange thing of streaming for 24hrs and nearly killing myself in the process). It’s all of you, you guys did this and I’m so thankful and so proud! It shows that I can rely on you guys, even though at first it was really scary putting this out there, but because you all have that heart and same mindset it was a success. As a community we can bring goodness to this world through the little bits we can.

A special thanks to all the awesome donators:

Screen shot 2015-02-17 at 5.37.54 PMYou know who you guys are (have kept names simplified for privacy reasons). You are the ones that made this possible. Thankyou so much! (James T is also the winner of the free print so yay!)

I can’t wait to do another charity event with you guys, so here’s to the future!

If you’d like to watch the recording of the livestream, you can view them on my Youtube channel by clicking the thumbnail below (it’ll take you to the playlist of all 3 videos, they’re like +7hrs long).

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As for the paintings I did in the stream: here are the ones I did in the last 5 hours where I was at breaking point. I would reveal the 3 Zelda paintings I did during the stream, but I’m reworking them to get them to the same quality standard as the rest I’ve finished, and they’ll be released consecutively week by week online in the future. For now, I hope this quenches your art thirst!

Have a good one, and stay awesome.

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Charity Stream for Valentine’s Day!

In which I found out charity stuff can be difficult and tough, but in the end whatever happens is okay in the end, because it’s for a good cause. 


So it’s happening! This Saturday I’m doing a 24 hour Art Livestream to help raise funds for charity. All the proceeds go to Pencils of Promise, an organisation dedicated to building schools for children around the world that haven’t got access to education.

Art is everything to me. It’s my life, my career, my passion, the thing that keeps me up at night. I live and breathe it everyday. My first drawing was a stick figure family portrait that I drew in my Dad’s office when he was working overtime. I was five years old. That was the earliest I remember picking up a pencil and drawing.

Some kids don’t even know the fun and creative magic of drawing because they don’t have access to a good education in their country. And thinking of all those kids that could have turned and transformed into amazing artists and given their creative spark to the world really makes me want to do something. I want to help even if it’s just one kid get a good education and be able to have the opportunity to know what the magic of drawing and painting is.

Please support me if you can by donating to the fundraiser page! (Over here)(or this link) Even if it’s a dollar, it’s the thought that counts more. All for a good cause yay! Even if it’s $1 every cent makes a difference. Just $25 allows Pencils of Promise to give a child access to education for one year. So together with your support, we’ll have the opportunity to make someone’s life better! 

The Stream will start 12pm on Valentine’s Day, and will go ’til 12pm the next day! (24 hours!) The stream will begin on Youtube here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IveKMPCBpUM

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As well as this I’m doing a giveaway where a randomly picked donator will receive a Free Signed Print of Forest Temple (the first painting in the Zelda series I’m doing)! It’ll be postage paid too. To enter to be able to win it, all you have to do is donate any amount to the charity page and that’s it (oh and also with your name, so I can comment and tell you that you’ve won!)

I hope you can donate, even if it’s a little it goes a long way and shows that we can make a difference (even if it’s by giving up one cup of coffee for the day). Otherwise thanks guys! And looking forward to seeing you at the stream! 😀

 

 

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 (Click here for Charity Page to Donate)

What Happened with Zelda Forest Temple.

In which I try to comprehend how amazing things in life can come about. And to keep giving the best effort possible. 


So.

Last week was insane.

And completely unexpected. But I’m glad things have calmed down now.

For those of you that may have missed out, the recent Zelda Forest Temple painting I did for my personal redesign project of Zelda ended up getting a lot of exposure on the Internet. It got front page of Reddit and Imgur, with over 600k views in one day, and also got featured on Kotaku the day after. I have to say, it was a really overwhelming experience as it was something I didn’t expect to happen after the first painting (which is why I’m making it a series of 10 paintings, but the first one seemed to explode before I could comprehend it). The reason why I started this series of paintings is to help improve my environment concept art skills, and also to share my admiration of the Zelda games to the fans who love it so much.

I also want to mention a big thanks to Dave Rapoza, Dan Warren and James Zapata for encouraging me to do something like this, otherwise I would have continued to do work that I didn’t enjoy instead of taking the big step and opening new doors that this has created for me.

If you’re new to my website, and this is your first time coming here after you saw my artwork, I wanna say hi and a big thanks! I’m truly grateful to the people that supported and shared the artwork, because without you guys, it wouldn’t have spread and be seen around the Internet for everyone to enjoy. So thankyou! I hope you stick around.

As a result of this exposure, I ended up being approached by quite a few people, which makes everything even more spectacular. One of them being the awesome guys at ZeldaInformer, which is a really large website for the fan community of The Legend of Zelda. They are known for their professionalism and integrity and when they approached me for an interview, I had to say yes. If you want to read the interview I did with them, you can read it here. They’re awesome people, and I can’t wait to collaborate more with them.

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Since this is only the beginning of the painting series I’m doing, I’m a little nervous to sharing the next ones as I know there is now an audience waiting for it and expectations of people may be conflicting because people will be making comparisons and judgements to the first one. However, I’m going to do my best and give them my best shot, and hope people like them! I started this series because I enjoy the process of painting what I imagine the world would look like, and I’m going to keep that same positive energy going. I’m looking forward to sharing the next ones with you guys!

(Also, if the rumour is true, I hope Netflix approaches me. Pretty pleeeease Netflix!)

In other news, an awesome upcoming event that I’m creating this week too is  a 24 hour Livestream for Charity on Valentine’s Day. I’ll be painting the Zelda artworks for 24 hours straight on Youtube (which breaks in between of course – the video recordings will be divided into 3 parts). I will also be trying to bring on some people into the stream as guests. The charity I’m hoping to donate all proceeds of the stream will be one to support children (I’ve contacted one I’m interested and am waiting to get the go ahead with them). I will post an official announcement when I’ve got the get-go going, and hope you tune in to the stream! Painting for a good cause to express our love to people around the world.

And a gift for you guys. Because you’re awesome and have subscribed to my website, as a gift, I’m going to show only you a teaser of the next painting that I’ll be posting on Wednesday. Keep it a secret 😉 I can only show a crop without spoiling it, but I really hope you guys like it.

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Take a guess at what location it is in Hyrule.

And with that, I hope you are having a fantastic week. Stay awesome and keep being fabulous.