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Showing posts with label COPMI. Show all posts
Showing posts with label COPMI. Show all posts

City of Ottawa Grant Support


Cover of the City of Ottawa 2022 Grant Funding ReportIn a surprise (well, at least to me!) turn of events, I’ve received a $4,000.00 grant from the City of Ottawa’s Arts Funding Program (the PDF announcement from the City is here). The grant is in support of my ongoing comics project WOLF’S HEAD and represents a significant step in my arts career. Why significant? Well, bear with me here for a sec and I’ll try to explain.

As I’ve struggled to cobble together an arts career, there have been a number of obstacles that I’ve had to overcome. This is not unique to me, unique to Canadian comic artists, unique to visual artists, or unique to the arts in general. Despite certain stereotypes of artists (“heads in the clouds,” blah, blah, blah), it’s quite a tricky career to manage. There is not a lot of support “out there” for artists, either. Most artists I know are forced to manage their careers as best they can and there really isn’t a road map to help along the way. That’s been very true for me. While a lot of words come to mind to describe this — ‘challenging’ being a very good one — it just is what it is. And there is a certain truism to the notion that by the time acknowledgement does come (usually in the form of awards, accolades, and sales), the artist doesn’t need as much support as they once did. That’s definitely not true of me.



Let me say that again: That’s definitely not true of me.



It’s been a fight every step of the way. The first fight was simply to become competent and that might have been the toughest battle of them all. The learning curve, at least for me, has been extremely steep with a lot of false starts and dashed hopes along the way. Then, the next fight is to survive. Truth be told, that’s been tough, too. Being pretty much a fringe artist at the best of times and a true Outsider most of the time meant that building awareness for my work has been a never-ending struggle. Pragmatically speaking, surviving as an artist means generating an income. In my case specifically, that primarily means selling my comics. And that has never been easy.



Wolf's Head Book 1 cover by Von AllanAs some folks know, I really had hopes that I AM STILL YOUR CHILD, the documentary film I’m in, would help build awareness for my art. That really hasn’t happened, at least so far, and the disappointment was hard to place. That doesn’t mean I’m not proud of my role in the film. Far from it! And I still think the film is important for shedding light on parental mental illness, a taboo subject to this day.

That said, as my wife is fond of saying, the film was ‘kindling’ for my arts career and represented a milestone in its own right. While it hasn’t changed awareness of my work in the larger comics community, it has led to growing awareness in the local arts scene. I’m pretty sure that I wouldn’t have been a finalist for the Peter Honeywell Award without it. And I certainly wouldn’t have won a CBC Trailblazer Award without it, too.



And with today’s announcement of winning a grant from the City of Ottawa, I’m pretty confident saying that it wouldn’t have happened without the film and the other awards. One thing does lead to another. And the grant is important from another point of view; it really does give some much needed financial support for my comics endeavours. As I’ve noted, being an artist is not an easy path and every little bit of financial support helps. When a jury of my peers determined that my application was worthy of financial support, my jaw dropped. And it’s taken a bit of time for me to really get my head around it. I’m both honoured and pleased as punch to receive it. And in these pandemic times we live in, it is one helluva lift.



So yes, Von Allan Studio (that’s me, folks!) gratefully acknowledges the financial support of the City of Ottawa. Boy, do I!



City of Ottawa logo

2018 Edith and John Hans Low-Beer Memorial Lecture


I'm very pleased to announce that the documentary film I AM STILL YOUR CHILD will be presented at the 2018 Edith and John Hans Low-Beer Memorial Lecture in Montreal on September 27th 2018. The film is presented by AMI-Quebec Action on Mental Illness. Even better, there will be a panel discussion on the film featuring myself, Jessy Bokser, Sarah Leavens, Rebecca Heinisch, and Megan Durnford, the film's writer and director. It should be a pretty special evening and I'm really looking forward to it!

Update! Charlie Fidelman did a lovely piece on the film and some background on the screening in the Montreal Gazette on September 25, 2018. 

Here are the specific details:

Thursday, September 27 at 7pm
Oscar Peterson Concert Hall
Concordia University
7141 Sherbrooke West
Free admission
Presentation in English

The poster is below. And a PDF of the poster can be found at http://vonallan.com/press/I-AM-STILL-YOUR-CHILD-lecture-in-Montreal.pdf

2018 Edith and John Hans Low-Beer Memorial Lecture

The film's trailer is below:


Documentary Short - Coping Strategies


I'm one of the subjects of a documentary titled I AM STILL YOUR CHILD, dealing with parental mental illness. In conjunction with the film, a number of short videos have been released; kinda like extra features on a film. The below deals with coping strategies. In my case, my mom was dealing with schizophrenia and it led to some pretty rough experiences. Being able to escape into comics as well as sci-fi and fantasy really helped. Sarah and Jessy, two other subjects from the film, also talk about their strategies in the short.


The entire short series can be viewed on the film's official Youtube page. They add up to over 30 minutes of bonus content. While the documentary is only available for streaming inside Canada right now, the short videos should be watchable anywhere in the world.

Documentary Short - Financial Impact and Poverty



The filmmakers behind the documentary I'm involved in, I AM STILL YOUR CHILD, have released a number of short supporting videos that focus on different aspects of living with a parent struggling with mental illness. The one below deals with the financial impact of mental illness. Simply put: it ain't easy.


The entire video series can be viewed on their Youtube site and add up to over 30 minutes of bonus content. While the documentary is only available for streaming inside Canada right now, the short videos should be watchable anywhere in the world.

Ottawa Citizen front page article on Von Allan



Well, this is pretty neat! Reporter Blair Crawford along with photographer Julie Oliver from the Ottawa Citizen did a feature story on yours truly. The story explores my childhood, my mom's struggle with mental illness (specifically schizophrenia), my graphic novel the road to god knows..., and the documentary film I'm involved in titled I AM STILL YOUR CHILD.


The full article can be found online at the Ottawa Citizen's website at http://ottawacitizen.com/news/local-news/a-child-of-schizophrenia-graphic-novelist-von-allan-on-growing-up-with-a-mentally-ill-mother


I should add that the online article also contains a short two minute video interview with me. Plus the great and mysterious Corbin makes a surprise guest appearance! I've embedded the video below:


Scans from the Ottawa Citizen are below:

Ottawa Citizen article by Blair Crawford on Von Allan, the graphic novel the road to god knows, and the documentary I Am Still Your Child

And the interior page (the scan is a bit hard to read, but the full article can be found online here):

Ottawa Citizen article by Blair Crawford on Von Allan, the graphic novel the road to god knows, and the documentary I Am Still Your Child

Update!


As it turns out, the Citizen's sister paper the Ottawa Sun also ran a story. This is pretty much the same thing, though there are a few minor differences. I'm not crazy about the headline, but pretty neat all the same.

Ottawa Sun article on Von Allan, the graphnic novel the road to god knows..., and the documentary film I Am Still Your Child

Ottawa Sun article on Von Allan, the graphnic novel the road to god knows..., and the documentary film I Am Still Your Child

Potential Repercussions - Documentary Short



As I noted previously, the filmmakers behind the documentary I AM STILL YOUR CHILD have released a number of short supporting videos, including the one embedded below. The entire series can be viewed on their Youtube site and add up to over 30 minutes of bonus content. While the documentary is only available for streaming inside Canada right now, the short videos should be watchable anywhere in the world.

In this short, the three subjects of the film (Sarah, Jessy, and myself) all talk about the repercussions of living with a parent who has a mental illness.

Maintaining a Relationship with the Ill Parent - Documentary Short



In conjunction with the documentary I AM STILL YOUR CHILD, the filmmakers have released a number of short supporting videos. The entire series can be viewed on their Youtube site and add up to over 30 minutes of bonus content. While the documentary is only available for streaming inside Canada right now, the short videos should be watchable anywhere in the world.

I embedded one of these shorts below. Titled "Maintaining a Relationship with the Ill Parent," it showcases all three subjects of the film. For my part, I talk about my mom and her sensitivity and compassion. And, as a special bonus, Corbin makes an appearance!

I AM STILL YOUR CHILD Young Girl and Father Poster Process


Continuing the series of background "process" art for the poster series for the documentary film "I AM STILL YOUR CHILD." Today's poster features a young girl handling her father's medication. I knew clarity would be a problem, so I decided to go with a low "eye level" or horizon line. In this case, right at the ground plane. Why? It allowed me to put the medicine bottle strongly in the foreground and hopefully clarify what's actually happening. It also allowed me to make the young girl slightly bigger (closer to the viewer) than a more normal eye level would allow.

In discussing it with Stéphanie Couillard, my contact at Catbird, we decided that it still might not be clear enough so we added dialogue for the father just to be safe. There are no "right" answers with this; sometimes you want to be subtle and suggestive and other times you want to be crystal clear. In this case, clarity was one of the most important criteria.

Again, here is the Final Press Version with logo designed by Sara Morley of Design Postimage:

Final poster version of Young Girl and Father for the documentary I AM STILL YOUR CHILD

Initial Rough Layout sketch (approximately 2 inches in height). You can also see that I was initially thinking of making it daughter and mother:
Initial rough layout sketch for Upset Girl poster from I AM STILL YOUR CHILD by Von Allan

Slightly tighter but still very loose figures. And again, illustrated pretty small:
Second rough layout sketch for Upset Girl poster from I AM STILL YOUR CHILD by Von Allan

A tighter rough, though still very small. The father was giving me some drawing problems at this stage, though it works itself out soon enough:
Somewhat tighter pencils for Upset Girl poster from I AM STILL YOUR CHILD by Von Allan

Tighter pencils:
Still tighter pencils for Upset Girl poster from I AM STILL YOUR CHILD by Von Allan

Tighter pencils along with perspective grid and background:

Final pencils for Upset Girl poster from I AM STILL YOUR CHILD by Von Allan

And the final inked version:
Inked final illustration for Upset Girl poster from I AM STILL YOUR CHILD by Von Allan

As always, you can see the entire poster series at the film's official website. And the entire film can be streamed online at the CBC's website at http://watch.cbc.ca/absolutely-canadian/-/i-am-still-your-child/38e815a-00cec9fd824

I AM STILL YOUR CHILD Upset Girl Poster Process


As noted yesterday, I was commissioned to create a series of posters for the documentary film "I AM STILL YOUR CHILD." Today I'm looking at the development of another poster for the film and the support website. This one is a good example of how the process develops from rough concept to final version.

My initial thinking was that I wanted contrast between a very upset girl in the foreground and an adult, possibly in trouble, who isn't even paying attention. Initially I thought she'd be starring at the girl, but not really seeing her. Later, I changed my mind and had the adult sitting with her back turned. As the process continued and I received feedback from Stéphanie Couillard, my main contact for the poster series for Catbird Productions, the poster evolved. You can see that in the following sketches and I think the piece is much stronger based on Stéphanie's comment. 

Again, here is the Final Press Version with that great logo designed by Sara Morley of Design Postimage:

Final poster version of Upset Girl for the documentary I AM STILL YOUR CHILD

Initial Rough Layout sketch (as always, this is done very small, approximately 2 inches in height):
Initial rough layout sketch for Upset Girl poster from I AM STILL YOUR CHILD by Von Allan

Slightly tighter but still very loose figures. And again, illustrated pretty small. You can also see that the foreground character is slightly off-balance here. It happens, but it's the kind of thing I correct as I go:
Second rough layout sketch for Upset Girl poster from I AM STILL YOUR CHILD by Von Allan

Tighter pencils:
Somewhat tighter pencils for Upset Girl poster from I AM STILL YOUR CHILD by Von Allan

Tighter pencils with that original concept of a "neutral" adult in the background:
Still tighter pencils for Upset Girl poster from I AM STILL YOUR CHILD by Von Allan

This is where a number of things changed. A very different adult figure appears. She was roughed out and tightened separately and then digitally added into the piece. And the background finally shows up, too. Little bit of cheating here, but you can't tell. I hope!

Final pencils for Upset Girl poster from I AM STILL YOUR CHILD by Von Allan

And the final inked version:Inked final illustration for Upset Girl poster from I AM STILL YOUR CHILD by Von Allan

You can see the entire poster series at the film's official website. And the entire film can be streamed online at the CBC's website at http://watch.cbc.ca/absolutely-canadian/-/i-am-still-your-child/38e815a-00cec9fd824

I AM STILL YOUR CHILD Poster Process for Girl In School


I was commissioned to create a series of posters for the documentary film project (titled “I AM STILL YOUR CHILD”) that I've been involved in. The goal was to create a series of stand-alone pieces that feature characters dealing with parental mental illness. Unlike traditional comics, these wouldn't have a narrative save for that unifying theme. And they would also need to be very bold and graphic to catch the eye and presented in black and white to ease desktop printing. I'm pretty pleased with how they turned out. The full poster series can be found at the documentary's official website.

Beginning today, I'm going to go through the creation of a few of these posters. I was given a great deal of creative room by the production crew; they encouraged me to draw on my own thoughts and feelings, especially relevant given my own background with my mom's schizophrenia (developed more full in my graphic novel “the road to god knows...”). Some of these images were inspired directly from my own experiences while others were “pushed.” In other words, still drawn from my own life but dramatized to some extent.

The one below is a good example; I was very shy at school, especially at this age, but showing emotion was something I tried very hard not to do (though how successful I was in a different question). This girl, on the other hand, is very upset. That was something I tried very hard not to show at school.

What follows, then, is a pretty good breakdown of how this poster came together.

First, this is the Final Press Version with a terrific logo designed by Sara Morley of Design Postimage:

Final poster version for the documentary I AM STILL YOUR CHILD

Initial Rough Layout sketch (very small, approximately 2 inches in height):
Initial rough layout sketch for poster from I AM STILL YOUR CHILD by Von Allan

Tighter pencils (figures only; this is slightly deceptive since I drew each character separately and then digitally composed the image to finalize their positions):
Initial rough layout sketch for Girl In School poster from I AM STILL YOUR CHILD by Von Allan

Tighter pencils with loose backgrounds and perspective grid:
Tighter pencils with loose backgroundsfor Girl In School poster from I AM STILL YOUR CHILD by Von Allan

Final inked version with completed background:
Inked final illustration for Girl In School poster from I AM STILL YOUR CHILD by Von Allan
I should add here that sometimes I do pretty tight background renderings and other times, like here, I keep it pretty loose and finalize in ink (albeit digital ink since I use Manga Studio EX 4 for inking). Manga Studio also allows for some really nice shortcuts for tones, hatching, "zipatones," and splatters. I've done them manually (the ol' toothbrush and ink immediately comes to mind for splatters) but I much prefer doing them digitally now.

And that's that. Again, you can see the entire poster series at the film's official website. And don't forget that the entire film can be streamed online at the CBC's website at http://watch.cbc.ca/absolutely-canadian/-/i-am-still-your-child/38e815a-00cec9fd824

CBC Arts Profile on Von Allan


This is a short (approximately 4 minute) CBC Arts profile on yours truly. In it, I discuss art and comics, growing up with a parent that's mentally ill, and also my process of making art. I should add that this short is actually part of a larger documentary, titled I AM STILL YOUR CHILD, that is available to stream anywhere in Canada right now. Information on viewing it in other parts of the world should be known soon. The documentary's official website is a good way to keep on top of this.



As noted in the accompanying CBC article, the documentary I AM STILL YOUR CHILD gave me an opportunity to revisit the artwork from my graphic novel the road to god knows.... This is mainly because the original graphic novel was published in 2009 and the film premiered in 2017. That's a long time and my art has grown and developed between those two dates. For those who'd like to learn a little more about this, I did a short essay discussing the changes (including direct comparisons with the art).

If the player doesn't work, you should be able to find the video here.

Trailer for I AM STILL YOUR CHILD documentary



I've been fortunate enough to be involved in a documentary project focusing on the children of parents with mental illness (COPMI). It's a pretty amazing project and I've been thrilled to be involved. Megan Durnford, the writer and director, Katarina Soukup, the producer from Catbird Productions, Stéphanie Couillard, Alex Margineanu (cinematographer), Stéphane Barsalou (sound recorder), and the rest of the crew have brought an empathy to the film that is quite remarkable. There are still a lot of societal taboos regarding mental illness and I think this film might help challenge that.

So why did they get  in touch with me? Well, my mom was diagnosed schizophrenic when I was quite young. I actually wrote and drew a graphic novel titled the road to god knows... that is an account (albeit fictionalized) of my experiences with my mom's mental illness and my growing awareness that she was not "okay." I didn't go the full autobiographical route for a number of reasons, but one of the main one's is that my mom died before I even started the comic and I wanted some emotional distance from the work and my own life.

The documentary uses quite a bit of my art through it, but I should note that I actually re-drew a number of pages specifically for the film (I'm going to do a follow-up post specifically on this subject in the near future).

The film will be airing on CBC Montreal through the documentary series Absolutely Quebec on Saturday, September 16th. It will have a wider release shortly after that. I'll update the website as I know more.

In the meantime, the trailer linked above really captures the tone of it very well.  I think it's beautiful. For more on the film, keep an eye on the Facebook page and the official website.

Wolf's Head by Von Allan

Link to Von Allan's Wolf's Head comic book series

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City of Ottawa Grant Support

Von Allan Studio gratefully acknowledges the financial support of the City of Ottawa.

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I Am Still Your Child Trailer

Documentary Film Excerpt