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“Out Of Reality” Exhibit

We’re ringing in Summer with a BLAST of bright colors and art!!  June 22-23, I’m very honored to announce we’re setting up our NEW pop up cartoon art gallery “Out Of Reality” at Avant Cycle Cafe in downtown Lake Geneva WI. (the loft).  We’re taking over the entire floor.

Why does Avant Cycle Cafe sound familiar?  This past February, we hosted or first pop up cartoon art gallery there with great success.  We had a lot of people asking if we’re going to be permanent there, but, because it’s a coffee house, we only rented it out for the weekend.  Just like we did again for this June 22-23.  I’m HONORED to be bringing back our exhibit to Avant.

Out of Reality, a Cartoon Art Exhibit is what it sounds like.  We’d like you to leave reality at the door, but open up your imagination.  These aren’t just pictures on a canvas or print.  Each piece has a story tied to it making it what it is.  For instance you may see Red Ridinghood holding up a skunk or Stanley Squirrel snooping around a tree looking like he’s looking for something.  There’s a reason these things are happening.  Use your imagination to why these things are happening OR, ask me at the exhibit and I’ll tell you why I created that piece and the story behind them.

Our animations are created in what I call “digital cel animation”.  This is where we draw out each frame by hand BUT, color them up digitally on the computer.  Since we’re drawing with pencil and paper, we have originals.  I’m honored to be working with former Disney animator Rick Farmiloe who’s worked on films such as Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, the Little Mermaid and MANY others.  A few of the original frames by Rick are going to be displayed of an animation we’re working on together for the studio.  What makes these pieces different from anything else we’re exhibiting is, these help bring the movie to life on screen.  In addition, we’ll have some of the original backgrounds currently being used which were all created with watercolors (HAND PAINTED).  Due to the size of the original paintings and wall space, I’m have smaller prints made up of the backgrounds to display easier.

Ever want to see how a comic book or comic strip is created?  We’ll have a “how too” section where we give you 4 main bullet points in how we create comic strips and books with a few of our comic strips on display.

Of course we’re going to have our cartoon matted prints, original hand coloring, crochet plushies and new glass figurines available for sale for you to take home and enjoy.  Each piece of art will be signed.

Finally, something I’m working on if we have the space.  I’d like to take things one step further.  Both days of the exhibit, I’d like to hand color an original piece from start to finish for you to check out and see how I color AND some of the techniques I’ve come up with to bring the characters to life using markers.  So Coloring With Jeff LIVE! (our Facebook live episodes) will be…..live at the exhibit both days.  Keep posted here on our blog and on our Facebook event page (HERE) for updates.

I hope you can make it out that weekend or one of the days that weekend to celebrate the beginning of Summer with us.  If you can make it out, click the day or days you’re going to attend and hit “going” next to those days on our FB event page.  This helps us keep a count.

OH YEAH, did I mention this is a FREE event?  True story.

Exhibit in Review

First of all, THANK YOU to everyone who came out to our first cartoon art gallery exhibit this past weekend in downtown Lake Geneva. It was a success. Everyone seemed to enjoy the exhibit and atmosphere. Well common, it was above a coffee house. What’s not to like (hehe)?

Feb 1-3rd marked out very first gallery exhibit featuring our own characters and art from the studio. Since this being our first one, we really didn’t know what to expect. To our surprise, we were pretty busy Saturday and Sun. Friday was a little slower because that entire week we had -50 degree wind chills and businesses and schools were closed until Friday when it warmed up. So everyone was “back to normal”.

Saturday, we actually had people waiting to come upstairs and check out the exhibit (we were on the entire second floor of the coffee house). That’s a great feeling. Seeing people’s eyes widen when I tell them about how we create animation and seeing them laugh/chuckle at the comic strips on the wall, really gives you a warm fuzzy inside. Sunday was pretty much the same. A lot more kids though. Seeing the kids get inspired with our “process” of how we create comic strips is inspiring to me.

People measure success in many different ways. For me, it’s seeing how people react to what we’ve created, were they asking questions and seem interested in what we are creating? I had a lot of questions asking about who this character is or what’s the story behind this scene. To me, that’s something you can’t put a price tag on.

To sum up the entire weekend in two words. It ROCKED! We had such a great time and met a lot of new people.

Would this be something I’m willing to do again? ABSOLUTELY! Maybe next time, closer to YOU!

Cartoon Art Gallery

I’m honored to announce, for the first time ever, we’re hosting our very first Cartoon Art Gallery Feb 1-3. This event is to give you a little glimpse of the “behind the scenes” of how we put together an animation and some of the original art and backgrounds we use to do it.

Most animation now is done digitally and in 3D. However, we create our animations in 2D both with CEL and what I call, digital cel animation. What’s the difference?
Cel Animation: every cel or frame is hand drawn and painted (like the classic Disney movies)
Digital Cel Animation: every frame is hand drawn but colored digitally

What I’m going to show you, is how WE put together an animation and some never before seen sketches and backgrounds of current animations in progress. In addition you’ll also see some of our first comic strips blown up (so you can see them easier) and, pages from our first kids book coming out this Summer featuring our Fairytaleland characters.

The gallery is being hosted at Avant Cycle Cafe in downtown Lake Genava. We have an event page created on our FB page. For more info and updates, please check out our page and event page.

I now not everyone can make it out to the event due to distance. Which is why I’m going to do a live video right before we open the gallery so you can also check it out and be part of the event. This is a FREE event for everyone and I hope, if you’re in the area, you can make it.

Out with the Old and in with the AWESOMENESS!

2019 is just around the corner, and things are getting REALLY exciting!  Of course we have to survive New Years Eve first.  But right after, everything get’s kicked into high gear here at the studios.  Not only do we have a great schedule coming up for conventions, but in Feb, we kick off our “tour” with our very first Pop Up Cartoon Art Gallery featuring art never before seen by Jeff Balke Studios.

January 1st is a WHOLE new chapter for the studio.  Since I started the studio in 2015, I was trying to work on two careers.  Comic book coloring (which I’ve worked in for over 12 years professionally) and animation.  To say the least, it didn’t work.  I was being pulled away from the studio and my characters focusing on “superhero prints” and making sure I get sales.  But not anymore.  Of course I still want to make sales but with my own characters and art.  I want to let the world know that we’re here.  One way to do that is to go to different conventions across the country and have a presents letting people physically see and buy our art.  Outside of conventions, I do have a few ideas up my sleeve which are being worked on, such as our first Pop Up Art Gallery coming in February (I’ll talk about that in more detail in another blog).

I also want to say THANK YOU to all of you who has supported us.  With all your comments, shares, likes and so on, it really means a lot to me.  Without you guys, I wouldn’t be able to do what I LOVE.  2019 is going to be that year where we BOOM and come out of our shell.  We’re going to cross over our comfort zone and just “DO IT”!

Happy New Year and I look forward to seeing you in 2019.

Gearing up for 2019

This past weekend was our final convention for 2018.  Now it’s time to get things ready and going for 2019.  Next year we’re stepping over the boundaries of our comfort zone and going all in, doing then asking questions later.  That may sound kind of odd, but sometimes you need to do the scary things in order to get things going.

In addition to the conventions we’re attending next year, we’re going to have a pretty big year on our YouTube channel.  We have a couple of different series we’re creating including moving our popular Sketch Coloring™ LIVE! episodes from our Facebook page to YouTube.  If you haven’t already subscribed to our channel, please click here: JEFF BALKE STUDIOS YOUTUBE CHANNEL and subscribe so you don’t miss out on any of the shows.  This also includes any animations we have and commercials.

So much changing and coming next year, we need this time off from conventions to get it all organized.

I also want to say THANK YOU to all of you for a great 2018.

Bringing the Imagination to Life

For years, as far back as I can remember, I’ve watched cartoons and absolutely fell in love with them.  I remember one of the first ones I watched on VHS (yeah, I’m old..lol) was Disney’s Skeleton Dance.  That one to this day still sticks with me.  After that one I got introduced to more of Disney’s Silly Symphonies and loved them.    Throughout my entire childhood I always watched cartoons whenever I got the chance.

Fast forward many years later, I got accepted into Disney’s College Program (1999: Walt Disney World).  I got to meet some of the animators on Mulan (being created at the time) and see how they put together an animation.  My mouth dropped to the floor and my eyes bugged out and got so huge.  This was when I figured out I wanted to animate.  Throughout the entire College Program, we got to know how about animation and the “business” of it.  At the end of the program I did graduate with the highest honor, I earned my DUCKtorate degree.  That whole program and being on my own for the first time in my life, I had a real eye opening experience.  It woke me up.

My entire life I’ve been drawing.  One day about 15 years ago, I’m sitting at my desk drawing one of my own characters (who now is Stanley Squirrel).  In my head I saw him moving around the paper and animated.  My imagination just caught on fire.  But I didn’t know how to animate.  I didn’t know how 1 person can do it all.  I remember the College Program and what the all the animators said to me “it takes a team to animate even a character”.  So I went online to MySpace (it was the biggest social networking site then) and started looking for animators.  Instead of finding animators, I found comic book artists who I started collaborating with and building my art portfolio with.  I then became a comic book colorist.  Taking a little detour from animation, but working in another field I loved.

Now lets fast forward to just about 3 years ago.  I was in Orlando attending MegaCon as a comic book guest.  One morning before I went off to the show, almost 3 years ago, I woke up and remembered what I really wanted to do with my life.  Make my characters come to life.  For years I’ve seen them come to life in my imagination.  But now, it’s time to “bring my imagination to life, one frame at a time”.  That’s exactly what I’m doing.

I recently just opened up a careers page here on the website.  Looking for interns for 2D Animation.  It’s a wide spectrum of talented people I’m looking for.  From storyboard artists to the animators, background artist and so on.  If you or someone you know is interested in creating 2D animation and wants to bring the imagination to life, I ask that you please contact me here on our careers page or just email me at: jeff.jbstudios@yahoo.com

Let’s create magic together and create a whole new world never seen before.