Monday, July 30, 2012

Otakon Report

This past weekend, I flew into my hometown of Baltimore for some good, nerdy fun at Otakon. For those who don't know, Otakon is an anime convention held yearly at our huge convention center in the Inner Harbour, where tons of silly people gather to share their love of Otaku-culture by dressing up in crazy anime outfits, having ninja battles in the lobby, drinking way too much coffee, spouting off random japanese words, and hugging pretty much every other person in the building.

Or, if you're me, Otakon is the best 3 days of people-watching on the planet earth and an opportunity to not only promote my art, but make bank and talk to some pretty interesting people.

I have been doing conventions for three years in a row now, and I can say that, as crazy as they are, they are mad fun. After working and prepping for 4 months in advance of the show, my goal this year was to make enough to cover my fall tuition at SCAD... and as I handed a print of my Black Swan to a very sweet young lady, I got the chance to hug her and thank her for the sale that hit the mark.

Highlights included:

1. My crazy booth that took me 3 hours to set up! Had my own little art cave.
2. Tons of prepwork and charm-army!
3. Hot pink mustaches that brought on exclamations of "MUSTACHE!" and excited, pointy fingers.
4. Rows and rows of bows.
5. My special VIP Artist Alley ribbon that earned me the question of, "So, you're working at the freak convention?" from a very (not-so) pleasant gentleman while getting my morning coffee.
6. Oreo Brownie bar bestowed upon me by a nerd who was "astounded by my beauty", which caught me very off-guard. My booth neighbor and I decided that it was most likely not poisoned. (Given that I am writing this post, nothing too disastrous occurred.)
7. Test-driving mustache rings before the con.
8. Print inventory and taking stock!
9. Charm bracelets that sold super well!
10. Illuminated monograms that brought lots of oo's and ah's.
11. Coffee that should've been the best coffee of my entire life, considering I waited 45 minutes in line for it, got yelled at by an exasperated barista for it, and dodged an epic sailor moon battle to obtain it.
12. More mustache rings that drew people to my table like kids to cupcakes.

Highlights not pictured: 
1. Seeing familiar friendly faces and chatting with friends; particularly my friend Rob who I haven't seen in a long time, and my friend Mckenzie's husband Greg, who was so sweet and brought me a beer that he home-brewed himself!

2. Making friends with my booth-mates, swapping art, and planning drinking games based on how many times I said, "How ya'll doin?" and "They're all adjustable and nickel-free" in a single day.

3. Chatting up about the back-stories of some of my prints, and watching people get really excited about the works. Particularly my favourite story behind Dia De Los Muertos, where I had one of the worst nightmares of my life after watching Pan's Labyrinth for the first time, shooting straight up in bed, and grabbing for my sketchbook to draw thousands of fingers crawling up my neck. Followed swiftly by being referred to as the "awesome creepy Pan's Labyrinth girl" when they brought their friends over. And being referred to as the "fish girl" or the "jellyfish lady" because of all the sea creatures in my paintings.

4. Funny jokes about the fruit-basket and how all of us in our section of the alley should dress up in giant banana costumes and dance. (Awkwaaaaaard!)

5. Surviving 8 blocks of Baltimore city at midnight to get back to my car.

6. My most wonderful mom, who was the cutest mom in the whole world and packed me awesome lunches.

And finally... the best highlight of all: 

Putting my tuition payment through, knowing that I reached my goal, had a blast doing it, and would be paying a little less loan money back to the powers-that-be.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

I am a Painter.

I have tried to write this blogpost at least 5 times, and I could never really say what I wanted to say.

So I'm going to sum it up.

I have been stretching myself too thin, trying to do everything. I can't be a graphic designer, and a photographer, and a jewelry maker, and an illustrator, and a blogger. I've just been realizing that I simply can't. If I stretch myself to all these areas, though they all hold a special place in my heart, I will never be able to focus on what I really want to be doing.

I have been turning the idea of monetizing my blog over and over again in my head. But I don't want to end up as a slave to gathering arbitrary followers by reposting unoriginal content. I don't want to post just to post. I want this blog to be a genuine experience, and for once, a place on the internet where I don't have to care about the numbers.

I love to paint and illustrate. That's what I want to do with my life. This is not an end to my blog, but rather a reconsidering of the direction it is going in.

In the spirit of the love of painting, I have created a work based on my favourite character from A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin; Daenerys Targaryen, The Unburnt, The Mother of Dragons.

Of all the characters in Martin's series, Daenerys is by far the character with whom I identify the most. I can't say that I am like her; but rather, that she serves as a symbol of strength and determination for me.

As corny as it sounds, the story and the characters have seen me through a fair share of trials in the last few years of my life. Dany, above the others, always reminds me to be honourable, and to do what is right in spite of all the reasons not to. She is a character that gives selflessly, always seeks after wisdom; who is loyal to her people and her friends, and who continuously plants one foot in front of the other and keeps going, no matter how desperate the situation.

She's also a badass.

So I wanted to give her her due and paint something for a character that has taught me quite a bit about the kind of person I strive to be.

As always, thank you for reading.

Monday, July 16, 2012

I don't know what to write, have a picture instead.

{ photo & hand-drawn type by me; quote from YAWN - as far as I know }

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Paintings & Mustaches; Sketches & Coffee

Just some things I've been working on... 

1 // Watercolour, pigment pen, and special gold paint turn my little illustrated monograms into illuminated manuscripts.
2 // Having fun just doodling, something I usually don't get to do a lot of!
3 // A close-up of my bulletin board, full of postcards from my time living in Italy, good quotes, knick-knacks, and cheeky sentimental things.
4 // Morning sketchbook session and coffee; in my opinion the best way to start the day.
5 // Couldn't sleep one night, so I did a value-study painting from a photograph; took about 2 hours and the soundtrack from Black Swan blasting in my headphones.
6 // A close-up of one of my favourite illuminated monograms; the design is inspired by gold crown molding in Versailles.
7 // Little leather bracelets I'm working on.
8 // My sidekick and I stayed up one night trying our hands at linocuts and decided that mustaches were hands-down the best idea to start up our carving experience.

* And a little graphic I made with an instagram photo 
& one of my favourite quotes.

The anonymous quote I actually found in a fashion archive catalog, while I was doing research for my fashion illustration class. I accidentally copied more page in the book than I intended to, and when I got home and was putting together my moodboard, I realized I copied the text (the whole thing is pictured in #3 above); I felt like it was intended for me.

* What are you working on?
I am an avid "collector" of quotes - I scrawl them everywhere - in my sketchbook, on my planner; do you do this? Or do you have any words you live by?

Monday, July 9, 2012

Pictures & Words

One of my absolute favourite lines,
from one of my absolute favourite songs,
by one of my absolute favourite bands.

{ photo and type by me; lyrics dave matthews band }

At the end of the day, it is really fun and relaxing for me to make these silly little graphics. One small way this illustrator can dip her little pinky toe into the ocean of graphic design. My professor Mike at SCAD has really had an influence on developing my love of quirky, hand-drawn and hand-written elements, and it's definitely something I've been incorporating into my work more and more. 

Tonight I got a chance to paint for about 5 hours on end for a freelance project, and it was glorious. Despite a headache, I grabbed my mug of green tea and plugged my headphones in and jammed out to Dave. After an unusually stressful day, it was just what the doctor ordered. 

And I am feeling extremely grateful and lucky
to have some great people in my life.

What are you feeling grateful for today?
On my list: friends who make me laugh, covered parking (we had a huge storm tonight!), tacos, the wonders of youtube, great professors, hair bows, and being in good health.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Disney Nostalgia

In my summer class at SCAD, we were given a fun and nostalgic assignment: design a T-shirt for Threadless' Disney Villains competition! I spent a few days sketching and pouring over the old movies, remembering the days when I used to sit in front of my grandmother's TV, belting out every word to all the songs in Cinderella and scribbling away happily in my sketchbook.

Among my favourites was the story of Sleeping Beauty - I love the scene where the silly witches completely fail at baking the cake and the dress for Aurora's 16th birthday. And when I was little, my dad used to sing "Once Upon A Dream" to me when I would go to bed.

I mean, is this still not completely charming?
They just don't make movies like this anymore.

So for my Disney Villain, I wanted to tackle the dark and dangerously beautiful Maleficent. She frightened me a little as a child (maybe more than I care to admit), but rewatching the movie was really inspiring. I wanted to show a bit of my process here, to give an idea of how I generally work. I really enjoy seeing the thumbnails and sketches of other artists!

I started with a rough idea of the deadly briars twisting around her face and refined it in another thumbnail. I tend to scribble notes in the margins of all my sketches, hehe...

From there, I collected a few references (though the face is more realistic, I still wanted her to have similar facial characteristics as the movie version), and made my sketch. 

I took special care with the briar vines, making sure they had a good amount of variation and depth. Her horns I wasn't entirely sold on, but I knew I could clean them up using my magical Photoshop wizardry skills. [Harry Potter theme song]

I scanned the finished sketch in, and started working in Photoshop to lay in colours and paint her face. 
And here is the finished result!

* Now for the fun part...

I submitted my design to Threadless, and was super excited when they emailed me back saying that my design was pleasing to their "discerning panel of snobby judges" (that's verbatim, by the way... haha!), and that it was now in the running to be printed as an actual T-shirt! (And did I mention there's a little prize of $5,000 for winning?)

To be considered for the prize, my design must get some good votes on it. If you, my dear blog readers, would be so kind as to help me out and vote, I would be very grateful. 
Not only would this be a huge opportunity for me, but it would also directly help me pay for part of my Illustration MFA.

* To vote, please go here:
(click the numbers next to the image to vote - 5 is best!)
(It may ask you to login; but you can sign-in through Facebook. No silly creating an account!)

It would mean so much to me to have your support. A 5 is the best score you can get, and more 5's will help me get printed! If you'd share this post and link your friends, I would be so thrilled :)

Who was your favourite Disney Villain?
(or who scared you the most? haha... it was the Queen in Snow White that did me in...)

So Damn Lucky

Friday afternoon was spent in the murky Atlanta heat with my adventurous sidekick, with whom I share a love of photography (though I still have a lot to learn). It was a really nice change of pace from hunching over my worktable with all the work I've been trying to bust out lately - but let's face it,

We can't just be robots, right?

"This is also [a song] about how not to forget about counting your blessings."

Sometimes I feel so damn lucky to have found what I love to do in this life, and that I have the ability, resources, and support to pursue it wholeheartedly and with conviction. But with that spirit I feel compelled to move beyond just effort, to examine not only the "how" of creating something, but (perhaps even more importantly) the "why" as well. 

 I've had several really great conversations about this, but at the end of the day, the reason why we create needs to be so much more than just the paycheck. The wonderful thing about being creative is that you can get at things that no can text spell out, and you can communicate meaning and emotion where no words will suffice. I really believe that it is a gift, and not everyone can possess it.

Perhaps even more profound is our ability to bring things into this world that can change it for the better. As my lovely momma put it one day, "So you knew what you wanted it to look like, and then just made it, and now it's here in my hand. That's incredible."

"Could I have been anyone other than me?
And I, I look up at the sky
And my mouth is open wide."

What are your thoughts, lovely birds?

Friday, July 6, 2012


Something my professor said during class really struck me today, and I wanted to share it with you:

"When the fire is hot,
go as fast as you can, for as long as you can."

{ source }

For anyone who may need a little extra push, some words of encouragement to power through to the end of the week, or just some simple, well-put insight.

Happy Friday, lovely birds --
new apartment shots and a DIY coming soon!

This weekend, I'll be chasing around my sidekick in the park with our cameras and eating french fries; which honestly sounds like a superb plan to me. What are you doing to enjoy the weather?

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Celebrating Amurrica with Burritos & Coffee, of course.

To celebrate, I watched Harry Potter, ate burritos, drank beer, and had a very nice quiet evening with someone who is quite dear to me.

And now, I am drinking my 4th of July coffee, brainstorming wedding jewelry ideas, and am about to pump out some homework for my summer class at SCAD - we're drawing Disney Villains ;)

Hope everyone had a wonderful holiday!
Did anyone else celebrate with non-american food? 
Or am I the only rebel?

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Summer To-Do List

It's July 1st, 108 degrees in Atlanta, and I am late to the Summer To-Do List party.

I just moved into my new apartment (which is gorrrrgeous - pictures when I'm set up), am starting a very cool summer class at SCAD, and generally just trying to get along as best I can in this crazy life.

I think about the urgency of time quite a bit, and if you've read my recent blog post about my darling kitty, you'll know that now it's on my mind more than ever. Buddha says, "The trouble is, you think you have time." Sometimes I feel overwhelmed with all the things I feel like I should be doing. There's quite a list going. At the top of the list is creating stability, fulfillment, and meaning in my career.

One of the things I love about our education at SCAD is its focus on real-world marketability; our professor has been introducing my summer class to the idea of being more than just illustrators, but taking our skillset to the next level to animate. It seems pretty daunting to someone like me - my animation skills go about as far as those little stick figure flipbooks I'd make in the corners of my binders in middle school. Our prof showed us an amazing video that just got my own mental energy rolling on the idea, and single-handedly inspired my Summer To-Do List.

Check this bad boy out; 
put together by a very cool team of illustrators and animator friends:

Good Books - Metamorphosis from Buck on Vimeo.

And, of course, my Summer To-Do List:

We all have only one life to live, and it should mean more than just the paycheck at the end of the day.

What does your Summer To-Do List look like?
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