Wednesday, March 20, 2013

A Pause in Things

Being Honest With Myself

First, apologies for the late post, but (maybe justifiable?) it's somewhat thematic to the topic at hand.  Let's put things bluntly - I was initially going to put this blog on pause and come back to it later.  However, it makes much more sense to loosen the straps on this blog.  I will not adhere to a weekly schedule, but I won't stop posting altogether.  But, let me describe why I've decided to do this.

There are two major reasons why I wanted to temporarily stop the weekly blog post.  The first is, I'm not an illustrator (yet).  While I'd love to talk about myself (somewhat can't stop once I've started), I'm only 23.  I can't imagine having epiphanies every week about my life concerning illustration.  Basically, I'm running out of things to say about my blog.  The first change I'm going to make to my blog is a title change. 

As I may have mentioned before, I want to become a writer.  Due to my kind of thinking as a wannabe-writer, words and labels are important to me.  More and more, I'm considering myself more of an illustrator, rather than an aspiring illustrator.  An important distinction.  When I come back to the blog, I will make a title change.  Currently I'm switching between "A Boy and His Process" or "An Illustrator and His Process".  We'll see.  

The other reason why I'm no longer committing myself to a weekly post is that I've become very, very busy.  And it's great.  Here's a list of the things I'm currently doing. 

- kickstarter video project for a nonprofit
- (possibly) directing and performing in a production/performance of a few short plays (one of them is mine!)
- twice-monthly meeting of writer's
- I'm part-owner of a startup media brand
- might manage another new start-up, heading the design
- writing (screenplay/short story etc)
- and most importantly, MY ART!

And, I'd like to have a social life, free time etc.  I felt it was okay to put the blog on hold because I'm actually drawing a lot more, not only for myself, but for others as well.  My blog is going to move in a different direction and not have the same format as before. Where I before had the whole, 'life lesson first, art second', it will primarily focus on the art and I'll try to add a little bit about me if not, about art by that point. 

This blog has been great, I've gotten some great feedback and it's felt really nice knowing people have been reading what I wrote and actually taken away from it.  However, I hate doing things half-assedly (a lovely word) and that's how I felt I've been doing it lately or would have been if I was strict to myself about posting on Wednesday.  The past couple of posts have been coming later and later in the week (this one's going up soooo late) and I started to feel dishonest.  

Lastly, I really want to be able to show more work, and I was honestly running out.  Looking ahead, if I want to make Illustration a real career, a shorter schedule for completing work (as I've just heard from an artist's Q&A) is two weeks for sketches and two weeks for final.  A longer schedule extends that for 1-2 additional months.  To commit myself weekly to show different pieces of art I've created makes a rapidly dissipating schedule where I'd feel forced to make some sketch so I can try to talk about it, and that helps no one.  I'm much rather show work I'm proud of and have much to say rather than "this is a sketch I did," and end on that.

There are two big takeaways here.  First, I'm not done with art or illustration.  In no way is illustration a flavor of the month phase for me.  This feels real and grows for me with everyday.  I'm drawing more, I'm feeling confident and I'm creating things much quicker.  My second takeaway is 'don't do what you don't want to do', and that's how I was beginning to feel about this blog.  A constant quote that I tell myself is "if you're not having fun, you're doing it wrong."  This blog was fun but it was beginning to feel like work (not fun) and I didn't like it.  I'm changing it so it does feel fun and I'd feel excited to show more things

Before I take up too much time saying the same thing in a different way, I don't want to leave without showing any art.  Here are a two pieces, one is finished and I'll show its process from sketch to mid, to final.  This one is titled "Create-a-World", shown in stage one (pencil), stage two (mid-digital) and stage 3 (final)


 Another is a kind of cover page for my graphic novel.  Something I thought about in my head.  It's not done, but from sketch to computer to where I have it now - this took about four days, which is incredibly fast for me.  No title (yet), but there's stage 1 (digital sketch), and stage 2 (near completion)


I'll come back soon enough.  

In the meantime you can find me on these different sites

Twitter:  @JL_Illustration
Flickr page:

I hope to be much more active on these sites, not only sharing my work and my thoughts, but other resources related to art, writing, creativity, etc.

Thanks for reading,


Thursday, March 7, 2013

Outside Me+Education

Outside Me

As obvious it may have been, this blog is personal in many, many ways. One of them, which I wish wasn't the case, was in the display of my work. See, my end goal is to have my work be somewhat of a means to live.

Right now, my work is for myself. Few people see it (outside of my readers and random friends who come over and ask) and there isn't much a purpose to what I'm doing if I'm being honest. That is not to say it is completely useless. Everything I create, everything I draw, I hope to learn from - whether it be something technical, conceptual, or even, to put it in practical terms, something I can put in a portfolio sometime in the very near future.

But again, this is all personal work. I want to eventually do commercial work, work with and for a purpose. Work that extends beyond my personal propensity to showcase it. The fact that I've only created personal work has been a little bug in the back of my head scratching away. But with time, I tell myself, I'll be able to scratch that itch. With time, has recently become this time.

Last week, I was able to say I was "swamped" with work. I've said it before but what it really meant was, "I have personal projects I' rather work on than do whatever alternative I'm being offered."  This was not one of those occasions.

For almost a year or over a year depending on who I'm referring to, I've been involved with different people, different companies and different projects. Some employ my specific skills, some didn't, and until last week there was always a nagging awareness that I wasn't doing any type of illustration or even design, a related field.

Over the last week I finished two design pieces. One was from a project a few months in the making, a rough was given at first then I needed to finalize it. The second was a small project a friend had thought I would he person that was capable.

For hours I worked on the designs, making tweaks, changing colors, zooming in and out, ensuring every aspect of it what neat, well-done, and exactly how I wanted it.

For both projects, when I finished and sent them to the expecting person, there was a surge of accomplishing relief that filled me. Here was something I created, and for it to be part of something larger, seen by who knows who feels, in the simplest of ways, good. This is what I want, this is what I'm working towards and I can't wait to feel it again.

Unfortunately for my readers, I'm unable to show you either design. What a tease, I know, but one isn't public and the other is no longer mine, being part of a project. However, as soon as I can, I will not wait a second to share what I've done.

But I'm not leaving without showing any art. Here's...


This is a pretty old piece but one of the last physical ones with color. It was created while I messed with watercolors.

It's hard for me to talk about inspiration. It will be a topic soon but I'm not sure how to define what or how I get inspired.  This piece, from what I remember, arose from me thinking about my relative unhappiness in both elementary school and high school.

I don't want to say that I had a terrible time or that I was depressed in school, rather what I remembered was how much happier everyone else seemed to be.  And, whether I am right or wrong, it seemed that the lower the grades, the happier the person, and the higher the grades, the happier the person (I wasn't the only one who had a hard time in school, but I wouldn't say I'm a victim here).  

In a literal sense, I wanted to evoke the contrast of happy v. sad in an exaggerated fashion.  With that, I got to sketching.  I started with the sad face because that's what I had a clearer picture, as I thought of it first.  For whatever reason, the sad person was a girl.  I really wanted to push the exaggeration theme and wanted to have sad cheeks just come out of the face itself.  I went through various iterations.

In a similar method, I tried the same with the happy boy, but the challenge here was not how to show happiness in an exaggerated fashion (the sad face helped with that) but actually the boy's face.  I tried long, skinny, fat, wide, etc but a lot of the time the boy looked less happy but more high or dazed.  So he seemed more blissfully ignorant which wasn't really what I wanted to show.  Bad grades didn't necessarily belong to a "dumb" person, the only connection was bad grades = happy, but they didn't cause each other.  I hope I'm making sense, I also don't want to impose my meaning on the art either.  

After the sketches were finished, I moved onto bristol paper and tried out watercolors (the real reason why I started the piece) and ended up with these two pieces.

I was pretty happy with them, they really felt mine.  It was something I haven't really seen before and could only relate them to other pieces in very vague and obscure fashions.  That was also a time where I wanted to move everything digitally so I recreated it on Photoshop, ending up here.  

They look similar enough but lack the texture of the originals.  I'm actually more proud of them than when I finished, which is a very good thing.  Since I started, I think I've gotten better at certain skills and techniques and ways of communicating myself visually, so often when I go back to older work, there's a sense of pity I feel, knowing I've left that behind.  But looking back at this, I feel much better.  I know I have/had a sense of personality with my work, a kind of voice, one that I hope to carry throughout all my works.

Thanks for reading.  

Friday, March 1, 2013

The Society of Illustrators: Sketch Night + Sketches

Sketch Night

I checked my watch; it was past 6:30pm and my bus wasn't advancing quickly enough through the tunnel.  I made an imaginary timeline of what would happen the rest of the day.  Get to the Society of Illustrators by 7:30, sit down, start sketching, get up, and leave by 8:30.   I had another engagement I committed to.  One hour?  That didn't seem like enough time.  

I ran down the subway earlier than I imagined.  6:58, making great time.  From Port Authority, I'd have to take the F uptown, a subway I had never taken uptown before.  Something new, something welcomed.  A few stops away and I was already out of the subway, being 23 minutes ahead of schedule.  Unfortunately, I had to climb up what seemed to be endless flights of stairs just to get out.

The rush of wind revealed the outside to me.  I gave myself ten extra minutes; this was an area I hadn't been to before and I was 75% likely to get lost and go the wrong way.  Luckily, I turned a corner and there it was - The Society of Illustrators.  I walked inside and was asked if I was here for the birthday party or Sketch Night.  I was intrigued by the birthday party but said Sketch Night.  A birthday party would have to wait.

After charging me, the man who asked me my puprose directed me to a room on the first floor.  A raised platform in the center was empty, tables and chairs were littered and turned towards it, a crowd of illustrators, artists, painters, and many more were using all kinds of mediums on all kinds of surfaces to create their art.  I was alone, slightly confused, and very, very awkward.  I sat in front of a side of the raised platform.  In the back of the room, wide stairs led to a spacious partition of the space where more artists sat.  One in particular stood, holding a brush and painting on paper, held high by an easel

Others had brushes, paints, crayons, watercolors etc.  I, on the other hand, merely brought a pencil, a sketchpad, and an eraser. I didn't expect there to be so much space available.  I also saw tables in front of many of the sitting people.  There was no table in front of my seat, where would I get such a useful device.  I stood up and looked around; being the only one warmed my face as embarrassment slowly but gradually crept up. 

Finally I found a table and worked it's strange folding mechanism to my advantage.  I now had a chair, a sketchpad, and drawing materials, I was ready!  Three models, two beautiful women and one tall gentlemen came up and stood atop the platform.  A man called out "this will be a ten-minute pose."  I felt comfortable.

The models rotated, making sure their front was exposed to all sections of the audience.  The length of poses varied from 10 to 20 minutes ones, with changes in wardrobe in between.  I loved every second of it.  Having this 10/20 minute timeline rushed me in a good way.  I couldn't stop for distractions, I couldn't think too long.  I just drew. 

Unfortunately, I had a real timeline and had to duck out before the sketch night actually ended.


Here are the sketches I made that first visit.  Apologies in advance for the photo quality, these came from my camera phone rather than a scan.

This one was my favorite, for somewhat obvious reasons.  It's practically finished in terms of on the paper.  I wanted to differentiate between aspects of her clothing and herself and used the thick marker sparingly.  I loved the sunglasses because 1) it made the eyes much easier to draw and 2) there was so much attitude behind it.  I'd love to scan this and see what I could make beyond the paper. 

As of right now, I've come back from my second time at Sketch Night.  It was in a different smaller room, with two models.  I had a hard time finding the right spot to draw from, I like being close, but eventually I'm sure I'll change my vantage point.  Once I sat down, knowing there was no end until the event finished, there was no awkwardness, no uncomfortability.  I put on my large headphones and drew until the models moved, the 10/20 minute period having finished.  Here are the sketches.

Unfortunately, I'm less pleased with these than the earlier ones, though they have their merit.  To be half-honest, my mind's been elsewhere and stressed out, an actual rare occurrence.  I'm usually very good at staying focused and not allowing myself to become affected by external factors, but, things haven't been going so well.

I want Sketch Night to be an every week thing, I'm not sure how dedicated I can be but being there at least two night a month sounds very doable.  I can't wait to run through my sketchbook in the future and see how I've progressed from day one to day x.  It's exciting.  Til then, I can do nothing else but draw.

Thanks for reading.