Friday, January 4, 2013

First Official Post- Why? + Buddha: Former+Current (3)



Buddha: Former and Current (3)

Welcome to the official launch of my new blog, titled “An Inspiring Illustrator.”[1]  I hope to update this weekly or, if I find myself not having enough time, bi-montly.  As of right now, Wednesdays will be a good day to put up a new post as it becomes a nice little break to the middle of the week.  Also, this is technically my third blog post, but for all intents and purposes, treat this is my first post, the previous posts were for another website, which I’ll get to eventually.

First, let me introduce myself and this blog.  My name is Josue Ledesma, I am 23 as of today (Jan. 4th is my birthday) and I am a recent graduate of NYU.  I don’t have a full-time job[2] and this is one of my many little projects I am undertaking.  ‘An Aspiring Illustrator’ will be a personal blog specifically focused on Illustration, a career I hope to be in soon.  The blog will be divided into two parts; one about me and my work concerning the career of a budding illustrator.  Future topics I plan to cover will be my workspace, how this all came to be, inspiration, my process etc.  The second part will cover a piece of art/illustration I have created or am in the process of creating.  I hope to integrate the two so they speak to each other, but I don’t want to force lessons or knowledge into the creation of my work.[3]

So enough introduction, let’s get started.  I think a starting question will be best.


Why, as in why this blog?  There are a multitude of reasons that converged into my decision to start this.  Inspiration came from the now-defunct  This was a website that had many resources for illustrators, both new and settled, including a great podcast where various Illustrators, Art Directors, Art Representatives spoke to the host Thomas James about their careers, their future projects and their perspectives on art and illustration.  The website recently merged into, my current home page, that focuses on different artists, their books, among various other illustration-related projects/products.  The podcast, however is still there.[4]

One thing I noticed about all the artists interviewed was that they all had blogs.  This wasn’t merely a device for self-promotion, it was a space where artists could display their work and talk about themselves in a casual manner separate from the stuffy professionalism of an online portfolio.  A blog, I realized, was something anyone can do and it could even be motivational. 

Apart from illustration, I also hope to be a writer someday.  Someday soon.  This blog will allow for an increased amount in heavy writing.  I don’t want this blog to be a pouring out of my thoughts and feelings; I want my writing to be structured, clear, and concise[5].  I want my writing to be good everywhere, including here.

In a similar vein, because I’m structuring each post to have my work to talk about, then I need to actively be drawing.  I don’t want to work for this blog, but I do want to have work for the blog.  I have many unfinished drawings, projects, illustrations, etc., that I just never continued because I moved on, got bored, or thought I couldn’t do better.  I expect that to change.

Lastly, in a less tangible sense, I hope this blog allows me to delve deeper into myself.  I am a very introspective person, but it all occurs internally, within my own mind.  Through an external exploration, aided by this blog, I hope to gain a different perspective into the being that is me.  I’ll poke fun of myself, challenge myself, criticize myself, and most importantly, be honest to myself.  Overall, this project is a pre-career move, one I hope will lead or at least aid into the future that I want.

Now, onto the work!

Illustration - Buddha: Former and Current (3)

This illustration is particularly dear to me because it really showed me that illustration was really a possibility for me.  But first, a little background. 

My professor, a kind, older woman taught a Buddhism and Psychology in one of the last classes of my final semester[6].   The illustration was originally done as a open-ended final project for the class.  My professor, one day, brought out a hat with many different words related to Buddhism in it.  Our final project was to be done with that word in mind.  Of course, as was the nature of me, I heard open-ended project and thought “I wanna make an illustration![7]

The reason for the (3) in the title of this piece is because it is the third part of a series, or triptych, if you want to put it in art terms.[8]   The other two pieces will, I hope, end up here, probably together because I’m not too fond of them, but back to the piece. 

I really wish I could tell you what word I picked out of the hat, but due to my lack of working memory and general laziness towards searching through my computer files, I don’t.  Either way, I already had half a feeling of what I wanted to do once I realized we could visualize out final project.  I try to take away as much as I can from every class and this class in particular really allowed me to see Buddha the figure in a different way.  I had studied some Buddhism and strongly agreed with many of its teachings[9] but Buddha was never a figure I knew much about.

Now Buddha, I thought, was fat.  Whenever I said the word, or heard the word, the visual imprint in my head was always the larger Buddha, the fuzzy figure on the left.  However, by the end of the class I realized I was wrong- he was actually very skinny due to a fasting period early on and his monk life for the remainder of his life. 

The three-piece picture series shows the change in my view of Buddha.  The larger Buddha is out of focus and melty in some way and the thin Buddha, depicted as a statue here, shines and stands out.  Now this isn’t very symbolic in any large sense, it just represented the change in how I think of Buddha.  Quick note on the lotus petals in the back; it’s a flower prevalent in Buddhist culture and was also present in the other parts of the series.  Here, it served as background filler[10].  

It’s funny looking at past work and seeing all the changes I would make.  The Buddha on the left was deliberately (digitally) painted soft and out of focus, but it looks less deliberate than I would’ve wanted it too.  It also was supposed to take on a more melted form (Numbers 1 and 2 of the three-piecer had a sharper, more complete Buddha) but it doesn’t come off as such.  The blue background should also be slightly darker and less saturated to make it fit better with the scene and the statue should be in front of the other Buddha, not the other way around.

But for all the small mistakes I can see here, there is one, literally shining part that I feel very proud of, and that is the statue of Buddha on the right.  It’s as realistic as I’ve ever had a piece created in Photoshop, due to the reference I used and the long, long time I spent in trying to get every highlight, every shadow, every glimmer, and every shine just right.

I’m very proud of the final product and it really motivated me to think that I had some skill here and I could only progress.  It also helped that my semester and my college career was ending and I still had this desire to illustrate and make ‘art.[11]

As for the final project, we had to present our work to the class and I, very awkwardly, showed all three pieces of my work, having trouble with piece number two (it was rolled up and needed to ask people to hold it up for me).  I remember being nervous before the presentation, a common feeling whenever showing my work.  But a part of me daydreamed about getting such praises on my statue.  “It’s so lifelike!”, “Wow, how did you do that?”, “Is that really Photoshop?” were some of the many phrases being shouted out by nondescript classmates once I finished my imagined presentation. 

As is the case with most of my daydreams, nothing of the sort occurred.  People nodded, asked questions, had remarks, but nothing was said on my actual work except for the odd “cool” or interested widening of the eyes.  Of course, I couldn’t really ask for more, I, and maybe most of us, want more praise than we actually get and/or deserve and I am really okay with that.[12]

I plan to keep most of my posts at about 1500 words or less.  I’d love feedback, critiques, etc.  Tell me what I did wrong/right, if it was too long/short and feedback on my work is always very much appreciated. 

Thanks for reading,


[1]Innovative, I know
[2] Yet
[3] Though I went to an interdisciplinary school, I won’t falsify my life into connections that are stretches at best.
[5] With some amount of silliness, I want you all to be entertained too!
[6] I have since graduated (NYU Gallatin)
[7] This was the last time it happened, but definitely not the first.  I’d like to thank my professors for that. 
[8] I really have no idea what I’m talking about.
[9] I did often say if I were to have a religion, it would probably be Buddhism.
[10] Exciting, I know.
[11] This word, along with artist, bothers me for some reason.  A topic I’ll come back around to. 
[12] This is my obligatory moral of the post.  We’ll see how long this lasts.