Category: essays

Posts that are more essays about a specific topic, issue, or a more developed opinion.

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Welcome! & Final Ballerina Image

I’d like to welcome everyone to my “new” blog, which is just my old blog off Blogger rehosted on WordPress. I hope everyone sees improvements. If you enjoy this blog and want to stay on top of it, subscribe by email or subscribe to one of my social media accounts (recommend Twitter/FB). This blog will auto post to social media and send out of a feed of updates to subscribed email addresses. Likewise, I hope the functionality of it is better in general.

As mentioned in my last post on Blogger, I will be getting a major surgery done beginning of next month and will not be working on art for likely 3-6 months. This is a surgery my whole life has been building to. It’s a total hip replacement to replace my non-existent right hip after osteoarthritis. For those who know me – yes, I’m in my 20s, and this is my life… So, I’m lining up a series of posts that are backlogged to keep ya’ll entertained, but I thought it’s worth mentioning because sometimes I get asked if I still do art after disappearing off the internet for a while. Also, if there was ever a time you wanted to show your support by buying a print or original from me, this is a great time as I won’t be able to work and make any money.

I’d also like to introduce my new print shop: I now have an account on INPRNT, which is a printing company paying the highest returns to artists. I am also impressed with their higher level of scrutiny of who can join, so the site is generally of higher quality and less hipster, commercial products.  You may also notice the prices are lower (for smaller prints anyway), which is something people have complained about for Society6. Please note, INPRNT is shipping from the US, and you probably have to pay a customs fee for your print. Read More

Hiatus, Problems with “Samples”

It’s quite evident that I have not been posting for several months. My excuse this time is major video projects and because I got upgraded into a French writing course, which meant I had some 2-7 hours of writing homework. I just couldn’t get myself to sit down, think about this blog, and write in English. When studying a language intensively, it sometimes becomes hard to think, write, read, or speak in your primary language. Usually, it’s the opposite, where I just can’t formulate anything in French out of sheer mental exhaustion in that part of my brain. Anyways, I am lucky I can spend most of my days right now learning. I really don’t look forward to taking that day job to pay the bills and being back in that monotony. It depends on the job, of course.

I want to let everyone know that whoever finds us a returning client for video gets a percentage kicked their way for a year on projects. We’re not really decided on the percentage, but it’ll be something we’ll deem worth your time. So, if you know someone who needs video work, motion design, colour grading done and has money to pay for it, send them our way: stereokroma.com

Since this has been an issue for us lately, we don’t do spec. work. Here’s some informative links my partner found on this subject. Link 1, link 2, link 3.

There’s very few projects we’d genuinely say we’d work for free, and there’s very few excuses you can give us for why we should work for free. It most often comes up that a “sample” is requested. In the most recent and serious case, it was during a second job interview, where all portfolios and demoreels had already been reviewed, so there would be no other reason for this other than to collect free ideas. It was not a 30-90 minute test either, it was something that would’ve required several hours of work. Let me be clear: this is incredibly unprofessional and insulting.

I believe I talked about this before, but it’s so obvious someone is trying to shop around and clearly has no idea what the job entitles or what they want if they need to ask for a sample. There are cases where a sample is asked for as a proposal, which in my books is fine because it is usually a write up or a simple sketch and it’s for a several thousand dollar large project that requires a lot of commitment from both parties. Most of the time, when I am personally asked for a sample, it’s for a client that is not going to pay more than $500, $200, or even $100, so it is a pure waste of my time to do a sample. Often, they also want a sample that’s going to look like the finished product. What? So you basically want me to do the whole project, call it a “sample”, then decide whether or not you want to pay for it? That’s shady and shitty of you. I pretty much always say no and let them roll off my back, unless the person agrees to pay for the sample itself. In my experience (ohh some 10 years or more of freelancing), the clients who waffle and who ask for ridiculous things like this cause the most problems. They’re the ones who want the most changes, who ask for impossible changes too late in the process, who just can’t make up their mind or don’t pay in a timely fashion. Everyone I ever worked with who looked at my portfolio and hired me on the spot was always great to work with: they understood the process, they understood why it costs why it costs, they didn’t try get me to give them discounts or held out my payments for months; they were just timely, understanding, and a pleasure to work with.

I think in the future, I will write several articles talking about different things like the process of creative work so everyone understands why we do things the way we do them. I know I ramble in here about it, but I really need something I can point people to.

Anyway, I have several art events I want to post about and tonnes of updates, so stay tuned. I will slowly start rolling things out and catching up. You can always keep track on my website or one of my many other social media pages that are unfortunately easier to update (I really prefer having a blog). I’ll also be posting some of my French writing, if it’s of interest to anyone.

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Painting Cliche Things

Even though most of my portfolio is acrylic and oil paintings, I actually haven’t painted in a few years. It’s kind of ironic, especially since I’d really really would like that someone commissioned some portraits from me *cough*, but I can understand why not if my portfolio is a bit out of date in that field and the few I have painted are with either myself or really impatient models. I’ve yet to paint a portrait that really flatters someone, please someone give me the chance! I know I could just do it on my own, but I am so poor right now I can’t “waste” materials like a canvas and paint. Sigh.

harbour_sunset_wallpaper[1]What I really wanted to say is that it’s been so long since I’ve painted that I somewhat feel like I am starting over, if that makes sense. I think when anyone pursues art as a profession or hobby, they go through a “phase”. It doesn’t matter what art form it is. Photography: you’ll want to take the perfect sunset, the perfect flower close up, a bird close up, an insect, a cool cityscape, meaningful portrait. Film: Depending on your tastes, you’ll want to make that mafia film, zombie movie, coming-of-age film. Painting: You want to paint a landscape, a cityscape, a portrait, and something in the spotlight (that’s the one I’m doing now).

 

The most iconic images, you’ll want to recreate…and if you’re starting out, you’ll be disillusioned that you’re being original even though what you’re really doing is practicing forming ideas. That’s actually perfectly okay, and I encourage it! If you talked to me bird[1]maybe 5 years ago, I would’ve chewed you out for being generic, but I’ve long since realized there is no such thing as an original idea.We’re all inspired by something around us, and being in a society where you can easily access art lets us absorb lots of previously done ideas. It’s impossible one of those ideas won’t show up in your art. Likewise, when something feels really original, it’s more because it’s culturally relevant and probably something that hasn’t been seen in a long time*. Going through this “phase” lets you get those really generic things out of your head and it’s like baby steps for learning how to develop an idea so that it will be more your own. It’s the training wheels of concept.

Making something your own, IFlower+Wallpaper[1]‘d argue, is more important in art than pursuing being original. But I’m a pretty traditional painter and don’t really care for reinventing the painting medium. I’m not gonna start using my foot or house pant, or painting with gunpowder and fire. It’s not my thing. I appreciate academic painting.

So right now, I am recreating an image I painted very long ago of a ballerina in the spotlight. I’ll explain more later. I anticipate I will probably want to do a pretty cliche landscape next, because I really feel like going through baby steps and seeing how much my painting technique has improved and how I can make really cliche images into my own thing.

* There are things that are truly original, like art depicting new technology, a huge change in culture and society. You can’t say that before the 2000s, pro-LGBT+ art was readily present and sci-fi art definitely was non-existant in something like the 1500s. But you know what I really mean… painting yet another Bob Ross mountainscape is not original, even if you have a different composition and style.

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Credit: Bob Ross.
Photos: No idea, but googled sunset, flower, and bird close up.


Oh yeah, why do photographers obsess over photographing the moon? It pretty much ALWAYS looks the same, maybe slightly rotated.
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My Perspective on The NSCAD Problem as Alumni

So I feel like I really need to say something, as an alumni of NSCAD who was on the inside when things started to really fall apart with my school. It is my school: I invested a good part of money and my life to be there, it is where I met some amazing friends and my partner who I’ve been with for 4 years, and it is where I graduated and really decided to commit to my creative career. To see NSCAD suffer and to hear constant bashing and criticism is like listening to a close friend get trashed and manipulated.

If you’re unaware of what is happening at this small but important Canadian university, a TL;DR: NSCAD is $19+ million in debt, the school in near a state of permanent collapse, and the heritage of being one of the best art schools in Canada is undergoing self-destruction.
There are many articles about this situation, but I feel like this one, by the local Halifax culture rag, The Coast, is a great summary. Many universities are threatened by low profit and outstanding debt’s in today’s economy, but NSCAD is in absolute peril. NSCAD is one of 4 art universities, not a college, in Canada. Its programs are different because they are far more open and focused more on concept than technical skill; you can take different types of courses simultaneously (such as I took ceramics, film, and drawing all within the same degree), you study art history, and you work on coming up with big ideas. What I mean is your classes go beyond just your technical skill and teachers will put in the extra work to really examine your work and offer a thoughtful critique of your ideas. The school is open 24/7 and people work their ass off on their projects. Your profs. will stay after class or go for beers with you quite frequently to talk about your work, the school, art in general. This is what made me come to NSCAD, on top of it being a very small, cozy university that lets you be a focus for instructors instead of just a student number. I wasn’t attracted to school’s like OCAD because I was already fairly well off in the technical realm and OCAD seemed to let anything pass as a thesis project – lots of decorative art and sometimes with very weak fundamentals at the end of a degree? What I found with NSCAD is that completely inexperienced students would enter the painting program, for example, and come out with very strong rendering skills but also with skills in using colour theory, composition, perspective, and generally with a bigger idea to their images.

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Tips on Commissions

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As I’m uploading these, I am realizing how destroyed my laptop is. I can’t see the watermark I placed on this image because the lighter values in my screen bleed out to white. Anyway, today I’d like to talk about COMMISSIONS (again)! This is a new commission I recently finished, and I will be putting it up on my site soon with more WIP updates. It was for an individual into gaming to use on a profile. I get a lot of individual commissions by average people (as in, not institutions or corporations) and I’m pretty average myself – I know where everyone is coming from.

I want to use this person as an example of a great commissioner: They came to me with a clear idea of what they needed, what dimensions, they had a reasonable range of how much they were willing to pay,  they even had references on hand, and overall were co-operative and respectful. They paid immediately. Beautiful.

I have a lot of problematic inquiries.

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Rant about writers, publishers, and other vague individuals commissioning art

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Here’s another one from this year’s archive of unposted stuff. I held off posting this because it’s a sample for a children’s book. I get frequently approached specifically for children’s books. It boggles me. What on my website gallery captures this particular interest? Maybe it’s the choice of style… but you know, just because you wrote a gleeful children’s story and it’s fashionable in our desperate economic time to put on a happy face, it doesn’t mean I am suddenly going to drop everything and draw bright, friendly, optimistic pictures. It’s artistic integrity. I have a firm commitment to the sense of realism to everything I do, whether it’s the anime/cartoon style, or super realistic images. Realism doesn’t mean it looks photo realistic, it refers to the conceptual aspect of a style.

Now this guy didn’t do what typically happens. He had a story that actually fit my style – it was a darker, grittier story, and it was more for boys I’m guessing or girls with that strand of interest.

But what I’ve experienced and seen happen to other illustrators has been that people inexperienced with working with artists treat illustrators like mindless puppets. Let me get this out there…I really don’t give a fuck how good you think your idea or story is. You’re talking to creative people…creative people have ideas all the time. It’s easy to have an idea, but it’s hard to have a truly great idea… and then when you do, that doesn’t make you king of the hill. An idea by itself isn’t worth anything until it’s actualized. You have an idea, but you can’t draw, so you go to an artist. Because you can’t draw, you must treat the artist with respect. For me personally – I’ve been kicking around doing this for 8 years professionally. I think I have some idea of what I’m doing, and I don’t need a condescending tone from a client like I need them to tell me how to move my hands to make the lines. I have a professional demeanor, so it’s not going to show, but I do get really irritated when I deal with this. And you know what? That irritation ends up going into the work, unfortunately. It’s subconscious, and I am human, so it’s hard to let it go sometimes.

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Concept Art – First Sketch from Thumbnail

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Scaling up my selected thumbnail and combining features and sketches to get to a final idea. I had to look up saddles to get the shape of mine right. I changed the proportions to fit better with the body. I imagine such a mid-heavy creature needs a balanced front and back, so he/she needs a sturdy tail and heavy skull. I decided not to draw the human character in because I don’t have a design ready for it – it would just be a bunch of BS and I feel like the saddle already dictates scale.

One thing I’m super anal about is dragon wings. It’s ALWAYS bothered – always – since I was a small child – that most dragon wings are drawn as thin, flimsy bat wings. Nobody stops to think that such a heavy creature needs a little more than that? How do they get it off the ground if they don’t have the strength to move that much air? I feel like thinking of such things is a duty of the character designer. Your character can look cool, but if it looks unbelievable (not necessarily that it needs to make sense or look realistic, just feel believable), then your design is garbage.

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Cylinders and Floating Cast Shadows

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Some really thrilling stuff I’ve been working on in my Digital Painting class. Learning lots about lighting. Probably the most I’ve learnt about lighting in my whole academic art career.

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I want to post this video along with this image because it really helped me and it explains what is happening beautifully. Perspective and light are mighty complex. 

 

WIP Drowning Panel EP1 – Using Black and Details with Image Composition

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More layering. At this stage, I have removed the masking… you can tell by the weird white shape in the mouth :S If anyone out there can recommend a better way to apply masking latex to drawings, that’d be GREAT. I might try rubber cement instead because the latex gets stuck in my brushes and dries chunky.

Not much to say here…I guess I’d like to point out the gray tone I used in the hair – his hair is black, but I will be inking most of that black in and this adds some depth and variation. It would actually be bad for the composition of this image to just throw a giant black shape in like that because the contrast and mass would overwhelm the other subtler values and the desaturated colours. Imagine it as putting a giant black circle in the corner of a blank page with some pencil sketches. Black and black shapes are something to be used carefully in images. Same goes for small detailing, which becomes a visual ‘buzz’ and a distraction when used poorly.

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WIP Drowning Panel EP1 – Quality of Watercolours (See link for Reviews)

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More shading, washes, and layered colours. I’m not really happy with how the watercolour is interacting on the hand. My perfectionist, OCD inner asshole tells me, “Shoulda thought of that! So obvious blue is not going to sit well on skin tone and look like water.”

Well, fuck you. It’s actually not entirely true because the way watercolours interact heavily depends on their make up. The amount of binding agents, the type, whether it’s natural or synthetic pigment, how much and what pigment is used to make the colour, the quality of the materials, the amount of water… Technology is aiming to formulate more consistent, colour accurate, and lightfast paints, but each tube will always be different. If I used a different brand with a different formula, the end result and colour may be very different. I feel like I’m saying this as if “you all should know this”, but I only recently learned this myself after using watercolours for years. I was watching a Japanese watercolourist paint, and the way his paints were interacting was just baffling me. Apparently, I own very shitty (and cheap) watercolours and have been making-do with them.

Make a coffee, get comfortable, and check out the awesome in-depth resources found on Handprint.com!