Saturday, January 23, 2016

Moving Around

I've moved my blog to my main website, I'll be posting updates there instead of here from now on unless otherwise noted.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

New Steps. No Sleep.

It is three minutes past midnight, and here I am, unsuccessfully falling asleep. Until today, I had forgotten to purchase new plastic sheeting for my bedroom windows, and the nightly cold blasted through the seams and directly into my bones. Hence, I have set up new sleeping quarters in the living room. It's not quite a fort, but it may as well be. I almost feel 5 again.

The less sleep I get, the more poetic I become. Odd.

In exactly 12 hours and 24 minutes, I will begin the next step of my career: teaching a college course on Motion Graphics. I realize many artists do this. Still, it's terrifying. There are actual human beings under my care; while I've managed high school classrooms, and freshman college students are basically still high schoolers, this feels different. These students are headed towards a career. It's strange to think that I was one of them not very long ago.

I didn't even drink tonight. Why am I so verbose?

I tried to sleep. The cat judged my efforts wanting, and proceeded to mew at me as loudly as she could from below the couch-bed, atop the couch-bed, on the couch-bed, and on whatever surface she could leap onto before I shooed her away. I shall try again.

Shall? Yeesh. I really do need to sleep.

I'll have a coffee in a few hours to try to fix whatever mood this is. Nervousness? Coffee might not help with that. I'll have a chai.

Away I slip into the cold embrace of adulthood...again.

Jaz, Where Have You Been?

This was originally written last December 16th. 
I think I write a "Whoops, I haven't blogged in a while" post about twice a year. Where have I been? Well, Me (as I'm the only one who really reads this thing), I've been delving into the strangely addictive world of Instagram. After spending hours scrolling through artists' pages, and staring at that one hedgehog who somehow has his own handle, I curl up in a corner lamenting how little my work has grown over the past day. Rinse and repeat. 
I realize this is an entirely fixable problem. I can set a 10-minute limit for oo-ing and ah-ing over Mr. Hedgehog (sometimes, he wears a hat!). I can decide to avoid social media altogether. But as the weather cools down and the sun sets early, I find resisting the urge to curl up in a corner with a snack and a "like" button more and more difficult.
This leads me to my current condition: curled up in a corner in a café, updating my website. I still have tea here, and if I wish, I can hop over to Instagram and make googly eyes at my favorite artists' new character designs. But something about being out of my own house helps me focus. Maybe it's the lack of bed. More likely, it's the stigma attached to sleeping in public places. I've never been one to fall in line with public shaming, but the corners here don't have my favorite pillows in them. They simply will not do for a nap.
Anyway, I'm not dead, Me. I'm fighting a winter cold and prepping for the deathblow to my wallet that is Christmas, but alive I shall stay until Valhalla calls me home. Wish me luck.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Inktober Inspiration

All images (c) Matteo Scalera, y'all.

Inktober is upon us! I admit I've been slacking off, even this early in the month. Thankfully, my local comic shop came to inspirational rescue with a large-format copy of Black Science issue 1. Rob Remender can write his butt off, but i bought it for Matteo Scalera's gorgeous ink work.

To be fair, some of those blocks of grayscale are from the color version of the book. Still, the dude knows what he's doing. Those aren't pen liner outlines wih brush and ink to fill in. That's straight brush work. The way he works with darks and lights is fascinating. Its so moody.

I mean, my goodness. I normally spend my obsession energy on the Wonder Twins, but they'll have to forgive me. I still love them, but Scalera's got this game on lock right now.

Look at that contrasting layout. Look at it.

If you haven't read Black Science, you should start. It's beginning to get a little weird, but I have high hopes-- mainly based on my love of SciFi and how the story has been going so far.

Good stuff.

Monday, September 28, 2015

This Week's Read: Divinity

I realize I'm late starting this one, but that's OK. There are so many books in the world that reading them all as soon as they're released would be nigh impossible.

Divinity is written by Matt Kindt, and therefore, I'd like to read more issues to see where it goes. Mind MGMT held my attention, and I can be picky about art styles. Kindt puts out imaginative stories in interesting worlds. Divinity begins in the Soviet Union, with a young man named Abram Adams scheduled for a secret mission. He'll be sent into space for 30 years in order to reach the edge of the galaxy. The scientists working on the mission have instructed him to rethink time and space as he knows it, because time's flexibility is the key to the mission.

It could be just like Interstellar, but thankfully, it's quite different. Kindt writes a strange and intriguing tale of a man who just wants to experience something new, and encounters consequences stranger and stronger than anything which he could dream.

I'm going to pick up the subsequent issues of Divinity, just to see where Kindt takes this.

Writer: Matt Kindt
Artist: Trevor Hairsine
Inker: Ryan Winn
Colorist: David Baron
Publisher: Valiant

Go read.

Monday, September 21, 2015

This Week's Read: Chicken With Plums

Marjane Satrapi's Chicken With Plums is much shorter than her more well-known Persepolis. Even so, her narrative style is obvious.

CWP follows Nasser Ali Khan, a man who wishes to lay in bed until he dies. The process takes 8 days. During those 8 days, Nasser recalls the life experiences that led him to his decision.

It sounds horribly morbid -- and I suppose it is -- but it's an interesting look into what different people feel are insurmountable issues. If nothing else, it's always good to read more Marjane Satrapi.

Go read.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Pay The Artist.

In case you didn't know, most artists have bills to pay. Besides rent, internet, groceries, gas, water, and electric, there are also supply purchases and student loan payments. In short, artists have to pay as much as anyone else in order to keep living.

I make sure to discuss payment before starting any work. It's not the first thing I mention, but it's a necessary part of the conversation. Sometimes, that discussion is met with confusion, irritation, or anger. Here are some excuses for this strange behavior:

1. The Myth of The "Starving Artist" As A Glamorous Condition  

Not being able to afford food isn't fun, and it certainly isn't glamorous, but many people have a romanticized view of The Artist. In their minds, The Artist lives in an expensive, high ceiling loft in SoHo with french doors that open onto a large balcony. The Artist breathes in the fresh air every morning whilst holding a cup of organic Peruvian coffee through the sleeves of an imported fair trade Ukrainian tunic, and the inspiration of the city charges them with all the energy needed to paint piles and piles of gorgeous canvas work without even trying. They don't get paid to create. They do it only because they love it.

Yea, OK. No.

Well, the coffee part is right. We tend to need lots of caffeine. But the rest of it? Nah. Most artists create their own work half of the time, and the other half is spent at a day job. The day job might be art-related, but it'll be for someone else, and since it's a job, they're getting paid for it. 

That loft, probably not in SoHo, is shared with several roommates. Even in Philly, where rent is much lower than in New York (low enough to live alone if need be), the struggle to keep afloat is serious business. Art is hard work - and clearly, because you're asking someone to do it, you don't have the skills to do it yourself. I don't need your romantic idealizing. I need something I can use. Please and thank you.

2. Bartering Is For The Birds

This is a weird one. Personally, I love to barter. You need animation? I need soundtrack design? Let's trade! It usually works out just fine, but some people seem a little put off by it. Perhaps it's because they don't want to have to "owe" anyone anything...but that's what they signed up for, so...

Luckily, I haven't run into many people who both don't want to pay a full fee and also don't see bartering as a viable option. When I have, I side-shuffled away.

3. Familial/Amiable Bonds

I get it. As an 8 year old, I drew a cute picture for you and didn't ask for anything in return. It's super cute that there are adults in the world who still draw instead of getting a "real job," so if one of them is related to you, you shouldn't have to pay for it, right?


Let's iterate: artists have bills to pay. Just because I decided to pursue a different career path than you did, doesn't mean I shouldn't get paid for being able to paint an 8.5" x 11" portrait of your buddy's veterinarian's sister's dog for his 5th birthday. The work, not to mention expenses, I put into my craft are high, which is why you're asking me to paint that picture in the first place. If you can make salary for sitting around in an office for the first 5 hours of the day, making spreadsheets for the next hour, and then scrolling through Facebook until you get to go home, then you can pay me a fee for my work.

Now if I offer to do a job for free, then that's different. But don't assume that because I know you personally, I'm not going to want some form of payment. Again, bartering is great! Just don't offer me a big fat nothing.

4. Personal Woes

I'm more lenient on this one. If you're about to have a kid, or you're having serious money troubles, we can probably work something out. It will most likely mean that you will receive less work from me than in different circumstances, or we set up a contract wherein you pay me in installments, but I understand that sometimes, people legitimately need work done, but legitimately don't have all the funds for it.

This is where bartering comes in handy! People have all kinds of skills, and networking through the bartering of said skills can build a great reputation.

However, please don't call me at the very end of the project, after having agreed to all the details, and give me a sob story about how your grandmother's pet snake just gave birth to 10 little baby snakes that all need food and water and you simply can't spare the cash. First of all, snakes lay eggs, so I'll know you're lying. Secondly, and here's the most important part: you already agreed to the fee. There's even a contract saying as much. I've gotten my first deposit, and a possible second if we're working off of a 3-segment payment plan, but don't lie and try to skip out on the full fee because you don't feel the artists you employ don't really deserve it. It's not only rude, it's unprofessional. A client once told me he could just Google how to animate in After Effects, and do a 4-day job himself in a day, instead of paying me what he thought was an exorbitant (but actually super low) fee for my help. Good luck to him.

Basically, unless I tell you we're good, assume you need to give something in return for my hard work. I didn't hurl myself into the cold embrace of lifelong student loan debt just so I could doodle on notebooks for funsies. I'd doodle for funsies regardless. If you're doing business with me, then you'd better mean business.

My life guru, Malcolm Reynolds, put it best: