Monday, January 15, 2018


Here's a portrait study I did of that rootin' tootin' Texan, TJ "IvyLeaguePunk" Smith '10, complete with an ivy-laced background and little mini 'zas!

This started as a study to test out a new pencil brush I downloaded (man, what an excellent brush it turned out to be! It's like KNKL's chalk brush, only just a little more concentrated!), but cookie-mousedly, I felt compelled to continue working on it, and today we finally gave the piece its final few moments in the oven after its stint on the back burner--it looks like I did the initial lines early last month.

I've told pretty much all the TJ stories I know from college by now--Yale, like Harry Potter, has different "houses" (or "colleges," if you are of the civilized sort), and his (Morse? Stiles? Is there a difference? [There is not.]) was on the total opposite side of campus from mine (JE)--though I generally didn't "hang out" anyway--so we didn't interact too, too much, thus I mainly knew him through shows he'd do here and there, including off campus at a venue called "The Space," which I believe is still there, but renamed and re-skinned from its former nostalgia-ridden, arcade-y vibe. Anyway, it was always fun listening to his band, The Sandy Gill Affair, play, meanwhile I'd invariably be sketching as invisibly as possible in the audience somewhere. So many wonderful memories of listening to Yale bands and disappearing into a sketchbook. I'm pretty sure I was going deep on my official My Chemical Romance sketchbook in those days! That thing rocked.

Oh! Here's some TJrivia: he did a cover of Taking Back Sunday's "Timberwolves at New Jersey" once, that was pretty neat. Taking Back Sunday holds a special place in my heart because Louder Now was the last album I bought just before Yale, so that summer and especially that auspicious, mysterious flight--my first flight ever--is always associated with that album, and consequently so is that early, blissfully chaotic period of starting life anew at Yale. So it was really cool not only to find that someone at rap-centric Yale had heard of TBS, but even further, that they would be moved to perform their stuff! Does that count as a TJ story? I'm being told it does. Nice.

Anyway, it's been neat seeing TJ plug away at his projects these days. Lately he's focusing on streaming, which is admittedly hard to catch live (and to be perfectly honest, I loathe Twitch for how lag-prone I've found it to be way too often), so I'll have to go the binge route on YouTube, assuming that's still in the works (I gather there've been some issues with YT and creatives, so who knows). He also wrapped playing a crusty cap'n type on this limited series podcast called The Dark Ones, which was pretty cool and he was one of the strongest players, to boot. I'm eager to check out more of his stuff down the road. Down the rodeo? Cowboys, Texas, etc.

Not normal,


Monday, January 1, 2018


Ok, here's our first art of 2018! It is a riff on our New Years' ZLM piece from last year, so it's Z and Nyao in the same costumes as that one J.C. Leyendecker painting I always associate with New Years'. To make this more thematic, I drew Z on New Years' Eve, and Nyao on New Years' Day. The props and stuff were inspired by a bunch of vintage New Years' photos I spotted online.

I enjoy really dressing these guys up in formal duds on occasion, likely stemming from "The New Year," by Death Cab for Cutie, which has that classic line, "So everybody put your best suit or dress on / Let's make believe that we are wealthy for just this once," because it was always like getting to go on a shopping spree with no concern for budget. Giving these guys nice costumes is like giving my friends a little gift I could never give them in real life. I guess it also owes to my love of how fashionable JP comics can get, I'm thinking of Obata Takeshi for instance, whose Hikaru from Hikaru no Go played a role in Z's design, actually. He looks quite dashing in a tuxedo, I must admit.

Anyway, we might as well check in on our resolutions from last year--

Goal 1: Draw more digital pieces.
Quantifiable: 1 digital drawing a week.
Result: Pass.
Just skimming my Instagram, I am confident I was able to do well over 52 paintings! Easy! Can't believe I was nervous about this one.

Goal 2: Draw at least 3 comics and some SLSs
Quantifiable: Coverage Draft, Splinter, and Songs About Chie, + 12 Sick Little Suicides.
Result: Fail.
The closest I got was 11 or 12 SLSes, depending on how you count--I did some Magic stuff that intersected a bit, and I ended up not posting a few cuz they didn't feel good enough, but then again, what's the point if I don't post them? Note, I'm writing this on 1/4/18, when I have some gaps in the archives, so I'll likely backposting these at some point. As for the comics, this was quite a dismal failure. I've started drawing Splinter and Coverage Draft, but the latter is on pause to focus on Splinter, which is stalled on page 4 of 13. This is unacceptable. I got caught up focusing on illustrations that felt more pressing and relevant, as well as the daily sites' posting schedule, which didn't leave energy for the comics. The solution seems quite obviously to forget about illustration for a while, but I feel such pressure to make pieces daily and keep present and to bolster the portfolio with illustrations, which I suspect must be more important.

Goal 3: Draw more fan art.
Quantifiable: 1 fan art a month.
Result: Pass.
This was pretty easy. I forgot about Inktober, which kinda makes this quantity child's play, but treating that as simply one mega-image for the month, I'm pretty sure we've been able to do at least 12 fan arts. The finer print about being more face-shovey about my stuff has been harder, but that definitely has to be a continuous goal going forward.

Goal 4: Study more.
Quantifiable: 30min+ every day.
Result: Pass.
I've been able to keep up the pace more or less coming up on post number 365, though I can't remember why the numbering is off. I actually believe I should be pulling back on this since I need to be making more finished, portfolioable stuff...I've tried compromising by just sketching in pen on paper, or with no eraser if digital...I's easy to get carried away and bogged down.

So, we went 3 for 4. The most important goal, to make crucial comics, was the one we missed. 3/4 isn't good enough here.

Goals this year are basically more of the same, since we were able to accomplish most of these without being overwhelmed--

Goal 1: Draw similar amounts of digital pieces and make one portfolio piece a month.
Quantifiable: 1 nice digital drawing a week, 1 portfolioable piece a month.
Method: Just paint. We should strive for experimentation and growth, though...avoid relying on water and falling into similar well-trodden gimmicks. More importantly, regardless of how many digitals we do, we need to make a "nice" one every week, one that we can look at as a real, completed thought. On top of that, we have to develop one painting every month that could be a portfolio candidate.

Goal 2: Draw at least 3 comics and 12 SLSs and some ZLM stuff for the 10th anniversary
Quantifiable: Coverage Draft, Splinter, and Songs About Chie, + 12 Sick Little Suicides +1 or more ZLMs.
Method: Draw Splinter. Work on one panel at a time. We have all these comics written and thumbnailed, you just need to draw them out. So just go and do it. At a rate of one panel a day, it'll take a while, but hopefully it'll be the bare minimum that drives us to complete more than that laughable quota. You did four a day in college, come on, more on Herald day...As for SLS, actually hop on stuff and just do it, regardless of finished quality, just like a YDN brief. As for ZLM, if you have to redraw your favorite comics, do it. Or draw some of the newer scripts. Or something, even just a nice character profile treatment or splash or something. We have to mark the 10 year anniversary. Do it for Z and N!

Goal 3: Draw similar amounts of fan art.
Quantifiable: 1 fan art a month.
Method: Pick stuff I can deal with and draw it. Also, hype it--actually throw it in front of the relevant parties, don't rely on people grapevining it to them. Mimic all those dumb, faux-self-deprecating people you see online, whatever you have to do to stomach forcing people to look at your garbooj.

Goal 4: Study Similarly.
Quantifiable: 30min+ every day.
Method: Same as always, just sketch/study daily off of resources we find online. But crucially, don't get carried away to the detriment of actual work. Study, but don't procrastinate or cower in fear from what we must do.

So those are our goals, we've got to do better. This has to be the year. We must do better. Treat it like life or death.

Not normal,