Further

I’ve had a bit of breakthrough just now. I’ve been stressing about every aspect of my life. All of life is a transitional phase but right now it’s especially true for me. I’m at the end of an undergrad (that I began at 25) and am looking for work and re-evaluating my goals and focus in life, thinking about what city to live in, what sorts of jobs to look for, if I should even bother looking for a partner anymore and trying to fix myself in that area anyway. The point of all this is that in my head, everything is up in the air and all I’ve got is doubt.

I’m scouring my life to try and decide which scraps to try to build a career upon. I feel like the clock is ticking (because it totally is), that I’ve squandered my twenties and there’s this pressing urgency to get busy at something and see it though. Talking to people about the sorts of creative work that are around keeps telling me to learn graphic design, to learn web design, to learn UI/UX and to network and build a portfolio.

But no. I draw comics. It’s thankless work that does not pay, but it’s what I love and it’s the skill that I’ve put the most thought and effort into, and it would be a crime to neglect it. Design and UI/UX are sciences unto themselves, and to learn them (even though I could do it well) would require enormous commitment and time that would be a gigantic detour from where I want to be and will only hinder my comics development. 

So I have to keep drawing, I have to keep writing. I have to keep my head in the clouds (or in orbit, as it were) and keep making as much time as I can to work on my projects, my art, my life. As I said, it’s thankless, it’s solitary, and (at least here in Kitchener-Waterloo) isolated from guidance and support. But it’s got to be done. 

It’s hardly encouraging to realize this. It’s sobering. This is choosing to make life difficult for myself. But it’s a bit of clarity of mind, and that’s something.

MIDCOURSE available March 21!

I’m happy to announce the publication of my first actual comic book, Midcourse, completing the 10-page Part 1 first published in WHAT #2. You can view that first part of the story online HERE.

The 30-page anthology will be available for purchase for $10.00 starting March 21, where I’ll be selling copies at the opening reception for my undergrad thesis art exhibition at the University of Waterloo Art Gallery from 5-8PM. More info on that show HERE.

The ship is dockin’, interlockin’

I’m reporting live from the depths of the most productive period of my life thus far.

It’s my last term of my fine art education and I’m racing to get my work done before the end of the term. My class has an exhibition at the University of Waterloo Art Gallery in mid-March as both the culmination of our four year program and as (ideally) the beginning of our professional art careers.

I’m working on finishing my latest comics project, Midcourse. It’s a sordid near-future sci-fi tale of deep space. I published the first installment in WHAT #2 in October, which you can see here.

what-preview

 

I’ve completed part 2, and part 3 is underway. I’ve never been this efficient and productive. I’m amazing even myself. I thought it would be a lonely task but I really enjoy blocking out the world and zoning into my drawing table with some good music, snacks and laptop nearby. Also coffee.

 

The three parts will be released together in print, which will be my first real comic book. I’ll be debuting it at the grad exhibition on March 21, with the comic and some other drawings and work of mine. I’m really excited, but there’s still a lot of work to do. I’m currently at 22 pages out of an eventual 34.

I’ll still have 2 more courses to do over the summer, but come August, I’ll be done university and will need to start a life or something. I’ve been applying for things, making longer-term plans, but I’m still very uncertain about the future. At hand is the task.

Wheat Kings and Pretty Things

So I posted before about Canzine, the big zine fest in Toronto. I went this past weekend, made lots of zines, prints and buttons, and sold very few of them. I also met tons of great people doing amazing work, made connections with other cartoonists doing similar work, and got my first show under my belt. I also had lots of great friends stop by to support, visit and help me. It was a great but exhausting day.

The day, however, has come and gone. I had a big “now what” slump, especially after seeing all the superior work of my contemporaries and realizing I need to step up my game a thousandfold. Now I’ve calmed a bit. I’m back at work on the next thing. Always the next thing. Learn from what didn’t work and do better on the next thing.

Of my existing projects, Diaspora is finally rolling along. I’ve got page 8 open in another window right now, doing some final colouring before lettering and publishing. My comic with Steve is also slowly rolling along, mostly limited by our availability to meet up.

I’m also a sort of art roadie. Over the past few years I’ve worked as a studio assistant for Kitchener-based sculptor Gareth Lichty. Working with him has been amazing. He’s taught me so much about art, life and the day-to-day reality of being an artist in Southern Ontario. I’ve learned a ton of practical skills working on his projects and installing the work of others as well. He’s cornered the market on installing art in galleries and does just about every install in town with the exception the KW Art Gallery (who I’ve worked for a few times). Over the course of all this I’ve learned to problem solve, use just about any tool, and have had the opportunity to do and build some very bizarre things.

He’s also introduced me to the who’s who of the Ontario art scene. This has led to some great opportunities and working with a bunch of other artists. This week, I bagged off school to help another Kitchener-based sculptor Mary-Catherine Newcombe. I’ve helped her install projects before and it’s always been something weird and cool.

This time, she’d installed a wheat field inside Toronto’s only Byzantine-style church, St. Anne’s Anglican, at Gladstone and Dundas. It boasts paintings inside done by Group of Seven artists before they were famous. I’m not religious at all but the place is magnificent.

Anyway, we had to remove the wheat, bundle and pack it for storage and shipping, which will then be reconfigured and shown at the University of Waterloo Art Gallery in January. Pictures! Lookit!

The church.

The wheat field.

Pack it all up.

This is how wheat is shipped.

Next post will probably be about Halloween or something. I might rant about why I don’t use the stupid apostrophe spelling for it.

Interim

That painting? Done.

All nighter? Pulled.

Slept yet? No.

I’m happy with it. I don’t know a title yet. I’ll figure something out. I may or may not add more to it. I originally wanted it lavishly-detailed but now I kind of like the abstract simplicity that emerged as I aimed for photorealism (edited for time constraints).

The painting is for my studio class, and the vague theme of this assignment was identity. I eventually settled on this because I’ve never not lived in the suburbs and it’s become more and more apparent how much it is every part of me. I’m born to parents from two very different cultures, so instead of being raised in either one, I grew up with the mass consensus of Ontario monoculture. Television, racist classmates and neighbours and no exposure to anything worthwhile. I’ve spent a lot of time hating the suburbs and all the trappings thereof, but this project became a huge exercise in accepting and embracing this big part of me.

Each step, from hand-drawing the street grid in pencil, to plotting out the lots, to shading in the green and painting the houses, was laborious and meditative. The best approach was to space out and somehow shit got gone (according to my very specific process). The whole thing was an experience. Every strange intersection reminded me of somewhere I’d been growing up. The other angle I approached this from was wanting to portray the contrast of tight proximity with the utter lack of community. Everyone is in opposition and competition with everyone around them. Better lawns, better gardens, better entertainment systems cocooned inside. Everyone is divided, for the benefit of augmenting their castle. Mass redundancy. Also you must own and operate a car to be able to do anything.

I could write tons more but I’m mentally and physically exhausted. I’m happy with this piece.

Photo:

In the suburbs, I

School has hit hard. I have a lot to do and little time to do it. I shouldn’t waste time blogging. I’ve blown off lots of social stuff and lots of good friends: Sorry about that. I just have a lot to get done and a lot to prove to myself. Things are good, I’m just not eating or sleeping. No big deal.

One of the things I’m working on at school is this 3×3 foot painting of suburbia. It’s due friday and I’m maybe 50% done, despite having put A LOT of hours in already. Sunday I was there from 3pm to 3am. I’ve begun tracking my hours on each project, and become obsessed with metrics on the whole, documenting how many coffees I’ve had per project, how much beard grown in a given time, etc.

It’s really windy outside.

Here are some shots of my suburbia painting: