Movin’ on up

Whattup, Internet. I’ve fallen behind on Diaspora but have finally got page 9 ready. It’s intricate and took forever but I’m reasonably happy with it. I’m currently drawing the next page, and hopefully colouring will fall together quickly now that I’m past more meticulous things like a city-wide hero shot. Click the image to go to the new page, or click HERE to start the comic from the beginning.

 

I’m also trying to figure things out for my upcoming graduation exhibition in March. UWAG hosts the fourth-year grad exhibition every year and I don’ really know how my work fits into a gallery setting. I’ve got some related sculptural ideas that tie in both with Diaspora and some other ideas I’ve been throwing around about human impact on the world, and expanding that world to reflect our expanding reach into the cosmos. I’ll keep you updated as I work it out.

I’m also excited about new creative possibilities with friends old and new. I just need to make time to meet up with folks and then actually follow through on our plans. Time management is always the pickle. Now I’m going to go eat.

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The bleeps, the sweeps and the creeps.

New stuff up on what. One new page on Diaspora. More in the pipeline.

It’s Halloween weekend. I went to two very different parties. Had fun at both. Except the second party ended up at some bro party in Laurier land and I was reminded how much I absolutely hate males. I then ate a lot of pizza.

Today I wrote some letters to friends. Friends are good to have. I don’t really care to make new ones these days, which is maybe sad, but I definitely want to strengthen my existing friendships. Sometimes it feels pointless, though, with everyone I know in Waterloo cycling out every two years. It seems appropriate for me to duck out as well once I finish school. I plan to airdrop resumes from coast to coast. I’m sad in advance to leave, but I really have no clue where I’ll be a year from now. I feel like life has thrown some major seismic shifts my way, but I also feel it’s nothing compared to what lies ahead. Thinking about it is overwhelming. Time for some Doritos.

 

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.

Annual Check-in

I’ve been extra extra busy. School has hit hard. I’ve moved from my old studio to new space at school. All my old projects still languish in limbo but I’ve gotten a lot done on new things. Projects on the go include:

  • Diaspora: First installment is ready, I just need to make a website. I’m writing the next sequences and about ready to draw more.
  • WHAT Magazine: The second zine is being drawn and readied. I’ve got several pages left to draw and then assemble the final zine. Issue number 2 looms! I’ll be printing many for:
  • Canzine 2012: A big zine fair in Toronto on October 21. I’ve registered for a table and will be selling zines, prints and buttons. You can buy the new What #2, my 2010 24-Hour Comic (also available at my website) and a special minizine made for the convention.I’m also preparing some exclusive WHAT poster prints and business cards and an updated website to roll out with the show. I’m not expecting any huge success with the show, just looking forward to finishing new work and getting it out there.
  • Comic with Steve: It’s rolling along. We haven’t met much since school started but we’re eager to dive back in, and this is the project I’ve made the most progress in. It’s through the process of planning, designing and drawing with him that I’ve further developed my skills and something resembling a style has begun to emerge. It’s encouraging.

I’ll also be doing comics as my undegrad thesis, so I’ve got a lot of formal experimentation and writing and cartooning exercises planned. I’m also self-teaching to switch to all-digital workflow, scanning only maybe loose pencils. I found this great link from idrawdigital for making webcomics, which I’m looking forward to diving into.

The eating of brains and the bleeding of hearts; it all makes for some pretty cool art

Current projects need more doing. I’m making a lot of progress on an as-yet-unnamed comic project with my friend Steve. We’re settling into a productive groove and I’m becoming happier with the work I’m producing. We meet weekly to ensure shit gets done, and it’s working nicely.

Creative routine is key. Ours is to meet and get a few hours of production in, with a downtown lunch run in the middle. I have my drawing table set up with bright heat-producing lighting, and all necessary tools within arm’s reach. Steve sits at a table next to mine, writing and developing the story while I draw. Sometimes we map out pages together, sometimes he seeks my input, other times he’s got a solid page totally planned out and I simply draw it. For lunches, we’ve got downtown worked into a trio of places we go to: The Triad of Cheap. Hasty Market for gyros, falafels and burgers; Mark’s Downtown Diner (when seasonally open); and Queen Street Commons for the best food deals in town. I also ritually get coffee at Pyrus every morning when I arrive there.

I’m trying to apply this to my own comic, Diaspora. I’ve set and failed to achieve goals with this comic chronically over the past couple of years. My current goal is to finish issue 1 by September 1st. Chris Ware said it took him seven years to make his masterpiece Jimmy Corrigan. That’s not super heartening, except for the fact that his work is lavish and meticulous and that I’m no Chris Ware and my simple dumb drawings can be done in an afternoon. Anyway, from there, I may put Diaspora online or try and get it all printed, but that seems like a lot of overhead that I can’t really handle financially. Self-publishing online seems the best option. Waterloo-based Scott Chantler got his start that way, and the webcomic model is a good one to emulate. The thing about following models in the art world is that there is no model. Everyone has to figure out their own hustle. What they don’t tell you or teach you in art school is that you have to be an extremely shrewd capitalist to get anywhere. My goal is to have my finished work seen and appreciated, not to make money. I don’t buy art or comics so it’s hard to expect anyone to care or buy mine. If it’s a decent product, profit can happen later. That said, I need to get on top of finances. I need to grow up and build a life for myself. Wasteful and misdirected energy is something I need to change in my life.

I’ve got about fifteen pages of Diaspora #1 drawn and in various stages of inking, colouring and lettering. I’ve got the first eight done but am currently recolouring and revising some older work I was unhappy with. The most time-consuming tasks are the cityscapes. I’ve put a lot of mental energy into fleshing out a future world for the story to unfold in, and drawing it has been a challenge. What I enjoy about this project is that it’s forcing me to use all my tricks, to problem solve and to self-edit. I’ve become less shy about restarting.

I’m doing this all on my own, and I wish I had some guidance. I’m involved in the local art community and know a lot of brilliant artists but nobody is doing the same work as me. I’m in art school and it’s not preparing me at all; for comics or life. There are some local comics pros I want to get in touch with and seek some guidance. I don’t want to have to reinvent the wheel for myself over and over again, and I’d love feedback on my work from people I look up to.

I’m obsessed with space. That’s what got the whole ball rolling on Diaspora, and I’m transferring that over into another comic that I’m developing, and avidly following the progress of SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft, the first commercially-produced spacecraft to fly to the International Space Station. Epic, epic stuff. I also started a tumblr of space images, Cosmic Walkabout. Check it out. I’m trying to channel that enthusiasm into motivation for my own work. I’ll go do that now.

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.

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