In Which I Say, “Hello, it’s me” and a Year In Review

The end of the year seemed to come in a flash! It seems like it was just last week that I was at SPX and launching TS, and now it’s the end of the year! It’s crazy! Of course, health problems and a bunch of work will make the time flash away like that. October and November were terrible for me, to the point that I had to put the webcomic on hold until I got a better hold of my health. That finally obtained, TS will start up again in the new year. I was going to have it start again in January, but because I really want to have a strong return (not to mention a good backlog if this happens again), it will be coming back on Valentine’s Day because I am a huge sap like that.

imageI was looking back at my post from the beginning of this year, and I almost laughed, because I was still marveling that I finally had my art studio set up, but there were still things I wanted to adjust in it. Like those curtains! but it pretty much looks the same today as it did then, except with more paper clutter and various projects in process spread everywhere. And those curtains are still there. But even more hilarious was at this point, I still didn’t know for sure if I was going all of this in vain or not. But, this year I had my comic debut and everything about that is still super surreal. I hold the physical copies in my hand, and just stare, thinking “I made this. You made this, Aja. And it was during one of the hardest times of your life. You can do anything from here!”

While I didn’t talk about it much, I lost one of my grandmothers this time last year, and another in March. They were so supportive throughout my art education and ambitions, and my biggest cheerleaders throughout all of this. I’m sad they aren’t here, but I know they are proud of me. I just wish I could share this with them.

And now I’m crying.

Onto happier things! Or, more sobering things? End of the year means making a plan for the next. Whenever I make these art plans, I always feel bad, because I tend not to follow them, as something unexpected gets thrown in my path. This year, I’m going to try my best to see these through. Some of these are going to get very business-y and may seem a little dry, but I’m trying to shift to working on art full-time, so that means I have to put a lot of work in behind the scenes. I love creating, and I want to get to a place where I can get paid to do what I love– because isn’t that all what we want?

  1. Social Media Presence
    Facebook
    If you follow me on any social media, then you know I’ve been leaning towards certain platforms this year. After closing my personal Facebook account completely, I established a fan page instead, which goes really neglected right now, save for the updates I do here, which automatically are sent there. This is something I need to work on in the new year, somehow. Facebook still gives me a headache, but it’s hard to deny that a lot of traffic I get to my portfolio is from there. Which means actually putting effort in to keeping it updated. And it also means I may have to reopen a personal account, if only for upkeep purposes. It’s a slippery slope, and I am wary about it.

    InstagramIMG_3183
    Instagram was a surprise this year. I started an account late last year, because so many artists I like also had accounts– but mine has been a joy to keep. It makes it so easy to take progress pictures and share them with people. I love looking at the progress of other artists, as you get a little peak into their process, and I like to share mine to show people how much work goes into my illustrations (see any watercolor painting I’ve ever done haha) I really love taking pictures for it. While the platform can get a bit spammy, I enjoy it because it’s more picture heavy, like Tumblr used to be. I’ll be focusing more on Instagram in the new year, even more so than I am now. I’m going to try to experiment a bit with posting schedules (is posting every day too much? twice a week?)

    Twitter
    Ever the Twitter addict, I’ve managed to double my followers this year– and while a handful of them are book bots, most of them are actual people who converse with me. I met so many amazing people this year because of Twitter, and I’m so thankful for it. It’s connected me to other comic artists, lost classmates, and friends in Japan. While people look at me strange when I tell them I’m not on Facebook, Twitter has more than filled that void of communication for me.

    Tumblr
    I don’t know if it’s that the honeymoon is over, or that I won’t allow myself to get lost on that site for hours at a time anymore, because it’s a huge time suck, and I have so many other time sucks in my life, but I haven’t been using Tumblr as much anymore. Right now TS is hosted on Tumblr, but I am in the process of shifting that over to WordPress, as soon as I have a week to scream at my screen about how none of the css and html makes any sense. I still go over to Tumblr and play for an hour or so– I use it a lot for clothing ideas, art inspiration, you know all the things you are supposed to use Pintrest for, but I just haven’t found myself posting much on it anymore. I may need to give it another shot in the new year, as it is a great platform, but it just takes so much of a time investment.

    This Blog
    I know I was really really slack in my updates this year. This comes from no longer having a day job where I have loads of free time to brainstorm ideas to write about. But I know I’ve been neglectful of this blog this year, and I need to rectify that. I’m playing with ideas of monthly entries of a running theme. Like watch a movie once a month, review the storytelling elements; read a comic, review it; buy art supplies, review it. Basically reviewing things. I haven’t decided if this is something I want to put here or not, mainly because I’m not sure if people would want to read it or not. The art supplies, I know people would be interested in, as I try out so many things– but the others? Is there interest?

  2. Working on Tokyo ♥ Story and upping my page count
    A lot of my focus will be here. For the first quarter, the comic will be having monthly updates until a sufficient backlog is established. You know, follow all of that webcomic advice you got before you started, Aja? Launching the webcomic was a scary step for me, because I really wasn’t ready to launch it, but I couldn’t bring the book to SPX and then say “okay now wait three months before you get the next page,” but that’s what ended up happening anyway due to my health problems, so I kind of shot myself in the foot there. 100% my fault, and I need to resolve that. Along with pages, I want to get new illustrations and new character studies done for the series, because right now I am working off of designs that are six years old, that I’ll update in a very quick pencil sketch. I need to give this series the time and focus I should be.
  3. Working on Portfolio Illustrationsreyreyrey
    As crazy as it sounds, I do get burnt out with doing comic pages sometimes. When that happens, I need to not just step back from everything for days on end, and instead focus on other things. Like new illustrations. I had a blast this Inktober, even though I didn’t do all 31 days, I tried my best, and really pushed myself in inking and coloring styles. I need to push myself more like that. If that means picking a theme and going with it, like I did with Inktober, then that’s what I need to do.
  4. Learning
    This year I’m also going to make sure that I take time out every week and invest some time into learning and trying to up my technique. Watching tutorials is all well and good, but what I really need to do is take that knowledge and start applying it. I think it’s also time to go through the Loomis books again and work from there. My figure drawing has been lacking lately– like a lot, and I need to work on that. Loomis has always helped in that regard. And if I can tie in some of this work with getting some portfolio illustrations done, even better! I need to play more, to experiment more, and thus learn more.
  5. Shorts
    And to stack further work on top of my shoulders, I would like to finish two more comic shorts in 2016. Not super long stories, but stories no longer than 10 pages or so. I’ve always struggled with telling stories in short form, and that’s something I want to get better at. This does not include the Dragon Age parody comics I’ve talked about for the last year, that I have outlined, but done nothing with =_=

So much for keeping things simple! But they are goals, not things set in stone. I didn’t know I’d be working half a year on a comic last year at this time, and I’m not going to pass up an opportunity if it presents itself again. Basically, next year I want to strive to continue to create and start pushing myself out of my comfort levels. Wow, there you go, all summed up in one sentence.

 

HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE!

 

 

 

New Format!

14.06.13-001Hello and welcome from the past!

I am writing this in the past to tell the future that the site is back up and running! Break over, and things will get back to normal as usual on Sunday. If you’re reading this blog on the site, then you’ll notice that everything is different! If you’re reading on a RSS, then go to the site and look around! There is a spiffy new format which I just adore. I finally broke down and put some money into it, instead of torturing myself trying to get the WP code to do things myself.

Was it the lazy way? Maybe. Was it the efficient way? You bet. Because I can now stop wasting my time fooling with the WP code and get back to the important stuff, like creating new art. By this time, everything should be up and running perfectly, so take a look around the site. There’s no new art yet (sorry), but there is new organization, and some things that I have been meaning to put up, but had been waiting until a new format was finished (like the Western AU project and a page dedicated to illoLifeRPG). There are a few little behind the scenes things that need to be tended to, but that won’t impede on the site experience– and can be done in small  chunks (and might be held off until I am back in the States).

Speaking of which! June 6th was the official marker point for me having only two months left in Japan! Time has flown by, and as much as I am sad to go, I am so happy to be going home, I can’t even express it. To have a bed again. And air conditioning. And Sonic’s Cherry Limeades. Priorities man. Priorities. These last two months will be crazy, but I’m going to make it a priority to keep updating things on the blog, even if I have to write from the past again, like I am doing now. Also once I am back in the States, I’m going to be looking into a few affiliates programs, so fair warning that some small advertisements are coming. But like seriously small ones. I can’t stand lots of ads, so I wouldn’t ask my readers to stand them either. I’m also eying Patreon, but I do not think I am ready for that quite yet.

So, to review: New site; regular updates start up again on Sunday; I’ll be back in the States in August; I am a fool for Sonic Limeades; and I’m looking into affiliate programs.

Onward!!

The Art of Housekeeping Art

It’s almost May now. We’ve started the three month countdown to when I will be back in the states, and actively seeking artist work. Because of this, I’m starting the search now, and I’ve run into a few issues when applying for things. Mainly, I have to give them a specific page for my illustration portfolio, instead of just a straight up address, because I want them to see my work, and not my blog first. Which is fine, unless it’s someone who’s looking for both comic and illustration examples, because SURPRISE! it’s two different pages on my site. And that’s not as streamlined as I want it to be. I spent an hour or so yesterday looking at sites of artists that I admire, and while I like the straight to blog idea for sites, I understand the need to get straight to the art as well. I guess I will hook my site back up to Tumblr, and have the blog posts go to there and here, and ulgh! CHOICES!

Not only that, but I haven’t updated my portfolio page since… November? I need to get on this. And not only that, but there’s a consistant problem with my portfiolio– backgrounds, which are things I love to work on, haven’t really been represented in anything new I’ve done. I’ve been background lazy because here in Japan I’m without my usual arsenal of perspective tools. I really should be playing that up in my portolfio, because it’s something that I actually love to do and wouldn’t mind getting work for (note the perspective nerd glasses I had on during the redraw).

I spent my last four day weekend sketching and prepping a new painting to work on this next four day weekend (Sunday’s sketch), but I’m now putting myself to task to get this portfolio and navigation problem solved during this week, and if it spills into the weekend, so be it. This is important stuff that I have to solve, and quickly.

To keep myself accountable, here’s my to-do list. And I’m setting a May 11th deadline on this:

  1. Change front page to my portfolio. Period. Move the blog to a secondary page, and get over it.
  2. Update the portfolio. Get the stuff that is super old OUT. Get the pieces that aren’t strong OUT. Get it down to 10 pieces!
  3. Sketch out a header because omg Aja it’s been like two months since you said you’d put one up omg.
  4. Add contact info to all the pages (this will coincide with the header)
  5. Update About Page
  6. Take down the tutorial page for now, start writing down ideas for tutorials to do when I return back to the states (or sooner!)

I’ve also been contemplating putting my stuff back on DA. I’m still not sure though. I like Tumblr’s format a lot better and there are things about DA that still give me a bad taste in my mouth. But at the moment, I have two Tumblrs, a personal one and an art one. Should I combine them? The idea before in separating them was so that people didn’t have to see my billions of Marvel shipping reblogs, but is that really a problem now? I’m following so many comic pros, and well they post pro and personal (fandom) things. CHOICES! If I do combine them, I’ll have to do a LOT of editing on my main account. SO MUCH DELETING.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on the matter. Things are going to be shifting quickly. I’m going to have to put my professional hat on and stop spazzing out (as much) online, I guess.

If you didn’t notice, Sunday started the new posting schedule! it will be as follows:

Sketch Sunday
Writing Wednesday
Free Friday?? … Yeah it’s kind of lame, I’m working on it… how about Fascinating Fridays?

So please check out all the new pretty sketches that will be posted on Sundays. Eventually, probably once I’m back in the States, Saturdays and Sundays might be events (like going back to the livestreaming on the weekends like I did two years ago), but my laptop here can’t manage the new livestream format.

The Patience of Virtue

Well here we go! After what seems like months of being in limbo, ajamandtoast.net is finally up and running! I’m actually running this entire site using WordPress, which is a first for me. I’ve been trying to learn WP for years, and it’s always been really daunting eraiyahfor me. Anyone who has followed me for any amount of time, knows that I am pretty literate with HTML language. I’ve been making my own website formats for, well, over ten years is all I will admit. I’ve learned html, shtml, and some css and div stuff– but still WP boggles my mind. I think it’s because of things that I know the code for when typing by hand, is really hard to figure out how to do in WP.

It’s all php things that go right over my head and I spend hours trying to figure out how to do something that would take me two seconds in html. BUT I AM TRYING MY BEST. For now, please be patient with my very bare bones format until I figure out customization. I’m going through WP lessons online right now, so hopefully it won’t take me too long to get a hold of it. It’s like I’m in my computer class in high school all over again!

I felt a twinge of sadness when I closed the samuraihoney.net host account today. The URL will redirect you here, so please update your bookmarks!

My goal is to update this blog twice a week. I’m aiming for Mondays and Thursdays, but I’m not sure yet. My schedule at work is about to change at the end of this month, and then I’ll be able to make a solid schedule. I’ll be writing about art ennui, movie storytelling and visuals, things that inspire me artistically, Japan insanity, and, of course, the big announcement– THE WEBCOMIC. Yep. It’s finally happening. I’m only in the planning stages at the moment, but my goal is to have a webcomic ready for launch by the end of the year! I’ve been wanting to draw this comic for years and now I am finally ready to jump in and do it. So please join me in all the hair pulling, all-nighter, coffee driven insomnia comic making in the following months! I’ll explain my process and techniques when it comes to writing, character design, page composition, post, you know– all that good stuff! So, welcome! And please excuse the dust for a little while ^_^