To Do My Dear

Last week I gave a general outline of my plans for the rest of the year, but as I’ve said time and time again, I do have the habit of putting the cart before the horse. So this week, I’m breaking down what steps I will take presently (the next two weeks or so ish).

  1. Make a patterned banner for Social Media things
  2. New icon for Social Media things
  3. Footer illustration
  4. Sketch out next illustration
  5. Do commission samples
  6. Open commissions
  7. New level sheet
  8. Reread previously written plot points for story I may start to work on
  9. Work on new outline of said story
  10. Finish cleaning out room
  11. Gather all art supplies to be moved into the studio

And that should keep me busy for the next few days. And I’m posting it up on here, as always, for accountability purposes. Keep the pressure on me, everyone! That way I’ll get this done and will be able to move onto the next!

Goodbye Japan!

IMG_1788By the time you read this, I will already be on a 13 hour flight heading straight for the good olde… Canada? Yeah, I have a transfer in Canada first before heading back home to the States. It will be my first time in Canada, and I won’t even get to leave the airport.

Being in Japan has been quite a journey. I came here for a lot of reasons, namely because it’s the ultimate nerd dream, let’s be honest here. But while I have lived in Japan, the country has done more for me internally than anything. I’ve learned a lot about myself in the last two years. I am capable of so much if I just would muster up the courage. I want to take this experience, and make great things from it, to show everyone how much it has meant to me.

There’s been drama, soul searching, crying, binge cake eating, binge TV series watching, more crying, and screaming, but in the end, I feel like I have grown up so much… which is unexpected when you are already 29. But I’ve always felt so much younger than I am, and now everything might line up (although mentally I still think I am somewhere around 25… which is better than it was when I got here). I don’t want to wait anymore. I want to start my life. No more idling, no more waiting until the day is right. I’m going to seize my now, and keep an eye on the future.


Traditional Medium Angst Over?

We’re getting closer and closer to the time when it’s time to leave Japan! I do have to apologize for last week. Things got nuts last week with a lot of leaving events and packing, and I just completely ran out of time. I’m amending that now by taking care of as much as I possibly can for the next month of posting so it doesn’t happen again before I go. Most of my things are packed now, but I know my last few weeks here are going to be busy with even more leaving events—I have dinner plans with someone different almost every night between now and August 6th with people who want to see me before I go, it’s kind of crazy!

But even though I’ve been slack on the blog, I have been trying to still do something every day that will help me with illustration work when I get home. I recently discovered Wylie Beckert’s artwork and have completely and utterly fallen in love with her stuff. It speaks to me so much, and has totally vivified me, not only in the creative process, but also using traditional mediums.

As I mentioned before, I’ve been feeling disheartened by traditional mediums, because it seems like everyone is moving to a digital format. I’ve tried working completely digital and I just can’t get the same feel for the art. My best piece that has been completely digital has been this:

The Man Out of Time

But it took me nearly ten times as long to produce it than it would have drawing it by hand. Arguably, I hadn’t yet completely warmed up to the idea of working from scratch digitally at that point, and I have since become better, but I still think something is missing from my work when it doesn’t at least start in a traditional medium. I’ve been penciling or even inking then scanning it and finishing it digitally for years, but Wylie’s illustrations really have woken me up to just how far I can push an illustration in traditional mediums, before bringing it over to digital and making it look even more awesome.

Her more recent paintings, which were oils in an attempt to recreate her digital style, also having me considering taking some oil painting lessons. Oil is the only traditional painting medium I’ve never worked in, because I honestly had no interest. They looked hard, complicated, and I was happy with my watercolors. But her stuff makes me question whether oils would help my style bloom.

Check her stuff out. Seriously. You will thank me later. Wylie’s stuff is breath taking. I hope one day I can meet her and thank her for lighting this fire within me to not let go with my traditional mediums, and maybe even push it further. I can’t wait to experiment more!

A month to go!

What could be harder than picking up your entire life and moving it to a foreign country? Picking up that entire life in the foreign country and moving it back to your home country! (and also learning how to spell foreign already, Aja– it’s been two years since you started being a foreigner, you’d think I could handle the spelling by now)

And while my plan was to have everything sent home by now (HA!), things are in motion to get most of my things packed and sent next week. And soon I will be without internet and my keitai, just a lonely soul, sitting in my apartment, staring at my laptop, willing the internet to work without a connection. Finding a Wi-Fi spot in rural Japan is more difficult than it is in the cities (which is already difficult). Luckily, I’ve had internet borrowing offers from some awesome neighbors, so I can at least communicate with the outside world. Not having my keitai will be devastating, though. And as much as I want to jump right into iPhone ownership when I get back to the States, I know that won’t happen right away, and I’ll be stuck with my old dumb phone from 2009. Yep, my American phone is that old. I’m a believer of the “if it ain’t broke…” philosophy.

Meanwhile, I’m trying to also juggle getting prepped to dive into the freelance world. The site revamp was step 1… ish. But now I need to ask myself some important questions:


  1. Who are my ideal clients?
  2. What makes me ideal to them?


And these are super important questions, as they will help form where I will go next in contacting art directors and the like. Before I came to Japan, I was super watercolor girl, with some marker work on the side, and very occasional computer colors, but it was mostly watercolors. I’ve always dabbled here and there with things, but watercolors has been my constant since high school.

While I’ve been in Japan, the tide seems to have shifted against watercolor work, and more towards computer coloring then ever before. I’ve even had more than one artist friend tell me that traditional mediums are dead. Even while here I made the shift, but more out of a necessity due to not having my tools. But the last illustration I did, where I got the resources to be able to do watercolor again, proved to be my most popular piece in the last two years. I don’t see much watercolor illustrations appear on my feeds, and that makes me sad. But the question is, is that because the market has demanded people make the shift to digital, or it was just a personal choice that looks like a market curve?

I still think my strongest skill to offer are my watercolors, so that then brings me to the answers to those two questions, and that’s where I am a bit stumped. Who wants watercolors now? And why would people want to hire me for my watercolors? These are not easy questions, and they will take a while to find the answers to, unfortunately.

To you illustrators out there, I pose the same two questions. Who are your ideal clients? And what makes you ideal to them? You might surprise yourself what you come up with.

Standing After Stumbling

It’s hard to explain to a person who hasn’t experienced it before, how debilitating our inner critic is. I actually believe that there isn’t a “gift” that “creative” people have, but it’s instead the people who can silence their inner critic, and those who can’t. Those who can silence that dark voice inside of themselves, will allow the time and development from practice to help develop a skill. Yes, I’m one of those people who believes that anyone can be a great artist, if only they dedicate time to it.

So when I have these spells where I don’t create much, I only have my inner critic to blame.

The inner critic is a terrible demon that I have written about before. As I have gotten older, and further away from the creative environment that I had established in school, the easier it has become to giving into this critic.

This time, it was all because of this blog. Yep, I’ve been missing for two weeks because I was having angst about this blog. Still. The good news about all of this, is that I at least continued to work on the art journal that I established for myself back in March, so that’s something.

This all came about after listening a bunch of creative podcasts, which discussed simplifying your online presence, so you aren’t stretched thin. I played with the idea of just stopping this blog, and then moving everything to tumblr. I even started a new tumblr precisely for this purpose. Everyone was saying to make things easy on myself, which is the exact opposite of what WP is doing for me creatively. I’m so much more comfortable with tumblr than WP’s format, and that still remains true. But there’s a problem with that switch, in that tumblr wants bite sized blog entries, and that’s not always what I do. There’s also the fact that tumblr can change anytime, leaving me stuck with a format that’s obsolete, only to pick up and move again. So what choice do I make?

I am going to change the format of this site. And it’s coming soon. The new tumblr will be it’s own art posting thing. But, for know, this blog will continue to exist, but I’m still trying to figure out it what manner. There are other, much more successful art encouragement blogs. But should that mean I stop trying to write inspirational entries? Maybe I’ll only work on tutorials? But that wouldn’t be a regular post, as tutorials take several extra hours of work to produce. Maybe I should write about comic production? But that would mean actually moving forward on the project that has has beat itself into a bloody pulp against the block I have on it.

Where do I go?

So, yes, I have stumbled. And I’m trying to stand back up and find what direction I am headed.