Angry Artist Alley: Taking the ‘leap’

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A number of artists talked to me about this topic at previous conventions I’ve attended, so I decided to write this article. It might sound a little biased here, but if you want to argue with me, I hope you’ve actually tried this stuff before stating your opinion about it.

When I mean fanart, it means that you do not own the Intellectual Property/Copyright of the characters in the image. Let’s ignore America’s leniency with with dead copyright holders, historical art, parody, and journalism use for this topic. You are basically taking a preexisting character, and then you make an image with them on it, in your style of art. Some people use quotes or logos from the series. And some would make an obvious innuendo of a character’s design on their work (such as fanart hats, hairties, etc). That’s pretty much how people would determine fanart for artist alley. Simple as that.

Then you have ‘original art’. This means that you are the creator of that intellectual property or own copyrights to the characters in the image. In simple terms, you made it, you named them. Maybe it’s a comic–you made the comic yourself with your own characters. Or maybe they’re crafts and plushies–you designed those characters.

The problem with selling original art for MOST (because i know it doesn’t apply to every single one of you), is that fanart often deters away from your original art. Let’s face it–fanart sells, that’s why we’re at artist alley, and we need cash to survive. Sure, you love when people compliment your work, or cheer you on, but in the end, you can give yourself a huge pat on the back when you check your wallet after the convention. But…if you’re not selling fanart, there’s the deep root of fear that you may be end up loosing a LOT more money than you are gaining at these conventions. It’s a legit fear. “Those tables can cost a lot! What if people don’t like my original art?”

Well, I’m here to tell you my experience. I’m not going to happily say ‘yes it’s the best thing ever and you can do it’ but I’m also not going to go ‘no don’t try it at all’. These thoughts and decisions are for YOU to decide. I can’t tell you if you are going to like it or not. But what I can tell you is that if you don’t TRY it for a while, you won’t experience it.

So, I’ve grouped my experience with artists into three groups. I’ll tell you honestly that I have gone through phases of all three of these groups, back and forth. Yes, humans change their mind, and so I’ve changed my mind all the time on this issue. It’s a very fine line between these ideas, and there are exceptions to all of them, but I’m grouping these artists up in three categories to make my explanation easier. You will find that you may be jumping in and out of your work, your decisions on selling what kind of work, and even regretting your decisions. THAT IS OKAY. IT HAPPENS. No one is perfect, and there was never a set of rules about what’s right or wrong in these situations. I’d like to emphasize that if you have not been in all three of these categories, you should not be judging other people who are a part of the other categories; everyone goes to artist alley for different reasons, and yours might be different from theirs.

Category A: I stand firmly by the belief that fanart is pretty much the only way I can earn money at the convention or promote. People in this category are here to boldly make the dough, and they know that fanart does the trick. Maybe they like a niche and love to celebrate it with their other fellow niche lovers who don’t see much fanart of it. There’s plenty of reasons to be in this category. But in the end, it’s mostly for financial success.

Category B: I mostly do fanart, but I’m kind of scared to sell original art! You’re probably doing a great job selling fanart already. You might sell a few original pieces of art on their table, but it’s almost entirely made up of fanart. Maybe your original art isn’t selling very well, so you eventually take it off the display. But in the end, the fear of an empty wallet or strong criticism is keeping you from doing much more than those few pieces of art, or making more space for it at your table.

Category C: I’m here to promote; here’s my original work! If you’re in this category, it’s likely that you are there to promote MORE than you are there to profit. Maybe you accepted the fact that you don’t earn that much at artist alley anyways, or have a second means of income that keeps your project going. Your table is mostly or entirely made up of your original work. Maybe just earning enough to keep that table in artist alley will suffice, as long as people are buying your art and checking out your sites.

Tip: Get a second job. You’ll have to work harder, but you’ll have funding for your projects.

Talking to various artists about conventions, the main problem I think about trying to promote original art is that the investment is often high, and the fear of never being able to make back that money holds people back. Unfortunately, that’s just the gamble you’re going to need to take if you want to promote your work. But if you’re really serious about showing your original content, then NO ONE will be able to see it if you don’t make it!

Make the sacrifice, and make the majority of your table (if not all) your own personal work. I’ve read various articles of professional artists who stop selling fanart at conventions so that they can promote their personal work. Always make sure your priority is the work you want to create for yourself, not others. BELIEVE IN YOURSELF DAMMIT. What’s the harm in doing that?

You will likely do poorly the first time in sales, but that does not constitute as a failure. I know I earned significantly less money after I stopped selling fanart at my table. But I REALLY wanted to promote my horror comics and CONventional. I’ve never sold so many of my comics before until I put the fanart away from my table. All eyes on the prize, I suppose. But that still didn’t mean much profit for me. The conversations I have about horror manga artists, convention etiquette, and etc. are SO FUN! I manage, and I am very proud of what has become of CONventional, when people walk up to me and talk to me about the comic even though we’ve never met before.

What can you do to make your big leap to selling original art easier?
Get rid of the fanart: Make room for your personal work, so people can see it on your table clearly. This is the biggest sacrifice, but when people come to your table, it will be all eyes on your work, and your work only. If you’re super duper scared, you can leave one or two pieces of fanart there. There’s no rule to how this works, and I haven’t experimented enough to give anyone a solid answer on how to do this ^_^;

Share tables: I am very sure that if you are Category B and want to transition to Category C, you won’t have much to sell on your first few times. THAT IS OKAY! That’s what table sharing is for! I shared tables on my first time trying it out, but the next convention half a year later, I had enough time to fill up the other half of the table!

Indie Artist Tables: Some conventions have a specific space for artists that aren’t selling fanart to promote. They often cost extra, but tables are larger (which are perfect for sharing), and often put in a more comfortable spot at conventions, next to other artists who are selling original work. When the artist to the left and right of you aren’t selling fanart, nothing deters the attendees from walking away from your table; there’s no competition of art whatsoever. From personal experience, the feeling of competition is almost non-existent compared to being sandwiched between tables with walls of fanart prints.

Have Confidence: You won’t hit it big the first time. Or second. Or third. Treat your first time like it was the very very first time you tabled at a convention. No one has seen your art before, but that doesn’t stop you from being at that table to show them what you got!

What did I lose and gain from selling only original art at my table?
The main thing is that I lost was a lot of money. It’s thanks to a day job and a patreon that keep me going right now. I am not sure what the right word to describe the feeling I gained from the experience, but it’s a mixture of ‘confidence’ and ‘dignity’. CONventional is a free comic, but it has become my most successful work, as they are freebie comics in all the Krakencon swag bags, as well as the one time at Kumoricon where they were giant signs for the Black and White ball. I always leave a tip jar to fund the printing of the comics, and it has always helped keep the project going. One of the happiest things that have happened to me recently was a fan of my original horror comic actively looked for my table at Krakencon so that he could check out the second comic in the series! These are feelings I have never felt just selling fanart at conventions. So I lost something, but I gained something else from these experiences.

Some Misconceptions:

Just because you sell original art at artist alley, that should NOT keep you from drawing fanart anywhere else. In fact, most of the stuff I post on the internet is all fanart! It’s only at conventions where you see the majority my original works. I’ve gotten confused behavior at conventions when they find out I’m not selling fanart, but it is often followed by curiosity of the other stuff I make!

You don’t have to make every single convention a convention where you only sell original art. I only put an effort to do this at two specific conventions, since the audience is the broadest. The other conventions are for-profit for myself (since they’re local and most people know me in that area), and I will put up my fanart at those conventions (i still promote my original work though). But I emphasize that you need to be brave if you want to promote your work. I traveled all the way to Austin and Seattle just to promote my comic! It was so worth it….and so was the food….yummy :3

Just because it’s original art, it doesn’t mean everyone will like it. This applies to fanart as well. Some people will like it, some will not. It’s not like everyone will love my horror comics (nor should any kid under 13 be reading them). Nor will they like my weird sculptures. Don’t assume your audience. But know that if you are making what you personally enjoy, then you will attract the right kind of fans who want to see your work.

If you want to only sell fanart, go ahead.
I really don’t know why you read all the way to the end if you weren’t interested in this topic in the first place :P
Like I said, I only ENTIRELY get rid of fanart on my table for just a select few conventions. I might have something lingering here or there, but the main highlight on my table are all my comics.

Anyways, whether or not you want to try my advice is up to you. It’s up to you to decide whether or not you want to ‘take the leap’

Artist Highlight: Avelino!
Tumblr | Instagram | Twitter | Site

where is he? :P

I met this guy at Sakuracon a few weeks ago. He was so shy, that when i asked for a photo of his table, he didn’t want to be in the picture! Actually, a lot of artists are like that, and I emphasize that this is one of many reasons you should ASK before taking photos at artist alley.
Okay, moving on, we met properly at the end of Sakuracon’s ‘Artist Meet and Greet’ event, and had a semi-intellectual conversation with another artist who was at the event, Eva about this topic. Will he pursue his dreams? I don’t know, but I’ll root for him if he does. I wrote this article about four months ago, but have been really hesitant about posting it, in fear of how harsh and biased it might sound to other artists, but these two really showed me that I’m not the only one who’s been in that boat for so long. Also, I’m very inclined to go to Sakuracon next year just to meet up with them again :D

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Rose

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Just to let my readers know, there’s a huge imbalance of blog articles about artist alley without me actually showing my own artwork. So expect more recent projects or photography here. But don’t expect them to update every week :P

I didn’t get in the Capcom Tribute, but I submitted a piece I really like and wanted to talk about it a little. The Udon crew had an insane amount of competition, so I’m not surprised I didn’t get in (heck, a lot of people who got in that book were veterans or creators of the series). So without further ado, it’s Rose, from Street Fighter!
ROSE_mockup I’m actually really bad at the game, and there’s not a lot of fan art of her, so I was happy just making the piece for myself anyways. She is one of the few characters in the game that I can sort of get a handle on (i can’t do a Z movement on the game stick, and I don’t really know how to handle charge characters, so her limited moves help me out on that). The original illustration is actually markers, but the background, textures, and glowing are done in Photoshop. The piece took about two days to complete, and I currently have them available as a mini print in my store :D

I’m a very late bloomer, but one of the earliest arcade fighting games I’ve ever played was Street Fighter 4. When I first played, I used a game stick, and so when I begged my brother to buy the game for me, I couldn’t figure out how to use the controller, and begged him to buy a game stick for me as well. Best big bro ever!
I really fell in love with the art, and the comics that come with it are AMAZING. I want to give props to the writers of the comic series, the flow is superb.  A lot of my current work was inspired by the game. When the characters pull out their special moves, and the scene changes, it’s so dramatic, and the comic is like watching the game unfold with different characters! I love the sumi-e ink washes that happen when the characters use a focus attack. Anyways, I’m just in my own little world with this franchise.
One of my dream comic jobs is to work for Udon to make a short Street Fighter. That’s such a long shot, but I’ll keep practicing, and hey, who knows! This is my first attempt, I’m sure one day I’ll make more fan comics. 

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Arquebeous Dance: A Sio Ogura Fan Anthology

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So I’m walking out of conventions for a while to work on this project, which is called ‘Arquebeous Dance’. It is a fan-tribute anthology for a series called Nobunagun by Masato Hisa, which has a VERY small fanbase, but very dedicated fans nonetheless. Which is why I decided to join this project and contribute a small comic for it.

The project is dedicated to Nobunagun:

You can check the anime out here, but I recommend skipping episode six and seven when watching the first time around, which are filler episodes.

Also, you can’t deny this is an awesome opening for an anime:

[You can read chapter 1 and the three most recent chapters in the manga here]

Anyways, a large reason for participating in this project was that the manga isn’t sold in America! A friend lent the Japanese volumes to me, but even though I can’t read anything, I just look at the illustrations over and over to understand (although my friend does clarify some things for me). So I hope, when I finish this project, some of you would be interested in spreading the word around, and if there’s enough of a fanbase, some company might consider translating it :D

Arquebeous Dance is a fan anthology that revolves around the main character SIo Ogura. Since the anime was accurate enough to cut off at around volume 4, I decided to make my comic the branch between what happens at the very end of the volume, and what happens in the beginning of the next volume. That way, it’s not quite a spoiler, but a bridge to understand what the outcome for the future of the series will lead to.

These will be the only two ‘preview pages’ of the nine-ten page comic, but I will also be including 4koma comics, and other illustrations in it too!

(comic is right to left, and no text)

set1_finalA set2aIf you’d like to participate, please check out our tumblr for more information on guidelines, deadlines, and contacting us to be on the list! Deadline for open call of artists is June 1, but completion of art is in September! Also, please only participate if you’re a fan of the series. When you pour your heart into something you love, the work always shows, and we want our anthology to be all about that! Support the series, support Masato Hisa!

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Chun-li X Ryu Fancomic

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The Street Fighter series is a oddball fascination for me. The characters are fun and quirky, but I almost never play the game with anyone because I’m REALLY bad at the game. I STILL can’t input a forward, down-back-forward movement on the game stick or figure out how to do anything past a three hit combo. That limits me to only a handful I can really play. Hell, i can’t really go past a three hit combo. Still, the Street Fighter universe fascinates me, especially the comic material. I love drawing this series.

When I heard about this project, I was intrigued. Not to mention I watched Assassin’s Fist AND read a bunch of street fighter comics a week before I found out about this project. I really wanted to do a comic, but I know if I drew some romance out, it would resemble something too similar to a bishoujo manga. Besides, I’m sure someone already did it in this anthology (and after i read the anthology, point proven). So I decided to make mines about their childhood. I was also given a page limit, so had to squish what would have been five pages into three pages and a cover. Still…
Jackie_Lo_page_0_PREV Jackie_Lo_page_1_PREV Jackie_Lo_page_2_PREV Jackie_Lo_page_3_PREV

I don’t know if anyone noticed or if my art skills were great enough to depict it, but I took some shots from Assassin’s Fist to depict the same place Ryu and Ken were living in.

It was called ‘The Waterfall’ based on a scene where Ryu was training on one. There’s a glimpse at 0:36
Ryu’s character design was also based on the character in the movie. I made him look like one of those kids begging to be picked on for this comic, yet at the end he was just holding back on everyone.

In addition to making this comic, I decided it would be the perfect opportunity to COLOR it in markers too! Actually, one reason is that I’m really slow on the computer, and the other is that I wanted to promote the use of traditional coloring for mainstream comics. It was also a good piece of work to show in my portfolio.

I went to Emerald City Comic Con, and showed it to Copic Marker and the Udon table, hoping I’d be able to network. I think I did alright with both(?), so I will wait the rest of my life to see if they ever would. I enjoyed how Long Vo, Edwin Hyang, and Joe Ng saw it and the reaction was ‘omg this is cute’ XD Well, I wasn’t aiming for that, but it was a nice compliment coming from them.

You can purchase Street Fighter: Assassin’s Fist here. It’s a live action adaptation done right :D
Street Fighter: Assassin’s Fist – Live Action (Blu-ray/DVD Combo)

or just rent it here: Street Fighter: Assassin’s Fist

You can also read the rest of the anthology where my comic was drawn here: http://www.ryuxchunli.com/
The Ryu  x Chun-li Project Facebook Page

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Angry Artist Alley: Where ‘da Conventions at?

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So if you’re starting out at conventions, you’re probably wondering “uh….so where do I find conventions?” That’s a pretty legit question. I’ll tell you where I find mines: on the internet.

There’s a bunch of ways to find out when and where conventions are, but there’s no guarantee ever that you’ll know every single one. After you go to a few conventions, you’ll get used to it.

Because I only go to conventions in the SF Bay Area, not everything I say will apply to EVERYONE, but I hope it will help you decide how to look up and prepare for conventions.

Tips:

  • ‘convention season’ is when a lot of conventions happen back to back during the same time of the year. In the Bay Area, the busiest times is around December-January, and April-May. In So-Cal it’s more around the summer time.
  • Conventions often happen during holiday weekends.
  • Conventions often occur in bigger populated cities. One exception for this are the conventions that take place in colleges.
  • If someone already posts something saying ‘I’m going to be selling at ____ con’, the chances of buying a table there are slim. A lot of conventions sell out on their tables very quickly due to a first-come-first-serve basis!

One time I contacted Big Wow! a few months before the convention because I didn’t know tables were being sold, but apparently were quite some left even though tables opened up two months prior. So it never hurts to ask if tables are full or not ;)

So how do I find out where the conventions are?

 Look them up online. There are websites solely dedicated to comic and/or anime conventions, facebook pages, etc. Try this one for anime conventions. Or even this one for comic book conventions. You can even try sites that posts local events to see if anything else suits your taste.

Know the heads of the conventions. I don’t mean ‘know’ as in know them personally, but if you have facebook, you should watch their facebook pages for updates or anything of the like. People who run conventions or are affiliated in some way (such as guests or artists) will often post updates on the project when the time is coming up.

When you find the conventions you like, look for an email contact and ask them to be on their mailing list. The moment there’s any news about artist alley tables, they will start emailing people about the news. This is the most efficient way to keep track of conventions in which you’re interested in or have gone to.

Featured Artist: Toshio Maeda
He’s not an amateur artist, he’s pro. Author of La Blue Girl, he gave me a very powerful speech that has helped give me a drive to keep drawing when I first met him at Big Wow! Con. When he was giving me motivation, I started crying tears in front of him, it was nuts. Anyways, he’s a really great guy, and I recorded a panel at Sac Anime that he was in (warning, some adult language).
If you have known me long enough, and saw a giant leap of improvement at one year, it was because this guy told me to never give up :)
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Angry Artist Alley: Toughen up you muther!#@$#!

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Based on something I heard from Trisha (aka. Ratgirl Productions), and the entire intention of writing this series, this article is aimed entirely for the newcomers in artist alley, and the ones who are thinking about it. Last post was very happy, so I’m going to balance it out with this one, just so you don’t get the delusion that every small-press/artist alley is so freaking awesome. And yes, I have cried myself, or wanted to cry so many times I lost count.

Not all of this applies to every artist now, but I guarantee you that at one point in time sitting behind artist alley, you’ve felt this way before. 

But if you have the guts to do it after reading this article, I’d say you’re pretty set to table at artist alley.

Because I care. We all do (?). This crazy aggressive post is to make sure you sissies don’t hurt yourself behind artist alley. Prepare for the worst, and the best shall happen. 

Prepare for sarcasm, because this is the internet.
(if you didn’t get the hint from the above sentence, this article is mostly sarcasm)
if you didn’t get the hint from the two sentences above this, I guess my sarcasm skills are too powerful.

The first thing I’d probably say about artist alley: ARTIST ALLEY IS A BATTLEFIELD.

From the moment it is announced by the group, the battle has already begun. You’ve got to get enough money and register, since it’s almost always a first-come first-serve basis. Nowadays, there have been ‘random raffle’ ones, but for some very odd reason, every year they have that, out of the 100+ people who register, it seems like some of the same few people are there every year. So the battle has begun.

Will you, or will you not join the battle of the table-grabbing?

Tables can go out like hotcakes in some places. There could be 30 tables that go out in a week, or even 50 that go out in seven minutes. Trust me, not kidding. If you have the opportunity and you’re 100% sure you want it, get it. Don’t wait last minute.

Now, suck up your gut soldier, because it doesn’t get better!

It’s about the gold. Well, not entirely, but the reason we bought a table is so we can earn money from selling stuff there. If your reason for going behind artist alley is ‘to get better at drawing’ it’s easier to do that online and tons of people will ask you to draw stuff for them for free as you ‘improve’. People over the internet fawn for free requests, you’ll get plenty of experience until you feel confident enough to sell at a convention. If your ‘excuse’ is to gain experience, I’m writing this article to prepare you for what you’re REALLY going to experience (although it’s not all negative). Another ‘excuse’ is to gain exposure. If that’s the case, go to a comic convention or craft fair instead of an anime convention because the ‘bigger people’ looking for potentials are walking around there. An art director walking around at anime conventions are nearly non-existent (but there have been a few). You go to a convention TO SELL YOUR ARTWORK. And also, to have fun ^_^

note: If you really want exposure at a convention though, try industry comic conventions, because the chance of an artist/writer/art director wandering around is MUCH more likely.

Does your art suck? I don’t know. Do you think it does? What do other people think?

If you want an honest opinion, it’s hard to get it. People don’t want to insult an artist by telling them their art isn’t at their standards. Best way to find out is to post it on an anonymous board like 4chan, make a rude comment about it, and let everyone build to the fire. They’ll point out all the flaws, and you can learn from that.

Don’t get your hopes up. You think buying 10 prints and selling it for 10 dollars each will get you one hundred dollars? Well, kid, have you ever considered that not all 10 prints would sell? Maybe only two would sell at a convention. I printed about 25 new prints  and over two hundred postcards for my last convention,. Guess how many I sold? I sold one postcard.

My first time making prints, I printed 10 of each design. That set of prints lasted me about five years until the point where I took a pair of scissors and cut it into shreds. It felt AWESOME. My second round was much better, so if you think your prints are dragging you down, then start all over ^_^

 You think they’ll all like your work? Well, somewhere out there, you might see someone give a sour look, or not even look in your direction. It could be unintentional, but the moment you see that face near your table, it’s like a blow to your heart. And imagine more than one person doing it. Imagine sitting there for eight hours seeing these things. Can you handle it? There have been SEVERAL cases where moms and young teenagers would look away from my table either from disgust of my artwork or because it’s too ‘dark’. I’ve seen them glance at my work, barely looking closely. I’ve even heard mothers drag their kids away from my table saying ‘don’t look!’. I am absolutely not kidding.

…then again, you have the opposite, where they will adore your work :3

Just because your work is decent doesn’t mean you’ll pick up the most business. Some people get a LOT of business doing things that seem mediocre to us (artists). But as I’ve once said to a group of people “as artists we can see what real skill is, but to customers, even the dumbest things can be the coolest thing ever”. You can see really untalented people farm the gold and you’re not. There are ways of attracting attention that is really stupid and you can’t say a word or it’ll ruin your reputation. Or even….if they’re your friends sitting next to you.

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 Brian Wolf:  Actually I’d be the one with my head down if he was selling next to me 0_0

Your reputation is on the line. Do one stupid piece of shit like complain to a customer, they tell a friend, who tells a friend, posts it online, and you’re screwed. Sometimes you need to lick their goddamn shoes just so you don’t seem like a meanie. Or sometimes you need the excuse “oh uh…I need to go to the restroom real quick!”

Hint: if you react the opposite way (not a douche) it’s likely this won’t happen to you. Treat people nicely, be polite. I know it can be hard :(

Sitting next to ANYONE will end up having you comparing business with them. You might be earning more than them and end up like a cocky f_ck. Or you might not be earning anything compared to the person sitting next to you. Or you’re comparing and worried if you’re earning enough. It’s a shame kid. For me, as long as I hit the green zone and earn at least three times the amount that I paid for the ticket to sell at the con, I’ll stay sane. Try and be humble.

You will have a lot of customers you won’t like. From people who are hitting on you, to the freaky perverts that want to request something that…well, I’ve had interesting drawing requests. There may be people who would walk to your booth and photograph your work and walk away, and there may be people who just tick you off. If your fans adore you, you get respect. And if they’ve never heard of you, you usually get treated in an entirely different way.

You might draw something you might not like. There are things people ask that you might not like, but still want the money. But there are still boundaries. If you do not have the guts to refuse a drawing you don’t want to draw, then this is definitely not the place you want to go to. Someone wants you to draw a picture of two characters you don’t really like kissing? Well it’s your decision, but either way you need the bravery to do it, or the willpower to do it. By the way, IT IS TOTALLY FINE TO REFUSE A COMMISSION. Sure you won’t get paid, but at least save your sanity. I’d rather not draw two #$! on a !#%@ doing $%#@#! to each other.

I’ve been asked to draw yaoi on a few occasions, but some of those requests can get really….intense. Oddly enough, I’ve never been asked to draw hentai. Yuri, once. Maybe twice. I don’t remember. But if you are uncomfortable drawing it, just say no. 

You gonna cry like a little baby? If that’s the case, don’t go. It’s not that you suck, it’s that you might end up hurting yourself in a way that will scar you for life :( I would rather see an enthusiastic artist celebrate and appreciate their hard-trained talent to others in a happy way than have them beaten down where they’re in a mental state crying in the bathroom.

…..and if you think you can handle all of this without shedding a tear all the time, then be my guest. It’s not as happy-go-lucky as you might imagine. It’s more like the customers don’t understand any of this, and so if you’re beginning artist alley, you start to understand what it really feels like behind the table. In fact, I broke down and sobbed on a pillow once too in front of my friends. But when you’re a beginner, you should be prepared for everything I’ve just said. Crying on your first day is awful. If you can’t handle it, then you should hold on to your pocket money and invest it in something else.

So pray you’re not on the bottom of the food chain at a convention, and if you are, suck it up and make sure you learn from your mistakes. You’ll climb up for sure.

If you table the first time and enjoy every moment of it, it truly is an amazing experience.

But you know, there are very fun moments. From the adrenaline rush, to making new friends and remembering old customers, and even learning and meeting new artists. Sometimes just the small moments where kid’s eyes widen when they see something on your work and compliment you even though they don’t know anything about it really warms your heart. You might be looking up to an artist sitting next to you, or it could be them that respect you. Maybe introducing a series you absolutely love to someone who’s never heard of it, and having them come back the next year to tell you how they loved it too. Maybe it’s the incredibly rare times someone recognizes your artwork and calls you by your screen name. There’s a lot of great things in artist alley too. I may have gone through a lot of the wrong plots of artist alley (thus, the name of this blog series), but you know, I’ve had incredible moments too. I just don’t talk a lot about them because the best way to know these experiences is going through them yourself :3

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And you thought Copics could only do one thing?

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Ah, I was once given the question ‘why don’t you use watercolors instead?’
Well, I mean they’re cheaper and can do a lot too, but I guess the only answer I have for that is ‘because it’s different’

I am very angry and disappointed about kids who invest in these fancy Copics without even understanding how much it can do! I mean, I guess I used to be one, but my first set was given by my friends in highschool as a gift (they chipped in to get me a set! d’aaw). I’m gonna say a ton of tutorials online only show you how to do it one way, and well….there’s more than just a few ways to utilize a marker.

First off, recently I decided to invest in a copic aircan set. I got it because I saw some frames from the comic Dorohedoro that looked like it was airbrushed…then had the urge to copy that. For anyone interested, I highly do not recommend you buying it unless you’re REALLY serious about using it, not a noob, or dedicated to learning it. I especially want to emphasize the last one–some people buy copic markers because everyone else is using them, and find out they don’t really use it except to color spots on pictures or draw lines. Get it if you know what you’re doing.

And here is a tutorial about a piece I worked on, colored entirely with Copic Markers:

1. The first thing to any picture is to think of a topic and draw out the idea. For me, I was thinking of Ghost In the Shell, killing robots, cyborgs and just happened to be reading Battle Angel Alita as well. Anyhow, I started with the blue line pencil, because as any of you know, I keep losing my pencils and the color blue just happens to pop out of my pile of pens more than a pencil.

2. I used a dip pen to ink it. Yes, entire thing. Took an entire night and morning, but it was cool.

3. When I scanned it in, I realized the composition was POOR. But I kept going, because I knew I can just crop it to whatever size.

4. I colored in the girl, and started airbrushing (Copic Air Can, adaptor+ 180). I forgot to take a photo of me coloring the girl, sorry sorry ^_^’

MAKE SURE TO WORK WITH AN OPEN WINDOW AND A MASK IF YOU HAVE ONE!

5. As you can see, when you’re done airbrushing, it looks awful. BUT, don’t fret!

6. I smoothed out all black/blue areas with grey and more black markers, and the shadows tightened with the markers. I did not airbrush for this. I also didn’t show the part after this, but I had to go to the art store to get another can.

7. NOW you’re wondering ‘no way what the hell are you thinking? Well, I watched simple airbrush tutorials, and I remembered a demo that Edel Rodriguez did in my Illustration 5 class where he masked areas with Frisket and just rolled solid colors over it. Well, here I gave some color and depth, and then..

8. Ta-da! peel the frisket paper!

It ended up looking like this:

sweet, clean, and sexy.

Now, the final run.

9. Again, I put frisket paper on the thing again and airbrushed a peachy background (there was enough grey in it, I had to brighten it up a bit). Then I colored in the basic flag, but it was too clean for my taste.

10. I airbrushed some random colors, but it STILL looked too smooth. So I used my colorless blender, and made spots by just dipping the marker onto the flag for a few seconds. Usually that’s an awful thing to do with your images, but for this particular picture, I wanted that flag to look a little less joyful and a little more nasty. Also, it was blending in with the hair too much.

11. Well, done with the picture, and scanned it in. However, I mentioned the image’s composition is very poor. Plus, I needed to make this postcard size so I can print it at a convention. SO, the final picture ended up like this:

I was going to add some white highlights to it, but I kinda felt the dirty colors gave it a deep mood. I was thinking of adding texture to the saws, but I felt it would blend in too much with the foreground, so I didn’t touch it.

….and there you go. There’s more than one way to use a Copic Marker. Now if only the company could sponsor me…..

Some progress of marker work a year later:

 

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Love is in the…Bar?

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Well, it’s *that* time of the year. You know, the most lovely and most depressing time of the year. Well, anyhow, why not bring your loved one or pick up some chicks/dudes up at Raven’s Bar in San Francisco? 

1151 Folsom Street, only a few blocks from Civic Center BART.

Today , Sara and I collaborated on remaking the sign at the to fit the month :]

 

(taken around 5:45 pm..i’ll try and update a better picture later)

SO WHAT’S GONNA HAPPEN?

Well, If you can locate the bar, and get a drink on happy hour (while the sign is up), Take a photo of yourself and both of these signs (one on each side)–send them to me, and I’ll mail you a little gift! This is to promote the bar, as well as share the real drawings. This freebie is not hosted by the bar, but by me :]

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What is an “OCT” ? Welcome to…EnterVOID.

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“OC” stands for an ‘Original Character’

The term is meant for a character that you create–appearance, personality, abilities, even a back story. Although this may sound like Dungeons and Dragons, and it’s pretty much like that, it is commonly used in artwork too. For some artists, it’s very convenient to use the same character over and over in different images, with different scenery. Some people use it for role playing rpgs, and some for actual games.  And some people use them for drawing comics. Which leads to the question:

“What is an OCT?”

OCT stands for Original Character Tournament. It has been around for quite a while through comic artists who show their work online. Artists would create a special OC that fits the theme of this ‘tournament’, hosted by people on the internet. They are paired off with another artist online who has created an OC for the event (or sometimes they get to choose), and they ‘battle it off”. What that means is that they are given a limited amount of time to create a comic with both characters conflicting each other, like a battle, or a situation that both characters must overcome. They are usually given a week to a month to work on this. When the time limit is up, both artists must turn in their submission (the comic they drew with their OCs). It is judged by the panel or the public that is involved in the tournament, and the winner goes to the second round. This process continues until there is only one artist left in the tournament–the winner.

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

A few months ago, I joined a group that does something very similar. EnterVoid is a group of comic artists, made by comic artists. The site is www.entervoid.com In this site, you create your own OC and then challenge other artists’ OCs into a ‘battle’ with a time constraint. Winners are chosen through votes by other artists, and heavy criticism is encouraged, so artists can improve for the next challenge. Since I wanted to work towards the comic world, I joined to learn more efficient ways to improve my composition and typography skills for comics. Well I improved on more than just that. Anyhow, just to give you a taste:

The Process of an OCT  (and what I did on EnterVoid):

1) You’re often given a theme to create an original character. A samurai, a piece of food (yea actually there is one like this), a fantasy fighter, etc. Here, you will brainstorm an idea, and create a character. In EnterVoid, you are allowed to make ANYTHING you want, as long as it’s accepted by the staff of EnterVoid.

For my character, I created Florence Ailey, a young teenager who came from the elite ‘Bunny Assassin Academy’, which trained kids at a young age to become assassins. He left the academy after killing everyone, but only after he saw his best friend die in battle. Mentally, he feels very attached to his friend, often thinking she’s right beside him. I wanted to create a happy character with a dark past, but at the same time all it doesn’t sound serious whatsoever, which is why I chose pink bunnies as his theme.  (more info here)

2) Your character is accepted into the tournament. Sometimes they are rejected for poor story, inappropriate work, infringement, etc. In EnterVoid, you must submit a 2-4 page introduction comic as well as a color character design sheet. This ensures that you’re actually serious.

3) Then you are paired off with someone else for a ‘battle’ in the beginning. Sometimes chosen on random, sometimes by your previous rank on another OCT, sometimes by skill, etc. Fortunately, on EnterVoid, you have the choice of challenging another artist for a battle, or rejecting a challenge that someone has for you. Also, you can choose the time constraint, from one week to four. 

 (click for the actual comic)

4) During the time your challenge has accepted, you must draw your comic before the deadline. Even if it’s unfinished, you still turn in what you got (so people can at least see you were working on something). Remember, you’re not creating an entire BOOK or series, you’re just making a comic. It could be one page, five pages, ten pages, and if you’re nuts, 20+ pages. But there’s almost never a limit to how many you can make. Sometimes there is a limit to how FEW pages you can do though.

5)After you turn in your comic,  it is then voted by staff, voted by selected artists, or voted by the mass public. Whichever way it’s voted, winner is always determined by majority vote from a ‘point’ system (given points to story/art), selected member discussion (when a small group of people talk about the comics in private and decide the winner), or majority vote from public. Whichever way it is, winner will rank up the tournament. In EnterVoid, there is a deeper ranking system of productivity, skill, amounts of challenges, and wins, all calculated together, which means just because you suck at drawing you won’t be dead last in the ranking system. 

(click for the actual comic)

In the end, if you win or lose the tournament, you should feel really proud of yourself for even accomplishing such a task. Well, I do. And I know I’ve learned a lot in the past few months here on EnterVoid. I’ve only made three comics here (on my fourth one actually, and deadline is Wednesday). I can say that even though it’s only been a few months, I’ve improved a lot, with an environment that feels more encouraging than competitive about drawing.

 

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Fall 2012 Illustration Thesis Show

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Once again, it’s that time of year for illustration thesis students to strut their stuff. I think by now I can stop saying ‘dang I’m impressed with this year’ because it feels like I said that for about three years now since I started caring. There were many down points though, mostly being the fact that it wasn’t really ‘advertised’ enough and there were only ten artists, so it was a much quieter thesis show than last year. And next year will be HELL.

Yesterday I felt my mouth just wouldn’t stop talking–blah blah blah, I really apologize if I said anything stupid or wouldn’t shut up yesterday. It gets lonely in the house and I didn’t realize what I said until I went home in the shower to contemplate.

Some REALLY awesome highlights though:

-I met an orthodontist, and he finally told me what these things in my mouth was.

-there were these two twins that wore the exact same clothing:

-I managed to get all but one promo piece.

-Got to see the ‘elite’ alumni crew, as I call it:

 (From left to right: Collin Nita, Laura Szabo, Jonathan Stagnaro, Yina Kim, Devin Mireles) –Sadly, many others are missing in this pic.

-Saw people from my class :3

-Thanks to the ‘Kick Ass’ Illustration 5 class, I was able to eat two slices of pizza, combined with the other food the school provided, which consisted of soda and some sort of stuffed savory pastry for the night:

(Here, the star of Figure Drawing Saturdays, Cyd, is giving me a big smile. And look at all that uneaten pizza….too bad I only took two slices. By the time I finished eating, I realized the sunlight was really good for photos and ran out, so I couldn’t get a third or fourth slice.)

But some not-so-great moments though:

-No faculty kids to mess around with and take pictures (they are so cute when they look at the pictures)

-A LOT of missing alumni

-Very few art directors (couldn’t get as many photos as I wanted, and so ended up with many repetitive photos)

-People decided to get the beautiful reflective Ikea frames, and also decided to stick their frames next to the window area. Fortunately, I had planned this situation and got a really nice polarized lens to remove glare, but the light was very intense and I could only do so much with a lens. This did turn out to be the best lifesaver when photographing Melissa’s bookcovers.

-My feet are still sore from yesterday

-I forgot to switch lenses after sun went down, and that wasn’t good.

-I said stupid stuff again.

-forgot to steal my brother’s camera blower–dust on the camera lens is evil.

 

Fun Facts:

-I used up a memory card this year, and thank goodness I got a spare this time.

-Battery ran out twice, but thank goodness I bought a spare of that as well..and my charger.

-I did quite some research to get this polarized lens, and also, thank goodness I got that too.

-I have been uploading these photos for over twenty minutes in my computer now.

-I went to CCA and started photographing around 12:30 already.

-I gave my ‘advice’ for underclassmen, even though I don’t know why they asked me, as I’ve only done thesis review once and I wasn’t even that great (and no one got in contact with me either). However, if any of you ever ask me again I think I’ll just point you to this link: http://jackieloart.com/blog/a-show-ill-never-forget-my-thesis-show-pt-1/ (never did part two)

-People still knew me from CCA.

 

*note: Unfortunately, I cannot show images of the artists who were at the show. I told them I wouldn’t post them, because almost all of them told me not to in the first place. I can only direct you to the pages that I know of:

http://afuchan.com/

http://anna-lorraine.com/

http://www.caitlinng.com/

http://melissacazaresillustration.com/

http://kpelto.com/

http://mrcaraco.com/

http://brianmutschler.com/

http://marialeung.com/

http://songleestudio.com/

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