I'm sorry for taking another hiatus so soon after coming back. It was a combination of too much work and too little work. Very dangerous.
I've been taking a lot of time to myself to really reflect on my work, and decided that reflecting on my work hinders me working. So to get back on the wagon, here's a simple post about what I've been up to.
Its been so long since I've done figures completely out of line drawings. Very rusty, but I had a lot of fun making all these different marks! This piece was a series of character designs that I did. I enjoy designing characters, especially getting into their unique attributes. I also really loved drawing the fashion.
Last week was also Illustration week, many a great things going on including the annual AI party. As a result, I've developed very dark under eye bags and the need to indulge in takeout. Last night was also a night of insanity for me. Some people get stressed out and go get a massage. I spontaneously decided to cut my own hair. NO REGRETS!
Unfortunately because most of my projects are in the works right now, I can't share anything more concrete with you but heres a lovely set of quick portraits I did for a personal project. As a mixed ethnicity I admire diversity and I believe that beauty comes in many shapes, sizes, and colors.
I did the faces all with watercolor and ink, and placed them together on the computer. I did maybe 20 faces total but only used my favorites or the ones I deemed higher quality.
Portrait of Karin Elisabeth Dreijer Aanderson or Fever Ray
Aanderson being the lead singer of the band The Knife which she formed with her brother, Olof Dreijer. Fever Ray is the name of her solo career.
I'm still working on my 'Watercolor Basics' for you all, so I hope you enjoy this brief on my personal piece of Fever Ray.
This portrait is based off of Fever Ray's song 'Keep the Streets Empty for Me'. I was inspired by the intense imagery of the song as well as the haunting voice of Karin. As a musician Karin is always pushing the boundaries of music as a genre and as a reflection of culture. What I find most inspirational in her song and the album as a whole is the hypnotic trance like storytelling carried by a primal beat. It's electronic pop stripped down to its bare bones, the fragility of Karin's voice and her heartfelt lyrics won me over. I could listen to it a thousand times.
I really wanted to portray the intricate storytelling I feel that Fever Ray weaves in her songs, much like a spider weaves its web. In her song 'Keep the Streets Empty for Me' theres a sequence of lyrics that was really the focus of the picture for me, and the basis for the portrait.
I'm laying down eating snow
My fur is hot, my tongue is cold
On a bed of spider web
I think of how to change myself
Uncover our heads and reveal our souls
We were hungry before we were born
Here's a brief breakdown of the process of the piece including the different layers I created, first by hand and then compiled in Photoshop.
Sketches for portrait. I went with a variation of the far right piece.
Painting of Karin
Painting of Karin's hands
Fur of the wolf. I lost the original painting of the wolf so here's just an example of how I started it.
I had a lot of fun creating this piece and I was very excited to push different ideas and symmetry within the piece. I also experimented a lot more with compiling a piece digitally than I had done before.
But mostly I was just excited to do a piece I hoped would be an homage to one of the best musicians of our time.
I personally continue to struggle with this idea that illustration is its own sect of commercial art, separate from what is considered gallery sold fine art. Which may arise from the fact that I find more fine art inspiring than contemporary illustration.
This post was inspired by a struggle I'm sure many people feel when deciding whether or not to pursue illustration. (I’ve found, at least with people who want to make art in traditional mediums).
Illustration is different from personal or self-directed “fine art”, illustration is meant to tell a story. Usually in conjunction with a story, an event, or an idea the picture you create is meant to visually add to that.
Fine art usually indicates a level of higher thinking, a plane of mystery or higher intent in the work that doesn’t exist in commercial art. This is true sometimes, however I feel the lines of commercial and fine art are blurred.
Saints & Sinners
A piece I made for the La Gioconda project.
A reinterpretation of the famous Mona Lisa by Leonardo Da Vinci. Made with watercolor and ink.
Illustration was first a profession when people wanted to
commission art from an artist. These were fine artists per say, but they made
artwork for a specific purpose and a client who requested that art. Sometimes
it was a portrait and sometimes it was the artist’s interpretation of an event.
What I feel most connects an illustrator and an artist is
the fact that they’re chosen for the type of work they create. On the flip side, illustration holds a very special quality to it that I find is lacking in modern "Fine Art". There is a real craft of storytelling in Illustration.
In the same vein is comic storytelling, which I feel like is more prevalent in contemporary illustration now more than ever. Not only because traditional mediums are being made obsolete by computer technology but also given the rise in Indie comics and the change of illustrative styles.
I’ve often held this debate in my mind of whether or not I wanted to be a fine artist or an illustrator, and I always come to the same conclusion: Why can’t I be both - Or something in between? I still haven’t drawn a conclusion whether or not this is naïve, selfish, or even a question worth asking. But I do know that the reason why I feel so strongly about not compromising myself to one profession is purely for my craft.
A piece made for the collaborative group promo 'Bras'.
Promo includes pieces from recent SVA graduates.
For me the images I make are always going to be personal. Even if they’re specifically made for an article or a book, the imagery and the way that I make the art is a part of me. I know many illustrators would agree, but many argue that its not about you its about the story. This is true, the point of the illustration is to converse an idea but is it not the illustrator’s personal interpretation the origin of conversation?
It’s an open debate of course and many people feel a certain
way given their personal experience. And I'm not passing any judgements on anyone, nor am I trying to say something about the Illustration field. This is purely a personal and internal debate, but one that I feel I am not alone in. For myself, I feel as though the argument
of Commercial versus Fine Art within the Illustration world is that of
compromising my artistic vision within an illustrative craft. In choosing one or the other I automatically limit myself to the possibilities for my work in the future. As Picasso said, "The chief enemy of creativity is good sense."
Hope you enjoyed this internal debate from the depths of my
soul. Next week’s post will be . . . Watercolor techniques!
Lately I've been drawing a lot of patterns, and I wanted to share one way I learned how to make patterns from illustrator Julia Rothman who was so gracious as to substitute my business class at SVA. I'm not as artful at the craft of pattern making as Julia whose designs are subtle and full of movement, nor am I very experienced I would say. Nonetheless I wanted to share this fun way to create a very basic pattern and share my some of my designs with you. So lets begin!
Tiling is very easy to do, you can do it by hand with a copier or on the computer using Photoshop. Below are basic instructions on how to create a wraparound tile pattern.
Take a piece of paper, it can be regular old shitty printing paper or you can open a new document in photoshop. It can be any size but I personally like starting out with a square piece of paper. You can use virtually any medium too, it really depends on your personal tastes. For fun I use ballpoint pens.
Then once you're ready:
Step One: Draw an item, a person, a flower, anything in the center far enough from any of the edges.(Preferably centered.) Have fun with the design, don't think too much especially if its your first pattern.
Step Two: Cut the paper in half vertically. I'd try to be as straight as possible as you need the edges of the paper to be able to meet up neatly. Now take the edges with the design (the edges in the middle that you've just cut) and place them on the outside. So now what was the outside edges are in the middle touching, with the two halves of the design facing OUTWARD. I would tape the pieces together so as to keep the pages together. (Use tape on the back)
Step Three: Cut the paper in half again, this time horizontally. BE CAREFUL! to not mix up the edges. Now doing what you did in step two... take the edges with the design (the edges in the middle that you've just cut) and place them on the outside. Now the design is split four ways, and the design you've created is in either OUTER corner. Tape the pieces together so as to keep the pages together.
Step Four: Draw a design in the middle of the page. It can be the same design, or a totally new design. This will be in the middle, and the design that you've created before shall become the tile of the pattern.
Please refer to the diagram above, it may help with any confusion when you're making your own pattern! Then using a copier or if you're in photoshop, the stitching tool, copy the pattern you've made and connect the corners to complete the pattern effect!
Notes on pattern making, from sketchbook
I personally love to make patterns for fun, just because its a fun thing to do whether you're doodling in your sketchbook or working on a pattern for a consumer product. Patterns can be anything too, especially now when a handmade element in patterning is so appealing. Patterns can be on anything too from wallpaper to t-shirts and more unconventional items such as coffee mugs.
Here are some examples from my sketchbook of some patterns and doodles I made for fun that I think can take on a pattern like quality.
I had wanted to make a dress or the figure of a woman
Some notes on psychology that quickly turned into mindless doodling
snake doodle, opposite some brush markings
Now I wanted to share with you a pattern I've made using this basic technique. I'm fascinated with Fungi. Although I refuse to eat them because that very fascination with this organism has totally turned me off of consuming them. Drawing these different types of mushrooms was so much fun with all of their different colors, shapes and patterns. Thinking about the balance of these 'shrooms was fun too, the negative and positive space is important in the movement of the piece.
Then I made this little Salamander for the middle of the pattern.
Now using the tiling effect here's my wallpaper all put together!
It's not the greatest pattern ever made. But its something fun to do, and with every pattern you make the next one is always better. So there it is, my very simple very basic how to of patterns!
I hope you liked it, and I hope you attempt to make a pattern even if just for kicks.
East Meets West: Injecting personal stories into your artwork.
This is a piece called East Meets West that I did in my fashion class, our prompt was fashions that clash taught by Marcos Chin. I chose to illustrate this idea with tattoos through the ages rather than clothing or hair styles. Tattoos have steadily become a fashion statement rather than the symbol of those living on the fringes of society, such as gangsters and sailors.
I personally love tattoos and find them fascinating beautiful pieces of art (on the human body no less!). The two styles I love the most are perhaps the oldest Traditional American, and Japanese hence the title 'East meets West'. To recreate 'East' I used different Japanese printmakers including Kuniyoshi and in recreating the 'West' I used Sailor Jerry's iconic flash (changing things slightly such as color but staying true to the style and design).
But this piece ended up encompassing far more than the juxtaposition of tattoo styles. Being mixed half Caucasian and Asian has affected my work, and my personal philosophies in life. My father is Scots-Irish, born and raised in Oklahoma and my mother is Chinese, born and raised in Taiwan. Two very different lives that by the miracle of life came together, which is baffling on its own. My parents married, moved to Dallas, Texas and had 3 daughters. Years later my mother converted to Tibetan Buddhism, which I recognize as my own religion.
Growing up in a culturally diverse household in Texas has its ups and downs, its definitely made me stronger as a person and more confident in my convictions. It opened me up to discovering new things, including different artwork and different styles but it had its downsides as well.
I often felt that I was being pulled in different directions, and having to choose which style I wanted to do. Do I want to pursue the more linear style of Asian art or do I want to pursue realism prevalent in western art? This is a question I still ask myself, a problem that I'm solving with each new piece.
Many Americans who have foreign origins or parents from foreign countries understand the feeling of having to choose between your heritage as a culture and American life as a culture. More often than not its easier to abandon your heritage for American pop culture, but I find that many people, myself included, hold tradition dear to their heart. Which may be why I'm so drawn to the two traditional tattoo styles above.
On a personal level this piece represents my background, the melding of styles I love, and the conflict I feel being mixed. On paper its very simple, both styles are beautiful and so vastly different but in a way they compliment one another. In their conflict with one another there's harmony too. Embracing the opposing aspects of your life as compliments of one another is as natural as the opposing elements of fire and water. It was therapeutic putting all of this on paper, and having it tell my story for me.
On a lighter note this piece was done almost entirely by hand, with the background and a few color touchups done on the computer. By far my favorite part was doing the hair, simply because it was so much fun letting ink and brush do what it will.
I hope you enjoyed this post, I really wanted to share the more personal aspects of this piece rather than the breakdown of how I did it.
That being said next week's post will be a breakdown of how to make patterns! Yaay!
This week's post is about texture. I wouldn't classify myself as a digital artist when it comes to illustration, a lot of the digital elements in my work is from some layered elements or a bump in contrast or color. However I have been experimenting with digital art in this past year and the number one thing I've found that makes or breaks the quality and appearance of work done on the computer is texture.
A lot of the time you have artists who make incredible work using Photoshop (and other similar programs) but they always have the same feeling of soft clay (at least thats what I feel it resembles). Mainly this is because its incredibly difficult (I would say impossible) to get different textures only using the varying brush tools.
I've learned from other artists that the best way to break up this monotony in your digital design is to bring back the hand made element into your work by creating your own textures and scanning them into the computer. Below is an example of a piece I did using different textures on the computer.
Movie poster prompt for 'An Education'.
Created in Marcos Chin's Fashion Illustration class.
As you can see I incorporated texture into the background, and in the smoke to add the effect and quality of the piece. Below are the textures I created and brought into Photoshop. These were created with graphite on bristol and vellum, sometimes mixed with water to change the depth or create new and interesting texture. The best thing about creating your own texture is that you can have fun with it! Its a nice excuse to make a mess and allow things to happen accidentally.
An important thing to remember is that 'multiply' and 'darken' on your layer in photoshop will help to blend the texture immensely. When you do this you can mask the parts you don't want and lower or increase the opacity. There are also ways to change the color and eliminate the white but I'll save that for another post involving line.
There is no right or wrong to this technique, a lot of what you do should be a learning process that coincides with the way you work.
I hope you enjoyed this post, and stay tuned for next week :)