Weekly Update 1/29/18 | Zine Influences, Comic Inking, and Self-Publishing Rebellion!

[Pictured: An assortment of the zines and self-published publications I’ve collected over the years.]

Hey y’all! It’s Julian. I’m in the midst of a comic-inking marathon, but I’m taking a few minutes to write up an update. 🙂

I’ve been really inspired by zines, zine culture, zine discussion, and zine documentaries this week – and self-publishing in general is becoming even more appealing to me than before. I’m really excited and, in fact, proud to be self-publishing. I honestly think that self-publishing is the future of art, rather than a dying concept. I see more and more young artists self-publishing zines, books, and comics, and more and more big companies going down…in a way, it makes me happy. We are still here.

I’m currently working hard on My Life On The Sidelines, my current comic project. I’m on the Prologue right now and am about 2/3 done with those 24-ish pages. I’m looking into formatting and printing it, and it’s going to be more zine-sized than my previous (8.5×11″) comics. Every day I’m learning more about what my technology can do and how I can print them without going to a bigger printing service. It’s awesome!

(If you’d like to read Sidelines now, please click here.)

The whole idea of self-publishing appeals to me partly because it’s an act of rebellion. Not just if you make an explicit, politically drive riot grrl zine – I mean that self-publishing itself is an act of rebellion.

How so?

Well, first of all, it rejects the very idea of needing permission: permission to speak, permission to share your ideas, permission to promote your art. It rejects the idea of needing validation; anyone can self-publish, so it doesn’t matter whether your art is “good enough” or “high quality.” And perhaps best of all, self-publishing is no respecter of persons. Rich, poor, POC, white, male, female, nonbinary – anyone can make a zine, and for the most part, no one can stop you.

Of course, I realize I’m speaking from a place of privilege in that I’m in a country and area where if I say (or self-publish) something outlandish, I’m not likely to be killed for it. But really, in most places, anyone can self-publish. You can even be anonymous or use a pseudonym if you’re really uncomfortable about it. I do.

But really, I believe that self-publishing is an act of rebellion, a show of courage, and a practice of self-worth and love. Self-publishing your work shows that you are unafraid and unabashed and unashamed.  And so I’ll keep running off photocopies.

Until the next time we speak, I hope you’re having an excellent day, and I’ll talk to you again very very soon!

~Julian

Weekly Update 1/22/18 | New Materials for Old Artists; Choosing Proper Paper; and Creating Consistent Content

Hey y’all! It’s Julian, and this is the weekly update for January 22, 2018. I’m going to be talking today about being an experienced artist with new materials, the value of using appropriate paper for whatever medium you’re working in, and also my main New Year’s resolution.

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First off, I don’t pretend to be a highly experienced artist – I just mean that I’ve been drawing for about 15 years, and seriously studying since 2016, and so I’ve tried a lot of things and failed at a lot of things. (“The beginner artist has ruined dozens of pieces; the expert artist has ruined thousands.”) So I kind of know what I’m doing…with a few things. Ink pens, I’m good at. Markers, I’m pretty good at.

But dip pens with bottles of ink and watercolor painting?!

Nope. Nope nope nope. I know NOTHING.

And yet I am trying those things right now!

I’m very new at watercolor. I reeeaaaally do not know what I’m doing. I’m screwing up a LOT. And yet…I’m having a blast!! It is actually really fun to not know what you’re doing, and to make mistakes, when you have the right approach and the right mental attitude towards it. Personally, I love trying new mediums and screwing up. I don’t always love screwing up (it’s really annoying when I accidentally plop ink in the middle of a beautiful painting!), but I really love the overall experience of trying a medium I’m not good at.

I think it’s because I love the challenge. I love that each medium has pros and cons and that each tool solves some problems and causes others. I love figuring out how the heck to work with each medium.

I’ve gotten to the point in my artistic life, I think, where I can just try new things and it doesn’t emotionally destroy me when I fail, or mess up, or whatever you want to call it – when things don’t go the way I’d imagined. The thing is, I’ve accepted that art will NEVER go exactly how I imagine it. I never will be able to pull that perfect image directly out of my head. Ever. It’s just not going to happen.

But once you let go of that pipe dream of perfection… gosh it’s fun to try!

Jimin Watercolor

Now about paper. Paper is so, so important. I think my latest piece (the boy in blue, aka Jimin Park from Kpop band BTS, pictured above) is proof of this.

I used a bit of watercolor from tubes that I got in a set of 12 for $5 from Michael’s. These watercolors are probably a nightmare to a pro, and yet even in my hands, on decent paper, I got pretty darn good results (well, I’m happy with it!). But crummy paper, even with nice watercolors, would have turned out super messy. Maybe, when I have some really much nicer watercolors, I’ll do a video discussing/demonstrating this.

My excuse for a long time was “I’ll ruin the good paper! It’s not worth it to invest in good paper! My art doesn’t deserve good paper!” That was BS. It is, to me, the same as saying “Well, I’m investing in the red and orange pencils, yes, but if I buy nice blue and green pencils, I’ll ruin them. Never mind that I’m using the reds and oranges. Nope, can’t invest in blue or green.” See? The paper is as much a tool as the paint/pencil/marker.

My point is this: Invest in paper. Doesn’t have to be Arches. Just at least buy the right kind of paper. So if you’re learning watercolors, invest in basic watercolor paper (Canson XL is great and very cheap!). If it’s uncomfortable to use fancy paper, remind yourself: Someday you will be working on fancy paper anyway, so you might as well get used to it now!

Get comfortable with the “fancy” paper as much as you get comfortable with the pen or brush. You can always have a “messy page,” a spare piece of that paper that you JUST use to test colors/paints/brushes/etc. Or doodle on a page or two. Just get your brush wet and get something on that freakin’ paper!!

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Finally, I want to talk about my biggest New Year’s resolution, which was actually just the choice of a Phrase of Intention for the year. Many people choose a “word of the year,” but I chose a phrase: Create Consistent Content. It’s my aim, my goal, my guidance for the year. When I don’t know what to do with myself, I intend to turn to this phrase and remind myself that the key to building a brand, and also the key to building a creative practice and improving on one’s work, is Creating Consistent Content!

Yeah. Yeah, I know it’s cheesy. But it’s helping me so far.

I had to find a way to quantify this, though – how to know whether I am indeed creating consistent content. Thus, here are my goals:

  • Create one color illustration (9×12″ or larger) every week in 2018. (Bonus points: Make 55 total so that it’s a bit more than once a week.)
  • Release a comic issue every other month in 2018, for a total of 6 issues. (Bonus Points: Release an offset-printed collection, containing the first 5 chapters plus the prologue, at the end of the year.)
  • Make a net profit of [number I won’t share] off of my art.

Basically these goals are to keep me accountable to that idea of Creating Consistent Content. I wanted to share them so that you can help keep me accountable too.

Well, this post is already late, so I’m going to send it off to y’all. Thank you again for all your support, and please do check out http://www.etsy.com/shop/julianjaymesart if you’d like to purchase anything and help me towards my goals!

~Julian

Midweek Update 1/18/18 | ANNOUNCING THE SECRET PROJECT! | Getting a Day Job | Midori Notebook Inserts On Sale

Hey y’all! It’s the first of (hopefully many) Midweek Updates. I do my main updates on Mondays but I intend to also have Midweek Updates on occasion. I am probably usually going to be too busy to do midweek updates, but I will definitely do them when I can!

The first and best item on today’s agenda is that I can FINALLY tell you about the Secret Project!!! Holy crap!! It’s the BIGGEST REVEAL EVER!!

So, I’ve been working with Ogreware (http://www.ogreware.net) over the past several months, and I…have illustrated their first game. It’s a fantastically addictive little app called Calling All Heroes, and if you’re interested, you can play it online. I have been working on the illustrations a lot over the past…oh gosh, over six months now. Here are some of the illustrations I did for them:

It’s honestly one of the most fun projects I’ve ever gotten to work on. I’ve been interested in concept art since I was a kid, and I love that I finally got to work on a game. There may even be more in the future, who knows!

In other news, I have gotten…a day job. I decided to get a day job so that money would work a little better, so that I could possibly move out of my current situation soon (ie with my current roommate). It’s not that my situation is bad or that I’m in danger or anything, it’s just really, really annoying and frustrating. I have a possible opportunity to move out this year, though, with a much better cohabitation situation, so I want to be able to save up money for down payments and such.

I don’t want to out myself OR the employer for our Real Identities, so I’ll simply say that I am working with a small business in the medical field, and that though it’s just a day job, I am very much looking forward to it.

Finally, I have restocked my Etsy shop with a bunch of new items, including a CRAPTON of Traveler’s Notebook inserts:

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Plus, I have 10% off EVERYTHING on my shop this month, so you can get these for just a couple dollars! Here’s the link: http://www.etsy.com/shop/julianjaymesart

Incidentally, I am ALSO selling off my old BJD (ball jointed doll), a Kid Delf Litchi from LUTS:

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She’s available here: https://www.ebay.com/itm/LUTS-Kid-Delf-Litchi-Female-BJD-MSD-Size-45CM-Punk-Dressed-Ball-Jointed-Doll/183023373604?hash=item2a9d0b0d24:g:vFcAAOSw8-FaX5-P (on eBay)

Well, this has been an extensive update. Thanks for sticking with it! Please use the Follow option on the left to get notifications whenever I post (once or twice a week). If you’re not comfortable with that, though, you can like me on Facebook and you’ll get the same notifications!

Thanks for your support! 🙂

~Julian

Weekly Update 1/15/18 | “Sidelines” Comic Creation Process – Setbacks, Successes, and Surprises!

So I’m in the beginning of the Starting-To-Panic Point: the moment at which the number of days before my deadline approaches the number of pages I need to do BY that deadline. At a good steady pace, I can ink maybe a page a day. I am very slow and very bad at focusing, and I get burned out easily, so I prefer to keep it down to one page a day. That doesn’t often last to the end of the deadline period, but hey. One can try.

Today is January 15; my deadline for my comic is February 15. Well, actually, the release date is February 15. I have to have all the pages inked by the 7th at the VERY latest.

To make matters more difficult, I have a convention coming up just days after that deadline, AND – I’m inking these pages with a dip pen! Not my usual Microns, but a dip pen! What the…?! What was I thinking?!

Me: But G-pen nibs make such beautiful lines! It’s everything I’ve ever looked for in line art!
Also me: Never mind how it looks, it’s not POSSIBLE to do a whole 20 page intro chapter in 20 days if you’re doing it with a dip pen. 
Me: But dip pens are PERFECT!
Also me: And they take forever.
Me: BUT THEY’RE PERFECT!
Also me: You’ll never get it done in time if you do it with dip pens.
Me: And if you make me use microns, it’ll look lifeless and lame. I need to use dip pens for this! MY COMIC IS WORTH IT!
Also me: *massive sigh*

This is just a taste of what goes on in my head on a day-to-day basis.

So yeah, the dip pen situation is slowing things down, but I desperately want to use dip pens for this project. So unless/until it becomes abundantly clear that that’s impossible, I’m still going to try.

I HAD had the first several pages sketched very neatly and was ready to start inking them, but then realized – much to my dismay – that I had sketched them on paper that isn’t good for pen and ink. I’m used to my Microns, which will write on pretty much any paper without much trouble. Dip pens and ink are a bit more finicky.

So I traced and redrew all those pages onto different paper, paper that actually takes pen and ink in a great way. I probably should use Bristol board, but I’m broke, on a budget, and already have drawing paper on hand, so yeah, higher-grade drawing paper it is.

I’ve also reorganized some of my art materials into more portable cases. If anyone’s interested, I’d be happy to do a “what’s in my pencil case?” video, since those seem to be pretty popular amongst the YouTube journaling/art people. 🙂

Also! I’m having a huge 10%-off-EVERYTHING sale on my Etsy shop. So head on over! There’s original art, trading cards, journals, and handmade goods galore!

Thanks again to everyone who’s been supporting me through this journey so far. I really am looking forward to this year. It’s shaping up to be a good one. 😉

~Julian

Weekly Update 1/8/18 | Dip Pen and Ink, Upcoming Reviews, and THE SIDEKICK STORY HAS A NAME

Hey y’all! It’s Julian, and I am obsessed with Derwent pencils, dip-pen-inking, and my new manga series.

First off, I’ve shifted from pen inking (ie fineliners/brush pens) to brush inking (brush and ink) to finally dip-pen inking, which I’ve wanted to do forever but haven’t had the resources or skill to do. Turns out, it’s really not that difficult, and it’s a super fun and versatile tool! I’m currently using some Speedball nibs, but I have some comic nibs (Nikko G-pen nibs) being shipped in from Japan as we speak. (Why do we have to import these things from Japan?! Why can’t I buy G-pen nibs from, like, Hobby Lobby?!)

I have some new art supplies to review – no, I didn’t buy them myself, I got them for Christmas. 🙂 I’m going to be doing a comparison video on some graphite (“sketching”) pencil brands: Derwent Graphic, Derwent Academy, Prismacolor Turquoise, Artist’s Loft, and possibly more – plus, of course, “regular #2 pencils.” I am not nominally a graphite artist, but I do all my work in pencil before inking it, and I do use various grades, so yeah, I’ve been trying a few brands and I do play favorites when it comes to art supplies, so I thought I’d share my experience with those. 🙂

Also, my dear boyfriend got me a lovely set of Arteza watercolor brush pens for Christmas, and I’m going to be reviewing those too. They are AMAZING so far. I’ve never used watercolor pens, though, so I can’t say I really know what I’m doing! Still, they’re fun as heck and I did the piece pictured above with them, so you might enjoy them if you want to create a look like that. 🙂 I got the 48 set, for the record.

Next: The “sidekick story,” which I’ve been working on for months, finally has a name, and it is:

My Life On The Sidelines
Or, The Not-So-Magical World of Magical Girls, As Explained by Joel Rowan.

(Yes, it’s going to be quite tongue-in-cheek.)

It’s going to start with a 20-page introductory chapter, and that will come out on February 14. I intend to make my deadline February 7 and then print it over the next few days. I’ll be prepping for a convention then, so I don’t want to push the deadline too close. (Spoiler: I will most likely push the deadline WAY too close.) Read more about it here!

Oh…forgot the most important thing…I may be getting a job. A day job! I’m going to start to have more money, and something to do some days other than art! Just part time, but I’ll be working again, so…oh gosh this is scary. I’ll let you know more when I can.

~Julian