Weekly Blog 5/13/19 | Printing Struggles, Arteza Watercolors, and Oracle Deck Videos!

Hey guys! It’s Taylor and I’m here with the weekly blog and video-digest. Let’s get right into some updates.

First of all, I’ve had a (relatively minor) issue with the printing of the Millennial Mystic Tarot. This issue is not something I was aware of ahead of time, and actually, even after I got the decks, I had no idea that it was a problem. But a kind person who was in on the early promo run reached out to me and said:

“DUDE. These decks STINK.”

Fortunately or unfortunately, your call, she wasn’t talking about the art. She was actually referring to the rather chemical-y smell of the UV coating on the gloss-finish cards from MakePlayingCards.com, the printer I use. And while many people who do indie decks do use MPC, most of them get the MPC Card Finish rather than the Gloss Finish. I personally didn’t have a problem with the smell, but apparently some people are very allergic.

Lesson learned: Card finish. New decks are coming in today and I’ll be sending them out to reviewers and such shortly.

A note: Some would question why I’m sharing about this struggle – so many people want their deck production to seem flawless and smooth. But I feel that I’d rather use myself as an example for others who are making or contemplating making a deck, so that YOU can learn from MY mistakes and mishaps.

And another note: No one who purchases a deck, at all, ever, will get the gloss finish. I will be storing those for friends and family who are non-allergic, and only the card finish will be sold. So no worries for you.

Next up: I’m going to be doing some more Cheap Art Supply Celebration videos – YAY!! Next one will be trying out Arteza watercolors. I ordered that huge, $40, 60-tube (SIXTY TUBES) set. I know my M Graham paints are astoundingly higher quality, but honestly, I love cheap art supplies, including watercolor, because they free me up. They let me NOT worry about wasting paint. They let me just enjoy the joy of creating.

I’m also, with those Arteza paints, going to do a video on setting up a palette when you don’t know your paints well. While this is not often recommended, I do think a lot of us end up in this situation, where we want to make the most of a palette but don’t even know where to begin. So, I think it’ll help to have a video describing how I approach choosing paint blind, so to speak.

Thank you for reading. Without further ado, here is the video digest, a summary of the videos I posted to YouTube this week:

May 6: Starting the Sacred Storyteller Oracle | Watercolor Speedpaint and Updates

A speedpaint (timelapse video of me painting) of one of the first cards I’ve done on the Sacred Storyteller Oracle, my upcoming oracle deck. Click here to learn more about that project, or watch the video for a quick discussion.

Angelarium Oracle Deck Unboxing + First Impressions!

An unboxing and first impressions video for the Angelarium Oracle of Emanations deck from Lo Scarabeo. As per usual, I was less than thrilled with LS’s production of the deck, but it was a lovely one in terms of the illustrations and concept. Click here to learn more about Angelarium.

State of the Studio | Spring 2019

Every so often I do a “State of the Studio” video in which I give you general updates about my channel, my website, my shop, and my online presence in general. It’s a good chance to hang out, chat, and keep everyone up to speed on all this stuff that’s going on. This is the second SotS Address.

Well, that’s all I’ve got. Thanks for reading, and have a great day!

-Taylor

Weekly Blog 5/5/19: Facing My Fears – Following Through After Failure (& Weekly Video Digest)

Hey guys, it’s Taylor! This week I want to talk a bit about how one faces the fear that often follows on the heels of actual or perceived failure – in other words, how to get back in the saddle after we screw up or fail at a task. As usual, I’m speaking from past experience and what worked then, but also what I’m going through currently, and what works now.

I’ve wanted to be a comic artist for about 17 years. Some of you have heard the story: 11-year-old kid, reading a newspaper article about manga, decides, based on that one brief article, to become a manga artist; kid spends next 18 years studying; kid now blogs at taylorjohnson.art about said study. So yeah, drawing American manga has been my passion for the better part of my life.

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I put out what I thought was going to be my debut self-published, home-printed comic book in February – then abruptly pulled it from the figurative shelves (my Etsy shop) after a true friend saw it and said “This makes no sense. I can’t follow the story. I’m sorry, but dude, it doesn’t read.”

Best friend ever, by the way. Friends will give you compliments on your work. Great friends, valuable ones, will give you critiques.

But it hurt like hell, and I sat and licked those wounds for about two months. Because i realized there was a bigger problem than Beauty For Ashes not being good. If I had slacked off on it, if I hadn’t put my all into it, then it sucking wouldn’t be a problem. It would make sense.

The problem was, that was my best try. I did put my all into it. I tried my best and it was still bad. Really bad.

If the comic that represented my latest-and-greatest effort didn’t even make sense, if it was a jumbled mess, I had a bigger problem. Have a bigger problem.

I dont’ know the first damn thing about how to write and design a comic.

Oh, I can draw. And I can draw in panels. Many people can. What I struggle to do is make a sequence if pictures in panels make sense, instead of being a jumbled mess. In other words, I know art – but I don’t know jack about sequential art.

So. Literally back to the drawing board. I dragged my feet for a while, but got kicked into gear at…a convention, actually. AwesomeCon 2019 had its ups and downs, but one very high point was talking with a female comic artist (whose name I have unfortunately misplaced). My boyfriend actually dragged me over and made me talk to her.

I, awkward creature that I am, started out with “Hi, I’m sorry.”

Fortunately, she was better at conversation than I was.

Finally I said “You know, I’m trying to think of a question that isn’t one of the lame ones like ‘how did you break into the business,’ so I’m gonna ask…What exercises do you recommend for someone trying to learn pacing and to make their comics make sense?”

“Start really small,” she told me. “Start REALLY small. Do a one page comic. And make it flow, make it make sense. Do another one-pager. Make it flow better. When you can do one-page comics, go up to three. Then five. Then ten. Once you’re able to make the most out of ten pages, you can start thinking about something longer – and when you do, it’ll be powerful, because you’ll make the most of it.”

It was revolutionary to me, though it shouldn’t have been. One page comics sounded crazy, but the more I’ve thought about it, the more sense it makes. Painters aren’t generally encouraged to start with a 40-foot mural; novelists aren’t (usually) told to start with a 300,000-word epic. Seamstresses don’t start with experimental gowns for the Oscars. And no comicker should even try to start with a three-hundred-chapter epic.

And yet that’s exactly what I’ve been doing – okay, not three hundred chapters, but even a 5 or 10 issue series is a big deal. (That’s 150 to 300 pages, in the case of most of my works’ templates.)

I’ve also not done my basic homework. I got Making Comics by Scott McCloud for Christmas two years ago, and haven’t finished it. Manga in Theory and Practice by Hirohiko Araki is sitting in my Amazon cart, but I have yet to order it. And while I read some Eisner works many years ago, I have never read his classics on comics.

So this is me getting back to work – or school – in the area of comics. I’ll check in here about how it’s going, from time to time, and I’ll let you know what I find.

For now, however, here is a first draft of my first one-page comic.

1Page_BirdSibling_Sketch1

The prompt was “what a baby bird gets up to during the day,” and my inspiration was my experience being a sibling for the first time – when my brother was born – and how strange and amazing that experience was, and how I wished so badly that I could help out somehow.

The initial feedback is that the story makes logical sense, and the reader can follow the story, so I’ll be continuing this practice for a while yet – I think it’s really going to help.

That’s all I’ve got for the blog section…without further ado, here’s a summary of the videos I put out this week:

4/29/19: Deck Collection Spring 2019

This is just what it says on the tin: an updated video of my collection of Tarot, oracle, and angel decks.

5/1/19: May 2019 Card Reading

This one is the May 2019 card reading for my channel. It’s an interesting one this month.

Speedpaint Portrait of Molly Roberts | Reacting to my Old Process

This is one I’ve wanted to do for some time – a reaction video, but just me reacting to the timelapse footage of one of my oldest watercolor paintings. It turned out to be both amusing and inspirational to see it. Plus, I painted Molly Roberts – how cool is that?!

Anyway, guys, thanks for tuning in. I’ll keep you posted about the one-page practice comics, as well as other projects here on Taylor planet. Have a wonderful week!

-Taylor

Weekly Blog 4/29/19: My First Month Full-Time, Back to Back Projects, and the Weekly Video Digest

Hey guys! It’s Taylor and I am here with your weekly TaylorJohnson.art blog.

This was my first month in my whole life working full-time. For me in the US, and at my specific company, that means putting in 40 hours a week, every week, unless I take PTO (paid time off – “vacation days”). It’s been…exhausting, I’ll be honest. And I feel like the weekends just disappear without a trace, never to be seen again, leaving me here on Monday morning going “what just happened?!” But, the work is me doing what I’m passionate about (art) and so I’m grateful just to have the job.

Not to mention that, well, more money than I’ve ever had at one time in my LIFE is about to drop into my bank account. Yes, that’s right, a single paycheck from this job is more money I have ever had to my name. It’s kinda crazy, but also wonderful.

Of course, a bunch of that – also my tax return – is going to go towards initial printings of the Millennial Mystic Tarot, my first self-published divination deck. I have not started preorders for the first “real” printing yet (that starts June 9), but I let a few of my close friends and family get in on the promo run, which is going to be 10 or 15 copies that will mostly go to reviewers and potential retailers.

I also started on the next deck. Sounds crazy, again…but I have taken 2 months off of painting cards, and I’m ready to get started again. Yesterday I painted the Altar and the Mask for the Sacred Storyteller Oracle, a massive 88-card oracle that is going to be my next deck project. I’m currently working on Arches paper, which is interesting to say the least because I did the Millennial Mystic on Canson. I love Arches, but it does feel quite different from what I’m used to.

Finally, I actually went to AwesomeCon 2019 in DC this weekend, and it was great. I’d never been before – my first convention was Katsucon 2019, in February, so this was only my second convention ever – and I loved it! SO many great costumes, shops, and booths. I got to meet MoonChu, whose work I know online, and also the awesome RatLadyArt. There were many more amazing people but those are two of the standouts. I bought some really cute “Witch Merit Badge” pins from Shelby Wolf, and they are the cutest things EVER. Get some if you can.

Finally, here is the video digest for this week!

Card Decks I’m Using for Spring 2019 | Tarot, Oracle, Angel Card Favorites

In this video I talk about the Tarot, oracle, and angel card decks that I’m using (or planning to use) in spring 2019. Spring is in full swing here in VA, and I’m really enjoying the earthy-but-lively energies.

ANGEL CARDS 111 Workshop | Full 2hr Angel Card Reading Workshop

I have been planning this one for QUITE a while!…This is a full, two-hour workshop on reading angel cards. I realized early on in my angel card journey that there were plenty of free resources on reading oracle and Tarot cards, but very few that were tailored to angel cards. Because I don’t believe that financial hardships should prevent anyone from accessing the incredible healing guidance of angel card reading, I created this workshop to be a free resource for those who can’t afford multi-thousand-dollar courses.
Grimoire With Me Ep. 4 | Why I Share My Grimoires Online

Another Grimoire-With-Me, a short one this time, in which I talk about why I share my grimoires online instead of keeping them secret and hidden. There are several reasons that I do this…and just to be clear, I don’t actually share all of my grimoires! I have a few magickal books that just don’t even appear online. But most of them I do share, and if you’re wondering why, check out this video.

That’s all I’ve got for you for this blog. Stay tuned to my YouTube channel for more videos, follow my Instagram if you prefer IG, and follow this blog to stay updated on all things Taylor Johnson Art, including my upcoming divination decks.

Have a great day!
-Taylor

SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT Blog 4/22/19| The Millennial Mystic Tarot’s First Printing, New Project-mom Syndrome, and All My Feelings

Image description: A left hand, Caucasian, holds a medium-sized Tarot card, with the backing facing us. The cardback depicts four crystals, a crescent moon, and a night sky over an ocean. The background is vague and dreamy, and on the wrist of the hand is a tattoo: “I AM NOT AFRAID TO KEEP ON LIVING.” End description. 

Hey guys! I know I had another blog that was posted today, but I just HAD to get in here and share some thoughts really quickly.

I arrived home this afternoon to find a box in my mailbox from MPC – MakePlayingCards.com – and while it was no surprise, I’m pretty sure I had a very minor cardiac event taking  the box up to my apartment…I told myself not to get too hyped up, that this was just a test print, and that it was not going to be perfect. I’d planned to go upstairs, sit down with the deck, and write down notes on what needed fixing on each card.

Well, maybe I’m delusional from excitement, or maybe MPC just did a really great job…but the cards are flawless. FLAWLESS. I am amazed and thrilled and blown away. I can’t believe how GOOD they look. Everything is beautifully bright, beautifully saturated, and perfectly aligned on the card.

KingofPents_512.jpg

I don’t know how I lucked out this good, but honestly, the cards are exactly how I’d imagined them and dreamed of them.

It is…an incredible feeling. It cannot be described; the best I can do is to say that I feel like a popcorn machine starting to really get going. I feel like bits of excitement are just exploding in my chest. I’ve teared up several times.

I know. I’m acting like a new mom. The Empress energy is a little too real right now. But I’m basking in it. I have never completed a project that took anywhere near this long, and it has been a thousand percent worth it. I feel more whole than I have in a while, more at peace, more confident and also more humbled by the forces around me. I am so small, so insignificant, and it is an honor to be used in this way by the Forces That Be to create what needs to be created.

That’s what I see the Millennial Mystic Tarot as. Something that needed to be birthed into this world. I just played the role of the creative womb, the artistic pathway through which it came into existence.

Yep. New project-mom syndrome, I guess.

I don’t have anything further to say, really, except that yes, a flip-through will be coming shortly, and I’ll be sharing more about this project as news about it comes along. For now, though, I am just so goddamned proud of my work, and SO freaking grateful for those who have joined in the celebration, previously or today, and are helping me to celebrate the creation of my first deck!

S/O to S, V, and A for being incredibly generous and giving their time to review; to Aunt B for always looking at my art over Messenger and giving me both compliments and helpful tips; my Mom and Dädd (in-joke) for supporting this madness despite the simultaneous very real madness; and of course to my love, J, for helping me heal and helping me to make it through this project mentally. Also, S/O to EVERYONE who has liked, commented, or followed me on social media during the past 18 months.

I AM going to be doing a giveaway of a deck, but it will be US-only due to complex giveaway laws. I’m sorry, but it actually is complicated, and some of the penalties are very harsh. I will be posting about that later on my YouTube and Instagram, as well as here – so subscribe wherever and you’ll be notified.

For now, I’m going to get some rest and just play with my new cards. Of all the decks i own, I’ve waited the longest for this one. It’s completely (and I might not be speaking out of bias) worth it.

Stay tuned for more photos and info on ordering!

-Taylor

Weekly Blog 4/22/19: Overwhelm, Falling Behind, Catching Up, & Video Digest

Main image caption: Photograph of a rainbow-striped Tarot deck bag, surrounded by various witchy items, including a candle, a mini grimoire, a crystal, and an oracle deck. The image is from Taylor’s Etsy shop.

Hey all! Taylor here, with the weekly blog and some updates and info on how things are going.

I just completed my 3rd week working full time, and it still feels totally crazy to be doing this. At times I think “What was I thinking? This is nuts, I can’t do this.” I sometimes wonder what delusional state I was in to even apply for, interview for, accept, AND start a full time job.

Then again, I’ve done a lot of other “crazy” things in life, and the Universe has yet to let me fall on my ass (at least in a bad way). So I keep going, following the signs that tell me yes, even though this is crazy, you’re doing the right thing. I know that what I’m doing is what I need to be doing right now. Even if it doesn’t pan out long-term, it’s important that I do it, for now. I feel that very strongly.

And really, work isn’t bad. Work, in my case and in this particular job, is actually amazing. I can’t tell you about half the stuff because it’s secret, and the other half is actually ALSO secret but more in the “we haven’t signed a contract yet so don’t publicize it before we sign, please.” But it’s all interesting, and I work for and with awesome people, in an awesome company, so personally I’m okay with the required/requested secrecy.

So there’s really no issue with work…the issue is work plus Etsy plus Youtube plus blog plus having a social life. All of that doesn’t add up – not easily, at least. But…I don’t want to jinx it, but I feel like I can manage most of it, in some way, on a continuing basis. I mean, hell, I took yesterday (Sunday) and just sat down and recorded a 2hr workshop on angel cards, AND edited it, AND am uploading it now…and this is all DURING the craziness of my first month working FT. (And yes, I am okay and stable…I just had time and felt like it was time to make that angel card workshop!)

I guess what I mean is this: There’s nothing stopping me from managing to continue all of this stuff, even if it has to be somewhat streamlined, other than me. It’s just me telling myself I can’t do it. I truly believe, though, especially after this week of struggle but ultimately success, that I AM capable of managing it all.

I don’t have to choose. I can have my life and my work too. Being multipassionate doesn’t have to mean none of it gets done, in the end. Just means I have to be a bit more vigilant and a bit more inventive in my time management. 🙂

With that being said, and without further ado, here are the videos from this week.

April 15: Mid-April 2019 Check-In Card Reading

I’ve been doing monthly “first of the month” card readings all year, but I also do one on the 15th of each month – sort of a “check-in” to sit down and chat about how the month is going. This is that video, for April.

April 17: Sketchbook Tour 3 | Sketches and Designs from September 2018 to April 2019

I have done sketchbook flips (tours) for my past few sketchbooks; this is the third one in this loose series. It’s been a while since the last one but I wanted to share this one regardless. It’s amazing, to me at least, to see how my art has changed and improved over time. Keeps me hopeful about future improvement.

April 19 – no, wait, 20th: Grimoire With Me | Making My Book of Mirrors

This was a fun one, because it’s a Grimoire With Me meets Plan With Me: Two of my favorite things mashed together! It’s basically a grimoire in a six-ring binder/planner cover, and it contains my Book of Mirrors (sort of a spiritual/magickal journal, as opposed to a spellbook). During the voiceover I didn’t have much of a topic, just chatted about Books of Mirrors and this one’s particular purpose.

So that’s the video digest, and with that I’m going to sign off and post this blog before I end up posting things late again. Next week I’ve got a very special video workshop coming, assuming I can get a 2hr video successfully uploaded on my tired little MacBook and my weak Internet. I’ll keep you posted, as always, so stay tuned.

Before I go, though, I want to thank all the people who have been shopping at my Etsy shop lately. It honestly helps a huge amount; it may not be a huge dollar amount to most people, but actually, a large portion of my spending money (and a pretty huge portion of my funds for my art) comes from that shop. Starting next month I’ll have a bit more day-job income, but really, for right now I am able to do art largely because of my Etsy shoppers. I so appreciate you, and I have some new items coming soon, so keep visiting that shop and keep visiting here. 🙂

Thanks so much for reading. Have an awesome day!

-Taylor

PS – if you’re interested in the Tarot/oracle deck bag pictured above, check out the listing here!

Weekly Blog 4/15/19: Work During Work, Planner Love, and Weekly Video Digest

Image description: A close-up shot of part of an April 2019 calendar page. Someone has written “in office 7:30” on the first line.

Hey guys, it’s Taylor! Today I am talking about how I manage a “work/work balance,” how much I love planners (and why), while also going over the videos I posted this week.

I’ve been trying to manage what I’m calling a “work-work balance.” NOw that I work full time as an artist, I have to find a way to manage that work with my work as an independent artist. Basically, finding a way to paint at work and then still have energy and time to paint at home.

It’s not been easy. I gave myself a couple weeks of just day-job work, actually, to let myself get used to it. As I’ve never worked full-time before, this was a big transition for me, and I’m still adjusting. However, yesterday (Sunday) I was able to start painting some of my own stuff again. It felt really good to just work on something unrelated to my day job and just enjoy painting for painting’s sake.

One thing that’s been helping me a lot during this time has been planners and notebooks. Stationery may seem an obsolete or redundant product, in the day of endless planning/organization software and website options – but for many of us, having an “offline” or “analog” planning system is not only preferable but essential.

Personally, I don’t always have access to a computer, and my phone runs out of battery very easily. So having a notebook is important for that reason. And…well, I just enjoy pretty stationery. So yeah, notebooks are an important part of my life – and they have been instrumental in me figuring out how to balance the various aspects of my life and still Get Shit Done.

I honestly am not sure how much longer I can keep up 3 videos a week – that’s a LOT to do while working full time, running an Etsy shop, and so on – but I’ll keep trying for now. 🙂 For now my update schedule is videos Monday-Wednesday-Friday, and a blog post every Monday. The first and 15th of each month also have card reading videos – though, this month, those aligned with Monday video days.

Without further ado, here are the videos from this week:

WHAT PLANNER SHOULD I USE? | Comparing Different Styles of Planner

I realized I’ve used and accumulated a lot of planners of different styles over the years, so I thought I’d give examples and demonstrations of each here. I go over Bullet Journals, premade planners, ring planners, and more.
Rose Gold Personal Wide Rings Setup | Recollections Creative Year 6-Ring Planner

This is just a setup video of my latest planner. I actually wound up using this one for my spiritual journaling. I love setup videos so I thought it would be really fun to show my process too. 🙂

Grimoire With Me | Ep. 2 | Bitter Old Witches, Gen Hex, and Witchy Drama!

It’s here! Grimoire With Me is here!! I’m chatting about some tea-spilling topics this week, such as “bitter old witches” (myself included), Gen Hex, and general witchy drama. Get some tea and enjoy the good stuff.

Anyway, that’s my week in brief. I hope your April is going well. If you like this content and want to help support this whole operation, please do head over to my Etsy shop. Don’t forget to follow this blog so you’ll get notified when I post! I don’t do anything with your personal info, promise. Link is on the sidebar. Join! 🙂

All the best,
~Taylor

Weekly Blog 4/10/19: Adjusting to Full Time Work + Weekly Digest

Hey guys! It’s Taylor.

Today I’ve got the first blog since I made that change at the beginning of April, and I do apologize for it being a couple of days late. Working full-time has been a little crazy, and apparently I’ve still yet to learn to leave my weekends clear so that I can rest up properly – and take care of things like blog posts.

To be totally honest, I have barely painted at all, all this week. It’s been my first week of real full-time work, and I haven’t made time. I won’t say I haven’t HAD time, because clearly I’ve found time to do things like go shopping, set up new ring-planners, and make YouTube videos; but I wish I could have spent some time on painting. I’ll be getting back to that shortly, perhaps even this week.

I also have been thinking hard about getting back to comics. I always said that comics are what I really dream of doing, but after the debacle of trying to create Beauty for Ashes without any editors, beta readers, or even letting anyone else LOOK at it, I felt so defeated and so much a failure that I had to take a month or two off. However, a new story is tugging at my drawing hand, so to speak, and I feel moved to get to work on it again.

The Millennial Mystic Tarot is going through final edits and will be printed soon, and is still on schedule to go out in June.

And now for the video digest!

April 1: April 2019 Card Reading and Energy Forecast

In this video I did the first of April’s card readings (I do two – first of the month and halfway through) and used several decks of angel cards to deliver intuitive messages from the Universe to you and everyone else watching.

 

April 3: Cheap Art Supply Celebration, Episode 4 | Crayola Colored Pencils

In this video, the fourth in my series celebrating inexpensive art supplies, I colored a piece I did a while ago, of Instagram model Canniny, and chatted about my love of Crayola colored pencils. Inexpensive as they may be, I do love them!

 

Also April 3: Planner Lineup April 2019 – Plus A Rings Setup!

I’m not sure how this video ended up posted the same day as my Crayola colored pencil video, but it did. I show you the planners I’m using in April 2019, and also the rings setup I currently plan in.

 

April 5: 10 Tips for Breaking Back Into Your Grimoire

This video has had an awesome response and I’m so glad, because it’s a topic that I am struggling with currently myself: that feeling of “I can’t get back into my grimoire/spellbook/Book of Shadows, even though it’s right there waiting to be worked in!” In this video I share 10 tips that have helped me (truly) to get back into a routine of working in my grimoire and adding to it.

So yeah, that’s this week. I’ll be back next Monday with a written summary with the week of the 8th, as well as any updates I have on my various projects. Stay tuned!…

-Taylor