Monthly Update December 2018 | Many, Many, Many Projects!

Hello everyone, and welcome to the December update blog!

I’ve been hard at work both at my day job (3D model design and texture painting), and my Tarot deck at home. The amount of work is heavy, but not unbearable, and I’m enjoying it, so I guess it’s a good deal. 🙂 I enjoy both jobs very much.

I’m itching to draw comics again, though, and I’ve got an idea in mind. Unlike my previous works, it’s not a gift for anyone – it’s a comic I’ve wanted to draw for some time, a story that aches to burst out into the world. It’s got the working title Paisley and Patch, and it’s the story of a rock star and a roadie. In one form or another, I’ve been writing this story since I was 15 or so, and I’m very hopeful about finally drawing it.

It’s a bit of a self-indulgence, but those often are the best stories. 😉 I’ll be reading lots of romance and drama manga to get inspired, and yeah, I’m just very excited about this very dear-to-my-heart story coming to light and to life.

But first things first, and that means that before I can seriously work on manga, I need to finish up my Tarot deck. There are about 48 images left to paint, and only 2 of them need to be inked (the rest are already ready to paint), so it’s just a lot of painting. I’m still on schedule to start test printing in March and have the proposed Kickstarter in June. I’m very excited about this whole thing. It’s going to be awesome. 🙂

I’ve been managing weekly videos over on my YouTube channel, which is pretty good by my standards. I was always a very sporadic YouTuber, but I’ve learned to build up a stack of videos so that I don’t actually have to do it every week, but rather have a bit of a buffer in case I get busy or things come up. Basically I work ahead of time and schedule videos, so that if I can’t manage to record anything, I can at least have those scheduled videos automatically posting for a few weeks while I get myself back together. 🙂 I’m currently about a month ahead of schedule – that is, most of December’s videos are already recorded, edited, and uploaded. It’s just a matter of YouTube posting them for me each week. Pretty handy!

Also, I’ve re-opened my Etsy shop, and I really appreciate the people who are shopping there. I don’t know how you’re finding my shop, considering that Etsy’s search algorithm has become really difficult to deal with, but you have, and I love you for it! I am so happy to be selling again, not even so much from a financial perspective (though it does help), but from the perspective of wanting to be of service and share my craft (notebooks, sewing, and art).

This is all a lot, but it’s helpful to be paper planning. I’m enjoying and having a lot of good results with my bullet journal, and have also been doing “daily diary” journaling to process thoughts and experiences. All in all, paper planning is helping me to keep it all together.

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I hope this blog finds you well, and that everything is going well for you. And until next time, as always…I hope you are having a really excellent day, and I’ll talk to you again very very soon!

-Taylor

Weekly Blog 11/26/18 | Changing Mindset, Altering Self-Image, and Paradigm Shifts

Hey all!

We all reach points in life where we, naturally and appropriately, question how we view ourselves in relation to the wideer world. We ask, am I primarily a parent or a worker? An employee, or an employer? Mostly working at building a career, or mostly holding down a day job to fund a passion project? Winner or loser? Someone or just one amongst many?

Personally I don’t believe that any of these are inherently good or bad, right or wrong. Nor do I believe that any one quality, status, or identity need fit one person for their whole life.

When I was ten, I would tell everyone that I was going to be a writer when I grew up – a novelist, specifically – and to please tell me off if I ever even CONSIDERED being anything else.

At fifteen, I insisted I was going to be a graphic novelist.

At eighteen, a social worker or art therapist.

At twenty-three, I probably would have shrugged and said “I won’t grow up, I’ll probably be dead sooner than that.”

And now, at twenty-eight?

Technically, I’m a 3D modeler, VR engineer, artist, and writer. I do both less and more than I had planned as a younger human.

I have never published a novel, but I’ve written a few, and I am currently writing a novella that I plan to self-publish. I have never finished a graphic novel, but I’ve done a few one-off comic books. I have not gotten a degree, so I’m not a social worker or art therapist, but I’ve had the opportunity to run groups and do workshops and presentations about my recovery from mental illness. Unexpectedly, I’ve gotten some training in 3D/VR software, and I do 3D model design and VR engineering. I also run a small YouTube channel, something I’d said was definitely not for me.

I am not dead, and am hoping not to be anytime soon.

So basically, I guess my point is that you never know where life is going to take you. You’re going to gain interest in, stumble upon, and learn about things that you hadn’t even been aware of ten years ago – so how could you know where you’ll be in ten years?

And that is totally okay. Dream like you’ll live forever, live like you’ll die tomorrow. Do what you love, even if that’s never the same thing twice. Be yourself, whoever that happens to be today.

Change is not inherently good or bad. Our reactions to change determine how we experience that change. I used to hate the idea of “me” changing. I wanted to have a single identity, never changing, something I could lean on. I wanted to just be so passionate about something that I could point to that one thing and say “That’s what I do, that’s who I am. I eat, sleep, and breathe that.”

But to be honest, in practice, I don’t actually think that’s healthy. If you have something that consumes you to the detriment of you being you, it…well, that doesn’t work for me.

Much as I may resent it, I’m just a human. A complex, flawed, multifaceted human with a lot of interests, a lot of hobbies, and a lot of skill sets. Sometimes I’m happy about working in 3D/VR, other times it feels like “why am I even trying to do this?!” Sometimes I feel that ache of need to just be a writer or just be a comic artist, but really, if I just did one thing, I’d miss the others.

Am I easily distracted? Do I have focus issues? Am I scattered? Am I just really, really a Gemini when it comes to work?

At this point I don’t really question it. If it’s a noveling day, I work on a novel. If I feel moved to work on art, I pull out the paint and brushes. If my heart is crying out for 3D modeling, I boot up Blender.

It’s okay to have a lot of interests. It’s really okay. Most people are more complex than we realize, or indeed give them credit for. Very few people can be defined by one vocation, especially if you include all the years and seasons of their lives.

It’s romantic to think that we can just love and be one thing forever, but not realistic. And that’s okay. Be who you are today, do what you love today. Sleep, dream, wake up, and take tomorrow as it comes.

~Taylor

Weekly Blog November 5, 2018 | Looking Ahead: What’s In The Works

Greetings all! It is now the first Monday in November, and now that I’m not quite as absurdly busy, I’m going to *try* to do weekly blogs again. I’m working on getting back into my social media game (loud snort, raucous laughter), and I do want this blog to grow, so I’m going to be at least trying to blog weekly here on Mondays.

It’s just been Samhain (Halloween) and is about to be Thanksgiving, then Christmas, then New Year’s…and then it is TWENTY NINETEEN. So this month and next month, I’m working on composing lists of what I’m going to be making for you guys in the next year (2019). I am forever coming up with ideas for art, comics, decks, books, video series, etc, and while not all of them end up seeing the light of day or being published or made available, I love that idea-birthing process. It’s so much fun to just write down ideas and brainstorm and try to figure out what’s going to work, what’s plausible, and how I can get more things out there.

The biggest thing I’d like to make happen in the new year is a video course on reading Tarot cards. I have been reading and studying the cards since 2002 and I am feeling finally ready to share what I’ve learned – and I do see some major gaps in what’s available in terms of free online courses. So I’m going to be providing a course by the end of 2019 that will go over EVERY CARD IN THE DECK in a balanced way – not focusing 90% of the “Card Meanings” section on the Majors and then mostly skipping over the Minors. It will also go over basic things like spreads, combinations, and reversals – but also detail some more advanced things like creating your own spreads, using different systems of interpretation, and even ethical and legal issues around card reading for pay.

Whether the course will be free or not is going to depend largely on how my finances are looking as we go into 2019. As previously mentioned, I quit one of my jobs, and so while some things are a lot easier, financially things could be quite tight for a while. So, I apologize for not being able to promise right from the beginning, for sure, that it will be 100% free, but I just can’t make that promise at the moment. However, I will do my utmost to make sure that it is FAR more affordable than most (I’m thinking $50 or less for unlimited access to the entire course).

I’m also preparing to do a Christmas/Yule themed Tarot/divination challenge, over on Instagram, called #SimpleGiftsChallenge. It contains 31 prompts for the 31 days of December, and you can do it with Tarot, oracle, Lenormand, or angel cards; Oghams, runes, or geomancy; stones, bones, sticks, what have you – even a pendulum reading of some sort would be awesome. I would adore hearing from you, so tag me (@taylorjohnson.art) and hashtag #SimpleGiftsChallenge and I’ll check out everyone’s posts each day! I will personally be using the Moonchild Tarot, which is my new fave, but you’re not required to even limit yourself to one form of divination, let alone one particular deck. Use whatever feels right for each day.

These are, for reference, the actual questions, in image style:

Okay guys, I have to get this blog out so I’m going to go ahead and post, instead of writing more and more and more ad nauseum. If you’d like to support this whole operation, please do head over to my Etsy shop (http://artbytaylorjohnson.etsy.com); to contact me, please use the contact page.

Until next time…

~Taylor

Monthly Update August 2018 | Re-Prioritizing, Final Stages of my Tarot Deck, and Why I’m Staying With Etsy

Hey guys! It’s Julian!

I have a lot of updates to post in this one, so let’s just get to it.

Re-Prioritizing

Last month (July) I attempted to do World Watercolor Month. I did not, in fact, succeed in doing World Watercolor Month – in that I didn’t complete it. I do feel that it was a success in that I quit for the right reasons: Three – no, now four commissions came in during July, and so I really had to let WWM go.

I am trying to think of it as reprioritizing rather than quitting. Really, making a speedpaint video for every day, on the day, AND painting every day, was ridiculous. But I managed it until the 17th – when a few BIG commissions came in. Not just “draw my OC” or “can you vectorize my logo” stuff. No, I’m talking “part-time jobs for the next few months” type things. I can’t tell you about most of them yet, but gosh I am BUSY.

The one I’m able to tell you about is that I’m now going to be handling all the social media and blogging for OgreWare. I’ve been working in partnership with them for some time now on their Calling All Heroes app game, and now I’m their social media manager! It’s pretty darn fun, I gotta say. I’m honestly not much a social media guru, but I’m learning, and it’s…like I said, pretty fun. You can check out ogreware.net and facebook.com/ogreware to see what I’m up to with them. Please do go follow their accounts, by the way, because you’ll get to see some of my art there that won’t be seen anywhere else.


 

BIG Tarot Deck Update

So here’s the most exciting thing I have today: I HAVE FINISHED INKING MY TAROT DECK. As of July 31, all the cards are inked. All 79 of ‘em. Fully inked. Ready to paint.

Holy carp.

It’s taken four months, which is actually just about what I expected. I intend to have all the cards painted in another four months, and will then take the second half of December off to recuperate. Then in the first couple months of 2019, I’ll sort out printing – and then my Tarot deck will be on sale in spring 2019!! So damn excited about that.

I will be using Mijello Mission Gold watercolor paints to paint this deck. To be entirely honest, I am not super super crazy about them; I much prefer the M Graham paints, of which I admittedly only have one, but which I’ve seen many reviews of and which I’m fairly sure I would prefer. But I wanted to buy a big set of moderately nice paints, to figure out which pigments and hues I like – then I could buy those individual pigments in a nicer brand. That was the plan from day 1. So I’ve figured out my sort of “12 color dream palette” list, and I’ll be purchasing the M Graham versions of those from Blick in a year or so.

I wasn’t a painter until this year. I’m a newb, and I still don’t feel ready to do this project, but it’s here, it’s time, and I need to just DO it. I can always do pieces over if I absolutely have to. This project already taught me so much about inking – I can’t wait to see what it teaches me about watercolor. 🙂


 

Shop Expansion

I’m looking into expanding my Etsy shop, and I actually wanted to talk a bit about Etsy. In defense of Etsy, actually. Most people these days are going “oh!! Etsy!! They increased their fees for no reason!! They’re awful!! Boycott!!!1!1” But honestly, Etsy is still the cheapest handmade goods salesplace around for smaller shops – most other platforms for online storefronts have a subscription fee or take exorbitant “commission fees” out of your profits. And Etsy has a massive marketplace following to boot. Most people who buy handmade goods and art turn not to Shopify or Amazon Artistans, but instead head straight to Etsy.

And no, Etsy has not paid me to say any of this. It’s based on my own research, and my own experience, which has been, overall, very good. I’m happy with Etsy for now. Someday, yes, I’d love to have a storefront on my own website and only sell through there. But for right now, considering the size of my shop and the amount of traffic I get, Etsy is ideal for me.

Anyways. About expansion: I’m going to be offering more new items soon, like stickers, a wider variety of traveler’s notebooks, and original paintings. To make room, I’ll be putting some items on clearance that either haven’t sold or that I just want to move along a little faster. So please check out the shop frequently – I’ll be updating it with new items and new sales soon! You can find it at http://julianjaymesart.etsy.com.


Well, that’s about all I’ve got for today. Until next time, guys, I hope that YOU are HAVING a REALLY EXCELLENT day, and I’ll talk to you again very very soon. Bye!

~Julian

MONTHLY Update June 2018 – Changes to Site Format + Art Updates

Hey guys. It’s Julian. And let me tell you, having two jobs – running my online presence, and working a day job – is EXHAUSTING.

I don’t mean to complain though – quite the opposite; I am grateful for these opportunities. I just wanted to explain my reasons for posting less lately. While I have kept up with Instagram to an extent, and my YouTube has been relatively active, I’ve not been able to blog here much, because I’ve been doing my best to manage my wellness. Health has to be my #1 priority, and with chronic health conditions, it can require some tough decisions – like “do I blog, or do I get the rest I need today?” Rest usually wins out.

So I’ve decided that for now on, I’ll just do a monthly update, plus random non-update blogs. I think a weekly update is not really that necessary, and it would be more useful for you – and more convenient for me – to just put out 2 or 3 non-scheduled posts of a more functional variety (tutorials, product reviews, etc) for the rest of the month.

My hope is that by taking off the pressure of “I haven’t done my Weekly Update yet!” I’ll make working on my blog a bit more appealing for me; and by adding more useful posts like “check out this tip/item/tutorial I made for you!” I’ll make reading my blog more appealing for you.

Win-win.

So, this is going to be your very late June update, the first of the Monthly Updates.

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7 of Swords.

Tarot Updates:

  • I’ve completed the sketching for my Tarot deck, and I’ve inked 56 of 79 cards. There’s still a lot of inking to do, and then painting every one of them – but yeah, I have the actual design done for every card.
  • I had a birthday and acquired a wonderful array of watercolor supplies. I have a few more items coming in the mail, thanks to a gift card, but as soon as those are in, I’ll be doing a “Birthday Haul” video, as well as a Watercolor Supplies video.
  • I’ve realized that I can’t just start painting the color into my Tarot cards without any prep work. It will require color compositions, a lot of planning, and also, y’know, learning watercolor. To be honest, I’m a bit nervous about just starting. I feel like I shouldn’t start until I’ve had years of practice painting! Then again, I haven’t had years of practice inking with a dip pen, but I did my Tarot cards in dip pen anyway. Maybe, like with that, this project will be a learning experience.
  • I AM on track to finish the Tarot deck illustrations by the end of the year, and i should be able to have them for sale by spring next year!

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Illustration Updates:

  • In an effort to learn watercolors, I’m doing a bunch of random illustrations as practice. I’ve got maybe 6 or 8 inked and ready to do right now, and all of them, once complete, will be available for sale on my shop! If you’ve ever wanted to own one of my pieces, or just want to support me somehow, they’ll all be priced around the $50 to $100 range. Some will benefit charity, especially my Pride pieces (half of the proceeds will go to the Human Rights Campaign).
  • Speaking of, I’m doing Pride pieces for Pride. Fun stuff. I’m glad I have bright colors for painting a ton of rainbows. 🙂
  • I did a portrait of Molly Roberts and she loved and shared it. I can die happy now.

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Comic Updates:

  • I honestly haven’t worked much on actually drawing comics lately, due to the Tarot deck and watercolor practice taking up so much of my work time. But I’ve definitely been writing, and I have the script for My Life On The Sidelines #1 done, as well as a general plan for another series called Beauty For Ashes. It’s a bit of a triggery topic, and a bit of an anti-hero story. It’s going to be pretty interesting.
  • I sent off a few copies of my comics to a zine distro. I’m super nervous about having done so, but I’m also super excited. 🙂 Worst they can do is not write back, right? Or write back that it’s terrible? I mean, even that might be useful, if they give good critique. We’ll see.

Well, that’s about the extent of my updates, reports, and such. I’ve not been doing much other than working, painting, and trying to manage my health in the meantime. Things have gotten rather distressing and dramatic with my disability pay AND insurance being taken away – yes, they’re trying to pull that out from under me – but I’m doing my best to just keep coping. If you’d like to help with that process, please do head over to my shop and just…buy anything you like, hah. It all helps. 🙂

As always, I want to thank everyone who has been watching, reading, liking, sharing, commenting, and most of all just offering support to me and my work. Today someone posted on my Youtube “This is such an underrated channel.” I didn’t realize I was rated badly, lol, but it made my day to hear that people think it’s Actual Quality Content. *big smile* You guys are THE best.

~Julian

Weekly Update 4-30-18 | Time Off, Game On!

Hey guys, it’s Julian. And I have been away.

Well, not really away. I’ve been right here, mostly making and packing and listing stuff for my Etsy shop. I hit 25 sales and I think Etsy’s algorithms must have (for some dumb reason) rewarded that, because all of a sudden I’m hecka busy and getting 3 orders a WEEK instead of 3 orders a month!

Like I said. Hecka busy.

I’ve been actually taking time off of my Tarot deck, and “artsy art” in general. I say artsy art because I NEVER want to say that things like design and bookbinding are not art. Making traveler’s notebooks and inserts is no less art than painting, so if you’re more a craftsperson than a painter, don’t ever say to yourself that you’re not an artist! But yeah, I’ve been working on bookbinding more than sketching or inking.

But it’s time to get back to it. My deadline for the inking of my Tarot deck is (hopefully) in mid-June, and I just found out I’m going on a super remote camping trip in May, so I really don’t have time to be taking a break.

I don’t really regret the break. I didn’t draw for about a week, and that’s okay. I was in the middle of losing a job and re-negotiating a lease, so I was emotionally exhausted and just couldn’t face the blank page on top of all that. All’s well now, though, and I really feel that it’s time for me to get my head back in the game.

Deciding when to take a break is not something I put a huge amount of thought into. If I’m too exhausted/overwhelmed/emotionally fried to deal with art, then my art is going to suffer anyway and I’ll have to take a longer break later, so unless I’m really close to a deadline, I don’t tend to think much of taking a break. I don’t take long breaks – rarely longer than a few days or a week – and I don’t plan my break. I don’t plan the end of it, at least. I just tell myself “I’m on break right now and I don’t need to think about work until I’m back to work.” Then, once I’ve been on break long enough to be able to think straight, THEN I think about getting back to work and when I should do that.

So that’s what I did this week. Monday I just said to myself “I feel dead, I’m working on losing a job and getting a new job, plus I have to deal with the leasing office, I’m exhausted. I’m going to take a break.” And it is Monday again and I didn’t really think about deadlines or workload or what percent I’ve finished, until yesterday. At which point…yes, I did freak out a bit and hurry back to work and inked 3 pieces.  And that’s freakin’ great! As long as I can finish my work, as long as the project gets done, I’m happy.

My point being: As much as possible, take breaks when you need to, and as much as possible, don’t stress while on break. But don’t let yourself STAY on break too long. I’m in a bit of a luxurious situation in that right now, at least, I CAN take a break from my art job for 5 days in a row. Not everyone can do that. I can’t break from my day job, but I can at least take away the stress of assigning myself 7-10 art pieces a week too.

Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can. And that goes for caring for yourself, too. 🙂

Anyway, thank you to everyone who’s been reading along, watching YouTube videos, buying from my shop…it’s awesome to have this much support. 🙂 I’m really excited about upcoming videos (and yes, there are upcoming videos!), and am going to continue to do 2 a week whenever possible. I really do appreciate everyone’s support, though. You guys are the bestest. 🙂

~Julian

Drawing from Life: Benefits, Tools, and How to Get Started

Drawing from life is an incredibly rewarding, surprisingly fun practice for any artist, and I hope that others will learn from my experience and do as I say, not as I have done, and NOT wait 18 years into their drawing study to start doing daily drawing-from-life.

Drawing from life is also known as observational drawing, and refers to drawing something that you are looking at, rather than drawing something you’re imagining or “from your head.” Drawing something that’s physically there in front of you is ideal, but even drawing from photo references is excellent practice. There are many reasons why life drawing is such an essential skill and practice to cultivate; here’s a few that have been most obvious to me:

  • You’ll need it later: The ability to draw from reference is essential for any artist. Every artist, even fantasy artists and surrealists, will need at some point to draw something that exists in the real world – and some of those things will NOT be objects that are familiar enough to draw from memory. Could I draw a rhinoceros right now, off the top of my head? No. Probably not. But if I don’t cultivate the art of drawing from reference, I won’t be able to USE that reference effectively.
  • Build your own reference library: Say you eventually need to draw a shoe. Or a pincushion. Or someone’s ponytail in a hairband, in detail. If you can say “Oh, I’ve drawn that before,” it’ll be much easier to do it. But if you’ve never drawn any of those random things before, you’ll be making it up as you go along – which is fine, but it’ll take longer and you’ll be sort of reinventing the wheel in some places. 
  • It teaches you to look: I’ve always believed that art is less about making marks on paper and actually more about learning to look and see what the world really looks like. Making marks on paper is the easy part, believe it or not. Mentally translating what we visually process into an idea of how something actually looks, and then sending that to your fine muscles to draw on paper – that’s the hard part! So drawing from life challenges you to really look, and see what the world actually looks like. It forces you to draw things as they appear and not how you think they appear. It’s actually an intense right-brain exercise that most people never cultivate, including many artists.
  • It increases your visual/artistic vocabulary: I have found that my favorite thing to draw plein air is people on the train. I definitely suffer from “Same Face Syndrome” with my own art, but when I draw people at random, I end up challenged to draw clothing styles, body types, and features that I might never have chosen voluntarily for my own characters. Plus people on the train are usually so wrapped up in their phones that they don’t notice me (thank you 21st century!), so it hasn’t caused any trouble so far.
  • It’s actually pretty fun: I always thought “I don’t want to do drawing from life, that’s where they make you draw a shoe.” But really, once you start looking, there are fascinating people, structures, objects, plants, vehicles, and other things all around us. Visually fascinating, if not interesting otherwise, these unique visions will jump out at you if you just get yourself to start looking with drawing in mind. And it will be fun, I promise you.

What tools do you need? Really, whatever YOU are comfortable drawing with/on. I do recommend self-contained tools like pencils, pens, or markers, rather than paints or inks, because you’ll often be out and about doing this and it can get difficult to manage a whole watercoloring setup when you’re at a bus station trying to draw an interesting architectural structure.  If you’d like to see what I personally bring with me, check out this video tour of my pencil case:

So how to get started with this fun, useful, valuable practice? I want to do a whole YT video on that, but here’s some tips to get you started…

  • Devote a sketchbook to it: If you can afford to, get a small sketchbook (or a cheap one) and use it as your life-drawing sketchbook. I have one that I made myself, a 5×7” hardbound sketchbook with Coptic stitching and 200 pages. If possible, bring that sketchbook with you – EVERYWHERE. You never know when or where you’ll see something that you want to capture in pencil (or charcoal, or whatever you use).
  • Have a daily quota: Say to yourself that you have to fill half a page, or a page, or five pages, or do three individual drawings – but just pick a number and stick to it. I recommend choosing either two to five individual sketches, or one to two pages, to start off with. Challenge yourself to fill that quota either every time you go out plein air sketching, or three times a week, or flat-out every single day – whatever works and will keep you drawing on a regular basis. I actually am just trying to do 200 pages/drawings in the next 8 months, 5×7”, in pencil. But I am sticking to that goal.
  • Have accountability: Post on an Instagram account, or in a Facebook album, whenever you make one of those drawings. My accountability is my Instagram, julian_jaymes, where I
  • Play scavenger hunt: Imagine that there is one really interesting person/object/structure out there for you today. (Believe me, there is at least one that you’ll run into each day.) Go walking around your town, or the next town over, or the woods – whatever you like – and try to find that one thing. If you find something better on the way back, double points!

So get out there and draw what you see! You don’t really have to go anywhere special; just drawing items in your house will definitely still help. But it’s so fun to have adventures out in the world doing art and getting outside your studio on occasion.

I do plan to do videos on plein air/urban sketching/observational drawing in the future, on my YouTube channel, and will definitely post links here when I make those videos. 🙂

~Julian