Weekly Blog 10/23/19: Semi-End of a Semi-Hiatus, “Speed Inktober,” and NaNoWriMo Prep

Hi all! Taylor here with a few updates and some thoughts on participating in monthly challenges (like Inktober and National Novel Writing Month).

First of all, my YouTube hiatus seems to be coming to a close. I’m settled enough in my new job that I feel like I can go back to doing maybe one or two videos a week. It started with “well, maybe I can do Inktober and film it,” and then extended to “maybe I can do some other videos too,” and it’s just grown from there. I plan to officially end my semi-hiatus in November, and come back to one or two videos a week.

So, yay.

As for Inktober itself: I feel a little bad in that I’m doing sort of a “speed run” of this challenge. A speed run, for those not in the know, is when a player plays through a video game with no goal other than to finish the game and beat the final boss in as little tim as possible. For me, I’m not TRYING to do an “Inktober speed run,” but that’s how it’s ending up: My first three”weeks” of Inktober inking have actually done in three single afternoons. The past three Tuesday nights have been spent inking madly, and so I’m not really doing 31 drawings in 31 days; I’m doing 31 drawings in, like, 5 afternoons.

Which seems, to me, to defeat some of the purpose of Inktober. I think that, at their heart, a lot of these “monthly challenges” really challenge us to develop a regular, if not daily, artistic practice. But unfortunately, for me, the only way I’ve been able to do this Inktober has been to only technically create 31 drawings in 31 days.

Still, I’m enjoying it, I’m creating a lot of new art, and I’ll have content for an Inktober 2019 zine. Looking forward to publishing that for you all.

Finally, I am doing a lot of prep work for my next monthly challenge – National Novel Writing Month, better known as NaNoWriMo. NaNo has been around since 1999, so this its 20th year. It will also be (hopefully) my first year successfully participating. I have attempted NaNo in several past years, but have never accomplished the goal of writing a 50,000 word novel in the month of November. This year it will be my main November project – no other personal projects are scheduled for that month – so I’m hopeful.

I’m quite excited to be getting back to YouTube, and I look forward to bringing you more content there. And as always, thank you so much to everyone liking, commenting, subscribing, following, and generally engaging with my work – and a special thanks to everyone shopping at my Etsy shop. I’ve stocked it with a few new items, so check it out.

And with that being said…I hope that you are having a truly excellent day, and I’ll talk to you again very, very soon.

Bye!

-Taylor

Semi-Weekly Blog 10/16/19: Doll Customizing, Etsy Shipping, and Inktobering!

Hello all!

It may be a few days late, but I am DETERMINED to get this blog out.

So, I’ve been…pretty darn busy. Even aside from a full time job, I’ve been trying to do Inktober 2019, customize and sew for dolls (you can see some of that work over at http://taylorjohnsondolls.com), and run my Etsy shop.

It’s a lot. Inktober involves a good amount of time each day, not just sketching and inking but also filming and editing videos of my work. I’m posting weekly updates on my Inktober progress, and while they’ve been going up on Wednesdays rather than the more calendar-appropriate Mondays or Tuesdays, at least they’re going up. I’m excited to be able to have records of my Inktober progress, in video form. Here’s week 1’s video:

Inktober is totally worth it, though, as usual.

Sewing and doll customizing is my main hobby right now, in terms of “activity that does not, and does not need to, result in income or some other goal”…it’s my one thing that is legitimately just for fun. I enjoy it so much. Sewing has been part of my life for ages, and…well, here’s the video of me telling my whole sewing story on my doll YouTube:

And as for my Etsy shop – well, I can’t give many details because I want my customers to be able to remain anonymous if they choose – but I’ve gotten to ship a lot of things lately, and I am truly, deeply appreciative of everyone who has been ordering things, especially my original Tarot deck, the Millennial Mystic Tarot.

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Which, incidentally, you can order here, if you’re interested.

I think that’s all I have for now, and this is definitely all the time I had to write this blog. I’m sorry it’s late, but I’m glad to at least get a blog posted this week.

Thank you all for your support, and with that being said, I hope that you are having a truly excellent day, and I’ll talk to you again very very soon.

Bye!

-Taylor

Weekly Blog 10/7/19: Where Have I Been?

Hi all,

It’s been a little while, but I’ve got a (rare) few minutes to sit down and write a blog. Carving out time for this blog has been a little bit beyond me lately, and I even considered deleting the blog portion of this site and converting it to just being a portfolio and glorified contact form…but honestly, I didn’t want to give up blogging – even if I feel like I don’t have time for it lately. I really enjoy the blogging process. So yeah. Not going anywhere.

I’ve also been largely on hiatus from my YouTube, and I just posted a video explaining that I’m kind of returning to it: I’m going to start posting videos again, but kind of on a “whenever” basis rather than having a strict upload schedule. And there will be less videos than in the early part of this year (I used to do 3 a week), but more than the two a month I’ve done the past couple of months.

So why am I struggling to find time? Well…two things. One, I’m working full time now, and I’ve learned that it’s called full time for a reason. (Spoiler: It’s because it fills up all your time.) I absolutely adore my job and my company, and it has changed my life in the best way. But it doesn’t come without a cost, and that cost is a lot of my previously-free time.

Two, I’m running an entirely new side project: Taylor Johnson Dolls, which has a website, a YouTube channel, and an Instagram, all focused on my work in doll customization and sewing.

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One of my fashion dolls, an Ever After High Ashlynn Ella, in a flannel shirt by me.

I actually have been into dolls for years and years, and recently tumbled back into active presence in the hobby. I’m thrilled to be back to it, and while it does take up a lot of time, I felt that I really do need a hobby! A genuine hobby, to me, is an avocation that is enjoyed without a clear plan or goals or things to accomplish in terms of growth or publicity or acclaim; it’s just for the sheer joy of it. Doll customizing and doll-clothes sewing are two things that I love as hobbies, and are also two things that, for me, do not have an end goal or any grand scheme attached to them. It’s literally just a thing I do for fun.

So, if you’re interested, or just curious, head over to taylorjohnsondolls.com for more. I also have free patterns over there for those who are similarly inclined.

As for art…while I haven’t had much time lately for art beyond what I do at work, I still haven’t been able to resist the siren song of Inktober. I really enjoyed my other participation, back in 2017, and while it’s probably not wise to do so, I’m doing a series of simple ink pieces on 9×12″ paper for this year too. I may watercolor some or all of them after this month is over, but I am certainly not taking on the project of doing a PAINTING every day when I can barely manage an ink piece!

I had said that I was going to post a few YouTube videos this month, documenting Inktober, and I have filmed all of my ink work so far, but I don’t know whether that’s an appropriate use of my spare moments. I don’t know if I can – temporally or mentally – afford to do that as well.

If it comes down to it, I’ll drop some things. Sanity and safety come first, followed closely by my day job. But for now, I’m hoping I can manage all of this, if only I choose my battles and am mindful of my time management.

That said, I really need to get back to work. Thank you for reading and for being here on this artistic journey with me.

Wishing you the best, as always!
-Taylor

Weekly Blog 6/3/19: Prep Week, Launch Day, and Other Schedule Struggles

Hey guys! It’s Taylor, and today is Monday so it’s time for the weekly blog and video digest. I write a blog every week here on my homepage about what I’m doing, what challenges I’m facing, and what you can expect to see in terms of content from me in the next few weeks.

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This is prep week. Launch day for my  Millennial Mystic Tarot is 6 days away, and I am doing my best to be as ready as I can be. It’s a little terrifying. A lot of people have posted early reviews and/or helped to hype it up, and I am SO grateful for that! It has been amazing to see the community come together to share and support this deck, and I am forever in your debt. All of you.

I’m also currently working on creating the illustrations for my next deck, the Sacred Storyteller Oracle. I’ve got a few done and they’re posted here. I’m working on Arches and really enjoying the benefits of that paper.

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I’ve joined a journaling challenge, the #hbnotebookchallenge by Sarra Cannon over at HeartBreathings. Sarra is an incredible indie author and also a stationery fan and has started this awesome challenge to help people use up their unused notebooks, or boost their journaling practice. My participation is going to be using up a 64-page standard Traveler’s Notebook insert every month for the rest of the year. I’m enjoying it so far and I love having a reason (ok, excuse) to journal way more than I had been.

Finally, here’s an overview of this week’s videos over on my YouTube:

Painting an ATC | “Doll in Shadow” + Anxiety Chat

This is a video I’ve wanted to make for a while. It’s just a little chat about my experience with anxiety disorders and how they’ve affected my life – plus how I’ve managed to deal with them.

Setting Up a 52 Pan Palette | 1hr Palette Setup Tutorial

This is an epic palette setup video where I set up a full 52 color palette! I’ve never used pans before, but since making this video and this palette, I’ve used it a lot, & it is now my main palette for EVERYTHING. I love it!

June 2019 Card Reading | Look to the Light to Heal the Dark

Finally we have my monthly reading for June 2019, featuring the Millennial Mystic Tarot as the main Tarot deck for this reading!

That’s about all I’ve got for you this week. Until next time, I hope that you’re having a truly excellent day, and I’ll talk to you again very, very soon!

-Taylor

Weekly Blog 5/28/19: The Blog Is Late, The Blog Is Late!

[Header image: A painting from the Sacred Storyteller Oracle, the illustration for the Crone card.]

Hiya guys!

So, sorry the blog is late. I’ve been busy as hell. I took two days after Memorial Day off, but spent them all running around catching up on errands, cleaning my room, completing a commission, and finishing off the first draft of the Millennial Mystic Tarot guidebook… so I feel like I need a weekend after my weekend. As usual.

Speaking of the Millennial Mystic: It will launch at midnight EST, the morning of June 9, 2019. So, it’s just about 10 days away. I would recommend that, if you want to know as soon as it goes live, go ahead and favorite my shop on Etsy and make an account there. This is not a paid Etsy promotion – it just ensures that you can quickly check out, in case they do sell quickly. I will be limiting the first run to 200 pieces, and while that seems like a lot, I’ve seen indie decks sell out sometimes within hours. But I have no idea what the demand will be like, really. It’s hard to predict, when I’ve never published a deck before.

One thing I’d like everyone to know, though, is that the Tarot deck will ship about 6 to 10 weeks after you order it. This is because I will be ordering the shipment based on the number of decks sold in the first couple weeks, and will need time to order them, have them come in, and do QC (quality control – check them all for errors) and package them.

I’d also like to thank the various reviewers who have posted reviews about my deck this week. From Vix (NewAgeHipster) to SarahWritesEtc to others, I am so grateful to all of you for donating your time to review and post about this deck. It means the world to me to have people excited about this.

Now, on to the video digest:

May 20, 2019: How It’s Made : Laminate Travelers Notebooks by Taylor Johnson Art

This is sort of a “How It’s Made” style video of how I make my laminate-paper Traveler’s Notebooks (a new item recently added to my Etsy shop). I mostly just wanted to share the process and let you know how I make these! Please, if you want to make ones of your own, go ahead and try it yourself. (By the way, the laminator I use is a Scotch one from Target, and it was about $21 USD and does up to 9″ wide.)

May 22, 2019: Watercolor Supplies Beyond The Basics What You MIGHT Need!

I’ve wanted to make this one for a while! It’s basically a list of supplies that are REALLY helpful for watercolor painting, but are often overlooked because people focus on the paint, paper, and brushes. From mason jars to paper towels to heat guns, you’ll find all that info here.

May 24, 2019: Inking and How You Might Use It In Your Work!

I love inking. A lot of us love inking. But how does it really figure into one’s artistic process? In this video, I talk you through how inking works for me, and how it might work for you.

Anyway, that’s all I’ve got this week. Thanks for reading, thanks for watching, and thanks for being part of my journey.

All the best,
Taylor

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.

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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