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 5/5/19: 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

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.

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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 2/18/19: Beauty for Ashes: Receiving Negative Feedback, Processing Failure, and Starting A Period Of Study

Hey guys! It’s Taylor. I’m here with a bit of a difficult blog, on a bit of a difficult topic: some difficult feedback I’ve gotten, and the process I’ve gone through in integrating that information and figuring out “if I suck at the one thing I really want to do, where do I go from here?”

So, basically, a few days back I showed my latest creation, the comic Beauty for Ashes, issue 1, to a friend. He complimented the art and printing, but said finally: “I can’t follow the story. Like, at all.” It was a punch to the gut. I hadn’t realized that with all the corners I cut – reading lots of comics (but not drawing much), only practicing drawing females (to the detriment of learning to draw males), spending years practicing making comics but never really learning the theory behind it – I realized, after this difficult conversation, that my slacking and freeform study had not resulted in me being able to draw comics. It had resulted in being essentially a writer who can’t plot a novel, or a screenplay author who can’t format. I had the passion and the practice and NONE of the study.

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For a few days I languished in despair (intentionally using dramatic language there – I was being dramatic). My whole world felt jumbled. I had spent the past 15 years or so actively trying to become a comic artist, and, to my mind, had failed. Then a thought came to me – one of my favorite quotes:

“If you need a tree, the best time to plant one was 20 years ago. The second best time is today.”

Meaning that yes, we may waste time, and yes, it may be too late for some things in some senses – but that doesn’t mean you give up. You still plant that tree, and you water it and make the best of what you can.

So I got thinking: What did I do with other art forms that I have gotten good at (novel-writing, painting, etc)? “Practice,” “study,” and “start small” came to mind immediately. With novels, I studied the craft (taking classes and reading how-to books), I practiced (I’ve written 8 or 10 fiction books depending on whether you count picture books), and I started small (the picture books were my first foray into fiction). With watercolor, it’s been a similar path.

For some reason, I guess I’d thought that my years of striving with comics would result automatically in learning. Turns out practice makes progress, but it works a heck of a lot better if it’s combined with academic study (or at least learning from experts) and starting super-micro.

Thus I’ve been coming up with a sort of course of study for myself, going so far as to also learn about “how to teach yourself stuff in general,” involving books and courses on how to make comics. It includes some of Eisner’s instructional works on sequential art, Scott McCloud’s Understanding Comics and Making Comics, Hirohiko Araki’s Manga in Theory and Practice, and other resources.

The important thing is…I’m going to study. I’m going to do the homework. I’m sad that it’s taken me this long to be ready to do it, but it takes what it takes. For me it took four comics that didn’t make sense – and some incredibly helpful but very painful feedback – to figure out that I need to do the homework, have beta readers, and study – the same as everyone else.

In the next year or so, I don’t plan to release much in terms of comics, but I’ll definitely still be making art, the Tarot deck, and my blog and YouTube content. It will be a year of practice and study, and that’s okay. I’m excited to tackle this, and I’m excited to see where I end up in 2020.

If you’d like to support this whole operation, please head over to my Etsy shop. You can purchase art, prints, even stationery and Tarot accessories, all handmade by me. And if you’re enjoying my site, please hit the follow button on the right to get notified whenever I post a new blog (about once a week).

Wishing you all the best,

Taylor

Monthly Update September 2018 | Tarot Reading, Angelic Divination, Day Job Advancement, and Enjoying Writing Again

Hey everyone, it’s Julian! Have I got updates for you…not much tangible, not much I can post, but lots of news.

First off, since everyone’s going to ask, here’s the latest Tarot cards I’ve painted:

Aside from that project, which yes, is ongoing, I do have several things going on…

Tarot Reading: I’m going to be doing professional tarot reading! Yes, that’s right, I will be offering tarot readings (as pre-recorded video sessions) on my Etsy shop, starting next month (or possibly a little later this month). Watch this space, as there will be a half off coupon posted on this blog when I do start doing them.

I’ve wanted to be a Tarot reader since I knew what a Tarot reader was, and since then, I’ve branched off into oracle cards, angel cards, and even channeling. I’m a certified card reader and I feel that after 16 years of study, it’s time to share my gifts with the world. So yes, if you’re interested in a Tarot reading, follow this blog to get notified when I do post that announcement and coupon.

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Angelic Divination: This is a side project I’ve been working on lately, and while it has its own YouTube channel already, I’m not sure yet whether it will be part of this site or have its own. I feel really moved to give it its own platform, but this project doesn’t really have a budget yet, so I’m not sure a site for it is in the cards. I suspect that once I’ve established it as a brand on its own, then I can invest in a site.

But what is Angelic Divination? It’s an approach to Tarot, oracle, and angel cards that uses the energy of the Archangels, and while it started out as just my own approach to such, it’s grown into so much more. I intend to make at least a few courses on this divinatory approach, and I’ll be posting them over on that channel.

Day Job Advancement: I have been selected for an art fellowship, so I guess you could say I’m going pro as an artist. It’s a little weird in that it doesn’t feel weird or scary at all, just…right. Which probably means I’ve been ready for a while and just haven’t had an opportunity/the courage to go for it! I’m very grateful for the opportunity, though, and don’t worry, this won’t change anything here…I’ll still be my same old weird comic-drawing, blogging, cardslinging self. Wild horses couldn’t drag that out of me.

But it’s very exciting to be essentially doing a mix of a day job and a long-term commission. I’ll be working at home, designing elements for 3D virtual environments, painting, as a part time job. I’ll…actually probably make more from this job than I do from my current day job. Which is appropriate, but still feels wild.

Enjoying Writing Again: I honestly didn’t grow up as an artist – I spent the first 15 or so years of my life intending to be a writer. Art was a hobby; writing was my vocation. Over the years, I got more and more interested in art, and sort of burned myself out with writing by authoring several novels while struggling with bipolar disorder.

I associated writing with my illness for a long, long time. I had concluded that since I wrote a lot when I was ill, writing must be encouraging my hypomania – an error of confusing correlation with causation – and so I stopped almost altogether. There is a gap of a few years when aside from journaling, I just didn’t write much. I was kind of afraid to, and it felt exhausting to even think about the amount of work it took to write a novel.

But this month I had to write a pitch for that day job thing, and when I let friends and family read just the handout for the pitch, I got some really positive feedback. People were surprised by how well-written and clear and elegant it was. I’m doing well right now, no hypomania, so clearly the writing was good but was also not the product of illness. Who knew I could write while in my right mind, too?

So I’m thinking I’ll just get my toes wet at first, and write some more frequent blog posts for this site. I have 2 or 3 more blogs written that are just waiting to be queued/scheduled, and I’m excited to share them with you. I’m writing more about Starseed/Lightworker stuff, as well as Tarot and art.

Also, it’s been a year that this site has been up, and I could not be more proud and pleased with the interactions I’ve had and just the pride I feel from having maintained a website all year. Feels good to have accomplished something like that.

Year 2’s goal: Get to 200 followers!

All the best,

~Julian

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 July 2018 | World Watercolor Month, Video Creation, and Art Coming Naturally

Hey guys, it’s Julian and it has taken me AGES to get this update out, but here it is. 🙂

Things are looking better. Long story short, things are not nearly as dire as I’d thought, and while I am still likely going to lose my insurance and part of my income, the repercussions are not going to be (quite) as drastic as I’d thought. I’m still going to have my housing, my medication, and the treatments I need. I’m just going to have to work very hard to make ends meet.

But really, the future is looking brighter already. I’m working through the details of a really exciting collaboration – with my sewing, of all things! – and my Etsy shop is doing well. I’m really grateful to everyone who’s been shopping with me. It truly helps a lot. 🙂

I’m doing World Watercolor Month this month, which is…exhaustion. No, seriously, it’s an awesome project in which people paint 31 watercolor paintings in 31 days, and I’m doing it despite also having all this craziness going on…I’m really proud of myself, I’ve got 11 done so far and it’s the 10th. (I have to work ahead some days because I’m working so much at my day job that some days I can’t paint at all.) I hope to make it to 31 paintings by the end of the month. Here are the ones I’ve done so far…

That’s not why I’m exhausted though. I’m exhausted because I’ve been filming all of these AND editing them AND doing voiceovers AND posting them on my YouTube channel!

I must be delusional, to think I can keep this up for a month.

The worst part is that after this, I’ll be expected to do a video every day…or at least three times a week…because people think it’s that easy…I seriously don’t know how I’ve been able to put all of these together so far.

But really, it’s going to be okay. And after this I may be able to get more videos out, because I’m definitely learning a lot about videos and video editing in addition to learning about watercolor!

My art is flowing in a way it never has in my life. I just…churn out art. More, even, than what’s filmed and posted on my sites. It’s like I used to be a little inkjet printer that struggles to print a single page, and now I’m a high-capacity color laser multifunction that doesn’t bat an eye at 600-page documents.

Yeah. I’m feeling pretty good about my art lately. 🙂

Anyway, I had better finish this up. I’ll note that there is now a subpage on this site for my World Watercolor Month posts, and I’ve updated the Materials I Use page. I’m trying to keep active online, but that’s mostly happening on Instagram and YouTube. I’m hopeful that after WWM ends, I’ll be able to do more on this site – maybe posts some reviews or something – but for now, it’s acting as my portfolio and housing links to the places where I’m actually active. I apologize for the inactivity, but with any luck I’ll soon be back in business here. 🙂

If you have any questions or inquiries, you can contact me using the contact form. If you’d like to support this whole operation, please head over to the shop. Thanks for all your support, and have a great day!

~Julian