October 2017 has come and gone, and despite my valiant efforts I'm sorry to say I didn't make it through the whole month. My plan was to follow the official Inktober prompt list and pair each with a bird. I made it to Day 19 before puttering out. On the plus side, this challenge did get me to break out the inks and brushes again, something I haven't done in months!
Its shaping up to be a busy month around here. I was lucky enough to snag a last minute table at the Betty Zine Fest in Newark, NJ this weekend, and will also be attending New York Comic Con, though only as a fan. Next year I hope to table there.
My next comic project is part cooking manga, part historical fiction. Set in Ancient Rome, 7 year old Cassia aspires to be the best cook in the Empire. She encounters resistance in all the usual places, but also gets support from some unusual friends. Right now I'm writing the first chapter and find that I have a lot to learn about Ancient Rome. Even small details need to be researched to make it as historically accurate as possible.
Here's a sketch of our hero and her flamingo contraband.
I’ve been meaning to tell you about my time at VanCAF, the Vancouver Comic Arts Festival. This took place back in May 2017. For months prior, I was gathering my stuff and worrying about the customs procedure in flying from the US to Canada.
At Vancouver, I met up with my brother who lives in Seattle. The day of the con we hauled my stuff a few short blocks to the Roundhouse Community Center. The venue was spacious and beautifully designed. I got my table in the gym set up in no time.
Through the weekend, there was a steady stream of people passing through. It was obvious people were really excited to be there, and everyone was a fan of small press and independent comics. I had my stickers and comic One Lucky Bride for sale, as well as the LGBT anthology Lilies Vol. 2, where I have a little story included. Sales were all in Canadian dollars, but I forgot to get loonies! Thankfully my brother was able to run to a bank and break a $20 CAN for me.
One of the only things I purchased was a nice print by @JoanChao (inkblotblunder.com) about working hard, as you can see in the 3rd image below.
After the con, we took a ferry to Granville Island. Beautiful peaceful place! Unfortunately the only photos I took were of seagulls and crows dumpster diving. They kept ripping open the garbage bags to get the fries inside. Such clever birds!
Vancouver really impressed me with its natural beauty. I caught glimpses of its mountain, and was surrounded by more green than I’ve seen in a while. There are recycling stations but everywhere, and the city itself (least the area I was in) positively shimmered with cleanliness. When I got home to Jersey, the difference really hit me.
I would definitely be interested in doing VanCAF again, but might like to alternate it with other Canada shows like TCAF.
Last Sunday I had some of my work shown in a cafe in the East Village. I brought a 5x7" watercolor of Beyonce from her music video Hold Up. Looking around, I was inspired by the variety and quality of the work on display. I'm especially eager to try some larger format traditional work. I noticed how the larger pieces were much easier to appreciate from a distance. Kind of obvious, I know, but easy to forget when you work primarily in a digital medium and every piece is on a screen 18 inches from your face.
The gallery photos here are actually a mix from two showings. The other was in Gramercy Park about a month ago and I showed page one of One Lucky Bride which I had inked traditionally. Both shows were organized by the talented artist, woodburner, and custom furniture designer Rey. Both times, I got to meet interesting people and talk shop. It didn't hurt that the cafe, Vspot, specialized in delicious vegan/ latin american food, including fried plantains! I haven't had platano since I was a kid.
I'm in Chicago this weekend for C2E2 2017- my first time there! I'm sharing a table with my friend Jenn and today we are gearing up for day 2. So far it's been very busy and very fun.
I've been selling the last of my Doctor pillows, though there are a few left in my shop:
Thanks to everyone who stopped at our table!
Sometimes its rough being an artist on the Internet. Your very finest work might get overlooked or ignored, and you wonder why. Last fall I was musing on this and needing to warm up for other drawing, so I created this series of scribbly one-offs. I timed myself to complete them in under 45 minutes and restricted myself to one color. This forced me to keep things simple. I crank out these whenever an idea comes to me, and they're fun. One day I might collect them into a zine, perhaps.
Since 2014 I've used the same small pan of travel watercolors. I adore how compact it is along with my waterbrush, which means I can take it anywhere. But 12 colors is a bit limiting sometimes. Recently I bought a 36 set from Blick and am learning to use it. I thought the paints were good quality, but now I'm not so sure. I have to really work the paint with my brush in order to get any color out of the pan. But I don't know what quality paints are supposed to feel like. So I make do with what I've got.
The newest series I'm working on is pop stars, namely Beyonce. I love her music videos and her varied outfits. It's amazing how different the same person can look depending on their hair and makeup.
Here I've done Bey from her songs, Hold Up, Formation, and Run the World. I love listening to her music while I work, so this was extra fun to do. Each piece is 5x7 on watercolor paper.
Just a quick update if you're not following my social media: as of earlier this week, the Fresh Romance Vol 2 Kickstarter has been fully funded! Now we come to our first stretch goal- if we project raises $28,000, a spot gloss will be added to the book cover. Shiny! Beautiful!
My comic, One Lucky Bride, will be featured in this book. I'm still plugging along, finishing up about a page a week. We are getting to the climax where the mob of brides shows up in the church in order to claim Sara's $700 million inheritance. I invited readers to submit their selfies to be included in the comic, and a handful of people responded. So there are cameos of real people sprinkled throughout the story. This is good practice for me, since I always need to improve drawing likenesses, and helps keep the crowd scenes looking diverse.
Today is also WinC Con, so if you're in the NYC area, please remember to stop by!
Tomorrow is WinC Con, or Women in Comics Con. It will be my first time selling in New York City. Exciting! I spent last night dragging out my merch and display pieces and deciding how I want to arrange things.
The advantage of attending a con so close to home is that you save on hotel and transportation. The downside is you are relying on public transportation and hauling everything by hand. I decided I didn't want to carry more than a suitcase and a backpack onto the subway, and needed to take weight into account. What good is a loaded up suitcase if you can't even lift it?
So I was sitting on the floor with the items arranged around me. It doesn't seem like much, yet somehow it all adds up. I love these wooden display racks. At SPX last year, I saw a lot of artists had them. They're handy because the pieces assemble like a jigsaw puzzle, and when taken apart lay flat. I'm glad I put these together for a test run, because even though assembly is easy, it did take me a few minutes to remember how to do it!
When deciding on a table layout, I find it helps making a rough sketch that you can take with for reference.
By far the bulkiest item is my Doctor Who pillows. They're lightweight, but the extra bulk means I can't take too many with me in the suitcase. Plus their display uses those heavy wire squares. I love these pillows but I'm looking forward to when I can focus only on selling paper goods like books and art prints. The rest of the year, the pillows are available on my Etsy shop.
Speaking of printed books, for the first time my art is in a comic anthology! Lilies is a collection of short, sweet, yuri love stories (that's LGBT, specifically lesbian, stories). I have a little 4-pager in there. I created this comic back in August 2016 and the collection was printed in February. WinC Con will be the first time I'm selling it. It's debut! I did a review of the book, namely its physical properties and my take on Lulu's print job, on my Tumblr.
WinC Con is tomorrow, March 25, 2017 in the Bronx Library Center in NYC. If you're in the area, stop by!
In honor of Women's Day, the second volume of this comic anthology (by all female creators), is now live on Kickstarter! The KS campaign is to fund a print run of this book and it needs the help of backers to make it happen.
One Lucky Bride is about a young woman running a failing business. One day Sara discovers she's about to inherit $700 million dollars- with a catch! She must get married by 7pm that day. Word goes out on social media that she is looking for a bride, and the whole town shows up to the church! But Sara only wants to marry her best friend and secret crush, Daysha. Can she get over her shyness and find Daysha before the clock strikes 7? This story is a retelling and an homage to the 1925 silent film Seven Chances, starring the incomparable Buster Keaton.
I was surprised and pleased when Emet Comics invited me to join this project. My comic will be one of four romance stories featured. So far, I have half of the story drawn and posted on the One Lucky Bride website. I will continue to post new pages until the story finishes in June/July. Then I'll take down all but the first 16 pages to encourage readers to get the printed book.
Please take a look at the Kickstarter project page. You can pledge a certain amount of money, and when the project is fully funded at the end of the month, Kickstarter will charge your credit card. If the project does not get fully funded, you will not be charged. Funding is an all or nothing arrangement on Kickstarter!
Around Valentine’s Day last month I got invited to participate in a group art showing at Lovecraft NYC in the East Village. It’s a bar with a dark, lovecraftian décor and the theme of the event was “fashion, horror, and creepy”. I created this piece specifically for the event.
Horror is a challenge for me because I don’t do a lot of work in that genre. After doodling in my sketchbook I hit upon an idea that I think fit with the event’s key words. My concept was a mother and child on a walk through a snowy forest. From behind, they might look human, but once they turn their heads they are revealed to be… deer skeletons! The mother puts out a hand as if to usher the child away from the viewer. The green balloon I feel adds a pop of color while also highlighting the child’s innocence.
I used a digital collage approach because I’ve been inspired by certain artists online recently and wanted to capture that lineless look. After creating all the main shapes, I added in textures that I had created with traditional media and scanned in. The end result came out a bit pinker than I had envisioned, so I tried to tone it down with a sepia filter. Still, I think the spirit of Valentine’s Day was upon me as I made this piece. :)
While hanging my piece at the Lovecraft, I got to meet the other artists showing their work. I found a diversity of pieces, from realistic pen and ink to abstract acrylic work. My photos don’t show it, but as the night got started, the event was packed! I had a lot of fun and am looking forward to doing it again.
This week I'm submitting a pitch for the Tim'Rous Beastie Comic Anthology. This will be a collection of black-and-white short stories featuring animals living in the world of humans (a la Beatrix Potter, Rats of NIMH, Redwall, etc.)
I was inspired by an article I read about two men, one blind and one without arms, who work together to plant trees. One selects the saplings and plans the holes and the other does the digging and planting. In the article, they stated that when they are together, neither one feels disabled. The example of close friendship touched me... though I wish I could get my hands on that article again!
In my story, it's two pigeons living in Chicago. One is blind but otherwise able to fly. The other is malnourished and crippled, but with sharp eyes. They team up to find a patch of earth, a rarity in the city, to plant a secret stash of grass seeds.
Over the holidays I visited my family in Chicago, and got to ride the "L" downtown. I took plenty of pictures of the stations, and as always was delighted to see the pigeons that roost in the rafters. These guys are so accustomed to city life, they don't even flinch when the trains go rumbling past. Winters are harsh there, and many birds succumb to frostbite. The ones that survive often lose their toes or entire feet. I feel pity when I see those birds hobbling about. They deserve love and cheetos just like the others, maybe even more.
Who doesn’t love a cactus person! I had a lot of fun trying out different options for this creature, the only criteria being that they are very tall and resemble cacti. I used for inspiration some Google images of cactuses and my own recollections of the saguaro cactuses I saw in Arizona when I was 6 years old. Driving to the Grand Canyon with my family, I was delighted at how the branches resembled arms and appeared in an infinite number of poses.
Beyond the typical upright cactus, there are other shapes to consider, like the short and squat cactus, or the prickly pear cactus. (I think I’m naming it right). Here are the rough versions and the more refined inked version the client picked.
The cactus’s expression needed to be just right, too. The client’s description was that it should have human-like eyes. The question was, how human? And should they be funny or go more serious? Only way to find out is to try multiple options.
Final running cactus, complete with sweet foreshortening (if I do say so myself)
The most tiresome part was getting all those spines to stick out at convincing angles. The perspective needn’t be perfect, but it at least ought to make clear what kind of a shape the spines are going for.
I tried my hand at costume design for this one. The client’s roleplay world is partially based on 19th century Italy, and wanted a human character to embody that. He didn’t have a clear idea for the look, so gave me free reign to play around with styles. The human had to be aristocratic, vaguely recalling one of the playable characters of Final Fantasy 6, and there were certain accessories the client did not want to see included.
This assignment needed a bit more research than I’d done before. I went to Pinterest for initial inspiration and created a board just to collect all the costume samples. Searches like "italian aristocrat", "19th century gentleman", and "1800's clothes" brought up results from textile museums, TV screenshots, and oil portraits.
I came back with some very rough concepts for the client, and we discussed his preference and the next modifications. This time I included photos handwritten notes directly on the images instead of explaining the options in my email to the client. I ought to do things more consistently, but hey, it gets the job done. The poses, I'll admit, drew heavily from that one FF6 character. I couldn't resist; he is my favorite. :)
I sort of did the inking and color steps together, delivering the inked version at the same time as the color options. It its easy to quickly change the colors because I keep each piece of clothing on a separate layer in Photoshop. This keeps my options more flexible and saves time down the road if last minute changes are needed. It makes for a bigger file, but so worth it. The client had a color scheme in mind already, but I like to include a few more options just for the sake of variety. With each color on a separate layer, palette swaps are a piece of cake.
We settled on a color choice, and after a few final adjustments and corrections, we had ourselves one handsome human.
More creature character design! I knew about kappas from Japanese mythology, and was really pleased to design one that conformed to those traditional descriptions but was something unique and new.
This time the client sent me a link to Wikipedia’s page on kappas and a few pictures of other artist’s interpretations to better explain the look and feel he wanted. I came back with some ideas:
This assignment went pretty straightforward. I heard back about which version he liked, and I tightened the inks and colors with few modifications:
A menacing fellow, isn’t he?
I can draw stuff for you, too! E-mail me at juliahut6(at)gmail.com.
As always, thanks for looking!
Just added new prints, stickers, and Holiday Cards to my Etsy shop. Also did a photoshoot of my Doctor Who pillows and replaced the images already on Etsy's listings:
In preparation for New Jersey Comic Expo this past weekend, I had a lot of new product printed. This was my first time tabling in years, so I had a lot of catching up to do. The con was at a large expo hall, and included all your standard trappings like guests, signings, panels, and exhibitors. There was plenty to do but sadly not too many attendees. My table mate Rel said it best when she pointed out the large number of Exhibitors browsing the tables-- a sure sign of a slow con. The people who did attend seemed to have fun, though.
Photos taken from the NJCE Facebook Page. That's me in the yellow. Overall, I'm glad I went because it pushed me to start producing merch and made me purchase the banners and display stands I will need for future cons. But I wouldn't go back to this one. Its focus seemed more on the Big 2, and I'm really more indie and small press.
Another commission was doing the “cave cat”. Like the mimic, I started with a few rough sketches based on a written description I got:
Like before, the client picked a version he liked, with a few ideas and suggestions for tweaking the inks and colors. I like to label the versions so its easier to refer to them while in conversation. Its real easy because the client can say something like “I want to see the pose of C1 with the body type of A1 and the colors of B2″. And I know exactly what he means.
I came back with some final inks, and this time instead of slapping the colors on, I indicated the palette with little swatches next to the inks. I don’t know why I did it this way, but it works.
This time I had two finals, seen below:
Nice, huh? If you got an idea you want to see on paper, shoot me an email and we’ll work something out! I’m at juliahut6(at)gmail.com
Male cassowaries are single fathers. Once the chicks become teenagers and can take care of themselves, the father will abandon them. The kid will cry out for Dad for days, then learn to walk alone and NEVER PEEP AGAIN.
It’s just the cass way. This is how it’s always been.
Meet Cassowary and his chick.
Today I wanted to share a little about character design. The assignment was to design a Yeti.
Now, at first I was a little worried. A Yeti is basically like Bigfoot with white hair, right? How much variation can there be? Well, lots. I started by doing a Google image search for “Bigfoot” for initial inspiration. It led me to searching for photos of gorillas and in no time I was back in anthropology class. A few first passes I showed the client:
The version A was really inspired by the initial Bigfoot and gorilla ideas I had, and I bet it shows, haha! I also tried giving different poses and playing with shapes a little. My favorite of these was C because I was actually thinking about silkie and brahma chickens when I designed him! Those are the birds with feathers on their feet and very fluffy bodies.
So I got a response from the client along with a few suggestions. He wanted to see some variations for B’s face. So I did a semi-final inks version showing the two along with some color choices thrown down:
Again, I’m labeling the versions so they’re easier to talk about. As a side note, see how light the body color is against the white background? When coloring in the solid mass of the body, I found it easier to work with a brighter color:
That way, I could make sure I was filling in all the tiny spaces of the tips of the hair. But at one point I had to step back and laugh at how it looked!
A few more corrections and tweaks and Yeti was ready to walk the snowy wastelands:
I’m particularly proud of the way I added highlight “V”s to the shadowy parts of is leg. That’s some outside the box thinking for me right there.
Commissions are open if you are interested: juliahut6(at)gmail.com
Thanks for reading!
Rough concept for a new sticker I’m designing. I’ll often see a bird and point it out to people, saying “such a good bird!” Which is really any bird who goes around doing whatever bird-like things they’re supposed to do. So to me, they’re all good, and each deserving of love and a healthy environment and conservation management.
Each bird here has been maligned or been given a bad reputation in some way.
Canada goose: complaints of overpopulation lead cities to destroy their eggs and nests
Starling: large crops eat farmer’s crops
Crow/raven: symbolic of bad luck and destruction in literature and folklore
Prairie chicken: accused of not being worthy of conservation because their name has “chicken” in it
Pigeon: reputation for being dirty; called “rats with wings”
Cuckoo chick: pushes other eggs out of the nest
Kookaburra: steals your sausages
Cassowary: capable of killing you
Rooster: noise complaints in cities cause them to be banned in urban farming, considered useless in the egg/poultry industry
Hen/chickens: considered stupid, not worthy of humane livestock keeping practices, butt of stupid KFC jokes
As I write this list, I realize I’m leaving out a lot- double breasted cormorants, turkeys. What else, guys? I will probably have to make two stickers.
The idea here is not to say that birds never cause problems for humans, but to approach those problems with a respect for the birds as living beings instead of diseases to be eradicated.
Maybe once the stickers are made, I can send them to conservation groups as a little present, like a “keep fighting the good fight” sort of thing!