Perfect Pride Pigeons

Introducing the Pride Pigeons! Each bird has wing colors that represent an aspect of Gay PRide or queer culture. In order, they are: gay pride rainbow, trans colors, asexual colors, gay pride rainbow flag, genderqueer colors, nonbinary, and bisexual pride. My original idea for this set came from a photo I found online of a pigeon with rainbow light shining on him. When I saw it I thought, "ah! the pride pigeon". Then added to it: "the prettiest, perfect, pleasing, pride pigeon!" The image is lost, but its memory stays with me.

50% of profits from these stickers will go to the Stonewall National Monument in NYC (part of the National Park Foundation) in honor of the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Rebellion. The funds will go towards the Monument's maintenance and upkeep, as well as LGBTQ community outreach, public education, and more! 
For more info about the fundraiser, click here for the National Park Service website

To start designing the sheet, I did a few doodles on paper, scanned them in and refined the doodles then inked/colored in Clip Studio Paint, indicated a cut line on a separate layer, then sent 'em off to the printers.

They'll be ready for Otakon in Washington DC on August 10-12, 2018 and Flame Con in NYC the following weekend.. If there's any left over I may put a few up on my Etsy

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Charlie Chaplin designs

So last week I was called in for jury duty! I know it sounds exciting, but actually it was a little dull. Basically being called for jury duty means you come to the courthouse and make yourself available for the day; it is not a guarantee that they’ll actually need you and put you in a courtroom to hear a case.

I kind of had a lot of downtime and waiting around that day. I bought a notebook and kept myself occupied by planning the Charlie Chaplin sticker sheet. See the top image with the designs plotted on my 4x6 sheet. I juuust need to come up with an image for that circled red area. There’s not enough room for a person so it has to be a prop or other iconic symbol. His slapshoes? 

The rest of the sketches are straight from my notebook. Gives you a glimpse into my sometimes messy process.

80s Sticker Collab

A friend invited me to collaborate on a sticker sheet- how exciting! Our chosen theme is pretty cool, 80's pop culture. I got to reach back into my memory and pull out all that neon goodness. One of my inspirations for color palette was Lisa Frank. (I know most people associate her work with the 90s... but still, that's a killer palette she's got!)

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Sticker Shop and Buster Keaton (again)

Now that Animazement is over, I've been turning my attention back to the Etsy sticker shop. The biggest surprise has been the response to my Buster Keaton stickers.

I'll be honest, I made these for my own amusement. I didn't expect anyone else to know or care about a silent film star from the 1920's. One hundred year old fandoms tend to be resigned like that. But at Animazement, no less than 7 people recognized the Buster stickers, and every time we had the same "isn't he great?!" discussion. Which I never thought I'd have in real life with another person. So I was delighted whenever it happened.

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The encouragement I received from these lovely people have got me thinking of what other silent film stars need sticker homages. Maybe I'll go for the trio and do Charlie Chaplin and Harold Lloyd? I feel like there's something to that idea.

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Preparing for TCAF

The Toronto Comics Arts Festival is this weekend and its about time I get packing. My Canada Pigeons stickers arrived in the mail a few days ago and I think they came out pretty nice. Did a mini photoshoot outside today because it was very sunny. Here's a few shots.

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Now, the Toronto Pigeons stickers are only going to be sold this weekend at TCAF, and I only got a limited quantity and will not have them up on my Etsy shop. I did, however, get my Ice Cream Planets stickers in. And they are now available in the shop! Please see the listing for more photos and info. 

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New Pigeon Stickers! For Canada!

I'm getting excited for the Toronto Comic Arts Festival (TCAF) that will be held in mid-May. It's my first time tabling and I wanted to have something special to offer. My pigeon stickers are steady sellers, but I thought they could use a little facelift and some brighter colors. This led to making a special sticker sheet to have exclusively for sale at TCAF.

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I wanted to celebrate all things Canadian and made 3 all new designs- pigeon in maple syrup, mountie canada goose, and Toronto's CN tower.

It makes me a little sad to have the Canada Goose only for sale this one time, because I think he's really cute! And I'm really pleased with how the syrup coloring worked out.

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The plan is to offer these stickers as part of a discounted "Pigeon Pack" where it will include a Pigeon of Destiny comic book, a jumbo pigeon pizza sticker, a print, and this sheet. I did a Pigeon Pack for Flamecon 2017 and it went over very well. For just $5 more than a single Pigeon of Destiny, people really seemed to think it was a worthwhile deal. So that was nice to see.

Ice Cream Stickers

I'm always looking for new designs for my sticker shop, and thought it would be fun to combine desserts with Astronomy, two things I love. These Ice Cream Planets are the result! Let me take you through the design process and point out a few details. 

The whole thing starts with doodles in my sketchbook. I mark squares in my book to ensure the stickers are roughly the same size and proportions. I find this helps when fitting the designs into a grid pattern on the sticker sheet.

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My palette inspiration was a Sanrio character Cinnamon Roll which is a really soft pastel work. I played around with using colored lineart.

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Ultimately I went with darker, bolder colors because I was worried they wouldn't show up right when printed in pastel. Below is the final design that I will have for sale soon.

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I'm pretty happy with them so far! I tried to incorporate some of the most famous features of each planet, along with their moons. Google Images helped a lot, as well as sites like Go Astronomy. Plus, it was fun just thinking back to my own knowledge of the Solar System and remembering things like the Galilean Moons or Neptune's Great Dark Spot. Here I'll point out some of these details.

Most of the moons in the solar system are pretty spherical, but Mars’s moons Phobos and Deimos are kind of irregular. Maybe angry Mars beat them up? Also: ice caps!

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Yes, jovial Jupiter has like 70 moons, but these, the Galilean moons, are the biggest and easiest visible through a telescope. I tried getting their colors vaguely close to the photographs we have of them.

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Same idea for Saturn, it too has like 70 moons, most are tiny. Here are the biggest 6, with the most famous being Titan. Also, the Cassini probe has its own sticker! RIP little friend. (The rings are sprinkles but jelly beans works too I guess)

The Asteroid Belt was a last minute addition because I had extra space. Vesta is the irregular one. :P

I love Neptune’s color. One of its distinct features is a Great Dark Spot (kind of like Jupiter’s!) and a little highlight that accompanies it. I think he is the cutest one.

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Finally, poor Pluto, kicked out of the Planet Club. But we still love him! Of course he needed the heart mark, and the moon Charon.

These stickers will become available as soon as I get them back from the printers- by mid May at the latest. I will have them available for TCAF in Toronto!

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Espiritu Santo Picture Process

Recently I've been doing pieces for commissions and to be printed in anthologies, but its been a while since I've done a picture for me and my own enjoyment. So I drew my favorite local dove, Espiritu Santo, of whom you can read about on this post here.

I love Josh Cochran's work, especially the sense of chaos in his city scenes, and took inspiration from his wacky perspective, composition, and limited color scheme. My goal was to communicate a sense of the urban clutter of my neighborhood. Honestly, the worst offenders of visual noise are the wires.

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Big loops and clusters of them (I think they are telephone and internet cables and not dangerous live wires that can electrocute you). They criss cross over the streets and get tangled in the trees. BUT! The best part of wires is the birds that perch on them by the dozen.

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Keeping all these things in mind, I scribbled out various compositions and chose my favorite, one that used lines and angled shapes to draw the reader's eye straight to the big dove on the line.

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Then, with the composition open on my computer, I got out pencil and paper and redrew it traditionally, then finally dragged out the old lightbox and went over the lines in micron:

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The birds are missing here because I drew them on a second sheet and merged the two in Clip Studio Paint. To decide on color scheme, I went through quite a few options, settling finally on a red and blue scheme that I really admired from one of Cochran's pieces.

Finally, putting each color on a separate layer, I colored and finished the final piece.

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And that's the story, morning glory! I've already used this picture as the back image for my business cards, but I cropped it a bit so the whole picture didn't have to get shrunk down so small.

Sailor Moon stickers

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I've always wanted to make Sailor Moon stickers. I wouldn't say I'm a huge SM fan- I didn't follow it closely as a kid and haven't seen the show or read the manga all the way through. But I really like the character designs- they're so pretty! And somewhere deep down, I just love glitter and sparkles.

I can't explain why I wanted to draw them so mad. But it seemed right. So with the help of some Twitter discussions and input from a few true-blue SM fans, I came up with these roughs for both the inner and outer senshi (top and bottom respectively). 

I kind of liked the super-irate cassowary eye that Jupiter is sporting, but in the end decided to go with the simplified dot eye. I guess its cuter.

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After thinking about it some more (and playing Sailor Moon songs to get into that creative mood) I came up with some pencil sketches that I traced over using a lightbox and micron pens. That part felt really good since for the past several weeks I've been working almost exclusively in digital, so breaking out the traditional materials was a relief and a nice change of pace.

(During this entire process I documented every step and posted periodically to Twitter and Tumblr. It was nice getting quick feedback from followers there. Thanks, guys, for all your input and encouragement!)

Finally it was time to scan and color digitally. I used more or less the same pastel palette and ink wash overlay as the Pet Bird stickers. It took a lot of back and forth deciding on the colors; I would say they took the most time of all. Strangely, deciding on Mercury and Mars's hair colors took the longest. I also had trouble with Saturn and Pluto because their outfits are such dark colors. What do you do if you're using a pastel palette and something needs to be black or dark purple? Bend the rules, it turns out. So some of the colors are little darker but still the same low level of saturation as the rest. I hope they don't print out too dark. Here are the final designs.

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Pet Bird Stickers Design Process

Continuing with my idea of adding more sticker designs to my Etsy shop, let me share some of my process for these Pet Bird stickers. Below is the final design.

The final designs

However, long before the final version, these birds started their little journey in the form of:

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... ink blobs! I found an image online of the type of "look" I wanted my stickers to have: very simple, cute, with pastel colors and a minimum of lines. Keeping that image open on my monitor for inspiration, I painted out these blobs. I did several pages of them. You wouldn't think so, but its a little tricky to get a clean shape that has even coloring. 

I scanned these and using Clip Studio Paint I futzed around with the blending mode, Hue, Saturation, etc. until I could control the colors of each blob:

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Looking more birdlike already, aren't they? I had a rough idea of what types of birds I wanted, too. This sticker sheet is going to be all pet birds, so- cockatiel, parakeet, parrots, lovebirds (of course!) and so on. 

I was using a pastel palette I found (from Elkins Design) for guidance on picking the colors, but the colors didn't always come out how I wanted because of the method I used to colorize the blobs. So there was a lot of trial and error, especially with the lighter colors. These blobs were originally that dark blue, so I guess converting them into light cream yellow didn't exactly translate well.

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Gradually I came up with these birds blobs here: 

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Now, most of these aren't that bad, but I still wasn't happy with the light cream and white colored parts, which kept coming out too dark or textured weird. It's most noticeable on the cockatoo and parakeets. So in the end, I had to scrap the inkblob idea and do the whole thing digitally (see the first image). There is still a bit of the inkwash in the design, since I scanned in a few pages that I had swiped ink onto and clipped that texture onto the bird form.

Finally it was time to place the designs on a sheet and prep for printing:

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I am trying out a new vendor this time called Sticker You. They let you order stickers in large 8.5x11 inch sheets. I want to sell my sheets in 4x6 inch sheets, so I arranged my designs on the page so I can cut them into four smaller sheets (an idea I got from this Youtube vid). I sort of goofed up the sizing, but I'm still looking forward to receiving my stickers and seeing how they turn out.

Buster Keaton and stickers

I'm a fan of silent cinema, especially comedies like Buster Keaton. Been rewatching some of his old stuff and listening to the Talking Buster podcast and was inspired! Had a bit of fun imagining what Buster Keaton stickers might look like. I think I hit a lot of the iconic images (including that pratfall, gotta have that). And the stars, they indicate either pain or stardom, which for Buster was one and the same.

I want to expand my sticker offerings for my Etsy shop and cons. However, making and printing this set is low on the priority list, because I should direct my resources to designs with a wider appeal. But dammit, this is the sort of thing that *I* would totally buy.

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Black Comic Book Festival 2018

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January 12-13, 2018 was the Black Comic Book Festival in Harlem, New York. I got there in the middle of the day Saturday and the line was out the door and around the corner- a 45 minute wait!

Inside it was packed with comics fans, young and old alike. There were maybe 40 vendors, more than last year it looked like, and a good variety of art styles and comic types. I caught up with Shauna and Yesenia who were tabling on the upper level. 

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Typically when I table at cons, I stick to Artist Alley and don't often get to wander around to panels and see any other attractions. But this time, being an attendee and not a vendor, I thought "what the hell" and sat in on the Cosplay Show. I don't have much experience with those so I don't know if results are typical, but man it was a lot of fun.

Each cosplayer got to stand in the spotlight and do their thing, like a little dance or a couple moves, and then they got the microphone and could say a few words about why they chose to dress as that character. Across the board everyone had a positive or uplifting message about promoting peace, following your dreams, and being an everyday superhero. 

Too soon, it was time to go, but not before picking up some reading material for the subway and jitney home. Looking forward to next year already! 

By the way, check out the twitter hashtag #blackcomicbookfestNYC and follow the Schomburg Center for more photos and a recap of the event.

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Convention Season 2018

My convention schedule for 2018 is shaping up! Here’s what I have planned so far:

  • February 24-25   FanFaire - Brooklyn, NY
  • April 14-15    Kinda!Con - Morrisville, NJ
  • May 12-13    TCAF - Toronto, Canada
  • June 2-3    CAKE - Chicago, IL (tentative)
  • June 10    Queens Book Fair - New York City
  • Aug 10-12    Otakon - Washington, DC
  • Aug 18-19   Flame Con - New York, NY

Last year I learned that a number of comic and anime conventions do their Artist Alley registration in late December/early January. In 2017, was too late for the open application periods of MoCCA, Otakon, AnimeNext, and Animazement (among others). Often I found I had missed the application window by only a few days! It felt frustrating. I jotted down the names of those cons in my planner and this year was sure to apply on time for 2018. 

My focus is local and regional conventions because its always good to save on hotel and travel expenses whenever you can. Especially if you’re kinda-sorta just getting started and don’t have a huge selection of merch, its good to stay close to home. Oh! But Chicago cons are good too since I have family there and its a good excuse to go visit.

Otakon is one of the largest anime conventions, which I have heard about for many years but have never attended. This will be the year! I understand its attendees tend to focus on purchasing items like posters, buttons, pins, and other small 3D items. I’m mostly comics and books, so I’m wondering if I should add a few of those items to my inventory. It’ll be interesting to see what other tables will be selling.

Speaking of keeping on top of cons, the first 2 weeks of January I’ve been helping out at Conosaurus, a comic convention database that sends out a weekly newsletter about upcoming cons and those currently accepting applications. The founders are on vacation, so I stepped in and updated/sent out two newsletters. I’m always checking con sites for when their AA opens, so I figured, why not? I was even able to add a few new entries for upcoming events and comic-related job opportunities.

 My table from the Betty Zine Fest 2017

My table from the Betty Zine Fest 2017

 Betty Zine Fest 2017

Betty Zine Fest 2017

Dove Rescue

People who have known me a while understand how much I like birds. At the local park, I take bags of bread crumbs and feed the pigeons. It's a relaxing activity that takes my mind off the stresses of the day. Often there's a pure white dove mixed in with this flock. He is larger and stands out among the pigeons. I have nicknamed him "El Espíritu Santo" since in art, the Holy Spirit is often depicted as a dove. He has become a favorite and I always look for him when visiting the park. (Look carefully, that's him in the center of the photo, taken August 2017)

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On January 14, 2018, my husband went for a walk. It was close to 8:00 pm, way past the time when all pigeons fly up to roost. So he was surprised to come across Espíritu Santo, seated on the ground near a corner store. He didn't fly away when approached, but also didn't take any bread crumbs. Then my husband saw the blood.

The dove had been attacked! Luckily we had a bird cage at home (from rescuing another bird last fall) and I came out with gloves, a towel, and the cage. Catching him was easy because he offered zero resistance. Once we got him home we consulted the most excellent Wild Bird Fund for advice and direction.

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We caught Espíritu Santo on Sunday evening, and the Wild Bird Fund opened at 8:00 am Monday morning, so our job was to make him as comfortable as possible and pray he lasted the night. We made a donut shape out of a rolled towel and placed him on it, along with a cup of water within easy reach. We talked to him a little. Then we turned down the lights and placed a towel over his cage to let him sleep. The rest of the evening we talked in hushed tones- all because of a bird!

It might seem silly, but for me this was very important. My husband and I knew this bird- we saw him in the flock often. We would go on walks looking for him- I would say "let's go find the Holy Spirit!" (because har har, very funny). It's a curious thing that this specific bird should get injured and that my husband should come across him right when he needed help. I prayed a lot that night. If he were to die, at least it would be somewhere warm and comfortable.

Thankfully, he survived the night, and early Monday morning we drove to the Wild Bird Fund in order to get there when they opened at 8. The workers there were very friendly and took him in with no problem. When a worker took him out of the cage, we could get a good look at his injuries. They appeared to be light puncture wounds on his right wing and right side of his body.

Sadly, heart breakingly, the Wild Bird fund told me on Wednesday Jan 17 that they had to humanely euthanize this dear bird. I was very surprised because I thought she would pull through! They told me his (actually "her") wing was infected, was broken and had had a previous injury that didn't heal properly. They said her quality of life would be poor even if she did survive these injuries. 

I have no choice but to take them at their word. I don't dare put my needs above the dove's health and comfort. I know that if she was in pain and suffering, then its better this way. But when I left her on Monday, I didn't even properly say goodbye, just handed her over and left quickly because the meter on the car was expiring. I miss Espíritu Santo terribly and am surprised at how hard I'm taking it. She was the best thing about our neighborhood, and the world is drabber and gloomier with her absence.