So things have been busy on this side of the screen for me. Commissions come, commissions go (I’ll post some of those later), but I wanted to drop a quick line to whoever reads this and make good on a promise I made when I returned home from overseas. I’m glad to say that not a day has gone by where I haven’t drawn something. Having the family around pulls me in different directions, but in truth, it’s kind of inspiring. I don’t have forever anymore, so when I do sit down to draw/write, I feel like I absolutely must make it count.
After all, my step son will only wait but so long before he starts our championship title matches without me…and he’s notorious for hitting me with steel stairs.
In the mean time, here’s a little something from my writing project. I think it’s going to end up as a promotional illustration, but here’s the rough sketch.
…c’mon, you know you wanna ask him, “Whatcha got there, li’l guy?”
Believe me when I tell you you’re better off not knowing what he’s got nor what he’s done with it ;)
Before I begin, I have to apologize to anyone who’s made a comment or posed a question for me on this page. My commitment to this has, historically, been fleeting due to a number of reasons. Unfortunately, that meant neglecting people who took interest in my work and for that I am sincerely sorry. As an agent of the creative process, I’m always in the student’s seat and can’t really ever say I’ll be one to have unlocked all the secrets and mysteries of this winding path, but what I can say is that I’m one who has constantly struggled with “why.”
I’ve been drawing since I was a kid. I used to copy superheroes like the rest of my friends, and ultimately, started making my own. My skills developed and my horizons broadened and, ultimately, here I sit, unsure of what the Hell I’m supposed to be doing with this skill. I have friends who are literally breaking out in the art world and I couldn’t be happier for them, but something in me never let me comfortably set foot on that same path no matter how much they encouraged me (thank you, guys). I made sites, printed shirts, and as cool as it all was, it was just that: “cool.” I can’t say I really felt compelled to push it or hack away at it, so it stayed a moderate pursuit. Over time, though, that “cool” devolved to “lukewarm” and my concerns for it waned (resulting in a half-hearted commitment to updating this page). It wouldn’t be until this summer when I’d figure out exactly what my malfunction was.
I visited Thailand to see my family and sadly, bury two loving grandmothers. It was in the middle of all that that I remembered my creativity was never JUST in drawing. Even though I’d been drawing since I was a kid, writing was the thing I always enjoyed. Drawing is cool for sure, but writing was always this animal in my head that I could let out of its cage and smile as it rampaged, unmitigated and unchecked. Like the architect of an arcane monster, I’d smile as I wrote. I remember taking workshops and hearing others complain and bemoan the writing process, but I never encountered those stumbling blocks. If I hit a wall, I’d back away for a bit, then come back and things would be smooth-running again. Sadly, it was a workshop that I took in grad school that turned me off from writing (that professor and her crackpot creative methods can choke on Godzilla’s junk for all I care), but I think I’ve come full circle. Even better is that the pieces I’ve been focusing on have an energy about them. There’s a reason behind their creation that goes beyond art for art’s sake and I’m very excited about that. The ultimate plan is complete a short story and do illustrations for key characters and scenes. How I’ll release it I don’t know, but please believe there will be a good source of updates here.
In the mean time, thank you to anyone and everyone who’s left a kind word or support or shared my work on their pages. I can’t thank you enough and will promise to keep my correspondent-douche-baggery to a bare minimum.
I’ve got commissions I’m working on as well as more shirts of my own I’m looking to print. To pass the time, though, here’s a product shot of a design I did for the guys at Wu Designs (Wu Designs, Tenmao Designs, it only makes sense). When we get together, martial arts and visual arts equal “bad-ass”.
If I’m good for anything, it’s an epic title (sometimes I think they’re better than my actual work haha!)
I know I’m among the worst social-media-updater people on the internet, but that’s a result of my own uncertainty about what I’m doing.I work as a part-time college writing instructor, and if you know anything about the plight of the adjunct, we’re victims of a tenuous and ever-fluctuating stability that trifles with every fiber of our being. I love my job; I love teaching people how to write, but there’s that creative bit of me that I shamefully pushed to the back to give my attention to what I felt was “more important.” I figured I could satiate my artistic inclinations with a doodle every now and then, making a few shirts here and there. Well, I believe it was Phil Anselmo who said that “everyone has a talent in them, and when they ignore it, they become a bitter and angry person.” Well, I think I arrived there not too long ago amid my net-silence, and while I wont’ be so cliche’ as to say “I’ve broken free of it” or anything like that, I can say I’ve been paying more attention to it.
Since my last post, I’ve put my art on canvas patches for Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu gis and even had some of my stuff worn by BJJ Pan American champions (thanks Carli!). As it goes in the art world though, the waves ebbed and flowed, and when it came to me, they seemed to just die. “Cool, it wasn’t meant to be” I thought…
At 33 years of age, I’m uncertain of a variety of things, but I have a precious few things that I am certain of. One such thing is that my imagination won’t stop and I’m a fool for trying to keep it toward the back. In lieu of that, I’m giving my art and my shirts the push I think they deserve. It’s hard, but I think I can make it work. 3 more designs are already in production, so here’s a teaser to show you where my mind has been.
Needless to say, there’s much more to come…”trust me.”
Sincerest apologies, folks.Once the semester starts, my life becomes pretty much a maelstrom of papers, student questions, and frustrations begotten by frustrations with the powers that be. Art slows at this time, but that doesn’t mean the thoughts don’t stop. Sadly, this does mean that putting out new shirt designs is troublesome. Stack that on top of a pending trip overseas and the ultimate decision is that shirt stuff will be on hiatus for quite some time. The upside to that is that I’ll be able to tackle things I’ve wanted to draw (solely for the sake of drawing it). Keep an eye at least 18% on the page to see what nuttiness I come up with.
In the mean time, the Tenmao shirts have received gracious support and I couldn’t be more grateful. One such supporter is Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu machine Darren Branch, Gold Medalist at the 2012 Pan American Jiu Jitsu Championships. Check out the high-energy promo he cut for me below wearing the Tao of the Juggernaut tee. Oh, and don’t forget to check the pictures of 2014 Pan American Jiu Jitsu Womens’ Champ Carli Edington sporting the Tenmao Medusa Hoodie and Ghost Face designs. In her first outing into a tournament that size, she took gold without anyone scoring a SINGLE point on her. Simply phenomenal. I couldn’t ask for more incredible representatives of a brand that shouts Bow to None at every turn.
More to come soon…very soon…
So the tail end of this year was spent face-down in a bunch of “big kid” decisions that divided myself between career and craft. Without going into anything entirely too verbose, it was miserable and infuriating, but the grade books have closed which means the sketchbooks are torn wide fuckin’ open.
I can’t begin to thank everyone who’s bought a shirt or a hoodie since they’ve been released. The money coming in helps more designs be possible and for that I thank you all. Even with the hectic pace of the semester (slipped up on my Word Press responsibilities!), I managed to chip away at some designs and am unleashing the final one after this post is completed. I really like it as it 1.) is a successful attempt at a new rendering style I’d never used before and 2.) captures my attitude regarding me and getting the things I want. I’ll hope you’ll see it and feel the same way (so much so that you’ll buy it for yourself or a loved one or someone in need of some inspiration).
Just the same, with all the sales and such going on, I look forward to a winter consisting of not increasing my bra size and a lot of drawing. I’ve signed on for a protracted project with a good friend from across the pond and I’m very excited. I’ma shut up so I can go throw up the new shirt. Head on over to the Tenmao Store and pick up a Holiday gift for a friend or loved one. Hell, maybe even pick up something as a New Year’s gift. After all, 2014’s just around the corner, and this could be your way to help someone you know turn their life around and Bow to None.
So I gotta close them out.
Seriously, I want to do another line (of shirts, guys…SHIRTS) but I need to clear some of these out before I can do so. I figured if I kicked 5 bucks off my designs, that should help thin out what’s left. Once a design is gone, that’s it. I’m not reprinting these again (well, maybe), but not in the t-shirt format for some time. This Fall/Winter will be putting my work on long sleeves and maybe a hoodie or two, so if you’re interested in getting one but your cash has been low, now’s your chance.
Click the link below to go right to the store.
That whole “waiting to bloom” thing is lovely and romantic, but there’s a bit of my imagination that wonders if there are caterpillars that can’t wait to become monarchs and cut their way from the cocoon.
That same part sees babies in the womb muttering “fuck this womb bullshit” and tearing themselves from their mother’s bellies, but I digress.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve been a comic-based illustrator. Map the outlines, then fill in the blocked-off space with shadow and color. Never had a problem with it and never found a real reason to stray.
No until I met Dorian Willis.
I met him in high school art class and we shared a love of drawing. Not just drawing, but drawing things that would irritate the living Hell out of our art teacher. We kept our styles, she kept shouting and ranting about “real art” and what not, and we kept drawing. Then one day I came in and he was painting. “Judas!” I thought. He’d gone the way of those other un-deoderized fine art clowns in class with their penchant for birkenstock sandals, JNCO jeans, and overly-emotive and whiny music and was painting. Without being too melodramatic, I felt betrayed. Though our styles were different, I thought we were on the same page in being loyal to the pen and ink. It was the proverbial “whatever:” he painted and got the praise of the fine art fools, and I kept drawing and stood my ground.
It wasn’t until that special time between “after class” and “before lunch” that I actually asked him what he was doing. You get tired of sneering from afar at the friend who “left you behind” (Jesus I’d like to slap myself for feeling that way, damn teen angst), but I figured I could ask and he’d tell. He did. He said:
“I just wanted to try something different. Maybe you should, too.” – D. Willis
In my head not 2 seconds after, the bells rang “bullshit” and I let it go. I continued down my illustrative path and perfected and honed it and loved it every step of the way. Different styles and techniques of the illustrative arena became familiar as I entrenched myself in the practice, never once deviating from the path. However, fourteen years later, I’d start to consider branching out (better late than never). I’m sure there are many who’ll read this and spout off about their own experience with stylistic growth/development and how they didn’t fight it and I should have just tried but guess what I 1.) don’t give a shit and 2.) am fairly confident there’s some aspect in their life where they’re still in a mental frame they were fourteen plus years ago. That’s not the point, here. Instead, to consciously choose to change once all reason suggests to do so is an intelligence unto itself, one that I know many people don’t do even when circumstances beg them to do so.
Enough with the introspective ramblings. Here’s my first piece done without outlines of any kind. Painterly and imperfect I’m sure with the help of Phototshop for Ohio metallers WRETCH. I want to shout “Look ma! No training wheels!,” but that would be reductive of the comic-illustrative style I respect and still love so much.
Instead, I’ll say “thanks” to Dorian, a friend gone from this world too soon who I wish could see what my stubborn hand has finally done.
My friend, you were right, and hope you found the peace this world denied you.