Look here, some art! Check it out and be on the lookout for more soon! (I know these look dark and for that I am sorry. Still working on my scanner situation.)
This one I may have shared before but it was a fun doodle I did while watching something with my nephew. I should probably do something with it at some point...
My nephew paid me $1 to paint the Question for him. Then I got busy with work and misplaced it for awhile. I'm actually not too keen on this BUT I shall finish it none-the-less. (I'll also re-paint it with a better selection of blue tones.)
And here's something I'm planning to finish soon. Peter Dinklage, as he will appear in the upcoming "X-Men: Days of Future Past." He'll be playing Bolivar Trask, the creator of mutant hunting robots called Sentinels. This piece will be for sale. Any interested parties can contact me for this.
I'll be posting more art for sale (and some neat sketches) soon.
A few weeks back while attending a convention, I received a few suggestions from fellow artists to partake in a very challenging event that was coming up called, “24 Hour Comics Day.”
I’ve included the official website in the link below but 24 Hour Comic Day is basically a challenge to write, draw, and letter a 24 page comic in the span of 24 hours…with no prep time in advance. YES, an original, entire issue of a comic all in a single day’s time.
(To give perspective on the magnitude of the task, note this: An average comic is put together by a team, usually a writer, artist, inker, letterer, and editor, over the span of a month, to produce 22 pages.)
I had to contemplate whether or not to do this event. The longest I have spent in a single sitting on any piece of art was 4 ½ hours. It would certainly go beyond that x6 so, there was that to consider. I also found myself HEAVILY concerned about the fact the story had to be made on the spot. I’ve worked on a few things here and there sequentially (the largest being my 10 page grant proposal) but all of those I had done with at least a few weeks of concept work (staging, character design, etc.) This would be like going in creatively blind and having to sprint full out minus the stretching and practice.
When it came down to it, though, I didn’t really have any reasons to shy away giving it an attempt. At least if I tried and failed, I’d likely learn from it.
BOY was I right.
So, challenge accepted, I went to the link to see how I could go about doing it. My original intent was to go to one of the host locations and do it on a super official capacity…but, the closest one was a state over and I simply couldn’t make the trip due to a local obligation Sunday morning. I found out that you could do it from the comfort of your own studio so, off to the races I went…
…And failed miserably.
It was the greatest experience I’ve had with art this year.
I woke up around seven, showered and got on some clothes to work in and was at the boards from 8am till about 12:30am (breaks for bathroom and two meals) and managed to get 17 ½ pages penciled. (I planned to sleep for 4 hours and then get up and try for the rest but, in classic comedic form, my alarm never went off before my 8am deadline.)
I am glad I did it. It was the perfect challenge to test myself with and I learned so much about ME. Strengths were discovered, weaknesses exposed, and I found that instead succumbing to the feeling of it being difficult or challenging, I relished in the madness of developing a story from nothing, to words, to page.
I think that the take-away (as my friend Mike would say) is that I maybe have more skill and confidence than I rarely allow myself to see. It was nice to work long (and I do mean LONG) and hard, walking away with many things added to myself from the experience.
Including a hand that’s sore and which I’m using to type right now.
I Didn’t get the time to scan/pic the artwork but, as soon as I can this week, I’ll toss up a post with the goods.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to log off, rest my hand, and take this day of rest…and REST.
I could go on about all the particulars of my long silence but, to make the story short, my computer stopped working and lost a large amount of files (thankfully I backed up MOST of them) but I wasn’t able to get on “the net” for awhile.
It was an interesting experience. I’ve heard stories from other creators about the same thing happening to them and, based on that, I lucked out quite a bit. All I had to do was re-scan some art (none of my projects were harmed.)
What I did get to do, however, is take some time to reflect on things and reassess where I’m at.
I try to take stock and question what I’m doing on a frequent basis. It is not that I’m fickle or anxious, though. I’m of the mind that, if more people took time to review their lives, then they could better conduct their decisions and actions with confidence. My mind often thinks of things in a graphic design/illustration sense so, it’s like being a writer and having friends (or an editor) give feedback. I make sure what the plan is, matches my work and output. So in a way, I allow myself to have distinct and solid checks and balances I run everything passed. (Maybe a good term for it is “self-editing?”)
So, what came from all this reflection and assessment? Well, I realized that as much as I enjoy designing/illustrating stuff for clients, there’s a part of me I haven’t been feeding: the desire to create personal projects. It always surprises me how some artists are able to work on paying gigs and find time in-between their work/life paradigm to fulfill personal works. I realized that I haven’t gone about creating space to do that and, I feel like it’s an accomplishment that means a great deal to me. Thus, I have some (ongoing) prayer and conversation with my mentors about how I can better arrange things to allow that to happen.
What does this mean to you? More art, some more music (I know, FINALLY, right?) and the return of interviews with interesting people.
The goal is to keep it weekly so, be expectant for some new stuff.
Now, I’m unsure if you’ve seen these ones before but, here are some of the few drawings I have re-scanned for you to peep with this post, in random order:
An unifinished Dr. Doom sketch. The pastor mentioned the word Doom and it was off to the races with inspiration. Ha!
I have some cool students at the youth group I help run. Delaney is one of them. This is one of the many cool expressions she has. I did this as a birthday present for her.
A few years ago there was a series that Marvel Comics did that had a secret cabal of heroes who secretly were running things. A friend of mine asked me to sketch up a DC Comics version so, choosing from the former continuity of their comics line, my line-up would be (clockwise): Mr. Terrific, Aquaman, Oracle, A Guardian of the Universe, The Martian Manhunter, The Question, and Dr. Fate. unfinished pencil sketch.
Today's post will be a bit long and probably ramble at times. (the grammar will likely suck as well. ha ha) I'll be explaining elements of my failed grant submission, which I've kept pretty close to the chest while I was awaiting the Sequential Artist Workshop's decision.
I learned about the SAW grant one day completely by accident. There was a website that had a feed that posted up Twitter tweets from writers and artist who do sequential art and I clicked on the wrong one. This click took me to Kate Beaton's Twitter page, where she had just tweeted the link to the Sequential Artist Workshop's web page, specifically the page that listed their grants.
I had not really given any thought to pursuing grants. I'm sort of 'old school' in thinking that, a man puts in his hard work, "pays his dues," and eventually gets things to a point where he can do the dreams he knows he must do. The idea of seeking some funding to help along my plans (besides, ya know, working and saving up) just never really registered. I never was one to have many heroes to sort of mold my life after. I did have some people I admired though and most of them went through the long process and worked hard until they kind of "made it." For me, that was pretty much the only way to do it. So, seeing what was required for this grant in front of me and realizing what that cash could do to help along some stuff I had stewing, change my perception. It struck me as an opportunity I had to go for.
The SAW grant is awarded twice a year to projects that the Workshop feels are creative and interesting, done in any form of sequential artistic styling (comic strip, graphic novel, illustrated kids book, etc.) As long as I have been doing graphic design (either as my main or secondary job, about 12 years now) I've had the desire to do varied sequential art projects. But, as stated before, I had not really been thinking about full investment of time in them, because I needed to build myself up so I could focus considerably on them. Finding this possibility of funds being received SPECIFICALLY to go into a project, was fantastic.
But, there was an interesting catch.
The deadline date for the submission was 1 month and 2 weeks away, by the time I discovered it. If I didn't go for this one, I'd have to wait nearly all year long for the next opportunity to submit for a grant.
Thus, I decided to take up the challenge and go for the March 15th deadline.
Now, with such a narrow window of opportunity, the race was on to get it all together for the deadline. I had to fill out an application, create a website for the submission committee to view, and write a working script to draw up. (I'll make sure to explain that, for anyone who doesn't know about the way a sequential project works, in the comments below.)
On days where I'm in the middle of a design job and waiting for emails back on layouts I've sent in for approval, I write short stories. Most of them don't go for many pages nor are that fully fleshed out to be worth showing. I had a few concepts I was fond of and just wanted to stretch another creative muscle of mine. With the deadline being so near and me being a bit unprepared for it ( story development-wise) I decided to dust off one of these shorts and convert it from prose to script.
The particular piece I selected, was a story called "Thanks, Jules!"
"Thanks Jules!" (the title partly inspired by both the TV show "Psych" AND an in-joke with a few people I know..which is a bit long to share in this posting) is at its root, a straight-forward story of a young man who meets his truest love...at the beginning of the last year of all existence. It also happens to be somewhat of an allegory for, the futility of people seeking love and acceptance, while their view of having a future of any sort, is bleak and quite skeptical. A LOADED story, to be sure, but my meager goals for the submission were simply this: The first 6 pages, intro-style, of the first chapter (which would end up being 16 pages.) My thoughts were that if I had about a month (likely less due to obligations I had that weren't work or personal related) I could AT LEAST get that initial set-up of story in the first 6 pages.
It looked easier than it ended up being.
I'll refrain from all the gory details but, besides a few hours during my church's annual retreat, every single day of that month working on the project was sporadic and disjointed.
The quality of the art didn't suffer, though. It flows together nicely and I was actually far more meticulous with my approach at the drawings than ever before (especially due to the images needing to tell a story, as opposed to my usual design work, which is normally a static image). I think each page was...drawn twice? And there were two sets of thumbnails for them as well (mostly due to some script tweaking that happened in the mid-month.)
Despite all that, though, I can't say the whole time working on it was wonderful. I had to push myself further than I ever have and really approach my work ethic from some intriguing new angles. There were moments that, due to those obligations I mentioned before, I had to stay up very late, miss meals, not get to do my regular exercise regiments, etc, etc.
Still, I loved the process of creation, waking up every morning to put together something that I came up with, from initial concept to final pages.
Hopefully, I'll get another season in which I'll be free enough to try for a grant. I've got a taste for it, for creating a story with my words an images in hopes for sharing it with all of you.
I'm actually shocked at how much time has passed since I last posted something on the blog...Definitely a lot more time than I honestly wanted to exist between postings.
It is kind of crazy when you become so wrapped up in your work/life that things you wanted to make an important priority become the first to be ignored. Unfortunately for me, the blog ended up being that.
However, today's post is a catch-you-up on what's consumed my many hours away.
I had an opportunity come along that I couldn't let pass: A submission for a sequential art Grant.
Sadly... I return to you empty-handed. Some other lucky and talented people were awarded the grant money from the Sequential Artist Workshop. For me, however, it was an experience which ended up being full of valuable lessons. I learned quite a bit about my ability to work under a tight deadline (made even tighter due to several events in other non-paying obligations I have, coming out-of-nowhere,) inking my own pencils, composition, writing, and putting in the right amount of time on character design.
The project challenged me in ways that my graphic design work never has, expanding my understanding of the differences between 'static' image design (that mostly comprises graphic design jobs I get tasked,) and feeding into a greater sense of what will be required for my advancement toward the illustration field, in terms of sequential storytelling.
Despite putting in major hours at the drawing table, writing (and RE-WRITING my entire script,) building a web page to display the work, and providing additional essay material to map out my process, I ended up with the beginning to a graphic novel but, no means to continue putting in large amounts of time on it. Still, in this instance, the JOURNEY was the thing, taking me along a much needed 2 months and suitably giving me the experience and knowledge needed for future work in sequential art and narrative.
I'll likely go for a few other grants I've heard about at some point. I have plenty more pages and other ideas that I'd love to see meet the light of day. Some of it is stuff I've always wanted to do but haven't been able to focus on due to...well, needing to spend time on what pays FIRST.
So, with that grand experience behind me, I'm back to good ole' "Conducting Thoughts," sharing some of my thoughts, artwork, NEW music, and interviewing creative people about interesting subjects. I see the site has had some nice traffic from unexpected places and I'm hopeful they'll be more as I try my best to post up things that are worth stopping by and see/read.
Ozay Moore has been putting in hard work crafting some enjoyable hip hop for a majority of his worldwide fanbase. Staunchly entrenched in the purest ethic of the artform, he places his heart, his energy, and belief into every project and live show he does. I was lucky enough to catch him in one of the best local small venues a few years back and he brings everything to the stage, people. So, when it came time to bring back my monthly interview series here at Conducting Thoughts, I could think of no better person to speak with than him. But I wanted to come at him from a different angle so here, I decided to speak with Ozay NOT about his music but, instead, what it is like to be an artist who's traveled almost worldwide.
(Ozay has some traveling music to go along with the interview, peep it HERE)
Conduct Lionhardt: I know that due to your music, you've been given the opportunities to go to many, many places in the world. We'll get into just how many in a second but, where was your first trip outside of the U.S. and how old were you?
Ozay Moore: My first trip outside the United States was to Mexico. I was a sophomore in high school. my family and I took spring break in San Diego and drove across the border into Tijuana and on down to Ensenada. Both were experiences. At that time I finally understood that the world was a lot bigger then the community I lived in. I guess you could say it made me hungry to see the world.
Conduct: Alright! If you can remember all of them, what places worldwide have you travelled to?
Ozay: Japan, Spain, Amsterdam, Great Britain, Germany, Ireland, Scotland, Norway, Sweden, Mexico, and Canada.
Conduct: Is there any particular location, of the places you've listed above, that hold a real special place in your heart? Why that place?
Ozay: I would have to say my favorite place to go is Japan. Not only have they shown me a tremendous amount of support, I also love the country. Its history is rich, they're technological advances are crazy, the culinary experience is amazing, and its just overall a beautiful place.
Conduct: I've heard from plenty of well traveled touring artists that certain countries respond really well to live performers such as yourself. What places have the most live crowds?
Ozay: Another reason why I am so fond of Japan. I've toured there now on 5 separate occasions. Each time was amazing. my very first experience in Japan was in 2005. this happened upon the unexpected success of the EP "classic". The label I was on (Mic Life) put together a tour featuring myself & The Procussions. It was literally like living a dream. We performed at the prestigious Blue Note Jazz clubs and packed out every set. The Hipknotics band was there as well so you can imagine how legit it felt. I've been there once with Lightheaded, another time with my wife, and 2 other times on a solo mission. Although there was a language barrier, the way that the crowds responded in those live setting were fully engaged. In some cases although not knowing English, fans would be singing lyrics to the song. I would only know they didn't know english by my attempts to build with them after the show. Alittle dedication to communicate goes a long way.
Conduct: Wow, that's pretty amazing. Has traveling to so many different places affected things outside of your music, such as an interest in learning more languages?
Ozay: In my travels I've developed a desire to learn many different languages... I have yet to learn any of them ha ha. I mean depending on the country I can usually get along okay, but I am by no means fluent in any other language but English. It's a shame. I will say though, music regardless of the language it's recorded in is pretty universal. I'm glad that it has at least allowed me to gain audiences around the world.
Conduct: Did any locations suprise you by going beyond or below the expectations you had for them?
Ozay: In every country I've been, I feel like my expectations were always exceeded. the measure in which most people in other countries go to accommodate guests is nothing short of extraordinary. Across the board I would have to say that is the most common difference... hospitality.
Conduct: That's actually something comforting to hear, my friend. What are the ESSENTIALS (in your opinion) for world travel, as a music artist?
Ozay: I feel like if you want to get the most out of your experience in another country , go seeking to learn about them. Ask questions and show interest for where they live who they are and the history of their country. Right off the bat you've curbed the stereotype of a typical American... in which most cases they assume you are. I've heard it time and time again from locals in other places, that usually when a hip hop artist comes to town they only seek for weed and women. so needless to say posture yourself humbled to be there and soak it all in. By the time you leave you'll be happy you did. oh yeah and Build with local artists.
Conduct: You mentioned both travelling with others and solo. What were some of the differences of traveling alone? Did you find more time to focus on certain things or perhaps moments of personal introspection?
Ozay: When traveling with other folks, someone like me ends up Thirsting for time alone. Don't get me wrong I enjoy company, I just know I need time by myself to soak up what it is I'm experiencing. It's like when I hear a good sermon I usually want to take some time alone afterwards to process and internalize what it is I heard. One of my favorite moments in travel had to be my last trip to Japan. I was actually with my home boy DJ Tonk climbing a mountain southern Japan. to climb a mountain that has stone steps carved into the side of it thousands and thousands of years old, and to bear witness ancient relics older than the country you live in still intact and in arms reach was phenomenal. When we got to the top of the mountain repressed ourselves and a large rock heated up some instant udon noodles with some super fly high tech Japanese contraption and sat quiet for like an hour. That junk was powerful.
Conduct: Sounds like! Has going to these places changed your perspective on things at home?
Ozay: Bringing my experiences home always challenged to me to find ways in applying what I've learned abroad ... locally. Those connections weren't always natural ones. Sometimes just knowing the world is bigger than the corner you live in can help you better understand people more. As an MC, to understand people and connect with them where they're at is not only my job, but my passion.
Conduct: Were there any spiritual experiences these travels afforded you?
Ozay: While in Japan I had the honor of building with a local church in Utsunomia. My experience there was truly special. To understand Japanese culture, and then to understand the pride for it especially amongst their elders. Then to see them going against everything they were brought up knowing in pursuit of Jesus as an older man or woman is the kind of thing that will strengthen any believers walk. That was one of many memorable spiritual experiences for me abroad.
Conduct: Yeah, that surely is some inspiring stuff. I'm glad you've had moments like that while on your many journeys. Thanks so much for Conducting Thoughts with me.
It's sort of funny. As I was putting together my thoughts for this blog posting, I realized that "Thanksgiving Day" wasn't that long ago and, maybe, this would have been more appropriate then. Still, I think that regardless of that, it makes the most sense to me that I post it today.
You see, I almost quit making music.
Something that is generally true, despite not being stated really often, is that creative people do what they do so that OTHER people will experience it. Writers want their work to be read. Actors need an audience to see them acting. It's that way for every kind of creative expression. All of it, ultimately, doesn't exist if nobody experiences it.
I'm sure many other creative types have had times where their work or talent went under appreciated, viewed with heavy skepticism or out-right ignored. I was under no small illusion that this was part of the struggle to establish yourself in the craft you do. However, it was taking stock of the time and money put in on that pursuit, weighing that against the interest of others for my work, that brought me to the conclusion that my inability to gain a growing audience was the final say.
So I decided to stop. I had my artwork and that was having a bit more traction these days so...that was that.
But then, it wasn't.
And it was because of a very very small but vocal set of people who've taken, what could be a small gesture on their part yet was HUGE in my eyes, to tell me just how much they appreciated and want to hear what it is that I do.
So, here are some special thanks to the people who's interest fuel me to continue, who's true support is more than just expressed from a sense of obligation:
Cary, my good friend and photographer, who has continually asked about both my illustration and music endevours and has expressed on NUMEROUS occasions how a full listen to every one of my projects has been not only fun but worthwhile listening.
Randy, who gave me my first "review," one that encouraged the sort of writing that goes on in my music. His love of great music and understanding of quality, makes the statements he gave hold such a weight to them. To know a listener like him can find my work as quality...there aren't words for that.
Laura, the first woman to give me feedback on my music and, for the most part, not a huge listener of hip hop music. Her words, as a person who doesn't take in a huge amount of the style I use, have been very encouraging. My target audience was for people who like lyrics that have depth to them, not just fans of rap. The fact she enjoyed it and her fav songs where my favs, is a huge encouragement.
Colby, many people may never experience this man's truly heartfelt music and lyrics. I often refer to him as a man I wish I could be, both in content as well as delivery. Colby has for YEARS now, been a good friend and fellow emcee, taking every chance to encourage me, telling me to keep making my music. I can't say how many times but...Colby loves my music. And someone like him loving my work still floors me.
Jordan, one of my bestfriends in the world, he's championed my music in a manner like no other. Without Jordan, I'd likely have never been able to record anything. I've never been a man of means nor one to have the extra funds necessary for paying for any form of record engineering. Jordan started a label, had me fly out west several times and record all of the best sounding recording I've ever done. His passion for me to make music has breed the few scant amount of projects I've done. He's been a brother to me on a level I can't compare with anyone. And he's another guy who does AMAZING music who, for whatever reason, LOVES what I do. I have a hard time believing what I do is that great but his exuberance for my stuff makes me feel as though it could possibly be.
Tabitha, I've known her for over a decade and this author/singer is an amazingly articulate judge of what works and doesn't in very many forms of music. She understands prose and poetry, lyrics and song structure, sarcasm and comedy. I'd wager to say that of most women I've ever met, she's someone who can say intelligent and worthwhile things about most subjects. She listens to my music frequently. There's a world of things that she could listen to, by people far more talented than I. Yet, she likes and listens to my music. It must mean what I'm capable of is something good.
Honestly, there's a few more people and that's not including my mum and sister. There's not a lot, though. But I thought of those above and the few others and, if it were just those dozen or so people whom ever heard my music and enjoyed it, isn't that enough?
I feel like it is. So for the ones I listed and...heck, here's some more: Liz, Dove Wonder Why, Mum, Dave, Paco, Natasha, Cornell, Earl...
I wanna create and YOU are my audience. I want to share my thoughts, ideas and words with you. Anyone else who comes along can join in but even if they don't, I'll continue to share with you. Thanks for encouraging me, thanks for pushing me, thanks for being open enough to really listen.