Sunday, December 9, 2012

Special Thanks

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.

I hope you like what I plan on next.

- Conduct Lionhardt

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

How about a bunch of Art, eh?

Soooo...Long story short, this has been a rough year on the financial end of things. Freelance illustration is a tough racket. I've had to cut out (or off) a lot of things to make ends meet. Some things...I really would have like to keep. Now, it looks like internet may be the next to go.

With that being the case, I figured it may be a good idea to spend a few days this week, posting up some art.

I'll also be trying my best to get an interview or two up (with art,) before the point I think I'll end up having to let internet go for awhile. Cross your fingers and pray about that, since it requires my interview subjects to get answers to my questions back to me.

Anyways, here goes some art with small descriptions.

The first one is a portrait piece I did for an old friend, the rest, all sketches (most of them, done just as my warm-up drawings before doing ACTUAL illustrations.)

More to come!

- Conduct Lionhardt

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Code of Comrades

I like to contemplate a lot of things. I guess that may read funny for someone whose blog is called "Conducting Thoughts" ha, ha. So, I wanted to share a short thought I've been considering since an odd conversation.

 While at a lunch, a conversation I was having with some buddies turned to a mutual friend who had just released a single and was doing the usual round of promotion, including the constant posting-up about the release on all forms of social media. In the process of the conversation, one friend remarked that this artist had promoted heavily at the church I attend and that it was interesting how artists did that. I'm paraphrasing here but my friend said, when referring to my own releases, that I could have had my work promoted to the congregation at the same level of this other artist but, I had not ASKED to have my work promoted and, thus, no one ever mentioned it in public.

 I found that funny but, being that it was year or so behind me and was my first release (one in which I was still figuring out how to be a releasing artist) I let the point slide.

 What was said next, though, was what prompted the thought of this blog post.

 My friend said that he had bought both my music (and the music of others in the congregation) to "Support my friends."

 Now, I'm not saying that this alone was his sole reason but, it sparked off this idea: What if it was? What if the ONLY reason someone checked my music out was because of some feeling of friendship or obligation?

 Yeah, yeah, I hear the pundits out there screaming, "A sale is a SALE, dude!" I supposed to be happy about that? I'm a visual artist and a music artist. Many of the things I craft and make available for people to experience are, in a lot of ways, hours of my life, hard work, thorough technique (or reasonable facsimilie of) and large portions of what I believe my life is about. In other words, it's a HUGE part of me I'm sharing! And I don't think it's out of line when I say that, if a person is going to purchase my creative output that they should actually LIKE what it is they're buying.

I know, I know...people care about you and, even if it's "not their thing" they feel it's "right" to give out their shillings to invest in your career (or whatever) but... Well, look, maybe its a "creative" thing that I really want what I've poured myself into to be appreciated and have meaning beyond just the "code of comrades." I want you to hear it, LISTEN TO IT, and then, maybe, walk away from it with some new or interesting thoughts. I've always been one of those "music is nothing if it can't emotionally or intellectually (as rare a thing that is to have happen these days) move or touch you." Thus, when I "make music" it's to be something you'll somehow feel an impact from. Do I mind sales? Sure, it's nice to know that people want to support me being creative, financially, but I have created for years, far longer than just the time you could buy my product. It's more than JUST THAT for me. I want you to like it.

So, I guess it could be said that, as much as it's NICE if you buy my stuff to "help a brotha out" I'd personally prefer it if you didn't buy it unless you LIKE IT. As a personal expression and creative piece, I don't really take joy in it being put on a shelf. I want you in it and with me where my thoughts and expressions are going. Whether art or music, that's what I'd like to happen. Sounds or looks good? Get that stuff! Doesn't strike your fancy? Okay, don't waste space by trying to be a "nice guy." Maybe you know someone who's into that sorta thing. Share it with them! Because if they'll like it and really get into it, that's a "buy" I'll take more joy in. And, LOOK, you just supported me in a way that doesn't make my "So, what was your fav track? What verse of mine did you find interesting?" an awkward conversation, right?

 - Conduct Lionhardt

Sunday, September 30, 2012

A Brief History of...

When I began this blog, one of my truest intentions was to do interviews with people. I wasn't sure how to go about making that happen so I reached out to some friends and artists I looked upto in music to see if they'd enjoy being interviewed by someone. A few said 'yes' and thus I was off on my journey.
 I wanted my interviews to be different though. With a thousand sites vying to grab attention and traffic by interviewing musical artists, I was pretty sure another blog with 'normal' interviews would just bore people. I also felt the artist likely would feel less excited if the interviews were filled with questions they'd been asked a million times. I decided that, if I wanted this to work, I'd have to forget what I'd read in other interviews and really go about it the one way I was certain would make it completely different: I'd ask only the questions I really cared about getting answers for.
  I know, sounds simple enough and, 'duh,' why wouldn't I ask questions I want answers too. But by doing that, I easily changed what 'Conducting Thoughts' would be. So I started asking about their life outside of music, their hobbies, odd questions that I wanted to know which I was pretty sure few would. It just felt right to do, asking questions that often had very little to do with the overall point of why one would interview an artist who is putting out music. I wanted it to FEEL like I was interested in the PERSON and less the 'artist.' And sometimes I succeded at that...other times, not so much.

Unfortunately, things fizzled out as artists I'd approach would email back really short answers or not respond for months. It had a nice flow when I began but more and more it was becoming a 'once-in-a-while' sort of deal. And I don't think people deserved that from the site. Plus, I was passionate for sparking thoughts. I always have been. I enjoy honest and open communication with people, especially those with a thoughts worth hearing; things spoken with some substance.

So, I just started posting my own thoughts, usually things I'd personally been contemplating for very long periods of time. At first it was sketchy, my thoughts sometimes larger and disjointed from what I'd call a 'good read.' I'm an illustrator first and foremost so writing for a viewership is a totally different gear I have to be in. Sometimes I wasn't there, even if the thought was one I wanted to share.

It didn't turn into an art blog until my social network sites made uploading content a bit more difficult to do. I draw a decent amount of the time and love for people to be able to see stuff. The frustration mounted as those changes went down and it took forever to get stuff uploaded and ready to be seen so, figuring that I HAD put up art of the people I'd interviewed, I started to share stuff on here. Sure, occasionally I would try to shoehorn it into connecting with my 'thoughts' on here but, often or not, my art doesn't always link up with the stuff I'm heavily considering and contemplating.

I guess...haha, why am I going on about all this? Well, I want to continue to share art and thoughts with you few who look upon this page...BUT I also have a hankering to interview some people. Before it had just been music artists but I want to speak with as wide a range of people as I know (and that's an eclectic bunch, lemme tell you!)

So, whilst I seek those out and try to find time to draw up non-work images (while also trying to garner paying work) I ask that you just bare with me. I'm sure we all feel the pressures of the times and realize that it isn't the easiest moment in history to spend hours being creative but, as always, I'll try my best to keep this as a place you'll want to stop by...for one reason or another.

- Conduct Lionhardt

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Recent stuff! Yay!

Let's take a look at some new (or...well, MORE recent) art, huh? Sh'yeah!!

A commission piece I'm working on of actor, Idris Elba. I'm actually a huge fan of his...well everything. Ha, ha. His BBC show, "Luther," may possibly be one of my favorite shows. EVER. So, this was neat to work on. I actually broke out some new pencils on this one. Loving how they "feel" on the Bristol. There's a few things I'm going change when I finalize it and there's some background to add but, yeah, should end up being pretty good...hopefully. Ha.

So, here's a portrait of two students I know and the thing that really made me want to do this for them was the expressions here. Something that a lot of art doesn't do for me is have pure expressions. These faces...look at them. Its so funny how an image can tell you so much about someone and if you got to know these two, you'd surely see that this is a great intro into their character. That said...the pencil looks so light in this scanned image. Not too happy with that and maybe I should snap a shot and so it looks more like the page. (Nitpicky) Anyways, I like some of the detail work in the shading. They liked it too. Hope you do as well.

I do some warm-up sketches. Or, should I say, "sketches." Ha, ha. I usually do them in ink and often, differently styles. I haven't really landed on a technique I feel comfortable with yet. Anyways, this was a suggestion I got from a friend on facebook to draw the Wildstorm Comics character, Warblade, and somehow incorporate Pittsburgh into the image. For whatever reason, I thought it would be great to have the character in some construction clothes eating a classic Pittsburgh staple, a Primanti Bros sandwich. My fav part of the image is the crumbs from his mouth dribbling out and the fabric. Oh, I also dig the crumbs coming off his blade fingers. (YES, I get the joke that he looks very Edward Scissorhand-y. I didn't design the character.)

More to come soon. I'm a busy boy of late and I have a scanner to prove it.

- Conduct Lionhardt


Hey my half dozen readers. Sorry for the long delay on posts. As I've stressed before, life sure knows how to gum up the works for this machine. When push comes to shove, I end up having to give the good 'ole blog the last of my focus.

Anways, I wanted to share an interesting fact about my art. A lot of people (haha) have heard me making statements about it where, I likely come off as too hard on myself or self-depreciating.
The fact of the matter is, yes, I do think a good deal of my work is lacking but, its not a thing where I'm being a "perfectionist," always having problems with every little detail. (Okay, honestly, I CAN be that guy too but...) I'm also not knocking my talent for a lack of much professional use. (That fact is debatable. I'm sure some of the people who "know" me would say it could be true. People feel that seeing everything in bright lights and being mentioned all over the place, defines professional. ya know, hardwork and many projects aside...)

No, my real problem with my work is a knowledge that I CAN do better. I just have an issue with most of what I do being work done under various pressures.

I'm not gonna waste time here talking about deadlines and life obligations and what those do to work quality, though. Seems like too much of a cop-out or excuse, right? No, what I'm gonna share, though, is that there's a clarity of skill that's apparent in the projects I do that get worked on when I have the least amount of "pressures." (Please note the plural.)

Deadlines are a given in a variety of fields and if you can't learn to hone your craft to meet them, I'd suggest something else as a line of work. But I'm sure every professional out there, will tell you that a large part of being a great worker and someone who can own the term, comes when you can grasp and learn to manage the juggling act of life. Things outside of work, schedule and time always will have some effect (large or small) on your approach. When I'm taking care of it the best, you see it in my stuff...and when I'm NOT, you see it too.

When I can seep into my work, when the art and I become one and the focus is set on the goal, you see some of the better design, layout, and visual crafting than you would when my mind is split focused.

So, what's my point? Well, to be honest, and I'm pretty sure many can agree, its not easily the best time to be a freelance...anything. Things are tight, extra non-what you prefer doing work is often required, and the cool stuff (or fun or, ultimately, creative stuff) ends up getting less focus on. That's sort of the nature of how things are at the moment. But. One must learn to perservere and push forward. You have to grow and progress and learn to handle the pressures that you run across in this life. And that's not only professionally speaking. You have to develope those skills outside of career too. Things aren't just going to bestow you with perfection (or your definition of.)

I'm learning and honing that in my life. In my career. And, for you few who are checking out my blog and, eventually, my website, you get to SEE me grow into being a man whom Pressures don't effect the quality of my skill...and my life.

- Conduct Lionhardt

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Deceptive Perceptive?

I've had quite a lot of "thoughts" on my mind of late but, for whatever odd reason, I don't use this blog to just spew whatever I think of all the time. (I have a terrible habit of...really thinking through stuff. I'm sure it bothers people too...oh, and it certainly connects with the topic for today's post, as well.)

There's a comic publisher called Image Comics that has been really doing some great series by creators of all types and championing the ideas of creator-owned rights by the writers and artists. (IN the laymens, if you work for say Marvel on its characters and you create a new one, the company keeps the rights, as per their latest contracts) Image has really been challenging all the major companies by basically publishing stuff that the creators do, which those same creators retain full ownership of their ideas and concepts. (I know this may sound like a "duh" situation but, in the comic industry, its been a hot button arguments of policies and intentions for various years now)

Anyways, I say all that to bring a crucial point to bear (and, sadly, it only slightly connects to the theme here): Image, is a BIG deal to all of us.


But I'm not saying something we don't all already know, right? Whether a family man, an athelete, a warehouse worker, mother, professional writer, etc, etc, etc...we are all often aware of our image (or what we believe our personality is perceived as by others.) That's a given.

What is an interesting idea, though, is that we all believe in the most pronounced aspects of ourselves being that which feeds into whatever the "image" is that we have. We wholeheartedly believe that if we're working many hours, people will see you as someone who works hard and long everyday. Or, if you're a published author and you're writing  away, the "image" is that you must have SOME perceivable skill at words and story structure (even if rudimentary in the eyes of the more well versed in Literary works). People see a writer and KNOW he or she, IS  a "writer." That's how it works. Our "image" is what is "perception."

Funny thing about that...that isn't how it always works out.

I discovered something about "who I am" to people recently, ideals of what I SEEM to be to some folk who "know" me. It wasn't anything along the lines of that which I've made pretty apparent in recent times...not to mention the last couple years of my life. Those who check out this blog know that I'm a "struggling artist" (a term I probably should do a phrase search on to see where it originated) and that I am a burgeoning music artist (of very small works, often taking years to complete.) So, you would surely guess that since I use both this and a few other sites to promote my work and talent that, for the most part, some would (at LEAST) mention those facts about me when it comes time for perceiving my "image."

So, imagine my shock when I was at a meeting with people who've known me for a few years, being surprised to find that I both do art/design and that I record and release music. It's not like I've been "quiet" about either of those things and, this particular group of people, have seen me prominantly display both talents over the time period they've known me.

What was the problem then? How could two of my most important expressions be so easily missed in lieu of other things?

The truth of it all is kind of simple. People perceive based out of what is important to them. It didn't matter that those things were important to me. These folks were looking at the "image" that is me, basing it on their own notions of what matters. I suppose that the work I've done the past few years doesn't matter because there are other elements they key in on. My hair, for instance. I can't imagine to tell you how many conversations my dreadlocks get. They even get commented on when they are in a hat and out of sight! Or my facial hair growth, or the fact that lately times have been a bit more strapped due to the economy effecting how much work comes my way. Shoot, I've even had several conversations where people were trying to convince me to sell everything I own and just fly to a random new city, on the basis of me possibly being able to start fresh with an entirely new career!

All of this has brought me to some interesting time thinking about perception and the deceptive nature that others, or even yourself, can place you. I'd love to be recognized for the work I do and the personality I have but that's MY interpretation of me. Other people look at things differently. They aren't just going to "snap-to-guide" of my ideal image of what makes me Conduct Lionhardt. And I would be a FOOL to really get offended by that. We are all trying to make our way through these paths that our lives take them. Narrow and difficult or broad and "easy," we are all just trying to work to goals and make a space in which we can be ourselves and, hopefully, effect more than just our own lives. It is a process, one with many turns and challenges. Even those closest to us (or whom we perceive as being close) can misread or even assume certain things about you, in turn missing the "image" we're putting out there.

It doesn't make them wrong or make YOU wrong. Sometimes its deceptive how perceptive we think we are and it takes being aware, to truly breakaway from what others tell you that you are...and even what YOU tell YOURSELF, that you are. None of us are perfect. All of us can be multi-faceted. But hopefully, whether we are wrong, they are wrong, or we are unaware of what we truly are, we don't give up. Do not fall into the trap of people pleasing. And do not every think that because some people define you a certain way that its who you actually are or ALL that you can be.

I'm still working out the kinks of being Conduct Lionhardt. It is a mission to be whom I want to be and certainly not what I am...yet. Hopefully, as I write, record, draw, and live life, I'll keep from having an "image" or other perceptions define that. I'm striving to be the best me that can be had. You should too.

(oh, and if you know someone connected to Image Comics, maybe you could drop them a line that says, "Great work, guys. I hope to join the movement sometimes soon.")

- Conduct Lionhardt

Sunday, July 15, 2012

A Rough Go of things

Geez...I'm only managing a post a month here. Sheesh. Sorry again for that.

In all honesty, I could bore to tears the series of things that have popped up in my life to derail consistency in my posting here. But I'm trying to continually remind myself that external things effecting output is really just an excuse. I need to get priorities straight and its me that just doesn't do it. I mean, its not like I have a staff doing my art or music, ya know?

Since I've been having a rough go of things, in my everyday life, what you'll see below is a bunch of roughs. Pages, layouts, and design work. None of it is the finished versions of anything. I just figured that since much of what I do is stuff I'd have to get cleared for to post up, I can show you some stuff that's either in-the-works OR that I've fooled around with inbetween more official pieces. Some of this is WAAAY older and some of it is quite new.

Enjoy. And I'll triple my efforts to have a more interesting post, both visually as well as written-wise.

- Conduct Lionhardt

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Grundy No Like Updates!

So, its been forever and a day since I last updated the page. I keep having to apologize for that...which is pretty sad. I shall once again resolve to, at least, attempt 2 postings per week for the rest of the summer. We'll see how that goes...

I know I promised to do some interviews but, it seems the subjects that were in the works for those have either gone awol or gotten too busy to respond to half the questions so, sadly for now, the interview series is still a ways off as I start the process of setting up new one to replace those that fell through.

I had a few people submit ideas for me to do quick warm-up sketches of a month back. I was only able to do 5 though (thanks to paying work and obligations taking up all my time.) I was looking forward to daily drops of art for you guys but, well, that didn't happen. I looked back over them and found them to be lacking quite a bit. I did however love this one of Solomon Grundy that I did, despite running out of time on it before adding grays. Anyways, here's Solomon Grundy, born on a Monday, rubbing his eye after being hit by Hawkgirl's mace. (Justice League animated series reference, FTW!)

Solomon Grundy, brush pens/technical pens on bristol board.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Secret origins of "Finite"

I finally found the free time to do, what I like to call, "modern liner notes" for my last release (and, oddly enough, oldest material) "Finite." (You can purchase and give a listen on iTunes or at the Verto Records bandcamp page.) I give breakdowns of each track, little anecdotes about how they came about. Shall we begin? Well alright!

"The End"

This song has actually been in the works since about '04. I got the beat from two rookie beatmakers (David Slayer and Aaron Paul) and as soon as I heard the vibe of that sample, I knew exactly what the song was. (However, in nitpicky fashion, I always felt that the kicks on it needed a bit more "oomf" to sound solid and full. Sadly, both guys vanished for a few years and couldn't re-edit the drums.) I always intended for this song to be the last one I ever wrote, hence the title and all. So, it is funny that I ended up writing it a few hours before the recording (in '09.)  This song fits the album theme emmensely and I feel that it is one of the two most important tracks on this record. I wanted to basically state the problem with all things. They all end. Everything fails in some way or shape. The songs pattern goes as such:
1.) The world is no good.
2.) The church is not what it should be.
3.) I am not the good guy or anything special.
 I was unsure where I should place the track in the song order but, Jordan (my bestfriend and engineer) remarked that it would be interesting to start off with a track called "The End" at the beginning. It was the right call, as it went well with the journey the music takes you on over the album. For those into such things, I reference Neogen (of 'Remnant Militia') in my third verse as well as another reference to "The Melancholy Complexion."


The origin of this song is interesting in that I wanted a beat that was comparable to one I'd heard at the end of Jurny Big's album, "The Biggest of them All." I've had a long time friendship with U.K. based producer Re:Flex The Architect and after some time of complimenting him on beats he had made, I decided to ask him if he took really specific beat request. Having him listen to Jurny's track, he then crafted me this beat. I've found that many of my best beats  are ones that instantly reveal the song to me. Upon hearing this one, I knew the song would be about the end of a depression I'd gone through in '05. I also knew I wanted to sing the chorus on it (Jordan also lends some blending vocals.) I've actually performed this song 3 times live, twice at a church, before its recording in '09. (I'll be honest and say that my recorded verses here sounds really..."rusty." I have done it better and will likely re-record  it, at some point, so that they sound worthy of Re:flex's production.) Fun fact: Originally I had no intention of doing full albums and was just going to release multiple EPs so, on this song I use the titles of...I think, 15 songs that I've wrote.

"Hold Me Softly"

Fun story on this one. I got the beat for this one from a cool guy I met through a hip hop forum. He went by Phoenix for a little while then redubbed himself "Phenom." The beat felt good and was surprisingly more radio-friendly than I usually associate with. So, I wrote the song years before recording it. To be honest, I had no real intention to really record the song. So when I did decide to do it I tried to track down Phenom at him about the beat and mixing...but I couldn't track him down. One of the things that sinched this as something I had to record was a desire to baffle people who weren't accustomed to hearing me on beats like this. I also felt inclined to do it because it is rare that I enjoy all three verses of my songs. Normally, my best verses are the 2nd (go back and listen to the second on "Through." Its the best). My favorite line in the track is likely "stress passed their pro-sound to bask in Your life, that's pro-Found." To this day, its the one track that the most people seem to enjoy and, hahaha, I actually want to re-record this one for better delivery too.

"Everything That is Wrong With You" featuring, Jordan Santana

The first thing to know about this track was  that it originally was intended to be a tribute too AND feature, Trendi MC aka Terry Mcfly. (For those not in the know of the guy, ask me about him in person. I'll share a few of his verses with you. LOVE his rapping) EQual One produced this one. Not the BEST producer in the world but,  from time to time he'd make something and swear "I hate this!" which I would take as a challenge to use the beat and, by association, make him love it. I'm spiteful that way, I guess, making people like something that they normally would not seems like fun to me. Back to Terry Mcfly, I tried hard to go through his two former partners in rhyme (Poems and Gr8 Jason, of the LA Symphony) but it came to no avail. He was no longer rapping. Saddened by this, I still went on with the tribute, doing my verses in a Terry-esque way and including Jordan Santana instead. Personally...I think we did "okay." Its my intention to do a song dedicated to the guy on many of my releases so, I'll perfect it at some point. Everything I list in the song is 100% true. I've had a few people ask me about some of the stuff said but I encourage you to LISTEN and think about it. You should do that with all my songs, actually. I pack songs full. Jordan's verses are true as well...and far funnier than mine.

"Reject Star" featuring Jordan Cutter

My cousin is the one who shoehorned me into DOING rap music. I never had the intention to do it. Even to this day, You're more likely to hear me speak to people about my illustration work, THEN my music. ( It is one of the most perplexing things in my life that MOST people know me from my church volunteerism and music than for my art. Illustration and Design are what MOST of my time is spent doing...) Strange... anyway, my cousin made this beat on the very first beat machine I had ever seen in person, a machine called "Dr. Groove." So, yeah, not the best or most clean beat of all time, right? Apologies for that. This song spoke a lot of elements from the depression I had in '05 and some things I'd overheard others lamenting about, at the time. I think in life it is easy to cast people aside. I know we all star in our own lives and those roles can take us off to school, relocating because of work, etc...but we really do move in and out of people's lives so quickly. This song speaks on the impact of people being there and then going. Many of us don't REALLY deal so well with it. The chorus on the song is totally a re-working of the song that Peter Panning's daughter sings, in the film "Hook." I felt that song always adequately spoke to my feeling alone. Infact, when I performed this song live, I always sang her version at the end of the song. Yeah, I have weird live shows. I was truly honored and blessed to have my engineer surprise me with the appearance of Jordan "Gabi" Cutter for the chorus, the day we recorded this. They reworked the chorus to suit her vocals and my design for the song, beautifully. I look forward to working with her again some day.

"Meek Willy"

This recording of "Meek Willy" is the fourth one we did of the song. Its possibly the oldest track on the record, the beat having been around since '02, I believe, by my friend Chris (who at the time went by Micronaut, and was in a rap duo called the Insomniaddicts). I've not been in contact with him but always wondered where he got this great sample from, of a small group discussing the possibilities of a song being spun out of Psalm 25. Cracks me up everytime I hear it. My first attempt to record it happened the very first time I met my bestfriend, then a few years later recorded it again, and then again in '07. Everytime, something messed up in the recording process and I was nearly convinced that the song was cursed to never, ever, record well. This version, done in '09, is the best it could have been done and is arguably the single best recording on the album (outside of "The End" and "Get.") Surprisingly, the lack of upfront kick doesn't taint the track for me (something that usually does). I love the "Ha" I toss in on the second part of the hook.

"Suspect Cats" featuring, Common Child

This song's backstory is simple. One day at the basketball court I saw this really weird (and likely drug or mentally, messed up) guy lurking around the area, looking as if he was going to mess with or possibly harm, my younger cousin and his friends. Later in the day, we saw him from a distance still upto no good. I referred to him as "suspect cat" and it entered our interpersonal lexicon. I wrote it, not long after, in '05. I orignally had 3 verses in mind, then my cousin wanted on and he was on one, then he vanished and I was left with my one verse (the others weren't as good) until one day I realized me and CommonCHILD (despite being in the same crew) had never done a track together. I pitched him on the concept and he, strangely, knew about that kind of sketchy person. And thus, the one song I feel fits perfectly in the theme of "Finite" despite being such an...odd track. If you've ever been around a sketchy person, or situation, then you can sing that hook.

"Keep All The Everything"

This is not a romantic song. I always have to tell people that. This isn't about being in love with a girl. The song is about friendship. Its about friendship being so great, helpful, and you simply not wanting it to end. The verses speak about youth, friendship, the tight bonds of such occurances, and the feeling of a swiftly approaching and inevitable, end. I wrote this song specifically as tribute to one friendship but I wrote it in such a way that the lyrics can be shifted to fit anyone. You can use this song. This song speaks to your clinging to a GOOD friendship. And, maybe like it did for me, that friendship was one that saved your life. Fun Fact: I always wanted someone to guess whom this song was about so, I literally put the person's name in the song. It takes a good listen and a knowledge of my life to get it but, people who KNOW me, can easily figure it out.

"Concrete Jungle" featuring, Jordan Santana and Abstract1

Much like my need to pay tribute to Terry Mcfly, I also have intention to pay tribute to Remnant Militia on every release. "Concrete Jungle" is actually inspired, by concept, from the album cover for Remnant Militia's "Anthem of a Life" record, which depicted a large tree meshed with recording equipment. I loved that cover and so, feeling this Re:Flex the Architect beat (he named the beat "T'Challa" after the real name for superhero and King of Wakanda, Black Panther) I took the idea of the jungle and meshed it with a city. Visually, my verse (and those of Jordan Santana and Abstract1) are a mesh of both jungle and cityscape, making an image that works like this: I'm a business man/top of the foodchain predator, Jordan is a guy working his way up the ladder/monkey or tree climbing animal, and Ab1 is a small floor of the forest living creature/blue collar worker. We each speak from our perspectives of existence in the "concrete jungle." I wasn't sure those two would get the vision I had for this but, they automatically got to writing and, in my opinion, did the better verses on it. In my head, the verse I wrote sounded like Black Thought (of the Roots) rapping> In reality, it just came out sounding like a verse from me. Ha, ha.

"Dark Blue"

What is an album without a song about heartbreak? The point of this record was always to convey that everything in life is finite...and only that which is outside of life and time, is NOT. Everyone has had a relationship begin and end. Some of us have had plenty. The origin of this song is actually in a relationship which did NOT happen. I'm sure you either know or have heard a tale like that. Something means everything to one person and the other person simply doesn't feel anything to the level of which you did. For me, it actually depressed me to a point and period of time I deemed (rather dramatically) the "Dark Blue Era." So, this song is both deeply personal yet, I hope, open enough for anyone else to attach themselves to. I really love the visuals that I chose lyrically for this song. As usual, I feel the 2nd verse is the best. Ha, ha. Funny story about this beat: back when I began doing music, my cousin made most of the beats. He then, randomly decided to stop making music because his church deemed hip hop unacceptable for Christians to be doing. I am TOTALLY not making that up. Anyways, I lost the guy who was making my beats and needed someone else to do it so, enter young Cornelius Winthrope, who went by the name C-Dep (aka Christ-Dependant). He was...a difficult and bull-headed kid but had a knack for making off-kilter and melodious beats...not saying this is one of those but, since I wrote to the beat, I recorded to it. I think it works and its actually one of the tracks that most non-rap listeners have said they enjoy. *shoulder shrug*

"Must Be Lust" featuring, Jordan Santana

That "Lust" which I say at the beginning is a tribute to the air of fun I thought a group like Slum Village would have. Dunno why, it just sounded like something they'd do. Every time it played back while being mixed, it made me and Jordan crack up. Still does to this day. Though he was not a part of this record, producer Error96 had a buddy of his make this beat, complete with its fantastic intropelation (I should spell check means a replayed version of something someone else played, ya know, a sample that isn't sampled) of the tune from a motown hit. Pretty straight forward song about Lust overtaking a guy (my verse) and a girl (Jordan Santana's verse). I totally love my verse. I wrote it without a beat, years before, and then when this one came in over the email, the verse and beat made a perfect match. I'm not a fan of my singing all the time but there are rare occasions where I think I sing somewhat decently. I actually haven't heard much about any of the singing I do on the record so, maybe I am wrong thouhh. Ha, ha. Jordan Santana kills his verse. He's so passionate with his delivery.

"Word is Bond"

I had high hopes for this track, with the second David Slayer beat on the record. I love the hook and I like the writing of the verses but, listening back on it, I actually feel the delivery is way off. I really don't like making rap bars that are like...I guess I'd say, "trendy" references. I feel the game is filled with so many guys who do that so...I dunno, I just try to stay more focused and a bit more topical than trend-riding. Anyways, there are some funny references on this one, The double stuffed cookies jingle, "Bird is the word," a reference to an image I saw of rapper Playdough holding a brown bag with a hole in it, Mars Ill's "Breath Slow" song. etc, etc. This song was written back in...I wanna say '04. At this point on the album, I guess the intent was to have this start to slide the theme of the record toward the other side of finite thinking, that God is infinite. Ultimately, I wanted people to think about how omnipotent he is and start to get that the point of life is finding the reason to exist...and once you find that, to dive all the way in.


I said at the beginning that "The End" was one of the two songs that are most important on the record. "Get" is the other. I feel like, even though the record is this journey, if you listen to "The End" and then "Get" you sort of capture the point of the whole album. Everything ends, it always comes to a close...with the exception of that which is timeless. For me, that's God. So if life is a pursuit of the meaning, then you have to "Get" it in order to live a life that made any part of a point. The beat was by EQual One and was in the last batch of beats before he retired. Love the sample and the drums knock it out of the park. I love all three verses I wrote. Even though the 2nd (with its pro-wrestling references to Ric Flair, "Macho Man" Randy Savage, and the "American Dream" Dusty Rhodes) is surely a stand-out for me, I feel all of them work well. One of the lines in the hook isn't as tight as the others in it, though. (Yes, I am honest and nitpicky) Its one of the songs I have memorized and did have memorized pretty well when I recorded it. I also have an idea for a video that I have yet to get around to filming. I've never done it live either, oddly enough. I wrote it in '07 in less than an hour. 2 people have said they loved it, one person said it was their favorite song.

And, well...that's it. That's "finite" the album. Its both strong and weak, dark and light, funny and serious, and totally me yet, something people can personally attach to. least I hope so. Things are subjective, I guess. Music has that tendency. If everyone heard it how I meant it to be...its possible it may not be as enjoyable. I liked making the record and learned alot. I've taken what i've learned from the experience and used it on newer things (like The Royal Applebaums "Earth" EP.) If there is any enjoyment, head nodding, or thought that it gave to you, then I am very pleased. If you listened and it didn't do much...I hope I can capture your ear with the record I'm creating now. Either way, thanks. Music isn't anything if it can't be shared, whether loved, liked, or dismissed.

- Conduct Lionhardt


Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Waiting for Perfection

I'd first like to say, I am in no way or shape endorsing people to "settle" by this blog post. I'd never do something like that so, let's be very clear about that, okay?


I'm not sure exactly WHEN it happened (or if its been happening all along and I just NOW took time to notice) but, it seems that people have fallen into a strange mindset which they live by, a weird way of thinking that has people obsessed with waiting for perfect moments to happen. These instances where the stars and planets align and create circumstances that allow one to find or do...whatever it is they're looking for or, seeking to attempt. Some directive that people seem to run by which makes them impatiently pace back-and-forth until...SOMETHING lines up with the invisible standard they've ascribed too and have the sudden "all clear!" to go out and basically "BE" or "DO."

This BOTHERS me. It bothers me A LOT.

I mean, when did we (as a species) really have to wait to "BE" or "DO" anything? When we hadn't figured out building with tools? Fire? How can anyone in THIS day and age, be so filled with hesitance to ATTEMPT something?

I'm sure you've heard one of these:

"I PLAN on doing that at some point..."
"I'm just waiting until I have the very BEST amount of..."
"Well, the PLAN was..."
"As soon as..."

See? Hesitance by no small amounts, people!

I recently (and by "recently" I mean sometime in the past 6 months) read that more people are putting off getting married, having kids, and attempting to do something they've always wanted to do, NOW than EVERY BEFORE in the last 15 years of American History. That's a STAGGERING number, if you think of it. I mean, we live in a day where people crowd fund simple projects and launch non-profits left and right. Why would anyone want to hold back, hesitate, and limit, when so much momentum exists in the new and the thoughtful?

Many industries that thrive upon the adventurous nature of the American consumer to purchase or consume the things they have before, has found that the populace wants different, wants something that seems new or invigorating, or wants things that are honestly WORTHWHILE.

So, if all that is happening, if so many people lament the useless old hypes, if everyone seems to be craving to have better ideas, newer thrills, and fresher perspectives...why wouldn't people feel that now is a time to go DO and BE?

Are we all so SCARED and TIMID? Really? Are we all that stuck on playing it safe? Waiting for some  random "perfect moment" to come along?

It vexes me (YES, I said "vexes me.")

There are brave people out there. Right now. Brave people. They're making the choice to take risks and chances (and not just because they pulled out a "Monopoly beatdown") and really attempt to make things happen. They're seeking to DO things, to BE.

But...they're in the minority. They are not the popular choice, nor are they the "rational" ones (which I learned by talking to some church friends of mine.) Its not "safe" or "smart" to do that. It's better to "wait for when the moment is right."

I went to school for graphic design. There were well over 100 students in my graduating class. When I recently looked up some of them to see how they were doing, nearly all of the ones I personally knew from classes, don't even use the skills they went to school for. The ones who do, hate their jobs.

It could be family, it could be your friends...shoot, it could be a spouse. This idea of "waiting for a perfect moment" is just another form of submission. You see the world as great and awesome YET it holds this scary authority over your life to a degree that it cripples you from even trying to REALLY really break free from the "company line" or "the norm."

I've waited for moments myself. I've grabbed an idea that in order to do, or say, or be something, that I needed that instance of kismet never came. There's never been anything I've wanted to do that came from me sitting around waiting for a perfect moment to appear. The BEST things have come from me actually DOING, from me actually BEING.

I'm sure this is soapboxing at its finest. I'm sure it could read pretty laughable...or not "my usual." I get all that but, it doesn't make it anymore true. What would anyone be waiting for? Is it to not fail? We all fail. We all fall short. That's a given. Even the world's best atheletes will lose. On their way to being the peak by which others aspire, they failed and grew from it. Why would you wait on your duff for a moment to come? Do you think if you do you'll be ready? You've been "waiting." Won't that mean you're not practiced?

I waited a long while for artistic "perfect moments" to happen. They didn't come up and nothing REALLY happened UNTIL I started DOING things. Until I finally chose to take that risk and BE.
I'm still in the middle of the process. I'm working harder and harder as the days go on. I'm well aware I could fail but (and if there's nothing better to take from this post, let it be this,) I understand that no thing nor person whom has ever been called great or hailed as special and notable in history, did it by WAITING for PERFECTION.

Sacrifice, doing things and putting in effort defines them ALL. And even the most read about figure in all of time had to do, say and be to end up as someone we could call the closest to perfection that anyone did. And he has the best selling (and most stolen) book of all time to prove it through His story.

Get out there, DO things, BE.

Live and try, fail and learn from it. Don't be the last one waiting for the perfect time to come to you.

In the spirit of not waiting, here's an imperfect attempt at inking one of my fav pencils, "The Girl Who Ate...The World!!" I intend to keep trying my best, to make the best illustrations I can.

- Conduct Lionhardt

Friday, April 13, 2012

Follow up: Jumping with Glass

Really quick, here is the inked version of one of those non-photo blue layouts a did. The girl jumping and glass falling. I will likely mess with the glass a a few small details but, it didn't turn out half bad...

technical and brush pen on Bristol.

- Conduct Lionhardt

Saturday, April 7, 2012

The Gear Up

First off, I like the title of this post. Just reading it there...its cool. I think I may do a song or story titled that...

I feel pretty bad. I'm totally becoming one of those people that puts up a blog with bold and fancy intentions to keep the content on it constant and to frequently have reasons for people to come and check things out...who then proceeds to hardly ever post.

The thing is, I'm just busy. I wish that weren't true in the sense that it is, though. See, I'm busy gearing up to BE busy. I have some ambitious things I'd like to attempt to make happen this year and, in order to do them, I have to take this time to really get my discipline (schedule-wise,) techniques, materials, and money, where it needs to be. That means...well, the blogging of thoughts, interviews, and some art bits, takes a heavy backseat.

The whole thing brought me to thinking, though. Its funny how in life we end up in these moments where we are working toward doing "Real work," the sort that a person finds internally (or maybe externally as well) fulfilling. I'm sure I'm not the only one who, in a sense, has had to do "The Gear Up," moving all pieces to where they need to be in order to begin the process of starting something.

I guess it's not just with "projects" though. Could be a relationship you're seeking to begin (or rejuvenate,) or a new approach to how you look at life. We all do it. Sometimes its for ourselves, other times for our future, and even sometimes, we do it for the benefit of others. There's something really intersting about that timeframe, where we seek to get it all together.

In those times you really learn a good deal about yourself.

Its funny that, for me, I find my conversations with God really end up having me stop ignoring stuff I was procrastinating to change. Its easy to push things aside, especially stuff that we're really gonna have to work at to get passed or correct. It is always tough but, I'm really glad that it happens. I need those moments, as tough as they are. It's through this "process" that I literally start to feel a freshness come with every striving step forward. On the other side you're probably more equipt for what it was you were trying to do. You had to change to be able to do them.

I hope that is the case with me, here, because the stuff I'm trying to do is really cool and exciting to me. I hope that excitement and freshness translates to the work. I hope it translates to those who'll give it a chance. I hope all the progression I'm striving for, comes through. I hope it will be as worthwhile to experience for others, as it seems to be for me bringing it all together.

We'll see...

- Conduct Lionhardt

Monday, March 26, 2012

Behind on Things

Man, I am totally behind on things. For that, I am sorry.

Freelance and...well, everything else are somewhat of a clash these days. But, I am trying to make things up and get stuff back on track.

I meant to put some tones on that Dr. Divinity page since I posted the layout pencils and then the flat blacks but, I haven't gotten around to it. (Also, I sort of hate how it looks and wanna re-draw most of it.)

Anyways, to get myself back on track, I've started doing most of the stuff on my docket in non-photo blue pencil and going straight to inks and tones. It makes the process go swiftly and I finish things pretty quick.

So, here are some and I'll post some more when I scan them.

again, sorry for falling off on blogging and sharing art.

- Conduct Lionhardt

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Dr Divinity and the Ink

Here's the ink. Next up some gray tones...

Oh, sorry for no notable thoughts. I'm just catching up on some work and have little time. Soon enough, some thoughtful posts, some more NON-comic based art, and two interviews!

- Conduct Lionhardt

Thursday, March 1, 2012

"Creator Owned Day"

I am by NO MEASURE an actual comicbook professional.

Just wanted to put that disclaimer out there. I am not one. I have a few friends who are, I've done some inquiry here and there but, that is not something that I am doing with myself...well, at this juncture anyways.

Still, having always been a part of, in one way or another, the world of sequential artforms, I do keep abreast of notable news items and dates that are relevant to the field. That brings us to today: Creator-Owned Day.

The basis of this day is that its the day of the year in-which comic professionals (and those trying to BE professionals) celebrate the joy of intellectual properties that they themselves own, as opposed to characters that are the property of the companies one can work for. In the last 20 years there has been a huge surge in the amount of industry folks who've broken away from the security (or restrictions, some would say) of the major comicbook companies, and forged independant books, created, and owned COMPLETELY by the writers and artists.

This day is one in which any creator that owns characters or books is given carte blanche to talk up their books, showcase artwork featuring their characters, or tease fans with art of something they have in the works. It's a celebration of independance and creativity.

In honor of the day, you'll find my contributions below.

I've been slowing building up artwork for a book by Bryce Swan based somewhat on his life called "Dr. Divinity...Bookseller!" It's Bryce's creator-owned book, I'm just the artist he came to, to draw it. I had every intention of showing one panel from a sequence, from pencil stage to ink. Unfortunately, my inks died on me a few brushes into it so, all I have is the pencils, for today.

The second drawing is from a project I am still awaiting copyright to go through on before I can say anything about it. I know I said I wasn't a professional. I'm not. But, it doesn't mean that I don't have ideas in the works for a moment where I'll have time to pursue making my own book. I've two copyrights pending, THIS is an early character sketch of what one may somewhat look like.

Man...these are rough. Ha, ha. They were the only things I had for the day which were even remotely close to "creator-owned" though. Hopefully (if anyone looks at the NON interview posts) these were somewhat of a cool distraction. Celebrate independant ownership and creativity, y'all!

- Conduct Lionhardt

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

I got you covered

And, as promised, the cover to "finite." It fits the overall theme and actually has two very distinct things about it which hold large importance to me.

Illustrated with two worn-out brush pens.

- Conduct Lionhardt

Monday, February 20, 2012

The Beauty of NOT getting it...

Below are a few "tries" at a cover for my own personal album, "finite." Thought you'd enjoy a look at some images that just didn't work for what I was trying to "get" as a cover.

So, maybe you are asking why someone would wanna post up some artwork on their blog that "didn't get" what they were going for?

Well, for me I think we (and I WHOLEHEARTEDLY consider myself a part of that "we") have this tendency to become overly consumed with only showcasing the BEST of ourselves that we sort of miss out on the gem that is FAILURE. I've found that the most interesting and well remembered points of growth for me have come completely out of the times in which I have personally messed up what I was seeking to do best. Whether a first (or second, or third) take on an illustration, or performing infront of some people and botching up a few lyrics here and there, its these moments that showed me things about myself, things which I wouldn't have been made to see if it weren't for the lack of perfection in the moment.

I think we need to, at times, be seen and show to others that we're basically all human and flawed, that even those of us with some form of a skill or talent can be faulty or imperfect in those things, despite having had times where we "nail it" or "stick the landing."

I suppose its called transperancy to allow for this open viewing but, as a person who's gained (I suppose) a "following" of any sort, it just strikes me as incredibly vain to only place my greatest outcomes infront of you to see. All this, anything I write, say, or draw, comes from dedication and hard work. Part of that PROCESS is, inevitably, messing up and fixing or reworking things till they land on what we call "success."

These images are things I drew well enough but DIDN'T meet what was needed to the convey well idea of the album, well enough.

There's this unique beauty of "NOT getting it." It causes you to get further than you would have if things had just "gone smoothly." I think people don't appreciate those moments as they should. My "misses" are the things that informed the best things I've ever done. I try my best to not take them for granted. 

What did all this failure produce? Well, tomorrow all will be revealed. Until then, just try and see the beauty in weird a statement as that is.

- Conduct Lionhardt

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Belly Drum

I often do some quick warm-up drawings first thing before I launch into work. This one was the last one I did in ink here, featuring Santa and one of the characters from a graphic novel I'll be drawing for Bryce Swan, meeting up and comparing their belly sizes. It made me chuckle and Bryce seemed to appreciate the joke there.

Unless I make the statement otherwise, all my art is for sale, especially these sorts of warm-ups, just in case anyone was wondering (Which I highly doubt they would, I'm just covering bases anyway. Feel free to inquire).

brush pen and pencil, on thick stock watercolor paper. (No idea why I drew on that paper stock)

- Conduct Lionhardt

Blog is back and, oh, I have an album out

Sorry. It has taken forever to get to a point where I can blog.

I feel like I've been neglecting this place... even though most of what I've been away doing was FOR here. I wanted to make sure that I was in the right frame of mind to blog consistently AND that I had some visual stuff for you guys to see. The format of the blog will remain the same (for the most part) as I seek to make mention of some stuff worth thinking about but on top of the usual banter and occasional interview with people I find interesting, I really just want to share some artwork, if that would be fine. So, expect a few images on here later today.

My time has also been occupied with preparations and work on some music I'm involved with. The process of creation with music is slower than that of art. Art, I just wake up and draw on some boards and a few hours later I can present it. Music...there's mixing and mastering, marketing it to people, finding production to rap on...its all this stuff. Even fast tracked, it can take months or a year to release stuff...unless you do a track at a time and, HONESTLY who wants THAT?

So, that brings me to this final point, I do have a project me and my friend (Jordan Santana) did last summer. He and I go by "The Royal Applebaums" (as much a tribute to the great Wes Anderson film "The Royal Tannenbaums" as well as a tip of the hat to Tribe Called Quest's classic, "Bonita Applebum"). Just an EP of 8 tracks, on production from Swedish producer Error96. We rap about a few things people experience and/or struggle with in this life. It is called simply, "Earth."
I hope you guys enjoy it. (If so, tell a friend to check it out as well)

 I really am looking forward to sharing my thoughts and bringing art and interviews to you all, once again.

- Conduct Lionhardt

The Royal Applebaums "Earth" EP