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Influences and Process – Abstraction

28 Mar
by L. Nichols

I remember the first time I went to a museum and saw abstract art. I was 9 or 10 or 11 (somewhere around there) and we had driven 3 hours from my home town to go to Houston, TX to the museum. I was excited about the Renaissance art and also about the Impressionist art we saw there. They were easily relatable, their representation was obvious. And then I came across the more abstract stuff. I was confused. I didn’t really like them, per se…. but I was drawn to them nonetheless. Looking at them felt like I was fighting myself. I kind of laughed them off and ignored how they made me feel. But as I grew older, I found that I was still drawn to them. I began to understand a bit more about why an artist would choose that path. And I came to both appreciate it and be influenced by it.

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Influences and Process – Playtime!

21 Mar
by L. Nichols

One of the things I’ve fought long and hard to keep is a sense of play in my work and in my working process. Growing up, I was often told that I should not pursue art or anything along those lines as a potential job. Something about “once you’re doing it for money you’ll grow to hate it” or “you should keep it for yourself” or some other such saying as that. Again and again. Now, I’m not going to argue that that isn’t the case at least some of the time. It’s not the same as being a kid and drawing horses/dragons/dwarves/elves (… ahem…) for fun, but I’m also not the same as back then either. But I really couldn’t imagine being any other way.

After doing this for the past few years and finally getting to the point where I am actually working for clients and making some money doing this, I can totally understand why my parents would warn me about not doing what you love for a living. The line between work and the rest of your life can become totally erased if you pursue a field such as art. There’s frequently no 9-5 designation of “work” vs “play.” I know this line for me has become incredibly blurry; in some sense, I am what I do. I work weird hours. I work when I feel like it. And, honestly, I work way more than I would in a “real job” (as my parents seem to put it, i.e. “L., when will you get a real job?”). It has taken me years to find some sort of balance in how I feel about my work.

Work. Just saying the word brings up connotations of waking up early, being tired, bringing home the bacon (so to speak). In physics, it is the is the amount of energy transferred by a force acting through a distance. Going up stairs is work. Lifting heavy things is work. In art, people talk about “bodies of work,” their pieces are considered “works.” Work is that responsible thing that grown-ups do, the sign of maturity. Playing and things that seem like play are for the young ‘uns. But playing is where we learn! Playing is important, too! Playing is not just for kids! We should embrace playing as something vital and important to our growth as human beings.

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Too Many Muffins

18 Mar
by Darryl Ayo

Years ago, I worked at a cafe and had a good enough time doing it. At one point, we had two kinds of muffins. We had plain muffins and blueberry muffins. One day, we switched pastry vendors and ended up getting shipments of muffins like you wouldn’t believe. It was a cornucopia of muffins. Every kind of muffin you could imagine. Customers’ faces would light up and they’d ask us what the different kinds of muffins were. And halfway through listing them all, the light would fade from their faces and it was obvious: the person was not going to be buying a muffin.

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16 Mar
by Kevin Czap

Jaime Hernandez, if the scene sucks, you suck

While there are certainly endless avenues to explore just in the vicinity of the craft of comics (and believe me, I could pass the night away just gabbing about them), I think sometimes it helps to step back and get some perspective. A breath of fresh air if you will. It’s important to remember that comics, like any art, is directly tied to the living complex culture that they’re created in. Regular human beings put in the time and effort to make these amazing things that effect us so significantly, and I think it’s useful to think about environments that these folks live in. Continue reading

Another Day, Another Slay

11 Mar
by Darryl Ayo

I’m not a real cartoonist, I’m an impostor. I have a day job. Nine-to-five with a paycheck that comes like clockwork and health benefits. With the rise of the full-time professional independent cartoonist, I have felt as though my day job makes me less of an “official” cartoonist than some of my peers.

But this, right here, is how I can feel 100% official, even while I’m spending most of my time in the office.

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9 Mar
by Kevin Czap

Joanna Newsom Ys

…we move within his borders
Just asterisms
in the stars’ set
We could stand for a century…
— Joanna Newsom, “Emily”

An asterism is a collection of stars seen in the night sky that appear to form a pattern. The star patterns we see, like the Big Dipper, can be light years apart in reality, but their apparent proximity lets us connect the dots to create a picture in our minds. Our constellations come out of this phenomenon originally, when preceding human cultures were able to form stories from the shapes they perceived in the heavens.
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The Magic of Design

7 Mar
by L. Nichols

In English, the word design is both a noun and a verb (which tells one a lot about the nature of the English language). As a noun, it means – among other things – ‘intention’, ‘plan’, ‘intent’, ‘aim’, ‘scheme’, ‘plot’, ‘motif’, ‘basic structure’, all these (and other meanings) being connected with ‘cunning’ and ‘deception’. As a verb (‘to design’), meanings include ‘to concoct something’, ‘to simulate’, ‘to draft’, ‘to sketch’, ‘to fashion’, ‘to have designs on something’. 1

When I first read Flusser’s essay about the nature of the word design (About the Word Design 1), I was simultaneously floored and also a little angry.

A designer is a cunning plotter laying his traps. 1

As someone who studied engineering, as someone who works as a graphic designer, as an artist, I felt attacked , accused of blatant deception. But the more I thought about what he was getting at, the more I realized that there was a definite basis of truth to the claim of designer as a trickster/deceiver. Maybe being a deceiver isn’t such a bad thing.

I always hear comics people talking about design. Page design/layout. Character design. Book design. Website design. Etc. etc. etc. But what does this really mean? If we agree that design is about deception and manipulation, is tricking/being tricked really such a bad thing?

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Looking Funny

2 Mar
by Kevin Czap

drawings by Vincent Giard

A while ago, the ever-inspiring Frank Santoro wrote up a little soapbox on Comics Comics about drawing style. His position seemed to be a yearning for artists who were mean with a pencil in that representational way Noel Sickles, Alex Toth and Jaime Hernandez (his examples) were known for. Frank was wondering where all the naturalism had gone, seeing a trend away from this style of observational drawing in alt comics. What there tends to be a lot of is what Frank terms as mannerism, or affected drawing.
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Look Around You – Reading Images

23 Feb
by Kevin Czap

Ilya Kabakov The Man Who Flew Into Space From His Apartment

Above is an photo of Russian artist Ilya Kabakov’s 1984 installation, The Man Who Flew Into Space From His Apartment. The installation consists of a small apartment that you enter and explore, consisting of about three rooms. The third room, shown above, is closed off, the doorway boarded up making it possible only to peer in at the scene from the outside. This decision, by keeping the viewer from entering into the space and really exploring, makes the piece more of an image. There’s a very limited – frontal – point of view with which to see the work, and so the artist is able to control what we see and how.
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Influences and Process – Tricks of My Trade

21 Feb
by L. Nichols

As a follow-up to my post about Rilke and work ethic, I thought I would talk a bit about various work strategies and some of the ways I implement them into my practice.

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