Friday, January 3, 2014

WINTER IS COMING…


Yes, it is definitively coming, with already 2814 hours full of pure artistic and creative experience. The 10,000-hour goal seems far far away but in the meantime the numbers are still adding up. Is it a coincidence that the number of hours equals the number of the space sector assigned to earth by the guardians of OA to the Green Lantern Corps? I think NOT! Well, it WAS a coincidence, but with this we have established three facts: 1. - I’m working my ass off to reach my infamous goal of mastering art, mostly in comics (Yes! That is considered art. In fact, it is the ninth art. If you don’t believe it, Google it!); 2. - That I am indeed a geek, with a certain purity I might add, and not with commonly welcomed upcoming geek fad (Big Bang Theory, anyone?); and 3. - That I love comic books, consequently, why I draw them in the first place. I can’t help to think that at this stage someone reading this paragraph is shouting inside his head “NEEEERRRDDD” like Homer Simpson.

Anyway, It is now 2014 and winter is indeed coming. I remember when I was living in New York City and everybody was scared to death of the winter. Yes, it gets really cold up there. This is not the case for me anymore, I moved back to my home country, Ecuador, where I’m cementing the pillars, expanding the roots, and probably getting more used to it by the minute. Winter is coming but not like you imagine. I’m pretty sure I’ve said this before, or probably I’ve read it and it got stuck in my mind, but here in Guayaquil city everything is backwards, and the best example is the weather. This is surely because we are right in the center of the world (in the equator), but here winter is hot, very hot. It climbs up to 104 degrees Fahrenheit, and it rains, a lot! The rainy season also brings out an infinite amount of crickets and they are disgusting and annoying. I’m not actually looking forward to it, but it IS coming! You know what else is coming? My big break! At least I hope so. This is the year that I will fully work towards getting a job in the comic book industry. Maybe it is too soon, but that doesn’t mean it can’t happen, right? Only time will tell, and if it doesn’t happen, well, at least I will have more knowledge and experience to have better odds in 2015 right. I think perseverance is the key, I really do. I have many projects that I want to do this year and I will post each one of them here. I hope they are as entertaining for you as they are to me.

Ok, so let’s bring you up to date. I’m a freelance artist who graduated last year from the School of Visual Arts (SVA) in New York City, majoring in Cartooning and Illustration. I have divided my working hours in four categories:

COMICS

This is my dream job and it takes around 40% of my working hours. This is mainly my comic work. I try to do this every chance I get and remember that I have to write the plot and the script, draw the thumbnails, draw my pencils, ink them, color them, letter the words and finally edit it. It sounds like a lot of work and you know what, it IS. In order for you to get the amount of work I spend in a page think that it takes me around two days to finish just one, sometimes even more. There are approximately 22 pages in a standard comic book so it takes me around two months to finish one without any kind of interruption. That is why it is a collaborative field, because it is so time consuming. Currently in the industry there are pencillers, writers, cover artists, letterers (sometimes they are done with fonts in the computer, as I do), inkers, colorists, etc. My main idea is to create an ashcan comic. What is an ashcan comic you may wonder? Well, wonder no more because I have the answer for you. An ashcan comic is a standard comic book printed usually in black and white (just inks) printed in lower quality pages than mainstream comics, with its sole purpose to be shown to art directors, artists, and editors mostly in comic conventions. I think it’s a great way to show your storytelling abilities and drawing techniques to someone. I think this is a much better way to get someone’s attention rather than the typical portfolio. Of course, there is nothing wrong with showing a portfolio, especially if it is a strong one; I just tend to prefer the former rather than the latter.

My plan is to finish my very own issue of The Flash focusing on a character that was erased from continuity. His name is Wally West and he donned the Flash costume for a little bit more than twenty years. He was just erased from DC Comics continuity due to editorial and financial strategies. Now it is like he never existed in the first place. This issue gives some closure to fans and since it will not be used for commercial gain, I’m not breaking any law, am I? I should talk with my lawyer about that. Still, I’m lucky if that comic book gain as much followers as the hours I spent making those pages. The strategy is to print them in high quality paper and do the entire coloring myself, so it will actually look as a published comic book. I hope I get some raised eyebrows when I give those for free but I’m way too realistic for my own good. Still, it will be my best work and I hope that much would be appreciated. The good news is that I have already finished the pencils and now I just have to ink them and color them. I will upload one page per week as a webcomic, which will be up in the following weeks. I will be sure to let you know the proper link to it. I can’t show you much but I can show you a couple of pages done in digital pencils. They are not as tight as I would prefer but since I will be inking those pages myself there is no need to go tighter.

Page 11 of Flash Comic
Page 12 of Flash Comic

DC DAILY CHALLENGE

So to spice things up I decided I will be drawing and posting a DC Comics character everyday for 2014. It is a tough challenge but I do enjoy it very much. Of course there are days that I don’t feel like drawing a comic book character, and there are those days that I just can’t draw, so I decided to start in October by drawing at least 52 characters until New Year’s. (Oh my God that number again!) That way I get the pressure off my back and at least I know I can get my Sunday fundays back. It is amazing how much you can improve by drawing everyday. My poses are more dynamic now and I’m pretty satisfied with my recent illustrations. The only problem with this tactic is that at the time I get to post them I already have found tons of mistakes and thought about ways I could draw them better, but I had to let go and just post them the way I intended because if not it takes too much of my time. At first I though them as warm-ups, but later on I decided to do complete illustrations with backgrounds and everything. The only thing I decided not to do is heavy shading. That takes way too much of my time and for the purpose of the challenge it is fine leaving them as flats. Still, I think they look really good and my purpose is to increase my followers in Instagram, Twitter, and Tumblr, and probably get DC Comics to notice me. Why DC? Because I love those characters and those were the ones I grew up with. WARNING: Do not expect a Superman right off the bat, I’m focusing on obscure characters first so I can experiment on them. After all, there are 365 characters I want to draw. Each drawing takes me around two and a half hours to finish and probably 30% of my working hours monthly. Maybe next year I will do Marvel but not this one. I’m sad to tell you that I can’t show them through this blog though. You will need to follow me:

·      Instagram - @journeystudios
·      Twitter - @bielero
·      Tumblr – Mastering Art

Here is a silhouette preview of one of my illustrations with the real background. Can you guess who it is?
Who is he?

DIGITAL PORTRAITS

This is my current venue to make money while I’m also aiming for my dream job. It takes around 20% of my production time. Although this is not my main goal artistically, it doesn’t mean that I’m not prepared for it. I can’t deny the fact that I see myself also as a portrait artist. Drawing portraits was my passion when I was in high school and I never stop drawing them. There were a lot of interruptions until I made the wise decision to study art, but nevertheless, I never actually stopped on trying to get the likeness of a person. I am grateful for the customers that have had faith in me in doing this since I don’t yet have a lot of work to show them. God bless them!

But I have to add that I have met some resistance in this field by some people, mainly because they do not understand what I actually do. You see, an alarming rate of people do not fully comprehend the term “digital painting”. I have had some situations where I had to explain my methods and still they do not get them. I don’t mean to be rude to those people, not at all, but it seems my country is not aware that this is the future. I don’t think traditional painting will cease to exist, but I firmly believe digital painters will increase in their numbers and hopefully they will be perceived as what they really are, artists. Yes, some people truly believe that I take photos and Photoshop them into portraits. I don’t know, maybe they think I do this with the click of a mouse and a good filter as they do in the Instagram app. To tell you the truth, those people could not be more wrong. Anything I do digitally I can do traditionally in any medium (oils, acrylic, gouache, etc). Why? You may ask. It is because I use the same principles of building up color. I start sketching with my digital pencils and then start painting on my digital canvas playing with opacity levels. It is like applying traditional paint. Of course there are some shortcuts or let’s say, techniques that makes your work not necessarily easier or better but faster. Three that I come across frequently is the command+Z (or most commonly known by Window users as Ctrl+Z) that lets you UNDO your mistakes. Yes, that is pretty convenient specially when you are experimenting in the painting. You could say that is cheating (which I find absurd since it is not a competition), but you have to take into consideration that traditional artists usually do this prior by composing in thumbnails sketches or color studies. Digital painters should do this, but we sometimes don’t, and that is why the undo features come in handy, because we CAN do it. Another advantage is the CUT & TRANSFORM feature. It helps you to reorganize the composition or fix proportions. This cuts some time off in the pencil stage because we know we can fix the proportions later by doing this. Finally, I always use the beloved tonal correction feature. This lets you modify the saturation, intensity, brightness, contrast, hues, luminosity, etc. It is like magic and it works great. It doesn’t change the values and the changes are minimal but they do make a difference. This is also because we, digital painters, have cut off some time in the preliminary color studies, as a traditional painter would do. Needless to say, I draw using a Cintiq (think of it as a huge iPad) and no, I don’t draw with my finger but with my partner in crime, the optical pen (You can see it on my self-portrait). In short, I use traditional techniques with some technological advantages and draw and paint the same way I would do with a traditional medium.

The great advantage with digital painting is that it can be printed in many ways and many sizes due to its resolution, but one thing is for certain, it has to be printed in Giclee and in an establishment that make prints specifically for fine art. I have full confidence in Prints Giclee Shop. Also, there is an article saying more or less what I’m saying in this section. It is a fascinating read for someone interested to learn more of digital painting. How to paint using traditional techniques. I will be showing three portrait paintings I made digitally, one is my self-portrait titled “The endless planning stage” and the others are two commissions of the daughters of a good friend of mine. I’m including the videos sped up to a ridiculous 6,000% so you can see the entire process. Thanks Carlita!

Self-Portrait "The Endless Planning Stage"

Ani 
Carlita






INSPIRATION

You can’t neglect your sudden urges to do, well, whatever the hell you want, so you just do it. This takes 10% of my working time, more or less, maybe more in the holiday season. Some of them may have ended up as commissions and some of them were made specifically as gifts. Without a doubt this is something I truly like. I don’t know, I can’t shake the feelings that when I give art as a gift I think the person would have enjoy more, I don’t know, a watch. Even though it takes time to make those pieces and I think that is what makes them valuable. I guess I’ll never know but I put my heart into my gifts. I made illustrations for my nephews, Oswaldo José ended up as Flash running through the speed force vortex, and Alejandro flying through outer space as a member of the Green Lanterns Corps.

Oswaldo Jose as Flash
Ale as Green Lantern

Also, I worked on a black and white silhouette for my sister in law. What is even more special for this one is that I painted it with white gouache painting over a black board. When you go digital is hard to go back to traditional, mainly because of the messy factor. Also, my studio is not built up for traditional painting anymore. So, it would be much easier to fall back to digital but I thought for this type of illustration it would be much cooler to be done on board. I really liked her grace in this pose. She is a terrific dancer and I hope this does her justice.

GiGi

Another illustration I’m proud of is a Hulk I made for Big Rafa. By the way, Thanks Rafa! The approach was exactly as I would make a digital painting and I truly enjoyed it. I will be uploading the pencils version (since I did it traditionally on Bristol Board) and the digital final version as well. I changed his face from the pencils, I really don't know which one I like best.
Hulk Pencils

Hulk Digital Painting

There’s also this Batman I made for my nephew Leo for his birthday using the same approach I did with The Hulk. I do have a video for it so you can see the entire process in making a digital painting.

Batman The Dark Knight


You know that I used to run marathons? Well, you should if you have read my previous posts. I think I have used running marathons as metaphors all the time. In any case, in the family gift exchange I had to give my cousin Leonardo a gift. Since I used to run marathons with him what gift is better than the gift of art? Mmm… probably a watch, right? Anyhow, I hope you liked it Nao. This is a digital painting as well, but I used more painterly approach. I used specific brushes to give the impression of an oil painting.

Nao - Chicago Marathon 2009

Finally here’s a Joker bust I made just for the hell of it, and another one that I made inspired by my friend, the one and only, Eduardo Risso. Google him, his art is exquisite and nobody spots blacks as he does.

Joker Bust Painting
Joker Noir

CLASSES

Ok, so we have already categorized 100% of my working hours, but I also spend some valuable time watching tutorials or attending art classes online. I try to do them whenever I have free time, and my wife hates it. I know that in the bottom of her heart she understands how important this is for me and how much I love her for supporting me. Or perhaps she will eventually snap and kill me in my sleep. Let’s hope for the former. I must recommend the CG Master Academy (2d.cgmasteracademy.com), which focus mainly on 2d animation. Although animation is not the same as cartooning or sequential art for lack of a better word, they share the same drawing principles. Here they offer several classes such as: Perspective, Dynamic Sketching, Character Design, Creature Design, Digital Painting, Environment Design, etc. I took The Analytical Figure Drawing class that is taught by Michael Hampton, author of the book “Figure Drawing Design andInvention”. He is a great teacher and it’s an amazing class where you really learn the complex structures of the human figure. There is another online school that focuses mostly on comic books (www.comicsexperience.com) I haven’t yet taken any course here but they seem really good and I had the pleasure to meet the teacher for the coloring course, Chris Sotomayor. If you want to learn how to be a mainstream comic book professional in the industry, this is one of the best ways I must say. Here are some examples of the homework I made during my class at CGMA.











I have many projects and I will be writing about them in this blog, but let me tell you some privileged information. This year I will be writing my first novel. I’m not a writer per se but I’m familiar enough with the narrative process. It is a great story, and I hope it will be successful, but if it is not, at least I did it, and mark my words, this year it will be done.

To end this entry I leave you with some wisdom by Andrew Loomis regarding talent: “The term ‘talent’ needs clarifying. To any man who has slaved to acquire skill in his art, it is most irritating to have his ability referred to as a ‘gift’. Perhaps there is one genius in a hundred years or more who can achieve perfection by ‘divine inspiration’. I have never met such a man, and I do not know any successful artist who did not get there by the sweat of his brow”.

May you have a Happy 2014 full of goals and dreams! The road to happiness is to live your life the way you wish to.

Godspeed,

JO

Jose Molestina
Journey Studios

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

BACK TO UNREALITY


Now that school’s over I had to make some serious changes in my life. Nobody likes change, or at least, nobody welcomes it with an anxious-free attitude. The reason for this is mainly because even minor changes can screw with your routine, comfort and an already established efficiency. It’s been four months since my last entry and I hate to admit that I have not drawn enough. That does not mean I haven’t been busy. In these months I had to move from New York, one of the greatest cities and the art capital of the world to my hometown, Guayaquil, in Ecuador. It may sound as a downgrade, but this is simply not the case. You see, I love my city and my country, and there are apparently some advantages here that New York could not have offered me, ever! Let’s start with the fact that I have my family here, which support me no matter what crazy idea pops into my head. Also I have a lot of connections here. Living in a small city for around 30 years will do that to you. Food is cheaper and time goes slower. It is hot in here, and it will get hotter in the winter, go figure. It sounds as if I’m saying it backwards, but lots of things are backwards here and that is one of the facts why I love it so much. Space is an important factor since in New York I had none, at least compared to what I have here. For instance, I designated one room as my man cave/studio/comic room. All the inspiration I can get in one place. I even have a vintage comic book roulette rack. So it took a lot of effort and time to build my perfect spot for working, so it would be absolutely wrong not to brag about it ;) Here are some pictures of it and I have made a list specifying some of the stuff I have in it so you can know me better. I’m pretty sure you will end up with some opinions about me and you may not be wrong about some of them.

Panoramic Picture of Journey Studios

Journey Studios 1

Journey Studios 2 

Journey Studios 3


69 Things to Brag About
  1. Mask collection.
  2. Original art of Eddie by Derek Riggs. (The official Iron Maiden illustrator)
  3. DC Eaglemoss figurine collection. (almost complete)
  4. Lots of art books and references.
  5. Lightbox. Never use it, and I don’t think I ever will L
  6. Soccer Trophy. Granted, it was from elementary school and we ended up sixth but they still gave it to us as consolation price. I have no idea why the hell I have it. I play no soccer whatsoever.
  7. Favorite Flash cap.
  8. Drafting table. The one I used in New York.
  9. Comfy chair. Kind of expensive though.
  10. Portable easel when I feel like painting with traditional tools. Sadly I have no room for it at my place so I think it will stay that way for a while. Also oil painting stinks the whole apartment.
  11. Vintage comic book roulette rack.
  12. The Flash cardboard. (Wally West)
  13. Batman statue. (Museum Quality)
  14. The Hulk. (He is always angry as you can see)
  15. Golden Link of the Legend of Zelda. #Truefan
  16. Darth Maul with mechanical legs. (Sideshow Collectibles)
  17. Luke hanging from Cloud City after learning the truth from his father. Honestly, ruling a galaxy as father and son doesn’t seem so bad.
  18. Journey Studios. (Based on my signature JO)
  19. My beloved Cintiq. www.wacom.com
  20. UPS voltage regulator. Believe it or not, blackouts happen regularly.
  21. Favorite mug of the Man of Steel.
  22. iMac.
  23. Comic-con badges. Yes, I collect them too.
  24. Cork with lost of essential information and reference. Also I have a picture of my nephews up there.
  25. Marathon finisher medals. (New York, Miami, and Chicago)
  26. A3 Hewlett Packard printer.
  27. TV used as an extra monitor.
  28. Darth Vader helmet.
  29. Poster of Showcase # 4. (First appearance of the silver age Flash)
  30. The Flash placemat with his origin revealed.
  31. Poster of Eduardo Risso’s illustration of 100 Bullets, dedicated to me of course.
  32. Conan O’Brien sculpture I made of clay.
  33. Coca Cola through the decades.
  34. South Park characters.
  35. Blu-Ray collection and some small books.
  36. Original Art by Greg LaRocque. Favorite interpretation of the Flash.
  37. Manga collection. (A very small one)
  38. Favorite trade paperbacks.
  39. Female figure Artist Model. (The male is lying around somewhere)
  40. Absolute hardcovers.
  41. Victoria Secret catalogs. (They are used for reference!)
  42. Comfy chair again. It is so good that it needed to be mentioned twice.
  43. I guess the Superman cup is as good as the chair since it’s already on the list.
  44. Flash mouse pad. (I guess you’ve figured it out already. I like The Flash)
  45. Gentle Giant Star Wars Bust collection.
  46. The Flash by Alex Ross.
  47. Pull up bar to stretch my back. Rarely used for exercise.
  48. Rorschach bust.
  49. DC Comics superheroes lithography by Warner Brothers.
  50. Leia in the golden bikini of course.
  51. Storm Shadow bust.
  52. SVA Graduation cap.
  53. Kingdom Come Superman statue sculpted by Alex Ross.
  54. Star Wars statues collection.
  55. Other statues.
  56. The Joker statue collection.
  57. Custom Joker statue. Who is the artist I wonder?
  58. The Flash collection.
  59. Comics. Lots of them.
  60. Munny Flash painted by Jo. (That’s me)
  61. Resin statue made by Jo.
  62. More trade paperbacks.
  63. Even More trade paperbacks. (That Flash hardcover is in Italian)
  64. Dylan Dog collection (in Italian of course) donated by a good friend of mine.
  65. Luigi, number one! (This time number sixty five)
  66. Mug of the Flash and me, given as a gift from my brother.
  67. Books.
  68. Preacher action figures.
  69. Souvenir from my honeymoon. A man drawing on a drafting table made of tin. (Granted, the tin figure is supposed to be an architect, but you get the idea)

It is important to add that there is no comic book market here. Ok, so anybody with an inch of common sense will argue that this is not such a good scenario for me, a freelance artist who specializes in drawing comics; but the fact of the matter is that there is a lot of potential on this virgin soil and I’m one of the few who knows how to do this kind of magic (comics) in this city and probably in the whole country. It’s true that I’d have to start a campaign in order for people to start caring more about graphic novels at all, but if I would have to guess, and correct me if I’m wrong, there is a strong tendency in the world of people taking what I do more seriously. I still have to battle with some people who cannot, for the love of God, understand what I do for a living, after I have explained it to them thoroughly. It is not a popular career here in Ecuador, and I don’t think it will be anytime soon. I don’t blame people for not understanding. It seems that in third world countries, politics, businesses, and agriculture dominate the economy; art, on the other hand, occupies the last entry in the priority list. Things are changing though, slowly, but they are changing, and I will be part of this cultural shift when storytelling and art takes an important role in Ecuador. Create awareness seems like a lot of work, especially if I am eager to make some money doing what I love, so my plan is to sell my products to international markets right away. The good news is that I do have some commissions but they are not precisely in the comics department.

Portrait of my sister Mariella

In any case, this is my home now and I’m happy to be here, however, I’m also nostalgic and kind of regretful of leaving New York behind. The city that never sleeps made possible my biggest dream, so I will always be in its debt. Hopefully I will be back to visit soon in order to walk those noisy but beautiful streets under a 14 degree Fahrenheit morning to get to one of the many great restaurants in the city to have an unparalleled brunch. So yeah, I miss it, a lot. Like people say, “You will love to hate New York”, but now that I’m not there I can only think good memories of it.

So now that I have no classes to go over with you, what are we going to cover? You see what I mean with minor changes? The task of achieving 10,000 hours doing art is still going on so I guess I will show you my progress and cover the most interesting phases of my life while showing you my latest work. I hate to admit that I will not be showing every piece as I did in previous posts when I was in school. The reason for this is that I have to be more careful in showing my content. I’m afraid of people illegally using my images and sometimes I will be legally obligated to restrain myself of showing some artwork. In any case, I will upload whatever I can even if I have to watermark some of my work. The idea is to get my art out there so, what are you waiting for, spread the word. The only way to be great at this is with the help of the fans, or some publisher who can see not only the talent and sacrifice, but also the potential in me.

Soon I will be uploading my new website, and not to worry, Master Art Skills WILL be a part of it. I don’t want to spoil the surprise but I can tell you this, the name of my studio will be Journey Studios. You see, my family and my closest friends call me Jo. It all started when my sister, Mariella, was just a baby and could not say my whole name, which is Jose Luis by the way. So she started calling me Jo 20 years ago and somehow it stuck. I decided that if some people change their names to help recognition and awareness, my artist name could easily be changed to Jo. Why Journey Studios you ask? Well, it starts with “Jo” right, but I have put more thought into it, believe you me. The Journey was the first mini-comic I made in Jessica Abel and Matt Madden’s storytelling class. It was a compilation of all my homework in that class but it was my first comic nonetheless. It seems premonitory now that I think about it. This has been and still is, my journey, so without further ado here I present my logo designed by none other than my brother Oswaldo.


Journey Studios Logo

Mini-comic The Journey
  
I’ve been doing a lot of illustrations and I’m happy to say they have been well received. I’m trying to post them all via Twitter (@bielero), Instagram (@bielero), Tumblr (Mastering Art / bielero.tumblr.com), Deviantart (bielero), and Facebook (Jose Molestina). Feel free to follow me or request a friendship if you wish to do so. I will gladly accept. I wish there was one application so you could post once and upload them in all the social networks available. Sometimes I spend so much time posting my work when it could have been more productive making more art. Anyways, I don’t think this will happen anytime soon and if you do know one software or app that does this, please do tell me about it.

There are two anecdotes with two of my illustrations. The first one was a comic style painting I made of “El Chapulin Colorado”, which is a character in a comedy about a Mexican Superhero performed brilliantly by Chespirito (You may have heard him in “El Chavo del 8”). I dare to say that the majority of Latin America and mainly my generation hold this actor with high regard. He made our childhoods sweeter and everybody will remember him as what he really is, a legend. The fact that not only he acknowledged my illustration but also thanked me for it and reposted it using his own account in Instagram made me smile for the rest of the day. The second work was a caricature of a well-known politician and now major of my city Guayaquil, Jaime Nebot, who not only thanked me for it but also took a picture of himself holding the caricature. I respect him a lot so it was a great honor to get this recognition. Also via his Facebook account my work reached almost 10,000 likes, which is not too shabby, no, not too shabby at all ;)

El Chapulin Colorado

Jaime Nebot caricature

Jaime Nebot with caricature

I also made a Superman with and angry Lex Luthor, a Batman colored sketch, a Hulk fighting the Marvel Universe using digital inks, the infamous Joker, a new re-imagined Justice League based on the next generation of sidekicks of the DC Universe, and a couple of new superheroes based on two good friends of mine. I don’t think they are too happy on me promoting this illustration but their attitude towards it was refreshing and very positive. Still, nobody paid me for that one; it was paid off with my laughter ;) I made most of them using Manga Studio 5 EX which I highly recommend.

Superman vs. Lex Luthor

Batman colored sketch

Hulk vs. The Marvel Universe

The Joker

The New Justice League

The Buff and The Photogenic Kid


So why is the title of the entry “Back to Unreality? Mainly because although I’m back to reality, meaning that I’m back in my home country making my stay in New York learning art and comics just a great memory, it is not the life I left behind when I first travel there. I’m back, but to be able to make comics in this city feels unreal, bordering in unbelievable. It is a dream come true and nobody can take this way from me. I though it was going to feel weird but ‘au contraire’, it feels just about right. I was always sure that I made the right choice, but now I’m even more convinced that I’m in the right path. Follow your dreams, the payoff is so much greater that you could possibly imagine, and it IS attainable. It took me 3 years of my life, but it may as well have taken me a lifetime or not happen at all if I hadn’t had the courage to make the leap unto the uncertain. I will say goodbye now, but before I do here is a  couple of videos of my process in making the Joker that you can also see via You Tube The Joker Video


video


  video


Godspeed,

Jose Luis




Thursday, May 16, 2013

VENI VIDI VICI


It’s been a while. Four months have passed since my last entry. What was I doing? Have I been drawing? Well, as you can see I’ve been adding hours to my challenge nearly completing 1/4th of my objective of reaching 10,000 hours at the moment of this entry. Still, the one thing I’ve been focusing more is in graduating with a Bachelor in Fine Arts from the School of Visual Arts located in the art capital of the United States, New York. Let me get this straight, graduating with a BFA does not make you a master in arts, not even getting an MFA (Master in Fine Arts), so my challenge does NOT end here. What makes you a master (in Malcolm Gladwell’s perspective and now my own of course) is the accumulation of ten thousand hours. Still a long way to go, and my will to achieve them is still intact. Don’t get me wrong, I feel more confident than before and I have learned new skills and techniques that makes it easy for me to make a professional career now that I have to be in the real world of freelance illustration and cartooning.

Bachelor in Fine Arts
Now everyone says to me that the hard part is yet to come, and they may be partially right. You have to remember that I’ve been in this situation before, back in 2000 when I got my Bachelor in Business Administration. There was as much anxiety back then as there is now. The difference now is that I’m not afraid of working professionally since I did it for ten years before deciding to study again. What I’m concerned is that I don’t really know how this industry is going to welcome me. Is it going to be with open arms recognizing the talent or at least the potential in my work? Or is it going to be harder than I expect with lots of trials an errors and disappointments along the way? Realistically I think it would be a combination of the two. I heard that some professional artists when critiquing your portfolio they can be mean as hell. Their attitude comes from the belief that they have to trash your work and if you don’t let them break your spirit you deserve to be a comic book artist. They literally tell you that you stink and that you won’t ever make it in the industry (It hasn’t happened to me yet, probably because I haven’t showed my portfolio to anyone yet). Let them trash my work if they want, I have the will of a Green Lantern (geek reference) and it won’t be bent. My only fear is fear itself. No, really, let me paraphrase, my only fear is discouragement. I’m afraid that if things go too slow I will be making more business choices rather than art. I still have to earn an income, right. I made it this far and I’m not about to quit now, I just need focus and some incentive :) 

Since I haven’t been able to tell you about my classes for this semester, I will show you my grades first and then I’ll walk you through the work I’ve done for the aforementioned studies with their proper course descriptions. Now without further ado I will present my grades for this semester and also the cumulative GPA (Magna Cum Laude) for the whole curriculum at SVA.

Grades - Spring 2013 semester
Magna Cum Laude

As you can see, I took 5 classes in this semester. I was going to take 6 but I decided that since I didn’t need those extra credits I would go easier on myself this semester and focus more on the important classes. I will be discussing each class in the next paragraphs.

Cartooning Portfolio 2 is a critical class and by far the most important in this semester because I had to build, as you can guess, a great portfolio to show my work to professionals in the field. Remember than in art you don’t need to show your potential employer a résumé. They are not interested in how well you did in class or how many A+ you had, what they really need to see is your portfolio, and believe me they will know your strengths and your weaknesses from page one (considering that they are art directors or artists in general, of course). Your weaknesses just pop up and there’s no way you can embellish them if you have not yet learned those skills. Your portfolio is your life (or at least professionally) and you have to build it and constantly include better and more recent pieces in it so you can make it attractive for the people looking for a freelance artist. Also as important is the fact that I will be doing freelance work since the comic industry is not in the habit of employing artists. They make you agree to contracts for individual projects but you are still a freelance artist nonetheless, hoping that when you finish that job you have another one waiting for you.

The goal of this class was to create a strong portfolio so after graduation you can actually get work in the real world. I built a good portfolio, but I still think it needs more work, at least taking into account my artistic ambitions. My “perfect” portfolio will come in time, or perhaps never since I’m a perfectionist at heart and I will always feel a little apprehensive about my work. There has been a lot of improvement since my previous semester but I believe if I work hard for the rest of this year I will be able to make a great portfolio for next year’s comic conventions.

The main work throughout this semester was finishing my story “Turmoil”, an 18-page comic book that deals with Alzheimer and the turmoil this disease causes in one’s mind. By now I may have spoiled the story for you but although it is a twist just revealed in the second part (first part is shown in my previous entry of this blog), it does not affect the tale as a whole. I also decided to digitally paint the last four pages so I could add more color to my portfolio. I edited the cover you probably saw in my previous entry (if not you should read it now, or at least look at the funny pics) with a basic and yet powerful modification, which make it works better than before. You already know it is about Alzheimer, so by looking at the cover now it makes a lot more sense, I hope.

Turmoil p8
Turmoil p7

Turmoil p9
Turmoil p10
Turmoil p11
Turmoil p12
Turmoil p13
Turmoil p14

Turmoil p15

Turmoil p16

Turmoil p17

Turmoil p18

Turmoil edited cover

I don’t need to talk much about Professional Cartooning since it was a non-credit mandatory class that teaches young artists on how to make a living in illustration and cartooning after school. Based on what I’ve seen, I would dare to say that this class was essential for the majority of my classmates. I’d even say that SVA needs a more comprehensive business class for artists than this one. Even though there was some key information I learned from this class, it was kind of unnecessary. I liked the teacher just fine and it was a fun class, but having a degree in business made the subject a little redundant for me. The class teaches you how to make invoices for Christ’s sake. If I didn’t know that by now then I was living in a hole for ten years. I don’t mean to rant or be obnoxious about it since it was very productive for my classmates. I always have to remind myself that I’m the one who is misplaced studying to get a BFA at 35.

Anatomy was just another figure drawing class, but you know what, I enjoyed it a lot. I was expecting more focus on the muscles and bones and their proper mechanics and what I got was more of the same as prior figure drawing classes. We had to draw a nude model in different poses every week. The pros about this class is that the teacher was really sweet and although she had a fine arts approach on teaching, she really knew what she was talking about. What I found most interesting was the final project. We had to create a new creature based on skeletons on different animals. Then we had to create its skin and its environment. It’s harder than it seems because you have to really research about it and concentrate on why some limbs are the way they are according to its environment, why the skin has its texture, probably for camouflage or for defense against predators. I decided to go for a strong predator. I mixed a sabertooth with a bear and a dinosaur. My research was more complex than just combining the three creatures and my imagination ran wild but you get the idea. Here is the final project along with a sketch I made of Ganesh (Hindu deity and remover of obstacles) at the museum.

Creature in habitat
Creature skeleton

Ganesh

Multiepisodes was a writing class and it taught me how to write a script. I already knew the basics and I learned some new techniques. The final assignment was a full script for a 22-page story, but we have also sketched out the whole story arc, which my teacher thought it was very original story and that made me a happy panda ;). I cannot talk much about this project though, since I will be starting to draw this issue anytime soon and I will be posting those pages in future entries. I also needed a humanities class so History of Religion fitted the bill. It was a fun and interesting class and it broadens your perspective on faith and religion. In any case, this is not a philosophy blog so I will skip this class altogether.

It is important to add that I had my first two commissions as an artist and that is a HUGE deal for me. My very first one was a portrait painting of a very close friend commissioned by her husband who is also a dear friend of mine. He had seen my work through this blog and I suspect he had more confidence in me that I had in myself. Don’t get me wrong, I knew I could do it and I really hope they liked the final piece, but I will always treasure that blind vote of confidence. He didn’t even questioned the cost of the piece and as an artist that is always appreciated it. I think I had come a long way in portraits and I really enjoy making them. Still, I will be a comic book artist first and a portrait artist second. I decided to do something different for her. I wanted to create a triptych consisting on three different approaches and styles. The first approach was a pencil drawing, which was her favorite and the one that comes more natural to me; the second one was a digital painting made in Photoshop. This was my first painting in Photoshop so it was very challenging but at the end I got the results I wanted; and finally, I chose to make a portrait based on comic book line art with some basic grey tones. I really liked the final piece; the only thing is that I won’t be doing triptychs anymore. I don’t know, the fact that the three pieces compete with each other in one piece doesn’t sit well with me. Regardless of that I think it was a successful job.

Susana - commissioned by Mauricio Martinez

The second commission and first sketch comic-con style commission was for my brother. He is pondering the idea of making a custom costume for cosplaying at his next comic convention. I also think it would be great as a mannequin for exhibition. He had this bizarre and great idea of mixing the Star Wars saga with The Game of Thrones. He wanted to mix a Snowtrooper with the bastard John Snow. Hence, the character John Snowtrooper is born. I made some research on the costumes and decided to ink it. I will be painting it soon so hopefully a future entry will show the final piece. By the way, if you desire a sketch, or a portrait for that matter, I’m willing to do them, just contact me through Facebook (Jose Molestina), Twitter (@bielero), Instagram (@bielero), Deviantart (bielero) Tumblr (bielero), e-mail (bielero@hotmail.com) and through this website. Believe you me; if you really want it you will get a hold of me. What say you? :)

John Snowtrooper
Commissioned by Oswaldo Molestina

Finally, I made one illustration based on Wally West, the missing Flash, in Photoshop with a campaign design based on a previous campaign to promote Mark Waid's own comic book to ask DC Comics to bring the character back since it has been MIA since the New 52 (the geek alarm went off), and another sketch with my new Copic markers of Green Lantern. The latter was done very fast on my sketchbook so I wasn’t looking for a professional look but rather experimentation with markers. They are not as hard to master as I’d thought but I still need a lot more practice, and probably a lot more colors along the way.

Wally West aka The Flash



Green Lantern sketch - markers

By the way, here are two pics, one from C2E2 (comic convention in Chicago) and the other from the commencement graduation. The first photo was when I met my favorite artist, Alex Ross. You have no idea how significant was to meet this talented and extremely successful artist two days after I finished my classes at the School of Visual Arts. The other one is when I got my diploma at the commencement in Radio City Hall with my wife and family. This could not have happened without your support and faith in me. Thank you so much, I love you, and I dedicate this achievement to you.

Alex Ross and me at C2E2

#lovemyfamily

The final question remains, do I think that studying at SVA was the right call? To spend all that money in tuition when I could have by self-discipline study on my own and spend much less. Well, it is done, so it is kind of a moot point, isn’t it? Still, I will provide the best possible answer. I could have studied on my own and possibly draw even better by now, which I find doubtful, but in any case, drawing is not everything in this career. I’m pretty sure I took for granted some lessons learned and some I don’t even remember but are ingrained in my brain. It’s easy to look back and say: I would have done this differently, but the fact remains that I did not. My decision was one of the hardest decisions of my life, and it cost me much more than just money. Now, I did it and I can call myself a comic book artist, because I’ve learned the tools, the skills, and the secrets of the trade.  For that I am truly grateful at my wife, parents, family, friends, teachers, and all of the people who supported me in my journey at SVA. I don’t feel like I have already mastered the fine arts just yet, but you know what, that will come in time, probably in finishing those 8000 hours left. I might have been late for the party, but I will definitively be the one who is going to make the most noise. It’s been a hell of a ride!

I came, I saw, I conquered.

Godspeed,

Jose Luis

Ps- I will keep updating this blog until I reach 10,000 hours. Although I reached a major goal in my life, the challenge is not yet completed.