An Artist’s Life: Art for Myself, or Art for Fans?

I believe there is no right or wrong way to promote ones self. The internet makes it much easier these days to show off your stuff and draw some fans. Lately in an attempt to draw more attention to my brand I have included some fan art into my collection. For the past few months I have created a series of pen and gouache drawings and paintings based on the legendary game Mortal Kombat. I myself am a fan of the game and play on regular basis, though I am awful at it. Knowing the depth of popularity of that game and a huge fanbase around it I gave it a go at infiltrating it and draw some people to my art. Of course in order to stand out from hundreds of other artists that are also in the crowd I spught to put my own spin on the game’s design; considering the games notoriety for its over the top violence and gore I presented its colorful cast of deadly ninjas, assassins and mercenaries as cute and adorable dolls, like the Mini Me of Austin Powers nemesis Dr. Evil, or in Japan which is more commonly referred to as chibis. In doing so my once sluggish Twitter and Instagram accounts really picked up and follower count grew exponentially.

Now I am aware that fan art is a pretty sensitive subject in the art world; I am making art based on someone else’s creation, so it is pretty akin to stealing the other artist’s idea. There are quite a handful of articles online, not to mention those nagging voices of your art professors and advisors from way back when, that strongly condemn such practices, warning of possible legal and ethical breaches.

But on the flip side artists copy each other all the time. Even the great Pablo Picasso once quoted

Good Artists copy. Great Artists steal.

Picasso

Maybe you are stuck in that awful artist block and look to other works of art for inspiration. Or you want to imitate the style and techniques of your favorite piece of art as a warmup exercise which you can then incorporate into your own original work. Or you worship the artist and want to pay homage to him or her by making a replica of their most famous work and just adding a sprinkle of your own style to it so you are not totally making a photocopy of the original work.

But that still does not excuse one from making art off of someone else’s concept. Worst case scenario is you get your @$$ sued to rock bottom or get locked up behind bars for theft or copyright infringement (especially if you are making big bucks off of it, which right now I’m not so I can say I’m safe from that). It is important for artists to make art that is his/her own so the audience can appreciate your creativity and take you seriously. I hope to one day introduce my more original art to the audience I have gained. Sure I can expect to lose about half of them when they no longer see their favorite MK characters in another wacky misadventures I have created, but I will not stress about that. I will have to find the right time and balance of distribution of my original art and fan art.

Until next time…

An Artist’s Life: Promoting Thy Self

EXTRA! EXTRA! READ ALL ABOUT IT! THE ARTIST IS ONLINE!

Let’s face it. Being an artist is hard. Even harder is telling people about you as an artist.

As a lifelong hardline introvert I get jittery whenever I try to strike up a conversation with a total stranger or present myself to a social gathering. I’ve never had friends nor could I keep the very few that I do manage make. My only true friends have been the ones I would cook up in my mind.

But it has come to my attention that i cannot stay hidden in this closet forever, especially now that I have made it my goal to become a full time artist. With internet and social media nowadays I have absolutely NO excuse to try and put myself in n the spotlight.

So I have steadily taken steps to get myself out there through various social media platforms: Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Youtube- any where I felt that I can make my mark. I would post sketches, work in progress photos, even videos of my work process that I painstakingly edited and compiled myself. I’ve even started streaming myself on Twitch, and while I am garnering a massive 0 viewership it nevertheless has given me some confidence. I’m even forcing myself to talk out loud even if it’s just to myself (course I informed my parents beforehand about this so they won’t keep peeking into my room to see if I’m okay and that I’m not going cuckoo). I’ve also got into gaming as a way to draw more audience to my channel and hopefully lead them to check out my art.

And how is it going so far? Well I have seen some more traffic in recent months and even managed to sell few paintings, although they are mostly fan art. Yes I’ve been doing a lot of fan arts lately I figured that is most popular and draws more audience, but now that’s another story…

An Artist’s Life: The Art of De-Cluttering

Have you ever taken a step back and look around you and realized what fantastic mess you are standing on?

I have no affinity for neatness. Sure once in a while I would take some time to straighten up the clutter in front of me when I have nothing else better to do, then drop the neatness mode and make a mess all over again that goes on for days or even months without stopping. This happens especially when I buy a new item to add to my piling collection of junk that I had forgotten about ages ago. Much of my spending habits could have been curbed if I had taken some time to sift and search through every nook and cranny of my space and find that one sketchbook that still had many empty pages to be filled or a pen that still has plenty of ink to fill 100 pages. No being a lazy bone that I am I assume that I’ve lost it somewhere and head out and buy a replacement.

Probably the only times I actually do take the effort to stop and clean up is when I have run out of the creative juice and in need of the search for a pickerupper. Time to time I flip through my piles of old sketchbooks and past art projects from school and beyond for some ideas. That is when my eyes would open and I can actually see the mess that I had long ignored. That is the first step- the second step, the one I often stumble on, is making the time to clean up the space.

I have really bad handling of time, you see. I often complain and complain that I do not have enough time to get anything done when in reality I had more than enough. It’s the matter of pushing my big heavy butt off the couch and getting a move on. It’s happened so many times I’m not laughing anymore at how much I had missed.

Now with this COVID-19 pandemic forcing many of us indoors there is NO excuse to take this opportunity to follow through with that ‘spring cleaning’ my space I often mulled over. It didn’t stop me from trying, of course, but eventually I settled the time and days that I would organize.

Starting with my desk, it looked like a jungle of snakes running around with all these USB cables and peripherals for my computer smooched in this tiny corner desk space. When it got to the point that I coudn’t figure out which cable belong to which that I decided to get a desktop shelf. Though in this case instead of buying, I made it using old cardboards and newspaper, as you can see below:

So the desk looked clean as a whistle, finally. Now, about these piles of papers, books, and other itty bitty toys I’d stashed away into oblivion of the closet and shelves (even under the bed), and in anticipation for more additions in the future, I got Dad to help put up some extra shelves:

Now with the dust settled I can say I have more space for storage and easier access to things I need to use. I’ve even managed to toss out some empty boxes I had not bee aware of before which contributed to more mess as well as some items I no longer have any use for, though it took a bit of courage to kiss and say goodbye. I always think I would use it sometimes in the future, then forget about it and it would sit there collecting dust. As I once heard, “Close your eyes, throw it away, and forgetabouit.” There is this feeling you get after a days worth of cleaning your room-not only the room is clean, but I feel clean too. And more energized and ready to tackle on new stuff or tasks I have long stashed away.

So the lesson learned: organization really matters. And not only with your room, but your way of life as well.

An Artist’s Life : Keeping Calm Thru a Storm

Life is stormy. No question about it.

Whether it’s this current COVID-19 crisis or your own mental breakdown troubles can come knocking at our doors at any time any where, whenever it darn pleases. And we as humans have no control over it. So what to do about it?

Fight it? Well, how do you fight a storm? You will only end up slipping across the wet grounds and get a bruising or worse, not to mention soaking wet.

Do nothing and ignore it? After all you cannot reason with a storm. Just sit through it and wait for it to pass may seem more logical and less painful, but still does not solve anything.

It’s the same deal as when you are dealing with the Devil inside you. There is no gain from fighting it or ignoring it because it never sleeps. It will hound you and push you around until you break, which is exactly what it wants. Instead you have to live with and work with it, using whatever smarts you have to resist its powers and turn it around to your own benefit. Same goes for the storm of life.

So most every one of us are sitting at our homes, cut off from all human contact except your own family, no where to go since everything is just about closed. Some even have lost jobs and running thin on essential needs. And left and right we are bombarded with one bad news after another, the incompetence of our current world leaders (won’t put names, but you can guess) not knowing when or if a cure is even on the way, and various uncertainties of the future when we can finally get out from our homes.

But moping around in your undies won’t really get you anywhere, will it? As mentioned, if you cannot avoid it, make it work to your benefit.

Like some people may take this as an opportunity to reconnect with their loved ones the way they could not before because of work and/or other life obligations. Others might use this sudden day off from work as a way to catch up on non-work related duties like cleaning the house or working the garden, or even binge watch away those talked about TV shows or movies you had missed. Still another way can be to take up on that hobby you always wanted to try or might have given up before.

It can be done. As Theodore Rosevelt once said, When You Start, You’re Already Halfway There. (Actually I cant remember if he said that or someone else, anyone?) Starting is the hardest part, at least it had been for me. And once I do start, I can keep going and going like the Energizer Bunny.

We can always find some positives out of the negatives, if we just start looking. And when we maintain that mindset we can weather through any storm.

Stay Safe, Everyone.

An Artist’s Life: Art and the Mental State

Does an artist have to be crazy to make great art?

It is a widely known myth that artists are β€˜crazy.’  Vincent van Gogh is the unwitting poster daddy of the crazy artist.  True, artists stand apart from ordinary people in the way they think and present themselves.  Often artists will go against the norms of social behavior and status quo and use the title β€˜artist’ to justify their actions.  But there are plenty of artists out there that are just like regular folks and thrive in their life and practice.  

So which category do I stand on? Actually that’s tough to say. I guess it really depends on what others think. What I might consider normal might be the opposite to others, and vice versa. But I don’t expect to check into an asylum any time soon like poor old van Gogh did, unless I lose my mind and lose all control and sense of thinking. At least for me Art keeps me sane and on steady ground, my escape from real world surroundings when I need a break away from it (and believe me, I’m sure everyone needs such break from time to time).

I admit, that for the past six to seven years my art has been rather dark and depressing, muddled in blacks and whites with muted colors and many looking like a schizo was in town. However you might think of it, I can compare it to Picasso’s Blue Period. But I aim now to move away from the darkness and walk on toward more bright and happy tone. I realized I want more colors in my life and I aim to pursue it in the coming months. Especially with this COVID19 virus scare keeping us indoors I can definitely use some brightening up. I will keep you updated on that progress.

Have a great week everyone, and stay safe.

An Artist’s Life: Dealing with the Devil

The Devil inside, the Devil inside, every single one of us, a Devil inside… – INXS

There are Devils inside all of us. How you choose to interpret that devil is entirely up to you. For me, I see the devil as that dark slimy leech that sits quietly on my back, zapping me of all my energy. They are like weeds, no matter how you labor away into digging it out of the ground, it will sneak behind a tiny seed that will spring back up again in its full glory and give you an eyesore all over again. It never lets you rest until you are dead, quite literally-

Gosh, I could go on forever with these analogy thing, so I better stop. That’s not the point of this story anyway…

I’ve had my own countless battles with a Devil or two. Often in the form of Depression. Which I had since college and that was long long time ago and to this day I’m still taking the pills for, though I’m not sure if it’s even helping me anymore. There are numerous types of depression disorders but I’ve never checked to see exactly what type I have, but I often guess it’s more or less a bipolar type. One day I’m on the extreme high and feel like I can rule the world, the next day I find myself at the imaginative pit of darkness that I can’t crawl out of. Up and down, left and right, it’s like a roller coaster set on infinite loop. Perhaps I don’t really have depression it’s my brain tricking me into thinking I’m suffering from it. Who knows, that could also be the work of the devil, trying to keep me down as much as possible and telling me it is futile to fight it. And just when I think I may have pushed him out of my life and am ready to move forward he pops up again TADA I’M STILL HERE B*@)#!

Either way, the Devil is stuck with me, and I am stuck with him. It will latch on to you and never let go. That is a fact I have since accepted, and learned to live around it. Which of course took many painful years, and it still hurts but that’s what I had accepted as well. There are some things we just cannot fight off, so we have to learn to live with it. The silver lining in that is it can be advantageous to you both mentally and spiritually. And in my case it can add fuel to my creativity. Keeping it optimistic can help a lot in dealing with that devil inside; though sometimes he will get the upper hand, in that case we can learn from our errors, and then get back on our feet and keep walking.

Stay well, and let’s get through this. We are stronger than we give ourselves credit for. No Devil or even that tiny virus can keep us down forever. There is an end and a new beginning. So to quote the popular phrase: KEEP CALM, AND CARRY ON!

Until next time…

t.@.L.L.HAUZ #8

The newest edition of my variety arts zine is now available for limited time online! Grab it while you can!

t.@.L.L.HAUZ Main Page

And from this point on I’m going to focus solely on the zine production. I am planning a special time in the upcoming month of August for new bodies of work, which will be character-based. More about that in the coming weeks. Stay tuned-

The Artist’s Life: A Relapse

It seems that I have missed the last two weeks of blogging. I’m afraid the Demon is upon me again.

And I thought I was strong enough to beat it last time.

Guess I can blame the Lockdown…

An Artist’s Life: Twitching for Attention…

These days it’s easier now than ever for everyone (I mean, EVERYONE) to get their fifteen minutes of fame (which was famously quoted by the legendary Andy Warhol) via such apps as Youtube and Twitch. The latter is primarily for live streaming video games though other activities such as cooking and art are also featured regularly. I could not help but give into the temptation of putting my big pretty face in front of a webcam and show myself playing video games as of late, especially being stuck indoors to avoid the Coronavirus storm and there is only so much of my energy I can really pour all into just drawing and painting (or simply put, when I run into that dreaded “block”). There were couple other reasons too, actually. One was to overcome the “stage fright” I always get when I get myself in front of an audience of any size, big and small. Secondly being an artist these days means I need to really put my @$$ out there in the open and promote away so people can at least see that I the artist actually exist. Now streaming myself playing video games terribly (yes, I play terribly) may not seem like anything-considering this is a very dense field and millions of people go online doing the same thing daily so it takes tremendous effort to stand out of the crop- and has no way to do with my art. But I came to believe there is no right or wrong way to promote myself. Anything I can do to attract some fish to my bait line I must be willing to walk over my limits. And besides I like video games, I always have since the 8-bit Nintendo days, so it’s a win-win.

My Twitch channel should you choose to be interested can be found on the sidebar of my blog page, or on the Twitch site where I operate under the moniker atAaLLGIRL. As of now I have only less than 10 followers and average a paltry 0 viewers. I’m a humorless stiff but I’m trying to change that. Initially it felt weird talking out loud to myself (especially when I read out the subtitles from the games) but on the bright side I get a good tongue exercise out of it. And even if nobody wants to watch me babble on and play a really bad round of Mortal Kombat 11 at least they can browse my channel page and hopefully click on one of the links that goes to my website or other social media channels and find out about my art. Anything to get attention, you know.

Have a Good, Safe, Corona-Free Weekend!

An Artist's Life: Que Sera, Sera

Sometimes the best thing to do in face of a crisis is just let it be…

The year 2020 has taken off with a big KABOOM. And after almost three months in, it’s still only getting started.

The sudden tragic passing of LosAngeles Lakers basketball star Kobe Bryant with eight other passengers on that doomed helicopter flight in Jan 26 (one of them being his daughter) had the City of Angels reeling at its loss, which was felt all around the globe. The news got me feeling numb and helpless, just another reminder that life is short and fragile, and we are mere humans with our days numbered; our life can end in a blind no of an eye and we would not be prepared for it.

Then came the COVID19.

It was apparent that this was a long time coming- the Black Plague that had wiped out a third of the world’s population many centuries ago has reemerged in the 21st Century in a form of a new kind of virus, one that my Dad sometimes affectionately called “the bat flu.” It was nothing new of course there had been other kinds of flu that had nearly erupted into a pandemic years before- bird flu, swine flu, SARS, MERS- among several other non flu related diseases. But this time it’s more serious, thanks to the ineptitude of the authorities drunk by the hush money and and foolish pride this flu managed to reach the finish line the other flu types had failed before, and now to date has seen to nearly 340,000 cases and 19000+ deaths worldwide(Coronavirus tracker, updated frequently). And now with the order issued everywhere for civilians to stay indoors and avoid social contact we have become prisoners in our own homes. Whatever short term or long term plans we’ve made will have to wither wait or bid adieu with no certainty of when this ordeal will end.

And that’s just fine with me.

By now I’ve learned the futility of making meticulous plans and to be more open to whatever sudden changes or hurdles may come my way. I’ve written about this few weeks ago so I know what to do now. I just sit back, relax, drink beer, make art, play video games, eat junk food, watch dumb YouTube videos, all while waiting for this whole thing to blow over. Of course most important of all take care of my health and my parents and survive on hope that we, our families outside this house, and friends across the country and beyond will make it through this storm and in the future this will be just another one of those dinnertime chats.

Here’s a sweet little song to end this rant by the lovely late Doris Day:

Stay Safe Everyone. God Bless You All.

An Artist’s Life: The Home Studio

What are the perks (and quirks) of working from home?

The ever evolving technologies of the Internet has allowed many people to forgo the rush to clean up get ready and combat the nightmarish commute (especially in L.A.) to their workplace, and work from the comfort of their own homes. For some it’s the financial freedom away from the extra bills and monthly rents that comes with running a business. But of course there are some drawbacks to that, depending on your circumstances. If you are single and young it would be fine; if you’ve got a growing family, that’s another matter. Imagine trying to get some reports done under the stress of kids yelling from outside your room, if they even stay outside at all. You know what I mean. The same can be said about art studios.

Unfortunately I do not have the luxury of owning a spacious loft on the top floor of a skyscraper in the middle of downtown. Thanks to my parents I was allowed to set up my art practice in the bedroom I had shared with my sister for many years. Since scrapping the car studio I had searched around for some time for any affordable workspace near where I lived. But if you are living in California these days the word “affordable” is virtually nonexistent; or rather, it will probably get you a minimum of a 4×4 windowless room without a private bathroom (think Extra Space Storage). Now that I got a studio in the same roof where I’m living with my parents I am spared the hassle of battling traffic wasting precious time on the road as well as the expenses that follows such as gas and parking. It has now been six months now since I have started my studio and here are few things I have learned, the upsides and the downsides of working from home as an artist:

The Pros

  1. As I mentioned before, there is no need to dress up and hit the traffic. No waiting behind the wheels with every car moving inch by inch, no nutjob drivers trying to run you down, no worries about that shaky steel pipe that might roll out of the back of that pickup in front of you. And now with this coronavirus pandemic sweeping the globe and goverments issuing orders for citizens to stay indoors makes it that much more convenient.
  2. Ease of expenses. Room rent, utility, internet, fully covered. My parents are not hounding me to pay my share thankfully; after all I am broke and unemployed. I do earn my keep of course by helping around and running errands regularly.
  3. Unlimited access to the studio space. Again since I don’t have to drive out through the nightmarish traffic I can simply walk in and out whenever I want, while living under the same roof. And I don’t need to go through the hassle of dressing up (or down)
  4. Security. All my tools and equipments right in my sight, so I don’t need to worry about any dumb burglars trying to break in and steal them. Yes the house is protected too.

And of course, there be the Cons

  1. Limited privacy. While my parents agreed to abide my working schedule it still does not stop them from occasionally calling me out when they need something. After all my mom is still a patient and needs lots of help. The bigger problem is Dad, who has a bad habit of poking his nose in whenever he darn pleases.
  2. It’s NOT my house. Even though I got my parents’ blessing it still no way means I can turn the room into a fantastic mess. I have to always take care to not stain the carpets with paint or chemicals, and tidy up the space when my work is done for the day.
  3. Isolation. There is that age-old belief that artists are loners and relish in the sense of isolation. That is true to some degree, but even artists need to socialize with their peers from time to time as a way to replenish their mind and spirit, as well as to keep up to date on local happenings and trends. Thanks to the Coronavirus scare however it’s become more difficult to step out to social events, and no matter how good virtual socializing can be it no way replace that natural human need to bond with other beings in physical presence.

When I think about it, it’s pretty clear that the Pros outweigh the Cons; I am learning to to adjust and adapt to everything I have listed in the Cons section. The last one is actually a doozy; I’ve been running solo my whole life since grade school that it hasn’t really affected me to this day. I still would like a large loft studio someday, but for now it’s best to hunker down and make my work at the comfort of my home (or rather, my parents’ home, hee).

I must make note here: Everything I write about here is solely based on my own personal observations and not a real scientific fact. So please for the love of God do not take anything you read here seriously and think it can work for you too. Because in this crazy world we live in there is no one-size-fits-all.

Take care everyone, and stay safe in this dark times.

%d bloggers like this: