Saturday, August 25, 2012

Tura! Tura! Tura! (Also: Inking)

So I had the honor of being personally invited to take part in Tura! Tura! Tura! 2, an upcoming tribute show to the great, late Tura Satana, of Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! fame out in Palm Springs, California. I will be showing alongside several artists I have looked up to for several years and get to have my work in front of fans from the mysterious west coast. I'm hoping this is the beginning of a prolific phase in my career and other galleries take notice and invite me to take part in more shows.

::cough:: Gallery 1988... ::cough::

The secret I found to getting Tura's likeness as Varla right?
Flared nostrils.
***Editor's note: For the next few paragraphs I go on and on and on entirely too long about inking and my art process. If you're into it, awesome. If not, the above info with accompanying links and pictures below are all you really need to know.***

Flyer for the show by one of my artistic heroes,
the great Mitch O'Connell.

 I'm super excited about this show, as this is my first time testing out my new technique of toning my original inks on vellum with grey scale markers and graphic white on the gallery scene. Anyone who's given me time to flap my jaw about it would know I've *really* wanted to get into the low brow gallery scene for years now, but for the longest time being a primarily digital artist all I felt I could really offer was prints. Which while nice, unless you want to cough up the dough to get nice ones made, it's hard to break in to the kind of price points that original pieces go for. I never thought anyone would want my original inks for my pieces, as I though they were 'ugly' and on various pieces of scrap paper and had a zillion corrections on them.

Digital version!
Up until about 4 months ago my process of creating art was to lightbox my rough pencils onto bristol board and then tighten them up from there, then ink directly on top of raw pencils. While this worked for me for several years, I had noticed that when I transferred my images via lightbox, I lost a lot of the detail and energy from the original roughs. Eyes wouldn't line up, subtle hints of smiles would be lost, kinetic lines that came together perfectly looked stale and forced the second time around. Plus a lightbox can be a bit of a pain in the ass if you don't have a set area for it already, with a nice dark room to use it in and plenty of extra bulbs for when the lights start to dim (which will make tracing an aggravating process). Add to this headache by using a super thick, rough piece of bristol to draw on to, with a very hard pencil (I tend to use a 2H) which will put grooves in the surface of the paper if you dig with a death grip like I do and you're setting yourself up for a potential nightmare scenario. Once I would get to the inking stage, which is going directly onto my finished pencils (that are now all marred from my pencil-diggings), I need to be extra-careful as I only get one real chance. Unless I *really* screw up and have to black out an entire portion, re-draw it on another piece of paper and paste it in in Photoshop. And that leaves the re-sale value of the original pretty much nonexistent. But if I screw it up minimally with the inks I'll have to go over with white-out. Which leaves additional snags as inking on top of pencils means I eventually have to erase the pencils, which if I ink over white-out causes them to smear. Along with the fading that ink tends to suffer from with heavy erasing as I swear by using Microns and other disposable fine-line pens. I've tried brushes and nibs and much like how I feel about painting, it's just not for me. And yes, I've tried Rapidiographs as well, but they are far too expensive and a nightmare to clean. I digress. Anyhow, all of these 'ugly inks' as I refer to them, resulted in piles upon piles of discarded inks around my desk. At my old day job, when we had to move our offices after I had been there for 2 years I realized I had accumulated at least a 1.5" thick stack of inks that I had completely forgotten about, much to the horror of my coworkers who were all familiar with my work. So yeah, I eventually started to realize that I'm kinda sitting on some potential money here and have been trying to find ways to polish up my original inks to the point where my OCD'd ass would feel comfortable selling them.

Vellum is basically a heavy grade tracing paper some comic artists choose to ink on.
A lot of tattoo artists and draftsmen also use it, which are two other types of artists I
have been heavily influenced by.
 I remembered an inking method we were taught back in the heydays of my time at Kubert School, being a vellum overlay taped to your pencils that you can ink on without worry of damaging the pencils underneath. I had messed with it a little at Kubert School, but admittedly my inking has been under arrested development due to a rather possessive former friend who insisted on inking my work all through Kuberts and the years following, so it wasn't my strong suit for a long time. Anytime I did ink my own work, the emotional blackmail thrown at me would put even the most passive-aggressive Catholic mother to shame. Fortunately I kicked this so-called friend to the curb a few years ago and have been trying to play catch-up now that I'm free to pursue my art without worrying about those latched onto my coat-tails. So I gave vellum a shot earlier this year and have fallen madly in love with it, but now I had all of these curled up inks on pieces of vellum sitting around my studio. It was also around this time I was prepping for HeroesCon in NC back in June, and wanted to start drawing commissions at my table and needed a method that would allow me to keep a high standard of work without the need for a computer or digital assistance. If you've already read my HeroesCon recap, you'll know that drawing at my table didn't work out for me so well. I was able to do pretty well with post-convention commissions instead. And plan to do more commissions this way before/after shows in the future. Anyways, so I wanted to have my vellum inks available for purchase as original pieces in themselves outside of my digital color versions I save for the internet and prints. I had noticed there's a cool trend with a lot of convention sketches in recent years where artists will use a set of cool and warm grey markers to fake out colors, to really awesome effects. Adam Hughes is one that comes to mind who does this. And then also there's the sketches of the LA Chapter of Drink and Draw Social Club, which features artists drawing on tinted boards, allowing for white highlights from white-out and gel pens to really pop. These two influences, along with my obsession with the aesthetics of old school animation gave me the bright idea to tone my vellum inks on the opposite side with markers and white-out (though I started moving to paint), resulting in an original one of a kind piece of artwork that matches the digital version.

Original inks, toned with markers and white-out on vellum.
This will be the actual piece in the show.
So yeah, whew! Hopefully with this newly-discovered method of doing things I can *finally* start breaking into more gallery scenes and getting substantially more buck for my bang, as it were. Since all original inks cost me to produce is time, which I feel justifies a higher price tag than just sending stuff off to a print shop. Which helps me financially justify working freelance and keeps me out of yet another soul-sucking day job. So keep an eye out for my next commission deal, I plan on doing more pieces along these lines as well as more art shows in the near future!  

Post-Heroescon commissions.
Keep an eye out on my social media feeds for my next commission offering!

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