Saturday, November 28, 2015

Aftermath: LA trip and Designer Con!

In November of 2015, the week before Thanksgiving my husband Phil and I set out on our first dedicated vacation in over 6 years to sunny Los Angeles to visit friends, go to Disneyland and for me to vend my first West Coast show at Designer Con.

Me being the high strung, workaholic east coaster I am I scheduled full days of activities every day we were there. We flew in Monday night and stayed with our friends Ben and Karen (who you may know as our Best Man from Phil and I's wedding) who had recently relocated to Pasadena from Brooklyn for our first leg of the trip. In fact, MOST of our friends from New York had relocated to Los Angeles in the past year, especially our friends who work at DC Comics. At the time of our vacation, we had actually attended 6 goodbye parties for friends leaving New York City. So visiting Los Angeles we had the unique experience of seeing more of our New York friends out there in the span of a week than we had in the past 6 months back home. Also the weather was glorious and all of our friends had the cutest little houses with adorable little backyards. And omg the marijuana dispensaries out there were blowing my mind. So Phil and I's opinions about LA are… complicated, to say the least. There were a lot of feelings on this trip that we still aren't sure how to process.

Ben and Karen had the cutest little bungalow style house in Pasadena, and with a YARD! I was admittedly a little jealous, especially as it was late November when we were out there and it was in the 80s and sunny all week compared to the rain in the 40s we left NYC in.

Phil, Ben and I made a day trip to Little Tokyo on Tuesday of our trip and I went on a mini shopping spree.I found a super cute little store with cheap-yet-adorable Japanese housewares. I was SO EXCITED to buy sponges and tweezers.

On Wednesday we had an impromptu lunch with the awesomest of artists, the great Coop whom I've been friends with online but had never met in person. I've been a fan of his art since the 90s and was super excited to grab lunch and talk about comics and art.

Thursday we spent the morning and early afternoon at Disneyland and then after a rest went to California Adventure in the evening. OF COURSE I got all dolled up to have my own little pinup adventure in the parks, the weather was PERFECT.

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We hit Disneyland first to check out all the Season of the Force stuff that was up in Tomorrowland first thing. IMHO, Hyperspace Mountain wasn't very impressive. I don't know if it's that this particular version of Space Mountain is the first and thus very old, but all the Star Wars projections were so bright they drowned out the rest of the star lights in the coaster. As far as the rest of Season of the Force, it mostly just seemed like these expansive Target-like shopping pavilions had taken over the floorspace of Tomorrowland, and even for first thing on a Thursday the lines had already gotten a little out of control so we headed elsewhere. Hopefully the dedicated Star Wars themed world they're building now is more impressive. Lol, I'm such a snob. XD

A video posted by Paige Pumphrey (@paigey_pumphrey) on

We also got on the Dumbo ride in Fantasyland. Since Phil and I are not small people, we figured it'd be best to get individual Dumbos (plus I got that floofy skirt!). Halfway through the line I also realized Phil and I were the only adults going on who didn't have some small child in tow, which I found humorous.

After Dumbo we went to get Dole Whip floats and get indoctrinated into the Illuminati, wait- I mean, watch the Enchanted Tiki Room. It was a much needed break in the dark with air conditioning and a tasty beverage.  

After we got out of the Tiki Room it was crazy crowded, hot, and lunchtime. So we decided to dip out, but managed to find the entrance to t he mysterious Club 33 where I could grab a quick photo.

Lunch!! And then a nap!

"No. No. You've got to sign for it."
We went to California Adventure after we ate lunch and took a nap, but we didn't know it closed so early (like 9 I think, we thought it'd be open til 10-11) so we were running around trying to see everything. Def want to go back and JUST see California Adventure when we come back next.

Buuuut- we did get to see THE THREE CABALLEROS, which is one of my FAVORITE Disney movies. Also Jose Carioca is my favorite Disney animal character, with Donald almost immediately behind. So it was a SUPER TREAT to run into such an obscure group.

Friday we spent coming back to Pasadena from Disneyland, then setting up my table for Designer Con, then meeting up with Phil's old coworkers and friends from DC Comics, who had all moved to LA from NYC in the past year. The dinner was a delight, I think it must have been about 20 of us all along a long banquet table at this great Mexican restaurant, all hooting and hollering and being loud obnoxious New Yorkers in Burbank. In fact we had SO much fun we didn't take a single picture. D'oh.

Designer Con:
Saturday and Sunday I spent vending at Designer Con alongside my pal Peter Goode whom I know from the art scene back in Baltimore. He actually curated some of my first group art shows! This was my first west coast convention table and I think I did ok. After just coming off the insanity of New Yoprk Comic Con a month prior I wasn't super blown away by the attendance, especially since I found out that CTN Expo was the same weekend over in Burbank and in all honesty I think THAT was more my ideal customer base. Ending the already packed vacation week with a con table to work was probably also not my brightest idea ever. I was SO TIRED from everything else that I just couldn't muster the energy to be excited about selling. I honesty would have rather been sitting poolside, but alas I was there and may as well make the most of it. It was great to see everyone that came by- I was so happy to finally meet followers from my social media accounts and other artists based in California who I've never had the pleasure of meeting in person. I felt so bad for my friends that I hung out with after the show, I was so tired I almost fell asleep over dinner- both nights!

A video posted by Paige Pumphrey (@paigey_pumphrey) on

I finally got to wear my Luchadora skirt!! A Paigey/Maria/Little Asian Sweatshop collaboration!!

I got to meet awesome Tiki artist BIG TOE! He was such a sweetheart!
With our NYC-turned-LA friends Pat and Jen and their new California baby!
Overall we had a fantastic time in LA. To the point where we almost didn't want to come back, especially with how cold and lousy the weather was when we returned. We def want to go back out there again next fall and see even more of our friends and all their lovely faces and all the cool locales and such.

Monday, November 23, 2015

I designed the 2016 International Nerdlesque Festival poster!

Happy to announce that I'm doing the art for The 2nd International Nerdlesque Festival this April 1st and 2nd in NYC! I had so much fun at the 1st one two years ago that I offered to do the artwork for the next Fest- and here I am! The last festival had so many amazing performances, I was thoroughly impressed. I highly suggest that if you are a fan of pop culture, nerdy stuff and sexy burlesque performances you should def come out to this show! I will also be vending at the festival both nights, so if you come out be sure to swing by my table and check out all my pinup goodies! 

The final versions:
Friday 4/1/15 at Webster Hall
Saturday 4/2/15 at Le Poisson Rouge
Progress pics:

My inspiration for the flyer came from 80's arcade art. I've been a fan of this type of art all my life, a good chunk of my adolescence was spent at the local arcades they had in the Maryland suburbs.

Some of the art I collected for inspiration.
I tried to break down the elements of my favorite pieces- limited palettes, rounded borders and starbursts were definitely takeaways. Even still I would love to do more artwork in this style. I think it's criminally under appreciated nowadays- there's such a masterful incorporation of stripes and geometric shapes. Total retro-futristic stuff going on. Love it. I still have so much to learn about harnessing it's aesthetic for my own work.

My initial sketch. I knew right off the bat that I wanted a Statue of Liberty figure with a burlesquey/sci-fi spin- adding a bubble helmet, torch scepter and upgrading her stone tablet to a electronic one.

After I got my initial sketch down, I scan it into Photoshop and adjust proportions and posing. I then lighten all my linework to a non-photo blue, and print out the sketch on bristol or card stock copy paper. I then start a second more refined drawing on top of the blue lined sketch, refining my linework and starting to focus on the fine details like her hair, face, and the flow of the dress. The benefit of the blue lined printout under the drawing is that it's eraser-proof, so it's almost like an analog save. There have been too many times in my history of drawing where I thought I should erased something and do it better, only to find out that the version I drew 2-3 erases ago was perfect and I should have just left it alone. When I draw I use a 2H pencil for my layouts (the H stands for hard, it gives a lighter line on the paper) and then go back in to details with an HB pencil (which is somewhat darker, the B stands for bold).

After I have my pencils where I want them, I take a sheet of vellum and tape it over top of my pencils so I can start inking. I tend to always use Micron pens- I've used them since high school and they're one of my favorite brands. They're easy to get ahold of and reasonably priced, plus it's just what I'm used to working in. 

Left- inks right after scanning, Right- inks after cleanup

After I finish inking I scan Space Princess Statue of Liberty into my computer, usually at 300-400 dpi and open her up in Photoshop. Make sure she's whatever size you need her to be- for this poster I will be working in 11x17". Here I start to clean up the linework- erasing any screw ups I may have made on the actual inks and use the Level Tool (Ctrl + L) to bump up the contrast so the lines are more clear. I also go in with the Dodge (set to Highlights at 20% exposure) and Burn (set to Shadows at 50% exposure) tools to eliminate any shadows from scanning the vellum and to darken any fine lines that were starting to grey out. Once I get my line work clear enough, I go to Image > Adjustments > Threshold to make the linework all a sharp, solid black. This may require some adjustments of the slider bar and you may even need to go back yet again and color in some lines that have gaps in them. Once I feel happy with my inks I start my coloring process.

**Depending on how tight my deadline is- I may go even further with cleaning up my inks by importing them over to Illustrator and vectorizing them, then individually adjusting each Bézier curve with the Pen tool. I actually have a segment on how I do this here on Natalie Kin's It's a Draw! video tutorial series. However be warned, it can easily add at least another day to your work and I only suggest it for very clean, open, graphic drawings free of any textures like hatching, stippling, etc.

Wee! Coloring time! So now that our inks are all pretty and sleek and flat black, I start making my layers for coloring. For such a simple palette, I only really worked in about 10 layers for the figure, which I laid out in this GIF:

One of these days I'll break down my coloring methods even further, but that's a progress blog post for another day.

Now for the HARD PART.

After I got my figure and my palette sorted I started sketching out in Photoshop what I want the actual poster to look like. At the time I didn't have all the information of where the Festival was being held, or when, or any of that good stuff, so I concentrated on the upper 2/3rds of the poster. This is usually how I lay out all of my posters- scribbling in an inordinate amount of layers, squashing and stretching elements to make them fit in various spots. I have to laugh when people think the hardest part of the poster for me is drawing the main figure, when drawing cute girls is (for me, at least) second nature at this point. It's actually all the typography, design elements and general composition that drive me to beat my head against the wall.

Then I start designing my type! For this part, I open up Illustrator and start looking at fonts (of which my husband and I have about 26,000…). I eventually settled on using two that reflected the retro sci-fi feel I was going for and started building my elements and configuring them into something that starts to resemble my initial poster sketch. (This is a good article on combining fonts.) I tend to build my posters in Photoshop rather than entirely in Illustrator, which people like my husband find mind boggling, but it's what I'm most comfortable in and I feel it's more organic. Plus I'm more familiar with making things look how I want to in Photoshop versus Illustrator. I still however import the elements and type I built from Illustrator- I NEVER use the type tool in Photoshop. It's bush league. You can't scale, kern or properly space your type without it looking like ass. So you shouldn't either, so please do yourself a favor and learn how to use Illustrator if you're going to be dealing with type.

After a couple of days of arranging, then staring, then rearranging, then staring some more I finally got my poster to look like the design I had in my brain and was super pleased with the result. These two last pics are of the early draft before I got all of the proper info- which you can see at the top of this entry. I hope that if you're in the NYC area you'll come by for what is going to be a super fun and amazing show. I went to the first one and was thoroughly impressed (hence why I wanted to be part of the next one!)

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Society 6 sale until 11/8/15! $5 off everything* and FREE SHIPPING!

I just uploaded a bunch of new designs to my store- bags, pillows, mugs, leggings, tees and phone cases!

 FREE Worldwide Shipping and $5 Off Everything when you order from my Society6 Store. Please note that this promotion is NOT automatically available in my Store, the promotion is only available once someone clicks on the link above that I'm sharing with you.

Promotion expires November 8, 2015 at Midnight Pacific Time.

*Free Shipping offer excludes Framed Art Prints, Stretched Canvases, Wall Clocks and Rugs

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Aftermath: New York Comic Con 2015

Our Bob's Burgers group was a hit!
Ack! Ack! Another New York Comic Con has come and gone and I've emerged victorious. Albeit tired, sore and with no desire to hear my own voice for at least a few weeks. Therein lies the adventure that is NYCC. We had a rallying cry all weekend of the show- if we didn't love this, we wouldn't do it.

Our "NYCC Skybox", as we ended up calling it. All that separates us from the teeming masses.
 Much like last year: me, Little Asian Sweatshop and Maria Danalakis Art all pitched in and got a booth on the main floor of the exhibitor hall and had all of our usual pinup-inspired goodies for sale. Now fully aware of how grueling NYCC's schedule is, we decided to not be as ambitious in our cosplay themes. Four 12 hour workdays in a row that have the intensity of a Macy's on Black Friday really takes a toll on us physically and mentally, so we played it more low-key this year. Thursdays we just wore whatever- I dressed in a pants version of my Mouseketeer outfit. Friday was Batman-themed where I was a very loose interpretation of Catwoman. Maria dressed in her adorable Riddler dress and Fenny busted out her VERY old-school Robin costume from cosplays past- she literally had not worn it in over 12 years. It was hilariously terrible- back from the days when all we had to make costumes from was cheap wedding satin. She looked great though. That costume will always crack me up. Saturday however was our crowning achievement- we had a Bob's Burgers group of Maria as Linda, me as Tina and Fenny as Louise. It hit two big bullet points with me and cosplay- amazingly comfortable and instantly recognizable. And Maria was BORN to play Linda. She borrowed my bubble flip wig I had made from Fifi Mahoney's and was SO into it, even being in character a good chunk of the day. Our little Cosplay Diva! Sunday was our 'screw it' day- jeans and hoodies. We were so tired people should be happy we were even there at all.

A video posted by Paige Pumphrey (@paigey_pumphrey) on

Unfortunately we were unable to get the cherry spot we got last year so we had to choose a booth location all the way in the back of the exhibit hall- which also happens to be the length of about 4 football fields. As a result we all did well, but not as well as last year. Either way- we are def planning to exhibit again in 2016. This is usually the most social I am all year, so it's a good way to get all of my desire to dress up in silly outfits, talk about art, get pictures taken and hang out with friends in one fell swoop. Plus I get to make a little money and hear from people coming up to me about how awesome they think I am? Let's do it! It's certainly a nice break from sitting in front of the computer in my apartment while wearing 4 day old pj pants. (Like I am now…)

A video posted by Paige Pumphrey (@paigey_pumphrey) on

Got a visit from my pal, burlesque superstar Dangrrr Doll as Black Canary!

Fenny in her awful/awesome Robin costume. At 8am.

It was always like a little party at our booth.

Rewarded with elote for a hard day's work!

At times standing at the front corner of the booth it was almost hypnotizing watching the endless shifting sea of people. And every day of the show it just got more and more crowded. You thought it was "bad" on Thursday and Friday? (It was.) Oh heavens, that was mostly comprised of people who were willing to take off from work to attend. Saturday and Sunday are usually when the GENERAL PUBLIC come out to the show, as those are the days most already have off for the weekend. It was like each day just escalates more and more with attendance until it reaches maximum humanity. And then, AND THEN on the final day- Sunday, when you don't think it can get any worse with the shuffling masses and lack of personal space, they decide to make it KIDS DAY. >_<; So now not only are you dodging and weaving through people in general, but at least 40% are most likely going to have a slower, waist-high counterpart attached by the arm who is being dragged through (or pushed, or led) the mob. Which I have to admit- I really feel kind of bad for kids who are brought to New York Comic Con. I just don't see it really being that fun for anyone under the age of 12. If you really think about it- you're being led around a building that kinda-sorta looks like an amusement park with characters running around and and crazy structures like the giant pavilions that the larger companies build. Buuutttt-- it's crazy crowded so you can't really stop. Each aisle is like a giant, slow moving line with no real ending. And being a child, you can't really run off on your own to check out whatever catches your eye. (As my mother would say: That's how you get snatched!) Also the characters and cosplayers running around are a bit of a gamble if you choose to have your child interact with them. Some cosplayers I know are great with kids and have an amazing rapport with the public. Others however can be weird, or creepy, or rude- because guess what, cosplayers are people who are there to enjoy the show just like everyone else. They're not there like characters from Disney World who are paid to be there and have a code of conduct in a controlled environment. There's going to be characters dressed up in costumes that most parents would deem inappropriate for their children to see- whether they're super sexy battle bikinis, gory zombies that will scare the crap out of them, or guys in spandex bodysuits where you can totally make out their gross little wiener waggling all over the place. And don't get me started on the in-character Deadpool cosplayers. Also I hope those parents either brought a ton of money or have their "No, you can't have that." game on lock because they are essentially walking their child into a giant toy store that stretches on for miiiiles. However, I must say there needs to be a mass reinstatement of the 'keep your hands in pockets' policy I had as a kid when shopping with my mom- too many grabby little fingers of questionable cleanliness smeared on all my merch. Look, but don't touch guys. Jeez. What I'm saying, in my opinion is that a lot of NYCC isn't fun for little kids. It's big and boring and scary and anxiety-inducing, especially if the kid didn't really want to go in the first place. Or thought that NYCC would be more akin to an amusement park, only to find the only rides is a crowded escalator. There's plenty of smaller shows that are way more kid-friendly with even special areas set up where they can color and draw and do kid things that I think they would probably enjoy more than standing crotch-level next to a lumpy, middle-aged Spider-man with a visible trouser snake.
I'd have to say with my experience the best time for a kid to start going to conventions (especially NYCC) is early-mid teens. They can go of their own volition and pursue their own weird interests with other like-minded teens with little to no supervision. Much like dropping kids off at the mall back in the day (or do what my parents used to do and go as well, but wander around on their own). Plus cons are held during daytime hours and are relatively safe- more and more conventions are stepping up their staffing, security and policies to help the expanding community feel more included. I know if I had the option of going to a con like the ones they have now I would have lost my damn mind. I however didn't start going to cons until 1998 when I attended my first Otakon at 17, and I've attended shows every year since then. The way I actually met my best friend Fenny was through anime conventions and the mutual friends I had within different groups that all met up at various shows in the mid-Atlantic area back in my late teens/early 20's.

A video posted by Paige Pumphrey (@paigey_pumphrey) on

Louise and Tina waiting for the M train.

Practicing my Tina face in the bathroom. Weirder. No, WEIRDER.

I LOVE Maria as Linda. I kept randomly looking over at her and cracking up. The inclusion of her into Fenny and I's cosplay shenanigans has definitely breathed some new life into our jaded old convention souls.

It's so weird seeing me in glasses so big.

As much as I bitch and moan during cons, especially NYCC- I really do love attending and interacting with people and sharing my art and merch with everyone. It's crazy and crowded and physically destroys you over the course of 5 days (we gotta spend all day Wedsnesday setting up the booth), yet as soon as my recovery week is over I'm already thinking about next year.

A video posted by Paige Pumphrey (@paigey_pumphrey) on

I attempted to be social on Saturday night. Phil and I met up with some out-of-town friends for drinks and I ended up almost nodding off after 1 drink.

Aw! Friends!!

Dorking out with our con pals Brit and Emily!

Fenny and I quoted Mr. Meeseeks from Rick & Morty all weekend. I'm kind obsessed and Fenny had never seen it so we spent every night after the show watching episodes on hulu. It's brilliant and if you aren't already- you should watch it too. Fenny and I are already talking about doing R&M characters for 2016.
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