I Think I Lost The Focus of It: Trying

It’s Sunday night. After Thanksgiving break. Tomorrow, it’s back to class and work again. J Andrew Gilbert, is trying to figure out what are the best ways to pretend he doesn’t have class tomorrow. The semester is ending after all.

He started thinking about a blog post. This post.

In this post, he’ll explain how he feels that in some way he doesn’t know what he is doing anymore with this blog. I mean what is its purpose? What is he trying to talk about?

When he began on his journey, he knew it was going to be hard. To keep it up and to just write. To just make a post. But even if you know things, doesn’t mean you’re prepared for it.

So far, he has written several posts related to things he likes – book reviews, mostly. He has also done self-motivational writing. Mostly meant for himself, but that he hopes someone else finds encouraging – especially other creatives like him. He has also started a web comic, that has been faulty in it’s submissions timeline.

Even within the comic itself he kind of lost himself too. What started as a play-off of his friendship with Zach, has become into a “Remember This” series. He quite enjoys the “Remember This” series as he feels it gives him more room to play with the images and “poetry” (many quote marks around poetry, please).

But, even though he doesn’t know what he is doing, and even though he doesn’t know what exactly he wants to accomplish. And that he has no real “brand.” Or no masterful plan to how he’s going to take over the internet world with his awesome writing and image-making. He does know that he enjoys doing it.

He enjoys the hardship if putting himself out there. He enjoys the pain and friction of trying to put into words thoughts, feelings. He enjoys to put give breath, a body. He enjoys writing. He enjoys drawing. And he enjoys sharing it with you.

He hopes that in something of this you find yourself a little bit encouraged. Or that you feel understood in some level, because you feel yourself represented. In an image, or a phrase. Or maybe just a line.

He isn’t no great writer, nor a great artist. But at least he’s trying. And this blog, so often, has been just about that: trying.


 

This month of November I had a lot of views on two blog posts that I’m really proud of, for different reasons and they have very different writing styles. If you missed them here’s a friendly link to each one:

So. This is Unedited.

Arabian Nights – Poster Design

Be sure to check Orange Unicorn’s last update.

Your support means a lot to me: it helps me keep trying. If you’d like to stay updated make sure to follow the blog – there’s a button off to the side!

You can also follow my Facebook Art page, Instagram (@jandrewgilbert), and Twitter (@jandrewgil), for updates.

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So. This is unedited.

Some days I just want to write down thoughts, and hope that the world cares. So, here we go. Unedited thoughts of a wanna be artist on a Tuesday morning to keep you entertained.

Because who hasn’t tried? Who hasn’t put their foot forward and tried? To relax, to chill, under the window sill, looking out into the fields of grey air and yellow sky.

So I walked, out into the fields of knowledge and emptiness. Listening to the Taylor Swift that was bashed by many, just because she did something? She did something that I can’t quite know what it is, because no one quite explains it, because no one quite understands it themselves do they?

It’s like the formless grey air in the morning. Sure, scientists can probably tell you it’s a combination of humidity and temperature levels creating this air we call fog. But really, that explains it? Is it not for the clouded of mind that fog happens? So that environment reflects soul? Is fog not for the soothing effects on the soul? For the beauty of breath? And is it not beautiful? Can you please tell me why it is so? I’d like to know, so I can recreate it in a painting, in a poem or in a phrase. Grey air made by an artist.

I also wanted to tell you this:

Give yourself some love. Call yourself sexy and then do a chicken dance. The fog will hide you away in its embrace.

Arabian Nights – Poster Design

The Arabian Nights production, by the Calvin Theatre Company, had it opening night this past weekend! You can get tickets here.

Since it’s opening week I decided to write a blog post explaining a bit of my design process for the poster. Keep reading if you want some tips, and ideas for when you’re working on your own projects! – Or just to be inspired, or kill some curiosity and what the whole process looked like!

So the design always starts with ideas and concepts. When I talked with the director for the play, Debra Freeberg, she emphasized the idea of lights in the night and this rich colored fabric. I really liked these visuals, and combining it with the night, went for a desert night scene to tie it in with a place.

Since the story is about stories I considered including letters from the Arabic alphabet in the sky. The idea was that these would represent stars as well as the stories told. I liked this concept because it had letters as lights – just how Sherazade’s stories, her words, bring light into the Sultan’s life. Sadly, I lost the image I did for this.

In later renditions, however, I changed this element, because the sky became too heavy and complicated. It wasn’t working as symbols for stars. Instead I embraced circles, a simpler and clearer shape, to represent the stars. Here though, the idea is still that each story is a star in the sky. I also started to play with the idea of the desert and fabrics. I had two main different versions for the fabrics, and one variation of the sky.

 

I preferred the one with bigger fabric over the title page, but my clients preferred the one with three stripes at the bottom. So I went with what they wanted – I still liked them both a lot.

The font choices were semi-dictated by Calvin’s brand – I incorporated their font “Gotham” into the informational text. The title was made with the same font I used for the audition poster. This one:

AuditionPosterSwingWEB

 

I reused these same fonts in all the different posters to keep consistent visual identity for the Season of Love and Forgiveness.  Eventually, there were some problems with this font choice as it didn’t work as well for the last poster, but we kept it for visual consistency – and since the posters were already printed and finalized.

Once the one with three ribbons was chosen, it was all about just finessing details, making sure the fabrics were colorful and vibrant. Adding textures to the desert, putting the stars in their place to create the right degree of randomness and pattern. I played with the colors and sizes a little bit to have some depth and interest in the sky.

Here are two different versions I played with.

 

From here we decided to take out the lines at the top – they weren’t necessary anymore because there were already lines at the bottom. They wanted to go with the one on the right – only orange and yellow. I decided to push a little bit here and see if I could still have some small stars be blue. I argued that it helped add interest and depth to the sky.

After that there were just small details to finish. Below you can see the low-resolution image for the result! (It’s kinda pixelated, but it shows the main points of this article.)

Arabian-Nights1WEB

It was a lot of fun, but also a lot of work. This project, has helped me to understand how important communication between me and my clients is. If you’re ever providing a service to someone, work really hard on your communication. Make sure you’re understanding each other, if possible, do meet with them. Through conversation you’re better able to grasp what the client is thinking and feeling about your piece.

Sometimes I felt like they really weren’t liking the design, because they’d provide feedback through emails. But once I would talk with them in person than I could see how much they liked it!

I hope that if for nothing else, you were able to enjoy the process behind the poster!


 

I write blog posts every now and then, but am constantly working on my webcomic “Orange Unicorn.” Be sure to check Orange Unicorn’s last update.

Your support means a lot to me: it helps me keep going. If you’d like to stay updated make sure to follow the blog – there’s a button off to the side!

You can also follow my Facebook Art page, Instagram (@jandrewgilbert), and Twitter (@jandrewgil), for updates.

 

I, Multitasker

I’m a multitasker. And as science points out, I’m horrible at it. Yet, I can’t help it.

By multitasking I mean two different things simultaneously which I won’t distinguish between when using the term. But those two things are different: working on more than one project within a long time frame. Like working on a video that I’m editing and on a poster illustration during the course of a month.

Then there’s the multitasking that is when I quickly switch between tasks within a short time frame. Like when I read emails. Then open up photoshop and start drawing, then go back to answer emails, then look at social media, then go back to painting, then I look up prices for a new headphone, then I finish off writing the email, then I open up word and start writing a blog post. Phew. That was hard.

But both of these have the same benefits and disadvantages.

Benefit: more than one thing that needs to get done is getting done. Like honestly all the things I’m doing are necessary. I do need to write that email. I do have to work on the art. I do have to relax. I do need to write a blog post.

In the same way I can’t just be working on one project at one time. Otherwise I won’t be making enough money. I need to work on the video, and I need to work on the poster. And since I rely on feedback, there are times when I can’t work on one or the other. Sometimes the project is my own art too, and within my own art I’ll work on 2 to 3 pieces at the same time, to keep it going. While one is resting, sinking into me, I can work on the other one.

Disadvantage: I’m going crazy and not delivering the best I can. And right now, it feels like the disadvantage is a little bit too much.

So. Stop it. I tell you, because I know you also do it. And I’ll tell myself that too as well. But, ok. Maybe we can’t fully stop. But I do think we can stop for 10 minutes everyday and not multi-task. Focus on one thing – your body, your breath.

How are you feeling? How does your legs feel?

Your hands? Shoulders?

The muscles on your face? On your feet?

Feel your body.

Breathe.


 

I actually wrote this at the end of summer, and just edited now. But this week it felt very valid and I decided to share. Enjoy. Also, I have an episode from Orange Unicorn that relates to this.

Check Orange Unicorn’s last update.

Your support means a lot to me: it helps me keep going. If you’d like to stay updated make sure to follow the blog!

You can also follow my Facebook Art page, Instagram (@jandrewgilbert), and Twitter (@jandrewgil), for updates.

The Friends You Need For Making Art

I wrote this blog post midway through summer. I think it still relates, and seeing how the main theme surrounding Orange Unicorn is friendship, I thought I’d share this one.


It can be your mom. It can be your kid. It can be the close friend that you’ve only met two years ago and that you lived with in their basement for two weeks. Whoever it is, you need people to push you to be productive. People that push you to make art.

I have had many different people encourage me as well as push me to make art. I cannot emphasize enough how important they have been to my success. I’ve identified three types of people you should try and have in your life to help move your art forward.

“The Strategizer”

This was my mom. She has always been good at mapping out my dreams in accomplishable ways. She had an ability to bring to the present whatever was hidden in the future. What did I have to go through to get where I wanted? What could I do today that would be one step closer to where I want to be? What is working, what isn’t?

“The Motivator and the Muse”

I’ve always had someone in my life that I wanted to make art for. It’s that one person that I want to show whatever I’ve been doing and see the sparkles in their eyes, the hidden smile on their lips. This type of person is a great source of motivation and inspiration. Wanting to make them happy can be a healthy way of pushing yourself to do art. Although be sure to also listen to yourself, and not only the motivators. They’ll encourage you again and again to get going. These have usually been my close friends.

“The Mentor”

This might be one of the hardest to find. They have a similar purpose to the Strategizer, but different. This is the one who sees the whole battle field, they’re by your side in the trenches. They’re there with you, teaching and instructing you. New tricks, advice and insights. Like the Motivator they are also constantly pushing you to keep going. I have usually found a Mentor in my art teachers, but also in youtubers, and podcasts like Chris Oatley’s. Online classes have also been an area that I found this even if momentarily, like through CGMA classes.

 

I sincerely believe that making conscious decisions in pursuit of these types of people can be helpful in your journey as an artist. In a Mentor you might find a Motivator or a Strategizer. Or maybe your Stratetigizer is also your Motivator.

But I think identifying people that help you in different areas is helpful to you. Invest in those relationships. And honestly, at times you’ll have to jump in for that position, you will have to become your own Strategizer, Motivator or even your own Mentor.

So when you see yourself lacking in one of those relationships, seek one out, or build it within yourself. Read a book, listen to a podcast. Make it happen.

 

I Care About Things

So. Second episode is up for Orange Unicorn! Go check it out. Now. It’s an order. Or, maybe, just a suggestion? Up to you.

On a similar topic, I don’t know if I’ll be able to keep the webcomic going. I’ve just had my first week of classes back to college. I’m involved in a lot of things, a lot more than I have ever been in college. Last Thursday I just sat in my bed and cried, tired, worried, anxious and everything in between. I ended up watching Hotel Transylvania 2, which I don’t recommend – not the greatest movie, didn’t even offer that many laughs.

I’m going crazy. College reminds me of how much I want to do, how much I need to do and how much incapable I am of doing everything. The funny thing is that, in high school? Well. I slept a lot. And did very little, and just didn’t care. I think the only thing that has changed is that now I care about things.

I care about my grades. I care that I’m making art and making work. I care that I’m putting stuff out there. That I’m working on growing my audience. That I’m working on becoming a paid artist by the time I’m out of college. (Even if it’s part-time.)

I care about things. I care about this webcomic even though it’s just a baby – maybe it’s because it is such a baby that I care so much. It’s so young and fragile; without me will it survive it’s childhood?  So I will stick with it. I will stick with it. I will do it. Because what can be more encouraging than to do something you believed impossible?

I think these Tuesday posts are going to end up being just me reflecting on my webcomic making. Hope you can bear with me.


Your support means a lot to me: it helps me keep going. Going. Going. So if you’d like to stay updated with the webcomic make sure to follow the blog!

You can also follow my Facebook Art page, Instagram (@jandrewgilbert), or Twitter (@jandrewgil), for updates.

 

To Wear a Hat

Last Friday I “launched” my webcomic.

The Wednesday before that, I was drawing the page and I was scared. Nervous. I realized how unexperienced I am with the comics format and with storytelling. I was worried rather people could understand the story. Did they get the plot? Am I showing too much and not letting the audience fill it in? Or am I saying too little and the audience doesn’t have enough to work off of? Is it funny? Or endearing?

And one of the biggest questions of all: Will people… like it?!

I have very little idea what I’m doing. I never saw myself as a storyteller, but now I am putting out this webcomic for the world to see and judge. Man this theme of the judging world comes up a lot. Maybe it’s because I feel it a lot.

Now, I’m trying to embrace the visual storyteller hat and to wear it with pride – lacking shame. To embrace my identity as a writer and a comic artist. The Visual Storyteller. Ah. It’s one more struggle isn’t it? To see myself as what I am trying to be. But we’re trying. We’re going.

Because that’s all we can do. Keep on going. Keep on dreaming.

Grateful for a Summer

It’s hard to be an artist. It’s hard to be productive. It’s very hard to be grateful.

For this summer I set out with a plan: to be a “full-time artist.” I didn’t have a full-time job. So I decided to embrace the opportunity. I had many dreams and plans.

Stuff popped up. Everywhere.

I worked for a month at the dining hall. One week I did 46 hours, which I didn’t see coming. I discovered I’m still addicted to computer games. And while I was disciplined at the beginning of the summer, it has fallen through now at the end.

When I look back through this summer I realize I made very little money through my art – even as a “full-time” artist. But I did work and I have to stop denying that.

I wrote blog posts, made images for them, figured out layouts and promoted myself on social media. Believe me, that last one is harder than it sounds. It’s like you’re a little brat jumping up and down with pompoms trying to get people to look at you. It takes a lot of confidence to keep doing it.

This summer was hard because again and again I was putting myself on the line. I was putting myself into my art, and my art into the world, to be looked at, criticized or even just ignored.

Being productive was also hard because I lost my wallet. And because I had to do my laundry. And cook. And buy groceries. And pay bills. And clean my room. And figure out what to do with my broken car. And pack and travel. And help out my family with a quinceñera. And and and and. AND!

But. I need to stop. I’m tired. I’m tired because I worked. I’ve been making myself write, and draw and paint, and take criticism and feedback and incorporate it – “throwing away” whole pieces just because they were off the mark.

I was heavy. Broken. Scared.

I needed a time to see. To see what the work of my hands have done. To see and be grateful. To celebrate what I accomplished this summer. So I decided to make a list with numbers of what I’ve done this summer. A time to celebrate the fruit of my hands.

The Blog

I wrote 40 blog posts, and with the help of my team there’s been 20 that were edited and posted (with my team’s help)

I made around 20 images, including quotes, for blog posts

I got 172 visitors on my blog, with 295 views

My most viewed post has had 35 views

The Art

I made 5 new prints for my Etsy store (which is closed right now because I’m currently travelling to Honduras!)

I’ve worked on 5 commissions and am working on 3 more

I did 5 fanart sketches and paintings

I made 2 small GIF Animations

I worked on 3 freelance posters, with 4 more underway

I made 1 semi-animated video

The Learning and Growth

I read 15 graphic novels

I read 2 non-fiction books

I took 1 screenprinting workshop

I listened to 3 online talks given by artists

I absorbed numerous YouTube videos, podcast episodes and online articles

I had 1 critique session with my art teacher

I went to 1 publishing and editing training seminar

Social Media

72 Posts on my Facebook art account

37 Posts on my Instagram account

1 Twitter account started

Sometimes I forget how much I’ve done. Sometimes I have to stop, and look. See what I’m doing and what I’ve done. Breathe. Remember. See the small steps taken and where it’s heading. Be grateful. For the time I had, for what I accomplished.
Relax. Enjoy it. Smile at my past self: he hasn’t completely ruined my whole life, yet.

If you want to do this list exercise, feel free to post it in the comments below! It can be about anything – self-care, productivity, reading, learning, exercise, social media, whatever you can think of!

Orange Unicorn

Extra post today!

A week or two ago—it’s so hard to tell the passage of time during the summer—my friend Zach commissioned a caricature of himself. I forced him to give me artistic freedom with it, which made it even more fun! I felt very inspired to do it for some reason, and I ended up not even using a reference! Here’s the result.zach and jorito

We both really liked the result, and my addition of the words “Adventures of Zach and Jorito” gave us the idea of making Zach into a character. I mean, if you know him, you know how much of a character he can be.

Zach was a great pusher for the idea, and really wanted me to do it! Eventually I gave in. But I decided to make it Orange Unicorn.

While I considered taking on the challenge of giving life to Jorito as a comic character, I decided to go with an “easier” path – giving life to myself. It’ll help that we spent a lot of time together this summer. We’ve got lots of stories to tell! So be prepared. These short stories will be inspired on real-life events, but a lot of it will be fictional and adapted.

This will be a weekly webcomic going for about 12 weeks, maybe more, maybe less. Planned start of the posts is for the 7th of September. I’m expecting to be able to post a new upload every Thursday, instead of the What Made Me Cry This Week. But we’ll see how it goes!

One last thing. Zach and I disagree on which character design to go with for myself. I want to use my character Birdman. Zach thinks I should use my self-caricature. What do you think?

character designs

Make sure to follow the blog to stay updated on what I post.

You can also follow my Facebook Art page, Instagram (@jandrewgilbert), or Twitter (@jandrewgil), for updates.

To Be a Flower

To be tender. To be frail. To be a flower: vulnerable and open.

That’s what I tried doing for most of this summer. To write blog posts and make art that mattered to me. That showed you parts and facets – of me. In the hope that, for some reason, those images, those pieces of me, also mattered to you.

A lot of the time it felt like I was just ignored. Writing into this void of the internet, where there’s already too much going on. Posting pictures and images that got few likes. After all that’s what it’s about, right? You liking my writing. You liking my paintings. My drawings. You liking… me. Right?To be a vulnerable flower - creativity

Every now and then I have to hide in a hole. When around people I’m constantly trying to please, to make them feel better, to add something of value to them, to offer something up – even if it’s some of my weirdness at times. So, every now and then, I must hide in a whole to just please myself, and not be constantly evaluating: Do they like me? Was that good? Was that worth their time?

Every now and then I need to hide my art in a hole. To make it only for myself. To bury the piece amidst all the files in my hard drive. To bury it within all the other papers. It’s art that doesn’t ask you to look at it. It’s just asking to exist for a second, only to be hidden and forgotten – it grows best in the dark confines of the earth.

Flower Hope

This is very hard, because in the end, the only way I can survive – to bring in the bread – is if I show my art to you. If I’m tender, frail, vulnerable and open like a flower. And trying to find that balance, between the art that I make for others, and the art that I make for myself, is a complicated one. The art that sprouts out in colorful petals and the art that hides under earth – gathering the nutrients.

 

Right now, I feel drained. My creativity has been flowing over this summer, and it’s running out. I know it can replenish itself, but it needs time. It needs time to allow the water to evaporate, condensate and to come back again. In that soft refreshing drizzle, that smells like summer and nourishes the earth.

If you’d like to get updates when blog posts come out, you can follow my Facebook page, or sign up for the mailing list that WordPress has set up — it’s on the bar to the side I believe!

Hope to see you soon! Or next week more precisely, at 10AM!