Coloring Catchup

All right. This week I’m trying to tackle coloring some of the pieces in my portfolio that have been just black and white up until now. It’s great to see how the pieces come alive with color. The only bummer is that all of these pieces are crowd scenes, so they take FOREVER!

Here’s the first one I’ve finished, which was a donation piece for the ALA conference last summer.


For reference, here’s the two other pieces I need to color.



I’m hoping to have them finished this week so I can put them in my portfolio before any potential art directors that got my postcard look at my website.

Memories of ‘Miah

miahIt was almost four months ago that my brother Jeremiah passed away. My relationship with Jeremiah changed a lot over the years. When we were kids, we fought all the time and as we got older, we sort of just didn’t really talk to each other. It wasn’t until the last couple of years that we really forged a relationship and realized that despite spending all of our lives thinking we were so different, we actually had so much in common.

Looking back at some of my older work, I noticed that I drew him frequently into the comics I made before I started working on Americus. I didn’t realize the importance of this until looking back through my portfolio now after his passing. Even though we weren’t really close and didn’t really talk during those years, our silence or distance didn’t mean we didn’t love each other.

Here’s the pieces he starred in or had cameos:


He’s also in the story I did for the Popgun anthology, Sucky, Sucky. Here’s a sample page, and you can read the whole thing over at my portfolio page.


And lastly, here’s a piece of the three of us that I did for our Mom a couple of years ago:


I’m hoping at some point I’ll be able to take all the love and memories of him and turn it into something that I can put creative energy into to honor him. Until then, I thought I’d just share these comics where I was thinking about him those years we didn’t speak, even if he never knew.

Love you, ‘Miah. xoxo.

Insurance Pools

I got some ‘wham-bam-thank-you-ma’am’ work for the Willamette Week this week. [As in, I got it at around noon and it needed to be done by 3:30 the same day].

It was a pretty dry article, and the illustration wasn’t that exciting, but I still had fun because I approached the work in a different way.

Kind of going with the flow of the goofing around I’ve been doing on the computer with coloring and thinking more in shapes, I decided to just pencil the work and not ink it. Then I took it into the computer and used it as a guideline and just made color shapes and cuts like I would normally do when coloring an ink drawing.



Again, is it something that I want to keep doing? I don’t know. But it’s been fun to approach things in a different way. I want to change up and evolve my image-making and style, but I don’t really know how to approach that besides just throwing a bunch of things to the wall and seeing what sticks.

Thank You Strikes Again

So today was officially my first day devoted to freelancing! You wanna know what my amazing big project was – the one that was help me start off on the right track and really get momentum going?

Thank you cards!

Yeah, I know right? Not really exciting. Well, to be specific, I wanted to make thank you cards to send to all the family and friends that helped out when my dad was sick. It was a small project that I had been meaning to do since June, and I thought would be a good warm-up to get me into a little groove. It proved to be a little more difficult than I thought it would. You see, my first inclination is to make something funny and/or weird.

You may remember that this was originally drawn for the great folks at First Second after Americus came out to thank them for being so great to work with. I liked the lizard man one so much, I had some printed out for whenever I needed a thank you card.

But that card wasn’t going to cut it for this. I wanted to do something special for these folks because they really, really came through for me and my brothers for when we needed love and support the most. I needed these cards to be a little more subdued and classy.

After a long day of brainstorming, thumbnailing, drawing, and then scrapping ideas, these are the ones that made it to the final stages. I finished them up only to realize that I would scrap them, too.

I got this first one done and liked it, only to realize I was totally just copying my friend Meg’s visual style.

So I changes it to make it more simple, only to have it be too plain.

And then this last one just ended up looking like something you would give your doctor or dentist after you got an x-ray.

I actually really like the image, but I think it ended up looking too weird. The concept I was going for was some sort of ‘Thank you from deep inside’. Sigh.

Anyhow, after being completely, totally frustrated with all the false finishes, I came up with one last one. It’s might seem a little sentimental, but I think it strikes a balance of being heartfelt and classy, while still portraying the sense of gratitude towards the people that have helped us out.

The front:

And the inside:

I’m going to get these printed up tomorrow so I can send them out three months late, eek! Better late than never, right? And despite my frustration, it felt good to just be focuses and be working all day, and to play around with some hand lettering and design, even if it wasn’t super-successful.

If you’re interested, I’ve posted scans of some of the sketchbook pages of thumbnails and assorted drawings that came out of the whole process over on my Tumblr site.

Wedding Announcement Card

Here’s a piece I did for a friend and their wedding announcement cards. A year or so ago, she got into a bad bike accident in Sweden, so I thought it would be fun to use that story for their card, [but make it end a little cuter]. Here’s what the front of the card will look like:

And here’s what’s on the back of the card:

Whew. Now I think I can get back to some other work!


Asian Heritage Month 2012

May is Asian Heritage Month! The Asian Reporter’s Heritage Month Special Issue is on stands now where you can find this little illustration I did for the special issue.

Like I might have bitched about in my post from last year for Asian Heritage Month, it’s hard doing these illustrations every year and trying to keep them fresh and avoiding cliches. But I think what I’m starting to realize is that there is no way to do an illustration like this without resorting to cliches and stereotypes. You just have to embrace it.

April Illustration Dump

Here’s two illustration pieces I have done the last month. This first one was for the Spokane Inlander.

The illustration accompanied an article where the writer was noticing several things about Spokane since moving there. I got to pick from a list of fifty or so things to put in the illustration. Since there was a time crunch, I sort of picked the ones that would be easiest to illustrate, but also ones that helped with some visual gags.

And here’s a piece I did this week for Reed Magazine.

It was actually pretty great to hear from Tom Humphrey again. He used to be the art director for the Willamette Week and got me started doing work for them. When he he left to work for Reed, he said he’d love to work with me again and would drop me a line again. It was great to hear from him and to know that my art and working with me left a good impression enough to remember that after a couple of years.

Also, you might notice a little Americus cameo I was able to squeeze into the illustration…

The only bummer about getting this work was that I didn’t really get to fit any time into working on new stuff for Stumptown. But you gotta pay da’ billz, right?

Art dump 2/20

Here’s some miscellaneous artstuff that I’ve worked on the last week.

I don’t normally share them here, because they’re a little rough around the edges, and also because they’re not my strongest suit, but I wanted to share my Asian Reporter cartoon from this week because I totally have the bug:

This is actually an unrevised edition of the cartoon. For the final, I ended up removing the ‘Yellow Mamba’ Lin-ism because the editors always want to tread on the path of ‘make-sure-no-one-is-offended’, which I totally understand. Though part of me wanted to joke and say, ‘Well, if anyone can get away with it, we can! We’re an Asian newspaper.’ But I didn’t because I know better!

And here’s a quick illustration I did for the Willamette Week a couple of weeks ago for this article. I busted this mother out in like two and a half hours! I made not be the best illustrator, but I’m fast! For that, I am super-proud.

That’s it for now. Besides prepping for my class, I have some free time to work on some commission projects for some friends. I will do a little update about my class and teaching sometime tomorrow or Wednesday [if prepping for class doesn’t take up all my time!].

Out of the funk and into the fire

As you have probably noticed, it’s been a bit of a deserted wastleland here so far this year. I was still in that creative funk I mentioned in my 2011 review post for most of January, and kind of depressed because of it, and instead of busting my ass and getting out of it, I was drowning myself in Skyrim.

At the beginning of February I was able to snap out of it. Things went from ‘eh’ to wicked-busy real fast, which is just what I needed – I am always better and more focused the more I have going on. The two most pressing things were a big illustration project with a deadline on the horizon and then my class at OCAC that started the beginning of the month, which has been really amazing and so much fun, but a monster to prep for.

Anyhow, since I’m back to actually being productive, I thought I’d go ahead and share some process. Here’s some of the stages for the back side of the map:

It’s a map of the city of San Jose, Costa Rica [duh. I guess it says it right on there] for the next ICANN conference that’s coming up. They saw the map I did at Powell’s, and wanted something similar, but with functional maps of the venue space on one side and the downtown area map for people attending the conference to use on the other side.

It was a pretty challenging project because of all the parts to think of and layout and actually drawing a concise map of a city. But in the end, I’m pretty happy with how it turned out. Something that was interesting for me was that I ended up turning my handwriting into a font, a process that has mixed results. In the end, I don’t like it all, and would prefer to always hand letter things, and there is still a good amount of hand lettering mixed into the project. But I won’t deny the amount of time having my own font saved when typing up the street, restaurant, and location names and having to fix and rewrite them.

That’s it for now! I just wanted to share finishing up that big project. I’ll try to update more things that have been going on over the course of this coming week.

Thank You Cards & Other Stuff

A tiny thing that stresses me out: Thank you cards. I always feel like I should make a new one every time I want to send one out, but it’s always a much longer project than I think it will be, or I just get lazy and don’t make it and then don’t send it out. I always feel super-lame buying them, because I’m picky and it feels impersonal and then I always think to myself, ‘Why would I pay for that crap when I could just make them!’

Can you see my dilemma?

Year after year, I think to myself – I should just design a thank you card and then print them up so I always have them on hand. It’s the best of both worlds – it’s more personal than buying them, but without the hassle of having to make a new one each time.

Anyhow, I did a set of four for the great people at First Second to wish them a happy holidays and thanks for all of the work they put into making Americus. They’re all Apathea based.

Here are the other three:

I decided that I’ll print the Liskot one at the top of this post and use that for my thank you cards for the coming year. I love that lizard man!

And if you haven’t noticed, things have been really quiet  – no posts, no Diary of a Space Marine, etc. There’s a couple of reasons for that. If you like reading about excuses, read more after the cut!

Continue reading