Saturday, December 27, 2014

Drawing While Black

I have a story to tell. This past October, I attended the Alternative Press Expo –APE for short- as a small part of my weekend vacation back to San Francisco, CA. Trekking the convention’s floor was rather fun after obtaining my day pass. There were many tables to go to, art prints to be splurged on and seemingly interesting people to converse with about life and the passion of art! The excitement should’ve been flowing through my veins to stay for at least five hours… It wasn’t. By the end of the first hour, I was exhausted. I had only walked past twenty out of one hundred plus tables, and there was only so many Marvel/ Disney/ Breaking Bad/ My Little Pony mash ups I could take without seeing much that was at LEAST original.

The content on the show floor wasn’t my main concern, however.

Before reaching my exhaustion peak by my third and final hour there, I walked by a table set up by a woman in her late thirties from Oakland whose recent project on display was an illustrated reflection of the many types of black men she has encountered in the Bay Area for the past year. The project was enough to get us into a friendly ten minute discussion about our present and future endeavors. Before handing her my business and promo cards, she wanted a picture of me to draw. I asked her if that will that used for continuing her project. And the answer was startling at first.

“Well, it’s great to see a long, tan guy like you makin’ moves so early! You have a book on your own material out, from New York and you’re down to earth. That’s a rarity nowadays. I mean, just look at most of this floor. How many of these guys look like you?”

This woman hit on something. While walking to the nearest bus stop to take a quick nap away from the convention, one nagging fact started to swirl around my mind: The amount of diversity in any entertainment field is a sliver. Yet for some reason, I feel that many afraid to make mention of it.

Having gone to college for an art degree twice was pretty telling enough for me to see the harsh reality of things. When you’re told by a handful of professors that they see you as nothing more than a ‘C minus Student’ despite what they called your improvements throughout a semester, something has to give. For me, it started by looking around the classrooms and auditoriums. It wasn’t just my artistry that was supposedly holding me back when you are the one dark dot in a vanilla flavored custard cream pie. Believe it or not, the entertainment field is dominated by white and Jewish males who allow the most caricaturish and cartoonish views of people of color, women and homosexuals to be seen as the only way they feel the world wants them to see it. This ‘profit over dignity’ motto the higher-ups uphold to results in a growing infestation of ignorance passed down to generations and cultures that can’t be tamed.

I have heard too many disturbing testimonies from multiple groups of people that prove my concern. Imagine being a woman in a video game design class and while you pitch your ideas, the entire room -3/4ths male, by the way- are growing disinterested and inadvertently shallow towards your existence because your main character doesn’t have sandy pale skin with a crew cut and equipped with a .38 Special. What do you tell to the aspiring Latino animator who wishes to create an animated film based on a known Mexican holiday outside of ‘No one will care’? Even worse, walk into a session with one of your peers being harshly criticized because of their lead characters having tan or dark skin where the posting outside of the film department reading ‘White Males Only.’

2014 is not 1964.

It’s too easy to assume that many of us, let alone those closest to us, live in homogenized vacuums with this world being heavily populated with too many viewpoints to count on both hands and feet. If you think your peers with tales like the above are exaggerating the truth or are ‘crazy’ and ‘looking too deep’, then you simply do not understand. You have never opened a history textbook. You barely pay attention to historical documentaries or current events. You have yet to walk a day in New York City outside of Times Square.  And furthermore, you refuse to open your eyes to the ever- growing demographics of the United States of America. It’s deeper than art.

Personally, I feel that it starts and ends with Hollywood, the music industry and any visual/ performing arts sector lending something called mutual support. People are embracing a modern world where progress can be made and artistic creativity knows no limits, where all it takes is for brave and different voices to be heard and embraced. There has to be trailblazer with a relatable counterpoint and it has to be empathized. And as long as there are helpless students and entertainment pundits disguised as bounty hunters sucking the nectar of their well respected yet horribly misinformed superiors, we’re getting nowhere.

But hey, what do I know! I’m just a slim fit cartoonist from Brooklyn, NY who has a donut munching, lime green sugar glider as a mascot.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

'Strawberry Dough' 2015 Calendar Photos

So after the Strawberry Dough book publish, I needed something to round up the year with. I have a 2015 project already in mind, so I figured.... why not make a 2015 calendar?! With the characters and setting already established, creating 12 original pieces for it turned out to be a productive project. Here are the pieces for viewing and the product's page is below. Enjoy!






Thursday, October 2, 2014

What It Looks Like When Thumbs Cry

Between my travels and ventures of San Francisco and New York City, many a sketch were made. Here's the collected few so far of 2014!





Friday, August 1, 2014

Strawberry Dough: The Preview

Hi there! It's been a rather long time since I've made a posting, but it's only because I was preparing for my next creative project, Strawberry Dough!!
So for starters, what is Strawberry Dough about? Well in order for me to answer that, take a look at this:

This is Squishy the Sugar Glider! He was a recurring character in a few of my CG projects during my earlier college days. I was surprised -and pretty ecstatic- to see a green furred flying possum who takes his name too literally gained a lot of notice based on two 30- second shorts. Last December, I decided to take it amongst myself to give Squishy and his misadventures a trial run in my sketchbook. The more pages I drew of him and many other related animals to a sugar glider's habitat, the bigger the idea grew into wanting to create a small book based on them! Here are some preview pages: 

Most of the pages have been completed through my mixing of pencil, watercolor, and ink. The last few steps are to edit the type font and narration in the comic pages, complete three more and choose an appropriate front and back cover. Hint: the image above are the examples. I'm fast approaching the mid- August publishing date that I wish to hit, and thankfully the project is in it's final steps. Alongside the book being available on Blurb, I'm planning to make more stickers, t-shirts and the poster below available for purchase via Redbubble. I will post them once the book is completed. Thank you for all of your support and share this project with any animal lover you know!!

Friday, June 6, 2014

SolForce 2014 (the first half!)

I'll explain the change from SolStars to SolForce in a future post. Until then, enjoy!