Mid-year review. Is blogging dead? I’m okay.

Sorry I haven’t been around. It’s not your fault. You’ve been nothing but good to me.

Before I start, I have a question for you. Is long form blogging dead? There are so many pervasive, hip, services these days that, if you think about it, oppressively force us to be succinct. Can we stand reading anything other than a pithy comment anymore? I don’t even know if I can but I miss writing about how I make things and how I can help others make things.

So let’s stop worrying about everyone else. Let’s just go.

The past few months have really flown by. Some pretty fun things have happened:

Light Grey Art Lab

This will be the 3rd year I’ll be making work for these cool cats and their gallery. They usually have an open call for art and all their themes are diverse, interesting, and challenging. If you’re ever thinking about a good home to submit your artwork to for consideration, I can’t think of a better group of people. Above is my piece for their BOSS RUSH show, a celebration of video game baddies.

There’s also a new show coming up, Patches & Stitches, where I designed a new shiny patch. More on that soon.


Comic and Cartoon Art Annual
Cannibal Lane
, a silkscreen accordion book about a street market selling human delectables, made it into the Comic and Cartoon Art Annual(Special Format Category)! The show lasts from June 16 – July 3rd, with the opening reception on June 19 from 6-10pm($15 entry free).


A photo posted by Kim Ku (@spicytuna) on

New books are coming along!
Check it! A lot of process pics on my Instragram. I try to post at least once a week so you’ll find faster updates there. But I’m going to keep this going for more specific process work. Either option works.

Okay? Okay. Let’s keep going.

On Style

I like to read FAQs by artists/illustrators/cartoonists and often they’re asked, “how can I get my own style?” Usually, the answer is that continuous hard work will eventually help style float to the surface. My thoughts on that have always been, “but how long do I have to wait? What if it never appears? Will I know once it does?”

Years of personal mental turmoil later, here’s what I got.

If you want to be a professional illustrator, your style should be visually similar but can thematically vary. It needs to have that kind of fluidity especially since it has to bend to whatever content it’s subjected to it. If your style is drawing with flat geometric shapes with tiny faces, it should be able to apply itself to a romance novel or an obituary.

If you want your style to succeed though, it needs something else. Some special sauce. Something invisible that says there’s some real intention to the work, and somewhere in your gut, you just feel it. It means that even though I may not like the visual style, I can still respect it. It’s indefinable but at the same time, people can tell when a work is genuine. What is it? It’s you, real you!

Finding your invisible special sauce is a way better use of time than hopping on the latest visual style train. That’s going to keep people wanting more from you, not more from that flat art deco style you draw really well.

The question remains. How? Yes, continuous hard work is true. For me, if you’re already comfortable with drawing, drawing in your sketchbook every day isn’t enough to develop style. It’s like digging into concrete with a shovel. Right tool, wrong surface.

Instead, let’s make it more directed. Real style should seep through no matter what you throw at it. Spend a week making books and subject your drawings to it. Next week, paintings. Next, GIFs. Next, chalk drawings. Next, package design. Variety, funny enough, brings cohesion. Not only will you develop a visual style that eventually bleeds through all forms, but so will your ideas.

Style isn’t complete without you contributing to it. It’s like a good joke. Visual style is the setup and your ideas are the punchline. One is doomed to fall flat without the other.

Alas, this proposed direction takes time and courage. Fortunately and hopefully, we are all in small abundance of these things and they are mostly free of charge. It’s never too late to start, so I hope that if you want to, you do.

NOTE: This post was brought upon by two things. I’ve been thinking a lot about why people who have tried to steal style from others have failed(Answer: No special sauce applied. Disingenuity detected.). Mostly though, I want to offer a solution to people who haven’t found their special sauce yet. It’s only a matter of time before you do, friends!


October has been unofficially deemed Inktober, a challenge, for all who’d like to participate, to make one ink drawing a day for the entire month. It’s been going for years, and I finally couraged up.


Results have been varying depending on the day, mood, and motivation level.





Some interesting findings. Having no goal for this project has been a great goal. I had trouble from the get-go deciding what and how to draw until I just gave up. Each day has been an invitation to try something new.

Thick brush-lined drawings have become my favorite adopted style so far. I tend towards more controlled thin lines so thicker ones have been a nice departure.  They’re much more expressive but surprisingly requires an equal amount of effort. Each line has got to count.

This got me thinking. Franz Kline, an abstract expressionist, is one of my favorite purveyors of the expressive black line. He’s best known for his gestural black and white paintings which look deceivingly simple. Their compositions are often planned and practiced before being executed, but his paintings are still able to maintain a great sense of spontaneity and energy.


Pretty cool. There’s still some Inktober left for even thicker lines.

Summer, be gone!

Summer was… what it was. A bad eye problem, a flooded apartment, late nights at the office, general mental stress. I’ve been out of commission. Things are better now, fingers crossed!

The summer sketching was limited to just one book:




If you can’t tell, most of the ideas are about eyes and working. Subconscious choices, but creepy.

I was stalking this site a few days ago and came across my to-do list for 2014 that I wrote at the beginning of the year. Here’s an update:


A few more months to make magic happen!


Adventure Time August

Summer productivity has been at an all-time low for 2014, but there’s this and a few other gems:


For the month of August, I’ve been drawing an Adventure Time a day. Fan art has been the single greatest love letter I could write to the things I obsess over. I can still draw Ninja Turtles, Sailor Moon, and embarrassing other things from memory. Soon, Finn and Jake will live in the brain banks.


In a broader sense, committing to a drawing, or any activity, in a fixed amount of time isn’t a new concept. There’s this great talk I’ve watched at least 3 times from Kate Bingaman Burt, an artist, designer, illustrator, everything-doer, who calls this structure “automated projects.”

One of my favorite projects from Kate was when she set up a rule that she’d draw all her credit card statements until her debt was paid off. Because of this, she also found her love for drawing, which is a pretty great side effect.

Onward to Autumn 2014!

Summer bumming

Summer’s been pretty slow with silkscreen but finally got back into the lab this week and it felt like old hat. Ah, a big relief!

Meet möbius strip book:


It’s based off of a möbius strip, which according to Wikipedia, is a non-orientable two-dimensional surface with only one side when embedded in three-dimensional Euclidean space. That just means that it’s a strip of paper that’s connected with only one plane and no edge or end point. Does that make it easier to understand?

Hm. More on my process soon but just wanted to tell you I’m alive!

Break time, something like that

The print shop is closed until June so no new silkscreens yet. Sorry I’ve been missing!

In the mean time, I’ve been working on a book for the Stacks show at Light Grey Art Lab. Stacks is a show where each participant chooses a year between 1984 and 2014, and then makes a zine about it. It can be a personal narrative or based on a show or an album. Anything really, as long as it started during that year.

My year? 1992. Did you know X-Men: The Animated Series debuted that year? Because of that little cartoon, I walked into my first comic book store so I owe a lot to it. It’s weird what to think about what your takeaways from childhood are.

My tribute couldn’t just be nostalgic fan art. It had to have some fresh take on it or else, BLAH, boring. This sketch in my day planner started it all. Yep, the X-Men are hitting the gym.


After that, I really wanted to draw spaces and scenes from the X-Men series isometrically. It was fun rewatching the X-Men and looking at their living and working spaces with that lens on. I noticed so many details about where everyone lived, like how Beast installed these pipes on his lab’s ceiling so he could swing around and how Jubilee has a poster of Elvis up in her room. Nice details, X-Men cartoonists.

I won’t give away the final pages until the Stacks show in August, but here’s a peek.


I’m working on the cover now and it’s been a struggle. I was banging my head against a wall for weeks with another idea but I just gave up a few days ago. These are looking better so I’m feeling a little better. More Stacks revelations soon!

Time spent

A lot of this year’s work has been leading up to April with setting up shop at MoCCA Fest in New York the first week and LineworkNW in Portland the next. The fests were great and tiring for me, but overall great. If you got a chance to see the books I’ve made, thanks! The books also send their thanks.

Fests act as nice deadlines to get work done. I honestly put a lot of pressure on myself regardless, but if you find yourself slacking, get a table at your local comics/illustration/etc fest and let the fear of an empty table and wasted money drive you to make. While it’s nice to think we’re always driven, sometimes we need that kind of motivation(me included).

When I got back from Portland last week, I was back in the print shop the next day. I’ve been planning this book since the year’s begun, but due to technical difficulties, time, fest prep, and general other work, it’s been a headache. I finally got it all sorted and was really excited to started!


Only 5 more pages like this before I can start assembling. The window panes were cut before I started printing.


A preview of the format where cut-out window panes are like a Rear Window into other people’s lives. It’s inspired by living in New York, a sardine can with no personal space. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

More updates as soon as I make them!