Leading up to MoCCA Fest 2014

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MoCCA Fest is like my comics fest lighthouse. It’s the only fest I’ve tabled at and this will be my third year there.

My friend was the one who suggested the idea in 2012. I think she knew I was making a lot of books that were piling up in my apartment and MoCCA Fest would be a good test to see if anyone else liked them. My books are mostly screen printed and limited in edition. At first, I started screen printing to mass produce covers for my comics, but I fell in love with the craft and bookmaking. Nowadays, I make narrative driven books that are influenced by comics– it’s really a mashup.

I love bookmaking most because I can play with form. It gives people a chance to figure out an object that is unusual and hopefully interesting to use and understand. I’ve worked in tech for years and in many ways, my books are a rejection of that. There’s no norm. You can’t swipe to get to the next page. The home button may not take you back home. I want to take your perception of a book, uproot it, and show you something new. Well, that’s the hope.

But let’s be real, I make a lot of ghost books. They won’t change the world but I hope they bring you some joy. I’ll have lots of new things to show everyone this year so drop by the Blood Bakery table at MoCCA Fest, April 5-6, 11:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.

More details soon and previews of everything I’m bringing soon!

One moment at a time

On November 29, 2013, these sketches triggered the volvelle, or wheel chart, which is a paper construction with rotating parts. I actually didn’t know the its proper name for a long time so I called it(and still call it in my mind) the “circle book.”

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With the shape, I knew I wanted to make something about the cycle of time and decided on showing someone working at a diner. Then I could show a full day though meals and working.

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Prototyping begins. The mockup told me a few things.

1. This size is way too small (about 4″ in diameter).
2. Dividing the circle into 4 slices isn’t interesting enough.
3. Cutting the top circle in half does not leave enough mystery and it looks sloppy.
4. I must include a diner sign with food on it.

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The final mock and separations.

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I based the colors off the color wheel because I thought they transitioned nicely and fit well into the day and night scenes. If you look closely, you’ll see I printed gradients on opposite slices.

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Construction was probably the hardest since all the circles were hand cut with an exacto knife. They’re a little imperfect but I’m pretty satisfied with the final look. More circle books for the future, I hope!

Specs:

  • 9″ in diameter
  • 8 color print (4 gradients)
  • Bottom layer: Fabriano Tiepolo
  • Top layer: Plike in black
  • Edition of 15

Here and there…

My sketchbook has been filling up this year with book ideas. With every new book comes a pressure to one up my last one so it’s taking some careful planning to make sure all the details are right. Here are some sketches and mocks for a few of them:

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Lately though, I’ve been thinking in little prints. Fun small things that could fit between two bookends on a shelf. I’ve been on such a roll drawing them that I think my mind is subconsciously telling me that it doesn’t want to work on intricate books. For now, I’ll listen!

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If I have it my way, I’ll have 20 new postcard prints ready next time you see me. Go big or go home, right?

I’ll update soon on progress! Wish me luck.

A Good Day.

I’ve come to understand that when you freelance, it can be excruciatingly slow one day and lightning fast the next. It’s frustrating but I also like it. When I don’t have work piling up, I have time for other interesting projects.

After a slow start to the year, I drew this on the train:

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I felt a lot of kinship to the sketch even though it was just some random doing his thing; maybe it’s work, maybe it’s a personal project, maybe it’s tumblr, but he’s into it. Isn’t that kind of the computer nirvana we all want?

So I kept going with it. At home, I used a light box and redrew the image and inked it.

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Still not done, I  vectorized the image in Illustrator. Vectorizing a scanned image requires finesse to get all the lines the way you want but sometimes the details just don’t read as well as a drawn image. So as you’ll see, I changed the circle graph on the notebook to a to-do list, redrew the pen, and parts of the hand.

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At this point, I thought this could work for Cotton Bureau. Cotton Bureau is a quality, curated, crowd-sourced t-shirt making company. How they work is that you submit a design and if they like it, they’ll put it up for pre-sale on their site. Sell 25 before 2 weeks are over and it’ll get printed.

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So I sent my drawing off with fingers crossed and luckily it was accepted– but my fingers are still crossed. If you like the shirt, resonate with computer bonding time, enjoy wearing t-shirts, or would just like to send a small beacon of support, consider pre-ordering a shirt. We have 10 days left to get 25 pre-orders! If this isn’t your thing, don’t worry, more ghosts forthcoming!

Pre-order the Good Day shirt here.

January sketching and planning

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So far, January has been good downtime for me to think on future projects. Over the past few months, I’ve designed and built a lot of good books and I want to make sure I keep the momentum and growing from them. The hardest part has been figuring out how and having good reasons why.

Every season, I like to make themes around what I’ll print. Over the summer, I made books with slants. In Fall, I made popup books. After some mulling, my goal this season will be to work bigger. I don’t normally work big– I like small things because they feel cozier to read and they’re more manageable to make. So for now, yes to bigger concepts, bigger books, bigger prints, bigger everything.

Tea time ghosts

I’ve been thinking in prints more than books lately so I’ve been going with the flow. The latest: Tea Time.

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If you look closely, you can see the order I printed the layers. First black, then pink, then white, then green, then a little more black for the faces. This process lets the characters and objects live independently of each other which is one of my favorite aspects of silkscreen. Despite being a flat image, the layers add nice subtle dimension.

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When I set up my Etsy shop, hopefully early next year, I’ll drop this in and let you know!

Tea Time
11″ x 17″
4 color screenprint (black, white, pink, green)
Edition of 15

Leaving things to chance

First, sorry there’s a been a silence. Second, happy Thanksgiving fellow Americans. Lastly, let’s get to business!

To love silkscreen, you have to embrace a systematic process: draw, make separations, shoot your screens, print, print, print, fix problems, print, and assemble. But we’re all human and that can get boring. Here are a few things I did to break the monotony while making the pop-up book that I mentioned in a previous post.

1. Leave colors to chance. I love to print on black but I never test how colors would look on it in photoshop. I avoid using the computer for all of my books– it never felt right and I’ve had too many frustrating experiences printing separations on vellum.

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2. When making a mockup, it’s ok to second guess yourself.  It’s more fun if the non-essential things aren’t final. It’s not so fun if the book doesn’t work so pick wisely.

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I’m still assembling Curtain Call, but I’ll get you the full low down when it’s complete.

Making of: 6 Degrees Show postcard

On December 6, I’ll be joining a show called 6 Degrees put on by Light Grey Art Lab in Minneapolis, MN.

The Concept
1. Gather people from all over the world to make a limited-run postcard about themselves and their location.
2. Mail your postcards to LGAL where they’ll collate and resend everyone a full set of cards.
3. Take one step closer to making it truly a small world.

The Postcard: Neon Sign Ghosts
My postcard is a tribute to the neon sign billboard, a now mostly discarded means of advertising in NYC. Fortunately this Pepsi sign, one of the last remaining neon billboards I’ve seen, is near my home. Its purpose is more for glitz but I’m still glad it’s there.

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Surprise! It glows in the dark! A true tribute to the neon sign.

If you’re in Minneapolis on December 6 and have some time, check out the show!

Pressure to make

A few months ago, I promised myself I’d spend until the end of the year making pop-up books. Over the past few weeks, I’ve learned so much reading and seeing beautiful old pop-up books with the help of friends. It’s been a great self-imposed adventure.

The thing I like most about pop-ups is the simple cut. One cut can make all the difference to turn an ordinary page fold into one that conveys a story in its form as much as in the illustration. In the end, I think these simple folds/cuts will always be my favorite.

But when you explore, you also have to do the things you don’t think you’ll like. In this case, it’s making the pop-up books that involve a lot of cuts and separate pieces I have to glue together. It’s a horror show to organize, and I’m not typically that organized,  so this one’s been taking a long time to figure out.

This is the format I’ve chosen, a convention that’s typically used in pop-up cards, which are also rare these days.

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Unfortunately in that state, it’s a card, not a book. When I first sketched this, I thought it would be enough to make a book that’s just one pop-up like this, but I knew it was cop out.

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That just means a lot of sketching and brain work.

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The work compounds.

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Can you tell what’s going on? That’s the state I’m currently in– the experimental stage, but I’m excited and horrified.

TO BE CONTINUED!!!!!