Bicycle Postcard – Part Two

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This is a continuation of last week’s post, on the idea process behind my bicycle postcard. Once I have decided on which rough to go with, I draw out the different pieces of the illustration. I drew the face and body of the cyclist separately, as I have a hard time drawing faces small. Next I transfer the drawing to the lino block, and start carving out the lino. I also carved the face and body/bike separately, so I could get more detail in the face.

Once the lino blocks are printed, I scan them in and start collaging digitally in Photoshop. I put the head onto the body digitally first, and then created a background digitally using simple shapes. I also added the spokes to the bicycle wheels digitally. I did a greyscale version first, to figure out the composition.

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Once I was happy with the background and composition, I added color. I use ColorLovers to pick out color palettes. In this case I used two palettes to choose colors from. The color palettes I used were: “I Like Your Smile” by joy_of_summer and “Praise Certain Frogs” by Skyblue2u.

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And that’s the final illustration! Thanks for reading!

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Bicycle Postcard – Part One

In January I worked on some new imagery for a postcard mailer, which I plan to mail out in the spring. I assigned myself the brief of “Bicycle Obesession”. I started by sketching out some ideas, different bicycles, and did a little sketch of a burly guy holding a bike. I liked this idea, so developed it further. I did more sketching, and created two roughs with different backgrounds.

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The guy ended up being skinny, as I thought I would be more true to the typical bicyclist, who is slim. I added a smoothie, to alude to a healthy diet. I tried out different backgrounds – one with a cityscape, and one with bicycle wheels. I decided to go the more traditional route, and go ahead with the cityscape background.

Stay tuned next week, I will reveal the final illustration.

Creative Genius

I re-watched an old TED Talk video with Elizabeth Gilbert recently. In it she talks about creative genius, and the beliefs around the word “genius”. Before the Renaissance, a “genius” was something separate from yourself, also referred to as a “daemon”. This daemon would help the creative person with their work. So you would be referred to as having a genius, not being a genius. After the Renaissance, “genius” became associated with solely the person, not an otherworldly spirit. Gilbert says this put an enormous amount of pressure on the artist. If a work failed or wasn’t successful, it was solely the artist’s fault. Whereas with a “genius” or daemon, it wasn’t entirely the artist’s fault. The public could say, “Their genius wasn’t with them”. I think the idea of a separate genius or daemon is a healthy way of describing the creative “spark” or inspiration.

Creative ideas are strange; you can’t call them up at will. They come to you at inopportune times, like during a shower, or while driving. From personal experience, inspiration is something indescribable that comes at me unexpectedly, and I have to “grab” it by writing down the idea or doing a quick sketch. If I don’t jot it down, it disappears from my mind. Sometimes ideas come to me while I am working or sketching; those are the lucky days. Most times they don’t, and I have to show up and do the work to grind out an idea, and the idea will be mediocre. Great ideas are something I can “feel”; when I get them I get a little rush, and brain spark. On the days when my daemon shows up, these are the great ideas. I can’t take all the credit for them.

Day in the Life

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Tuesday January 8th

6:30 am Wake up and get ready. Why do I wake up so early on my day off?

7 am Write blog post

8 am Go to Max’s for coffee and cinnamon bun

8:15 am Admin work

9:00 Laundry

11:00 Go to Small Victory on Granville street. Get a breakfast sandwich and latte. Good food but no WiFi

12:15 Work on some ideas for postcard mailer, do some sketching.

1:00 Wander around Chapters

2:00 Go to Trees Organic Coffee in search of WiFi and write blog post

2:50 Head home and browse in shops on the way

4:30 Arrive home & do more admin stuff

5:00 Post blog post, and shortly after this will call it a day.

I don’t always work a whole lot on my freelance days; I think this day totals about half a day of actual work. I tend to work in short bursts with lots of breaks in-between, but this works for me.

Monoprint – Second image

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Continuing on my monoprinting series. This is my first attempt on my own, with no guidance. Pretty rough, wasn’t happy with the results from that day. This print I left too much ink on the plate, so it printed really dark and black.

This is a second attempt at the same image, and the ghost print. The nice thing about scratching the drawing into the plate is the template is still there, so you can re-ink the plate again and again, without having to start completely from scratch. You still have to re-paint the image each time.

After printing that day, I had to remind myself that I am learning, and not every print is going to look amazing. I haven’t learned a new printmaking process in a while, so I have to remember what it’s like to be a student, and that it is frustrating sometimes.

Entrepreneurship & Drawing

Entrepreneurship and owning your own business is a lot like drawing and making art. It is constant trial and error. You are always evaluating and correcting your course or path.

When you draw, you make a mark, or shape, or series of marks on the page. Then you look at what you are trying to draw. You look back at your drawing and go, “Hmmm, this line or shape doesn’t look quite right.” So you erase the line and make another, improved mark. You repeat this process again and again, constantly correcting, until you feel the drawing is finished. By nature of the process, the artist is constantly adjusting and changing course.

The same is true in business. You try one marketing strategy. It doesn’t work as well as you had hoped. So you try something else. Your new strategy sort of works, so you adjust, and try to improve your strategy. You repeat this process again and again, constantly trying to improve your product or income.

I thought about this after making my goals for 2019. I evaluated my marketing from 2018, and tried to improve or change it. My physical mailer worked, so I am increasing the frequency this year. My Etsy shop is sort of working, but could be a lot better. So I am trying a physical space this year.

Evaluate and adjust.

Monoprint Series

I recently learned how to do monoprinting (a method of printmaking where you only get one unique print per plate). To practice this new skill, I have decided to work on a new art series, of building or architecture details. My first monoprint is of a downtown building detail from my trip to Seattle. I have since been collecting photos and doing small watercolor studies of interesting architecture that I see.

This is the watercolor painting I worked from for my first monoprint.

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This is the first print I pulled of my monoprint plate.

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To create the image, I started by scratching a simple line drawing into the plexiglass plate. Then I rolled the whole plate with etching ink. Once the plate is completely covered in ink, you use a rag to wipe off ink from larger areas (I started with the background area). For very white areas, you use a Q-tip to wipe off the ink. For some of the finer white lines, I used a chopstick. If you wipe off too much ink, you can always apply more ink again with a brayer. I did this on the background, because in my first attempt I wiped off too much ink, in too many directions. Every stroke and brayer mark, you will see in the final print. I really enjoyed the process, it is very painterly and expressive.

After pulling the print, I pulled a “ghost” print, which is another print, without doing anything to the plate. You print with whatever ink is left on the plate, resulting in a lighter image. I then added watercolor to the print, after it was dry.

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I will post more images as I create them, so stay tuned for updates on this project! It will probably be a long project, as I am thinking of turning it into a solo show.