One of my favorite traditionally-colored webcomics is Dawn Chapel by B. Root. Brian has a gift with watercolors, and I decide to ask him if he would be willing to do an interview with me. Dawn Chapel is a series of eloquently rendered short stories in comic-form. Each story consists of detailed panels and beautiful illustrations that could easily stand on their own. I strongly suggest going and reading some of Brian’s stories. My favorites are A Fine Day Out, Firefox has Crashed, and They Sit So Still.

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Have Some Questions

When did you start drawing comics and what inspired you to?

I started doing The Dawn Chapel in October of 2009, but I’ve fooled around with comics a few times before then. I did a few comics for the university newspaper when I was in school, and attempted a webcomic called Rabicano about a year before my current one that I stalled out on as soon as I started.

I’ve been wanting to get started on a comic for something on the order of ten years now, and I had these big obnoxious plans about these awesome stories I wanted to tell and kept not ever getting started because I didn’t really feel like my art abilities were at the point where they’d do any justice to the stories; until finally I decided that the time when I was ‘good enough’ just wasn’t ever to come and I was wasting my life not doing this thing I wanted to do.

So with The Dawn Chapel I threw out any big stupid ambitious plans about epic, sweeping stories and just gave myself a homework assignment of one page a week, doing little short stories that I wouldn’t have to commit years of time to, and put the comic work itself first and foremost. I didn’t fuss over the web page layout (right now it’s still the barebones Comicpress theme, now that I’ve been at it for almost a year, I should probably take the time to do something with it) and used a domain name I’d registered for another project I meant to do and never got around to, and just started throwing comics at it.

There were a couple of specific things that gave me the boot in the pants to get started on the comic, though: one was a contest called the Sequential Endurance Competition, where all the participants were required to draw and post a page of comics every day, that I thought would be pretty good practice but then missed the entry deadline. The other was seeing my friend Beckey do her comic String Theory, which she started at around the same time I started Rabicano, but she actually stuck with her project and seeing her successes was hugely motivating to me.

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Art History Lesson! Ukiyo-e: The Floating World

I’m going to start out by saying I have never been to Japan. In fact, I’ve never been to any part of Asia. IN FACT, I have never been outside of the United States. Yes, I know, it’s tragic. Thankfully, I have the internet (and awesome worldly friends), and I’ve been introduced to some really fantastic cultures, and in that turn, some really remarkable art techniques.

Ukiyo-e: The Floating World

One of these is Ukiyo-e, which, roughly translated, means “pictures of the floating world.” It was an art form in Japan in which artists printed amazingly detailed pictures on blocks of wood. The subjects of the paintings ranged from city life to mountain landscapes to ocean scenes. They were meant to show the beauty of the world around us. This technique was developed in the 17th century and became popular with townspeople who were not rich enough to own original paintings. Woodprints were easy and fast to make, taking one painting and making hundreds of prints. Because of this, they were mass-produced, so much so that soon there were far too many of them and their popularity waned. They were considered so worthless, in fact, that the Japanese began to use them as packing materials on ships. It wasn’t long before prints found their way outside the country and the rest of the world became aware of their existence.

European artists were in awe of the paintings. Impressionists like Vincent van Gogh and Claude Monet were greatly inspired by the artwork, and the influence of the Ukiyo-e art form was given a name: Japonisme. Though the rest of the world had embraced it, traditional Ukiyo-e died out in the early 1900s, and despite attempts to resurrect it, it has never hit the popularity it had once enjoyed.

I own several different paper prints of traditional Ukiyo-e images, but have never had the opporunity to see an actual woodprint of one. Are there any art forms that you admire but are no longer around? I’d love to hear about them! Feel free to share. For now, enjoy some of my favorite Ukiyo-e prints. For more information about Ukiyo-e, please visit The Japan Ukiyo-e Museum and the very informative Ukiyo-e wiki page.

ukiyoe-sharaku ukiyoe-ogata ukiyoe-kiyonaga

ukiyoe-greatwave ukiyoe-tokaido

ukiyoe-suzuki ukiyoe-edo ukiyoe-kitagawa

ukiyoe-kunisada ukiyoe-kuniyoshi

ukiyoe-yoshu ukiyoe-fuji ukiyoe-hatsuhana

Clicking on any image will bring you to the Wiki page for the artist. Enjoy!

alice-bio-150x150One of my favorite aspects of Twitter is just how many amazing illustrations I stumble upon there. It’s how I discovered the lovely and colorful work of Alice Rebecca Potter, a designer and illustrator from London, England. Her simple lines and bold shapes make for a unique style all her own. Alice says of her work, “Big colours, strong shapes, and unforgiving lines continuously creep into my work. Lately that includes people, maps, and architecture, but I like to draw the natural world just as much.”

Alice was sweet enough to take some time and answer a few questions about her style and process. Thanks for the great interview, Alice!

Hi Alice! For those who aren’t familiar with your work, describe your style of illustration in one word.

Colourful!

alice-flowers

You went to school for Textile Design. What came first? Textile Design or Illustration?

Textiles came first, I suppose, because my mum was a textile designer in the 70s, so I was very aware of it. To be honest I didn’t really know much at all about illustration until a tutor suggested in my second year that maybe I should have done an illustration degree.

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You’ve had a chance to work on some fun projects. What was your favorite?

Yes, 2012 has definitely been kind to me. If I had to pick a favourite then it would be the recent Ted Baker project. I liked the freedom of the project, and also getting the chance to meet some of the other illustrators involved on a mass print signing day.

alice-tedbaker

Tell us a little about your process. Where do you get your ideas and how do translate them into a beautiful finished product?

When I am working on a project I tend to a little bit of collage or sketch in a sketchbook, which I then translate onto either Illustrator or Photoshop. I tend to build shapes and layers up, and then I play around a lot with colour until I am happy. Lastly, I consider texture and whether it is needed or not.

SONY DSC

I love the colors you use in your artwork. What is your favorite color or color scheme?

Thank you! I love colour too, and it has taken a long time for me to learn how to use it. I love using similar groups of colours in my work, for example, red on pink, and blues and greens. I think you will see a lot of these shades in my work.

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And finally, what fuels your illustration?

Eating well, and being healthy and full of energy. It’s the only way I get anything done!

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Find more of Alice Potter and her work here:

One of my absolute favorite books of all time is The Last Unicorn by one of my absolute favorite authors of all time (and good friend), Peter S. Beagle, and like many kids my age, I can quote the animated movie like no one’s business. Back in November, The Last Unicorn movie celebrated its 30th birthday: in 1982, the animated movie premiered at over 600 movie theaters across the country.

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“That wasn’t a lot, even back then (‘big’ releases showed on two or three times as many screens) and the promotional budget was next to nonexistent – only $150,000 nationwide for press kits and newspaper advertising. (Television ads? Billboards? Forget it. Way too expensive.) Despite these limitations, however, something miraculous happened. When the box office reports came in for the weekend, The Last Unicorn was the #6 film in America.” (The Raven, Peter Beagle’s eNewsletter, 11.19.12)

If you aren’t familiar with the book or the movie, here’s a quick summary. It was written in 1968 by Peter S. Beagle, and is about a unicorn, the very last of her kind, and her journey to find out what happened to all the others. It features a wonderful collection of characters that help (or hinder) the unicorn on the way. There are wizards, illusions, princes, dragons, and of course, magic. The perfect mixture for a perfect fantasy epic. The movie is a beautiful adaptation of the book – as it should be since Peter also wrote the screenplay. A list of amazing actors appears in the movie – Christopher Lee, Angela Lansbury, Jeff Bridges, and Mia Farrow, just to name a few.

So in celebration of 30 years of The Last Unicorn movie (and of the recent successful TLU tour which I was honored to be a part of – I’ll be writing more about THAT soon – I promise!), I’m doing a showcase of some of my favorite fanart illustrations. Because I think there are few things that really show how much and how many people love something than fans making their own art for it. So without further ado.

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Some Resolutions and a Chickadee

Chickadee-dee-dee-dee.

Happy New Year! Resolutions? Sure. Why not. 1. More Art. 2. Less candy (crap, failing this already). 3. Be more fit (got kicked out of bootcamp on the first day because of a hurt disc but I’m joining a yoga/stretching class so we’re doing good on this one). 4. Bring back The Family Menagerie. 5. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes (agh). 6. DANCE MORE.

I don’t think any of those need elaborate explanations. Mainly, my focus this year will be on health and personal growth. I want to be healthier both in mind and body and so I’m turning to things that make me happy. Drawing of course is good for the soul, as is dancing (and singing – which I’m quietly going to try to do more of – Ash got me a ukelele for Christmas so I’m teaching myself to play), and making mistakes is important for growing (I’m horrible at allowing myself mistakes). I have a horrible reputation for not taking care of myself physically so I’m making that a priority this year. Get healthy. Eat more veggies. Treat my body with respect. Be Good. And all of that jazz. Excitement!

I’m slightly less excited about the whole “less candy” thing.

My favorite part of the resolution is drawing more. Keep an eye on this space as it’ll be updated again in the very near future with more sketches. For now though, since really this post is about my favorite things and being happy, you should all check out my tumblr since that’s my virtual happy place. It’s full of shiny, happy things.

And that, ladies and gents, concludes this first “life” post of the year. How have you been? Have any resolutions you can’t wait to kick into gear?