Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Confessions of a Complete Nerd: Please no.

I read an article recently (fairly recently--by the time this publishes it will probably be long old) which detailed some things you should never say to an artist. And I thought I should give my opinion on some, as a not really artist but kind of but often caught with sketchbook open. And, yes. Many of these things have been said to me (that's probably why I remember them). So, in no particular order: Things never to ask an artist and why.

"What are you drawing?" **proceeds to lean closer and peer over your shoulder**
*especially annoying if they're leaning over your dominant hand. I NEED THAT ARM, DAMMIT!

I don't know about all artists, but for me at least, this is particularly annoying because I'm a perfectionist. Now, I have been known to take breaks while painting a particularly intricate piece, not going to lie, but those breaks usually occur after SOMETHING is done--i.e., basically one entire part of the piece is done. Also, at that point, I've probably already done a thumbnail, then a small sketch, and maybe then even a larger sketch to get every detail just right, so most of what's already drawn can be referenced and I can just point and say--that thing. But, while in the process of actually drawing and/or sketching--I HATE when people   do this. Sure, glance over my shoulder out of the corner of your eye. I expect that. I don't care. BUT LEANING OVER MY SHOULDER IS TOO FAR, SIR. And, often, even I don't know what I'm drawing yet. It may be an elf. It may be a concept drawing. It may turn into a failed sketch. Who the hell knows?

"Where do you get your ideas from?"

I don't know, where did you get that stupid question from? Oh, it just came from your brain? Well there's your answer.

To be honest, a lot of my stuff (pretty much all of it) is inspired or derived from someone else--but that's life. There's literally no way to be totally original anymore; all you've got to be is somewhat kind-of different than everyone else's derivative piece. But that isn't for you to judge. Which leads to our next one....

"That kind of reminds me of...." [Insert reference that could be spot on or not, who really knows, here]

This has happened to me both as an artist and a writer, and I can't stand it. Thank you, I already knew my work was derivative. But I didn't need you to tell me. Jesus.

This can be very detrimental to the life of a piece, too. If you say this too early in the process, it can really put someone off finishing, because if it already exists, why bother? But that's the point in time it's most important for the artist or writer to focus on conveying what they want to say--not on what other people have done. So when's the best time to say this? To be honest, if you're not handed a draft of the story or asked to critique the piece, never. You never know what point the artist or writer is at, so if you're not intimately involved in the process, JUST. KEEP. YOUR. MOUTH. SHUT.

"Can you draw me?"

Yes. I can. With devil horn's and a tail, precisely, because I hate you now. I feel like this one shouldn't have to be explained, but I get it so often that I will. Yes, I could probably draw you. But, no, most of the time I don't want to. First of all, you don't know what being a live model is like. You can't move. You won't like it. Second of all, if I wanted to draw you, I would probably go and get a picture from Facebook or something. Third of all, if I wanted to draw you, I would've asked. Safe assumption is, I don't. There are various reasons why, but I don't feel like explaining them. But if you still need more help understanding, here's what I hear when you ask if I can draw you: "Can you use some of your really expensive materials and try to draw me when you want to draw something else and then I'll probably unhappy and criticize the product?" WHO WOULD SAY YES TO THAT?

And finally...
"Is that anime?"

Now, I understand. Not everyone knows what anime really is (obviously you don't if you're asking this question....), but they've probably heard about it on the internet or seen maybe an episode or two of an "anime". Plus, it's an easy word to remember and kind of rolls off the tongue. It's also when you have a sort-of realistic style, but not really (I tend to edge more towards animation and cartoonist style, sometimes a little bit of graphic novel, and yes, draw influences from anime) and can't be put into most people's category of "cartoon". But, please. That does not make what I draw "anime." There are several reasons behind this:

1) "Anime" refers, pretty specifically, to animation (see where the word comes from?)--basically the stuff you see on T.V. Also, in most cases, though not all, it refers to Japanese animation, such as Dragon Ball Z, Naruto, Sailor Moon, or anything from Studio Ghibli (Japan's and anime's version of Disney). BY NO MEANS DOES THIS REFER TO DOODLES IN A SKETCHPAD. Unless these doodles are inspired by specific anime characters--even then, the term I would use is always fanart. Fanart. Because it's not animated. 

2) Sometimes this happens while the looking over your shoulder thing happens. In that case, refer to the above paragraph.

3) I don't fault you because you don't know the proper parameters of "anime", but I do fault you for trying to put my drawing style into a box. WITH ME STANDING RIGHT HERE. Trying to describe drawing styles of different artists too people is very difficult, so normally I'll only do it with other art enthusiasts or artists, since they probably will be able to understand half the things that come out of my mouth. But I don't specifically name the boxes I'm using if I'm speaking directly with them--I feel like it's kind of a no-no. Because you wouldn't say to a person, "Wow. You're totally trendy and derivative of that one really famous thing I in reality know nothing about, aren't you?" No. You wouldn't. So don't say that to an artist, cause that's what we hear. Or that's what I hear. Unless the artist owns up to it (see above where I said I was influenced by anime--but, again, big difference between influenced by and actually being anime.), don't tell them what they're style is. It's kind of insulting.

**sidenote: to a fledgling artist, this might be either a really huge compliment or a really huge insult, depending on what they're going for. Basically, the same rules apply: DON'T SAY IT.

To get off the negative, here's what you should say instead, because we're pretty sure that's what you meant:
"I really like your art style!"

So that about sums it up! I've been trying to get on the travel blog updates, but really busy. It's a miracle I got this up. Travel blogs take longer because I have to go through and upload pictures.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Confessions of a Complete Nerd: A Story of how I began Comics

I have been forever a fangirl of all things superhero, including, but not limited to, anime (Sailor Moon is a superhero, no matter what anyone says), cartoons, art, comic cons, cosplays, etc. However, the task of jumping into those twisty-windy-twirly-whirly superhero backgrounds? That has largely kept me away from comics for most of my life. That and an opinion that those comics are largely overdrawn (I have a thing for the simplicity of animation, don't ask me why. Blame Disney. I do.).

And, in all actuality, because I frequent online shopping and large brand stores (Don't kill me but the indie bookstores in my area make me want to re-alphabetize all their shelves. And that's not an urge I want to deal with while shopping for books.), my opportunity for jumping into the big publishers and their ongoing stories is quite difficult. Whether there is a comic book store in my area, I don't know, but the fear of being labeled and shunned in it (if it existed) also kept me out of those.

So, when I heard of comixology.com--the site that is the current best place for digital comics from every publisher--I was immediately intrigued. As I said, I already loved superheroes. The animated TV shows on Saturday mornings had got me hooked--but the prospect of trying to figure out which comic was the start of a run, which runs I should read, etc., had all but paralyzed my trigger finger. Luckily, the internet existed. I got my fill of comic book characters through their wikipedia pages. While it was never truly satisfying, I was no longer starved.

And then, something happened. First of all, I was living in Switzerland. I couldn't just browse through a bookstore for new reads--everything was in French. Secondly, wikipedia pages were becoming not enough anymore. And then, finally, I was faced with the question of where did I want to try to get an internship over the summer.

A summer internship? you say. What's that got to do with why you started to read comics?

Let me explain. I am an Industrial and Labour Relations student who's most interested in Human Resource Management. Not the most comics-centered place. At the ILR school of Cornell, there are several very prestigious and important internships you can go for. These are places that regularly hire ILR students, both for internships and for later work. They include big names like Cisco, Deloitte, and Morgan-Stanley, among others, and they're largely considered the cream of the crop for ILR students. As my friends around me were beginning to apply, I realized that these were not the places I wanted to end up at. I realized that the places I wanted to work were not large investment banks or online companies, but creative workplaces where I believed (believe) that my skills as an ILR student and my creative side would both get challenged. So I thought hard about where I wanted to work, and why, and what I would do if my expectations about the HR of that workplace, specifically, were not met. (That's a key part of the equation, I think, but something I won't elaborate on now. Perhaps in a later post). My list included places like smaller online stores (Modcloth), booksellers and blogs (Bookriot.com), as well as some bigger names, like Disney (which had always been on my list), Marvel (owned by Disney), and DC Comics (owned by Warner Brothers). And then I started looking into the internship process.

For most companies for which you are applying for as an intern, they want a cover letter, explaining why you want to work there specifically. For most of us, it's a formula approach. Open most relevant letter from different company, change names, go onto site and figure out some things that can be copy and pasted over the old company to make it sound like we know what we're talking about. For me, I found that I wasn't satisfied with that. While it was alright for simple internships, we were now talking about the dreaded junior year internship: those that inevitably (hopefully) lead to offers of full time jobs at the end. And working somewhere where I didn't think I could walk in wearing an interrobang necklace without receiving odd looks? Wasn't something I thought I could do.

So I looked into those internships. And while I know quite a bit about the things that influenced me in my early years (read: cartoons of Disney, DC (Justice League and Teen Titans, anyone?), and X-Men (the Avengers and Spiderman never really did it for me--though I'm loving the new Thor comics so far), I still hadn't broken into that oldest and most cherished form of superheroes: the print (or digital) comics.

So, long story short, I started reading comics. :)

Friday, November 14, 2014

A Trip to Schaffhausen, or A Little Fall of Rhine

In case you were wondering....

Yes, I am completely exhausted all the time. Yes I'm sure of the reason. Too many people all the time. Not enough recharge. Need....smaller groups....books....movies.....gah....recharge me....please....

So except for the next two weekends, I am basically done with traveling for the rest of my time here in Switzerland. I feel like I should not be as excited about that as I am, but....tired. So very tired...Packing this many trips into so few weekends is a chore for anyone. Packing this many trips into so few weekends with this many people (or any people, really) interacting with plus work for 40 hours a week (all the people) is especially draining for the introvert, I feel. Especially since I share my apartment with my landlady (No escape! The fact that I do a little victory dance when I know that she's not home when I get home is how pathetic I am.).

But last weekend, in an effort to use the most of my days on my rail pass (I paid for 6, I got seven, but I've used 6. I'm okay with that.) I took a trip to Schaffhausen, a small town in the Northeast of Switzerland, a little over a half hour's walk away from Rheinfall, the largest waterfall Europe. It was a short trip, and one I was glad I took.

I realize now that I take and add a lot of pictures to this blog....oh well. These above are of the actual town of Schaffhausen, which, fun fact, around the giant fortress things is a sort of kind of old moat thing. It's now drained of any water (if it ever had water--I am a little fuzzy on that fact) and is now home to Schaffhausen's own herd of deer. Yup. Deer. And not the cute short ones you can find in Japan who supposedly bow when you feed them (or attack you and bite you in the butt...it all depends...not that I speak from experience)--no, these deer are the proper big ones that we have everywhere else. I don't know where Japan got the mini variety, but they did. Luckily, however, the people of Schaffhausen are sensible and keep their deer and their people/tourists away from each other. No deer incidents occurred on this trip.

After walking around the town for awhile and sketching in some of the dying afternoon light, I walked back to my room (courtesy of airbnb) and relaxed for a little while. But before I got there I stopped at an American candy story (Jelly Bellies!!!) and an artisanal chocolatier's (two opposite ends of the spectrum). At the chocolatier's (Thomas Muller, for those wondering) I bought myself some macarons, because, MACARONS! Yum. I got myself champagne and hazelnut flavored, and can I just say--I've no idea whether the champagne macaron tasted like actual champagne (I believe it was a combination of a strawberry cookie and a chocolate frosting, but both were such delicate flavors...Oh, I want another) but it was probably the best macaron I've had so far.

So after my break I went out for dinner. I went to this little place my hosts recommended, and had a traditional dish of the area: Wildschweinpfeffer. Which is wild pig in Pfeffer (a traditional sauce of the area, I was told) sauce. With spaetzle and red cabbage....oh it was good. Some of the best red cabbage I've had. Just...so good....I'm literally hungry again after eating my kind of crappy dinner just thinking of it....

The next morning I had a late/lazy start, but eventually made the walk and my way to Rheinfall. It was a very pretty walk, and the falls were pretty awesome. I'll let the pictures speak for themselves. But that was basically the extent of my journey. So I think I'm going to go now...

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Confessions of a Complete Nerd: Introduction Edition

For awhile now, my blog has basically been a journal of my travels kept mostly for me, my family, my friends, my friends' family, and so on. That is completely fine. But for awhile, and the reason I started this blog, was so that I could get some opinions and thoughts out on the internet, in the open, for people to start discussion with me, or for me to discuss with myself. And for awhile I've been wanting to return to that. But as handling just travel updates is a little difficult for me (and as I haven't even written or drawn in my travel journal since Berlin, many weeks ago), I think it's safe to say that without regular schedules and a clear point of view, my updating is iffy at best.

And, on that note, I've also been thinking about where I want to go from here. What I want to happen to this blog after I'm done in Switzerland. What I want to focus on in the future.

So I've decided to introduce a new segment to this blog, called "Confessions of a Complete Nerd". Now, if you know me, you know I am, in fact, a huge nerd/geek (I've never really been sure of the difference.). Actually, if you've read through some of the older posts on this blog, you'll probably get that (I'm looking at you, Disney posts....). And, anyone who is friends with me will also acknowledge that in real life and in person, my geeky/nerdiness comes through clear and strong. But I've also tried to keep this part of myself hidden from my wider circle of peers and colleagues--basically, the people I mostly associate with through Facebook. I don't see these people much, we're not great friends. And, most likely, they already know about my nerdy inclinations, or at least some of them.

However, that doesn't matter. Whether they already knew (which they probably did) or whether they don't care, what does matter is how I approached this part of myself: the geeky, nerdy, quirky person that I am, that for many years (most of them in high school--can you blame me?) I kept mostly away from anyone other than a close group who I knew wouldn't judge me, because they were like me. I approached this person cautiously, with a slight fear of letting the full extent go because I felt I would be more of an outcast than I already was. But over the last few years I have grown to know and accept this person more. Don't get me wrong--I had, or at least believed I had, always accepted that I was different and weird. However, it wasn't until a few years ago that I accepted that weird and different was okay, was normal, and that there were people who would appreciate just how very weird I was, and would think my random assortment of facts and knowledge of Disney and musical theatre, my willingness and love of Google search, my love of Youtube and my status as a creator on deviantArt was not just different and nerdy and quirky--it was even cool.

It may seem that I've come late to the party, or that I'm even a little backwards, making the internet the last place I let my nerd flag fly; the internet has been a safe haven for many of us nerds over the years, and it has been for me, as well. But I have always been a wary person, and have never been one to join random forums (I'm still not sure how they work or how anyone follows anything that goes on in them), make friends on tumblr (which I do not have because I know my life would be consumed), or let many personal details of my life fly free on the internet under an anonymous name--unless it was on deviantArt under the guise of art (why have I more feared anonymity than actual human contact with real names? I have absolutely no idea).  So the Internet, where so many people I know but don't know is my last stop.

And after this very long explanation, I will try to explain what I want this little corner of the internet to be about. It's basically me in my nerd life. There you have it. So think comics, books, superheroes, occasional deep stuff, Harry Potter, Disney, etc. Maybe some stuff about growing up nerdy. Hopefully it will all work out.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

I AMsterdam, do you?

Sooo a couple of weeks ago (yes, I realize that I haven't written on my blog, or in my sketchpad/journal for a few weeks) I traveled to Amsterdam. This was the weekend after my trip to Berlin and Munich, and yes it did take me two full weeks to recover from two back to back trips backpacking around. I like to think it was because I for the most part was slightly stressed over laundry and packing everything into a tiny (it's actually quite large--I'm really just being dramatic) little backpack and not enough sleep and the onset of a cold/cough. But here's the story of Amsterdam: