Creativity has been an expansive journey that has continued for decades.
"I never really fully realised just how multi-faceted my creativity would become..."
Exploration. Inspiration. Frustration. This is not a walk in the park. Nor is it a blue-sky, sunny day paradise that symbolizes success and fairytale fantasiess. It is journey that has challenged me in ways that have forced me to reevaluate my views and even question my own ambitions. In the begnning, not having anyone to guide me and help develop and sharpen my skills was a major roadblock. I found myself being inspired by the social success of many sci-fi and fantasy artists yet the question of which tools I should use for my battleground eluded me. Attempts to network with other artists always failed. Over many years of exploration, inspiration and frustration it became evident that I was indeed on my own. I remember as far back as being five or six years old when I first started doing cartoons.
Like many serious artists I became proficient with the most basic tool, the HB pencil. Years passed by, and I experimented with different character designs, with more convincing poses and learning the rules of lighting and developing new shading techniques. Over the years it became more like a dance or play, back and forth between quitting in frustration and then marvelling at my own newest masterpiece, and then failing again.
In the Fall of 2005 I got my own PC and started digitizing my artwork with a scanner and using cheap free painting programs to colour them in. I started using better tools and became even more motivated to keep hammering away. Frustrations and setbacks still continued but ultimately it was at this point that I started a new path into my creative future, and shortly after I moved to Alliston and purchased a digital tablet, which unequivocally became the most powerful tool I have ever used. After about two weeks of using it my creativity just skyrocketed. It wasn't because I could put flashy effects on my artwork with the click of a button; it was because the tablet gave me the ability to streamline my process of designing and editing my artwork.
"...after about two weeks of using the tablet my art just skyrocketed."
Being in Alliston for those three years put me in a situation that encouraged me to reflect on myself, to explore different avenues of my interests, of my passions. One of the most vivid memories of that point in my life was biking home in the Winter from Honda at 1:00 am every night on a long and dark stretch of highway, all alone under that same crisp and clear starry night sky that I looked up into every night, wondering what lies out there, hundreds, thousands of light-years away. I wish I the eyes to see further than Hubble.
I never really fully realised just how multi-faceted my creativity would become until I met Don, Eve and Gabby, three of the most influential people I have come to known. A digital artist, Eve had a very eccentric personality, with vibrant colours and spiritual roots evident in her artwork; Don, a photographer, captured subtle details of the natural world with a dark and clandestine air about them. He would preach "going against your grain," meaning face your artistic weaknesses and improve them so they become your strengths; Gabby had a nack for both pixel-art and vector graphics and was always working on new projects. Taking an interest in both grotesque-horror themes and cute animals and critters, she always came up with something interesting. The three of us would stay in one room for hours on end listening to music, creating new art and checking out the latest professional grade gear for our hobbies; anything from high-end cameras to thousand-dollar high definition digital drawing displays and equally-expensive professional editing software.
Returning to North Bay brought me into a very active phase of my life as shortly after I had settled in I had registered a business name and began focusing more on my website and networking with others. I met two associates of the White Water Gallery, Adam Beamish and Clayton Windatt, who offered me a placement in a booth at North Bay's 2009 Summer in the Park festival where I took a huge risk: digging into my rent money in order to purchase prints from Staples so I'd have artwork to sell. It was a huge rush and I had quite a lot of fun. I even made my very first bath of t-shirts the following year.
I always have and still do begin my artwork with traditional HB pencils on white paper, digitizing them and then using the tablet's pressure sensitivity contol the thickness of my lines, brining a new dimension of life into my characters and designs. The ability to change the opacity or size of a paintbrush with the flick of a finger lets me fill in solid base colours in record time and quickly move on to the shading and highlighting phase. I have convinced three of my friends to purchase a Wacom digital tablet and would recommend this to anybody with a spark of creativity. And if you're really serious, there's always the Cintiq 24 HD.
Looking forward I hope to open a store when time and money allows it, offering custom graphic embroidered hats, shirts and sweaters, shades, sandals, belts and belt buckles and bracelets. It's taken me quite a lot of work and perserverance to come this far. If you have even a spark of creativity inside you and you have ever felt hopeless, you are not alone. Don't feel bad that you've quit on it once or twice. I threw in the towel for ten years at one point in my life. Pick it back up again. And yes, it will be a very grudgingly slow process that will both cause you pain and strengthen you. I hope it hurts. Don't focus so much on the future. Look at right now. Make something awesome.