Thanks to my son Griffith, I have started to shop a bit more carefully for kids’ clothes. My retail wanderings have brought me to Threadless in search of something reasonably-priced and unique, and they have not let me down! As a bonus, I have also recently discovered the Atrium, which is a portal for contests run by Threadless.
In browsing the Atrium contests, I’ve seen a few that sounded like fun design challenges that have inspired me to break out of my usual routine of day-job-family-workout, and start burning some of that artist midnight oil again. The most recent contest that has struck my fancy was the Threadless + Nightmare Snowboard competition.
It’s been several years since I’ve gone snowboarding. I first started back in 2001, and used to go to Tahoe almost every weekend with my friends. In the ensuing years, I’d take a few extended trips, until I kind of ran out of money and stopped going. When I finally had a little extra cash again, I used it to prioritize family life and ‘boarding once again took a back seat. Still, I dream of the day when I’ll be able to ride again, and enjoy the breathtaking views that can only be seen while you’re on the mountains.
In forming my design for this competition, I considered all the different brands involved: Threadless, who’s always up for cool shirt designs, and Nightmare Development, a co-op of snowboarders raging against the machine and generally dedicated to kicking ass. The final brand would be me, which is basically about making panda art these days So, I basically wanted to combine us as 3 brands into a new design that would speak to all of us.
Below are the images that will walk through my essential process…
The initial rough rough draft of seeing how it might lay out on the snowboard. Originally I thought I’d have a snowboarder riding away from the Nightmare Panda.
I further fleshed out the idea. I killed the snowboarder; for some reason a white wolf was calling out to me.
I scanned this in and brought it into Adobe Illustrator. (And posted it to my Instagram @pmbq )
I got super-busy with other things for awhile, and didn’t get to touch this for a few days. As the deadline approached, I wasn’t sure if I was going to make it, but I decided to just work on it anyways. (I was liking the design, and even if I ended up missing the deadline, making art is just good for my soul.) Here’s how it progressed after a few more hours:
As I continued to work on it, the story of the image started to really speak to me. A nightmare experience can be overwhelming, terrifying and horrible. However, every nightmare will eventually end with the dawn of hope. I basically wanted to depict both themes of terror and hope, and show how they are part of a balance. You can’t know terror without hope, and vice versa.
For final touches, I reworked the design so that it would be more appropriate for a t-shirt. I also wanted to enhance the theme so that it would be more “snowy.” Basically I just went crazy making it a board design that I would be proud to ride Here’s how the final layout turned out:
You can check out (and vote for )my final submission on Threadless!
My son Griffith is quickly approaching two years old, and is starting to show an interest in scribbling with pens. He’s also been exposed to computers and technology since birth, and becomes quite insistent on playing on the computer whenever he sees one on.
The day finally came where he wanted to use my Intuos. I was starting to sketch out a picture of Hana Neko, my Tea Club main character, when he wandered into my room. I plopped him on my lap and let him have a go at it.
I’m proud to unveil our first digital collaboration:
I’m still determined to raise him to be a rock star, but if he ends up being an artist that’s not too bad either.
Having a kid has been life-changing. It has been challenging, but more than that it has been wondrous and incredibly inspiring. Every moment I spend with my son Griffith is fodder for a new story; living life through his eyes makes me appreciate even the simplest things. Being a parent has really been amazing.
So, onto this illustration…recently there has been an ad campaign by JCPenney department stores full of people screaming “NOOOOOO” because they are missing shopping sales. Griffith watched it, and suddenly started scrunching up his face and mimicking them. We spent the rest of the weekend scrunching our faces up at each other and screaming “NOOOOOOOO!” (Yes we are still doing it right now.)
Ah, simple times
(As a side note, Griffith just got a haircut. I loved his long baby hair, but it was getting into his eyes and ears and occasionally irritated him. His new haircut makes him look like he’s 5 years old, even though he is only 14 months old. Now I tell everyone he’s 5 years old. Yeap, I am totally loving every second with this kid.)
Drank my morning coffee, and the caffeine told me to draw Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. So, here’s Donatello:
Done in about 1.5 hours. Fanart is a fun exercise. Also, the comics I drew in middle school prominently featured TMNT…they were part of a superhero group that I created called “The Z-Men.” I was so creative back then, don’t you think?
I’ve been trying out different brushes in Painter, trying to see what different textures feel like. This Tea Club drawing is an exercise in that, plus combining my recent interest in trying to figure out the world of kickboxing:
It could use a little more work in finishing the rendering, but I’m calling it “done” because it’s more like an exercise. I think the more I do these kinds of painting exercises, the more my rendering style will develop.
(For those of you not familiar with Tea Club, these are my main characters Hana Neko and Mr. Bear.)
There was so much I wanted to say in the past 2 years…convention updates, incriminating evidence about the guy who hit my car at WonderCon 2010 and didn’t do the right thing, comics about my pregnancy during 2010, comics about the fun and sometimes ridiculous stuff going on at my day job…but I didn’t get a chance. Life has been very full since I decided to start a family, and it’s been a struggle to find time for art and myself. Still, my little boy Griffith has been worth all the pain, and he brings joy and inspiration to me every day:
So! Rather than focus on everything I didn’t do in the past 2 years, I am choosing to move forward. A new year is always a chance for a new start, and I’m resolving to close the gap between thinking and doing. Basically, that means dedicating more time to get back to the basics of simply creating art (and maybe a little bit of writing about the process or the pieces).
I’ve also resolved to put together the last volume of Tea Club later this year. I have to get through a move and a wedding first, but my plan is to debut Tea Club volume 2 at Comic-Con 2012. Once this volume is done, I can finally close the chapter on Tea Club graphic novels…at least for now
Unemployed Pandas will also be coming to a close very soon (the loose goal is to finish it sometime this month). There are a handful of comics left before the series end, and I’m going to spend today drawing one of them. Once the last few comics have been drawn, I’ll be scheduling the updates to the series finale.
My hope is to have more updates everywhere–this website, this blog, my company Facebook page, and of course my online store. It is quite a challenge to coordinate all those efforts plus juggle my new family, but in the end it’s all very happy-busy work and will be all worth it.
Thanks for coming along on this ride with me, I will have more to show soon!
Just a quick note to say Happy Earth Day. We’re a company of ecological fighters, didn’t you know?
I know, I know, I need to do a WonderCon 2011 write-up. Will try to find some time in the next few weeks for the recap!
Last day before WonderCon 2011! We’re setting up our booth at Moscone Center today (Booth #834) but here’s our last shirt design debuting at the show:
Yeap, none other than Big Butt Panda!! He is one of my flagship characters who has been around P.M.B.Q. Studios for the last 10 years…hard to believe.
Big Butt Panda is a character who is very shy and humble, but is also quietly confident in that he doesn’t apologize for who he is or what he does. He’s got a big caboose and knows it…and is even a little bit proud of it. Life is good for him, and it gets even better when you bring him a healthy serving a bamboo. It doesn’t get much better than that. Could he be the people’s champ? He is definitely a champ at P.M.B.Q. Studios, that’s for sure.
As for the design, my personal art exploration these past few years is to work with a more organic look. I’ve roughed up my usual clean edges for a more “brushy” effect on this latest iteration of BBP. This exploration mirrors my preference in the traditional art world, which is to work with a brush. It’s such a versatile tool, allowing you to create many different line widths by simply varying the pressure. It also takes a lot of time to learn how to harness brush techniques. Personally, I enjoy the challenge of working with whatever comes out of a brush…if only I didn’t dislike scanning so much, I might do more traditional works with a brush.
BBP will be available in guy and girl-style t-shirts. If you can’t make it to WonderCon, these shirts will be available for sale in a few weeks on the Pandaline T-shirt Shop.