Wednesday, November 23, 2011

My Sewing Project
So what am I doing now?
That's what I'm doing.
I know, I know... it seems as though I flit around here and there, aimlessly trying on this art project, and that art project... letting go of one, only to replace it with another, but I've realized that this is the best way for me to work.
I'm nearly done my sewing class which I've been taking at FIT. My instructor is brilliant; no nonsense and strict, is a champion of hard-work, and softens to laughter; cracking a few jokes of her own from time-to-time. I'm learning an incredible amount in this class, and it's starting to feel as though a dream of mine that I've had since I was a child is beginning to manifest. I have to interject here, that I am not segueing out of illustration to become a Fashion Designer, or Tailor, or Seamstress (Seamster?). I have to announce this because I don't want rumours to spread that I've left Illustration.
I love to draw, and Illustration as much as it my profession, is still a passion of mine.
So there.
Don't go spreading rumours.
My studio practice purposely includes doing things, creating objects, and exploring creative disciplines which exist outside of illustration. I've sewn a skirt thus far, and now I'm onto a sewing a woven shirt (photograph above). It's nothing that I could wear, but it's the process of creating something new, which is entirely outside of my element, that continues to support my love in the craft of making things.
I think that some individuals have this fear of concurrently doing too many different types of work. I can understand the reasoning behind this. It means being designated as the Jack-of-All-Trades character-type, and being the Expert-of-None. I see this both as truth and fallacy because for me, at least near the beginning of my Illustration career, when I first gave myself permission to admit that I may have a future in this discipline, it was all that I focused on; which I believe was an important decision to have made. Having my focus on Illustration offered me a kind of direction to follow, which has continued to this day.
Having said that, I find in order to move forward, it means stopping along the way, to rest, to observe, to ruminate over; to do other things in order to be continually inspired.
The variety of tasks that I've given myself throughout the day, doing some commercial illustration some days, and then self-initiated projects on others, has introduced a kind of playfulness within my studio practice. I've written about this before, but I don't know if I've realized just how much it's meant to me until recently.
I was speaking with my boyfriend last night about this thing and that, and he mentioned that my work has improved over the last year and a half.
Without trying to sound conceited, I agreed with him.
It's important to understand how to distance ourself from our own work in order for us to view it more clearly. It's easier and even automatic for us to critique other people's work:
I love this.
I hate that.

Move this more to right.

Erase that area.

Add more of this

and that.

It looks too much like James Jean...

But oftentimes when I look at my final creation, I'm not always entirely happy. I guess this is obvious; we are ourselves, the harshest judges of our work. But it's necessary to find a means to move past this, and learn how to evaluate unflinchingly, this work of ours that is in front of us. My artistic exploration over the past three, or four years has become the catalyst for my work's improvement. I have read and listened to other people stories about the choices they have made (sometimes difficult) in order to become happier and more fulfilled in the studio, and as a pleasant fallout from that, have created stronger artwork. Just a few weeks ago, during my time spent at the Ringling College of Art and Design, a seed was planted in my brain. I listened to Chris Buzelli describe his decision (years ago) to spend more time on the execution of his paintings; to let go of those projects which did not represent the kind of artist and illustrator that he wanted to be (although they paid the bills) in order to devote more time on creating work that resonated within himself. And looking at mister Buzelli's work over the past several years, it's no doubt that his pictures have grown ever more lush, and mysterious, and beautiful and mesmerizing.

Distance allows for clarity.
Not the distance that is separated by inches or feet, but the metaphorical distance that we sometimes create to wonder about a particular situation, that allows us to analyze a move we are about to make; that moment when we step outside for a breath of air before going back inside to make a decision.
It's this distance between us and our work which allows for its improvement; staring at it, and embracing those parts of it that are good, but also accepting, reflecting on, and hopefully resolving the areas in the image that are weak. Of course, this can just be personal taste, and opinion; Illustration is, after all subjective. But on a personal level, I'm more or less aware of what I would like my final piece to look like; nine times out of ten, I don't come even close to the image that I envision it to be, which helps me to push further the next time. The same goes for my studio practice, the effort that I've put into projects, and the marks that I've made on those works that nobody will ever see has helped to make my work better. I have no proof, but it's what I believe is true because in the last year few years I have made choices which have been out of the ordinary -- uncharacteristic choices that I thought I was never capable of making; I've taken some risks in the hopes that it would (and will) continue to make me happy.
A happy studio practice means a happy Marcos.

I'm reading 1Q84 right now, written by Haruki Murakami (big fan! big fan!) and I was struck by a conversation that occurs between a taxi driver and the character Aomame,

" And also," the driver said, facing the mirror, "please remember: things are not what they seem."
Things are not what they seem," Aomame repeated mentally. "What do you mean by that?" she asked with knitted brows.
The driver chose his words carefully: "It's just that you're about to do something out of the ordinary. Am I right? [...] and after you do something like that, the everyday look of things might seem to change a little. Things may look different to you than they did before." (1)

(1) Murakami, Haruki. 1Q84. New York, Alfred A. Knopf, 2011.

Monday, November 21, 2011

I've Got a Ticket to Anywhere

Keep it quiet... people are sleeping...

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Gold Medal from the Society of Illustrators, NY
I found out yesterday that I won the Gold medal for the Society of Illustrator's Institutional category. This piece is called Textiles, and was published within a book promo, entitled "X-Factor" for my agent at The Art Department. I'm thrilled. I've been working on a new set of fashion inspired illustrations over the past few months; this is one sample of it. More to come in the next several months (hopefully). It's hard to crack the whip on yourself sometimes when there's no one else there to motivate you. In any event, congratulations to all of the Society of Illustrator winners; I've seen some of the selected pieces... it's going to be a great show all across the board.

Friday, November 11, 2011

For I Am But One
I stand alone on grass of green
And poppies coloured red
Among the men who lived but once
Through armies they have led.
The crosses stand up proud and still
In cool crisp morning air
And hold with them both peace and love
Two treasures, so dear.
A sense of happiness prevails
Yet still, I grieve for many.

I gracefully float through the air
As leaves on autumn's day
And silently pass through unseen worlds
Though many only say
Have I forgotten times of peace,
Or remembered times of death,
Kept hidden how this life became
Let free of all the rest.
I am to live with no fear nor fright
Of what the world has brought

A feeling of sorrow is found
Within the shell of I
For our homeland is the grave
For many that have died.
Yet gratitude stands side by side
With that of deep sadness
Our land is now and forever ours
For these men have let it live.
For I am but one
Who stands alone
On grass of green
And poppies red.


I wrote this poem when I was 13 years old. It was for a poetry competition during Remembrance Day, sponsored by The Royal Canadian Legion. The drawing at the top of the page had nothing to do with it, I just found it in a folder that I unearthed from a box in my parents basement. I assume it was done when I was between 9-13 years old. I go back that far because there was a period when I was very young when all I drew were animals in charcoal pencil; strange, but true. I have always enjoyed writing, and in the past year or so have uncovered piles of stories that I wrote in elementary school. For years, I never paid them much attention, though neither did any of my instructors. They were merely assignments to all of us; assignments given, and assignments received. Projects completed, and projects graded. Still, I wonder had I nurtured my craft of writing further, if I would be doing a different kind of work nowadays.

Oftentimes I look to the past for inspiration, my own past. I get this question a lot: "What inspires you?" As an illustrator, as someone who works in a creative and visual profession, such works that fall into a similar discipline seem to naturally influence and fuel my imagination. But over the past few years, I've become much more interested in seeking out areas outside of my illustration discipline to rouse my creativity. I've even included thumbing through work that I've done when I was kid because that work (some of which were done as school assignments) carried with it a kind of honesty and goodness in way of process and intention. The stories that I wrote, the clothing that I designed, the pictures that I drew and painted when I was 10, 11, 12 and 13 years old have gradually become bellwethers for how I've chosen to work nowadays,

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

A T for You?
Or Two for T?

I've spent the past several weeks, once a week, taking a sewing class at the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT). I finished sewing my first skirt a few days ago (it's currently being graded) and I'm starting to learn how to sew a button down shirt. Since I was very young, I've wanted to pursue fashion in some capacity -- let me rephrase this -- I wanted to become a fashion designer. I also wanted to become an animator, and a photographer, and an art director, and a teacher, and a writer,
It was no coincidence that when I first began illustrating at more a steady pace that many of my clients were rooted fashion and lifestyle. That's because this was the type of work that I wanted to create; not wholly, but it definitely represented a significant part of me that needed to be expressed creatively. I would go to clubs and lounges and bars very often. I did this all throughout my twenties, mostly in Toronto; buzzing at after-hours, warehouse parties, and whatever else was going on during that time. And so, this environment housed the fashion-type of influences and information that fueled the kind of illustration work that I did during that time.
But over time, like with many things done in excess, it shifted towards a place where the feelings that I felt at the beginning, lessened into a mood that was not as thrilling; a kind of law of diminishing returns.
I have always tried to allow my decision-making to be guided by my gut by paying attention to how I'm feeling while I'm working. Recently, it's learning how to sew, in a more formal way, and honing my silk screening skills that has lifted my studio practice to another level. I'm close to finishing a set of T-shirts, that I would like to sell in the next several weeks. Hopefully in time for the holidays, but if not, then no big deal. There's no rush, only hope that I can introduce this part of my personal work onto a commercial platform.
In the photo above is a T shirt that I made out of (cotton) jersey, patterns and all, completely finished on the insides with french seams. It's not the final prototype, but it's close, and it's done, but I don't have a photograph of it, yet. The image some of you may have see before, done both for the Spank boat party this past summer, as well as for Ringling's Illest event, was created here in my studio originally as an illustration, that I later turned into colour separations to be made into a silkscreen. I know these details are slight, and really, it may not matter to many, but to me, it's important to be aware of the craft component that supports a product, and artwork, design, and illustration.
I was listening to NPR yesterday, as I often do, and Annie Leibovitz was a guest on The Brian Lehrer Show. Near the end of her interview she said that "...(even).. if you have talent, it can go away... you have to nurture it."
True story.
After having worked 11 years freelancing as an illustrator with 4 years of art college and 1 year of university education under my belt, I'm conscious of staying engaged in my process; being mindful of how I choose to nourish my creativity, so that it will extend into longevity.