Art year in review 2017

Summary of 2017 art with a picture for each month

So, I’d been meaning to write more thoughtful art and comic-related blog posts here throughout 2017. Clearly that didn’t happen! But at least I can still do a nice year-end review. I was actually debating whether or not to, since it’s been so busy and from an “art goals” perspective I’ve pretty much been holding steady to the direction I talked about last year. But as you can probably figure out, I decided to do it. It is nice to have a summary to look back at… and the new year is obviously as good a time as any to pause and take stock of what you’ve made in a period of time.

I played a bit with the layout for the image this year to make it cleaner and simpler. For each month, I tried to make my selection based not only on how much I liked the final image, but also if there was anything particularly personal, memorable or just somehow of note in the process of creating it. I’ve posted a few more blurbs on each pick on my tumblr here.

A few things that stood out to me in terms of art-related experiences and developments:

  • Now Recharging: Passing the 200 page mark, finishing chapter 2, and pretty much finishing chapter 3 as well. Being able to see people respond to this little story in lovely ways I had only hoped for, or had never imagined. It’s humbling and wonderful!
  • Getting work out there/participating in the creative community: Being able to do TCAF in Tokyo again was obviously a big deal. Such an honour! I was able to spend time and chat with so many artists, including creators whose work I’ve long admired, get mind-blowingly inspired looking at all the good stuff out there, and share Now Recharging at two events in Tokyo. In Toronto as well, I had opportunities to hang out with other comic artists in both casual and formal venues (such as at the library), and getting my work into more local/Canadian comic shops like Silver Snail, Pages, the Beguiling, and even Strange Adventures in Halifax has also been exciting.
  • Art supplies: Seriously into fountain pens and fountain pen inks now. Help me.
  • New thing: Making real card decks out of my Inktober Lenormand illustrations. So fun! Now I just have to package all of them by hand…
  • Comics thoughts: I started documenting my creative process for a project while actually working on it – the YYH North Bound fancomic A House That Holds Long Limbs. The first two parts can be read here and covers things like how I get started, scripts, thumbnails, thought process, rework, references, etc.: Part 1 / Part 2
  • Other: For the first time in about nine years I didn’t make Christmas cards. :( I have a feeling this tradition might have come to an end with the way my time and priorities are being juggled right now. Ah well! I had a good run!

And perhaps the biggest one: drawing in general and drawing comics specifically. I drew a lot in 2017. Not many large illustrations, but quite a few relatively polished beyond-doodle drawings in my sketchbook, and a lot of original and fancomics. Well over 200 pages of comics, actually, because I managed to keep up a posting schedule of 2 pages a week for Now Recharging, plus about 100 pages of other things (which does not include associated illustrations/covers with those other comics).

I think it really is having a noticeable impact – in the sense that I can actually feel it myself, to some small degree – on my overall ability to render something that is closer to what I’m imagining, and also my speed. I’m still often frustrated with my work and myself, but I am noticing that I’m getting a little faster at getting past it and moving on from a mental perspective. The time it takes me to go from inking through to final painted version is also tightening up (bearing in mind I usually have multiple pages in multiple stages all over the place… that will probably never change).

There were a few things that really drove my output in the past year. Obviously, I had to force myself to do it – there were many late nights after work and long weekends where I was doing next to nothing but drawing. (Thank god for supportive family and friends! And yay for healthy personal breaks and hanging out time with good friends as well!) But two particular factors that really powered my motivation were 1) Now Recharging starting to get a bit more exciting because more characters have been introduced, and 2) my passion for Yu Yu Hakusho steering itself into a character I always liked but have started becoming especially fond of in the last few years (Hokushin). He happens to be an extremely minor character with little to no fanwork. This meant that it was easy to want to create all the art and stories I wasn’t seeing, because there were essentially none. It was helpful that when I wanted to take a break from Now Recharging, there’d be this other thing I could easily get excited over and hone my skills on. Long story short, 2017 has been another great reminder that fanwork is an excellent way to push yourself in creating and trying things. Even if the end result is me spamming- I mean, filling up- the tags for this character on all the websites… at least I’m developing my skills at the same time!

Looking ahead, Now Recharging is, of course, still a top priority. Aside from that, I have a couple of new books I’m pretty confident (really!) are (finally, actually) going to happen this year. I think I’ve found a solution for that Taiwan book I’ve been wanting to do for years – it’ll be a much more modest affair than my original ideas, but those were not very well baked anyways. I’ve also got a collection of comics and drawings I’d like to pull together from the Tokyo trip. And I’d like to get further into the North Bound fancomic series as well.

Finally, while reading and gushing over the skill on display in Yoshinaga Fumi’s Ooku, I thought about writing posts on various panels or sequences that stood out to me. Basically articulating what caught my eye about them to further refine my own thoughts and focus on what I want to capture in my own comics. I didn’t end up doing much with this idea last year, but maybe I’ll come back to it in 2018. Or maybe the next post will be the 2018 art year in review, hah!