Week in Review :

Week in Review

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Two weeks ago I went to my friend’s baby shower, and I painted a little card to go with her gifts. The card became a crowd favorite, and it’s left me with a desire to send this cute girl on adventures riding her flying kitty. Sometimes the best pieces are the simplest!

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I made some business cards for my good friend and acupuncturist Amy P at BiaoHealth. She commissioned the illustration from me several years ago for her lecture on facial acupuncture that she did at the Asian Art Museum, and I was pleased to give it a whole new life on the backs of her new cards.

I’ve also been practicing inking with a brush. For the past few years I’ve been drawing with pens, but switching back to a brush I’m blown away by the LUSHNESS that you can get with your lines! Now I’m inking my comic pages with a brush, and they’re not only going faster, but they’re turning out unlike anything else I’ve drawn. Very excited to share more of these as they progress, I’ve been pushing myself to find the right tone for my next comic, and I think I finally hit it.

Also, Sakura just came out with a new #PIGMA brush, and they gave out samples at the last Quick Draw SF, and they’re quickly becoming my favorite new tool! I can’t find them anywhere yet, though…

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Instagram is my favorite social platform, and lately I’ve been taking screenshots of my favorite instagram images, and found myself curating a little gallery. So, here’s my favorite instagram drawings from April, there’s some amazing artists to follow here, both old friends and new:

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  1. @alanforbes – SF psych rock poster god
  2. @annakoak – Koak is creating the comic you’ll be crying over in ten years.
  3. @anomysup led me to @conradroset – beautiful watercolors
  4. @kentwms – just study his posts and hope to absorb some of the painting magic
  5. @helllllenjjjjjo – coolest cartoon girls on the block
  6. @lauracallaghanillustration – a new discovery, bright lovely lady illustrations
  7. @aprolee – I’m in love with his tattoo style
  8. @mollietuggle – new discovery, her poster style invokes a classic
  9. @elfandiary – beautiful, fine portrait paintings
  10. @comicsdestroyer – it’s never a bad time to be reminded how much I adore Paul Pope
  11. @jacquelindeleon – I want to read this comic

And don’t forget to follow me at @jamdye.

That’s all for today, happy Monday!

What I’m Reading: From Java to Lady Bosses

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I’ve been staring at this beautiful painting by Jonas Wood and I’ve fallen for it so hard that it’s now permanently sitting on my second monitor. It’s got everything I love, from the bold colors, details and textures, to wonky perspective, symbolism and naturalism all working at once. Real succulents to the left of me, paintings of potted plants on the right, it’s feeling pretty good. I don’t think I’ve /ever/ posted someone else’s art on my blog, and that gave me pause and I wondered why. So for a new challenge, I want to reflect on all the stuff I’m currently enjoying, reading and listening to.

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My (digital) bookshelf is a pretty good representation of the mix of things I’m currently obsessing over. It’s gotten very girly and very business-oriented.

-JavaScript:The Good Parts to get my feet wet. I love doing front-end development and I want to keep on growing, so now it’s time to roll up my sleeves and get better at JavaScript.

– Design is a Job has been a fantastic read, revealing why I enjoy designing because it’s problem solving, it’s being the one showing the work to the client, and taking control of your career knowing that the work you take on defines you. Make the world better with the work you take on!

– I’m making my way through the Anais Nin diaries, she’s jetsetting between NYC, San Francisco and Mexico in the late fourties/ early fifties. In volume four she goes to the ballet with my grandfather, Carter Harman, and they compose some music together. I’m thrilled to see his name on the page, a little window into his bohemian post-war pre-family days, and I want to turn it into a book or comic one day.

– I didn’t think I was going to read Not That Kind of Girl, but after getting absolutely floored by this last season of GIRLS and the crazy evolution of the writing, it became a necessary read. I’m now convinced that Lena’s one of the best storytellers of our generation.

– #Girlboss — another “girl” book! I just finished it this morning, and Sophia tells a story that’s empowering and bad ass. While we’re not going to start our own empires through eBay, there’s a strong correlation between following your gut, working hard at your passion, paying attention to details and doing it better than the rest.

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One of the side-effects of reading #girlboss was visiting Nasty Gal every chapter to analyze all the points she makes on styling, branding and design and how that reflects on the current site. I’ve never shopped at Nasty Gal, and I’m currently practicing Sophia’s mindset of putting your money in your savings account and not on your feet, but I had a lot of fun going through the site and finding things to put in my digital wardrobe.

Sophia has amazing taste. Her models are well-styled, every thumbnail reads quickly, and she knows how to make people want things. That’s a killer brand.

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I’ve also been getting obsessed with the podcast “Being Boss” and it’s become my motivating companion for all my days I’m working alone in the studio. I met Kathleen at Designer Vaca last year, and I was blown away by her upbeat inspired talks about building your perfect day. She’s a professional motivator for a reason. This amazing podcast lets you have your own personal Kathleen pep-talk all the time! Two of my favorites have been “How To Do Like a Boss” and “Your Website Is Your Most Valuable Employee”. So far this podcast has caused me to schedule out yoga classes like they’re important meetings on my calendar (causing me to find an amazing new yoga studio) and launch my first digital product!

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Yes! I just released Fox Head Stew #1, the first 40 pages of the comic I first put out in 2012. It’s had a windy road, but basically, the book has been unavailable for the past few years, and I haven’t known how to re-release it. Luckily, I’ve been building out some e-commerce sites over at We Are Branch, and realized how incredibly easy it is to make digital products available these days. After spending many hours re-building the book from scratch and optimizing the art, I released the first issue on Gumroad last Friday.


Buy Fox Head Stew #1!

Just one last thing, here’s T&Lo’s countdown to Mad Men. I cannot wait.

Fox Head Stew comic is coming back

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I’ve been reading through all the pages from my last graphic novel, Fox Head Stew, and preparing to re-release it digitally. It’s been out of print and digital for forever (it was originally available on MTV Geek, RIP, and there’s a small handful of you with the print version) and I personally haven’t looked at it for almost 2 years. It’s a huge relief when you look back and really like what you did! When I finished it all I could see were the imperfections, but in retrospect, it captured all the experimentation, clumsiness and uncertainty of college life in a way I’m actually proud of.

Part of my job right now is to pull together the multiple versions I had of the first issue, use all the best iterations, and repackage it with new covers and extra pages. I’ve been digging through a lot of old files and finding some gems, from cover sketches to characters to some of my favorite comic pages I’ve done. Here’s a few to look at before the issue comes out in a week:

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Originally the book was called “Weird Fishes: Dee’s Siren Song” and these sketches were for the first zine printing of it.

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I’d forgotten how many music references I put into the posters and outfits all over the place that give each page a special feel.

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What I’m Currently Reading Online

Tavi Gavidson photoshoot with The Coveteur
I remember falling in love with Tavi’s blog when she was 14… now she’s 18 and absolutely killing it in fashion and writing. This is a great photoshoot.

Branded #1 with Nubby Twiglet
Shauna’s started a new column reviewing branding that she loves. Just breathe in her thought process.

In Praise of Tina Belcher
This article put me on a massive Bob’s Burgers Binge (say that three times fast). We are all Tina.

Boots Riley interview with Vice
And now for something different! Boots Riley talks about making art and the changing environment of Oakland. Feels.

Typewolf’s Most Popular Fonts of 2014
A great overview of font trends for last year. Do you recognize them?

The first week of January in review

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Phew, so we made it through the first full week! Despite the worldwide dismay, there’s also an enormous creative momentum. Aiming for more creative breakthroughs and less meltdowns. I’m always happy when I’m too busy, and when there’s too much work to do then there’s also a huge drive to make art as well. I’m launching projects with clients, developing some great collaborations, and preparing to launch my next book… so there’s a lot to be done. My latest projects are all strong and feminine, I feel grateful to get to work with some great ladies.

My first project of the year was designing a shirt for Rachel Fannan‘s solo project “Only You“.

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I met Rachel back in Santa Cruz almost a decade ago, she was playing a piano on the floor of the coffee shop and singing songs that completely stole everyone’s hearts within earshot. We made gig fliers together, and even lived in a house full of kittens and stray puppies for a short while. Seriously. Now we’ve both grown up, and she’s toured the world with some pretty awesome rock bands, and it was a pleasure to reunite and design some t-shirts for Only You.

This was a super-quick turnaround project, and we kept it simple and clean. The final design, made for screen-printing, locks eyes with the viewer and seems to do a very good job of capturing the mood of the project. Can’t wait to see these in print! Check out Rachel doing her thing here and here and on twitter.

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At the start of the year we also launched the website Hiya Tootsie, designed by Shauna at We Are Branch and developed by me and Star. A really nice clean design and I’m really happy with how the mobile version of the site turned out. Plus, watching Heather put out her first empowering posts this week has been fantastic.

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I even managed to put in some good time painting my next comic with Eddie Wright, but that’ll get it’s own post next week.

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On Friday, I went out with my amazingly talented friend Koak (she’s going to blow your minds when her book comes out) and took her to the Chip Zdarsky signing at Good Vibrations, because who doesn’t like running into comic book creators at a sex toy store? Briefly ran into Jennifer, met Kieron and Jamie (who are doing one of my favorite books right now — The Wicked + the Divine) and we ended up crashing the Brian K Vaughn signing at Isotope Comics. It was pretty much my dream scenario for comic conventions: don’t go to the convention floor, just go to the afterparty.

Seeing a bunch of comics people got me powering away at my own project on Saturday, and I took a swing at painting Amaterasu from Wicked + The Divine. Her eye makeup is just made for drippy watercolors.

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Reading Online:

Patton Oswaldt interviewed by Wil Weaton (yes, Wesley Crusher) for Playboy Magazine.
Geekery at it’s finest.
Marilyn Manson interviewed for Vice Magazine
Marilyn’s still as dirty of an old man as he was when I was in High School.
Joni Mitchel is the new face of Saint Laurent
Can’t love these images any more than this.
365 Awesome Designers
Putting this here for now, amazing collection of a wide-variety of designers and illustrators.

Charlie Hebdo and Free Speech

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What a terrible way to start the day. I knew it was bad when I saw all my favorite artists begin posting “Je Suis Charlie” on Instagram. Yes, I found out through Instagram, and soon I was reading The New York Times in horror. I’m not sure if it’s my fear that the attack against free speech is going to get worse before it gets better, that artists always get targetted during the darkest times, or that satire absolutely infuriates humorless factions with guns. But when cartoonists and journalists are targeted, whether they were political satirists or not, it feels like a direct threat to everyone who holds a pencil, draws pretty/disgusting things or has a story to tell.

Here’s an article about the four cartoonists who were killed today.

Here’s the Cartoonists Rights Website.

Here’s some social media coverage on BoingBoing.

If you look on twitter #jesuischarlie, you’ll see an enormous outpouring of artists, all sad and horrified and all determined to upkeep free speech and draw.

One of my realizations at the end of 2014 was that I usually get quiet when difficult subjects come up and get lost in my own little world of making beautiful things. But making beautiful art /IS/ power, in the face of violence, oppression and fear, we have to make beautiful things. I stand by my contemporaries who have the fight and balls to look politics, religion and terrible things in the face and draw them.

We need publications like Charlie Hebdo, and the writers and artists behind them, to challenge, reveal and instigate. To make people laugh at the uncomfortable.

For now I feel sad, but I picked up my pen and drew my first self-portrait of the year.

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Hello 2015!

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What a difference a year can make! 2014 started off so uncertain, and the whole year was about staying open and re-inventing. 2015 is starting off bold and building upward: new website, new freelance projects and new goals. I wrapped up the development on the new jamdye.com over the holidays and it’s finally time to kick it off! This year I want to share more, talk about process and design, push my style further, and travel as much as possible. When I think back to 2014, I first remember the places I visited, and my trip to Puerto Vallarta and Palm Springs both changed me and influenced the artwork I made. Plus, it’s nice to remember warmer places at a time like this, brr!

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My first trip to Mexico and first trip with my boyfriend Jay, we roamed through cobble-stone streets, drank margaritas on the beach, and explored the Rio Cuale. I loved the colors and the romanticism of Puerto Vallarta, and as soon as we got back, I was so inspired I started drawing comics about the trip.

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Not sure when I’ll wrap up the Rio Cuale comics, so I’ll leave them here for safe-keeping.

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2014 was about discovering the power of collaboration! I began working with the lovely Star, and we’re discovering an exciting mix of design, development and illustration that we’re able to do together. She convinced me to go to Palm Springs to Designer Vaca (read that post here). Not only was it super cool to meet everyone and see the physical network connecting freelance designers, but now I’m working on projects with some of the ladies I met there.

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In Palm Springs Star introduced me to Shauna (who’s just as brilliant in person as she is on her blog), and before I knew it we were taking photos together like old friends. Now the three of us are working on some new sites together, and I /love/ the new projects we’re working on. I’ll be covering our new websites as they go live in the next couple of weeks.

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Also coming down the pipeline is the comic I’ve been working on with Eddie Wright for the past year, which has grown from a little sketchbook of storyboards, to a script, a little pocketbook called Chrysalis, and now it’s metamorphosing into a crazy painted comic this year!

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2015 is about surrounding yourself with positive people and starting exciting new projects! Now is the time to reach out as I start my 2015 schedule: I’m taking on new illustration, branding and web development projects. Contact me if you want to talk about developing something new!

Let’s take on this year for everything it has to offer!

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Project Update

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This is a question I often ask myself, how do you stay motivated and stick with a project? I have too many ideas in my head, too many things I start, and not enough projects I actually finish. When I was younger, I approached HUGE projects (large watercolored graphic novels, for instance) and managed to see the project to the end with an intense focus, but these days it’s getting harder and harder. Is it the constant information overload that causes us all to run around like headless chickens? Is there just too much to do? Or is it just the span of potential projects that’s daunting?

Here are the big things in my life right now that I’m juggling and nurturing:

Design

If you asked me a year ago what my dream project would be, I’d say it would be to design and brand for companies featuring my illustration work. That seemed like a far-reaching dream, and I don’t think I’d have found a way to do it on my own. Now, I find myself with a fun client that’s allowing me to brand a new company (that I can’t wait to share!), but I’m also working and learning the ropes at a really great design studio (ThisIsStar). It all happened so naturally it makes me smile. When you have a CV of gaming art jobs, animation and comics, a recruiter for an entry-level graphic design position won’t even talk to you. But I found myself drawn to layouts, typography and hand-lettering more and more, filling my time reading design blogs and downloading type books, so I reached out to my friend, superstar designer and artist Star. A lunch led to more correspondence, a couple design projects, and now I’m assisting on her design projects at This is Star. She’s been awesomely supportive and great resource of knowledge!

I’m learning on the job to refine my taste, lay-out projects, experiment with color, moodboards and logo designs. As I apply my illustration experience to graphic design principles, the connective threads between practices become apparent, and I find it fascinating. Design is design is design, I suppose. From illustration to animation to character design to comic books, they’re all closely related, it’s all more close-knit than I thought and design seems to be the way it is presented and how you communicate an idea with the rest of the world.

I simply cannot express the importance of friends, especially in a competitive field like this. While a company might not take a risk on you when you’re switching career goals, a smart friend might see potential. And you never know when an old client might hit you up with a new project! Freelancing is still new to me, but it seems like there’s no rhyme or reason to it, it’s just constant communication and staying open for the things that find you.

I’m beyond thrilled to be working with Star, and we’re going to my first design conference next month! Lady designers are awesome.

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Lettering

There’s a boom in hand-lettering, from sign-painting to hand-lettered logos. You see brushy hand-lettered titles and sayings all over the place. And guess what? I love handwriting! I’ve been hand-lettering comics since I started drawing comics, and preferred the looseness of it over any font. Now I’m realizing that my hand needs some refinement, but there’s a lot of help for that! I recently signed up over at Skillshare, and there’s a TON of handlettering classes taught by great lettering artists like Mary Kate McDevitt, Simon Walker, and Spencer Charles. Star sent me to these classes as homework, and those 3 classes combined really gives a broad spectrum of lettering techniques and tools. Some of those tips have refined my process of writing immensely! I don’t think I’ll ever really lose my rough edges, nor do I want to, but getting some type discipline and tighter process is making everything look a lot better.

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Patterns + Fashion

I’ve been spending some time looking over my past work and realized the patterns I did for Nooworks are still some of my favorites. I LOVE creating illustrated patterns, I like sketching a bunch of ideas, bringing them all into Photoshop and figuring out how they’ll fit together. I like masses of shape and color. I want to see my patterns on everything, and it seems to go hand-in-hand with my new design work, especially if I gear it towards the fashion world. I created this field of kittens pattern in an afternoon, and even made some merch on Society6!

Comics

Let’s not forget comics! I’ve had to put them on the backburner during this time of, ahem, needing to make an income, but I’m starting to find little blocks of time to return to comics. My collaboration with Eddie Wright, Chrysalis, is still in an early stage of production, but we’re starting to make some convention appearances together. This weekend is the San Francisco Zine Fest, and we’ll be sharing a table and selling copies of Chrysalis #0, a magazine that collects the first 10 pages of the comic, a bunch of my art, and two stories written by Eddie. I’m excited to design this book and get some eyes on it! Now we’re booked for A.P.E. as well, so I’m going to have to hustle to get more comic pages done!

I still want to keep drawing the diary comics and have another project that’s taking formation…

Website Design

Sadly, a Squarespace account made sense for a concept artist website, but as I merge into design, I’m having to learn some website building skills. My first big project is going to be migrating this site back over to WordPress and designing the new look for it. For now it’s research research research and organizing my files as I transition.
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Those are the main projects keeping me busy, they all feel very much In Progress but I’m learning to embrace that.


JAMDYE



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