behind-the-scenes

Lantern


Lantern

I moved to Nagasaki Japan in January 2013, and as I type this at the end of 2018, my chapter here will likely soon be coming to an end. If all goes according to plan with immigration, my wife Miwa and I will be living in my home state of Michigan soon. All these years in this lovely Kyushu city have fundamentally changed me. No matter where I go, I feel that the experiences I’ve had here have made me look at the world differently and helped me to better shed some of my own cultural baggage and biases. Living abroad has helped me to feel stateless, in a good way. The distance I’ve had from my home country has made me feel more distant from it in some ways, and other experiences have brought my heart closer. My time in Japan has etched a part of that culture into my heart, while some experiences have reminded me how foreign I am in this archipelago. If it makes any sense, it’s brought me closer to myself as an internationally-minded person.

 

My previous illustrated-photography piece, Tatemae, dealt with the “masks” that we all wear when interfacing with the world. This deals with some of what’s behind my mask, and one of the things that will forever be a part of me is Nagasaki.

 

I made this work to be an album cover for a hopefully-upcoming album of my music. I’m way out of practice with making music, and despite my rabid desire to get back into it, and my wealth of ideas, I am always too busy with work to really get down to it. I finished this art seven months ago, and rather than let this artwork wither away without anyone seeing it, I’m posting it now, in hopes that I will get that album done later when there’s time.

 

While it may look like a simple wireframe, the image of my inner-self is that of an illuminated paper lantern, modeled after the giant, beautiful lanterns on display every February in Nagasaki’s Lantern Festival. The eyes, contain pentacles, which may look vaguely occult to some folks, but it’s actually the logo from the flag of Nagasaki, and can be found on official documents, and almost every manhole in the city!

 

Click the image above, or here, to see the gallery page for this, with details of the artwork.

 

Bonus! For the first time in several years, I made a “making-of” page for one of my works. If you want to read an in-depth guide to the (admittedly fraught) process of making “Lantern”, and find out more about the cultural meaning behind it, please click here or the banner below!

 

the making of



“Cacciatore” – remastered


Cacciatore

I revisited an old friend. Since I’d lost the original files for most of my circa 2007, 2008 work, I’ve gradually been remaking some of them here and there, remastered and able to be printed huge. In 2012, I redid my old favorite Automaton JDM. This time I decided to revisit “Cacciatore”, which I not only no longer could make big prints of, but always felt a little bit conflicted as to how the final product turned out. Here’s the original:

 

Cacciatore - original

I liked the general elements of the piece, but was always a little unhappy with the size and placement of the guy (my old roommate Patric) with the background, and was planning on fixing that before, when I had the original layered file. Also, while the whole splattered blood thing seemed pretty cool to me at the time, and I was going for a bit of a giallo Italian horror / crime movie vibe, over time I felt a little weird about it. Maybe it’s the fact that I’ve become more and more anti-gun over time… I realized a lot of my old pieces had guns in them, and I’ve been trying to steer away from that in recent years. This new version still has the gleaming golden gun, but I opted to tone down the general violent feel a bit. Maybe I’m just becoming an old softy.

 

For this new version, I scanned the 8×10 print I’d made for the original, and used that as a a base at first (for the outlines on Patric’s suit), then used the original two photographs (Patric, and the Alfa Romeo & spokesmodel) as a base and ended up redrawing the whole thing, adding new textures and changing things such as the highlights and shading of the car, as well as including the girl’s arms and showing the dash lit up. I thought about maybe having the woman more visible, as I went to the trouble of redrawing the whole background, even the stuff that can’t be seen in the final product…. but opted not to. The thing is, I took the photo of this spokesmodel and the Alfa Romeo Brera at the 2007 Tokyo Motor Show, when I was there doing freelance work for Intersection. Since it was press day and she was paid to be there to be in published photos, it’s fine for me to show her face in the Motor Show pics I have online, but I felt a little odd about having her face in the final artwork that I’m displaying online, since it’s unrelated to the original reason she was there. Plus, I think leaving the pic as it is maintains the mystery of the original piece.

 

Anyway, it was a fun project. Even though I have it further back in the gallery, with the other 2007 stuff, it’s basically a new illustrated-photography work from me. I’ve been in the mood to make a lot more, after taking a few years off from working in that style. I have some ideas that I want to get done, when I have time. Problem is, my manga work keeps me busy enough it’s hard to find time to work on my own stuff. Hopefully I can get another new piece done in December, since things will be mellowing out for a couple weeks mid-late month. I’m also still really wishing I could find models to work with here, but it’s hard in Nagasaki, where it’s a bit more conservative and a lot of people are shy. I’ve been really missing setting up big shoots with models, props, makeup, and wardrobe, and then making crazy illustrated-photography pieces from them. I may at least revisit some old photoshoots and make illustrated photography from them in the meantime, just to cast a new light on things. Anyway, stay tuned!



Lots of manga lettering!


Lots of manga lettering!

Hey everyone! A couple years ago, I added examples of my manga lettering work to the site. Since then, I’ve done a lot more books (I’ve lettered 60 manga volumes to date!), but never really had the time to show examples of that newer stuff here. Well, I just posted a TON of samples of my lettering work, showcasing a wide range of techniques. You can see the extremely complex and challenging lettering tasks I’ve taken on on Real Account, the large amount of hand-written work I’ve done on Forget Me Not, the all-by-hand lettering I do on Land of the Lustrous, the crazy action-packed sound effects of Ninja Slayer Kills, and other fun stuff! Also, check out the work I’ve done on dream-come-true projects such as Akira (for the upcoming 35th anniversary box set), Die Wergelder, and The Osamu Tezuka Story. I’m still in disbelief that I got to work on Akira. I’ve been a big fanboy for that series since I was 13 years old! Also, feel free to take a look at some of the pages for manga that I’d previously posted here, such as Sankarea and Maria: The Virgin Witch, since I overhauled the pages and added new examples. I think in general, the stuff I chose to share gives a good example of my range as a letterer, and I’m excited to finally have something convenient to show to family and friends who are curious what I do. Oh and btw, I went out of my way to avoid using images that are spoilers, so if you’re a manga fan, don’t worry about having stories ruined for you when looking. While you’re checking out the samples, feel free to follow the links on each page to buy the books from their respective publishers! More manga selling means dinner on my table.

 

Anyway, you may notice that I’ve changed the location of my manga lettering pages from the Design gallery, to the Comics gallery. Even though I do plenty of design work as part of my manga job, as a whole it seemed like it would fit in better in the Comics gallery, not to mention adding a little life to that page (since I never seem to have time to make my own comics.) Go ahead and check out the Comics gallery to see everything, but if you want a handy little list of all the titles reflected there, here you go!:

 

Akira  |  Barbara  |  Cat Diary: Yon & Mu  |  Complex Age  |  Die Wergelder  |  Forget Me Not
The Ghost and the Lady  |  Land of the Lustrous  |  Livingstone  |  Maria: The Virgin Witch
Ninja Slayer Kills  |  The Osamu Tezuka Story  |  Panorama Island  |  Real Account
Sankarea  |  That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime  |  Tokyo Zombie

 

PS: I also relettered a volume of Battle Angel Alita: Last Order a couple of years ago (another dream title, seeing as the original Battle Angel Alita is what introduced me to manga in the first place), but since I just handled dialog balloons, I figured there wasn’t too much to show of that.

 

What else is new? Since last I typed here, I had a crazy busy month of work, then a lot of preparation for my wedding, then the big day itself, then showing my parents around Japan for a couple weeks during their first visit here, then a couple weeks of recharging my batteries, then more work. I’m in a brief time of respite at the moment, then back to more work soon. I have another post ready to share with you soon, however, about another neat comic-related thing I worked on. Stay tuned!



Tatemae / 建前


Tatemae

Hey everyone! I’m, uhhhh, not DEAD. I finally made a new illustrated-photography piece. (Well, I made a quick one two years ago in ink over inkjet print, but this is my first digital one since 2013.)

 

Honne (本音) and tatemae (建前) are Japanese words used to describe the contrast between one’s personal feelings (honne) and the facade that one presents to the world (tatemae). While it certainly depends on the person, in Japan it’s often difficult to get past the wall that people put up and get to know someone’s true feelings. Generally this “wall” is a friendly one, mind you, but sometimes not genuine. I don’t think this is a uniquely Japanese thing, and I think we all conceal parts of our true feelings. I thought I’d explore this idea a bit since I find it both fascinating and frustrating.

 

One thing I often found unsettling while teaching English in Japan was how many of my students would wear a mask, not just when they were sick, but in general. Some kids wore it every day. Once in a while, during flu season, I’d walk into a jr high classroom and every single kid would be wearing one, and I’d be unable to fully “read” their social cues. I think for most people it’s a matter of stopping germ transfer when a bug is going around, but for the folks who wear them every day, it seems like the tatemae mask takes on a literal form.

 

Anyway, as usual these days for a lot of my art, you can pop on over to Society6 to order a print of it, or cell phone case, pillows, tote bags, whatevs!

 

In other news, this has been a crazy busy year so far with manga lettering, but pretty front-loaded. From now on I’ll have a bit more free time here and there to make more art and hopefully music. One of these days, I badly need to update the lettering section of my design page since it only reflects four of the 17 different manga series I’ve lettered, but that’ll have a wait a bit more. Right now, after a nice stay-cation, it’s time to get to work on the next book.

 

I will say, I got to work on a dream project earlier this year. I got to re-letter Akira for the 35th anniversary boxed set that Kodansha is putting out this fall! It was amazing! I’ve always deeply loved that manga, and it was a huge inspiration on me growing up, and to be able to observe Otomo’s art with the level of intimacy that working with it on my own computer brought, was a truly special experience. More on that later.



Back in 日本 / new art: “Honey Bunny”


It’s been a while since I’ve posted here and even longer since I’ve had much new art to show. That said, I recently did a third piece in my cute girls + cute animals series, “Honey Bunny”. Click the pic, or here, to see details!

Honey Bunny
Anyway, not much else to say, art-wise. It’s strange to have a site dedicated to my art, but not have anything to post for a long time due to being too busy working in art to make my own art. I’ll post more examples of my manga lettering eventually, when there’s time, but basically that’s been dominating my life for a while now. I don’t totally mind though, because I’m working on some cool stuff!  (I’m especially proud of something that I’m starting this month that I can’t announce until sometime next year, but it’s “dream-project” status.)

 

In other news, I’m living in Nagasaki again! I got married in August and decided to come back to Japan to live here with my wife while we do the immigration process for her and wait many, many months for that process to bring her to the states. Anyway, more later. Just wanted to tell anyone reading this that I’m not dead!



Looking back on Project Orion, and my history in and around comics


Project Orion: a restrospective, 1993-1997
(I meant to make this post on July 15th 2016, a special day, but life got crazy-busy. Oh well, better late than never. I’ll explain the significance of that date soon enough.) (Also, in case you’re reading this several years later, something broke in my WordPress files and it’s jamming all the paragraphs together. Sorry if it’s a little hard to read because of that. I’ll fix it when I have time. )

When I was in middle school and high school, I used to draw a ton of comics. I’d usually crank out an issue per month, full-color, and sometimes two. I started several series, all of which were seen by only friends and family, and the occasional comic artist I was getting a portfolio review from. I had big dreams of exploding upon the comics world as soon as I graduated and finding a spot in said world for my manga-influenced comics – a sort of rare thing in the states, in the mid-90s. Various things eventually kept this from happening… the realities of life… I started college and didn’t have time to make comics. My interest in photography became a full-on passion and pushed the comics aside and I took on new hobbies like making music. I started having a social life in high school, and later in college at techno & house music nights. I started enjoying dating girls as opposed to just wishing I could be less awkward and shy. …aaaand my confidence in my artistic abilities and ability to network waned, but let’s keep this post positive. Anyway, let’s rewind…
(more…)



New art “Smooch”, and big news for next year!


Smooch

After a long time of being too busy to work on personal art (still sort of am), I made a sequel to last year’s “Her Best Friend“, and this one features a pretty lady with a cute shiba inu! Like the last one, this was done on a big shikishi board, with Copic markers and metallic washi paper (the hair). The red is a really vivid washi paper with lovely texture that looks great IRL. I may do another one or two illustrations in this series.

 

In other news, I apologize for the long time since last post. I’ve been super duper busy with the day job + manga lettering, and now…. getting ready to move home! Yep, after three years in Nagasaki, I’m leaving Japan to go back to the states. Couple reasons… the reason that’s been pressing at me for a long while is that I need to help my parents clean up and move out of the house I grew up in so they can get their finances in order and so we can all sort through our respective collections of stuff. I was going to hang in there with my current teaching job in Japan until August ’16 and then move home to help out, but a very nice opportunity came up that I couldn’t pass up. As you may know,  I’ve been lettering manga for Kodansha Comics / Penguin Random House this past three years, and have built up a nice relationship with them and have worked on a bunch of fun books for them. For next year I had the opportunity to either take one one new books series (in addition to the ones I’ve been doing), and keep trying to balance that with the demands of my day job, or quit the day job and take four new series. Truthfully, it’s been exhausting this past year, doing a book per month in addition to day job, in addition to spending time with my girlfriend and pals, and getting sleep, and I enjoy doing the publishing work more these days than teaching, so it was time for a change. As of January, I’ll be back in Southeast Michigan, focusing on my manga lettering work (and cleaning the house, and going on Fallout 4 binges). The pay will be better and the workload lighter, on average. This is great as it’ll allow me more time to work on my own art in my spare time. I’m not 100% sure how long I’ll be back in Michigan, but it depends on how long the house takes to get ready, and how long I want to enjoy socking away extra money from living cheaply before I run myself through the ringer of living in a “hip” place again. Also, the plan is my girlfriend will stay with me there for three months in the spring (the longest she can stay in the states as a tourist), and we’ll decide what we want to do from there, in terms of staying together and where we might live. Anyway, I’ll be busy for the rest of the year and most of January, so I probably won’t be updating this blog for a while, but once I have my current two books done, have moved out of my apartment, and have tied up loose ends in Japan, I’ll be resettling back in my old home and will have many more updates for you. Exciting times!



OK, everybody online and looking good…


Hello everyone!

 

If you by any chance read my art blog, then you may have noticed it’s been down for the past month. Now the blog’s back online, but it’s in a state of flux, with some shifting page design, and missing blog posts. Well, you can thank yours-truly, Evan, for that. See, programming stuff has never really been my forte, and I slog through it whenever I redesign this art portfolio site, but I’m by no means a wizard with such things… even less when we’re talking about databases, SQL, and all that. Blahblahblah… long story short: I didn’t properly back-up my blog posts when I updated from my ancient version of WordPress to the modern one and lost all the blog posts since 2008!  Luckily, I was able to snag the code for all of them up until a year ago off of the Internet Archive Wayback Machine (it’s saved me more than once now!)  *whew!* Also, special thanks to Ken at Doteasy for being super helpful in getting my database stuff straightened out! Anyway, I’m in the process of reposting those old blog posts for posterity, correcting dead links and typos I missed the first time around, and just generally tweaking the old before I get to… the NEW!

 

This all sort of leads into something exciting. For the past month, whenever my busy schedule has allowed, I’ve been working on a total redo / redesign of the site, and will be posting that soon! It’s been a ton of work, and everything is different, bigger, and better! I’m not 100% how soon I’ll be posting it. It’s about 90% done, but the remaining couple sections are a little tricky. Also, this blog is going to look a weird sometimes and will have some broken links (fixed later) while I tweak it, so hang in there! See you soooooooon!



Clair


Clair

So the good news is that since moving to Japan, I’ve been super inspired and in a great mood most of the time (which is conducive to making art for me). The bad news is that I’ve been so dang busy that I haven’t been able to make as much art as I’d like. Also, my model network here is basically nonexistent, and despite the large amount of pretty girls and handsome dudes in Nagasaki, it’s hard to find people who want to pose for fashion-type photos. That said, I’ve done a couple shoots for my friend Mai, who runs “Clair”, a dress and accessory shop!

 

Recently, Mai’s friend Ren posed with a bunch of different dresses. It was her first time modeling, and I think she was stunning! There are a lot more on the gallery page for it, so click here, or on the Ren pics to see more than what I’ve posted here. Here’s a sample…

 

Clair

Next up, a few shots of Mai herself, rocking some fabulous dresses and jewelry. As with before, click here, or below, s to see more! Mai looks quite good here too, I think 🙂

 

Clair

Clair

Despite having to leave my big Profoto strobe set back in the states, due to size / weight / cost restrictions, I’ve not been without strobes as you see here. I bought an extra Speedlite, a wireless trigger, and some various accessories. I don’t have quite the power and consistency of light quality that I have with my Acute 1200s set, but the tradeoff is that my Speedlite setup is battery powered and super compact, so I can shoot anywhere without being tethered by a power cord. Also, if things break, it’s a lot cheaper to replace a Speedlite than a strobe head…. Stay tuned! As I get to know more people around Kyushu, as well as planning ahead for shooting when I visit other places, I’ll be posting more fashion and portraits once again!

 

I should add, as a post-script, that I’m still taking tons of photos. I shoot about 8-10 Gigs per week here, just in snapshots, and I’ve been doing more event photography for the schools I work for. Pretty fun!