100 Things No One Told Me

I’m getting on #the100dayproject late (it started April 3rd), but I’m joining in and going to post a drawing everyday for the next 100 days. So I’ll be posting one a day until Friday, August 10th.

I had this super clever, original (I thought) idea to do daily drawings for the next 100 days based on things no one told me. I googled it just to see if anyone had done it before, and another illustrator already did it! Darn it. Alex Noriega had this same idea and executed it very well in 2010. His last post on his blog, snotm.com was in 2013 though — and his insights and drawings are much wiser than I am (most of mine are about body hair and BO). So I feel like the projects will be different enough that it’s still worth it for me to contribute. If you were following me when I did my, “lie to me” project, I had followers message me the lies they tell themselves and I would incorporate them into my daily drawings. It was really fun, and I felt like I got to know a lot of you much better. I’m opening that up again — what’s something no one told you that you had to find out for yourself? Message me! I want to know and draw it!

1/100 things no one told me. No one told me chin hair was going to be thing I would need to deal with on a regular basis. When I was a teen I’d randomly get one, long white hair that I’d pluck and not have another one for years. Now it seems like it’s every day! Oh well – I work from home.

My lie.

I didn’t realize how often I told myself this little seemingly white lie… but it’s not really a white lie and its unfortunately led me to be someone other than myself at times. The first step is being aware of it, right? If you haven’t been following me, I asked folks to tell me the lies they tell themselves and others. This one is my own, but I want to hear your’s too. Lie to me. •

Supplies, tools and materials I adore.

I think a lot of people with art practices probably go through periods where they love a technique or tool for a long time and then later abandon it altogether a few months later––or maybe that’s just me. My practice has always been very intuitive and experimental. In and out of my art, I feel most alive when I’m learning and trying new things.

Unfortunately for me, this has led to a large body of work but little cohesion within it. I personally don’t feel that this is a problem, but for getting editorial and commissioned work it can be. Most clients and buyers want to know what they’re getting when they hire you. If your work is all over the place stylistically, this is hard to do. In 2017, I sought to nail down a specific signature style to my art and illustration. After a summer of deliberate experimentation with tools and techniques, a style within my work began to coalesce.

I still involve as much experimenting in my process as possible, but I try to keep my signature style in mind whenever I do this. Here’s the tools I have recently settled on.

All of the images below link to where you can purchase them on Amazon.

  1. Alcohol Ink Markers

    This is probably old news to a lot of you, but alcohol ink markers are amazing. It’s as if pure, vibrant, unadulterated color is pouring out on my paper. I tested the waters at first to see if I liked them with a cheap brand on Amazon and was pleasantly surprised. They were great. I liked them so much that I ordered them for the children’s art program I ran. Our patrons loved them, and a couple of professional comic book artists who taught our workshops also sung their praises.These are the same ones we used:
    Supplies, Materials and Tools I Adore - Ella Trujillo
    I recommend purchasing the cheap set and figuring out which colors you like the best. From there, find matching duplicates of a higher-end brand like Copic. Copic markers are hands down the best I’ve tried, but they are $5-7 each or more. Fortunately, they are refillable. Because of this I’ve heard they are cheaper in the long run than other high-end brands like Prismacolor.I’m slowly replacing all of my cheaper ones with Copics as the Artify markers run out. Most art supply stores will allow you to test markers before you purchase them. The Artify color numbers do not match up with Copics, so I’d recommend bringing in swatches of the colors you’d like to replace and testing Copics that look close alongside them. If you’re lucky enough to live near a Dick Blick or similar large art supply store, there is a ton of selection. Michael’s and A.C. Moore might have some, but I’m not sure how keen they will be on you testing them.

    You can also purchase Copics online, but it is hard to know what color you’re getting without testing it. You could also just purchase a large set if you have the funds.
  2. Tracing Paper

    I run through this stuff like it’s nothing. I used to buy the pads of it but found a lot of discrepancies in the paper quality. Of course tracing paper isn’t going to be high-quality, but I’ve found the rolls of it have a lot less dimples and creases. I once had to throw out a whole pad because of how bad the creases on it were. I’ve been buying it in rolls since.I’m going to let you in on a secret of how I get the vibrant, watercolor-like washes in my work. It’s not watercolor. It’s alcohol ink markers on tracing paper. The transparent quality of the paper also makes it less absorbent. Most paper would absorb the ink, but with tracing paper, the ink sits on top and creates watercolor-like effects. Give it a shot and let me know what you think. I discovered this by chance and it’s influenced all of my work since. I’ll also be expecting royalties for this.
  3. iPad and Stylus

    I’m a new convert to this world but I have to say, it’s AMAZING. Technology has come so far so fast. There is something to be said for working on paper with physical materials; it will always be the food for my soul. That said, working commercially and for tight deadlines, the iPad is perfect. Most people who work with one have an Apple Pencil and an iPad Pro.

    Well, I’m still using my old iPad Air and a cheap stylus I got off Amazon.

    Musemee Notier Prime – The Precision Disc Stylus

    Even with these “inferior” options, I’m genuinely impressed by the quality of the pieces I’ve been making.

    I spend a lot of time painting, scanning and then editing my work for clients. Using the iPad has literally cut that time into a third. It’s also tripled the amount of doodling and sketching I do in a day. It’s easier, more convenient and requires no consumable materials. If you’re on the road frequently like I am, it allows you to still make art even if you don’t have the space.

    My favorite apps so far are Adobe Sketch and Adobe Draw. I’m going to give Procreate a try very soon, too!

  4. Journals and Sketchbook
    My journal system deserves a post of its own. I’ve adapted a system of Bullet Journaling for my own needs. I’m going to write an entire post about how I do this very soon, but it’s very similar to the one I’ve linked.If you’re not familiar, a Bullet Journal is essentially a DIY planner that you layout and design based on your needs. There’s a ton of information about different layouts and structures you can make online. Some people get very creative with it, but mine is very minimal. If you’re interested, the best course in trying it is trial and error. The layout I used when I started is much different than the one I use now. I really enjoy creating the most efficient layouts as possible that incorporate all of my tasks and goals.Since using this system, I feel like my brain is finally somewhat clear (side note: I have ADHD so I may struggle with this more than you might).I carry my bright red Moleskine everywhere I go. It’s small enough to fit in my purse but large enough to write comfortably in. I’m very fond of Moleskine’s brand of orange-ish red, but of course, these are available in lots of colors. If you don’t carry a purse, there’s a smaller size as well––and larger sizes!
    I use it every morning and make thorough lists of tasks and goals the beginning of every month, week and day, and subsequent series of reflections. It helps me dump all the crud that’s floating around in my brain onto paper. Then I reorganize it all based on priority––or decide if it really even matters to begin with. The process helps keep me accountable in my work and personal life. 
    I use my Moleskine for plans and structuring, and a separate, larger journal for something author Julia Cameron calls Morning Pages. Julia Cameron wrote The Artist’s Way which is essentially a practical guide to becoming more creative. It’s very structured and acts as a workshop; you’re meant to follow it for many weeks. Most of the book wasn’t particularly useful for me because many of the exercises were things I already do in my life as an artist. It’s more geared towards encouraging non-artists to be vulnerable, try things and fail. Artists and creatives are pretty used to that sort of thing. That said, Morning Pages were something I took and ran with. It hasn’t been long but so far I’ve written them every morning for the past 35 days.

    Here’s how to do them:

    Write 3 pages every morning about whatever is on your mind. Don’t read and review it. In fact, you won’t read it ever again if you can help it. That ensures that when you write, it is purely an exercise of meditation. There is no future-you or reader judging the writing. If you were to read it, it would probably read like the ramblings of a crazy person. Similar to my Bullet Journal, it acts as a brain dump. It helps me sort through difficult emotions. I have already grown and learned so much about myself and my art. I can’t recommend trying it enough.

    For me to be able to commit to a daily routine like Morning Pages, I must love the tools I use. This is just something I know about myself; I’m particular about textures, colors and how it feels to hold something. I write with Pilot Precise V7 Rolling Ball pens and use a Fabriano notebook.

    And then I carry a third book on me: My sketchbook. I struggled for a long time to find a sketchbook with pages that didn’t bleed through when I used wet materials. I tried a RENDR sketchbook and I haven’t gone back. The pages do not bleed at all. If you’re working with alcohol ink, that is very important. Plus, I really appreciate the minimal, black styling of the cover and that it’s hardbound.

  5. Water Crayons

    These are so cool. I first discovered them when I was backpacking through Europe and loved the convenience of them. You can draw with them and then use any moisture and it creates a watercolor effect. You can play with it to still keep some rough crayon texture in your work, too. I’ve only ever tried Caran D’Ache ones––I haven’t felt the need to venture. They’re buttery, vibrant and respond to moisture immediately.
  6. Waterbrushes

    These are great for convenience as well, and I usually use these partnered with the water crayons. Instead of having to have a separate cup with water, the water is stored in the handle of the brush. If you’re painting on the go, it is a relief to not have to think about carrying a cup and water with you. And it’s much less messy with less potential to spill. I’ve seen these at art supply stores and Michaels for about 6 times what I paid for them on Amazon. Maybe the ones they carry in store are a higher quality, but so far I haven’t had any issues with mine and I’ve been using them for months.
  7. Holbein Gouache

    Lisa Congdon recommended this brand on her blog so I thought I’d try them out. They are incredible! Very matte and extremely vibrant. I tried them while I was in art school, but wasn’t impressed by the colors. I believe I just got the standard set of primary colors. If you don’t plan on using colors beyond that, you’ll be fine. But if you want some bright colors, it is impossible to mix them. I grabbed a bright lime green and nearly neon pink and was converted to the world of gouache. 
  8. Signo Uniball White Ink Pen

    It’s a truly opaque white pen that you can use to write and doodle on darker colors. It is the most opaque white ink pen I have found so far.
  9. Gelly Roll Pens

    Gelly Roll makes a great white pen as well in case you can’t find the Uniball one. All of their light colors are very opaque. You’ll find this to be essential if you’re drawing with pens on top of dark colors––opaque reins supreme.
  10. The last tool I use frequently; Google Image Search. What would any of us do without it? I guess there was once something called a reference book?

Beaky

When we were kids, my brother found and injured magpie on my family’s farm in Southern Colorado and nursed it back to health. From them on, it followed him everywhere. We headed back to Denver at the end of the summer, but would still visit for long weekends and Beaky would be waiting for us. Eventually we stopped seeing him, but whenever I see magpies I think of him.

Saying no.

Maybe it seems negative, but 2018 is shaping up to be the year I feel comfortable saying, “no.” No, I don’t have time for that in my life. No, that doesn’t matter to me. No, I disagree or that is bad for me personally or for all of us. No! Politics aside, personally I have a habit of people pleasing and overcommitting myself. I make plans with zeal and later realize I’m not capable of giving whatever it was that I committed to. If I’ve done this to you, I’m sorry. Sometimes I don’t always think things through. In the future, I hope to have some foresight and say, “no” to the things I can’t do, or the things I can’t change.

Supplies, Materials and Tools I Adore

I think a lot of people with art practices probably go through periods where there love a technique and tool for a long time and then later abandon it all together a few months later. Or maybe that’s just me. My practice has also been very intuitive and experimental. In and out of my art, I feel most alive when I’m learning and trying new things.

Unfortunately for me, this has led to a large body of work but little cohesion within it. Personally, that is not a downside for me. Professionally it is. Most clients and buyers want to know what they’re getting when they hire you. If your work is all over the place stylistically, this is hard to do. In 2017, I sought to nail down a specific signature style to my art and illustration, and part of that was nailing down a process, after much deliberate experimentation.

I still involve as much experimenting in my process as possible, but I try to keep my signature style in mind whenever I do this. Here’s the tools I have recently settled on.

All of the images below link to where you can purchase them on Amazon.

  1. Alcohol Ink Markers
    This is probably old news to a lot of you, but these things are amazing. It is like pure, vibrant, unadulterated color in these things. I tested the waters at first to see if I liked them with a cheap brand on Amazon. They were surprisingly great! And they are significantly better than other cheap-o brands I tried later. After I tried them, I went on to order them for every library the art program in Philadelphia I worked for was located. Our patrons loved them, and a couple of professional comic book artists who taught workshops also sung their praises.These are the same ones we used:
    Supplies, Materials and Tools I Adore - Ella Trujillo
    I recommend following my lead; purchase the cheap set and figure out which colors you like the best. From there, find matching duplicates of a higher end brand like Copic. Copic markers are hands down the best – but they are $5-7 each. Fortunately, they arerefillable. Because of this I’ve heard they are cheaper in the long run than other high end brands like Prismacolor. I’m slowly replacing all of my cheaper ones with Copics as the Artify markers run out. Most art supply stores will allow you to test markers before you purchase them. The Artify color numbers do not match up with Copics, so I’d recommend bringing in swatches of the colors you’d like to replace and testing Copics that look close alongside them. If you’re lucky enough to live near a Dick Blick or similar large art supply store, there is a ton of selection. Michael’s and A.C. Moore might be able to get you buy, but not very well.

    You can also purchase Copics online, but it is hard to know what color you’re getting without testing it. You could also just purchase a large set though, if you have the funds.
  2. Tracing Paper
    I run through this stuff like nothing. I used to buy the pads of it, but found a lot of discrepancies in the paper quality. Of course tracing paper isn’t going to be high quality, but I’ve found the rolls of it have a lot less dimples and creases in it.
    Also, I’m going to let you in on a secret of how I get the vibrant, watercolor-like washes in my work. It’s not watercolor. It’s alcohol ink markers on tracing paper. The transparent quality of the paper also makes it less absorbent. Most paper would absorb the ink, but with tracing paper, the ink sits on top and creates watercolor-like effects. Give it a shot and let me know what you think. I discovered this by chance and it’s influenced all of my work since then.
  3. iPad and Stylus
    I’m a new convert to this world but I have to say, it is AMAZING. Technology has come so far and so fast. There is something to be said for working on paper with physical materials; it will also be the food of my soul. That said, working commercially and for tight deadlines the iPad is great for digital painting and drawing. Most people who work with one have an Apple Pencil and an iPad Pro.

    Well, I’m still using my old iPad Air and a cheap stylus I got off Amazon.

    Musemee Notier Prime – The Precision Disc Stylus

    Even with these, “inferior” options I am genuinely impressed by the quality of the pieces I’ve been making.
    I spent a lot of time scanning and then editing my pieces for editorial clients; I’ve literally cut that time into a third. It has also tripled the amount of doodling and sketching I do in a day. It’s easier, it’s more convenient, it requires no consumable materials.

  4. Journals and Sketchbook
    My journal system deserves a post of it’s own. I’ve adapted a system of Bullet Journal for my own needs. I’m going to write an entire post about how I do this very soon, but it is very similar to the one I’ve linked.
    If you’re not familiar, a Bullet Journal is essentially a DIY planner that you layout and design based on your needs. There’s a ton of information about different layouts and structures you can make online. The best course if you’re interested in trying it and is trial and error. The layout I used when I started is much different than the one I use now.
    Since using this system, I feel like my brain is finally somewhat clear (sidenote: I have ADHD so I may struggle with this more than you might).
    I carry my bright red Moleskine everywhere I go. It’s small enough to fit in my purse but large enough to write comfortably in. I’m very fond of Moleskine’s brand of orange-ish red, but of course these are available in lots of colors. If you don’t carry a purse, there’s a smaller size as well. And larger sizes!
    I use it every morning. I make a thorough list of tasks and goals the beginning of every month, week and day, and a subsequent series of reflections. It helps me hold myself accountable. It helps me dump all the crud that’s floating around in my brain onto a paper and reorganize it all based on priority and if it really even matters to begin with. 
    I use my Moleskine for plans and structuring, and I use a separate, larger journal for something author Julia Cameron calls Morning Pages. Julia Cameron wrote The Artist’s Way which is essentially a practical guide to becoming more creative. It’s very structured and acts as a class. She stresses the importance of keeping Morning Pages. Most of the book wasn’t particularly useful for me; most of the exercises were things I already do in my life as an artist. I think it’s more geared towards non-artists allowing themselves to be vulnerable, try things and fail. I think most artists and creatives are pretty used to that sort of thing. That said, Morning Pages were something I took from it and ran with. It’s only been about a month since I’ve started, but so far I’ve written them every morning for the past 35 days.All there is to it is you write 3 pages every morning of whatever is on your brain. You don’t read and review it; in fact, you don’t read it every again if you can help it. That ensures that when you write, it is purely an exercise of meditation. There is no future-you and other reader judging the writing. If you were to read it, it would probably be near jibberish or the ramblings of a crazy person.Similar to my Bullet Journal, it acts as a brain dump. It helps me sort through difficult emotions. I have already grown and learned so much about myself and my art. I can’t recommend trying it enough. For me to be able to commit to a daily routine, I must love the tools I use. I write with Pilot Precise V7 Rolling Ball pens and use a Fabriano notebook.
    And then I carry a third book on me: my sketchbook. I struggled for a long time to find a sketchbook with pages that didn’t bleed. I tried a RENDR sketchbook and I haven’t gone back. The pages DO. NOT. BLEED. at all. If you’re working with alcohol ink, that is very important. Plus, I really appreciate the minimal styling of the cover and that it’s hardbound.
  5. Water Crayons
    These are so cool. I first discovered them when I was backpacking through Europe and loved the convenience of them. You can draw with them and then use any moisture and it creates a watercolor effect. You can play with it to still keep some rough crayon texture in your work, too. I’ve only ever tried Caran D’Ache ones — I haven’t felt the need to venture. They’re buttery, vibrant and respond to moisture immediately.
  6. Waterbrushes
    These are great for convenience as well, and I usually use these partnered with the water crayons and colored pencils. Instead of having to have a separate cup with water, the water is stored in the handle of the brush. If you’re painting on the go, it is a relief to not have to think about carrying a cup and water with you. And it’s much less messy with less potential to spill. I’ve seen these at art supply stores and Michaels for about 6 x’s what I paid for them on Amazon. Maybe the ones they carry in store are a higher quality, but so far I haven’t had any issues with mine and I’ve been using them for months.
  7. Holbein Gouache
    Lisa Congdon recommended this brand on her blog so I thought I’d try them out. They are amazing. Very matter and very vibrant. I tried them while I was in art school, but wasn’t impressed by the colors. I believe I just got the set of primary colors. If you don’t plan on using colors beyond that, you’ll be fine. But if you want some bright colors, it is impossible to mix. I grabbed a bright lime green and nearly neon pink and was converted to the world of gouache. 
  8. Signo Uniball White Ink Pen
    It’s a truly opaque white pen that you can use to write and doodle on darker colors. It is the most opaque white ink pen I have found so far.
  9. Gelly Roll Pens
    Gelly Roll makes a great white pen as well, if you can’t find the Uniball one. All of their light colors are very opaque. You’ll find this to be essential if you’re drawing with pens on top of dark colors – opaque reins supreme.
  10. The last tool I use frequently; Google Image Search. What would any of us do without it? I guess there was once something called a reference book?

Lie to Me

What is a lie you regularly tell yourself or someone else? I’ve posted about this idea before.. lately I’ve been incorporating the lies I tell myself and others into my daily drawings and sketches. I’d like to do a zine about them, with your input. Tell me a habitual lie of yours, and I’ll incorporate it into an illustration and post it.

Thriving Artist

In 2017, I decided to really give it a go at being a freelance illustrator. I’m continuing this goal in 2018. I recently picked up Lisa Congdon‘s book Art, Inc. and it has seriously made me rethink many conceptions I had about a career making art.

Art, Inc
Art, Inc

Coming from a fine art background (I have a BFA in painting) is ideologically pretty different than if I had pursued an illustration education – but the reality is that I have bills to pay, I want to continue my nomadic lifestyle, and I’m pretty good at drawing. I’m thrilled to get paid to draw everyday, and I still work on many (too many) of my own personal projects. Here’s to continuing the work in 2018.