Thursday, April 12, 2012

The Connection: Childhood and Adulthood

Even though my portfolio only dates back to 2003, I've been creating art since I was a kid. Even for kids drawings, I spent a lot of time on them, wanting to make them beautiful. I even remember drawing my own superheroes, coloring them, cutting them out, and then detailing the backs of the paper. I'm not sure why I did this, but I do recall playing with these paper figures as if they were action figures. I also loved coloring books. The coloring books I remember owning were Ninja Turtles, Batman, X-Men, a Fantastic 4/Incredible Hulk combo book, Power Rangers, and even Jurassic Park. I used to spend many hours in a single day coloring just a few pictures at a time. I felt I had to choose the right colors, stay in the lines, and I even developed a technique where I would press down hard with the crayon and then scratch away the excess crayon wax with my fingernail. This would leave a nice soft looking picture where all the white was filled in and it looked like the crayon blended with the paper very naturally. I sometimes would go as far as adding my own details in the picture. I think next to video games, my coloring books and personal art projects were my greatest childhood passions.

When I decided that I would pursue a career as an artist after I got out of high school, I don't really recall thinking about what I did throughout my childhood, even as my art progressed over the years. I'm thinking about it now and the funny thing is even though my art has evolved over the years and I've developed certain techniques of my own since 2003, the passion I have towards the work and some of the techniques themselves mirrors exactly what I was doing 20 years ago. I think back to the action figures I drew and then cut out as a kid and then I think about what I started doing with my projects in 2005, when I starting cutting my drawings into random shapes.
Untitled 4-2005. I started cutting my drawings into different shapes.
I also think about cutting out the action figures and adding detail to the back of the paper and then I think about my more recent obsession of finishing the back of my artwork even though no one will see it. With my recent work, I started doing that in 2010 and I'm still doing it to this day, the most recent example being the collaborative piece Dark Lily that I worked on and completed recently with my friend Christine.
Dark Lily, a collaborative piece I worked on with my friend Christine. The front had a lot of work done to it, but......... 

so did the back.
Then there's my obsession with coloring beautiful pictures in my coloring books. In later years, that attitude would come back when would often go back and do charcoal work over and over again until I felt it was right, or I would paint over something until I felt it was right. I also sometimes stare just inches away at my drawings and paintings. I even go as far as blending and smudging paint with my own fingers just like I used to used my fingernail to scratch away excess crayon wax from a picture. 

Like I said, I never recalled thinking back to my childhood, but the similarities are there, even if the circumstances of how I developed these techniques are not. I think what is similar are two things. First, I always had an obsession to do things differently than others. Throughout my life I always felt like I was somehow different from most people and that led me to do things that would help forge an identity of my own. So I do believe there is a connection between feeling different and thinking differently. Second, as both a child and an adult, I always had a passion towards doing anything creative. That passion would drive to do things that a lot of other people would see as unnecessary or simply not worth it. 

Originally, I was going to to blog about something entirely different, but these connections I'm making are just mind boggling and I find it amazing that so much of your childhood stays with you as an adult, even if you don't think about it. As for me and what I'm doing now, I still feel like I'm different than most people; not better, just different. I still feel like I think differently than others and I believe that my art, no matter how good or bad it may get in the future will reflect that.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Santa Lilio Sangre: Ayami Kojima Art Works

Today, after arriving home from doing work at the college, I was surprised to find that a book I had ordered arrived at my house much sooner than I expected it to. I ordered it late last week and it had to ship over here from Japan. I figured I'd have to wait at least another week or so, but I didn't and that's great. As the title of this entry suggests, the book I ordered was Santa Lilio Sangre: Ayami Kojima Art Works.
Ayami Kojima's Santa Lilio Sangre. Released only in Japan in 2010.
Before I continue, I should provide you with some information about Ayami Kojima and this book. Ayami Kojima is a Japanese artist who is mostly known for her artwork in video games, particularly the Castlevania series, although she has done a lot of work outside of video games. The first game she had done artwork for was Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, which was released in 1997. This game was unusual for two reasons. First, it was a 2D side-scrolling game at a time when 3D games were becoming the big thing and second, the artwork was done by hand at a time when more computer made artwork was appearing on game cases. Her artwork was also unique for video games since she uses a variety of acrylic mediums in her work as well as metallic paints, and even ink. It looks more like something that would be seen at a museum rather than on the cover of a video game box.

European box art of Castlevania: Symphony of the Night
The book featuring her artwork, Santa Lilio Sangre was released in Japan in 2010. Up to this point, it has only seen a Japanese release. It's a well made, well design coffee table book that features a lot of her Castlevania artwork (although not all of it) and a lot of her other work as well. I guess there isn't too much more I can say about it, so these images that I pulled from the internet can speak for themselves, although I can assure you that they do not do the artwork justice by any means.

Now some of you may ask what any of this has to do with me. After all, in my first entry, I did mention that my blog would be about me and my artwork. The truth is, this has everything to do with me because had it not been for Ayami Kojima and her artwork, my artwork may not be where it is today. A few years ago, I had decided to make the slow transition to mixed media and I was on the search for various new mediums that would be good for creating more three dimensional work and that would be good for enhancing drawings and paintings. Although, I knew about Ayami Kojima and her work already, I had not paid too much attention to how she created her work until I was on the search for new mediums. I looked her up online and found out everything she used. My intention was not to make work that looked like hers. Instead, I wanted to see what I could do with molding paste, metallic paints, and polymer gloss. My experiment led to my 2009 piece the Eternal Midnight Sonata. In 2010, my pieces Sparky, Mourning After Dawn, and Memento-Mori would follow this same influence.

The Eternal Midnight Sonata. Completed in 2009.
Sparky. Completed in 2010.
Mourning After Dawn. Completed in 2010.
Memento-Mori. Completed in 2010.
However, not only did Ayami Kojima's work greatly influence the current direction of my art, but perhaps my own future. For years, as I had been progressing as an artist, I had been trying to figure out where it will all lead to, what I would be doing for the rest of my life. Despite going to college, I had always wanted to work independently, to run my own business. I eventually came to the conclusion that creating and publishing my own books is something I would like to do. Although I had made this decision long before Santa Lilio Sangre was released, seeing this book has made me more determined to go in that direction. These kinds of books are so beautiful and so well crafted. In the age of e-books and other forms of digitized reading, books like this make books as a physical medium precious, just like they were centuries ago when owning books was considered a luxury. I would love to make comic books, graphic novels, and coffee table books, and to do so with the same care and love that I had given to my artwork over the years. For those of you who like my artwork, don't worry about me abandoning the kind of work I've been doing for almost 10 years now. I believe that kind of artwork will lead to all sorts of innovations and will be the backbone of everything else I do. The buttons I started making in 2010 (which I hope to discuss later) are proof of that. 

Monday, April 2, 2012

My Introduction

If you're reading this, then chances are you already know me and at least have an idea of what I do and what I'm all about. That being said, this is more like an introduction to the type of blog that I'm doing since most readers (for the time being) already know me. This is an art blog titled "Inside Jon-Erich's Head". My intent with this blog is to give readers insight on my art projects, events that I participate in, as well my progression as an artist. As some of you may know, I used to do this very same thing on Myspace a few years ago, but I stopped when I felt Myspace was becoming irrelevant. However, since I feel that recording my progression as an artist is important, I want to continue where I left off a few years ago.

Some of you may wonder why I'm choosing to do an art blog as opposed to a blog about a variety of subjects such as current issues, politics, my current job, or other aspects of my life outside of art. The answer is simple. Even though my opinions on various subjects may be unique because they're my opinions, everyone else already has blogs like that. By creating an art blog, I'm creating something that has a unique insight on my artwork and because it's about me and my art, it's something original. Besides, my status updates on Facebook will provide everything else this blog does not provide.

To be honest, I meant to start writing a month ago, but I didn't for a variety of reasons I don't care to discuss at this time. While many of you missed out on anything I had to report for March other than status updates and messages on Facebook, there will be a lot to talk about in April. This month, I plan to have one new project finished as well as two collaborative projects that I'm working on with my friend Christine. I will also be having an art show at the end of the month with Christine. So there will be plenty to talk about in the coming days and weeks. Until then, feel free to comment on this introduction post, or ask me anything you may have on your mind.