Category: General

Traditional art, new art supplies and video making

A week ago I started my Art History Challenge and it has been a really interesting and fun experience so far, but I think it will be best to talk about it after it is completed and I have the 30 illustrationsin front of me. Even thought the challenge is focused on producing digital illustration, I’m getting more and more interested in expanding my “traditional media horisonts”, something which only 5 years ago seemed like it will never happen.

After discovering the digital world and vector illustration I almost entirely withdrew from everything traditional, well except pencil and paper for doodling. All my finished pieces that I’d dare show to the world were made on the computer. I got terrified by the imperfection of traditional work and too addicted to the clean sleek look of vector graphics. It felt like there’s no way to hide or fix my mistakes, so I just avoided facing them by only working digitally. What I didn’t realize was, mistakes were still there. No computer program can hide gaps in knowledge of proportions, anatomy or perspective, even though it can make it much easier to fix or gloss over, once they are noticed.

As a self thought, I was always aware of the gaps in my knowledge and always stived to fill them whenever I found the time and means to do so. And one day I realized that part of it would be going “back to the basics”, back to the traditional media. It started gradually from pencil on paper, through pen on paper to rediscovering watercolors. I had signed up for a drawing basics class and one day before Christmas when only me and 2 others showed up for the class the teacher decided that we should do something different for a change and as a reward for our loyalty to his class. He introduced us to one of the coolest techniques I know of today: ink and watercolor (the class was focused only on pencil and pen techniques). It was pure magic and a love from a first sight! Next semester I signed up for an extra class in aquarelle basics and had some amazing time. Since then I’ve been developing my traditional skills, even at times (in 2015) was more focused on them and did nearly no digital work (except clients projects of course).

Today I can safely say I’m no longer scared of traditional media. There are materials like pastels or acrylic that I haven’t touched since I was a child and to be honest have no interest in going back to. I admit I should probably give them a try and be curious about all new things, but they just don’t excite me at all. At least I can say with clear conscious it’s just my lack of interest that’s stopping me from trying and not at all fear! There is however a medium from my childhood I’ve been dying to go back to: markers!

First time I heard about Copic Markers was during my Graphic design education, this was also the first time I got to try them. Unfortunately I only got to play with bunch of them (mostly grey scale ones) during class and since they were owned by the school, the teacher took them back in the end of the class. We were told that they are “the deal” and “a super cool tool for designers”. Back then my thoughts must have been something along the lines of “meh! why not just use a permanent marker”. I also remember being told they require special paper and a bunch of other special things… and on top of it all they cost a fortune, so I really didn’t think it was worth all the hurdle and dismissed it all as another pointless trend. [Kind of how I feel about Apple products, please don’t kill me with stones!]

A long time have passed since and in the last year or so I’ve been re-evaluating my feelings towards Copics. I’m not saying they are as amazing as everyone says, as I’ve never owned one, but I’ve come to the point where I wish I did, so so badly! The only thing stopping me is how expensive they actually are and I’m not sure I want to invest so much in something that I might end up not liking and not using. I am a person who evaluates almost every purchase quite critically and only buy things I have at least 85% certainty I’d use on at least a weekly basis.

Truth be told I have already reached the level of certainty I need, but every time I go to the store and am faced with the price, I stop and go back to evaluating. I’ve been also looking into more affordable alternatives, but so far I either didn’t see these as that much more affordable, or hated the feel of them when trying them in the shop.

So when last week I was at my art store again, looking for inspiration and drooling over the Copics, I’ve decided I’ll get some markers with brush tips to try them and if I use them often enough, I’ll finally get some Copics. To challenge creativity and save money I’ve only allowed myself 5 colors. What I ended up getting was actually colored brush pens rather then markers, but I’d say it’s close enough. They are by Faber- Castell and the color palette I selected for myself is: Light skin (114), Ice blue (148), Indanthrene blue (247), Dark chrome yellow (109) and Scarlet red (118). I also got two in black, because one can always use a black brush pen and Inktober is coming!

Another item of art supply I’ve been after has been the Prisma color pencils. I want to try them so bad, but none of my local art supply stores seem to have them, so instead I got a Stabilo pen, half red and half blue, I just love sketching in color!

I’ve been pretty happy with this fairly experimental for me purchase… well two of the brush pens are a bit lighter than I thought they were (the Light skin and Ice Blue), but I did try them at the store, so it was my own mistake. They remind me how clumsy I am with a brush pen and how much I need to practice, but I’m having a lot of fun playing around. Which brings me to my other current love and newly found pasion: video making, which deserves (and will get) a post of its own soon!

 

I wanted to make a video trying out my new art supplies, but at the same time I didn’t want to make just another basic process video. I want to create videos, which tell a story. I must admit this is rather ambitious desire when all you have to work with is the video recorder on your phone and absolutely no knowledge in video making, both production and post production- wise. I’m not a person who’s good at systematically learning the theoretical basis of a subject. If I’m ever to learn anything I must have a problem, so that learning happens in the process of solving that problem. Oh and that problem must excite me so much it won’t let me sleep at night! This is why I have my challenging visions of where I want my videos to be and I’ll either figure out how to make them come true by producing one crappy video every week until they start getting better (and will then continue to produce good videos…) or I’ll find out it was just a phase and I didn’t actually care for video production at all! Video making has been on my mind for quite a long time though, so I kind of believe (and secretly hope) that the first scenario will come true, but there’s only one way to find out!

Enough blabbering! Hope you’ll enjoy my first attempt at a story- telling video and my (I think) third attempt to draw with my new brush pens!

 

My travel drawing kit

Since I’m soon leaving for a vacation to Barcelona, so I thought I’d quickly share my travel drawing kit with you. It is quite small, but absolutely enough for sketching on the go!

Sketch-48

1. A tiny watercolor set that I made myself, using a tin box of mints and pans of my current favorite colors to paint with. They are all mixed up, collected from here and there and I have no clue which brands they are, but certainly nothing too fancy, the quality is not too bad though. The colors I’ve selected are: turquoise blue, ultramarine blue, cobalt blue, red light, carmine, raw siena, burnt siena, lemon yellow and orange yellow.

2. A small makeup bag with a pattern of colorful water drops on it, quite fitting for a watercolor drawing kit, I thought!

3. Moleskine Art Plus Watercolor album

4. Thin long fine spray bottle filled with water

5. Large water brush

6. Small water brush

7. Pigma Micron 05 ink pen | I might add one thinner to the mix just in case!

8. Schneider Maxx permanent marker | Not sure I actually need it.

9. White jell pen

10. Eraser pen like thingie

11. Faber Castell 2B pencil

12. Derwent watercolor pencil Cobalt blue 31

13. Derwent watercolor pencil May Green 48

14. Derwent watercolor pencil Sepia 53

15. Random orange watercolor pencil | I like drawing an initial sketch in watercolor pencil, so no pencil marks are visible in the final piece. I usually use colors close to the colors of the object, so they blend nicely, but to be honest my green and orange pencils are a bit random and not so useful. I carry them around anyway, most of the time they actually serve to hold my hair up in a bun 🙂

16. Sharpener

17. Bunch of clips

18. Tissue paper pack

Aaaand onwards to adventure!

 

What is in your drawing travel kit?

Origins of the Cyrillic alphabet | Infographics

The 24th of May is a national holiday in Bulgaria. It is the day of St. Cyril and St Methodius, who created the Glagolitic alphabet back in the 9th century. On the basis of that alphabet the Cyrillic emerged, which is one of the most widespread alphabets in the world today. Bulgarians have a special soft spot for this “weird” alphabet as it was created and popularized on the territory of medieval Bulgaria under tsar Simeon the Great. Needless to say we still use it and (at least some of us) get a kick out of watching foreigners struggle with it!

As I am living abroad, I’d be often asked why we use the “Russian letters” and I’d get slightly annoyed. I’m not at all “national- minded” and have none of that “we-are-the-most-amazing-nation-in-the-world-and-we’ve-invented-everything-that-matters” mindset, which I very much dislike, but it still bothers me when people call the Cyrillic the “Russian alphabet”. I’d correct them, but usually people just take it as sort of national vanity. I don’t want to minimize the role Russia played in preserving and modernizing the Cyrillic while we were… otherwise historically occupied (this line turned out kind of pun-y), but I’m quite tired for Bulgaria to be seen as an extension of Russia.

So for a very long time I wanted to make an infographics, which explains the origins of the Cyrillic, but kept postponing, forgetting and generally speaking not doing it. I remembered again few days ago and decided it is just the right time to do it. I had to cut off a lot of the ideas I had initially and to simplify quite a lot in order to make it in time for the 24th of May, but I am happy I made it happen! I might revisit it in the future, but for now here it is: a very brief history of the Cyrillic alphabet!

 

Origins of the Cyrilic Alphabet Infographics-01

 

10 things I’ve learned from sketching in pen

I often feel guilty when days go by without any sketching exercise. I know well that drawing is just like sports, it takes daily practice to keep your skills fresh and to improve, yet there are often periods when I go for weeks without practice and later when I get back to it I can feel that there has been a regression. So I’ve been asking myself what is keeping me from drawing every day. The answers that came up are probably a topic for another discussion, but the thing that stood out to me the most was: It takes a lot of time and the reason for that is usually my perfectionism. I want a great looking sketch and it rarely happens.

Lately I’ve been enjoying a style of clean pen sketches, sometimes with some watercolor splashed here and there, but the way I’d usually go about it would be: make several pencil sketches on top of each other, erase a lot, cover my table into eraser dust (or whatever the chunks of scrapped paper and eraser are called), mess up the paper completely, maybe start over, get discouraged, hopefully make a pencil sketch I can work with, ink it, erase the underlying pencil sketch, smear the pen, because I’d be too impatient, get annoyed, at times not even finish… I’d end up with a sketch that’s neither presentable enough to show (because that seems to be a goal way more often than it should), nor would provide me with the exercise I needed, because instead of focusing on learning and exploring, I’d be too concerned with perfect results that I can show off.

The solution I came up with was simple: draw directly in pen! No pencils allowed! I even decided that the new sketchbook I stared will be a “pen only” sketchbook. It had the perfect size to be carried around all the time, nice, smooth pen- friendly paper and it was pretty cheap, so no worries about “ruining it”. In addition to it all I have received some pretty good pens as a gift and was excited to give them a go. I’m not yet even half way through the sketchbook, due to my busy schedule, but I can feel the results already, so here are the 10 things I discovered from only sketching in pen.

1. Perfect is not better

Imperfection is beautiful! A clumsy trembling line, a messed up perspective, badly placed object- no big deal! They all have a certain hand- made, unique and personal charm to them. All those characteristics are lost in a “perfect” finished piece. It’s funny that when I look at other people’s work I feel most drawn to those spontaneous looking, loose, free sketches, with an unfinished, unrefined charm and yet I restrict myself from producing them by seeking perfection.

2. It’s faster

Well, that’s probably obvious. No constant erasing, no time wasted to get details “right”. If it doesn’t work, just start over! For the most part though I was happy even with the mistakes. In couple of minutes you end up with a page filled with bunch of small studies and you already get a sense of achievement, because you see a result. When you have the opportunity to erase, the results just keep disappearing and it’s increasingly frustrating.

 

3. It’s cleaner

The pages remain white and crisp, not torn up and crumpled by the crazy erasing. No pencil smears either and if the pen is good, no ink stains. Furthermore the sketch won’t fade over time and turn the whole page grey, which is the case with my older sketchbooks filled up entirely in pencil drawings.

4. I’m braver

Drawing only in pencil has been an incredibly liberating experience. When you start with the thought that there will be no going back on your drawing there’s also no reason to hold back. It will be what it will be! One might think that the opportunity to erase will give more room for experimentation, because of the safety net it provides, but no, it doesn’t. At least not for me. When using a pen I don’t need to fear that I’ll screw up; I pretty much assume I will, so there’s nothing to lose, just have to do it and see what that teaches me, what interesting new results will emerge.

5. My concentration is better

Drawing in pen seems to make me more alert. When you know there’s no erasing you are trying to “get it right” the first time, so your focus is improved, which is a great thing also outside the context of drawing. Sketching is not just an exercise for the hand, but also for the eye and improved observation skills lead to better drawing. When you know your work will be permanent it also makes you think harder and plan your moves better. You have to visualize a finished piece upfront, so you can position it better.

 

6. I am more present

When I later look at those pen sketches I can remember where I was, what I was thinking, what my mood was, what I was listening to… It’s the perfect tool to create memories, especially when traveling. There’s a constant talk lately about the benefits of journaling. I’d say, make it an art journaling! Quickly sketching your experiences will capture the moment much better than any photograph. In fact I believe that in this day and age taking pictures actually destroys memory. Photographing is so easy, accessible and cheap, that we overdo it. We put zero thought into snapping a picture; we take too many and never look at them again. It just loses all meaning, but that is a topic for another day….

7. My confidence improves

I’ve noticed that my pen only sketches are not half as bad as I first expected them to be. I’m actually quite pleased with them. Few years ago I’ve almost stopped drawing on paper. Everything I did was digital and I was terrified of all traditional media, as I was sure it will show how bad I really am at drawing. Without Ctrl+Z to save me I have no unlimited opportunities to go back and keep fixing a piece until it looks good. Removing the option to go back is actually not that scary at all, in fact it will show you there’s nothing to fear. Mistakes are not that bad, nor happen that often. A great way to gain some extra confidence is to deny you the chance to go back and second guess yourself. It’s after all just practice!

8. I discover interesting lines and expressions

These show up especially in moments of laziness when I just don’t feel like doing it “properly” at all. I’d scribble or hatch as my hand feels like and I can see all the ways my hand wants to move and make lines. I never seem to do that in pencil as it more often than not creates a mess. Sketching in pen gives me sort of a map of what my hand is “thinking about” while moving around or maybe it’s the way my eyes move while tracing the object. It reminds me of a dance on paper and it’s beautiful! This effect resembles a blind contour exercise, but with some more control. It’s very relaxing too.

9. I can follow my process (and progress)

When you are erasing the different stages of your drawing you lose some of the process. Sometimes you even regret later on not following an earlier direction. That’s especially useful when making studies for a bigger piece. I can also notice that a lot in my digital work. When I make a logo or illustration in Adobe Illustrator I often copy paste before I continue, so I have saved an earlier stage of my work and can go back to it at any time without losing any of the progress. I also like keeping the entire work in progress. Occasionally an early idea would be better than the ones that come later. At times though they won’t, or you’d just make mistakes, but erased mistakes are forgotten, gone forever and yet bound to come back again. Leaving your mistakes obvious makes it easy to remember them, go back and learn from them.

10. It is actually fun!

Erasing frustrates me quite a lot and yet when I have the chance to do it its hard to resist, but when sketching in pen that decision is taken away from me. I just have to lean back and enjoy the ride wherever it wants to take me!

 

I’m sure there’s a lot more to learn from sketching in pen. I’m just starting now, but I’m sure I’ll have more to add to the list in the future. Have you tried pen only sketching? Did you enjoy and what did you learn? I’d love to hear more opinions, so please share in the comments!

10 things you hear when perusing a creative career

Most of us start out as creative individuals- we draw, we sing, we dance, we “bake” mud cakes, we play games and make things up and it is all perfectly fine. In fact we are encouraged to do so. No one ever tells us that there’s something wrong with play and creativity, which gives us the idea that it is actually a viable occupation. The more you grow up though, the more things change. Suddenly there are rules, restrictions, and silent classrooms in school, where you don’t get to make things up anymore. And when you do nobody takes that seriously anymore. You need to follow structures, remember facts and do what is expected of you. The more grown up you are the more creativity and otherness seem to become a handicap, something ridiculous, that sane people keep away from. So when you show an interest in creativity as a career you are met with raised eyebrows and discouraging remarks disguised as genuine concern. Splashing watercolors around and sewing clothes for the dolls was cool when you were 5, now it just means you’re a loser and will spend your life in a cardboard box!

Recently someone commented (once) again on my choice to go after a creative career vs. the stable safe job I had at a hotel before. It was quite annoying for a random stranger to judge my life decisions and it reminded me of all the different remarks I’ve heard over the years and I’m sure I’ll keep hearing. So I’ve decided to make fun of them instead of letting myself be irritated. The result was this little collection:

 

“Are you sure it’s not just a phase?”

Uhmm let me think… I’ve been drawing, DIY-ing and decorating since I remember, but yeah it probably is just a phase. A lifelong phase.

 

“Are you sure it’s not more of a hobby?”

Yes. I’m sure, because it used to be a hobby. But now it’s a job. Are you sure accounting is not just a hobby?

 

“There’s no money in that”

There is no money in anything. Whatever you do you might fail or succeed. Nothing is guaranteed.

 

“There are too many artists/ designers/ illustrators already”

There are also quite a lot of doctors, lawyers, engineers, etc. What’s your point?

 

“Did you choose it because it’s easy?”

Yes. I chose it because it is easy. The self doubt, the never resting voice of the inner critique, the uncertainty, the constant reminding from others that what I do is silly, the rejection, the lack of appreciation… It is all really easy!

 

“Does anyone actually need this?”

I hear cavemen painted images on the walls of their homes, created music, made decorations to wear, they told stories… At the same time they lived happily for thousands of years with no banking, laws or governments.

 

“So you just sit down and doodle all day”

Of course not. I sit down all day browsing the internet. Isn’t that what everyone is doing these days?

 

“Aren’t you too old for this?”

I am old enough to have tried this and that and to know what I am good at and what makes me feel good.

 

“That’s not a real job”

Where can I find that list of “real jobs”, so I can pick one?

 

“It’s so cool you are following your dreams, but…”

There is no “but”. Either give me your support or don’t.

 

Have you chosen creative professional path as well? Please share what it is and how people react to it? Are they being supportive or judgmental?

What is “Forindet”?

Every time I hand my business card to someone, or tell someone my e-mail or website address, they ask me what “Forindet” is. Since I live abroad and have an unconventional name nobody heard of before, the question sometimes is “what does Forindet mean”, as people assume it is a word in my native language. So I’ve decided to answer this question early on here on the blog and reveal the whole story behind “Forindet”.

It all started back in high school. I’ve always enjoyed writing and telling stories, and there was a special collection of stories I used to write in collaboration with a friend. We called them “diaries” as they were written in a diary form. They were usually supposed to be the diaries of famous historical figures and followed their everyday life and described random imaginary events that supposedly led to big breakthroughs, discoveries or works of art they’ve produced. It was all made for fun and the stories were all rather silly and ridiculous and we laughed quite a lot while creating them. The first ever diary we wrote (or what I remember to be the first) was of a very important literary figure in Bulgarian history, who’s work kickstarted the Bulgarian renaissance. Later those diaries spread over to made up characters, mocking different literary genres and cliché movie plots, the most notable example being our masterpiece the sci-fi diary of captain Skruuber.

Ok so what does all of this have to do with Forindet? Well one day we started a diary, inspired by fantasy stories and the legends of King Arthur, the Knights of the Round Table and all that good stuff. The diary belonged to one of those knights, but it was in fact kept by his squire, who was describing all the awesome heroic deeds of his master (which were neither awesome, nor heroic). In this story Forindet was a very minor character that was mentioned as a part of some other knight’s backstory. I remember laughing quite a lot while writing it, so maybe that’s why the name stuck with me later.

Forindet was a fearsome sorceress, surrounded by mystery. Everyone were terrified of her and thousand worriers tried to fight her only to come back home crying like little girls, if I remember correctly. In fact the reader was never told of anything she actually did to back up her reputation. As for the name itself and what it means, it is just a random made up name. I’ve always enjoyed making up words and names for my characters, but I think her name derived from the word “foreign”, maybe because the character was somewhat alien and strange to the people in her universe. That actually makes it relatable for me as well.

 

Forindet the sorceress

So how did Forindet become my online pseudonym? Again it was all pretty random. At that time I never used my real name on line, it wasn’t the standard back then and after some experience with a creepy online stalker I had even less intention to do so. In fact in those days I used different name for each and every account I’ve created, so no connections can be made. I think I first used Forindet as a user name for my Deviant Art account. At the time I didn’t even mean to post anything as I was quite nervous and insecure about showing my creations to other people. I made the account, because my cousin asked me to vote for her in a competition on dA, so I registered with the first name that came to mind, voted for her and forgot all about it. It wasn’t until much later that I started actually uploading stuff to my dA profile.

As I became more serious about my illustration and design aspirations and starting to create an online presence on different platforms I started using Forindet more and more often as my user name. There are many reasons for that. For one I saw my starting to upload illustrations to DeviantArt as the start of my visual arts career and “Forindet” was a symbol for a new beginning. Over time I started considering using my own name or creating an online name that made more sense and actually meant something not just for me, but also for others. I’ve experimented with many different names and ideas, but none really stuck with me and gave me the meaning I was looking for. My own name is long and as I live abroad often makes as much sense for people as Forindet does, it was also quite often taken and I wasn’t willing to add numbers and what not to it to be able to use it as a user name. So for all its flaws (weird, unheard of, meaningless, unrelated to my name) Forindet had also many advantages- short, always available, relatively easy to remember (I was told so) and connected to my journey of becoming a designer.

I still wonder every now and then whether it is a smart choice to use a random name such as Forindet for self branding purposes. I even postponed redesigning my website for way too long, because I wasn’t sure I should stick with the domain, but in the end I kept coming back to it. I didn’t feel “at home” with other domain names I thought of and many of them were unavailable anyway.

I suppose Forindet is here to stay for the time being and I’ll probably have to explain again and again what it means. I rarely go for the long version of the story as I just did, but at least it is now out there.

 

Thank you for sticking with me through the whole story! Do you think an unconventional brand name is a good idea or a disadvantage? I’d love to read your thoughts below. What do you call yourself online and why?

Let’s start a blog!

Hello World!

Until few months back this used to be my portfolio website. I visited it maybe once a year to see if it was still there and basically never did anything with it, barely even updated it. So it was pure waste of online space and I was never too surprised it barely had any visitors. Keeping a site like that felt wrong. This realization came at a time when I’ve been occasionally reading some interesting and inspiring blogs. I found myself “blogging in my head” while I was doing stuff and it seemed like it would be a fun thing to do for real. That’s when I decided to convert my portfolio website into a blog!

Even though a decision has been made, I kept postponing starting the blog, most of all, because it was scary (and still is). I wasn’t sure I have something interesting to share, I wasn’t sure I can keep up and be consistent with it, I wasn’t too comfortable with having my thoughts online… and it saddens me to admit that I have grown out of the habit of writing. While these factors made me keep postponing the idea, the internal “blogging” monologue kept going on, so I’ve decided to do it anyway and see “where it goes”.

For my first post I wanted to write a nice goal oriented, focused and clear article that lets you know all the amazing benefits of following this blog in the future, all the valuable content it will provide you with, all the things it will teach you… The truth is I can’t and if I keep trying to do that I’ll probably never even get to start and publish a single post. It seems to me that striving to capture the future content of a blog in the first post is like asking a one year old what his or her career is going to look like in 30 years. There are plenty of 30 year old people who aren’t even sure! After all everything we do is a work in progress and that should be fine! In fact staying the same should be the problem, not changing. What I am trying to say is that I can’t give you a clear outline of what this blog is going to be or become, but I expect there will be a lot of design and illustration, work in progress, walkthroughs and case studies and general thoughts on creativity and living the dream that lifestyle.

Hope you’ll join me on that journey!

Let’s have fun 😉