Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Inspiration Roundup 2013

As the year draws to a close I'd like to share with you a collection of images that I've been saving to put on the blog. They all spoke to me in various ways, bringing me up when I was down, motivating me when I was running low on fuel, and reminding me that many others have gone through a similar journey as mine.

Later this month, I'll post my final batch of daily sketches (which you can keep up with in real time on my instagram) and an update on some exciting plans for the near future...

© Gina Florio 2013

Friday, November 8, 2013

"How To Do What You Love," by Paul Graham

Today on Gina Draws: more inspirational things on the internet!

If you're feeling directionless in life, or down about your skills, or you're just plain exhausted from the struggle, please take ten minutes and read this article (it looks longer than it is). "How To Do What You Love" by Paul Graham

It is the kind of article that constantly had me saying "YES!!" Below are a few gems.

"If you take a boring job to give your family a high standard of living, as so many people do, you risk infecting your kids with the idea that work is boring. Maybe it would be better for kids in this one case if parents were not so unselfish."

"The rule about doing what you love assumes a certain length of time. It doesn't mean, do what will make you happiest this second, but what will make you happiest over some longer period, like a week or a month. Unproductive pleasures pall eventually. After a while you get tired of lying on the beach. If you want to stay happy, you have to do something."

"Just do what you like, and let prestige take care of itself."

"'Always produce" is also a heuristic for finding the work you love. If you subject yourself to that constraint, it will automatically push you away from things you think you're supposed to work on, toward things you actually like. "Always produce" will discover your life's work the way water, with the aid of gravity, finds the hole in your roof."

"Figuring out what you like to work on doesn't mean you get to work on it. That's a separate question. And if you're ambitious you have to keep them separate: you have to make a conscious effort to keep your ideas about what you want from being contaminated by what seems possible. It's painful to keep them apart, because it's painful to observe the gap between them. So most people pre-emptively lower their expectations."

"Constraints give your life shape. Remove them and most people have no idea what to do: look at what happens to those who win lotteries or inherit money. Much as everyone thinks they want financial security, the happiest people are not those who have it, but those who like what they do."

"Whichever route you take, expect a struggle... But if you have the destination in sight you'll be more likely to arrive at it."

© Gina Florio 2013

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Don't Give Up!!

You too can have the persistence, willpower, and determination of this mouse, in what may be the cutest / most inspiring video I've seen all year.

My mantra lately, for art AND for life:

Slow down.
Stay positive.

© Gina Florio 2013

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Artist Discovery: Chris Oatley

I am somewhat obsessive about learning and reading about the world of concept art. We're lucky to live in this digital age where we have access to incredible tutorials, anecdotal blog posts, concept art projects, tips, and more on the web. It's an age of sharing and cooperating and learning together across continents. I often discover new artists just by following artists that I already know and love, who talk to or post links to the artists that THEY love. Today I discovered Chris Oatley, who has recorded several podcasts with one of my favorite artists, Noah Bradley.

On top of these two occasions of recording together, Chris's regularly solo 'Artcast' and blog is filled with a ton of information, everything from his daily routine to avoiding artistic burnout to health insurance for artists... AND free tutorials... AND he runs an online digital painting class. I'm incredbly thankful to people like Chris and Noah, who spend their very valuable time passing down information, free of charge, to aspiring artists like myself.

© Gina Florio 2013

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Tim Minchin's Commencement Speech

Hellooo, yes, I'm alive!

It has now been two weeks since our return from Europe, which in a way seems like yesterday and also seems like a long time ago. I am now engaged to David, which is strange to say, but not to feel. I'm just delighted to be engaged, and despite how amazing the trip was, I'm also very happy to be home.

Unfortunately I didn't do too much drawing on the trip itself. Even though we had 2 1/2 weeks, we only had 4 or 5 days in each country/city, so we kept ourselves to a very tight schedule. I probably should have pressed for more sketch time, but it was hard to strike the balance between sightseeing, family visiting (we had an assortment of loved ones traveling with us at certain points), and personal time. During the trip, I also had my very first day of NOT doing a 'daily sketch' all year :( During one of the final days of the trip, in Munich, I had the double-header of getting sick and also visiting the Dachau concentration camp memorial. We came back to our hotel in the afternoon, completely mentally and emotionally exhausted from seeing the memorial, as well as physically exhausted / sick, in my case, and napped until dinnertime... and then after dinner I fell right back asleep. I didn't realize until the morning that I hadn't even done my exercises the previous day.

I'm disappointed in myself for missing a day, but on the other hand, I'm in a place where I'm starting to rethink my attitude about art and drawing. I have pretty high goals and aspirations for developing this skill, including potentially trying to get a career in it, and that's fine, it's good to have lofty goals. But I've also realized that having said goals drive me to be mentally unhealthy about it sometimes. I put a lot of pressure and guilt on myself about keeping up with it. Which is also good... to a point. But ultimately I'm starting to try to release myself from feeling too much pressure and guilt. The act of making art should come from loving to make art, not feeling like you have to make art or else the day's been a waste. Your time has never been a waste unless you've spent it in a way that's completely meaningless to you. I would say a day filled with a visit to an extremely important war memorial that made me think deeply about the meaning (and possible lack thereof) behind humanity's failures, resting my tired body, and having dinner with my fiancé is not a wasted day. Art cannot be the sole focus of my life - life has to be the sole focus of my life, otherwise I will have nothing to make art about.

Speaking of the meaning of life and stuff, I was very inspired by this much-passed-around commencement speech by Tim Michin, which seems to speak a lot to this attitude.

*Note - his speech ends roughly around 12:00.

At the end of the day, that's what art is for me - something to fill my time with, to keep my brain challenged and learning, something to focus on and be passionate about while I figure out my way through this strange thing called life. I don't know exactly where I'm going, but I have a couple ideas, and I think they'll put me in the right place, even if it's not my current ultimate destination.

© Gina Florio 2013

Monday, September 9, 2013

San Diego Comic-Con 2013 Recap

Jack, Dave and myself arriving on the train, Fri July 19

Disclaimer: the super nice, non-instagram-sized pictures in this post were all taken by my boyfriend, Dave. You should go check out his Flickr!

This review is coming about five and a half weeks' behind everyone else's SDCC recaps, because I'm slow and bad at life. I also don't have many pictures to illustrate my favorite memories, because I am terrible at asking people I admire for a picture, and awkward in front of a camera to boot. But in a nutshell, and in no particular order, these are my favorite memories from my very first San Diego Comic-Con:

1. A FANTASTIC, intimate panel for the upcoming documentary on the great movie poster artist Drew Struzan.
     1a. Meeting and getting to shake the hand of the man himself.
     1b. Meeting and getting to shake the hand of Dean DeBlois, the director and genius behind the How To Train Your
     Dragon trilogy, and getting to tell him how much the movie means to me, during which I'm sure I sounded supremely
     1c. Scoring an EXCLUSIVE HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON 2 poster by Drew (one of only 2000), which has quickly
     become perhaps my most prized possession.
     1d. Getting said poster signed by Drew, who is without a doubt one of the kindest, most humble men I've ever met.
     1e. The movie is called Drew: The Man Behind the Poster, and you should absolutely check it out. A favorite quote
     about Drew: "His art creates a feeling of nostalgia for something you've never seen before."

Bonus picture: HTTYD director Dean DeBlois holding aforementioned poster. It's beautiful.

2. Meeting an artist I've admired for a long time - Aaron Diaz, who writes and illustrates the famous webcomic Dresden Codak. I happened to catch him at a kind of lull at the Topatoco booth, and we ended up having a fairly extended conversation, where he mostly talked my ear off about Metropolis... which is pretty much exactly what I would expect from the creator of Dresden Codak. In any case I was mostly just relieved it was him talking MY ear off and not me being worried about the reverse, as I usually am in these situations.

One of my favorite pieces of Dresden Codak art.

3. Simply standing at the Schoolism booth for a couple of hours on Saturday afternoon (looking exceptionally mature in my Pokémon costume) and getting treated to not one, but TWO, awesome, FREE demos by artists I love, the amazing character designer Stephen Silver and the absolutely legendary Nathan Fowkes. No one else watching was speaking up too much so I just peppered them with as many questions as I could think of as I watched them make beautiful art. Oh look, I actually have a picture of this one.

He signed my sketchbook too despite me looking like a complete weirdo. Success!

4. Meeting Brett Bean, a smaller, more local artist, but one of my absolute favorites! As far as I am concerned, Brett is the master of the very technical, specialized technique that I call 'Fun Shapes™' (a few examples below). I almost worked with him and his wife Julie (an equally amazing jewelry designer) editing a video for his latest Kickstarter project, but unfortunately their deadline was pushed up at the last minute and I was unable to help on such short notice. Even so, they were perhaps the nicest human beings I've ever met, and as a bonus I was able to pick up a cool steampunky compact mirror by Julie!


5. Dressing in my Pokémon costume! This was my first time wearing a costume to a convention and thus joining the worldwide phenomenon known as cosplay. It wasn't a terribly difficult costume - I already had the shorts, T-shirt and socks, so I got a wig, bought and modified the jacket (I'll wear it again), bought the hat from etsy (this one, in fact - it's great quality), bought green fingerless gloves, and got some cheap black Vans knockoffs from Target and painted them (unfortunately you can't see the shoes in this picture).

By far the most time-consuming part of the costume was making the pokéballs and belt. Usually when people make pokéballs they make them out of styrofoam, but I really wanted them to look like super shiny, manufactured, hard plastic like they do in the show. I ended up buying those clear decorate-it-yourself Christmas ornaments, painting the insides to maintain evenness on the outside, and adding a black rim and white button on the outside like I saw in this video. Then I secured them to the belt by using snaps (in the front, so I could take them on and off and pose with them) and by sewing the ornament-tail to the belt itself (in the back).

It's not an elaborate costume, so I didn't really expect anybody to take notice, but actually a fair amount of people took pictures of me! By far my favorite was a little kid who was ALSO dressed as Ash Ketchum (or rather, Ash's his current outfit on the show, mine is the 'retro' version now I guess. In related news, the Pokémon show is STILL GOING, you guys). He was so curious about how I made my pokéballs, and was very intent on showing me the little stuffed pokémon he was carrying around.

It's not drawing or painting, but cosplay is definitely a very fulfilling creative craft! It definitely felt good to get away from my desk and work with my hands using physical materials. If I wasn't concentrating so hard on drawing, I'd be diving headfirst into more cosplay projects. It was a lot of fun.

My dear friend Thadd is on the left, cosplaying Spock from Star Trek IV.

6. Meeting the cast of Heroes of Cosplay! As an editor, this is something I don't get to do a lot. The producers prefer to keep us in dark windowless little rooms and never let us out. But since almost all of the cast had booths or some type of business at the con, I sought them out and saw their awesome costumes in person. Unfortunately I don't have pictures with Holly and Jessica, who I actually went out to breakfast with and had a great time. But here are some pictures with Yaya Han (cosplaying the Invisible Woman), Victoria Schmidt, and Riki LeCotey (as Yeoman Janice Rand and ... someone else from Star Trek, respectively). They are all wonderful and incredibly talented people!

7. Last but not least, check out these awesome photos of other cosplayers, all taken by Dave.

This guy was huuuuuuge. His costume basically looked professional.

Pick up that can, citizen!

Leeloo multipass.

SDCC, you were crazy, exhausting, and fun. I'll be back next year.

© Gina Florio 2013

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Daily Sketches Weeks 28-35

Really quick post since I am currently in New Jersey on phase one of my epic 2013 trip!

July 6 - unfinished painting from week 6 of class, on the CalTech campus

July 9

July 11 - sketches from The Drawing Club

July 11 - more

July 12 - coffeeshop sketches

July 13 - unfinished painting from week 7 of class

July 21 - Thadd and Jack passed out on the train back from Comic-Con

July 22 - very frustrated this night.

July 23 - this is an example of what I do on the days where I don't document what I drew. Mostly viscom exercises and head/form practices. Boring!

July 24 - more viscom exercises and a concept sketch for a painting I want to try...

July 27 - my favorite painting from class, week 8, at El Matador State Beach

July 31 - eyes

Aug 3 - unfinished painting from week 9 of class, Eaton Canyon

Aug 10 - unfinished painting from the last week of class, at the Getty

Aug 11 - getting ready for the trip by sketching some PARIS!!

Aug 14 - a house in Amsterdam, from a photo by my cousin Kelly

Aug 15 - completed house

Aug 21 - this took a while! watercolor of some houses in Florence, also from a Kelly photo

Aug 23 - just doodling

Aug 25 - starting a picture of Neuschwanstein, which we will be visiting at the end of September

Aug 28 - Neuschwanstein almost finished... when I dropped a big drop of ink right in the middle of the castle. Oh well..

**it seems like some of these are really pixellated for some reason, so I'll try to fix that when I get home...

Okay! That's it from me for a little while! I've got a Comic-Con recap post scheduled to go up while I'm gone, but other than that, I won't post here until after we get back, at the end of September. Hopefully I'll have lots of awesome Europe-y sketches and paintings for you!

Until then, keep calm, carry on, and MAKE ART.

© Gina Florio 2013