Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Where the Hell did 2018 go?

Something clicked in my head today. It told me to check my blogs last post and holy shit it's now been a year and a half since I have updated this thing. It seems every time I say I am going to be more diligent with posting on this I just get worse about it. I think it's partly a cliché to keep mentioning how awful I am at updating my blog so at this point I think I am just going to accept that this blog will just be updated whenever and however infrequently I choose to do so. Not that there was any pressure to keep up, just my own guilt.

As you can imagine a lot has happened with in the year and a half of my last post. In fact I have missed updating by two inktobers this time around. So expect a bunch of those pictures. Ironically after my first and only mention of my job at Psyop, I now am no longer there. For me it was two years of a great time. For my blog, it was one happy mentioning of it. I guess that’s partly why I still keep this blog. How my own life goes in my head versus what I end up keeping track of on the internet. From one post to the next. Its entertaining. I should mention though, that my foray into the freelancing world has been pretty cool. Occasionally I will go back and freelance at Psyop and I have also picked up some Production Assistant work at another company originally called Smoke & Mirrors, they have changed their name to Taylor James. Different name but still a great company with a lot of great people.

So what the fuck have I been up to then? Well, as I said I have been diligent with Inktober. Those are always a great exercise in creativity and inking. I also end up getting some really good pieces to color and finalize in photoshop. Last post I mentioned how I was going to be able to pitch a horror design character for my job. It did not go that well but was very much a learning experience. The good news however was that, it gave me the push I needed to go ahead and create a comic book based on this monster character on my own. Because even though the people I was pitching to did not really like my idea, I still actually think it's pretty good. As of now a friend of mine is helping me write a script. I figure if I can get a solid pilot screenplay and make a comic book out of that, then that would be pretty cool and easier to pitch or visualize in the end.

I’m calling it the Ectogeist and it’s a revisit of the classic blob monster archetype. When it was originally asked of us to create a character, the guidelines that were given was that they wanted a creature or monster that was or could be consider “classic”. Something that would be able to be used either episodically or in sequels. Something that people would want to get tattooed on them. Examples given were things like Saw, Chuckie, Freddy Krueger, Jason, etc. To me, when I hear the words “classic monster” I also think of things like Frankenstein’s Monster, Vampires, Werewolves, and Zombies. And when I thought about it, I realized that a Blob monster is also a classic monster, one that has not really been done as much as the others in terms of remakes. As for getting a tattoo of a blob monster, I feel like nowadays, things that look melted or dripping is kinda trendy and I really do feel like you can create a lot of stylistic imagery around a thing that doesn’t have a set form. I also want to do the comic in sort of a Tales from the Crypt or Creepy Magazine sort of way. Kinda go for a vintage old school look. Anyway, I don’t want to go too much more into detail but I’ll post some pictures below. It’s funny, I never considered myself a huge fan of horror, but then part of me thinks that’s why this will be good. My dad is a big horror fan so maybe it's in my blood but I always saw myself outside of the genre and I think that will help me when creating it.

Colored Inktobers:

The Ectogeist:

Other projects I have been working on. I have been painting a bit more. I am working a series called “The Feeling(s) of Sun.” It’s based on one of my earlier pieces that went over well with many different people. The idea that on a nice crisp day when you close your eyes and put your face to the sun and just get that wonderful feeling of contentment. But its also a play on the word feeling, because I paint these pictures with a very heavy amount of paint. The texture is also something that one can feel when they actually touch the painting. And finally all of the suns I have been painting have faces on them. So you are literally seeing the “feelings” of the sun itself. It’s a cute little project but seems to sell well when I do art shows.

Speaking of which, I was lucky enough to be asked to display and sell my art at wonderful Music and Art showcase called “Sceneless Scene Showcase” run by a friend of mine Maxwell Peters and his Planet of SoundPromotions. It’s a great time and a wonderful mixture of musicians and artists coming together for the sake of Art. So many awesomely talented people it really is a great time and I was honored to be invited to three of these events.

In mid 2018 I was also on Loosecannon Comics podcast. Which was extremely fun. Those guys are great, funny, and you can check out there podcast here.

In the realm of music, I have just been working on a bunch of songs acoustically. Working on some home recordings and practicing a set list for live performances.

The other thing I started is a twitch channel. I figured being the gamer that I am, it would be smart of me to record my gaming and at least attempt to monetize it. The other cool thing about this is I also figured I can live stream my digitally painting as well. Its still early in the making and I have to set up some other things but here is my twitch link: https://www.twitch.tv/remy_lexington

And so that is where I am at now. Im sure I will post again in about another year. 

Until then, keep on keeping on.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Blog Post 2017 - We'll All Float On Alright

Its 2:30am and I am about to go to sleep, but I have to at least get this out before I do. I wanted to write this much sooner, however I kept putting it off. It has been over a year now since I last posted and a lot of things have changed. Sometimes starting something is the most difficult part. If you knew how many times I have told myself I was going to come home from work and write this, well maybe you can relate.

Tomorrow, or rather later today marks a year since I started a new job…

And that’s as far as I got. It would be another month+ before I actually finished this post below:

I was trying to be diligent. I wanted to write this blog on or near April 11th. Which was the one-year anniversary of when I started my new and current job. It’s also close to my birthday (Apr. 14th ) and the same month I started this blog (Apr. 20th ) six years ago. The fact that it was 4:20 isn’t lost on my either. Though, I don’t think I did that on purpose. The last time I updated this blog was April 1st. Which is now over a year ago. It seems for the most part a lot goes down in April. Perhaps there is a correlation? Or not because now its June. Funny how so much can happen in a single year, yet they always go by so fast.

I can say that a lot has happened since my last time posting. That’s the trouble with blogs, the longer you wait to update the more you have to update and then the more time you need to set aside and write. But this is good. Even, if the only reason I am doing this now is because the Overwatch servers are down.

So yea, I have a new job. I work now at a company called Psyop as a DMG Operator/Flame Assistant. Psyop is a really awesome VFX company that makes some really awesome commercials. I definitely think you should check out their site. A whole bunch of super talented people work there. My job there is to handle data on our servers. Anything from raw camera footage to 3D assets. We also handle slating and delivering the final masters to broadcast stations. I have also done conforming in Flame and now I am learning how to composite in Nuke. Overall it’s a really cool bridge between the technical side of VFX and the production side. It’s really strange thoroughly enjoying your job and actually liking what they/you make. I never had that before and it took a while to get used to.

Unfortunately, with this job I have become much busier and many of my other projects have now kinda been put on hold. This blog post, I am hoping, is the “creative output clog” that will get me going again. Not that I do not feel creative, its just that my productivity has come to almost a hault. I wasn’t able to commit an adequate amount of time to Expandingsound.com. Though it is doing well. The Remy Lexington band has also split. No hard feelings between any of us in fact I still partially pay for the practice space (my amp is still there) just in case I want to rock out at some point. I have still been playing guitar. I have a bunch of songs now that I just practice acoustically. I’m hoping to eventually do some open mics out here in queens and perhaps a few local shows again.

As for my art, I am still drawing here and there. Inktober was pretty awesome this past year. Psyop held an Inktober contest amongst their artists and although I did not win the contest, they were nice enough to feature me in one of their “Inktober Artists Spotlight” blog post. They also continued and did another contest called “Artvember” which had a prompt list as well however you could use any medium you wanted to. I chose to work in Adobe Illustrator which proved to take too long to keep up each day for a whole month. I did get some cool pieces out of it. There's more if you check out the links.

I mentioned a very fresh project last post about doing paint nights however those were unfortunately short lived. They were so much fun and I wish I could of done those more. It really is such a great idea.

Last time I posted I was doing some really cool flyers for various music shows. Those also have not really been happening as well as a slow down of my attendance at shows in general.

Logo design has stopped as well although occasionally I will still get a request for something.

I was also beginning to work on some ideas for comics. That has stopped as of now but it hasn’t been forgotten and its probably one of the things I want to get back to sooner than later.

One thing that is pretty recent and that I am excited about is a character design for a horror short that I will get to pitch at my job. I don’t really want to get into details just yet but I am kinda excited about it.

I have to remind myself sometimes that things go in cycles, like my creative output. I find myself sometimes worrying if I’ll start making things again. But things start up again. They always do. This isn’t the first time that my creative output slowed down. Nor it will it probably be the last.

The way I see it at this point is that for a long time I was on an island trying to build a raft of sorts to get off of the island. I kept putting pieces together and making things but everytime I set out into the water the waves brought me back to the island. Until a tidal wave came and washed me right out to sea. For a while I had to just swim. Just tread water. Then eventually I came upon a raft. This raft even has oars for me to paddle so that now I can set off and find an even bigger ship. But before I do that, I just want to float for a bit. And while sometimes I worry about paddling, I remind myself that there is nothing wrong with floating around for a little while before I head out in a proper direction.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Things I have been doing in 2016 -New Ventures and Projects

I figured I would split up my 2016 blog post into two separate entries. It just seemed to make more sense to me. Last post was about trying to be a bit more real with any one that ends up reading this blog. I think that's about 10-15 people. At least that's what my blog stats tell me.

As I said before I have indeed been keeping busy. The first project that I have been working on since October is Expandingsound.com. I mentioned this back in November and I am happy to say that it is coming along rather nicely. The website is up and running and I encourage anyone to go and check it out. Especially if you are into creating music. It has been a great learning experience for me using wordpress to create the site. I have used wordpress before to create my own website, but I have kept that much more simple using their own hosting and templates. With Expanding Sound we have purchased our own hosting, as well as a premium template. I now have many more options and tools available. Expanding Sound also has a shop, so I am becoming familiar with using certain plugins such as Woocommerce. The plan now for the site is to just continually add more and more content. So far I think our best performing video has around 5000 views. Not too shabby for a site that has only been around for 5 months.

The other project is much newer actually and is just starting out.  Recently my friend Stephanie (who is a talented painter) and her brother Joe reached out to me asking if I would like to help them with doing some "Paint Nights". If you are not familiar with what a "Paint Night" is, it's when you get a group of people together and show them all how to paint a picture. Usually there is also food and drink involved. If you have ever drank wine and painted while listening to music, you know how much fun this can be. Stephanie's Aunt was nice enough to host the party. It was actually on a Sunday and we dubbed it "Paint Brunch". With Stephanie taking the lead, myself and Joe assisting where need be, I would have to say that our first "Paint Brunch" was a success.

If you have been following me on Facebook or on Instagram I posted back in February about how I had a little art exhibit showcased at the Astoria Bank in Babylon for the whole month of February. Nothing too grand, but it was nice to see all of my artwork displayed like it was. Also it was the first time I had all of my monsters from previous "Big Snow Monster Jammin' Parties" displayed together. It was sort of a test to see if I could even display them in the setting that they were. Being that they are quite large and do not really have a conventional way to hang them. But as you can see from the picture below everything worked out nicely.
In other artistic endeavors I have been continuing making flyers for the wonderful Satellite Tribe music collective run by the awesome Pete Demaio. Wonderful group to be drawing for and I am truly grateful that they have given me the opportunity to create for them. I pretty much get the freedom to draw whatever I want and it has allowed me to really hone my skills with not just illustrating and digitally coloring, but I have been drawing my own fonts trying to step up my graphic design game as well. Below are some more of the flyers that I have been creating.

Pete is a fantastic musician who is in multiple bands and has also asked me to draw posters and logos for a few of his bands. The poster I did was for his band The Phantom and the Fox. A great band full of great people. I definitely suggest that you check them out.

The logos I did for Pete were for his band Golden Wave, which is also filled with awesome folks who output killer sounds. Again I was given pretty much free creative reign on the project. The only request I was given was to make it look a bit 90's. The image I was making was to be for a T-shirt. I had great time with it. My first thought when coming up with an idea for a design was of course the wave. But a typical wave is too obvious and is overdone anyways. I usually start most logo design work by just drawing the name. As I drew the name I thought of how I could incorporate a wave within the band name. Right off the bat, the "G" in Golden gave it away. I was able to create somewhat of a spiral like wave within the "G". Which then made me realize that a wave into a spiral is very much like something else that is called "Golden". The Golden Ratio.
So this was the first concept I came up with. Minus all of the color. It was just a straight pencil line drawing. Keeping in mind both spirals and waves, I thought I did a pretty good job of nailing an idea that really encapsulated what I was going for. Though it was a bit scarce in terms of color and depth. I also like to come up with simplistic symbols to represent brands. I think it's cool if something can be recognized by just a picture and not having it actually say what it is. Which is why I also added an actual golden spiral wave to drive home the point. Which in other iterations can work as a standalone graphic. 
Of course, even if I thought I nailed it on the first try I wanted to go further. Taking the idea and running with the whole spiral wave type look. I decided to beef up the text. Play around with it a bit more. Not have it so straight. So the second thing I came up with was this.  
This design was not so much about the spiral, as it was about something that could resemble a rolling wave. I also tried to make the word "Wave" be a bit more wavy. I enjoyed this one and thought it also had potential. And for some reason I really liked the placement of the "O" and how it rested on the "G". I also noticed that the "N" kind of resembled the head of a chameleon along with the tail being the the "G".  
Could it be done? Could I actually fit all of Golden Wave into the form of a Chameleon. I had to try. The answer was yes! And maybe you might say, "WTF does a Chameleon have to do with a Golden Wave?" The answer is nothing, but chameleons are fucking cool. And that's part of the point. I mean, I was able to keep the shape of the "spiral-esque" Tail. So it still keeps that in there. And Pete dug this one because it was more of an actual picture and not just text. In the end I gave Pete all three. I have to say I really liked the look of the chameleon too, but I still also loved the whole spiral, golden ratio, idea as well. My hope is that he can use the other Logo to perhaps reinforce the idea of a spiral being Golden Wave's symbol, maybe use it on facebook or on a sticker, and use the chameleon as the cool T-shirt graphic. I mean in the end that's his choice. And if you think about it, you can kinda make the connection. The golden ratio is hidden throughout nature. The chameleon's specialty is being hidden and the Golden Wave text is hidden on the chameleon. Or you could even say the golden ratio makes up things, and Golden Wave makes up this chameleon. How about it just looks cool?

Keeping with the theme of logos I have made a few more for another friend of mine. She is a sick DJ that goes by the name "That's So Raben". She was looking for something that was also reminiscent of the 90's, something that looked like the Beavis and Butthead logo. She is also big fan of Lisa Frank or she wanted something that looked like the "That's So Raven" logo. When she reached out to people on facebook, she needed something ASAP. I responded for the details. Now I really wanted to do something that looked like Lisa Frank's style and colors. But being that there was no Lisa Frank font that I could find, I would have had to draw the fonts which would have taken more time. I went with the "That's So Raven" look. She was extremely happy with it so I was pumped too. 

A few months went by and I wanted to see if I could indeed create a logo based off of Lisa Frank. I thought of it as a challenge and  quite frankly logo design is another skill I want to improve as well as expand in my portfolio.  This was a bit tricky to get right. There is no actual Lisa Frank font, so all I had to go by was the original Lisa Frank logo and from that image try to extrapolate what other letters would look like. It wasn't particularly easy and at first I tried to draw it out first and then tried to outline it in illustrator but that didn't work out too well so instead I did what I like to call photoshop letter reconstructing. Where I cut apart existing letters and stick them back together to making other letters. Taking guesses where need be. For instance, the capital "T" is sort of like the capital "F", the lowercase "h" is like an "n", the lowercase "b" is sort of like the "a". I would say that the most difficult letters were the "S" and the "o". The "S" because there was no other letter like it, it was a capital letter which meant there was no connecting it to the other letters and it wasn't going to look like a cursive letter, and the "o" because it wasn't going to be connected to the "S" and it was at the end which in my opinion meant it had to have a tail come off of it. In the end though I think it came out fairly decent. 

Another job that I took on this year was from someone that was sent to me by a good friend of mine. Mr. Chris Outridge, who is the head over at CEO productions. A lovely woman by the name of Julianna Backer who is a real estate broker needed a floorplan of an apartment retouched and made presentable to potential homebuyers. It wasn't something that I normally do however I have had some experience with both mechanical drawings and Autodesk CAD. After talking with her via email it was discovered that the job would not be as complex as I first thought. A few hours later and she had her floorplan. As I said I do not normally work on such projects, but I figured it was good experience and a skill that might prove to be again useful.

On a more personal creative note, I have been dabbling in comics for about a hot minute. Just a few panels long but it's something that I definitely want to explore more of. I figured I would post a little blurb about it. Maybe this is all you will ever hear or see about it or maybe more will come. Time always tells. The first one is just poking fun at the absurdity of some zine comics and how a lot of them don't even really make sense. To me they seem to more rely on gimmicky stylization and trendy pop culture references and less on actual wit. The second one sort of continues this idea but more so in the popularity of taking well known cartoon icons and perverting them in some way. Either with gore, sex, or drugs and using the combination of nostalgia and shock value.

Again it seems to be less about witty commentary and more about gimmicks. In my opinion, it almost seems formulaic.  And while not all artists are purposely taking advantage of this I find this sort of substance shallow. Not saying that all zine comics fall into this problem. I just find that a lot of them get praise or are considered cool by people. To me, there seems to be something bothersome about when a simplistic trick fools mass audiences. Maybe it's just me being frustrated for a lack of recognition when the easy road most traveled gets more attention than the one that actually challenges people. In the end I try not to judge too much. After all art is subjective and everyone is entitled to do what makes them happy. For me these comics were a bit of an experiment, one that went rather well, so I definitely think I will be trying to come up with other silly strange comic ideas such as the ones you see here.

I would also like to note that after the small but positive feedback that I received from those two comics and with the decidedly large amount of fun I had making them, I tried creating a comic in the similar black and white zine style you see above, but instead of making it quirky, weird, and gross I tried creating a more traditionally styled hero comic with a bit more of a serious tone. I decided to use a character that I have had for quite some time. His name is Jenkoso. It takes place some time in the medieval ages. Jenkoso was a man who lost his wife and himself to a fire caused by evil pillagers. He becomes a ghost that is kept between planes of the physical and spiritual realm. He soon finds out that an ancient being is the reason for his existence in between these planes and now must do the bidding of this being who also has granted Jenkoso special abilities and powers.

 With this story I have been writing it all down first in a notebook. Creating a much more coherent story, then taking that story and illustrating it panel by panel. I figured that not only would this be a fun experiment but it would also sharpen my storytelling and storyboarding skills. So far these two pages are all I have but I truly hope to start making more in the future.

At this point you might be asking, "Damn Remy, I thought you play music too. What happened to that?" I still do play, the band has had two shows so far this year. I also know that I keep saying that a full length fully recorded album will be coming out soon. However as they say, "Man plans and god laughs." My wonderful buddy and bass player Brendan had to take leave, so there has been a bit of a reconfiguration of the band. My other awesome bud Marc, who has been filling in for Jeff on drums has offered to play bass now for the band, since Jeff is back in town. Marc actually is a guitar player first, bass player second, and drummer third. A really talented individual he is. But at this point the band is now kind of regrouping gathering up the songs we have and getting a setlist ready to play out.

In the meantime I have been working on some songs by myself again and playing them out at open mics. These will most likely be songs added to the band set list in the future. My plan for recording is to get as many songs down in some sort of demo version so that 1. I don't forget them and 2. It is easier for me and the other bandmates to stand back and listen to what we have then pick the best 10 or so for actual recording.

Okay so I think that about covers what I have been up to since the beginning of the new year. Pretty exciting if you ask me. I actually didn't realize there was so much to write about. It serves me right though. I should be keeping up on this blog more frequently. I know I keep saying that, maybe it's not too late to make that my new year's resolution?