Updated Site!

Since I’ve gone through the trouble of getting fancy Moo cards (on top of my business cards), I figured that I should actually take the time to update my site. Let’s face it, I just don’t blog much these days, and I rather focus on content creation vs. yammering to the void (that’s what Twitter is for, and 140 characters are more than necessary for the job.)

My site’s focus is more on illustration, and really is to focus me more on working towards my own goals. It’s easy for me to get distracted, and I’m hoping having a sense of purpose will help me get where I’d like to be.

I’m taking an extroversion break for awhile, as that between being bombarded with houseguests and mandatory merriment, plus a huge family gathering on the East Coast, I’m just about tapped out.

Also, if you’re needing illustration, let me know. I’m interested in taking on the challenge.

Mediocre Tie-dye Shirts for Planned Parenthood

Hi! I’ve made a few tie-dyes this past weekend, and I’d like to sell you one and give the profits to Planned Parenthood! The shirts in this batch are all Unisex Medium, and $27 shipping included. If this works out, subsequent batches will hopefully cost less in materials and shipping, and have more profits go to the charity. Just contact me if you want one, and we’ll work out the details.

Bad Art, or Why Did I Stop Trying?

butterfly fantasy
A bad recreation of a painting that I have a complicated relationship with.

I’ve been in a slow, painful decline of creative output. This is not entirely true, but it’s the story I tell myself. The truth is, that I still have sporadic creative output, but it’s shifted to more ephemeral experiences, such as cooking, baking, sewing (which never seems to be completed), and musing on these pursuits on the daily.

In preparation for my mom moving to Washington, I’ve had the opportunity to revisit my past, whether I’ve wanted to or not. Part of that includes remembering those things I used to do regularly. Draw, paint, write, play music. I’ve tried many instruments. I’ve belted out song with a guitar I mostly taught myself how to play. I used to play the piano, even, though not very well. My music reading is basic, at best, but I had aspirations. I have stacks and stacks of stories and poetry. Piles of paper and canvases, including those two years at a prestigious art school. I had friends back in Chicago who would creatively set fire beneath one another.

I lost that, and slowly resigned myself into being a former aspirational artist.

I even start blog posts that are unfinished. This one promises to be rambly, but I’ll publish it anyway.

*deep breath*

What was the big turning point? Where did I start to finally doubt that I couldn’t actually hack it and become the professional artist of my dreams?

It wasn’t when I left art school in 1998, which I often excused as a money-saving venture, but it really didn’t save me anything other than the complete decline of faith in myself.

It’s that fucking painting (see above). The real painting was part of my final for my Freshman 2D art class. It was to be my finest moment. I had decided that I wanted to finally do a large-scale emulation of the work that I’d been so excited about over the past 6 years – the art of great fantasy illustrators like Larry Elmore and other cover artists doing work for TSR. Though we were to base something off of sketches we did on a field trip to the Field Museum, I decided I’d use that as a thin pretext for a Celtic fantasy butterfly magical romp.

To be fair, what I turned in was unfinished. It lacked polish. It needed work. I was disappointed in the perspective and the depth of the piece. My classmates and teacher were unimpressed, and I took it home to my mom, thinking I’d finish it one day. Instead, I spent every visit taking it off the wall where she proudly hung it, and trying to hide it behind the couch. I told her I hated it. I told her to throw it away. Then she moved. Then she framed it. She FRAMED that piece of shit. Now she’s moving to Washington, and to my dismay, I gave her the OK to throw out so many other things, but I wanted to tell her, “PLEASE don’t bring that painting.”

Art school didn’t work for me on a few levels. One was the fact that I lacked internal discipline, and wasn’t prepared to develop it yet. Then there was the fact that I was in way over my head. I wasn’t mature enough to handle some of the work that needed to be done. I needed mentorship, but didn’t know how to get it. Then there’s the work I wanted to do. As much as I loved making abstract art, anyone can do that without art school. The work I revered were comics and illustration, but it was a challenged to do, and instead of trying over and over again to get it right, I gave up.

It’s 20 years since I started art school, I’ve got two kids, and I’m a bit terrified that I’ve given up all my opportunities. I’m having to restructure how I think about things, but after this long post, I think I’ll save that for another time.

Why is Cosplaying the 12th Doctor So Hard?

Douglas Herring ©2015
Douglas Herring ©2015

I have now cosplayed/crossplayed three times. The first time I did it, it was at Orycon 36 and I won 3rd place in the Masquerade. My wig was a bit horrible, so in retrospect I’m not sure why I won except maybe their standards just weren’t that high. I entered the Masquerade at Norwescon 38, and despite having a more appropriate wig, didn’t even rate (and felt a bit silly and put out about the whole thing.) I decided that Masquerades weren’t for me, so I set on developing a female version of the 12th Doctor, based maybe on Dame Judi Dench as M in James Bond.

I did my last cosplay of the 12th Doctor as a woman at Worldcon/Sasquan just this past week. I seem to go around unnoticed, and I think I was actually mistaken as the grandparent of my own children in the process. I guess I make a convincing old lady, even without the old-face make-up.

It occurred to me, though, that the 12th Doctor is lacking a quirky bit that makes him so lovable to cosplay. He doesn’t have a cape, a sprig of celery, clown colors, an obnoxiously long scarf, an out-of-time velvet jacket, a question mark umbrella, a fez, Converse shoes with more conservative businesswear. Instead, #12 is meticulously dressed, mostly on the edge of formal, with his quirk perhaps being more subtle, yet very fashionable. A Navy Crombie coat with red silk lining with Dr. Marten-style black Brogue shoes just looks great, but it’s far from quirky. Maybe the reason I love this Doctor (and he’s so disliked by others) is he’s SO GODDAMN SERIOUS.

I’m hoping that I’ll see more Twelve cosplay at future cons. I’m worried that I just can’t pull it off because maybe the old-face is poorly done or ridiculous looking, or I just look like a well-dressed grandparent. Twelve isn’t fun or pretty the way that Ten and Eleven are, and he’s not quirky in the lovable pixie-nerdboy way.

Just once I want to be cosplaying in the hall of a convention and someone say “Hey, Twelve, you’re awesome!” Anyone can put on a goddamn fez. Try stitching red lining into a jacket and making things look more tailored than you have the sewing skills to do.