Kid time is the BEST time for messes…
And drawing on yourself! Sadly, Myla’s school doesn’t allow for crazy hair color and excessive temporary tattoos (weird, huh?). So summertime was a GREAT time to do all that. And even best is when everyone else gets involved, too. At our house, family visits usually mean the markers come out at some point, and Myla offers everyone some “ink.”
I’ve always loved how well our whole family (on Matt’s side and on mine) have always been so cooperative about getting all markered up. This last visit, she got her cousin involved, and they even made a “menu” (unlike the old days, when she used to just draw whatever she wanted on you).
It always reminds me of how ages ago, Myla & I had tried printing some of our own designs on tattoo paper….
So recently, when a sister-run company called Inky & Bear asked me if I’d like to try out some of their beautifully hand-illustrated temporary tattoos, I said “HECK YEAH!” When our Inky & Bear tattoos came, we had a blast figuring out where to put them on. Myla chose a lovely little mermaid, and a sweet lil’ narwhal for her arms.
And, like with most things, Myla always has a great way to kick it up a notch. This time, by asking me to draw all sorts of sea creatures on her to go along with the nautical theme. I doodled them out in ballpoint and she even added a little creature on her own hand.
She added onto my already-existing real tattoos (and an Inky & Bear mermaid), with a little dancing Donkey doodle. (Do you know the story of Donkey?)
Angsty Disclaimer: Everytime I do a post about drawing on yourself, I get comments asking if I’m worried about the toxicity and danger of inks soaking into skin. My response to that is that if you’re worried about it, don’t do it. As for me, I’m not going to leave them on me or my daughter’s skin for very long, so it’s fine. Artist Jodi Steel draws amazing drawings on herself and her friends with Sharpie Markers, and washes it off with coconut oil (and then gets a lot of nasty comments by people telling her she’s poisoning her OWN skin). It’s temporary. It washes off. And ultimately, it’s not your skin, right?. In my opinion, there is just as much danger of chemicals eating non-organic fruit or junk food–all fine in moderation. But if it doesn’t sound right for you, don’t do it. Go get some nontoxic facepaints and try doing the same thing, except with paints! So take a deep breath, take it easy, get creative, and have a little messy fun!
So Austin Wizard World happened this past weekend, and I thought I’d tell you all about my very first ever Con experience as both a vendor and an attendee…
First off, the fact that the event started on a Thursday was apparently unusual, and had quite a few vendors and staff in a huff. The event also coincided with a football game that same weekend, but it being my first time at all, I didn’t have much to compare it to.
My awesome sister was nice enough to loan me her teenage daughter to help me with the event, so we flew her from Maryland. At 17, Maylin is no stranger to conventions, and loves the art of cosplay (dressing up as beloved characters).
Maylin helped me set up the table and watch it so I could walk around a bit, too. It was awesome having her there! She did get some funny looks, though, when I wasn’t manning the booth. “Yeah, right, this teenage kid has a 4-year old?!?? It must be a HOAX!” Heheh. Myla had school Thursday and Friday, and three days of a 5-year old sitting at a booth would be a little much.
So many people walked by and recognized the artwork, and said very nice things about it. We got a lot of “I feel like I’ve seen this online somewhere….” and “Oh! are you the lady??” It’s a testament to how unreal online things seem, as I got several people saying, “Oh, this is actually REAL?? Are you the real PERSON??” Uh. Yes? Yes, I am.
One of my favorite parts of the convention was just people-watching. SO many fun and clever costumes!! There was a group of four girls, all dressed as different versions of Wolverine. They could barely walk a few feet at a time before having to stop to get their pictures taken by everyone, and made everyone smile who saw them. There was a cute Toothless, a teeny tiny (and very realistic) Predator. I saw lots of cool Gamoras and Starlords, a few Rocket Raccoons, and even a Groot made from foam noodles.
This Phoenix cosplayer had a pair of giant foam wings attached to her back, and she was getting stopped every few minutes to have her picture taken. One of my favorites was a simple costume worn by a very tall woman shopping with her daughters. Green skin and hair, light purple shirt, and brown dress, carrying a 1-ton handbag….LADY HULK!
Another cool chance happening was that while sitting at the booth, this Punisher came up to us and it took me just a second glance to realize it was my very own cousin Andrew! I had no idea he was coming, and he had no idea I’d be there. Small world! He and his girlfriend Bea cosplay all over Texas, and she came as a variety of characters all three days..Catherine from The Cell, Catwoman, and Lady Deadpool–go check her out at Ninja Kitty Cosplay!
They even walked around a bit with Myla and let people take their picture, which made her feel a bit like a superstar.
It was also amazing to meet all the other artists and vendors that worked there, and talk to them about their ideas and projects. I listened to artist Doug Hazlewood talk about making comics the old-school way. We were seated next to the creators of The Cat webseries on YouTube. I talked to artist Brian Essig-Peppard about his project Zeroes for Hire. SOOO many good artists! And it’s really cool to know that people you’ve gotten to know online through their artwork are really nice people in real life.
For example, I first followed artist John Mueller on Instagram because he makes AWESOME artwork, and also because I remember seeing his comic Oink way back when I was in art school. He’s revamped that series, and he actually asked me (and a few other handpicked artists) if I’d do a piece of artwork for the back of his new Dark Horse comic Oink: Heaven’s Butcher, which comes out in February. (I just finished it & sent it, and I’m SUPER honored to be included!)
Anyway, John was at the Con with Sam Gage to promote their awesome game called Bedlam, via Kickstarter, with some cool rewards! At some of the higher tiers, you can even get YOURSELF drawn in as a character in the game!! These guys were lots of fun, made beautiful artwork, and were just all around awesome people. (If games are your thing, I know they’d certainly appreciate a like, a pledge, or a share!)
They were also REAAALLLY big fans of our collaborations, and really made Myla feel special when we went walking around.
Speaking of feeling special, we had a special visit from a facebook friend, Lauren, who (joined by her Tribble) brought her copy of our book to have us sign! Luckily she came on Saturday when Myla was there, and Myla not only signed it, but drew an octo-cat inside. It was so wonderful to meet her!
I even met up with a friend from high school, and his family! (High school, by the way, was in Augsburg, Germany…so again, small world!)
Another fun run-in was spotting tattoo artist and sideshow performer Katzen Hobbes. I mean, she’s pretty difficult to miss, right? I ran into Katzen YEARS ago from a distance at a tattoo convention, and always read about her, so it was cool to finally meet her in person. She’s going to be featured in Ripley’s Believe it or Not book, coming in September. She was really nice, and told me she did art with her son Felix from time to time, and that she had heard of our artwork and enjoyed it, and that since she was an artist and a mom, people would send her the article.
Since I’m a bit on the…”grownup” side, I wouldn’t consider myself much of a fangirl, so when the list of celebrities came out for the show, I didn’t think I’d be interested much. …UNTIL the thought crossed my mind that I might get them to sign some portraits I had done of them…
You might know Michael Rooker as Merle from The Walking Dead and Yondu from Guardians of the Galaxy…I brought my portrait of him to pose for a photo with, and had him sign the other, which was just an unfinished ballpoint sketch at the time. He was friendly! Like, VERY friendly. Like, country boy, holding your hand, callin’ you “Sugar,” big-hug friendly. “You did this, girl? Man, you’ve got some skills! All with a ballpoint pen, huh? I’ll be darned.” It was on Thursday, so there was hardly anyone there. I asked him if anyone offers him chocolate covered pretzels. We talked about Mallrats, and having to have his shiny butt full screen for the whole world to see in that one. He was funny. Later on, he walked around the Con floor, chatting with vendors. “HEYYYYY it’s you again!” he said to me. “You still working on that drawing? Man! You’re fast!” And then he strolled off to chat with a scantily-clad Red Sonja.
Friday was Norman Reedus, from Walking Dead. Since there were separate lines (and costs) for autographs and photos, I wasn’t able to take a posed photo, but Norman was super nice. Everyone kept saying, “oh, Norman Reedus? He is SUCH a nice dude.” And they were absolutely right. While Saturday was full of teenage fangirls screaming and shrieking his name, Friday was much more laid-back. As I walked up, he gave me a hug, shook my hand and said, “Hi, I’m Norman.” I asked if he’d be willing to sign my drawing, and he said, “MAN, you did that??” He stared at it a bit and told me I had a very unique style. I told him I was an illustrator, that my husband & I loved the show, and couldn’t think of anything else much to say. I know he enjoys artwork, and even made a book of fan art, but I wish I would’ve known beforehand that he actually MADE art at one time–that’s actually something I would’ve LOVED to have learned more about…..DANG IT!
Anyway, Myla stayed for a good chunk of the day Saturday, and had a GREAT time. She LOVED seeing all the costumes, and she LOVED looking at all the artwork. She said she wanted to stay there for the WHOLE NIGHT. She seemed SO at home there! At one point, inspired by the allure of commerce (or maybe it was the influence of the other artists), Myla drew some pictures, and laid them out on the floor. “I hope someone will buy my artwork,” she said. I helped her spell the words “For Sale” on her sign. “How much will you sell them for?” I asked. “One hundred,” she replied confidently. “I think that might be a little too much. How about one dollar?” “Yes! Of course!” she said. So from then on out (after first trying to sell some to me and Maylin), she would ask people kindly, “Would you like to buy some of my art?” I worried that she might not handle rejection well….but I underestimated the power of a kid’s selling techniques. I mean, who could resist?
One guy came by specifically to meet her, and tell her what a fan he was of our work. When she offered up her drawings, he asked if she had any of Harley Quinn. She didn’t, but grabbed her markers and drew him one right then & there. He happily thanked her with a ten dollar bill and a smile (people can be SO awesome, by the way). Made my heart smile!
By the end of the day, when Daddy came to pick her up, she had made $20. She told me I should go to the shops and buy any doll I choose. Whichever one I wanted for myself. “Hm,” I said. “What doll do you think I should choose?” Immediately, she answered, “FLUTTERSHY!!!” Then quickly added, “Uh…or whichever one you would like.”
So of course, impressed by her moxie, I brought home a stuffed Fluttershy for her, for all her hard work.
And that was that! So much fun meeting so many people, seeing so much artwork, and all the fantastic costumes. I think we may have to go to a few more, even just as attendees. Maybe this time…in costume! I have all these awesome cosplay ideas if Myla would only cooperate, but of course (as she should) she has her own ideas. Like being Fluttershy or Rainbow Dash (can you tell she just discovered My Little Ponies?). My husband says that instead of a pageant mom, I have to be careful not to become a cosplay mom. 🙂
Til next time! Woohoo!
Yes, I love bugs. Insects. Beetles. Whatever.
Well, mainly, I really love the IDEA of bugs, and I love LOOKING at bugs. (It’s a whole other story when they’re actually touching me.) I don’t like squished bugs, but sometimes if they’re all dried up and pretty, I love looking at dead bugs. I have a few I’ve collected here and there, that I’ve hung up on the walls of our house for the past ten or so years. By “collected,” I don’t mean I’ve gone out & hunted them down myself–I mean that I either found them, bought them, or was given them by friends.
One day, while helping our daughter get ready for bedtime, my eyes tripped over a rhino beetle we had hanging in our bathroom. It had been there for YEARS (in different houses, but in roughly the same spot), so long that it just sort of blended into the scenery of everyday life, overlooked. But this time, a strange and very intense thought occurred to me, and it did so with a very loud voice: “I wonder if I could paint on its wings?”
Then I wondered, if beetles could customize their wings with painted “tattoos,” what would they get? Beetles often fight, so maybe they would be aggressive battle scenes with intimidating imagery. But not the typically intimidating human skulls, since beetles lack an internal skeleton and therefore it wouldn’t mean the same to them. Perhaps instead of a skull and crossbones, they’d have two sticks and some decayed leaves around them? Maybe a Japanese fighting beetle would have ornate scenes of fighting beetles emblazoned on their backs, or a fear-inspiring giant sole of a boot, since their main natural predator might be our own feet trampling down on them. Maybe there would be peaceful, hippie-tattooed beetles. Or images of their larvae with birth dates. Or a portrait of “mom.” And what on earth would a DUNG beetle get?
Yes, these are the kind of thoughts that sometimes go through my head while staring at the shell of a beetle and getting our daughter ready for bed.
So, like most ideas I have, once they’re in my head, they won’t go away until I do it. So I did. At my husband’s suggestion, I drew a preliminary sketch. I don’t always like to do this–I often like to just wing it (haha, see what I did there?). But this time (like most times) he was right.
Apparently, this beetle had been sprayed with a kind of varnish (because I bought it at a store and of COURSE they sprayed it to preserve it), so it was a little like painting on plastic. I used acrylic paints, and took my time going over and over and over it, layer after layer, since the paint had a habit of beading up.
But with each new layer, the image started coming together, and the basic layout was falling into place.
Thankfully, the wing shells were pretty sturdy, and although they had the slightest give, they didn’t really move much. Since I am impatient, I tried using thicker blobs of paint to cut back on the amount of layers I’d need to repaint, but I still needed to go over and over it again and again to bet the basic underpainting. Once that was dry, I could go back and add the little details and shading and fine-tune the whole thing.
And here it is: the final beetle! I really REALLY wanted to put a skull on his head, but that didn’t make sense, so I put a tiny leaf that ended up looking a bit like a snowflake from a distance. Still, I like the little “skeleton beetle skull with crossed sticks” (instead of a skull & crossbones) on the inside of his back. And instead of “bad to the bone…” Well, you know. Because beetles don’t have bones, right?
So I had SO much fun with that, that I immediately looked around the house for more insects I could vandalize. Some of my nicer ones are contained completely inside wooden frames and sealed plexiglass, which makes breaking into them nearly impossible (probably for the best), but I was able to accost one of my dragonflies.
So what would a dragonfly get? There are so many different styles of tattoos! This one is a tribal-style dragon on dragonfly wings…
Those wings were hard to paint, by the way. I was hoping for more detail, but this guy died about 14 years ago, and is really fragile. Plus, dragonfly wings, with all those little cells, are almost like tiny little tissue-thin accordions. Keeping a straight line was pretty difficult.
And the last one was this brittle old moth. (The light one, not the dark one who just happens to be glued next to him.) I gave this guy old-school flames, because of the ol’ “like a moth to the flame” standard, and because moths love light, right? So he’d probably tattoo some daring flames on his wings to show off his bravery at dancing close to danger. Or something. Anyway, they didn’t turn out as detailed as I had envisioned either, because moth wings are fuzzy, and it’s like painting on a tiny little carpet.
So there are my painted insects. I immediately went on Amazon and ordered a few more beetles to paint on, but apparently I didn’t notice they’re shipping from THAILAND and will be here in like three years. Or two months. Either way: a long, long time.
In the meantime, I’d love to hear your ideas: with all the different styles and influences, what do you think different types of insects would get if they could customize their wings?
YOU GUYS!! Did you know you could make your own temporary tattoos from doodles you already HAD?!? …Okay, well I didn’t. But I experimented with them, and here’s how it went down.
First off, I’ll warn you that I only tried two brands–one was HORRIBLE and the other was not too shabby. But neither one of them came out like the ink ones you get at the store or in a pack of gum–instead of transferring the ink, they both had an adhesive backing to them, so it’s basically like putting a very very very thin sticker on your arm. Or like letting Elmer’s glue dry on your skin. (I have super sensitive skin that doesn’t like adhesives, so for freaks like me, that might be a problem.)
I used this brand, which says you should use it with this special die-cutting machine, but you TOTALLY don’t have to (Sorry, Silhouette). You take your images, flip them, and print them out. There’s a plastic sheet you rub onto it once it dries, to sort of hold the adhesive down. Then you have to cut out your “tattoos.”
Not cool. So take my word for it, and just cut closely around your image.
The rest is like a regular temporary tattoo: peel off the plastic sheet, and place it face-down where you want it on your skin. Again, a word of warning: You’re essentially putting a very very very thin adhesive on your skin, so if you have super hairy arms, you might want to opt for a less-hairy spot.
Wet the back of the “tattoo” and peel it off.
And temporarily cover yourself in your own awesomeness! Woohoo!
(Let me put it out there that if you don’t have prior training in the art of tattooing, I would suggest to NOT try this at home. Go to a professional. They are paid BECAUSE of their experience, and a good artist is DEFINITELY worth it. I have some prior training, professional experience & equipment, and I STILL don’t always know what I’m doing.)
I wanted a derby tattoo. Not one that had allegiance to any certain team, but one that just represented a love for the sport and what it did for me. I joined derby in Alaska a few months before my husband’s deployment and it was a good distraction from the stresses and worries of life and a 2-year old. I worry about EVERYTHING, but once you get to practice, you pretty much have to leave it at the door and focus on your drills. I loved it, and put a lot of time, energy, and creative effort into it. So I wanted something to sort of mark that time. I found an old black & white retro photo of a girl skating with a pillow on her butt, which I found hilarious, because she’s all-out jumping at the same time. This is sort of my personality, too. And to top it off, the little girl in the pic had curly hair like my daughter. Taking time for myself away from my daughter, even for something I was passionate about, was very difficult for me, but I think it made the deployment a little softer a blow (we all know the key to a deployment is distraction, distraction, distraction)…
I made a couple of modifications to the original photo. First, I was initially hesitant to add my derby number, but it’s a number I associate with my husband, so I decided it was safe. He had always been so super supportive from the minute I joined.
Second, the girl in the original pic had old-school strap-on-your-shoes roller skates. I traded them out for a portrait of my favorite pair of skates…Reidell Minx 965s with Sure-Grip Avenger 45 degree angled plates. I’m cheap when it comes to clothes, and I’m not one for designer bags, so this was a BIG purchase for me. But, lemme tell you, those boots were MADE for flat-footed folks like myself and they were HEAVENLY. And the Avenger plates were like skating on butter. I LOVE them. They were so sweet & sassy, I called them my “Darth Skaters.” My Caddilacs. I have leather toecaps on the ends with cute little red skulls, so I added those, too.
As for the tattooing itself…..well, it could’ve been better. Tattoo artists have warned about tattooing yourself; you’ll be overly critical, you’ll obsess about it. As your work improves, you’ll regret your earlier work. But I thought if I was willing to tattoo on someone else, I should trust myself to tattoo myself.
Turns out the tattoo artists are right, in a way. The lines were QUITE wobbly because I was SOOO nervous about how it would turn out. There is a technique for artists where you draw something from a reference upside down, so it loses its preconceived shapes and becomes just the shading & shapes that you need to translate to your work. I have never been good at this technique, and despite my practicing drawing it several times, I wasn’t crazy with how it turned out. The face, more specifically. Looking back now, it’s such a smaller tattoo that the details (or lack thereof) of the face don’t matter much, but I was REALLY down about it at first. I thought I had butchered it.
All in all, though, I am pretty happy with the final piece! It means what I wanted it to mean, and I don’t think it turned out TOO bad for tattooing it upside down on my own leg.