Thursday, May 24, 2012

There is nothing left for the consumer to Classify...

There is nothing left for the consumer to classify. Producers have done it for him. Art for the masses has destroyed the dream but still conforms to the tenets of that dreaming idealism which critical idealism baulked at. Everything derives from consciousness: for Malebranche and Berkeley, from the consciousness of God; in mass art, from the consciousness of the production team. Not only are the hit songs, stars, and soap operas cyclically recurrent and rigidly invariable types, but the specific content of the entertainment itself is derived from them and only appears to change. The details are interchangeable. The short interval sequence which was effective in a hit song, the hero's momentary fall from grace (which he accepts as good sport), the rough treatment which the beloved gets from the male star, the latter's rugged defiance of the spoilt heiress, are, like all the other details, ready-made cliches to be slotted in anywhere; they never do anything more than fulfill the purpose allotted them in the overall plan. 
From Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer's The Culture Industry: Enlightenment as Mass Deception.


Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Currently Reading...

Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer's The Culture Industry: Enlightenment as Mass Deception:
The ruthless unity in the culture industry is evidence of what will happen in politics. Marked differentiations such as those of A and B films, or of stories in magazines in different price ranges, depend not so much on subject matter as on classifying, organizing, and labelling consumers. Something is provided for so that none may escape; the distinctions are emphasized and extended. The public is catered to with a hierarchical range of mass-produced products of varying quality, thus advancing the rule of complete quantification. Everybody must behave (as if spontaneously) in accordance with his previously determined and indexed level, and choose the category of mass product turned out for his type. Consumers appear as statistics on research organization charts, and are divided by income groups into red, green and blue areas; the technique that is used for any type of propaganda.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Tuesday, May 15, 2012


Ladies and gentlemen, I introduce you to Dahlia, my new mascot.

Dahlia epitomizes everything I love about fashion: a plethora of hybrid influences cobbled together to create something ostentatiously ornate and gaudy as a bird of paradise. If I could dress this way I would. Unfortunately, I do not have the time nor the money to procure such a getup, so I figure I'll live vicariously through my illustrations until school's over. After that, I can once again devote my time to finding pretty clothes.

I started this illustration last summer, but didn't get a chance to finish it until now. The image is pretty large (11"x17" spread), but Blogspot's got this new(ish) thing where all images automatically re-size, so I've included some close ups for details that may get lost in the larger preview. Enjoy.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Truths (Circa 2009)

Ten Truths that I know are True
  1. Sex still sells.
  2. Reality is a construct.
  3. Everything dies eventually.
  4. The 'right way to think' vs. the 'wrong way to think' is subjective.
  5. The world's strongest and most steadfast currency is the overwhelming desire for MORE.
  6. When the minority becomes the majority, their beliefs become the norm.
  7. We are all more ordinary, less attractive and less special than we would like to believe.
  8. True brilliance is rare and precious as it is transient: it never lasts for vast amounts of time.
  9. The human species is as cosmically insignificant as an amoeba is to the sun.
  10. Perfection is unobtainable because the essence of perfection is subjective and ever changing (but that doesn't stop us from reaching for it).

Ten Truths Perpetuated by Society that are Lies
  1. Equality has been achieved. 
  2. The best things in life are free.
  3. Human beings are essentially good.
  4. We are free to make our own choices, regardless of circumstance or external forces.
  5. Activism and a positive outlook will eventually wipe out various forms of human suffering.
  6. The letter of the law is always determined by unbiased, calm, analytical assessment.
  7. Governments and institutions have your best interests in mind.
  8. During times of great duress, people will overcome their differences and come to a lasting solution that benefits all.
  9. A university degree is the cure for all your woes.
  10. If it's peer reviewed, it's true.

 Ten Truths that I Wish were True
  1. That sleep was unnecessary.
  2. That perfection was obtainable.
  3. That human beings were essentially good.
  4. That the best things in life were always free.
  5. That there was an undo button for all the mistakes you've made.
  6. That governments and institutions had your best interests in mind.
  7. That the financial burden of getting an education wasn't so great.
  8. That aging was not an eventuality, but a choice.
  9. That minimum wage was higher.
  10. That I had a lifetime supply of Lindor chocolate.

It's so weird, reading my old writing (and kind of amazing what I can find when I end up digging through my school notes).  Things change. Ideas mature. Although I gotta admit - I still agree with 90% of the content on these lists.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Paintbrush Carrying Case: A DIY Tutorial

So I was planning to post this MONTHS ago, but I kind of forgot about it. Like forgot about it in a bad way. Or got distracted. Probably both.

Over the Christmas holidays some OCAD friends and I participated in an artsy version of Secret Santa. The whole thing was very laid back and lots of fun. I prefer making gifts to buying them, so for my contribution to the gift stash I made a paintbrush carrying case out of recycled materials I found around the house.

Really easy to make, durable, and extremely convenient. I'm sure there are plenty of different methods for constructing one, but I've posted instructions on how I made the case below.

What you'll need:
  • Pins
  • Iron
  • Thread
  • Needles
  • Scissors
  • Bias tape
  • Cotton broadcloth
  • Pre-made Dishrags or Tea Towels, preferably out of canvas or something heavier (you can buy them in packs of two or three at most dollar stores)
  • Sewing machine

Step 1: Assembling Supplies

Pretty self explanatory. You'll need your basic sewing supplies (listed above), dishrags/tea towels, as well as some sort of broadcloth or canvas. When buying tea towels make sure they're made out of something heavier, as it needs to be durable enough to transport supplies. For my project I used what I had around the house - red bias tape, brightly colored towels, and decorative paper (to wrap the gift).

Step 2: Setting Things Up

Before you start cutting and pinning your fabric, you need to pre-wash both your broadcloth and your tea towel to shrink them. If your material is synthetic it won't shrink that much, but cotton will definitely warp so make sure to check the specs of the fabric's weave. After you wash your fabric, iron it flat and lay out your broadcloth with your tea towel on top, making sure to match up the grain. Pin your tea towel to the broadcloth to firmly hold it in place. 

Step 3: Cutting things to Size

Next, take your scissors and cut your broadcloth around your tea towel, leaving a 1" - 1.5" border. Don't worry if you have a few uneven edges, as it will be hidden in the final project. Do not remove the pins until after you're done cutting.

Step 4: Folding the Edge

After your done cutting your broadcloth, plug in your iron to warm it up. Remove the pins from your fabric, and - carefully following the border - fold your broadcloth over so that it is approximately .5" smaller than your tea towel on all sides. Press these folds flat, then place the broadcloth back against the inside of the tea towel to line up the edges. 

Step 5: Pinning the Edge

Next, pin your broadcloth and tea towel together with the inside facing in. You won't be turning your carrying case inside out to hide the seams (I'll get to that in a moment, so don't worry). Make sure that both pieces of fabric are lying flat against one another to avoid stretching the grain when pinning.

Step 6: Sewing the Edge

After you're done pinning, take a thread the same color as your broadcloth and do a double threaded slip stitch all the way around your piece of fabric to hide the raw edges of your lining. Learning slip stitch is a lesson in of itself so I won't go into details here, but once you're done, you should have a (relatively) neat edge securely sewn that hides the loose threads beneath. 

Step 7: Mapping out Basic Measurements

Once that's done, iron out your piece of fabric to make sure there are no bumps between your lining and your exterior canvas. Next, fold your piece of fabric 1/3 of it's length (this measurement varies on how large your piece of fabric is and how tall your paintbrushes are, so feel free to vary it).

Step 8: Securing the Fold

Once you've decided on your fold, pin the fabric on either side. Stitch the fold along the edge at a .5" seam. Do not turn the pocket inside out - the stitching is meant to show on the outside. 

Step 9: Mapping out your Pockets

After the sides of the fold have been secured, pull out your paintbrushes (and sketchbook, if you want to create a pocket for that as well). Place them side by side within the fold to figure out how much room you need for each pocket, pinning along the sides. After you're done pinning, find something to mark your lines to help you sew relatively straight. In my case I used the vertical patterning on the fabric, but in lieu of that a couple marks with a fabric pencil or marker (available at most sewing stores) will do.

Step 10: Finishing Touches

Once you've sewn your pockets, there's really only one step left. Take your bias tape and cut off the length needed to securely hold your carrying case together. When determining the length of the bias tape it's best to place your paintbrushes inside the case and fold it in three, as the pockets will expand depending on the contents you're carrying. Once you have your length of bias tape, fold it in half and secure it to the outside of the case with a simple row of stitching (either by hand or by machine). Double check the length to make sure it's accurate, then seal the ends of the bias tape using clear nail polish or some sort of anti-fray serum. And you're done!

As a side note: my packaging for the gift, complete with hoodie drawing and horribly articulated Christmas card. I don't think I've sounded that tongue tied in awhile.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

TCAF 2012

So I went to TCAF last weekend.

It's my all-time favorite local festival for the simple fact that it's free and it features comic books. I mean sure, there are other festivals with a wider selection of products. But a free comic book convention? I can't pass that up.

I missed last year's TCAF due to a nasty bout of the flu, but this time around I managed to make it down to the festival for the final day of the event. There were still a lot of visitors, but less crowded. Like previous years the festival was held at the Toronto Reference Library just off Bloor and Yonge, and just like previous years the most striking feature about the place was the god-awful, retro-orange carpeting. Really, it's the only thing I can remember about the building besides its location. 

There were a lot of comic artists there I hadn't heard of, and some bigger name ones that made an appearance to sign their work. The lineups for signatures weren't that bad - instead of standing in line for over an hour you only had to wait around for twenty minutes. I think it was a bargain, all things considered.

I didn't buy much at TCAF this year. Set myself a strict budget and tried to stick to it, but I'm happy with my purchases. As you can probably guess, I'm very partial to things with red.

I picked up a free copy of The Cartoon Crier (Volume 1, Issue 1, Spring 2012), another pin from Selena Wong (grabbed some of her bunny pins at Canzine last fall) and a copy of Jinchalo by Matthew Forsythe. The final comic I picked up was Paying For It, by Chester Brown - his autobiographical account of being a John in Toronto. Started reading it last night, and it's really good. The comic is painfully detailed at times (and incredibly embarrassing), but there's this weird quality to it that makes it hard to put down. I think it's sort of like watching a train wreck in slow motion, only in illustrated form.

Also: he autographed my copy, which is beyond awesome. I wish my signature looked this cool.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

OCAD U's 97th Annual Grad Exhibition

So it's that time of year again - the OCAD grad show recap!

The show ended Sunday, and like last year I was much impressed. A bunch of my friends were graduating, so I was extremely excited to see their work and find out what projects they had been hiding from me for the entire year. Their illustrations were absolutely gorgeous, and it really inspired me to complete my upcoming thesis with as much skill as they had.

I didn't have time to see the exhibit as a whole (which is a shame) and the photos I took don't even cover half of what I did see, but here's a small glimpse of what was on display. Simply amazing stuff. The links to each artist's website has been included with their name (unless otherwise stated). Alright, enough gushing. On to the goodies!

Close up on Play Space by Daniel Orellana, Illustration.

Details on Siamese Crossroads and Phasmophobia by Fox Xoft, Illustration. I wasn't familiar with the illustrator's work, but I love bright colors and there were just so many of them that it was sort of like dangling a shiny object in front of a magpie. I couldn't help myself. I was so fascinated by it.

Because I'm a huge fan of Ness Lee and her chubby sumo characters, I had to include a couple photos from her display and the details on her illustrations. The setup was the most adorable thing ever. Also, buttons. And business cards. And zines! Below, details on The Calm before the Soy Sauce and Mama knows best.

Display closeup and detail on Hypocrite Sinner by Tabban Soleimani, Illustration. 

Closeup on Superbugs, by Meredith Sadler, Illustration.

Muscular Hypertrophy Engineering and Manure Dinner by Xiao Su, Illustration. This was another case where the bright colors drew me in and I just kind of ended up standing there, in front of the illustrations, slack-jawed and looking at shiny things.

During the exhibit I wandered through the Graphic Design section of the grad show and snapped a couple pictures of the projects that were on display. To the left, a close up of Giru Thiru's setup (I believe his thesis was seed library packaging of some sort). In the middle, Marta Ryczko's amazing typography, and on the far right, a display I absolutely loved but forgot to get the author of (if anyone from OCAD recognizes the work, lemme know).

I also made a trek down to the fourth floor to take a look at the Drawing and Painting section of the grad show. Below, a closeup of a painting by one Adam Brooks.

From left to right: details on paintings by Brittney Taylor, Maria Boese, and unknown, all from Drawing and Painting. The two closeups below that are unknown as well, although I've seen them around school before. If I can find out who did them, I'll update. (None of the artists had website contact information).

Also, I collected business cards.

Illustration business cards are always the best - so inventive and colorful. I was totally enamored with Ness Lee's card - it's made out of wood. Wood! And rounded corners! I like them corners.

However, my absolute favorite card was Guru Thiru's. Check it out - it's a little bottle full of seeds! Real seeds! He had an entire box of them set up like a traveling apothecary.

My review of the OCAD grad show isn't as in depth as I would like it to be, but I'm short on time and there was just so many things at the exhibit that I'd never be able to detail it all in a reasonable amount of time. There were some amazing illustrators at the show that I didn't blog about here, and you should definitely check them out:

Anita Thai
Donald Clement
Emily Taylor
Jeannie Phan
Marc O'Brien
Nancy Zhang
Sarah Pedro

Also, for a comprehensive list of all illustration graduates at this year's show, check out OCAD U Illustration. Very cool stuff.

Next year is my turn for thesis and grad show. So excited and inspired! But nervous. Very nervous.