Four Talking Boxes 2226

I’ve been working in video a bit lately. Nothing big but I’ve been trying to figure out a good way to present my artwork on video do I can post it on YouTube, Instagram, and wherever else I can. So far it hasn’t been an easy nut to crack. The main problem is that my art is static and video moves. How do I marry those two concepts? People have been trying to film art and artists for a long time and it’s not easy because art really has to be seen in person and at size to be appreciated. That and it generally takes a long time to make a piece of art and there isn’t a lot of action to it.

More often than not artists have faked making art for the camera to make it more interesting. Big sweeping gestures and fast motion look good on film but making art is mostly small gestures and slow build up. I’ve made lots of videos of me drawing but when I do I draw small, 5×7 inches, and in my automatic drawing style. That way I can finish a piece in about 15 minutes of non-stop action.

I even made a couple of videos showing me drawing large drawings. I uses the same automatic drawing method only on a larger scale. The drawings were 20×30 inches and drawn in a thick black marker. The videos came out okay but I don’t think the increase in scale helped at all. After all the final video is the same size no matter what the size of the drawing. So a 5×7 inch drawing looks about the same on screen as a 20×30 inch drawing does.

Nether of those approaches helped my because I was thinking more about presenting a drawing than filming one. At least the marker moved when I was drawing so there was something going on. With the art already made what was there to do besides hold it up? That was my question and I had no answer. It held me up for a long time.

I finally started shooting some video over the last two days. I’ve been pondering this problem for ages and came up with no solutions so I finally decided to just start. I actually did some other stuff along these lines a couple of years ago. I wanted to do a pop-up art show so I brought some small pieces with me to Bryant Park, showed them off on camera, and then posted them on YouTube. It wasn’t very successful by any measure. I didn’t like it very much and neither did anyone else. It wasn’t terrible but it had no hook. No idea behind it to grab anyone.

I shoot my regular YouTube comic book haul videos very simply. I use my iPad to recored the video in pieces. I point the camera at the comic with me off-screen and talking. Each comic gets it’s own little one or two minute video and then I put them all together in iMovie on the iPad. I do it that way in case I get interrupted or hem and haw too much as I’m speaking. It’s an easy way to do it. There is no real video editing as I’m just adding one video onto the end of another. It’s nothing special but it works and I like the results.

When I’m making a heads-up video for YouTube (that’s one where I’m facing the camera and talking rather than aiming the camera at comic books) I use my digital camera rather than my iPad. I started doing that back when I had an iPad 2. That devices’s forward facing camera is of lower resolution than its rear one. So I couldn’t see the screen if I was recording myself on the iPad 2. I got a new iPad last Christmas so that’s not a concern anymore but I still use my digital camera for the heads-up work. It’s just habit at this point.

I’ve taken to making Instagram videos in recent months to show off my artwork. They’re also simple though. For years I’ve showed photos of my art on Instagram but with video I decided to show my face on because I think it helps humanize my art. It helps people understand that a person makes this stuff. It’s mostly just me holding top some art. Not the most exciting thing there is but the videos are short. With the last few videos I’ve taken to changing the angles around and moving the art a bit. It’s not the most spectacular video but I’m trying.

So far most of the shots I’ve made are me and the art. I made a video about some Batman sketch covers I’ve drawn. I took some video of me standing and holding the comic and sitting and holding the comic. In order to get some movement I put the comics on the easel behind me and would turn around, grab them, and show them to the camera. I’d even move them across the camera.

I’ve also taken some shots of the art by itself. I placed the comics on my drawing table and panned across them. I came up with a little drop for some of my art card stuff too. I set up the camera on my drawing table, held an art card in front of it, and then let the art card fall flat onto the desk. I still haven’t perfected that drop but I’m working on it.

I did cut the video of me holding the comics, moving them off the easel, and the still shots into a final video. I tried to cut it pretty sharply but not quite in that YouTube remove all the air from in-between the words staccato style that’s so popular on YouTube. I may try something in that stye eventually but until then this is all I have.

I’m back from the comic shop this week and I got three new comics.

  • Thief of Thieves – 38
  • Monstress – 18
  • The Savage Dragon – 235
  • Check them all out here:

    “Nothing. I’ve got nothing.” That’s one of my moods. It’s also a quote that comes from my Marvel Comics days back in the mid 1990s. I’d guess 1995 if I had to. In those days Marvel was in the middle of transitioning from traditional cut and paste publishing to newfangled desktop publishing. As a consequence we in the Bullpen were figuring out how to do our jobs on computers instead of on drawing tables.

    The computers we were using were Apple computers running System 7. That was the name of Apple’s operating system at the time and I remember it because the sound files it used were called “System 7 Sounds.” It used those sound files even into System 8. I remember that because we made a lot of System 7 sounds. Computers were fairly new at the time. They weren’t everywhere like they are today. No one carried one all day to make phone calls on. We were discovering new things about the computers all the time in the beginning of our desktop publishing days and one of our most fun discoveries was playing sound bites and alert sounds.

    Alerts sounds are those little beeps a computer makes when it wants to let you know something. They’re sort of what ring tones are today because back then you could customize them. You might still be able to customize them but I haven’t bothered to in decades. But back then when everything was fresh and new we were customizing sounds all the time. Plus we were recording each other.

    There were two ways to make System 7 sounds. One was to sample things from already existing sound files such as movies or TV shows and then you would click on the System 7 sound file to play the sound. We played a lot of sound bites from the movie “Aliens” and from “Monty Python and the Holy Grail.” I swear I can still hear a lot of those sounds in my head. We used to use them all the time to punctuate conversations and amuse ourselves. “Help, help, I’m being oppressed!” became part of our everyday landscape.

    The second way to make System 7 sounds was to record them and record them we did. The Macs came standard with a microphone and it was a good thing they did because they used their own proprietary mic jack in those days. No standard eighth inch jack for Apple. They had to make their own. So we’d all say goofy things into the mic to make sound drops out of. Over the months a few favorites developed.

    One of my favorites happened one day as my friend John was randomly recording stuff. He shouted across the room at Thomas to get him to say something. Thomas responded “I got nothing.” Then you can hear John say “Say it again.” Thomas responds more loudly, “I’ve got nothing!” That’s it. That’s the extent of the exchange caught as a System 7 sound but it still resonates with me. It’s a mood. I’ve got nothing.

    I haven’t played that sound bite in a long time but it’s still alive in my head. To this day whenever I’m trying to get something done, think of something to do, or generally try to motivate myself and fail that sound bite goes off in my head. “I’ve got nothing. Say it again. I’ve got nothing!” It encapsulates that mood so perfectly.

    I bring this up because of my mood cards. They’re something I came up with this week to add to my art card oeuvre. They aren’t ground breaking or fancy but more along the lines of simple things. First I have to think up a mood. Not things like happy, sad, or chilly but more succinct. I pulled out one of my little writing notebooks and wrote things down in it that I felt during the day. Hopefully pithy things but not always.

    Along with “I’ve got nothing” I have other ones like “Is this a live show? Because I want a second take” and “Something weird made me smile.” It’s not easy to put moods into words but so far I’ve been able to write down about twenty five of them in a week. It’s a strange thing but in order to write these I have to be on the lookout for whenever I feel something that can be put into words in a way that people can relate to. It’s also hard not to fall into the negative. There are a lot of bad moods a person can be in and I’ve found that dwelling in those is not very amusing. I’ve been trying to keep it positive.

    After I’ve got my mood and decided I want to work with it I get one of my 2.5×3.5 pieces of Bristol board and start the lettering. I chose to go with a freeform lettering style and not even rule lines to letter between. I try my best to make them straight by hand. First I write the sentences in pencil to get my spacing correct and then I letter right over top of the pencil with an ink marker. I’ve been using a black .5mm Copic Multiliner for that task. I have other pens that work just as well but the Copic handles the task of erasing the pencil lined best. Given the chance to dry the Copic marker doesn’t smear when I erase over it. I lot of other markers smear. Even if I leave it all day to dry.

    Then I draw my mood. That’s not an easy task. I draw the face of a character with simple lines. I try to muster up the mood on my face and then look in the mirror and draw what I see. Trying to find just the right little cartoon takes some doing. I draw it in pencil first and then ink it. Since it’s so small I’ve been inking them with a pen rather than my usual brush. I ink the letters, ink the face, wait for the ink to dry, and then erase all the pencil lines and it’s done. I’ve been keeping these in black and white. I think that helps with the mood. Color would create a mood of its own and maybe interfere with the drawing’s mood.

    Nothing. I’ve got nothing.

    I’m back from the comic shop this week and I got six new comics.

  • Empowered and Sistah Spooky’s High School Hell – 5 (of 6)
  • The Highest House – 5
  • Hillbilly – 11
  • Paper Girls – 22
  • Uber: Invasion – 14
  • The Walking Dead – 181
  • Check them all out here:

    I was at it again this week. I was working on my calendar. On a normal day I write notes in my calendar on my computer of what I did that day. What artwork I worked on, where I went, or any other simple or complex thing that I did. I’ve been doing that since December of 2008 in an attempt to show myself that I do get things done. Otherwise whenever I make a piece of art and put it away I tend to forget about it and it feels like I’ve never done it or anything. With a glance at my calendar I can see that I have accomplish something and it can lift my spirits.

    It was back in 2012 that when I was going to clean out the garage of a bunch of old tax receipts that I realized I could use those old papers to reconstruct what I was doing back then in the 1990s and enter that information into my virtual calendar. I ended up doing research on myself. Sure it interested no one else but I thought it was cool. I made a little map of my past. It was a lot of work though. And like many things that are a lot of work for no real reward I worked on it for a while and then put it away. I figured I’d finish the rest of it some other time. Then six years passed by.

    From 1999 until 2004 I kept a paper calendar. That’s where I first got the idea to keep track of some of the things that I did and I also used it to write in. Just a short paragraph a day. Over the years I’ve mined those short paragraphs for various things but I never transferred the general information into my digital calendar. Back in 2012 I was mostly working on early 1990s receipts so I never made it as far forward in time as my paper calendars. I’m not even sure why I stopped keeping the paper calendar but I did. Still it was those ones that inspired me to start up on my calendar project again.

    For about a week in May I became obsessed with filling in the missing years from my paper calendars into my digital one. Early in the mornings, at lunch time, at dinner time, and while watching TV at night I entered information into my computer. Instead of reading or surfing the web I typed for the week. It took a lot of effort.

    The paper calendars were easiest because all the information was in one place. It was all written down in a handy spiral book. I used to buy and write in the Ansel Adams desktop calendars every year. I guess I got bored with them by 2004 since I used a different calendar that year. It must have broken the spell though because that one odd calendar was the last one I ever used.

    The other part of the project were the receipts in the garage. That were also broken down by year and by subject matter too. I had receipt categories for art supplies, transportation, equipment, and a few other things I can’t remember right now. Plus there were bank and credit card statements in there. I could tell if I bought something or if I used an ATM near me or in NYC.

    As I was doing this I couldn’t decide if the receipts or the paper calendar were easier to deal with. The receipts could be broken down into pieces and handled a little at a time but they took time to organize. The paper calendar took no organization but had a lot of information in one single volume. So it took some time to do. It somehow seemed easier to just take the art supply receipts and do them but then when I was faced with a years worth of receipts to organize it seemed easier to grab a paper calendar. I, of course, ended up switching back and forth between them.

    One of the little things that particularly interested me this time around was that I got the the year to eighteen months where I took the train from Tarrytown into the city instead of the bus from Haverstraw. I remembered doing that but I had no idea when, how often, or for how long that happened. I had receipts for the rides so I could tell when I was on the train and not the bus. It’s a minor thing of no consequence but it made me happy to know.

    I ended up finishing a lot of years. I think I had from 1990 until 1997 already done and this time I finished up 1998 until 2004. Now I just have a gap between 2005 until 2008 in my calendar. The earliest information I now have in my calendar is from 1983 and 1984. One of the things I note is when I go to the comic shop. Usually I go every week and so I put it in my calendar. I found among my tax papers receipts from when I went to the comic shop back in high school. I have no idea why I kept them but most of them had dates on them so I entered that info.

    By the end of the week I burnt out on doing it. I wanted to finish and fill that four year gap but I just couldn’t take it anymore. I even organized the receipts for 2005 so they were all ready to go but I didn’t get to them. It seemed so pointless as is the danger of doing this sort of work. It’s emotionally taxing. At first it’s fun and fascinating to go through my life and see all the small things that happened. It can be nostalgic and joyful to say to myself, “Oh yeah, I remember that.” But after a while I start to feel bad because I’ve forgotten so much. Most of everything gets forgotten. That’s the way life is. I wonder if it’ll take me another six years to finish up.