Wednesday, December 8, 2010

I'm doing some work for a magazine

It's called Epikaira, which is Greek for 'current events'. It's a political mag through and through. literally. The content is fiercely committed to the examination of current affairs both native to Greece and in the more broad geopolitical sense, from first page to last. It's kind of a challenge for me, this context, but I'm growing accustomed to it. Coworkers are very kind and I have been paid promptly and fairly for my efforts, so there's that! (I hadn't posted about this job until first compensation to avoid a reprise of the previous fiasco)

Below follows some of the imagery I've been creating for them.

Julian Assange opens the floodgates

Dominique Strauss-Kahn hops from parliament to parliament merrily

New Thessaloniki mayor is bent in attracting Turkish vacationers with a brand new mosque

and so on.

This is an interesting thing for me because I do not come up with the themes of these. They illustrate pieces written by independent editorial, with whom I must be in constant conversation. It's an interesting take of 'tell me what to draw' and I'm glad I did a bit of that in this blog before I went out to search for work, as it helped acclimatize me with editorial demands. I'm still working around the ethical conundrum of drawing some of this stuff, but I'll return to this subject in the future, when hopefully my opinion will have crystallized. It does serve as a great opportunity to sharpen both my skill at capturing likeness (dreadful) and my skill at colouring (beyond dreadful).

I do one piece for them a week, which allows for independent projects on the side. For the last month and a half I've been working for them, I have focused my free time in pursuits far from the drawing pad however. Writing about music and playing it as well. It seems I can't draw and then draw some more, easily. I'm sure when I have something important to say with pictures again, I'll do so. Colouring my last 24 hour comic is in the back burner for now.

This job will also finance the printing of the ZX comic, so there's that. And perhaps most importantly, this will be the first Christmas I'll be able to afford gifts for friends and family. I do not have a lot of protestant-esque pride in being a worker, much to the chagrin of other-minded family members, but there are certain advantages in having a modest income I do enjoy.

I'm not sure I should be posting the work I do for Epikaira as it's more-than-slightly outside the blog's scope. However it doesn't seem like I'll be doing more comics very soon, not until ZX is published, at least. The blog has been relatively quiet for a while, perhaps it's best to leave it like that until circumstance requires otherwise, no reason to force a semblance of activity. Those that must absolutely read Helmwords can migrate to Poetry of Subculture, which will remain more active.

If you're feeling some reticence over my newfound employment, you're right. I have doubts about many things and this year will be the one where I test some limits and make some informed (rather than imaginary) decisions on what I am to be. This sport is a costly one in currency of psychological wellbeing, I hope everything is going to be alright in the end.


Erenan said...

Congratulations on being paid for your work!

Honestly, I'm more interested in the ethical conundrum you mentioned than in the actual specific artwork you're creating. Of course, I'm always interested in seeing artwork, but it's the work of your own conception that is usually most interesting to me, such as the ZX comic.

I wish you well in your decision making.

Helm said...


Yeah I need to think about it more before I have anything to say on the ethics of the matter, but the gist of it is that I don't want to change the world. I have no anger left in me for the 'evils of the world'. I want to accept the outside and the inside and survive. This is an antithetical behavior to that which drives political commentators, where the conceit is that the masses must be *informed* so that some positive movement is achieved. I ain't got shit to inform any 'masses' about, personally. I hope you see the dynamic there.

At the same time, Helm has to eat.

JesusGun said...

Congratulations for your job.
I hope this job will lead you to a better future.
The illustrations are great. I almost understand that those images don't fit too much with the blog, but i thing it's shitty for us who admire your work, not to see them somehow.
Maybe you could upload a post with those illustrations, every some months.
Take care.

Griffith said...

dang. protestant-minded greeks?

pericles violently whirls in his grave. ("wealth we employ, not for talk and ostentation, but when there is a real use for it. to avow poverty with us is no disgrace.")

but maybe i'm just saying that cause i'm 25 and jobless.

on the color thing, i've been having the exact same problem, e.g., i suck coloring (no offense).

i've found a book that's helped called "color and light" by james gurney. it's a pretty distilled summary on the basics of...color and light... he also did a book called "imaginative realism" with a lot of complementary information.

(if you want to try before you buy, samples from both books are available on his blog, "gurneyjourney.blogspot" or something like that.)

there's also a guy named stapleton kearns who does a blog (mainly) about landscape painting, but he has some practical info about color and composition on there as well.


what i actually wanted to comment on was the epikaira pieces:

rightly or wrongly, i feel like--in terms of illustrative skills--i'm coming from the same base as you are. to put it obliquely, i thought i would be a better artist by now. so, at the risk of being rude, i'm gonna say the first thing that comes to mind looking at these:

you are a deliberate s.o.b.

it looks like you're inking and then adding color digitally(?), to which i can only say, get rid of the ink pen--destroy it! lock it up and use charcoal or a pencil or something messy, at least for practice.

for me, that's been the only way to progress at all. i'm a machine by nature. but, i came to the conclusion that laying down lines and marks in a mechanical, precise manner appealed to me not because it was a better way of working, but because of traits--or flaws--in my temperament. that's a subjective judgement for sure, but i'm throwing it your way on the off chance i'm right about us coming from similar places.

for me, it's been really beneficial to adopt a sketchier way of working and to just ignore polish altogether. obviously, that's not an option for your work stuff, but it could be a worthwhile avenue of exploration in your free time.

another potentially fruitful direction could be oil painting, since if forces you to abandon clean lines and work with planes and strokes.

just throwing it out there.

Helm said...

Jesusgun, thank you. I might post some stuff here and there. And I might post other art I make, like the oblique pixel art pieces I like to draw some times. And I might make some minicomics, I woke up in a better mood about that prospect, somehow.

Griffith, thank you for your thoughts and advice. You're right to a degree about your hunches on how I draw. The pieces I put up are not inked, they are pencil that's then coloured. Example:

My pencil work is highly reminiscent of my ink work here and not sketchier because I present the pencil piece for approval to my editor, so it has to be 'all there' pretty much. I then go home to digitally colour it. I spend about 4-5 hours on the pencil piece, then, it's difficult to not get a degree of finish in there in those hours, as I am a fast artist generally.

I then have a work day to colour the piece, and I spend all of it trying things in Manga Studio and Photoshop. Oil painting is disadvantageous for something like this, I have to work as fast as I can and still make -relatively- sound artistic choices. At the time frame I have it's impossible to use the pencil work just as a base and completely color over in a painterly style, I just do not have the time to discard art in this process.

I trust that in 6 months of this I'll have developed some new instincts on how to color and they might be good. So far, it's an uphill struggle. The Strauss-Kahn piece shows more the direction I'm going to go towards I think.

Griffith said...

the strauss-kahn piece is solid for sure. i'm looking forward to seeing where you go with this.

and, if you make any breakthroughs in understanding color theory, you should post them. as your work generally has a distinct personality anyway, i bet your solutions to coloring will end up equally interesting.

Argyle said...

No time to finish reading the post before I go back on the clock, but I think it's pretty rad that you're doing what your dad did when you were a kid. Wasn't he a political satire illustrator or something of that nature, if memory serves me?

Helm said...

Argyle, yes he (still) is. And you think it's cool, I think it's diverting from my focus and possibly dangerous psychologically, heh.

But, I have to eat.

kalio said...

Καλησπέρα Τηλέμαχε. Είμαι ο Δημήτρης, που γνωριστήκαμε στην έκθεση του Στάθη. Σήμερα κατάφερα και επισκέφτηκα το blog σου και έχω να πώ πως η δουλειά σου είναι πραγματικά υπέροχη! Καλή δύναμη και καλή συνέχεια εύχομαι! Σου στέλνω τη διεύθυνση του δικού μου blog.

Helm said...

Γεια σου Δημήτρη, τσέκαρα το μπλογκ σου και σου εύχομαι καλή συνέχεια και εγώ στον δικό σου χώρο :)

Sergio said...

Does "finance the printing of the ZX comic" mean you had no luck with publishers? I find it extremely hard to believe that none were interested...

Helm said...

It will be published professionally and it will reach bookstores and so on. I'm going to handle the printing costs and they're going to handle publicity and circulation, and we're going to split the profits and hopefully recoup our expenses.