Saturday, July 04, 2015

Sketches

Some sketches I did last night and this morning, using old photographs as reference pictures.









Friday, July 03, 2015

Susivainaa

Illustration and layout for Susivainaa debut album, released today. Go get your copy from here.











Wednesday, June 24, 2015

About the graphic novel

Years ago when I tried to draw my first graphic novel, my research for the story was next to nothing. I just started to write and draw a lovecraftian horror story situated in the early 20th century English countryside, with no actual knowledge how the clothes, or buildings or anything looked like. Just the images I had in my head, my world, my assumptions, my feelings. I tried to draw the story just like I had did my individual pictures before, drawing everything from my inner world and thoughts. It had worked for me before, why wouldn't it work now, I thought.

But that's not the way you do a graphic novel that is supposed to be situated in a real world and to have some kind of historic accuracy. That's not the way you do things at all.




So when I started to think again that I should draw a graphic novel, it was very clear in my head that you do research for your story, you do a lot of research for the story and even more research for the artwork.

Last Autumn, when I was in Edinburgh, Scotland for a month, I started to write a story about the viking invasions in Britain and Scotland and did research for it; spending time in the Edinburgh library going through books of the subject, visiting actual historic sites and photographing them and nature of Scotland and visiting museums. And I had a quite a lot of knowledge of Norse mythology before, so there was a story developing in my head, about the clash of different religions in the times of viking invasions, old Norse gods, the Christianity of Scotland and of course the old pagan religions of Celts and not forget the Picts either. I continued my research and writing of the story when I got back home.

But still the whole subject was quite new for me, and I was thinking what is the subject I know best? Was there something I already had a good basic knowledge of, so that I wouldn't have to start from nothing? The answer was quite obvious. Since childhood, I have always been interested of North American Indians. If there is one subject in history I know best, it's that. I've read every book of the subject I got my hands on, watched every Western movie, read every comic book which had Indians in the stories and was always irritated by the factual errors and the stereotypical and erroneous portrayal of native Americans in popular culture. And since my childhood and youth, my knowledge of the history of native Americans has just grown deeper. So why wouldn't I do  my graphic novel about them? Why wouldn't I write a story that would try to avoid all the stupid cliches and errors so many of the Western movies and comics are full of?

The only doubt or objection I got from myself was about the artwork. In my head the artwork of a Western graphic novel has to be very realistic, way more realistic than I can draw. Maybe that's why I didn' before give it another thought that I would draw a Western. My head was so full of the amazing images by the comic artist like Giovanni Ticci, Jean Giraud and Corrado Mastantuono that I just couldn't see any other way to draw a Western comics.

But that would be just another petty excuse, not to do something because comparing to someone else I wouldn't be good enough. Why would I need to be able to draw like Ticci or Giraud, why admiring and enjoying their work would lessen the value my own work?

And concerning the artwork, wasn't one reason behind for this whole graphic novel idea to force myself to learn to draw better, and get me out of my comfort zone, to challenge myself to do something new? So there is no reasons not to do this.

From now on this blog will be filled with lots of sketches for the graphic novel. I'm not planning to draw even one panel of the final story in the first year of this project, I've learned from my mistakes. First I do a lot of research and writing, a lot of sketches of everything and then I'm drawing a couple of shorter stories to get the artwork right.

For the past months, my thoughts have been mostly in the 19th century Great Plains with the Lakota and Cheyenne and I'm planning to spent more and more time there. I'll try to get you all there too.









Monday, May 11, 2015

A new project

I had this funny feeling a couple of days ago, that there was no hurry. The exhibition at Laterna Magica was ready and that ment the constant voice in the back of my head saying "you should be working with the assemblages for your exhibition" was gone.

There is no other big (or small) art project at the moment I should be doing, and there is no hurry neither in the commissioned jobs department, just some basic graphic design and illustrations that I'm doing, nothing big to stress about.

So there is no hurry at the moment. And it feels great. Life is at ease. I have a big plan to try to keep it that way. Do less, and what you do, you do it better.

But of course after some big projects, the next thing is facing The Void. What to do with all this time I suddenly have, what was the thing called free-time and what you do with that? What now?

Well, the answer is quite simple, you start a new project. New big project that will last at least couple of years and means a lot of work.
Great! Can't wait, when do I start!?


For a long time, at least a couple of years, I have had this annoying feeling that I have kind of gotten stuck with my drawing. That I'm not going anywhere, I'm not getting better, I'm not finding new things, I'm just stuck to same things that I already know. I'm not evolving. And also that I have had so little time to draw, no wonder I'm not getting any better. But also the things that I have drawn, I'm done with those reasons and motives behind the drawings, I have no desire to repeat the same things, especially when the feeling is gone. My life has changed considerably during the last two years, it's quite natural that my drawings and my art also reflects that. Or it would reflect it if I would have more time for it.

My life has changed, so will change the things I want to express through my art. It's time to abandon the old and start something new.

But the new thing that I'm thinking of starting is actually an old thing. There was a time (7-8 years ago) when I thought I would do sequential art. Comics and sequential art has always been a very important for me, and more than anything I wanted to write and draw comics and graphic novels by myself too. I thought I could do it. At that time my experience of actually doing comics was one panel comic strip (one might ask that is one panel even sequential art, where's the sequense, there's only one panel) that was published in a newspaper once a week (for about two and a half years). I got my first grant money as an artist also that time, and it was for drawing a graphic novel. I was proud, surprised, and eager. I can do what I want and also got funding for it. Everything was great. Except it wasn't.

I didn't know shit about doing a graphic novel. My time schedule and deadline was ridicilous, my methods of writing the story were ridicilous, my drawing skills were also ridicilously bad. I had set myself totally unrealistic and unforgiving goals. What else could have I done than to fail utterly, there was no other way it could have gone. I got depressed; I failed, I wasn't any good, I couldn't do it, I had let down the people who had believed in me by funding my unrealistic and naive plans to write and draw a graphic novel, for that I was also ashamed.

After some time I just gave up the idea of doing my own graphic novel. I was thinking that I have to learn to draw better before I could try again, I'd have to learn a lot more about writing too. Through the years the word comics has always popped out when people are discussing with me about my drawings, I get constantly asked that "Have you drawn any comics" and my answer has always been "No, not actually, but one day I will". But the idea of actually doing it has been quite far away and forgotten for a long time, and I haven't been thinking it at all.

But now, for some reason, for a couple of months, the idea has been growing in my head. To try again. With totally different approach than before.

I think the biggest reason for my decision to do a graphic novel now, is because I think that it is one of the best ways to force myself out of my comfort zone, and it forces me to develop my drawing style a lot, to go forward and away from the old. And to learn, learn away from the same old things that you know that works and then you are stuck with them, never figuring anything new.

So this is a project for me to start drawing again, a lot more than I have been doing the last couple of years, and to push my drawing style forward. And of course to accomplish to do my own graphic novel, the thing I have wanted to do a very long time.

I've learned from the past mistakes and aim to do things differently this time, not rushing things, allowing myself also time to experiment. And to do research. A lot of it. To actually base my drawing and writing on research, once again something I didn't do before.

Of course this project will not be the only thing that I'm going to do for the next years, there will be  illustrations and other commissioned jobs as normally and most definetly some smaller art projects. But this will be something that I will be working constantly, this will be something that requires a lot of attention, and it's aim is to teach me also some patience with my working methods. From now on I will be posting a lot of sketches on this blog, because that's what I have to do huge amounts, sketching all the things I need to draw for my story and to develop my drawing style. Sketching has been something that I have kind of forgotten in the past years, maybe because of the lack of time, but I have develop this stupid way of making drawings, that every picture I start to make has to go through and be finished, no time to do ten skeches and play with different ideas and approaches. This is something I want to unlearn, and to go back to sketching a lot, without the need to finish every piece I start to draw. I don't see any other way my drawing could develop than letting myself have more time to draw, sketch, and to experiment with no rush.

The no rush part is a crucial thing. The commissioned illustrations force you to work efficiently and relatively fast, there is no room or time or money to experiment so much, you do what you know that works, and finish the thing. I'm quite sure that I've picked this bad habit of not letting myself to experiment on my own drawings where there is no dealines from the illustration work I've done. So no deadlines for this graphic novel project, or just a very loose one, at least 2 years before it's finished, probably more. But I have no hurry, just want to do it right this time, and to do as good work I can manage.

I hope you are still following this blog despite the decline in posting frequency in the past years. But from now on, it seems I have a lot more time to do what I want to do the most; to draw. And that meens also much more content in this blog.