I have a lot of friends and acquaintances who really like some designs I do. And they’ve asked (sometimes urged) that I make these designs into a T-shirt.
Thing is, though, is that actually designing a T-shirt and getting it printed takes a lot of time – and it’s not something I wanna do for the poops and/or giggles.
If I’m gonna’ make a T-shirt, I’m not doing it for free, ya’ dig?
But I also don’t wanna’ get bulk orders of 1000 T-shirts. A LOT of shirt printers will do this: their machines are only set up to print off designs in bulk. I just don’t have the storage space to house 1000 T-shirts that I’m not wearing.
I DO know a handful of printers who can print 1 to 10 shirts at a time, though.
So I thought, “What if I started offering to make custom T-shirts for people?”
This idea also came from a Vlogbrothers video, in which Hank Green has a shirt that says, “Don’t Talk To Me About My T-Shirt or I’ll Put Forks in You.” A Nerdfigher designed and printed the shirt for him, and it’s the only shirt in existence. That design was (to my knowledge) not mass produced.
I saw that, and I was like, “I could do that!”
The big issue would be pricing these shirts, and I imagine this is where people would get turned off by it.
Just by my rough math, a custom, one-of-a-kind “Fork-In-You” quality individual shirt would cost:
One of the commission rates for the design – likely $25 for a black and white design, $60 for the color.
$10 for the shirt itself.
$10 shipping and handling.
I don’t know about you, but I’m not sure I know anybody who would be ok with forking over $80 at most (or $45 at least) for a single custom T-shirt. Even if they knew they would be the only person on Earth with that specific design.
A long while ago I wrote a post about my inspirations. Some of those still hold true (looking at you, Paprika). Some, however, have moved to the shelf so I can focus on some new inspirations.
Here’s what been getting my creative juices flowing recently:
KINGDOM HEARTS 3
I loved this series as a teenager. Then I hated it. Now I’m back to enjoying it.
This series is NOT flawless. But it’s like a cup of tea with a bar of chocolate: the best self-indulgence you can get without thinking too hard about it.
Really, the series is at its best when you’re not thinking about the plot. Though, as SuperButterBuns put it, the plot isn’t that confusing: it’s just a lot to remember.
(I also do the Crash Bandicoot logic of boss fights, in that the bosses in the previous games didn’t “die.” They were just defeated once and then came back for Kingdom Hearts 3.)
So what about Kingdom Hearts 3 has been getting me inspired? Well, I’d be lying if I said anything other than “The Organization.”
Or seeing Woody from Toy Story tell one of the Organization members to piss off. That scene gave me SO MUCH LIFE.
Also, Kingdom Hearts fans will get this reference: Yeetas Vanitas.
There’s tons of silly, charming character moments in Kingdom Hearts 3 in particular. Is the voice acting as good as the Union Cross: Back Cover movie? Nope. But the character banter is on point, more so in this game than in any other Kingdom Hearts installment.
And, well, the Organization and the mystery behind each member just intrigues the hell out of me. Not to mention that the characters themselves make good warm-up sketching material. Every character looks and acts differently. And I appreciate that.
Ok, I’ll move on to the next piece of inspiration before I gush anymore:
FULLMETAL ALCHEMIST: BROTHERHOOD
From Kingdom Hearts’ absolutely bonkers plot to a story with a damn-near flawless plot. Yes, FullMetal Alchemist: Brotherhood’s story is so expertly woven that it’s really McFreaking Hard for me to find a fault with it anyplace.
Every character has a purpose. Every motivation makes sense. And the action of this series is driven by the motives of the characters, not some invisible hand dragging them by the nose under plot contrivance.
Also, much like Kingdom Hearts, the character designs for FullMetal are just superb.
Really, though, it’s the writing and how the story moves forward that’s been inspiring me the most. It makes me want to write.
I doubt I will ever write anything like Brotherhood. But it gives me something to aspire to, and a benchmark to look at whenever I lose focus.
Above anything else, the humor (and one other thing) of this series has been inspiring me the most lately.
The other day I was marathoning this show in the background while I was doing studio work. And yet the show still makes me laugh, even when I’m not watching it directly.
There’s a soft spot in my heart for any character who fulfills the Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass trope well, and Vash the Stampede is the best embodiment of this trope.
Also, the very first episode of this show is the best introductory episode of any anime I have seen thus far. Period. Don’t believe me? Watch it for yourself. You’re welcome.
Did you know Studio Ghibli (yes, THAT Studio Ghibli) did the animation of some episodes of Trigun? When I learned that, it blew my damn mind.
This is also another series with some damn good writing to it. But for a different reason: FullMetal’s focus was on the characters and motivation. Trigun’s focus in the writing is on the world-building, and Vash’s connection to it.
Once you see the conclusion of Trigun, you will realize there’s no other story like it. And that’s what inspires me.
That’s all for now. I’m gonna’ get back to drawing.
Thank you for reading!
You. Are. Awesome.
P.S. Another fun fact that blew my mind: the English voice actor for Xemnas in Kingdom Hearts also did the voice of Detective Konakawa in Paprika. Now I can’t look at Xemnas half the time without thinking about Konakawa’s dream antics.
I’ve had a Tumblr blog for I don’t know how long exactly. But how I’ve used it has always been a mixed bag.
Lately I’ve discovered the secret (or what I think is the secret) to Tumblr and using it successfully. But before I get to that, I want to make a quick statement of what doesn’t really work on that site…
At least, in my experience.
KickStarter announcements – maybe just don’t share a link to your KickStarter campaign in a post on Tumblr. In my experience, those posts only get a lot of traction AFTER the campaign has ended. And that defeats the purpose of the whole process.
Original Art – this has always been a mixed bag. I don’t really know (personally) any artist who has made posting original illustrations on Tumblr popular. Comics? Maybe. Anthro art? Depends on the crowd. But original characters and comic concepts? Practically dead in the water upon arrival.
Social Justice posts – I know Tumblr has garnered a reputation for “filthy SJWs to make echo chambers” on the site, but actually no – that’s Twitter. The most common issue I see on Tumblr whenever someone tries to make a social justice-related post is someone retorting with a fact-check…or something that they THINK is a fact-check. To be honest, I have a side blog on Tumblr specifically for reblogging social justice-related posts, and those don’t get a whole ton of attention.
Here’s what DOES get attention in my experience:
Tumblr. Is a Site. For Fans.
Archive Of Our Own Fanfiction links? EVERYWHERE. Fanart of video games characters? CONTENT FOR DAYS. Posts dedicated to headcanons (or stuff that a fan made up that may or may not have a basis in the actual content, but they think would work in the official canon)? THERE ARE ENTIRE BLOGS FOR THIS SH*T. And these blogs can even be categorized as ones that are safe for work, or not safe for work.
I came to this realization fairly recently – and also because, of all the posts of my artwork that have gotten popular on my Tumblr blog, the most popular art posts are fanart.
There’s nothing wrong with a site dedicated to fandom. I think it’s great. Sites like Archive of Our Own are a testament to that.
But if you’re an original content creator looking to promote your work? Tumblr is not for you. Tumblr is a site for fans.
(If you’re making a fancomic, though, it’s something to consider).
To that end, I’ve been restructuring my Tumblr blog so that it IS based more in me geeking out about the content I like. So if you want to geek out with me, go check out the re-named blog.
I’ll be blunt – I have generalized anxiety disorder.
It’s not that people make me go, “Oh no I said the wrong thing they’re gonna’ hate me etc.” That’s social anxiety. I don’t have that. I do not fear making a dang fool of myself in front of other people.
No. My anxiety stems more from future-based thinking. Specifically, I’m REALLY good at worst-case scenarios. And my trigger for cooking up worst-case scenarios is getting a bit of unexpected (especially bad) news.
I currently rent my house from my mom while she and her boyfriend do the RV-lifestyle thing. And,
Mom said (at the time of the video) that she was looking to sell the house I’m currently renting within the next year.
She has since changed her timeline and decided the house won’t be listed for 2 to 3 years at the soonest. But when I first got the news, when she told me the 1-year plan, my anxiety kicked into High Time Worst-Case Scenario Cooking Mode.
That, coupled with dealing with my emotions around the death of my grandfather at the beginning of the year – and those feelings resurfacing because we sold/auctioned off the estate – meant that I was in Emotional Shutdown.
So there was a period where I took 4 days off of EVERYTHING in order to take care of myself. No studio work. No side hustles. No freelance. Nothing.
And in that four day period, and in the days after, I had a realization.
The thing is, I’ve made drawing and making art my full-time thing. Drawing and making art is what pays my rent, my groceries, and basically everything else. I do not regret making my art be able to do this, and I’m proud of the fact that my art can do this.
There are a lot of self-care guides out there that recommend that people “make art” as part of taking care of themselves and having time to relax.
Let me be clear: I do make art for self-care, as well as for work. It’s just that the art I make for self-care is VERY different from the art I make for work.
I love comics. Otherwise I wouldn’t have made it my job.
But when I’m in Emotional Shutdown Mode, I do not draw comics. That’s work. Instead, I crochet. I bake. I paint. I do anything but make comics.
Most importantly, I discovered – when I take care of myself, I WRITE.
I’ve been writing so god-diddly-dang much these past two weeks, but not on email newsletters or comic scripts or blog posts.
I write stories.
(Granted, the one story I’ve been writing for self-care purposes is fan-fiction, but it still counts as writing. The act of writing, whether fan-fiction or not, is an act of practicing the skill.)
Do all of these stories I write for self-care become comics I make? God no. Especially the fan-fiction. That shit is for ME.
But for some reason, writing is the catharsis that makes me less angsty. It is the thing that stops the Emotional Shutdown train of thought. And it is the first thing I turn to whenever I feel the Worst-Case-Scenario-Cooking Mode begin.
If you’re an artist, I hope this helps you get some ideas of what you can do for your own self-care. Yes, making art is great. Making art for a living is even better. But you don’t have to be making art all the time in order to be valid.
It’s ok to take time for yourself. And it’s ok if taking care of yourself looks like something besides making art. You have permission to not make art in order to take care of yourself.
Yes, I finally got a copy of Kingdom Hearts 3 and started playing it recently. (Don’t spoil anything! I’m still only one world into the game).
Kingdom Hearts is a game series I have a lot of fondness for in my heart, despite all of its issues. It was the series that convinced my teenage self that video games could be an art form because it prompted SO MANY FEELINGS (instead of just rage and frustration at the mechanics of whatever game I was playing).
This was the series that helped me get through high school. Not just because of its cool game-play or its silly character moments, but also because of the fandom.
Yes, I was one of those fans who giggled at the idea of rearranging Xemnas’ name into “Mansex.” Who loved all the crack comics comparing Saix to a puppy and having Demyx and Roxas use a laser pointer to torture him. I even devoured so many hours of a video series called “The Stupid Files” where a fan with a LOT of time on their hands spliced comedic audio samples over Kingdom Hearts cutscene footage. It was like a precursor to all the abridged anime series’ out now.
Kingdom Hearts as a game series has a LOT of issues. I am not a fan of the fact that the spin-off titles, or “interquels,” change the core mechanics of the gameplay. I did not like the card system of Chain of Memories, but I ESPECIALLY hated the Tetris-inventory mechanics of 358/2 Days. I could not finish either of those games because of those gameplay mechanics.
As a fan of the series, I feel like a lot of those in-between games could have just been made into movies and be JUST as effective. Most fans of Kingdom Hearts I know only ever watch the cutscenes of the side games and play just the anchor games (the anchors being games 1, 2, and now 3).
That’s the thing that being a fan of Kingdom Hearts has taught me: that you don’t have to consume EVERY FACET of a property to be a big dork for the thing.
I will never play the interquel games. At most, I will watch the cutscenes. Heck, you can watch videos on YouTube summarizing the lore of Kingdom Hearts so far and – ta-da – you’re now caught up to the series without having to touch any of the crap side games.
(358/2 Days, why did you have to SUCK?)
That said, I’ve been playing Kingdom Hearts 3 so far – on Proud mode! I haven’t touched a new video game in 13 years and I can play Kingdom Hearts 3 on Proud Mode without dying. That…actually might be more a statement on the game’s difficulty than on my expertise. But that aside…
Playing Kingdom Hearts 3 reminded me why I love this game series in the first place. It’s fun to play (at least the anchor games are). The characters are stilted but they’re still fun. The dialogue is cheesy but it works. And GOOD GOLLY JEEZ, the fact that you can play as a character interacting in Disney worlds is great. I’m looking forward to the Toy Story world the most because those were some of my favorite movies as a kid.
It’s a game series made for people who are young at heart, who need a little light to combat all the cynicism and self-awareness that the video game industry is saturated in. And thank goodness for that.
That’s all I’m going to write for now. I could talk for days about this series.