Seeing life through the lens of a pin-up artist
Welcome to my blog. Let me share with you the how and the why I like to draw sexy images for a living.
What's uuuuup? I'm back!. Another year, another birthday. And I don't say that as in: "Oh, man, another birthday, that sucks!". No, not at all, I am happy to be able to write this. If you know me in person, I'm sure you've noticed that when it comes to me, happy doesn't mean that I'm jumping up and down... or even looking slightly excited. But I can honestly tell you that I am indeed happy :)
Exactly one year ago I posted a blog entry regarding my birthday (duh!). It was the big 4-0, time to look back and see what I had done, what I had accomplished. Now, I guess is time for the big 4-1? Nah, not really, but it's still a birthday, and I tend to look back every year, regardless of being a big "0" celebration or not.
So, where am I standing now compared to last year? Have I made any progress? Have I become stagnant? I can't tell you exactly where I am standing (really, who could?), but I can tell you that I definitely not became stagnant, and my progress, even though is never enough, is definitely there. One year ago I started to push my plans of improving my artwork and everything related to it a bit further. And even though it was a matter of following the momentum that started two years ago when I quit my day job, at the same time is more than just "following" that thread, but pushing instead.
The way I see myself when it comes to promoting my work and making it grow, is similar to rolling a wheel down the road. I could roll that wheel at the same speed all the way, and eventually reach my destination. But, where's the merit on that? No, I want to keep rolling that wheel, and once I'm comfortable with the current speed, then push it even harder, going faster until I can barely control it... and once I get comfortable with this new speed, then push it a bit harder again until I can barely control it again... and so on. By the way, this is an analogy, so please kids, don't start rolling wheels down the road, it could be dangerous. :)
The key is to keep yourself out of your comfort zone, to keep yourself hungry, looking for more, always having a thrill from your work. If we go back to the analogy of the rolling wheel, as I mentioned, if I keep pushing the wheel at the same speed, I will reach my goal eventually, I'm sure. But as many of you know: it's not about the destination, it's about the ride. Hell yeah!
So, if you check my work's evolution, not only from this year, but from the past decade, you'll see that I'm always at the point that I just mentioned, trying to push that wheel a bit harder and faster. Yes, sometimes is scary because I get myself into an "illustration mess" where I don't know if I can come out with my head high. Nevertheless, I have to say that most times I can, with a lot of patience and dedication, and that's what give ms the confidence to move forward when it comes to do artwork: keep trying, keep trying and your work will show it.
A great example of what I just mentioned in the last paragraph, are my two most recent pin-ups: Halloween and Day of the Dead. For the Halloween pin-up, the "pushing harder" part consisted not so much on rendering the details of the model, but instead trying to introduce a more elaborated background, even if it was just a little. Since I'm already comfortable rendering bodies and faces when it comes to models, you can say in a way that indeed is my comfort zone. I'm not saying that drawing/painting faces/bodies is just peanuts with no difficulty level. No, not at all, I still struggle to render them, especially the faces. What I'm saying is that I just don't sweat as much as before when it comes to draw them. So, a lot of the energy that I used to focus on rendering faces and bodies, now I can channel on designing/drawing a background that is a bit more detailed han my usual. And, I can truly say that it shows in the final product: the Halloween pin-up for this year turned out pretty good... at least that's what I think. :)
Now, the story of the Day of the Dead image of this year is a bit different from Halloween's. I can tell you this from the beginning: it did make me sweat. Well, in part that was due because this has been a warm Fall, but I sweat nevertheless. Even though I didn't create a very elaborated background, rendering the model herself was out of my comfort zone already, since I wanted to cover her in tattoos of symbols and letters, including her face, on top of also trying to change her skin tone. That was enough to fill my plate... or at least it would have been in previous times. However, this time I also wanted to render a nice background, incorporating elements that went well with the overall design: the sugar skulls, the "papel picado", the bread of the dead, etc. The difference this time regarding elements like those mentioned, is that I wanted them to be in part connected to the model, not just "floating" around her, like I would do with a pin-up that has no background. Needless to say, the task was harder than I expected, since I'm not really a "full illustration" artist, at least not in a regular basis. However, this is not a matter of doing what I always do, but instead trying something different. And so I did. And so I panicked. And so I screwed up again. And so I screwed up one more time. And so I panicked even more. And so... well, you get the idea. But at the end, the fore mentioned patience and dedication helped me find my way, and end up with an image that resonated big time through out my fans, my followers. I am indeed happy with result. Of course, you can be sure that I'll try to do it even better the next time. That's the way my mind thinks: always try to improve myself... and I love it! :)
Well, that's all I can say for now. I better go and celebrate my birthday, probably watching a movie, eating out somewhere, or something like that, something low key. The best gift I can get is the opportunity to stop, relax and look back, especially in a time when many days I feel like I don't get any rest. So, I'll take this day, my birthday, to relax, and enjoy a split-second break, so I can keep working, before taking my regular break of end-of-year in December. Thank you again for your wishes and of course, thank you for your support. I hope I didn't bore you to death with all this rambling... if I did, don't worry, there will be more :) Take care and see you next time!
Exactly one week ago, on September 19, 2017, I wrote a new blog entry. I started to write late that morning, and because I wanted to focus 100%, I stayed away from my social media, phone notifications, etc. A couple of hours later, I was done but before posting it, I decided to finally start checking on notifications from my social media. Almost immediately, I started to see trending topics about a Mexican earthquake. At first, I thought this trending was due to the anniversary of Mexico's earthquake of 1985, from exactly 32 years ago. However, it didn't take me long to realize that this wasn't any anniversary or remembrance news, but in fact, Mexico City had experienced a new devastating earthquake.
Out of respect, I decided not to post my blog entry at that moment, but instead to wait for a better time. Mexico's situation was unraveling right in front of the world to witness, and needless to say, the first days proved to be very hectic (to say the very least).
Here I am, one week later, ready to post what I wrote, hoping that the country where I was born and raised will keep healing. Oddly enough, what I wrote a week ago, even though I was unaware of what was going on in Mexico at that moment, is still relevant. In fact, it is more relevant than what I expected when I finished writing. I expressed my opinion about what it is to be Mexican and our character duality, that distinctive quality present as a common denominator all across the country. Seeing how Mexico reacted to this horrific chapter of our history ("it's time to help, anything else can wait"), and to realize the similarity of how it reacted 32 years ago, makes me feel more convinced of why Mexico is part of me... and I'll always be part of Mexico.
Below, my original post from one week ago. Thanks again for reading this. ¡Viva México!
Joy is a fundamental part of the idea of being Mexican, something that can be seen from an inside and outside point of view. The history of Mexico, as I mentioned, has been painful in many aspects from the very beginning. However, the attitude we as Mexicans have towards a harsh situation, is usually a very lighthearted one. Sometimes cynical, sometimes naive, sometimes optimistic, and sometimes witty, Mexicans ability to see the fun (and often funny) side of every situation might be our best surviving tool. Unfortunately, that same tool has been one of our biggest limitations, but that's a topic for another time.
This lighthearted attitude that I mentioned, takes me to the reason why I decided to render a second image this year. Remember I told you I would go back to explain it? Did you think I would forget? :) After I finished Lisa's image, I felt it really portrayed a lot of the feelings of pride (and pain) that have been embedded in Mexican culture for a very long time now. This painting in fact focused on that aspect and that aspect only, under a somehow dark tint (again, to reflect my vision of the current situation). But, what about that attribute of joy mentioned previously, which in my opinion is often a crucial part of being Mexican? I'm talking about that irreverent trait, always looking for the fun/funny aspect in our lives. I felt that I needed to portray that as well, because now more than ever, this surviving tool that I mentioned, is extremely necessary, to keep the spirits up. In a way, I needed some kind of balance regarding my portrayal of how I view my culture, my raising. That's the reason why I rendered a second image, the other side of the mirror.
So, for the second pin-up, I ended up rendering a very lighthearted image, that reflected many aspects of the culture: from the traditional elements of the "fiesta", like the piñata and the Mexican hat, as well as a mischievous Mexican model, Fernanda. And why is mischievous an important factor? Because that's a fundamental part of the Mexican culture anywhere, that irreverent trait that I mentioned before: the play on words, the double meaning, the intended puns, the self-poking fun, etc. Again: mischievousness (or "picardía" to stay true to the Mexican meaning).
I see the second pin-up as a contrast, as a mirror view of the first one. Not necessarily as a light and dark aspect, but I guess more like a Ying Yang concept. When it comes to describing the Mexican culture (as a whole notion, not individually), it can be done by the factors of pain/pride and joy/mischievousness. I feel like I accomplished what I wanted to illustrate, not only on concept, but also technique. What can I say? I see myself as the Mexican I am, and that makes me want to keep pushing forward... which reflects directly on my artwork. It's worth noting that for years now, the Mexican Independence Day pin-up has been the spearhead when it comes to the improvement of my artwork. Every year I try to walk the extra mile rendering this image, and that sets the pace for subsequent work... until the next year. This year was not the exception.
Thank you for reading this rambling of mine. I hope it allows you to see a bit more of what's inside this scrambled mind of mine. As always, I invite you to leave your comment and/or your Like. The Mexican Independence Day pin-up... well, pin-ups, for this year are finished, and that itself is a reason to celebrate.... while still pushing forward, of course. See you next time!
Pin-up artist by day… and also by night. Well, mostly by night, because that's when I love to draw the best.