Saturday, May 11, 2019

A Love Story

An idea I'd been tossing around for a while that I finally realized as a mini-comic. Enjoy A Love Story!







I've got a few printed copies, too, and I love how they came out. If you're interested in one, let me know!

Monday, March 25, 2019

Garbage Baby: A Fan Awakens

I recently announced my impending Star Wars fan zine...and the day has come where it's officially released! Introducing Garbage Baby: A Fan Awakens
 If you'd told me a year and a half ago that I'd be releasing a Star Wars fan zine in 2019, I would have LAUGHED. At that point in my life I'd seen exactly one (1) Star Wars movie. Oh, how things have changed.
 Garbage Baby: A Fan Awakens is saddle stitch bound with EDGY RED staples, because of course it is.
WHITE PEARL SHIMMER CARDSTOCK COVER? Why not! Only the best for GARBAGE BABY.
Now here's what you really came for: more previews.


 
Available now! Buy a physical copy on Etsy (or from me in person - I'll be at Camden Comic Con in a few weeks) or download the PDF on Gumroad.

New Facebook Page

So after literally WEEKS of attempting to rename and merge my two Facebook pages (Pookie Pixels and Handmade Cards by Amanda), I've officially given up. I did everything Facebook wanted, including posting about the "rebranding*" on my official website. And despite everything, every appeal was denied. As far as I'm concerned, it wasn't worth the headache anymore.

So I've launched a NEW page, where I'll be representing my creative endeavors from here on out. I'll be updating my site to reflect the new link shortly. The lack-of-merging on Facebook's end means I lose all my previous Followers and Likes. Which sucks. So I'd appreciate any Likes you send my way!

*Is it really a "rebrand" if Pook Nero is my artist handle literally everywhere else outside of Facebook?

I don't have any art to contribute today, so here's a picture of my mothering the hell out of some baby alligators.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Rebranding Announcement (and BONUS Star Wars mini-comic)

Enjoy these Star Wars mini-comics from my upcoming zine, Garbage Baby: A Fan Awakens as tax for the unfortunately necessary but boring rant/explanation below! Look forward to a post about Garbage Baby soon! The announcement following doesn't concern this site, but my Facebook page, a hold over from previous branding.


 
I've been trying to "consolidate my brand" as an artist over the past few months. I've been all over the place over the years, with Etsy shops and Facebook pages under both Pookie Pixels and Handmade Cards by Amanda. But the problem with that was that I was only posting a piece of myself at each place...just one aspect of what I do. It left me spread thin between various sites and blogs.

I launched this site under my artist name, Pook Nero, so that I could post ANYTHING here. Cards, jewelry, comics, fan art, writing. Any creative project by me, Pook Nero, the artist.  For more about why I chose Pook Nero as my artist name, you can check out my newly updated About Me page.

Today, most of my branding is in line: My Deviant Art, Etsy, tumblr, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram all have the same name (pooknero). The final holdout is Facebook.

I currently have Pages under both Pookie Pixels and Handmade Cards by Amanda. I plan to merge them and get my Page renamed to Pook Nero if possible. This way, all of my branding, everywhere, will be in line. My goal is to post all of my art in one place, to make it easier for fans to actually find my work. My initial name change request on Facebook was too dissimilar to be approved. I filed an appeal, but  have been prompted to provide an official press release about the name change. I hadn't released anything because the name had already been changed everywhere else, or had only ever been Pook Nero elsewhere, so it didn't make sense to announce anything. But regardless, here I am announcing that I'm FINALLY attempting to get my brand together!

Thanks for reading, if you did, and I hope you enjoyed this preview of Garbage Baby.

Monday, March 4, 2019

GRAGGULAX

Rachel Bard (a.k.a. the Queen of Mini-Comics) and I have joined forces to release a story together! BEHOLD GRAGGULAX!
It's a mini-comic composed of TWO parallel stories with TWO adorable covers. I did the writing, and Rachel did the heavy lifting (character design, art, book layout, literally everything else). 

It's a tale about perspective and faith and cute aliens and the (maybe) existence of GRAGGULAX, an omnipotent space being. It's just super fantastic and I'm so happy with it. I am sad to report, however, that there were no Snorpvivors. R.I.P. Snorps.

If you'd like to pick up a copy, they're currently for sale at Challengers in Chicago. I also stock copies and will be selling them at Camden Comic Con 2019 (currently my only scheduled event this year--don't miss it!).

If you're not local to Chicago or NJ, I'm sure they'll likely be available soon on Rachel's Etsy. While you're there, check out her other amazing works! She's like, so freakin' amazing. Good job being awesome, Rachel. 


Saturday, March 2, 2019

No Elle Doodles

If you haven't downloaded my novella, No Elle, for free from Gumroad, it's almost done posting on Tapas! Only a few more days until the end. So that said, here's some doodles! Be warned: they contain spoilers.

 The one above goes along with Chapter Two. Vee (left) is giving Noel (right) some arguably bad advice.



Tomie is not amused with Emile in Chapter Five. She's the Mom Friend and I love her.
In Chapter Six, **SHRIMP SHOWDOWN SPOILERS** Vee's new girlfriend, Liz, ends up winning an arm wrestling competition. She gives Vee the prize (the last cocktail shrimp).
In Chapter Fourteen, Noel and her boyfriend Emile take a trip to the Poconos. She ends up not caring for camping or hiking.

Chapter Fifteen, which is my favorite of the whole story, sees  Noel and Emile at a Poconos Honeymoon Resort. They end up having a blast, and they get matching commemorative booty shorts.

There's also a doodle based on a scene from Chapter Thriteen over at my marker comparison post. Vee and Liz mention their interest in getting a chameleon together--which signifies how serious their relationship is.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Why I stopped selling beaded bracelets.

In 2012, I began making and selling loom beaded bracelets under the Etsy shop name Pookie Pixels. I got into the hobby because I liked pixel art and was looking for a way I could replicate it in the real world. With perfect consistently sized Delica seed beads and the grid of a loom, it was just what I was looking for to get that pixel look.
Was my first project suitable for a beginner? ABSOLUTELY NOT. I, being a big Doctor Who fan at at time, decided to make my first ever beading project a massive bracelet consisting of over 1,400 beads. I wanted to die. But the bracelet came out awesome! Surely other people would want these, right?

I made more designs. I made a lot of fanart. I'm still really proud of these. They were beautiful. I branded myself as Pookie Pixels and tabled at Otakon back in 2012. But right away I noticed a problem.

And that problem was that virtually all of the people who liked them couldn't afford to pay what they're worth. The materials are relatively cheap. But to get the art right, you need a LOT of colors on hand, and that cost adds up quickly. Most of my patterns required 10+ bead colors. All of my designs required two different types of thread. I needed needles and needle threaders and findings and strong glue to hold the knots. And when you factor in how much time it takes to make one of these...
Every single one of these beads has to be threaded individually onto a needle. And then pressed into place and stitched back over. And when that was done, you had to weave the needle back in to knot off the thread ends as subtly as possible. Multiple times, so that it wouldn't unravel.
And once you're done with the beading portion, you still have to attach a clasp somehow. Every warp thread had to be pulled through a seed bead and bead tip with a needle threading tool. Then I knotted off twice (for each clam shell bead tip) and glued for security before trimming and clamping. And only then can you begin to attach the clasps. And most of my designs needed at least two clasps.

The time required to make a bracelet was....let's just say tremendous is not a generous enough choice of words. I did sell quite a few, but the effort it took to market and create them while also working a full time job was just not sustainable for me.

 Let's break it down.
Very conservatively, I might have spent $7-$10 on materials per bracelet.
If I can only sell that bracelet for $25-$35 tops, and each bracelet can take maybe 4 hours of labor to complete...I wasn't even making minimum wage.

I slowly but surely began to lose interest. My product was selling at a loss. I get it--people don't have the money laying around to drop $50 on a bracelet, no matter how pretty it is. I'm also not the kind of person who would ever spend $50 on a bracelet.

I've kept all my supplies. It's a fun hobby, but I think my days selling these bracelets are over. I even recently rebranded my Etsy shop from PookiePixels to PookNero.

To all you beaders out there, working hard with sore, calloused fingers...you have my love and upmost respect!

Saturday, February 2, 2019

Christmas in...February?

As I was cleaning out my desk, I stumbled upon my digital camera. And WHOOPS I just remembered what was on it: pictures of my 2018 Xmas cards that I never posted online. Uh....better late than never?


This was probably my favorite of the designs. It features washi tape, shimmer spray, and the snowflake dies I impulse bought and was DAMNED sure going to use this year at every available opportunity. Here's some detail shots.

I really liked how the shimmer popped against the gray background.
Next I did a set of snowflake cards accented with green or red.



The embossing was inspired by my desire to not have to actually glue down any intricate die-cut snowflakes. I avoided it in the first cards by using the negative space from the dies...clever, right? Work smarter, not harder, am I right? And here's some details on this set...

I arbitrarily used embossed or debossed patterns for the cards, depending on what I thought looked best. Each card was soaked in a tremendous amount of shimmer spray. It reminded me of Jim Henson's Labyrinth. I loved it!

There was one more card that I forgot to get pics of before I gave it away....whoops? I'm like literally the worst content creator ever, I swear. BUT I found a pic I was able to swipe from Facebook chat. Ignore my messy desk in the background. It's still messy, and I'm not sorry about it. It's...part of the creative process.

Well, hope you still have enough Christmas spirit left to appreciate this incredibly late holiday post!


Saturday, January 5, 2019

Skin Tone Marker Comparison

I talked about doing this nearly a year ago and it totally slipped my mind. Oops?

Around a year ago, I kind of...went on a marker buying spree and eventually bought THREE different skin tone sets of alcohol markers. So which one was the best value? Last week, I drew some lineart so that I could color it once with each set to compare. I drew Vee and her girlfriend Liz, character from my novella No Elle. I picked them because Vee has light brown skin and Liz has freckles, so I wanted to see how each set could capture that.

I attempted to record a video of me coloring these, but my software kept crashing, and I don't have the patience to edit into something watchable. So you get a blog post instead.

First up we have the Bianyo skin tone set. This set had more markers than the other three, BUT one was a colorless blender, and one was black. Some of the markers are...not what I'd call skin tones (Y503 and Y703 are VERY much orange), but the others are great. You can get a wide range of skin tones, from dark browns, to light browns, to pale peach, using this set. Overall, I'd say this set is a great addition to the 72-marker set of Bianyo brush tips. There are some repeats between the sets, but I don't mind as they're all colors I find myself using pretty frequently. I love and use this set frequently. The colors are all pleasing and useful. I highly recommend them to someone who doesn't want to splurge on Copics.

Bianyo Pros:
  • Brush tip alcohol markers 
  • Good value
  • Nice, functional case
  • Widest range of colors in the set
  • Nice blush colors included
  • Colors lay down and layer very smoothly
Bianyo Cons:
  • No refillable
  • Some repeated colors from 72-set
Next up is the Art-n-Fly marker set. This is a 6-marker set and I think you'll see right away what my problem with it is: there are too many similar colors. It makes shading hard, unless you have other sets to supplement. The colors are also not as pleasing as the Bianyo set in my opinion, the darker colors all have yellow undertones that reminds me of fake tans. You can't get as much variation with this set as you can with the other sets. But unlike the Bianyo markers, these ones can be refilled. This adds to their value. My set did arrive kind of dry, and so they don't lay down quite as smoothly. As I'm not the biggest fan of the color selection, I probably won't bother to refill them when they run out.

Art-n-Fly Pros:
  • Brush tip alcohol markers
  • Refillable
  • Good value
  • Quality of ink comparable to Copics
Art-n-Fly Cons:
  • Many similar colors (109BR, 27YR, and 29YR are almost identical)
  • No blush color included in the set 
And finally, the Copic Ciao markers. As is expected of the Copic brand, the quality is excellent. Like Art-n-Fly, this is a 6-marker set. Unlike the Art-n-Fly, this set proves that six colors can still be very versatile. There's a good selection of light, medium, and dark tones. E93 can also be used as a blush color.

Copic Pros:
  • Brush tip alcohol markers
  • Refillable
  • Good color selection, can be used for varied skin tones
  • Good ink quality
  • Blush color included
Copic Cons:
  • Price

Final thoughts? The Bianyo set is my favorite. You get a lot of bang for your buck, considering you get twice the markers as the Copic Ciao set for roughly the same price. If only they were refillable! The Copic set is excellent, and I still use it often. It was a gateway drug that eventually led to the Great Copic Purchase of Summer '18. As an artist who prefers alcohol markers, the Copics are a solid investment for me. If you're just starting out or buying a gift for a young artist, I can't recommend Bianyo highly enough.
Above is the same lineart, colored using my full collection of Copic Ciao markers.