A second design for the anonyfous character.
Fion is another one of our characters for yet another one of our stories that we are writing, and co-created with a neighbor of ours during our time in Portland. She is the protagonist of the story and is pampered by her father. This illustration is of her dressed up by her father for a photo shoot.
Chihiro is rather skilled with a crow quill pen and ink. It has always amazed me how she can get such thin, stable lines and bring out detail through the tedious and patient process of drawing line after line to create hair, shadow, or light. Here is an example of a drawing that she did using such a tool.
The process of character creation has always been interesting to me. I enjoy the slow process of sketching out an array of possible designs for the same character and whittling them down or merging them together to birth a new character. Then as the personality is refined, frequently so too is the costume and appearance of the character. Reiteration after reiteration
At least, this is what character creation seems to be to me, maybe not everyone. Indeed.
Below is a character drawn up and colored by Chihiro. She is a character from one of our many stories that we have thought up over the years. This drawing is one of many costume designs that Chihiro came up with for this character, dubbed Thousand Claw, and perhaps it is closer to a final design.
I looked back through some of Chihiro’s drawings and found a few gems, or perhaps images worth note. I thought why keep these hidden from view, so I will post these images from time to time until new illustrations are finished.
On my little music player full of digital memories of sound I have some recordings of a poet-writer friend of mine reading his prose accompanied by computer synth music. I have listened to these recordings many times before and counting, but never before with the intimacy afforded by headphones until today. Perhaps the closeness to the voice brought me to a new understanding that previously eluded me. It was just me and his voice, as though he was speaking directly to me, as though his voice and my thoughts were the same.
I sit on the train digesting his words over and over and over again in my head. The train reaches Osaka Station. The doors open and flesh begins to flood in and out through the doors. It is a transfusion of sorts. I am now walking through throngs of people. Words of love, for that is what they are, continue to pour through my headphones into my brain. I hear each word as an image unto itself. I know now that art is simply an expression of love or the desire for it.
No matter the facade an artist tries to hide behind it’s only when the artist ceases their posing, admitting to themselves that they too are lovely, that they too crave to be someone whom another loves just because, can they create something truly free from themselves. All other work is a mask that the artist wears to flee from the reality that they are. Yet, like these words that now reverberate in my mind perhaps the artist is unable to fully conceal themselves. A bit of them always escapes into the critical eyes and ears of others. Left open and alone to misinterpretations. Perhaps just as my ears have with these words.
Sadly, racism seems prevalent throughout the world. What is equally sad is that many people do not realize that their actions or their words are racist. Chihiro and I have called this unconscious racism. The idea that culture provides people with a set of assumptions that we don’t have to verbalize internally or externally to act those assumptions out. Too often people make assumptions based simply from how someone looks, and their shallow understanding of another culture. When they act upon these assumptions, whether or not their intent is friendly, they are acting in a racist manner.
Unfortunately it seems, most people who do receive such comments are themselves unaware of the racism in play, either that or they simply brush it off with the thought; it’s ok, that is just how it is. But it isn’t. Acceptance of these minor offenses as “it is just the way things are”, perpetuates a sense of human interactions that is outdated and all together wrong. Indeed everyday we make judgments on everything that we hear or see or feel or smell or taste, but we should understand that our judgments are not always correct and should not always be acted upon. That a bit of thought is necessary when interacting with another person, another group or community, another nation. We should spend more time learning about each other, instead of assuming things about each other.
Since we are a multicultural union, and our daughter is biracial, they have felt the bitter bite of racism, and have seen the sheer lack of understanding that people have. Being in Japan, where the population is predominantly Japanese, we felt that we could try to educate the people here about racism, so when Chihiro saw a poster advertising designs for social awareness posters for the subways, she thought up this slogan, and Jeffrey put it together. Read the words, and think what it really means by we are all people.
I have been thinking about the world’s concept of value for awhile, and came up with a series of images to address the inequality caused by how we interpret value. If change is going to happen this is the first thing that needs to be addressed. Why try to solve a problem with the same thinking that created the problem? If we see that every one of us is equally valuable, and that every job is equally important, we will begin to understand that money is unnecessary and that there are better things for us to work for. Real, meaningful social and environmental change will not happen as long as we cling to our current notion of value, and hold pieces of paper as more important than someone’s life.
We have been in a bit of a hiatus for a while due to a variety of reasons. We have recently moved back to Japan, and are still in that transitional phase, still trying to get a foothold. We now currently live in Osaka. Also, Chihiro has been pregnant since last November, which has been a long journey for both of us. While pregnant Chihiro finished her last classes to receive her Bachelor of Arts from the University of Oregon.
During this time we have penned an array projects, and have started working on some. Our collaborative semi-autobiographical comic is slowly taking shape, the plot for Fiontech 3.0 is fully written and Chihiro has illustrated ten pages or so, my children’s book, “A Happening,” has been rewritten, and the roughs for the pages drawn, I am making sketches for another story and working on finishing a series of illustrations on value, and Chihiro has begun to delve more into her vision of social illustration. Of course there are plenty more side projects that are constantly springing forth from their mind, which with time and hope will be completed. Bit by bit, word by word, line by line, they are working to complete their dreams, and make their dreams a reality.
Also, to reflect our move to Japan, the addition to our family, and to simply try to re-envision ourselves, I designed a new logo for Studio Something. A more crisp feel than before, that will lend to a better ‘branding’ of Studio Something.
Chihiro thought up this phrase for a social justice postcard. Jeffrey did two typography designs. Though the phrase might have been said many times before, as long as women feel that they need to conform to a single idea of beauty, as long as sexism exists, as long as women are objectified as objects of sex, then it needs to continue to be said.
We both believe that there is something special about receiving a postcard or a letter instead of an email or text. Words and pictures are the quickest way to spread an idea, and sending a postcard to someone with a strong message on it will, with hope, resonate in the heart of those who receive it. We are all responsible for social change. This is of our attempt at it.