Do you think there’s really any treasure here?


So here I am yet again, sitting at my computer locked in an eternal battle between utter exhaustion and overactive brain activity. My body is telling me to go to sleep but the 8am-sky-at-3am is telling my mind we have to be up for some odd reason. So what does one do when they can’t put two thoughts together for more than five minutes?

Start blogging of course.

I didn’t want to write anything earlier. I was perfectly content with penning my late night business correspondences but that became incredibly tedious. Like a true professional I got distracted and somehow I found myself organizing some directories on one of my work drives. Since getting my rig back into working shape I hadn’t really organized any of my files and folders so of course it was prudent to start doing this at 2 in the morning. I didn’t have any specific goal in mind but I sifted through the clutter anyway. I was taken aback at how old some of the files on this computer were. It was at that point I unearthed a treasure trove of old artwork I had completely forgotten about. I sat there for a half hour reminiscing and revelling in how good (and bad) some of it was.

Since starting my whole crusade to get back to drawing I thought it would be fun to treat my faithful to a humorous and eye-opening trip back into my artistic past…

We travel back first to 1998. This was probably my most active time ever as an artist. It was a banner year for me because not only was it did I meet my beloved wife, but it was my first love affair with Adobe Photoshop. A good friend of mine introduced me to Photoshop 3. He was impressed with what I was doing with just pencil and ink and assured me that this program would revolutionize my entire concept of artwork.

No words have ever been truer.

I had zero knowledge about how to use the program nor did I even have a graphics tablet. That didn’t stop me from grabbing the mouse as soon as it was installed and drawing this little guy. You can see my utterly stylistic use of that rather funky bubble filter. I really don’t know what was on my mind at the time. Okay that’s not true. Obviously I had eggheads, christmas and cigarettes on the brain. I had some sick fascination with those bug-eyed aliens for some reason. It’s a good thing I don’t obsess about stuff like that anymore…

I’ve always loved this picture though. It’s significance is monumental to me. It’ll always remind me of the first time I played around with the program I now use practically every single day for the past decade.

Prior to my transition over to digital artwork, I used to work exclusively with markers, pencil and ink. One of the last things I did, fully inked on paper, was this little work titled Misguided Youth. I made a digital re-imagining of this (that I’ll show another time) a few years ago but it never really captured the feel of this picture.

It fascinates me that I drew this. I’m not trying to toot my own horn or anything (because believe me if I could do that I wouldn’t leave the house ever) but I just really admire the amount of time and effort I used to put into my artwork. I probably spent days working on this one. Sure it has its obvious technical flaws but it just boggles my mind how dedicated I was to the craft.

I think of how I work now and everything is rushed. I draw knowing it’ll go into Photoshop at some point and I can “touch it up”. Back then I didn’t know about digital illustration. I had to bang it out in one shot and try to make as few mistakes as possible. I wish I had that patience still. I guess I’ve just grown complacent and lazy thanks to the power of Ctrl+Z.

One day I’ll regain that level of commitment… but it’s gonna take a pretty big power outage for that to happen.

Go back a little further to 1997 and I was still toiling away with pencils and ink. I was never quite an art pencil type of guy. I had shelled out $125 (which was a lot at the time) for a Rapidograph graphic pen set that had 8 precision sizes and wasn’t about to waste anymore more money on pencils. I figured if I couldn’t sketch with a good ole’ No.2 then I shouldn’t be drawing at all.

Anyway I came across this piece and it shocked me. I studied it for a while and was in awe of how detailed it was. I can even dare say it’s far better than anything I do now. Some disagree but it motivates me nonetheless to get back on point.

I had totally forgotten about this character. Her name was Celeste and she was my vision of a lost Jedi knight. She wasn’t for a game or anything. I just liked Star Wars and was pissed that there weren’t any hot female Jedis so I made one. Although Leia had minor force powers she was in no way a Jedi. I wanted to see a kick ass, lightsaber wielding broad so thanks to having an incredible amount of time on my hands and a vivid imagination I created her.

I loved drawing women. What dude wouldn’t? You ladies out there really don’t realize what remarkable pieces of art you are. No matter what shape or complexion the female form inspired me to draw literally hundreds of pieces of artwork.

Unfortunately for me I have no idea where the paper sketch of it is. The scanned copy is all that I have to remember how good I used to be without technology.

The greatest treasure though came in the form of this little sketch that dates all the way back to 1982. I had no idea I was drawing at that young age. A pretty toxic romp through the teenage years robbed me of a lot of childhood memories so this gem is priceless.

Apparently I was only 7 when I decided to bust out the drawing skills. If I remember anything I know I was all about GI Joe. I had dozens of the toys and would be latched to the television when the cartoon came on. My favorite character was always Stormshadow. If you don’t know your GI Joe, let me tell you that he put the cool in being a ninja. He wore white when every other ninja wore black and his whup ass switch was stuck in the ON position. He was awesome before I ever ascended to those heights so obviously I had to represent by making a rendition of him.

I’m impressed with his arsenal. My Stormshadow is packing tons of weapons on him. I’m not quite certain how effective some of them are. That arm knife looks kinda like a syringe but who cares? It can still take an eye out. He’s even got child-sized nunchucks in case he has to beat down some kids. Most of all you can’t beat the scowl on his face. He’s downright menacing. If you saw that coming you’d be frozen in fear.

I honestly thought I didn’t really start getting into drawing until I was about 10. Finding this has shed some light on a childhood I struggle to remember constantly.

I hope you enjoyed my little trek through Memory Lane. Not many artists are willing to show off their humble beginnings. I’m a firm believer in remembering what got you to where you are today. These, and so many other pictures, help me recall the days when I had absolute passion for the craft.

One day I hope to get that fire back.

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7 responses

  1. Beautiful work Ian. Remembering where you started and where the passion came from is the most important part of being successful.

    You love drawing women and I love the way that you draw them! I have to say that I think my favorite of the post would have to be Celeste. I love the detail you put into the picture. It’s gorgeous 🙂

    May 30, 2011 at 6:37 pm

    • I dig that one too. I seriously need to track the actual sketch down. I know it’s around somehere.

      May 30, 2011 at 9:15 pm

  2. You had mad skills at seven, Ian! It was all I could do to draw stick figures (I’m really good at it now, though!).

    I would love to have upper arms like Celeste…that dream is long-gone…sigh…

    I was serious when I suggested that you and Suzanne collaborate on a kid’s book…I think it would be awesome!

    Wendy

    May 27, 2011 at 1:41 pm

    • I know! It shocked me too! I was like “I drew that? Look how angry he looks!”

      Truth be told I think Suzanne and I have toyed with that idea of doing some kind of kids book back in the days. It’d kind of be the ultimate portrayal of irony – two people who don’t like children making children’s books.

      Although I don’t thnk I’d want kids to see what I’d do with classic tales like Hansel and Gretel or Little Red Riding Hood. >:)

      May 27, 2011 at 2:21 pm

      • Hey…I forgot about that…we should do one while we’re up here…there’s some amazing Inuit legends that I think would be PERFECT for Ian to draw!

        June 6, 2011 at 2:36 pm

  3. Amy

    Not too long ago, I found some old notebooks of mine filled with writing that I did in junior and high school. Some of it was gawd-awful, but a lot wasn’t half bad. It was weird to read stuff that I didn’t even remember writing. I was a lot more prolific back then than I am now, too. I think that’s because when I was young I wrote not thinking about anyone reading it or wondering if it was any good or not. I just wrote. I’m all caught up in the “performace” aspect of writing now, and it makes me way too cautious. I want to go back to how I did it as a kid, too.

    May 27, 2011 at 9:55 am

    • You hit the nail right on the head with that one. Doing something for you own satisfaction and not the approval of others. Why does that seem like such an unreachable goal now? Maybe because when we were younger we had far less problems and responsibilities? Who knows. I just miss it.

      May 27, 2011 at 10:16 am

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