GP Vancouver 2015

Photo Feb 21, 8 36 16 AM

Vancouver Convention Center

Over the weekend we attended GP Vancouver. This was my first Canadian GP and only the second time I’ve been to Canada (I think). The first time was for my sister’s wedding in Winnipeg. I hate flying and my wife doesn’t like boats, so luckily we were able to drive to Vancouver.

You know you are in Canada when it is 34 degrees outside and people are wearing shorts and t-shirts. I remember one time during GP Albuquerque it was snowing outside and Rob Alexander was walking around in a t-shirt. Crazy!

We were only in Vancouver for the weekend, but I was really impressed. It has the big city feel without the cramped crowded streets like San Francisco or Seattle. For a big city, it was also incredibly clean. The buildings were cool, the trees were huge, and the air was fresh. Plus everything smelled of maple syrup and people said “eh” and “aboot.” What’s not to like about this city?

The food was amazing. Everything I ate there, with the exception of the convention food, was incredible. There is a food truck near the convention center called Japadog; you must eat there before you die. The butter and shoyu fries were the best fries I’ve ever had, they finally unseated the duck fat fries I had in San Jose. The hot dog was also the best hot dog I’ve ever had. I need to go there again…soon.

Hippo Token

Hippo Token

In honor of my first Canadian GP, I created a special token for the event. Behold, the legendary hippo token!

When I was first asked to create a special token for the event, I had no idea what I wanted to do. With the help of Twitter, I decided to give hippos some love and create a baby green hippo token. Now I know hippo tokens aren’t exactly popular, but I wanted to do something different. Sorry, no goblin token this time!

Even though I went with an obscure token, it still seemed pretty popular. I guess there are more hippo fans out there than I thought there would be. Hippo army ftw!

I’m not sure if I will be selling them online or just making them available at shows. Tokens are cheap (2 for $1), so shipping and the time spent driving to the post office probably wouldn’t make it worth it. I was thinking about maybe making them a special bonus if people bought something else, but who knows.

The Grand Prix was great. It wasn’t as large as some of the other GPs I’ve been to, especially when you compare it to something like GP Vegas, but it was still good. It was probably better that this one was a little smaller because it really helped my wrists.

I tried to get to everyone in line when it came to alters and drawings, but unfortunately there is a limited amount of time. There is only so much I can do in 9 hours each day. Thanks to everyone who came out to the event and dropped by, I really appreciate it!

I kept hearing about the Vancouver Aquarium and how people will drive to Vancouver just to go to it, so we had to check it out before going back home. It was awesome. The shows were great and they had a lot of cool things to look at. I was bummed that the Monsters Revealed exhibit hadn’t opened yet, but I guess that gives me an excuse to go back. The area around the Vancouver Aquarium is beautiful, plus it was only a couple minutes away from the convention center.

I just want to thank everyone at Game Keeper and WotC for a great show. I hope everyone had a good time, I know I did!

GP San Antonio 2014

View from the hotel

View from the hotel

Last weekend I attended GP San Antonio. This was the first GP I’ve been to since GP Albuquerque one year ago. I haven’t been traveling lately because of the little guy and I probably won’t be doing much more. I do plan on going to GP Vancouver in February since I can drive to it. I can tell you one thing, I don’t miss flying.

This GP was special because I created a unique playmat for the event and I was able to visit my parents since they live in Texas. Of course that meant a trip to the Alamo! I should have taken a picture next to the Alamo while holding up my playmat.

I don’t think I’ve been to the Alamo since I was in middle school. It’s funny because the Alamo looks so small now with all of the big buildings around it. It probably looks smaller since everything looks bigger when you are younger.

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Sarkhan Gambit alter

Luckily the event wasn’t too big. I believe there were 1167 players. If this ended up being another Vegas, I probably would have died. I must admit, I was a little rusty since I haven’t been to a GP in a long time. I always forget to take pictures of drawings and alters I do, but I took a few.

I just want to thank everyone for dropping by and thanks to Steve Port for bringing me out there and giving me the opportunity to create the San Antonio playmat!

GP San Antonio Playmat – Spirits of War

Spirits of War

Spirits of War

Next month I’ll be one of the guest artists for GP San Antonio from November 28-30th.

Steve Port contacted me and wanted to know if I would be interested in creating an original playmat illustration for the GP. They wanted something that was specific to the city of San Antonio, so of course the Alamo and the Riverwalk were the first to come to mind.

The illustration needed to look like it could fit within the world of Magic, but it couldn’t look too much like Magic. The Riverwalk is a little too modern, so I didn’t know if I could make it fit very well within the world of Magic. I ended up going with the Alamo idea, but I still wasn’t sure what I was going to do with the Alamo.

At first I considered painting a battle scene, but I thought it would be a little too complicated. Players will be playing Magic on top of these playmats, which means there are going to be a lot of cards and tokens cluttering the surface. If I painted something that was complicated and then added all of the elements from the game on top, I thought it would just be too chaotic and it might distract the players from the game. I wanted something a little more simple, but not too boring.

The Sketch

Original sketch

Original sketch

My first sketch had the warriors standing in front of the Alamo, but they were all living. WotC had to approve my sketch, and their feedback was that my painting didn’t feel fantastical enough to fit within the world of Magic. They also suggested that I make the designs of the warriors similar to the designs in Khans of Tarkir.

I decided to turn all of the background warriors into spirits. Hopefully that would give the illustration a more fantastical feel. I had also planned on making the main warrior’s sword glow, but I thought it would blend in too much with the background warriors.

Video Tutorial

At this point I thought it would be cool to record my painting process and create a new tutorial. Since I hadn’t recorded the process of the original sketch, I repainted it specifically for the tutorial.

Unfortunately I wasn’t able to record the entire process. Some parts during the middle of the process weren’t filmed because it would have taken up too much space and the video would have been extremely long. I usually spend 2-3 days on a Magic painting, so this painting took me probably more than a week to paint. Even after skipping parts of the process, my video was still 6 hours long. I was able to cut that down to a 4.5 hour demo and the video file is around 9 GB.

Selling a 9 GB file through my own store might end up exceeding my bandwidth, so I decided to offer the tutorial through Gumroad. Yes, I have finally joined the Gumroad frenzy. Be sure to check out my other videos on Gumroad as well!

GP ABQ

Photo Nov 25, 10 36 35 AMAfter our flight was delayed 4 times, we finally made it to Albuquerque! Luckily we were only about an hour and a half late.

Going to Albuquerque also meant that I was going to inevitably make Breaking Bad references the entire. I thought about printing out a “Save Walter White” sign for my tip jar, but the locals would probably roll their eyes and think I’m just another noob tourist going through the motions of making Breaking Bad references whenever the opportunity presented itself. I dunno, I think it would have been awesome.

Photo Nov 22, 6 55 42 AMAt breakfast I knew I had to get some bacon. Good thing they had a breakfast buffet!

There was no one in the dining room so when I went up to the buffet, the cook was just standing there staring at me the entire time. I didn’t want him to think I was crazy by grabbing a bunch of bacon, so I only took 3 pieces and hoped it would be enough. It wasn’t my birthday, but when in Rome…

With seven artists on the list and a GP in the middle of the desert (a desert which was going to receive snow during the weekend) I didn’t have very high expectations. I think for the most part this was one of the smallest GPs I’ve been to, at least in terms of traffic to my table. It actually felt more like a prerelease. The large number of artists thinned out the numbers even further, so much of my time was spent sitting and admiring the drink suspended 20 feet in the air on a window ledge.

Photo Nov 24, 11 54 59 AMDon’t get me wrong, it was still a great show. Unfortunately I had to leave a bit early on Saturday due to a medical emergency. Of course it was the weekend and we couldn’t find any dentists. Even the ones who were supposed to be open on the weekends 24/7 weren’t around or refused. Uh, if your site says you are open during the weekend aren’t you kind of required to accept a patient, especially when it is an emergency? Apparently not.  We had to wait until Monday before my wife could have surgery.

It was probably better that this GP was slower considering I had to leave early on Saturday, plus it always helps my wrists when I don’t have as many people in my line.

We ended up missing dinner with the other artists because of my wife’s medical problem. Sorry we couldn’t be there!

Hotel of Awesome…and Science

yeah scienceThe best thing about the hotel was that it had free wifi. Not just free wifi, but free wifi of lightning fast awesomeness. Actually, their upload speed was only .9Mbps, but they had a consistent signal. My upload speed at home is around .3Mbps and my signal is intermittent like crazy.

It was weird clicking on a link and having the page actually load. This is what the real internet must feel like! Usually when I’m at home I have to click on a link and hit refresh 4-5 times and sit for 2 minutes before I can get a single page to load.

Good news for my mentorship program, I was actually able to upload the rest of my Intro to Digital Painting videos to my Vimeo account using the hotel wifi. It was glorious.

“Yeah, science!”

Maybe next time I should go to the hotel that is 2 blocks away and sit in their lobby and upload my videos. They won’t notice right? Right??

Photo Nov 24, 6 31 36 AMSnow!

It snowed over the weekend! I was walking by the hotel window and I glanced outside and saw a blanket of white. I screamed to my wife “it snowed!” Ok, maybe I didn’t scream, but I definitely exclaimed.

I love snow. I like the crunching sound it makes when you walk on it. I wanted to take more pictures while I was walking around outside, but I forgot my camera in the room.

The one bad thing about the cold is that it seems to drain my phone battery even faster than normal. My battery already sucks after I upgraded to iOS7, so the cold weather didn’t help. In the time it took me to walk from the bed to the bathroom, my battery had drained from 20% to 7%. It lost 13% in literally 5 seconds. I wasn’t even playing games on it or watching a movie. To be fair I have heard that the battery indicator isn’t very accurate and that you can only truly trust the reading when it is at 100% or at 0%.

Photo Nov 23, 3 01 19 PMOn Friday I was walking around outside trying to find Starbucks when I saw Rob Alexander walking around wearing a T-shirt.

Let me set the scene; it was about 33 degrees and extremely windy. Wolves howled in the distance and the clouds blotted out the sun. Ok, there were no wolves but it was very cold and windy. It was so windy that every time I tried to put on my hood the wind blew it off my head. I was wearing a shirt, a hoody, and a jacket and I was still cold. Those crazy Canadians.

Future GPs? 

Several people asked me about future GPs, but right now I don’t have any plans. I was interested in GP Sacramento, but I never heard back about it. GP ABQ may have been my last GP for the foreseeable future, but I’m not really sure.

We had fun and I would like to thank everyone for braving the weather to come out to the show. I would like to especially thank Bo King. He was a real trooper when it came to helping out the artists with whatever they needed. I’m sure I can speak for everyone and say that we greatly appreciated it.

Thanks!

GP Vegas

hallLast month was GP Vegas, the largest Magic event of all time. It was so large that they had to cap the attendance at 4500 people. To put it in a little perspective, typically the GPs I attend have anywhere from 600-2000 people.

Actually, I am sure there were more people there than that. Some people go to these shows simply to visit the artists, so they don’t register for the event. Family members and friends go who also don’t play in the event. It was crazy.

daarken-tableI hardly ever sign on Fridays simply because there usually aren’t enough people. This time was much different. Even on Friday, it was completely packed. I think Friday was busier than most Saturdays at other events.

I was the first artist to arrive on Friday morning, so I was able to ninja the corner table right next to the main doors. I guess there are some advantages to arriving early!

Since I was the first and only artist for the first couple of hours, that meant I also had quite a long line. I felt really bad because I always hate it when people have to wait in line for a long time. I was drawing as fast as I could, so I apologize if I wasn’t able to get to everyone and I appreciated everyone’s patience.

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Eleven other artists were also in attendance. Luckily I was able to spend some time with most of them during the weekend. It is always great to meet the other artists and it’s refreshing to know that they are always the nicest, most down to earth people.

You guys are all awesome, thanks for hanging out with us!

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I tried not to take any homework back with me because I simply don’t have enough time to work on them due to my freelance schedule.

One mat I took home to work on was a colored Bloodghast mat. This was only the second time I tried using markers on a playmat.

The first time I inked the drawing first and then colored it in. I didn’t realize that the markers would make my inks bleed.

This time I made sure to do my inks last. It definitely helped a lot and I am much happier with the results. I might decide to do more colored playmats in the future.

You always hear crazy stories about Vegas, or at least you aren’t supposed to. What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas right? One morning, I think on Sunday, we went out to my car to head over to the convention center.

magic ninjaSitting in the middle of my rear windshield was a Japanese foil Magic card. It was perfectly placed right over my Gnomon parking decal. I actually put the card back so I could take a picture, but it was originally straighter.

I highly doubt someone dropped their card and it magically flew up and on to my car and landed face up and perfectly straight. Sure anything is possible, but I doubt it. Also, my car was in the middle of a parking garage on the third floor. Not only that, but our hotel was 4 miles away from the convention center.

What I want to know is, how did someone know which car was mine? No other cars in the parking garage had cards on them, only mine. The other weird thing is that this was the first time I’ve ever taken my car to a GP. I also don’t think I’ve ever posted any photos of my car online.

I dunno, maybe it was just some weird coincidence or maybe it was one of the other Magic artists playing a trick on me, but it was strange. Although, why would another Magic artist have a Japanese foil card? Not many of them play, and not enough to have foreign foils. I asked a few of the other artists if they did it, but they said they didn’t.

I was waiting for someone to jump out from behind another car and pounce on me. In any case, thanks mystery Magic ninja for the cool card! I love Min’s work. I guess if it had been one of my own cards, that would have definitely meant someone placed it there intentionally.

As always, I want to thank all of the fans and the event coordinators, along with all of the judges and staff. We had a great time! Next stop, GP Oakland and GP Albuquerque.

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GP Portland

20130519-151141.jpgEarlier this month I was at the GP in Portland. Unlike most shows where there is only 1 or 2 artists, this GP had 6! RK Post, Anson Maddocks, Steve Argyle, Chuck Lukacs, and Mark Tedin were there.

I had never been to Portland before, but I’ve heard that it is supposed to be full of hipsters! Actually, I didn’t really see any hipsters…maybe I was in the wrong part of town.

Some of my friends from Seattle were there, so it was funny to hear them argue with the people from Portland over which city is better.

I also got to hang out with an old college buddy who I haven’t seen in about 10 years, Emi Lenox! Emi has an awesome comic called EmiTown published by Image. If you don’t know about her, go and get her book! She gave me a copy of vol. 2 while I was there, so I’m a happy camper.

Photo May 07, 3 56 05 PMTo commemorate the reunion, I gave her a Vanishment alteration featuring one of her army cats. I used DecoColor paint pens and Sharpies.

I also gave her a copy of my book and Cat made sure to give her a sherbet Oreo. Technically it was a Shure, Bert! Oreo. Emi got hooked up!

Sunday night she took us to Biwa for dinner, it was awesome! Thanks for the tasty food! Hopefully next time we will have more time to hang out.

Photo May 12, 7 16 06 PMAs always, I had a great time at the event. Unfortunately there is never enough time to hang out with the other artists since we work the entire time.

I think Saturday I ended up working for 13 hours and Sunday I worked 9 hours. My wrists were pretty dead by the end of the show, but it was worth it.

I know some of the other guys put in longer hours than I did. They are insane.

I would like to thank Tim and all of the WotC staff for inviting me out there and to all the fans who dropped by to say hi. I would also like to thank Cascade Games, Ultra PRO, and WotC for the beautiful Progenitor Mimic playmat that was made specifically for this event. The playmat came out great!

So what is next? I’ll be at GP Las Vegas next month. This is going to be a special GP because they are going to have an art gallery on-site at the Cashman Center from June 21-23. The art gallery will feature large format, museum-quality work from the Modern Masters expansion.

Photo May 10, 1 50 26 PMAccording to Cascade Games, “art from every mythic rare card and every rare card, will be on display for all to see, along with every single new piece of art in Modern Masters. Over one hundred gorgeous pieces of art will be hanging in the Modern Masters Fine Art Gallery.”

This sounds like it is going to be a great show, so please be sure to drop by. It is free and open to the public.

See you there!

Dragon’s Maze

Screen Shot 2013-04-30 at 11.41.26 PMHowdy!

This past weekend I was in Temecula, CA for the Dragon’s Maze prerelease. I also wanted to post some of my new cards and a few process shots of Hidden Strings and Progenitor Mimic.

I don’t go to very many prereleases unless they are close enough to drive to. I had a lot of fun in Temecula and I would like to thank Damyan of Tier 1 Games and all of the fans for having me out there. Despite there being only a handful of people, I still wrecked my wrists. Hopefully I will do a little better in Portland and Vegas.

Speaking of Portland, I’ll be at the GP from May 11-12 along with fellow artists RK Post, Tyler Jacobson, and Mike Dringenberg. A special playmat featuring my art from Progenitor Mimic will be available. There is actually an interesting story behind the art for Progenitor Mimic.

146665 Transformancer 08Originally there was only a single figure and she was flying. I went through the sketch approval process and I was well on my way to the final painting.

A week before the final was due, I received an e-mail saying that they had to change the mechanics of the card and therefore I needed to change the painting.

The new painting needed to include a second figure and they both had to be standing. Oh crap.

146665 Transformancer 09I tried to salvage as much as possible due to the short deadline, plus I had other freelance paintings I was working on at the same time.

I decided to paint them standing on some type of magical thingy, and since this card now copies itself, I wanted to make it look like the copy was being created from the magical “walkway.”

I tried to make it look like the copy was rising up from the magical walkway, which is why part of her legs are disappearing below the walkway while magical remnants still cling to her upper legs. I’m not sure if it really comes across though.

147778 Smeltward GatekeepersWhen the painting was first posted online, it was fun to read the comments from the fans speculating what it was all about. Several people got very excited about the prospect of Simic angels, but many pointed out that the Simic angel had Boros armor designs so it was probably a card that took control of another creature.

Sorry Simic, no angels for you!

The one card I am happy with is Hidden Strings, so I wanted to do a little tutorial. Unfortunately I never record any of my freelance paintings, so this will be a written tutorial.

Here is the description I received from WotC.

Show a female Dimir vampire who has mesmerized a Boros knight. His sword lies on the floor, his vacant stare looking off at some faraway place. She lazily puts a pale hand on his shoulder and looks at us, her gaze telling us that this is child’s play for her. Another knight is off in the background, slumped to the floor. A pale, bluish light illuminates the blackness of the undercity’s gloom.

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I started out with two sketches but I can’t remember why I decided to go with the second one. I did this painting almost a year ago, so I guess I forgot. Looking back now, I think I like the first one better. Whoops.

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Like I usually do, I started out in black and white. It is much easier for me to get started when I don’t have to worry about color, especially if I’m working on 8-9 paintings at the same time.

The figures were feeling a little small, especially at print size, so I tried to make them a bit bigger.

146752-Neural-Dominion-04Here is a closer shot of a WIP of the girl’s face. I typically start with faces since they are usually the focal point. It also helps me focus on something and gets me excited about starting a new painting.

People usually ask how far I take my black and white painting before I start with color, but it really depends. Sometimes I only take a black and white painting as far as the first sketch I did for this painting (the one I didn’t pick to do) while other times I take it to an almost completely rendered painting.

At this point I am ready to start with color. Boros players might be thinking “Hey, his armor shouldn’t be dark.” You are correct. Boros armor is usually silver or white.

I decided to go with dark armor because otherwise the girl’s hands wouldn’t read at print size. Her hands are pretty important to the story, so I didn’t want them to get lost. Also, the dark armor could show that he has become corrupt and is now under her control.

146752-Neural-Dominion-051). For the first stage of adding color, I added an overlay layer and started blocking in the base colors.
2). After I have the base colors down, I start painting opaquely on top of everything.
3). I added another overlay layer to push the blue glow in the background.
4). I added a soft light layer and painted it with blue to bring some harmony to the greens in the middle ground. I also added several color balance adjustment layers.

146752 Neural Dominion 06Now I am starting to push the blue color scheme and I am beginning to render the painting. At this point I think I am mainly painting opaquely.

I typically only use layer modes to get the base colors down or to add effects. The majority of the color work is done with good old-fashioned opaque painting.

One of the problems with working digitally is that people tend to think you can add color in one step. Well, you COULD, but it would look like crap. Adding color is a long process, most of which is done with traditional techniques.

146752 Neural Dominion 06bThe faces were getting a little too cool in terms of temperature, so I added warmer colors in order to make them pop.

I am also adding in some foreground elements, like the hanging moss and the figure on the ground.

Also, more rendering. This is where patience comes into play. The hard part is knowing how much or how little to render or refine.

146752 Neural Dominion 08I decided to ditch the stairs and go for a more simple pillar design. I think the stairs were going to be too small for stairs and the ground was getting a little cluttered, not leaving a lot of space for the sword.

I also desaturated the colors.

Some of the perspective is a bit messed up, but I guess I didn’t notice it at the time.

146752 Neural Dominion 09Yup, more rendering. Now I’m getting down to the small details, like adding the red designs on the knight’s tabard and resizing his hands.

I just realized that I haven’t really even started painting her outfit or her other hand. I also haven’t worked on the guy in the foreground, right now he is still just a dark lump.

146752 Neural Dominion 10Boom, done!

Magically I finished painting her outfit, hand, and the dude on the ground all in one step!

For the background I did a gaussian blur to push the depth and to pull more focus on the main figures.

The easiest way to blur parts of your image is to select the entire image, copy it, and then paste it. You then apply the gaussian blur, add a layer mask, and fill it with solid black. Then you paint with white in the layer mask to reveal the blurred areas.

I also added some floating specks of dust to give the painting a bit of atmosphere.

As always there are many things I wish I could go back and change, but all in all, I think I am pretty happy with how it came out.

GP Yokohama 2013

IMG_0165This past week my wife and I were in Japan for the Yokohama Grand Prix. This GP ended up being the second largest GP in history with almost 2400 people in attendance!

As always, it was a real pleasure to visit Japan and meet all of the fans. Everyone was very welcoming and we felt honored to be a part of the show.

The other two artists in attendance were Min Yum and Raymond Swanland. These guys are ridiculously amazing and Raymond’s line was daunting. I don’t think it ever ended! Min’s paintings have so much form that his planes have planes! That guy isn’t human. I’m really glad I was able to meet these two legends. Now I need to go back into hiding and try to improve my art so that I can stand next to these guys.

IMG_0096I was also able to meet with Born Digital, the publisher of the Japanese version of my art book Elysium. They were selling my book during the GP and they were very helpful with translations and helping run my table while I signed cards and drew for fans. Everything ran so smoothly because of their help, so thank you very much!

It was also my first time seeing the Japanese version of my book, and I was very impressed! Now I need to get one! Thank you so much to all of the fans who purchased my book. I hope you enjoy it!

Yokohama is a beautiful city. Every city I’ve been to in Japan is always so nice and clean and Yokohama is no exception, even with a population of 3.7 million. Coming from America, it is always strange to be in a big city and not see homeless people everywhere or trash lining the streets. It is very refreshing to be in a place where everyone is polite and they follow the rules. They don’t jaywalk or cut in line. They actually leave their bikes unchained. If you lived in the US, it wouldn’t be unusual to chain your bike and still find your tires gone when you returned. People always greet you with a smile and say please and thank you. Sometimes I feel more at home in other countries than I do here.

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Don’t even get me started about the food. The food in Japan is top-notch. I’m not just talking about the Japanese food either, I’m talking about all food. Even food that you buy at the corner store or at the train station/airport is better than most food I’ve had in the US.

Don’t get me wrong, there is good food in the US too, but on average I would say you could go anywhere in Japan and have better food than what is available in the US.  My wife even said their Italian food was a lot better than the food she had in Italy. San Francisco has some really good Japanese food, but it can’t compare to the food in Japan.

Okonomiyaki is probably my favorite food. Botejyu is one of the oldest okonomiyaki restaurants in Japan, opening back in 1946! What are the chances that I would find one of the oldest okonomiyaki restaurants in Japan? I ended up getting the mochi and cheese okonomiyaki.

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While we were at the Narita airport I had, what is hands down, the best tonkatsu I’ve ever had. How many people can go to an airport in the US and claim they had the best food ever in their life? Probably not many.

We actually had some airport food at SFO and it made us both sick. It was pretty disgusting and almost twice the price of the food in Japan. The food here on average is definitely more greasy than the food in Japan. I remember after I returned from my first trip to Japan I didn’t want to eat anything in the US because I just felt so gross afterwards.

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We didn’t get to go outside of the city, but we did a bit of exploring. There are a lot of shopping malls and touristy things to do in Yokohama. They also have the largest China town in Japan.

I ended up chickening out and not going to the observation deck of the Yokohama Landmark Tower. The Yokohama Landmark Tower is the 3rd tallest building in Japan, standing at 972 feet. They also have the 2nd fastest elevator in the world. I have heard that you can’t really tell the elevator shoots you up and down at 41 feet/sec. I probably should have gone, but my fear of heights prevented me from going.

In the end, we had a great time and met some really cool people. Now I gotta get back to work! Thanks again to everyone who came to the show and to all of the people who helped out. I really appreciate it! See you next time!

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GP San Jose and Science!

Over this past weekend I was at the Magic: The Gathering Grand Prix in San Jose. It was nice to escape the heat of Southern California for a bit and meet up with some new and old friends.

The two other guest artists were Anthony Francisco and Rob Alexander. I had no idea that both Rob and I play ice hockey and that we are both goaltenders. Pretty crazy.

The show had a huge turnout. They only expected around 900 players but ended up having between 1700-1800! The hall was completely packed and there was no rest for the artists. It is actually pretty amazing how many of the same faces I see at these shows regardless of the location. Hopefully they aren’t tired of me yet!

Despite the number of players, the show was actually fairly relaxed. I never had any downtime and sometimes the line was fairly long, but I wasn’t as slammed like some of the other shows. I actually got to take a bathroom break this time!

I would just like to thank all of the fans for showing up to the event and dropping by my table. Also a big thank you goes out to Tim Shields, Ron Foster, and all of the GP staff. It was a great show and I had a blast.

I hadn’t really been to San Jose before. I have driven through it, but I’ve never stayed in the city for any length of time. The downtown area was actually a lot nicer than I thought it would be. When I lived in San Francisco I would hear people saying how San Jose wasn’t nice, but maybe they were talking about another area.

We initially planned on arriving early so that we could check out the city, but I ended up working in the hotel room the majority of the trip. Surprise surprise. Usually with these shows I don’t get to see the sights because I’m stuck in the hotel working.

On Monday before our flight we were able to sneak in some touristy stuff, although we never left a 2-3 block radius from our hotel.

The Tech Museum one block away was having a Mythbusters Exhibit, so we were able to see that. It was really cool seeing all of the props and gadgets from the show. I am a huge Mythbusters fan, so I was pretty excited.

There was also a live demonstration, although the actual Mythbusters were not there. They were testing whether or not you could dodge a paintball fired from a gun. It was pretty fun watching the volunteers get smacked by speeding paintballs. The guy was able to dodge it after they gave him a bit of a warning before it was fired. The problem was that the guy was holding a huge riot shield, so I’m sure that slowed him down. In the end they had to simulate it as if the gun was fired 170 feet away from the guy before he was able to dodge it. Fun stuff!

What I also liked about the exhibit was the fact that they had a lot of interactive stations. They had a telephone book swing, card throwing, reaction tests, structure building, you could hang from a ledge, a blind driving video game, and several other things.

So if you are in the San Jose area and you like the Mythbusters, you should definitely check it out!




Spectrum Fantastic Art Live

If you haven’t been living under a rock you probably have heard and read about the Spectrum Fantastic Art Live event that took place over the weekend. I probably can’t add anything of significance that other people haven’t already mentioned. The show was amazing, period. The number of top names in the industry was astounding. There aren’t too many events where virtually almost every hero you had growing up are all in the same place. Not only that, but they are all very approachable, even for someone as introverted as I am. I’m always afraid to go up to people like Brom or Paul Bonner, but everyone was so nice and friendly that it was a big weight off my mind. It is always nice to meet your childhood heroes and find out that they are awesome people in person.

My booth was located at 521 on the end. It was a pretty good location and I was right next to a bunch of amazing artists. RK Post sat directly behind me and would, at times, peek his head through the curtain and scream at my wife and I before disappearing again through the blue veil to return to his adoring fans.

I actually had two paintings on either end of my booth, but you can’t see them in the picture. As usual, I came to the show fairly unprepared. I didn’t have any easels or a pegboard to display my work. As I looked around I realized I was one of the only artists that didn’t have any. Luckily a few of my friends were able to help me out. I hijacked a few easels from Eric Deschamps and a pegboard from Vincent Proce. I have to tip my hat to these guys for helping me out of a bind. It is great to know that people like Eric and Vincent are always ready to help you out.

I admit that I didn’t attend as many of the social gatherings as I should have. On Friday night I went to the patio party at the convention center. We got there a little late so the hors d’oeuvres were already gone. That wasn’t a pleasant sight since my wife and I hadn’t eaten for about 15 hours straight. Everyone was having a good time, almost too good. Most people know that I don’t drink and I’m not exactly the type of person that hangs out at social gatherings. I spoke to a few of my friends there and then decided to go on a quest for food. It was past 9pm, so room service was already closed. My wife and I walked down to Chipotle, which was about to close. End of day one with burrito-filled bellies and inspiration from countless amazing artists…not too shabby.

Like I mentioned before, SFAL was nothing short of amazing and the caliber of artists was mind-boggling. You couldn’t take two steps without being greeted with inspirational piece of original art that you’ve admired on the web for years, only to be standing in front of it now. Where else could you go look at an original Phil Hale and then take two steps and see an original Catherine Jeffrey Jones, and then see one from Brom, Donato Giancola, Greg Manchess, Paul Bonner, James Gurney, and hundreds of others. Walking the halls of legends was intimidating to say the least, but also inspirational. One didn’t feel wanting for anything as there was something for everyone from every discipline.

I would like to make a big shout-out to Virginie Ropars for winning the gold in the dimensional category. Her work is ridiculously good and leaves you wondering how in the world she does it. It was great being able to meet and spend time with her over the weekend.

The great thing about attending one of these events in person is that photos really don’t do a piece justice. You can’t appreciate the detail or color of an original through a photo. There is something magical about being able to see a piece a few inches away. There is a tactile connection that you can make that you just can’t achieve through the internet. Anyone that has the opportunity to see Virginie’s sculptures in person should make it a priority.

I apologize for the lack of photos, but I always end up forgetting to take photos and I always end up having to use my iPhone. I can’t express enough how great the show was and I would like to thank Arnie and Cathy Fenner for putting on such a memorable show. Not only were the artists great, but there were so many panels that I didn’t want to be stuck sitting at my booth. I must admit that I spent way too much time away from my booth because I couldn’t stay away from the panels and chatting with friends that I hadn’t seen for years. Maybe next time I need to hire a booth babe! There were so many people that I didn’t even get a chance to say hi to, let alone chat. I feel like I missed a lot of people too. Now that I look back, I keep finding so many names that I didn’t even realize were there. I’m sorry if I didn’t get a chance to say hello. Also, thanks to all the people that dropped by, I really appreciate it!

Donato Giancola

Justin Sweet


Phil Hale


Catherine Jeffrey Jones


Thomas Kuebler – The scariest freaking sculptures you will ever see. I kept expecting them to turn slowly and look at me.



Chris Seaman

Chris Rahn


Lucas Graciano


Francis Vallejo

The Tumbler!!