News and Hearsay
Since I have recently decided to get back into the sketchbook, I found that it helps to find a favorite artist or artists. Basically they are these wells of inspiration from which I drink from time to time to replenish my creative juices (dang that was a baller metaphor!). One of them is very conveniently related to me, that being my brother whom you all know as P-Shinobi. The others I have discovered through my daily troll sessions of Deviant Art and Instagram. On today's Spotlight interview I had the pleasure of talking to one of my earliest and still one of my favorite such inspiration wells.
Peter Mohrbacher is an independent artist best known for creating the Angelarium series. From the start I had a feeling our talk would be quite revealing. I met him at Anime Central last year in his home state of Illinois where I got a canvas and 2 prints from his booth. Suffice it to say I was a fan long before that meeting, and was thrilled when he made the time for my interview. When I asked him his age he responded thus, “32? 33? I forgot. I think I'm 33. No wait, it's 32.” I'm going with 32. He worked several years in the gaming industry in very low profile and some unsuccessful titles. When asked what caused him to leave that world he answered flatly, “I have a hard time having bosses.” Peter places a lot of value in the worth an artist places on their work, and being managed by someone else tends to distort that self evaluation.
“I want to value my work highly and when I work for someone else, that isn't always the way they feel. It's more comfortable for me to take my work straight to an audience rather than filter it through the layers of management present in office work.”
I feel that this is a thought most artists will appreciate. We at Boomslank are constantly walking the line between managing our artist and giving him full creative freedom.
It was one thing to want something different, but Peter needed an extra bit of inspiration to go in the direction he chose. He found that inspiration in the form of another independent artist.
“It was when I saw my friend Sam Flegal (http://www.samflegal.com) make as much money off his personal painting doing a Kickstarter as I got paid to make a Magic card. I realized that an artist could find success on a scale that was achievable for me. When I got fired from my last job, I didn't hesitate skipping the search for a new one. I just packed up and started working for myself instead.”
The success that followed was instantaneous. Peter had built an online following spanning a decade by featuring his work on as many outlets as he could find, and when he finally went independent his fans were ready. It is a model worth considering for any artist.
The Angelarium (http://www.angelarium.net) is by far Peter’s most well known work. It is a collection of original paintings of Angels. Peter starts with the name, which can be found in several sources. Then he paints his interpretation of that name. He enjoys the artistic challenge of giving a body to seemingly intangible notions like “Mystery” or “The Written Word”.
“The idea of personifying abstract concepts like ‘dust’ and ‘memory’ was immediately interesting to me.”
There are currently over 40 Divine Beings with more to come. Those of you that are already familiar with Angelarium also know of the poetry and storytelling that accompanies each piece. Peter was doing all the writing himself at first, but has since enlisted the help of Eli Minaya to handle the bulk of Angelarium’s written content. When asked about the possibility of a complete story to accompany the paintings, Peter leans towards leaving some things to the imagination.
“I'm a big fan of the storytelling in something like Dark Souls. Rather than setting up a grand epic, I prefer to see glimpses of a story that is better imagined than told outright.”
He does however encourage fanfics, so go nuts!
In closing Peter had some wisdom to share on the worth of an artist, and how this power is sometimes misunderstood or even unnoticed by the artists themselves.
“Artists need to be the first people to declare their work has value. It's a running joke that people think artists should work for free. That's why it's so important that we chose to be our own advocates. We have a monopoly on our own output and we should exercise that power when the circumstance arises.”
Certainly words to live by; artists first and foremost have to be their own biggest fans.
I absolutely enjoyed my talk with Peter Mohrbacher who's favorite anime include Evangelion, FLCL, and Samurai Champloo. Do check out the complete Angelarium collection at http://www.angelarium.net where you can pick up prints and even an art book (already pre-ordered mine!). You can also follow him on Instagram at @bugmeyer. We wish Peter and all independent artists the best, and cannot overstate how much their work is needed and appreciated.
This past weekend I was spending some time with some good friends, sitting in the living room trying to decide what to do. It was Saturday afternoon, we had just gotten done with some errands, and now we were in that weird dull-space of time between running around in the morning and partying at night. It was a nice day, about 65F outside (18C for my metric people), and normally I would be playing soccer or napping after having played soccer. Our options were few. Netflix came on pretty quickly.
I took this as a golden opportunity to bring my friends into my world. Now they are not anime fans, but they are solidly open minded, which made things easier. Thankfully Netflix has a decent list of series, so it wasn't hard to find something I was sure they'd like. We tried Fate Stay Night UBW first (totally skipping Fate Zero 'cause I like to live dangerously). They liked it enough as you'd expect. The visuals were rich, the action was incredible, but they weren't quite captivated by the characters or the story. I figured I should find something that would hold their attention a bit better. Enter Attack on Titan. It was a winner from the first minute, though it helps that the first minute had a skinless muscle giant. There were a few "Oh no why did he eat her?!" and "Are they using jet-packs or what?" but they hung in there and really got into it. We ended up watching almost a dozen episodes, and my mission was a success!
My experience is one that a lot of us have probably been through. More often than not our love for anime is met with laughs or jokes or whatever. What I have found though is that at the end of it anime is just another way to tell a story, just like a live action or 3D movie, or a song, or a novel. If the story is good, you are guaranteed to have an audience. Next, be patient. Some of the questions my friends asked had me a little confounded. I couldn't help thinking can you really not imagine that MAYBE the show's creators did not want to give everything away in the first episode?!! Give it a minute!! But I bit my tongue (for the most part). Ultimately I was just thrilled that we were watching anime together in the first place. It was a moment, and I wasn't going to mess with it. Lastly, give your non-anime friends some credit. Don't be afraid to show them what you're about. I think in a way my friends appreciated that I did. With any luck I have won over two more to our side! I encourage everyone to try it whenever the opportunity presents itself.
If you're anything like us, the convention season has been over for a while, and you're anxiously counting down the days till you're in one again. You have your cosplay waiting to blow people's minds, you're keeping up with all the guest announcements, and of course you're recharging your funds after the last con. Anime cons are almost as much part of the game as the shows themselves, and thankfully Boomslank needs only wait till this December 6 for our next one. We attended Aniwave (http://www.aniwaveinc.org/) in Wilmington, NC for the first time last year. Some of you might remember our blog about our very positive experience at this small, young, one-day con. This time around, I had the pleasure to talk to Adachi Trieu, President and Director of Aniwave Inc., and she has been generous enough to give me a picture of what it takes to make an anime convention happen. Suffice it to say, I couldn't appreciate this opportunity enough.
The first thing you will notice about Adachi if you met her in person is that she is super young! At 21 she has been president of Aniwave Inc. for 3 years! I asked if her age has posed any challenges:
“Usually when I introduced myself as president I get a funny or surprised look but it doesn't bother me one bit…...I understand being young can cause people to think negatively but once they have a chance to see and enjoy it for themselves they usually have a change of heart.”
It is an unfortunate yet very real situation, but Adachi and her staff have remained unwavering in their courage and dedication to Aniwave, which is a good thing for the rest of us. I also can't help believing that their youth has helped them build the con into what it is today.
Adachi and her staff
When asked what the biggest challenges were for bringing a con to life, she mentioned staffing as one of the most critical. The actual Aniwave staff is just 5 including Adachi, with the rest being volunteers. As much as Adachi would appreciate a larger staff, I got the feeling from talking to her that her interest is more in quality than quantity.
“We prefer the smaller number because it's easier to communicate…...It's always great that our artists and vendors know who the workers are. It makes them feel comfortable and know that they can count on our volunteers. Even if it's just the bond for that day, it makes for a great atmosphere.”
In my opinion, customer service has been lacking in some of the bigger conventions, and that unfortunately makes for an unpleasant experience especially for vendors. Boomslank’s experience at Aniwave 2014 was a perfect example of the difference a positive and friendly staff can make. Adachi also pointed out that word-of-mouth is very vital for small young cons such as hers. As a result it is so much more important for things to go as well as they can, which is why she takes special care in selecting her staff.
Even more important than the experience for the vendors is the experience for the regular attendee. Adachi was quick to point out a very important policy for not just Aniwave, but cons all over.
“The most important policies we've been keeping an eye on is definitely ‘Cosplay is not consent’ and ‘cosplay positivity’. We are a very family friendly convention so when it comes to harassment of any kind it is taken very seriously..... Aniwave is the place for people to make friends and respect one another. So many kids are being bullied in schools for loving anime or for being different. I don't want them to feel that way at Aniwave too. I want them to find people that can become their friends and a support network for one another.”
There have been unfortunately many instances of cosplayers being harassed in one form or another at cons, and it is truly a shame that this is happening at all. On the other hand, it is important to choose your cosplay wisely as to not create an offensive atmosphere for other attendees. A healthy cosplay environment is vital for a positive con experience, and Boomslank is fully supportive of the work Aniwave and cons everywhere do to create policy that promotes this.
As most of you probably could guess, the all important funding is definitely one of Adachi's biggest challenges. In spite of what you may have heard, anime cons don't just happen. Everything has to be paid for. The venue has to be locked down, the guests have to be taken care of, it all adds up. This is one of the first things Adachi has to figure out before she does much else. Throughout the year she holds various fundraising events, but even that has its challenges.
“Aniwave is possible through fundraisers we hold with additional funding from staff. It's also so difficult to get a venue to hold fundraisers because not everyone is open minded to working with us because we are seen as ‘different’. Despite that we do the best we can to have maid cafes and just fun events to help raise money for Aniwave.”
Though the situation is greatly improving, the appreciation for Japanese culture is still not as widely understood as we'd like. Anime Conventions are an important part of spreading that awareness, as well as giving people a place to practice their love for all things Japan. Throughout the year Adachi and her staff have had several events including maid cafes, and even a crowdfunding campaign. We encourage you to check out any fundraising event being run by cons around you. Trust me, you'll be sad if they were gone.
It was a lot of fun getting this unique insight into the inner workings of an anime convention from Adachi, whose favorite shows include YuYu Hakusho, Chobits, and Heaven’s Lost Property. Aniwave will be held on December 6 at the Wilmington Convention Center, and more information can be found at http://www.aniwaveinc.org/. If you have the opportunity, I strongly recommend you stop by and check it out. Boomslank is looking forward to our second trip, and hope to make many many trips to Aniwave in the future. We thank Adachi and the rest of the Aniwave organization for all their hard work.
I recently volunteered to assist in preparing the Japan booth for the 2015 International Festival of Raleigh. The theme for this year was "30-year history" so we did a theme of the 30-year history of Japanese games.
The group came up with an awesome idea of designing the booth to resemble the first level of Mario and the other to look like Pac-Man! Then we invited people to take pictures in front of the backdrops (this was very popular with the kids). The images were hand created by a talented member of the Nippon Club of the Triangle.
On the left side, we created a timeline of noteworthy Japanese games and technology spanning 30 years (and yes there is a slight Nintendo bias ^_^").
We provided props to make the pictures more entertaining (I think it worked ^_^).
The booth was popular with adults too.
I even met some familiar faces! The two ladies to the left (viewer's left) in beautiful Lolita fashion are regular acquaintances at Animazement anime convention and are always in amazing cosplay!
Needless to say volunteering at the festival and working with the Nippon Club of the Triangle was a lot of fun and I may do so again next year. ^_^
Just recently watched the Puella Madoka Magica movie Rebellion and was inspired to do some rare fan art ^_^.
I absolutely loved the movie! The art and animation were simply stunning, the brief combat scene between Akemi & Tomoe gave me shivers. If you are a fan of the series and haven't seen the movie I highly recommend it.
I also want to take this opportunity to highlight something I found rather troubling recently. It's regarding a proposed international trade agreement that could have some drastic implications on the anime industry. I will not go into great detail about the proposed agreement but the most controversial aspect of it could be the intellectual property provisions that could criminalize such things as fan art to cosplay that were not done with the creators consent.
After a one year absence, we made it back to the notorious Anime Expo! Going to the largest con in North America was going to need all the preparation in the world to ensure that we made the most of it. Well we missed that memo :p. We didn't bring even half the inventory worthy of AX, and we started selling out of stuff on Thursday!!! It's all good though. We have learned our lesson, and our con game will be so strong next year you'll barely recognize it!
This year I was on a personal mission to hunt down some new prints to put on my walls. It was all about originals, no fanart! Mind you there was a lot of awesome fanart (I had to tear myself away from a beautiful Ah My Goddess wallscroll). Nevertheless, we at Boomslank have a soft-spot for artists that "come original" to the con for obvious reasons.
So without further hesitation, here is my AX 2015 loot. I encourage you to look up these artists and show your appreciation for their skill and courage in bringing their original work to a con where fanart traditionally is king!
P.S. Sorry for the picture quality. I took them on my phone :P
Artist: Allison Stanley, www.allisonstanleyart.com
Artist - Camilla D'Erico, http://camilladerrico.com/
Artist: Sarah René Straub, www.sketchystraub.etsy.com
Artist: Patara, www.vuduberi.com
There are few occassions in life when it would be okay to crap one's pants in excitement. For me, this was one of them. There is a new Digimon season on the way. Check out the character design which is quite a bit different. They are bringing back the original Digi-destined (those who matter know what this means), which is great. What I am most excited about is the people who will be creating this new season, most notably Cencoroll's Atsuya Uki on character designs. If you're anything like me, the last few seasons of this franchise left you somewhat disappointed. If ever a series needed a reboot, I think it is Digimon. Initial reports have it airing sometime in the spring of 2015. Can't wait.
I know we don't release enough designs quickly enough. I am aware and I am sorry about that. But when we do, we only release things we are proud of. And Reflection is no exception. Reflection is a first in one particular way. Is our first anime t-shirt to come with an anime short (35sec to be exact) .
That 35 second short was one of the most challenging things my kid brother has ever done. Up until before the animation, we had an idea that animation was a very time consuming process, but we had no idea just how much dedication it required. Attention to detail is not a luxury in animation, is a necessity. You can't animate a girl walking without accounting for how her articles of clothing will reacting to the motion. Any activity you add to the story is an exponential contribution to the amount of work needed. But at the end of the work, you can't help but be proud... very very proud.
Our shirt Reflection shirt comes in a nice blue color. We figured we'd add some variety to our color selection. :) Buy it here.
Hope to get my brother to do a piece on how he made the animation. Am sure a lot of you would appreciate that.
Just when I was starting to think I was never going to hear another theme song worth adding to my collection (I don't think I've added any since the Sousei no Aquarion soundtrack), I just landed on a beauty with Humanity has Declined! The show itself is not bad, strange though it may be, but that's another story. The ending theme though, Yume no naka no Watashi no Yume by Masumi Ito, that's just a happy song right there. Check it out, and be happy!
It’s that time again! Boomslank goes to another con, weeee! More and more we are finding that we actually love going to cons, like really love it! So we are now making an active effort to get out to more of these, see more of you beautiful fans, and just generally have an awesome time breathing in the anime culture awesomeness! This time around, we were checking out Aniwave (http://aniwave.org/) in Wilmington, NC. A young one-day con in it’s seventh year, we were not sure what to expect. That said we were approached by a super cool representative of theirs in Animazement back in the summer, and it was in our backyard-ish, and yada yada yada we woke up at 4 a.m. and drove the 2 hours to get there (that part sucked)!
We usually go to small cons with a slight bit of reservation. We never know what to expect revenue wise, attendance wise, so on and so forth. I will admit I walked through the doors a little guarded. I was however, instantaneously put at ease by the super friendly staff. They did everything to accomodate us and our unreasonable requests. When we thought we had a problem with our space, they weren’t even phased. Before I could even blink, the issue was resolved seamlessly. It was beautiful! It was super well run, super organized, and super staffed. A+ operation indeed.
Our fellow artists and vendors were super awesome as well. It really adds to the con experience that you have cool, talented, and passionate people to talk to during the rare breaks from the booth. We met up with some old friends, made some new ones, swapped war stories, swapped art, it was fantastic. I am most excited about the canvas I got from the wonderful Chelsea Champion (www.luckyblaccat.com), which I have already hung up in my living room for a much needed splash of color, as well as some Mighty Morphing Power Rangers posters obtained from the talented Joseph Bayer (https://www.etsy.com/shop/SpiderStopShop). Can’t wait to put those up! We also got to chat with the delightful Animetalchick (https://www.youtube.com/user/Animetalchick/), who also happened to be a volunteer at the con, making sure we were taken care of when we got there. You’re all alright in our book!
Last but not the least (really more like the mostest) has to be the attendees. There was some concern that the crowd would not be as healthy as we’d like, but within about 10 minutes of the doors being open, we were proven wrong. The anime lovers of Wilmington and the surrounding areas have clearly come to love this young con over the years. People came in from all over (one family I spoke with had come in from Texas!) and the atmosphere was great. Of course brilliant cosplays abounded. My favorite had to be the Journey piece donned by the afore mentioned Chelsea Champion. There was also an awesome nine-tailed fox that you couldn't miss.
And then there were the fans in Boomslank merch, those are by far our favorite. It cannot be overstated the warm feeling that comes from seeing someone in one of our shirts, or talking on one of our phone cases. You guys are the best.
In conclusion, kudos to the organizers of Aniwave. From a vendor point of view, I couldn’t have been more pleased. Well I take that back; I would have been more pleased if it was two days instead of one :p. Something that good should be twice as long, that’s just math. I would also suggest that the dealers be separated from the artist alley. I personally have always been a proponent of a clearly defined artist alley, just a personal preference. This con had the two in the same area. That aside, I haven’t much to say against my experience at the con. We are glad we went, and certainly plan to be there next year.