Not So Frequently Asked Questions

I always love being interviewed. It’s nice when it’s a publication of some kind, but it’s even nicer when it’s from someone who just likes my work and wants to know more.

Yesterday I had just that opportunity. Some people had some questions. As I was answering them, I realized that I must have done a horrible job describing what I do or even providing answers to obvious and potential questions on my site. Anyway, I thought I’d copy/paste that conversation here just in case anyone had the same questions.

Note: The names have been changed to protect the identities of those involved.

Note: The questions are in italics.

Dear Mr. and Mrs. Banana Pants,

Thanks for the inquiry! I am happy to answer any any questions. Feel free to ask more should I have confused you further by my responses (below), which is likely.

For the photo edit option you offer, is that you graphically recreating our pets’ faces and photoshopping them onto whichever outfit/scene we choose?

I don’t recreate it; I just blend your photo into the existing digital painting.

You mentioned using the picture we send you of our pets to upload onto the pre-made drawings, but will this picture be modified to look like it was hand-drawn?

No. It will just be the photo. The clothes are relatively realistic (the newer ones, anyway), so there isn’t a huge need to make the photo look hand-drawn.

Are the examples you have posted on your site examples of the photo edit option or just the drawing option?  If not, do you have any samples of the photo edit option?

On the Gallery page, they are separated. On the samples below the carousel on individual collection pages, they are mixed.

I’m very glad you brought this up – on the individual collection pages, the samples need to have captions with info about whether they are photo edits or drawings. Luckily I know a web developer who can help me with this for a modest $200/hour.

Also, do you have any other examples of a two-pet portrait besides the cat one you have in your gallery?

I will try to find some that aren’t on the site. Surprisingly, most people do not go with the two-pet portrait, so I don’t have a lot of examples.

They can be tricky depending on the outfits you go with. For instance, The Princess (the one with the throne and the squirrels) can look rather awkward paired with The Cowboy – even if those two personalities are spot-on for the pets’ characters. One shows virtually the whole body, and one shows only the waist up. We can discuss this further once you choose the outfits you want.

Also, do you create larger portrait sizes than 11×14?

I limit the size on the photo edits because people usually take photos with their phones, which doesn’t print well at sizes larger than 11”x14”. However if you have a good camera or otherwise have professional photos at a high resolution, then I’m happy to print them at a larger size. The drawing option can go up to 20”x24″.

If so, what would the pricing be on those?

I’ll get back to you. I have to dig up my spreadsheet that contains the difficult calculations with the formulas and whatnot.

Lastly, my friend and I are interested in each having our own portrait created and were wondering if you would do a discounted price for ordering two portraits. Please let me know!

Sure, but primarily because your friend’s dog is named Bessie, which is my dog’s name (actually it’s Bess – but close enough). I will need to base the actual discount partly on what you end up ordering, so I’ll need more information. What are the details of these individual portraits? Photo edit or drawing? Size? Wholly customized or readymade? The other part will involve the creation of a complex algorithm that will deduce whether this will be a “sound business decision”.

Alrighty. I hope this helps. Let me know if you have any more questions.

Thanks again for the kind words, and I look forward to working together, and I also look forward to updating my FAQ page based on your inquiry.

Alright, there you have it, folks. My interview for Mr. and Mrs. Banana Pants.

Wobbly Wacom and a Whiteboard

It’s a blustery day today, both in terms of the weather and in terms of shit happening. But before I launch into it, I have to say that, first and foremost, just as I sat down to write, I found that my Wacom tablet – which is the thingy I use to paint digitally – has all of the sudden become wobbly. It’s like when you’re at a restaurant, and you’re trying to impress your date, and you lean in to talk with an air of sophistication about your accomplishments, your eyes finding theirs like a sparrow alighting on a branch, and you end up spilling the freshly filled waters onto your crotchal area, because the fucking table is wobbly, just like my Wacom is now, except that it’s every 2 microseconds, and your eyes are instead like pterodactyls alighting a giant prehistoric pile of carcasses, because that is what it is like to digitally paint with a wobbly Wacom.

Sorry, I got kind of carried away there. I am just not even going to go back to edit that.

Anyway, I guess I shouldn’t be complaining, since I’ve had my Wacom tablet for six years and it has worked flawlessly despite having enjoyed many sloppy meals directly over it while scanning Facebook and simultaneously trying not to vomit. Even though it is a completely reasonable reaction to 98% of Facebook, I have not vomitted directly on the Wacom itself, so I feel like I deserve to have it wobble free, since holding back puke is rather challenging. Anyway, as I think about my Wacom, I become quite nostalgic. I’ve made so many images with it. I made my first pure-shit digital drawing with it. I only had Adobe CS3. Those were the days. Those days involved creative exploration, a positive attitude, and a lack of basic hygiene. At least I still am giving 100% towards that last one.

Speaking of percentages, I spent only 70% of $100 today on an 8′ x 4′ white board, which I just finished installing in my living room. It’s like a giant sketch pad minus the shame of only having one or two decent drawings in it. I never really got along well with sketchbooks. I always wanted them to be filled with great drawings, but great drawings don’t happen in sketchbooks. Sketchbooks are for sketching and are by definition kind of shitty. But now I can sketch and figure out the shapes of castles and rabbits and bears wearing tuxedos and whatnot. Since that is what I’m going to be focusing on. Here is a sample:

bear wearing tux

This will be my “personal work” and will accompany my Coat & Tails project, since it’s similar in terms of style. But it won’t be similar in terms of concept, so I’m a little hesitant. I might need to go under a different name, since there’s a very large chance that I’ll alienate my target audience by showing animals wielding what some might decide is weaponry.

What else? There are a lot of portraits in the works, and a few done, notably:

pomeranian portrait

That is Pica, and he has a lot of followers on Instagram.

Also in the works is a Napoleon portrait and some of the standard ones I’m not done with yet.

Ok! Consider yourselves updated and also lucky because I didn’t overshare or mention anything that might make you uncomfortable, which I’m wont to do. On that note, I am going to continue sitting here in my underwear trying to figure out how to balance my Wacom.

Color and some other things

In my last post, I overshared some details about my disinclination for cleaning. That was roughly 1 to 5 weeks ago, so I feel like I should update you on how that’s going, partly because it’s incredibly interesting, and partly because I know you’re eager to read more about this radical new contraption – the vacuum – that I’ve acquired.

But the truth is that I haven’t used it at all. The vines and the weeds of my stuff (and the stuff that I’ve tracked in from all the mountain bicycling) have been creeping in as I move through life. It’s really just unmanageable madness, but I have developed the ability to avoid focusing on it. I feel surrounded by a chaos that seems inevitable, and yet control is the key to survival. It’s pretty challenging.

Anyway, I do come with some actual news about Coat and Tails. I had a bit of a meltdown this past week that may or may not have been girl-related, and I didn’t really do much. But once it passed, I was reborn, and I got my shit together and made some things. One of said things is a colorful astronaut:

astronaut dog

Obviously I am not done.

Here are some done ones:

playboy dog

pit bull civil war

That last one was a bit of an aberration – I get a lot of weird requests around Valentine’s day.

The Impo(r)tance of Cleaning

by Coat & Tails on

For those of you who love irrelevant, picture-less blog posts in which the author quotes himself, this post is dedicated to you.

I shall begin thusly:

“I’ll clean when I have nothing better to do.”
-Bryce Dishongh

I spent a lot of time this weekend behind both the computer and the handlebars. At first, I thought it was an ideal balance of physical exertion and mental stimulation, but now I think I might have overdone it, since I’m goddamned sick of looking at code and I’m also limping from several humorous crashes I endured whilst mountain bicycling upon the Mountains of South Dallas.

Overdoing it to this extent also has the following negative consequence: a lack of routine maintenance of the hygienic variety. For instance, I have cleaned or vacuumed my apartment the exact number of times that I’ve used my stove: zero.

So when I couldn’t stand to draw another dog hair, copy and paste another line of code, or force another pedal stroke, I embraced the opportunity to face the squalor. Thusly and accordingly, I hauled my limping arse over to my favorite local business, Target, for some much needed cleaning supplies.

I procured a locally sourced vacuum cleaner and an artisanal toilet brush.

Upon arriving home, I put on some soothing music by the new-age group AC/DC.

My dog was terrified of the vacuum. Actually, I’m not sure if she was terrified of the vacuum or just really weirded out by watching me clean, since she’s never seen that happen before. Her expression seemed to be saying, “Who are you?” as equally as it could have been “What the fuck is that giant loud thing?”
My downstairs neighbor, on the other hand, might have been inclined to ponder the latter question.

Anyway, I’m happy to report that my carpets are now non-bio-hazardous and I no longer appear ghost-like in the mirror.

You could even say that it is ready for visitors.

Actually, nah. That would require a lot more cleaning. Cleaning of a figurative nature, too, I’m afraid. Furthermore it is likely to be the trainwrecked lion’s den of bikes and boxes that it was before last night’s dabbling in domesticity in approximately no time.

That said, I would like to formally announce that Coat & Tails is hiring an intern. I’m particularly looking for candidates majoring in Janitorial Science. Unfortunately this is a non-paid internship, but winning candidates will get real-world experience in a new, up-and-coming industry.

A Chihuahua as The Intellectual

Since moving to South Dallas from South Austin, I’ve undergone a rather abrupt change in psychology. I’m more mature and less wildly hairy. Going out has lost much of its appeal. A lot of that is simply being physically far away from bars worthy of patronizing, but it’s also that I’m creeping into my mid-30s, which for me means that everything is increasingly irritating. Since I was already a crusty old man by the time I was 22, by now I’m about ready to join AARP.

For instance, on Friday night, I stayed in and performed routine bicycle maintenance whilst watching a television program offering by an obscure internet streaming service called Netflix. Granted, I was at various points swiping left and maybe even right on an arcane match-making application called Tinder, but that was the extent of my socializing.

This new life has lent itself to developing a variety of skills required for the socially awkward annoyed. One such skill is mountain bicycling. Since there is a trail directly outside my current place of residence, I have been frequently bicycling upon the mountains of South Dallas. I went yesterday two times. Two times! Bess was thrilled. She runs alongside me. And, when I eat shit and lay prostrate upon the crags in agony screaming expletives, she comforts me.

Another skill I’ve been developing requires some context. I don’t want to brag, but literally I have at least one visitor looking at – and maybe even reading – this blog every single day (in retrospect, this might actually be me). I don’t really know how they end up here, but I feel inclined to mention that I do sometimes paint pet portraits. That is definitely a skill that I’ve been developing. And yesterday, between bouts of mountain bicycling and Bess-spooning and eating out of the can – I drew a chihuahua:

chihuahua

And here is its development:

chihuahua gif

And now, I am pleased to present a sales pitch.

If you are as impressed with me as I am with myself, and you’d like to have me draw your pet wearing this outfit, click hereabouts.

/end salespitch/

/start PR nightmare/

And now I must go enjoy several beverages of an alcoholic nature whilst changing the brake cables on my road bike (The Hooptie) for no reason.

New Webshiz

by Coat & Tails on

There’s nothing more horrifying for me than losing a general feeling of control over the things I care about. Take my dog disturbing people, for instance. When she doesn’t come when I call, I feel completely out of control. And the anxiety that comes from feeling powerless turns me into a some kind of weird half-bearded drill instructor. My wrath is uncharacteristically furious. This is why Bess is so well behaved and maybe why she’s even a little bit anxious.

This is also why I decided to alter my physiology to preclude the event of bearing children.

Being compulsive just wouldn’t work that well with children. It works ok with dogs, as we have seen. But you know what it works especially well with? Relationships!

Just joking.

Websites! It works incredibly well with websites!

Web developers are the modern mechanics. You say “Something’s not right” and they say something unintelligible like “Yeah the jQuery isn’t calling the right HTML tag.” And because you have no idea what the shit they’re talking about, you pay whatever they ask.

Which is not good for me because I care deeply about my website, so when it breaks, I kind of freak out.

It recently broke, and I kind of freaked out.

So I needed to know what jQuery is and why the hell the HTML wasn’t coming when it was called, just like my dog.

So what did I do?

If you said “learn programming so you can do it yourself,” you’re horribly wrong!

If you said “learn just enough to fix the problem and add the changes you want,” you’re horribly right!

Yes it was horrible. But after spending roughly 14 hours studying the codebase, I did actually figure out how to dynamically present content that is stored in a database that is managed through an administrative interface.

See, I even know all that techy sounding developer lingo bullshit!

And thusly and accordingly I am proud to present the new and improved Clothes page:

webshiz

The problem I was trying to solve was adding samples so people could see what the outfit looked like on different types of pets. A lot of people just made their decision based on the model; for instance, The Intellectual has a Chihuahua as the model, and I kept getting orders for Chihuahuas. Which is fine, but now I hope to get orders for other types of dogs, because now people will be able to see what that costume might look like on their dog.

IS YOUR MIND BLOWN OR WHAT?

This new design also offers a description of the clothes and why I drew them and, at the bottom, there is a “Celebrities with this Personality” section.

And thusly and accordingly, after a metric fuck-ton of work that would impress approximately zero developers, I’m also pleased to present to you a huge amount of smugness:

lookin' smug

Further, as a hip young startup that consummates its victories by throwing extravagant parties in order to attract and keep young talent for almost no compensation, I’ll be celebrating the milestone by ordering Jimmy John’s and sitting around in my underwear emanating the kind of self-satisfaction you see when someone drifts into the parking spot you wanted at the grocery store on a Sunday afternoon.

A Year in Review

It is the last day of 2015. Everyone is posting their “most liked photos of 2015” on social media, which I guess is mildly interesting. But I’m not going to do that. I’m just as interested in the failures as I am in the successes. As nostalgia is both bitter and sweet, it’s been both fun and horrible to compile this list. So, feel free to pour yourself some of this frighteningly cheap boxed wine and join me as I reminisce.

January: I launched a new website

The whole process was like conceiving, carrying, and giving birth to an illegitimate child: the idea was conceived after I got home from the bar; I spent the next nine months developing the idea, eating weird food, and crying uncontrollably; and finally, when the idea was ready to come into the world, I hired a developer who, like a doctor, had me up at 4 AM–screaming and on strong drugs–and who in the end charged me a huge sum of money.

And the launch party was like a baby shower: all of my friends were there (Bess); it was catered (by Dominos); and there was a photo booth (provided by Macintosh).

Now that the site is a year old, the metaphor still holds in that my site makes huge messes and keeps me up at night.

I can only hope that this is where the metaphor ends, because I don’t think I can handle the Terrible Twos.

However, it might be nice if the site grew up and was able to pay for my hospice.

January: I was in Austin Monthly

This was pretty out of the blue but very timely (because my site would be launching in the same month) and undeserved (I didn’t even know how to digitally paint that well!).

austin monthly pet portrait artist

That was my old place of residence. I moved my bed to the backyard to make this shot happen.

Either way it was pretty cool. Bess loved the camera. Link to the article is here.

February: I started Philanthropomorphize, a monthly fundraiser

The beginning of the year is particularly difficult for non-profits because the giving season is over. People are less compelled to give, since many have already given their money to other non-profits or to The Mall. So I wanted to help my friends at Love-a-Bull by having a fundraiser to help boost sales during these slow times. Also to drive traffic to my site.

Anyway, because these shirts were being sold to raise money, I would be ordering the exact amount after the fundraiser was over, which meant that customers who chose to participate wouldn’t actually be receiving their shirts for like a month. Which sucked, but I tried to warn everyone everywhere. Most people received the message and were happy to be helping Love-a-Bull. Others were not, which was disappointing, but probably inevitable.

Then, with the help of Love-a-Bull’s marketing skillz and a feature on 365 Things to do in Austin, I got a shitload of orders. So I had to carefully calculate every single order to be sure that I got the right number of shirts. As a fairly right-brained person, this was a challenge. A huge challenge, and I hated it. I mean it involved a fucking spreadsheet, for chrissakes.

But, during that month, we were able to organically raise over $1200.

That experience sparked two things: the first was doing it every month, and the second was automating the process.

Regarding the former, I reached out to groups, made some web pages, designed some shirts, and branded it with a short, easy-to-say name: Philanthropomorphize.

tee sale dog

Regarding the latter – automating the process – I got my friend Jim the Developer to write some sort of nerdy code thing which creates a crazy file whatnot that I now send to a fulfillment company, who processes the orders, all so that I don’t have to deal with any of those horrible spreadsheets.

So, in 2016, I plan to continue with this, except I hope that the shirts, like my work in general, will be much better than my last round.

March: I learned how to paint like a normal person

Although I’ve been painting digitally since the beginning, I was doing it horribly wrong. The result? Horribleness. I figured that since my whole business is now based on digital work, I needed to perhaps formally educate myself. Thusly I attended the prestigious School of YouTube Videos and practiced a lot.

May: Paws ‘n’ Pints

If you thought that the inclusion of my guest appearance in Austin Monthly was really just a cloaked form of showing off my wild success, this should ground your perception.

Through a weird connection, I had a meeting with the lovely people at Scoot Inn, who were interested in having a dog-themed happy hour thing. Having been in the underground pet-portrait game for over three years, I’ve developed a variety of contacts. So the plan was to brand the event, schedule rescues and vendors, and raise some money.

That didn’t work out at all.

First, it was on like a Tuesday during happy hour. The city is gridlocked during that time. People have been running around all day, working, trying to get home, picking up dogs and kids, blah blah blah. So, asking them to come out was like politely asking Bess to stop chasing a squirrel at full sprint.

Even when some vendors and neighborhood folk did come out, it was either hot as ballz or raining.

But, on the bright side–both literally and figuratively–the Pet Costume Party was pretty legit.

dog with bow tie and hat

And plus I had every excuse in the world to get sloppy drunk on a Tuesday evening, and by anyone’s standards, that is a success in its own right.

August: I started this blog

Again, Jim the Developer helped me out with that. Thanks, Jim the Developer.

At first I really didn’t know what to write about. Writing about artwork seems boring, so I knew that I didn’t want it to just be about that. What seemed interesting to me was illustrating my life as a dog owner through pseudo comics. It involves a different style of painting, which has been great fun to explore.

Speaking of blogging, I find it incredibly irritating when bloggers blog about blogging, so I’m not going to write about it anymore and instead show you pictures of animals.

All Year Long: People’s Pet Photos

People upload photos on my site everyday. Just as people are looking at their “most liked photos of 2015”, I would like to present to you “the photos that I liked the most during 2015.”

that face

cat with tongue out

dog with food

dog in woods

remy with beard

cat

cat painting

haha

dog with gun

WTF?

dog on logs

And there you have it. That was 2015. Sure, there was some shit that I left out, but, to be totally frank, I have lunch plans in half an hour and I haven’t showered.

So have a happy and safe New Year from your friend at Coat and Tails Pet Portraits!

Christmas Season Wrap Up

When I started Coat & Tails three years ago, I had no idea how hectic Christmas would get. A lot of it was that I had zero processes in place to streamline the orders and I wasn’t really that great at digital painting. It was also because Bess thought it’d be hilarious to gnaw on my stylus.

This year was a bit different. It was the first time my site and my new business model were put to the test. High-volume/low-cost is a lot different from low-volume/high-cost (although I hit all points along that spectrum, fewer people choose the high-cost option). The biggest difference is the system. Which I’m trying to improve.

Along those lines, I’m starting to offer free portraits for those who agree to participate in a user group. If you choose to be involved, we’ll basically set up a call and I’ll watch you use my site to see which parts suck horribly and which parts are working as intended. If you want to participate, click here.

Anyway, I thought it’d be fun to show you some of the portraits I did this year.

This is Frankie and Teddy. This one is 16″ x 20″, so that is why it is a bit more detailed than some of the other ones you might see around. The customer had only one revision after the final draft was delivered: that I add more fuzz for Teddy, since he’s “quite the fuzzball.” Excellent.

two cats wearing clothes

This is Chloe. Evidently she sleeps a lot.
cat wearing clothes

This is Sullivan. I think. He had a twin and I could never get their names right.
cat wearing clothes

Here’s Sullivan’s brother. (Notice how they’re wearing the same outfits!)
cat wearing clothes

Here’s their other cat, Warren:

cat wearing clothes

Here’s Gus and Charlie. Don’t know anything about these two.

dog and cat wearing clothes

Here’s Quincy, who unfortunately died recently. Like the first one, this one is also 16″ x 20″ – hence all the detail.
cat wearing clothes

Here is Manly. Although he’s drinking scotch here, I think he also very much enjoys Dos Equis.
cat wearing clothes

Here are a couple of badasses.
cat wearing clothes

Here’s Benny:
cat wearing clothes

Here’s Slim. This one was tough because the only photos of her weren’t great, so I had to improvise. The client was mainly wanting the eyes to stand out.
dog wearing victorian clothes

Here’s Jack, perhaps drinking Jack.
man of leisure

Max, Skittle, and Maris:

"pet

Bella:
"dog

Thanks to all who ordered! Hope the recipients of these gifts were pleased.

— Brycycle “loose fit” Dishrag

A quick reminder about Christmas, along with some other things

Introductory remarks regarding cats and the internet and Instagram

Today I told someone that I dabble in pet portraiture. Here’s our conversation:

“I dabble in pet portraiture.”

“Have you ever seen those cat videos on the internet?”

“Uh you mean, like, generally?” I asked, nonplussed.

“Yeah!” she said, excitedly.

“Yep, I have seen some.”

And that was where the conversation ended.

When I tell people I paint pet portraits, the reactions tend to range mostly in terms of their enthusiasm:

“Oh that’s kind of cool.” -My stylist.

to

“OH MY GOD LET ME SHOW YOU 18 PHOTOS OF MY DOG BATMAN AND WILL YOU PAINT HIM WEARING A TUXEDO?” -Visitor who came to my booth but who could serve as a representative segment for my target demographic except for the Batman part.

(Not sure why they’d want me to paint Batman as Bruce Wayne but it’s whateverz.)

Again, the range is mostly in terms of enthusiasm rather than relevance. Perhaps one day I’ll have enough wildly irrelevant reactions to report an entirely new spectrum.

Christmas

Ok so Christmas. The orders thereof are starting to drizzle in, so I want to remind the two or three people who read this blog that they should go ahead and place their Bruce Wayne-themed orders before I drape all of my online things with “No More Christmas Orders! (I’m backed up like The Penguin after eating an entire cheese plate.)”

I’d also like to remind all two or three of you that you can now order at a range of price points. You can get a photo edit (the HEB of my products), a drawing (the Randall’s of my products), or a totally custom portrait (the Whole Foods of my products). Below explains things in perhaps a better way than using a random grocery store metaphor.

Photo Edit

The “photo edit” option is the cheapest, starting at only $30. For that option, I take your photo:

dog

…isolate the face:

westie face

…and incorporate it onto the costume you choose:

westie wearing tuxedo

…and optionally you can get it framed thusly:

framed westie tuxedo

The drawbacks here are as follows:

  • If the lighting is different from the costume you choose, the composition will be inconsistent.
  • If the photo is blurry or grainy, it won’t look as good as a drawing.
  • If the photo is taken from a perspective that differs from the drawing, it won’t come out as well – it will look photo-edited.
  • Because most people use their phones to take photos, I have to cap the size to 11″x14″. So basically with this option, you cannot get a print larger than 11″x14″.

However, there are plusses:

  • Cheaper, starting at $30
  • Faster turnaround
  • If you upload a good photo, then it often looks better than the drawing. My drawings of clothes are relatively realistic, so a good photo works pretty well

If you choose the Photo Edit option, you might consider reading my Wall of Fame and Shame to get a sense of the types of photos that work best.

Drawing Option

The “drawing” option is more expensive, starting at $96. For that option, I actually draw your pet’s face onto the clothes you select.

For instance, if you upload this:

rocko

..starting at $96, you get this:

dog head tuxedo

Just joking; you’ll get this:

Dog Portrait

Please note, however, that the above was drawn at the 20×24″ size. If you order an 8×10″, it won’t be as detailed.

Similarly, the Drawing option has its positives and negatives:

Plusses follow thusly:

  • It looks like it was drawn by the same hand. After all, it was. This is rarely the case with the photo edit option
  • I can draw it up to 20″x24″.

Minuses follow accordingly:

  • More expensive: starting at $96.
  • Slower turnaround. It takes me longer to draw it.

Totally Custom Portrait

The final option is the totally custom option, which you’ll have to email me about (bryce@coatandtails.com). Don’t worry I’m more pleasant via email than via blog.

Preparation is the Key to the Castle One Bedroom Apartment of Stress Management

To further prepare for when the Christmas drizzle of loveliness becomes a Christmas deluge of death and horror, I have been working on revamping some of my portraits so they look their Friday best for Christmas day. Most recently, I updated The Civil War General (see above).

It’s notable that although I’m mostly devolving as a human being, I’m generally evolving as a digital painter. So the products I was offering last year are what I affectionately call “shit” nowadays. You can see from the image below that I had no fucking idea how to draw animal faces this time last year:

animal heads art

And it’s probably safe to assume that by this time next year, I will rather affectionately call the above “good” face of 2015 “horrid shit” – and I hope that I will, since it will mean that I have gotten much better.

I predict that 2016 and beyond will bring about some excellent progress in perhaps the following vein:

hi guys

Obviously I’m planning to lose my shit completely and draw from my guts rather than from my brain. Then and only then can I use hashtags like #detail and #realism.

Ultimately I’m happy to report that I have most of my old shitty drawings updated and prepped for the Christmas onslaught.

Victorian + Surreal = The Treacherous Future of Coat & Tails

I have also been working on a possible development in my style. Like a good member of the South Dallas community (AKA the Arboretum), I was hanging out at Barnes and Noble, and I came across a book about Mark Ryden.

The intro was about the rebirth of kitsch, which was consoling, since what I do is pretty kitschy, although it’s not as bad as the “bad kitsch” I see by some people who are in my line of work.

I liked Ryden’s style and felt inspired by it and I wondered if I could perhaps add a touch of the kitsch-surreal to my portraits, as I am sometimes wont to do with my personal work, which includes random fish floating by:

fishies!

or lamps paired with Elizabethan collars:

squirrel

Thuswise, I started to thumb through the internet for inspiration. Once I got past all those cat videos on which the internet was founded, I came across several inspiring Victorian photographs and attempted to add the aforementioned surreal component:

organ cat piano

This is not done but hopefully you see the direction: the giant fat keys, the pipes that I made up (intentionally to resemble kazoos). The key difference is that I used to achieve realism whereas now I try to achieve realism mixed with invention. Which is difficult, since there is no reference.

Ultimately what I’m saying is that it’s kind of a challenge to balance both a touch of the absurdly ornate style of all things Victorian:

victorian organ

….with the often simple nature of surrealism:

mark ryden's The Ecstasy of Cecelia

(via Mark Ryden at www.markryden.com)

For the visual learner (or the learner who finds the above unintelligible), here’s a diagram of the Venn variety:

your friendly pet portrait artist

So after I microwave a frozen chicken breast and wash it down with approximately five Lone Stars, I will likely attempt to pursue finishing Organ Lady in all her properness.

Although now, after having written that sentence, I am inclined to hit the town to pursue a lady who is (1) not a cat and (2) lacks properness.

“kuh shh,” said my beer as I opened another one.