Make Moves is a phrase that hand lettering artist and designer, Adam Gonzalez, lives his life by. He recently created stickers from that design and I was able to get my hands on one, when I met him at Creative South. So naturally the sticker made it into my sketchbook for the I See You, I Hear You project.Read More
I am so very grateful I mustered up the courage to say "hello" to Diane Gibbs even though I had to leave and was nervous (maybe even scared]...Read More
Prior to Creative South Scotty was someone I could only describe to others as my internet creative mentor or internet friend, but now...Read More
Do you find yourself wishing you could've seen an obstacle before you stumbled over it (figuratively speaking)? I have realized that surrounding oneself in a community of like minded people [creative, faith based, etc...] serves as a lighthouse for the journey you are on.Read More
Apologies for the delayed newsletter. We were experiencing a few technical difficulties with the the website. Everything is resolved and functioning properly now after a few days, and late nights, of troubleshooting. Phew! This newsletter is what should've gone out last Thursday. You will still be receiving this Thursday's email right on schedule.
Thank you for your kindness and patience.
... onto more important things.
The Cuttink-y Tools
A question I am asked often is “what type of tools do you use?” So I figured it is time I wrote about the tools that are part of my arsenal.
Pocket sized sketchbook
One of my first products created were Cuttink mini-books. I use them all the time and am alway carrying them in my pocket. It is great item to have on me at all times. Especially when it is sized perfectly to fit in my pocket. They are perfect to jot down ideas or do a quick sketch whenever inspiration or ideas hit me. This allows me to not forget awesome ideas that come to me at times where I cannot sit down and create.
Now, any pocket sized sketchbook or notebook will work, I just happen to love the Cuttink ones a lot ;).
You can read more about the mini-books here.
I find myself usuing watercolor paper for mostly all of the paper cutting pieces and ink drawing work I do. I normally purchase the different size pads depending on the size of the work I am creating at that time. I enjoy the thickness and rigidity of the paper as it holds up well even after it has been cut. It holds the ink well too and has an amazing texture to it. The thickness of the paper also allows for light to cast a shadow onto the wall behind it without allowing light to go through the acutal paper itself.
The Clutch Lead holder contains 5.6mm lead. It is definitely much thicker than a traditional pencil but I enjoy the bold weight for the free hand sketching part of my process. The aluminum body and tapered shape of it make it comfortable to hold. It even has an integrated sharpener in the cap.
Other than the lead holder (see above) that I use, I find myself using a 0.5 BIC Mechanical pencil, No.2 lead.
It should come as no surprise to any of you that I solely use Micron pens for all of my inking work. I love them and treasure them. I own a set from 005(.20mm) to 08(.50mm) tips. However I find myself using the 005, 01 and 02 the most. I own these microns in black (mainly), blue, green, red and brown.
Occasionaly I find myself having to fill in a larger area with black ink. If this is the case I use a fine tip Sharpie marker.
The Knife itself: To cut the paper I use a rubber grip X-acto knife. I choose the rubber coated knife over the metal one as it feels better in my hand. I find that the metal ones last a lot longer than the rubber coated ones. So it is definitely a personal preference.
The Blades: For the longest time I was using the ‘normal’ X-acto blades for all of my cuts, the ones that everyone recognizes. I noticed that these blades were not the best for cutting more intricate curved lines. So after a little bit of research I came across the #12 small and curved blades that I use now for pieces that have a lot of curves. I switch between the blades depending on the cuts that I need to make. This also allows me to prolong the life of the blade by not forcing it to bend and turn in a way that it is not designed to.
NOTE: Change blades when they become dull. If you don’t it will only hurt you and your work. You will use more force and strength to cut the paper than necessary.
I have three Alvin and Co. self healing cutting mats.
1] A 24x36 inch mat which is permanently on my workspace desk. 2] The second is a 12x18 inch mat and will occasionally travel with me if I’m working on a medium size piece away from my studio.
3] The last one is a 8.5x11 inch mat which travels with me most of the time.
I occasionally find myself using color, a very recent step as I am not very sure of my color choices. But when I do I use a set of Prismacolor Watercolor Pencils as it works best with the watercolor paper that I draw on.
If you have any other questions that you would like me to answer, click on the ‘reply’ button.
I am sorry for leaving you guys newsletter-less for the past couple weeks without any notice. I'm not happy that I allowed myself to do that and am working towards not allowing that to ever happen again. That said, let us get back on track.
What's happened during the last couple weeks?
It has been a busy couple of weeks here at Cuttink and on the personal side too. Many things have happened and there are a few exciting things that are in the works.
On May 9th and 10th Cuttink was at the largest craft fair, Art Star Craft Bazaar, we've been at. Both days were awesome, filled with old friends, new friends, new connections and a lot more sales than I had anticipated.
Any new products?
I released a new t-shirt. The 'Weather Through the Storm' tee. Each t-shirt is made with love and care. Waterbased ink -- so soft to the touch and no "thick ink" feel -- printed on Royal Heather Blue American Apparel tees. Each shirt has a hand sewn tag at the bottom and is packaged in a beautiful white box.
The image on the t-shirt is very important to me as it reminds me that I need to always keep looking forward no matter how tough the 'now' is. The turbulent waves represent whatever hardships that you or I may be facing at this time. The moon, as all of you may know, is something that I consider to be beautiful and peaceful. Having the turbulent time set to a back drop of the moon serves as a reminder for me to 'ride the waves' and 'go with the flow'. No matter how tough what I'm facing currently is, if I can weather through the turbulent waves, I will come out stronger and tougher.
Check out the images below to see a few pictures of the t-shirt.
Below: The 'Weather Through the Storm' tee
Thank you guys, once again, for being fantastic people and staying interested in what I write to you.
Is there are any questions about ink drawing, paper cutting, t-shirt printing, packaging or design in general that you would like answered? please send me an email by hitting the 'reply' button. I'd love to know what you guys would like to hear about.
I have said this before and will say it again, I am very blessed to be surrounded by talented, passionate, knowledgable and good people. This has been monumentally helpful for me and I hope that you have this in your lives too.
A few friends and I meet weekly to keep each other on track with our creative pursuits. I remember a few months before I decided to make this a regular action in my life thinking to myself that I did not need another person's help. I can keep myself on track and achieve all the goals I made for myself.
The problem with this was I never spent time checking in with myself about where I was going, was I hitting all of the goal I set or even did the direction and the steps I was taking make sense. I would keep moving deadlines simply because I did not complete tasks in time. I would round about steps simply because I did not see the effective option. Don't get me wrong. I was making forward progress, but just not at a pace I would have liked. So the current plan and trajectory was awfully ineffective and started to become frustrating
Having these meetings have helped me to stay focused. We have created a safe space at each meeting to catch up, talk about whether we've hit our goals, future direction, what we are creating, etc. Having these meetings with consistent regularity has made it possible for all of us to plug away at the work ahead of us and also see new directions or processes we may not have seen.
I urge you to check in with yourself and with other people consistently. I really do feel this is a very important way in which we can all grow no matter what we are trying to do. Whether it is growing in your faith, creativity or business, we all need to be surrounded by people who are willing to be part of that journey with you and keep you focused.
I would love to hear back from you about the processes that you have in place to keep you focused? Also, if you have any questions that you'd like me to tackle in my future posts, simply hit the 'reply' button. I love hearing from you.
Did you know that I have pocket sized sketchbooks, notebooks and checklists?
Recap of the Chapterhouse Cafe and Gallery opening
Last time I checked in with you, I was getting new work ready for a show at Chapterhouse Cafe and Gallery in South Philadelphia. The opening was a wonderful experience. Many of you showed up and were amazingly supportive. Thank you! The show will remain up on the walls at the cafe for another two and a half months. If you find yourself by the cafe, stop by and check it out.
When it came to pricing the pieces for the show, for the first time I decided to price the pieces for value instead of pricing them to sell. It was a difficult process. In the past I had always priced my work on the lower end so that they would sell. But the drawback to this scenario is that I never felt fulfilled or happy with letting go of the piece that had just sold. I feel much better with the pricing of the pieces for this show. I realize that I want the people looking at it to value the piece as much as I do. I do myself an injustice by not communicating that value too.
Coming up soon
On Saturday the 25th of April I will be at Go West Craft Fest in West Philadelphia with many other talented crafters from the area. If you have some time and are looking for something to do this weekend, then I hope you will consider coming to this.
Also on May 9th and 10th (mother's day weekend) I will be at the Art Star Craft Bazzar on Penn's Landing, once again, with many other talented crafters and artists seeing our wares. By this event I will have new t-shirts and some new products ready to launch. Keep your eyes peeled for more information about this.
While I was working on creating pieces for the show opening I re-realized that creating something on a consistent basis is so energy giving. It has put me in such a better mood and also given me momentum. The difficulty comes in maintaining this momentum that I have now.
How am I going to use the momentum I have now? I am working on creating some new products and talking with the people who will be able to make these ideas and concepts come to life. I am excited to see them come to fruition and go through the process of it all.
It is Thursday and I am starting to feel all of the 'feels'. I am nervous, excited, anxious and overly critical. Tomorrow is the opening of my show at Chapterhouse Cafe and Gallery and I am excited for my show to go up. I still have a few loose ends to tie up. But at the same time I'm beginning to become overly critical of the work I've created for this show. I am learning that staring at the work for a week or two straight without break is not helpful. I need to allow for my work to 'breath' and allow myself to step away from it. I am also realizing that we never stop learning, even from our own processes.
I am going to keep this email short and I hope to see you guys out at the show's opening tomorrow. For more information about it you can go to the show page.
SNEAK PEEK OF SOME OF THE NEW STUFF
You Are Invited
So I am now officially a week and a day away from my first show of the year. If you are not sure what I am talking about and want to know about the events I will be participating in, go to cut.ink/events. If you would like to see what I have been working on lately you should stop by Chapterhouse Coffeeshop and Gallery at 620 S. 9th Street in Philadelphia. The opening of the show will be on April 10th (Friday) from 7pm to 10pm and will remain up until June 9th. I hope to see you there!
What I am Struggling With
On a different note, I've been struggling through my busyness. Lately I find myself on a regular basis telling people that "I have been so busy". Problem with this is that I do not have enough done for the show. I feel like this is a common struggle for a lot of us. We get so caught up in the 'grind' that we forget to make time to do the things that we are actually passionate about.
Stay Organized and Clean
I realized that the reason I've also felt so busy and anxious about creating is that I did not create a safe and clean space to create in. This for me was a huge factor that slowed down my creative process and even kept me from generating art. I spent a majority of yesterday, after my day job, cleaning, de-cluttering and organizing my studio. This was long overdue. I cannot explain to you the huge difference it is making. My mind feels so clear and able to focus on the task at hand now instead of being distracted by the mess and disarray. I know where I can find everything I need and I know that when I am in my studio that it is 'go' time.
Sleep and Rest
The other factor that was hindering from me creating well was lack of sleep and rest. I had fallen into a habit of staying awake till 12am to 1 am and then going to bed. This was not helpful to me as I always want to wake up early and do some creative work but have such a hard time waking up. Recently my accountability partner Eric Friedensohn of Efdot studio during our meeting quoted Sean McCabe's podcast "a productive day starts with the night before." WOW! That is so true. I need to get myself together and set better practices the night before to help me when I wake up to be creatively productive. Set two or three things that I HAVE to get done. Wake up and tackle that before I do anything else, after I've gotten a full night's sleep. The clarity that I have a after my initial grogginess is amazing. I have not yet gotten distracted by the worlds stresses or looked at my phone and therefore am able to give a 100% of my focus to the tasks at hand.
So having a cleaner studio space and resting are two practices that I am putting into place to combat my constant feeling of anxiety from the lack of art and busyness.
Everyone has the same 24 hours in a day. Even the people whom we admire have the same amount of time. (Another thing I heard on Sean McCabe's podcast. The podcast has a lot of good stuff and you guys should give it a try).
What are the practices that you have in place to combat the busyness you may be feeling? Are these real struggles for you? Write back if you are comfortable. I would love to hear from you guys.
INK + PAINT ON WOOD
Something I've Realized I'm Lacking
As I look back at my old work and even my current work I notice that the one thing lacking is documentation of my process. I never really took the time in the past to take photographs, videos or even write about the process of each project and piece that I created. So for 2015 I want to make sure I create more and document every new piece.
Steps I will take to document each piece
- I will start taking ‘process’ pictures at set intervals while I work on the project
- I will record video of the creation of the project (possibly multiple angles)
- I will write up a case study on the more important projects to share with others
What this will allow me to achieve
When I look at many of the artists and creatives that I follow, the one thing I really enjoy more than the final piece they’ve created is the sneak peeks, teasers, write-ups, progress videos and pictures they’ve posted.
I cannot get enough of these because they allow me to join the creative journey. I sometimes even learn new processes and applications. I was first drawn to ink art when I watched a short video of Si Scott creating one of his illustrations. It was no longer than 30 seconds of him drawing and a final shot of the finished piece, but those precious seconds were enough to educate me and hook me.
I want to do the same for someone else. Maybe I have something to share that someone else in the world is eagerly waiting for.
What to look forward to
I am setting up my space to make it conducive to creating and taking photos and videos. At the moment I do not have a fancy video camera and will probably use my phone or a “point and shoot” camera to collect footage. I can upgrade equipment as I am able. I will also be writing case studies, as mentioned before, for the projects.
I cannot wait to show you all what I will be working on.
Finally, thank you for all of the responses to the Nature vs City question from my previous email. If you still want to respond, feel free to do so. It was great to hear from many of you.
Hope you have a wonderful rest of your week.
Bookmark for a friend
I'm grateful for you!
I want to start off by apologizing for writing to you later than I usually do. This week has been a difficult one. I am sick, taking care of myself and hoping to be better soon.
During this "down" time I was thinking about how grateful I am to all of you who read the newsletters that are sent out. I've received many responses from you and that is very encouraging. I've also had some very insightful and amazing email conversations with you.
If there are any topics that you'd like me to tackle, feel free to respond to this email with them and I'll tackle that topic in an upcoming newsletter.
I hope that you are doing well and thawing from the winter season we just had and are looking forward to the new-ness of spring.
Nature vs. City
Not so long ago I drew and cut this piece and I'm really proud of it. There is a lot of detail and time that went into it. What kind of person do you feel like you are, nature or a city person?
I am currently on a mini-vacation and am using this time to take in inspiration not only from online sources but from the places I am visiting and my surroundings.
Today I had the opportunity to go to my first Cirque du Soleil show. I cannot even begin to describe to you the amount of talent that was showcased in the event. I am still picturing the show in my head hours after it has ended. Wow!
I hope to continue to allow myself to experience many more inspirational sources in the next few days and use this inspiration to create new artwork and content.
In other news, I wanted to let you know that I will be participating in a few craft fairs in 2015 and have a couple art shows. To check out the events that Cuttink will be at please go the the events page on the website.
For some reason the statement “Work smarter, not harder” has been showing up on my social media feeds a lot lately. Initially I took it at face value and said to myself that makes sense. But the more I thought about it, the more I began to disagree with it. There is a flaw in this statement that I missed initially.
NOT harder? Why not work harder?
Nothing comes to fruition without hard work and dedication. I think the statement makes more sense if it reads “Work smarter AND harder.” Now we are not simply just using our brain, but also putting in the effort to back up the smart work we are doing.
Without the hard work of sowing we do not appreciate the benefits of what we reap. When I hear “work smarter,” I feel that many people mean “take the easier route.” Take the path that cuts the time in half and possibly even cuts some corners. Immediately after comes “not harder,” implying that we can then be a little lazier as the work is now simpler. NO. Unacceptable.
Now what if work smarter meant let us figure out if what we are doing is important or if we are wasting time? Are we being efficient? Are we effective at what we are doing? We should assess and trim the “fluff” off, all the while *working harder* to achieve goals. Use our hands. Get dirty. Make mistakes, and learn from them. This is what I would rather the phrase mean.
When some people see my paper cutting work, they jump to suggest the way for me to produce more work in less time. “Use a laser cutter,” they say. I disagree strongly with this. Viewers do not get to see me if I were to use a lasercutter. No beautiful imperfections, no passion. I choose to put in the hard work, learning better techniques and working smarter as a result of these practices. This is work I love, and shortcuts are not good enough for me.
I think it is so easy for us, feeling the many pressures of modern society, to always look for the easy way out. I know that I do that often enough. But one area that I refuse to do so is when it comes to my creative life. It is important for me to put in the hard work, and from the hard work learn to work smarter. This is something I can definitely get behind.
Work smarter AND harder, friends!
I would love to hear back from you guys so if you'd like to talk more about this topic or have any topics you'd like to hear more about, let me know by hitting the "reply" button.
Also feel free to share this post or newsletter with your friends if they can benefit from it.
Recently I was approached by two of my awesome and talented friends, Raleigh and Kirby, who asked me to create this ink and paper cut piece for their album cover. This project of theirs and as a result this piece was called Anitsiskwa.
I created a mini-post / case study about this project and in this post you can also listen to their noise album.
Recently a couple friends of mine approached me to work on the album art for their digitally released noise album.
Anitsiskwa, also known as the Bird Clan, were known as messengers. They believe that birds are messengers between earth and heaven, or the People and Creator. This belief gave the members of this clan the responsibility of caring for the birds. The main subdivisions of these clans were Raven, Turtledove, and Eagle.Read More
Showing Up and Putting In the Work
Whenever I am going to play a game of Ultimate Frisbee, I normally start off by throwing the disc around for a while. At first my throws are really rusty — some crash directly into the ground, some don’t even go to the intended person. But as the throwing continues the rust wears off and my accuracy and ability improve.
So often we approach our creative pursuits wanting the initial product to be an A+, 100%. There have been many times where I approach my sketchbook — my sketchbook, folks — and walk away because what I was starting to draw wasn’t “golden.”
What is wrong with this picture? I am not even allowing myself to be free and draw whatever comes to my mind even in my sketchbook. Until a recent conversation with my friend Dan, a musician from The Tea Club, I never made the connection between how I prepare for Ultimate Frisbee and how to approach my creative pursuits.
What I need to do is to “show up” first, even if I do not have a project already planned. Just sitting down and drawing or writing for a while helps me figure out what I’m trying to develop. I am realizing that without setting aside the time to create and write, I am not giving myself an opportunity to explore what is going on inside me.
Let’s allow ourselves to embrace the process of digging through the rock to get to the gold.
A ink + watercolor illustration called "Bright Night" on watercolor paper.
For the past week or so I have been fighting a head cold and altogether unwell-ness, and all during this time still trying to give 100% at Cuttink and at my day job. The result was a very tired, and still unwell, Jeffy. The more tired I got, the less efficient I became at the tasks at hand.Read More
I constantly find myself looking at the many creative people that I follow, wondering how they are able to do so much with their time. Constantly creating, running their business, working their “day job,” writing, giving talks, etc. They wear so many different hats and still keep going. How is this possible? I mean surely there is a trick, right?Read More