Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Eh, I kinda like the old one better

See below for the O.S. (original sketch). Any suggestions? Anyone?

Freakshow, 4 Horse(wo)men

The last two assignments for my digital art class were on the theme "4 Horsemen of the Apocalypse" and "Freakshow." These are my two pieces. Additionally, there are 2 sketches I did with green micron pen (and some red!) in my Anatomy class.

So with this first one, I decided to reinterpret the horse(wo)man War as a Nun...the opposite of what you would expect from a walking riot that leaves countries in the middle of a civil war just by walking through it. Although she does turn into an uber-scary badass version when she has to personally get her hands dirty, but I haven't drawn that form yet :P
So this is my freakshow piece...I don't know exactly what he is, but that's his toilet underneath him, if you couldn't figure it out. It still kinda grosses me out when I look at this illustration. Forgot to add his pubes and his "happy" trail...guess I try those out on him.She's not too bad, hands might be a bit small though...
This dude's head is so large even he's pondering it. Well, it could be I messed up on my proportions elsewhere (the hands? someone tell me). Oh well. 2nd semester after all (although I won't be able to use that excuse for long).
It's 5:29am and it's time to sleep. Guess who's in finals?

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Bus madness, lame people at work

So one of the high points of my day happened on the super overly crowded 38 bus tonight, on the way back from downtown where I met up with my dad (as he was visiting the city). Eve and I were on our way home and we jumped on the bus at Stockton St. and we barely made it on. So as the bus driver closes the doors to cut off the people that didn't fit (it was literally packed to the front stairs), some guy kinda forces his way in, and gets banged back and forth by the doors trying to close. So he'd smash his arms against one door, which would give a bit, but then he'd get hit by the other door, which he'd push away just to get hit by the first door...

Eventually the guy managed to fight his way on the bus, the doors closes, and we start off. We pull up to the next light and stop. I then hear the guy say "Excuse me, could you please open the door? My foot is stuck in there." I nearly burst out into laughter, but the guy is only like 4 people behind me. I still manage to tell Eve (in a voice where he may have heard me) "Oh my god, that's the same guy that was being brutalized by the door. That's hilarious!"

I felt bad for the guy, but I figured he wasn't hurt too badly. Besides, the way he 1) waited for the bus to go so he would make sure he was on it, and 2) politely asked the bus driver to release his foot from the door, is just too funny.

How this has to do with art, I don't know, but I figured I should share this story with the world.

Also, people need to learn how to run proofs. To all people (especially those visiting the store I work at) who are trying to do something creative and don't have a lot of experience, please run proofs.

A woman came into the store who was in the day before and was extremely upset because the ink pad we sold her ended up smudging on her wedding invitations. First off, she never asked about drying time, as I heard the recommendation being made. She wanted the best color, and we gave it to her. Second, she apparently had stamped on ALL of her invitation envelopes, without waiting to see how the first might turn out. Now, I don't have a problem with people who are inexperienced in crafting. I don't have a problem with people bringing stuff back when it doesn't work out like they think it'll work out. I DO have a problem with people who are inexperienced and do a 75 invitation run of decorating when you haven't even tried one.

Last weekend, someone came in because the paper they bought wasn't working well with their printer. They were upset because they had printed 150 invitations, and the ink was smudging.

Let me ask you this: why in the big fat world would you ever do a 150 invitation print job without printing a few first to test out the paper? Are you that stupid? If you were a chef and you gave me a recipe, do you think that I would make enough food for 100 people before making a small test run for myself? Come on people, it's common frickin' sense!

Sigh. Do yourself a favor, people, and TEST THINGS OUT BEFORE COMMITTING TO THEM.

Anyhoo, I'm approaching finals, so don't expect too many posts in the next few weeks. Just saying.

But Eve and I have successfully started printing our holiday cards, and hopefully we'll finish the run tomorrow night. I started carving the design on a lino block, but ended up just carving a large rubber EZ carve pad for time's sake.

Additionally, I'm working on designs for a 4 horseman of the apocalypse dealy, as well on my final project for my digital illustration class. The theme is "Freakshow" and there are about 3 or 4 solid thumbs I want to expand into full pieces. At least I'll have something to keep me busy during winter break.

Anyhoo, time for bed, as I gots work tomorrow.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Holiday cards and gallery openings

So Eve and I have been working on our holiday cards the past two nights and after a failed attempt to do a linocut, we got an EZ-mode soft rubber carving pad to do the carve on. We ended up going with the negative of the original line drawing, as it shows more color and will be more impressive when we heat emboss it.

Tonight, I finally started doing a run of a few of the cards. I decided to do a combination of a block print and a rubber stamp by doing everything like you would a linocut, but instead we're inking the block with a rubber stamp ink pad. This is so we can use embossing powder on the whole card. The finished cards are looking pretty sweet, and although there is a bit more to be desired in terms of contrast the card still reads pretty well and I like how they came out. Having a giant surface of heat embossed goodness is pretty sweet as well, and I started messing around with my stamping equipment and ended up embossing my business card holder which I never use (but will start now that it looks all awesome) and some business/calling cards.

I came up with a thumb for a new illustration I want to do, and I'm mulling over some designs for a version of my "poet" shirt. I've decided on a 4 Horsemen of the Apocalypse theme (nearly overdone to death, I know) for my 2nd to last digital illustration project. I'm working on some ironic character design to try and keep the characters more original and interesting. I think the one I'm currently going to flush out is War, but I may end up doing Pestilence instead.

Anyhoo, if you're in SF this coming Friday, check out this gallery opening for Kate Bingaman-Burt's Obsessive Compulsion. It's at Rare Device on Market from 6-10pm on the 7th. Check it out!

Here is a quick sketch 1 minute sketches I did of a lizard warrior and a robo-diving suit.
I don't know why the colors got all fucked up with this lizard warrior one. I sketch in strange colors, but nothing this neon... I wonder why google screws up the color on my images sometimes...

Tuesday, November 27, 2007


So I finally changed the name of my blogging profile over to RiSK (technically, I changed it to Ri.S.K., but I am too lazy to actually type that all the time).

Why the name change, you ask? Well, as all things change, so does my artist signature. As I'm working on developing a visual identity for myself, I figured part of that is an identity shift as a whole. Nothing too drastic, besides making the conscious decision to devote myself to my crafts. I've realized that to make it doing what I love, I really have to do what I love. While that sounds easy, in reality I've spent a lot of time doing stuff and not really creating. Not enough time has been spent drawing, and looking up reference material, and practicing constantly. So much of my life has been comfortable, staying inside my little bubble of natural talent, doing things that I am naturally good at. Now as egotistical as this sounds, I find it to be true. I do most things decently without really trying, and as soon as it gets hard, I usually give up and move on to something else. I've lived my whole life this way, and no more. I'm sick of being mediocre at everything and really good at nothing, so it's time to really risk something and go for the dream.

And that goes back 20ish years to when I really, really, really wanted to just draw for a living. Back when I was drawing on the walls with washable marker, on recycled printer paper with crayons, or on my shoes with puff paint, I wanted to be an artist. Now, after facing the reality of life and going through the misdirection of my generation, flirting with chemistry, biology, environmental science, psychology, and acting, I know what I want to do. I want to draw for a living. Don't get me wrong, I still like all of the above, and use those tools in my art (and I'm never going to really give up on acting), but they're not my focus anymore. I don't think I've ever been this focused before, and now I want to finally let art breathe in my every cell. Now, I paint on walls with spraypaint, on recycled sketchbooks and copy paper with graphite and prismacolors, and on shoes and clothing with acrylics and fabric paint, and I love every minute.

So back to the name. My full name is Rick Susumu Kitagawa. The Japanese part is loosely translated as "going forward to the North river." I've been leaving out the Susumu part for too long (mainly cuz growing up I thought it was a silly sounding name), leaving out the going forward part. But I've reclaimed that middle part, and wanted to somehow keep it yet keep the name short. So Ri.S.K. is basically an abbreviation of my full name. Ri(ck) S(usumu) K(itagawa). But it also stands for the internal change within me. I want to be a great artist who can change lives through his art. I'm not sure how to do that yet, but I know what I want to do, and I'm not going to let anyone stop me.

-RiSK 11.27.2007

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Swamped yet still blogging

So the reason I haven't been posting is that I have been completely and utterly swamped with homework. It wouldn't be too bad, but the fact that they've been working me 3 days a week has been making it pretty rough.

So due on Monday are a nude female turn-around, a clothed female turn-around, a reference board, and 2 master copies. And I work Fri-Sunday. Craptastic. It wouldn't have been so bad had I gotten Thursday off, but due to Thanksgiving and the usual not getting anything done, I'm pretty screwed. And that's why I'm procrastinating and blogging. Anyway, if you don't know what a turn-around is (and I don't even know if that's a technical industry term), see what kept me awake last Sunday night:
That was the clothed version based on all the reference on samurai I gathered. The fucking armor took forever, but I think I averaged about 1.5 hours per figure. Ug.

The traveling journal project based on the theme of Unrequited Love has started and about 5-8 books should be circulating thus far. If you are interested, email me at "rick (at) skagawa (dot) com" and I'll send you a book to get started in your area. So far, I think we've penetrated NY, SF, and Stockton, so especially if you aren't in any of these areas let me know.

Also, once I get my shit together, I'm starting on another personal art project for the next year. It's tentatively called "52 Pickup" based on the "game" 52 card pickup (where an entire deck is thrown onto the ground and you pick them up -_-. Anyway, every week, I'll be redesigning a playing card. It'll be a way to force myself into doing something creative for something outside of school and work, and it'll be a great way to try out new styles, subject matter, mediums, and more. Plus, it'll be a cool thing to base a gallery show on. Hopefully.

Oh yeah, and I finished (sorta) a battle scene between the heroine (the floating book wizard lady) and the villain (the creepy child-eating chimney sweeping smoke demon). It was supposed to be in B&W, and it still needs some work to clarify what's going on, but alas, here it is.

Anyway, back to work, as I have to get to bed as I have work tomorrow, as well as 2 master copies I haven't even started on yet. Oh yeah, and finishing these turn-arounds. Blegh.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Woohoo Seattle!

So the plane tickets and hotel accommodations are booked, and we are good to go for Seattle 2008!

Now I'm working on the Unrequited Love Project (which has, admittedly, got off to a slow start), a community art project where little chapbooks are passed about, and people contribute art and stories and such. Today I'll be making more of the books and trying to get them out into the community so I can hurry up (hopefully) get some back. If you are interested in hearing more, or want to help out, email me at rick (at) skagawa . com.

I worked on this giant mushroom idea for a creature concept project. I decided to name it the Red-Masked Reaper due to it's appearance and it's deadliness. It's scientific name, I decided, was Amanita Rex, as in King of the Amanitas, the mushroom genus which includes two of the deadliest mushrooms (in real life); the Death Cap and the Destroying Angel. The back-story is that the hyphae (the "root" part of the mushroom) grows above the soil, and secretes a sort of sticky mucus that traps animals. The hyphae are pressure sensitive and then send a chemical message to the gills to produce it's spores, which also contain an organic acid. The trapped, unfortunate creature is then peppered with spores that burst on contact, dissolving the creature's flesh for absorption by the hyphae. The spores also are a reproductive delivery vessel, and new hyphae start growing on the remaining flesh of the prey. The prey is lured to the Reaper by hallucinogenic pheromones it secretes from it's stalk. As it is obviously a death trap, the mushroom tries to get you to freak out and basically stumble into it's gooey maw of death. And that's the kind of story you get from someone who took an entire class on mushrooms and slime molds and algae. Ha!

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Seattle Workshop

Huzzah! So Eve and I just (as in 14 hours ago) bought our tickets to the ConceptArt.org REVELATIONS workshop in Seattle. We're heading out in January to the rainy, cold coastal city to watch, learn, and make art with some of the most fantastic artists out there. Like, seriously big names, people. Crazy.

In other news, we're both at home doing homework instead of doing crazy Halloween things. I put on zombie makeup this morning and it ended up looking pretty decent. Anyway, on to the art.

This is a photo collage I did for my digital illustration class. Fun stuff, composited of a bunch of photos I took in Australia and Europe.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Classes and stuff

So I finally met with my advisor and I signed up for classes next Spring. If you're interested, I'll be taking:

Illustration 232 - Illustration 1 - Sec. 1 - M: 12-6:20
Illustration 222 - Heads and Hands 1 - Sec. 5 - Th: 8:30-2:50
Illustration 310 - History of American Illustrators - Online
Fine Art 110 - Still Life Painting 1 - Tu: 8:30-2:50

This way you can come take a class with me, or know how to avoid me. But you should especially come take the Ill 310 class with me...because, you know, it's online, and I'll see you like, uh, never. Yeah, lame joke that probably didn't even read as a joke. Did I ever tell you my clown joke, btw?

Anyway, so I have to meet with the Illustration Chair, Chuck Pyle (not the Country singer, or so he says) to change my major over to Illustration. Not a big deal, but I should probably do it as I've taken only 1 Graphic Design class, and I'm already signed up for Illustration stuff.

Anyhoo, Eve and I have big plans for January, but I don't want to say too much lest I jinx us.

Anyway, so here's my villain design for my Digital Illustration class. Anyone have any tips on how to paint pinstripe pants? He's supposed to be some sort of creepy chimney sweep, like a dark character from a demented Mary Poppins. He eats children, and he gets into their rooms by turning into ashy smoke and creeping through the chimneys. I suppose he'll be having a (hopefully) epic battle soon with the peasant wizard, her floating books, and maybe some summoned pets of hers.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

This school can be so fucking stupid sometimes..

And by this school, I mean Academy of Art University in SF, and by fucking stupid I mean it's bureaucracy is really fucking stupid.

The thing I really like about our school are the classes and the instructors. The instructors are generally super supportive, yet still push you to not suck. I really liked the fact that you don't need a portfolio to get into the BFA program, and they foster a lot of people who didn't necessarily think of art as a first choice. They also foster people who would probably not succeed in a traditional university setting.

However, this tends to make the administrative policies stifling for me. They won't let me sign up for classes online because I'm on the payment plan, and thus I need to see my advisor. Which is stupid, because I already know which classes I need to take. Although I can see why most kids might need an advisor, I've been figuring out my own class schedule for the past 5 years, I think I know what I'm doing.


And I can't pre-pay and just have my advisor sign a form, because to pay you need to have registered for classes, and to register for classes, you need your advisor's signature first. Thus, all the other steps I need to take are all held up because I have to wait for a time slot to just tell my advisor exactly which classes and sections I want so then she can sign my stupid form. Seriously, this is silly. And it should be noted that once I register, I can completely change ALL of my classes online. What's even the point of having to meet an advisor if I can completely change my schedule? Advisors should be there to advise, not to be a mandatory hurdle I have to pass to sign up for my classes.

Additionally, I heard that the advisors are generally there to put kids into classes with the less-famous teachers in the less popular time slots in order to justify having each teacher on board. Everyone wants to take Henry Yan's Figure Drawing class (I did), so his classes fill up first if they don't regulate and put kids in other instructor's classes. It must be noted, however, that even though Henry is an amazing artist, I feel like I've been getting more out of Ruben Deanda's figure drawing workshop. In terms of art, Ruben is also pretty frickin' amazing, but Henry is still definitely superb. But, you only really hear about Henry Yan, and I think if you're more of a beginner, Ruben probably is the better teacher. But I digress. mandatory advisor meetings = poo!

Anyway, so here's a work-in-progress that I did for my digital illustration class. It was done with pencil, then scanned and colored in photoshop.

Monday, October 22, 2007


So I'm at it again. Well, blogging that is. But this time I have a theme! This blog is going to be my record of my journey for my second Bachelor's. This time, a BFA (instead of a BA) at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco.

So, I'm going to make it a point to start scanning more of my sketches and analog work and not doing anything to my digital work and posting stuff up.

However, since Eve and I have realized that art, culture, and politics are so tightly wrapped up together, there is no separating the two. So there will be posts about political stuff and cultural events, as well as art, and especially posts concerning all three.

Well, for the first post, I guess I had better post some sort of art. Here is a silhouette of some plant/human hybrid I did for a warm-up. It's inspired partly by Bushroot from Darkwing Duck, as well as this plant thing in a Superman comic I read, and from the environment of the Fallout computer game.