FAQ
I get a few repeat questions now and then, so let's get to answering them, shall we?

GENERAL:

Q: When did you start making art?
A: I've enjoyed making art for as long as I can remember. My first memory was finger-painting at age three. I also remember always drawing on paper placemats at restaurants (something I still do), and drawing cars, birds, fish, and spaceships as far back as pre-school. Art's always been my #1 love in life :-)

Q: Who are some of your influences?
A: I'll first talk about people who've influenced me in my own life, and then artists that I don't know personally, but admire. As for people I know, first off, my parents have always been very supportive of my interests in art. I've also had some very inspiring art teachers over the years, such as Alan Maciag, Chantele Henry, Kim Navarre, and George Hughes. As for people I admire but don't know personally, the two artists who had the biggest effect on me would have to be Osamu Tezuka and Alphone Mucha. I've also been quite inspired over the years include Hajime Sorayama, MC Escher, and Tadanori Yokoo, among others. My links page has a bunch of artists I like on it, and I encourage you to check it out.



ILLUSTRATED-PHOTOGRAPHY:

Q: How do you make your illustrated-photography art?

A: My old stuff from 2001-2005 was all done with marker over C-prints, as I was shooting with film at the time. In 2005 I bought my first Wacom, a tiny little 5" model, used it to the point of wearing it out, and got another. Now I have a Cintiq 13HD, but haven't had much of a chance to use it yet, but believe me, I'm looking forward to it! Anyway, yes, for the illustrated-photo work, I composite together various digital photos I've shot, then begin the long process of hand-drawing over them.

Q: Do you have any making-of / behind-the-scenes guides for your illustrated-photography processs?

A:  Sure do! If you'd like to see a "making-of" for "A Love Letter to my 13-Year-Old Self", go here.

Q: What Photoshop filter do you use to make your illustrated-photography stuff? / Do you use Illustrator and vectorize your photos?

A: Neither, actually. I don't use filters to get the illustrated look. Maybe I should, since it would save me tons of time. Rather, I hand-draw everything using a com tablet.

Q: How long does it take you to make an illustrated-photograph piece?
A: A long time, which is why I don't do them as often as I'd like to. In my C-41 & marker days, it was quite quick... I could knock out one in an hour or two, since I was working small (11"x 17" usually) and with marker, which I'm speedy with. Nowadays, doing everything digital has pluses and minuses compared to ink. The obvious pluses are that I can undo, freely arrange and distort thing, and generally have full control over the image. The minus is that it takes me much longer. On the short side of things, a piece like "Zipperface", which is a close-up portrait without a ton of detail, takes about 8-10 hrs to make. My longest most labor-intensive so far was "A A Love Letter to my 13-Year-Old Self", which took over 30 hours! The reason it takes so long is that I do the digital files huge - usually around 40"x30" for example. I do this so that I can print huge and detailed prints, but it means a lot of detail over a large area. Compound that with the fact that I tend to have to redo a lot of my lines with working digitally, and it takes a while. I have a Wacom Cintiq now, so it'll be interesting to see how much that might speed up my next illustrated photo piece when I have time to make one.

Q: What software / hardware do you use for these?
A: Well, first off all, I'm sort of a weirdo with my software... I have various versions of Adobe Photoshop and subscribe to the Creative Cloud, but the main program I always go back to for my artwork is actually an old version of Corel Photopaint (X3). Back in high school a copy of Photopaint came with my first scanner, and since Photoshop was prohibitively expensive, I learned how to make computer art using Corel's system. I use Adobe for photo editing and working with other people's files, but when it comes to building images from scratch and doing illustration-heavy stuff, I still feel most comfy with Corel.
   As for hardware, I use a Wacom tablet for illustrating. I started off with a tiny 5" model, wore that out and got another one, and just recently finally bought a Cintiq (the 13HD model). I intend to use that more once my schedule frees up a bit, and still use the little one once in a while when I need something more portable that I don't have to worry about as much.

Q: Your illustrated-photography stuff looks a little like Waking Life / A Scanner Darkly / Borderlands. Did you know?
A: Yes I've heard this occasionally over the years. I started working on this style around 2000, before those movies / games existed. Since there are no new ideas left under the sun, surely others have worked in similar styles just as early or earlier than I. No matter what, I've done my best to try to make my illustrated-photography uniquely me  :-)



PHOTOGRAPHY:

Q: What kind of camera gear do you use?
A: My main photography gear entails: Canon 30D DSLR & a few lenses (especially fond of my Sigma 10-2omm wide-angle), a couple of Speedlites, Profoto 1200 strobe set with lots of accessories. I also have various other things I play around with, but this is the core stuff. Sadly my strobes are back in USA while I'm in Japan. I miss them... As for my 30D, it's been a long-lasting trusty friend. I'm considering updating to a modern DLSR one of these months, but I haven't bit the bullet on that yet. Once I get back to the states and am shooting more again, there should be more reason to do so.

Q: How did you get interested in photography?
A: I've had some interest in it ever since I was a kid, thanks to my mom. She would show me how to use her Pentax SLR and I was fascinated by it. I got my first camera, a Kodak 110, when I was 4 or 5 and used to enjoy taking photos. My interest in photography ratcheted up when I was 20 and took my first photography class. I totally fell in love with the darkroom experimentation and learning how SLRs and strobes worked. I took all the photo classes I could at university and even went back for a couple semesters after graduating to take more. Thanks to my mom fostering my interest and the classes I took at University of Toledo, I decided that photography was what I wanted to do with my life.



ILLUSTRATION:

Q: What kind of art supplies do you use?
A: Well when it comes to drawing by hand, some of my favorite pens and markers include Sharpie markers, Sakura Identipen (aka: "マイネーム"), Sakura Micron, Sakura Microperm... Hehe, basically Sanford and Sakura should sponsor me! Sometimes I also just like to use a plain old black Papermate pen. I also use Copic markers sometimes, but they're crazy expensive, so I just use them occasionally... As for colored pencils, I used to use Berol Prismacolor all the time from jr high to college. Still want to, by they're back in the states. Here in Japan I sometimes use Mitsubishi or Tombo colored pencils. I prefer kneaded erasers and also use a Papermate "Tuff Stuff" eraser stick for detailed erasing. Living in Japan has opened my eyes to plastic erasers again, and I sometimes used "Mono" if I don't have my kneaded with me. I don't do much painting, but I'd like to. I occasionally buy a set of gouache or watercolors, intent on getting back into it, but sometimes it's hard to deal with messy art mediums in my tiny apartment... As for other stuff, I also use my computer a lot... I remember in high school I swore that computers wouldn't take over my art, but they sure enough have! I'm surprised I used to be resistant to it, because they're just another tool in my collection, and a handy one at that!

Q: Do you have any tips for people who want to improve their drawing skills?
A: There's a lot of good resources out there with excellent tips for drawing - and I'd recommend you seek them out - but one tip I can offer that helped me a lot that I haven't heard much is... use markers! Let me elaborate... When I was in college, I challenged myself to draw straight away in marker for a couple years, trying not to use pencil / eraser first unless it was for a serious project. If you practice drawing with marker, the thicker the better (Sharpie, for example), you build a greater confidence with your lines. You can't erase, and if you make mistakes, you have to find a way to work them into the piece. It's sort of trail-by-fire, and I like markers for their bold look.


DESIGN:

Q: How did you get into design?
A: I sort of stumbled into it. I had little formal training in graphic design (my major was in photography), but I always had found it kind of fun. In '07, my friend was working at a start-up in San Francisco and she encouraged me to apply for their open graphic design position. I worked there and quickly picked up on some stuff I hadn't learned previously, and got a bunch more gigs from there.


Q: What kind of aesthetics or designers have inspired you?
A: I'm a real sucker for design from the '70s and '80s, especially movie posters, album art, and video games from that era. As for designers, as I mentioned above, I don't have much of a formal education in graphic design, so I don't know many designers by name, but I really like stuff by Herb Lubalin. He designed my two favorite typefaces (Lubalin Graph and Avant Garde). Milton Glaser is also pretty rad!


COMICS:

Q: How did you get into making comics?
A: I'd had an interest in superhero comics since I was very young, and started drawing my own comics when I was 11. My first creation was a superhero named "Electron Man". At age 13, I started reading Japanese comics and that inspired me greatly. I started a sci-fi space opera comic called "Project: Orion" that I drew for 13 issues, before rebooting it. I intended on drawing it more, but got too busy with school. I did some other short comic projects here and there, then stopped making comics for a few years until 2005 and 2006, when I made the short comic stories you see on this site. It's now been a pretty long time since I made them (except for remastering them in 2012), and I'd like to make more comics when / if I have time some day. I have a couple plots in my head that have been waiting to get out on paper, but I've only done a little bit here on them. Maybe someday you'll see them on this site...


MUSIC:

Q: How did you get into making music?
A: I got my first drum set for Christmas when I was 4. This started my passion for beats. Got my first keyboard, a Yamaha Portasound V22 sampling keyboard, when I was 9 or 10 years old. This started my passion for samples. Spent a few years just messing around with my keyboard, making cassette mish-mashes of other people's songs, my voice, and weird samples. When I was 15 or so, I named my music "Evil Eye". I made a series of fourteen 90-minute tapes full of music I made on the Portasound. When I was 17, I got my computer, and it totally changed the way I made music. This also, unfortunately, coincided with my trusty Portasound dying on me. Armed with Windat, and the basic Windows sound recorder, I started to make music with WAV files. Over time, I got the hang of it, and soon started using Goldwave, which expanded my abilities greatly. I initially I made albums that were collages of random sounds, basic music structures, and a lot of strange humor. As I started toying with loops, I started to make more "serious" music (although I try to never take myself too seriously). I also used a variety of keyboards, (mostly basic Yamaha keyboards), and investing in drum machines. Now, after making 13 full-length albums, several singles, and a couple music videos, I find myself at a crossroads. I'm finally at a point where I feel confident enough in my talent that my music has changed from just a hobby - something to supplement my love of visual art - to something I wish to get out into the world and with which to attain a modicum of success. "Evil Eye" was the name of the music I made when I was a teenager. "Macro" is the music I make today.



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