Happy New Year. Instead of building a post with links to everything I made for Newschoolers last year, I spent last night freezing my feet off around a bonfire. So instead, here’s a follow-up to Thursday’s roundup of things I read this year that helped me write. This one is a little more vague, it’s basically just things I consumed that influenced my art in some way or another. Hopefully you find some of these resources interesting.
Muddy Colors is my favorite art website. Every day it has a new post from a working fantasy artist or art director. They span the whole spectrum, from process breakdowns to explorations of new materials, to nuts and bolts subjects like how to build an artist website. It’s an easy rabbit hole to fall down, with the suggested posts linked after each piece leading you further and further into the bowels of the website. While I’m not a fantasy artist in the traditional sense, it’s the genre I identify with most, and the techniques and ideas on Muddy Colors translate well to my usual subjects of skiing and mountain biking.
I’ve found that I end up mostly consuming art on Instagram, which is fine, but Muddy Colors gives readers the chance to dig a little deeper and learn a little more. I have a rule that I’m not allowed to open the site on my phone, that way I’m forced to look at everything on my computer’s bigger screen where I can better appreciate detail.
I sort of hate-watch many youtube artists. They’re often so formulaic and smug. But Fischer isn’t a typical youtube artist. He’s got a long and impressive pedigree in the art world, and his longer videos give great insight into his creative and often experimental process. They’re soothing and relaxing, and always leave me inspired to try new things.
Forged in Fire / Smoking Meat
This one is straight out of left field, but I’ll explain. Sometimes I’ve got too much going on inside my head to draw well. There’s so much noise that I have a hard time buckling down to execute a single idea. And that’s where Forged in Fire and Smoking Meat come in.
Forged in Fire
Smoking Meat has a similar effect on me. Facebook is a cesspool of fake news and fake profiles, but Smoking Meat is a group with 230,000+ members who are just really into, well, smoking meat. I don’t smoke meat. I don’t even eat very much meat, but I love this group. It’s aggressively non-political, and un-ironic. Most of the posts are just dudes showing off some big hunk of meat they smoked for 18 hours, and then other dudes commenting things like “looks good, but is it moist?” and then the first dude posting a video of him poking the meat slab to prove how moist it is.
For all the conflict that the Facebook algorithms try to stir up, Smoking Meat rarely gets more intense than some guy making a mellow joke about electric smokers sucking, and then some other guy responding that we all “smoke our own smoke, and it’s not worth criticizing other people’s meat.”
Forged in Fire and Smoking Meat are pure escapism for me, they’re a simpler world, and they help clear my head and get me stoked to draw.
I started off doing most of my work digitally, and still produce a bunch of digital pieces every year. But analogue art always calls my name. There’s something about the process, the craft that’s so much more interesting to me than cranking away on my ipad. And this year a few analogue artists in particular have stood out to me.
Miles Tsang does incredible screen print work for gig posters. And his blog does a really good job of covering his process. Screen printing is magic, and reading about Tsang’s work feels like a glimpse into the sorcerer’s cave.
Skyline Printworks, AKA Sara Finger is an incredible block printing artist in Bellingham. I’ve been a huge fan of her work for a while. The planning and precision required to make the style of reduction block prints she specializes in is wild, and so cool to watch. And it turns out she’s a really cool person to ride bikes with too. Block printing is made up of so many complicated processes, and it’s really cool to watch someone who is good at them.
Aaron Horkey is really good at drawing lines. Lots of little lines. He does texture and inking and hatching so well. I love zooming way into his pieces, trying to figure out how he made that texture with a simple black pen. Horkey is the artist I’ve found myself coming back to the most this year, trying to figure out how he’s mastered value so well.
Print Ain't Dead
I love print magazines, and a few are still out there ticking strong. Each one inspires me in different ways.
Freehub is just good. This is what a great mountain bike magazine looks like. I love how much they incorporate art and illustration into their stories and covers, and their photography is always top notch. When Bike, Powder, Surfer, etc. were shuttered, a lot of younger creatives, myself included, who had spent much of our lives aspiring to be published in print were left looking for a new goal. Freehub, though, is still out there, a white whale for anyone who makes cool mountain bike stuff to chase. And this year I discovered their regional subsidiary, Craft MTN, which is a great example of good mountain town magazine coverage.
The Bomb Snow Yearbook was one of the magazines that got me into drawing skiing. It featured so many great mountain artists, in a cool indy way that was really appealing. And then Bomb Snow went away, and now, it’s back. I really love opening my mailbox and finding the latest issue. Ski towns need dive bars and scuzzy ski bum houses, and dive bars and scuzzy ski bum houses need issues of Bomb Snow to read and occasionaly roll joints on.
This one is a little bit of a copout, since I’ve been privileged enough to draw for the first three issues of the recently revived Mountain Gazette. But this mag is good, really good. The writing is top notch, the photography is incredible, and the formatt is so, so cool. I love consuming Mountain Gazette, but creating for it is really challenging and inspiring.
Working for this publication has really forced me to step my game up, create something new, tell bigger stories, do bigger paintings, and figure out new techniques. I like being challenged, I like feeling like I have to go out of my way to create work that lives up to the rest of the mag, and Mountain Gazette has forced me to do that.
The Avalanche Review
TAR is ostensibly a trade publication for avalanche professionals, but it’s also a great subscription for anyone who backcountry skis. The articles run the gamut from really nerdy and snow-science heavy, to much more approachable breakdowns of decision making and heuristics. TAR always challenges me to think critically, and try to see problems in a new light, and I’ve found that combination is really good for my creative process.
So there you have it. That’s the somewhat art-adjacent stuff that’s been filling my brain this year. Let’s see how weird we can get in 2022!