Self-Taught or Taking A Class?
Several years ago, probably when I was roughly about 11, I started learning Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Premiere, mostly from a suggestion via my dad. Back then, we were looking at maybe Adobe 4.0 and now, we're at least past the double digits as far as versions. It was then that he predicted that these tools would be vital in the coming years but at the time, being the young and the "WHATEVER, DAD" person I was, I complied, but only out of making him happy. However, that rebellious attitude was cut short when I realized that he was right. I think it might have been a whole five minutes I realized after jumping right into the programs, that this stuff was cool AND fun. A winning combination. Adobe Photoshop and the accompanying programs would continue to evolve. I was right in it, learning it all from an early age. I took to it pretty well and loved every minute of it. It was a class full of people of all ages and it was one of those things that I remember fondly.
However, it was maybe about a year or two later that I stopped using the programs. Ironic, considering how much I loved them and loved using them. Why? I honestly, can't remember. It was probably because life and college or whatever probably got in the way. However, Photoshop was still on my mind and I wanted to come back to it. It was a skill that was becoming more and more vital in a variety of fields and I wanted in. However, nothing happened for many years and I was never able to get back into it.
Fast forward about 20 years, I found myself doing cosplay and for some reason, I felt that I had to do something more with it. I decided to get a copy of Adobe Elements version 11. While it was a much pared down version of the big beast that was Adobe Photoshop, I ended up tinkering, finding a variety of different online tutorials, and did what I could with the limits of the program. I found myself getting back into something that I had loved so many years ago. I created a variety of edits and manipulations that while I was learning step by step, I came up with some real winners.
A New Approach And New Designs
Lately, I've been getting a lot of great attention for the minimalist art I have been doing, but recently, I've started trying something different.
I wanted to keep with the minimalist look, but perhaps take a few more risks when it came to design.
I had a few ideas in regards to puns and word play. The phrase, "Release the Kraken" of course refers back to the movie, "Clash of Titans", which were the words were spoken in order to release the giant sea monster by the same name. So, I wanted to put on a spin on it, and instead played on the notion of "cracking" open a lobster or crab before one would eat it. Staying consistent with a minimalist style, I came up with two different designs. It made me chuckle and I thought that eventually, I could see it a seafood restaurant, maybe on a bib? This was kind of the direction I was going with my brain.
Soon after, it also became clear to me that maybe certain characters in sci fi or comic book movies and television shows had fake products either during or after their careers. For example, Commander William Riker from "Star Trek: The Next Generation" was a trombone player. I thought it would be hilarious to imagine Riker opening up his own music academy after serving his time in Starfleet.
Disco Fett: What the What?
The last couple of weeks have been kind of nuts for my most recent cosplay.
I have to admit, when I decided to cosplay as Disco Fett, I was going to wear the costume a few more times at a handful of cons and maybe do a photo shoot or two. However, that notion changed when I shared the look with a few groups I was in, including the Replica Prop Forum. The results for the latter were overwhelming and it was a huge hit.
Not just a few days after that, I was contacted by someone from the Mark Twain House in CT for one of their upcoming events: A Star Wars-themed Disco After Party. Needless to say, it was a surreal moment and I was completely floored. I never expected such a positive reaction.
That wasn't the end of it either.
The Dented Helmet, a Boba Fett costume construction resource group, shared a video of me goofing off and dancing before heading off to Terrificon in CT. I mean, I wasn't trying to do anything serious, and if I had known that it was going to be shared to such a large audience, I would've made something a bit better. However, as simple as it was, it was apparently good enough to share with people and that was kind of mind-blowing. I guess it's an excuse to maybe to a video later on? Star Wars themed Disco Music Video? MAYBE.
In any case, those two random occurrences caught me off guard in such a good way. I was proud of the work we (my fiance' and I) put into this whole thing. It was a strong effort and the results were awesome, however it was crazy that so many people loved it. I went into this cosplay thing partly to challenge myself as an artist with something new, as well as maybe getting SOME recognition. To be honest, I don't see myself doing this as a full-time kind of thing, but lately, I wonder if I should explore the possibilities, IE going to places as a Disco Fett, perhaps to Downtown Boston as a tourist (an idea suggested by multiple people) or perhaps link up with other Star Wars groups for events and projects. Who knows? It's still too early to tell, but maybe it's worth looking into. Not holding my breath, but maybe I should try? As I said, the notion of doing something more with this cosplay is at the forefront...
Who knows what will happen? I await for the next few possibilities and potential appearances I could make at random events. Someone famous could see me and tell their friends...Or not...I mean, it's not like JJ Abrams is going to invite me to the Star Wars premiere this December. Or could he?
IT COULD HAPPEN.
OK. Here's to the next chapter with this costume...
Why I Do Mash-Up Cosplays
In the past few months, I have found myself leaning more towards mash-up cosplays (ie taking two things from different areas of pop culture and putting them together) mostly because while there are probably a dozen characters I would want to cosplay as, I personally find more of a creative satisfaction in bringing in two ideas that wouldn't normally go together, but would be kind of interesting to see nonetheless. Case in point:
Thorio and Luiki (Thor/Mario and Luigi/Loki)
Rockabilly Green Lantern
The Right Time To Write
Not so long ago, I started writing more and more screenplays, not really with any intention of actually having anything produced, but more to improve my writing and just getting the tons of ideas I had out on paper. I love movies, having joked that as I was growing up and absorbed several hundred issues Entertainment Weekly Magazine, I became a walking IMDB.
I started out as an actor, not really thinking of doing writing at all, but the whole notion intrigued me. Being someone who performed so much, I started thinking about what I wanted to be in or the characters I wanted to play or even what I would like to see as a play or movie. However, after all the things I've written, it's become more about just getting something down and honing my skills.
It all began with plays were short little things, pre-dating the longer and more in-depth screenplays I've started doing more recently. Some were serious, some were ridiculous and some were just straight up WEIRD. Again, it was more about what I wanted to see on stage and things that were based on ideas that intrigued me. Whether I took suggestions from friends and turned them into tiny little two minute pieces, or just strange ideas that I wanted to mash-up, specifically seeing an office employee pilot a giant robot in order to fight a monster. It was that kind of world building that made me want to take on screenplays.
From there, it became more and more of a thing for me to write for film rather than for theatre. Again, it was writing because I wanted to just do it. I didn't want to think about trying to produce something because it would end up either depressing me or overwhelm me because I didn't have the money to bring it to life. However, the joy of actually writing and not worrying about the larger picture made it all that better. Even finishing something was an achievement in its own right, even though there was a huge of editing to be had.
As of today, I have over a dozen different pieces I've written, not including the other dozen things I've started. (Yes, it's certainly easier to start than finish). Whether it's a full superhero series that I hope someday to produce, a movie about a talking cat and an angry writer, or a fan film based on a group of superheroes I love, it's hard to believe that not that long ago, the very thought of being a writer was nothing but an idea. Plus, thanks to support of my friends, I keep writing and I've even been bold enough to submit a few to different festivals. I know that the chances of them actually being chosen and made into a feature by some production company or some fancy big-time producer are very low, but it makes me happy that I'm going beyond my usual safe zone for creative expression. It's a new form, like the design stuff, that pushes and challenges me in so many different ways.
Now the question is, will I actually take the time to actually produce one of these pieces? I honestly don't know. Yes, I've been involved with the production process for so many different things, and while the energy and the excitement is always something wonderful to be a part of, it's still a mighty task to pull it all together. It's exhausting but it can be rewarding. So perhaps a straight "no" is too strong, so perhaps a strong "maybe" is better.
In any case, I won't stop writing anytime soon, mostly because yes, I HAVE SO MANY IDEAS (I have probably at least five solid ideas for the genre of sci-fi ALONE plus a radio play based on a friend's idea that could actually be produced) but maybe I'll actually try to get something made. I'm not talking a feature length, but maybe something short and sweet. However, the time that it takes to pull together something might be better used writing at least ten more screenplays.
In any case, I hope to triple my number of finished pieces by sometime during the holidays. They probably won't be edited or as clean as I want them, but at least I'm churning them out faster than I can come up with new ideas...At least I think I am...
Cosplaying at Connecticut ComiconN
After the success of Thorio and Luiki, I decided I wanted to continue on this mash-up cosplay road. I've done straight up interpretations of characters, but lately I've felt that doing a combination of two things provided a chance to be really creative, along with providing a set of fun challenges.
A while back, I bought a Boba Fett helmet and while I wanted to maybe dress up as the iconic bounty hunter, I decided to try something different. After brainstorming and bit of inspiration, I decided to go with Disco Fett. I had seen other interpretations before, but I wanted to make something different.
After some spray painting and the placing of several hundred plastic mirror tiles (eventually trying to place them on a round surface became a challenge on its own), plus the building of a moving disco ball for the antenna, which was built using a spinning lollipop, the idea became a reality. It was a lot of work and I owe a great deal to my fiance' for her work on said antenna, and after a lot of trial and error, it soon came together.
Funny enough, I had a suit and other pieces ready to go, so the helmet was actually the last thing to become part of the final look. Yes, I even had the platform shoes beforehand.
Live and Learn: Being an Artist
When I started out in theatre, I found out that there was a huge learning curve, especially because there were so many things that you had to be aware of, not just as an actor. It was one thing to audition all the time to get your feet wet, but as you did more and more shows, got involved with the production process and eventually found yourself knee deep in the currents, you would start to pick up little tips and find yourself more in tune with what was going around you.
Soon after realizing that there were certain things you could do and not do, I started trying to remember everything that I had learned after each new experience. Granted, it was a blast being involved in a production, ie learning lines and music, meeting new people, and being a part of a long and challenging process, eventually seeing something special emerge. However, it wasn't until after many years of doing shows on stage and off stage, I realized that I knew enough to really start looking at things differently.
I became more selective of the roles and shows that had auditions going on. I really wondered "OK, what am I going to get out of this? Is it worth the hours and time?" I found that while I still wanted to have fun, I had to make sure that it was really worth the effort. I also knew that there were younger and hungrier actors out there who would try harder and fight to get those roles. I no longer had the drive because of what I learned, whether it was how each production process would be different, the hours/long rehearsals were taking a toll and the desire was less and less prominent.
While it was sad for me to take a long break from theatre, I soon found design and writing turned into a new form of creativity for me that would fill a void.
Designing TV Title Cards
When I started watching "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine" a few months ago, I found that I wanted to see more of the Star Trek universe, especially because the preceding show, The Next Generation, was a very a different take on everything. The two were similar in that they both existed in the same universe, but tonally, they were clearly not the same.
Experiencing all the shows made want to create title cards potential stories that I would love to see in the Star Trek universe. Here were just a few.
"Chronicles of Garak" made sense to me, mostly because the character on DS9 was such an interesting and intriguing person. His past adventures could work as a show. I had to use a picture from Cardassia, his home planet, as well as showing a sense of mystery.
Another idea was perhaps a show focused on the different types of spaceships on all the TV series and in the movies. Simple and clean made sense for this title. We would see so many different types of vessels fly through the show, each giving a quick snap shot of their importance and capabilities.
After taking a break from theatre, I soon found that I needed some sort of creative outlet. I soon found that book covers was that outlet. It was unexpected but growing up, I loved the design of posters from movies and musicals. It made sense in a lot of ways for me to transition to it.
I had dabbled in design and Photoshop a bit, so it was a new art form that intrigued me as far as something that could be challenging and satisfying. I had started designing some for my friend Matt Phillion's book series, "The Indestructibles" which focused on teenage superheroes and their adventures as they fight to protect the world and understand their place and roles. It was a wonderful combination of the comic book world and the world of prose and fiction. I couldn't wait to get started with the covers.
I found myself creating in different ways. Soon, I had a few different designs. It started with using simple clip art to pushing myself to try other ways to build a cover.
From there, I learned more about dimensions and cover sizes. It was also fun since while one sees so many different book covers in their life, you don't really think that there would be even a possibility that you would design one, let alone several. That all changed for me.
Matt soon gave me a great opportunity to design a series of his short stories, released in e-book form. That again gave me a chance to really explore different styles and come back to my design roots in Photoshop. There was a great deal of manipulation involved but still I had to keep a lot design aspects in my mind.
Cosplaying at Boston Comic Con
It's been a really long time since I've cosplayed, mostly because I found a new passion in my art. I have designed over several dozen minimalist posters, did a variety of Photoshop edits, and even designed a few book covers for my friend's book series about superheroes. I was keeping my love of geek alive in different forms and I was having a blast. A lot had been happening as of late, so the very thought of trying to get back into it designing and dressing up again was scary to say the least. I had cosplayed before, even going as far as doing photo shoots as the characters. However, it was a long while before I thought I would be doing it again.
If I was to get back into, it had to be a mash-up cosplay, IE taking one concept from one thing and putting it with something else. It needed to be something different. The very idea of putting two unlikely things together was crazy and challenging.
But what to do?
I was planning on doing Mario cosplay at some point, but maybe doing an edgy/tough version of him or something. I started finding pieces, ie things to build a hammer, but as I slowly realized, my mind was drifting into a mash-up of some sort. Mario meets Marvel...Something...Then it hit me: Mario had wings on his hat like Thor. They both had hammers. Both had red in their costume. Thor and Mario: THORIO.
Sterling arts & Design
Creating, getting inspired and reflections.