Dec 31, 2011

Short Story 10-Lowridin' Mother & Daughter

Ayanna and her mother Dolores were living a dream. They bought their rusty 61 Chevy Impala on a road trip to see grandma. When the two told grandma and the family that they were going to turn the junker into a beautiful lowrider complete with front, back, and side to side hydraulics; the family thought they were crazy. But, it takes an unordinary person (or persons) to make dreams come true. They built it! Their very own car to go cruising in. They would later start a car club and name it “A Lady’s Car Club”.

Dec 26, 2011

Inspiration board 11

From top left to right:Mc Lyte's 1st LP-Lyte as a rock (it'd been awhile, needed to hear it again), Amulet-Incredible graphic novel im reading w/ my kid, we're on #3! Chaz Bojorquez-master calligrapher, Soul Train 09 ads-caught this at Atlantic st, Black Diamond Shining crew (Dead Eyes, Ras Terms, and Ash Rose n this shot), Maroons of Jamaica by Mavis Cambell, Textiles by Colectivo Raahuna-dope styles, Illustration by zine maker Travis Fudge, Suitable 4 Framin' graffiti zine-homie Nisha is in this along w/Spie, "21 Story of Roberto Clemente" by Wilfred Santiago-incredible story/book/art, Juggaknots 1st LP-Clear Blue Skies!, Decolonize Wall Street-Cuz its a great necessary statement, The Zapatista Reader edited by Tom Hayden feat hella writers, Aja Monet-amazing poet who got lines 4 days, Just Cause/ Causa Justa becuse they've taken on some great work, Oban-Star Racers-just watched some of this w/ my kid.Cool animation collab btwn French and Japanese animators.

Dec 24, 2011

Muphoric Sounds 20- Lonnie Liston Smith

If you get a chance to cop this LP, please do. The whole thing is dope. I have the vinyl somewhere, but I think the tape cassette laying around my moms collection kept me going back to it. That joint Digable sampled for "NY is Red Hot" is on there too. Wow, the 20th! Muphoric Sounds piece! Couldnt doctor this photo, will do later. For now just go listen...

In The Trunk w/ Lonnie Liston Smith

Dec 21, 2011

Dec 20, 2011

Positive Wall Affirmation: "Step Frwd" (forward)

The new year is about to start! This is a reminder to let go of things that are weighing us down and move forward "now". In case you've just tuned in PWA- (positive wall affirmations) are meant to have a good reminder near you in your home, office, studio, classroom, etc. In the past the words I've painted like "Breathe" or "Health is Wealth" have helped me and the folks who purchase them to live a bit lighter. I make these by using hand made or found materials and paint. Hope you enjoy.

This is the fifth in a series of small paintings I'll be doing which are:
-Hand painted
-Positive Word Affirmations
-Typography & Symbols
-Made for wall hanging

To purchase or see my shop

Dec 19, 2011

Chaz Bojorquez

Check out this Chaz interview. This is one of my favorite artists.I first saw his work in a documentary called "Graffiti Verite" in 95.

Dec 15, 2011

Scbwi summer conference, The Good, The Ugly, Imix, & Amoeba

This summer I went to the 40th annual SCBWI Summer conference. This was a well organized event I was referred to while going back to school to finish my BFA. I don’t know many artists personally who specialize in Children’s Books and I am a new comer to the field, so I went as a student of the game. It was hella (very) interesting and well worth the trip from the Bay Area to L.A.
I was able to pay the conference entry fee through the “QUICK Grant” which is awarded by Creative Capacity Fund to obtain professional development. Originally a year ago an instructor suggested I go, but I was unable to pay the fee then. This year I decided to find a way. The entry fee was around $500. The grant paid for over 90% of that cost. But renting a car, food, etc was another expense.
The SCBWI stands for Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. It’s an organization that provides a membership based community of writers and illustrators who are either published or starting out like me. It is an additional source of information, regional advise, special events (like this one), grants, and even special awards. They’ve been around for quite a long time. And to tell you the truth, I’m glad I became a member. Joining did not get me a book deal, and it didn’t give me “the answer”, it was another step forward that has made me more knowledgeable.
The information packet contained detailed information on each day of the 4 day conference which included key note speakers, critiques, workshops, networking sessions, portfolio reviews, a book sale, guides to the industry, and a lot of helpful tips. The hotel was luxurious and huge! The conference took up three floors of this massive place and every day we heard from key note speakers in a huge banquet hall equipped with sound system and video monitors.
The Good!  
-I met people in my field! I know a lot of artists, but not many children's books illustrators/writers. It was paramount that I go expand my horizons by meeting some new people.

-I learned many insider tips about the business. Things that the website does not come out and say, like for example. If you are a member of this organization, when submitting manuscripts or portfolios, some publishers will give Scbwi members first peek.

-I met some elders. Its comforting to know that there are people who do this successfully and can earn a living doing what they love.

-I got to see what my competition looked like. There were tons of portfolios out there, and tons of people both new and experienced to ask questions of. Most were open and helpful.

-Most of the art I saw was phenomenal!

-It affirmed my suspicion that there is a desperate need for someone, anyone with the guts to put bilingual and children of color focused books at the fore front. Both of these are barely a blip on their radar (in my opinion). It’s unfortunate for them because I felt like they’re blind to a lot of people by not being more inclusive of more diverse stories. But, it’s good for me because it showed me a wide-open opportunity.

 -I got encouragement from pro’s first hand. When I submitted my portfolio for the competition I didn’t win, but one of the judges came up to me and spoke to me about my work after wards. That was extremely helpful!

-I gathered information and resources. Eventually I want to be able to share what I know about this business with others. I wouldn’t be able to share much if I didn’t go to learn from events like these.
The Ugly! 
-No People of color (POC)! There were about 2000 attendees including presenters. About 5% of them were people of color. Specifically, No Men of color! Out of the people there, 70% of them were women. Brothers!! We need to be involved in this! When I go to the major book stores, even the black owned stores it is hard as hell to find a book that shows a positive, thoughtful, or even edgy image of a father of color taking care of his kids! That has got to change. Fail! 

-Bi-lingual books. Ok, beyond just welcoming POC and making them a constant presence at an event like this, it is important to acknowledge language. Spanish and Chinese (mandarin/Cantonese) are the most widely spoken languages around the world next to English. But, no mention of bi-lingual books! None! Wack! Unacceptable! 

-The cost. Most young artists, students, and aspiring illustrators or writers cannot afford $500, plus a plane ticket if they don’t live in LA, plus room and board. This event is grand, the hotel is grand, but they need to figure out how to cut costs somewhere so that more young people can attend. The majority of the women there were over 40, probably with regular 9-5 jobs. What about recent college grads? After the last day there were extra workshops that could have been useful to me, except for the fact that the cost $300 each

-Children! Here at a conference about children, there were NO children at the event. No young speakers, no classes invited, beyond the illustrated books, not one single image or mention by kids them selves. I feel like children although young have a lot to offer the discussion on how to make better children's books. Also, I am a young parent. What if I wanted to go but needed childcare? That was not an option, and it should be. Especially for single parents.
Highlights: I attended a workshop with Pat Cummings and Priscilla Burris. These two women (both women of color) gave some warm, stern, to the point insight on the business and their experiences. For example, most art instructors will tell you “make postcards of your work and send it out to publishers like crazy”. But what you don’t know is that an average art director (in charge of hiring illustrators) receives something like 100 postcards a day. That’s about 500 a week, or 2000 a month! It’s hard to get noticed in that race. An important note Pat and Priscilla made was to target your favorite books by finding out edited, art directed, illustrated, wrote them. Then send a specific collection of work and letter to that specific art director or team, because it shows that you are not just throwing work out aimlessly.
Steven Malk -I went to Stevens workshop about breaking into the business. Why? I did my homework before I got there and found out that he represented (he’s an agent) several of my favorite children’s book illustrators like Kadir Nelson and Adam Rex. What I found out is that illustrators work ten times harder than I thought they did. He gave a slide show about what kind of work he receives, what stands out and why. Now, some of you are saying “so what, what’s he know?”. Well, its an illustrators job to get paid well to do what they love. I mean, imagine working on a story you love for an entire year and being paid to do just that. And, I’ve seen the work of his clients. It’s tip top! I don’t want to be like his clients, but I wanted to know what information he would give. One of the jewels was that art directors get tired of receiving postcards. He showed personalized dummy’s (a mock up of a story in book format) and specially sewn together fabric/paper promotional pieces. It’s not all about money, but this definitely made me want to step my game up.

Sarah Stern - Sarah is one of the newest staff members to Scbwi and she made an impact on me because she remembered me. Months before I attended the event, I sent my work to various publishers, agents, etc in an effort to produce, work, and learn. One of the people I contacted and sent my work to when I first became an Scbwi member was Ms Stern. And when I checked in at the front desk, she remembered my work and my name before she saw me. That helped ease the anxiety of being one of maybe 10% of people there under the age of 50, and being probably the only man of color there, period! 

E.B. Lewis -This brother was very nice. I was sitting outside in between workshops eating lunch. A little frustrated at what I didn’t see there, but trying to appreciate what was in front of me. I offered my food to anyone around me as a way to just make conversation and network. Low and behold, one of the people I talk to was E.B. Lewis! If you’re not familiar with his work look up “I love my hair”. This brother not only gave me advice, but he acknowledged me, my concerns, and my questions. All without an ego or authoritative tone. To hear about his work and his life helped me focus and be present.
Imix/Mi Vida- What the conference lacked in books about people of color and bi-lingual childrens books I got from Mi Vida (Highland Park) book section managed by former book store owner Elisa Sol Garcia (Imix). The store was beautiful. I swear East La is one of the only places I’ve been where I see Chican@s playing electric guitars and singing rock or punk songs. Artist Oree Originol took me on a brief tour and when I told him I wanted to see books, this is where he took me. The store breathed life back into my heart because it showed me again what is possible. The collection of books was seriously like nothing I’ve ever seen and I’m thankful to know there are people out there who care about telling stories that are often ignored by whites and mainstream society.
While I was on my way down there I drove by myself and got a chance to work out a lot of things in my head. Although I hate driving in traffic, I love riding to music so I just enjoyed driving through La’s west and East side, seeing all the people, all the stores, the smells, sounds. I know some folks hate L.A., but I was comforted by it. Lots of beautiful people out there. Also, when I got there I got a chance to hook up with Oree. We rode to the Iron Lak (spray paint)store because they were having a store opening with some dope pieces on the wall. There we also ran into Graffiti veterans from the bay Estria and Vogue. A good night indeed. Lastly, I stayed with my cousin Tremaine who I hadn’t seen since my grandfather passed away. We hadn’t really kicked it for several years so it was wonderful to see him , go to Amoeba Records, and just catch up, offering advice and sharing stories with this young father to be.....

Dec 10, 2011

Typography 17 -Yesterdays New Quintet (Y)

Two of my favorite songs by YNQ are "Uno Esta" and "Little girl". Not sure when I first heard of Madlib's group YNQ, but I think it was on a Stones Throw sampler. I bought one of the vinyl lp's years ago and fell in love with the simplicity of the loops and rhythm.

Nov 27, 2011

Original art+Store

Some original art that Ive had too long, that would probably look better in yo' house.
Plus some small things you can give as a gift

Nov 22, 2011

Typography 16- Stuyvesants

I think I first became hip to the work of Darien Victor Birks and Allan Cole by seeing the site FLWRPT. I then started to hear something about them making music and when the “Stuyvesants instrumental LP dropped it was bananas! I’ve had this joint on rotation in my mp3 player ever since it came out and have seen various folks connect with it. My favorite joints from the LP are “Fire (Untrue)” , “Seldom Seen”, and “Greene St. Anthem”. Before living in Bed Stuy (Brooklyn) I probably wouldn’t have appreciated the different vibes a street or area has. But my kid used to attend a school on Greene St so it does stick out in my mind. Anyway, if you’re not up on these cats, go check out their work, its free to download. And if I’m not mistaken they just came out with some new material
. Hype design and music! Check out the letter S for Stuyvesants! Greene Ave. Anthem by The Stuyvesants

Nov 16, 2011

Celebrate You (TYS Show) art process+photos

Here are a few photos from the recent "Celebrate You" show my crew put on in Oakland the week of the tear gas and the first attack on the Occupiers. We had been planning this show before the Occupy movement started and felt although we didn't call it 99% or use the term "Occupy" in it, that it related. The folks we chose to paint in this show are activists, teachers, community members, artists, friends, and loved ones.
I chose to paint my aunt Felicia who just passed away recently from cancer, my home girl Ericka's children because theyre beautiful babies and I believe that along with adults, childrens images should be present. I also painted Lateefah Simon, one of the baddest activists you'll ever meet from SF. I met her while working in SF Juvenile Justice system. And lastly my son. My photos of the others from the show suck, so I'm going to try and put them up later. But, I did take some cool shots of my process painting my little one.
In these photos you will also see Yoshi and Bounce of the TYS crew, and our homie Evan Bissell. So many artists helped us like Brett Cook, David Platford, Oree, Kerri, Anthony, DJ Leydis, DJ Wonway, Plinio, Eli, El Taco Bike,and many more. It takes a lot to pull together a show y'all. A lot of time, money, energy, and planning. We didn't set out to sell any of the work, just to share it. And we set up a community painting/drawing space inside the gallery in so artists could get down on the theme which was to celebrate yourself, your family, friends, and those who've inspired you along this path called life. There was also a selected photo timeline of people we've met on our travels as a crew. More photos will come. What was inside the space is now in the window front on 2930 Telegraph ave in Oakland California, if you cant make it by check out what the space is about. Its being curated by Evan Bissell and Brett Cook. Free for anyone to see. Thank you if you came out to see it.

Nov 12, 2011

Jazz Portraits 17-Dorothy Ashby (Harp)

I found Dorothy's music through hip hop. INI+Pete Rock to be exact. I'm syill digging into her sound but my favorites of her's so far are "Drink" , "Heaven and Hell", and of course "Cause I need it". If you can tell me the name of the LP Pete Rock sampled "Cause i need it", i'll send you a drawing. :)

Dig this? Check out this one of Donald Byrd

Nov 9, 2011

Occupy Oakland, Tear gas, Reclaimation, General Strike

I'm not going to say much even though y'all know I talk a lot. Just that I support revolutionary change. I'm not going to attempt a run down of the Occupy movement, go google it. Protests ain't new, they ain't the BE all to END all either, rather they're a strategy among many to rally sleepy heads and to let oppressors know what time it is(we see you). There have been hella organizations, teachers, artists, musicians, regular working class folk like your momma or mine, and activists in the bay working for education, jobs, immigrant rights, freedom of speech, media objectivity, LGBTQ rights, Human Rights, etc etc. This Occupy movement, inspired by uprisings in the middle east is growing from these everyday fighters here in the bay and across the nation. I was skeptical at first, still am, but like you I am curious. So I went to an action in SF against Wells Fargo and I went down to Occupy Oakland with my son. Yes I work, yes I'm a parent, yes I have freelance shit to do, and many projects bubbling, but this is a pivotal thing happening!
See my photos from the camps before the police came in and shredded a peaceful act of protest. The photos at night are from the infamous night OPD shot teargas at all of us who were out there, and a few shots from the peoples response to the police and Mayor Jean Quan's after that. Oakland's first general strike for decades.
What has happened? Oakland joined the Occupy movement, along w/ San Francisco and several hundred other cities. People, not just hippies, but ordinary people like bus drivers, navy officers, students, etc have been sitting together through the nights at city hall breaking into groups and making decisions about how to let Oakland residents know what is up and to make demands. On a local level, Oakland has just shut down several schools. In the past year or so they've cut many jobs, cut libraries, de-funded school, the death toll from violent murders has been hovering above 100 for i don't know how many years, programs, increased police funding, and people here are pissed off. What happens if the city ignores them? Strike! I mean, if you knew half of the shit corporations like Citibank and Wells Fargo, Goldman Sachs or even folks like Standard Oil have done with US tax payers money here locally and would be real pissed off too. And they claim there's no money for basic shit? Bull! Stuff is hot out here and it's about to heat up.
On a positive note, my son, my family, mom, step father, my crew, and countless homies including some of my kids school teachers came out to the day of strike and it was a beautiful day. The media estimates 4-5000. I say there was more like 30,000 out there. Families, union workers, kids, queer folks, hood folks, folks from all over the bay came and shut the port of Oakland down. My son was so inspired, many tmes that day he began shouting with his friends all by himself. Adults and kids around us joined him and handed him a megaphone. Proud Daddy moment for sure! I don't watch much TV, and have had some shaky net access for the past month, so I'm sure there are many reports on Oakland (google it), but I like what Davey D had to say here. I'm brainstorming how I can contribute artistically to inspire and inform. The post about the TYS show we did the same week of the strike is coming up. Oh yeah, and Oakland took back the downtown occupy space after the cops tried to barracade it. For all you nay sayers and fence riders, in the words of James Brown "Get involved" if what you want to say is not being said.

Nov 7, 2011

East Bay Edibles x Tamales La Oaxaquena

When I was living in West Oakland I met a very generous, loving, and talented family. Carolina Santos, her momma Oliva, and her son Isaac (who my son often played with). Carolina, my friend and old neighbor often offered to let me try the food her mom and her made, but one day I tried the mole her mom made and was floored. The best I have tried ever! Delicious. Living next door to her family I got to hear about how challenging it is to run a business centered around food. The catering they do, the wins, the losses, the customers who are supportive and the ones who couldn't begin to imagine the amount of history, dedication, and hard work go into the tamales they eat. I vowed to lend a hand artistically, but fell short of my initial promise. So when I got the word that Carolina wanted to do an article about the business I jumped at the opportunity to do some illustration. As I have mentioned food related art in the past year; it goes right along with the work I've been developing. And this family business needs the attention of anyone who appreciates good food and the history of Mexican food. Not only do these two make delicious food, but they can tell you stories about what life was like in Oaxaca Mexico and why that is important to how they make the food. If you want to know more about them I highly suggest checking out this issue of East Bay Edibles. The article is called "Something Spicy, something sweet". Edibles, in case you don't know it is a national magazine about good food, the people that sell it and grow it. Hit up Carolina at or call em at 510-613-5836
Big shout out to Edibles editor Cheryl Koehler for publishing the piece!

Nov 6, 2011

Muphoric Sounds 19-Hugh Masekela

One of my favorite
Masekela joints. Pulled this one out of the dusty boxes of my memory for yall. Hope you enjoy. Go listen at Muphoric Sounds

Nov 1, 2011

Oct 27, 2011

Sometimes it gets shelved #2 -RIP Guru

This is a piece that never got to see a final. Although it wasnt exactly what my client was going for, I liked it. Rest in peace to the incredible GURU. Yall remember "The Conspiracy"? Rings true still today.

Dig this? Check out a portrait I did of Prodigy of Mobb Deep

Oct 17, 2011

Typography 15-Thelonius Monk

T is for Thelonius!! When i was a young teen I remember buying a best of Thelonius LP. I listened to this dudes cd over and over again. Epistrophy is a dope song that was on there, but my favorite from that CD was "Trinkle Tinkle". Something about the speed and weirdness of his playing on there to me suggested happiness and absolute craziness! You can hear two version here. Version 1 and version 2.

Oct 14, 2011

Character 26 -Morpheus

Did you know a woman named Sofia Stewart, not The Wachoiski Bros wrote the original story for "The Matrix"?

Oct 12, 2011

Short Story 9 + Process

In the age of flight schools there were communities that taught young people of all tribes and ages. At these schools they learned about science, problem solving, mathematics, our story, art, spirituality, and magic. When an outside visitor and his cohorts threatened to destroy these schools of progressive thought and action, the students sought to defend it. And defend it they did, using all the elements of the earth at hand. Some flew on air and land, others flew on water. Descendants of one of planet earths most ancient tribes; "Sena" the oldest of the girls in her surfing class and "Galbadon" who was in the beginning boys surf class escaped a major catastrophy in the northern temple. They were to become the new guardians of the sacred water stone............
A note about this process and these stories: If you are just tuning into my short stories series , let it be known that these are experimental short stories with experimental painting/drawing/ writing technIques. I seek to tell stories about children and people of color that are both real and fantasy, but grounded in reality. I'm working "it" so to speak. If you are viewing this, let me know what you think as I continue to explore my practice of telling stories on a larger scale. Also, check out the drawing process. Click the "short story" label below the post and you will see more like this one...