Jun 29, 2014

100 portraits-Furqan's First

I started painting children's portraits about two years ago. I was having a conversation with my friend Krea, a fellow parent and vocal activist. I was telling her about my story and she was very supportive saying that I should find a way to connect with more parents to tell them about it. She suggested doing portraits of kids. I'd never really thought of that before but I did one of my son as a test painting of my son and he and I both liked it.

Story 1 Children's Portraits Collage

I made a video about it and showed it to folks on the social networks, and immediately parents started asking me to paint their child! I never had an experience that was so fast to connect with parents.

Originally I thought I might do murals in children's rooms (which I still may do), but that proved to be more expensive and time consuming. Take a look at some of my recent portraits and check out this tag for more photos of the process of painting these. Each one is painted by hand from photo references with the child's favorite colors, ethnicity, or nationality in mind.

Thank you to Nikki for being my first parent and for spreading the word, and thank you to all my moms and dads who've helped me get closer to my goal of 100 portraits by commissioning one of your child. There are about 32 portraits now and about 11 people have pledged for new ones, so that leaves about 19 portraits left.

This may be my last or close to last post on the Furqan's First campaign (for now); please share this one with any folks who are looking for a children's portrait as a gift for a grandparent or new parent. They can get the book, a hand-painted portrait of a child, and a few other goodies.


Lastly, I've begun the tedious but exciting work of contacting book stores here in the Bay Area and across the US like Marcus Bookstore or Blue Stockings (NYC). I've started with some African American, Latino, and left-leaning stores, and I could use your help with recommendations for your favorite book stores. Some stores I've spoken to actually purchase books through Kickstarter campaigns as well, so if you know of any cultural centers or book stores in your city (anywhere), please ask them to pledge. Let them know there are only 7 days left in the campaign. If they do not purchase books through crowd funding sites, please email me your favorites! I'll contact them shortly afterwards.


Thank you all again, and stay tuned.

- Rob ( info@robdontstop.com )
If you are reading this and have not heard, several weeks ago I launched my first children's book through kickstarter. We surpassed our initial goal and are pushing for several cool stretch goals. Visithttp://bit.ly/FurqansFirst to see and share it. Thank You!

Jun 26, 2014

Furqan's First-We made it!!

We did it! THANK YOU all so much for being a part of this journey!

It has been amazing to see all the support from family, old friends, and many new friends. I'm excited to share with you this story and to give you sneak peaks as the production progresses over the next few months.
If you know anyone else who would be excited by this project, I've created a few regular and odd "stretch goals". Since we have already reached our initial goal, I've come up with some additional goals, with cool rewards for new and existing backers:
1. Some really cool, colorful, die-cut stickers printed on clear vinyl. The stickers will come in a pack of three or more and will feature concept or final artwork from the book. Get your laptops, skateboards, and sketchbooks ready! If we meet $11,000, this reward will go out to all backers of $25 or more.
2. Get a zine of my short stories! What?! Yes, I'll compile all the short stories I've written and illustrated over the past three years into one zine, including sketches, process shots, journal entries, photography and more. This 7" x 7" book will be 52 pages long, and printed in full color. If we meet the goal of $12,500, this reward and the stickers, will go out to all backers of $25 or more.
3. I'LL GET A FLAT TOP! I've had an afro for about five or six years now. But, I'll go to the barber shop and get a flat top. Really? Yes! I have not had a flat top since 8th grade. That was a long time ago, folks. I'll have the trip filmed so all can see. This reward is for all backers if we meet the goal of $14,000!

Again, thank you all so much for your support, kind words, and encouragement. Please continue to share this with friends and family. Tweet to Oprah, facebook Edward James Olmos! Let's meet the stretch goals! Here is the link: http://bit.ly/FurqansFirst
-Rob Trujillo

PS: Shout out to Bad Girl Confidence for interviewing me. Thanks to UTNE Reader for the upcoming feature. And shout out to Oakland Terminal and Edman Vargas for helping us cross the finish line! 

Jun 23, 2014

Furqan's First-Mentors

This is a shot of me working on some concept art for Furqan's First Flat Top

Thank you to all the new folks, family, and friends who just donated. Thanks to Healthy Black Men for blogging the campaign. Stay tuned.... I had a goal of reaching 200 backers over the past week and thanks to you I surpassed it. Not only that, we are currently over 80% of the way there. This week I will be doing my best to create a final push for the campaign to reach 275 backers and get it fully funded ahead of time. If you know any book lovers or people with influence in media out there who might be interested in this project, now is the time to share it with them. Send them the link and let them know there are several posts here explaining my journey and how I came to create this book. 
But for now, please read about some of the mentors I've met on my path. 
Heres the kickstarter link: http://bit.ly/FurqansFirst

Jun 16, 2014

I made short stories to get here- Furqan's First

I once heard Will Smith tell a story about rebuilding a wall his dad tore down. I remember him making a metaphor out of the wall. It was about gradual steps that build something much bigger. Instead of seeing the wall as a huge task he saw it in pieces. He learned to lay the bricks that form a wall and that simple focused act soon rebuilt the wall.
Four or five years ago I was doing my best to track down an editor/ director of a major bi-lingual publisher (shout out to Adriana!). I finally got a chance to meet with her in Manhattan and was so excited to “get published” that I was blind to a minor detail. I was not ready yet and neither was my work. I wanted her to give me a key to a door I was not yet ready to walk through. When she told me I needed to work on my stuff then and again later on I was crushed. I met with other artists in the field like Kadir Nelson who kind of said the same thing. And you know what? They were right. I wanted a short cut. I wanted it all without having done any work. I thought it was easy and that they should just give me a magic doorway to success. But it does not work that way. To really mentor someone or see the potential in a young artist, you have to see what they can do right?

After I picked my ego up off the floor I reassessed what I was trying to accomplish and what I was doing. I was trying too hard to please. I wanted to tell the story that others wanted to hear. I was looking for approval from other people to do my thing. And I was too much of an amateur at storytelling to communicate my ideas clearly. I needed to study. I decided that I would practice and post up my practice so that it would make me accountable to myself and others started to take notice. I began a series of very short blog posts on various drawing skills or subjects. One of them, and perhaps one of the most important outside of drawing characters was my series of short stories. Every month and a half I would sketch, draw, or paint one image or more as an example page from a children’s book. Some of them came out awful. Sometimes I didn’t know where I was going with them. And sometimes they were dope.
The first one I did was unintentional. It was a gift for my son. It was a portrait of him in a fantastical realm where Aztlan and Africa met. When creating these shorts I let myself have the freedom to use any medium I wanted to. I went with any topic I felt attracted to. I did it exactly the way I wanted to. I studied master artists in animation, film, concept art, comics, and children’s books. I began to try new techniques that I had either left in the past or had never tried before. And you know what happened? I started to build a portfolio of odd, weird, and sometimes magical illustration work that showed growth, dedication, fumbles, and sometimes even a bit of storytelling. This new series began to liberate me in a way that I had never felt before.
Furqan’s First Flat Top came from this place of searching and finding. I’m so glad that the editor, Kadir, and so many other mentors gave me encouraging but stern feedback. It toughened me, and made me more determined. I came up with many ideas on my own, which I want to turn into stories and Furqan is the first one. I have a long way to go and a lot to learn, but I feel more confident than ever about what I do. I’m happy to work with like-minded people who actually see and appreciate what I do. And I am quite comfortable doing it without any outside direction or advice; except that which I invite. And let me tell you, it feels pretty good. Folks don’t have to respond. They don’t have to say anything and often do not, but I love it when people get it. That is something I’m rather proud of. And that is why I bring you this short story turned full-fledged children’s book today. Thank you again for responding with support. Look for more stories from me. Stay tuned, more words to come.

Yo!! In case you've been meditating on a mountain somewhere and have not heard, I launched a campaign to fund my first children's book called "Furqan's First Flat Top". Please go check it out, support, and pass it on. W only have 20 more days to make it happen. 

Jun 15, 2014

Children's portrait 32-Niara

Niara is a beautiful little girl who is African American, Mexican, and Argentinian. I think she's about 5. This is a part of a childrens portrait series.

If you are interested in having a portrait painted of your child please click HERE.

Childrens portrait 31- Ilana

Ilana is about 7 years old, she's Xicana and super cute. Shout out to her tia Angelica for commissioning this portrait of her. I especially like how her smile and her name's symbol. You can get a portrait like this of your child by going to my Etsy page and clicking HERE

Daddy Thoughts 6- Dad day again

Today while walking out of the movies on father’s day I held my son on my back; giving him a piggy back ride, walking next to his mom. Strangely I was brought back to a promise I made to him when he was just a itty bitty baby in his crib. I’m sure my parents and step father made the same to me at some point. The promise was to be there for him, to be his guardian angel with or without wings (watched Maleficent). To do my best, even though I might #$%& up, and I definitely do occasionally. I lose my temper sometimes when I have passed the point of asking nicely for him to clean up his toys. I have been late to pick him up from school before once. Maybe twice. I once fed my child some moldy rice (ewww, yuck) and didn’t realize what the funny smell was. Bad dad. But, through the bumps and scrapes, I’m still here and so is he. I occasionally screw up, trying my best to make due with a graphic novel here, a smoothie there, a lesson in cracking eggs, and a regular “I Love You”. Said and done with all of my heart. This father’s day I did not spend it with my father or my step father even though I would have liked to have them both in the same room (maybe when I get married?). But, I did have a pretty awesome Fathers day with my son, his mom, a card, small gifts, ice cream, a trip to the record store, deep dish pizza, and a movie. I am a co-parent. I raise my son with my son’s mother together, through ups and downs.

I want to give a shout out to all the fathers out there today who like me have made a commitment and who will live and transition fulfilling it.  I want to say a prayer of forgiveness to any who feel shame for making a mistake, let it go and step forward. I want to say a prayer for those who are in pain mental or physical who could use our wishes. And I want to give a special shout out to the Rad Dad Collective for giving me a new place to share my energy and thoughts on parenting, even if it is just by helping other dads share theirs. I feel quite hopeful this year for new lessons and new opportunities. Peace!

And (shameless self promoting here) in case achem* you have been under a rock or taking a break from social media, I have launched the campaign to release my first children's book called “Furqan’s First Flat Top” funded by a crowd of fathers and mothers, and book lovers like you.  Take care dads.

Jun 11, 2014

Furqan's First- Dropped out of college, enrolled in life

Get an education! From a very early age my parents, family, and community drilled home the idea that I must “study hard” (Korean grandmother’s accent) and get an education. They gave me plenty in talks about thinking for myself, always questioning status quo etc. Education. To learn, improve one’s self, the struggle to gain knowledge was took to heart and I carry it with me everywhere I go. I’ve repeated it to every classroom I’ve taught in. I put it in my brush strokes and I tell my boy. Thank you to all of my many teachers.
The following happened almost all at the same time, but I couldn’t just make one huge paragraph, so there you go.
So then I dropped out of college. Ok, I went for a couple of years but I didn’t raise my hand. I didn’t get tutoring. I didn’t join Mecha or the Black student group. I went back to the town (Oakland) to kick it with my homies after class. Going through several years at a college taking courses was not teaching me. I had to leave school to learn and to understand what it was that I wanted to know. Ultimately I wanted to know myself and the following decade after I left school completely transform me. I enrolled in life.
When leaving school I joined a group of artists who would later become “Trust Your Struggle”. I love these folks and they are my brothers and sisters. In the beginning there were just 3 of us and later we grew to three times that. Having come from many backgrounds racially, geographically, and economically we took the ideologies we grew up with or were studying and blended them with our many styles of art. We taught each other, argued, we laughed, talked shit, and I grew exponentially as an artist and as a man. We said things that were not so popular 11 years ago, but we made our own gallery shows when others said no. We participated in organizing efforts to teach youth about the intersection of art, ethnic studies, and organizing at schools and conferences. We painted large murals across the country for schools, organizations, and actions. The crew formed mural tours where we met people who shaped our beliefs in the US and some of us went abroad.
My most amazing beautiful experience came when my son was born. A little boy who me and his mother named for his movement and his voice. I fell in love with his eyes and have held his hand tightly in mine ever since. Thousands of questions, a fierce spirit, a reminder of how precious life really is. I am forever grateful that he chose me to be his father. In him I rediscovered a love for stories reading to him at night. I decided that if he smiled while listening to them, I wanted to tell stories about where he came from, who he is, who I am, and who is community is. So much of both his and my identity is rendered invisible in stories that play out in real life. I feel that the simple act of telling a story is limitless in power. It satisfies my need to ask questions, to be creative, and to love.
At the same time, I taught. A lot. I have been working since my early teens but when I had to command the attention of a room of fertile minds I……. I was trying to think of something poetic to say here, but I’ll just say that $%^& was hard! Then, I had all these ideologies and concepts of what it meant to be radical in thinking or action until I met people who actually made political and social change. Not through a name or a big personality but by organizing at a ground, hand to hand, foot on the pavement level. I worked for a stint with non-profit organizations then back to teaching. I met children all over the Bay Area and later all over NYC. I made lesson plans, power analyses, I made curriculum. I snuck in revolutionary quotes in graffiti letters. I played songs like “You must learn” and “ Wear clean draws” next to “tell me when to go” and “candy shop”. Overall I think I learned more than I taught.
Then, I fell off on with my art a bit. I decided that I was going back to school to finish what I started. I started to practice again, between diaper changes and lesson plans. I start to make plans to leave my hometown. I decide with my son’s mom to leave the Bay Area and to travel to a whole new city. To Brooklyn, a whole other planet as Lyte one said. I teach there too. In Brooklyn, Manhattan, Harlem, Queens, etc. My crew has moved there too. I discover some kids literally have their school paid for while finishing my BFA. I realize I’m the oldest dude in my new classes and very often the only man of color. Folks come up to me speaking Spanish for the first time in El Alto. I hear Creole, Hindi, Spanish, and Patois when I walk. I meet people who challenge my point of view. I meet some artists of amazing caliber and incredible new friends with hearts as big as the city. I plan, I decide to commit to a new craft; absorbing as much as I can about how to tell stories. I read children’s books, comics, art books, watch more films like a mad man. I graduate. Pop my collar one time. Maybe twice.

I come back to planet Oakland after having met so many different people and having a really different world view than the one I left with. So much has changed when I return because I have changed. My pace slows for a minute. Then I start writing and drawing again like nuts and what happens next?. To be continued to the next post.
In case you missed it, I launched my first childrens book “Furqan’s First Flat Top” on kickstarter this past week. Check it out.

Jun 9, 2014

Furqan's First- Why I hated reading growing up

(Age 6 San Francisco)

Why I hated reading growing up. 

To me, books sucked! As a child I don’t remember many favorite children’s books. I wasn’t much into comics yet. I loved Graffiti Art and almost lost my mind when I met Dream and Spie from the TDK crew (Oakland).

My dad had foresight though. He made me read. When libraries paper catalogues for books and computers with black screens and green numbers; I had to get a book every month. Bring it home, read it, and tell him about it. Not only that, I had to comprehend it. I was (am) a very slow reader and understanding what I read was very hard. I’m thankful for this lesson though.

I had to read in junior high, but I could never remember any of the books (except “The Merchant of Venice”) because they didn’t speak to me. I read in high school and only really enjoyed the biology books. The novels were not about hip-hop or graffiti. Not one of the characters I read about was like me or into what I liked and that made me think books were not for me. I attended a high school that had African American and Raza studies (extremely rare) and there in my Black Psychology class taught by Mr. Davis and Raza studies taught by Ms Luna my curiosity for books began to open up. A little bit.

It wasn’t until after I took many classes as an undergraduate student at SFSU and dropped out of college to raise my first child that I really fell into the joy of reading. On my own. The person who brought me into this was not my mom or dad, although they did their best. It was Octavia Butler. I love science fiction and adored countless sci-fi films growing up but it was when I began reading her books that I found that joy, that high, that unmistakable feeling of losing one’s self in pages. In her stories I found characters like people I had met. Reading stories like hers and authors like Junot Diaz opened my imagination.

When my son was 6 we began reading more children’s books at night, specifically graphic novels. We picked up a book called "Amulet" by Kazu Kibuishi and his mind was completely blown. I had to push him to read it with me at first. But now, he has read more books as a 9 year old than I think I read in all my school years from kindergarten to high school. He loves to read in the car, on the bus, the train, even in the bathroom. I work my ass off to find books with characters from many backgrounds. It’s getting better, but we still have a long way to go.

I can’t help but wonder though now. Would I have picked up that joy at an earlier age if I saw a comic, children’s book, or a young adult novel that reflected me? See what I’m getting at? Furqan’s First is one of my biggest dreams come true. It is a way for me to be an activist and to use my imagination. Somewhere, somehow I hope that it will be a door, a slide, or a portal to a new world for a child. Maybe they will want to tell their story. Just maybe.

In case you missed it, I'm running a campaign for my self published project called "Furqan's First Flat Top" on Kickstarter. 28 days to go.

Jun 7, 2014

Furqan's First Flat-Top Campaign launch


This is it. I'm finally doing it. I'm launching a Kickstarter campaign for my first ever self-published children's / picture book called Furqan's First Flat Top. Over the next 30 days I will not only be doing a major push for this campaign on all the social networks, but I'll be doing a series of posts related to the campaign talking about my mentors and influences in the field, how and why I went back to school, my short stories series, libraries, and more. For those of you who have been with me on this artistic journey for months, days, or years already, from Oakland to LA, Texas to New York, France to London, Mexico to Chile, Canada, India, Philippines and South Africa: you understand where I'm coming from. But for those who have never seen my work before, I need to break it down for them and I need your to help spread the word wherever you think it will resonate clearly. That can be in traditional newspapers, radio shows, cable access, artsy blogs, podcasts, bookstores, emails, re-tweets, re-blogs, however you want to help.

Thank you, Muchas Gracias, and Kamsamnida in advance. With this story I am manifesting many years of practice and dreams. It is the beginning of much more storytelling to come. Most of the necessary information is on the campaign page but if you need to get some specific information from me, a press kit, images, links, please contact me directly at info@robdontstop.com.

Visit the Kickstarter page, give if you are in the position to, and let's get Furqan's First Flat Top onto bookshelves here in the states and abroad.

Jun 5, 2014

Children's portrait 30-Tlanextli

I've had the chance to meet this little one two or three times now and every time I see her, her smile is radiant. Tlanextli is about four and she is mixed with Mexican and Puerto Rican. Here are some progress shots.
If you are interested in getting a portrait painted of your child, please click HERE.

Handstyles 6- Zack dela Rocha/ One day as a lion

Me and my son both love this song called "Wild International" by One day as a lion (Zack and Jon Theodore) . I believe the original photo of him was taken by Ros O'Gormon, but please correct me if I'm wrong.

What is this? Handstyles! For as long as I've been drawing I've been practicing lettering. First i. the form of Graffiti, then calligraphy, graphic design, kerning, type setting, sign painting, and so many other forms. I'm not a designer or a lettering specialist, but I can hand write a few different styles and enjoy hand lettering when it's done right.

Dig this? Check out these lyrics by Tupac
Or these letters for Hyphen or Colorlines magazine

Jun 3, 2014

Short story 22- Genesis

Genesis was an especially serious girl. Growing up on C-9, you had to be. Like almost everyone round' her age, she lost her parents when the great famine of 48' hit. One day while working at the local oceanic damn, an AB (Artificial being) befriends her. This meeting and their subsequent conversation lead her on a journey through time to discover how her parents died and why the food suddenly disappeared.

Wanna see more?