Film Study 3 - Whale Rider (2002)


This incredible film came out when I was in college and I LOVE it still to this day. It is based on a book written by Witi Ihimaera, directed by Niki Caro, and beautifully portrayed by Keisha Castle-Hughes. Some people would call this film slow, but i'd say it is magical and well worth the watch. This New Zealand film delves in to the legend of Paikea whom I drew many years ago and gives us a strong young woman who fights against tradition and expectations.

This is a new series for me (a visual artist) exploring the language of film and tv. I love the medium like s many people and I want to learn more about how the best do what they do. Part of that is learning who does what, re-examining film and tv I love, studying shot composition, lighting, and camera moves. Anyway, if you're curious follow along.

Here's the previous film study- Creed


Black Owned Etsy Shop Mkt- July 24th-27th


Peace, juiced to say that I will once again be a part of the Black Owned Etsy Shops "Etsy Market" event this coming weekend. Thank you for reading along here! PLEASE check this event out so you can see some of the incredible Black creatives featured in our group. Of course you can see my stuff, but I bet there's a shop or two in there that you didn't know about before so come come thru, tell a friend.

Saturday July 24th- Monday July 27th

And just in case you want to see ALL the Black Owned Etsy Shops, go here. If you're a self identified Black Owned shop, join the team.


Repackaging of the "Multicultural Sticker pack"!


I put this out at the beginning of the year as a pack, but now I just redid the packaging which I really like. This pack contains 6 stickers. If you dig, cop one for a friend.


Character 157 - Pink Dread


Here's the Pink Dread! Been awhile since I put up something new, much less a character. Matter of fact its been over a year! Playing with some digitals.

The last character? - Character 156- Jump
Check out the last character collage too.

SF State Features Alejandria Fights Back & Leticia Hernandez-Linares


Here's an article featuring my new book Alejandria Fights Back with some quotes from Leticia Hernandez-Linares. We both went to San Francisco State University and Leticia is a professor there now!! 

And if you missed my last post about this new picture book created with The Rise Home Stories Project please see the previous posts here


Alejandria Fights back featured on "Social Justice Books"


    Yo, this is pretty amazing to make it to the front of the NEW books page on Social Justice Books' site! If you didn't already know SJB is one of the biggest and most organized sites for both diverse and progressive minded books in kid lit for kids pre school aged up until high school and college. PLEASE do me a favor and subscribe to their newsletter, follow them, check out their many book lists, and support them! This is especially true for all those who ask, where are the diverse books? or Where are the socially conscious books?

That being said, I want to givce a BIG shout out to Teaching For Change who are the organizers behind the Social Justice Books site. Thank you for championing books and educators trying to teach the babies. And please keep an eye out for Alejandria Fights Back/ La Lucha de Alejandria when it comes out. You can preorder the book here. And check out my previous post about the book here.

PS: If you look closely you can see a second book on the 2021 new bks page that I illustrated by this awesome lady.


Film Study 2 - Creed (2015)


Here's a film about boxing that I love. Ryan Coogler and Michael B. Jordan have a great rapport. They seem to get each other and I think they've worked on four films together now. Anyone, this addition to the Rocky saga is a super intelligent well made one. I haven't seen all the Rocky films but I've seen some and this fits right in. Michael B is the son of Apollo Creed in this flick. 

This is a new series for me (a visual artist) exploring the language of film and tv. I love the medium like s many people and I want to learn more about how the best do what they do. Part of that is learning who does what, re-examining film and tv I love, studying shot composition, lighting, and camera moves. Anyway, if you're curious follow along.

Here's the previous film study- Juice 1992 film


Video: Rise Home Stories Project


Rise Home Stories Project is a cohort of 5 projects (Video Game, Animated series, Podcast, Kids bk, Interactive game) including my book "Alejandria Fights Back" is one of them. The project was funded by the ford Foundation and involves several partnerships such as my book's partnership with Feminist Press. Check out the video!

If you missed my post about Alejandria Fights Back please check it out here.


Dead Prez x Sault remix - Pele Durian Funk


Dead Prez classic remixed by DJ/Producer Pele Durian Funk w/ this new vibe UK band Sault is creating w/their focus on music. If the video gets taken down please go to Pele's bandcamp to listen to a whole EP of remixes featuring different artists such as Mos Def, Erykah Badu, Bambu, and more all w/ flips of Sault

And please support Dead Prez and Sault by streaming and purchasing their music. 

Exclaimer, the remix is a vital part of not only hip hop culture, but of music and culture in general. Here's a link of some other music I've been listening to a lot lately. HOUSE.


Inspiring Artist - Helen Mingjue Chen


Yo, Helen Mingjue Chen is one of my favorite artists. She's an illustrator and concept artist for animation. She's worked on Wreck it Ralph, Raya and the Last Dragon, Frankenweenie, Paperman, Big Hero 6, and so many other films. She also has worked on a bunch of comics for DC and Marvel. If you have not seen or heard of her work please go check out her site and get her art books here. I have one and its amazing! Helen if you're reading this, lets book trade!

Here's a video link to here explaining how she does film work.

Yo, if you're new: This is where I share artists that have been inspiring to me in my work sometimes directly and other times. And I am definitely geeking out on Helen's work because her stuff is amazing. The line work, the action, the design elements of her sets, and the lighting. OMG, So good. 


Thats it for now. Like I said go check out more of her stuff. The last artist I mentioned that really inspired me is Mira Nair, see that post here

You can also see my last inspiration board here if you're currently stumped, maybe it will help.

Old Art 4 - Treadmill


Here's a throwback from this old show in Brooklyn. I feel like the treadmill is not at quite as steep an incline, but still there. This is when I was heavy getting into ink. So much of what we go through in this country as working people is about keeping capitalism going and fighting for the almighty dollar. Sometimes it makes me imagine what would I do if I (we) didn't have to live this way.

If you missed the previous Old Art post, here it is: Big Daddy Kane
Here's an old ink drawing I did of an Afro Pick.


Film Study 1-Juice (1992)


Juice (1992) is one of my all time favorite films. I've seen it so many times I can quote most scenes. Heres a bit of film study learning about shots. How they're composed and why. Ernest Dickerson was the director and Larry Banks was the DP or Cinematographer. You can get the 25th anniversary edition here.

I got some of the shot composition definitions from Studio Binder and made this graphic with shots from the film. Feel free to use it or share (w /credit of course). I already have respect for film, tv, and animation makers, but studying it gives me so much more respect for how difficult it is to make something both beautiful and meaningful. 

Stay tuned.... 


Gender Nation - One of a Kind Like Me


So recently a picture book I worked on with Laurin Mayeno and Blood Orange Press got banned from a few schools. Read that post here. And we got a bunch of negative comments about the book from parents and adults who are frankly scared. They're scared of folks who they don't know, understand, or want to have to get to know so they can teach their children to understand them. 

But at the same time we got some good news! This organization Gender Nation founded by two parents who have queer kids to get books about the LGBTQ community and diverse stories into San Diego schools. They fundraise, and get these books into schools where they might not have the $ or just didn't know about them. And our book "One of a kind, like me/ Unico Como Yo" is one of their books.

Please watch the video and go to their fundraising page because they're now aiming to get these books into schools in Los Angeles, one of the biggest school districts in the US.

Heartbreak Radio 151 - Lady Imix & DJ Phatrick


Not sure if you've had the chance to listen before but Heartbreak Radio (Lady Imix and DJ Phatrick) is a monthly radio show online with music lovers, educators, and activists that play love songs, chill vibes, and songs about heart break. LISTEN

If you dig mixes, check out this one of Philipino funk from Pele Durian Funk


Love & Basketball (2000)- Movies I Love 4


Gina Prince-Bythewood is a great director. I've seen the majority of her film work and this is one of my favorites of her films. It's rare that I've seen a love story like this about an athlete that puts a young Black woman front and center. Not only as the awkward love interest but as a force of strength and power on the court. If you haven't seen it I highly recommend it. Sanaa Lathan and Omar Epps are incredible in this and it came out when I started college. Watch the trailer.

Did you miss the last Movie? O Homem Que Copiava.

If you loved this film and want to see more like it I suggest Beyond The Lights! And peep, this film will be re-released this year w/ a new documentary and commentary by the director herself as a Criterion collection Blue Ray.

What is this? This is a part of my blog where I share my favorites films. I enjoy them for their pacing, action, comedy, drama, lighting, acting, score, so many things. I grew up as a lover of cinema going with my parents, friends, and by myself. I'm no scholar but I bet I could find a movie we both love to talk about. Stay tuned for more.....



SFETSY seller!

Fam, I first "volunteered" for SF Etsy in 2014 (i think-getting old) because I wanted to put in some work and learn how they work, who they are, and if it would be a good place to sell my stuff at. I found out all of that and so much more. SF Etsy is a kind, supportive group of folks who are from all over the Bay Area. I've always had a great time at all their events and its a world class lesson in community and business when you peep how they do what they do. So, find something different and unique by using the #sfEtsy hashtag, go to the shows once they start up again, and support a local business... 



Freelance chronicles 7- 1000 Sales on Etsy

Me vending, photo by Imelda Jimenez-LaMar

Yo yo yo yo (Stretch Armstrong voice), I just crossed the 1000 sales mark on Etsy which I'm very proud of. I know sellers who have less than 100 sales and folks with upwards of 20k. But, I plan to make more. Here's some tips and things I did to make it this far. If you're new to selling on Etsy, Shopify, Big Cartel, We Buy Black, or any online commerce site these might be helpful. Got suggestions? Questions? Leave a comment! Shout out to my wife who gave me so much energy, ideas, and feedback on how to make my work pop! If you have ever purchased a book or a sticker from me, THANK YOU.

via GIPHY (Fresh prince of Bel Air)

1. Get Specific

I like when I see sellers on Etsy create a niche. It doesn't mean you sell something that no one has ever seen or made before only. It means you and your products have focus. If shoppers can see your story not only from your bio and product descriptions, but your over all store; it will help. Why? You want to get to specific people who like what you like. Not every single person. There are going to be a lot of people who don't rock w/you because its not their thing and that's ok. Trust me, if you LOVE it there are others out there who will. And your passion, expertise, and knowledge is infectious! So nail it down, and pivot if necessary.

Reverie performing, photo via 

2. Flow/ Rhythm

I've found that if there's a regularity to my posts about my merch (merchandise) people not only come to expect whats new from me, the awareness that I make products grows. When I wasn't making very many sales it was because I posted a product once here and there. Once I sat down and made a schedule each year including multiple series of products I began to see much more traction. Create a rhythm of when you release products. Could be 4 times a year, or 12. Create a schedule and try to stick to it.

Doc OG Lowrider painter (RIP)

3. Customize 

One way to set yourself apart from the crowd in terms of sales is to make custom items. The challenge with these is that they are time consuming and require skill to make them. As a result they will cost more, but if folks get to know you and they think what you make is unique and special they will buy them because they mean something. So, how can you flip what you're making now to have a flair, color, tone, or message that is custom (your style) or customized for the individual. This way, folks can't get it anywhere else but from you.

via GIPHY (In the heights)

4. Build Community 

A great way to gain more knowledge and eventually more sales is to build community. How do you do that? Join an Etsy team if you're on the platform. Make friends with other sellers like you. Reach out to people and ask for help, offer help, etc. By building friendships in this area of life you not only earn more money, but you can help your community of sellers by sharing what you know and you all grow together. This community can be virtual or in person. The point is to get out there and make genuine friendships, give, and receive. Support other sellers by buying stuff from them that you like, and they will do the same. Shout out to SF Etsy (Etsy Team), The Black Owned Etsy Shops, and my local community for having my back!

Vendor at Unique Markets via Forbes

5. Do events

Before Covid and after events in person will always be a great way to market your work, meet new people, to product test, and to drive future traffic to your shop. Events are not just for selling your stuff that day, sometimes retailers or shoppers will take note of your stuff and hit you up at a later date. If your immediate family already has everything you make its good to go to the other side of town and show em what you got. If you can talk about and share your products with people who stop by your table/booth you'll be able to see real quick what people gravitate to and what they don't. Test! If folks buy from you once make sure to leave them with a way to follow you, see more, or to share what they got with their friends. Business or postcards are great for this and you can also ask them to sign up for an email newsletter....

Tony Leung/ In the mood for love

6. Email newsletter 

I started doing email newsletters seriously over 3 years ago and it has done wonders for my regular sales and for connecting to my folks! Why? I can reach people at their personal emails and the majority of them actually see it and open my message. With social media it can be difficult to reach people because of algorithms, or the latest features a platform is highlighting. I started with one email a month, thats it. I do not spam people because that gets annoying. I make the newsletter short, to the point, and balanced with image, text, and sometimes video. If you have one consider making a website of your work with a pop up and having an actual paper form that people can fill out at events to get new sign ups. I use Mail Chimp but there are many such as Mad Mini, Constant Contact, Substack, etc.

via GIPHY (Marshawn Lynch)

7. Press 

Both paid and earned press is key. You sell at events, you post on social media, you email everyone. You tell all your family and friends. Folks support and then the sales slow down or stop. Don't quit. It just means folks have bought all you have or they're financially tapped out. You gotta reach new folks. How do you do that? Get eyes on your products who don't know you at all. Maybe they support Black owned businesses, maybe they're Queer friendly, maybe they're a teacher, entertainer. Whatever it is, they're looking for folks like you. Which blogs do they follow? What podcast do they listen to? Do they read newspapers? Make a note of these places (especially the ones you know your audience would love) and reach out. Sometimes you will have to pay, but I've heard its best to reach folks who write about work like yours and get it for free. You're helping journalists and they're helping you. This takes a lot of time, years even. But the more you prepare your information, links, and photos so it is easy to share with journalists the easier it will be to cover you and your work. You can see some press I've gotten for books or merch here. Shout out Papalodown who helped me tremendously with this.

Aaliyah / Romeo must die

8. Trial & Error

Some shit will pop and some will not get any traction at all. That is just how it is. Sometimes it takes awhile for things to gain traction too. There have been times where I made something and got it reproduced. It never really sold, and I was left with tons of products. A few times I just followed my gut and made something that sold really well! This to me means making what you want and thinking of what would best serve your audience and or supporters. There have been times where customers have told me what they liked, didn't like, or what they wish I would make. If it made sense, I'd try it out. Sometimes they were right, sometimes not. Try new things related to your core passion. And take your time, because it takes time.

via GIPHY (Maitreyi/ Never have I ever)

9. Extras
Here are a few extra things I would highly suggest. 
-Get good photos of your merch. Either your study YouTube tutorials and figure it out or you hire someone like Sunset Shutterbug. A product photographer can help make your work shine! 
-Brand your stuff and your social media. Meaning, use the same font, colors Key Words, logo, bio, typography, etc. That way when they look at your card, site, merch, social media it is all consistent and says something about you. I should note that a logo and an illustration are NOT the same thing. If they seem too similar or you don't understand the difference, hire a graphic designer! 
-Search your app or selling service for help. Many of these platforms will have helpful articles, blogs, or videos to guide you. Take advantage!

Me and my youngest

Peace fam, my name is Robert Liu-Trujillo. I'm an artist from the Bay Area and I work in several fields (Kids books, Murals, Merchandise, Licensing, Illustration, Creative writing, etc). If you're new to my blog, welcome. I share my personal and professional work here. Freelance chronicles is a series of blog posts about what has helped me succeed and the many experiences I've had along the way. I've been working as a freelance artist since 2006 officially. I have not worked a "day job" since 2014.  If you found this helpful you can support me by copping something from my shop or subscribing to my email newsletter! Feel free to share.

Previous Posts: 

Improve your merch table LINK

Business podcasts LINK

LAST NOTE: I started my Etsy shop in 2009/ 2010. I didn't really start making full use of it until the past 5 years (I'm writing this in 2021). It takes time, be patient with yourself. Wherever you are in the process be open to growing.


Interview w/ professor Marilisa Jiménez García (Side By Side )


Great interview w/ author and educator Marilisa Jiménez García about her book "Side By Side" which examines Pura Belpre, Puerto Rican historians such as Arturo Schomburg, US empire, and the beginnings of books and education for children in the US. This is a greta book for ethnic studies students in high school and college. And my artwork is on the cover :) Big shout out to Marilisa for including it.

Link to buy the book

Previous post about the book, and here's the link to the original illustration.


Organizing-Video Inspiration


For over a year I got to work with Ntanya and a crew of great organizers and I still carry conversations like this one with me. Organizing, base building, etc A lot of people talk, but organizing is hard work.

Here is a bit of organizing I do: Social Justice Holiday Bk Fair 

Speaking w/ Sol Collective

 Today I'll be speaking with Sol Collective and their community talking about literacy!!! The jist of the presentation is : To develop a love of reading takes teamwork and ganas (desire). The absolutely awesome stories you seek are out there, you just have to work together to find and share them. In this short workshop, Robert will share his experience going from a nonreader to a lover of books and stories.

Hosted by: Me! Robert Liu-Trujillo, father, husband, artist, and author

LINK: Eventbrite Link


Donating bks for Palestine!


What up fam, so if you follow my blog, my social media, etc you know that I am very pro Palestine and have made artwork voicing that support as a way to let my folks know and encourage other artists who agree to share. With this past few months attacks on Palestine by Israel's Zionist govt and their continued policies more people are waking up and finding out the conflict is not really a conflict but an apartheid system and a genocide of the Palestinian people. 

So, the homie put out a call and I answered along with many others in the kidlit world. I put up a book bundle and a 1 on 1 chat about kids book illustration. So, please go to the their page and bid on some of these books, art, book swag, etc. And there are professional services there for folks who are actively trying to get into the kidlit world like manuscript critiques for multiple forms of kids books. Thanks in advance for your support. And for supporting Palestinian kids and families, and the people!

Social media: Instagram and Twitter


Kindred Journey 44 - Jeanyee Wong


This was really fun for me to research because Jeanyee Wong was a type based artist and I love typography. Jeanyee was born in San Francisco in 1920 to Cantonese parents who then moved to the Bronx in NY when she was a child. She is said to have started drawing on any and everything when she was just 3. She studied Chinese calligraphy at a young age. Then she studied painting and sculpture at The cooper Union  from 1938-1941. There she studied woodcut with Fritz Kredel and calligraphy with George Salter.  

Jeanyee started as an apprentice of Kredel's and began working on her own in 1941. The bulk of her work work has been in book publishing as she worked for Oxford University Press, Simon & Schuster, Macmillan, Random House, Little Brown, Crown, Viking, Atheneum, Knopf, so many. She created type treatment, calligraphy, design, and illustration for many there. She also worked in advertising, created certificates, business cards, invitations, letter heads, etc. For many years she worked as a teacher at The New School, Pratt, and others I'm sure. 

She is known for her design of the "Seventeen magazine, NY Public library, and Mad Magazine logos and her awards from AIGA and UNICEF. But she was also highly regarded among the Society of Scribes as a generous teacher of students. She worked from her early 20s up until her 80s I believe and her calligraphy and artwork is incredible. Excellent! 

"You're never perfect. You can always do something more and improve" - Jeanyee Wong (1920-2017)

Sources: JeanyeeWong.blogspot.com ( Alex Jay), Society of Scribes, Librarything.com

Did you catch the last one this month? Its Spie of the TDK, FC, and TMC crew!!


Press for Alejandria Fights Back!


Fam, as some of you saw my new picture book Alejandria Fights Back is coming out this summer, and I wrote a little bit about it here. But check this out, Leticia (the author along w/ Rise Home Stories Project) got a write up in Mission Local newspaper! 

Read the article HERE.

And if you're interested you can preorder your copy here.

Also, if you're in SF this Sunday, bring your babies to come hear the book read by Leticia and Me!


REST Sticker


Fam, here is the latest sticker in a new series meant to remind, encourage, and affirm. This one is a gold vinyl sticker reminding you to rest. I know we all got shit to do, but in between wins and losses, don't forget to rest.

Cop one for you or a friend HERE.

Did you catch the last one? It says "Focus"


Art & Activism Con

Peace, my dude Dave Heredia from NYC (based in LA now) is throwing this event at the end of the month encouraging us to share with open minds. Do you know someone who's an artist or beginning to get involved in activism? Invite them to this virtual event where they can hear and see folks making art and more. 

For more information please go HERE

I'll be one of the vendors selling my wares at the event. Interested in participating? Holler at Dave.

The last virtual event I participated in was this years Toronto Comics & Arts Festival! 

Here's some info from Dave:

If you’re an artist, poet, author, or know a creative person who is, DM me! We are honored and excited to have some great exhibitors so far. We are seeking creatives that promote positive representation, preserve culture or tackle social issues, and have an online shop page.
Graphic novels, poetry books, cultural art prints, and even multicultural dolls accepted. I know some clothing designers who fit these criteria too!! DM me for details, we three very affordable vendor table options available. To reserve a booth: https://www.heroesofcolor.com/aac-exhibitor.html



Kindred Journey 43 - Spie


Spie is a OG of the Bay Area Graf scene. A king in my opinion. Born and raised in San Francisco during the early 70s, he is from the second generation of writers is Frisco. He began writing on his own first, then he began joining crews. He's one of the illest local style technicians of letters and has always tried new things whether painting wild style pieces, throw ups, or even just his handstyles. He is a representative of several well known Bay crews; TMC, TDK, and Irie Posse. He's also reps FC, a NYC crew. Something that connects him to a long legacy of artists both in and beyond Graf is his use of art to speak truth to power.  Being the child of an organizer/activists instilled him with a DIY spirit and awareness that he always shared with the Graff community. In fact, in his career he is known as much for his unique letter styles as he is for speaking out against police terrorism, racism, imperialism, colonialism, and the system that uses these tools to get more money and power. Something I learned is that he was a mediator between writers who had beef. A peacekeeper. He is a citizen of the world traveling to Jamaica, Cuba, Costa Rica, NYC, even Palestine. He's a father, husband, activist, credentialed teacher, and a hilarious guy if you get to hang with him. If you have been impacted or inspired by Spie or his work please comment w/ a big up, fire emoji, or a memory so he knows how much we all love him. Thank you big brother.

Sources: One Track Mind magazine, My Life In Letters podcast,  Life, My Mom

More: The first time I met Spie he was already a legend to me. As a kid obsessed with Graffiti I loved taking flics of his pieces both solo and with Mike Dream. His style leaps off the wall, often using two outlines to accentuate movement. My family has a connection to his, as my grandmother knew his parents and worked with them on some labor activism. My mom who knew him since he was a kid proudly introduced me to him at a huge show he did in Oakland around the anniversary of the Hiroshima Nagasaki bombing. I could not believe she knew him and was floored by his humbleness and skill. Since the mid 90s I've been fortunate enough to get to watch him work, to hang, to speak to his students, to ask questions, and to be inspired by him. To watch him show solidarity with Palestine, Puerto Ricans, Filipinxs, and Black struggles such as Black August and Black Liberation figures such as Assata Shakur, Malcolm X, and more. I think his choice to put more up on the wall than just his name spoke to me as a kid. I was and am inspired so much by him and consider him a big brother and a mentor. Its great to hear him talk about his experiences coming up in the Graff world. I highly encourage you to listen to his episodes on the My Life in Letters podcast. Much Love dude!

Did you see the last piece of Pardon My Hindi?

Also, here's a piece I did of Mike Dream.