May 30, 2013

ACEN 2013 Commission Roundup!

I finally was able to catch up on all those commissions from Anime Central, so I thought I'd give you all a little sampling of all the fine work I did during and after that lovely weekend! These are in no particular order, so, don't worry!

First we'll start out with my only sketch card of the weekend, which was a gift for the commissioner who requested the Lunar 2 button set! I felt bad because it took me forever to get to finishing up that set, so I drew a gifty art!

Actual size is like 2.5" x 3"

The next two are also ones I finished while I was at the convention (I think i'm missing one, but it might be deeper in my image files.

Also, if anybody has any good ideas on how to take pictures of my finished arts at my booth table, I am ALL EARS. I can't seem to find a way to document them, because they turn out so lovely and I like to show examples of my commission work for future commissioners!

5x7 Color, no background commission
Requested by one of the fans of my Lunar 2 button sets! It's Leo!

Next up I always have at least one request during the weekend for a "cute couple" and they usually tend to be on the Shounen-Ai side, which I am totally okay with doing "cutesey couples". I don't really go further than that though, as it's not really the genre I work in, so I'd like to not be mislabeled, you know?

I think they're from Prince of Tennis?

8.5" x 11 color, no background
HANDS OMG. I have really been on fire with those lately.

Next up was my very first Marvel commission - and they requested that Captain America and Iron Man switch costumes. I could not help myself.

8.5"x11" Pencil
Another staple of my convention commissions tends to be at least ONE Homestuck request. Which I don't mind cause I like Homestuck. :P This one was with Jake and John.

5x7 Color, no background.
Do the windy thing John!
A returning customer wanted a picture of the costume she was in, slightly chibified, so here it is! I believe this is from Romeo x Juliet?
8.5"x11" Color no background

And then last but not least, is the really really BIG commission order I got. They wanted a full color 8.5"x11" image WITH a background. It took me a while and I finally finished it up yesterday, so I just had to show you all. :)

8.5"x11" Color with background
 Honestly, I'm really really happy with how it came out, and I look forward to doing more like this for my "FUTURE ARTBOOK". Eventually. Someday. GOSH DARN IT I WILL.

That's about it for today! I think maybe later I'll blather on about art and conventions and such. I'm attempting to relax a little bit before Colossal Con, so we'll see how well THAT goes...

May 21, 2013

Anime Central 2013 RECAP!

Wow. Only a couple of days after the show and I've already got a recap for you! Shocking! I KNOW.

Anyway, let's get this party started, shall we?


We arrived on Thursday afternoon after a relatively uneventful drive down. I learned the new uses for my smartphone during the travel – I discovered my google maps app can tell me the traffic density wherever I am at or traveling too. Okay, so I’m probably the worst smart phone user ever (I can barely remember that the thing does texting…), but hey! I was feeling pretty useful as we got into town with little/no traffic jams.

Mainly, we took the toll road around the west side of Chicago. Honestly, I don’t mind paying an extra, what…9 dollars if it means I don’t have to deal with crazy drivers and backups. Sitting in traffic jams and spending extra time in a car is damaging to my knees right now, so the faster I can get somewhere, the better!

ANYWAY, we arrived at the hotel and checked in, meeting up with Sil from PHD Cosplay, closely followed by Samaru and Rajamitsu from Sanddiver Studios. Afterwards, we headed to go find the Alley registration. I knew that this year it was going to be a little different because we were on a different side and supposedly alley reg would be in the actual registration hall instead of say... hidden behind the Alley itself.

And they were right! WOO! I walked into the spacious registration area, and was quickly directed to a little kiosk in the back. (I didn’t have my camera at the time, so I don’t have any awesome pictures on hand as is until I figure out how to get them off my phone. Remember how bad I was at using my own phone?)

I was quickly checked in, and as I headed out, I was accosted by the table of swagbags, programs and lanyards! HOW WONDERFUL! No really! This is awesome! I usually have to hunt down programs and lanyards provided, and this one just tossed em at me. So for the first time ever I actually had a program the first day.

They had us drive around the back to unload and set up. Which was weird, but very handy. We really enjoyed having that back up camera in the car as we left, as we were dodging other cars and pillars in the hall. (DRIVING INDOORS IS WEIRD).


A lot of the convention was kind of a blur. I sat at my table with Aris from about 9:00 am to about 6:30 pm every day. I hardly left the booth if only to take a gander at the other Alley artists, and I think I only glanced at the Dealer’s side maybe 2 or 3 times at most.

The alley itself had changed its set up from previous years, and I have to say, I thought it was GREAT. They switched it to a more linear fashion with long rows with a couple of openings for artists to get through. They also removed any barriers between the Alley and Dealer hall, which made for a seamless transition for attendees to go from one to the other.

I got lucky, and was placed dead center in the center row, so we had pretty good traffic all day. The aisles were HUGE and that was great too as there were some big costumes and groups coming through.

My only complaint about the alley was there were rows on the very very end, and one of the sides faced the signing area and a secondary snack counter, and honestly I don’t know how much traffic some of those people got. I know I forgot it was there until I had to attempt to forage for food to eat (I’ll gripe on this later). There were also a few tables who were partially obscured by a huge concrete pillar. I felt bad for those people. So, it was a good set up, and could be improved upon. But it was a HUGE improvement from before.

Dealer’s hall finally had hanging signs with numbers so when somebody pointed out a booth to me, I could easily find it! Which was awesome because it got me a really amazing artbook.


I only donned a pink wig, and went regular plainclothes for most of Friday, and met up with Samaru and Rajamitsu later in the day as Alibaba and did a short set of pics of those costumes. It was all well and good until some random drunk guy found us at the end, started trying to take my camera away from us, then tripped up the stairs and fell over. This was the only experience I actually had with any of the drunken revelry that seems to go on at Anime Central. So either it was down, or they REALLY hid it well.

On Saturday I debut my Elizabeth costume, which I was afraid I wouldn’t fit into, but ended up getting into it just fine. I was corseted all day, and had the wig on from 9 am-Midnight. :P I wore that thing for almost 13 hours that day. It held up really well, and wasn’t too uncomfortable. The only problem is that when corseted I can’t eat as much. But that didn’t seem to matter since my food options were limited anyway (remember that gripe I told you I will talk about later?)

I also went to my first Black Butler photogathering, and it was... interesting. But at least all the Ciels thought I was pretty awesome.

Sunday was fun, as I wanted to go in a comfortable outfit. So I debuted the start of my Ron Stoppable costume. Sil went as Kim Possible, so we derped around about that day. It was a lot of fun, and I look forward to tweaking up the costume and wig and getting this thing working properly.


Overall, this was a spectacular convention. It had fixed so many problems from earlier, that it was the friendliest and safest I’ve felt at this convention in a long time.

I loved the set up of both the Dealer Hall and the Artist Alley. It felt so open, yet so huge at the same time. It was great.

The bathrooms. I dunno if it’s just this side, or they all got redone, but man! This side had BEAUTIFUL restrooms. No more ghetto looking stalls and sinks! It’s the small things, okay?

Pleasant Crowds! I had very few complaints about the crowd. No running screaming yaoi fangirls. No giant conga lines through the hall. No screaming hoards of Hetalia. Even Homestuck was relatively subdued (no honking horns).


The food. Honestly, this is really my whole complaint over this weekend. Normally, we feed off of the Expoteria, and before anybody jumps in to tell me what a rip it is, it’s at least relatively freshly made food, and can be taken in containers to anywhere in the con center. This is important for me in the alley, as I can’t go and spend a good hour or two trying to get food, and then have to sit and eat it elsewhere. That’s work time I’m losing.

This year, the Expoteria was open on Friday, but Saturday and Sunday it was closed. I have no idea why. Aris went to go and check out the snack counters in hopes of finding something I could eat, and even THOSE no longer had soft pretzels. Unfortunately for me, my body doesn’t really handle con food as well anymore, and I couldn’t really have the pizza or nachos they were offering. (it also doesn’t help with the slight lactose intolerance I have either).

My choices were candy bars, cookies, and pop or………. I could go over to the other hall, and there the center had set up their own “food stand” with exceedingly overpriced foods. ($3 for a can of pop. I CAN’T EVEN HAVE THAT AT MY BOOTH FOR FEAR OF SPILLING IT UGHHHH)

All the food they had available was not easily portable, and was terrible according to my cohorts who tried it.

So ACEN. Your next step is to fix this. Otherwise, tell me ahead of time, and I’ll pack a cooler full of food, and just deal that way. (I'm flexible! I just need to know)

Other side note on “bad” things – the program. I could not decipher what order they had the panel descriptions in. Guys. Sort A-Z or something.


I had a great time, and I cannot WAIT to come back again. I feel good things for this convention. This was definitely a step in the right direction (I can’t even find any cataclysmic events on the forums).


Here’s the amazing things I bought this weekend. Which is almost entirely from the Alley, except for the Valkyria Chronicles book, and an Arda color ring (not pictured here).


I dunno, I think I have some “rants” about artwork, alleys or conventions coming up. Any requests or questions people want me to cover? I’d be glad to chat about most anything, Alleys, Cosplay, Conventions, and whatever else geeky I seem to absorb. :P

May 20, 2013

Tough Artist Life Decisions AKA Deciding What You REALLY Want to Sell

I’ve talked a bit about Artist Alleys (and have a some more planned in the future!), where I’ve mostly chatted about things you’ll need, and things you can make. For a lot of us who start a table, we have the dreams of doing this as our job for the rest of our lives (maybe even getting something published or out there), so often that first year is a first step of a very long journey.

A long journey that will have many twists, turns, and unexpected successes and failures over the years. To this I am no exception. What I have found is over the years is that things I didn’t always imagine to be popular ended up being some best sellers, and some I had hoped would be popular didn’t pan out as I had wanted.

But that’s okay! That’s part of the adventure of being an artist in an Artist Alley! The best booths are ones who are watching their customers, and looking for what they want (while still keeping your own brand and style with it!).

So what am I getting at here? Well, since I started doing alleys I have made a lot of different products, and my booth has definitely increased in types of products and size. I’ve moved to trying to do art as a full time job thanks to some wonderful coincidences and help from wonderful people.

Which has caused me to re-think my own booth, and my own products. You see, I have an Etsy shop (which coincidentally has been on hiatus for some time due to lack of extra stock I can sell). And I have had to come to a very difficult decision, but I think it’ll be better for me in the long run:

I am going to discontinue making Pokemon Badge Sets en masse.

I know what you’re going to say. “But Karmada! They are good sellers! You make money with them! Money! Real Money! You need to keep making them!”

Which is a very legit argument. I’ll give you guys that. But here’s what you don’t know: I’ve been making these badge sets since 2005. That’s over 7 years of badge making. And now that I’ve moved to doing art full time, I’ve discovered a terrible flaw to this plan…

All I do is make badge sets now.

In fact, I loathe making them. I used to have fun designing them, and coming up with cool packaging and methods of creation. But now, when I look at a batch I have to make, I can’t stand to look at it. It’s such a time sink. It takes me forever due to my lack of desire, and then that just eats more time. When I do have spare time, I think about all the sets I have to make and I stop drawing anything at that point too because I know I have other things I need to be doing (like making sets, or ordering boxes)

I quit my other jobs so I could pursue my comics and sell my artwork and improve my skills so I could make awesome pictures and books and stories to share with people. Instead I am constantly buried in a stream of Resin and Sculpey clay. I haven’t drawn anything in over a week and a half, and the last time I touched my comics was about 2 months ago (as you can see from the dust my webcomics are gathering).

I am no longer able to actually pursue the art I had intended to from the start. And I’m tired of waiting. I’m tired of thinking “Oh after this batch I can get back to my comics!” I’m already jumping into the comics game later in life than I should have.

I can still do sets on commission, special orders, but I can no longer do them in batches as I had before. I would like to have my booth survive on my 2-D art and prints, my comics, my books, rather than a gimmicky item like badge sets.

The badge sets were one of those lucky flukes I had for my booth. I had no intention of doing these things forever!

So what’s this post about other than me whining about badges? 

Well, it comes down to deciding what you, as an artist, really want from your booth.

Just because something is popular, if you hate it, you shouldn’t be doing it! It’s so draining being at a job you hate, why would you do that to yourself by making a product that brings you NO JOY whatsoever?

Nobody’s forcing you to make what you do at your booth. So focus on what YOU want to sell, not what everybody tells you to. Your booth is just that. YOURS.

So do what makes you happy, and sell what YOU want to sell!

Because I am of the belief that if you love your products, it’ll show through and then other people will come to love them too! :)

May 10, 2013

Absent for a Reason!

Hey guys! Sorry I've been kinda quiet. A lot has been going on behind the scenes (which is also why I feel like I'm super behind on my two comics as well).

First off, is the important announcement - Crash Bang Labs will be attending ANIME CENTRAL! (if you didn't know already!)

I couldn't be more centralized if I wanted to be!

We're going to be at booth 125, pretty much in the center of everything! So come see us! Chat with me about drawing or cosplay or what have you. I don't have a ton of stuff going on that weekend other than "working at the booth", so I should be there more often than not (sometimes I escape to get a quick picture or two of my costume of the day).

This is also why I've been away from the blog! I've been getting all my materials ready for the show, and I have some new charms and buttons added to the booth.

I'm also working on some new cosplays at the same time!

I've got some fun, more casual ones coming up, but the one to debut at ACEN will be Elizabeth from Kuroshitsuji (Black Butler)!

As you can see, I've been pretty busy.

The Bigger Announcement

I have some artist alley news I want to talk about in length, but this post is not the one to do it in. I will, however, be talking about this once I return from Anime Central, around May 20th. Sorry for the cliffhanger! I'm getting a lot of other things in line, and I think it'll make all our lives much better. :)