Amabie: the plague-fighting, Japanese mermaid-thing

With the COVID-19 pandemic if full swing, trust Japan to resurrect an old monster which can fend off diseases. Not literally, of course, as metal as that might be.

The amabie (アマビエ) is a yokai (妖怪), a traditional Japanese monster, but an exceedingly rare one. It appeared in the mid-nineteenth century off the coast of Kumamoto, and as far as I know, this is the only record. Yokai.com has a pretty good write up on the amabie if you want more details. One of the abilities of the amabie is to cure disease if you show its picture to many people (kind of like influencers, if they were actually useful), so people began posting images of it to Twitter and Instagram. I guess the internet doesn’t violate the fineprint of the “show my picture to many people” , so it’s all good.

My wife kept asking me to draw it, so I started off with a more traditonal, creepy kind of yokai in contrast to the majority of the ‘net, which went in a definitely more kawai vibe. There is a lot a like about this one, but I the figure is just too stiff… oh well.

Amabie (Yokai ver.)

The second version was pure superhero, which overall turned out really well. I might go back and add either some gradations or colour in the future. It did take a lot longer a lot than I expected due to the water, which I kept fiddling with, but I am quite happy with the final result.

Amabie (Heroic ver.)

Fundoshi no hi (i.e. Japanese Loincloth Day)

Valentine’s Day in Japan is weird. Well, I’m sure it’s normal to the Japanese, but to those of us from more Western countries, February 14th is not so much a celebration of romance pushed on the public by various corporations, but more of a forced chocolate giving exercise for the OLs of the land. It’s still pushed on the public by various corporations, so there’s some connective tissue.

Fortunately, there is another holiday in Japan which is much more worthy of celebration: Japanese Loincloth Day, AKA Fundoshi No Hi (ふんどしの日). Yes, this is a real thing, at least according to the Japan Fundoshi Association (which is also apparently a real thing). According to the JFA

Although 14th of February is known for Valentines day in many countries, it is also a Fundoshi day in Japan. On valentines day, people celebrate by sending chocolates, flowers and messages to their loved ones to honor their love for each other, however in Japan, we send Fundoshi to the ones we love.

As far as I know, this is a blatant lie. I’ve never seen anyone in Japan exchange a loincloth ever, let alone on February fourteenth. Veracity of the JFA aside, I did a piece in honour of Fundoshi Day. This is the uncensored version, as Instagram and Dribbble seem to be boob adverse. Or nipple adverse anyway.

Fundoshi No Hi

Happy belated Fundoshi Day!

"I'm a professional"

A few weeks ago, an artist I follow on Instagram put up an AMA in their story. As most AMAs on Instagram, it was pretty standard and mundane as far as the questions and answers went. But there was one that now seems to have embedded itself into my brain for it’s sheer asshole-ishness. The question was (going from memory here):

How do you overcome a creative block?

Pretty common question, and frankly, a good one: creative blocks are a bitch. Everyone gets them from time-to-time, and they can be really disruptive, and even depressing, if you can’t get over them quickly. Here’s the answer (again, paraphrasing from memory):

I’m a professional [artist]. I don’t have the luxury of getting creative blocks.

That is a condescending non-answer. It’s a great response to something like “Are you an amateur whatever?”, or “Are you a professional jack ass?”. But “How do you overcome a creative block?” Pure… ego stroking? Put down? Both? I can’t decide, but either way it sucks as an answer.

If you’re a professional, you probably have a lot of experience and skills to draw on. Share that knowledge rather than giving snarky, untrue answers. And that answer is disingenuous: everyone gets creative blocks.

Of course, it’s impossible to know the mind space of the guy: maybe he’s been asked that particular questions in inordinate amount of times and is sick of answering it. Having a really shitty day in general – maybe his dog just died, or he lost a big contract. I dunno. And I have to keep reminding myself that one instance of asshole behaviour does not make an asshole: frankly, otherwise, they guy has always seemed like like good person otherwise. Maybe English isn’t his native language and something got lost in translation?

I suppose the real question I need to be asking myself is why is this bothering me? Being a jerk is the lingua franca of the internet, and as far as that goes, this barely registers. And I don’t know either person, so I don’t have a dog in the race. I guess that doing something creative is hard enough in terms of both skill and motivation – being an elitist asshole to others is not the best approach in general.

I'm on Dribbble now

The City

I decided to make a Dribbble account a while ago, but heard horror stories about waiting for a long time to receive an invite, so I didn’t upload anything. If you’re not familiar with Dribbble, anyone can create an account, but your posts and other functionality will be hidden from general view until you get invited to join the… normal users? It’s a weird system. In hindsight, waiting to upload oesn’t really make sense. If it takes so long, the sooner the better. Well, whatever.

I decided to upload my first image (as seen above), and then set up camp and sit by the fire until I got an invite from some kind soul. A few hours later, I got an invite from Galina Aviltseva which was a really nice surprise. Thanks, Galina!

Almost time for Inktober 2019

Well, it’s almost time for Inktober 2019, and despite my lack of enthusiasm at the end of last year’s, I’ve decided to engage in another round of stress and depression. As deftly observed by a bunch of musical artists who are mostly a mystery to me (yes, I’m old), I’m a sucker for pain (yes, I’m an idiot) (and yes, I liked Suicide Squad).

Mind you, I’ve decided to try and alleviate some of the former by doing some prep work for October, since the prompt list was released a while back, which allowed me to at least do some thumbnails and work out ideas. Last year, it was a last minute decision, so everything was done on the fly, more-or-less. I was happy with a few of the pieces, but they were mostly pretty mediocre to downright bad. One of the pieces I liked was for the prompt spell, but I thought I could do better, so I recently did a re-draw. Not sure if it’s better or not. Oh well.

Inktober 2018 - spell (version 2)
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