2016 Review

Year of Exploration.

I like to write about my year as an exercise in self review. If you can get past the humble braggy content of a post which reviews accomplishments, you may make it to the part where you can find what I've discovered.

I wanted this year to really be about exploration. I went to New York 3 times this year. Print Source, Surtex, and New York Comicon. I went to Vegas for a licensing show, was a panelist for an art fund in SF, and did Designer Con in Pasadena. New York(x3), Vegas, SF, Pasadena, San Diego, and Portland. Not all work related, Family vacations were in Vancouver BC (x2)  and Hawaii. Not only did I fly around to varying physical destinations, I crossed many industries, walking into spaces I didn't feel like I belonged in. Surface Design, Licensing, Collectors, & Public Art Funding.

I took on a range of new gigs:

Launched Enfusoft
Released new sets of iMessage stickers
Developed and brought to production a line of stickers.
Designed my first Prom / Graduation.  
Designing a restaurant.
Taking on a design of a mural.
Designed a few Apps.
Started to Twitch Stream


I bought a cargo van to help with cons. 
Signed a lease to finally create an office space dedicated to work. 
I upgraded my site to be cleaner and streamlined.

Lessons: thoughts gained from exploring:

Be prepared to feel like an outsider:
The full nature of exploring means you're in a place you've not been. So wrestling with being lonely and / or feeling like you don't belong can be difficult. The full swing of emotions that come with school playground social dynamics still apply to adults. When you see groups forming, and you feel sad you're not a part of those groups. At Print Source I felt like it was very female dominated industry. Coming from the sausage factory that is the Video Game Industry that was a good paradigm shift. 
Joy of discovering what I should've been doing all this time.
In the same week I felt dejected, I felt a real high and validation when a representative of a company outright said they should hire me. I felt like they 'got me'. I hadn't gleamed much validation from my peers, because not many were trying to do what I was doing. I found well intended advice not resonating as much to me. What exploration meant was to look beyond the village of my peers and seek outside advice. It doesn't mean not listening to your friends. It just means..get a second opinion...find a third opinion...dig for a fourth.
Patience in the long play.
This year I've helped kickstart a handful of collaborations that are still panning out and are in various stages of development. The more ambitious the project, the more partners there are, and the longer it takes. It can be frustrating when you feel like your passion isn't being matched. But I also realize its unreasonable to expect matches in priorities. 
Joy in the long play.
I'm still waiting on business deals from Comicon 2015 to come to light, and I'm just now working on some deals pitched at Emerald City Comicon 2016. I'm seeing many different returns on seeds I've planted years and months ago. People bought work months after a show ends, an email out of the blue from chance conversations on show floors, etc. When you finally start seeing the fruits of the long plays, they are very rewarding.
Invest and Divest.
This year I've met with friends to ask what they've learned. I'm specifically asking people what they're learning on their quests. Most are more than willing to share information, knowledge, contacts, and leads. Some though, are very tight lipped and guarded. Invest time into those that share, are team players, and are encouraging. Divest time from those who feel threatened enough to protect. Invest in team mates, divest from lone wolves.
Cheer lead.
This year was a great exercise in being supportive. As a father, that's one of my favorite roles. To pick up my daughter after a fall and hugging her. As a friend, I've had the opportunity to help those that were struggling on their quests. I found I really get a lot out of supporting people. I turn off the quick to judge why so serious version of me and switch to the listen and nod version of me. I would like to do better in keeping the words that leave my mouth be words of encouragement and filter out my words of criticism. This year was a good reminder for me to continue to try to improve on this.
Create in turmoil.
All this time up until now I've never had a dedicated office. Those who have visited my home know that I stand in the corner of my living room to draw. Also I continue to create when morale at work is at an all time low, or when I'm crunching at work and am running on fumes, when I don't feel like it, or am just in a crappy mood. If you find you can only produce when you're in ideal situations, I wish for you an effortless life path devoid of conflict, struggle, and challenges. Then you'll be able to produce to your liking. Otherwise learn to produce in less than ideal environments.
After you're done watching the Pros, watch the Amateurs.
The pros have made it, or at least they think they've made it. They are more sure of things and the way things are, in their field. Learn from the pros. They've come to great conclusions. THEN... also take some time to look at where the Amateurs are looking. Cause they're what's next. They're hungry. They're the ones generally trying newer things, or starting at the bottom rung of yet another genre or industry. They're the ones that haven't been told you can't do x and y, yet. And they're the ones still asking questions. 
Have you found yourself just dismissing my assertion? Let me re frame it then.
Do you have kids? Have you listened to your child say something to you so true and simple? It's similar to the advice of learning from children, or learning from watching someone use your App for the first time. Watch a noob do something, and not the heavy user. This sort of advice is paralleled in other industries, just worded differently. It's great to have many heroes and people to aspire to. Keep having them. But glance once in a while to those looking up too.


I explored, and found myself feeling a bit like an outsider. In return I found conviction to pursue my new goals with more intention. I've torn down old heroes and constructed new ones. It feels great. I'm ready for 2017.



Designer Con 2016

My first Designer Con was a blast! I reached a brand new audience and it felt like they got what I was selling without much explanation. My books sold out at 3pm the first day!

I visited Designer Con last year as an attendee after attending CTN. It was a very exploratory trip all around. Here are a few thoughts I had about DCon for those who were thinking of attending or boothing.

The people who come here are overwhelmingly seeking the B Side. Back when we used to buy cassette tapes the hits would all go on the A Side, and the alt stuff would be on the B Side. Fans appreciated even the B Side while the mainstream embraced the A Side. Now that may sound disingenuous to all boothing, but this is the location to come to discover, not to see what's already out there.  DCon is the collector's dream, and I saw people drop hundreds of dollars on products. Compared to Anime conventions, where kids find it hard to part with their allowance, this place was very adult, and very catered to specific niches across the board. Art I've never even seen before had long lines attached to them. Their booths were practically empty an hour later.

When I go to a convention, you can usually read the floor and tell by the majority of the artists there what genre they're catering their art to look like. So, Anime Conventions, Comic Conventions, and shows like CTN have you can see what the King of the Hill is and all minions point their swords to the top. But, at most of these cons, you'll see about 10% of artists show something refreshing and different. Those artists stop me in my tracks. Those artists get me to double take. What's great is THAT 10% for me is a different 10% for someone else...so lots of Artists can get noticed and appreciated by pockets of the public.

I found I had to explain very little to this crowd. These hunters are keen on finding what is was they didn't know they were looking for. 

So some things I learned at DCon:

1. Japanese Soft Vinyl is the hotness. The vinyl has a slightly soft feel, and the craftsmanship was exquisite. Kaiju and heroes hand painted with colorful gradients, patterns, and sometimes hollowed out with chunks of colorful vinyl bits inside. Those were the chasers. 

2. DCon is growing, and the expansion of the Halls felt much needed. I was in the new Hall C, not much traffic was visible in the first few hours, but then the rush came after people trickled through the other Halls. The lighting in Hall C wasn't as great so next time I'll bring some lighting fixtures. As it got dark outside the tall windows that fed in sunlight fed in darkness, and the chandeliers above cast spot lights not on my booth. I'll be better prepared next time. 

3. Lots of CTN people on Sunday. Just like what I did last year, I saw what I needed to see the first two days at CTN so I went to DCon. Sunday brought in the casual crowd, not the hardcore that would buy up everything day 1. 

4. Sales were good, actually. For my first time there, it will be a nice bar for me to try to beat next year. But I found what I was looking for, most of all, ...distribution. I am mainly looking for vendor partners and distribution channels. So I got to meet a few owners who were looking to stock their stores with unique products. Mostly what drew people to the booth was my wall of stickers

5. Prints didn't seem to sell well here. I sold a handful, but not my normal amount. People mostly went for the stickers/books/originals. I didn't see many people carrying tubes like at other cons either. Mostly carrying big boxes.

6. D Con is eclectic. All over the place. Some Kaiju Sofubi Japanese Vinyl, wood based sculptures, lots of lapel pins, some plush, lots of custom figures, a large variety of soft line products, gig poster like screens, ...it is somewhat confusing. In other conventions these many of these exhibitors would be kind of fringe outsiders, but here, it seems they found their home.

So in summary, if you'd like to experience what it is like to chase something, come to D Con, the Collector's paradise. 



SDCC 2016 Recap

Wow I've been neglecting the blog portion of this website for quite some time! Well it's time for a Comicon Recap, last year I wrote my postmortem and added to the lessons I've learned so ya'll can learn from them. If you're like, "just show me the pictures already", then here you go, here is a link to the full album.

The build up of this year so far from tabling at Sakuracon, Emerald City Comicon, and JAMAF, was to bring my new ENFU STICKER LINE to market. I enjoy AB testing these at conventions. Here are the lessons I've learned from my observations...after the jump.

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I co-created a tool called Enfusoft, which helps Designer build complex graphical patterns quickly.

How do I make all these complex all over tiling patterns? Easily, with Enfusoft.

You can now buy it, for a limited time at half off at the Early Bird price!

ENFUSOFT Beta now live.

Ever wonder how I make all these crazy pattern so quickly? Making these manually in Photoshop is insanely time consuming, but Enfusoft, the complex pattern making tool I co-created, helps you do just that really quickly! I believe this tool will save many production artists a lot of time. You can create patterns, complex brushes, subtle noise pattern textures, marketing materials, and the list goes on!

I just released the Beta [Windows only] for anybody to try [download the setup here] and give me feedback via this survey. To prep you you could watch a few tutorial videos I've made.

 Subscribe to the Enfu Mailing list to get more info on release dates and early bird special discount prices!

Enfu Patreon

I started a Patreon, which will show patrons a bunch of time lapse videos of my drawing process like the one below. If you'd like to support me and have super early access to my illustrations before they become products, or to watch all the videos way before they become public, then you can support my Patreon here. You will also have early access to my dev diary which will blog more about the secret projects I have brewing. Thank you always for your support!


Enfu Documentary First for Ethnic Experience at NATOA Awards

The Seattle Channel's Community Stories piece on ENFU won first for Ethnic Experience at NATOA (The National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors) Awards,  which I'm told is the Emmy's of Government Television. ENFU is category 16. So that's nice, I've never had this kind of experience nor exposure before for simply sharing what I do. I'm honored and thankful the Seattle Channel even found my story worthy to be told. Thank you everybody working at the Seattle Channel and especially Ian Devier who tirelessely recorded my daily grind. 

ENFU from Ian Devier on Vimeo.

Enfu Soft-Qube Plushies

We had been working on a few different plush concepts over the past 2 years.

Like most enfu products, we use the cons as a great way to market test the products. At Sakuracon and Emerald City Comicon this year we had an earlier prototype for sale with the plush in a range of colors, and their anatomy had not been finalized, nor the differentiation been fully finished. After many many iterations, the silhouette of each animal we feel is different enough, and we also felt that white offered more needed contrast. In the end the stark contrast between 80% blank simplified shapes and spaces to 20% colorful and busy patterns offered just the right amount of visual interest. 

I'm in the process of trying to come up with good names for this series, if you feel like you have good suggestions comment here. These plush will be debuting at San Diego Comicon this year at Booth 1729! More info coming soon!

Enfu Arsenal

I started out in the video game industry actually modelling guns and props over 13 years ago. My curiosity lead me to explore many types of positions in many ranges of capacity and influence. My mantra of "Make Many Things" still rings true and applies to me today. My most recent exploration brings me full circle to submitting the whole arsenal of gun skins for CS GO. I absolutely loved loved loved making these! This did not feel like work at all. If you happen to be a fan of my art and that of Valve and CSGO, please vote for "The Enfu Arsenal" collection. There is a vast sense of fulfillment and accomplishment in this full set of 32 gun skins, even if not one gets voted in game. The job itself is truly its reward!  Enjoy!


As usual, I love to use Cons to gauge interest and to A/B test new products. At Emerald City Comicon and Sakuracon we found that listening to the feedback, people wanted shirts! So finally we made 3 shirts. They are currently being picked up by local distributors in the Seattle area. But, if you're not from Seattle, many of you now buy our shirts on our ETSY site! We currently make them in small batches, so be quick to get them while they last!



If you're a LINE user, you now can get THREE different Enfu sticker packs! 40 stickers a pack. Enjoy!

Sakuracon 2015

Thanks for making Sakuracon 2015 one for the record books. I enjoyed meeting every one of you who came by. We will also be here again next year!

By the 3rd day my book stock was super low, and we sold out! I really should've brought more, since many of you came back and weren't able to get one. I apologize for not being fully prepared!

I got to meet someone I admire: Sakimichan. She was super awesome, we got a picture together and she mentioned she liked my hat, so I just gave it to her. I'm happy our Enfu Snaps hats had so much appeal to many at Sakuracon, including Artists like Sakimichan! Thank you, you made my day.



Seattle Channel Documentary

Filmed over a span of a year, this revealing documentary uncovers a bit more of what makes me tick. I hope you enjoy it. Thanks to Ian Devier and the whole Seattle Channel crew for the patience and persistence of creating the whole documentary! Thank you friends for sharing the video around.

ECCC2015 Wrap Up

ECCC Islanders! We quested, conquered, picked up all the loot, gained a bunch of EXP. Thank you all of the patrons that supported us with words of praise and/or with green scrolls with numbers on them. Most of us foolishly chose this path because we discovered some rare form of magic where we would imbue items with some scratches and it somehow increases in value. The Seattle Channel started shooting a min documentary of Enfu and shots from last year's footage of us setting up can be seen. Pictured below are my friends who we all shared our booth Island with. Crayon Monsters, Rooster Monkey, Frank Capezzuto III, Isaac Hannaford, Ryan Lee, Nick Southam, Akio Segawa, Shiek Wang & Wendi Chen. If you're thinking of getting a booth at a convention, here I've compiled a bunch of tips from my 9 years of doing booths.

If you'd just like to view the full flickr album you can go here. Otherwise more pics after the jump.

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