Wednesday, December 27, 2017

A Delightfully Dogecoin-y Day

Christmas lunches with family are the best barometer for figuring out whether or not something has hit the mainstream. Bitcoin breached that barrier this year as our table slowly exhausted time-tested topics like the weather, noche buena food, and the days old chocolate cake that the host was flogging on us to avoid spoilage.  Given that everyone and their titos and titas are now talking about bitcoin and other cryptos, I won't bore you with any of my thoughts on the matter since I'm hardly a subject matter expert anyway.

What I do want to share with you is a delightful cryptocurrency (henceforth called "crypto" to save my fingers) I rediscovered called dogecoin.  I'd been reading about the proliferation of ICOs and given how it was supposed to be technically easy (I wouldn't know, since I don't code) I toyed with the idea of making a crypto for my company Squeaky Wheel as a bit of fun.  To see if anyone else had done something similar I did a google search for "ridiculous or funny cryptocurrencies.  Turns out Dogecoin had beat us to it. I faintly remember hearing about dogecoin and saw it as a silly little joke, but after leearning more, I'm convinced it was a stroke of accidental genius.

Bitcoin and other crypto advocates can be pretty cult-y once they've been converted.  Filled with the Spirit of Satoshi, they go forth and utter screeds against the evils of fiat currency and inflation, lamenting the control of big banks and government over our lives.  It's not that they're (entirely) wrong, its just that the self-seriousness and revolutionary fervor they projected often triggered involuntary eye-rolls on my part.  Dogecoin was the perfect counterpoint, injecting some humor and levity into the crypto community at large.

A hardcore community grew up rapidly around Dogecoin and took it very seriously, but in the most delightful of ways.  They call themselves shibes in honor of the original shiba inu that sparked the doge meme.  What's even more incredible is they seem to have figured out a way to grow and be open to new members without the toxicity that eventually overwhelms even the most well-intentioned communities. What exactly have the shibes been up to?

They raised money to send a Jamaican bobsled team to the Sochi Olympics.  They built a well in Kenya with Charity : Water.  Currently they are buying socks for the homeless and milk for underprivileged people in Brazil. Of course they don't just restrict themselves to noble pursuits.  People organize fun competitions like this one to celebrate 2018 as "The Year of the Doge".   The first rule of the competition states, "Create a fun video about Dogecoin. It doesn’t need to make a lot of sense or be professional, it just needs to be FUN. Example:"

I decided I wanted to be a shibe and after doing some research on the dogecoin subreddit, I opted to help out the folks at by joining their folding at home team.  Donating spare computer cycles for medical research to earn Dogecoin that I might be able to use for charitable causes seems like the perfect virtuous cycle.

Like many others I've also invested a small portion of my money in the hopes that their value continues to rise. There's no doubt that the blockchain and cryptocurrencies are technologies that will change society in ways we do not yet understand.  But perhaps the best thing to come out of the world of crypto so far is that different kinds of cryptocurrencies can coexist with each other, and you can eventually pick and choose the crypto (and by default the community) that suits your personality.  Economist and author Bernard Lietaer once wrote that "For any “thing” to act as money, it requires a community to agree that a particular object has a certain value in an exchange."  So what's the value of Dogecoin? Much joke. Many Funs. Such Charitable. Wow.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

My Urban Sketching Equipment

I've been experimenting with a different process lately with my Urban Sketching, and since the results have received a lot of praise (thanks!) and questions on medium and equipment I use I figured I would make a blog post about it.  Above is the sample of one of my recent sketches while in Intramuros.  I found a nice, shady spot on the wall with a good view of Manila City Hall as well as a food stall on the road below.


Here is a photo of the materials I used for these sketches.  Yup, that's it.  Four pens and a sketchbook.  Usually I only have just the one pen and a sketchbook, and sometimes a small pack of grayscale brushpens.  Why so little?  This has a lot to do with my own personal philosophy of Urban Sketching.  I like to observe things and present them in as unvarnished a way as possible, especially people.  People react in all sorts of ways when they know they're being observed, so when I sketch I try to be as invisible as possible, and having less materials makes that a whole lot easier.  Of course this method has its drawbacks, but I'll save that for another post.  For now, I'll go over each item one by one and show you where you can get them.  Unfortunately most of them are only available on Amazon or in Japan, but hopefully that will change.

Metal Pencil Case

Actually, I'm not sure where I got this pencil case and how much it cost.  It might have been in one of those "container" stores like Beabi or Lock and Lock where they have containers for everything.  In fact I think this may have originally belonged to my wife, who likes buying containers for everything.  If you find one it should probably cost you less than 100 pesos.  It's simple, sleek, and carries my pens.  The Urban Sketchers Philippines sticker was given to me by the current leader of USK Philippines, Lauren Villarama.

Zebra Brush Pen

After trying numerous felt brush pens in the settled on the Zebra brush pen as my favorite (I forget the reasons why, to be honest).  I like brush pens because they give your drawings a sense of weight without even trying, something that regular technical pens and ballpens do not.  You get that sense of line weight using Nib pens as well, but for sheer convenience these brush pens can't be beat.  They rn out of ink in a few months, depending on use.  I usually ask relatives coming from the US to bring me a bunch, or I buy them in bulk when I go to Japan.  Amazon lists this as the Zebra WF1 Scientific Brush (Small Size) and Jetpens list them as Zebra Disposable Brush Pen Fine.  Zebra's brush pens are color coded so always make sure to get the gray one, not the black (medium) or blue (extra fine).  Zebra actually has a retail presence in the Philippines so maybe one day we'll see these in national bookstore.

Koi Coloring Brush Pen

Koi Coloring Brush Pens, made by Sakura, are surprisingly hard to find even in Japan.  I found these on Amazon and the first set I bought was actually a grayscale set that I really liked.  I then bought the 12-piece colored set and was disappointed because the colors were too rich and bright for my taste ( I think they were originally made for coloring manga).  On Kraft paper (the brown paper my sketchbook uses) it dampens some of that color and makes it more tolerable for me.  I originally fell in love with these pens because they don't bleed through the pages in the same way most markers do.  I use these to color and shade my line art to give them more volume.

Sakura sells 24-piece and 48-piece sets as well, but they get pretty expensive and I was worried that I wouldn't get the colors I like.  I actually found a store in Bangkok that sells individual colors, but I felt too pressured to buy anything.  Hopefully this is something Sakura Philippines will bring here soon.    

Uni-Ball Signo White Gel Ink Pen

This one you can actually buy in National Bookstore.  The Uni-Ball Signo White Gel Ink Pen costs around 96 Pesos.  Don't expect your local NBS clerk or saleslady to recognize the name immediately though, and bring a picture just in case.  This is one of my most recent purchases, and I bought it specifically to experiment in using it with my new Sketchbook.  It seems to be very popular among comic book artists.

Pentel Felt Tip Sign Pen

This is another one of those pens that I discovered in Japan.  I bought it because it was similar to the Zebra Pen with its felt tip, except colored.  I bought a single brown and grey pen while in Japan, but I recently purchased a set of 12 on Amazon, which I'm very excited to play around with.  As with Sakura, Pentel has a retail presence here, so it's not impossible that they will bring these over someday, perhaps USK Philippines can push for that.

Languo Metal Case Sketchbook

This sketchbook can actually be found in National Book Store, although I cannot say if it's available in all branches.  I found mine buried in the Megamall Branch along with a few others.  Oddly, they seem to all be flag themed.  Mine seems to carry the French flag, while the rest of the sketchbooks I saw bore the Chinese flag (Languo seems to be a Chinese company).  The  most curious thing about these sketchbooks is that they are divided into three sections : Kraft paper, dotted graph paper, and Kraft paper again.  I've never seen sketchbooks like these before.  The thing I liked most about them was that both the Kraft paper and the graph paper were able to hold my Zebra brush pen strokes without bleeding through to the other side of the page.  This "metal" version costs only 215 pesos while there is another square shaped paperback version that costs 146 Pesos (with similar paper divisions).  If the NBS clerks don't seem to  know what you're talking about, just dig around in the sketchbook and notebook sections of your local NBS and you might get lucky.


I hope you guys found this post useful, and have fun experimenting with these materials.  If you have any questions I'd be happy to answer them in the comments!

For more information on Urban Sketchers Philippines and how to join our sketchwalks, check out our blog!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Free worldwide shipping and $5 off every art print!

I quietly put up some prints on Society6 last year in an effort to make some passive income from my urban sketching.  I figured this would be a neat way to subsidize our travel costs.  Unfortunately it takes a lot of marketing to actually make any real money off art prints, and since I didn't have time to spare I kind of just let my page languish.  Even then I've had a couple of sales here and there so it wasn't a total loss.  Since Society6 gave me this promotional code I figured it was high time to update the page with some fresh new sketches.

The sketches above are from our recent trip to Nagoya.  You can these sketches and more by checking out my Society6 page.  Please make sure to click THIS LINK to get free worldwide shipping and $5 off every item until December 14!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Rocket Race has a Kickstarter!

A few months ago I posted about a steampunk card game that I created some art for.  That game was called Rocket Race, and Tripleace games is now ready to ramp up production of the game with a Kickstarter!  I'm thrilled to be involved in such a neat project, and those special edition boxes of Rocket race are looking mighty tempting!  The image above was used for marketing purposes as well as serving as the cover art for the regular edition of the game as well as the rulebook.  If steampunk or cardgames are your think please do support the Rocket Race Kickstarter!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Hey, Party Animals pt2

It's been brought to my attention that one of my #screenshotsaturday posts was picked up by Indiestatik, and they seemed very taken with Party Animals.  Which is great, except oddly enough they posted to my personal blog instead of the devlog.  They did have some very nice words about my other artwork, so I'm not miffed or anything, but anyone who was interested in actually finding out more about Party Animals might feel mislead.  To rectify that and to show off some of the art that's on the devlog, I figured I'd write a new post here.

Party Animals

These are the titular Party Animals, who you will interact with and possibly recruit during your political campaign.

Ka Eldereta is a tribal chieftain that represents the interests of the original inhabitants of Summer Island.  His name is a pun on "Caldereta", which is a tomato based stew normally made with goat meat.

Boo Tee Kee is a businesswoman that represents the interests of the merchant class.  Her name is also a pun, in that "Butiki" means lizard in Filipino.  The spelling Boo Tee Kee is the Sinicized form, which I did because the Chinese are the primary merchant class in many Southeast Asian countries, including the Philippines.  I'm obviously a sucker for word play.

Summer Island

I recently gave our world map a more board-game or pop-up type look, which I think works very well.

My idea was when you zoom into a district, the special buildings in that district will have cute little animations like the bell in this cathedral...

...or this fish trying desperately to escape its farm.

Comic Strips

I also tried making one panel comic strips for the blogs that don't naturally have images to go with them, like this one for Julius' series on winning local elections...

...and this one for my pained attempt at profundity in figuring out game mechanics.

Anyway if you've been intrigued by any of this then please do hop on over to the Party Animals devlog to find out more!