Traveling San Francisco in the Razor Rover

posted in: Blog, Razor Rover | 0

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I finally visited San Francisco a few weeks ago. It was a pretty big deal because this was the first time I got to see a palm tree within its natural habitat.

Oh, yeah, and, this is the farthest I’ve ever traveled alone, to a place I haven’t been to, but have been dreaming of visiting for years.

I wanted to do a fun art project for this trip and was inspired by Land Rover. The little car I’m sitting in is the Razor Rover. It’s very lightweight. And no, I didn’t drive all the way to San Francisco from Chicago in it. Because that would’ve been crazy. I flew in on Virgin Airlines, and they are awesome because they let me take Razor Rover in my carry-on.

Oh, yeah, and, because they sing and dance in their airplane safety video and give you free tomato juice.


Before my trip, I designed Razor Rover, built it out of watercolor paper, and drew the details in with ink markers. Then I took the photos with the help of my iPhone, a fisheye phone-camera lens (thanks, Land Rover!), Joby GripTight Mount, and a bluetooth remote.


For my 29th birthday, I strolled through the Golden Gate Bridge. I spent  about 4 hours in the area. (One of those hours was spent charging my phone.) It was so windy that I didn’t think I’d be able to get a Razor Rover photo. Thankfully, one of the employees at the gift shop was able to give me a couple strips of tape to secure the Razor Rover to keep me from flying away in it.

There were a lot of people at the bridge that day and I got some weird looks while I was driving Razor Rover. I thought maybe it’s because they wanted a ride. So, I offered. But then they said stuff like, “Uh, that’s okay. Good luck!”



At Pier 39, a few people did enjoy Razor Rover. Because it’s such a smooth ride, this guy didn’t even realize he was driving it!


Here’s me in the Razor Rover, attempting to go where no car has gone before: UPHILL the squiggliest street – Lombard Street.


When I got to the top, I parked Razor Rover to the side and enjoyed the view from Russian Hill.

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During my first Razor Rover trip, this was the first time I stayed in a hostel, too. The Green Tortoise Hostel SF hallways have this amazing, colorful carpet. During my week-long stay there, I got to meet people from lots of different countries, including England, Australia, Germany, and Italy. Some of them were just enjoying traveling, some were backpacking countries and working temporary jobs, and some were visiting San Francisco for conferences.


I also met Mia, a glassblower from Finland, because she was staying in the same dorm as me. Here, she is testing out Razor Rover’s cruise control. Look, no hands!

It was her idea was that we should catch the sunset at Ocean Beach.


Mission accomplished!

The Razor Rover trip photos were improvised on-location, and I live-tweeted and live-Instagrammed (it was very-instant, okay?) most of the trip. There will be more Razor Rover adventures in the future, and you’ll be able to see the live updates by following the #RazorRover hashtag from my Twitter & Instagram.

The 9 Secret Steps To Drawing The “Kooky” Illustration

posted in: Art Process, Blog, How To | 0

I documented my work process from start to finish for my illustration “Kooky”. This was drawn for an illustrarticle called “The #1 Secret Ingredient For Baking Delicious Cookies

"Kooky" - Buy Print
“Kooky” – Buy Print

Step 1
Before starting the illustration, I wrote the story “The #1 Secret Ingredient For Baking Delicious Cookies“. These are my initial notes in my tiny moleskine sketchbook that goes everywhere I go. After these notes, I write the complete story on my laptop. Then I edit, edit, edit.

Step 2
I sketched some thumbnails of what the illustration might look like. Since the #1 Secret Ingredient is amazing, the illustration had to be, too. So I chose the last thumbnail and added circles that would later be painted as a bokeh background. Bokeh is a photography term. I love photography and it’s in my background. So naturally, it influences my illustration work.

Step 3
The thumbnail was then redrawn with more detail, on a larger piece of plain paper. This is the sheet that is sandwiched between my lightbox and a sheet of watercolor paper. I turn on the lightbox and start to lightly trace the main lines on the watercolor paper, with watercolor. It’s all freehand-permanent-no-going-back from here so it has to be perfect. I’ve had to redraw and repaint entire illustrations before, if they didn’t turn out like I’d imagined.

Step 4
And when I started working on the final piece, I started thinking of even more ideas to play with. No more lightbox from this step, forward. So, then this goat made an appearance. And a car. The planet Saturn. A shoe. You know, all those things you’d normally find in a delicious cookie.

Step 5
Color! Here, started to color the smoke/steam and the new cookie ingredients. I usually do a few color tests on separate sheets of paper to determine which colors will work with the illustration.

Step 6
Here, I inked the hand and the cookie. And after I painted the background and some bokeh, I decided that the smoke/steam needs to be toned down. Since the story is not “The #1 Secret Ingredient For Making Amazing Smoke,” I painted over most of it.

Step 7
Then, I painted the steam/smoke with a few highlights using acrylic. Now the focus is more on the cookie/bokeh/awesomeness instead of the smoke.

Step 8
Illustration is complete! Yes, total completion deserves its own step. You can see the color layers I added to the smoke, through which some bokeh can still be seen.

Step 9
I was just kidding about total completion. This work process isn’t complete without this step: Put your Kooky where your mouth is!

The story is not far from how I bake cookies… I don’t usually attempt cooking fancy stuff, and stay in the pre-mixed items safe zone. So, one of the recipes I like to do is from the back of Betty Crocker’s Sugar Cookie Mix.

You could use another brand, I guess. But I’ve only tried Betty Crocker’s. I thought it would be good to add white chocolate chips and dried cranberries into the dry mix because I’m adventurous like that. Add 1 cup of each of those, and then add the 1 egg and 1 stick of softened butter that that sugar cookie mix asks for. Mix everything together to make the batter.

Then, after I bake the cookies like a crazy person, I let them cool for a just a couple minutes. Stick them into a ziplock bag or airtight container right after that, so that the steam stops escaping the cookies. That keeps the cookies soft.

I’ve made these White Chocolate & Cranberry kookies for my friends and coworkers a couple times, and they keep asking for more because “these cookies taste like cheesecake.” Since I don’t want to quit illustration to become a cookie-mix baker, I’ve written my recipe here because with practice, anyone can make these into their own recipe.

Now go out there and make some of your own kookies, you daredevil, you 8)

Hey Creatives: We Need You, So Throw More Paper Airplanes

posted in: Blog | 0

Like I was telling my friend Katie Waters, a foley artist and sound engineer, sometimes it feels like I’m throwing paper airplanes into the abyss.

I’m so thankful for all the private commissions I’ve gotten the chance to create for such great people. And I’m thankful for my part-time job at the printing center because I’ve learned a lot there. Meanwhile, I’m still looking to create commercial and editorial work. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ So I keep throwing my portfolio, resume, and post cards out there.

I was being a downer one day and said that people buy art as a luxury. Katie corrected me by adding that art is an escape. And she’s right. I like to escape and enhance my life with art all the time, through music, movies, books, stuff on the internet. When you work in a creative field, you have the ability to create an escape and enhance the lives of people.


In my other post I mentioned that it’s been a rough few weeks. Not to mention the freezing, nearly sunless Chicago weather. During times like these, I try to plow through it all with what I can only describe as, ignorant optimism: I keep saying that the weather is beautiful!

Getting featured by Design Juices and Land Rover, among other things, was awesome. Of course, it’s a nice feeling to be noticed and appreciated for something you love to do. It’s like being rescued from an island.

“Fool’s Gold” – Print

So, I guess you just gotta keep making and throwing those paper airplanes. For years. Eventually, they’ll land in the hands of the right people.

(Or maybe I should have said, “message in a bottle” instead of “paper airplanes” because that would have made more sense about the island rescue thing… ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ )