It’s been a long day of inking and coloring. So please let me know which one is your favorite! Initial I made the blue one then the brown and finally the red.

Oh and this is my piece for Light Grey Art Lab’s “To Be You exhibition”. The piece is a bit of a self portrait, and I am always thinking about how much time and what my fate is and my path in this amazing creative world.

I have lily of the valley through out the piece because they are my mom’s favorite. Also lost of ferns and a fallen tree because I spent so much time in the woods building trails with my dad. Clock gears to represent the machine like quality that makes me feel a little less human, but they also represent my diving into art nouveau through steampunk (never forget your roots!) The scissors are there to help me cut away the threads of fate that are not my true path. The clock weights are the pressure I put on myself to achieve all my goals. and of course two bells at the bottom of the belt because I love Naruto and the strong characters and years of dedication Masashi Kishimoto put into his craft. 


So I was chatting with the lovely Justin Oaksford yesterday, and he casually asked if I used photo reference for my recent Rolemodels piece- not as a bad thing, but because the pose and the camera angle read well.  Pretty sure I grinned like an idiot when he brought it up because, goddammit, I’m proud that the work shows!  I’ve felt like my work has been somewhat stilted as of late- I could feel myself subconsciously trending towards easier angles, easier poses, easier expressions just because it's slightly less frustrating for my brain to process- so getting that confirmation from a colleague was pretty damn satisfying.

I think there’s a tendency for artists to take pride in being able to draw out of your head, and, while that’s an admittedly important skill, what’s actually important is what that skill implies- it implies that you’ve internalized reference.  That you’ve spent so much time looking at the world around you, studying it, drawing from it, breaking it down, that you’ve amassed an extensive mental library that you can draw from.  You are Google reborn in the shallow husk of a human being.

But heck, the world’s a big place- what are the chances that you ever get to a point that you’ve internalized all of it?  Internalized it AND ALSO are never going to forget it ever?  Probably no chance at all.  Sorry buddy.  So rather than bemoaning the fact that we don’t have impenetrable search engine cyborg brains- yet- you sure as hell better still be using reference to fill in/refresh those empty shelves in your mental library.  You shouldn’t have worm-ridden books about dinosaur anatomy from the 60’s in there.  Stegosauruses with brains in their tails?  CLEAN THAT SHIT OUT.

So my general process for using reference of any sort is:

  1. loose thumbnails and brainstorming.  If you have an idea, get that raw thing- unadulterated in it’s potential shittiness- onto paper.  Good art is a combination of both instinct and discipline, so you don’t want to entirely discount those lightning strikes of brilliance.  Or idiocy.  Happens to all of us.
  2. research and reference.  Start gathering and internalizing whatever reference is pertinent to your piece- could be diagrams, art, photos, good old-fashioned READIN’, whathaveyou.  Please note that this doesn’t mean find one picture of a giraffe- this means find tons of photos of giraffes, read about giraffes, understand giraffes, and learn how to incorporate that knowledge into your art with purpose and intent (Justin uses the word “intent” a lot so I’m stealing it).  Don’t blindly copy what you see, but understand how to integrate it in an interesting and informed manner.
  3. studies and practice.  Could be lumped in with the previous step, granted, but it’s worth reiterating- if you’re drawing something new, it’s worth doing some studies.  You discover things that you wouldn’t otherwise by just staring at them.  It’s weird how I’m still learning this- “Gee golly, six-shooters are way easier to draw now that I’ve drawn a ton of them!” Yes wow Claire BRILLIANT.  Gold star.
  4. go for the gold.  Finally, I’m sure it goes without saying, you integrate all of that research and knowledge into your initial thumbnails.  If you learned something about anatomy, or fashion, or color, or butts, now you can drastically improve your original idea with this newfound knowledge.  Also, per the images above, this is also your chance to improve on the reference- photos are a fantastic tool, but trust your instincts.  Cameras can’t make informed decisions.

…So that’s my soapbox- it’s pretty easy, and it’s totally worth it.  Research and reference lets you stand on the shoulders of giants- it lends legitimacy, specificity, and allure to your work that wouldn’t be there if you were just drawing out of your head 100% of the time.  To put it simply- it makes your work ownable.  It makes you stand out.

It makes you a better artist. :)


79) NearSusan Bibinski

The mermaid watches me, waiting almost patiently as I wade through the river to get closer to her. Somehow I know that if I catch her, she’ll grant me a single wish for anything I desire. Just when I can almost reach out to her she disappears under the surface, and in almost a blink of an eye darts away downstream, where she resurfaces, holding my gaze as if she had never moved. Again, when I get too close to her, she retreats. This continues awhile longer until I realize I’ll never get my wish.


Enjoy your Saturday night, folks!



Somebody…please…I need some kind of program that stops me from accessing any online shopping after midnight. My self control just disappears at that time and I just buy and buy and buy.

But then again I can’t be too upset because I got these sweet new tarot cards.

I had never heard of the Light Grey tarot before and I can’t think why because they’re so cool, I would have thought that lots of people would want them for their own collections. 

This deck is independently published and comes from the people at the Light Grey Art Lab as part of their “Tarot, Mystics and Occult” Exhibition. It brings together 78 different artists, one for each card.

I think it’s such a neat idea having a different artist design each card. In some of my other decks you sometimes get the feeling that the artist had much more passion for some cards than others. Not criticising at all, designing 78 cards is a gargantuan task, but especially in the pip cards you get the impression that the artist lent more of their energy to particular cards. In this deck each card feels so complete and fully realised. 

Despite coming from 78 different creative places, the deck doesn’t feel mismatched at all. I don’t know if they adjusted the tone of each card (is that even the right term) or what, but the cards don’t clash with each other even though they differ greatly in colour and style. 

Some cards have astronauts exploring alien worlds, some have Victorian ladies taking tea in their parlours, some are bizarre and fantastical, some depict everyday scenes. It’s by far the most interesting deck I own. 

I love, love, love it and I wholeheartedly recommend this deck! 


  1. Tell me about yourself. What is your most important characteristic?   Page of Pentacles
  2. What are your strengths as a deck?                                                             Ace of Cups
  3. What are your limits as a deck?                                                       Knight of Pentacles
  4. What are you here to teach me?                                                         Eight of Swords
  5. How can I best learn and collaborate with you?                               Queen of Cups
  6. What is the potential outcome of our working relationship?                   The Sun
  7. What is the one thing you’d like to ask me?                                         Ace of Swords

Getting to know my new decks with this interview spread! I’m not particularly surprised by these results, I’ve had this deck for a week or so and I’m pretty strongly connected to it and already felt some of these attributes. I’m still going to think on these cards for a while, there’s a lot to take in.