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Batman Day – the dark knight of Gotham

23 July 2014

Barely in time for Batman Day! July 23 marks the 75th anniversary of our favorite superhero dark knight. Life has been very busy so I’m sorry for not writing much, but I had to post this picture from my backlog in time for this special day of the Bat.

Batman: The Animated Series was my introduction to Batman and superheroes as a whole, and I’ve never looked back since. Till this day, that is still my dearest animation of all time, and Batman has a special place in my fandom heart.

Originally, I only planned to test out some new Chinese brush painting brushes I made, and satisfied with the results, I decided to turn my simple sketch into a full-blown Batman fanart! I bulked him up a ton to make him look more like Bruce Wayne and added the iconic cowl. The rest of the image just effortlessly unfolded in my mind as I painted this piece. The only surprising thing is that it took me this long to make a Batman fanart!

Thank you for the great response — I’m glad people like this picture, and have a great Batman Day everyone.

Categories: art, digital art, fanart, for sale
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Fanime 2014 con report

3 June 2014

So I’m back from Fanime 2014, having once again learned very much from this experience. I’m pleased to say that on the whole this year was significantly better than last year, although not without some serious issues, and I look forward to more improvements in upcoming years!

Last year was the Great Disaster of 2013 — Artist Alley registration opened super late, registration lines took forever, and most importantly, Artist Alley was moved to a godforsaken middle-of-nowhere giant blue tent structure that was way too deep (artists in the back half of the structure got utterly owned), had next to no foot traffic due to its obscure and unadvertised location, and damaged countless artists’ goods with strong winds and grimy black dust. It’s not a very high standard to beat.

I’ll start with the good — the biggest issues with last year’s Artist Alley were addressed by moving us back into the main convention center. This year, we were in the Grand Ballroom, a new room built in the recent renovation. The artist alley’s size was cut down a bit to fit, but I think the room was a good choice. It was the perfect size, in addition to the obvious pros of being in a central location and having brand new, clean facilities. Any larger and attendees would have a hard time browsing all of the Artist Alley. While I’ve heard complaints about the crowdedness, I thought it was a cozy level of foot traffic. Then again, I was on a corner by the exit, so it might have seemed like there was more space from my vantage point.

It was nice how artists picked up their badges at Artist Alley check-in this year, instead of doing the regular badge pick-up first and then a second check-in line. I appreciated the extra Day 0 time, but it did cause issues on Friday. The infamous Line Con from Day 0 was nonexistent this year, but instead hit Artist Alley check-in (and Swap Meet, from what I heard). Artists lined up the length of the convention center and wrapped around the other side of the concourse. The line didn’t even start moving until well past the stated “set-up time,” at least half an hour late. When it did, it moved slowly. While the process itself was pretty smooth, this took up too much precious set-up time. I got in relatively early and still didn’t finish setting up before doors opened to the public, and some artists weren’t even able to get in until AFTER doors opened. That is utterly inexcusable.

I would have loved to see the same badge/check-in line and set-up time happen on Day 0. Holding the line at the Artist Alley room itself would avoid burdening the main registration lines, plus you don’t have to worry about clogging up the concourse or setting up late on Friday, when all the attendees arrive en masse.

Unfortunately, the late set-up time didn’t only extend to Artist Alley. This year, I also signed up for the Art Gallery for the first time, but its set-up hours were delayed from 7 am to 10 am, which coincided with Artist Alley check-in. After already spending most of that set-up time fretting in line, I quickly snatched up my artworks and rushed to the hall where Art Gallery was supposed to be, only to find it closed, locked, and without any person or sign indicating where artists who need to set up are supposed to go. At this time, it was already 12:40 pm. The doors to the Art Gallery and Artist Alley were going to open to public in a little over an hour, and I still needed to go back and set up my Artist Alley table.

Panicked, I rushed to the nearest info desk, whose staff were utterly clueless about Art Gallery and told me to ask con ops. Unfortunately, they pointed me in the wrong direction. After rushing down the entire length of the concourse, I asked another department’s staff and discovered that con ops was on the other end of the giant hallway. Incensed, I doubled back. I was absolutely fed up and asked a roaming info desk on the way for Art Gallery set-up information, and he radioed headquarters to ask. After waiting for around five minutes, the best he could tell me was to go to the neighboring exhibit hall and ask if anyone knew better.

Oh really. Fanime runs an Art Gallery every year, and not even info desk headquarters knows where to send artists participating in the show?

A few more clueless staff later, I finally found someone who said she might have seen the Art Gallery and offered to take me there. This is where the worst part happens.

Yes, it was indeed Art Gallery. They originally said they would be ready for set-up at 7 am, but then emailed us the night before pushing it back to 10 am. It was now 1 pm. Doors would be open to public in one hour, and we artists were either still stuck in the artist check-in line and/or needed to set up our tables too.

The lady told me they weren’t ready for us to hang our artworks up yet and told me to come back later.

Later? Later, Artist Alley would be open, I’d be scrambling to set everything up with customers milling by, and I’d be unable to leave my table anymore. It was 1 pm and the people in charge of Art Gallery had only just started putting up the walls on which we were supposed to hang our artworks!

I regretfully was not able to participate in Art Gallery due to this mess, despite having meticulously planned and prepared everything on my end. I’d have loved to display my artworks, on which I spent countless hours of precious preparation time, but I was never able to because something that was supposed to be ready 7 hours before opening time was still not ready ONE hour before opening time. The Art Gallery lady even acknowledged that we all have Artist Alley tables to attend to, yet obviously didn’t accommodate for that at all. What kind of convention creates this Catch 22 for their artists?! Even worse, I don’t think I’ll be able to get a refund for the money I paid to have a spot in the gallery.

And if you thought that was bad enough, I’m not even done. Registration was smooth, but WAY too late. We never thought it would be possible, but Artist Alley registration actually happened even later than last year. The problem was compounded by not having an artist agreement to read and sign until just a short while before the actual convention (and well after we were forced to do the Artist Alley application first, without knowing what the contract would say). The excuse? The lawyers were still looking at the contract.

Guys. Fanime has been around for 20 years. It’s always on the same date. The policies of the Artist Alley haven’t changed from last year. While lawyers definitely take a long time, there was absolutely NO reason for them to still be looking at the contract two weeks before the convention.

Also, while we got table numbers around the same time as last year (ONE week before the con), they were utterly meaningless because there was no seating map. Staff decided that it was more important to create some difficult-to-use, “high tech” map TWO DAYS BEFORE THE CONVENTION (and never announced or publicized it anyways, so no one even knew it existed) than to simply release the picture of the room with the tables numbered, which everyone would have preferred. Seriously? I honestly question Fanime staff. This lateness and poor judgment is beyond any excuse.

Luckily, once I swallowed the bitter truth that I would not participate in Art Gallery this year and that I wasn’t going to finish setting up before doors opened to the public, the rest of the convention went very well. I was always kept busy, and I’m super happy that people enjoy my work! I debuted two new prints this year (Elsa from Frozen and Sailor Moon, plus two special Elsa and Jack Frost versions — Elsa is already posted online, but keep an eye out here for upcoming Sailor Moon and Jelsa posts!) that were very popular. I sold an unprecedented amount of Elsa prints and completely sold out of Jack Frost! I’m also super happy to see how people liked my new crochet critters, which will be going into my online store soon. Keep an eye out for an upcoming convention leftover/overstock sale — we’re talking more than 50% off some awesome stuff!

In previous years, highlights included a jaw-dropping Batman: The Animated Series rogue gallery cosplay group in 2012 (PLEASE contact me if you were the cosplayers or if you know who they were!) and a spectacularly serendipitous meet with a Chun Li wanting to make a last-minute purchase, her Spiderman boyfriend, and THE MOST LEGIT M. Bison EVER in a nearby tea house after we left the Artist Alley in 2013 (I’d also love to hear from you if you were the Chun Li or M. Bison!).

This year, my favorite moments were a Levi cosplayer who graciously cleaned my mirror with Windex and two cosplayers who made an epic Anastasia and Drizella, especially with their constant in-character chatter and their song and flute performance. All the Ranma 1/2 cosplays (Sango with Hiraikotsu!!) made me happy to see old classics still alive and kicking. Shoutout to the amazing Majin Buu cosplay and Gai/Rock Lee pair I glimpsed when leaving the con on Monday — those were spot on.

I also got a rare chance to meet some good friends again, like Lyn from LimitlessEdge Cosplay, SamChuu and Cami from Cobalt Save Cosplay, and Yumedarling. I also had a super nice helper this year; thank you very much for that. If only I weren’t too busy to hang out and catch up with friends all weekend long!

Fanime is a huge convention servicing over 25,000 attendees with 20 years of experience. I’m always really happy to be a part of it and meet so many awesome people, but it honestly has no excuses for these fundamental screw-ups. Registration and set-up time are as standard as artist alley practices get. Fanime should be prepared for them. Luckily, there’s hope — the convention evidently learned from its registration line mistakes from last year and addressed those very efficiently. Here’s to hoping that with that system fixed, they’ll be able to focus on streamlining Artist Alley. Our poor little artist hearts can only take so much stress.

Thanks for sticking with me through this giant wall of text, and for your patience as I organize upcoming blog posts! There’s a ton of art coming up, and I hope to finally get to posting some fashion after that!

Zhen Yue Kei – alternative fashion kicking off with visual kei

11 April 2014

Sharp-eyed visitors might have noticed that the fashion portion of this site has been quietly up and running for the past few weeks, and I’d like to formally announce its opening now. It’s still a little bare, but it’s fully functional and soon it will be full of photos, pictures, and tons of resources for the fashionista in all of us.

The first article has been posted and is an introduction and guide to visual kei!

A fan of visual kei? I’d love your comments and opinions! Don’t know what visual kei is? Then it’s definitely worth taking a look at the article!

Planned future articles are introductions and guides to lolita, fairy kei, and gyaru! Have a particular fashion you want covered? Let me know!

Also, deco nails and a couple of other accessories have been added to the ZYK gallery, which is still in beta until the format is finalized. Already between the time of photographing and now, there are new nail sets and hats in addition to all the other accessories we make, so expect lots of new updates, especially after Fanime!

Welcome to Zhen Yue

7 February 2014

Firstly, a slightly belated 马年快乐!
Happy Chinese New Year everyone!

This beta opening of this website was (kind of) timed to coincide with the beginning of the Year of the Horse, my favorite animal. (∩_∩)

At long last, Zhen Yue is online! I can only hope that the result is worth the wait. Many thanks to everyone who has supported me all these years, to iPage for hosting, and to all the inspirations that have motivated me to create this little corner of the internet.

It’s not over yet. Here is a list of things that will be added in the near future, as well as a quick overview of what to expect later on:

  • All my casual art and sketches will be uploaded soon. These will be removed from my deviantArt and migrated here. All future casual art and tidbits will be directly posted here and not to deviantArt anymore.

  • The online store will slowly but surely be updated with everything currently on hand, for those patiently waiting to purchase that special something. Convention leftover sales will also be conducted through the store!

  • A separate subsection, titled Zhen Yue Kei, will eventually open, featuring accessories, fashion sketches, designs, photos, and my thoughts regarding all genres of alternative fashion.

  • Once everything has been set up (most likely way out into the future), I will start working on a variety of webcomics and titles I’ve been planning for years. Sneak previews and hints will be found later under the series section, so stay tuned for updates!

As you can see, there’s a lot coming up, and for a while updates will mostly consist of backlogged content that needs to be uploaded. What are you looking forward to the most? Stick around and enjoy the show — Zhen Yue promises to be a lot of awesomeness and fun.

Welcome to Zhen Yue. ♥

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