Wednesday, September 11, 2013


Now that school’s over I had to make some serious changes in my life. Nobody likes change, or at least, nobody welcomes it with an anxious-free attitude. The reason for this is mainly because even minor changes can screw with your routine, comfort and an already established efficiency. It’s been four months since my last entry and I hate to admit that I have not drawn enough. That does not mean I haven’t been busy. In these months I had to move from New York, one of the greatest cities and the art capital of the world to my hometown, Guayaquil, in Ecuador. It may sound as a downgrade, but this is simply not the case. You see, I love my city and my country, and there are apparently some advantages here that New York could not have offered me, ever! Let’s start with the fact that I have my family here, which support me no matter what crazy idea pops into my head. Also I have a lot of connections here. Living in a small city for around 30 years will do that to you. Food is cheaper and time goes slower. It is hot in here, and it will get hotter in the winter, go figure. It sounds as if I’m saying it backwards, but lots of things are backwards here and that is one of the facts why I love it so much. Space is an important factor since in New York I had none, at least compared to what I have here. For instance, I designated one room as my man cave/studio/comic room. All the inspiration I can get in one place. I even have a vintage comic book roulette rack. So it took a lot of effort and time to build my perfect spot for working, so it would be absolutely wrong not to brag about it ;) Here are some pictures of it and I have made a list specifying some of the stuff I have in it so you can know me better. I’m pretty sure you will end up with some opinions about me and you may not be wrong about some of them.

Panoramic Picture of Journey Studios

Journey Studios 1

Journey Studios 2 

Journey Studios 3

69 Things to Brag About
  1. Mask collection.
  2. Original art of Eddie by Derek Riggs. (The official Iron Maiden illustrator)
  3. DC Eaglemoss figurine collection. (almost complete)
  4. Lots of art books and references.
  5. Lightbox. Never use it, and I don’t think I ever will L
  6. Soccer Trophy. Granted, it was from elementary school and we ended up sixth but they still gave it to us as consolation price. I have no idea why the hell I have it. I play no soccer whatsoever.
  7. Favorite Flash cap.
  8. Drafting table. The one I used in New York.
  9. Comfy chair. Kind of expensive though.
  10. Portable easel when I feel like painting with traditional tools. Sadly I have no room for it at my place so I think it will stay that way for a while. Also oil painting stinks the whole apartment.
  11. Vintage comic book roulette rack.
  12. The Flash cardboard. (Wally West)
  13. Batman statue. (Museum Quality)
  14. The Hulk. (He is always angry as you can see)
  15. Golden Link of the Legend of Zelda. #Truefan
  16. Darth Maul with mechanical legs. (Sideshow Collectibles)
  17. Luke hanging from Cloud City after learning the truth from his father. Honestly, ruling a galaxy as father and son doesn’t seem so bad.
  18. Journey Studios. (Based on my signature JO)
  19. My beloved Cintiq.
  20. UPS voltage regulator. Believe it or not, blackouts happen regularly.
  21. Favorite mug of the Man of Steel.
  22. iMac.
  23. Comic-con badges. Yes, I collect them too.
  24. Cork with lost of essential information and reference. Also I have a picture of my nephews up there.
  25. Marathon finisher medals. (New York, Miami, and Chicago)
  26. A3 Hewlett Packard printer.
  27. TV used as an extra monitor.
  28. Darth Vader helmet.
  29. Poster of Showcase # 4. (First appearance of the silver age Flash)
  30. The Flash placemat with his origin revealed.
  31. Poster of Eduardo Risso’s illustration of 100 Bullets, dedicated to me of course.
  32. Conan O’Brien sculpture I made of clay.
  33. Coca Cola through the decades.
  34. South Park characters.
  35. Blu-Ray collection and some small books.
  36. Original Art by Greg LaRocque. Favorite interpretation of the Flash.
  37. Manga collection. (A very small one)
  38. Favorite trade paperbacks.
  39. Female figure Artist Model. (The male is lying around somewhere)
  40. Absolute hardcovers.
  41. Victoria Secret catalogs. (They are used for reference!)
  42. Comfy chair again. It is so good that it needed to be mentioned twice.
  43. I guess the Superman cup is as good as the chair since it’s already on the list.
  44. Flash mouse pad. (I guess you’ve figured it out already. I like The Flash)
  45. Gentle Giant Star Wars Bust collection.
  46. The Flash by Alex Ross.
  47. Pull up bar to stretch my back. Rarely used for exercise.
  48. Rorschach bust.
  49. DC Comics superheroes lithography by Warner Brothers.
  50. Leia in the golden bikini of course.
  51. Storm Shadow bust.
  52. SVA Graduation cap.
  53. Kingdom Come Superman statue sculpted by Alex Ross.
  54. Star Wars statues collection.
  55. Other statues.
  56. The Joker statue collection.
  57. Custom Joker statue. Who is the artist I wonder?
  58. The Flash collection.
  59. Comics. Lots of them.
  60. Munny Flash painted by Jo. (That’s me)
  61. Resin statue made by Jo.
  62. More trade paperbacks.
  63. Even More trade paperbacks. (That Flash hardcover is in Italian)
  64. Dylan Dog collection (in Italian of course) donated by a good friend of mine.
  65. Luigi, number one! (This time number sixty five)
  66. Mug of the Flash and me, given as a gift from my brother.
  67. Books.
  68. Preacher action figures.
  69. Souvenir from my honeymoon. A man drawing on a drafting table made of tin. (Granted, the tin figure is supposed to be an architect, but you get the idea)

It is important to add that there is no comic book market here. Ok, so anybody with an inch of common sense will argue that this is not such a good scenario for me, a freelance artist who specializes in drawing comics; but the fact of the matter is that there is a lot of potential on this virgin soil and I’m one of the few who knows how to do this kind of magic (comics) in this city and probably in the whole country. It’s true that I’d have to start a campaign in order for people to start caring more about graphic novels at all, but if I would have to guess, and correct me if I’m wrong, there is a strong tendency in the world of people taking what I do more seriously. I still have to battle with some people who cannot, for the love of God, understand what I do for a living, after I have explained it to them thoroughly. It is not a popular career here in Ecuador, and I don’t think it will be anytime soon. I don’t blame people for not understanding. It seems that in third world countries, politics, businesses, and agriculture dominate the economy; art, on the other hand, occupies the last entry in the priority list. Things are changing though, slowly, but they are changing, and I will be part of this cultural shift when storytelling and art takes an important role in Ecuador. Create awareness seems like a lot of work, especially if I am eager to make some money doing what I love, so my plan is to sell my products to international markets right away. The good news is that I do have some commissions but they are not precisely in the comics department.

Portrait of my sister Mariella

In any case, this is my home now and I’m happy to be here, however, I’m also nostalgic and kind of regretful of leaving New York behind. The city that never sleeps made possible my biggest dream, so I will always be in its debt. Hopefully I will be back to visit soon in order to walk those noisy but beautiful streets under a 14 degree Fahrenheit morning to get to one of the many great restaurants in the city to have an unparalleled brunch. So yeah, I miss it, a lot. Like people say, “You will love to hate New York”, but now that I’m not there I can only think good memories of it.

So now that I have no classes to go over with you, what are we going to cover? You see what I mean with minor changes? The task of achieving 10,000 hours doing art is still going on so I guess I will show you my progress and cover the most interesting phases of my life while showing you my latest work. I hate to admit that I will not be showing every piece as I did in previous posts when I was in school. The reason for this is that I have to be more careful in showing my content. I’m afraid of people illegally using my images and sometimes I will be legally obligated to restrain myself of showing some artwork. In any case, I will upload whatever I can even if I have to watermark some of my work. The idea is to get my art out there so, what are you waiting for, spread the word. The only way to be great at this is with the help of the fans, or some publisher who can see not only the talent and sacrifice, but also the potential in me.

Soon I will be uploading my new website, and not to worry, Master Art Skills WILL be a part of it. I don’t want to spoil the surprise but I can tell you this, the name of my studio will be Journey Studios. You see, my family and my closest friends call me Jo. It all started when my sister, Mariella, was just a baby and could not say my whole name, which is Jose Luis by the way. So she started calling me Jo 20 years ago and somehow it stuck. I decided that if some people change their names to help recognition and awareness, my artist name could easily be changed to Jo. Why Journey Studios you ask? Well, it starts with “Jo” right, but I have put more thought into it, believe you me. The Journey was the first mini-comic I made in Jessica Abel and Matt Madden’s storytelling class. It was a compilation of all my homework in that class but it was my first comic nonetheless. It seems premonitory now that I think about it. This has been and still is, my journey, so without further ado here I present my logo designed by none other than my brother Oswaldo.

Journey Studios Logo

Mini-comic The Journey
I’ve been doing a lot of illustrations and I’m happy to say they have been well received. I’m trying to post them all via Twitter (@bielero), Instagram (@bielero), Tumblr (Mastering Art /, Deviantart (bielero), and Facebook (Jose Molestina). Feel free to follow me or request a friendship if you wish to do so. I will gladly accept. I wish there was one application so you could post once and upload them in all the social networks available. Sometimes I spend so much time posting my work when it could have been more productive making more art. Anyways, I don’t think this will happen anytime soon and if you do know one software or app that does this, please do tell me about it.

There are two anecdotes with two of my illustrations. The first one was a comic style painting I made of “El Chapulin Colorado”, which is a character in a comedy about a Mexican Superhero performed brilliantly by Chespirito (You may have heard him in “El Chavo del 8”). I dare to say that the majority of Latin America and mainly my generation hold this actor with high regard. He made our childhoods sweeter and everybody will remember him as what he really is, a legend. The fact that not only he acknowledged my illustration but also thanked me for it and reposted it using his own account in Instagram made me smile for the rest of the day. The second work was a caricature of a well-known politician and now major of my city Guayaquil, Jaime Nebot, who not only thanked me for it but also took a picture of himself holding the caricature. I respect him a lot so it was a great honor to get this recognition. Also via his Facebook account my work reached almost 10,000 likes, which is not too shabby, no, not too shabby at all ;)

El Chapulin Colorado

Jaime Nebot caricature

Jaime Nebot with caricature

I also made a Superman with and angry Lex Luthor, a Batman colored sketch, a Hulk fighting the Marvel Universe using digital inks, the infamous Joker, a new re-imagined Justice League based on the next generation of sidekicks of the DC Universe, and a couple of new superheroes based on two good friends of mine. I don’t think they are too happy on me promoting this illustration but their attitude towards it was refreshing and very positive. Still, nobody paid me for that one; it was paid off with my laughter ;) I made most of them using Manga Studio 5 EX which I highly recommend.

Superman vs. Lex Luthor

Batman colored sketch

Hulk vs. The Marvel Universe

The Joker

The New Justice League

The Buff and The Photogenic Kid

So why is the title of the entry “Back to Unreality? Mainly because although I’m back to reality, meaning that I’m back in my home country making my stay in New York learning art and comics just a great memory, it is not the life I left behind when I first travel there. I’m back, but to be able to make comics in this city feels unreal, bordering in unbelievable. It is a dream come true and nobody can take this way from me. I though it was going to feel weird but ‘au contraire’, it feels just about right. I was always sure that I made the right choice, but now I’m even more convinced that I’m in the right path. Follow your dreams, the payoff is so much greater that you could possibly imagine, and it IS attainable. It took me 3 years of my life, but it may as well have taken me a lifetime or not happen at all if I hadn’t had the courage to make the leap unto the uncertain. I will say goodbye now, but before I do here is a  couple of videos of my process in making the Joker that you can also see via You Tube The Joker Video



Jose Luis