Michael Bukowski is a Philadelphia artist that has been creating art for and among the DIY community for over a decade, having worked with bands, artists, and animal conservation groups alike. His signature works are hard to mistake and currently circulate the globe. For the full story of Michael Bukowski, be sure to scope The Column Out of Space launch and in-depth interview with this talented and intriguing artist. Today, Bukowski gives Blow The Scene readers around the world an inside look into the processes behind a slick Tshirt he crafted. We know you are here for the stellar art, so without further ado.. Let’s hear from Michael Bukowski as he takes us into The Column Out of Space pt II.
So for my second installment of this column I thought I’d focus on a simpler black and white tshirt design. The process is a little different than the full color piece I showed you last time. This is all high contrast and I can’t rely on color or shading to add detail. They wind up having a lot more doodly bits and detailed lines. Like slight curves and shadows all have to be shown in black or white. Not to mention when you print a shirt you don’t want HUGE sections of white because it kinda feels weird when you wear it. Especially if you print with plastisol ink which is thicker and sticks to your skin in the summer…ewwww. Let’s get into it and I’ll elaborate as I go.
This is the second shirt design for Philly’s Black Vulture Gallery and they’re really into the mystical/magic/dark witchcraft thing that I do with my “stuff piles”.
The initial thumbnail part is pretty much the same. A really, really small rough sketch to get the ideas and layout down, which I then sent off to them to get feedback. They asked for no crown and horns instead, which is where the second thumbnail comes in. After that was sent, and they gave me approval, I got to move on to the actual drawing part. I should also note, that this instance was particularly painless. I’ve had to go back and forth three or four times with bands trying to get a sketch approved.
For the symmetrical stuff piles (similar to the Wilbur Whateley piece) I draw a line down the center of the page, and only draw half of the image. Then, I’ll flip the drawing over on a lightbox and ink the back side of the page. This saves me from wasting paper and having to erase the pencil marks which pulls up ink and makes the clean up part annoying.
These black and white drawings feel like they take forever because the inking step takes way longer. There’s more detail and very large sections of black that need to be blocked in. However, once that’s done, I’m basically finished. Above you can see how the drawing looks half inked and with Everyman Hybrid (a Slender Man vlog) keeping me company while I was hunched over for hours on end.
While we’re on that subject, you can see some of the other nerdy stuff I used as inspiration for that piece. Lots of occult books and Buffy. The pic on the left is from the book Egyptian Magic by E.A. Wallis Budge (click the link and you could get a used copy for a penny!) and I incorporated the ancient Egyptian symbols for “lucky” and “unlucky” into the design. I don’t know if that’s cool or not but I sure as hell thought it was.
Sooooo, once I’ve finished inking the first half of the drawing, I fold it on the light box and ink the second half. Thus ensuring a perfectly symmetrical pile of creepy demon stuff and esoteric symbols. It’s actually way easier to do the second half because the ink blocks more light than the pencil you’re looking at through the paper on the first half. Compellingly exciting I know. Illustrator problems.
This is a slightly annoying part but usually doesn’t take to long. It’s the tiling and clean up part. Because my piece is bigger than my scanner, I have to scan it in parts. Which means opening a HUGE file and cutting and pasting each part and placing it together and making sure that the slight warping or curvature that happens when you scan a thing, doesn’t distort the final image too much. The left hand side you can see what the drawing looked like once it was scanned and tiled together but before I cleaned it up at all.
I also noticed the drawing didn’t look right once I could step back from it (aka “zoom out”). So I tweeked the design slightly by moving the bones on string to the middle and erasing the string that was wrapped around the horns (that part required way more patience). I also moved the Egyptian symbols to up and further out towards the edge. The arrows in the center also didn’t read to well so I quickly drew some candles on a scrap of paper and popped those on there. Luckily on these black and white pieces you don’t have to worry about backgrounds when you alter the image.
The images in the circles under the sickles are Icelandic magical staves (the first is for “victory in battle” and the second is “the helm of awe”) . I added those post scan, because it’s way easier to keep circles clean if you do them in computer. The symbols were also too small and intricate for me to draw and scan so I cut and pasted them. OOOOOOOoooooo cheating! I know a lot of people have a problem with artists appropriating magical symbols and combining them in ways that don’t make sense just because they look cool, but honestly I’m fascinated by magic because it’s the dark side of religion and spiritualism. No other reason. It’s still bullshit just like all other religion, it’s just got cooler imagery. I do think it’s weird if you don’t know what the symbols are or what they mean and you use them because it could be something sketchy.
Lastly, I had to redraw their logo so that the image wasn’t like 10 feet tall. You can see it in the pic with the books in progress.
And here you go. A cool black and white stuff pile full of mysticism with a black metal style logo. Tune in next time when I talk shit on some assbag that ripped me off tell you how to go about dealing with something like that!