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SuperHero Sunday Sale

Want to be part of the Justice League or The Avengers?

NOW is the perfect time to take advantage of our SPECIAL OFFER! Purchase this VoogDesigns Voucher, and get 1 FULL COLOR custom caricature at 50% OFF our regular price!

A single full-color caricature would normally cost you $50.00. But by purchasing this voucher below, you will get ONE CUSTOM FULL-COLOR CARICATURE for ONLY $25!

You choose what SuperHero character you'd like it to be.
They make great gift ideas for family members, friends, or co-workers. It's up to you!
Think about upcoming birthdays, anniversaries, promotions and parties.
They're unique Creative Marketing Solutions for any business too!

After purchasing this voucher by clicking the BUY NOW button below, we will email you to discuss the specifications of your request. This SPECIAL OFFER is ONLY VALID on SUNDAYS so if you need it for a time sensitive special occasion GRAB IT NOW!


Creativity and Children

Father's Day 2015
Is it really work if you love what you do? You've heard me say this before.

Most days I sit at the drawing board in my studio "working". I'll have some music or a movie playing in the background while I'm creating my newest cartoon, comic strip or piece of animation for myself or a client. Hours can seem like minutes when you are "in the zone".

Drawing takes me back to my childhood. A time where I could get "lost" in my art, and spend hours at a time creating the images I saw in my mind and transferring them to paper via my pencil. It was also great for my mom because she was able to get things done around the house and didn't have to worry about what I was up to.

A good friend of mine has a special motto, "Remember your childhood... and pass it on." The legacy of fatherhood is to do just that. To create productive, compassionate and contributing members of our society that help to make the world a better place.

Today is a special working day for me today because on this Father's Day I am passing on my childhood to my daughter in a unique way. She has always drawn quietly in her room (like I used to), but today we are sharing my creative space together. In my studio I am drawing on my tablet and she is drawing on hers. We are both creating!

And this is one of the reasons I am starting NinjaToons.com; to bring parents and their children together through ART. I teach FUN art, not fine art. My philosophy on drawing is that if kids are having FUN drawing, they will want to draw MORE. They will look for opportunities to create custom art like this great Father's Day card my daughter made for me. This is BETTER than any store-bought card because it was created by her with LOVE! Now imagine all our kids creating special memories like this for family and friends!

If you are in the Ventura County or Conejo Valley and are interested in having your child enroll in my Summer Cartooning Camp, there are a few seats still available! Class begins July 6th so please visit NinjaToons.com and reserve your seat today.


A Kind and Courageous Cinderella

"Inspiration is light a traffic light.
When it is green, you GO."

Which is why I am writing this post at 2:30am. I felt inspired to share a message...

Tonight I took my wife and daughter to see Disney's Cinderella, and although I approached this movie with some reservations, the fact that I am writing about it should tell you there is something great about the message of this movie.

I felt the same way after watching Maleficent last year. With it's unique telling of the Sleeping Beauty story, it felt less "fairytale fantasy" and more about the redemptive nature of "true love".

With Cinderella, the central message is to "be kind, and have courage", which I felt was delivered beautifully as Ella struggles with keeping her mother's promise through the many trials in her story. So why am I taking the time to write about this? Because a happy "coincidence" occurred just an hour ago.

Every Sunday morning from 1:00-2:00am I'm an adorer in my church's Adoration Chapel. It is here where I enter the "classroom of silence", and often receive clarity and insight into problems I'm struggling with or trying to gain some understanding in an area of my life.

Tonight in the Adoration Chapel I had a book with me titled, "Nine Words- A Bible Study to Help You Become the Best-Version-of-Yourself", and I recall reading something months ago that related to the message in the movie tonight. So as I searched through this book, sure enough one of the nine words was "kindness". But the epiphany occurred for me when I read this:
First, kindness is active, not passive. To move toward becoming the best-version-of-yourself, you will engage life, not sit idly by and hope for change. The Holy Spirit changes you, and those changes will make you behave differently. Kindness acts; it takes the initiative.
Second, kindness takes risks for God, even in the face of hostility and danger. Kindness recognizes God's work and seeks to be a part of that. Kindness is courageous. In the same way, becoming the best-version-of-yourself will require courage and risk. Change and growth take courage.
I smiled as I read this sitting in the Chapel, because for me, this was a meaningful moment where the message was clear. Be Kind. Have Courage.

I previously wrote about Talent and Temperament, explaining that it isn't enough to just have talent, you have to hustle (work hard) while remaining humble (be kind). It takes a great deal of courage to pursue your passion, but I believe you must also do so with a humble heart.

As Daniel Pink explains in his book, To Sell is Human, entrepreneurs don't set out to become rich. They begin by solving a problem that many people encounter, and because their product/service solves this problem for the masses, financial abundance generally follows. They offer help, which is an act of kindness. And although not everyone benefits financially for their outreach, there are far more rewards one can receive, such as community and friendship.

What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?

This is a question that appears on one of my coffee mugs. Pursuing your passion takes courage. Opening your heart to others takes courage. Taking risks requires courage. But if you are pursuing your passions from a place of humility and kindness to answer a problem that needs a solution, then I think you are on the right path.

Find some quiet time away from all the electronics and noise, and begin contemplating the reasons for "why" you are pursuing your passion. What is your passion and what problem are you solving by sharing it with the world? Is is merely for self-gratification, or are you using your gifts and talents to help others. Be Kind. Have Courage.


Full-Time to Freelancing

"I’m working full-time on my job and part-time on my fortune..."
-Jim Rohn 

For the person who is dedicated to earning a living pursuing their passion, no truer words have been spoken. Yesterday I wrote about Talent and Temperament, combined with Hustle and Humility. Both are required when balancing a full-time job while living out your dreams in disguise like a superhero concealing their secret identity.

For the past 6 years I have been working a full-time job while building my freelance business as an animator, children's book illustrator, comic strip and caricature artist, and drawing instructor. My clients and my company are always on my mind. Emails, projects, marketing, invoicing, prospecting, follow-up... and then there's the actual drawing! But during the normal business hours of society, I'm like an ArtNinja, secretly planning, positioning and pursuing my passion. Mentally that is.

I wanted to share something exciting that happened to me today while working my "day job", because if you are as passionate about your dreams as I am about mine, there will be times that you can get frustrated, feeling trapped in a job and not moving forward. But if your passion consumes you, and you find yourself constantly marinating on thoughts of your business, there is an answer.

The blessing and the curse of a full-time job is getting great ideas during the work day with out the ability to implement them...yet.

There is a particular business plan that I have been developing, and it's constantly on my mind. Today a solution sabotaged my subconscious filling me with excitement and energy. (This is typically when I get frustrated.) When ideas come to me and I'm stuck at work, restrained from being able to take any action, it can extinguish my inspiration. So what do I do? I simply write the ideas down.

This is why I always recommend carrying a pen and paper with you wherever you go, because you never know when an idea for your business might ambush your attention. Even though you're unable to take immediate action on your idea while you're at work, you can write it down in that moment, so that when you are able to clock out of your full-time job, you can begin working part-time on your fortune.


Talent and Temperament

"The reality of any 'animation' or 'art' industry today is that degrees really are not at all relevant to hiring. Yes, you need computer skills but beyond that there are two criteria that employers look for in the main - what can you do as an artist/animator and what are you like as a person." 
-Tony White Founder: The Animator's Sketchclub

For those of you who have been following me, I have been saying this for the past 10 years when I realized that a degree simply says you took the classes, but not how well you can demonstrate you learned the content. That is what your sketchbook and portfolio are for. So when I came across this quote in the comments of a LinkedIn discussion Drawing on the wisdom of the past... why its important to put the STEAM back into STEM! I felt validated.

The first criteria Tony mentions is your TALENT and ABILITY as an artist. It's gonna take a lot of drawings to get there. You've probably heard of the 10,000 Rule. So how do you resolve to get through all the bad drawings to make a living doing the thing you love? I just watched this video again to remind me of "The Most Important Word Ever" to becoming what you want to be in life. And that word is... (Did you really think I would make it that easy?) WATCH IT.

The second criteria is your TEMPERAMENT. What are you like as a person? And for me, the key is to always remain humble. Throughout all the ups and downs in life, remaining humble will keep things in perspective. To be grateful in the struggles and gracious in the successes.

Talent with Hustle, and Temperament with Humility is a WINNING combination!


Shape Shifting

Lines. Shapes. Volume.
Every week I review with my art students the "secrets" to drawing anything. You really only need to learn 3 lines, but it's how you combine those lines that creates your masterpiece. We use these 3 lines to draw shapes, and then transform those shapes into volume.

Our recent lesson has been on Character Design, and I have the students begin with shapes to explore the look of the character they are designing. So I thought I would post a little Work-In-Progress (WIP) of my own, for a project currently in development.

Starting in the upper left corner and moving clockwise around the page, I started with basic shapes to work out my design elements. From there, I began posing this character into the 5 poses at the bottom. There is still work to be done but I thought you'd enjoy seeing how I "practice what I teach" with this fun character.


What Are You In Love With?

"What you are in love with, what seizes your imagination, will affect everything. It will decide what will get you out of bed in the morning, what you do with your evenings, how you spend your weekends, what you read, whom you know, ... and what amazes you with joy and gratitude. Fall in love, stay in love, and it will decide everything.” 
-Fr. Pedro Arrupe, SJ 
This is a beautiful and fitting quote by Fr. Pedro Arrupe that sums up what it's like when you are living with a sense of Passion and Purpose. CLICK THE VIDEO above as I talk about the energy you'll experience during my recent interview with Jared Tullos.


Overcoming Obstacles

Recently I had the honor of drawing a caricature for my cousin's husband in the Netherlands. I've had requests for Birthdays, Anniversaries, Save-the-Dates, and Employee of the Month Awards, but what made this caricature special is that it is celebrating his recovery to walk again!

So away with the wheelchair, crutches and physical therapy appointments. He's got this!

In life we are all going to face challenges. In the moment, we can get frustrated, depressed and even angry. But making sense of it all typically doesn't reveal itself until much later in life when you can reflect on that difficult time with from a new perspective and say to yourself, "Now I can see why that happened."

Believe me,  I'm not saying it is easy while you are experiencing the "valleys" of life. But as a good friend once told me after I explained my own frustrations, "Fruit grows in the valleys, NOT on the mountain tops."

What does that mean? It simply means that in these moments we are meant to learn something. So use the opportunity like I did to find the "fruit" that is growing during your struggles.


Everyday is a New Beginning

Life is what happens while we're "busy" making other plans...

I wanted to begin with this famous quote because it's been some time since posting my last blog entry and I apologize to my followers for that. Yes, "life" happens and if we're not careful, it's easy to overwhelm ourselves with obligations, promises and other "stuff" that isn't very important.

It's common knowledge that it can take 21-days to create a habit (or change an undesirable trend in one's life). A former boss once said to me, "You can be busy, but are you being productive?" Recently I caught myself in this situation of overfilling my schedule with "busy-ness" which is not advancing my personal and professional goals. So I created a spreadsheet of how I spent blocks of time throughout my day, then made adjustments to it that would better insure my success of creating my preferred daily habits. The first habit I want to begin is creating drawings and writing blog posts on a daily basis.

I know, I know... You've read this before. Probably from another blogger that is apologizing to their audience just like I am for not not providing you with usable and regular content. So writing and drawing are two activities that I would like to become daily habits for me. Even if they are brief writings like sharing a quote, or a current work-in-progress for one of my projects, it's something that I need to be consistent with to bring you a unique and valuable experience.

So enough with that, let's get into something useful.
  • What do you want your life to look like?
  • How would you envision your "perfect" day?
  • If money was no object, how would you spend your time?

If we want to discover the ANSWER, we first need to ask the QUESTION. Now we can begin the conversation.

What do you do when you need to think? Do you turn on the television? Blast the radio? Enter a room of crowded people? NO. You seek out a place that is quiet. If you are interested in changing your life, and pursuing your passion, then let's start with finding some quiet time to reflect on where you are now and what you want your life to look like.

I am speaking now from my own personal experience, which I hope helps encourage and guide you. This is what I did.

I was fed up with where I was at professionally. I was working the graveyard shift at a job that wasn't very fulfilling, yet it did serve a purpose. That purpose was providing income and health benefits for me and my family. It also served another purpose... it helped me realize what I DIDN'T want to do, forcing me to ask myself the question, "What DO I want to do with my life?" So I grabbed a composition book (you know, the ones we had in school with the black and white "cow"moulage on the cover) and began to write every idea that came to me about how I could make a living getting back to what I loved... DRAWING!

To determine what that "something" is for you means you may need to reflect back on your childhood and remember what it is you LOVED doing. For my wife, it was riding and working with horses. For me, it was drawing. What is it for you? So let's start the process together of creating the life that you REALLY want to live.

[ACTION STEP] Go to your local store today and purchase a composition book, or some sort of journal. Then TONIGHT, find a quiet place where you can reflect on your life up to this point, remembering all the moments where you were happiest; when you felt alive. (Oh, by the way, quiet means tossing your smart phone in a drawer for awhile. Sorry, but how bad do you want it?)

It's time to begin creating a NEW LIFE which allows you to be the best version of yourself. A life designed to fulfill your passion and purpose. Let's get started TODAY!