Hey gang, you can now buy my posters as beautiful canvas prints. They’re super-high quality, hand-stretched, fade-resistant and take my artwork to a whole new level. Seriously, my posters look like they should be hanging in a museum! They come ready to hang and are available in 18×24” ($90USD) and 24×36” ($140USD) sizes. Visit the store.
Archive for Blog
Hey faithful readers, it’s time for another edition of Reader of the Month! Meet Jenny, a young artist from Germany, who really epitomises what Neil Gaiman said: “When things get tough: MAKE. GOOD. ART.”
My name is Jenny, I’m a 22 year-old Illustrator from Germany. I just finished art college in Berlin, where I also did some freelance work as a video game artist. Since I was a child I was obsessed with drawing and painting. It sometimes felt like it was pretty much the only thing I could do properly.
However, four years ago, my art and my life took a turn for the worse when I got diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.
I had some pretty frightening attacks from the Illness, like blindness in my left eye and numbing of my hands and legs. When I couldn’t move my right hand and didn’t know if that terrible attack would ever stop, I had to start drawing with my left hand. I even got pretty good at using my left (as you can see from the photo – Gav). Eventually I got some treatment and was slowly able to move my right hand again.
During that time I struggled with depression. I pretty much raged against myself, my weakness and the sickness that was preventing me from working on my art. It was a long struggle and it felt like there was no way out of the abyss. I completely wanted to give up on art and saw no point in being creative anymore. At it’s worst, I felt like giving up on life.
But then, I think somewhere in the beginning of 2012, I found Zen Pencils. I stumbled on one of the comics on 9GAG. The comic was Find a Job You Love. It was like reading a comic about my own childhood. I remembered what I felt like when painting as a kid. I also realised art was not just some pastime for me, with art I could leave the hospital without even moving. With art, I could express all the fear, all the wrath and all the sadness inside me. Art was my happiness in this dark time of my life.
But it get’s even better, reading the No Regrets comic inspired me a lot and helped give me the courage to go to BTK art college in Berlin.
I’ve been a loyal Zen Pencils reader ever since. It’s given me so much inspiration, courage and self-esteem, and when the ugly depression tries to find its way back in my life, I at least can fight back by reading my favourite comics. And it always reminds me that my illness is not completely controlling my life yet, or my art. And even when my art is getting weaker, it remains MY art. My right hand is better for now and I am finally moving on with making art.
Since graduating, I’m doing some travelling. I’m currently in New Zealand, and being surrounded by so much beauty is doing wonders for my motivation and creativity. I feel like I’m finally on the right path to finding a good life for myself.
Thanks so much for sharing your story Jenny. I hope you stay on top of your illness and continue to live the life you dream of. You can visit Jenny’s website here. You know, I get a lot of emails from readers saying that Zen Pencils helps motivate and inspire them, but what’s even more amazing is that it works both ways. A lot of my readers, especially someone like Jenny, inspire ME. And connecting with people and hearing their incredible stories is one of the best things that’s happened to me since starting this website. Thank you – Gav
My name is Josh Richards. I’m a 29 year old Australian physicist & comedian, and an astronaut candidate to the Mars One project – aiming to be one of the first humans on Mars in 2025. I wanted to express my gratitude the huge role Zen Pencils has played so far in my journey toward living and working in space. Two years ago this month I was at the Edinburgh Fringe festival, performing my second solo festival show & my 4th year at the fringe. But I wasn’t happy. I loved making people laugh, and the reviews said I was good at it … but I never got the rush of performing other comics talked about.
Comedy was the latest in a line of marginally successful careers – studying physics and psychology at university, serving with the Aussie Army & the British Commandos, explosives engineering in the mining industry, and as a science advisor to the UK art industry – I packed it all in. But I never felt truly fulfilled by any of it. Just after the 2012 Edinburgh festival I decided to try blending science and stand-up with a comedy show about the ethics & science of sending people one-way to Mars. I’d been researching the show about five minutes before I found Mars One – an organisation planning to do exactly what I was joking about. So rather than joking about it, I applied to be one of the people to go when their astronaut applications opened in in April 2013. There’s just 705 of us worldwide still in the running now, and 24-40 will be picked in June next year to undergo 10 years of training before launching on the one-way mission in September 2024.
But I’m not sure I would have signed up to something so final (or committed as fully as I have) if a friend hadn’t introduced me to Zen Pencils, sending me Chris Hadfield’s “An Astronaut’s Advice”. Hadfield may have had a clear view of what he wanted to do when he was seven, but it took me till I was 27 to work out what I really wanted.
That’s the role your work has played over the last two years for me though. I had enough close calls in the military to instinctively know nature loves courage, but it took seeing your Terence McKenna quote to kick myself into gear when I had misgivings about performing at National Science Week here in Australia instead of playing it safe with comedy in Edinburgh. I knew I had to make the leap of faith to come home and talk about space & colonising other planets.
I had to leave the girl I was madly in love with in the UK because I can do more as a science ambassador here in Australia, and it took seeing your “If you love someone, set them free” comic to remind myself how much I still love her. Without Zen Pencils, I don’t know how many more years I would have continued lost in the woods, never sure I was doing the right thing. Now I have the opportunity to be part of something truly monumental, that will forever change the way we see ourselves as a species.
I keep the Hadfield comic, Neil Armstrong’s “Giant Among Men” and Theodore Roosevelt’s “The Man in the Arena” all framed on my office wall as reminders to push through criticism in the service of something far bigger than myself.
Even if I’m not selected as one of Mars One crew, that’s okay too because for the last year I’ve been visiting schools all over Australia to talk to kids about space & training to be an astronaut. Seeing a classroom of eyes light up when I tell them they’re growing up in the next golden age of space exploration is a far more thrilling than making hundreds laugh at some naval-gazing joke ever was. I know if someone like Andy Thomas had visited my class when I was 11 it would have changed my whole life, so right now science communication is where I belong … I just needed to try all those other things out first.
So thank you for the crucial role you’ve played. I’m meeting Chris Hadfield in Canberra this month – I’ll be getting him to sign my poster when I do
Wow, what a story. Thanks Josh, good luck in becoming one of the first humans to colonise Mars! Josh is performing his one-man show Becoming Martian in Perth this month as part of National Science Week. Chris Hadfield is touring Australia and I’m looking forward to seeing him perform in Melbourne. – Gav
If you’re attending San Diego Comic Con this weekend come and say ‘hi’. It’s my first SDCC so I need to meet as many friendly faces as possible! I’ll be at the Andrews McMeel Publishing/GoComics booth #1503 on Friday 3.30-4.30pm and on Sunday 12.30-1.30pm.
Andrews McMeel is the publisher of my upcoming book and we’ll be promoting it by giving away free posters which I’d be more than happy to sign.
I’m having a blast visiting the US and this is the last leg of my trip. I couldn’t think of a better way to finish than by meeting some of my fantastic readers.
Hope to see some of you there!
Hello from sunny Portland! I just arrived yesterday for the first leg of my USA trip (REMINDER: I’m having meet-ups in Portland and San Francisco on the 11th and 16th July, and will be signing at San Diego Comic-Con) and wanted to post some new content before the shenanigans begin. I’m having a semi-vacation/business trip, but i’ll hopefully find time to update the site with a new comic or two. It might take longer than usual so thanks in advance for your patience. In the meantime, I thought I’d do another behind-the-scenes post, this time showing you how a particular panel is created. It’s one of my personal favourite drawings, Maya Angelou dancing up a storm from the Phenomenal Woman comic.
Hey folks, I recorded my first vlog update for you, mainly because it’s long overdue that I say hi to you personally and also because I’m a lazy writer! It just gives you a rundown about what’s been happening with me and the website, plus some exciting things I have planned ahead. Hope you enjoy!
Details about the Portland meet-up:
- DATE: Fri 11th July
- VENUE: Lobby of Newmark Theater Building – 1111 SW Broadway, Portland.
- TIME: 4.30pm-6pm.
- COST: FREE (You don’t have to be attending the WDS conference to come – it’s open to all)
Details about the San Francisco meet-up:
- DATE: Wed 16th July
- VENUE: ROCKET SPACE Co-working space. 225 Bush Street, 12th Floor, San Francisco
- TIME: 7.30PM-9PM
- COST: FREE
Please let me know if you’re attending on the Facebook event page or in the comments below, I need to know rough numbers.
- The website of the World Domination Summit in Portland I’m attending.
- I’ll have my specific signing times for San Diego Comic Con closer to the event.
Thanks and let me know if you want more videos like this
I’m super-excited to announce the launch of the new Zen Pencils poster store!
After many months of looking for the right printer, redesigning my old posters and setting up a new online store, I’m so glad (and slightly nervous) to launch this new shop. Here, you’ll be able to purchase Zen Pencils posters in two big sizes at affordable prices.
18×24″ = $25 USD
24×26″ = $35 USD
The quality of the posters are incredible. They’re printed on heavy duty paper, the colours are super-vibrant, and they have a tactile matte finish. Think of these more as art prints rather than posters. You can also choose to have your poster framed – ready to hang in your room, office or classroom.
I’ve been wanting to open my own independent online store for awhile now. My old store (which I’ll be closing at the end of the month) was an easy solution to sell prints when I was first starting out and has since become a bit messy and hard to navigate. This new store offers posters in two big standard sizes and also at a cheaper price.
For the launch, there are 16 posters available, many of them being completely redesigned to look great as a standalone poster. I will constantly be updating the store with new designs, so if the comic you’re looking for isn’t there, please be patient – reformatting the posters takes me a long time.
All posters are printed and shipped out of Los Angeles and the frames are made using locally-sourced Californian timber. The store accepts VISA, MasterCard and PayPal.
I hope you like the store and thank you for your continuing support!
My name is Brian and I’m a comic artist from Atlanta, Georgia.
I’m 25 and my two main creative outlets are drawing (since I was a kid) and doing parkour (for the last six years). As funny as it might sound, drawing and parkour have a lot in common. They’re both creative activities that challenge you, and to improve, you must be willing to put in the time.
After high school, I decided to pursue drawing and attended a local state university and then I transferred to the Savannah College of Art and Design in Atlanta. After six years of school I thought I’d be ready to do what I really wanted, but for some reason I found myself really REALLY burned out on art, and anything slightly challenging or creative. I became stagnant and since I needed to start paying off my loans I got an office job (proofing invitations and announcements).
At first, I thought it would be kind of nice having a steady income and free time, but as the months went on I realized that while I was saving money, I wasn’t doing ANYTHING. For the first time in my life I felt like I didn’t have any long-term goals, and as someone who usually knew where I wanted to go, this scared me a lot. It was becoming a monotonous cycle of just going to work and constantly trying to figure out what I wanted out of life before it passed me by.
One day I came across one of your comics and I read through your entire archive in 2 days. I must say, it was one of the most inspiring 2 days that I’ve had in a while.
I found so many of your comics inspiring, but the one in particular that resonated with me the most, was the one about The Man in the Arena by Theodore Roosevelt. When I read that comic, I saw two things: the man I wanted to be (the climber) and the man I was quickly turning into (the guy on the couch). It was almost overwhelming, but I’m so glad I saw that when I did. I used to be more ambitious and even if things were difficult, the drive to achieve outweighed the fear of failure. I had lost that somewhere along the way, but thanks to your web-comic, I can feel it coming back.
It took a while, but I finally started drawing again and even though I’m still working the office job, I feel like I’m on my way out, slowly but surely. I’m in the process of writing my first graphic novel (something that I wanted to do a while ago, but convinced myself it was too hard). I also started training again and started a parkour podcast just for the fun of it.
I even made a Zen Pencils-inspired comic about parkour and getting a “real job” adapted to a quote from the Outlaw Star anime (a few panels below).
Thanks Gavin, you were a big inspiration for my artistic comeback!
Awesome work Brian – Good luck with the art and crazy acrobatics! You can check out Brian’s art blog here.