Just a reminder about my SF meet-up tomorrow night, 16th July at 7.30pm. There’s been a venue change, it’s now at Autodesk Inc, Pier 9. Hope to see some of you there – there will be free signed posters! More details here.
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.
My name is Adam, I’m 27 from Roanoke, Virginia, USA. A year ago I was in a fairly dark place in my life, because a couple of years before I had finally given up my passion and dreams of studying the law, convinced for a variety of reasons that I would never get to law school. Instead, I resigned myself to working dead-end jobs and contract work I hated. I did my best to shoulder this idea that I could never really live the life I wanted, and as I became more and more settled into this belief, I spiralled downward in outlook and attitude. I began to drink heavily and spent my days indoors away from people, always finding a plethora of excuses for not pursuing any of my passions, cutting myself off from potential friends and relationships because it was safer that way. Then in midsummer of 2013, my wife of six years (and she was my sweetheart since high school) came to me, told me I was not the man she married, and walked out. In the wake of this, I lost my job, and it seemed like my life was well and truly over.
It was about this time that I came across a Zen Pencils comic.
The poem The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost had always troubled me. I loved the passion expressed in the poem, yet feared its meaning: that I would pick the wrong road. It was a secret fear of mine, this choosing of the path. What if I picked a path I was not satisfied with? But then I saw your drawing, and another interpretation blossomed before me. The poem says that the passage on each path “had worn them really about the same”, and I realised “the road not taken” was not a call to a particular path, but instead a call to action. The path not taken was making a choice, any choice, rather than sit withering away in passivity, as so many of us do because it’s easier.
So I made a choice. I sent an application to a paralegal program and enrolled in school with the goal of preparing for law school like I had always dreamed of doing. But the story doesn’t end there.
I struggled for months to get a job and cope with the fact that my wife had left me. My depression was very deep at one point, and then I came across another Zen Pencils comic, Stephen Fry’s Ultimate self-help book. I, like the character in your comic, was an avid runner who used to be very good at it. And like the depressed man in the story you drew, I was in my prime in my school days past, and like him, my self-pity destroyed my marriage (to a beautiful redhead, no less). When I saw the poor, pathetic man in his bathrobe sitting in the dark, gazing at a picture, the parallels were staggering. His questions were the same as mine. His struggles were mine. And when I got to the end of the quote in the comic, I was appalled. But then he gets up, opens a window and puts on his shoes! I knew I had to do the same. It is “bloody hard” to stop feeling sorry for yourself, but it is also bloody well worth it.
Because I enrolled in school, I got a call for a job that I enjoy: working in a law office. School is going great. I’m making friends. I am getting into the best shape of my life. And I am applying to law school at the end of this year. I now keep the Shaolin monk’s climb up the mountain with his Emerson quotes pinned up at work as a constant reminder to challenge myself everyday, and when people ask about him, I tell them about the “road less traveled”. I tell them that, like Joseph Campbell suggested, I am “following my bliss.”
I have taken the road less traveled and now I truly believe it will make all the difference.
Thanks for sharing such a personal message Adam, and what an incredible story! I wish you the best of luck with your upcoming law career. Seriously, what can a guy say after receiving an email like this? I never in a million years thought this website would have such an effect on readers. Besides inflating my ego to ridiculously obnoxious proportions, reading all these wonderful stories really energises me to keep creating better comics for you all. As always, thanks for your support.
As an added bonus, here’s a lengthy interview I did with the wonderful Brené Brown! Yes, she contacted me after seeing the comic I adapted from her quote and asked me to be part of her Daring Interview series. What an honour! – Gav
My name is Emily and I’m 19. I found Zen Pencils through a friend posting it on Facebook. The first one I ever read was the fable of the Two Wolves, and from then on I was hooked. That was about a year ago. The powerful messages in each comic have always caused me to pause and take a closer look at this crazy world around us, but I’m writing about how your comics have recently inspired me to take action.
I was scrolling through the archives and I came across the Christopher McCandless quote. I’ve read Into the Wild before and not thought much of it, but your art brought it to life in a way that I had never thought of before. I’m a sophomore in college now, and despite that I have not had the chance to live under a “new or different sun.” I’ve lived in California for most of my life, traveled a bit when visiting family in China, but for the most part I like to stay in my comfort zone where I know the language and the people well. I’m currently in North Carolina for college which is the furthest I’ve been for any extended period of time.
That comic made me think about my situation long and hard, and guess what? Now I’m headed to Tanzania this summer and Costa Rica in the fall to continue my studies in education and global health. At our school we have a summer civic engagement program, and the one in Tanzania is 15 weeks long and focused on teaching children, improving their literacy and writing through photography and the visual arts, which the photographer in me is super excited about. The Costa Rica placement is a semester-long science and public health learning experience. I’ll be doing research, providing health care to villages and practicing real world applications of global health. Both programs have a heavy cultural immersion element to them and I’ll be doing home stays with local families.
I’m excited to learn Swahili and Spanish and thankfully my parents have been very supportive. Unfortunately, not many people in my immediate friend group are studying abroad so I will miss them and home. But there’s so much out there to see and I know they’ll be there for me when I come back. I hope to carry this spirit with me in doing more in the future, maybe even joining the Peace Corps. Part of me can’t believe I’m doing all this, and part of me just can’t wait to get started. I just wanted to say thanks and let you know that Zen Pencils played a big role in all of this.
What a fantastic story. Emily sure has more guts than I did when I was 19 – I wish her the best of luck and I’m sure she’ll have a life-changing experience.
Hi there – just thought I’d share a recent freelance job I did. Normally I avoid ‘mercenary’ work if I can afford to, but this opportunity was too good to pass up. I was asked by the American PBS network to create an original ‘Zen Pencils-style’ comic to help promote the airing of THE TRIALS OF MUHAMMAD ALI – a new documentary about Ali’s exile years. If you’ve seen my three-part Muhammad Ali comic series you would know that he is one of my heroes and the chance to help promote this film was an honour. You can read the comic here and also see some poster quotes I did here. If you’re in the States, make sure to watch the film on April 13 (I’ve seen it and it’s great).
This job is the reason Zen Pencils updates have been taking longer than usual. Now that it’s done, I’m eager to put all my energy back into this website, where it should be!
Ah, I love when Zen Pencils inspires others to make good art. A couple of lovely couples in love have lovingly completed projects inspired by my CS Lewis To Love at All comic that I absolutely … love!
Before you scroll down, you should read the comic so the rest of this post will make sense. I’ve had such positive feedback from the comic and I’m really honoured that so many of you relate to it. And don’t worry, I haven’t forgotten about the cartoon couple. I know their relationship is currently up in the air, but there will be definitely be a part three in the future.
Ok firstly, Zen Pencils readers Eric and Armi loved the comic so much it inspired them to use it as the basis of their pre-nuptial video. They’ve made a super-cute and funny version of the comic starring themselves. The video made me smile so much and they’ve managed to capture the humour and heart that’s in the comic. I might have squirted out a few tears while watching it (I ain’t afraid to admit it). Check it out and congrats to the both of them!
And secondly, super-talented photographer and Zen Pencils fan Moriah did a photoshoot with her boyfriend Matthew based on the comic. Moriah had gone through a tough break up before she found love again with Matthew:
“When my boyfriend and I met a year ago I found it so hard to trust again, and yes, to be vulnerable. When I came across your cartoon I felt that it perfectly illustrated my own heart ache and the experience I went through. I immediately emailed the link to Matthew, and said, “this is you and me.” Then there was an exchange about my red hair and the fact that Matthew also likes to wear bow ties, similar to your characters. We both felt such an affinity for this cartoon that I decided to create a styled shoot inspired by it.”
Beautiful stuff! Visit Moriah’s blog to see the rest of the pics and more of her work.
Zen Pencils readers are the best – am I right or am I right? Leave a comment to let me know if Zen Pencils has motivated you to unleash your own creativity!
Hey gang, I’m going to be a bit behind for the next couple of weeks due to some freelance work I’m doing. Part two of The Artist/Troll War should be out early next week. In the meantime, here’s a long overdue Reader of the Month to get acquainted with. Meet 23-year old Benjamin from San Diego, who says Zen Pencils has given him the kick in the butt he needed to start working on his passion for music:
I’ve been working boring jobs and playing video games my entire life. I’ve been toying around with the idea of being a musician since high school, but never had the confidence to step out of my comfort zone and actually try my hand at creating music professionally.
Then I ran into Zen Pencils. I was so in love with the worlds you created around the quotes and poems. It made each word stand out to me. Before, they were just letters strung together to make coherent thought, and I didn’t put much value in them, specifically because I thought those quotes didn’t apply to me. I always thought I wasn’t the person that the speaker or poet was talking to.
But after going back through all of your comics, something started to make sense to me: These people were passing down knowledge from their own experiences in life, and the reason the quotes are popular or famous, isn’t because they are witty, or because they rhyme, but because they speak from a place of truth that the old cliche’s can’t describe accurately enough. As I started to accept these quotes and poems as anecdotes and testimonials for success, I started to make changes in my own life.
I no longer play video games for five hours a night. I no longer sit at work staring at my Facebook wall, hoping someone posts something funny for me to like. I’m active now. I have been watching every single songwriting video on YouTube. I’ve learned how to compose and arrange songs, how to develop melodies, and how to turn simple ideas into song lyrics.
After reading the John Green Make Gifts For People comic, I realised that getting into the music industry was not about making a successful hit record and being a millionaire. Instead, it’s about creating a message for people who you wouldn’t normally get the chance to talk to. Creating the song is not about the money, but about the gift you can give to others. Money is just a side effect.
I’ve started taking classes online about music composition and theory and am now working on a concept album about motivation. The genre is hip-hop, and it’s heavily influenced by Jurassic 5, Childish Gambino, Watsky, and I would be lying if I didn’t say The Beatles. I’ve started networking and researching the next steps to take my production to the next level.
This whole experience has been eye opening, and I want to share my process with the people who are in the slump that I’ve been in for most of my life. And music will definitely give me a platform to do that.
In all honesty, I want someone to come to my work of art, like I did to Zen Pencils, and take something valuable away from it. I want to be an inspiration for others, and the only way to do that is to be inspiring.
So thank you for being awesome. Thank you for doing what you do. Thank you for showing others what it takes to be self-motivating and most of all, thank you for giving my life meaning.
Wow, that’s the kind of email that would leave anyone speechless. You’re very welcome Benjamin – thanks for sharing your story and best of luck with your music!
You can go check out all the previous Readers of the Month here if you need more happy sauce.