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College Update

Hey readers. For those of you who wanted to know the verdict: I have been accepted into the BYU Animation Program! I submitted my portfolio on the 15th (literally six minutes before the deadline), and was officially accepted on the 23rd. As soon as I had recovered from the shock, I posted the news to social media, and received overwhelming praise and support. But I haven’t yet written about it on my blog.

My art doesn’t usually get this much attention. I created dustlander.wordpress.com back in February 2015 because a girl called me stupid for liking her art (sound familiar?). It was totally a spite thing; I told myself I would be a better artist than her. And it might have been a bit of an overreaction, but having this completely unknown personal blog kind of defined my entire high school experience. I was a total loner, but my friends supported me despite my weirdness. I checked the site’s analytics constantly and got high off of pride anytime I got more than five pageviews.

The last comic marked the end of the Golden Age of Dustlander. Ha, maybe I’m taking this way too seriously, but still. Moving to Utah was really hard for an angsty kid like me. I found it almost impossible to draw until I started my first BYU pre-animation sketchbook in 2019.

I’ve dreamt of making cartoons for as long as I can remember. No, really. When I was maybe ten I realized that people actually get paid to do that and the hope never left my heart, especially when I got into the college of my choice. Part of me “knew” it was futile, that I would never be as good as my peers, that I should practiced more in high school instead of running that dumb website, that it wasn’t worth the risk. The doubt was so strong that at times I was terrified of even sketching or opening my project files. Being accepted into the program has done wonders for my hope, but I feel the doubt creeping back.

I guess what I’m trying to tell you, reader, is that your feelings may lie to you. If I “knew” it was futile to get into the animation program, how did I possibly get in? Doubt can cripple and destroy you. It can rob you of the things you love. But it doesn’t have to. My uncle Kyle says:

“You are the only person in this universe with the power to choose who you will become. Not even God can do that.”

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Assorted Characters

I’ve been drawing a lot. I’ve got a month until my application deadline and that’s about as stressful as you’d expect. Lucky for you, it means I have more material to throw on here whenever I feel like I need a pick-me-up. It’s nice to see your work displayed this way, y’know? (Why else would I still be updating this website?)

I get most of my ideas from music. Each of these characters popped into my head at one point or another while listening to some of my favorite tunes. First is Guy Sorenson, AKA Flyguy, inspired by Hans Zimmer’s wondrous work on Man of Steel. Then, upon another listen of The Poppy Family’s “Where Evil Grows” (featured in the Sonic movie) I thought of the reclusive and troubled Mister Grimstead. Anything Ironwood-related is largely informed by Brandon Flowers’ “Diggin’ Up the Heart”, so that’s how we get Christie Henderson. Reflector, I don’t remember where she comes from.

It’s been fun to do these little illustrations between projects. More on the way.

UPDATE: Added the lovely Miss Wellows to accompany Grimstead.

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IRONWOOD: Main Cast

Happy Friday! I’ve been teasing the reveal of some new characters on social media, and, well, here they are. They’re still a little rough around the edges, but I just couldn’t wait to share them with you.

Ironwood is an animated series I want to produce someday. If you’re a longtime reader, you might recognize a couple of these guys from concept art that I have worked on since mid-2015. Well, you can ignore all that now. I’ve revised the character designs and settled on a style that I feel is distinct, appealing, and simple enough for animation.

Here’s the main cast: Christie, Ted, Tommy, Vincent, Indigo, Liberty, and Guzman. These seven characters are caught up in a thrilling drama set in the town of Ironwood, Nevada. I hope to tell a realistic story that audiences can relate to, while exploring themes of hope and redemption. There’ll be plenty of action too!

More on this project as it develops!

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COMMISSION: Gundam Lady

Hiya readers! Tonight I’m posting the art on here much earlier than on social media. Only the true Dustlander fans are reading this right now.

This is a brand-new piece of art commissioned by a gal I knew in high school! It’s been fun and challenging to draw. You might think the design (a Gundam head on a human body) is a little strange, but it’s really grown on me as I’ve worked on it. It kinda reminds me of a BIONICLE mask!

Shoutout to the folks at Adobe who helped me recover this piece after Adobe Sketch glitched and deleted it about 20 hours in. I feel like I owe you guys!

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COMMISSIONS: the2parker and Electric Skyfish

Hi! It’s me again. I’ve been working on a number of different pieces as well as a bunch of coursework here at BYU. College is hard, but I feel I’m adjusting pretty well–and finding more time to draw to boot!

In between classes, I found the time to whip up these commissions for my good friends Parker and Jack (AKA the2parker and Electric Skyfish). I had a lot of fun on these, trying to make them are simple and clean as possible. I also tested out a new style here–a combination of leaky fountain pen and watercolor brushes that just screams “minimalism”. This will probably be my go-to format for commissions from now on, since it’s less time-consuming than my more refined black lineart and blocks of color.

In case you’re interested, these are $20 apiece and take only a day or two! It’s a steal of a deal. Just message me on social media or email me at dustlander@outlook.com with the details and a picture of yourself.

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COMMISSION: Young Performing Missionaries

Hey hey hey, it’s another commission after who knows how long! Well, not really… this one’s on the house.

I can explain. My family went to Nauvoo, Illinois this summer. If you didn’t know, Nauvoo is full of historical sites important to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, AKA the LDS Church, AKA the Mormon Church. I expected to be bored there, but instead I found myself quite entertained by Nauvoo’s Young Performing Missionaries, volunteers who put on all sorts of shows and paegants detailing the town’s history. They’re all so talented and full of energy, so Nauvoo is basically Mormon Disneyland! Needless to say, I had quite the spiritual experience there.

I also had the chance to see these five YPMs again after they got back from their summer-long mission! They graciously allowed me to sketch them, and I think I captured their likenesses pretty well. Remember, commissions are open, and these rougher ones don’t take too long, so hit me up!

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IRONWOOD: Vincent Cannon Busts

Check it out, everyone. I’ve had a couple of designs for Vincent Cannon (the protagonist of Ironwood) for a while now, and here they are.

The top-left version might be what he will look like in the Ironwood animated series (which isn’t real, but, y’know, there’s always hope). It was fun coloring Vincent in this relatively simple fashion, which I understand is necessary for this kind of animation. The three other designs are a little prettier, if only because I threw some paint on them in Adobe Sketch (rather than just doing blocks of color). You also get to see Vincent in various stages of undress–take that how you will.

These somewhat finalized Ironwood character designs take a while, but I hope to post more of them in the future… maybe even a full-body Vincent at some point!