In the eighties I was captivated by the film "La Bamba".  It was the story of Ritchie Valens, his music, personal life, and his aviophobia (fear of flying).  Towards the end of the film you see the small plane take off into the snowy night with Ritchie and Buddy Holly.  If you are familiar with his story, you know that this was the plane ride that claimed their lives.  Watching that film for the first time was life changing, and one thing stuck with me...small planes + bad weather = the end.


Fast forward twenty years, I was in Seattle for a search marketing expo. The entire expo was about search engines, website conversions, social media and analytic's -  not a place for a designer to get his creative juices flowing!  Fortunately for me, one of the booths at the expo was featuring an artist drawing portraits, these portraits were the typical big head and goofy glasses kind. I stood and watched the artist as he drew effortlessly and with astonishing speed. I could smell the graphite from his pencil as the artist banged out drawing after drawing. Watching the artist really got me thinking about picking up a pencil and actually drawing on paper again.

When the day ended I quickly grabbed a cab and headed over to the airport. I arrived at my gate, and could see the rain streaming down, smearing the airport windows.  My gate number was called for boarding and the small group of ten headed through.  As we ran outside to the plane, they made us wait in line as the crew did some final checks. As I waited I myself inspected the plane, the small passenger plane, the one which was about to take-off into the stormy skies.  It was that moment that the scene from La Bamba came rushing back, the equation that meant the end...


The loud engines roared, and we began our ascent into one of the most turbulent flights I'd ever been on.  In between bumps I sat in my seat thinking, if this was the end, what would I regret?  As I reflected on the last couple years, I realized I really missed being creative for myself, doing experimental work to fill up my creative tank. Ever since I had started my company, I'd been using my design skills to help others.  I was just a tool fulfilling their vision.  I realized I needed to get back to creating for myself.

We landed and (feeling very thankful) I grabbed my carry on jumped out of the plane and into a cab. While in the cab I brainstormed about my first project, and I knew I wanted to mix traditional drawing with digital somehow.

This was the very first portrait that spawned my Digital Drawing collection. The drawing was a milestone for me, as it really made me understand the importance of keeping up with personal projects to allow for creativity to stay abundant and fresh. 

During my explorations with this piece, I found a style of drawing that worked, figured out the digital process that would be required, and the colour theory for the style I was after. Drawings #2 and #3 (shown below) came shortly after.