How a Chinese brush is made?

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This morning a question popped into my mind: could I make my own brushes?

I have a tendency to try to make as many things as I possibly can on my own instead of buying them. Almost half of our wardrobe is made by me, I love making pickles, muesli, and some toiletries like deodorants and lip balms from scratch, I’ve started growing my plants from seeds instead of buying them, buttons, jewellery, tinctures, you name it.

So, now that you know about my obsession with DIY, you will understand that making my own brushes is not that far of a leap.

I started googling and finally found what I was looking for. And the answer is a resounding NO; I definitely won’t be able to make my own brushes :D

And here’s why:


This series of videos kept me mesmerized easily for over half an hour. And although the training, knowledge, and the tools required to make a perfect brush far surpass any time I could possibly commit to mastering this skill, I’m happy I got to see the process. If anything, learned to appreciate good quality brushes even more.

Check out this master at work, and if you know of any other similar resources and glimpses into someone’s craft, please shoot them my way either on facebook, twitter, or in the comments below!


We do everything together

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Yesterday I was in the middle of drinking my coffee when I reached out for my mug only to push it over, causing the coffee to spill around the table and my keyboard. And of course – like anyone reasonable – I shouted: “YAAGH!”

This, in turn, scared the hell out of one coffee drinking Kaija, who – like anyone reasonable – spilled her coffee all over the table and the keyboard, and caused her to shout: “YAAGH!”

After a frantic cleaning effort we had a good laugh about it, because like all other things in our life, we do everything together.


During our 8.5 year relationship we’ve worked 7 years professionally together. We’ve joined three companies as a couple and done freelancing as a pair. We’ve created RFR, and now Daughters of the Witch Queen, and we have plenty of evil secret projects that we’re saving for the future. We’re doing them all as a couple, because that’s how we work the best.

We’ve learned to work this way by going through plenty of painful failures. During the last three years both of us have worked on our individual projects alongside of RFR, in effort to push ourselves as storytellers, and also because we had the egos of unconfident artists, still trying to prove ourselves as individual voices instead of just doing good work.

And hence we did only bad work; our stories didn’t progress: they were lost in many rounds of rewrites and days of indecision. For a project to go forward, you need momentum and constant, even if only small amount of work on it.

Daughters of the Witch Queen was one of these projects that started as an individual project for one of us; it was worked on for the past two years, and it got nowhere during that time. It was stuck in an endless limbo, bouncing through meaningless changes back and forward – until we decided to team up.

Within couple of months we managed to figure out the story for multiple book parts, make decisions that stood, paint illustrations and get the art direction of the projection down. It’s incredible how much more you can do when you have a bouncing board and some kind of a confirmation if an idea is good or bad. Someone to talk about it, constantly brainstorm, and carry it when you just want to crawl to sleep.

The problem with doing side-projects (in our case, a second side project, since RFR is our priority side project) is that you can commit only so much of your brainpower to it. When we joined forces on this story, we figuratively put our brains together, forming one stronger, more confident brain, that in cases when one part of it was wavering and tired, the other kept going, constantly pushing the project forward in ways the other couldn’t even imagine.

It’s how we worked in the past, it’s how we worked with RFR, and the only way we’re going to work in the future. We learned our lesson not to try things alone. :)

And since no blog post is complete without pictures, here’s Kaija drawing concept art for the Dremor from Daughters of Witch Queen. Part 1 will be out on the 1st of March and is available for pre-order, if you’d like to be one of the first ones to read it.


Catch me at twitter @runfreakrun or drop us an email. We love hearing back from our readers, for you truly make our days.

Drawing On Everything

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If you don’t know Shantell Martin you should check her out. She is a New York based artist, who is known for her black and white marker drawings. They adorn anything from walls to furniture, objects and clothes, and are often done live in front of an audience.

I saw her Skillshare class: Draw On Everything, where she talks a lot about her process. Hearing artist’s thought processes is almost always fascinating, but Shantell’s was particularly eye opening: “Everything is one big mistake, and you’ve got to enjoy the process.”

Personally I’m tired of having a stick up my butt about not making mistakes when drawing. So I’m creating space for spontaneous drawing on anything that stays still for enough time to fill it with squiggles.

Armed with Krink pens, I’m taking the first step of spontaneous doodling by filling my drawing board:


Any permanent marker should do, but the Krink pens have been perfect for this. They write on most surfaces, dry quickly, and don’t come off. Not easily at least.


This first attempt didn’t go entirely without hiccups. You’ll notice in the video there’s a tad longer pause at about 01:30. That’s me turning to Silver and asking if he knows if you can clean out permanent markers easily because I think I ruined my drawing board, and Silver answering: probably not, time to go nuts. And I did. And I think I understand Shantell’s message. Sure it looked horrible at some point if perfection was the goal, but when you relax, give up on perfection, and instead just create a tapestry dedicated to mistakes, the outcome is impressive.

I love my new drawing board:


P1030528 small

P1030540 small

I love how other drawings look against the texture. It creates cool synergy.

P1030509 small


Shantell Martin:


Krink pens here!:





tweet tweet me @KaijaRudkiewicz

The Original RFR

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This might be confusing to you, but I promise if you read on you’ll find out why I put RFR and a gif of a cube shaped cat in one picture ;)

Titles are terrifying.

They’re supposed to be one or more words that will represent everything that your hundreds of pages of work have been trying to get at.

And it’s a paralysing prospect: in addition to being representative of the whole point of your work you want the title to convey the tone of the work, right genre, and hopefully not be too much of a mouthful at the same time.

During the year we took to prepare RFR before launching, we went through at least a dozen titles for the comic, none of which made much sense after a few days of commitment. “NEXT! Ok, this one is good. No, what were we thinking? NEXT!” Some were going for a wild west vibe (not sure why), some were as broad as can be (“Witch hunt”), and most were so unmemorable that for the life of me I can’t recall them now.

And this leads me to “Run Freak Run”.

During my college years I used to have an Etsy shop where I sold plush toys sewn by me. It didn’t exactly take off, but it gave us a bit of pocket money to… well… eat something else than plain spaghetti with a drop of soy sauce on top for flavouring.

All the toys were these weird, cute, colourful monsters with tongues and brains coming out from behind zippers and with “X” to mark their buttholes.

But the shop needed a name.

My approach to finding that name was to rifle through my seven shoeboxfuls of cd’s and brainstorm based on the song names. A mash-up of “Run Boy Run” (I can’t remember by whom, I’m pretty sure it was in a “Punk-O-Rama” cd) and “Freaks in uniforms” by Horrorpops became “Run Freak Run”.

I stopped running the shop when I got a full time job. The shop was empty for couple of years gathering virtual dust, the toys gathering actual dust, until in the year before launching the comic Silver said something along the lines of: What about reusing Run Freak Run? We already have a website for it, a shop set up, and it fits the story surprisingly well. That doesn’t actually sound like Silver at all, but you get the gist.

For better or for worse we went with it.


To give you a feel for what RFR was originally I photographed the toys we still have in the apartment and pulled some pictures from Etsy sales history.

I hope you enjoyed hearing this somewhat unusual origin story. How we came up with the comic itself is a tale for another day.


Group picture. There’s more, but they’re stashed in the cellar somewhere. 

_compilation small


These pictures are straight from the Etsy shop pages. We’ve come a long way with photographing products!



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6am, new apartment, and inking of course

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When you have too many things hanging by a thread all around you, Instagram will do in place of writing :)

I know I’m beating a dead horse, but I reiterate: moving’s a bitch

But at least we have a new pal bunking outside our window:

The spidey turned Silver into a superhero!

And our new routine is to get up at 6 in the morning and get our personal work out of the way before work:

One of the best finds for a while: “Comic epitaphs from the best old graveyards”. Some unexpected timing for humor :D

And a lot of inking:


On inspiration

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This was a hard one.

Somehow, somewhere I got fixed on the idea that I should write about inspiration. Something in my brain made me adamant that I have to write about one of the vaguest and most abstract emotions/force in the creative stratosphere. This was a tough one because when I started to question myself about the topic, I started to wonder what do I really know about inspiration anyways? I already had a hard time defining it for myself, so I was bound for a rocky ride. But hey, since my brain had already made its mind – I might as well try.


I think the first time I started to think this subject was couple of months ago, when I was e-mail interviewed by a student, and she brought up the subject of where I got my inspiration. It wasn’t the first time I was asked this, nor will be the last. To be honest, it’s kind of safe question with no real depth behind it since it simplifies the whole creative process, but I played along – not wanting to upset the student – and I listed a few authors, some artists, and history, and nature, and so on until the list was a just big collection of random names and events, and left me feeling very uninspired by it.

Not because the artists or creators were uninspiring, but because I felt like I left something unsaid. But the student was happy to get his homework done, I got my five minutes of meaningless glory, and so life went on.


But I couldn’t leave the matter alone.


Since then, I’ve tried to analyze and think harder what inspiration really is, and I’ve come to a few conclusions that I’ll try to share with you. Bare with me if it’s hard to follow, for I’m still figuring out things for myself.



1. Inspiration is potential.

little boy playing with toy soldiers


We all have these sparks of inspiration when we feel “Oh I could do this!” or “I want to start doing that!”. This trusting feeling that made you feel like you just found a meaning to life’s existence, your true calling. You get it when you see amazing youtube-drawing tutorials from beginning to end, you get it when you read about how to become an artist in a few easy steps, or when your friends tell you how they quit their jobs to follow their own lifelong dreams.


Inspiration is the feeling I get when I can see a clear goal broken down into tangible tasks that are easy to follow and fun to perform. That’s why it’s very easy for us creative types to blurb out names of other artists when asked about it; those artists symbolize something that we understand mechanically. I can break down a painting and recreate its essential points and compositions, just as I can do the sam with stories, and when I answer with just a name as my inspiration – it probably means that I have interest to someday, somewhere make something similar.


2. Inspiration needs action.


But that’s the thing about inspiration, if you don’t do anything about, it’ll just go to waste. Ideas are cheap, goes the saying. We can all come up with great, fabulous ideas for worlds and stories, but without the stamina and the mindset to sit down and perform, no one will ever hear about them. It’s easy to get the thrill of inspiration and talk to your friends about it, but then fall back down as you start to feel the pressure. I’ve seen it happen many times to good people, who lose their willpower after the momentum is gone, so make sure that once you’re hit with your lightning, don’t stop running until you have something to show for it.


When young artists ask me how many hours they have to paint per week to become a concept artist, I say at least twenty-five for four years. Some are terrified by this amount of work they have to do. But to be honest, it’s not too bad, just three-and-half hours a day. If you’re patient and smart, you’ll get there. But, imagine how good you’d be if you worked eighty hours a week. Just imagine.


For anyone wondering, during my student days, I painted something like thirty-to-forty hours a week. I always preferred to work smart, rather than excessively hard, and always towards to a balanced portfolio. My routine was to paint one really big painting per week, and then take few days off, and then start all over again.


Now, that I’m also studying writing besides my full-time concept art work, I wonder if I’m putting enough hours behind it. It’s my personal struggle that I try to balance with healthy eating, sleeping, and absolute lack of social life, and while I’m not working on it as hard as I used to work on concept art during my student years,. But I’m at least three times smarter now, and hopefully that counts for something.



3. Inspiration inspires.


Best part about inspiration, be it small or big, is completing it. Getting it done and gaining confidence, for when that next strike of inspiration comes, it’s so much easier to avoid getting depressed when you realize how much work it will require from you.


I advice you start with small tangible tasks and pump yourself full of endorphin and happy memories of one successful project after another, for when you start that big one, it’s a lot less daunting.

Now go do some work!


Special thanks to Kaija for the baby-photos. They were inspiring.


Tweet tweet me all your baby-photos @runfreakrun or leave a comment below!


Ode to self-learning

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Ode copyWhat can I say about self-learning? Well, I owe my job and my skills as a concept artist to being self taught.

I have no official qualifications to pursue any of my side projects or hobbies either. But who has? Picking it up out of interest and working at it as long as it makes you happy. Isn’t that the definition of a hobby anyways?

And with the hours you put into it and the research and learning you do, you get good at it. There’s no final exam before you can start working or gathering revenue from whatever it is that you’ve taught yourself.

I think the thing I most love about self-learning is that you can move at exactly the pace you need to move. You can either let the skill develop organically or (if you’re as goal oriented as I am) you can set deadlines and manage your progress through completing projects or breaking them down into tasks.

Self directed learning forces you to become a better problem solver, because information is rarely handed to you in a neat package. You either have to come to your own solutions or learn to find the answers you are seeking.

Whether it’s a hobby or a career path that you want to pursue, being self taught speaks of a passion deep enough that you’re willing to dedicate your time to it, whether it’s mornings, days, evenings or nights.

And finally it speaks of self improvement and a will to change.


*    *    *

Skillshare is one of my new finds in the self-learning category. It’s an online learning community with short classes on design, business and many other topics. You pay a monthly fee of $9.95 to get access to most videos on the site. With this link you can get one month free trial.

These are a couple of classes that I found and that I particularly liked. So much so, that they made me want to share this site with you guys:


Yuko Shimizu – Mastering Inking: Basic and Pro Techniques

This class is taught by a great Japanese illustrator, Yuko Shimizu. She goes through the basic setup for inking and reveals some nice tips and techniques along the way. More for beginners but still nice to watch, and I too leaned a couple of new things.



Seth Godin – The Modern Marketing Workshop

Seth Godin will give you a look into the mindset for thinking about marketing today and provide a framework of rules to get you started. I liked this class a lot, especially the two case studies he talks to towards the end and I found it easy to apply what I heard to my way of thinking.


Anya Ayoung Chee – Garment Construction: Introduction to Draping

I love fashion design and I like sewing my own clothes whenever I have the time. Anya Ayoung Chee, who won the 9th season of Project Runway (both me and Silver are crazy about that show) shows the basics of draping and then transferring that to a pattern and a finished garment. Again, this is more for beginners, but even knowing this much you can already apply that knowledge to a vast amount of designs. I would recommend it if you have any interest in sewing!


James Victore – Radical Typography: What Do You Have to Say?

James Victore is an art director, author, designer and filmmaker. In this class he teaches to think of typography not as a typeface composition, but as a strong way of expressing those powerful thoughts that deserve to have an impact. Letting go of perfection and thinking of creative solutions to every problem.

Suffice it to say, it got me pumped up!

Skillshare_James Victore

Tell me if you checked out any of the classes or if you have any thoughts on self-learning. You can do that through twitter or here in the commets below :)





Kaija’s guide to coffee

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“The elegant way to pour water”

“Pouring with passion!”

Silver always says that coffee is the best thing in the world. Right after me, that is.

Coffee marks one of the highlights of his afternoons, and allegedly when that perfect cup of coffee is made by me, it makes it taste that much better. And so, me brewing the coffee has formed into a kind of daily tradition. By default, that also makes me the coffee master at our house, and I don’t take the title lightly.

I like the thought of perfecting that cup of coffee and experimenting with different tastes and brewing methods instead of doing it the easy way – straight from a box. I simply like the ritual of buying your own beans, grinding them and brewing. There’s a kind of magic in that process.

The good news is: it’s not a hard skill to learn. You just need some basic equipment and a place to get coffee beans and you’re good to go. As a fairly cheap first investment I’d recommend a burr grinder and a french press. And lets not forget the beans. We buy them in the greatest smelling coffee shop here in Frankfurt. The fragrance in there is so amazing, that it causes me to fantasize of diving into a pool of coffee beans and swim in them à la Skrooge McDuck.

Apart from loving the fragrance, I myself am not a coffee drinker. I love drinking tea the most, but through experimentation with Silver’s coffee even I have found certain types of coffee that taste delicious to me. Blue Mountain beans form India are to die for and Ethiopian Sidamo comes as a good second. Both of these are high on Silver’s list too, although he is more open minded and probably would list many more varieties that he loves.

Now, learning about different beans has been a long hit and miss process, and even now I’m not too much wiser that when we started. But I feel I am past the point where I randomly pick beans just to see how they differ from the last batch we bought. I wanted to do some information digging to get a better understanding of the dozens of choices that are out there. Eventually, I feel I pieced together a comprehensive enough picture of some basic information and I’d like to share it with you in a form of an infographic.

Maybe it’ll give a good starting point to other thirsty information seekers out there. See what I did there? ;)


Coffee infographic3


And now a demonstration from the Coffee Brigand himself:

“The coffee brigand strikes again”

“The coffee brigand strikes again!”

“Press it!”

“Press it!”

“Pour it!”

“Pour it!”

“Stirr it!”

“Stirr in honey!”

“Drink it and enjoy!”

“Drink it and love it!”





Tell me all about your coffee dreams @kaijarudkiewicz or comment below!

Greetings from Amsterdam

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Last month we visited Amsterdam. I’m not big on travelling, which seems to set me apart from the general consensus about travelling being inherently good for you, but I can enjoy a weekend trip here and there and even I, the malcontent traveller, have a list of places I want to see. Amsterdam was certainly on that list and this was our second trip there.

Our first trip was about two and a half years ago, when Silver organized it along with Amanda Palmer concert tickets as my birthday gift. Same as this time, we kept it short, couple of days of walking around and trying to visit some of the “must see” sights of the city.

This time we tackled the city with no particular plan in mind, having done the mandatory museum rounds on our first visit. This meant a full day of wandering around with nothing but Silver’s sense of direction to guide us and a plan to make some gifs instead of photos driving us.This plan ended up having a happy ending, thankfully, as you can probably figure from the flurry of movement below.

It takes a lot longer to edit gifs, so they won’t replace our photos anytime soon, but it’s a fun stunt to pull every once in a while!

I feel like our trip got published in the Daily Prophet.











And that’s it about that!


Say hi in twitter @KaijaRudkiewicz

Never grow old.

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I am on a holy mission.

I am on a mission to stay forever young and vigilant, forever excited and positive about life and what it brings, and my only nemesis is called growing old.

Now bear with me for I don’t mean any harm against aging – I’m all for aging and I can’t wait to be smarter, wiser, and more handsome in a way that only a fine aged wine or whisky can be. You know when you see it with some people, and you can’t but admire them.

This has nothing to do with age.

What I am against is the dreading sense of feeling jaded, as if growing old was sucking out all the adventure and surprise out of life, and I don’t like it.

I believe that life should be lived unconventionally. I want to live in an environment of fun and play, where experimenting and dreams rule the day. Where even the craziest of whims get unconditional support, and ambition and greed is not only rewarded, but expected.

And I believe it has to start with the little things in life. Here is a small list of fun, exciting things that we do to keep ourselves challenged.

1. Get a ping pong table.

And get rid of that old dining table! Sure it takes a lot of space, so much we that we had this feeling of “We’ve made a terrible mistake” when got the box home, but it has been all worth it. Trust me – there’s not a person in the world who’s not going to be jealous of it for Ping Pong is not just a great game, it’s also a fun form of exercise.

Sure some may claim it not to be, but they are filthy liars.

ping pong ping pong ping pong

Best fun ever!

Also try: Billiard tables.


2. Write on walls.

Just go for it and be a kid again! What’s the worst that can happen? There shouldn’t be anything so sacred in the wall that you couldn’t make a little mark or two on it, and if there is – I recommend you reconsider your relationship to the wall paint. Worst case, you can always repaint it.


“Bla bla bla bla blaa!” Says Kaija.

3. Learn a new skill.

We thought making a webcomic would be easy; moderately time consuming, but easy. Little did we realize that we weren’t just making a webcomic anymore, but we also had to learn to write blog posts, get groovy with social media and marketing practises, learn graphic design and understand web tech stuff –  all the while trying to better ourselves as storytellers and artists. It has been scary, frustrating and mind-blowingly confusing at times, but if I’d had to start all over again, I’d do it in a second.


Starting something new and massive is supposed to be scary and difficult, you’re supposed to be filled with self-doubt and dread, for learning is challenging. But out of all the little things, it’s also the most rewarding experience of them all. It will take you to places you never saw coming; you’ll meet people who you admire, with similar passions and mindsets and it will always keep you on your toes, for learning never ends.

Unless you decide to stop learning, and grow old instead.



Never grow old with me @runfreakrun