Blackout Poems

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A faded  version of  an amused  feeling

A faded
version of
an amused

Last time I posted a blackout poem for you guys was around half a year ago. To be honest, I haven’t been doing much of those for a while now. Distractions, obligations and little time tends to come between people and their guilty pleasures. Yesterday, I picked up a pen, a book neither me or Silver mind destroying and started looking for words, meanings, abstractions waiting to be put together and stories to be taken apart and reassembled. In short, I did a few blackout poems and had a blast doing so.

I noticed I never explained where the whole blackout poem concept came from. A year or two ago either me or Silver stumbled on Austin Kleon’s work. In his own words he is a writer who draws. He’s published three books: “Steal like an artist”, “Newspaper blackout” and the newest addition “Show your work!”. He also posts blackout poems on his blog and among other talks he’s given a TEDtalk on this very subject.

He is very generous and open about his process and talking about creativity, taking a very practical view instead of dressing it up in mystery. Not surprisingly his work inspired us to give blackout poems a go. We were on a roll, and filled multiple square meters of our walls with funny, thoughtful or just plain weird poems. If nothing else, they make for an interesting wallpaper and it’s time well spent.

The ghost of the wrong room.

The ghost of the wrong room.

The coming alive was slower than usual; This was a bitter contrast to the pleasant, indifferent poison.

The coming alive was slower than usual;
This was a bitter contrast to the pleasant, indifferent poison.

The doomed fool had taken the burden of guilt of hell many years ago

The doomed fool
had taken the burden of guilt of hell
many years ago

What writers write is a judgement on fiction actually worth saying.

What writers write
is a judgement on fiction
actually worth saying.

Find a tale of wonder. Fall under the spell a little bit.

Find a tale of wonder.
Fall under the spell a little bit.

I recommend you to familiarize yourself with Austin Kleon’s work, blog and talks. Maybe it’ll give you ideas for projects of your own. If not, it’s still interesting to explore the amount of ideas he puts forward.



What is the first creative moment you remember?

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One of the weirdest and most entertaining Christmas presents I've ever gotten. I'm loving it!

One of the weirdest and most entertaining Christmas presents I’ve ever gotten. I’m loving it!

So, it’s almost Christmas for everyone else, but we’ve already had our celebrations with friends, we bought our Christmas tree about two weeks ago and we’ve torn through every last one of our presents. Spreading the festivities over a dozen days, ending with some more Christmas food on the 24th, has been a nice ending to the year.

One of my Christmas presents from Silver was Twyla Tharp’s book “The creative habit: Learn it and use it for life”. I’m reading it now and I’m enjoying it immensely. It’s my kind of a book. Not only it portrays a creative person’s worldview, but it also involves self exploration and breaking down and evaluating her habits and tendencies. I love that she isn’t giving a 1, 2, 3-guidelines to being creative. Anything you can boil down to couple of bullet points is bound to be simplistic. Instead, she takes a more philosophical approach to a multitude of aspects of creativity that she has found important. The ideas she’s put forward so far (I’m not even halfway through the book) are interesting and a great jumpboard for further thought and interpretation.


In the name of taking the time to understand your own “creative DNA”, as she calls it, Twyla Tharp came up with 33 questions that could help in unearthing some answers. I tend to not think much of questionnaires, but she had earned my respect by then, so I gave it a go. The very first one gave me an interesting conclusion: “What is the first creative moment you remember?” I had to pause for a moment to sift through my brain, but I did come up with an answer. I must have been around four years old. I remember sitting at a corner table in kindergarten. In front of me is a messy pile of drawings, next to me sits an older kindergarten teacher. I always thought of her as the grandma of the teachers and I liked her a lot. She was calm and unobtrusive. (The overly lively ones always made me a little uncomfortable.) We sat at that corner table together, in silence and drew or did some crafty stuff for hours.


So that’s the first memory I can recall, but what struck me as surprising was that I can’t remember what I was doing, apart from the vague notion of it including a pen and a paper. The drawing didn’t seem to be very important. The strongest element of that memory was the total feeling of calm. Calm from solitude, calm from concentration – calm from just being allowed to be in my head. It’s the same feeling I have now when I draw or write and it’s the same feeling I had as a kid while drawing.


From as early as I remember I was encouraged to draw, and was left to myself while doing so. Not only was this an acceptable kind of antisocial behavior and consequently a lifesaver back then, but what I take out of this is that drawing was, and is just the means to an end. It provides a place where I can tune out the outside world and tune in all the stories I want to be able to tell, put feelings into words and break down experiences. The actual process of putting down a line is not as mesmerising to me as taking my thoughts and getting them out of my head and feel them materialize in front of me. Whether it’s drawing or writing or something else in the future, it shouldn’t matter that much. Or, I hope it won’t.

What is the first creative moment you remember?



On Digital and Physical

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Two of those books Kaija got me for Christmas. Best presents ever.

Tree of those books Kaija got me for Christmas. Best presents ever.

If I had to name my favourite things in the world, and I shall for the sake of this journal, I’d easily put books into the top three. Right after Kaija, not that she’s a thing, but she really does deserve a spot there together with fine artisanal coffee, not the regular stuff – for I have standards and so should you.

But this isn’t about coffee or Kaija, it’s about books and how, no matter what some people say, they are all wonderful in their all ways of existence, be it digital or physical.

I read a lot. And I like to buy books a lot in both mediums. And I feel like I’ve gotten enough insight on what makes both parties so great and where they have to improve upon. I also create and publish comics that are created traditionally but published digitally. It kind of makes me part of the industry.

Let’s start with the obvious. There’s nothing better than holding a beautiful book in your hands. You know it, I know it, everyone knows it. No matter how nice they make those Kindles, Nexus’ and iPads, they’ll never come close to the touch of paper or a well-designed hardcover. It will never smell like a new, unopened novel fresh from the printer, and you can never have the opportunity to fold edges to mark your progression, and leave a little cute bookmark there.

There’s also convenience in physical; I could spill coffee on my books all day long and nothing would fry.

And with digital, you will never feel the weight of a thousand-page tome as you’re holding it on your lap, in a bed, slowly swimming through it.

This is where physical books excel; every novel and comic is a different tangible experience where graphic and packaging designers can come up with new exciting ways to make the journey different and remarkable.

But that also has its cost. There’s nothing easier than to one-click-purchase through Kindle and have a digital book downloaded in a matter of seconds; ready to be read, ready to rock. And no matter where I am, I could potentially carry hundreds of digital books with me. I love the little gadgets that tell me how fast I’m reading on average and how many hours I still have left; it’s almost like a race and a doomsday clock combined.

And it’s cheaper too, which makes the consumer/book hoarder in me happy.

I’m also really fond of the buzzing community of writers and artists in the digital scene. They are practically giving out free ebooks and webcomics, and while they aren’t all national classics, they’re still entertainment and that’s what ultimately matters. Physical media is a restriction to sharing, and sharing is caring.

I admit that the whole industry is rapidly changing, it always is, but I feel like I’ve found a great groove with both mediums.

For presents, both to myself or others, I will get physical copies, for I want there to be a physical proof for the sentiment. Also, you can wrap it up nicely.

If I’m planning to read something out of curiosity, or receive a recommendation from a friend, then I’ll go full digital, for there is a chance that I won’t enjoy the book and I’d rather minimize the potential loss.

I will never, ever, not in a million years buy an art book digitally. Some people enjoy them just fine, and that’s cool, but my personal preference is that I want to hold it in my hands and show it off proudly.

I love comics, both digital and physical and so should you. My enormous dislike for comic book stores makes it very convenient to get it all digitally, but then I can’t use it as easily as an art reference. Scrolling through digital files in search for that one thing is worse than hell.

I dislike the presumption that digital for some reason should kill the existence of physical books, or the other way around for that matter. I get it that it’s financially easier to create and distribute digital products, but I always end up feeling like the argument for either side is always rather black-and-white and narrow minded, not taking into account that both can co-exist in the constant state of change and evolution depending on what the current trends and different purposes are.

Never the less, I will never give up one of my greatest joys in life; raiding bookstores in search for hidden jewels.  If you live in area close to a great bookstore, then I recommend you make your way there fast, to a genre of books you’ve never read or shown interest in before, like poetry, romance or biographies. And when you’re there, just pick the most appealing looking cover and just be surprised. You might get pleased, ecstatic, or even gravely disappointed, but at least you’re living a little.

And that’s more than most people do.





Also, check out the Run Freak Run e-book 1. We worked hard on it and we’re totally proud of the extra chapter in it and I think you should read it for it has mer-men and mermaids and rain and it’s very melancholic and sort of bizarre.

Double love,

Halloween’s origins

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Arthur Rackham (1867-1939)
The Witches’ Sabbath

I’m a person who’s never properly celebrated Halloween. The whole festivity tends to slide under the radar in Europe, or at least it did in Finland, where I grew up. Rather, for me Halloween is a funny pop cultural phenomena that I have only experienced through movies and stories from other people.

Tim Burton with Nightmare Before Christmas characters.

It looks like one of the most fun celebrations of the year though. It’s based on monsters, witches, bats and pumpkin lanterns! But it’s neither been a tradition for me, in which case I wouldn’t question my reasons for celebrating, nor do I know the origins of the tradition, in which case I could understand why I should be celebrating. So I’ve never participated. This year I wanted to rectify the latter.

To my delight, history of Halloween is full of stuff that I find appealing. It’s like reading a fairy tale. Or a book of fairy tales. In short, Halloween comes from an ancient tradition, and it’s origins can be found in Gaelic Ireland, around 2000 years ago. The festival was then called Samhain, roughly translated it means “summer’s end” and it marked the end of harvest season and the beginning of winter. Animals were brought down from their summer pastures for the winter and spirits and gods were given offerings of food and drink for good luck.

The eve of Samhain was believed to be a liminal time, the moment when division between this world and the otherworld was at it’s thinnest, allowing spirits and the dead to pass through and walk among the living. Bonfires were lit to protect and cleanse, as well as in symbolic imitation of the sun, to hold back the approaching darkness of winter. Costumes and masks were worn for safety reasons, to trick harmful spirits into thinking you were one of them. Other precautions against mischievous spirits included simply staying indoors, or if forced to venture into the darkness people turned their clothing inside-out or carried iron or salt to keep them at bay.

Samhain also appears in many Irish folk tales as a moment when important events take place. These seem to be mostly invasions, kings making child sacrifices, magic, and deaths. Loads of deaths.

I found some quite disturbing vintage Halloween photos. I love them!

Mutants and monstrosities. An awesome bunch.

Best hag costume I’ve seen so far. And does the creature in the middle have sunglasses on?

The tradition of jack-o’-lanterns seems to be a bit more recent tradition. It has been tracked to the 19th century, when trick or treaters carved out turnips to act as lanterns and the carved faces to represent evil spirits and to protect against them while walking outside.

In the 9th century, the Roman Catholic Church shifted the date of the “All Saints” or the “All Hallows” day to November 1st and over time customs of Samhain and All Hallows mixed and merged, taking it closer to modern Halloween.

The tradition of Halloween finally appeared in America in the 19th century, when the Irish emigrated there in huge numbers. In the late 19th century an effort was made to mold Halloween traditions more into neighbourly get togethers, and Halloween parties became the most common way to celebrate the holiday. At the beginning of 20th century Halloween had already lost most of it’s superstitious overtones to family friendly activities.

Creepy, creepy, creepy.
It’s the vacant eyes…

For some reason these are my favourite costumes of the whole collection. They’re so terribly sad looking…

It’s not all doom and gloom :)

All in all I found some of the most capturing history, myths and holiday traditions in Halloween. And I was just barely scraping the surface of the information that’s out there to be found. Lastly, after the info-dump that I bestowed on my brain, I have made my final verdict: it’s high time for me to take up some Halloween customs.

I think I’ll start with a batch of skull cookies.


Writing your dreams down

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White notebook for a dream journal. For some reason it seems fitting.

White notebook for a dream journal. For some reason it seems fitting.

When I told Silver a weird dream I had, he made a connection to some weird short stories I’ve been writing from time to time. They have a very similar vibe.

This made me pause for a second to think it through. If my brain works similarly during the day as during the night, I’m letting a big chunk of possibly interesting stories slip through my fingers.

Couple of days later, armed with a new notebook and determination to remember all my dreams, I start a new obsession: a dream journal.

I actually tend not to remember my dreams. For some reason this fact didn’t enter my mind when I started. I’m guessing that the prospect of catching my brain during it’s most vulnerable time of making up stories on it’s own, was too exciting to remember the possibility of failing and hearing crickets for weeks on end before I remember a single dream.

Compulsory doodling on the first page.

Compulsory doodling on the first page.

The goal of writing the dreams down helped retain many bits and pieces. I’ve noticed that in the morning during the hypnogogic state, the state of being half awake while the dream is still going on, I’m already making an effort to memorize as much as possible. The result is, that I’ve only missed one night out of nine. Sure, sometimes it’s only couple of sentences, but other times it’s a full page of surreal stories.

I’m thinking, if ever a really good one comes along I can make a short comic out of it. Maybe in ten years I’ll have a bookful of them piled up. Other than that, they’re there for my own amusement.

Our dreams tend not to mean anything to other people. It can actually be annoying having to sit through somebody else’s story that has no significance in the real world and most probably makes no sense to the dreamer either. But I find it fascinating having my own dreams permanently attached to a notebook.

Some text from day 2 and short entries on days 3-6.

Some text from day 2 and short entries on days 3-6.





On Keeping A Notebook

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The more notebooks you have, the better you are. #wisdom

The more notebooks you have, the better you are. #wisdom

If you happen to be writing anything, then you’re probably keeping a notebook. Something you mark your ideas, dreams, songs and thoughts in to, and as you keep writing, you will probably end up having more notebooks that you ever imagined needing. And soon, as you keep filling the pages, book after book, you’ll forget what you filled them with in the first place. Good part is that when you open them up again, you’ll be transported to the exact moment when you wrote in the first place, but only this time, you get to experience it not as a creator, but as audience, and you can enjoy it objectively. Of course, unless you’re actually good – most of the time you’ll just be wondering: “what the hell was I thinking?”

Such is the routine of keeping a notebook.

And starting one was the best decision I ever made.

I agree, it has been frustrating at times. Most artists and creators that I know are humble people with extremely low confidence when it comes to their art. It’s funny; these are one of the strong and most achieved people in the world that can usually withstand any wave of struggle that life throws at them. They can solve any problem mindfully and intelligenty in times of agony and extreme annoyance. But when they’re making art, they’re as weepy and nervous as little babies on crack; on edge from the slightest critical feedback, as if the whole world has turned against them and hates them now.

Art has a tendency to pull out the worst of our egos, and I’m no different. I believe one is truly a master of her craft when they don’t feel the urge to prove or explain themselves to anyone. When they’ve stopped caring about the world and the approval of the audience, and only focus on their own enjoyment. People like that make revolutions happen.

Now let’s talk about the actual topic. I won’t make the claim that I truly understand my relationship to writing and keeping notes yet, but I felt like I wanted to share some of the aspects of my routine that I’ve learned in the past 1.5 years. I’m sure, that as I write more I’ll discover things I never imagined, but I hope that these little observations and tips prove useful to you, my dear reader.

1. Write constantly.

Write with different colors to mark the days work. It'll be easier for you to continue the next. I totally stole this tip from Neil Gaiman.

Write with different colors to mark the days work. It’ll be easier for you to continue the next. I totally stole this tip from Neil Gaiman.

I try to write 2 hours a day after work during week days and over weekends I try to write 5 hours a day. Together that makes 20 hours a week. If it takes about ten thousand hours to master a craft, I still have about 3000 days or about ten years to ago. It sounds daunting. It’s going to take a long, long time, but at least I’m trying. Getting there eventually is what matters.

2. Write with drawings.

I can't keep my thoughts together unless I draw them.

I can’t keep my thoughts together unless I draw them.

Sometimes I get new, better ideas when I do this basic storyboarding.

Sometimes I get new, better ideas when I do this basic storyboarding.

It also helps me to pitch ideas to Kaija, to show something we can easily extrapolate into images.

It also helps me to pitch ideas to Kaija, to show something we can easily extrapolate into images.

I’m a very visual person, I draw for a living and I think to best of my abilities when I’m drawing. Hence I draw a lot when I write. I just can’t keep it all together if I have an easy way to see and judge all the story beats and their relationship together. I applaud the people who have this innate talent to discover write their whole stories, but this method has proven to work the best for me.

I’m considering to make storyboards on postcards and putting them on the ground in the future, I’ve heard it to be a fun way to plot.

3. Sketch your references.

If you can't draw, then you can always just glue reference pictures to your notebook. Make it all hipster and shit.

If you can’t draw, then you can always just glue reference pictures to your notebook. Make it all hipster and shit.

I need to be able to visualize my characters before I can write about them, otherwise they exist as a blurry mess without any focus or purpose and I’ll just waste time trying to catch something that ultimately cannot be catched. Locking their essentials down will make the rest of their features and thoughts come easier. It’s also called concept designing.

4. Talk to your notebook.

Did you know, that writers are twice as likely to commit suicide? Figures.

Did you know, that writers are twice as likely to commit suicide? Figures.

When frustrated, when you notice something silly or when you’re lost with your thoughts – let your notebook know it! Write it down, for it’ll make you stop and rethink your purpose and objective. The same applies when you do something good. Let yourself know about it and congratulate yourself. This writing thing is not supposed to be so serious that you can’t be happy once in a while.

This brings us to one of the most important points:

5. Let your mind go free and make yourself smile.

Historically accurate Dino-dick cheers up anyone.

Historically accurate Dino-dick cheers up anyone.

We all have our demons that we need to free sometimes. Mine have genitals.

We all have our demons that we need to free sometimes. Mine have genitals.

There’s not a safer place in the world than your notebook. Let yourself go free and draw what ever demons you need to make yourself smile again. All this struggle to improve will take the fun and pleasure out of creating, so go nuts, go silly – and draw dicks every now and then to reset your mind.

Everyone has their unique demons; mine happen to be very provocative and confusing. If yours take the shape of a pony or a flower, then that’s cool too.

6. Write more!

Once upon a time, there was a boy who wrote. And he kept writing, rewriting and then writing again. And he was happy.

Once upon a time, there was a boy who wrote. And he kept writing, rewriting and then writing again.
And he was happy.

It doesn’t matter what pen, notebook or word program you have. What matters, is that you write or draw or create and one day, be the artist you want to be. We all struggle in our lives trying to fulfill our ambitions and passions, balancing work, family and hobbies. It is a hard journey to travel, but it could just be worth it.

Ask yourself, what do you want to be good at in the next five years and what can you do about it? And then do it.




Efficiency and imagination

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I had a conversation with Ramon yesterday, during which he quoted Marina Abramovic, a great performance artist, explaining the downfalls of a fixed workspace. A professional studio is essentially a very unnatural environment for creative thinking. Most of the time it is setup to enable an efficient output of work, nothing more. Except, creative work is always more than just a manual task. I imagine, that for most people the ideation part, the message, requires a very different environment. One where efficient output of quality work shouldn’t be the most important goal to reach at all times. Having that pressure from the setup of your workspace, while most of the progress is happening inside your own head, can be crippling.

Best thing would be to get out of the “producing work”- mode and let your thoughts wander making new discoveries that grab your interest. These ideas are the ones that have the potential to grow into something that you will obsessively work toward getting on your worktable, not the other way round.

This thought put into words something that I think most people instinctively gravitate towards. The way I work at home, as opposed to the office is a good example of this statement in action. Me and Silver are two self-absorbed people with an attention span that caters only to interesting thoughts, stories and conversations, and that has led to our apartment being solely organised to enable the creation of our own projects, most of which are still in a dormant state in our skull sized kingdoms. This otherwise mess of an apartment has all we need to transition between all the different stages of a project.

Inking comic pages does require a certain efficiency. That is where the workstation comes in. It’s perfect for polishing ideas, drawing final illustrations and making your work presentable. I love spending hours in there, drawing. But I feel like staying in that space would trap me into producing the same repetitive work and only let me hone the technical side of the process.

I never do ideation on my inking board. I have been instinctively avoiding it whenever I am coming up with new ideas. The inking table is for inking. A creative act in it’s own right, of course, but also a highly manual task. Whenever I am coming up with fresh ideas, writing, fleshing out thoughts and stories, I tend to retreat to a comfortable spot, most often the bed or a small bookshelf next to a window, covered in pillows for comfort. Anything that might serve as inspiration gets dragged in too.

Everyone probably has their own version of that spot, maybe it’s not even that far removed from the worktable. Maybe it’s only about switching from the computer to a notebook. Maybe it’s about switching off your phone and finding a quiet place to immerse yourself in your thoughts, knowing you are safe from interruptions. I feel like it is the physical change in my surroundings that lets me change gears from production to imagination.

_DSC0089 smallSilver took this picture couple of months ago. It’s one of my favourite spots for writing.

This weird picture illustrates my point perfectly: Salvador Dali in bed in 1964, projecting pieces of dirty paper “to stimulate his inspiration”.




Gig posters flip-through

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For a while now I’ve been making a poster design at the end of each chapter of RFR. It’s been something I always look forward to. Trying to condense the vibe of the chapters into one image feels like a neat final touch for each of them, before I move on to the next story. I have no graphic design background though, so I thought I’ll invest into some more research on the subject. We have our shelves full of illustration and concept art books, now is the perfect time to expand into new territories. I ended up buying Gig Posters Vol.1 and Gig Posters Vol.2. They’ve been a fun source of inspiration for me ever since. I took some pictures and made a flip-through video of both of them so you can get a better overview of the content.




_DSC0129 copy

_DSC0119 copy

_DSC0133 copy

_DSC0149 copy

_DSC0156 copy



Thumbnails, artists and blackout poems

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These scribbled thumbnails are my first step towards a finished RFR chapter six. They are a mess, I know, but in Friedrich Nietzsche’s words: You must have chaos within you to give birth to a dancing star ;)

I finished these last week, working painfully and tiredly during the workday evenings, trashing three thumbnails for every good one. Then re-did everything on Saturday in two hours after a well needed rest. Not a single one in the bin. That’s what half a day of blissful leisure can do to your brain. I’ll try to remember that in the future.


Yesterday I stumbled upon Eliza Frye through Tumblr. By now I’ve already read most of her comics and I highly recommend everyone to read them. They are in the form of short stories that will leave you staring vacantly and smiling for a moment after reading them. Beautiful stories, beautifully drawn.
Read them.



Also check out Jake Wyatt’s work. He is planning on launching his new, weekly webcomic “Necropolis” at the end of august. You can already find some test pages of the comic on his blog as well as his other work. It’s all eye candy!


I wanted to end this post with the latest blackout poem I did. Both me and Silver have been doing these once in a while for the past year. I thought maybe I should start posting them here, instead of just having them hanging on the walls.