Blog| The Importance of Pixar’s Coco

Last night I finally got to see Coco with Rony after waiting what seemed like forever. Simply: it’s my new favorite Pixar film and it’s the perfect example of how I wish all cultures are treated in fiction.

(This may be a little jumbled, but my thoughts are scattered right now.)

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A little background.

I’m a woman of color. My family has lived in the south pretty much forever, mainly Texas, so we’re pretty Hispanic. That being said, I didn’t grow up heavily in my culture. When we were babies, my parents moved away to Lubbock and away from the small town they grew up in. Charlotte is tiny and mainly consists of my family from both sides. It has one grocery store (that my grandparents started), one gas station, a library, and one main road. It’s a “driving through on your way to San Antonio” town.

11807567_10203646150394808_5512592928468078294_oLubbock and Charlotte are very different. My life in Lubbock was always more modern where we played video games, went to the mall, ran around with our bikes, and watched TV on the weekends. In Charlotte, you can barely get cell phone reception.

During the summer, we’d visit my grandparents and my sister would work in their store and I’d walk down the dirt road to the library. My grandpa taught us how to catch Tarantulas for fun (you fill their hole with water until they pop up. I didn’t say it was a humane way) and we would eat Watermelons from his giant garden or run across the street to the snowcone stand my uncle started. There were always a ton of stray cats or chickens running around in the road and I would play with them all the time.

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One of my most prominent memories was playing in the kiddie pool with my cousin and sister and my family skinning rabbits on the porch. The skin comes off entirely in tact so they looked deflated. For holidays, they would make menudo and barbacoa and I would walk into the kitchen and there’d be a giant, skinless cow head with it’s tongue sticking out. They would dare me to poke it’s big creepy eye.

But we didn’t really celebrate a lot of Mexican traditions. There wasn’t a Dia de los Muertos celebration (that I knew of) and even though my older relatives like my grandmother and some of my uncles and aunts knew Spanish, no one taught us. It felt like a divide between the old and the new. The kids only cared about their friends and new games. The older we got, the more the divide grew, especially with the kids from out of town.

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I would visit as a teen and I would just sit with my laptop and edit videos and write stories. I didn’t interact much with anyone. My grandpa had passed away, who I was closest too, and my favorite Uncle that I would hang out with had moved away to be an air marshal. The disconnect grew.

I haven’t been back in years. The older I’ve gotten, the more I realize the loss of that culture. I’ve talked previously about being ashamed of being brown skin colored and how when I was younger I wanted to be lighter. That need to fit in, to be like everyone else had already started. I didn’t want to be Hispanic. I was stuck in between. I got called a “coconut” which is basically the equivalent to “Oreo” for African Americans. Basically it’s someone who doesn’t fit into the mold of how you should act. It’s a bullshit term but most people of color have heard it enough to know what it means.

Getting involved with comics and fiction and Feminism, I’ve fought for representation without realizing I’ve never really embraced my own culture. I wanted their to be Hispanic, African American, Muslim, Asian characters but I still felt like an outsider in the Hispanic community. So we started trying.

Rony’s been learning Spanish so he can talk to his Grandmother without a translator there. We’ve been trying to learn our family’s recipes and traditional food. When we lost family members and animals, we started celebrating Dia de los Meurtos to help us cope. I learned more about the women and figures in our history. I learned not to be hesitant about accepting my Latina roots and how I look.

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When the trailer came out for Coco, we got excited. A major film was featuring our Hispanic culture with a Latin cast and actual Latin music AND it looked like they were actually going to be respectful. It was amazing. Then we started hearing the complaints. It’s a rip off of Book of Life, we already had a Day of the Dead movie, etc.

We saw Book of Life. I liked it, but it didn’t give me the same feeling Coco did and honestly, they’re COMPLETELY different. Rony and I discussed it on the way back home. Yes, they both have Day of the Dead settings, but complaining they’re too similar based on just that is like saying being moves are set during Christmas or Halloween then they’re all the same. Dia de los Muertos is a holiday. Why can’t we have more than one movie set during it?

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This past October, we went to Disneyland and they turned the Plaza into a Coco themed area. They had a female mariachi band play along with dancers and they would sing songs from the film. The crowd was majority Latin of all different types. Young and old, it was amazing to see them all enjoy this at Disney of all places.

They even had an area where you could write messages to your loved ones or memories about them and hang them on a marigold chain. I was amazed at how respectful everything was of MY culture. Because it was mine. The whole area was beautiful and the food was amazing. I almost started crying because it was something I didn’t think I’d get to experience. Representation and acceptance.

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When Rony saw Coco on Sunday with his family, he told me that sitting in front of him was an older Hispanic lady watching the movie by herself. She cheered and cried and sang along. There are a lot of jokes in Spanish and nods to the little things that almost all Latin families do. Tiny little things that make a character dimensional. He said that he would catch her crying and laughing and completely enraptured by the film.

We went the following day on a Monday night so the crowd was thin (because, you know, it’s a Monday night), but I could hear everyone’s enjoyment. The characters and family felt real and whole and not like stupid stereotypes. There was no Cholo or Chola or drunk uncle or sassy aunt causing drama. Their family was hardworking and together and despite the main conflict of them not allowing musicians in the family, they all supported one another and took care of each other. The importance of family was emphasized throughout the movie.

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My great grandmother passed away last week. She held the family together and was strong, much like the women in the movie. My Grandma Romo, her daughter, is pretty similar to the abuelita in the film, but not as crazy strict. She’s strong and tough and fierce. I saw my family in these characters. I saw myself in Miguel. Different from the rest, but still loved. On a different path, but still having support.

The story takes you somewhere different than most. It’s about sacrifice and acceptance and dealing with the consequences of your actions. It doesn’t hold your hand through the cultural references, but also does a wonderful job of explaining certain things without seeming handfisted. The characters are multi-dimensional and complex. There are a few moments that are heartbreaking and some wonderful laughs.

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It was also refreshing to see side characters actually willing to help rather than showing a cynical, “you’re on your own” world. In one scene, Miguel is in a competition because the winner gets to play at De La Cruz’ party. Stuff happens and he doesn’t get to accept or win but the actual winners are more than willing to help him later because they loved his music. They easily could have done the whole, “No, you lost, go away” situation and then have him like steal a costume but I like the direction they took. You help one another.

And as an artist, this film is gorgeous. It’s saturated in blue and oranges and color because that’s what the Day of the Dead is. It’s traditional to wear a ton of colors instead of black because you’re not mourning your loved ones but celebrating. You want to be happy and joyous and remember all the wonderful things about them and the memories. They talk about death and some dark subjects, but it’s never perceived that way. Death is just a part of the circle of things. We live and we die and it’s nothing to be sad about. The only sad thing is being forgotten.

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They don’t dumb down our culture in this movie. The family loves each other even when they’re different and any disagreements are always showcased in a protective or loving way. The abuelitas in the film are strict, but loving. If you’ve ever been in a Latin household, you know that though the dad is looked up to, the families tend to be Matriarchal. My own families on both sides are run by amazing, strong women. I do wish it was explained a bit why they are as they are, but it’s a tiny tiny complaint.

The movie presents our culture in all it’s wonderful, gorgeous splendor and I’ve never been more appreciative of that. Coco is a marvel and a gift to Latin culture. The music is a love letter and the little details are icing on the cake. Please see this film. It’s a work of art and I could not stop crying at the end of it.

Also fun fact, the soundtrack has all the tracks in Spanish included on it. So you can bet your ass it’s playing on repeat in our house.

Rony and I are going to be working harder to embrace our cultures. A lot like Miguel, I ran away from it in search for my passions, but by choosing one or the other you’re always going to be missing something. You have to find the in between. I’m a Hispanic female artist from a family of strong women that’s full of love. It’s time I accepted and embraced that.

And you can bet that we’re going to be putting more love into our Day of the Dead alters next year and making sure our ancestors and loved ones are remembered properly.

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Thank you, Disney and everyone involved in Coco. I’ve never been more happy with a film.

-Sam <3

PS. I didn’t mind the Frozen short. Don’t murder me.

 

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Holiday Season 2017

This week is Thanksgiving! Which means Black Friday is right around the corner and the holiday frenzy begins!

A lot of people are going to be headed out on Thanksgiving evening or Friday morning to hit the big stores for all the deals but remember that small businesses need love too. A perk of support small is that the money goes directly to the artist/owner instead of trickling down the line or going to a big CEO. That means you’re helping to feed families, artists, and showing that you can make something on your own.

Plus, now in days, a lot of small artists sell and promote themselves online or through Instagram. So you can shop from the comfort of our home and get personal, original gifts for your loved ones. And I think that’s a ton more interesting than a generic toy or shirt they’ll forget about.

Last year, I got Rony a commissioned art piece of our cat Pumpkaboo and it was amazing! He got me a small art piece of an adorable Cerberus that I love. Both of them are hanging on our walls. Things like that are memorable and make for wonderful gifts.

I’m working on getting the shop prepared and getting prints made of the new Inktober art. I’m also looking into painting a few small pieces and putting them up for sale so if that’s something you’re interested in, let me know!

I started a Society6! I’ve always wished I could offer more merch like mugs and shirts and bags and phone cases but that requires a lot of money (I’d love to do an enamel pin but that’s a dream for later). So by using Society6, I don’t have to worry about distribution and you can get my art on a variety of objects!

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Society6 will be offering a variety of sales for Black Friday but today until Midnight PST you can get 25% off everything!

If you’d like to buy directly from me though, I’ll be running a sale through the rest of the month! Everything is 20% off now until December 1st, including Pre-Orders for the Inktober prints! And if you buy 3 items, you’ll get free Domestic Shipping! So if there’s anything you’d like to grab, now is the time to do it! (And I may be doing some special sales on Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday as well)

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So please consider shopping small and supporting small businesses and local artists! When you do, you’re helping them pursue their dreams, support them making a living, and appreciating their hard work!

Happy Holidays and be sure to spend a lot of time with your friends and family this season!

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-Sam <3

Inktober 2017!

Guys, I’m really surprised with myself. Like really. I thought I wasn’t going to be able to do it but the most I was ever behind was one day and I would always make it up. I not only did all 31 days, but I did extra! Craziness!

So here’s a recap of all 31 images I did for Inktober!

 

I’m not in love with all of them, but I love most of them and I think I’ve gotten a whole lot better if you compare last year’s Inktober to this year. I will be doing pre-orders for prints, originals, and a sketchbook collection! If you’d like any of these, fill free to feel out this form! This helps me know what to order since ordering all at once would be very expensive.

Oh and those two bonus ones? Both from the Persephone prompt because I’m a nerd:

You can order them too ;)

Let me know what days are your favorite!

-Sam <3

Blog| Weekend Recap

This weekend was a busy one. Friday we kicked it off with our Lubbock Artist Collective Halloween Gallery reception on Friday the 13th. Yeah, pretty much a perfect date to have it. We had some amazing art from local artists in the collective and got to celebrate and eat treats and chat with our favorite people.

It’s been crazy to think it’s been one year since we started the artist collective but the art and progression of so many of the artists has been wild! It makes me so excited for future galleries!

Afterwards, Rony and I had a shindig at our house, had friends over, and got to share one of our favorite horror movies, The Babadook. Rony even has a handmade replica of the pop-up book from the movie signed by the director. It was fun and we got to play the Halloween expansion of King of Tokyo before hand as well.

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The next day was a lazy, errand running day which was capped off by going to a 7 HOUR LONG Horror movie marathon. Our theater, Alamo Drafthouse, did a 4 movie marathon called Dismember the Alamo and we got to see 4 old horror movies all at once. It was a trial.

I almost died. Rony fell asleep a bit in the last and best one. Some were good, some were mind-numbing. We saw Slaughterhouse, Eaten Alive, Grizzly, and Day of the Beast. The last was my favorite, mostly because it had a pretty good plot. I’m not a fan of dumb, bad gore, horror movies and Eaten Alive gave me a headache.

But we survived!

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Before

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After

Sunday we got up early, ran more errands like costume shopping, groceries, getting Almond’s presents and treats for her birthday party, and getting flowers. We were seeing our friend act in the Addams Family Musical and wanted to get her something and finally got to see the play!

It was wonderful. I’m actually a big fan of theater and musicals, Rony less so, but we both enjoyed it a lot and Alex was wonderful <3

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On the way home, we stopped at a Pumpkin farm and picked pumpkins, got ingredients for Almond’s cake and cupcakes, and finally sat down and finished watching one of our movies while I worked on my Inktober.

I ended up staying up until 1am making Almond’s cake and then making frozen pumpkin treats for her. Her and Leon got to lick the bowl and spoons.

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And now we prepare for Disneyland in a few days. I’ll be taking lots of pictures and will definitely make posts when I can! We’re all excited and anxious but what better way to see Disneyland than during Halloween season!

And of course, I’ll do an Almond party post too. My little baby is turning 2 and time flew so fast.

Until next time.

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-Sam <3

Inktober Week 1 Recap

Inktober has started and so far, so good! It’s been so much fun and I’m actually really liking my art so far. Plus, this year I made my own prompt list and people are actually following along! So let’s go over what I’ve made and then I’ll share some of the pieces other people have made from my prompts!

Day 1: Spring Witch

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Day 2: Owl

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Day 3: Bat

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Day 4: Summer Witch

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Day 5: Apothecary

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Day 6: Fall Witch

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Day 7: Crow

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Day 8: Tarantula

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The list is a mix of witches, magical items, and witch familiars! It’s been a lot of fun to interpret them and make some witchy designs, which I love.

Now here are some of other people’s art! I left their IG usernames on so you can follow them!


Spring Witch:

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Owl: 

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Bat: 

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Summer Witch: 

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Crow: 

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Winter Witch: 

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If you are doing Inktober, comment below with your Instagram! And if you wish to use my prompt list and want me to see your creations, tag me or put #Raicodoll and I’ll check it out!

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-Sam <3

 

Blog| Mood Board

Recently, I’ve actually been using my Pinterest. I’ve never been a big fan of it. It always felt hard to navigate and find original sources and you get five thousand notifications, which I hate. But it’s gotten better and I’ve found a few uses for it.

One of those uses is using it as a digital mood board.

I’ve seen a few different artists use it as such and it’s a much better solution than what I had been doing (saving each picture to a folder on my computer). You can use it for inspiration, references, and a general atmosphere guide. I’ll pin something because I like the style, colors, pose, face, or just so I can see how to draw something I’m not familiar with. It’s actually a great resource and I wish I had started to use it sooner.

So I thought I would give you a peak at what mine currently looks like!

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Day 2 of my Inktober prompts is Owl and I needed a good reference of a barn owl since I’ve never drawn one before. I ended up using the one on the top right and modified it to hold a branch and then used the double triangle shape since I’ve been in love with geometric designs lately.

I’m also starting my own apothecary cabinet at home and it’s one of my prompts so I’ve been pinning different apothecary set ups as well.

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I’m big on mermaids and long, tentacle like floating hair so I pinned a bunch of those as well as some hair designs and things I might use for paintings later. I’ve been trying to get better at drawing hair so I like to pin things in the style I wish I could draw in. The 2nd from the left on the bottom was mostly color inspiration!

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I pinned some pattern inspirations here and flowers because I’m always trying to draw flowers better. Some cauldron’s and cloche designs for inspo for later prompts. That Batgirl on the bottom right is gorgeous and I ended up pinning it for inspiration for future Ladies Night flyers.

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I’m big on skulls, horns, and creepy hand poses and pinned a few references I found. I had the idea of having a girl covering her face with her hands and drawing eyes in her palms and making her whole body galaxy colored with white lineart, but haven’t gotten to that yet. I also want to draw some creepy witch/monster hands for Inktober and maybe do another animal skull.

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And a lot of these are Persephone and crystals inspired. I want to draw a neat pomegranate with flowers and skulls for one of my prompts. And I absolutely suck at drawing crystals so I pinned some for reference. I’m doing a Tarantula with crystals growing out of it later and need to get my crystal game in order. And then of course more flowers because I have a problem.

I’ve only been using my mood board for a month or so but it’s already helped a bunch when it comes to inspiration and coming up with new ideas. I have a seperate board for clothing inspiration and things like that and I think I’m going to start pinning them in my mood board instead. I use it mostly for art anyways and I’m fashion challenged for the most part.

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If you’d like to check our my art board you can see it here! I pin more stuff as I need to and with Inktober, it’s probably going to get a lot bigger.

Do you use Pinterest for your mood board or do you use something else and what do you put on it? Let me know and share yours in the comments!

-Sam <3

October is coming!

Hello, lovelies!

Fall has hit and we’re just a few days from October madness. October begins my busy holiday season and believe it or not, it tends to be busier than December for me.

First things first, we’ve got Inktober!

What is Inktober? Simple:

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Inktober (and Drawlloween) are kinda a bit deal in October and is something I’d like to try again this year. I got to Day 18 or 19 last year and was super happy with the progression in my skill as I got use to drawing every day and producing finished pieces. And if you aren’t into drawing with ink, there’s Drawlloween which is essentially the same thing without the medium limitations.

Here are the official prompts for this year:

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I knew I had to get prepared this year. Last year the stress of doing a 3 show weekend, Inktober, Halloween festivities, and being in Seattle for about 5 days completely knocked me on my ass afterwards and I was not okay. This year I am determined to do better.

I’ve been sketching ideas and figuring out my own prompts. While I like the official ones, I’d prefer to do my own. I find that if I’m not super into the things I’m drawing, I’m less likely to push myself to do them soooooo I made my own prompt list.

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Feel free to follow along and share :)

In addition to Inktober we are also attempting our 31 Days of Horror Movies Challenge. Rony and I attempted it last year and no lie, it was hard. You essentially have to set aside up to 2 hours every day. Things crashed and burned when we went to Seattle and had no TV to watch any of the movies.

This year we’re also going to Disneyland so we’ll see how it works out.

But here is our last for this year!

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Rony and I always split up the list between us and choose movies we haven’t seen and movies we’ve seen but the other hasn’t. This way we’re not just watching the same classics over and over again and get to learn about different horror movies. Rony also does a review on Twitter afterwards if you want to follow him.

So we’ve got Inktober, Horror Movie Challenge, I have a gallery on Friday the 13th, we’re planning Ladies Night, I’m going to attempt National Novel Writing Month again in November so I’m preparing for that, and we’re going to try and do daily pet costumes and Halloween posts on our Halloween Instagram.

It’s going to be a busy time. I also have to do a couple of paintings for a Museum exhibit and a gallery in November.

Aaaaaaand Disneyland.

So wish me luck! I want to do a few speed process videos of some of my Inktober pieces but we’ll see. I’ll do a Inktober supplies post next week but I’ll be posting them daily on my Instagram or Facebook! Also, if you want to help support me, the blog, my art then you can donate a bit to my Ko-Fi or visit my Etsy shop! This helps me get better art supplies, buy more prints to sell, or do more in general!

If there’s anything else you’d like to see me do or write about, let me know!

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See you in October!

-Sam <3