April 7, 2011

About Bento Studios

 

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It’s nice to meet you!  I’m Jade Woodruff.  I’m an artist.

I created Bento Studios in 2007 because I love sharing my art.

13719577_1642843616043410_934715449574877037_oI’ve dabbled in just about every medium ranging from paint to digital media.  Currently, I create art in two different mediums.  For my graphic novels, prints, and other merchandise, I use Manga Studio Pro 5 and sometimes Photoshop CS3.  All my prints and books are drawn and colored entirely by hand on my Wacom Bamboo Create Tablet.  My fine art and most commissions are created with COPIC Markers and traditional pen & ink using my Maru Pen and Nib set.

In 2010, I was accepted as a member and in 2012, I became an Exhibiting Artist at the Island Art Association in Fernandina Beach, Florida.  I have received dozens of awards for my fine art and video productions.  I also exhibit and sell my art at conventions throughout the Southeastern US.

Currently, I’m working on my graphic novel series entitled Game Over.  It’s about a gamer named Tristan who wishes that he could play video games instead of taking tests in school.  One day, his wish ends up mysteriously coming true and, every time he takes a test thereafter, he is virtually transported to a video game realm.  If he beats the game, he passes the test!  I started working on Game Over in 2010 with a very rough concept of what I wanted to do and loose character archetypes.  I spent two years refining the plot and debuted the first volume at Megacon 2012.  Since then, I’ve released one volume a year but always strive to release more and improve the quality of the content and story telling with each page.

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Image courtesy of Eternal Photography. Copyright James Cacciatore.

Quite easily my favorite part about working as a full time artist is the exhilarating feeling I get when I have the chance to share my art and stories with my fans.  It’s one of the best feelings in the word, connecting with people who enjoy the things you make.  I’m so grateful to have so many readers and fans of my art and my stories.  Every Tuesday and Thursday nights when I stream on Twitch, I get excited to chat with everyone on Twitch and share the creation process with everyone who shows up.  It’s an absolute blast and I’m so flattered that more and more people keep hanging out with me there.

I’m always asked, “how do you do it?” in reference to making this my full time job or to creating art, in general.  When I get asked that, I like to give a solid answer, a realistic one.  It’s an answer that I think explains a lot about me and who I am.  When I talk to other creators who have this same passion, regardless of their medium, I find that we share the same views about what it takes to be successful.  I find that these views have become a core part of our work ethic and are what keep us going when the going gets tough.

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Image courtesy of Eternal Photography. Copyright James Cacciatore.

Doing art for a living isn’t easy and it’s not all fun and games.  It’s a lot of hard work and I had to make sacrifices – lots of them.  I continue making sacrifices.  I worked a regular nine-to-five job prior to this while working on my art in the evenings.  Before that, I held several jobs while refining my craft, using whatever I had left over from bills to fund my business.  In 2012, I created an LLC for my art and in 2014, thanks to my fans and supportive husband, I was able to make this my full time gig.  It happened much sooner than I would have liked, but maybe that was for the best.  Even though I’m not working that nine-to-five job anymore, I still get out of bed and work hard.  The only difference is that my office is my art room, my business suit is my pj’s, and my coworkers are my pets.  I gladly put in more hours than I ever have for any “day job” because of that awesome feeling I get sharing what I love with my fans, that sense of accomplishment that I get from paving my way.

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Image courtesy of Eternal Photography. Copyright James Cacciatore.

There was a lot I had to learn about running a business and I learned most of it the hard way: through trial and error.  I made poor business decisions and had to pick myself back up.  I’ve had a lot of great successes too.  I own my mistakes and my achievements.  I’m not afraid to fail because it’s in the failures that I’ve learned the most about myself, about my business, about the marketplace.  And there’s always something new to learn.

I recently attended a convention for fun for the first time in years.  I went to see one of my favorite Voice Actors and ADR Directors, Michael Sinterniklaas.  When I participate in conventions as an artist, I’m tied to my table.  I never actually get to go to panels or even get autographs.  Sometimes, I don’t even shop the exhibit hall (which is something I REALLY love doing since I’m an avid collector).  Don’t get me wrong, I love being at my table – it’s my passion!  But I do miss roaming about the con, chatting and hanging, attending panels, and even cosplaying.

So, at Anime Festival Orlando, I attended panels and did all those things that I never get to do anymore.  It was awesome!  Anyways, during one of his many panels, he talked about what it’s like to do what you love for a living.  The subject excited me since it’s also what I do.  He said something that stuck with me: “When you do what you love for a living, you find that you actually do less of it.”

Avdol Graveyard

I call this the Avdol Graveyard. Since I print everything in my home office, I spend a lot of time calibrating my printer. Sometimes, it throws a fit. And, when it does, it’s always two days before a convention.

It’s true.

I love drawing and creating stories.  BUT – if I want to be successful at this, I can’t just hide in my room all day making art that no one ever sees.  I have to get it out there.  I have to do things like typing these about pages and maintaining my website (which I am admittedly horrible at!), creating web images of my prints, staying active on social media, editing hundreds of hours of video footage from Twitch streams, and finding new and exciting ways to engage with my fans (because it’s fun to hang – but I still have to figure out how and when!).  I research trends to find out what people are watching.  I watch specific anime that’s recommended to me (it’s why I got into Jojo’s and now I love it!) so that I can stay up to snuff.  Sometimes, the anime I want to watch goes on the back burner until I have a little free time for it (hence the binge watching after September every year).  That’s most of my time now: tedious business work.  The time I spend drawing on streams is one of the few times I actually spend creating art.  But, without all the promoting, researching, and maintenance, I wouldn’t be where I am today and, without continuously doing it, I won’t be able to move forward.

So, bringing this full circle, to tie it all together for you… I’m an incredibly hard working person who does what she loves for a living and is fortunate enough to be able to share the fruit of that love with thousands of people on a daily basis.  It’s thanks to the support of my husband and fans that I’m able to do this and I’m forever grateful because I wouldn’t trade it for anything.  I feel like I’ve been given some kind of gift, but, in reality, I worked hard for this and I had a lot of support along the way.

webcam-toy-photo97It’s your continued support that keeps me going.  When fans join my streams, follow me on social media, visit me and pick up my art at conventions, and contribute to me on Twitch or Patreon, it helps me continue producing the things that you enjoy by giving me a reliable source of income.  This opens up my time to create content you enjoy because I don’t have to rely on commissions to cover the gaps between conventions and online sales.  I wouldn’t be where I am today without the contributions from Patrons and Twitch Donors.

I’m forever grateful to all of you for helping me do what I love.  Thank you all so much for sharing with me, for hanging out with me, for looking at my art.  You make all this hard work worth it and I can’t wait to share more of my art with you.