Midnight Rev Up 2022 Coverage

It’s that time of year again for our (JC and I) annual trip up to Edmonton to take part in the Midnight Rev Up Car show. It’s really only our second year but the way the MNRU treats and graces us with unbelievable hospitality makes it really feel like we’re family and that we’re right there with them the whole way through. I had the chance to judge again alongside Lito just like last year and it was an absolute blast. Having JC, Mark and Carlo providing insight and opinions make for a fairly thorough walkthrough – believe it or not. Lots of eyes on subjects makes things interesting and opens up a lot of doors for discussion and it’s definitely discussion worth having when you only have 10 cars to choose out of 160.

More on that later… MNRU continually sets a higher bar for themselves each year and it makes you wonder what they have up their sleeves for the next year. Putting on a show like this is not easy – the planning, the media and advertising, the logistics and so much more – gives me a headache just thinking about it. Then there is the MNRU team – last year they hosted it at the Edmonton airport inside two hangars. Just a really surreal place to be for a car show with helicopter tours and everything. This year was at the Edmonton EXPO center which really gave a Wekfest vibe with the industrial look and the bright white overhead lights. Wekfest has really set the standard here for car shows and even for me, personally. Several years ago, I attended the Chicago Wekfest and man, was I blown away. The set up, the quality, the smoothness of everything… Just what seemed like light years ahead of what we ever did here. Each car, placed well and spacing generous enough for photo ops and people-traffic. It doesn’t seem like a big deal but when you cram as many cars as you can into a space without screening them – you’re left with a big clusterfuck of so many things. I won’t go into that again for the millionth time, but the point is that MNRU is really breaking that barrier and/or stigma of a frustrating car show in a big way. The vibe is just so close and the EXPO center this year really helped to do that. Not to mention their custom steering wheels that they had for trophies, the MNRU x JTOONED collab shirt (which I am totally grateful and stoked for), MNRU slaps… It was the works on Saturday. It’ll take time but with good strides, it’ll get there – more people just need to come to see what it’s like.

We were sitting in the staff room for a bit before judging last night and Carlo was just talking about their vision and their wishes for next time, what they would change, their reflection on past shows – all before this current show was even over. Most of you reading this won’t know what goes on behind the scenes and my blogs really are just to provide that third-person view in as much of an unbiased view as I can. Reflecting on the efforts and the show while the show is currently in progress says a lot of things – 1) they are actively engaged and looking for opportunities – whether it’s right now or for next time. 2) the show is for you, the customer, first. “What can we do or what can be done next time so that it’s better?”. As we (JC, Kristin, and I) sat there quietly eating our dinner, all I could hear and feel is the energy coming from the conversation and that meant a lot to me – both as a spectator, participant, and judge. I wish everyone there last night knew that in the moment because it really made me feel proud to be at a show where quality is the top priority. I hope that reading those words made you feel the same because you really should. I know that it’s just a car show, but it’s really just been so long since we’ve had a good car show, know what I mean? It’s easy to go through the motions and enter as many car shows as you can/want, but when you’re at a good show, it’s a different vibe.

Anyway, I’ll talk more about the show as we go. This is gonna be a fairly lengthy post – about 226 pictures. I really tried to capture every car that I could and I think I got 99% of them. I don’t know all of you, but bravo for last night.

So begins our trip… We met at the edge of Calgary at 8AM to head out.

JC and Kristin sitting beside me. I decided to take the Type R this time over the Fit. The Fit is fun and cool and all, but it just isn’t fully show-worthy to me. Still a few things that are off that bug me and I thought the Type R would be fun to take on the trip this time.

I really love the car when you can see the wheels in the pic LOL

The Tunerdecals team showed up with Kelvin’s Varis FRS and Kevin’s Genesis. We decided to head up together since we were going to be in their booth.

Sitting pretty with the front lip all protected.

Same with Kevin’s Genesis.

A quick snap of JC on route…

When we got there, we had a quick lunch at Gyu Kaku… At the back of Kevin’s Genesis was the set of his rear wheels. He had some issues with the valve stems (I think?) so he couldn’t make the long distance with the rear wheels on and used stockies instead. Thought this was a cool shot.

We stopped at one of the most ghetto car washes I’ve ever seen – sorry Edmontonions – but no matter where we go in Edmonton, everything just seems ghetto LOLOL. It was $1 per minute, the pressure was as strong as my pee stream on a good day, and I wasted $4 to come out no different than when I came in. Ghe-Toeeeeeee.

The EXPO center was about 7 minutes away from here, so Kevin started taking off the tape to wash the car.

Looks clean when I edit it to look like this LOL

This some Driven-quality wheel cleaning though. Shietttt

The entrance to the car wash was kind of a weird angle and Kevin couldn’t get in straight on any of the bays. There was one right at the end where he had to angle in pretty hard and was hella close to the pole LOL

Made it in though…

Kelvin’s FRS also made it in with no issue.

En route…

Waiting outside the center before rolling in. Kevin was trying to change his rear wheels before heading in but the security guard didn’t like that, so we ended up having to do it right at the entrance of the center… There was literally no one in the lot, not sure why it was an issue lol.

See what I mean? Car wash did nada. lol $4 I’ll never get back. ((Yes, I’m cheap) No, I don’t care)

After a long ass time of basically having to clean the car twice and the humid arena (before HVAC was turned on), we finally got it all cleaned up. Lowkey jealous because JC had Kristin helping clean his car while I suffered on my own…

She did help with tire shine on my car though LOL – thanks Kristin.

The lighting is just chef’s kiss

The first time the Type R has been this clean in a long ass time. I always love shows for that reason…

Kevin and his Genesis cleaned up nicely and with the rear wheels back on.

Kelvin and his FRS also cleaned up nicel… Wait… Kelvin, did you miss a spot on your hood? Ah nvm… LOL (inside joke)… (Inside joke is that he ceramic coated his car and missed wiping a spot off so now he’s got a small hot spot and I’m going to make this the next trend where I spot people’s cars who missed wiping ceramic coat off LOOOL).

Truth be told though – it’s not that bad. I just saw that it bothered him a lot so me being the dude that I am is making a big deal about it.

White, white, red, red. Except JC the combo breaker with Work wheels. LOL

A few of the Kazoku guys joined the Tunerdecals group as well. Kenneth and his STI on TE37 Sagas…

Nathan and his widebody S14 and glitter paint sitting low on Work Meister 3PC…

Really loved the look and fitment of this…

Cusco/Bride on the inside…

Khail’s Civic Si Coupe ending the line up…

A red STI on Superspeed wheels in matte black

Corolla dumped right to the ground. I really got Mark X vibes from the way this was laid out. That VIP look.

Good fitment (clean wheels).

Focus ST Hatch also aired down nice and low…

Bagged CLA – I believe this was the same one from Driven Calgary…

Genesis coupe with a bunch of CF bits

This was the top pick for me at the show Saturday night. A full Junction Produce VIP van – just had the works… They went on to win one of the awards last night.

JP wheels and full AP Racing brakes front and back

JP interior, of course…

All the bedazzle and JDM flavour you could ask for…

The theme rolled to the rear, naturally…

XBOX and Sapporo…

Even the trunk was great. The diamond stitched mats all over were too good. Well done!

A really clean 10th gen Si on Gram Lights.

Not a car you see too often – in a really nice pale pink.

Marko’s STI hatch sitting down low in the Mkzer0 booth. That blue looks great.

Audi S4 on the coughbestcough brand tires you can get 🙂

135 on Rotiforms. I really loved the 1-series platform – a shame this didn’t take off much. I thought this was super clean.

Derek Harvey’s super clean 86. Lots of small little details on this that I’ve been able to follow through Instagram. The custom V-mount turbo and titanium fabrication. The incredibly meticulous wrap job… This was another one of our picks for the top 10.

The titanium piping – front and center and getting all the attention…

Small little details like the custom headlight air inlet cutout with carbon fiber lining the inside.

The EVS carbon mirrors were a great touch as well. I much prefer this look over the Craft Squares…

Another one of our picks for the top 10 was this mint E36 vert. I saw this last year at Driven Calgary and thought it looked fantastic. This time, I had some more time to take a closer look and my thoughts have not changed. The car is wrapped beautifully over a red paint – so you’d imagine that if spots were missed, it would be easy to see.

This was also in the Mkzer0 booth, so I expected no less on the wraps for the cars in this booth.

Beautiful engine bay with the go-mods to boot. Lito was also impressed with the engine and he’s not an easy guy to impress for under-the-hood mods.

Meticulously clean ESR’s. A perfectly complimented wheel design for this chassis and the yellow brembos peeking from behind. A really great build, for sure.

Purple glitter-wrapped widebody E82 sitting on some wide Heritage wheels in the Mkzer0 booth.

A pretty rare bodykit to see over here – the Liberal Addiction front bumper on this VAB STI. It’s extremely aggressive and totally a true JDM bodykit that only the brave can rock here.

An upclose of the bumper – really good fitment and paint job. I dig it.

HKS-equipped boost blue FK8 on ZE40’s in the First Gear booth.

Voltex GTR on Advan GT’s. No stranger to most of these shows… Check that dry carbon front lip.

Super clean Rallybacker widebody BRZ wrapped in a matte white.

I have to say – there were a lot of clean wheels at the show but this one had to take the cake for one of the best ones. I had to take a closer look. This guy needs to give lessons to everyone on how to clean wheels.

Another shot. Anyone who’s ever owned wheels with chrome lips or anything chrome, for that matter knows how much of a pain in the ass it is to keep them clean. This guy doesn’t even have any wipe marks or marring on them – they literally look like they rolled off the press. So good.

Voltex-equipped GR86 on Advan RG’s in the First Gear booth. I really love the look of these – even in their stock form. They look super clean.

From the rear – also super clean and sharp. Voltex wing and diffuser and an Amuse R1 exhaust to boot.

Brett’s Super clean WRX

Not sure of the widebody maker on this one, but probably the wildest VAB at the show sitting on ultra wide Cosmis Racing wheels.

Another less wild, but still aggressive Subie in the lineup and a sticker bombed hood underneath. Been a while since I’ve seen sticker bombed parts tbh

The same GC Subaru from Driven Calgary – recognizable from the intercooler text lol

Still clean though. I dig the choice of wheels too.

Really clean Raiu edition WRX. I love this colour.

The Voltex hawkeye STI on Advan GT’s froM First Gear. Also no stranger to the local shows.

Nissan Stagea/Skyline wagon

Sitting on the Nismo version of Gram Lights 57CR

Mark’s Voltex/ARC Evo X on Advan RG’s in the Racing Copper Bronze finish. Quite a unique colour!

A super clean 240SX in the First Gear booth…

Evo IX on TE37 OG’s…

GR STI Sedan on Work Meister 3PC’s

I always remember this one as well because of how clean he keeps his wheels too. I salute those of you that have chrome finishes because it’s such a pain to keep clean LOL

Fake Hero’s NSX

A fresh EP3 Type R – RHD and all.

Cool to see some clean SUV’s that weren’t 4Runners too LOL

On the other side of the Fake Hero booth was the Fake Hero AE86 – I still love this look and it should never change.

Tacoma on a pretty sick display in the Legit.Society booth

With TE37’s no less…

Pale pink Toyota MR2 in the Fake Hero booth.

Kris’s Varis widebody EVO X on TE37’s. Nice meeting you finally sir!

Sleeper status S2000 on BBS’s. I think this one is pushing 400ish hp?

This Varis STI is always a pleasure to see. Lots of good stuff on this…

Sitting on british racing green TE37’s.

An upclose of it. So clean!

I love the execution of the colours in this – lots of really bold colours that compliment each other so well.

FK8 sitting low on CE28’s

This was probably my favourite SUV at the show – R-Line Tiguan in a white silver metallic finish on Rotiforms. SO good.

@BagitoTV’s Seeker Civic. I was really excited to see this one in person as I’ve been seeing it unfold on Instagram over the last year or so. I even tooned this a few weeks ago for him – so seeing it in person was great. I had the chance to speak with him about it as well.

The car is not wrapped – it’s painted with a Tangerine Kandy. Not quite the same as the orange that Seeker used. His inspiration came from the muscle-car side of the car world and boy, does it work well here.

Leaving the carbon pieces exposed – staying true to the Seeker style. Even brand new FD2 headlights to fit the JDM theme. Looking forward to seeing this in the future as he plans to go full Seeker. The paint job was really well done as well – no orange peel, nicely polished and glossy.

Sitting on an aggressive set of TE37 Saga’s and FD2 Brembos behind. His FD2 was also one of our choices for the top 10. Well done.

This Miata was pretty wild. The engine was extremely well done and just super clean. I thought I had taken a picture of it but I guess I didn’t – sorry. Interior had zebra print and a whole bunch of other things going on. Great paint as well.

This 9th gen Civic was sitting static and low on these aggressive Work T5R 2Pc’s.

Actually kind of crazy how low and fitted this was. The stance look has been fading a bit and at one point, I was getting kind of tired of seeing it but when it’s well done like this, I can appreciaet it.

M2 sitting on Advan GT Beyond in Racing Copper Bronze. A really hard finish to capture nicely…

An upclose of the finish – but still not true to real life. It has a small spectrum of different hues in person depending on the light.

A car that I’ve probably never seen at shows – the elusive Mitsubishi Eclipse. Maybe the only time we’ve seen it was in 2Fast 2Furious? This one was pretty clean though for the Ghost Gang booth.

86 in track mode.

NSX on Advan GT’s

Blobeye STI in the Ghost Gang booth.

Super wide EVO X in the Ghost Gang booth.

Boost blue FK8 on Gram Lights, Mugen-kitted and a Voltex wing out back.

FK8 on TE37’s

Green-wrapped Civic Si on Gram Lights. The “Spoon” caliper covers in red were a bit much for me otherwise it was fairly clean.

Pretty rare to see a clean TSX/Accord these days…

Lots going on with this BRZ at the show that night. A pretty wild sound system – almost rivaling the actual DJ booth…

Birdy’s Streethuner Supra…

Roel’s Varis FK8 sitting on Champ White CE28’s in the Garage111 booth. Roel went on to win one of the awards that night as well.

VAB STI sitting down low on TE37’s with Garage111.

Birdy’s Rallybacker/Aimgain widebody FRS

R35 siting on TE37’s

Daniel’s rally EVO X – no stranger to the shows now either with the infamous titanium-clad engine bay. I’m pretty sure he has everything that could be made into titanium in his engine bay.

Some shots for the bling factor

Even the valve cover – looks to be carbon fiber with the titanium gradient finish on it.

Side pieces are even titanium…

Strut bar, caps, covers, you name it – he’s got it…

John’s Mugen RR FD. No introduction needed as I covered that in my Driven Calgary post.

Varis Widebody EVO X sitting on new Volk 21C’s in bronze. I believe he was on Work wheels before. Would love to see if there’s anything done to the engine on this one – but aesthetically, I love the execution.

Rocket Bunny FRS – I believe this is the poster car for Garage 111. Crazy, the words Rocket Bunny were coming out of everyone’s mouths at one point and now it’s just gone. Nice to see this one well-executed.

On some bronze Volk TE37V’s too

Varis-kitted FK8 on Advan GT’s. I really liked how this looked – the colour scheme, the paint work… Fairly clean. The only thing that caught my eye was the hardware used in the center to hold the lip together. I’m not sure what happened there, but it looked like generic non-automotive hardware and it just stood out to me.

Don’t get me wrong – it still looked really good. Just swap those bolts out to titanium or a lower key black chrome and it would be Gucci.

This really rad Datsun 280Z – a really cool Japanese-inspired theme with a steel-esque look to it.

Under the hood was also a treat… This Datsun went on to be one of our selections for the top 10.

R35 with a Voltex Swan neck and Advan GT’s in the Mercari Auto booth

Another R35 on work wheels and Voltex goodies

Super clean Honda S2000 in all white in the Invision Auto booth

BRZ on Gram Lights

Jiahao’s Evo IX Wagon with Voltex goodies. Always nice to see this one at shows.

Berry’s Varis Widebody FRS on TE37V’s.

Cleaned his wheels too. LOL

Jason Choi’s R34 GTR V-Spec II on TE37’s

As usual, Invision Auto had their Bride seat display out for spectators to try out.

Peter Luu’s FRS – classy as always.

JDM Odyssey in the Mercari booth. I love these things. I’m sure you guys all know that by now lol

VAB STI in the Invision Auto booth on Volk 21C’s. Probably the car with the best fitment in the show IMO…

Low. Tight. Perfect fenders.

So good. I really love these wheels and love that many people are starting to jump on them over the much-loved TE37’s. (I still like TE37’s, but I think I just have a little TE37 fatigue lol)

This Porsche was another one of the top picks for the show. Obviously really hard to tell but it’s K-swapped and totally rad.

Caged, Brides… All colour coordinating…

SSR’s – an iconic pick for Porsche’s 🙂

Out in the back you can kind of see the engine set up but not much more.

A closer look… This thing sounds crazy too

Close up of the wing and the carbon stands…

Chameleon/gradient wrapped S4

Evo X on some aggressive CE28’s

John Velasco’s Supra on ZE40’s

Super classy

M4 with aggressive aero

Voltex swan neck out back

Another shot of Mark’s Evo X from the rear quarter

Shawn Zhang’s bagged WRX in a new pink wrap

This slammed VIP 7-Series. I love it.

Louis V inspired floormats

Closer look…

Meticulous and super nice paint. (Not wrap)

Bagged S5 in the custom decals booth

370Z on Advan RG’s

Ya’ll know what I think about this…

Teejay’s G35 on Work T5R 2P’s

Another Evo X on ZE40’s.

Fuschia-wrapped WRX

This K-swapped 240SX. I believe this is drifted regularly too…

A work in progress – I’m unsure though if this is a new swap or if they’re just making changes and were unable to complete in time for the show.

A very subtle pearlescen-wrapped 3-series

Another clean 240SX on Enkei RPF1’s

1JZ under the hood. Correct me if I’m wrong – this is another car that is regularly used for drifting. So good.

’88 Soarer!

MK3 Supra

Purple-wrapped 240SX. Loved this trio of clean 240’s.

A really nice colour choice for a wrap on this BRZ. It’s like a light jade metallic – reminds me a little of Millenium Jade Green. I really liked it – worked super well with the pink Heritage cherry blossom wheels.

Close up of the wheel design. I dig.

AE86 equipped with ITB’s

Close up of said ITB’s…

Matte red and dumped. This was super clean.

Great wheel choice too.

Dunn’s bagged 9th Gen SI. I’m sure a familiar site for most of you – I’ve covered this many times in previous posts… Sounds like he has some changes up his sleeve for the next year. We’ll see!

Those headlights are my fave.

WRX with APR exterior goodies on Superspeed wheels

4Runner and Tacoma faceoff. Good display idea.

8th Gen SI with a Mugen RR front and aggressive Work T5R

Prelude on RPF1’s

Rear shot of Daniels’ EVO X

Bossman Carlo’s (AKA Simba) M3 on TE37’s.

Some of you might have seen the story of his wheels and how dirty they were and @BagitoTV swiped his forehead with the brake dust – reminiscent of the scene in Lion King. LOL

Trung’s S2000 on TE37’s

Nismo 370Z sitting low on Gram Lights 57’s

VAB STI on TE37’s

Tiegan’s anime/Nero-wrapped FK8. Lots of little details on here that really stood out from basically the rest of the show. Tiegan went on to win one of the top 10 for those little details…

One of the details that flow throughout the car is the use of the forged carbon with gold flakes – from the engine cowl cover, to the hood, to the interior trim and steering wheel.

Nero statue front and center

Probably even the most unique wheels at the show as well – with the heart-shaped spokes in gold with a black lip. I know she spent a painstakingly amount of time cleaning these too – I was bound to come through LOL

A rare wingless Evo X

Bagged GR STI Hatch

Mazdaspeed 3 on RPF1’s

Another Mazdaspeed 3…

This Miata sitting in the corner looking real clean on Work CR01’s

One of the decals that Tunerdecals debuted at the show as this one. A little backstory on this – if anyone is interested…

Over 2.5 years ago when I first got my iPad, I had created an image similar to this just for fun and then I just forgot about it. Kelvin found it a few months ago and asked if he could revive it into a “clean your barrels” sticker for this show. It ended up turning out great – with the use of spot holographic and a littler verbiage on the other part of the tire. You can get these currently at the Otaku Drive website – I have them for purchase as well – but only in person. My online store is currently offline.

Evo X with Voltex goodies on TE37’s. Side note – this show was FULL of Evo’s and STi’s – it was crazy.

Anotehr yellow-wrapped Evo X with some Voltex/Varis.

Genesis sitting low and wide…

350Z on Work Meister 3PC’s

Nismo 370Z on TE37’s

Clean FK7 on Gram Lights

Which stud owns this? God damnnnnn… Mugen FK8 on Smoked Black Advan GT’s

Close up of the (clean) wheels and AD08R’s. I’m going to go on and talk more about my own car cause I can – the Smoked Black finish was a limited finish. The only way to tell is that the spoke has the engraving vs the regular sticker. The smoked black finish up close has a very small hint of gold flake on it – but you have to look closely. Cause I’m extra. OK thanks – that’s all.

A shot of the rear that I rarely take pics of…

FK8 with Mugen front and rear and a Voltex Type 5 out back.

Another Evo X with a red/black theme

A pale army green-wrapped BRZ with RB flares and aero pieces.

This was pretty clean. Looked like they were trying to go for the Midori green look – but still nice overall.

8th gen SI Sedan on Gram Lights…

That ends the coverage of the show… From this pic on are just extra snaps that I ended up taking and thought were worth sharing. The front end shot of the mint e36.

Cholo going around taking his coverage shots. Peep his newly designed shirt that he just dropped. He’s a genius when it comes to combining automotive-themed shirts and other elements. The last one was Sushi and TE37’s and this one is Pizza and the Mugen steering wheel. So good.

The Duo.

Last but not least. I didn’t want to but I was convinced otherwise… I thought we were past this point by now but at the same time, I can’t tell if this was a troll. Either way, I couldn’t help but notice that not only was there no effort into cleaning, but if you’re advertising detailing services – wouldn’t you want your wheels to be clean?

I dunno… Seems odd to me. I think this was the c-c-c-combo breaker of the night lol. The only one with dirty wheels in the whole show – I had high hopes it was gonna be a perfect score that night too LOL. Oh well…

Fast forward to Sunday morning – we fueled up and headed back home ASAP. We needed to get those gas station shots…

Though it wasn’t a really nice gas station LOL. Damn it Edmonton!

That’s it, that’s all, folks! Great job again to the MNRU team for putting on another great show. Thanks for having us! See you guys next year!

PS – let’s aim for 100% clean wheels for 2023 LOL!

Soo… It’s 2022? Jtooned? Life? All of it.

Obligatory forewarning that I will not be talking about COVID in this post. I’m sure we’re all fatigued from hearing about it, so this is the only time you’ll see it mentioned here. Let’s just focus on that good good.

It’s been nearly 5? months since I’ve last posted. I visit this forsaken place every day and have the urge to write but don’t have the energy. This last year has really just been a trying and grinding time for me. I’m busy with family and trying to use all of my energy to focus on them when I’m not drawing or working on jtooned stuff. It’s true what they say – side hustles are not easy and they’re not something you can just dedicate less than 100% of yourself to if you expect good results. I can directly attest to that statement – whenever I decide to put less than everything into jtooned, the flame dwindles, but burns bright when I commit. The sacrifice is your time and mental and physical capacity to do it all. If my heart isn’t in it, the end result shows and people are perceptive to it. It’s draining but it’s worth it if you can stay afloat.

“I’m going to work on myself this year”.

“I’m going to focus on my heart and self-appreciation”

“I’m going to cut negativity out of my life from now on”

Everyone has said that at least one point in their life and usually at the start of the new year. You’ve said it, but ask yourself if you’ve followed through with it a month from then, 6 months from then, a year from then – did you, really? This last year was one of those years for me – not by personal choice… It just kind of happened naturally. I think that point in your life will come to you eventually but never because you said it will or because you want it to. Usually it comes because your life needs it to. This last year, I’ve been so focused on me (myself and my family as a collective) so hard and so aggressively that I just didn’t have time to worry about everything else going on around me – no time to compare myself to others, no time to beat myself down because someone had more cars than me or more talent than me, no time to worry about what other people were doing so that I could do it better. And it wasn’t until I “had no time” that I realized how free “no time” actually felt. I admit that I was bound by social media and trying to keep up with everyone’s lives that I had no time to really love my own. Maybe you are too and you just don’t realize it yet. That’s fine, too. When you learn to truly focus on yourself and making yourself better through your own needs and not by comparison, it’s like a huge weight lifted off of your shoulders.

I think the girls helped me on this front too. We’re talking about a 5 year old and a 2 year old – both with such different personalities and needing love and attention in very different ways. For us, Aria and Rin were like the two constants we didn’t know we needed and it took us a long time to realize it. This last year has been challenging because they’re no longer babies that just take and do whatever you want them to do. They have personalities, they know what they want and don’t want, they eat when they want to and they influence each other in good and bad ways and it’s like a big hurricane right in the middle of a life that you’ve worked so hard to build and maintain that they just have no conception of – and why should they? It’s not their problem.

It’s hard, guys. It’s hard being a parent and it’s hard because you want to teach them to grow up to be strong and independent and smart and everything good but you want them to listen and to know boundaries and to understand everything that took us 34 years to learn in one day. It’s hard to understand why they can’t realize it in the moment or in the heat of things. And it isn’t until the end of each day that you finally get to slow down and say “they can’t understand. It takes time” and the days repeat themselves. Slowly, though – things start to click and that hurricane starts to slow down a bit and that structure you’ve worked so hard to build starts to crumble a bit less and the order feels restored a bit more.

That paragraph is our whole 2021 and we’re quickly realizing that while we control one hurricane, there’s a different one on the horizon and we have to figure out how to settle that one down – we just don’t know what it looks like yet.

jtooned. Man oh man, what a ride jtooned has been this last year. It’s evolved into something so much more than I had expected or envisioned and I think that my failure to plan is the result of that. Not that it’s a bad thing at all – it ended up being a good surprise. Maybe you know, maybe you don’t… But the start of all of this was really because I wanted to draw something original to print on a shirt – for myself. I had no concept of how to use Adobe illustrator and I didn’t know how to use Photoshop to create original artwork. I ended up buying an iPad Pro convincing myself that I wanted to draw – I just didn’t know what I wanted to draw. It was a tough sell, given I had no actual business model but I did it. Let me tell you – the amount of times I opened a canvas and stared blankly at it, only to close it a little while later with no progress was frustrating as hell.

I didn’t know what to draw, I didn’t know how to draw properly and I had no foundation to build upon. I was literally floating around in a blank creative space with no where to go. Alas, inspiration comes in many forms and after a few months of “artists’ block”, I experimented with a few things on cars and learned about transforming and going outside the lines and here we are today. At first, I was drawing for free and then shortly after, I charged a minimal fee for hours of work. But that’s OK because all of those free or cheap hours were put towards a greater cause – it always is even though you might not think it is. And it wasn’t without my awesome friends and their support that I am where I am today. These guys believed in me at my worst and they continue to believe in me today and that’s truly where my thanks go. Whether it was for the art that I drew for them or stickers they knew they wouldn’t use but purchased anyway… It all led to this.

There are days where I feel like I’ve done enough. Where I’m not sure if I want to continue or that maybe I’ve drawn all that I could draw and I’ve come to the end of my run. As I write this – The BLUEPRNT Vol 2 coloring books are still in production, we’re finalizing two hoodie designs and I’ve closed commissions for almost a month now. After that’s over – then what? And the downtime has made me complacent and uninspired. At this very moment of striking these keys, I wonder if this is it. Lack of inspiration can do that to a person. LOL

Whatever the case is – I’m thankful for everyone that has supported jtooned in one way or another – be it through purchasing a toon or merchandise, reposting my work and liking it or even just following along. It counts for something! I’ve learned so much from this and have met so many really awesome people that just enjoy cool ass art as much as I do. I’m thankful for taking the plunge almost 2 years ago to just get an iPad to play around with because I never would’ve guessed it help get me here.

Anyway, I just want to circle back to my first point about not having time for anything other than myself. The birth of jtooned is really the one thing responsible for this enlightening past year – it forced me to buckle down and spend time doing things that were important to me and provided small wins and values that sum up to become really big and meaningful interactions and experiences. It pulled me away from the grips of social media and had me focus on “doing” rather than just “being” and that’s important.

My advice – if people even take advice anymore – is to challenge yourself, to take the baby steps towards things you want to do. You don’t have to leap into dreams head first if you don’t want to. Be respectfully hard on yourself so that you can improve through internal criticism. Be forgiving when you’ve done too much and realize that sometimes you need to take 2 steps back to take 3 steps forward. I don’t know who needs to hear this but truly work on yourself this time, not for the followers or the likes, not for the clout or recognition. Make sure that every time you work on “you”, you are developing yourself for personal growth because that’s when it feels real. Throughout my jtooned endeavours, I’ve met so many people asking how to get started and where to learn to draw and the only advice I have is to put the pen to the canvas. Whether it takes you 10 lines or 10,000 – by the time you’ve gone through enough of them, each line will be better than the one before it. Don’t compare your lines to my lines or anyone else just like you shouldn’t compare your life to my life or anyone else’s life.

Find the thing that will buckle you down and help you focus on you this year. Make that your goal instead. It can be as little as learning a skill or mastering an existing skill but make it personal. Because if it isn’t personal, then it isn’t truly for you.

Happy late New Year! Here’s to another great year!