JTOONED is… Feeling Grateful

Lately, I’ve been in a writing mood and I have so many thoughts in my head but no time to get them all down. A lot of my blog posts lately are culminations of days and/or weeks of entries that just get built up over time until I feel they’re complete. It’s rare when I get to sit down and write all in one sitting lately. I guess it allows for a few things – it lets me go back and re-read what I wrote and let’s me re-affirm that how I felt when I wrote it still applies and that it all makes sense.  I received a surprising amount of feedback on my last post – primarily because I wasn’t expecting it. I’m glad that it was able to resonate with so many of you and it makes me feel good when something that I’m feeling rings bells with so many others. It’s almost such a taboo thing to talk about because you feel guilty for feeling that way, but if you don’t talk about it, then how do you feel better about it? Anyway, if you care to read on about my life, then welcome. If not, then I wouldn’t know otherwise :).

Whenever it gets to the end of the year, I can’t help but start to reflect on it and think about what kind of change it brought my way, what hurdles did I have to jump over and how many positive things I’ve been lucky to come across. Notice my choice of words when I talk about the challenges – “what hurdles”, and when I talk about the good things “how many”. It’s important to reflect on all things but it’s more important to, as they say “count your blessings and not your problems”. I don’t count the challenges because they are nothing but a weight that you just can’t lift yet. I do count my achievements and victories because those are the things you build to lift the weight you couldn’t before. In other words, it’s kind of like adding to your squat or bench press – you’re never looking at the weight that’s not on the bar, you’re looking at the weight you’re pushing so that you can put more of it on, feel me?

It’s been 2.5 years since I started this thing called JTOONED. It was never meant to be what it was today… I guess what I mean is, I never imagined it to be what it is today. You know when people talk about how where they are today and how it’s because of the people that believed in them? That’s literally JTOONED. I didn’t think I could draw cars or create digital artwork but all it took was someone to see potential to try something new and convince me to jump for it. One thing led to another and here I am, knocking out all sorts of artwork because I began starving for challenge and new things. I’m a bit embarrassed at where I started because I look back and cringe a bit, but in that same breath, there were people that believed it to be amazing and that meant a lot to me. It still means a lot to me, because despite where I am now or what kind of art I’m creating, there really isn’t a day that goes by where my pencil hits the canvas and I don’t think about where I started and how grateful I am to all of you.

There have been many weeks where I have literally said aloud to Diana, “I think JTOONED is dead”. Maybe because some days I feel totally burned out and don’t feel like picking up the pencil, or maybe because I haven’t had a commission request in a few days. But I’ll admit to you right now that there also has not been a week that has gone by since May 2020 that I have not had at least one commission. Wild. I’m not trying to brag either. It’s just me validating the fact that I’m thankful for every single one of you that has reached out to me for a project. Some of you want the popular item on the menu, some of you want to try something new, some have new ideas and chose me to test it. Whatever the reason, I’m still here because of you and I’ve grown an exponential amount because of it.

I’ve logged a little over 1000 toons since I started. One, zero, zero, zero. Three zeros.  What the hell? Isn’t that insane? What’s more insane is that I’ve been able to connect with almost that many people around the world. Obviously not a 1:1 ratio since many have had more than one toon with me, but DUDE. Art is a crazy thing. Combine that with social media and you have something crazy powerful. I feel like I’ve tooned almost all the local cars here, I’ve tooned for someone in almost every State in the US (probably), I’ve tooned a literal dump truck and hauler for a guy in the East Coast, I’ve tooned a motorcycle for a guy down under (Australia – get your mind out of the gutter), I’ve tooned a guys’ guitar in Japan… I can go on, but you can see the reach that this all has and I’m absolutely grateful for every single person whose path I’ve crossed. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – for every toon I’ve done, it’s made the next toon – even if it was just a miniscule difference – better. A 0.1% improvement over 1000 toons is a 100% improvement. Refer to what I said above again – ” it’s kind of like adding to your squat or bench press – you’re never looking at the weight that’s not on the bar, you’re looking at the weight you’re pushing so that you can put more of it on”. Mind. Blown. 

You know what I never understood until now? When people say “without you guys, I wouldn’t be here” or “I’m able to do what I do because of you guys”. It never made sense to me because – what did I do? I just watch your videos, or I just like your posts, or I just follow you. And sure, there are people that just like to come along for the ride and there’s nothing wrong with that – I enjoy you enjoying being here – you don’t matter any less. But it’s mainly for the people that say “hey, I trust you to bring my vision to life” or “yo, I know you don’t toon X or Y, but I totally think you could if you tried” or “I’ve got an idea and I really wanted you to draw it because I dig your style”. That kind of belief, that kind of faith – that’s what people mean. That’s what I never understood until now. I didn’t believe in the trust that people could place in some random person like me to bring something really personal to them to life, so here I am telling you; without you guys, I wouldn’t be here and I’m only able to do what I do because of you guys. Truly. I wish there were some way that I could pay you all back for this amazing thing you’ve given me in some form other than my digital art.

Maybe it’s just that though, maybe this art is all that you’re here for and once again, I am eternally grateful. So much so that it almost brings tears to my eyes (hell, even if I were bawling right now, you wouldn’t know). I don’t know when the day I put my pencil down will be, but the day that I do, I’ll be thinking of the first toon, the last toon and every single one of them in between. JTOONED has been a big part of my life these last 2.5 years and it’s hard not to reflect on that the most. Here’s to more cool toons!

I said the word “grateful” 4 times in this post. Just shows you how grateful I am. (6 times now).

An Actual LifeWithJson Post

Can we do a little lifewithjson blog real quick? Like not about cars, not about being sad about one of the best shows ending this year, not about anything that some of you might only come here for. Just literally life with me, positivity, relationships, achievements, progress, downfalls, and some self-reflection. Maybe this can be a feel-good post for some of you reading it, it may feel like nothing to you, it may feel like jibberish, or maybe you can relate to it depending on how you’re feeling right now. Maybe you’re reading it while you’re waiting somewhere trying to kill some time, or you accidentally clicked your way here and are caught in the middle of this paragraph and are too invested now to leave. I just want to use this space to reflect on things and get my thoughts out – afterall – this is what I started the blog for.

I used to write and take pictures about everything. There was a sense of joy when I got to share what I was up to in my life because there were people that were interested. That’s why people blog – because there’s a certain niche that is interested in knowing what’s going on with other people. It’s like a sort of free-ride voyeurism where I decide what to show you. It’s like an old-school Instagram/Tik-Tok where instead of watching, you’re reading. Kind of a lost art nowadays. I wish more people gave more capacity and time to write things rather than record things. When you read things, you decide how you feel as you’re doing it – you assume the tone and the emotion – and it’s all dependent on whether you are having a good day or a bad day. When you watch things, all of it is laid out for you already – there’s no brain power needed to watch a reel. The difference between the two is the level of emotion that is invoked during each activity. As you’re reading this, perhaps you’re relating or agreeing. Maybe you’re disagreeing and finding that you’re unsure what I’m rambling on about… The point is that there is some sort of thought.

I’m not in a mid-life crisis. I’m only 35. “Only?” you ask. Maybe I’m old depending on who’s reading this. I want to talk about how I feel – I feel complacent, happy and calm. I feel like I’ve reached the point in my life where some sort of Zen is all I want and feel because I’ve had so many hard years of learning how to get here. So many years of the devil on my shoulder telling me to feel jealous, angry, or upset about things that were outside of my control and then cooking myself over that same fire over and over again when really, all I needed to do was let go. Mind you, letting go is not easy when you’re young and you think everything is about you and everyone’s opinions and criticism chips away at you. Let me tell you – it isn’t and it shouldn’t. Letting go for me was realizing I could only control myself and how I felt towards people and circumstances. I can’t control what people think of me, of my things, my thoughts, my actions, or my life and so when you come to that hard realization, you’ll feel free.

As an example, there are times Diana would tell me a story about something that upset her or bothered her at work because someone did something and she was stewing over it. Many times, my answer would be like “but that’s not your problem?” or “but you can’t control that?”. And every time, she would say “I know” and my response would be “so then lets forget about it”. Instantly, the gas would shut off, the fire would dissipate and she would move on. It’s not about “not caring”, just to be clear. I care about a lot of things – my family, my self, my well-being, my family’s well-being. It’s more about not letting things that negatively impact the things I care about negatively impact me. Read that again. It can be things, people, attitudes… You name it. The way that I stay complacent, happy and calm is by focusing only on the closest things to me and ensuring they get 100% of my attention. I don’t mind other peoples’ business, I don’t compare myself to people. It might be brazen to say but the things I “don’t care” about are other peoples’ lives. That’s not to say I can’t be happy for you or share joy in your achievements, but at the end of the day, my happiness is what matters the most. In other words, your own happiness should be your number one priority and responsibility – however you get there is up to you.

I think social media has made it very difficult for people (myself, included) to find and marinate in their own happiness. Opening an app and seeing people make money, raise families, buy expensive things, eating at expensive restaurants, sharing their beauty and workouts, new cars, new parts… The amount of “good” things to take in within 5 minutes is underestimated and overwhelming. Imagine doing this hundreds of times a day – at one point, you’re bound to say “I need to workout”, “I need new clothes”, “I want to order takeout”, “I need to find new ways to make more money”, “I need to be a better parent”. All the needs and so little time. What happens when you have all these “needs” you think you need but can’t achieve them all right now? Feelings of conflict. Despair. Frustration. Cognitive dissonance. Maybe you didn’t think of that exact term, but that’s what it is. And if you don’t know how to disconnect or detach from what you’re seeing and what you’re feeling, you’ll never be 100% happy with yourself. It took me a long time to learn how to view it with a blank mind, so to speak. I relish in the truly happy moments for my close friends and I leave the rest behind with a swipe without a second thought.

The last thing for me was the realization that not everyone in your life is good for you; friends and family alike. I’ve always been the type to easily be able to disconnect from relationships if I felt that it wasn’t positive to me and it was good because it really helped me focus on good people and to seek positive relationships without much guilt. I think it’s important to be able to realize that and to let that go. The hard part for me is constantly trying to assess the relationships that we create and/or have and now not only figuring out how it impacts me, myself, and I but how does it impact Diana and the kids. These last few months, I’ve really had to do some soul searching, and a lot of the searching led me right back to these relationships on our front step all along. People don’t get a free pass because they’re blood or because they’ve known you for all their lives – they only got free entry. So many destructive relationships hide behind the mask of the loving, familiar face and I hate that because you have to lie to yourself that the mask is not really there. The hard part is not letting go; it’s telling yourself to stop giving excuses for someone else to be a part of your life when they really shouldn’t be. It’s a really hard thing to come to terms to because you say “but they’re family” or “but we’ve been friends for so long” and I often have to remind myself that people change just as I do and sometimes what was once good for your life can now be toxic.

Alas, let’s have some final thoughts together cause I’m feeling good about where we are. It’s taken me a long damn time to really feel comfortable in myself and my life and not having to worry about things like followers and likes and making everybody happy at the sake of my own happiness. Man, if you’re at that place now or you found this garden of Zen sooner – I’m happy for you – because it’s truly a good place to be. If you’re not there yet and are seeking the way, I hope you get there with good people along the way. Social media is just entertainment – it’s not a life guide or a place for competition on who is living the best life even though we only share the best aspects of our life. I just want to take cool pictures and post dope videos and create wicked things. Destructive relationships are not confined to people you just met – they can exist in all people and it’s important you filter them out somehow. They are an unnecessary burden that don’t deserve your shoulder. To all the people in our circle – I’m glad you’re here and thank you for inspiring W’s over L’s.

Thanks for reading. Maybe I’ll find some time to blog again in the next year LOL

Damn, They Don’t Make ‘Em Like This Anymore. I Ask ‘Cause I’m Not Sure… Do Anybody Make Real Shit Anymore?

Does this kind of stuff leave a bitter taste in anyone’s mouth anymore?

Maybe I’ve been reading too much on http://jdmphasis.blogspot.ca/ and his strict adherence to quality parts… But I can’t help but nod my head for every post I read of his. It just hits home for me – the first time I was ever in the market for car parts was for wheels for my Civic. I knew nothing about real and fake, I just knew I had a budget. When you’re on a budget for wheels – you’ll eventually come across Rota. Good ol’ Rota. It was when I inquired with a local shop that he kindly (and I truly mean that he was nice about it) talked me out of it and pushed me into my first set of WORK Emotion XT7’s. From that day forward, I saw the light. I saw the difference and I would never go back.

First of all, I’m no veteran to this scene – I am just an independent player in this sea of automotive enthusiasts – and just like many others, I just want to see cool as shit cars and good quality builds. I don’t dip my cup in the haterade punch bowl, and I am far from a keyboard warrior on forums trying to advocate what a real build is. I just think that when you’ve been immersed in the automotive culture for a period of time, you just naturally become somewhat jaded or calloused to what goes on in this pool. What I mean by this is that for some people (like myself), they just don’t care what goes on around them anymore unless it’s something unique or nicely put together. For others, (like the aforementioned keyboard warriors and haterade drinkers) it’s a matter of standing up for authentic parts only and ensuring that everyone who doesn’t have legitimate parts gets reprimanded. Everyone else falls in-between these two groups – legit, fake, they don’t really care.

You must be asking – what is he going on about now? I guess it’s sort of my way of ranting. I browse the forums, I visit blogs, I see a ton of social media content of cars that I know to cars halfway around the world. You see it all these days and there’s just no way of avoiding seeing the latest trend. What really makes me cringe is the stuff that you read on forums. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not posting this because I want to tell people how to spend their money or what to get for their car…


This is a thread on replica body kits. The reasoning at the bottom of the quote is what makes me cringe… Why would I pay $100 for a Snap-On wrench when I can pay $10 for one at Canadian Tire?  There is absolutely no difference in quality. You are just paying for the name (sarcasm).

Do you know what bugs me the most about this phrase? “you are just paying for the name”? The fact that this comment is loaded with the assumption that the person saying it knows how the product was created and is telling you that there is no difference because they literally just slapped a different brand on it.


This is what I read: I wouldn’t want to spend money on a genuine diamond for my girlfriend if a cubic zirconia would would look good if properly made.
Does that make sense to anyone else? Would you buy your girlfriend a cubic zirconia and just tell her it’s a diamond because it looks good enough? If you answered yes, I hope she says no.

Note: Key difference is if you tell her it’s a cubic zirconia and she doesn’t care – then she’s a keeper.


If you have to ask, then it’s not worth it.


This was the last one I captured before I started to lose my faith in humanity. There’s a lot of contradiction going on here and more justification that really doesn’t make sense. Credit is due to the original company that creates the product – whether you believe in “laissez-faire” or not. The bitter truth about laissez-faire is that it endorses greed and the funny thing is that ironically, when talking about supporting companies that produce replica parts – it is essentially implying that creating parts for 1/3rd the cost is the way to go. That the cheap and more efficient way of doing things will produce more money and better results for the larger whole. The only truth about laissez-faire is that instead of creating competition between legitimate, and reputable companies – it forces them to have to compete with second-rate companies that just create copies.

In a world where innovation is king – margin is your next lifeline to surviving. If you are selling and not making margin, the disconnect is between your cost to create and your price to the customer. Companies like Greddy/Rocket Bunny, J’s Racing, Voltex, and the other big name players don’t just come up with designs out of thin air. The cost to think, design, test, and produce is not equal to the cost to copy. The “absolute ridiculous” margins that the original product is carrying is not even close to the absolute ridiculous margins your replica product is likely making. The only slashing that a replica company is doing is of the quality of the part you’re purchasing to help them make their ridiculous margins. I know what you’re thinking… “But the part I want is so expensive, Jason!” Yes, but you’re certainly not going to find a replica Amuse exhaust anywhere because you aren’t going to find a company that can copy it and make margin at the same time. (See how that works?)

At the end of the day, it hurts companies that innovate. The money that you are spending to purchase real parts go towards more innovation. The money that you are spending to purchase replica part go towards the ability to copy more. In a scene where everyone wants to “kill the game” each year, you’ll be less likely to do any “killing” with the same kit every other guy on Instagram has with no innovation. The only killing you’ll end up doing is to your ego and to everyone’s hearts (JDM EGO quote). So, the next time you’re thinking about buying a part but have a little less cash – pinch your pennies, have ramen dinners for a few nights/weeks/months… Buy the part that’s worth it, not the part that’s cheaper. You’ll save yourself from having to justify why you bought a fake part like those good ol’ un-named chaps I quoted above. Instead, you can wear the part proudly on your car and feel like a million bucks (because you can’t feel like a million bucks when you only spent a fraction of it on your replica piece).

Have a good day.

The Car Family

It’s been quite a while since I’ve been able to post something – truthfully I have nothing left to post. It’s been a busy year and I surprised myself with how many shoots I actually got done when I think about how many I thought I would. Summer came and went faster than I can remember and so now I’m really left with updates on the FRS as I get them throughout the winter. As usual – like every year around Christmas, it’s super dead around my site but everyone else is probably busy doing winter-type things anyway.

During the winter, I sometimes get a lull in my day where I just think of things and I feel like sharing. This is one of those days…

It really revolves around the idea of modding our cars – I feel like I’ve talked about this before a while ago, so forgive me if I sound like a broken toy. The reason why it came up again was because of my recent shift of priorities in life – I have a house to take care of, I have to think of my future more than ever, I have other needs and wants outside of my car, believe it or not. So this is more or less just how I feel about a hobby that used to run my life (and wallet) now that I’m in a different place than I was even 2 years ago.

IMG_9521 copy

Most of us start off with a dream to build something great. For me, it was reading magazines like Import Tuner and Super Street before the days of social media and waiting anxiously every month for a new copy to drop so I could get ideas. I spent most of my days reading through magazines over and over, nit picking parts and absorbing as much as I could about parts and cars. I’m sure most of you can relate, but I went from knowing nothing to thinking I knew everything – all from reading magazines.

IMG_9511 copy

I went through the parts catalog in those magazines, picking out the Altezzas I loved the most, or an exhaust that looked the biggest, and I would add it up thinking I could afford it if I saved up enough lunch money for X amount of weeks. Simple, right? Unbeknownst to little jobless Jason, it wasn’t so easy to make paper and it certainly wasn’t easy to build a good quality car on a budget.

IMG_9510 copy

I slowly went from thinking that this was the easiest task to getting a big, hard hit from reality showing me that money was more of an issue than saving up pay cheques or lunch money. At the time, I thought I would be able to work part time, and be able to pay for a brand new RX-7 and that the NSX was only a few more years and pay cheques away if I wanted it bad enough.

Fast forward to my first real car – my 2006 Honda Civic – I was blessed to be lucky enough to have parents that gave me a car that I wanted as long as I stayed within budget. Immediately I regressed back to my little, magazine-indulging, day-dreaming ricer self and put parts on the car left, right, and center. I didn’t know anything but I did know that I loved doing whatever the hell I was doing. Personally, for me – I had a lot of inspiration and guidance along the way so my careless spending on “bad quality parts” per say were curbed quickly.

In fact, I remember when I was finally ready to buy wheels, I was looking at brands like Tenzo and Konig and even Rota. Before I knew anything about real and fake parts, I just wanted what I liked. I gathered up some courage, called up Tunerworks and asked them to get me a set of Rota Circuit 10’s in bronze. He replied with a “Yeah, Jason – we can totally get those for you… But I think I have something you’ll like better”.  That was when he introduced me to my first set of WORK XT7’s – mind you, I still didn’t know what WORK Wheels was, how significant they were in the car community, or what exactly I was buying. I just knew they were a lot more expensive than the Rotas I originally wanted and I knew I had to have them.

IMG_9374 copy

Very quickly after that I drowned myself in getting to know brands and parts and most importantly – what quality meant to this ever-expanding community. There were threads about real vs fake, about why not to support certain companies, about why things were thousands of dollars compared to hundreds of dollars. At the end of the day, it ultimately came down to building a car that people (this is the defining word of my post) recognized your car because of the parts you put on it and in what arrangement it is done in.

IMG_9350 copy

That’s what it’s all about right? Building a car that people liked and agreed fit the convention. However, I got tired of joining a forum and reading through build threads filled with comments of “what’s your wheel specs?” or “where did you get that part?” or “the *insert eBay name here* front lip thread”. It gets old quick and yes that eBay lip looks alright, but it’s not what I want. I don’t want my black Civic to look the same as every other black Civic – despite the fact that it looks fantastic. I wanted my own fantastic… And sometimes wanting your own type of style means to stop looking for acceptance from other people.

IMG_7168 copy

As soon as you step across that line of acceptance, you open yourself to criticism and opinion. (The car community is full of that, in case you didn’t already know). Sometimes you even fall into believing that what you’ve done is actually wrong or it looks bad – there’s just so much more politics to building cars than to just building a car.

IMG_2284 copy

As I moved from my first car over to my first real self-bought car, the only thing that changed was my vision to create something right the first time. Parts are one thing, but money is another – the last thing I want to do is waste it on stuff I’ll hate in a few months. I always sat on an idea for weeks before I pulled the trigger just to make sure that was absolutely what I wanted.

IMG_0412 copy

Even today, I still look to top builds for inspiration. They are there for a reason – because they’ve built their car the way that they wanted to without cutting corners. There is just an absolutely insane amount of detail that they see that most overlook and when you have that same type of passion and commitment to go that far and to spend the insane amounts of money we all know go hand in hand with building cars, it’s hard not to notice. Those builds existed back when I was reading magazines, and they still exist today in many forms which I love to follow.

IMG_5972 copy

IMG_5953 copy

In many ways – inspiration is a form of motivation for all things and even a friendly competition at times.

IMG_7119 copy

IMG_2387 copy

I kind of digressed a bit but like I mentioned – I’ve come to a point in my life where my priorities have changed. I have different responsibilities and I can no longer devote all my resources to my car. I can’t get what I want when I want and for the most part, I have to be happy driving something that isn’t going to be a money pit day in and day out. IMG_2879 copy

IMG_4509 copy

I don’t regret spending a single penny on any of my cars nor do I wish I could do something differently. Each shitty part I bought helped me realize it’s better to “invest” (if you can call it that) in something better. Each ricer phase I went through made me realize that hate is very subjective and you shouldn’t lose any sleep over it. I’ve learned plenty of new things in the last 8 years and one of them being my photography – without that, there would be no lifewithjson or photoshoots…

IMG_6146 copy

Finally – we get to the point of all this… After 8 years in the automotive scene and building cars based on people’s opinions to wasting money on shitty parts to learning to make good choices (because afterall, parts aren’t cheap), and learning new skills like how to point and shoot an SLR off of AUTO mode – the best part of it all is actually just getting together with friends and doing what we love the most.

IMG_0188 copy

From starting to put parts on our cars while there’s still snow on the ground…

IMG_2038 copy

To installing things as simple as window visors…

IMG_5478 copy

I think throughout all the years, the best parts weren’t buying expensive wheels, or finally getting your shipment after waiting for a special 4 month order from Japan…

IMG_5541 copy

It was really just spending garage time with the bros on cold spring days because we were anxious to start slapping parts on and because it was warm enough to just work with our hoodies on and a heat dish going…

IMG_5864 copy

… Or getting together to shoot the shit and just stand and admire all the work we’ve put into our cars.

IMG_0747 copy

At the end of the day, your car and the fruits of your labor are best enjoyed with good company, and they really become family over the years because they’re the ones helping you replace that stock exhaust, and they’re the ones passing you the bolt when you’re awkwardly holding your suspension up with both hands and a knee, or when you can’t figure out how to get something off, they’re pulling their hair out with you trying to figure it out. The stress and sweat and happiness when it’s done is shared with those people and frankly – without them, my car(s) wouldn’t be where they were without them.

IMG_5134 copy

The one thing the magazines I read did teach me (aside from the plethora of sick Altezzas I could buy)  is how important your car family really is – they’re the ones that help you out when you need them and also get you to where you are today. You never see a feature without a shout out. You never see an article without props to friends and family for their support. My personal priorities have changed, but I know without a doubt that the second I call the peeps up, they’ll be over before I can get in the garage…

Those are the people you should really build your car for if you’re building for an audience. Those people are family and once you’re in, you’re in… And everybody else can’t sit with us.