Author: Robert Cortez

The Binds of Life

This has been life for me lately. The state of the world, the state of my home, the state of my family—all of it seems so chaotic and delicate and imbalanced right now.

I used to believe that, with enough strength and determination, one could handle anything the world threw at them.

This week I had another in a recent series of reminders that, as much as I want to help others and handle things all around me, I can’t forget to take care of my own well-being. 

The past year has been a prolonged exercise in patience and resilience for us all, and just remember it’s okay to take time for yourself whenever possible.

More Green Machine

Here’s a longer trailer for Green Machine that I cut together almost five years ago to the day. This gives a better idea of what we were going for.

This was an exercise in finding the elements like dialogue and shots that could make it all make sense. Add to that finding a way to make it work with the selected music was another lesson establishing tone and energy.

More on the way soon!

My Body is a Cage Once Upon a Time in the West

Finding the right mix of music and film to create something greater than either individual pieces has always fascinated me.

If I had to pinpoint it, the first time I recognized this was the convoy scene in Smokey and the Bandit set to “East Bound and Down”, but clearly that song was meant to go with that film. 

Taking two entirely different pieces from different artists from different times and creating a whole new experience—well that’s even more exciting, isn’t it?

It must’ve been over a decade ago when my friend Scott first showed me this video. At the time, I hadn’t seen Once Upon a Time in the West nor was I familiar with Arcade Fire, but this blend of two completely different works just seemed to come together like magic.

Last week I finally sat down to watch Once Upon a Time in the West. Not only did I find it mesmerizing and intriguing (and shame-inducing that I’d never seen it until now), but understanding the characters and plot made me go find this gem and watch it again. 

Long story short: kudos to JT Helms or whoever first conjured this.

If you haven’t seen this before or seen the film or heard the song, do all three.

Where to find episodes of Sketch and Release podcast

Sketch and Release podcast services

Second episode of the podcast is out!

I talk about how I’ve learned to recognize and overcome limitations and how that can be a valuable tool even outside of creative work.

You can find each episode of Sketch and Release here and on Patreon at patreon.com/robertcortez.

Patrons can watch the full video episode and finished artwork, and use the Patreon app to automatically get notified when new episodes are available.

You can also listen and subscribe to the podcast at:

Apple Podcasts | Google Podcasts | Spotify | Stitcher 

Get your podcasts some other way? Let me know!

Sketch and Release

The last time I recorded a podcast was almost seven years ago. I’ve been wanting to get back to it for a long time but also try something different for Patreon.

I started working on podcasts in 2005 with Podtacular ,which I’m sure must be the longest-running Halo podcast at this point. Through building their website and contributing to the podcast, I learned so much about online communities and met some of the best people I’ve ever had the pleasure of fragging trucks with.

In 2008, I co-hosted the PiQ podcast the best people I ever made a nerdy entertainment magazine with. We got four of those in the can before the whole affair was ripped out of our hands.

We managed to pull the energy back together on our own in 2010 with Sodapop Journal because there just weren’t enough podcasts with people talking about movies! I’m always down to talk about movies and filmmaking, but at the time, the struggle of trying to figure out what now amounts to a simple Zoom call and keeping a regular schedule led to it gradually coming to a quiet end in 2014. (I’m still surprised that Joe Rogan has unknowingly kept the name alive after all this time, but that’s for another time.)

Now in 2021, I’m starting the machine up again. I learned a lot from the past, and in a way, I’m using that to know where I don’t want things to go.

I don’t want it to be complicated.

I don’t want it to be a chore.

I don’t want it to be another job.

So I’m going to do what I do anyway: draw something and let it go.

Sketch. Release.

Check it out here or find it where you get podcasts.

Video feed is available on Patreon.

Here’s to new beginnings!

It’s Time to Step Into the Future

A year ago, I was riding high on a renewed interest in creating more artwork. I started drawing, writing, recording with the hopes that the coming year might open up some big opportunities.

Since 2020 didn’t quite work out like any of us planned, I started looking for other ways to share my work and support my passion to keep creating. Starting now, I’ll be using Patreon as the platform for sharing my work.

What’s in it for you?

For a monthly pledge, patrons will get to follow the development of these projects and more:

  • Treadbeats (graphic novel)
  • The Spark in the Dark (animated short film)
  • The Schoolyard (novel)
  • Mal (short film)
  • One Against (novel)
  • Dare Me (film)
  • The Untrilogy – Unexpected, Unrest, Undone (film)

If these titles don’t mean anything right now, that’s okay. This mix of art, writing and film projects have been a part of my life for the last several years, and I’m determined to share them with you.

Anything else?

Building on this creative momentum, I’ll also be adding more perks for patrons, including:

  • Original artwork including notes, sketches and commentary
  • Companion playlists
  • Exclusive digital downloads (wallpapers, posters, music and more)
  • Exclusive videos and short films
  • TWO new podcasts
    • Sketch and Release
    • Sounds from the Hardgrounds

I’ll still post some occasional peeks at this new stuff on social media, but Patreon is the place to follow the creative process and see how these and other ideas become a reality. Only there will you see things before anyone else anywhere else.

How much?

One dollar a month.

You can follow the page for access to free things, but some goodies will only be available with a pledge. Right now the goal is to find an audience that’s genuinely interested more than making money. So let’s start small.

Until then, that’s a lot for just $1 a month, right?

Become a Patron!

My Strange and Curious Sights From 2020

My top nine Instagram posts of 2020

I started the year with scattered ideas and no solid direction, but world events found their way into my work in more ways than I realized at the time. While my approach to illustration definitely evolved and improved, my ideas also started to take shape. I decided to back away from posting to focus on that, so here’s how 2020 ended up.

I’d normally share these top nine with pride, but I think it might have been different if you saw what’s coming next. 😉

Strangeness in the Proportion

There is no excellent beauty that hath not some strangeness in the proportion.”

Francis Bacon

In August 2019, I set a goal of drawing and sharing something new everyday, and I ended up drawing more in five months than I had in the previous five years.

Whether it took me minutes or days or even years to complete, self-consciousness and doubt and fear have always been hard to overcome because I was aiming for excellence. The result is far less finished work with only slightly-improving quality. After more than 30 years of calling myself an artist, I really should have much more to show for it.

For so long, I thought art was a matter of crafting perfection, but making something that I’m happy with is more important than creating a masterpiece. An artist doesn’t have the power to deem their work good or bad or anything beyond that. That belongs to the viewer.

So this first drawing of the year represents the incredible vulnerability of sharing my personal art with the world and what 2019 taught me about embracing the discomfort that comes with it.

Today, my only concern is communicating what’s in my head (be it amusing, weird, fantastical or downright disturbing) and that I’ve done it to the degree I think is most appropriate — not the best, or the fastest, or even the clearest. Better to let it be rough or unusual or embarrassing instead of never letting it be at all.

Thank you to everyone that showed love and encouragement for what I’ve shared so far. Turns out I needed it so much more now than ever before. There’s much more to come in 2020, and I hope you’re down for the ride.