Metro Manga

People draw inspiration from pretty much anything these days.  Whether you are walking around Central Park, strolling down Eastern Parkway, or staring out a window.  Manga artist Sophocles Plokamakis, founder of “Sophocles Art” and coiner of the term and genre “Metro Manga” finds his visions in the Subways of New York City.  Sophocles Art You Me NYC

Peter Frz:    What genre do you consider your art to be?
Sophocles:  I create comics in the subway which I call Metro Manga because they are inspired by Japanese comics and read from right to left. When I paint Metro Manga on canvas, I’d say that my work is a mixture of Manga and Pop Art. I used to paint in a photo-realistic style, but I much prefer impressionism painting and pop art.

Peter Frz:    Where are you originally from and where are you currently residing and how long?  
Sophocles:  I’m from Astoria, NY a very Greek city in Queens and I live here now for about 8 years but I’ve been in and out of Astoria my whole life. I love how it’s a great mixture of the city and the suburbs. 

Peter Frz:    What is your creative process like and what tools do you use to harness your creativity then transpose to the canvas?
Sophocles: 
 I use a portable clipboard as a drawing pad that holds all my paper and Japanese Kuretake Fude pens (calligraphy brush-pens), sharpies and Japanese animation red and blue color pencils. Sometimes I draw on black paper, usually black card stock. I make the majority of my art in the subway drawing real people on the spot. When I step into the subway, as I’m waiting for my train, I make a composition of Manga Panels starting from right to left. I record my journey from what stop and train I started with so that my readers can see where I was that day. Each panel in manga records a moment in time and I want my Metro Manga to be my daily visual ongoing comic strip, that people can look back on many years from now, like old newspapers as a moment in the history of art. 
Sophocles Art You Me NYC

Sometimes I color my paper manga with Copic sketch markers and more recently I’ve taken them to the next level by making large acrylic paintings of the comic pages that I made in the comic. For my paintings, I use Copic brush pens on top of acrylic paint on the canvas.

Peter Frz:   How has your style changed over the years? 
Sophocles: I started making art when I was 3. It started out very abstract, drawing comic, video game and cartoon characters with accurate colors and costumes but in an extremely simple style. The Heroes all had giant smiles and the villain’s big frowns. I’ve been told by art teachers my whole life that I had good observational skills so as time went on my fan art became more precise, subtle and detailed, but I’ve always been a fan of the more abstract simple design of characters in Japanese cartoons and comics. It was Shonen Jump, a Manga magazine translated into English from Japan that changed my life. At SVA I learned fundamental drawing, painting and sculpting skills and was exposed to different kinds of art I had never looked at before and was encouraged to experiment with different genres of art. I love that school and the effect it had on my journey through the art world.

Today my characters have detail that sets them all apart from one another but they are still simple. I use as few lines as possible to suggest the people of the Subways of the world like an Ukiyo-e (Japanese woodcut print) artist or a Sumi-e (Japanese ink painting) artist. I’m always open to my style constantly evolving and exploring new territory as an artist, which I think is vital if you are to keep growing and coming up with new pieces that have an impact.

Peter Frz:   What do you believe is a key element in creating a good work? 
Sophocles: The key element in making great work is to do what you love. I learned this from my favorite teacher Keith Mayerson in our Principles of Cartooning class in my sophomore year at SVA. Once you find a subject that inspires you the rest is easy because I get overwhelmed by the urge to create something new every time I travel on the Subway. The subway is my main studio so you need to find what moves you and gets you painting, drawing, sculpting, making collages, prints, or even in the other arts, which subject(s) inspire you to create a new song, dance, etc. 

Sophocles Art You Me NYC

Peter Frz:   What lead you to make art a career and was there any adversity from family or friends regarding your decision?
Sophocles: It was my love for cartoons, Manga, comics, video games, museums, and galleries. There was a lot of adversity from family and friends regarding my decision to be a pro artist and art teacher especially those closest to me. You have to push through that, if you are serious about being a pro artist, you got to show your art to people in galleries, the subway, parks, shows and network with artists, curators, and collectors so you can attract more opportunities through other people. 

Peter Frz:   Who or what are your biggest influences?
Sophocles: My biggest influences are Akira Toriyama (Creator of Dragonball and Doctor Slump) and Osamu Tezuka (The God of Manga and creator of Astro Boy) Toriyama’s amazing draftsmanship in Doctor Slump and his action-packed storytelling in DBZ and Tezuka’s Genius level storytelling made me want to make comics, art, cartoons and animated tv series for my whole life. Another huge influence on my life was traveling to Japan twice and visiting all the best manga museums, galleries and shows like the world of Dragonball in Nagoya, and the Osamu Tezuka museum in Takarazuka. That trip changed my life and I began to focus all my energy toward making comics on the subway as opposed to just drawing sketches of the passengers before that. Also, the character Goku always inspired me to want to keep making art and to see just how skilled I could become.

Peter Frz:   What are some of the challenges you face while you are creating?
Sophocles: It’s easier for me to draw in public and make comics on the go than at home. At home sometimes I get distracted. When I’m on the subway there’s always someone who inspires me to make art every time I commute on the trains. A challenge I face when drawing in the subway is when someone gets up and leaves the train before I’m finished drawing them.  However, I solve the problem by playing a drawing game I call MR. Potato Head. I’ll piece together a character in my Metro Manga by drawing other people’s features or clothing onto the original person that I drew so that I am still drawing from life and not inventing things. I find that when I draw from life or quality photo references my drawings look more accurate and polished than when I draw from my head.

Peter Frz:   Is Sophocles Art your first venture and were there any other ventures before Sophocles Art?
Sophocles: 
My business name used to be Sopho Toons (short for Sophocles’ Cartoons) but I changed it to Sophocles Art so people would know the name behind the work. 

Sophocles Art You Me NYC

Peter Frz:   What’s been your greatest artistic success?
Sophocles: I’ve had lots of success in my journey as an artist but I have to say Decemberfest and the other shows I curated at ONE ART SPACE in Tribeca, NYC is my greatest accomplishment. Decemberfest was a 70-artist group show that I curated with my business partner and fellow curator Oriel Ceballos on December 1st 2018. We had 1000+ people come to see the show in only a 3-hour span. There were lines around the corner of the block to get into the show. I have never seen anything like that in all the shows I’ve been a featured artist in, as well as shows in the Chelsea galleries even for big-name artists from the past. I put my all into that show and the results were a testament to the power of GREAT ART and how it inspires a community and the world. 

Peter Frz:   What is next on the horizon for Sophocles Art?
Sophocles: I make a ritual of writing my top 10-20 goals for the year before the new year starts. For 2019 I have 5 more shows to curate at One Art Space. The next one is on April 5-6. Send me a DM if you’d like to learn more on Instagram @sophocles.art. I also want to self-publish 5 books this year featuring my subway art, a children’s book and a look book for my animated TV series that I’m working on.

Sophocles Art Nas You Me NYC

Peter Frz:   Where do you see yourself in the next five years?
Sophocles: In the next five years I see myself earning the money selling my books, art and to travel to all the major cities in the world that have subways and making METRO MANGA a Global project sort of like how Brandon Stanton (HONY) has taken his camera to other parts of the world, however my stories are fictional to give me the freedom of what to write. I see myself exhibiting in NY Comic Con and San Diego Con as well as cons and galleries around the world. I plan to make volumes of books of my travels through the subway systems of the world and drawing on location in other countries as well as places in the U.S.  

Conclusion

Sophocles Art, an innovator in such a crowded, demanding, and high-pressure field, delivers exceptional results and shows that in a craft like this, there is always room for exciting new ideas.  As long as New York City has its subways and urban settings we look forward to seeing what else this dynamic artist brings to the imaginative table of art.

Sophocles Art You Me NYC

  

 

Crown Heights Brooklyn 25 MPH

Crown Heights has been known for a lot of controversy between certain demographics over the years and still has plenty of it.  If you’re a newbie to Brooklyn or New York City, do the research and you’ll discover how much there is.  I was walking up Brooklyn avenue towards Eastern Parkway earlier this morning and I witnessed another controversy, that affects all the  boroughs of New York City and the city itself.

The controversy I’m talking about is speeding.  Speeding is bad.  However, speeding down side streets, in residential neighborhoods, is just plain stupidity.  In our first image referenced below, we have the back of both vehicles that were involved in this traffic atrocity.  From behind it doesn’t look too bad.  What’s really ironic is that they are both the same type of car.  Both are Mercedes Benz E classes, same color and model of E class with similar years.
Crown Heights 25 MPH You Me NYC
The speed limit in New York City is 25 MPH(Miles Per Hour).  It’s 25 MPH for a reason.  Now I know we all grumble about this limit and I am one who has moaned and groaned about the fact the city is slow enough and the last thing we need is to slow it down even more.  However when you see an accident unfold and the aftermath, you kinda change your tune.

Ok, now here is the front one of the cars in the accident.  Now I am no crash expert, however, I can say that this car’s speed was definitely more than 25 MPH.  The victim on the stretcher, I say victim because he’s a pedestrian that got slammed by this vehicle.  There’s a second victim as well, the man’s young son who is not pictured.Crown Heights 25 MPH You Me NYCIf you drive in the city as much as I do or even drive in general, we all get annoyed at pedestrians.  They walk out into the middle of the street, on their cellphones, not paying attention to anything and just blindly cross the street.  This father and son did none of that.  They’re  pedestrians falling victim to the recklessness of someone else.  We as drivers have a responsibility to the pedestrian to be as cautious as possible and that didn’t happen today.

Conclusion

Now I don’t know the cause of this accident, other than the fact that I hear a horn, a loud bang and a father and son receiving the brunt of it.  All I know is I  am a witness to a controversy that affects us all.  People are always going to speed, we all know that.  However, speeding through a residential area is just ludicrous.  The next time you’re driving through a residential area and you need to make time because you are running late,  forget about it.  You’ll get there when you get there.  There is no point to save a few minutes at the cost of injuring or killing someone.

My First

This is my first “Really!!?” submission so please don’t judge me (yeah right, judge me all you want).  I’m a New Yorker all my life, “native” to some and “original” to others.  The fact that I live in the greatest city in the world has its challenges.

Challenges to me are the same as annoyances to others.  We are going to classify annoyances as challenges to be polite.  I am only going to discuss one challenge in this submission because too many challenges can be annoying, no pun intended.

Challenge:

Waiting for my luggage at JFK just pisses me off especially when it’s a small bag but not small enough so it needs to be checked.  Sitting next to annoying people on a flight pisses me off.  Now I know what you’re saying, theses challenges aggravate everyone.  This is very true, however, here comes the curveball.

Last week I’m waiting for my luggage at JFK and of course there are two tourists making their way through the crowd of people.  Two ladies excited because it’s their first time in New York City.  What I find amusing, is that they look at me as if I don’t belong here.  I look back at them and say “First time here”?  They both reply with an emphatic “yes”.  One lady asks “What about you”? “Oh, I’ve been here all my life.” I said.  I don’t know what I’m thinking and why I even asked, however, I figured I would have a little fun.

“You’re so lucky, I wish I could live here” she said.  I responded “Really, you’re standing in the middle of the airport, what are you basing it on?  Where are you from?” as I looked directly in her eyes.  “California!” was her response.  I smiled and then asked “What’s the first thing you plan on doing when you get settled”?  “Go for a run through Central Park.” was her response.

There’s the challenge.  The most exciting city in the world, with everything at your fingertips and you are going to go for a run through “Central Park”.  Really!!?  Not bad for my first one, I welcome the feedback.

Chickens Coming Home to Roost

The chickens have come home to roost and I love every minute of it.  We all know, the “Yellow Cab” industry had quite the monopoly in New York City for years and now it is crumbling.  It was almost impossible to get a cab to take you out of the city a few years ago.  Hailing a cab and taking it to Harlem was out of the question.  The farthest I would get is east 96th street, along with a constant scrutinizing eye on me, from the cab driver, as we made our trek uptown.  Let’s not forget the appalling treatment of the African American and other minority communities as well.Chickens Coming Home to Roost You Me NYCThe chickens have come home to roost now that the rideshare game is in full force.  What amazes me more than anything else, is that instead of coming up with an innovative way to combat the rideshare industry, the medallion owners cry “foul”.  What a bunch of crap, they went and cried to mommy(New York City Council), that they can’t compete.  So what does mommy do, they cap the number of rideshare vehicles for one year and require that drivers be paid a minimum wage as well.

I am all for drivers getting paid a consistent wage and getting paid more.  Driving on the road 8-12 hours a day is a tough gig.  “Our city is directly confronting a crisis that is driving working New Yorkers into poverty and our streets into gridlock,” New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a statement.  I couldn’t disagree more with this statement.  What does ride-share have to do with driving working “New Yorkers” into poverty.  Funny, I thought “Gentrification” is what is driving working “New Yorkers” into poverty.

Gridlock, rideshare is the cause of that too, according to our mayor.  Forget about the fact that almost every street in the city is under construction with lane closures.  What about everywhere you look there is a new luxury building going up?  How many more glass atrocities do we need in the city?

Conclusion

What’s funny about rideshare is that we have already been doing it.  Brooklyn, and all the other boroughs established the “Dollar Van”.  I can’t speak for Staten Island, I have no clue what they did or how they take a cab to that borough.  The “Dollar Van” has been and currently is the equalizer to the “Yellow Cab” industry.

I was in a “Yellow Cab” this morning and it was the usual.  The cab stunk, the driver had a piss-poor attitude and of course he didn’t want to leave the city.  He better remember something, Uber and Lyft drivers have no problem leaving the city.  I have no problem replacing the “Yellow Cab” with a nice, comfortable and enjoyable ride with one of the many rideshare apps at my disposal.  “Yellow Cabs” are a part of New York City history, however it’s a part I don’t mind saying goodby too.

Getting Ready for Mother’s Day!!!

Mother's Day Celebration You Me NYC

The special celebration for all the moms in our life.

For your Mom, Grandmothers, anyone that was like a mother to you when growing up and other special women in our lives! Let’s toast the women who made us awesome.

Let’s celebrate our Mothers day with a fabulous meal and quality time together.

Great food, Wonderful Raffles & Prizes

We are also collecting can goods to donate to a local pantry please help us with this initiative and bring some can goods.

Baldwin Masonic Temple

754 Prospect St, Baldwin, Nassau County, New York 11510

Eventbrite Registration

Larry Nassar What a Scumbag!!!

In case you don’t know who the scumbag photographed below is, he is Larry Nassar.  Who at one time was a world renowned sports and Michigan State University physician, who treated some of the foremost female Olympic gymnasts.  Now he will be serving 40 to 175 years behind bars, after over 150 girls testified against him in court, stating that he had sexually abused them over the past twenty years.Larry Nasser - What a ScumbagNassar had pleaded guilty to seven counts of of criminal sexual misconduct and also admitted to using his trusted medical status, to assault and molest girls under the facade of medical treatment.

He actually wrote a letter to the court which was read by the judge before his sentencing which stated, “I was a good doctor because my treatments worked, and those patients that are now speaking out are the same ones that praised and came back over and over,” Nassar wrote. “The media convinced them that everything I did was wrong and bad. They feel I broke their trust. Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.”  This is coming from a man that had already been sentenced to 60 years in prison for federal child pornography charges as well.

The impact that this scumbag left, on almost all the women that were treated by him, for a sports related injury, conveyed that they struggled with anxiety, depression and instances of self harm due to the abuse.  Others say they no longer trust doctors or they cringe from any physical touch due to the deprave and vile practices of former Doctor Larry Nassar.

Congratulations go out to Larry Nassar for being the first scumbag recognized by this publication for 2018.  This is an individual that misused his authority to take advantage of unsuspecting females and subjected them into acts of perversion.