Welcome to my Chaos
The Early Years
I grew up in the 90s on a small farm, watching cartoons, building stuff, and taking things apart. So my main visual inspiration is from those 90s cartoons, comic books, heavy machinery, and nature. But at its core I think it’s mostly about building stuff, and connecting seemingly disparate ideas. Whether that’s nature and machinery, or connecting cartoon characters with grungy grimdark settings. This is a recent realization.
As for how it started, I grew up building with legos, or whatever I could get my hands on, and drawing was a way to get my ideas out of my head. Whether that was trying to design new inventions, or designing a fan character for Street Sharks, I was always building something.
There was a lot of copying of Spawn comic books, Dragonball Z characters, and the like, but it always felt like something that I’d never be able to actually accomplish on my own. As I got older, I treated art as a hobby. Something that was fun, but not something that I’d ever be good enough at to turn into a career. The professional artists I looked up to were, in my mind, just born different. Naturally gifted, and I felt that I could never cross that barrier.
My thinking was challenged when I eventually went to the local Community College, and I saw a guy my age (@lagonzart on Instagram) drawing things that were pretty darn close, in my eyes, to what the pros were doing. But he was a student like me. I started talking to him, and after hanging out for a while it clicked: he wasn’t different from me, he just spent a lot of time doing it. If he could do it, I could do it.
We struck up a friendly rivalry and my adventure began.
I took as many art classes as I could and eventually transferred to a very small, very traditional art school where I learned all the foundational skills of drawing, but in an environment quasi-hostile to the type of art I was doing (comic art). But the whole time I knew that I was developing the skills that would give me the versatility to draw comics.
After 3 years I graduated with a BFA in Drawing, and I quit my part time job in the produce department of the local grocery store to pursue my illustration career. No plan, just that I was gonna make it happen. Luckily, I was able to live off of the meager earnings I was making doing odd jobs. As the years went by I took any drawing job I could get, and slowly got fewer and fewer jobs I disliked.
About 4 years ago I reached a point where I was booked nearly year round and was doing mostly just stuff that I wanted to. These included Comic Art, Dungeons & Dragons character art, and Cyberpunk character art, but there was still always this underlying anxiety over whether I was doing things right. Overthinking while working was really draining me.
Over many conversations with illustration friends, eventually a question emerged that made something click: “What would you draw if you didn’t know what it was going to be in the end?” I woke up the next day, took a marker and a piece of paper and just started without a plan. This was the result.
That was the point where I learned that machines weren’t as scary as I had previously thought, and that they were actually what I drew when I let my mind wander. I learned that as long as I’m not trying to copy something, machines are just a matter of putting one shape after the other until the composition is completed. That epiphany would power everything that I’d do in my free time from then until now, and would eventually turn into Mecha Chaotic.
But at first I was just drawing them on my own, and then to a small Twitch audience. Then I had the idea of making it collaborative, so people watching could gain points and use them to buy parts that I had to instantly incorporate into the design. People liked it and were pretty hyped about it, but my Twitch channel never really clicked. Keeping up my energy while only having text replies from chat was really difficult.
At some point in there I started an art discord and merged it with my friend Walter Ostlie’s server. Then we combined with a few other artists’ discords to create the Illustrati discord, an Art Education discord.
In 2019 I ran a successful Kickstarter for a coloring book, The Techno-Necronomicon, featuring a curated selection of these drawings, but couldn’t really gain any traction beyond that. I would sell the occasional shirt, and would sell some coloring books and stickers at conventions, but still nothing crazy other than at the conventions artists I looked up to would approach me and say they liked what I was doing. That was pretty rad.
2020 hit and conventions disappeared, so I just kept doing my thing. Streaming on twitch every once in a while, taking commissions, looking for any opportunity to use my Mecha Epiphany. I even combined it with my love of game design to create a D&D5e cyberware system supplement as a Kickstarter earlier this year which was reasonably successful.
While I was producing the Kickstarter, someone reached out to me about doing a background for their sci-fi NFT project. At the time I had heard about NFTs and wanted to get involved, but didn’t know the first thing about how. There weren’t really any tutorials at that time, so mostly you just had to know somebody. I had this person send me samples of the art and I was sold. The deal was basically too good to be true, “Draw whatever you want for the background for this robot and we will pay you” which was pretty much the dream offer, so I agreed to join a little project called The Vogu Collective and that guy was Andrew Trackzy.
NFT historians already know where this is going, but for the uninitiated, here’s what transpired…
So I was invited to the Vogu discord, which seemed pretty dead. Their twitter was non-existent, but whatever. They were paying me to draw whatever I wanted. Cool! What I didn’t know was that the project hadn’t been announced yet.
The deadline started approaching and I knew I could bang it out in a day or two, but I also wanted to help the project grow. I asked Trackzy if I could stream the process. He was all for it, and I started streaming. For the first day of work I streamed on Twitch. People were over the moon that they got to watch the process, and they loved the craziness that I was drawing.
The next day the project was announced.
The discord shot up 600 members in a day, then another 600 the next day, so on and so forth for about a week. Before that point I was used to seeing 50 people join a server in a day as huge, so this was blowing my mind. I was a little nervous but I streamed a few hours of working on the background every day while I also worked on a comic that I had promised to finish.
Finally once we reached the week before mint ,there were 7,000 members on the server, which was nuts back then. People were hyping up my background hard. It was then that I decided to drop some of the drawings I had been producing over the previous years from this Mecha Epiphany, and there was some interest.
I asked around to some friends I’d made while streaming, got some advice on how to approach things, and put up my “Genesis Drop” auction on OpenSea. It sold for 1.1ETH (which at the time was one of the highest paying pieces of art I had ever done) and over the course of that week made more than my usual yearly salary! (It wasn’t hard, I was living that starving artist lifestyle).
That’s when I realized that my life might be changing…
At that point I reached out to Matt and Mike, and formed Mecha Chaotic. This might sound silly, but I chose them because they’re two of my favorite people to play Dungeons & Dragons with, so I knew that we’d be able to collaborate well and tell rad stories together. I’m forever thankful that they had the availability and said yes. No way I could’ve built this without them.
Two weeks later we started doing weekly drops, and the rest was history.
Every week on Discord I do an interactive stream similar to my Twitch format, and that goes towards a future drop. I was putting them out the same week that I made them until we went on our hiatus in mid September. Now I still do a drawing every week, but they won’t be released until Phase 2.
From the outside it may seem like a still lake with an occasional disturbance on the surface. However, there have been so many things going on under that surface. I’ve been putting everything into making Phase 2 as cool as it possibly can be. All of my waking hours, all of my energy, and a very large portion of my profits from Phase 1 have gone into this. Time spent interviewing people for jobs, meeting about crazy ideas, waking up out of a dead sleep to message people about crazy ideas, and soooo much drawing.
Did I mention puzzle solving? Because there has been a lot of that too.
I’m not the only one who’s been putting in the effort. Everyone on the team has been pushing to make this the leanest, meanest, raddest project we can. Which is something that I am endlessly grateful for. I am so humbled that there are all of these great people who believe in my vision, and are willing to work so hard to bring it to reality.
This project wouldn’t be what it is without them. Everyone has brought their own little flavor to Phase 2, and we’ve got something beautiful coming together.
I know I speak for the whole team when I say: we cannot wait to reveal what we have been working on this Sunday November 7th at 8pm EST on our Discord!
Hold onto your teeth butts.