An Artist’s Work is Never Done: 82 Unfinished works of Alex Hinders

Sometimes, as a creative person, I get frustrated. As a society we put little value into art and even less value into artists. I suppose some of this is influenced by our muddled economy which makes purchasing art difficult for the average part — and I understand that bit. (I’d love to be able to support my fellow artists.) But sometimes I get the feeling that society, as a whole, would see more value in me if I worked any random nine-to-five job than it would if I were an artist. And that’s because, you know, work is work, and art is just playing around.

While it’s true that art has both a spiritual and recreational element to it, it also takes plenty of time and energy. Some people will look at the body of an artist’s work and say, “Look at all of this art! Look at how much work they do!” But I don’t believe that gives us a full picture of how much work an artist does. That’s because we usually only see somebody’s finished works and assume that’s everything they’e done. But the truth is, lots of works go unfinished.

This unfinished work is invisible to the public. After all, what’s the point in seeing a work of art if it isn’t complete? Sometimes the sketchbooks of artists do get published and sometimes people are indeed curious about them. But that’s about all the unfinished work seems to be — something trivial. Something to be consumed quickly, forgotten, and then discarded.

But this unfinished work was indeed work. It took time, energy, and spirit. I happen to have a good deal of unfinished drawings that I keep in a folder. On each of these drawings I probably spent between an hour and three hours. They’re not unfinished because I’m a lazy person. These drawings are unfinished because either something in my life distracted me or I felt that my time would be better used working on some other project.

So I present to you the following thesis: In order to fully appreciate the work that an artist does you must also see their unfinished works.

With that in mind, here’s 82 unfinished drawings from between the years 2011 and 2015.
I’ve tried to label the year when they were started but they might not be entirely accurate. For some reason I can look at a drawing and remember where I was when I made it. Then I just figure out which apartment I was living in back then and then I have a year or a range of years when it could have been made. I realize these works are unfinished, but they represented my life and my mind at the time they were drawn, so I feel the year is important to note.

Here comes the music.


2011. This was another drawing done in the wake of my break-up with the Purple Girl. Part way into coloring this drawing I realized I was sick of dwelling on this subject and just stopped. I find it really fascinating when you ( and I) can see the point where I stopped coloring. Notice, also, that this drawing was set to feature a good deal of red and purple — perhaps if I had finished it then I would have gone through my red and purple phase sooner? It seems the seeds were already planted in my mind somewhere. .

2012/2013. This was going to be another drawing featuring the Detective.

Very late 2012/ Very early 2013. I was not pleased with some of the changes at my workplace.I wasn’t pleased with how the black mixed with the red in this piece so I just shelved the drawing all together.


2014. I was undergoing a regeneration of sorts. In the long running British Sc-Fi TV show, Doctor Who, the title character will occasionally regenerate into a new body with a slightly different personality. This was me undergoing such an experience.

2013. A drawing inspired by The Legend of Zelda series. I guess a lot of people don’t see the owl as an iconic symbol for the series anymore but it was heavily featured from the Game Boy game to the N64 title. This would have been a drawing where I got to play with the gold colored pencil.

2013. A drawing inspired by the Sonic the Hedgehog series.
2011/2012. A reference to the video game Earthbound. (Mother 2 in Japan.)
2014. A reference to the video game Mother 3.
2014. A reference to the video game Chrono Cross.

2014. This was going to be a reflection on the fact it was the first year where I missed Iowa’s beautiful season of Autumn.

2012/2013. I had colored something kind of like this drawing, so I skipped it in favor of something else.


Late 2013. This was an impression I had of New Mexico buildings when I first visited the area.


Unknown year. I only used the smaller tipped pen for this and it had an interesting effect. Because of this, however, I have no idea when it was actually made.

2011/2012. This drawing seemed to have something to do with animals.


2013. Lots of cute girls.

2012/2013. This one is one of the unfinished drawings that really lingers in my mind. It’s working title was “The Military-Industrial Complex,” and that’s what it was about.

The Pirate, Pt. I
Alex Hinders, 2012.
Colored pencil and pen.

This one is pretty much finished, I guess. I used the wrong shade of green on a portion of the treasure map and I never thought of a way to even out the colors to make it work. I suppose I could finish it now but it feels like a drawing done by a person very far away from the person I am now. So I’m sort of leaving it in peace.

The Pirate, Pt. 2.
The basically plot line of the Pirate Sequence was that the Pirate found a treasure chest that he couldn’t open. He didn’t know it, but the chest was haunted by a ghost who needed his help but couldn’t communicate with the Pirate. I think there was a third drawing to the sequence, too, but I can’t find it now.

2013. I was going to go with a watery color scheme for this one.

2013. I was going to try to color the bunnies in bright neon colors but this drawing was never a high priority for me. I eventually forgot about it.

Late 2012. This was another drawing dealing with the Sphinx’s riddle. This time the riddle had to do with the future.

2011. This was a bit more of an experimental piece. I was never sure if I really liked it or not.

Late 2012. This was Tripitaka, the Monk who went to get some scriptures along with The Monkey King and a few other monster spirits.

2012. The working title for this one was going to be “Funeral.” I was really going to experiment with dark colors on this one. However, I couldn’t really discern anything in the background and that lessened my enthusiasm.


2013. I think that the magician was evil.


2011. This was an abstract landscape of sorts. I was going to color it with the ‘sky’ colors on the land and the ‘land’ colors in the sky.

2013. Young Heroine Sequence. This was a series of drawings about the Heroine when she was younger — she lived in a castle and wasn’t allowed to leave.

2013. Young Heroine Sequence, Pt. II. The Young Heroine learned swordplay from her father who was a knight for the kingdom.

2013. Young Heroine Sequence, part something. I don’t think this was part three, or if it was directly related to the previous two drawings. But clearly the Young Heroine finds a genie somewhere in the castle and is allowed to make a wish.


2013. This is what the Heroine was up to during the Fairy Sequence. There was also a drawing form this time that featured the Heroine meeting the Pirate on this same mountain path but I can’t find it now.

2013. This is what the Wizard was up to while the Warlock was watching him in the Fairy Sequence, Pt. V.  He seemed to be helping the fairies with something.

2014. A drawing of the Heroine.

2013. A drawing of The Heroine, myself, and the Fairy. In this drawing The Fairy was taking a lot more visual cues from Nina of the Breath of Fire series, who I think my sub-conscious mind was inspired by.
2014. It looks like the Heroine was dealing with some interesting characters at the time.
2014. This was going to be another drawing for my Wizard’s children book. It turned out nice enough, but the Wizard was stylistically more similar to how he appeared in the Heroine Sequence than in the Wizard Sequence.


2013. Another golem

2012/2013. This was either a golem or a mummy.

2012. Someone looking at a high school student.


2013: I’m not sure what’s going on in this one.
2011: Inspired by Doctor Who.
2012: Something more domestic.
2013: An astronaut repairing a damaged part of the ship.
2012: At the time I thought this might be Final Fantasy inspired, but now I don’t think that’s quite right.
2011/2012: Fun fact — the night after I scanned this image I had a nightmare about the scorpion monster. In this dream I had a roommate and the scorpion monster was her pet. It ran around the room making this awful noise. I was terrified! My roommate tried to tell me that this sound meant it was happy but it was just so scary! I woke up and realized the ‘happy’ noises coming from the scorpion monster were just the squeaking of my hamster’s wheel.


2012: I thought about coloring this one but I felt it would look too much like the Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde drawing.
2011/2012: I thought this would be fun for experimenting with something to make it look ghostly. However, I wasn’t sure if this was an offensive use of stereotyping or not, so I figured I’d just shelve it. I always have plenty of things to color, after all.
2013/2014: Tripitaka has a monkey on his back — and unfortunately, it’s the Monkey King.
2013: I drew this one while watching Buffy. I think it’s supposed to represent the character of Anya who becomes rather enamored with being a shopkeeper. It probably works on a level just regarding money and capitalism, though.
Unknown year. That’s me, holding a hamster.
2012/2013: A soldier salutes a lady — or is it a mermaid? Hard to say.
2012: This is a picture of a person cut up. I thought it was ugly so I skipped it.
Unknown year: A bunch of abstract shapes. You can tell the marker I was using was drying out. That doesn’t matter when I’m first outlining a drawing, since I have to re-outline everything after I color it.
2012/2013: Mickey and Minnie Mouse being expelled from the Garden of Eden. I liked the concept but I didn’t like how the mice came out.
2015. A person and some shapes. I still might color this one someday.
2015. This might have been a follow up to Puzzle Game.
2015. A dragon is perched on top of a cliff. I really disliked his torso — it looked like a Lego brick.
2015. An alligator riding a lawnmower. I think this would look pretty good on a t-shirt.
2014/2015: A phoenix.
2014. I just thought this one was ugly.
2016. I thought a good title for this one would be “Alex is Cold.”
2015. Abstract shapes.
2015. More abstract shapes.
2014/2015. Chaos and confusion!
2015. I’m not sure why I stopped coloring this one. There’s nothing wrong with it, really.
2012/2013. A very nice looking head, for sure. But I couldn’t see anything else in the drawing.
2014/2015: This seemed like a pretty cool drawing, but I didn’t know what to do with all of that negative space. I couldn’t see anything below the window the lady is peaking out of.
2011: That’s myself staring through a time portal looking at my past-self on the computer.
2012/2013. A drawing about income disparity.
2011/2012. A guru-looking fellow stands beneath a bell. If you look in the pencil lines next to him you’ll see a lady seems to be seeking his advice — or worrying about the strength of the rope tied to the bell.
2012/2013. An archway.
2015. A rather unenthusiastic self portrait.
2015. This was actually an emotional reaction to a crappy job I had that involved food service. The customers were lovely people but the guy I took orders from? Well…He’s taking on the form of a rather militaristic chef here.
Year unknown. It’s a lot harder for me to pinpoint the year on a drawing if it’s completely abstract, it seems.
2015. I did this one around the same time as One Letter.
2015. This is a reference to Pink Floyd’s The Wall. Through out the course of the performance a wall is being built on stage and during the last song of the first act Roger Waters sings a song with only his head visible. Afterwards, the last brick is put in place and the rest of the narrative takes place entirely ‘behind the wall’ — that is, to say within the protagonist’s the mind. The wall is a concrete metaphor, you see. This is sort of blurring the performance of the album with the narrative of the recorded album, though.
2015. The tentative title for this one was “At Least I Have a Hamster.”
2015. Some sort of abstract castle, perhaps? I imagined bright swirling greens and blues in this one.
2015. Sitting on a block with her back to some sort of crazy rainbow-seashell world.
2015. Working title was “Alex is tied in knots.”
2014/2015. A damsel in emotional distress.
2014/2015. Working title is “A Hamster in the Hand.”
2014/2015. I think this was going to be another part in the self portrait series.

The Fairy Sequence, Pt. VIII

The Fairy Sequence, Pt. VIII
Alex Hinders, 2013/2014.
Colored pencil and pen.

The Fairy slam-dunked the evil mixture into her cauldron of cleansing solution, thereby destroying the vile liquid. Angered, the Warlock cried that given time, he could gather the ingredients required to make another batch of the transformation potion, so this was only a temporary loss for him. The Fairy disagreed — she said that she’d spread word about the potion, its effects, and its creator far across the land. This way, should the potion ever be used, people would see the transformed creature as a victim and instantly know who the culprit was.

The logic in this statement pierced the cloud of anger that was fogging the Warlock’s mind, and he stomped off, disgruntled. The Fairy stayed true to her word and made sure that the entire continent knew about the potion and how to reverse the effects; The Fairy even sent a personal communication to the Wizard concerning the Warlock’s scheme. Having foiled the plans of an infamous villain, the Fairy gained a good deal of respect from the greater magical community, as well as from her fellow countrymen. Things were only looking up for the Fairy and her future seemed brighter than ever; the warlock was at an all-time low and returned to the shadows, sulking.

Puzzle Game


Puzzle Game
Alex Hinders, 2013/2014.
Colored pencil and pen.

This is one of a series of drawings I sketched out while on my initial visit to New Mexico — the one where I had to decide whether or not I wanted to move to this new location. While I was visiting I held a critical eye to the world around me, appraising everything, and wondering, is this where I want to be? Apparently my unconscious mind saw how much I was thinking about this decision and spit out this image that looks like a simple puzzle game from the mid 90’s. I enjoyed the concept of puzzle games — like Tetris, Dr. Mario, Bust-a-Move, Panel de Pon/Tetris Attack, and the like, though I was never terribly good at them. I guess I do a bit better at the puzzle game that is Real Life.

On a side note, the puzzle the game depicted in this drawing looks like some sort of diagonal variant of Yoshi’s Cookie, except with an extra mechanic that lets you keep certain shapes. Or maybe every few seconds the computer gives you another shape in your inventory box and you have to line it up somehow? Shoot. I just can’t figure out how that game would play!

The Fairy Sequence, Pt. VII


The Fairy Sequence, Pt. VII
Alex Hinders, 2013/2014.
Colored pencil and pen.

Although she had the potion in her possession, The Fairy could only destroy the devious mixture in a special cleansing solution. If even a few drops were to land on plants on the ground they could transform the harmless vegetation into twisted monstrosities. So the Fairy was forced to make a bee-line for her workshop while the Warlock thundered behind her, hurling his worst magic spells in her direction.

The Fairy Sequence, Pt. VI


The Fairy Sequence, Pt. VI
Alex Hinders, 2013/2014.
Colored pencil and pen.

The Fairy knew that she couldn’t risk a direct confrontation with the magic-savvy Warlock, but she was also aware that she had the element of surprise on her side. Using a vibration spell, she shattered the crystal the Warlock was using to spy on the Wizard, and quickly slipped into the manor during the confusion. Just as the Warlock was able to get his mind around what had happened the Fairy had flown out the window with the new batch of transformation potion! Enraged, the Warlock sprinted off after the Fairy.


Alex Hinders, 2013.
Colored Pencil and pen.

This is a drawing that I almost didn’t bother coloring because the subject matter wasn’t terribly interesting to me. However, I realized that since I wasn’t attached to this drawing that I wouldn’t be upset if I were to screw it up. I used it as an opportunity to do an experiment in the way I color. Instead of doing my usual method of shading in gentle gradients I carved the color in with a bunch of angry crisscrossing lines. The results are interesting. I’m not sure if I would use this coloring method again but I guess it was worth a shot.


 Zodiac Panic!
Alex R. Hinders
Colored pencil and pen.

This drawing contains a personal mythology. You’re familiar with the concept of a Zodiac, right? That somehow an element of your birth — be it the time, the year, or the alignment of the stars — is reflected in an archetype. Each archetype is represented by a God, animal, constellation, or other such nonsense. If you’ve ever sat waiting at a Chinese restaurant or pondered on the nature of birthstones in jewelry then you’ve probably encountered the concept. For example, I was born in the year of the Rabbit and my sign is Aries, the Ram. If you’re into astrology then that might predict of describe characteristics about myself.

Well, the figures in Zodiac Panic! are The Rabbit, The Farmer, The Wolf, and the Worm. The Farmer seems to be angry at The Rabbit, who is oblivious to whatever it has done to warrant this fury. The Wolf seems to have a silent agenda against the unsuspecting Farmer; meanwhile, nobody cares about the Worm but the Worm is terrified of everything anyway.

It’s obvious that the Rabbit is my sign, but while doing some research via Google I came about the revelation that a long time ago the constellation of Aries was depicted as a farmhand. That’s interesting, because I don’t remember ever knowing that — I’m aware that the ram is connected to Aries but I’ve never felt any personal connection to that particular animal. Also, when the Chinese were connecting the dots in the sky, they drew a sickle with those dots, and associated it with the sacrifice of cattle, which again takes us back to the farm. Hence the Farmer.

The Wolf is an animal I’ve long associated as a sort of spirit animal, along with the hamster and perhaps the bear. When I was in high school my own secret and personal middle finger to the fashion world was to wear T-shirts with wolves on them that I bought from souvenir shops; it got to the point where I could go about two weeks without wearing a non-wolf shirt. I suppose I romantically respond to the sorrow and the forlorn nature of the wolf, and the lone wolf — especially those angst-ridden years when I felt so distant from the pack. So the wolf is an obvious choice for my Zodiac.

The Worm is a bit more perplexing. At first, it makes me think of Yggdrasil, the tree which was said to contain heaven, hell, earth, and everything from its roots to its outer branches. The Worm circles behind the other three figures and also encircles the cosmos and time, as evidenced by the Earth with its clock-hands. Also, I’ve always been fond of the figure of Nidhogger, the serpent that lives underneath Yggdrasil that will awaken during the Ragnarok — the final battle to the death of the Gods — and will destroy Yggdrasil in the process. So the Worm is the weakest and the strongest in my Zodiac.

This reminds me of a Tarot card Archetype I’ve been relating to recently: The Fool. The Tarot cards are basically a poetic story of the evolution of a person’s character from birth to enlightenment. Everyone starts out as the Fool, knowing nothing; sometimes this is comical, but when a Fool doesn’t know they’re a Fool tragic things can happen. At the end of the Tarot is the World, which is a sense of understanding of where you exist in the world and the scheme of things. However, the Tarot was also a bunch of face cards — sort of like the Jack, The Queen, and the King we play with today. The Fool was like the Ace — it could be the lowest number or the highest number, depending. This is because supposedly, after you find the World, you realize you’re just a Fool and the whole god damned divine comedy starts over again with you as the lovable half-wit at center stage.

I used to find myself relating to The Hanged Man Tarot card the most. That particular card represented a person who — due to personal flaws, demons, and obstacles — was unable to move forward in their spiritual growth. That pretty much describes me from late middle school to the end of college. I’d like to think that for the time I’ve gotten over that — but I can’t help but notice that this Foolish Worm is coiled like a rope, and you know what happens to someone with too much rope.

After talking about things like I know what I’m saying I like to point out if I’m an expert in something or not — and usually I’m not. This is one such case as I’ve no formal degree in mythology or astrology or stuff like that; these subjects are just things I find interesting. The information in this post comes from memory and my own research, so don’t go citing it in a paper or anything. Regardless if the information is flawed or not, though, that’s what makes up this drawing and will help you understand it. Thank you, thank you; you’ve been a great audience — have a save drive home, everyone!

Leather Jacket


 Leather Jacket
Alex Hinders, 2013.
Colored pencil and pen.

This drawing was done months before Enter New Friend and is about the same person. I’d often joked that I thought she’d look good in a leather jacket — a statement later proven true — and this was a playful sub-conscious manifestation of that. I realized later, though, that besides making the Leather Jacket girl look more bad-ass, the broken bits of brick wall represent me lowering my defenses. The bricks are blue, which is the color I usually take on when I appear in my own art, and — have you ever listened to The Wall by Pink Floyd?  It’s about someone who creates a wall between them and the world and how they suffer behind that wall. The rock opera ends when the wall is torn is apart and the protagonist sees his loved ones in the rubble of the fallen wall. Yeah, I’m pretty sure that is being referenced here.


Waiting in the Wings


Waiting in the Wings
Alex Hinders, 2013.
Colored pencil and pen.

It’s funny how the subject of a drawing can quietly slip away. .The purple in this angel’s coat isn’t really conspicuous enough to give it a bold distinction from the various shades of blue lingering around the drawing — it’s only a subtle division. If I had colored the coat in the same shades as the little crystals, then the coat would just be large blocks of color. If I hadn’t highlighted the wings, feet, and head of the angel then the main focus of the drawing would have disappeared in the wallpaper, so to speak; the angel would have been hidden.

I thought it was fascinating that if I wanted to I could have taken the focus out of the drawing. When I’ve got the outline of a drawing down the image is only half-way out of its quantum state — there’s still all of these possible color combinations competing for dominance. Then I choose a color scheme and all of the possibilities are peeled away leaving only the final product. I could do multiple different colorings of the same drawing if I wanted to, but as I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I don’t want to drag my feet on the same drawing forever — I’ve got a lot of things I want to do.

As for the meaning of the drawing, I suppose it would depend on how much my fascination with focus interacts with the actual image of an angel. If you just want to look at the angel — who seems to be imbued with both grace and patience — Then I suppose you could take it as hope existing in the background of our lives. If you read a bit more into the meta-stuff I’ve rambled on about then you could say this drawing is about how we often can’t see any hope but that it still exists. Or maybe this drawing is just a playful reflection on focus in art.

Maybe there’s no meaning at all. Ooo, that’s unsettling.