About Me

Hi there, I’m Ace Custodio.  Yes, that’s my real first name.

My parents had this idea to pick random letters like you would pick random numbers in a lottery ticket to make up names with it after giving birth.  I’m the second-born of five.  My siblings all have unique made-up names.

As luck would have it, the randomly strung-together letters formed an English word, hence the name “Ace.”

For the first 10 years of my life, I had lived in a rural area of the Philippines where we had rice farms, chicken coops, pigs, water buffaloes, tamarind, guava and mango trees.

We sold the crops and products from our farm to live on. 

We also had a transportation business.  It was kind of like a mass transit bus business, except the vehicles are much smaller and can only carry about 25 people at most. 

I mention this transportation business because we employed drivers who picked us up from home and took us to elementary school in the mass transit mini bus. 

After school, the drivers would run the transit routes while carrying me and my brother in the front seat.  We would just sit there and figure out ways to entertain ourselves and kill time.

This was the 1980s, there were no iPads to watch cartoons on.  We had only our homework, some paper, a few broken crayons and a pencil to entertain ourselves with.

I started drawing cartoon characters from shows I loved back then.  Shows I watched in our wood-encased, black and white TV with the oven knob channel dial.  Sometimes, the wire antenna would pick up a signal, but most days, just pure static.

My favorite show to watch was Transformers. 

Man, these characters were EASY to draw.  It required just two main principles.  Block shapes and shadows!

This is Decepticon’s Megatron from Transformers. This is the classic 80s look from the cartoons. The movies ruined the original designs of these characters.

I had a great time drawing these characters, all I needed was a pencil and paper.  I didn’t have an eraser, so I had to get my lines right the first time, or else the art is ruined (I thought).

While on a shopping trip in the city, I passed an aisle of very colorful and vibrant-looking toys that I was very very familiar with. 

They were the Transformers action figures in a carefully encased display!  I was excited, but also kind of shocked. 

This whole time, they had color!  All of my hard work, trying to get the right shade of gray, and the darker black lines were all for nothing!

I worked hard trying to draw as close to realistic as I could with those alien robot characters.  But, I realize two things early on.

One, I feel more joy when I’m sketching through my own interpretation of what I want them to look like, instead of what they actually look like.

And two, I would rather draw from a black and white TV reference.  Meaning, a fine liner pencil and a smooth surface to draw on is enough for me.

I quit drawing when we immigrated to the States. 

Maybe there were too many disrupting things going on in a 10-year old’s mind, I guess.  Or maybe it was this whole new school I’m suddenly attending where the kids don’t all look like Filipinos. 

Actually, there were no other Filipinos in my entire 4th grade class. 

Drawing and sketching or anything creative was kind of replaced by new priorities, like community donated clothes (too broke to buy our own).  Or, how my parents can find a minimum wage job.

I didn’t get back into drawing until I started middle school in 1992 and the comic book scene started exploding.  Almost every pre-pubescent boy had these wonderfully drawn comic books by legendary artists.

If you were to compare comic book art styles from the 1940s-1980s and the 1990s.  You’ll notice an immediate difference.  

It was artwork from comic books by Jim Lee (Batman, Wonder Woman, X-men), Rob Liefeld (creator of Deadpool), Todd McFarlane (Spawn, Spiderman) that inspired me to pick up a pencil and draw on paper again. 

I immersed myself in art when I started high school.  I joined a poetry club (because they needed artists to draw the poem submissions).  My art teachers entered my pieces in every exhibit they had on schedule.

I had even started a comic book publishing club!

I found us a writer, a colorist, and used a lab in school to print our copies.  I would do the pencils and inks, of course.

It was fun, for about a week.

It failed quickly because we lacked the laser focus it requires and disagreed on our main purpose. I lost a few friends when we disbanded that little group.

My hope was to be a professional comic artist after the fallout of that little publishing club, so I went back to practicing daily. But, I quickly lost focus again.

Because, I met a girl.

She’s not just any girl, but a girl that would someday be my future wife. 

What?!?!  That really happens, in real life?  I’m not sure what the success rate is when you meet someone in High School and they become your “forever” person but this one decided to stick around and see what else life had to offer.

I met her in my junior year of high school, and suddenly my priorities were no longer to draw every spare moment of my life.  I replaced my drawing time with writing long and short notes to her.

Text or email weren’t available back then.  Can you imagine, the ONLY way people communicated in real-time other than in real-life is through speaking on the telephone?

And our telephone calls were limited, too. Her parents had some kind of time limit about when we could talk on the phone and for how long.

It was hard to even find the time to be on the phone because I wouldn’t be home from wrestling practice until 6 or 7 PM.  She wouldn’t be home either from cheerleading practice until even later than that.  When we had games or matches, we’d be home much later.

So, I used the limited time available to write her letters, to get to know her better through handwritten form.  We had LONG conversations on these letters too. 

Looking back, I suppose the writing flexed another kind of creative muscle.

After high school, I attended Mount St. Mary’s University. It’s a small Catholic, liberal arts college where assignments are 90% writing and 10% reading. The reading assignments are always so you can come up with material to write about.

I enrolled as an art major and got in with a 1020 SAT score. I remember writing a very very persuasive essay on why I’m the most promising art student this small school will ever see.

I had included copies of my art pieces in my college application too. Of course, these are pictures taken of my best work on public display to show that my half-baked clay sculpture is somewhat worthy enough of public admiration.

When I got to college, I suddenly believed that I didn’t want to be another starving artist. And promptly changed my major to Finance.

I don’t know why I started thinking that all artists starve or those who sold their work for large sums of money are already dead long before their work is recognized.

I was naive.

After graduating college, I held jobs in Information Technology. But, in 2007 I quit working altogether and decided to be a stay-at-home dad.

Now that my youngest son is in school full-time, I have pretty much from 9:30 AM to 4:30 PM to work on my art.

I guess you can say that I’m learning the craft again. I’m learning to sketch with different sized pencil tips. I’m learning which paper and what weight allows my strokes to glide freely.

I have also tried painting in acrylic and watercolor, but I don’t find joy in those mediums. I really enjoy pencil sketching comic book characters.

So, this is my pencil, sketchbook, artist journey and I’m so glad you’re here to witness it.