Flying like the Moon, Acrylic on Canvas.
I apologize for the terrible photo.

Giving it a Go: Planning Stages

Flying like the Moon, Acrylic on Canvas. I apologize for the terrible photo.

Flying like the Moon, Acrylic on Canvas.
I apologize for the terrible photo.
We all have things we strive for. Some of us want to reach for the Moon, others the Sun and still more, the Stars. I am happy with the Moon.

Sometime this past week or so I decided that I would try and sell my art, maybe even try making a living at it.

Like everything that can be considered a “big step” or “big deal,” I am going to do things in some kind of order.

1. Research / Planing

2. Small Gears first

3. Medium Gears / Balancing dreams

4. Go for Broke

I am going to do some research.  I need to find out the costs of getting scans and prints made.  Find out how to protect my art.  Do I need a business license or something of the sort and plan for any financial problems. Figure out how much time I can devote to this endeavor. I can do my own website and what not, woo.

I want to do some small things first.  I plan on starting online with prints, cards and the like.  I am not sure if I want to use Deviant Art’s store and print shop or if I should go with Etsy or Shopify and manage inventory myself.  Questions like this is why planning is important.

I want to go into this with a plan. Plans are good.

I want to start submitting stuff into contests or open art calls.  I think this kind of thing could be really fun (and very stressful.)  I know that I will need to start talking to more people (scary) and promoting myself more.

I really, really want to work my art into web development some how.  Web development is an art in itself.  I it is not something I want to give up on.  At this point I can see myself doing both and being good at it.

I am not sure yet if I want to paint/draw full time or do web dev full time.  They are both very interesting.

The goal, like so many others, is to quit my “day” job and do what I decide is the way I want to go.

Who knows what a year (or more) will bring.  I may fail and be working at a minimum wage job. I may be successful as a painter and share my vision with colors and brushes. I may get some better coding education and take off as a web developer who shares the world in code.

Who knows.

I kind of like the not knowing.

The planning and research that happens when you decide you would like to try something.  Figuring out potential pitfalls or successes.  It is interesting and fun… in a scary way.

Now that I have these thoughts out of my head, maybe I can sleep.

Night!

A Change in Method (Marketing)

Every day, on my walk home, I think about things.  I let my mind wander to see what it will come up with.   I try my best to keep it productive, things that could actually be done, though my mind does wander off into the realm of the impractical from time to time.  Lately I have been thinking about marketing and ways to use social media for a variety of things.

Investor figure 3

Artists moving from traditional forms to digital forms can start to understand what business accountants have to deal with when it comes to intangibles. A painting is tangible, but a digital painting is not. When you put things online you are selling the digital representation of the painting.

As a part of my interest in Washington State’s Commute Trip Reduction requirements, my organization has to put forth a “good faith effort” to get our employees to and from work without driving alone.  I have been working on the marketing for the program for four or five years and I have pretty much run out of ways to do “traditional” marketing methods (flyers, promotions, word of mouth, electric reader boards etc.)  I have been working on using Facebook as a marketing platform to get information out.

I chose Facebook for one reason, I am not putting out content 3 to 6 times a day on a schedule.  Usually I will spend an hour or so in the morning reviewing posts from similar agencies or agencies that will effect CTR participants and repost their relevant posts.  My other goal is to have at minimum one original post.  Some days it is a inspirational or funny quote or a short FYI or blog post I discovered while researching for marketing materials.

I have been tinkering with some ideas about creating some survey’s geared towards helping people figure out if alternative commuting is worth looking at (crazy schedules can be a hindrance.)  I would also like to make a fun survey about what kind of commuter the person might be (grumpy bus rider, road rage driven carpool passenger, vanpool mom, etc.)  I know it can be done, I just need to sit down and come up with the Q&A paths.

One problem I have is getting the word out to our employee’s.  I think that I will be able to resolve that with support from our administration department, they have pull and maybe we can get information in the company newsletter.  I am surprised at the number of employees that have Facebook but refuse to become “friends” with people they work with (understandable) or do not know how to create and use the groups feature.  Maybe we need to hold a educational FB course.

It is difficult to make the transition from “traditional” marketing to online, tech savvy methods.  When I have a copy of the flyer or pamphlet I just have the feeling that I accomplished something and I have a physical object to show for it.  Uploading things directly online removes that feeling,  I do not have a hard copy, everything is intangible.  It is a strange feeling.

Things are easier to find, the internet is indexed very well (thank you search engines and Google.)  I use StumbleUpon on a regular basis and I find things I enjoy and am inspired by on a regular basis.  I still have an empty feeling because there is no tangible thing, sitting on a shelf making me look at it once a week when I dust.

I have been reading and researching on using FB for marketing.  I have not had the opportunity to practice much of what I have read.  Some of the ideas require monetary investments, the program does not have a spending account, other require more time than I am willing or able to invest.  More research is required to find a solution that has no cost and low time requirement.  Thankfully I am not in a rush.

My Year of 300

I have spent the past few weeks trying to plan out a solid plan to reach my goals for the year.  It has been difficult, work has been busy, I have been avoiding spending extra time on the computer (waaay to much computer time at work,) and life gets in the way.

ImageI think I have a plan now.  I am calling it 300!

The idea is to get 300 hours of work (web dev and coding,) exercise, and art (computer and “fine”) completed by the end of the year.  It may not sound like much, but that is 900 hours total this year, and that is quite a bit.

So far the art has gone smoothly, I have completed 20 hours, half painting and half making icons and logos.  I have not fared so well on the work or exercise front.  I have no real excuses, I am just not motivated right now.  Plus I am kind of avoiding computers unless I HAVE to (I had to do the icons and every hour was a struggle.)

I am now trying to figure out a way to visually track my progress.  I was thinking about a finding a WP progress meter or maybe print out 300 Leonidas heads and color them in for each hour completed (sounds like fun right?!)

Why 300?

Well there is the Spartan Meme aspect to it.  I really did not think about that until after I did some math.  365 days in a year, about 251 workdays (http://www.workingdays.us/workingdays_holidays_2014.htm#)  a good median is 300.  That leaves me with a few rest days and some days where I can do “make-up” hours.

Now I just have to figure out what I want to paint/CG and what I want programing languages I want to study.

Moving into a New Year

MerryChristmasSeattleBannerMerry Christmas and Happy New Year everyone!

I hope that it is Merry and Bright for everyone.  If it is not looking like it will be for you, I hope that something stands out as good.  Focus on that and you will make it.

ChangeRoadSignWhen I graduated from University I was not prepared for the career I paid (lots) to learn about.  That is my fault for choosing the wrong school, wrong course and not questioning things as much as I should have. That left this year as a quest to get over my fear of change and failure.  Fear of not being “good enough” to graduate (some how I did,) not being able to get a job (still at my old one,) and not being able to do what I want to do (Web Designer!)  This year I failed to do a lot of things that would have made it easier to do what I wanted to do.  I got the wrong internship, I did not keep up with my studies, and I did not ask questions or look hard at what was going on.  Only when I got frustrated and angry did I start making changes.

I am not saying that this year was a waste or all bad.  I had tons of great things happen.  I DID graduate from a reputable University.  I DID get an internship.  I DID create some websites (no matter how basic.)  I DID quite my internship when I realized that it was not going where I needed it to.  My spouse and I made the move to home ownership (that was stressful.)  I have a new internship lined up and I have plans on making next year good.  All in all the good outweighs the bad since I learned things that enabled me to move on.

One of the tools I used to get over my fears is Planning. I find that making a rough outline helps keep me on track and keeps the fear of change at bay.  Whenever I HAVE to do anything (that I don’t want to do or am afraid to do) I plan.  I actually plan the fun out of it and cover pretty much every contingency (I have no idea why I did not go into project management.)  Plans allow for the greatest amount of light to shine on something that you are afraid of.  Especially if it is something new.

My rough plan for 2014 is pretty basic right now.  Do some follow up education so I can understand Web Design and Development better.  There are many things that make no sense to me and in order to get a job I feel that I should understand them and be able to work with them. As I learn more I want to rebuild my website (down for financial purposes – darn house) and the others I have built, practice, practice.  I also want to start building demo sites and templates for some of the various content managers out there.  I think if I can learn enough about those I can secure a decent internship (paying?) or start charging for my services (freelance.)  This means reducing the number of hours I spend on graphic design.  While it is fun I need to spend that time coding and expanding my Web Designer skills.

I have other personal plans too.  I plan on spending more time off my butt and walking around.  Exercise is important and I can use the time to plan out other things.  I can also increase my collection of photos so I have things to use when I need to make a graphic for a site.  I plan on encouraging my spouse to blog and finish his degree.  I plan on seeing a doctor on a regular basis (that is really scary in my mind.) I also plan on taking a vacation this year.  I has been a while and I am feeling the need to take a break.  That means saving up some green and paid time off.  I should probably spend some time with my friends too.

OtherSideOfFearFear is natural.  I think almost everyone is afraid of new things.  Things that they cannot fathom or understand.  I find planning helps reduce the fear.  Fear will never go away until you deal with its cause, but you can lessen it to the point where you can deal with it.  All it takes is some planning and research.  I need to research my medical plan and learn about finding a provider and paying the bills.  I need to learn how to use my insurance and so many other things.  I am worried that I will put it off again this year (it was a goal for 2012.)  I know that if I do research and ask questions I can over come this and help other co-workers figure it out. Once I figure it out I know the fear of it will be gone and I can spend that energy fearing something new.  The process repeats.

Have a great holiday season! 

Do what you need to do, even if it is scary.  The fear will go away once you do it.

 

 

I win. You win. It is All Good.

Recently one of my clients (graphic design client) was going to make a really bad decision, based off of some really bad advice.  What is a person to do?

1. Remain polite, controlled and logical.  I was informed by email, so I took some time to reason out the problem and sent a “calm” (I was NOT calm when I was writing it.  They will never know that though.) and logical email detailing why the idea was REALLY bad. Be very detailed, what bad things are associated with the bad idea and will the target audience go there.   I also made sure to include a solution to the problem.  That is problem solving 101.

2.  Plan for a rebuttal.  Yep they replied, with a sales pitch not even why their idea was better!  I do not think they really read my initial response.  No one really reads anymore, it is so sad.  But since I planned ahead for the obvious “you are wrong” reply I was ready.

3. Reply, a bit less polite, but still professional, logical and remind them who the subject matter expert is.  They are paying you for your expertise after all.  I, again, laid out the problem and (almost) word by word explained why their idea was bad.  I laid out why my idea was better.  I even gave them some room to play and “improve” my idea so it would work with their plans “better.”

4. Plan for the rebuttal.  I got lucky.  The head cheese read my email (someone who READS!! whole emails too.)  And they agreed with me.  I did not have to rebut.  I did have one planned though.  I was going to put my foot down as the subject matter expert and pull my support for the event graphics (risky but I am working on this for “free.”)

In the end I won, which means my client won and everything is good.

Image

I do not think you can win enough.  The problem is learning which battles are worth fighting over.  I know most people with think something like a event title is a small thing.  It is not.  It is the foundation of the event, the corner stone.  This is what people will remember the event by.  Search engines will take the words and title and show people this.  Titles are important.

 When you are working with a client and they are going to do something that damages their “name” or brand, it is your responsibility as the subject matter expert to stop them.  If something is going to hurt their name and your name is on it, you get hurt too.  All credibility down the tube because you would not stand up for your craft.

I am a very “go with the flow” type of designer.  If the client wants it, I will do it.  Obviously that comes within a limit.  I am not on your team because I am a pretty face or a good chair filler.  I am on your team to provide you with a service that you cannot do or choose not to do.   When the laid back person tells you something is a bad idea, you might want to listen. Just because I go along with most of the ideas and plans does not mean that I am going to let you damage your image (and mine.)

Certain things work in graphic design and others work well in TV and still others work well in newspapers or on the internet.  Using buzz words is great to snag the TV, radio and internet video watcher, but they are not always going to work in newspapers or on internet articles.  Buzz words do not work in graphic design, when the template is already made and the words cannot be highlighted appropriately.  However if you use a good graphic with intelligent words and the buzz words in your hash-tags and descriptions, you have a balance and that is what will get you the best results. 

I think people forget that the words they see in a .JPG or .PNG image are not searchable.  The only thing that is searchable about the image is what you have called it, the alternative title and any description you have provided.  As the designer it is your job to know this, and any other rules and regulations that might affect your client (copyright laws specifically.)

In summary:

*Stand your ground when it matters, and make sure you win by being prepared.

*Remember that anything bad that happens to your client because of your cowardice shows on your portfolio.

*Take the time to know your client and the clients audience.  If you can show that and idea or action will damage their target audience you will probably win.

*Have a solution ready!

Winning is good.

Image

Constraints

If any have taken (or take) a Project Management course you will be introduced to a new way to think about some of the simplest activities.  Your morning routine turns into a daily project with tasks that have lead times, schedules, order, resources and constraints.  Wait, a constraint in your morning routine? How is that possible?Constraint

Well a constraint is anything that limits or restricts your project (in this case a morning routine.)  The bathroom may only hold one person (size constraint), so task sharing is out of the question.  There may be only a little tooth paste or shampoo left (quantity constraint) and you choose to make it last one more day, until payday (money constraint.)  There are tons of things that can restrict the simplest activities.

Most of these things you can plan for.  You know when you are getting low on tooth paste and when you are getting paid next.  You know that the bathroom holds one, or that the hot water disappears when the other bathroom is in use.  You adjust your schedule and activities to account for these things.  Get up earlier, stop by the store on the way to work, plan for revenge…

What happens when you don’t foresee a constraint?  Or maybe you chose not to plan for something that you did foresee.  Well, you break promises and fall behind, basically messing up your day, and possibly the day of a few others.

This month I had a plan to create a WordPress template and have it up and functional by September 1st.  Well, I failed.  Here is why;

  1. I did not anticipate how hot my office was going to get this summer. It got so hot that the computer would shut down!  I don’t know about you, but I cannot work when it is that hot in an enclosed space.  I would get an hour of work in and everything would get weird.  I was dehydrated and the computer overheating.  This does not make for a good day.   Anyway that took me from 12-20 hours a week to  7 -10 hours (late nights mostly.)  That right there is enough to derail any project.
  2. I did not anticipate how hard it was going to be for me to learn and understand the WordPress system, as a developer.  WP is easy enough as a user, it is VERY different on the developer side.  I counted on my past as a quick study to move this project along.  Well I did not do so well on that respect.  Maybe the heat and short study times were part of the problem.  Either way, I did not succeed.  I spent a lot of time researching the smallest things and doing tests that would fail, because of the smallest things.
  3. I did not account for other projects.  Even though I budgeted a lot of time for this project (well over 30 days.)  I did not take into account the other projects that I ended up doing.  I did a lot of other stuff during this time.  2-3 days were devoted to events, and many hours to graphics for each event.  I was happy to be out of the office most of the time, since it was so hot, but that still took away from the project time.

There were other things that caused problems.  I had personal things (updating my site, creating business cards, blogging, family time etc) that I needed to do.  Events that I had scheduled months in advance (RenFaire, Family visiting, house hunting, and PAX(is so close!!)) took precedents over the project at hand.  And I LET IT!

That is the big thing.  I let other things become more important than my WP project.  Now I am paying for it.  I have to tell the team that I do not have the product I was sure would be ready next week.  Now I have to beg for another month to get the product done (the basic product,) and more time to get the improved version done.

It sucks.  It really sucks, that we (everyone does it a some point) let things distract us from what needs to be done.  Things like this is why people with great ideas get no where.  We let ourselves be distracted by the small things. 

Well it is time to get back in gear.  I have already broken down my project into small manageable tasks, and those into sub-tasks.  I have set up a schedule that includes all of the expected (and some improbable) constraints.  I am going to finish my project.Done!

I invite everyone to join me.  Get a project DONE in September.

 

Cannot Sleep: A Nights Rambling Thoughts

I have had a pretty good night up until an hour ago when I realized I was not going to be able to fall asleep without writing in a journal (or similar) to relax and clear my head.  I thought this might make an interesting blog post, since I have several things floating around demanding my attention.

PAX12_PrivateerPress

Awesome costume at the Privateer Press booth from PAX12. Taken my me:)

1. PAX Seattle.  I am going to be working in the table top area of PAX!  I worked it last year and it was very fun.  I realize it is still a little while away, but I have not heard anything from the dept manager and I would like to know what is going on.  I like to plan and not knowing is driving me to insomnia.

2. It is humid here.  Humid and hot.  One or the other I could deal with, both is just bananas (insert Gwen Stafani clip here.)  I also stopped by the hair salon and got a trim and they put product in my hair.  So it is hot, humid and my hair is sticky.  Not cool.  I should probably hop in the shower. Clean my hair and cool off.  That would make sense though, why would anyone want to make sense at midnight?

3. All the projects I have to do.  I have posted a few times about being unmotivated to work on projects.  Another hindrance is to many projects.  I have a conte on wood project in the works, and two more mixed media on wood planned (small still life ones, TG) a large single panel canvas planned and sketched out, and a large 3 panel canvas planned and sketched out.  I still have to stretch the canvas for the large ones (I missed the sale on canvases at Michael’s this week.)  I also have some Web Design stuff to finish.  I need to finish installing PHP on my server. A lot of my planned web dev projects hing on getting this done (I feel like a lazy bum every time I think about it.)

3. Family in town this weekend!  When am I supposed to get stuff done when I have to entertain my divorced parents?  So far I have scheduled each one at least one day to hang out with them.  I hope that is ok.  I do not want either to feel slighted.  Thankfully neither are staying with me this time around.  All are in hotels, so that eases most of the burden.

4. Interview on Monday.  Yay, I have an interview on Monday and I am super excited.  I am not excited about taking the bus into Seattle to get to it.  That is almost 2 hours of my life spent on the bus/train for something that might not pan out (sleepy Carissa is a little pessimistic.)Mr.Worry

5. I love how a worry about how tired I will be tomorrow makes me more worried and less likely to get to sleep in a timely manner.  It is a viscous cycle.  The “calming” music and the cooling fans are not helping either. In fact the pan flutes that just came on are annoying.  Time to skip that song!

6. Random Stuff:  The cats are sleeping at the foot of the bed.  I kind of wish I could curl up or flop almost anywhere and sleep.  Not in this heat though. Bills, bills, bills (need I say more?  Did not think so.)  Studio Killers “Apollo and Eros” is pretty catchy, the whistling is kind of fun.  At work today the HVAC in the area I work went down.  My office is across from the wood shop and they were varnishing wood today.  The smell was horrific and hung out ALL day.  I got paid to be “high” on paint fumes all day.  This is not as fun as it sounds.  Everyone was cranky because of headaches and most of us had upset stomachaches all day.

So why did I put all this out on the net?  I am not sure. Artists do weird things all the time and sleepy ones are even weirder.  I would usually just type this (and more) in a journal entry, but I figure someone out there in the wide spans of the internet would miss the entry and feel lonely for lack of a person to identify with. Or maybe I just wanted to have an entry that did not have a purpose.  Most of my entries to date have expressed an opinion or problem with some possible solutions.  One cannot have that all the time, we must have variety! Like eating wheat bread is good for you, but once in a while you should have some cake.  Spice it up (sweeten in this analogy.)

Alright.  I have rambled long enough.  I am going to try to sleep again.

SleepingCat

I am so sleepy I did not bother to check and see who I borrowed this from.