Take a Look…

…It’s in a book!
This came to me as I was wondering what to draw today.
I love reading. Books open my mind to all sorts of things and were key in shaping who I am today.
When I had television, I loved to watch Reading Rainbow, Wishbone, and a few other liturature based shows. I loved books already, but seeing other interpretations of the stories was eye opening. These shows helped me realize and understand that people are different, have different experiances and will understand things differently.  They made me want to know more about people and what makes them different, and the same, as me.
Yes, books can do all that.
Not only do they teach you things, they make you ask questions about the world and yourself.  More on this in another post… when I am not on a mobile device. Some books aske the questions and you have to figure out the answer. Fiction or Non-Fiction, if you want to KNOW read.

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Take a look, it's in a book. I am going to be singing this all night now.

Book Review: The Night Circus –Erin Morgenstern

I was cleaning out my Kindle this past week and I ran across this amazing gem of a book. I am going to have to buy a physical copy. It is that good.

I do not remember why I picked this book from the Kindle library. All I remember is that I was looking for fantasy, fun and good (always.) I downloaded a lot of new, cheap books that day. I did not even read this one first. I read some pretty bad stuff before I chose to read this one. I did not have high hopes that evening.

uk-finished-night-circusThe story is about two wizards/ mages/ sorcerers (whatever you choose to call them. I am going to call them sorcerers; it has a slightly dark connotation to me.) They have been at odds for eons. Yes, their battle has been going on for a very long time, and the author does a great job at hinting at how long. They are fighting over who’s magic methods are the best.

I never really thought that the archaic “stand and fight” method was very magic user like. Magic duals should be sneaky, thought provoking affairs. I like when Merlin gave Mad Madame Mim a flu, instead of changing into larger and larger animals. These are the tactics our sorcerers use, sneaky and thoughtful, not stand and shoot, reload, repeat.

Our story involves two young people, one male and one female. A sorcerer adopts one each and trains them in their particular flavor of magic. One uses something similar to incantations and the other uses mental visualization and will power. The kids are trained apart and when they reach the right age the venue for the battle is set.

A traveling circus that is only open at night.

Once the main characters find out what is going on, they believe the battle is to see who can have the most spectators in their attractions. They put all their efforts into out doing each other’s shows, while trying to start a personal relationship (they are not supposed to, but are drawn together.) Too late they discover that they real victor will be the last one living. Survival of the fittest is the sorcerer’s idea of proving which type of magic is strongest.

The cast of supporting characters is great. Each is well rounded with strengths and weaknesses that drive the story and cause unexpected changes. In the end these characters are able to help the main characters “cheat” the sorcerers out of their expected outcome. It is done in a fantastic manner, all sneaky and thoughtful like.

This book is truly a work of art. The characters are well developed. Ms. Morgenstern uses her words to create vivid scenes. I swear I was watching a movie as I was reading this. Something that is not usual for me.

This is totally worth reading, several times. I think I will start tonight.

Side note: I do not know is she is related to S. Morgenstern (Princess Bride author) but they have the same last name and I thought it was kind of neat. Princess Bride is also an awesome book.

2015 Goals

I have taken my time to come up with some attainable goals for 2015.  Not resolutions, people break those to easily.  Goals are much better,  they are SMART, Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely.

Goal 1. Complete12 Fine art pieces this year.  It usually does not take me more than a month to create most of my art.  I do have pieces that are really detailed and take longer.  I also can work on more than one piece at time.  I already have 4 finished pieces and plans for 3 more.

Goal 2. Create 12 Graphic Design / Marketing packets.  This should include a flyer template, business card, and website template.  If this is not challenging enough I can add a FaceBook banner or something similar.  I have plans for 5 already.  I just have to sit down and do it. I also need to work on creating some clip art for various projects that are ongoing. I am working on some flowers, traffic jam, cars, and some monthly banners, to name a few.

Goal 3 Get healthier!  What kind of year would it be without some kind of health goal?  I would like to get healthier this year, lose a few inches and pounds.  I have a figure in mind, but with the injury I received in December (darn irresponsible dog owners)  I have not been able to work out as much as I would like. This also impacts goal 2, since it is painful to sit for more than a few minutes at a time.

Goal 4 Read 10 Books.  This is not a high goal.  I have been known to read three or four books in a 24 hour period.  I really want to finish some books that are non-fiction, Tim Wu’s Master Switch, some coding books and a few more on how social media is changing our minds and perceptions.  I do have to finish a few fiction books to.

Goal 5 (Bonus Goal) Find some meaningful volunteer work.  I have been looking and looking for some kind volunteer work that is meaningful to me. I like to help people but I have found that many people who “need” an artist are looking to take advantage of the artists skills and will work them into depression. It would be cool to help with a mural or some kind of artsy fundraiser. Perhaps an advert on Craigslist or something will help. I have not done that yet.

I am working on some bits for my tutorial series. Updates to those should be forth coming.

Have a good 2015!

Book Review: Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch

I have been reading and painting and working and painting and reading.  I have (had now) three books going and two paintings, one website and a full time job.  Life has been nuts.

To break back into blogging I am going to take the easy route and review the book I just finished reading.  It was amazing!

The Lies of Locke Lamora is an awesome book (fiction.)  It is gritty and one of the most action packed books I have read since Luck in the Shadows, by Lynn Flewelling.  I would like to say I was not able to put it down, but I did, several times, only to eager to pick it back up at the next free moment I had.

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Cover art from The Lies of Lock Lamora

Usually I would go over a summary of the book.  Not with this one.  You can read a summary of the book almost any place on the net.  I want to go over the atmosphere of the book.  That is what really makes this story special.

The city of Camorr, where the story takes place, is a vivid, gritty, dirty, corrupt city.  I spent some time trying to picture it and have come up with a pretty good idea.  Imagine, if you will, a massive island with six smaller islands evenly spaced around.  Each of these islands is topped with a glass looking tower of different colors.  Imagine if you will a huge island surrounded by six smaller islands, reasonably evenly spaced.  The islands are topped by tall dazzling spire towers, each inspired by one of the four basic elements, air, earth, fire and water.  The center tower, more of a palace, is white and silver (life,) and one of the small islands is black (death.)  Each of the towers is connected to the center tower by a wired basket tram system, very high above the ground.

Now this sounds all glorious and pretty, stunning even.  But you forget about all the people that live in the slums, and this is where the story takes place.  Camorr is corrupt.  It is run the same way gangs are run.  Each level of society has its leaders and slaves.  The leaders of the slums are of the worst sort, deformed and malicious (though not any more so that the nobility.)

The slums are dark and bleak, yet thriving with life.  Thieves are abound and ply their trades all over the city.  The city makes the people and this city has had a definite impact on the hero, Locke Lamora and his clan of misfits (or maybe the fit to well…)

I will be reading this book again and the others in the series.

Five Stars!

Book Review! The Fault of Our Stars ~John Green

I just finished reading The Fault of Our Stars by John Green, off the recommendation of kraves88 (in 5.5 hours since you will ask.)  A very thought provoking book to say the least.  I am up at one am because it has spawned many thoughts and brought up some memories as well. I did not post this at one am because my computer restarted.  I now have time to edit this post. Woo..

fault of our stars_coverThis book may have had more of an impact on me if I had not already discovered the heart wrenching books created for the Make a Wish Foundation in my early teens.  Then the Humane Society put out a series of truly depressing books about rescue pets.  I also made the mistake of purchasing some books via a mail-in book club thing that our school was doing.  This got me the book Ghost Girl by Torey Hayden.  The story is about a young girl that was being molested by her family.  Truly shocking for a girl who just entered junior high school and thought she was getting a horror story (I was really into Steven King and Dean Koontz at the time.)

Back to John Green.  Mr. Green has written several books and has a thriving YouTube Channel.  I did not even realize that he wrote this until my spouse pointed it out.  Mr. Green is very charismatic on YouTube and he writes well.  I was able to visualize much of the story and characters.

Without giving out to many spoilers, the book is about a teenage girl named Hazel that has terminal cancer.  She meets a boy and stuff happens.  Earlier today I likened the story to Romeo and Juliette only with cancer instead of poison.  I stick by my assessment.  Mr. Green does well with his words, I had a hard time putting the book down (hence the fast read.)  I only cried in two spots. Dinner in Amsterdam was just so beautiful, and the pre-funeral was brilliant.

In the end I was left with a churning mind and an after taste of sad.  One thing really I liked about the storyis that it was not as selfish as the Make A Wish books.  Humans are selfish beings, but Mr. Green manages to make Hazel, Gus and Isaac seem much less selfish than any of the protagonists in the Make A Wish books.  Those teens seemed to use their wishes on more selfish things (I would too though.)  I have a feeling that the writers may just not have used the right words or my limited understanding made it seem that way.  Alas, that is what I think.

Again, I would not recommend this book if you read for enjoyment.  The book is sad.TheDispossesed Cover

Kraves88 I have read the book.  Reviewed the book and I feel that I got a short straw on it.  I hope that you enjoy Ursula Le Guin‘s The Dispossesed.  I would recommend anything by Ms. LeGuin any day to anyone.  She has something for just about everyone.

Much to Post about Nothing

Ah the joys of working in an office environment during the Holiday’s.  Nothing much happens.  I have caught up on all of my paperwork, checked on my Cafe in CafeLand, poked around Craigslist, read most of the newer blog posts (even liked a few,) and now I am getting close to being bored.  No better time to come up with a post to fill the time.

First bit of Nothing

If Melancholy really was a town I was wondering how you would find it.  Most of the time I just “fall” into it, but I have noticed that one can choose to go there or take a road or path to get there.  These observations lead me to believe that Melancholy Town is in a valley with steep walls that is close to the “Road of Life.”  This way when you are walking on the road you can misstep and fall into Melancholy Town.  You can also see an exit from the main road and choose to walk down the hill into Melancholy Town.

Then I started thinking about the geographical location of the rest of the emotions.  Depression would be a dark gray, grassy plain a short walk from Melancholy Town, you can take a visit to Blah ditch as you head over (just in case you do not want to be Depressed.)  When it comes to Anger I start to have problems with my map.  Anger could be some mountains on the far side of the Depression Plains, or it could be a boggy swamp.  Most people think that Anger is in opposition of sad, but both emotions feed into each other and Depression can be a symptom of Anger and vice versa.  I think mountains because they can naturally be shades of red, though a swamp is dark and will “suck” people in just like anger can.  Maybe a mountainous region surround by a bog?  I am going to have to sketch this out one day.

I did not really thing of the positive emotions.  Joy and Bliss would have to be on the other side of “Road of Life.”  I envision lovely brooks and meadows as far as the eye can see.  Some rivers and lakes for the “deeper” emotions.

 

Second bit of Nothing

Working with spread sheets on a daily basis can be really draining.  I feel like my brain is going to ooze out my ear at any moment.  When I finally got everything updated and calculated I was bushed (part of the reason I am close to bored.)  As much as I love Excel, I hate it at the same time.  I would love to just have each cell input as I think about the contents of it.  If math needs to be done, just mystically happen.  Automatically know that I want the cell formatted as text and not general (who wants a 8 digit number to turn into a date?)  I have had to do a lot of reconciling of various records and files with other programs and databases.  Some were much easier than others.  My brain still feels like mush, just thinking about it makes it mushier.

My Third bit of Nothing is/was kind of negative.  I was thinking about the people that protest in front of the Planned Parenthood.  I wonder if they were going to keep to their Thursday ritual and spread hate during the holidays.  I hope not.  That is already a bad thing to be doing.  Protesting during the holidays instead of spending time with your family is just stupid, borderline moronic.

Well, I think that is pretty much all I have right now.

I tried to add some photo’s but my office computer is blocking the popup.

Maybe some artist out their can come up with a sketch for what geographical emotions would look like.  It sounds like an interesting project.  I might work on it too.

Happy Holidays

 

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.

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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.

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