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.

kelp

Finally Done… for the day.

There was no post last night.  I started a drawing and ended up going to a random art show up in Seattle.

The art show was pretty neat.  It gave me ideas for things that I might try later.

Here are my submissions for yesterday and today.

kelp

Crazy ribbon like kelp. I have fond memories of kelp. The green tint was added in Picasa. Because it is fun.

Kelp!

I used to play with this stuff when it washed up on shore, when I was a kid.  A really long “bull kelp” could be used like a whip and even make the noise.  It is also fun to draw the ribbon like leaves.

Reading_girl

Let’s Read!
Another face to practice on. I think I got the features right. Now it is shading and line improvement.

Lets Read!

Reading is awesome.  I am going to do a larger version of this over the weekend.  Practice my faces and try to get a better mediation between my highlights and shadows.  It is so much easier to do the transitions with paint.
Practice, Practice!

Solve that Problem

Like many people out there, I have been looking at motivational, self help, and career advice sites and blogs.  There is always the hope that one of the places will help me make up my mind about something (anything.)

Recently I came across a post on one of the many self help business blogs that I check out.  The post was about 30 signs that you are going to fail, or are going wrong.  Once I started reading the post, I was a bit angry with the author.

The post listed out  30 signs that you are sabotaging your endeavors.  The problem that I had with the post was that there were not solutions.  Yes, the person sells consulting services.  Yes, they have a business to run and are going to use the solutions as income.  But really, couldn’t you provide one or two easy solutions for a problem or two?  * The posts were broken down into 5 or 6 sections.  Could you not provide a solution for one problem listed in each section.  Give us a sample of what you are selling.

One of the points was about being unsure or wishy-washy on your goals or plans.  This is a pretty good one to do a sample of your solution.  There are tons of goal setting posts and articles out there.  Give us your idea or method on setting goals.  This will help the person realize that they may really need your help.  Maybe they will realize that they can do this part on their own.

Another point was about being embarrassed by your work and being afraid to “put it out there.”  Confidence is not something that you can gain over night.  Many artists seem to struggle with feeling “good enough,” no matter how talented they are.  This is not something that they are really going to be able to overcome after reading a blog post or article.  This is not something that they will be able to overcome without a lot of work, certainly more than one or two workshops.  This person may want to find some people they trust and go with what they suggest.peoplepuzzle

This blog/article did have some good points.  Ones that could be developed as separate article or workshops.

A basic understanding of marketing principles is important for freelancers.  In this day and age it is impossible to get anything done without knowing the basics of marketing and marketing with social media.  Marketing has a larger impact on the overall success of a freelancer than many people realize.  It helps start sales and close them.  It well help you understand your customers, new and current.  Marketing is important.

Another point that I liked was about “your books.”  Keeping your accounting, customer lists, budgets, schedules and anything else organized will help you get your business off the ground.  I am most certainly not qualified to give any solid advice on this one.  My schedule is a mess and I have no customer list (well I have 2 people, does that make a list?) to maintain.  This point is defiantly worth investing some time into if you are going to freelance.

I am not trying to pick apart one particular post.  These types of posts/articles are all over the internet.  Focusing on the negatives and trying to sell people solutions.  For all the talk about marketing and knowing your audience, many of these authors do not seem to know what their audience is looking for.

We want solutions!  Most of the time we know what the problem is.  We may even have an idea on how to fix it.  We just do not know what steps to take or are looking for confirmation (darn low confidence.)  Telling us that all these things are keeping us down, is not helpful.  Give us a reason to pay for your help, give us a taste of your solutions.

Thank you for reading my rant.

(* Oops. I accidental posted this before I was done.  I was so tired I forgot to hit Draft!  * indicates the start of the new addition to my post.)

Book Review: Thirteen Reaons Why by Jay Asher

Another slow week.  I have not worked on my painting nor have I had a clear headed moment to work on any web design/development.  Life is busy and yet routine all at once. The best thing to do is read a book.

Another reason for another book review is that I LOVE reading.  I read like some people eat, breath and sleep; it is a part of my natural functions.  I read to know what the author knows, to get inside someone else’s head and understand things from a new point of view, to experience things that I will not get to experience.  I do not read just to escape, or gain knowledge, or any of the other classic reasons to read.  I want to see and understand more about everything.  Which is why there will be a wide range of books that I might review.  I take suggestions!

ImageI found out about Thirteen Reasons Why off a list of suggested books to “change the way you think.”  I had read several of the books listed and they were okay, so I read the summaries and picked a few that I might want to read.  I found Thirteen Reasons Why quickly on my e-reader and here we are.

This is a story with a serious mood.  It is busy, past paced and chock full of emotion.  It has a unique view of how suicide effects people.  Not just the victim, but the lives of the friends, family, and people the victim may not even realize are impacted.

Jay Asher does an amazing job of setting up the story and has a unique way to present the information to us, the readers.  The suicide has already occurred and we relive the deceased’s life through a classmate via some recorded cassette tapes (and a map.)  We read as the classmate listens to why someone felt that their life was not worth the effort anymore.  We are taken through a chain of events that, while small in the eyes of others, lead to a tragic death, and a bit of blackmail

While I may not have benefited from this book growing up, I know that many would have.  I want to say this is a book for teens and their parents / teachers.  It is not.  It is all to easy to substitute a school environment for a work environment, and a teen for a 30 something with a new job, new city, new life.  We could all be the victim or someone trying to be a friend who gets left behind.

I am not going to give away any more than that, not that the story would suffer if you knew more.  I just want you to read the book and have a reasonably untainted experience.

I have so much more to say about this book.  I would rather you read it and let me know what you think.  Maybe you will agree this should be something that all citizens of planet Earth should read.  Maybe it will help you, or someone close, through a difficult situation.  That is what kind of book this is.

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

 

Finished the Book, Part 2

Happy Friday!  I am so glad that I will have a few moments to think about one thing at a time for a few days.  Every weekday I cannot help but to attempt to process more large tasks than I would like.  Multitasking really just slows down the whole to do list and nothing gets done quite right.

Anyway.  First thing on my single task to-do-list was finish reviewing the book The real business of web design by John Waters.  I left off with the types of designers needed to make a site, Interaction Designers (the front end people,) Functional Designers (the coders or back end people,) and the Business Designers (people with the money.)  Each aspect of a site can be covered by  a team that contains someone from each category or discipline.  Of course the team can be as small as one member, or as large as needed.

Each website should be as different as the company that owns it, the team that created it and the people that interact with it.  This is where a bit of marketing can come in handy. 

Marketing has to had to change with the times.  We do not get our primary dose of product placement from magazines, TV, or news papers anymore.  We get it from banners, social media and super short  ads before our free videos.  We usually ignore the ads that do not interest us, making the ad agencies work harder to catch our attention and target the advertisements.

Funny enough the ads do not really change.  We know that a Big Mac does not look like the pictures in the ad.  We know that we will not attract countless women (or men) by using a specific type of deodorant.  Things really do need to change, and they are, very slowly.

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I really enjoy these “posters.” They are usually clever and show exactly how each of the different view points see something. Marketing is supposed to give us a new way to see things, but usually we just end up shouting at each other.

 

Ads are becoming much more interactive. shoot the duck, hit the boxer, they are animated, and getting more personal and sophisticated all the time.  You can get your ads personalized to you, your gender, location and all sorts of other things. They still rely on the same principles though.  People look at certain things, colors mean certain things, the rule of thirds, and you have to tell the customer what they want and need.

Thankfully companies are starting to learn that we customers know what we want.  They are giving us feedback forms and asking OPEN ENDED questions.  They are even listening to the customers and changing their sites to be more useful.  Again the changes are very slow.  We do not need brochures and flyers telling us about the product, we want to touch, taste, smell and experience the product (even virtually is better than a glossy image on a sheet of paper.)

Small companies are able to use free sites like WordPress to create a nice site with all kinds of interactive features.  Large companies are still paying for static online brochures.  But they are learning that customers want to interact and slowly budgeting for better, deeper sites.  One the people that handle the money realize that web development can improve their revenue they start to plan and budget.

In chapter 20 Mr. Waters goes over some really good points that make a good site. Things that we would think are self-evident.  Make your site interactive. Companies have seen crazy high returns by allowing customers to shop with friends, chat with a sales rep, and even things we take for granted like remembering what colors you like in your paintings, that you like fiction books, or that rap is your preferred music type.

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I am not sure what movie this is from, but we sure do love a good action movie. A website can contain some edge of the seat action points that will have the customers coming back to visit the site.

 

Provide a customer with multiple action points. Logical drop-down menus, hover tips, buy now or view now short cuts, and even contact pages are considered action points.  Lastly Mr. Waters recommends compiling data. This will help you understand your customers better and aid in the success of your business.

While all of this is important I think that the final chapter is where the real changes are going to happen.  Mr. Waters speaks out against the use of “proprietary language,” The use of acronyms and slang.  This leaves people out of the conversation and will hinder their understanding and will slow the growth of any industry that is growing.  If we change the way we speak about things, we will change the way we think about things and be able to improve the way we treat our customers, clients and even each other.  How deep is that!?  He says this in a lot more words and even pulls in some excellent examples. 

What summary did I reach?  This book is awesome.  There are so many key points that we (designers and developers) forget to look for, over look and just don’t think about once we reach a certain level of adeptness.  I had forgotten so many already and I am just starting!

I really hope that other designers, of all types, will check out this book.  My local library had a few copies, I am sure your library will.  If all else fails, Amazon had some copies.

It Reminds Me…

Like many of us out there that have been working on a project for a while, I am constantly in danger of forgetting why I have chosen to do what I do.  This can happen to anyone who has been working on a project for a long time or spent a long time researching or learning about the project. As time move on we just forget why we were doing something and as time progresses we just keep going with the flow, instead of trying to find out why we are doing what we are doing.  Traditions, procedure and protocol, and laziness come out of forgetting.

During a trip to the library I picked up a book that I thought would be a decent read.  Something to help me help explain web development and user experience terminology to a client.  This book has turned out to be amazing.  It has reminded my why I chose to get into web design/development and has even expanded my thinking and gotten me out of the thought rut I was heading into.  I am marking this as a must read for web developers, designers, business owners who are going to be web exclusive and anyone in Public Affairs, Relations or general Marketing.  TheRBofWD_JohnWaters

The book is titled “The real business of web design” by John Waters.  It is not the most current web book out there, but it has all of the timeless basics that anyone who is going to be operating a web business or a web developer should know.  In just three days I devoured half the book and added a good dozen flags for things to remember.  Things like; ensuring your words are short, sweet and to the point, re-establishing the phases of development and project management, and all kinds of other stuff.

Every chapter I read has helped remind me of why I chose to get involved in web design.  Every word has either reinforced what I knew and has given pointers for finding out things that I did not know.  Every page brightens the vision I have for my future and allows me to look beyond the hard times ahead.

Books and Libraries are just plain amazing.