Saturday, October 30, 2010

Going By Appearances

Another Pink Dinosaur for Breast Cancer. I don't know what it is about charitable work that brings out the mischief in me. "Oh, it's free -- but it'll cost you."

There are two entities who I wish to address in this blog post. First, society considered as a whole. Congratulations, Society. You are now a proper noun.

Let us be honest. We have an adversarial relationship, and that fundamental fact is unlikely to change. However, you've recently made some concessions that show a generosity and open-heartedness that has taken me by surprise. I must apologize; my judgments of you have unquestionably been harsh to an unwarranted degree.

I would like to do something to show you that I am willing to meet you halfway. I cannot claim that I feel entirely at ease with the course of action on which I'm setting out. It involves the abandonment of principles that have guided me throughout my life. But, Society, given the changes in our relationship, it behooves me to do something that is more than a gesture. Something that will unequivocally state that I am no longer an active opponent of yours, that I am willing to accept my place in your greater being.

So here it is, Society. From now on, I will try and put more of an effort into judging people on the basis of their appearance.

(Yes, Society, I did actually type in 'opinions' instead of 'appearance' just now. Yes, it was a total Freudian slip. But if you keep fucking giggling like that the whole thing's off.)

Now this represents a challenge. First off, I've got a hardcore bias for the underdog. I always assume that underneath a unique, eccentric, or appalling exterior lurks a gem of humanity.

Society, you must grant that this has led me to wonderful experiences with wonderful people. But I must admit to you that my assumptions as to the presumed value of other outsiders has also led me to spend hours, days, years in the company of jackoffs of both the sullen and giggling varieties, human vapors ranging from the thick to the vague, defect collections, self-cutting utensils with bladed handles (my handle is padded, thank you very much), and any number of other sick tools.

I will also admit that some of the attractive people I've known have been very pleasant in their way.

Society, you're the boss. From now on, the amount of slack I cut people will be based entirely on your standards of attractiveness.

This is going to be tricky, though. There are two obvious issues here; I don't get your tastes, and I am almost totally blind.

These are some pretty serious hurdles. But if you are as interested in my participation as you've indicated, then I hope you'll extend a little effort on my behalf.

I think the best, most practical way of handling this is to simply have me only cut slack to people who are celebrities, or whose personal attractiveness -- your standards, not mine, no smart people, no fat people, no weirdos, no slobs, only Benneton-style non-whites, I got you, I got you -- is so overwhelming as to guarantee eventual celebrity.

Here's where I'm going to have to ask for help. And here is where I address the second entity, which is You. You, reading this now. You, a real person who may at some point interact with me.

I will judge you strictly based on your appearance. I promise. But since I seem to have terrible taste in human beings and my vision is isn't a sense so much as a concept, you will have to tell me what your appearance is.

And if I already know you, and you're funny-looking, then stay the hell away from me. But tell me why, so my feelings aren't hurt. If you just duck out of my life I'll assume I did something horrible, so let's keep everything clear and aboveboard.

This is for you, not for me, so don't go acting all weird and defensive. Be clear and concise in your description of yourself. Don't say, "I look like Brad Pitt," because so far as I'm concerned Brad Pitt is a blur only distinguishable from Jennifer Anniston (sic) by pitch. Tell me what you look like and how attractive you are to your desired gender/s.

Don't tell me how attractive I am because I do not want to know. No matter what the answer, it will demolish my sense of self. Just let me figure it out by how mean people are to me. That's how the rest of you do it, right? I'm not asking for anything special that I don't absolutely need.

Oh. This part is important.

No fibbing.

(Follow-up note -- I checked with the missus, and it turns out she's gorgeous. I figured as much, but it's still a relief. Could have been awkward, you know?)

Friday, October 29, 2010


The thing that's frustrating about these is that they look totally crappy on a computer screen until they're blown way, way up. I don't know if this works until it's printed, and I don't have a fucking printer up here.

But I think this is finished. I think this is the first of the new Swillistrations. Whee! And it's only three-thirty in the morning. Time to think about getting back to bed.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Additional View

Here we go. Final composition, and time to start burning the image to print format.

More View!

There we go. All the donkey work is done, and now comes the fun part -- taking this hideous jumble of visual information and reducing it to something beautiful and elegant. Really, that's the essence of art -- removing unnecessary information from experience.

And there are no words for how nice the music is. I've got a Shel Silverstein album in the mix, and at one point he makes a guttural noise out of silence and I actually reacted as though someone were in the room. Now it's a collection of classic Stax soul. It is richly orchestrated to a degree that makes me feel like I'm eating a cube of butter. In a good way.

The First Glimpse of the First View

So I need some sky up top and some greenery to fill the gap between the horizon line and the base of the image. So it's a photograph or two and then the fun part -- distorting and processing the disparate elements into a cohesive whole. I'm still hoping to finish tonight, but we shall see. It's starting to seem unlikely.

But we shall see.

Anyway. I now have a very nice CD player plugged into the mixing board, playing through the studio monitors. The sound is insane. It's like listening while the music is being recorded. I'm hearing stuff I've never heard before... This is very nice.

I'll pop back in when I've got the finished basic composition.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


Thank you, Warren!

So. Yesterday, after my bold talk I wasn't able to take the photos I needed to take to advance on the Swillistrations. I walked downtown, and ran into an old family friend. Honestly, aside from my dad? He's known me the longest. We were very close when I was a small child, and I still think of our times together with fondness.

Well, I mentioned an interest in photography, and he drove me to a camera store, where they stocked a remote for my camera at an affordable price. Doesn't that seem like fate? Like magic?

Of course, I got home and wasn't able to make the remote work. But in my attempts, I found out how to set the camera so the shutter clicks ten seconds after I press it. So I am now officially at work on the next series of prints, currently entitled Fifteen Views of the Downtown Area.

Plus, my CD player is here, and it took me less than ten minutes to get it unpacked, located, and functioning -- and in the process I solved a long-standing mystery. When playing music, we use a laptop running Reason for our drum tracks. We've found that different drum sounds need to have the jack positioned very specifically if they are going to come out of the speakers. And we have been bitching about this for literally years now.

Turns out we were running a stereo signal into a mono track on the mixing board. Haw! Haw! Haw!

(Insider humor is always the best.)

But today? I work on a print, and I've got tunes to play while I'm working. And I get to feel good about it.

This could be worse. This could be a lot worse.

Every Journey Begins With A Stumble

So the lovely SLR camera loaned to me by the very kind Warren Lutz combined with a lovely new macro lens has proven a trial. I finally figured things out to the point where I could take pictures, and sooo-prise! Clicking the shutter makes photos too blurry to use.

But. They do make an inexpensive remote for this camera. (Nikon-D60, plenty good enough for the likes of me.) And they stock it in the camera store where I take my tabletop photography lessons. So my bold 'the future commences today!' has turned into, "Huh. Got a couple of days open. Time for small chores."

So this afternoon, I run about the city making deposits and small purchases. And tomorrow?

Dah-dah-dah-duuuuuuhm. I write my writing resume, in honor of Sr. Lutz.

Because from now on, every day must serve the interests of OafCo.

Brand New Oaf

This looks awful on the screen, but in print it is dee-licious. I'll be talking up the Phantasm plug-in for Illustrator big time in the near future, but let me just say it produces the best halftones since those dudes that worked on Dore's stuff. I am not going to color for the large versions of these any more -- the black and white now has all the color the work needs, and more would be detrimental.

The Oaf: I dunno, I've got this horrible streak of competitive Alpha-male in me.

The Missus: I know. That's what keeps me interested. You're not a wimp.

The Oaf: WHAT?! They told me I was supposed to be a wimp! I thought masculine power was inherently loathsome!

The Missus: Well, I'm awfully hard on you, and it wouldn't be any fun if I destroyed you.

So. It's been a while since I posted. I've been focused on Swill and taking care of personal business.

I've also been undergoing a bit of a sea change. The process of growth I've been coping with recently came to a head, and I'm breaking in a new pair of metaphorical boots. I mentioned in my last post that I've recognized the fact that I am a literary rather than a commercial writer, and how that realization was empowering and liberating.

It was reinforced a few days later when -- I ain't giving details til it's set in stone -- but I may be participating in an NPR-level public reading, and I'd be alongside people who's work I've genuinely admired. The stuff the dude running the thing said about my writing? I'm still glowing.

Well, that kinda reinforced things for me, illuminated a few interesting corners of my life. What is true of my writing is also true of other aspects of my creative life. While I still have an infinite amount of learning and study ahead of me, I am now a mature artist and writer capable of operating both in fine art and commercial arenas.

It is time for me to leave school. It is time for me to fully engage the world. I do what I do well, and it is time to find a place for myself.

Part of this means taking care of myself. And part of that means creating an environment and life that is healthy and appropriate for me, rather than awkwardly fail to live the kind of life that 'normal' people live.

Right now I am, and have been, in a uniquely fortunate position for an artist. I have a small amount of cash, and a supportive spouse. I am making the choice to begin living the life of a professional artist, and if I hit the skids before things work out? I'll worry about that then.

Right now? My life, on my terms. Which are extremely flexible, it must be confessed...

So there are two big steps I'm going to take. First, the monetization of my natural, habitual creative acts. Writing is already firmly on the tracks. All I have to do is keep doing the next thing.

The prints from Swill -- sample above -- will be coming out about once a year. I need to find them a gallery, or possibly find an art agent, and this year I'll submit them to the Spectrum competition, and do a POD calender of the images.

Paleo art. A gallery outlet would be nice, but I think the natural place for my work in this area would be either working with paleontologists or doing children's books. And again, submit to Spectrum and do a POD calender.

Swill itself is starting to itch at me. I need to sit down with ol' Rob (You seen his new blog? I think he swiped the title from me -- I once referred to him as 'Rob Pierce, the man with two verbs for a name.'), but I have recently been spending a lot of time moaning about how there aren't any real gatekeepers for self-published fiction, and I want to do book design, and I want to do readings, and Swill has, over the years, developed an eerie credibility that might be of some use in...

Gotta talk to Rob. But I'm dreaming big.

So what this means, is that I'm getting to work on my big projects in a systematic fashion, and at the same time I will be actively seeking work as a copywriter or commercial artist. I will finish my scientific literature class, because it is providing me with a lot of topsoil -- it makes me feel smart and gives me good ideas and teaches me useful stuff. It is adding energy to my life, rather than draining it. But when that's done, classes will be taken in order to achieve specific projects.

Basically, given the response my work has received thus far, it is obviously time to take all the half-finished projects and send them out into the fucking world. This means I will be spending my time doing things I like to do, and do well. This is one reason I've been delaying getting my shit together for so long -- I shun pleasure instinctively, and the life I'm shaping for myself could be sweet if it works out.

Here is the immediate future.

1. Swillistrations. I've got a class in tabletop photography on Saturday, and I've got a work table for my studio on order. I will do fifteen pieces, and seven of them will go into Swill. When finished, I will submit them in a batch to Spectrum, and produce a POD calender based on the best of the old Bonelands series.

I will also do a tutorial based on one of the prints. I will try and make it as complete and professional as possible. When it's done, I'll send out a request for career information to as many different graphic software companies as I can find, and include the tutorial as a portfolio piece.

Then I will put together a portfolio, and look for galleries and art agents. Once I get a sizeable batch of portfolios circulating, I forget about it for a while.

2. Write a resume for my writing, and change my personal site --, it's primitive but enthusiastic -- to a business site, advertising my services as writer, artist, editor, and designer.

3. Then I write the novel. Straight through, by myself, write it, read it, revise it, then it's line edits and off. No dicking around. I have a fucking plot, I've written it nine times already. It is time to be a pro.

4. Then I put together a round of portfolios to send out to ad agencies and so on.

5. Then I finish the script and get it off to agents, and possibly self-publish it as a book. Because I'm like nine kinds of crazy.

6. Then I find out about doing dinosaur books for children.

At that point, it's vague and fuzzy, which is fine. I'll be changing this as it goes along.

But I need to be focused on effective productivity. Part of that is recognizing that if I get too scattered, too worried, too unhappy, too stressed, etc. I stop functioning. So I need to eliminate sources of stress from my life to a degree that, yes, is not normal. Is not something that would be acceptable in most people.

I have the option of doing that. And I'm taking it. I think that the combination of focusing the bulk of my time on the large, ambitious, self-expressive work, while searching for commercial work in-between bouts, will produce some kind of positive result in the long run, even if it's something I can only keep up for a while.

I will be trying to find the balance between my obsessive need to do one project at a time, and my desire for a more systematic and predictable life, especially the money part. If I'm going to function, I need to respect and work with my obsessions.

I told the missus that I might make some decisions that will be wrong or crazy over the next six months or a year, and that we were going to have to live with that. Because it's time to do something different.

It's time to do it -- not Frank's way, not Sid's way -- my way. Folks, if you haven't tried it? Put yourself in a position to rub your hands together and cackle. It is scary as shit but it's hell of fun.