Show and Tell Friday: Lists

I like lists. I like crossing off things and deleting items until there are a few or none left. Then you get yourself a reward for finishing. Maybe that’s why I like World of Warcraft so much. 🙂 Breaking down goals into simple itemized lists really makes them much more manageable for me. This blog post is about a few list things that are fun or helpful.

• Day Zero
This is a cool thing one of the hosts on Freelance Radio linked a while back. You make a list of 101 things to do over the next 1001 days. They can be silly things, small things, major life goal things, or stupid things – just plan to do them in the next 3 and a third years. My list so far is here – it’s not done yet, but I’m working on it. I never realized thinking 101 things would be hard to do!

• Gmail Calendar
If you have Gmail, you have access to the Gmail calendar function – here you can set events, set them to repeat daily, weekly, etc, and even set them to email a reminder notice to your email any length of time before the event. You can add multiple reminders as well for benchmark deadlines. So much awesome that I didn’t know about.

• Wise Guides
Of all the things on this list of… lists, this is the only one that costs money. This is an Etsy shop with PDF tutorials and articles on Etsy-related marketing and business. I have two favorites: The Daily Social Networking Kit, which itemizes things for you to do to maximize your social networking while containing the time it actually uses. And The Insider’s Guide to DIY Publicity Kit – which explains a lot of things about marketing and publicity that rarely crosses my mind. I highly recommend these if they are in stock.

From here on, the post is relevant only to Mac users.

• Using Mac’s Blog: Free To-Do List Managers
While I was looking for list apps, I found Using Mac’s list of some of the more interesting applications for Mac. I’m currently trying these all out (except iGTD – which has been discontinued). DeskBox requires purchase after the 15 day demo, CheckOff requires purchase after a 10 item demo. I like CheckOff for the folders and the way it checks off items. For free things, I like Do It, which has a cool prioritization function, and Anxiety with it’s similar functionality (but no folders) and the transparent floating windows.

• DoBeDo (Mac Widget)
Another artist, Char Reed, posted this to her twitter – She was looking for a To-Do list function that wouldn’t obstruct her work space. DoBeDo displays your To Do list from iCal as a widget in your Dashboard.

Show and Tell Friday: Things that Help Me

Time for another written blog post. These are things I use when I draw that don’t actually do any drawing.

– Color pallete generator
Sometimes when I draw digitally, I have a specific palette I want to use from a picture that’s already existing. Rather than eyedrop a bunch of points into my palette library, I go to this cool little thing. Upload your inspiration pic and it’ll spit out a generalization of the colors. You can save the color pallete for use in Photoshop by clicking “Save as Photoshop swatches…” and moving the file to this folder:
Photoshop>Presets>Color Swatches.

– Paper trimmer
I thought of this post because I was at Michael’s getting replacement blades for my paper trimmer. I use it so often, and I really should have gotten replacements sooner. I cut badges, art cards business cards, flyers and all kinds of crap ALL THE TIME, so I’m constantly pulling my trimmer out.

– Masking fluid
I barely use any watercolor, but I do treat markers like watercolors in some ways. Markers will bleed under masking fluid a little if you’re heavy handed, but otherwise, it does protect paper from unwanted marker marks. If you have a big area to fill in and a small area you want to protect, masking fluid is probably the best way to keep your markers where you want them.

– Crappy brushes
I never threw away my old brushes from when I used to paint. Crappy old and frayed brushes can still serve a purpose. You don’t have to worry about ruining them if you forget to clean them after laying down masking fluid. I also use them to spread various glazes around that otherwise I’d be afraid to brush onto something. Old bristly brushes can speckle masking fluid onto a piece in a cool texture.

– Circle and elipse templates
This is one of Those Things I have that I wonder why I don’t use more often… I’m awful at drawing geometric shapes, my hands are very unsteady.

– Paper smudge stumps
I was reading another artist’s comments about blending markers, and she said she used her fingers to blend the ink. That kind of blew my mind. I thought it might be doable with smudge stumps, which worked quite well. Put down your marker, and if it’s still a little wet, you can scratch it around into the colors or paper around it.

Show and Tell Friday: Art Podcasts

Anywho, have some art history, contemporary art and culture. I’m sure everyone knows all the “cool” stuff to listen to already like Ninja Mountain – so here’s the stuff that makes you feel like you’re in college again, without paying for it. Whee!

National Gallery of Art London Podcast
I LOVE this podcast – Miranda Hinkley visits the art and architecture of the National Gallery London.
Slide show of photos of the art and people plays along with the audio.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art Special Exhibition Podcast Podcasts
K, longest name ever. Lectures and discussions on pieces and exhibits.
No video or slides, so you’d have to look up the work on topic if you’re not familiar with it.

Whitney Focus Video Podcast
As the title says, it’s all video! This podcast views exhibitions of contemporary artists at the Whitney.
Very nicely produced, and usually has commentary from the aritists themselves.

MOCA Los Angeles
The Musem of Contemporary Art will periodically post lectures, audio tours, and video samples of their exhibitions. More videos can also be found on their Vimeo gallery. They seem to update once or twice every month or two.

So there’s lecture material. Your papers on Rauschenberg and Fuseli are due next month. 😛

Show and Tell Friday: American Virgin

I suppose I should say that Show and Tell is going to be pretty random. It’s basically “Something Erika finds interesting” hour.

So here’s a little thing that I like.

American Virgin
American Virgin is a comic book about Adam, a born-again Christian that preaches abstinence, and his adventures with… not… abstinent people.

It’s challenging on both sides, amazingly written, unpredictable, and has gorgeous art. I just… love everything about it except it’s abrupt end due to cancellation. (Author’s comments on AV’s cancelation)

Not many folks I know like it, or know what it is. I think they give up on it prematurely.

Especially when their response is “I don’t know, the tongue cover kind of grosses me out”, though if a tongue grosses you out, you probably won’t enjoy some of the brutal honesty of the sexual situations. 😛

Show and Tell Friday: Con Badges

This article was originally run in EMG-Zine last year.

Con Badges
(Convention Badges)

Introduction

If you’ve never heard of a con badge, you’re missing out on some fun art exchange! This is a brief rundown of what a con badge is and why they are interesting. This is based mostly on my personal experience with them at fantasy art conventions, so any trends are probably just my own bias.

What is a Con Badge?

A con badge is portable piece of art that depicts your portrait or the portrait of a character that you identify with, and displays your preferred name. You wear this art like a badge to identify yourself, usually at art conventions or similar gatherings. It can have your name on it, but often it has your online handle or username that you use in forums or role playing. These badges are especially popular at conventions where role play or other kinds fictitious characters are popular, where folks might prefer to be referred to by their username, pen name or a specific character.

Con Badge Variety

There are two ways to get a con badge: Commission or trade one from an artist, or make it yourself!  Let’s look at what we can make for ourselves, or what we can possibly get from artists that offer this sort of thing. All the badge image examples below are badges I’ve made.

The most popular form of con badge seems to be 3×4 inch cards in plastic sleeves, attached to you by either a clip or an elastic string necklace. These are popular because the badges that allow you entry to events issued by conventions usually come in that size, usually with generic art. The first chance I get I pop that generic art out and slide my own drawing in, or get someone else to draw something for me! The format is common even when you’re commissioning art with it’s own holder since the plastic sleeves for that size are easy to buy and not too expensive. It’s also a good size that isn’t so big it’s cumbersome, nor so small important details are lost.

This is my convention-issued generic badge from Further Confusion 2005. I use this for example because that year, my art was chosen for one of the choices for the free generic inserts. It’s nice and shows the theme of the convention, but it doesn’t tell us much about who or what “Tundra” is, does it? And there are probably a million other people with that same picture now. Boring!

Now we got some individualism going on! Now we know Tundra is a cat creature of some sort, with some anime influence in there. This badge also gives me something to show other artists if I want to commission or trade for more badges. This badge isn’t well executed though – I didn’t take into consideration the sticker on the plastic sleeve when I drew it! I later put it in its own badge holder.

There are a lot of alternatives to this style though! For example, some artists like to cut the character out from the paper and laminate it, giving the badge a unique and more interesting shape.

Here are two unusually shaped badges that haven’t been laminated yet. The first one is cut to shape from the white paper, pasted to black paper and cut to shape there as well. The second one is on an unusually long piece of extra paper I had around. I will probably wear it at the next convention I attend, but for now, it doubles as a bookmark!

Something else I’ve seen get popular recently is the production of what folks seem to like calling “ghetto badges,” but I’d prefer to call them “sketch badges.” These are usually very quick to draw and cheap to make. They are fast sketches on cheap card stock or scrap paper, sometimes even lined note cards or the backs of business cards. Usually these won’t have their own badge holders or clips of their own if someone draws them for you, so you might stick it in back of your “main” badge, or get a badge holder yourself.

A sampling of sketch badges I’ve done.

Badges can be crafty too. I bought a badge that was made out of a bottle cap once. Another badge I have is a very small laminated piece of paper that I put chainmaille on. I’ve seen artists make tiny sculptures out of clay and place them on key chains for badges, or to decorate badges one might already have. There are probably lots of crafty possibilities that haven’t been thought up yet – so go think them up!

Collecting Con Badges

Con badges are also a form of art collecting. Folks attending conventions will usually try to get badges done by their favorite artists first. Artists sometimes trade each other badges.

Badges are usually fairly inexpensive, while at the same time highly personalized, making them very desirable to fans of artists. While an artist’s original full-sized artwork maybe thousands of dollars. While this kind of art is forever out of price range for the common con-goer, badges have a much lower price range, I would estimate between $10 and $50, a much more affordable and personal piece for an avid fan to get a hold of. There are some badges that are significantly less or more, depending on materials used and time spent, but by and large – badges are a very nice compromise for folks that would like personalized art without having to save up for a full-sized illustration.

There’s enormous variety in what artists can do in the small space of a badge. Since badges are usually easy to acquire price-wise, folks will often collect more than one to see their characters in different styles. Artists will often draw badges for each other in trade as well to get to know different styles and character types. It’s also a great way to make some friends! Bored or shy at a convention? Go check out the creator’s lounge (or anything else where the convention designates a place to go and draw with other artists), and offer to draw a badge for someone in trade for a badge from them. Or sit down and draw a badge for yourself, maybe someone will look at what you’re doing and ask about it.

The Prettiest Business Cards

If you’re on the selling end of con badges, and you get good at doing them, it is not uncommon for folks you draw badges for to drag their friends over for a possible badge. This has happened to me a couple of times, and I’m amazed each time it happens. Sometimes someone likes what you do so much that they HAVE to show their room mate or something. It’s really sweet!

In this way, badges can be like business cards, giving folks a sense of what kind of art you do and putting your art and name in a place it might not normally go (like anywhere at the con you don’t happen to be!). Since con badges are such personalized visual things, folks will appreciate styles that they like that much more. If you draw a totally awesome badge of someone’s dragon character and other folks really like that style, chances are they’ll ask who drew it. Con badges also give folks a sense of what you can do in your non-badge art. Someone that sees one of your badges might come by to browse prints or ask about commissions. It might inspire someone to look up what else you do after the convention too.

Any way you look at it, con badges have the potential to bring folks you never met by your table or website. For the love of beans, please put your name or email or something on the back of the badge, or insert an actual business card in there with it! It’s not pretentious to sign such a small piece of art, and to want folks to remember who drew it. I have some badges from some lovely artists that didn’t sign them, and now I have NO idea who drew them anymore. It is such a bummer if someone likes the badge I’m wearing and I can’t even tell them who drew it for me, nor can I say if the rest of the artist’s art is just as awesome. Folks might not commission you again, but at least we’ll know who you are be able to bookmark your site, so sign that art!

Closing

Folks that get badges will generally stick to one character, but some folks have more characters and collect art for each of them. Wearing them lets folks know what character or name you want to be identified with. I mainly collect badges from my friends and favorite artists, and usually have at least one new badge for each convention I visit. They make extremely fun personalized mementos and there’s enormous variety in what artists can do in such a small piece. I’m sure there’s a badge out there for everyone. Now, get trading!

Links:

Further Confusion
Active Con Badges Communities on Livejournal:
http://community.livejournal.com/con_badges/
http://community.livejournal.com/badgeaholics/
http://community.livejournal.com/themedconbadges/
http://community.livejournal.com/conbadges/

Show and Tell Friday: Things for your Mac

One of my resolutions is to write more in a bloggy sort of way. So I’m going to do a show and tell thing, like, every other Friday. That’s the plan anyway.

So here are some nice things I have. These are things for your Mac. You know, if you have one.

Alarm Clock 2
I don’t have a normal clock. I have an alarm on my phone that’s limited to three settings. I went hiking around for a program that would be an alarm clock, and this is it. Yay.

It’s free. You can set multiple alarms, set them to recur on certain days, adjust the volume independent from the rest of the computer, and set it to play something from your iTunes instead of the beep. If somethingIt’s just… nice.

StartUp-Sound Preference Panel
You know that lovely serene “DUUUUUUH” noise macs make when they start up? I fuckin’ hate it. And if you’re like me, you don’t know what chips you have to wiggle to get that sound to be quiet or silent, because it seems to be independent of what volume you set your comp to and when. And your boyfriend might want you to die because he doesn’t want to be woken up by “DUUUUUUH” every damn morning.

So, if you’re like me, what you do is go get a preference panel for JUST the start up sound. I use the Arcana panel, but I’m sure there are others that are basically the same thing. This panel isolates the volume control of the start up sound, so you can mute that shit or pump it up and forget about it, without having to wiggle your volume up and down when you log in.

Yemu Zip
With the end of 2009, it was time to archive a lot of stuff and stick it into the Old Things library. A lot of the old zipping apps I used on previous machines are no longer updated, or usable, so I had to do a little hiking for a current one that I liked.

I encountered a lot of compatibility erros with other zippers, but a PC-compatible setting is Yemu’s selling point. I send a lot of files out to printers/clients/bosses, so I know with Yemu they won’t see a bunch of code or something if the receiving party has a PC.