Friday, January 04, 2008

We're Moving

I've taken my blog over to my site's original domain at It's shorter, sweeter and right to the point. And if you're fancy, don't forget to update your RSS feeder!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

I've got some really great projects coming up in the very near future. I'll be happy to post when they are complete and/or unwrapped in the hands of their new owners.

Recently completed: since we were very bare bones about our wedding in June, we didn't spend any money on photographers. Instead, the photographers and contributing family graciously accepted beer in exchange for the pictures. As a result, I've spent the last 5 months gratefully sorting through the over 2,000 pictures. I finally whittled the number of photos down to under 200.

Mac's photo software, iPhoto, is easy and convenient to use. It helps you organize all your photos and also allows you a drag-and-drop option for creating picture books. I'm sure there are other services online that will allow to do the same, but Apple's proved so easy I thought I'd give it a try. We got one book for us and one for each of the moms.

The only thing that concerns me is the they wouldn't take the photos as CMYK, which is the color mode I'm accustomed to using for photos for print. It rejected the images until I converted all to RGB, so I'm wondering how they will actually print... The examples I've seen at CompUSA looked crisp and bright and beautiful -- hopefully there wasn't any sort of mass production voodoo happening there and our books will turn out just as nice. If they look good, I bet I will be doing more of these picture books.

I'm also planning another custom book, this time as a compilation of my MySpace blogs over the years. I started posting on 2004, and even though MySpace has outworn its usefulness to me, I would hate to lose the memories from those frequent posts -- I did over 400. allows you to customize a book and print as many as you want, including the magic number: one. I'm formatting all those entries into a printed journal that I can stick on my bookshelf and laugh at in ten years. Or in five years. Or tomorrow.

There are a two ironies here. One, that I'm printing something that was originally in an online format. And two, that I am self-publishing two personal books... even while I am seeking professional representation for my would-be second profession. Hilarious.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Controversy and Christmas

My mother works at a women's prison facility on the west coast, and asked me to make a couple posters of a painting I did in high school. There's plenty of online resources for this service, so I snapped a questionable quality digital picture of it, uploaded it to and it shipped to my parent's home.

She had planned on hanging one in the main area and one in her office, but in order to do so she must get the design approved. The painting's initial reaction was positive, but she's apparently having problems getting it past the boss, who has deemed the artwork too gloomy:

Okay, it's not warm and fuzzy. But there is an interpretive value in conquering obstacles, right? At least, that's how I meant it my junior year... We'll see if it is allowed in. Personally, it doesn't matter to me: I certainly wouldn't want any real negative effects to take place from a painting I made ten years ago.

In happier news, The Creative Treehouse hosted a toy drive for Big Brothers Big Sisters last Saturday. Professional photographers took holiday portraits for everyone that brought toys out. I hope everyone that came out had as much fun as we did setting it up:

Me, Jesse and Bodnar testing out the set and props. One of those gifts is a Wii, the other is a two pound cheese dinosaur. (photo courtesy John Bodnar)

Josh and I looking festive in our official portrait. Don't worry, we're not really cold. It's fake snow. (photo courtesy Tom Darby)

We had a blast working the event, and in addition to families and couples, we got a few pets too. So we spent much of our time hyper from cookies, hot cocoa, puppies and holiday cheer. If you missed the portraits, the Treehouse is still holding on to the toys until Dec. 13, and would be happy to take donations up to that time.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

First Blood

Writing on David's sequel has begun slowly, but there is excellent progress being made. My soft deadline right now for the completion of the first draft is May 1st. We'll see. I'm feeling confident.

...which is ironic, because I totally got my first rejection letter today. I had (sort of) successfully forgotten that I even sent it out, except I started trying to remember why Dec. 15th stuck in my mind and, ah, that's when the 2 month response time would be up. Well, I got my familiar SASE in the mail yesterday. I stared at it for a moment and, in an exercise of self-control, put it down and started cooking dinner.

But let's face it, it's a freakin' response, and the piece of paper contained within that envelope lived in the drawer of a real agent's office -- I opened it.

I've been bracing myself for months in the event I receive a letter that reads anything beyond "Yes! Please!" Although it would be outside my usual character, I was really afraid I would take the rejection personally, but there wasn't any of the heartbreak or anguish I thought might bloom from the experience. Actually, my level of disappointment was only about a .5 on a scale from 1 - 10. The letter was very polite, very encouraging. I really thought I'd be more bummed than I am.

I suspect that this may be because by getting a response at all, I'm at least a part of the game now.

So the letter is going up onto the cork board in my studio, I'm on to pursue the next agent in my magic agent binder, and it's back to work on the next book. Things are rolling along.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Days at the Office

I took this holiday week off of work with high hopes of getting some real work done on this sequel. Unfortunately, I've been fighting an illness that refuses to let go and was only able to squeeze out about 3,000 words before giving into some recovery time. My pseudo participation in NaNoWriMo was only a means for inspiration to begin with, but I'd hoped to make it at least halfway to the 50,000 word goal by the end of the month. No dice, it seems.

I did get some good writing in at the beginning of the week, however, and thought it might be interesting to show my workspaces.

The first, a common denominator from writing SoD, is Crazy Mocha, located in Pittsburgh's South Side Works. The staff has completely turned over, which is a shame, but since I've sat in their facility for 8+ hours with success, I'm more than primed to get some work done there. Plus, they have the biggest oatmeal raisin cookies you've ever seen in your life.

The second is Creative Treehouse, which is a facility that offers shared workspace for creative professionals in Bellevue. Since Bellevue is only 10 minutes from my house, it's not a big commute if I need to get away from my house. It's open 24 hours, so I could conceivably write through the night if I needed to. And I heart the treehouse, just because.

The third locale is closer to home... as in, two doors down from my bedroom. I actually just cleaned it out a couple weeks ago, which entailed a box of nails and several garbage bags (Yep, that's clean). One day it will be painted, with a fancy new light and perhaps a fan.

Art is fun. The top pic shows a piece entitled "The Treeshouse" which includes talkative birds and slugs. Below are framed digital pieces titled "The Nunjas" and "Clang Clang". The colorful one leaning up against the wall is called "Imagination". And on the cork board? A main character from the final SoD novel, oh my!
This is a good place when I'm feeling antisocial or contagious. And, because the weather has gotten all winter-y on me, this may become a favorite hide out for a couple months. Because snow is my enemy.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Screenprinting at AIR!

I don't know where the suggestion came from (I suspect it was hatched by Joe and Jesse) but a few of us met at AIR on Tuesday night for a crash course in screen printing.

Per Joe's suggestion, Josh and I stopped at Kinko's to print my design on a transparency (only 81 cents!) and we were off. I also hear that you can print a transparency at AIR, but I since I had zero idea what I was in for, I figured I could at least sort of appear prepared.

The building is huge, and we camped out on the 3rd floor. Joe showed us the ropes, which I will poorly replicate here:
  1. Put your transparency on the giant table with bulbs under it. Put magic screen on top of transparency. Cover screen with giant black thing, then top all with weights.
  2. Click timer to 4 minutes. The bulbs come on with all the power of the sun, so scram so you don't go blind.
  3. After light clicks off, spray the heck out of the screen. Exposing the magic screen to light hardens where ever your design isn't, so when you spray the screen your design pops out. Rinse until bubbles are gone, spray with air, then chat while it dries in front of a fan.
  4. Lay screen in workspace, tape any holes and possibly the edges.
  5. Scoop that delicious ink on to the screen. AIR actually has some you can use, which is nice. I've been told it's mostly gray, which is cool, but I was lucky enough to stumble onto some lime green, yippee.
  6. After putting your material under the screen, pull the fancy squeegee toward you and push your ink through your design.
  7. Lift screen. Squeal like preteen.
Here's the original file in Illustrator. I had about a minute to throw this baby together and burn it to CD before I was going to miss my bus. It was just a thought bubble and skull at first, but I had like 15 seconds where I was just fiddling my thumbs -- hence the horns and fang- mandible-things.

...and here's the final art on my hat. I'm not exactly sure what it is that I'm thinking about, but rest assured it is sufficiently eeeevil. I did a shirt, too, which I figure will be appropriate to wear when I have a tummy ache.

The facility, AIR, was really great, too. According their website:
AIR is an artist-run organization that integrates the production of fine art printwork with innovative educational programs that explore the creative process. AIR provides print and imaging services to professional artists and educators. Our goal is to maintain an active and vital imaging laboratory that supports artists and facilitates creative activity.
And, via my personal endorsement: it's righteous.

The staff was polite and helpful, and the three hours of fun we had only cost $5 since you pay by the screen. It's open to the public from 7pm to 12am on Tuesdays. Plus, there were past projects hung all over the wall, which was really inspiring. Next week: two colors!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Happy Holidays... But Not That One (Not Yet)

Christmas music before Thanksgiving makes my blood boil. Just because I understand the commercial benefit of extending the shopping season doesn't mean I support it. I love all the celebrations that will take place over the next couple months, but I'm still pouting that the world seems to have skipped over my favorite one: Thanksgiving. That's why I spent part of this weekend painting a festive winter scene on a store window, instead of something that was Holiday specific.

Me, Josh, Jesse, Mosley and Allair (nice to meet you!) headed out to Fox's Pizza in Aspinwall on Saturday. The whole thing felt like college again, what with the five of us piling into a car, roaming the mall for supplies, bailing out to gorge on awesome pizza and then: paint!

Josh, me, Jesse, Mr. Baconpants, Allair
Look how organized we look. It's like we know what we're doing.

The finished Winter Wonderland!
The pole might look off-center, but it's the angle, promise. And probably your imagination.

The crew, clock-wise from left: me, Josh, Jesse, Mosley and Allair

If you've never tried it, Fox's Pizza is awesome -- it's the best pizza I've ever had. JD owns the one in Aspinwall, and is a super nice guy that I know through Creative Treehouse.

Did I mention the pizza is awesome?