31 October 2012

30 October 2012

So more Star Wars then...

It's been a strange day. It started long before the sun came up with howling winds and pelting rain. It woke me up around 2:30 AM and kept me up for about an hour and a half. Looks like it woke my neighbors as well since there whole house was lit up. Then it woke me again a few hours later. Just no good sleep. I've had my share of spooky for the year, thanks.

On the upside, I didn't lose power or internet as Sandy banged through, just sleep.

After a long day, Deadline Hollywood Daily tells me: UPDATE: BREAKING: ‘Star Wars’ Returns — ‘Episode 7′ Slated For 2015 And More Movies Planned As Disney Buys Lucasfilm.

They are making more Star Wars movies. I'm not even sure how to feel about that.

From the article:
“The last Star Wars movie release was 2005’s Revenge Of The Sith – and we believe there’s substantial pent-up demand”, Disney said.
Pent-up demand. More like disgust and dismay that have only abated some with the Lego Star Wars video games.

At least Lucas won't be in charge although it said he'd be consulting. One can only hope not too much or in such a way that someone (ideally someone in charge) with better sense can ignore.

They're planning 3 more movies: episodes 7, 8, 9; so the story should pick up after Return of the Jedi. That should take us through 2019 at least. What do you think?

4 years ago on TTaT: And that's a picture wrap on Fall

25 October 2012

Life of Art SitRep #142 Full steam ahead!

So it seems when I have a week nearly free of interruptions, I get a lot done. Go figure. I wonder how I can get regular life to be more like that. I suspect delicate communication will be involved while setting as yet to be determined boundaries.

But for now, here's how the week went:

I finished adding a new line of Mini Messenger Bags to my shop.

Created a new Light Blue and White Gingham Pattern and product line:

Started working on a xmas lights photograph but wasn't quite getting what I wanted from it so decided to pick it up the following day. Realized I'd be better off taking a new shot with certain elements in mind, so I zagged and made two digital designs instead.

Created Red and Green Polka Dots on White and Red Polka Dots on White designs and products.

Also made 5 new templates.

Updated my Rocklawn Arts lens to include smartphone cases, Christmas and holiday cards.

Posted 63 products to promotional blogs.

Read Popular Photography Oct. '12 issue.

Rearranged my store a bit to improve and simplify navigation.

Blogged wall decals.

Watched day 1 of Creative LIVE in NYC. A free rewatch should be airing right now and day 2 starts on Friday at 10 AM ET here. It's seminar style with 4 sessions on different topics each day. Very cool!

Feels good to have a productive week during which I was able to finish some time consuming projects. How did yours go?

A year ago on TTaT: Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Tales

19 October 2012

Life of Art SitRep #141 Seven minutes

Can I finish this post in 7 minutes to abide by my rule of shutting my computer off at midnight? We'll see.

Finished creating Wall Decals for my existing designs, woo!

Rearranged store categories but there was a glitch that was incorrectly intermingling my categories. After several emails to tech support and several attempts to fix it on my own, it finally seems to be working correctly again. Yay!

Updated links in my Rocklawn Arts store intro to newer phone cases.

Shot 4 photographs.

I started creating mini messenger bags from my existing designs for my store:

4 minutes over, not too bad. I'll take it! :)

Two years ago on TTaT: What serves me?

16 October 2012

49. I Will Teach You to Be Rich

I Will Teach You to Be Rich49. I Will Teach You to Be Rich by Ramit Sethi

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

If you're in your twenties or early thirties, read this book right now! You will benefit most from Ramit's approach. If you're older, still read it because there is lots of sound financial advice within.

I'm excited to let you know that Ramit Sethi is teaching a free course called Money + Business: Essentials for Creative Entrepreneurs starting tomorrow at noon Eastern time, 10/17/12 through 10/19/12. Watch LIVE on Creative Live or during the nightly rewatches for FREE. You can buy downloads of it if you miss it. Bonus of watching live is that you can ask questions via the chat room or twitter.

[10/20/12 Edited to add: So I watched the course (rewatches airing for free this weekend) and I'm less excited now. His teaching style isn't quite for me. A lot of useful info though not as much about freelancers and entrepreneurs as I'd hoped. Your mileage may vary.]

OK, back to the book.

I really like his approach to focus on the big wins. It's not about skipping lattes but rather saving thousands on your car and house, eliminating credit card and bank fees, negotiating for higher starting salaries, and investing early and easily. Also he encourages conscious spending, knowing what you want to spend your money on and setting goals to do so.

Most of the chapters have a series of action steps to do for the week. It's a 6 week program overall.

The edition I read came out in 2009, so things have changed a little since then. I wouldn't get an online savings account with HSBC. Their rates are terrible and they take a day longer than other banks to transfer your money in and out. Emigrant Direct's rates are also low right now.

I really like ING Direct which has savings and checking. It's not the highest interest rate for savings, but the checking is convenient. American Express has an online savings account with the highest interest rate I've seen in quite a while. You can even link it to an ING account if you want.

ING has been bought by Capital One, but won't change its name for a few months yet. If you're interested in opening a fee-free checking account with ING, send me a message with your email and I'll send you a referral. You'll get $50 for opening the account and I'll get $10. Or if you want a savings account with them, let me know and your bonus will be $25 (if you open it with at least $250) while I'll get $10. (Referrals would be awesome but, of course, you can also open accounts with them directly without the sign-on bonus.)

Automating your finances is one of Ramit's key tenets. Some of this doesn't apply as well to people with irregular, unpredictable income like freelancers. I'm hoping he covers some of that during his Creative Live workshop.

The book is easy to read, has a sense of humor, and the advice is straightforward. The goal is implementing the 85% solution: not perfect but you get started which is better than doing nothing. The sooner you start, the better!

Three years ago on TTaT: 38. Grave Peril

Register to Vote, Yo!

You need to get information from your state's election Web site, but you can find that at the United States Election Assistance Commission site. Just click on your state.

OR! You can use the National Mail Voter Registration Form.

If you live in Massachusetts, here is the Elections Division site.

The deadline to register to vote in Massachusetts for the November 6, 2012, State Election and Presidential Election is this Wednesday, October 17, 2012.

Print out the form, sign it and mail it in by Wednesday! Get it done!

I bring up Massachusetts because there's a big Senate race going on.

Current Republican Senator Scott Brown cosponsored a bill that would allow employers to deny coverage for birth control. (I urged him not to in a letter but he said it was a matter of "religious freedom" for the employers. No religious freedom for the employees it would seem.)

He voted to allow insurance companies to charge higher rates to women and treat pregnancy as a preexisting condition.

He also voted to defund Planned Parenthood which provides access to preventive health care for women including breast and cervical cancer screenings.

He has votes against three of President Obama's jobs bills and against equal pay.

He voted for tax breaks for billionaires and Big Oil.

No matter what I've written to him, the response is essentially the same: Thanks so much for contacting me. I'm not going to do that because I don't represent you. I plan to keep big business and the right wing happy.

We need Elizabeth Warren in the Senate and not just for MA's sake. If Brown gets re-elected, he could be the deciding vote in the Senate.

Elizabeth Warren is in it for the people, not corporations. She believes in equal pay for equal work, marriage equality, leveling the playing field, ... Read more on the Issues section of her site.
"Women also must have the full range of reproductive health care options available to them. This includes access to contraception, maternity and newborn care, and safe abortion services. ...A woman should be able to seek guidance from people she trusts, including her doctor and her priest, pastor, rabbi or other religious leader, without interference from the government."
It's the last bit that gets me: "without interference from the government." Yes!

12 October 2012

Life of Art SitRep #140 Out and Proud

I was about to head to bed when I remembered it was National Coming Out Day yesterday. So yeah, I'm bisexual. You might think that means I'm into everyone, but really I'm a hardcore introvert with high standards. It just means the person is more important to me than his or her gender. Why that is a cause for offense (putting it mildly) to many people is a mystery to me.

But that's why visibility is still so important, to help change minds. It's also why I created several geometric rainbow designs for my store, to visibly show my support for the LGBTQ community.

And now back to the usual SitRep:

I shot 15 photographs.

Made more wall decal templates and mini messenger bag templates for my store.

I created 31 Wall Decals. It's been slow going because there are so many shapes to choose from. I looked through all of the categories and wrote down my favorites (still a long list).
Bokeh in Spring Room Graphics
Bokeh in Spring Room Graphics by RocklawnArts
Create your own custom wall graphics online at zazzle.com

Updated my @RocklawnArts twitter bio.

How was your week?

6 years ago on TTaT: Maybe safe-mode is enough

09 October 2012

Rusty and Sharon

Have you been watching Major Crimes?

I wasn't sure if I'd like the spinoff to The Closer, but Mary McDonnell quickly won me over to the revised premise.

SPOILERS AHEAD if you haven't been watching it.

I also wasn't sure how I felt about Rusty being a regular character, but I really like how his storyline has evolved with Sharon and the rest of the Major Crimes squad. If you want to see some stellar acting, just watch a scene between Mary McDonnell and Graham Patrick Martin.

What I love is that Sharon is absolutely on Rusty's side, even when he lashes out at her. Sharon is there for Rusty in a way Brenda never could have been. Or most people, for that matter.

Over the course of the season, we see how Sharon's stability and reliability create safety and trust for Rusty. She can't control everything, so it's not perfect, but she's always in his corner. Having that sort of advocate in your life is very appealing.

And seriously, Mary McDonnell is great in this role. You can see the layers of thoughts running through her character's mind as other people speak. I'm just sad there's only one more episode left this season.

Five, count 'em, five years ago on TTaT: Time to recover

06 October 2012

Brand Failure

This week I learned quite a bit about branding from the Creative Live workshop Photography Brand Makeover with Sarah Petty and Erin Verbeck. (They're re-airing it over the weekend for free if you'd like to check it out.)

So today when I went to a large art and craft fair I'd been to previous years, I was looking at the displays with a new filter added.

Beautiful artwork, high prices, price list printed on a standard 8.5"x11" piece of paper. Brand fail.

A woman with a director's chair at the front of her booth with her company's name on the chair's back in the same script font as her sign. Nice touch. Brand success. Also a a good sales move.

Though the vendors who sit at the backs of their booths don't stress you out if you just want to look at their stuff, they don't usually engage you. I feel like it's a better bet to sit at the entrance of your booth so you can greet people and answer questions.

At the very least, don't have your head down as you scroll through your phone with a don't-disturb-me look on your face. At least that's my feeling as a potential client and from what I've gleaned from many a Creative Live workshop when they talk about sales.

A lot of vendors were doing this right and there were more people at the event this year than I'd seen previously, so that was cool.

There was a lot of cool, interesting art work. I wasn't feeling chatty, but I tried to smile to let people know when I liked their stuff. Odd that, I could tell my default expression was serious and interested which has a tendency to not read favorably.

I walked around the edge of an aisle's corner booth. It was set up like a room, two full walls in the back corner with a smaller free-standing corner opposite with paintings and framed prints on them. The free-standing section had very cool framed names in different neat drawn scripts. Clearly it was the type of thing you could get customized. I pictured how my name would look for a moment and then walked around the outer side of the display. (I really like the #2 font in the center column.)

Inside the booth, there were large paintings which contained pairs of suns and moons. Not what I'd want on my wall, but they were cool. The artist was standing near the entrance of her booth, so I said, "I really like these."

"Thank you. Please come in and take a look."

I wasn't planning to, but because she greeted me so nicely, I did.

"Are you an artist?" she asked.

I have no idea why she asked, but it caught me so off-guard, I stammered and said, "Um.... well...sort of. I'm a photographer and I also make geometric designs."

"This'll be right up your alley then," she said brightly.

FYI, that was epic brand fail on my part. I knew I should've just said, "Yes" without choking on it, but it was later that it occurred to me that I should've said, "Yes, I'm a photographer and I also make geometric designs. Here's my card." The pitiful thing is I even had cards on me. No wonder I've handed so few out. It doesn't even occur to me when it would make sense.

I examined the details of her paintings as she continued.

"The ones on the walls are paintings, and then we also have giclee prints of them." She gestured to them as she spoke. "The lettering we can do custom. You can see more of what we have in the binders or by flipping through these matted prints."

Looking through binders was more of an investment than I was willing to make, but I stepped to the outer edge of her booth to flip through the matted images.

"Would you like a brochure?"


"There are two. This one's for the paintings and this one is for the lettering."

"OK, thanks," I said as I took the brochures.

When I was done flipping through images, I said, "Thank you," and started moving off.

"Thank you for stopping by," she said warmly with no trace of disappointment. Brand success.

Two years ago on TTaT: Translucent Trillium

05 October 2012

Life of Art SitRep #139 Branding

This week, I learned a lot about branding and logos, having graphic standards and what that even means. Lots to mull over and work on. Naturally, this was thanks to Creative Live and their workshop Photography Brand Makeover with Sarah Petty and Erin Verbeck. One more day of the workshop to go starting live at noon Eastern time on Friday.

Made templates for Samsung Galaxy S3 Cases, iPhone 5 cases, and Wall Decals.

I also added 8 new Wall Decals to my shop.

One of the coolest things this week was getting an email about having one of my products featured on Zazzle during the holiday season. I'm not sure to what extent it'll get promoted, but I am excited to get more exposure for my product and store.

Though I never received any feedback or suggestions, I changed the title of my After Hockney product line to Light Reflections On Water: Black & White to make it more searchable.

Also changed out the digital designs on my 50 Art Polls lens.

How was your week?

Two years ago on TTaT: Exposed roots

01 October 2012

Epistaxis Extreme

Basically, it's a shark extreme nosebleed.

Nothing quite like waking up around 3:40 AM and thinking, "It feels like my nose is starting to bleed," and then having the worst nosebleed you can recall ever having.

On the one hand, "Yay, Body, for waking me up in time to avoid getting blood on anything!"

On the other, not so cool those moments I spent pondering blood clots in my head and the potential for stroke in the middle of the night. Also, it was cold.

Nighttime nosebleeds: not a fan.

(Apologies for the grisliness. I did my best to keep it to a minimum.)

Two years ago on TTaT: Life of Art SitRep #34: the unfinished week