Tag Archives: Life

Happy New Year!

Thanks to everyone that stuck around (even with the long absences for other work)!

In three days this blog will be one year old.  I can remember setting it up for launch last year, getting it all prepared, and then waiting for the 4th because that was the first Monday and it fit in with my posting schedule.  I didn’t doubt I’d still be here writing, but I also didn’t imagine it’d take so much time.  This blogging lark isn’t easy, that’s for sure.

Keeping it up and running was one of my resolutions last year (well, ‘goals’, I refused to make resolutions).  The rest of them failed after a few months or so when I realised they weren’t quite as important to me as I’d thought.  How did you do with yours?

This year my goal/challenge/resolution/whatever-we’re-calling-it-these-days is to have at least one good-quality post every week.

No schedules, no other rules, but at least one good post.

I guess we could call that my promise to you. 😉

Now I’m going to do the traditional New Year’s thing and ask what the one thing you want to accomplish this year is.  Curious, honestly.  But there’s a lot of these posts around so I won’t hold it against you if you don’t.

Happy New Year everyone, let’s make it awesome!

Products, Offers, and Bears – Oh My!

I’ve been threatening to do it for a while.

I’ve even started creating something a few times before now.

Then of course I get offered a chance to collaborate with an indeterminate amount of bloggers (over 100 were contacted, 12 replied) on a book of indeterminate size, writing about the ideas I could have chosen but didn’t because I built this blog instead.

Enter the Internet Business Ideas Book

There’s a new page in the navigation bar now called Ideas Book – over there you’ll get to see the ‘sales page’ and information about the product, along with what I’m offering in conjunction.  Honestly I’m not great at the whole sales pitch thing, so do me a favour and go read that page (preferably after this post).  Instead I’m going to sit and tell you a story.

A Bear named Tom

Tom was a young, inexperienced but enthusiastic polar bear ready to set off into the world.  He was good at fishing, swimming, and had starred in high profile documentaries from a very young age (at least, until he was no longer a cub).  His parents had looked after him, teaching him all they knew until it was finally time to branch out alone and make his own name.

The problem Tom had was that, thus far, he was the exact same as every other young polar bear.  In fact, due to the way they were all brought up, they even started their journey into the big wide world at the same time.  Which was all well and good for normal polar bears, but Tom had dreams of becoming one of the wealthiest, most respected, famous polar bears in the Arctic.

How could he possibly distinguish himself?

At first, he tried to become the best fisherman.  He’d spend hours every day catching as many fish as possible, and giving them away to the other polar bears (he couldn’t sell them, because all polar bears can fish).  Early on he realised this wasn’t working; he was becoming more famous, but for entirely the wrong reasons.  Worse still, even his childhood sweetheart spent more time laughing at his efforts than paying attention to his advances.

Next he tried becoming the fastest swimmer…

Similar results.  He became very fast, winning almost every race he took part in.  He gained more fame, more people would stop and talk to him as they passed in the snow, but it still wasn’t getting him where he wanted to go.  People were laughing less now though.  Now they jeered, or cheered, there was no rhyme or reason for either.

He tried a brief stint as a Documentary Model that he refuses to acknowledge.

By this time he was getting a bit older.  He’d gained the skills needed to be a truly excellent fisherman.  He was incredibly fast when he went swimming.  He was still good looking, though he wasn’t about to try using that again.  Tom felt he was beginning to run out of time and would soon have to settle for a traditional, boring life.

Then his Dad paid him a visit

Together they went for a walk to the nearest human encampment.  It took them weeks just to get there, all the while his father refused to tell Tom where they were going.  When the village finally came into view they settled down by a snow drift to watch for a while.

This is what they discovered:

  • Humans eat fish
  • They’re not very good at catching them without huge objects and things floating in the water
  • They don’t swim very well, and when they try they shiver

A lightbulb went off in Tom’s head.  If he could find a way to communicate with the humans, he could trade them fish in exchange for beautiful jewels, fame, and fortune (the jewels were for his sweetheart).  That night he gathered lots and lots of fish, of all kinds, and sneaked into the village.  Quietly he deposited them in the centre, and took two trinkets from a nearby window as payment.

Cutting a longer story short

He went back night after night.  The villagers started leaving prizes and gifts for him in the centre of town.  He became legendary among the people, a bit of an oddity among his own kind, and became the first polar bear to present his special girl with real jewels.  They lived happily together until he grew old and their own cubs were ready to start their journey.

Think we all know what happens next!

So what do polar bears have to do with making money online?

First, I like polar bears.  I could have used any animal; that’s not the important part.

Second, don’t we all go through that sensation between leaving home and giving up on our dreams?  In the story Tom had his father to help guide him.  In your story, how would you like 12 very different bloggers to give you a jump-start?

You’ll still have to work.  You’ll still have to learn.  Wouldn’t it be nice to start in the ‘right’ direction?

Here’s the link again to that page with the Internet Business Idea Book I mentioned earlier.  It has your helping hand, a calendar to help keep you on track, and one gift so amazing I haven’t even revealed it yet!

Have a look, order it if you like what you see… And if you feel like being the father bear in this story, you can even order it for the Tom in your life.

Posting for Busy People; The non-post

When you really need to distract your readers, use cute baby animals!

The non-post can be constructed whenever you’re too busy with other things, really need to take a break, or simply have nothing worth saying at that point in time.

Time until completion: 10 minutes.

“For the Blogger with obligations – a real life-saver!”

Follow these simple steps to freedom!

1. Admit Defeat

State that you’re incredibly busy but really wanted to come and speak to your readers anyway as promised.  Do not pause to apologise too much (no need to be effusive), however make sure that your lack of time is known.

2. Craft a post from your failure

Make it short and derivative.  The more you go on about managing commitments and time the better.  Leave no cliche un-revived and no axe un-ground.

3. Add an important life lesson

Essential.  Wrap it up with something obvious, but so true that people can’t argue with you about it.  Sleep being important is a good one, as is taking the time to play.

4. Proceed to ignore that life lesson

Vital.  How can you advise your audience if you don’t do it incorrectly 99% of the time?

5. Vow to do something better next week

Timed right, this is your saving grace.  Don’t belabour the point however give it as much time as your lack of time earlier in the post.

To conclude

Missing a post or ten is ok, provided you have an excellent reason or three.

Joking aside, I really do have next to no time at the moment.  College is eating most of my spare time, and if I’m not doing that I’m off gallavanting about the internet setting up side-projects and writing for books (Out Monday, expect a post).  As an interesting fact I worked out the amount of time I’d be spending per week on everything if I only did exactly what I was meant to do – its in the region of 80 hours.

Snow weeks are my saviour.

Inspiration; James Turrell

From famous glass-blowers to someone that can loosely be described as a light artist.  In this post we’ll be looking at a completely different style of creation and what we can learn from the spirit behind it.  Last week we looked at how changing the parameters of a craft can turn it into an art form, this week we’re looking at how science and research can enable our work.

James Turrell; The light psychologist

Turrell came to art in a more round-about fashion that most; he was a student of psychology and mathematics, an approach that’s carried across into his work since.  He never sculpted or created paintings, instead he’s been using light installations to evoke emotions in his viewers on a more basic level.  He believes that by using light in certain ways you can create a space in the mind to start exploring your own sense of spirituality.

The Roden Crater in Northern Arizona houses his largest experiment.  Using the natural light he’s created different rooms in the crater in order to control how the light is perceived, with the ultimate aim being to make people feel different, powerful emotions within each one.  According to James, light, our understanding of it, and its effects on us are key to how we perceive the world.

The Allure

I’ll be the first to say that he wasn’t an obvious choice as a role model for me personally.  Looking at his art online you don’t really get a feel for what he’s trying to achieve; it was only after seeing how people viewing the rooms in person reacted that I became more interested.  Using art as a way to help people connect to themselves and the world around them is, I think, one of the things that defines great art.  If art is a conversation, then art that can connect and prompt thoughts and emotions is doing something right.

“I always felt that art was more interested in posing the question than it was in getting the answer, but I’ve come to more recently think that art is the answer.” James Turrell, interview with Egg.

Useful Lessons from a Lightsmith

There’s two things I’m choosing to take from Turrell’s approach.  The first is that science and more technical skills don’t have to be separate from art and creativity – in fact, they’re more linked than not!  Using what we’ve learned through research and ‘techie’ skills we can have greater freedom to create something wonderful.

The second is that art must have a purpose and a meaning.  Well, I guess it’s possible to have ‘art’ without either of those things being intentional… Looking at the great artists of the past and present though, are there any that didn’t have something to say?  New thoughts, new ideas, new twists, perspectives, conversations – aren’t those more important than any creative or technical ability?

How can we use this?

I propose that as a community we should be moving towards expressing ideas and truths, without restricting ourselves to purely technical or purely artistic methods.

Programmers can create incredibly beautiful things using some lines of code.  Artists can do the same using some lines on paper.  The means don’t matter.

However one question to ask yourself before creating, or maybe even after (if you’re the sort of person that likes to just pick up your things and start), is important.

What’s the point?

Tired, Cranky, and a Mountain of Work to do…

It’s the weekend.  Following my own set of rules, I shouldn’t be working at the moment.  And I’m not… well, unless you count this post.  Or the SEO stuff I did earlier.  I’m not counting the college work I did this morning because technically I allow myself a few hours there.

And yet…  It’s on my mind.

Crisis Mode Sucks.

Working really hard all week with long hours, little play and even less sleep does not make for an easy transition to the weekend.  In a normal week I like to take most of Friday afternoon/evening to unwind and finish off the more pressing tasks.  Some weeks (like this one) that just doesn’t happen.

You know the sort.  You start out with a certain amount of work to do and it snowballs.  Or you’re off ill the week before and suddenly you have to catch up.  Or, worse, someone else arbitrarily gives you another project to handle along with your normal obligations.  While we adjust there’s a scrambling period.

If you’re anything like me this is usually accompanied by a dip in your sleep time.

Sleep; Vastly Under-rated

Growing up as a night owl I used to be accustomed to not sleeping more than 4-6 hours a night (conservative estimate, some days I went without).  A case could be argued for the fact I actually work more productively when the world’s in darkness and I get complete peace to do whatever.  When I was a little younger and a little less over-commited this wasn’t a big deal; after a long night of work I could get up again early next morning, start over, then go play like the rest of the kids.

Maybe I’m getting old.  Mornings, after a long night of work, approach with stabbing light-lances of doom.  Sleeping late leaves me feeling groggy; the choice is between that or being extremely grumpy for the rest of the day (at least until I get my green tea.  Not the point).

By contrast when I do sleep enough I can switch far more easily into ‘fun’ mode and relax.  I blame the additional time my subconscious has to figure out this stress nonsense.

Stress stops me (and probably you) from being fun

Lots of work = added stress.

Added stress = more time spent on work.

More time on work = less sleep.

Less sleep = less stress recovery time.

Therefore, with the above statements we can come up with this formula:

Lots of work + Less sleep  = More Stress = Longer work hours

Sucky, no?

To Conclude; Sleep Cures Everything

Except maybe the common cold.

Inspiration: Dale Chihuly

Every profession has its heroes, and every individual in a profession has people they take inspiration from.  This is particularly important in ‘creative’ industries, though you’ll see it happening across the board.  The more aware you are of your preferences and role models the easier it’ll be to climb out of a slump when you need to.  Since I’m just starting to explore this myself, over the next few months we’ll be having a look at three artists whose work really resonates with me.  We’ll also look at how you can utilise your own heroes to launch yourself further towards your goals.

Introducing the Creator of Glass Forests

Dale Chihuly’s art takes the form of beautiful glass sculptures and installations, each exploring colour and form in new and natural ways.  He was one of the first glass-blowers to take the step from solitary work to building teams in order to create something larger and more intricate.

After studying architecture, he became fascinated with blown glass in the early to mid 1960s and has been furthering the craft/artform ever since with his installations, research, and innovations.  A lot of his influences come from his past; his mother’s gardens in Tacoma, his childhood, and his love of the sea.

When he first started out there was a huge amount of respect for his medium, which enabled him to learn from established professionals and study in the first hot glass program in the US (University of Wisconsin).

Why Dale?

The reason I find Chihuly’s work so interesting has a lot to do with my obsession with colour and contrast; through his experiments with glass he’s discovered new ways to tie his art into his environment.  Man made and natural.  Also he plays with light and dark a lot, especially in his later pieces (the Black Series in particular deals with setting the scene with darkness to show off the brighter colours and light).

Added to that is the fact that, as a person, he’s pushing the boundaries of what’s ‘acceptable’ and ‘normal’ all the time.  Through building such strong teams and creating such large pieces in glass he’s challenging the old stereotypes surrounding his medium.  Once thought of as a solitary craft, he’s shown us that it can be a collaborative art.  He’s doing what he loves because he loves it without worrying what anyone else will think.

How does this help?

I’m not a glass-blower.  I do like to create, and contrasts in life, emotion, what we see, what we hear, and so on… Delight me. I also like to be reminded that creating doesn’t have to be a solitary act.

Therefore summing up Dale Chihuly’s influence on me isn’t difficult.  By looking at his work I can see how someone else has tackled contrast in a literal sense, and from that I can start to notice subtler distinctions in my own work.  Having recognised that it’s such a huge theme for me, I’m now a lot happier to explore the bounds of that theme (and ignore them entirely when I choose).

Most important of all (perhaps) is seeing someone succeed at creating/working on something they love.

Who wouldn’t want that for themselves?

Take a look at your heroes; Who are you drawn to?  What do you like?  When I first did this exercise every artist I was fond of happened to be a digital fantasy artist.  Looking through them I eventually realised that they all had certain themes and focuses in common… one of those is contrast.

After identifying that I looked for artists in different areas using those themes.  Dale Chihuly was one of the first I came across and fell in love with (artwork, come on people).  Now I like the ‘new’ artists I found more than the older ones!

Give it a go, you might be surprised what you learn (I sure was).  Oh, and comment here too – who do you look up to in your field and why?

Reference:

Chihuly’s Website and Artwork

Dale Chihuly’s Official Biography

Article about Chihuly

Do you stall at the start line?

It starts with ambition, and possibly talent.  You come up with this really good idea in response to a brief you were given, you’re sure you can finish it within the allocated time, you’re all fired up and ready to go kick ass!

Then you sit down to work and your mind goes completely blank.

Overwhelm is a wonderful thing

In fact, the larger and scarier the end product the better chance you have of creating something truly amazing.  Or doing the whole crash, burn, stress, scrape thing.  The beginning of a project around the time the actual work starts is always the scariest for me; once I’m working I can keep going without much trouble and create something on time.

The Unspoken Choice

When it’s time to work you can decide to stand by your plans, or chicken out and minimize them.

Phrased like that most people are going to say ‘of course we’ll go for the former!’.  I believe you.  Now lets move on and look at how we can actually do that without accidentally reverting to the other path.

Speaking as a Professional Minimizer…

The fear there is based around whether you can produce to specifications before deadline.  It’s not whether you can do it period, it’s the time element that makes it harder.  Because I absolutely hate being undermined by ‘silly fears’ like that, I have a few coping mechanisms:

Break the product down – Decide what you absolutely have to create, what would add value, and what would make it look prettier.
Focus on the Necessities – Write down what you need to do that day to get started.
Pick on the Smallest thing – Finish it as quickly as you can, and score it off your list.
Breathe, then do the next thing – The breathing is important.  Enjoy that you have one thing done, then launch into the next.

The Feel-Good Factor

Some people like to use the ‘Tackle the biggest part for a specified amount of time’ trick instead of the knocking out the smallest task.  That may work better for you; after some trial and error it doesn’t help me much unless I’ve already completed one task.

Either way, the point is to do something that can quickly give you a sense of accomplishment.  Once you have something it’s no longer ‘Oh god, how do I begin?!’ it’s ‘Ok, what’s next?’.

How do you get around it?

Fifth-Life Crisis; Is this where it all started?

First off, I want to say hello.

This may seem strange to new readers, but at the time of this post I’ve been ‘gone’ for the better part of four months.  Older readers may have some idea of where I’ve been; the next few posts are going to tell a story.  Specifically my story – my hope is that you’ll get something more out of it yourselves.

The Very Beginning

Every story has a beginning although the quality of each beginning varies.  Some leap straight into the action, others take a longer route to the point, and still others like to start with a conversation or a question.  I’m going to be contrary and start with a challenge:

Have you ever burned, crushed, twisted, squeezed, stomped on, and utterly destroyed ‘You’… for something better?

Before I left on ‘vacation’ I could have been described as a workaholic.  Outside of my own industry and comfort zone you’d be forgiven for calling me ‘dull’ or ‘quiet’.  I spent a large amount of time listening, and a larger amount of time feeling awkward.  If anything I was shy and afraid to push at my own bounds; I’d try new things in my own time and only within certain parameters.

A Blogger was Born

In January I started writing and speaking to a wider audience.  Yes, I’m referring to you.  I’d talk about 3D, about Art, about life as a student; everything I felt comfortable with.  I read other blogs until the information got repetitive, I talked to other bloggers, and occasionally to people within my industry.  Slowly I expanded my social group however I remained in constant control.  Safe.

Boundaries I didn’t enforce were pushed and at times utterly destroyed – good things happened over the months after, you could say I learned.  Looking back, I suppose I was starting to think of myself as a butterfly – fresh out of the cocoon, bright, and hopeful.  I was busier than ever before.  College took a huge toll on my time, this blog more of it, and other social commitments got pushed aside.

The stress I was putting myself under was huge; I pulled off a lot during that time, some of which mattered and other parts I only thought did.  My physical fitness deteriorated a bit, though of course that got brushed aside as a concern for later (doesn’t everyone do that?).  I was miserable I suppose, though by then I saw no other way.

Then it all stopped.

Completely.

Because on the other side of the ocean I had people that cared about me, and I was going to visit them for the summer.  This isn’t to say that I don’t have people that care about me here, far from!  The thing that made me finally stop and breathe was making the journey elsewhere.

It was the scariest, most wonderful thing I’ve ever done and I’m glad I went.

Canada is not the UK

There’s a long and very comprehensive list on the differences between them.  While I could spend the entire rest of this post (and several more) talking about those differences there’s far more interesting things to be on about.  I’ll save you some of the preamble and filler and cut right to my point.

I was suddenly in an environment where I was welcomed, at home, and free in the truest sense of the word.  No one really knew that much about me, so I didn’t have to live up to any expectations.  The sun shone almost constantly, the people were really friendly and for the first time I could joke and laugh like, well… a normal person.

While I was there I worked full time (unpaid work experience) in the local Booster Juice, my first experience of being in a store or fast food place behind the counter.  The rest of the time I spent talking to people, hanging out with my new friends in the bar (rarely actually drinking), and sometimes visiting different parts of the country.

Living Life was Taking Precedence

Recording it seemed so much less important.  There weren’t enough hours in the day.  It was a whole new life, a whole set of new experiences.  My comfort zone had been shattered, smashed open, and danced on; I found I didn’t want it back anyway.

What’s more, I didn’t want to hide behind words any more.  Maybe it was time to step up and be me.