It’s not Indecision, it’s just really slow Inspiration…

It’s not even that. It’s really just the fact that the more I learn the more that I like or dislike things. You can’t understand everything fully at once, you have to try it out first. Well I’ve been “trying out” Integrated Media for a year now and I have decided that it’s just not for me. I still like web design and I’m still fascinated by a snazzy interface, but I’m just not inspired to create these things the way I’m inspired to do other things, like create characters and worlds. I just can’t find myself sitting and thinking “you know, if I could make a drop down menu that did this that and the other whatsit, it could be revolutionary”…no, not so much. But I can still pause for a moment and think “if I introduced a character like this into today’s gaming world it could change the way that we stereotype characters forever” or “if I could just bring Reality.Hacked to life, I think people would really enjoy it”. Those are the types of things that I want to share with people; that is how I am inspired.

Why is being inspired so important? Was the creator of the gMail interface inspired to create it? Hell yes. Creativity doesn’t just happen and even if you aren’t aware of it everything that inspires you contributes to your overall creation. This is something that over the last 15 years (probably even before then, but I can’t really tell you for sure) I have discovered over and over again to be true. So why did I try to push that known-truth aside and try to force myself to create without inspiration anyway? The answer to that, my friends, is a mixture of lack of self-confidence and fear of being unable to make money after graduation. I love to create characters and I love to write stories (I used to love to draw them too) but the more my passion leant toward “career” the more and more afraid I got that I was “not going to be good enough” to compete with my classmates in college. I mean, it is COLLEGE afterall- a really big deal, right? Apparently not so much. Everyone I’ve spoken to says “oh yes, I learned this, this and that other whatsit in college, but the REAL challenges came with my first job/internship”. So all I can do is practice, practice, practice and prepare, prepare, prepare. From what I’ve heard, that’s pretty much what school is about. Go figure.

The Paintbrush versus the Toolbar

This will be a short little ramble on how I feel about the separation of Art and Technology within my own major and the world in general. From this short piece of prose I hope to get some inspiration on two things:  One, the topic for my History and Theory of Digital Media paper;  Two, the themes I want to include in my next big composition “ART =/= TECH“.

To begin with, the first thing that always comes to mind when I discuss art and technology is the difference between digital art and what is now referred to as “traditional” art. Traditional art meaning that the medium chosen by the artist is something tangible and not digital and digital art meaning any form of art where a computer aided in the process. I have gotten into a bad habit of saying specifically that I am a Digital Designer, when in fact I do my designs in all sorts of media from pen and ink to Photoshop and Illustrator. That’s not to say that a large amount of my production time is not spent on the digital “side” of things, but it does mean that I don’t do everything on that “side”. I usually do most if not all of my planning and sketching on regular paper with a regular pencil or pen. I also do quite a lot of my writing on paper, even though I can type much more quickly and efficiently than I can write. The reason for this most likely lies in my own personal comfort zones.

Even though I have been using Photoshop for almost a decade now, I still feel the most comfortable with a pencil in my hand and a paper on the table than I could ever feel with a tablet pen and a screen. I love the effects of digital production and the fact that the limitations are almost entirely based in your own artistic limitations and not the limitations of the media itself. Still, for me this seems like a second step not a first step, in the process. “Traditional” media flows much more freely and quickly than digital media, without a doubt; so when those first little bits of inspiration shoot through my head I am always in a rush to get them down as quickly and clearly as possible. It’s usually a messy tangle of scribbles and mistakes, but that’s all it takes for that initial idea to come to life. I’m sure many artists feel the same way- at least, I assume that they do. Because we all started out with crayons on construction paper- nothing fancy- where you go from there depends completely on your interests and passions. I grew to love digital art from the first time I used M.S.Paint. Some people could never imagine completing a whole illustration on a computer screen.

There is another comfort-zone factor that I think exists within this debate between digital and “traditional” art and that is the tangibility, or lack-thereof. I can think of at least three friends who would never trust three or four hours worth of work on a piece to their computer’s hard drive. Being in complete control of where your work is at all times is definitely a comfort issue. If you’re more of a techie like me, then you may have some trouble getting through your head that someone would not trust their own computer to save information for them; especially since that is technically what is was designed to do in the first place. But there are some people who would rather risk carrying around their work in a plastic sleeve than ever save it to a hard drive and leave it there. Maybe it’s the idea that what you are creating on a computer screen is not really there, but just a representation of what could be there. What you are really creating when you open a new document in Photoshop and start slapping down paint strokes is a series of zeroes and ones that just happened to be arranged and aligned in such a way that they display exactly what you want on the screen. From you- the Photoshopper’s- point of view, you’re just creating the way anyone would. Step by step, working with different materials and producing different effects, but what’s there isn’t really there. It’s never really there until you make a physical copy of it, at which point it becomes tangible and therefore we once again gain total control over it’s existence. (This is probably why some professors feel more comfortable asking for “hard copies” of work than requesting it only sent through the OnCourse sharing site.)

I feel like I should be saying something far more enlightening, but this is all I have to work with for now. I think, as far as rambles go, this one is a pretty good start. I’ll need to do more in-depth research to gain more knowledge and opinions on these things though. For now, the ramble is a ramble.

Myrskyä

Myrskyä is a storm…

Myrskyä, my new Toshiba A505 Satellite laptop is a lovely, sleek, shiny black machine with small, lightly stenciled designs of lines running across the front and back of the machine. Despite it’s smart and clean exterior though, it’s a whirlwind of power. Running 64 bit Windows 7 it roars through all applications like they were nothing. Even Adobe can’t outclass Myrsky’s phenominal power. This laptop is easily the best machine I have ever purchased. It deserves something truely great to represent it. I decided to go with a personalized laptop skin from SkinIt.com, which I recieved giftcards for as a gift several years back, and never felt that (the late) AcerDemon really deserved.

SkinIt.com laptop skin teal and light green

SkinIt's Teal and Light green skin

SkinIt.com has many, many laptop skins for you to choose from, limited only by the make, model and size of your laptop. Even with those limitations, there are still hundreds of choices and dozens of themes to pick from. I saw many that I really liked, but I did not feel really matched the personality of Myrskyä. There was one in particular that I really loved, that is shown at the left there.  <—

This one here is a beautiful symphony of shapes and colors that I really love. The rich, deep teals and the nice, light greens are fantastic and match my own theme colors of the year. Also, the flowing, cloudy patterns are exactly the sort of abstract feel I want to portray the “storm” theme for Myrskyä. However, I feel that the design itself is a bit too generic in style. Also, I’m not a huge fan of the gilt-esque appearance of the golden and green outlines on the light green flourishes. It looks almost too “hotel carpet-y” for my tastes. Perhaps too elegant a design where I really want something that portrays both elegance and power.

Still, there is something about the feeling behind the movement and shapes here that I really like and I find really inspiring. I’m not sure where exactly I’m going to take it, but my own design will definitely be remeniscent of this one, if not completely inspired by it. The colors and composition especially.

Though, I would really love the colors to be brighter and more saturated; that would really suit my personality better, plus it will stand out much more than this design. I don’t want to get TOO specific with the colors, because goodness knows what their printer will spit out, but a similar color scheme is the plan. Teal, chartreuse, spring green, some light aqua and probably even some rich blues. Maybe even some orange-y yellows for contrast. I’ll just have to see what looks best in the final design.

About the über-mouse

Logitech's M305 wireless mouse

Logitech M305- blue w/dragon

Another important thing for me is for the skin’s design to have at least accent colors taken from my absolutely über-fantastiche mouse, from Logitech. It’s not just über-fantastiche because it’s in my favorite color, or because it has dragons on it, no-no; it’s really fantastiche because it’s a wireless, takes just one AA battery, senses motion and turns off when it’s not being used, has a very small USB nano-reciever that I can leave in the computer without fear of knocking it out every time I move it around (any USB port in a Storm…), AND has a small spot just for the reciever inside the mouse’s casing itself, right next to the battery. Oh yes, this was a pricey mouse, running around $35, but it is SO worth it. I’ve even taken it other places and used it on PCS and Macs in the labs as well as friend’s Macbooks and laptops. It even works with Ubuntu. Just awesome. It’s also pretty small, I can slip it in my jacket pocket to take it across the room and the scroll wheel is practically silent compared to some mice I’ve seen.

And did I mention it comes in my favorite color? It probably comes in yours too, with or without designs. When I see something in aqua or teal, odds are I’ll pick it up right away just because it’s my favorite color. This time I’m really glad I did! By the way, for no particular reason I named it “Mushroom” or “‘Shroom” for short. It may have been because of the shape or size. Whatever the reason, it’s an odd nickname, I feel like I should be something that fits the storm theme better. It needs to sound cute though, because my little über-mouse is just adorable. ❤

By the way, this counts on The Big List as item #1.

“Crumbs” 01/18

Why is the world suddenly in monochrome?

Everyone is wearing the same shades, same hues. Have we drifted back into the monotony of the Victorian Era? The absolute supression of creativity? I honestly hope not.

[Browns, blacks, greys and whites are beautiful in their own right]

But I want to see more people wearing green.

Post-Christmas, Pre-New Years

It is now after Christmas and all pre and post holiday shopping is complete. All the great deals following the Christmas rush have been snatched up and I got some really cute stuff from Target, including a Target-exclusive, limited edition Kit the Cat from the Skelanimals series. I love the Skelanimals, who are a perfect mix of creepy-macabre and ADORABLE. I used to be frightened of skeletons as a child, so it’s surprised me that I found them so irresistibly cute. My Kit the Cat has angel wings and a little crooked halo. I will post a picture later. Posted!

Kit from the Target Skelanimals collection as an angel for holiday 09

Now, cute things aside (but not pushed aside, because pushing cute things is mean!) I still haven’t put much effort into designing my portfolio site yet. I still need to do sketches and some research. I’m pretty sure I am going to use the Gallerific technique that we used in my N341 class, since it is a fairly simple jquery plugin (that even I can utlize, ha-ha). I still plan to go with a mostly minimalistic approach, but I do want it to be a bit flashy to impress possible employers, of course. The ideas are coming slooooowly…

Also, new cubecats to come! More later on that~

Winter Holiday Plans

As usual, after arriving at my parent’s home for Winter Break, I am left with little to do but chat with friends online, watch TV, read, eat home-cooking, play with cats and sleep. A nice, contented existence compared to the hectic life of finals, but perhaps a bit too mundane for me. Some Christmas shopping here and there, a plan for this and that party, a little designing~ this has been my day. Since my family is rather short of funds this year, we are spending more time at home with the cats. Lovely little kitties. :3

It was a main plan of mine to design and put up my portfolio site during the holidays. I have done little planning into it, but I know I want it to be minimalistic, lots of white space- but still colorful, and definitely themed with cubes (not cubecats, per se, but cubes since I love them).

While creating my portfolio site, I will also be planning a matching redesign for this blog as well as an iGoogle theme (because I keep getting bored of the ones they offer) and wallpapers, icons, etc- for my own use. I really want to bring it all together with one theme that says “Krystal Weber”.

A pixelart of a tofu-cubecat

<[ Krystal Weber!]

Fall Semester- The End

Well, as of December 16 I have completed all of my Fall Semester finals and are therefore DONE with school until Spring Semester starts in January. Compared to last years finals these were fairly laid-back. There was some stress involved, but there always is. Out of my five classes, only one had a “normal” final- Chinese (C-119). There was a three page written exam and an oral portion where we had to answer questions, read a dialogue with a partner and then create a dialogue with a partner. I actually got to say “Oh yes, I have an allergy, I am allergic to studying!” in Chinese.

My web class (N-341) and Design Principles (N-280) both had group projects. I won’t go into the web one, because it was just too chaotic and I don’t feel like I really did that much to help. The N-280 final project was to design a themed deck of cards. My group picked Chinese take-out, which was a total joke at first, but we ended up going with it just because it was weird. My job was to design the face cards. I did the Queen first and then the King, Jack and Joker. I picked Red Pandas because I think they are quite under-appreciated and needed some love. Read more about them in the Artist’s Comments on dA. We got a 190/200 on it~ not bad.

My Intro to Digital Video (N-240)…ehh, I’ll get back to you on that one.

My last final (which was technically my first) was for Directed Study II (N299). It was a job shadow reflection paper, meaning of course that I went on a job shadow. Sort of. It was less of a job shadow and more of an informational interview, since we mostly sat around and talked about things. Myself and my classmates spoke with Steve Hodges, the Director of Electronic Media in the Offices of Communications and Marketing at IUPUI. He has won many awards for the creation of our school’s website (which is pretty awesome- I still LOVE that search bar). It was very interesting and informative and writing a paper for it wasn’t too hard.

Over the break I plan to work on assembling a portfolio site so that come Spring, I’ll have something to show for all my work in and outside of classes. I still need to find a good balance of my newfound love of design and my old love of drawing manga. I’m sure a few weeks away from classes will help with that. At least, I hope so! > w <

“Bloggage”

It’s the blog equivilant of “snackage”. I’m not sure exactly what it means, but I like the sound of it.

OK, well I feel somewhat guilty for not having blogged about anything since my last post of whiney introspection. Honestly, I’m doing better by way of health and such. I drink nutritional drinks everyday full of protein, vitamins and something that makes it sort of taste of chocolate. They are expensive, but keep me alive and alert. I also finally got my new glasses! They are 50% weaker- meaning I see 50% clearer than I did with my old glasses, which were too strong. I’m near-sighted and far-sighted, so I will be getting a second pair of glasses just for reading made out of my old frames. My new frames are super-snazzy though. I feel more creative just wearing them. They look like creative-person glasses. Whoo.

So, as for artsy-things, not much progress as far as inspiration. I made a painterly-esque CG portrait of Neo-Nana, a personification of my desktop PC, who I originally designed as a vector doll to practice my skills. I have yet to design her clothing, which will be a mix of Sweet Lolita Fashion and Cyber Punk. Lots of black, lots of lace, and LOTS of cute. It should be fun~ I haven’t designed such an in-depth character in a while. She also has three little sidekicks (her mice, since my computer has 3) but I haven’t made official designs for them as-of-yet.

Also, this year instead of making a usual wishlist or telling people to get me whatever, I threw together a quick Holiday page on my Google sites page that lists my favorite colors and things that I wouldn’t mind owning. I also included on the page a link to my Amazon wishlist, for people who prefer just working from that.

As for myself, this season I am making CUBECATS! Yes, Cubecats, my own little adorable creation. Cubecats are about 1″x1″ in size, white or blue (depending on whether they are tofu cubes or ice cubes) and have little ears and tails. I am making a large number of them out of white felt and a few larger ones out of off-white fleece. I’m not a great seamstress and I make a lot of time-consuming mistakes, but I still love working on them. And I hope people will like receiving them. For my far-away friends, I’ll be designing papercraft versions that resemble this one except there will be different versions and sizes. (And maybe some extras…hmmmn),

 

Changes?- Lifestyle

Trying to keep a personal blog more professional is really hard for me. Mostly because I babble a lot. Hopefully, out of the three whole people who read this, at least two of you don’t mind reading as I ramble on about how weird it is to be stuck between what feels like being an amateur and struggling to be a professional. Half the time I’m not even sure if what I’m doing is what I want to be doing. It’s all extremely confusing. Finding “myself as an artist” and all that cheese.

OK, so I have come upon an interesting discovery. Suddenly…I hate drawing manga. I hate drawing, in general, because manga is what I draw. Or, what I drew. I haven’t drawn a successful character design in about two months. I draw something, stare at it and then just hate it. Not because I don’t think I drew it well, I just hate the result of the style. And when I say “hate” I mean “ew, this is disgusting ball it up and throw it in the trash” hatred. Hatred the same way I hated the Vista GUI– no real, tangible reason, I just hated it. I’m jaded, I guess. It’s weird. In any case, I really can’t find a reason behind it no matter how deeply I think about it. Maybe it’s time for some serious introspection. Hey, that’s what this blog is for…

OK, so I’m not really sure from where to start. Do I focus on my own art progress and how it’s changing, my lifestyle and how it’s changing or my tastes and how they seem to be changing? I feel like all three of these things make some sort of circle of confusion that I’m somehow trapped in, artistically. My art progress is changing because my tastes are changing, my taste must be changing because my lifestyle has changed and my lifestyle may have possibly changed because my tastes and my art are changing. Yikes. I’m totally confused now. Perhaps I should start with the one I’m most familiar with: My Lifestyle.

My Lifestyle is pretty typical for a college student. I’m poor, out-of-work, busy with school and trying to keep a social life online and offline without losing too many hours of sleep. I don’t eat enough, but I need to eat more than I do. I struggle to keep my stomach full and my body functioning at around 80% at all times, though sometimes I drop into more of the 50’s or 60’s. I have multiple, non-life threatening, health problems that make my life somewhat complicated. Another circle of confusion. Acid reflux > Over-active metabolism > Hypoglycemia. I have a highly restricted diet, an inability to eat large amounts of food and a need to eat almost constantly. Add to that the fact that I’m a poor college student and you have a fairly good chance of me getting sick pretty often. (So far, so good, but it’s not even Winter yet.) Basically, besides the normal things most people my age have to deal with, I have a few extra things to keep me on my toes. I try not to worry over my health too much, but it is important. Most of my current lifestyle is based around keeping myself healthy. Eating as much as possible, as healthy as possible and as often as possible, and napping as much as I can without destroying my school schedule completely.

So, in short, my “new” current lifestyle doesn’t allow me a lot of free-time because whatever time I have that I’m not at school I’m eating or sleeping or trying to relax. Perhaps this is why I rarely do any artwork outside of what I need to get done for school? I’m not so sure, since I have plenty of time to sketch when I relax I just never feel the urge to do so anymore. I’d rather read or watch TV or organize something. Maybe I’m just tired of drawing? I’ve done it pretty much non-stop for 18 years. It used to be just as normal and necessary as breathing, but now it’s more of an annoyance. When I have to draw something for class it’s like “oh, I have a chance to learn something/test my skills/practice” but when it’s sketching for fun it’s like “eh, I really don’t feel like drawing anything”.

I’m getting sleepy writing this, which probably means I should eat, so I’ll save the rest of this for another entry.

TinierMe vs. GaiaOnline- Part 1 (updated)

Wow, it has been a year and people are apparently STILL referring to this for information. Well, I personally don’t use TM anymore (or Gaia Online for that matter) so I never bothered to update this article reflecting that, but I suppose I should now that it’s my most-commented-upon article.

This post is old and outdated and no longer reflects my current views on TinierMe. I personally think that now they are about equally bad.

___

Part One will focus on the differences in the website design- the first thing I noticed when I went to sign up for TinierMe suggested to me by a friend from highschool that I hang out with on deviantART and GaiaOnline. TinierMe is still in Open Beta and there isn’t much to do yet, but so far so good. It’s cute, fun and I love the interface. Here’s a comparison of the two “main profile” pages that appear for users when logged in and the two main pages that show up when a user reaches the site unregistered or before logged in. They show the best examples of layout.

(click to enlarge)

TinierMe’s site is cleaner and more minimalistic and modern. They picked a orange monochromatic scheme with light accents of green and gradients in greys and whites. It’s all very clean and well organized. My main page here includes a simple 3-column layout with a navigation bar to the far left, a space for links and content in the middle and my own personal panel to the far right. All of the major content sits neatly above the fold and it’s mostly text and small icons so it is not cluttered at all. The navigation panels on the left and right are consistent throughout the whole main portion of the site. It is, overall, a very nice, clean and well presented site that is easily navigated.

GaiaOnline’s site is packed with stuff. This page displays only the “My Gaia” page which shows my avatar, house, car and status on the left, and an RSS-type feed of information about my friends on Gaia, and other activities which I can set specifically to show by changing my Feed settings in the middle. My main navigation and avatar are located in the header at the top of every page. There are easily five or six different forms of navigation to be found, from drop-downs to links and tabs. Gaia Online recently updated the look of it’s user interface again to make it more, what I consider, Web 2.0-y. Things are rounded and shiny, but not at all what I would call clean and neat. There seems to be stuff everywhere and to a complete newbie this page alone would be a nightmare to navigate. Plus, GaiaOnline doesn’t seem to understand that all the best and most-used sites are going for the jell-o layout; none of that left-aligned crap that leaves 500 pixels of background pattern for me to stare at on the right.

TinierMe is still new and there aren’t any advertisements or promotions yet, so it’s bound to get more cluttered, but for now it’s very nice and impressive design-wise. Much more-so in my opinion than GaiaOnline, which is understandibly much larger and therefore more cluttered, but still, I would sacrifice a little content to regain simplicity, especially in the menus and navigation. Not to mention, Gaia doesn’t seem to have a color scheme anymore. I don’t know what happened, but for now I much prefer TinierMe to GaiaOnline. Opinions may change as the site evolves, we’ll see.