Notations on ‘zine possibilities and book design

I was just talking with my sister-in-law about possibilities for publishing ‘zines, as in making a ‘zine for Special Projects in Fall.  I’m pretty sure that I’m aiming for an art book or illustrated book, and as regards one of my concepts, she recommended I watch Max Headroom, particularly where it comes to the “Blanks.”

Out of all the formulae that I’ve gone through for possibly making a ‘zine, the most compelling is printing out pages and attaching them together with brads along one side.  This means I’ll have to put in a gutter, but it also means that the bleed area will actually look right, after it’s trimmed.

In reality, only the outer cover really needs to be larger than the page sizes, and that’s to protect the reader’s hands from papercuts.  In this case I can go anywhere from a ‘zine which is slightly less than 5.5″x8.5″ (if I did do four pages to a sheet) up to slightly less than 7″x8.5″, if I used Legal-sized paper.  Above this, and I could do up to an 8.5″x11″ art booklet with special paper for the cover (which would be 11″x17″, also a standard size, but which probably costs more).  I’m thinking that using brads is a more doable and flexible idea than going with staples, although depending on the size of the pages, I might have to use up to 5 brads to hold things steady when the pages are opened.

…and yes, I did just think of making the front cover smaller than the regular pages…

This could be a really awesome project.  I’m not entirely sure what it says about me when I get so much more involved with the design component of this than the content…I wonder if I should try and design books as versus writing or illustrating them.  (I am kind of coming at this “book” thing from a lot of different angles, aren’t I?)

I’m thinking that with the advent of digital media, the strength of print books as versus e-books is going to be related to their lack of being built to a grid, so to speak.  I only really took one or two Graphic Arts classes, but there seems to be some type of standardization that needs to be adhered to in order for e-books to be functional (let alone cross-platform), at this point.  Even then, they are currently in some respects inferior to print books, particularly where graphics are concerned.  Even with the best resolution, one’s viewing area is restricted by one’s screen size.  The screen can’t fold out to get bigger, even if its resolution is sharper than print.

I think the expense of design for books with graphics and graphic elements is such that people (at least on my platform) don’t want to specially design formats for e-books.  Or rather, there are either a lack of e-book designers, or people don’t want to pay e-book designers, in order to get a beautiful product.  I’m not certain about this because I have heard from more than one person that the company behind my e-reader is only concerned about money; so maybe on a different reader which uses different encoding, there are people putting in the effort to make a more top-notch product that will sell on the basis of quality alone.  It might exist, and I just don’t know about it because I didn’t get a third-party reader which can accept books from small independent bookstores and the like (yes, they do exist!).

There could be a really big and awesome jump made when e-books make the jump to being fully integrated multimedia (sound, animation, hypertext, interactivity, etc.), but we’re not at that point yet — at least, not so far as I know.  What I do heavily suspect is that we can bridge this off of the technology being developed in the video game industry, for instance with some of the touch screen and voice capabilities developed for the Nintendo DS Lite, or the internet connectivity developed for the DSi or XBox 360 (IIRC; I don’t have an XBox, and the price point is really steep).

If we are to make that jump, hopefully it will be using some type of software which is more stable than Flash.  Stability (and security) are probably going to be an issue until the technology matures.  Given the presence of a more watertight option than Flash that can still do everything Flash can, without slowdown or bugs or frequent incapacitating updates, I’m pretty sure we’d all make the jump.  I’m not sure if this exists with Macs now or not, though I’m pretty sure that I did hear that Steve Jobs hated Flash.

The issue with me as things stand now about Macs, is the price point and not wanting to give up the freedom to use Linux or other alternative operating systems, though of course I don’t use that freedom at present.  😉  I just don’t want to waste time and college credits learning Flash, especially as I don’t know if Flash skills will translate to whatever eventually replaces it.

Maybe I should cast myself as a multimedia/e-book designer?  I do like to plan things, a lot…not to mention there would probably be interest in a startup like the one I’m thinking of.


Weaving threads…

All right, there’s one more monstrous day at work, down.

I actually had enough time to make a lunch this morning…which kept me from spending an hour’s pay on the cafe.  (I did this because the last time I went there I ended up having to wait a full 20 minutes for a sandwich, because my order was botched the first time.)

I’ve been thinking about this employment thing.  It isn’t so bad when you have good rapport with the people you work with, and you trust them to save you.  It would actually be possible for me to get certification and become a Library Assistant, which is really just one level below Librarian — but that’s the highest one can go in my system without having a Library Science degree.

The problem with the Library Science degree is that either I have to go out of the area or I have to attend classes online-only, the latter of which I’ve found out I hate.  The online program I was in…well, I gained seven pounds out of stress, I can just say that.  The whole deal about seeing no one in person and having your candidacy dependent on how much other people help you (and whether or not your computer works) are not good things.

It would be possible to attend a program in person in Southern California or Hawaii, but both of those are very far away from where I’m at, even though they’re the closest programs (I am not planning on going to Oregon or Washington, and so the presence or lack of programs there has slipped my mind).  The problem with being out West is that we’re really lacking ALA-accredited Library Science programs, so the program I was in…shoved off a lot of work onto the students which probably should have been taken care of by a counselor.  (I still remember trying to plan out my three years of classes and matching what we were supposed to learn in each class with what criteria we were supposed to fulfill by the end…I really, really disliked that program, and not just because the learning platform changed every two years.)

The issue with moving, majorly, is my disability/care (I have a very good counselor at present, but helping me plan classes is not her job) and the question of where the money to support me is going to come from.  Presently, it’s sourced from family.  I think that it was just recently that I realized that an Art AA is not worth anything if, by the end of it, you still can’t make good art.  I am improving, but I find my motivation to be lacking when I’m not pushed to work, and when I define everything I’m doing by my own rules and strategies and timelines.  Because — often, those things are not defined in the first place!

Anyhow, I was doing some reading in You Majored In What? today, which was oddly enough, very comforting.  I made a connection on one of my maps that I hadn’t seen before, and that has to do with community.  Apparently I’m a really family- and community-oriented person, even though my family and community aren’t traditional or conservative.  (funny how that term “family” has become co-opted, yes?)  The problems occur when people don’t know how to behave in a community, or just will not behave appropriately.  And I don’t want to be the police officer.

The reason I’m revisiting this is that I know that I end up dreading going to work when I have to work the desk, but almost every day when I go there, it’s fine.  Issues arise when the public starts to abuse the staff, though that doesn’t happen every day — at least, not every day that I’m there.  I really can’t imagine a 40-hour workweek with that group of people; the idea is kind of scary.  And one of my co-workers, I really don’t envy her; I’ve seen her harassed by the same person every time she would come in.  Seriously, she doesn’t get paid enough for that.

But at this point I am looking at nonprofits…although I would wager a guess that most of them have the same issues as the Library in attracting some of the kinds of people one might not want to be around.  Why am I working at a library?  I value education, community, and knowledge.  I also value diversity, and oddly enough, spirituality is in there too.  Most of my power is sourced from having had to create community outside of what was existent, and having had to manage in-group/out-group relations, and to come to see people who are generally demonized, as human.

And, I’m coming to realize, it’s easier for me to read a lot and then write, than it is for me to draw.  It’s so freaking hard to draw.  And I mean, I know my drawings come out really nice.  It’s just that the process gone through to get to that end point can be more or less relaxing, and I tend to tighten up, and tightening up is my enemy and takes any pleasure that was in the drawing in the first place, out of it.  Once I get started, it can be really great to see this thing forming, but getting to the drawing table in the first place is the hard part.

Maybe I should do some blind-contour drawings, or something, just to break me out of that mode.  I know people generally think drawing is fun, but I asked M about this before, and she said, “people think that drawing is fun because they don’t do it.”  😛

I’m not even trying to capture the reality of a flower, you know?  I’m just trying to observe a flower so that I can abstract it, but there’s so much difficulty to just getting in front of the page and in front of the blossom and beginning to record anything.  What media?  What size?    Which paper?  Color or monochrome?  What level of detail?  What approach?

…It’s just not simple, though maybe I should forget doing anything realistic and just do something that is simple, for now.

My Painting professor did say that my self-portrait reminded her of Cubism…

One week into Summer vacation and I wonder what I’m doing with my life…

It’s that time again.

You know, that time when you go “WTH am I doing?”  One week into vacation and, well, at least all the reading for last semester is done (I finished the Art History readings earlier tonight), but it’s not quite the same without the community, and without assignments.

Fortunately — or not — I have to go to work tomorrow.  I have come to the recent realization, though, that my place of employment attracts a lot of Arts and Humanities people who really don’t want to be working there.  At this point, two of them — both in superior positions — have gone off on me (this is not including the other guy who shared my job title who was extremely stressed out and also mean).

I’m thinking that I don’t want to follow their example.

Given that.  I have only one more year to go before I will have completed an Art AA and it will likely be time to move on from this job.  I think I’m at the top of my pay scale for this position, and to be frank, the only reasons to stay in this system (where everyone is chronically undercompensated) is that it’s a steady paycheck and I get to be around sources of information — primarily books.  And, oh, right — I’m already here.  And as my counselor is fond of saying, “the devil you know is better than the devil you don’t know.”

I also have restarted reading You Majored in What?  Though, to be fair…I had to reread the first two chapters because I think the last time I used this workbook was a year or two ago.  This book in itself just blows the field wide open, and with that type of a vista it both gives hope that there is another job out there which is just as good as this one, if not better for me, but there’s also a dash of fear in there too.  It means that I’ll have to interview and scour ads and meet new people, and I don’t know where my skills will take me, and I don’t even know if the new job will be a good fit until I take it, meaning there’s probably going to be a period of instability which I’d expect to be a few months long, at minimum.

There…are two classes I can take after graduating with the AA.  One of them is Beginning Art Gallery Management.  The other is Artist as Citizen.  Both of these classes are basically internships, and Artist as Citizen can lead to a position in a nonprofit.  I’m thinking that if anyone asks me why I stayed at the library so long even after I found out that it didn’t align with my career goals…I’ll just say it was because of the flexible hours and having an excellent supervisor, because that’s essentially exactly what it is.  If either of those things had not been in place, I would have left a long time ago — probably after dropping out of the Library Science Master’s program.

With this in mind, there are a couple of things that will make this way easier on me.

  1. Getting my license (finally)…parents have set a deadline for me to drive by the end of the year, but I still need to renew my Learner’s Permit, and I have heard nothing from them on this since January or February.  Being able to drive (or, [!] having my own car) would really open up my employment options.
  2. Taking internships (though to be frank, this will probably be the next step after Art Gallery Management and/or Artist as Citizen).

The latter will be helped by my going back over the materials I used in order to gain a job the first time around (2009/2010).  My job duties…have considerably narrowed over time, though I’m not sure if this is because I decided not to become a Librarian (and so didn’t need the training), or if it’s just a staff turnover/evolution thing.

One of the things which I know does stress me, though, is having to deal with a continuous line of people I don’t know, some of whom attempt to insert themselves into my life.  Most of them are fine, good even; it’s the people who don’t listen when I say I don’t want to talk to them anymore who are the problems; the ones who attempt to force me to give them what they want, even though they’re not entitled to it and I refuse to give it to them…who then proceed to insult me in the hopes that that tack will work where bribery hasn’t.  (Specific incidence, anyone?)

What I can say here is that at least now I know I’m on the autism spectrum and that this is why dealing with people stresses me — because I don’t understand people in the same way others do.  So when some guy says to me “did you cut your hair again” every single time I see his face, that doesn’t necessarily mean he is telling me I shouldn’t cut my hair because he doesn’t like it when I do that and his desires override my comfort; it may mean that he’s attempting some form of human contact and believes that centering the conversation on my hair (because he has no information about who I am other than what he can see, and doesn’t know that my hair is a sensitive topic) is a good idea.

Given that, at least I know that I’m not after a customer service position, at least not so if I can help it.  I also know that I don’t want to be a secretary, because of the same issue, plus the sexual harassment issue.  The major problem is that basically, outside of alphanumeric organization and detail work, customer service is the majority of my job at the library.  The reason I’m getting out of the library is that I don’t want to take on even more customer service, in addition to a dead-end position.  I know that if I want to work at freelancing, I’ll need a steady job, but still — it doesn’t have to be that steady job.

But I have a year to think on this and come up with a good “out” for myself.  It just means work, and it probably means I should start now, with updating my resume, searching job boards, looking out for opportunities for informational interviews, getting the newest version of What Color is Your Parachute? etc.

brainstorming format ideas for ‘zine project

So if you take an 18″x24″ piece of paper and make it into a four-fold ‘zine, it ends up with the dimensions of 9″x6″?  This is just something I’d been curious about ever since we had a ‘zine workshop (well, two of them, actually — I skipped the repeat) at my college.  We did the same thing with an 8.5″x11″ piece of paper and ended up with something possibly too small to do much with…and then I remembered,

“I have giant paper!”


My aunt came over today and gave us a bunch of flowers, meaning I don’t have to go out and buy a bunch more of those things I have called tiger lilies which aren’t actually tiger lilies, in order to draw them.  This was nice, as I’d wanted to draw a bunch of them that we had before (apparently the florists have lots of blooms now), then found out they had been disposed of before I could even photograph them.  But…that’s kind of an aside.

In any case, I’ve been digging around online looking for the dimensions of a standard comic page.  I’m thinking of doing the 18″x24″ four-fold ‘zine thing for Special Projects in Drawing in Fall.  I’m also thinking of hand-stitching the pages, after taking large-scale scans of the images.

Normally, it seems, people would be working on 11″x17″ Bristol, trimmed to 11″x14″ (though — ha!  Layout and planning would all be prior to that!  It should also be possible to work from a digital document, especially if I was working with the three programs I think I’d need…which are in my notes from the Digital Printmaking lecture).  It should be possible to do that — one for each page — then scan them and have them printed at the appropriate size.  The biggest issue then would be page alignment; though maybe if I aligned the corners of the printed images, and creased down the center, then aligned the creases, then stapled — I could work around that.

If I start with 11″x14″, and I reduce it down to fit on (half of) 8.5″x14″ (a little less than 8.5″x7″, let’s just keep it simple), will that do what I want?  In that case, all I’d need to do a print run and assemble the thing, would be a long-arm stapler.  Or, materials to sew the thing together.  The tricky part would be making sure that the images line up on the front and back of the papers, given that there are four separate images on each sheet, and that I’m not sure if Xerox machines actually care where on the page they print.

This is not an issue with a four-fold ‘zine, as the format makes a kind of rigid grid to place the printed areas within.

If I did do the four-fold thing…there’s something about wasting an entire half-sheet of paper that I’m not entirely good with.  Though if I’m creative about it, I can utilize the backs of the pages to put in mystery material which won’t be visible until the comic is deconstructed.  😉  That in itself could be fun, though I think people would be kind of sad that they had to take it apart to access the hidden material, especially if it becomes more than eight pages long (necessitating multiple bound magazines [a “magazine” is a small cluster of pages]).

There is a printer I know of online which will enable self-publishing of comic-book format projects, but I’m not sure I entirely trust the process there, yet.  However, that would be the easiest way to self-publish, if I go the route of actually wanting to sell these.  I’m not to that point, yet, though; I haven’t even done a trial run, nor have I written a story, designed a world, or have more than a concept.  I suppose that is something I could work on.

The drawbacks to using four-fold format are the loss of being able to trim a bleed area, the ballooning out of the pages, and as I said before, the wasted space on the back of the paper.  But it is the simplest method, and probably the easiest for a newbie.  I could also archive this as well, if I printed multiples.

I suppose that regardless of any of this, I’m going to have to go into my graphics program and see how to actually print to a custom size.  I’m thinking that it shouldn’t be too hard to print to 18″x24″ at a print shop…but I should probably investigate.

feelin’ the need to read

Over the last three days I actually haven’t drawn or painted at all, largely because my time was taken up with other things (like earning money).  So today, when given the time to do something creative, like draw a pineapple (a real pineapple), I kind of balked.  (My prof from last semester said that to stay in the groove, it helps to draw something each day, even if it’s just a doodle.)  I still haven’t done it, but I did take some photos to work from, in case the pineapple gets cut before I can study it.

I’d forgotten that fruits, vegetables, and flowers are interesting things for me to work at — like the three mangoes I ate and didn’t think of drawing out at all, though of course now it is very evident that I could have.

It’s kind of crazy — I’ve got four days off in a row coming up ahead of me (!), and I don’t want to waste the time, but it’s really new not to be forced to do something, you know?  I mean, I know it is college and all, so I do get to study what I want, but I’m normally given predetermined assignments and deadlines to work at, within that framework.  To not have any guidelines or requirements at all always strikes me as new, and I generally end up wasting the first few weeks in adjustment.

So let’s see…as a continuation of last night’s post…I’ve been taking some slack back up in trying to relearn Japanese language.  I meant to pick up a book at the library which would help me where it comes to reading…but I didn’t take the time on my lunch break to get it, and I was too busy otherwise to take the trip out.  I can work with the books I already have, it’s just that really it would be nice to have a tutor like the ones I see in the library sometimes, working with the little kids who are speaking fluent Japanese with correct intonation.  🙂

I know that I seriously need to get back on learning katakana — I’ve lost most of it.  In addition, kanji are most of what mess me up these days where it comes to reading and writing.  I think the grammar is pretty embedded, so far as I’ve learned it (nan to iu hehe), but there are little things about the different kanji that trip me up (radicals which appear in one of two similar kanji but not the other), and I don’t even correctly identify said kanji as the correct character at times.  What is really annoying is trying to recall the spelling of a character from memory and writing it wrong (!)…over and over again, thinking it’s correct.  Not cool.

What I’m just going to have to do is read aloud to myself.  I hate doing it, but it’s the only way I’m going to remember how to talk.  Most of the time when I actually need to use Japanese anyway, it is spoken, not printed (as say, when I’m checking out with a cashier who is more comfortable with nihongo [Japanese language] than eigo [English language]).

So I suppose that I can jump back to Japanese for Busy People and my kanji books when I just really don’t know what to do — and neither cleaning the bathroom nor doing laundry will satisfy the void.  😉  I’m fairly certain that JfBP #2 and #3 are at my library, so I don’t even really have to worry about running out of study material and needing to visit Japantown anytime soon (though there is a closer bookstore I just thought of which might carry the series, as it’s generic enough).

I just have to make some sort of commitment.  The problem is what happens when school is back in and I’m back to 19 hours at my job.  I have taken to doodling out parts of sentences, with what vocabulary I can still remember, and maybe that will be a good part of trying to retain what I’ve learned.  Ultimately, what I want to do is be able to read and understand Japanese literature and nonfiction writing, though that’s a big step from where I’m at now — probably somewhat bridged by manga, where it comes to it.  I am getting back into anime, too, minorly, so there are some listening skills being exercised there.  It would just be nice if I knew where to find Japanese language tutors or teachers who aren’t based in the City.  Or, maybe I should engage the tutors I do see.

I had thought of checking out adult schools nearby, and also the gathering places for the Pure Land sects which are around here (Pure Land is the most popular branch of Buddhism, in my country).  The latter sometimes cross over with Japanese-American cultural centers, and do festivals for the turning of the seasons — which are the only reasons I know about them.

Anyway, I’m also hoping that learning written Japanese will help my art skills.  It’s not guaranteed, but calligraphy is considered the highest form of art in Japan.  (I’m thinking that my desire to be able to write in kanji or hanji is related to past-life influence, but that’s a faith thing.)

Speaking of Buddhism and calligraphy, I did pick up a couple of books which relate to spirituality.  One of them is fiction (I’m trying to get back into reading fiction), the other not.  I do still also have a number of unread books on my shelf which relate to Buddhism, which might be informative seeing as how I have taken the Triple Jewel, and have had a myriad of thoughts spurred off from that reading which aren’t limited to the reading.  I should get back to that, and meditating.  I’m supposed to be doing the latter for my health, anyway.

I also have a number of books on Daoism which should be at least informative in the way of giving a counterpoint to the Buddhism…though if I’ve learned anything about competing religions, it’s not to take either of them too seriously where they oppose each other.  (Buddhism and Daoism were at one time competing for followers in China, and borrowing/stealing each other’s ideas and claiming them as their own in the pursuit of laity.  That means that to this day, they sound a lot like each other.  I’ve seen this everywhere except where Buddhists say to take action against one’s learned habits in the pursuit of compassion, and Daoists say to flow with and not against one’s nature.)

And in regard to all which preceded in this post?  I’m feeling kind of Asian right now…?  It’s kind of funny when I’ve been in my art classes and others don’t suspect I have this perspective, until I start talking about it.  (My physical racialization doesn’t match my predominant cultural heritage.)  Particularly where it comes to the bodhisattva thing, my existence may confirm others in their beliefs, you know?  After all, if I am a bodhisattva (one who has committed to helping others reach their own enlightenments prior to entering Buddhahood)…I’ve basically committed myself to a series of hard lives, but with the support of my friends and family, in spirit and existing on the physical.  There’s nothing that says that all Buddhists must look unmistakably Asian, you know?

Nor is there anything which says that a passionate person can’t be Buddhist, or that I can’t be a Buddhist person if I have anger.  Well, maybe someone says the latter, but just because someone says that they’re Buddhist and I’m not, doesn’t mean I have to listen to them, either.  Because it doesn’t matter.  😉  That was a lesson that took a long time coming…

I wonder if at one time, I will feel all right with, or good about, wearing my vishva vajra again…I stopped wearing it because I was expressly not going with the Tibetan Buddhist stream at that time, and even though it was beautiful, I felt like I was using it to buy into an identity that wasn’t mine.  Basically, it’s like wearing a cross if you’re not Christian.  (…which I’ve experimented with as well when I was younger, but it meant little to nothing to me, and caused me to wonder what I was doing with it at all.  I wonder if I gave it away?)  The vishva vajra is a symbol of the power of compassion to cut through everything, so far as I’m aware (there is not a lot of extant literature that I’ve found on Tibetan Buddhist symbols), and also a protective symbol and mandala.

The hard part about buying Buddhist accoutrements is that on some level it can feel as though one is following a creed for the sake of having an identity, whereas in its best forms, Buddhism is about questioning everything and settling on one’s own conclusions — given as they are from the experiences of this number of muddled lives.  It also seems to be assumed, though, that eventually everyone may reach a similar conclusion.  And it’s hoped, at least in Mahayana (the Vehicle I align most closely with), that eventually everyone will reach awakening.

Though I wouldn’t say at this point that I am Buddhist, and in fact I’m thinking that saying that I am Buddhist negates my own practice of self-liberation, it’s tempting to buy an item and say “I am this” to try and evade that kind of feeling of not knowing who one is, you know?  (a.k.a. “buy an identity.”)  And the latter’s a core existential dilemma, so far as I’m aware (which capitalism would seek to claim to be able to solve).  As such, it’s something that needs to really be examined, not evaded.  If Shakyamuni were living now, I wonder what they would say about identity politics!

But I guess there’s true identity (for this lifetime; ultimate identity may be beyond my range at the moment, but so far as I know it is claimed to be the nature of enlightenment), and then there’s identity that one clings to in order to avoid the pain of not knowing who one actually is.  This life’s actual identity doesn’t come without a lot of self-questioning and, for me at least, deconstruction.  But the outcome of that process, for me, has meant that I haven’t had to take measures to, for example, change the way my body looks because it doesn’t look the same way as my spirit.  Something in me has nullified the dysphoria I used to feel.

I’m not sure if it’s really the case, but I am kind of blaming my lack of gender transition (I’m physiologically female, by the way) on my life experiences as a multiracial kid.  No matter what I do, others will not see who I am on the inside until they know me.  And for me, at least, it’s safer for me to be able to conceal and then reveal that to the right people, than it is for me to show everyone without hesitation.  On the inside, I am a really beautiful person.  My outside doesn’t match what I would look like if I were to be visually intelligible in the language of the media, or if I had an animated character design, but I don’t think anyone’s really does.  (and actually, I’d likely have more than one representation.)

The issues of sexism and racism and classism and ableism, etc…a lot of these stem from others just not seeing or recognizing who one is on the inside.  It would seem that instead, a lot of people just see the outside and match it up with a stereotype and say, “I know you,” but they really don’t, and because they don’t reach any farther, they don’t find out they’re wrong until they see enough evidence that differentiates you from the stereotype.  Upon which they are supremely happy, for who wants to be stuck in a world of stereotypes?

Or — and this is the sadder part — they see you as a stereotype, and because everyone sees you as the same stereotype, you begin thinking that you are that stereotype, and who you actually are gets buried under a lot of acting with the intent of reinforcing the stereotype and “claiming an identity.”  That was me from about 16-23 years of age.  But — the last decade has been a bit of a blossoming garden for me, so I’ve been able to grow in some ways that I can see some (most) others have not.

So yes.  I suppose I can look back at the texts — Buddhist, Daoist, Japanese language, Art History, spirituality, fiction.  And I can try and push myself to draw again.  What is a “failed” image other than one never attempted?  The third thing is that I can try and get back to writing one of these stories.

…I think I’ve written long enough.  An hour and a half, yes?  I wonder if WordPress will split this post into two pages.  😉

Brain dump…sorry everyone ;P

Yey.  Classes are out (!), and I think I did pretty well; I know for certain that I got A’s in two (out of three) classes.  Now what’s left to do is to figure out how I’m going to spend my free time.  There are a number of options…

First, I should probably finish reading the two chapters in my Art History text, on the Baroque period.  Pretty soon, that book is going away, and I’d rather try and fill in the gaps in my knowledge than leave a hole in the 1700’s.  There’s also my old Art History text from 2007 where I skipped over the Renaissance sections because they were disproportionately large and numerous compared to the chapters on the rest of the world.  I can get back to that…if for no other reason than that I’m learning art in a Western manner and it helps to know the background of what I’m being taught.

Writing!  Yes, I want to start writing fiction again, if for no other reason, to give myself a basis for illustration this Fall.  I’ll be taking Special Projects in Drawing, and I know I want to work on something integrating text and image.  I think a full-blown graphic novel is a bit beyond my level at the moment, but a ‘zine or an art book or an illustrated book is something else.  If I make my originals less than 8.5″x14″, I can also scan and reproduce it from here…though I should check out Kinko’s or something for large-bed scanners.  I’ll have to work in the margins and bleed areas as well…and maybe a camera would be better for this than a scanner, if I use something like 18″x24″ Bristol to do my art.  I mean, unless by chance, I happen to find a gigantic scanner.  😛

I suppose I can look at bookbinding instructions as well, though if I can find a long-arm stapler, that will take away the necessity of sewing the book(s) by hand, and the set-up costs of tools and supplies.  I know that places like Staples will allow the use of a guillotine for cutting off waste from the edges of the pages…

Yeah, I’m just going to have to look around for places which have resources I don’t, which will allow me to use them (probably for a fee).

I have a few ideas which I can make into stories…one is that pearl-diver thing that I’ve gone over before — the kind of psychological mythology/dreamy/vision-y thing — though I’m a bit less drawn to that one now that I’ve realized that I’ll have to illustrate underwater scenes.  It’s hard enough to draw things accurately outside of the ocean…and I haven’t been diving enough to know what it looks like, down there.

The second story I’ve been thinking of is some variant on there being a dystopian future where people have to take drugs to enable them to tolerate the conditions of their existence.  Those who won’t take drugs can’t cope and end up destitute and homeless…though they may be the only people with actual vision in the story.  The mass of people work toward ends which are not in their own interest and which serve the ruling class.  I’m not certain if that is the direct conflict in the story, though (class consciousness and uprising) or whether this is just the overarching dilemma that is the background to the actual story.

Oh, hey, I just got the Matrix reference.

The third story I’ve been thinking on has to do with the idea of the time between life and death.  I’ve been thinking on this, and it’s weird, but I keep coming back to Buddhist views on things, without really trying to.  I know I’ve mentioned the spirit thing before.  I have, in meditation prior, taken the Triple Jewel, so it’s not beyond the pale that I may be getting some help from something of which I don’t entirely have knowledge.  (I’m sorry, I’m just trying not to end my sentences with prepositions.)

But anyway, I’ve gotten this idea that life is like a dream, that when one dies they wake up and then start dreaming again, and that dream becomes a new life.  This kind of branches off of Pure Land Buddhist thought, that it’s said that whenever someone awakens and becomes a Buddha, they create a new Heaven.  This in turn has me thinking about…whether this world is a projection of the inner state of my own thoughts, if we are all already enlightened and just have yet to realize it.

That then also gets into solipsism, and the tangent that everyone and everything that exists, including myself, are Divine…but am I some kind of Divine mind looking out at itself and dreaming this world (which falls under a monist, All-Mind doctrine), or are you some kind of Divine mind reading my words and seeing in them a wakeup call to your own divinity, you know?

If I myself attain Buddhahood, does the world I dream become a Heaven, or is the solipsism a mistake?  I realize that one particular person said that solipsism was one of the cardinal sins, but a lot of stuff he said was diametrically opposed to anything canonical he found, whether it was right or wrong…and a lot of stuff he says is wrong is actually conducive to getting out of Existential hell.

I’m writing this here because I have to get this out somewhere.  The internet probably isn’t the greatest place to put it, but otherwise it stays with me.  If it stays with me and only me too long, it dies with me, and I don’t want that to happen — if for no other reason, than that if I’m reborn into this world I have to relearn this concept all over again, and it took me over 30 years to get to it this time.

Okay.  Gotta go.  But I’ll be back later to see if I can remember anything else which I really wanted to talk about…ah, right, there’s the nihongo tangent, and the “what do I draw or paint now” tangent, the latter of which can be solved with the Mother’s Day problem for now.

Looking back at the writing tangent…

I’m writing now because I haven’t written in a week (I just checked), and it’s getting to me.  The first two finals are out of the way and relatively well-done.  The third is coming up on Tuesday…this is the Figure Drawing final, which I haven’t started on yet because I was working on the prior two finals.  We have to draw a figure in perspective and in an environment.

Actually, my teacher wants us to turn in four separate things on Tuesday, but I’m cutting some @*#% out.  I’m really considering not bringing anything for either of the two potlucks that day, unless I’m not the one cooking them.  I’m also considering not turning in the copied drawings from our textbook.  Because — because why, you say?  Why Haru, why are you so frustrated?

Because this last assignment is worth 22.5% of my grade, while potluck *#@% is not worth anything.  The drawings from the textbook are not worth 22.5% of my grade either.  The final Powerpoint presentation comes second, after the frigging last assignment, and I’m not even sure that’s graded.  I need to pass this class to get my Foundation for Animation certificate, although at this point I don’t think I want to be an animator.  It’s just that I’ve applied, and all, and I try not to fail at anything.  Even community college classes.

The positive thing — well, there are two of them.

First, M found an art book which I thought had been sold, which shows images of poses I might be able to riff off of (while letting the teacher know I’m doing this, of course).

Second, after next Tuesday I have virtually nothing else to turn in besides, perhaps, photos of my work and my critiques.  One of those is almost ready to go — I have the raw materials for it.  The photos just need to be prepped and the work typed up.  The second won’t be possible to be done until after class on Tuesday, so there’s no use stressing about it, now.

I think that the wall I’d been coming up against as regards this final project has been that I’ve been thinking in terms of realism, not in broader terms of art.  So if I make the situation dreamlike or abstract, then yes I can do a figure in an environment, relatively easily (or at least two figures, is the actual assignment).  Will I do a figure in an environment in 4-point perspective like my teacher wants us to do?  Probably not.  But even getting a D is still a whole lot better than getting a 0.  And I probably shouldn’t worry about nailing 4-point perspective, as we’ve only been introduced to it within the last two weeks, and she didn’t really teach us much about how to do it; she only provided readings (the main one of which is dense in the sense of being idiosyncratic/cryptic and overly brief) and told us to copy images (same source).  And she gave us some web links.

The other thing I wanted to talk about is this writing thing.  I’ve decided to pick up a book on writing careers, as when I was pushed to craft an Artist Statement for my Painting class, I realized that mine was likely by far the best statement.  (This is even though I read it poorly because I was kind of ashamed of being deep, and because I read things quickly when I already know what they say.)  I attribute this to my Writing degree and practice.  In turn it is apparent that I do have other skills, and do not have to depend wholly on my art skills in order to make a living.

The major thing about this is that, well, I will need to read a lot more if I want to be a writer, but that is not hard.  It can be extremely frustrating, but it isn’t hard.  I spoke with my supervisor at my second job site about this today; she was saying that when one reads a lot of different authors, one gets insight into the minds of different people.  (This contrasts with my desire for realism in writing, which is something I need to get beyond, both in writing and art.)  I’m thinking that maybe, at this point, my avoidance of reading fiction stems from a screwed-up English education from English teachers who were noticeably conservative.  Hence, I got exposed to a lot of twisted minds (I don’t know how else to put it) in my readings, which were the stories that the conservative English teachers thought were worth our time.

The Creative Writing department was much more broad and less restrictive, but the English department…was Eurocentric and Christian in its focus.  If one wanted to read writing by authors who were not of European descent or Russian (I think there were two or so authors of African descent in there — probably Chinua Achebe and Ralph Ellison, both of whose required texts, I’d read before), one had to look in the Ethnic Studies department, and the literature classes there focused more on identity politics, history, and social phenomena than literary analysis.

So, maybe in the same way as the Creative Writing department discouraged me from writing creatively, the English department discouraged me from reading (by feeding me too much of the same kind of twisted propaganda that caused me to think that all writing — including my own — was twisted propaganda).

And it’s commonly accepted that we’re better off with a University education…only so if the professors are worth listening to (which depends on who’s hiring them), and you know which of their opinions to edit out of your brain.  Because of the location of my school, I’d been hoping that the English department would be a bit more metropolitan, but I guess not.

The flash did just come to me that if I’m into Art History enough, I can write books on Art History, and thus combine my artistic and verbal abilities…

Or I could write graphic novels instead of illustrating them.  I checked out a kid’s book today because I ran across it and it looked like the type of thing I’d want to do — it’s kind of a mashup of graphic novel and literary novel.  But do I really want to illustrate 150 pages of story?  Really?  I mean, the book is beautiful and everything, and I do like to have that kind of glowing visual component to my work.  This book is illustrated so well that I think even adults would buy it, just because it’s really pleasant to look at (and the story is a bit compelling).  But I don’t have to do everything — I could be paired with an artist who would do the illustration, leaving me to write the 400+ pages of script which would be condensed down into the 150 pages of illustrated story, you know?

400?  Psh.  I’ve done that before.  Not well (because my project management skills are awesome and MS Word is perfect for novel writing…not), but I’ve done it before…