Thinking on the possibilities of digital media.

I did some thinking last night on how I might possibly use translucent Layout and Marker papers, in conjunction with a program like Photoshop (hint:  “compositing”).  I think I may have stumbled onto their intended use, but I’m not sure.

In any case, I should still be able to utilize multiple layers in the creation of one image, even in hard copy (which is facilitated by the use of translucent papers), then scan them onto the computer, align them, and treat them as different “Layers” in the same image, prior to flattening.  This will enable different effects to be applied to each layer.  (I’m…attempting to remember my earlier Photoshop training, though we were never really taught this technique.)

In the course of writing this down, and remembering the trouble I had with the Hue/Saturation adjustments last night (namely, not remembering how additive color worked), I started to realize what I could be doing with the tools I have now.  I also started thinking about where it was that I wanted to be going with this.

I have a book that my sibling gave me, titled Design Basics Index.  At about 2 AM, I was flipping through this book, instead of sleeping.  What it showed me is that there are a lot of rules to graphic design that I haven’t considered (I think I took two Graphic Arts classes, but definitely no more than that), the internalization of which, I might want to leave up to a Graphic Designer.

What I’m thinking I would like to specialize in, is Digital Imaging, or possibly Digital Printmaking.  After I’ve completed the units for the Art AA, it could be useful to take classes out of the Multimedia department, specifically Contemporary Color, Illustrator I, Photoshop II, and InDesign I (a.k.a. Digital Printmaking I).  All of that is covered under the Digital Imaging series (save Photoshop II, which didn’t exist at the time my catalog came out).

This would be towards the goal of working on graphics and layout, hopefully for a small press.  However, it looks like I’d be more involved with the graphics, than anything.  (If I still wanted to do comics, InDesign would likely be invaluable; but then I started thinking about what else I could use those skills for.)

There are two extraneous courses I can see in the series I’m looking at…question is, how am I going to fit this into my schedule if I really do want to be a Clerk after Spring 2016; will I still want to do this at all; or does school take priority over money?

I could take on a Permanent Intermittent position and then drive all over the county to fill absences at the times I’m not in class, though that has a lot of drawbacks.  I could stay a Library Student Assistant for another year, though I really feel like I should be making more money than I do now, at my age.

Actually, now that I look back on the courses required for the Digital Imaging certificates…there are only three classes I’d need; four, if Digital Photography is counted.  If the art world is anything like I keep hearing, the strength of my portfolio would matter more than any degrees or certificates I’ve gained.

There’s also the possibility that I could teach myself all of this, though Contemporary Color is one of those things which might just be easier to be taught.  I already have a background in Photoshop and Illustrator, and I might be able to teach myself photography.  InDesign is really what I have no experience with.

I should probably see an Academic Advisor and possibly meet with one of the teachers I know of in the Multimedia department (the Digital Printmaking professor); possibly also the head of the Art department.  I’ve heard that it is nearly impossible to get a job in the Art field without having multimedia proficiencies.  If I could utilize strengths in Illustration, Digital Imaging, Writing, and Digital Printmaking, though, I should actually theoretically be able to produce my own multiples, whether that’s within the realm of comics or illustrated books — or helping others put together their own beading patterns, or making coloring books, or something.

Hmm.  Yeah, I should schedule some consultations.  I’ve only got two weeks before school restarts, though…

…And I should check and see how many of these courses are given at night.  This would much simplify things…


“Camo” color fusion…I need to do some research.

Since I’m going in so many different directions and don’t know, really, which is best — maybe I should just pick what I’m feeling “on” about, and go with it.

Based on a pattern by Carol Wilcox Wells, in _The Art and Elegance of Beadweaving_.
Based on a pattern by Carol Wilcox Wells, in _The Art and Elegance of Beadweaving_.

The photo above is a record of a bracelet I made a little over a year ago.

This is not the actual bracelet, as for that to work, I’d need to finish the ends and make or attach a clasp.  (I’ve found another practice version of this in my stash.)

Gold plate or gold fill would probably look good with this — gold plating would probably suffice, because the metal wouldn’t be worn in a piercing.

I generally don’t like to make toggle clasps with “beaded beads,” as I have a tendency to split seed beads (which beaded beads are made of) by reinforcing the toggle too much.  This is the reason I try not to use size 10 needles with size 11/0 seed beads…which are so much tinier now that I’m older.  When that happens, the toggle has to be scrapped.  It’s also possible to warp toggles by reinforcing them in a non-mindful way…but I haven’t been making these for a while.  (Toggles can get bulky, too, and they’re not always as secure as say, a lobster claw clasp attached to a soldered ring — which is visually cleaner; just more expensive.)

The main reason I photographed this was to record the color and luster combinations, as I found this particular combination of beads to be successful.  This is the “camo” color theme that I mentioned earlier, which I wanted to utilize in the necklace project that I started and then got scared to work on.  (Too many design possibilities makes it difficult for me to choose a path and go through with it, though I do suppose I can always take the thing apart and just be a little bit of thread less.  I hate the disarray that involves, though…)

The thread path used above is a variation of Chevron Stitch published in the book, The Art and Elegance of Beadweaving, © 2002 Carol Wilcox Wells.  I’m not sure if I altered it enough (and I did alter a lot in character, color, texture, visual pattern) to make this legally my own or not, especially as the Variations of this stitch in this section of the book are all extremely basic.  I’m thinking that they’re so basic as to not be owned as one person’s intellectual property — but don’t take that as legal advice.

I probably should check around for books on legality in handcrafts…though I’m thinking that the people targeted by copyright law would be large-scale firms actively exploiting small-scale artists’ designs, not micro-scale crafters making one-offs for family.

One of the reasons I got this book was that the author was good at showing how patterns could be altered for different effects, as versus giving one project “recipe” which involves little to no creative play in order to complete.  Many of these types of books will tell one how to make jewelry just like the pattern designer, but not teach one how to design on one’s own.

I hate this.  I hate, hate, hate this.  I would much rather be taught how to design than be provided with designs.  Teach me to fish, dang it.  It’s the same reason I don’t make my own clothes, because why would I make my own clothes if they’re going to end up like store-bought ones?

I’m not into beading so I can be the manufacturer of someone else’s designs.  This is not the point.  But this lack of legal clarity (and thus, clarity as to whether it’s ethical to sell beadwork in general, given that all of us had to learn somehow, and I doubt all of us learned without any help) is why I got out of beadweaving to begin with.

At the same time, I’m probably trying to construe a law to apply to my situation which was never meant to apply to me.

I should probably get ready for bed…

Distillation — no exact destination, but the direction is apparent.

No studying done today, but I have some developments on the idea of the track (or tracks) I might take forward as regards career directions, and what I need to do.

Regardless of what I do, I’m going to have to start looking at job postings again, sooner or later.  And I’m going to have to update my resume and get used to writing cover letters and interviewing again.  I also have done relatively nothing on the front of drafting a writing portfolio, which is necessary if I want to get a job in writing.

I’ve just got to find something I’m passionate enough about to pursue with academic rigor, regardless of a grade.  🙂  And…it probably shouldn’t be on gender identity, though for the right target market, that could be good.  Thing is, my life doesn’t revolve around gender identity and presentation in the same way as it did in my 20’s, which probably means I’m settling down.  After all, once you get to the point of realizing what your gender is, you can move on to discovering other aspects of being human, yes?

It should also likely relate to the field in which I’d wish to be hired.

In about a week, my scriptwriting class starts, so I will get a chance to see if I can weave stories without messing up my mind and life.  It is possible, after all, that those things just co-occurred, but didn’t have a strong causal relation (“correlation does not equal causation”).  If that goes well, then maybe it will give me some idea of what I can do as regards writing fiction — although, really, I’m not sure that’s a great way to pay the bills.  If it doesn’t go well, then I can pretty much stop worrying about making one or more literary or graphic novels.  I’m hoping that I’ll be given some kind of prompt to work with, but if I don’t, I’ll work on the bardo (space between lives) story I mentioned before.

For a business, though…I did take a business writing course, but without a reason to write, I’d have to make up some kind of scenario to respond to…which will probably be a bit…well, both difficult and also not worth much, because I’d be talking back and forth to myself in a situation I made up.  A cover letter to sell myself to an organization I’d like to work for might be a good one, though, and could be an edge in before anything else requested.  I had thought of using this blog as a record of my writing ability, but I’m not certain at this point that this is a good idea, given that I’ve talked about some not-positive aspects of life, here.

Also, there’s the wonky formatting thing that has stopped me from going back to edit postings, though largely the mistakes are just errors like forgetting to delete a word (though in all cases I’ve seen, it’s obvious that this is what has happened).  I’ve had the issue with the editor erasing some or all of my paragraph breaks when I’ve gone back and tried to edit/update something unrelated…so I became wary of trying to change things at all.

So…I have a year, yes, left until I can get my Art AA.  Right now I am kind of wondering if it is worth it, how I will fare after graduation, if it’s okay for me to be here if I am not strongly inclined to do it on my own anyway, if my heart is really in it or if I just like the feedback (no — I like seeing the thing grow and develop, I’m just scared to engage, and really scared to take it all the way.  That is, I like the outcome of the process, and the process scares me).

There is the option of going digital, though…there are so many digital art classes I could take that it’s kind of…bewildering?  Plus, there’s a kind of sleekness to art which is entirely done digitally that I find I don’t like.  The digital format, and I don’t say this to hurt anyone, but I’ve seen that it can cover carelessness or lack of skill.  The other option is to do things by hand — where errors are visible and the possibility of them ever-present — and then transfer them over to digital (raster or vector) format, which requires multiple skill sets, which is the reason we have a digital printmaking track.

There are four directions I could go in after completing the Art AA in a year.

  1. Graphic Arts/Graphic Design — a long program, followed by an apprenticeship.  I’ve been told that the AA alone is not enough to get a job in the field.
  2. Multimedia Arts — training could be short or long, it just depends on when I get hired — and I probably will get hired.  I might be able to enter a publishing company in Graphic Design with either this, or the above, given I learn InDesign or QuarkXPress.  I could also self-publish this way, or work in web design.
  3. Business — getting back into and deeper into Excel and Access, and using my creativity in a more abstract manner (to grow a business and affect the world, though I don’t want to supervise people, and am not a “people person,” plus Clerical work, as I’d be aiming for, is a pink-collar group with a glass ceiling.  I’d only do this as a second job to back up a primary creative calling).
  4. Book Illustration — though I’m not entirely certain now that I’m well-built for this.  I should know more in a year.  Plus, Multimedia Arts would also help with this.

I think it just depends on what direction I want to go — or what I really want to be doing, after I graduate.  Business would pay the bills and allow me the extra cash to pursue my beading, though…I just got back into this last night, and it’s just a hobby.  It’s very enjoyable, and people do like my work.  But I can’t make money at this full-time; I’d constantly be struggling to make ends meet, and possibly getting into lawsuits over copyright.

(Seriously, what qualifies as intellectual property in the field of handcrafts?  I have made my own patterns, and I know that I wouldn’t want anyone to rip anything idiosyncratic that I designed off from me, but there are other things — basic patterns like peyote stitch or, to get more complicated, St. Petersburg Chain or tri-chain — which fall more or less in the grey area between public domain and personal innovation…of course, you could say peyote stitch was ripped off too [from indigenous communities]…I’m just not sure where the line is between safe and not-safe, or if it’s all not-safe and people just do it anyway.  A reason why I migrated to macrame, but the problem is still there.  Does anyone own the knots?  [Though I suppose that is like saying “does anyone own the words?”])

I just recognized this place I’m in now.  It’s a place of having insufficient information to make a decision.  This is the kind of thing I used to deal with which I would spin stories around in an attempt to rid myself of the uncertainty.  But, there is one thing I have learned here which might save me some grief and some missteps:  I can’t force myself to know what I don’t know.

The fear I’ve had, in looking at jobs now, is that I might be offered a job and then have to choose between taking the job and staying in school.  I can probably finish the degree at a later time, but it will be with different faculty, and some classes might not exist anymore.  In a worst-case scenario, the program(s) will be disbanded before I can get my degree(s), or my skills will become obsolete before I can be hired.

What I can see is that I want to work in some way in the Publishing industry, whether that’s as a graphic designer, an illustrator, or an author.  I probably don’t want to be an editor, because even though I can edit, I don’t like to tell people things they don’t want to hear.  I understand job growth within Publishing is very likely shrinking due to the Internet, but as I said in an earlier post, that doesn’t mean that digital is always superior.

Hey, at least I came to some kind of conclusion tonight…

This begins with trying to organize my supplies, and ends with a brainstorm on my future career.

Yesterday I ended up being called in to work to cover for someone, so I really didn’t get that sweet “5 days off in a row” thing.  I spent most of today recovering in bed.  I have been doing work in that You Majored in What? book, which got me back to thinking about whether I should be looking realistically at being a jeweler (or “handcrafter”, possibly, I think it’s splitting hairs, but I tend to work in non-precious materials)…

I’ve wanted to start an MS Access database on what beads I have, in which colors/shapes/sizes/materials, and where I’ve left them…along with my cords and threads, too, though the needles can probably just all go in an envelope.  😉

I actually have a need to do this, because presently my beads and threads (not to mention my tools) are all scattered into project boxes and drawers in color-coordinated brainstorm sets, so I don’t know what I have.  Unfortunately, I took my Access classes a very long time ago, and so I don’t clearly recall how that program works.

One of the things I was doing the other day was looking at shelving units, because…I’m just feeling disorganized.

At first, the goal of this was to get all of my beading and jewelry books off of my altar table — presently, if one of them gets pushed over, it will push a box off of the edge of the table (one of my bookends) because there are so many heavy books standing there.  What’s in the box is delicate (particularly the crystals like my Aragonite and Fluorite, which aren’t really precious stones and nor are they made to stay in one piece), and so I really don’t want this to happen.  The books, in turn, are the books that I’d actually want to refer back to if I did go into beadwork and/or silversmithing, which is why they’ve been separated out.  Of course most of these are what I call “recipe books,” but you don’t really learn how to make your own dinners until you first can follow the directions of someone who knows how to cook.

Clearing off the altar table would mean that I could use it for other things — like beadwork.  For me, looking at the collection of titles on my table kind of recaps my actual interests, at least prior to actually doing the work…wirework, knotting, weaving, embroidery.  (I got into silversmithing for a couple of semesters and have a couple of books on it, but along with the elitism showed towards beaders, the class itself was hazardous [in some ways, unnecessarily so].)  It’s actually better for me to do beadwork closer to the floor and on top of a carpet — this way, tiny dishes of spilled beads don’t scatter and bounce and roll away in a 15 foot radius.  Like they do on linoleum.

The worst that can really happen from a bead spill over a carpet is that some of the beads get lost in the carpet, then break from being shot up into the vacuum by the vacuum cleaner’s beater bar, and then shoot through the vacuum bag like little BBs that are razor-sharp on one edge, and dust starts to fly everywhere.  It’s happened before.  The nice thing, though, is that they usually don’t do this, and haven’t done this in years, so maybe it was just a particular vacuum cleaner that had that problem.

It’s really much worse to lose a needle or pin in a carpet, though those can usually be retrieved with a strong magnet, if they haven’t worked their way into the carpet’s foundation.

So anyhow, I’ve been looking at storage solutions — initially for books, but then I started trying to figure out what else I could move, if I moved the books to the bookshelves and moved the stuff I’m not interested in, out of here.  Particularly, a lot of the occult stuff can go (like the tarot cards and books I still don’t know or really give a hoot how to use), but maybe I’d keep the knitting, crochet, and sewing books in here for topicality.

I think I kind of have a problem in that I keep looking at ways to earn money or spend time which would be OK if I were married to someone who was financially supporting me, and I had a lot of spare time on my hands.  But…that’s not entirely the case.  I’m being supported by family, yes, but the question arises of what I’d do if I never married or had a long-term partner.  This has come up before, but maybe it takes more than one partner to declare oneself asexual, yes?  (At the same time, I don’t want to marry someone just for money, because it would be nothing but hell.)

Anyhow, I realized earlier tonight while trying to take stock that even if I did separate out my art and beading materials from each other, I still have way too much beading stuff to move the whole of it to anyplace near the altar table.  The room is just not big enough.  What remains, that I could move, are the 2-D art supplies and finished artwork (I thought I could make more money at art than at beading — psh), but most of those things are packed away in some kind of order.  What is in disarray are all the freakin’ project beginnings that are scattered everywhere, which I left myself some time to think on and then forgot about.

I know that even if one is a silversmith, it’s often hard to make ends meet just by making jewelry.  It would still be difficult as a craft jeweler, at least so if one didn’t go the publishing route to make a pattern book, or work for a niche magazine.

I do have one pair of earrings that I made via my own method, though I am not certain I would even remember how to make them, again!  What I know is that they’re in a drawer waiting for the threads to be cut off of them — I never did so, because I used FireLine for the thread, and FireLine is notorious for not holding knots well.  At least the sculptural part is not carrying a heavy load, though.  What I can and should do is either clip the threads very close, or cauterize the ends with my thread burner.  I’ve just been too scared to do it.

But anyway, I’d probably need a second job just for financial stability.  If I did go this route, I should complete the Business degree at my college (I’m well into it), so that I have a chance of doing this right.  When I brought the possibility of making a living at jewelry up tonight at dinner, D said that he had a coworker who had a web presence and used actual jewels, and didn’t sell much.  This was kind of a letdown.

Later I asked him if she had gone through any marketing or promotional efforts other than just having a webpage, and all he could say was that her webpage was connected to Facebook and promoted to her Friends.  So, maybe, because of my Business background, I actually have more tools at my disposal which will enable me to be more successful than said person.  It’s also possible that I’ll be able to leverage the Business and Writing training for a position within a larger business, and then do my own small business stuff on the side.

If I do this though — I’d want to get back into math, and re-learn how to use Access, for example, and further my Excel and PowerPoint training.  I already have some Communications ability from having had to present in that one Comm class just recently…so I know how to do public speaking decently, now (or, at least, better than a lot of people, though my last presentation in Comm had the problem of “too many slides”).

My goal is to end up doing something for a job which I’d want to do anyway, so it won’t feel so much like “a job.”  I know that 2-D art still feels like “a job,” but playing with beads does not.  And if I ran my own small business, I can use what I learn there for a position within a larger organization.  They can’t all be bad…

Gender, clothes, and jewelry

There has been a new dress code statement issued at my job.  Because of this, and because I’m now a little larger than I was a year ago, I’ve needed to replace some clothes.  (I think they’ve all been washed by now.)

Luckily, there is nothing in the new dress code about gender congruence in the clothing in which we’d need to present.  I’m fairly certain at this point that I’m gender-fluid, but that I don’t present in extremely feminine clothes at work, because the reactions of men when I wear that gear make me uncomfortable.  My uncomfortability when presenting femininely is not based in myself.  My uncomfortability is based in the responses of others, and that in itself makes me a poor candidate for gender reassignment.

And hey!  I can say that now, because I’m pretty certain it’s true, now.  I’m no longer giving up benefits that I might want or need.  If I ever did start to live — chemically — as male, I’m fairly certain that I wouldn’t be upset at being a late transitioner.  (In this I’m thinking about Aaron Devor, who was one of the writers who influenced me when I thought I might have been TG.)

As regards work, I also don’t want to have to fight in heels.  I did discover today that a flared skirt doesn’t restrict movement like some of my other skirts, and so if I were to wear a short skirt to work, the flare is better for ease of self-defense.

I also now officially own two dresses.  🙂  And I now know what I’d say to people when they mistakenly assume that I identify as a woman…especially now that I know that there are two definitions of “woman”:

  1. a female person
  2. a person who identifies with a gender normally associated with cis and trans females (but not trans males)

I fit the first, but not the second.  My psychological identifications cross the lines of apparent sex.  What I can do if I see that people are assuming that I fit #2 above (like when they start talking to me about Amazons, like I care) is point out that because of my sex, a lot of people assume a lot of things about me which are so off-base, that it’s best not to rely on them at all.  I don’t have to mention any of the keywords which may apply.

And because of not boxing myself into either a cis- or trans-normative dialogue, I’m free to do and wear what I want, regardless of worrying about what gender I’m being seen as.  This may not be so clear after I get a blazer and tie, which I really want to do as well, but I’m planning on keeping my grooming “clean” for work (I think it’s expected), and so it may still be apparent in restrooms that I’m not physically male.

Or I could just talk.  😛

What’s coming more apparently to me these days, though, is that my mind is slightly masculinized, and so is my body (naturally so — my ovaries were previously producing too much testosterone), so dealing with things like the acne and the hair in male places could be a metaphor to help me deal with my mind.

I did find this one really cute awesome jacket the other day which hid both my belly and chest, but it was $60 and had to be dry-cleaned.  And it was linen, so of course as the first person who tried it on, I crinkled up the sleeves, and they would have needed a press cloth to iron back out again, and I couldn’t have worn it to work because my job is physical and dirty, and I was like, “you know what?  Forget this.  I was into it before ‘dry clean only.'”  Would it have been so hard to make it out of something which could have been washed?

I just didn’t want it quite that badly, plus I couldn’t have worn it either to work or to the studio.  All of my school days next semester include studio art classes, and M let me know the jacket was too casual for a job interview, so I was like “where am I going to be able to wear this?”  It’s not like I go out on the town or anything.  I mean, if I were going on dates, sure.  But I’m not, and nor am I really pushing myself to do so, or expecting to do so (though…the option has arisen, recently).  Funny how that didn’t even enter my mind…

I did, however, get a shirt which will be relatively good with a tie — after finding out that the one I initially wanted (bright teal Supima cotton) was $30 instead of $17 (oops).  I did give away the tie D gifted to me a number of years ago, as it wasn’t really “me.”  It was nice to practice with, and to take my first terrified steps into public with, but after a few years bumping around in my closet, it was pretty certain that I wasn’t too attached to it and that I probably wouldn’t wear it — especially not after it got dusty.  Pinstripe grey just didn’t say much to me — other than “Dad supports me” — but Dad’s still here, and he’ll help me buy a better tie next time.  😉  I guess I could have kept it for sentimental purposes, but really, I wasn’t going to wear it again.

I do look really dapper in a shirt and jacket, though — even out of the Womens’ department.  Right now I’m on the lookout for a good blazer, since I now have a shirt which has a collar close enough to wear with a tie.  And then there’s the awesome Mandarin-collar shirt I found, which is really cool.  I’m not sure how that one will work with a jacket, but I think it will work with a casual one.

M also talked to me about not wanting to pressure me to buy Womens’ clothing (I didn’t feel pressure, not from her, at least), but after having cross-dressed for about two decades (I wore my brother’s and dad’s old clothes in my youth), I’m kind of tired of my clothes not fitting.  Right image, but won’t button over the hips, or pulls down when I squat…  This is the reason I went for “Womens'” clothing this time around, in addition to the fact that they’re just clothes, and that I’m recognizing at this point to what extent large corporations (which, I would think, would be run or highly influenced by conservative men) determine what clothes the populace will wear, and what’s appropriate clothing and marketing for “men” and “women” — a reason why XS clothing appears in Womens’ and M is the smallest size often found in Mens’, regardless of the fact that large women and small men exist.

And yeah, I’m…thinking that I’m an indigo or pewter kind of guy, navy if it came down to it.  I’ve worn black for so long that I really do think I’d like to break out of that, especially where it comes to jackets, and I would really like natural fibers.  That is, I don’t want another of those slick plastic-feeling black jackets that you get for job interviews when you don’t have money.  Black is nice for combat boots and dance clubs (I used to have a black halter top which was really cool…until it began to biodegrade like the Junior’s top it was), but where it comes to…something as principally impactful as a dress jacket, there are so many other possibilities.  Maybe black just feels too generic to me, now.  I’m not sure.

With more gender-variant material on the market, too, there is more diversity in Womens’ clothing, so I may not have to go for a Mens’ jacket and deal with the poor fit or get radical alterations for my hips and waist.

Otherwise, in my life…I’m thinking about rearranging my freakin’ books and my art and beading supplies.  I’m not sure at this point what will go where, but today as I was getting dressed and putting on more than basic jewelry for the first time in months ([!] due to realizing I’m genderfluid and not just exhibiting denial of being TG), I found a couple of bracelets I’d made out of seed beads and cord.  The one I wore was actually really nice…it made me think that maybe I should get back into the jewelry-making again.  (I stopped, partially, because I know being a non-commercial jeweler is a hard path — it’s hard to make money at it.)

This is especially as, during the last two phases of one of my career-planning assistants, I repeatedly received “Jeweler” as my top hit (where it came to careers I was suited to).  I wasn’t even aiming for that, seriously.

I make “craft jewelry”; the two pieces which really stood out to me were macrame bands which I had made via my own pattern, which in turn I found out by screwing around with beads and cord.  The same thing has happened to me there which happened to me with weight training, though:  I get into it, I get really good at it, and then I start wondering why I’m doing it or what the benefits will be, and I freeze up and stop.

Particularly with the macrame…I’d have to make really nice stuff (which I have) in order to stay in business, and I would not be able to get away with underselling myself.  Most of the cost of a bracelet like the one I wore would be charged for labor.  Granted, I did use really nice materials — including raku and borosilicate glass.  And I obtained the bits, coordinated them, and I knotted them together by hand.  That…that might be worth $30-$40?

This is probably the least I’d need to compensate myself for my time and expenditures (profit would be put back into the business), though I’m sure there’s some way to make it faster and easier that I just haven’t tried yet (like threading on all the beads first).  But seriously, I looked at this little gem and I’m all like, “I was really doing some nice work,” and “yes, I would pay $45 for this, if I found it somewhere, because I’d never find it again.”  The question that stopped me before was whether I wanted to produce something which is primarily centered around beauty and femininity.

I mean, it’s like, how do you sell that, you know?  It’s not like you can tell people “this will make that handsome guy notice you,” because that’s not a guarantee, even if it is a hope.  And then what about people who are not traditionally heterosexual women, you know?  Genderqueer or transgendered people or other people who were assigned male and want to be beautiful?  Bisexual and lesbian women?  I can help; I certainly can.  The question is what am I actually doing?  What am I doing and why am I doing it, and what is my drive?

Essentially I used to believe that I was doing it because I wanted to experience everything good as a person who was assumed to be a woman (and thus granted permission to be feminine), as I could.  Then I assumed that I was doing it out of a desperate drive to find anything about being female that I liked.  But maybe that wasn’t the right story, you know?  I’ve mentioned at work that the drive to weave stories out of partial information will really screw you up if you can’t turn it off, which is the primary reason I stopped writing stories.

But maybe I actually am feminine, at least some of the time, and I like it and I want to spread my like of it, and assist others who haven’t had the same training, or who haven’t developed the same skills, you know?

Would I be a craft jeweler?  Or would I be an art jeweler who just works in craft materials?

In any case, I’m sure this will be fertile ground for a series of posts — right now, though, I should really get some sleep…

P.S.:  And oh right!  I almost forgot.  I need to get a cup bur so that I can smooth 18g earwires, so that I can make feminine jewelry and wear it, and not have my piercings close up because of the gauge of the wire being smaller than the gauge of my piercing.

This is probably an untapped market, as well…I can go up to 14g, but it takes at least two months to get to the point where I know for certain that I can do that and not tear my piercing.  Taking the jewelry out early and wearing a smaller wire allows the piercing to partially close, so it isn’t ideal to wear both standard and large-gauge jewelry at the same time.

Good, good.  I’ll have stuff to think on for tomorrow — and note to self, the computer room is probably better for beading than for art!

See you on the flip side —
— Haru

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.

On multimedia books

I’ve been using an e-reader to view new books.  It’s very convenient…it also brings to mind the possibilities of reading when one can, say, hyperlink to a different point in the book.  This has got to be one of the best things about having an e-reader — in addition to having the dictionary capability (easy lookup of unknown diction has the capacity to greatly influence literacy rates for the better).

Recently I downloaded a book on colored pencil art.  It has these hyperlinks within the text, kind of netting the book together.  That couldn’t have been in the paper version.  This means that the copy I downloaded was especially made for my reader — it wasn’t simply transcribed.  Another benefit that did surprise me, though…is that the images in my e-reader are sharper than the images in the printed book.  This is as though they used hi-res photographs that were not in the paper version.

I did look inside a print version of the book I’d downloaded, soon after I downloaded it.  There must have been some kind of feathering of ink on the page or something…I do have an HD display, but still.  I wouldn’t expect the photos in the digital copy to be higher quality (better color saturation, crisper delineations, even possibly larger size, though I didn’t directly compare) than in the print one!  In comparison, the print book has muddy colors, and the colors kind of mash together and make the image relatively blurry.  I’m not sure how much the backlit display on my reader is contributing to the clearer image, though.

I also found a sample comic to view on the e-reader.  I’m not sure this is wholly preferable, because I don’t have a tablet which accommodates a full-sized comic page.  This means that the images are smaller and the text can be hard to read.  But tapping on an image will magnify it; swiping will lead to the (chronologically) next image, magnified.

All of that to say, I’m curious to see where technology is headed, where it comes to interactivity, at the very least.  A giant dissuading influence which has kept me online and not reading paper books is the interactive nature of electronic media.  Most print books don’t have this.  But it’s why, in the past, I’ve played video games or gone online rather than watching TV or movies.  I don’t like being a passive observer — which the margins of the books I have read, can attest to.

Sometimes I can be reading things I don’t agree with and have a retort every two or three sentences (or every sentence, in the worst case I can think of).  It’s really hard to put up with — I almost feel like I need line numbers and a notebook next to me so I can argue at length against the text line for line, or insert thoughts that came up because of it.

In any case, an e-reader platform makes it so that — it would seem — maybe it will cost less to create books in color.  I’m not sure, because comic books and non-literary magazines and the like do take up a lot of memory because of their graphic nature.  Plus, one has to pay the artists.  But color printing seems really relatively expensive as compared to a book which is all black and white.  (I have had the chance to see offset color printers, which leads me to that conclusion.)

And then there’s the question of whether interactive books will still be books, as versus, I don’t know, something closer to a Web site.  Maybe there would even be social media functionality in there, which is something that I would like to do if I ever got into Web Programming…then that blends over into an experience which is multimedia, interactive, and social.  In that case, reading may no longer be an isolating experience, and it may no longer be passive.

I don’t know, it just got me thinking.  Kind of like I’ve been thinking about technical applications for skill in Animation.  I’m still not sure, given the above vision, what skills I’d need to make headway on it…nor am I sure that my best idea would be to gain the skills myself, more than start up a small company (or join a small company) and hire programmers, writers, artists, user interface specialists, etc.  If I wanted to do that…well, then, I’d need someone to manage the thing, wouldn’t I?  Would it have to be me?

It shifts me back into Business (as an entrepreneur), and Web Programming, when I’m trained as a writer and have been intending on illustration as a vocation.  I really think I’d be better off approaching an established corporation with this, though.  And it’s probably not a new idea…

I should probably try and get some sleep.