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www.pixelfish.portfoliobox.me/ - This is my new work portfolio. It's primarily for my UI work for video games, but there's still an illustration section. :)
I know many of my Canadian friends have done their part over the years whenever disaster has struck in the US. I was there during 9-11 and saw firsthand how generous Canadians can be when their southern neighbour has needed their help. So I'm asking you now to take a few minutes to see if there's something you can give to the people of Southern Alberta, who have just been hit with what is possibly the most devastating flood of their lifetime. Over 100K people have been displaced and many homes have been lost. The flooding has struck at small towns (Canmore, High River, Medicine Hat) and large cities (Calgary's neighbourhoods and downtown were flooded.)

Also, this is kind of personal to me, as this is my Canadian hometown. It's like if San Francisco suffered an earthquake or when the Boston marathon got bombed. This is a place I've lived, a place which made me the person I am today. And it's the place where many of my friends (Joel, Kim, Crystal, Adam, Chad, Mike, Kyle, Mel, Meredith, Ian, Ielle, Jonnay, Shell, Travis, Dieter, Ronya, Lorelei (okay, Lethbridge counts), and many others (sorry if I missed you) people who have been good to me live or have lived. It's a good place, and they deserve your help. Thank you.

secure.redcross.ca/registrant/…

Tonight I had an epic adventure. I went to the Target downtown looking for the camera I want, which they had for 150 less than Amazon, but only for today. They were out. They told me the Target in Colma had one and the Target in Serramonte had two. So I went to Colma. No luck. Walked to Serramonte, found out that when Target says it has one at a store (UPC in system), they mean the display model which they will not sell you. (Would have been nice to know this two Targets ago.) Ran (and I mean, literally, RAN, as in on my feet) all over suburbia.

Suburbia is scary btw. The sidewalks run out for no reason. They don't warn you, they just stop. On a dark road, with no shoulder, a four foot tall hedge to your right, and no indication of sidewalk to connect to on the far side. I ran for a quarter of a mile, looking over my shoulder, ready to jump into a hedge should any car come barrelling down my lane. (You may ask how I got there, and I got there by taxi. But I was not being got back thither since my phone stopped working.)

After hauling ass all over Colma and Daly City ON FOOT IN THE DARK IN THE POURING RAIN, I made the discovery that the Best Buy in San Francisco, a mere hop and a skip from the 16th Street Bart station had the same camera for the same sale price. And yes, only for today. I skibbled like mad for the BART, got downtown, and lo, the Best Buy had closed. But John was able to order the camera over the interwebs AND have it for me to pick up in the store tomorrow.

I should feel a little silly for having hauled ass for nothing...but actually I ended up feeling mighty, as I faced the elements and ran through the storm. I mean, I got three miles in, flirted with danger, and made it back to the city safely. And whee for the exercise. I didn't feel winded or broken. Plus the storm made it easy to run around without overheating. This always warm super power has to be good for something.
So my husband was asking me what I want for Xmas and I said I would like a camera of my own (so I don't have to steal his all the time). If we were to get a dSLR, what should we get and why?
I'd been to the California Academy of Sciences SO MUCH recently that I might possibly have been ignoring other museums.  Went to the Conservatory of Flowers today instead of the science museum. Yesterday I went to the MOMA with some of the Pharyngula Horde and exercised my pareidolia. We saw an exhibit of Jay Defeo, some Jasper Johns, and various other works.

I have some thoughts about pareidolia, art, religious impulses...but I think I need some more time to get them out.

The Conservatory of Flowers was something I'd wanted to revisit for a while. They have a lot of orchids, I know, and since my Paphiopedilum lowii had disappeared (read: withered/died/been removed) from the orchid wall at the rainforest dome, I thought I would see what the Conservatory had. They DO NOT have my p. lowii, but they had lots of other alien-looking lovelies that I hope to sketch and paint later. I shall go back during Turkey Weekend, I think.
Whyyyyyy am I so bad at updating this?

In an effort to enjoy the hell out of San Francisco, I've been going to the Academy of Sciences on the weekend and sketching there and in the Strybing Arboretum. So I've been posting those sketches to my Flickr account under my 2012 art folder: www.flickr.com/photos/pixelfis…

I tend to only post finished art to DeviantArt, or stuff I feel is relatively more polished. But if you were worried that I hadn't been making art at all, rest assured, that is not the case.
So I'm tired of doing weird little freelance things based on "somebody asked me and I felt flattered." I'm tired of doing favours for friends and relatives (although I still love you, friends and relatives!) And I'm tired of underpricing not just my art, but my time. So I'm looking into setting up as a Real Official Freelance Monkey as opposed to Half-Assed Freelancer. The straw is: I want to price my time out and have it be worth it to me. I get passionate about an idea briefly, and then it flames out, and becomes a chore, and then BLECH! I find I'm in a project with a friend or a friend of a friend and I don't want to burn bridges, but man, this piece of work has burnt me out. Plus....contracts provide that level of accountability and Get It Done-ness that I sometimes lack when approaching projects "just for fun."

That said, I've been looking up all sorts of fun things re: the business side of art. I've long avoided this under the delusion that I just don't have a head for business. But as I've started looking into things, my brain is getting a more solid notion of what it means to be a freelancer. And I'm starting to think: I could do this! I really could. I just need to not let the "what am I worth? Oh, but this is for a friend or a friend of a friend...." thing swamp my emotional bits.

Thus, here are some links I've found:

One Deviant's Info on pricing: news.deviantart.com/article/12…

Contract Glossary: www.graphicartistsguild.org/re…
Letter of Agreement: www.graphicartistsguild.org/re…
(Here's some information on what rights you want to make available, what

Mistakes a Freelancer Makes: freelancefolder.com/13-serious…

Wizard of the Coasts' Art Director Discusses Kill Fees: artorder.blogspot.com/2010/09/… fees are the thing that keep you as an artist from getting screwed over if they cancel a project on you.)

Dan Dos Santos offers up information on how he makes his invoices: muddycolors.blogspot.com/2011/…


And here's some information I'm wanting:

- As a freelancer do I need to incorporate as a business?
- Setting up a business bank account?
- Taxes? How do I provide for them?
- Contract boilerplate for artists/sample contracts
- What rights do you typically offer up/keep for yourself?  (I ask because I'd like the ability to do reprints, sell art prints, show in Spectrum, etc.) And how much should one charge for the painting itself if the commissioning party wants to keep the original art?

Also, any other links you might think are handy, drop 'em here. :)
  • Listening to: Nuffink
  • Reading: Blackveil by Kristen Britain
  • Watching: The Inspector Lynley Mysteries
  • Playing: Angry Birds
  • Eating: Lucky Charms
  • Drinking: green tea
Today I enter my mid-thirties. (Which I maintain is still not as scary as I once would have believed. It's still like being in my 20s but with more money and common sense.)

John took me to the Melting Pot and bought me flowers. When I got the flowers at work, I thought that I should take them home and paint them. Turns out he bought them with that in mind. "They had a limited colour palette I thought you'd find fun to paint." That's right, my honey bought me STILL LIFE MATERIALS!
  • Playing: Chime
  • Eating: Fondue
  • Drinking: water
So John and I are off to Vegas tomorrow, and then on Sunday, we'll be getting hitched. Sunday is 10-10-10, which is binary for 42, which as all nerds know is the answer to Life, The Universe, and Everything. Yes, we will be hoopy froods. We are carrying towels.

You can see a sampling of the favours I painted up for the wedding guests by checking out my latest submission. (Hey, when you only have fifteen guests, you can do that.) :)

Anyway, wish us good luck and smooth flights.
  • Watching: Avatar: The Last Airbender (show, not movie)
  • Playing: Civ V
  • Eating: Samosas
  • Drinking: water
So I did that Influence Map meme that was running around.

Here's mine: pixelfish.deviantart.com/art/I…


fox-orian.deviantart.com/art/Influence-Map-Template-17455...
  • Drinking: pure cranberry juice (ugh)
  • Drinking: pure cranberry juice (ugh)
I see we have a new devart. I also see I have been awarded three llamas so far. Thank you, givers of llamas.

But I must shamefully admit that I have no idea why there are llamas in the first place. Would folks care to enlighten me?
  • Drinking: pure cranberry juice (ugh)
Thank a vet and remember those who came before.

pixelfish.deviantart.com/art/I… - I made this a few years back, but it's still appropriate.
  • Listening to: They Might Be Giants
  • Reading: Liar by Justine Larbalestier
  • Watching: Red Dwarf
  • Drinking: water
Firstly, I wanted to note that my t-shirt design is now up at Threadless and if you like it, you can vote and help get it made! If it gets made, I get paid for licensing it. :)

www.threadless.com/submission/…



....

Secondly, my friend and fellow writer, Paul Abbamondi just launched a webcomic (which I'm hosting) called Supertown. It's in its debut week, so go give it some love too.

supertown.chameleonmind.net/
  • Listening to: Amanda Palmer | Leeds United
  • Reading: You Might Sleep by Nick Mamatas
  • Watching: Connections with James Burke
  • Drinking: water
Every year I go to Toronto for a writing retreat. I get to go out to Artscape's Gibraltar Point centre and write for a week, and have my work critiqued by other writers, almost all of whom have publishing credits. I'm the most junior member of the group, I would say. (Last year, we had Peter Watts there, and I got to see some of his newest work.)

I was relatively less verbose than prior years. I spent my time rewriting two scenes to fit with the new plot I had developed. (In the prior version of Snakes and Ladders, Megs starts with the job she migrates to in the second version.) Unfortunately, I wanted to have three contiguous chapters, and the rest of my scenes were all over the place, and anyways, you want people to start at the beginning. So I finished the rest of the first three chapters (about 9500 words) and sketched in the plot outline for folks.

Reception for the three chapters seemed to be overall positive. Even strong, I might say. The weak points are that there isn't that much hint of the plot yet--I've dropped a few clues, but they are merely clues at this point. Apparently this didn't bother most folks though because they found the characters likable and the situation our heroine finds herself in to be something they had all experienced or could sympathize with. And despite my fears about people not finding snakes loveable, everyone seemed to think this was commercially viable. Which is good, because I did set out to take a misunderstood creature and make them likeable. I'm shooting for 85,000 on Snakes and Ladders and gonna revamp my schedule to take it on while its fresh. 85,000 is totally doable for me, I think.

It was kinda funny, because I think that I had been a bit influenced by Laurie's writing of the previous years, and some of that seems to have leaked through in Snakes and Ladders, because John McDaid said that at one point he checked to make sure he hadn't gotten a Laurie manuscript by mistake. I took it as a compliment, and I hope Laurie did too.

While I don't feel I can comment specifically and publically on the works I got to read at the retreat, I must say I enjoyed the variety. In some ways, I think it really helps that while everybody is genre-savvy, we are not writing even close to the same stories. Some of us are tackling a sort of lit-realism with ironic beats, while others are veering into hard science fiction tales, and others are poking around in the lands of urban fantasy. Others still are taking a stab at YA and historical fiction. I think these doses of other genres actually strengthen our in-genre writing, as we can take on conventions we might not have normally thought about. And critting across these genres means that we are less likely to rely on genre-fudges, since our current readers are influenced in other ways. Anyways, I enjoyed it.

We'd spend our days reading and writing, and then meet around seven for crits. Whenever somebody had a particularly funny line in the crits, somebody else would call out, "T-shirt!" I particularly like "It seems odd that there's no repercussions to being eaten."

Awesome week all around. You can read about the rest of my island adventures at my LiveJournal.
pixelfish.livejournal.com/9130…
  • Listening to: the fan
  • Reading: Locus
  • Watching: The Tudors, Season 2
  • Drinking: water
So I worked really hard on my San Francisco piece, and quite a few unexpected folks seemed to like it. (My sister's in-laws, for example. They wrote me some nice emails about the symbolism they perceived.)

I got some unexpected feedback though. One person (I won't say who or where, because I don't think they intended the unintentional message) complimented the piece, and then said something to the effect of it needing more allure.

This really bugs me and I am trying to put my finger on why. The thing is, I tried very hard not to sex this up (ie. make her pose more sexualised or make her clothes more extreme) or make it a pin-up piece specifically. Sure, my personification of SF is attractive, or I think so. She's passionate about music and very into doing her own thing, and while SF (the REAL SF, not my version) is very much a city that discusses sex and has sex on display and has a lot of sexual politics, that didn't seem to be the gist of what I was getting from the advice. It seemed to be more simplistic: make your picture sexy or people won't notice it. And that frustrates me. What if I just want my art to be what it is, and to be beautiful as it is? Why does any portrayal of a female have to be judged on their sex appeal?

Am I being weird?
  • Listening to: Pandora
  • Reading: Warbreaker by Brandon Sanderson
  • Watching: True Blood
  • Drinking: water
I have a shiny new job. Lo, and behold, I am working one suburb down from where I used to work, and have nearly the exact same commute. But the job itself seems very different because the tools, demographic, and aesthetic are wildly different. Fortunately, everybody seems chill.
  • Listening to: Fad Gadget
  • Reading: The Great Influenza by John Barry
  • Watching: Venture Bros, Season III
  • Drinking: water
So the other day I decided to get a new art blog up and going. Something separate from my LJ, because I guess I'll want something that doesn't have quite so much of my personal life mixed in.

Anyway, the site is here: art.lismitchell.net/ &nbs… already put up a few posts, with in progress shots, sketches, and brushes I've made. Stuff like that. More to come I hope.
  • Listening to: Fad Gadget
  • Reading: The Great Influenza by John Barry
  • Watching: Venture Bros, Season III
  • Drinking: water
I've been working on some fan art, and drawing more. Methinks this job has been good for the creativity compulsions. :)
  • Listening to: The Sharing Knife (audio book)
  • Reading: Acacia by David Anthony Durham
  • Watching: Mad Men
  • Drinking: water
Since October, I've actually completed one contract job and begun another. The latest contract job is doing UI for a game company, which I'm really excited about. I'm under the cloud of NDA though, so I can't even tell you what I'm working on, but it will be nifty, I think.

This is my first onsite game job. I've done contract work remotely in the games industry before, but this is the first time I've been plunked down onsite, given a key card, and you know, gotten the free sodas on my own behalf. (Technically, I've only taken the free apple juices, since I don't drink soda.)

It's really fun getting to make art on a regular basis. Granted, a lot of the job is technical. Moving existing assets a few pixels here and there, lining stuff up, trying to figure out the shader effects, and so on. But I feel like I'm learning a lot.
  • Listening to: Pandora
  • Reading: Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
  • Watching: Jeeves and Wooster
  • Drinking: water