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25 Apr 2022

Promotion, Social Media, and Fuck Twitter with a Saguro--Will M

When it comes to building an audience and/or client base, social media is a very powerful tool, and essential for some. As the embed from the previous post shows, I even started a Twitter account for our business, figuring that it would be a good way to reach people, particularly with updates.


That account was closed this morning. Though I'm more than happy to assist clients with building a social media presence, for our purposes, I'd rather pound pavement, post flyers, and build things up through word of mouth than use a platform that has been bought out by a narcissist. I've had to deal with enough of that sort in real life, and I'll be damned if I'm going to play in one's personal fiefdom.

Expanding a thought

24 Apr 2022

Reflections and updates --Will M

Although the "microblog" format is useful for posting thoughts, musings, quips, or the aphorisms of a budding Nietzsche, it really is impossible to expound or develop the thoughts or concepts contained therein. Like the aforementioned depressive German philosopher, Tweets, Toots, and the like are easy to misinterpret, and especially devoid of context, can be given meanings entirely contrary not only to intent, but the words in themselves.


Nobody has said anything about this tweet I embedded (having zero followers at the moment does have its benefits), but I do have my own reasons for wanting to develop the thought some more, both thinking out loud, and provide some context. I wrote it when thinking about how I have to take some classes on vector drawing, particularly since vector graphics scale perfectly, and is better suited for many print-oriented projects. I can work with software like Illustrator, or Inkscape, but both my formal training and personal projects have mostly been done by hand on paper, or raster (bitmap) images.


Aside from auto-tracing paths and editing them, or relatively simple figures, I'm still confronted with much trial and error, particularly the latter. Hence the need for formal classes; I don't want to feel so constrained forever. I hate the fact that there are vector designs/art works that exist right now only in my head. I could, in theory, do as I did when designing the site/business logo, draw everything out by hand, on paper, and vectorise a photo of it, but, while it worked for the logo specifically, it's less than an ideal solution, and a crutch at best. Artists should grow, learn new techniques/approaches, and further develop the skills have, since art and stasis are incompatible. But having these current limitations in what I can do does provide some benefit, even within some fetters.


"Necessity is the mother of invention". I will never cease to be amazed at how human creativity flourishes in the face of adversity, or even in the very least, with limited resources. With just the contents of their pockets and whatever is laying around, people can MacGyver practically anything if the need is great enough. Typically, you see this happen in the ad hoc repairs done to a car that breaks down in the middle of Deliverance country, or because something went horribly wrong with the heat/AC/plumbing when building Maintenance decided to stop answering the phone, or an actual repair tech isn't available until the next Tuesday after a full moon some time between 8am and 11pm, unless the date is an odd number, in which case it'll be a week later. That condenser or whatever needs to stop leaking that suspicious-looking fluid now, and some Star Trek level of technobabble is needed to explain how one got it working again, albeit, temporarily. In other words, "You work with what you've got".


To some extent, the same applies to creative endeavours, hence the original post. When working on some promotional materiels, the other day, I came across this. I need to have them printed, and given that the only that'd make sense to do that (at least economically), colour laser printers/papers, tend to lend themselves better to a bold graphical style. Doubly so, since ultimately, multiple print sizes would be required. Granted, none will be poster-sized, so just going with a master file and then scaling down would work, but this kind of print is specifically suited for vector work.

With which I don't have the most experience.

I'm rather fortunate, loving art/design movements that are heavily geometric. The necessity of working with a limited palette of tools actually gave me, in a sense, inspiration to create the designs that I did. As I learn how to better work with vectors, I know that I'll be able to do far more, but I'd be lying if I wasn't flooded with ideas because of it. Granted, once I actually get good with it, and decide to voluntarily restrict myself, I'll be getting better results, but I'll take a win when I can get one.

Resources for Starting Artists

19 Apr 2022

Starting on a budget--Will M

Krita Context Menu

Working in any artistic or creative field can get really expensive, very fast. Thankfully, over the past several years, both the hardware and software side have improved immensely. For the purposes of this post, I'm going to ignore the hardware, and even OS side of things. Pretty much anything reasonably modern has the power and speed to get results. More important than platform is having the largest and highest resolution display possible, even if it's connected to a laptop, a drawing tablet with pressure-sensitivity, and a lot of external storage, which combined, one can get for less than $500 US. This post is mostly about software, where costs can quickly spiral out of control.


Before getting into specifics, AlternativeTo is my go-to resource when looking for alternatives to software that is outside my price range, or something that I use rarely enough that I don't want to pay. I also love Open Source software in principle, using it for everything but games on a Linux laptop, and still for quite a few purposes on the Mac. And before proceeding, I must state that I am not being paid for any of these recommendations, and either use or have used all of them.


When it comes to visual art and design, Adobe is the elephant in the room, since their software is industry-standard. It is also rather costly, and buggier than one would want, given how much it costs. For photo editing and quite a bit of design work, I primarily use Affinity's suite. It's still proprietary and paid, but roughly $55 USD, and as a one-time cost rather than a subscription is quite affordable. It's powerful, fast, and supports essentials such as adjustment layers and high bit-depths. Also, a clean and good UI. Unfortunately, there is no Linux support (Win/Mac/iPadOS only). Affinity Photo is a 100% Photoshop replacement for me.


For photo editing on Linux, and digital painting on any platform, I have been using Krita for years now. It's Open Source, free, and completely cross-platform for desktop OSes. Although it doesn't have non-destructive editing/adjustment layers, it still supports high bit-depths, is a very powerful editor, and has a clean, workable UI. And this is just as an image editor, which Krita was not designed for. It's purpose is for digital painting, and for that, it surpasses anything I've used, free or paid. To really make full use of its potential, you absolutely need a drawing tablet with pressure-sensitivity, and it's honestly a pleasure to work with. Even the context-menu is a joy, since it opens up with a colour-picker, brush sets for quick changes, and tool options for the current brush.


Scribus, built-in template

Although I primarily use Affinity Designer for graphic design and vector work, Inkscape is still what I use on the laptop, and for tracing bitmap images on either computer. Unfortunately, though it is solid software overall, its performance on a Mac is, in truth, terrible. For print design, Scribus is a solid option, and powerful for print design and publishing. It's also much easier to learn for typesetting/publishing than LaTeX.

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