Friday, October 25, 2013

Art, Creativity, and Value

Good day, Blogger world! 

Just this past week, someone stole 2 large, black and white photoprints from the Assumption Life Art Gallery in Moncton, or more specifically from Aleksandr "Sasha" Onyshchenko, the artist whose photos said gallery was exhibiting.  More info here: 

http://kravetzphotographics.blogspot.ca/2013/10/photo-art-work-was-stolen-in-broad-day.html

One wonders at the motivations of this thief, whether profit or kleptomania.  Knowing how hard it can be to sell art that ISN'T stolen, it's hard to say, though these particular photos really are breathtaking.  Either way, there is a very bitter irony about the whole thing from an artist's perspective. 

Art isn't one of those fields you get into because you want to get rich.  It's considered impractical, and in fact it's one of those areas of study that people refer to when speaking of college students with unrealistic expectations - and yet it is one of those things that gets taken for granted every day. 

A great deal of creativity goes into the world we live in.  One might consider advertising, to start out.  You might think we don't pay for the images and other creative elements of advertising, but they are the reason that sites like Youtube and Facebook are free for us to use.

It occurs to me that one reason the arts tend to be undervalued is that creative people never really stop making creative works.  We might make less, and it might be of lesser quality, but to actually stop creating is something we are profoundly unwilling to do.  Whether it's paintings, photographs, or Gifs the content always appears one way or another. 

Knowing this makes me grateful to all the grant programs and people who support the arts out there.  Because people do realize that, even though you can't eat a painting or cure AIDS with a photograph, art and creative works are things we need in our lives. 

'Till next time, Blogger world! 

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Article Response Regarding Alcoholism and Sexism

I'm posting this here because the site this article appears on is taking its sweet time loading my comment. This would have made a great article about the hazards of alcoholic culture and the responsibility OF EVERYONE to be responsible, but the author has put this responsibility squarely on women with hardly a passing glance at the men. It doesn't matter how many times you say you aren't victim blaming. Holding women to a different standard of life style is what ultimately lets this kind of stigma continue. This premise is why women feel ashamed, even though they aren't the only ones engaging in this behavior. There are a lot of things women can do to "prevent" sexual assault. Not going to work, never leaving the house unaccompanied, and covering themselves head-to-toe are among these. In fact, these are the standard in many places around the world and throughout history - a cultural phenomenon that we are just now overcoming in this part of the world. The slant of this article shows a fear to address the real problem - that sexual assailants need to be held responsible for their actions, even if it is easier to put the responsibility on potential victims. 

Here is the article to which this is a response:
http://www.slate.com/articles/double_x/doublex/2013/10/sexual_assault_and_drinking_teach_women_the_connection.2.html

And here is a pretty good response to that article:
http://nymag.com/thecut/2013/10/college-men-stop-getting-drunk.html

Not sure about that last comment on restraint "trickling down" to the women, but the whole article is in answer to the last one so it can be taken in reference to that.

Edit:  I have written a continuation to this post based on subsequent responses - http://sketchesandswatches.blogspot.ca/2015/11/continued-article-response-regarding.html

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Back to Jobsearchland

Good Day Blogger world!

Once again I have been an absentee. To rectify that I've come back with nothing particularly new to tell you. The job hunt continues. I have recently been handed a link to another potential job. Walk with me as I explore this new lead.

Seasonal, but well paid. Buzz words "fast-paced" and "dynamic" in their usual use of describing the work place. Looks as if I qualify. Haven't got much extra to boast, but I qualify. Candidates will be required to complete a security screening process. Should be fun. Seems they're looking for the business-minded, leadership-oriented type of candidate, and I'm more than willing to fake it 'till I make it...or don't. I will also be required to pass pre-employment tests. Looking forward to those too. Really. I'll be required to present a character reference letter. Can't remember the last (or possibly even the first) time I was asked for one of those. I'm assuming that's in the case of an interview.

Let the games begin.

"This job is not a permanent full time job. We cannot guarantee when you will work or how often you will work. This job is for on-call casual employment. Are you still interested?"

I pretty much have to be. Full-time work is the unicorn of today's job market.

"Do you have the ability to lift up to 22.7 kgs (50 lbs) and carry up to 15.9 kgs (35 lbs)?"

Clearly I need to start hitting the weights, if only to figure out how much I am currently capable of lifting.

"You have been moved to two different area's and you are close to the end of your shift and you are asked to move again. What would you do?"

I have no idea what this would entail or how it would effect what I'm doing or when I leave. The truth of the matter, in any case, is that I'll probably be going along with it.

"What is the main reason you applied to this position?"

Mortgage money. Probably should have chosen something better sounding that "Prefer not to say", but it was an option....

These are just a few of the questions I must consider.  All told, it's not too arduous.  Inevitably, I am creating yet another profile. This calls for another resume. I remove my most recent stint in retail from my work history with a certain satisfaction, as though it had never been there at all.  Only the good stuff belongs on this page.

"My primary career interest". Is not on the list. Perhaps they mean at this particular place. Employers do have a way of implying that the only candidates they want to see are the ones that want the job they're offering more than anything in the world. Optional question, thank goodness.

Alright, t'is done. Another foray into jobsearchland completed.

I have not grown to like this process any better, but I'll keep at it until I land something permanent or manage to get on my feet some other way. This will be my motivation - once I'm on my feet I won't have to fill out job applications anymore ^_^.

In other news, I've been entering the weekly contests on Spoonflower.  Haven't won anything yet, but it's worth it to have some new designs in my library. Here's the one I'm entering for the next contest:

Greco-Roman Astrological Sky

As I write this, I also have an entry in the current contest, which will probably close tomorrow: 

D6 Repeat

Feel free to go over to Spoonflower and vote! Always worth checking out! :)

I'll end tonight with a Facebook haiku.  I believe I've posted these here before. The process was invented by my Mom, where you take statuses and pieces of statuses posted by people on your Facebook feed and put them together to form a haiku. It can be very entertaining. ^_^

I watched the debate
New season, 1st episode
It is bad enough

'Till next time, Blogger world!

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Boys Are Not Animals: My Response to Mary Bowen's Article, "Exhibitionist Modern Culture Breeds Exess"

Good day Blogger world,

Below is a letter to the editor of the Chronicle Herald, in response to the article I have linked to above.  As you will find in reading my letter, this issue is of extreme importance to me.  Something tells me there will be many such letters in the Voice of the People section tomorrow.

Dear Editor,

I am writing in response to an article by Mary Bowen, titled Exhibitionist Modern Culture Breeds Exess. I sincerely have a problem with the statements made in this article:
I'll start with the paragraph that struck me as the most troubling: "Back in the day when dinosaurs roamed the prairies and I was a teen, there were names (which can’t be repeated here) for girls who paraded their wares and talked the talk, then wanted to bail when the car windows at the drive-in were thoroughly steamed and boys couldn’t have walked to the concession stand for the popcorn if they’d wanted to. "

So these girls talked the talk and walked the walk, flaunted their "wares" and then "bailed"? It wasn't that they were scared or confused? Did they in fact owe it to those boys deliver sex, and then renege on a transaction? I really don't think anybody "owes" anybody sex in these situations. The boys in these cases are quitee capable of ending the night, and the relationship, right then and there if they feel they are being toyed with. Intimate relations are not business transactions. Furthermore - those words Ms. Bowen made reference to? They are very much in use today. They are the reason girls like Rehtaeh Parsons are dead.

Another paragraph I found disturbing: "'No means no' is a catchy slogan, but is it really fair to spread out the goodies and then snatch them off the table at the last second when the bait is taken and the hook halfway down the fish’s throat?" Is this is a matter of offering goods, not a human relationship? I noticed Ms. Bowen felt that the young men in these situations are not "wholy to blame" for their actions, "At a time when hormones are raging". Does this mean that the boys should get slack on account of their raging hormones, but not so much the girls?

One thing we can agree on is that different things need to be taught by parents and society in general. Not just teaching girls that they are not valuless bodies meant for pleasing boys, but also teaching boys that they are not animals at the mercy of their hormones. Really, I don't think Ms. Bowen or the people who fail to teach these boys about boundaries are giving them enough credit. I think they can (and do) learn to control themselves, to the extent that they know regardless of whether their partner is a) purposefully leading them on with no regard to their feelings or b) just a scared, confused teenager, that the course of action should be the same - it's time to stop, realize what's happening, and get out of the car. But people have to be taught to have and respect boundaries. Otherwise, they'll find things out the hard way - like those girls to whom certain names were applied back in the day.

I hope I've made it clear that this issue is of grave importance to me, and many other people. I am not trying to instill hurt feelings, but just as Ms. Bowen felt the need to write this article, I feel the need to answer it. Her comment at the end of the article, "bring on the burka", points to something I have felt before: that "slut shaming" here shares roots with the abuses of women around the world, where the very fact of being a female in public can be enough to condemn a person. Please let's not go down this path.

Sincerely,

Robyn MacKinnon

Monday, August 19, 2013

The Nesting Doll Chores Trap

Happy Monday, Blogger world!

I intended to do some serious Cafepress housekeeping today.  I did work on my Cafepress, but mostly in the way of adding new products.  It wasn't nothing, in fact I got a lot of work done, just not the work I intended.  This brings to mind a blog post I read just today by a promising young blogger, which I will link to here:

http://jadarendir.wordpress.com/2013/08/18/a-guide-to-practical-procrastination/

This practical-procrastination thing might be a good way to deal with one of my least favorite chores/work day conundrums - something I call The Nesting Doll Chores Trap.  This is when a task looks small, but leads to one extra job, then another, then another, and so on until you just spent half your day on this string of chores all in the name of getting one thing crossed off your to-do list.

Example:  I go to put something in the compost.  The compost is full, so I have to empty it out.  Then I realize I'm out of compost box liners, so I get more of those.  I do groceries at the same time, because I have to do that anyway.  Ultimately, putting something in the compost took 2 hours.

I've run into a version of that in my Cafepress chores.  I wanted to pare down the extra things in my shops, but first I must organizing my shops so I can keep track of what I've sold (so I don't delete any of those things).  Organizing my shop has lead to having to open other shops because I've run up against the limit of how many sections I can have in a shop, not to mention the fact that going through my shops is making me noticing everything else that's missing/needs doing my shops.

Obviously these things can manifest any way.  Want to do a quick repair job?  A missing part leads to a trip to the hardware store, right after a trip to the bank, then leads to another trip to another hardware store if they don't have what you need, leads to a trip to the gas station because of all the driving around (or a trip to the corner store to get more bus tickets), etc...

There are ways of minimizing these repercussions.  Only go to the grocery store for the compost bucket liners, or save the compost run for later.  Prioritizing can feel a lot like procrastination when you've got more of a to-do-list than you can realistically do in a day.  For me, it's gotten to the point where everything feels like procrastination, because everything ultimately 'needs' doing.  I'd love to take the time to do a good job on things, and sometimes I can manage that.  But the longer I take, the less worthwhile it seems.  This goes double for things I don't get paid for - mainly cleaning.  It doesn't matter how good a job I do, nobody's going to pay me to clean my own home.  It's still important, but not as urgent as the growing vacuum in my bank account.  Perhaps if I alternate between job hunting, cleaning my place, and working on something I actually want to work on, I'll feel like something got done in the end...:/

Anyway, that's my thought for the day.  Thanks for reading!  'Till next time...

Friday, August 16, 2013

Cafepress News & Stuff - The Admin Shop

Good Day Blogger world!

I may have mentioned that I'm on Cafepress, and I have a shop.  Actually, I have a few - and there will probably be more because I've run up against the limit of sections for one shop (again :P).  In case you haven't heard of it, Cafepress is a customization site with a marketplace component that allows users to sell things with their own designs on them.  I've been a Cafepress shop owner since about 2010, and now I earn enough to cover my internet costs each month.  Bear in mind, this is at the lowest price I could get internet, but there is often a little left over after that too.

Here's something interesting that Cafepress does, or has done for me in the recent past.  Not too long ago, another shop appeared in my account, one that I did not create.  I was taken aback at first, but apparently this is something Cafepress does if it (they?) feel(s) that certain of your designs would work well on products they don't currently appear on.  I have actually had 2 sales result from that, so I'm cool with it.  I try not to meddle with it too much, but I felt the need to spruce it up today as I was doing some Cafepress housekeeping.  Here's the link if you'd like to see what it looks like:

http://www.cafepress.com/admin_cp14439106

Here is an example of one of the things that has sold through this shop.

Maiko Silhouette Dark Maternity T-Shirt Maternity Shirt (dark) Admin Store

These are not things I decided to include (although there may be some duplicates between my other shops and this one), and I wouldn't have guessed that a black on black design would sell (when this item sold, the shirt was only available in black).  When it did sell, I realized that this particular design actually does look nice on a black background - it adds an air of mystery to it, which suits the subject matter.  So I added a similar product to my main shop.

I don't know how much of this is an actual person stocking this shop and how much is automated.  Not sure how well the white seahorse is going to work out on the white background of this phone cover, but that remains to be seen.  I haven't changed any of the products so far , though I may decide to adjust some of them.

In other news (as I mentioned earlier), I'm going to have to put up a new shop to make room in my old shop.  I've decided to make a few mini shops containing images from my calendars.  This could get confusing.  I will have to find a way around that, and for the near future it will probably involve links.

That's all the news for now!  As always, thanks for reading!  :)

Monday, August 12, 2013

Job Prospects - Also, Space Opera In Your Pants

Good Day, Blogger world!  :)

Another week begins!  Or rather, my 5-day weekend begins, as I just finished my 2 day work week.  The job search continues, though I am hoping hard that one of my recent applications does come to fruition.  It is that rare gem that is actually in the field I studied.  This wouldn't just be a way of paying my mortgage - it could be a solid stepping-stone in my career.  I've sent the application in already, so now all I can do is wait and think of ways to prepare for the potential interview - and possibly even success.  It's easy to forget to prepare for success.  It requires cautious optimism, and more than a little bit of foresight.  I shall attempt a vision of the future, and prepare as necessary.

In other news, I just got back from vacation, which, among other things, means I've finished reading a book!  Not something that happens as often as it used to, and I'm working on changing that.  I bought this book of short stories quite a few years ago, and I've been making my way through it very slowly.  All the stories in this book are sci-fi/fantasy, and they are all in some way about music.  It seemed like a really interesting premise - not to mention a shoe-in for the suffix "In Your Pants".  If you don't know what I'm talking bout, this video should give you the necessary background (applicable information beginning at 2:18):



Honestly, I may have bought this book before Vlogbrothers had even gotten started.  Just to give you an idea of how long I've had it, I just noticed I'd been using a Kleenex coupon that expired on the last day of 2007 as a bookmark.

The book was put together by Anne McCaffrey and Elizabeth Ann Scarborough, and contains 20 stories in total.  They make a varied and interesting collection, each story by a different author, with as diverse a range of settings and characters as one could ask.  I love music, as do a lot of people of course.  It's possible that a story inspired by music has that touch of magic to it.  I know this book had more than a few gems that I'll remember fondly.  A good read over all - bite-sized pieces of diverse imaginations, each interpreting the theme in their own way.

I think that's all for now.  Thanks for reading!  Later Blogger world!  :)

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Review: The Mount Saint Vincent University Art Gallery

Good Day Blogger world!

On Monday I posted a review of an exhibit at MSVU, and it occurs to me that the gallery itself would be worthy of further description.   It's a nice little space, just off the main entrance of the Seaton building, but it tends to escape notice.  That's a shame, because boring content is a rarity in this venue.

It's not a big gallery - technically just one room - but the gymnasium-height ceiling allows for some very unique exhibitions.  Most recently, artist-in-residence Steve Higgens constructed a very large wooden structure devised of clashing architectural elements reminiscent of his charcoal drawings.  This took up most of the lower gallery, which made for an amazing view from the mezannine.  There's been art of all sizes in this space.  The one that sticks out in my memory is the life-sized latex lighthouse by Kim Mornga, which hung diagonally from the ceiling in front of the Mezzanine to the floor a the opposite end of the gallery http://www.canadianart.ca/see-it/2010/11/11/kim_morgan/.  I think this openness also speaks to the kind of art that has been housed here over the years.

Part of the MSVU Art Gallery's mandate is to give representation to women artists and their work, as well as local artists and artisans, often in the early stages of their careers.  I love that about the place, and I feel it's brought in some really interesting and unique content.  I've made reference to the exhibit by Christine Redfern that included the actual drawn cartoon panels of "Who is Ana Mendieta", the graphic novel, specifically in this post:  http://sketchesandswatches.blogspot.ca/2013/05/book-review-who-is-ana-mendieta.html).  Also included in this exhibit was a film that showed one of Mendieta's art works, a flaming armature silhouette, possibly a goddess symbol, burning on a continuous loop.  Sharing the gallery, and the exhibit, with these, was a curtained-off projecting of a woman in a sheet, seeming to be asleep and shifting around in charcoal dust.  The animation would speed up and slow down as the viewers' movements were detected by motion sensors.  This installation by Philomne Longpre (titled "Xia"), and the "Who is Ana Mendieta" display, were shown as a joint exhibit.  I find them both to be good examples of work focused on women's issues, one on the struggles of decades past, and the other on the lingering struggles that still permeate culture, society, and psychological conditioning.  http://philox.net/xiasystem/

The gallery does not shy way from controversial subjects or potentially offensive subject matter.  The exhibit "Oriental Ornamental" featured walls full of giant silk flowers, each featuring what appeared to be human genitalia, complete with human hair.  These were also made of fabric, and perhaps this went some way toward disguising their intended nature, as there were people who actually took each other's graduation day pictures in front of them.  Or perhaps this was completely deliberate.  I like to think that MSVU attracts people with a healthy sense of humour, or at least irony.  This exhibit also featured a giant wig, on which visitors could pin origami flowers with over-sexualized images of oriental women printed on them.  In the upper gallery, there was an entire faux opium den, put together by another artist and assembled entirely from "oriental" style decor such as one might find at wicker emporium and other decidedly inauthentic sources.  I found this exhibit to be exceptionally interesting.  The one thing I found really off-putting was the background soundtrack in the opium den, which included 5 minutes of screaming every 15 minutes.  A key to the intent of the work, but it did begin to grate after a while.  The subject of this joint exhibit was to do with ethnic stereotyping, specifically of Oriental people.  Plenty of food for thought to be had.

Other exhibits have brought large colour photos of railway systems across North America, a forest of umbrellas attached to toy accordions that played themselves on loop, gigantic canvasses painted with poured acrylic, a pile of 1 million pennies, and numerous other wonders of contemporary art. The work often takes some explaining, but that's what makes it interesting.  Definitely worth a visit, or two, or more if you get the chance.

Website: 
http://msvuart.ca/index.php?menid=01&mtyp=3
Facebook page:
https://www.facebook.com/pages/MSVU-Art-Gallery/177537538924695

Monday, August 5, 2013

Exhibit Review - Arthur Lismer: Halifax Harbour at War Time

Good Day, Blogger world! 

I've decided to devote some time to actual art review on this blog.  I often have the opportunity to see good art, and it's an experience worth sharing. 

Today I'd like to talk about a small collection of paintings and lithographs by Arthur Lismer currently on display at the Mount Saint Vincent University Art Gallery.  This is a slightly unusual exhibit for this particular gallery.  The kind of work on display in this venue tends to be very contemporary, by artists who are still midway through their careers, or at least still alive.  This work has more history behind it, not to mention the name of one of the Group of 7 members.  It has a lot of local relevance too, which is part of what MSVU looks for.  As indicated in the name, all the work in this exhibit depicts scenes of Halifax Harbour during World War I, in the form of lithographs and paintings which Arthur Lismer was commissioned by the Canadian War Records to create.  All told, this is a pretty special show for the gallery. 

Seascape and landscape painting are one of those genres that gets taken for granted in this era.  We think of them as something nice to have on one's wall - tasteful, unobtrusive, and unexciting.  Even though we can usually appreciate the work that goes into such a thing, it's hard to get fired up about them, no matter what the historical significance.  At first glance, the paintngs included in this exhibit are calm, even tranquil-looking.  The lithographs are somewhat more exciting, perhaps because they have more images of people, or perhaps because of the raw sketchiness of the medium.  The paintings may hold one's interest too on second glance.  Once we get past the instantaneous impression of the collection of shapes and colours that says "seascape", it's worth it to look at the paint itself. 

The quality of mark-making is really spontaneous, careless even.  In the long panoramic painting "View From Chebucto Head", the strokes are clearly visible.  You can see canvas between the strokes in some spots, but the paint goes on thick, forming glossy ridges where the bristles drew it along.  This particular painting reminds me of something I heard second/third-hand about Lismer and his practice:  that he would collection garbage and detritus on the way to his studio, and then ask his studio assistant "Landscape or seascape?".  He would then arrange his findings in some kind of formation and paint said land or seascape from that arrangement.  Not sure that this is an established truth, but looking at that one painting I can imagine him doing that.  Great idea, really. 

When looking at these paintings, it's interesting to look at the painting technique and try to imagine what the artist was thinking at the time.  The technical competence is clear, even thought the technique does not imply that minute detail was the be-all-end-all for this artist.  This wasn't created as an image rendered in paint - it is a painting.  The subject matter is stayed, though impressive - the technique is exciting. 

This exhibit is up until August 11th, so if you have a chance, I recommend checking it out.  Thanks for reading.  Later Blogger world!  :)

Friday, August 2, 2013

Online Job Hunting and My Conspiracy Theory

So, here is how NOT to recruit online.

So I get this email from Name I Don't Recognize that reads very much like spam.  The subject line starts with FYI, for one thing.  It seems the status of my job application for TEAMsomeoddnumber is changed.  This email didn't end up in my spam folder, so I opened it to find it contained very little information, as well as an attachment and a link.  This is all looking very spammy to me.  I check the full header, and it actually appears to be from a place I applied to months ago.  I plug the name into my inbox box to be sure, and find this email looks like most of the others I have received from said establishment.  OK, fine.  So I go to find out what has changed about my application, only to find out that either I've forgotten my password or my account no longer exists even though they can still send me emails (I'm now thinking that's what this change in status was, because I was not allowed to use the lost password option).  I won't go into all the infuriating details, but in conclusion I find that obscure language, mixed signals, and general over-automation is not a great strategy for online recruitment.

Seriously, I have to wonder how well this actually works, even for big corporations in a weak job market.  It seems like an awful lot of resources to put into the process of elimination.  They must be sure that all these hoops to jump through really will narrow the field down to the ones who can do the job best.  Perhaps they've calculated it all so that only a specific type of mind can actually make it through the application process.  I've made it to the interview stage a handful of times, but I have yet to actually acquire a job that I originally applied for online.

Some would argue that comparatively few jobs are actually gained by responding to any type of advertisement, and my own job experience would seem to back that up.  Very often it's about who you know and being in the right place at the right time.  This makes this shift toward online recruitment even more mysterious.  Seems like an awful lot effort to put into something that won't do the bulk of the hiring for you.  Some places don't even give you the option of applying any other way except online!  What are you doing collecting hypothetical employees in an online database if only a fraction of a fraction of them make it to your team?

One alternative explanation occurs to me:  information.  This is the age where corporations want to know about you.  Your likes, dislikes, gender, age, beliefs, politics, and anything else they can use in order to sell their product to you.  Most privacy statements will say that they would never share your information with a third party, which is the prevailing fear.  But if the company you're applying to is a big retailer, why would they sell your information?  They're the ones who need it in order to sell you stuff!

Seriously, I've talked about this before:

Sketches and Swatches: Do I really have to sign up for everything?

I give more information to these online recruitment sites than I would give most places, unless I'm filing my taxes or renewing my passport.  What bugs me, if this theory turned out to be true and online recruitment sites are just consumer information banks for corporations, is that I could tolerate this if I actually got a paying job out of it!  That's why people sign up for Vindale Research, and other "Surveys for Cash" sites.  We all know that corporations benefit from our information - why not sell it to them directly and reap some fringe benefits?  Sadly, it doesn't work that way, because there are enough ways to get our information already, that nobody has to pay you for it.

Maybe this isn't news at all.  It certainly would explain the psych-test style questionnaires and the recruitment engines using other recruitment engines to recruit.  I have to say that my job search has gone better of late.  I've had 2 interviews this past week.  One did result from an online ad, though I delivered the actual application in person.  The other was one I'd heard about through word of mouth - in fact, a friend of a family member offered me an interview.  It was at a place where I'm kind of a regular, which is nice.  The whole "it's about who you know" thing isn't as superfluous as it sounds, really.  It's good to have a real-world idea of who you're hiring and who you're being hired by.  It's not a bad place to start, at least.

This post took a turn I hadn't anticipated.  Funny the things that will occur to you when writing/wild-goose-job chasing/venting.  Thanks for reading, Blogger world!  Until next time!

PS:  Having given no time to art-talk in this blog, I feel like I should at least include some of my recent work:

Inkblot Seraphim by ~Eseopia on deviantART

Seraphim - the highest order of angel.  Covered in wings because they can't be seen by mere human beings, though that's probably an oversimplification.  I must say, angels are more interesting and diverse than they appear in pop culture, even going by what research I've done on my own time.  I've put together a calendar containing my drawings of angels that I've done over the years.  It is available through Deviantart...


Angels and Shades Calendar by ~Eseopia on deviantART

and Cafepress:

http://www.cafepress.com/robynmackinnondesigns.756626980

Enough product placement?  :B  I thought so.  Later!

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

The Self-Conscious Electron and the Creative Process

Good day Blogger world!

On a not completely unrelated note to the previous blog, I'd like to talk a little bit about quantum physics.  This isn't the first time this has come up - you may remember me touching on the subject while reviewing the book "Is There Life After Death?", which had a surprising amount of quantum physics to it.  Recently I came across a  Youtube video that explains one of the quintessential quantum physics experiments, and also one of its most tantalizing mysteries.



The "Double Slit Experiment" presents two mysteries:  that of how an electron can act like both a wave and a particle, and that of how the act of observing said electron actually changes how they act in the experiment.  I find this fascinating, and inspiring, on a number of levels.  

To start off, this makes for an apt metaphor for many situations in life.  You've heard that a watched pot never boils.  Not literally, of course, but it certainly feels that way at first.  This one (probably) has more to do with the way our mind perceives time (which is something else that becomes more interesting through the lens of quantum physics).  Still, the fact that a watched electron will not act like a wave (though the actions of the unobserved electron indicate it can), draws some interesting parallels.

As often happens, I find myself thinking of art making.  In the last post I talked about how a spontaneous drawing can end up being a really good piece of art, in a different way than the piece that took months to plan and execute.  In the same way that direct observation scares the little electron into acting like a true particle, sometimes it's as though thorough planning scares off that special something about spontaneous art.  This isn't taking anything away from a really well-planned and well-worked piece of art.  I'm just saying it's different.

I don't mind being observed when I'm making art, but I will sometimes keep ideas to myself until I've had a chance to get the real-world work started.  In the past, when I've admitted one of these ideas to, say, a teacher, it almost feels like premature contact with open air kills it instantly.  Without anything solid to back it up, it shrivels and dies under scrutiny, and no amount of explaining on my part can save it.

How interesting to observe something like an electron acting...self-conscious.  We all know it's more difficult to perform while being hyper-scrutinized - that we tend to change things, consciously or sub-consciously when being observed.  But what is this power of observation that it changes the behavior of an electron?  Alternatively, what is the power of the electron that it can react to the act of being measured, as if psychically aware?  Even we as human beings don't always know when we're being observed.  What tips off the electron?  What is this connection that is being made?!

The real-world implications of this are mind-boggling.  This is just one example of proof that there's way more going on in our world than we know.  As both a metaphor and an experiment, it makes one want to observe the world around us with new attention, and at the same time to stop over-thinking and start living with a new openness to the unknown.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Facebook, Surrealism, and Collaboration

Good Day, Blogger world!

Another week begins.  I just finished writing a haiku.  Not just any haiku, and not just for me.  Some time ago, my mother started piecing together haikus, one each day, from her friends' Facebook statuses.  There is a surprising amount of material for this, especially when she just takes pieces of statuses and not the whole thing.  Her friends seem to love it, and so do I :).  This week I'm actually standing in for her in capacity of Facebook haiku poet.  Here is what I came up with tonight:

The perfect revenge
practically writes itself! 
sweet or unsweetened

(To see more of her work, you can follow her on twitter at @PeggyMackinnon.  To see more of mine, come visit me at @art_rat.  :)

I started writing some of my own, just sporadically.  I've been posting them on Facebook and twitter, and I'm noticing my twitter follower numbers picking up of late.  People have even specifically said that they like the haikus.  It's cool to see this kind of thing actually catching on.  

This makes me think of something that came my way on Facebook a while ago - a meme that one of my friends tagged me for:  

1 - Go to "wikipedia." Hit “random”
or click this link.
The first random Wikipedia article you get is the name of your band.

2 - Go to "Random quotations"
or click this link.
The last four or five words of the very last quote of the page is the title of your first album.

3 - Go to flickr and click on “explore the last seven days”
or click this link.
Third picture, no matter what it is, will be your album cover.

4 - Use photoshop or similar to put it all together.

5 - Post it with this text in the "caption" and TAG the friends you want to join in.

This was what I came up with.  The original picture can be found here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/geoff_robson/3294959868/

I feel like this kind of thing must have been at least partially inspired by the surrealists' "Exquisite Corpse" game.  This was originally a word game:  Each player (minimum 3) writes down a definite or indefinite article as well as an adjective, conceals it, and passes their paper to the player beside them.  That player then writes a noun, conceals it, and then passes the paper on to the next person, who writes a verb.  The next person proceeds with another definite or indefinite article and adjective, and the next person another noun.  This completes a sentence that nobody has read yet, which could be anything, and usually ends up being pretty amusing.  The game was actually named for one such sentence:  "The exquisite corpse shall drink the new wine".  

Most of us have been introduced to this kind of thing as a drawing game.  That was true for me, at least, and I've had a lot of fun with it.  This is part of what I love about surrealism - finding the creative potential in chaos.  Chance elements, not chosen by the creator/artist/player, acting as fertile ground for the creation of something unique, strange, and potentially challenging.  One wonders what kind of work we'd have seen from Salvador Dali, had he lived in this day and age, with a resource like the internet as his disposal.  No doubt he and his fellow surrealists had a hand in shaping this era, setting the stage for new ways of thinking and being creative.  

What's interesting is how purely original the results of these games can be, even though they are collaborative works.  Of course, there is the element of chance that gives it true spontaneity.  As an artist, one can spend many agonizing hours coming up with "original" work, straining for that final result that is just as often achieved by letting go and allowing whatever happens to happen.  Speaking from my own experience, a lot of my best work has come about that way.  I've even illustrated some of my Mom's Facebook haikus, and been pretty happy with the results:  






Nothing is really, truly original - as Carl Sagan once said, to make an apple pie from scratch, one must first invent the universe.   We don't create our own materials, but we do decide what we create with them.  There is, of course, plenty to be said for collaboration.  The internet age has made it so much easier to find inspiration, resources, and even collaborators.  As long as we can respect each other's abilities and remain open-minded, the possibilities are endless.  

If I may leave you with a couple more links, here is a Deviantart group dedicated to the creation of Exquisite Corpse works. All of these works are collaborations by different artists, and the results are consistently mindblowing! http://theexquisitecorpse.deviantart.com/gallery/

Also, if you like the look of my Facebook haiku illustrations, you may want to check out this Cafepress shop, a collaboration of 3 creative minds, including mine and Mom's: http://www.cafepress.com/threepartharmony

Thanks so much for reading.  Later, Blogger world!  :)

Friday, July 26, 2013

Unexpectedly Free Day - Also, Elfquest!

Good day, Blogger world!

It's a grey, humid day when I thought I'd be venturing out solely for the purposes of dance class.  Then my teacher sent me a message saying class was cancelled this week - so I might just stay at home being sweaty and unshowered today, at least until my dye projects dry.  I've been making costumes, and this has required messing around with a dye, which means my washroom is being taken up by a big drying rack right now.  In the meantime...

I would like to take this opportunity to write another book review post - though really it's about a graphic novel series rather than one book.  Some of you may have heard of Elfquest, the sci-fi/fantasy graphic novel series that began in the 70s, if I'm not mistaken.  I stumbled across it years ago.  Haven't seen anything quite like it before or since.  It can be called sci-fi because there is a certain amount of 'science' within the magic of it all.  It is an adult graphic novel, though a teenage audience could (and I have no doubt does) appreciate it as well.  I would describe it as an adult fairy tale, even the later sci-fi extensions of the story.  The cartooning style is definitely cartoonish, and how this manages to go hand in hand with the adult content of the stories (which is definitely not hard-core, but is there) is something I find to be unique, even though I'm not really sure why I find it so unusual.  New additions to the series have been added in recent years by the original creators, to add to the many different formats and incarnations this series has already had.  There's been a collection of chapters books, various creators interpreting and adding to the series, different artists, and a couple of attempts at a movie (one of which is ongoing, if I'm not mistaken).  I'd be holding out on you if I didn't say you can find the mother load of the Elfquest series online, right here:  


Of course there are some things you can't find there yet (as far as I've found), such as the chapter books.  I own and have read them all, and it was a good read each time.  One of my favorite parts of the series is the story at the beginning of book 2 ("Wolfsong Volume 2, The Blood of Ten Chiefs), titled "Colours", translated in graphic novel form illustrated with watercolour.  There is also an obscure bit, the 9th installment in the New Blood group of stories, that I feel really gets to the core of the philosophy behind the whole series, the whole story.  This is the part that amazes me about the series.  It starts to feel like a mythology more than a graphic novel series.  No doubt it takes roots in the imagination.  The mark of a truly excellent creative work! 

Alright, I think I've geeked out enough for one day.  I just wanted to share that with you, as it is, well and truly, my favorite graphic novel series of all time.  

Later Blogger world!  

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Warning! References to Lady Parts!

Good Day, Blogger World!

As I started my day, I saw a link to this article in Bust Magazine go by on Facebook.  It featured this Kotex advertisment,



followed by this stand-up comic, making a really good point through a comedic skit:



Rather than making me angry, this thing brightened up my day.  That's what I love about comedy, that it can be used to raise consciousness without raising negativity.  Seriously (and this was pointed out in the second video) wasn't it Kotex that was supposedly trying to get us to be less self-conscious with our lady parts?  With their pretty pads and "Why are tampons such a big deal" video?

I don't want to make Kotex out to be the enemy.  But neither am I buying that they're as progressive as they say.  Making more money tends to trump the social issues angle when it comes to business.  What troubles me about this product is that it seems to be edging in the direction of maxi pads become required women's wear for everyday life, not just that special time each month.  Creating a problem and then solving it - one of my least favorite tricks of marketing.  What's next - pads for everywhere else we sweat?  Even outside the women's issues angle, think of all the pantyliners that end up in landfills already!  Overall, I don't believe a lot of thinking went into this product.  But at least it's good for a laugh.  :P

I had some fun with panty liners back in art school.  Here's what I came up with:


Lily - the maxi pad dress by ~Eseopia on deviantART


Lightdays Party Dress by ~Eseopia on deviantART

One was to address the deeper cultural issues around women's menstruation, while the other was more a celebration of the freedom we've come to enjoy compared to generations past.  I made both of these dresses with pads from the dollar store.  It was fun, and they've actually had quite a bit of attention over the years.  It sparks an interesting dialogue, at least.  I thought of making another one with the fancy new Kotex pads, though I've lacked the funds to take on big projects lately.  Now I'm thinking I might hold off for different reasons....

Anyway, this has been the most interesting part of my morning so far.  Until next time, blogger world!  :)

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Meme Day!

Good day Blogger world! 

I'm gong to try to do one meme day a week here on Sketches and Swatches :P.  Here is the latest one from Steampunk on facebook:

Lady or Lord + First Name of the Last Video Game Character you played + Name of the last tea you drank + Favorite weapon = your Steampunk name

So today I'm writing to you as Lady Bubbles Chocolate Monkey Scimitar :P.

Steampunk is awesome.  I have come to believe this.  I'm not even totally sure I can explain it fully.  Maybe it's the sci-fi aspect with Victorian aesthetics.  I'm definitely a fan of Steampunk fashion, as well as books and tea (2 other important things in the Steampunk world).  Needless to say, the movement has inspired some beautiful artwork.  I've attempted to create some of my own in the same spirit:


Woman With Octopus Fan by ~Eseopia on deviantART


Inkblot Steampunk Gentleman by ~Eseopia on deviantART


Ink Scratch Steampunk Gentleman With Gears by ~Eseopia on deviantART

I DO NOT consider myself a Steampunk expert.  I can name (and have even seen) some Steampunk movies, such as Wild Wild West, League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, and the Sherlock Holmes movies (I gather that these count).  The fact that I'm still discovering Steampunk makes it extra fun for me, especially now that there are so many ways to explore the movement.  Conventions, communities, artwork...and yes, even internet memes :P.

BTW, I should also include this drawing, which is actually half of a drawing mirrored:


Ink Scratch Octopus 1 by ~Eseopia on deviantART

Octopi are a part of Steampunk culture too, which I'm told has to do with Jules Verne.  Whatever the reason, I'm for it ^_^.

All of these drawings are done in pen (brush pen for "Inkblot Steampunk Gentleman") on paper.  Lady Bubbles was of course coloured in Photoshop.  I look forward to doing more work on this theme.

This seems like a good place to end this post right now.  Thanks for reading, and have a good day Blogger world!

Monday, June 10, 2013

Book Review: Lucasfilm's Alien Chronicles

Good Day Blogger world!

Good news on the job front: Not only do I have an interview for 3 potential jobs this week, but my People Answers answers just came in handy for a completely different job application than the one I was doing when I originally signed up. It's like when you're playing a video game and you get enough stars to unlock other worlds. Does this mean I've leveled up :B? I'm put in mind of the part of Neil Gammon's commencement speech (if you don't know what I'm talking about, you can find a link to it in the blog entry before this) where he described having become someone who answers emails professionally and writes as a hobby. It occurs to me that I am in very real danger of becoming a professional job seeker, and I don't yet have a way to stop it that doesn't involved self-sabotage. That said, I scored a few commissions this week too, so there is hope.

In the meantime, I'd like to make this a book review post.

The book(s) for today will be a work in fiction, departing from the trend set by my first 2 book reviews. I have always been a fan of science fiction, and at no time more so than when I was in high school. One of the books sets I remember best was the trilogy of Lucasfilm's Alien Chronicles, written by Deborah Chester. This is not, as far as I can tell, related in any way to Star Wars. Are there parallels? Absolutely. A fight for freedom from an oppressive regime, many and various fictional races of sentient creatures, and no Earth anywhere in the story, to name a few. It is a 3 part science fiction epic like many, and thoroughly enjoyable as such. But there are some interesting differences, which I'd like to explore.

Difference #1: No human characters. It's actually kind of easy to forget this while reading the book, because the characters are easy to relate to on a human level. At the same time, the specific characteristics of each species, and the ways their lives and cultures are built around them, are well thought-out. It's a colourful world, the like of which Lucasfilm is known for creating.

Difference #2: Female characters for protagonist AND antagonist. Statistically, I think it's safe to say the incidences of this happening in science fiction, and possibly in fiction as a whole, are not high. What is also interesting is that it feels less unusual that these two main characters are female because of the fact that they are not human. This is not to say there are no good, complex male characters. Our female antagonist finds a loyal and steadfast friend in a male co-protagonist, whose personal story is as compelling as hers. In case you're wondering if there is romance here, the short answer is no. This could be because they are of different species, and while there is more than enough ground for the possibility of inter-species relationships to be explored, no such romances actually form in the story.

These are the major differences. They are refreshing enough that I felt I was reading something special and unique, though I still got to go on the joy ride of reading a sci-fi epic. I really must emphasize that these are books for adults. There is violence and cruelty in this story, particularly in book 2. That said, I think this would fit well into the reading repertoire of many a Star Wars fan, and many sci-fi readers in general.

Thanks for reading, Blogger world :)!
 

February 24th, 2013:  Aang and the Beach of Time by ~Eseopia on deviantART

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Following Your Dreams

365 day project, # 31:


February 23rd, 2013:  Aang and Sketches by ~Eseopia on deviantART

Now to business.

Good Day Blogger world!

Following your dreams.  A lot of people - including reputable minds - are for this.  But lots of people see a problem.  Most of the time, it's to do with sacrificing the practical for your "dream".  I would like to weigh on this.

I'm sure you know the practical and the dream need not be in opposition - for some lucky people, they will be one and the same.  But I would go further to say that what is practical may be an integral part of achieving this dream.  We know they don't have to be opposed, but we do tend to see them in opposition, just as part of a narrative that we've come to accept "life".  Consider this - suppose follow your dream doesn't mean giving up that job at Tim Hortons to live your dream, but working overtime at Tim Hortons to save up the money to go to the school that will lead to the achievement of your dream?  Or working at Tim's while taking those classes that will ultimately lead to the achievement of your dream?  Or just working there long enough to save up the money to buy that plane ticket that will help you achieve your dream?  Perhaps what the Follow Your Dream-ers are saying, is that it's worth the extra work to achieve your dreams.  After all, it's entirely possible to work at Tim Hortons for the rest of your life and be "comfortable".

Having said that, I'd like to look at another thing we take for granted - that to achieve anything in life, you must suffer, sacrificing your physical and mental health for whatever that prize is at the end of the line.  There will be sacrifice, and pain, but are these the things that get you there?  Probably not.  Commitment would seem to be the thing that gets us there.  There is no law of nature that says your level of suffering is directly related to your level of success.  Also, while hard work is a very safe bet, it's perfectly legal for a lucky break to be part of your success story.  It's OK if you find a different way of getting there than most people.  Chances are you'll have to struggle somewhere along the line, so you might as well save your strength for that.  But staying committed seems like the best strategy.  

Finally, there are no rules as to what your dream has to be.  If you can actually be comfortable and happy working at Tim Hortons, there is no rule against it.  I find my dreams and goals hard to define sometimes.  I love making art - nothing will keep me from doing that.  I'd LIKE for it to be what I make my living on, because then I could spend more time doing it.  But I'll never not make art, so that's one thing I have.  At the same time, I know that's not all I want to do.  I won't digress to far on this - I'd just like to say there doesn't have to be just one way to achieve one's dream, and dreams don't have to take just one form.

Those are my thoughts on the subject.  If you're (understandably) a little uncertain about my expertise, you may want to hear what someone with some serious achievements to his name has to say:



'Till next time, Blogger world :)!

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Book Review: "Is There Life After Death?" by Anthony Peake

Book review # 2! I don't plan on always doing 2 books in a row, but I had reasons for doing so this time. Hope you enjoy!


I finished reading this book about 2 years ago, but it continues to be one of my favorites. I had originally picked it up off the sale table out of passing curiosity, thinking I knew what I'd find: anecdotes and ancient belief systems, but very little scientific proof regarding the afterlife (or lack thereof). What I found was a turning point in my understanding of quantum physics (which, I admit, had been next to nothing before this), accompanied by fascinating accounts of scientific investigation on this and related subjects. Anecdotes and information about various belief systems also make up the picture, and it is a very detailed picture in the end.


The range of subjects covered by this book is broad and varied, reaching to various parts of the world, history, and science. Unlike what I might have expected, this book doesn't shy away from conclusions or possibilities that may seem less than appealing to the reader. This is not a self-help or motivational book - it is a scientific study. That said, don't be surprised if thoughts of the Matrix come to mind, and you find yourself more interested in movies like Groundhog Day and Vanilla Sky. This author does a good job of keeping the reader's attention on some very complicated subject matter. You won't be a quantum physicist by the end of this, but you may have a better understanding of the scientific conclusions to be drawn on the subject.


While one goes in thinking to learn more about what comes after the end of life, this book has a lot to tell us about life itself, in terms of the nature of reality. You may find yourself thinking of everything a little bit differently, including time, matter, and your own psyche. The fact that the author is explaining things that the human brain does not have the capacity to perceive leads to that exciting feeling that you are learning something you're not supposed to know, which is definitely part of the overall appeal of this book.


I won't give away anything more, because the book does save its ultimate conclusion for the end. I will say that the eventual answer is very much theoretical - the best answer that science can come up with at the moment, but as plausible a conclusion as I've come across anywhere. This, of course, is only one part of what I got out of this book, and hopefully it will be as fascinating a read for you as it was for me.



February 22nd, 2013:  Birthday Effects... by ~Eseopia on deviantART



February 21th, 2013:  Beach Birthday Sunset by ~Eseopia on deviantART



February 20th, 2013:  Blackout at the Beach... by ~Eseopia on deviantART

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Book Review: Who is Ana Mendieta?

After giving it some thought, I'd like to make a little room in this blog for book reviews.  I have a fair number of books in my possession, many of which I am quite fond of.  This week, I'd like to introduce you to a recent favorite of mine - a graphic novel titled "Who is Ana Mendieta", the work of Christine Redfern and Caro Caron.

I was lucky enough, not only to see the original artwork for this graphic novel, but to have the chance to study it up close over a matter of about two months.  During this time, the panels were on display in the art gallery at which I work.  They told a compelling story in a cartoon style not quite like anything I'd seen before - elastic and raw, with so much punch and emotion I would almost forget it was all in black and white.  I found this format to be really effective at communicating the passionate and unapologetic nature of the story, and its heroine.

The novel itself reads as a biography of Ana Mendieta.  It focuses mostly on her years and work as an artist in the 70s and 80s, working in sculpture, film, and most notably her "earth-body" works.  It also focuses on her role in the feminist movement of the day, and the overall climate of that time in history.  While the biographical nature of the work, and the depiction of the influences surrounding Mendieta's life, make it seem at first like a snapshot of the time in which she lived, there is a story arc, which makes itself most clear toward the end.

A word of warning - this is a "graphic" novel in more than one sense.  Nudity and violence are not shied away from in the telling of this story, being as they are a significant part of it.  It is a very honest depiction, and the greater part of it is very beautiful.  Not gratuitous, but beautiful, brutal, and honest.  One of the big accomplishments of this novel, I think, is that there is so much focus on the beauty of Mendieta's life, such that it stays in the mind as strongly as the hardships and tragedy of it.

On either side of this story are longer pieces of text:  A forward by Lucy R. Lippard, and then an end part titled "Blind Spot - a note to readers".  At the very end is a newspaper-layout of articles giving more information on certain details of the story, illustrated with thumbnail cartoons from the main part of the novel.  Each of these sections holds interest, fleshing out the main narrative with smaller ones, using different formats to make it easier to take in piece by piece.  I am impressed by how well this technique works for this book.  It really is an accomplishment to be able to tell this story in a way that keeps the readers' attention, while providing the context of an incredibly complicated time in history.

Long story short, this book took me right in.  I wound up feeling as if I had a personal connection to this artist, whom I might otherwise never even have heard of.  The novel as a whole is fascinating and thoughtfully crafted, even as it delivers a hard emotional punch.  Not a book I'd recommend for all ages, but I feel it is important to have Ana Mendieta's story out there to be read like this.

Thanks for reading, Blogger world!  Before I go, the 365-part project continues :P -


February 19th, 2013:  Surrealist Jam in the Sun by ~Eseopia on deviantART


February 18th, 2013:  The Sun and Sands of Time by ~Eseopia on deviantART


February 17th, 2013:  Storm Before the Calm by ~Eseopia on deviantART

'Till next time!


Monday, May 27, 2013

Do I really have to sign up for everything?




Hello blogger world!

I'm trying to edit this entry to make it sound more civilized.  I am writing today with regards to the amount of signing up that is involved in job hunting these days.  Some places still accept a resume and cover letter and let you let that be that.  Others, as I may have mentioned before, have full-on psych exams to fill out so they can make a profile of you, to go with your resume of course.  Ideally, this makes it so that if you want to apply for multiple jobs, you can just select whichever ones you want and they do the rest.  What really bothers me is the number of passwords I have out there.

There are a number of things you may have to sign up for during your job hunt.  With some places, you just have to create a profile with the company itself.  This on its own can lead to quite a few profiles depending on where and how many places you apply.  Some companies hire through job search/hiring sites like CareerBeacon.com.  This can potentially cut back on the number of passwords you need to create, but only when applying for jobs at places that hire through the site.  And of course, you have to sign up for the site itself.

One thing that has become a little bit irksome for me is when I find a job I want to apply for on one of these sites, only to find that it's been posted by another, similar site, who is doing the hiring for said company.  In theory it's good to have profiles on 2 sites instead of one, but I've often found the second site to be a little more weakly structured, and honestly, it's just one more layer of 'security' I don't feel comfortable being compelled to deal with.

Beyond that, I recently discovered a new potential layer of password-guarded security.  While applying for jobs at Michael's (arts and crafts), I was required to create a profile with PeopleAnswers (the site that created the questionnaire I had to fill out for my Michael's).  Granted, this ultimately made it easier to apply for job openings, but it occurs to me that my information is getting spread around quite a bit in an age where information is a hot commodity.

So let's review:  There's the company itself one may have to sign up for, and the job search site that lead you to that company (and potentially the job search site that posted on that job search site on behalf of that company), and even, potentially, the company that created the questionnaire you must fill out in order to create a profile on the original company's site.  So far I haven't run across that many levels of passwords, but in theory, it could very easily happen.

On that note, it's easy to feel gypped when job searching.  I can't help thinking someone out there (probably a few someones) are making money on my efforts to find gainful employment.  I'd like to be making money too here.  Every site I have to sign up on starts looking like a password guarded information eater.  Maybe I should ditch the job hunt and start an internet job search engine.

So that's been my pet peeve of late.  Thanks for reading!  :)

'Till next time, blogger world!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Venturing into the Talent Industry




The game of catch-up continues.  In fact, what follows is a draft entry from a few months ago :P.  Enjoy!

Good Day Blogger world!

In addition to a few more entries to my picture-within-picture daily journal, I bring you another scenario from my job-searching experience.

I am creating a profile on Hennessey Casting.  This is fairly new experience for me, despite the fact that I've accumulated more than a few years of dance training.  I've been training as though I will ultimately audition for something, though my forays into actual auditions have been few as yet.

Understandably, Hennessey wants to know more about me than the typical recruitment site.  My dress size is something I'm going to have to do a little research on (I suspect they don't mean department-store vanity sizing).  There is also "Leg size".  I can only assume they mean length, and I'm uncertain where to start from.  Maybe they mean inseam.

So far this is kind of fun.  I get to talk about the things I like to do, like singing and dancing :).  I consider myself a competent singer, and years of training have given me dance abilities.  I'll have to make up a resume specifically for this - a res-CV of sorts.  I'll also have to get together some good photos of myself.  They need at least 2, and I know I at least have that many.  Hopefully I can give them a good idea of what I look like and what I do.

I'm non-union and self-represented.  Not sure what that'll do for my chances.  Doesn't exactly scream 'experience', but it's the truth.  The final multiple-choice question is "Are you human".  In any other context I'd take this as a security question, though in this case I suspect they recruit performing animals as well.

The last section to fill out is "More Wonderful Details about ME".  It says, "So, what's your 'thang'?  Fire Breathing?  Figure Skating?  Stunts?  Thirty hot dogs in under a minute?  I want to know!".  This section seems to be open to interpretation.  I try to think of what, specifically, a caster would be looking for.  Here's what I came up with:

"I am a visual artist, singer, and dancer with better-than-average flexibility.  I can do full splits, left or right leg, with front leg on 2 yoga blocks (full middle splits are also possible for me, but only after considerable warm-up).  I can bend backwards into bridge from a standing position."

I really ought to have paid more attention to this category of employment.  This is the first site like this that I've come across.  So far it seems very user-friendly.  Time will tell if it turns up anything, but it's not like I've had significantly better luck with other recruitment sites.  I'll have to explore more of those with you in future blog posts.  For now, I think I'll wrap this one up, hoping for some opportunities to come from my favorite sector - the cultural one.

Later Blogger world :)!

PS:  Taken aback that the Hennessey Casting website gives a non-existent physical address.  Went to all the trouble of signing up, so I guess I'll stay there a little while at least.  The twitter feed seems to have legit casting ops.  The phoney address is the only thing that throws me off, really.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

About Work From Home Ads And Affiliate Programs

Hello Blogger world!

Sorry for being in absentia :(.  I return with more of a a game of catch-up to play than ever, but play I shall!

February 6th, 2013

February 5th, 2013


February 4th, 2013


Fortunately I haven't been completely idle in my blog work.  I've been composing entries sporadically, one of which I finished today:

I've seen these ads, as you probably have, boasting $55/hour earnings working part time online.  I've checked this out a couple of times.  Never taken it so far that I can actually say how effective it is, but it appears to be some website that claims to make it easy to make money through the Amazon Affiliate program.  The sense seems to be that they take care of the technical stuff, so you don't have to be a web designer or some such.  This kind of thing seems to be cropping up everywhere, not just on facebook.  Sifting through local online classifieds, these ads are all I see in some categories.  They promise work-from-home opportunities with handsome part-time earnings.  With the Facebook ads, they even specify that they are looking to "fill positions" in my local area.  Maybe they are, but I'm finding myself doubtful that the Amazon Affiliate program needs people specifically working in certain areas for this kind of thing.

I've looked into the Amazon Affiliate program.  THAT seems legitimate.  That they had any part in those Facebook ads is something I doubt, but the program does exist.  It's something you can plug into a website or going online concern that you already have, not something you can start from scratch with and expect to have it work.  You need to have a "thing" already.  With the Amazon Affiliate program, you can run ads for products related to your content.  You can even have your own little "shop".  I've searched some videos on this.  Here are a couple of youtube videos to give you an idea of what the Amazon Affiliate program is like (They are both pretty realistic.  Despite the title pic of the first video, the narrator points out right off the bat that she doesn't make a lot of money with the Amazon Affiliate program, though it is enough to make it worth it for her.)





This is for avid bloggers and people who know how to get traffic to websites.  Having a pre-existing  following is what really makes this work.

What these ads seem to promise is to make this process easier for everyday people.  But can they really do that kind of work for you - generating a following and everything?  And even if they can, is it worth paying them, or putting your trust in them?

The Amazon program isn't the only affiliate program out there either.  There are more than a few big companies out there who are willing to pay ordinary people a little extra to advertise for them.  That's what this comes down to.  Businesses want advertising time.  It's what allows Youtube to remain a free service, and it's why events have sponsors.  We've had it for quite some time, but now people not necessarily in the biz can benefit in a small way.  Maybe that can even be a big way, if you've got the mind for it.

Where am I going with this?  Bottom line, I still don't trust these work-from-home ads, but I think they're cropping up everywhere because they're just inside the boundary of legal.  Kind of like pyramid schemes.  If I were interested in affiliate programs (and I'm not saying I'm not) and had a going online concern with a following, then I would go straight to one of the programs themselves.  I don't believe there needs to be a middle man if this is really going to work.