chantico: (Impatient)
Been a really productive couple of days. I credit HabitRPG, being that it was plucked straight from my "technological programs I wish existed" fantasies and made real.

First, I'm keeping up with an updated workload. The Higher Ups finally figured out a way to track production hours for the artists, using averages of our work times. It's not that bad, really. Some stuff that I do *really* fast is slotted to take a lot longer, some stuff I take longer on is expected faster, and they predict things to balance out so they don't really sweat it unless you are consistently under goals.

Second, got paid for a project I did a while back, which had not been collected due to my own laziness.

Third, finished an Album cover for B, an illustration I'm quite proud of, and I did it way fast-- five hours from sketch to completion. It's nice to see myself getting even faster . . . and getting better. My colors are stronger, my drawing better. I know, it should be expected with working my job, but I'd been plateaued for a while, and it looks like I've a level up in my future.

Fourth, finished all but one sketch for the coolest job I've gotten in a long while: botanical illustrations for a scientific paper. A new species has been discovered, and I get to do the plates for the introductory paper. Eeee! It's tough stuff, being so specific and detail oriented, but FUN.

And fifth, most importantly, I have finished the studies for Light. It's ready for me to start the painting process. And *that* deserves an entry to itself, but not right now because I have a car waiting to pick me up.

Huzzuh!
chantico: (Relieved)
Back is feeling a whole lot better today! I want to run out into the grass and wriggle and mow my lawn and clean my house and walk to the library! And I still can't, because healing requires patience and this is exactly what happened last week and look where that got me. Thhbbt. I solemn swear to protect my spine and give it the TLC it needs to make a full recovery.

Maybe it feels better because I took care of the gargoyle (or one of them) perched on my shoulders. Anxiety and procrastination are such close bedfellows, and the one has been driving the other for too long in regards to Origins this year. I just can't do it-- I have had too rough a winter and I am too damn poor to manage operating a booth this year. I wish it were just a matter of not exhibiting, but I'm supposed to have done the picture for the Artist's Section of the Con book, and . . . it just ain't happen. You guys, I missed a deadline. I missed SEVERAL. And in my stubborness that no, I WILL go, I WILL finish this piece of art, they're now close to print and have no picture.

Dick move, Avery.

Guilt aside, admitting defeat is the best decision I could have made, and I feel so much lighter for having sent that email off.

****

Random thought of the day: Pinterest and I have a complicated relationship. I like it, and it is pretty, and easy to visit, but I don't do so very often. I get this little trickling dread-stream moving through me when I'm there, despite the pastel mochachino feel-good flower madness of the place. Tumblr, on the other hand, I am on *all the time* despite a design team that seems to hate users and the most unintuitive, nonfunctional operating system I have had the displeasure of using. Why do I relax there?

Because, I realized, I only want to visit Pinterest when I have money. It is a site about consumerism, aspiration, *wanting*, the pursuit of perfection in all things. Pinterest is about the life you'll never have (and can't afford). Underneath that polished exterior it reeks of a sort of dishonest, competitive desperation, even if the people who use it don't fit those adjectives. For the most part what are people pinning? Products, or places that you need lots of money to visit, or projects that you need the luxury of not working to do or maintain. Recipes with expensive ingredients or for parties that are hard to afford. Clearly not *every* pin falls into this, and I don't blame the users-- I don't even blame the network. It's like . . . Pinterest is the garden, all of the toxic societal expectations of women and affluence are the fertilizer, and what has bloomed is a beautiful flower that I'm allergic to.

Tumblr, for all it's structural faults, is full of ridiculousness and messy fandom stuff and people circulating lots of art of *all* kinds and funny things and dumb things and it's just . . . fun. Once I got the hang of it, popping in over there is entering the coffee shop where my favorite geeky, arty college friends hang out. We squabble and talk deeply about things and are interrupted by someone doing a break dance routine to a dubstep Legend of Zelda cover. But most of all, it's *earnest*. Pinterest is about the life you want to live. Tumblr is the life you're living now, in all it's stupidity.

Though I still miss LJ the very most.
chantico: (Weak)
My back is *so* fucked up. On Sunday night I had to sleep upright in our armchair, because the muscles were spasming so hard I was vomiting in my sleep, and I'd wake up choking on stomach acid. It gets a little better with massage and an adjustment (and Flexeril/a massive dose of Ibuprofen)but that doesn't seem to last. And of course, this is the week I have to get the apartment sparkling clean before our move-out inspection, which *should* involve all the nasty, hard work chores like scrubbing the floors. I don't know what to do because it ain't happening. Though the pain and stiffness is markedly better today, for stupid reasons: laying in bed last night, I had the misfortune to sneeze. Under the high tenor of my screech, I heard (and felt) a pop in my lower vertebrae. Immediately felt like a pressure valve had been opened. Go figure.

***

Been listening to audiobooks as a way to keep myself moving throughout the day-- Cat Valente's Habitation of the Blessed and Les Mis are the two on my iPod right now, both of which work better for me as a recitation than as text. Habitation is not Valente's best book. It starts off very slow, and the language, while pretty, has a lot of "this thing is like this thing" repetition. The poetry of it works better when read aloud. I don't know if it's eminently rude to muse on how I'd "fix" the narrative to make it work better for me, so I'll refrain, but I'm thinking about it. Les Mis is good background noise. Dumas is so frickin' wordy (talk about a long set up!) that I can tune in and out and not feel like I've missed overly much as far as plot goes. I'm enjoying it, mind you, just not hanging on every word.

***

Projects at work are mind numbing. Lots of specific layouts (that don't work in the format and style requested), lots of nitpicky authors changing their minds about what details should or should not be included, lots of instructions that are nigh unreadable due to bad spelling, bad handwriting, and bad faxing. Also, lots of flat out crazy. And requesting impossible scenarios/styles. And asking for too much to be packed into one page. I have had a personal breakthrough about my cotton-stuffed head at the end of the day: that is not a failure on my part, either mental or physical. It is an expected result of doing some serious creative heavy lifting. It's okay to be tired after translating semi-literate babble into english, and then into a cohesive visual language, and to do not one, not two, but around 10 illustrations like this every day.

I need a vacation.

****

Money sucks. Send winning lottery ticket.
chantico: (Default)
Financial troubles might be easing so my depression is too. Not counting those chickens before the hatch, though. j has yet to find a full time teaching gig somewhere and while we can survive with him getting substitute pay there is *no* wiggle room and no place to start building up savings. He's slowly going through his comics collection and using a website that helps evaluate worth based on current market and condition of the books, and even if we get half of what the estimated value is, that's a good chunk of the down payment on the house-- or survival money. It all depends on his job situation.

I should have gone out for Lotus this weekend, but getting myself to do anything when I'm not at work is hard right now. The depression isn't, like, weepy, nihilistic, I hate myself depression. I just don't want to do anything but fuss with my music project, play TF2 ,and read fanfic. I do get up to clean sometimes, so hey! And I went out Sunday and played bingo, because what the hell. I love bingo.

***

Every time I think the fandom bug has bitten me for the last time, another one comes along. JCA was my last fan freak out, and that was getting on 10 years ago, so I was pretty sure I'd grown out of it, but, oh, TF2, where did you come from? I love you! Writing ideas! Fan art ideas! Fanmix ideas (and have made a couple of those). Porn ideas! It's glorious.

****

Counted up my finished projects at work today: I have completed 44 books and covers since starting a year and change. Jeezum pete, no wonder I haven't had time for a lot of my own art! FORTY FOUR complete books, most of them at 10 illustrations a pop. That's a lot of drawing.
chantico: (Pleasent)
I really have to thank Andrew and Sarah for informing me of the proper way to make white tea, because it is delicious when not scalded.

--I'm too busy again. Where for art thou, hours of the day? Work, NaNo, freelancing, working with the Art center, running a game, playing in a game, trying to relax and then handle all my personal projects. Urghgh. It's my own damn fault, but that doesn't mean it ain't exausting.

--Speaking of Nano, it is coming along (mostly) swimmingly. Chapter one, which clocks in at like 9000 words (the book is going to be 'round 150000 words in total, also, it needs trimming like whoa) went great but chapter two is a hopeless mess. It's all I can do to not take a hacksaw to it already. Every time I sit down to write I'm attempting to avoid meandering, making sure to set a goal for every hundred words: this needs to happen in these hundred, this in the next. Make it so. My biggest issues in writing are definitely pacing and passiveness in my characters, so those are what I'm targeting with this novel in particular.

--Work is still splendid. As soon as some of my books release I'll put up the art. Actually, I'm debating with myself whether it's right to polish up some of the work for my portfolio, or if I should just start from scratch on pieces specifically for that purpose. The problem is that the work I do has to be quick, so it's not as polished as I'd like, and I don't usually get to color it. If I wanted any to make the portfolio, I'd need to put some extra work in, but the finished product would not match what was actually in print. What do you guys think? Worth it? Because I've done some pieces with really strong compositions, and I want to get my children's work up here and out there in general, but, eh, perfectionism.


Oh, life. You are boring, but in the best of ways.

Champions!

Jun. 2nd, 2011 11:30 pm
chantico: (Bad Ass)
All the jobs I have held in my short adult life have been retail or food service positions ranging from the abomidable to the entertaining, but they have all been underscored with the way familiar to anyone low-income attitude of "You are incredibly replaceable, so *tow the line*". Places like the local movie theatre and the ice-cream shop I worked at were unsurprisingly the worst; anytime you have a business designed to take advantage of an abundant and youthful workforce, you're going to have a meat grinder environment. Even my nice downtown retail positions had the same problem, being highly desired by a great many people and dependant, really, on how much the boss liked you. As one of the few people I know who actually enjoyed retail, *especially* the customer service angle, this was incredibly frustrating. I was and am very good at making people feel welcome to a store and valued whether or not they made a purchase, which I firmly believe is a cornerstone of getting repeat customers (though getting me to be so chipper about cleaning is a little harder, I will admit). I still miss My Favorite Retail Job, but, um, disagreements with the manager there meant it was clear I was not welcome back after I took a school-related sabbatical. I had essentially lost my place, and that was a deep shame.

It isn't just my personal experience, either, but the experience of my family; of watching my mother, my sister, and my many of my friends be abused and dismissed as a valuable part of the workforce. Others have more elegantly dissected the class issues involved with this, but I feel it worth pointing out that one component in impoverished folks staying that way is that the feeling of being replaceable and worthless in a work place is deeply ingrained within service industry jobs. (Skilled blue collar labor is also devalued for not being intellectual enough, or for being antique). Confidence seems to be one of those invisible class keys to unlocking the passage between low income and middle class, even middle and upper middle class, and it is hard to be confident when you know what a replaceable part you are.

All of this is a very long winded run-up to this fact: I have a job, and I was desired for it. That is both an exhilarating and disturbing experience.

First, well deserved squee: OMG. YOU GUYS. You are now reading the job of a staff illustrator, meaning I have a DESK and there is a SALARY and it is easily *double* what I have ever made in my life. AND BENEFITS ON TOP. Like all the cherries, ever, and sprinkles. life insurance. 401K. Health, vision, dental, o, hark, the holy trinity is among us!

I have a secure job doing what I love with all of those mythical grown-up things that make life just the little bit less scary. And this luscious sundae of security, this dream-wrapped dessert of employment, is drizzled with the sweetest sauce of all: they *wanted* me. I wasn't pushed through the process, but the interview and applicaton really seemed more like impatient formalities. They saw what I could do, and valued me for it.

Gosh.

But when I am done a'skipping with well-deserved glee, even though I am still so happy and so pleased with myself and making plans about how I will save for a house and pay off my debts and all will be rainbows, a more critical eye is open, and marvels: I am SO very grateful, beyond the grace of a thankful and confident craftsperson. Some base part of me is grateful like a dog fed real meat. I used the word mythical up there, to describe benefits that are taken for granted in so many professional spheres, and the idea that I have landed a slaary at all overwhelms the fact that I still make less than most bartenders. I am *not* complaining about the position; far from it, especially since it opens me up to focus on fine art and my own paintings, and turning a profit from those as well (what is this "work-life balance" you speak of? I am suspicious of your implications that art can be personal and fun.). I am not turning a blind eye to the fact that there is something deeply wrong in our work culture when these things that are necessary to living a financially sound life seem like mana from heaven.

Tonight, though, I'm just going to swallow the blue pill, and be pleased as punch with my awesome fucking new job. That I totally earned, yo, by putting in a lot of hours at the drawing board, and countless more pushing myself mentally to not give up, not ever.
chantico: (Lethargic)
Fall finally seems to be meandering it's way into Bloomington, and I'm delighted. This is my favorite time of year on mnay counts: I love Halloween, the cooler weather is a great boon, the autumn colors, and, of course, the fashion. Fall is th time of year I get to pair my short skirts with my cute jackets and tights, scarves with peep-toe pumps, boots and jeans; when I can wear my hair up, down, in a ponytail; and when the swishiness of long skirts echo the windswept leaves. I am ignoring the fact that popular fashion includes so many ridiculous 80's silhouettes this year. Also, tiny vests: could be cool if they didn't cut curvy girls off at the waists and give the distinct impression that they been ravaged by a deranged seamstress.

There has been lots of art. Some of it can be seen here, here and here, if you wish. There's been the general weirdness of being out of school when everyone else is returning, though less of that than I thought there would be.

Also, I appear to have secured a job that A. pays my bills and then some, B. Doesn't interfere with art time, C. does not include me leaving the house. I am pleased with this development.
chantico: (Panicked)
July was an odd month. It didn't have the internal panic of June. I worried, and worked, and sat in a kind of haze from which things and people came and went. I mostly I didn't pay attention, hid in my house and hauled myself from project to project, kicking and screaming all the way. August doesn't have that feeling. You know how August feels?

AAAAAUUUUGHHH!!

OMGI AM LEAVING IN A MONTH ARE MY BILLS PAID WHAT ARE MY TRAVEL ARRANGEMENTS WHAT HAVE I FORGOTTEN WHERE'S MY PASSPORT WHEN AM I GETTING MY VISA WHAT ABOUT TEXTBOOKS AND JESUSCHRISTTHEARTSHOWAIIIIIIIEEEEE!

Yeah. That about sums it up.

Speaking of which, this Sunday, 2:00 PM, I'll be having a fundraising Art Show at my aunt's mansion-on-the-hill. There will be cookies and lemonade and a pool. And art. That you could buy. I'll be offering prints of some of my work that you've seen, some you haven't, and a whole lot of original watercolors plus some other things I scrape together. Some of you have heard of this, but since I am terrified-- like seriously nightmare terrified-- that no one will show up, I'll post it again. Directions, for those needing them, can be provided through AIM, e-mail, calling, or an LJ post I'll make tommorrow.

Now . . . back to work, panic, more panic, and more work.

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