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Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Definition of Art: Perspective

Big Heart of Art - 1000 Visual Mashups
Big Heart of Art - 1000 Visual Mashups by qthomasbower through CC Licensing 

A girl tells me she isn't an artist...
...but she coordinates her outfits each day.
...but she paints her nails.
...but she has legible handwriting.
...but she puts on make-up.
...but she spends an hour on her hair in the morning.
...but she makes her own lunch.
...but as far as I'm concerned she is art.

The introduction pretty much sums up my whole point: perspective. Timmmmyboy was a  guest speaker for ds106 where he gave a sort of editorial on creativity. While listening to his editorial, I took some notes and took in my reactions. Instead of a normal blog post, I'm going to give these quips and reactions to things that were suggested.

Hungry therefore creative.  Skinny therefore creative. What happens after someone gains weight? Do they lose their creativity. Also, skinny people aren't always hungry. Us fat guys are. So, the claim doesn't quite seem logical.

I was a night shift worker for five years and I did tend to be more creative at work than at home. In fact, the main reason I made a twitter years ago was so that I could save song lyrics. I would often think up lines while I was working and not be able to keep them. After getting twitter, I could quickly tweet them and they'd be there when I got home to put into whole songs.

I tend to be creative when I'm emotional. It could be very common. I think that's why there's so many songs about love and heartbreak.

We tend to define it as drawing, painting and sculpting, but there's also culinary arts, martial arts, make up, singing, dancing, music, writing, and even thinking.

As soon as you generate a thought, you are creative. Even if you don't know how to express it, you've made art. If you can't express it, you can still enjoy it.

When I was 12, I used to fake how long the sound of my voice was. I thought girls would be more attracted to me if they thought I was going through puberty (I'm not joking, that was completely logical to me 16 years ago). Now, Justin Bieber shrieks like a banshee and middle school girls love him for it. The difference? Perspective. If only I had a YouTube channel back then I could have not screwed up my voice.

My personal art styles: martial arts, 3-d painting (as in painting miniatures, statuettes and so on), singing, clarinet, saxophone, a little piano, I own a guitar and bass but I suck, dancing, writing, lyrics, culinary arts, and unfortunately a whole lot of thinking.

I think one thing that is important to do is to make a link in your brain between creativity and problem solving. Sometimes I feel like we're in the great age of giving up. I don't know how often I have seen someone get stumped by something and then just give up and leave things unfinished. I know people who have left blank answers on multiple choice tests. A little creativity is quite useful for finding solutions, even if on total accident or by chance. 

Tuesday, October 25, 2011


Train Sleeper

I decided to do the Your very own Spubble assignment from ds106 in the visual category. Although I've already done a visual post, I decided to make another because this sounded like fun.

First, I had to select a picture. I was originally thinking of using a picture of me playing bass guitar but couldn't come up with a caption. I looked through other pictures of me and decided to go with this one. I knew I had to use it and make a joke about playing Angry Birds. This picture is of me riding the train home from school. I was playing Angry Birds on my iPhone when all of a sudden I felt this person on my shoulder. I actually was so surprised by it that I shot a bird backwards out of the slingshot. I thought it was really funny so I snapped a picture. The look on my face is due to the fact that I'm trying not to bust out laughing about the whole situation. Although this sort of thing happens a lot in Japan, this was the first time it had happened to me. She slept on my shoulder for close to 30 minutes. I was hoping she had not missed her train station but she woke up in time it seems. I've noticed that after taking the trains for a while you kind of develop a "station sense."

So, given the situation, I thought it would make a funny Spubble. I downloaded the picture to my desktop and then loaded it to Picnik. Picnik has some fun photo editing options. The only problem I ran into is I couldn't get layers to go on top of each other unless I did them in order. Basically, I first typed the text and then tried to put the speech bubble under it. If there is a way to do it, I was too derp to find it. So, I deleted the text and rewrote it and put it over the speech bubble.

After it was finished I saved it to my desktop and uploaded it to my flickr. Then I typed this junk out and now you're reading it. Fin.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Digital Storytelling Assignments

We have to do 6 total digital storytelling assignments.  There are 8 different categories.
  • Visual
  • Design
  • Audio
  • Web
  • Writing
  • Video
  • Mashup
  • Fanfic
Try to put them in different categories but it is ok to put two of them in the same category.

The due date is the end of the semester, Wednesday, November 30th (but if you do it now you can just float through the rest of the time <(^_^)>).

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Midterm: Audio (How Times Have Changed)

Napster logo

A lot can change in just a short amount of time. For years we were all paying for music outright. Sure, we didn't think about not paying for the music on the TV or radio, but you had to buy a TV or a radio and most places don't have local music channels (meaning one would have to pay for cable TV). Then, around the turn of the century, something beautiful happened. We were given free access to audio. It was a big shock to record companies at the time as they all scrambled to say it was illegal when it was, in fact, completely legal.  It would have only been illegal if Napster made money off of our downloading. Think of it this way, when you buy a CD as a present for your friend, your friend doesn't have to pay anything. Napster just turned us all into gift givers.  Unfortunately, since the people who have money are the ones who make the laws that force us into giving them more money, it wasn't long before Napster went away. It came back as a pay to download site similar in function to iTunes. Napster's blog recently mentioned that it is merging with Rhapsody which I believe is the Real Player equivalent to iTunes. Unfortunately, it is more accurate to say that Napster is being absorbed and will be completely gone after a 12 year history. Another blog article on the subject can be found here.

On a fun side note, my high school firewalled, but they didn't do a very good job because we just typed and completely circumvented it.

Even though Napster didn't stay a free download service for long, it caused a series of similar programs to come into fold. The next few years gave us Kazaa, WinMX, Limewire, Frostwire, Morpheus and so on (many of which have been shut down as well). As internet connections got faster, people started sharing larger and larger files. Although music is pretty much at the core of internet downloading. 

As I said, the recording industry launched a full attack to the best of its ability against p2p file sharing, but it was not without deep criticism. Artists who were against downloading got a very heavy negative image. Case in point, Metallica. One of the most beloved bands of the last 30 years lost a lot of fans and suffered serious damage to their image over their opposition of Napster. This is how fans reacted to it:

Warning: Strong Language

Not all recording artists responded in this way. Although very few publicly condoned p2p file sharing, many were indifferent. The few who were open were some small-time artists who used these programs to spread their work and gain notoriety that way. Disturbed apparently said they don't care if we download their songs, they just want people to show up to their concerts. "Weird Al" Yankovic made a very good satire on one of his albums:

This song was available as a free download on Weird Al's website.
The song was popular enough to get placed on his greatest hits CD.

Even though the direct p2p sharing programs are always under fire and usually end up gone before too long, the spirit of the downloader lives on. File hosting and file streaming sites are the key ways to get songs now. Most artists have no problem with their songs being on YouTube, but there are sites that can extract the audio from a YouTube video and convert it into an mp3 file. There are also sites that just have a huge amount of storage for downloaders. The key is where the site is made or hosted. Different countries have different copyright laws (or in some cases, none at all). Most surviving streaming or hosting sites exist in these countries for that very purpose. Sometimes you have to dig your way through some Chinese text, but you can always find what you're looking for.

So, where does this all lead to?  You can kill Napster. You can kill all the other programs.  What you cannot kill is the idea. Ideas are infectious. Ideas are immortal. In this way, downloading audio on the internet has become another hydra whose heads sprout more with each one that's cut off. 

In closing, I'll tell an ironic story. Two years ago I heard a girl say that she had never used any free download program for music. We all gave her that "yeah, right" reaction but she responded with "I have iTunes and my father's credit card."

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Mr. Dangerfist's Four Icon Challenge

We're trying to learn how to use this ds106 thing and its a bit murky. I've decided to start with the four icon assignment. I scribbled these out in MS Paint because I don't make enough money to so much as look at photoshop or buy a Mac. Also, I did this in class quickly to see if I could simply "learn by doing."

It basically works like dailyshoot, but instead of taking a picture you make a piece of artwork.

Anyway, can you guess what the movie is?

Thursday, October 6, 2011

How To Do the Stuff We're Supposed to Do (CC licensed photo)

How to add the photo from flickr using CC licensing.
  • Go to
  • Use the Search box to look for the type of photos you're interested in.
  • photo
  • Then, click Advanced Search.
  • photo
  • Scroll down and click the box for   then click Search.
  • photo
  • Select any photo.
  • photo
  • Click Share and then select Grab the HTML/BBCode.
  • photo
  • Copy all the stuff written in the box.
  • photo
  • From your blog update screen, click the box that says HTML above the area where you are typing.
  • photo
  • Find where you want the picture to appear and then paste the HTML code.
  • photo
  • When you go back to Compose the image will appear.
  • photo
  • Type the following: Image: (photo's name) by (photographer's name) through CC licensing.
    (Like I've shown at the bottom of this blog post)
  • Make (photo's name) a link to the flickr page of the image.
  • photo
  • Make (photographer's name) a link to their flickr photostream.
  • photo
  • From the photo's page, click Some rights reserved in the lower right.
  • photo
  • Copy the address of the page that comes up, use that for the link where your blog says CC licensing. 
  • photo
  • One problem with embedding the photo in the html is that sometimes it won't let you go past it in Compose mode.  The way to get around this is to add <br/> in the HTML mode after where the embedded portion is.
  • photo

The end result will look like this.
Image: Puppies by niallkenedy through CC licensing

Stay tuned for my How to Embed Videos step by step post.

Embedding Stuff Testing

Not embedded video.

Toyota Motor Triathlon Race Car Concept

Embedded video
Image: Toyota Motor Triathlon Race Car Concept by Ian Muttoo using CC licensing 

Monday, October 3, 2011

Profiles of Artists on Social Media

Facebook, Twitter, and Deviantart are three of the biggest ways for artists to spread their work on the internet.  I would like to discuss two particular artists who use these services to reach their fans and customers.

First is Felicia Day.

  • Author and star of webseries: The Guild
  • Cameos, bit parts, and recurring roles on television such as Buffy the Vampire Slayer, House M.D., and Eureka
  • Co-star of original web miniseries Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog
  • Voice acting for games such as Fallout: New Vegas and Dragon Age II
  • Vocalist for the songs (Do You Wanna Date My) Avatar and Game On
  • Is absolutely adorable at any and all times
Felicia, the Queen of the Internet, uses pretty much every form of social media there is. Her web series, The Guild originally ran on YouTube where it gained enough popularity that she was able to get sponsorship for the series from its second season on. Felicia has a facebook profile, but she treats it more like a fan page. This was the same way she treated her old myspace page. She is, however, a very active user of twitter. As seen in this video, maybe a little too active on twitter. She uses her tweets to announce projects she's working on and the release dates of those projects. She also does occasionally respond to tweets from fans (I personally got one a couple weeks ago). Another way to reach her fans is through the game, World of Warcraft. On The Guild's main site there is information on how to find the server and guild that the cast of the show plays on. Many people have joined that guild just to interact with the actors from the show and I can tell you from first hand experience that they are a total laugh riot (and she is a total potty-mouth).

Next up is Wen Yu Li
  • Lead art designer for Anima Studios
  • Does commission work on request
  • All around super cool guy who actually let me interview him for this project
Wen, or Wen-m as he's known on deviantart and the Anima forums, is an American artist who works for a Spanish company as well as does commission work for people from pretty much anywhere on the planet.  The key to Wen's current success is deviantart (which I often read as "devian tart" which makes me hungry for pastry). The head of Anima Studios saw Wen's work on deviantart and asked him to be an artist for his RPG project and ultimately Wen also became the lead artist for the miniatures line based on the RPG (some of you might remember two miniatures I posted a couple weeks ago for the dailyshoot about the color yellow, the one with the sniper rifle was his original design). 

The process of making the art is pretty simple. Wen and Carlos, the head of Anima Studios, chat on MSN messenger (morning in Wen's time, night for Carlos) and discuss what the character is like and any specific features he or she will have. Sometimes Wen is given free reign on what to design. Wen spends about 4 to 5 days making the image and then sends it to Carlos via ftp (file transfer protocol). The final approved artwork is given a release date usually intended to build up expectations for the final book and/or miniature associated with that artwork. Wen's commission work runs pretty much the same way. People drop him a note on deviantart and they discuss what should be in the image, a deadline, and a price. 

I feel that the main reason deviantart is superior to a lot of other art sites is because it lets people interact with each other whereas other sites seem to just be bland photo galleries with no personality at all. I have friends on my deviantart (shameless self-promotion) that I don't even have on facebook. Deviantart allows artists and art enthusiasts to find each other, share work, buy prints, and just talk to each other all built seamlessly together.

While most of the interview was weaved into the above paragraphs, I'd like to keep these last two parts in his own words.

In an alternate reality without the internet, how do you think your life would be? Would you still be a professional artist?
i think i would, like how artists tried to get jobs before, going to companies and showing artwork to them in person. 

Anything else you'd like to say on the use of the internet to spread your art or any social media you use in your career?
It makes some part of my work much easier, and enables some parts that would have been impossible other wise. like working remotely for an oversea company, or being able to send them an image in minutes, as opposed to a week in postal mail. 

To finish it off, I'll give you some samples that show the sheer variety of Wen's work and talent (taken from his previously linked to deviantart).

I always loved this dress. I asked Wen years ago if I could use this design for a wedding dress for whomever I end up marrying to wear. He probably thought I was joking.