Be Better: Canva

Since I plan on starting to regularly post on multiple websites, such as facebook, instagram, and flickr (with mixed success as of yet).. I knew I needed something to help streamline image processing.  I had heard of Canva and am deciding to give them a try.  I went through all of their learning tutorials, because I figured I might as well know how to properly use the program, and because I thought I might learn a thing or two about design (the first is true the second is debatable).  But, I think that for someone without an art background, you probably would learn some fundamentals of good design, such as utilizing white space, or how to pair fonts.  But I personally recommend anyone using Canva to take the hour (I’m not even sure if it took me this long to take all 30 tutorials, but I suppose you should take long enough to actually learn what they’re teaching) and do all of them.  Each one has at least one good tip, or instructions on how to use the program, including short cuts to make it even faster!

Right now, I’m trying to design my wedding invitations, and it’s actually going really well.  I’m sure I’ll share them on here when they are done.  But things that I really like so far about Canva include the variety of fonts for free, and the shapes.  Oh man, do I love those shapes they provide!  Being able to upload my own photos, and quickly and easily turn them into Pinterest worthy blog photos is super exciting.  This is by no way endorsed by Canva by the way, I’m by no way at that kind of level.  I hope to be able to utilize Canva more often for photo editing and prepping, instead of using Photoshop.  I took about 10 minutes and managed to whip this image up.  So, this is my first official image I’ve put out that I designed using Canva.  Still my original photo though.

Does anyone else use Canva?  If so, do  you think it makes processing images faster than more traditional editing software?

sweatereyes

 

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Be Better: February Review

So after my first “month” of blogging, and trying to schedule and plan better, how have I done?

Obviously this is being posted on a Monday, and.. well I’m not supposed to be posting on a Monday.  This *should* have been posted last Thursday.  So, why didn’t it?  To be  honest, I think I need to work on my discipline.  It’s not that I don’t *want* to be posting, and writing.. it’s just that it is really easy not to.  So here I am, last day of the month, and lets just say I’m happy that this is a leap year.  The extra day will WILL mean that I will accomplish some of my goals this month.

GOALS:

  1. Finish Mermaid Doll – not done
  2. Complete Four Motivational Pages – two out of four
  3. Have rough copy sketched for four pages of comics – uhhh
  4. Update profile photos on various websites – okay to put off for now
  5. Create business colour scheme and start branding – yes!
  6. Donate hand-crafted items to Charity event at work – yes!
  7. Establish AND follow blog schedule – uhhh.. let’s talk about that

1: So where am I?  Well, I’m not finished the Mermaid Doll.. gah gah gah.  I still need to finish painting the box and I think that she needs a few details added too.  This is going to be my main project for tonight.

2: I’ve completed two motivational pages, and have a third sketched out.  I don’t think it’s reasonable to think I will finish this one AND complete a fourth one.  But, four was a bit ambitious (that would have made it one a week), and they are a bit more labour intensive than I had originally thought.. though drawing these I find very relaxing and when I’m not in the mood to create, but know I should, these are an easy way to get something done.  That being said, next month I may only put two on the goals list so I can make more time for other projects.

3: Comics.. ahh.  I really need to just DECIDE what comic I’m even working on.  One day it’s Thalia, the next it’s the Transit of Valari… obviously I can’t work on both at the same time.  That being said, this is probably my ONLY goal this month that I didn’t make any headway on.

4: Okay, so I haven’t updated my profile pictures yet.. but I have sorted and backed-up a tonne of photos on my computer.  I just ordered new glasses last night, so maybe I’ll wait for them to come to take some new photos.

5: Yay, something I can say I’ve actually done!  I’ve used Canva, an online tool that I will be talking about more next week (err later this week), to start creating my brand template.  I have a new colour scheme picked out, and fonts, and even some design elements.  So one thing I can proudly cross off my list for the month!

6: Where I work (Michaels Arts and Crafts), has an employee supported Charity called Michaels Cares.  The program is help associates in times of severe need, such as life threatening illness, death in the family, or your house burning down.  This year, I really wanted to support the program because I know a friend of mine had to use it last year.  While I haven’t talked much about Gaeten on my blog before, he was a true inspiration to me and his loss is something I still feel.. I’ve been seriously considering writing a post about him, so that’s all I’ll say for now…  But it’s been a big month of fundraising, and I’ve purchased a lot of cupcakes in support.  I’ve donated a few items into the silent arts and craft auction, the topic of my next What I’m Working On post.

7: The Big One.  Did I make a schedule I can actually follow?  Did I follow it?  Kind of and kind of.  I love my written schedule and it fits to nicely on a half page.  But, I also have to admit that last week I didn’t technically get two posts out (or even one), though this post is still within my week (since my schedule runs Tuesday to Monday).  What is working is picking specific things to write about in advance so I’m not racking my brain trying to remember what I’ve done recently.  Now I just need to dedicate myself to FOLLOWING the schedule to a T.  Just remember, Discipline not Motivation.

So, to keep my silly goals of posting, expect my next post later tonight.  After today, I *should* be returning to regular scheduling.

Be Better 2016: Digital Scheduling

Okay, so week two of blogging schedule.  I mentioned last week that I had already adjusted my schedule, but have to admit that this week I’m going to follow last week’s (because I uh.. didn’t write my posts in time this week.  Honesty).  I’m going to use the excuse that I had a week off of work, so I’m allowed to relax once in a while… but relaxing so early into my Be Better 2016 Plan is probably not the best idea for me either.  Regardless, I’m still pushing forward and doing my best.  Last week I shared how I’m attempting to schedule blogging, and plan blogging ahead better so I don’t have to think of what to write about, or feel forced to create so that I can post about something I did that very same day.  I’ve introduced a highlighter to my blog plan, and the colour makes me happy.  Now I just need to figure out how to carry my blog schedule with me more consistently.

But, the blog schedule isn’t the only list I’ve been trying to maintain for the huge life goals I’ve started working towards.  I want to get more consistent cleaning done at home, healthier eating, plus all the little side projects and ideas (all on top of being an artist and working a full time job).  As many of you already know, balancing all of this is really hard, and it’s become apparent to me that trying to create hand-written lists and keep them all up is damn near impossible (for me at least, and I really like lists).  So, I have finally made the step into the 21st century, and last year I got a smartphone all of my own.  I have to admit, technology has gotten pretty cool.  As soon as I got the phone I started looking into time-management and scheduling apps, I tried out a few but decided on one that was king of them all: ColorNote.  I lets you make check-able checklists and test files.  It has a calendar view, and lets you re-new lists on a regular basis (such as daily, or every Tuesday).  I also just learned from looking on their website that you can also re-name the colours so that you stay organized with what each colour is for (nifty).  ColorNote is by far the most customize-able list and schedule app I can find (that’s free too of course), it just takes a bit of time to figure out how to use it.

So my calendar view is a sea of little yellow dots which are for daily tasks.  I’m trying to keep it simple, and not over-divide work or make lists that are a mile long, so I’ve decided that for each day of the week I only have my work schedule (or my usual work schedule), laundry, dishes, cat litter, 15min tidy, plus one room focus.  I think this is a good way to start, since it doesn’t load up any one day with cleaning.  I also have two checklists that stay on the first day of the month for monthly goals, one list for art and creative business goals, and one for house and personal goals.

Over the past week, I’m also thrilled that my partner fixed our internet, so my phone can finally connect to our WIFI at home!  This means I can re-work my morning routine, and hopefully come up with something that works better for me (waking up 20 minutes before I have to leave, and spending about 10 of those minutes laying on the couch has proven to not be the best approach).  I’m going to leave you today with a reminder that it is still winter in Ontario and a sneak peak to what I’ve been working on.

 

 

Be Better 2016: Blog Schedule

Alright, so this is my first post from my new blogging schedule.  As I previously mentioned, I’ve been working on making a proper blog and online schedule, and dedicating myself to finding the best ways to implement it.  You can’t obtain your goals unless you have a good plan.  Blogging and getting myself online is only one aspect of my New Years Resolution, but I’m trying to take things one step at a time, and really iron out each step so that I can actually reach my goals.

So I’ve spent a few weeks and have made a blog schedule.  It’s a completely different approach to blogging for me.. which is why I think it might work.  While I’m definitely using more digital means of keeping track and reaching other life goals (something I plan on talking about in my next Be Better post), I decided to do something more visual and hand-done for blogging.  I picked a cute notebook (one I already had), and divided the page in half.  I have a simple legend, and plan on seeing more and more highlighter throughout the book.  It’s weird but I realized that based on my schedule, it makes way more sense to make my blog week go from Tuesday-Monday.  Once I decided that, the schedule made a lot more sense to me, and just sort of fell into place.  I’ll be sure to update on the success and alterations I make the schedule and how I’m keeping track of it.  I’ve already slightly adjusted the lay-out of the weekly checklists for the coming week, which I’ll share next week.

Did I mention that I’ve finally joined Instagram?  I have to admit, I think me and Instagram are going to be friends.

So while I’m posting this a little late for my Thursday deadline, it’s still in before midnight and therefor a success for following my blogging schedule!  Tomorrow I will be posting an update on what current art I’m working on.

In a World without an End or Beginning.

Hello World.  After a rather extended break, I have returned.  I’ve struggled with exactly how to start back up again online, and I’ve decided to keep true to one of my life mottos and just start.  But that isn’t to say I am just going to wing it, which I must admit was my previous (unsuccessful) approach with blogging.  I’ve really sat down over the last year, and started to sort out what directions I want to go in artistically, and now it’s time to start obtaining those goals.  I’ve started now by making a simple blog schedule, and weekly social media goals.  Since I work full time now, I have a more regular work schedule, which should be able to translate into a more regular online schedule (it WILL, it MUST!).  But blogging on a regular basis is only one slice of my 2016 resolution pie..

Last year, my New Years resolution was to start a more professional website for my art.  I can’t say that I failed at that endeavour.. since I did create a more professional website, however I never actually finished it, and I never updated it.  Crap.  Going back to it, I’m actually still really happy with what I’ve started with and think that I can work with it without major overhaul.  In fact, I even looked through WordPress themes expecting to update this old blog, but was surprised to see that I still love this theme the most (book lite if anyone is curious).  So I’m deciding not to update my core themes, but I do have plans to update photos, bios, and other pages.  I know where I fucked up my resolution last year, which was a lack of organization, and a lack of specific goals.

This year, my mantra is “Finish Shit”.  I have a lot of idea debt (I have to admit that I just read about this concept, I think it’s a fantastic way of looking at it and highly recommend reading Jessica Abel’s post about it here), multiple projects that I’ve literally been working on for years.  But since I’ve still invested a lot of time and money into these projects, I’m not willing to let go of them, but am instead trying to be excited at the prospect of FINISHING them.

Overall, 2015 was really.. strange.  It was a year of firsts, and exciting plans.  It was my first year working full time.  It was the first time that I’ve had my art and comics published outside of self-publishing.  I started planning our wedding, and my partner graduated from post-secondary.  But with all the hustle and bustle, depression started to consume us.  While it is great to not worry about having money to buy groceries, suddenly there was no time to shop for them.  While I have fantastic opportunities to get my work published, suddenly I have no ambition or energy to create.  It became easy to simply sleep, work and occasionally eat.  But, it’s time to be real about our depression, how it affects us, and how we can work to overcome it.

So, I know what you are thinking, this all sounds like a lot of ambitious goals, a lot of big lofty goals that are going to be really hard (I mean, who casually drops overcoming depression as a New Years Resolution along side scheduled blogging, meal planning, and basically an entire life overhaul, but I suppose my logic is that by improving certain areas of my life, I will be less affected by depression.).  But I have a plan.  Actually, I have A LOT of plans.  But I’m going to start talking about those more in my future posts.  Originally, I was planning on making this post include more about the specifics, but it was holding me back on writing this.. because to be honest, I haven’t worked out the details on some of them, and I’ve actually already realized that I need to re-work my plan for my blog.  But, this is a good thing!  I have to accept that I won’t get all my life goals sorted out perfectly into schedules and lists before starting to follow them.. I need to start small and work up, find out what works and doesn’t work for me.

All that being said, one of the biggest things that I think anyone can do for themselves if they are suffering from depression:  Get out of your house and go for a walk.  All of the pictures I’m sharing have been taken over the past few weeks while on walks in the forest with my fiance and life partner, Hrafn.  No matter the weather, it has always been worth it.

 

London’s Anarchist Book Fair

So a few weeks (oh god, has it really been a few weeks already?) ago my partner and I took part of London (Ontario)’s Anarchist Book Fair, I believe the 3rd Annual.  This time around it was held in At^lohsa Native Family Healing Services.  First off, wow this space was FANTASTIC!  It was roomy, bright, and had a variety of spaces for workshops, and even an eating area.  In retrospect I wish I had taken more photos of the beautiful architecture and details of the space.  This was our first time with a table at an Anarchist book fair, and honestly we weren’t 100% sure how we would do.  Technically speaking, I don’t consider myself an Anarchist (I don’t subscribe to formulas yo), and have some pretty mixed views on politics and social structure.  When forced to label myself (or my art) I usually settle on Existential Naturalist.  Anywho, the book fair was actually quite successful.  It is always so re-assuring to have positive feedback from others, it makes the work feel that much more satisfying.  I want to congratulate my partner on completing a second pamphlet zine, and nearly completing a third!

Also at the book fair, an artist collective called the Beehive Design Collective had a huge, and beautiful mural up for display.  They also sell poster prints of these (double-sided that gate fold open! super super cool!).  They also had someone talking about the metaphors and meanings of the pieces, which were actually really thoughtful and well planned.  I always appreciate art that has symbolism and meaning that doesn’t make me roll my eyes.  They have a lot of neat patches and their webstore is sliding scale to help with the pocket-book.  I highly recommend checking out their website here.

I really par-downed my display for this event, since we were going straight from the book fair to our annual street party, fireworks bananza Burn the Kids.  Plus being a book fair, I wanted to focus on paper products.  For this event I did have a new item, a series of original drawings in mini glass bottles.  I filled the bottles with little precious stones and rocks that I have collected from different parts of Ontario.  I called the series Keeping It All In (Ontario).  I think I will make a Behance project for these guys (or I suppose I should say gals), with more information.

Rag Bag Bazaar and Dundas Street Festival June 14 2014

So this past weekend, my partner Hrafn, and I had a table a local art bazaar and street festival.  This isn’t the first Rag Bag bazaar I have taken part in, and certainly won’t be the last.  It reminded me that I need to start posting on here more often, because surprise!  People actually want to be able to find me online, and see my new work online (or I suppose work that I have now finished).  So, I’m going to try to at least update everything I have online and maintain this blog with WIP updates more often.  Also, please feel free to contact me through e-mail anytime with inquiries about items you have seen at festivals or custom ordering.

Now, on to the Bazaar… It was an up and down sort of day.  It was insanely windy, which meant that my display had to be very flat, and very weighted down (seeing your art get blown onto Dundas street doesn’t make your stomach feel too great as it turns out).  I think it negatively affected some sales, but I just tried to be encouraging for people to pick items up.  Unfortunately my always openness for people to touch resulted in disaster… even though I never suggested for this particular child to touch (he picked up some of our mini zines and alien crayons and thought they were free and tried to walk away with them..), he then proceeded to pick up my most recently finished doll (one which I haven’t properly documented) and literally rip her arm off.  Jerry tried to catch up with the kid and mom, but they were quick to flee after the incident.  :(  I guess this means I will have to keep my dolls farther back and only allow adults to touch (with a stress on being gentle).  The sad part is, is that my dolls really are not that delicate.  I have dropped them at home, or have had Dante pull them off of a table (or pushed ahah), without any breaks.  But I’m confident I will be able to fix her arm,  luckily it is covered by clothing at the break.  But in good news, I sold the last two catopi from my series, the last prints for a few designs, and most surprisingly (and most painfully) I sold Diana and Lapin.  Diana and Lapin were my first finished clay doll set, and part of a larger story I have been working on for some time.  It was incredibly thrilling to have someone love her enough to take her home!!  I hope that wherever she is, she is being admired.

The biggest “reveal” of this show (I always try to have at least two different and new items at a show), was the hand bound book I put together.  It is 24 pages long, includes one longer story, multiple fragments, bird girls with floating islands, space cat comics, and some sneak peaks for other ideas I’m working on.  I learned a new binding technique, and hand stamped each cover.  I received a lot of positive feedback about these and look forward to creating I am filled with ghosts vol. 2.  I will be posting more about this release on my Behance page within the next week or so.  My partner also created a new zine for the Rag Bag, it is called Alone.  He also learned new binding techniques, and he even added belly bands.  I have to admit, I’m pretty damn proud that we both finished our books on time, though it did result in us literally have two hours of sleep before!