hiatus, apologies!

March 27, 2007

TRADE SECRETS needs a little bit of a break. Or at least I do.  Far too much to work on at this moment, so I need to lurk in the background at least for this week!  I hope you all understand.

If I’ve neglected commenting or replying to emails, forgive me! I’ve been sidetracked a lot lately. But if anyone would like to guest blog for a week or two and has some topics they would like to share, please drop me a line and I’ll figure out how to give you access! I’d love the help.

Thanks everyone!

technology post

March 22, 2007

So, ladies and gents, things have been a little quiet on the TS front this week. And I can’t blame it on taxes (which I nearly pulled my hair out yesterday over), or art (though I have been working and spraypainting and researching), but I can blame it on technology!

See, it all happened in the casa de Meg on Tuesday. The previous week I had bested technology and fixed a dishwasher! But on Tuesday, the tech beasts flared up, and my keyboard went dead. Well, kind of dead. Numbers and the whole upper left quadrant of the keyboard wouldn’t work.  And you could say ‘OK, well Meg, you have a mouse, and a tablet that can read handwriting as letters!’ But I’d counter, “I can’t use the tablet til I log in, and I can’t log in on my Mac until I…type a password.” So, for an entire business day I was dead to the internet (had to wait until my partner in crime got off work to go get one, as I don’t drive), and you don’t realize how internet dependent you become! So I left to go seek out picture frames at the local Goodwill, and came back and heard water leaking from my power washer, only to try and rectify it and….bust the hose. And then the next day I found that my water pressure was messed up!

But anyway, this is all a long way of leading me to talk about technology, because: I got a question in my inbox from Ken asking tech questions. He writes:

a: I am looking to replace my 7 year old Compaq PC, which uses a 17″ flat screen CRT monitor.  I am considering an iMac with a 17″ or 20″ widescreen LCD.  What monitor do you use? If you use an LCD, have you had problems with the colors on the screen not matching your
final printed product? I’ve read on-line that CRT monitors provide better color matching than LCD’s for digital photographers.  While I was updating my website a few months ago I noticed colors looked different on my CRT at home compared to my 19″ Dell LCD at work.

Well, I use an iMac. I really like it, and I’m not going to shove Apple products down your throat, but this is how my setup is– I have a 20″ widescreen LCD, and then a 17″ CRT monitor set up right next to it. I’m not positive if what you write is true about color matching, but the second monitor is much darker/duller and when I receive printed artwork from clients, it usually matches the LCD better. Sometimes it’s a little darker or lighter, but I think that may be just their printer settings are different. Anyhow, I use both for comparison– but also for a few other reasons. One, it’s great to have a second workspace to pull firefox into when I’m working in Photoshop; but I also can change the resolution on each monitor. Which is especially great for the web, because the resolution on the Mac is actually vastly different– I like it, but not that many people view things at my resolution, so I keep the second monitor at 1028×764 so I can compare websites and images to make sure they’re not too big if I’m updating my site or something.

However, I will note that lots of things are different between Mac and PC: I live with a diehard PCist– who programs and creates Word and Excel templates and libraries and stuff, and he is baffled by the Mac’s setup for Word ( I guess the hotkeys may be different). And if you want computer gaming, there is really not much out there for you, unless you run Boot Camp I think. But I really love working on artwork on my Mac–I was used to things dragging quite a bit, and now my illustrations are much more involved and bigger files and it just moves so much smoother than my previous PCs.

b: I’ll probably replace my old color printer and scanner as well.  What printer do you use?  Do you print out proofs at home and are they comparable to your final printed product?

I’m not a good judge on the printer I’m afraid: I researched and what I read online said that the Canon i4000 printer would do great color prints affordably, and when I print anything out the colors are always, always off. Needless to say, I don’t use it for proofing. I’m definitely interested, readers– any good scoops? I’m reluctant to replace mine til it bites the dust–but if there’s a good one out there I may opt to.

c: What scanner do you use and what size paper will it fit?’

I got my scanner off the recommendation of a good friend of mine, but I’m pretty certain they discontinued the model. Epsons are really good though– I got an Epson Perfection 4870, which can scan up to 12800 dpi if I ever wanted! I never really go higher than 600, but still. My only complaint is the bed size– standard 8.5×11 size. I’d love to get a big scanner someday, but don’t know much about them, what’s good or whatnot. I’d go Epson though– the last two scanners I got were Epsons and they haven’t done me wrong.

And to get back on the tax thing: I really wish there was no such thing as income tax. To be honest, this is my first year filing, and my first year filing as a independent contractor/selfemployed sort. I tried to dumb it down yesterday with using Taxcut online, because I don’t get taxes– at all! But for some reason I thought the standard deduction would wipe out what I owe, but that’s completely wrong apparently. Because deduction or no, Taxcut says I owe $500. Among the many things I would like to afford: an accountant! I was hoping to write a post regarding taxes this month, but I realize this is my weakest area. I need a workshop– or else, a guest poster?? Something to keep in mind for 2008 I suppose.

OK, back to the grind for me, but hopefully there will be more posts soon kids! Forgive my lapses these days. I need to really get on top of getting a guest blogger in to give me a break 🙂

odd-job posting

March 15, 2007

Sorry about the lack of posting on Tuesday; I must admit I got a little busy/sidetracked. See, I’ve been recently setting up a silkscreen studio in my house, and there’s been complications a plenty. Still, could be worse–but I must admit that I’m close to freaking out about life and obligations, so things are a little topsy-turvy right now.

I started to wonder how you illustrators work– I used to always lament that I only had one style, which admittedly has changed much over the years, evolved into a more comfortable creature, while other illustrators I knew either had a nom-de-plume to carry a different style, or they just had different portfolios. I guess I probably could sit down and create a whole other style, but the recent delving into printmaking again reminds me that the illustrations I create digitally have a much different feel to them. I guess partially that’s because I just go crazy with the colors, with the layers, I would only create one print every couple of months if I tried to replicate that.  So my screenprints are an exercise in getting back to simplicity, learning how to mix colors, overlay transparent ones, mix different finishes, enjoy the tooth of the paper, all that. Some people are really great with doing simple two color images digitally, but to be honest mine turn out flat feeling. Or I get bored. Somehow when it’s turned into a print though, it has its own life.  Anyway though, in some way I do have two styles I guess. But I still think they interrelate pretty well.

It also led me to start thinking about how many illustrators pursue a double life — I hate to put it this way– as illustrator and fine artist. I am scrambling to complete these prints for a group show next month– it’s crazy, but ultimately worthwhile. But I’ve never been good at gallery shows– I feel like an outsider. Heck, I hate/have no real clues about hanging shows. So I always feel a bit like a schmuck when I’m asked to do these things.  But what about you, do you also exhibit in galleries? Or do you stick to pure freelancing? I like the idea of doing both, but again it takes a lot of time.

How fast do you generally make art? I’m a tad jealous of friends who can bang out multiple pieces of art in a day. I am the slowest of the slow, really. Not so slow that I can’t complete illustrations, I mean, but when it comes to actual physical artwork (that’s not just an ink drawing on bristol), I creep along.

And as a note to all those who may be interested: I ordered from overnightprints.com last week and the postcards arrived yesterday– it appears they changed their stock, or something. I’m a tad disappointed– the cards feel less sturdy. Not like superflimsy, but enough that I’m a little bummed. I wrote them yesterday so I’m hoping to hear something from them– sucks when things like this happen. I’m not sure whether I’ll order from them again, but I’ll have to see.

Sorry for the very weird jumpy post today; hopefully things will resume normally once I get back on track. For now though I must book it and get a lot of stuff done pronto, so thanks for being understanding!