Visual Storytelling

I’ve been taking Visual Storytelling classes, taught by Jim Higgins, at Pop Secret Gallery and Meltdown Comics and I thought I’d share my collection from the first class I took. It was a six-week course and the final project was a 3-page comic. I collected them all into a booklet (found below). It’s definitely a different style of art than I’m used to but I’m looking forward to exploring it further. If you’re interested in watching my unending struggle with perspective and proportion (wait, where is that arm connected?) you can follow me on Instagram for short periodic bouts of entertainment.

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On Why Fandom is Important

I’ve been on the outskirts of a lot of fandoms. I’ve watched a lot of shows that have some seriously dedicated fan bases and have even participated a bit in a few. The fandoms vary a lot depending on the format of the show (obviously) but they all have one thing in common: passion. I know all of this is nothing new to most people. We all know how important these communities are and (if you’ll pardon the PR speak) how a few key influencers can be tapped to build an intense, interactive following.

All of that being said I’ve been around the fandom block and I’ve noticed some key differences in how they’re cultivated, some worse than others. In light of last night’s Arrow episode (no spoilers, no worries) there was a lot of expected divisiveness. Being a widely watched popular CW show brings a varied fan base that skews a bit younger it’s to be expected. They don’t pull their punches with the content and I appreciate that but the show runners aren’t exactly the best example when it comes to their social media presence.

They’ve got a large group of fans with very passionate yet, disparate ideas and yet they meet a lot of criticism with disdain. That breeds ill feeling and it spreads quickly. They’ve had this unchecked battle of Felicity versus Laurel fans for a few years and instead of encouraging fans to stop pitting women against each other they’ve let it run rampant even going so far as to make snide comments at fans that articulate an impassioned opinion. If you’ve got a fan base this passionate there’s so much you can do with that. There are a lot of ways to coach them through an event like last night’s episode and they have really seemed to fail by all accounts.

There are a lot of fans like me who live-tweet, engage social occasionally, make fan art and generally promote the show. I’ve gotten a lot of people to watch Arrow but I always warn them against engaging online and the fact that I have to do that is a real detriment to the show. I don’t like having to say that the fans are generally pretty mean and show creators (Marc Guggenheim specifically) that I like can be very callous and reactionary. I understand not wanting the small segment of online engagement to dictate the direction of the show but outright ignoring your biggest supporters and responding to their anger with flippancy is a great way to alienate your best advocates. And I’m saying this as someone who really likes the direction last night’s episode is taking the show.

As an example of good management I’ll point to Syfy’s Haven community. The audience is much smaller and skews a little older but they’ve had some serious, controversial episodes and they have dealt with their fans beautifully. The actors, writers and creators all made great efforts to engage with their fans and commiserate with them over certain plot points. They managed to explain their decisions without derision and would admit if they made choices they were unhappy with in the end. They were accessible, relatable and a lot less precious about their vision and it really helped to build a supportive fan base.

Fandom is important. Whether you’re creating a show, writing novels or selling cars. Managing your community is an extremely important part of the process and one where I’m seeing networks, like the CW failing exceedingly. Without the fans there’s no one to submit artwork or take your polls. They’re the ones you’re creating for so treating them like unruly children rather than the driving force behind your success will always be a very poor choice.

EDIT: I’d like to clarify that I think the CW social team handling the backlash from last night’s episode did a pretty good job of explaining their viewpoint and managing fans. I think it was a great episode and a good choice. The only problem I have is that, in my opinion, the fan community hasn’t been cultivated well over the past four years and can be extremely nasty. I think this is a sign of poor management overall. It could honestly be any number of factors and I’m needlessly throwing some blame on the social media team but I’ve seen a few of the show runners make some snappish comments to fans that irritate them and when you’re handling something that people are this passionate about you just can’t react that way. It’s rude to the fans who dedicate so much time and money into supporting you. Your intended target isn’t the only audience on Twitter. Ok, I digress, Arrow’s a great show, you should watch it and avoid the online audience like the plague. And be the change you wish to see in social media.

 

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That Freelance Kind of Life

What kind of designer would I be if I didn’t have more than one day job? Outside of my work at Edelman I also freelance for Design Studio Press. DSP is a fantastic concept art book publisher and a freelancer’s dream client. I recieved my first batch of printed work and it’s a really cool feeling to see a hard copy version of something I worked very hard on. Most of my work has been cleaning up books and readying them for press but I’ve been lucky enough to give a few my own design flair.

If you’re interested in seeing some truly amazing concept art from some of the best concept artists then check out these and other titles from Design Studio Press!

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Nuthin’ But Mech 3

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SOON Timepiece Phenomena by Olivier Gamiette

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Heaven’s Hell: The Art of Anthony Jones

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Woosh! by Lorin Wood

 

BSL Back in the ‘Burg (Or how we elect idiots who like to kill perfectly nice dogs for no reason)

Yesterday, a panel in Reynoldsburg, Ohio decided it knew better than the state legislature and re-enacted their archaic BSL laws.

This decision in Reynoldsburg would be comical were it not so sad. Ohio has decided, based on research done by experts, advocates and researchers that Breed Specific Legislation does not work and devised a comprehensive and impressive system that is more effective at protecting the public from dangerous dogs. Reynoldsburg has decided that their collection of anecdotal evidence and fear in the face overwhelming evidence to the contrary is more accurate and therefore more important than this heavily researched statewide law. It’s honestly quite impressive to see such blatant ignorance in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

To put it in perspective it would be like saying that all guns are dangerous and then only banning the .45 Smith & Wesson revolver. All other .45 revolvers have the potential to be just as dangerous yet they aren’t covered by the ban. They are equally likely to be used in a crime when obtained by a criminal yet the Smith & Wesson has been singled out despite no evidence that it is any more deadly than any of the other revolvers. If the Smith & Wesson unavailable the criminals will just move on to using a different make of .45 revolver.

Every single major research group has said that BSL doesn’t work.The Humane Society, The American Bar Association, The National Canine Research Council (just to name a few) have thoroughly researched this issue and concluded that it is not only ineffective but also detrimental to the community. This information is free, open to the public and comes complete with citations so that anyone can review the conclusions. This panel in Reynoldsburg is essentially saying that they’re personal bias and the uneducated bias of the community holds more weight than all of these groups who have put money and time into actually researching and testing BSL.

And the worst part is that they are claiming to be voting with the community. Our founding father’s set up this system so that the general, uneducated public (be they illiterate or uninterested) would have someone whose job is to educate themselves on the issue and govern on their constituents behalf. This panel was obviously just pandering to garner votes and not voting for the best interest of the community. It’s pathetic and I’m unbelievably glad I don’t live there anymore. They should be ashamed.

If you are genuinely interested in learning about this issue before making an informed decision please check out Measle’s Animal Haven, a pit bull rescue group in Columbus that has compiled a comprehensive list of resources for those interested in learning about pit bulls and BSL. Or, spend some time researching actual facts and statistics and make an informed decision on your own rather than condemning sixty percent of shelter dogs and family pets to death because you read a story about a kid being mauled by what the newspaper speculated was a pit bull that one time.

http://www.measlesanimalhaven.org/BreedSpecificLegislation.htm http://www.measlesanimalhaven.org/ResponsibleOwnership.htm The Humane Society: http://www.humanesociety.org/…/breed-specific… The American Bar Association: http://www.mspca.org/…/american-bar-association… Cornell University: http://blogs.cornell.edu/…/the-five-ws-of-breed…/ The fact that Pitbulls match Labs and Goldens in temperament testing:http://animaladvocatesalliance.org/pitbulls-score-better…/

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Holding Satire Accountable

I genuinely hate arguing with people, especially on the internet. Debating is fun, witty repartee is excellent but once we hit the insult, argue just to argue territory, I am out. I am passionate about things which makes me terrible in battle and worse in the cleanup. So, when I post something, even slightly polarizing on the internet my life is ruined for at least a day until I can crawl out of my blanket fort, conveniently located in my anxiety prison. (Trust me, I know. I’m working on it.)

Obviously dogs, pitbulls specifically, are very important to me. I did shelter photography for two years and helped with a transport group. I’ve seen first hand what happens when you have overbreeding combined with miseducation. It’s not pretty and it leads to a lot of needless torture and death. I take it seriously because as a human it’s my responsibility to protect living things that can’t help themselves. Whatever our life experiences are we need to take a step back and try to wade through the misinformation to find the truth and find better ways to protect ourselves and each other. The biggest challenge (in any social issue) is misinformation.

Misinformation and a lack of education are the things keep undermining progress. We work hard to change minds gradually only to find ourselves undermined by inaccuracy posed in a more understandable light. “Their message is simpler. I get it now, don’t need to think anymore.” It’s soundbite culture at it’s finest. They hear something and move on. Trying to fight that is an uphill battle. Our headlines are so much less interesting. Happy things just aren’t entertaining enough. That’s when the humor comes in. After all, you can’t go wrong with humor, right?

It’s funny to me how farce is regarded right now. It’s a fine line to walk between parody and misinformation. The unfortunate downside to parody is the large amount of people who misinterpret it as fact. See a picture, read a headline, it must be truth! And then it becomes an endless game of telephone. That doesn’t mean that the humor should be banned or disregarded, just that the person making the jokes accept some responsibility for timing and clarity. Sure, things are funnier when they don’t need to be explained but when something is taken out of context in an international forum, even a joke, it can have long reaching impact.

It’s important to be cognizant of all of the people you may be undermining with an ill-timed joke. The best and worst thing about comedy is that it has it’s roots in truth. If you find something particularly hilarious you already have some form of connection to it. If you make a joke about a vicious pit bull you are perpetuating all of the misconceptions that people have niggling in the back of their brains. They don’t know when or where they heard it or saw it but they did and little by little the blocks start stacking back up. Your bit of fun stacked another couple of blocks in a few thousand brains and the dogs, shelters, volunteers, etc. are the ones who pay for it.

I love that the Onion wants us to realize how ridiculous and inaccurate that stereotype is. I just don’t think that the unfortunate negative ramifications of their platform and reach are worth it.

Emotional Brain vs. Logic Brain (Or why I just want a damn happy ending.)

If you’re following me you may have realized that my most recent TV obsession is The Mindy Project. (Don’t lament, my dearest Haven and Parks and Rec, I am still marathoning you often.) I love going through phases where I take in a show and let it distract me from life things until my natural hermiting habits have taken their course and I once again join the daywalkers.

Today though, I was reading through overanalyzing tv’s blog and reading some quotes from Mindy Kaling about the show. I had to resist the urge to go on my usual rant about how entertainment creatives always seem to have this idea that they can’t sacrifice their creative integrity just to placate the audience. This is something that has always devastated me as a member of that very audience.

As an entertainer, once that work has aired, once it has a following, your work belongs to the audience. It’s not just your baby anymore. We are tuning in once a week, every week for an hour/half hour of our lives to emotionally invest in the characters and stories you create. For some of us that’s more time than we spend with some of our friends and family members. Lately, I’ve had a really hard time with this. I just moved to a new city and while I am by no means an actual hermit, I still find myself alone for long periods of time. My family and friends are mostly 2,000 miles away and while I have friends here I am still not settled. These shows fill a bit of that void.

Giving to Netflix shows that have been on a while or that have finished a chance isn’t hard. You know from the get-go what you’re getting into and have some idea of the resolution. When Lost was on I watched it when it aired for almost three years. That is, until I couldn’t take the stress anymore. I had to emotionally prepare to feel devastated every week and I just couldn’t continue to do that to myself. That’s why I chose to forgo quite a few phenomenal shows like Battlestar Galactica and The Walking Dead. I know I will like them but I didn’t want to face the heartbreak that comes with investing emotionally in a show every single week.

The Mindy Project is obviously different. The comedy is spot on, the intelligence and relatability always make it worth coming back for but, let’s face it, I’m a shipper. The Mindy/Danny relationship fills my ‘When Harry Met Sally’ heart with joy and I never want that to end. Alas, though, the beautifully hilarious and creative mind of Kaling has made me question how long I’ll keep going. The idea she has referenced of them amicably parting in the end is both wonderful and tragically realistic. I refer back to my argument that television is for the fans and the last thing I want to do is confront reality when I’m watching a thirty minute comedy. That is by no means implying that comedy can’t be poignant or sad, just that I will always want to leave a little happier than I arrived.

This is what led me to confront something about myself that—at twenty five—I was unprepared to confront. Firstly, I am far too invested in the media I consume. I am still wrecked a little bit from reading ‘The Hunger Games’ and I read that two years ago. Second, and more importantly, I can’t face the idea that things just end. As a logical, fully grown woman I completely understand that all things run their course. Your relationships, your jobs and even your dreams grow and change, usually into something that you weren’t expecting or prepared for. It’s not final like death. It’s just a change that happens over time. I have outgrown friends and situations and have only been the better for it. That idea though, that romantic love as we know it and understand it is really just the fluid thing that changes the same way our love for our childhood friends will is both comforting and painfully sad.

I’ve always hated rom-coms and yet my child brain somehow adopted this idea that soulmate love actually exists. My logic brain has always insisted that it doesn’t and rather than coming up with some sort of compromise I just quit thinking about it. What better way to avoid intimacy than by just putting off thinking about it, am I right? I haven’t had a lot of great examples of romantic relationships in my life. Personally, I’ve never been in one and the ones I’ve witnessed have usually ended badly or didn’t make much sense to the onlooker. I’ve seen a few that I have some hope for but in the end I know most will just run their course. I guess finally confronting it is just my way of acquiescing to getting older. But, now that I’m facing it in reality, must I also face it in the place that I go to escape reality?

As a creative brain I totally get the concept of doing something different and interpreting life on screen. As a creative who also wants a holodeck so that I can escape reality entirely, roll myself up in a cocoon of arrested development and exist in a world that I have complete control over I would prefer the less realistic, sappy outcome. So, I guess there’s a couple of choices: break the tropes, change the culture and make a creative statement that soulfully captures the bittersweet melancholia of life or suspend disbelief for a little while longer and enjoy this fictional idea that sometimes people grow together rather than apart.

I don’t know about you but I really just want a damn happy ending.

Oh, and watch The Mindy Project. It may have caused an existential crisis for me but sane people can watch it and enjoy the hilarity that comes from top notch writing.

How ‘New Girl’ Let Me Down

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Photo Source: The Amherst Student

Disclaimer: I won’t pretend that I’m an authority on feminism. I am not trained in socially conscious language and I am often being educated by my more socially involved friends. What I am an authority on is my own personal life experiences as a woman and a geek and that is the place that I am coming from.

That being said, ‘New Girl’ has become such a disappointment for me.

When the show started I was so excited to see a more accurate portrayal of female geeks. Not only that, but the female geek was the lead character. The first episode alone had three references to LOTR and an abundance of crafting jokes. Obviously, she didn’t represent geeky women as a whole. She was a representation of one type of woman in the world and whether you liked that representation or not I personally identified with a lot of her character traits.

It was in the middle of the first season when I started to really notice a change. Jess wasn’t really geeky anymore. She was klutzy and weird but the pop culture references had stopped. She liked knitting, making jam and making up weird songs. To me those are just common interests with nothing inherently geeky about them. Soon she swapped roles with the men. She was no longer the socially clueless woman who was watched over by her dysfunctional roommates. She became the mother figure, constantly trying to wrangle three rowdy, idiot boys. She still does weird things but they aren’t geeky. Just weird. She became what every female character on TV becomes: the mom.

This trope is insulting to both men and women alike. We are almost all in the same place in our mid-twenties and early thirties. We are trying to find our place in there world, figuring out who we are and what we stand for. Shows like this turn men into bumbling idiots who need the women in their lives to guide them through every obstacle with a wink and a sigh of defeat.

In the third season they did the one thing that always kills a show for me. They made one of the characters, Schmidt, into a cheater. As if his cheating weren’t bad enough he was also really terrible at it. The writers tried so hard to make him empathetic despite the cheating because ‘he is too dumb to know better’ or ‘his friend wasn’t there to guide him’ and all of that is total, utter bullishit. Now we are back to every other stupid, insipid television trope where men are stupid and we should feel bad for them and women are there to solve all of their problems.

This is coming from a show that had so much promise. The cast ranges in income, race and background. (I’ll talk about how much I love Cece in another blog update that I have planned.) The comedy is often spot on and the actors are all extremely talented. Winston is one of my all time favorite characters and the reason I still watch the show at all. In the end though, Jess is no longer the amazing character that she once was and I find that every time I watch an episode that she doesn’t mean nearly as much to me as she once did.

I miss you, Jessica Day. Maybe some day the world will be ready to watch you are you were originally intended. For now I’ll stick to Youtube scripted series like Squaresville and The Guild for some genuinely cool female geeks.

Want to watch and identify with actual geeky women? Here are some geeky feminists you should be following:

Stand-up comedian @NadiaKamil who has a feminist burlesque dance and a pap smear rap that are not to be missed.

Emily V. Gordon @thegynomite who co-hosts a video game podcast and her Tumblr provides positive body image advice.

Sandra Daugherty (@SexNerdSandra) offers sex-positive advice on her podcast Sex Nerd Sandra.

Mindy Kaling (@MindyKaling) WHY AREN’T YOU WATCHING ‘THE MINDY PROJECT’!?!

And last, but definitely not least, Yvette Nicole Brown (@YvetteNBrown) of Community fame (who is from Cleveland, near where I grew up) and is frequently on The Talking Dead.

I could go on and on with this list and I would be more than happy to upon request. Fear not friends, our female geeky idols are out there! We just need to spread the word!

Advice from a Friend

(…or, all of the best advice I’ve been given by friends and family.)

Hold onto your seats folks, this is going to be a long one.

Tonight, while I was making a new Twitter friend (thank you again #HavenFamily) we got to talking about school and how we feel like we made some bad decisions regarding our chosen studies. We both studied things that weren’t quite what we wanted to do but were realistic and safe. In the end though you just can’t escape your fate and even though we decided to pursue our dreams, we feel a little behind.

Wait. Seriously? At twenty-five. I’m behind the ball at twenty-five?!? Take a step back from that for a second. No one is behind in the game at my age. If you know what you want to do and aren’t afraid to do it at seventeen then you are one of the ridiculously, lucky few. Almost no one knows what they want at any given time. We are all stumbling blindly through this life together and sometimes we fall into the things we want and sometimes we don’t. The important thing to remember is that we aren’t in it alone.

I’ve been given a lot of good advice in my life. A lot. I have been incredibly fortunate to have a supportive and dedicated family/friend group and I would like to share what they’ve taught me with you. Let me preface this by saying that I, by no means, have it together. I have been on the verge of emotional breakdown at least three times in the last four days. It’s only by being in the mess that you can empathize with those who are in it with you. So, grab my hand and we will make it though this together.

The List

1. Never Compare Yourself to Others 

This is super important for anyone in or just getting out of school. Everyone does it and it’s a really hard habit to break. It’s so easy to look around you to see what everyone is doing and think “I really wish I was that good.” Never do that. There will always be someone who is better than you, smarter than you and quicker than you. They are by no means greater than you. Everyone is different and everyone has something to bring to the table. Judging yourself based on others accomplishments will kill your motivation and keep you down. See what they’re doing, appreciate it, emulate their passion and move on. Seriously. Let it go. You’re awesome too. (A special thanks to Cory Howard for always reminding me of this one when I need it.)

And, while we are on the subject:

2. Give Yourself a Break

Nothing kills creativity faster than depression. That deep hole of world suck that surrounds your soul and steals your motivation is just an endless loop of pain. If you’re feeling it then it’s only going to get worse unless you learn to let it go. Kick back for a day or two. Distract yourself with books, friends, media, whatever it takes. Slap on a smile and tell yourself that you can do it until you actually believe it too.

3. Experience New Things

This will also help when you’re trying to give yourself a break. Inspiration strikes the informed mind. Reading, going to museums, meeting new people with new and unique ideas will all help you to be a better person. Knowledge fuels creativity and productivity so if you’re feeling like you’ve hit a wall, it’s probably time that you got out and experienced something.

4. Love Things

For the love of all that is good in this world, please, love things. If you’re going to enjoy something, take the time to really enjoy it. Explore it, learn it and never be ashamed of how much you love it. When you love something, it inspires and motivates you. That’s the greatest power we have.

5. Don’t Let Anyone Tell You Not to Love Something

If you’re like me and you enjoy interacting with people who are fans of things that you love then I am sure you’ve seen your share of blinding-rage-balls-of-hate. It’s important to let other love things the way that they want to love them. You may not get it. You may not like it. But it makes them happy and that’s all that matters. Stop fighting over the stupid stuff and let everyone else enjoy whatever makes their heart happy. Hopefully, they’ll do the same.

That being said, there are also  people in this world who are so unhappy that they feel like everyone else should be just as unhappy as they are. They will do their best to tear into everything you love and rip it into tiny hate pieces. Ignore them. You’ll be happier and, in truth, it really pisses them off when you don’t feed into it. It’s a win-win situation. To touch on that and to revisit point #2:

6. Give Other People a Break

We are all going through life together. We are all trying to figure out what will make us the happiest. We are all the same. Deep down, we just want to be happy. However, none of our journeys are 100% the same. We were’t all given the same lots in life and some people are experiencing serious obstacles. Remember that and give them a break.

You have no idea what someone is going through or why they behave the way that they do. What you do know, is how you will handle your interactions with them. You have the power to lay off the car horn (those are for alerting people to your presence, not for expressing displeasure). You have the power to let someone cut you in line, let muttered insults go and to be short with you at work. Let that stuff go. You’ll be happier when you’ve stopped thinking about it and they’ll be happier when they’ve gotten past whatever put them in that mood.

I honestly can’t talk about this enough. It’s hard to do and you may have to trick your brain into it but I can tell you that it makes every interaction I have better when I assume that the person I’m interacting with might just be having a really bad day. Never assume the worst before assuming the best. Have some perspective and allow yourself to be happy.

7. Be Happy

That’s it. Happiness is a state of being. If you’re not happy it’s because you’re not letting yourself be happy. No person or thing can do that for you. Having more money, less debt, more friends, less work, won’t change how you feel for more than a few days. This is the hardest thing to accept for most people. You have to start every day thinking about being happy. Not all days are going to be great but we have one life and spending most of it appreciating what we have is a really great way to live it. And before you start arguing with me I will tell you that happiness is 100% a choice. It’s about your perspective and if you’re unhappy every day then you either need to change your perspective or change your situation.

8. Stop Being Afraid

This has been my mantra for the last year. I let fear dictate a lot of things in my life and it’s only when I stopped being afraid that I started feeling driven. Fear just isn’t worth it. Note: I am not talking about logical fear, like being afraid of wild bears. Darwinism is very real, even though it may not always seem like it. Stop being afraid to strive for the things you want. The obstacles are what make you better and prepare you for the reward. Enjoy the obstacles and stop letting your fear dictate your life.

9. Money Isn’t an Excuse for Avoidance

We all have money trouble. The world is changing, the job market is bad and student loan debt just keeps on a’climbin’. Staring at the bills and mulling over the quickest way to pay or how much you’ll have to save for this thing or that thing will tear you up. I am by no means saying that you shouldn’t think about these things. I’m saying that you can’t let them control you. When you are on your death bed are you going to be regretting buying that DVD when funds were low when you were thirty or will you be remembering those five great movie nights you had with your friends? Don’t be stupid but don’t beat yourself up either. You only every regret the things you didn’t do and the trips you didn’t take.

10. Find People Who Are Doing What You’re Doing

Feeling unmotivated? Are you in a rut or an endless cycle of ‘I should be but I’m not’? Find people who are doing what you want to be doing and hang out with them. I’m serious. Be near them. Bask in their productiveness. Watch what they’re doing and let it inspire you too. Humans need other humans to motivate them. Creativity is crowd-funded and without a crowd your power cells deplete. We have access to the internet, use it. Find blogs that you love and submit content or rent a studio in an artist community and go to as many events as possible.

This is a huge part of why I decided to move to Los Angeles. It’s a giant collection of people who love things and have a passion for creative collaboration. Find what you’re passionate about and seek out others who are the same. You can’t help but to be motivated when you’re constantly being inspired by others. Communities can get you through anything.

11. Learn to Accept People for Who They Are

I’ve had a mantra since high school about how people should treat friendship. There are a lot of people in this world and not the everyone is going to be your best friend. That doesn’t mean that they have to offer isn’t valuable. You have to learn not to hold your friends up to your preconceived standards. One friend might be someone hang out with every day and one might be someone you only see every couple of years. That does’t mean that they are less of a friend. They are just a different kind of friend. Holding them to the same standards as your best friend isn’t fair to them or to you. It’s ok to have different kinds of friends and to accept them for who they are and for what you inspire in each other.

12. Make Friends, Not Networks

Since I’ve moved and been looking for work, networking has been brought up to me a lot. What I hate about it is that feeling that someone might think you only want to know them because of what they can do for you. Networking is great. If someone (mostly old students of mine or new alumni) writes to me or calls me and wants to ask for advice about careers or school I am more than willing to talk with them about it. Sharing our experiences is all a part of being human. Like I said, we are all in this together.

What I don’t like is having people believe that I only care about them personally because of what they can do for me professionally. Everyone on this earth has a special gift or talent that is worth learning about. You can find something to relate to with everyone you meet. The fun part is finding whatever that thing may be. Being able to relate to someone makes it ten times easier to learn from them.

It’s great to have mentors and people to talk to about professional things. LinkedIn and Twitter are great for building a network of people with similar interests that you can connect with if you need work or information. The thing is, all of these people, are human beings. If I’m going to reach out to someone, I am going to treat them with the same respect that I treat the rest of my friends. They should be getting something out of the conversation too even if kindness is all that you have to offer.

Conclusion

Well, that’s the bulk of some of the best advice I’ve gotten up ’til now. I know it’s a lot and if you’ve made it this far then I applaud you. I hope this advice will help to inspire and motivate you as much as it has for me. I wanted to write it down so that I could also refer back to it. Life is a learning process and taking notes is never a bad idea. Actually, that’s another piece of advice. Take a hell of a lot of notes.

I think the most important piece of advice is something I haven’t mentioned yet and something that I’d like to leave you with:

Never be afraid to ask for help. Whether it be from friends, family members, mentors or strangers. If you don’t know something or if you just need someone to lean on, never be afraid to ask them for help. Having help is what makes the struggle to get through this life a little bit less daunting.

If you’re having a tough time or just need someone to talk to, please feel free to contact me by email, through this site or through Twitter (@alyssahoman). I always have time for you.

Passion and Fandom Culture

I seem to have tumbled into one of the nicest, most insane fandoms of all time.

I’m not stranger to fandom culture. I have a Harry Potter/Star Trek/Stargate tattoo. Trust me, I’ve been this nerdy for a while. I usually try to remain an outlier because I just don’t seem to have the necessary amount of time to devote to the cause and when you have an addictive personality you tend to get hyper focused on that one thing. This will lead to slacking on the important life things and I just can’t afford to do that. For me it means that I am being too obsessive with another person’s creative work to create work of my own and let’s face it, I can’t compete with the time commitment of the people who get to be obsessive for a living. Or the 15 year old girls who are BAMFs at running full fan communities. Seriously. How do they do it?

Through teaching and through my fan community fringe drifting I have seen my share of amazingly talented kids. Smart, witty, thoughtful and driven kids. I have recently found myself so envious of them. They can create these social circles and connections that produce a multitude of art and interaction. It’s a beautiful thing and it just seems to come so easily to them. I’m sure there’s a scientific reason for this and that their access to the internet and current social tools has a lot to do with it. The one thing that can’t be attributed to access is passion. People have always been passionate about things. Without passion there can be no creation (double entendre intended) and creation is, to me, the purpose of living.

The plight of the obsessives

I don’t think the world gives enough credit to obsessives. These women/men who love something so much that they are driven to create things and discuss all things surrounding it. There was a period of time in which people dismissed or hated these people. That whole period in the 80’s and 90’s where geeks were vilified simply for being so passionate that it would intimidate people. It was and still is intimidating and it can be off-putting if that person comes on too strong but that doesn’t mean that passion should be cast aside. Passion when harnessed is what leads to greatness.

The first fan community that I finally caved and participated in was The Lizzie Bennet Diaries. I am passionate about a lot of shows but LBD was the least intimidating and I found my foothold in the Reddit group. I now have internet friends that I keep in contact with for things outside the LBD community. They are smart, dynamic people who love to be creative and share their passions too. Who knows, some of us may end up collaborating down the road. After all, when it comes time to start a big project I have this great new set of connections with specific talents and similar interests that I know I can collaborate well with. It’s a beautiful thing.

How fandoms can facilitate art

The fan group I have recently found myself in is for Haven (as you probably could have guessed). Haven fans are so welcoming and eager to share their love of the show with you. The insane part is that they seem to always be online. They are always sharing and creating and discussing and it’s wonderful and beautiful and terrifying. Terrifying because I can’t keep up but wonderful because I am always welcome pick up where I left off. Television has been such an intrinsic part of my life for so long and I finally have a creative outlet to express what it has meant to me. The sense of community is the foundation of all of that.

I firmly believe that mankind has always experienced this in regards to the arts. Renaissance painters studied the works of their mentors in close-knit schools trying to emulate their styles in hopes of being allowed to help the master’s create their work. We do the same thing now. We just happen to have lost the spatial boundaries (why, thank you internet!) and gained convention centers! Even better, people who create work love having fans. Fans are the people who truly appreciate the work and that’s all any of us want really. To find other people who love the same things and to create things that inspire them and help them understand that they aren’t alone.

I guess what I am saying is, don’t be dismissive of obsessive fans. That’s where all of the creativity is happening. Being creative about things that you love helps you to get better at the things that you do. Once you’ve honed those skills you will be better able to communicate your own unique concepts. It makes everything else less daunting and far more worthwhile.

All right. That’s enough of me justifying my obsessive nature. Have these other fan art promos I’ve been working on. If you have anything that you’d like to share I would be honored to see it.

Note: I get my images off of a standard Google image search. I don’t own them and I take no credit for them. The photo manipulation is what I do.

#DiscoverHaven

So it’s come to my attention that I don’t have many examples of photo manipulation and retouching in my portfolio. I also feel like there’s not nearly enough fan art in there. Since, my current T.V. obsession is Haven I decided some promotional posters were in order. 

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Audrey Parker

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Nathan Wuornos

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Duke Crocker

Fair warning, my favorite networks are Syfy and CW so for the foreseeable future that will be what I am making fan art for. I am well aware that these not everyone’s cup of tea but I couldn’t care less because they should be. Supernatural and Nikita are next. Now go and catch up on your Syfy and CW programming. Idjits.