My online portfolio is resurfacing

full-creative-freedomI haven’t kept an online portfolio since 2008. It’s now 2015….

It wasn’t necessary, I had a full-time job from mid-2008 until a couple months ago. I wasn’t actively searching. Now I find myself in a peculiar crossroad. Many of the jobs I’m interested in want to see a great portfolio – online. Most of the work I performed since 2008 was focused on areas other than visual design, though I did continue it, and applied that same level of creativity to the other work I was doing.

Show as much great work as possible – my mantra of the moment. It isn’t easy considering I don’t have access to much of the work I produced, designed or written, since 2008. It’s a slow exhausting process that I pushing through nonetheless.

Work I produced long ago has been added to my new portfolio section of this site, some dating back to 1996. I’m far from finished. I figure image retouching is still image retouching, regardless of the year I performed it. In fact, the available tools and processes back then are ancient if not obsolete compared to today’s capabilities, but the creative process remains unchanged. That’s what matters. Revisiting that old work is like reviewing a photo album of my childhood, only I recall the thoughts and reasoning that went into each creative decision I made as I if it was a few hours ago. Crazy how that works.

If there is anything for readers to learn from this scenario, it’s this: maintain copies of everything you produce no matter how big or small. Be prepared.

 

 

The Grimorium Verum – Table of Contents Revealed

I’m excited to be a part of this next publication from Western Legends as both a contributing author and book cover designer. The book comes out very soon. Please help support this project – lots of talented storytellers – you won’t be disappointed! I’ll share purchasing info once available.

The Grimorium Verum – Table of Contents Revealed.

 

New published work coming in 2014

It has been quite a while since I wrote a blog entry. Life has been extremely busy with finishing my graduate degree in May, the ongoing needs my daughter’s medical, and a series of changes (all good) occurring at my job since returning from my medical hiatus about four months ago.

Many topics have circulated in my brain to write about for blogs, essays, and short stories, but I decided to spend my down time this month losing myself in the game Grand Theft Auto V for a few weeks, something I haven’t done in several years. That badly needed mental vacation of exaggerated cartoon violence and dark comedy helped me break out of the grad student mentality and refocus on my writing priorities for this summer. I did take obsessive notes on all of those ideas, though, so nothing was lost.

I am excited to share news on a few new publications I’m involved in, coming out during the latter half of 2014.

Don't Look Back coverI wrote the story “The Elusive Pettibone” for the anthology Don’t Look Back, edited by David Lingbloom. The story is my take on the origin of the White Lady of Union Cemetery in Easton, Connecticut. It was fun to write, exploring the historical aspects and reported ghost stories of a locality near home.

I found myself deeply invested in the protagonist I created for the story, Angela Pettibone, an emotional development that I have not experienced with other stories or characters I’ve created. The legends of the White Lady’s wanderings along the roads of Easton between two cemeteries were a shared interest with my late younger brother. Looking back, this is a story I know he would have loved. Therefore, I have dedicate the story in his memory.

Don’t Look Back is due out this fall from Dark Moon Press. I will share purchasing details once available.

Phobophobias cover 01Next up is the much anticipated anthology Phobophobias from Dark Continents Publishing, edited by Dean Drinkel, which contains another story set in Connecticut, “U is for Ufophobia: Streaks of Green.” The current-day story follows a young woman refusing to hide from an otherworldly occurrence that has the state on lockdown. Inspired by an unapologetic mid-20th century noir story, it tackles the issue of living life in spite of the constant state of terror and confusion created by the unknown. Phobophobias is expected to arrive in August.

Lastly, I am editing my first episodic novel, a collection of linked stories following the disturbing and eventful life of a young woman named Lanie, The Dystopian American. The author line up includes a strong mix of emerging talents and accomplished dark fiction writers from the indie scene. Reading through the first drafts of material I feel confident that we have a strong book in the making. It’s a little early to share details now, I will post more about it when appropriate.

More to come as I have details to share.

The dreaded “full creative freedom”

full-creative-freedom“Do whatever you want, you have full creative freedom!

I cringe when I hear those dreaded words. You should too. No creative ever wants full creative freedom. We need parameters, deadlines, timeline, budgets, brand identity guidelines, licensing guidelines, whatever. You might as well be clearing snow from the tarmac at Liberty International with only a toy beach shovel knowing a 747 could come barreling in from any direction at any moment with no notice. Yes, the idea is really that stress inducing.

So why do I bring this up? Because I’ve heard this probably a billion times now and I bet you have too. It’s not out of malice mind you, it’s not like your manager or the VP way up the line intended to cause you turmoil, they think it’s what you desire. To the outside world, the one thing all of us creatives desire more than anything else – more than a pay raise, recognition for our hard work or a long overdue promotion – is full creative freedom. They can’t be more off the mark.

It’s a simple fact for those not in the know: full creative freedom paralyzes us with fear and anxiety. And that leads to less than desirable execution of the job at hand. And an even less than desirable job performance flag on our annual reviews.

For everyone else in the know trying to curb this problem from damaging your ego and corrupting your portfolio, I offer you these recommendations derived from my many years of trials and tribulations:

1. Ask for parameters, i.e. deadlines, intended goals, all that stuff you need and want to know.

Demand it, set a timeframe for reviews. Confirm the intent of the creative work at hand. When they say, “whatever works for you” tell them tagging your street name on each of the south-facing cubicle walls probably won’t accomplish the goal. Fun, yes!

2. Be polite and respectful, but don’t be a doormat.

It’s easy to feel compelled to say yes to everything the boss tells you. The reality is, saying yes to everything creates two problems: 1. you take on more work than you can or should handle for the timeframe; and 2. you become the go-to-guy for doing all the garbage work because no one expects you to say no. Bottom line: learn to say no, respectfully, and for valid reasons. Most importantly, don’t be pompous about it.

3. Be honest.

Tell the boss that full creative freedom is much too broad and therefore vague. She or he should appreciate this perspective, most likely having to endure a similar matter in their own job history. Honesty goes a long way in the professional world, and is often appreciated and admired.

4. Don’t bitch and complain to your co-workers about the burden you allowed yourself to take on.

First, if you allowed it to happen, you have no one to blame but yourself. Suck it up, deal with it. Don’t complain. Secondly, if you do complain to your peers, guess what? Rumors spread, faster than that blood rush to your head during that dare to hang from the hotel balcony by your feet at Spring Break. No, I never did that, I just had to create a far-fetched scenario to make sure you’re paying attention. Point is: follow the first three steps and this fourth will not need to apply. You’re  a smart person, do the right thing.

Whether you follow my advice is your ultimate decision. I share it based on a career’s worth of successes and mistakes made in the creative field. And my goal is to help you, the reader, learn from my experiences. All I ask is that you accept or decline what I have to offer with respect and dignity. I wish you all success in your creative endeavors, and to pay it forward.

Good luck.

From the Creatively Oblivious to the Self-Aware

Never underestimate the power your mood holds over your creative work. I put mood up there with inspiration and incentive. Good moods lend themselves to producing good work, great moods for even better work. However, bad moods not only lead to poor work, but unfinished and post-deadline deliveries, and that’s why you need to take notice.

Self-awareness is a valuable attribute for anyone producing creative work. It should be part of the standard art school curriculum alongside other relevant subjects including psychological health and well-being, placed at the same level as Art History and Aesthetics. A holistic approach to a positive mindset can mean the difference between success and failure in the creative business.

Artists carry a stigma of brooding and general moodiness in American culture. An unfortunate contradiction to the celebrated and enlightened artist found in other cultures around the world. Perhaps this is because their efforts go unnoticed and under-appreciated in our society where hype is valued above integrity. Think summer blockbuster films and the huge overpriced video game releases each holiday season. The brooding artist stereotype does a wonderful disservice to creative folk of all types, as any other stereotype does. It will only change if enough artists consistently present themselves in a more positive light.

In the spirit of giving, because that’s the popular phrase to toss around at the moment, here are my suggestions on building your self-awareness to avoid becoming creatively oblivious. All actions that I have found to work well for me and I hope will benefit you too. By the way, I wasn’t intending to turn this into a touchy-feely confidence-boosting self-help thing; that would be so out of character for me.

You can’t change the people around you, but you can change whom you are around.

If someone else’s actions or behaviors are negatively affecting yours, do yourself a favor and remove yourself from the situation. Be respectful and respectable. Don’t pick a fight or complain. Don’t even consider trying to change the person to meet your immediate needs. If another person inquires about your removal from a situation, respond honestly about your needs with everything else in this paragraph in mind. Do not unload your frustrations unless you’re itching for a fight.

I bet you didn’t already know any of this. Right? Maybe in a different context. Or it has gone forgotten.

Recognize that you have full control over yourself.

Don’t be an ass towards others about your creative needs. Respect is key here too. Treat others no different than you expect them to treat you. This is groundbreaking advice you should have learned in kindergarten and from the people who raised you, even if wolves raised you.

Establish your creative space.

You need your quiet alone space. An environment you have complete control over where you can shut the door and not be disturbed. Where you can blast the Dropkick Murphys, Rihanna, or the Boston Pops when the mood hits. Where you can write by candlelight and an open window during a thunderstorm or paint under a full spectrum balanced floodlight rig. Whatever works. You’re full in control, and if you complain, do yourself a favor and punch yourself in the gut and stop complaining.

Pay attention to the quality of your work. Always.

Now you don’t want to enter the bad practice of editing as you create, that will stunt your flow and productivity. It’s expected that a first or rough draft is far from perfect, so let it happen, be shameless. However, as you revise and edit, take notice of how the work is shaping up. Is the quality sub-par in comparison to your usual output? If so, take a look at yourself; chances are the problem lies in your outlook. Straighten it out before you get back to work. Remember, you are in complete control. The same applies to writer’s block or other analogous scenarios in any medium.

Don’t spend your energy venting frustrations to others, use that energy for your art.

You woke up on the wrong side of the bed this morning? That’s nice. No one wants to hear about it at work or the coffee shop or the bar. Seriously, no one does. Don’t bother trying. Refocus that kinetic energy toward your creative work. Take that anger, frustration, sadness, anxiety, whatever; fashion it into a galvanized six foot spike and drive that passion into your art so hard the room is splattered in a colorful array of your creative juices. It feels great!

Whether you choose to take my advice or run amuck with your brooding self, just remember: the quality of your work is effected by how you feel.