Current Announcement

Stuff always being prepped in the background.

Lots of stuff has happened in the last few years. And some of the older posts need maintenance. A buffer of entries is being developed.

In the process of updating tons of parts of my website, shops and web presence.

Tons planned for this year including splitting some topics into separate blogs.
See the Announcements page for a bit more info.

Christina
May 22, 2015

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

On the Matter of Self-Publishing vs. Traditional Publishing

     On Twitter, mystery author Elizabeth S. Craig (@elizabethscraig | her blog) posts many useful & interesting links concerning writing. Recently this one caught my attention Has Digital and Self Publishing Devalued Authorship?

     First let me just say that entire debate about self-publishing somehow being less valid and any such related ideals fills me with a profound anger. Why? Largely because much of what is said negatively about self-publishing is broad generalizations that rarely encompass situations like mine while implying that what I do is somehow less and the opines disclosed frequently reveal to me an air of taking for granted things I struggle with that are for whatever reason somehow easier for them. Not that I have a clue if they genuinely do take such things for granted, it’s besides the point whether they do or not, the grumbliness happens regardless.

     Reading the article I frowned and harrumphed. It was the 1st real comment, however, that made me feel like responding. The comment was made by writer Joni Rodgers. I never heard of her prior.

     Her comment was lengthy and eloquent. Some of it tweaked a nerve, however, and I began writing a response in the comment section. As it began to grow in length I realized it was more of a blog entry than a comment. Plus I don’t care for hashing out long rants in comment form.

So now I weigh in on the whole traditional publishing vs. self-publishing debate.

     I'd say it always depends on the writer, the individual, and the work itself whether or not anything is devalued. Some self-publishers are: simply content with dabbling for the remainder of their years, stubborn, tired of rejection, delusional, vain or some other random thing. And others are none of those. Some are visionary and unorthodox. Some have very specific goals or other circumstances that are not conducive to the traditional publishing format and environment. Each situation is very different.

     I plan to begin self-publishing this year. It is not remotely in dismissal of the necessity of all the work that people that are involved in producing a traditionally published book. They and their work are extremely necessary, however I haven't the luxury of having the time nor resources required for pursuing traditional means of publishing.

I have many reasons for self-publishing.

  • Art and writing are my calling and have been since junior high some 15 years ago, I did not ever consider myself a dabbler. I threw myself in heart and soul.
  • I always had very specific plans for what I wanted to do and I've also always had extremely limited resources.
  • Printing and postage costs alone involved in the usual submissions process have always been beyond my means, and that's to say nothing of the cost of acquiring an agent.
  • The thought of: writing out queries, sending large samples of my writing to a multitude of strangers, spending copious amounts of valuable time being a nervous wreck while awaiting a reply, going through a contract process before finding my footing, and many other standard procedures native to the traditional route - those things to me are unappealing, horrific, torturous, stressful, sleep-depriving and crazy-making. I need my sanity and I need enough sleep. While insanity has it’s merits, sanity is not over-rated it’s required, without it they lock you away.
  • Many of my writing projects involve the incorporation of my artwork.
  • A great deal of what I want to do is difficult to convey to other people.
  • A solid decade of my life was, well, rough for lack of a better term, and due to all that went on I have to be very careful of my stress levels. Many forms of paperwork are exceptionally difficult for me, and the entire submission and trying to get discovered process are seriously stressful to me as well. Large amounts of stress cause me sleep deprivation, which is very bad for me.
  • One could say my health requires a simpler, more mellow process.
  • And about a kagillion and three other random reasons all of them thoroughly valid and respectable.

The only piece of writing I ever submitted was published. I only submitted it because I could handle the submission process.

Self-publishing allows me to both answer my calling and go at my own pace. Few things in life allow me that.

What do you think about the whole traditional vs. self-publishing debate? What experiences have you had with either?

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Must Play with Pastels More Often

Flowers In Blue Vase. In pastels.
A few years back I did this pastel drawing on newsprint paper of some yellow flowers in a blue vase with doodled sort of design on it.

I remember being very pleased with it when I finished it. It was so much fun to make, I sincerely don’t know why I haven’t done more of this type of simple sketching with pastels. I’ve done many monochromatic warm-up sketches with pastels since, but not much quite the way I worked on this one.

Recently, I came across it whilst flipping through many of my sketchbooks looking for material for blogging. It was unexpected just how much this one made me want to play with my pastels. Then I looked around and a longing to play with all my art supplies on a much more epic scale hit me.

In so many ways it’s a relief to be making this Bent Realm Studios, the art and the writing into my full-time gig. It’s something I’ve longed to do for what seems an eternity. Life is not allowed to get in my way on this anymore. Because I forbid it.

Later today I had better get to break out my pastels and play with them.
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Custom art makes excellent Mother's Day gifts, you can request a pastel drawing like this one (or something else in a different medium). Fill out the form for requesting a commission on the contact page. A pastel drawing like this one, approximately 11 in. x 17 in, would run about $25 plus shipping & handling. See the services page for more info on some other mediums, genres and subject matter I enjoy working on.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

St. Patrick’s Day Challenges

Happy St. Patrick’s Day to all!

     Originally, I’d started this in a different blog with the intention of releasing each of the four parts separately, and had posted part 1 of this 4 part challenge. But I realized that entire blog was sort of redundant and it’s categories needed to be hacked up and scavenged elsewhere on bentrealm.com
     Obviously it’s too late to post or start working on merchandise art and shop items for this year’s green-centric holiday. Yet somehow I always feel like doing holiday themed artwork in the week surrounding said holiday, it’d be a shame to waste that creative feeling simply because it’s too late to put said artwork out. So, here I thought the challenge then would be in planning next St. Patrick’s Day’s arts, crafts and related thingamajigs.
     This round of challenges are then mostly for artists, crafters and various shopkeepers, maybe writer’s too. There are four parts to this round and I will post results once I have a decent amount.
You can share the results of any or all of the parts of the challenge or hoard them like a king plotting his next take-over.

Part One

A Basic word and image association game.
What is associated with the St. Patrick’s holiday? I’ll kick it off.
  • The color green
  • Clovers, especially of the 4 leaf kind
  • Ireland & Irish motifs
  • Luck
  • Leprechauns, rainbows, pots of gold, drinking (I’m not a drinker myself), partying, and so on, mostly stereo-typical things here.
Are there things that I’ve left out?
What else could be associated with it?
The challenge lies in trying to come up with less common associations or even inventing new ones.

Part Two

Info to use to make a shopkeeper guide.
Let’s discuss best practices for St. Patrick’s themed promotions for art, crafts, shops, and related writing & blog posts. I’ll then input the collaborative info into Shopkeeper’s guide to St. Patrick’s Day as a resource for us.
  • When is the best time to begin publicly promoting your St. Patrick’s themed items? How early is too early? How close to St. Patty’s is too late?
  • When is the best time to start working on projects for the holiday, whether they be artwork, stories, blog posts, jewelry or random products? Obviously the answer is dependant upon how elaborate and numerous the projects are as well as the project types.
  • What sort of projects work well?
  • What kind don’t work well?
  • What sort of themed promos are particularly suited to this holiday?
  • I’m sure there’s more items that ought to be covered for a shopkeeper’s guide, so by all means include other related thoughts. Stuff from part 1 of this challenge will be included in that guide.
Part Three


Do some advanced planning for next year’s St. Patrick's activities while the holiday is still fresh in your mind.
  • Plan out some promotional ideas and set a schedule for them.
  • Plan out a few related projects for a nice head start, and then either finish them quickly, over the coming year, or finish them closer to when you want them completed by.
  • If you’re doing artwork, draw up multiple layouts
  • If you’re doing a story, build the frame for it, outline the basics and maybe even draft up much of the plot. Either finish it or let it stew.
  • If you’re doing just blog posts, brainstorm and do research.
  • Brainstorm for a party.
  • You get the idea.
I expect the early planning would make the next year’s themed events far more mellow to set up. Not only that but being right in the midst of the holiday now it’s easier to see and think up related material.

Part Four


Complete some related project.
A drawing, painting, blog entry, poem, short story, you name it, but complete one project, if you choose to do this part of the challenge. Feel free to share it in the comments if you post your project online.

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Well that’s all four parts finished. Don’t know why I was thinking to post them separately before. What are your thoughts on this challenge? Who’s going to participate? Who’s looking forward to future challenges? What categories would you like challenges done up for?

 













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Featured Artist: Vicki Death, Interview

This is the first Featured Artist entry. I plan to do this regularly for both artists and writers (link on how to get featured will go here).
I’ve an interview with the fabulous Vicki Death. She’s located in the UK, and specializes in horror tattoo art.

I first stumbled across Vicki on Twitter a few months ago and was immediately a fan of her art. Her regular shop announcements have since caught my eyes and given me some extra motivation in my own art shopkeeping endeavors. After speaking to her a bit on Twitter a few days ago I decided to see if she was game for a feature/interview, so here we are.

Vicki Death’s links -
Twitter: @VickiDeath | Her Etsy Shop | on Myspace | on Deviant Art

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Howling at the Moon Vicki Death

dagger and rose trio vicki death

tattoo flash vicki death
grampa munster vicki death

The Interview:

1. Tell us a little about your art:

My art is inspired by my favourite things in life, these being Horror, Tattoos, Music, B-movies and the weird and wonderful! I tend to draw and paint things I like, in the hope that other people like them too.

2. What is your favorite piece you've done so far and why? Link to it if you can

It’s a tough choice to make, theres a few pieces that have become favourites.
I think the first one would be the Nude Pin-up girl (http://www.etsy.com/view_listing.php?listing_id=35065168) partly because she was the first proper pin-up I ever painted! She was really fun to create, I wanted to give her a sort of rock ‘n’ roll/psychobilly twist, and I think I succeeded? I also love the colours I used, I tried to keep it to some sort of 1950’s look, but with my own twist.
Another favourite would have to be the Bride of Frankenstein portrait I created not too long ago (http://vicki-death.deviantart.com/art/Bride-of-Frankenstein-156652092) Apart from being my favourite Universal Monster, I also found that she had so much texture and depth. She just had so much detail that I could cram in, mainly with the hair. It was a challenge for me to pull it off. But a challenge is always good!

3. How did you become so interested in horror tattoo art?

I’ve been interested in horror since I was a little kid. But I remember being about 10 years old, my cousins girlfriend at the time had a tattoo of a devil on her ankle, it fascinated me how something could be so permanent. I’ve always drawn dark and macabre images, but gradually I started dabbling in tattoo art, and I found my love for tattoos grew. It wasn’t planned for me to create horror/tattoo inspired art, I think I just subconsciously brought the two together, haha.

4. Do you do any other sorts of art? If so what kind?

I used to do a lot of gothic, almost Tim Burton-esque cartoony style stuff. I’ve also been known in the past to do abstract and cubism, it’s nice to do once in a while. But at the moment I’ve been concentrating on tattoo and horror stuff, as well as photorealistic portraits.

5. When you're working on your art what's your day look like?

It depends on the piece. Usually I’ll sit down with my sketch book and pencil, perhaps have a film on in the background, or some music (I can’t work in silence, seriously), and start sketching. I find I work best at night. Along with gallons of tea and far too many cigarettes, I gradually get to the point where I’m happy with the linework, so I’ll transfer the piece onto whatever the final material is. From here, I’ll start to develop the piece until I finally finish it. Depending on the size and contents of the piece, depends on how long it takes me to create it. It can be anything from a few hours, to over a week!

6. What made you decide not to make prints of your work available?

Money pretty much. For me to get high quality art prints made is expensive, and sadly I haven’t the funds to do so right now. But I also think that partly it’s better to do one-off work, it makes the pieces far more special, and obviously one of a kind. To think you have a piece of art that no one else has is something special I think.
 
7. Do you think you'll ever make artwork that's exclusively for prints?

I hope so, like I said, it’s more the cost over anything else. Never say never!

8. What's the hardest thing about being an artist?

Making a living from it, hahaha! But I try not to let that deter me. I do art because I enjoy creating pieces. Most of the art I create is stuff that I like, stuff I’d be proud to display on my walls. I don’t think I could ever sell a piece of art I wasn’t happy with.

9. What's your favorite thing about creating art?

I love the tranquillity, I can wonder off into my own little world, and what I vision in my head can appear on paper! I especially love creating things that are probably never going to occur in real life. Pieces like the Space Cock (http://vicki-death.deviantart.com/art/SpaceCock-138421389) are always truelly fun to create! After all, how often do you see a chicken in outer space with a fish bowl helmet and a ray gun? Haha.

10. Do you offer any custom tattoo design services? I've had lots of people ask me for those, but you specifically do tattoo style art, I'm sure people would want them if they knew about it. If you don't specifically offer that do you plan to in the future?
 
I do, if anyone would be interested in getting a custom design, then you can either request a custom piece through my store, or email me with all the details of what you are after on vickideathart@yahoo.com

11. What art projects are you dreaming of in the future?

I don’t think there are any projects in particular that I dream of working on in the near future. It would be nice to release an art book at some point in my life. But for now, I’m just happy creating monsters!

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So that’s the interview. Hope you enjoyed it!

Do you have any further questions for the bad-ass Miss Death? What did you think of the feature?

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Busy Like a Nutter

Wow have I been busy lately, busy like a nutter. It’s easy to get caught up in my activities. Then there is how long it takes to wake up. Sure, I guess I could drink coffee, but it’s yucky and I don’t want to add that to my budget.

Here’s a bit of what I’ve been working on:
  • Scrambling to complete an entry for a contest I didn't find out about until last minute. Sadly, I had no real chance to make that deadline.
  • Trying to get my blogs in order. They all need new posts, or rather a back stock of posts to come, which I’ve been throwing together, in addition figuring out some adjustments I want to make to the layouts. 
  • Random stuff around the house.
  • Working on art to post to my etsy shop and my store on Zazzle
  • General organizing and Bent Realm work
  • Working on a feature for this blog on the fabulous artist Vicki Death ( @VickiDeath | her shop | the feature will link here).
  • I intend to start featuring other artists and writers around once a month. I love the artist/writer community support vibe, I think it’s incredibly important to be there for each other in this crazy creativity whirlwind we are swept up in. I’ll get a page up with submission details soon.
  • New Decadent Angels episodes begin releasing sometime next month, meanwhile the already written episodes will continue posting until then (it’s done through part 12:1). Plus there’s supplementary content to prepare for that.
  • Been hunting for a proper way to put my feeds onto my home page, honestly I’d simply prefer to know how to code that myself so I can plug one in where ever on my site I need one without having to worry about whether or not it’s allowed to be used on a small business site type bs. Can’t begin to tell you how much that sort of crap drives me bonkers, like it’s not ok for simple broke as hell creative types like me to try and get somewhere without popping blood vessels, selling our souls or hocking a kidney or some such non-sense. I digress feeling a little irate at certain aspects of the world, grumble grumble. Claw my way to the top, grawr. The top of what? Eh, who knows, but cookies may be involved.
  • Lots impending releases this year that I am working on.
  • Concept work.
  • Probably other stuff I’m forgetting to mention.
I think it’d be real easy to feel overwhelmed. But I’ve forbidden myself to be overwhelmed. Yep. Cuz that totally works.
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What are you working on lately? Are you overwhelmed by your project load? Do you have any tips for being less overwhelmed, more productive and /or de-stressing?
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Place orders soon for Mother’s Day gifts of unique Custom Art. If it is the thought that counts a custom illustration done with your mom in mind would count on an epic scale.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Drawing a cyborg

03-03-10_2116 
Here’s a snapshot out of my sketchbook. This is a cyborg femme fatale I’m working on drawing. It will be available for sale in my etsy shop as soon as it’s finished. It was started in January I had to set it aside for a little while, I’ll admit I got distracted. But also some projects need to brew while I sleep, and turn out better for having set them aside. I keep looking at it every so often so that I have it fresh in my mind and sort of contemplate what I want to do with specific areas and so on. I think it comes out far better having done that, with a trickier piece.
     Some pieces however must be finished immediately or they are doomed, I have a few unfinished pieces idling in my art studio going back as far as junior high. Luckily I don’t do that too often. If I’d have been able to get to back to those few pieces within months they would have been finished, but until around 4 years ago my life was such that I had to move around a lot, things tended to get packed up long term or even lost entirely. I must say I like the much more stable home environment I’ve had since meeting my fiancĂ©.
     I picked up a taste for drawing cyborgs while I was briefly able to attend college, then majoring in video game design. If given the opportunity to begin school again I think I’d go for an animation degree since that would benefit my company more and were I to try getting a job with in the game design industry, they prefer you to specialize in a specific field.
     Anyhow I love sci-fi a great deal, and since cyborgs are fun to draw, I’m hoping to draw more of them.
So what do you think? Would you like to see me do more sci-fi art? Do you like drawing sci-fi? What kind?


Check out the Studio Supply Shop for tons of art supplies in many categories items like these:


    












Hope you enjoyed this sketchbook sneek peek.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Musically Enhanced Free-write

This is a very simple and basic creative writing exercise.
     Basically, you crank up some music loud and just type - letting the words flow out of you, do not pause, do not give much thought to what you are writing,type rapidly and steadily.
     It's a free-write, excellent for a warm-up before your days writing begins. Write about whatever flows out of your mind, whatever subject matter, format, viewpoint, fiction, non-fiction, etc feels most natural at the time. Poetry or prose, both are good for this. Typically, 10 minutes is good enough, however if you find yourself on a real roll keep writing until you need to break for food, facilities or just plain getting out of the chair, but be aware the momentum is very difficult to resume after a break during the same free-write.
     This is best done on a computer - typing fast as you can, plus this makes it easier to go back and make something out of it. Typically, Notepad with Word Wrap turned on, or any equivalent simple text program, is ideal for this, small file size and no distractions from playing with the formatting or spell checker. You can use pen and paper for this if you really want to but that goes slower and it's a bit more difficult to build up any real momentum, also you can't do the inline editing later which is especially useful when turning it into a polished poem or story bit.
     Some people may need to use only instrumental music. Either way some streaming music sites that go well with this are Last.FM (my Last.FM profile), Pandora (my Pandora profile), and Playlist.com (my playlist profile), feel free to add me as a friend on any of them. Radio stations are ok unless they're heavy on the commercials, which can break your concentration.
     The first few times through this free-write may feel awkward or even clumsy. Going the full ten minutes will probably take some getting used to. After a few tries you should loosen up, and begin feeling comfortable with it.
     In my own forays with this creative writing exercise, I have found it can produce some great poetry, among other things. Often it provides seeds for stories or scenes. Since you are basically streaming from your subconscious more than usual, it can even help guide you to solutions for story pieces or plot points you may be struggling with if you have been thinking about it a lot. Free-writes are great for mining for scraps to use in your regular writing. Sometimes you'll find that you are writing a story you didn't even know was in your head.
     When I created Decadent Angels, this was one of two creative writing exercises I used simultaneously (the other will be linked here). Of all the writing warm-ups I've tried this one is my favorite. It's great for exploring your imagination and for exploring your stories and characters in a way that can remove some of the pressures and confines of your novel or story. Largely because you can feel more comfortable not using whatever material you come up with through it, after all it is just a warm-up. It also can put you into the frame of mind to work on said story quickly. Maybe even kick the snot of writer's block more often than without it. I'd recommend making special playlists or Pandora stations some of your more personally compelling stories, characters or series. Music is a powerful tool for rapidly immersing yourself in one of your created worlds.
     Hope you find this useful. Who has tried this? What were your experiences with it? Did anything come out of it that surprised you?

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