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I’m alive! I promise! A brief summary of things I did.

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I realized today that I haven’t updated this blog in a while, and though I’ll get the chance to this Friday, I thought it would be urgent to let you know that I am, in fact, alive and kicking. I just haven’t been able to use the Internet for a while because:

1) at the beginning of May until about the 22nd, I was in Arizona in areas where Internet was a luxury similar to having a house with indoor air conditioning, which wasn’t often. As amazing and life-influencing as the experience was, it was not conductive to blogging, and so I had to relent. But then,

2) when I got home, my mom informed me that her wireless router had broken, and for the week that I was there, I had to live without Internet once again. However, I didn’t mind, since another week or two without it wouldn’t kill me (one of the many things I learned at the beginning of the month was what I could live without and no matter how many nerds may argue with me, Internet is one of those things).

3) once the week was up, I went back up to Sandusky, Ohio, to start my summer job. The apartment I’m staying at didn’t get its own internet connection until last week.

4) I was too busy drawing and reading.

I’m one of those few people that can live without television, and because of that, I have more free time than most people because I’m not watching what happens next on Desperate Housewives or, God forbid, Jersey Shore (thank you, ex-roommate, for showing me why reality TV is overrated with your addiction to the Kardashians. I do not miss listening to them at 8 o’clock in the morning). So with all this free time, I’m not only drawing and practicing my comics, but I’m also reading a HUMONGOUS stack of books this summer. I just finished reading:

Omega the Unknown by Jonathan Lethem and Farel Dalrymple
Reinventing Comics by Scott McCloud
Sleepwalk and other stories by Adrian Tomine
Life Sucks by Jessica Abel, Gabriel Soria, and Warren Pleece

…and a couple of other books which I can’t remember right now. I’m currently reading:

The Seven Spiritual Laws of Yoga by Deepak Chopra (which I may stop reading, but haven’t decided yet)
God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything by Christopher Hitchens (which I may stop reading because he focuses entirely on the monotheistic religions and doesn’t bring enough focus to other faiths. I myself am rather spiritual, but I love to read material that makes me think because it doesn’t fit my beliefs. However, his book is starting to prove to be a personal vendetta against Christianity and Islam rather than an objective book on multiple faiths like I had hoped for. It IS interesting to note the arguments he makes about religion being amoral and wish-fulfilling, though.)
Zen and the Art of Happiness by Chris Prentiss
The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
Zen and the Art of Anything by Hal French
Something Under the Bed is Drooling: a collection of Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Watterson (I’m in love with this collection)
No Plot? No Problem! A Low-Stress, High Velocity Guide to Writing a Novel in 30 Days by Chris Baty (the guy who founded National Novel Writing Month)
How NOT to Write a Novel by Howard Mittelmark and Sandra Newman
Blacksad by Juan Diaz Canales and Juanjo Guarnido
Scott Pilgrim vs the World vol. 1 by Bryan Lee O’Malley
Two Flowers for the Dragon vol. 1 by Nari Kusakawa
Daniel X, the Manga vol. 1 by James Patterson
Bone by Jeff Smith (I never got the chance to finish reading this series. Now’s the best time since the library has all the volumes)

…and a LOT more. Next week I’ll post my reading list and see if I come up with any new names and titles.

Now, a brief synopsis of what I was doing at the beginning of May…

After finals week, I went with thirty other people in three white vans to Arizona to stay on the Navajo Reservation for two weeks. I was excited, but tried to keep my expectations low so I could enjoy it.

I can now successfully say that not only do I have a greater appreciation for accepting chaos and chaotic situations, talking to people you otherwise wouldn’t want to be in a room with for more than five seconds, showers, beds, ice cream, living in the moment, and realizing that reality is not about discovering your individuality, it’s about being part of the people….

But I now dearly miss the taste of Fry Bread more than I missed the taste of ice cream the entire trip. Navajo Fry Bread is delicious!

I WILL be updating more on that because I took a gazillion pictures and kept a sketch diary on my trip (which includes a primitive-looking comic strip and a contribution from a traditional Navajo painter). I want to share what I experienced with all of you as the week goes by. So with that said…

I’ll do my best to update my blog everyday this week, though we shall see what my work schedule permits.

P.S. I love my job up here in Sandusky. Being a caricature artist is awesome.

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Web Hosting: What Not to Do

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I hope that this story I share with you all will serve as a cautionary tale. If you are thinking about hosting your own website or blog, please read on, and hopefully you won’t make the same mistakes as I did.

So during Christmas break one year (I think it was two or three years ago now), I got the idea in my head that I should do what everyone else is doing and host my own website. The advantages seemed obvious to me: I could post my artwork on my own domain name (which, if you don’t know what that is, that’s the “yournamehere” part of www.yournamehere.com), I could not worry about censorship from some overhead entity, and I could make a community around my stuff. I didn’t really think too much about the problems that could come with this, and I jumped in headfirst.

I checked around to see what kind of hosts I would want to work with, and I eventually decided on DreamHost. I can’t remember exactly why I picked it, though I think a portion of it was that if I wasn’t satisfied, I could contact them and get my money back within 60 days. That, and they had an option for just having a website hosting package for a month (most places do it in yearly installments) so I was like, “Well if I don’t like it, it’s only a month and I can let it expire or something.”

Here’s where the problems started.

I was ready to go, and I purchased a plan. I thought, “Oh, they say it’s $10 a month, so they’ll only want $10 for the upfront costs and an extra $10 for the domain registration (buying my own name).”

That’s not how it works.

When you make a purchase for web hosting, they expect you to pay for the YEAR, UP FRONT. So my assumption of a $20 purchase became a $122 purchase in less than 5 minutes. Not to mention the registration fee of yet another $10, so the total cost was $132.

I was freaking out, mostly because at the time of purchasing, I was a first-year college student and I didn’t have an ass-wad of cash in my back pocket, but I went through with the purchase, anyway, thinking “Well, these hosts are suppose to make making a website easy, right?”

No.

No they did not.

What I got after the sudden price jump was a “control board”, or a set of fancy links on the side of the page, that I had no idea what the terms meant. I don’t remember all the terms I encountered, nor do I care to. But I distinctly remember feeling the sensation of going over my head and having a slight panic attack.

I thought, “I’ll just make things easier and put up a WordPress blog, since I have no clue how to code stuff.” And fortunately, this host had one-click WordPress installation.

Problem was I didn’t know how to operate WordPress after it was installed.

So after about twenty minutes of this overwhelming madness, I decide that I no longer want my own website or hosting, so I go to call DreamHost to cancel my subscription.

DreamHost does not have a phone number. All they have is a “Help Forum” and “Help Wiki”.

Let me just say I hate “Help Forums” like vegans hate meat. I find Help Forums completely unorganized and they always ask THE SAME STUPID QUESTIONS that are absolutely irrelevant to me, and anytime I ask for help on a complicated issue, the user just reply with very general advice and completely ignores the specifics of my question.

I could be like “I can’t access my external hard drive on this computer because of the operating system not being compatible, but all my important documents are on it. Is there any way to get this information?” And some shmuck will answer, “Did you try plugging it in?”

So instead I found their email address, sent them a message saying I wanted to cancel, and within about two weeks, I no longer had a subscription with them and I got $90 back (they didn’t return the money for the domain registration or the cheap set-up fee, which I can live with).

So if you are thinking about getting your own website, seriously think about it. Look into as many hosts as possible, and generally ignore ANY advice you read on forums that discuss web hosting: half of the people on those things are trolls and don’t provide an objective view. If you know people who host with particular web hosts, ask them about their experiences. That will tell you more than any forum will.

Also, I read somewhere to “avoid any sites that say ‘unlimited (insert some feature here)'”. Ignore that. If you find a web host you like that promises unlimited whatever-it-may-be, just go for it. I haven’t heard of any problems from those kinds of hosts…so far.

In the meantime, however, I know I will keep using free blog services like BlogSpot. They’re easy to control, interactive, and best of all, free.

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Musicians You Should Listen to…Right Now

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Ok, so as I was drawing a comic for my final project for school (yes, I get to do that, and yes, it’s AWESOME), I was listening to the music I have and realized that most people don’t know who these artists are. So I want to remedy that…and introduce you to some really cool new musicians.

Firstly, Alex Day Today’s actually the first time I’ve heard his stuff, but oh my GOD, I love his acoustic work. His album Soup Sessions are mostly songs about love, but they’re still sweet. Plus, he’s British, and his accent is adorably thick. I love it.

Second, Two Cans. These guys are actually local to my campus, so I’m partially biased for them. They’re a techno rock group, but they love to experiment, and I love that spirit they have in their music.

Third, Ellery. They perform just about every year in the Arts Village, the residential community I live in. Their label on YouTube is “Alternative”, but this is definitely a mellow performance group, similar to Sixpence None the Richer.

Fourth, Hemline Theory. I did album art for these guys way back in the day. :D Seriously, though, I love their sound. The best way to describe their sound? Jazz…for ghosts.

Fifth, Year of the Gun. They’re a hard rock group based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. It’s incredibly awkward for me to mention this, personally, because the lead guitarist was the guitar teacher for my ex-fiance. Despite that, they’re easy to listen to, and I love the riffs they go on.

Sixth, Todd Carey. This is the most pop-y artist out of this list…but he knows how to work his voice and his guitar. I don’t know what else to say.

Seventh, I think I’ve saved my nerdy best for last…Hank Green. He’s the cofounder of DFTBA (Don’t Forget To Be Awesome) Records, who also releases Alex Day, mentioned above. But Hank Green is my go-to-guy for nerd songs and general happiness. He writes songs on stuff like quarks, and makes it cool.

I hope you enjoy! If you have any little-known musicians you’d like to share, please leave a comment in the comments below! :D

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My Artistic Influences

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This originally started as a Facebook meme, but I wanted to share this list with you all. The stipulation in making this list was that I would list the first names that came to my head and not give too much thought into it. So there are more artists who inspire and influence my art style (especially on deviantart), but I thought I would share just the first people who came to mind when creating this list.

Here is the list of the artists, musicians, performers, etc. that influence and inspire my art:

1. Yoshihiro Togashi (more for his work on Hunter x Hunter, a manga series which I LOVE)
 2. Michelangelo

3. Ai Yazawa (Nana is FAR better than Paradise Kiss, but the latter was my first series of hers I read)

4. Lady Gaga
 5. Scott McCloud (Making Comics is my bible)
 
6. Brad Bird

 

7. Jeff Smith (I <3 Bone!)
 
8. Don Bluth (pre-1990s)
 
9. Tess Stone (creator of Hanna is Not a Boy’s Name, which is AMAZING!)
 
10. Hayao Miyazaki (I love the messages he has in his work, and the fact his movies cover a LOT of age ranges)
11. Walt Disney (the man and his art, not the company)
 
12. Tetsuya Nomura (the character designer of Kingdom Hearts and Final Fantasy)
13. Yoko Kanno (INCREDIBLE musician!)
14. Shinichiro Watanabe (I love his directorial work for Cowboy Bebop)
15. Satoshi Kon (director of Paranoia Agent and Paprika)

I realize many of my artistic influences are from directors of animated movies, but 1) they have art styles, too, and 2) I was originally going to go into animation before I stuck with illustration, but their influence has stayed with me.

So what artists inspire you to create? I’d love to hear in the comments. :3

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