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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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Thoughts from Places: the Toledo Museum of Art

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Yes, I totally took the idea of titling this blog from the vlogbrothers. They sometimes do a segment called “Thoughts from Places,” where they record what they did at a particular location and then reflect on what they had experienced.

I intend on doing the same here.

Last week, I went to the Toledo Museum of Art to check out the exhibition of Frank Stella’s Irregular Polygons. It was at this exhibition that I first came across the idea of an artist making things for the logic of it, and for utilizing their functional brains and showing it. In other words, thinking over feeling.

I had never thought about making art as a process of thinking over feeling. I was under the assumption that the arts existed to show emotions of the user. Thinking about it, though, I could maybe understand the idea of art showing the results of logical experimentation, over showing the results of spontaneity.

This is a sculpture. It freaks me the f**k out how realistic this is. My friend Ben and I thought he was actually asleep.

Sometimes art could be like a scientific experiment: you play with materials to see the outcome of it, without putting emotion into it. Or it would be more like testing an idea before making it a final image.

But when does a test become art? And why would it be called art? The common man assumption is that art is an expression of creativity, but these experiments in materials and logic seem to go against that definition. Logic is not creative, according to this idea.

In the art world, I’ve noticed, we don’t use the everyday-man definition. We, being artists, made one up.

I’m so glad I could see this original by Piet Mondrian. It’s better to see in person than in pictures.

The definition of art, to my understanding of how academia sees it, is an expression of the artist’s mind. Whether that mind be logical or emotional, that’s up to them.

Does this mean logical art wins over emotional art? Depends on who you ask. If you ask me, I say both have their pluses and minuses. Art that uses the creator’s logic can lend itself to breaking the formal rules of the art world. Art of logic doesn’t have to be representational (that is, look like something that already exists) and it doesn’t have to represent just one idea.

A Frank Stella original. I believe this was made after the Irregular Polygon series. And it’s humongous.

The cool thing about logic-based art is that it can open up the mind to play with those same principals that are being broken.

The problem is that most people don’t know what those principals are.

Not that art based in emotion answers those questions, either: they can break the rules, as well, but usually it’s done on the artist’s whim and personal expression. It wouldn’t necessarily be based on playing with formulas to stimulate their functional parts of the brain.

For the emotional artist, art exists to express ideas they feel in those moments, ideas that are based on their perceptions and feelings. Logic often doesn’t come in at all.

This piece was titled something like “City Scape”, though I feel like it looks over a harbor of boats.

As can be noted in the caption for the picture above, the artist that uses emotions willingly lets their pieces be open to interpretation for the patron. For many of them, it’s not about, “This is my idea, do not deviate from this idea.” It’s more about letting the viewer make up their own meaning.

This goes against the logical artist because the logical one makes things and just lets them be. They often don’t have some kind of emotional message to the work.

Another thing that can be noted for the logical artist is that sometimes their pieces can be functional.

This is a bank teller’s gate. The photo can’t capture it’s intense level of detail.

The bank teller’s gate, above, is a good example of this. The enormous bronze doors shown at the Carnegie Museum of Art are another.

Can logic and emotion combine into one art piece? Sure. After all, art is an expression of the artist’s mind. An art piece can be both logical and satisfy the artist’s left brain and be emotional and satisfy the right brain. Rules can be played with and emotions can be displayed.

This Grecian vase, besides being lavishly detailed, is both functional/logical and emotional.

The Greeks and Egyptians did that a lot, but especially the Greeks: they were obsessed with the Golden Ratio and mathematical formulas, so their vases and other forms of art would fit into these logical molds. But then they could be decorated with stories, which are more whimsical and emotional. In this way, Greeks satisfied both parts of their brain, the left and right side.

Personally, I always go towards the emotional art: they, more often than not have stories behind them. They can also portray the artist’s life circumstances of that moment.

This is a painting of the artist’s male lover. It has both story and tenderness to it.

Logic-based art is something I can respect, and understand a little bit, but it’s not something I would like to do. My brain is logical, sure, but that doesn’t mean I can understand the other artist’s logic.

I have no idea what this is suppose to be.

If you’ve noticed, art within the last century has been shifting from being based on emotions and stories to being based on logic and the creator’s thought processes. I don’t know if this is a bad move, but I think that can explain why I don’t understand modern art at all. There are times that I just can’t understand the artists themselves. And if you can’t understand the artist, you can’t understand the artwork they’ve made.

What do you guys think? Let me know in the comments below.

Also, sorry this entry was OBSCENELY long, but there were so many ideas I wanted to get off my chest. Keep your eyes open for another blog update in the next couple of days. ;D

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