on being an artist

Being an artist is simple. You have to produce artworks, it does not matter if good or bad, good might be easier, but not necessarily. Now you need to find someone who wants to profit from your works and is know in the art world. Get him to buy your stuff for a lot of bling, seashells and whatsoever, so he can sell it for more $.$ Don’t worry, just sell out. It’s easier as it looks and does not matter what you create. It just has to be pop.

Pro Photographers Advice

What can you do to improve your pictures? What should you avoid? What makes someone a pro? What an amateur? What’s the difference? Great video interviews covering all of this.

Best marketing scams ever

  1. Smoking makes cool
  2. Gambling is based on skill and only partly on luck
  3. Stars play MMORPGs
  4. The government is always right
  5. Radio killed Books, TV killed Radio, Internet killed Enterprises
  6. Internet Marketing is different to selling snake oil
  7. social media sites are interested in conversation instead of monetizing your private data

Once you start thinking for yourself life takes a nasty little twist, not everything is as it seems. Usually bad, but very profitable things, are promoted by a lot of people. Even those you think who are trustworthy. Be careful who you offer your trust. Don’t put your creative capital in the hands of someone else. Make sure you are the one who makes the money, and not the pawn working for a big content landlord.

Matt Mullenweg on WordPress GPL

Even though I think about creating a premium theme, I really love the stuff he is saying and what wordpress stands for. A lot of people creating themes are scared that they will get ripped off and say stuff like: Oh it’s time to switch to something else. Truth to be told, people use wordpress. The market is for wordpress. You switch to something else, you won’t even make half of what you will make when you publish a premium theme. It’s great that the basics come for free, that you can build on it, we should not be scared of the possibilities others will use our stuff.

Creativity in Action

Stupid movie quotes can really make my day- There is the all-time classic Rambo III dialogue, that shows that there can be too much minimalism. Some designers and Zen followers should think about that.

Hamid: What’s that?
Rambo: It’s blue light.
Hamid: What does it do?
Rambo: It turns blue.

As you can see, all relevant information have been delivered, and a few laughs. This is just one example how movies can teach us about life. Another one of my favorite movies, not to say that Rambo III would be one, is Predator. Thinking about becoming a freelancer? Watch Predator and learn from it. Let’s start with my favorite movie quote ever:

Poncho: You’re bleeding, man. You’re hit.
Blain: I ain’t got time to bleed.
Poncho: Oh… Okay…
Poncho: [shooting grenades to a MG-Nest] You got time to duck?

Again, we can find some sparse dialogue, but this time there is actually a message. “You’re bleeding, man. You’re hit.” Poncho underlines something that has happened and that seems to be important, at least to him. Now as a matter of fact, this might not be important for you. Even though Poncho is in your team, bleeding is something that you do alone, as are most creative processes, sure you can teamwork, brainstorm and get information from others, but after all, it’s up to you. Don’t let others tell you what’s important unless they will take an active role to change it.
This leads right to the second part of the quote “You got time to duck?”, which tells another simple truth, even though there are a lot of things (such as bleeding) where you make your own decisions, sometimes you have to listen to your teammates & friends or you will get hurt.

  1. Follow your own sources of inspiration, as there is no one who can do that for you.
  2. Listen to your friends when trouble is ahead.

Predator inspired work-flow

Now you could be of the opinion that after such an amazing inspiration delivered by Predator, that there is nothing more in it. That’s completely wrong, if you look closely you can find some other gems in there that will take your creativity and freelancing to another level.

  • Technology is king.
    The Predator has some fancy stealth armor that allows him to hunt without being seen, which makes him pretty badass. Not only is he invisible, he also has some nasty weapons to toy with. In the freelance world this means for you that you should get some decent equipment and make sure you stay up to date, it will make most of your tasks easier.
  • Even though technology is king, fancy is not always enough.
    Having the latest gadgets and tricks and being the meanest motherfucker on planet earth, even though you are an alien, does not make you prone to winning every time. Same goes for artists, just because you have the best technology and tools does not guarantee that you will create great art or get every job. You are just as good as your competitors.
  • Always have a backup plan.
    No matter who you are, always have a backup plan, Arnie had two traps to catch the predator. The predator had a nuclear bomb in case he lost. Someone dependent on creative capital should always create more than one project to have a backup plan, you always have to eat, and shelter in a cozy home is not bad as well.
  • Run when things are about to blow up.
    At the end Arnie was the winner, nevertheless he had to run like hell. This is one of the most important lessons you can learn as someone creating creative capital, no matter if you have to deal with jackass clients, or people who want to tell you how you have to create your art. Have your rules, stick to them and when someone else breaks those rules, don’t hesitate to take steps so he won’t break your rules again.
  • Don’t drop your equipment into the water.
    Mr. Fancy Predator jumped into the water, lost his invisibility as his gear was not waterproof and revealed that he had infrared vision, not being able to see cold targets. After all, this is what caused Mr. Predator to lose to Arnold, besides that it was an action movie in the 80s. Relates to the creative capitalist as following:

    1. clean your brushes, cameras and equipment.
    2. take care of your paperwork.
    3. use gloves when you work with prints.

The scene

The business of decisions

As someone who is working within the field of creative output everything boils down to making decisions. You have to pick colors, ideas and the right target group. Or you have to decide to go against the grain. As long as the efforts of this blog don’t even hit 1000$ per month, or maybe a few hundreds, this whole exercise does not count as a success.
It’s time for some actions… the buisness plan of decisions reworked

  1. Read less, write more

  2. Right now I am on an information overkill. I have been reading a lot of books, that are motivators to get yourself up and going, nevertheless reading does you no good unless you take some serious action, too much information is a disability. The less you know the more you will be able to approach without second thoughts or fears.

  3. Get my products on the market

  4. As of speaking right now, there are no real products I have created or promoted, besides 10 stock photos and my textures. As long as I don’t have something else to show for case study purposes on this blog, it’s time to push more of my textures, as those have been the most successful part of my blog.

  5. Connect with other bloggers

  6. My networking ability has been close to zero. My traffic simply sucks, I have to interact more with people within my niche.

  7. Produce, Produce, Produce

  8. Having created a few projects before smashill, this blog has proven to be something that feels right, even though the summer months have been very short of updates. By creating this blog and reading about creative works in the process a lot of new ideas grew in my head. It’s simply about time to get them done.

Conclusion

Take a more aggressive stance towards creating/producing products and stop being a passive consumer of content.

5 ways to create a unique character

Creative writing is one hell of a creative capital you can develop, but as long as you are not only describing what you are seeing you have to develop stories and characters populating your scenes. Writing is not easy, actually it is easy as you just need a pen and paper… and a good amount of nosebleed training. Developing characters with depth are a bit harder though. For many writers the question on how to develop a good and solid character, whether it be for a game, book, comic or as a mascot. The main character is usually no problem as most people tend to have a pretty clear cut image of that person, but there are always ways to improve

What do you need the character for?

Which intention do you have for the character, should it be a main character, an opponent to your main character or just an innocent bystander? Or do you need a character as a logo-mascot for a company? Determine your character and which traits such a character needs. A mascot usually has to be highly like-able and should make it easy to identify a company.

Pretty easy, just check out those 5 different approaches to get you started.

1. the autobiographical approach

An easy approach to create a character is to simply pick someone you know, yep I mean yourself, and work a story around that person who runs by your name. It does not have to be true, just use that person as a starting point. Character traits, flaws, strength, weakness, enemies, friends, job, surroundings… Following this approach usually leads to real world characters that you could find in a Nick Hornby novel. Someone who is probably like-able, has his problems, but after all manages to live his life. Or who enters one ridiculous situation after the other. It’s great for both, comedy and drama, as drama is just like a comedy without the funny moments.

2. sketchy identity theft

This one is pretty easy as well, just get to know the people around you. You can sit on a bench for a few hours and simply write down what kind of people you see. Now it’s time to get really shallow and give them friends, skills and flaws. Sometimes it’s great to do something shallow, but you can get some deep and twisted things as well. Here is an example for this process.

old man, grey hair, limping with his right leg, wearing old man clothes, seems to be sad and a bit ill

Now after you have outlined the appearance of your character it’s time to add some depth to it.

Jack “The Razor” Trent is a former Mobster who just had to bury his first son due to a murder. Now he is wandering around in his garden and planning his revenge. His limping relates to a shooting where his younger son Mario saw his father being shot. Mario decided to join the feds and tries to find the murder before his father does, as he is sick of all those crime related violence. They both love each other, but can’t show it.

3. by attributes

Creating a character through attributes is a good way to build up someone who has to play an important part in your story. The character evolves around certain traits and attributes that are either strength or weakness and play an important role in transporting your character. Making up a solid character takes some tweaking, but it’s easy to develop a character around a special trait and simply work everything else around it. You can go with contradictions to improve the depth, as there are no perfect people in real life and there has to be a way to related, or to hate/love those characters.

strong, violent, huge, not giving jack about anyone, sociopath

Very simple character that will usually get in the way of a main character to simply fall victim to the usually smaller but smarter hero and his friends.

small, timid, womanizer

Working with contradictions can be very useful, as for example someone who is small and extremely timid, yet so attractive that every woman falls for him and he has more affairs than the alpha male.

4. from influences

Everything is influencing you, weather it be nature, TV, a Movie, take all those influences. It does not matter if your plan is to create something wicked that has never been done before, or simply use an idea and spin it to another level. There might be a quote, although it’s not really attributed, by Pablo Picasso “Good artists copy, great artists steal”, you only have to please yourself, after all creative writing is about creating pieces of art.

  • an action movie inspires you to write a comedy
  • a love story turns into an action packed roller-coaster
  • a spy/crime story helps you to picture a small encounter in your book
  • you pick a the movie name of an extra and add him to your story

5. to match someone else

Developing 1 character is easy, adding others becomes even easier. You can simply think of people this guy/woman would befriend, would avoid, would call an enemy, and so on. The more you work on the surrounding and the supporting cast of your main characters the more vivid your story can become. Make that at least you can visualize every character before you add him to your story.

  • two brothers – one successful, the other failing
  • inner demons, trying to do good, always doing bad
  • a teacher living at home with his dominant mother
  • a boy teaching his parents how to live happy

6. pain and pleasure

There is no story without pain and pleasure, especially if you want to create a comedy. Writing fiction is great, you can let your characters suffer as you like. Pain, tragedy, laughs, your goal in a story should be to build an emotional connection with your reader.

  • let a love-able guy break down from society, just to build him up later.
  • let your hero suffer a tragedy and let him get back at his opponents.
  • your main character is dropped by dozens of women, each time more painfully, just to find his love.

7. the law of flaw’s & skill’s

You usually want to go for well rounded characters, as those are the most appealing and give your audience the best chance to enjoy a story. As a well rounded character is usually far away from being perfect you have to learn to give your character flaws that will match up the weakness, or the other way around. The audience has to like the character, otherwise it will simply not care about it and all your writing efforts are spilled in the gutter.

advanced reading

Actually I always have problems with books by people who have just published on book, and that book is about creative writing. It pretty much says you all you need to know about that author, he was either not good enough to get his novels published or he uses a pen name. Just trust people who have some solid references if you are going to invest a few bucks into a book. Here is my favorite book about writing comedy.
The Comic Toolbox: How to Be Funny Even If You’re Not

Written by one of the writers of Married with Children, this is a book that I can recommend to everyone who wants to get into writing comedy and drama. There are plenty of exercises that will help you develop comical skills, while being a quick and easy read.