Website updates – using Google Fonts and other methods to improve loading times.

I’ll be implementing Google Fonts on my websites, beginning with TriumphantArtists.com, as text links, with images behind them – as opposed to using images *as* the links.  You know those buttons at the top of every page on TriumphantArtists.com?

They all look the same except for the text, and if I separate the text from the rest of the image I can use just one button image as the base for every link, thus shaving a few hundred kilobytes off the page load times.

This – and other similar optimizations – are important because they can improve bounce rates.  There are some people who visit the site for the first time, on slow connections, and immediately leave when it takes more than a second or two to load.  That’s a problem!

I’m also going to compress the main page video further too, making it a bit smaller in size.  The more I can make things load faster while still looking nice, the better!

Craft Fair went well

I’ve made over $250 in total at the craft fair.

Items such as the kitten artwork [colored pencil, faved a lot on Etsy but not bought by anyone there] and the Easter chick sold, so it seems my depictions of animals were well received as usual.

I’ve also sold a spectacularly large item on eBay, made to order for a customer there.

Impressionist landscape artwork

That was a colossal 5′ by 8′ item on canvas, I’ve shipped it and it’s on its way to the customer.  It cost them $108.

So – all told – I’m in good shape to push things beyond where they were before.  I’m ordering a new GPU (video card) for my computer and will try to set that up soon.  I’ve also acquired a few other smaller things that I need, and much of that is related to a virtual tour of the former Church of The Redeemer meeting location.  That’s one of a handful of Unity 3d projects being developed in tandem, so any shaders, plugins, etc, used for this will also be useful elsewhere.

The Redeemer DVDs were generally very popular and the Blu Rays less so even though they look amazing on a high-def TV.  1280×720 video may not be flawless resolution but it’s well above 720×480.  If you’re online asking for a copy, keep in mind that aside from a teaser for the virtual tour, pretty much everything on those discs is church service footage only of interest to the aging people who attended the church prior to 2011.

It’s not exactly a seat of your pants, high octane thriller.

But – it may well lead to some exciting videos making it online, ones that are shorter but way cooler looking and faster-paced, than a church service.

Right now I’m slashing prices on all of my Etsy listings by 20-35% (until May 10) so that’s worth a look.  The eBay listings also have mostly dropped by 5-10% as sales there have slowed down slightly lately.  A lot of that kind of stuff ebbs and flows.  Sometimes I see 3 or 4 people all commission unique artworks in a single week, other times I can go a month with nothing much selling.  So it’s hardly consistent and right now I’m expecting a boost in activity, partly due to the sales and reduced pricing, and partly because I have launched a bit of advertising this week.  So if you like an item I made, that you see on Etsy, buy it before it sells to someone else.

MY ETSY SHOP!

MY EBAY SHOP – OVER 180 RATINGS, ALL POSITIVE!

NOW SELLING ON ETSY, under $35:

Winter Landscape

UNDER $30!:

Fantasy Coast - gouache

UNDER $20 FOR EACH SET!:

Still Life series batch #2

Old still life series, batch #1

Lot of four old fantasy art landscapes

Set of 5 old landscape artworks

Old batch of floral artworks from 2000s onward.

There are INSANE bargains all across my network right now and you should definitely take a look if you haven’t already.

 

 

 

Still reeling and coping with the setbacks

I think in a few days I’ll have the PC operating normally, more or less.

While the Windows OS update was screwing up my plans for a video channel release (previously scheduled for May 10 but now pushed back by two weeks.) I also found a message in my spam folder notifying me that vividminigolf.com was not set to auto renew and that it was expiring.

Fortunately I got it renewed within the grace period, that brief span between when a domain expires and when it is purchasable by other people.  But for a couple days the site was down and the game was inaccessible.  Sorry about that.

I think things are getting back on track, more or less – I have a few options for getting my PC working again ranging from mild [replacing faulty AMD drivers] to severely annoying [reinstalling the OS] but all of them depend on first backing up everything on the internal drives in case something goes severely wrong and the hardware is basically unrecoverable.  That is unlikely but I’m backing all the content up via command line anyway.  This takes some time, and involves a lot of copying of subdirectories to and from a 128gb flash drive.

The first attempt to acquire signatures from a few cast members failed; I’m now revising the terms and will send out those forms on a person by person basis beginning with an initial set of 40 people or so on May 17.  The terms for cast members are now even more generous, to the point where under some circumstances the video channel might not prove to be viable.  I recognize that if the channel on my website were to take off suddenly with above 500k viewers, and the other stuff – the sale items – don’t grow at a similar pace, the cost to me could be enormous and might cause a systemic failure of my web network.

Why?  Because I’m using sale products as a substitute for conventional third party ad revenue.  Should the sale products disappoint and fall below a certain ratio relative to the video views, the profitability of my websites go down and maybe even go negative.  The threshhold at which this happens was, in the original document, very unlikely to be crossed, but now I think the odds of the video channel losing money are hovering around 25%.  This is something that I can adjust to some degree to improve things if they get bad enough, like:

-writing most upcoming videos with smaller casts of about 3-4 persons instead of sprawling ensembles.

-minimizing location shoots off my property.

-increasing promotion frequency [advertising] of related sale products in the video channel playlists in an attempt to boost revenue on the channel to a tenable level.

-promoting my video channel only subtly and emphasizing the shop on most non video pages.

My hope is that the video channel will raise about as much revenue as it costs, maybe even prove mildly profitable somehow.  That would be amazing, and in my view the effort breaking even is still something of a victory.

Since we’re discussing the shops and sale items, I think it’s a perfect time to point out the stuff I’ve got piled into the Etsy and eBay shops right now.  There’s more there than is usually the case and you should check that out.

I’ve got a bunch of antiquarian magazine issues [I maestri del colore] on sale right now on eBay, substantially undervalued, someone could absolutely buy a lot of 20 and flip them, reselling them as individual listings.  That might actually make you a tidy profit.  But those listings are ending right about now!

My eBay shop

I also have a bunch of my old work on sale on Etsy now.  Lots of stuff.  Batches of old artworks that have been around a few years and haven’t sold locally – but which are now on sale at really great low prices!

My Etsy shop

I am screaming profanities right now

My PC, the one I do pretty darn near all my digital work on, is stuck with a blue screen of death.  Again.

When this happened I was initially yelling at my computer at the top of my lungs and crying.  I have been so far unable to start it up [to desktop] but after some effort made it to the command prompt and am attempting a number of possible solutions.  I am incredibly frustrated and it goes pretty much without saying that I’m going to miss the April 10th goal I had set for myself regarding the video channel.

I feel sometimes, no, I KNOW, that I’m doing things that push my pathetic hardware and tools to the breaking point.  I don’t have any other choice; this broken down pile of garbage is all I can currently afford.  If it goes down permanently I am stuck with a serious mountain of problems and I don’t know if my web network would survive that.

I am selling a lot of old vintage books, or trying to, but although they are apparently of some value nobody is bidding on them.  I hope that someone buys something soon on Etsy or eBay, from me, as that would give me access to options like buying a good replacement video card sooner, rather than later, and having local backups of key files instead of relying solely on a cloud service.  Basically I get the sense that my workflow has a minimum of redundancy and that when one of a few dozen key things fails, everything in the pipeline grinds to a halt.  Maybe some things could even get ruined permanently as has happened occasionally before.  Things breaking, stalling, progress in fits and starts, is happening way too much lately.  Really hoping for a breakthrough here someday.

I’ll keep you all posted as this fiasco progresses.

Am hoping that some of you will buy something from me on Etsy as I am using this delay as an opportunity to make and post new art there and also some batches of old works I might as well list at low end prices.

And again, there is the magazine stuff from 1964, I Maestri del Colori, old art publications that I am trying to sell right now, among other eBay listings.

Thank you all for being so patient with me generally.

I know this has been a long, slow wait.

If you haven’t already noticed the ‘ways to help‘ page on TriumphantArtists.com, um, now would be a good time to do something on that list so maybe, just maybe, I can get things moving again.  Again, thank you.

Houston, Texas residents take note!

LOCAL SERVICES & EVENTS RELATED TO MY ART/VIDEO WORK:

If you’re in the Houston area, especially somewhere near the Eastwood neighborhood or University of Houston, the downtown area, etc…

SPECIAL LOCAL EVENT VIDEOGRAPHY

Well, I’m going to begin offering local services like videography [low-cost event videography for weddings and other special events] fairly soon.  My fees are around minimum wage and in practice more like $4.80/hour when measured accurately, so really super affordable compared to many other services, and I offer multicamera coverage of events so if one camera has a problem, for any reason, none of the events that are taking place are lost.  Price is $7.50/event hour plus an extra $4 per DVD or Blu Ray delivered the week afterward, and these are DVDs/Blu Rays with disc art, cover art, and a few basic nice features like that.  But while I will do this work for cheap, I won’t do it for nothing, or as has often been requested, for a loss.  (Incidentally – I’ve still got ten batches of video from the Episcopal Church of the Redeemer closing ceremony lingering on my desktop PC – I recorded all that for free – but I won’t deliver it on discs unless somebody actually covers the cost of that!  That stuff is *still* just sitting in a folder on my hard drive years after the fact all due to the church members’ unwillingness to pay $4/disc for it!  Kind of a dumb stalemate there, and doubly dumb given that for another $150 I’d be willing to make a realtime 3D tour of the entire church building as it was a decade ago, in Unity 5, and include that on the discs.  1/3 of the building is already sculpted in 3D, but that too is stalled because nobody will cover the cost of completing it [even though I have 14-mp photos of pretty much every surface of the structure inside & out, hundreds of them, and the skills/tools to generate a full realistic 3D version of the structure that players can walk around in on Windows and Mac.)  The worst part is that many of the church members are senile tech-illiterate dodos who probably will never even realize this blog exists or what they could have had very cheaply.  Sorry, but I refuse to coddle you anymore or continue absorbing losses doing things as an unpaid volunteer for you all.

(I don’t believe in your ancient myths any more either and I’m agnostic, nearly atheist in practice and generally no longer willing to quietly accept idiocy and irrational wishful thinking that defies logic.)

 

LOCAL SCOUTING PROGRAM AND VIDEO SCREENINGS THERE:

Boy Scout Troop 4 meets at the Church of the Redeemer Lutheran and I’m still somewhat involved in the group as a sort of leader / Assistant Scoutmaster despite having turned 18 well over a decade ago.  This group is awesome with some great but aging leaders and a fascinatingly funny legacy dating back a century, which includes great events, parties, camping and hiking, road trips, video productions, even a flight to Hawaii for a week once in 2005! – but if there aren’t a few new scouts inbound (plus a parent or two volunteering) the group is likely to continue to deteriorate and will disband entirely at the end of 2017.  That’d be a shame but not a surprise.  The BSA – a largely bloated, inefficient and corrupt non-profit institution and not really adhering to its founding ethical principles anyway –  is not adapting adequately to changing demographics; when over 2/3 of young Americans [under 30] are non-religious* and the organization actively bars non-believers from being involved even if they’re idealists who truly are trying to be good to others [just without faith in a God] then it’s no surprise that the organization is going downhill and generally screwed in the long run.  Their efforts at inclusivity have been slow, confusing and mismanaged [the multi-stage acceptance of non-heterosexual scouts] and they’ve hit a bad stage where they are adopting policies which alienate both the conservative religious groups and the emerging secular culture.  It seems like they don’t know what the hell they’re doing.  The fragmented culture of America, to be fair, has become something of a minefield for this sort of organization and controversy is seemingly found everywhere.

So if the troop is headed for dissolution, at least it’ll have a legacy living on through the troop’s website, the comic books, videos and even the little T4 adventure game in development.  Some time this summer I want to set up a big HD projection/sound system and play all the T4 movies, remastered, for the group, both current and past scouts, complete with drinks & popcorn.  It’d be a great chance to see why the troop is amazing – a big party and local boys ages 10-17 and their parents are encouraged to drop in and watch when that takes place.  (TBD)

 

ART MARKET and VIDEO PRODUCTION GROUP:

Vineyard Church of Houston, had an Art Market last Christmas and likely that’ll be an annual event so keep that in mind for the end of the year, as I’ll almost surely have a booth there again at the end of 2017, and also there’s a Video Production / Movie Makers group there probably September-November 2017 (if pastor Michael Palandro approves it, which he might, given my Dad’s consistent and steadfast supportive position in the church and my undeniable credibility as far as relevant skills are concerned, or he might not, given some of my openness about not believing in God.)

WALL ART, MURALS, ART TUTORING, ART WORKSHOPS, 3D PREVIZ, all made affordable:

You can commission artworks – handmade wall art, murals, and similar – from me (again, quite affordably and a bit under minimum wage) locally as well.  I can also teach art and video skills locally, and I’m able to create virtul tours/previs cheaply for anyone needing to show a potential client what a redesigned or ccompletely new property or location could someday look like.

Try emailing me via matthornb@gmail.com if you need an actual creative job done in the Houston area and maybe we can work something out.  Please though, no more emails from scammers.  I’m tired of evil, pathetic brain-dead criminal morons trying to con me and failing miserably at it.  Don’t even try.  It’s a waste of my time and yours.

Windfall

I’ve been given a large batch of old art books by my grandparents; they’d been owned by my grandfather Daniel, and after he passed away they were handed down to me by his wife Sharlene.

I didn’t think much of it at the time but apparently these old 1960s publications – I Maestri del Colore – are fairly valuable.  Not extremely valuable, but there are a lot of them in my house [almost 90 issues] and they’re worth anywhere from $5 to $150 each.  Most are valued around $10-15, but some issues are worth more and some less.  So I’m selling them off on eBay right now in batches.  If you stumbled across this blog post by searching for I Maestre del Colore for your collection of antiquarian books or whatever, and are actually here actively looking for that Italian magazine, then by all means take a look at my eBay shop:

My eBay shop — also, if you are interested, please take a look at some of my other projects on my various websites, as they’re likely to benefit noticeably from the sale of these old art books.  I won’t be able to launch the stock footage I’d planned to, any time soon, but nonetheless my new video channel, new handmade art on Etsy, new comics/graphic novel content, and an update on my Spiral Skies game… all of those things are still on track for a release in mid April 2017.

Just to generate a bit of curiosity, maybe get you all a bit excited even, here’s a little .GIF pulled from one of my upcoming videos:

‘Storm 2’ animation, vfx shot

April 10-15, 2017 – the big updates

Why is next Monday, April 10 – and every Monday after that for the next 15 weeks – going to be epic?  Here’s why:

  1. Comics.  New T4 content – the Troop 4 Uncensored, pt 4 comic book [divided into 10-12 parts] -and the first portions of Another Road Taken, which have been delayed way, way too long, will be posted during this span.  Not that anyone has complained.  Most of you either don’t know what I’m even referring to – or do know but have been really patient with me.
  2. Game news.  Spiral Skies sees actual up-to-date media content [new stuff to see on a new website specifically chosen for the project – SpiralSkiesGame.com – posted on one of these Mondays.  This is something that actually has gotten a bit of response which is great… though at this time nothing is visible on the new domain, just on PanoramicWorlds.com.
  3. The video channel.  It’ll be on TriumphantArtists.com I’ve put some substantial effort into this launch but my friends/actors mostly have yet to sign a digital document I sent them, which, in effect, stalls almost every video I really strongly want online from actually being placed online.  When they ask about the videos not being online, I turn the question around and ask them why they have been unwilling to sign the documents I sent them.  I tell them that THEY are holding back said releases.  Most of them seem genuinely surprised by this.  Perhaps once I am pulling in thousands of viewers these holdouts will actually notice, and respond to, the messages I sent.
  4.  More artworks on Etsy in the lead up to the mid-April launches.  This is the only way that some of the launch content can actually [realistically] materialize faster.  If you audience members like the items I list on Etsy then buy them, knowing that those sales [if made in the next few weeks] will finance completion of more videos, etc.  So once again, please take a look at my Etsy shop.

Here are the different videos [definitely] making it online in the next 15 weeks.  Longer projects are often split into multiple webisodes and I currently estimate between 24 and 36 videos being on the channel by the last of the 15 weeks.   24 is the likely outcome if nobody signs off on the legal documents in the next few weeks.  36, potentially, if a bunch of the signatures are collected soon.

DEFINITELY RELEASED IN NEXT 15 weeks:

House Trek: The Original Series – this is a reworking of an old video series from 2001-2004 that had a very silly take on space travel, badly going where much better sci fi series had already been before.  The fifth episode, the longest one, is now a two parter, and there’s also a short new episode tacked on to the end of the series to bridge the gap between this and the upcoming House Trek: The Next Generation.

Storm – an old 2003 art video short depicting a rainstorm.

Storm 2 – new short video two-parter in which I find myself alone in the house unprepared during a severe hurricane.

Relativity  – Escheresque 2004 art video with cool [and recently somewhat reworked] imagery that messes with your perceptions.

Send in The Clones 1, remastered  The brief first [2001] video in the aging ‘Clones’ video series.

Creativity – 2005 art video short.

Awakening  – new eerie short video in which I find myself struggling with persistently trippy and creepy nightmares which affect my judgement and sanity even when I’m awake.

Refuge – new 3-episode sci-fi short with some freaky horror-ish surprises.  It’s the year 2202, Earth is a poisoned wasteland and the surviving humans have traveled to another world to keep going.  But now people are going missing at an alarming rate!

Sheol – psychological horror/mind bender.  Brand new short.  After an internet troll interrupts a video chat, and threatens to kill me, I wake up the next morning imprisoned in a horrific death trap.

MAYBE RELEASED IN NEXT 15 weeks:

“Matthew’s Portal” (2005) a classic family mind-bender with a fun and clever story.

“Send in The Clones 2” (2002) My clones rapidly transition from laziness to rebellion.

“Duel 2030” – Recorded in 2007-2008, it’s a dark post-apocalyptic action mini-epic.

“Snow Siege” – The first of the videos I recorded with my cousins, in 2003.  A kid-friendly holiday classic.

“Tinyville Disaster” (2003) – A classic comedy made with stop-motion animation.

“Fortress Siege” – a 2009 medieval comedy that is equal parts visually impressive and wackily absurd.

 

 

FEBRUARY 2017 RECAP

Recapping the recent events of February 2017, just the last month, to remind everyone that despite appearances, a lot of updates do actually happen on my web network if you keep looking:

-eBay auctions with low starting bids continue.  Look at these three in particular, especially the top two as they’ve gotten relatively few views so far compared to the third but are nonetheless impressive value:

Pastel Pencil art, 16×20 inches, starting at $1.99

Oil pastel art, 18×24 inches, starting at $2.49

Acrylic Painting, 18 x 24 inches, starting at $2.99

-The new batch of polls continue to go largely ignored by website visitors.  I’ve gotten *hundreds* of visitors to my websites in the past week, over 700 actually, but the polling page seems to be a bit hard for them to find for whatever reason.  It’s a shame, too, given the amazing opportunity for the few who actually take a look at that page.

The polling page.

-Membership options just launched.  There are some stupendous perks to being a subscriber and signing up for a Premium Membership status here.

The most obvious is free shipping while a member and 15% or more off all HornbostelProductions.com store items.  You could get some great bargains on handmade art doing that right now.  $4.99/year for 15% or more off everything, and a list of other extras.  Really reasonable.

Membership benefits

-The VFX section of Articles were just recently posted.  There are four new articles on TriumphantArtists.com, and they are all in that category.

VFX and 3D art-icles

-Still Art section has a few new images and is now sortable.  You can now view the artworks I’ve made, organized by year, art medium, or size.

Still Art Page – now sortable!

-Ground work laid for some big stuff updated in the next 30 days.  As in, major news related to ‘Spiral Skies’, release of House Trek content, and a new batch of HD stock footage, as well as more comics stuff, finally a new vlog entry, and continued expansion of the articles section with even more valuable information.  There’s a lot of work going on behind the scenes and it’ll be publically revealed over time.

-That goofball auction of five hours of my time.  Nobody bid, but I am not really surprised given the brevity of the auction.  It was kind of an experiment and it failed.  Time to move on.  Maybe I’ll try that idea again later on with a longer build up beforehand.

-The Vineyard Video Leisure Group is now moving closer to fruition.  I posted a teaser image for it just this evening.  [See previous post]

What do you all want?

I’m trying to get some authentic feedback from my viewers and customers, and so I’ve set up a poll here:

http://www.triumphantartists.com/kompozer/html/poll.html

There are some cool things you could get on this page as well, like coupon codes for my shop here, but it’s also a great chance for all of you to tell me what you are excited about and what you all think I should work on more.

LINKS – these are important to notice!

Date the below entry was originally posted – June 21, 2016.  If you don’t know why the old copy was lost, check this post:  Website Port and SSL upgrade completed

LINKS YOU SHOULD BE AWARE OF: –TriumphantArtists.comPanoramicWorlds.comVividMiniGolf.comIsolaGame.comTroop4Houston.netHornbostelMedia.comHornbostelPortfolio.com –The TriumphantArtists Forums –The TriumphantArtists ShopTriumphant Artists Affiliate ProgramTriumphantArtists on eBayTriumphantArtists on EtsyTriumphantArtists on CafePressTriumphantArtists on ZazzleTriumphant Artists on YouTube

There are actually a number of other pages I run, and the list I just provided is merely a jumping-off point to start with, but these seem to me to be some of the most significant ones right now.