Happy Holidays (2019)!

Hello everyone, hope you’re having a good time as 2019 nears its end.

I’ve got a few key updates for all of you.

Etsy update – My often dormant Etsy shop actually has some listings available again. One of them has already sold!

https://www.etsy.com/shop/MatthewLHornbostel

Better: All prices are 25% off during the Black Friday/Thanksgiving/Cyber Monday span. So if you want an item… now is a good time for 25% off.

Remember my Etsy shop? It’s active again. Here’s a pumpkin pie painting I made.
Happy holidays, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hannukah, New Year’s, etc.

Pinteresting… As a result of posting a ton of freshly revealed .GIF clips from my video productions and other projects, I’ve had a staggering 800+% spike in Pinterest views from October to November, which I suspect drives some of the activity I’m seeing elsewhere [the above Etsy sale, for example].

Check my Pinterest boards to see why that’s taking off like crazy:

Pinterest – Matthew Hornbostel’s profile

And also active [through Cyber Monday is a jaw-dropping 81% off sale on all of my Itch.IO stuff [asset packs with 3d models, stock video FX elements, and texture maps] bundled together. Five asset packs (AND) an early Miniature Multiverse preorder, for $1.69.  Here’s a direct link to the bundle page:

Holiday Bundle – Cyber Monday sale!

There are some new GIFs, video clips, and stills scattered across my ITch.IO pages to showcase the evolving status of my asset packs. I pushed a big update recently to some of them and will be posting some smaller incremental updates very soon – fixes to a few texture-file links and a couple of other small but noticeable glitchy details [like the dandelion texture which I noticed issues with] and I’ll also be adding the long-awaited hanging spanish moss to the ‘Marshes & Meadows’ pack. So those fixes will be posted soon. I tried to participate in the Icehouse Game Jam but fell behind my intended schedule and opted not to submit a very incomplete minigame. However, I’ll still finish the mystery game production [teased on Twitter & Pinterest] at some point.

A new plan… I am working on overhauling HornbostelVideos.com and TriumphantArtists.com. 

There will be a lot of new  stuff for everyone, massive improvements in content and responsiveness for various devices and the new drop-down navigation is way nicer, plus my video-player setup is way cooler, with a wide range of professional-ish features. Plus it’s all way cleaner looking and no giant endless blocks of text. And long awaited comics and a few more articles actually posted which are not currently available.

HOWEVER, VIDEO IS STILL A LEGAL MESS:

There is a tangled mass of challenges in terms of dealing with video content I have made over the years. I’d love to hit the ground running VERY FAST the day this large-scale new overhaul goes live in mid January of 2020. I need to convince the assorted family and friends to accept terms I’ve laid out [quickly] but that’ll require them to believe signing on [ie allowing their roles to be public and facing possible embarrassment] will somehow be worth it. I have a way to do this but it’s a bit tricky in a few ways, and I will NOT guarantee the online survival of the site video content beyond its first year. I do think I could pull off the plan [but] it’s contingent on this stuff finding an audience.

TV networks need subscribers or millions of live viewers bombarded with commercials, and I will not intrude on my stuff with video ads stalling the video content, nor will I require a subscription or paywall. There will be a still, not animated, banner ad at bottom of each page below the video stuff, and a widget for social media sharing, and that is *it*. So I expect far less revenue per viewer, as a result, than ‘TV’ because I refuse to be intrusive and wish to respect my audience.

Resulting harsh truth: I’ll launch with about 25-30 videos in the site library, and each of them needs to, on average, hit nearly 7,000 unique, REAL views/month. Minimum. That is, 2 million total [combined] video views in the first year. I have had family express skepticism that my VFX-laden, comedy and/or action videos will be of any interest to the broader world.

Well… Pinterest is a fascinating case study. The REASON my Pinterest views have exploded to 800-900/day has mostly to do with about a dozen amusing .GIFs from my video projects. Some of those have been seen by *thousands* of Pinterest viewers. So I figure, if a 5-10 second GIF loop from me grabs a thousand viewers in the past week… how well might the actual high-res video do? I truly believe what my family finds fun the world will too. So that’s why I’m emboldened to give this a shot.

THE SCHEDULE:

Currently, the Cyber Monday sales are active –  and some Etsy art is viewable and some Itch.IO asset packs updated, but little else is new.

Lots of gamedev, video, and web design stuff is going on in the background during December, though.

Jan. 20th, 2020 – the web network updates go live including way more video content, new design, comics, articles… etc.

Feb. 15, 2020 – the Miniature Multiverse extras pack and a bunch of new preview material gets posted online, generating further buzz.

March 15th, 2020 – the full game (Miniature Multiverse) hits Itch.IO and Steam.

Shortly after that I will be reevaluating my plans based on how successful or not, that game’s been. If it goes well, more will happen faster. We’ll see.

 

 

Revised roadmap & a challenge for everyone

  1. I’ll be posting two new stock media packs [3d asset packs] on my Itch.IO page sometime soon, probably within the next 5-10 days. These are the ‘Forests & Flowers’ and ‘Snow & Sand’ packs that I’ve been working on. They’ll be $1.10 each except during sales or in bundle pricing situations.
  2. I’m trying to update some websites a bit more, I’ve already overhauled MiniatureMultiverse.com somewhat, and TriumphantArtists.com should see a few small fixes & updates soon as well, along with minor improvements across some of my other websites.
  3. I’m actively ordering a bunch of additional art supplies, shipping supplies, and DVDs/DVD cases. Why? I intend to launch all the Itch.IO content together as a singular $14.99 DVD product on eBay and here as well. I also intend to make a new batch of artworks and sell those too.  As in, giant 24″x36″ size artworks, big, beautiful pieces with prices starting around $23.99.
  4. All this stuff going on will coincide with a staggering mix of ad campaigns that should draw in thousands of people and generate crazy levels of traffic from March 15 – April 15. The total cost is estimated at $45, or $1.50 spent on the campaign per day.
  5. I have some fan art stuff going on, behind schedule, but it is happening nonetheless. I also have some updates on RedeemerDocumentary.com heading in soon; you’ll see more content relating to the virtual church building tour which is nearing completion. I am also digitally reconstructing my old house in Houston, TX, and between all the various examples piling up, of my ability to realistically reconstruct architectural spaces, well… I’ll be posting a sale item here which essentially allows for people to hire me to make a made-to-order 3d level/tour for them in Unity.
  6. All the [still unposted] House Trek videos are going to be posted on HornbostelVideos.com shortly, except for the making-of stuff, and the animated DVD menus. And that’s just part of what’ll be posted. Watch for a PDF ebook, and also a printed paper equivalent, that showcases essentially all my work, with an emphasis on the creative process and what I’ve learned by doing all the stuff I’ve done [relating to game development, video production, handmade art, etc] it’s an insightful history summing up the last two decades of my life and it has hundreds of pics – giving you an inside look at a lot of things only friends and family know about so far, massive piles of interesting stuff the internet in general, currently has no idea exists. And no, not a puff piece, I very clearly and bluntly describe my mistakes and errors in judgement, and offer useful advice on solving common issues, that’ll make creative efforts hopefully easier for you than things have been for me.
  7. All of this sale stuff being launched, the artworks and other items, the book, stock media packs/DVDs, and the month-long ad campaign… it’s all a gambit to secure funding to do all the stuff I’m hoping to do by year’s end. I have three videos to shoot, about a dozen to actually finish, plus game content, including Vivid Minigolf v2, and Miniature Multiverse, those two in particular are challenging insofar as they each still have unresolved costs of over $250, in miniature materials alone. And then tack on the $450+ goals in funding between the three videos I’d like to record, plus all the other stuff involved… yeah, basically I hope this plays out well. If I don’t have close to $1k earned by end of Spring 2019, it means a lot of the goals for summer and fall of this year will fall through. And, quite bluntly, if you’re as tired of the slow rate of progress around here as I am, I’m pretty much begging you to buy something of mine, because if sales volume across my web network climbs high enough, and the percentage of visitors who transition to buyers climbs from a current level of 0.0135% to 5%, that’d change almost everything around here! (I seriously have thousands of visitors – around 2500 – every week, across my various websites and shops, and yet the majority of weeks nothing is actually sold anywhere on my network.)

Halloween Sale & new stock media pack!

The price of downloading TACC 2018 has just dropped from $3.99 to just $1.50. There’s also a completely new $1.00 stock-media pack with 201 new texture image files and 15 new HD video clips of fire/explosions:

BETTER YET: Through October 31, 2018, both of these are 45% off or 50% off when bought together in a bundle. That’s $1.25 for a huge archive of royalty-free stock media that you can use in your own creative projects!

LINKS:

TACC 2018 [Triumphant Artists Complete Collection 2018]: https://matthornb.itch.io/tacc2018

Bonus Autumn 2018 Collection: https://matthornb.itch.io/autumn-2018-bonus-collection

 

Multi-item discounts, and ongoing website updates

As you may have noticed, the Oil Pastel art page now looks different from the other listings on the HornbostelProductions shop.

Specifically, it now includes a noticeable price reduction on larger items, and a far more staggering bargain available for any order of multiple items of the same size and medium.  It’s occurred to me that my biggest cost as a seller on all such listings is in the process of shipping and that if I offer listings with two or three items made to order at once, not just one, well, I can reduce the per-item price considerably for customers simply due to the fact that in such a situation, multiple items can be shipped together in a single container.  So, as I add this option to all my made to order art listings during this next week, think about the prospect of purchasing three items at once, for the price it’d previously cost to buy two.  Great idea especially for situations such as Christmas.  Say you’d like to order gifts in advance for a long list of family members, there’s now the option of getting handcrafted gift items, personalized in nature, focused on subjects that appeal to those specific people, an order of three of them, for a single, really stunning low price.  These artworks can depict nearly any subject you want, so long as it is not extremely disgusting/obscene/offensive content wise.

That said, you could certainly ask for things like, say, a portrait of a person you care about, a landscape, or a portrait of a pet, a view of your home, indoors or out, or a view of a place you once visited, an imaginative sci-fi or fantasy scene, or something silly or unexpected, maybe fun and oddly specific, like penguins playing with a soccer ball:

Penguins playing with a soccer ball

You probably shouldn’t ignore the opportunity to do this, as it’s a fantastic idea for holidays or other occasions, but it’s also possible to order a set of two or three items designed not as entirely individual works to split up but as parts of a larger cohesive aesthetic display – a ‘diptych’ or ‘triptych’ that can be posted together along a wall in your house, or in a set of two or three rooms, as matching decoration!

Also cool – I’ve updated a LOT of the pages on TriumphantArtists.com, but the articles section is mostly notably absent from the revised structure.  Well, that’s about to change, with a substantial overhaul of the articles area, plus new content in comics and a fun minigame all aimed for release by about the end of July.  And there’s also some video production effort going on lately, which is a long way from making it online but I’ve got plans to get things online, batch after batch – dozens of elaborate videos I’ve made over the past two decades, revised and uploaded.  Generally speaking, sales of handcrafted art are a big key to keeping those projects moving forward, so any customers who order here are greatly appreciated.

As mentioned (somewhat incessantly) I do have nearly 200 ratings now on my eBay account, all positive, and that’s a solid indicator of my integrity as a vendor.  But I’d really love to see that expanded to my Etsy shop and to this shop on HornbostelProductions, so anyone willing to take that leap will find some great deals on both and will be glad they made the decision to try out my storefronts beyond eBay.

 

eBay adjustment [new cheaper sale prices!]

EBAY AND ETSY PRICES LOWERED… AGAIN.

Some of my fixed price listings have been sitting for a full year without any orders.  It’s been just over a month since the last sale I made on eBay.

So – all of that considered – I think it’s a good time to lower prices a bit.

So if you’re interested in an original work by Matthew Lyles Hornbostel, now’s a good time to order one.

Most of the custom made-to-order art on my eBay shop is now 10-20% cheaper.  So go take a look!

Also – the Etsy items are also on sale still and cheaper than they were.  An automated Etsy notification was sent to me actually warning me that based on the statistics for similarly sized items in the category, “you may be substantially underpricing your work” and that most other items in my category are priced higher, and therefore able to make a viable profit.

WELL THANKS A LOT ETSY, BUT THERE IS THIS LITTLE THING CALLED A “LOSS LEADER” BUSINESS STRATEGY.

I am well aware of the fact that my prices are low and that I may be losing money on many of the items I make.  That is intentional.  I did that on eBay too for the first three years or so, so I could gain the first batch of ratings from customers and establish my shop as a credible, trustworthy venue with a positive reputation!  After that I could start to incrementally raise prices over time – while still keeping them lower than almost all other vendors’.

Quite frankly, I would rather make under $3-6/hr doing painting or pastel work, or visual effects, video editing/post, game art assets, etc – than make the same level of income doing long strings of tedious tasks like transcription of audio & video recordings for subtitles or other purposes, or repetitively tagging the content of image files on Mturk so people can search and sort through them easily [on various websites, search engines, etc].

And by the way, I HAVE done those things, and they’re a mind-numbing waste of the [creative] talent I have.  But they do pay the bills in times when nothing on my web network is selling, and they do keep the whole thing afloat and inching forward during rough stretches.  I think it needs to be clarified that such income streams, while taxed by the government, are not applicable to [paying actors].  That should have been stated in the actors’ pay post, it was a detail I overlooked… the fraction of my income generated outside of and unconnected to my web network and unrelated to creative work is not considered ‘web network’ revenue and none of that goes to cast members.

ACTORS TAKE NOTE OF THIS FINE PRINT:

This distinction matters; it means that the total revenue generated by the web network I run is the baseline that determines the size of residuals in a given year for each actor on each video or other project.

So while transcription and other similar grinding non-creative ‘in between’ work have generated around $1260/year the past three years, for me, on average… that doesn’t add onto the other income made elsewhere.

The only numbers that count for actors are the other revenue sources that now constitute the majority of my income:

——————————————————–

-eBay sales [avg. $360/year the last 4 years but generally trending upward over time]

-Art sales I make locally at craft fairs, or elsewhere, or on this website shop, including DVD/Blu Ray releases of video collections and video games. [booming like crazy – over $400 the last 12 months locally, but no success on this website shop yet]

-Etsy sales [none yet despite a strong effort to list items and promote them there, at really low prices.]

-third party or affiliate ad revenue if ever applicable [negligible – under $5/year the past 5 years]

-Freelance work involving creative effort; i.e. videography, vfx, 3d game assets, web graphics, previz, etc. [$240/year on average, over the past 3 years.]

-printed swag like T-shirts on Zazzle/CafePress [minimal so far]

———————————————————-

Do keep in mind that most of the art I’ve sold on eBay ‘made to order’ has resulted in enthusiasm, even ecstatic responses, and that if you buy something there you’re likely to be happy with it [judging from past patterns] but that while I am able to do fantastic pet portraits and landscapes, cityscapes, water scenes, still lifes, fantasy/sci-fi work, etc, lots of things I work on turn out well but portraits are a bit of a risky thing to ask of me as the depictions of the people involved will often look a bit ‘off’ from the real people I’m trying to paint/draw, despite my best efforts.

PROBLEMS PAINTING PEOPLE

It’s well known that the human face is generally the hardest image for artists to recreate correctly by hand, due to the enormous portion of our human brains that is wired specifically for the purpose of recognizing who other people are and identifying their emotional states.  Our minds are finely attuned to facial recognition of [humans] and that’s why the phenomenon of pareidolia is so common [seeing faces in randomly patterned things like clouds or wall textures] and why we can tell hundreds of people apart very easily but can’t tell individuals apart anywhere near as well when it comes to other species.  If the image of a non-human subject is very slightly off, nobody will notice.  If it’s an image of a person, though, the image will seem ‘wrong’.

For example, there’s this portrait of my sister Sarah and her new husband (they got married a few days ago – as of early June 2017 – and it was a beautiful wedding.  We jokingly called it the Sarah-mony.).  The portrayal of the couple in pastel looks a little odd and most people will say so but few can say exactly why; it simply doesn’t quite capture the appearance of the two people I was trying to depict.  It’s close but not close enough to break through beyond the uncanny qualities.

Sarah and Sean have gotten married. I recorded the wedding on video and also made this (somewhat botched) oil pastel portrait of the couple.

So yeah – keep all of this in mind.  There are amazing bargains on custom, made to order work on my eBay shop.  However, there is a risk that portraits (in particular) which I make may, despite best intentions and a lot of careful effort, may not look quite like the people I am attempting to draw.  But I’m generally getting better at it over time.

By the way, remember to take a look at my still art section on TriumphantArtists.com for other examples of the amazing affordable art I create!

And to all those of you who want to see my video work, I’ll begin posting it on a little domain I’ve acquired (HornbostelVideos.com) well before the end of summer 2017.  There’s also another new domain – SpiralSkiesGame.com – showcasing the new minigame I’ve been developing, and while nothing’s loaded onto either domain yet the websites will both become active soon enough with a bit of content at first and more posted over time.

 

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