New picture on Pinterest

Mars Colony – Artwork made for David Petersen – 2018

This was a recent example of an oil pastel mage I’ve done. A Mars colony – seen here now, and it’s also been posted on Pinterest. [My Pinterest art boards have been getting a bit of attention from people lately, not a bad thing!]

 

And then there’s the book.

Book cover graphic

This is a special extra product line for anyone who’s curious about the creative process or wants secret insights into my projects (completed past projects or those currently in development) – namely, an art book, which will be available before too long. It’s self-published and self-printed material, that may be available in a week or so.  As it’s an artbook, I’d like it to be displayed as nicely as I can display it but as compromises go the quality/price balance I’ve settled on is not bad:

$0.99 in a digital form via HornbostelProductions, maybe Itch.IO, details still in flux a bit on this but it’s not just PDF content, it’s presented as an executable book app with a few cool bonus ‘interactive’ and video elements mixed in along with the text and still images.

$9.99 condensed, on regular A4 paper [8.5″x11″] including a download key for access to the digital version. Includes a small text credit in ‘Miniature Multiverse’ and a 35% off code for a first order on the HornbostelProductions.com shop.

$19.99 art book, listed sometime later, made with ledger size paper – and shipped in a larger mailer, again with download key for the digital AND a higher-position credit in Miniature Multiverse when that’s finally done, plus the 35% one-off code for the HornbostelProductions.com shop.

But for now, just wrapping up that and dealing with the scattered shipping issues I’ve run into on my eBay shop. Lots of people are seeing things arrive late, damaged or not at all this past month due to a cascade of issues in transit with USPS and I’ve had to refund a lot of orders. This led to innumerable headaches but I think it’ll ultimately work out adequately. You probably wondered why I was shelving ‘Miniature Multiverse’ completion until a later month and that was why; things are tricky right now but I am still hoping something will sell – that something will work out nicely among all the avenues I’m pursuing… allowing that to be finished.

I have a decal pack update on the way – more decals included and a resubmission to Unity asset store for those who want the decals in a really convenient quad-prefab form for game dev purposes.] and an expanded, feature-rich version of my museum gallery product. I get that privacy concerns made the product concept struggle initially, people did not want their photos sent to me to be placed in the virtual 3D museum – but I think I’ve solved that, maybe, by which I mean I am working on a way for people to buy the product

digitally on Itch.IO, and load their own pics into it, then send that online to family/friends as a gift. The primary issue, of course, was always privacy, but the secondary issue’s piracy. There’s a DRM system I’m implementing for this which should limit this while also being minimally intrusive and difficult to deal with. More details will be shown later relating to that.

The eBay complaints are still a time sink but that’s getting better, and the remaining issues are being resolved steadily, to the extent I can reasonably manage to resolve them, and I’m up to 275 positive ratings on eBay at this time, so that’s a plus even if the reality is I’m struggling a bit to keep things afloat and moving forward.

April mess

Okay – everything is proving to be extremely busy.

In the past week, that is, the final week of March 2018, over 15 sales have been made by me on eBay, including several international sales, but the profitability of said sales has averaged about -35%.  Looking at the data I have just slightly over $200 in payments received [people buying things], and $310 in costs associated with those orders, from fees (about $45 total between PayPal and eBay) to a few key shipping supplies (roughly $25) to the shipping costs themselves, which are higher in some cases than expected. Plus side is, if I work my butt off, I did sell several copies of the new stock media in there too, so I might come out of this madness with some positive ratings related to that product line and related to other sold items, if I work every waking hour the next 8-10 days.

So I’ll simply admit that I’ve botched this, if ‘this’ was an attempt to raise funds for completion of Miniature Multiverse or any of the other projects I’m aiming for.

The process has been good insofar as I’ll be clearing out a ton of books, and a few other items, to people who will actually appreciate those items, although paring my collection down to a minimum wouldn’t be *necessary* in the first place if my family weren’t planning on moving me and everything else to Pittsburgh by the end of 2018.

Yeah, that’s the other thing – we’re relocating to Pennsylvania. I am. Scott and Margaret are too. We’ll be there with my sister Katie and her kids. I think this moving process is intensely stressful; lots of cleaning things up, deciding what to keep,what to throw, moving to a location where my work space will be limited and three adorable but noisy/hyperactive children will be running around as well. Nice new house, nice yard and neighborhood but I have difficulty not being frustrated with this during the transition process as this altogether is making productivity difficult during the transition, and might potentially detract from my creative work for years, or maybe make it better [who knows? It’s possible.].

So, ahem, anyway – all the current irritation and stress aside, what this means is each day in April I must [somehow] earn a few dollars transcribing, at sub-minimum wage, ship a handful of still-unshipped items, and do hours of cleaning in my room and the garage on top of all that. And, yes, somehow I’m scrambling to figure out a way to shoot a final video project with my Houston friends, which is now likely to be in May because April is crazy in terms of the sheer workload, and I am not being permitted to adjust my sleep schedule accordingly.

That’s the same-old, same-old though and not really new – I cannot break free of my family’s rules because I’m not 100% financially independent and I’m unable to be financially independent largely due to their somewhat arbitrary and constrictive rules. I am 31 and despite enormous effort, my life is still going nowhere except an aggravating downward spiral of depression and frustration [and existential ennui?]  and a general emotional and psychological sense of being trapped and running out of time.

So, yeah. That. It’s why I may be late shipping a number of the eBay orders, late as in up to a week of delays. There is no practical way to avoid this. I simply need to somehow earn nearly an extra $100 or so over the next week in the scattered hours when I actually have a chance to. Only then can *all* of the items I sold in the past week be shipped.

Acceleration in late February 2018?

Despite a strongly positive reputation on eBay specifically, I do struggle with some notoriety for being ‘unreliable’ in the timing of new releases. 

This has been the case for years, even before I had any websites allowing a wider audience to notice my work.  Why do I keep falling behind on my scheduled releases? Why do I so frequently disappoint everyone on the web with how slow my work goes?

It is largely due to the amount of my time dedicated to earning money to make content… and the generally abysmal rate at which that money is earned. We’re talking $5.50 per hour in the best cases, and often no more than $2 or $3/hour.

When the total list of videos and video games I want to release [in the near future] looks like it’ll cost at least $10,000 more to complete everything I want to complete – between hardware, equipment, art supplies, miniature elements, and other costs – well, that’s a problem. That’s about 3000 hours of work just to finance everything and probably another 3600-4500 to actually make the content once it’s paid for even if no setbacks or major problems occur.  So let’s say I average 11 hours a day on this, it’s still about 600 more days to get all these things done. And as usual, nothing ever goes as smoothly as I’d want it to.

Now, I’ve had a tendency to drift focus a lot in a rotation, from project to project, making incremental progress on things in a sort of loop, but quite frankly I’m getting tired of the perception that nothing’s happening and I want to upend that.

In the last two weeks, I have made – saved up – a decent amount of money and also upgraded a few critical toolsets. That’s great. But now I’m looking at the mind-numbingly tedious sub-minimum-wage gigs I have been doing all the freaking time to cover the bills and the eBay auctions of artworks for customers that I make no more than $2/hour on or so, at best, and thinking “Why can’t I try to pare this back? Do I really think this is the best use of my time? Is this what most of my audience actually wants to see me doing?”

And the answer’s definitively a NO.

The audience here wants:

-Games, Videos, Comics, Artworks, and assorted creative stuff available to everyone, either dirt cheap or ideally completely free, and they want that stuff soon, they don’t want to wait forever for the content to materialize.

Now, there’s actually a way to make that happen.  It’s a simple well-worn concept that underlies a ton of things from broadcast TV networks, to Google, Facebook, Twitter, to the various blogs you see across the web.

Advertising.

The problem with ads on a website is that for them to be viable, you need a LARGE and LOYAL audience  – a lot of people visiting regularly.

I’m only currently at 1% of the level needed for the ad revenue to be substantial enough to replace my need to sell products or work on freelance gigs [transcription & such].

At the threshold of 100x as many visitors as I’m getting now, advertising covers everything on my network.

At or above that threshold, none of the products [videos, games] I release need to be anything other than freeware.

All the games – free, 100%, and production would double in speed across the board… on everything I’m doing.

I WON’T BLUDGEON YOU WITH REQUESTS TO VISIT MORE OFTEN OR RECRUIT A BUNCH OF FRIENDS SIMPLY FOR THIS REASON.

I want to instead entice you to do that with some cool stuff that’ll make you WANT to come back often and which will make this network EASY to recommend to friends.

So here’s my idea. The last two weeks I earned a fair amount of cash.

The next 3 weeks, I’ll work on wrapping up some exciting things, actually finishing or at least getting to a point of viability, on a few new items you’re all getting tired of waiting for.

Then the final week of February, if all goes well:

-a large but finely tuned ad campaign will draw a few thousand new visitors to my web network.

-systematic restructure of my web network, new content appearing in various places.

-New video material, all the House Trek stuff and a couple of other things too, posted on HornbostelVideos.com, with a higher-quality disc version [with animated menus and special feature stuff] available on this website’s shop for $2.99 download or $11.99 DVD / 14.99 BluRay.

-Some added comics stuff and completion of the several articles sub-sections that are still vacant.

-A new batch of pyrotechnics elements, both real video content and some clips done with advanced gas/fluid simulation, in the stock media section.

Fireball Simulation

The material’s all shot or simulated at 120fps, and slowed down to 24fps and 30fps variants. The free video files will be reduced-resolution 960×540, the paid versions 1920×1080. [full HD!] and the paid versions will show up on HornbostelProductions.com for $5.99 as downloadable content on HornbostelProductions.com, $14.99 on DVD on HornbostelProductions.com, or $16.99 shipped on a data DVD through eBay. (I was considering a $14.99 price on eBay too, but given the typical fees I have to pay there, which come close to 20%, $16.99 is basically As low as I can justify.)

I’ve ordered two new additional high-speed cameras, and will be setting up some black backing, reflective mirrors [really it’s a nice clean thick cardstock type material with a very reflective mirror-like coating on one side sort of like aluminum foil without wrinkles.] set at 45-degree angles, telephoto lenses, fireproofing supplies, etc, for the recording of the real-world pyrotechnic elements. All the equipment required is en route, and I’ll try my best to make the recorded material look amazing. The idea with the mirrors is to minimize risk to the camera. These are old-school Hollywood methods basically, you can set the mirror above or below the effect and align the camera to focus on the mirror, so you get the explosion billowing towards the camera in some interesting ways without actually endangering the camera. As for shooting at 120fps, that makes the effect look bigger and more impressive [and makes it last 4x longer when reduced to 30fps or 5x longer at 24fps] than the limited-scale effect it actually is. Recording at such high speed allows a miniature to move physics-wise as though it were 16 times bigger than it actually is, giving the illusion of immense scale and mass. The effects in question will only be four or five feet or so in size at most, in reality and will dissipate within two seconds. But they’ll seem far bigger as recorded, gigantic even, and the effects elements could each last up to 8-10 seconds when played back at a typical speed.

How the three FX setups will work

-New game content. I’ve had some frustration with WebGL releases from Unity as they were tricky to debug at times, and WebGL apps require that the game files AND the RAM usage fit within a 1GB limit, to run in a web browser. That said, I am now realizing that these limitations aren’t so bad if used for a lower-res demo version of an ambitious game and not a full-res one. So my plan is to release some of my game content in WebGL form, but with quarter-res graphics. That is, all textures switched on export to half the vertical and half the horizontal pixel count they’d ordinarily use. That reduces file size and memory use on all these projects from around 2-4 GB to under 1GB as far as web-embedded release goes.

So I’m aiming to launch a lower-res ‘Miniature Multiverse’ demo and a bit of other stuff like an early ‘Vivid Minigolf’ reworking posted in HTML5 WebGL form near the end of Feb. 2018, barring an unplanned complication. Neither is the full game feature wise or content wise, they’re both early beta releases with a lot of the content not yet included, and lower-res textures.  They will, however, be freeware, and playable on my web network [embedded in the page, with a bit of ad stuff underneath.]

The idea on most of the games, videos, everything, is it is all going to be accessible free in some form, either the full, entire version for free, as with the comics, or some sort of reduced-resolution form, but otherwise as functional as the full version in the case of video and video game content.

If this succeeds, that’d be great. I’m hoping ongoing traffic levels have climbed 10-fold by end of February, covering a full 10% of my production costs, and that most of the other 90% of my costs in running this network can be covered by sales of high-value products that have better profit margins than before either because they don’t involve shipping [downloadables] or because they’re high quality enough and widely viewed enough that they end up selling for a bit more than they would have before.

Update: There’s been an extensive ad campaign ramping up – and fortunately 200+ people have viewed the stock media section of TriumphantArtists.com just in the past 72 hours.

By the time of launch, I think that figure will be more like 1200-1500, and I’m optimistic that the new pyrotechnic stock media / stock footage collection, which will have cost me a bit over $250 in incendiary materials, other materials and camera gear, will ultimately result in an explosion of sales. [Pun intended]

 

 

 

Some things on schedule, others postponed. Sorry!

I’m pushing back release of Miniature Multiverse to January 2018.

This time, there’s no promise of [even more] additional content on release, just this:

I’m unable to fulfill my goals for Christmas 2017 unless I wait on Miniature Multiverse.

There are a few videos and some other things that I plan to show to my family over the holidays and wrapping those up will take some time in December, and even aside from that, there are other [slight] technical issues and delays I’ve had to deal with on Miniature Multiverse.

Those are resolved by now, but now I can’t see release happening any earlier than some time around Jan. 5-10, 2018.  That is, early January 2018.

Sorry, everyone.

In other news, I’m pulling my holiday painting off of Etsy for the next seven days and auctioning it on eBay, so anybody who wants to get that original artwork, this is probably your last chance.

Painting no longer on Etsy, it’s being auctioned on eBay.

It’s a reminder of the ongoing issue with Etsy, that if nobody buys an item I’ve listed there after a while, it’ll be sold elsewhere instead, either locally or online. But Etsy listings won’t stay on Etsy forever. Favoriting an item is not enough; to actually be sure to have an item, you’ll need to buy it before it sells to someone else [there or elsewhere].  There was the kitten artwork, Southwest artwork, the NYC one, and now the winter one. That’s four items which had been listed on Etsy which are no longer there.

Incidentally, the art-supply listings went reasonably well, no issues there really. Some sold and some didn’t, but it’s all working out fine.

I’ve also sold 3/5 of the batches of vintage art books.

As for other things I’d promised in my last post:

-House Trek Ep. 6 will be online in December, a couple of weeks later than planned.

-The comics I’d promised are delayed further, simply because I don’t have time to finish them given the video situation, they’ll be wrapped up and put online in mid-January after Miniature Multiverse is launched.

-Articles section is likewise unlikely to be fully complete until then, but it’s already very close [all sections are finished except the game-dev section, and even that is partially done.]

And what of the things I’m prepping for the holidays?

Well… they include three videos with family and a few videos with friends in Houston. Like “Video Heist” which is now complete but which, like 90% of my finished videos, cannot yet be posted online [usually because of either copyrighted logos on clothing, or snippets of unlicensed audio or some talent release stuff not worked out]

But I can already show the video’s miniature fire effect that I posted as a .GIF earlier on Twitter:

Watch for some awesome things to happen in 2018.

 

Art supply sets being resold at a loss on eBay soon!

About $120 worth of brand new, unused art supply items, are going to be listed at prices that are only 55-65% of the amount I paid for the items, and with free shipping.

I’m trying to get my eBay shop to new heights, and most of my recent ratings are as a buyer, not as a seller. I’ve got over 200 ratings by now on eBay, 100% of them positive, but only about a third of them have been as an actual vendor/seller. I’m hoping to draw in about a dozen new ratings on eBay *as a seller* this week and ideally also one or two on Etsy soon as well.

To that end, I’ll be advertising heavily, for both my art shops and my near-release game ‘Miniature Multiverse‘ and I’m expecting a torrent of web traffic during the next 12 days as I post:

-a bunch of art-supply listings at excellently low prices.

-a handful of auctions for substantial original made-to-order personalized artworks.

-a couple of new artworks on Etsy as well.

-a final batch of articles filling the ‘articles page’ on TriumphantArtists.com – the last incomplete section is currently being written, that is, the one on ‘game design/development’.

-Chapter One of ‘Another Road Taken’ as well as early parts of the ‘Troop 4Uncensored, pt. 4’ comic book, filling out the fairly weak comics section of TriumphantArtists.com and in the process also further improving the Troop 4 site.

-House Trek episode 6 posted on HornbostelVideos.com, and also a Miniature Multiverse video trailer shortly before launch.

-Revision/update of my still art gallery on TriumphantArtists.com.

-And actually launch ‘Miniature Multiverse‘ on major digital gaming shops!

Not all bad news – good news, bad news post!

Bad news: As stated in the previous post, the transcription work I have been depending on to pay the bulk of my bills, is going to dry up soon.

Good news: It’s still mostly around for the moment, and isn’t gone quite yet.

Bad news: The eBay shop is still losing money each week.

Good news: I made 8 sales there in the past 60 days, and that will hopefully push my ratings to 200+, perhaps leading to higher bidding totals and items breaking even or even being frequently profitable?

Bad news: I thought that’d happen at 100 positive ratings, or 150, so how will 200 be any different?

Good news: It’s different because the frequency of bids on my auctions IS increasing over time, and because traffic on my websites is climbing too.

Bad news: The large wave of bids is concurrent with a hurricane [Harvey] that will likely dump near 20 inches of rain on Houston, flooding everything and stalling all outbound mail.

Good news: I already notified customers that there may be unavoidable delays related to this, and they’ve so far all been okay with that.

Bad news: Two items will sell later this week, and those customers may be confused and frustrated if power goes out here and no communication is possible.  They’ll be wondering ‘What is going on with this Matthew Lyles Hornbostel? Why is he not responding to my questions?’

Good news: Power is not that likely to go out, and I am in a great position to grab a bit of epic hurricane footage that could perhaps be used in my upcoming short art video ‘Storm 2’.

Bad news: This also delays recording of ‘The Annoying Magician!’ and some fragments of ‘Tinyville 2’ until a month from now.

Good news: Plenty of work to do before then anyway.  I am posting the articles section pages a bit at a time on TriumphantArtists.com, plus am closer than ever to to launching a first batch of [fully legal and self-created] content on HornbostelVideos.com, plus the comic ‘Another Road Taken’ and some game/interactive media material is on the way too.  Watch for the Spiral Skies update – showing some more of the small Unity 5.6.3 engine based adventure/puzzle game – to appear before long on SpiralSkiesGame.com, plus some largely empty fan art pages fixed and filled with content, and some even bigger updates regarding the church virtual tour program, as well as a little top-down racing game I’ve been debugging.

In case you are curious here’s a teaser for the historical preservation effort related to the Church of the Redeemer Episcopal in Houston, Texas – the entire building, which is largely demolished now, is being actively reassembled in a virtual realtime 3D form thanks to some $360+ in donations for that purpose from various church members, covering the entire cost of the project.  Too bad the crowdfunding process that worked here, failed on the far more imaginative project ‘Miniature Multiverse’ years ago – but whatever.

Parish Hall of Church of the Redeemer, recreated in 3D
Parish Hall of Church of the Redeemer, recreated in 3D

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