Sunday, November 19, 2017

How Is NaNo Going? *cries*

  This is a brief post to check-in on my fellow writers participating in whatever way in the month of NaNo craziness. Of course, checking into Twitter kinda shows me what's happening on that front.

  A lot of caffeine, crying, screaming, and words. A LOT of words.

  A lot more than me. Le sigh.

  BUT...and this is hard for me to believe and to accept. This is OKAY. This is ACCEPTABLE. Not everyone can write a whole novel in 2 days of NaNo (coughcoughPaperFurycough). And not everyone can write a whole novel in 2 weeks. I have always been a slower writer, and I can't even finish half of half of my novel in 2 days or 2 weeks. But again, that is okay.

  And if you're in that same place, know that it's okay too. Take encouragement from me and my slow writing and know that it's okay to not speed through your writing process. It's okay to not get carpal tunnel and it's okay that you're busy or stressed or struggling. It's really, truly okay.

  I've got 9 more chapters left to write this month - long, complex ones. And yeah, I probably won't make it. But I'm content with that. My ultimate goal is to be finished by the New Year, which I'm confident I can do. At the time of writing this I just finished one whole chapter in a day - which is pretty good for me.

  I'm a busy person. I have a lot of things to do and get done, a couple of jobs to work, horses to work and ride, a husband to hang out with, friends and family who I want to spend time with, other hobbies to pursue, a house to kind of keep in somewhat of an order, homework, Christmas to prepare for, 2 other projects, and a whole host of other things going on any given day. I need to learn to give myself a break.

  And if you're like me, take a moment to breathe and do the same. It's okay. Really.

  So, where are you at in NaNo? I hope you're still enjoying the process? Tell me about your WIP! I love, love, love hearing about new novels in the works!

Sunday, November 12, 2017

What I've Been Binging On Netflix

  So Jonathan and I recently invested in Netflix, which was one of the best decisions of our marriage so far. And since my opinion on things, particularly shows, is obviously invaluable, I am here today to talk about some of my favorite shows that I now have access to because of Netflix, and why you should be watching them too!



STRANGER THINGS



  If you haven't seen this yet, then I'm not sure what you've been doing with your life* but clearly you should get on it because NOSTALGIA! MONSTERS! TELEKINESIS! CHILD ACTORS THAT DON'T SUCK! I could go on. Basically, it's the coolest. And you should be a cool kid and watch it too.

  Favorite Characters? Hopper and Eleven - especially after this last season.**


*probably good, productive things like a useful human being
**Jonathan and I just finished season 2 and I just AJHJAGFAJFHJAKF


DAREDEVIL



  We started watching this as soon as we got Netflix cause we'd both heard such good things about it. Everyone fangirls over this show and I was really curious about it. WAS NOT DISAPPOINTED. This show is intense, dark, and totally gripping. Every episode I am on the edge of my seat. Also, the VILLAINS!! Cannot say enough good things about the villains they've crafted.

Favorite characters? Foggy, Matt, Wilson Fisk and the Punisher.


JESSICA JONES


  This is definitely one of my favorite shows. The villain here is also very well done, but differs from those in Daredevil in that you absolutely despise him because he's so well-done, whereas you almost feel sorry for the Punisher and Fisk in many ways. Still, Jessica Jones herself is fantastic and a character you can really get behind. This show is pretty jaw-dropping in a lot of ways, I enjoy it immensely.

  Favorite characters? Jessica and Patsy.


A SERIES OF UNFORTUNATE EVENTS




  Please don't hate me for not having read the books yet. I know, I know, I'm a terrible person. But I have every intention of reading the books when I can collect them all for cheap*! I really enjoy the show though, the dry, dark humor, the cinematography, the casting, it's all great. And I am really looking forward to a second season and also to reading the books themselves.

  Favorite characters? The children, Count Olaf, and Uncle Monty.

*Because there's soooo many and they're soooo expensive for their tiny-ness


  Welp. There you have it, a small list of the things I have been binge-watching lately. Have you found any cool new shows, movies, or books? I am always adding to my ever-growing, eternal list of media to consume, please, help me sink deeper into my hopeless hole!

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Indie Artists Week Feature #6 - Joanna Vandervalk (PHOTOGRAPHER)

  Hey everybody! I'm here to brighten your day with one more indie artist feature. Today's artist is photographer, Joanna Vandervalk. Joanna is another personal friend of mine and actually took both my engagement and wedding photos - and did a stellar job! I have worked at camp with her and she has been camp photographer along with many other wedding and family shoots, but her main focus is landscape photography. Along with being a photographer, Joanna is a talented sketcher and a fellow bookworm, so we are kindred spirits! Keep reading to learn more about her and to see our interview.



Joanna Vandervalk is an Alberta based landscape and portrait photographer. She is an avid traveller, book reader, tea drinker, and adventurer. She believes that timing is everything in photography. When working with clients for weddings and portraits, her aim is to capture all the fleeting little moments of life in the most authentic ways possible. She works to make it so that her clients don’t feel like they’re being photographed, but rather that they’re sharing intimate, precious moments. She’s always trying to push her creative boundaries and create images that help viewers see the beauty in the small things and the big things of human nature and of nature in itself.  


  You can find Joanna on her:

  Website
  Facebook
  Instagram


  *As an aside, here are some of my favorite shots she took from our wedding/engagement shoots:

A testament to her skills: we don't look nearly this good in real life. :P

Q: When did you first start photography and when did you first start taking it seriously as a career?

A: I was 12 the first time I knew I was interested in photography. I’ve always been a rather artistic, romantic-at-heart kind of person, so I think that transferred quite naturally into capturing the beauty of the smallest human interactions, and the vastness and majesty of our ever-changing landscapes here in Alberta. I didn’t start taking it seriously as a career option until just the last two years or so when I was being requested more and more through word-of-mouth advertising as a wedding and portrait photographer and as I’ve seen how much business growth you can create and obtain through the world-connecting element of social media.

Q: What do you consider your epiphany moment, where you decided this was what you wanted to do?

A: I don’t think there was an exact epiphany moment… It’s been sort of a gradual fire building inside me over the years and now when I think about doing it as my career, it gives me this sort of profound almost unexplainable fierce feeling deep in my soul (there’s the romantic coming out!). The more I go out into the mountains and go hiking, the more I see the inspiring work of other creative visual artists, the more I get to capture precious human interactions and see the photos come out in the end, the more the fire inside me grows.

Q: Do you have a process when it comes to taking your shots? How do you usually begin a shoot?

A: It kind of depends on what I’m shooting. If I’m prepping to do a wedding or engagement shoot I will usually spend some time going back through old photos I’ve taken - remembering what worked and what didn’t, and what ‘pings’ I used to get authentic emotional responses from my clients. If I’m going out to shoot landscapes, usually I make a whole day of it: wake up and head out around 4am, depending on the time of year, to capture sunrise, then stay out shooting until sunset (and into the night! Landscape photographers don’t get much sleep haha!). For landscape days, I plan out what hikes I’m going to do and what places I want to visit beforehand so that I can be sure to get the best light at the right times. A lot of times, I’ll have a certain kind of shot in mind that I want to achieve and so I’ll try to create that shot. It doesn’t always work out the way I envisioned, but when it does, it’s so incredibly satisfying!

Q: What kind of camera(s), lenses, editing software, etc, do you use? Tell us about your equipment and why you’ve chosen it.

A: I’ve been shooting on Canon since the beginning, so I’ve sortof just stuck to using that. It’s amazing quality gear and I’ve invested a lot of earnings into buying the best that I can afford, so at this point even though I’d love to switch to a mirrorless Sony system (like the A7R IV that was just released!!), it just wouldn’t be worth the cost right now.
I currently shoot with a Canon 6D, and I have a number of different lenses for different situations. I actually just purchased my first non-Canon brand lens last week! It’s a Sigma ART 35mm prime lens with a very high light sensitivity. It’s my new portrait lens and I’m in love!
For editing I only use Adobe software. Mostly right now I stick with Lightroom (which I love because I can develop presets that sort of define my particular style, especially in portraiture, that I can then tweak to fit each individual photo). The software has advanced so much that I only need to switch out into Photoshop if I’m working on something really complex that requires layers and masks etc.

Q: What would you say is the key to the success you’ve seen in your growth as a photographer over the years?

A: Just going out and doing it. Forcing myself to be creative when I’m feeling in a slump. Seeing other photographers’ work on social media. Interacting with other photographers and creatives. I could list lots of things that have influenced my growth, but I think that networking with like minded people is a huge part of growth. (Speaking of which, there’s this organization called Socality (@socality on Instagram) that aims to do exactly that! It’s an organization specifically created for building community among creatives with love and acceptance being the central building structure! I only recently discovered how awesome it is! If you’re a creative, I highly recommend checking them out and joining a group in your area!)

Q: I know you do landscape photography as well as weddings and family shoots. What is your favorite things to shoot and why?

A: Ohhh you can’t ask that question haha! Too hard to answer. They’re so different! … I guess the main difference is that portrait work is fleeting and you have to be speedy to capture the moment, while landscapes are ‘slow’  in comparison.  I love doing portrait work because I get to witness all the tiny, fleeting moments that make human life beautiful - that almost kiss between lovers where they breathe each other in, the tenderness between parents and children, the laughter and joy in friendship, the shenanigans of siblings. All those little glimpses are so precious and essential to portrait work and they’re why I love it. For landscapes, I love that every time I visit a place it’s different and unique, and it’s always there but always changing (environmentally too). Landscapes are also endlessly forgiving. They’re not going to be upset if you miss a moment or don’t edit a certain way, or what have you…

Q: How would you describe your photography style?

A: In a word: colourful. There are a lot of trends that go on in the photography community now that social media has made creative work so easily accessible. The biggest trend right now is desaturated photos with dark tones. I’m not really a trend follower, and the current editing trends are not what life is like. Editing is an art in and of itself. When I edit, I try to recreate not just the way that the moment actually looked, but also the emotion I felt in the moment. I love this Ansel Adams quote “A great photograph is one that fully expresses what one feels, in the deepest sense, about what is being photographed, and is, thereby, a true manifestation of what one feels about life in its entirety.” Overall, my photos tend to be bright, colourful, and warm - because that’s how I look at life.

Q: Do you have any degrees/certificates in your artistic field? Or are you pursuing any?

A: Nope. I’m self-taught mostly (I took a few courses in highschool), but I’d like to pursue a design or business degree in the future (after I finish my current degree perhaps) (If I have any money left).

Q: How did you go about perfecting your artistic skills? Were you self-taught?

A: ‘Perfecting’ is a tricky term haha! I’m definitely not perfect at photography. I learn a lot by just doing (and failing!), and I learn a lot through exploring social media work by other photographers. I’m always trying to push myself out of the norm by finding new ways of framing, processing, and shooting in general. There’s also this nifty thing you probably haven’t heard of called youtube that’s quite an excellent tool when you’re trying to do something but you’re not quite sure how, it can be quite inspirational too.

Q: Which is your favorite book in The Lord of the Rings trilogy?

A: Two Towers. Definitely.

Q: What advice do you have for aspiring young photographers? What is the best advice you’ve received?

A: Don’t worry too much about what other people are doing. Find your own style and make a niche of what you’re photographing. Your photos are not going to be hugely affected by the quality of your gear when you’re starting out. Despite what many people think, your camera does NOT “take great pictures”. You do. You make the camera go and you capture your own unique perspective of the world. My biggest piece of advice though is to immediately start shooting full manual and in RAW only. Doing this will give you so much more creative space with your photos and editing!

Q: What is your favorite and least favorite part of photography?

A: My favourite part is doing it! Any time I’m out taking photos or networking, I’m totally in my element and I adore every moment of it.
Talking about money with clients is my least favourite. It’s always a struggle because people have certain ideas and expectations of what photography costs should be and what they think is involved and they don’t understand the true value and cost of it. When you see a price for a service like photography, it’s not just for the photographer to “click a button all day” (huge pet peeve!). The price includes things like travel, gear, software and hardware, editing time, professional development, and many other things. It’s the behind the scenes that most people don’t understand.

Q: What is one thing (or several!) you would like to see change about how the creative community is treated when it comes to working as an artist, especially an independent one?

A: I think each of the creative sectors have their own specific problems to deal with. This totally goes along with my least favourite part of photography/being a creative. I’d like to see a change in how creativity, creatives, and creative products are viewed and valued as a whole and in general. Without creativity, you don’t have culture and culture is part of what makes us human. Creativity needs to be more highly valued in society. Creatives look at the world in a different way, they problem solve in a different way. That’s what our society needs. No more of this ‘fitting everyone into a societal mold’ garbage. Creativity is what makes us different and what makes the world exciting! We were made by the Creator, He invented it - so I think as a Christ Follower this is part of my worship and calling. (If you want to read more about this, definitely check out the upcoming book Called to Create by Jordan Raynor!)

Q: What is something you would like to see change in the creative community?

A: People outside of the community accepting, appreciating, and understanding the value of what creatives contribute to society; then, not complaining about the cost of our creative products.

Q: Who is someone who inspires your photography career?

A:  Oh geeze. So many people. Too many to mention them all, but here’s a few: Chris Burkard, Kilian Schoenburger, Alex Strohl, Paul Zizka, Michael Matti. Really any photographers or visual artists that are out there pushing creative boundaries and doing cool projects.

Q: Where do you see/want to see your photography career in five years?

A: Hopefully growing my client base for weddings and portraiture, being an adventure and travel photographer, and doing ‘in-action’ product shoots for environmentally conscious outdoor gear companies that are working on sustainable product innovations.

Q: Aside from photography, what are some of your other hobbies/talents?

A: I drink a lot of tea and read books. And draw sometimes. Also lots of hiking. Swing dancing. And nerding out about nerdy things, in general. Star Wars! I adore travelling and have set a few different goals in terms of exploration. My two most recent are: to visit and photograph every national park in Canada within the next ten years, and to visit and experience every continent! There are only a very few people in the world who have visited every country, so that would be cool too. I’m currently at 10 countries that I’ve lived in/visited.

Q: What is one (or a couple!) shot you consider your best work? Why? Do you mind sharing it/them?

A: Hmm. I think that changes a lot every time I go out shooting. I think it’s more that I get a few new favourite shots per year. I got two new favourite landscape shots this year and then pretty much every portrait shoot/wedding I do, I find new favourite portrait shots (though those are harder, because each portrait is so different according to the people I’m capturing).

Q: How have you managed your time to effectively create while still being able to do other things you love/hold a job/go to school/etc?

A: Ha! Have I managed it effectively? That’s a difficult thing to do when you’re a full time student in university. For instance, I’ve still got 1.5 weddings to edit through from this summer before I go and shoot another wedding in Mexico on November 7th. One thing I do try to do though, is when I’m feeling smothered by too much school and homework and not enough creativity, I’ll take a morning to myself and go out to the mountains for sunrise. Doing that usually gives me a fresh burst for creative energy and I can cope for a while longer.

Q: Do you ever have times of self-doubt and worry that you find hard to get through concerning your creative career? Do you mind sharing about them?

A: Yep. It’s always hard not to play the comparison game - seeing other creatives that you think are ‘better’ than you or more successful. Wondering if you’ll ever get to that point. Hoping that you’ll get to that point someday. It’s hard to see past that sometimes.

Q: Where/how do you gather the most inspiration for photography?

A: I enjoy reading photographer biographies when I get a chance - especially ones from classic photographers. You learn a lot about what it was like shooting back in the day and gain a ton of appreciation for how relatively easy we have it today.

Q: What is your biggest dream relating to your creative career?

A: To be able to fully sustain my living and travel off of work provided by my client base.

Q: What do you feel has been a defining moment in your career so far?

A: It’s hard to pinpoint something specific. I don’t know if I’ve had a specifically defining moment. I feel like every time I go out with the specific intention of learning and being creative, I push my creative journey further along. As I travel the road, what I experience defines and refines me.

Q: What do you feel is the hardest part of being an independent artist?

A: Making a decent living, and having your work stand out in an oversaturated market.

Q: And what is the most rewarding?

A: For me, seeing how much my clients love their photos and seeing the comments that other people make about them. Words of affirmation are my love language, so it’s a very important part of my work to know that what I’ve created is appreciated and loved by others as much as I love it. Happy clients make a happy me!

Q: Finally, where do you see your career heading in the near future? Any big changes or excitement ahead that you’re looking forward to?

A: Hopefully when I finish my degree next year I can really start focusing on growing my client base and building my portfolio. Finishing my website is a big key to that - I just haven’t had proper time to devote to it at this point.
In terms of exciting things, I get to shoot my first destination wedding this month in Mexico. Plus, I get to be there with two of my best friends (Brooke being one of them. She has a previous interview on here with Emily that you should definitely check out!) and my brother. Pretty stoked about that. It’s going to be epic! 

  Thanks for the great interview, Joanna (even if I was piling on more things for you to do XD)! I hope you guys have really enjoyed this week, Joanna is our last feature - so be sure to tell me your opinion of Independent Artists Week and what medium of art was your favorite to learn about? Thank you so much for following along with this venture! I have had a blast, hope you did too! :DD

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Indie Artists Week #5 - Brooke Rosales (PHOTOGRAPHER)

  It's Day 5 of Indie Artists Week and I have yet another kind of artist to feature today - meet photographer Brooke Rosales! Brooke is a good friend of mine who has worked with me and before me as a counselor and wrangler at my summer camp. Brooke is a bright, bubbly person with lots of talent, skill, and charm. Not only is she a fantastic artist in multiple mediums, but a great person to spend a summer alongside. Honestly, she is a huge inspiration to me in so many ways, I can't sing her praises enough!


  Here is a little bit about Brooke:

Brooke is a freelance photographer currently based on the west coast of Canada. Holding a Bachelor of design from the Alberta College of Art and Design, she specializes in landscape, documentary, and lifestyle photography. Brooke loves capturing quiet moments and is fascinated by the connection between people and the spaces they inhabit. With a passion for people and a love of different cultures, climates, and creatives she’s always looking forward to the next adventure!

You can find Brooke on...

Her website
Her Facebook
Her Instagram (#1)
Her Instagram (#2)

  I really looked forward to interviewing her, and she gave some fantastic answers into life as a photographer and independent artist. Check it out below!

Q: When did you first start photography and when did you first start taking it seriously as a career?

A: I started taking photos as a hobby in junior high. My dad got a digital camera and it fascinated me. It didn’t take long before my parents got me my own little point and shoot so that Dad actually had a chance to use his own camera!

Q: What do you consider your epiphany moment, where you decided this was what you wanted to do?

A: I started considering photography as a possible career when I was in grade 11. That year my school introduced a photo course and I did quite well. We had a career counsellor come to the school one day and when she heard I was thinking about becoming a photographer she scoffed and told us that there was no possible way to have a successful career as a photographer. Right then the part of me that is thrilled by a challenge decided that I was going to prove her wrong. My career test said I should be a heavy equipment operator and I started looking at art schools.

Q: Do you have a process when it comes to taking your shots? How do you usually begin a shoot?

A: It totally depends on what I’m shooting. For more styled shoots (fashion, product, food) I start with a mood board that helps solidify my idea and acts as a reference for stylists, makeup artists, models, etc.
For project based work (documentary, fine art) I journal. I start by reading scholarly articles on the subject and then research work done by other artists regarding the same or similar subject. I analyze which parts of their work I found successful and which less so. That’s normally as much as I do for documentary projects as you can’t plan much when you want to communicate the genuine atmosphere of a place. For more structured fine art work I add an extra step of developing a mood board. I keep all the articles, other people’s work and mood boards together in that project’s journal so that I can continue referencing it throughout the project. The journals also work well for those “what was that guy’s name again?” moments.
Other than that, while I shoot I’m mindful of how many horizontal vs. vertical images I’m getting, ensuring I have different compositions that will work well together, and maintaining a uniformity in the atmosphere of the photos so that I have good options for layouts and such.

Q: What kind of camera(s), lenses, editing software, etc, do you use? Tell us about your equipment and why you’ve chosen it.

A: I just upgraded to a Canon 5D Mkiii this year. I shoot mainly with a 50mm prime lens (that I got for $60 on kijiji, it doesn’t have to cost a lot to work!) as I feel it makes me consider my composition more carefully and the compression of the 50mm works well for both portraits and landscapes. I also shoot polaroids with my SX-70 whose name is Peter. The unpredictability of them is good for perfectionists like me. Plus, I am starting to shoot more 35mm colour film on an old Praktica MTL 5 that I mainly use with a Carl Zeiss (fancy) 50mm lens. I haven’t decided which film is my soulmate yet but currently the Fujicolour 400H is my front runner because both it’s warm and cool tones are beautiful and it’s a little more subtle than most films.
As for software, I live and breathe Adobe, as most photographers do. I edit in Photoshop and I use Bridge to organize my files and cull shoots. InDesign is a favorite for creating layouts with my photos and whatever other artsy bits I want to throw in.

Q: What would you say is the key to the success you’ve seen in your growth as a photographer over the years?

A: I think it’s important in any creative field to:
Inform yourself by studying others’ work.
Create things you enjoy, don’t just make stuff you think other people will like.
Allow your previous work that you now despise to teach you.
Just make stuff, it doesn’t have to be perfect and not everyone will like it but you can’t let that stop you.

Q: I know you do a lot of portraiture as well as some weddings and landscapes. What is your favorite things to shoot and why?

A: Documentary/landscape is by far my favourite. Attempting to capture the essence of a place, people, or time is so intriguing for me. It’s a challenge but at the same time I find it almost meditative, very calming. You have to learn what’s at the heart of whatever you’re photographing and sort of photograph around it in order to describe it. That probably sounds very artsy, strange, and abstract but it’s an abstract thing that I’m trying to capture. You have to fill in the gaps around it until the space in the middle describes the thing. The ultimate beating around the bush! Except if the bush was invisible because then you’d have to beat around it to know if it was a hedge or a little shrub or a crazy topiary. Ok, that might be the worst example ever, but like I said, it’s an abstract idea!

Q: What is one thing (or several!) you would like to see change about how the creative community is treated when it comes to working as an artist, especially an independent one?

A: I would LOVE IT if people regarded creativity as a “real” career. Just today someone told me “...but you don’t REALLY work five days a week.” They’re right, I work six, often seven days a week but it’s hard for people to understand that. I think this stems from the fact that the work of creative people is incredibly undervalued and people don’t understand how it contributes to society. As a Christian, I think creativity plays a vital role in society. In his book Every Good Endeavor Tim Keller describes creativity as us “...continuing God’s work of forming, filling, and subduing. Whenever we bring order out of chaos, whenever we draw out creative potential, whenever we elaborate and ‘unfold’ creation beyond where it was when we found it, we are following God’s pattern of creative cultural development.” Acts 3:21 says that God will restore everything. The gospel isn’t only about redeeming our spiritual selves but all of creation, to the point where there is, as the Bible describes, a new heaven and a new earth. The restorative quality of creativity is a part of that redemptive process and is one way we emulate Christ and bring Him glory on earth.

Q: Do you have any degrees/certificates in your artistic field? Or are you pursuing any?

A: I have a Bachelor of Design with a major in Photography from the Alberta College of Art and Design.

Q: How did you go about perfecting your artistic skills? Were you self-taught?

A: I am always perfecting my artistic skills because they’ll never be perfect! I went to university but I do hope, as cheesy as it sounds, to never stop learning. I am always studying the work of others, and trying to learn new techniques.

Q: You have lived in quite a few different locations in your life. Tell us about them. Which one have you enjoyed living in the most? Which did you find most inspiring? Which really feels like home to you?

A: Cornwall has my heart. I love the weather, pace of life, history, food, and landscape and it does hold sentimental value as well. I gained a lot of direction in my creative and spiritual lives while I was there and I’m still learning from my time there. I find each place I live informs my creativity in a different way and I love it! It might sound cliche, but I really find wherever I am at the moment feels like home. Making anywhere feel like home is quite fun for me and I think it’s important to feel at home in order to be able to fully experience a place.

Q: What advice do you have for aspiring young photographers? What is the best advice you’ve received?

A: The best advice I’ve ever received was from one of my drawing professors in my first year of university. I hated drawing. I’m not especially talented when it come to proportions or perspective and that’s what the class was focused on. I kept getting very frustrated with my work not meeting my standards and my prof pulled me aside one day. When I told him what was agitating me he told me, “In order for your hand to develop, your eye has to develop.”
Being able to see flaws in our own work is an important step in progressing our skills. But, progress rather than perfection is the end goal. We can’t expect ourselves to be perfect, we don’t live in a perfect world!

Q: What is your favorite and least favorite part of photography?

A: I love the honesty of photography. That might seem like a contradiction in this golden age of photoshop but there isn’t another medium that allows you to capture things so exactly. Unfortunately, the world is so oversaturated with images that people don’t value photography very much.

Q: Who is someone who inspires your photography career?

A: I have quite a collection of artists that inspire me. Finding time to spend with other people’s work is a big part of my creative process. Someone whose career and work inspire me is Joe Greer. I actually initially encountered his work on Instagram (@ioegreer).

Q: Where do you see/want to see your photography career in five years?

A: It would be fun to earn a Master’s degree, do packaging design, design product, shoot large scale projects, there is just so much to do in the world! I am really open to whatever has come my way by then, I just hope to be in a place where I get to be creative in a way that helps others.

Q: Aside from photography, what are some of your other hobbies/talents?

A: There’s quite a few so I’m just going to list them…
Illustration, watercolour painting, swing dancing (well most dancing), hiking, running, biking, horseback riding, tenor banjo, knitting, sewing, leatherwork, bookbinding, embroidery, learning Japanese and Spanish, flower pressing (yes that’s a hobby), calligraphy, general crafting, thrift store hunting, jewelry design, reading, gardening, baking.
That’s at least most of them.

Q: What is one (or a couple!) shot you consider your best work? Why? Would you mind sharing it/them?

A: This always changes, normally the photo I use as the landing page for my website is one of my current favourites. https://brookerosales.com Currently I’m really enjoying the work I did in the Philippines. My landing page at the moment is a favourite from the Philippines, I like serenity of the photo and the intricate details that seem rather abstract from further away. I also love the colours and how limited the colour palette is.

Q: How have you managed your time to effectively create while still being able to do other things you love/hold a job/go to school/travel/etc?

A: Despite being a free spirit at heart I have learned the value of a schedule. When I assist other creatives the hours tend to be a standard 9 to 5, Monday to Friday. I schedule time to workout, learn Japanese/Spanish/banjo, and do house work around that workweek structure. The work I do day to day changes and I do have to be flexible but that basic structure gives a bit of a routine. I work on my own projects in evenings and on Saturdays and I’ve found that breaking my work into smaller, more manageable pieces helps me work quickly without feeling overwhelmed.
Also, taking Sunday off is key in order to keep my work from feeling too much like a chore. Having a day without deadlines or to do lists helps me go into the week feeling refreshed and inspired. This is also when I enjoy a lot of my hobbies, flexing my creativity in a zero pressure environment. It’s kind of my creative palette cleanser.

Q: What is something you would like to see change in the creative community?

A: It would be great to see the creative community be less hostile towards Christians. I think creativity is a big part of Christianity and vice versa. The creative community prides itself on its inclusivity of different genders, ethnicities, and sexual orientations. I wish it showed the same attitude toward different spiritual beliefs since spirituality and creativity are inextricably connected.

Q: Do you ever have times of self-doubt and worry that you find hard to get through concerning your creative career? Do you mind sharing about them?

A: EVERYDAY. I am a perfectionist. Perfectionism isn’t just the cute answer you give when an interviewer asks you what your greatest fault is, it’s debilitating for a creative because it keeps you from making and sharing work. I have to remind myself all the time that perfection isn’t something I can achieve and rather I have to try to harness my perfectionist tendencies to improve my work. It’s actually given me a big appreciation for more raw and organic qualities in art.

Q: Where/how do you gather the most inspiration for photography?

A: I’m inspired by many different artists, illustrators, graphic designers, photographers, painters, etc. One of my favourite things to do is spend a day at an art gallery or library. Conveniently, in Vancouver, the art gallery and library are rather close together with a bubble tea place in between. Instagram is also a great resource if you make sure you’re getting more out of it than you’re putting in.

Q: What is your biggest dream relating to your creative career?

A: The dream would be flying around the world spending weeks at a time with groups of different people, trying to capture the essence of their lives in photos. So, you know, nothing crazy! *sarcasm*

Q: How would you describe your photography style?

A: Quiet. Minimal. We are surrounded by heaps of ‘in your face’ imagery as everyone vies for attention spans that are getting shorter and shorter. Quiet images that allow us to pause in the maelstrom tend to hold our attention longer. At least that’s what I’m going for. In the end I think how others describe my work is more important as that indicates how effectively it’s communicating.

Q: What do you feel has been a defining moment in your career so far?

A: That’s tough. Everywhere I’ve been and everyone I’ve met inevitably influences my career. If I had to pick one thing it would have to be living in Cornwall. It gave me a way broader understanding of the world and also taught me a lot about my own process.

Q: What do you feel is the hardest part of being an independent artist?

A: Paperwork. I don’t enjoy how much time I have to spend sending invoices, chasing unpaid invoices, emailing prospective clients, sorting receipts, doing taxes, etc.

Q: And what is the most rewarding?

A: When people “get it”. When they mention they saw your work and tell you that it made them think.

Q: Finally, where do you see your career heading in the near future? Any big changes or excitement ahead that you’re looking forward to?

A: I’m going to Mexico in November! I’m excited because I’ve never been there before and I get to go with two friends that have been part of my creative journey since the beginning! (Joanna being one of them) Other than that I feel like I’m in the calm before the storm right now. It is frustrating that I’m not working on the “end all, be all” project but I’m learning so much and really enjoying what I’m doing. I’m trying to practice patience, soak up as much knowledge as I can, and take this time to hone my skills.

  Thank you for your time and insight, Brooke! And thank YOU for reading. Please check out Brooke's website and her instagram accounts for some truly beautiful photography that will visually delight you.

  It's the first day of November today and that means NANOWRIMO! Who's started their projects? Are you ready for the month of crazy? How have you enjoyed these interviews? Let me know below!

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Indie Artists Week #4 - Rachel Hardy (MUSICIAN)

  Today's feature is with a totally different kind of artist than I have yet covered - our first and only musician of Indie Artists Week - Rachel Hardy!


  I say that I know Rachel personally, to a certain degree. We have never met in person but our grandparents got together and chatted about us and we got each other's contact info and became a sort of penpals. Since Rachel and I have quite a few similar interests it was pretty easy for us to hit it off. I've truly enjoyed seeing Rachel's music career develop over the last few years, she has a beautiful voice and a real talent for music!

Here is a little bit about Rachel:

Rachel Hardy is a 19-year-old composer and songwriter. She has received a professional certificate from Berklee College of Music and is currently in her second year of University studying Music Composition. She hopes to one day write music for film and television.

You can find Rachel on...

 Her website
 Her Facebook Page
 Her Youtube Channel
 Her Patreon


Q: When did you first start singing/playing and when did you first start taking it seriously as a career?

A: I wrote a few piano pieces when I was 8 or 9 and my parents and friends really encouraged me to keep writing. I got my notation software in grade 10 and fell in love with writing for orchestras. I’ve always been obsessed with film scores and would say that a lot of my inspiration has come from composers such as John Williams, Alexandre Desplat, Howard Shore, John Powell etc. I composed a lot all throughout high school, and really started considering studying it as my grade 12 year came to an end. After completing my certificate with Berklee, I just knew without a doubt that I made the right choice to pursue this as a career. It will for sure be challenging, but I’m doing what I’m passionate about.

Q: What do you consider your epiphany moment, where you decided this was something you wanted to do?

A: My first assignment when I started my certificate program was scoring for a trailer. (It was the trailer for “Troy”, they had just stripped the original music out of it.) I had so much fun writing music to line up with the events on the screen; it was like solving a really exciting puzzle. I remember feeling so confident with the finished product, and showing it to my family. I think we all just kind of knew at that point that this was what I had to keep doing. I think that’s when my mind shifted from thinking of composing as a hobby to wanting to pursue it as a career.

Q: Do you have a process when it comes to composing? How do you usually begin a project?

A: Composing for film takes a bit of planning ahead. I usually create a cue sheet, where I write the timecode of important on-screen events that would require a musical ‘hit’. (E.g. a change in the drama, or a notable climatic moment like a punch). I also have to watch the scene a number of times to decide what feeling or emotion I want to portray through the music. After establishing where the musical hits have to be and the feeling of the sound I want to capture, I start to structure the rest of the cue around those things. There is a lot of trial and error… it usually takes a handful of ideas that don’t work to find one that fits.

Q: What kind of tools do you use as a musician (computer programs, websites, specific instruments, reference books, etc)? How do you use them? Do you recommend any of them for other musicians?

A: I’m the kind of composer who likes to hear how something will sound. I am more hands-on than technical, so I tend to do a lot of midi-editing through what are called sample libraries. These are computer programs that trigger very realistic-sounding digital instruments, which I control through a keyboard. This way, I have everything I need -- strings, woodwinds, brass, soloists, percussion, etc -- at my fingertips. I use a number of sample libraries, but a few of my favourites are Spitfire Albion, True Strike, Symphobia Lumina, the Giant, LA Scoring Strings, and Action Strings. I could talk forever about the strengths and weaknesses in each of these programs, but maybe I’ll save that for another day.
I also have a book called “The Study of Orchestration” by Samuel Adler which is the bible of composition. I would recommend it to anyone interested in composing. It answers every question about what each instrument can and cannot do.

Q: What would you say is the key to the success you’ve seen in your growth as an artist over the years?

A: When it comes to composing, for film or just in general, connections are so important. The more people you know in the music industry the better. If there are people out there who believe in you and your work, jobs are more likely come to you. I think confidence is also a big necessity. I know it can be difficult for artists to show others their work -- it requires vulnerability. But you have to be confident in what you have to offer in order for others to be confident.

Q: You do both covers of songs and write your own music. What got you into composition? Do you prefer one over the other? Why?

A: Singing covers is a hobby of mine. I find it fun and YouTube provides me with some money for me to invest back into my music. I don’t really prefer one over the other, but I am studying composition because there is more of an industry there and I think I would enjoy it more as a job.

Q: What are some of your favorite things about writing your own music vs. making covers?

A: Writing my own music requires so much creativity. It is really hard, exhausting work, but it really pays off to be able to hear something I made completely from scratch. Covers are a bit tricky. I enjoy recording them, because who doesn’t like singing… but all the mixing and editing and filming is very, very boring. I have hundreds of covers recorded, but only so many make it to YouTube because I just hate the editing process.

Q: What is one thing (or several!) you would like to see change about how the creative community is treated when it comes to working as a musical artist, especially an independent one?

A: One thing that I have really noticed, surprisingly, is the lack of confidence film directors and crews seem to have in female composers. I’ve always wondered why the number of working female composers is so incredibly low, and after reading study after study, it seems that people subconsciously assume that females cannot handle the stress of the tight timelines of film composition as well as males can. I think this is absolutely stupid.

Q: Do you have any degrees/certificates in your artistic field? Or are you pursuing any?

A: I have completed my Professional Certificate in Composing for Film and Television at Berklee College of Music online. I am now pursuing a degree in music composition.

Q: Have you taken any music courses or classes in the past? Were you self-taught?

A: I grew up taking piano lessons, but was self-taught when I started composing. I spent hours listening to film soundtracks and tried to imitate similar sound combinations in my own music. In the past few years I’ve been a full-time music student and have learned so much more about the more technical aspects of composition.

Q: What are some things you did to develop your skills as a musician over the years?

A: I’ve really learned how to keep an open mind. I’ve had to study so many different kinds of music that I would never have otherwise listened to on my spare time, from Gregorian chant to music so abstract I didn’t even know what was going on. Even if they’re not all my cup of tea, each style of music has so much to offer. There’s always something to learn.

Q: What advice do you have for aspiring young musicians? What is the best advice you’ve received?

A: Just go for it. Work hard at the things you love to do. And really pursue your own style. Many composers -- myself included -- have felt like their music had to sound like other successful composers’ in order to be successful. This isn’t true. Your individual styles and ideas are what will make you really stand out. One of my professors told me it takes a thousand mistakes to come up with a really great idea. He taught me that making mistakes and coming up with no-good ideas are okay and that that’s how we really learn.

Q: What is your favorite and least favorite part of music and music composition?

A: My favourite part is the reward of creating something from nothing. My least favourite part is the creative block. One time I didn’t write for months just because I wasn’t inspired. It was awful.

Q: Who is someone who inspires your musical career?

A: Beethoven. That might sound weird. But that guy kept writing music, even when he couldn’t hear it or enjoy it. My goal is to have that kind of drive to do what I love.

Q: Do you have a favorite musician/song that has really influenced your own work?

A: There are so many composers that have inspired me so much of the years, but I think one of the most inspiring has been Alexandre Desplat. I think my style of writing is most influenced by his style.

Q: Where do you see/want to see your artistic career in five years?

A: I’d love to be attending a film festival of some sort, seeing a film I got to compose for shown for the first time.

Q: Aside from music, what are some of your other hobbies/talents?

A: Acting, archery, photography, blogging, watching movies, and making crafts.

Q: Do you have a particular piece you consider your best work? Why?

A: I don’t think I have a favourite. Each piece I write has something in it I’m proud of and usually something I’m not as proud of.

Q: I understand you have done/do modelling as well as music. What got you into that world and what do you enjoy about it? Is there anything about it that you find has benefitted you as a musician?

A: I got into modelling when I was in high school because I needed a job. It’s been such an interesting experience. It’s always changing, which I really like. I also love to work with other people. Modelling has done wonders for my confidence talking to new people; I used to be incredibly shy, and I’m definitely not anymore. I took a year off after high school to travel, model, and work on my certificate program online, and it was an incredibly inspiring and rewarding experience.

Q: How have you managed your time to effectively create while still being able to do other things you love/hold a job/go to school/etc?

A: It’s really hard. It’s difficult to balance music I don’t really enjoy (like theory homework) with music I do enjoy (like writing and listening). Sometimes all the different kinds of music activities I have to do blend together to the point where I’d just rather nap and forget about music for awhile. I usually function best when I schedule different tasks into different days.

Q: What is something you would like to see change in the creative community?

A: I guess I wish there were more opportunities for artists (especially locally) of all kinds to join together and collaborate in new ways.

Q: Do you ever have times of self-doubt and worry that you find hard to get through concerning your creative career? Do you mind sharing about them?

A: Absolutely, all the time. Going to school for music has been a really tough thing for me, because you’re surrounded by people who have similar goals and dreams, many of whom just know a lot more than I do. Sometimes I find myself feeling really behind. I don’t know as much about music theory or classical composers and pieces as many other music majors. The best I can do during these times of doubt is to just keep pushing through and trust in my strengths. But yes, there sure are days where dropping out of university sounds tempting.

Q: Where/how do you gather the most inspiration for music?

A: A lot of my original pieces are fueled by what’s going on in my life at that time. Life is full of all sorts of experiences and feelings to find inspiration in. That’s the vulnerable part of composing… sometimes you’re in love and sometimes you’re heart-broken; sometimes you’re on top of the world and sometimes you’re just downright depressed. That all comes out in some way or another in my music, and although that vulnerability isn’t always comfortable, I believe it’s necessary in creating something really special.

Q: What is your biggest dream relating to your creative career?

A: In a perfect world I’d want to be a composer for Disney or Dreamworks.

Q: What do you feel has been a defining moment in your career so far?

A: I can’t think of one right now, but hopefully there will be a few someday soon.

Q: What do you feel is the hardest part of being an independent artist?

A: Finding work and self-promotion/networking is quite hard for me. That’s something I’m still getting used to. Staying motivated is also really difficult, especially when doing projects for free to build a portfolio.

Q: And what is the most rewarding?

A: Again, hearing that finished product is always worth the hard work.

Q: Finally, where do you see your career heading in the near future? Any big changes or excitement ahead that you’re looking forward to?

A: I hope to be working on a few small local film projects in the upcoming year. Right now I am focusing on school, but I can’t wait to get out there and do what I’m passionate about.


  Thanks for your participation, Rachel! I hope you guys enjoyed hearing about the ins and outs of being an independent musician! Are you going to check out Rachel's Youtube channel to hear her lovely voice? Please do, and let me know how you're enjoying Indie Artists Week in the comments below!

Monday, October 30, 2017

Indie Artists Week Feature #3 - Aimee Meester (WRITER)

  We're back again today with yet another totally awesome indie artist for you to learn about! On this fine Monday morning I am featuring fellow writer and blogger, Aimee Meester!


  Learn more about Aimee through her personal bio...

Introductions are lame and I'm not very good at them.

Which is a great way for me to introduce myself to you, isn't it? "Hi, nice to meet you, I really hate doing this." But I've always felt that it's impossibly difficult to sum yourself up in a few nice paragraphs on the internet in a way that interests people. You might have already clicked away from this page. I don't really blame you. I have some more interesting things in other corners of this blog. Unless you just clicked away from this blog entirely, in which case I still don't blame you, I just think you're missing out, because occasionally I have things to say.

Anyway. This is me. I write lots of words. I read lots of stories. I consume even more stories, because Netflix is a thing, which is unfortunate for the writing lots of words part of me. My favorite genre is "weird" or just flat-out sci-fi. I have Opinions about probably everything. I'm running out of things to say. I like cats. Also, chocolate.

Hi.


You can find Aimee on...

  Her website.
  Her blog.
  Her Twitter.

Aimee is the writer and producer of the Bright Eyes podcast, which you can learn more about and listen to by following this link.

"For nearly fifty years, the Athena Institute has remained faithful in its mission to expand the boundaries of the known universe and better the human race. State-of-the-art programming and rigorous training combined with a unique application process result in a generation of humanity's finest pilots, military leaders, and researchers devoted to excellence. Graduates remain highly esteemed and highly successful. 
The final test of this education finds itself in THE BRIGHT EYES PROJECT. 
Painstakingly created to challenge our students, this year-long final project revolutionizes the concept of teaching through experience. Aspiring-graduates will live out a carefully-simulated version of the life they can expect among the stars, ranging from mock assignments to curated emergencies.* This high-pressure experience offers a chance to apply training and take risks within the confines of Institute-controlled space, before they step out into the real world beyond. Successful graduates find themselves confident, prepared, and eager to step out into a future career, serving both the public and the Institute in our quest for higher learning." 

  I highly recommend you check out and support this independent project! It's fantastic!

  Keep reading for my interview with Aimee below...


Q: When did you first start writing and when did you first start taking it seriously as a career?

A: It sounds cliche, but I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember! I remember working away on never-finished novels at around age 10, and I know I did little stories before that. As for considering it as a career... I’ve always played with the idea of wanting to be an author when I grow up, but it’s only in the past year or so that I’ve realized I could actually realistically make it happen and that I have lots of options for that. It’s been a wild ride.

Q: What do you consider your epiphany moment, where you decided this was what you wanted to do?

A: Wow, I’m not sure I could pinpoint it to one moment! But it was definitely significant for me when I started to receive feedback from some professional people on my work, and I realized that I maybe had what it took to make this thing work. That gave me a lot of confidence and the ability to visualize some professional next-steps I could take toward achieving what I wanted.

Q: Do you have a process when it comes to writing? How do you usually begin a project?

A: My process mostly leans toward “get the darned thing on the page already” more than anything else, honestly. I almost always begin by sitting down with something I’m excited about and slapping a first draft onto the page. It’s never really good, but I have to get all the junky aspects of the idea out before I can start fleshing out the good ones, and I love  that first-draft rush of creation without worrying about editing yet. I’ll let myself get an unfiltered draft out there, and then I’ll come back to the beginning and usually re-write all of it with a more specific vision in mind this time.

Q: What kind of tools do you use as a writer (computer programs, notebooks, reference books, etc)? How do you use them? Do you recommend any of them for other writers?

A: Most of the time it’s just my computer and Google Docs! I’ve always felt that fancy writing programs or tools can be fun, up until they start to get in your way and distract more than they help. The only tool you need for writing is something to write on, whether that’s Google Docs, Word, Scrivener, whatever else you want to use. I do all of my planning and drafts and such on Docs, but for random scribblings I like to use notebooks. When I do novel planning or outlines, it’s almost always on white printer paper, not notebooks or lined paper or anything, oddly enough.

I’d recommend something to write on more than anything else. Specific, I know.

Q: What would you say is the key to the success you’ve seen in your growth as a writer over the years?

A: FINISH THINGS. Sorry to use all caps, but it feels necessary here. So often I see writers my age or younger bouncing from one project to another, getting way ahead of themselves, posting early drafts online as they write them, and so on, and I sort of cringe internally a little bit. It’s hard to persevere and finish, especially if you’ve been at it for a while and the project isn’t fresh and thrilling anymore, but you’re not going to get anywhere if you don’t learn how to sit down and pound something out until it’s done. You can’t work with or improve on a work if you don’t have it in the first place. Learn how to finish things, learn how to push aside distracting new ideas, learn how to focus on what you’re doing in the moment.

Also, don’t post early drafts of things online. Just… don’t, guys. Save yourselves the self-loathing later on. It’s easy to get sucked into needing validation to want to continue what you’re doing, but it’s not worth not putting your best work forward first.

Q: Though you have mainly written novels, you have recently taken to writing scripts, specifically for your podcast “Bright Eyes”. What got you interested in script-writing?

A: I love scripts! I’ve always been inspired by movies and TV a little more than novels (as much as I love reading books) and it’s something I’ve wanted to delve into for a while now. I’m fascinated in original ways of creating stories and formats different than just words on a page. Scripts come with their own challenges and perks, and require a different part of your brain, and I love that challenge. With podcasts specifically, I started listening to a lot of fiction ones and realized that this kind of audio format allows for a totally new kind of storytelling. I wanted to see what it would be like to bring a story to life using only audio.

Q: What are some of the challenges in writing scripts vs. writing novels?

A: It really does use a different part of your brain and creativity! You don’t want to bore your audience to tears by writing down ALL THE DESCRIPTIVE THINGS, and with something like a podcast, you’re not going to have visuals, so the challenge lies in giving people a coherent picture of what’s happening and where you are while still letting it sound natural. You’re also working with people who aren’t you, and writing dialogue that someone else is going to say out loud, so it’s important to know who you’re writing for and how they talk so you can adjust. Audio dialogue reads much differently than dialogue that’s meant to be read.

Q: What is one thing (or several!) you would like to see change about how the creative community is treated when it comes to working as an artist, especially an independent one?

A: It would be great if we could recognize the importance of paying people for the things they’re creating, you know? Creating anything — art, music, stories, podcasts — takes an incredible amount of time and effort, even if it seems like we’re just pumping it out effortlessly (I wish), but so often people expect us to be able to churn out content that we’ll provide for free. Art is for people to enjoy, yes, but that doesn’t mean we’re going to hand it out for free. It’s a job like any other and a service like any other and as such, it has value. By all means freely admire the art we put out there for everyone to see, but if you want something specific from us, you’d better be prepared to compensate us for it.

Q: Do you have any degrees/certificates in your artistic field? Or are you pursuing any?

A: I do not! And it’s not a popular thing to say, but I don’t intend to even go to college, so pursuing any sort of English/writing/etc degree isn’t something I think about. Lots of people have done that, and it works for them, but all artists are different and we all learn in different ways, so I don’t believe that a college class is what’s going to work for everyone. I’ll be pursuing writing all the things and learning that way, for the most part.

Q: Have you taken any writing courses or classes in the past? Were you self-taught?

A: I’ve attended courses and conferences in the past that I’ve thoroughly enjoyed! For the most part, though, I’ve learned by consuming art and making art and consuming art and making art and getting art critiqued and learning from that and consuming art and so on and so forth, in that infinite cycle. (It sounds boring when I type it out, but oh well.)

Q: What are some things you did to develop your skills as a writer over the years?

A: I sort of said this earlier, but I’ve persisted! I’ve forced myself to slog through things I didn’t want to finish and come out stronger for it, even if that particular work didn’t go anywhere after that or turn out to be a masterpiece. I’ve been working at teaching myself self-discipline and the value of doing things even when you don’t want to, and that’s improved my writing incredibly.

I’m also big on the value of trying new things! That could be a different medium, a new format of storytelling, a different writing style, a genre you wouldn’t usually attack. Do something you’re not comfortable with doing and try to get fairly good at it. Practice. Push yourself.

Q: What advice do you have for aspiring young writers? What is the best advice you’ve received?

A: Consume ALL the art. There’s this Stephen King quote that essentially goes “If you don’t have the time to read, you don’t have the time to write” and I believe that’s true. Don’t just write, READ. Watch movies. Watch shows. Go to plays. Listen to music. Whatever field you’re in, consume a lot of it. Not just the good, but the mediocre and the really bad, too! Don’t spend all your time on Netflix and say you’re writing, but learn how to recognize stories and devices and tropes. Learn what works and what doesn’t, and why it does or doesn’t. The more I consume other content, the better I am at my own, I’ve discovered.

Q: What is your favorite and least favorite part of writing?

A: My favorite and my least favorite are both everything about writing. Not gonna lie.

Q: Who is someone who inspires your writing career?

A: I don’t know that I can name a specific person, somehow. There are lots of authors and creators that I admire, and there isn’t a specific one who’s inspired me in a special way.

Q: Do you have a favorite book/books/author that has really influenced your own writing?

A: Again, I don’t think there’s just one or two things that I could point out… I’ve been a huge reader for as long as I can remember, and I think it’s that kind of habit that’s influenced me more than anything else. (That being said, the works of Neal Shusterman, Pierce Brown, and a lot of classic literature have inspired and influenced my writing style lately.)

Q: Where do you see/want to see your writing career in five years?

A: I would love to be working in some capacity in TV — I don’t know if that will happen in five years, since it’s a tricky business to get into, but that’s a career I’m working towards at the moment and I would like to see myself at least closer to that goal. Obviously I want to be a better writer, and someone who’s still persisting and writing lots of things even when it’s hard. I’d like to be better at discipline, too. That’s a struggle at the moment.

Q: Aside from writing, what are some of your other hobbies/talents?

A: I do martial arts! I can’t say I’m the best at it but it’s something I enjoy quite a lot. As of late I’ve dabbled in boxing, too.

Q: Do you have a particular story you consider your best work? Why?

A: My Bright Eyes podcast is something I’m proud of story-wise, though I can’t take all the credit for that one. I think it’s one of the best things I’ve ever put together. Novel-wise, I have a steampunk mystery novel I’ve been working through for a few years now that I think is genuinely good at this point.

Q: Do you have an absolute favorite comic book villain? Why are they your favorite?

A: You really can’t get any better than Magneto, can you? He has so many fascinating moral layers and grey areas, and I’m always interested in characters that aren’t so much black and white villains as they are sometimes-antagonists-sometimes-almost-heroes. (His powers are also objectively the BEST MUTANT POWERS EVER, don’t @ me on this.)

Q: How have you managed your time to effectively create while still being able to do other things you love/hold a job/go to school/etc?

A: I’ll let you know when I figure that out.

Right now I’m juggling my senior year of high school and a part-time job along with all of this creative nonsense, so I’ve had to learn how to prioritize and use my time wisely. I don’t watch as much Netflix as I used to. (A bummer that no one wants to hear, but there you have it.) I don’t spend a lot of time on Pinterest. I give myself breaks so I don’t burn out. I break things up into manageable chunks instead of trying to fit ALLL the things into one day. Cramming and hustling constantly isn’t cool, it’s unhealthy, and it’ll burn you out a lot faster than giving yourself some grace to get things done at a slower pace.

Q: What is something you would like to see change in the creative community?

A: We like to have this attitude of intellectual superiority over others, like our art is important and world-changing and we have the responsibility to educate all these non-artist-people who don’t know what beautiful things really are. I think we need to step down from that and realize that we’re not going to save the world, and when it comes down to it, it’s a job, isn’t it? That job is to entertain. To write good stories. It’s NOT to preach and tell people what the right thing to think is.

You’re not important. You’re just someone with a talent.

Q: Do you ever have times of self-doubt and worry that you find hard to get through concerning your creative career? Do you mind sharing about them?

A: I mean, this is probably true for every single artist ever, isn’t it? (If you don’t worry about this, I’m a little worried for you.) For me, however, I spend a lot of time worrying that I’m not pretty enough - I don’t have that #aesthetic, y’all. I don’t have a nice desk space where I sit down and write. I don’t write poetry. My writing style is more blunt and to the point than it is lyrical. And that’s okay, even though most of the time, it doesn’t feel like it. But it’s hard to push through the idea that it’s all right to have my own style, and people are going to like it even if that doesn’t seem like that’s what popular now. I can’t force myself to do someone else’s thing just to get attention. It’ll come across as fake (and rightly so), which is the opposite of helpful.

Q: Where/how do you gather the most inspiration for writing?

A: TV shows! I’m a huge reader, but I also love TV quite a lot, and I’ve seen a good amount of it in a wide variety of genres. It’s easier to find shows in the genres I enjoy for whatever reason, and something about getting visuals helps my brain work in a way that reading words doesn’t. If I need inspiration, I’ll find myself going to a show I love (Firefly, Star Trek, LOST, etc.) and binging for a little bit, to get my brain jump-started again.

Q: What is your biggest dream relating to your creative career?

A: It’s been a goal of mine for a while now to be able to write/direct a movie. (Hopefully both at once but I’d take one or the other, too.) Filmmaking intrigues me in so many ways and it would be just the coolest to try my hand at it.

Q: What do you feel has been a defining moment in your career so far?

A: Launching this podcast of mine! It’s the first thing I’ve done that has been really professional and promoted and put-out-there, and the first project I’ve pursued further than just writing it. I’ve collaborated, managed something, and turned it into a real thing I can be proud of, and that’s sort of made it click that I can do these things for real.

Q: What do you feel is the hardest part of being an independent artist?

A: Not worrying about what other people think. We want validation — I want validation constantly — and we want people to love our stuff right here and right now, so it’s a challenge to step back and realize that you’re not in a rush and you should focus on your work. Not getting sucked up into that takes time and I still have yet to perfect it.

Q: And what is the most rewarding?

A: Getting to create! I don’t know if there’s anything that feels better than the simple act of playing around with stories.

Q: Finally, where do you see your career heading in the near future? Any big changes or excitement ahead that you’re looking forward to?

A: Obviously the podcast is getting exciting results, and that’s the big thing right now. We have some *coughcough* exciting developments coming on that front…


  Thanks for being with us today, Aimee, and thank you all for checking out this third installment of indie artists week! Be here tomorrow for #4!

  How are you enjoying the series so far? Did you check out Aimee's podcast? What did you think? Let me know in the comments below!

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Indie Artists Week Feature #2 - Jonah Anderson (ARTIST)


  Today I'm featuring a literal artist on the blog and the only male to grace this week of indie artist showcasing. I know Jonah personally through my local church, through competitive dodge-ball games at youth group, and through being co-workers at summer camp (where he is aptly named "Sketch"). As an artist myself, I always enjoyed seeing Jonah working on his various drawings while sitting in chapel or during youth group Bible study and I love his style of art. For mine and Jonathan's wedding he made us this beautiful painting that I am uber excited to hang in our house when we finally put up some nails. Right now it generally sits on our kitchen table and I see it every morning. He also did the self-portrait above. ^



  You can find Jonah on...

  Facebook and Instagram and view more of his amazing art.

  You can check out our interview here below...


  Q: When did you first start drawing and when did you first start drawing seriously?

A: I’ve really been drawing for as long as I can remember. My mom still has pictures I drew when I was four or five, so for most of my life I guess. I always enjoyed art and drawing, but it wasn’t until around grade 7 or 8 when I really starting doing it as a regular thing instead of just an occasional hobby.

Q: What do you consider your epiphany moment, where you decided this was what you wanted to do?

A: I’m not sure if there was really a specific moment when I decided. I think it was more of a gradual thing. Probably if there was a moment, it was when I started to seriously consider my future, and creating art was really the only thing that realistically came to mind. It’s the only thing that I can see myself doing, not that I couldn’t do something else if needed.

Q: Do you have a process when it comes down to making art? How do you usually start projects?

A: I’m not too sure if I have much of a process really. It depends on what I’m creating. Random doodles and sketches will often turn into a finished drawing, but paintings or more serious drawings usually require planning out for them. When starting a project, I’ll usually think of what I want the finished product to look like in my mind, then put on some good music and just kind of let it happen.

Q: How much time do you generally take on any given piece of work?

A: It really depends on what I’m working on. I’m somewhat of a perfectionist, which means that in my opinion I usually take way too long on the project I’m doing. Sometimes it really pays off and I really like how it looks, but sometimes I get too into it, and after all the time I sunk into it, take a step back and realize all the mistakes I made which I couldn’t see while working on it. At that point, I have to decide if I want to take the time fixing it, or just scrap it. Conclusion is that it’s usually too long. For drawings it’s usually around 5 or 6 hours, while paintings maybe 10-15.

Q: What would you say is the key to the success you’ve seen in your growth as an artist over the years?

A: Really, just practice, practice, practice. When I started, I didn’t consider myself a good artist, and in some ways I still don’t. I think it’s constantly a growing process and you should always be challenging yourself. I look back at even stuff I made from a few months ago and can pick out so many things I don’t like and have already gotten better at doing. Basically, don’t ever be satisfied with where you currently are. Always be shooting for something better.

Q: What are your favorite materials to use? What are some tried and true brands you depend on or can recommend?

A: I’m not exactly rich, so for the most part, I tend to buy cheaper supplies that maybe aren’t considered very artistic. For the past several years I’ve almost exclusively used ballpoint pens from Dollarama. I’m kind of returning to using pencil now mostly because of art college, but it is better really than just pen. I very much enjoy acrylic paints and what you can do with them. As for specific brands, I really like Prismacolour markers for colouring inked drawings, but other than that, I usually go with whatever’s cheapest.

Q: What is one thing (or several!) you would like to see change about how the creative community is treated when it comes to working as an artist, especially an independent one?

A: I think just to be taken more seriously as professionals. That’s something that’s changed a fair amount in today’s culture, but I think there is still a degree to which artists aren’t quite given the respect they deserve and may be seen as slackers.

Q: Did you take art lessons when you were younger? Or were you more self-taught?

A: I was always in art class in school, but I consider myself more self taught. I don’t think I learned too, too much in art class until later on in grades 9-12, which is after I considered myself an artist.

Q: Do you have any degrees/certificates in your artistic field? Or are you pursuing any?

A: I don’t have any. I’m currently in art college, hoping to major in Character Design, with a minor in Comics.

Q: What advice do you have for aspiring young artists? What is the best advice you’ve received?

A: Really, just practice all the time. Pay attention to your mistakes and always work on them, because if you don’t, you’ll end up an art college student who can’t draw feet.

Q: What is your favorite and least favorite part of art for you?

A: I really enjoy doing the lighting on objects/people, so basically shading. I think my least favorite is when I discover a huge mistake I made and having to figure out how I’m going to fix it.

Q: Who is someone who inspires your artistic career?

A: I have several, hopefully that’s ok if I list a few of them. I’ve always really enjoyed reading different comics like Jeff Smith’s Bone, Stephen Pastis’ Pearls Before Swine, and more recently, Hirohiko Araki’s JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure. As well, I really like the various artworks by Salvador Dali  and Roger Dean.

Q: What is your favorite style of art to work in? What is your favorite medium?

A: I usually work in a fairly realistic style. I’ve been trying to get better in other styles that are a little more cartoonish recently. I really like acrylic paint, but the meium I use the most is just pen and ink.

Q: I understand you are a fan of classic rock, do you have a particular favorite band or bands?

A: That’s hard to answer because there’s so many I like, but my top choices would be Pink Floyd, CCR, ELO, Fleetwood Mac, and ABBA.

Q: Where do you see/want to see your career in five years?

A: I’d like to see myself in a stable job maybe working with a gaming company doing character artwork, or illustrating my own, or someone else’s comic.

Q: Aside from art, what are some of your other hobbies/talents?

A: I played the piano for roughly 12 years of my life, I do enjoy it, but I haven’t been able to play much recently. I also play video games a fair amount. A talent I have is being able to whistle and hum at the same time, though I don’t know if that’s a fairly common talent.

Q: How have you managed your time to effectively create while still being able to do other things you love/hold a job/etc?

A: To be honest, recently art’s been more of a side thing while other things like a job and things at home have taken centre stage. I have been known to be fairly bad at time management, leaving project’s until the night before, etc, so hopefully I can change that.

Q: What is something you would like to see change in the creative community?

A: Modern art. I understand that nowadays art is less so about the visual appeal of the art and more about the ideas behind the art. I know and agree with the point that art needs to have a idea or driving force behind it to convey the artist’s message, but in my opinion certain modern art projects are just piles of trash. And I do mean that literally. Maybe I’m too literal to get the idea behind the art, but I do believe that some modern art nowadays is random things thrown together and called art, which I really hate.

Q: Do you ever have times of self-doubt and worry that you find hard to get through concerning your creative career? Do you mind sharing about them?

A: Yeah, pretty much all the time. Wondering if I should’ve gone to a college for something more stable, for what I don’t know. Art is my passion is really the only thing I can see myself doing. I also compare myself to others constantly, which in some circumstances is good, and a way to better yourself, but it also can negatively impact you and make you feel inadequate, which I do a fair amount more than I should.

Q: Where/how do you gather the most inspiration for your art?

A: Unfortunately, I’m not the most creative person. So a lot of my inspiration comes from the things that I enjoy and from the people I look up to. Whether it be a comic I like or a game I’m into at the time. I’m trying to work on myself to change that.

Q: What is your biggest dream relating to your creative career?

A: I think it would be super cool to work somewhere like Nintendo, designing characters or locations for the games I love playing.

Q: What do you feel has been a defining moment in your art career so far?

A: 2 years ago, in grade 11, my school put on a huge production called The Music Man. Unfortunately, the art class had to give up our entire year to paint the sets for the play. That really sucked, but one good thing came out of it. The school got the art class to create the poster for the play, and all the students created one. Mine was the one that got chosen as the official poster for the play, which I feel was a really big step for me. Also get to somewhat learn Photoshop while doing it, which was cool!

Q: What do you feel is the hardest part of being an independent artist?

A: I’m not sure if I’d consider myself an independant artist yet. Like, I’m not working for anybody, but I’m not exactly selling artwork on my own either. I’m doing it more for fun and to better myself right now. Although, from what I’ve seen, I’m thinking the hardest part is getting your name out there and being known.

Q: And what is the most rewarding?

A: I’d think it would be getting an artwork exactly right, either to what you foresaw it being, or just what the consumer wanted.

Q: Finally, where do you see your career heading in the near future? Any big changes or excitement ahead that you’re looking forward to?

A: To be completely honest, I’m not too sure where I see it going. I kinda know what I’d fields I’d like to go into after college, but I know that a lot of people at ACAD find something else that they love and start doing that, so I guess I’ll just go through it and see where God leads me.


  Thank you, Jonah, for your participation, and thank YOU for taking the time to check out another indie artist. Please take a look and some of Jonah's work through the links above and let him know what you think. Also be sure to leave a comment, especially if you have any more questions! See you tomorrow for the next feature! :D

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Indie Artists Week Feature #1 - Abigayle Claire (WRITER)

  To start off the Independent Artists Week stretch is my good writer friend, Abigayle Claire! I have been cyber-friends with Abi for over a year now and have loved getting to know her through the writing community. Abigayle self-published in a similar style to me (through Amazon and Createspace) twice and is the author of Martin Hospitality and Andora's Folly. I have read both her books and enjoyed them tremendously! Abi opted to do the interview in video format which you can check out below.

  But first, here is a little bit about Abigayle and places where you can find her and find her books.


Abigayle has been a writer ever since her mother taught her how to hold a pencil. However, she devoted more time to reading words with her green eyes than penning them with her left hand. Inspired by a crazy dream at the age of sixteen, she set off on a journey to self-publish her first novel, Martin Hospitality. Since then, Abigayle has devoted herself to sharing what she has learned through the mediums of freelance editing and her blog theleft-handedtypist.blogspot.com ... when period drama films are not calling more loudly. None of her successes, including winning a Readers' Favorite award, would be possible without the support of her Savior, large family, and online community.

Website/Blog: https://theleft-handedtypist.blogspot.ca/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/abitheauthor
Twitter: https://twitter.com/abitheauthor
Instagram: https://instagram.com/abitheauthor
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/abitheauthor
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/abitheauthor
Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC1a2mB0YvhJkw7Abh5NmLeg
Google+: https://plus.google.com/+AbigayleClaire


Her first book, Martin Hospitality, is available HERE

"Gemma Ebworthy is eighteen, pregnant, and alone. Now that she's been evicted, she finds herself sleeping in a barn, never dreaming that tomorrow could bring kindness of a life-changing magnitude. The Martins aren't a typical family—even for rural Kansas. With more kids than can be counted on one hand and a full-time farm, Gemma must make a lot of adjustments to fit in. But despite their many differences, Gemma finds herself drawn to this family and their radical Christian faith. When Gemma's past collides with her yet again, she must begin revealing her colorful history. With every detail Gemma concedes, she fears she will lose the Martins' trust and the stable environment she desires for herself and her unborn child. Just how far can the Martins' love and God's forgiveness go?"

and her second, Andora's Folly, is available HERE.

"A Pandora's Box retelling

Andora is a beautiful young woman with insatiable curiosity. Raised in splendor, she is spoiled by her privileged life. When a love letter is slid under her door, her life takes a drastically unromantic turn. Nothing makes sense—her arranged marriage, the gifts her parents bestow on her wedding day, or her new husband’s temperament.

As Andora begins to unravel the mysteries around her, she ignites a chain of events that have the power to sabotage her entire village forever. Only her new-found wisdom as a desperate peasant's wife can save her from her folly."


  And now, here is my interview with Abi! She gave some great answers and advice for fellow young and aspiring authors.




  I went back and added a question to the end of her interview which she did not get to answer so I've included it below:

And yes, I did realize after I finished filming that I didn't ever go back to answer the "Which artist inspires you?" question! My answer to that would be J.K. Rowling (for writing just because it was an outlet that literally kept her alive and blowing the minds of the fantasy world) and C.S. Lewis (for not being afraid to write different genres and writing with purpose).


  I hope you enjoyed the first installment of my Independent Artists Week! I will be posting every day into November with a new artist to feature so keep coming back and checking up! Also, please take a look at some of Abi's pages and follow her social medias, or - even better - go buy one of her books! 

  How did you enjoy this first post? Do you have any questions for Abi that I didn't cover? Post them below, or send them to her yourself! :DD