My SoOnCon ReCap

Being given the chance to speak at SoOnCon is simply too good of an opportunity to pass up. Having that event take place at the TIFF Bell Lightbox makes the experience that much better.

The work that went in to getting ready for this talk will be the subject of another entry. This post is about the event itself.

I arrived an hour later than I had wanted to. I missed the first few talks. Alex Leitch had started by the time I entered the building, and I didn’t want to be ‘that guy’ who barges in half way through and disrupts everyone. Instead, I sat down in the hallway and put together my slide show.

I went for an extremely simple black-background-with-white-text aesthetic, because most PowerPoint presentations suck, and I wanted to keep it as simple as I could. Plus, I was using Libre Office, so any fancy stuff I did was unlikely to turn out right after being converted to .ppt format. The slides were more of a reminder for Brad and I than fancy visuals for the audience. Our talk was a series of short stories, and each slide was a key phrase that reminded us of that story.

I sat through several lightning talks as I got my own presentation in order. I felt bad for working during someone else’s talk, but I knew I’d feel worse if my own talk failed due to lack of preparation. Just moments after finishing the slide show, a fortunate turn of events landed my way: the talk going on in Cinema 5, the room where Brad and I would be presenting, ended 10 minutes early. That meant we had time to copy files over to the presentation computer and do a tech demo, set the levels, get the sound working, and make sure there would be no hiccups along the way. I took care of all that stuff without any problems.

Finally, I could relax and just enjoy the presentations. I bounced from room to room, catching whatever seemed interesting. I hadn’t really slept the night before, so my exhaustion made it difficult to get as much out of the talks as I should have, but I still enjoyed much of what I saw.

Then, it was time for my talk.

Continue reading My SoOnCon ReCap

Tiff Talk Tomorrow

Note: This entry was written Thursday, September 29th, two days before the talk. I didn’t have a chance to edit and post the entry until the day after the talk.

I have a talk coming up at SoOnCon this Saturday. Brad and I will be standing on a stage in the Tiff Bell Lightbox giving a 30 minute presentation about the problems we see with the art world.

Continue reading Tiff Talk Tomorrow

What I’ve got going on: Blue-Chip Show, TEDx, SoOnCon

Last year at this time, I was frantically working to get “Take a Picture” finished in time for it’s big debut at Nuit Blanche. Brad and I were spending an average of 18 hours a day hand-etching circuit boards, inserting components, soldering, and assembling. Between the two of us, we made just over one thousand boards.

When I wasn’t building, I was typing. I tried to get in as many blog updates as I could. The idea was to plant some digital seeds by writing about the issues that Take a Picture was attempting to tackle. That way, I would be mentally prepared for the questions that would undoubtedly arise throughout the course of the evening. These posts would also serve as a landing pad for interested spectators. If people really like the project, we owe it to them to ensure that there is more content available for them to look up later. Never launch an idea or project without first building the infrastructure to support it. This way, on the off-chance that the idea made it big, I’d be prepared for it.

During the event itself, it was decided that we would not be participating in Nuit Blanche in 2011. It’s not because we had a bad experience or anything like that; we just missed seeing Nuit Blanche ourselves. We were stuck in front of our project the entire night, unable to see any other work. We didn’t want to become disconnected from the experience of participating in Nuit Blanche as art fans.

In the days that followed, the reviews were harsh; too many projects were artists responding to other artists, there was little for non-insiders to enjoy. I fear that if I spend all my time presenting art, I will lose that powerful and direct “This is what I want to see, damnit!” attitude and start producing empty fluff. I don’t want to produce empty art fluff, I want to keep on making cool stuff. I hope this doesn’t sound conceted or egotistical, but I like to make art that I would like to see. So this year the plan was to do nothing. I’d Sit back, relax, enjoy some free time leading up to Nuit Blanche, and hit the sites in ‘art spectator mode’, I’m not going to have to do anything.

That was the plan. The next several paragraphs deal with with why that isn’t going to happen.

Continue reading What I’ve got going on: Blue-Chip Show, TEDx, SoOnCon

Lots of big things on the horizon, and New Toy!

Sorry for the slow pace of things here lately. (It seems like I’ve been saying trhat a lot here lately…)

I’ve made some changes to my lifestyle, and as a result, I have a lot less free time than I used to. On top of that, I’ve had a lot of really big, exciting stuff come up, and I’ve been doing a lot more freelance work than usual. (Thats right, I paint, and I shoot photos and videos, I have lots of creative outlets, because every time I practice one, I get better at the others. Seems like I’ve been doing a lot of everything these days. Who knows, I just might record an album some day!

As a result of everything that has popped up, the blog suffers. I’m sorry, dear reader, but when it comes down to it, I’d rather be making cool stuff than writing about how I was wishing that I was making cool stuff.

The good news: I’m going to be doing some big things in the near future, so I’ll have some new experiences to write about!

One of the things I can tell you about now is that I’m spending a lot more time in public transit than I used to. Far too much time. For upwards of seven hours a week, I’m stuck on a bus. That’s a lot of wasted time. I don’t like wasting time. Fortunately for me, I’m travelling on off-peek hours, meaning I always get a seat. After a few weeks of this, I decided to bite the bullet, and spend money on something not directly art-related: a shiny new netbook.

Here’s a picture of the little guy. Ain’t she adorable?

So, I’m currently stuck on a bus, typing away, and being ever so thankful to asus for still putting matte screens in their netbooks. If this were one of the far more common glossy-screened laptops, the glare from the sun would make writting in my current situation impossible. But here I am, typing away, making use of what would otherwise be wasted time.

Now, I’d better get back to work.

Online Artist Statement Generator

Note: If you are only wanting to use the automatic artist statement generator, then click here to skip out on the story of how it came to be.

Back in 2005, I was in my 3rd year at OCAD, and I was taking a course titled “professional practices”. This course was supposed to teach students “everything you need to know about being an artist outside of the studio”

One of the assignments was the creation of an artist statement.

Now, I’ve always hated artist statements. “If you need text to explain your images, you’ve failed as an image maker” sums up my feelings on the matter. But, I had to write one. I decided that since I wasn’t happy about having to do this, I should at least have some fun with it. The challenge I set for myself was tuning this task into a creative outlet. I wanted to come up with something that was unexpected and unconventional. I was a tech nerd who was surrounded by a lot of non-technically-minded people, so I figured I should go down that route.

In high school, I had taken a programming class, and in my spare time, I created an “automatic insulter” program. This was an .exe file that would print something mean whenever you double-clicked it’s icon. It was very simple, but it was also very easy to modify and expand. An automatic artist statement generator seemed like a good idea.

I fired up my old laptop, and loaded up my copy of QBASIC, and I got coding.

Continue reading Online Artist Statement Generator

Shooting my First Wedding.

Last month, I shot my first wedding.

I wanted to use this as an opportunity to write up a three-part series, starting with an instructional post about how to prepare for a big photo shoot. The second post was going to be a raw, stream-of-consciousness reflection written the day after the shoot. The final follow-up post explaining what I had learned was going to come a month later, when the job had settled in and behind me.

But, things didn’t quite work out that way. It’s a month later now and that first post was never written. Instead, you are stuck with one long, meandering, disorganized post covering everything.

Before I begin, I will give you some of the relevant details:

1. Some of my very close friends were getting married.
2. I’ve never shoot a wedding before, and I don’t have all the fancy gear.

Because of these two factors, I’m obviously going to cut them a deal.

A meeting between myself and the Bride is arranged.
I talk with several other wedding photographers about rates, work-flow, gear, expectations, etc. So I can walk into the meeting with honest industry rates in my area.
Weeks before the big day, The Bride and I work out the details: The shoot is going to be done for next-to-nothing, but the prints will be sold at the regular rate.
In addition to prints, I will design a wedding photobook, and make it available through a print-on-demand service. Information about the book will be given to all of the guests. Hopefully, all of them will buy 300 copies each and I can retire.
We have a deal we are both happy with.

As the wedding draws nearer, I realize that having some sort of plan is probably a good idea. Ignoring my own advice, I make plans going forwards, rather than backwards (meaning I started with ‘step 1’ and worked my way forward. Planning backwards, starting with the final step and asking “what do I need for that to happen?” always seems to give me far more reliable and realistic results).

The Plan:

Research “how do I shoot a wedding” (1 day)
Shoot wedding (1 day)
Sort photos. (1-2 days)
Edit photos (3 days)
Design book (1 day)
Estimated turnaround: one week

I’ve got my plan! I’m all set.

“This is going to be easy.”

I will take this opportunity to make a little digression: Whenever the phrase “this is going to be easy” is uttered, that person is just minutes away from being spectacularly wrong.

“This is going to be easy…”

Continue reading Shooting my First Wedding.

My May 24 with Norman White

For the past decade or so, I have been an avid camper. Ever since that first trip out to Georgian Bay with my high school’s art’s department, I’ve been hooked. Nature is awesome when people haven’t moved in a wrecked it.

I try to avoid the big holiday weekends, choosing instead to head out either the week before or the week after the holiday weekend. This way, the traffic is a whole lot better, parking is plentiful, gear rental is assured, and popular camp sites are deserted. The spots I typically head to are quite remote, but I still run into the occasional camper if I am out during a holiday weekend. And it just doesn’t feel like camping when other people are near by. I need that ‘middle of nowhere’ feeling.

On this trip, I broke my usual rule when my friend Mindy invited me to something very special: camping at Norman White’s place.

Continue reading My May 24 with Norman White

Our Lightning Talk from Maker Faire Toronto

Back in October of 2011, Brad Blucher and I were invited to give a lightning talk at Site 3 at some point in the future. After numerous delays, the talk was scheduled to occur during Toronto’s first ever Maker Faire.

On my way to the stage, I handed my camera to a friend and asked him to film our talk so I could post it to YouTube. Here is that talk:

Continue reading Our Lightning Talk from Maker Faire Toronto

Words of Encouragement

Tonight, I had the opportunity to chat with an old friend I haven’t seen in years.

During our brief time together, they offered me some very kind and much needed words of encouragement.

“You’re still doing it, you’re still making art full time. You’re making it happen. I’m so proud of you. I’m so envious of what you’re doing.”

Here is someone who from my perspective has their life in order. This person has a career they enjoy, a permanent home in a nice part of the city, a spouse, and a child.

And this person is envious of what I have: A tiny basement apartment with no windows, a rapidly depleting bank account (well, I’m still doing about 55.3 trillion dollars better than the American economy, so I guess I don’t have it that bad) a pile of new paintings that is accumulating more slowly than I would like, and a broken cellphone.

Wow. All these little things kinda made me lose sight of one big thing: unlike 90% of my former classmates, I’m still doing it. I’m still making art. That dream I had back when I was five is now a reality. I had forgotten about that.

A few nice words can really make someone’s day. Thank you.

OK, back to the studio…

A Tired Kyle is a Useless Kyle

I am not a morning person. It takes me a while to get myself warmed up and ready to go. My usual routine is to wake up, turn on lappy, make coffee, open some web pages (twitter and reddit have really reduced the number of sites I go through on my web surfing routine, all my boingboing, slashdot and techdirt headlines are aggregated and combined on one page)

It’s only after an hour or two that I’m ready to actually do anything. And being a full time artist, once I’ve reached this point, I can usually ignore the clock and just keep on working until my hand-eye coordination degrades to the point where I know I need more sleep.

I had a break from this routine over the weekend, and this break provided me with a good reminder of just how useless I can be in those first few moments after waking up.
Continue reading A Tired Kyle is a Useless Kyle