New Project

Forgelock Fire

So, news time. Acrylo was retired last year some time and there’s been this aching hole in my heart to continue something in the same vein but under a different banner. I’ve incorperated with good friend and fellow mechanical designer Alex Forrest to make Forgelock, a builder and creator DIY, how-to and otherwise open source look at making things. From cars to computers, prop making, small scale manufacturing, the little repairs and fixes we love to do all the time and just have never documented properly – this is the place. We already make cool things, and we want you to come share that with us

Now, visually the blog might be similar enough for now but the grand overarching plan is more of a multimedia thing that Acrylo never did: Youtube channels, Twitch live streaming of builds, maybe a Tested style podcast.

So, rest assured that there’s cool stuff coming, or, since this’ll likely be on the front page of Acrylo for the foreseeable future: there’s a party already happening over on Forgelock.com. Go enjoy!

 

Shop Update!

Aphelion phone

kaandam phone

80s Halloween small

SWMP DAY small

Newly added art in the shop! All proceeds go towards you getting some sweet wall art / canvases / iphone cases / throw pillows / clocks / etc. which is a sweet deal for you!

Anthology of Alternate Calgarys

Anthology of Alternate Calgarys Cover

You can now officially buy my first foray into fiction: Anthology of Alternate Calgarys on Amazon!

Pretty exciting.

It’s $2.99 and is a collection of 24 alternate universe looks at the real Calgary. If surrealist architecture was a literary genre, this would be it. Introduce a twist and look at the social interactions it would create within the world, within the city. From the Amazon description:

Calgary in multiverse. A collection of short, short stories and a surreal look at what might be if everything was different: Calgarys with space programs, shambling buildings, city-wide games of Tag with dire consequences. Floating Calgarys, sinking Calgarys, Calgarys that don’t exist at all except for our nostalgic yearning and coming together every year for a ritualistic Stampede. Underground speakeasies hidden away from the police zeppelins overhead. Herds of malicious deer regrettably armed with flamethrowers.

I can’t say this enough: thank you everyone for your continued support of this blog, of my various experiments into different mediums and ultimately allowing me to continue to explore them with you. Your email letters and questions are always welcome. Buying the book itself would be appreciated of course, but the fact that you’ve brought me to a place where I can even make and get it out to you is beyond words. Thank you!

MIA

The above is the first time I’ve ever tried to do that hard surface style. I think it came out well. Then I was busy with car stuff for a while and bought this:

She’s an ’06 Mini Cooper S with basically everything and front rally lights (which I then discovered weren’t legal to turn on in town…)

It coincides with my birthday, so although I wasn’t planning on it for that reason it worked out to be a self-birthday present. It’s been a week and a day since I drove her off the lot and Calgary’s endured basically the entire gamut of weather in that time so I’m excited for spring and dry roads.

Meanwhile, my evenings were spent between a few freelance gigs, so I was MIA on the blogging front.

Then I drew this:

Which would be my… fourth? try at that style. There’s a few in between and after but they aren’t nearly as coherent and one is ridiculous (by request: Ke$ha riding a robot-ized Nyan Cat with a lightsaber).

This weekend will be bloated with posts because I have lots of ideas and for once, the time to get them out.

New Car

That’s a strange photo for a blog post to be written around, but I’ll try my best to describe it’s importance. It’s a still taken from an unreleased video I made the summer before last which is just me longboarding around my hometown and visiting old places of interest and nostalgia. It really wasn’t very good, but I’ve always enjoyed filming the footage more than actually making something out of it.

But it was a common sight that summer, looking over the passenger seat and seeing a faithful piece of bamboo reflect the warm sun around the dark grey interior. This shot in it’s video form shows the shadows of leaves in the trees lining old streets as they stream in, gently waving. The sound is sort of like a waterful or TV static. That white noise of wind. I sat in my car listening to bands I hadn’t heard since high school and staring out the window. It’s an understated activity, really. People see people staring out of windows and describe them as ‘doing nothing’ but it’s hardly a fair observation of what’s actually happening; in that moment I was simply being. I was parked across the street from a perpendicular road (think a large T that I was at the top intersection of) that has a perfect hill for cruising. Just steep enough that you can get some good speed and work into deeper carving, but not so steep that you fear for your ability to stop or bail. It’s a road that is lined with large, old trees and is in the general area of a small indoor pool we used to take swimming lessons at as kids. Beyond it is my elementary school where we were sometimes picked up in the very car I was sitting in then.

Cars as an interior space are an interesting thing because all of my memories come from the same viewpoint: my driver’s seat. With exception to a few from when I was a kid sitting in the back, most of what I know in that car is from the exact same vantage. The result of that is sort of a timelapse, where the time can be sped up to show the surroundings without confusion, because of the fixed angle. Most other spaces – interiors of buildings, for example – would speed up like a movie would, with cuts and scenes that happen all over. They’re all in the same space, but they can’t be compressed or played back in the same way.

And not that my nostalgia would be interesting to anyone but me, but it’s weird to think about all the people who’ve sat in that other seat. Or things, like the longboard or cameras or pizza. The handful of chairs I’ve managed to stuff into the tiny car and bring home. Lumber that’s stretched from the very front of the dash to the very back of the hatch (exactly 8′). My computer tower, seatbelted in and surrounded by blankets and pillows that time I came home for Christmas month school break. Guys and girls, conversations both heavy and giggled. The awkward silence of giving someone you don’t know very well a ride home. The acceleration-challenged rides with four guys crammed in and dancing to some ridiculous song on the radio. The hours spent parked in usual spots just talking and watching the sun set. The time spent alone, or talking to the car herself. Space exists in relation to the people occupying it, and in a lot of ways the car interior is the ultimate space for holding memories, simply because it’s there in so many contexts.

I bought a new car. I’m deeply excited, of course, but there’s a lot of me that’s bitter-sweet about giving up what amounts to one of my longest standing loves. It’s not to say I don’t have good friends but these past years have been filled with new cities, new people and new places – the physical thread that’s always been there has been this one car.

Resolutions

I’ve never made proper resolutions. I’ve never understood why January first is any different than, say, July 14th or March 27th as far as “I’m going to do starting on ” statements. If you have a goal, do it. The dates relative to the year’s beginning or end aren’t really important.

With that said, some observations of the past few years:

My love of photography peaked in 2009, I can’t really deny it. There’s 65.2 GB of photos from that year alone and 5 GB from 2011 and 2012 combined. This past Christmas marks the first time I’ve gone on any sort of roadtrip and left it at home. It’s just fading out of my life and that’s not good or bad or happy or sad, it’s just something that happens. I’ve always wanted to get into video but frankly, it’s a mess. Every time I shoot something there’s some issue with codecs or encoding or RAM or rendering and it’s tiresome. I spent countless hours last year trying to get film that I’d already shot into something usable and in the end never released it because the image quality took such a hit working around the technical limitations. Art – at least in that context – shouldn’t be frustrating. I shouldn’t spend more time fighting with the canvas than painting.

Blender experiments will continue, but I’ve reached my classic impasse where my ambitions outweigh my patience. I simply don’t care enough about a scene to spend the time setting it all up, even if my skills are entirely adequate to do so. There’s a certain excitement when you first start that says “This’ll be so cool when I’m done!” and I’ve lost it. I just don’t care enough about what I make. It’s message-less and bland.

So. This upcoming year. Next week:

I want to finish a comic. I’ve written a handful of scripts and some of them might even have legs enough to go somewhere, but I always make the first page and stop. Again with the patience thing: my ambition quickly outruns my ability to make them and I get frustrated. On every front, in every medium, I’d like to learn past this limitation and start truly shipping work.

On a personal note, I’d like to take up running and biking again. I did both a lot as a kid and just sort of lost them. Last summer I logged a lot of hours on the longboard, which is awesome, but something a bit more cardio might be nice too. Spend more warm, sunset evenings reading in the park. Maybe it’s just the winter blues right now, but I really should have done even more of that than I already did. Similarly; more hiking and camping. More log splitting and fire making.

I’d like to try paragliding in spring.

#1reasonwhy

By the time you read this, it’ll probably be over. The hashtag #1reasonwhy was an outlet for female game devs to talk about their struggles. There’s a decent archive here that covers at least the solid beginning, before people like me devolved the voices.

Now, I am a white male – the demographic of antagonism in this case. But as a kid designer who forcibly broke into the field and ended up with relative success leading to a happy career, I wanted to write this encouragement: we are riding the wave of indie awesomeness. There has been no better time to do it yourself than right now.

A few notes: it seems like a lot of the complaints naturally leaned into sexism and I wanted to clarify that there are two types going on here. The first, sexism in the games themselves. We all know the Lara Croft types that are preposterously sexualized because the target market is nerdy white boys. Then, there’s the sexism in the market itself where the devs (being female) are outcasted by the older white nerdy boys. Neither of them cool, but they bannerhead my two points.

1. The market is literally begging for story based games. We’ve accomplished graphics to a level where, while they can always get better, it’s not really a limiting factor anymore. We’ve moved beyond the pixel-cum-story limitations of Space Invaders and find ourselves in deeply interactive, visually immersive and musically rich gameplay. A perfect canvas for stories. I tweeted a few, but off the top of my head: Portal, Portal 2, Half Life, Limbo, Gravity Bone, Thirty Flights of Loving, Mirror’s Edge, Bastion, Braid, Cave Story, World of Goo, Mark of the Ninja, The Stanley Parable, Every Day the Same Dream, and so forth. Games with stories and little to no sexuality. Then there’s games with mediocre to no story and fantastic gameplay: Jamestown, Greed Corp. Dustforce, Super Meat Boy, N+, Team Fortress 2, Faster Than Light and so on. After that there’s games that don’t feature humans at all: Geometry Wars, most racing games and simulators, etc. Ladies: you can make these games and entirely avoid all mention of sexuality. Tell good stories. We yearn for good stories and while this past year has actually been really good for them, it’s a rare thing from AAA titles. That’s why we’re loving all over the indie titles (how many AAA titles are above?). I mean, Gravity Bone and Thirty Flights were both made entirely by one guy. It could easily have been one lady, which brings me to my next point:

2. Don’t break in. Build up. I don’t want to accuse anyone of whining, but it seems like the hashtag series pointed to ladies wanting to be part of the club and being rejected. I’m not saying that’s fair or right, but I am saying that talents can be taken elsewhere. You don’t need their silly club anyway. You have Kickstarter. You have a better measure of success. You have stories and passion and you’re being handed this worldwide megaphone called the internet. Make your games with strong females leads. Honestly, had Bastion starred a female, it would have made no difference to the game, but it would have been a notable win for you. Same with Limbo. Same with most of the games there. World of Goo doesn’t even have human characters. Mirror’s Edge and Portal already feature non-sexualized female protagonists. GLADoS is a disembodied female voice and one of the best characters probably ever. Be the developer, be the studio. Make what you want to see and forget the boy’s club even exists.

2.5. Work together. No man – or woman, as it were – is an island. Find people with your aspirations and help each other. Not just in a direct way, not just in a “I’m dev, she’s art and she’s music” role division way, but help each other as members of your group. One thing I love Twitter for, and this is an observation of guys, is that we’re constantly back and forth on “is this good?” – asking strangers who follow you – and offering to buy each other drinks. We are an estranged family, held together by the common thread of being designers or being coders or being whatever. Find your community and love each other. Competition can hurt or help you; shape it.

I don’t see any reason why, in the day and age of successful self publishing, you matter. Tall, short, thin, fat, male, female, young, old. So what? You’re a name on the computer screen and a talent. If your talent is good, you will rise. The internet is a meritocracy assuming all news spread equally. My main advice to anyone is get over yourself. You’re not a martyr for a demographic. You are a singular human and you’re allowed to do whatever the heck you want to do.

Do it well.

Life on Mars

A new modernist / minimalist print in the shop.

Related: one of my favorite songs from one of my favorite soundtracks

LTKMN Launched

It’s here! My venture into fiction writing. I’m still trying to figure out a good way of breaking up my longer scripts and stories (would anyone be interested in an ebook format compilation sort of thing?) but I’ll be writing shorts fairly regularly to LTKMN which is running on the Tumblr backend.

So far, it’s mostly about fictional versions of Calgary that all exist simultaneously and independently. It’s slightly biased, but my Calgary-based Twitter followers seem to love it.

But, Acrylo, I haven’t forgotten about you. We’ll resume regular design posting right away here. It probably won’t be one+ posts per day like last year, but the schedule will settle in.

Cool. Cool cool cool.

Welcome Back: a Few Changes

First off, hello everyone! I hope your summer was pleasant. Mine was.

I’ve been busy in the meantime and will eventually get around to logging and posting it all, which is exciting as always. I’ve gotten a good number of submissions from people so those will be going up over the next couple of weeks, and in advance: thank you. Even to those who probably won’t make the mainstream blog I’ve enjoyed seeing your work and as mentioned in my various replies, keep it up.

Now, the hard part. There’s some good / bad news, depending on why you read this column. The format will be shifting slightly. Of course, given my background and interests there will always be design and architecture being pushed, but I’m not limiting myself to that in any official sense anymore. I wasn’t really in practice before anyway, but this shift would just allow those sort of posts through into the official space instead of being guilty little slips into otherwise related content.

Acrylo won’t be an exclusively art and design blog as much as an amateur’s journal of review and critique; selfish insight into just about everything – most of which just happens to be art and design. In parallel to my life’s goal of trying everything I can reasonably and safely do, these writings will grow into more experience based commentary. Since my personality and attitude is inherently very practical and factual, I suspect the format can’t be escaped regardless of whatever I set out to do. Still, I hope to include other interesting things such as reviews and short form journalism as part of the whole repertoire.

In practice, the 1+ post per day average maintained over the past year probably won’t remain. There will be some schedule, as part of a personal discipline (which happens to be more convenient for you readers anyway) but that’s yet to be found out and scaled. This brings me to the next idea:

A new addition, hosted externally on the as of yet unmade LTKMN.com will house my fictional works, which is something that I’d like to branch more into. I’ve written a lot over the years and haven’t published them (they’re largely WIPs unfinished), so it’ll house those as a public archive as well as being a place of perhaps fortnightly or monthly updates.

So, there’s a good hustle I’m yearning to return to and while this will be my least planned out adventure, I suspect that’s exactly why it’ll be better than the first year.

Acrylo, Season 2. Next week.


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