Author Archives: RA Stone

Exploring Op Art

Op Art is a style developed in the 1960s that utilizes precise geometric figures and placement to create optical illusions.  The thing I find most fascinating about it is how changes in the color, saturation, or background of a piece can create a whole different vibe.

These are some recent Op Art experiments, created as tests for some posters I wanted in my Zazzle Store.

It’s actually the same base image (which took about an hour to create) so all of the differences you see are the result of changes in blending, color, and saturation.  I had SO MUCH FUN with these because the possible variations are endless.  It’s almost like the butterfly effect in art form.

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Selling Art Online: Then and Now

My first ventures into online entrepreneurship were stationery and greeting cards. This was the early 2000’s, and the Internet was dotted with tiny webpages hosted by ISPs as an added “perk” for using their services. Free webhosts like Geocities and Webs.com were super popular for artsy types who were looking to connect with one another and share their ideas, design experiments, and free products.

When I first started learning to use photo editing software, there were a million places you could go online for free, detailed courses and tutorials. I wouldn’t be where I am today if not for the free information culture of the early Internet.

I learned how to create my own stationery and templates, how to build a website, how to manage payments and track online orders, and a lot more, all for free without ever having to enter my email address or give out any personal details. I went by the moniker “Lionchilde” for over a decade, and no one needed to know my name.

The difficult part back then was always making sure that your design work was print-ready, and then the upfront expenses of printing and shipping. Your ability to make money was heavily curtailed by how much money you had to spend upfront.

About half of internet users were still on dialup, so “best practices” for designing an image-heavy website involved creating lots and lots of tiny thumbnail galleries that linked to “preview” pages which had images not much bigger. Thumbnails had to be manually generated, either in your image program or with a special utility. (We’d probably call it an “app” today, though I don’t know if anyone would still need a thumbnail generator app. Image hosts generate thumbnails for us, as do WordPress and Blogger.)

WordPress’s thumbnail size.


I got out of selling pre-made art online for a while. Startup costs were high and returns weren’t reliable. I’ve still got a package of cardstock sitting in my house from ’06. This year, I decided to return to to selling premades–from cards to book covers and anything else I feel like. I’ve been exploring the “scene” for papercrafts and checking out various online marketplaces. I’ll report back with observations of a geeky nature as I have them. For now, here are my findings:

These days, there are print on demand stores for just about everything. You can offer digital downloads on Etsy, CreativeMarket, Evanto Marketplace and several others. Of course, that convenience means a considerable chunk of your profit.

You can probably find a lot of information about creating paper products or managing online sales by reading blogs, but if you want a detailed course in photo editing or business finance, you’ll have to pay for it with either your email address or your cash. (And if you “pay” with your email address, you’ll almost certainly be spammed with “added value” that leads to an upsell.)

You can still find plenty of Photoshop tutorials on YouTube, but there don’t seem to be as many for “alternative” software like GIMP or Paint Shop Pro.

The internet seems to be moving steadily, from a culture where information and free content are there to foster community and connection, to one in which information is currency and free content is a bribe for access to your email inbox or social media feeds. On the flip side, access is easier and more streamlined. Print on demand services make it simple and straightforward for designers and artists to earn cash without a great deal of overhead.

There’s been an explosion in processor speeds, hard drive capacity, internet speeds and modes of connectivity since I started selling my art online in the 00s. Internet use has grown exponentially as well. Overall, these advances are positive and have helped me find a way to make money without sucking all the pleasure out of creating things. I’ll keep an archive of free stuff online as long as I can, too.


If you like this card, hop on over to my Zazzle store where you can customize and print it for yourself, or my Creative Market shop where I have a zip file of pre-made ones.

Could Charlie Brown Grow Up To Be Captain Picard?

 

Last week’s post about Charlie Brown as Superboy got me thinking about other fun AU possibilities.  Charlie Brown as Captain Jean Luc Picard, for example.  That one seems like more of a stretch to me.  Despite the obvious physical similarities, Charlie Brown is just no Picard.  Perhaps he’s the kind of man that Charlie hopes to be one day.  Or maybe Peanuts Picard is a bit more like the “steady, reliable… punctual” Lieutenant Picard in the alternate timeline episode “Tapestry.”

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Is Charlie Brown Really Superboy in Disguise?

 

I had this awesome crossover dream in which Charlie Brown was Superboy.  It was a secret at the beginning but then Sally and Linus found out.  They became his support team or sidekicks, I guess.  Snoopy was Superdog.

 

There was a cartoon tiger for a bad guy.  He was some sort of mad scientist who lived in a haunted house.  Superboy kept having to stop him from enacting these evil schemes that destroyed the town and threatened the Peanuts gang.

 

It made a surprising amount of sense for dream with so many disparate elements.  I woke up thinking it would make a fantastic Peanuts special, but sadly I know it would never get made.

 

It got me thinking about Charlie Brown, Superheroes, and secret identities.  I make no bones about the fact that I think most secret identities are rooted in fallacy.  The hero acts as if he’s “protecting” loved ones by not telling them the truth, but it’s almost always the same loved ones who end up in danger.

 

Charlie Brown is written to be a perpetual screw-up.  He’s awkward, bumbling, sweet, and usually the butt of a joke in the Peanuts comics.  Cartoon specials show him the same way, but since the specials are also written to be complete stories, Charlie Brown usually succeeds in some way by the end.

 

To use one of the most widely recognized examples, his attempt to host a Thanksgiving Feast for his friends in It’s Thanksgiving, Charlie Brown upsets Peppermint Patty (who invited herself in the first place) and Charlie Brown loses track of time.  He forgets that he’s due at his grandmother’s house for the family’s Thanksgiving meal.  But then, his grandmother invites all of the Peanuts to her condo for the holiday.

 

All of that is well and good, but what if Charlie Brown’s bumbling, good natured awkwardness was really a cover for Superboy?
What if he missed Lucy’s football time and again because, if he kicked it too hard, it might reveal his secret?

 

Could it be that Charlie Brown is more than he appears?

 

What if Charlie and Sally Brown were both from Krypton, both adopted by Ma and Pa Kent.  Then we’d have an AU version of Superboy and Supergirl, and Snoopy still acting as Krypto, the Superdog.

 

What kind of world would that be? What kind of comic strip would that make?

 

And perhaps most importantly–is SuperSnoopy’s Red Baron shooting Kryptonite bullets?

 

snoopy-redbaron

The Rise of Voltron: Reactions and Recap Part III

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This is the third in a three-part recap/reaction to Voltron: Legendary Defender Episode One — the Rise of Voltron. I broke off last time about 44 minutes in when the Sendak’s warship was orbiting Arus.

 

So far, I’ve been doing a rough scene by scene breakdown of the episode, but I don’t have much to say about third half of the episode.

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