mildred pierce zine


Dispatch from a THATCamp
November 22, 2010, 5:05 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , ,

Over the weekend I went to a really terrific ‘unconference’ called THATCamp. It’s national with local outposts; THATCamp Chicago was held at Northwestern University.

What’s an unconference? Find out more at THATCamp’s website linked above. What was unusual and radical about this event, based on my previous experiences of academic conferences, was that the sessions were driven by participant interest, and we generated and voted on each one while at the conference. The sessions were all collaborative and designed for infosharing as opposed to top-down knowledge distribution. There were also bootcamps provided on Omeka, WordPress hacking, Git, and 3D modeling.

I’ll admit to having felt kinda out of my league, a writer/lit scholar still clinging to the page amidst all these digital humanists, but I managed myself fine and kept up for the most part except during some nerding out on CSS. I learned a lot, and enthusiastically recommend THATCamp to anyone who wants to learn about and discuss digital approaches to research, scholarship, data presentation, pedagogy; etc; or acquire more technological wizardry.

My purpose in this post is to document a list some of the tools and resources I learned about, for the sake of infosharing and for the sake of – I hope you’ll tell me what else I and others should know about in a comment to this post.

Free or mostly free online tools:

  • Pixlr – free open source online photo editor – comes highly recommended as a free alternative to photoshop.
  • JayCut – free open source online video editor – recommended as free alternative to finalcut
  • Inkscape – free open source vector graphics editor – alternative to illustrator, although no one could really vouch for how easy it is to use
  • Prezi – online presentation tool that’s increasingly used as an alternative to PowerPoint
  • Google SketchUp – free basic 3D modeling tool
  • Protovis – free open source data visualization tool
  • Animoto – can make video from images (free up to 30 seconds)
  • ArtRage – (30-day free trial) digital artmaking that is very convincingly (i.e., it looks like real paint/other media) rendered
  • Zotero – Firefox add-on; AWESOME research and citation management tool
  • VisualCV – free hosting site for online resumes/CVs/portfolios

Free photos/clip art/fonts:

  • morgueFile – free license; no attribution required
  • stock.xchng – not sure about licensing
  • OpenClipArt.org – all public domain/creative commons
  • dafont – possibly the best collection of mostly free (& some licensed) fonts online; and you can input/preview your text before downloading.

Also

  • Lynda – this is a fantastic database, its pockets deep with software/programming tutorials; I have taught myself Flash and Illustrator using Lynda, and can’t recommend it enough. Many institutions have subscriptions (UIC students/faculty can access Lynda free through the library website), but it’s not unaffordable for individuals (for $25, you get access to 900 online courses for a full month).

(The THATCamp Chi blog has notes on some of the other sessions, with additional tools/notes on gaming and geo tools, among other things.)

So what else should I and others know about? What tricks and tools you got up them sleeves? We’re laying out Mildred Pierce 4 this very second…which is why all this stuff is timely and right.

Advertisements


Issue Four contribs

We welcome aboard the following writers, artists, and interviewees to the slow cruise ship that is MP#4:

James Tadd Adcox, Marc Baez, Max Eisenberg, Carrie Fucile, Bonnie Kaserman, Joyce Kuechler, Vicky Lim, Leeyanne Moore, Ed Choy Moorman, Dan Moseley, Ellen Nielsen, Jimmy Joe Roche, Sean Samoheyl, James Solitaire, Jennifer Tidwell.

Glad to have you! The rollout may be slow but it is sure.



Starving Artist Interview #5: Davis Schneiderman
January 25, 2010, 1:47 pm
Filed under: art, interview | Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Davis Schneiderman swoops in from above to scavenge more dead, dying, & live! writhing with desire! language while eagerly mocking us all. Davis was interviewed in MP#3 about collaborative fiction and his novel Abecedarium. Since then, here’s the news:

My novel, Drain, will be published in June 2010 by Northwestern University Press, with a fantastic afterword by Megan Milks. It’s about a near-future where Lake Michigan empties of water, and all sorts of crazy starving-artists stuff goes down. Why not pre-order a copy for your loved ones here? And I am trying to blog more often here.

1) If/when (now or in the past) you have used the term “starving artist”** in relation to yourself, how literal are we talking in terms of actual starving? What would you count as part of the territory that comes with being a “starving artist” and what would you disallow?

Davis Schneiderman

I use this term when reading Kafka’s “The Hunger Artist” which is sometimes translated as “The Fasting Artist” or “The Starving Artist” and fills itself with ennui and anonymity at the decline of public interest in the starving-artist spectacle. I read the story, conversely, after a feeding frenzy that consumes everything possible at the local all-you-can-eat/eat-all-you-can buffet establishments: Chinese and American. How much lo mein can i eat in one sitting? Can i make a steam-table parcel of reddish-pink Alaskan snow crab legs disappear by the time you finish a series of slow belches? Just you watch me, Kafka, just you watch.

2) What would you say is your general level of starving as a starving artist? By that, I mean, when you look around you, or think about starving artists in history, how would you place yourself in a kind of spectrum?

Less than Ghandi. More than Ben Kingsley.
Continue reading


Starving Artist Interview #4: Leeyanne Moore
January 15, 2010, 11:05 pm
Filed under: art, interview | Tags: , , , , , , ,

Our series of Starving Artist Interviews (defiantly sans scare quotes!) continues with fiction writer, playwright, and longtime MP contributor Leeyanne Moore on the hard times and the life skillz she got out of em:

The marvelous Leeyanne Moore reads as part of MP's Issue 3 release party at the Bridge.

The starving-est time had to be when I took the big leap. After years of earning only minimum wage, I was working at an after-school program. I got no respect, not enough hours, and hated the alky boss with a passion that left me stinking with rage. I literally suffered from Rage-Sweat, each night peeling off my clothes to take a bath (our little attic appartment only had a bath stuck under the eaves) and my husband and I would notice how badly I stank from the stress.

So I quit and decided to start teaching creative writing workshops to children and teens. I kinda snuck in under the radar at this arts organization where I’d started taking writing workshops myself, and sent out fliers in the summer. The first day of the first week, no one came. I sat there alone at a table with paper and colored pens and felt pretty bad. But when I got home there were two messages on the answering machine and the second day of class I had three students. The fourth student showed up by walking into the room through the emergency exit. She had Asperger’s but was an awesome writer and I was on my way to never being employed by anyone else again.

I think that being a full time writer takes that same kind of business creativity that it takes to start a business. As someone once said: a lot of people are talented writers. The most successful writers are talented at managing their talent. For me, teaching those workshops became a set of life lessons in being entrepreneurial that have stayed with me. The most successful times I’ve had as a writer have had the same feel as that breathtaking plunge where I left behind the regular paycheck once and for all.



Starving Artist Interview #3: Sandra Newman
January 4, 2010, 2:42 am
Filed under: art, interview | Tags: , , , , , , ,

Sandra Newman is the author of the novels Cake and The Only Good Thing Anyone Has Ever Done; as well as the book How Not to Write a Novel (co-written with Howard Mittelmark); and has published short fictions in numerous venues, notably in Conjunctions (<–read “The Potato Messiah”). She was interviewed in MP#3 about Cake, bank robbery, and gender and experimental writing.

Here’s what she had to say about the writing life and $$ woes. (Interview conducted by Leeyanne Moore.)

illustration by john bylander

When you use the term “starving artist” in relation to yourself, how literal are we talking in terms of actual starving? What would you count as part of the territory that comes with being a “starving artist” and what would you disallow?

I haven’t ever been starving in the food sense; in my experience, in the Western world, the only way one could arrive at “starving” would be via ”utterly friendless.” And while my adventures in nearly starving have put a strain on my relationships sometimes (I don’t often borrow money, but I do stay on people’s couches for prolonged periods of time in my recurring dry spells), this has never gone into friendless territory. People with non-art jobs have all the food in the world, in my experience. In fact, you can pretty much make a three-course meal in the kitchen of a gainfully employed person without them ever knowing that the food is gone.

For me, most of being a starving artist in America is about taking risks that other people aren’t willing to take, sacrificing status, and often — the part no one ever talks about — making selfish decisions about other people’s welfare. Any starving artist with parents is at the very least making those parents miserable. In the vast majority of cases, s/he is also spending those parents’ money, which the parents perhaps had plans for and wished to spend themselves. Finally, any starving artist with children is going to feel like a criminal at certain points. There is no point pretending that the children would not have a better prospect in life if you worked for a reinsurance company and could afford to send them to private school. The children will be paying for your art career for the rest of their lives, in many cases. Of course, there’s no guarantee that you would have been a great success in your other, purely imaginary, business — no doubt you would just have become a starving, untalented claims adjuster. This point, however, tends not to impress anyone — people will generally relate to the artist as if she could have become a millionaire in any other field at all, at will.

Sandra's second novel

What’s been your most profound moment as a starving artist in terms of suffering? Has this shaped how you view your art or how you view the world & humanity?

For me, the worst part of being a starving artist is (as alluded to above) that one cannot afford to be ethical. This is a common feature of any poverty: Brecht writes a lot about this. In the modern world, this is usually a fairly harmless thing, amounting to a sin of omission generally. You can go a long time without confronting this, but eventually there will come a time when the choice is between doing the right thing and, for instance, getting your book finished. So you end up finishing the book, even though it means living off your partner for a few months, for instance, and you know the partner has no belief that your book will sell, and in fact, your partner thinks you should get a job in insurance, because this artist crap is going nowhere. Soon the partner is gone, sans a fair chunk of money, and the book is left behind as a monument to your warped priorities.

Continue reading



Starving Artist Interview #2: Sommer Browning
December 22, 2009, 12:42 am
Filed under: art, interview | Tags: , , , , , ,

Sommer Browning writes comix and draws poems in Brooklyn. She works in a fort, co-founded Flying Guillotine Press and just downloaded Judas Priest’s Sad Wings of Destiny. MP contributor Leeyanne Moore asked Sommer a number of questions about what the term ’starving artist’ means to her as an artist and poet living in a city that’s as huge on money as it is on art.

Originally published on our MySpace page, this is the second in an ongoing series of Starving Artist Interviews.

1) When you use the term “starving artist” in relation to yourself, how literal are we talking in terms of actual starving?

Sommer Browning, & pelvis

If I was to call myself a “starving artist,” I would feel very uncomfortable. I never have been cool with the word “artist,” it gives me the fantods. And I have never starved or even come close to it. I don’t know how poor you need to be to be an artist. I think I know some rich artists. I want to live in a motel one day.

2) What would you say is your general level of starving as a starving artist? By that, I mean, when you look around you, or think about starving artists in history, how would you place yourself in a kind of spectrum?

I am so privileged it would be ridiculous if it weren’t so true. Sometimes I feel like the pate goose right before it’s slaughtered. I have a funnel attached to a pneumatic pump shoved down my esophagus and it’s feeding me heavy starches and poly-saturated vanity and flimsy images of human Being. So maybe I am an Overstuffed Artist, a great big gluttonous artist sack, about to burst open and spew Everybody Loves Raymond all over the place.

3) What’s been your most profound moment as a starving artist in terms of suffering? Has this shaped how you view your art or how you view the world & humanity?

I am due for another profound moment on Thursday, I have to schedule them in now that I live in New York. I used to have them quite often when I took a lot of LSD. They were great. Anyhow, my new thing is discipline. I’m going to explore it. I’ve fought against it my whole life, it just didn’t fit into my hedonism. But I think I was wrong about hedonism. Wrong about how I defined it. And I don’t think I like hedonism anyway, so eff it. I’ve been thinking about discipline and patience these days. Through control I might find happiness. That would be nice.

Continue reading



Starving Artist Interview #1: Sean Samoheyl
November 17, 2009, 1:37 am
Filed under: art, interview | Tags: , , , , , , ,

Sean Samoheyl is an AWESOME puppeteer and multimedia artist who lives and works in Twin Oaks, a worker-owned farm community in Louisa County, Virginia. Our friend Leeyanne Moore asked him a number of questions about what the term ‘starving artist’ means to him, as a below-poverty-level (and somewhat outsider) artist. This is the first in a series of Starving Artists Interviews to be posted in the coming weeks.

*

Sean Samoheyl, makin' art

1) When you use the term “starving artist” in relation to yourself, how literal are we talking in terms of actual starving? What would you count as part of the territory that comes with being a “starving artist” and what would you disallow?

I’ve gone hungry for art although usually forgetting to eat out of stress or whatever. But I’ve opted for sure for some crap burrito with nothing on it to save or just getting, say, soup and then bringing my own bread. Recently for a long train ride to an opening in Cleveland, I brought 4 sandwiches and homemade granola and 3 apples. The sandwiches got sort of old and were cheese and pb n j. All homemade bread and jam with our own fruit. But I was determined not to spend any money when I know it’s a gouge.

I can be frugal but then have very little sense when it comes to things like antiques and junk I don’t need. I’ve been poorer when I wasn’t making any art at all, I was just broke. I do try to disallow too many sweets. In Europe I tried to get by on sweets and once in Chicago, I tried to live on sugary cereal for like a week, and I would get sick every time. So it’s better to just fast and drink water, I think, than to try to eat sugar or a ton of cheese curls or, worse, trail mix or clif bars.

2) What would you say is your general level of starving as a starving artist? By that, I mean, when you look around you, or think about starving artists in history, how would you place yourself in a kind of spectrum?

I would call myself frugal or living voluntarily below the poverty line. And trying desperately to hide it. I hate how some hippies wear their poorness like a badge and just wear some outfit that looks so soiled a horse would avoid it and insist on going barefoot for some reason. But yeah, I’ve made items that a boutique might sell for $$ so I could have that “cool” edge “look” and just mend my own dang jeans and slap a cashmere sweater on top (donation) and eat at home before the opening to cover my embarrassing lumberjack appetite.

I’m way self conscious about being perceived as really poor which sort of comes from my upbringing which in some ways might have meant we were really poor which is funny. We never had ripped clothes. Which is funny to see rich people wearing dirty Diesel brand jeans.

Continue reading