Planning For The Solitude

With everything going on in the world today, I have made a plan to keep our children busy. Go Joe!

Today I headed out and hit up the Home Depot for a pressure washer, some cleaning supplies, tools and paints. A $1000 later and I have enough projects to keep us busy for quite some time.

I also made a point of getting my haircut, an oil change and to pick up some old records. Those last three were in order to support small businesses during this tough time. With everyone rushing to buy toilet paper and pasta sauces, remembering that those small businesses rely on us now more than ever. These small businesses are also taking precautions to ensure healthiness. As well, I did my best to avoid touching stuff and sanitizing frequently.

Starting tomorrow, I don’t plan on leaving my house anytime soon. I am on a week of vacation that I was already planning on just staying home. We have enough food to keep us fed for nearly a month. But that’s how we have always been. We keep our freezer and pantry stocked at all times. Of course this could all change if required.

Like if I run out of beer. But I got a decent stockpile of cheap beer to keep me going.

Seriously though, I plan on not going out any more. Every place I went to today was pretty empty. And no one was rude or panicked. Let’s keep it that way please.

Winter Hats

Who makes the best winter hats? Clearly I’m going to tell you it’s my wife! She has been making fleece hats for almost fifteen years. So she knows a thing or two about what she’s doing. She’s the definition of a “Mompreneur”.

What does the Fox say?

As a family, we’ve had so much fun because of her small business. From sporting these great hats to attending a Multitude of Comic Conventions. Nowadays, my wife and I are far too busy to attend those shows, but she still makes hats from her online store- Ningen Headwear.

So while your stuck at home and despising the weather- surf the Internet and check out Ningen Headwear . My wife would be happy to make custom colored hats to keep you warm this winter!

Brambles Bistro

We are two days into January and my wife and I had our first date of the year. We went for breakfast in Abbotsford at a place called Brambles Bistro at Tanglebank. It was a quiet location with only two other patrons inside.

Besides having great company (my wife!) we enjoyed some local farm fresh meals.

I ordered the Short Rib Skillet: Braised short ribs, au jus, roasted potatoes, smoked cheddar, bacon, caramelized onions, apples and two poached eggs. It looked like it wasn’t going to be a very large meal, but by the end I was definitely satisfied and full.

My wife ordered Huevos Rancheros. It contained smoked yams, charred corn and beans, smoked cheddar and two sunny side up eggs. It was served with avocado, pico, lime, and cilantro. A fantastic mix of sweet and spicy.

We savored our breakfasts then wandered around the shop. I could see how this place would be busier in the summer as the bistro is a part of the nursery and garden. I’m surprised that this was our first visit here since the Bistro has been open since 2012 and the Nursery since the mid-nineties.

As I love supporting small businesses, this is another one that I’d recommend to everyone.

Local Beers

As I have mentioned numerous times before- I love to shop local and support small businesses. If you live in Langley, BC I recommend you follow Tourism Langley on Instagram. They are always out there sharing great moments in our little neck of the Fraser Valley.

Yesterday they shared this picture. Langley grew over the past year adding four more breweries to their name. Previously it was only Dead Frog and Trading Post that graced us with craft beers.

I was excited to hear about the other breweries that opened This Year, that I went out and filled some growlers to share tonight. We have a few friends and coworkers stopping by for the Winter Solstice. And what goes great with food and friends? Sharing beers. I picked up samples from Dead Frog, Trading Post, 5 Roads, and Farm Country. I’m excited to try them and share with everyone.

Hopefully the beers I grabbed taste as good as their names sounded. We shall find out tonight.

Raving Gamer

For my wife’s birthday, I took her out for lunch this afternoon at a place called The Raving Gamer Bistro in Langley, BC.

It’s the perfect style of place for my wife and I. It’s locally owned and operated. The menu serves locally-sourced ingredients from many of the places that I love to visit in Langley and nearby.

I enjoyed the Three’s Company Grilled Cheese: Golden Ears cheddar & gouda on Langley’s A Bread Affair’s Three’s Company bread.

My wife ate the Raving Water Buffalo Burger: a house-made patty of local water buffalo with bread and butter pickles, fresh tomatoes, red onion, gouda from Golden Ears Cheese Crafters, double smoked bacon and a house-made Russian dressing.

Both of us opted for the house-cut fries with “butta-shoyu” & Japanese spice; and a local beer to wash it all down.

During our lunch, we had a chance to enjoy some one on one time while playing board games. The selection of games to play was extensive. After our meal, we browsed through some of the games for sale. These aren’t your typical Monopoly variations or poker games. Many of the games I had never heard of. But when I asked the staff about games- they had knowledgeable answers.

We had a nice quiet lunch- we were the only two customers in there. It sounds like they are much busier in the evening time, especially on the weekends. I highly recommend visiting the Bistro. But be prepared to spend time and money! We were there for about an hour and a half and spent $100. But we also picked up a game that we have been wanting for some time now. So it was worthwhile investment for the future of our fun!

Car Care Small Business

When my wife and I buy a car, we get it serviced at the dealership for the first few check ups. After the warranty kilometers are gone, it’s time to give the smaller automotive shops our business.

Our Honda Element is at 286000 kilometers now and still runs smoothly. I recently took it to a tire shop to get a screw out of the rubber and the guys were efficient and reasonably priced. They also didn’t try and upsell me on other stuff that I didn’t need. Kudos to them. I’ll be back when I need new tires!

Today I dropped off the element at a fellow’s shop that he runs from his home’s garage. He’s our neighbor’s son who is Honda Certified and has worked on our vehicle in the past for us. He’s putting in new shocks and the like in order to smooth out the ride. He’s always been able to take our Element in and get it back to us in a timely manner. I appreciate the work he does as well since working on cars is his passion.

Supporting a small business or local shop is important to me. Without these people, who generally take pride in their work, the car dealerships would gouge us every time we dropped off our car for service. Owning a car is expensive no matter what you do. But the freedom that comes with a vehicle is invaluable at times. Especially for my family where we have nonexistent public transit nearby our home.

Here’s to you small automotive businesses! Thank you for being a great alternative to the dealerships.

Berry Good

Living in the countryside means fresh fruits and vegetables are readily available. There’s a place I stop at throughout the summer that has cheap hothouse peppers in red, orange and yellow that are extremely tasty. I love to sauté them on the bbq with a bit of garlic or red onions.

We are also close by to not just one, but two berry farms. I love eating Fresh Berries in the summer. It means that I’ll be making more waffles, smoothies, putting berries in my sparkling wine, toppings for yogurt and ice cream or just eating them straight out of the bowl. Juicy, healthy treats.

Today I stopped by both berry farms. Mainly I wanted to see the difference in quality and price. Krause is all flash with a winery and food available. While Driediger is mainly just berries. Both have U-Pick available which is nice for a morning out with the family. Honestly, even though most people love Krause for its high end look, Driediger has better quality berries that are sweeter and lower in price as well. I do enjoy Krause for a bike ride to sample wine with fruit.

Whichever you choose to hit up, just remember that you’re supporting a local business. Which always adds sweet karma to your meals.

Roots and Wings

There’s a Distillery located just south of Fort Langley called Roots and Wings. We drive past it everyday taking the kids to and from school. I finally decided to stop in and sample some of what they had to offer.

Looking at the building from outside doesn’t seem like much. It’s still fairly new only being established in 2015. Supporting local businesses is always something I encourage. Since they grow their own potatoes and corn for their vodka, gin, and whiskey (or rather, rye because it hasn’t been aged long enough yet)- it didn’t surprise me that there was only a small tasting room.

Inside holds about a dozen patrons. I was alone when I sampled each of their liquors. Natural flavors and a taste unique to each bottle kept me wanting more. There wasn’t a throat burn or the cheap taste of “nail polish remover” you find in bottles of similar price point elsewhere.

As I sat there, the hostess gave me a history of the distillery and the name. “Roots” being their starting in Langley, and “Wings” for how they want to expand and grow. I also learned that in the following month or so they will be offering cocktails in their tasting room along with charcuterie. Sounds like I’ll be back for more when that happens.

I took a few small samples home. A coffee infused one, a cinnamon one and a horseradish one- that last one turned out to be perfect for a Ceasar FYI.

I recommend checking out Roots and Wings on a Saturday to try some of their offerings. Or be on the lookout for them at the local Farmers Markets coming up this year.

Saying Goodbye

Sunday was the last day of our Convention. I had to say goodbye to all of my friends. It was the last day of Calgary Expo, but also a bitter end to many years of shows. We won’t be returning.

I’m severely saddened by this. But many factors have come into play over the past little while. Last year I toted about My Fandom Family and how great everyone is. I love these people. Even back in 2016 we were hoping to Expand our small business- it just won’t be happening.

Since 2016, sales at Conventions have dropped. To be honest- the sales more like nosedived. What used to be lucrative and profitable, suddenly became, “Are we going to just recoup costs?” We gave it a couple of years, but sadly no increase.

Besides our declining sales, a few other factors have also come into the decision to not return. First, my wife has started a new job. She will be working for a company full time and can’t create stock or take off time for out of town shows. So her Business will be scaled back to just online sales- no more travel to conventions. We can now use vacation time to vacation!

Secondly, our children are getting older. We do not want to take them out of school as their workload is heavier than it was when they were younger. Our oldest has entered adulthood by getting (and loving) her first job, so time off for her means she makes less money. She is now saving up for her next big purchase.

Lastly, after doing Conventions for nearly a decade, we’re a bit burnt out. So many stresses lead up to a show as well as when we are there. We also haven’t done a decent cosplay in a couple of years. There was just too much going on in life. I am hoping to take on a new hobby and just make replica movie props for myself.

Yes, I’m saddened by the fact that I put down in words the finale of our traveling business. And just like that, our convention circuit is pretty much all done. We went out with hardly a whimper. No big fanfare saying it’s over. It’s just over.

Just some hugs and handshakes to say farewell to our friends- with many a promise to stay in contact. All of the conventions were a blast, but now it is time to move on. Let the next stage of life begin.

She Works Hard For the Money

My wife has been running her own business for what seems like forever. Check out her website (that I helped design) at Ningen Headwear. She loves what she does. All of her hard work has paid for our vacations and the kids’ activities. I love her products and enjoy talking about them to everyone I know.

However there is a small change a brewin’.

My wife had a job interview on Friday. It was a Skype interview that lasted about 45 minutes. She did well enough that it was followed immediately by a secondary interview that involved problem solving skills. I hope that she nailed it.

My wife was a bit anxious and is having some mixed emotions about this. She never really used Skype before (neither had I) so it was a fun challenge to get it set up and see what it can do. She also expressed feelings of doubt in both her abilities to do this new job and in herself for having “failed” at her own business.

I reminded her that she didn’t fail at running a business. She successfully made something from scratch. I don’t see it as failing for trying something new by working for someone else. It’s time for her to change it up a bit. She will continue to work on her own business if she gets this job. She is passionate about what she does.

Fingers crossed she gets this job. It seems like a perfect fit for her. Now we wait… waiting is tough. But in the meantime she will continue to work from home making awesome hats and cosplay ears.

Hometown Convention Weekend

This weekend is Fan Expo Vancouver. We attend this one every year. It’s close to home and we get to see lots of friends. It almost doesn’t feel like a “Work Convention” because of this. But it is…


With every convention we attend, there is pre-con jitters. Even our hometown con is no different. My wife gets herself so worked up before a show, she becomes sick. Then the first day of the show- she is full of energy and excited. She knows that the shows here and it’s game on. Sell hats and have fun!


My role beforehand is to help pack up and get lunches prepared. My other routine before a show is to calm my nerves with a couple of cold ones the night before. I’ll wake up in the morning and help get the kids ready for the show. My wife will go through her inventory and supplies one (or two) last time(s).


We also get our cosplay and outfits ready before a show. My son has a “pin hat” that he wears with a collection of buttons he has received over the years. It’s his pride and joy. The other routine we have is to get our Nintendo 3DS’s charged and ready to go. During the shows we have fun doing “Street Passes” throughout the weekend. 


When we get to a show, we create a plan for what we want to see while attending. Panels, celebs, games, or meet ups. There’s always something for everyone. Even a game card of “Artist Alley Bingo” comes out. At the end of it all, we have a great time.


Come by and see us! We will be waiting with craziness and fun. You know, for kids.

My Fellow Convention Carnies aka Fandom Family

When you do the Comic Con circuit you make lots of friends. When you’ve done it for seven or eight years- they become extended family.

This is our sixth year at the Calgary Comic and Entertainment Expo. I laugh and enjoy the time we spend here. We look forward to seeing everyone again in person. Of course we follow one another on the various social media platforms, but there’s something to be said about the face to face interactions.

Where’s Waldo- spot the artist edition.

First is Terry.  We met him as our booth neighbor on our third time to Emerald City in Seattle three years ago. We met up again at Stan Lee’s Comikaze later that year. We told him about journeying into Calgary, so he came out last year and loved it. He’s back for more this year.

Brass and goggles!

Attic Raiders/In the Attic are the first people who introduced us to trying to get out into Comic Cons.  Bless them for pushing my wife to branch out. We have had many adventures with them. If you need Steampunk- they are the people to go to.

Cute Glass.

Bling Squared is run by a couple named Stanley and Neacol from Salt Spring Island, BC. They make the most adorable glass figures. My wife met them through Etsy teams and we share many a Con tale with them.

East Van represent!

Awesome Sauce is another artist from Vancouver.  We met them at Vancouver Fan Expo when they sat across from us about three years ago. Now they are right next to us in Calgary for the second year. They make fun stained glass and also have classes available in Vancouver on how to make them.

Mike and Lisa are two very different artists and have tables next to each other. They are married and have been doing these shows for years.  The friendliest people ever. Always worth a stop to pick up fandom art, magnets and generally cute stuff.

Two Gargoyles sit directly behind us in Calgary. These are the two funniest guys around. We sing songs, talk about old 80’s movies and generally cause a raucous.  Oh, and they sell art and comics too!  Mike is also a very amusing West Jet flight attendant with a few YouTube videos worthy of enjoying. I guess you could say viral.

Crafty Geeks are a couple of tables up from us. They sew some pretty awesome quilts and quilted pillows. They even sell the patterns for those of you willing to make your own.  Numerous fandoms are represented in their designs.

These are a small collection of our Comicon family members. We share laughs, stories, network, and talk business. It’s always great to be surrounded by like minded people.

Emerald City: Friday


Our first full day at Emerald City Comicon began as it always does.  Since we are in Seattle, a trip to the Starbucks is in order.  This is so I can try one of their specialty Comicon inspired drinks.  This year’s was a choice between “The Groot” and “Hulk Smash”.  I opted for Hulk today.

The next thing we do is re-arrange our set up.  I have no idea why this happens- but it happens every time.  It’s like we show up, place the merchandise out, and then on the Friday- change it up.  And we end up selling lots of stuff!

Then we head off to greet old friends. As you start to become more familiar with them, you know how to act around them.  

There is one fellow who shakes hands by clasping your hand between his.  He also insists on hugging us. He is super friendly and exudes a pleasant energy that makes the rest of the day joyous.  A great way to get your convention juices flowing.  As we do our rounds, we start to network with more vendors.  Most everyone is friendly and willing to share advice about the con or future events. 


Then the sales begin.  The day rushes past in a flurry of smiles and chitchat until suddenly there’s only an hour remaining.  During that hour is a lot of talking with the nearby vendors about how the day went.  Many have big smiles knowing it was a success.  All of us knowing there is still two days left to go.

Now it’s time for a quiet evening in the hotel.  The next day is the big one.  Saturday.  The day that most people attend.  The day that sometimes increases the attendance by 50%.  The busy day.  The rough one.

Expansion

The spring convention season ended and we had one summer show this year. This fall, there are only two shows we are confirmed for. The last convention we did this spring was Calgary Expo and it’s also our favorite convention (also happens to be the first big convention we ever did; prior to this one we did smaller venues) and we don’t want to drop it from our shows. One of the hardest parts about doing the same convention repeatedly is the worry that the market will get bored with our products. The other issue is the economy and there’s not much we can do about that.  But Alberta has always given us a warm welcome and the people we have met over the years are fantastic.


Running a home business is tough at the best of times.  You can have really good sales for a couple of months, then nothing for half a year.  My wife has a fairly successful Etsy Shop and her website is getting more traffic flow lately as well.  Her online sales are the majority of her business which helps keep initial costs down.  We do however enjoy traveling to different conventions to showcase her products to more people.  Costs of doing a con is much higher, but for 3 or 4 days the sales pay for everything surrounding the convention.  From table/booth costs to hotel and travel costs.  Doing an extended weekend push is worthwhile.  Conventions drive sales to my wife’s website as well.  

Doing the regular circuit is great.  As I have mentioned in previous posts, we get a lot of returning customers and people who specifically search us down.  That’s a wonderful feeling.  It also makes us want to add more shows each year.  We have only been doing the West Coast of North America for the past few years.  After talking with other vendors and artists, we think it is time to expand further east and south.

A photo of our daughter courtesy Edmonton Expo.

 

But in the meantime, look for my wife and daughter at Edmonton Expo this weekend.  She will be there selling her hats and hair clips.  This Convention is run by the same people who do our favorite one in the spring, and it is guaranteed to have some amazing guests and vendors.

Don’t worry East Coast!  We are coming your way soon enough!

Barber Shop

I get my hair cut about every three to four months.  I’m pretty lazy about it.  Every time I need a haircut, I go to the same barber.  He has turned into a friend.


I’ve been going to his shop for over a decade now.  The shop is in the middle of downtown Langley City (Langley isn’t very big, so he’s easy to find) and he has been there for 18 years.  He’s a one man operation specializing in men’s haircuts.  I think he does a great job and I recommended his services to everyone I know.  Sure, you could go to Supercuts or Magicuts for an $8 haircut, but why?  You could spend thirty minutes in a chair and talk about the weather or the newest celebrity gossip.  I have chosen to support a small business in my local town.  

The man behind the scissors.


This man has taken the time to get to know me and my family.  We have real conversations about life, the local politics, money and travel.  Even though I only see him three to four times a year, he cares enough to know about my life.  I’ve even gotten to know about his life.  How he loves road trips on his Harley.  How & where he plans to retire.   He’s told me about his children, his girlfriend and his other customers.  We share stories and laughs.  Customer service that goes above and beyond, that’s what I’m paying for.  Plus a really good haircut.

If you live in Langley, I recommend The Salt Lane Barber.  Tell him Joe sent you.  (You won’t get a discount, but you will create a genuine connection with him.)


(Pictures courtesy of Yelp)

Adapting to the market

I love hitting Comicons.  The people are fantastic, the artists are talented, and the energy is high.  Every con we attend, I wander around checking out what merchandise is popular and what is falling off.  

Being in sales, especially if it’s your own handmade product that you’re selling, isn’t always easy.  Besides making great products that people want- there are constant changes and adaptions that need to happen in order to make money.  


This is our sixth year in the artist alley at Calgary Comic and Entertainment Expo.  My wife started here with her handmade fleece hats and Perler Bead art that our children helped make.  A year later my wife added Cosplay animal ears and cut back on certain styles of hats.  The third year, she dropped more hats from her display and added headbands.  Last year, she began phasing out Perler Beads. This year, she dropped the Perler Bead art completely and focused more on headbands and hair clips.  She still sells foxes, cats and dragon style hats at this convention.

The reason for dropping products come down to four major factors:

  1. The market (convention floor) is saturated with similar items.  Often if another vendor or artist sees that you are selling numerous quantities of an item, their greed kicks in and they start to steal your ideas in hopes to take a piece of that pie.  When people have stolen my wife’s ideas- often they aren’t making as nice a product, and charging much less in hopes to just make a sale.  It’s even more disappointing when the people who steal the ideas and market cheap knock offs are your “convention friends”.  We’ve begun distancing ourselves from a couple of these people in the social circle of the convention circuit.
  2. The products don’t suit the city.  We found certain colors/styles of hats are more popular than others.  For example, panda hats don’t sell in Calgary and on the flip side, Rainbow Dragons sell out in Seattle, Vancouver and San Jose.  My wife even accounts for the previous year’s sales and adjusts accordingly, but sometimes the hats are still just that popular, that she sells out.
  3. The products just aren’t selling.  This reason is pretty much a no-brainer.  If something isn’t selling, stop dragging it around thinking it will sell one day.  There could be no reason whatsoever for why it’s not selling.
  4. Even products in the artist alley can become “last year’s model”.  My kids made a bunch of Perler Bead keychains based on Minecraft back in 2012 before there was anything toy related for sale.  They sold like crazy!  But the next year, the “Chinese import” vendors flooded the market with everything Minecraft.  This year, good luck giving away anything Minecraft related to a kid.


The challenge of making money and still enjoying what you do is tough.  The economy took a slump a couple of years ago, and is slowly climbing back out.  This is both in Canada and the USA & it shows at the conventions.  I’ve been speaking with my fellow convention carnies regularly about sales.  I don’t sugarcoat how we are doing- good or bad, I tell the truth.  (When it comes to trying to be successful, knowing where your strengths and weaknesses are is extremely beneficial.)  I’ll talk about other cons and describe the hardships as well as windfalls we experienced.  Sharing and discussing the business with like-minded artists/vendors can help both parties become successful by branching out.  It also helps to learn what to expect at a new convention that you’ve never attended before.

The convention circuit is in its own way an ecosystem.  We all talk.  We all share.  We all enjoy it.  We all want to succeed.

Supporting Small Biz


I’m a strong believer in supporting small businesses.  I find there is more attention to detail when someone has more at stake than just making a few dollars.  Many of my friends are super talented, so I’d like to share with everyone some links to their products/services:

I’d like to start with Elemental Illusions.  Here is a talented lady who makes amazing leather masks/dragons in her spare time.  She attends conventions in Alberta regularly.  Her daily grind is being a teacher in Alberta and raising her twin boys on her own.

Next is a husband & wife team from Salt Spring Island who have made it their full time job to create amazing glass art pieces.  They travel across the continent to conventions & craft fairs and have earned themselves a devoted following.  Check out Bling Squared to learn more about their process and perhaps pick up some “Cute Glass”.

Changing it up a bit and bringing it closer to my home: Here is a young lady who has made it her passion to bring amazing vegan food to the people of BC.  Follow her on Facebook to find out where she will be next so that you can sample some of her goodies.  You won’t be disappointed with Gypsy Food Trunk!

Take a break in the evenings and sing your heart out with 1 Epicnight Karaoke.  They set up at numerous locations throughout the week in Surrey and Langley.  Singing relieves stress!  Plus it’s an opportunity for you to showcase your skills.

Looking for an online giggle based on the struggles of parenthood?  Check out How Baby twice a week.  I was once Lindsay’s boss at Chuck E. Cheese’s and I’m glad she has kept up with her art- she is extremely talented.  You can also find this artist attending anime conventions and Comicons.

Speaking of babies, be sure and check out Geekling Designs for geeky clothes to dress you and your baby in.  Made and shipped out by a couple with two daughters at home who understand what it’s like to be nerds with children.

Needing to celebrate something special?  Have Mosaic Party in Kelowna help you out.  Classy and elegant decorations as well a professional attention to details.  If Kelowna is a bit far, at least check out the cookies that she hand makes- Sugar Bee Cookies.

This summer, make sure and take the family out to the Twilight Drive-In.  This is the last Drive-In theater in the Lower Mainland.  It’s privately owned and operated and not part of the big chains.  My family and I love the fact that you can see two-three movies in one sitting.

Loretta Braun: She is a fantastic piano teacher in the Langley/Aldergrove area that has been teaching my children for over eight years now.  She has also become a close friend of ours.

Here are a couple other friends who are just starting out that you may be interested in as well:

Ice ‘N’ Fire: They sell scented candles with a beautiful ring hidden inside.  Not only are you supporting a small business when you buy from them, but they also donate a part of their sales to charity.  Goodness x2!

Knottie Things: She is just starting up, and made a lovely crocheted Toadette for my daughter.  Be sure and follow her on Instagram to see some of her amazing work.

And of course, there is my wife (whom I’ve promoted numerous times before) at Ningen Headwear.  She works from home and hand makes all of her products in her own studio on the side of our house.  If it wasn’t for her business, we’d probably never have traveled or seen as much of the world as we have over the past few years.

I know there are plenty of other people who have a small business that they are working on getting off the ground. I meet plenty of artists and crafters at the conventions who are extremely talented and deserve recognition. So, get out there and support your local small businesses!

Photoshop

Sometimes I wish I were more artistic.  I’m not very musical in any way, so that’s out.  I am only just starting to write again, so until it really takes off, I’m not counting that either.  Personally, I don’t think I can draw very well either, but my kids think I’m good at it.  The thing is I enjoy trying out different art forms as a hobby. I’m sort of okay at it I guess.

art

Art we’ve picked up over the years.

Back in high school I took concert band, electronic music, computer art, photography, photojournalism, electronics, art, and creative writing classes.  I always enjoyed these classes, but also noticed that there are far more talented people out there than myself.  Over the years, I have made friends with many talented artists, all excelling in their chosen passions.  I am always willing to try new things, and love the challenge of learning new skills.  Last year I began using Instagram and like most folks, fell in love with the ease of the website and app.  Photography has changed drastically over the past few decades since I went to school.  I must have a few hundred thousand pictures stored on my computer, and I take a few hundred every month on my smart phone as well.  Getting the perfect shot doesn’t matter much anymore since it can be manipulated with ease.  My days of yore when we would use a dark room have vanished.  Film is obsolete and has been for years.

Random on pillow1

Awww….

 

Manipulating images has been around since my teens.  For computer art class, I believe the program we used back in high school was called “Corel Draw”.  It was a program that showed me the basics of creating computer generated images.  I have used that knowledge as a base for Photoshop.  When we got our first digital camera back in 2002, I used Photoshop regularly to edit out “red-eye” and manipulate my photos to appear much prettier.  I still have the folder on my hard drive called “To Be Photoshopped” that has been transferred onto my fourth computer since 2002.  The photos are crappy because of the 1.5 mega pixel camera we used, but the memories are beautiful.

Banner 2016

Yes, we have a small business to promote.

Earlier this month, I used Photoshop in one of the most basic of its uses- I designed new labels for my wife’s hats.  Nothing fancy, just updated the text in the image, but I enjoyed doing it.  Today, I created a new banner for her to use at conventions.  Again it was a simple use for Photoshop, but I enjoyed making it.  Creating simple, but eye catching artwork/images is the part of my my wife’s business that I am pretty good at.  She also let me re-name her business from “The Little Hat Shop” many years ago and create a website for her that she currently uses today.  If it wasn’t for her business, we’d probably never have traveled to numerous Comic Cons and collected some amazing artwork from many talented artists.

I think I will continue to dabble in Photoshop for years to come.  There is so much more that I can do with it.  I’ve barely scratched the surface.

I’ll end today’s blog post with a collection of some of the artwork I’ve done for her over the years.  Notice that even I’m getting better!