Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Trying to get back into the swing of things

Well, back into the swing of my hobbies at least. I finally came back to World of Warcraft, working on my hunter to get her to level 70 and acquire her level 60 mount. Yes, I am that slow; I'm enjoying the adventure that comes with the endgame, thank you.

I've also come back to photography. I purchased a Canon PowerShot G9 digital camera this past Sunday, and the camera has been really cool. It's an advanced point-and-shoot with features of an entry level DSLR. The best feature about this camera is that it can take pictures in RAW format. I never got to use a digital camera that could save in RAW, so this is a first for me. AND I LURVES IT SO MUCH. I seriously do not want to go back to jpeg. The only reason I would is to take pictures of not-so-serious stuff (ie catching people being stupid). As for pictures I would seriously consider microstock-worthy, it's RAW all the way. Holy Christ, the quality of RAW. The noise in the RAW images look more like film grain captured by a negative scanner. The only exception to this is when using a very high ISO setting, which is something that plagues all DSLRs or so I've read (in a lot of camera reviews).

So by now I've taken some pics with this lovely Canon PowerShot G9 digital camera, and I'm quite happy with some of the shots I've taken. Of course the lot of them come from our front yard, but hey, my mom has a green thumb. Her roses bloomed beautifully yesterday, and I had to get some photos. I actually thought some of these would be nice to share online. Even though they are of the overly done "nature/home garden" category, I wanted upload them anyway.

I will begin adding these pictures to a Shareapic gallery (for obvious reasons), and they will be available for people to download. Even if these photos are considered a high quality by stock photo agents, nature pics are not hard to come by, so I doubt submitting them to a stock photo site will produce any noticeable revenue. So I'm offering web-sized versions of my photos for free at Shareapic.net. The images are sized to a with of 600 pixels (may be small depending on the height). It's should be a good size to work with for many designers wanting to use them for web purposes. If a designer contacts me to request a larger pic, then discussion of payment will take place. That's the name of the game, yo. Here are the "rules":

I, Alexandria Long, have given consent for all people to download and use my photos in either personal or commercial projects. What you may NOT do with these images are:

  1. Resell them as your own. If I find any of my photos on a stock photo site that I'm not a member of, you WILL be hearing from me. If I find them in printed stock photo catalogues or art books, you WILL be hearing from me.
  2. Upload my photos to art and photo gallery/album websites and state that you're the creator. You in fact did not create them, and any credit for them should go to me (Alexandria Long). If I find my photos on sites such as DeviantArt, etc, then you WILL be reported.
  3. Simply altering one or any of my photos DOES NOT make the result your photo. Anyone with a brain can play with Photoshop/Gimp/Paint Shop Pro filters. Using a photo as a design element in a project is fine, but filtering the photo to high hell for the sake of "making it mine" doesn't cut the mustard. Sale or unauthorized distribution of any altered versions of my images is prohibited.
  4. Print them on tangible products such as coffee mugs or postcards meant for sale. Slapping one or some of my photos on a CafePress item and selling it is not cool. You are in effect selling my photos as stated in the first rule, so if I catch you, I will report you.
  5. If I, Alexandria Long, were to sell to anyone larger, higher quality versions of my images, that does not give the buyer the right to sell the image. The buyer merely purchased the right(s) to use a higher quality image in whatever project they need it for. The buyer DOES NOT own the purchased photo, and therefore may not sell any of my photos.
  6. If my photos were to ever be used in printed materials such as magazine or book covers, then credit MUST be given to the creator (Alexandria Long). I will also be looking further compensation when it comes to book covers. If you use a web-safe version of my image for a 'zine or book cover, expect to hear from me.
  7. If my photos were to ever be used in online publications such as online news or blog websites, then credit should be given to the creator (Alexandria Long).

By downloading my images from Shareapic.net or Picable.com, you are agreeing to my terms. Even if you do find other more spectacular photos for free, I still have my rights as a creator.

I'm eventually going to move the T&Cs to their own page. After adding a few more photographs to the first Shareapic gallery, I'll link to it from the sidebar. For now, you can reach it by clicking here. This is the 'Home Garden" gallery, where all of my home's flower pics will go. More galleries should soon follow.

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Thursday, September 20, 2007

At work, lots of perks and no jerks

I'm enjoying myself at Network Solutions so far. It's only my first week, but I already like this place a lot. The culture is very friendly here, and this NetSol location is rapidly growing. From what I hear, it's mostly guys here, but the group of new hires that I'm in has only one guy. Not that he's complaining. :P

I've been hired as a designer for the Standard web design team. Basically I work on a lot of web sites for individuals or small to mid-sized businesses. The usual turnout rate for a standard package is only a couple of days. All the code is handled without my need to touch it unless there's some customization requested by the client. This is good, as it should help me concentrate more on the actual layout design. Hello, Adobe.

One of the new hires hinted me to www.sxc.hu, which is a free resource for stock photography. People can share their photos and others can download what they need. At least I won't have to come out of pocket for great photos to use whether for myself or for someone else.

Time to go. My lunch break is over, so it's back to training. Can you believe I actually have a final exam? D:

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Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Things are looking up

I won the Self-Study Cover Design Contest held by St. Louis Community College. Yay! Peace Sign Now I'm just hovering around my mailbox for the nice $250 check I should be receiving soon. I'll also be posting my concept design here. Too bad the colors will be changing to complement other recent printed material being sent out by the college. The package being sent out has some nice rich colors, so I'll be looking forward to the changes my design will be going through for the final production.

A friend of mine sent me an email containing a freelance opportunity here in the city. It's a web design job, and according to the email, they may or may not be looking for the designer to do any real coding. I'm pretty good with HTML/XHTML, and I've been researching CSS more extensively nowadays, but I can't do a lick of javascript. Crying The lack of coding may be a relief, but we'll see. There weren't many details in the email, but I should know for sure once I email the person in charge of hiring at the agency.

Speaking of coding, it's time that I learn Javascript. It's been a standard language to create many useful tools in not only web sites but weblogs. Bloggers use javascript to hack their blog's layouts in order to create a more individual look and add better funcionality to their blogs. And I'm not talking about adding some cutesy analog clock to your site; I'm talking adding a fully functioning calendar hack that links to all of your blogs current and past entries. I've picked up a javascript book from the library. It's pretty big, and I may not get through all of it. I plan to find better working examples on the web that will help when I can't understand something in the book.

I've been looking at CSS more and more lately. I want to improve on the little bit of what I already know. I'm going to challenge myself by implementing a CSS-styled no-tables layout in my next site revamp. It intimidates me a bit. I love having very graphical web design, and I didn't mind using tables to create image borders for my content. But if there's a better way of presenting my site without all the nested html, then I'm all for it. As simple as my current layout is, it's all a bunch of manhandled mess. That and it's beginning to load slower, and that's a no-no. It's time that I catch up with everyone else who's been doing web design for as long as I have. Frankly I don't want to remain ignorant when there's so much to learn, so it's time I change my attitude and habits.

I also want to use Flash again for my web site. My copy of Koolmoves has been sitting idle for far too long. I've just now started using it to create a digital portfolio I can present to prospective employers. It feels good to play with Koolmoves again. Now there's a slide show tool that I'm using to create separate slides for my work (design, photography, etc.). The portfolio flash site itself will be simple, because I plan on turning the swf file into a projector file that I can email to employers as a demo reel so they can save it locally. it's also been time that I separate my opinions from my work.

Before I go, I want to share a site that provides free hosting of MySQL databases. FreeMySQL.net is totally free, and the admins don't restrict your use as long as it doesn't violate anyone's rights or break laws. You can give them donations to help keep the service free. There are sites that offer free PHP and MySQL hosting, but if you've met your database quota (should there be one), then FreeMySQL.net is a good place to host the rest of your databases.

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Tuesday, July 17, 2007

A quick update on yesterday's post

A PR person from Scottrade responded to my rant I did about their Chinese Graphic Designer position. After publishing that, I began thinking I was making a mountain out of a mole hill, and my thoughts turned out to be true.

The PR told me that the company is looking for a Chinese designer because they are in need of someone who fluently speaks Mandarin Chinese. That wasn't in the job description until now. They updated it, so now there should be no confusion or mistaking the hiring practices of the company. The job title is still a bit iffy; you can hire a person of a different ethnicity who could fill the position because they speak Chinese as fluently as and have better credentials than someone who is Chinese . I'm not saying I fit the job description, I'm just sayin'. :P

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Sunday, July 15, 2007

Good times ahead!

I finally got a company to respond to me. Cepia LLC. of Clayton, Missouri called me up for an interview, and I went there that very day. I was so nervous, and me traveling in a car with no air conditioning (it does have it, but it will make the car stall) didn't help keep me cool either. I made sure to have as much in my portfolio as possible, scrap notes and sketches included.

As far as the interview went, I was REALLY early. I made sure to leave early enough in case traffic was murder, but I got there pretty much 30 minutes before my scheduled time. I think that's a good thing. I always did that with previous interviews. When I finally got to sit down with the recruiters, I feel like I fumbled through my portfolio a bit. Despite my nervous wordiness, they liked a number of my pieces, especially my paintings. I felt the portfolio review of the interview went well, all things considered. Then I went on a tour of their main office. It's really nice. They mostly do toy design, but before that they did lawn care products. They now handle a wide range of product lines, and everyone there helps with a wide range of assignments, from design to modeling for package design, to human resources.

I REALLY want to work for Cepia, and it's not just because I'm desperate for work. I love all of what they offer, and I like that they provide guidance and a friendly environment for the employees. They seem really close to each other, but still professional enough to make sure everyone's doing their best. I want that, and I really hope I get the job.

I haven't stopped looking for work. I've been applying for any job I feel I'm qualified for. St. Louis Community College is now offering a graphic design job. Ironically, this 2-year college institution is looking for an applicant with a 4-year degree. I'm going to apply anyway; surely my recent college would be happy enough to employ one of their own recent graduates. Harrah's Casino is still posting that they need a graphic designer. I've applied twice for that job, and still no response. I've planned to continue bugging them with constant applications until I receive an answer from them. I feel it's unprofessional and very rude that I do not get any response from an employer. At least let me know if I'm not what your company is looking for.

Enough about my job search. I have even cooler news. Picture.com has photo contests going on, with an annual competition with a grand prize of $10,000. Pretty sweet, huh? Well, my photo, which I have dubbed "Focused on The Fountain" has been entered into the Open Amateur Photography Contest for this summer, and I've been chosen as a semi-finalist for this competition. Not only that, but my photo will be published in the upcoming anthology currently named "Endless Journeys". I feel this is a great honor, so I plan to get 2 copies of the book, for myself and one for my family. It feels like a hefty cost, but if I want to be recognized, I have to pay to have my artist profile in the book. And since I'm going to pay for people to read about me, I'm going to buy the book so I can read about me too. :)

More good news: I've been approved for Smorty and Blogvertise, paid-to-blog sites similar to PayPerPost. While PayPerPost actually gets opportunities in everyday, the availability of the opps depend on how popular your blog is and how fast you are at accepting available opportunities. The popularity thing is a HUGE turnoff, but it seems to be a big payoff. The wait to be paid for approved blog posts also depends on the opportunity.

Smorty is a great way to get paid for blogging, and has a week wait on being paid for blog posts. After accepting an opportunity, the wait for your post to be approved or rejected is two days. Once your blog post is approved, you must wait five more days to be paid. Thus, you can get paid every week for each successful sponsored blog post you make. Unlike PayPerPost, you get email notifications when opportunities are available (I had to search the PPP site to even find the RSS feed). You have to log into your account as soon as you see the opp or else you might miss out on it. The opp availability is not based on popularity like PPP, which I like. With the number of companies looking to advertise on blogs, the number of opportunities increase. Very important: make sure your current sponsored blog posts can be seen from your blog's homepage. If they cannot be seen or not somehow linked on your homepage, your posts will be rejected. I don't believe the posts have to be permanently linked on your homepage, but please keep this rule in mind when you submit your blog posts for review.

get paid to blog

Blogvertise has a 30-day wait after blog post approval. Like Smorty, you get email notifications on new opps, and they are not based on popularity. However, if you choose to neither accept or reject an opportunity, it will go to someone else, and the less opps you will receive in the future. If you're not a very active blogger, accept at least one opp to make sure the Blogvertise team doesn't deem your account inactive.

Regardless of what paid-to-blog program you stick with, don't make consecutive sponsored blog posts. The program's moderators will assume your blog is a blog made strictly to get paid from, which they frown upon. So to avoid getting rejected in the future, keep your blog fresh and full of multiple topics. Also it is recommended that you have a blog that is hosted at your own domain. Most opportunities will not accept blog posts from MySpace, Blog*Spot, Vox, or Wordpress blogs. For instance, Smorty will not approve of blogs unless they have their own domain (i.e., www.yoursite.com). There are other excluded domains, so find a place that has reasonable hosting for your blog.

This is a sponsored post.

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Sunday, June 10, 2007

Here comes the gravy train!

A week ago I managed to get a client from my mother, who happens to be one of her real estate clients. He wanted a website and 300 business cards. Now the card design was based off the web site design, which I'll upload a screen shot of both to the gallery as soon as I get his site up and going. This is the good news. The bad news is that I let the man get away with all of that for $180. ALL OF IT. And he had the nerve to say he was patronizing me because he's my first official design commission and that I should keep my prices low because the people in the city won't understand that they're paying for the designing of their product and the printing that occurs afterwards. What he implied is that our city's black urban community is too stupid to understand that a $250 commission is actually cheap in comparison to what most other graphic designers will charge them.

Oh-My-God. I charged him cheaply for my designs and charged him the difference of the supplies I had to buy for the cards. He got off so light it actually makes me a little upset. I'll never do that again. If someone wants me to design anything like a web site or business card or any design work, they're going to have to come off of at least $250 for me to do it, not including the printing costs. I'm seriously trying to make a career out of the talent I have, and I'm not going to be pressured by (people who think they know so much but need to pay designers to do what they actually don't know much about) tell me what price I should charge anyone. Period. Now get off my chesticles. Jerks. >:[

In much better news, I mailed off my resume, complete with cover letter and tear sheet to a healthcare center here in the area. Hopefully I'll be hearing from someone this week. In the meantime I've been filling my time with this. This program has some serious money-making potential. I plan to stay with it, because it's one of the very few out there that can be trusted when it comes to making money off the internet. After signing up, members can sign up with other trusted programs in order to increase earnings and gain more people to join in the profits to be made. If you have or can manage to get enough social pull, I suggest getting everyone you know into participating in Marketing Pond and its affiliated programs.

The easiest program to participate in is Agloco. The company is owned by the users, and user activity is tracked through a spyware-free, adware-free, and above all virus-free viewbar that is easily installed and controlled from the desktop. The viewbar must be running in order for Agloco to track your web surfing. That's all you get paid to do: web surf. It's the easiest money making venture ever. And as with the rest of the marketing programs, the best way to benefit from Agloco is to sign up, download the viewbar, and tell all of your family, friends, and work associates about it.

What's even better is to sign up from Marketing Pond and then sign up to Agloco from there. Also sign up for any other programs that interest you. The more you sign up for and participate in, the more potential you have to make money from doing what you usually do when you connect to the web, which is probably next to nothing. Please check out Marketing Pond, and good luck if you sign up! Contact me if you do and I can send you a few tips to get you started on promoting the programs for yourself. :D

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Saturday, May 26, 2007

Resume now online

I replaced the PDFolio link with a link to my updated resume. I also updated the Sketch and Design galleries yesterday night. There are two inked illustrations in the Sketch section and two new [to you] designs in the Design section. I will be adding descriptions to the new entries in the galleries shortly.

I also updated the Links page yesterday night too, and this evening. There are only a few links to the sites I view the most.

I also added more ads to the site. I'm broke, can you blame me? :P I might be coming around to the expiration of my web hosting plan, so any visits to the advertised sites would be appreciated. The lot of them are geared toward my own interests, so no, no pyramid schemes, no links to phishing sites, none of that deceptive crap.

If there is one promotion I'd like to steer you all towards, it's SlashMySearch.com. With this search engine, you get paid to search. Yes, people actually get paid to use their search engine, and users make more money when they refer people to SlashMySearch.com. The reason for this is that SMS pays its users to refer people, thus letting SMS avoid paying out big bucks for advertisement and and outside affiliate programs elsewhere. SMS is partnered with Snap.com, which is a wonderful search engine. With Snap.com, you can preview snapshots of sites before going to them. That way you can avoid unnecessary search results. SlashMySearch.com is in beta right now, but the services offered are pretty good. If you don't mind making a bit of money essentially doing nothing, it wouldn't hurt you to spend a minute signing up there. :)

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Thursday, April 12, 2007

Chaos? In my poster?

So I goofed up doing my poster, which is supposed to be influenced by the Postmodern graphic style. As far as the postmodernism goes, the design went south.Don't get me wrong, I think my poster is cool. But not only does it not have the strong characteristics of postmodernism, it doesn't fit the game it's mock-advertising well. The game is "Meteos". The poster is retro-looking. Meteos is contemporary and cute. Not necessarily a good combination, but I gave it a try. What is graphic design without a little trial and error? :P

Anyway, the poster needs to be done over. Not all the way over, but some significant changes are in the new poster. The old poster is uploaded to the Gallery nonetheless. It's still good design, and I'm pleased with it. I think it'll even make a nice pop art t-shirt. Not the bottom half with the text and screen shots, just the top half. Any feedback on whether I make it a t-shirt or not will be greatly appreciated! It would be nice to wear something that I designed myself.

I also uploaded an old design I did for an assignment given back in 2004. Someone must have saw my design and decided to take it a step further, putting great detail in the coffee mug and adding books. Whoever the show-off is, I'm still jealous. T_T

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Sunday, March 11, 2007

Added Gallery: Design

Read title. I've added a design gallery for the sake of all of the design work I have. They don't fit into the other categories for obvious reasons, so it was time for a gallery for the stuff that's supposed to increase my chances at getting a job. :P I haven't cleaned out my color gallery like I said I would; there's a lot of crap in there.

I added the Design gallery yesterday, but didn't get to finish completely integrating it into the rest of the site (See the Multimedia message I left earlier this morning). It was easy to add, and integrating it is a cinch. If anyone wants to use the L.E.A.P. Gallery that I use (though there are better scripts out there), please contact me. I would never charge for something so simple for people to use. I may go ahead and put it up for download one of these days. I just have to clean up and update some of the commenting inside of the scripts.

Yup! It looks like the site is coming along nicely. I've been thinking of re-designing the site again. It's cute, but it's just not the edgy design I want for my site. I like using red and black along with some gray, and I want to avoid colors that can be too bold. We'll just have to see. Maybe this time around I'll have a site menu with rollovers. I haven't done anything like that since my old site's flash-based menu.

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Friday, March 2, 2007

The next 10 weeks are going to be hell.

Not only do I have to have a 10-minute Power Point presentation of the Postmodern Graphic Style complete with 500+ word essay done by sometime during the last 2 weeks of the semester, I have to create a somewhat costly portfolio setup after Spring Break, complete with Business cards, envelopes, first sheet, second sheet, and tear sheet. I have only begun digging through all of my work in order to pull together a portfolio with at least 12-15 pieces. I say 12 to 15 because I have no idea how many pieces are needed for the companies I will be applying at. Since illustration itself was a small part of my degree (even though it focuses on illustration), I don't have as many pieces as I want. I may have to come up with some stuff to add to my portfolio for its first incarnation.

Meanwhile at my part-time job at Dierbergs, I've been getting less hours. On average, I used to get 20 hours. Now we have more people, so the hours have to be scheduled amongst more people, which means less hours for everyone. Some people already work another job besides working at Dierbergs. There was a graphic designer position open at Dierbergs, and I would have a better chance at getting the job because they like to hire from within the company. However, I don't have much to show at the moment, so I think I missed that boat.

One poster I did a few years back was nice, and I wish I could find the file. It's most likely on the backup discs I created when I wiped out my old computer. It was a good example of graphic design using raster and vector in Photoshop CS, and it kills me that I don't have a hard copy of the poster. My teacher does so hopefully she kept the file of the project too in case I can't find mine.

Well, regardless of the status of my portfolio, I do have samples of work already available on my website and more to add, so I can just direct employers to my website. Or I can re-do my PDF portfolio and email that to them instead of just my resume. That would be good at this point.

OR!!! I can go ahead and make this announcement. In case you haven't noticed, The of my site has been updated to reflect my project availability status. Please read it for details. If you're interested, please ASAP so I can get back to you as soon as possible. I'd like to get more experience, and I need the money. ^^;;

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