art

Twitter is no longer about small communities (but other places can be)

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2016 has been a hard year for many I know. Lots of us are still hanging on to what positivity we can, turning ennui and grief into action for themselves, for others, and against incoming attempts to install fascism and oppression around the globe.

2016 has also been hard for another reason: social media. No, I’m not talking about bloviated tweets from you-know-who. I’m talking about trying to be a decent person with a public presence on Twitter or Tumblr or Facebook or what-have-you.

These sites have, increasingly, been creating a bubble around what we read daily. No, I’m not talking about this echo chamber, not exactly. Articles like this one blame us for the problem. Instead, I’m talking about the bubble created around marketing data and “engagement” that has caused sites like Twitter to destroy their most useful feature — unfiltered and unfettered access to what people I follow say daily.

I was one of many people against Twitter’s algorithmic timeline, the odious feature that would create exactly the echo chambers the media is now decrying. Like with Facebook, we got here because our opinion doesn’t matter when weighed against businesses — the algorithmic timeline exists to funnel people into easily marketable segments that make data and ads from Facebook or Twitter easier to sell. It also serves to channel what’s most popular or best funded, even if that content is egregious bullshit.

Like many, when I started on Twitter, I used it as a feed to follow people I was interested in daily. This relationship quickly conflated friendship with readership, causing me to “follow” thousands of people while keeping a very short, private list of about 40 that I read daily.

While imperfect, this situation worked. It was easily digestible, and it let me share my art with hundreds of people daily, channeling my creativity in productive and beneficial ways. If you look back to 2014, for example, you see me substantially more positive and outgoing than I feel today.

The algorithmic timeline has, in many ways, provided the inverse. While its impact does not exist in a vacuum (many other changes occurred in 2015 and 2016 that made them especially difficult years for me), Twitter’s increasing focus on popular and paid content has come at a direct detriment to people that focus on building smaller, closer-knit communities. It’s also drowned out many starting, upcoming, and niche artists that rely on a diverse community to succeed.

Instead of keeping my relationship to my followers linear with time and with tweets, the algorithmic timeline has made this relationship hyperbolic. This means that the very successful or broadly reaching (celebrity tweets, memes, and people who focus on constant engagement to wide audiences of people) do exponentially better from Twitter’s new perspective. Conversely, this perspective has hurt people like me, who focus on smaller communities in which we feel we do the most good. If this sounds like a metaphor for similar arrangements in society, rest assured — it is.

The constant barrage of “Promoted Tweets”, “Moments”, “In case you missed it”, “Since you’ve been gone”, and “Show me the best tweets first” distracts from the most important feature Twitter once provided: reading what a small collection of friends are saying daily. And that piercingly hurts.

This arrangement has substantially amplified people who use the system to their benefit. For example, artists that use retweet campaigns and raffles (which implicitly apply operant conditioning to a wide audience) have become increasingly successful under Twitter’s model of more favorably valuing favorites and retweets in algorithmic feeds. Artists like myself, who choose to forego these techniques to provide a higher quality of signal on a tweet-by-tweet basis, generally do worse — despite our desires to continue to have a more authentic relationship with our audience.

If a hyperbolic model works for you — great! Keep doing what you do. For those whom it doesn’t work, please understand that authenticity isn’t dead, but it’s much less successful on Twitter than it used to be.

For those of us used to the unfiltered model, the result has been a slow gaslighting. Many people I know (myself included!) were easily convinced, by falling numbers and falling readership over time, that something we were doing was wrong — and that this was our own fault.

Many people who were once the most authentic and interesting voices in my timeline have, increasingly, been expressing feelings of isolation, remorse, burnout, and a lack of connection with people whom they once considered their friends. Through no fault of their own.

Increasingly concerning, many of my friends have, at different intervals, emotionally broken down. Between June and September of this year, I also broke down. I had been so reliant on Twitter as a personal emotional tether that I failed to realize when it had come undone, and worse, had become actively abusive in a hyperbolic model of conversation. It wasn’t just me.

Reading these vignettes from friends has been personally heartbreaking. So many of you are amazing, creative people that are lost in the noise through no fault of your own. Watching as increasingly loud, controversial, and popular content polarizes a once stratified and diverse community is incredibly painful.

It’s not just you. It’s the programming.

If you are like me and have been dealing with this specific form of anxiety, I strongly recommend investing in self-care and smaller communities to help you reconnect. Please remember that you are valuable.

In the vacuum of better social media options (competitors like mastodon.social seem potentially promising), I recommend Discord highly. Others have had success with Slack, Telegram, and traditional forum software. Use what works best for you.

Should you desire to chat, I can be found as Goldkin or GoldkinDrake on most services (and Goldkin#3497 on Discord). Please feel more than welcome to drop me a friend invite and say hello.

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New Comic Blog!

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Hi all! For those reading here that don’t follow any of my other social media accounts: exciting thing! I just started a new comic blog over at https://lipsumdrake.wordpress.com/

Since this is all part of the WordPress network, any accounts created here will also work over there for commenting purposes.I hope you enjoy it!

From Commissions to Requests

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I’m going to move back to doing requests for no payment. Here’s why.

I started doing requests out of the sheer joy of making art for other people. This worked spectacularly well: it substantially improved my quality of work between May and October of this year. I can now genuinely state that I am satisfied with my art and that I intend to continue improving.

In October, I decided to turn these into donation-based commissions based loosely on how Tod does Icon Day: freebies with something nice if you tipped a bit extra. There isn’t much financial incentive here: I just wanted to see if freelancing were possible for me while recovering some of the costs of ink refills and other art supplies.

Across all of these, I made $165 (gross). In terms of recovering costs, I’d call that successful. However, this had the effect of substantially slowing down my artwork: the time commitment of doing business, added to my regular day job, commitments to my home, and schedule of producing art, took too many hours of my day, causing me to sleep at best six hours a night.

I managed this fairly well at the beginning. But as my sleep schedule ebbed further, I couldn’t really make this feasible a month or two later, frequently taking days off to recover. Since then, I’ve been struggling with what to do with the remainder of my art time, dreading the idea of continuing to do business even before considering changes in legal compliance and pending legislation like VAT MOSS.

For the past month, I’d been trying to figure out exactly what to do with my art. Then I saw this comic from Zen Pencils and realized that, perhaps, I’d been right at the start: the most important thing to me isn’t the money or the fame, but rather, the sheer joy of making something for another person, putting my all into the process of just making that art.

So for now, I’ve decided to stop taking payments for my artwork. This is something I have the luxury of doing: I have a sustainable, well-paying job that keeps me supplied beyond my needs, I can afford my material costs and the costs of my time, and I can take requests that are within my means. I will not begrudge people from continuing to send tips and donations my way, as they encourage me to keep making things for all of you. But I literally do not have enough hours in my current day to formally do business, and I need to act accordingly.

Through the end of this, I want to emphasize that this is a decision based solely on my personal needs. I want to encourage any artist that supports themselves through your trade to continue doing what you do, because you are awesome and we need more people like you to exist. I especially encourage people reading this post to keep supporting these people, because they struggle to inspire us all and bring worlds to life that we literally would not dream of if not for them.

Thank you for reading. Please note that this is not an art request thread, so please, do not request artwork here. I’ll be starting a separate thread on various social media when I begin taking requests again.

Love you all.

Goldkin’s Holiday Copic Card Commissions: Sent!

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All of these are now in the mail en route to their purchasers. Thank you for commissioning me!

While I would normally post the completed photoset here, several of these have bonus ink illustrations that are a complete surprise! As such, I don’t want to spoil the magic for those of you who want the joy of opening these up for the very first time.

For those that would like to see the teaser illustrations for your card, or for those of you who commissioned me digitally, here they are:

  1. Sovrim: https://twitter.com/Goldkin/status/537949547507372032/photo/1
  2. Dragonheadthing: https://twitter.com/Goldkin/status/538572627715977217/photo/1
  3. Talarus: https://twitter.com/Goldkin/status/538936001821806592/photo/1
  4. Dav: https://twitter.com/Goldkin/status/539332240329555969/photo/1
  5. Nix’theeria: https://twitter.com/Goldkin/status/540123307907899392/photo/1

Thank you so much for commissioning me again. Have a joyous and safe holiday season!

Goldkin’s Holiday Copic Card Commissions: Queue Order

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This is a fairly short batch! Here’s the queue order:

  1. Sovrim
  2. Dragonheadthing
  3. Talarus
  4. Dav

I’ll be starting in on these tomorrow and working on them over the Thanksgiving holiday. Thank you for commissioning me!

[CLOSED] Goldkin’s Holiday Copic Card Commissions!

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Now that the second batch of images are up, onward to batch number 3!

This one will be a little different. This time I’m doing holiday cards! Everyone replying will get a holiday-themed Copic illustration. If you tip, I will send you a physical copy. Joy!

Please read this full post. It won’t take too much of your time, promise!

What you’ll get

  1. Each person replying to this thread will receive one holiday-themed Copic portrait illustration entirely for free, distributed digitally.
  2. Everyone who tips $15 or more will receive their copy in the mail, along with a short seasonal greeting and an inked sketch! (The postal notebooks I am buying for these are approximately $6 before tax and take about an hour to prepare, so the margin isn’t too large here!)

Here is an example of what you will get if you tip! Page 2 will be a prose greeting that isn’t shown here.

Rules!

  1. Requests will be open until Monday at 9AM United States Pacific Standard Time. (If I get completely flooded, there is a soft cap of 100 slots in this current batch, though I may take more.)
  2. Requests will be completed at a rate of approximately one a day, posted to social media at the time of their completion. I will also create a post here when the batch is done. Resolution on these is capped at the high-resolution settings for Twitter, but I can provide high dpi images upon request.
  3. Illustrations can be of the same or different characters (up to a maximum of two, if you tip).
  4. Props for your character (including silly hats, Hawaiian shirts, monocles, and whatnot) are allowed. Please give a brief description of what you’d like drawn if you request these! References for these props are also welcome.
  5. Your illustrations will be constrained to four pages of a Moleskine Postal notebook. I will try to mail all of these before the Christmas holiday (December 25th).
  6. Commissions will be completed in pseudorandom order. This is to allow anyone a shot at an early commission, without putting strain on people in non-US timezones. I use https://www.random.org/lists/ as my randomizer.
  7. To reduce confusion, please request only your own characters. If you want a batch of interlinked illustrations (say, to signify a relationship), please have each person ask for their own character separately. These may be batched together within reason.
  8. By requesting here, you assert that you claim ownership over the characters and references that you send me for purposes of making art for you. Please only request illustrations of characters you own. DO NOT request illustrations of copyrighted works or other things that could get me in trouble.
  9. Please provide reference images for your illustrations. As before, these can be the same or different for each illustration that I do for you.
  10. All illustrations and themes must be PG. Please keep your references PG as well, because I might want to stream these or show them informally to other people. If you want PG13 or adult work, ask me privately, and it’ll go onto a separate commission queue.
  11. All illustrations I create here will be posted publicly to social media, primarily on my account on Twitter. The personal greetings I write for you will be private only to you. If you’re not comfortable with this, please contact me privately for a separate commission.
  12. Limit one slot per person. You are on the honor system here. Please do not sock puppet or use alternate accounts to request multiple slots, as these will deprive other people of timely access to their requests. If you’d like more than one illustration, please contact me privately here or on Twitter so I can schedule a commission just for you!
  13. I will be maintaining a separate account just for these commissions. If I become aware that I cannot complete your request for any reason, your tip will be refunded in full. I will even pay the PayPal transfer fees.
  14. All public images I release here will be covered generally under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license. However, the recipients of each request may do whatever they please with their own illustrations. Just please give credit where credit is due. 🙂
  15. These illustrations will be produced on a best-effort basis. Refunds after a work is completed are not guaranteed, but may be provided if you are not completely satisfied. Please read PayPal’s terms of service and summary of  changes, including those effective November 18th, for a summary of your rights if you choose to tip and aren’t completely satisfied.
  16. I may allow small changes to illustrations for you within one week of their completion. Please let me know. But, do understand that I also have a day job that may prevent these changes from being immediate. Do keep them reasonable!
  17. DO NOT POST YOUR MAILING ADDRESS TO THIS THREAD. I will contact you separately for mailing information.

Request Form!

Please reply to this post, filling out the following fields in your response:

  1. What character or characters would you like me to draw for you?
  2. What expressions would you like these characters to have in my illustration for you?
  3. What references do you have for these characters? (Please provide at least one image reference per character. Text references are difficult to get right!)
  4. These illustrations will be holiday themed. Do you have a particular favorite end-of-year holiday I should mention in your card?
  5. Did you tip? (Letting me know who you are when you tip is usually fine. If you forgot to do so, just reply with the last four digits of the invoice ID or send it to me privately.)
  6. What name would you like to be credited as? (This will be used when I post your illustration to social media.)
  7. If you’re receiving a physical copy, how should I contact you for your mailing address? Post something that I can use to drop you a line! (Preferrably, in a form that will confound bots, such as itisdark at that Gmail thingy.)

Tips!

If you desire to tip, here’s the shiny button! (It’s still a generic PayPal donation link for now. I’ll sort that out eventually.)

Donate Button

And now that all of that’s out of the way…

Reply forth with the art that you’d like!

Goldkin’s Copic Commissions 2: Scans!

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Phew, these are back a bit further than I wanted to post them because of a busy month. Here are all of the scans!

Thank you again for commissioning me! Next will be Holiday Cards! I’ll be opening that within the next hour or so.