Sunday, 31 August 2014

Being Creative

So last weekend we got the new workspace set up.  And then I promptly spent 7 hours working on custom ponies and another 5 hours working on the computer (colouring a couple drawings, updating my collection photobucket, and generally bumming around the internet).  It was awesome.

Then came Monday, and I had to go back to my day job.

I don't hate my job, and it does have some creative aspects to it, but it's not art-related.  Normally this isn't so much of a problem, but this past week, all I could think about was the perfectly set-up workspace that was at home and the fact that I wasn't there, creating.

The fact that I couldn't spend the entire week enjoying my new workspace doesn't mean that I couldn't spend any time creating art.  At work I doodle all the time, when I'm on the phone, waiting for documents to load (our system is notoriously slow), and sometimes on my lunch break.  My office walls have many of my work sketches pinned up, and my colleagues have commented on them several times.  They don't generally amount to much, but it's a way to pass the time and still be creative.

Sometimes I'll also make lists when I'm at work.  Lists of customs I plan to make, lists of baits I need, lists of supplies I want to look for, and lists of ideas to be fleshed out later.

Many of my colleagues also know I collect MLP (the 11 McD ponies, Pinkie Pie plush, and screen saver may have given me away).  They'll ask about my collection, about my customs, and quite often we'll get into some good chats.  Talking about the customs I'm currently working on helps me to flesh out ideas even when I'm unable to be actually working on them.

All this to say that not a day goes by when I'm not doing something creative.  It may not go any further than a quick doodle that eventually ends up in the recycling bin, but like any exercise, you've got to flex your muscles or risk loosing ground with your skills.  And then you're ready to run that artistic marathon when you get the chance on the next weekend.


Saturday, 23 August 2014

New workspace!

After 7 years of working on two tv trays to create custom ponies, finally, FINALLY...

I'm so happy.  *sniff*

I still have the cabinet to keep supplies in, but I now also have a giant table on which to work (with a plastic table protector to keep the paint off).  I also have space for my little display case that I can keep WIPs in, rather than having to pack everything up at the end of a session.  Also, the table is significantly higher than two tv trays, so I can paint and sculpt tiny details to my heart's content without completely destroying my back bending over.

In addition, Roomy has a new computer desk and filing system for writing/editing on.  We both have white boards up in our spaces for brainstorming and bookshelves for storing reference materials.  We also have a brand-spanking new printer/scanner/copier (so beautiful!).

Soon we'll have posters and art up too, to inspire us.

I spent 7 hours working on customs today in this space, and I'm ready to go back.


Friday, 15 August 2014

This will STILL be the year I catalogue my collection!

Did you think I had given up on cataloging my collection again?  No, the process was just slowed down by Fair preparation.  I'm still determined to eventually get everything photographed, listed, and organized.
To that end, I've spent some time today photographing some of my merchandise, and a few of the ponies who were ready for their photo shoot.  I've also cleaned the ponies I bought at this year's Fair (which is more than can be said for the poor ponies I bought at last year's Fair), so they'll be ready for their close up once their hair dries.
I very much doubt that I'll be done this project before 2014 leaves us, but I'm still further along than I've been with the project in the past.  Realistically, I won't have time to work on this project each weekend, but when I do, I'll be cleaning a few ponies at a time.  While I wait for these to dry, I'll be able to photograph the previously-cleaned ponies.
The more difficult aspect is the actual catalogue.  I don't currently have a functional laptop, and carrying ponies up and down from the top of the house to the desktop computer in the basement is not practical.  Ideally, I'd have a laptop with me in the Geek Cave, where I could access my excel file, update the pony's condition, and check if I own any of the accessories that go with her before I take my photograph.  In the meantime, I may just have to go back to pen and paper to record everything.
Ah, a collector's work is never done.  ;)


Friday, 8 August 2014

Should I have a budget?

It's a variation on a question that often comes up at conventions when Roomy and I talk on general "collecting" panels.  Should I plan my spending on my collection?  How?  Why?  Is it necessary to have a budget when you're a collector?
I do feel it's important that, as collectors, we discuss the important aspects of collecting.  Budgeting isn't the most entertaining topic, but it's an important one, perhaps the most important one for collectors and non-collectors alike.
I'm not going to tell you how to budget because it's none of my business how you organize yourself, and different methods work for different people.  As long as your method works there's no right answer.  But I do think it's important that we all have a budget of some kind to help keep us on the straight and narrow collecting path.  Below I've identified five reasons for developing and sticking to a budget that I find particularly important.
1. First things first: the necessities of life must always come before your collection.  You, and the entities who depend on you, must be housed, fed, clothed (if not furry, feathery, or scaly) and medically cared for.  You must have transportation of some kind, the lights must stay on, the phone connected, the heat available, the debts paid.  Only after all the necessities have been paid can you begin to think about spending money on your collection.
Most collectors don't have much trouble with this first one, but we've all known or seen or heard of someone who was drowning in debt, unable to keep their head above water.  Often, it's through no fault of their own, but it's all too easy to overspend and get ourselves into financial trouble, especially when you're as passionate about something as collectors are about their collections.
2. Remember the hidden costs: say you've decided that you'll spend $25 a month on your collection.  You find the Pony of your Dreams for sale on ebay for exactly $25, and you jump at the chance to buy her.  Oops, you've already overspent!  You forgot to count the shipping costs, the difference in exchange rate (if you're buying from another country), perhaps bank fees as well.  Suddenly your $25 pony now costs you $40 and you've already spent half your collection money for next month.
3. Plan ahead, don't shop ahead: if you're budgeting it can be easy(er) to save up a certain amount for an upcoming convention or specific purchase.  When I decided to buy my Brazilian Heart Throb as a reward for a new job, I didn't go out looking for one the next day.  I checked what the current going rate for her was so I knew how much I needed to save up.  I had some money I'd received as a gift, so I put that toward my goal.  I also budgeted a certain amount of each paycheque toward her.  It was only when I knew I had enough money set aside that I began shopping.  It took another two months for me to find one for sale, but I knew that if I looked before I had the money I might buy her and have to live with the debt.  I might ultimately have overspent, as once the pony is paid for it's easy to justify letting that debt be carried along for awhile and spending on other things.
4. Curate your collection: by this I mean simply choose what you're going to collect.  I have/had many collections in my life, but when I decided that I would collect MLP I made the decision that this would be the only thing I would actively pursue.  That way much of my discretionary cash could go toward building my MLP collection.  I could also use most of my display space for MLP.  But that doesn't mean that I buy anything and everything MLP.  I choose which ponies I want.  I don't collect doubles.  More recently, I've chosen to limit my merchandise buying to mainly vintage items.  I still occasionally add to my Breyer Stablemates/LPS/Unicorn collections, but rarely and only when I haven't spent money on my MLP collection recently.  Within the last two years I've also begun collecting Doctor Who dvds and merchandise, and of course that means that MLP doesn't get quite as much money as it used to.  It's all about balance.
5. Have fun!  If collecting has become a chore, if instead of the thrill of the buy you get only buyer's remorse, if your credit card debt can be tabulated in ebay purchases but not covered by your next paycheque, then it's time to re-evaluate.  Collecting should be fun, it shouldn't cause you financial strife.  If your collection stops bringing you joy, if you've overspent or are considering doing so, then it's time to take a break.  You needn't stop altogether, but you also don't need to buy something every day/week/month.  Take the time to enjoy what you have, rearrange your figures, change your display, talk to other collectors, and plan where you want to take your collection from here.

This is just the beginning of the discussion.  If you have any suggestions or comments you'd like to share, I'd be happy to hear them.  I plan to talk more about budgeting in a later post.


Friday, 1 August 2014

Workspace woes

I looooooooove our new house (not so new to us after a year and a half) but there's one area that hasn't yet been addressed...the workspace.

Roomy and I have planned to share a workspace in the finished basement.  We have so many plans involving desks and computer setups and storage.  So far, none of it has been accomplished. Since we can both make do without the workspace we've prioritized other things, like couches, Geek Cave improvements, you know, the important things.  Soon, however, we will look at getting our furniture for the workspace.

In the meantime, I thought I'd show you where I've been creating customs for the last several years (well before we moved).
Yep, that's it.  A couch, two folding tables, and a tv that's usually playing some variation of Star Trek (I need something to watch while I work, but not something that's so engrossing that I forget to work.  No Doctor Who or anything new).
I have a cupboard where I keep my supplies, which keeps them safe from the cats.  It should also keep them organized, but that ain't happening.

I am looking forward to having the proper space set up, where I can leave a few things out, or at least close at hand, rather than packing everything up each day to get it out of the way.  Soon...soon.