designer

patience.

i’ve been thinking recently. a lot of people i know in real life and through things like twitter are regularly saying things like they’d like to do one thing or another but they’re scared it’ll fail or be shit. they’re basically letting their insecurities take over and prevent them from doing something they’re clearly passionate about.

so here’s the thing. when you see a successful artist, author or business you’re seeing what worked. you’re not seeing what they’re keeping hidden: the stuff that didn’t work. it’s very rare that you find someone who does something perfectly the first time, but they improve by doing it more often and learning. maybe your first attempts will be awful but if you’re enjoying it and improving then who really cares? if any of your projects ever make it big it’s unlikely it’ll be the first project you ever took on because, since then, you will have done more and improved vastly in that time.

learn, grow and expand.

i exhibited at a ‘yard sale’ of sorts over the weekend and the turnout wasn’t as high as the organisers had hoped and they came over at the end to apologise, but it was their first time. these things take time to build momentum and word of mouth. their confidence was knocked and i understand that but it reflects so much of what i’ve been saying on a very small scale.

it’s very easy to try something for 6 months to a year and have a level of success that doesn’t match what you’d hoped for, then think it isn’t working and drop it to try something new only for the same pattern to repeat itself. even more so when you do something once and it doesn’t meet your initial expectations.

be patient.

i tweeted the other day that my monthly income vs outgoings have finally started to balance out. it’s been just over four years. for some people this will take even longer. it depends on the industry in which you’re operating and your own personal outgoings. take those things into consideration before giving up and trying out something else. if you’ve got the support and finances you can even try to do a couple of things at the same time.

keep reminding yourself how much time you have.

snippets

recently i’ve been a bit slow on posting everywhere, mainly because i’ve not had many fully formed ideas. so rather than leave it any longer i figured i’d just post a few musings here for the time being.

1. taking time for yourself.

something i’ve wanted to talk about for ages is the idea of how people think if you’re a creative or self employed that you always have to be moving and making new tangible stuff. all about the output rather than the value of your brand. i always hate referring to myself and my work in the same breath as a brand but if you do anything yourself and put it online you’re basically creating a brand identity, and i see mine as including podcasts, videos and blogs alongside my art and merch projects. one of the joys of doing this is i get to do what i want when i want and as long as it’s all linked together properly it all forms the brand and therefore everything compliments everything else and adds value to what i’m doing (or at least that’s the plan).

so we have the idea that what looks like inactivity to people outside of your business/head is a bad thing. you’re not making things or adding value, simply because people can’t see a pattern or process developing. i’m not very good at writing plans or making full cohesive strategies but i do have a firm idea of what i want to do and how i want to do it. i spend a lot of time thinking and reverse engineering, i like to solve problems and analyse information but i rarely write or talk about it because to me it’s something that happens in a split second in my head. writing it down slows the process down for me. i place a lot of value in taking some time away from posting everything on social media and making new pieces of work all the time (not to say i don’t enjoy that, back in april i made 32 new pieces in a month) to focus on where i can grow and ideas i can look into. i’ll write projects and ideas down but a lot of it is very conceptual or involves a lot of reading. sometimes i spend my time walking around just visualising what a finished project will look like, and when i get home i’m able to put what i have in my head into a finished item. it’s the same with podcasts; i’ll quite often practice more or less the whole thing in my head first then make some quick notes to give an idea of order and to make sure i don’t forget anything.

2. technology & art.

recently i’ve seen some ridiculously clean lines in tattooing and a lot more tattooists seem to be planning their linework using ipads etc. i’ve seen it in the work of other artist as well and it got me thinking about how some people within the art community have moved further from using technology, almost rejecting it for the time being. i get the odd urge to make a fully digital piece every now and then but the majority of the time it’s saved either for editing/layering or left completely out of things. could it be that advances in technology are encouraging some artists to move away from it? that we used to want to aim for perfection, but now that’s far more possible we now aim for organic imperfections?

3. my old job.

would i rather be back in my old job (or one like it)?

not at all. i’d take the uncertainty and difficulties that come from running my own business over that any day of the week. the circumstances which led to me leaving my old job and the journey that has resulted from that has exposed me to flaws and problems that may have otherwise been buried or gone totally unnoticed. yes money is tight and yes my motivation fluctuates and yes i sometimes work very long days, but i feel so much more ‘me’ compared to how i was in my old job. i always joke about how the version of me at uni wouldn’t recognise (or would hate) who i am now because i’ve changed so much. the truth is that transformation truly began when i left my job to set up my own business.

i still feel like i can do more, but i always do, and nothing will ever feel like enough for me. that’s how i know i’m on the right track, because i’m still trying to make things work. nothing feels formulaic or textbook to me. i’m trying to do more with what i’ve got and (as you’ve probably seen) i’m consistently attempting new things and releasing new one off pieces.

i go through obsessive phases, which is in part possibly due to my mental health, so you’ll probably see me release a whole load of one type of item or a certain style before moving onto something new. then it kind of gets left in the “one day i’ll do more of this” pile while i do something else.

that’s it.

that’s all of them. flash thoughts i wanted to write down and flesh out but never got round to it so enjoy those and maybe ask me some questions if you want more information!

Supporting Creative Friends


Facebook | Twitter | Instagram 

Hey everyone!

I’ve noticed something recently. A lot of smaller businesses online are either having to shut down or they’re scaling their portfolio down a lot. So I’ve decided to write a a post for people who want to know ways to support small businesses and independent creatives they follow on various social media.

Purchase their work!

This is the most obvious. If you want creative people and small businesses to continue creating at a regular pace and put all of their time and effort into what they’re doing, your best bet is to purchase from them. The amount you spend and the frequency of which you do it is down to you, and it’s largely dependent on what you need, what people are providing and the cost of the items themselves. I’ve been encouraging some friends to include payments in instalments to make things more accessible. I’ve introduced it in full scale to my store recently and it’s been pretty popular.

patrick_bateman_american_psycho_page_painting

Let them know what you want more/less of!

Is your favourite artist releasing a bunch of designs you like on items you don’t want/need? Contact them! Small retailers are usually more able to respond to direct demand quite quickly and can sometimes make things as a one off.

Please keep in mind some people may have to release items as a pre-order to generate the funds (and establish the demand) for certain products. A couple of years ago I released t-shirts at the request of a few people, they started as a pre-order and when I had the funds I ordered in as many as I believed demand to be (from people saying they’d buy one) to not sell nearly as many as I’d anticipated. Had I done this as a full pre-order I wouldn’t have had this problem, and the situation itself nearly led to me having to close down my store.

dotwork-mandala-ink-drawing

Patreon!

The next couple are pretty similar. The first of which is subscribing via a service such as Patreon. This is great for people who make content on YouTube, write blogs or generally create content that may not necessarily always result in items for sale. Most Patreon creators include rewards and regular updates for Patrons, and it’s something I’m still getting the hang of. Some people need the funds to cover project costs, others to cover their regular outgoings. They usually list their reasons for using it in their description.

You can sign up to support creators on Patreon from as little as $1 a month (around 80p) and even if you can only pledge $1 a month it’s a huge boost to the creator. At the time of writing, my pledges come to around $50 and a bunch of those are $1. It builds up if enough people do it and it means creators can focus on making great content for you full time without worrying about money, and you’ll get rewards in the meantime!

I should probably mention that once you make a pledge you can edit or pause it whenever you need to. You’re not tied into pledging a certain amount until you cancel or anything like that.

fangs-cardboard-painting

Donations!

Not able to pledge every month for whatever reason? Does the creator you want to support not make anything you can buy/afford? Almost all of them have a PayPal account you can send funds to as and when you see fit, even if it’s just a couple of quid. As I mentioned before, it all adds up.

If PayPal isn’t your thing (or theirs), see if there are other ways you can send them some cash.

IMG_20160413_183850

Share their work!

A lot of people don’t have a disposable income to support creatives financially for a variety of reasons and that’s ok! There are other ways you can do it. People tend to use all sorts of social media, and if you think someone isn’t getting the recognition they deserve then share their work. You never know who might be following you. They might end up interested in someone’s work and be able to support them in any of the ways I’ve mentioned.

Whatever your main social media, follow your favourite creators if they have a profile there and share their content. If they don’t, post their work with credit and try to either include their @ from Instagram, Twitter etc or a link to the best place to view them. You’re a part of the media and, whether you choose to believe it or not, people listen to you and care about your opinions. They usually also have things in common with you, which is why they follow you. So chances are if you like something for whatever reason, some of the people following you will too! It doesn’t matter whether you have 10 followers or 10,000. You’re important to your followers and to the people you amplify and share the work of.

vegan-as-fuck-mug

As well as purchasing items from my store, you can also support my other projects by donating via PayPal or pledging via Patreon. Patreon pledges start from just $1 a month (around 80p)!

MrCryptSwingTicket

Allowing Yourself To Rest

 

Going back about as far as I can remember I’ve struggled with sleep. I’ve never given it much thought because I always just kind of got on with things regardless of how much (or how little) sleep I was getting.

Through therapy I discovered I might have a phobia of sleep. Anyone who follows me on Twitter will regularly see me awake and posting until I basically can’t stay awake any longer. I fight it for as long as I can and I find my anxiety levels massively increase if I reflect on how long I was asleep when I wake up. This is exacerbated pretty intensely by my medication making me drowsy and needing to nap quite regularly. It resulted in a small crisis the other night when I felt like I was letting myself down by not being awake at the most opportune times for me to advertise work to people (I’m yet to find a free Twitter and Instagram scheduling app that I like using).

For months, maybe even a couple of years now, I’ve been obsessed with the idea of not needing sleep because it somehow means I’ll be less successful if I sleep as much as I need to. Reinforced by the amount of people on social media who talk about how they’re always grinding/hustling/working, I find myself comparing my perceived work rate with how those people present themselves, which is very understandably detrimental in both how it impacts my mental health and my overall motivation levels.

Shortly after my crisis, I was awake and writing the blogs I posted on Thursday and Friday until around 4am. I tweeted after finishing those that I’m starting to realising it’s more to do with how we use our time when we’re awake. The next day Gary Vee posted the image below.

gary-vee-motivational-sleep-quote

This made me realise that, at times, sleep isn’t “avoiding The Hustle” but is instead part of it. How useful am I to myself, to my creative process, to my marketing approach, if I’m depriving myself of sleep? Constantly being awake doesn’t somehow result in success. If you’re awake for 20 hours a day and can only manage to concentrate well enough to complete four high-quality hours of work, then by many people’s definition of The Hustle you’ve not utilised those remaining 16 hours.

At present I’m sleeping around 8-12 hours a day but still managing to fit in 5-8 very high quality hours of work-related output. Right now it isn’t always things my customers or followers will see, I’ll be making lists, researching new distribution channels, new suppliers, new product/packaging ideas. I’ll sometimes spend a whole day just thinking about how to act next. To me, that’s adding value to my brand. The changes I made, which I detailed the other day, came from social media engagement and a whole day of thinking of ways to act on the responses I received and conversations I had.

It’s taken me a while to reach this point, but I’m trying to remind myself not to shoehorn myself into a routine that doesn’t suit me just because it works for somebody else.

As always, if you want to support me you can do so by subscribing to my Patreon page, where you can pledge from just $1 a month (around 80p), donating via PayPal or by purchasing through my store.

MrCryptSwingTicket

Future Plans For Mr Crypt!

Here’s something I haven’t mentioned on my store yet! My future plans for Mr Crypt’s Curiosities.

Let’s go with the obvious stuff that I’ve discussed previously. I’m currently planning a podcast with my mate, Paul. We’ve had a few chats about it and we’re slowly working out what we need and getting everything lined up for it. At the moment it sounds like we’ll loosely try to stick to a topic while Paul gets increasingly frustrated at me for constantly going off on tangents. It’s going to be a lot of fun.

The details of this blog post as well as yesterday’s will end up as a series of videos up on YouTube too. Each section will have it’s own specific video so you can watch whatever’s most relevant for you rather than skipping through to try to find the right part. I’ll also be uploading the same videos to Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. I plan on making more video content like time-lapses of me making new products. I’m still getting used to it but expect more soon!

As for products, I’ve got some ideas for bamboo and wooden items that have been laser cut and engraved. These include phone cases, keyrings, toothbrushes and even some “prints”. Some of these items will be limited in number but I’m very excited to get them made. I’ve spoken to my potential supplier about providing me with some engraved faux-leather wallets too, but that needs some more research.

On top of those, I’m also looking into getting some patches, pins and badges made. It’s generally a matter of affordability. In an ideal world I’d be able to order everything in at once for a totally new range but we’ll see what happens there.

And finally, I’m looking into improving my packaging situation. I currently send items out in plastic postage bags with loads of sellotape etc and I hate it. At the moment it’s the most cost-effective way to do it so I’m using those up while I look into more sustainable packaging options. Any help in regard to that would be much appreciated. My aim is to be totally plastic free in terms of products and packaging by the end of 2018!

If you want to support these plans and ideas you can do so by subscribing to my Patreon page, where you can pledge from just $1 a month (around 80p), donating to via PayPal or by purchasing through my store.

I’ve Updated My Store!


If you follow me on Twitter may have noticed I’ve mentioned some updates on my store recently. As well as them being there I figured I’d give a brief rundown of the main things I’ve added and the reasons why.

I’ve found Eric Thomas’ videos and stories hugely motivational and driving for me to improve and find ways to succeed and thrive in all aspects of my life. Knowing January was around the corner I started to think of how best to utilise the time I’d have available and remembered one of the first videos of his I watched. The title is “Work On Your Work” and is available below.

Having seen that, and with that phrase resonating with me for so long, I decided to take a step back and evaluate my brand. What am I doing well? What can I improve on? And, perhaps most importantly, does my brand reflect me as a person? What can I do to make my brand stand out that isn’t just chucking some swearing on a mug?

Payment Options & Reserving Items

The first thing I thought of dates back to a thread I did on Twitter in August. I feel like that page and the thread sum things up quite neatly, but if you don’t want to click away here’s a quick rundown of the feature.

– I’m happy to take payments via PayPal or bank transfer, but at present I’m not sure how to implement a way to make nominated payments using card details. I need to check safety measures with Big Cartel first.
– This function is available for ALL products available at Mr Crypt’s Curiosities. Want to send £10 a week to pay for a £100 woodburn? Go for it! Want to send £2 a month to pay for a mug or phone case? Send away!
– All payments are non-refundable apart from in exceptional circumstances.
– All conversations will be kept private and I’ll attempt to tailor things to meet your requirements.
– I don’t post anything out until I’ve received the full payment, including postage. This is simply to cover myself, as when I first started this business I used to do commissions without taking deposits and had three people ask me to make them something but they never paid.
– Underneath each product listing on my store (and elsewhere) there’s a tab clearly marked for PayPal contributions. Once you’ve sent the payment I get an email detailing who sent the funds and how much they sent. I don’t get any notification about which item it is in regard to. Please contact me to let me know what you want to reserve and I’ll mark it as sold out so nobody else can order it before you’ve paid for it!

One of the major benefits of this function is that, as a small business, I’m able to make my work as accessible to people as possible. This includes people who, for whatever reason, have limited finances. Everyone deserves to own stuff they like and want and I’m hopeful I can make that happen for more people by introducing this!

Commissions & Custom Orders

This one feels fairly straightforward but it bears repeating. For the time being, all my printed items (mugs, phone cases, coasters and keyrings etc) are customisable to a degree. There’s already an option to order a custom keyring, but not for the other items. However, if you have a custom phrase or idea that you’d like me to make for you just let me know and as long as I have time I’ll be happy to work it out!

traditional-tattoo-shark-keyring
Some of the more complex designs for phone cases and mugs might come at a higher cost if it takes more time for me to finalise. Probably best to ask me about that and we’ll discuss it before you commit.

the-great-wave-of-kanagawa-handpainted-ukulele

As for commissions, you can see all the stuff I do and make over at my Instagram page. My commissions open/closed information is usually displayed wherever I remember to change it on social media. I only close it when I get too busy with additional projects, if my list gets too long, or if I somehow find myself on holiday at some point!

If you’d like me to draw, burn or paint something for you, drop me a message with your budget and your idea and we’ll take it from there. I’ll usually request 50% of the quoted price as a deposit before I begin working on anything.

Name Changes & Dead Names

This is my favourite new addition because it’s such a simple thing and it can mean so much to people. Simply put, if for any reason you want or need to change your name because it doesn’t match your payment information (particularly in the case of people who may not be able to afford, or may not be old enough, to legally change their name) then just message me.

You can contact me to update it via your preferred social media channel, through the contact tab on my store, by updating your billing information or by making use of the order notes as you complete your payment!

For some of you it might be the first time you receive something in the post with your changed name on it, and although this is in no way about me it would still be amazing to be a part of it.

Support

If you want to support these plans and ideas you can do so by subscribing to my Patreon page, where you can pledge from just $1 a month (around 80p), donating to via PayPal or by purchasing through my store.

Heavy Music

We’ve all described a band as “heavy as fuck” because they play really fast and loud, the vocals are indiscernible and the drums are mainly blast beats and double bass pedals. Heavy heavy heavy. Fast fast fast. Shouty shouty shouty.

Based on these criteria it’s really no surprise that people tend to exclude the likes of Radiohead and Björk in their lists of heavy artists. However, if we reconsider what it takes to make music “heavy” then they definitely can be at times.

In_Rainbows_Official_Cover

When I saw Refused (I’ll try not to mention this much but I’m still buzzing from it) they were supported by Anna von Hausswolff. I wasn’t sure what we were expecting, having never listened to her before, but her performance was certainly an experience. In hindsight I did really enjoy it but at the time it was all a bit of a shock to the senses. I’ll try to describe her style of music as best I can. Say, for example, you’re watching a horror film. It’s set in a forest. It’s just starting to get dark and the main characters are about to encounter a whole world of awfulness. A song begins to play to add further tension. You think to yourself “Oh shit, someone’s about to die in this film.” One main character watches another die and survives to carry the burden of what they’ve seen with them for the rest of their life. Even this doesn’t do Anna von Hausswolff’s music justice but I’m sure you’re at least part of the way with me in understanding. My brother described it as “Disney doom.” It carries hope and loss at the same time, the sort of music that could be played to lament a loved one.

maxresdefault

It was heavy as fuck. Drone-y, in a good way, and at times the tone of the organs and keyboards filled me with a dreadful weight. That weight in itself is what I sometimes refer to when I say a band or musician is heavy, which is what I mean when I say Radiohead and Björk have their heavy moments. Their songs have a tendency to create tension and inspire an internal sense of longing and dread, and that’s far heavier than any blast beat can be. I’d class Videotape by Radiohead and Sæglópur by Sigur Rós as two of the heaviest songs I’ve ever heard (I’m sure I’ll think of others later on but for now these two demonstrate what I mean pretty much perfectly).

Sigur_Ros_-_-Sæglópur-

Despite this kind of music requiring a more focused form of listening (I find I can’t just have it as background music, it demands my full attention) I’m always looking out for more of this style. I guess you can also count Explosions In The Sky, This Will Destroy You and some pieces by Sigur Rós in this bracket. So please recommend songs or artists/bands to me. I’d love to have my mind blown and my head fucked a little more.

Seeing Refused

This is over a month late but whatever.

The Shape Of Punk To Come is my favourite album of all time. I don’t say that lightly, I’m pretty much the biggest music snob I know (something I’m not proud of but can’t seem to break from). I first heard it when I was about 14 or 15 – around 2002, fuck you, I’m old – and immediately fell in love with everything Refused were about. It broke my heart when I found out they broke up several years prior to me discovering them. I’d never get to see them live. Sad faces everywhere.

Then! In 2011! There were rumours of a reunion! Followed by an announcement that they’d be performing at Sonisphere 2012! I already had tickets for Sonisphere and the news had my dick so hard my knees almost burst. Happy faces everywhere. Then, because at this stage fate was deciding to just fuck with me in the most awful of ways, Sonisphere was cancelled and Refused were added to the Download line up instead. The people with whom I was meant to be going to Sonisphere couldn’t make Download, so my wait to see Refused live continued. Sad faces again.

They did a couple of other festivals after that, which I couldn’t afford to attend, but last year they finally released a follow up to TSOPTC. As soon as I knew there was an album coming I hoped for a tour. Freedom was released last June and a tour was announced. We got tickets. Happy faces. I was half expecting it to be cancelled and more sad faces but nope. I finally saw them last weekend, after around 14 years of waiting. My brother didn’t even have to wait that long to see Guns N Roses (albeit not the ‘real’ Guns N Roses if you want to be a dickhead about it).

IMG_s7hweh

The setlist was perfect, older tracks being combined sublimely with the songs from Freedom. They even found space for Coup d’État, Rather Be Dead and Life Support Addiction from Songs To Fan The Flames Of Discontent. As they closed with New Noise into Tannhäuser/Derivè, the atmosphere in the room was electric. From front to back, the whole room as getting into it either by singing along or by taking part in the pit with the oldest average age I’ve seen for a while.

Seeing a band live can sometimes ruin the magic or something like that, but The Shape Of Punk To Come is still my favourite album and Refused are still my favourite band. Happy happy faces.

Vegan aliens and a quick update

I feel like I should apologise in advance for this one, it’s pretty bizarre. A few weeks ago I tweeted that I’d had a dream about vegan aliens and a few people asked about it and it made sense to write about it here rather than make a thread on Twitter.

So you’ve already got the basics. It was a dream. About aliens. Who are/were vegan. They were your typical alien in terms of how they looked, which kind of annoyed me. I thought my imagination would at least interpret their appearance somewhat but no, just your standard “greys” doing their funky space thing. I don’t remember much about how they communicated but it wasn’t just body language and I don’t think it was 100% telepathic. Some of it was telepathic though; they projected an image into our minds of the future of our planet if we continued with our unsustainable practices with regard to animal agriculture, habitat destruction and insecticides that are harming pollinating insects. It was their aim to come to Earth and ask those of us already challenging one or more of these practices to go and live with them. We could stay if we wanted, so we could continue our efforts in striving for change on our home planet, or we could go with them to what seemed like a utopia with clean air and renewable energy.

I know this sounds really odd. I guess I was processing the mistakes made by humanity and imagining a world without them, in a way relevant to myself (which, of course, had to involve aliens). I say mistakes because that’s how I view them, in regard to the long-term health of Earth and everything living on it. It comes down to interpretation and which industries you support, if you even support any industry at all in their current forms. When I woke up it encouraged me to consider the longer-term effects of my decisions and actions. It also made me wonder if those who had made the decisions leading to our Earth being in its current state had been given an insight into the future like we had done in the dream, whether they’d continue with those actions or reconsider and attempt to find a more compassionate and sustainable approach. Obviously, some would change their minds and some would carry on regardless of any information that might persuade them otherwise. I’ve spent a lot of time recently trying to imagine what the world could be like if various decisions had been made, and how they would have affected the global economy as well as the planet on an environmental level. It’d take days to write down all the possible outcomes, similar to writing out all the possible numerical combinations for a lottery, only slightly more extrapolated to include knock-on effects.

IMG_20160413_183850

Anyway, back to the dream. What did I choose? I chose to stay. I’ve always tended to shy away from the easy way out, which is what I thought agreeing to go with them to Planet Alien would be. Vegans often refer to themselves as a voice for the voiceless, the voiceless in this case being animals (as well as the humans directly and indirectly affected by animal related industries). The aliens were only asking vegans to go with them, so what would happen to the voiceless on our planet once their voice is taken away, once the people fighting to improve conditions and life for them are taken away? Leaving seemed like a way of washing my hands of the whole thing and saying I’d done my bit and wasn’t prepared to keep fighting.

So yeah, that’s what happened in the dream. It was all pretty lucid and getting it written down has made me realise I’ve probably levelled up as a vegan in terms of my thought processes.

If you’ve had one similar drop me a message somewhere and let me know. Or let’s just talk about aliens.

May as well chuck some updates for work at the end of here:

I finished an Andrew WK woodburn piece the other day, which was lovingly shared by Andrew on Twitter and Instagram. It was really fun to do so I’m glad it got a good reaction. I’m happy to take on custom woodburn pieces or just consider suggestions for future pieces.

IMG_20160427_115652

 

I was recently at the Nottingham International Tattoo Convention, which was a great learning experience. I’m considering my next move in regard to tattoo conventions, and conventions in general. I’d love to try some music and craft kind of conventions, I’ve also had a thought involving a local vegan coffee shop but I’ll have to see what happens with that.

And finally, bee and mandala tote bags are now available at mrcrypt.bigcartel.com 🙂

IMG_20160420_170002

Have a great day and be excellent to one another!