Wednesday, January 15, 2014

"MY-gration" + 5-Year Post


     Here's an anniversary retrospective roundup of all in sundry... five years ago today I started this blog with an "Opening Ramble" and 1,418 posts later, here we are (I remember back when 500 seemed to be an amazing number). What initially began as an experiment with documenting what it was like to teach a basic Beginning Drawing studio art course from an alternative educational perspective, has steadily become infected with funnies and now mutated to the point where it's a veritable smörgĂ„sbordof cartoons and miscellaneous artsy-fartsy. So much for disciplined focus and clarity of purpose... story of my life. But true to function following form, the blog did document some migrations from Maine, to Georgia, Hatcher Pass and then back home again, home again, jiggity-jig.
More mullings below the fold...

     Last year's shift in ratcheting back the frequency of posting has been both a boon and a balm: limiting myself to just weekends (excepting the occasional special event) meant a far saner and balanced rhythm - realizing I'm not so much of a blogger per say as an artist that blogs, a subtle but crucial distinction.
I'm still sticking to the Saturday = funnies, with Friday = frivolity and Sunday = longer, introspective pieces - or at least some commentary or repost (or those last two days might get flipped). Still maintaining a nice offering of behind-the-scenes process posts shuffled amidst the usual educational and occasional industry observations, with a decent number of random artist and events cropping up.Never a dull moment what with an endless stream of opportunities for participation and/or support in our creative community.

     One minor tweak has been instigating a new policy of only posting preview sketches or doodles on Facebook, then linking to finished pieces and/or process posts here. It can get to be a logistical juggle to keep straight what's been published where. Managing multiple accounts can lead to some spotty and uneven on-line portfolios, and consolidation and editing continue to be a noble goal. Based on my eternal struggles with storage wars, it'll be just that, a goal. Gotta have goals...

     One surprising observation, bittersweet and humbling in retrospect, was that the third most-visited page ever was a recent writeup/photo essay on the passing of our beloved Bird-Dog: really can't think of  better memorial to a friend than that. That post was eclipsed in popularity only by two perennial favorites: the coloring of Captain America, and a brief editorial on the decline & fall of a local militia leader.
     Search keywords continue to be  a source of amusement and mystery: Googled variations on the phrase "ink and snow" predictably tops the list, followed by keister island, musk ox, what makes a good art teacher, the 2nd Amendment and manatee. Go figure.
     Miscellaneous stats: visiting browsers are split between Internet Explorer (33%) and Firefox (30%), using a majority of Window OS (72%), compared to 18% for Macs. Other audience stats of interest are that 66% of y'all are in the US, followed by Norway and Poland.

h/t Pop Culture Mag

     Speaking of readers, over a couple hundred "registered" follower Ink & Snow through Google/Google+/Blogger and also the Networked Blogs Facebook feature. Mostly via Blogger and bookmarks I keep tabs on 160-odd blogs, the vast majority of which aren't frequently updated, but that's just fine - definitely something to be said for a quantity versus quality ratio.Compared to my own one-year and three-year milestones, I'm pretty pleased with the overall groove - look for another solipsist navelgaze on anniversaries when and if we get to a decade (for a great, grand summation on long-running blogs, read this essay by David Weinberger via BoingBoing).

     The ticker on the blog's front page says over 100k of unique visits, versus the internal Blogger stats which say well over twice that number. That difference can be attributed to the website being inundated at the beginning of the year by spam bots: when the hits started to skyrocket to 300-500 visits a day, something was up - and eliminating trackbacks resolved the issue. So now traffic has stabilized back to a steady couple-hundred visits a day/6k per month. In reality there's about six regulars who faithfully show up every posting (you know who you are). Catering to a large demographic and increasing readership by appealing to the lowest common denominator is as big of a going concern with this blog as it is with my cartoons. Which is to say, toiling away in relative obscurity is more of a blessing than anything else... I'm just glad you're here.

     The pencil piece "#2" was a good one, as was the homage to "Ding" Darling. I miss doing more in-depth reviews/interviews, which I'll aim to address sooner than later. One of the better series here has been more of a focus on the "process" posts: the objective appraisal of works-in-progress and watching over my own shoulder so as to better translate the behind-the-scenes activity with any given project, be it a single-panel gag or a piece for a commercial client. The definite highmarking in that regard was hit with all the surrounding work that went into "Marketing," especially the resultant tutorial.

     Other personal favorites along those lines would include "Raft," "No Pants," this year's Xmas panel "Stocking Stuffers." Incidentally the latter one would probably be my personal vote as to the "best of" cartoon to date, but that perspective always seems to change pretty quickly, sometimes with each new creation. That cyclic disaffection with old works might be one of the very reasons artists are always propelled forward - there's always something else, better, funnier, just around the corner or doodled out in the sketchbook. Though I must admit that it's pretty quickly reaching a saturation point as far as suspecting I sound like a broken record skipping CD: when I reach where I'm repeating myself I'll just stop, put down the mouse and walk away from the monitor, maybe compile and edit everything here into a book. It's like I always counsel my Beginning Drawing students: don't bother taking Intermediate or even Advanced from me, as ideally I should have been effective at imparting close to everything I know and have to say in just one semester - there's no shortage of other, alternative perspectives, methods and experience out there to take advantage of, and not just limited to a classroom or studio. 

     As a footnote, a few of my favorite local blogger sites continue to be the politics + photography at "Wickersham's Conscience" and I enjoy the musings of "It Come To Me In A Vision." Statewide, "What Do I Know?" is kickin' it as usual with dependably engaging, informative and diverse topics, the platinum standard of bogging in our state, and "Frozen Grin" ranks my best for art blog in Alaska with some outstanding accomplishments this past year in particular. And there's usually some stirring of the waters over on my sidebar menu of links, with new talents continually coming on-line, and getting turned onto more resources for the comic craft and industry.

     There's lots of pigs in the pipeline, gradually inching their way up from draft and onto the page, so check back when you have the time. And as always, though I don't always remember to say it, thanks for stopping by, and hope it's worth a laugh.


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