Sunday, July 31, 2011

Three Medieval Swords & Late Medieval Sword



I have been wanting to combine some of my sword drawings into one image for a while, but I never tried until now because none of the drawings were to the same scale. I was afraid I would never get the images scaled properly. However, using GIMP, I managed to get three of my medieval sword drawings to approximately the same scale. At first, I was worried about the parchment-type background bleeding through the sword images, but I decided it actually gives the piece something of an antique look. Now my "Three Medieval Swords", featuring a Norman-era sword, a Great Sword of the 13th or 14th century, and an acutely pointed thrusting sword of the Late Middle Ages, appears on merchandise in my Zazzle store (the image used in the store lacks the caption and the frame).

In addition to adding an image which combined three of my medieval sword drawings, I also managed to add my "Late Medieval Sword" drawing to a variety of items in my Zazzle Store. This sort of sword of the 14th or 15th century, with its acute point, was designed to thrust through mail or through chinks in plate armour.

Items featuring both images can be found in the "Medieval / Swords" category in the Azure Lion Productions Zazzle Store.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Positive Response to Query, With a Catch

I already received a rather positive reply to the art query I sent out earlier today. It seems that the particular podcast site I sent the query to is indeed interested in having me doing some podcast cover art for them. However, the catch is that they are a community driven podcast, meaning no one gets paid.

Not that I want to make a habit of doing art for exposure only, but I told the art director to send a story my way and I'll see what I can come up with. I'm not opposed to doing art simply for exposure, on occasion. If this works out, it will be a brand new venue for my work. More eyes viewing my art is always a good thing. However, I would also like to get paid on a more regular basis. After all, that happens to be one of my current goals.

Anyway, more news on this latest art publication possibility as it develops.

Yet Another Art Query Sent

Sent yet another art query out. Will have to see if something comes of it. Sometimes, something does (that's how I ended up doing an illustration for the October 2011 issue of Strange, Weird, and Wonderful). Usually, though, I just get the old "like your style, but it's not right for us" (if I receive any reply at all). Being unique has its downside.

Dark Artwork in BETE NOIRE Issue #4

The issue is out, or nearly so, so I feel it's now safe to announce that my dark artwork "An Eldritch Herald" has been published as interior artwork in Issue #4 of Bete Noire. "An Eldritch Herald happens to be a fine example of my darker illustrative art, if I do say so myself. It also happens to be an illustration culled from my doomed-and-now-dismembered illustrated dark poetry collection. I'm especially glad when anything from that cursed collection sees publication. It proves my point yet again that quality, or lack thereof, had nothing to do with the fact that two publishers pulled out of publishing the damned thing; it was simply a matter of bad luck striking twice.

"Rapier", "Hanger", and "Viking Sword"

Azure Lion Productions Zazzle Store update: I added my "Rapier" drawing to a variety of items in the store. I also added my "Viking Sword" and "Hanger" (seventeenth century hunting sword) to many more items, including T-shirts, stickers, and various Speck cases. Previously, the "Hanger" only appeared on a tie, and the "Viking Sword" only appeared on a tie and a mousepad.

Willing to do Art on Assignment/Commission

BTW, I'm always willing to compose art (interior illustrations and cover art) on-assignment or on-commission. I've done it before (on-assignment, anyway), for a couple of different editors/publishers in addition to my recent composition for STRANGE, WEIRD, AND WONDERFUL. I composed the cover art for a couple of poetry collections published by Sam's Dot Publishing, several interior illustrations for stories and poems in FLASHING SWORDS and ABANDONED TOWERS, four different colouring pages for ABANDONED TOWERS, cover art on a forthcoming short story collection book to be published by Cyberwizard Productions, and illuminated letters and knotwork embellishments for a forthcoming poetry collection to be published by Cyberwizard Productions.

Of course, plenty of my unsolicited artwork has also been published, both as cover art and interior illustration, illustrating both my own works and the works of others.

Illustration to be in October STRANGE, WEIRD, AND WONDERFUL

Night before last, I got my illustration for a particular story sent my way for illustrating sent off to the editor of Strange, Weird, and Wonderful magazine. As always, I worried that the work wasn't good enough. Not to worry, the first word in the editor's reply to the illustration was "fantastic!". Last night, I got my bio and pic sent off to the editor. Now I wait for the contract. Anyway, it looks like I will be having an illustration in the October 2011 issue of Strange, Weird, and Wonderful. You never know, this may turn into a semi-regular illustrating gig. That would be kind of nice. Of course, I've learned enough about the publication world to not count my chickens before they hatch.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

My Art in the Strangest Places

I found that someone posted my artwork "The Unseelie Court" on a site without my permission. It appears alongside a textual reference to the Unseelie Court in an apparent alphabetical listing of fairies HERE (scroll down to the "u" entries. The actual image is HERE).

Now, it looks as if the site-in-question is a forum. Does that mean fair use applies? Perhaps, I'm not really sure. However, I don't see anywhere in the entry where the art is attributed to yours truly. It's hard to figure out the site's details; although the posting-in-question is in English, the site itself is in Greek.

Anyway, this does prove one thing; my art can turn up in the strangest places. It also proves that someone thought my rendering of the Unseelie Court worthy enough to appear in this listing of the fair folk, alongside Alan Lee's "Urisk" nevertheless.

By the way, in case there are any questions whether or not that is actually my artwork on the Greek site, "The Unseelie Court" appears on-line legitimately at Horror Bound Online Magazine. Previously, it had appeared alongside my poem "The Unseelie Court" in the horror e-zine Fantastic Horror, but Fantastic Horror is now dead and the site is no more.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Zazzle Now Selling iPod Touch Cases

Zazzle is now selling iPod Touch cases. After a two-day product-creating blitz, I now have something like thirty-four different designs available on iPod Touch Cases in my Azure Lion Productions Zazzle Store. There is everything from my "Anglo-Saxon" to my "Unicorn Enwreathed". There are designs inspired by history, fantasy designs, and even a couple of horror designs ("Tentacled Face" and "The Banshee"). There are now iPod Touch Cases featuring my "Shamrock Trio", my "Shamrock and Knotwork", my "Leprechaun", my "Irish Harp", my "Fleur de Lis", my "Scottish Thistle", my "Red Dragon of Wales", my "Red Rose of Lancaster", my "White Rose of York", and my "Tudor Rose".

As if getting all those designs on iPod Touch cases wasn't enough work, I also spent some time putting several of my sword drawings on return address labels. I almost doubled the number of return address labels available in my Zazzle store. Anyone interested in swords or arms and armour in general may be interested in my return address labels featuring various historic swords, from the "Viking Sword" to the "Scottish Basket-Hilt". In addition to the swords, I also have a return address label featuring my illustration of the "Poleaxe of Edward IV".

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Trolls, Trolls, Everywhere!

Apparently, the trolls on the net are not confined to forums, social networks, and on-line journal sites. Apparently, trolls bring their ugliness over to sites of business as well. Apparently, trolls may even show up on Zazzle!

I just deleted a rather "trollish" comment on the wall over at my Azure Lion Productions Zazzle Store. An apparent troll calling itself "davey" left a comment to the effect that I have a big head. The comment said nothing about my art or the merchandise featuring my artwork, which is the whole purpose of having the store, just an obnoxious reference to my personal appearance.

Do I need to change my profile pic to my blue lion or my Azure Lion Productions logo? Am I asking for such trollish comments by using a photo of my face? Have things become that nasty?

I consider my Zazzle store to be a place of business. It is not a playground. Anything inappropriate will be deleted asap. I will not tolerate any shenanigans over at my store.

By the way, I wear a size extra large hat, so I do indeed have a big head. I need a big head to hold all the stuff crammed in there! Still, leaving a comment on the wall of my Zazzle store pointing out the fact that I have a big head is not an appropriate comment to make at a place of business.

Friday, July 15, 2011

A Couple More Images in Azure Lion Productions Zazzle Store

Earlier this week, I managed to get a couple more of my artworks, "Unicorn Enwreathed" and "The Banshee", onto items in my Azure Lion Productions Zazzle Store. Both designs appeared previously on items in the now-closing Abandoned Towers Zazzle Store. "Unicorn Enwreathed" is an oldie but goodie. I sold it as framed art at a handful of arts and crafts fairs and the local medieval fair years before I composed illustrations for publication. However, it did appear in a publication; "Unicorn Enwreathed" accompanied Hannah Steenbock's story "Minkus, the Masterful Magic-Mender" in the November 2008 print issue of Abandoned Towers. "The Banshee" is a later piece, one initially created as an illustration. It originally appeared alongside my poem "The Banshee's Cry" in the on-line version of Abandoned Towers. Some of the items featuring "The Banshee" would be appropriate for Halloween wear or decor. I think the poster would make an especially neat, and unique, Halloween decoration.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

To Promote, or Not to Promote

I've been reading a lot of advice lately (mostly from writers) that self-promotion on social networking can be overdone, that promoting one's work too much amounts to spam, and so on. Well, in a somewhat different field, but still one related to creative pursuits, Zazzle encourages its sellers to promote their wares on various social networks. They have buttons on the pages of items that, when clicked, post links to those items directly on various social networks. They say right on their site that promotion is the key to selling on Zazzle (on their "Promotional Tools & Guides" page). Of course, they also warn sellers not to be "too promotional". Still, I think more writers should spend some time in retail, or something akin to the retail business, to get a better feel for promotion.

You want to sell? You are going to have to promote. It is as simple as that. In today's day and age, social networks, blogs, and even forums are part of an artist's (including literary artist) self-promotional arsenal (although many forums frown on self-promotion).

Personally, I would rather self-promote than not. I would rather get the word out regarding my publications and the items featuring my artwork, than let fear that someone will think me a horrible spammer keep me from getting the word out at all. I would rather let people know about my works than worry I'm going to be blocked as a spammer by some overly-sensitive soul. In terms of the Zazzle merchandise in my Azure Lion Productions Zazzle Store, I figure I'm never going to sell items featuring my artwork if no one ever knows about them.

If you don't like my self-promotion, ignore it. There is plenty of stuff out there that I don't like, or that doesn't apply to me, but that I simply ignore (like the dating site adds that pop up on various sites). It seems to me that it's all a part of having an on-line presence. I'm going to keep self-promoting on social networks and the like because there may be others that don't ignore it, because some people may be made aware of my works and wares thanks to my social network self-promotion.

Like I said, you want to sell, you better promote what you're selling. Neglect to promote it, and the public may never know about it, and may never buy it.

(Notice above how I slipped a promotion of my Zazzle store into this post .)

Monday, July 11, 2011

Unlucky Seven: Wizard Story Rejected Again

Remember that wizardly story I keep going on, and on, and on about? Remember how I said I thought it might face problems finding a good home? Well, submission number seven proved to be no luckier than the previous six. Yes, my wizardly story has been rejected for a seventh time.

I'm starting to think that I will never have much luck with my prose fiction, beyond a few 100 word drabbles and my single story longer than flash or a drabble published in the All Souls' Night 2010 issue of Hungur. I can sell my artwork, both in the world of publication and to the wider world on merchandise in my Zazzle store. I can sell my speculative poetry on a fairly regular basis, at least to some venues. I can even sell non-fiction on occasion. However, I seem to be having difficulty selling my prose fiction.

Oh well. I guess it's time to send the story back out. However, all this difficulty makes it hard for me to write more prose fiction. It wreaks havoc with my motivation. If my prose fiction is not going to sell, and if my time is better spent on things that will sell (art, poetry, non-fiction), why bother writing prose fiction? At least I'm not restricted to one thing.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

A Question: Previously Published, or Not?

I have a question for all you publishers and editors out there. Would you consider an artwork containing a figure (monster) that appears in an on-line gallery, but also containing other material (background and foreground figures) that has never appeared anywhere, as previously published? A yes or no answer, or one involving how much new material makes for a new artwork, would be more helpful than a general "depends on the market".

Basically, I'm wondering if I should go ahead with an idea I have for reusing some concept art I did, but I'm not sure if it's worth the work. If the artwork containing the previously-posted monsters would be considered previously published regardless of what else I add to the images, it might not be worth proceeding with my idea.

Moving on After the Great Disappointment

My artwork that was going to be the cover-art for the now never-to-be-published Summer 2011 issue of Abandoned Towers, "An Invitation to Elfame", has been sent back out. After the great disappointment I suffered when I found out that all the material I was going to have in that issue was not going to be published after all, since the issue was never going to be published, I'm hoping that at least some of the material will have better luck this time out. "An Invitation to Elfame" being on a cover elsewhere would be a nice start. After all, it was originally intended to be on a cover. That's what it was made for.

Anyway, that's what one has to do, move on after suffering disappointment, and hope for a better outcome the next time. Or the one after that. Or the one after that. Or...

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Two Poems Published in June/July APHELION

Two of my poems, one a reprint and the other previously unpublished, now appear in the June/July 2011 issue of the web-zine Aphelion. "Peg Powler", which was originally published in Issue 316 of Bewildering Stories, was inspired by the lore of the hag said to reside in the River Tees. The poem contains a nod to Shakespeare, in the fact that I ended it in a bit of rhyme. At times, for dramatic effect or to denote that something bad was about to happen, the Bard would use a rhyming couplet at the end of a blank verse speech or scene. "Death's Ship", the previously unpublished piece, arose from my wondering what the fourth horseman of the apocalypse would ride in space.

Check 'em out!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Where's My Controversy???

How come my poems touching on the potentially controversial subjects of abortion (Throngs of cast-off lovers hold / Never-born sons and daughters / Snuggled against bloodied breasts, "The Damnation of Daniel Brewster"), homicidal/suicidal sado-masochism (Naked / bound together / by rusty razor wire, / our bloodied bodies cry passion / and death, "My Final Masterpiece"), and bestiality (Some think / She's only my pet / I smile at their ignorance / Knowing she's truly / My mate, "Marriage of Earth and Antares"), apparently came and went without a ripple of controversy? I want my controversy, damn it!!!

(If that's what it takes to get a little attention around here.)

Maybe I didn't touch on the right controversial subjects. How to change that? Hm...

I guess I didn't offend the right groups with the potentially-offensive poems I mentioned. I may start offending the right groups, just to get attention.

(Yes, I'm being a bit absurd again.)

By the way, in case you were wondering, all three poems were published in zines. Two of them were published in more than one venue. "The Damnation of Daniel Brewster" originally appeared in The New Bedlam Project, Vol. 1 Issue 1, published April 2009. "My Final Masterpiece" originally appeared in the December 2008 issue of Niteblade, and also appeared in House of Horror, Issue #10, published April 2010, and the House of Horror Best of 2010 Anthology, published November 2010. "Marriage of Earth and Antares" originally appeared in Sounds of the Night, Issue 2, published February 2008, and also appeared in the September/October 2010 Issue of Aphelion.

Drabbles Accepted for THE DRABBLER #19

It looks like I will be having two drabbles in the 19th issue of the Sam's Dot publication The Drabbler. My drabble "The Abominable Snowman Snowless" has received an honorable mention in the Sam's Dot 19th Drabble Contest: Climate Change. Additionally, “The Stars Weren’t Really Right After All”, my second drabble entered into the contest, has also been accepted for publication in The Drabbler #19. (Yes, there is indeed a nod to Lovecraft in the second one.)

This means, come August, I will have a little bit more prose fiction out there, even if it is just two stories of one-hundred words each. It's a step ahead, even if it is just a little one (little step for little stories - get it).

"The Banshee's Cry" in DARK METRE Issue 6

My dark speculative poem inspired by the lore of the banshee, "The Banshee's Cry", has been published in Issue 6 of the horror poetry electronic newsletter Dark Metre. "The Banshee's Cry" was originally published in the October 2007 issue of the print horror magazine Sinister Tales (now deceased), and also appeared (from August 2008 on) in the on-line version of Abandoned Towers (possibly soon-to-be deceased).

If you didn't check out the poem previously, please check it out now. I think it's a good example of the sort of language I like to use in my verse works. I even managed to slip in "eldritch". Eldritch happens to be one of my favourite words, and it's possible connection to the realm of fairy (the root of the word may be Old English "aelf" + "rice", "elf realm") makes it an especially appropriate word for use in a poem about the "bean sidhe" (fairy woman).

When Art Offends or is Otherwise in Bad Taste

I've caught wind of yet another incident where an artist's (literary, in this case) choice of artistic expression has offended some, and made others declare that the publication of the work in question was in bad taste. While there may be valid reasons to criticize the potentially inflammatory nature of certain works, literary or otherwise, I can't help but to think that the creation and publication of such works is simply a product of the nature of artistic expression in a supposedly free society.

Freedom of expression in art means that, sooner or later, someone somewhere will find something offensive. Personally, I'm offended by, and don't see the artistic merits of, a portrait of the Virgin Mary adorned with elephant dung. However, I acknowledge the artist's freedom to express himself in that fashion, if he so chooses. Personally, I find a poem that might offend blacks, Jews, Muslims, the disabled, LBGTs, etc., to be in bad taste, but as an artist I recognise the poet's freedom to express themselves artistically in that fashion, if they so choose. If a publication publishes such a work, if they see artistic merit in it even though some might be offended, tough sh*t to those being offended. That is the price to be paid in a society that allows freedom of artistic expression. (Hate speech is different, but I don't think we're talking about hate speech here, I think we're talking about artistic expression.)

Plenty of people have undoubtedly questioned the artistic merit of my own works (I have been told by some that certain examples of my poetry aren't very poetic), but I have the right to express myself however I choose. I go where my muse takes me. I acknowledge the right of other artists to do the same, even if I don't agree with the path their muse takes them.


What gets me is that some creative/artistic individuals have a hard time when other creative/artistic individuals go in a direction that might possibly offend. Freedom of artistic expression means freedom to do just that, freedom to offend. Maybe certain publications recognise that fact, and take risks to publish potentially offensive material to present the broadest artistic view possible. Maybe they don't want to restrict themselves to one narrow view, to the course demanded by a few vocal individuals.

Freedom of artistic expression isn't always pretty, but it's better than the alternative. Restrictions on artistic expression because certain choices might offend is less than free.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Art on Cover of July BARDS AND SAGES QUARTERLY

Finally, a bit of good news!

My artwork "Elf and Troll" adorns the cover of the July 2011 issue of Bards and Sages Quarterly, which apparently just came out (it is now July, after all). Print copies of the zine are available for purchase on Amazon.com HERE. A Kindle version is available for purchase HERE.

If you take a look at my cover art, pay special attention to the leaves in the foreground, on what is supposed to be the forest floor beneath an oak tree. I was especially proud of the job I did on those leaves. They certainly took long enough to draw!

Maybe I should consider submitting my fairy-themed art that was to adorn the cover of the Summer 2011 Abandoned Towers, the issue that now will never be, to Bards and Sages Quarterly. I will have to think about sending it their way. Previous acceptances are no guarantee of future acceptances, but the powers that be at Bards and Sages Quarterly did seem to like "Elf and Troll" well enough. I think my "An Invitation to Elfame" is, in some ways, an even better piece of artwork, and it was designed from the start to function as a cover. "Elf and Troll" was not.

Time to move onward and, hopefully, upward!

Abandoned Towers Zazzle Store Closing

Along with the possible impending closure of the Abandoned Towers magazine, it looks like the Abandoned Towers Zazzle Store is indeed closing as well. The store has already been cleared of the merchandise featuring my art, as well as the art of other artists who contributed their work for use in the store. This is neither unexpected nor unwanted, at least by me.

At some point in the not-too-distant future, I will have to move some of the images of mine that were on merchandise in the Abandoned Towers Zazzle Store onto merchandise in my own Azure Lion Productions Zazzle Store. More on that as it happens. Stay tuned!

Poetry Collection No Longer in the Works (For Now)

At this moment in time, after careful consideration, I have decided not to go ahead with my illustrated speculative poetry collection-in-progress. As much as I would like an entire collection to call my own, as much as such a thing might be a step in the right direction in the realm of publication, I have my reasons for pulling the plug.

I will have to look more thoroughly into all of my publishing options (including the possibility of self-publishing). I may decide to continue work on the collection at a later date, or I may decide to set aside the lighter speculative poetry collection for now and go back to the earlier dark poetry collection. I always preferred the darker collection anyway; I think it had a more solid theme. I certainly feel that my darker works are among my strongest works.

I'm hoping to have a collection of my works sooner or later, but now it might be later rather than sooner.