Finally, some Work Space!

Some aspects of the creative process seem inconsequential or not deemed necessary since the truly creative are willing to produce work no matter the circumstances, but there is one underlying theme between all overwhelmingly successful people : they had a place to work and turn their inspiration and perspiration into progress. Continue reading

Other Creative Outlets

We commonly think of the artist as one who devoted to his or her art. The creativity that flows is channeled into this stream of physical manifestation of their choosing. If you’re a writer, you catch the out-pour of your creative juices in a journal or a manuscript. If you’re an painter, your oils and acrylics are the medium of your soul. I think it’s very underestimating to assume this, yet, I can’t help but to feel that artists are always the least understood and most overlooked of all professions. The stereotypes live on and on and on. Continue reading

Feeling Inspired

Like I said in my last post, this blog is going to be a place where you get to know me and how I do what I do. If you already know me fairly well, you’d know that I actually worn out the original Star Wars VHS tape from watching it hundreds of times as a kid. One of my favorite toys as a kid was the Imperial AT-AT walker, which I saw in Toys ‘R Us the other day when getting my daughter’s new toy kitchen. I like science fiction and it inspires me creatively. I would not be able to count how many sketchbooks I have compiled throughout my youth of starships, weapons, aliens and other fantastical things that are Lucas inspired.

No surprise that I would be a big fan of the original StarCraft real time strategy computer game and it is no bigger surprise that I recently purchased the sequel that debuted a few weeks ago. Playing as the Terrans (which are the human race to the laypeople), I rip into the campaign, following the intriguing storyline that unfolds after every successful mission. The detailed artwork of each unit, the cinematic cutscenes and the wild “science” used in the plot really gets me motivated to do my own science fiction story, graphic novel, etc.

And yes, I do have a project that is started already. Years ago, I wrote part of a book (hundred or so pages) and drew some concept art for a novel that I was going to write that would be considered in the science fiction genre. I put it down after a year or so of eeking out a few pages every-once-in-a-while. Yet, I was never fully able to get the ideas and story out of my head. It’s as if I’m always toiling with this plot, rolling it around in my mind to play all the scenes and have it come to a epic conclusion. Now, I’ve considered moving the entire idea out of a straight prose novel into a graphic novel, utilizing my illustrating ability and make it a more visual experience. After all, isn’t that what George Lucas taught us, that a mediocre story can be better if we throw more visuals at the audience? Kidding. Not about Lucas though.

Well, I’d have at least a dozen excuses why I wouldn’t continue the project and at least a dozen more for why I haven’t finished it yet, but one thing seems to be constant : that my poor, single track mind won’t rest until it is done.

Open question for anyone who may stumble upon reading this post would be : What really gets your creative juices going for a self-project? Not only limited to visual arts, but to music, dance, hell, even wood whittling. Does seeing a bare tree stripped of its bark really get your knife going? What will it be, folks? I’m sure that I’m not the only laser-brain out there.

What is tomoddo.com?

Someone asked me about my facebook update the other day regarding the new tomoddo.com theme. He questioned what the website was about and why did I have it. It’s always the question that makes you scratch your head a bit. In this world 2.0, how can anyone not have a website? While we’re at it, why not have a facebook page and a twitter presence to complete your internet personality?

Everything has an endgame.

I’m not here just to rattle off self-promotional content and inflate my ego. This is my home base. Whenever I meet people in all walks of life who are interested in seeing my work or possibly having something designed, this is their one-stop shop to take a look at my previous work, my current projects and to really get a sense of my open personality.

I love to share and be open with my work. In that same spirit, I will organize some insightful links and post a tutorial or two on subjects or tasks that I run up against in my day-to-day business that could be helpful to other designers or people who are looking to launch print or web marketing campaigns. I’m not looking to get traffic to boost my AdSense revenue. I’m no pushy salesman either. If you want to work with me, I want to work with you!

- Tom Oddo

A Hiatus is in the Works

It’s been a while since I updated my own blog. Alas, my brand is suffering. My daughter is getting older (9 months now) and free time has slowly evaporated ever since she was about 5 months old. No longer can you just sit her down in front of her toys and NOT expect her to be on the other side of the room in a minute. I turn my head and she’s got my car keys headed out the door.

I’ve been concentrating my efforts on the company blog : Goldspot Pens. At almost at 100 posts from the blog’s creation in February of 2009, I’ve picked up over 160 RSS subscribers and get about 50 visits per day. This year, I’ve really stepped it up, going from about 4 posts per month in 2009 to about a dozen per month this year. Combined with promotion of the blog on the website, our Facebook page and updates on Twitter, we’ve developed quite a following.

My non-work time is continually a work-in-progress. We’ve tried the Mom and Dad Guide blog with no success in even getting out of the first two weeks with new content. I say “we” because, beyond me involvement in getting it started up and designed, my wife was supposed to be cranking out the posts, inspired by the little one’s development and exploration. Maybe when she’s off in the summer, you may start to see a resurgence from the prolonged hiatus.

Art-wise, I haven’t done anything. Looking to change that, I would love to spend next week, which I will be taking off, exploring some ideas for a series of designs that can be marketable on this website, Zazzle, Cafepress and the like. Besides taking care of baby, I will make it my priority to work on this and have something to show for it.

Inspiration and Creativity

Lately, I’ve been finding myself thinking about the blank page, or, in computer terms, the blinking cursor on a new document. Last weekend, I picked up a book at Barnes n Noble’s on finding your visual voice. I did the casual, poor man’s skim and put it back on the shelf, because I have some far-fetched notion that a thing like being visually creative can’t be boiled down and taught. And anyone who is a disciple of this book and uses it in creating their own artwork is a hack because they cheated. Everyone has to struggle mightily against that mental block and taking a shortcut is a violation of the inherent morality in art.

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New Year’s Design Resolutions

Looking at the year ahead, officially the first year of the new decade, I am taking an earnest inventory of my professional goals and the steps that lead to the completion of those goals. Making more money is on everyone’s list, but what method is going to be most effective? Most creatively satisfying?

When I went to college, the clear division between the fine arts majors (me) and the graphic design folks was the final product of our portfolios. The graphic design portfolio was a resume, proof that you had the skills necessary to obtain a job or earn someone’s trust to invest in a future project. The fine art portfolio turned out as a “product” that could be purchased or presented at a show.

The professional world for creatives is very similar. You can either provide a product or a service. Being a graphic designer for hire, a role that I have explored to some degree of success over the last year, is a service that I have provided based upon the client’s specifications. What I am considering is more along the lines of my entrepreneurial fine arts instruction, which is to create products within a body of work that can be sold on their own. I create the project and the final piece, available for mass consumption through the many online sale channels like Zazzle, Cafepress and Etsy.

  • Designing T-shirts has always been an interest of mine, and I have made a few printed designs in my time already.
  • Of course I would love to continue working with my current clients and seeking some interesting design opportunities.
  • Comic books are cool, but take a heck of a long time to write and illustrate.
  • Writing a novel has always been a dream, but also takes way too much time to complete.
  • Painting is out of the question – too small of a space, too many hazardous chemicals used around the baby.
  • Continue writing on this blog is a must, even if no one is reading.
  • Illustration or pencil / charcoal drawings are certainly possible. I am capable of a photo-realistic drawing style, which can translate into commissions.
  • Anything and everything else?

Of course, that’s the doing side of things. I am always a student of my trade and would love to learn more. Some items that I would love to research in the next year:

  • Establishing a business entity for being a freelance artist.
  • Legal issues surrounding copyright and contracts.
  • Gather some inspirational design / art books.
  • T-shirt printing – design and execution

So, as I’m putting together my list of resolutions, or goals that I aim to accomplish this year and I encourage everyone else to do the same. Happy New Year’s and God Bless!

Mediocre Articles Prove What?

A lot of content is out there on the internet. Almost too much.

It gets to be an issue when you are looking for some new, insightful articles and end up finding garbage. I subscribe to a lot of RSS feeds and a LinkedIn group for graphic designers. Graphic design articles are some of the most prevalent topics being written about on the internet. Tutorials, hints, tips and resources are very helpful to professionals and a great article is posted, reposted, tweeted and shared in every which way, generating tons of traffic, ad revenue or conversion clicks for the blogger. Some “professional” bloggers decide to share their knowledge on a topic, but all it represents is a thinly veiled attempt at trying to generate traffic to their website or shoe-horn as many SEO keywords as possible.

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NaNoWriMo – Embarking on a Journey

Or possibly failure in a handbasket. For the uninitiated, NaNoWriMo is National Novel Writing Month. It is an event that has gained steam in the last several years and I heard about it through the Twitter grapevine. From November 1st to the 30th, you have all day and night to scribble, type or scrawl (in blood, perhaps?) a novel of 50,000 words or more (roughly 175 pages). The NaNoWriMo site I linked is the one to which I am registered. It counts the words and gives you a progress bar to see if you are on your target pace.

I’ve always said I wanted to write a novel. The best shot I gave at it was about 30,000 + words on a science fiction novel. I felt it wasn’t interesting enough to write more about, so I stopped. This time around, if I have a support system of others who are doing the same thing and a really good motivating story to write, I think I’ll be able to do it. I happen to have just the story.

Since the contest ends on the day of my birth, I decided my topic, my story will be autobiographical in nature. I would prefer to have it off-the-cuff like a David Sedaris novel. Very informal, ironic, but intimately personal. That is what I know how to write best. The only problem I have with the whole project is the follow-through. This is a lot of work that has to be put in a relatively short amount of time. I have a baby, a job and a side gig to boot. How am I going to average 5 pages a day? I am thinking a lot of sleepless nights may be in order. I think it will be worth the intrinsic value of sorting my life, plus the accomplishment of completing such a feat.

To Tweet or Not to Tweet

Whether ’tis nobler to Facebook or to simply subscribe to one’s RSS feed? Yes, it’s 3am on a Sunday morning and I’m writing a post about Twitter. Don’t shake your head. People need to know about the tools that are out there on the web, no matter how enigmatic they may seem.

To properly explain Twitter, I think we Gen-Y’ers need to go back to the turn of the century when AIM (AOL Instant Messenger) was being religiously used to message friends on the internet. Two-words : Away Messages. Remember how creative we used to be with making our snappy, snarky, and suggestive Away Messages? You wanted your cyberspace friends to know that you were living your live as a free spirit, unchained from the computer desk. In college, as soon as we got back from class, AIM was launched and tens of minutes were spent rifling through every away message, searching for some nugget of wisdom or suggestion of boredom and procrastination. There is a need for our generation to know as much about others as possible without being as intrusive or expending the effort.

And that’s where Twitter comes in… Continue reading