Monday, January 08, 2007

January 8, 2007
I spent all weekend hunkered down in my studio working on the 12-page prototype for the Top Secret Project. Never even left the house. Scrambled and stumbled all day Saturday as I fell into an old I-should-have-known-better band trap: if you and your band have been practicing on old speakers or amps, do not go out and buy a new sound system for an important tryout or gig! The new equipment will invariably have wrinkles to iron out and you will get caught with your chops down. I've lived through this nightmare on more than one occassion, but evidently needed to experience it in another medium. The temptation to buy really good equipment for the big gig is such a stupid trap, because you have been practicing on something else and it's on that equipment that you have improved. Moving to another level, no matter how good you are, makes you start at the beginning, no matter how proficient you have become.

Last week I went down to Aaron Bros. and bought a bunch of huge, expensive artboard. I've been practicing and honing my art skills for over a year and now it's time to do the finals, so, like a big Doh-doh I bought big boards. Boards that I've never used before. What a classic mistake! All my loose washes, done in a 11X14" sketchbook format, have now been transformed to a giant board (22X34"). I didn't even have a desk big enough to work on, so I ended up painting on the floor, on my knees ("Buddy, back! Back! Don't you dare walk on this! Buddy! I mean it!") I soon felt like a grade schooler in a Masters level art class. Fumbling and mumbling, I struggled through, kicking myself and swearing profusely ("You f#@king idiot!") over and over. I only managed to redeem myself by going over to my other art desk and whipping out a series of small watercolors, easily moving and grooving. It was then, and only then, that I realized I had stumbled into the classic band trap—in another medium. Ha.

Too late, though. I got up Sunday and found several passages worth pursuing, so I put another day's work into it. This is dicey (and ridiculous!) because I've got to get 12 pages in the can by Feb. 1, and I've just spent two full days on one page! And it's still not done!!!!

In spite of this, I managed to have a financial meeting with Kathy to go over the Bisbee Budget. Let's just say, the painting went better.

Advice for niche mags like us
Meghan Saar forwarded me an article on the latest shakeout at Time magazine. Here's two paragraphs that hit us where we live:

"Print publishing is becoming a business built on rich people who read. Information that can be digitized and commoditized, like the kind of data that weeklies historically traded in, ends up being consumed on the Web (at, Mr. Stengel hopes).

"Magazines that are prospering now offer an environment that cannot be replicated online. You cannot open your browser and have an experience akin to the September issue of Vogue, with its hundreds of pages of brutally trendy ads mixed in with aspirational articles. The thingness of a magazine, its physical properties, have become increasingly important."

With our photo layouts and rich, colorful graphics I think we are achieving this, at least for now.

Onion Headline de Jour
Yet Another Media-Savvy Ex-Hostage Delights TV-News Producers

"Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results."
—Old Vaquero Saying

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