100

Yup. This is the 100th entry for this blog. I started it 2 years ago to shed light on my travels as an artist and business person. It's been a way for me to share and process what I've been making and thinking. A lot has happened these past 100 weeks!

Over the last couple months, however, I've had fewer ideas of what to talk about each week. My guess is because I'm also making weekly video tutorials and essays. So, now I'm only going to post on this blog when bigger things happen or when I have something I want to share. The blog has been great for me, regardless of how many people have read it, but I feel like it's had its moment. I want to focus on other things now.

So, in one final, self-indulgent post, I'm going to list some of the things I've talked about over these past two years. Thanks for reading, friends!

Your pal, Bailey

Be You

This week I'm gonna talk about my favorite subject in the world. But first, an update: I can't release some of the recent client work I've done, because it's still not official yet. I know I said I'd show it this week, but I can release it in like 3 days so it'll be live soon. As for this week, there's a cube dancing video at the end of this. :)

If you've spent even two minutes with me, then you know what I love to talk about: happiness. As far as I can tell, happiness is the only thing worth pursuing in life. If you're happy, truly happy, then you don't give a shit about anything else.

Quiting my day job was the best thing I've ever done. Ever. It's not like I was laying bricks before and now I finally get to do art. In fact, I was an artist who was able to work with some great artists everyday. But something was off. And there was a lot of bureaucracy I was dealing with. It wasn't exactly what I wanted, and it was eating me up inside.

Today, I'm still an artist, but the rules are different. And it feels good. Actually, it feels criminal to be enjoying it as much as I am. Every day is an opportunity to pursue my passions and experience existing. I've been thinking that life is like the world's best open world game. You can do anything in it. But unlike video games, in the real world you can actually go into any store, climb any mountain, and talk to whoever you want. There are endless speech choices and an infinite number of plots with boundless decision trees. Not to mention the scenery or the ultra HD resolution. And as for the personal and cultural expectations we place on ourselves? They're idiotic. There are no rules. We're all just making it up. Obviously don't harm anyone, but other than that...it really is boundless.

The point is that anything is possible. There are no excuses. You can do anything. You can become anything you want to become. There are people way less fortunate or able-bodied than I who are achieving ten times more than what I'm achieving. 

Yesterday I watched the movie Chef directed by Jon Favreau. The job situation the main character has in the beginning reminded me of the yucky stuff I had to deal with at companies. But then he goes out and starts to get what he wants...what he needs. I was really relating to this guy. But we all have this need, and it's different for all of us. I sure didn't like the particular system I was working in, and now I don't have to be in it. I get to choose more of what I work on, I get to collaborate with some killer artists, and most of all I get to take care of me. I've got a limited number of years left on Earth (if I'm lucky and don't get hit by a car), so I'm going to squeeze every drop of goodness out of it that I can.

So if you're feeling lost or even slightly frustrated, have heart and listen. That voice inside you is crying for a better life. It wants you to be you. And it will never stop pestering you, so you've got to listen to it because no one will do it for you. I learned that the hard way. That damn voice just wouldn't stop yearning for something better, so I had to go out and make a life for myself. I'm stumbling around just like everyone, but I'm doing it.

And let me tell you, the world is greener. Much, much greener.

Bailey

Learning

Ever wanted to know about the process behind making art and film? Well, now you can. Introducing LEARN, a new place at Forma Pictures where I discuss the inner workings of the craft from a no nonsense point of view. I've always hated "trade secrets" so I decided to start sharing what I can. I only have one resource to start, but the library will steadily increase. And if you have any suggestions, you can submit them for review.

Here's a quick 2-second boot-up animation I made for the MatterControl tablet, released by MatterHackers this week:

Next week:

  • Another cube dancing video, with a retro/nostalgic bent...if you were a child of the 80s/90s.
  • Animated music video (2 months in the making).
  • Some recent print work that I've done.

Bailey

Website 2.0

The website underwent some big changes this past week. There are lots of visual improvements, technical fixes, and even new features.

I decided to switch everything to a new CMS. I had been using WordPress since 2010, but it was time to try something new. The main reason I've done this is that I want to spend more time on the art and less time managing updates, new content, and struggling with PHP. It's hard enough for me to run a business, let alone trying to get contact forms to work properly. Lord knows I'm busy. So, I swallowed my pride and gave in to an easier, smarter life. :)

The blog now has a comment system, like capabilities, categories, and better sharing options. And if you'd like to get occasional updates on cool stuff, be sure to subscribe to the newsletter here.

Next week I'm launching a brand new section on the website that will focus on learning. I'm very excited about passing on whatever I can to new and experienced artists. So, look forward to that. It's going to be cool! And next time there will be a more elaborate cube dancing video (with some 80s music). There may even be some new client work too. I've been kicking ass lately, so there's a lot launching.

What's that? You want more? Oh ok, but only because I love you guys:

Bailey

A Big Year

Happy Holidays!

Well, I've slept about 2 hours in the past 40 hours. It's been a frenzy of family time, client work, and a mad dash to get a new cube dance finished (it's the most ambitious yet). But I enjoyed my Christmas, albeit with heavy eyelids.

It's hard to believe that I've been writing the blog for three continuous months already. And it's thanks to my friend for the idea. It's been good to force myself to release art every week. I have no plans to stop anytime soon, so keep coming back to see better and better things!

And what a year! It's been a truly great year for my career, and I don't say that lightly. I'll be brief... At the top of the list is that I quit my salary job and started my own business. It's the smartest thing I've ever done for myself because it has brought me so much joy. This year also was the most productive year I've ever had, having released more finished and behind-the-scenes content than ever before. And I've continued to meet and work with more great people!

Where is Forma Pictures heading?

Well, I've got more than a few projects queued up. More ideas than there's time for, as usual. Client work will remain an important part of my plan. But with Hunted (and more like it), Forma Pictures will begin to release its own content. It's going to take time, and 2015 will be a huge learning year.

Things to look for in 2015

Small, choreographed animations - Like the cube dancing videos and other expressions of intense musicality are forthcoming. I'll release these every two weeks.

More edited shorts - I love editing, and my series of re-edited movies will continue on. The 4th one is already in development.

Fortnight of Frames - This will be a two week romp of constant design and animation creation, with daily releases. It will be intense!

Continued Hunted development - Hunted isn't going away. So far there are three of us contributing to the project. Lots to do yet!

Improvements to site - Forma Picture's website has never been completely finished. I released it because I had to. There are aesthetic and back-end updates coming.

2-minute, animated company video - I'm finishing this in January, and I'll release it as soon as I'm able.

Secret project - I've had the opportunity to work with some great people on something I can't talk about yet. Hope I can share the details this year.

And without further ado I give you Mann Co. Party, the 4th in my series of Cube Dancing videos. I can't seem to place what it's an homage to...

Bailey

Billing the Hour

Today I'm going to talk about time tracking and what I've learned when it comes to billing a client for the work that I do. But first an update:

I'm doing a lot of client work at the moment. The rest of December and most of January are going to be very busy for me. I've been designing 2D stuff like cartoon people, dogs, trees, and other lighthearted things for a commercial. I may also post a photo of the print work I've been doing once it's printed.

Although I'm busy, I'm still making time for you guys. On Christmas Day I'll be releasing my fourth cube dancing video. It's gonna be the best one so far! And after that I've got content lined up for you for the next 3 weeks. Some concepts, some videos, and some behind the scenes. LOTS coming up.

The Billable Hour

There are a few different options when it comes to determining how to bill a client. There are flat rates, where you do all of the work for fixed price. And there are day rates (or hourly rates), where the end cost depends on how long it takes to do. I've done both, depending on the job.

For some design work, especially the smaller jobs, I'll quote a fixed price. I'm fairly confident in my estimations for jobs that take less than a week. But for the larger, more ambitious projects, I favor the day rate approach, which in turn is based on an hourly rate.

A typical 90-120 second animated commercial is a daunting task. There are so many steps, each with varying time costs. And depending on the complexity, it can take months and months to complete. And I never create something that's completely like what I've done before, so there is always an element of learning and exploration that adds to the uncertainty of the final cost. All of this means that, as a contracted artist, I need to keep careful track of the time I bill.

Contrary to what you might think, I do not start at 9am, stop at 5pm and call it a day. Billable hours, as they say, are only those hours where you were actively doing meaningful work for the client. Bathroom breaks, lunch breaks, and checking my email do not count. So, I have my iPhone sitting at the side of my desk with a timer. Whenever I'm painting, animating, or editing, I start the timer. But, say, if I happen to tab over to Twitter, I stop the timer immediately.

What I've found is that getting to 8 billable hours takes at least 9-10 hours of real time. And that's working pretty much non-stop. And when things like dinner are factored in, it can easily take 10-11 hours of the day to make 8 hours worth of money. So, a "9 to 5" doesn't actually produce a real 8-hour day. All the little, seemingly innocuous, things add up fast. A few 5-minute email checks leave me missing a quarter of an hour. And while I'm writing this blog, I'm not getting paid!

When I hear people say they get 16 hours of work done in a day, I pause. I certainly have no doubt that they were on the computer for most of that time. But to truly get 16 hours of real work done in a day is very difficult. Things like commutes, lunch, dinner, bathroom breaks, email checking, adjusting Photoshop shortcuts, chores, exercising, and reading up on the industry take time out of our precious days. Even if you eat while you work, you're not going as fast as normal. Not to mention any family time, entertainment, or getting a good night's rest. So, yeah...I often work from 9am to 2am. But there's no way I can bill a client for all of that time.

If you made it this far, here's an early, early concept I drew last year for the 3D Printing commercial I made. Is this different from the final look, or what? Just goes to show how much things can change over the course of a project.

A very early concept for 3D Printing: Making a Better Future. Very different from the final direction!

A very early concept for 3D Printing: Making a Better Future. Very different from the final direction!

A very early concept for 3D Printing: Making a Better Future. Very different from the final direction!

Bailey

The Life of a Freelance Artist

Artists have to make money. I wish I could just create whatever I wanted and not worry about finances, but I'm not there yet. Most of us are either working at a company earning a salary, or we're out hustling on our own, booking gigs, selling our art and earning a living that way. Right now, I'm doing the latter.

One of the things that's been most surprising to me since starting my business is how my perception of money has changed. I worked in an office for seven years. I earned steady income for that entire period, and I was never out of work. During those years, I didn't really think about money very often. As long as I had a job, everything was magically alright.

But now I think about money every day. It's what keeps this adventure going. So, I hustle, research, and strategize all the time. And when I sign contracts for paid work, it's a feeling like no other. Diving into the unknown can be terrifying, but completely invigorating. I choose to perceive this path as a series of opportunities to make my life the way I want it. And because of that, I feel very good just about every day.

It's important to note that I make every effort to keep my creative time free and clear of stress. It's hard to create when stressed. And if I can't create, I can't live. So, stress mitigation is kinda important. Luckily, I learned a great deal about stress management over the last seven years, and I'm still working to be better at it.

So, would I recommend this path to other artists? Well, it depends on what kind of person you are. It takes a lot of work, time, care, responsibility and discipline. That's just fine with me, because I relish that stuff. It does mean that every move I make matters, but that's why it's so great too. I get to be making the moves, not someone else.

If you're on the fence, think about it like this: you need to satisfy the priorities in your life that are specific to you. For me, this is what I want. I want control, responsibility, and opportunities for insane growth. It suits me, so I'm absolutely happier than I've ever been. But everyone has different intrinsic or situational needs. And they must satisfy them or risk being unhappy. And remember, good will always be the enemy of great (more on that here).

The best piece of advice I have is this: Listen to yourself. We're always subconsciously telling ourselves what we want in life. But do we have the courage to objectively listen, no matter what it says? It may not be easy to accept what we want. I wish I loved building rockets, but I don't so I won't be trying to work for NASA. And years ago, members of my family were upset with me that I didn't pursue a career as a dancer. They said I was throwing away my talent. But here's the deal: I didn't love it. If I had done it, I would have been throwing away my life, not my talent. So, I didn't do it.

I know that fear is the biggest de-motivator. Believe me, I've had my fair share of it. And it was because of fear that I resisted starting my own business. But when I remembered that the days of my life were falling away, like grains of sand, I knew I had to do it immediately. And I knew that I could fail, but I could fail just as easily not doing what I loved. In fact, we're more likely to fail at things that we don't love. And besides that, we can get a string of bad luck, no matter what we're doing. So, I implore you...do what you love.

It's worth it.

And now, for the dumbest yet in my super dumb series of dancing cube videos that I force myself to make quickly. They are not masterpieces, but they make me laugh while I'm making them, so that's something.

Your pal,

Bailey

CTN & Cubes

What a week! So much happened. I attended the CTN Expo, and had a splendid time. I saw cool art, enjoyed panels, learned, and became inspired. But most importantly, I met a lot of wonderful creatives. Honestly, I was delighted to enjoy the company of such genuinely good people. Overall I left feeling that the community is pretty great. Happy to be part of it! And, naturally, I have something to share. The second installment in my ridiculous Cube Dancing series...

Aaaand last week the composer for Hunted sent me the first draft of the score. We'll be working on adapting it to the story and vice versa. Yay! Music!

Bailey

A Plethora of Projects

Progress on Hunted will be slowing down a bit. The truth is that Forma Pictures has been involved in a slew of projects. As of this writing, I'm working on 3 short film projects (and a couple smaller ones)! Some are original IPs like Hunted, and the rest are being made with or for others. So far, this blog has focused on Hunted, but I'd like to open it up to the other projects as well. At least the ones that aren't confidential.

Showing the other projects will be a more honest representation of the growth of Forma Pictures anyway. Client work remains a core part of its business model. I've got a lot of irons in the fire, and bets on more than one direction. I'm exploring where financial success lies, while still staying true to my core passions of working with great people and creating genuine, music-driven stories. See Good to Great to learn more about the 3 circles (money, passion, best at). I want this blog to peel back the curtain not just on Hunted, but also on the growth of a business.

Never fear, however, because Hunted isn't going away. I'll always be working on it. It's my favorite "kid", and I'll see to it that it becomes a high-functioning adult. Here's a poster concept I recently did:

UPCOMING CONTENT

  • Next week I'll be releasing a new edited short. Remember Movie Magic? Well, get ready for more!
  • Also, be sure to check out my new series of short shorts (aka "tinies"): "Dancing Cubes." These are goofy, 5-15 second, musical animations. The first one is below. More are on the way!

TWITTER

If weekly updates aren't enough for you, be sure to follow me on twitter: www.twitter.com/bkalesti

I actually spend a portion of time each week carefully collecting and posting good content from the web that I feel is worth sharing. I promise I'll never tweet what I had for dinner, because who gives a ****. My twitter presence is just about the craft and the community. It's where I mention new stuff I'm doing that may not reach the blog.

Bailey