Hello all, just thought I'd post a little update to explain what's been happening lately.
Firstly, no more beading for me for a while, as I've just had back surgery. It all went well, and now I'm out of hospital and recovering. I'm spending most of my time laid down, which doesn't lend itself well to making bead art, so I've had to chill on that front. It will be hard, but I just have to focus my attention on other things.
Like games! Finally I have the chance to work through some of the games I own but have yet to play or finish. My games room has a fold out bed, so I'm able to simultaneously play games and heal - WIN WIN! Last night I had a lengthy session of Wind Waker (GameCube), followed by a romp on Final Fight 3 (MAME, via XBox). Just this morning I was getting into some Eternal Darkness (GameCube), a survival horror I'd not played since it was first released in 2002. Good times.
The postman also brought me a couple of parcels of joy this morning. Firstly, my Friday The 13th T-shirt from London 1888 finally showed up, after I ordered it on Friday the 13th of Feb.
Yep, it's Jason Voorhees in the same colour scheme as the Nintendo NES game - the inexplicable purple and blue! I love it! I still think it's a bit crazy this game even exists on the NES, essentially a children's console.
Anyway, I think the order got lost in the system, as they only dispatched it once I'd emailed them to check on it a few weeks after I placed the order. Coming from the USA, these things can take time, but it got here eventually. I recommend you check out their website - there's plenty of really cool stuff there!
I also fed my Amiibo habit. Having picked up a couple of new ones from Tesco last week, I decided to grab MegaMan from Amazon this week, as I needed to order something else, and he was right there in my wish list, just looking at me. So here is a taste of the geek shelves in my games room now:
I have been tempted to buy more Turtles figures (I've got a problem), as there are similar sets for the 1990 movie version Turtles, as well as the 1984 comic versions. For now, I'm resisting the urge!
And lastly, I finally picked up the Christmas present my brother got me.
It's a canvas print of various classic Marvel comic covers. He did well, I'm glad it wasn't DC! I did think it was strange that Luke Cage and Hawkeye both have more than one cover shown, while Daredevil isn't featured at all. Not a big deal to be honest, I just thought it was odd, as Daredevil is one of Marvel's biggest properties.
Supporting one Back To The Future project this week was clearly not enough for me. After backing Back In Time the other day, I stumbled upon this project:
A documentary about fans restoring the original Delorean from Back To The Future, with a lot of input from producer Bob Gale. Couldn't resist it I'm afraid. Consider it backed by me, with the digital download and following poster - signed by Gale - on its way to me:
The next campaign is the only one I've blogged about but not actually backed. Call me stingy, but I had to draw the line somewhere. Anyway, it's already surpassed its target with 16 days to go, so I don't feel too bad.
This is the follow up to From Bedrooms To Billions, a documentary (also funded by Kickstarter) about the early days of the British Video Game Industry. As I've said before, the British game industry is a side I've not dabbled as much in, having never owned a Sinclair Spectrum or similar computer in the 80's. Ever since I've been able to afford games, I've always been about Nintendo, Sega and Playstation, with a few others thrown in the mix. I'll be interested to see this (and its predecessor) when it's done though.
As a nerd, I find it easy to appreciate the appeal of crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter. They give us the chance to make quirky projects come to life, and we get a little incentive thrown in to make us feel special. A good Kickstarter campaign will put some effort into the incentives, as they are a big reason for people wanting to part with their cash for something they may have to wait years to receive.
Here are a few Kickstarter projects I've backed in recent years.
A documentary about the worst controller ever made? I'm in. My participation landed me a free T-shirt, as well as a copy of the film too.
One man's quest to buy 678 NES games in 30 days. The only catch? No Internet shopping! I'm looking forward to seeing this one as it looks like a lot of fun. My rewards are as follows:
Another one that was successfully funded, this is a nice coffee-table book all about the SEGA Megadrive/Genesis. My pledge got me a copy of the book (complete with contributor credit at the back), as well as this sweet blueprint poster of the console:
All I need now is another house so I can have some wall space to display this beauty!
Another one I couldn't resist, being a fan of videogames, art, and books about videogame art. I haven't received the book yet (they had issues with the printers, but they're back on track now), but I have received my amazing incentive: a framed and mounted arcade marquee title sign in the style of the ones below:
Beautiful aren't they? After much deliberation I settled on a Tron sign, and again, now I just need a bigger games room so I can hang it.
This one isn't on Kickstarter anymore, as its original campaign was funded before I found out about it. It later showed up on Fanbacked, looking for "Finishing funds" so I hopped on the bandwagon then.
And now my latest pledge, backed just last night! A documentary about Back To The Future and its lasting legacy. I don't expect to learn much new, but it's always nice to see a fresh take on my favourite film and its sequels. They have participation from all the key players - the two Bobs, Christopher Lloyd, Michael J. Fox and many other cast and crew, as well as Secret Cinema footage from last year. And it's all to be released in 2015, a key year for fans!
My reward, other than a digital download of the film, is a signed print of the awesome alternative poster shown here. It's by Andrew Heath, an artist known for awesome artwork with nerdy, pop culture influence. Seriously, I'm going to get on Rightmove and source a house with bigger walls immediately.
This documentary hasn't finished funding yet, so you can still get involved if you're interested. I don't think it will have any trouble hitting its target personally, and there are many other awesome incentives to tempt you to part with your cash.
A couple of weeks ago I shared some thoughts on getting spam on Instagram. As irritating as that is, it's nowhere near as bad as being plagiarised. This morning I awoke to find a message on Instagram from a fellow pixel bead artist (the community is strong there), saying an account called crafty_since_1982 had stolen some of my photos and passed them off as his own work. I tried to have a look at his account, but it seems he's blocked me (funny that). Ever the industrious detective, I decided to have a look on my computer at his account, while logged out. This simple technique bypassed the block and let me see the evidence for myself.
So, ladies and gents, I present the pictures of mine that crafty_since_1982 has ripped off, next to the originals!
The asshole got 195 likes for my work! And he claimed to have sold it for $20! What an idiot, the beads alone cost more than that, not to mention the frame and the many hours I spent making it. So at least he made a loss on his fictional transaction!
So, what can be done about this kind of behaviour? I've decided to be more stingent with my watermarking. Clearly, having my name where it can be cropped out has been taken advantage of by a shady individual, so I'm going to have to put the watermark over the actual art. It's a shame, as I think this detracts from the visual effect, but it looks like it will have to be done.
It doesn't bother me when someone makes their own versions of art that I've done. I'll happily share designs with others, even if the design is 100% my own. The designs above aren't even my original work, they're all freely available on the Internet. I would never claim to have designed, or made something that I hadn't. What annoys me is the laziness of just stealing someone else's photos and taking credit for the hours of work I put into creating them.
I've reported and blocked this account, and posted on Instagram to raise awareness among other beaders. Already, others have found their work on his account, and are also taking action. As sad as I am that this has happened, I'm glad it's been brought to my attention, and that I've been able to bring it to others' attention.
And by the way, I've been referring to crafty_since_1982 as a "he" for ease of writing, but I'm fully aware it could be a "she" :-)
Recently I decided to uphold the integrity of Caveofpixels.com, and not bow to corporate sponsorship. I received an unsolicited email from a company who wanted to buy advertising space on my site. “Intriguing”, thought my industrious brain, which would have smiled an evil smile, had it been capable. Money for nothing? Sign me up! So I read on… and the company they wanted to advertise were specialists in… wait for it… novelty shotglasses. Consider me gutted. There I was, hoping Capcom or Sega had read my blog or seen my artwork, and wanted a slice of the pixel pie, when it was really just a random company with not even the smallest thematic link to my site. So I politely declined, for the good of the site, not my wallet. And I didn’t even ask how much they’d pay!
So I remain a broke artist, all in the name of not selling out and cheapening my brand. Until Nintendo calls, anyway!!
This week I’ve been getting to work on my Back To The Future collection. These will all be for sale, with all proceeds going to my Beads For Parkinson’s charity fundraiser. Here are the latest pieces:
When these are finished and framed, they'll bring the count up to 5, so then I might start allocating prices and putting them up for sale. So far it's been all Back To The Future Part 2, but don't worry, there will be more from the other films added soon!
Recently I've been reading a lot of books about videogames. By recently I mean over the last year, and by a lot I mean I've read two, but some of us have more important things to do than sit and read like complete nerds! Some of us have pixel bead art based on retro video games to create...
So, the two books I'm going to talk about are slightly related, in that they cover the same era of gaming - the 80's and 90's. This was my time, when videogames were the most amazing thing in the world in my eyes. While I was never allowed a console that plugged into the TV, I was allowed a Gameboy (that I had to save up my pocket money for), and I played that thing into the ground. Anyway, onto the first book...
Service Games: The Rise and Fall of SEGA by Sam Pettus
This book is mainly for Sega fans only. I must admit, I struggled with parts of it, and I'm genuinely interested in the company and its history. I think the main problem is the way the book is put together, kind of like a school project or textbook. Each system, add-on and development is covered chronologically, with accompanying black and white photos, and technical specifications at the end of each chapter.
Personally I found the rise to success very interesting, but the decline, starting with the 32X and culminating with the Dreamcast, fascinating.
While there are many interesting facts and stories, the book is let down by its overall quality and presentation. The paper feels too thin and flimsy, and spelling mistakes litter the work. It just feels more like a textbook than a book you'd read purely for pleasure. If you can look past these aspects, and have an interest in Sega, or even just console gaming from back in the day, then you might want to consider this book.
Console Wars by Blake Harris
Slightly higher profile is Console Wars by Blake Harris. Currently being worked into a documentary and a feature film, the book covers the Nintendo Vs Sega console battles of the 80's and 90's. After touching on the history of each company, the book delves deep into the battles between industry behemoth Nintendo and plucky underdog Sega.
And this depiction is part of the problem here: the book feels very biased in Sega's favour. The main protagonist is Tom Kalinske, then CEO of Sega of America, and the book charts his first foray into the games industry with Sega, his efforts at bringing Sega up to compete with Nintendo, and then his attempts to keep Sega of Japan from squandering all their good work. It's an interesting insight into the high level dealings that helped shape my childhood, but I wish there was more input from Nintendo. Whether they were less forthcoming or not, Harris seems content to paint them as the bad guys holding retailers to ransom and not doing anything inventive (Super Mario World is the target of some unfounded criticism here). Meanwhile, Kalinske is essentially Robin Hood, insisting on the low price mark of the Megadrive, and that Sega's best game at the time - Sonic The Hedgehog - gets thrown in as a free pack in game.
The other problem is the expository conversations in the book. While it is made clear early on that a lot of the conversations are reconstructed from various accounts over the years, they aren't always written down convincingly. Harris tries to shoehorn as much exposition and descriptive writing into conversations, making it come across as highly unrealistic that anyone would actually talk that way. This, coupled with the fact that Kalinske seems to never do anything wrong during his six year stint at Sega of America, makes me question the integrity of the story as a whole.
But it is quite a tale, and I found the insights into the marketing methods particularly interesting. By the end of the book Nintendo seem to have learned a lesson and changed their ways for the better, becoming a company more responsive to the needs and wants of the consumers and industry, rather than just dictating from up high.
This book is well worth a read, as long as your literary standards aren't too high. The writing can be clunky in places, and cliches are thrown around like Donkey Kong's barrels, but the story will hold the interest of anyone remotely interested in a little gaming history. Skip the foreword by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg though - it's literally a conversation that predictably veers off course and adds nothing to proceedings, other than a name or two to help book sales.
My latest book is called Grand Thieves and Tomb Raiders, and is about "How British Videogames Conquered The World". I'm only a few pages in, but already it seems professionally written, and is covering an area of gaming that I'm less familiar with, despite being British. And after that I'm planning to read Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. I don't usually read fiction, but this one has had so many good reviews, and seems so up my street that I can't resist!
I'll report back when I've read these books, in a year or two.
My name is Iain and my addiction is making pixel bead art. My main inspirations are comics, video games and movies.