Blowing the Doors Wide Open

Flight

Two weeks ago I announced my parting ways with Twenty20. While the wounds are still a bit raw, I feel it’s a necessary step to inform my most loyal following as to why this decision was made.

For some time now, not having control over the pricing of my own products has disturbed me. While I understood my parent company had to make some profit as well, I felt this was only hurting my customer base. After all, if everything I sell is overpriced, who is going to buy it?

The company made it clear this was an aspect that was not going to budge much. My customers always said my products were of pristine quality – so no complaints there. The high prices seemed to be the only concern a little less than a year ago.

How it Worked

Matters seemed simple at first. All I had to do as an artist was create. Easy, right? Wrong. Although they had the difficult part of transferring all of my designs onto the various products, they often changed bits of our agreement along the way. Over time more features were stripped away.

Before the significant changes the items for sale included: {canvases, photo prints,}(various sizes) prisms (glass art), apparel, greeting cards, throw pillows, iPhone cases, and magnets.

The Killing Blow

Late last year all artists that worked with Twenty20 were informed that our work would now become available via Digital Download. What this was dressed up to mean was our art/photography became accessible to vendors who wanted to purchase our designs for their own products. We were told we would retain all copyrights and other legal rights to our work. Sounds like a win-win, right? Wrong again.

What this really meant was our artwork was now vulnerable to these vendors seeking out original art and photography at a cheap price – royalty-free. For those that don’t know much about art royalties, what this basically translates to is the artist or photographer is paid a small sum of the larger profit for every single use of their work.

While we were lead to believe this was a vital change that we’d want to get on board with, what was actually being advertised to these third-party vendors was “Get high-quality digital art and photography *royalty-free*!”

I was furious.

However, after much thought and consideration I decided to deal with this change. Then, at the beginning of February, another change was announced via email.

Grand Opening, Grand Closing Flight

One chilly morning I opened up my inbox only to nearly spill my coffee on the floor due to what I read. The company heads sent an email stating that the future of the company was changing. The CEO announced that this shift would signal the end of all printed products.

That was the end for any hope I had retained for the company. My partnership with them was over. It wasn’t really a difficult decision on my part. My gallery has always been an integral part of CardCastles. The images along with my artwork helped weave and tell a story. That feature of this site was what everything else here was centered around. In fact, CardCastles itself was built upon the “cards” (memories, photos, artwork) themselves.

Restacking the Cards

Now that key content is missing it’s a clear question of where do we go from here?
I’ve decided to open up a viewing-only gallery (temporarily). As the description suggests, nothing will be available for purchase until (if/when) I can set something up with future vendors and/or sites.

Depending on how I set this gallery up (*Most likely a separate portfolio site) You will be able to leave “likes”, share, and use, so long as you link back/give credit to me.

I look forward to rebuilding this part of CardCastles for you. It’s been far too long already.

Thanks for visiting and coming back, as always.

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The Tale of Two Roads

“You need to find the fork in the road where you split.”

A wise individual once spoke these words to me. For those that may not fully understand my old friend’s city slang, allow me to translate.

It was a time in my life where mistakes became a daily occurrence. What my friend tried to convey was I needed to find the point in my life where I went wrong. I had to begin trying to correct that and everything else. Nearly ten years went by before the cleaning process began. I knew I needed to change. Life had beaten me down at such a young age. I sure wasn’t treating myself with respect either.

There was a bright end to it, somehow. I fixed myself; cleaned up my act. Still, we could all make improvements.

Lately, I find myself back at that same point. Even though I’ve treaded miles from the person I was before, I still need repair.

I need to find the fork in the road where I split. The staggering realization hit me that I still haven’t found it. Will I ever find it? Or am I doomed to the same dreaded existence I’ve known of so many others.

This is just my busy head speaking into typed words. This is a peek into my thoughts. My insecurities scream if I let them.

 

________________________

Author’s Notes: This is merely my way of venting. I don’t want anyone reading to worry about me. I’m doing fine. I’ve just been having a bit of inner struggle lately and writing has always been a coping mechanism. Writing is my strongest therapeutic tool. When you are going through something, try it out. You don’t have to be a writer. Journals/diaries keep us mentally healthy at times. Your mind is just as important as your body.

Tales From Our First Crappy Apartment

Why Don’t You Just Leave?

We’ve been in our apartment now for three years. Some of the surprises we’ve dealt with are by no means new. Part of the disasters we shrug and laugh at, others put us on the verge of a nervous breakdown. The average friend or family member will ask us, “Why don’t you just leave?” and we reply that it’s easier said than done. We have a four year old son and need a two bedroom. Around here, that sort of luxury doesn’t come cheap. Not to mention, coming up with a security deposit for a new place, moving costs, and the entire headache that goes with it. We’re simply just not ready.

A few nights ago what seemed to be the last straw for us happened. There was about five inches of rain that fell in roughly a two hour time span. I kept checking the windows and every known crevasse for water. Something in me just knew it was going to come in.

“We’re Going to Need a Bigger Boat.”

The funny part is, we went through two massive hurricanes, and not a single drop of water entered our space. This time was different. This time the water neared so close to our windows I was anticipating them giving out and just letting the gigantic pools rush right in. Instead, much to our surprise, the damage was not noticed until the following day. My other half walked into our closet to hang something up and remarked to me that there was a sopping wet mark on our carpet in there. Slowly, that sopping wet stain became another, and another, until our closet was virtually filled with dirty water. It soaked the carpet and its padding underneath.

Our Saturday night was not spent laughing or watching a movie together. We didn’t go out and I didn’t get an early start on my work. Instead, we spent it ripping up the mildew and flood soaked carpet and padding that by now absolutely reeked.

Time Waits For No One

After an extremely rough week of other life headaches – this was the last thing we both needed. Rewind back to Saturday morning, when we first started speaking of doing all of this ripping up and cleaning. My neighbor upstairs also got a ton of water in her apartment. It’s anybody’s guess how. She’s on the middle floor after all. Still, as she was getting her entire carpeting replaced – the workers were banging so hard with hammers that they knocked our kitchen clock off the wall. It landed in the sink and broke. Although this may seem like something so small, I was livid. I was so angry, my initial reaction was to lose it but, I realized my son was watching. Even though he’s only four, he had such a look of concern on his face. He was concerned for his mother who was obviously a wreck. I just picked up our shattered clock that had much sentimental value, since it was the first little housewarming gift we bought ourselves – and then I let out a few tears.

Sometimes, you just need to melt down.

Moving On

Although our landlord has at least tried to show some care toward the situation, we remain worried that he is going to be cheap about replacing our small area of carpet. We may just end up following in our neighbor’s footsteps and having it done ourselves while deducting the costs out of the rent.

In the long run, this has been a learning experience. This ordeal is nobody’s fault. It was just Mother Nature being really pissed off. After all the other various issues we’ve had here, this was just one more stiff reminder – we need to move.

I’ll Light a Candle for You

I struggled to write this post today. Every fiber of me didn’t want to, but I knew it’d be therapeutic.

Today is my mother’s birthday. I’d like to think of it and celebrate it as just that, but I can’t. I can’t because this is also the anniversary of her death. She passed away 8years ago today…on her 43rd birthday.

I’ve spent the last few years of my life being a more positive person, and trying to help others like me move past their grief & depression. Yet today, I can’t help but feel sad. I miss her. I miss her with every ounce of me. I miss the talks we had, I miss her goofiness, I miss her smile…I miss her.

Murphy's Oil Soap
If I see or smell this stuff, I’ll cry. She used to clean with it. We’d laugh and joke about how we loved the piney smell.

Certain objects and things that remind me of her still induce tears.

There are many artistic tributes I’ve done to her, but I struggle writing about her. That is the most personal for me. Somehow, I was able to today.

Maybe someday I’ll build the courage to write a book about her. She had a way of making most anyone feel better. Yet, when she was upset, so were you. If she cried, it would break your heart and become contagious. She was a wonderful person. She was my favorite person.

Shine

I love you, Mom. Happy Birthday.

(She always liked this song. Strangely enough, the morning she passed away, I came back from the hospital full of tears. After I cried my eyes out for hours, I turned on the radio and this song came on.)