Thursday, 25 April 2019

I don't miss it.

Thanks to everyone who responded on my previous post about G+, and to Alex for blogging. (And other Alex.) There were a pretty wide range of responses from "Let it burn!!!" to actual grieving for something lost. It's interesting to see the very different experiences that people had with that damn Social Media Thing.

I suppose that since everyone else was willing to speak, I should be too.

I miss it but I don't.

G-Plus was dying for me for a long time, from hundreds of small cuts that most of you didn't see. For me G-Plus is tied up with the blog and the books and everything else and my attitude towards it is a mirror of my attitude towards them.

That attitude is; tired, alienated, ambivalent and caked over with bitter secrets. I've had so many bad/weird/troubling interactions with that system and that community, most of which you will never, ever hear about. Being very-mildly successful in a small 'community', or being perceived as such, is  awful. I've gotten a very clear look at the disturbing mixture of insane drama and extremely narrow but intense perceived power that slowly drove Zak insane, or just cracked open the narcissism and rage that was already there.

So for me, watching the towers of G+ burn was like hearing about the destruction of a city that I fled months, or even years ago. I'm a little sad for the 'good times', Flailsnails, Constantcon and the period of relative stability and sanity leading up the the first big Summer of Hate in 2015. After that it slowly decayed. Then the Trump election in late 2016 really started to drive almost all the Americans online fucking nuts in one way or another. That dark energy seeped slowly into every interaction. Then came the initially-slow but then-precipitous collapse, and finally the Ultimate Doom in early 2019.

It was a hell of a thing really.

I think I just felt relief for it being gone to be honest.

The world is changing, or fracturing into sub-worlds, and I don't really feel any deep kinship or what Brendan might call 'Communal Sharing' relationships with any of them. I find myself just as placeless and other as I was before blogging and G+, though not quite as directionless.

I try to keep comparing my state of being to how I felt just before I left my last major call-centre job, when my suicidal ideation was vivid, intense and daily. My life now is certainly better than it was then. I'm not happy, but I don't feel as bad as that.

David thinks any idea of online community is a category error. Perhaps, but I have no talent for speaking to my neighbours and am way too far along the scale for some kind of cognitive oddness to easily make friends with actual people. I like making things, its my primary means of being around other people really, so I will probably keep doing it. I have very little choice. It's this or the call-centre.



Wednesday, 24 April 2019

How Do You Feel About G+ Being Gone?

I'm just wondering as I've got some friends who are actually glad and others who are grieving for the Homeland.

Monday, 22 April 2019

The Mountains of Reality - for Eldritch Foundry

This is just the intro, but I thought I did it pretty ok;


...............................................................



Look at the mountains from the plain, or, if you dare, from the Waste.

A slice in the suffocating sky makes a break in the eternal grey; a sapphire blade on the horizon, glowing like a candleflame-lit gem. A knife against the throat of time.

Even before the mountains themselves are visible, their effect on the atmosphere can be sensed. The air clears. The terrible weight of paling gloom fades away. The sun, the real sun, glares down. True day, True night. And the Waste rages at a boundary of storm.

Then, beneath the sky; hanging from it like an obsidian necklace upon the breast of day - shards of black. Fierce sharks teeth from an enormous jaw closing on the axis of the world.

Closer.

You trudge forward, hour upon hour. The sun sets. In the fresh black sky, pale lamps gleam.

You walk on.

Day comes.

The necklace of obsidian blades has grown. It sweeps across the sky from side to side. The tooth-points lost in haze of an azure vault, and the mountains have birthed a high family; serrated triangular children, black glazed with shining white like tarnished diamonds. Tongues of white fire spill from their jagged lips. Glaciers. Cloud-crowned palaces of stone and ice, scarred with cracked valleys like gospel books torn open by a circus strongman.

Closer.

Wind picks up. You feel cold, not the amorphous, directionless life-sapping refrigeration of the Waste, but actual weather, cold life. Fingers of air press against you, gently teasing, pushing you back.

Closer.

The mountains grow again, spreading across the sky. The black blades almost lost behind cloud. Passing gaps, like the masks of dancing players, reveal their shapes and near-impossible size.

The glacier-tongued children are kings themselves. Each sits imperious, attended by a court of cyclopean queens, the least of which might overawe nations. And though crowned in ice, the queens are robed in green. Forests tumble from their shoulders like light silk, transforming into seas of life, for these size-sovereigns are themselves attended, thronged by an hundred crags who clamour for attention like hungry gulls.

Still you walk.

Closer.

And night falls again.

The falling sun sends beams of rose riding the air like Valkyries, skidding up, up over the mountains, over the robes of green, stained gloom-black by their red light, up to their burning crowns of ice set into vermillion fire by the suns last light. Up. Light licking the glacier tongue of the ice-glazed imperial hills, riding higher. Up. Up. Up. to the diamond-bright peaks of those attending kings. Up. Up.

The ground has been dark for hours. The sky-bowl fills with stars once more, but high above the sun is not done setting on the Mountains of Reality.

Blood-red beams crawl the black blade edges of the highest peaks. They glow, almost resentfully, like a freezing, bitter priest before a slumbering fire. The faintest infra-red emits, the merest hint of sunfire on the bitten edge.

Your neck cranes. Far, far above the light of black roses burning with a black fire fades into the boundless night. And then it is dark.

You walk, and the wind follows.

Closer. Closer.

You smell trees and hear the teased strand of a moan, a susurrus; wind in leaves. And a keening - high, high above, a black sword of stone slicing a banner of eternal air. Unlike the soft nothing of the Waste, the mountains have a sound. They glower, but they breathe.

Light, and a bird cries.

You stumble. Up through the cracked pumice, salt, dust and sand of the Waste, rises stone. Huge boulders, shards, solid planes of water-rippled limestone and sandstone banded in ochre and blue like veins standing up on a clenched hand.

The sun arcs in a blue and storm-tossed sky. Slowly and by faint degrees the dawn-pale light infiltrates the air. As a tear building in the eye first blurs the world and then leaves focus in its passing, the mountains stand before you like a wall of time.

The black blades of the high peaks are invisible now, lost in the vault above the clouds - the ice-rimed rulers explode with sunlight like shattered crystal prisming the golden light of dawn. The green-robed Queens pulse with distant life, trees in their billions strung with silver-bright rivers. Waterfalls roar a bass note in the imponderable visual distance. Attending crags bow, crack and scatter down their sides and beneath these smaller crags, hiding near their feet like mice, mere mountains, some not even a thousand feet high, with paths and rockfalls, forests and moorlands, streams and climb-ways spreading like spilled needles, a hundred-thousand gateways to an unbounded land.

And crawling at the skirts of these, the foothills of the Mountains of Reality, are you.



https://www.eldritchfoundry.com/


Friday, 19 April 2019

ROGUE - For Eldritch Foundry

(These got stranger as I went on.)

........................................................

So, over here is the law.

Lets say it’s this dot .

And over here, on the other side, is organised crime. (This is largely terrorising and abusing the weak), lets say that’s this comma here  ,

.,

You see the space between the dot and the comma?

That space is not large.

In fact, it’s the exact width between one of your shoulders and the other. And it's shrinking.

Yes, it was hard growing up without parents, and with the farm repossessed, and an Ogre eating your families final pig, supporting seven siblings on your own - that's what you tell everyone.

It's ok though, you've got things under control. You are already looking for an angle. An unseen exit (the roof?), an unguarded treasure (that cotton merchant takes his ring off to eat chicken with his fingers), an unexpected vulnerability (will you ever really forget the smell of your one true lov.. wait not yours, theirs! Get back on track!)

Actually, your precise address is in another city, and was lost in a fire [TEARS], so you threw yourself on the mercy of the church, and that’s how you became a Priest of Ark-the-Father (reformed), which explains the vestments in your pack, officer (my son).

Anything. All you need is one slim chance and you can still turn it all around. One throw of the dice, that's all, you can still survive this. They are depending on you after all.

Really, statistically, you should already be dead. No spells, no shield, no armour and a vague disinterest in the sword. (You do have about ninety-nine knives, (you can never have enough knives) and an I.O.U from a card sharp in South Sinter (they still owe you!)), but otherwise you are underpowered, underpaid (definitely!), arguably over-equipped, and running out of time.

It's fine though, really, you counted the exits on the way in. You know who's wearing mail under their shirt, who has shoes poorer than they should be (always check the shoes), who is richer than they seem. You can climb a wall in evening-wear without a stain. It's fine. Things are going to be fine.

The world is webbed with little cracks. Gaps. Gaps in behaviour, gaps in preparation, (sometimes literal physical gaps like in a wall), gaps in thought.

It's not that you ever wanted to actually break the law, to do anything wrong. It's just, look at all these little gaps. Everywhere! They're everywhere. And everyone just strolls past them.

You just couldn't resist it. (Still can't).

Just taking one finger and sliiiding it into one of these gaps, just to see what happens.

To see what you could make happen.

To see if you could get away with it.

And you did! You got away with it. You walked away like nothing happened at all. You always get away with it. Always.

Except for that one time.

Wait, rope. Did you remember to bring rope? Not the hemp, the silk, its lighter, stronger and silent. (May the gods bless silence!).

Of course you did. As if you would forget the basics!

It's nice up here at night, you can see the whole city.

Curious point - three drops of sweat from the Lesser Grey-Ghoul Toad will incapacitate a normal man. This guy is a fatty though (you can hear him moving, heavy feet) so maybe use five. And he left his food out on the sill to cool! Handy!

It was the lesser toad wasn't it? because the sweat (is it really sweat? It’s more like ooze), of the Greater Grey-Ghoul Toad, is deadly.

No. You definitely would have noticed that. They are differently-sized toads for goodness sake.

And there are rules. Well, guidelines...

Never steal from the poor, (unless they are really irritating, of have the wrong politics), or from... orphans? Widows? It was something like that.

Don't set fire to any more bakeries. Definitely not. Just... try to set fire to less places in total. Zero would be good. (But don't forget your naptha and matches, just in case).

Be kind to.. animals? unless they're ugly or weird. You're pretty sure that was a rule at one point.

There's definitely no law against robbing monsters, you are certain of that (perhaps there should be?), well, you didn't shape the world, or screw it up, you just live in it.

See, he's asleep now, and not dead. So it was definitely the lesser toad.

Admittedly, this guy is not a monster, but he's not an orphan either, and you're not taking money (onyx ring left hand middle finger - NO, he has to wake up with nothing missing) he just has information your friends need.

Is just reading (and carefully copying) stealing? Of course not, don't be crazy!

Look, if a situation comes up and you have a rule for it, the rule will come to mind, till then, you have stuff to do. (Hid his papers in the curtain rod, sloppy).

Wait, you could put the merchants ring on his finger, just to freak him out when he wakes up.

No no no no, that's stupid, wait, did you steal the merchants ring?

Ok you have it now so looks like you did. Ok. Why did you do that?

How long will it take that merchant to finish their chicken?

You put a goddamn chicken timer on your break-in didn't you. (They'll just be frantic in the dining room, it’s nothing to worry about. It'll be fine. Fine).

Well you have the map copied and he's still asleep..

Ok, lets do it. May as well right?

What's this? A key!

And its Deoth work, curled like a leaf, making it impossible to take a wax pressing. Clearling indicating MAXIMUM SECURITY.

Impossible?

No-one should ever use that word around you.





Wednesday, 17 April 2019

A Review of 'Priceless' by William Poundstone

This is an interesting book about price.

Its written for business people. Chapters are short and punchy with a form as regular as poetry; a set-up, investigation, explanation and then musing on meaning.

"One of America's longest-running Guy Grand pranks takes place every day just off 1-40 in Amarillo. A giant steer statue us blazoned with a sign advertising a FREE 72 OZ STEAK."

From here we descend into the Gospel of Poundstone, or more like the Torah of Poundstone as the Gospels themselves are micro stories of the lives and investigations of academics, economists, psychologists and business people investigating the nature of prices.

There is a study, or a series of studies, or a 'latest study', which takes place in a lab, in the U.S. or Israel. These labs are like temples of logical knowledge which issue out these subtle riddles of behaviour or thought which are meant to reveal something about humanity and the way it thinks. In one scene a guy in the U.S. constructs a room in a building that _invisibly tilts on its axis due to hidden workings_, this is to measure if or how much people are aware of their actual balance without meaningful cues. The room is set to lure people in with fake free eye tests and then to move around secretly and see if they notice.

(People sense something is wrong, but they often don't relate it to movement.)

The riddle is considered, examples are given.

Some thought is dedicated to the overall meaning of the consequences should the riddle be found to be a full truth. But only for a few paragraphs. The chapters are short, like blog posts, magazine articles. They are *punchy*. Constructed like SEO-optimised trade-speak clickbait  blog posts. Artfully constructed; bit of human interest, bit of academic soap opera, bit of theory, dab of mathematics, knowing tie-up at the end.

So those are the onrushing pebbles of Poundstones argument. They never entirely or purely cohere into a directly-stated synthesis or final statement. But it is not hard to work out his meaning. His argument is that the prices for a lot of things are very close to being imaginary.

You probably have a rough personal intuition of how imaginary or made-up most prices are; well double that, or maybe triple it, or increase it by a factor of something. It is all light and air, or so it would seem.

Humans judge by ratio very keenly and are totally bonkers when it comes to abstract values. If you want to change someone’s thoughts about pricing, change the ratios that are present when someone thinks about it. Therein lies almost all of everything anyone ever did to find a way to raise a price.

Humans assign value by primate-relevant qualities. Considering Price, alone, deeply, actually brings you back into contact with the whole of the human experience, because when assigning an abstract value to something, it seems that what really matters is human context. People draw from their entire physical and social experience of the world when negotiating with each other.

In particular, people are much more loss-averse than they are success hungry, and they are much, _much_ more averse to letting someone treat them in an 'unfair' way than they are desirous of getting free, or extra, resources.

So people will literally turn down a free lunch if it comes with an assumed loss of relative status or participation in a deal in which someone is seen to have an unfair advantage over them, even if in rational absolute terms they only gain by the exchange.

So, 'value', though seemingly abstract, is like a puncture hole though the skin into a deeply human world of social networks, personal status, testosterone levels, fear of loss, desire to impress and just a very apelike, living, human experience of reality.


Heuristics are a thing. Humans use simple, usually ratio-based intuitive shortcuts based on environmental factors in order to work out the value of thigs. When considered singly, isolated away from their ecology of thought and zoned-in on in a lab, all of these heuristics break down. They are 'non-logical' and can be made to be wrong with tricks of logic.

The question of how powerful this effect is in real-life is a primary moral axis of the book. Unusually, Economists and Humanists are on the same side in this one, they both want the decisions people make to 'make sense' and to be fundamentally rational, or at least, reasonable. Even if they break down in the lab it is hoped human decision making works 'as a whole'.

Poundstone seems to be on the other side, the general drift of his argument is that prices are deeply and worryingly ethereal and much of human value-assignment is basically a holodeck episode.






Takeaways;

Priceless absolutely abounds in factoids, little slivers and pieces of counter-intuitive, strange or just interesting discoveries and secrets. Here are a few;


There is/was a weird culture war/intellectual war between Economists and Psychologists. Economists seem to move in an ethereal realm of pure figures and absolute values on which the great machinery of their thought is based. Psychologists are a bit dirty, manipulative and fluid, they chew away at the absolute values Economists need to build their palaces, revealing them to be little more than dreams.

So in the partial history of the relations between Psychologists and Economists that makes up a strand of the book, Economists have a habit of just straight-out dismissing anything Psychologists say with "Oh, _psychology_)", at least for the start of the book. So that is an interesting example of subjects or cultures deciding to just not talk to each other. Or at least, not to listen.

..............

'Anchoring', shaping assumptions on price by opening with a super-high figure, works much much much better than most people intuit it does. It works on the average Joe, and it works on experts, it works on people who decide quickly, and it works on people who consider deeply. The depth to which you have thought about something, alone, does not meaningfully change the extent to which Anchoring will work on you.

.............

"Fisher aspired to predict prices from supply and demand. His thesis described how to do that, and Fisher went so far as to build a price-generating machine (see page 225). It was a tank of water with a flotilla of half-flooded wooden "cisterns" connected by a system of levers. Adjustments to "stoppers" and levers fed in data on incomes, marginal utilities, and supplies; then prices could be read off scales. Gibbs must have been pleased. The device prefigured, if not parodied, the direction of twentieth-century economics. ("Press stopper I and raise III," read part of Fishers instructions for the thing. "I, II, III now represent a wealthy middle class and poor man respectively...")



.............

"I absolutely thought [pay] would go down because the disclosures would be so embarrassing," recalled Graef Crystal, an architect of those disclosure rules. "But it turned out that when somebody is hauling in $200 million, he's not embarrassable."

.............

"After years of work-around like half-dozen cartons of eggs and ever-shrinking containers of milk, it bit the bullet and raised its top price to $99.99. For president Jeff Gold, it was almost like a death in the family. 'The number 99 is a magic number - deviating from that is something we absolutely are not taking lightly,' he said. 'I find significant discomfort emotionally about considering making the change.'

............

There is much much more, its something of a wunderkammer of these, more than it is a book almost.

There were layers to my response to 'Priceless'. I often found it 'clever', in a mildly frustrating way. The glib single-idea 'gotchas' of business writing or magazine articles. I intuitively strongly dislike what I perceived as a mild wash of slightly sneering superiority through the opening parts of the book.

Under that, its actually interesting. The basic deal is that price, which bills itself as a firm and near-abstract unit of measurement, is a deeply human construct. On the down side this means the world economy is largely a collective hallucination and could collapse or change hugely at any time. On the more positive (to me) side, Economics is not just a part of the Humanities, it’s actually a Romance. Piercing through the needle-dot of price reveals a cosmos of human emotion, human feeling and human social relationships, illogical, 'irrational', but making organic sense, not without reason or meaning and if not entirely within our control then at least within our capacity to understand.

Monday, 15 April 2019

Fire on the Velvet Horizon Product Update

Good News Everyone!

Fire on the Velvet Horizon, that hipster Monster Manual that China Mieville liked

"Superpositioning with strange panache, Velvet Horizon is an (outstanding) indie role-playing-game supplement, and an (outstanding) example of experimental quasi-/meta-/sur-/kata-fiction. Also a work of art. Easily one of my standout books of 2015." - China Mieville


Ben Milton did a Review-



And we have added the following backmatter, previously only available in the Luxury Peecho edition, to ALL editions;

  • Blastitsu: an Introduction, Curseling Riddles,
  • Command Structure of the Navarch of Acht,
  • Report on the Palace of Iksladzord (partialy redacted),
  • Play fragment from the Nightmare Sea,
  • An Announcement from the Judge Who's Court is the Air, Lord of the Pathless World.
  • Dust Storm falling with Dusk - a view from Quarst
  • The Wyrm Rise - depiction of the Eochian Wyrm


Now exists in three Print on Demand formats of varying cost and quality. Which, for us, is actually a careful rationalisation of what we were already doing.




Cheapest is;

Shameful Beast Edition

From Lulu. A perfectly reasonable and normal book for reasonable normal people. 



 And its fine. 

Softcover. If you rolled it up you could defend yourself like Jason Bourne.

Lulu print quality.



SHOULD BE - about $35.00 AMERICAN. That's U.S. dollars, but check because stuff moves around based on relative currencies.





Slightly Better is....

Fuse Meister Edition

From Drivethru. A somewhat fancy and robust book in an American size.



This has all the monsters and all the pages from the original edition. 

And its U.S. Letter size, so a little shorter and fatter than the A4 version. 

Its in Hardcover.

Drivethru's highest possible print quality.

The paper is thicker, the blacks are blacker, you could crush a Trachea with it.



SHOULD BE - about $39.99 AMERICAN. That's U.S. dollars, but check because stuff moves around based on relative currencies.

And, from the False Machine Publishing store you can access all the other stuff we have up, like the new Silent Titans PDF, the very old Deep Carbon Observatory, and hopefully new stuff coming over the (next several) year(s)




For those of Means we have....

Eochian Wyrm Edition

From Peecho, a site which usually does fancy photo books.



Like the Drivethru Fusemeister version, this has all the monsters and all the pages from the original edition. 
AND its in A4 size, tall and lean.

And its in Hardcover.

Its on thick, glossed photography-quality paper.

The blacks are so goddamn black you could drown in them.



It is a thick, heavy product of unsurpassed quality.

SHOULD BE - about $50.00 AMERICAN. That's U.S. dollars, but check because stuff moves around based on relative currencies.

Enjoy Peechos strange user interface.




Remember we did a trailer for this? Well we did. Here it is;




And, as always;

We are sorry about the text being a nightmare to read.

If you buy a version and have trouble reading it,  contact us - pjamesstuart@gmail.com.

And we will send you a full text version.

Plus we are working on a plaintext PDF to be free with the Drivethru and PWYW on there.

Friday, 12 April 2019

Life-Affirming Kevin Chin

Games Workshop has its in-house podcast/Youtube videos for 40K and Age of Sigmar (watch John Blanche draw a witch!)

A recent one had their artist Kevin Chin for what I thought was a really exceptional interview that goes over a great deal of ground fascinating to me.

I don't really think this got enough attention so I spent, a long time, transcribing it, and have some essential quotes below.

(Also, sorry Games Workshop. I'll take this down if you ask. Not trying to steal clicks but I thought it better so ask forgiveness than permission.)





Becoming an Artist

WAID PRICE - When do you decide you wanted to be an artist or an illustrator? When did you turn art from a pastime or a hobby into something that you thought, “I’m going to make money doing this”?

8:33 

KEVIN CHIN - Well, since I was young, I always wanted, like to draw. So I remember I was more excited getting, I was really, so you know how it is as kids, you've got a box, a box of toys, but I'm that kid that looks at the box cover.

WAID PRICE – Mm.

KEVIN CHIN - And just go “that's really cool”. You know, it's like that art piece that you paint back then. So usually Japanese robot toys. But I was quite lucky, my uncle works in a toy store. So he gets some kind of discount usually for those. And when he gives them to me, I remember I spent so much time just looking at the covers and “how did they do this?”, “How did they do that?”

I grew up watching lots of movies, action movies, and so, these things, stick with me and just say “okay, I just want to draw that” and that, that drive to draw something and doodle something has never left.

I never really thought about, say, making a career out of it. But I do remember very clearly that I was pretty young when I said “I want to be in”, “I want to draw for a living”, you know, I want to be, either a comics artist or I know what I want to do. You know, and I will put all my effort into that, that direction.

WAID PRICE – Yes.

KEVIN CHIN – It’s like I said, it's not the most you know, it's not the most lucrative career, or people don't really know, like my parents don't understand it. My, most of my friends, they’re kind of like, they know I can draw very well. They say “Hey can you draw this for me, can you draw this dragon for me?” Like “yeah sure”, you know as for me drawing a dragon is cool Yeah. I can draw dragon you know, and that's why my “don’t do this at home kids”, my textbooks are full of doodles, I was like, (laughs) just started doodling so it never really um. Never end, it’s never really stopped for me.

My mind is always wondering in places. And yeah, just drawing is just a form of expression.

For me as I, it's almost like a instinct, I just do it you know, it's not really something that I have to force myself to do. Nowadays is different from back then, I just draw cool stuff. And it's just changed when I went to art college. That's why I went to art school. And going into art school in Singapore, there’s only a few schools, not a lot, there's probably two or three of them back then. Or maybe actually just two.

So I just picked one and just went for it. I made sure I got the grades and the appropriate portfolio that I required to get in. And I know when I got in and say “there's no way they’ll let me do comic artists” as my you know, my final year, you present a final year project. So I have to be a bit more realistic. My brother kind of told me “Dude you can't do comics art  at art school. So you have to try to use whatever they're telling you to do, and present it in your own way. So it's. you’re kind of still practising it.”

So that's what I did, I looked for the subject that gave me an opportunity to draw the most. So I’,m; “I’ll do that, because I get to do a lot of drawing.” So even though some of the drawings are, you know, a bit over the top, like not really the other requirement, but it's still there, I'm still practising my drawing. So I came up with a graduate of graphic design, for example. I still had to learn everything else like advertising, graphic design, typography and the usual stuff.

But all these knowledge comes back to me, like I, I'm using some of them right now. So it's that point, when you kind of in life, you go through a journey, and along the journey, you learn and pick up a lot of stuff. And you never know what you've experienced along the way, will come back and help you in some way or one way or another.

And that's why I realised that maybe back then, when you're doing it and not really feeling, like “why am I doing this, this is so boring” but when you're further in life, you go like, “Hey, I'm actually actively using the things that I've been taught”, subconsciously, or not know it. But you you become aware that “hang on, I didn't do this for a long time. But yeah, I still have that basic fundamental knowledge of of all these things that I've picked up along the way.”

So I don't what's the best way to explain it, but it's just, you, as maybe as for me, you go around gathering information. And everything that you see is information. And you try to accumulate them, sometimes you forget them, but sometimes it just comes back around just before you realise it. So all these things are really useful for me. So that develops your, what everybody says, your style, but I kind of prefer it as more of like a visual preference. Like “I prefer doing this, I have this preference towards these things” “I have a preference to this aesthetic, sometimes they are static. Might change, your preferences might change, but you are changing mostly based on some… as for me, my personally, I change it based on how I feel at that point. It’s like I want to do this. So I'm gonna try this.

And all these knowledge they've accumulated starts, you know, points, because they kind of direct you one way or another, subconsciously “this way, this way”. So then “oh”, and then you can let it go in a certain direction that you never really expected. So it's a journey, like I said. So you pick things up. So don't really disregard the things that you pick up. That's what might be fair, anyone has any good, you know, wants some good tips; don't disregard them, as it's all information that you will need, or you eventually use.

Because you, if you are really serious about creating something unique or you know, something that purely belongs to you, all these parts of you will express itself one way or another. And learning how to have a paintbrush or be it traditionally or digitally, all these counts as a form of expression. These are tools. And these tools will help you express what you think of, what you were trying to, you know, bring out into life. Or not into life, into a piece of white paper, or digital canvas. Even though what you're doing may not be the most exciting thing to you right now.

But you use that opportunity to learn, to pick up things. And one day you will be eventually, for me personally, I always felt that you'll eventually be rewarded, that these things don't just resolve to nothing. These things give you something, and it's up to you. What kind of expression do you want to use? Do you want to opt out of traditional medium, digital medium, sculpting, you know, even traditional sculpting or woodcarving or anything. So is everything art is mostly like a form of expression. So yes.

15:32 

WAID PRICE - There's some great life advice in this podcast. Doodle in your textbooks. Make sure you get great grades to go and study what you want to go and study in college.

I've been struck when I as I've grown older, because I'm old as well. But there are times, there were times when I was younger, I thought “I'm never going to need to know this”. And the amount of times where that knowledge comes back, a lot of maths particularly maths, I think, remember at school people saying “you need to know maths”, and then you start trying to work out army list in your head probability of dice scores during a game you think yes, that's actually quite useful, isn't it?

16:02 

KEVIN CHIN - Yes. That's that's, the most, that's the best use or the most consistent use of maths in my life how to, you know, added plus and minus the subtraction. But these things come back to you.

WAID PRICE - So, keep hold of all the bits of information, because you never know when you might,

KEVIN CHIN – “Yeah, and to be honest, you, I mean, for me right now, it's like, if you don't go out and really live it, live in that moment and look at things around you and truly absorb them. I think it's almost like you're, you're not fully exploiting a potential. Because what you see and what you live around you is an experience that you take with you. And the more experiences you have, the more rich your expression will become. I mean, that is if you choose to express yourself in terms of art.

And I always, I always find that certain things touch me or you know, just grabs me a lot more than others. Because when you when you see them when you're young, you kind of laugh at it. But when you grow older, you kind of realise oh, is actually very different, its the same thing, but you're looking at it at different ages, different time. You kind of realise that hang on, that's a different message. And those works are to me, the classics, you know, “this guy really knows what he's doing” he makes you laugh when you're a kid and makes you cry when you're an adult.

So it's, say "wow" are these works, you tend to realise that, grow older and "wow, this guy's amazing", and you kind of go back. But you can't really, you have to see it, you have to live through it in order to get that information. And it's only later in life that you when you look at it again, sometimes you look at it through nostalgia, and then you see differently, you see completely differently. I think that happened almost way too many times already when I grew up, as I just realised, okay, these things are actually all this information is very useful. It helps me grow not only as a person but also as an artist as well.

Anything that just gives you that, mental go, “wow”, you know, and that spark in your head, and all it takes is just one spark. And lots of things will gush out, you'll be, almost overwhelmed, by that amount of information. Sometimes it's a trickle. But you need to build on that momentum. If you feel like there's something there. No harm trying, seriously. I mean, the only harm is, you spend time trying to express yourself, the final form of expression in what you do. And for me, my choices are, you know, drawing and painting.

And those things will, whatever your expression is, your chosen form of expression is, was almost irrelevant at that point. It’s more like I'm trying to bring out something that's part of me. I think that that kind of those works are more personal, you know, you feel like, Okay this.  I think that those works usually to me when people have (???) reaction to, some of the works. So they really like this work that I've done, I was like “ohh Okay” and I felt good one is the work that I feel like I put a lot of thought or a lot of expression into it. And those are really satisfactory to me.





Hobby Shivers


WAID PRICE - I remember when we were talking before this recording, we talked about the sorts of things we'd say, you have a turn of phrase, you talk about hobby shivers.


KEVIN CHIN – Yes.

WAID PRICE - Sometimes you see things and you read something, and it gives you the hobby shivers.

KEVIN CHIN -  Yeah.

WAID PRICE - I think I have a sense of what that means. I think how would you describe that for anyone who maybe hasn't ever felt a hobby shiver of their own?

37:45 

KEVIN CHIN – Ahhh

(laughter)

KEVIN CHIN – Let me introduce you. Well, hobby shivers to me is, when you read about something in the background and the narrative, maybe Black Library novel, or in the army books. The codecies, the  battle tomes. You read about it, and you go, that's cool. I mean, for me, my moment was I had a few very good ones. First one, the most deepest impression that I had was of course War of the Beard, or War of Vengeance, and when I'm playing Si, I was like hmmm. But you feel good. No matter at the end of the day, you win or you lose, you felt that you participated in that narrative. And that the visual of you of two fully painted armies on the table. Just slugging it out. Exactly. Well not exactly but like how you feel like you've read it. You read it and then you play it and you kind of live in it at that moment. And that to me at the end of the game or the moment when you when you do something really cool that's described in the book and you really feel that [BREATHS IN DEEPLY] Oh, yes, that's that's good. That's good. and how you get that good vibe coming in and that was the first one.

The second one was, Space Marines have always been called Angels of Death. I think that was the one of the key phrases I always associate Space Marines with. And one of the key tactics was, why are they called angels of death -  because they from the sky. Come in drop pods you know, and they smash into the ground and just unload from drop pods and just start killing everything. And that to me, that that visual is amazing because well you know how in real life its more that paratroopers that does this but in Space Marines big giant machine, they just drop them into from atmosphere, down onto the onto the ground, I was like “wow”. And that drive me to make a 10 drop pod army, I collected ten drop pods. I want to do that. They will I do that. I don't care how it works, but I want to do that. So I did. And I played an Apocalypse game and for the first time I used 10 drop pods on to the table. And I tell you at the moment 10 of them dropped, I was like “yeah [BREATHS IN DEEPLY] hggggnn”.

Yeah, you get a sense of achievement. I mean to me that's how I get it, I get that vibe that you got back. So that's exactly how they write it in the book and I understand why we're so deadly, you know. It's it just feels good that you have a responsive feedback from a hobby that says “accomplish something” And I was like “yes! Ten drop pods at the same time!”

It does feel really cool when I do it, especially, because that's how I envisioned it. And it's not too far from it as well. So win or lose at that point the job is done, the hobby has given you the feedback that you need. And that to me is the best kicker. It was “That's good. That's good.”

And of course the latest one so Dan Abnetts ‘The Emperors Gift’ [EDIT – its by Aaron Dembski Bowden].  a part in it, the highlight of the novel for me was when they had to fight Angron in the first war of Armageddon, and had 100 Terminator Grey Knights teleporting down at the exact same time forming a circle that surrounds Angron and his Bloodthirsters. And the feedback blew out all the all the windows in the Leman Russes. I was like “THAT’S AWESOME. I WANT TO DO THAT” I want to collect a hundred terminators, I know realistically will never be able to play 100 Terminators in a 1500 point game. But it's when I play another Apocalypse. Yes, I want to do that. I want to fulfil that that visual.

41:24 

WAID PRICE - Yeah, you have something historical, something momentous, that has taken place.

KEVIN CHIN - It's the same as, I think is probably the similar as people play historical wargames. You participate in something that's been written before. You feel like you're engaged in that. And I think the more engaged you are, especially for me, when I feel engaged in a game, I say, “Well, this is good.” You know, you're immersing yourself into your hobby. How many hours and how much time and money that you put into, and this is the best, this is almost like the best thing that can happen to you. Yeah, you get a reward back to it.

Most people won't understand because they never really, people from outside the hobby, will understand, but to you. And that's for you a personal achievement, that you've done this. And to me that that gives me the hobby shivers, I was like “yess”, you know, you feel you feel it, you feel it from your spine. Seriously, you will feel it. Because you…

WAID PRICE - You'll know when you…

KEVIN CHIN - Know, yeah, you know, because you've done it. And it doesn't really matter, you win or lose at the end, as you've done some really good cool things. How many people can actually say that with their hobby. I mean, it's your personal hobby. You've achieved it.

To me, that's the highest point of that, high colour that you you can push your hobby to. Most people get it from many other things. So some people can go for a smaller scale and get a good vibe from it back. But for me personally, you know, the bigger it is the more gratifying it is when you achieve it. So it's good things. I was saying those are the ones that gives me the motivation to, and I want to try this, I want to do this, that will be great when it happens. That you just get it, you just know it and you understand its just gonna be cool when it happens. Right? 





SELF EXPRESSION


WAID PRICE - So how you practising? Or how are you going to get more proficient at conversions? If you've not really done that much before. Any tips for anyone in the studio? You must have a bunch of people to call on.

KEVIN CHIN - Yeah, yeah, definitely. So many people that come with models like (unclear) like he's just sit right next to me every day I see him converting his Orks I was like “wow”. It’s the admiration not only of his work but his hobby as well. His dedication to his hobby. I was like “this is so cool”. You get inspiration from people that you work around with. And then, of course, Phil Kelly, he converts his own models, he does quite heavy conversions as well.

And of course, John, can’t ever forget John Blanche. Every time he brings in a model its like (…..). You just stop breathing for a while like “what have you done?” “What is this?”

WAID PRICE – Just copy John Blanche.

KEVIN CHIN – Easier said than done. But yes, you get inspired by all these things. And and because it's social media, there's so much more groups that showing up that does converted models, and you look at it “wow it's so cool”.  I really enjoy seeing people doing conversions. So when I do it is quite ham fisted to be honest, as “uughhh, I’m like an Ork when it comes to converting. It’s not a good thing.

So I try to be a bit more subtle with my conversions now. And I know that the ironclad I’m, planning to do is going to be a lot of work. But I but I guess that's what's rewarding about it, as well. “Yeah its a lot of work. But I think I'm going to enjoy it.”

WAID PRICE – Yeah.

KEVIN CHIN - As long as I understand exactly what I'm trying to do and trying to achieve. I think just need to have that. That courage to say, “Okay, let's let's try this out. Let's play with this and see how this works.” Or if it doesn't, there's always ways to patch up. Just one thing I’ve realised about conversions is that there's always some way to patch it up. You can patch it up with paint job as well, if you think that will keep as a big problem there. But you can actually cover it up with Paint or even sometimes it's just a purity seal. Very handy. “Yeah, that's you, you seal that hole over there. Thank you very much.”

So it's a very organic process. It's about discovery like that, that form of expression that we talked about in the beginning, is that you express yourself through converting models and John Blanche is great at that.

And his drawings are like his models. His models are like his drawings. You can’t almost pull them apart. Like, that's him. That's his language. That's his expression. And people get really attracted to it, I get attracted to him. Again, this is his signature its his own hobby thumbprint. So that's why I always very much appreciate people who take the time convert their own models. That’s your hobby thumb print. It's a good way to express yourself.

And to me it's always good to be in a hobby to be able to to express what you're what you're going through, or you know, certain aspects of what you think,  your sense of aesthetic, what do you like about a model and what  you're trying to achieve with the model. I think that when you look at the model, and you go “Wow, that's really cool”. You can already tell stories behind it. I think that's good. That's a good conversion. Okay, I get what you're trying to do there and that's really cool.

So sometimes I get people come to me with, it’s always very rewarding when its one of the pictures I've done. Came up to me and he showed me the conclusion they did of the pictures I’ve done I was like “Whoa”. “Ok that’s really cool. But I was pleasantly surprised. But it gives me a good good vibes as well. I was like “cool” my pictures gave you inspiration to do something, is really nice. I mean that that, to me is part of the reward of the job as well that people interact with the (???).

They get inspired and they try to make one. I wouldn't make one because I don't know how to express myself, through drawings and paintings that convergence is a completely different skill set. But they just did a good job of it, it was a water. It's really cool. Thank you so much. Oh, thank you. Thank you guys, for those. I mean, that to me is very rewarding to see.

1:09:48 

WAID PRICE – Congratulations.

KEVIN CHIN -  Thank you.

WAID PRICE -  Have you been practising different artistic styles through your time in the studio? As you've been talking about adding another string to your hobby bow with conversions? Do you practice with the artistic style still already established your favourites and you stick with them all?


KEVIN CHIN - No, I find that I can't stick with one for too long. I always want to, I think that's almost like a slow and very agonising deterioration for me, say, to do the same thing over and over and over again.

The good thing about working in studio is that you get the opportunity to do everything in the book.  Everything. Even from the little graphic that surrounds the page number. That needs to be painted as well. A lot of people don't realise that that needs to be drawn and painted. So from the smallest of details to the largest of pictures, there's so much things that you can do, and I enjoy switching around. I find that gives me better, it gives me more inspiration, more creativity as well. Because I need to switch. Different jobs have different requirements. I need to switch here to quickly understand what this is supposed to do and achieve the best result within a given time. And that that fosters my brain to work differently.

And I find that switch much more useful than rather than constantly doing “okay, have you got four double page spread, spread out over the next six months.. Go".  Oh boy, of course I’ll still find ways to have fun with it to express the different expressions of it. Otherwise, you be doing the same picture over again. And that's not good.

I find the advantage of working in studio is that you do everything. And you have the opportunity to do just about everything, from even designing tokens as well like gaming tokens. And you can do that, you can design it as well, you think about “Okay, well what do people interact, how do they interact with a token”? All of a sudden you're evolving a bit of engineering and know-how being a gamer. So how do they use the tokens? What's the best way to design it in a way that's intuitive for them that's useful for them? And these things, again, it clicks to buttons.

And I think I find that experience a lot more rewarding because you're learning new things and you're forcing your brains, your mind to think creatively in a different aspect, you find a solution differently. And sometimes you’re not even given a lot of time. But that's the kind of pressure that forces you to be creative at times. It's not the most ideal situation but you force, as your brain just goes overdrive. And sometimes the results that you have can be surprising.

Some of the most rewarding projects that I've done is when I was when I was almost a given very little time. And I had to find a solution quickly for it. But it came out really well, as I think I've handled the situation well enough to actually own “it was actually quite fun”. Actually enjoying myself in the stress as well.

Oh yeah, I'm pretty sure I'm not enjoying myself when I'm doing it, I'm just thinking that, “gotta get this done, but how” you know, but “ah, got it” and just do this. And that process of it. I mean, you just “Okay, now I can go back to normal again”, because not every day to kind of do everything.

But it's, it's, it's good to have that challenge. Because you force again, that you just force yourself to think differently, and apply different stuff, different knowledge, a technical knowledge to achieve the end result. Like sometimes, because what we do now most days is digital illustration. My free time, whenever possible, I will paint and watercolours, sometimes I just walk out in lunchtime, just with watercolours in my hand at a sit down to start painting whatever's in front of me. Because that's life drawing is you're just looking at it. And you don't have to think about a toy soldier anymore. And trying to make it work. You just paint whatever's in front of you just do the end, sometimes very liberating, because you don't want to think about it too much. Just trying to accurately as much as possible, paint whatever you see in front of you, and use your unique expression to capture that, whatever you're trying to achieve.

So that again, it's an exercise, because you have no Undo button, you can’t save it, so you’re kind of like “I'm stuck with this mistake now”. But again, it's Don't be afraid to make mistakes. That's the thing that I always tell people. A lot of people come to me and ask what is the key thing that you must have, in order to be a good illustrator? I would say from my experiences, never be afraid to make mistakes. Mistakes are there so that you can learn. And if you're a really committed illustrator or really committed to a craft, you will find a way, and those mistakes was just a stepping stone to help you get to higher places. Or not to say higher places, a different place. And that different place might be your own language, your next question. And I think that's very rewarding.

Out of a mistake, you gradually created something that actually it's not a mistake, it's a reflection of yourself, you're just exploring it, just removing the fog. And putting other things together make it more interesting. I think that's much more interesting. You won't do it until you've made mistakes. I would saying made by famous Bob Ross; “there are never any mistake, they're just happy accidents”. Which I think is actually quite relevant, or you don't think of them as you make them. It's inevitable. You just have to make the best of it. And move on with that learn from it. So that you have no fear of making those mistakes.

Those are not mistakes anymore. They're stepping stones You switch your mindset into thinking, “Okay, I've done this now, I'm going to learn from this”, take that to the next picture. And that's why traditional drawing and painting it's good because there's less forgiving, you don't have an unsafe, you don't have an undo button. So you are forced to make, sometimes, errors or even foster explores and aspects that you never you never think of. So by doing that you learn.

1:15:58 

And that process is very important for me. Because if you're trying to learn something about something, learn something new, you actually that process is almost not only learning something new, but also taking a part of yourself along with it, and come up with something completely on your own of your own vision. I think that's very exciting. But you need to take that step to try different thing, Don't get stuck in one thing, try many things. Because I think that's the best way to really find and have a very rich vocabulary. So that you can pick and choose, “I like this one like this one, let's try put them together and make something” it may not be what exactly you're thinking about, if you persist through it, you'll find that silver lining, it is something most of the time is a very, it can be very, you can get very insulated because you're always doing some stuff on your on your own. But there are friends and communities out there that does it together. And some year for me to discover the aspect can be sometimes quite….

1:17:05 

It's your own personal discovery. But you're sitting down. Think of it as you're trying to find an expression for yourself. And don't really think about risk. Just look at that, do some painting. And you'd be surprised how much you can do once you, when you get into the practice.

You know more or less how to handle the medium, you can “Oh ok, I can try this and do that”. Just try to have fun. and not worry about “oh its gotta to be a masterpiece”. No it doesn’t have to be. It is a process. The more you do, the more you look at things differently your information about light about depth comes in and you know we've talked about and we’ve talked about anatomy, you gotta go for life drawing to learn all these things. Or if you can’t go for life drawing, just sit down the cafe and just start sketching people around your people walking on the streets.

And sometimes you, you force yourself to think differently as because they’re moving so fast, you have to draw them quicker. So you your gestures become more expressive, because you're not really thinking about the technical aspects anymore, just trying to capture relevance of what your impression of what you're trying, you're trying to catch.

So that you have your own language as well, you kind of developing in your own way because you learn this from books, all the facts are in books, all the instruction books there are all there, all the information is there but how you express it is completely on your own. You have to, either looking for self expression that's completely on your own little journey that you have to take.