It’s Very Hot

by Coat & Tails on

With temperatures reaching approximately 253 degrees Fahrenheit, it’s hard to stay inside and focus on my work. But I’ve had the discipline to not only compulsively update my website, but to carry on the only kind of work that matters in this country anymore: pet portraiture. So let’s run through these updates like Schlitz runs through a freshman.

First of all, I’ve increased the number of sizes that are available. The range used to be 8×10” to 20×24”. Now it’s 4×6” to 24×36”. This required an update on the prices, which was pretty tedious. For those of you who are interested in how I calculate them, below is a sample from my Pricing spreadsheet:

excel

I’ve also updated my home page. Now there are real buttons and shit:

homepage design

Also, I’ll add parenthetically that I spent precisely 8 or 9 hours or so creating an interface that shows me my queue. This way, I’ll be able to see which orders are outstanding, when they’re due, what was ordered, etc. Which is extremely helpful when I’m swamped, like I am now. Just take a look at this workload:

being busy

With my hectic schedule, it’s amazing even to me that I was also able to update The Southern Belle:

southern belle

And finally, here are some commissions:

New website feature: add your own photo

by Coat & Tails on

I have some pretty exciting news: I got a haircut that came with a free “deep conditioning treatment.” Even though this made me feel like one of those guys who try to look manly-yet-foppish, I have to say that having my skull massaged put me in a relaxed state, and being in such a state for 15 minutes once every 5 years was quite lovely. And also useful, since I’m going to have to give a “best man speech” soon, which, outside of my new dandy doo, I’m wholly unprepared for, especially since among all men, I am certainly not the best (but I’m not going to say anything if you don’t; I mean I would have chosen someone like Bob Dylan or Gandhi or maybe Jesus if he’s available, but it’s cool if he chose me; it’s kind of flattering). Anyway, I’m glad I took the “deep conditioning treatment” deal.

Speaking of deals, I have a shitload of 16×20” frames from my Bouldin Creek display, and thereforely I’m having a sale. For the rest of the month, said frames are 50% off.

In other news, I’ve added a new feature on my site that allows you to test your photo before sending it to me. Because I wrote the code myself, it perhaps doesn’t offer the most ideal user experience, but I did my best considering that (1) I’m not a programmer, (2) such a feature is not the heart and soul of my proprietorship, and (3) I didn’t do my best.

That said, I feel like I need to school you in how it works. First, you click the button that says Test a Photo:

test photo button

Your photo is placed behind the other elements:

cat wearing clothing

You’re probably going to want to adjust your photo, and the button that says “Your Photo” will help you with that, because it activates your photo by bringing it forward:

cat brought forward

Note that once Your Photo is selected, you’re given some controls:

buttonz

Those controls are only for the image you uploaded –  not my images – because my images are just like me: perfect.

Once you resize your photo, you can click the other layers to make them active, thus allowing you to rearrange the clothing and accessories. You can click or tap the arrows to bring something new into the canvas, or you can use your cursor or move the items that are already available. Below is an image that has the hat activated.

Note: Because some people don’t want their pets wearing hats or using tobacco products, an empty layer can find itself on the canvas. Thus if you’re trying to manipulate an empty layer, you’re not going to see any results.

Below is a non-empty layer; the hat is selected.

selected item

If you were to hit the right arrow for the hat, it would be removed from the canvas, and the empty layer would be active. So I would advise that you choose another layer or deselect.

When you’re finished or you want to see what the composition looks like without the lightened effect, hit Deselect:

I know it could use some refining, but that will come in time after a lot of aspirin and screwing off.

Which is a great segway into another feature I need to mention. See, in some cases, you cannot upload a photo to test it. Pretty much all of the themes are not prepared for this cutting edge technology, so I needed to come up with a way for the “Test your Photo” button to not be displayed on certain pages. I also needed a way to have it function a specific way on other types of collections. Thusforthly, I created a flag for each collection:

  • Collections that don’t allow photos
  • Collections that allow one photo
  • Collections that allow two photos

You read right! In an exciting new collection that will be available sometime between now and never, you will be able to test two photos.

Let’s see, what else? It’s been a long time since I’ve written, so a lot has happened, but I don’t want to cover too much, since I need to go do other things.

Ok, one more: for the first time in Coat & Tails history, I will be allowing another artist to put his work on my site. He will thusfore be doing the work, although – unfortunately for you – I will continue to be the un-foppish-yet-manly liaison you will interface with.

And if that weren’t as exciting as the invention of the cubicle, he’s currently working on a collection that may or may not be named after a popular television program: “Game of Bones.”

So keep your eyes glued to my Instagram for updates which again will happen between now and some point in the future.

An Up and a Down of Self-Employment

by Coat & Tails on

One of the greatest aspects of self-employment is the lack of competition when it comes to the Coat & Tails “Employee of the Month” award, which involves lunch from the one-star restaurant of my choosing and free air conditioning. And that’s on top of the pot of coffee that’s as bottomless as my chaps. But I’m not only in this for the perks. Sometimes I think that even without these incentives, I’d still be in the pet-portrait game, mostly because of the people whose lives are impacted by my work. Sometimes it’s difficult to discern the nature of that impact, but I can always tell that things are at least heading in the right direction when people feel compelled to employ the use of profanity in their emails to me. It is in these moments that I feel assured that I’ve made at least a few correct choices. For instance:

“First off, I love your work. Seriously, it’s the fucking best.”

and:

“That is fucking awesome Bryce!! My husband is going to love it lol. Can’t wait to receive it!”

Despite the spoils of self-employment, there is one major downside: there is no one double checking me. Thus, there is more room for error, especially because being vigilant is exhausting. This week was proof of this: I had to get a very large portrait printed, which required the equipment of a third party. But I ordered the wrong print size – it was 2” short – but didn’t realize that till after I drove all the way across town to pick it up. I even had it mounted to a foam board. This was a pretty tragic mistake that all the free air conditioning in the world couldn’t have prevented.

Anyway, now that you know its context and concurrently my shameful truth, here is the portrait:

film noir dog

And here are a few portraits that I did recently that I did not fuck up:

the man of leisure

cat wearing clothes

pirate cat

And here is something I’m working on:

work in progress

Web Updates, June Fundraiser, Summer Sale, and (of course) More Pet Portraiture

by Coat & Tails on

Web Updates

During the past month or so, I have been doing the following:

  • Making my site not suck horribly:
    $(document).ready(function(){
    $(“#button”).click(function(){
    $(“#horribleness”).hide();
    });});
  • Drawing hair (see farther down)
  • Online shopping (mostly for old bike parts and Jazzercise groupons)
  • Eating cake
  • Generally destroying any vestige of hope

Most of the changes to my site include adding basic functionality. For instance, when you click the “Place Order Now” button, something happens to indicate that the order is processing.

Before, when you clicked that button, the order was processing, but there was no indication of it, so people would click it over and over again until (1) they were notified that the order processed or (2) they went bankrupt.

I also added a dialog that shows you what to do if the order was not processed. This evidently happens on occasion, so I’m glad I was able to provide some info about how to get oneself out of that terrible situation.

Also, I’m delighted to inform you that the Pet Personality Test is back. I removed it because it was built stupidly. Now it is built more smarter. Let me explain. Instead of creating 108 images (!) for each possible result, it just pulls from the cover image that is associated with the suggested collection. Thusly I’m feeling extremely crafty at this particular moment. Which is great because I’m completely expecting an avalanche of self-doubt to destroy it all quite soon.

June Fundraiser

Now that the month is nearly over, it’s a great time to tell you that this month’s fundraiser is for Pug Rescue Austin:

As usual, $10 per shirt sold will go to PRA.

Get yours here.

Summer Sale

I’m also having a sale that involves free shipping for orders over $35. This is to incentivize people to order tee shirts or something with their prints, since the $30 photo edit option is by far my most frequently ordered item. So for all of you who are considering a photo edit, you can achieve the ultimate honor of having you shipping “on the apartment,” as they say.

More Pet Portraiture

And finally, below is what I’ve been working on this week:

cat robin hood art
pet portrait
cat portrait
cat robin hood art
cat robin hood art
cat robin hood art
cat robin hood art
cat robin hood art
cat robin hood art

Instagram, Website Updates and, ah, Hair

by Coat & Tails on

First of all, I’m delighted to inform you that the Bouldin Creek display has been going very well. Proof of this is that I’ve been tagged on Instagram by not one, but two, patrons:

save the animals instagram

instagram bouldin creek cafe pet portrait

 

This is deeply satisfying, but not as satisfying as having also finally styled those terribly distasteful default dialog boxes that used to haunt my otherwise beautiful website. Now, look at this magical apex of design and practicality:

dialog box

The astute follower of my ever-evolving website petri dish will also notice the perhaps indulgent use of Font Awesome icons, which are used sincerely to make the interface and processes easier. For instance, I added a help icon for the question I get asked most frequently:

help icon font awesome

…which also displays yet another modal:

help modal

You might think I’m showing you all these images simply because I’m immensely proud of myself. Good job; you’re right. But also: the information displayed in the previous image is also for those of you who don’t know whether I can include more than one pet in a single portrait, so it serves a practical purpose as well.

One more enhancement: I’ve also included a “Start Over” icon to each step in the process:

start over icon

That little back arrow shows up along each breadcrumb so that you can go back and start from a clean slate. It’s pretty much exactly like going to confession.

And BTW, that little arrow will only show up on the Collections page if you already have info stored. You can’t believe how unbelievably smug I feel right about now. I bet that would have cost me $500 if I had hired a developer.

On the portrait end of the spectrum, I did some of them, and below is evidence, just in case you’re skeptical:

dog wearing clothes

And a photo edit:

princess dog wearing sunglasses

 

Bouldin Creek Cafe

by Coat & Tails on

Earlier this week I hung some artwork at Bouldin Creek Cafe:

artwork at bouldin creek cafe

The prints I’m showing there are for sale on my site. I started to list each item individually on the Merch section, but, in my typical fashion, I took the less tedious and more difficult route, which was to add a “Buy Print!” button to the Clothes page:

buy now button

First, arrange your print the way you want it using the arrows, and then hit the Buy Print! button. You will then be taken to the Frames page and then the Cart page.

There is still some work to do to get this to be elegant – for instance, in the breadcrumbs, there is still the Photo Upload tab displayed, even if the user just wants to buy a print.

Also: 25% of what I make from these prints will be given to Austin Pets Alive!. Not sure exactly the circumstances under which someone would want a random cat or dog wearing clothing in their domiciles, but people have bought them before, so what the hell? Also, it was pretty fun (in an extremely irritating, distraction-from-existential-boredom kind of way) to create that little button, since it was programatically a little tricky.

As always please let me know if you have any trouble with the site, or have any questions about the portraits. I also welcome any questions you may have about life in general. I particularly like getting emails about how you can help maximize the girth of my primary reproductive organ, so those are also welcome (but for some weird reason they always tend to go into my spam folder). Talk soon!

Speaking in Tongues, Videos, and a Gallery of Horror

by Coat & Tails on

I think I’ve finally come to terms with the fact that Coat & Tails isn’t just about drawing pets wearing clothes. I mean, for other people, it’s mostly that, but for me, it’s a interdisciplinary project, and I love interdisciplinary projects/hate doing one thing over and over again/love learning new things/hate paying people to do things that I can learn myself.

One thing I’ve mentioned on this blog before is that I am using C&T as a crash course in web-development. Well, I’m happy to report that I was able to create a dynamic gallery page. The thumbnails that are on that page are pulled in from the same place that the thumbnails on the clothes page are pulled from. So now, every time I put a thumbnail on the clothes page, it is automatically populated on the gallery page.

I know that’s not a big deal for any run-of-the-mill developer, but I’m not a developer, so I’m pretty excited. It’s like being in a foreign country, and you hate it, and you’re in jail, and no one understands you, so you run around trying to prove your innocence by playing charades until you run out of ideas and collapse from frustration and exhaustion, but then you get possibly the best idea you’ve ever had, and you’re convinced that the cop holding you there is going to understand, and he does, and he sets you free, and you go home immediately and do something way more fun, like write a blog post about how happy you are to be out of jail.

Not that I even really needed a gallery page! I’m just extremely tenacious and stubborn. It bothered the shit out of me that I couldn’t make this thing work.

Outside of the gallery page, I also made a videos page and a testimonials page. Although the videos are pretty unprofessional, I enjoyed making them. I mostly used QuickTime and iMovie with a Snowball (which is a microphone that looks like the thing from Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy or the offspring of a Storm Trooper and the Abominable Snowman). The best part was hearing myself talk. I had no idea that I sounded like that. I had no idea I was an American. Pretty weird.

Here is one of the videos (although I’m not talking in it – Chopin is so much prettier than my awkward American tongue):

I realize it’s kind of boring, but I guess it’s alright. I made it mostly for the person who bought it and to give people an idea of how I work.

Alright, kids. Time to pour chips into my face while watching The Office for like the 4th time.

NIGHTY NIGHT!

The Gym, Themes, and Pet Personality Tests

by Coat & Tails on

I recently acquired a membership to 24 Hour Fitness, an exclusive gym for top athletes and members of The Illuminati.

But I was horrified to learn that the gym is not actually open 24 hours per day, 7 days per week, as its name implies. They should have called it “18 Hour Fitness” or added an asterisk to the logo, like this:

24 Hour Fitness *

*lol we’re not really open 24 hours

The lack of 24-hour access at 24 Hour Fitness is terribly inconvenient because I often feel the need to bathe in other people’s germs whilst pumping large quantities of iron at 9 PM on a Saturday. So you could say that I feel a bit short-changed, especially since I typically don’t have anything better to do on Saturday night.

However, I look at these situations as opportunities for creative problem solving, and thusly, I started doing pull-ups on random apparati such as tree branches, stairwell railing, and the shoulders of very tall strangers.

I’m happy to say that I’m seeing results. My lats are enormous, which is extremely helpful for when I’m flexing in the mirror. I also have developed an impressive collection of shirtless gym selfies, which as everyone knows is essential for effective online dating.

But having a bulging set of Latissimus dorsi is also helpful for drawing: I’m now able to use my Wacom and keyboard with much more prescision and dexterity.

But alas I have not been able to paint very much lately because I have been immersed in the laborious task of updating my website to include Themes and more Pet Personality Tests.

Regarding the former, Themes will allow a more niche and conceptually fluid aesthetic for your portrait. For instance, if you are a Twin Peaks fan, and you have an inordinate number of pets, then you could get them all rendered as different Twin Peaks characters:

twin peaks

I could not put it in “Men” or “Women” categories because there are multiple genders in each possible Theme. So basically, you can shop by gender or theme.

At first I thought this would require a sizeable cash investment for the necessary development, but I decided to do it myself, so it only required an extensive time-and-frustration-and-sanity investment.

By the end, it was actually quite satisfying. I essentially had to add a category, assign it a number, and then add logic so that it would populate the dropdown. For instance, “men” is “0” and “women” is “1.” I added “Themes” as “2”, and then said “if 0 then male, if 1 then female, and if 2 then theme. It used to be “if not 0, then women, which was obviously a lot cleaner. But that’s really all it took.

Regarding the more robust Pet Personality Tests, there will now be individualized tests for each theme, e.g., “Which Twin Peaks character is your pet?”

I’m also proud to report that users will also be able to share my things to popular social networking sites such as Friendster, Myspace, and Google Plus. I’m reasonably anticipating a deluge of acclaim and attention on social media, which is, after all, my raison d’être.

Outside of the psychosis-inducing process of website-updation, I have also been working vigorously on a plan for showing my voluminous body of work at Bouldin Creek Cafe. That is happening on May 10th (or something like that). I’m excited about the opportunity, and the plan is in place, but now I actually have to execute, which is always challenging, especially because I have to arrange my schedule around the hours of operation at 24 Hour Fitness.

Southby and Twin Peaks, Continued

by Coat & Tails on

I know I said in my last post that I wouldn’t be attending SXSW, but I actually ended up going for a little bit. It was very Kafka-esque: after we decided to see a particular band, we circled the proverbial castle of SXSW until we were in front of the very band we had planned to see, only to be told that the venue was 300 people over the limit, and that nothing would happen until they were at a safe capacity. The fire marshall apparently has a distaste for crowds, which I can relate to. And after 4 beers, I felt powerlessly drawn to the rosy scent wafting in from the row of Portable Potties. I couldn’t help but to visit one, but this meant that there was no way back. The Door Guy said in a solemn, portentous tone, “Once you leave, you cannot come back.”

So it was a lot like life in that it was doomed before it even began.

Luckily, K is sort of like me in that she’s restless and super bored by 98% of live music, so it wasn’t no thing at all. That was refreshing; I never really got the appeal, either, and I never understood why so many people pay so much and put up with so many hassles for such a simple, if not boring experience.

But, walking around downtown was pretty fun. Although I am not as drawn to other people as I sometimes am to rosy scents, I love the past time of people watching. Wait, is that synonymous for straight up judging? Probably.

So we “people watched” and tried to find free beer, but decided that it was probably a rumor, like El Dorado, and went back to her place, where she had a refrigerator full of Dos Equis, which is by all accounts a respectable craft beer. We enjoyed a few of those on her porch in the fantastic weather whilst reflecting upon our SXSW experience.

Then we went to a dinner party and I feel vaguely awkward about it but I don’t know why. Perhaps because I mentioned something about blood at the end and then left abruptly.

Anyway, speaking of dinner parties, I was able to work on the Log Lady from Twin Peaks this weekend:

log lady dog

Just a work in progress. Really struggling with color: it all seems so chaotic.

Hey, what are YOU doing for southby?

by Coat & Tails on

The three-week-long commercial that is SXSW is finally upon us. On social media, people seem to be either extremely excited or extremely annoyed. The excited ones frequently and loosely use the hashtag “sxsw” to show that they are, in fact, not missing out on the many opportunities to see something truly unique: live music in the Live Music Capital of the World. Unique indeed. The annoyed ones seem to be mostly upset about traffic, but I suspect that their complaints are also perhaps rooted in a certain anxiety that the festival brings with it, namely, a high probability that its potential will not be realized. There are after all celebrities to spot, dreamy front men and women and out of towners with whom to have flings, and an immense amount of free alcohol.

I am in the latter category, since: (1) I have no social skills, (2) I have a distaste for crowds and lines, and (3) I perpetually discharge the aroma of “old-man” which basically smells like mildew with a hint of Cheetos. Thusly I will resign myself to spending most of the SXSW holiday working, which I’m actually pretty excited about, because there are some new things being created for your enjoyment and possible procurement.

The first thing I’m creating is an option on my site that transcends gender binaries (“Coat and Tails is so progressive!”): in addition to the male/female structure, I will also be offering a “theme” option to house collections that either involve both genders – such as a Star Wars collection – or non-gender-specific outfits – such as astronauts, pilots, and web-developers.

This is actually very easy and I have in fact already accomplished it in a testing environment. So the code is done. However, without the actual products, that innovation is totally useless. But I am chugging along, and my absence from SXSW will help move it farther forward. For instance, yesterday I continued work on the Twin Peaks collection. Here is what I have so far for Agent Cooper:

agent cooper dog pit bull

(I am still figuring out the background.)

This was a rather difficult portrait to create, mostly because without Cooper’s pronounced chin, opposable thumbs, and slick haircut…

agent cooper

…Cooper would just be a guy in a trenchcoat. And because I didn’t want him to be associated with exhibitionism, I had to figure a way to represent him without these essential ingredients. The task was daunting, but it is in difficulties that we are able to explore new possibilities, which may sometimes yield new solutions. The solution here was adding the pseudo-patterned background that alludes to Cooper’s character:

cooper coffee donuts

You will also be able to choose a different background that isn’t as “Cooper” but is very much Twin Peaks:

agent cooper curtains

These are the only two backgrounds that I have so far, but possible others include the opening “Welcome to Twin Peaks” scene, a scene containing the One Eyed Jack’s sign, and a scene containing the Double R Diner sign.

Also on the lathe of my digital haberdashery are Seinfeld, Mad Max, and Mario Kart:

jerry seinfeld dog

mad max dog

mario brothers dogs

….as well as more generic themes such as musicians:

bb king

And pilots:

earheart earhart dog

It will take a lot of time to get this out into the world in any kind of purchasable way, but I am very much on it.