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.

Pickles the Pug

by Coat & Tails on

Big news, everyone! After literally minutes of research, I bought some of those socks that don’t show when you wear tennis shoes. This is a huge step not only for Coat and Tails, but also for me personally.

Less compelling news is that I’ve started reaching out to other artists to make things and put them on my site so that they can draw dogs and cats and lizards as well.

This one is from Ricardo, who is excellent at drawing hair:

napoleon dog

That is Pickles.

Here is the actual Pickles next to the painted Pickles:

pickles the pug

Here is a pickle next to the real Pickles next to the painted Pickles:

meta pickles

So meta.

(Is that still a thing that sounds cool? God I hope so. I have a hitherto unmarred reputation for maintaining a resolute air of coolness which may or may not come off as smuggery and/or smuggitude.)

Alright. That’s all I have the energy for.

BYE.

Not So Frequently Asked Questions

I always love being interviewed. It’s nice when it’s a publication of some kind, but it’s even nicer when it’s from someone who just likes my work and wants to know more.

Yesterday I had just that opportunity. Some people had some questions. As I was answering them, I realized that I must have done a horrible job describing what I do or even providing answers to obvious and potential questions on my site. Anyway, I thought I’d copy/paste that conversation here just in case anyone had the same questions.

Note: The names have been changed to protect the identities of those involved.

Note: The questions are in italics.

Dear Mr. and Mrs. Banana Pants,

Thanks for the inquiry! I am happy to answer any any questions. Feel free to ask more should I have confused you further by my responses (below), which is likely.

For the photo edit option you offer, is that you graphically recreating our pets’ faces and photoshopping them onto whichever outfit/scene we choose?

I don’t recreate it; I just blend your photo into the existing digital painting.

You mentioned using the picture we send you of our pets to upload onto the pre-made drawings, but will this picture be modified to look like it was hand-drawn?

No. It will just be the photo. The clothes are relatively realistic (the newer ones, anyway), so there isn’t a huge need to make the photo look hand-drawn.

Are the examples you have posted on your site examples of the photo edit option or just the drawing option?  If not, do you have any samples of the photo edit option?

On the Gallery page, they are separated. On the samples below the carousel on individual collection pages, they are mixed.

I’m very glad you brought this up – on the individual collection pages, the samples need to have captions with info about whether they are photo edits or drawings. Luckily I know a web developer who can help me with this for a modest $200/hour.

Also, do you have any other examples of a two-pet portrait besides the cat one you have in your gallery?

I will try to find some that aren’t on the site. Surprisingly, most people do not go with the two-pet portrait, so I don’t have a lot of examples.

They can be tricky depending on the outfits you go with. For instance, The Princess (the one with the throne and the squirrels) can look rather awkward paired with The Cowboy – even if those two personalities are spot-on for the pets’ characters. One shows virtually the whole body, and one shows only the waist up. We can discuss this further once you choose the outfits you want.

Also, do you create larger portrait sizes than 11×14?

I limit the size on the photo edits because people usually take photos with their phones, which doesn’t print well at sizes larger than 11”x14”. However if you have a good camera or otherwise have professional photos at a high resolution, then I’m happy to print them at a larger size. The drawing option can go up to 20”x24″.

If so, what would the pricing be on those?

I’ll get back to you. I have to dig up my spreadsheet that contains the difficult calculations with the formulas and whatnot.

Lastly, my friend and I are interested in each having our own portrait created and were wondering if you would do a discounted price for ordering two portraits. Please let me know!

Sure, but primarily because your friend’s dog is named Bessie, which is my dog’s name (actually it’s Bess – but close enough). I will need to base the actual discount partly on what you end up ordering, so I’ll need more information. What are the details of these individual portraits? Photo edit or drawing? Size? Wholly customized or readymade? The other part will involve the creation of a complex algorithm that will deduce whether this will be a “sound business decision”.

Alrighty. I hope this helps. Let me know if you have any more questions.

Thanks again for the kind words, and I look forward to working together, and I also look forward to updating my FAQ page based on your inquiry.

Alright, there you have it, folks. My interview for Mr. and Mrs. Banana Pants.

Wobbly Wacom and a Whiteboard

It’s a blustery day today, both in terms of the weather and in terms of shit happening. But before I launch into it, I have to say that, first and foremost, just as I sat down to write, I found that my Wacom tablet – which is the thingy I use to paint digitally – has all of the sudden become wobbly. It’s like when you’re at a restaurant, and you’re trying to impress your date, and you lean in to talk with an air of sophistication about your accomplishments, your eyes finding theirs like a sparrow alighting on a branch, and you end up spilling the freshly filled waters onto your crotchal area, because the fucking table is wobbly, just like my Wacom is now, except that it’s every 2 microseconds, and your eyes are instead like pterodactyls alighting a giant prehistoric pile of carcasses, because that is what it is like to digitally paint with a wobbly Wacom.

Sorry, I got kind of carried away there. I am just not even going to go back to edit that.

Anyway, I guess I shouldn’t be complaining, since I’ve had my Wacom tablet for six years and it has worked flawlessly despite having enjoyed many sloppy meals directly over it while scanning Facebook and simultaneously trying not to vomit. Even though it is a completely reasonable reaction to 98% of Facebook, I have not vomitted directly on the Wacom itself, so I feel like I deserve to have it wobble free, since holding back puke is rather challenging. Anyway, as I think about my Wacom, I become quite nostalgic. I’ve made so many images with it. I made my first pure-shit digital drawing with it. I only had Adobe CS3. Those were the days. Those days involved creative exploration, a positive attitude, and a lack of basic hygiene. At least I still am giving 100% towards that last one.

Speaking of percentages, I spent only 70% of $100 today on an 8′ x 4′ white board, which I just finished installing in my living room. It’s like a giant sketch pad minus the shame of only having one or two decent drawings in it. I never really got along well with sketchbooks. I always wanted them to be filled with great drawings, but great drawings don’t happen in sketchbooks. Sketchbooks are for sketching and are by definition kind of shitty. But now I can sketch and figure out the shapes of castles and rabbits and bears wearing tuxedos and whatnot. Since that is what I’m going to be focusing on. Here is a sample:

bear wearing tux

This will be my “personal work” and will accompany my Coat & Tails project, since it’s similar in terms of style. But it won’t be similar in terms of concept, so I’m a little hesitant. I might need to go under a different name, since there’s a very large chance that I’ll alienate my target audience by showing animals wielding what some might decide is weaponry.

What else? There are a lot of portraits in the works, and a few done, notably:

pomeranian portrait

That is Pica, and he has a lot of followers on Instagram.

Also in the works is a Napoleon portrait and some of the standard ones I’m not done with yet.

Ok! Consider yourselves updated and also lucky because I didn’t overshare or mention anything that might make you uncomfortable, which I’m wont to do. On that note, I am going to continue sitting here in my underwear trying to figure out how to balance my Wacom.

Color and some other things

In my last post, I overshared some details about my disinclination for cleaning. That was roughly 1 to 5 weeks ago, so I feel like I should update you on how that’s going, partly because it’s incredibly interesting, and partly because I know you’re eager to read more about this radical new contraption – the vacuum – that I’ve acquired.

But the truth is that I haven’t used it at all. The vines and the weeds of my stuff (and the stuff that I’ve tracked in from all the mountain bicycling) have been creeping in as I move through life. It’s really just unmanageable madness, but I have developed the ability to avoid focusing on it. I feel surrounded by a chaos that seems inevitable, and yet control is the key to survival. It’s pretty challenging.

Anyway, I do come with some actual news about Coat and Tails. I had a bit of a meltdown this past week that may or may not have been girl-related, and I didn’t really do much. But once it passed, I was reborn, and I got my shit together and made some things. One of said things is a colorful astronaut:

astronaut dog

Obviously I am not done.

Here are some done ones:

playboy dog

pit bull civil war

That last one was a bit of an aberration – I get a lot of weird requests around Valentine’s day.

The Impo(r)tance of Cleaning

by Coat & Tails on

For those of you who love irrelevant, picture-less blog posts in which the author quotes himself, this post is dedicated to you.

I shall begin thusly:

“I’ll clean when I have nothing better to do.”
-Bryce Dishongh

I spent a lot of time this weekend behind both the computer and the handlebars. At first, I thought it was an ideal balance of physical exertion and mental stimulation, but now I think I might have overdone it, since I’m goddamned sick of looking at code and I’m also limping from several humorous crashes I endured whilst mountain bicycling upon the Mountains of South Dallas.

Overdoing it to this extent also has the following negative consequence: a lack of routine maintenance of the hygienic variety. For instance, I have cleaned or vacuumed my apartment the exact number of times that I’ve used my stove: zero.

So when I couldn’t stand to draw another dog hair, copy and paste another line of code, or force another pedal stroke, I embraced the opportunity to face the squalor. Thusly and accordingly, I hauled my limping arse over to my favorite local business, Target, for some much needed cleaning supplies.

I procured a locally sourced vacuum cleaner and an artisanal toilet brush.

Upon arriving home, I put on some soothing music by the new-age group AC/DC.

My dog was terrified of the vacuum. Actually, I’m not sure if she was terrified of the vacuum or just really weirded out by watching me clean, since she’s never seen that happen before. Her expression seemed to be saying, “Who are you?” as equally as it could have been “What the fuck is that giant loud thing?”
My downstairs neighbor, on the other hand, might have been inclined to ponder the latter question.

Anyway, I’m happy to report that my carpets are now non-bio-hazardous and I no longer appear ghost-like in the mirror.

You could even say that it is ready for visitors.

Actually, nah. That would require a lot more cleaning. Cleaning of a figurative nature, too, I’m afraid. Furthermore it is likely to be the trainwrecked lion’s den of bikes and boxes that it was before last night’s dabbling in domesticity in approximately no time.

That said, I would like to formally announce that Coat & Tails is hiring an intern. I’m particularly looking for candidates majoring in Janitorial Science. Unfortunately this is a non-paid internship, but winning candidates will get real-world experience in a new, up-and-coming industry.

A Chihuahua as The Intellectual

Since moving to South Dallas from South Austin, I’ve undergone a rather abrupt change in psychology. I’m more mature and less wildly hairy. Going out has lost much of its appeal. A lot of that is simply being physically far away from bars worthy of patronizing, but it’s also that I’m creeping into my mid-30s, which for me means that everything is increasingly irritating. Since I was already a crusty old man by the time I was 22, by now I’m about ready to join AARP.

For instance, on Friday night, I stayed in and performed routine bicycle maintenance whilst watching a television program offering by an obscure internet streaming service called Netflix. Granted, I was at various points swiping left and maybe even right on an arcane match-making application called Tinder, but that was the extent of my socializing.

This new life has lent itself to developing a variety of skills required for the socially awkward annoyed. One such skill is mountain bicycling. Since there is a trail directly outside my current place of residence, I have been frequently bicycling upon the mountains of South Dallas. I went yesterday two times. Two times! Bess was thrilled. She runs alongside me. And, when I eat shit and lay prostrate upon the crags in agony screaming expletives, she comforts me.

Another skill I’ve been developing requires some context. I don’t want to brag, but literally I have at least one visitor looking at – and maybe even reading – this blog every single day (in retrospect, this might actually be me). I don’t really know how they end up here, but I feel inclined to mention that I do sometimes paint pet portraits. That is definitely a skill that I’ve been developing. And yesterday, between bouts of mountain bicycling and Bess-spooning and eating out of the can – I drew a chihuahua:

chihuahua

And here is its development:

chihuahua gif

And now, I am pleased to present a sales pitch.

If you are as impressed with me as I am with myself, and you’d like to have me draw your pet wearing this outfit, click hereabouts.

/end salespitch/

/start PR nightmare/

And now I must go enjoy several beverages of an alcoholic nature whilst changing the brake cables on my road bike (The Hooptie) for no reason.

New Webshiz

by Coat & Tails on

There’s nothing more horrifying for me than losing a general feeling of control over the things I care about. Take my dog disturbing people, for instance. When she doesn’t come when I call, I feel completely out of control. And the anxiety that comes from feeling powerless turns me into a some kind of weird half-bearded drill instructor. My wrath is uncharacteristically furious. This is why Bess is so well behaved and maybe why she’s even a little bit anxious.

This is also why I decided to alter my physiology to preclude the event of bearing children.

Being compulsive just wouldn’t work that well with children. It works ok with dogs, as we have seen. But you know what it works especially well with? Relationships!

Just joking.

Websites! It works incredibly well with websites!

Web developers are the modern mechanics. You say “Something’s not right” and they say something unintelligible like “Yeah the jQuery isn’t calling the right HTML tag.” And because you have no idea what the shit they’re talking about, you pay whatever they ask.

Which is not good for me because I care deeply about my website, so when it breaks, I kind of freak out.

It recently broke, and I kind of freaked out.

So I needed to know what jQuery is and why the hell the HTML wasn’t coming when it was called, just like my dog.

So what did I do?

If you said “learn programming so you can do it yourself,” you’re horribly wrong!

If you said “learn just enough to fix the problem and add the changes you want,” you’re horribly right!

Yes it was horrible. But after spending roughly 14 hours studying the codebase, I did actually figure out how to dynamically present content that is stored in a database that is managed through an administrative interface.

See, I even know all that techy sounding developer lingo bullshit!

And thusly and accordingly I am proud to present the new and improved Clothes page:

webshiz

The problem I was trying to solve was adding samples so people could see what the outfit looked like on different types of pets. A lot of people just made their decision based on the model; for instance, The Intellectual has a Chihuahua as the model, and I kept getting orders for Chihuahuas. Which is fine, but now I hope to get orders for other types of dogs, because now people will be able to see what that costume might look like on their dog.

IS YOUR MIND BLOWN OR WHAT?

This new design also offers a description of the clothes and why I drew them and, at the bottom, there is a “Celebrities with this Personality” section.

And thusly and accordingly, after a metric fuck-ton of work that would impress approximately zero developers, I’m also pleased to present to you a huge amount of smugness:

lookin' smug

Further, as a hip young startup that consummates its victories by throwing extravagant parties in order to attract and keep young talent for almost no compensation, I’ll be celebrating the milestone by ordering Jimmy John’s and sitting around in my underwear emanating the kind of self-satisfaction you see when someone drifts into the parking spot you wanted at the grocery store on a Sunday afternoon.