A couple of notes on Hashtags and Social Media
April 17, 2015, 10:06 am

I do a lot of Social Media strategy and statistical analysis. Here's a set of tips about the major social networks hashtags.

First of all, let's get this out of the way. Hashtags WORK. On everything. To a greater or lesser degree.

Twitter. Hashtags are super important to your social media strategy, and make the difference between languishing in anonymity and rising up in the ranks. Twitter tends to be a place that thrives on tech talk, politics, and celebrity. So those tags tend to be the ones that get the most play. #javascript will immediately get a hundred eyes on your tweet. Plan your character count to include at least one relevant hashtag.

Instagram. Hashtags are equally important, but the audience is fairly different. On instagram, tags involving food, selfies, and art will get the major response that you're looking for. When hashtagging #java on twitter versus instagram, you will get a much different response.

Facebook. Hashtags are nearly completely irrelevant here. In fact studies have shown that using hashtags on personal posts discourages people from looking at your content. Which is a shame, because Facebook is set up to handle hashtags, it's just that no one cares.

Google+. Sigh. Why won't they just release an api so that third party apps can post to them? Google Plus is unique in that they will auto tag your posts if they find relevant tag information within your post. You don't even have to try. Of course, you can also help it along with some actual tags of your own.

Tumblr. Hashtags get generated as a side content for tumblr posts, and so don't have to be a part of your content strategy, but can be tacked on as meta information. This is a nice addition to the process. Tumblr thrives on immediate image content, and so photography and graphic tags tend to get the most play.

Is this a comprehensive list? Not even a little. These are just some notes I've made along the way while trying to stay relevant in a world that moves quickly every day. Hopefully you find something useful in here.

Open Mike Nite
April 6, 2015, 11:37 pm

A lot of things are happening suddenly. Ben Hulan, a fellow teacher at the Academy of Art, and I started a webcomic called Open Mike Nite. Ben is taking on the writing duties, and I'm doing the art.

It's been a really fun process for me to learn about Manga Studio for comic creation. The fact of the matter is, Photoshop isn't the right tool for all digital art. Manga Studio creates a crisp line quality that just can't be equaled in Photoshop. It's the real difference for comic creators.

I've also been having a lot of fun trying to push myself with each new strip to improve my art and be free to move the look of the characters wherever it seems appropriate. It's really one of the coolest things I'm doing right now.

Speaking of things I'm doing right now, the Bold Italic Just did an article about me and my Portrait Project. I met up with Carolina Quijano outside work for a bit before going into teach, and it was really a fun interview. I even got to chat with her about statistics (even though she wisely left all of that out of the article).

It's worth mentioning that I only had 2 spots left when the article ran, and I now have over 50 emails to sift through asking for spots. So... There's that.

I'm also trying to put together a printed version of my bart sketches and instagram drawings. Stay tuned for more news on that soon.

Social Media Engagement
January 29, 2015, 10:32 am

It amazes me how many people sign up for social media and never engage in any participation. I guess I can understand when someone rarely checks their social accounts, but I really can't understand the MASSES that sign up, and engage a little, but only barely.

Let's take a big example. The Rock is on instagram. He has 6.6 million followers at the time of this post. On his last post, after 3 hours, he was only able to muster 100,000 likes and 1,000 comments.

Now hold on, untwist your bunches. Yes, those numbers are gross. All of them are. But think of them relatively. Out of his millions of followers, he only managed a 1.5% interaction rate. The most electrifying man in sports entertainment today, could only pull together a measly 1000 comments out of all of his millions and miiilllllions of followers.

There are a number of interesting dilemmas and predicaments this brings up, but one of the more interesting ones is just how many people sign up for social media AND THEN NEVER USE IT. It's crazy. A worse idea is, what hope do the rest of us have? Well, probably none, but this is a great scenario to study statistically, and we should always be studying the statistics of interaction.

Impressions and interactions tend to come with a 1000 to 1 ratio across the board. do you want to have 10 people comment or like your thing? you need to get it in front of 10,000 people. Do you want a hundred people to BUY your product? I've actually found that you'll need to get your product in front of closer to 1,000,000 eyes before that happens. There are things that alter these numbers, such as the amount of interaction you reciprocate, and how murderously intent on your product your audience is, but in general, these numbers stay true across most internet positions.

The Portrait Project Continues
January 18, 2015, 3:41 pm

I have now completed three paintings for the #PortraitProject.

The first two portraits I painted, for this year long project, were my friends. This latest portrait was of a complete stranger. A person I had never met before, agreed to sit in front of me and let me doodle them. I've heard some people pay double for that.

We met on Friday, to size each other up, and we decided it would all go down at a wonderful little place called Ashley's Cafe. I'd highly recommend it. It's run by a group of little Korean ladies, and I devoured a whole meatball sandwich there. Honestly, one of the coolest parts of this whole project will surely be getting to go to new places around San Francisco and Oakland, and trying out all the food stuffs.

Working from an outside lit public cafe could've been a disaster for many reasons, but it all turned out a lot better than expected. The light stayed true, for the most part, and I managed to riggle this out in about 2 hours.

There are still plenty of spots left in the year, so if you're in the bay area, or will be later in the year, you should totally sign up for a portrait. I'm still posting lots and lots of sketches on Instagram, so you should definitely hang out over there, if you're interested in my BART sketches or getting your selfie sketched maybe.

If you're an artist, you should be supporting Samsung
January 12, 2015, 11:34 am

I have had a wonderful year that has given me many wonderful opportunities but one of the more interesting ones has been to get involved with Apple in a small way.

I never used apple products growing up. My dad always had a computer in the house, but they were always other brands. From an old zenith portable, to more modern HP systems. We usually either had DOS or Windows. I was institutionalized against apple products.

When I was capable, I bought myself a Wacom Graphire drawing tablet, and began experimenting with drawing on the computer. At first I would draw in pencil, scan the drawing, and then color in the computer, but then I began trying to draw direct into PaintShop Pro and once I did, I was off to the races. Eventually I tried Photoshop Painter and other fun products, and when OpenCanvas came out, I was HOOKED.

When I began trying to develop games, I realized that I should probably attempt to create something for IOS, and it turns out you CAN'T develop for IOS, unless you have a Mac. So I got one. I purchased the smallest, cheapest mac laptop I could. ... Which was $1200 dollars. An astronomical price for me at the time. But that little system has had legs, and it changed my thoughts about Macs and their capabilities. I still have that Mac, I still use it to this day, and it is still impressive.

My point in bringing all of this up is that I have tried it all, in my own due time. I have had many mobile devices, I have had many computers, and I have used all the software. When I give you my opinion on most of these things, it tends to come from a place of experience, instead of just institutionalization.

I am always astounded at how astounded other people are when I show them the art that I make digitally. Don't they know that this is possible, and has been for some time?

No. They don't and although I don't want to ruffle newfound friendly feathers, it is important to note that Apple is largely the reason people don't know that this is possible. Apple's current state of artistic creation is subpar at best. And people have tried it, seen how it is, and decided that's just the current state.

But that is not the case. Samsung has been creating devices that have touch AND pen capability for artists for years now. And they're good at it. The Note line of products all come with a Wacom pen that is paired with the device (not any particular app) and these products give you the ability to be an artist on the go. These are not silly toys with nubs on the end, they are full featured, pressure sensitive, art producing, power houses. And as artists, you should know about them.

Portrait Project Schedule
January 7, 2015, 12:31 pm

I've created a page for the Portrait Project which lists out available and completed dates. I'll make it prettier and more useful later, but for now this will work. There's still plenty of time left in the year to get in on this fun opportunity.

I've even been pondering having a show at the end of it. 52 pieces is nothing to sneeze at for a show.

The Portrait Project
January 4, 2015, 6:20 pm

Welcome to 2015.

This year I have given myself an artistic goal that is well within reach. I will post one sketch every day on Instagram, and I will be doing a painted portrait every weekend. The first painting has been completed of my friend Nikola Pope.

I'm still not certain if there will be a theme through the portrait project, but one thing is certain, I need more subjects. This is your chance to do me a solid, and yourself a favor. Who hasn't wanted a painting of themselves? Everyone wants that. I'm giving you your chance. A live portrait, on a weekend of your choice, as long as you're somewhere in the San Francisco Bay Area.

The details are these. You will pick a weekend that you can devote 2 to 3 hours of your time to the portrait (yes, you will sit for it.) Pick a place where you can be comfortable doing something for that amount of time. Playing video games, drawing, writing, working on a laptop, etc... Then I draw you. Then we have lunch or dinner or coffee, we catch up on life, and then we part ways never to speak again. I can't pay model rates, but I can give you a high resolution image resembling your face.

If you are interested in participating in this project, please email me at hamdiggy@gmail.com

Autodesk Sketchbook Pro
December 29, 2014, 10:18 pm

I've been drawing a lot on my Instagram, and I am starting to post more on my Patreon as well.

A lot of people have been asking what tools I use to draw. I draw mostly these days on my Samsung Note 3. I use a program called Autodesk Sketchbook Pro for Android. If you visit that link, and it says it's missing, you're screwed. The thing of it is, the version of Sketchbook I use is no longer available for purchase, and more's the pity, because I don't like the new version.

The old version (which can be found around the internet, by searching for sketchbook pro apk) had the ability to lock the tool and swatch palettes to the side of the phone. For the life of me, I can not find this functionality in the new version. This is a hard line selling point, and the whole reason I use that software versus other similar competing products like Photoshop Touch (which has fucking awful pressure sensitivity) and Corel Painter (which actually has some awesome pens, but not separate erasers).

So when I tell people I use Autodesk Sketchbook, technically I'm telling them I use a product which doesn't even exist anymore, which is a real shame, because I use it daily now.

2015 is shaping up to be a great year. My plan is to make a portrait sketch every weekday, and a painted portrait every weekend. It's an ambitious goal, and one that will rely on the timing of others, so here's hoping.

Three day post mortem of Instagram push
December 27, 2014, 12:17 pm

Now is your chance to walk away from statistics and analysis.

After 3 days of intense drawing and instagramming, I have gained 100 followers. Hard fought followers. Active Instagrammers for the most part, not bots. This is important, because before I had a few followers but mostly my friends, and most of my friends are not active on instagram. This is a major shift away.

The feedback loop is going to start soon, I can feel it. My likes and comments are both up 900%. That is a tremendous leap forward in interactions. To be fair, my most engaged follower is my mother who went back and tried her hardest to like all my old content, but fell off after about 100 :D

After this initial push, I am going to try to pull back and post fewer, but make more of the quick sketch portraits. The real problem is that, like any art that you love, they are starting to become less quick, because I'm beginning to care about them a bit more.

Regardless, I already have about 10 drawings stored up and ready to go, while I have nearly 100 pictures stored for drawing later. Getting a Note 3 that is on my carrier has changed my whole game. I can take screenshots and save them for later, draw up and store drawings on dropbox, and post up any drawing anytime, all on one device now.

I'm also having a blast doing all these portraits. I can't wait for the full portrait project to start. Posting these on the off days and the full portraits on the weekends will be great.