Tuesday, May 31, 2011

k weblog post!

I just put up a really long post over on the K Weblog about the process that we went through to put together the new Arrington de Dionyso's Malaikat dan Singa record, Suara Naga, from start to finish!  Here it is below in its entirety . . . 

The K Blog has been hopping lately, and every time I want to post, I just run out of time. That's only because things around here have been busy, though! We have a full release schedule already for the year, and more 7 inches coming out than you can count on your fingers (well, you can actually count them with exactly all of your fingers, but we're getting close to using our toes around here too -- there's that much happening)! And even though the weather is warming up and the Pacific Northwest is becoming the most awesome place on the planet for the next few months, we're still working hard, and I thought it would be fun to show you something that we just finished up, from pretty much start to finish. Actually, we finished it up earlier in the year, because the new Arrington de Dionyso's Malaikat dan Singa album, KLP226 - Suara Naga, has already been out since March 29, and we just repressed it even! Can you believe it? It's one of the best yet!

Whenever Arrington has something that he wants to put out on K, I know that it's not only going to sound incredible, but it's going to be more beautiful than you can even imagine. He is so talented! We had a really small budget for this record, but Arrington totally rolled with it and thought outside of the box. He didn't want to go in the direction of the jewel cases that are the norm for CDs, and unfortunately, the pretty paper Stumptown packaging was too expensive for this, so some brainstorming happened, followed by a little research . . . and finally, a really amazing and time-consuming final product. I'll show you below in pictures how it progressed from Arrington's giant, fragile drawing to the finished product that you might be (and should be!) already holding in your hands. I, personally, couldn't be happier!

Originally, Arrington wanted to make another fold-out LP jacket, much like KLP220, I See Beyond the Black Sun (that Ben and Joel so nicely are holding above), but again, the price was unfortunately even more than a standard LP jacket, and it just wasn't going to work out.

The next idea was to possibly make a giant poster to showcase all of his art and information, to fit inside of a standard LP jacket, much like what was included inside of the KLP215, Malaikat Dan Singa album (above). He had so much artwork that there really did need to be a good way to display it, and again, we went back to the drawing boards. After a bit of thinking, I can't remember who actually came up with the idea, but Arrington or Mariella suggested we create our own long layout to fold into a CD-size, where the CD would fold up into the middle of the paper, held in place by a foam dot with adhesive on one side. After a few mock-ups and a few talks to the wonderful Tumwater Printing, we started to work on the artwork.

In the photo above, Ben, and our sweet last intern, Kat, held up the very fragile painting that Arrington had made to use for his new album artwork. Obviously, it was LARGE! I wish that we had an incredible scanner or a better way to transfer this to a digital format, but we totally went with what we know . . . and it worked great!

I photographed each piece separately, getting the largest size that I could for each section, always overlapping just a little bit. (And I know that there's probably some really slick and easy way to do this, but this was fairly easy for what we were doing and needed.) Four of the sections are pictured above . . .

Next, I made a GIANT blank canvas in Photoshop. It had to be large because 1) we didn't know what section Arrington wanted to use for the artwork, 2) it had to be at least 12" high to use for an LP, and 3) because another Italian label was also releasing it with a large picture book on LP, and they would need all of the large files. Slowly, we pieced them together -- you can see where the colors of the background aren't the same, and the edges connecting the images are slightly fuzzy, due to the flash that we used not covering the paper equally, and the clone stamp connecting the images. Really, it wasn't a big deal for this instance because we didn't need to use the background anyway, and through a series of deleting colors and layers slowly, we got rid of the whole thing.

You can see it above with just a slight cream-colored background (to keep the same look of the paper, without any of the crinkles or texture), which allowed Arrington to see everything together, which was enough for him to decide that he wanted to change the colors and play with adjustment layers.

The image above is what he thought he wanted it to look like, but after a few days, he played around with it a little more, and it ended up printing out a little like the below image, with slightly more subdued colors.

Kat's holding up the final printed CD jacket, folded and cut to its final shape and size. And it looked awesome! The inside turned out black and white with more information, a few more images, and translated Indonesian lyrics. It also housed the CD (you can see both in the final pictures of this post)!

After everything came in, we had a folding party, where every single person in the office (including Arrington) helped out! One person would fold, another would place the dots and the CD, and another would place the final product in the clear, plastic CD sleeves that we found, and would seal them up and box them to send out for distribution! It's one of the best times to be in the office, since everyone is together, generally pretty chatty, and we get a small and much-needed break from staring at a computer screen and sending emails!

And of course, the final product! These are the front sides of the LP jacket, LP labels, LP insert, and CD jacket . . .

Followed by the back side of all of those, with the CD face included! There definitely isn't a better feeling than holding the finished LP in your hands for the first time, after staring at the non-physical artwork for what seems like such a long time! It is seriously the best! Luckily, we get to do it all the time, and there are so many more albums in the works! Today, we're finishing up the new Pine Hill Haints record, Welcome to the Midnight Opry. It is going to be incredible!
Thanks for reading! Hope that you're all doing well and had a wonderful long weekend!


Tuesday, May 10, 2011

wild heart

i watched this video this morning and have been listening to it throughout the day. so good. i love stevie nicks!

this video is via the amazing fieldguided (look at the blame it on my wild heart totes in the same post! so beautiful!)


Thursday, May 5, 2011

Spending Hiatus: March and April Update / Simplify My Life

Thanks to the amazing Mint.com, I know exactly what I spend money on every month. I actually know how much I've spent on what as far back as June 2009, so that really puts things in perspective when I compare the numbers for the different months, and to see how I'm improving, or even if I'm improving on my quest to be debt free and frugal. Pretty much, I've felt like I've done a poor job since reinstating the Spending Hiatus. Really, I forget about it every time I'm making a purchase, but remember every single day how I'm broke and shouldn't be spending money. It's funny how that happens, right? I can talk myself out of things, and convince myself the next minute that I should probably get whatever it is that I don't have, or that I have my eye on.

I've been pretty convinced this month alone that I need an Eames rocker (I don't), a new dining room table (along the lines of what my Grandma had, which my parents now have), and basically just all-new furniture and things. Really? I've been spending too much time on my new favorite website, which makes me feel totally and completely intern
et-organized, Pinterest, obsessing over the most beautifully decorated houses, and wishing that I had things. Just things that I don't have. Different things than I do have. And I'm conflicted between the vintage/retro things that I love and wanting everything to be Southwestern, which I also love, love, love and feel at home with. I know that there's a middle ground there somewhere, but all distractions aside, I want to CONSUME. Much like my eating habits, there is 25 years of only-child, get-what-I-want bad habits that I'm trying to change to new and healthier (not spending) habits, and it doesn't happen over night. My debt won't go away over night (unless I win the lottery, but I'm too cheap to gamble! ha!), so I should probably start somewhere. Not looking at those pretty blogs that make me want things? That's probably a good place. Not walking into a Goodwill? That's a better one. I'm pretty good at not buying expensive things, but plant me into a thrift store, and it's game on. Everything I find is cheap, cute, or useful. But do I really need anything? No. I've got three sets of dishes, loads of clothes, and tons of supplies to be productive and make things.

So, what have I spent my money on since the last update? Well, we did move, and used part of our emergency fund to pay for the deposit, dropping it down significantly. And we made our first very adult purchase together and bought a used washer and dryer. After visiting the thrift stores almost every day for the past month (what was I thinking?), I found a used elliptical machine and took it home this past Friday (at 40% off, but still). We spent some hefty money on rain boots, waterproof clothing, and camping supplies for Joel, justified as a school expense for his Marine Biology class to trudge around in tide pools for a week while camping on the ocean, and we ate out as much as we always do, though we have been pretty good about making more meals and stretching them, ultimately stretching our
groceries out longer. Let's face it -- the weekly food budget of $22.50 was kind of ridiculous for two people, and a total bust. Duh. I am upping our monthly budget to about $240/month, which is about $60/week (still possibly a little low for what we're used to? I wish we could be like these people here!), but we've got some wiggle room, so this is a good starting point to shoot for. A realistic starting point.

We're trying,
kind of. Since my last update though (at the end of February), we have put a whopping $2,000 towards out credit card (a little bit more, actually), basically cutting it IN HALF. We're still plugging away at paying off our car, putting a lot of money every month towards my student loan (and ignoring the part of me that wants to try to reduce my current payment), and have officially cut out all but the last one of our reoccurring bills (goodbye, Netflix and Weight Watchers . . . thanks for staying with us, internet!).

Since we've officially put in a full month at our new place, we've been able to compare our monthly expenses f
or the new place vs. the old one. We have a recurring savings of $65/month, since our new place's rent is cheaper (and did I mention that it's huge?!), our energy bill has been lower for the past month and a half (down by $42.00, and expected to keep dropping as the weather warms up), and the big (and semi-surprising) one . . . our gas bill is down by an average of $210. SERIOUSLY. Since I'm only a block to work, I rarely drive, and Joel has gotten in the habit of taking the bus to school or carpooling with our neighbor every single day. Plus, we're not paying for parking at either place, which isn't factored into any of our numbers. Who knows what those savings are? Another exciting thing is that since Joel works at the college, he is eligible for a discount on our telephone bill, so of course we took it! It's not much, but we're paying about $6 less than we were, and I'll totally take that any day.

My ONE goal for the month?
Quit shopping! Quit going to thrift stores. Do something productive instead.

I would love to see what we can put away this month on our measly budgets.

I seriously feel like my life revolves around debt reduction and weight loss, so I'm taking it upon myself to also clear the space in my mind spent on stupid tasks, or thinking about the internet. These are the steps that I've taken so far, and what I'm pledging to do to simplify my life.
  • unsubscribing from spam emails (urban outfitters, living social, old navy, oprah, etc.).
  • deleting all facebook updates/comments. i should actually just delete it, but it's connected to my tumblr, so it doesn't hurt to have it up.
  • deleting myspace and livejournals. (do i sound paranoid?)
  • unfollowing all tumblr friends.
  • unfollowing all flickr groups (except two!).
  • decluttering my house (giving away anything i don't love/want/need to someone who can use it).
  • organizing and backing up all of my computer files (flickr backs up my ftp, youtube backs up video files, double back-ups for all other files on hard drives).
  • reorganizing our kitchen cabinets, closets, and furniture for easy access, so that we know where things are, and so that everything is obvious. we're also trying to build up our own food bank.
  • finishing setting all monthly payments up on auto-pay. i don't want to worry about missing a payment! also auto-transferring a small amount to savings every month. luckily, my work takes out 5% of my paycheck automatically for a retirement savings account and doubles it, so i am technically good on the savings front, but i really would like to build my emergency fund.
  • clearing my inboxes/deleting unneeded email/labeling and organizing.
  • unsubscribing from a tons of blogs on google reader. too much time and energy to keep up with.
  • limit my television intake. i watch so much tv, it's not even funny. s o. m u c h.
  • canceling netflix - this goes hand-in-hand with limiting television intake.
  • canceling two credit cards.
  • starting an etsy. i finally did it, but i'm having a hard time deciding if i should just really put everything i want to sell up, or make things. i was originally going to just get rid of all of my fabric, but it looks like i'll be collaborating with two sweet artists/screen printers a little bit, so this may wait. but, keep your eyes out. i will be listing other things (like polaroids, cross-stitched pillows, and polaroid film!).
To extend the topic of canceling credit cards, I was always under the impression that your credit score would be lowered if you did that, and that it would be better to just cut them up and not use them. Well, when I wanted to buy a laptop in 2006 (?), I applied for a new credit card, for some reason not wanting to use the one that I had. I had to wait, and ended up using the card that I had, but later on was approved for the one that I applied for (confused yet?). Basically, I never used the new card, and had forgotten about it until last week when I read this article. Since it had been about six moves since I had been approved for the card, I figured I should probably change my address on the card in question, and called to do so. While on the phone with whoever was helping me, they asked me which card I wanted to change my address for, since I had been approved for another card since I had moved to Olympia. Basically, I had two credit cards, one of which I hadn't ever applied for. I changed my address, stressed out about it for about five minutes, and called to cancel both of them. At least if they're closed, I can put it out of my mind and never have to worry about identity theft or any of the other weird things that happen with credit. It doesn't really matter since I never used the card(s) anyway. Simplifying my life, dudes. How messed up/scary is that, though?

I'm four days into the month right now . . . no money has been spent yet! Now to get Joel on board . . . :)

Any ideas on other ways to simplify my life/head space/debt? Are these posts totally boring? Thanks for bearing with me documenting my progress!



P.S. It felt weird to have a really long post with no pictures, so I've included a few of our sweet and adorable cat, Baby Girl, and Joel - "No pictures, please!" :)