minis

Jeff Preston

The Ramblings of a Starving Artist...

40
self
jeff_preston
Ok, I'm now 40 (last Sunday). It was a great birthday. No wonky "over the hill" crap. Just folks showing up and saying "Hi" which was awesome! Kay pulled a fast-one on me saying we were going to the FLGS to paint minis (which we do on occasion) but she apparently let everyone in the area know too, so folks showed up, and I was a bit red-faced.

I don't feel older. Don't feel 40. I still think it's odd that my friends are mostly parents (and in a few cases grandparents) and I hang out with folks of all ages. I listen to modern music, watch modern TV, see modern films and play modern games...though I do have a great love for classic rock, old westerns, and old school D&D. Hrm.

I've often wondered if I'd make to age 40. My younger years were...ummm...wild and I was kind of a prick. Medication really helps that. :)

I dunno...weird.
Tags:

Remiss...again.
minis
jeff_preston
What have I been up to?
Reviews:
http://www.flamesrising.com/author/teampreston/
http://emperyan.blogspot.com/search/label/Reviews

Some art stuff which isn't published yet, so I can't show it.
I did have a Kickstarter project fund:
http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/mungo/60-terrible-character-portraits-for-creative-commo?ref=users
Starting on that as soon as all the info comes in from the folks who chipped in.

I went to Baltimore for Gamesday:
http://picasaweb.google.com/OrdoHereticus/August_2010_PUBLIC#

Played some Warhammer Fantasy Battle:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/team-preston/sets/72157624274996617/

One of the favorite illustrations I did this year:
http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4120/4768466673_7e86be11a5_b.jpg

About me...
minis
jeff_preston
I think of a lot of people on my social networks as "friends.'  I talk to them every day and miss them when they aren't around.  But it occurred to me that 140-character installments don't tell much about my life story so here's random details if people are interested. (this is ripped off wholesale from tbosky 

1.  I dropped out of school after completing the 9th grade. I joined the Navy at age 17 (got my HS Diploma from the State of FL), the Army at 26. I went to college in-between.

2. I've done a WIDE variety of jobs: Grill cook, construction, irrigation, security, care giver at a group home for the developmentally disabled, personal protection and paper service. Sales, housekeeping at the Marriott Inn, customer service, tech support, software engineer, illustrator.

3. Since returning from the Army in 2000 my attitudes and political leanings have shifted to the left. While I may play violent games I'm a non-violent person and am a strong advocate for peace and equality across the board. Ironically I've participated in one form or martial arts or another for twenty years

4. I'm happily married to my wife and it's utterly impossible for me to imagine my life without her.

5. I fell over backward and cracked my spine in 2003. I'm six and a half feet tall and #300. I've been largely bald (shaven) for ten years.

Move-Canceled
minis
jeff_preston
Just in case you hadn't heard...the move is officially canceled.
The Mitsubishi (our only vehicle) died. She went out with a whimper instead of a bang. Probably best since Kay was driving and all.
Transmission guts stripped out or somesuch. Anyhow, bought a 2001 Neon. Unfortunately it needs a lot of work too (as I found out AFTER buying it).

So the funds for moving have been shuffled in to the vehicle repair queue and the move is off indefinitely.

This is not a bad thing. I'm just taking it as a sign. Like the gods or the force telling me "slow down there killer".
Honestly, if this had happened as much as a day later we'd be seriously screwed. If it had happened while on the road to Washington (say in the middle of BFE North Dakota, hundreds of miles from any human settlement, with no cell coverage...yeah) that would have been a great big bucket of buttholes.

We're sitting tight and cranking out a lot of work. Business as usual.
All is good!
 

Achtung!- Team-Preston Relocating to Washington!
machine
jeff_preston
Newsflash!
In about 30-40 days Kay and I will be wheels up for Vancouver Washington. Kay has given her 30 days notice, landlord notified, truck rented.

I apologize for keeping this under my hat as long as I have; it has been a long month of discussions to try and come to the best decision. Deciding to leave Wisconsin has not been easy.

The reasoning behind this in many-fold (I rarely do anything for just one reason). There were a lot of directions we could go once our lease was up. Stay in WI, Florida, Virginia, TX...all valid options. Ultimately it came down to the simple question of which place feels like home.

With tax returns coming in as well as come contracts coming due, we needed to make a no-shit assessment of where we wanted to be. Buy a house. Settle down. While I have enjoyed Wisconsin and the friends I've made here, I don't want to buy a house here. Washington? We can think of several places we'd love to buy a house. That by itself was telling. We also needed to do something pretty quick.

I know myself. The tax return etc, if not used quickly and smartly will get pissed away on video games, dinners out, new shiny toys...and I'll have nothing to show for it. 2009 I claimed business start up costs as deductions...and I only get that once. I really needed to make this tax return count.

So, in 30 days I pick up a truck and load it and get on the road for Vancouver Washington.
Kay and I have moved back and forth between Madison and Vancouver a few times, so for some this is just the latest round of moves, for some not. It's going to be a busy month. Our social calendar is getting stripped down to nothing (we'll be packing and throwing stuff out). I have a lot of work to complete as well.

So this is our next adventure. Another 2200 mile cross-country jaunt. Jumping balls-first and hoping to land somewhere not sharp and pointy.

As always the usual means of communication for me will remain electronic, the http://team-preston.com website will stay the primary point of contact (as well as here, twitter, livejournal etc). We are still attending a variety of conventions etc. For MOST this move should be transparent.

Wish us luck, send prayers, mojo, warm fuzzy thoughts, etc.

Cheers!
Jeff Preston

Family relations...
machine
jeff_preston

 
Let it suffice to say that my relations with my few remaining blood kin are strained, at the very least. I have a Father, Mother and a Sister.

Without getting in to the gory details lets just say childhood wasn't pretty. I like to think that I am nothing like either of my parents. Actually one of my life-long goals has been to set my own path...as far from them as possible.

That said, when one of them is in peril of some sort, like having quintuple coronary bypass surgery, I am concerned.

I don't speak with my parents much. Dad after the divorce (Jesus, has it really been 23 years ago?) made himself a new family and pretty much forgot about me, Mother and my sister. My Mom and Sister remained in contact via requests for financial assistance to him...but me being me...I'd rather drill a hole in each testicle than ask for help, especially from him.

I did the dutiful son token call on birthdays and holidays, and he did the token fatherly card on birthdays and Hickory Farms Sampler on Christmas. Very quaint. He never called without being prompted, and I never did more than I had to.

Mom went kind of nuts, cycle of violence and all that. Dirtbag boyfriend/ husband after dirtbag boyfriend/ husband. Married a guy in prison once. Her and I didn't talk for 5-6 years. She lives in her own reality now.

Sister? Clinical sociopath. Use anyone to get what she wants. Lives off people. Her kids are a paycheck. Fat, lazy and violently abusive towards anyone. Can't trust a word she says.

When I speak of "choosing my family" I really do mean it. I don't know these people anymore...and I really have no desire to. They live a couple thousand miles away. Maybe it is selfish, but I really don't want to be drawn in to their drama anymore. Kay and I fought tooth and nail for years to get Ryan (my nephew) away from my sister's abuse, and it ultimately became a partial success as he became my Mother's ward (but she does this for largely selfish reasons). It's better than being with my sister...that's my condolence.

Add to this my slightly skewed fatalistic view of death and I may seem like a cold fish.
Maybe I am.

I *AM* concerned about my father. I want him to recover. I don't have much sympathy for him. He's been a lifelong smoker and needing psychological help for stress and anxiety his whole life. He's chosen not to get it or to quit smoking. He did change his diet, but it's too little too late. He can't walk 20 feet without needing nitro...but goddamn he needs a smoke!

In my mind he's made his choice.

I had a dream night before last about reading his eulogy. I was a bit upset but not weepy or distraught or anything. I spoke the truth without delving in to anything caustic, or revealing any "secrets". The skeletons stayed in the closet. But I didn't sugarcoat that "he was a great man" either. Have a drink, raise a glass, savor the good memories and learn from the bad. Take something positive from his presence, his existence and make it all worth something. I pissed a lot of people off. Fuck um.

I dunno. He's recovering and I hope he continues to do so. I have no ill will towards anyone. I'm just not wired that way. I hope he heals up and lives another 20 years. Good for him!

Somehow, in my head I'm already prepared for the worst.

2010ad
minis
jeff_preston
Tags:

1999-2009
machine
jeff_preston
In the last decade I:
  • Got out of the army in one piece and mostly sane.
  • Became a Software Design Engineer after being a grunt.
  • Made and lost friends.
  • Met and married my best friend ever.
  • Moved from WI to WA, to WI, to WA, to WI, to WA and WI once again.
  • Bought and Sold my first house...lost my ass on it too.
  • Was in my best fighting condition ever...and fractured my spine...and returned to be in prime form again...only to quit due to politics.
  • Was fired for the first time.
  • Got a cell phone. I never use it.
  • Lost several friends in Iraq and Afghanistan.
  • Was recognized for chivalry, and turned in my spurs.
  • Made some good decisions and some really bad ones (repeatedly), and learned from them both.
  • Gained weight, lost it, gained it, lost it, and gained it again
  • Gained a number of tattoos. All have meaning in one way or another. Usually multiple meanings, but I rarely discuss them.
  • Started wearing glasses.
  • Gotten drunk and stoned several times. Made an ass of myself innumerable times.
  • Was the first-responder at a drunk-driving accident with a kid (19) who was thrown from a vehicle in a manner that literally stretched the laws of physics. Cracked open cranium. Amazingly the kid survived.
  • Was saved in a time of financial crisis by people who don't even really know me. A care package out of the blue with dried goods literally saved us.

I learned:
  • That my anti- ADD meds work much better when you take the entire daily dose every day
  • Pain meds work when you take them and pain management helps with healing faster.
  • How to paint digitally in Photoshop.
  • I don't need to be a doormat for people interested only in themselves.
  • How to apologize and repair friendships.
  • There is no "ONE TRUE WAY" for anything.
  • The United States is in serious trouble.
  • Ego more often than not just gets in the way.
  • We are responsible for ourselves, our actions, our feelings. We have the power to choose. There's no need to give that power away to others or to circumstances. We are responsible for our own happiness.
  • Not everyone is interested in the same things or in doing things the same way.
  • It's never too late to make amends.
  • People grow and change with time. Sometimes they aren't really the people they were (or people we like). That's perfectly ok.
  • That marriage is a series of compromises and that being married to your best friend is awesome.
  • How to ask for and accept help when I need it and that there are certain people who will always be there for me no matter what.
  • We have the ability to be what we want to be. Be idealistic. People will say the world won't allow it...but that is just coming from people who are beaten down or believe they have to be bastards to survive. We have a choice. I choose to live an idealized life: I'll be altruistic, fair, honest and the person I wish to be. It's a hard road. Be true to yourself. Be someone you'd be proud to be friends with or love. Be admirable. Do it for real.
  • The insurance industry as completely corrupt.
  • To be successful as a freelancer it requires grit, and networking. You don't have to know everything: you just have to know people who know stuff.
  • If there are gods out there, they are much more likely to help you if you have built up credit with them first. being a whiny crybaby all the time uses up that credit. Best bet...don't ask for anything...but be thankful all-the-time. You never know when you may need a hand...or who is watching.

I bought:
  • SEVERAL cars.
  • Lots of miniatures.
  • A house
  • IKEA furniture.
  • A snow blower.
  • More books than I know what to do with.

I celebrated:
  • My own wedding
  • Many holidays in many religions.

There were some really crappy times and some amazing ones. I choose to not let the low ones wear me down and focus on the high notes. Yes. There HAVE been bad times. Death. Bankruptcy. Loss. Sure...everyone has those. I can choose to hang them around my neck...or learn my bit from them and set them aside. I don't believe in self-pity. I believe in dusting yourself off and moving forward after every crash or failure.

RIP:2009
machine
jeff_preston
I have to admit, while 2009 sucked for a lot of people, it was great for me. On a professional level I've really taken off. A couple years ago, when folks started speaking of the dreaded "recession" in the US I told people that it'll be a time for freelancers to really shine.

Layoffs will dump lots of good talented people in to the "freelance pool" but being used to simply drawing/ painting daily and taking coffee breaks and getting paid days off...they have to do it all: self-marketing, hunting for gigs, and working ridiculous hours with no net to speak of. Most folks are NOT cut out to be a FT freelancer or simply cannot do it due to circumstances beyond their control.

Honestly, the first couple years of being a FT freelancer is the hardest because "art" is such a small percentage of the day. You'll bust your hump to eeek out minimum wage and still live a subsidized life via food stamps or just living extremely lean (no cable tv, no outings, no dinners out, lots of ramen noodles and the bare necessities). After a year or two you should have something of a reputation built and a regular lineup of people to work for (or to avoid). I got lucky: I'm married so I get to pay half the bills instead of all of them. Still...I had (have) to pony up the cash in order to survive.

It's easy to give it all up. Serious. Just go back to being an IT nerd or Customer Service Technician, or whatever you did before your nice in-house art gig. Live off unemployment for a while. I very nearly did quit and just get a dayjob. A few times.

Surviving a "recession" as a freelancer is hard. I said up front that the guys who are already FT freelancers will have a HUGE edge in surviving this strongly because they are already doing it, used to the suckitude, the lean times and the hustle of day-to-day work where the guys coming from in-house gigs have to (re)learn to survive by doing more for less and hustling for it. Companies don't have the money to throw around like before so they want more for less and won't put up with an artistic diva. That's where the Professional Full-Time Freelancer comes in and really shines.

Well...it worked. 2009 was a stellar year for me. I've been booked up approximately 4-5 months in advance since January or February. I'm not rich by any stretch of the imagination, but I haven't needed to look for work in almost a year now. People know me, my work and that I do a good job and that I'm dependable. I like to think that my overall skill-level has improved as well.

I did end up skipping out on several conventions which I regret now.

I expanded my footprint to include reviews in a more serious fashion. Previously I did a review of a book or game here and there, but now I'm signed on with several publishers to review material and it's been fun. Granted, I only have so much time, so I'm doing as much time juggling now as before.

On the fun side I've enjoyed my Xbox 360 greatly. I pretty much use it for all my video and music needs. No need for cable TV now. Netflix via Xbox Live handles that nicely. Played some great games this year on the x360: Fallout 3, Bioshock, Fable 2, Call of Duty: World at War, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, Dragon Age: Origins.

Played tabletop games too. Played some D&D 4th Ed. Several times in fact. Really didn't blow my skirt up. Ran a Dark Heresy game and a Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay campaign. Both were short but fun. Played some D&D 3.5 Ed which was more to my liking and some Vampire: The Requiem which was fun. Played Warhammer Fantasy once and 40k three or four times. Sad really, I like this edition of 40k. Apocalypse especially suits me (go fast, move figs, roll dice and have fun doing really epic stuff rather than the ultra competitive sort of play many of the locals seem to prefer).

I've reconnected with several friends from the long-lost past as well as made some new ones. Overall I'm REALLY looking forward to 2010. Conventions, seeing my peeps from far away and sharing a drink and a "no shit there I was" story or three with them.

Well...that's it for now. I've got work to get done!
Cheers!

Holiday Card...
art
jeff_preston
The 2009 holiday card...
Not everyone opted to get a paper card mailed to them, so here's the electronic version:

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