High Five

High Five - Flying Trilobite and Tiktaalik © Glendon Mellow
This high five goes out to my bloggy buddy-cop policing science-art, Kalliopi Monoyios. Kalliopi and I co-blog on Symbiartic, the art + science blog on the Scientific American blog network.

For the month of September 2012, we set out to post 30 pieces of science-art, in a SciArt of the Day feature - and we made it. At times it was a bit of a marathon, but the wealth of art out there and the graciousness of the many fine artists, illustrators and creators we tapped on the shoulder was amazing. Thanks everyone!

We showed art by a viking blacksmith, horror illustrator, abstract expressionist, trompe l'oiel, superhero comic artist, cartoonists, fermented bacteria clothing, steampunk Renaissance rhinos, polarized micro-thin rocks, concept art and much more. The attempt was in part to challenge perceptions on what effective science communication can look like.

What does the future hold? We have more plans, lots of long and short posts on the go, and we'll continue to showcase creators and their images relating to science communication, education and entertainment.

You can see them all at the SciArt of the Day label on Symbiartic. We also have the whole first year's worth of science+art posts indexed here.

And Kalliopi: props



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Original artwork on The Flying Trilobite © to Glendon Mellow
under Creative Commons Licence.

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Find me on Symbiartic, the art+science blog on the Scientific American Blog Network!

Beetle Week Day 5: The Exhibit

Welcome to Day 5 of Beetle Week here on The Flying Trilobite!

Earlier this year I was commissioned by entomologist and insect photographer Morgan Jackson of Biodiversity in Focus to contribute to a soon-to-be-published, honest-to-gosh dead-tree book about jewel beetles here in Ontario, Canada. The result? My first series of scientific illustrations, instead of the off-kilter, surreal science paintings I'm known for. 

Today: The Exhibit
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Time to have a look at all of the final versions of the beetles. And a hearty thank you to Morgan Jackson for asking me to take on this project and being so supportive during the process!

Agrilaxia © Glendon Mellow - Prints available

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Mastogenius © Glendon Mellow - Prints available


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Paragrilus © Glendon Mellow - Prints available


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Spectralia © Glendon Mellow - Prints available


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Texania © Glendon Mellow - Prints available


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Trachys © Glendon Mellow - Prints available


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Xenorhipis © Glendon Mellow - Prints available 

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There are also many other variations of these images available as mounted and framed prints, posters, and even an iPhone case in my online store. Stickers coming soon!

Thanks for crawling along with Beetle Week!
Day 1: The Challenge of Scientific Illustration
Day 2: Painting Bugs with ArtRage Studio Pro
Day 3: Being a Freelancing Dad
Day 4: Animated Painting of Trachys
Day 5: The Exhibit  
 

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Original artwork on The Flying Trilobite © to Glendon Mellow
under Creative Commons Licence.

Portfolio
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Find me on Symbiartic, the art+science blog on the Scientific American Blog Network!

Beetle Week Day 3: Being a Freelancing Dad

Welcome to Day 3 of Beetle Week!

Earlier this year I was commissioned by entomologist and insect photographer Morgan Jackson of Biodiversity in Focus to contribute to a soon-to-be-published, honest-to-gosh, dead-tree book about jewel beetles in Ontario, Canada. The result? My first series of scientific illustrations, instead of the off-kilter, surreal science paintings I'm known for. 

Today: Being a Freelancing Dad
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Let's kick this off with another beetle illustration, since much of this post will be about being a working parent. Here's Spectralia gracilpes:

Spectralia, painted in ArtRage Studio Pro. © Glendon Mellow


Since last December when my wife Michelle returned to teaching, my primary job has been to be a full-time dad. At the same time, in no particular order, I do freelance science illustration, not-yet-monetized science-art consultation, sell the occasional print, do social media work for a major retailer, write a blog for Scientific American and work at a cafe.

 This isn't meant to be a whine from a sleepless parent.  Our son Calvin, 18 months old today, is actually doing pretty good right now, usually sleeping through the night or waking up once around 4 am. He's teething, has almost all of his chompers, but his eyeteeth are taking forever. I suspect he has some sort of huge sabretooth-tiger teeth coming in judging from the pain.

When Morgan Jackson commissioned me about this series of jewel beetles, I had hoped to be faster than I was. I'm fortunate that he and his team were patient and had a long timeline. When I used to work full-time as an art store manager, I'd get up at 5 and work at art or blogging for a couple of hours. That proved impossible over some winter months when Calvin really didn't sleep much (he'd be up from say, 1 am to 5 am nightly). Setting an alarm clock was a waste of time.

And over the past several months of being a freelancing-artist dad, I've learned some things I'd like to share. 



  • Keep in contact with other dads and moms in the same freelancing boat to retain your sanity. Mainly, I did this through Twitter. And I'd like to send a shout out to Chris Zenga, Eric Orchard, Kalliopi Monoyios, Russell Dickerson, Marc Scheff and Nathaniel Gold who were all there for me with advice and support at odd hours. Go buy all their prints, comics, books and hire them for work. They know how to keep it together.
  • Be thankful for your supportive spouse. Michelle really believes in my work, even when times are tough. Be thankful for big contracts.

  • Working digitally is sooooo much easier than working traditionally.  Digitally, you don't have to wash oil off your hands every time you need to take something out of their hands or pick them up.

  • Once your child enters the toddler stage, consider turning your desk around so it's not facing the wall, but facing the room. Then you can see what they're up to when you're stealing a couple of minutes to work.
     
  • Never leave your files open and graphic tablet out once they know how to climb a chair.

    Calvin,about 14 months, working on his art table next to my  workstation.


  • Put an art table next to your workstation. This has worked out well. It's all about mimicry and ain't nuthin' wrong with your kid learning to use a crayon or marker at a young age.

  • Get used to doing things in little bits. No more sitting down for an hour with headphones on listening to rap or metal full of swearing. It's 2 minutes while they're engaged with a snack or enraptured by kicking a ball around the room. Expect to join them to kick that ball.

  • The kid is more fun, more infectious with their sense of fun, than any work you might enjoy. That's my experience anyway. So I felt a lot of guilt when I'd play with my son, watching another self-imposed deadline dissolve like sugar in water.

    Get outside as much as you can. It's good to stretch your legs when you work freelance. 


  • Do something that makes money, immediate money. Don't be too proud. You owe it to your family, especially your spouse, not add to the aggregate stress more than you have to. While I've been a full-time dad, I've also gotten a part-time job at a cafe, because money became too tight and this was a way to get a small but regular injection of money into the household.

  • Don't forget to stop and recognize what you're achieving. This is where one friend (thank you Eric!) really hammered it home for me. Between working at the cafe, making freelance art, selling prints, writing for Scientific American, and doing some paid social media work for a retailer, I estimate I've been bringing in about half my old full-time job's salary per month. While being a full-time dad. Maybe it's not always enough to keep us comfortable, but I still need to be proud of that.
  • If you get an evening or a whole day to yourself, get some fucking work done. Don't play video games. Don't browse Netflix. Just get started, then make coffee and keep working.

    The rough little sketch I used for the Spectralia painting near the top. Looks like a squashed banana peel. 

  • Before we had Calvin and when I still was working at a full-time job, I'd get up around 5 am and blog or make art. That way, my day would start off doing what I love to do and then I'd go off to work in good cheer. I'm still striving to get back to that schedule as a dad, and friends tell me it gets easier as the kids get older. 
  • Every day when I get up, all groggy and I'm tempted to surf around online with my phone, I ask myself: "do I want to be a content-creator or content-consumer?" It's cheesy, but that phrase rings in my head louder than an alarm clock. 



Already in the time that has passed since I finished tweaking and uploading publishable files for Morgan Jackson, the stress of getting the job done while raising a sleepless vampire child is fading, and I'm left with a happy, healthy active kid who has a dad proud of artwork he'll be able to one day share with his son.

Who knows?  Maybe one day we'll find one of these beetles when we're out camping!

Those are my little pearls of wisdom. Any other freelancer parents have any more?

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Beetle Week continues tomorrow!

Day 1: The Challenge of Scientific Illustration
Day 2: Painting Bugs with ArtRage Studio Pro
Day 3: Being a Freelancing Dad
Day 4: Animated Painting of TrachysDay 5: The Exhibit

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Original artwork on The Flying Trilobite © to Glendon Mellow
under Creative Commons Licence.

Portfolio
Blog
Print ShopFind me on Symbiartic, the art+science blog on the Scientific American Blog Network!


Science-Art Communication Specialist - it's now a thing

Changed my LinkedIn profile to read "Science-Art Communication Specialist". I've decided that's now a thing.



Although painting and illustrating are my first choice in career and I'm busier than ever with commissions, when I consider my blog writing at Symbiartic on Scientific American, the growing number of talks, podcasts and interviews and my new volunteer Board Member position with Science Art-Nature this seems like a more apt description. I find myself doing a lot of networking for and with other artists engaged in science, and slowly starting to hear from scientists looking for artists. I've been seriously considering turning it into a consulting business. 


I've developed a standard email I send out to artists contacting me about their science-art and asking for advice since it's happening more and more often. (And I don't mind at all!
Keep 'em coming.)

Here's what it typically says.

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I've added your blog to the Science Artists Feed (It's in the 2nd list that feeds into the first one...the first one filled up fast).  So when you have a show or update the bloggy portion in any way, it will appear on the Feed to subscribers, and on scienceblogging.org which is a huge aggregator site many science bloggers turn to to follow the many science blogging networks. 


I don't know if it will help traffic or eyeballs in any way, but it also helps me to stay on top of people's work, which I irregularly compile interesting links from and put in posts I call Scumbles. They used to be on my personal blog The Flying Trilobite, and I've moved them to Symbiartic since Scientific American asked me on board. 


So far the biggest impact the Science Artists Feed and Scumble posts have had is drawing together the disparate scattered science-inspired artists into a tighter community.  I've shared a Circle on G+of them in the past and more are talking on Twitter. I just finished up at my 4th trip to ScienceOnline this year, in North Carolina. Usually I've been one of 2 or 3 science-artists or illustrators out of a few hundred researchers and science journalists.  This year, there were about a dozen of us in attendance which had an impact. If you're on Twitter, an easy way into the community there is to use the #scienceart hashtag. 
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(For the interactive version of the image above, head over to Symbiartic and explore the image!) 





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Original artwork on The Flying Trilobite Copyright to Glendon Mellow
under Creative Commons Licence.

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Inky Bidness

Coupla tattoo things. 

Fascinating personal post by paleo-author Brian Switek of Laelaps over at his other gig, Dinosaur Tracking, where he talks some more about the tattoo I designed for him not long ago. And hints at a second design possibly in the works. (I'm trying to see if it's possible to make a theropod's jaw open and close on Brian's flexing bicep.)

Check out his Allosaurus Ink, Brian has more recent, healed photos.  



Another tattoo I designed, the caffeine molecule for my SciAm peep Scicurious has long been one of my most popular all-time posts for getting traffic. Bound to happen then, that another internet denizen, Ryan S on Reddit has gotten a similar tattoo based on the design Sci and I came up with. 

Here it is on Scicurious:






I've also made a portfolio gallery of my science tattoo designs if you'd like to see more.


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Original artwork on The Flying Trilobite Copyright to Glendon Mellow
under Creative Commons Licence.

Portfolio
Blog
Print Shop

Find me on Symbiartic, the art+science blog on the new Scientific American Blog Network!

Pinterest Terms of Service link round-up


After posting recently about Pinterest, I've been involved in a lot of discussion about their Terms of Service.  Here's a quick link primer to some of the discussions I'm involved in and I'm seeing in the science-art blogosphere.

To recap:

Pinterest does a lot of things right: links back to creator's sites, deleted pins get deleted on all subsequent re-pins - these are good things.

Pinterest has some problems: most people pin whatever neato things they find online when the Terms specifically state you must own the image or have permission. So it's built on misuse in many ways. Personally I think more artists should use Creative Commons type attitudes toward this type of sharing. But the point stands that most users violate Pinterest's own Terms of Service.

Pinterest has some Peril: they can "sell" and "otherwise exploit" all content according to their Terms of Service. So if you use it correctly, you're giving away your work which then involves risk assessment.

Read through these links to get the whole picture so far.

Pinterest gets right what Tumblr got wrong - The Flying Trilobite by Glendon Mellow

The Promise and Perils of Pinterest - Symbiartic by Glendon Mellow

-->Discussion on G+
-->Discussion on Scientific American's Facebook Page

Pinterest's Terms of Service, Word by Terrifying Word _Symbiartic by my co-blogger, Kalliopi Monoyios.

ART Evolved is a No-Pin Zone, sadly... -ART Evolved by administrator Craig Dylke. I'm affiliated with ART Evolved but I wasn't involved in this decision beforehand, for the record. Good move though.

*****Edit: It was announced on March 23rd 2012 that Pinterest is indeed dropping the "sell" term in their Terms of Service - as well as making many other changes. Storify below takes place as of time of the original post.

Pinterest updates Terms of Service - drops the "sell" - Symbiartic by Glendon Mellow



For those not on Twitter, after the jump I've included a first attempt at a Storify of some of the comments there.



There's a lot of retweets of some of these, so a lot of people are listening who haven't weighed in.




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Original artwork on The Flying Trilobite Copyright to Glendon Mellow
under Creative Commons Licence.

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--> Find me on Symbiartic, the art+science blog on the new Scientific American Blog Network!

Science Art Show starts today!



This show couldn't have come about without the hard work of Karyn Traphagen and the support of Rob R Dunn's Your Wild Life Lab and all the amazing submissions we received.

More about the show and #scio12 in coming days!  Keep watching my Twitter feed.


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Original artwork on The Flying Trilobite Copyright to Glendon Mellow
under Creative Commons Licence.

Portfolio
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--> Find me on Symbiartic, the art+science blog on the new Scientific American Blog Network!

Science-Art Gallery Show in January - submit!





I'm proud to announce that for the first time, ScienceOnline will be having a science-art show!  We'll be showing a digital slideshow of accepted images, curated by myself with help from Karyn Traphagen. Free for anyone to enter, we'll be picking the most fascinating images in scientific illustration, fine art, photography, cartoons, data-visualization, street art and more.
After the unconference, we'll be posting the final digital gallery online in some form. This is the first time we're attempting something like this, so we may ask for help or encounter some snags along the way. With so many talented science-artists attending #scio12 this year, we've got to forge ahead and gives this a try.  When applying to the show, you can give us links to three images.  Not all may be chosen, but what better way to get you images in front of eyeballs than up to 450 talented science communicators in one place?
Feel free to email with any questions at symbiartic.gm@gmail.com or via Twitter @flyingtrilobite.

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Thanks to Karyn Traphagen for her help, and to Perrin IrelandKalliopi Monoyios and Nathaniel Gold for agreeing to appear on the poster.

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Original artwork on The Flying Trilobite © to Glendon Mellow
under Creative Commons Licence.

Portfolio
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--> Find me on Symbiartic, the art+science blog on the new Scientific American Blog Network!

Science-Art Geek iPhone 4 cases!


Available now, in my print shop at RedBubble.

Here's some specs from RedBubble themselves:

Uncommon spent months in the desert inventing a revolutionary and top secret printing process called TATT™, which embeds the design into the case—so no fading or peeling, ever. It all sounds a bit space age really, which we quite like.
Our cases were made specifically for the iPhone 4S & 4, ensuring that all of your bits, pieces and functions line up where they should. Plus, Uncommon cases are chosen by Apple for sale in Apple Stores. Seal of approval right there.

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In addition to selling these designs on an ongoing basis, I'm also looking for someone to finance a few as prizes for ScienceOnline12 ! Please email me at theflyingtrilobite at gmail dot com if interested. 
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Original artwork on The Flying Trilobite Copyright to Glendon Mellow
under Creative Commons Licence.

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I hope everyone enjoys my cheesy mirror effect above.

--> Find me on Symbiartic, the art+science blog on the new Scientific American Blog Network!