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Toronto Comic Arts Festival

Apr. 2nd, 2012 | 06:16 pm

Full update for the Toronto Comics Art Festival, rebuilt using all custom post types an taxonomies. Much easier to update and to keep track of content. This time around we also included a different look and feel for a shadow kids site.

Poster and reading girl image by Fabio Moon and Gabriel Ba..

Screen Shots

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Mirrored from Nadine Lessio.

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2011 vs 2012

Dec. 30th, 2011 | 11:28 pm

Hmm…what to say about this past year…

2011 was a year of growth and acceptance for me. For example, I accepted the fact that I don’t have a grand plan. I don’t charge ahead into the night with a plotted course of goals and life plans. No my friends, I drift. I may not drift in the sense of being nomadic, but I drift in other ways.

And for years I tried to fight that natural drifting. Thinking “Oh shit I need to get my ducks in order!” You know those feelings. I probably don’t have to go into detail about them. I don’t know what I was trying to improve myself into, but it obviously wasn’t working.

So I accepted my drift, but I found out that I drift according to some parameters. They boil down to a few words: Autonomy, Curiosity, and Sustainability. The things that seem to inhabit my life, whether they are relationships, work, interests, or education, tend to fall somewhere in that triangle of words. And that was an interesting discovery to make.

It lead me to make some short term plans, and try things like learning about ecosystems (I like plants), or spending far more time outside cycling and hiking. I even did some project tinkering…and I still got something really good out of these things, without the overhanging pressure that it must all LEAD to something. Consequently I was a lot happier than I’ve been in a long time, and at the end of 2011 I find myself physically stronger, mentally sharper, and more in tune with who I am for the good and the bad. I feel like I gained some decent EXP.

Did I make mistakes? Of course I did, but we all do that. Did I have some personal challenges? Yep. That’s part of just being alive…and when bad things came trotting my way, I just rolled through it unapologetically swearing and bitching, knowing that it would end, and I could just get on with things.

But y’know what else I did in 2011? I continued with my distance cycling and hit almost 100km in a day, I saw shorelines and boats and birds, I hiked the scottish highlands, I spent afternoons swimming on the island with friends, I snowshoed, I rock climbed, I cooked things, I refined my scotch palette, I studied plants, I worked, I had a life…and I enjoyed it.

2012? I have some ideas. But in true me fashion, they are written in chalk on my chalk door, because they’ll likely change over the course of winter.

Such is what its like when you drift…and I’m good with that.

Mirrored from Nadine Lessio.

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cycling accidents

Dec. 8th, 2011 | 10:53 am

Yesterday I had a cycling accident. It involved me, a van, a mirror, and the ground. Namely a van cut me off, I hit his mirror, then I hit the ground.

He pulled over, We calmed down from being shaken, and exchanged information. Luckily I didn’t hurt anything, and my bike is a hardy animal. This wasn’t the first time I’ve been hit on my bicycle, it likely won’t be the last. Accidents are a reality you live with when you use the road, and in my city…well let’s just say Toronto is not a bicycle friendly town. Most drivers I find however, will stop if something happens, be apologetic, and exchange information freely…or maybe I’m lucky in that the ones I’ve dealt with when something has happened, have been on the level.

What I did not expect was the random guy who stopped his car in the middle of the intersection, who was not involved at all, to yell at me that I was a “Bleep bleep dumb ass cyclist, and that was your own fault, and you shouldn’t be on the road at all.”

…Wait…What? Really? Did that just happen? I have just been hit by a vehicle, the driver and I are dealing with it, and this random dude just decides that this is a good time to voice his opinion?

I should not really be so surprised especially when this happened a little while ago.

Plus as a society we seem to be good at breading ideas like “if you disagree with something you’re a whiner”, “me first”, and “my opinion means everything.”

But I was pretty caught off guard by this action, mainly because it had no grounding. And in a way it was the equivalent of a bully trying to hit you when you’re already down from being punched.

Toronto, I issue you a challenge to not let this mean kind of groundless bullshit take over, we can do better.

PS, this is the aftermath. The rainbow trout of bruise.


Mirrored from Nadine Lessio.

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Bad Brains

Nov. 26th, 2011 | 04:07 pm

Hey There.

So I’m going to publicly talk about something that people don’t really talk about too much. Its called having a case of bad brains, and its a lot more common than I think we like to admit.

Bad Brains is not a bad mood, or a bad attitude, or a bad day, though it can be outwardly interpreted as such by the general public. Bad brains is a scenario where your brain actually refuses to co-operate with you on every decision you make for a given spate of time, for no particular reason. This means that rather being able to identify or tackle it (as you would, say do something for a bad mood, or avoid the things causing your bad day) you are just left mentally turning a circle, because every action or non-action you do becomes fuel for your Bad Brains.

Trust me…This is a real thing.

It looks like this:

You: “I’m going to go do [item 1], and [item 2] today. Here we go…”
Brain: “What? No you’re not, because [insert lame-ass excuse].”
You:“But, I…I mean…Ok fine, I’ll do [item 3] instead.”
Brain: “Wrong again.”
You: “Eff! Ok fine, I’ll sleep, that will clear my head.”
Brain: “Nope! That’s a waste of time, oh and btw, you _should_ have done [item 1].”
You: “Shit. Fine, I’ll just go back and try to do [item 2]…”
Brain: “You can’t, you missed your window for [item 2], because you were thinking about if you should do [item 1], oh and [item 3] can’t be done yet, so why are you starting that?”
You: “Argh! WTF!”


What this generally means is that your mental state never gels into a committed…anything. On Bad Brain days, going to the corner store to purchase toilet paper, or deciding on what tea to brew, is a triumph.

Needless to say this can really mess with you. For example it is not the end of the world if you don’t go do X, Y, Z, or accomplish A,B and C, in a day, but on Bad Brain days it feels like it.

I haven’t found a good solid single recourse against Bad Brains, its more like a mixed bag approach. Mostly I let myself just be, knowing I will be a non-comital blubber-head for a day. I put off heavy decisions and responsibilities that require actual thought, and I remind myself that no one takes it personally if you flake out on something when your brain is being a jerk, or that responsibilities can be shuffled around to fit what works. I try not to get bogged down in “should haves” because once something is gone its bubkis, and mostly I watch wildlife clips and drink tea.

I’m serious about that last one, you can’t beat watching raccoons steal stuff to help pretty much anything that ails you, even a day of Bad Brains:

Mirrored from Nadine Lessio.

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Freelance Musings

Nov. 19th, 2011 | 01:05 pm

Freelance! Its awesome. I’ve been a freelancer for many a year, and I’ve been in all kinds of good, bad, stupid, horrible, amusing, wonderful scenarios. Some turned out well, and some turned out terrible. Now and then I think about the responsibilities of freelancers and clients. Now and then I write them down as a reminder. 2011 is winding to an end soon, and this felt like a good junction to jot them down again.

As a freelancer, it is your responsibility to your client to:

  1. Work with a contract. I’ve learned my lessons over the years, work with a contract. Once and a while, I will still be tempted with a soft spot for someone…don’t listen to that soft spot. Doesn’t matter if they are a friend, or a collegue, large, small, local or multi-national. Always have a contract it will in the end, protect you and your client from potentially nasty situations and misunderstandings.
  2. Make sure everything is outlined. I recently started using a projet planner based on common questions from first meetings, and I’ve found people really like it. It takes a lot of the guess work out of deliverables. Take some extra time to go over those items with your client if they have questions, and explain your late fees, kill fees, deliverables, copyright, and payment options. Outline them all. Its your responsibility to have all the odds and ends in writing and to make sure everyone understands what is on the table, and what they are going to get in the end.
  3. Be honest about your skill limitations. We’ve all been there, bitten off more than we can handle or chew, whether its out of pride or fear, or maybe you’re just feeling cocky that week. Don’t do the graceful swan dive into stupidity. Speaking from past experience, it really hurts when you hit the ground. If something is out of your area, or ability, point it out that you are not comfortable handling that item, and leave it out of the deliverables.
  4. Be upfront about how you like to work, and find out where they are coming from. Different industry backgrounds will have different ways of working. And this can sometimes create large blind spots in communication and expectations. Example: if you don’t work on-site, say so, lest you get a confusing message monday morning along the lines of “Why aren’t you in the office?”
  5. Finish things on time. If you don’t have hard deadlines, make some. If you see a rolling deadline, try and reel it in. Be realistic with your deadlines and timelines. If you promise a cake in 20 minutes and the box says bake for 60, It’ll be a pretty shitty cake.

As a client it is your responsibility to your freelancer to:

  1. Reply to inquiries in a timely manner. This does not mean, right away (mostly if right away is something like 11pm). But if you’ve hired a freelancer to do something for you, that freelancer is giving you their time, be respectful of that time. Disappearing for long periods of time, being busy but not informing your freelancer, and leaving people on the hook by not having solid ETAs for things is not respectful.
  2. Be vocal if you do not understand something. Ask questions, make an outline. Keep your expectations in check. If the outline says PSDs and you think you’re getting HTML you need to clear that up at the start.
  3. Pay freelancers in a reasonable amount of time. A reasonable amount of time is cutting a cheque in 30 calendar days or less, or sticking to what has been decided upon and outlined in your payment terms. This is still the single most frustrating thing I hear from freelancers new and old: clients that don’t pay on time. There are a lot of available secure payment options now, to be very late, is to be very rude.
  4. Be upfront about what is going on in a project. For example if something outlined is not going to happen, if you are not happy with a project, if you’ve run out of money, if your department has been shut down, or if you want out. There will be kill fees, but in the end its better for all parties to walk away from something in a timely manner, than to sit in limbo.
  5. Keep a professional facade when working. Creative industries are built around the idea of being friends. And some people do become quite good friends. But, when you’re working together, having some distance is the best thing, it gives you some perspective when working through hurdles.

Oh and a final note for both parties: Try not to internalize work issues. Its hard. We work in industries that tie the value of who we are into what we do. We all want projects to be successful, but defining where you end and work begins, even if its a soft line, will save you a lot of mental brew-ha in the long run.

Mirrored from Nadine Lessio.

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Oct. 17th, 2011 | 10:58 pm

I’m sorry, but sometimes its not apathy that causes a problem. Sometimes things just happen. That being said, I’m getting mighty tired of the words “apathy” and “entitlement”. It seems like whenever someone has a gripe, or problems we’re quick to jump on them as being one of those things, or both.

I propose that these two arguments are in and of themselves apathetic and entitled. I feel that they have become convenient blanket arguments to toss around insuring that we won’t have to do any research into the history or context of a situation.

- Lost your job? Guess you didn’t work hard enough.

- Upset your new [insert whatever here] busted…suck it up (i mean its not like you worked for that money that bought that thing…right?).

- Something negative happen to you? Guess it was something you must have done to invite it.

- Feeling a little strung out today because [insert issue that is stressing you out]? You’re just a big baby!

- Got cancer? Well its because you were apathetic and didn’t do enough pre-screening.

Wait…what? Run that last one by me again? Yes that is correct. There is a TED talk out there that actually blames cancer patients for getting cancer, which frankly, boggles my brain…because its wrong, and I’m surprised that we’ve reached that point where we accept blaming something like cancer, on…apathy? REALLY?

Now I’m not saying that apathy and entitlement don’t exist, there are people out there that are apathetic, and feel a sense of entitlement towards a lot of things. I’m also not a fatalist, and think that yes, there are things you do that affect your own life (for example getting drunk and trying to pet a grizzly bear is likely going to leave you with one arm). But remember that there’s also a whole host of crap that you juggle that frankly, has nothing to do with that. Its just shit that happens.

I also think that actual apathetic people are not as wide spread as we think, and that for the most part people work hard, and just want to see some value from that work…and that sometimes shit just doesn’t work out. Or in the case of Meslin over here, that maybe their environment has something to do with it.

So before you go telling someone “oh I guess you didn’t try hard enough…” how about you ask them what happened first? Its funny how often we just forget to ask questions.

And so ends my half-cocked post about apathy.

Mirrored from Nadine Lessio.

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Say Hi To Local

Sep. 26th, 2011 | 10:58 am


LOCAL is a new bike design from fuseproject. And its quite the looker! Since I started really getting into cycling last year, I’ve pretty much had an eye on bikes and a thing for bike design. For shopping, hauling, transporting and getting around? Its a pretty nice design, and I’d put it against a car any day.

Also: I approve of orange tires.

Mirrored from Nadine Lessio.

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The Importance of Being Finished

Sep. 25th, 2011 | 12:27 pm

A friend of mine posted a link to her facebook profile today, called The 10 Happiest Jobs. It was a follow up to Forbe’s 10 Most Hated Jobs.

My happiest job, no lie, was working on a raspberry farm while I was in college. It was a pick your own farm run by this battle-axe of an old woman. We didn’t always get along, but we understood one another for the most part. The first year I did admin work, the following year I worked outside…and let me tell you, nothing is more satisfying than looking at a pile of clippings that you cleared out of a field. Yes the days were long, yes the vacation time was spotty, but I went home at the end of each day knowing that I would not have to clear cut that part of the field tomorrow when I returned.

And there was something to be said for that concrete knowledge.

Enter the internet…

The problem I find with internet based design is that its never quite done. There’s generally something that pops up, even after launch, that needs attention, or a tweak, or an upgrade, software changes and you have to re-do something sometimes over a year later…etc.. and this is a problem. I think we inheriently like being finished, or at least I do.

In fact most of those “happy jobs” have some kind of an end to them. The physical teaching in a classroom semester ends, you finish a painting, a patient is rehabilitated and moves on…etc. It is the one thing I do envy about print designers and illustrators. When something is sent to print…its done. It does not come back to life and end up in your inbox. Or maybe it does, but not likely in the same way as a website.

Lately I’ve been personally wrestling with this feeling of not being “done” with projects. And so I pose the question: What are some of the things you do, to feel done?

Do you have clauses have you have written to ensure something is finished…or at least feels finished? Do you do other things to counter-act this feeling (ie: sometimes I bake a pie, its easy, you see immediate results, and you get pie at the end). Do you have an end of project ritual? etc.

Mirrored from Nadine Lessio.

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Personal Brands

Sep. 3rd, 2011 | 08:35 pm


I whole heartedly agree with this sentiment.

Mirrored from Nadine Lessio.

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1000 ticked off cyclists

Jul. 21st, 2011 | 08:21 am

1000 people showed up at the ride for Jarvis yesterday. For those of you that don't know, we have one hell of a mayor in Toronto. He goes by the name of Rob Ford.

Rob Ford has touted that city hall is having a budget short-fall by hundreds of millions of dollars...in the midst of this, the man has decided to spend $200,000 - $400,000 taking out bike lanes on 3 busy streets in the GTA, namely Jarvis, Birchmount, and Pharmacy.

People are pissed. His bike plan is ok, and touts some things I approve of like seperated lanes, and working on the path system (which i use a lot).

But then it swings into WTF world by _removing_ already existing lanes.

In 2011 cities are voting for more cycling lanes, not less. We have a problem.

In any case, 1000 people. That's a lot of bicycle bells.

Media coverage:

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