Herald Report #1: Herald for a Future Generation
Welcome to my first report as Herald of the Brotherhood. In this report, I really want to go over what I hope to do with the position in the sense of general direction, as well as outline long term projects I'd like to pursue. I plan to return to the normal format of Herald reports, going over releases and completed member requests with my first regularly scheduled report in April.
Table of Contents
- A Community for Everyone
- Multimedia: A Long Term Goal
- Ask the Herald
- Commission artists and Artist Feature
- In Closing
To say that I am intimidated to find myself in this position is an understatement. Over the better part of the last three years, the Brotherhood has enjoyed the best Herald and staff that it has ever seen, bar none. I always used to joke to myself that Vyr was never allowed to retire, he had to stay Herald forever because nobody could replace him. To be the one attempting to fill those big shoes is a daunting prospect. I probably should have made sure the rules in my head also included promotion, and not simply forbade retirement. I wish I had half the ability that our now-former Herald possess, and I'm going to be working hard to practice until I can provide a pale imitation. I previously served as one of the first crop of Magistrates under Vyr's tutelage, and it was an eye opening experience. I applied for Herald then, but serving with Vyr showed me how underprepared I was at the time.
Looking forward, my number one priority is keeping the ship that Vyr has built on course. I don't want to implement changes in how the office functions because there's a new Herald, just for the sole reason that when a new Dark Councilor is appointed things are going to change. Serving Clan Plagueis as long as I have, I've seen the benefit of consistency. Making sure the membership knows what to expect is paramount, and stability helps make that a reality.
Nero, aka Ryuu Suoh, has been forced to step away from his position as Magistrate to the Herald due to real life circumstances. Vyr and I wish him well, and offer him a hearty thanks for his work for the office. As such, I'll be opening up applications for the vacant Magistrate position.
What are we looking for?
- Basic skills in graphics manipulation software (Photoshop, GIMP, Krita, Illustrator, Corel, etc.)
- 24-hour mail turn around
- A Telegram connection and Trello access are mandatory
- Readiness to take on some of the most challenging graphics projects in the Brotherhood (#nopressure)
Applications will be accepted until Sunday the 31st of March. Send all applications (including a portfolio of at least 5 of your most recent works) to [Log in to view e-mail addresses]. Applications should be serious and well written and should include some of your own ideas for the position.
As far as the staff overall is concerned, I'm blessed with a group of people that I feel make it easy for me to step into my new role. I don't plan on bringing back defined length terms for Magistrates, but I do want to make sure that those outside of the set staff have access to project work the office creates. Allowing people to get a bit of exposure to that world I think is very valuable, and I know that Vyr has done the same with the expanded Herald community helping support work on the Graphics Society. Given some of the projects I'll outline below, I see myself making use of the same community of talented contributors moving forward.
Much of the work on the upcoming Graphics Society has been completed. However, there is still plenty of it to be done. Additionally, this is as much Vyr's baby as it is anyone else's, and I don't plan to come in at the 11th hour and start rocking the boat. I'm going to be supporting Vyr in his role as DGM in order to get the society launched and out there to the membership as soon as possible, so stay tuned.
A Community for Everyone
As a longstanding member of the Dark Brotherhood who is also an artist, it has been amazing to watch the growth of the graphics community over the last few years. Vyr's time as Herald has turned an office that has, in the past, kept a tight grip on graphics work into something that has broad member appeal and participation. One of my biggest goals is to continue on the course that Vyr has charted for the artists of the Brotherhood.
However, there has been one drawback that I've seen from my perspective as a Consul and Proconsul over the last few years. Much of the membership don't see themselves as great artists, or even good ones. Though it is nobody's fault, these people see the evolution of the Dark Brotherhood's art community as leaving them behind, as the talent of the amazingly talented artists becomes intimidating. I think this is something that grows out of the unique perceptions that art is viewed through. While most everyone feels they have the same basic tools or talents when writing because the finished product looks and feels very similar even when there is a gulf of talent, art or drawings by highly skilled members look almost like magic to those who are less talented or have practiced their skills less. The perspective of "I could just never do that" is prevalent, even though it is rarely accurate as most of the "talented" artists in the Brotherhood aren't born with some natural skill and are instead the product of many hours of practice. The art community here isn't elitist or exclusionary, as I have found the art chat on Telegram to be one of the most supportive groups I've seen in my time in the Brotherhood. That perception, however, still exists in the minds of people that aren't part of that community, and think that they never can be. I've watched similar environments develop in various parts of our club's community at one point or another over the years, and want to do what I can institutionally as Herald to make the art community more accessible to those who see themselves as unskilled or underskilled, turning them from people who feel they are outside the community into those who instead feel like they're at the "entry level" for that community.
My goal is to directly address this via some of the competitions the Herald's office runs. It's important to create events that cater to every skill level, even the stick figure. Having events where participants are limited to certain levels or types of art I think will foster the perception that there are places where any member can be competitive, while still creating "art" instead of a lemming rush of participatory doodles that shows up any time there is a vendetta. Things like the XKCD strip Time show that there can be immense artistic value in "simple" drawings, and having even the most experienced artists work within the confines of more limited formats can breed creativity much as the word count limits in ACC tournaments can bring about similar creative growth. Additionally, hosting competitions on a more ongoing basis such as the Maker competition from the last Great Jedi War, with non-standard art formats that branch out beyond drawing or graphics, can open doors into the art community for those that don't feel as if they are skilled with "drawing", giving them a place where they feel their skills will serve them well. Better yet, both of these sorts of competitions can hopefully encourage more members to take their first steps into the wider art community of the Brotherhood instead of simply interacting with "graphics" in the Brotherhood only during vendettas with quick, low effort entries. Having a member to get their foot in the door of the graphics community, even when they don't feel like they're very artistic, is the key to keeping the Brotherhood and its art community healthy and expanding moving forward. Our community itself is, as mentioned above, one of the most inclusive and supporting of any, so I feel the key is just exposing more members to it in order to dispel the idea that the art community isn't for everyone no matter their level of skill.
Multimedia: A Long Term Goal
It has been my belief for several years now that the one place that offers the highest ceiling for growth in the Brotherhood is the expansion of our multimedia content, both organizationally and through member driven activity. From recruitment, through the join experience, and into content presentation for long tenured members, multimedia can impact all of these things. Outside of the Brotherhood's confines, a video created with an eye towards the uninitiated would do far more than a fiction or piece of artwork alone could do. Incorporated into a landing page for those who haven't visited the Brotherhood before it would provide a far more interesting method of content presentation that is less likely to be skimmed or glossed over when compared to text. Videos then embedded in the various steps of the join process could also help explain the choices and process to a new member in a way that could increase interest and immersion if presented from an in-universe perspective.
A major project that I would like to see the Herald, in conjunction with many other Dark Council offices, work towards would be using Multimedia to improve member experience. Things like the Star Wars: The Old Republic Galactic Timeline videos offer a possible model to make the deep history of the Brotherhood work for us instead of it being a barrier to new members and longer tenured equites alike. Working alone, I created a video as a multimedia entry during a prior vendetta competition that was modeled on this content. I can only imagine what the larger Brotherhood art community could do to support a series of similar content, short vignettes explaining our history or structure. This sort of content can be something that will drive members and non-members alike to actively consume it, overcoming the the barrier that can be put up when they see a wall of text. Hopefully, such video content will not only provide an easier point of access for that content but will instill members with a desire to answer yes to the Starship Troopers-esque question of "Would you like to know more?", leading them to want to explore the same wiki or archived fictions that they might otherwise have passed on. This is likely not something that would materialize overnight, and instead will be a long term project I want to commit to in order to start developing the skill sets and desire necessary to help make a project with this kind of scale a reality. In the past I've thought that, perhaps, it was too ambitious an undertaking to succeed. But, if there is anything that the growth of the artistic community has shown me over the last several years, I think it is possible. The scale of the community has reached the point where it is an achievable goal. The cooperative nature of the project I think also suits the supportive nature of the community, and would allow more of the membership to start participating in and seeing the rewards from Brotherhood-wide service.
There’s a Form for that
DB Art Community Telegram Group
If you’re interested in joining the TG group and sharing your art, be sure to click the image below:
Ask the Herald
Benevolent asks: Do I have to pay extra for exotic furs (Panda) in my robes, or does the Herald office pay the necessary permits?
That's extra. However, you can avoid some of the fees by simply providing an inducement to the Herald staff.
Archenksov asks: How are you planning to make the position your own? How is Selika planning to?
I'm of two minds about making it "my own", OOC wise. I don't want to walk in and change things because new and different is exciting. However, what I'm looking to do is grow the position beyond the graphics and art that it's focused on before, as there's more to "art" than just drawing and the like. As far as Selika goes, she's going to not be above using the Shroud Syndicate and the resources it provides for Selika first, and the Brotherhood second. Always looking out for number one, that one.
Arden asks: How does Selika feel about the new job?
At first, Selika is going to be annoyed that she has to be hanging around with so many dirty, poor, mundanes. She'll get over it, I think. :D
Andrelious asks: So the new robe master is someone who doesn't seem to wear any? How does that work? ;)
Atty asks: With what regularity do you intend to release new content? Do you plan to do any herald esque events or large releases? Eg we previously had herald hanukkah (I'm sorry, spelling) but as that was taxing it changed to releases throughout the year.
My initial thoughts on the release schedule is to continue the quarterly releases that Vyr recently moved to. I was a part of one of the most recent HSH's, and it was something that really ground the staff down into a fine powder. Additionally, with skins now more connected to possessions, there's a bit more to keep in mind when we're looking to create new content and we'll be adding more skins throughout the year as new items are added to possessions.
Alara asks: How does art outside the DJB affect your life?
More than it used to the last time I was on staff, that's for sure. My "day job" is supervising a copy and print center, so I actually end up doing a lot of graphic design work each day. So, a lot of the "art" that I do in the DJB is a the same stuff I do day to day. Most of what we do is just printing existing materials, but there are plenty of jobs that require me to design materials whole cloth.
Jono asks: Can you make me draw better please?
I can do it the same way that Vyr has with me and so many others, by giving some advice: Just keep swimming! I mean drawing. Just keep drawing. Only through practice do we all get better.
Dek Ironius asks: What's your take on the position of Herald in the past and what do you want to do with the position in the future?
Jono asks: What are your plans as herald, how will you be taking the department and the society forward.
I've lumped these two together, as they're very similar. In the distant past, the Herald's office always seemed to be very insular, but that's changed under more recent Heralds. I aim to continue that into the future. My biggest goal in moving the Herald's office forward is going to be seeing how we can leverage our art assets to not only grow the Brotherhood's art community, but grow the Brotherhood as an organization. There are plenty of groups out there that pay top dollar for the sort of art and design that we generate as a matter of course, be it via day to day activity or competition entries. If a picture is worth a thousand words, I think we should use those pictures beyond the walls of the Brotherhood to make quick "arguments" to people as to why they should join up in the first place!
Silent asks: Do you have any future plans for new or improved flair for lightsabers, warbanners, robes/awesome suits of armor?
Jono asks: Will we be getting more selector options for robes and weapons, specifically armour varieties
Atty asks: Will we be getting more options for saberstaffs from the selector? I've had some members express a wish for some (since you can't get customs until eq4)
Another group of questions that address the same sector of the Herald's work. The Herald has always looked to grow what we offer for people, and I don't plan on being different. My feeling, as well, is that the we should bring as many "cool" options into hands of as many people as possible. I was a major proponent of lowering the rank restrictions on things like double bladed lightsabers and dual sabers. More options in those sabers, or armor, or robes, means that more people that join can make their character better resemble the version they have in their head they want to make. In short, MORE IS BETTER!
Monty asks: When will you be unveiling the Herald approved Di Plagia crest?
Once I work through all the other graphics requests, possession items, and multimedia lore videos. ^_^
Elincia Rei asks: What are your favourite art forms to practice?
I really like "graphic design" work, report headers and the like. Though, most anything I can learn to do in photoshop I like doing. I love just finding new tutorials that teach me to do something new that I've never done before.
Atty asks: Any goals you have personally for the herald position?
Beyond everything outlined in detail above, I have one simple goal: Leave the Brotherhood a better place when I'm done as Herald than it is now. Everything else is just how I reach that goal.
Kelly asks: What are you most looking forward to doing as Herald and where does that line up with the order in which things need to be done from what you've seen so far?
The thing I look forward to the most is the multimedia project I outlined above. That probably ends up at the back of the list as far as Herald projects, just because it's such a major undertaking.
Atty asks: Ever wanna ACC? My character just has to meet yours :p
I think that could be arranged.
Commission Artists and Artist Feature
Every report I will feature an artist from either across the internet that does commission work, or a member of the Brotherhood.
This month is Kaela Croft, who has done several pieces for various DJB members. For the month of March, she's also offering a discount on her work as well. So, if you're looking for an artist to do some work now's the perfect time. Enjoy the art!
That's it for now. Stay tuned for a report coming in early April with all your normally schedule graphical goodness!