I am Shawnimal v.2.0

My new project!

2013: A memoir

I just wrote a much longer version of this that was quite good, but in my own stupidity, I wrote it in Tumblr, and not in a local document. Then, when something went wrong with Tumblr, it didn’t autosave and I lost it in its entirety. Fucking idiot.

Anyway, now that I’m thoroughly annoyed and frustrated, here’s the short version in all of its realness:

  • 2013 was simultaneously awesome and horrible

  • Shawnimals was set to have an awesome year in 2012, but it quickly disintegrated, making for a rough start to 2013

  • Brody was born, and we love him a lot

  • Jen and I decided that it made sense for Jen to stop working at Shawnimals. This was difficult, but for the best, since we couldn’t afford child care

  • Had to let our designer Eric go. Hoped to make him permanent freelance, but it didn’t work out for several reasons

  • My brother and best friend Mike died from a heart attack in April. My Dad also died of a heart attack when I was 18

  • This woke me up and made me realize I need to take control of my health. Lost weight, eat better, workout. It’s helped a lot

  • Resketch was born, and 310% funded on Kickstarter. Thank you, all. A lot of time and energy went into the project, meaning there was less of me for Shawnimals

  • I realized that I was not able to pay myself a salary through Shawnimals anymore

  • Monte gave his notice that he was leaving and moving to New York with his wonderful husband Lucas. We miss him terribly, and wish them both the best

  • September and October were crazy busy, and left me with that all-to-familiar feeling of being incredibly over-stressed. Shit

  • Then our holiday season crept in, and despite some aggressive promotions and fun releases, the end of year wasn’t quite as good as we had hoped

  • Babies: Expensive. As wonderful as Brody is, when it was all said and done, the midwife, labor, delivery, and other hospital stuff, left us with over $5000 in bills

  • Retirement fund: Dwindling, and that is terrifying. We made the difficult choice to withdraw funds from it to stay afloat

  • Shawnimals: Looking forward to getting back to my roots. Making awesome things, posting online, selling. Less business, more creative. That feels right

  • Resketch: I want this to succeed and do good. Period

  • What else? I need to make some money, so I’m picking up freelance design and branding jobs. Need help? Have an actual budget? Get in touch: shawn@shawnimals.com

That is all.

Tumblr doesn’t auto save…

Duly noted.

chrisryniak:

Just finished a new head mold for my next figure, Cabbagewort!

chrisryniak:

Just finished a new head mold for my next figure, Cabbagewort!

missmonstermel:

I have trophy heads in the shop!

http://missmonster.myshopify.com/

This is a cast urethane piece with glass eyes mounted on a 9.5 x 7” wood plaque. It has been hand painted and sealed with clear coat. Faux fur mane.

One of a kind sculpture that is ready to hang on the wall. Signed and dated on the back.



Fantastic decor for a monster hunter!

Benson, IL » Chicago, IL

UPDATE: Looks like the check date is from 2002, which means it’s likely from some sort of bank storage facility?

Stopped by the studio this morning, and when I was about to get in my car to leave for a meeting I saw a piece of paper swirling in the wind. Plenty of that, but this looked like either money or a check, so I grabbed it. Sure enough, it was a check. No big deal, except when I looked closer.

"Oh, it’s written to US Cellular. Bummer, they’ll be late on their payment," I thought. Then I looked closer. Someone from Benson, IL. Figured it was somewhere South of here, maybe down I-57 a bit? Searched on Google Maps, and… HOLY SHIT!

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Benson, IL is just outside of Washington, IL and Peoria! Over 2 hours from Chicago, and 127 miles. The Shawnimals studio is at Damen and Grand basically, just north of United Center for a reference point. Must’ve gotten blown all the way up here from the storm…

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Life

A couple weeks back I was rushing around on a Sunday morning, having not budgeted time well and forgetting about an errand I needed to run. A 10-minute drive over to the studio to get a folding table for a yard sale. No big deal, right?

But then again I felt a bit stressed about running late for a get together with a good friend immediately following. Coffee and good conversation with my friend Tom who I feel is a long-lost brother.

Weird thing was, this stress was self-imposed. Made-up. The dumb kind.

As I sped away from the studio with the table in tow, I rounded the corner and saw a pigeon down the road. I didn’t speed up, I just kept at my peace since, you know, pigeons ALWAYS get out of the way.

Except this time it didn’t.

I hit, it flopped onto the windshield, falling off to one side, and that was that. It was dead. In the middle of the road. I stopped, looking at it laying motionless in the middle of the road, yelling at myself with a string of nonsensical profanities.

Now I don’t have a particular love for pigeons, but I do love animals and living things. And for some reason, this hit me hard. I felt rushed, stressed, and on edge about something that wasn’t really important.

And in denying good sense, and not taking a moment to calm down, I allowed myself to keep going. I didn’t slow down over something kind of dumb. And because of that, I killed this pigeon – no, more specifically, I took life away from something living. Accidental, but the results are the same.

That’s what bummed me out the most.

Maybe it has something to do with my son Brody and this new life Jen and I are sharing in. Or maybe it’s about my brother who died in April. Or a combination of everything that has happened over the last few years. Or maybe I’m secretly a Buddhist. Whatever prompted it, I haven’t been able to shake it entirely.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not typing this while sobbing. I have accepted that I screwed up, and have decided I don’t want to ever do that again.

Life is precious and fleeting, and should be embraced in the present tense. And pigeons should have the chance to eat garbage, shit on your car, and fly around, unencumbered.

Rest in peace, Ryan…
maxistentialist:

Last night I got a terrible call from Patrick that our friend Ryan Davis had passed away. I’m pretty heartbroken about this, I haven’t experienced the deaths of many people close to me and I haven’t met many people who were more full of life than Ryan.
I met Ryan a few years ago after he brought Cards Against Humanity to a Giant Bomb feature called Thursday Night Throwdown and crashed our website. Ryan and I quickly became friends online, and then in real life a few months later at PAX East.
Ryan and I both loved making trouble together, and as soon as we were told we weren’t supposed to do something, we delighted in egging each other on to do it. I have rarely had more fun in my entire life than when I was making trouble with Ryan. One time we flushed a pie down the toilet and then when people got mad we bought WhatsGoingInTheToilet.com to publicize the event. 
When we met at PAX, Leo Laporte had just cancelled a gaming show on the TWiT network for playing Cards Against Humanity and news of that cancellation broke on the Giant Bomb forums. Of course by the end of the day I was on stage at the Giant Bomb PAX panel and Ryan and I were making fun of Leo Laporte to thousands of people. By the end of that weekend we were working on a Giant Bomb pack of Cards Against Humanity cards together.
As a critic, Ryan embodied that Roger Ebert quote, “It’s not what a movie is about, it’s how it is about it.” He was always finding redeeming qualities of games that I hated and convincing me to try new things. And when he got excited about a game, it was really something to see. If you’d like a pure 23 minutes of joy, watch Ryan playing Hotline Miami for the first time.
Ryan was one of the most gregarious people I have ever met, he knew everyone in the game industry, and beyond having a professional relationship, he was friends with them. I learned hanging out with Ryan who the decent, funny people were in this industry and became friends with them too. I think people loved Ryan because he had an incredible ability to see and talk through all of the bullshit at conventions and in everyday life. He was extremely funny, and one of the best people to play pranks on and conspire on pranks with.
Pretty much everyone who ever knew or listened to Ryan loved him for his sense of humor, but he was also an incredibly kind and confident guy. Ryan hosted several of our Cards Against Humanity panels at PAX. At the first one, we were waiting back stage going out of our minds with nerves (in particular I was sitting on the floor in the fetal position). Ryan gathered us up and put a huge sweaty arm around me and gave us a pep talk that I still think about when I have to do something scary. We killed that panel.
Today I’m mourning my friend Ryan, but I’m also mourning the relationship that my friends at Giant Bomb had together. When those five guys got together there was some special energy, and I will miss it so much. I’ll particularly miss the dynamic that Ryan had with Jeff Gerstmann. The two of them had a special comedy partnership that you really had to see to believe. I’ll never forget when I introduced Jeff and Ryan to our producer over drinks. She’s a pretty seasoned pro and works with celebrities and comedians all the time; after they left, she turned to me and said, “They’re good.” I feel so lucky to have had the chance to hang out with them, and we are all so much richer for the years of video and podcasts that they’ve shared with us. I wish I had told that to Ryan when I had the chance.
Finally just to cover my bases here - Ryan, if this whole thing is an elaborate payback prank I want you to know that you didn’t fool me for a second.

Rest in peace, Ryan…

maxistentialist:

Last night I got a terrible call from Patrick that our friend Ryan Davis had passed away. I’m pretty heartbroken about this, I haven’t experienced the deaths of many people close to me and I haven’t met many people who were more full of life than Ryan.

I met Ryan a few years ago after he brought Cards Against Humanity to a Giant Bomb feature called Thursday Night Throwdown and crashed our website. Ryan and I quickly became friends online, and then in real life a few months later at PAX East.

Ryan and I both loved making trouble together, and as soon as we were told we weren’t supposed to do something, we delighted in egging each other on to do it. I have rarely had more fun in my entire life than when I was making trouble with Ryan. One time we flushed a pie down the toilet and then when people got mad we bought WhatsGoingInTheToilet.com to publicize the event. 

When we met at PAX, Leo Laporte had just cancelled a gaming show on the TWiT network for playing Cards Against Humanity and news of that cancellation broke on the Giant Bomb forums. Of course by the end of the day I was on stage at the Giant Bomb PAX panel and Ryan and I were making fun of Leo Laporte to thousands of people. By the end of that weekend we were working on a Giant Bomb pack of Cards Against Humanity cards together.

As a critic, Ryan embodied that Roger Ebert quote, “It’s not what a movie is about, it’s how it is about it.” He was always finding redeeming qualities of games that I hated and convincing me to try new things. And when he got excited about a game, it was really something to see. If you’d like a pure 23 minutes of joy, watch Ryan playing Hotline Miami for the first time.

Ryan was one of the most gregarious people I have ever met, he knew everyone in the game industry, and beyond having a professional relationship, he was friends with them. I learned hanging out with Ryan who the decent, funny people were in this industry and became friends with them too. I think people loved Ryan because he had an incredible ability to see and talk through all of the bullshit at conventions and in everyday life. He was extremely funny, and one of the best people to play pranks on and conspire on pranks with.

Pretty much everyone who ever knew or listened to Ryan loved him for his sense of humor, but he was also an incredibly kind and confident guy. Ryan hosted several of our Cards Against Humanity panels at PAX. At the first one, we were waiting back stage going out of our minds with nerves (in particular I was sitting on the floor in the fetal position). Ryan gathered us up and put a huge sweaty arm around me and gave us a pep talk that I still think about when I have to do something scary. We killed that panel.

Today I’m mourning my friend Ryan, but I’m also mourning the relationship that my friends at Giant Bomb had together. When those five guys got together there was some special energy, and I will miss it so much. I’ll particularly miss the dynamic that Ryan had with Jeff Gerstmann. The two of them had a special comedy partnership that you really had to see to believe. I’ll never forget when I introduced Jeff and Ryan to our producer over drinks. She’s a pretty seasoned pro and works with celebrities and comedians all the time; after they left, she turned to me and said, “They’re good.” I feel so lucky to have had the chance to hang out with them, and we are all so much richer for the years of video and podcasts that they’ve shared with us. I wish I had told that to Ryan when I had the chance.

Finally just to cover my bases here - Ryan, if this whole thing is an elaborate payback prank I want you to know that you didn’t fool me for a second.

An open letter to Julie from OUYA…

Julie,

I’ve read your two recent backer updates now, and have read many of the comments. For at least a healthy handful of backers, there are some real problems. The kind where they haven’t yet received consoles, and here we are on retail launch day.

I have my OUYA, and while it’s impressive in some respects, I’m definitely not sold overall. But that’s not the point of this message. This is about customer service. Or lack there of, with regard to these ongoing backer issues.

Here’s what you do: anyone who has not yet received OUYA, re-ship with a reliable shipping partner. Personally if you have to. Then refund the money to those backers. Period.

It’s good customer service plain and simple. If you want to truly be different than than the big gaming hardware companies, then you have to do more than provide corporate rhetoric. However well-intentioned and genuine you think you’re being, frustrated backers are interpreting it as bullshit. And to some extent it is. You have to know that.

Do the right thing here, and take a financial hit to make things right for your core customers. You had millions of dollars, and millions more now with your VC money.

So just do it. No more talk. You have to take action. It may already be too late.

Sincerely,
Shawn Smith
Former EGM Hardware Editor
Owner, Shawnimals.com

Times are changing

What a year it has been. I’ve been thinking a lot about this past year, starting with Remmy’s attack in early March of 2012, finding out we were pregnant, a busy Spring and Summer tending to Remmy, running Shawnimals, the insanely busy / awesome holiday season, getting our life in order with the coming baby, phew! We’ve all been there on some level.

While it wasn’t the easiest at times, it was considerably easier with your help! By the way, Remmy is doing incredibly well, with no real issues any more. Well, a bit socially awkward, but other than that, 99% herself. It’s amazing, and we love her, and we love you for giving her back to us.

Now we have a baby boy! Brody is nearly 3 months old already, and he’s awesome. Fun, cute, challenging – all of the things you’d expect – and so much more. Jen and I are first-time parents, but thanks to friends and family we’re learning so many, MANY things. But really Brody teaches us the most.

So what’s next? With Brody, come changes at Shawnimals. Some big ones. And honestly, many of them would have come either way…

  1. Perhaps the biggest, Jen is no longer with Shawnimals officially. This is challenging to say the least, but it was necessary on many levels.
  2. In addition, while we love him to death, Eric our designer is no longer with us (he’s taking freelance work, by the way)
  3. Shawnimals is now Monte and myself, and we’re still doing amazing things, albeit more focused and smaller in scale.

This scaling down is giving us an opportunity to get a very clear look at how we’ve been doing things. All of the things. Some are going unchanged, many are being torn down and rebuilt.

The fact of the matter is small business is incredibly challenging right now. It’s hard usually, especially hard right now. We’re also hand-making many of our goods because of our general dislike of the issues and lack of quality with Chinese manufacturing. Hand-making here in Chicago is a joy, but it’s also not entirely sustainable financially. Our fans are the best, and we are consistently humbled by their support and generosity. But even with the help from so many people, we simply can’t function the same as we used to. We’re looking at ways to scale up manufacturing state-side, but it’s an uphill battle.

As you all know, we do an incredible job with such a small team, and we’re proud of that fact. We’re looking at this as the next phase. Getting back to basics in some respects, and, hopefully, in the future we’ll bounce back and grow in new, exciting ways.

Now I should note: Don’t read into all of this too much – we’re not shutting down or anything drastic. But we are definitely changing, which means fewer releases annually, and orders may take a few extra days to ship. But then again, I am a serial entrepreneur and love making things. So while some new releases may not be Shawnimals-related, make no mistake that my creative output will be as prolific as always.

Consequently, I’m looking for work above and beyond Shawnimals. If you know me, you know my work and you know my love of making awesome things. Not just characters and toys, but anything really. Technology, design, small business, art, character development, narrative development, and so much more. So if you have a project or small business, and you’re looking for a fresh yet seasoned perspective from the outside – and you have a budget – get in touch. I’d love to chat, and consult / collaborate to make your awesome thing even awesomer.

Looking toward the future,
Shawn