PROJECT WEEK 2: Head of wood


The past week past in a blur; Friday through Sunday i spend in the KKV woodshop, taking a course in how to use all the tools without losing any fingers. We were six people who all made boxes of some sort, and I decided on making a small box for microscope glass slides. Of course, being a smartarse I wanted to make my box with parallelogram sides, which quickly had me revisiting grade school math in order to calculate angles and such. It’s surprising how difficult it is to hold more than one number or idea in ones head when you’re at the same time learning new machinery!

At the end of each day I was exhausted and had probably gained weight from all the dust I’d inhaled. I’m pretty sure that if I’d dried and flatten all mucus and snot, I’d have a respectable piece of veneer. Sort of like those goats who eat and shit whole coffee beans, or the guy who brewed beer from yeast cultured from his own beard: Nasal veneer.

The finished box came out crooked and is unusable – most likely I hadn’t used the planer correctly on the first day, but it wasn’t apparent until I started gluing the parts together. It felt reminiscent of when I brought my mom a 2kg turned coffee cup from “clay day” at school – look ma, I made this all by my selfs! But more practically, I now at least know how to use most of the machines in the woodshop, so feel slightly more comfortable in taking on building projects.

A couple of years ago, when I got a largish grant and had more money than sense, I considered subscribing to wood. You’d get samples sent to you a couple of times a year, and you were also encouraged to exchange wood with other members so that you’d get a feel for different qualities from all around the world. I didn’t go through with it then, and probably won’t do it now, but I’m definitely eager to learn more about it now. So you shouldn’t be surprised if you see me fondling wood with a joyful expression.

MateuszPROJECT WEEK 2: Head of wood

Project week 1: Weak

The first weeks ambition was to glue together 50 more packages for the drone project and do a marketing video. The packages got done, but the video has to wait as I’ve spend most of the week either sleeping or blowing my nose in a delirium – whatever bug is going around jumped onto my face and wouldn’t let go, so it’s not until today that I’m able to walk more or less in a straight line. But I did get some filming done, so there’s that at least.

So the last weeks task continues this week as well. We’ll see how that goes, since Friday through Sunday I’m taking a woodworking course at KKV which I’ve been looking forwards to. I’ll finally learn to use more than the bandsaw and belt sander, and seeing as we’re still not completely unpacked since our move around Christmas, we could really use some shelving and tables and such – which I ought to be able to build with no problems whatsoever once I’ve finished the course.

As a side note, I’ve started up another ongoing project which is continuing in a brisk-ish pace: Read All The Books! I have way too many books which have served no purpose other than to line my walls, so I’m foreswearing any new book purchases until I’ve thinned out the current stock. The goal is to read three books I already own before reading something new. I read somewhere that a proficient reader will have read 5000 books in their lifetime, and if I include my digital collection I’ve amassed way past that number already. It’s time to start reading instead of just skimming, and it’s time to realise that some of the books I’ve been puttin off might not deserve my attention but ought to be discarded. So any book I don’t believe I’ll want to keep for reference or a future re-read, I’ll give away or toss. I started in on the third book in as many weeks today – a speed reading manual – and will post a short summery of the other two shortly. Anytime now. Really soon.

MateuszProject week 1: Weak

2015: Ideas and ambitions

I’ve been working at KKV GBG for a couple of months now, and have enough spare time that I feasibly could get stuff done on the side. Last years attempt to post one thing a week went well for the first couple of months, but then sunk into the mire of pretexts and excuses. I still think it was a Good Thing™ as I actually got stuff done and some new ideas, but seeing as I abandoned it half-way through, I’ll modify it a bit. Starting in March I’ll reinstate the “one thing per week” thing, but will allow myself to work on larger projects as well.

I’ve been bouncing around a couple largeish ideas around for a while, so I’m going to divide them up into discreet parts – actionable things, in GTD parlance – and use the blog to log the progress. This would also allow the work to take new paths, and not make me procrastinate because I’ve grown tired of the original plans.


The first thing I’ll do is finish glueing the drone packaging and do a marketing video for them – I still have a bunch of the pins left (you can buy them here: drö but haven’t completed the packaging. Each little box takes up to half an hour to finish, and I’ve been putting it off until I’ve had a backlog of orders, but if I’m to let this project go I have to finish it properly, so that will be my task for this weekend, with a deadline of 8th of March. Go me.

Mateusz2015: Ideas and ambitions

Are we drone yet? Yes!

So, what started as a one week project (three weeks, max!) is just now coming to fruition. The drone pins have been delivered for some time, and I’ve just worked on getting the packaging right. The drone design took far less time than the packaging, and by now I’ve probably spent as much money as on the pins themselves, not counting the ten or so days doing package design and iteration.

It’s great fun and I’ve gotten to learn how to use the laser cutter here at KKV GBG but boy oh boy do all the little things add up. The last bit that needs doing is setting up the webshop, and that is all but done. Some typos need correcting and some images fiddled with before I’m happy with it, but any moment now you can buy the pins here:


Dröna inte min kompis pin

One interesting aspect of the project is that I get to decide what I want to charge for these pins, and I’m reminded of my experiments with pricing when doing serigraphy a couple of years ago and exhibiting at Marstrand. It all comes down to how not to price yourself out of the market, but also not below the threshold when it looks as if you’re not taking yourself seriously enough. It’s fascinating stuff, art pricing, and these pins are another opportunity to toy around with it.

I have 300 copies of the pins, and since 50 or so will be retained as trades / QC & loss / artist copies, I’m putting 250 copies in numbered boxes and offering them for sale at 200 SEK a pop. Since my rent isn’t dependent on if I manage to sell these or not (although it certainly wouldn’t harm my equity) I’m not particularly inclined to dump the price all that much, so we’ll see what will come out of it. Also, after a brief discussion with the Skatteverket (IRS) it was decided that a print run of 250 copies are too many to qualify as “art” and that value added tax is to be applied to these things, so that’s 25% out of whatever price I charge.

In order for the project to result in something more than just my pet project, I’ve contacted the Swedish peace-organisation Svenska Freds & Skiljedomsföreningen who are the only ones in Sweden trying to bringing attention to drones and their use. Before doing this project I wasn’t aware of that Sweden is taking part in developing two military drones, and it’s just that kind of information which needs to get out there before their use becomes so ubiquitous as to be unquestionable. Therefore, I’ve set it up that if you donate 200 SEK or more to Svenska Freds, you get to buy a pin from me for 50 SEK, which is more or less at cost.

I like the project; The pins turned out well and the packaging looks the way I want it. Going into the new year, with new resolutions and ambitions, I’m hoping to be a bit wiser and not underestimate how much work surrounds even small, innocuous ideas such as this.

MateuszAre we drone yet? Yes!

Before getting to that, this

It’s an illustration of how naïvety sneaks up on me, but when I was a teenager I was certain that religion was on it’s way out. It was an outmoded allegory of our place in the universe, being weighted down by it’s own hierarchical power structures which in a secular world no longer could be justified. Spirituality still had its place, but organised religion not so much.

As alluring as that prediction was, it really hasn’t proved itself; Under capitalist hegemony, religion offers an alternative worldview in lieu of socialism or other political visions, and there’s no end to fundamentalist religious nutters who use it as a political and moral lever to advance themselves. Which is utterly fucking depressing.

Another thing which I completely underestimated was the emergence of racist political parties – and how much support they’d receive – not least in Sweden where there was a strong resistance against those tendencies after they flared up during the 90’s. Boy was I every wrong about that being on the vane, seeing as just yesterday the not-officially-nazi-but-yes-nazi Svenskarnas Parti were having a public rally downtown in the run-up to elections. Their fifteen or so supporters were met by me and 2000+ others booing them, but it’s a sign of shitty times when the racist Swedish Democrat party has moved the goalposts of acceptable discourse so far that nazis feel encouraged enough to show their mugs in public like this.

For the past couple of years, I thought that the next issue on a civilised discussion agenda would be addressing women’s rights and gender inequality; I mean, it’s about bloody time that that boil on our collective butt be lanced and properly cleaned out, no? But here we are, once again having to spend time battling racists. It feels like such a waste of time; if all the racist assholes became MRM assholes at least we could move on to that issue and make progress, instead of revisiting this reactionary bullshit.

Class inequality, global justice and the unbridled internationalisation of capital is still an issue, we’re seemingly heading towards a less democratic future, and global warming and peak everything is going to fuck us over regardless our gender identification, but the past couple of years have seen a great momentum building in women’s rights organisations and in the related public discourse, and it would seem a waste to have all that potential energy peter out or be appropriated into another, older, stupider, struggle.

Then again, since I started this out by disqualifying my powers of divination, I shouldn’t make too bold statements about what is and isn’t important today. Racists have to be beat over the head with something reasonable, and religion is combatted by projects offering alternativ frameworks of support and meaning, and so I guess one just has to reconcile oneself to tackling those issues. Again. In 2014. Imaginary baby Jesus wept.

MateuszBefore getting to that, this

On having ambitions; or not, whatever

A bit over one year ago I got a part-time temp job as a technician at my old school, which is now renamed Akademin Valand. Initially intended as a two month stint, it was extended every so often, and in the end I stayed on up until last of June. That was one week ago, and boy I’ve not kept up the routine of getting up in the morning. So far, I’ve been treating this as a vacation, but starting tomorrow I ought to be back on something resembling a “track.” In addition to trying making sure I have money for rent, I’m setting my sights on getting a realistic todo-list to adhere to.

A renewed commitment to this blog will be on there, but also a priority of all the small projects which have once again ballooned into bloated monstrosities. The drone project will end up high on that list – I now have 300 pins sitting on my sill just waiting for some clever packaging and a webshop. By the way, the latest version of the pins looks awesome.

This weeks thing will have to be the four-wall shelving I and Sara finally put up. I write “finally” because I think we started sketching the idea not long after we moved in. I bought the wood six months ago after which I left it to season, allowing the tree sprites within to come to terms of the gestalt I wanted to assume. Once we actually set about doing it, it took less than two days. Bloody long buildup for a very humble project, and even though it turned out “OK” (as in “it won’t fall on our heads,” not “it’s totally not crooked”) I despair over how slow I am to do stuff these days. I need to read less and practice more, and very definitely not play Hearthstone more than twice a week, that stuff is ambition-killing crack.


I’ve been poking the newly arrived Ultimaker 2 with an STL stick for a bit, and I’m hoping to have it well enough calibrated to place it in a grade school environment without them having me there to supervise it all the time. (It’s the tail end of the Frispel project for which I got the grant beginning of last year) Since it’s vacation time and schools out, I’m using the time to get the Doodle 3D to work. It’s a wifi enabled server connected to the printer, which serves up a web interface in which to draw – doodle even – and then have the it print the results. The available tools are extremely basic, but in a school setting it might just be enough. Design software is still the Achilles heel of the 3D printing ecology, so it’s nice when someone tries to simplify the process.

This post is written in bed using a tablet, so if the formatting is a bit wonky I’m blaming the Android app. I left the iOS world for a Sony tablet a while back, the idea being that I’ve become too complacent in my computer use and ought to at least try to keep some mental agility. I’ve mostly used the tablet for reading ebooks, as a laptop is so much more versatile, but since I left my laptop behind along with my employment I’m going to see how much milage I can get out of this arrangement. It’s waterproof should I want to write poetry in the rain. Also, it has FM radio (retro!) which helps drowning out the drunken neighborly fights; That shit’s depressing.

MateuszOn having ambitions; or not, whatever

Creating brand report

Following up on last weeks foray into my customisation of a nice invoice template, where I bought a new domain just so that the email address would take up less space in the design, I set up a new Koken install on said domain. Behold, is now an empty sheet onto which I will pour my professionalism and coherence. Which frees this blog up for even more random stuff, allowing me to really let loose.

My temporary employment at Akademin Valand is drawing to an end, and seeing as I’m joining the precariat once again I found it prudent to get a proper portfolio site up and running. Thus the site. I’m rather temperamental when it comes to putting together samples of my work. Consequently, I’ve so far put up nothing.

My reluctance is partly based on my uncertainty of what it is I really do. For the past fifteen or so years during which I’ve slid from unpaid creative work alongside paying menial work, to paying creative work, I’ve had a devil of a time coming to terms with what constitutes “work” and “title” and “profession.” I’ve joked about creating a “professional dilettante” calling card many times, but haven’t done so although the title would fit. (Most people I tried it on don’t know what a “dilettante” is so I end up having to explain it and come of as a “professional dilettante jerk” instead.)

But this is reflected in how I understand myself. I do do commissioned photography, but it’s not all I do so I feel a bit disingenuous when I present myself with a profile which is exclusively focused on my photo and editing experience. This blog is probably a better reflection of what I do, especially when someone reads more than the first couple of posts, but what kind of image is that? When the practicality of “getting work” meets ones requirement to “be truthful” I lean towards the latter to the detriment of legibility and focus.

Possibly it’s best to be “true enough” or at least “not lie” when it comes to these things – if I select the works I believe speak to my strengths and showcase them as best I can, it’s not untruthful; it’s just very omissive. Could it be this is what is known as being “professional” and that I’m just late to the game? It would be in line with other blank spots I’m constantly discovering in my personality and behaviour.

Perhaps I ought just to ask some friends in the business to help me style a portfolio? Talk to some photo buyers who could actually help determine if I should pursue this or not. If I’m uninterested in something I do a half-assed job of it, but perhaps I’m just not good enough to do the projects I’d actually be interested in, which would give an indication of what I’d need to do to get there. Too often I assume that it’s a question of will to accomplish something, underestimating the value of skill and experience, and so it can be liberating to learn that what I’m doing is trite garbage; it gives you a direction and a goal, and hints at a roadmap you could follow to become better, more interesting, more serious and fun.

Ok it’s settled; I’ll get in touch with some image editors and ask their advice and judgement. It goes up on the list next to “learn soil analysis” and “design an origami box for the drone pin”, but before “learn the trombone like Antoine in Treme” and circle back to it once I’m officially unemployed…

MateuszCreating brand report

This week in review: many small things embusying one.

Originally, I set out to create one small project each week in order to get stuff going but I find that my mind is constantly wearing onto side streets and cul-de-sacs which take days just to navigate out of, let alone emerge with any solid gains. So too have the past two weeks passed by, and I have a bunch of notes and ongoing stuff happening, but have to once again remind myself that that wasn’t the point of the exercise. It was to publish one finished project once a week, not amassing five grand projects to publish “soon”.

So just to get something out there, I’ve uploaded the images from the “Virtual photography” series I did while still doing my BA in photography. The images are currently on the front page of and it’s a series of 8 pictures.

Printed copies have been on display in Sweden, Denmark and Canada, and I still get questions about them occasionally. One of my favourite comments from gallery visitors was “Hey, I know that place, I’ve been there”, in respons to seeing one of the photos. It seemed to prove a point at the time. Today, they look quite dated, so feel more like documentation of old computer games rather than the cutting edge of virtual photography, but there you go.

MateuszThis week in review: many small things embusying one.

The hipbone connects to the wristwatch.

This weeks thing is a practical example of how distraction works: I get home early in order to sit down with an animation I’ve been mulling over for a couple of weeks. Before starting up Photoshop and getting to it, I check my emails. Huh looks like I ought to send some work invoices out, so let’s just get that out of the way first.

— Oh, hang on, the formatting of the invoicing hasn’t been updated with my latest info, I better just go into the template and fix that. Well, I be danged, the template function of Billings is utter complete shit, so if I’m going to wade through the documentation just to do the update I might as well just redesign the whole thing — how hard could that be?

— Let’s see, where did I put that logo I made a while back, that could go on there… A little bit to the right… Maybe left? Now to select typeface. Oh, and the logo has a burned umbra colour, wouldn’t that look dandy on the invoice headers? Hang on, my email is too long compared to the rest of my address; I know, why not register a new domain! Ooh, nice, my surname is still available, I’ll just go ahead and register that and set it up. (Might as well ask my brother if he wants to be setup with a forwarding address as well)

— Ok, now we’re rolling, but how the hell does Billings handle calculating the numbers and fixing the tables and totals and such? “Randomly and like a idiot leper, shitting itself” you say? Where was that documentation? There’s none except a few flaky videos, only visible if you search the Marketplace support page source code? Well that’s rather off-putting! Ok, but perhaps I can just copy-paste from a working template? No? Ok, I feel a headache coming on, let me get something for that.

I’ve just spent six hours trying to create a new template for my invoice software — a software which I use very sparingly now that I’m employed – and failing miserably. I’m now looking to spend more on another software which isn’t such a hideous bloated corpse of a thing, just so that I’ll be able to have my own design. This is not effective use of time, and this Sunday has been wasted, and no project will be posted today. Goddammit!

MateuszThe hipbone connects to the wristwatch.

On poverty, grants, value of juice

In 2010 I received a grant from Konstnärsnämnden. It was more money than I’d imagined ever having access to, and one of the habits I developed was buying the Brämhults brand juice which epitomizes middle class luxury. Before finally tossing the empty bottles, I documented them as proof of an attribute I had at least temporarily acquired thanks to the grant. The images are now edited and up on the main homepage: Tack Konstnärsnämnden! The images will also be published as a soft-cover booklet shortly, hopefully as next weeks project.

Related, as far as “poverty as identity” can be related to juice, is this old post from John Scalzi: being poor.

And I know I let two weeks pass without publishing something new. Bad artist, bad! Won’t happen again, promise. Pinky swear.

MateuszOn poverty, grants, value of juice