The Sketchblog lives here now

In accordance with an effort to practice more of what I preach, I’ve finally finished the import of my sketchblog archive from Tumblr to this site.

Moving over ~4,000 image-heavy posts (nearly a decade’s worth!) was a technical challenge that I might write more about later, but unsurprisingly, the even more time-consuming part was getting sucked down the rabbit hole of organising and fiddling post-import because I have so much power now.

Screenshot of Sketchblog index

Organisation

The only way to organise anything on Tumblr is with tags, but auto-suggest is more or less limited to your last 20-something used tags, so repeated tags due to plurals (“canines” VS “canine”) and rewording/other inconsistencies was common. Redundant tags due to wanting to hit every popular variant (“My Hero Academia” VS “Boku no Hero Academia” VS “heroaca” VS “bnha” etc) for reach/engagement was also a thing.

But I don’t have to worry about that anymore!! Tags will now be consistent and for taxonomical use only!

In total, I imported over 2,000 unique tags from Tumblr. I’ve got it down to about 1,700 now, but I expect to be able to purge/consolidate more as I continue to go through things. There are currently still over 200 tags that are only used for one post.

Auto-suggest on WordPress leaves nothing out though, and I don’t have to think about or try to cater to virality or whatever anymore. I can also finally have consistent capitalisation in tags now! And can put descriptions in tags that you see when you browse specific tags! Power!!

Since I can also add however many taxonomies I want, individual posts to the sketchblog now have categories and tools, in addition to tags. Both were previously just included in tags, but I think they work way better as separate layers. Categories are sort of superfluous since they’re subject-based like tags, but I think the broader, top-level categorisation is nice.

I wasn’t always consistent using the tags that are now categories, so I’m still in the process of assigning all posts to a category, but I suspect this is something that only I care about anyway. I’m very excited about filing things away with tidy labels though. :>

Screenshot of a tool tag description
I can explain tags on the tag (or category or tool) page now. Power!!

Granular RSS

One benefit of moving to WordPress and having better control over categorisation is that now I have an RSS feed for every classification of post, whether category, tag, or tool.

If you only want to see bird art, you can just subscribe to the tag for #birds. If you only want to see fanart, you can just subscribe to the category for Fanart.

You can get the feed for any specific taxonomy by going to the URL for it and appending “feed” at the end, so like, kiriska.com/sketchblog/tag/birds/feed or kiriska.com/sketchblog/category/fanart/feed

The primary site feed (what you get if you just subscribe generally to kiriska.com from your RSS reader or if you use kiriska.com/feed) gets all blog posts, all sketchblog posts, and all portfolio posts and updates. If you don’t care about the sketchblog and just want to continue reading my essay-length blog posts, you can update your feed to kiriska.com/blog/feed.

You can also just add both the blog feed and the sketchblog feed (kiriska.com/sketchblog/feed) separately, in case you wanted to be able to read through them separately, or be able to “mark all as read” on one without touching the other. RSS gives you so much power!

Year of the Rooster by Kiriska
If you only ever want see finished, “serious” work, the feed for you is kiriska.com/portfolio/feed

The Content Comes Home

One of the reasons I started the sketchblog on Tumblr in the first place was to specifically not have it on my site. Aside from sketches and other “lesser” content, it became a repository for all kinds of random, unrelated work, including drabbles/ficlets and song cover recordings.

At the time (2012), the idea that my website should only serve as a clean, “professional portfolio” had overtaken the idea that it was my Internet home base from which all my content could originate.

Now though, I think I’m long overdue to just set up a separate site for the professional portfolio or brand portfolio, or whatever — but this site is my personal site and has been for 20 years. I should have really separated professional work and other work long ago, even if I’m still putting the latter online. Despite some half-hearted attempts at branding over the years, “Kiriska” is really still just my Internet identity. It’s not a brand. Being more cognizant of this separation is probably healthier, too.

Brands need consistency. I could (and probably should) make a brand that’s consistent, for professional and commercial work, but I will never be consistent. The sketchblog has always made that much obvious, and that’s why I didn’t want it on the site when it was masquerading as a portfolio.

It’s here now though.

For now, the “portfolio” of finished work here remains full of monsters and bones and flowers, but the 2012 sketch archives catalogue an Entirely Unreasonable amount of Avengers Loki fanart before pacing through a year each of swim anime, bike anime, and bird dating sim. I am, and have always been, who I am. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

A page of Loki doodles
Post-Endgame nostalgia doodles.

Videos & Stuff That Doesn’t “Fit”

I didn’t have very many video posts on Tumblr because it was such a pain to upload them, but what I did have didn’t make the transfer. For the time being, I don’t intend to re-upload them here, or to mirror the videos I have on other social media.

Most were inking videos and timelapses. Theoretically, I have unlimited storage and bandwidth, but in reality, high load always causes problems. I don’t expect any traffic floods here, but self-hosting video is still a lot of effort I don’t want to expend right now, especially considering video also isn’t a format I particularly enjoy. For now, new videos will continue to go up on social media… I really don’t like the idea of keeping anything “exclusive” to social, but one step at a time, I guess?

There’s a lot of other content I’ve made over the years that I don’t really feel belong on this site, even if this is “home base.”

Audio posts, for instance. These were all song covers, so they’re fandom-related in a sense, but I dunno. It just feels weird to include them here.

All of the ficlets and drabbles on the sketchblog accompanied art, so I’ve left those. Writing unaccompanied by art was never posted to Tumblr anyway. Those projects might be sequestered to a separate archive site at some point, but I think their current repositories are among the least egregious of third-party hosts, so I’m not in a rush.

Non-art photography… There was a brief period when I had a photo gallery on this site with albums for various travel adventures. Revisiting this would require me better organising my offline photo archives, which is certainly something I want to do, but probably not a realistic goal for anytime soon. If I ever get around to it though, this would also likely be a separate website.

When I last remodeled the site, I almost removed the entire Comics section because it didn’t really fit with the rest of the ~pseudo-brand~. Abandoning the pretense of being brand consistency helps, but I do like the idea of all the low-effort doodle comics living primarily on the sketchblog.

Maybe future “finished”/abandoned projects like the Fire Emblem Heroes comics will still get their own separate comic compilation page, but being able to just link the tag for a series of related comics sort of negates the need. I think a page of individual posts preserves context a lot better, too.

Journal comic page
Part of a recent doodle comic. Maybe I’ll compile these properly someday, but in the meantime, this works.

Posting Content in the Future

I’ll still be posting to Tumblr (and other social media), but aside from videos, I’d like everything to be posted to this website first. Social media will acknowledge that things existed first outside of its platform.

One of the easy and enticing things about social media apps is how easy they are to use as far as shoving your content online quickly. For traditional media art in particular, it’s become vogue to just snap an artsy photo and share that instead of a proper scan, so can do everything from your phone.

I suppose in some instances, this makes art theft a little harder if all that’s shared is a photo of the art at a slightly skewed angle, with part of it obscured by a prop. I can still follow that style without the immediacy of posting primarily through apps though.

Mobile apps for WordPress publishing exist, but they mostly suck. I also don’t necessarily want to upload full-res photos from my phone to the site, but auto-compression is hazardous and photo editing on the phone also sucks. (“There’s an app for that” yeah ok, but I have a wholeass desktop computer I can use, too. It’s not like I’m not home most of the time!)

While less convenient, I think it’ll be good for me to go back to properly scanning stuff, or at the very least, clearing photos off my phone on a regular basis and watermarking everything before posting. I used to be really good about cataloguing sketches this way, but fell out of the habit when just posting photos became popular. The instant gratification of social media sure is a thing, huh?

Drawing of a Harpy eagle with the Tombow Fudenosuke and Tombow Dual Brush
Unsurprisingly, photos that I’ve adjusted lighting on and watermarked properly look nicer anyway.

Ownership & Control

To be honest, the easy accessibility of the hefty sketchblog archive feels weirdly vulnerable. All of this stuff has already been online for years and always under a consistent username, so I’ve always had ownership of it that sense. But despite an inarguably wider reach on networked platforms, it feels a lot more personal when it’s on my own site, on my own domain.

I’m surprised every time I learn it, but lots of people actually don’t bother to look at usernames on social sites — they care about and remember the content, but not who posted it. “Who made this art?” “I dunno. I found it on Instagram.” Attribution is to the platform, rather than the creator. And while I’m sure it still happens, this separation is a lot harder when the content isn’t on a networked site.

The sense of ownership is a lot stronger, for better or worse. There are lots of things in the sketchblog archives that are kind of embarrassing. But they prove improvement, probably. And it’s fun to see the meandering path of interests, obsessions, and shenanigans over the years. Seeing where you’ve been can help inform where to go. That’s what archives are good for.

In the end though, if I ever decide I don’t want the stuff online anymore, having the power to take down what I want is important, too. Maybe some of it will float on on social media forever — I can’t do much about that, hey, that stuff just “belongs” to whatever platform it’s on anyway, right? The only things that are really mine are what’s here.

About the author

Kiri is an artist, writer, and (brush) pen enthusiast in Seattle with over 12 years of convention vending experience and an inclination towards verbosity.