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Tapping Into Punished Props With Bill And Britt Doran

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Bill and Britt Doran – From a workshop in Seattle to conventions around the world, Bill Doran has showcased and taught millions how to create props from materials that can be found in a hardware store. Bill and Brittany Doran are doing what some can only dream of with their company Punished Props. As a positive voice in the comic and video game industry, they continue to bring people together through the power of creativity.

Where it all began…

Bill’s love for creating props began in 2009 at PAX West, exposing himself to his first taste of cosplay, where fans dress up as their favorite fictional characters. He has an art background and has worked several jobs bartending, teaching, and held a position at Microsoft for some time. In 2012, he quit and started his own company, which we know as Punished Props today. Brittany is highly experienced in 3D modeling and animation, and she joined Bill full-time in 2015. Together, their perseverance and commitment to prop making has taken them down a road to success.

Bill Britt Doran Punished Props

Giving back

From playing World of Warcraft in a college dorm room to becoming a successful entrepreneur, Bill is inspiring and empowering people to pursue their passion. Trading a position at an established company for EVA foam and filming tutorials was the best decision. Creating beautiful replicas is rewarding, however learning business was the biggest obstacle Bill had to overcome. What started as a commission based company quickly changed gears to a fabrication tutorial business because of the difference in body measurements per person and the large distance between him and his clients. By devoting more time to instructional content, he became a pillar in the cosplay community.

A growing success

With an audience demanding to see things built on screen, Punished Props became a key resource for costume creators. Their YouTube has over 100k loyal subscribers eagerly awaiting videos on how he creates props like the Skyrim helmet, Han Solo blaster, and a 3D printed batarang. They built up momentum over the years and are committed to their fans and schedule. The comments section is flooded with positivity, inspiring them to create a new video every week. Hungry and curious, fans rush to their Twitch channel, watching his tutorials live from their computer screens every Monday.

It is no surprise that requests to build specific items are sent their way on a daily basis. Although Bill cannot create everything, he encourages his viewers to try it themselves. His interactions with fans show extraordinary dedication to his craft and relationships built over the years. When approached with a request, his usual response is, “I can show you how to make it.” With two books under his belt, Bill has established credibility in the prop making scene. Unlike many in creative industries, Punished Props has become allies with other prop makers such as Volpin Props, Kamui Cosplay, and WM Armory. The support from fans and friends enabled Punished Props to grow into what it is today.

Bill Britt Doran Punished Props

Where can you find them Bill and Brittany?

If you want to meet Punished Props in person, look out for them at some of their favorite conventions. Catch Bill and Brittany at BlizzCon in November, or if you’re on the East Coast, Dragoncon, the largest multi-media pop culture convention in the country. Bill was recently invited to TwitchCon 2016, where he was a judge for the costume contest. Bill and Brittany will be wearing their latest work at any of the events they attend. Be amazed by the precision and accuracy in the details of each piece. If you are unable to make it, follow their progress on their Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Not only will you see meticulously crafted tutorials, but also their interaction with various other prop makers like Volpin Props for this space gun on Kickstarter.

Bill hopes to continue inspiring the community to create things that would otherwise only exist virtually. The couple hopes to continue doing what they love but on a bigger scale in the near future. Growing fast, they’ll soon need a larger studio for building props and filming content for their channels. Continuing to inspire and empower others, Punished Props forges a path for prop makers, cosplayers, and gamers around the world.

Jie writes about influencers and startups in various industries. She is a designer turned techie, and when she is not writing, you can find her in her workshop working on her next big project.

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“I’m Fat Let’s Party” Guy: Life as a Celebrity Meme

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The internet has done a lot to disrupt culture.  Once upon a time, styles, techniques, communities and information were only as transmutable as cable TV and word of mouth.  When compared to the rate of change we see today, the evolution of content has moved from a slow creep to nearing light speed.  Ten years ago the lifetime of any trend in humor could last months, and before that years.  These days, you see a popular meme “break the internet” but one week later a new one is there to take it’s place.

Imagine if Charlie Chaplin had risen to fame in this day and age through the vehicle of The Meme.  Would he still be as iconic?  As immortal?

I spoke with Steven Lee… also known as “I’m Fat Let’s Party” Guy.  Steven’s meme has been sported on the front page of reddit twice and has garnered over 400k in likes and shares on social media within the first hours of being posted.  As it happens, Steven and I actually went to the same schools growing up.  However I am jealous because I cannot say that I grew up to be a world-class meme.  I got the chance to speak with him about Memeology.  Here’s what he had to say:

1.  So let’s hear about this party…  

The picture was taken in 2011, I was with my friend Dave Leek. We went to Philadelphia at Drexel Factory for a concert. The head Dj was Alesso. When we got there I found out my friend Dj Dubsef was opening so we were allowed in early. When the concert started, since we got in early we got front row, right in the middle. It was crazy we were just having a blast and I saw the photographer “ATOTHE” and I just made that pose and everyone went along with it. It was great the high from just being at the concert and all the fun I was having was crazy mainly because I was completely sober. We didn’t drink at all it was just the energy that gave me like a high feeling. Definitely an amazing feeling.

2.  Now let’s hear about this shirt…

The shirt I got back in 2010 at Comic Con NY. It was at a booth called “Seibei”. They were super nice. After I became the meme I sent them an email about it. They thanked me and I told them that I ordered another shirt from them.  They said they were going to throw in some more for me. It was amazing because I ordered two shirt but when the package came they gave me three more shirts two of them were different color versions of the “I’m Fat, Let’s Party” shirt. One in black with yellow letters and one in sky blue with yellow letters too. Another note about Seibei is that when I went to Magfest 2015 I got to meet the creator of the shirt there. He was working his friend’s booth there and I haven’t officially met him before so it was great. Once he saw me he told some customer “I’m sorry but I need to hug this man really quick.” He is an amazing man, his name is David by the way. In short, I have three different colors of the shirt.

3.  Who first memed this?  Tell me about the moment you realized it went viral.

So going back to the Photographer “ATOTHE” he posted the original photo on his Facebook page. Then someone who I still don’t know posted it to “reddit” and it blew up from there. It’s funny I never heard of reddit before that. I saw the post after 14 hours of it being posted and it already had over 400,000  reblogs and likes. It was weird because in the comments some people knew who I was, telling them I lived in NJ and that I went to high school. Some said that I quote “omgz he snapchats me everyday”. The worst part of it though was the comments about body confidence saying that I have a mental problem about my body. Then there were other people arguing about it. It was pretty nuts. Also in the comments were people who started to photoshop me into a ton of different memes.  Basically the reason it became a big deal was because it made the front page of reddit and apparently posts only get the front page when it’s discussed and reblogged a ton.

4.  How old is this meme now?  How often do you see it reappear? 

It’s about 5 or 6 Years old now. It has been reappearing all the time. It’s been on the front page of reddit now about 5 times and when it gets posted the meme evolves, which is cool.

5.  What has been the most surprising side effect of being a “meme guy” so far?

The most surprising part of being “that guy” is that people from all over the world knows the meme and some of them actually know who I am due to mutual friends. The funniest/weirdest time I got recognized was when I was working as a cashier for FiveBelow. These two kids age probably around 12 and 10. They made a comment while I was ringing them up. It was “oh must be a party over here”. I was confused at first but then I looked at them and I asked are you referring to the meme. Their faces lit up in excitement when I caught on. What made it weird is that their father was confused and asked what are you guys talking about. My response was that they saw a funny picture of me and he gave me the most confusing look ever. It was funny and weird lolz.

6.  What are your thoughts on meme culture and memes as a vehicle for humor?  What’s your favorite meme?  

The meme culture is huge, when it first started it usually was the same pictures with new phrases on them. Now new memes come out every other week. The convention I went to had a huge meme culture following in it. There were people who cosplay a meme that just got popular only a week ago. It’s crazy but I also believe sometimes people make memes and take it to a new level. Now memes are videos too. They went from pictures to videos… now that’s huge step. But again some of the memes are just too much for me and are part of that I wanna say is stupid humor like doing the stupidest things on purpose.

My favorite meme of all time?  Arthur Fist.

7.  What do you like most about your meme?  What do you like least? 

What I like most about my meme is that I met people who told me that the meme gave them the courage to go out and do things and that made me feel better about themselves. Even though I just was at a party having fun. The thing I like least about it is that some people think that I’m someone who just parties all the time and that makes them think I’m not someone who actually has a head on their shoulders. It sucks but I usually just ignore those guys because everyone has, haters am I right?
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Rachel Smith of The Crafted Life, The Unicorn of DIY

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The Crafted Life Rachel Mae Smith
Rachel Mae Smith of The Crafted Life

Rachel Smith of The Crafted Life, The Unicorn of DIY. Creativity is a beautiful thing, some may even say everyone can be creative if given the opportunity. The Crafted Life was created by Rachel Mae Smith based off of that belief. Like her blog, Rachel is colorful and fun. Her bright pink hair and big smile instantly grabs the attention of everyone around her. Her take on DIY is to make it fun and appealing without taking too much time and money.

The Crafted Life

Rachel Smith is based in the city of Philadelphia, Rachel is on a mission to spread the fun of crafting through social media and blogging. Five years ago, she worked 70 – 80 hours per week, but craved for something more. She needed a creative outlet. That was when The Crafted Life was born. She started the blog while still working at her full-time job, with a goal of doing one DIY per week and documenting the process.

Today, you can find Rachel Smith’s work everywhere, from Pinterest to Facebook, and her favorite – Instagram. Her feed is filled with beautiful splashes of color with her cheery personality shining through. Social media has allowed her to meet people that she would not have met otherwise. She loves her work, even with the struggles that come with it. “It’s all consuming, and it’s hard to be curated and live a personal life at the same time. It’s a bit of a trade off, but worth it in the end.” No matter the difficulties, Rachel has found a work/life balance that is effective, and she wouldn’t trade it for the world.

Aside from teaching DIY, photography is another passion that burns deep. Her pictures are meticulously created to showcase the brand aesthetic that is The Crafted Life. She uses Lightroom for photo editing and PicMonkey for quick collages. Rachel was able to combine her talents, and with the help of social media, was given the opportunity to quit her previous job and work on her blog full-time. She uses all types of materials, from rhinestones to contact paper. Her creativity knows no bounds, as you can see from this vase decorated using temporary tattoos.

Rachel Smith’s audience is especially important to her. Every post is based on quality with each subscriber in mind. “It’s really about a gut check. If I don’t feel good about a post or a project outcome, I won’t hit publish. More so than ever with all the content that’s on the Internet, it’s about quality over quantity.” Rachel encourages everyone to try DIY. If you are a beginner, she suggests starting with an easy project that only requires a few tools and takes around 10 minutes to complete. Practice allows for more difficult projects in the future. Some of Rachel’s personal favorites include this table makeover, these earrings that she wears on a daily basis, and shooting these DIY temporary tattoos.

The Crafted Life

Rachel’s schedule is filled with exciting adventures every day. “There is usually always a photoshoot happening, either for the blog or for Instagram, plus responding to emails, editing photos, sourcing props and materials, reading contracts, planning editorial content, pitching brands, writing actual posts, etc.” Rachel has expanded her brand to merchandise like the Shut Up Sassy Lip Enamel Flair Pin that you can purchase on Etsy. She loves her city and the people in Philadelphia and has no plans on leaving anytime soon. The energy is amazing and pretzels are fifty cents! For now, Philly is her home, and the city is very lucky to have her.

What makes The Crafted Life different from other DIY blogs is the focus on the audience and the abilities within each person to create something amazing. The aesthetic of her social media pages is beautiful, filled with bright colors and gorgeous photography. Her instructions are very clear and written in a language that is disarming. Rachel understands her community and speaks to them as friends through the Internet. She took DIY to different platforms, teaching people around the world about the joys of crafting. Her encouragement helps build happiness around her, letting you know that there is a friend out there rooting for you.

 

 

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Quartz Bottle: The Water Bottle That Cleans Itself

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Maybe you’ve finally started getting serious about cutting down on soda and coffee and drinking more water. You may have taken some swigs from a reusable container and wrinkled your nose in distaste afterward. That’s because cleaning water bottles can be challenging — and it’s hard to do it as thoroughly as necessary. Who has time for cleaning tablets and specially designed brushes, anyway? The inconvenient necessity of keeping your water bottle clean is one of the main concepts behind the Quartz Bottle. How does it work and why should you put one on your must-buy list as soon as possible? Keep reading to find out.

quartz bottle

A Light Inside the Cap Cleans the Water for You

Sometimes, the most helpful components of an innovative product aren’t the largest or most visible ones. The Quartz water bottle has a patented UV-C light inside the cap. You might not immediately notice it due to the product’s sleek design, but it’s arguably one of the hardest-working parts of the container.

The light is a purifier that neutralizes up to 99.9999 percent of germs in only a minute. You can also choose between manual purification and a cleansing process that happens automatically every four hours. That latter option is especially helpful on days when you’re trying to balance a schedule of yoga practice, taking your toddler to daycare, meeting your business partner over coffee and more — all while knowing you can’t spare a thought for keeping your water clean.

The Co-Founder Has a Long-Term, All-Encompassing Mindset

While reading about the Quartz Bottle, you’ll find that many of the selling points focus on making your life easier. By using the product, you’ll enjoy constant access to water that tastes great and never have to deal with downsides like smelly bottles or cumbersome cleaning techniques again.

However, Justin Wang, a co-founder of the company that manufacturers the Quartz, had an Earth-minded view when engineering the item, too. While writing a post about the bottle, he pointed out that people collectively dump one million plastic containers into landfills each minute.

Also, if you like to consciously buy things that have large impacts by promoting the greater good, the Quartz is for you. The creators decided that 1 percent of every purchase gets donated to Charity:Water. The organization works to provide people around the world with improved access to safe hydration.

Design Scrutiny During Development

In another interview, Wang confessed having a very relatable problem. He successfully cut down on using disposable water bottles but still found himself reaching for one when another type of purified water wasn’t available or the reusable bottle he had been using became too gross to use.

Wang spoke to friends and found their experiences echoed his own. The Quartz water bottle was born when Wang decided to tackle the issues that made him use disposable containers despite better intentions.

However, he and the rest of the design team understood it was necessary to poll people in the target market. Only then would they find out about the factors that could turn them into Quartz devotees versus individuals who try the bottle once and decide they don’t like it. Some could fail to even get that far by coming to the conclusion there’s no need to switch to another water storage product because the ones they own are good enough.

First, Wang toted a 3-D-printed prototype of the Quartz for weeks and gradually tweaked it. While pretending to drink from it to mimic an actual user experience, he got weird looks but knew the process was necessary.

Next, members of the design team talked to hundreds of people and asked them about characteristics they’d identified that could cause problems. The potential issues ranged from a too-wide opening on the top of the bottle to a cap that might not twist easily enough. After taking these issues into account, the designers had a product they felt met user needs and made them feel proud.

quartz bottle

A Kickstarter Success Story Based on User Needs

If the story behind the Quartz Bottle fascinates you, you’re not alone. One of the most impressive milestones in the product’s history is how it quickly achieved funding through Kickstarter. In only a day, it earned 600 percent of the total amount necessary to bring the project to life.

Most of the Kickstarter content speaks to the clearly defined needs users have. It mentions the double-insulated construction of each bottle that keeps water cold for 24 hours or maintains its warmth for half that amount. Kickstarter page viewers also got details about how their decision to buy a Quartz bottle could save them up to $1,000 per year that they’d ordinarily spend on bottled water.

Then, what about people who felt uncertain about whether they’d remember to charge their Quartz bottles to make them keep working? Since each charge lasts up to two months, they only have to make reminders for themselves six times a year. Quartz bottles are compatible with USB outlets, too, so it’s easy to power up the bottle while you’re embarked on a road trip or otherwise away from home.

Speaking of taking your Quartz bottle on the go, maybe you’re a backcountry hiker or someone who otherwise needs to exercise special precautions before consuming water. If so, no worries! The Quartz has an adventure mode that increases the purification power for your peace of mind.

All these features and others were part of the Kickstarter pitch, so it’s not hard to see why the project gained momentum so quickly. Not surprisingly, then, many customers (12,758 backers, to be exact!) turned their desires into pledges.

How to Purchase a Quartz Bottle

You might think such a high-tech water bottle would be a substantial investment. However, you can get yours for only $79 by pre-ordering it on Indiegogo (Another site that helped the product secure more backers).

Choose from several pleasing colors to pick one that suits your personality or intended use. Pre-ordering requires being patient until June 2018 to get your Quartz Bottle, but you know what they say about good things coming to people who wait.

Regardless of your current opinions about conventional water bottles, Quartz might manage to change them. Justin Wang and his fellow designers worked hard to create a product that readily eliminated consumer annoyances.

This dedication paid off with successful crowdfunding attempts — plus a significant amount of positive press from news outlets and early reviewers.

In several months, you might realize the Quartz Bottle makes you feel genuinely excited about drinking water and not polluting the planet while you’re at it.

 

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