Down to the Details

Preston P. Jackson, an artist and long-time friend, expressed frustration recently with computer data loss. We met up at his studio at McGuffey Art Center. Below is our interview regarding his work and computer issues:

Tell me a little about yourself and your work. What is your focus area, preferred medium, and what do you hope to achieve with your work?

My elevator pitch goes along the lines of being, “a traditional portraiture artist and fantasy/sci-fi illustrator,” though I think at this point I can say writer as well. For drawings, I enjoy charcoal, graphite, and ink. For paintings, I start with acrylic and finish with oils. Short-term goals would be finishing the current project for a group show in July at McGuffey Art Center as a part of the Incubator Program. The project will be the epilogue to a graphic novel focusing on characters that I’ve done paintings and drawings of over the years. Long-term, aside from being financially sustainable with art alone, I would like my intellectual properties to eventually be translated into other media that requires collaboration of skilled artisans of all different fields, such as: video games, movies, music videos, and animation. A bonus objective would be to voice act one or some of my characters.

During your workflow, in what ways do you use your computer to assist your design process?

Archiving, rendering, and corralling references for benchmark moments in the creative process, such as final thumbnails, sketches, and final iterations.


What was your setup for backing up documents and media files prior to having computer issues?

General folder names according to the year that was saved either once every few months or longer onto my external hard drive, using the cloud, and Dropbox.

When did you notice your computer was starting to have issues? What measures did you take to try to remedy the situation?

I wouldn’t say that I did until it was too late; kind of like how you ignore a headache or cough that are actually symptoms of the flu or bronchitis, resulting in a visit to the doctor when you feel like death. Some of the signs were slower load times for applications that normally take less time [and] having to force quit applications on the norm; little things that you don’t want to think about are actually the beginning of something that has more gravitas. So as a result, I didn’t take any preventive measures thinking that it was just my computer aging (going on its third year).

What was the result of your efforts? What was the immediate impact and do you anticipate a long-term impact on your work?

So when my computer couldn’t get past the reboot screen, I did all that I could research on the internet (with my iPod) that didn’t require a third party since my Apple care protection had long since expired. The troubleshooting tips I tried were resetting my SES, P-Ram, and of course, turning the computer on and off again. Having done this over the course of 24 hours, I then, due to my impatience, decided to reinstall my OS, which made for a painful re-installment of several generations of applications and software updates starting in ’08. While this solved circumventing the loading screen blockade, I lost about a month or so of files related to my work and business operations; they will be missed should the specialist(s) I’ve been trying to solicit not be able to recover them. The long-term impact is the time lost in getting to the next stage of my artistic ambitions, as well as having to say no to things that I would otherwise say yes to in my private and professional life. So the true impact is hard to tell at this point.

How did this event change your behavior? And what measures are you taking to prevent a similar event in the future?

While I don’t know if it’s going to be a permanent change, updating weekly and for the future; I’m going to invest in larger back-up subscriptions and/or a new external-hard drive. (It’s almost 10 years old!) Printing out pages more regularly as this practice actually helped saved some of my writings for when I work outside the studio/home.


Thank you for stopping by today. Take a moment to visit Preston’s website at Preston Jackson Fine Art.

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