Dear Silhouette

I have a new artwork!  I like it most of the time :)

I started with a square piece of matboard scrap and covered it in blues and greens.  I’ve finally got sick of the weird mixing properties of craft paints and am slowly transitioning to student-grade acrylics, so this is Ultramarine Blue mixed with yellow and green craft paints.  I think the yellow had white in it.  Add that to the list of colors to replace.

Spray paint and a Silhouette-d cutout of the mandala I drew during Messiah conference.  I didn’t stick the paper down all that carefully because I wanted it a little messy.  I (mostly) love the way it came out.  I considered stopping there, but the composition is all wrong.  I suppose several squares along these lines could make for cool wall art, though.’

A zillion butterflies, also cut from handpainted paper with my Silhouette.  Happy to post the .studio file if anyone wants it, since the original butterfly was from Open Clip Art, though I played with it a good bit.  I didn’t get as much color variation as I wanted, so I went back over a few of them with more red.

This process also convinced me that I am not and never will be a collager.  During conference Hero was reading Popular Machanics, and I saw a big image in one of the articles done in those yellows and oranges and loved it.  So I told him to save it for me, figuring I’d feed the magazine through the Silhouette.  But as I was doing the painting and prepping, I liked the idea of magazine-ness less and less, and ended up using a painted paper in the same palette instead.  So if I didn’t use collage *then,* I never will.  At least not for the foreseeable future.

Anyway, this process also involved lots of wrestling with the Silhouette software.  And sometimes I get annoyed at Silhouette and sometimes I figure that I’m just not their market and I should be willing to make do.  But it occurred to me during this that I *should* be their market.  I realize there’s not tons and tons of mixed-media artists with digital design skills, but since when has deliberately limiting the usefulness of your software gotten anyone anywhere?

So I did what anyone on the internet does: I wrote an open letter.  Which I will also be sending to them.  It’s a bit vehement, but I’m feeling vehement.  (Anyway, my diplomatic sister once pointed out that if the recipient is perfectly capable of reading your letter and ignoring it, then it’s not too strongly worded.)

Dear Silhouette America,

I have been the owner of a Silhouette SD for a year now, and while I enjoy the results I get with my machine, I must say that you are the only company that I encounter on a regular basis that still functions as if we are in the 90’s.

Your decisions are ridiculous to anyone with an understanding of the last two decades of technology and business. You refuse to embrace open formats such as svg, which is frankly laughable. That policy alone has killed numerous companies and hurt plenty of others. Using open formats, or opening your format to be used by other companies, is the only way to survive in today’s market. (I am aware that I have the option of spending $50 for an “upgrade” that would give me this basic functionality. This is like telling me I need to spend $50 to use the cups I have to drink your soda. Again, ridiculous.) You are probably already being outsold by other companies who are more open to innovation and collaboration.

I also notice that every “update” requires a fresh download and installation of the software. Again, something I haven’t seen from any other company in years. Updates need to be far easier than that. I should not have to visit your website to keep my software up-to-date.

Other than that, your suggested cutting settings are invariably wrong, your z-order (send forward/send backwards) protocol appears to be non-functional, and your node tool (“Edit Points”) is a lamentable mess. I have long since come to the conclusion that your software engineers are completely incompetent, which is why I do the majority of my design work in Inkscape. As hardware is clearly your core competency, I suggest you partner with other companies who can provide functional software. An Inkscape plugin would give your users an excellent design tool for free, thereby giving you a strong edge over your competition and opening your product to an entirely new market.

Your corporate thinking is at least 15 years out of date. I suggest you change that before you are crushed into obsolescence by someone who can think in the 21st century.

And that is that.

By the way, does anyone want the leftover butterflies?  I only used about half of what I made.  Leave a comment saying you want them and I’ll pick someone to send them to.  I guess I should have a deadline – let me know by noon on the 19th.  Call it your reward for wading through a ridiculously long post.

linking to:
Fireflies and Jellybeans
36th Avenue
At the Picket Fence
Stuff and Nonsense
See Vanessa Craft
My Romantic Home
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