Special Guest Post: Kerry Hishon!!!! Challenge Accepted!!!!!!

50 Art Challenges To Try This Winter

 50-art-challenges-to-try-this-winter

Two years ago I wrote a post here on the TLTDAY blog called 10 Ways to Reinvigorate Your Creativity. Well, it’s January again, and it’s pretty darn cold here in Ontario (as always!). I don’t know about you, but it makes me want to hibernate. But don’t give in to temptation! Shake off the “winter blahs” and push yourself outside of your comfort zone. You need to CREATE! The world needs your art! Thus… I bring to you… Art Challenges!

Art Challenges are little prompts to get your creative juices flowing and make you smile. Many are silly. Many are challenging. All are fun! And most of them won’t cost a thing, other than your time and brainpower.

Some of the prompts will say “create a piece of art…” which doesn’t have to be limited to visual art. These challenges are not to be taking WITH MUCH SERIOSITY. Use them as a starting point. Bend or break the rules. Use them in any kind of art medium, style or form you wish – the sky is the limit! Make the challenges your own!

Here are 50 Art Challenges to get you started! Happy creating!

  1. Embrace your foodie side and create or consume some culinary art! Make or find some gorgeous nibbles, and share them with friends.
  2. Take a photo of something you think is beautiful.
  3. Try making some blackout poetry! (Check out @cassyfry for inspiration!)
  4. Buy a pack of markers or crayons and having fun colouring.
  5. Affix glitter to something.
  6. Get some sidewalk chalk and draw a picture someplace unusual.
  7. Write a story starting with “It was a dark and stormy night!”
  8. Go to a thrift store and create a costume for your alter ego (bonus points if you spend less than $10!).
  9. Take a photo a day and create a blog, Tumblr or Instagram to show off your photos.
  10. Make a cover of your favourite song.
  11. Sign up for a new class – printmaking, trapeze, photography, ukulele, sketching, Highland dancing… the sky’s the limit!
  12. Try your hand at sewing something – a costume piece, a pillow, doll clothes, a puppet…
  13. Create a dance piece using “opposite” music. Try ballet dancing to Marilyn Manson, or hip-hop to Beethoven, or lyrical to the Ramones.
  14. Create a comic strip of your day.
  15. Make a ‘zine devoted to your favourite form of art.
  16. Try reading or writing different kinds of poetry – acrostic, haiku, tanka, limerick, couplet, sonnet…
  17. Create a decorative table setting using items from around your house.
  18. De-clutter 5 items from your home, right now (you can’t create if you are surrounded by crap).
  19. Draw a picture with your non-dominant hand.
  20. Have a friend make a scribble on a paper, and turn it into a drawing or design.
  21. Incorporate the four elements into a piece (earth, air, fire, water).
  22. Create a piece based on a single colour.
  23. Finish your current work in progress.
  24. Create a piece of art featuring a candle.
  25. Create a new piece, and give it away.
  26. Create a new way of wearing your hair or makeup.
  27. Create a piece of digital art, or figure out a way to digitize an “analogue” art.
  28. Free write for 15 minutes.
  29. Design a coat of arms that represents you and your artistic endeavours.
  30. Create a postcard, write a note and mail it to a friend. (Check out @leftysmudges for inspiration!)
  31. Go to com and purchase a piece you’ve been admiring.
  32. Create something with glitter.
  33. Colour an entire page. Leave no part uncoloured.
  34. Invent & design your own board game or card game. Share it with others.
  35. Get your mixologist on and create a new, delicious, colourful drink.
  36. Decorate cookies or cake with icing and candy.
  37. Make a list of all the artistic venues you’d like to explore (Tap dancing! Calligraphy! Flute! Making YouTube videos! Burlesque! Stage combat!). Now figure out a way to take a baby step in the direction of exploring that venue.
  38. Go to a museum. Find a piece that speaks to you. Sketch it.
  39. Create a piece of art using office supplies (staples, tape, post-it notes, paperclips…).
  40. Go to a dollar store and create a piece of art using supplies that equal to $5 or less.
  41. Write a story that is only one page long.
  42. Write a story that is only one paragraph long.
  43. Write a story that is only one sentence long.
  44. Write a story using only dialogue.
  45. Turn a story you’ve written into a script for stage or screen.
  46. Write a stage adaptation of your favourite television show or film.
  47. Write a musical adaptation of a favourite play or book.
  48. Create your own “adult colouring book.”
  49. Grab a friend and dance wildly. If there’s no music playing, create your own.
  50. Come up with a list of 50 more Art Challenges.

 

We would love to see what you create. Share your creations on Instagram or Twitter with the hashtag #artchallenge so we can be inspired by you!

 

Photo Credit: Death to the Stock Photo

 

Kerry Hishon is part of the TLTDAY podcast team. She’s a director, actor, writer, and stage combatant. Check out her blog at www.kerryhishon.com.

Podcast #18 with Special Guests The Lovers the Dreamers and You!

Hey everyone!

Well it’s been awhile so we thought we should get the old gang together (the old gang being Ceris, Matt, Kerry and Luke) and update all you lovely people on where we’ve been, what we’ve been doing and where we’re going.

Recorded right after New Years – it felt like to perfect time to do that, so we did!  This is the first of a few we recorded so expect more in the coming weeks!

Huzzah!

Play

Inspired by others… Here’s my Year in Review (2015)

Inspired by my friend and fellow blogger/podcaster, Kerry Hishon – I’m going to try my hand at a review of my year. Here’s the link to her exceptional review: http://kerryhishon.com/2015/12/31/2015-the-year-in-review/

 

January:

The year began slowly as I was recovering from my production of Henry V at my high school. I was also suffering from four months of vertigo symptoms with no idea of the cause or the cure. January is always busy at school since it is the end of the semester and exams and final projects take up a great deal of time and effort. A special social event was attending Art Fidler’s official retirement party from Original Kids. It was a great evening to celebrate a really great guy.

January is also where Kiss a Ginger Day lives…. I recall that no one kissed me that day. Goal established for 2016!

Kiss a Ginger Day!

Kiss a Ginger Day!

February

This month really took off with activities. Brock was already busy with the combat for a friends production of Macbeth and I began rehearsals for Freckleface Strawberry with Original Kids. By the end of the month we’d already closed Macbeth – it was a great show!!!! I also experienced an Escape room with some of the other teachers from my school and Brock and I were invited to join the OKTC trip to NYC for March Break!

Delightful Show!

Delightful Show!

March

Brock and I created the violence for a pretty cool production of Miracle Worker – essentially an extended food fight scene – very, very cool. And then we were off to NYC! It’s always a great trip and this was the first time for Brock to join with OKTC. We saw tons, had a nice relaxing time and managed to average our ticket prices at $50/show.

NYC Trip - March 2015

NYC Trip – March 2015

April

Come April we were waiting for spring to arrive, Brock was helping with a production of West Side Story and yet another Peter Pan! We managed to go together to stage the final battle for Peter Pan – it is always a big deal, but we almost have it down to a science. We can stage it in about 90 minutes with a cooperative and attentive crew of actors! At the end of the month, I rejoined my buddy Kerry to work on another production called The Big Bad Musical – even though my production of Strawberry was still in rehearsal. Gotta love it when things overlap!

May

May saw us renewing our Pyrotechnician licences, Freckleface Strawberry hit the boards – and was a HUGE hit, especially since it was a story that people had not heard of before our production and our support of Peter Pan and West Side Story was completed. May is a busy month for shows, that’s for sure. I also had my first production meeting for She Loves Me – a show I’m currently choreographing that will see the audience in February of 2016.

She Loves Me - Coming in February!

She Loves Me – Coming in February!

June

June FLEW by with the OKTC grad night, a trip to the SHAW Festival with my Mum, the London Fringe Festival and the end of school with exams and projects. All the while, I was writing a script for a show we’d be rehearsing and performing in New York in July! not to mention finding the costumes and props we’d need for the show.

July

July was INCREDIBLE! We flew to New York, stayed in a very convenient and comfortable hotel, saw the hilarious production of Drunk Shakespeare and began rehearsals for our Doctor Who themed combat show with Art of Combat. It’s an intense week of rehearsals and classes that ends in two performances by the end of the week. I was pretty proud of the script I created to make a show out of the workshop scenes and also proud that I managed to memorize my part!

Doctor/Donna in NYC!

Doctor/Donna in NYC!

We flew home Sunday evening and by Tuesday afternoon I was traveling again! This time with my Mum to Great Britain! We had the most amazing trip seeing relatives and checking out all the places Mum used to go to when she lived there. We even took a quick day trip to London to see TWO shows. One glorious musical and a Shakespeare at The Globe! Bucket list items!

The Globe Theatre - Bucket List!

The Globe Theatre – Bucket List!

August

After returning from Britain, I had a week at home, to sleep and do laundry before I was on the road again. This time, I was headed to Connecticut to attend the Puppeteers of America Festival. This is a week long festival of workshops, performances and celebrating the art of puppetry. 2015 was my second time attending the Festival and at first I felt a little disappointed that it wasn’t the same as my first Festival, but before I made it half-way through the week, I couldn’t possibly imagine not attending the next one in 2017.

Leslie, Lolly and Me at the PofA

Leslie, Lolly and Me at the PofA

The end of the summer wrapped up with relaxation, yard work, meet ups with teacher friends and a production meeting for The Trials of Robin Hood! Oh, and I finally had laser surgery to correct my vision. Should have done it ten years ago!

September

By comparison, September was a pretty quiet month. Sure, school started up again, but the only other projects on the go at the time were auditions for She Loves Me and The Trials of Robin Hood. Both of these were incredibly fun although extremely different. At the time, I had no idea what was to come with these two great shows. Who knew?

October

October was a month of work. Rehearsals, rehearsals and more rehearsals. Also a few eye check ups to ensure that everything was progressing as it should. Which it was.

We also presented a workshop at the Annual CODE Conference – a special weekend for teachers of Drama and Dance. We raced in, did our workshop, said hi to a few friends, and then raced home. So we’d be back for rehearsals. Whew.

November

November was pretty similar to October with a bunch of rehearsals and promotions for the shows. We participated in the Santa Claus Parade with a bunch of Merry Men and Women – that was a great time! And Brock was pretty busy getting different props ready for a variety of shows. By the end of the month we were into our tech weekend for Robin Hood. It surprised us in the sense of how quickly it arrived, but we were ready for it. Many of the cast were doubtful going in to the weekend, but I could tell that we were right on track. All they needed was the audience.

Robin wins with a spoon!

Robin’s Lusty Stunts!

 

December

And it arrived! The Trials of Robin Hood opened on December 4th and was a big hit. It received four glowing reviews during the run (deservedly so, if I do say so myself) and it consumed the month for me. It ran for three weekends which is a longer run for our local theatre scene, but part of me wishes we were still doing it.

We became a really tight crew during the process and even went to play Archery Tag together a couple of times. There were many hugs and even tears when folks were saying goodbye on the final night. I’m very proud of the feelings that were generated by this show, for the audience AND for the cast and crew.

We all line up to shoot Brock!

We all line up to shoot Brock!

Tonight, I’m celebrating my wedding anniversary by shooting arrows at my husband. We are returning to Archery Tag for an unusual NYE celebration.

And Brock takes the hit - and catches it!!!

And Brock takes the hit – and catches it!!!

Things that happen DURING the show…

Lots can happen during rehearsals and even more can happen during the run of a show.  I’ve had to go on for ill performers.  I’ve had a performer have kidney stones – he still went onstage – it was thrilling (NOT). I’ve watched my actors perform in the dark due to power outage (both thrilling and terrifying).  These are extreme examples of things that can happen… but what you really need to be ready for is what the show does to you as you watch it take on a life all its own.

Directing a show is very challenging, fun and rewarding. It is cathartic and it is all encompassing. Gene Kelly used to get asked who was his favourite dance partner and he would answer Jerry the Mouse from Tom and Jerry. There was no way he was going to pick one person out of all the beautiful and talented people he’d performed with over the years. When he received his Lifetime Achievement Award, he admitted that you had to be a little bit in love with each girl in each movie in order to make it work. I think it is also true when directing a play… on a larger scale.

I can muster up some feelings for even the worst actor for a few moments on the stage, but if I’m going to direct something, I need to dig into the script and fall in love with many aspects of it – the humour, the dialogue, the characters, the locations – anything and everything to get me involved with bringing it to life. There are times, of course, when I’ve been assigned a show that hasn’t had as much draw for me as other productions, but whenever possible I really do dig into the material to find reasons for loving a show. And then I cultivate that feeling in the attempt to give it all I possibly can.

So then, when friends ask me, “What’s your favourite show?” How can I possibly answer that? I’ve found something to admire in each production and trying to rank them or decide “who” is the best is really an impossible quest. Rather, I can describe how they each made me feel. For example: The Three Musketeers was a fine French dinner with wine and good friends, Follies was a beautiful crystal necklace, Oklahoma! was a rollicking party and The Trials of Robin Hood was a big bear hug.

During my most recent show, The Trials of Robin Hood, I had all of these questions asked of me, and I had all of these musings. There were a few actors in this show who had worked with me before and I was so pleased to have them around again. There were several actors I’d never met prior to this production and I’m now very pleased to call them friends. What you never can expect is how a show will change you during the run. Watching Oklahoma! was like watching something someone else had created – I had to remind myself that it was my work on that stage. Watching, (and performing in) Robin Hood made me feel closer to a show than I had felt in a long, long time.

After the show is over, and cleaned up and you’ve had a little time to reflect, you can start to see how you may have been changed by the experience. I’m still not sure for this last one, but it was different. They all are – there’s no way to pick a favourite. So don’t try…. and don’t ask me.

And STILL more things that will happen at rehearsal…

The score won’t match…

When doing a MUSICAL…. or even a Play with Music… I promise you that whatever they have said in the script or written in the score – IF there IS a score… will not match any of the following…

a) the CD

b) the current script

c) the director’s vision

e) all of the above

Add to that… the cd won’t match…anything. Frequently it is a concept CD and that means it is very, VERY different from the production you are doing. The production that got altered before Broadway, before the Tour, after the Tour and before the release to amateur companies. It will be extremely different. Don’t count on it – in fact… the best advice is don’t use it. At best it is a basic, simple reference. Move on.

The script will NOT make sense… why would it? I mean, you paid for it, so it should… but believe me, it won’t. There will be typos for sure, but then there will also be ridiculous stage directions – that can only be done on MASSIVE Broadway budgets – and even then they are probably stupid stage directions, so Ignore them and do your own thing. Aside from that… there will be lines attributed to the wrong character or a missing character or someone you didn’t know was in the show… (seriously… ALL of these have happened in shows for which I have paid royalties to perform “their script word for word”) There may EVEN be stage directions that appear as dialogue… yup.

$h!t will be missing… Like a song you expected… or a character in the description list will be missing from the show… or an ENTIRE scene.. yup, once a script went from scene 7 to 9. We all wondered “What happened in Scene 8?”

Here’s the thing…. you roll with the punches, you do what is necessary to create your vision, you IGNORE the stage directions – and if possible, get your cast to ignore them as well and you make the best show you can. Even if it means you have to tweak a few things. Tweak away and get that show done!

 

Even more things that will happen in rehearsal….

So… You are into rehearsal and things seem to be going well – or are they?

Sometimes this happens… you think everyone’s happy, but they aren’t. And they aren’t telling you. There can be lots of reasons for this, and there’s actually no point going into all those reasons, cause you’ll never list them all, but the point is – you need to have your Spidey-Sense tingling so that you are aware if there are disgruntled members of your cast/crew. You might not be able to do anything about it – but awareness is the key.

Illness can do it. If they feel sick, or tired or worn out or under-appreciated, (or any other version of illness that you can imagine), that can affect their mood and contribution to the project. Remember, any show should be uplifting, not a drag, no matter whether it is professional or amateur/volunteer. If someone is coming to the process and for whatever reason, they’d rather not be there, that will affect the positive atmosphere. Be ready to question it, and then, be ready to do something to affect change. That can be hard part. But, believe me, it’s worth it!

Lots of things can contribute to the atmosphere, and while it may seem like a big deal, you do need to pay attention to, and manage, the atmosphere. Plan an outing, arrange a potluck, ask people out for drinks or bring in some snacks. Even the smallest thing can make a really big difference, so do the little stuff, cause it can help you in the long run.

drinks

Things that will happen during the rehearsal process…

When you start a show, you have happy thoughts about the final product… how the show will be a HUGE hit, the tickets will be selling like hotcakes, (why do hotcakes sell so fast anyway?), and the cast and crew will be ready to go on tour for the rest of their lives.

But here’s the thing… stuff happens. It always does.

Some of it you can deal with, but much of it you cannot. You just have to be ready for it because “it” will happen. So, what do you do?

Well, first off… you need to know what might happen, so here’s a few ideas of what you can expect.

First of all… the cast you begin with is likely not going to be the cast who will finish. Someone will get sick, get married, be transferred, get a new job, get another show, move out of town, or just be disgruntled with the production and leave. It will happen. There is probably no way to be prepared for it, but you need to know that it will happen and often with the actor that you don’t expect to lose. Audition, choose the best, treat them well and cross your fingers that nothing happens in their life to mess up the process. But be ready – cause it will.

Secondly… people will get sick. They will have conflicts with the schedule – sometimes many more than you ever thought possible – or they’ll have something big happen in their life and it will mess up your schedule. Just be ready – that’s all you can do. It isn’t their fault. They didn’t make this happen. They’d probably rather be at rehearsal than dealing with pneumonia or going to a funeral or visiting emergency. Stay calm and trust the theatre gods that they are on your side.

Third… you are going to get tired. No matter your plan, no matter how well you manage the other parts of your life – YOU – the stage manager, the director – whatever you are, are completely human and susceptible to fatigue. It will happen. Be good to yourself and take the time you need to recover because you are useless to the show if you get sick or can’t function.

That’s the big deal, right? Staying on top of things. So be ready. Get yourself psyched so that you are ready for the challenges of the process – cause it is totally worth it.

I promise.

Ghostlight

How to recover from the audition… Cause you have to bounce back.

When you’ve made it through the auditions, the callbacks, perhaps another round of callbacks and maybe a surprise where they ask you to read something you weren’t expecting… you then have to reflect on the process – and you will, because you won’t be able to stop thinking about it. (You’re thinking about it now, aren’t you?)

First of all, you need to feel proud of what you accomplished, no matter the outcome. Maybe you’ve been successful and got the “part of your dreams”, or maybe you got offered a different role, or perhaps you are still waiting to hear, (that’s the worst), or the final option… we know what that one is, of course. Regardless, you’ve got to congratulate yourself. I mean it. Do it now. Give yourself a pat on the back, the audition process is one of the most difficult things you can do and you need to recognize that you did something many people never do. So, go ahead, I’ll wait.

Good. Do that for yourself regularly – because when you audition, you get a show, (or not) and then, eventually, the show is over, so you know what? You audition again. So you have to put yourself through that again. You will get better at it, each time – it all takes practice. Keep it up, keep working on the audition process and remember to congratulate yourself every time you manage to make it through another audition. Find something good in the process or you won’t keep going. And that’s the most important thing, to keep going.

celebrating_toast

Auditions: The Callback – getting ready on both sides of the table…

So, you’ve made it through all the auditions and now you have to prepare for the callbacks… What the heck, you say? More auditions – yes… sorry, more auditions.

So, if you are behind the table, what do you ask them to do? What do have prepared for them? What are you looking for from these talented people? Do you have a list prepared? Are you ready to make the tough decisions? Do you even need to have the callbacks? And if you decide that you do, can you ensure that the process is rewarding for your actors and everyone else involved? Cause it isn’t an easy time, so at least make it fun!

FIRST – be sure you have some material ready from the show (this goes back to making sure you read the script, right?), material that is challenging, fun and will show you what you need to see to make your decisions.

SECOND – have that material prepared and ready to share with your people. Is it digital? Copies? How many? Do they need accompaniment? Can you provide it for them to prepare? What is the easiest, and classiest, way to share this with your people? Whatever you do, don’t make it difficult for your actors to prepare. Ensure that they have a really good experience getting ready to sing, dance or act for you. They might not make it to the finish line, so you want them to at least have a good time at the race.

THIRD – be ready to make choices. The choices are tough and if you agonize over them too long you will start to second guess yourself. This is dangerous. Go with your gut. Return to your list of a dream cast, return to your notes and continually tell yourself…. “I have to judge them based on what they showed me today at these callbacks.” That’s all you can do. Then, make the decision and be ready to back it up.

Director-chair-Small

So, what if you are on the other side of the table?

FIRST – celebrate!!! You’ve been asked to a callback. That’s impressive. No matter what the role or what you were hoping for from the audition team. You impressed them enough that they wanted to see more, so feel good about that.

SECOND – prepare! No matter what your hopes are for the show, prepare yourself to show your best performance and in your best light. You might not get the role, you might not even get the show, but if you impress, it could bode well for your future. You could be offered a role from the very first audition the next time the team sees you – people remember good work and professionalism.

THIRD – have a good time! The audition is your time to play. To show off your skill and to explore a character you may or may not get to play. Have a good time and don’t consider the outcome, you can’t control that, you can only control what you put into the audition and how you feel about it. Make it the best you can and be proud of whatever comes from it!

So, people… what are you waiting for? You’ve got to get ready, don’t you?!?

Some thoughts for people holding auditions… (make your job easier)

Auditions are HARD!!! For EVERYONE!!!

People always think about the folks up there showing they can sing, dance, act or whatever… but it is just as hard and nerve-wracking for the people who are casting the show – the ones who supposedly, “hold all the cards!” It isn’t easier on that side of the table at all!

Here’s a few tidbits of advice from my experiences….

1) TELL PEOPLE!!! What’s the point of auditions if no one knows you are having them? You need a lot of people for any show – even a simple little two hander. You want choice, right? You want selection? You want word of mouth? TELL PEOPLE! Don’t hold secret auditions. Don’t have them on a tough weekend, like a holiday or when the super sale at the mall starts… pick a good time – far enough in the future and PROMOTE IT!

Auditions-Today

2) Tell people what the show IS! Sure it might have a title they recognize, but maybe it is a different version, or maybe you are planning to set it post-apocolyptic, (please don’t), or maybe you want TWICE as many actors as normal… if you don’t TELL THEM…. they won’t come.

3) Hold the auditions at convenient times. Evenings and Weekends work for community theatre – and make sure to mix that up. Don’t do just a weekend or just the evenings. Give people multiple chances to get out to see you. You need them, don’t you?

4) DON’T hold the auditions too far away from the show. You are only hurting yourself. If your show is in December, seriously, what is the point of auditions in January? So much can happen to people in between the time of the audition and when rehearsals start. Heck, they might even forget they are in your show! About 4-5 months before your show is fine, with rehearsals starting shortly after you cast it – but remember, if they don’t know about it, it doesn’t matter when you hold the auditions.

5) TELL THEM WHAT YOU WANT TO SEE!!! If it is singing – tell them what style. Provide examples if you can. Do they need to dance? Tell them. Be ready to teach that. Do you want a monologue? Comedy routine? Improv sessions? Don’t be afraid to shake it up and do something different – just be ready to answer their questions – cause they’ll have them!

6) Make your requests make sense for the show. Don’t ask for a WICKED inspired power ballad if you are doing a Shakespeare, and if the show is comedic, what IS the point of a classical monologue? Seriously, know what you are looking for when you prepare that audition statement.

7) Sit down with your team and discuss your dream cast. When I say dream cast – I mean it. Dream big! Who would you cast from all time of all the famous actors you and your team know? Build that EPIC cast list, (with options) and know what it is you are hoping to see walk through that door. Be ready though – cause it just might! OR – even more exciting – something you didn’t expect will show up and knock your socks off!!! Be ready for that.

casting

8) Prepare your banter. Know what you plan to say to each candidate and be ready with that. Have questions. Read their sheets/resumes/questionnaires. They took the time to come out and fill out those forms, have something you’d like to know about them. Be curious. Be genuinely interested in them because they are genuinely interested in you and your project. It’s the least you can do.

9) Be ready for the hard decisions. Here’s where it gets tough. The person you thought would really “bring it” might not. The unexpected will happen. Be prepared with challenges for your actors so you can know who is really going to deliver and make the project exactly what you want it to be. Don’t waste their time. They are there, working in front of you and delivering their level best. Challenge them. Have the callback materials ready – KNOW what you want to see. Then have the guts to make the tough decision and stick by it. Whatever happens. It isn’t easy. Art is never easy.

10) This should really be the FIRST thing you do… and I shouldn’t even have to put it here, but I do, cause you’d be surprised…. READ THE SCRIPT. Read it again. And then read it a third time. Make sure EVERYONE on your team has a copy. And do your best to give them time to read it. Discuss it. Have questions ready. Solve problems with it before you even audition. And if, for some strange reason, you don’t have the script and you are heading into auditions… what are you doing? Wait. Get the script. Read it. It’s the only way to be certain you are ready for the project and your people who are investing their time are also ready.

These are just a FEW tips. Do you have more? Mention them in the comments below.