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Studio Roundup for June 2023

General / 24 July 2023


We had plenty of notice about the end of data processing for Google Analytics v3, but still found it annoying being forced to make changes. We’re a very small business and any web developer time comes out of our free time — or by cancelling something important.

You have to wonder why Google didn’t just do a seamless transition within their platform. The approach Google took with the GA4 upgrade, forcing everyone to update their sites and remove the old embed code, seemed to just treat the majority of their Analytics customers like we are unpaid Google employees who serve at their beck and call.

All told we’ve not been happy with Google Analytics for years. It’s sluggish performance, visitor stats that don’t match server stats and lack of ownership of the data are some examples as to why. When we went to look for an alternative, we found that there’s actually a number of competitors and some have very interesting unique features.

As a studio we would like to have a greater amount of oversight and control of our data so that we can make more informative displays and make more informed decisions. Out of all the many Google Analytics alternatives, Matomo seemed to be the best match for our needs, it’s open source, built on PHP and has a MySQL backend, making it easy to host.

We’re also trialling Cloudflare Analytics, however we would caution anyone to thinking that Cloudflare’s option can be used for marketing. It’s closer to a Sys Ops tool giving you a live unfiltered view, which includes scrapers.

Garrett Ray Jewellery

This month of June we celebrated the star sign of Cancer. In ancient Greek myth, Cancer is a crab that pinched Heracles but lost to him in a fight. For it’s valour the crab was placed in the heavens by Hera, becoming Cancer.

Cancer is emotional, highly intuitive, caring, and above all, dependable. Check out the collection.

If you love gemstones, then Garrett Ray Jewellery is the place for you! This month we featured some incredible pieces on our Instagram.

Like neon lights shining from within the gems long facets on this warm toned almond brown Kunzite set in the complimentary warm tones of 18k gold.

Angled petals of 18k white gold form a dainty blossom that reflect the facets of a blushing pink spinel in this pendant from the limited edition Blossoms Collection.

A beautiful contrast, with warm 18k gold hugging the cool tones of a solid Coober Pedy white opal in this one of a kind pendant.

Do you love the simple rural aesthetic? We have a new collection in the works, follow us to make sure you don’t miss out when it’s launched!

Git based note system

When Evernote first started getting adopted by web agencies in the mid to late 2000s, it’s feature of being a cloud note taking app on your phone that could also have the same notes on your PC or Mac was revolutionary.

Producers, designers and techies made great use of the Evernote app and new additions like the browser extension for clipping pages. Competitors have scratched away at Evernotes market share for the past twenty years, some becoming interesting enough to warrant us investigating. Especially as Evernote’s parent company was acquired last year.

Our first trial this year was with Dendron. This git based note tracking tool was a big transition and lacking a mobile option. As a file based solution there are work arounds we could have explored, but they would probably require manual upkeep. In the end, we didn’t think it was a good fit for a team of two and when only one of us is a developer.

The next alternative we looked at was Notion. As far as features go, it’s possibly one of the best tools our there. You can make kanban boards that link to notes — it’s kinda amazing, albet a bit slow. Unfortunately after a few months investment into Notion, we lost entire boards due to a few quirks with the UI and lack of data validation/modelling. Our data was recoverable but just the fact it was so easily done made us dump the entire solution.

Many of Open Studios file are already git based, we use a Kettlefish based document generator for invoices and quotes. Garrett suggested we just go file based for everything and it’s gone great. We’re using folders and text for Kanban now, it’s synced instantly by our cloud file apps and we can edit it quite easily on any platform.

At some point in the future we plan to use the ELK stack, or something similar, to consume our file based data and drop it into dashboards. This would go nicely with our other decisions like going with Matomo, giving us direct access to our website data so we can make cool displays with it.


Building a presence online in 2023 is a bit of a rollercoaster! Household names like Twitter and Facebook are no longer the powerhouses of grassroots brand engagement. Everyone wants visual, fast and to be engaged instantly. Instagram is good for influencers, Youtube/Tiktok are fun for kids and bored adults — but what about a space for professionals that aren’t robotised clones of one another *cough* LinkedIn *cough*.

While DeviantArt is still a thriving community for creative professionals, ArtStation seems to have supplanted it in recent years. As such — we’re live on Artstation as the sixth studio listed in Australia!

Find us online!


Studio Roundup for May 2023

General / 22 June 2023


Pre-production of our first animated short continues. Storyboarding is about halfway done and we have an exciting new character to boot.

Like our other projects, we’ll be looking to build a following in order to justify and secure more time on the tools for this one. We will be posting the series for free to Youtube, TikTok and social media.

Garrett Ray Jewellery

A time of change and transformation, May is the beginning of spring for the northern hemisphere and start of autumn in the south. May is also the month of Gemini and so we promoted this beautiful and original piece on Garrett Ray Jewellery’s socials.

This classic Gemini design features the mirror image of a man’s face to represent the twins.

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Studio branding and the future

The current Open Studios logo contains the word “open” as an HTML tag that on a technical level also says it is open. This is a reflection of our original goals — to be an innovative and clever little tech company.

Today Open Studios makes websites, cloud apps, comics, cartoons, luxury goods like jewellery and also manages the PR and socials for our brands.

We are still a studio whose expertise lies with tech, it’s justtime to also start showing our creative flair off — especially considered a lot of todays work is in the creative space.

So we came up with some aesthetic ideas and picked our favourite. We are really excited to show you what we’re working on, but are saving that for a nice re-launch of the website and logo across all channels.


Studio Roundup for April 2023

General / 26 May 2023

Garrett Ray Jewellery

We’ve reached the end of our 2023 Summer print campaign in British Vogue, but the work of a marketing agency is never done! Taurus season began on April 20 and as such we promoted this bold design across all of Garrett Ray Jewellery’s socials.

The Taurus pendant features the bull and his steadfast horns on the front and the Taurus constellation on the back.

In anticipation of Mothers Day next month, we’ve posted a Mother’s Day Gift Guide on the Garrett Ray Jewellery blog. If you’re shopping for a gift for Mother’s day and need a hand picking something, we encourage you to check it out!

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Auditing the current workflow for comics production — we noticed a glaring omission that has now been rectified. There wasn’t a scaffold to bring everything together — we had three different character stories on the go but hadn’t combined them into a storyboard for the new comic.

This has now been rectified, here’s a sneak peek at the first few pages!

The character previously known as Jim is now Taka, named after my favourite Japanese eatery here in Perth Australia.

For a full preview, check out the update on Instragram.

The challenge of managing files assets is an ongoing one in media production. Kamigen itself has evolved from being an RPG with a comic, to just a comic to the multimedia production that it is today. The folder system on this project reflects that with too many disparate folders in the root.

There’s too much going on here to make sense of it now.

Follow Kamigen


Studio Roundup for March 2023

General / 12 April 2023


The character designs for Nerv and Arty are done! The project already has a couple of scripts and a first one picked out so the next step is to begin storyboarding. We anticipate to have a demo animation out by June-ish.

Garrett Ray Jewellery

Take a wearable piece of zen from the garden with the Blossoms Ring, featuring a limited edition pink spinel set in 18k white gold.

To celebrate this years March 27th Cherry Blossom Day we began promoting the Blossoms collection. This debut set is limited edition due to the pink spinels you see pictured, however we do have plans to keep it going with other gems once the pink spinels run out.

The April 2023 issue of British Vogue (left) and our entry in the jewellery section (right).

This month sees our third entry in British Vogue for this campaign, this time featuring Virgo out of the Zodiac collection.

March is the month of the star signs Pisces and Aries, the latter of which began on the 21st of March so that’s what we’ve been actively promoting the past couple of weeks.

Adorned with the iconic rams head on one side and the Aries constellation on the other.

The online store has undergone some upgrades including the addition of search filters and better product tags. As part of our commitment to excellence at Open Studios we will ensure the site is regularly updated with improvements but if there is anything you’d like to suggest please tell us!

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The first chapter of the comic is about halfway through storyboarding. We are using old webcomics pages and new story notes to drive prompts in Stable Diffusion, the results are then arranged into the new storyboard.

The rebuild of Kamigen has had some character changes as well, with a greater focus on LGBTIQA+ themes and more accurate usage of Filipino cultural references. This time around we want native Filipino culture to not just be an aesthetic, but to be a central theme of every aspect of the world.

Tech feature

This past month we’ve begun to use ChatGPT in our work, it’s not been as big for us as Stable Diffusion due to many limitations with the platform but it’s still been really fun and productive.

We’ve made script ideas, social media posts, software code examples and even just tasked it with more general knowledge questions like how to smoke a brisket. The software seems unusually adept at understanding what you’re asking for, with simple tweaks often being all you need to get it where you want.

Much like Stable Diffusion, the productivity boon of having a tool that can rapidly produce a variety of text answers is very handy but not a perfect subtistute for an experienced and skilled human performing the same task. For the time being neither ChatGPT or Stable Diffusion generally produce media that is usable as is, but it is a great leg up versus starting from scratch!


Studio Roundup for February 2023

General / 04 March 2023

We have a lot of things to share across multiple departments so grab your coffee (or equivalent) and strap yourself in — this is a big one!

Art highlight

The title of this illustration, “Form Aura Colours”, is an amalgamation of Plato’s Theory of Forms and the New Age beliefs in different coloured auras. Essentially this illustration is a symbolic map of different places and times that humanity made key advances culturally and technologically.

Form Aura Colours is an illustration produced as part of research for an ongoing production.

Front and centre we see the Yggdrasil the Tree of Life but not as you’ve seen it before. Instead of the familiar shape of a tree there are figures of people growing out of each others anuses to form the trunk and branches.

Within the centre of the background are rows of each epochs key achievements starting with agriculture, moving toward architecture then religion (city building) and the invention of the aircraft (flying machine).

The symbols on the left and right hand side of the image represent the ascent of the human mind, starting with emotions, moving through the era of magical thinking and towards reason and technology.

The top level of the design represents the final veil of mysteries that are obscured and unknowable for us. The centre background for this row shows the many different types of reality and consciousness “out there” and the infinite army of automated intelligence that protects it.

If you’re still not sure what you’re looking at, may I suggest a song.


While we have access to state of the art generative technology — the character designs for this project are being done by hand using a mix of pencil and digital. We could use something pleasing that Stable Diffusion produces but I think the nuances of human input and creativity would be lost doing it that way. The success of cartoons with unusual art styles like Adventure Time and Powerpuff Girls is a testament to the fact it doesn’t have to look ideal, just needs to have a consistent POV and be fun.

Introducing the working version of Minervus, a young male demon who prefers to be called “Nerv”.

The role that A.I. will play in the production is to help us elevate the original style of the cartoon and produce richer and more interesting backgrounds. As discovered when working on Kamigen, it’s trivial for a writer to spin up Stable Diffusion now and run through possible scenes in order to arrive at the best possible combination of elements.

Aesthetics are probably about a third of the extent of the work going on, the rest of it going into research and writing. There’s a lot of big ideas going into Demonology and the trick to making that fun will be distilling the key elements into digestible pieces of entertainment.

Due to our grassroots approach, a fully serialised format is unlikely for a very long time and so we will be focused on animated shorts.

Garrett Ray Jewellery

We’ve been a bit quiet on social media but are hard at work planning and preparing! New products from Garrett Ray Jewellery are coming and to promote them Open Studios will be running some exciting campaigns across all channels, including a couple of video ads!

The birthstone for March is Aquamarine so we’ve selected this stunning 18k Gold Aquamarine pendant to be in the March 2023 issue of British Vogue, featuring Rihanna and her new family on the cover.

This one of a kind gold pendant necklace features a 10.64 carat Mozambique Aquamarine pendant set in 18 karat gold. The Aquamarine is AIG certified.

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New website

We just launched a new website for Open Studios! The single page site is intended to be a portal to all our brands and recent work.

Website design and build by Paul Brzeski

The page itself is responsive but isn’t yet a full Progressive Web Application. Eventually we will create some kind of app so that our media in Demonology and Kamigen can be accessed on mobile, using the website in that way is certainly a cheaper and simpler stepping stone to get there.

Built with Eleventy, Pug, Rollup, Stylus and Tailwind — the production of this site also set us up with the new boilerplate for Kettlefish V2, an open source static website builder that has been changed from standalone to leveraging the features of Eleventy.


Tech feature

Introducing BSD Daemon, cute mascot of the BSD project.

The BSD ( Berkeley Software Distribution ) operating system is the dark horse of the computing world. You might have heard of it’s more popular cousin Linux, but did you know that Apple’s macOS and iOS are based on BSD? Other notable uses of BSD’s codebase are Microsoft Windows (just for networking ) and even Sony Playstations 3–5 and Vita.

The Linux ecosystem is an incredibly complex one but I think that can also be a downside for its stability and overall sense of quality. Corporate interests and rookie developers appear to have lowered the quality and freshness of Linux over the past 25 years.

When you fire up a Live USB key or have a fresh install of Ubuntu — it’s completely filled to the brim with features and functionality, but as someone who has also done that a number of times — I’ve also run into a tons unexpected issues which on Googling are often widespread. Basic stuff like hardware accelerated GPU and sound don’t work out of the box.

Bugs are normal in software development, but it’s where you draw and hold the line for acceptable system performance that sets the quality standard. I don’t have any criticism for the Linux kernel itself, from what I can see the problems start within the hallowed offices of the corporate vendors.

I’m actually a BSD newbie myself but if I could oversimplify how it feels for me — a modern desktop like GhostBSD feels to me like what Linux was always meant to be — fast, good looking and solid. I was able to watch a Youtube video on my Intel NUC and the frames didn’t freeze, which is not something I can say for Ubuntu, Manjaro or even Windows, sadly.

If you’re experienced with Linux or just want to try something different I encourage you to give BSD a go. There are different distributions to try depending on your requirements, I recommend GhostBSD for desktop but check out this awesome BSD distro guide at Make Use Of for more.

And finally Happy 2023 Mardi Gras to everyone participating in the event in Sydney and around the world! The celebration of LGBTIQA+ pride is an important cultural institution that reminds everyone from all walks of life who we are and where we came from so we don’t go backwards.

Find us online!


Studio Roundup for January 2023

General / 28 January 2023

This is an exciting year for Open Studios — a lot of hard work and setup is now starting to pay off as we enter our fourth year of operation.


Introducing a new original cartoon about the life and times of two young demons growing up in hell. The concept is currently with our capable art team who are studying old school cartoons and coming up with the look.

The original Daemonologie published by King James was basically a political attack on alternative religion at the time. That attack had a huge impact on the course of human history until this day.

The witch trials which took place around the world can be traced back to the slanderous claims in Daemonologie. The entirety of the Shakespeare play MacBeth was written as a bit of ego stroking for ol’ King James — the entire plot built around making his enemies look evil/stupid and him highly capable and righteous.

Demonology is going to de-mystify the dark world for today’s age, showing that “demons” and “witches” are just people, maybe on their worst day. What makes you good or evil isn’t what you are — it’s who you decide to be.

Garrett Ray Jewellery

Established in 2021, Garrett Ray Jewellery has grown from it’s humble beginnings on Etsy into a fully fledged designer brand with a following across the world. We’re proud to announce that Garrett Ray Jewellery was recently invited to participate in a campaign with British Vogue, which has just hit newsstands this week. Much work has gone into this achievement.

Our spot in the February 2023 issue of British Vogue, part one of three in this campaign.

In the third quarter of 2022 we performed a competitor analysis on the website — looking at how our website stacks up to industry leaders who have been in the biz for decades. These changes elevated the site from just a generic Shopify site to the Garrett Ray Jewellery of today.

And finally we’re excited to announce the release of two new jewellery collections — The Diamond Classics and The Zodiac Collection.

Timeless and Elegant, Diamond Classics feature GIA certified diamonds set in precious metals.Each horoscope design was sculpted to match unique artwork, the back features the constellation.

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The entire Kamigen project is undergoing an art rebuild, although it’s not at the top of our priorities right now as there is just *so much* to do here.

Previously Kamigen was rapidly produced on a monthly basis in order to generate unique story and art for a more advanced production. We have recently begun that. Here’s a sneak peek at a new trailer and some of the new comics pages, we hope you love the new look as much as we do!’s introduction in the new comic, this is still concept art and not final.Taka’s introduction in the new comic, this is still concept art and not final.

Other news

  • Gamer Loot Australia is now closed, it had a good run unfortunately it never really broke even business wise so the call was made.
  • Paul Brzeski has published some blog articles over the holidays.
  • Studio branding project is underway.

Find us online!