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I would also say older/refurbished iPad. I got my own technophobe mom an iPad 2 last year for Christmas, and she loves it. (Granted, your mom is more technoliterate than mine, if she's managed to wrap her mind around Netflix and Youtube.)
I pondered the other options as well, but I went with the iPad for a couple reasons:
-It's dead simple. Set up her email and Facebook and FingerPrint on it and she's good to go. My mom had been using a 12 year old winXP computer previously so I might have thought a cheap windows laptop may have been a better bet for the sake of familiarity- but a little bit of handholding at the start, and now a year later she's more capable with the iPad than she ever was with Windows.
-Everyone knows what an iPad is, even if they have no tech knowledge to draw on. Kindle Fire HDX and the Galaxy and Chromebooks and the Surface might all be great, may be cheaper, may be better suited...but you give them something that they've never heard of and just from the name sounds like something a bunch of sci-fi nerds thought up, and you're automatically starting at a point of "I don't know what I'm doing it sounds so complicated waaaaaah". Even if it's exactly as simple as the iPad in actual fact, it's going to be more of a pain in the ass to get them on board with it. The iPad is familiar and comfortable, they've seen their local news stories about how even 3 year olds know how to use them, so it's far less intimidating to that sort of audience. (A sub-benefit of this familiarity is that if your mom has a narcissistic/materialistic streak like mine, an iPad gives her something to brag about to her friends, more so than something she can't even remember the name of, and would get blank stares if she did.)
-Lots of people have iPads (most notably in this case myself and both my siblings), so it's easier to guide her through something that a lot of people around her are already familiar with, and a lot easier to troubleshoot any problems that may occur. Now, if the rest of your family/her circle of friends are all committed Android or Kindle or Surface users, it may be better to go for something that more people around her have; but I've heard the question, "Hey, do you have an iPad?" a lot more often than, "Hey, do you have a Galaxy Note?", so it's more likely (at least, based on my totally anecdotal evidence) she'll be readily able to get help with one than the other.
Now, these are all terrible reasons to get an iPad, if you aren't intimidated by technology, like most people here. Talking to someone my age, I'd tell them to get whatever fits in their price range and just read the dang manual because all the options are probably just fine, really. But for someone who is scared of technology these are great reasons to opt for an iPad over something else (especially if you're like me, and you don't relish the idea of doing tech support over the phone regarding a piece of tech you have no previous familiarity with.)
It just sucks that it's also one of the more expensive options- for me it was worth the extra money to not to have to deal with a lot of hassles/unknowns; but your mom isn't mine, and if she's savvier/more patient/etc. than my mom is, you might be throwing your money away going that route.
*Also, depending on how old your mom is, I might suggest you don't go for a mini-tablet unless she specifically wants one- just because it's good to have some extra screen real estate to display bigger text a bit more nicely, and then they don't have to get out their reading glasses.
Oh god, that 15th anniversary badge scared me.
I thought it was supposed to be my forum anniversary, not PA's anniversary, so I was like:
"Hey! I've only been here...
...and 353 days...
As much as I hate maybe coming across as kicking people when they're down, you did ask for advice:
Disclaimer: I've not done editorial illustration, but I certainly have a lot of experience with gettin' paid making art workin' for the man (I'm a video game artist).
I don't know what 'isn't naive enough looking for the mainstream and it's not tech enough for the editorial world' really means, but looking over your portfolio, it's not all that surprising to me that you're not picking up a bunch of magazine work. It's all cool and surreal and interesting, but if I'm somebody publishing a magazine, I'm going to look at it and go, "so what the heck am I actually supposed to DO with all this stuff?" Unless my magazine is 'Cool Weird Shit Monthly', I'm not gonna have a clue. (For a long while Wakkawa had a similar problem; cool beautiful women in various state of undress may make everybody ooh and ahh, but they don't make for the most versatile game industry concept portfolio.) I can't look at any single piece you've got up there and think of a magazine article that it would make sense to accompany it.
You've got good drawing skills and interesting styilization- which is more than enough to get other artists to think it's cool, maybe get some decent success doing fine arts; but what's important to commercial art is that the work is functional, which is something the pieces you've got on display aren't really demonstrating. Cool stuff that nobody can use isn't going to get you very far. (The term 'functional drawing' is something I picked up from John K. Although he's talking about animation drawing in particular, the point of there being a clear difference between art done solely for the purpose of being appealing and art done to serve a specific purpose remains relevant for any sort of commercial art application).
Now, you said you're doing a lot of works for bands, and that's great- but it falls on the low end of doing functional drawing, since at best an album cover really just has to be visually striking and convey the tone of a band, and have someplace to put the title/band name; you don't have to illustrate a story, and you only have to be clever if you want to be.
A magazine article has a lot higher demands in terms of functionality.
It has to fit a page layout in certain way.
It has to compliment the graphic design of the page.
It has to help tell a specific story, and it has to boil down the main thrust of the story in the story in an entertaining or clever way. Does it read clearly and quickly so you can grasp its meaning while flipping through the magazine, or do you need half an hour and an art history degree to puzzle it out? Are you good at concocting easy/clever visual metaphors?
It has to appeal directly to the audience at hand- which is likely to be a broader, less niche audience than a band might be going after. Are you broadly adaptable to work in different styles for different audiences, or can you only draw in a single specific way? If it's the latter, how many magazines cater to that audience? Is it enough to actually make a living off of? Is this niche audience already dominated by more established illustrators, that would make breaking in to that area as an up and coming artist extremely difficult? Do your stylistic choices compliment or work against the the tone of the article/magazine/venue?
Lots of articles are going to be about people and personalities; can you do caricature, or otherwise capture likenesses? Can you make your figures act, express sincere and readable emotions?
And if you've got all that going for you- you've ticked off all those boxes- is the resulting work still good? Or has trying to get all of that done made it stiff and forced looking? Is it something you're even interested in doing as a career at this point?
(Then there's the non-art part of the job which you can't demonstrate in a portfolio, which is your professionalism/reliability/client management/communication, which in the case of an unknown artist leaves a question mark in the eyes of a client.)
What your portfolio is demonstrating to me is that you just want to draw what you want to draw, and your words are telling me you're irritated that magazines don't want to pay you to do just that. Magazines aren't going to do that, they're going to hire people that can draw what they need drawn.
In a commercial enterprise, "I drew this this way because I think it looks cool" is reasoning you can only apply to maybe 5% of your artistic decisions- the rest has to be based on the specific demands of the work at hand.
Now, you could come back at me and say, 'if someone gave me a chance I'm SURE I could illustrate a magazine article that everybody'd be happy with! Why won't anyone give me a chance!" And there's a good chance that you are in fact perfectly correct in that assumption. You may do a great job- if you can convince somebody to take a leap of faith on you.
But relying on leaps of faith is no way to make a career for yourself, unless you've got a rich uncle or something willing to hire you for whatever until you can get your feet on the ground. (Even with a perfectly tailored portfolio, it's STILL hard to get a job starting out.)
Most jobs don't hire you based on the best case scenario of what you feel you're capable of; they hire you assuming you'll actually deliver maybe 75%-80% the quality of what you're demonstrating in your portfolio (a fact I'm reminded of a lot when I compare people's personal work to what they're drawing for their day jobs).
If they don't see anything that looks like it belongs in their magazine, they're not going to take the chance. Few people make business decisions thinking, 'I have high hopes, just...I mean, god, I hope this works out.'
You need to demonstrate you are 120% the guy for the job, that they're in safe hands with you, they can call you up and bang out what they need in a straightforward manner. If (to choose an article at random) Atlantic Monthly dials your number because they want an illo for their, "Can Fish Sauce Be Vietnam's Champagne?" article, they're not going to want to deal with the possibility that they're going to get back a full frontal naked woman with a fish for a head vomiting on a crepe.
Go to the newsstand. Pick up a bunch of magazines. Select an article at random. Read article. Boil that article's point down to one concise sentence. Now, illustrate that sentence in a clever, appealing, and tonally appropriate way. Repeat until you have a portfolio that it would make sense to hire you for magazines. If it makes you sleep better at night you can separate your weirdcool fineartsy stuff from your commercial stuff by having two different portfolios.
I'm sure this may just come across as, "HEY MAN JUST FUCKING SELL OUT ALREADY, JEEZ!", but there's always a balance to be struck between just doing what you want and what your audience/client wants, and you can't always please everyone at all times. Don't throw everything you're going for away, but don't let it stand in your way of getting a foot in the door either.
I know a guy who was a real-estate agent until he was 30, then quit, went to learn kickboxing in China for a year, came back to the US, went to art school, got a job at a small mobile company, then at EA, and then finally became a concept guy at Maxis at age 34. So yes, it's possible.
And for what it's worth, I can tell you that by looking at your thread, you are hardly starting at zero. Yes, there are some issues with nailing down structure in the ones done from imagination that you could stand to solidify a bit more, and you could stand to finish off some of those figures to completion, but you're demonstrating a great sense of observational skill in your sketches that shows a hell of a lot of promise, IMO. You've certainly got a greater amount of skill than probably 97% of the people that came from of my 'fine arts' college BFA program (given, probably 96% of them never got jobs doing art, but...).
If you had the luxury of just dropping everything and spending 1-2 years just doing art under the guidance of a really good set of art teachers (ie: Watts Atelier, LAAFA or the like-"generic Art School" won't get these results), learn yourself some basic photoshop painting skills, I'd say in all likelihood that you'd be at the very least employable- 3 years+ and you'd likely rate as 'very good' (at least, in terms of pure skill level- a lot of talented people with the requisite amount of skill don't get jobs because they don't have enough/strong enough connections in the field, or don't have a portfolio that fits a particular niche being sought in terms of subject matter/style, or they're just looking in the wrong place at the wrong time, or they give up looking too soon.)
People tend to get a false impression that you have to be at a Ryan Church level of skill just to get a job doing concept art; you only have to be at a Ryan Church level of skill to steal Ryan Church's particular job.
But most working artists out there, are working on projects you've never heard of, and have been hired by companies you've never heard of, and consequently you've likely never seen the vast majority of what falls under the purview of 'concept art'. Shit, in terms of rendering at least, you're probably better at it than when I first got a job, and I've been employed in the VG industry for a good number of years now. Most of the people that get hired, their big first break, it comes about because they have a passable level of skill, but they happened to personally know a guy who needed to hire somebody at the time, so they brought him in for an interview and he came across having some ambition to improve and he didn't seem like an asshole so bam now he's a Concept Artist. Right place, right time, knew the right guy. After that you've got a title on your resume, you'll have worked with people who will go to other companies that will then recommend you.
Which isn't to say it's not difficult to get a job doing it, it's just that a great deal of the difficulty isn't, 'is it physically possible to learn this much in this amount of time'; sure, that's a huge challenge (and something that never stops being challenging, as you must continue to work at it for the rest of your career), but it's all the other stuff that can hold you back.
Like I said, if you can drop everything, just study art at a great school for an extended period, great, that would go a long way. But I don't know your financial situation- good chance that isn't possible. So maybe you could only go to school part-time, which would make it take a bit longer. Maybe you can only afford learning from books and the internet in your off-hours- that's still a doable proposition, you can still get there going that way, but again it's probably going to take a bit longer. Maybe you've got mouths to feed, a mortgage to pay off, maybe you're working 2 jobs already so you have no time, maybe you've got crazy medical expenses hanging over you- all of which would make doing this take longer or be more difficult to do. And maybe at long last you get the skill, but you're located nowhere near the industry so you don't know anybody to give you an 'in'. That's going to make things tougher. Maybe when you look at working through crunch time in the VG world you may decide it isn't for you, or it would mean an unacceptable pay cut from whatever you're doing now, or maybe you don't want to deal with the job security issues. Who knows.
What's realistic to have happen in a certain amount of time is going to depend on your own unique circumstances and your own level of motivation- I'm not going to pretend that life is fair and that everyone has the same level of opportunity; somebody only mildly motivated but is independently wealthy enough to leisurely do all the right things is going to have an easier time than someone existing under the poverty line who wants it like crazy. Where you fall on the spectrum and whether you think it's a good idea to pursue the idea, that's up to you to decide.
(This isn't all to depress or discourage you, not at all- I just personally feel that when I get the 'all you need is a dream in your heart!' type of motivational speech, it usually just makes me feel I'm getting smoke blown up my ass and roll my eyes. Boiling it down to facts and having a reasonable pro/con argument about the issue makes brings it back into the realm of reality, rather than that of fantasy; hopefully it motivates you in the sense that it turns out not to be an impossible dream, but shows it's a tangible, attainable goal.)