Dec 26, 2006

Christmas: A Time for Lurning

So I got what I wanted for Christmas. I got a sorely needed occupational education. For anyone seeking information on starting a creative enterprise of any sort I would recommend this book: The Business Side of Creativity. It covers any question you might have. Any question at all. This book answered all the questions I didn't even know enough to ask. It covers everything from how to find an accountant (who knew you needed an actual accountant) to billing questions to potential employee issues (should the event arise).

On top of that I got a boatload of Phaidon books, which I'm keen on perusing. I'm excited to peruse the Paperwork volumes as well as the thick tome that is The Art of Looking Sideways.

As far as truly educational books go I also got The Elements of Typographic Style by Robert Bringhurst and Talent Is Not Enough by Shel Perkins. Now I suppose I should really look for a textbook style guide to designing for print (i.e. standard practices, tips for using Pantone color matching system, etc.). Any recommendations?

Dec 21, 2006

Onward and Upward

I've been working for over a year and a half now at a little clothing company called Neighborhoodies. I started there as a graphic design intern, which paid $30 a day. It was the only job I managed to get out of college. I worked there for the summer and, by some miracle, they asked me to stay on as a salaried graphic designer in August. I was pretty ecstatic.

They immediately put me to work branding, designing and building their original e-commerce indie music retailer, Amp Camp (which at the time was called Neighborhoodies Music). It was a little like asking the water boy to rewrite the playbook and captain the team. It was massive learning experience to say the least.

Over the next year and 8 months I would give Neighborhoodies a make-over and design two more customized e-commerce websites: first a redesign of the Neighborhoodies site itself (launched this October) and a third new venture known only as "Print Wars." Print Wars was a brilliant piece of brainstorming set to rival co-op t-shirt Goliath Threadless. It has, unfortunately, yet to be realized.

As of today, I have given my notice of leave to what has been my "place of business" for the last year and a half. I want to thank Neighborhoodies for giving me more opportunities than any other company would have dared. I hope I earned them retroactively.

I will be devoting myself to The Visual Field full time come January and will be accepting and seeking all sorts of design opportunities. I'm doing this with the view to creating a full fledged design studio, capable of creating at the highest levels of innovation and ingenuity in all visual media. As par for the course, I'll attempt this one giant step at a time.

Dec 18, 2006

{Typo}Graphic Content

Worked until 1:30 or so last night wrapping up the typography project previously mentioned. All in all it came out pretty well. I would have loved more time to spend on the details, but time and opportunity marches on I suppose. Here's a few of the better pages.

Dec 14, 2006

Love us or Hiatus

It's Thursday. The last post was over the weekend. Disgraceful. Perhaps, though, you will forgive me the lashings when I tell you that it's not out of laziness. I've been furiously working over the past three days to finish an identity project for the man who mixed my band's album, as well as trying to churn out some inspired typographic design for a report my brother is presenting to McKinney in NC.

Here are some of the variations on the logo I've been developing:

I had previously presented the client with other versions of the logo, but after letting them sit in my head for a while, I realized they weren't really logos at all, but bland arrangements of text. So came up with these instead. Overall, I think they're fun, refined, surprising, and clever. Just about everything I could hope for.

Here's a couple layouts that I've done for my brother:

Notice any similarities? Yeah, I thought so. The only thing that really translates are the colorful lines. I made them for the typography project first, but liked them so much I couldn't help but include them in different colors in the logo project.

If anyone is reading this, let me know what you think.

Dec 10, 2006

Weekend Addition

I'm excited, but very tired. I'm currently juggling three projects against both my band and my day job, but I may soon be juggling 5 projects et al. One of these jobs is a lock, but I'm pretty sure I'll get the other one as well. If that happens I'll be set up to start the studio full time. It's scary but exciting. I hope I don't fall on my face here. This means anyway that I've got to get the new Visual Field site up ASAP (make that 6 projects) and really hone in on making my resume hum.

One of these projects is a layout project for a proposal that promises to be a great learning experience.

Rubber's really gonna hit the road here in a second.

I also recently read something in Noisy Decent Graphics that really struck a chord. It was sort of a pep-talk about doing things FOR REAL. If you're going to do something, do it for real. Say I want something written on a chalkboard. I should write it on a chalkboard and photograph it. I should do it for real. Finding some chalk font and pasting it on a stock photo of a blackboard is never going to look as good, or as real. Strong visuals are often made strong by the simple fact that they don't look computerized and composited, but are, in the truest sense, real.

I have long been the world's foremost offender of faking it. I hereby repent.

Dec 8, 2006

Phaidon, Phaidoff

Let me just say that I love Phaidon. They manage to create both great books about graphic design and books that themselves are designed...greatly. Their consistent in both the quality of work they compile and the quality of the work which they produce. Hazzah. This is my christmas list of Phaidon books:

Profile: Pentagram Design
Problem Solved
Paperwork & More Paperwork
The Art of Looking Sideways (by the illustrious [literally] Alan Fletcher)
A Smile in the Mind
and cheesily enough:
It's Not How Good You Are. It's How Good You Want To Be

It'll be good reading for the plane ride home.

Dec 7, 2006

WoW (Words of Wisdom)

Some Great words of wisdom from the man at Noisy Decent Graphics
Present passion not perfection.
20 years of Mac means we've lost a lot of energy from graphic design, so let's try and get it back. Turn the computer off, get up from the desk, draw, sketch, make roughs, present your roughs. Always remember a sketch sells an idea better than a finished visual, because the client uses their imagination to buy into the idea. We recently did a whole presentation on post it notes. Present passion not perfection.

Words I'll certainly give a "Here! Here!" to.

Darwinian Design.

There's the Darwinian phrase "Survival of the fittest". I think in design one could make the qualification: "Survival of the ingeniousest." It seems pretty obvious, but it makes for a good motto for the plaque on your mizzenmast.

The Art of the Pitch

I really need to learn how to sell. My ideas. Myself. My work. I wasn't really born with what anyone would call a "business sense."

I'm a -- yeah, I'll say it -- I'm a smart guy. I'm intrigued by many, many things and have rarely met a challenge that I didn't tackle in one way or another. The one thing I haven't yet wrapped my head around is business. The financing, the networking, the selling selling selling. It just wasn't hard wired into me.

All I've ever wanted to do is to build things. I've neglected the part where I'm supposed to sell the things I build. But that's not what sold me on learning how to sell. What sold me was that I realized that without being able to convince the client that the work I've done is right for them, I'll forever be in the pocket of the client, churning out safe and boring work that they'll be proud of, but I'll be kicking myself for. I'm not worried about selling my services. I'm worried about selling my ideas.

If I can't learn to sell my ideas, all is lost (insert melodramatic epiphany music).

Thus, I have resolved to learn the art of the pitch.

Vote Like There's No Tomorrow...Today!

I'm very excited to report that my very own has been nominated for a Plug Award for best online Indie Music Retailer. You can vote online at this address. You'll find us under the "Media Categories: OBSESSIVE." This is good. Go vote!

Dec 6, 2006

Visual News

So it's tonight. I'm home from work where today I asked for (and received) the title of Art and Brand Director. This is good. I only had to spend a year reinventing the brand to get it, but to be honest, I wouldn't have it any other way.

I'm being driven insane by Illustrator CS2. It keeps crashing when I try to use the pathfinder tool. I. want. to. die. It has completely impaired my ability to do my freelance project right now. Did I mention the freelance project I'm working on?

Got advice today on my resume. Two points worth considering: first, I should have an opening statement saying what I want out of a prospective company. That begs the question, what do I want? To be answered later. Second, I should have a closing statement which moves the reader to an action. The most obvious of these being..."Call me!" (said melodramatically under one's breath with a phone-hand to one's ear).

I've also had suggestions about treating the sheet of paper as I should treat a design problem: by taking it apart and turning it into something completely new. perhaps inviting reader participation. I like this idea. I will think upon't.


In this segment children, we'll explore the lost (well, not so much lost as "expanding at a frightening rate and in enormous demand") art of Poster making. Specifically, the art of rock show posters. Perhaps we'll even occasionally dip into the world billboard and street posters. I'll be posting my favorites from other designers as well as a few of my feeble attempts for my band, The XYZ Affair (plug plug plug).

Below you will find a poster I just completed for The XYZ Affair's upcoming show at Union Hall in Brooklyn New York.

I like this poster. It's better than the last poster I made for two reasons: A) the drawing of the 1920s beach goers with the highways wrapping around their (aparrently enormous) bodies is just cool. B) It's colors buzz a lot more on this sucker thus attracting the unsuspecting eye. It's also got a better composition. Though, in retrospect, I'm not happy about where I put the venue and date info. It's offsetting (in a dismantling way) to the main sweep of text into the image that makes up the central portion. It was a bargain to try to lead the eye there since that was the second most important point. I really need to start making wire frames before setting out on a project.

Dec 5, 2006

(Typo)Graphic Content

Typography. I have only recently begun to fumble around with it. Of course that doesn't mean I've never designed with text.

To date my fumblings and preferences have all sprung from my opinions, rather uneducated ones. "The Elements of Typographic Style" by Robert Bringhurst is seems to be a standard in desktop typographic reference. I'm currently reading the web-translation at Unraveling the mystery. It's not so mysterious.

I'm hoping soon to have a few projects that deal exclusively with type. It would do me some good.

I'm also working on rebuilding my portfolio website, The Visual Field. Complaints have been basically that the portfolio images are too small and I've just grown generally tired with it. Currently it's a very simple and elegant idea, but the execution was lacking in refinement. I'll do better, I swear.

Dec 4, 2006

A Confederacy of Dunce

Note: In my last post I used the word "Divisive". I used it incorrectly. Google defines it thus:"dissentious: dissenting (especially dissenting with the majority opinion)". This will be but one of a long line of malapropisms and verbial abuse that will occur on a daily basis within this blog. Thank you.

Putting My Hands in All the Right Places

This is a blog about design. I don't want to promise that this blog will be interesting, and I don't want to promise that this blog will be revelatory (at least to anyone but myself), and I certainly don't want to promise that this blog will change the way people approach design and media. But I can promise that I'm going to have a helluva good time with it, and hopefully, some of those things will happen along the way.

The goal, I suppose, is twofold: first, to talk about the work I'm doing with The Visual Field, my freelance studio. To record my thought process with ongoing projects, clients, workload/lack thereof . It's a wild world and hopefully soon I'll be able to do it it full time. The second goal is to slowly but surely, by collecting individual thoughts and ideas, be able to codify what I think good design is, what I think good design should be, and where I think design should move to remain a positive, effective, fun, edifying, truthful, inventive, and conscientious asset to our mediated world.

Media and Image have long been the riverbeds of society, forcing the cultural stream to to wind and brake and merge. I suppose it's only appropriate that The Visual Field should focus on making design that allows for diversity, but isn't divisive. Of course, theory is always easier invented that applied.

In all honesty, I've always loved intelligence. I love intelligent design (not the philosophy, but the practice of), and working with images and words to create new meaning. It's one of the things that drove me to art school, where I wasn't learning a trade or a set of facts so much, as learning how think in new ways. The very root of intelligence if you ask me ...but why would you? Who the hell am I?