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Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Some Rough Designs



This week's Words and Images class was a testament to the need for feedback when designing. The assignment was to write an article about a new technology and then design a two-page spread for the article. My topic was electronic paper, the technology behind the recent Esquire cover and e-readers like the Amazon Kindle, Sony Reader, iRex Iliad, etc. I wanted to use a classic image and then place a new element into it to convey the idea that paper is changing. Didn't work so well, though. The design ended up looking like an article about ultrasound technology or the vibrations that pregnant women get when facing windows and reading letters in very uncomfortable dresses. At any rate, I'm glad I have a group of people to sound my ideas off (ooh, there's one of those prepositions at the end of the sentence!). (My wife is my best critic; she tells me exactly what she thinks, which is awesome!)

The other two images here are for Typography. We're supposed to design a magazine's contents section using two colors and only type. I've been dangerously conservative here, mostly because the next assignment is to go crazy with the contents and make the type do new and different things. Still, I think these work well. I haven't really proofed them, though, so maybe I shouldn't have put them online at all. Oh well! :)

Monday, September 29, 2008

Show and Tell, Week 4 - Stand Alone Typography


image copyright © 2008 wecansolveit.org

In preparation for both my typography class and the ad campaign we're doing in my Words and Images class, I ran across a great example of straight typography used well. This type of design takes forever to get just right, and I admire designers who attempt it.

There are a few things I would have done differently, though. For example, I think some words are given way too much visual importance. What's with the "soft-spoken red heads brunettes" part? I realize that all of those phrases are meant to be separate, but they seem a little bit too big, they almost read as one, and maybe they shouldn't have been placed quite like that on the page. (Don't get me wrong, I understand the whole "opposites can work together" theme; I just think some of the words are a little too big for their importance.) Overall, though, this is a great design.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Show and Tell, Week 3 - A Lovely Sentence

Chekhov, you're the man. Even though you wrote this sentence in Russian and it's been translated by someone else, it's still a pretty good one.
"From early morning the sky had been overcast with clouds; the day was still, cool, and wearisome, as usual on grey, dull days when the clouds hang low over the fields and it looks like rain, which never comes" ("Gooseberries", 1898).

Interview with Paul

So, I need some help. Here's the rough draft of my interview with Paul, and a revision. I want to know a couple of things (as well as whatever else you might have to say, of course): Do you think the new version flows well? Is the description of his classroom unnecessary? Is it way too long now? Stephanie thought I needed some more stuff between the last and second-to-last paragraphs. What's your take? Oh, and I've gone with the Dostoevsky approach and nixed the real last name. Clever, huh?

Original
Paul R. – 6’ 2”, 215 lbs., indie rock aficionado, proud Volkswagen Bus owner, former film student – is the last person you would expect to see on this playground. As he herds his 35 inner-city 5th-grade students to recess, one of them asks, “Mr. R., are you afraid of iguanas?"

“Ever since I told her I was afraid of dogs, she asks me if I'm afraid of all kinds of animals,” Paul chuckles. “‘Are you afraid of deer? Are you afraid of sharks? Are you afraid of ducks?’ Why does she do that?”

With his talents, Paul could have done anything, but he felt driven to teach. “I was watching
A Man For All Seasons,” Paul recalls, “and there's a part where Sir Thomas More tells Rich . . . ‘You'd make a fine teacher,’ and Rich says, ‘If I was, who would know it?’, and More says, ‘You'd know it. Your students would know it. God. Not a bad public, that!’” Paul knew that if he could help someone else love learning, he'd find fulfillment. “If you can make a difference,” he declares, “That's life.”

Despite bad pay, tough kids, and complacent coworkers, Paul loves teaching. Iguanas? Not so much.
Revision
Paul R. – 6’ 2”, 215 lbs., indie rock aficionado, proud Volkswagen Bus owner, former film student – is the last person you would expect to see on this playground. As he herds his 35 inner-city 5th-grade students to recess, one of them asks, “Mr. R., are you afraid of iguanas?”
“Ever since I told her I was afraid of dogs, she asks me if I'm afraid of all kinds of animals,” Paul chuckles. “‘Are you afraid of deer? Are you afraid of sharks? Are you afraid of ducks?’ Why does she do that?”

With his talents, Paul could have done anything, but he felt driven to teach. “I was watching A Man For All Seasons,” Paul recalls, “and there's a part where Sir Thomas More tells Rich . . . ‘You'd make a fine teacher,’ and Rich says, ‘If I was, who would know it?’, and More says, ‘You'd know it. Your students would know it. God. Not a bad public, that!’” Paul knew that if he could help someone else love learning, he'd find fulfillment. “If you can make a difference,” he declares, “That's life.”

Of course, the transition from self-proclaimed hippie/rock guru to grade school teacher hasn't been easy. Paul's expectation that an exciting learning environment (pictures of the X-Men and cutout characters from The Office line the classroom's walls; two poisonous tree frogs and a bearded dragon veg beneath UV lamps; overflowing bookshelves crowd every available space along the walls) would lead to angelic behavior died. "I have to be the bad guy sometimes," he says, "some of the kids are just waiting to walk all over you." He's also been surprised by his coworkers' lack of enthusiasm. "You'd think they'd be a little more altruistic, [but] some of them are just in it for the paycheck. . . . [T]heir main goal is to get to retirement and get out." Difficulties notwithstanding, Paul remains upbeat. "I love seeing the light come on in [the kids'] eyes," he says. "Even if it only flickers for a second, you can still tell that . . . you've helped that kid see how cool it is to learn."

"But Mr. Ricks, are you afraid of iguanas?"
Paul laughs, shrugs, glances at his watch. It's time to go back inside.



Wednesday, September 24, 2008

CD Covers





I've been working on some designs for my typography class again and thought I'd show them off/get some feedback.

assignment specs:
  • must be made only with type
  • must use contrast to make an image
  • 2 PMS colors and Black only
We had to turn in three sets of designs but choose only one to grade. I have to say that I really like the idea behind the Mo' covers, but my favorite design is the one with the bands of color. The designs were done in Gotham, which has become my current sans serif of choice. Honestly, it's one of those fonts that pretty much does all the work for you.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Sketch


Here are some quick sketches from the Words and Images class. Just so you know, I do actually listen in class. I find that sketching actually helps me stay focused more than I otherwise would. Quirky, but true nonetheless.

Show and Tell, Week 2 - Description

For your inspiration and enjoyment:





In Max Boam's class, one of our assignments was to find examples of type that did not use actual fonts. Combining that assignment with the one to find an example of description, I stumbled upon this beautiful little piece of work. Directed by Kris Moyes for the Softlightes' song "Heart Made of Sound". It's brilliant.

A better (but slower, depending on your connection) version can be downloaded from Kris Moyes' website. Here's the link: http://www.kmoyes.com/softlightes/hmos_480.mov. Enjoy!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Sketch a Day


I've decided (for now) that I want to do a sketch a day. Starting yesterday. The image came from some circles I was drawing in my notebook during Typography class on Thursday.

First Illustration Friday Post Ever!

"Heidi, with no one, felt she had the world."



I've been wanting to participate in Illustration Friday for a long time but never made the time to do it. I started thinking about this image a while back when talking with my brother about creating a blog where we collaborate on a story long distance. The general idea was that he would write, send me a few paragraphs, I would make an illustration without knowing what happens in his story, and we'd just kind of see what happened as we went.

We haven't started that project yet, but I'll let you know when we do. For now, here's a line from the story, along with the illustration.

The topic this week is "clique". I don't know how well it fits with the illustration (if at all), but I can make a case for it if I have to. Honestly, I just wanted to try Illustration Friday; who cares if the image fits the topic!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

New Book

Here's a sketch for a new book idea I have. More to come on this later.

Slimbach

Here's a poster I'm working on for Max Boam's Typographic Form and Function class. The assignment specified that we do the following:
  • Use only 2 colors (I cheated and used two PMS colors!)
  • Talk about a typographer or certain typeface
  • Use only type and only one typeface
  • Use 4 type weights
  • Advertise for a company called "The Face"
I think it works pretty well. Don't know if I'm done yet, though.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Show and Tell, Week 1 - Sketchbook


Sketchbooks are amazing. Highly recommended. I have a ton of them (although I have never owned a Moleskine sketchbook and wonder what the rest of you think of them), and I think they're great for organizing thoughts, taking notes, and, of course, drawing. Sketching helps me avoid mental complacency. It forces me to examine my world and see things as they are. It helps me take ideas and transform them into something real.

I love drawing from life or from my imagination, writing, scribbling, jotting, and otherwise marking my sketchbooks. My sketchbooks are full of garbage, but every once in a while, a gem shows up that makes the rest of the scribbles worth it.

Friday, September 12, 2008

The Skinny


Veer is one of the coolest typeface/photography/illustration companies out there. Of course, all of their stuff is expensive as well, but ain't that the way it always is? Anyway, I discovered their blog a few months ago after receiving an awesome promotional piece about The Very Secret Order of Creatives Understanding. (I'm still trying to find the piece in one of our boxes from our move out here. If I ever find it, you will be seeing it in class. It rocks.) In addition to providing tons of cool fonts and photos -- which I will probably only ever use in those dreams where I'm doing a design project and can't find the typeface I need (yes, I have those dreams) -- Veer's site provides an Ideas section that features two blogs, wallpapers, and shows off some portfolios.

Seriously, check this out. It's good stuff. The kind of stuff that makes you shake your head and say, "Yep, I should have been an accountant.*" And the blog posts are often hilarious.

Oh, and I found a .pdf of the Very Secret Order Handbook. You can download it here. Really funny (in an uber geeky way)!

*I'm being completely facetious. I would do almost any job before being an accountant.
Kernie image from veer.com

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Plastered by WordPress

"Code is poetry," proclaims the WordPress mantra. After hours of trying to figure out the blasted contraption that is WordPress (is contraption ever used except in a derrogatory sense?), I have decided that the mantra is true. Code is poetry. It's just really, really complicated poetry. At any rate, I've begun a blog hosted on my personal website using WordPress, but it won't be truly up and running for a while. I take my time when writing poetry 'ya know? Things have to flow just right. The first stanza will go something like this, though:
<div>
<h3>Hello World</h3>
<p>things I like to do</p>
<ul>
<li>thing 1</li>
<li>thing 2</li>
<li>thing 3</li>
</ul>
</div>

Yeah, I know, it's a little rough, but not everything Shakespeare and Frost wrote was a masterpiece in draft stage. Still, the <li> part brings tears to my eyes every time I read it. At any rate, you can check out the progress of my new WordPress blog from time to time at www.samuelricks.com/blog. I'm not really sure what I'm going to put on the blog, but at least I have the interface installed. And that's half the battle. Right?

I'd like to know what the rest of you think of WordPress. I've seen some awesome things done with it, but like most things that require lots of coding, my mind shrinks back with fear every time someone mentions words like MySQl, PHP, or Gravatars. Not my thing. Yet.

Honestly, though, my experience with WordPress thus far has been more daunting than discouraging. As opposed to Blogger, there are so many stinkin' options it's sick. The interface, although relatively intuitive, is pretty much laced with manual controls. If I were an experienced pilot, I'd say it's a lot like knowing how to drive a car, then jumping into a Boeing 747 and trying to get it off the ground. Mmm, maybe that's a tad bit of an exaggeration. My 747 never gave me nearly as much trouble.