Saturday, June 28, 2008


I've spent a bunch of time over break practicing my bookmaking skills. I'm just about ready to move on from this technique and try something new...but here's the result of hours of fun:

I just discovered that the art store up the street from me has AMAZING handmade paper...hadn't seen it before because it's all in drawers unlike the other two stores where it's all out to see. Plus, when I was there yesterday, they were playing (and singing to) the soundtrack from Avenue Q. Very cool and helpful bunch up there. It's a smaller store but I've grown to prefer it for certain things... like friendly customer service.

I made this book for 4th quarter "stuff":

I picked up Daniel Pink's book A Whole New Mind (REQUIRED READING FOR ANYONE, ESPECIALLY CREATIVES LIKE YOU AND ME)and he has a TON of excellent ideas to incorporate into your everyday design life and all of them require a design notebook... so I figured I'd be more likely to write if I liked my blank book. Worth a try, right?

The others will be gifts... I raided a used bookstore's dollar rack and got a BUNCH of old books to cut up and re-use...very cool type, illustrations and textures. Babar wasn't really a favorite book when I was little but the elephants made a wonderful book cover.

And who doesn't love an itty bitty tiny book? This one is 3" tall.

Bookmaking rocks!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Sylvia, Weeks 2-3

So I don't quite recall how it all went down after that first week, it was quite a blur...but after class the second week where we were met with, "I don't know HOW ya'll can LIVE with yourselves," and "What did all those undergraduate schools TEACH you?" and "I feel so bad for ya'll spending all that money on colleges that didn't teach you how to do research."... we stumbled out of the classroom, licking our wounds and started revising all that we'd worked on. I think the idea was to take our best illustrations and finalize them at 6" x 9" and then take them to Kinkos to get them enlarged to 24" x 36" and printed. Once you blow up a piece that much, there are glaring holes of blank space that need filling in so we addressed those problems using more black marker on the kinkos printouts...always getting closer to the final.

The final. The final was to be a recreation of the 24" x 36 printout only the re-creation needed to be made entirely out of cut paper. NO pens, no markers. At least 11 different shades of gray, 5 shades of black, 5 shades of white. No area on the piece could have more than 3 layers of paper. There needed to be areas where there were cuts to reveal something else. And the piece would be an advertisement for some sort of attraction/resort/event so we had to decide what that would be. And create the whole thing. In a week.

Since we had a true-to-size printout to start with, Sylvia suggested to all of us that we try tracing paper...trace the print-out with a soft pencil, then flip it over and trace it onto the BACK of all the gray/black/white paper that we intended to cut out with a harder pencil. Then once we cut and flip, the image would be right reading.

It took FOR-EVER. But the result was quite stunning and apart from the fact that I couldn't move my hand for a few days after using an exacto knife for 48 hours straight, I was pretty happy with my creation.

But now it was week 3. We all had revisions to make to our cut-paper posters but for the most part they were done. Wasn't this the hard part? But we had 6 more weeks to go? What next?

We'd only just gotten started. Sylvia's class, I would learn from a wise upper quarter student, is just like drinking from a firehose.

We waited for the blast...and week 4 offered it up...

Oh, and for some added entertainment, you can check out "Sylvia's Song" written by a student 5 or 6 quarters ago... It's the 5th video down on the left side.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Back to October

OK, so I'm going to try and start from the beginning of my first quarter so that there's continuity for you, my readers, but also so I can look back when it's all done and see the (hopeful) progression of my mad design skillz. Make sense? Good.

So the induction to Portfolio Center starts with Sylvia's Design Aesthetics class. Sylvia is that incredible teacher that you've all had...the one you absolutely love but absolutely hate until all your work is done. The first week she gave us about 30 hours of work. I thought, at the time, that I had gotten myself in over my head. In the end, I learned more from Sylvia than just about any teacher I've had so far. We've all been begging for her to teach another higher level class but so far to no avail. She's the designated indoctrinator (if that's a word.) Surviving Sylvia's class is a rite of passage...and leaves you feeling like you can survive just about anything. Nothing seems scary after Sylvia.

So on the first day, we drew pieces of paper out of a cup to learn what animal we'd be working with. Then Syl had us count off by 4s and assigned each group a "civilization." My animal was an exotic sheep (fairly open ended as to which exotic sheep to choose) and my civilization was the Absaroke or Crow Indian Tribe of the Central Plains (primarily Montana).

The drill for the first week was to draw our animal (I think there were about 7 animals for 14 of us - some overlap) in black marker/ink 100 times – in 2"x3" thumbnails – in the style of our civilization. Here are my 100 (or so) thumbnails:

From those, we chose the 33 we liked best and drew rough roughs @4"x6". Here are a few of the better ones:

From those 33, we chose the 11 best and drew roughs @6"x9", and from those we drew 3 tight comps at 12"x18." Here are the three 12" x 18"s:

So if you're following along with the math, that's 100+33+11+3=147 illustrations. OY. Before even getting started on this, we had to make two lists: the first was 100 facts about our animal, the second, 100 facts about our civilization... so that we could actually draw our animal, in the style that our civilization might draw it.

That was week 1. I pulled my first all-nighter that week...even after vowing that I would never. Sylvia's wrath inspires fear.

Week 2 coming up...

Sunday, June 15, 2008

tap tap tap...

Is this working? OK, bear with me while I get my act together... this dual blog thing is a bit of a hassle.

Here's a page from a book I wrote and illustrated last quarter. More to come SOON!