Okay, “hours” might be an exaggeration, but seriously. Have you ever written and re-written something, trying to make it look really good, but definitely hand-written? I thought I’d throw together a little quote poster. I saw one in a book I was given recently: Fifty Years of Illustration by Lawrence Zeegen and Caroline Roberts. It was by artist/illustrator Robert Massin. It intrigued me. (I started searching for it online so I could share, but it’s not coming up immediately and I don’t have the time to keep looking right now.) Anyway, I wrote the text over and over and over and was never satisfied. In fact, I gave up and then tried again days later, er… today that would be. So finally, in frustration, I just wrote and scribbled and wrote and scribbled. Not sure if it’s a look I’ll go for in the future, but it certainly is a breath of fresh air after what I’d been aiming for.
Two things: writing like you think writing is supposed to be and creating artwork like you think it’s supposed to look. It is very hard to catch yourself being inauthentic, because really, where is the line between trying to make it good and making it in your own way? I suppose some people call this your voice or, in the case of visuals, your style. That is a very complicated thing, isn’t it? Because when we share what really sounds like us, or what really comes from us visually, it is imperfect, just like we are. Who wants to show how imperfect they are? And yet, I’m just beginning to see that those imperfections are what makes it interesting and unique and here we are struggling and struggling to make things perfect before we share our work with others.
I don’t have an answer as to when to share. I mean, there is that quote —who said it?— about a painting never actually being finished, but just stopping in interesting places. I’m beginning to understand this.
Now design —that’s a different thing. Or is it?
I cleaned up my drawing table and have a stack of cut-up Panera boxes from a work lunch a while back. (I hate the amount of garbage and waste one lunch can produce.) I’ve decided to assign some parameter or limit to what I’ll create on them. The parameter is there has to be a man and a woman. That’s all. Not having some parameter before is why this stack of blank cardboard has been sitting here so long.
So, make and move on. And don’t think.
This is called “Women Point the Way to the Future.” (Funny how sometimes it’s very clear what the title is. This title was just there in my head when I finished. Most of my pieces have no titles unless I force one onto them.)
Since I’ve only ever posted pictures of my finished stamped shirts, I thought perhaps this time I’d get a few photos as I worked on the latest one. The process is simple: sketch out and then carve the stamp, roll out some fabric ink, and have at it. Well, okay, on this project I also made a makeshift paper stencil for the shirt.
I was lucky this spring break: I got to spend some time in Portland, Oregon. On the way there, I had a layover in Los Angeles. Once back in my town, I went to my favorite coffee shop. Although I didn’t do nearly as much drawing as I’d have liked, it was a good break and I have these two sketches from the beginning of the week and the end.
As always, excuse the poor quality of the image. I take these photos with my imperfect camera in my imperfectly lighted studio.
I would say that I’m about the most non-political person around. I really don’t like spending time on the news and I hate politics and greedy, power-hungry people. But it’s hard to ignore politics these days. My fear and outrage are strong enough that I thought I should do something through art. I didn’t really know what to do, so I just started with an image of a certain public figure that’s been in the news a lot.
This past week a friend said she’d like to print up some bumper stickers to hand out to friends. I volunteered to design it. Turns out, it was good typography practice. I had several different versions, but there was a clear winner in the end. Before designing my own, I never gave much thought to bumper sticker design. Now I’ll be able to appreciate their good design as well as their messages.
I’ve been watching Graphic Design Tips & Tricks by John McWade on lynda.com. It’s pretty cool to hear him talk about what works and what doesn’t and why. Inspired by his video on just using typography, I made this for my daughter whose show choir, Amplitude, was going to their first competition this past weekend.
I printed it on card stock and stuck the postcard-sized message along with a personal note inside her shoe so she’d get it just before they performed. It looked so good, neither of my daughters guessed that I was the designer. They thought I just happened to find the perfect postcard in the store for the occasion!
For a little practice, I decided to design a new book cover for my all-time favorite book, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith. Here’s what I came up with, after many ideas that quickly became too busy and complicated.
To be honest, I just changed it again after seeing how it looked on my blog. I’ve found that it’s very helpful to see it in different sizes and contexts.