Snow Fun in May

Something I find interesting about my job, and really any job in marketing or where you have to plan far ahead, is that I am designing for events in December. It’s May and I’m sitting behind my desk trying to brand Snow Fun Blood Drives. What’s ironic is that the weather has been moody each time I’ve worked on this project. The weather wants to be sympathetic.

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These are the options I am sending to the client. A decent variety. This client is particularly difficult and I am providing so many options to hopefully satiate their need for ownership. Which they should feel. It makes sense. So hopefully they are satisfied with at least one of these options.

It’s interesting that this morning I deleted Option 4 and then decided to throw it back in just because. And every person on my team really like it. Made it to the final round. Interesting how that works. I may have just deleted it because it was the first one I designed. Who knows. I actually presented 17 options to my team and they narrowed them down to 6. Kind of sucked that my art director thought I grabbed images from the Internet to make up the last two options. She suggested I illustrate them all, which is what I did. I put a lot of time into drawing those images, scanning them, and then penning them in Illustrator. They are all original vectors. Can’t always satisfy everyone though. She only slightly contributes to my misanthropy.

At any rate, I’m super glad to have had so much time to work on this, and even though I just planted my garden I think head Snow Fun graphics turned out pretty damn good. I’m excited to hear what the clients think! Wish me luck!

On being a “pretty” designer

 

Hmmm…today I received some feedback and I love positivity around my work, but sometimes the choice of adjectives is severely lacking. Yes, I am female. Yes, I am sometimes trendy. But come on, does being female really warrant the adjectives of “cute” “pretty” and “adorable” to be applied to my designs. Yes yes yes, I realize I shouldn’t be complaining since it is positive feedback and that can be hard to come by around here. And yes, the paper itself is pretty; pearlescent paper is. But I get these adjectives for EVERY design I do. Am I really a pretty designer? Is my work really deserving of these “kitten-describing” adjectives? Or is it because I am a female? I would just like, at some point in time, to have a different adjective. I have heard these same adjectives since I was in college and nearly half of a decade later I would like to hear something different. That may require a different approach to my design work, different material, different content. But it is a goal of mine for 2012 to have my designs require a different adjective to be applied to them. The current adjectives seem so superficial and I can do better. At least I hope I can. If not, I will have to bow down to the adjectives and just accept that is the kind of designer I am. A pretty one.

 

A "pretty" design

 

But what makes a pretty design? I feel like my designs have varied quite a bit but I still get the same responses. Here is a list of things I think contribute to me being a “pretty” designer:

    • Color choices. I guess this one could be obvious, though I was told my black, white and red design was pretty. Some color combinations are just pretty.
    • Content.I work for a non-profit company that revolves around blood/blood product transfusions and saving lives. While we could definitely go to the dark, dramatic and intense side of this (and I always want to), the boss-people tend to shy away from that and always want to make the content soft. They go for the heart-tug and as a result my designs reflect that.
    • Images. While similar to content, the images we choose can be pretty as well. See the content section for why my images may be considered “pretty”.
    • Paper or background.I love paper for this reason. It really can make a design come to life. The paper I chose for my most recent event program was a gold pearlescent for the cover and a champagne pearlescent for the text. Though flooded with color, this really makes the whole program shimmer a bit. It is definitely pretty and I am okay with this adjective here. (I’m still struggling with adorable though). The program is all about light and depicts candles, lamps, lanterns and the such and to have it shimmer really brings the vibrancy to life. On the web, a background color or texture can act in a similar way.


What else makes a design pretty? Are you a pretty designer? Am I the only one who seems annoyed and plagued to forever receive these types of adjectives? What are the adjectives commonly applied to your designs?

Fear of the darker parts of the soul

Yoga mama  posted this quote:

 

We have a fear of facing ourselves. That is the obstacle. Experiencing the innermost core of our existence is very embarrassing to a lot of people. A lot of people turn to something that they hope will liberate them without their having to face themselves. That is impossible. We can’t do that. We have to be honest with ourselves. We have to see our gut, our excrement, our most undesirable parts. We have to see them. That is the foundation of warriorship, basically speaking. Whatever is there, we have to face it, we have to look at it, study it, work with it and practice meditation with it.

Chogyam Trungpa

 

 

I speak purely from myself here, but I find that when I fear facing myself, it’s not because I don’t want to acknowledge my undesirable parts. I am fully aware of these chunks of myself that are on constant display for the world. I lament on them, they consume me. I am in constant self-reflection attempting to “better” my self, and yet find I fear success. I fear being able to do something well. I fear my true artistic power. I opened my closet last night and realized I have a ton of art materials. I have some dating back to my first college class ages ago. What this tells me though, is that I have a lot of materials I am not using. My friend, has one book and a few watercolors and one paintbrush. Maybe a set of pastels. But he has portfolio upon portfolio upon portfolio of work. He sits down and commits himself to his art. He does not fear it. He knows he has talent and shares it with the world. Me? I’m so scared of trying that I am not even sure what my preferred medium is! My place is a disaster area so I am constantly cleaning. This is really just a defense mechanism to help me avoid sitting down and doing art. I even have am a graphic designer for a company and yet fear graphic design when I get home.

 

How do you get over your graphic design fears? I sit down in front of my computer, excited, inspired, millions of ideas filling my head. And POOF! all gone the minute I open Illustrator or Photoshop. And then I find myself wondering what my idea was and what program should I be doing it in. I will fail if I cannot figure out how to focus and not fear my creative energy. If you do things, things get done. And I am not getting anything done b/c I fear doing things.

 

 

Another example is bakasana, though this is a successful example (but I hope it doesn’t take me as long to get over my artist fear). For a decade, I couldn’t do bakasana. This was totally my water break. I couldn’t even try for the longest time. Well, that’s not true. The first time I was introduced to bakasana, I was tricked into doing it. Clever yoga instructor. She led the class through the movements step-by-step without us any the wiser of what we were moving into. Place your hands on the ground, shoulder distance apart. Start to really bend at your elbows finding a drishti slightly in front of you. Place your knees on the back of your triceps and then lift your feet and bring the big toe mounds to touch. I was in bakasana without even realizing it. And I was soaring. I was confident and zestful. But when I tried to do it again I couldn’t. I tumbled forward. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t do it. I showed my friend what I was trying to do, someone who had never done yoga before, and she gracefully moved into bakasana with ease.

 

A decade later I am only once again experiencing the pleasures of bakasana and can nearly hold it for five breathes. Of course, now there is eka pada galavasana or eka pada bakasana. There’s always something new to try and something new to experience.

 

But, to bring this back to the beginning quote, it isn’t my fear of the darker parts of my soul that inhibit my ability to accomplish, I’m aware of the darker parts. In fact, my issue is that I am so aware and so deep in them, that I fear the brighter, more vital parts. The parts of power, the parts of graceful poise. I would like to not fear success. I would like to actualize the artist power I feel slumbering inside of me. I’m just not always sure how.

A lack in artistic superfocus

It’s a goal of mine to produce more artwork. I continuously peruse the internet and see amazing pieces and get quite envious that I am not creating amazing artwork. Granted, I think my designs are great for what they are and for the conservative company I design for, but they aren’t what I see everywhere else. I’m the type of designer that gets lost clicking on links on twitter to all the “20 amazing…” “Inspiration of the day…” and whatnot. I click from link to link to link sinking further and further into my chair of inadequacy. I literally can spend hours just checking out other people’s stuff and feeling like the world’s worst designer since I am not as accomplished, and I don’t produce as much work and as much quality work as everyone else.

 

And let me tell you, I’ve been doing this for years.

 

I had a birthday a couple of weeks ago, and I do as I always do and reflected and meditated on the current state of my life. And obviously I was less than impressed with as much time as I waste in a day. I was quite disgusted in fact. So I decided that I would stop spending so much time looking at others’ work and start creating my own. Even if it’s crap to begin with…who cares? At least I am creating and trying to grow my skills instead of just wishing I was.

 

I was super stoked for the next week and all I was going to accomplish. And then that week happened, and I was decently busy at work and home and did absolutely nothing. I had so many projects planned for this weekend and nearly none of them happened. My apartment was so hot I could barely stay there let alone be productive. Not a great excuse. I know. But at the time it made perfect sense. The heat yanked all my energy from me and placed me in a dreary haze.

I was going to bring in an oil pastel and photoshop the crap out of it.

So today was going to be the day! I brought a picture of an oil pastel I had done last month thinking I could photoshop the crap out of it. And I actually started it! I was super impressed with myself. And then I had some work to do and then I saw all these amazing links on Twitter I just had to click on and articles to read and suddenly, I was back into the same old routine. And worse, I decided to blog about it instead of just opening photoshop back up and continuing to work on it. I think I am ultimately still afraid of producing the crap, even though I know I shouldn’t care. One of the articles my lack of focus brought me to was on Tiny Buddha. And I realized, that in a way, I was clinging to the want of perfection the first time I produced something. Ultimately, I lack patience and focus and just want to be good right away. It sounds elitist, really. To want to be instantly good without putting the time and dedication into it. It’s a bit humiliating to admit that, but it’s true. I’m lazy and want to be good…now. I want to produce epic pieces of work and I’m not. Mainly because I am not even trying. It does me absolutely no good to bookmark a ton of tutorials if I’m not going to do them. If I’m going to cling to the fear and the lack of focus that prevents me from trying them. It’s literally insane to expect myself to get better without even practicing or putting time into my art.

 

And while I was still bouncing around the internet, I came across this article. And I was blown away by the obvious and yet somewhat elusive idea of focus. I mean, I do think Satya speaks to more than just mental focus, although that is part of it. But an energetic focus…your entire self being focused.

Superfocus is that rare state of being, in which whatever you focus your attention on achieving gets completed with near effortlessness. In the example of writing, as in creating this post, it’s as if a divine essence is channeled through you, and the output flows easily and without resistance. ~ Satya

I’ve never been that focused before. Well, maybe I have but lacked the awareness to bring it to the forefront of my memories right now. And you know, being a  yogi teachers always talk about setting your intentions and all that. And I normally can’t even focus on one idea so end up without one. Come to think of it, that should be another goal of mine, to set intentions in my yoga classes so aid me in setting life intentions. Setting intentions/focus’s during meditation instead of just trying to quiet my mind and focus on the nature sounds I downloaded to my iPhone. At any rate, to be a channel to the divine…well that just sounds blissful. If I can become that, me and my ego don’t even matter. If I can superfocus, then I can create.

 

So now my focus is superfocus…hopefully by the end of the week something will have come from the oil pastel I want to photoshop. And hopefully I’ll start creating epic work that inspire other people.

 

Cheers!

Metal Monday Music album covers

It’s been a while since I posted some metal album covers on here. But since I just bought a new 160gb iPod and am in the process of quality checking my music, I thought I would do another album post. I am finally to the ‘B’s’ in accumulating proper album covers, so this will be a long process for me. But I am looking forward to it.

Vader XXV

 

Moonspell: Under Satanae

 

Nightwish: Once

 

My Dying Bride: For Lies I Sire

 

 

A couple design options for an event

My job consists of designing invites, signs and programs for the events my company holds, amongst other things of course. But these projects are a few of my favorites. They really provide me with the opportunity to explore new design approaches and get creative. I go through the whole process of sketching out ideas first. It feels good to be able to go outside with my iPod and sketch. I let my intuition flow and detail whatever comes to mind. This particular event is surrounding an individual, so the first step was finding out about this person so that the theme could relate to them. All the details I received were that she is a quiet lady who lives in the mountains and likes to read and needlepoint. Here are some of my sketches:

 

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Needlepoint idea sketches

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Book, life journey related sketches

Two of these options were chosen. The next steps for me were to commit the chosen ideas to the digital environment. This helps the rest of my team (and myself) see what they would actually look like. The transition from pencil sketches to digital sketches often surprises people. I usually get an, Oh! I had no idea it was going to be so pretty, or Oh! I had no idea it was going to look like that! Now, I don’t know if that says something about my sketches, or that the digital environment really brings something to life, especially with color, that alters someone’s opinion so much. Here are the options in the digital environment:

 

Needlepoint inside option.

 

Needlepoint outside option

 

Book option outside

 

I wasn’t sure how they were going to turn out, myself. Especially the needlepoint options. But I am glad to say I think they turned out relatively well. And for a conservative company, I think they are decently innovative and cool-looking. The book option was chosen so I will be moving forward with that idea for this event, but since it was such a close tie in votes, I think the needlepoint idea may become the holiday card later this September/November.

 

Overall, I am pleased with these options and am excited to see how the book option continues to play out.

Trying Tuesday: Musical Graphic Image

I am playing around with this image currently of the guitar player in Gritt Hitter. I like the colors, the textures and the words…not sure if it is completely cohesive yet. Thoughts?

Arch of Gritt Hitter

 

So I changed up the image a bit: lightened up the background changed the color of some of the words…Here’s the new image:

Arch of Gritt Hitter

Metal Album Monday: 05/23/11

There are so many brilliant artists out there designing album artwork. It’s an arena I would love to get into and as I hone my digital artist skills I look to what I love for inspiration and encouragement.

Monstrocity: Spiritual Apocalypse
Artwork done by: Conquest Music

Since this last Saturday was supposed to be the apocalypse and the world was supposed to be consumed by zombies by now, I thought beginning with Monstrocity’s Spiritual Apocalypse would be a great start. But where do you begin with such an image? The colors? The blend of darks and lights really enhances the piece, drawing you in to the brilliance flamed at the head of the seated man, perhaps at the Sahasrara Charkra, or the sun at the center of the universe, maybe indicating simply the mind on fire, though the zen meditative posture of the man, an archetypal image representing the spiritual and the enlightened, may suggest that perhaps he is at piece and that the head is burning with the collective connection of the divine. The yellow surrounding the archetypal zen man is either is aura, or the burning off of spirituality.  The texture of the piece perhaps suggests the latter. Great texture by the way. Seems like the artist really looked at the details to make sure that the texture blended well and that the shadows were correct. Really though, it’s the solar system that really makes this piece for me. A zen man is a basic archetype, the flaming head is pretty cool, but placing those elements within the context of a perspective of the solar system is what I am really digging on.

Monstrocity: Spiritual Apocalypse
Monstrocity: Spiritual Apocalypse album artwork

 

Echoes of Eternity: As Shadows Burn
Artist: unsure

An alternative and less zen experience of the merging of fire and humanity. In the Monstrocity artwork, the fire seemed to be content and connecting, in this album cover, it is destructive. The image seems to be superimposed on a leaf texture that seems to want to balance out the flames. I’m not quite sure if I think it is successful, but I understand why it was placed there. The quietness of the leaf doesn’t seem to actually balance the sparks from the flame, but then, that says something in and of itself, so there could be some artistic intent in that realm. additionally, the seemingly stone face is flanked by two natural elements.  Something I found interesting about this piece too, is that the right side of the face seems to suggest that the eye had been crying and it was the salt from the tears that had burned off the epidermis flesh. The colors are great, typical, but seem to work.

Echoes of Eternity: As Shadows Burn
Echoes of Eternity: As Shadows Burn album cover

Moonspell: Night Eternal
Artwork by Seth Siro Anton

Another archetype: the divine Mary. Hands held as if holding a baby, sitting on a suggested throne, cloaked in the purity of white robes and dress. The deviation of the typical image of Mary begins with the obvious absence of a baby, a head dress of skulls and dead flowers. and a chest plate that has a spine and organs imprinted on it. What is she thinking? Does she look sad? Empty? Or matter of fact that she offered her son to the world and yet it is Satan’s realm? The details on the actual album art are much more in depth and intriguing, here it appears much more subtle and grey, though the overall tone is bleak. Love this artwork.

Moonspell: Night Eternal
Moonspell: Night Eternal album cover

 

Obituary: Cause of Death
Artwork done by Michael Whelan

Whelan is an amazing artist of imaginative realism and an influence in album cover art. He has done work for Selpultura, Soulfly, Cirith Ungol and this amazing piece of work for Obituary. “The cover art of this album was used in an H.P. Lovecraft collection, Bloodcurdling Tales of Horror and the Macabre, and part of it was used in The Tomb and The Doom That Came to Sarnath paperbacks.” (wikipedia). The intensity of this piece leaves me breathless. The glaring use of reds combined with the subtle white of the web and skulls provides a great dynamic. The use of the eye with the moon lit in the background is fierce and haunting. The tree based in skulls, consumed by wailing distorted faces reflects the terror of the web-encased hanging soul. Bloody Brilliant.

Obituary: Cause of Death
Obituary: Cause of Death album artwork

 

Would love you hear your  thoughts on the artwork!

Metal Album Monday 05/16/11

I just love album artwork. Entering into the digital age, it has both enhanced and hurt the album. Enhanced because now artists can turn to technology and turn great pieces out in a more timely manner than waiting for their oil piece to dry and hurt because anybody with Adobe now is producing album covers. Not too mention that few people buy albums any more. But at any rate: here are today’s choices:

Samael album cover
Samael album cover
God Forbid album cover
God Forbid album cover
Dimmu Borgir album cover
Dimmu Borgir album cover
Sepultura album cover
Sepultura album cover