Friday, November 11, 2011

Sneak peak: The "Vulture Thief"

I've begun work on a series of illustrations of birds and bird-like theropod dinosaurs. I'm almost done with Buitreraptor, a little critter from Argentina. It's fairly closely related to the popular Deinonychus, but is smaller and has a greatly elongated snout with tiny little teeth.

Buitreraptor means "vulture thief," named for the fossil site it was found in, La Buitrera, or "vulture roost."

These pieces are going to be exhibited next August here in Bloomington. I'll have more information about that show, which will combine art and science, in the coming months. Right now, I'll be steadily working on these illustrations as I work on my class projects. Never a dull moment.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

New Work: Concert Poster

Concert Poster

Bauhaus! This was fun. On Wednesday, I got an email from my superiors at the IU Art Museum. They needed a concert poster, ASAP. I was given the copy and a Kandinsky woodcut to work with.

The Kandinsky was the guiding light here. It wasn't provided at a terribly high resolution. But as Kandinsky was associated with the Bauhaus school, that was okay. I'd use it as one element on a grid of black and red elements. I used the dull, newsprinty color from the woodcut for the rest of it, which might be why I felt so good about red and black. It's not a choice I make often, for some reason. Some people would think I'm crazy.

This is the sort of thing I'm really enjoying about school: the opportunity to put on different masks, to break out of old habits and impose some rules for myself on projects. Having the time to do the research necessary to pull it off (which I hope I've done here) helps a lot.

Monday, November 7, 2011

This one time, the internet went out...

This weekend was packed with activities. Jennie and I printed up some letterpress prints we'll be using to start up the Etsy shop, and I took a bunch of pictures of those as well as an earlier poster we designed. We also had a serious scare. Our router's adapter went out, so for a while we were without internet access, crossing our fingers that a totally new router wouldn't be necessary. It wasn't, and the world is a safe place for happy people again.

While the DVD extras for the Coen Brothers' Burn After Reading played in the background on Saturday night, I played in Illustrator and made this.

Succor For Tormented Fathers

I made another one of these recently. The text is by me, too. I'm into working fast, working simple, and following the voice in the gut.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Sometimes I'm Unproductive.

I figured, I'll work on some sort of cool graphic of a dessert food for one of Jennie's lino blocks. I've done a cupcake pattern already, and it's nice, but it's not single color. So, I set out to revise it.

1. Changed my basic cupcake icon to one color. Not too difficult.
2. Maybe I should do something other than a cupcake? I start thinking of other options.
3. Cake, pie, candies of various kinds. Yeah, yeah. I need some inspiration. To the internet!
4. I visit Flickr and search for "dessert." Meh.
5. I try Flickr commons instead. Lots of good photos to peruse, but none of close ups.
6. I know, we'll look at old magazines from Google Books. I type "pie" in the advanced search, using the date range 1940-1950.
7. The ads are great. Whoa! There's one for Dove soap with a little lady in a bathtub. She would be awesome all blown out with a chunky half tone.
8. Screengrab, put in Photoshop, blow it up to 12 inches wide, 300dpi, with a color halftone to get rid of the pixelization.
9. What the heck am I going to do with this?
10. I'll write "Take my soap... Please!" Heh.
11. Meh.
12. Browse, browse, browse. Ooh! That's a nice Chevrolet ad. That car would be really cool to Live Trace in Illustrator. I'll have to crop it from that gray cityscape in the background.
13. Screengrab, paste into Photoshop, start masking the car. Color range selection doesn't work well. Try the old magnetic lasso.
14. Ack, these settings are lame.
15. Change the lasso settings, mask the car.
16. What the heck am I going to do with this? I've got so many other important things to do and I don't have a clear idea of why I'd need this dumb car, anyway.
17. This string of decisions would be a funny blog post.
18. Oh! I'll photoshop the car into the bathtub scene, instead of the soap.

I'll let you know how that goes.

Stop being a blog hog

Well, I can't have David hogging this whole blog (even if he is saying really nice things about me).  I have been debating on what to post about for a couple days. Making the first post is always the hardest part.  So, I'm going to talk about a few things that have been on my mind lately.

The biggest thing on my mind lately has been starting up our shop. I've been learning a lot from David.  He has been passing along a lot of what he has been learning everyday through his school projects and from his classmates.  I like to think of this type of education as Grad School Light, all the fun stuff and none of the responsibility. This is normally how I roll anyhow so this type of learning works out well for me. I've been learning about linoblock carving/printing and turning some of my cursive writing into awesome stamps. David has also treated me to a letterpress demo in the typography studio. I've been able to come up with ideas and force David to make them for me (because I have limited artistic talents at this point).

Second, I can't stop thinking about our summer vacation! I know, I know, that is a whole 6 months away!  But really these daydreams are the only things that get me through my day most of the time. We're planning on taking a nice long roadtrip out west. What I'm secretly planning in my head are stops at all the best national parks, roadside attractions, and thrift/vintage stores. So, there have been a lot of Google searches and hanging out on travel sites to find the best deals. Any suggestions for places to visit out west (Arizona, California, New Mexico, Oregon, etc.) will be happily accepted.

Another thing I've been contemplating is getting a hair cut, which is mundane and boring so I won't torture you with my thoughts on that.  I might post a picture of my new look if I don't absolutely hate it.

And I was talking to David yesterday about making a list of goals for 2012. (I was inspired by these lists that people are making on the internets these days) But I thought it would be funny for us each to make a list of 2,012 goals to complete in 2012.  Then, we did the math and realized that we would have to complete about 6 goals a day in order to succeed. Which is really ridiculously funny. We'll see if we come up with a giant list for the year. (Don't hold your breath.)

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Unfortunately Yes

A wee experiment. I shared it with my friend Jared for a zine he's doing. I'll share more info on that when it happens.

unfortunately yes

Poem by me.

The Lammergeier

Photo by John Hill. Kabul, 1973. From Wikipedia.

I am fairly obsessed with birds, I'm afraid. For the last few weeks, I've been doing portraits of some of the raptors I've met at the Indiana Raptor Center in Nashville, Indiana. I think I've found one of my next subjects: The bearded vulture, or Lammergeier. It looks like it's wearing KISS face paint for crying out loud. How can I not illustrate it?

A mighty lammergeier, Simien Mountains
Photo by Scotch Egg, via Flickr.

I'll be unveiling my first set of raptor portraits soon, so don't change that dial. Or at least, don't forget to change it back every once in a while.

Monday, October 31, 2011

It's Toasted!

The "it's toasted" pitch from the Mad Men pilot is a classic moment in the show, perfectly setting the tone for the first season. But while it makes for great drama, and shows how resilient Don Draper can be under pressure, it's not exactly historically accurate. Lucky Strike first used the slogan in 1917, preceeding the moment in the series by over forty years. They weren't even the only coffin nail manufacturer to make use of it, as shown by this 1940's cigarette ad shared by the National Library of New Zealand over the weekend at its Flickr account.

Riverhead Gold tobacco, 1940s?

The museum writes, "Despite the product, we are assured that tobacco is a relatively healthful indulgence (less nicotine!), and the glowing face of the smiling young woman working in the healthy outdoors, reinforces this idea."

And that's not all... Along with this one, the museum uploaded a whole set of old advertisements. Here are some more.

Maltexo for growing greater, 1935

Thomson soda, 1915-1918

Stanley Davis
1927. The artist was Stanley Davis.

For more, check out the rest of the set.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

This is the first post.

Do I have a lot to say at the moment? I guess I have a lot to say at any given moment. But the point of this post isn't to say much other than: We're here. It is October 29, 2011, and my wife Jennie and I are starting up a little design shop. This blog is going to share our inspirations, our process, and a fair amount of shameless promotion for our wares.

I am a first year MFA student in graphic design at Indiana University. I've got about three years of experience designing book covers in the wild west of self-publishing behind me. I love dinosaurs (including their living descendants, of course). I could go on and on about how I like to design, but hopefully the work I share here will do a better job of that.

As for Jennie, she's as whip-smart and sassy a lady as you're ever likely to find. We've been looking forward to doing something like this for a long time, and it's a lot of fun to work with her. I suppose my bias is showing. It's weird to try to write a bio for your wife! It's like, yeah, we know, dude. You kind of have to say awesome things about her. So I'll end there and let her decide if she feels like spilling any more information about herself. I will say that she's working on a set of linoleum blocks based on her cursive writing, which I'm really stoked about.

The name of our shop, Terrier Mountain Studio, came about in a brainstorming session a week or so ago. We live with a Cairn Terrier named Gregory and a terrier-chihuahua mix named Mitzie. We also live on a little hill. "Terrier Mountain" just seemed to work. Since my portfolio site is called Orogenic, which means "mountain building," it also tied the two sites together a bit more. Plus, Terrier Mountain is a bit friendlier to the tongue than "orogenic," which is a bonus.

Chillaxin' ain't easy!
Gregory and Mitzie

How to end the first post? I'll share a sneak peak of an item we'll have in the shop pretty soon. Juncos are some of my favorite birds, and with winter approaching more quickly than I'd like to admit, I'll be seeing little gangs of them at our feeders pretty soon. I've done a bit of refining on this illustration, so we'll just consider this a peek at a work-in-progress.

Dark-Eyed Junco

Thanks for reading! You can follow Jennie and me at Twitter, or follow the shop itself.