Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Tuesday Tunes

This is one of our classic favorite songs from the early days of our relationship. Forever if Blue Jeans is a solid mid tempo rocker which makes it perfect for all ages to boogie down. There are also a lot of awful covers of it on youtube. So, you know, if you're lookin' to waste some time...

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Tuesday Tunes

You could argue that this isn't Kurtis Blow's best song (but you'd be wrong). This is the song that sold me on his music. David sang Takin' Care of Business at a karaoke night in this style a few years ago and it was a real hit. I'd recommend singing it in this fashion to anyone trying to look cool and impress the ladies.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Jennie's Creativity Tips

I'm sure you've all had instances when you feel like your creativity has taken a hike. Sometimes my creativity sneaks off in the darkness of night and makes me feel like I am the least crafty person in the world. When I feel like I'll never have another good idea (and the world as I know it is coming to an end), these are the things I do for creative motivation. I hope they can help you as much as they help me!
  1. Eat as much junk food as possible. I'm talkin' anything and everything you can get your hands on. Stale cookies? Perfect. Chocolate chips straight from the bag? Yes. Candies that you don't really like? Absolutely.
  2. Sing songs very loudly and with the wrong lyrics. I prefer to do this when someone that is a real lyric stickler is in the room. Sing your heart out! Serenade that special someone.
  3. Whatever you do, don't look up your successful classmates on any social media platform. Stay as far away from Facebook as possible.
  4. Go to your spouse, friend, mom, or whoever is near you at the time. Whine and complain until they cave and start saying things that boost your ego.
  5. If all else fails, curl up in the fetal position on the couch and watch television until your mind goes numb. Put off all your creative projects until tomorrow.

You're a good listener, Mr. Cake.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Some Good Stuff

Some good stuff

Even the dogs found some good stuff this week! They have been so happy since they found this old, ratty frisbee in the yard. (We think it was thrown over by one of our neighbors, thanks neighbors.) All they want lately is to is be outside fighting over it.
Here's the good stuff we found:

-Ever wonder what the insides of a flower look like?
-We wish we could find something this cool in our attic!
-The awesome Megan Mulally.
-Hard to beat Kodachrome.
-Which brings to mind that we need to see this sometime.
-In case you need something to help with your Downton Abbey withdrawl.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Jennie Sans

You may know the feeling: cycling through a list of fonts in your preferred design program, trying to find the perfect one. Eventually, your eyes cross and words lose all meaning. Many designers solve this by sticking to a handful of dependable typefaces. I've certainly been moving in that direction, favoring the classic transitional serif Baskerville, which I find is both elegant and versatile. Helvetica is popular for a reason, and I count myself among its admirers. Still, certain projects require a deviation from the stand-bys. Developing the identity for Terrier Mountain is one such instance.

I knew I wanted to strike a casual, handmade feeling with the type, but I am often let down by handwriting fonts. I played with a slab serif for a while (the ubiquitous Archer, known as the Martha Stewart Living font, is a slab serif), which was nice. But I wanted something different. One day, I asked Jennie, whose handwriting I've always envied, to draw some letterforms for me. The result is a work-in-progress typeface I'm calling, fittingly enough, "Jennie Sans."

The Jennie Sans

I like where it's heading, and though there's refining to be done, I'm going to live with it for a while, try it in various layouts, and see how it all comes together. I want to maintain some of the quirky forms, so it's never going to be perfectly polished. I'm always up for constructive criticism, here or at Flickr, where I post works-in-progress.

One of my greatest pleasures in going back to school has been the opportunity to dive head-first into the history of typography and develop a deeper appreciation for the myriad styles that have evolved over the last half-millennium. It's fun to discern subtle variations in typefaces and see how they play out in practice. And it's always exciting to find a type that clicks into a design to make it come alive and more strongly communicate its message. I think Jennie Sans does the trick here!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Tuesday Tunes

This song has become our jam lately for some reason. Go ahead and have a listen and bust out a dougie or two. Also there is the added bonus of Barack Obama doing the dougie on Ellen (faked, of course). Full disclosure: David and I have stolen all of our best dance moves from the Obamas.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Maple Syrup Festival 2012

This weekend, Jennie and I sojourned across the hills of southern Indiana to the outskirts of Salem, where the Goering family hosts an annual Maple Syrup Festival. This was our fifth visit since moving to Bloomington in 2004. This was the first year I was able to find it without asking for directions, though we had our new androids at the ready if I got turned around in Salem.

Maple Syrup Festival
The line of hungry festival goers trying to decide between pancakes, waffles, barbecue chicken, or pulled pork.

Though the fest's popularity has increased since we first went, it's still a family-run operation. They've tightened up a few things to accommodate the larger crowds. It's not all you can eat anymore - but how many times do you need to get a refill on waffles or pancakes loaded with syrup, ice cream, whipped cream and fruit? The popular tomahawk throw is also adequately supervised now.

Maple Syrup Festival
A view of the grounds from the creek running beside them.

The festival takes place right next to the sugarbush where Leanne and Michael Goering produce their syrup, which is a dark, rich flavor due to the high mineral content in the soil. It's a little less sweet than lighter syrups, but I think it makes it even better. Seriously, once you get a taste of the real thing, you cannot go back to the "maple flavored" stuff. Jennie and I  are really frugal people, but we've found that willingness to spend a bit more on things like maple syrup or spices improves the quality of our meals exponentially.

The festival grounds are sprinkled with tents where vendors sell locally made foodstuffs (we bought a jar of amazing spicy mustard from Localfolks Foods and it's raised our veggie burger game a lot), candles, baskets and the like. A local ranch also brings out angola goats and an alpaca who gamely puts up with the gawkers and photographers.


A local member of the Wyandotte tribe, Crooked Paw, is on hand to give demonstrations of the "stone age method" of making maple sugar, using a radically scaled-down version of a pre-Columbian sugar-producing operation (he uses a small log rather than a titanic forty- or fifty-footer a tribe would need to provide for everyone). He fills a cavity in the log with hot maple sap, partially cooked down to speed up the process, and proceeds to boil it down using large chunks of granite which have been heated in a fire. Stone Age Maple Sugar Production Demo
Crooked Paw fills the log with sap.

Stone Age Maple Sugar Production Demo
Granite is heated in a fire to boil the sap.

Stone Age Maple Sugar Production Demo
Crooked Paw deftly immerses the stone in the sap.

Stone Age Maple Sugar Production Demo
The sap starts to bubblin'...

Stone Age Maple Sugar Production Demo
...and steamin'...

Stone Age Maple Sugar Production Demo
...until the stones are removed and the sugar crystallizes. Alternately, Crooked Paw said that sphagnum moss can be used to scoop out sap.

Taking place the last weekend of February and first weekend in March, there are some wild cards. Weather can be iffy - even this year, when La NiƱa gave us an unseasonably warm February, last Saturday was really chilly. But luckily, the ground wasn't soggy with snowmelt or rain this year. But the remoteness of the spot and the cold weather only add to the experience. This festival just wouldn't be the same in middle of summer. You need to be bundled up against the chill to really appreciate that warm syrup, and it makes you feel some small bit of empathy for the Native Americans, pioneers, and farmers for whom maple sugar must have been an even more precious treat.

One thing we've learned is that when we go to the festival, we're not going to be super-productive later in the day. After gorging on mapley goodness and driving an hour and a half back to Bloomington, it's nap-time, so it's best to not expect to get work done. But once that's over, it's time to start figuring out how we want to use up that pint of Grade B Dark syrup throughout the year.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Some Good Stuff

Some good stuff


David and I have a big weekend ahead of us. There will hopefully be lots of printing, waffle eating, and unsupervised tomahawk throwing. If you don't have an exciting weekend planned, we've collected a few links for your internet browsing pleasure.

-If you're looking for the creepiest cat pictures on the internet, I think we can help you out.
-Dirk does not have the touch. Sorry Dirk, you just don't. What I'm saying is, you're a crummy singer.
-A cool ad for that staple of the lunchpail, good ol' white bread.
-Project Gutenberg, bless your heart.
-I really hope Aziz Ansari treated himself on his birthday this week! And ate plenty of chicky chicky parm parm.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

New Design: Exploring Portland's Natural Areas

This was a fun project. After following his blog for some months, I got to meet science historian Michael Barton at the ScienceOnline 2011 conference. He's a really nice fellow, and we keep in touch via Facebook and Twitter. It's easy to see how dedicated a parent he is by following along with the outdoor adventures he has with his son, Patrick, at his blog Exploring Portland's Natural Areas. As a fellow evolution geek, I also appreciate his work on Darwin scholarship at the Dispersal of Darwin.

Michael and I had a brief email exchange last fall in which he wrote about some graphic ideas he had to promote the Nature Play movement. Bringing children into nature is something I wholeheartedly believe in, so I was thrilled to design something for him. After much hemming, hawing, and doodling, a strong graphic idea hit me. Many of my own memorable moments in nature had to do with little things: finding a beautiful fungus, coming face to face with a box turtle when cresting a ridge in Morgan-Monroe State Forest. Or the time I was captivated by a brilliant blue ribbon winding through blades of grass, followed it, and welcomed a Five-Lined Skink into the palm of my hand. One of Michael's ideas was a child with a magnifying glass, but none of my attempts in this direction worked. That day with that skink was stuck in my mind, though, so I decided to bring focus tightly on the connection between child and environment.

Nature Play graphic 2

Since Michael writes about his local adventures, I placed the silhouette within the shape of the state of Oregon. You can see it in his blog header, which incorporates the classic typeface Clarendon to evoke the signage of the National Park Service. I had strong memories of visiting parks as a child. Since starting my studies, I've taken every chance I can to hone my ability to communicate efficiently: designs that work well with a minimum number of elements. This was one of the most satisfying projects I've done in the last year, and the fact that it's for a good cause, well, that's the mashed potatoes and the gravy.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Tuesday Tunes

This song is one that I used to listen to a lot my first semester at college. I had the record, Bridge Over Troubled Water, and a wonky old record player that was a hand-me-down from my brother. The record player played a little slow and so to this day I imagine The Only Living Boy In New York a lot different in my head. But I think it is a great song slow or at it's intended speed.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Tuesday Tunes

Here's a lovely song for your Valentine's Day listening pleasure. The Troggs really know how to sweet talk a lady.

Also, if you enjoy Bill Nighy as much as we do, you might like this version of the song. It definitely deserves a spot on your holiday playlist.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Tuesday Tunes

We're going to start posting some tunes for you to listen to on Tuesdays. We like to call it tunesday. Dorky? Yes. Awesome? Yes, indeed. So, we'd like to start off with a bang (pun intended). This is a song that we entered in our local oldies station's "That's Our Song Contest." We really hope we win and everyone can cringe and giggle a little when it is announced on the radio. Oh and this video is of a middle-aged man in a sweatervest playing acoustic guitar in his kitchen. We feel this is the best video of this song ever made.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Ring Ring!

Well, David and I have finally broken down and purchased new phones. You know, the smart kind. So, in honor of this special occassion here's... ABBA!

I probably sound more like this when I sing along though...

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Chunky toon animals!

Meet Mr. Gwumbles, a grizzly bear who is, objectively speaking, awesome.

Mr. Gwumbles

Jennie just cut the linoleum to print this guy in two colors. I hope that it comes out - we wanted it to be small enough for a roughly 3" x 5" note card, which meant some very fine detail.

I've got a bit of a dinosaur problem, so I was driven to render a feathered dinosaur called Caudipteryx in this style, which is totally new to me. I'm digging it!


Mr. Gwumbles got his name from when our dog, Mitzie, was growling for some reason or another the other night and Jennie took the chance - as she often does - to tease her with a baby voice. "Ooooh! Miss gwuff gwumbles is mad!"

Jennie hates baby talk, except for when she's teasing Mitz. It's a double standard, but then we all know that two standards are better than one.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Sneak Peek: Indiana University's MFA catalog 2012

One of the nifty opportunities I've come across in my MFA career is the chance to design the catalog for the Henry Radford Hope School of Fine Arts' 2012 MFA class. I presented three ideas to the committee in charge of the publication last week, and based on that meeting, they picked their two favorites. I got the final decision today, and I'm pretty pleased about it.

Henry Radford Hope School of Fine Arts MFA Catalog 2012

I recently shared a bushel of sketchpad ideas at Flickr, and this was present in a slightly different form. I don't do a ton of custom letterforms, but as I've been fairly typographically obsessed for the last year or so, many of my better ideas sprung from the sheer pleasure of playing with the letters M, F, A and seeing what interesting shapes I could conjure. Looking back at the last few years, I wanted something that differed quite a bit. In color palette, it's close to what my friend (and graduating MFA) Gatis created two years ago. The big "MFA" staring from the front seems to have my flavor in it. I've been favoring pure, flat color lately, departing from a long period of experimenting with blending modes and textures in photoshop. The typeface accompanying the artwork is U-bahn by Manfred Klein.

Next, I'll be laying out the rest of the book, which is a 10" x 8" landscape format, to be printed by World Arts in nearby Spencer, IN. I'll be sure to share photos of the final product here.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Illustration: Crikey the Turkey Vulture


On my first visit to the Indiana Raptor Center's Nashville HQ, I met Crikey, a turkey vulture. Turkey vultures are some of my favorite birds, so pretty soon I started illustrating her. Part of an ever growing series of birds, dino-birds, and bird-dinos.