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2008 August

Currently Listening to: The Animation Podcast

On 30, Aug 2008 | No Comments | In Animation, Design Life, Inspiration | By Lorraine

courtesy of The Animation Podcast

I’ve been meaning to post this for a long time, but since seeing WALL•E I figured now was the time. Back in 2005, I came across The Animation Podcast via Drawn!, but being the busy college student I was, I only listened to a few episodes. At the beginning of this summer, I rediscovered it and have since listened to all 25+ episodes that I missed. What a treat! If you’re an animation and film history buff like me, then I highly recommend it.

Clay Kaytis interviews some of the biggest and best animators working in the field today. His thought-provoking questions and casual format covers a wide range of topics such as how each animator got their start, to the backstory behind each film, as well as technical topics specific to the animation process and a few prerecorded lectures given by various members of Disney’s 9 Old Men (so far Milt Kahl with the promise of more to come). The approx. hour show kind of reminds me of Robert Osborne, but for animation. Although he’s mainly focused on Disney animators thus far, he’s also interviewed Ray Harryhausen, etc. 

Personally, my favorite episodes are his interviews with James Baxter. I think if I had been born just a decade earlier, I would have been an animator for the very reason Baxter loves hand-drawn so much: the trick of bringing drawings to life is just simply amazing. It was great to hear him discuss his fascination with it, and it really got me interested all over again in the process of it. (Oh, how I wish I could be a professional student! ha!)

Anyways, head over to the site and check it out! And Clay, thanks for such a great program.

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Wednesday’s Weekly Reader: Wish List

Well, this was an unusual week: usually I find several items to share that all relate to each other. This week, I had a hard time categorizing them. So I guess I’ll just have to group things the best I can:

Adding these to my wish list:

  • Neubau Berlin has put both of their popular books in one sweet collection: Neubau Exposition. I might just have to preorder this since I’ve been waiting to get my own copies of Modal and Welt. (via QBN) Update: here’s what they look like…
    Courtesy of NeubauBerlin
  • Also found on QBN was this cool Fabric Clock:
    Courtesy of SUCK UK
    I just really like the customization of it.

Some sites to check out:

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In Animation

By Lorraine

WALL•E: Best Movie of the Summer

On 24, Aug 2008 | No Comments | In Animation, Inspiration | By Lorraine

I’m going to preface this post by admitting that I haven’t seen a lot of the movies out this summer, and I am a huge animation buff…so perhaps I’m biased in declaring this the Best Movie. A close second for me would be The Dark Knight (I love super-hero movies of all sorts). While that one was an amazing film, and the whole cast did an amazing job, on later reflection, I think I liked Christian Bale’s portrayal in Batman Begins better than DK. Not to get too off topic, though, WALL•E left me speechless: which is part of the reason it’s taken me a week to write this. If you haven’t seen it, go!

Wall-E Notebook spotted earlier this summer

What struck me most upon watching WALL•E was how sophisticated it is. The plot is socially conscious without being preachy, and is, in essence, a romantic comedy more along the veins of Chaplin than science fiction. Like The Triplets of Belleville, it relies on visuals to further the story more than dialog. However, in doing so, it manages to bridge the gap between art film and family film. (Although Triplets arguably works as a family film, I would venture that it caters to a slightly older audience.) The character design pays homage to past films, while maintaining its own unique look, and the comedic timing is impeccable. The score was unusual for a Pixar film and worked better because of that.

Praise aside, there was one thing that felt off for me. Although the live action blend works well for the Hello Dolly! sequences that WALL•E watches in his home, they feel out of place in the video of BnL’s President. I felt a disconnect between the live action actors and the character design of the human characters: mainly between the images we see of Axiom’s first captains who should have been contemporaries of the President. (That, and I couldn’t help wondering how much Pixar had to give Apple to use their Start-Up Chime sound throughout the movie. I approved of the sound effect, but can we say “Product Placement?”)

In the end, WALL•E brings us back to the golden age of cartoon shorts. It’s subtle, poignant, and well-executed. I’ll be surprised if there’s not an Oscar waiting at the end of the awards season.

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In Design Life

By Lorraine

The Experience Conundrum

On 22, Aug 2008 | No Comments | In Design Life | By Lorraine

I just wanted to take a quick lunch moment to respond to Armin’s post over at Speak Up today about the risks in hiring young designers versus the need to have experience in order to gain experience. Any recent graduate in any field can tell you about the rejection letters they can wallpaper rooms with only because they don’t have enough experience. I remember naively thinking that I would be able to find a job by March after a December graduation. With a strong portfolio, 2 internships, and a year and a half of freelancing under my belt, I had assumed that I would have the experience needed to get an entry level position…little did I know that entry-level meant 3-5 years of experience. On the other hand, my prior internship experiences made me over-qualified for any other internships that I applied for. Luckily, a chance encounter on an airplane opened up the door to my current job.

What students need to keep in mind is that ultimately job-hunting is about making connections, and part of making connections involves becoming active in your local design community. Certainly, internships are a must, and in today’s job market, one internship probably won’t cut it. But there are other ways of joining the dialog within your design community: whether by showing work in local shows, starting a blog, entering design competitions, or joining a professional organization such as the local Ad Club or AIGA.

On the other hand, employers need to realize that interns aren’t just glorified coffee-makers. While it may be tempting to have your interns reorganize the flat-files, answer phones, and rename files, you aren’t helping them and you aren’t helping yourself. Although inexperienced, interns often bring a fresh perspective to a project, and what they may lack in technical know-how, they can more than make up for in enthusiasm. Today’s interns are tomorrow’s Creative Directors: by giving them a firm foundation to build their career on, you are ensuring the future of our profession.

I’ll be forever grateful to the Jungs at Stilbezirk (and GACCoM for the opportunity) for giving me the freedom to flex my creativity and treating me as a full member of their team. Although my internship was only 3 months, I grew tremendously as a designer under their guidance: more so than I did even in my senior Practicum class. Students: look for an internship that will teach you something…even above putting a fancy name on your resume. You’ll thank yourself later.

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Wednesday’s Weekly Reader

Another week’s worth of great stuff on the web, but first an Fantasy Olympics update: it seems that despite a good start, Austria has slipped to the bottom. Alas!

Re-visiting the Orphan Works Bill debate:
I first posted about this issue here and here, and now Etsy’s Storque puts the debate up to their readers. 

Great Resources:

  •  If you’re like me and always hoping to brush up on more webdesign skills, WebChicklet posted a great resource list for learning CSS. (via swissmiss)
  • SpeakUp! just posted an awesome review of the book Dear Lulu. Designed by design students in Germany, the book is essentially a test to see how well the digital on-demand service could print everything from half-tones to colors and how well the piece was trimmed and bound. Sweet idea and well designed:
    via SpeakUp!
  • For those art history nerds like me, check out Nancy Stock-Allen’s well-designed History of Graphic Design site for class notes. (also via swissmiss)  
  • And finally, if you love Sprint’s Speed of Light campaign and want to do your own light drawings, check out Light Doodles for a gallery and how-to. (Thanks, Linden!)

Pure eye-candy:

  • Shadows Never Sleep reinvents the picture book for your iPhone (or iPod Touch!)…via Coudal
    Courtesy of aya natalia karpinska
  • And in honor of my upcoming post series on animation, this gorgeous snippet of a short from Carlos Lascano: A Short Love Story is one of the most beautiful pieces of stop motion in a long time. (also via Coudal)
    Courtesy Carlos Lascano 
I think that about sums it up! I’ll be posting about Wall•E later this week and hope to follow that up with some more animation-related posts.

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In Inspiration

By Lorraine

Found: Antique Czech Typography

On 18, Aug 2008 | No Comments | In Inspiration, Typography | By Lorraine

This past month, my family went up to Nebraska for a family reunion. Although I’ve shared the German-love in past posts, I’m actually more Czech than German. The region of Nebraska that both sides of my family are from was heavily settled by Czechs during the late 1800’s, and they brought not only their language, religion, and delicious food, but also a wealth of culture. In fact, you can still hear the cadence of spoken Czech in the way some small towns pronounce their English.

The reunion was held in a small community center belonging to the local church where I snapped some pics of these amazing velvet banners:
Czech Banners
The banner in red is for the Society of St. Lucy, while the gray banner is for the Rosary Society of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Both were used in parades, etc. What amazing embroidery! They’ve both held up well over the past century.

Also displayed were these beautifully lettered/illustrated certificates:
Czech Certificates
Unfortunately, they were a little faded from age and the sun, and when I took the picture, I couldn’t get rid of the glare from the glass. The more elaborate one was labelled as a proof of insurance, but I’m not sure that was labeled correctly: I think it has something to do with the Catholic Workman chapter. The middle one on the right wasn’t as old, but also wasn’t labeled.

Coming up later this week: Weekly Reader and my thoughts on Wall•E

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Weekly Reader: Wednesday Links

On 13, Aug 2008 | No Comments | In Book Design, Inspiration, Letterpress/Printmaking | By Lorraine

I’m a little behind on posting inspiration, so I thought that I would try and make a regular habit of posting links in a weekly post rather than posting them willy-nilly as they come up in my feed-reader. It’s hard to narrow down all of the items I’ve noted lately, but figure this is a start…even if some of them have already made the blog rounds.

I’ll start with an aside: my friends and I have started a Fantasy Olympics to root for the underdogs this year. The goal was to pick a country to root for that isn’t already in the top 10 medal-winning countries. Since the Czech Republic was already taken, I went with Austria. As you can see on Gavin’s blog for the event, I’m already in the top third or so! “The hills are aliiiiive with the sound of medaaaaals!” (cheesy, I know…) Who are you rooting for?

Letterpress Love:
Oh, to own a press!

  • iLT has had a couple great posts about letterpress lately —Getting Started and also some good inspiration in his past couple of
  • Joie Studio posted a great series on Learning How to Letterpress (via Poppytalk)

German Love:
You know I have a soft spot for the Germans, so here are a few German/linguistics related items

via Pica + Pixel

And finally, Marion Bantjes + bringing out of print books back to market = amazing design. (via Coudal)
(seriously, I’m in love with her work and am just jealous I didn’t make it big first)

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In Design
New Work

By Lorraine

An Elegant Affair

On 07, Aug 2008 | No Comments | In Design, New Work | By Lorraine

This past weekend I went to the wedding of one of my friend’s: it was a gorgeous affair from the dress to the ceremony, and from the reception to the cake. Jen and I were honored to be asked to help out with designing some things for the wedding:

Copyright LorraineDesign
Above is the monogrammed sticker I designed for the top of the gift box welcoming out of town guests. (No photos yet, but picture it on top of a square package wrapped in ivory with a blue gossamer ribbon.) Jen created a matching agenda/welcome card for the inside that turned out very cute.

Copyright LorraineDesign
Printed on matching stock to Jen’s welcome card (a softly textured creme color), these gift cards adorned the guest favors at the reception. Subtle, elegant and the cakes they were attached to were to die for. Yum!

I *love* weddings. 😀

UPDATE: Jen posted some pics of the party over at her other blog.

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In Design
Design Life

By Lorraine

Consorting with the Enemy…or, Learning to Embrace PowerPoint

On 02, Aug 2008 | No Comments | In Design, Design Life | By Lorraine

Designers hate PowerPoint: it’s a well-established fact. In fact, I would say that designers just generally hate MS Office. It’s clumsy, auto-corrects everything you don’t want it to, and hard to control. A much better presentation platform would be presenting a PDF in Acrobat. Everyone has Reader, it looks sleek, gives you more control over fonts, and can do pretty much everything PowerPoint can do, only better.

So why, you may ask yourself, am I embarking on a journey to embrace PowerPoint? Oddly enough, I’ll even admit that I’m a teensy bit excited about it too. Last month, I visited the Creative department in our STL office and was blown away by the presentations they’ve created over there. They don’t even look like typical PowerPoints (you know, the hideous corporate kind with too much verbiage and cheesy transitions): it was more like watching Flash. So while I’ve made PowerPoint presentations look pretty before (and lord knows PR loves its PPT), I’m really excited to push it to its limits. Sometimes the best work is done under restrictions, and *maybe* the same can be said for PowerPoint. I’m willing to give it a second chance.

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In Updates

By Lorraine

Featured on iLT

On 01, Aug 2008 | No Comments | In Updates | By Lorraine

In this whirlwind of a week, I almost forgot to mention that my Stained Glass Typography post was a featured link on I Love Typography’s Sunday Type this past week. Thanks Johno! And I’ve finally gotten around to updating my links: you can check them out on the bottom of the far right.

Cheers! and Happy Friday!

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