Wow: a lot has happened in the past month. After finding out I was accepted to a special opportunity (more on that in a later post), I spent almost all of May preparing for a big move to Chicago. I have now been here for almost a week and can finally consider myself settled in for the summer. So aside from my Social Networking Duties for AIGAKC, I took a break from blogging, etc. When Linden tagged me on her 8 Things Post, I thought it would be a great way to get back into the swing of writing and let you know what’s ahead for the summer. You can expect to see a lot more from me again…both here and on S&D.
Without further ado, my 8 Things:
8 Things I Am Looking Forward To:
- Exploring Chicago. While here, I fully expect to take advantage of being in a big city, and plan on blogging my finds. First stop is Lincoln Square later today.
- German Culture. Chicago has a lot more German restaurants, places to get ethnic foods, and German sections in a lot of the bookstores. I’ve already found myself some German honey and nutella: yum!
- Personal Projects. While here, I’m hoping to have more time to devote to several personal projects, including…
- Site Redesign. It’s long over-due, but I finally have the resources to put it in action.
- AIGAKC Leadership Retreat. I’ll have to attend from afar, but I can’t wait to hear what everybody learned out at Portland’s Leadership Retreat several weeks ago. I’ll be sure to share any thoughts both here and over on AIGAKC’s Discussions.
- June 22. More on this in the next post
- July 15. The next Harry Potter movie comes out…what can I say? I’m a nerd.
- Mid-July. The family is taking a vacation to California: you get to come along with me and my camera. I’m especially looking forward to the redwood trees.
8 Things I Did Yesterday:
- Continued letting friends/colleagues know I was in Chicago. (Are You, dear reader, here? Let me know!)
- Contacted people about freelance opportunities.
- Updated my Creative Hotlist and AIGA profiles to say I was in Chicago.
- Ate a delicious PB&H sandwich with deutsche Honig: yum! (not sure why German honey tastes so much better than our’s…)
- Took a brief look at Lincoln Square: made note to come back.
- Added to and checked things off of my Monstrous-Summer-To-Do List.
- Took the Brown Line downtown.
- Went to Bluesfest with my cousin and friends.
8 Things I’d Like To Do (just a handful from the MSTD List):
- Finish putting together all of my photo albums
- Redesign this website
- Finish sketches/designs for gocco projects
- Finish designs for embroidery ideas
- Take my sketchbook to Millennium Park for a day
- Read Watership Down
- Upload new work to Flickr and blog about it.
- Locate the German sausage shop my friend mentioned and have a cook-out
8 Shows (and Podcasts) I Watch/Listen To:
- Pushing Daisies (so mad they cancelled this show…but at least they are airing the last of the last 3 episodes tonight)
- Samantha Who (again: why did they cancel it??)
- Dancing With the Stars
- Gestalten.tv (video podcast with interviews and documentaries with current artists/designers)
- Paul Rand Lecture Series (video podcast hosted by Steven Heller on graphic design art history)
- Design Matters (podcast hosted by Debbie Millman featuring interviews with designers)
- Animation Podcast (podcast featuring interviews with legendary animators)
8 Blogs to Read:
(ok, I switched this from tagging since I just really wanted to make recommendations)
- Linden’s Pensieve (everything from marathon training to German living to techie insight)
- Sarah Jo Austin (techie insight, crafts, and the other half of the brains behind The True Beginner’s Guide to Twitter)
- Carina’s Craftblog (crafts and diy culture)
- Celestina Carmen (crafts, book rec’s, diy culture)
- The Design Cubicle (articles on freelancing/client issues, great inspiration and links)
- Raw Toast Design (blog of fellow Missouri State grad, Jesse Kuhn, featuring his illustrations)
- Design Work Life (new favorite design inspiration blog)
- Anything Goes (great inspiration/new work from art director, Kat Black)
This post may be totally off-topic, but I just needed to put it out there because perhaps others struggle with the same issue. So I’ve been having a bit of a quarter-life crisis (to quote John Mayer) on and off for the past year. And in helping my sister make some decisions about whether she should double-major, I seem to have thrown myself back into indecision about my own future.
You see, I’ve always had a hard time narrowing down my passions into a career path. How do you know what you are “supposed” to do? My friends and family are probably tired of me wondering that over the past ten years or so (if you’re reading, sorry to bombard you with it again). Basically it comes down to this: I’m passionate about many things…none of which really seem to interrelate.
For one thing, I’m immensely passionate about design: one of the reasons why I started this blog and have gotten involved with our local AIGA chapter. I love book design and would love to one day work at a publishing company. Screen-printing and letterpress open so many options not available in digital technologies, and I can’t wait to explore all of the ideas bouncing around my head. Likewise, I’ve noticed I have a totally different aesthetic in my approach to web-design, and want to learn more, more, more.
Similarly, I’m absolutely and totally in love with animation—have been since I was about 5. I could bore you with long rants about how Sleeping Beauty is one of the most perfect films of all time. Listening to the Animation Podcast episodes and reading blogs like Animation Treasures or Colorful Animation Expressions are enough to have me ready to go back to school. But I really am in love with traditional 2D animation (and maybe claymation), so it’s hard to find outlets for that in the current industry. (Unless James Baxter is hiring right now…I would kill to meet him and pick his brain over a cup of coffee.)
On a totally unrelated note, I’m a (not-so-) secretly reformed science nerd. Sitting at our brother’s Regional Science Olympiad tournament, my sister and I were discussing what was wrong with the two of us for not going into something that we both obviously loved to do. Chemistry/geology…I can’t get enough of both of them—even now. And after coaching my brother for the past several months of tournament season, I’m ready to go spelunking. I think I almost died of happiness just visiting the Rock/Mineral section of the Natural History Museum in D.C. last month. The discovery that there are actually people who do forensic qualitative analysis to determine the make-up of pigments used in illuminated manuscripts was almost enough to drive me back to a college admissions office. (Btw, art history is another of my favorite subjects…)
Yet another interest of mine is linguistics: specifically European languages. If you’ve read my blog for very long, you’ll know I’m a German-phile. After taking German since middle-school, I found that I missed it too much in college and had to add it as a minor. If I had known that the field of linguistic anthropology existed, I probably would have switched my major. Luckily, an internship over seas with a German design firm allowed me to combine the 2 passions…and I never fail to get energized by the reunions we’ve had every year since. Particularly because all of us are from such diverse educational backgrounds. Each year, I come back wanting to educate others about German-American relations. Currently, I’m trying (slowly!) to teach myself Czech so I can better articulate my appreciation for the kolač.
Mind you, this is all very much an internal conflict, so no need to worry about me making drastic life changes. (And short of designing a German book based on an animated film about the rock cycle, I doubt I’ll ever be able to use all my passions at once.) But I often ponder just how things might be different if I had gone to college for a very different path… But what all of this has taught me is that it’s perfectly okay—if not necessary—to have interests outside of your line of work. They give you inspiration, motivation, and a unique perspective to approach it with. Milton Glaser addressed my classmates and I during a college trip to NYC. The biggest thing I took away from that talk was him saying how important it was to have interests outside of design: how it will fuel your creativity. He then followed that up with the advice to “always be astonished by what you see around you.” I think about that quote a lot: you don’t have to eat, breath, and sleep one thing for the rest of your life. There is so much wonder in the world and so much to be passionate about.
Just a quick post since I was poking around on the internet before grabbing my lunch. It looks like getting a Thermofax machine is the best way to keep gocco-ing now that the supplies are cut off? I’ll have to check into this. In any case, Craft Chi has a great tutorial on how to use one with thermofax screens. In any case, this method would let me print larger than the B6 size, so it might be worth it anyways. (And it’s a Greener option: no throw-away bulbs each time.) The other idea I’m toying with is experimenting with screwing regular bulbs into the housing unit and seeing if that will expose a photo-emulsion coated screen mounted to a permanent frame.
In any case, I have plenty of time to think about it: I’ve stocked up on about 10 boxes of bulbs.
Coming soon: more posts from my DC trip!
I don’t usually make formal New Year’s Resolutions (our family writes down predictions for the coming year instead), but thought it might be fun to set some goals for myself about various projects I want to tackle this year. So now that January is underway, and I’ve had a bit of a chance to think it over, here’s a running list of my Art/Design Resolutions for 2009:
- Get More Creative With Photoshop for Client-work
With the type of clients that I have at work, I tend to work mainly in Illustrator and InDesign. If I do use Photoshop, it’s mainly just for photo-retouching. So this year, I want to branch out a bit more like I started to this past fall, and be a bit more well-rounded in my software usage.
- Delve Deeper into Web-design/Coding
I haven’t had much of a chance to do work for the web since starting my job 2 years ago. So I want to refresh my knowledge of html, etc. to bring me to…
- Finally Get the Portfolio Site Back Online
I’ve been toying around with this site’s redesign since last summer, but want to finally finish it. Since deciding to do it all in WordPress in November, I’ve just stopped working on it.
- Start Carrying a Sketchbook Again
I used to keep a little one in my purse and use it regularly, but stopped for some reason. I need to draw more and get my ideas down as soon as I get them. The Brushes app I included in last week’s Weekly Reader should be a fun way to sketch more too. Which brings me to…
- Complete at Least One Personal Project a Month
Now that I’ve got all the kinks worked out on how to use my Gocco machine, I want to keep it busy! Not to mention the embroidery project I began 2 years ago last March and Still haven’t finished… I know I get busy with work, but I need to make the time for fun projects.
- Expand My Art/Design Reference Library
Something that I started last year was using any money I get in a bonus, etc. from work to expand my art/design reference book library. (although most of my extra income went to my new computer this past year…) I started this year off right by cashing in my “kool-aid points” from JupiterImages to get Print Liberation. I’ll be sure to write a review once it gets in.
Well, as I mentioned yesterday, here is a little more about how this year’s cards were produced. In addition to taking me two years to finish, I also ran into a couple of snags. Below each picture are details explaining each stop along the way.
- 1) As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, I was really inspired by Rankin Bass’s Rudolf special: specifically, the opening titles where the swirling snow blows across the screen. It has such a nice texture to it, but unfortunately, I was unable to find any good screen shots for reference. I ended up watching the DVD in frame-by-frame while frantically sketching notes for the linocut background.
- 2) The finished linoleum cut (inked to show relief) for the background of the card. This was originally going to be the second color printed.
- 3) I then prepared my master for the gocco screen. This time, I printed it using a laser printer instead of a photocopier. When I ironed it before flashing, a fair amount of carbon lifted up as you see here: was feeling good about this.
- 4) I then flashed the master which contained the first layer, the top text layer, and the copyright info for the back of the cards: 3 screens in one! Unfortunately, using the blue screen and all of the ironing wasn’t quite enough because I still ended up with carbon burned onto the screen. To remove it, I gently rubbed a little bit of carcoal lighter fluid on the back of the screen as suggested by the Gocco Flickr group…
- 5) …it worked! A test print of the whole screen showed it burned successfully!
- 6) Rather than buying Gocco’s mixing cones, I instead mixed my ink in little snack-sized Ziploc bags: this had the added advantage of being reseal-able when I wasn’t using them. A little snip in the corner, and the ink came out as if in a pastry bag.
- 7) This was my first time using the ink blocking material, and it worked like a dream.
- 8 ) The first layer printed like a dream in silvery-gold (get it? Silver and Gold…) on the creamy, slightly textured stock I had picked out from Paper Source. Alas! When I tried to print the linocut layer in white on top of it, it didn’t show up at all. Despite getting the more opaque metallic white, it was still too transparent. So I rethought my color palette and paper choice, scrapped the first layer, and ended up printing just the linocut on a nice metally silver cardstock from XPEDX.
- 9) The text layer on the front came next, and unfortunately not many cards turned out well. I had a lot of trouble with “peaking” which I suspect came from having too much ink on the screen. I readjusted the ink amount for the copyright info on the back, and that layer turned out perfect.
- 10) Lining the cards up for drying on the counter since I didn’t have a little rack to stick them in. All in all, I printed around 30 or so cards and each layer only took me about an hour and a half each nightâ€”including clean up.
- 11) A look at my registration “system”: I positioned a test card under the screen and then used painter’s masking tape to mark off each side. This worked pretty slick, but my pad needs to be upgraded as it doesn’t have it’s stickiness any more, so the cards had trouble staying put. Luckily it didn’t prove to be much of an issue, but I’m hunting around for a replacement part…
So there you go! A successful printing experience, and now I can’t wait to start on the other projects I have up my sleeves!
Aaaand, I’m back! Well, that was a nice little vacation, so now that the holidays are over and (most) everyone received their card from me, I can finally post about them without spoiling the surprise. I may be going about this a little backwards, but am going to post the final product today and the making-of tomorrow once I get the rest of my process photos uploaded to my computer.
Last year, I began work on a linoleum cut for my holiday card design, but wasn’t able to finish it in time to send out. This year, I picked back up where I left off and added a screen-printed layer using my new Gocco (finally: a successful screen!). But more on that tomorrow. For now, here she is:
The cards were printed with Speedball’s block printing ink in metallic white with a navy Gocco ink I mixed for the lettering on a silver cardstock. I was inspired by two family favorites for Christmas: Rankin Bass’s Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer TV special and White Christmas. It just doesn’t feel like the holidays without everyone gathering to watch those two films together. (Of course, we practically have a whole movie fest to watch all of our favorites, but these two especially.)
So I had a lot of fun things that popped up in my feed this past week, but thought I’d share some resources instead. You see, I’m getting ready to print my Christmas cards this Sunday, so I thought it might be nice to share a bit on how I’m going to do it before I post my process post on the card itself.
Using Gocco for Screen Printing
For two of the screens/layers of the card, I’ll be screen printing. When I graduated from college a couple of years ago, I was really bummed to lose access to our awesome Print Lab. It’s a little hard to screen-print something as large as the poster my friend, Robyn, is working on below (BEFORE) when you have to do it in your apartment. Then I found Gocco (AFTER):
Obviously, I won’t ever be doing anything as big as Robyn’s poster unless I do it in sections, but I really don’t need to. And with the Gocco, I don’t have to worry about emulsion or power washers or table space: the unit exposes the screen and prints the image. On the downside, they’ve discontinued making them and their supplies. However, I believe that between all the resourceful gocco-ers out there, we’ll find alternatives. Below are some of the resources that I’ve found really helpful in learning how:
- Gocco Flickr Group (the discussion threads are particularly helpful)
- Gocco-Printers Yahoo Group (Joining this is a must: an excellent way to locate supplies, get expert help, or download templates, etc.)
- NEHOC Australia (all instructions given in English, as well as a list of produced supplies/accessories)
- DIYLife’s Gocco article (although some of these links are now broken, it still has great info on where to find supplies/tutorials/etc.)
- Celestina Carmen (Good inspiration and awesome tips: thanks for sharing your expertise, Tina!)
Relief Printing by Hand
For the relief plate, I’m working on a linocut that I will then print at home. This should be relatively easy as I printed most of the Incidents Among the Savages illustrations at home. I actually came across a really good How-To for creating and printing linoleum cuts at home via Coudal’s feed today. The National Gallery of Canada has a little microsite up for their exhibition of Albrecht DÃ¼rer’s prints. (While there, be sure to check out the Gallery of DÃ¼rer’s work: he is near the top, if not THE top, of my favorite artists of all time. His attention to detail in his engravings/prints is just mind-boggling.)
To locate the tutorial, click “Looking Forward” under DÃ¼rer’s name and then select “Linocut Printmaking: How To” to view. Each step is accompanied by a photo and instructions. However, rather than printing using my fist, I generally rub the paper with either the back of a wooden spoon or a baren. Since I’m printing at home, I plan on using the water-based block-print ink rather than oil based. I perfer oil, but have had a hard time finding the variety in color that I need at local stores, and figure the water-based will make clean up easier anyways. (Besides, some people don’t like that oil-based inks are toxic…)
So as promised, I’m posting how the Ben Folds shirts turned out. First, a little background. Back when I was in college, I was able to see Ben live for the first time when he performed on our campus. He had these awesome tour shirts at the time with his face and “Rock This Bitch” on them to commemorate his live tour. (For the backstory on that particular song, click here.) Alas! They were out of my size! In the years since, my sister and I have scoured the internet, but have never even so much as found a reference photo. With his concert approaching this past week, we decided to use my new gocco to create our own version of the shirts. I drew his head in Illustrator using a past tour shirt and his photo for reference (see below). It promised to be the perfect test design because I included a variety of line weights, a couple of large solid blocks for his hair, and a nice slab serif font at the bottom.
After a couple of months of reading up on instructions/tips, I felt I had a good grasp on what I was doing when burning the screen. I photocopied my design on the lightest setting, ironed it using several pieces of computer paper (perhaps I needed to use the Clean-Up Paper for it to work?), immediately lined it up on the printing bed, and flashed both sections using the Blue Screen with the emulsion-side of the screen down touching the master copy. (Note: in the photos above, we didn’t manage to capture a photo of the flash, but both bulbs did work on each section of the screen.) As posted before (here and here), it obviously didn’t work for some reason… And on a side question, do you have to reverse your type for a gocco screen? I didn’t think you did since the image looks correct through the machine’s window, but then I started confusing myself thinking about it after the screen was already ruined…
So not wanting all that time spent to be for nothing, I figured I’d transfer the design onto some nice, thick stock I keep around for stencils. (Besides, we got some really cute long-sleeve tees from Target that I didn’t want to go to waste.) I had to modify the design a bit so that the stencil would be all one piece. After tacking it down to the shirt using double stick tape (the insides of the glasses were sparate stencils I taped down at the same time), I painted in the design using some fabric ink I had around the house. I think they turned out rather nicely if I do say so myself, and if I get a better photo of the finished product, I’ll post it. Sadly, my late-night photos didn’t show up all too well above, but at least you get the idea. The concert was great, and the shirts were a hit!
Alas! I think my first attempt at burning a screen is now officially a flop. When I left off my tale, I had attempted to burn my first screen: a PG-702 fabric screen flashed in 2 sections. The first section appeared to work best, but on closer inspection (Thanks, Violet!) I noticed that the carbon from my photocopy had adhered to the emulsion on the screen. The second section didn’t look like it had burned through all the way to me.
So after everyone’s suggestions, I thought I might as well try making a print from a test area like Elaine suggested: afterall, maybe it worked fine like Tina mentioned. So first I tried to clean off the carbon per Jan’s instructions. The flickr discussion group also suggested either screen cleaner or turpentine. I opted for trying the screen cleaner because I didn’t have any turpentine on hand. Unfortunately, that didn’t seem to do the trick:
So I attempted a test print anyways, but sadly nothing came through on either the half with the carbon on the screen or the bottom half. :- And then, when I went to clean the ink off, I tried to use the screen cleaner on fabric ink instead of soap/water right away. So by the time I tried water, I had a harder time getting it off:
By the time I got the ink off, the exposed part of the screen looked like it has haze. I wasn’t able to photograph it well, and haven’t had time to go back and look at it since. Suffice it to say, I gave up trying to print this one. Even if it is ruined, the screen’s not a total loss though: at the Very least, I plan to use the frame again.
But I just don’t know what went wrong. I photocopied it on a light setting, ironed it right before flashing, and hypothetically, it Should have printed Something. It looked like Some of the image at least burned correctly. I think I’ll have to go back to square one and reread my Gocco Guide again before another attempt. And this time I’ll probably try a regular B6 screen before attempting one of the fabric ones.
But enough of the problems, I’ll be posting the results of the t-shirts soon: because they did turn out great after all.
Well, this is a day late, and I know that I’m behind on posting: the past couple of nights have been rather late ones. I’m going to try to get another post in tonight to update everyone on my Gocco attempt. But first, since I’ve been so behind on everything lately, this week’s weekly reader is just going to be one link:
When it comes to type, be inspired by Mondrian, never Pollock. Never be inspired by Pollock anyway. He was a sloppy idiot.
I’m not sure who or what is behind this site, but it’s just hilarious. I laughed out loud to myself at work yesterday, and I’m sure the account people were wondering what the heck was going on. And if you enjoy the site, you can friend him on Facebook as well.