Design Drama

documenting the delicate dance of design

Photoshop Express – a FREE web version of Photoshop March 27, 2008

THIS is badass — Adobe Systems, the fine folks who brought us Photoshop, have just launched a basic version of the popular photo editing software online for FREE.

From the Associated Press:
“While Photoshop is designed for trained professionals, Adobe says Photoshop Express, which it launched in a “beta” test version, is easier to learn. User comments will be taken into account for future upgrades.

Photoshop Express will be completely Web-based so consumers can use it with any type of computer, operating system and browser. And, once they register, users can get to their accounts from different computers.”

I haven’t tried this out, and probably won’t as I already own the full version of Photoshop and am an unabashed and unapologetic Flickr fanatic. But lots of people will have a whole new world open up for them, as Photoshop is a monster. There is truly no other software that compares to it.  Of course this is Adobe hoping users will upsize to their $99 Photoshop Elements (or whatever it’s called) version. However, it’s damn good marketing and good for Adobe’s Feng Sui. But the real winners will be all those people who want to edit and tweak their photos for free & for that reason, I think this is fantastic news.

And anyone who tries it out ; I’d love to know the thoughts on the capabilities.


Back To Basics March 25, 2008

Filed under: inspiration,logo design,method — Beth D @ 12:54 am
Tags: ,

Recently, I’ve acquired the task of designing a new logo for a band. The trio has an existing logo, but they’ve never been in love with it, and now I have the grand opportunity to create something totally new — and I’ve been given full “use all your creativity” license on this… a very rare opportunity, as many designers know. I’m totally jazzed about this chance to really shine, but scared to death too.

Confession: I’ve never felt like logo design was my forte’. Even though it’s not the favorite element of my career, I feel like it’s like a lot of things in life: the more I do it, the better I find my skills. “Practice makes perfect”, as the saying goes.

Like a lot of designers, I tend to rely a little too much on technology. It’s hard not to when it’s there, right at my fingertips. However, with my renewed love of drawing and sketching, I’ve gotten back to basics. Beside the sketchbook, another tool in my arsenal is blogs on the subject of logo design, and how the people who really excel at logos work their magic. And it turns out that all those professors I paid a university lots of money to teach me design, preached the same thing: use a sketchbook, don’t design on the computer.

One design blog in particular that I keep referring to is David Airey, a designer from the UK. He’s got a very pure style about him, which I really dig – as Ludwig Mies Van Der Rohe said “God is in the details” — and anyone who has ever studied Mr. Mies Van Der Rohe knows, simplicity was key in all of his designs. That’s why the stuff he designed (architecture & furniture) remain timeless classics. (A favorite game of mine while watching TV is “spot the Barcelona Chair in the commercial”)

David did a post not long ago about his logo design process, and linked a few of his own sketches of his personal logo HERE.

His top 10 steps to a great logo design are:

  1. Sketch
  2. Sketch again
  3. And again
  4. Don’t worry about mistakes
  5. Sketch with pencils
  6. Try using pens
  7. Sketch indoors…
  8. …and out
  9. Sketch fast
  10. Keep on sketching

So, here I’ve sat, taking the advice of a designer I admire, a day spent sketching logos. Some are terrible, but some hold promise. As I’ve always believed, there are no bad ideas, because those bad ones can eventually evolve into the best idea. I imagine I’ll spend the remainder of the next few days sketching logos, but that’s cool, because this is what it’s about: good art and good design. Just another method that allows me to chase the high I talked about in the last post.


The temperature — it’s getting hot March 24, 2008

I’ve had my ear to the ground recently and have heard many graphic designers express frustration with the current state of our industry.

One thing I read today, in particular, was a blog by a graphic/web designer whose job is headed south and posted an entry venting feelings of under-appreciation and lack of talent from her superiors.

The truth is, this is all part of the life of a designer. There is always going to be under-appreciation for artists… history shows Pope Julius gave Michaelangelo crap the whole time he was working on his (PJ’s) tomb and other projects. As well, there is always someone either in the next cubicle or a big agency to compete with – and the competing designer might not be as talented or as educated – but might have a bigger budget — meanwhile, artists and designers can’t get bogged down in that melodrama – the thing to do, I have found, is to trudge on… because that next great design idea that can be brought to fruition is just around the next sketch book page. Also, like Michaelangelo and Pope Julius, there’s always going to be a person an artist/designer will have to take crap from because that individual signs the check — (these people often think of themselves as a born designer, and the graphic designer is merely a conduit/computer jockey there to click the mouse to make a vision come true.)*

It’s not just graphic designers expressing disdain for these occupational hazards — I have a friend; he’s a super-talented landscape architect in a major American city. He and I shared a laugh on the phone not long ago. He was venting to me about how he’s overworked and his designs are undervalued by his client. My friend described said client as “he thinks just because he watches HGTV that he automatically has the skills to design a landscape plan” — I laughed. I shouldn’t have. But I backed it up with “Well, thank God nobody wants to do a reality show with graphic designers because the public would be bored stiff and it would be canceled after one episode, if it ever made it to air!” — he laughed then, because he knows it’s the truth.

There is a mystique about graphic designers — that we’re all making money hand over fist while sitting in our bathrobes sipping martinis while tangled up in our iPod wires. That’s not reality. The tech bubble burst a few years ago. And… well… I don’t like martinis. The majority of designers I know are the ones that shop from the thrift store or sale rack exclusively, drive cars that are at least five years old, and don’t have cable tv. The one thing we do splurge on is technology – because that’s a write off.

My truth is, and I can only speak for myself, that I got into design for one reason and one reason only. I love art. I love design. I love creating something from nothing. And the bottom line in this business is, if that love is not at the core of a graphic designer’s heart, then he/she won’t be in this business for the long haul. Because there is a lot of bad that goes with the good… but when the good rolls around, it’s a very satisfying experience. I call it “creative crack” — it’s like a drug that I want more of. So, basically, I guess you can say I’m chasing a high… and most designers I know would agree, that’s the reason we are playing this game.

*And I will admit some superiors do have design talent, but it’s frustrating to be treated like an idiot when we designers have spent years in design/art school – and get zero respect for the time spent.


Equal Time March 20, 2008

Filed under: illustration — Beth D @ 1:13 am
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Chuck Taylors

Regarding the love of shoes, women don’t have the monopoly on their love affair with how they decorate their feet. I think everyone has met at least one guy who has countless pairs of sneakers. And no other sneaker has captivated the sneaker lover’s fashion footprint than the Converse Chuck Taylor All Star


Shoes, as art March 19, 2008

Filed under: illustration — Beth D @ 10:34 pm
Tags: , , ,

Tap Shoes

There’s a popular school of thought that all women are obsessed with footwear.
And actually, I know quite a few females that have a collection of shoes that would make even Imelda Marcos jealous. I am probably one of those people, merely for the fact that I have more shoes than my closet can hold – however, I don’t consider it a fetish – my purse collection is actually more expansive.

My fascination with shoes is a bit different than most. I have always found the shape of shoes and their designs to be more along the lines of a piece of sculpture. Don’t believe me? Check out the footwear of Salvatore Ferragamo or the ever popular Manolo Blahnik, popularized by Carrie Bradshaw of “Sex and the City” — even the most drab of outfit can be jazzed up by a pair of stop in your tracks stilettos. Shoes can be formal or merely utilitarian.

Which leads me to my latest illustration: tap shoes. I’ve always found beauty in the cast off items of artists — whether it is used film canisters, paint spattered paintbrushes or a worn out pair of ballet or tap shoes. The fact that these everyday items are used and abused tells a story of the life they have helped their owner live.

A tossed out pair of tapshoes might not get a second look from some, but to me, they are a worthy subject of illustration.


The Art of Dixie – Ocean Springs artist community thrives Post-Katrina March 16, 2008

Filed under: inspiration,Mississippi,murals — Beth D @ 10:44 pm

Ocean Springs mural

I’ve spent this lazy Sunday catching up on my online reading and came upon a great article from my home state, Mississippi – on the Coastal Living magazine’s website:

Almost three years following Hurricane Katrina’s path of destruction, normalcy hasn’t exactly returned to the MS coast or New Orleans, but from the town of Ocean Spring, MS, a ray of light is beginning to shine, and their thriving artist’s community is to thank for much of the progress that is being made.,14587,1705781,00.html

Photo credit: Jean Allsop


World without color March 14, 2008

Filed under: illustration,inspiration — Beth D @ 3:59 pm
Tags: , ,

Now that I’ve gotten the first post out of the way, on to more illustration.

I feel like I’ve been suffering from some sort of artistic amnesia when it comes
to me drawing and creating art by hand, as I have gotten so tied to technology.

I had forgotten, for example, how when I draw or paint, there is nothing else in the world. Whatever I am focused on at that moment, is all that exists for me. The lemons below — I had a totally clear mind drawing those because I was so focused on getting the shape just right. I’m really loving this renewed love affair with drawing & painting.

I’ve often wondered what non-artistic people do to center themselves and get away from their mind ramblings. Is it drinking? drugs? Intense expensive therapists? Are they the people that buy all those Hummels on the home shopping networks? I wonder about that like I wonder about those strange people who aren’t affected by music. How do they get through life without all those great songs running through their heads – or songs to relate to when life gets hard?

I can’t imagine my life without art for the ear or the eye… because, to me, it would be like a world without color.