Design Drama

documenting the delicate dance of design

Every Artist is a Cannibal April 30, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — Beth D @ 5:22 pm

There’s been a lot of hullabaloo over the Miley Cyrus photos, and I’ve decided I’m on the fence on this… at least until my Vanity Fair arrives in the mail.

I read a couple of blog posts on the topic and there was one comment on there that made me think about the big picture where art was concerned. This commenter (named “NM”) raised a point that the photo of MC in the sheet reminded her of David’s “Death of Marat” and how the photo, if the lipstick was removed, looked like a corpse. She was right, and I then realized why the photo had a familiar quality to me.

Did Leibovitz do this intentionally? Who is to say except the photographer herself, but it’s an interesting underlying commentary, whether it’s about how Hollywood eats it’s young* or the fact that these young girls today are dancing a dangerous jig on a precipice while in the hot lights of the media glare and everyone’s thinking “jump!”

Anyway, the whole conversation surrounding these MC photos started another thought process on whether there’s really anything new in art. The title of this post is me ripping a line from U2’s “The Fly” in which the lyric goes “… every artist is a cannibal, every poet is a thief…”

Today, it seems so many visual, musical and lyrical artistic statements are a reaction to something that has come before. When I listen to Tom Petty’s latest album, Highway Companion, I constantly hear guitar riffs that are snippets of some of his earlier work. At least he’s ripping off himself, though.

Looking back on the artists of the ’80s — Keith Haring’s dancing man icon, is reminiscent of heiroglyphs… Warhol painted and displayed mass marketed consumer goods and turned them into pop culture icons:Campbell’s tomato soup cans, Brillo boxes, etc. Jeff Koons has done sculptures of blown up plastic Easter bunnies and a life size scaled knick-knack of Michael Jackson and Bubbles for display in museums and passed both off as art.

The best example of art in day to day life being reprocessed and repackaged is in the fashion we wear. Remember the panchos and gaucho pants from a few years ago? Yeah, I’d like to forget those too. It was all a little too Annie Hall for me. Seems like every year, fashion designers go back 20 years for the inspiration of what was done before. Right now, the ’80s are back – in fashion photography, handbags, and album cover design (See “Be Your Own Pet – Get Awkward”)

Is there nothing new? Or are we a society so saturated in constant media that we are forced to look at everything that has come before and are intentionally or subliminally forcing this into the work we produce?

*Personally, if she was going for the whole “eat the young” thing, Goya’s “Saturn Devouring His Son” would be a great image to knock-off. It would at least be a photo even creepier than the photo of MC sprawled across Billy Ray.


Is that a banana in your logo, or are you just glad to see me? April 29, 2008

Filed under: fonts,HA!,logo design,Uncategorized,what the ??? — Beth D @ 6:00 am
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I read a lot of blogs on typography and logos and all sorts of graphic design stuff that would make the average human sleep longer than Rip Van Winkle.

So, I’m shuffling around the blogs recently and came across this gem:

The British Government Agency called “Office of Government Commerce” apparently had a designer that didn’t rotate the logo to see what things looked like from all sides.

I love the internet.

HT: I Love Typography via The Ministry of Type


(Spell)check, please!

Every once in a while, I’ll take a peek at job boards to see what is going on in the graphic design market. Some months, there might be 10 jobs. Other times, there might be 7 per day. It’s all kind of a crap shoot.

All my life, whether it was in high school or college, or possibly from an employer telling me the horror stories of the resumes that have come across his desk, I’ve heard the same thing: Check your resume’ for typos and use spellcheck – that’s why it’s there.

I clicked on Craigslist tonight while goofing around on the computer and clicked on the “art, media & design” section of the job boards.

I clicked on this posting in particular: (bold words added by me for emphasis)

We have an open position for an experienced senior graphic designer. We are looking for the right candidate to join our growing team which produces XXXXXXXXX’s products. We are located in the XXXXX area. We poduce books, puzzles, stickers, and other products featuring major licenses. This is a full-time position. This is not an entry level position. We are looking for an eperienced individual who can immediately contribute to the group. This position requires competence with Illustrator, Photoshop, and Quark. We are Mac based. A relevant degree is necessary. Please send resume via email.

Excuse me, but the last time I heard the word “poduce” used in a sentence, Eddie Murphey was portraying Buckwheat on Saturday Night Live reruns.

Why would I, if I were looking for a job with an agency or a company, be bothered to send them a resume’ when this job poster can’t even take the time to spellcheck and proofread their job posting for errors? I mean, are you kidding me? “PODUCE”? “EPERIENCED”? And it’s not that this one is the first job posting I’ve seen that has blantant errors – they’re a dime a dozen, on Craigslist, at least.

If I sent a resume’ to this company, and I had TWO misspellings, they’d toss my resume’ in the trash. I wouldn’t blame them. I’ve seen it done before. That’s actually the method many companies employ in order to weed out the candidates. And I’ve been on interviews where the interviewer told me that one of the main reasons, other than my portfolio, for landing an interview, was because I had my act together when I sent my information to them.

So, job posters, you expect us to be serious. Well, whether you realize it or not, we expect you to bring your A-game. We both know that the designer is being interviewed, but what you may not realize is that your company is under a microscope as well.


The Possibility of Falling in Love with Logo Design / Adobe Illustrator April 28, 2008

Like most designers I know, I have my own little beaten path of doing things. I love love love Photoshop and could work in it almost exclusively. But for logos, I force myself to use Illustrator because it’s the right way to do things.

In the past few months, I’ve had more logo work come across my desk than normal.
As I’ve stated before, I’m not the biggest fan of logos. Of course, like everything else, practice makes perfect. I’ve found, recently, as I blogged about a few posts back, that sketching logos by hand, away from the computer is the way to really let the mind play – to not rely on the fonts loaded on a computer to dictate the look of a logo

Honestly, I think the true reason I shudder at the thought of the design of logos is I’ve never really felt all that comfortable in Adobe Illustrator. I was one of those people that learned Aldus/Macromedia Freehand (I’m showing my age here, ack!) & Illustrator in college, but it was really on my own, even though I was paying money to be taught — which means I didn’t really learn it as well as I should.

And that’s the thing here: knowing Illustrator and KNOWING Illustrator are two different animals. I started a project for 3 logos this week and grudgingly opened Illustrator, because I’m a big believer that logos should be initiated as vector art.* Anyway, so, I bit the bullet and decided I wasn’t going to let my fear take over.

I didn’t know how to do this one thing I wanted to do and I started Googling. I stumbled across this website, Illustrator Techniques. Where has this been all my angst filled Illustrator life? This website is just what I needed at just the right time. And it’s actually more than I needed. Looking at the galleries and reading the tutorials are really amazing, because they are written from the standpoint of being kinder and gentler to the reader — they’re not written over my head. Just “here’s how you get from point A to point B to point C to point D. I love this site!

*I wish I had a dime for every time I had to work with someone’s shitty version of a logo pulled from the web, scanned poorly or designed as 72 dpi — I wouldn’t be working; I’d be sitting on a beach, cold Corona in hand.


‘Skine Art April 25, 2008

A link for inspiration today since it’s Friday.

This makes my head spin… something to aspire to.


Prince & The Artistic Revolution

Filed under: artistic angst,controversy,history,inspiration,method — Beth D @ 4:38 am
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I was watching this thing on VH1 Classics the other night, caught the middle of it – a documentary about Prince, “The Prince Of Paisley Park.” The documentary included all this old footage of the era of the “Lovesexy” Tour and included interviews with the band members – Sheila E and all the others whose names escape me. They were sharing their recollections of what it was like back in the day to tour with Prince and how creative and demanding he was – but that it was all worth it because they were in the presence of artistic genius.

So, I’m sitting there watching this with a friend. The footage changed from the interviews to live footage from a concert and back and forth. At one point, my friend, an audio guy, commented on how bad the sound was (Nashville!) and how could anyone possibly get any enjoyment out of the show because of the sound and how the tempo was off, etc. And something struck a chord in me watching this coupled with his reaction.

I told him that the whole deal wasn’t for other people to get enjoyment… that the whole purpose of an artist creating is to get the art out. Most of the time — when commerce is not involved — when I create a drawing, painting or take photos and tweak them, it’s not for the world at large. It’s for me. I have to have some kind of artistic release. It’s a really hard concept to explain to people, but that’s the best I can do. Honestly, I’d never really thought about how my creative flow related and paralleled the angst of songwriters/musicians, but at that moment it clicked. It’s almost like the need to burp or have a good cry.

Legend has it that Prince has all these recordings of songs that he’s never released. Albums and albums worth. My creations parallel that to a much smaller extent – I’ve got tons of artwork that I’ve hoarded – my own stuff that might never see the light of day, but it’s like a disconnected visual journal, of a string of particular moments in time.

Prince isn’t creating that music for the consumption of the masses — well, he is in a way, to keep money flowing, but mainly, he’s doing it because he has to. It’s like inhaling and exhaling. I’ve heard often from songwriters that they hear the song in their head and have to put it down on paper, or at least release the sound into the world. The same concept is at work for visual artists. Sometimes you just have to get the paint out.

In another part of the story, Sheila E was talking about how all the band members would learn the show, and the next day Prince would change the whole thing and they’d have to learn it all over again. Another “Ah-Ha!” moment for me. Perfectionism is a weird thing. And when perfectionism cross-pollenates with art, it’s dangerous business. There have been many times I’ve created something and then just when I think it’s a great idea, and the work is long gone, I think “Whoa, I should have done this, I show have added that, this would have taken it to a whole other level” — the process is never-ending because it’s a process. And while it’s frustrating, it is part of having artistic DNA.

I can’t imaging being an accountant. I bet Prince can’t either.


Jim Parkinson April 23, 2008

I am a font fanatic. I haven’t counted recently, but I’d venture to guess that I have over 7,000 fonts sitting here on the hard drive. They seriously need to be organized, but that can take weeks. I find myself lost in organization of fonts – and then they’re organized and I think of a better way that I could place them in folders to find them quickly.

I spend a lot of time playing “identify the font” on the rare occasion I watch television. I do it when I drive down the road, look at magazines and the ads within — I guess I’m obsessed.

So this email just landed in my inbox. An interview with Jim Parkinson – you might not know the name, but you know his work – the logo for Rolling Stone magazine, Ringling Bros & Barnum and Bailey Circus being two of the most famous.

Article & interview with JP here