Monday, December 31, 2007

Somethin to Du

I wanted to post this weeks ago, but I forgot all about it until local photog Doug Levere emailed me yesterday about his blog. Doug organizes the Ad Club's Night of 1000 Images every year and I had submitted four photos for the event last month. A bunch of local photogs, graphic artists, etc. submit up to 5 snapshots and the images are projected on a big screen while a party swirls around it. Anyway here is a look at the 4 snapshots I submitted to the event.

Check them out here (click on each photos to advance to the next one- there are 4 total).

These were taken in late November (pre-snow). It was a cold, but sunny morning and I decided to capture some still life images in our backyard. I am no-professional paparazzi, but I can grab a decent snapshot every now and then. I try not to play with the images too much in Photoshop and just let the natural color appear 'as is'. This particular sunny morning, the light did an awesome job of livening up some otherwisz sedate settings. This was a cold day, but the photos do have a certain warmth, don't you think.

Happy new year to all!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Get Busy

Well I got all I wanted for the holiday, plus a bunch of new design books... not to mention a subscription to The Hockey News!!

As Winter starts to really blow in, we have a lot to look forward to in the Winter 'hunker down' months and the "soon-to-be-upon-us" New Year including:

10) Time to read.
I also received the Replacements oral history book "All Over But The Shouting" by Jim Walsh (who's is NOT Brandon and Brenda's dad.. at least I don't think so...). Rock and design research!

09) Sledding.
The kids got a purple, plastic toboggan from Santa. In my world of princesses, baby dolls and ballet-a little thrill ride down the slope is in order.

08) Better mix CDs.
Santa gave me a Sony CD burner to attached to the DJ system for some live to mix vinyl translation. All those old house music records will again see the light of day. Get Busy, Mr. Lee.

07) No more trips to (and then waiting in line at) the post office.
Man, I have been to the post office too many times in the past few weeks to mail out-of-town gifts, to buy stamps, to mail postcards, to drop off T-shirts that were ordered for the holidays...

06) Saturday Night's Hockey Night in Canada.
Nothing says winter in Buffalo better than HNIC, Ron and Don, especially with the upcoming Hockey Day in Canada (mentioned previously). The passing of the first of the year only means the Stanley Cup playoffs are a mere 4 months away!

05) Snow Days.
City closing blizzards that keep everyone cozy at home watching movies and drinking hot chocolate or tea. Of course, having your own business, located conveniently on the same property, means no snow-days off from work!

04) Trip to Florida (perhaps...)
The kids are itching to see their grandparents and friends in the strip mall capitol of the US, the US's own boot, 'shorts-with-parkas' territory- Florida. We'll see about that one.

03) Fresh Snowfall.
I love a fresh snowfall that conveniently covers the dirt and grime of the city overnight. Though the beauty usually only lasts until the plows go by and undercover the filth, but for that brief moment in time when all is white- it is so nice.

02) Silence.
The city fabric comes with its own set of sounds, sometimes disturbing- boomin' car stereos, partying kids across the street in the frat-house apartment, drunken people wandering up and down the street yelling for no good reason at a no good hour. The cold weather makes the crazies retreat indoors and with the windows shut tight- you just can't hear the ones that are still out there. BONUS BEATS- No More 24 hours of xmas tunes!

01) Ice Bowl (Winter Classic)-Hockey Outdoors!!
Pond hockey gone big time- though I will be watching in the comfort of my home and not outside like the some 80,000 maniacs, but with the home team playing outdoors, firends and family over, Sabres on a hot streak (6 wins in a row), all hockey eyes on Bflo... it doesn't get any better that this! Go Sabs! What a way to start the new year!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Billion Dollar Babies

Behind The Typeface- Cooper Black

A humorous, yet historically accurate homage to the life and times of a much-maligned font, 1922's Cooper Black.

Simply, friendly, yet bold. Loved by Hobo- rivaled by the stronger Futura Black.

The history of Cooper Black includes many ups and downs- from the low points (patent denied, patent registered, patent taken away) to the highlights (the rebirth on the cover of the Beach Boys 1966's Pet Sounds LP).

So sit back and enjoy this installment of Cheshire Dave’s Behind The Typeface- Cooper Black. Don't hate him because he is the Garfield logo, remember he is also the Archie's logo!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Every (snow)day is Like Sunday

Thanks to the folks that dropped by for the party this weekend.
Much appreciated.

Santa Conquers the Martians. It has begun to snow (and they say, it's going to keep on snowing for a day or so). Time to buckle down with 10-days to go to the holiday landing at our house. Out-of-town presents to go in the mail and that inevitable trip to the big wine store in Kenmore.

We got the tree up, so we can go on "holiday lights only" mode. The snow gives the holidays the real "holiday" feel. Until you have to try and drive somewhere. I have made many a blizzard road trip for emergency provisions and the not so emergency ones (we once drove out to Niagara Falls Blvd. to pick up a TV- I know, shame us..Blizzard of Dec. 95 I think?). The 4-wheel drive is really a necessity around these parts. J. has to take a early run in the morning to the market for lime juice and Heresey (I meant it that way, ed.) Kisses- the cookie making machine is behind schedule! Snow will not stop her.

We might get snowed in for a day but Sunday's an official hunker down day already... and Sunday's the bigger paper (barely, we might need the NYTimes on a Sunday like this) and we got a new HOW and a new PRINT- we worked pretty hard over the last few days, weeks, months, year.... and j. just wants to make cookies anyways.

There is something about back-to-back Sabres wins and the just started 3rd period (of the second game-- west coast hockey: Canucks vs. Oilers-- on Hockey Night in Canada--not to be confused with Hockey DAY in Canada) make it realy feel like winter.

Talk to you on Monday.

Friday, December 14, 2007

The Right Profile

Buffalo Rising's Laura Sargent does a Q & A with me about our W2R Open House Holiday Sale! She asks about designing Tees and some of our other buffalo-based cleints. I attempted to sound witty and smart... well, I tried anyways...

Very cool, read it here.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

D.A.N.C.E. to The Music

I ran across this awesome video and I had to post it. This is a mix of almost everything I love, all rolled into one musical experience.

This video for French band Justice includes:
> groovy French Synth dance pop
> t-shirts
> graphic design, by the boatloads
> kids spelling
> colors on black and white

J. has told me this video for "d.a.n.c.e." is old news, but I am gonna post it anyways:

And if you think that is cool, see their performance on Jimmy Kimbel Live where a "band" performs it dressed as Michael Jackson, Prince, Stevie Wonder, Rick James and I believe, Rod Stewart?

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Oh! You Pretty Things!

Shameless Self Promotion-

Join us for the Where To Roam Holiday Sale & Open House this weekend!

Friday, Dec. 14th - noon-8pm
Saturday, Dec 15th - noon-5pm

Music • Shirts • Snacks & Holiday Cheer • Scarves • Conversations About Design & Popular Culture • Hoodies • Christmas Movies & more.....

Come visit the design studio & meet the graphic design (us) team behind the popular W2R clothing line & save 10% on all items. Great gifts for the Buffalo-lovers on your list!


Visit the W2R website for details

Hope to see you here!
mark + jill

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

All The Pictures On The Wall

Cool Event Alert:
Night of 1000 Images and (Advertising Club of Buffalo) Holiday Party
Thursday, Dec 6th
6:00 p.m. - 9:30 p.m.
(Sabres play late this night!)
Keystone Film Productions
825 Main Street, Buffalo

Join the local graphic artists, marketing folks, web dudes & dudettes, writers, illustrators and all around design geeks (that is I) for this second annual event-- which is a cool mix of 'party' and digital 'photography' show. ACB members submit up to 5 digital photos that are shown on a wall via projector. The event features food, beer, wine, conversation and cool DJ music provided by Scott and I.

Members are FREE and guests are only $10.00 at the door (that includes the refreshments). The festivities will benefit Toys For Tots of WNY, so be sure to bring a toy for the area’s deserving young children.

For more info Check out the website of deja blu or ACB.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Hitsville U.K.

My poster for the Strummer benefit (read all about it below this post) is featured on the official Strummerville website.

They used our poster graphic as the link for the "Benefit Gigs" section, under Latest News on the home page. Very cool, check it out!

To think, Mick Jones could be looking at my poster right now! I hope he like it...

Monday, November 26, 2007


Rarely, but once in a while, I get to reinterpret the same theme over and over and over again. Such is the case with a few event posters that we have designed. Two events have challenged us to recreate a few times. Coffee & Chocolates- the Literacy Volunteers fundraiser has had us design a poster for the last 7 years. Another one has been the yearly Joe Strummer tribute concert. This fundraiser begun the year following the Clashman's death (2002) and has continued up until this year. It was started by Clash-fan and local rocker, Chris Malachowski (Wolf Tickets). The money goes to support Strummerville: the Joe Strummer Foundation for New Music and the event features a variety of Buffalo musicians and bands playing Clash songs.

Six years in a row I have been asked to reinvent the graphics to be used for our poster design. Each year the title is based on a clash song such as: Rebel Waltz, Death or Glory or Revolution Rock. This year it was Gangsterville. It is a fun challenge to try and make the same thing different everytime. All of the posters have been punk rock by nature and feature a photo of the man himself. The type is usually manipulated to add to the punk aesthetic and the color scheme is simple-- black and another color; often red.

This is a project I love to do! The inspiration comes from the Strummer image used and the name of the event that was chosen. I love the cut and paste graphic style and the 1st draft can be completed in a few hours as opposed some design projects that get agonized over. Since basically the same information gets carried from poster to poster, I can transfer the text without having to typeset it. Since the Strummer images are off the web and are low-res, they lend themselves to over-manipulation and 'photoshopping'; again adding to the grungy graphic style.

Some are better than others- it depends on how inspired I was that year. See for yourself: there is a jpg version of each poster here. Clicking on the images will move you though all 6 versions that I have done so far. Let me know which one you like the best?

This year's event is at the Mohawk Place on December 22- come on out!

Friday, November 16, 2007

Eric B For President

So I am planning on making a cool mix tape, actually a CD, for the holidays. I made 2 good ones in the beginning of the year- a rock and a disco one. I took them on vacation and passed them out to my Florida friends, and then did the same in Buffalo when I got back. They seemed to like them.

So far I have 2 songs titles scratched out on a yellow post-it notes. The birth of the last mix tape of 2007 is underway! The song list has begun.

There are 2 ways that the mix tape is given birth.

The first is the live mix- where you starts pulling stuff off the shelves and out of the bins and mix it live- DJ style.

The second is this one, the slow deliberate plan of a mix tape. In this modern age of computers and the webinernet, I will keep loading tracks on this here laptop, until I have enough that go good together in some sort of musical lump. Then I will take them and start arranging them, mixing up the order until there is born some sort of flow.

I will usually burn a few test versions, make a few edits to the song order and then BAM the mix is finished! Then I will spend some time coming up with some groovy artwork and a catchy title. The music and the graphics must go together. As you saw from an earlier camping post, I come from a long line of mix tape titlers: some are funny, poignant, some are inside jokes and pop culture references and all attempt to sum up the feeling of that batch of songs contained within.

So far as I have 2 songs- we'll see how it goes....

BONUS BEATS: It looks like the Sabs are a few minutes from actually winning a game!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Like a Rolling Stone

John Berg was art director at Columbia/CBS Records from 1961-1985 and he created some of the more recognizable LP covers in the industry. This was a time when LPs ruled and the 12 x 12" format give many graphic artists, illustrators and photographers a chance to do some really cool things visually.

As a kid I spent many an evening listing to my headphones and staring at the record cover and reading the accompanying liner notes. These square canvasses were defiantly an influence on my career decision. Unfortunately, as I became of age as a graphic artist, at Buff State in the mid 1980s, the CD was born and the 12 x 12" canvas was eventually replaced by the smaller 5-1/2" square. Not the same; and I never got chance to design a proper album cover.

Paul Nini is a professor in the Department of Design at the Ohio State University and he interviewed John Berg for the AIGA website. This is a great look into the art director's collaboration with artists (Milton Glaser, Richard Avedon, etc), and Berg's design philosophy while creating some very famous LP covers including the Springsteen Born to Run gatefold, Dylan's Blond on Blond, 14 Chicago covers and Big Brother's Cheap Thrills with the R. Crumb illustration (the art was delivered to his office by Janis herself).

Read it online here. A great interview with a true design legend.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

A Message To You Rudy

The Selector.

Like design, DJing-- and I always say this-- is not always about the technique, the maddest-skillz, or the perfect crossfade. It is about the perfect selection. And its about the happiest of accidents... sometimes when beats, and tunes, and melody and themes collide. Sometimes it is a mangled wreck as beats slam into each other or climb over each other gratingly mismatched. But other times, it makes sense- beautiful, melodic sense.

I have been making mix tapes for friends and soon-to-be-friends and acquaintances for almost 30 years now. Ever since I got a hand-me down, Radio Shack Realistic all-in-one (featuring AM/FM/FM stereo radio-record player-8-track) I have been transferring source to tape. It starts with a full LP borrowed from a friend. But taping to 8-track or cassette, you always had that extra bunch of minutes at the end. My dad used to begin the record over and repeat as many of the first fews songs he could squeeze on that fourth track (of the 8-track). Usually he got a song or two and another 1/2 song on the end. But then I started to add other songs, songs from different LP, LPs that I only liked a few of the songs or had a few favorites. Then I started to put in songs from many different records as filler at the end of a tape. Well then you think, "Hey I can make a whole tape from a whole bunch of different records!" Now we got something here!!- the mix tape was born. And I am sure the actual birth of the actual first mix tape was born of a similar light bulb experience as mine. I didn't even know you could do this?! Some people would record a LP and add nothing else, just leave unrecorded tape. Yes, unrecorded tape!!

So as you start to pick songs for the tapes- you pick songs that go good together. You start to select songs that maybe follow a common theme (we'll discuss the theme tape at a later date- ed.). Then the tapes get passed around, they get played at parties, they get given as gifts.

Well anyway, as I get older and being a bit of a social misfit, I would start digging through someone's music at a party. It begins as a conversation piece but it ends up as, "Hey you don't mind of I play a few songs do you?" next thing you know, I would be DJing the party by playing many songs in a row. Picking records and playing songs.

Then I met my friend Matthew (dj MKO and later just KO) who had a set of turntables permanently set up in his living room. "Hey you don't mind of I play a few songs do you?" So you can see where this leads to... hooking up some hand me down turntables to a cheap-ass mixer and what-do-you-know, an amateur-professional DJ is born.

Well that became a nice side job- playing music (records and CDs) in a bar. Actually a lot of bars: Old Pink, New Pink, Atomic, Concrete, 3rd Room, Crash Club (my 1st paying gig), Goodbar, Mohawk Place, Kingsnake, 658, O, Blu, Icon, Tralf, Pearl Street- and those are only the ones I can remember. Parties, art gallery openings, opening gigs for bands...

Well I have never been a beat-mixer, as the kids call it. Lord knows I have tried to match beats, seamlessly transforming songs from one to another. Sometimes it happens, and it is so sweet- but mostly I am what is known as a selector. I can pick songs, great songs (at least I think they are all great) that go together. And when you stream a lot of songs in a row that go together- you have something- the mix.

Now I have seen kids that were great precision DJs. They were like surgeons-- they could blend 10 songs together and it sounded like one long song. But that was usually 10 songs in about 10 minutes! Ten songs they picked (and practiced) to follow one another in succession. The mix was scientifically correct- a soulless flop. It lacked everything that music is suppose to be about, and it turn, what the mix is suppose to be about- heart and the soul. Like James Brown said, "Bobby, what ever it is, it gots to be funky."

Now I am not baggin' on the other DJs, the real DJs as some like to call them... some of them are my friends. I have settled into being alright with the fact that I was never, and probably will never be, a perfect mixer. I would rather be the perfect selector any day. You never know when those 2 songs, that you never planned to go together, suddenly find themselves going together. As long as you could fade one song over the next- and they are about the same tonal quality-- it works. I would often leave for a deja blu gig, not even knowing what was in my record bag. Now I would have a general idea- I wasn't carting around a lot of punk rock, Sabbath, Sugar or Doors to play at the Kingsnake- but a lot of DJs bring an exact set, a pre-planned set of music to play in a preset succession. I prefer to kind of wing it. To bring a lot things I like ( or haven't played in a while) and make it up on the spot. Things that aren't suppose to be played together can go together- it just works that way. And that is what keeps me doing it- the happy mistakes, the gut feeling, the unplanned plan- the beautiful magic of the selector when things go just right.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Tiny Voices

Taste bitter defeat when facing Brocco-Lee!!

Who is the superest hero of them all?

Two illustrator's continue a running online battle by plying their graphics skills with a good dose of humour (they're English) as they go back and forth drawing new superheros whose powers must trump the previous heroes to be declared the winner.

After over a year and 28 illustrations later- the battle rages on between Kevin Cornell and Matthew Sutter which started with
The Un-Oppose-inator
(who will win every batter provided there's no opposition)

One of my favorites has to have been when
Detoxitron beat out Alco-Hal (pictured above).

Check it out here at The Superest!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Cemetry Gates

Buffalo graphic artist Don Keller is having a cool art opening this Saturday (Oct 27th) at The Allen Street Hardware Store Cafe in Allentown, Buffalo, NY entitled Images of Horror and Imagination.

Don, a kindred spirit (my 1st advertising firm job @ Steve James Design- followed Don leaving...), who has always had a taste for the offbeat and sublime, offers some season-appropriate digital illustrations. Built in Illustrator and Photoshop-- printed on large 30 x 24-ish Epson archival paper-- the images are very graphic and haunting, starring classic horror characters/themes including "The Witch", "Nosferatu" and the "Bride" (of Frankenstein). The show will feature some of Don's pop-art images and some paintings as well.

Buffalonian's might immediately recognize some of the images which have appeared as Artvoice Halloween issue covers. The art, which has an airbrushed softness, is paired with a dark-edged starkness & bold colors. The Witch features an enchanted figure with rich red stringy hair, a soft green complexion and a small hint of cleavage-- there is usually a bit of sex in Don's work. Behind her are some unsettling faces floating under a glowing forest sky. Seeing these digital images at full size-- as compared to the small samples here or the standard AV cover-- will give many of them a possessing & creepy man-size scale.

The show opens this Saturday, October 27th (9:00 PM) with the exhibition continuing through Thanksgiving, 2007 at The Allen Street Hardware Store Cafe which is located at 245 Allen Street in Buffalo, NY (at the end, before the curve, across from Nietzsche's).

Bonus Beats: Don was one of our Living With Fame graphic artist interviews from way back when (flashback).

All images copyright ©2007 Don Keller.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

City of The Dead

RIP- our big tree.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Down at The Tube Station at Midnight

Print Magazine online has an article about the expanded font set Johnson Underground, designed by local font gurus P22.

The article speculates about the popularity of Gill Sans over Johnson Underground- a font famous to all London train riders, designed in 1916 for the London Transit Authority by Edward Johnson. This font had a popular rebirth with the digital remix years ago by P22, which was again remixed on it's latest addition (2007) of a super, powerful pro pack. It's like getting all those bonus tracks/beats on your extended music CD.

I have always loved the font, and it's delightful curves- it was like riding on the subway or a mountain pass highway. But it was clearly missing the extended faces, specifically an italic (I always slanted it in Illustrator- yuck) and bold (same deal, adding a stroke to beef it up).... but now we got it all including: thin, medium, heavy, small caps, light, demi and more.

The P22 website states that the Pro font collectively contains over 5000 glyphs! Holy extras, Batman!!

Was the font designer Eric Gill just trying to improved on the original Johnson Underground font with his Gill Sans- a very popular font? Let the type-geek discussion begin at

Monday, October 15, 2007

A Rush And A Push And The Land Is Ours

Communication Arts online has posted a great feature on designing with type- Type is a Many Splendored Thing. For some designers, type poses a great and difficult task- the balance of light and heavy, the space between characters, between sentences, between block of copy and headlines- but a satisfying challenge worth conquering. The CA piece states:

Typography is complex, an intricate science. To the designer, and connoisseur of type, choosing to use a particular font in one’s work is a big decision. The implications are huge; the characters carry weight in terms of how they are perceived as well as what they are referencing.
This is exactly why I love to especially design posters and logos. A lot of the logos we design are built upon type-- often merging a symbol with text characters. The fun part for me is always the careful balancing of the individual characters. The same with posters, using bold and visually strong fonts, it is often about the perfect space between the characters, not just the characters themselves.

Read the article online- it features a really cool gallery of examples including last year's Typecon poster art designed by Roy Burns & Clifford Stoltze. The tagline was "Boston T Party" and featured multiple variations of the the letter T on tea bag shapes. Designing a type poster for type people- could this be one of the greatest challenge of all!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Who Needs Forever

Another one of those clever top ten lists for no particular rhyme or reason... just needed something.

Top 10 Things I Have Learned This Past Month (though some of them I already knew....) --

10) The Wiggles have absolutely no-talent and are weird old guys (similar to Jay Leno).

09) Rock is not dead.

08) Getting older is not bad. It gets better- look at wine.

07) Some girls are bigger that other girl's mothers.

06) Getting out of the office is good.

05) Don't sit and wait. Do.

04) Meat is murder.

03) Helvetica used to seem awfully plain-- but it is not, it is very cool.

02) The past lives in cyberspace (at least the last 10 years or so)

01) Don't say 'yes' when you really mean 'maybe....'

00) Don't trust the internet. She lies.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Waiting For The Sun

Waiting, wait, wait, wait.......

This Friday is a waiting day.

I am waiting for our development team to deliver, so I can present to a client.

I am waiting for a freelancer to finish a project.

I am waiting for some clients to get back to me, so we can move forward on a few jobs.

I am waiting for the drop of the puck for today's 1st Sabres game of the 2007-08 season.

I am waiting to hear color-man Harry Neale call his 1st game as a member of the Sabs broadcast team.

I am waiting to see that 1st Sabres goal of the regular season- who will it be? Any guesses...? (I saw ex-Sab Danny Briere score for his new team- Philly- last night on CBC).

I have been waiting 6 weeks for the tree executioners to come back like they threatened they would- they have not. Are they not coming.......??

I am waiting for design inspiration to strike like a bolt from today's clear blue (and extremely warm for Oct. 5th) sky.

I am waiting for my lost friend 'Uncle Rico' to finally contact me- it has been over a year!

I am waiting for that new client to call back like he said he would.

I am waiting to get paid on SOME PAST DUE invoices (but alas, the mail already came today with no ducats).

I am waiting for it to snow like it did that one October Friday- right about this time, I believe last year (very scary prospect)!

I am waiting for Saturday- I hope the weather is as nice as it is today! I won't have to work and can spend the day with the family.

I am waiting for an email back from a friend.

I am waiting for the song title to pop into my head.. what is that song I keep hearing!?!?! it's got a hip-hop I beat and you can really bug out to it.

I am waiting for a call back (there's the phone now!... false alarm).

I am waiting to have lunch- I think I'll just do that- one less thing to wait for.....

Monday, October 1, 2007

Tryin' To Throw Your Arms Around The World

INDEX: is a global non-profit network organization that focuses on Design to Improve Life – e.g. design that substantially improves important aspects of human life – worldwide.

Every two years in Copenhagen, awards are given in five categories and the winner in each category receives a prize of €100 000. The winning designs are chosen by an international jury consisting of leading designers, design researchers, design writers and design thinkers from Europe, Asia and the U.S.

Announced August 24, the winners include:

BODY: Mobility for Each One
A super-cheap to produce ($8 US dollars!!!) prosthetic leg created by this Canadian designer.

HOME: Solar Bottle
An easy-to-use water decontamination system. Contaminated water is filled into transparent plastic bottles that when exposed to full sunlight for six hours, the crap in the water is destroyed- making it drinkable.

WORK: Tongue Sucker
A simple-to-use, on the spot medical device designed to stop unconscious folks from dying inspired by the London terrorists bombings in 2005. Designed by industrial engineers team from the Imperial College and the Royal College of Art in the UK.

PLAY: Tesla Roadster
The Tesla Roadster is a 100% electric vehicle, with zero emissions and zero-to-sixty acceleration in four seconds. Full electric and sporty too! Zippy!

The XO Laptop is aimed to increase computer literacy around the world-- 99 % of children in developing countries leave school without having touched a computer. It is about the size of a textbook and lighter than a lunchbox, making it easy for children to carry. XO is designed to be used in parts of the world where many classes are taught outside, and therefore it is sunlight-readable as well as shock and moisture resistant. Very Mac-looking...

Winner of the 2007 People's Choice Award: Antivirus – a cap to protect against needle infections.

For full details, photos and information about the organization view the website.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Less Than You Think

Graphic designers are the new DJs.

I paid a visit to Krudmart on Elmwood Ave. yesterday to check out the cool Tees and I thought this was a pretty funny graphic- graphic desigr. Everyone wants to be/is a graphic designer, you know... Everyone with a computer and a mouse is 'designing'. Stevie is right, everyone is doing it. Unfortunately you need skills to do both...

As my friend Nate always says about DJs... 'Look at me, I am playing other people's music!"

Fall is upon us. The tree still stands 4 weeks later. And we don't stop rockin'-- courtesy of the latest Scion CD featuring Chicago DJs Flosstradamus!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

So Hard Done By


I have been in a real font mood ever since I saw Gary Hustwit's Helvetica movie a few months back, and on top of all that, hearing the news that TypeCon will be in Buffalo next Summer is awesome! Like I had previously mentioned, Jill and I attended the Toronto edition in 2002, and it was a lot of fun.

Anyway with fonts on the mind, I give you this little bit of font-geekery. Mark Simonson, freelance graphic designer and type designer from St. Paul, Minnesota (who started in graphic design in 1976- my kind of guy!) has published this interesting bit about movies using incorrect fonts. Fonts out of place, mostly fonts from different eras misplaced-- like fonts from the '70s appearing in movies supposedly set in the 40s?! Ha! Attention to detail- very important!

The article is called Typecasting: The Use (and Misuse) of Period Typography in Movies and it includes references to Chocolat-- set in the '50s using ITC Benguiat, a typeface which debuted in 1978 and was mainly popular in the '80s and Ed Wood-- set in the '50s using Chicago, the original Macintosh system font (TrueType version, 1991). It also details movies that have painstakingly correctly used period fonts as well.

Pretty font geeky, I must say. Read it/view it/click it hear.

Another cool article Mark Simonson has written is 'The Scourge of Arial".
You graphic freaks know what I am talking about.... Helvetica it ain't!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Check the Mic

Contextual Design Workshop has come up with a cool alternate for an iPod case made from reclaimed cassette tape cases. And you thought you saw the last of the lowly cassette. 45 different tapes are available including the TDK D-90, TDK SA-90, and the popular BASF CR-S II 90.

If you buy one would you scribble a title across it? Check them out.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

32 Flavors

Food and t-shirts- together at last.

Lifelounge asked 22 designers to come up with a T design based on assigned flavour of ice cream. The results have been posted, check them out. One of my favorites is French Vanilla designed by Australian artist Dylan Martorell.

They are not cheap, but the are limited edition and come in a really cool package. Proceeds from the sale of these limited edition shirts goes to various charities (helping to feed the homeless).

Here are the 22 complete tees ready for your consumption. Get in lickety-split.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Skyscraper.... I Love You

New York's Metropolis Magazine has always been an interesting mix of design and architecture. The masthead describes the mag as:

"Metropolis examines contemporary life through design—architecture, interior design, product design, graphic design, crafts, planning, and preservation. Subjects range from the sprawling urban environment to intimate living spaces to small objects of everyday use."
Online they posted a neat feature to celebrate last year's 25 years in print (25 YEARS OF ARCHITECTURE DESIGN) which is a slide show retrospect of 25 memorable covers from the past and moments associated with them.

It is interesting to see how the older covers had a cutting edge feel (for the time) but still had a pasted togetherness about them. We had a subscription back in the late 90s and I remember the cover possessing a strange, modern, old fashioned vibe. I was always inspired by the masthead getting lopped off the page-- too close to the edge? Metropolis is always a great intersection of design-life-building things.

METROPOLIS- Covering Design for 25 Years (link launches a Flash page)

Monday, September 10, 2007

Swamp Music

The posts have been far and few in-between as we ran smack right into September. The kids are at school and we have been digging in deep as our design company is busy, busy, busy. On top of all that we have just received some bad news-- the city is going to cut down the huge tree in front of my house!

The tree is the oldest one on my block and it is uncool that is has been marked for execution. Though a few 'experts' have reviewed it and said it is probably not long for this world-- but ya know, it has lasted this long and it is full of GREEN leaves.... It is probably just a causality of the 'October-Storm-tree-chopping' that has run rampant in the Queen City.

So we will bid farewell to an old friend- the tree-killers are planning on coming back Thursday or Friday to execute her and all her majestic beauty. It is gonna leave quite a bare spot on our lawn, the street and in our hearts.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Saturday Night Style

It's hard to believe I have been DJing for over 15 years. Scott and I have gone under the moniker of déjà blü for 10 years this November. That is why, in this reflective state I have been in lately (man, I must be really old?!) I have been reminiscing about the last 10 years of team déjà blü. Playing this Saturday at Pearl Street will really be a pleasure and I hope all you old timers can come on out to reminisce with yer grooves on!

When we started, we played at the corner of the bar at Kingsnake on Tuesday nights- that is where the re-rebirth of the kool began. We moved on to special events and some memorable Saturday nights with vibrating speakers falling from the walls, Curtis doing backflips off the wall and the place packed wall-to-wall.

After the demise of the original Kingsnake, we moved to Wednesday nights and then Friday happy hours at 658 on Main Street. In 2001 the party moved to that sushi joint on Main Street near UB and then a group of Saturdays at Off The Wall.

Anyway, that's the brief history of our residencies. Scott did a bunch of stints at the old Pink and Prespa for a while, but besides that, we have been on the events-only train. I like DJing art openings and gallery events the best- the crowd is very receptive to the deja-groove (except for the staff party at AKAG that one time- ugh) and they pay well!

Hope to see you this Saturday night on the patio at Pearl Street- should be a good one! See cool flyer and deja web 4 more info. Peace.

My top 10 déjà event gigs (so far):

Wed Nov 27th, Thanksgiving Eve, 1999
658, Bflo, NY
The people danced for 5 hours straight to old school hip-hop and straight up Acid Jazz.

Fri Nov 20th, 1998
South Loft Party, Main St., Bflo, NY
The other DJ passed out while at the party, so we had to keep the grooves flowin'.

Sun May 9th, 1999
Kingsnake Lounge, Bflo, NY
Open for Karl Denson's Tiny Universe at this little club and that band loved us!

Thurs Sept 5th, 2002
Albright Knox Art Gallery, Bflo, NY
New Ambience One: New Group Event w/ Odiorne
Got to spin intro/background while Jimy Chamber's band made cool noise!

Thurs Dec 23rd, 2004
Mohawk Place, Bflo, NY
Revolution Rock - A Tribute to Joe Strummer & The Clash
We spun punk and dub between bands at the rock club.

Fri Nov 7, 2003
Daemen College, Amherst, NY
p22 presents Typografia feat. déjà blü with Odiorne
One of our many Daemen art opening gigs, again sharing bill w/ astronauts Odiorne

Thur Aug 10th and Thur Aug 17th, 2000
Thur Aug 23rd 2001
Calumet Arts Café, Buffalo, NY
Open Space Open Mind guests of The Waz- 3 great outdoor patio gigs!

Sat. Jan 18th, 2006
Off The Wall, Bflo, NY
The last of Funk Skool with Dj Pharoah

Sat.May 13th, 2005
Central Train Terminal, Bflo, NY
Spencer Tunick/Albright Knox Art Opening
See photos to see for yourself- simply awesome- great space, great event!

Sat Dec 26th, 1998
Kingsnake Lounge, Bflo, NY
déjà blü Christmas Party
Their biggest crowd in the 'Snake (pre-swing days)!
Scotty referred to this event the following year as "our best gig ever!"

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Monkey Gone To Heaven

At first it seems kinda strange to be typing on my computer in the middle of a cabin, in the middle of the woods in the middle of a steady rain (while listening a live Pixies cassette). Then I just have to think of Bill Murray portraying Hunter Thompson in Where the Buffalo Roam and it seems alright. I haven't see a giant bat, though I am in the woods, so you never know.

When you own your small-medium business, it is hard to truly get away. We have a few clients, and some new prospects on the horizon, than need constant attention. Good thing the campground's 'entrance/store/owner's home' offers a free wi-fi hotspot. Although I cannot get internet access at The Longhouse, our cabin, I can get it up top of the hill. So I will do a few things- drive up tomorrow AM and afternoon and answer some emails, etc. I can make some calls on the cellular (another camping intrusion I would have never believed) from the cabin which is nice as well.

And although there has been a steady rain since this morning, it has not dampened our camping spirits. We have had a fire cooking in the cabin stove for the last 9 hours, which we cooked dinner in, and I got a beat-up suitcase (labeled the 'Vacationeer') full of old cassette tapes. A lot of them are mix tapes from our first road trip to Graceland some 15 years or so- they are good-fun-travel mixes circa early '90s....

.. so I gotta go back and stoke the fire a bit, the only reason I am writing this is everyone else is sleeping and I gotta charge the laptop. Happy trails to ya!

Top 10 Cassette Titles (I have in the suitcase)
Which, Over The Years, Have Become Some Of Our Campin' FAVs:

10. Hillbilly Music

09. NIGHT: Four Songs

08. July 18, 1994ISM's

07. tim, let it be & more mats

06. The Journey Continues VOL. 48

05 Rare Hip b/w DJ Brac vs. Space Ghost

04. SwelterFest '98 b/w Turn Up Dat Heat- FL, USA

03. Let's Pretend We're Married; the Prince collection vol. 1

02. ROAD TRIPPIN' 1993 + BEYOND b/w The Tape that actually has ELVIS Songs


Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Concrete Jungle

The Return of the Product.

Scotty and I return to DJ once again!

This being the 10th anniversary year of the birth of déjà blü (gigography here). We started way back spinning records on the left hand corner of the bar at the Kingsnake Lounge on Chippewa on a Tuesday night in November 1997. Damn!- see some old photos here.

Back then, there was little to no DJ music being played anywhere in Bflo. on a weeknight that wasn't rock at the Old Pink or some 'boom-chick-a-boom' club thingy. We were playing what was called trip hop, acid jazz, abstrakt hiphop and drum + bass.

This special event is gonna be a real mover- a Saturday nite on the patio of the Pearl Street. The admission (and the sunset)-- free! We are spinning all kinds of good grooves from 8 PM until Midnight.. its an early evening casbah and an excellent way to start your Saturday night on the first weekend of Sept.... Damn, the summer is fast, eh? Whoooosh....

I know I am always going on and on about the similarities between DJing and graphic design- the cut and paste aesthetic that makes it all so unique as we appropriate other ideas into something new. Come on down and witness it in action for yourselves....

The event is titled Concrete Skyline, as we are DJing outdoors in this wonderfully urban setting that is the Pearl Street patio... and if you look really closely, you can still see a sliver of the lake between all the steel and concrete. This is the inaugural event of the new Land of the Lost DJ Sessions (more info to come on this one).

Clcik here for more details and to see the groovy poster.

Some of the rejected names (for your amusement) from the design/development process of the Concrete Skyline poster:

Final Movement 07

Fire in The Kingdom

Aging Rebel DJ Party

Original Sin Saturday

Summer Regrets

Beats + Pieces

Saturday City Lounge

The Happening

Future Bitter Memories

Hope to see you there- September One!

Monday, August 13, 2007

Somewhere Down That Lazy River

Today the New York Times ran an article about one of our clients, Vintage Canoeworks. The website we designed for them (linked above) is mentioned in the article and linked off the online edition. Very cool!

read the article here:
Boats With Stories to Tell, Rescued From Obscurity
Published: August 14, 2007

Thursday, August 9, 2007

My Philosophy

As I was just playing some records (mixing some Steve Martin over a great Young MC instrumental- no foolin'), I thought about the design of mixing and layering and coming up with something new... and then I thought about this cool video I saw once and found it.

This Wednesday video is an old school super jam for "the last Arsenio Hall show". I originaly saw this on the krudmart blog, but ran across it again on YouTube. As Arsenio sits on the edge of the stage, we run through the likes of Yo-Yo, Naughty By Nature, Tribe including Q-tip, Fu-Schnickens, CL Smooth, Guru, Das EFX, Wu-Tang (buy their shoes), and the teacher, KRS-One.

This is an old star super jam and the place goes freaking nuts- giant hip-hop group hug at the end.. and I never ever knew who was DJing?

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Sheila Take a Bow

Type geeks unite (in Buffalo next summer)!!!!

Typecon 2008 in Buffalo, NY!

Big news for all design freaks (especially us topography lovers)-- brought to you by SOTA- The Society of Typographic Aficiondos.

From P22's Richard Kegler:

We will have more details soon, but what this means is 500 people will be
coming to Buffalo July 15-20, 2008 for this annual conference of
international type designers, graphic designers, information designers,
programmers, calligraphers and typographic aficionados.
The OtherWisz team attended Typecon a few years back in Toronto and it was great! Look forward to more info coming soon!

Here is the link to this year's past Typcon in Seattle.

Police On My Back

Snap to guides.

This feature is common to most designers using computers (that would be all of you). This feature helps you to keep everything lined up to the exact pixel. I was wondering if the 'snap to' feature forces us to line everything up, keep all balanced and to stay within the lines? Is this good?

Most great design is a perfect balance between positive and negative, object and space, born of symmetry.... but isn't there a lot of design that is also great that is unbalanced, lopsided or hanging one way more that the other? The visual cacophony of Art Chantry vs. the exquisite balance of say, Paul Rand.

Does that line that is a few pixels too far on one side or the other throw it all off? Being a clean, classic designer myself, I have toyed with the punk rock ethic of Chantry and "grunge" design (as my old mentor Steve James used to call it). But when I venture that direction, it is on purpose. And even then I am forced to balance it all out in some way. It never looks right unless there is some sort of aesthetic balance to the whole piece...

Sure some great designs have been born of accidents, but they are thoughtful, 'snap to grid' accidents.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

The Biz vs. The Nuge

BuffaloRising vs. block club

While Buffalo Rising (the print and the web versions) redesigns themselves, yet again, I thought I would compare them to the new kids on the block- the block club (all lowercase, mind you). Both local magazines are pro-Buffalo booster clubs attempting to remain hipper that you, full of ads for Buffalo bizs with short articles, listings, review, etc, etc, - same audience, right?

Here ya go head-to-head....

BR- Always seems to be printed on really crappy paper- and this is always going to be their design downfall. No matter how cool the pictures or covers are suppose to be, they are always flat and listless, with ink soaked up by the soft pulp it is printed on. I mean, I think the artvoice is on better paper, and it's newsprint for goodness sake!

bc- slick, glossy, beefy-- kind to the ink.

BR- flat and murky.

crisp and spunky.

BR- Well, this is the best layout of their many incarnations, but I still have trouble telling the content from the ads. The new page size is interesting... I am not sure if it such an economical use of the printed sheet size though?

bc- Nifty in it's pocket sized self-- half an 8-1/2 x 11" layout. Maybe too much of a booklet-size to be taking at face value for a magazine...more like a show program.

Name (and the band its make me think about):
BR- Jim Morrison and the Doors, do I have to explain this....?..
bc- Bloc Party (I think they're communists, they have no 'k').

Content (articles):
BR- bc- Both could benefit from some professional journalism, and editing perhaps- but, hey, I've been there...

Overall graphic aesthetics:
BR- This attempt to translate the web into a printed piece, even now carrying over some article branding such as 'tags" and a list of the number of 'online comments'... I don't know about all this..? I mean, who cares how many people have commented online? Does this make the article "hotter' or make me what to read or care about the topic more? No.
bc- It's all a little too rounded. I am surprised they haven't die-cut the corners of the mag itself! But I should talk.. I am always designing with curves- often predicting them as "the future."

BR- They haven't had a good one yet. The new tagline 'nothing happens here that's not on our screen' -- kinda lame. At least the cover paper stock is different that the interior- it's slicker and has a bit more punch. But then what's up with the gold laptops?
bc- single stock photo with the tagline cleverly written on the Popsicle stick. Nice colors, very eye appealing.

BR- There is a story with photos on some dude doing tricks in a parking lot on his trick motorcycle (with 11 comments online!!!!!) and those little personality, online chat-buddy heads- yuck. Ans lastly, what is up with the type graphics accompanying the 2 music articles- the typefaces doesn't change in the entire mag until here, I don't think this was necessary, in fact it was a bad idea... what gives?
bc- Excessive layout curvature; the maps in back- ugh.

BR- An ad with Matt Quagliano in it (just kidding- that's not really a highlight, man that guy is all over), good intent, they have their own typeface.
bc- Photoshoot at the lake- very refreshing, some nice typography (including the headline in 'mustard'), it's san-serify (and I'm a san-serify guy myself).

Final 50 cent-
BR- Their new brand color, this maroon, makes them seem a little snooty actually, the gold laptops, the boast of 'nothing happens here that's not on our screen' ... Always seems too have many stories about buildings (but they get a lot of online comments- NOTE: the proposed Gate Circle Condos story probably has the most at 159!!!!), getting a little tired of the constant redesigns- find something good and stick with it!
bc- seems young and fresh- better design. The funny thing is, with the great color reproduction and slick photos- it looks like a higher end piece that the BR is trying to be.

The winner- whoever sells the most ads, right?

Friday, August 3, 2007

On The Radio

I once went to meet a client at their office. I had already given the proposal to my contact and as we were reviewing it, the company president came in to meet me. We chatted amicably for a few minutes. We talked about OtherWisz and the fact that my office is is in the same neighborhood he lived in. We talked about the history of the OtherWisz barn/office, which was a band practice spot for years and how my house had been owned by some great, local musicians in the past.

Then he asked me a question that I will never forget.

He looked at me and asked, "What did you listen to in your car on the way over here?"

I thought to myself, "Why would a president of a corporation ask me such a question?" I smiled and answered, with no regret "Prince: Controversy."

He smiled back and said, "I don't have a lot of Prince." he didn't say he didn't or did like Prince, but I assumed he did, since he continued on, "I was listening to this great Bob Dylan CD......"

And we proceeded to chat, I thought what a great ice-breaker. I think I will use this when I interview freelance artists and interns from now on. What a great way to get to know a person. I mean if I ask someone and they say 'Kenny Chesney' or something equally offensive, I would have to take a close look to see if this is the sort of person that could work in our office.

What did you listen to on your way to work today? Let me know....

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

3 Feet High & Rising

Or is just my De la clothes?

This Wednesday's video is De la Soul giving us Me Myself & I- live on the Arsenio Hall show. Its live, so its really cool- even for a hip hop act- it's a moment frozen in time. PA Mase mixes it up, even spinning in some of the piano break from "Ain't Hip To Be Labeled a Hippie!" As I write this I find De La has just released a new CD (more info here).

"Strictly from a Dan called Stuckie, It's just Me, Myself and I..." Those crazy suburban rappers!

If you search for "live Arsenio Hall" you will find live performances from Big Daddy Kane, 2Pac, Sugarcubes, Sinead O' Connor, Megadeath and more... (plus a lot of bad Whitney Houston type crap).

Friday, July 27, 2007

Sweet and Tender Hooligan

Are my designs beautiful because I am beautiful?

Check out this hilarious video called "Designer Slash Model" created by Digital Kitchen. All you graphics folks, especially you hot graphics folks, (you know who you are) are gonna get a kick out of this. Chrissy is great!

There aren't many Saul Bass Slash Heidi Klums out there!

For the higher res version, go to the website : Designer Slash Model

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Party For Your Right To Fight

Old school hiphop video- clip from the Joan Rivers show live- Beastie Boys "Fight For Your Right."

These guys look like dirty faced punks- love it! Gyrating girls, smoke bombs, and the intro from Joan- priceless. Rock and roll mixed with B-boy styling- again, priceless!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Pick Up The Pieces

Things are good in the world of OtherWisz!

The home improvements projects are complete for now, the office renovation, switch-a-roo is just about complete.

We have a lot of cool work going on: brochures, logos, posters, great big websites and more.

Where to Roam gear is hot lately and selling great!

And most of all, the DJ sound system is in place in the soon-to-be-complete OtherWisz lounge/conference room/t-shirt store. We are in an all vinyl mode as I spend the next few weeks organizing, thinning the record herd and cranking out some long-lost grooves from my collections of hundreds of LPs, 12" singles, 45s and a few 10" records. Ignore the CDs for now.

DJing has always been a relaxing, therapeutic release for me and it has actually been out of my life for a bit. Scott and I have had some deja blu gigs this year, but I haven't just been playing for fun, to relax, or to treat my senses to some fine grooves, phat beats, college flashbacks, new sounds and old.

When my life wasn't so busy-busy-busy in the past (before owning our own companies, dogs and children) I used to hang with some friends and play music, drink adult beverages and smoke cigarettes (I have quit so long ago that it is ancient history at this point). I mean that is what we did for fun- just play music for hours and hours.... I am not complaining about how things are now, but it is time to fit some down time into all this mad rush- play some long forgotten records and chill.

When you have so much to do, you forget the downtime is as important as the uptime. When the lounge is all done, we'll have you guys over, eh?

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Son of Byford

The old school video for this Wednesday is another classic "Hit It Run" by Run DMC. The beatbox with the samples are awesome. Tell your bunch I'm boss, I run this town.... Man, these guys had the best gear, all leather and unlaced Adidas! Truly raisin' hell!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Lookin' For a Place to Happen

Designed By Humans

A new t-shirt company based on artist's submitted designs has cropped up. Just like the model created by Skinney Corp with their Threadless, Designed By Humans lets you (the artist) submit a design for Tees that are voted on by people who log onto the site. It your design is chosen to get printed you pocket a cool cash prize of $5000!

They have just started, so it looks like they only have 9 or so submitted designs so far. You can submit designs, vote on them, comment on them by joining the DBH community. It is a really cool idea created by Threadless that has spawned a few imitators.

I like the Tees designs by DamageCult, very cool. Check it out. The DBH logo is also similar to the OtherWisz icons (Clients section) we have been using for years.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Make Up Your Mind

Thoughtless Acts- observations on intuitive design

This book by Jane Fulton Suri and the IDEO design group poses some interesting observations on design and how people react/act to it. It details the subtle and sometimes amusing ways in which people, without thinking adapt, use, reuse, respond to and exploit everyday objects.

Examples happening around me everyday include:

  • The bottle guys using shopping carts stolen from supermarkets to collect, transport and travel about the neighborhood (exploit, reuse).

  • Busted parking meters wrapped in a plastic Wegman's bag to signal to the parking meter cop that it is not working (signaling).

  • I use the boxes that Clementines are packaged in at the supermarket to hold CDs - they don't fit perfectly, but they work well enough (reuse, adapting).
This website link gives you a preview of the book and lets site visitors react and comment. You can submit their own observations (& upload photos) on acts performed-- often without thinking-- in relation to design! Very cool.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

The Chameleon

Wednesday's old school hip hop video is Herbie Hancock's "Rock It" from 1983. This was the coolest video in the early days of MTV.

Though it features no rappin', it is a great instrumental with cool robots, Herbie wearing giant gazelle glasses, cool scratch' (DJ Grandmaster D.St.) and an awesome 80's groove. I used to play this really loud when Nate and I DJ'ed Funk Nite a few years back.

I remember being kinda creeped out as a kid by the weird-ass robots, especially the one that appears to be masturbating. Freakin' me out as a youngster!

Bonus Beats: live version- click here!

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Cars Hiss By My Window

It's a warm summer Sunday night with the rumble of coming rains that are needed but might not ever materialize (and didn't).

On the last minute we decided to sell W2R Tshirts at the Buffalo Old Home Week Brunch this afternoon. Last year we also attended the event and met a lot of great people and sold a few Ts. So we went again this year, since it was moved to Shanghi Reds on the waterfront (one of the OttherWisz team's new favs).

The Buffalo venders area was kind of a bust, light in the way of merchandise sales... BUT we had a great brunch and met a lot of really cool Buffalo folks-- so that was good. Jill and I met a nice artist who used draw Dennis the Menace for Hank Ketchum and I got to talk with the original Buffalo Tee guy Michael Morgulis. The girls and I took a long walk to the lighthouse and up it for a nice view of the lake.

I like selling shirts though. Did I mention, the food was good.