Saturday, March 31, 2007

Either Way

Knowing how much I like the Wilco [album] Sky Blue Sky, M. has passed word to me from the band about the new release.
Not that we have a lot of readers, er, any readers, but those that are fans of Wilco- or just intrigued- may be interested in hearing it.

To them, I would suggest going to Wilco's site-
this Sunday night at 12:01am Central time
(or any time for the 24hours following)
for an on demand test drive.

[then you can decide whether it is worth listening to again and purchasing]

They are also releasing 'deluxe version' DVD of Sky Blue Sky and another film of rehearsals, interviews and 'behind the scenes stuff'.

On a side note, I recall a show at ArtPark M. and I attended where Wilco opened for Natalie Merchant- we enjoyed their set so much that Natalie was a let down by comparison and we left...

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

[Sc]ion train is coming our way, the [Sc]ion train is coming our way

The other cd I am thoroughly enjoying is the DJ Cutler cd M. picked up at New World Record a couple weeks ago.
He is the Buffalo artist who won the 'Grand Prize 2006 Free up your Mix' Scion DJ competition, which I hope worked well for him, as they produced his cd. I can't get enough of it.

Speaking of Scion, they recently awarded expat Ray Heinsman, the Scion Floorplan Showroom Design Competition. Ray, a designer and friend from my work with Hadley Exhibits, is $5,000 richer for his efforts. The following is an excerpt from Scion's press release:

The first place title-holder is designer Raymond Heinsman, whose entry is
best described as ergo modern. Heinsman’s design is functional, flexible, and cost
conscious. By creating interchangeable showroom modules, the design reduces
cost, increases lifespan and improves flexibility. All modules can be arranged to accommodate a dealership’s shape and infrastructure, guaranteeing consistency in the Scion environment.
The square showroom echoes a modern-age garage, with a metal railing system that frames out the space. Each module is comprised of two shelving units and two sales areas that allow for privacy. A raised illuminated platform becomes a perfect resting place for the car on display, adding depth and drama to the space. Heinsman’s design accommodates for strong graphics and multimedia presentations.

Anyone who remembers Ray from his stint in UB's School of Architecture will know that he prefered two wheels to four. He was a frequent participant with the monthly Critical Mass rides.
How DC changes a man...

We offer him our congratulations and great success.

See Ray's designs here:

I am intrigued by Scion's commitment to young creative talent. An interesting marketing strategy soliciting talented individuals in music and design. I will look to see where Scion goes with this.

I'm only happy when it rains...

My musical tastes are largely driven by M., as he is the short attention span dj with a large resource of cd's, and well, driving (of which I do the most in the family). Currently, the cd's in the vehicle's system do not strike my mood (although I like the Smiths, really, I do).

I am frequently drawn to the new Wilco release, 'Blue Sky Blue' a limited download that is coming to full release next month, I believe.

And blue it is. M. quickly switched off it saying it was a bit too 'morose' for him but I keep coming back for more.

I am not afraid of the grey skies. If I were, I would not live in Buffalo, where the grey makes me enjoy the sun all the more. If I were, I would move down to Florida with the rest of the sun chasers.

Monday, March 26, 2007

There is a Light That Never Goes Out

Are we designing in our sleep?

Our design company relies on Jill and I for most (if not all) of the concept development and creating. We have an employee, a designer, and rely on a lot of freelance folks for the development, photography, animation, programming, etc. This means we have to be 'on' to design when it's time to concept-- the light that never goes out!

I rarely sit at a desk with a pencil and a blank sheet of paper and say, "Alright now I have to come up with a super great idea to rock this client, shine the best light on their product or service." Mostly I go through the day (and evening) thinking about the project all the time. It is always sitting in the back of my mind. Everything I see in magazines, online, on the street, on television is influencing the design conception process. So in turn, all design is influenced by other design. It is almost as if nothing is new-- design-wise-- anymore. Everything we design in influenced by other design, our experiences in design and our experiences in everyday life.

So are we designing in our sleep? I can tell you we are designing in the shower, waiting at the bus-stop with the kids, driving in the car, walking the dogs, cooking dinner, eating dinner, washing the dinner dishes, we are designing while we trying to fall asleep, etc.-- you get the idea. Lots of times, while at dinner, Jill will start to discuss something about a project we are currently working on, and I will try to stop her by saying, "Can't we just eat dinner without working?" The answer to myself should be "No."

Concepts that arise throughout these life experiences are quickly jotted down to be expanded on a later date- in the office with that pencil and that blank sheet of paper I mentioned earlier. I never go straight to the computer to design. If you look in any of our job folders, they are filled with pencil sketches, bits of magazine clippings, website screenshots that have been printed out... sometimes these are inspiration for typefaces to use, a color palette, or a graphic element that has caught the eye.

Being an artist, a designer, is a 24-hour business and influence is everywhere. It's finding the right pieces of the puzzle- that are out there, in everyday life-- and fitting them together to form something truly unique, something visually exciting, something that makes people remember that ad, that logo, billboard, TV or radio commercial of however the message is being displayed.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Soul Survivor

I really do get excited when I hear of a new start-up business.
It seems like once a week someone contacts us who is venturing forth into what can be a very scary, yet thoroughly rewarding world.

I firmly believe that Buffalo, with its large creative population and lack of large corporate positions, is a perfect environment for the growing number of entrepreneurs in this country.

As for the 'Brain Drain' in this area, please, how difficult is it to leave when you are young, unencumbered and have a secure position waiting for you with a guaranteed paycheck every two weeks?

It's your obligation to go off and discover the world that exists beyond our beau fleuve.
And once you've learned your lessons, we will welcome you back.
It takes brains to challenge yourself and make a living in a less than habitable business environment.

It's Survivor- Buffalo style.

Sign O' The Times: Oh So 1991...

My baby steps into magazine design and publishing began with my first zine, Sign O' The Times created 16 years ago! Designed on my Mac SE30 (black and white, 8" monitor) using Pagemaker, Photoshop and Typestyler, it was pure 'Gonzo-journalism', Buffalo-style. With all the articles having a Hunter S. Thompson bent, the SOTT featured satire by the bucketful, DJ lists, comix and stolen, scanned photos from old magazines and newspaper clippings. It was output on stat paper (I worked in a pre-press shop at the time), copied at Kinkos and assembled by hand at a monthly beer drinking event.

Writers included some of Buffalo's brightest stars at the time including Brad Maione, Steven Trask, Strick, Dan Carlson, MKO, Andre Frazier, Cappy, Mike Van Horn and Charlie Quill. The first few issues dealt with the war (Gulf, that is..), an Eva Watch, American excess, Buffalo Summers, greasy spoon diners, the Steam Donkeys, Bills Super Bowl losses, NYC, hip hop music, Pee Wee Herman and giant red ants.

I look back on these issues and remember lugging the heavy-ass SE30 back to and from work, creating and waiting for logo art to render in Typestyler, and staring at the imagesetter as it crunched away at the files, eventually producing shiney white pages to go to Kinkos. Though computer designed (Pagemaker 3.0 anyone?), the SOTT had a 1990's distinctive cut-and-paste feel.

With little to no paid ads, the money was always tight and Kinkos wanted to get paid. After a disastrous fundraiser (RAVE ON! featuring Crucial Vibes) at the VFW post on Franklin-- where the take at the door was minimal and the guy at the post wouldn't let us leave until I went to the Quickbank on Elmwood and withdrew money to pay them-- the bell had tolled for the end of SOTT. The SOTT has truly burned fast & bright!

The publishing bug bit me again two years later in 1993 with the launch of Slack magazine, and again in the late nineties with the BuffaloPOST, Buffalos first online magazine (pre-blog) which I ran with writer Dave Staba. More to come on those two at a later date- stay tuned.

View the Sign O' The Times graphic scrapbook by clicking this link and get a real blast from my past.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Is it Really So Strange?

How many languages can you read? Can you read "dingbat"? A British design firm designed recruitment posters for a new hire with all the text set in various dingbat typefaces! They figured only a typographic-master would get it and bother to decode the posters. Read about it here.

Decode them yourself and find out what they say, type-boy (or girl)!

Paint a Vulgar Picture

"Good artists borrow, great artists steal."

Nothing like the creative jolt that comes from a new design book or magazine for sheer inspirartion. When I was in design school (a million years a go) we were always told to go out and see what was going on in the world- design wise. My proferssors used to say, "Go to the art gallery, go to the bookstore and explore the arts or design section. See what your contemporaries are doing- use it to inspire you."

Well years later (a million, to be precise) that mantra still holds true. Last week the latest Print magazine came boasting "New Visual Artists 2007." These are the nubies to be sure, yet still an inspiration. Then I hit paydirt! I went to a bookstore and scored the following:

> Communication Arts (March/April 2007)
> STEP Inside Design (March/April 2007)
> HOW (April 2007)
> Surface- design, architecture and fashion
> Uncut- an English music rag, with The Smiths on the cover.

Alright, the last one was the odd man out, but hey, I like The Smiths- "30 Best Smiths Songs!" So I am pretty excited to absorb- like a design sponge- what is going on outside of our design office. And the HOW is their "International Design Annual" so that is bonus! If I find anything really cool, I'll let you know.... now to just find the time to read them...

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Harmonica Virgins

Me: So, I think that we need to find a way to keep in touch with everyone we've met through Where to know, 'cuz we heard do many great stories from people when we had that open house and I'd like to hear more.
Him: So, what are you talking about... like a blog or something?
Me: Well, not exactly, but you know, a place on our site where we can post some of our ideas, designs even, get feedback, list sources of, ok, well yeah. a blog.
Him: Well it looks here that we can set it up pretty easily and it's totally free. Do you want me to set one up for you?
Me: Well, I'll look into it, sure, I guess. Do you want me to write something up and see how it works into our plan?
Him: Done. Would you like to make the first post?
Me: Wha? Don't we need to make up a strategic outline?

As you can see, we are a good team.

That's Entertainment!

Well, so you see we own this business in Buffalo and we do all sorts of graphic design. Then we decided-- what the hell-- let's start another business (like we didn't have enough to do). So we decided to make and sell cool shirts + hoodies. We like really neat designed things: music, graphics, buildings, buffalo, etc. and it goes on from here.