Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga

Check monthly flyer for price changes.

While digging deep, deep, deep into the flat file, I discovered some graphic design from my very first job. As I was finishing up at Buff State, a friend offered to get me an interview at the company he was leaving. So In 1989, I left my 5-year run at the Sheridan Family Restaurant(which highlighted a rise from dishwasher to line cook/closer) to become the in-house graphic guy at Appliance Parts Distributors, Inc. (APD) on William Street, Buffalo,NY-- across from the main Post Office. I was 24 years old and it was a bonefide job in Commercial Arts, pretty cool!

I did a lot of monthly flyers, signage, store displays, I was the grill-man at the yearly open houses and sometimes I printed the flyers myself. This was all done without computers, learned with the tools of the times.

My 1990-chic design tool kit included:

  • grid paper with the non-repro blue lines
  • the Xerox machine
  • books of clip art (which a lot ended up in the Box O Many Graphics)
  • line tape in various point sizes
  • press-type and a Kroy typesetting headline maker ( a tabletop label maker)
  • a WAXER
  • a small 1-2 color press that was on it's way out
  • supplied stats of the parts from the manufacturers - oven and stove parts, grill parts, plumbing, fridge things, etc, you get the picture... No wonder I always like Art Chantry - a common love of black and white, appliance parts and tools illustrations!!
I had my own office space which doubled as the catalog storage area (an alphabetical wall of manufacturer catalogs and special flyers) and the 'other way' to get into the break-room- or better known as the backdoor out of the break-room....

Here is an example from the 72-page yearly catalog I put together and delivered to the printer (Artcraft Burrows) set up on eighteen, 4-up spreads (that I had to figure out and put into the correct spots- printer spreads!). This was all laid out on blue grids and all the boxes at the bottom were line tape stuck down and trimmed with a blade. Imagine doing this now! No freakin' way!!

Now sure, the 'connectors section' at the top has a generous portion of typefaces, but the bottom is where I meticulously created a set of standards for the APD catalog with Futura Bold (starting using it here and haven't stopped) headlines, body text (set on a typewriter by the secretary and shrunk down on the copy machine), manual photo wrapping! (oh yeah), streamlined font sizes and line weights... Hey I was a kid learning graphic design- fresh out of school with a head full of good times and my 1st job in a field, that I attended to make a career out of.

... 18 years later and, well... I am still doing it-- with different tools- but it is really still the same thing. Ah, design.

>> Page 31: Gas Connectors & various plumbing supplies

Monday, February 25, 2008

Inspiration Information

Threadless, one of my favorite custom tee companies has teamed with Blik, a California based "surface graphic" manufacturer that develops great "wall graphic" designs. In the past, Blik created some cool designs inhouse, but this recent alliance with Threadless now offers us new, cutting edge designs that have previously graced Threadless Tees. These wall decals are transferable and they are often bold and graphically pleasing (and they are not cheap).

Blik has taken some of their fav Threadless designs and converted them to wall graphics following the Threadless model of letting site visitors vote on their favorite design. The most popular designs have been chosen, turned into vinyl graphics and are for sale on the Blik website. Every six weeks the Blik team posts new Threadless designs for review.

The Blik site features some of the winners that have been made into decals and displays them on location (on walls). The beauty lies in the fact that you can take the stickers and rearrange them yourself into your own versions of the design! This works well with some designs, some more that others. I wonder if all of the designers enjoy having their meticulously crafted designs rearranged by others. One one hand, a lot of time was probably spent getting all the graphics in the 'just right' location on the original art, on the other hand, it is cool to see how others can re-interpret your designs.

Talk a look at the Blik site- click here.
I really like the Stone Jungle and above pictured Radios.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Heavy Metal Drummer


A live Wilco webcast, as I write this (Wednesday, Feb 20 11:12PM), has kept me in the office later that I wanted to be here tonight. They are playing the Riviera Theatre in their hometown Chicago, Illinois. After playing a bunch of cool rock songs like "Heavy Metal Drummer" and J.'s favorite song from the new LP- they are playing music, by what I can only guess, is from outerspace with violins over spooky sounds, audience cheers and a light static crackle. It has left me a little hypnotized after too much typing at the monitor....

As I was spacing myself out here, this bazooka joe comic caught my eye. It is bazooka joe and Picasso hanging out. Since I have had this little comic laying around for many, many years, is kinda worn away. Picasso is saying to bazooka joe, "I paint and paint and yet my works seems to get worse." Well.... I won't ruin the joke for ya.

I have this comic under my work desk blotter which is covered in all sorts of stuff, a collage of the brain, including:

  • comics
  • photos
  • cards
  • ads
  • magazine clippings
  • ticket stubs (a UB Springfest stub for $10 featuring Moxy Fruvus, Black Sheep and the Tragically Hip. Yes, this was the infamous sneaker to Gord's head a Lalapalooza no. 1 stub from the CFNY/Molson CNE, I think it was, only $33.05).
  • flyers
  • invites (Check Your Head Artfest party 1992)
  • postcards (including the black panther party, the Slack magazine summer watermelon girl cover photo, a mermaid avenue 2 promo card, etc.)
  • a Buckminster Fuller stamp
  • a 2$ bill
  • a stat of the Sign of The Times masthead
  • stickers (aleady stuck)
  • a vintage Crystal Beach ad
  • a poloroid on my friend Chris with a painted-on goatee
  • phone numbers
  • assorted pictures of sid, hunter, elvis, hmmmmmm, I just realized they are all dead...
  • hockey cards
... and the list goes on, but the webcast is over and this is getting a little a-retentive.....

>> click on comic for larger view, eh?

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Give 'Em Enough Rope

The concert that almost was.

For the past 2 weeks I have helped a local promoter in marketing an upcoming concert in Buffalo, NY that was unceremoniously canceled today. So I bring you the concert that almost was, specifically the poster for the concert that almost was (view here). On top of that, this was going to be my 1st DJ gig at the Town Ballroom. I was looking forward to that as much as I was to the concert.

Anyway, the show was being billed as Joe Strummer's Mescaleros. Joe being dead and unable to perform, the band, according to the poster, was to be made up of the following rockers:
  • Pablo Cook- founding Mescalero, who has played with Moby and Lily Allen, and who son's godfather is/was none other than the late Joe Strummer.
  • Derek Forbes- original Simple Minds bassist who played on the Breakfast Club soundtrack smash hit Don't You Forget About Me. A-huh, yep.
  • Steve "Smiley" Barnard - original drums for the Mescaleros
  • and Gregory Stuart Lee White aka Vince White- the notorious bass player that joined the Clash after they band broke up and has written a book about it.

All said- a rousing bunch of musicians which promised a good time. But as these things go when bands travel across the great pond to play one U.S. show, at the Town Ballroom, in little old Buffalo, New York- it ain't gonna happen no more! All travel plans have been canceled with a possible re-schedule sometime this Spring.

I was a little disappointed, so I had to share the poster design- since it may never see the light of day and wasn't really paid for. But if the show does get rescheduled- the poster may arise to entertain and entice once more- or maybe I'll just design a new one.....

The graphic-geek details:
This rock poster was designed at 11 x 17" with no bleed- color copier reproductions were suppose to be in it's future, otherwisz it would have been a full bleed, baby.

Using a blown-out screenshot of Joe Strummer from the motion picture Straight to Hell, the poster was built with a weathered, Wild West flair, jaunty 'wanted poster' angles and a washed out desert color scheme. The font, Rosewood, I never thought I would use (and I have done a lot of Steam Donkeys posters in my time). All other text was the non-fancy Rosewood Fill, which still has a rough-shod feel to it. Extra stars as usual, a happy accident of a slipped image that had some extra white border on it and there you have it!

The concert that almost was... Joe Strummer's Mescaleros (view here).
Spot the typo and be the 1st to win a prize...hey, nobody's perfect.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Someone Take The Wheel

I am always musing on Inspiration since we are in a business that requires us to reinvent the wheel often. I like to talk to other design folks to see where their inspiration, their great ideas, come from. Some say all the good ideas are already taken, though I see new and great ideas cropping up all the time.

When I was in design school (a 1/2 a million years ago) we always looked to the design Annuals as gold for a wealth of ideas. But copying someone else's design doesn't really work in the real world. As a designer, you have to look at other sources for inspiration: books, film, the world around you, the past (often referring to my good ol' box o' many graphics- pictured here), etc.

HOW magazine has a great articles about getting inspired by the "world around you".

10 Ways to Get Inspired by the World Around You (click to read online)
by Sam Harrison.

The list includes:
1. Be a Borrower
2. Explore the Masters for Material
3. Enjoy the Art of Imitation
4. Look at Other Businesses
5. Observe and Take Note
6. Borrow From the Past
7. Don't be a NIHilist
8. Open Your Mind
9. Pick up the Trash
10. Stay Where You Are

Friday, February 8, 2008

The Kids Are Alright

Branding so deep it is invading chromosomes!

I received an email yesterday from a friend of mine, a fellow graphic artist, that was quite funny and interesting. He attached the drawing to the right. Apparently he went into his son's room while he was quietly drawing to take a peek at what he was doing. When he looked over his shoulder, he was surprised to find him drawing the OtherWisz logo!! What the?!?!

Now his son may have seen our logo a few times, on a t-shirt his dad has, maybe on letterhead his dad might have received from us... but it is not like he sees it everyday like my kids do (J. had made our oldest a mobile when she was baby that had the black and white OW logo hanging on it.)

I would say this is a testament to our skill as designers of memorable logos, to say the least. The logo apparently leaves such a lasting impression on today's youth- now that is how you build a brand from the ground up, eh? At least three feet from the ground up!

My friend mentioned that the OW logo has taken precedent over his other favorites, the Sabres logo (pictured below the OW logo on this sketch) and the Bills logo. It also contains some of his fav design elements: a star, a circle and a "W". Comparing his rendition of the OW logo vs. the Sabres logo- he seems to be able to reproduce our logo easier- and I am sure he has seem that 'flying goat' before, it is all over this freakin' town!

A brand so strong kids can love it! Start 'em young!

Friday, February 1, 2008

Treatment Bound

The city is covered in sheets of ice and a slight rain continues to mist the air. This sort of weather, when the trees are covered in sleeves of ice, is scary ever since the October Surprise Storm of '007 (as it has became affectionately known). But I think since most of the trees in town were already damaged beyond recognition last October, most of the branches will remain on the trees this time.

We got 2 MACs on the fritz and I have surrender as the in-house maintenance guy. They are being delivered to the repair shop this morning. A sad computer day at OW headquarters. Well it is probably time that I moved to the all-laptop format anyway.

I always wonder about (and aloud sometimes) if the computer had never made the advancement and the infiltration into our business, where would we all be? The cut and paste of the past has become a ghost, and most kids out of school (within the last 20 years...) have never even wielded an Xacto. They don't know about rubylith and they have never even seen a stat camera. Gone are the days when this business was about craft.

How has the computer made this business easier? Well things get done faster, but are the getting done better...? Sometimes I wonder. Has the elimination of the 'craftsman' hurt this business? Has the onslaught of desktop publishing in the '80s killed the craftsman?