Thursday, May 28, 2009

Lips Like Sugar.. Sugar Kisses...

Ten Things to Consider & Be Thankful For On My 43rd Birthday:

10) I still like loud music.
Well, at least my music loud, not the kids "Hanna Bandana" loud music (though it is cute to see the little one sing in her room with her fake microphone... just like I used to do as a kid).

09) I feel very healthy.
I glad I quit smoking, probably... 12 years ago. You know I never expected to live past 30, or 40... and now look at me. 50, 60, 70... anybody?

08) I am glad my girls love me.
Even when I have had a bad day, they are all (3 of them) happy to see me and ready to tell me that they love me- often.

07) I am glad I am charge of my own haircuts these days and not my mom (see photo).
I used to get some bad haircuts, wear some bad clothing but I think I have finally got it together aesthetically... pretty much.

06) I love all the birthday attention: facebook posts, emails, phone calls, etc.
Us artists crave the attention, the accolades, the hand shakes, the pats on the back. Keep it coming!

05) It is great being an artist.
I truly like having my own business and not being under the thumb of 'the man.'
Through the prosperous times and the lean times, I do really love what I do.
Though not always at 12:30 AM on a Tuesday night, but it beats working for a living.. right?

04) B-Day Dinner at Casa Di Pizza with the family will be great!
I love going out to eat and the pizza is really good at the 'house o' pizza'! My favorite bar manager, Chris is probably working as well.

03) There is still hockey this time of year (Go Pens!).
My favorite sport & playoff time is the best time of the season, as I have a new favorite team every round. It is exciting and relaxing and there will always be Playoff Hockey during the end of May.

02) My walk-friendly neighborhood.
Not having to drive often is good- I hate driving. I love this neighborhood-- and for all the crap Buffalo gets-- this is the best time of year to live here. Plus after #04, I will need some exercise.

01) I think I might be getting better looking as I get older... anyone?
Where is all that attention, I mentioned earlier....
Facebookers click "Like (thumbs up)."

photos: me in 1974 , age 8. Me at 42-7/8 photo by Abby.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Sunshine Superman

T-Shirt Of The Week #12: Comic City tee (3rd of a series)

This is my weekly feature on a favorite t-shirt that I own, number twelve. Comic City was a comic book store on Allen Street across from the old Pink. We designed the logo, advertisements and 3 different t-shirts (same design, different colors). This was the heather gray with ringed collar, Summer version. The other two were the white on dark blue and the dark blue on red which was supposed to be the Spiderman colors but the shirt color didn't quite match. There was also a rare reject tee-- that Comic City sold on the side-- which was a misprint of the red shirt where the art was printed backwards creating a reverse version.

The logo was a fun job as it was for a friend's shop. It consisted of the 3 dimensional masthead with the Buffalo cityscape floating behind it. I had originally designed the cityscape for another project (the cover of an infoTech Niagara membership guide) and recycled it for the CC logo. The store also had a mascot which is the hero featured on the shirt designs. Lovingly referred to as The Captain (or The Cap'n), this dude was based on Jack King Kirby's square-jawed Marvel characters with a extruded font dingbat for his emblem. Add a full moon shape rising over the city and a few sparkle stars... and you got yourself a cool t-shirt.

The comic book store was only open for a few years but it was a really cool location in Allentown. We sold our Where to Roam tees out in front during one of the Allentown West Art Festival one Summer. That was a blast! Unfortunately, as all good things must pass, the store eventually closed but I still have the tees- one of each- but this is my favorite.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Love You To

Event Alert:
Thursday, May 21, 2009, from 6-9pm

The Western NY Book Arts Center Grand Opening
468 Washington St (at Mohawk)
Buffalo NY 14203

When I first set foot in The Western NY Book Arts Center last year I was enlisted to help carry trays of metal type from one side of the room to another. Located in the former Slotkin Department Store in downtown Buffalo, the place was dusty, crumbly and had seen better day. I was helping font-maker Rich Kegler move cabinets, tables, and ancient printing equipment so he could paint the floor. He had a vision of a future that would include the past. He thought people could still appreciated old school letterpress printing and he was correct. This Thursday, the space is officially reborn as the Grand Opening of the The Western NY Book Arts Center is finally arrived with a member's show. Rockin'

This Thursday, May 21, 2009, from 6-9pm the Center is open to all, as font-meister Rich Kegler's vision becomes a reality. Come on down to the opening and see the space transformed with a gallery, bookshop, event space, working print studio, reading library, printing museum & more. The opening will feature music, drink, food, art and artists- everything you need for a good time.

Located at 468 Washington Street, on the corner of Washington and Mohawk- the next block over from the Mohawk Place- this opening is a sneak peak of the future of the WNYBAC. The following day, Friday May 22nd, the center be officially open with regular hours from 12-6 pm, on Wed-Sat. In addition, the bookshop will be open and will offer book making supplies, art papers, books, stationary, and fine art.

The Grand Opening of WNYBAC kicks off with this first members' exhibition. There has been quite a few other events going on there over the last year including several during last year's Typecon- but this is the official 'opening.' This event will feature established and emerging artists, craftspeople and self-published authors, such as Jozef Bajus, Gerald Mead and Diane Bond. I am lucky to be included, as I have a piece in the show that has been hanging in my living room for the last 9 years. It is a mix of acrylic, press type, graphite and glaze. The painting titled "Four Letter Words," was from a period where I was experiment with powdered graphite, paint and hand-kerning presstype. They used to teach typesetting theory by using press type to set headlines back in pre-computer design school. I thought by reviving this painting, maybe I can get some inspiration to paint again- which has been lost from my life for several years now. I think it is time to get it back into action.

I am excited to go down and see the show and I am extra excited to have some art in this show. Come on down & check it out. It is good to have a another art gallery in town and you'll get a chance to see old school print equipment from back in the day when printers were craftsmen and much time was spent setting character after character, setting the letters, words and spaces in a book by hand.

Hope to see you there. Don't let your kids touch the lead.

For more information on the event:

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Genius of Love

When you live and breath design, you become attached to the things you design. You develop a sort of kinship with all things designed-- which is everything-- since you are analyzing everything you look at. Always.

I am never wrong.

Well, alright. I am wrong some of the time. But when it comes to logos- I feel like I have an eye for what is good, what works, what will make a good visual identity for a company. Unfortunately, not everyone will agree with me.

Last March I wrote about how tough it can be as a graphic artist when someone doesn't like your work (or is disinterested or less than enthused) when you show them the comp designs for their new brochure, their new billboard, their new website. But what about the logo? What about when they don't like your logo comps...? For me, designing a logo-- the center of any company's brand, identity, the little thing on their business card, the center of their visual universe-- is the toughest and most rewarding aspect of what we do. With a brochure, you have a support cast- taglines, descriptive text, poignant photos-- but the logo has to say it all, all by itself. The logo often stands alone, it has to tell a story, it should explain what the company does, it says who they are and what they do- often with no help at all. Com'on catchy tagline- help me out here...!?!

So when we design a logo- we put an awful lot of:

  • thought
  • not thinking about it
  • research
  • discussion
  • perusing the past
  • forecasting the future
  • reading
  • sketching (with an actual pencil)
  • testing
  • looking
  • remembering
  • searching
  • debating and
  • arguing
... into deciding what we feel can do the job best of representing the client visually. We pour our hearts and souls, lose some sleep and some hair, into the logo design process. We narrow it down to usually three choices, from often hundreds of sketches, ideas and variations of those ideas. We get them ready, print them out- sometimes mounting them on black board with an crisp, protective overlay- and then we meet the client in person. We present: describe our thought process to them, we build suspense and then we reveal the designs... Then BAM! the client jumps in the air, hugs us, cries (why not, we did while we were creating them) and thanks us a million times for hitting the nail on head, visually representing their idea and their entire company, saving the world! Sometimes. Other times they just sit and stare. You think to yourself... 'what is wrong with them.. don't they get it...?"

Do You Really Want To Hurt Me?

Well those are the extremes. As an artist you want people to love what you do. You might not act like you want recognition, but you want everyone to love everything you do, you want people to get it... right? Well... at least the client who is paying the bill.

There is an emotional connection to everything we do- meticulously choosing typefaces, colors, balancing elements and graphics, sometimes trying to represent obscure ideas in a single icon, making sure all spaces and line and pixel looks just right. We put out soul into all we do- and if you don't like it, you must not like us, what? It seemed like you liked us before... huh? But we have to be tough, realizing we might not be right for everyone. We can't take it personally, waaaaaaaaaaaaa.... When you live and breath design, you become attached to the things you design. You developed a sort of kinship with all things designed-- which is everything- since you are analyzing everything you look at. Always.

I have some clients with which we can do no wrong. We give them our 'all' and they appreciate every last bit of it. When you presented them with the logo comps, they beam with joy. For people starting a new company, their vision up until this point has been nothing more than ideas on paper a lot of the time. When they see the logo for the first time, they get to see their ideas become something concrete. Their vision seems to become a reality when it gets a visual identity. When you get it- when you get them- it is exhilarating and downright thrilling. For me too. That is why I do this.

These satisfied clients think other people are crazy not to hire us immediately after meeting us... and I can't say I disagree with them. But what do you do when you expect 'wow' and instead you get 'blah'? You have to swallow the pride, step back and re-evaluate, right? Find out exactly what they do like and what they don't. Ask a lot of questions. Try and determine what it is specifically that you can change to re-solve their design problem. Often you have to go back to the drawing board and re-develop it for them. After all client satisfaction is a top priority- as long as it is still a good design solution.

Tougher Than Leather

The longer I do this is the tougher I get, the thicker my skin, the better my ability to ask the right questions. The better I can be at interpreting the correct design answer to the clients design question. So I guess it is: the better you get at being wrong the better you get at getting it right. Hell, I am still learning everyday- about people, my kids, about business, about design... And I am willing to be wrong a few times if I can get it right most of the time.

Photos (from top): the award winning OtherWisz logo, a wall preliminary OtherWisz logo ideas, The alternate Literacy Volunteers logo and the logo for the Buffalo Hockey Experience + Museum. All designs by OtherWisz ©2009.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Heart of The City

Feeling very musical today. Though the office stereo is in fritz (I think it just the speaker cables), I bought a bunch of records last night. I went to Record Theatre on Main and Lafayette and the experience was cool- mellow background music (reggae, Radiohead, hip-hop, etc) and time to browse. They had a lot of cool 45 singles left over from record Store Day (see old post). Nothing like the sound of a fresh record on it's very first play. No scratches yet- love it.

I'll tell ya what I bought:

  • Gamma Ray- Jay Reatard mix (Beck) 7"

  • a double Yep Rock 7" single with: Sickey Boy (Robyn Hitchcock and Venus 3) b/w Heart of The City- live (Nick Lowe) 7"

  • The Hitcher (Swervedriver) 47"

  • Mykonos (Fleet Foxes) 7" in a fancy gatefold sleeve.

  • Blue Collar Funk (Scott Down & DJ Culter) 7"- local boys make old funk new.

  • A double LP, Pressure Sands Presents: Every Mouth Must Be Fed 1973-1976- a collection of reggae songs starring I-Roy ("this killer set from the vaults of Pete Weston's original Roots imprint Micron Music Limited....")
Oh yeah, and I bought then while wearing T-Shirt Of The Week #11:
full-front white boom boxes on a green tee.
I bought this one at Marshall's- of all places- and it is a very cool design. It looks like the same art used on a bunch of Ubiquity records tees, but I don't think it is the same art. Anyway cool shirt, nice design- perfect for record shopping. I love records.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Bullet In The Head

T-Shirt Of The Week #10: RAGE White ink on Black Tee.

This is my weekly feature on a favorite t-shirt that I own, number ten. RAGE was a '90s nightclub in Buffalo that rose from the ashes of the ICON. The ICON closed following a raucous Wu-Tang Clan show that involved fights and guns. RAGE was developed by the guys that ran Concrete and was managed by DJ Andre. It was a dance club that never reached its full potential, as I remember, but still had a few good nights in it.

This is a logo that I had designed old school style. I typed the words on my typewriter, complete with strike-through, blew it up, cut out the letters, copied it a few times, rescanned it, and then digitized it. The distressing was actually distressing. At the time, 'grunge design' was popular and they were just starting to make fonts that looked like this- I had to make my own. I think of the time that went into this, carefully scraping away at the Xerox, copying it again, and how it easy it would be now to find a similar font, type it in and be done. It wouldn't be the same, though....