Playing Designer

One regret I have in regards to my time getting a BFA is that I never took a real graphic design class. I did some mild stuff while taking an animation class, but I still felt pretty unfamiliar with the likes of Illustrator and Photoshop. I’ve learned a thing or two about a thing or two by trial and error (or, rather, I NEED TO FIGURE OUT HOW TO DO THIS NOW THE SUBMISSION DEADLINE IS TOMORROW-esque urgency), but didn’t take the time to really indulge the genuine design-ey inclinations that I have until I graduated and opened up my humble little store on print-on-demand site redbubble.

Like a lot of young girls who were into girly things, I went through a phase of wanting to be a chic fashion designer. A desire I mostly explored by playing the Barbie Fashion Designer CD-ROM game for hours on end:

barbiefdSo.Much.Printer.Ink.Wasted

When I started my store and saw that I could put my work on things like tee shirts, pillows, and (newly) pouches, all these long-buried emotions came roaring back. Problem is, a lot of my work just doesn’t, well, work on things like tee shirts. So I’ve been playing with how to make painterly graphics to mix and match with by painting with acrylic on duralar transparency:

Duralar GREEN STROKES_Hmm..I simply paint on the transparency, scan it at a high resolution, and  rid of all the white/ close to white areas (super simple, as my skilz still aren’t too impressive.) Then maybe some mild cleanup and color adjusting. I know this is total baby stuff, but I really enjoy playing around like this. I had this one printed on another baseball tee (MY LAST ONE, I SWEAR) and it surprisingly came out pretty true to the bright colors in the file (which won’t always happen when printing on shirts.)

Green Strokes Tee

I’m goin’ all the way to the top for you, Barbie. I really like that I can use the skills that I already have (painting) with a little graphics know-how to make these fun little designs.

If you’re so inclined, you can purchase my tee shirt [here] or peruse my redbubble portfolio [here]

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Mugs!

As you all know, I have a little shop on print-on-demand site Redbubble.com, and recently they added mugs to their lineup of products. I ordered some for myself (well, to give as gifts and one for myself!) and I’m, again, pleased with the printing quality. The price is also, surprisingly, only as much as a tote bag.

MUG Ocarina Pic

Above is my Pop-Art Ocarina Tilted Pattern

MUG matchsticks

Mug Matchsticks 2

Above is my Many Matchsticks pattern.

Never thought I’d ever see any of my work on a coffee mug, but I must admit that I like the result! As more of a “fine” artist, I also love that I get to indulge my more design, graphics oriented ideas and inclinations through my store here.

 

Design Competitions: Scams?

Recently I was browsing my Facebook news feed and saw an interesting ad on the right hand side. It was for a “design competition” to design the album cover for a band’s upcoming release, the prize being $1000. Now, that prize is pretty good. Hiring a graphic designer to do an album cover would cost around that amount, probably. However, it got me thinking of all the similar contests I see out there that offer prizes closer to $100. And even if the grand prize results in what may be fair compensation, there are other factors that I think need to be considered…

Like copyright issues. During my senior year of high school, like many of my classmates, I started a fastweb account (a site that matches you up with scholarships to apply to.) My matches included some of these types of art competitions, one of them being to design new packaging for red vines (I think.) I was contemplating entering, but I made sure to read the fine print first. To my surprise, I found that the Red Vines company would retain copyright on all images I submitted. I would no longer own the work that I submitted, regardless of me winning or not. I think they offered around $1000 in scholarship money to the winner, an absolute bargain to the company, given that for that $1000, they not only get a new logo/design, but they also own the rights to the thousands of other entrants who didn’t win. It all just seems more than a little exploitative to me. Why not just hire a talented graphic designer to do the job? Or just nix the contest and just start a damn scholarship if you care about education so much? Oh, because it doesn’t involve getting tons of cheap/free labor. It just seems a little shady- and it’s such a gamble for the entrant. All but a small fraction of the entrants walk away with no prize money, nothing they can (legally) use in their portfolio, and out however many hours they spent on their work. Seems like an exceedingly bad deal to me. Oftentimes, these contests don’t produce very good work, and sometimes a winner isn’t even chosen.

Would you want being paid for your work to be a roll of the dice?

There are so many young designers/artists out there (me included) who are really hungry to break into the industry and get exposure. I feel like many of these types of competitions take unfair advantage of these naive dreamers. This website is a great resource on spec work and its unethical nature. Generally, these types of contests ask for designers and artists to put in hours/days of their own time, not to mention use their own materials, to produce work that has only a slight chance of actually paying them. Think about working at your own job only to be told when you clocked out “sorry, you weren’t the winner today, so you worked for free this week. No paycheck for you!” So, I’m not saying that all art/design competitions are bad, but be sure to read the fine print and seriously weigh the pros and cons before forking over your work and (often) money in entry fees. Overall, I think one is better off taking on small clients and getting experience that way. If someone truly respects your work, they’ll pay you a fair wage for it.

Good Enough to Eat: Wayne Thiebaud

I’ve always LOVED Wayne Thiebaud’s paintings. I think we’ve all admired one of his famous cake paintings:

Wayne Thiebaud- Cakes

They’re a delight. I’m not the hugest fan of still life- I always kind of just saw it as a tool- A painting skill I needed to acquire- rather than something that could be exciting, intriguing, and fun. He elevates the still life to something more than “just” a documentation of an object in space. Instead, his paintings of cakes and other confections harken back to lazy summer days at the ice-cream shop, or being a kid again at the bakery, face pressed to the glass, salivating over elegantly displayed baked delights just out of reach.

Wayne Thiebaud- Four Ice Cream Cones, collection of the Phoenix Art Museum

I really respond to the way he applies paint- liberally and thickly, but with intention. He seemed to apply the paint on his cakes much like a baker would apply frosting on said cake. His paintings weren’t textured for the sake of being textured- the texture highly enhanced the work itself. This is the way painting should be, in my mind. I love paintings that actually look like, you know, paintings. Don’t hide those brushstrokes! If I wanted something that looked like a photograph, I’d take a photograph. Anybody can photograph a cake, and anybody can paint a cake (not necessarily well), but not everyone can paint a cake and make the viewer feel like a kid at the bakery for the first time again.