Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Changing 'This Changes Everything'

The 2014 Naomi Klein book, "This Changes Everything" is an inspiring, depressing read. It states, and gives compelling evidence, that the climate crisis is irreversible if we don't do some drastic things, starting in 2017. Yes. Two years ago. Anyway, it's a good book. You should read it.

Of course the fate of the planet is not what this blog post is about. This blog post is about the cover design of the book.

The many editions of the book have had a lot of variations, while still keeping with original hardcover design using Franklin Gothic Extra Condensed with black, white, blue elements. And, to make the design work, the designer breaks up the word "everything." Gutsy. I can't find who designed the original cover. But kudos to you, cover designer!

The cover eliminates the author's name and puts it -- and the subtitle -- on the back cover. Very striking.

The spine is also pretty great. This would only work on a book of considerable page-count.

Then, the paperback version beefs up the author presence on the cover at the expense of the title impact, but it still works. Note that "everything" is restored to one word.

One could argue that the distribution of the colors could be more effective, but the design is so strong, it works just about any way you mix and match. Like this.

Here's a possibility.

And another possibility.

And here's a cover that uses the subtitle. It mentions the movie. It also touts a recommendation from the New York Times. With each added element, the cover loses a bit more of its appeal. It's starting to look like every other book cover design.

Finally, there's the documentary movie made from the book. The movie poster is by Shepard Fairey, and while it has nice elements, it's a real letdown from the book design. The symbol of the burning earth -- while not an original idea -- is effective. But when surrounded by other symbols and frankly ineffective type design and awful color choices (I have to say that these colors work well for other Fairey designs), the poster could use some help.

I played around with the poster and made an in-between version -- holding over some of the book colors and typefaces.

Better? Probably not. But I had to try.

Sunday, November 04, 2018

Vue Weekly project, legal in Canada

A couple weeks ago, Canada legalized recreational use of cannabis. I eagerly awaited the cover of the alternative weekly in town, 'cause they seem to have a bit of a cannabis fixation. I was pretty sure they'd commemorate the event somehow. Vue Weekly did not disappoint.

While I think the headline is funny, I don't think the illustration delivers on the joke. I think the illo is fine and it would work with another headline, but this headline needs a different kind of treatment.

Here's my version. I almost think it would work better without the leaf in the background, but hey -- you gotta give the readers something to hold on to.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Do not dismantle

Random Edmonton street furniture. Letting people know about an upcoming event. A major event.

And I noticed a little sticker in the bottom right corner of the sign.

I may need some "Do Not Dismantle" stickers.

Stickers in real life

A possible Line app sticker set.

I wanted to make a sticker set for the Line app. Seemed easy enough. So I did the artwork using my computer-drawing style. I then tried to do the paperwork to make them actually available on the app. And I wasn't able to navigate the system. International business rules apply somehow. But I still have the artwork.

And now I'm thinking I'll make an Apple Messenger sticker set. Still working on the logistics for that.

In the meantime, I used the facilities at SNAP Printshop to make a physical sticker set.

Work in progress. Blue, then red, and finally, black.

Three-color silkscreen on sticker-back paper.

Here they are, all trimmed out and ready to stick.

And a close-up view.

The joy of screen printing!

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Vue project 1176

I've cut back on my Vue Weekly obsession -- at least I've cut back on blogging about it. But every once in a while, a cover comes along that I have to dig into. Not to disparage the original, but to challenge myself to see if I can come up with my own spin on it.

This cover caught my eye because the designer actually changed the logo to match the concept of the art. I thought that was pretty cool.

And then the rest of the type is also in "computer" type. A worthy effort. But I felt the illustrations really let down the concept. If you are going to go with big pixels, I say embrace the big pixels. I was particularly disappointed with the keyboard illustration which looks more like generic clip art than pixel art. I like the little faces and the guitars -- because they seem to be close to the same size of pixel-ratio. The drum set is too complex for this pixel size.

So … I redid the cover using all the same pixel size. (Except for the secondary type, which I just did in type.) That meant simplifying the people into just faces and dropping the instruments altogether -- because the pixel size of the type wouldn't allow that much detail. I plopped in the notes to suggest music and left it at that.

I concentrated mostly on the pixel type. That was fun.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Beg button

I use the beg button on this corner daily, crossing 124 Street along the north side of 102 Avenue. And … I hate it.

For two reasons.

The first reason is that it's a busy enough corner for an automatic "Walk" signal, so the button is an unnecessary annoyance.

Second reason, the beg button is hidden out of sight, so a person waiting for the light to change would miss even the presence of the button.

I guess it bothered someone else. This sign was stuck on the lightpole where the beg button should have been placed. The sign was removed after two days.

The possible good news is that this is a temporary setup because of some heavy construction on one of the corners. A tall apartment building is being built. Perhaps after the building is done, the signal lights will be reconfigured.

Note: Here's what the sign says.

"This walk light button is on the other side of the post behind you next to the bike path!

"(It needs to be pushed to activate the walk light.)

"If you think it should be moved closer to the actual cross walk, you should contact the City of Edmonton.

"The more people who call them the better chance of having something done."

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Stock photo availability

Let's say I want to use a famous photo on my Facebook page or blog, and I am Google-looking randomly on the internet to see what's out there that I can use for "free."

The image search will certainly turn up some Getty images. Go to the link and the Getty Images page that looks kinda like this.

And covering part of the picture is always the Getty Tag.

It doesn't usually ruin the picture. Just gives obvious credit to where the picture came from. Who really owns it. Ownership on the Internet is a slippery thing.

Anyway, I was Googling myself the other day. Pause for silent shaming. And I turned up some art I did for the St. Paul Pioneer Press newspaper earlier in this century. And the images had Getty Tags!

Kinda made me feel special. My work costs as much to use as a photo of Marilyn Monroe!

Backstory: The Pioneer Press art department was encouraged to send copies of completed artwork to our owners (first Knight-Ridder, and then McClatchy) for the owners to put on their commercial sales sites. Occasionally, I would hear from friends and relatives around the country that one of my illustrations turned up in a far-flung newspaper. Apparently, whoever owned that batch of Pioneer Press illustrations has now sold them to Getty Images.

Note: The "Brain Child" illustration has some strange stuff on the bottom that looks like it doesn't belong in the illustration -- because it doesn't! I would often include extra bits for use in other places in the newspaper. For teaser graphics or for pull quotes. I would just toss them in for page designers to use if they wanted to. And so I included them in submissions to our owners. But they look kinda out of place here. Hopefully any person buying this illo knows how to cut apart the images.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Book on the horizon

I've done some mini-comics in the past.

I started doing mini-comics because I thought it would be an easy way to force myself to produce longer humorous stories. And it worked. Sorta.

What really happened along side of the longer stories was a format of graphics criticism and a representation of me on a tall horse making proclamations about typography.

And that was fun, too.

Anyway, I've now gathered all the mini-comics into a book, "The Big All Small Comics Collection." It's 180 or so pages of comics from 1983 to 2017. Since it's mini comics, the book is mini-comic sized, 4.25 by 5.5 inches. Plus an index of topics and people mentioned.

I hope to be selling the book at the upcoming SpringCon Comics convention in Minneapolis. Saturday and Sunday, May 20 - 21. Perhaps I'll see you there!

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Type swap: "Shaft"

Not going to make the obvious "shafted" pun in the opening sentence. Oops.

I was watching Turner Classic Movies last Thursday night. They are showing Academy Award winning and nominated movies -- from the TCM library -- in alphabetical order. In-between 1976's Sherlock Holmes/Sigmund Freud pastiche, "The Seven Percent Solution" and 1937's Fred Astaire/Ginger Rogers confection, "Shall We Dance" was the original 1971 Gordon Parks-directed "Shaft."

I was watching the opening credits, enjoying Isaac Hayes Oscar-winning Best Original Song, "The Theme From Shaft," and then I noticed that something was weird with the credits.

Hi-def "Shaft" credits, substituting Arial for the original Helvetica. Also adding a thin black line around the letters. My photo doesn't capture the vivid red of the lettering. They got that part of the credits right. (Click on the photo for a larger view.)

Original "Shaft" credits using Helvetica.

The credits had obviously been re-done when they re-scanned the film for high-def blu-ray and HDTV release. The type was very crisp. It had a thin black outline around the red type that looked really sharp. Too good, maybe. But I won't quibble about type being too sharp.

The second thing I noticed was that the typeface used was Arial. Now, if you don't know about Arial, Mark Simonson wrote a wonderful essay about it and it's history. (And how to identify the typeface.)

I was pretty sure that Arial wasn't around in 1971 when the original "Shaft" credits were made. According to this Wikipedia article, Arial was designed in 1982.

Hi-def "Shaft" credits, substituting Arial for the original Helvetica. 

Original "Shaft" credits using Helvetica.

Anyway, all this was zooming through my brain and it took me a few moments to get my camera out and to take some shots of the new "Shaft" credits.

And after the credits were over, I went to YouTube to look up the original credits.

Hi-def "Shaft" credits, substituting Arial for the original Helvetica. 

Original "Shaft" credits using Helvetica.

It will not come as a shock to know that the original credits were actually done in Helvetica. And it kinda looks like the originals didn't have the black line around the type. But I can't really see that for sure from the YouTube video.

I was hoping the original credits would be in a typeface that has a little snap it. Maybe Franklin Gothic. But Helvetica is cool. I was very surprised that whoever scanned the movie and redid the credits didn't know that the original was Helvetica. Or didn't care enough to match the original. Or didn't have the budget to match the original. Whatever the excuse, to me, there's no excuse for this!

Mystery solved via Internet. The movie itself? It was kinda fun. Angry fun.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Process (silkscreening "Winter Cars")

I'm taking a  silkscreening class at the wonderful Society of Northern Alberta Print-Artists (SNAP) just down the street from our apartment. This is my second screen printing class there in two years and I think I'm getting the hang of it.

Anyway, here's the project.

I wanted to do something winter- and Edmonton-related.

I walk the neighborhood streets for exercise and I take photos as I walk. And I thought, "Cars with snow on them."

And that's it.

Here are the unedited photos.

The cropped photos. I did the composition and color work in Photoshop.

Swapped out a couple cars.

Black and white.

Reducing the photos to individual shades using the Curves pallet. Posterizing. Here's the pallet.

Here's the picture with the posterized look.

Making the background color cutout by using Photoshop's paths.

Making seps. Two grays, one black and one background color of light blue.

Light gray.

Darker gray.


Background blue.

Okay -- I decided to do a three-color print first to see how it was looking. But I still wanted four shades. So I did the black in solid, and dots for the darker gray.

Here's the Photoshop proof all the colors.

Here's two colors actually screen printed. Starting with the light blue. I'm printing on an 8.5 by 11 -inch (21.59 by 27.94 cm) sticker-back paper.

And the screen print of three colors.

Here's a close-up of the Photoshop proof.

Here's a close-up of the printed piece. That's some serious dot-gain!

So, we've gone from real world, into digital photos into Photoshop, out into the real world for silk screening and then finally, back into the computer for this blog post. Whew!

Next challenge: The four-color version on good paper.