Thursday, April 1, 2010

Death of the Poster

Having recently done a poster design that, if I do say so myself, did not suck, I've been thinking a bit about poster design - or more specifically the lack thereof.

Computers mostly enhance our lives these days including making it really easy to "design" a poster/ postcard, etc. that is really crappy.

I'm not a professional graphic designer, but I've done many posters over the years (from grade school contests to the above mentioned and below blogged Parallel Lives poster) and I've always taken a great deal of pride from a well executed design. It is difficult subtle work that ultimately has to look effortless. A few lines and colors that convey the viseral excitement of _______ and get the viewer to experience that and want to participate - no easy feat.

This type of design work seems to be disappearing, maybe not in the corporate world (they know the power of a logo) but from our communities, schools and even universities. And ultimately facebook is where everyone advertises everything these days and its no coincidence that facebook is the largest repository for these bad designs.

This is where I place the blame squarely on technology. No one designs a poster anymore - they don't have to. Let's say your doing a play. It's much easier to take a photo* of the cast and then use photoshop or some such program to pick a font to slap the title across it and you're done. The only problem is it's exactly as good as the time you spent on it. Congratulations, your poster sucks. It conveys nothing about the show to the viewer and doesn't make anyone want to come see it. You wouldn't spend just twenty minutes rehearsing the play to get it ready for a performance; it's not an appropriate amount of time to spend on your poster either.

*I'm not knocking photography. If you have a photographer with an idea I'm all for it.

I'm not knocking computer design programs either, but the people really making art with those programs have a design background and an art education/experience because whatever the tool its still only as useful as the person using it.

I know I'm on my soapbox but only because this means something to me. The poster is an integral part of the production. It is the graphic interface between your production/event/cause and your audience (even if it is on a computer screen). It deserves respect, and failing that - at least consideration.

Okay, I'm done now.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Parallel Lives show poster (printmaking+photoshop=oh my!)

This is the poster design I just completed for a production of Parallel Lives (formerly Parallel Lives: The Kathy & Mo Show) being produced by Terrific New Theatre in Birmingham, Alabama (& starring my dear, dear friend Carolyn!).
This project was a marriage of old school and new. The image is a hand-cut linoleum block print while the text and colored background are all photoshop. I'm fairly pleased with the results. I think the design is true to my style and represents the show well visually and thematically. I've designed posters over the years, but I've just done the art. This is the first time I've done the whole thing (art, layout, text, etc.). This was mainly because of a really tight deadline, but I also wanted to challenge myself to learn more about this here computer program. It was very satisfying to talk to the printer on the other side of the country about file format and then just send them an email - blap! Done. Let me just say I can only imagine how much the graphic design industry has changed over the last twenty years.

This is the linoleum print in black ink that was scanned in and cleaned up. Normally when printing a lino block, you have to do a couple of proofs and then go back and re-carve areas to clean up the image. It was very nice to be able to do all of that digitally in photoshop - click, click, click. The print itself becomes a manipulable tool instead of being the final product that has to be perfect. This part I like.

This is the final sketch. This was scanned to be laid out on the lino block. Any printing plate has to be cut, etched, etc. in reverse so that the final image is correctly oriented. Photoshop is great for this - flip the image horizontally, size it to fit your block and print. Then I transferred the image to the block and spent many, many hours cutting it out by hand (old school).

Monday, February 8, 2010

X-Wing Couple (The Things We do for Love)

This is the second piece from the Comic-Con series.  This piece addresses the phenomenon of couples in costume.  It is common among the costume or 'cos play' types.  I believe Elektra and Darth Maul from my previous post were a couple (though obviously they went in different directions thematically).  Often times though they do dress in tandem.  This couple chose X-wing fighter pilots.  What I like about this piece is the expression on her face that suggests that this was his idea, and that she is playing along, dorking out for her sweetie.  Ah, love....

Photoshop learning curve continues to be steep, but I really do like the slickness of these.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Elektra & Darth Maul go to Comic-Con

These sketches were inspired by Comic-Con in San Diego.  Anyone who knows me knows I am a big Comic-Con fan and attend annually.  There are thousands of people at this event and many choose to dress in costume.  These people are usually quite polite to pose for photographs out on the convention floor.  But these people are also convention-goers and what I find really interesting are the more candid, pedestrian moments:  Superman smoking a cigarette, Wonder Woman on her cell phone, wearing glasses with her purse slug up over her shoulder, middle-aged superheroes with their offspring in tow, etc.  I also want to capture the energy, the hustle and bustle of the convention in this series because Comic-Con takes over San Diego and for those four or five days it really is a strange and different world.

This is a real departure in that it is not a print and because it was colored in photoshop (and when it comes to photoshop I am still a blind monkey poking at it with a stick).  Though it is not my milieu, I think the subject matter benefits from the slick computer coloring.  Upon printing it out I think this one is a tad overdone.  Somewhere in the middle there was a version (that I didn't save, d'oh) that struck a better balance between the looseness of the original drawing and the slickness of the color.
Below is the original inked pencil drawing before photoshopping.

Friday, January 29, 2010

My Work in NYC

Yeah, yeah, yeah - it's been too long - I'm a terrible blogger and worse self-promoter and all that...

Because if I was any good at self-promotion I would have clamored that my work was in a show in New York City. My dear friend (and celebrated artist) Jon Coffelt co-curated the show/collection at Central Booking. Central Booking is "Brooklyn’s own space focusing on the art of the book and its fuller integration into the mainstream art world".

This is the announcement. One of those tiny names is mine. Pretty cool.

These are the prints that were in the exhibition:

Roller Derby Girl - collograph print

Modigliani's Studio - linoleum block print

Superman -woodblock print

Friday, August 29, 2008

Facebook meets Blogger - aka 'Rhett wrote on Scarlett's wall'

Rhett & Scarlett -- 6"x 9" monotype print with watercolor

Greetings, gentle readers. All worlds merge on the internet it seems, as my blog is now on my facebook page. Thanks to all of you who confirmed my blog ownership (...what an odd thing to say). I finally gave in and joined the grand social network, and I'm glad I did. Its been wonderful to reconnect with so many old friends - if any of you have stumbled across this blog...welcome! This is the ongoing chronicle of my return to printmaking. Some of you have prints of mine that I gave to you years ago, and it's wonderful to hear that they still have a place in your heart and in your home. If it's your first time visiting, poke around, look at some older posts, I welcome comments and questions. If you like what you see, come back again (you can even subscribe if that strikes your fancy) and see what's new.

Today's print, from my recent Hollywood Icons show, is "Rhett & Scarlett" from Gone with theWind. This print is a monotype created by covering a metal plate in printing ink and then carefully removing ink with paper towels, blending stumps, q-tips, etc., to define the image. Paper is then placed over the plate, the plate is run through the press transferring the ink to the paper and...voila! I then watercolored the print after the ink had dried.

the inked plate ready for printing

Scarlett wrote on Rhett's wall: I only know that I love you.
Rhett wrote on Scarlett's wall: That's your misfortune.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Bare Hands Gallery presents...

Greetings, gentle readers! Sorry to have been away so long. I've been back in L.A. for a few weeks now, but after pushing so hard to get the show done I've been too burned out to blog.

Thanks to everyone who's been so supportive of this blog and to everyone who helped me pull this show off. It was a group effort and I thank you all from the bottom of my heart.

The show has been very well received and sold fairly well. Hopefully we'll sell a few more (since I just found out today that the show is going to remain up for another month! Thanks, Wendy!). The opening reception was very well attended. The 'Hollywood Icons' theme really came together with elements like a retro tv sculpture (pictured below), tv theme songs and movie soundtracks for music and even a popcorn machine. I saw many old friends and met some new ones. The evening was a wonderful, frenetic blur. I intended to take pictures of the reception, but again - blur. Luckily, pictures were taken at the reception and as soon as I get some of them I'll post them for your amusement. In the meantime, here's a few pics from the gallery.

Thanks again to everyone.

view from the front of the gallery

loose prints clipped to super-slick wiring system (thanks, Rashid!)

giant Kermit print

retro tv sculpture (thanks, UAB Theatre Dept. and OzWorks!)

woodblocks on display

Bandit detail

Raiders... bathed in gallery light