June 28, 2008

151: The HOWieZine Cometh, Part IX

Somehow this got lost in the mix, my übersimple submission for the most recent issue of the
HOWieZine, a collaborative zine project done up by members of HOW magazine's online forums. My contribution to this long-standing tradition (I believe this is HOWieZine number 12, the series spanning some four years) were hamstrung somewhat by our extensive spring holiday in Europe. As such, I panned through my vault of photos to search for applicable entries, eventually settling on these two above to best represent the zine's theme of nightmares and dreamscapes. Both photos have appeared on this site over the months and years; the first, an indoor roseate spoonbill at the Assiniboine Park Zoo taken beneath a blanched-out skylight in 2007 (click here for a closer look), and the second, a mannequin street performer at Mardi Gras (pre-Katrina) in 2005 (click here for a closer look).

These I figured to be my best two singular 'storytelling' images to fit the zine's dual theme words. The typeface used is Diavlo, available for free download from the typographically amazing and generous folks at exljbris – do check them out.

150: News That's Fit To e-Print

I've just completed my second issue of the Manitoba chapter's Society of Graphic Designers of Canada (GDC) e-newsletter. One of my primary aims of joining the all-volunteer chapter executive as communications chair was to attempt to reconnect with the local graphic design community after years of working far outside its realm (geographically, and to a lesser extent 'spiritually', for lack of a better word). And with the aid of these newsletters I'm gradually doing that. This issue, far more than the previous one, was a great example of engaging chapter membership for content submissions, then donning the editor's cap to build a cohesive single file. And with a template now in place following the inaugural issue, far less time was spent in the design stage. Hopefully as time progresses, these newsletters will continue to inspire and improve – and with luck (and news), another one will come along around Christmas.

Sorry – I can't believe I just mentioned Christmas. But in the meantime, click here to download yourself a copy of the spring/summer Manitoba chapter e-newsletter. Note: I took the cover photograph of a vandalized birch tree last summer while camping near Flin Flon (the photo was then rotated 90 degrees).


June 27, 2008

I Ate Shreddies Yesterday

So allow me, this one time, to be bloggy and answer a chain-letteresque pass-along series of questions from my friend Maria, who – bless her – resurrected her own site just days ago. However, in the spirit of being difficult and lazy and it being a hot summer weekend and all, I'm going to halt the chain here.

What was I doing ten years ago?

To the day practically, I was graduating – with honours, betta recognize – from the graphic design program, then known as Advertising Art, at Red River College. At the ceremony, I was planning to ask this girl from another program I liked to go out sometime, but she ditched the graduation and I had to cold-call her a week or so later. We're now married.

What are five things on my to-do list for today?*

*Note: I wrote this yesterday.

eat Shreddies (done).
design an ad of company merchandise (done).
freak out over cankerworms (ongoing).
attend a baseball game, weather permitting (done).
this thing – what I'm doing right now (done).

What snacks do I enjoy?

Are you kidding me? Brownies. Compared to brownies, everything else is a pile of puke. But if there's a gun to my head...

Miss Vickie's sweet chili & sour cream chips
Ritter Sport (any kind with whole nuts in 'em)
hot fudge sundaes, with peanuts
Wagon Wheels
baby carrots
monster cookies
Corn Pops
brownies with ice cream

What would I do if I were a billionaire?

Much. But this is as good a time as any to state, for the record, that I would like to go into outer space – and I think that, as a billionaire, I could achieve that goal. Kerry says that outer space would be boring, that after she did a couple summersaults and squeezed out a tube of toothpaste in zero gravity, there wouldn't be much else to do (and she’s the poet). Me? I'd have my face pasted to the window, watching the earth like a TV. For the record, is all.

Where have I lived?

Figure 1: where I have lived.

Kitchener, Ontario
On my aunt and uncle's farm, near MacGregor, Manitoba
Winnipeg, Manitoba – eight addresses within a seven block radius, over 25 years (see figure 1)

What jobs have I held?

Ahh, a natural progression...

graphic designer

June 23, 2008

149: Catching The Red-Eye

More creative fallout from my visit east. My sister's house is smack in the middle of the Nova Scotia interior, nestled in mixed woods on the shores of a long, slender lake. Beavers. Loons. Blackflies. Hooting owls at night. It's the great outdoors.

And so, for Photo Friday to offer up their current theme of the great outdoors, I have to admit this one pretty much fell right into my lap – much like this poor red-eyed vireo nearly did, dazed as it was sitting on the deck following a window-strike. Torn between leaving the little guy be and using the opportunity to again play with my sister's macro lens ... I chose the latter.

Not known for flashy displays of colour, members of the drab green vireo family can be hard to distinguish from one another. This one is likely the most ubiquitous, easy to spot with its blood-red eye (if you can get close enough to see it) and nonstop, day-long singing. Getting as close as I did for my shots, often lying on my belly while the bird regained full consciousness, I caught a good glimpse of the bird's textural and tonal subtleties. Because the deck was so bright, I was easily able to dodge out the wooden tones to create the stark, white background. I really like these shots – I combined the two here for my current desktop display at work. Click here, and here, respectively, for a better look at the feather detail.


June 19, 2008

148: Boys Rule!

Well, here he is: Avery Daya, my new little nephewical bundle of joy.

Over the course of two photo shoots – and several impromptu snaps in between – altogether approximately 200 shots total, ­ I gathered a pretty decent collection of photographs of Avery that I now have at my disposal for sending to family and for my own keeping. In these shots, Avery is nine weeks old and a very good model, always curious and eyes-on with the camera. During our visit he was quiet, content (even while snorting like a piggie due to a wee head cold).

For some of these shots I had the added benefit of my sister's Canon EF-S 60mm USM macro lens (which I now love, and please buy me one – yes, I'm talking to you).

Amazingly, it was only around Halloween of 2004 that I did a near-identical photo shoot of Avery's sister Cadence ­ then six weeks old ­ on the very same bed. Only I was using a hand-me-down Minolta Maxxim 400si and two rolls of llford black-and-white film. I treated each shot so carefully, lest I blow a precious frame of film. And after the negatives were developed, it seemed I spent an eternity scanning each picture and rubber-stamping the inevitable scratch marks that came with the process.

Jebus, bless the digital camera!

June 16, 2008

A Tower Of Song

So our trip east to see my new nephew Avery in Nova Scotia, and Leonard Cohen in Toronto, was a total creative rejuvenation. A five-day whirlwind, the most I could take after blowing our vacation wadge in Portugal, was punctuated by seeing one talent at the top of his game, and another one just starting out. I'll break it into chunks over the days to come, starting here, with Mr. Cohen.

Growing up with both parents as fans, and having a wife who in all likeliness would step over my dead body to meet him, I've always been a silent admirer. I appreciate any musician at the talent level of Mr. Cohen, regardless of genre, so to witness a rare live performance was worth any toil of diving deep into downtown Toronto to experience it first-hand. And to do it among thousands of devotees waiting 15 years – or for some, possibly their entire lives – to see him perform, made the experience even sweeter.

A former co-worker of mine who sings in a band, said the secret is to surround yourself with better musicians. This would be the same for Mr. Cohen; he is not The Voice, even if his growl is a defining characteristic, but his words – pop stars take note – are the stars of the show, and his bandmates excelled at framing them. And then every once in awhile he surprised, opting to read verses instead, or in finding the perfect tune to accent his vocal range. Mr. Cohen's œuvre – the legacy, decades in the making – was on full display, and his surprising physical spryness made the evening more of a party than anyone likely expected, fuelling the fire that yeah, maybe he will drop by again one day.

June 13, 2008

147: The Hate Is On

For Illustration Friday's tricky current theme of punchline, I'm using the
opportunity to sneak-peek my submission for the upcoming second issue of Winnipeg local art zine A Paw In My Face (PIMF). As such, let this act as a warning to fellow contributors checking in: first, don't look at the picture above, and second, stop reading this description of it and get back to work on yer own submissions (now due at the end of the month).

Themed hate, the second PIMF will serve as an interesting companion piece to last summer's love issue (read about that, here), which was snapped up quickly and well-received from several establishments around downtown. And I thought cool, because, well, I hate all manner of things: cankerworms, raisins in cinnamon buns, the thump-clap thump-thump-clap baseline of every modern R&B song. But I also thought, it's too easy to expound on things I hate. It's more fun to imagine what other people hate (but that reminds me, I hate quite a lot of people other than me, too).

Take muppets, for example. Kerry and I have been watching the first season of The Muppet Show, which is frequently infiltrated by Scooter, annoying and cloying nephew of the owner of their theatre, who uses nepotistic connections to further his talentless run at fame. Sure, they all appear to be buddies, but back-backstage and off-camera, the cast members detest Scooter (and I like to think he knows it).

Therin lies the punchline of this illustration, drawn with my brush pen and shaded/halftoned in Photoshop. The hate issue of A Paw In My Face should hit streets later this summer. Click here for a closer look at the finished illustration.

June 04, 2008


Biding my time, blogwise, on the last days leading up to my first visit with new nephew Avery in Nova Scotia (with a whistle stop in Toronto to witness the majesty of Leonard Cohen). I have a couple of items to post in the near future before taking a blog break to work on the next GDC Manitoba e-newsletter. One, a submission for the second issue of local art zine Paw In My Face (bearing a theme of hate), and two, an illustration I sketched for fun while trying out a new set of watercolour-inspired Photoshop brushes from the relaunched Design Bureau of Amerika. These will be posted shortly, no doubt alongside photos from our quick-but-memorable jaunt east.

In the meantime however, Photo Friday's current theme of minimalism brings to mind this shot (above) of a bonsai trunk, taken at the Assiniboine Park Conservatory a couple of years ago. One post-processing note: I dodged the original darkened background to a pure black in Photoshop, then added extra black to make the image a square (click here for a more detailed look).