Happy New Year!

Most blogs are doing their best of 2011 wrap-ups, but since this is only my 6th post, that would be sort of hard to do. New Year’s Eve always seemed like a strange holiday to me. I guess it’s viewed as a chance to start over, but I’ve always thought you can start over at any time.

Earlier this year, I had change thrust upon me when my job moved to Texas without my department and I started school. I won’t sugar-coat it, it was sorta traumatic, as change often is. There were a few times that first week of school that I sat in my car crying wondering why I thought I could do this.

But there was no way I was quitting. I figured if I failed, I was going to fail trying.

Over time I relaxed and I didn’t fail. I haven’t yet. That’s not to say school is easy. It’s difficult, more often then not and have to work very hard. But it’s like this whole other world, that I never thought I could be a part of, opened up to me. It makes the growing pains worth it.

I have a long way to go and sometimes I still get a case of the nerves thinking just how much further. Yet when I look back at how far I’ve come this year, I have faith that I can do it. I know I am exactly where I am supposed to be.

I wish you health and happiness in 2012!

Mad Men Title Sequence

I’m fighting off a little cold, so I am getting some serious couch time and having a Mad Men-a-thon. During nearly every episode I laugh, am disgusted, terrified, intrigued and excited. In my dreams for one day I get to look like Joan, but with Roger’s one-liners and Peggy’s job.

While waiting for that to happen, I found this really interesting interview with the creators of the shows iconic opening sequence. Instead of being just a typical interview, they show the story boards and concept ideas really giving us a glimpse into the creative process. It took 4 months and an entire team of people to build a sequence that is 38 seconds long. Not surprisingly, the same design group did the amazingly fabulous opening sequence to Boardwalk Empire.   Mad Men Opening Title Sequence at The Art of the Title

Emmet Otter’s Jug Band Christmas

For me it’s not Christmas until I get to watch Emmet Otter’s Jug Band Christmas. There really is not enough Emmet Otter fan art, so I made this little Emmet really quick.

Growing up in my house this special was so loved that when my husband told me he had never seen it, we had to watch it immediately….even though it was July.

For those like my husband who have not grown up watching Emmet Otter, the story is like The Gift of the Magi. Emmet and his Ma are very poor since Pa passed away (why are so many parents dead in kid’s stories?), but Emmet brings in money using Pa’s old tool chest to do odd jobs around the neighborhood and Ma by doing laundry in her washtub. The town holds talent show on Christmas Eve with first prize being $50. Ma decides to secretly enter, so she can surprise Emmet with a Christmas gift. But to make a new dress for the show, she has to pawn Pa’s tool chest. Emmet and his friends secretly form a jug band and enter the contest, so he can buy Ma a gift, but to make a washtub bass, he has to poke a hole in Ma’s washtub.

It’s full of fun songs, a heavy metal band (really!)  and adorable river creatures wearing pants, hats and even a frog wearing a monocle. If Emmet and Ma sliding on the ice is not the cutest thing in the world, I don’t want to know what is. The story has a twist ending that I will not spoil. Netflix has Emmet Otter’s Jug Band Christmas streaming, so go see it!

I’m actually a huge Muppets fan in general (I have based my life on Miss Piggy’s teachings) and was thrilled last year when the Smithsonian’s traveling Jim Henson exhibit came to Chicago. Some chunky brunette who looked an awful lot like me may or may not have gotten yelled at by the security guard for taking forbidden pictures of Kermit. These pictures may or may not be seen on my Facebook page. I can neither confirm nor deny these wild accusations. Although, I can confirm that had Emmet been included in that exhibit, you would have heard on the news about the chunky brunette in Chicago police custody after stealing Emmet Otter from the Museum of Science and Industry.

As a kid I just loved those wonderful songs (written by the great Paul Williams) and the humor, but as an adult I can appreciate the attention to detail that went into every scene. Emmet rows a boat on real water. There is a great blue heron that moves with grace. One of the Riverbottom Nightmare Band members is in a water tank. The characters play instruments. It’s really sort of amazing.

Jim Henson was supposedly a huge perfectionist and although it was probably irritating for those around him, it made for wonderful movies like Emmet Otter.  Below is a video of outtakes, the longest being a shot of a drum rolling out of music store. The drum was supposed to roll out of the door, spin a little, and then fall to the sidewalk at Ma and Emmet’s feet. Legend is that it worked perfectly in rehearsal, but once the cameras started rolling it took over 200 takes to get something similar. What cracks me up about it, is how they kept the puppets in character between takes. It’s a long video, but I swear it’s hilarious and worth watching the whole thing.

Adobe Illustrator Help


Maybe it’s just me, but every time I’ve started using a new Adobe program, my first reaction is usually terror. I’m not really sure why, because the learning curve is actually very low and after tackling a few basics, you can start to make great looking projects. I’ve learned a lot by just getting in there and playing around (cmd+z or crtl+z is undo for Illustrator and Lightroom).

Here are some of my favorite sources for Adobe Illustrator tutorials that will help you tackle any lingering Adobe-phobia.

Smashing Magazine’s Best of Adobe Illustrator Tutorials

They cover everything from beginner to advanced tutorials, so there is a little something for everyone.

Vectips

Tutorials and a weekly inspiration post that features incredible artists. But don’t go if you are having an artist low self-esteem day, because it may make you cry (not that I would know anything about that).

Vector Tuts+

Some of their content is premium (premium= not free), but don’t let that deter you from their site! They have a ton of free tutorials on every Illustrator subject imaginable. Plus they have a whole mess of links to free vectors, fonts, patterns, frames, and on and on. I spend a lot of time there.

 

Ray

ImageYesterday I said I would post things that inspire me and Ray LaMontagne’s music is a constant inspiration. I actually wish I could go back in time and get that feeling back of first experiencing his music. More then just the quiet power of his voice, his lyrics paint amazing pictures.

From the song, Empty:
Well, I looked my demons in the eye, laid bare my chest said, “Do your best to destroy me. You see, I’ve been to Hell and back so many times, I must admit you kinda bore me.”/There’s a lot of things that can kill a man, there’s a lot of ways to die/Yes, some already dead that walk beside me/Theres a lot of things I don’t understand/Why so many people lie/Well, it’s the hurt I hide that fuels the fire inside me.

See what I mean? Incredible visuals. He put so much of himself into every word that every song sounds like an autobiography.

On my design page, my typography self-portrait was created using the lyrics to Beg, Steal, Borrow, because after the twelve billionth time of hearing it, those lyrics finally sunk in and I decided to make some big changes in my life.  Listening to his music makes me push further, work harder and reveal a little more. I hope some day I can tell him how his music effected me, but I’d probably start crying and embarrass us both. But you never know, he could have a Google alert set, see my work, realize my awesomeness and write his next big song, “Beth.” What?? Why are you looking at me like that? Let me have my dream!!

Here is Ray performing Empty live on the BBC in 2009.

Welcome!

Welcome to my new site! I’ll be posting my projects, photos, and random things that inspire me. Roam around and check out more of my photographs, design projects and scroll down for the latest update.

First thing I thought I’d share is this picture I took at the Lake County Fair in 2010. Someone once told me, “This is a picture of you without you being in the frame.” It made me think of the Ansel Adams quote, “There are always two people in every picture: the photographer and the viewer.” That can really be expanded to all the arts, I think. By putting a little of ourselves into each of our creations, we give our art flavor and life and let the viewer relate to our work. Anyway, I did have to agree a little with the person who said this picture was like me- except I’ve got 5 fingers and I don’t think my head is quite that round.