Sunset over East Town

Listening to a recording of Bach’s St. Matthew Passion Aria: “Gebt Mir Meinen Jesum Wieder” while the sun sets over East Town. It is going to be a late Friday night.

I went to school for graphic design

Sharing this post[1] with you from nikography — plus my own story afterwards. Because graphic design is hard work.

i went to school for graphic design, and did not spend my nights getting drunk. instead, i worked my ass off, spent most of my outside-class time learning/trying/doing as much as possible, and then got an awesome job after graduating.

protip: if you’re lucky enough . . . to be in college, you should be spending all available time learning, trying, making things, messing things up, experimenting and READING. . . .

i didn’t waste a single day. and neither should you. build your momentum and go with it.

for the but-i’m-an-artist’s: you want money? learn a technical skill related to your field and get good at it. then get better at it. . . . just sayin’.

final note: i had a BLAST in college, and miss it like crazy. working hard does not mean no-fun-allowed, it means relax harder 🙂 [2][3]
nikography


I had the unique opportunity to enter a graphic design career during the transitional years of the digital revolution in design (somewhere between the Upper Peasealithic and Macolithic periods). The university offered computer graphics classes during the final year of the academic program called commercial arts. The degree was catalogued as a bachelors in science (as opposed to a bachelors in arts).

All other graphic design classes were hands-on, analog, technical application of composition, typography, illustration, photography, color theory, and so on. And for that fact, I am grateful.

One afternoon, during critique of students’ work a professor called two of my classmates out of the room. Most of the students knew why. One of the two owned a personal computer (yes, this is back in the paleolithic days before wifi, laptops, and mobile phones). They did their copy layout (design jargon for arranging blocks of advertising text — usually Lorem Ipsum — on a page) using a personal computer and printer. Then they inked over the print outs and submitted their work. Or so the rumors went.

No one else in the class owned a personal computer and had to lay out the text for a three-panel brochure by hand using rulers, graphite and non-photo blue pencils and rubylith film for color overlays.

The professor had caught them cheating. They denied using a computer to do the text layout. Hushed conversation relayed that they were nearly suspended for the act.

The recollection of that afternoon seems so arcane and archaic. The level of craftsmanship and skill required to accomplish print layout work was demanding. Each design student spent hours a day in the studio working on each project.

It used to take weeks of hand-lettering and composing mock-up pages before submitting the design samples for ad director and client reviews. Now it takes me a morning to generate three design layout drafts of a two- to four-page project.

The digital revolution allowed for faster turnaround of design projects, but graphic design is still hard work. It is something I try to impart to interns and young designers.

If graphic design is not good, hard, rewarding work, than you’re doing it wrong.


NOTES:


[1] The original post was shared from Tumblr, January 20, 2010. https://coffeehousejunkie.net/2010/01/20/nikography-i-went-to-school-for-graphic-design/

[2] orginal image via synecdoche

A cold, bright Cathedral Square Park

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The Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist, full moon (or nearly full moon) rising, and Christmas lights brighten the cold December night.

Afternoon walk


Somedays a walk to the river is a remedy. Amid . . . read more ->

Frosted window at sunrise

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When night winds leaves subzero signatures on the Saturday morning window, it is time for coffee and jazz and few lines of poetry… [1]

Try to count the colors
In a frosted window at sunrise
try to imagine the hues and shades
Of a Wisconsin winter morning…

NOTES
[1] With apologies to Three Crosses, inspired by song “Michelangelo”

My breath — a smoke signal

DSCN5088[sqr-basic-vintage-HKfilm]Yesterday’s afternoon walk was a bit chilly. Air temperature was around 10°F with wind chill of -7°F. Especially at the corner of Broadway and East Wisconsin. It was practically a wind tunnel. Crossing Water Street was not much better. But I finally made it across the bridge and to the River Walk. 

The river was not quite frozen. And for the most part, very few people are out for a wintery stroll. One woman pulled her faux fur lined hood over her head and quickly shuffled out of the Wells Fargo building to a waiting SUV. A couple guys, both dressed in thick dark coats, waited for a bus. There was a man waiting at the street corner smoking a cigarette. He wore a red flannel jacket and no gloves.

Funny how cigarette smoke is so distinct in the frigid air. The subtle distinctions between Camel Turkish Gold 100’s, Marlboro Red, Newport Menthol Blue and Chesterfield Bronze is almost as unmistakable as the scent of a fajita or a falafel. Wondered why he had no gloves.

There was a Tranströmer poem I tried to recall as I walked along the River Walk. My breath, thick clouds, attempted to signal a line of the poem. What was it about? A train? A couple in a hotel? Something about night? Or was it a horizon? The frozen river surface does not help. And forty minutes in the cold temperature sent me back to the warm harbor of the office building.

Rainy river walk

20160108-133453.jpgIt is difficult to believe that it is winter in Wisconsin. The weather reports offer that snowfall is in the forecast for this weekend and sub zero temperatures. But for now, a lunch time walk along Milwaukee’s River Walk is a damp pleasure.

A walk through East Town

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Even though it is 30°F outside, it is still nice to take a walk break. Walked to the Third Ward and all the way to Milwaukee’s orange spiky thing by the art museum before heading back to the office.

A moment with a stranger

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Sometimes you have to share a moment with a stranger.

The wind chilled my hands as I walked. Needed to stretch my legs after a long commute. I had watched the sky from the green space west of Oak Leaf Trail. Had not planned to compose a photo of the scene. Only enjoy it.

But the desire to compose a photograph won over and I moved closer to the walking bridge over Lincoln Memorial Drive. I stood for awhile watching the beauty of the morning unfold. There will never be another morning like this. Not in thousand years. Once a morning is spent, it can never be duplicated. I have read how the great masters of haiku captured moments in a few lines. Saved them for centuries. Could I do the same? With a photograph?

I do not know how long I stood there. But after I composed a few shots, I placed my camera back in my bag. I noticed an older man to the north. He stood near the walking bridge. I had seen him while walking, but did not notice him while photographing the scene.

We stood there for a moment together watching the sun rise, the clouds, the lake, the lights, the darks. Amid the roar of construction behind us and the wind, it was a quiet moment. My hands grew cold. I saw the stranger pull a mobile device from his pocket. He held it to the sky. Tried to capture the same thing I did. We tried to haiku a morning in a thousand pixels.

He still stood there when I departed and walked north on Prospect Drive.

Book cover illustration – update

Fear motivates. The paralyzing fear that if I mess up the coloring of this book cover art, I will have to start the whole process over again. And the completion date is fast approaching. But the task needs to be done. So, onward.

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Watercolor washes begin the color process for the book cover illustration.

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Paint to the edges and then let the colors bleed. The basic color palette had already been determined weeks prior to the final execution of the cover art. But once the water and pigment are activated on the surface of the paper, the color palette organically builds to its own organized spontaneity.

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Details. There are always small details that many casual observers may not detect at first glance. For example, the color for the shotgun shell includes multiple wash layers of different pigments — each layer pulling or pushing color from previous layer.

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Once the final art is approved, I finished the design with title bar and a map overlay to texture the collage art.