Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas everyone.

We've been running around a lot this month, weekends have been spent helping my parents move and when that was over, it was time to get ready for the holidays. Busy busy!

I'm still on the hunt for work, which is fine as it's an odd time of year for this. I had one friend tell me that she got her job over the holidays, but the general thought is that not a lot of people will be hiring now. More likely they will be trimming a bit of the holiday fat this year to keep in the black.

So anyway, I've been thinking that I should try to maybe do some personal artwork. And then I had the thought that I could perhaps market and sell these things. I like creating rare and unique pieces and giving them to people, so maybe an Etsy or something like that. This seems pretty obvious, but it's also very similar to freelance: the interest (from clients) is going to wax and wane like crazy. So I'm compelled t keep looking for work and maybe entertaining this on the side, like so many other projects...

But for those that read this, let me pose a question: If you had the chance, for any special occasion, to have a geeky and nerdy card or some kind of similar craft, would you be interested? How many times have you gone to Hallmark or Carlton Cards and just not found that right card because they just don't exist?

Just some holiday, possibly life-changing, food for thought. Happy holidays and thanks for reading!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Creative Side Project - Toronto Cheat Codes

Decided to throw this here for anyone that doesn't read my Facebook. Created for my cousin-in-law Corey as an idea for a Tumblr he wants to do.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Musings On A Hat Rack...

Sorry I haven't posted in a bit, a nasty cold has knocked me out for the last week or so.

So today's topic is that of hats. The metaphorical hats that we all have to wear that is. For some of us, the hats we wear are simple, and don't overly represent who we are and what we do (I suppose in a way that's a hat entirely unto itself), but for some of us, the hat we wear is tailored, fit, conditioned and sized in a very specific way to best exemplify who we are.

Case in point: I am a graphic designer. To me, that's less of the hat I wear and more of a general statement of my profession and interests. I like many aspects of graphic design, particularly corporate identity on one end and totally original design concepts and ideas on the other. I suppose to say that these are some of my hats.

Currently, I'm looking for work. I spent a number of years at a single company and became decent at print production, corporate identity and point of sale and marketing materials. While I was there, those were the hats I wore. I never really took off the other hats I mentioned before, but situationally those hats wore better. Now that I'm out and looking to fill roles again, I find that that specific hat I wore all those years is really good only in those situations. I find myself wondering now which and how many hats I should wear?

I'm wrapping up part time courses at Conestoga College for Digital Imaging, meaning now I've specifically training in more web related graphic design. I went out and bought this hat because I found when I was first looking, a lot of the trends required this. Makes sense. So now I'm a graphic designer with a lot of POP and marketing experience and some web experience.

But should it end there? I mean, the exact definition of a graphic designer is hard to nail down. I think it's someone who gets across a message or an idea in a graphical way. That's fairly broad! I don't consider myself a fine artist really, but can I honestly say that it's not also an aspect of graphic design? Do I need to go out and buy another hat...?

How many hats SHOULD one wear? Obviously, I'd want to keep myself at the highest marketability, so I'd want to dabble in a bit of everything, but the real world doesn't often look for dabblers. They want people with straight-up full experience in something. Is my new Digital Imaging hat "fashionable" enough to be employable? I remember a time not too long ago when you would hire someone to do your graphic design, and you would hire someone to manage your website. They would collaborate, naturally, but they were distinct people. Now with a struggling economy and trying to save money, it seems a company would like to have someone that can do both.

But is that fair? I accept that I am technically less employable than the designer who can do both, but does that mean that s/he is less employable than the designer that can video edit too? Or the person that writes copy in their spare time? I don't think my head is big enough to wear all these hats, but it seems like I need to squeeze them on just to stay relevant.

Maybe I'm a little biased because I haven't been able to find work. I know that I'm not perfect for every position, and that I just won't apply to the video editing or copy writer jobs out there because those aren't my hats. One has to admit though that it is a tricky job making sure that your hat, no matter how well you wear it, distinguishes itself out from all the other ones out there. Like the adage says, "nobody's good at everything, but everyone's good at something".

But I have to ask again: how many hats SHOULD one wear?

Thanks for reading.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Generalized Update

Good morning all.

So, let's review all the little things that are going on, shall we?

Classes are going well. I'm picking up small things in DreamWeaver and Fireworks that are helping me along in actually putting together my website for my web comic. I'm taking the most from the Flash course, and doing well in terms of marking. The final project is an interactive microsite, so I'll find a way of posting it.

I haven't written anything for the comic script in the last little while, but I have sort of been working on it for classes. I think I'm just a little stuck on it: I've reached a point in the story that wasn't in the original game, and I'm overloading myself trying to see al the angles at once to see what will work best. I'll get back to it :)

So Pete and myself a little while ago playtested the board game a little while ago, and found that is lacking a little bit of cut-throatedness (wow, that didn't spell check!) so I'm going to tweak some of the rule cards to accommodate.

The work search chugs on. I have a second career workshop thing tomorrow morning, and I've been back and forth with a local place. I've slowed it down just a touch these weeks to focus on schoolwork, and I stand by the decision.

Other than that, Carla's well in China, family is well, things are as they ever are.

Thanks for reading.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Hallowe'en 2011

Morning all.

So after some debacle with dressing up for Hallowe'en or not, Carla ended up needing to dress up every day for work, which got me helping her, which means I naturally got creative about it. So here are the general results...

Carla's been playing a lot of Fallout 3 lately, and her costume for the big party Saturday night was going to be a post-apocalyptic wasteland wanderer. She was all about basing a costume around a gas mask she had from japan, so we assembled some clothes, some accessories, and did this:

Not bad, considering we were going for something like this:

So then in the same vein of video game nerdiness, I rather enjoy this:

So I got to work collecting up some clothing, buying supplies, etc...

And we ended up with this :)

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

Hope everyone had a good weekend. I know I ate far too much but had a great time. Spent this one with the fiancee's family, so I owe my own family a little "me" time.

Now for something completely different!

I think last time I mentioned that I was going to work on a Left4Dead board game. I want this to still be in the works, but subsequently I was at a house warming party and got talking to the new homeowner. He told me his idea for his own board game and I was hooked. Now I'm going to make this the focus of my side projects and see if we can hammer something neat out!

School is going well. A classmate of mine asked me to be her tutor in DreamWeaver. I'm going to accept I think, I'm not having any difficulty in this class. Fireworks is what it is... I feel it's a lot of the functionality taken from Photoshop and ImageReady put into a new program, so at least I have some steady footing with that one. Flash however, not so much. I'm stuck trying to reproduce what the book is telling me concerning masked animations, and I'm not getting a lot of help from the instructor. Let's see where this goes.

I'll try to post pictures and such of the Flash project, along with anything relevant concerning the board game project.

Thanks for reading!

Friday, September 30, 2011

Left 4 Ideas...

I've been busy lately, not a lot of designing going on.
Between helping a buddy of mine refinish his basement and sorting out things at school / taking classes there, I haven't had a chance to sit down and come up with anything new.

Classes! Yes! So far I've taken some Dreamweaver, some Fireworks, and will be starting Flash soon enough. That's the tricky one to me. I was a little concerned about Fireworks, as I hadn't really used it at all, but it seems to be a collection of elements from other programs I am very familiar with, so that's cool.

What I have been kicking around is an idea to make a Left4Dead board game. I want yo use cards, but I'm trying to lean away from using an actual board. I hear WOW released something along those lines, I'm doing some research.

Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Not Paying Attention In Class

That is to say I AM paying attention in class, but due to not a lot of people here having knowledge of DreamWeaver, the teacher is sort of starting off at ground zero.

Class? What are you talking about, Rob?

Well I'm glad you asked! As of about 2pm today I am now enrolled in the Conestoga College Digital Media class! So far I'm down to take the current DreamWeaver class, a class in Flash and a class in Fireworks. I'm hoping that my previous classes at Georgian College plus my 4+ years of experience in the field will allow me to opt out of the actually design related classes. We'll find out soon I hope, the college strike that just ended delayed me a bit (I actually missed my first Fireworks class on Monday without even realizing!) Oh well...

That's all for me, I should start paying attention. Thanks for reading!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Let's see how many of these blog posts I can get away with without having to post any kind of title!

I had a job interview on Friday for a company in Elmira. Wish me luck!
No current ideas for any new artistic projects... wonder if I should create a Facebook specific to my graphic design life. Would this really be any different than my website? That was what we call a shameless plug...

I'm still working on the script for my webcomic. That's sort of what's on my plate right now, that and trying to hear back about some leather. More on that later.

Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Project - Skelanimals Birthday Card

In case I haven't mentioned, a lot of my projects are the combination of two needs - my need to create something kinda fun and unique, and someone else's need to have something kinda fun and unique made for them! Everyone loves this, this individual piece that is theirs alone: something that even if they don't hold on to forever, they can still know that they owned that and nobody else did. That's why I created the Skelanimal birthday card for a friend of mine. As I said before, I love working with greeting cards, so when I told her "give me a theme and if I have time I'll make you a fancy card", this is the result!

I started off by looking around for something I could create as a papercraft, but hadn't worked before. At the time I was still working on the Hot Fuzz Birthday Card and had sort of exhausted my need for pop-ups. After a few Google searches for things like "creative card" or "fun papercraft" I came across this. It looked amazing and I gave it a try right away.

I started by printing a cheaper smaller version of it to be able to map out the proper areas where images would be created when put together:
As it turns out, there is a double spread in the design that worked perfectly to have a nice splash message. From there, I designed some Skelanimal themed images and broke them down into squares to be inserted into the overall template.
Once I was happy with the mock-up, I went out and chose a nice 12pt card stock paper and had it professionally printed. From there I took the sheets home, cut them out and taped the whole thing together and was really happy with the final output:

That's all for this project. Thanks for reading!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Project - Hot Fuzz Birthday Card

This project has lived in a little bit of infamy here, with a short story before I get into the actual design blog...

Most of my projects begin with wanting to do something special for someone I love. I've designed jewellery for my fiance, tattoos for friends and co-workers, but what I really love doing is birthday cards. These often start off with me saying "ok, give me a theme and I'll make you a card". This is how the Hot Fuzz birthday card began, with me wanting to try something new, and my sister choosing Hot Fuzz as the theme. The trick was that this happened sometime in August 2010, intended to be a card for her birthday early the next month, with me eventually finishing the project about two weeks ago! The delays were a combination of losing my job shortly after I started, deciding how I wanted the card to look, and eventually having to learn all the techniques to create the card that I wanted. I'm happy with the results though, and I hope my sister will be to!

So the initial concept of the card was extremely simple: have a basic pop-up mechanism of the cathedral with the character of Tim Messenger in the foreground, his head crushed in by the falling spire. Right off, I thought this was way too simple, even fancying it up with an image on the inside and outside. Then I had the idea of adding a pull tab of Const. Angel and Const. Butterman chasing the missing swan, taken right from the movie:
I sat on this concept for the longest time, because I didn't know what else to add to it. I opted at one point to add a flip panel of the dead bodies found in the caravan, but now the project was a number of disjointed movealbe paper gimmicks, and this made me sit on it for a bit while I dealt with other concerns.
Eventually, I had the inspiration of giving the overall card the theme of illustrating all the deaths caused by the Neighbourhood Watch Association. I already had the idea of Tim at the cathedral and the dead bodies, all I needed to do was build on that and organize my ideas.
Needing to learn more about pop-up books, I went to Chapters and took some ideas from The Harry Potter Pop-Up Book and The Pop-Up Book of Celebrity Meltdowns for some more interesting pop-up ideas (this was after weeks of reading library books and just not finding the right applications).

In the end, I decided to have Tim Messenger spin his head to reveal the crushing spire (pop-up with spinning image), Martin and Eve becoming decapitated from the welcome sign (combination pop-up and pull-tab), Leslie being stabbed with her shears (a sliding French window), and the central piece of George's house exploding (combination pop-up and some pull tabs for effect).
Here are some images of the works in progress (a special thanks to the images of the characters, likenesses, and all that, but in general all final designs were created by me using Illustrator and Photoshop):

In the end, they all came together to form this:

The doors and pieces of brick on the house expand out, and pull tabs raise flames in the house windows. The car is pulled out under the sign (which pops-up) and underneath reveals the severed heads. Leslie's French window changes scenes in the movie. Overall a success! I really really wanted to include some music playing when you opened the card, like the movie theme, but I couldn't find a small enough playable electronic device (I did find a recordable Hallmark card, but it played a short music clip after that I couldn't get rid of).

That's all for this project. Thanks for reading!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Shout Out To The Ether

Good evening everyone!

First, a welcome to my blog. I'm hoping to post up some of the personal design projects that I work on in my spare time here in sort of a step-by-step process to maybe give other designers some ideas, or to act as sort of a living portfolio to enhance my other website (shameless plug!)

Funny side note: I'm generally branding myself as Intelligent Designs, but I had one heck of a time trying to start up a blog under that name! I guess I should have jumped on this boat sooner, but I'm unfortunately only branching out into as many social media outlets as I can lately.

Anyway, thanks for coming out. I'll post up some of my more recent projects shortly, and I always welcome feedback and will try to respond to any comments in a timely and only semi-sarcastic manner.