Tuesday, April 16, 2013
Really?! Is it already mid-April?! Sheesh!
I would be remiss if I failed to make mention of this recent opportunity to show off my corporate side: here are samples of some recent pieces produced as part of a re-brand for LifeWay Credit Union. I’ve had lots of fun working with That Writer to come up with these concepts (thinking of the banner ads, especially).
Thursday, February 28, 2013
Tuesday, February 26, 2013
Here are two cover designs (final design plus one alternate comp) I produced recently for author Guy Chmielski’s new book Shaping Their Future. The illustration on the alternate comp is mine, but so is (this isn’t often the case, hence my drawing particular attention to the fact) the photograph on the final. (Who knows? Perhaps this will be the beginning of a new trend?)
Monday, February 18, 2013
This project was quite a long time in the making, but the subject matter is more than worthy of the efforts involved. The story of the settling of my native region is one that features numerous examples of near-superhuman heroism and sacrifice. Residents of Nashville ought to at least recognize the names of Timothy Demonbreun, James Robertson, Charlotte Robertson, and John Donelson, if simply due to the fact that those names have been lent to various streets, buildings and other landmarks around town. But their legacy (that of the Robertsons in particular), and that of many of their still more obscure colleagues—Thomas Spencer, Kasper Mansker, Anthony Bledsoe, John Buchanan, and William Hall, to name a few additional notables—is worthy of much wider recognition and adulation. When the first permanent settlements were established in the Cumberland River Valley, the United States were still fighting to gain their independence from Great Britain, and the ultimate survival and success of those settlements, in many respects made all the more difficult by the fact of that larger conflict, played a very strategic role both in that struggle itself and in the subsequent development and westward expansion of the new nation. Had those settlements failed, and they very nearly did fail, subsequent U. S. history would no doubt have turned out quite differently.
So, given my pre-existant enthusiasm for the subject matter, I was excited as all get-out when, way back in 2010, I was tapped to help out on this project, a detailed, year-by-year narrative based on meticulously researched and compiled firsthand accounts of the settlers themselves. More than two years, over a dozen revisions, and just over 800 pages later, I’m still excited . . . to be done! No, seriously (okay I’m sort of kidding about that . . . I know that Paul will empathize) I’m incredibly pleased with the results and with the contributions I was able to make to this important work. For the record, those contributions included updating and finessing an existing (and voluminous!) interior layout which had already been touched by a couple of other designers, consultation on the production of numerous maps featured throughout, logo design, book cover design, business card design, consultation and guidance during the self-publishing process, social media integration, art direction for a promotional video (thanks Ricky Burchell and B4 Entertainment!) and web design (thanks to Tim Brown of Graphos Designs for development!). These books are hardbound and feature smyth sewn binding, which, taken in consideration with the enthralling story contained within the pages, makes them worth every penny of the $70 asking price. Copies are available directly from the author via the website.
Tuesday, February 5, 2013
Back in early January I gave a presentation for a local group of men who get together regularly to hear lectures and to engage in discussion on various topics, theology most frequently, but also economics, science, moral/ethical/social issues, literature, and the arts. My presentation was focused on an overview of biblical numerology, the study of the significance and symbolism which Scripture assigns to certain numbers, and how we see that significance confirmed virtually everywhere we look, both in the natural world of God’s own making, and in the creative works of mankind. Along the way, I take numerous excursions into the disciplines of geometry, music, biology, architecture, the visual arts, and astronomy. An audio recording of the lecture as well as a pdf of my accompanying Keynote presentation are available here. There seemed to be a good deal of enthusiasm among the group for this topic, and the whole process—preparation, presentation, follow-up discussion—was a great deal of fun. My thanks go out to our hosts (Tom and Sylvia Singleton) and all the other folks who were in attendance. Perhaps there are others out there who would also take an interest in this topic, and if you have a chance to listen and/or browse through the pdf, I trust you will find it fascinating. And as always, I’d be delighted to hear your feedback, as well as any additional insights of your own on the topics covered.
Friday, January 25, 2013
Thursday, December 13, 2012
I was recently privileged to provide the packaging art for this collection of wonderful and inspiring psalms, hymns and service music by my friend and composer-extraordinaire, Gregory Wilbur. You (whoever you are) should get a copy!
Thursday, December 6, 2012
Wednesday, October 24, 2012
I was confronted with this yesterday, while stopped at a traffic light during a family excursion to Chattanooga. There are so many levels of messed-up here—not the least of which is a hand-rendered version of a logo (at bottom) that I actually illustrated (in one of its many iterations) a number of years ago.
Thursday, October 11, 2012
Here’s another book cover—prominently featuring illustration this time!—that I recently finished for L. B. Graham. Quite obviously, I hope, The Raft, the River, and the Robot is a dystopian take on Huckleberry Finn. Lots of fun, this one was!
Monday, October 8, 2012
Though it has received decidedly less notoriety and far fewer accolades, Anonymous is nonetheless for lovers of Shakespeare what Amadeus is for lovers of Mozart. That is to say, its strength lies not in historical or biographical accuracy, but rather in the delightful way that it highlights the wonder and fascination that are evoked by the subject’s body of work.
Utilizing the foundational premise (a rather hotly contested minority position within the academic community) that the historical William Shakespeare did not produce (indeed, could not have produced) the works that have been attributed to his name and that they come to us instead from the pen of his contemporary, Elizabethan courtier Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford, this film layers on a good deal of highly-conjectured though artfully contrived what-if-ing to present one possible (to use the term liberally) scenario that might account for this mother of all literary misattributions. Is the proposed scenario a plausible one? On the whole, hardly—no more so than the assertion that it was Salieri who commissioned Mozart’s Requiem Mass, or that he actually murdered (or at least attempted to murder) his infinitely more talented rival. But let’s remember first of all that Shakespeare himself (whoever he was) took a good deal of historical license in his own plays, for the sake of—shall we call it—“dramatic enhancement”, so why should any cinematic treatment of his life necessarily be judged by a higher standard?
Let me get just a few caveats out of the way at the beginning:
If you’re not freshly read-up on all the movers and shakers of the day, both literary and political—and possibly even if you are—the rather constant flash-back/flash-forward interplay that is the film’s dominant modus operandi will likely prove to be somewhat bewildering.
The Puritans are typically and rather unnecessarily slandered, maligned, and misrepresented. Others have set that record straight quite effectively, so I won’t bother to get into it here. (Although I do have to point out that, ironically, while it would be a stretch to classify the historical Cecils as Puritans, a Puritan connection of some sorts between Shakespeare/de Vere has been proposed.)
The licenses taken with reality occasionally approach the absurd. These would include the presentation of the Tudor Rose as an actual flower (the simultaneously red and white rose is a purely heraldic device), and the idea the Queen Elizabeth’s funeral procession took place on the frozen Thames River. (No doubt the latter was contrived by director Roland Emmerich simply because it would provide opportunity for a few seconds of some way-cool CGI footage. And, admittedly, it does, but he should have saved that for a much-needed screen adaptation of Tim Powers’ Anubis Gates, which I read for the first time just this past summer. After seeing this film I think he might be a really good candidate to pull that off, but I digress…) And then of course, there’s the big whopper of a “revelation” towards the end—the most brazen conjecture of them all in a film packed full of them. I won’t give it away, but let’s just say it will definitely color any subsequent re-viewings.
But those flaws duly noted, the strengths of this film are considerable: There are some really fine performances by just about everyone involved. The sets and costumes are superb. (De Vere's study is a source of fascination in itself.) The footage is generously but tastefully interspersed (in my opinion) with some really beautiful and convincing CGI depictions of Elizabethan London. We are treated to some extraordinary and compelling re-creations of Shakespearean theatre as imagined in the intimacy of its original setting. Several of The Bard’s plays are given this treatment, most prominently Henry V, one of my personal faves, and the presentations are quite stirring.
And this last point leads me to say that, if at any point the film approaches genius, it is in allowing all of the intrigue to serve as a decorative frame for the art itself. It is the plays and poems themselves, as well as the emotions they inevitably conjure up in others—wonder, delight, awe, rapture, jealousy—that assume and retain center stage, leaving all questions as to their authorship to fade silently into the wings. And most importantly, this film provides potent affirmation that art and artistry vastly overshadow politics as long-term molders of human society, the latter fading to mere incidental importance with the passing of time. As this film’s version of Ben Jonson so memorably reminds us:
“My lady, you, your family, even I, even Queen Elizabeth herself will be remembered solely because we had the honor to live whilst your husband put ink to paper.”