Monday, March 21, 2011

Signs of the Times

These difficult economic times certainly call for…well, economy. People (yours truly included) make do with less and find creative ways of cutting corners. More power to us all. Be that as it may, I’ve seen some rather striking examples recently of this sort of thing played out in some local establishments’ efforts to re-brand themselves—efforts which push the whole phenomenon almost to the point of a kind of graphical cannibalism. High scores are certainly in order for their creative bids to save a few dollars on signage, though the jury is still out I suppose on their effectiveness from a marketing standpoint.

Yes, brick and mortar video rental chains are fast going the way of the miller, the cooper and the blacksmith, but I think we’re still pretty far away from being able to offer a new hairdo via web streaming. So who knows, this Bride of Frankenstein-esque re-appropriation of the Hollywood Video brand might actually stick around longer than the original incarnation. Lucky us.

This used to be a little t-shirt shop called T-MAX. Now it’s home to—of course! Just a little switcheroo to the sign and, Voila!—a bookkeeping/income tax preparation service that has a decidedly laid-back and casual vibe going. (Not sure that’s exactly the kind of mojo I want working on my own 1040. I personally prefer my accountants to wear shirts with collars—and ties, pocket protectors and thick glasses in addition would’t exactly do anything to sink my confidence level either, but maybe my own personal preference in this regard is a bit off the ol’ bell curve.)

Friday, March 18, 2011

HCSBSB: New Testament Jerusalem

And so we come at last to the mother of them all. This illustration of Jerusalem as it would have appeared in the first century A.D. was the last one which I completed for the HCSB Study Bible, and it was also the most technically challenging. This was due to the sheer amount of detail, exacerbated by the large size required for the final since this illustration would be doing double duty: a close-up, detailed view of the entire temple complex and surrounding areas would be shown on the same spread which features the two views of Herod’s Temple which I have detailed here previously, and another spread would feature the complete illustration of the entire city.

I proposed two possible views during the sketching phase. One view was from the same angle (southeast) that all of the other, Old Testament views of Jerusalem had employed.

This had the advantage of continuity, but I really felt that a view looking over the Mount of Olives from the east would be more dramatic and would better display the more interesting parts of the city, especially the temple complex.

In either case, I wanted to position things carefully so that (for the complete view) nothing of crucial interest would get lost in the gutter, which is always a concern when working across a full spread, especially in a book which has a large number of pages. Ultimately the second view won out, and then began the process, which progressed in fits in starts over several months, of executing a detailed sketch at full size (19" x 24").

Once this was approved, I backed the sketch up to a piece of bristol board and rendered the final using a technical pen, with the aid of a lightbox. (I couldn’t bear the thought of actually transferring the sketch directly to the board, which essentially would have meant having to draw every detail not twice but three times!) At this point point the deadline was drawing near and I spent several days on end at the drawing table. There were oh so many individual buildings and houses! My drawing hand was pretty sore by the time it was finished, and I had a distinctive callous on the last knuckle of my middle finger, where the pen rested—but it was all worth it!

Here is a final, detailed view—and with this my posts on this particularly, big, exciting and rewarding project come to an end. Many thanks to those of you who have eagerly followed these posts over the course of the past few months. Please continue to check back in on a weekly basis or so; I plan to keep posting regularly on other projects and other topics that will merit your interest and attention!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Bessie Gotto's 90th Birthday

A special lady who is very dear to my heart turns 90 years old today: my maternal grandmother, Bessie Lee (Gray) Gotto.

My siblings and I orchestrated a big birthday celebration for her this past weekend as well as a surprise gift, both of which called for some custom design work by yours truly. First the invite to the party:

My Granny has written a handful of verses over the years, until recently recorded only by her own hand in various notebooks which she kept. As a birthday surprise, we decided to have them “published” and presented to her in a book-length format. I created a custom-designed photo book—hard bound with a dust jacket—which features one of her poems on each right-hand page, complemented by photos of her, my late grandfather, and other family members on each of the facing pages.

As expected, the book was a big hit not only with her, but also with many extended family members and friends who attended the party and were able to view some sample copies that were on hand. Orders for several more copies were placed at the gathering, beyond the initial set which was ordered for my Granny and for the immediate family. A pdf of the entire book (minus the back cover and dust jacket flaps) is available for download here.

As a final tribute to my Granny on this day, I will close with the following bio, taken from the inside flap of the book’s dust jacket:

Bessie Lee Gray was born March 8, 1921, in Davidson County, Tennessee, to Alex Turner Gray and Annie Elizabeth Hulan. Her parents, both having survived their previous spouses, brought a total of seven children into the new marriage, thus making Bessie, the only offspring of their union, the eighth child of the household and the baby of their blended family. Her mother died in 1936, just a month after Bessie’s fifteenth birthday. On February 28, 1938—just a few days shy of seventeen—Bessie married Clarence Gotto. Together they had one surviving daughter, Cheryl Janice. The couple spent most of their years together living in Nashville, Tennessee, until Clarence passed away in the summer of 1976. The sadness of her husband’s relatively early death tinges much of the poetry in this collection. But, despite this tragic loss, Bessie is recognized by all who know her decades later as a lively personality and an uncommonly quick wit—one who enjoys nothing more than a good time, spent with loved ones, and filled with smiles, laughter and fun. She continues to live out her remaining years in the company of her daughter and her family, which includes five grandchildren and (as of this writing) ten great-grandchildren.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Steve Jobs on Soulful Technology

Technology alone is not enough. Technology married with liberal arts, humanities, yields the result that makes our hearts sing.

—Steve Jobs, at yesterday’s iPad 2 unveiling

I don’t (yet) own an iPad, nor an iPhone. In fact, I personally have never even owned an iPod. (There has been, since Christmas, an iPod Touch floating around our household somewhere, but I “touch” it only rarely.) But I’ve used Apple’s computers day-in-day-out for almost two decades now, and I believe Steve Jobs’ grasp of and commitment to the above principal is the number one reason behind the company’s phenomenal success and zealous customer loyalty.