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Saturday
Dec312016

Site Overview

Welcome to my art space. This is a collection of my past and future art and data work. Below are the navigation links to parts of the site.

Market Place on the top bar contains design and art material I currently have for sale, mostly at CafePress.

Star Trek Items in the Market Place containing the tag. These items are at CafePress.

Resume link on the top bar is my current resume.

About contains additional information not included in the Resume link.

Projects The sidebar includes work in various genres of data and graphic design.

Posts in this space pertain to art, design, and creativity.

Sunday
May222016

Faux Mayan Alphabet

Things worked out and the recipient of my art did indeed show up. So I am able to reveal more of the art than I though. The piece still needs the finishing work done. The time constraints plus other work factors (billable ones) pushed this to the back. Those other projects are now complete and I can focus on getting this art piece done.

Here is my Mayan piece, four pages done in the style of the Dresden Codex. It is written in a Faux Mayan Script which I developed to give the look and feel of written Mayan but be readable by English speakers. As with Mayan, the letterforms are fluid and can be written in a variety of different forms but all recognizable as their English equivalents. Most are easy to spot, others may take a little more work to decipher. Since this is an art piece, and not a typographic piece, occasionally that line gets slightly fuzzy.

Page One: is explanatory introduction text of who Durr is.

Page Two: The Pennsic Table giving the results of the battles for the past 50 years

Page Three: shows various jobs and accreditations by Durr.

Page Four: the time, place it was given and by whom.

Thoughts on Future Pieces Like This

I am now moving this design process for the Mayan alphabet to the computer where I will have better control over the lines and letterforms. I've worked with paint and ink for years but understand the constraints I face with my eyesight and arthritis. So I will be changing my paint and calligraphy toolset to one I can better work with. The sense of creativity will remain, only how I accomplish my art will change.

Thursday
May192016

Unfortunate Timing

I had an art piece that was going to be presented this Saturday on May 21st. That is until they found out the recipient was not going to be attending. It sort of let all the air out of the balloon when after busting my butt to finish the piece on time I'm told three days before the event they have to delay it. I understand the circumstances are unavoidable but that does decrease the disappointment. I'm not sure if I will be able to attend the event where it will be given.

Development Phase

It's been an interesting experience developing this writing system. I have a passion for developing English in other language styles. Trying to capture the essence of the glyph style lettering while maintaining readablility for English speakers was one of the more difficult challenges I've taken. The balance is always tenuous between creativity and readability. Lean toward the more creative side and you end up with something that looks authentic but is difficult to read. Go practical and you come away with a script that is readable but doesn't look real. This is the end product of two decades of causal work and four months of intense scrutiny. It went through many phases along the way.

Nearly Finished Page 3

Here are two images from the unfinished Page 3 taken with my old iPhone 4 (less than adequate) camera. Can't believe how much camera technology has improved since I bought this camera.

I needed to blur out one glyph as it's still a work in progress.

Script Thoughts

At first I developed a more pictographic style incorporating material from various image sources including sign language and rebus. This gave the script a real overall look and feel of Mayan but reduced the readability. On occasions, I couldn't read it a week later. That's definitely not a good sign. Change was apparently needed.

After some advice from a fellow artist I reined in the full-on creative aspect and worked toward a more usable script. I took out the obscure glyphs and replaced them with letterforms. It began to move toward readability but I was able to maintain the environment of the language. As time went on my glyph structure improved and using the Mayan decorative bits the letters didn't stand out quite as much.

Are there still some areas which people might have trouble reading? Yes. The script is still in development and I will be making tweaks and changes as I find solutions to those problems.

Where's It Going?

This project is moving toward production phase now. I'm putting all the work into Illustrator in order to create these glyphs quickly. A set of figures are also being developed. Work no progresses on the exact situation it will be used in.

Monday
May092016

Art Is Work-And Then Some

Art is Work. It's something I keep in mind when I'm working. But something else is now trying to edge that saying out of the forefront. Social Media is even more work.

I know that this social media thing needs an investment of time. It's the way the world works. If you don't post, you don't get noticed. I began to investigate what was necessary to obtain this skill. I found it necessary to obtain a new set of skills, learn some new programs, and then spend more time than I have keeping everything up to date.

When I was doing art for myself, I spend all my time doing the art. When I finished a project, I posted it on my accounts and that was it. Done, finished, out of mind. Well that's a thing of the past.

I also notice a shift in the projects I'm looking to start. When I did them for myself only, I took up projects which could be several months in the making. It didn't really matter as there was no deadline and no monetary consideration. But lately I'm finding things I want to do that can be done quicker. Taking four months on one project is definitely a luxury.

Fortunately many of the short projects can still give me the satisfaction those giant data charts did. And I will be able to finish more of them in the same time. This might be a good thing, right?

For the past two weeks I have been researching (to the detriment of doing my art) how to promote that same art. I'm setting up schedules to promote that art on various social media at the best times, multiple times per day and multiple times per week. I have to develop other posts which are not related to my art but are still in the same ballpark. You can't just promote your art alone, people will get tired of the same old song.

So after two weeks, I realize that this will be two full time jobs. This is somewhat doable currently as I do not have a regular job. But when I do pick up a writing gig, I have no clue where the time for doing the social media promotion will come from let alone doing the actual art.

I know this is the same problem that has plagued artist through out the ages. It's one of the reasons I did my art mainly for myself. But I find myself needing to get something together with my art and that means having to settle down and do the deed. I must learn this social media thing.

It's like what happened to graphic design. In the 90s, a graphic designer was responsible for the design aspect of the product and the printing. That's what I learned in school. But as the 90s turned into the 00s, the face of the landscape changed. Graphic designers were expected to go learn programming, usually on their own. It became necessary to know how to code the front end of a web site to be a designer. And later, it also became necessary to know how to code the backend also. Graphic Design has seen its largest change in necessary skills which have left many skilled people behind.

Tuesday
May032016

Duty Roster Thoughts

Collecting data for the Star Trek Duty Roster poster taught me valuable lessons I vow never to repeat with future projects.

The chart was to be the prominent tropes of Star Trek taken from tvtropes.org. It's a great site and an evil rabbit hole to get lost in. Many tropes are cut-and-dried like the number of times Spock said interesting or fascinating or counting the number of times the phasers were fired and the color of the beam. Those things were easy to gather. They are objective data. The problem arose with the subjective tropes. Subjective is defined as "based on or influenced by personal feelings, tastes, or opinions." It makes for interesting discussions but has no place in data collection. An example of a subject trope is how many women did Kirk have sex with? Exploring this subject led me to many Star Trek forums containing many discussions and never did I find a set answer.

On one episode page I could find an event described as trope A. On a different episode page I could find that same situation described as trope B. On a third episode page, that situation isn't mentioned at all. It was like a crazy dog chasing its tail. I couldn't nail down the information. I finally conceded it was a fool's errand and the data set would never come to fruition.

When I had been working on this for over a month with no end in sight, I realized there's no end to this project. I needed to find a new direction. I didn't want all that work to go to waste so I salvaged what I could by filtering the objective data only. One of most notable sets of data was crew position. That sounded like a good direction.

I took another run through the episodes looking for people performing each job. Much easier than trying to observe every trope they might have been doing. My 20-20 hindsight wishes I had thought of this months ago.

I figured I was going to use the spoke-and-wheel style again. It works well for episodic TV. The problem I ran into with Star Trek that I didn't with Buffy was the number of unique icons I needed. It became a struggle with too much/too little information. I eventually settled on giving the regular cast, the regular extras, and the main guest crew unique icons with everyone else getting a plain colored circle.

I decided to include information regard the uniforms (ripped shirts and shirtless scenes) and odd-job performed by the crew (bridge waitress, bartender, and fire brigade). To round it out I complied a list of the crew who went the the Navigator's revolving chair. There certainly were a lot of people in that position.

There was the usual fighting with Illustrator as there always is. It does a fine job but it's just so finicky. But on each project I usually end up learning another technique that I need.

When the first print arrived at the house I found another problem. Some of the radials I was using to information were too small. I couldn't tell from the computer screen but it was verified on the printout. There were quite a few changes and I needed help. I sent a copy to Jürgen in Germany and we worked on it for a week tweaking both the icons and ways to denote information.

After we finished I did another proofread and sent it along. As I said, I've learned my lesson about working with subjective data. Never again...