You know how cooking shows always seem to have a perfect version of the final cooked dish waiting in the oven? Artists need them sometimes too.
This is my “pie in the oven” for an Autodesk Sketchbook Pro demonstration that I’m giving tomorrow at the Grafisch Lyceum Rotterdam. Even though I’ll be doing a real-time walkthrough of my process for creating a digital illustration in SBP, it always helps to have a version that you know will come out right in the end. This illustration of the 1926 Land Speed Record setting Sunbeam “1000 hp” car took me about 2 hours to complete and uses various techniques that I’ll be able to highlight during my presentation if my “drawing hand” doesn’t show up when I do tomorrow afternoon.
Tricks of the trade aren’t just for celebrity chefs.
After moving to the Netherlands in January, I've decided it's time to go back to work for real. I'll be updating my website with my most recent work, but also throwing in some pics and tidbits about my new life in Leiden. Enjoy.
Ok, so all the cool kids are posting their sketchbook pages these days, so I thought I would too. I've been trying to sketch more regularly to get out of my keyboard and mouse mentality, and although the results have been mixed, I thought I'd start to post them when they go well. Here's the first of several I've done recently and that are awaiting posting.
Done in Moleskine 5 x 8.5 inch sketchbook with Pilot Precise Rollerball.
Car magazine has long been one of my most cherished and revered sources of car news, photographic inspiration and cutting-edge design. Published in the UK, I have been spending my hard-earned cash on the import-priced glossy loveliness for almost 20 years now. Not anymore. Car has gone and done the unthinkable—they've dumbed down the design to blend in, rather than stand out, from the crowd.
Just a few years removed from one of the most stunning and gorgeous magazine redesigns I've ever seen, they've basically reverted to clichéd tacky Euro auto-weekly style. Busy covers, red box around the logo, smaller size, cheaper paper and nasty typography have replaced the lusciously high-end look of the past two years, bringing a tear to my eye. They've even gone and done the same thing to their website, one of the most intricately laid out sites around.
Is it the new depression's fault? Maybe. But the price hasn't gone down with the quality, so I somehow think that if this is a cost-cutting measure it's well on the road to massively backfiring. Will readers forgive and forget? Maybe, but longtime lovers and subscribers like me probably won't, and the last thing a high-end monthly publication needs now is losing subscribers. When you start stating that you the "World's best car magazine" right in the header, it's a sure sign that you're not anymore.
Tim Pollard, the editor of the magazine, has been campaigning hard for the new look, saying that it's simply "in response to reader feedback." Judging by the hundreds of negative comments on the website I'd say they may have asked the wrong readers, and it seems they'll be losing some lifers with the change. Maybe he's ok with that, or maybe it was forced on him by the mag's new owners, but either way, it's a sad day when a design beacon sells its soul for sales. A sign of the times I suppose, but I won't be renewing my subscription.
Bring back the design edge Mr. Pollard, and I'll gladly drop the £65 to re-up my subscription and put Car back on my coffee table where it belongs.
One of my former classmates at Art Center, Karim Habib, just jumped ship from BMW to Mercedes to "oversee" their Advanced Studio in Stuttgart. Karim's a great guy (or was anyway, might be a d-bag after years with Chris Bangle), but it hurts me every time I see someone I was in class with (and better than?) have such success in the car design world. I screwed up bigga time and this punctuates it.
A commendable car blog called The Truth About Cars has asked its readership to submit logo designs for the site. Typically, I would consider this an affront to designers (and maybe it is), but I have a lot of respect for them and what they stand for (completely unbiased and brutally honest auto reviews and news), so, despite my better judgment, I thought I'd throw my hat into the ring and design a little something for them as well. I can use all the publicity I can get for my designs.
Maybe if I win their contest they'll buy my Christmas Cards next year to send out.
I'm going to start this blog up again and see if anyone notices. Doubt it, but then again, yelling into the void helps you release stress just as well as yelling at your wife, without the consequences.
I'll be adding current projects, twits, insights and anything else that comes to mind in shorter, more concise posts.
I've been a beta-testing Autodesk's Sketchbook Pro for years now (since version 2), so I'm really excited to see the new version (2010) is getting released soon. Sketchbook is a lightweight, fast, digital sketching software that I use every day in my workflow. If you've never tried it, you owe it to yourself to download the free trial here.
There's also a great article outlining some of the new features coming out in the 2010 release on Autodesk's AREA. The ellipse and rulers have changed my life.
This is really a great product that not a lot of artists and designers know about, and that's a shame. So check it out. It's cheap, it's great, and you'll never go back to sketching in Photoshop.
...so I might as well say what I'm really thinking, right? I'm changing this blog from a design critique to a more generalized rant about what bugs me – in design and the world in general.
So, first things first. I'm sick of things being done faster, cheaper and "good enough". I got into this business because it seemed like one of the few places where people still strived for perfection, and now I spend my days trying to crank out design like a sweatshop worker. I'm hoping to end that soon.
My goal is to endorse the "slow work" movement (which evidently exists: www.slowplanet.com/design), in the spirit of the slow food movement. The idea being that my work, like cooking, is best left to simmer to achieve its best result. Can I design a logo or a set of icons in an afternoon? Yes. Should I? No, and shame on you for asking. Yes, it will be cheap, but it will also look that way. If you can't tell the difference, then you shouldn't be making the design decisions.
That said, I need to make a living, so I'm going to be going out of my way to find clients who appreciate things done right, clients with attention to detail, clients who care. If you're one of them, and you're looking for someone to create a brandmark, icon or illustration for your next project, drop me an email or a comment and I'd be happy to discuss what you're looking for - maybe over a coffee or lunch?
I've always said that you can tell a lot about a person by the car they drive. Whether you like it or not, even the blandest car makes a statement about who you are and how you live. Very rarely would you be surprised by a slick salesman in a Honda Civic or a hippy in a BMW M3. But these days, gas prices seem to have changed that, forcing rednecks into Geo Metros and Soccer Moms out of their SUV high-horses and into more practical station wagons (gasp!) and reasonable sedans. But is this a permanent change, or a temporary reaction?
I'm not sure, but it occurred to me this morning that Europe has always been a more democratic car buying environment. Small streets, a near total lack of parking, insane taxes on vehicles, lack of credit, and, of course, high fuel prices have meant that for decades Europeans drove what as practical above what was cool. Only showoffs drove BMWs and SUVs. Only rich people drove Porsches. Everybody else, well, they drove what was cheap and local. The French have been buying Peugeot and Renault hatches, the Germans their Golfs and Opels, and the Italians their crappier than thou FIATs for generations. I've seen businessmen in Pandas and well-to-do families piling out of a Renault Scenic and never batted an eye. In the US, it's so rare, that pulling up to a family picnic can be a nerve-racking experience if you feel like you're "under-driving" (what will Aunt Jane think of me driving an old Saab? Will Uncle Mark think I've lost my job when he see the '99 Passat wagon?).
But now it's all changed. I think that these gas prices are likely to stay over $4/gallon, so SUVs will slowly go away in favor of smaller cars permanently. The credit crunch will likely pass though, so as upmarket fuel-efficient cars start filtering in to our protectionist little country (I'm looking at you BMW, where's my efficient dynamics, huh?), will the level playing field tilt again to towards the wealthy? Will my neighbors put away the Civics in favor of Explorers? Is this just another malaise era that creates a generation of little fuel-efficient cars only to be completely forgotten when things get better again?
One way or another, it's going to be interesting. I can't instantly judge people by the car they drive anymore. That's no fun, but probably not a bad thing. I'll be keeping an eye out though. Will the market change to fit the cars, or will the cars change to fit the market? Only the automakers can decide that.