Thursday, October 27, 2011

Pictures & Doodles From Pivot

As promised, here are my doodles and pictures from the AIGA Pivot conference. It would be more accurate to say they were just from the trip to Arizona, because I seem to have put away the camera after I finished the studio tour.

I left for Arizona on Wednesday, October 12th. Had great flights with short connections in the morning. The aisle seat is best for sketching because if you're short like me you can actually see something other than the seat back immediately in front of your nose.

Wednesday afternoon I was footloose and fancy free. My smartphone clued me into nearby restaurants, and I wound up at Famous Sam's sports bar. No curbside appeal whatsoever...passing by the place, I would have just kept on walking/driving/cycling, but the food was very yummy. I could only make it through half of the turkey wrap and sweet potato fries.

Bloated and swollen from lunch, I retired to the poolside at my uncle's house...

And sent the above picture to a couple of friends back home with a note reading something to the effect of "wish you were here?" I'm's no secret.

Uncle Ray treated me to a delicious steak dinner that night as an early birthday treat...thanks again Uncle Ray!

The first day of the conference registration opened at 9 am, and I was there right on time. I passed out my ATCs and had a wonderful conversation that I wish could have continued for another hour or two. Around 11 I had to excuse myself to check in for the Downtown Studio Tour.

The tour was initially going to take us to four studios, but another was added at the very beginning of the tour. Our first stop was at MM Identity Lab where they served us a lovely lunch. They had some of there work on display, but the real focus of the stop was the refurbished warehouse in which they were located. It is one of many throughout the Phoenix area reclaimed and repurposed by Michael Levine.

A few photos of the 605 E. Grant Street building:

Mike Levine telling us a little bit about the warehouse.

Next stop on the tour was P.S. Studios. Again, their work was on display for us (it was a treat to have a look at their work up close), but the main story was the building they occupied. The building was built by an architect as their own office, and much of it was still intact...desks, shelving...just about everything. Ecologically appropriate for Phoenix, most of the building was below ground level, but the interior atmosphere was anything but cavelike because of the windows from ground level up all the way around the building. Sorry no photos of my own to share, but if you go to their "About Us" page, they have a link to a slideshow about their office and the architect, Al Beadle. They did have a nice little surprise for us...a gift bag with a small toy. As a holiday treat for their clients they send out little toys each year. They gave me the bird...

Next Stop on the tour was After Hours Creative where Russ gave us a tour.

Russ on the far left in their main work space.
After Hours' space includes a gallery, an upstairs office space for a small architecture firm, and an apartment on the very top floor.

Next stop was Kitchen Sink Studios, and they had the most appropriate artwork in their courtyard.

We had a tour of their space (led in part by a golden retriever), and saw a video overview of their work.

Obviously, there was a lot more to this tour than I am describing here...I was pleasantly overloaded by the work of these companies, and impressed by the versatility of their creative office spaces.

Our last stop was at Moses Anshell—the only ad agency on the tour. Craig Hedges, VP and Creative Director, gave us a tour of the place, and he'd put together a video presentation of some of his favorite projects.

One project on display was the work they'd done for Girl Rock Nation:

It was a nice illustration of the design process...many work-ups in a variety of styles. The one in the center with the pink logo was the identity chosen.

A few more doodles in my Moleskine from the conference. Most of my notes were taken in the Moleskine App for the iPad, these scribbles were just to kill a little time between Affinity and General Sessions and see if I could recall just some of the ideas buzzing around.

Collier Center doodled while eating lunch at Kazim's. 
What I hoped to achieve at the conference (finding new tools/ideas/methods/the "next big thing" to improve my day-to-day work) did not really come to pass (with the notable exception of Muse). The ideas being bantered about were loftier. They were inspirational, but they don't translate well (and by "well" I mean "immediately and obviously") into the work I'm doing and the clients with whom I work. The main message of the conference was to encourage designers to step away from "making pretty things" and focus on designing experiences.

There was a strong emphasis on systems thinking, as well, and that was nice to hear. It is impossible to design for the seventh generation (too many variables in play). But it is possible to design with a conscious mind toward the immediate ramifications, and make day-to-day decisions that will accumulatively have less of an impact down the road.

These ideas are stuck in my head, and as I keep forging ahead from one day to the next, I may find ways to implement some of what I saw. If I hadn't gone to the conference and been exposed to all these wonderful people and their incredible work, I wouldn't have those lofty ideas in my bag o' tricks.

I got to do a lot of good people watching (a favorite pastime). Designers come in many styles, but there is a certain look prevalent among the menfolk...spiky hair, longer sideburns, 5 o'clock shadow, and rectangular frame glasses.

Too bad I can't spell...

Thanks to the Twitter feed in the Pivot App, I was able to nab one of the limited edition "Perfect Pair" card decks when 10 of them were put up for grabs at the O'Neil Printing booth. The decks were a collaborative effort between O'Neil Printing, R29, Just for Kicks, and Neenah Paper.

See!?!? "Male Designer de Rigueur" is featured in the deck!!! I bet he's got spiky hair under that hat!

On the last day, I camped out for a while in the "living room"...these wonderful chairs (made of reclaimed materials) were sprinkled hither and yon inviting attendees to kick back for a bit.

It was a great trip overall!

Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Back From Pivot...Ideas Still Buzzing in My Head

Just getting back into the day-to-day routine after a great trip to Arizona for Pivot. My head is still buzzing from all of the great presentations and conversations!

All of the ATC packets were handed out on day one when registration was in full swing. I decided I didn't want to wander around with a bag for three days, and I just doled them out instead. Congratulations to Chelsea E. who pulled 11 of 98 out of the bag!

Pictures and a few sketches to come later.

Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, October 07, 2011

ATCs Completed and Ready!

98 of 98 is finished!

I mentioned that 11 of 98 would have a special something packaged with it...and here it is...a $15 gift card for Starbucks! All of the other packs will have a 1x1" button, an ATC, a Moo card with any one of 6 possible sketches, and my CRM business card, all wrapped up in recycled craft paper.

The packs have been tossed in a box and mixed up, so it will be the luck of the draw.

There they are—all sealed up and ready to go. ATCs 1-80 are in packs, and the rest are available individually (I only had so many of those fun stickers printed up). I'll have some spare buttons available as well.

I'll be wandering around with these in a clear bag, so I should be easy to spot. I can't wait to meet you/see you again at Pivot!

Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, September 30, 2011

The Making of ATC 11 of 98

In a couple of weeks, I'll be attending the AIGA Pivot conference in Phoenix. I'm very excited about this event, and so I've gone completely off the deep end. I'm putting together a little self-promo packet.

One of the items in the packet will be an Artist's Trading Card. As of this moment I have completed 33 of 98. Why 98 you ask, and not...say...100? Find me at the conference and ask me, or come back after October 18th and I'll answer that question. Boy, that's a whole bunch of hype for something that ultimately doesn't deserve it. Still, you have to wait.

The text design took place over a glass of wine on Tuesday (yep, the Sunday paper sits around my house for a full week...sometimes being read, sometimes used as a coaster, and sometimes used as scrap paper. This particular piece of paper might be used as kindling for the fireplace this evening...that has yet to be determined). You can see the ultimate winner circled towards the upper right...there were a loooot of fugly starts.

The top card in the completed stack above is 10 of 98. And now for the creation of 11 of 98:

The pencil sketch. Pencil first because sometimes it flows and sometimes I can't draw a straight line to save my soul. I'm not bothering to erase the pencil on the completed ATCs...for a feeling of authenticity. Somewhere around card 20 I stopped using the prototype card as a reference, and now I'm drawing from memory...unusual for me.

A fine Sharpie for the main lines.

Micron for the fine details. Should be noted that around card 25, I switched to an Extra Fine Pilot with the roller ball...I squash my Micron tips :-(

First bit of depth added with Tombo N55.

Finishing up with the Tombo N75.

And a quick flip to number 11 of 98.

As I was typing up this post, my friendly neighborhood UPS man dropped off another element. Suuuweeeet! My logo stickers:

Stay tuned for more information about 11 of 98, and for coverage of some other elements that will be included in these fun little packets!

Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, August 26, 2011

A Wee Hummingbird

That doesn't look at all like itself...

In case your can't read my atrocious by Sandra Calderbank

Sketched it last weekend and just getting around to posting it now...for shame.

Thanks for stopping by!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Busy Weekend and It's Only Saturday

Last night was my first night at Ravinia this season. There was a concert in the Martin Theater, but they pipe the music out onto the lawn. There was a pretty good size lawn audience last night. The joint used to be a carnival of sorts, and this carousel horse used to be a prat of an actual carousel on the property. Terrible, music, darkness descending conspired against me...that's my story and I'm stickin' to it.

After a late night at Ravinia, I got up early this morning to snarf some breakfast and let it settle before I rode up to Racine's Mound Cemetery to meet a wonderfully creative group of folks for Write & Sketchcrawl. This particular monument was made out of wood! I'd never seen the like. Along the top, your Frederick Acznos' headtrunk reads, "Erected by the Woodmen of the World."

The scan was going to include a corner of my mileage log, so I decided to let you enjoy the full story...lucky you! Ha!

Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, June 24, 2011

An Unfinished Expression

Been a while since I started this one, but I remember setting it aside because my rendering was making this chimp look belligerent. I sat down with the sketch a second time, and redid the mouth and it wasn't as bad, but the magic was gone. Determined not to be a quitter, I sat down with it once more and ended up just coloring in the mouth...not only was the magic gone, a sliver of my brain started chasing it down the street. I hope they're happy wherever they are, and that someday they come back to me.

Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Scribbles From a While Ago

This is Clover's paw...scribbled a week ago? Maybe longer...maybe not as long ago as that. Time is funny over the summer because work is so busy, and there's so much to squeeze into the free hours that I completely loose track of when I do/did what. Of course, I'm just filling in random blank Moleskine pages, so the datebook is no help at all...doh!

Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, May 27, 2011

All About Clover...and Gimli

A post for those who have been asking about the critters...

Sitting with my Moleskine open on my lap, I was trying to figure out what to draw, and Clover dumped Santa in my lap. I believe she had other intentions than that I pick up a pencil and start sketching her toy. She allowed me to get the basic shape of its head, arms, and body and then she was having no more of my foolishness. She stole it back again in a puppy huff. She tried to take my pencil too, but I was having none of that. 
This would be an infinitely better photo of Clover if my shadow wasn't looming over her.

Sleepy in the sunshine after a round of fetch.

Meanwhile...Gimli was in his favorite spot by the pond, eyeing every bird in the vicinity.

Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Red-Crowned Crane Reduced to Ballpoint

Sat out in the backyard a bit last Saturday and sketched this in pen...only did the easy part...lazy, lazy, lazy.

Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Weekend Sketchin'

Haven't been sketching much lately...lots of work, and more cycling and gardening in my free time. Plus, there's been a furry addition to my household. Meet Clover...

Not a moment's peace, I tell you, not a moment. But she's very sweet, so it's worth it.

Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Faith in Politic(ian)s Rebalanced

It's easy [for me] to get jaded about the state of might have picked up on some of that from a recent post. Then there comes along a reminder of the hard work some politicians [and diplomats] are doing, and more importantly, doing well. It gives me hope that there are far more deliberate, open, understanding and generally level-headed public figures at work in the world than there are the other kind...ahem.

The link below arrived in my email via my grandmother because this particular ambassador is related through marriage, so there is, admittedly, a bit of familial pride in this post. There is also a large dose of national pride that my country can still recognize a great ambassador when it sees one.

"America's Outspoken Ambassador", an interview with U.S. Ambassador to Estonia Michael C. Polt by Scott Diel, ERR News, Estonian Public Broadcasting.

"United States Ambassador to Estonia Michael C. Polt has developed a reputation as a diplomat who doesn't shy away from good discussion. ERR News spoke with the ambassador about Wikileaks, recent Tallinn city government events, as well as the American view of Russia."

Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, March 07, 2011

The Elusive Two-Headed San Joaquin Kit Fox

The above photo can be seen in its entirety on Smithsonian Magazine's website, and the photo by B. Moose Peterson/ARDEA was actually flipped horizontally for use in the March 2011 print issue of the magazine.

Had I known this, I would have called up the electronic copy earlier to do the sketch. As it was, I struggled through my first ever reflective sketch.

Had you known that you were not actually going to see a two-headed San Joaquin kit fox, you might not have visited.

Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, March 03, 2011


A few moments of sketchiness at the end of the day were inspired by a Kermode bear.

"The Kermode bear, or spirit bear, is a native to the temperate rainforests along British Columbia's Pacific coast. This rare bear is not an albino (its nose, eyes, lips and paw pads are colored) but rather a black bear with a recessive [dizzy blond] gene that causes snow-white or cream-colored [dirty blond] fur. This genetic quirk means that a Kermode mother can give birth to black offspring." How do I know? The "Flora & Fauna" article written (and slightly embellished above for my personal amusement) by Jennifer Winger for Nature Conservancy magazine, Spring 2011, told me so.

I'm a little bummed that the spell checker doesn't recognize the spelling, and by inference validity, of the word "rainforests." Have rainforests become so endangered that we've begun to wipe the word from our dictionaries in anticipation of their extinction!?!? Doh!

Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Wisconsin in Upheaval

What is happening in the state of Wisconsin today is more than the usual budget debate. In case you haven't heard, our Democratic Senators have LEFT WISCONSIN in order to avoid being compelled by the STATE POLICE to appear in the capitol for the vote today, and the reason behind their collective decision needs to be understood by democrats and republicans alike.

Those of you who know me well, know I am not a political person. What I'm seeing in Wisconsin at the moment, however, compels me to speak out because the stakes are high and the repercussions could be felt nationally. The media is not covering the issue with as much depth as they should—it isn't headlining properly since it's being minimize to just another budget protest. The video above is eye is long, so I apologize for that. It does take the in-depth look at what is behind the upheaval in Wisconsin today.

Now, I am often skeptical about the media as well, so I don't give Rachel Maddow my complete blind faith either, but her evidence is compelling, and the collective actions of the people (via multiple state-wide protests) and, mostly, the senators (via their exodus from the state) lend credence to her argument. This is what compels me to share this video.

Argument and opposition are at risk here, and make no mistake, argument and opposition are the ultimate checks and balances in our government...a thinking government where voices are heard. Recently argument and opposition have been vilified because they have fallen to the depths of depravity reflected by personal violence. It is up to us, democrats and republicans alike, to pick up argument, opposition, discourse and debate from the gutter of our own extremism, and meet each other in civility. That is what is at stake in Wisconsin today.

I call you to action simply to be informed, so you can join in the that we can continue to have the two-party system that makes our nation great because it causes us to be deliberate and not rash or blind in our actions.

Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Weekend Sketching Outside in February

We're having a few days of warmth in Wisconsin, and I spent as much time outside yesterday as I could. There was some snow shifting to accomplish since I don't want it melting into my basement. The payoff was being able to sit out in the back yard for a while enjoying the sunshine.

The piles of snow are still pretty high, so the view above was partially obstructed. This sketch represents about a half hour of outdoor enjoyment. Ultimately, I was outside for a few hours futzing with this and that just to take advantage of the break. I know we still have quite a bit of winter ahead of us, but this was a wonderful, much-needed respite from the cold.

Happy Valentine's Day, and thanks for stopping by!

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Weekend Sketching

My sketch is a 63% reduction of a Ted Wood photo that appeared in the February 2011 issue of Smithsonian Magazine.

Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, February 03, 2011

The Blizzard of '11

The snow was up to my back door...had to shove my way out. You can still see some traces of snow on the door. For perspective, that fence is a 7 footer. The snow right up against it on the left drifted that way. The snow just in front of the stairs also drifted that needs to be moved to the ginormous pile on the right, so it doesn't melt right up against the foundation.

Along the back of the house looking the other direction.

Looking back the length of my back yard from the house. That little forsythia bush in the middle is about 3 feet high...why couldn't all the snow drift there in the middle of the yard!?!?!?  :-D

Looking out from the top of the front steps.

Along the driveway...the snow drifted up against the red brick chimney is probably about 6 feet high.

My snowy but snug home sweet home.

Thanks for stopping by!