Wednesday, September 29, 2010

PDX Redux

On our recent stealth mission to Portland we took a little stroll after a really big breakfast. I finally got to snap a few photos of some of my favorite neon signs in downtown P-town. Should the Portland Outdoor Store ever go out of business, I want that sign. I would so put that on the end of my house. Wouldn't my neighbors love me?

This sign for rugs is awesome. I love the R. 

This one is pretty sweet too - all rusty and worn out. I want a neon sign for our house - bad. Portland, Portland, Portland. You're all kinds of wonderful. I'm already making my list of things to do next time we go. Yes, many are food related - I'm food motivated, ok?

Eat a biscuit sandwich at Pine State Biscuits
Eat a waffle from any one of these places
Buy something swanky from Canoe
Consider taking the train instead of driving
Stay longer. 

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Tips of the trade

Happy House Family Tree - $35 at my etsy shop
Over the past year or more I've been collecting articles in my bookmarks with great tips on blogging and marketing online craft businesses. Recently I was printing them out to put in my business binder (a binder I keep and look at when I am feeling like I don't know what the h-e-double-hockey-sticks I am doing). I was struck with the idea that I shouldn't keep them all to myself! I've found some great info over the years that might be helpful to you as well. Here are my top 5 for this week:
In other news, Last week I got a great email from the ladies over at that my Happy House Family Tree (above) was featured as one of their "Top 5 Most Unique Family Trees". Thank you so much, Babble! I am in good company over there too - the other 4 family trees are beautiful. Check out the article here.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Separate Ways


On the weekend I said goodbye to my studio space. After many months of number crunching and reasoning, we decided to go our separate ways.

Endings can be hard for me, so I try hard to think of them as an opportunity for new beginnings. I'm a big-time believer in all that 'one door closes and another one opens' kind of stuff. As I packed the few belongings I'd brought to my studio I was reminded of packing up my desk on my last day of work before my kiddo was born. That was such a poignant end, and simultaneous beginning of a new life for me.

Working from home again will be pretty good - I have really missed having my desk and comfy chair at home. Another bonus? My office mate. He's totally hot, smart, and all mine. Also - having a bathroom that doesn't require a key, access to tea and coffee (and lets face it - snacks) whenever I want, and being surrounded by all the things that inspire me without having to lug it / them up and down 4 flights of stairs.

The work at home life will also throw the challenges I have always faced as a self employed someone right up in my grill. Taking my work time seriously for one. At the studio there were almost zero distractions. No phone, no laundry, no interruptions. At home - well, you know. There is always something else you could be doing. Luckily I know this trap and can plan ahead.

"Show up at the page, the rest will come" is going to be my mantra for the months ahead. Showing up even when I don't feel like it. Showing up even when there are a billion loads of laundry that need to be done. Showing up even when I just have an hour. Showing up even though I sometimes question the importance of this work I love to do. And I'll be keeping my eye on the bigger prize - amassing more work and building a little studio space in our yard next spring. I look forward to dusting off my drafting books from high school and getting to work on that plan in the next month or so. I'll keep you all posted. 

And yeah, that video at the top pf this post? Genius! This thing cracks me up. I'm a sucker for horrible wigs, fake mustaches, air guitar and of course Journey. Who are these guys? I love how they included the picture in picture of the original. After watching their homespun masterpiece, you might want compare it to a larger size original - you can do so here. They totally did their homework.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Sunset Boulevard: Poster Process

Yay! I survived the hellish cold that took over our household since I last surfaced here in the blogoshpere. We survived 11 housebound days, and rewarded ourselves by traveling to Portland to attend the opening night of Sunset Boulevard at Portland Center Stage. The poster for Sunset Boulevard kicked off my summer of theater poster madness - 4 posters in about three months, on about 10 hours of working time/week. It was a lot of work to cram in, but it all worked out. It was awesome to see the poster image in all of its iterations - from banners on the street to the program, and hanging in the beautiful lobby (above). 

I thought I'd give you a peek into my process for making this poster. This one was tough, I'm not going to lie. There were so many revisions of this thing at times I thought I was going nutters, much like the musical's main character Norma Desmond:

So, first things first - reading the script. I love this part of the job. This time while I read I listened to the Broadway soundtrack as well, which really helped set the tone. After that I made an inspiration board - in this case a digital collage of images that portrayed the tone I wanted my image to have, along with some images I needed for reference (sunglasses, palm trees, etc).

Then it was time to bust out the pencils.

I've never been capable of producing tight, perfect thumbnails. Many of my ideas start out as really rough and random sketches - just trying to get an idea out of my head and on paper. Then I refine the super rough sketches into larger drawings. My first concept was to show Norma's ego overwhelming the reality of her faded fame. I illustrated this by using Norma's Isotta-Fraschini buried by the script she has written to stage her 'return' to film.  


My art director, the fabulous Michael Buchino thought it was also important to show a version of Norma, to show her face. So we decided to do a massive script with Norma looming above it. For this I did a lot of facial sketches, in pencil and later with sumi ink to loosen things up a bit.


After that round, the car and script idea were nixed and we decided to just focus on her face, and that famous line that comes at the end of the story "...All right, Mr. DeMille, I'm ready for my close-up". So, more pencil sketches until I found a composition that worked.


Then it was time to take it to the computer. First I started laying out the basic shapes in Adobe Illustrator. Her large, round sunglasses set off by a smaller mouth to make her look larger than life and very much "in your face". This image was reworked and tweaked, and texture was layered in until everyone was happy with the outcome. The sunglasses changed shape to be more cat-eye like, and then we played with the placement of the title. Then we were done.


Or so we thought. A week or so after I turned over the final files, a phone call came - sadly, and quite suddenly the poster was rejected in its final form. I'd never had this happen to me before - finishing a project and then having to re-do it after I thought it was done. Lucky for me again, the people at PCS were awesome and talked me through my shock. They honored my 'kill fee' and we went back to the drawing board. They needed to poster to feel more glamorous while still conveying the danger and madness in the story.

Since we talked through the new concept, and reused a few parts from the original I didn't have to do many thumbnails, just one or two. Then, back to the computer until we finally came to this:

And then we were really done. So, there you have it. The process behind the Sunset Boulevard poster! It was a super fun job - even with the revisions. It was a great learning experience for me too. At the same time, I was super happy to see this thing printed and living its own life, and I was very ready to celebrate it with a nice drink on opening night.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

sick day

Just stopping by to say hi. Now the "big people" in our house are all sick (myself included) so not much to share. I'll be back as soon as I can keep my head off the pillow for more than an hour or two. 

In the meantime, here's a sneak peek at a longer post I have in the works. 

Kleenex time. I'm out.


Thursday, September 2, 2010

House Arrest

Sorry folks. Got a sick kiddo at home, which means posting is taking a back seat. We've been home for 2 days now. Hello cabin fever!

Instead here is a photo from a trip to an antique mall earlier in the summer. I love this mannequin head! 

Until I find my head again, hang in there with me.