Tuesday, October 27, 2009

but i despise tests.

last night i took my first graphic design test. 10 true/false, 5 short answer (in which you identify the principles of graphic design depicted in 5 works of commercial art).

although 70% looks substantial when you're talking about presidential approval or the amount of folic acid in breakfast cereal, it basically sucks when it comes to tests. that's what i got in the true/false section. i can't stand the true/false method of measuring what you know. why? because NOTHING IS ABSOLUTE. i learned that in basic undergraduate philosophy. true/false assumes that everything is black + white. a better way to word a true/false section is "indicate whether you think the following statement is generally true or generally false. give reasons/evidence for your answers, along with possible exceptions." you would think that, in art, a field in which innovation is imperative and an exception to the rule can result in a masterpiece, instructors would realize how restrictive true/false is.

i propose that the current test questions, which are way too simplified by using the restrictive true/false method, be replaced with critical thinking exercises that require the student to give examples, reasons, and justifications for their answers, based on what they've learned in class so far. it's a great disservice to restrict the reasoning of beginning artists, commercial or otherwise, by limiting answers to two options: true or false.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

i heart gary taxali!

in keeping with the real me (who's doing what she wants, not what she "should do"), i've decided to follow the illustration track of parkland's graphic design program. because, well, why the hell not?

through the years, i've admired several illustrators (such as louis darling, who perfectly captured the spirit of beverly cleary's naughty protagonists in the '50s). but the one i adore, head + shoulders, above all others is gary taxali. i first came across his work about a year ago, when i bought aimee mann's latest cd. he did the artwork for it, and i was entranced by his dusty, retro, vibe. plus, his work seems to have an odd current of dread running through it.

i'd love to meet him + discuss where he gets his ideas + inspiration.

Monday, September 14, 2009

they're crafty.

this weekend, i attended chicago's renegade craft fair. the weather was gorgeous, the designs were abundant, and the tunes! mr. dj spun an awesome array of rock--big star, beatles, hollies, nerves...need i go on?

walking from booth to booth, i noticed consistent themes in the designs. peacocks. owls. squids. cassette tapes. retro robots. steampunk. (loved the peacocks. in fact, i picked up a gorgeous purple peacock blouse from loyalty and blood and a dynamite peacock tunic from megan lee designs.)

i also visited my friend--and co-worker--barry's booth. he + his girl own barry's farm, the coolest place for laptop + iPod sleeves.

the whole adventure was so exciting + inspiring. it made me think. a lot.

growing up, i loved making art. in high school, i considered it as a career, but--in all midwestern practicality--believed that art was simply something to do in your free time, or when you retire. a career means making money + providing for a household, not following your dreams. i mashed all passion for art into the furthest recesses of my brain. i did everything you're "supposed" to do. go to college, pick a sensible major (business, in my case), get a safe job in the insurance industry, decorate the cubicle with encouraging quotes, go to mary kay parties, eat stauffer's lasagna. that lifestyle fit me like a too-tight, itchy wool sweater--in july. i knew it wasn't "me," but i had denied what i really wanted for so long that i didn't really know who "me" was.

after spending most of my 20s in a bland, domestic fog, i walked away. i was tired, angry, and sick of feeling helpless about my circumstances. now, at 31, i'm finally discovering who I am and what I want.

and i want to make art.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009


ever experience pure, unfiltered panic where you can't think, can't move, can't articulate, and you definitely, definitely can't create? that's me, with a particular assignment that's been the bane of my existence for over a week.

the squares.

using adobe illustrator, i'm supposed to arrange groups of squares to represent unity. sounds easy enough, and by sneakily peering at my classmates' work, they get it. but i'm frozen. adobe illustrator renders me helpless, zapping my brain and hands stiff as rigor mortis.

i feel that whatever i come up with will be boring. uncreative. generic. stupid. everything i've created so far looks like the purina dog chow logo. i can't think beyond squares. checkers. chess. tic-tac-toe. crossword puzzles. disco dance floors.


Tuesday, September 8, 2009

a "duh" moment

i have this romantic notion that, with a few classes here, a couple projects there, and my oh-so-fab sense of style, yes, i too can be a graphic designer.

not bloody likely.

i'm going to have to devote more time to my graphic design studies, pure + simple. i can't spread myself paper-thin with writing projects, music projects, speaking engagements, saying "yes" to too many people and expect to be a stellar design student. i wish i were one of those go-getters who can have a million things going at once and excel at all, but i'm not.

discipline, discipline, discipline!

Sunday, September 6, 2009


thursday we talked about some principles of 2d design, like unity, balance, scale, rhythm, and emphasis. while listening to the lecture, i wracked my brain for examples. i kept coming back to album covers. and the albums i kept thinking about? kraftwerk's. great instances of proximity, balance, and emphasis by color.

Friday, September 4, 2009


here's a question i was too embarrassed to bring up in class. so. are black + white movies actually "greyscale" movies?