Creativity in a Time of COVID

First, I hope all are doing well and staying safe.

As we hunker down into a new normal of less physical interaction, adjustments must be made. In order to minimize the possible spread, my day job is now a work-from-home situation. So, when not doing telework, I maybe spending some time tinkering on various projects…..maybe even some related to the present situation.

If you are cloistered away, whether due to work or caring for family, perhaps take a moment to do something creative. Grab some printer paper and doodle, draw, journal, or just scribble. Find a coloring page on a Pinterest site and let your inner kid out maybe, or even print some for your kids. The point being let your mind wander as your body is asked to do less wandering.

Fonts of color

Recently a friend of mine who runs a screen printing business made some shirts I thought were humorous and asked where he got the logo. It was a generic one from the internet, but he had a time converting the raster image to a vector for better scaling and such. In response, I pointed him to a Reddit about font identification that I get notifications from.

I also remembered finding several color palette pages that might be of use for his business. I used a few of these in the past, especially the team color one, for the hockey jersey concepts. Figuring out a color scheme can be a tricky component of a project, especially when stepping away from simple gradients. I know from map making, the choice of colors can also affect how readable and understandable something is (think colorblindness).

Meet Map Nerd

Map Nerd: n. One who geeks out over maps, cartography, locating things, etc. See also “carto nerd.”

This creation was spurred by a co-worker, a member of a waning breed of cartographers. His suggestion of a “carto nerd” jersey led to this creation. The first iteration was a quick mashup of two icons from the Noun Project. Now, after a fresh Frankenstein session, I present Map Nerd.

You may see more of this creature in the future.

Map Nerd

GIS lends a hand to graphic design

My alter ego is in Geographic Information Systems (GIS). In fact, working cartography and GIS in part led to my foray into graphic design. Recently, GIS helped my graphic design. Usually, graphic design helps GIS better portray data.

With the unveiling of the US Space Force’s (USSF) ‘new’ camo (same one the Air Force borrowed from the Army), I decided to try my hand at making a more USSF-specific pattern. Yes, the first one was a tongue-in-cheek star pattern. After that, I took a little more serious look at it.

Here’s where GIS helped out. I wanted to use a hexagon pattern. Easy enough to build in Inkscape. Sort of. Yes, I can create a grid of hexagons, but the rub came in two areas.

The first was making sure all of the cells were actually snapped and aligned. This is fairly easy on a small area, but a larger fabric area introduces lots of edges to snap together. The next issue was randomly coloring all those cells to be a disruptive(ish) pattern, the main reason behind camouflage.

So, how did GIS help? Opening QGIS is the first step. It’s a free GIS suite that runs pretty much on anything. It also has tools to generate a grid and assigned random colors to the cells. After generating a global grid (just for good coverage), I then randomly selected and assigned one of four color values to each cell. Export that to DXF (CAD file) and then import into Inkscape.

Once back in Inkscape, I recolored the greyscale cells (DXF didn’t capture other colors well) for the final pattern. Merge each color and the result is this:

Conceptual USSF camouflage pattern (sample)

For the colors, I borrowed the Navy’s NWU (aka ‘Bluberries) colors and add some green. Why green? Well….they are Space Force (you know, little green men?)

More coin…

A while back, I wrote a post called “Dropping Coin“. Here’s a quick update on that project.

After a delay/pause, I reached out to the speaker from the conference regarding the project. It’s been a slow roll, but now I’m building multiple concepts and tracking down production quotes. If things go through, this may be one of my highest profile jobs. Won’t get paid (no double-dipping for me), but will certainly have a major sense of accomplishment.

And oh, I might even design this year’s conference coin. Need to check on that.

Have design, will…..desire?

Being a self-guided designer has the upside of allowing me to design what I like and want to focus on. The downside: trying to find a market or outlet for those designs.

This is something I struggle with at times. I have plenty of spur-of-the-moment ideas that I might quickly draft out. Then they sit in the digital holding tank, often collecting digital dust. Dust collection can occur from no real outlet for the design (often due to subject matter), artistic stall, or very limited audience.

I’d like to say I have a solution, but I don’t. In some ways, I’ve tried to use this blog and my portfolio site as an avenue to expose more of my creations, but even those don’t always blow the dust of some of my collection.

End of the random thought for today.