Commission or not

The bulk of my design work is self-initiated, with a few requests scattered in. I’ve received requests at work, or suggestions to submit ideas. The one area I really haven’t strayed into is the world of commissions, where a new customer requests a design based on a concept. I’ve thought about adding a ‘services’ page to my portfolio, but haven’t taken the step.

My main worry is that design right now is mostly self-expression, an outlet for my sarcasm and critiques on things in the world. I also have to balance my day job with any potential work (not expecting to quit the day job by any means).

If anyone has thoughts on this, please let me know. This is definitely one of those times I wish Jacquie was here to consult.

Well, color me…

Color is one of the key things to design. Choose the right color, it evokes certain emotions, as does the wrong. There are way too many colors in nature to truly see them all. For designers, it becomes a matter of palettes or collections of colors. Some designers will simply look up colors with no real set collection, going with what colors seem to fit or the customer wants. Others may chose more set schemes based on their own design philosophy.

I recent picked up a book called color index from a used bookstore. Adding a color guide to my bookshelf is something I’ve needed to do for awhile. Many of my designs tend to be a very earth tone, largely due to the ‘tactical’ or military aesthetic to them.

I’ve also taken to noting car paint colors, both for my own interest for future purchases and as a reference for colors I like and want to add to my palette. To be honest, I hadn’t actually created a palette either. I just picked colors as I needed, maybe not always sticking with the same similar color across designs.

So… I decided, while looking up car paint colors, to start collecting colors. Using the Encycolorpedia (trying saying that one fast…), I start shopping colors for my palette. As you can see, still very earth tone, but will hopefully give me a more consistent collection.

https://encycolorpedia.com

Design Capital

To quote Yogurt from Spaceballs – “Moychandising, moychandising, moychandising”

As you saw with my Best Woman design, I’ve tinkered with the print-on-demand (POD) idea before. So, now with my expanded portfolio compared to my early Cafe Press days, I’m contemplating building another store for the monkeys and other designs.

Now comes the question of which provider to use. While Cafe Press was my first go at POD products, I may try a new vendor this time. I’ve played around with some of the various ones, but still doing some product exploration.

I know t-shirts are prerequisite for POD (pretty much), I’m also thinking of other things to offer like mugs, electronic cases, maybe skateboards (one vendor does offer those).

I also need to figure out which designs to offer. Stencil, cheeky, and flying monkey are already on the list. I may also throw in some of the more irreverent designs.

Design Darwinism

Do designs just magically pop from mind to screen? Lord I wish so. Any artist will likely tell you that design or art is a process. A thought or inspiration sparks in the mind, then the fun of making that spark into something real.

My prime design, the data monkey, was no different. Born about 7 years ago, it started off in a much different fashion. The concept was fairly simple: make a path with a monkey and tabs to say ‘secret’ and ‘data monkey.’ Seemed easy enough. Well… As you can see below, the early attempts were pretty basic. You’ll also see a multitude of spin-offs that came quickly from the original.

Most of these early iterations were very much design, not so much art. Combine elements to get a thought across. Since then, as you can see from the overall theme of this blog and my portfolio, I found a little more art to use with the design.

I admit at times to fixating on the initial design/concept, but have learned to sometimes stop and let it rest for a bit. While elements may carry through, the difference between initial and final can be striking at times.

Memoriam

Six years ago, around the 4th of July, I received a message from one of my best friend’s boyfriend. He and I never talked directly. The message was simple. Jacquie, my best friend since middle school, had died. At the time, my family and I were on a drive through rural Nebraska during a family reunion. Sadly, I had not actually seen Jacquie in years. Our last attempt to meet in person was 7 years prior during a layover on our way to our honeymoon.

So, what how does this connect to design? Jacquie was a talented artist and had her own design business, Enso Blue. I wasn’t anywhere near hobbyist designer I am now, but we did chat about it.

When I started my portfolio site, I dearly wished I could’ve sought her advice. In many cases, she comes to mind whenever I start a major project, especially those that take more artistic approaches.

If you’ve checked out the portfolio site, you’ll also find a small memorial message about Jacquie.

http://www.datamonkeydesigns.com/about

Can You Tweak This Photo?

We’ve all heard the universal phrase “can you photoshop this?” Yes, Adobe’s raster/image manipulation software has become part of the English lexicon (at least American English). But is it the only tool out there? Short answer: no. Long answer: there are a number of programs that are free.

The one I have installed and use occasionally as the need presents is GIMP. The Gnu Image Manipulation Program (GIMP) has been around for quite some time and was actually the first FOSS program I recall using.

If you need to work with images (photos and such), GIMP is a good tool. You can adjust, paint, skew, filter, etc. most JPGs, PNGs and even RAW files. Prefer to ‘paint’ rather than ‘draw,’ then GIMP is probably better suited for you than Inkscape. Keep in mind that Inkscape and GIMP can compliment each other as well.

As with Inkscape to Illustrator, GIMP replicates many of the core functions of Photoshop. Does it do it all? No, but it’s not really meant to. Tools like Adobe have the benefit of millions of dollars in revenue to support development, which means more power and capability (in general). That’s not to say FOSS tools are inferior. It just means development takes a different path, but can create the same output in many ways, but might also present new ideas.

As with Inkscape, GIMP is cross-platform, which means it works on Windows, Mac, and Linux.

Are there others, besides GIMP? Yes, but I haven’t used many of them personally.

http://gimp.org/

Design is in the Cards

Playing cards. Usually 52 cards in a deck (I have one that’s only 32, but another with 100-ish). Each one (can be) a work of art of design on a 2 1/2″ x 3 1/2″ canvas (for a Poker card). A nice way to create a collection around a theme, and make it more than just a wall hanger.

I’ll fully admit – my wife is the card player in the family. She and her family usually play at least one card game when we are together. Me? I’ve developed an interest in designing the cards more than playing.

Looking at most card decks, a lot of the real design falls to the backs and the face cards (A, K, Q, J). Amongst these cards, there can be lots of hidden meaning. Does that mean they have to stay the same across all decks? Nope. Take a look at Kickstarter and one can see a wide range of takes on playing cards. Another fun place to look is Portfolio52, where one can not only search decks, but you can even catalog your collection (we have an ever growing collection).

You will likely see some of my concepts on here over time. In addition to the Trigrams deck, I’ve also started a few others. Some are just partial decks, others are well more developed. And sadly, a few may never really see print, but I’ll talk about that in a separate post.

My current design collection of cards: https://www.datamonkeydesigns.com/playingcards