American Flag Cake

In celebration of July 4th, I found a recipe on the Food52 website (https://food52.com/recipes/28811-american-flag-cake) for baking a cake that, when sliced, looks like the U.S. flag. Though it seemed a little daunting, I decided to do it. My finished product didn’t come out quite as clean cut as theirs, but the reaction from my family was definitely worth baking all day for. And I mean all day—with one 9″ pan to make 5 cakes (I wanted to make it 9″ but couldn’t find disposable pans at that size), I was literally mixing, baking, cooling, cutting and icing for over 9 hours. I may not be the most skilled baker but I’ve got heart.

 

ADC Paper Expo

Some paper samples from the expo, with the letter pressed Livin the Dream design print in the center
Some samples from the expo

While I don’t get to work with paper that often in my projects, it’s definitely my favorite medium. Nothing feels quite like it, and paper can evoke so many memories through touch. Whenever I hold a piece of colored construction paper, the kind used in elementary school, I get transported back to the sensation of drawing on it or cutting it out for a project.

Going to the Art Director’s Club 2014 Annual Paper Expo wasn’t exactly that, but it still inspired. What I would consider the best part, and the main reason I went this year was to hand crank my own limited edition letter pressed print (along with 499 other people) of the ‘Livin the Dream’ design from illustrator Scott Biersack (aka @youbringfire). Scott was  the winner of Aldine’s Featured Artist contest for the ADC Paper Expo. In addition to the print, which I patiently waited 40 minutes to get (20 of which were spent fixing the letterpress after they ran into some technical problems), I of course picked up some samples from most of the vendors.

 

The limited edition Livin the Dream letter-pressed print       Close of of the limited edition Livin the Dream letter-pressed print

Creating my limited edition letter pressed print. STEP 1: Inserting the paper into the press.       Creating my limited edition letter pressed print. STEP 2: Cranking the press so the plate imprints onto the paper.

Creating my limited edition letter pressed print. STEP 3: Releasing and removing the print.

Monument Valley Game

A year ago if you Googled Monument Valley, you’d come up with well-known images and wiki entries about the place in Southeast Utah (on the Arizona-Utah state line, near the Four Corners area). And perhaps even now, your top 20 hits might still be about one of the most photographed locations in the world. But if you searched a little further, or added ‘app’ or ‘iPhone’ after it, you’ll surely come across results that welcome into the world of the beautifully designed and engineered app game from UsTwo Games.

The game, which many compare it to something out of an M.C. Escher dream, is mesmerizing in every way possible. UsTwo has woven adventure, logic, storytelling and beauty all into one amazing game. At first, I didn’t even realize it was a story, but by the time I had completed the game (which was only a couple of hours later) I was in awe. The fact that I could become attached to some little character living in an imaginary world that has no place in reality, was mind-blowing. This game really sets the highest bar I can imagine for smart phone apps.

One of my absolute favorite scenes from the game is when one of the characters, Totem, bursts through a wall in hopes of reuniting with his friend.  As a tribute, I created a GIF of it. I don’t know if I’ve broken any copyright laws by doing this, but I will say that this GIF is derived directly from the game. I own no part of any of it, except for the fact that I created the GIF.

This GIF was created using scenes from the UsTwo iPhone app game. None of this content is my original work.
This GIF was created using scenes from the UsTwo iPhone app game. None of this content is my original work.

 

Cup & Spoon – WOW District: Chicago

Cup & Spoon interior. Photo courtesy of Facebook.com/CupandSpoonChicago
Cup & Spoon interior.
Photo courtesy of Facebook.com/CupandSpoonChicago

I recently visited my close friend from Portfolio School (Creative Circus), Rose Quasarano, in Chicago, where she now lives. Like many people I graduated the Circus with, Rosie made a huge leap from being an advertising creative in as an Associate Creative Director at a well-respected agency, to being an entrepreneur diving headfirst into the unknown of owning and running her own coffee shop. Ironically, though, the industry she left to pioneer her entrepreneurial dream, armed her with an arsenal of resources and connections to help her get started.

What began as a life long dream turned into a pop-up shop (at NOSH in Wicker Park/Logan Square Farmer’s Market), then a Kickstarter campaign and finally a brick and mortar business called Cup & Spoon, which now stands at 2415 W North Ave in the WOW district (West Of Western) of Chicago. I was honored when Rosie asked me to design her logo, and in doing so  joined a few other Circus alumni whose talent and admiration for Rosie helped nurture her ambition to open this shop (Designer Kiki Karpus and writer RC Jones both generously donated their talent to offer perks for C&S’s Kickstarter campaign). Like many small businesses, Cup & Spoon strongly believes in supporting the community in which it’s based, and sources their brew and sweet treats locally. But what really makes them special is Rosie’s continued connection to artists. Cup & Spoon shares a building with Dreambox Gallery, a contemporary art venue based in Chicago since 2003. Together they formed WOW Frequency, which showcases emerging and established artists in Chicago right inside the coffee shop.

If you’re ever in the area (next to Humboldt Park) and are in the mood for coffee or tea, or if you just want to taste one of Chicago’s best pop tarts (Interurban Cafe & Pastry Shop’s pop tarts, which are sold at C&S, were dubbed by Chicago Magazine as one of the best pop tarts in the city), I guarantee you’ll be happy you stopped here.

Cup & Spoon WOW Frequency Launch Party.
Cup & Spoon WOW Frequency Launch Party. Photo courtesy of Facebook.com/CupandSpoonChicago
Today Ennis set up his easel at Cup & Spoon to work on his latest painting. It's awesome to watch him create. Photo courtesy of Facebook.com/CupandSpoonChicago.
Today Ennis set up his easel at Cup & Spoon to work on his latest painting. It’s awesome to watch him create. Photo courtesy of Facebook.com/CupandSpoonChicago.
Pop Tarts sold at Cup & Spoon. Flavors: Apple Cinnamon, Plum Caramel, Strawberry Vanilla & Blueberry Orange. Photo courtesy of Facebook.com/CupandSpoonChicago
Pop Tarts sold at Cup & Spoon. Flavors: Apple Cinnamon, Plum Caramel, Strawberry Vanilla & Blueberry Orange. Photo courtesy of Facebook.com/CupandSpoonChicago
Me at Logan Square Farmer's Market, holding a cardboard cutout of the logo.
Me at Logan Square Farmer’s Market, holding a cardboard cutout of the logo.

3DEA: 3D Pop-up Print Store in NYC

If you still have AOL (like me), or frequent Huffington Post, you might have already read the story on HuffPost’s Weird News about 3D Dildo Print-Outs from 3DEA. Ironically, I hadn’t. So it wasn’t until I came across the pop-up 3D printing store 3DEA on 6th avenue and W 29th St. that I got a chance to see where the future lies for 3D printing. Dildos did not seem to be present (perhaps because they were all sold out, or because this looked to be a family-friendly environment), but I did get to browse and see some other rather interesting things.

To read more about the vendors, such as Ultimaker and ShapeShot (creator of the dildos), take a visit to the shop’s site. 3DEA runs until Dec. 27 and is open Tuesday-Saturday from 11a-7p and Sundays from 11a-6p.

3DEA: A pop-up 3D print store in NYC (West 29th and 6th Ave)

3DEA: A pop-up 3D print store in NYC (West 29th and 6th Ave)

3DEA: A pop-up 3D print store in NYC (West 29th and 6th Ave)

3DEA: A pop-up 3D print store in NYC (West 29th and 6th Ave)

3DEA: A pop-up 3D print store in NYC (West 29th and 6th Ave)

3DEA, a pop-up 3D printing store in New York City

3DEA: A pop-up 3D print store in NYC (West 29th and 6th Ave)

3DEA: A pop-up 3D print store in NYC (West 29th and 6th Ave)

3DEA: A pop-up 3D print store in NYC (West 29th and 6th Ave)

3DEA: A pop-up 3D print store in NYC (West 29th and 6th Ave)

3DEA: A pop-up 3D print store in NYC (West 29th and 6th Ave)

3DEA: A pop-up 3D print store in NYC (West 29th and 6th Ave)

3DEA: A pop-up 3D print store in NYC (West 29th and 6th Ave)

3DEA: A pop-up 3D print store in NYC (West 29th and 6th Ave)

3DEA: A pop-up 3D print store in NYC (West 29th and 6th Ave)

3DEA: A pop-up 3D print store in NYC (West 29th and 6th Ave)

3DEA: A pop-up 3D print store in NYC (West 29th and 6th Ave)

3DEA: A pop-up 3D print store in NYC (West 29th and 6th Ave)

3DEA: A pop-up 3D print store in NYC (West 29th and 6th Ave)

3DEA: A pop-up 3D print store in NYC (West 29th and 6th Ave)

3DEA: A pop-up 3D print store in NYC (West 29th and 6th Ave) 3DEA: A pop-up 3D print store in NYC (West 29th and 6th Ave)

3DEA: A pop-up 3D print store in NYC (West 29th and 6th Ave)

3DEA: A pop-up 3D print store in NYC (West 29th and 6th Ave)

Photo by Weegee

Google ‘street photography’ and many of the images will be of some place and time in NYC, most of them black & white with some edge of grittiness. Not all of them will be of actual streets, since the term is more correctly used to describe any photography made in public places, such as parks, subways or even shopping malls. But more times than not, they feature people, often candidly, going about their day.

Now Google ‘street photography weegee’ and you’ll not only get photos relating to NYC, but there will inevitably be dead bodies included in the mix.

Google image results for 'street photography'
Google image results for ‘street photography’
Google image results for 'street photography'
Google image results for ‘street photography weegee’

Weegee, whose real name is Arthur Fellig, was a photographer and photojournalist who popularized flash photography in his method for achieving gritty, high contrast, black and white images. If you were smart enough to purchase the Living Social voucher for the International Center of Photography (ICP), and actually used it, you likely saw the exhibition Weegee: Murder is my Business, which just ended yesterday, September 2nd.

Weegee was dubbed the photographer of Murder Inc. because of his ‘coverage’ of many mafia-related killings during the 1930s and 1940s.  In a time when organized crime was at its peak and dead bodies strewn on the sidewalk and rooftop were commonplace, Weegee’s photos portrayed death in a fashion not unlike the way he did  life – a candid photo of someone going about their day. Except for these people, their life ended while the day continued on.

While seeing a dead body is something intriguing to many people, what most surprised me about Weegee’s work was how unfazed many bystanders were at the site of a violent death. Kids hanging out the window overlooking a body riddled with bullets, couples posing for their 15 minutes of fame while they stand over a blood stained corpse. Weegee, himself, even said that he took more interest in the living rather than the dead when it came to a documenting a crime scene because of the reaction (or lack thereof) that it evoked in people. What also interested me was his relationship with the police. The level of priority and clearance he was given is something that would never exist today. Because of his close proximity to the police station and his own alarm system, there were times when he would even get to the crime scenes before the cops, and very commonly case the scene and provide to his own conclusion of what happened.

You can find a lot of Weegee’s photos in his book Naked City, though I should warn that some reviews on Amazon claim many of the images from this reproduced work appear to be scanned from the original 1945 version instead of the original images, and that another one Weegee’s New York: Photograpphy 1930-1960 is a better buy because it provides large beautifully printed reproductions on glossy paper. I’m certain, however, that whichever you chose, you’ll get a true depiction of what NYC was really like during the 30s and 40s.

On the Star Wars Front

If I didn’t know any better, I’d assume that a new Star Wars movie was on the horizon. It seems that every day or so, I come across something on the web or receive an email about SW news or related creativity. I subscribe to DesignTAXI, a news and editorial site that is updated daily with inspired creativity and innovation. Just looking back to my emails from February, I count about 15 messages related in some way to Star Wars. Most of the articles are pretty enjoyable as it’s interesting to see how someone has yet again reinvented the cult classic. I’ve watched the first 3 movies and can’t remember much of either except the famous scenes that people can recite by heart. Yet, growing up in the 80s, I will always have affection for the trilogy. And so to keep that nostalgia alive, I’ve compiled some of the more enjoyable Star Wars-related pieces that I’ve found from DesignTAXI and elsewhere in the universe. Click on the titles/photos to read the full article.

Darth Vader As Don Draper?

Reimagination of ‘Star Wars’ Characters As Samurai

‘Star Wars’ Characters In Various Yoga Poses

LEGO Releases Official Ultimate Collector’s ‘Star Wars’ R2-D2 Set

What Happens When ‘Star Wars’ Characters Meet Zombies?

‘Star Wars’ Condoms Offer Full Protection Of ‘The Force’

Teach The Alphabet To Your Child With ‘Star Wars’ Characters

When ‘Star Wars’ Meets Steampunk

‘Star Wars’ Propaganda Posters

LucasArts Reveals ‘Star Wars 1313’

‘Star Wars’ Shower Mosaic

If Dr Seuss Did ‘Star Wars’

‘Before Star Wars’, Vintage Photos of Darth Vader And Co.

Official ‘Star Wars’ iPhone Case To Be Released

‘Star Wars’ Flash Drives

Darth Vader Hot Air Balloon

What Happened To The ‘Star Wars’ That We Used To Know?

Iconic Images Redone with ‘Star Wars’ Action Figures

‘Star Wars’ Brand Wars

‘Star Wars’ Swimsuits for the Ultimate Geek Girls

‘Star Wars’ Fans Save Luke Skywalker’s Home

Tattoos For Badass ‘Star Wars’ Fans

art deco + urban + zombies = BIOSHOCK

For those of you who are not video game aficionados, like myself, BioShock is a survival horror first-person shooter with role-playing game customization and stealth elements. The game, set in an alternate 1960, but is stylized from the 1920s art deco era, puts the player in the role of a plane crash survivor named Jack, who must explore the underwater city of Rapture, and survive attacks by the mutated beings and mechanical drones that populate it. (wikipedia)

I’ve never actually played the game – I first saw it a few years back, while I was watching a friend play it. But I always remembered it because of the first impression it gave me.  The music was eerie, like something out of The Shining. The phonographs will occasionally play music from the 1930s, 40s and 50s. The mechanics of the zombies remind me of the movie 28 Days Later. But the best and most memorable aspect of the game is the design.  The posters and signs look like something from Fritz Lang’s Metropolis. And I especially loved the steam punk inspired characters.

The game has received critical acclaim for its design, and is now being featured in the Smithsonian’s Art of Video Games Exhibit running from March 16, 2012 – September 30, 2012. Irrational Games’ BioShock was one of 240 video games nominated for the exhibit, and became one of the top 80 currently displayed at the museum. To view the full list of games, click here.

“In addition to the 80 games . . . . five playable games will be included in the exhibition: Pac-Man, Super Mario Brothers, The Secret of Monkey Island, Myst, and Flower.” Go to the Smithsonian’s site to download the The Art of Video Games Exhibition Checklist, which features screen shots of classic games like Pac-Man and Donkey Kong, amongst many others.

The museum describes the exhibit as one of the first exhibitions to explore the forty-year evolution of video games as an artistic medium, with a focus on striking visual effects and the creative use of new technologies. It features some of the most influential artists and designers during five eras of game technology, from early pioneers to contemporary designers.”

The Info on Infographics

A few weeks ago I received a job posting entitled “Infographic Designer (Freelance).” I thought I had read it wrong because, as naive as it sounds, I had never heard of the term infographics. The job description didn’t give me too much insight, which makes sense since if you don’t know what infographics is then you’re probably not right for this job. Before I Googled it, I took a second to think of what it could be. Obviously, the name does say it all. But I started to wonder if perhaps I knew what this term meant and just didn’t realize it had a label.

The first thought that popped into my head was the website We Feel Fine.

It’s an exploration of human emotion. It “continually harvests sentences containing the phrase “I feel” or “I am feeling” from the Internet’s newly posted blog entries, saves them in a database, and displays them in an interactive Java applet, which runs in a web browser. Each dot represents a single person’s feeling. The color of each dot corresponds to the type of feeling it represents (bright dots are happy, dark dots are sad), and the diameter of each dot indicates the length of the sentence inside.”  I’m not sure what made me think of this site – probably because it had received a lot of press and was an interesting creation. But after I did eventually Google the term, I realized that We Feel Fine was quite possibly the simplest form of an infographic. The only visual indications were size, color and frequency. No numbers, no words, no percentages – all of that was embedded in this interesting and colorful graphic.

My search for infographics pulled up a plethora of results. There were websites that listed them by creativity, uniqueness,usefulness and other classifications. What I learned was that they’re nothing more than creative graphs, PowerPoint presentations on steroids. Albeit, they’re done very creatively, and actually contain much more complex information than you would ever want to squeeze into a PPT deck. But all in all, they’re simply cool looking graphs. Yet, creating an infographic does require creativity and planning. This site gives an anatomical look at one and also outlines how to go about building it.

And if you’re in the mood for some eye candy, here are some examples as well as list of sites that feature more beautiful infographics.

Marian Bantjes: influence map

Little tip on organizing font inventory

I was recently on Veer’s site watching their Go Wild with Opentype short animated film, when I scrolled down to where they list their fonts by style. Nothing significant about it, except it looked very nice and also provided me with a good starting point for organizing all of the fonts I’ve acquired over the years. This isn’t a creative breakthrough. But for someone like me, who is an indecisive scatterbrain, but also thrives on order and organization, I never really knew where to start when it came to organizing my typefaces. Unless the name of the font is an indication of it’s family, alphabetical classification is not an efficient method of searching for them in a pinch. Part of it was also the fact that there are so many to look at and a lot of them fall into multiple categories. Simple as it may be, I think this little diagram may solve a problem for me.