Friday, March 2, 2018

local font find #32

My family and I went to support the Girl's High School basketball team the other night at our local University. A district game that they ended up losing and I will not discuss the inability to officiate the game by those who are supposed to be able to do so. Not only did I see four different fonts used to say the word "Mansfield" within the gymnasium, I saw this gem of a painted sign that hangs over the entrance. You only get to experience the full glory of these typographic mistakes once you are seated and able to really let it sink in.


The word "Country" was on the right side of the clock. Nowhere, could I find, any reason for the stem of the M to drop below the baseline. The awkwardness of that letter kept me peaking up from the court in between lousy calls... oops!, I commented. Then, the stencil or projector must have shifted during tracing as the curved leg of the R got crushed. The R is just plain bad on a whole lotta levels!

The outline of the word (white stroke around the black letters) is just TOO big. It creates this blast of white in the E's that is way too intense and teenie tiny slivers in the M, A, E's and R that bother me almost as much.

Other than that, it's pretty good.

Friday, February 16, 2018

even while absorbing the intense athletics of the olympics, great typography takes my eye and thoughts away from the action

Click on the TV. Straight to the Olympics. NBC stinks, by the way, at showing this incredible athletic event. I get way more talk from non-athletes than staight up competition (this whole gripe is for an angry strongo comic on another occassion). Ski Jumping!!! Cool!!! Don't know a single athlete. Don't care! It's the Olympics! It's all about the flag on the outfit. Very exciting. Then.... the mustache. This talented jumper has an old school almost handlebar that is mighty cool. He jumps amazing. Slides over to the camera, and as usual, pops the skis off and gets them into the TV screen as soon as possible. 



THEN.... The ski comes into view. It's beautiful. Clean. Gridded. Helvetica. Very Swiss. Even as I type this out and the image is before me, I keep glancing up and checking it out. Great spacing. Fits snuggly but breathes well. I would hang the ski in my house like any other piece of cool design that I may find. You can check out the skis and the typography used a bit closer at the Slatnar site here.
GO USA!!!!

Monday, February 12, 2018

a love of all things type

Over the past few decades, my sketchbooks have slowly switched from general drawings of my surroundings and random doodles to lettering. Letter forms are inherently beautiful when done well and inherently difficult to do well. That search for making something your own and making it hold it's beauty is a challenge that drives an amazing amount of people all over the net. My nerdiness isolated me prior to the Internet. Once I made my way into the modern age, I realized that my disorder is plaguing people all over the world. 

As an elementary art teacher, I am always looking for a way to inspire my students to look closer at the world around them and creatively analyze it. The "problem solvers" are what schools should be turning out. The art room is a great place to kick start this process. 

When the first two paragraphs mesh, you get student names/initials as design. Some students were asked their interests and others I took as a straight typographic problem to solve. Some choices were based on student personality while others are reflective of my state of mind at the time. (Sophie, the first one shown, is my neice, not a student)....




Thursday, February 2, 2017

a major "thank you" to Ryan Belz...former R.B. Walter Elementary student

This past year, BMW drove an i8 supercar to R.B. Walter Elementary. One of our former students, Ryan Belz, now working for WENY as a Meteorologist and journalist, came to the school to do a story on that event. Somehow, I failed to post the video that Ryan produced that made its way onto our local nightly news.

A fine young man with loads of talent, Ryan has continued to bring his knowledge and skills back to R.B. by presenting super interesting demonstrations on science and weather in the classrooms. I know the demos are cool because my daughter has come home singing his praises. Kids will let you know how they really feel... Ryan is good!

Here is the video that he shot:




We are proud of you Ryan. Best of luck to you as your future is wide open and ready for big things. THANKS AGAIN!!!

Under Armour is Awesome! "Sneakers of the Future" project a homerun!

Two years ago, a major car company did nothing for my 4th graders as we sent in a Cars of the Future art project. I am not naming them because we can never be totally sure if it was the companies fault. Anyway, feeling a bit sorry for the lack of response that was given to my students from that company, I set out to find another way for the students to get some interaction with a major corporation. Sneakers of the Future was hopefully the answer.

I was a teen as Nike defined cool footwear and athletic marketing throughout the 80's. Their shoes were visually light years ahead of the others. Nike commercials, in my opinion, were often more exciting than the sporting events they advertised during. Under Armour has emerged as a possible new trendsetter in athletic marketing. Their logo is showing up EVERYWHERE. Students are wearing the gear, commercials all over and professional athletics have the logo showing up on jerseys across all sports.

So, last year, the 5th graders worked on a project that had them analyzing their own shoes and inventing concepts of how shoes could look and what innovations might show up on them in the future (I defined the future to be months from now up to 100 years from now). They worked mighty hard and they were sent down to Under Armour's corporate headquarters in Maryland. This shipment happened at the end the 2015-16 school year. 

Two examples:






About three months ago, I received call from Danielle Thompson, Assistant Production Line Manager - Youth Footwear, at Under ArmourA super nice young lady, Danielle said that Under Armour was very excited to see the student designs and that they wanted to do "something" to thank the students and their hard work. I, of course, was pumped. I told Danielle that my students would love "anything" that Under Armour would be willing to do. 

Most companies get some gifts in a box and send it off to us. Some get their design teams involved and we get a bit more thoughtful and interesting gifts. And only two, prior to Under Armour, have stepped outside the very cool and entered the awesome and those were BMW North America (check it out here) and Subaru (check it here).

(this next paragraph is slight speculation mixed in with many facts as I was not present with the folks at Under Armour as they went through this process) 

This year, the number of awesome responses from companies has jumped to three. Under Armour had their team of designers review the student artwork. They each picked their 5 favorite ideas presented by the students and then the top 5 of those were boiled down. The Under Armour team then decided that they would make a 3-D digital model of the finished shoe that combined those 5 elements. They then took that show and built a small commercial/thank you for the students. 

Put yourself in the shoes of my students and check out the video (really, no pun intended!!!! really!)... make it full screen....








The video brought the student work full circle. They could see their ideas in seeming real life. The students sketched, made a finished version of their ideas and Under Armour finished it off. The students were pumped.



The top five ideas were:

5. Color changing 



4. Self-fitting
3. Temperature Control



2. Storage Pouch
1. Fly/hover mode




Also, the designers at UA designed a 3D paper shoe (below) that the students could build. This probably took longer than the video to figure out! They sent some blank versions so the students could design variations of the Warrior 2055. So COOL!!!!



With some careful cutting and little bits of glue, you get a very cool paper Warrior.

I gauge awesome in this entire scenario by the response of the students. This was AWESOME! Under Armour should be proud of this team and their thoughtfulness. Creative people can change peoples lives with their time and their care.




Friday, December 30, 2016

local font find #31 i love this lettering!


This was spotted during Dickens of a Christmas over in Wellsboro, Pa. Not sure the bank name, but it is right on the main street. Anywho, the lettering is awesome. The font below is killer as well. Love the wide "c's" and the dot under the small "c". This sign would hand in the living room!!!!


Wednesday, December 28, 2016

a new version of tee shirt for WildFly Charters


I have been drawing nothing but lettering for the past few months. At some moments, I really feel like I am getting it. Wow, is it difficult to get it "just so". The slightest mistake is usually punching you in the face. There is no middle ground with type. It either works or fails. I am pushing myself with all kinds of tools and styles to get the right look of every project. My brother, Capt. Gregg McKee, of WildFly Charters, is tough to find gifts for. I just try to keep him in interesting variations of tee shirts for his business. 

I like the mix of type styles and the weights of it all. When I squint, which it almost constantly as I draw now, it felt right. The space is just as important as the letters. I think so much differently now about Art in general. My expectations are much higher but the focus of those expectations are in far different places and on elements like "space" and "movement" and "emphasis". When I was young, it was on realism and more realism. That is gone. That is good. Art is becoming much more fun because of it.


version #2 of hand drawn lettering always tastes better

Been super busy as of late but had time off over Christmas break. Merry Christmas to all (by the way) and hope all is going well. This idea, though silly, never seems to be far from my mind. I can't shake it. And when I can't shake it, I doodle it. The many doodles have lead to this.


I look everywhere for well-used vintage book covers. The color and level of abuse are usually the deciding factors when found. They work well for what I have visioned for the final products of certain ideas. All of the color was printed using Styrofoam sheets and then scanning in. I do not use Photoshop Actions or pre-packaged apps to get my weathering.

Happy New Year as well.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

local font find #30

We visited Corning, NY the other day in search of some gifts. Any time I go to Corning I am in search of some old typography. The city has an interesting history and much of it has been preserved and still promoted. 

We stepped into a local glass shop and whammo! There it is. 



Exactly the kind of thing I am looking for. An historically important part of Corning's past and an inspiring part of a Font Geek's present. The sign is huge. About 10-12 feet wide. It is dimensional. Carved out letters with a textured background. Great bird logo above...WOW!


The sign is in rough shape. That is fine by me as I think we should experience it as life and the elements have delivered it to us. It tells a more intimate story in this state. A special "thank you" to the person in charge of displaying it. They had the insight leave it be. Also, the entrance to this building is beautiful. Old, stately doors. Plenty of glass. Great railings on the staircase.



If you are ever in the beautiful city of Corning, head to Market Street on the Wegman's end of town. Check it out. (if the company was as good as the sign, they were mighty good!)

Saturday, December 3, 2016

great artwork you don't see in art history books #5

During a random search on the Internet I came across an image of a tree. It was incredible. I immediately went to look for it's creator. I traced it to a man by the name of Eyvind Earle. An interesting fellow with a great personal story. He is worthy of a look.

The picture below is what has me typing this post. Of all his work, with many of his paintings superb, this painting of a series of barns has stuck with me. I think of it often. There is something about the angles, perspective and the position of the viewer that keeps me coming back.


There seems to be a whole lot happening with so few objects and so little detail. I love the dark shadow that falls across the lower right roof. It keeps pulling my eye around. The blast of light across the grass shoves you left over to the steep roof which start you back right. Wonderful movement. I always love an image that feels as though I would have never come up with the composition no matter how long I lived. Mr. Earle does this with regularity.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

the Air Force 1 by Nike still rules as an impeccable design


I have always loved the look of this shoe. Nike came out with it in 1982. I was 12 (you do the math). I never owned a new original pair but bought a used pair of size 11 1/2 off of a friend (I wore a 10). They were a bit to expensive for a sixth grader. My love of their look has never faded. EVER! I have found that I am not alone with this belief/disorder. To show my love of the shoe and also my love of certain artists/illustrators, I set out to draw a serious doodled right shoe that drops in hints of illustrators that have influenced me.



Many of the marks are just whimsical ideas that happened as chance. As illustrators, cartoonists, or artists jumped into my head, I carved out a place to fit 'em in.



My owl from a graduate school poster project.





The whale squashed into the darkened sole was just a drawing of a whale. No influences. Just thought it would fit in the space.



Sorry about the image quality. Hope it doesn't detract from the time spent drawing this up. Sure was fun to stare at an Air Force 1 for hours at a time.

Sharpie on thick railroad board.