Friday, September 30, 2011

illustration for angry strongo #3

I have been working with this head shape repeatedly. I went with the knuckle-dragger look as well for this version. I am most definitely sticking with the simplified eyes, single brow and "C" nose. Not sure about the tats and the legs. Hair doesn't seem appropriate for this one as well.

As soon as I hit on the right look for this character, regular installments of his rants will follow.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

illustration for angry strongo #2

The character development phase of "angry strongo" is thoroughly underway. For those of you who have not read any of the previous posts, my 4.5 year old son created this name one day. My wife and I have been trying to put a face to this most interesting name ever since.
I really have two possibilities stuck in my head concerning his look: 1....a large bruiser of a fellow who could smash most anything or 2...this scrawny looking lad who gets bent-outta-shape at the slightest bit of inconsistency or hassle. I am liking this head shape but still debating the physical size issues and what the possibilities for stories are when one or the other is chosen. Feel free to comment on your love and hates....finishing another big Mr. Strongo tonight.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

drawing some type...yes, a type nerd

I have come to terms with knowing that my loves in this world include type faces. Typography is a never ending source of joy. There is an organization of lines and spaces that is both comforting and beautiful. My earliest memories of me taking a shine to this lettering stuff could be traced back to my father's occupation. He was trained to be a civil engineer but because of his people skills was bumped into the marketing department (marketing for engineering firms has little to do with cool advertising, logos and letterhead and more to do with drinking heavily with county commissioners and golfing 3-4 days a week). Anyhow, those doing the real engineering work had offices down the hall and my brother and I would mess around with the tools when accompanying my dad on one of his many evening runs back to the office. The electric erasers never got boring and were quite dangerous. Maps would be out on desks and on the walls. The topographic maps were amazing to look at and those patterns still draw me in. Even though all the mapping was done pre-computer, it had this machined look to it. The handwriting was in all caps. The capital E's were so different than what I was doing and it all looked so much more interesting than how I was writing things. My father wrote this way as well. I have vivid memories of him writing names and numbers onto a Sinking Valley Country Club score card or him keeping score at the Pleasant Valley Bowling Lanes (or alley, not sure of title). His handwriting was just better to look at than other peoples. It is why I don't recall anyone else writing in an interesting way. By the time I hit junior high, I began attempting to copy his style. I forced my self to slowly write out homework and other tasks using only caps. I watched how he would form the individual letters. How he would begin a capital E with a capital L and add two more horizontal lines.
At this point I know I have title this post correctly. Nerd is spot-on.
Over the years I find that I still prefer all caps and use them when writing for students on my dry-erase board.
Thanks Dad....for everything.
I would just like to add one other strange little quirk from his bowling score-keeping style (this is also a man who had little to no style in any other facet of his life). He would not draw an X for strikes. He would color in the small square completely with a mix of short and very controlled horizontal and vertical lines. A complete scorecard would be something I would now consider framing and displaying in a prominent location in my home.

initial illustration for angry strongo

When my son first surprised us with his creation of Angry Strongo, I remember asking him if it was something he had heard or something he made up. When he told me he had made it up I was most impressed. It is such a humorous and catchy name that I immediately started picturing what he looked like and why he was angry. I bounced many ideas in my head like is he "strong" and is he really angry or is this just a strange name given to an average looking kid. I wanted him down on paper and this was my first attempt. Not sure why I gave him the caveman/early professional wrestler single strap outfit but I always felt he would be bald. This looked a little too "Simpson's" for me but I was off and running. I do regret one thing after jotting down this first sketch...I wish I would have sat my son down to ask many questions about Mr. Strongo's appearance and clothing. It may have totally changed my current image of the guy. Anyhow, I will be posting more Angry Strongo character possibilities soon. Please comment on what you like or dislike about this one compared to future designs. Thanks all!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

my first attempt at hoarding/collecting

Found this part of my past the other day as I was throwing out many of the piles of garbage from my basement. I believe this is the only writing I possess from my grandfather. Even though my grandmother, Betty, more than likely badgered Pap Pap (John) into making sure he sent an obligatory note from his hunting and fishing trips, it is a great memory to have in my current collection. I only have about three postcards left from my original collection but having this one is priceless. For anyone lucky enough to have met my grandfather, they would understand my reasons for valuing it so high. He was a great man and the absolute pinnacle of our family. This card was sent in '78 (best guess with what little date is showing) as I was 8 and he only lived another 3 years. He was still faster than me in my eleventh year and seemingly strong as an ox. We would race from the screen door of his back porch to the tire swing in my uncle's yard. He would make it close. I never won. He died fishing with his brother. A heart attack. We just don't find many men like him. They are the rarest of creatures. You can still see his parking sign from the Altoona School District if you ever venture down to Ossie Ryan's camp near Huntington, Pa.
As I type this out I feel myself missing him and  all of the emotions of knowing I am getting old as well. My young children missed meeting him. They have a new Pap Pap (my father, Bill) and I am sure they will grow to feel the same about him as I still feel about John.

coffee rocks t-shirt

This was the latest t-shirt design for Coffeemania (Cortland, NY). Those fine folks up there give me zero boundaries when I am designing except that they are a coffee shop. The sketch at the top was completed during some downtime at a teachers meeting. Some of my co-workers, Ash included, were shooting the breeze when I drew a coffee cup at a 90 degree angle. It looked kinda like a earpiece for headphones and that was it. All my other sketches did not quite work out. The first catch-phrase was a play on "Life is good" and it was just too close and too lame. "Coffee Rocks" is right to the point. I'm gonna heat a cup up right now to celebrate my children getting along.

watch out wayne

Even before I met Ash, she was drawing cartoons of her dad for just about every holiday that required a card. Early on in our relationship I thought that I could take a stab at this great tradition as well...give it my own twist. Though sometimes painfully difficult to create yet another situation or style for "the father-in-law", some have really made him laugh and stuck with us.
My 6th grade students work on a comic book cover every year. They have to create a new character and setting while keeping the whole thing suitable for school. I show them this because it captures a painful peddle-car accident without showing details like compound fractures, lacerations and ponds of blood. You can lead the viewer into understanding that the event pictured will soon get ugly and that it can be done with humor. The Principal would be okay with something like this.
My father-in-law really did smash himself up as a youth in a failed peddle car jump. He has had multiple skull impacts and the stories are amazing. We joke that our memories are equally poor though he has these mishaps as an excuse.
...just as a footnote, we always draw him with the beard (infant, teen or adult)!!!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

great moments in art education vol. 2

aaahhh....the blank stare. Nothing like the blank stare looming over the blank paper. I think my art teachers saw this same look on me as a teen. I am trying to teach the art of brainstorming to them. I tell them that it is a skill like anything else they can do. You must train your mind to think through a creative problem like you would train your fingers to play the guitar. It takes repetitive effort. You can't just walk outside and have it rain ideas.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

great moments in art education vol. 1

The best part of my job is when the students show up at my door. They force me to be creative and allow me to be win. I had the idea about three or four months ago to cartoon some of their thoughts and quotes. I made up the thoughts and quotes. My guess is that I am very close to capturing the mind set of these young ladies and gentlemen. The monsters are meant to be fun and in no way a negative toward my students.  Their stray thoughts and numerous ways to waste time often have me laughing internally as I redirect their untimely behavior. More to come.....

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

old posters i don't hate

Since I just started this blog a few days ago, I thought I'd post these posters I came across on my machine last night. I am saving all this stuff onto discs and dumping unwanted files to free up some room on my dinosaur. These are two posters from my past that I don't mind looking at. That is a rare thing. I did these posters for Mansfield University's first E Arts event (E=electronic). Since it was subtitled as Sound & Vision and I knew very little about what was going to be presented, I went with some Swiss inspired minimalistic photo cutouts. The second poster was my first real informal attempt at using a grid system. I broke some "grid" rules but liked how the columns extended from top to bottom. I had a pile of info to fit on that second poster....yikes! 

great type find

My father-in-law is always finding cool new things. When he is not finding new things, he's digging out treasures from his past and showing me. He has kept some interesting items from his youth that I would proudly display in my home if he would just cough them up. This old cigar box is one of those items. It is an interesting script font with a hand-drawn feel. I may make a rubbing of it and print out a version so we have it to look at here. There are many hidden gems lurking in all the falling down barns and rotting vehicles of northern PA. My hope is that my father-in-law tracks 'em down before Mother Nature recycles them back to the soil.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Trip into NY state

Ash and I took a few days over the summer to see the finger lakes region of NY state. We looped around and came south into Watkins Glen. A neat little town with some interesting folks milling about.  While there, we set out to walk the glen as I have never been thru. Around every turn is another beautiful scene. The weather was awesome and we decided to walk out via the northern trail. This took us near an amazing cemetery that drew us in and we, of course, lost the trail.  We had to follow the cemetery exit adding a substantial distance to our journey. My fault.
I had done some design work for some folks east of there so we headed over to the Ithaca/Cortland area that night for a room. The logos pictured above are from a great coffee shop in Homer, NY. If in the area of Cortland, we recommend Coffeemania and Origins! The people were incredibly friendly and the coffee was perfect. I designed this logo about two years ago (maybe one?) for the owners Craig and Michelle Brooks. The logo was based on a design that I sketched out about a decade ago for my cousin Mike and his wife Jamie who were batting around an idea for a coffee business. ****A note to all creative types out there: keep your sketch books!!! Not sure about that pose I'm in but it might be me stretching from the lengthy car ride.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Design contest at 50 Watts

Well, I didn't win the design contest over at 50 watts but I did make it onto the list of book covers he liked. You can check out the winners as well. I was defeated by a pile of super talented designers who make a living doing this sort of thing. You had to take your favorite book and design a cover inspired by the Polish-style of the last 80 years. My favorite part of The Catcher in the Rye is Holden's love for his sister thus the tribute to "rollerskate skinny".

New Cd cover

While still in the post-design/production phase, my wife Ashley and I collaborated on the design for the latest work of the Jazz Ensemble and the Mansfieldians (Mansfield University Music Department). Ashley drew up all the retro lookin performers and I shuffled them into a circle and colored them up. Throw in a little hand-drawn type and offset the color slightly and "blammo"...there it is. I love how the look flows through the packaging and hope all looks good in the end. Ash is a talent.

Friday, September 16, 2011

My first blog post

Well, I fugured that I should at least post a doodle along with my first entry. This owl will eventually be for sale, in print form, at Etsy very soon.  I first designed this owl at my inlaws kitchen table around 1:30am.  It was part of my graduate project.
Having two kids is delaying all things that require time so you will see the words "coming soon" in most of my sentences.  As for my kids, my son can be credited for the title of the blog....angry strongo.  This is a character name that he created out-of-the-blue one day.  My wife and I love the name and will be posting pictures of what we think this guy/thing/animal looks like.  I will soon be designing a header for this blog as well. I hope this blog is enjoyable text along with unique drawings and such.  If i can be of any artistic help to anyone out there, please email me and let me know and we can "start a dialogue" least favorite phrase.  Stop back often and enjoy!