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.

Friday, November 11, 2016

my student's artwork gets them a visit from BMW North America

When I went into this job, I was quite the novice about things like discipline and even how difficult it was going to be to break down something as complicated as art into simple terms for kindergarten students. What I did know was that I like things that are considered different and wanted my space to be as different as the powers-that-be would allow and still be a successful teacher. The Art Room should be different. The Pennsylvania standards for the Art classroom are vague. Some are single words like: line, space, shape, form, color, etc. I have the honor of grinding those words down to their simplest forms and begin to build their comprehension up with the very young. So far, I can do it the way that I believe works best. I hope to never lose that! Having a great Principal is something I wish on all educators!!!!! Also, I would like to add that I am surrounded by professional, high quality classroom teachers, who deliver me the best students possible. Those faculty members are given my utmost respect! Thanks R.B. faculty!!!!

By the time my students reach 3rd grade, my hope is that they are forming a quality understanding of those single words that are truly complicated like line, shape, color, etc. It is about this time that my lessons start to really open up and allow for student-driven outcomes. CREATIVE PROBLEM SOLVING! The directions can't be as loose as high school or college projects, but I can start to have them push themselves to reach beyond the standard outcome and go after 3rd grade greatness! By 4th grade they should begin to expect that some freedom lies within most of my projects and that their individual ideas are essential. 

Cars of the Future is entering it's ninth or tenth year.  It was a way to have the students visually problem solve while having only their imagination to propel them forward. I created the project with a memory from my youth in mind. I will always remember writing to NIKE back in the mid-80's as their brand was beginning to explode. They would send me catalogs of shoes that were not even available in our area yet. It was an awesome experience! Ithas become a project that the whole school knows about. Kids ask me often about, "When do I get to design a car". This is a good sign. They feel like they are somewhere that only a select few get to experience. Cars of the Future attempts to put the students in a "special" situation. That was the goal. I am proud to say that car makers have responded generously on numerous occasions (sadly, not always). Every year, a different major auto manufacturer gets a package from R.B. Walter Elementary with 50-75 independent concepts conjured up by my 4th grade students. These car companies either react and celebrate a possible future car buyer....or they don't! Some companies sadly did nothing. Two years ago I wrote about how amazing Subaru was to R.B. in a previous post

This year I chose BMW and they responded in a major way...this story could take a while...

When I wrote to BMW (a letter in the box of student artwork pictured below), I explained that the students loved how the i8 looked when I clicked on it as we explored the website (pictured above). "Wows" were heard in all three 4th grade classrooms. The fine people at BMW took that little bit of information and thought it would be cool for the students to see one in person.

I found out that BMW loved the box and was pumped about getting some student designs. They told me that this was the first box they ever received from a school. That was good for us!!! Bring Your Child to Work Day was approaching and they used the designs to line the conference room (picture below) where the employees and their children would have lunch. The children entered the conference room and ran around choosing their favorite designs. Then, like all inspired kids, they asked for paper, pencils and crayons and wanted to design their own ideas for BMW Cars of the Future. That story sure had me beaming with pride. The timing for this package could not have been better.

I received a phone call from Kathryn Vallis, an Executive and Internal Communications Specialist, about the prospect of driving an i8 up from BMW USA's headquarters in New Jersey to visit the students of R.B. Walter. I couldn't say "YES!" fast enough. I had to get the "ok" from our new Principal first, but I was pumped for the students and what could be an amazing experience.

Kathryn Vallis and Rebecca Kiehne, a Product & Technology Spokesperson, planned on driving this hybrid supercar to R.B. early this school year along with some other BMW gear (some of the gear is pictured below) for the kids.

The two ladies and the i8 arrived on a beautiful late summer day. It was a striking machine.

I had called several media outlets and Kathryn and Rebecca had quite a bit of talking to do.

Even the rims looked fast.

The car was impressive from all angles. The students thought the doors were "sick". "Sick" is now a good thing.

Rebecca was very knowledgeable concerning the amazing features and cutting edge design found in the i8.

Kathryn and Rebecca talked briefly about BMW's look toward the future of car design and took many questions from our well behaved students.

Each class was given some time to interact with the car. They were very respectful and careful. A lot of "wow" and "oooh" and "aaah".

I had a large welcome sign set out for the ladies and we all posed for a picture to commemorate the day.

Each student will be getting a copy of the picture below as a bit of memorabilia. 

Big thanks go to BMW USA for allowing Rebecca and Kathryn to have the day and come to our school. Big thanks to Rebecca and Kathryn for making the long drive and being so kind to the students. Big thanks to our new Principal, Mrs. Wood, for allowing the day and helping to make it so awesome. Big thanks to Tyler Belz for coming and covering the event for WENY News. Big thanks to John Vogt from Wellsboro Home Page for covering the event and the excellent video that was produced (CHECK OUT THE VIDEO LINK is very good!!!!!).

Big thanks to the hard working 4th graders (now fifth graders) of R. B. Walter for being so creative, so gracious and so well-behaved on what was a great day for all involved.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

hey Jason Gehman!!!!! yer awesome....

I have always attempted to surround myself with interesting people. Especially people who are more knowledgeable in subjects other than my main interests. By chance, Jason Gehman, now of Wellsboro, crossed my path. He is one of those interesting folks that hold your attention with their ideas. 

Google had me in a pickle with my domain name for this blog. The reoccurring payment was not going through and I lost it for a while. Though I was thoroughly busy as it was down, I did not want to give this site up. Jason was the only guy I knew who could weave through the Kafkaesque bureaucracy and set me free from Google's purposeful maze of misery. His computer skills boggle my mind. 

Thanks Jason for your time and application of your skills... your a good man!

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Saturday, August 20, 2016

commission for a reduced wooden tarpon sign as house number

Never planning that these tarpon signs would be sold outside of our trips down to Florida each summer, I was contacted for a sign from some interesting folks out of NJ. Not having the space for the full size 6 foot signs I have been producing, they were looking for the same aesthetic quality but much smaller. More like 23 inches across. I said I would be glad to make one but had to check on the silo boards remaining to see if the lengths were there. Well, they were. 

I gridded off some poster board for an exact size/proportion reduction and found that i couldn't get the tarpon cut from one board. In order to keep strength at a maximum, I centered it to allow for fins to stay away from knots as well as the joining of the two pieces.

I was pleased with the final shape.

The kids were drawing with chalk on the driveway so I spent a few minutes adding some large, strange creatures with blue collars and plants...not sure why. Looks like they road their bikes over it before I got this shot.

The wood has highly defined grain. The exterior is covered with deep ridges that catch the sun and its shadows. I dremeled out the numbers after adding the paint. I scuffed and scraped the paint with a multitude of items to beat it up a bit more before shipping it out.

The buyer wanted the numbers left in their natural state, so this is how it was sent out. I wish I had an unlimited supply of these boards. They are striking. I will miss them when the are gone (they're almost gone). Later!

Friday, August 19, 2016

local font find #29

While on a trip up to the local hardware store for some wood screws, I gave the old sign that is kept out front a slow drive by. It is strange that I have not photographed this prior. While inside, I questioned the history behind the sign. I was told by the fine folks at Morgan and Margraff that a local Elkland sign painter, Glenn Wilson, completed this sign many years ago (they believe it was done in the mid eighties). I was told that he painted many signs locally (I would love an opportunity to see them). The owner attempted to show me a sign of the former shoe store in town that Mr. Wilson had rendered but he was unable to locate it in the warehouse. I sure hope that sign is, was I excited at the prospect of unearthing another sign!

Though this sign has had daily battles with the elements, it still retains the style and skill that Mr. Wilson obviously possessed. Mother Nature, in my opinion, has this sign in amazing condition. If it were mine, it would find wall space.  

The arched letters of MORGAN are great with an exaggerated M and N. Love the rounded, flared-out R's. The A's seem to come from the early part of the 20th century and place us in the era of the nature-driven Art Nouveau days.

As we zoom in on this AND, we can see the shaky brush stokes. Most sign painters pride themselves on completing a letter with as few strokes as possible. I would have loved to have watch him apply the paint. Was his hand shaky? Has the weather worn parts of the letters and we are left with the uneven edges? What kind of speed were his strokes? No matter the answer to these questions, he was confident and talented. A good mix. (an update to the brush stroke issues...I found out that the sign was touched up, many years ago, at the hands of a non-sign painter...thus the shakey, multiple brush strokes)

I am on the lookout for any other signs by this man. If you know any, email me please! Would love to post some images (or maybe buy). Thanks all.

Friday, August 12, 2016

vintage pull down U.S. map (40" x 48")

Rarely do I find things that command my attention. And once I do, they seem to sit in my brain and pop into my thoughts with regularity...even when they are not in sight. One such item is this map we had framed for our bedroom. It is one map from a pull down set you may remember from school. It is a vintage one from the 1950's/60's. I have given some of the other parts away and can't locate the date or find a similar one on the net. I kept this map and the North American section. The rest of the world has changed names so much that I didn't want my children learning some wrong answers for future questions.

The colors are a thousand times better than any other map I have ever seen. You mix the colors with this amazing typography (pictured below) and you get visual perfection. This former teaching tool is what I consider to be way more powerful an example of good design than a majority of the countless pieces of artwork that I have come in contact with in the last few decades.

The shadowed mountains (below) are mighty cool as well.

The greens and blues work so well together. Each small section of this map is just spectacular.

Love the different fonts used as well as how they kerned (spaced) the letters to create weight differences to the viewer.

The number are cool as well!

My favorite section of the map is this mountainous part of Mexico as it meets with the large font. The orange of the map is striking (orange is my favorite color by the way). Everything great about this design comes together hear. 

We had it framed by a kind and interesting man, Marwin Cummings, from the Lawrenceville area. I helped him mount it and it turned out way better than I had hoped for. It will be the focal point of our bedroom walls. Thanks, Mr. Cummings! Fantastic!!!!!

Why any map maker would avoid using such rich colors is puzzling. Enjoy!

Friday, August 5, 2016

buffalo sabres sign out of reclaimed boards and barn boards

I have been blessed with fine friends and interesting acquaintances. They may not look on me with the same sentiment, but I still feel blessed just the same. I may have said this similar thing in a previous post...sorry. I do feel it is necessary to preface this post with these thoughts. 

One such bunch of fine folks bought a new home a few months ago. Their pride in the purchase was obvious. I felt compelled to build them (though the design was leaning heavy toward the husband's taste) something cool for a future basement upgrade to a living space.

I love great logos (nothing out of the ordinary for graphic design folks). But, this logo, that of the Buffalo Sabres, was one that I found difficult to create something unique for these fine folks. I previously made a raised wooden Buffalo Bills sign and thought that the style might work with the original Buffalo Sabres logo (from 1970).

The extra outlines of the current logo would not be possible with my skill level when working with wood. Luckily, the older logo is better anyway (my opinion).

The background circle is approximately 42 inches in diameter and I used reclaimed wood to build it. It came off the roof of a local Elkland home that was recently torn down. The wood is about 90 years old or so and looks awesome!

I used aged barn boards as the raised elements. I acquired many splinters and had multiple fails with the wood. There are so many cracks from the weathering that a piece can split off at any point while cutting out the shapes.

Though a pile of work, way more than I predicted at the onset, the work was thoroughly enjoyable. The wood allows imperfections to be perfect. It allows my weaknesses and inexperience with wood to feel acceptable and, I think, look pretty good. My weakness is a strength! Boy, wish this concept worked for me each and every day!

The finished sign, at 42 inches wide, is something I hope will appear striking to folks entering their basement and add to a great finished space. Good folks deserve good things. I tried to deliver.

This picture was taken with a wide angle lens and the viewer looses the outer ring (you can see the dark outer ring in the image above). The dark outer ring helps to set off the light raised ring and give a bit of completion/frame to the work.

Glad to have delivered it safely to its new home and on to new stuff....tarpon stuff!!!!!!

Sunday, July 24, 2016

one can loose one's self in lettering

It was designed for a personal tee shirt. It sure is a beautifully frustrating hobby....letters! It is like drawing a face, it either works or it stinks. You can tweak it and tweak it and tweak it. It never seems done. It never really feels perfect.