Archive for December, 2008

Review of 2008 Resolutions

Sunday, December 28th, 2008

I hope everyone had a spectacular holiday. While Thanksgiving is the favorite holiday around here, I can’t say Christmas and the New Year are miserable — any time with friends, family and food is usually a winner.

January 1st is traditionally the time when everyone sets that New Year’s Resolution. I’m a goal freak, so I’m usually repositioning my to-do’s on a weekly basis; but I did think it would be fun to publicly declare my failure to meet all of last year’s top ten.

*1) Finish the second novel in the “Sum of” series. Finished May 1st as intended, even if I did rewrite the ending sometime in June. Currently going through its third round of edits for grammar. DONE.

2) Design a font. I bought a lot of new fonts this year. Does that count? NOT DONE.

*3) Hop the pond. We took a two week trip to London, Paris and Normandy. DONE.

4) Fix the freakin’ dishwasher. This piece of equipment has remained a two story drying rack. NOT DONE.

5) Read one young adult fantasy novel a month. Er, not quite. NOT DONE.

6) Finish Marley art project. I never even opened the file. Whoops. NOT DONE.

7) Shadow Skull art project. NOPE.

eight) Send out 15 query letters. I sent out… two. FAIL.

9) Make some more hats. I never made any more hats, but I did make some Christmas prints that look pretty sweet. But… NOT DONE.

10) Make this site something worth looking at. I added an email contact in the About section, and an Illustration page. Don’t be greedy. NOT DONE (not really).

Wow. That’s two out of ten. Impressive.

I’ll be honest: the fact is that many of these were bonus projects that I would have attacked if life weren’t in the way. And while I hate excuses, I’m delighted that life got in the way, because I experienced so many new and wonderful things — and I tackled the two goals that were never negotiable. 2008 was such a great year.

Ye Olde URL Renewal

Wednesday, December 24th, 2008

I got a reminder my url expires the day after Christmas, which raises the question of whether to remain thesumofdavid.com or change it to something more vague and interesting.

The current name conjures confusion sometimes, since “sum” is a homonym and my name is obviously not David.

What to do… what to do… I think I’ll keep it for now.

And if I don’t see you — happy holidays! Be safe and have a great time doing whatever it is that you do.

Some Christmas Cheer

Thursday, December 18th, 2008

I’ve been wrestling with what to get my niece for Christmas. After some brainstorming, I came up with… SHOES! What young diva doesn’t love shoes? I found these babies at Kohl’s:

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Cute as a button, but a little impersonal. So I added a couple friends to watch her back.

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I hope she likes them. I’d wear them. Generally, it was pretty tough to pick just one pair. I could have emptied my bank account strictly in pink boots. Kids’ shoes are freakin adorable.

Pittsburgh’s City Paper Staff Picks 2008: goods & services

Thursday, December 11th, 2008

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Pittsburgh’s City Paper has recognized WearPittsburgh’s “Whiff of Mediocrity” shirt as the Best Novelty T-shirt:

Best novelty T-shirt
WearPittsburgh.com’s “Whiff of Mediocrity”
Wearpittsburgh.com
Mark Twain once said that the difference between the right word and the almost-right word was “the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning.” The task of plucking precisely the right term from the lexicon to describe something becomes more complex the more commonplace the thing is. So it would seem with the Pirates. Everyone’s familiar with the follies of our local batsmen — who are now on history’s backdoor step with a near record-setting string of losing seasons. But how best can we promote the nonsensical pleasure derived from undesirable notoriety? Local online clothing retailer WearPittsburgh answered the challenge in May with a line of shirts that will be hard to top: “Pittsburgh Baseball: the occasional fleeting whiff of mediocrity.” The shirt was designed by Pittsburgh graphic designer Rachel Arnold Sager (thesumofdavid.com), based on an idea by Chad Hermann, author of the defunct blog Teacher. Wordsmith. Madman.

Show your support — for WearPittsburgh and the Pirates — here!

Rawr!

Wednesday, December 10th, 2008

I think a lot of people have some subject they just love no matter what. Maybe it’s shoes or time travel or Shakespeare. For me, there are several: Hellboy, Mucha, Batman… but the one that outshines them all is DINOSAURS.

It could even be an intelligent passion if I could get past that wall of child-like glee I encounter when I see/think about/hear a dinosaur. Maybe if I learned some of the more exotic, lesser-known species I could at least sound smart about it. But alas: my brain regresses (back to… let’s say 6?) and I just go ga-ga. There’s a glazed look in the eyes, a dumb smile on my face, and most likely some very high-pitched squeals. So when I heard that Walking with Dinosaurs was coming to Pittsburgh? Hoo boy.

Walking with Dinosaurs is a live action production based on the popular BBC series. A paleontologist walks you through the world during the Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous periods, while 20 life-sized dinosaurs interact with one another in a grand joining of animatronics and puppeteering.

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Granted, you could dress some chickens up in little dino suits and I would pay good money to watch them run around for a couple hours; but this was legitimately AMAZING. The smaller species like Liliensternus and Utahraptor (think Velociraptor) were dudes in suits — you could see their grey legs, but you eventually forgot they were there because the creatures moved so naturally and the fog helped distract you from the part that wasn’t dinosaur.

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The bigger species — Stegosaurus, Ankylosaurus, Torosaurus (think Triceratops, but bigger), Mama T-Rex and the massive Brachiosaurus — were “driven” by a man inside a tiny car-like mechanism at their base, while the more delicate actions were controlled remotely from backstage. Even if you didn’t care much for dinosaurs, the puppeteering aspect could have fascinated anyone. Their movements were natural, fluid, kinetic… they were very convincing.

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The set was simple. There was a giant rock continent in the middle that split and migrated according the Earth’s continents of each period. When plants became more prevalant, the perimeters of the ring and the continents sprouted giant inflatable foliage, which was a superb way to translate the arrival of this new predominant lifeform — it looked like they bloomed when they appeared, and they wilted convincingly when volcanic shifts occured. The music was dramatic, fun and appropriate. Also, a surprising amount of detail came in the lighting. Whoever directed the lights for this show did a phenomenal job — it conveyed large-scale geological shifts and general weather with ease and beauty. It could have easily been corny, and it wasn’t.

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The most impressive part was definitely the realism of movement, however. I only took still photos — you can check out some footage of the show here. It was darned impressive.

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I could go on and on and on. A coworker asked me about the show on Monday because I’d been so excited about it — he didn’t know what he was in for. I proceeded to give him a detailed breakdown of what happened, which species were involved, and how freakin’ cool it was. If it comes to your town and you have any interest in dinos or puppets, I highly recommend it.

And this is an Ankylosaurus:

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I want to hug him and squeeze him and take him home.

Let’s Play a Game

Tuesday, December 2nd, 2008

While I try to keep this blog centered around various escapades in illustration, design, art and storytelling, I like this idea too much to pass it up. So, behold: a general post about general stuff.

The game: take a letter assigned to you by another blogger and write 10 things of your favorite things that start with that letter. My assignment comes courtesy of My Brilliant Mistakes, and it has to be the hardest letter of all the letters in the letter show.*

10 things that begin with “W”:

Weather: I have always had a fascination with weather. Storm was among my favorite X-men growing up, and I spent several recesses in third grade trying to convince people that I could make the wind blow. I’ve never seen a tornado in real life, but I forgive the movie Twister all of its other faults because of that big bad F5 at the end. The simplicity of battling moisture, hot and cold air and the varying results is darned interesting. And it’s sheer scale often humbles the human race.

Water: I’m not particularly good at swimming, but I do like the water. It’s more of an elemental thing, I think: of earth, wind, fire and water, I feel more earth/water than any of the others. Also, is there anything more relaxing than a plain old hot shower? It helps stress, a cold, warms the bones from waiting for the bus in the winter for too long… Get yourself a smelly soap and life is good.
w-letter.gifW, wearing Caslon. I know I’m supposed to say Helvetica like a good little designer, but I do like me a nice serif, too. If I had Bauer Bodoni I’d post that one, but I don’t have it on my home machine. Fonts make my print world go round, and “W” — in any form — does its part.

Weezer: No band will improve my mood like Weezer. No matter what color the album cover, Rivers Cuomo is always some shade of harmless crazy. Pinkerton’s “El Scorcho” is a fave. I can’t dance, but it makes me feel like if I’m just waving limbs around the motions will match the music.

Wine: My future as a sommelier is looking dim, but I can still enjoy the stuff. My palate is not particularly refined: bottle, bag or box –it doesn’t matter. As long as it’s red, I’m usually a happy girl. Pair it with chocolate or beef and I’m yours forever.

Writing: I might not blog enough to be considered savvy, but at least one night a week I’m camped in a coffee shop somewhere working on the current manuscript. I am a sucker for a good story. It can told by words, graphics,  music, dance… Writing is one way I can join in creating — whether it’s my story on this blog, or someone else’s story on my hard drive, I am frequently type-type-typing away.

Wacom: It took a while to get used to, but I lurve my wacom tablet. If you go to my illustration page, everything showcased was done using it. I can create subjects that are more fluid and detailed than I could with a mouse. I still use a mouse, of course, especially for the day job, but I have to say: the wacom is my weapon of choice at home.

Waffles: I have maybe three waffles a year, but I like it that way: the infrequency adds to the deliciousness. Any food that has dams that hold in butter and syrup are a winner in my book.

Watercolor: I can’t watercolor, but I sure respect those who can. There’s no wriggle room at all, so anybody that can pull off a piece gets a high-five from me.

Watchmen: Alan Moore’s graphic masterpiece. It’s been a couple years since I read it, but I’d like to do it again by the time the movie makes it to theaters in early 2009. While I am apprehensive about whether the film can live up to the novel, I still have a fan’s obligation to see it translated onto the big screen. …even if you find me at a bar afterwards, drinking to forget.

*Except for perhaps the letter “X”, but sometimes I’m whiny, which begins with our magic letter. Wahoo!