Awful Type

The world of typography is a vast landscape of letterforms and history, advertising and revolutions. In 1450 the Gutenberg Press changed civilization like the internet changed our civilization. Information became available to the general masses, moving the center of knowledge from the elite class to the middle of culture. Today, information and culture have merged and is filled with typography and will likely remain so until some from of mind-to-mind communication is pioneered.

Sometimes I think about what it would be like to be illiterate, or what it would be like to see words for the first time if the first time were right now. To look at letters and not understand is beyond my frame of reference, I don’t remember a time before I could read, but for most of my life the content captured my attention more than the type. Mark Z. Danielewski’s book House of Leaves is visually compelling yet I still did not see the letters, the fonts for themselves. (By the way, if you haven’t at least looked at House of Leaves, you should immediately find a copy and check it out.) I finally began looking at type while enrolled in the Graphic Design program at ACC. Typography with Linda Smarzik opened my eyes to the level of detail possible in type design. I began to see billboards and magazines and newspapers differently. I realized every piece of type I saw in the world was placed there by someone for a specific purpose. Mostly. Sometimes it appears no thought entered into the design of a sign. My friend James Benavides started a blog called Awful Type designed to not only point out less than crafted typography, but also as a source of inspiration for anyone who must intimately consider the finer details of designing typography to communicate as clearly as possible.

Check us out at awfultype.com and be sure to appreciate the world around you because it has all been designed for you.

Advertisements

Mindzai View

I recently completed a three month internship for screen printing at an awesome local print shop called Mindzai Creative. I cleaned screens, coated screens, took out the trash and helped at the monthly art parties. I also learned about the whole process of screen printing t-shirts and something of the day to day operations at a print shop. It was a great experience and opportunity to meet an awesome community of artists and hustlers putting in the teamwork to make their dreams work. I didn’t know what to expect or where I thought learning about screen printing might take me, but I met some awesome people and learned some new things and also gave me something to do instead of worrying about getting a job.

I had a great time learning how to make something and even had the chance to take an idea for a t-shirt from concept in my mind to physical object in the real world.

Here’s number one from the pun line.

Two Wrongs Make a Riot Tshirt I made.

Fresh Off the Press

Did I mention the art parties?

Art party crowd

Rockin’ art party with live music, live light show, live screen printing

The first Friday of every month the print shop space is converted into a gallery space where the Pabst flows like rum on a pirate ship and the art is mind blowing and local. Every month Zuzu Perkal curates the gallery and brings a diversity of art and people together. Each show has it’s own vibe and eclectic resonance.Every show has music, sometimes live, but the screen printing is always live.

Live screen printing at Mindzai Creative

Cody running the press

Bring a shirt, choose a design, watch as a blank t-shirt gets a face lift. Sean Amor, the in-house designer, creates most of the art for the live screen printing. Whether he created the design himself, or translated another artists work into screens, the finished product is always stellar.

Live painting at Mindzai pARTy

Live painting coming together nicely

Mindzai Art Show

Here is a glimpse at some of the awesome art from the second party I attended.

If you happen to be in Austin on the first Friday of any month, swing by Mindzai Creative between 8-11pm and check out awesome art, free beer and great people. Say hi to Scott Weatherwax, the owner, and if you forget to bring a blank shirt for the free live prints, Vanessa can hook you up with Mindzai Merch!

Merch table at ArTXplosion

Vanessa keeps people shirted and stickered

Because of July 4th, the ArTXeplosion party will be held on July 11th. It will be a digital showcase. I’ve crossed the line from intern to artist and will have art in the show, come check out one of the best pARTies in Austin.

Here’s a sneak peak of one of my pieces

Screen Shot

Work In Progress

Interface and Beyond!

 

Here’s a great article about communication between devices and users and the three part evolution of interfaces. Might Organic User Interfaces be the final nail in the coffin for paper?

Even though I feel I have grown adept at typing on a touch screen(with the help of autocorrect) but having one of these panels could make typing easier and maybe some awesome gaming applications.

Another direction in interface design is more personal. By measuring heart rate, the Immersion is a headset which increases the difficulty of a game the more stressed the player becomes. I’ve written about Emotiv before and Oculus Rift (recently acquired by Facebook), the Immersion feels like a nice addition to interactive gaming.

This is supposed to be the year of wearable tech, which is moving the interface out of the devices and into the fabric of our physical lives. And possibly another step toward merging with the machine. Exciting and scary.

 

Return of the Pod(cast) People

My love of podcasts is an ever evolving organism and today I have a selection of some of my favorite podcasts lately. I realize podcasts are essentially talk radio and I might be turning into my father but there is no denying the benefit of listening to people sharing information.

Type radio
The production quality is not super but the content is awesome and it is not hard to listen to. Featuring interviews with well known designers from around the world, the four part Massimo Vignelli interview is a gem in the series.

Let’s Make Mistakes
Not always serious, not always on topic, but always entertaining and/or educational. The description, “Mike and Jessie talk about design, with a lot of tangents along the way” is accurate.

Pixel Recess
This is purely fun. Each episode is around 10 minutes and consists of an interview with a designer and usually ends with cursing.

Here’s a couple of my recent favorites not related to design.

Sawbones–A marital tour of misguided medicine
This is one of my favorites from Maximum Fun (see also Judge John Hodgman). Mrs. McElroy is a doctor and Mr. McElroy is the perfect foil. They travel through the history of medicine and reveal some of sciences’ less proud moments. Of course cocaine is a great cure for opium addiction, so is drilling a hole in your head. They are pretty good about getting out a new episode each Friday and being funny.

Radiolab
A great podcast ordinarily, they went out of their way with a live tour and were kind enough to post a performance on YouTube. Fascinating, exciting, and educational barely scratches the surface of this production.
Radiolab Live – Apocalyptical

I Made It!

I have finally graduated from Austin Community College with an Associates Degree in Visual Communication with a specialization in Graphic Design. Now the real work begins.
Through the course of my education I would occasionally think up projects for myself but the grueling schedule of school, work, and family left no room to pursue any personal projects. I still have work and family and I’m actively looking for a career to apply my newly minted degree to, but now I have time to chase my wild hares.
I am excited about this next year and the start of my creative career.
My portfolio site is now fully live at petesmith.info. Like everything on the web it’s a work in progress so check back occasionally for new content.

Ideas About Architecture

Every Christmas of my life I’ve found Legos either under the tree or in my stocking. My daughter is finally old enough to play Legos with me and I am enjoying the experience as much as ever. Legos have come a long way since my childhood; from Star Wars to Super Heroes and Technic to Duplo Legos cover a wide range of interests and ages.

Lego Architecture
One of my projects over the summer was creating an annual report for LEGO. While researching LEGO I discovered a new product they recently rolled out. A set of 1210 white and translucent pieces and no instruction book. Imaginations can run wild but if inspiration is lacking the kit does include a 250 page book of LEGO experiments. Try the LEGO store to get one. I haven’t been this excited about Legos in years, but a 1200+ piece box of Legos designed to be designed by users sounds like fun to me.

Edgeland house
Outside of Austin, in a supposedly worthless piece of land is an amazing house. Bercy Chen designed a house embedded into the ground to help regulate the temperature in the house and allow the field to thrive. Appropriately the owner of the house is a science fiction author.

And We’re Back

It’s been a long, hot summer and my summer session was brutal but I managed to survive. Now my Photoshop skills are sharper, I’ve got three more pieces for my portfolio and I only have one class left to graduate. Autumn has officially started and as part of my class this semester I will be creating an online portfolio. I’m still in the process of building it but I will be sure to let everyone know when it goes live.

Now for some awesome art.

Orbit exhibit
When I first saw this article on Laughing Squid I thought it was a conceptual rendering of a proposed project but this is real. Venturing out on the net high above the ground and the other patrons must be breathtaking. The whole museum looks like a scene from the future.

Plant blueprints
Macoto Murayama painstakingly dissected a few plants and using photos, Photoshop and 3D modeling software he created these awesome blueprints.

New Van Gogh
I heard about this painting on the Science Friday podcast and it’s a fascinating story of a lost masterpiece which wasn’t really lost.

That’s all for this week folks.

In the interest of managing time and prioritizing the different aspects of my life I will only publish on Mondays with the possibility of a Thursday post if something extraordinary comes up.

Have a great week!

The Art World is the Whole World

Today I’ve got some awesome art to share.
First up is Peter Gric. His hand painted masterpieces will blow your mind. “Cortex” is one of my favorites. Some of his work seems directly influenced by H.R. Geiger, but I think the imaginary landscapes are his best work. Don’t miss this video.

Where Peter Gric is a master of the brush, Werner Hornung is a master of the pixel. Ironically, Hornung’s website is dismal, especially next to Gric’s, but the digital images he creates are amazing. I like “Going Through Life with a One Way Ticket” the best. The composition and the colors convey a sense of motion with the stages of life depicted as a moving circle.

And now for great art by my buddies.

I’ve watched Matt Morcher go from tagging around town to painting colorslposions on canvas. Recently he successfully morphed into a new style still rooted in color, like Jackson Pollock but more intentional.

Another artist whose growth from hobbyist to professional I’ve been privileged to witness is Tyler Ristow, or Pharo if he’s making music. Tyler creates unbelievable visionary landscapes and sometimes creates his masterpieces at live music shows.

For the full treatment, check Tyler on Facebook.

Hope y’all enjoy the art and I encourage everyone to go to a museum, scour the web, seek out amazing art.
Life is better with art.

Back to School Edition

Getting ready to start another semester, turning my focus squarely on design I found some great conversations about typography.

I did not get to see the talk Jessica Hische made from this text, but I bet it was awesome. I like the list of foundries and the tips for selecting the best font.

Nico Inosanto created a great display font called Fitigraph. Abundantly ligatured and fun, this font could be used for a wide variety of creamy applications.

This semester I will learn more about Photoshop and create solutions to four design problems.
I am excited and will be sure to post any highlights as they arise.

Games of the future

I remember virtual reality as a novelty and a dream forgotten. While the commercial video game industry has grown to juggernaut proportions virtual reality has been relegated mainly to military applications. Until now, or at least the soon to be now. A Kickstarter campaign for Oculus Rift made it’s goal and then some to provide dev kits of their personal virtual reality gaming system to people who make games.

The promise is a totally immersive gaming experience affordable enough for the general public. Now they are funded and presumably video game designers from some of the industry heavyweights have dev kits and are working on making games for the Oculus Rift.
I couldn’t find a single bad review from the 2013 Consumer Electronics Show (CES).
In fact, the only negative thing I could find about the Oculus Rift had more to do with the fear of what happens to people when they can be totally immersed in a video game world more exciting and better than the real world. World of Warcraft already has twelve step programs, will some people plug into VR and never come back?
As with any tool the possibilities for advancement or abuse are built in.
I am excited and cannot wait to try out an Oculus Rift and like current video games, tv shows, or books I will try and limit my immersion so I can still get work done.

You can see the Oculus Rift in action all over YouTube.

As if real VR isn’t enough, Interaxon has an Indiegogo funded gaming headset allowing users to control games with their brain waves.
I wonder if the two headsets could be combined to create a virtual world controllable by brain waves.

Wait a minute, The Matrix is just a movie right?