Thursday, December 23, 2010

Advertising Teamwork

I took an advertising design class this quarter in which we were assigned a different project and a different team each week. Each team included one illustrator, one copywriter and one art director.  It was challenging cranking out a new ad or series of ads each week while dealing with team members. In the end I definitely had a great time working with everyone and we produced some cool stuff.

We all drew products and places out of a hat and the assignment was to create an ad where the type not only said our tag but became a part of the overall message in some other way. For instance another team did a print ad that said "Thirty Fun Reasons to Come to the Zoo" where the type was made up of thirty little illustrated animals.  The one we did for Publix dog food got slammed at my critique but was the most fun to do. We got to dump my trash out all over the floor of one of the classrooms to spell out our message.

I had trouble photoshopping to make it all readable which is why we got in trouble.

The next ads ended up being billboards as well for some reason.  The assignment here was meant to be a bit more ridiculous.  Our teacher gave us a variety of science fiction creatures that we could work with. We had to create two billboards one that was in support of our creature and one that was in opposition to our creature.  We also had to assign some sort of meaning to them.

I had fun drawing the aliens. 

This last project was actually the first one that we did.  It was for a new kind of mouse trap that is shaped like a vase on its side. You put the cheese inside and when the mouse goes inside it throws the vase off balance and it tips up, trapping the mouse inside. We had to do a series and took the angle that the mousetrap is easier in every way than the mouse trapping methods that you are used to.

When I drew these and put them together I tried to use all of the cool new tricks that I had learned in Brians class. Although I am happy with the way the drawings turned out, I am not sure that they are the best ads. Oh well.

See ya next time,


Zombie Kid

Another one of my classes last quarter was taught by Brian Stelfreeze.  He is a total legend in the comic book industry. Seriously. Google him. I dare you. After a whole quarter in his class, I still get star struck around him. I can also say confidently that he is the best teacher that I have had so far at the Portfolio Center.  Below are two of his pieces.

His class was called Propaganda Illustration and our deliverable for the end of the quarter was an illustrated propaganda poster. First we had to come up with cool concepts for our posters. I had a really hard time. Brian helped me by having me just go through a list of things that "piss you off" as he so eloquently put it.  One of the top things on my list was parents who allow video games to raise their children.  I have nothing against video games myself. I love playing them but I am encountering more and more kids who don't know much else or don't know how to play in any other way. One reason I think my brothers and my sister are such good parents is because they are so active with their kids. Anyway, my poster became a call to action for more active parenting.

I did a lot of thumbnails and finally chose an image of a skeletal kid on the floor with a game controller in his hands as his mother discovers the awful truth.

Brian first helped us break everything down to a black, white and grey composition in order to control the viewers focus.  He explained that the best illustrations can be broken down to simple black and white compositions.  A few of my test runs are below. For some reason there are two kids in these ones.

Once we had this figured out, we moved on to color theory. The whole class was floored by how simple Brian made it seem. I feel like I am finally starting to get a grasp on it despite my color blindness. Below are some test runs.

 After settling on this last color scheme, Brian started helping us with our final execution. He helped me out a lot with my crazy perspective. Here is the drawing.

I didn't get my drawing right and scan it until our studio week, so as I colored it I emailed my progress to Brian who called me to discuss things. I tried to not get star struck on the phone. Below is my finished piece.

I am so happy with the finished product that I almost feel like I am a real illustrator. The best part is that I had so much fun doing it and my panel gave me a lot of good feedback. I can't wait to take Brian's class next quarter. 


The Garden of Years Gone By

This quarter, one of my classes was called Creative Strokes.  It was all about embracing hand done type and calligraphy etc. The final product of this class for all of the students is to be a calendar of some kind that evolves from our quarter long experimentation with lettering. I found that I was the most drawn to calligraphy done in languages and with letters with which I was not familiar. This of course stems from my travels. 

Eventually, after much concepting with the class and on my own, my calendar became a representative reflection of my year of traveling. So instead of using a literal calendar to help one plan the future, my calendar is a reflection of the past that is intended to illuminate the present and allow one to move confidently into the future.   


My calendar was to have four windows, Each representing the part of the world that I was in during that season of my travel year. Italy in the summer, Greece in the Fall, Egypt in winter and India in the spring. In each window was to be a hand written story in that country's native language about a life changing adventure that I had there. I wrote out the stories in English then sent them out to my friends around the world to have them translated. At first it was going to be a hanging chandelier like my little model pictured above. 

I wrote all of the stories by hand in their native language then scanned them to shrink them down and print them onto the papyrus.  I had been working on making the little wooden windows for a few weeks in my friend's garage with his power tools. Once they were all built and put together I stained them and was ready to frame the stories in them. 

I could have just been almost finished but I decided somewhere along the way that I didn't want my windows to be part of a chandelier. I wanted them to be in a zen garden to allow for proper meditation. This of course meant that a waterfall needed to be included. This was going to be more than I had signed on for but suddenly I NEEDED a waterfall. First I did this drawing.

Then I colored it in.

Now it was time to make it. I knew it wasn't going to 
be just like my drawing, but it was a good jumping off point.

The wire tree base.

Now here it is with the pump and basin attached.

Twenty pounds of clay later
I had to do a lot of research about how I was going to make this base and how I was going to make it waterproof. I ended up using self hardening clay. I couldn't fire it because of the pump and the wire. When it dried I sealed it with 500 coats of spar varnish and a few coats of Modge Podge. During the whole process I kept checking the pump to make sure that it was working. I stressed out over making this for days. At last it was ready for the water. I poured it in and the PUMP DIDN'T WORK. It was still making noise, it just wasn't pumping anything to the top! I was so sad. Oh well. I knew it was a gamble. I figure the pump got clogged with the spar varnish.

I am still pretty happy with how it turned out. My final critique panel really liked it as well as the idea behind it. It looks really cool with all the candles burning but those pictures didn't turn out. One of my panelists told me that it was a good thing that the pump wasn't working because then it would have been too awesome. 



More Time Traveling.

Some of you may remember my big steampunk time travel theme park restaurant that I designed and built a model for a few quarters back.  If not, here is the link. Well, I had a lot of the knicknacks and doodads left over from that, so come Halloween time I decided to make a steampunk time traveler costume based on these guys above. The guy on the left is an inventor I created for a friend's video game  concept. The guy on the right is the Time Traveller from my theme park restaurant.

I put most of it together a few hours before a party the weekend before Halloween. I spent most of that party trying to keep everything from falling apart. So before the next weekends bout of parties I made a lot of modifications and added a lot of doodads. The hat is made from wire and masking tape that I covered in black spraypaint and Rub n' Buff. Rub 'n Buff is this awesome waxy stuff that comes in these little tubes and can make any surface look metallic when it is rubbed on then buffed. 

This is a super soaker purchased from Goodwill 
for 99 cents, spray painted black, 
covered in Rub n, Buff and doodads.

Masking tape holster, plastic squirt guns, Rub n. Buff, doodads

My portable time travel device: a toy jack hammer, 

The finished product

Me and my steampunk accomplice. It's all about the goggles. 


Invasion of the Color Snatchers

Last quarter, a group of students at Portfolio Center was put together to create a unique back to school display for Prismacolor Products at a local art supply store, Binders. As we sorting through all of our various ideas and concepts, someone suggested "Invasion of the Color Snatchers" as a joke. Surprisingly, we all loved it and latched onto it. Like the zombie baseball bat idea, the idea that was presented as a joke is the one that sticks because it is crazy and different. 

The story behind it became a post-apocalyptic future where the world has been invaded by horrid color consuming creatures from outer space known as the Color Snatchers. 

A quick concept I did for the aliens. Their design was inspired by Prismacolor pencil sharpeners.
The only way to defeat the Color Snatchers and restore color to the world is with products that can be found within the Prismacolor supply depot in the center of the store. The supply depot was put together using shrapnel and wreckage by a band of renegades in order to keep the Prismacolor products safe. 

Another concept I did to sell the idea to the owner of Binders.

In the end we only had about two days to put the whole thing together. It was a crazy two days filled with lots of coffee and no sleep for all of us. All we really had to work with was foam core, cardboard, spray paint, wire and trash bags. We also made propaganda posters to call the people to action against the aliens as well as newspapers to spread around the store to help tell the backstory. It was a crazy couple days but we all had a blast. 

My set design and building skills came in handy

 The aliens had foam core and wire bases and trash bag skins

This is me hot gluing the final letters on...I need a haircut

A dead drone

Inside the supply depot 
The entrance to the supply depot... under attack  

I took some videos of the process and slapped them together to music. Mostly interesting if you are my mother. 

Invasion of the Color Snatchers from Michael Schwalm on Vimeo.

It all turned out pretty cool. I wish we had more time and resources to make it look even more like my concept but I am pretty sure that that is how every project I ever work on will turn out. 

Me with one of my babies... after a haircut.