What better way to celebrate Star Wars day then with some great work by our fellow designers?
Freelance Workspace Design
The main reason most people are drawn to the freelance lifestyle is because it gives the freedom to work in one’s own personal space. There are very few people in the world who actually look forward to walking into a dull cubicle under harsh fluorescent lighting to sit for eight hours a day. Yet, without a mandatory defined workspace, freelancers run the risk of being less productive due to lack of organization and homelife distractions. But we at Modernize have a way to keep your productivity high, all from the comfort of your uniquely styled home. Here are three ways to design your own cool workspace to best meet your freelance needs.
Get Comfortable, But Not That Comfortable
No one is able to produce their best work product when they are uncomfortable. If you’re squirming in your chair after just five minutes, then you are going to expend precious energy simply trying to get comfortable. Spend some time test driving ergonomic chairs and find one that best fits your body. And if the chair’s ergonomic style isn’t your favorite, drape a furry throw across the back to add warmth and intrigue.
Comfort does have its limits, though. Make a point to get out of your pajamas every day before work if for no other reason than it will save you time when you have a last-minute client meeting. Plus, this simple act will begin to transition your mind from personal thoughts to focused attention on your career tasks for the day.
Designated Work Space That Comes With Privacy
In a standard office environment, people want to personalize their space with thoughts of home and loved ones. Now that you are working at home and surrounded by all of those things, your workspace needs to be the opposite. Add any equipment you will need on a daily basis and lots of organization solutions like a filing cabinet or an old library card catalogue, and keep the familial reminders at bay. In no way does this mean that your office needs to be boring. On the contrary, colorful artwork and an open window can do wonders to keep your creative juices flowing.
Even in the tiniest of homes, there is almost always an area you can find to create a designated work space. You will begin to experience an almost Pavlovian response of mental focus by simply sitting down at your desk everyday. If you have roommates, spouses, or children, make sure they understand that when you are in this space, that you need peace and quiet to work. Having very clear rules about your work day will help everyone in the long run.
Meeting Your Clients
If you are going to have clients coming into your home, make sure that you have an appropriate area that is clean and professional. Ideally, your home office will have room for an additional chair or sofa, in which case, the entirety of the room’s aesthetics should flow. Don’t forget to maintain order on your desk with adequate storage solutions that are appealing to the eye as well as functional. An old can, bucket, or mug is a great container for pens and scissors while adding a smaller decorative touch.
It is challenging to focus on a meeting when your dog keeps drooling on your client’s knee or a child keeps screaming in the background. So if your homelife spills over a little too much into your client meetings, consider taking those meetings to a coffee shop. Just be sure to have checked out the place beforehand to know that it won’t be too noisy and that you will be guaranteed to have seating.
Starting on this new journey into freelancing is an exciting time. Let your office reflect that energy and design it to meet your needs. Of course, everything is a learning experience, so reevaluate your office once you have been working in it awhile and see if there is anything you can change to further enhance your productivity and satisfaction.
Hand-Lettering and Typography Inspirations
Every so often, we like to get lost in the land of letters.
Paris is historically known as a center of beauty and art, inside and out.
Quotes on Authenticity, Creativity, and Kicking Ass…
Sometimes we all need that extra boost to inspire our work. Here are some of our favorite quotes on art, creativity, and authenticity. May they inspire some vulnerability in your day today!
“What would happen if we left our heart on stage every time we created anything? It’s a bust your ass to shine, honest to a fault, no bullshit, zero apology performance. If you look at the work of some of the most successful people in the world, you’ll see it as the undertone. It isn’t just something they do, it’s who they are. It’s the kind of performance where your heart and soul bleed.” — Srinivas Rao, The Art of Being Unmistakeable
“You can only become truly accomplished at something you love. Don’t make money your goal. Instead, pursue the things you love doing, and then do them so well that people can’t take their eyes off you.” —Maya Angelou
“Nothing is original. Steal from anywhere that resonates with inspiration or fuels your imagination. Devour old films, new films, music, books, paintings, photographs, poems, dreams, random conversations, architecture, bridges, street signs, trees, clouds, bodies of water, light and shadows. Select only things to steal from that speak directly to your soul. If you do this, your work (and theft) will be authentic. Authenticity is invaluable; originality is non-existent. And don’t bother concealing your thievery – celebrate it if you feel like it. In any case, always remember what Jean-Luc Godard said: “It’s not where you take things from – it’s where you take them to.” — Jim Jarmusch
“Start copying what you love. Copy copy copy copy. At the end of the copy you will find your self.” — Austin Kleon”
“I believe that you’re great, that there’s something magnificent about you. Regardless of what has happened to you in your life, regardless of how young or how old you think you might be, the moment you begin to think properly, there’s something that is within you, there’s power within you, that’s greater than the world. It will begin to emerge. It will take over your life. It will feed you. It will clothe you. It will guide you, protect you, direct you, sustain your very existence, if you let it. Now, that is what I know for sure.” — Michael Beckwith
“The advent of Google+ and the emergence of the personalized web means this is more true than ever. Brands, and their advertising partners, must wake up to this challenge and define themselves with clarity, consistency and authenticity. Otherwise they just might find themselves shouting in a ghost town.” — Simon Mainwaring
“I cannot say this too strongly: Do not compare yourselves to others. Be true to who you are, and continue to learn with all your might.” — Daisaku Ikeda
“You want to be popular? It’s easy to do. Just be a total weirdo and love yourself for it.” — Dan Pearce
“Vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity and change.” — Brené Brown
“If you think dealing with issues like worthiness and authenticity and vulnerability are not worthwhile because there are more pressing issues, like the bottom line or attendance or standardized test scores, you are sadly, sadly mistaken. It underpins everything.” — Brené Brown
“The keys to brand success are self-definition, transparency, authenticity and accountability.” — Simon Mainwaring
“No one loves authenticity like a graphic designer. And no one is quite as good at simulating it.” — Michael Bierut
What is your favorite quote on art, creativity, authenticity or building a life you love?
Time taken: 1 hour 10 mins
Difficulty: Beginner to mid-level
Resources used: Blobs font
The assigned project was to create cool and fun gig poster prints for a student union nightclub event – a big campus shindig before the kids go back for the holidays. Out of ideas and inspiration, I thought I’d raid my sketchbook for inspiration – something that I often do when faced with designer’s block. I happened upon a couple of doodles and sketches that I figured would be ideal for a winter, holiday design with a bit of an edge to it.
A few character sketches that I figured would make fine subject matter –
The doodle that gave me the main idea for the piece –
After scanning the sketched page, I brought the first sketch into Photoshop .
I cropped the scan, selecting the character I wanted to use.
I painted out the unwanted areas, cleaning up any loose pixels. Using the (⌘M, Ctrl M) curve function, I created contrast and more consistent blacks, while whitening the negative space.
I opened up the doodle sketch in Photoshop and repeated the curve clean up of the scanned image (⌘M, Ctrl M). I then created a new work path (path menu, new path) and pathed out with the pen tool (Option-click + P, Alt-click + P) the specific area I wanted to use.
After selecting the chosen path layer (path menu, make selection, “0” feathering) I cut and pasted this path into my original scanned layer.
After joining the two sketches into one file, I applied a darken mode (layers menu) on my overlapping layer. I then used the eraser tool to notch out some of the pixels to join the two sketches together.
To prepare the sketch for Illustrator, it was important to close off any open pixels.
Choosing the brush tool, I meticulously closed off any open areas. Once this was completed, I merged all layers (⌘E, Ctrl E)
The next step was to bring the cleaned-up file into Illustrator. After creating a new file in Illustrator, I pasted the sketch image into my workspace and using the live trace function (choose “image trace” in head menu) I chose the “3 colors” setting. I chose this because although it picks up the odd gray areas in a black and white image, it recognizes details that default tracing often ignores. In this sketch that was highly–contrasted, it generated a pretty even and solid image result and it wasn’t difficult to tidy up the odd grey path at a later stage anyway.
(It should be noted, that the live trace feature doesn’t work with all sketches and it’s sometimes better to path out the sketch, this particular sketch happened to be pretty “loose” and “sketchy” in appearance anyway, so it lends itself to live tracing, plus I made sure that it was correctly prepped for live trace in Photoshop.)
Once the sketch had finished tracing, I expanded the object and fill (object, expand, expand appearance).
Once the file had been expanded, I went into the image with my Direct Selection Tool (A) and deleted the background white and inner-white areas (for the purposes of this tutorial, I have illustrated this using a grey background).
After taking out all unwanted white areas, the sketch was ready for more detailed clean-up. The image actually required little clean-up. There were a couple of paths that needed closing and merging but no need for anything super-accurate due to the sketchy nature of the artwork. To clean up the missing line-work on this sketch, I used my favorite brush the “blob brush” to replace any incomplete and broken lines with clean black lines.
With all paths closed, it was easy to select areas with the Direct Selection Tool (A) and fill with a specific Pantone color (swatches, open swatch library, color books, Pantone + CMYK Coated).
Upon completion of the character coloring process, I created a new layer and drew a rectangle (M).
Using the eraser tool (Shift+E) and choosing a rounded shape, I notched out the rectangle to give it a “snowy” look.
This is a very easy trick to do and creates a nice illustrative effect.
To add some snowdrops to the design, I selected my blob brush with a left- angled brush.
After adding some snowflakes, I went into the blob brush again, and selected the opposite brush angle and added the rest of the snowflake effect.
Getting to this stage of the design gave me a better idea of how I could integrate the copy. I think in design there’s often a “natural order” when it comes to composition and by trying things out, opportunities for copy placement often arise naturally and without meticulous planning.
Having seen the design evolve, I also saw an opportunity to add some dynamic copy without having to resort to simply picking a font from a hat! So, I went back to the drawing board and sketched out some copy elements to place into the design.
After scanning the design into Photoshop, I repeated the curve adjustment process to prep them for bringing into Illustrator.
I brought the copy sections into Illustrator and live-traced each one, expanding and removing the white areas.
I added color to the copy-shape paths and roughly re-sized it to fit the space, then repeated this process with the other copy elements
I planned this design to include copy in the central area of the composition. After discovering the perfect font online called “Blobs”, I drew a simple curve shape with my pen tool (P) to add copy along the path.
Using the “type on a path” tool in the pen tool sub-menu, I added copy to the path.
After laying the central copy down, I used the pen tool to draw simple triangle shapes as word-dividers.
The copy was working out well, but I wanted the copy to fit the design shape better.
Using the free distort tool in the head menu (effect, distort and transform, free distort) I added distortion to the copy segments – expanding the appearance after each distortion (object, expand, expand appearance).
I repeated this process with other copy areas.
Once the main copy areas were finished, one of the final design touches was to add footer copy with social media info.
After creating the footer copy in white, using the Blob font, I copied and pasted the green rectangle shape I created earlier, transforming the scale and shape.
With the design almost complete, I just needed to add the club’s logo to my design.
The design was complete.
A quick checklist I always make sure I do before taking the illustrator file to large format print:
- Ensure that my artwork/artboard is cropped specifically sized for my poster requirements with plenty of bleed clearance around the edges between edge and artwork
- Convert all font elements into shapes (object, expand, expand/fill)
- Ensure all paths I want spot-colored are attributed a specific Pantone color (swatches, open swatch library, color books, choose swatch color specific to your printers requirements)
How the finished and printed poster design, printed for Roland DGA, looked.
Share your designs with us on our Flickr Pool Showcase and as always, feel free to leave any comments and questions below!
One thing I’ve come to learn about myself is just how easily distracted I can be.
Up until recently, I could barely continue to write a blog post without checking the email that pops into my inbox, or create header imagery without stopping to favorite a tweet from one of our Twitter followers. I used to think I was extremely efficient, always crossing tasks off of my checklist. But now I know that my scrambling was far from effective. I’ve found some better ways to drown out the noise. I hope they’ll serve you well, too. (Please share yours in the comments below!)
1. Prioritize based on the big things.
Once you’ve recognized that you need to bring focus into your life, take a look at your responsibilities. What is highest, not on your small task list, but that list of annual goals you wrote – with high hopes – at the beginning of the year? Start restructuring your priorities based on these. Write your year’s goals and post them up right next to your monitor. Now that you’ve reframed things, you may find a much more efficient way of getting those tiny tasks done. After all, those are the items that are getting in the way of leaving your job to freelance full-time (or whatever that dream may be).
Speaking of the little tasks, try David Allen’s famous ‘Two-Minute Rule.’ When faced with a task that can be completed in two minutes, go ahead and complete it right away. The others can wait.
2. Block Out Your Next Day’s Activities
Here at Go Media, we use Google Drive for everything. One productivity hack that has helped me tremendously is planning out my day the day before in my calendar. Something about creating those blocks makes me feel like I should stick to my word. Yes, it sounds obvious, but you can only roll your eyes if you stick to it. And bonus points if you stick to your plan and leave by 5:00 pm. (You need to go home and recharge).
3. Just Say No.
Bill, the President of Go Media, encourages us to jump out of a meeting if we’re swamped with work or fighting a monstrous deadline. He respects us and knows we’re serious when we do so. I’m not sure about your boss, but if you show her or him that you really mean it, it just may work for you too. The overall message is, dedicate time to what you really need to be doing. Time is money.
4. Vow to Respond to Email at only 1 to 2 points in the Day
As mentioned, I used to respond to my emails at the drop of a hat. I’ve stopped that. Unless something is incredibly urgent, I will wait until it’s time to check – usually right when I get into work and mid-afternoon. This gives me more time to concentrate on bringing more success to our Arsenal, the home to the world’s very best design resources (my goal).
5. Get in the Mood
My ideal creative environment and atmosphere involves a warm blanket, dim lighting and perfect Spotify playlist. The pen seems to flow most steadily from 8:30 to 10 am, when you can hear a pin drop here in the office. Where and when are you most creative? Capitalize on that.
This isn’t always possible, so when you’re not in your ideal environment, attempt to get back to that spot. I’ve found that some apps will help.
Turn off the Noise.
The very thought of using an online app to block distractions gave me a bit of a panic attack, but this is the very reason I needed it. If you’re the same way, it’s time to face the music. Try Freedom or Focus Booster.
Turn on the Noise…for a bit.
I manage our social media here at Go Media, so I have to spend time scouring the web for cool stuff, posting on Twitter and Facebook, tumbling, pinning, stumbling. I can’t be forever blocked from the fun stuff. Using an app like Stay Focused keeps me on track; it gives me a start and stop time – then redirects me back to the rest of my daily work.
6. Jot Down Brainstorms for a Rainy Day.
While you’re in no-distraction mode, head to a to-do app like Google Keep or Teux-Deux. If you’re a blogger, like me, jot down at least one possible story subject a day. If you have a really brilliant idea and the ideas keep flowing, open up a Google Doc and begin your stream of consciousness. Allow yourself to write for a few moments and leave it there for a rainy day. These brainstorms will definitely come in handy on those days when distraction is at an all time high and we might otherwise spend a very frustrated hour staring at the screen.
Oh, and speaking of to-do lists, I used to think it was fun to keep a whole list of them, due to the joy of crossing them out. Then, I compiled a list like this.
This never-ending list completely overwhelmed me, brought me to a point where I didn’t know where to begin.
In order to save myself from the to-dos eating me alive, I started following the 2 minute rule, mentioned above and began plowing through the tiny tasks during scheduled, short breaks in my day (usually around email-checking times).
So, those are my suggestions for bringing focus into an otherwise distraction filled day. What are yours? Please share with me in the comments section below. I’d love to add some new tools to my collection.
A successful illustrator and art director talks about sacrifice, shifting priorities and exclusively admits to listening to the Backstreet Boys.
Justin Mezzell is a designer living and working in Orlando, Florida. He is art director for Code School, an online learning site that helps people learn how to code. He’s also a sought-after designer and illustrator, having worked with clients like Facebook, Twitter and Google, along with magazines like Wired, Fast Company, ESPN and Fortune. He also helped make this.
Justin manages to juggle a busy work schedule with personal projects and freelance work, all while working to be a good husband and a dad to two little ones— a daily balancing act he usually seems to manage quite well. I recently spoke with him via email to find out how he’s tried to cultivate that balance in his life, how he views his commitment to professional and personal commitments and what drives him in his day-to-day work.
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I’m Justin Mezzell, a designer/illustrator based in Orlando, Florida. I’m currently working as Art Director with the amazing folks at Code School. As a freelance illustrator, I’ve had the privilege of working with some truly wonderful companies, like Twitter, Wired, Google, Facebook, and others.
You’re in a major role at a busy tech company. How do you juggle personal projects and agency projects?
The short answer is that I don’t all too often. When it comes to taking on additional work, I’ve had to learn how to most effectively balance the work I do during the day with the work I want to do at night. There was a steep learning curve on that one—plenty of sleepless nights pounding coffee. What I’ve really come to learn is that the whole “Never Stop Creating” mantra is incredibly inspiring as you’re starting out, but less so as you actually settle in to a routine of ceaseless labor. Taking breaks is instrumental to working at your best. This essentially means passing on a lot of exciting projects because I know that I won’t be able to give 100 percent to them. The last thing you want is to turn in half-assed work that bears your name on it.
As for working on personal projects, that’s something I always like to have in progress. They’re so immeasurably valuable in cultivating exploration and self-discovery within the creative process. As you take on more work (and more responsibility), you’re sure to fluctuate on just how much time and energy you can sink into these extracurricular endeavors, but having ongoing personal projects is something I’ll always be passionate about.
What inspires you right now that might surprise people?
I still prefer iTunes over Rdio, largely because I can listen to whatever the hell I want to in private. I keep my library on random most days and ping-pong somewhere between 90s pop music to hardcore to neo-80s-electronica to hip-hop. It’s sporadic and, clearly, so is my personal music taste. A coworker recently reminded me that purchasing the Backstreet Boys’ Greatest Hits collection can’t be ironic if I’m the only one who’s aware I own it.
I suppose this interview changes that.
You’ve got a busy family life, and a busy professional life. How do you make sure to properly pay attention to both both—without sacrificing either one?
I don’t think I believe there aren’t sacrifices being made in relation to each other at all times. Every choice we make is made in the place of another reasonable path we could have chosen. For me, I’ve had to become more aware of where and when those sacrifices are being made, and to be more intentional with how I invest the time I have. In becoming a father of two, it’s safe to say my inventory of free time has only diminished since the days of being single and working. But people make these kinds of choices every day, whether or not they work in our profession. Choosing to date someone may remove your ability to stay in and play video games in your underwear until 4 a.m. Getting more into working out and investing in your personal health removes time you could have used to improve your professional craft.
We won’t get more hours out of the day in any scenario—barring a catastrophic cosmic event that changes our course around the sun. All we can do (and all I try to do) is invest in the life I want to live. Becoming a husband and a father hasn’t diminished my desire to push myself in my craft. It’s changed the way I think about success—but I’d say that transformation in me has been a mostly healthy one. I’m less interested in what’s “socially” successful and more focused on improving my craft where I want to see it go, rather than to where others might want my work to head. And my affirmation of a life well-lived has become a more personal endeavor than a public one.
You live in Orlando, which isn’t San Francisco or New York City. How do you think that affects your approach to design?
I’ve had my brushes with the West Coast—I’m originally from over that way—but for me, it just hasn’t been the right move at this time in my life. Being in a city that isn’t known for design or technology isn’t always the most tantalizing thing for some, but for me, working here has been a really positive force. It’s exciting to be in a city where you can change the entire conversation of the creative community and plug right into being effective where you are. We’re a city that’s only just beginning to align and embrace the creative and tech communities; being on the ground floor of that has been both affirming and thrilling. Also, getting to be near so many colleges has been a great opportunity in forming some truly great mentoring opportunities.
Where you live is more than where you work; it’s where you do life.
The fact is, you can do great work wherever you are. And if you’re not doing great work where you are, a change in location might jumpstart some of that in you, but it might not. It’s sort of like wishing on a star: That old star can only take you part of the way. You got to help him with some hard work of your own. (Thanks, Princess and the Frog. Did I mention I have kids?)
Do you think the industry is shifting away from assuming all “real design” has to come from NY/LA/SF?
Absolutely. I see great, inspiring work coming from all over. From Indiana to Montana to Georgia and everywhere else, the Internet is making distribution a limitless variable. Your work its reach is nearly boundless when coupled with an internet connection.
I’ve also noticed companies are more open to having offices that aren’t parked exclusively in SF, and remote work is becoming more and more common in practice. Hopefully, we can move the conversation beyond designating someone as being “too good” for the city they’re in. Because they’re really not.
What’s your favorite project you’ve ever worked on and why?
Right now, we’re working toward making Code School an even more valuable product in the learning conversation. We’re in the process of reorganizing the architecture and our approach to teaching. It’s certainly the most difficult undertaking I’ve worked on, but it also gets me ridiculously excited. Being someone who went through college and didn’t leave with a degree based on anything I happen to do today, I’m really interested in improving how we cater to and encourage learning technology here and abroad. It’s inspiring to get to work on something that can actually transform someone’s life.
Who are other designers who inspire you?
I’m going to miss so many people on this brief list, but some people that I can’t help but consistently check in with would be: Jay Fletcher, Tobias van Schneider, Allison House, Kelli Anderson and Ryan Putnam.
Say I’m a designer just starting out, or trying to start out in Cleveland. What would you say to me?
If you’re waiting until someone asks you to do the work you want to be doing, but you haven’t started doing it yourself, you’re going to be waiting an awfully long time. Where you are shouldn’t be a barrier for you putting yourself out there and crafting the career you want to have. I’ve also got a particularly soft spot for Cleveland—it’s a great city.
Remember to re-evaluate what success means to you, and how you want to go about pursuing it. Our notions of success change over time and it doesn’t make us directionless, it makes us human. Pursue what fuels you, but don’t expect it to be the end-all-be-all. Look for inspiration outside of just design, and don’t fall prey to the idea that if you work hard enough, that’s the only ingredient you’ll ever need to be truly happy.
[Tweet “”Pursue what fuels you.” – Justin Mezzell”]
Anything else you want to add?
Thanks for having me and for letting me talk shop and all else. Also, thanks to anyone reading this. It’s a long one and you’ve got a lot of other things you could be doing with your day—maybe that you should be doing with your day. Don’t hesitate to say hey and if we’re ever at the same conference or place at the same time, let’s get a beer or (even better) a bourbon!
Hello, again! In Thoughts Behind the Weapons of Mass Creation Fest 6 Poster, I went over my process of researching, note taking, and inspiration hunting for the creation of this year’s event poster. Welcome to part II, in which I will go through my steps of making the poster, from sketches to the final design.
Before I start drawing, I need to be aware of what I’m visually aiming for. This year’s Cleveland design fest is slightly more upscale than the previous ones, yet it will still carry that grassroots, inspiration-driven, draw-lots-of-cool-shit feel. I must ensure this is visually represented. Therefore, the illustration should be ornate, but not so decorative that the fest is mistaken as uninvitingly sophisticated and elitist. It is a premier event, but an warm, inviting one that emphasizes inspiration and community. Okay, I’ve figured out the personality of the poster, now onto picturing the subject matter. An astral-projected, cosmic, robot Buddha is not an something I admittedly imagine everyday (and maybe I should). So it is difficult to envision what something like this would look like all at once (especially since the subject is mechanized). In figuring this all out bit by bit, I chose to start with the head.
Buddhist imagery shows this deity with a divine crown, prayer beads, and multiple faces, so I decided to utilize those elements. At first, I was thinking of having its face look like something from Transformers or Gundam, but then settled on a monitor-esque head. This works better in my aim to reference technology and the computer. You’ll notice that I only drew half of the face. Drawing perfect symmetry can an absolute pain, so to speed up the process (and not lose my mind obsessing over perfection), I sketched the one half, flipped, and merged it with the other in Photoshop. Once you have drawn the one side, you also have the other completed, resulting in complete and symmetrical form. (Two birds, one stone.)
With the head and torso drawn, I then illustrated the arm(s) and lower portion of the figure. I also added this adorning, flowing fabric to help imply the Buddha’s divinity and presence as a cosmic entity.
Depicting the rest of the leg and hand was next. Take note that I am drawing, scanning, and then drawing more of the figure. Again, I do this to maintain symmetry while it also it allows me to hone in on specific parts, yet make steady progress. When tasks are broken down into smaller, unintimidating steps, a lot can be accomplished.
Bam! The sketch of the main body is now done.
Because I’m depicting a robot subject, I want the line work to be clean and uniform. Therefore, the figure is then re-illustrated in Adobe Illustrator. Hello, pen tool (my best friend).
The line work made in Illustrator is printed out so I can draw on half of the first set of arms. I’m not sure yet what specific art tools I want to include in the hands, so I only draw the handles. Things can always be edited – added in or taken out.
On the right (faintly shown), is the copied, flipped, and aligned half of the first set of arms, completing the left and right side of the first set of arms. Art tools are drawn in on both sides. The left side shows the beginning of the SECOND set of arms.
The last set of arms is finished off with the art tools drawn into the hands. Our tiny, yet powerful artist is also depicted.
Back in Illustrator, the omnipotent force of creativity is completed. Floating outside of the artboard are some extra paths and shapes, un-outlined and editable (just incase). The cosmic robot Buddha is the star of the show, therefore most of the work is now done. The artboard is changed to the size of the poster, a green background is placed in, the color of our small heroic artist is changed to make him or her stand out, and the deity of artistic brilliance is set to a celestial gold (same gold of the “6” in this year’s WMC logo).
Add a little ornamentation, the type, and it’s done!
There you have it, a step-by-step on how the Weapons of Mass Creation Fest 6 poster was created. So buy your tickets and get ready to talk about art stuff and designy things, all while high-fiving and being inspired! Can’t wait to see you all at this year’s WMC Fest!
I had the honor of designing the poster for this year’s Weapons of Mass Creation Fest. For those who do not know, I am a recent addition to the Cleveland Graphic firm, Go Media and WMC Team, and when I started in February, I thought I would be working alongside the other designers in creating the promotional material for WMC. Nope. Instead: “It’s all you. We’re excited to see what you come up with.” Entrusting me with such important work had me both fired up and terrified. With the event poster being one of the first things needed done, I hit the ground running. One thought continuously played in my head: This poster needs to kick some serious ass.
Like with any design problem, starting with research is a good idea. I dug up the past WMC Fest promotional material, taking notes on aesthetic similarities and differences with each year. I also needed to understand the overall “feel” of the event, so I decided to chat with Chris, Aaron and Carly to receive some insight. The three of them wonderfully shared their past experiences at WMC, what it meant to them, as well as their opinions on this year’s event and the new changes it’s undergoing.
(Please excuse random doodles.)
With Jeff Finley stepping down, Heather Sakai stepping up, and a new venue ready to go, this year’s fest is bound to be a little different. With this in mind, I wanted to create a design that heralded the debut of Weapons of Mass Creation Fest Six. Yes, we are stepping up our game with a more sophisticated location. And yes, we are aiming to make WMC Fest more dynamic and inclusive by featuring creatives who are not necessarily just designers or illustrators. But above all, it is our every intention to preserve the tradition of being that grassroots-originated, premier art and design conference, focusing on community, encouraging others and defying the hand that is dealt.
I now had a more defined problem: What can I create that announces this year’s exciting changes, yet stays true to the WMC’s punk rock beginnings and foundational principles of inspiring and enabling the creative mind?
Because WMC Fest has a strong history of featuring illustration, I wanted the poster to pay tribute to that tradition by having it be detailed and illustrative, a piece that the viewer could spend time with. After perusing the internet, searching for inspiration from gig posters (which illustration has a heavy presence in) and anything related to design conferences, I arrived to the idea of using the image of Buddha.
More specifically the Thousand-Armed Buddha. According to Buddhist texts, this deity embodies the compassion of all Buddhas, having a crazy amount of arms to reach out to all sentient beings whom are in need of aid. From this I liked the imagery of multiple hands holding art tools, representing immense creative power. Also, the themes of compassion and helping others are parallel with WMC Fest’s philosophies of being a force of inspiration, support and encouragement.
Alright, cool, now I have a concept to work from. However, I did not want to lazily replicate (and bastardize) such a sacred figure by just depicting Buddha holding some paint brushes and pencils. I instead wanted to take that idea and expand upon it, resulting in a poster that is original and true to the WMC spirit. So I began to think about the term “Weapon of Mass Creation” and what it meant to me. For many of you who don’t know me or have not seen my work, galvanizing encouragement and invincible optimism have been major themes of my art. I am in love with the archetype of the “small” conquering the overwhelmingly “big.” (This concept was translated into large paintings I created in 2013 – The Power of Smallness.) I believe that being a Weapon of Mass Creation, specifically the concept of defying the hand that is dealt, very much relates to the universal experience of feeling inadequate, yet growing, pushing through, and achieving all that is enormous. Great! Another piece was added to the puzzle: the depiction of the seemingly small artist releasing the magnificently colossal creative drive that is within. So what would that look like?
An astral-projected, cosmic, robot Buddha (boy, that’s a mouthful). Of course.
(Robot reference photos)
Yes, a cosmic robot Buddha. But why the portrayal as a robot? There are several reasons, however the most honest one is that I freakin’ love robots. They’re super rad. But a more justifiable reason is that I wanted it to reference the computer and technology, which have had revolutionizing roles in art and design. The robot subject also works quite well for an illustrative poster – lots of lines detailing its mechanized form. Lastly, the notion of robots has strong ties with childhood (especially in the ‘80s and ‘90s) and the youthful imagination. They are the tools in taking on huge challenges – “I’ll just get into my super powerful, giant robot to fight the bad guy.” Perhaps we lose some of that wide-eyed, wonder-filled, childlike drive when we get older. But that does not mean it is completely gone.
So get ready to revive that drive and celebrate imagination at this year’s Weapons of Mass Creation Fest!
Continue reading “Creating the WMC Fest 6 Poster” tomorrow to see the steps of how this year’s event poster was created.
Free Poster Mockup PSD Included!
Here at Go Media, we are obsessed with poster design, because – one, it’s in our blood. (We’ve been designing concert and rave posters since the ’90’s.) Two, we’re die-hard illustrators at heart and three, it’s just all sorts of fun.
We hope you enjoy our newest collection of poster inspirations and that this post inspires you to create your own.
When inspiration hits, here’s a free Go Media Poster Photoshop Mockup Template to show off your work upon. Not a Photoshop user? Mock up your work on a free poster mockup on our site, MockupEverything.com. Go make us proud!
Here’s your download >> Poster Mockup Template (6) from arsenal.gomedia.us
Click on each poster to be taken to its source, and be sure to follow us on Pinterest for non-stop inspiration goodness!
Show us what you’re made of! Link us to your poster designs in the comments section below!
Album Design Inspiration
If you’re a fan of the ‘Zine, Cleveland’s best website designers, Go Media, and Weapons of Mass Creation Fest, you’ve heard the name Troy DeShano. No stranger to the design community, Strong Odors Artist and Illustrator, Troy is constantly creating, collaborating.
A few of his projects include the Old and New Project, a growing biblical art and design collection he runs with fellow artist and designer Jim Lepage, a photography project highlighting his cancer diagnosis and journey, and speaking engagements including his recent time on the Weapons of Mass Creation Fest stages.
Troy’s most recent work, a collaborative design project called FUTURALBUM, invites top international graphic designers to contribute re-imagined cover art for any album they choose. The goal of the project is to give the artists an opportunity to design something “just for fun” – a rare treat for those of us often bogged down with design work tasks.
Let’s check in with Troy, as well as some of his contributors, who will tell us a little more about this exciting project.
I’m not sure exactly what “inspired” FUTURALBUM, other than the fact that when I first discovered Flickr’s Internet Archive Book Images it blew me away.
I definitely wasn’t planning to start another personal project. The last thing I needed was one more distraction with no paycheck to show for it. But some recent soul searching had shifted my focus into music design, and here was this super cool resource I wanted to share with all my peers—so the idea just kind of grew out of that.
I had enough experience running Old & New with Jim LePage over the past few years, I knew how much time a project like that requires from both organizers and contributors. So I decided to keep it very, very simple. Invite friends, collect designs, post designs. That’s it.
I just wanted FUTURALBUM to be fun.
With constant anxiety around client approval, and growing peer pressure to always create hand-drawn lettering, illustrations or even your own fonts for every single project, I thought this could be a great outlet for a bunch of us to create something just for fun—like we did before graphic design became “work.”
I give each contributor great freedom to create the art they want. They choose the album, and can do multiple designs if they feel inspired. Some get a kick out of throwing a bunch together in an hour, while others invest major time into a single album cover design. By adding a few simple but strict “rules,” it challenges each to exercise that creative muscle in the way only possible when working with limited resources.
My favorite Milton Glaser quote: “The next time you see a sixteen-color, blind-embossed, gold-stamped, die-cut, elaborately folded and bound job, printed on handmade paper, see if it isn’t a mediocre idea trying to pass for something else”
When I set out to do a painting, I know it would be easier if I had this nice big canvas with which to begin, but I have the extreme limitation of my non-existent budget. In fact, I’m totally broke and can’t justify spending even a dollar on paint or brushes or especially canvas. So I draw from that folk-art spirit and just create the best work I can using whatever happens to be nearby.
What is really amazing, and I know most fellow creatives can attest is how those limitations naturally force me to be creative. We just sadly forget it sometimes, because we imagine eliminating the frustration with added resources will make the work easier—and therefore better.
Here’s another case where “life imitates art,” right? We imagine the benefits associated with more money, fancier phones, faster food, and less work will make life easier—and therefore better. What we’re really doing, however, is robbing ourselves of the conflict, the struggle, the wrestling that makes life interesting and fun and exciting and worth living. It’s in the act of overcoming (or struggling with others to overcome), in which we discover purpose and joy and satisfaction.
It would be a lot easier to paint on an actual canvas, but would that resource miss the inspired quality I might unearth by nailing a bunch of boards together for mine?
Of course for all this talk of the valuable impact of limitations to spur creativity, I’m a firm believer that rules are obviously made to be broken. Can’t wait to see the exciting ways the rules of FUTURALBUM are challenged by these incredible artists this year!
Check out the designs and short interviews with the designers below:
Tame Impala, Lonerism
Design by Karen Kurycki
Go Media: What inspired you to create your piece?
“I love this album by Tame Impala. Their music is defined as “Psychedelic rock” and reminds me of something you might listen to while tripping on acid in the 70s (not that I’ve experienced an acid trip in the 70s) but you can imagine what it might be like if you did. I wanted something that conveyed the idea of floating through space or a tunnel; or like the way a kaleidoscope works—with multi-colors and dimensions—so when I was searching for an image in the Flickr album I was looking for something that might reflect that idea. I stumbled upon this picture which was actually some sort of cellular/amoeba structure and thought it might work perfectly, so I combined it with some of my watercolors and multiplied the layers in Photoshop. I had a lot of fun working on it, thank you Troy for inviting me to participate!” – Karen Kurycki
Youth Lagoon, The Year of Hibernation
Design by Liz Schaeffer
Go Media: What inspired you to create your piece?
“I think the nostalgia, that listening to this album always give me, was my first source of inspiration. The album, The Year of Hibernation, totally brings me back to a winter where I was hibernating in my apartment and binging Trevor Power’s (Youth Lagoon) music.”
In what ways does music inspire you as a designer?
“I have tendency of indulging in genres of music at a time and what is most inspiring while doing so, is how an on going playlist can help me get into a flow state while I am designing, drawing, whatever the task at hand may be – it helps me lose track of time, in the best way.”
How did limitations spur creativity in this project for you?
“I actually love having limitations while designing – it is like solving a puzzle. Troy’s limitations, especially, I think prompted some really great and unexpected results, which leads me into the next question..”
What what most exciting for you in this process?
“Using Flickr’s Internet Archive Book Images was exciting for me. First, to search around through what in the collection resonated with me and my nostalgia with the album. Then, figuring out a way to manipulate these photos of concrete things (in my case, old landscape photos) into the abstract disposition that the album and winter, gives me.” – Liz Schaeffer
Flaming Lips, Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots
Design by Anne Ulku
Go Media: In what ways does music inspire you as a designer?
“Music creates a visual language in my mind. When listening, I imagine abstract graphics, colors, or patterns that might associated with the sounds or story of the lyrics. Music is a way to stretch my imagination as a designer. Even if the design may not be fully executed, listening is still a good creative exercise.” – Anne Ulku
Ellie Goulding, Bright Lights
Design by Christine Gerhart
Go Media: How did limitations spur creativity in this project for you?
“The limitation of this project pushed me to strip away all that was unnecessary and get to the essence of what I felt the album was about. It was harder than I expected, but once I finished once design, I couldn’t wait to do another one.” – Christine Gerhart
Radiohead, In Rainbows
Design by Margot Harrington
Go Media: What inspired you to create the piece?
“I actually got stuck on the idea of Radiohead being such a mecca for designers, like it was an obvious choice. BUT. The title “In Rainbows” immediately felt like it could be all sorts of images, and I was excited to play with something colorful like a rainbow, so that’s why I decided to work with this album in the end.” – Margot Harrington
Gregory Alan Isakov, Songs for October
Design by Nick Evans
Go Media: What inspired you to create your piece?
I have such a wide scope of music taste that it was hard to really nail down an album cover that I wanted to refresh with my design. So what I did was cycle through my Spotify list and found some artist that I have been listening to for a while and looked at their artwork and was like, “Hey, this could look a little better if we went with this.” One of the things about this project was that there were two things that were required, using the photos from the Flickr album and the font Futura, which is one of my all time favorites. So with that in mind it was a matter of finding those images that I thought could go together and really go great with the album of choice. It took a while to search through the site, but I landed on a couple that I knew in my mind that they would work. I put the album on and started putting it together. The music really helped in the process as well, especially in the coloring.
Go Media: In what ways does music inspire you as a designer?
Music does a LOT for me when I design. It really sets the mood and pace of my creative runs. Like I said I have a wide range of taste of music and so it really kind of depends on what mood I am in. Right now I am in a rock funk, so its a lot of hard hitting stuff, and that really gets the juices flowing. I would say it’s a big part, because there is not a time that I am not doing work and not listening to tunes. Its not cool not having music playing…just not right.
Go Media: How did limitations spur creativity in this project for you?
I think it really helped narrow the focus a TON. Not saying that I don’t like creating something new, but with this one, it harked back to one of my favorite design “genres” of using classic or old artwork. Growing up and becoming a designer I always enjoy seeing how other designers used classic photos and images with album art or ads, or whatever. So this was like a dream project for me. I embraced everything about this project’s limitations.
Go Media: What was most exciting for you in this process?
I think it was being a part of a community of designers that I look up to or envy and see my work next to theirs. You have to respect those who inspire you. It made my day when I had some fellow designers recommend me for the project, I couldn’t thank them enough for doing that. So I just am so honored to be on this page. I have always wanted to participate in a community design project, so this has been an EPIC experience. I also really loved the part when they tweeted out the link and said that the artwork was up on the site. I was like, YES, and the other great thing that they are doing is including the artist of the album as well. Very sweet! I think that is great of them to do that, might lead to other opportunities for the artist to maybe get noticed or be able to do some work. Two fold.
Killer Mike, R.A.P. Music
Design by David Sizemore
Go Media: What inspired you to create your piece?
“My inspiration was primarily informed by the volume of visual assets I needed to acquire. Because I wanted to do more than just a cover, I needed a series of images that would compliment each other.”
In what ways does music inspire you as a designer?
“I normally can’t listen to albums I’m not extremely familiar with unless I’m doing rote production work. I only have a dozen albums I “design to,” augmented by songs I’ll listen to on repeat for hours. So when music inspires me, it happens distinctly away from the design process. I like it that way.”
How did limitations spur creativity in this project for you?
“Limitations are great. When you don’t have to consider your typeface, you can focus on layout and composition. I was able to find base images and produce all my pieces in just a couple hours because the boundaries honed and expedited the process.”
What was most exciting for you in this process?
“Freedom from client input combined with a clear brief excited me. It was an exercise, and exercises can be very rewarding when approached with the right mindset.” – David Sizemore
Rancid, ...And Out Come the Wolves
Design by Alex Griendling (alexlikesdesign)
Go Media: What what most exciting for you in this process?
“The most exciting aspect was Troy allowing me to make three separate covers for Rancid’s “…And Out Come the Wolves”. I enjoyed making my first cover so much and thought it’d be an interesting challenge to make two additional versions, much as you would with any design project. It’s great that Troy designed Futuralbum to have a minimal amount of requirements, allowing designers the room to bring their own ideas to the project.” – Alex Griendling
Best Spotify Playlists for Creativity
Hey Go Media Faithful! It’s the new year and time to fulfill those creative resolutions. Why not start now? Get motivated by pressing play below.
Today’s Spotify Playlist was created by Lauren Hudac, our Account Manager here at our Cleveland design firm, who is known around our office for getting sh*t done. So let’s take follow her lead and do this thing. Enjoy everyone!
Lauren Hudac’s Creative Flow
More Go Media Staff’s Spotify Playlists for Getting Sh*t Done:
Volume 1, William Beachy
Volume 7, by Heather Sakai
Christmas has come and gone and so it’s time to get back in the game. If you’re feeling sluggish and need an extra boost to focus and face the day with gusto, we’re here to help.
Simply grab your headphones, press play, and prepare to get some sh*t done.
More Go Media Staff’s Spotify Playlists for Getting Sh*t Done:
Volume 1, William Beachy
Volume 2, Bryan Garvin
Volume 3, Jeff Finley
Volume 4, Wilson Revehl
Volume 5, Aaron Roberts
Holiday Illustration Inspiration
We’re all about getting into the holiday spirit here at our Cleveland design studio. From stockings to Secret Santa, we’re surrounded by Christmas cheer. But our love of the holidays isn’t limited to the office. It, of course, spills over to design.
(You could have guessed.)
We’ve collected a host of designs on our Pinterest page that make us smile, inspire us, too. We hope you enjoy.
Make sure to Follow Us on Pinterest year-round to stay connected to all that we love.
Music Monday, Go Media Style
It’s that time again, fellow creatives! Arguably, the longest day of the week. Never fear, Music Monday is here.
So kick back, crank that volume up and get ready for:
Wil Revehl Amplify