My To Do List

As an insight into my world of design I offer up the current roster of projects I am working on. All of these projects will be finished in the next few of weeks.

- Send out final files for my most recent children’s book. I’ve already sent these out a few times, but the publisher has been making small changes and the printer needs adjustments here and there.

- Finish and deliver color separations for my Phil & Sebastian Coffee Roasters promotional poster.

- Finish art, make color separations, and deliver art for my Bonnaroo poster.

- Start an Arctic Monkeys poster

- Start a Guided by Voices poster.

- Start a Thievery Corporation poster

- Finish Tshirt design for a surf wear company

- Work on the coloring book of my art I’m doing for Scholastic Books

- Finish and deliver some art for an animation project

- Revise a website I’m working on

- Start making art for a water bottle company

- And someday I’ll update my own website.

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SketchXchange Interview and Presentation

This Friday April 4th I’m doing a sketchXchange presentation for weMakePDX here in Portland. You can RSVP here. Additionally you can read a little introduction interview here.

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#IBMFoodTruck at #SXSW

I did a bunch of posters for the IBM Food Truck at South By Southwest. As part of its quest to develop cognitive systems, IBM researchers have explored whether computers can be creative by designing a machine that can generate over a quintillion (thats 18 zeros) different recipe ideas no cookbook has ever thought of, in order to enhance human creativity. Known as computational creativity, the IBM team built a system capable of reasoning flavor the same way a person uses their taste palate. Featured on a food truck, the cognitive cooking process for creating a recipe for a flavorful meal is simple: the watson-based computer system generates millions of ideas out of the quintillions of possibilities, and then predicts which ones are the most surprising and pleasant. the system begins by capturing tens of thousands of existing recipes through natural language processing techniques to understand ingredient pairings, ingredient-cuisine pairings and dish composition, which it rearranges and redesigns into new recipes. it then cross references these with data on the chemistry of food ingredients, and the psychology of people’s likes and dislikes to model how the human palate might respond to different combinations of flavors.

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Why I Don’t Do Consignment

I get regular requests to supply my work to shops on a consignment basis. And while I used to do it, I don’t anymore. Consignment is essentially a request to stock a stores shelves at my own personal cost, with no risk to the store other than giving up some shelf space. If something doesn’t sell, they simply return it.

1) I understand that many really great stores are very small and have very little capital. But, here’s the deal, I’m small and lack capital as well. It costs me loads of money to make this stuff. It took me a lifetime to develop my style and technique. I have nearly a decade of higher education and over 20 years experience. That’s a huge investment. Plus I have bills that need to be paid, right now, and I do that by selling my wares.

2) When stores return goods, often they aren’t in salable condition. Paper is fragile stuff, and collectors are a finicky bunch. If a store sends something back to me with even minor dings, dog ears, pressure creases etc. then that is a dead piece of inventory. I’ve lost my time, the cost of manufacturing, as well as any profit I might have made from selling the print.

3) I have paying customers. It sounds harsh, but money talks. I can’t spare a bunch of inventory and a whole morning packing it up for free when other people are willing to pay for these same goods.

4) This stuff is pretty cheap to begin with. These aren’t Maseratis, they’re prints that usually cost far less than $100 each.

I hate to be a dick, typically the shop owners are incredibly nice people, but from my experience consignment is usually a losing proposition.

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Print and Pattern Book

Bowie Style of Printandpattern.com has released her third book, this one focuses on kids prints. I have a couple of spreads in it as well as the endpapers.

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Starting Out

GoMedia asked me to chime in on how to go about setting up as a freelancer. To be honest the article makes it sound a whole lot harder than in is. Really it goes like this: Step 1) get project. Step 2) sit down and do project. Step 3) repeat. The rest sort of falls into place around that. Don’t spend 8 months honing a business plan or a mission statement. You aren’t Google. Your business plan should look like this: Get projects, do projects, repeat. In the long run if you want to start a real business, not just take freelance jobs, then you want the business plan, the metrics, the LLC, etc. Right now don’t get bogged down in that stuff. If you don’t know what I mean by having a real business you might want to read the eMyth. Basically freelance is like having a job (but without a boss or any employment security), having a business is like running a McDonalds.

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Let’s Make Risographs

I spent the day today making Risographs at the Portland Museum of Contemporary Craft with artist in residence Jason Sturgill. I brought some art and paper, he brought his Risograph machine, and we went to work. The process is somewhere between screen printing and making mimeographs.

Our Office for the day

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Jason using a printout of the original art to make a printing plate

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Jason inserting the drum and ink

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Color separations on the left on the white paper. The first print (yellow) is on the yellow paper.

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Second color, blue.

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A final three color print on tag board. Notice the poor registration and residual flecks of ink in the negative space. This is the charm of the Risograph, it’s not an exact science by any means. It’s all about happy accidents.

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One of the things I really enjoyed was being able to easily experiment with paper stock. In any kind of printing you can always toss in different types of paper, but because we could fire off a few at a time and then stop and look at what we got I had fun loading all sorts of stuff into the printer. These are wallpaper swatches.

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Zombies vs. Cheerleaders comic is out

I can now scratch doing a comic book cover off my bucket list. My 12 year old self would be proud

You can find the original poster for sale on my site

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A word to the Millennials

I’ve come to the conclusion that fair number of students read this blog. Maybe they’re the only people who read it, I dunno. But this is for you.

Its seems like a day can’t pass that I don’t read some lame article by a grizzled old timer calling the Millennials a bunch of whiney bitches, or maybe a Millennial says it themselves. Or perhaps a recent college grad writes about their difficulty getting a toe hold in today’s job market. Let me explain something, and let me be perfectly clear. Being a grown up sucks. You’ve recently found yourself tossed out of the serene bubble of academia and parental support into the shit pile that is real life. The economy sucks, the environment is collapsing, the 1% are getting richer by the minute, you don’t have insurance, you don’t have a car, your expensive liberal arts degree is worth squat, and you have no prospects. It’s tough. But, before you feel too bad for yourself let me point out a few things. The boomers, who we blame for creating this mess, you know where a whole lot of them went at your age? Vietnam. And if they didn’t go they still got to stay home and survive the oil shocks of the early 70’s. Or what about that older generation who got the sweet steady jobs with benefits and the cheap houses in suburbia? They’re all WWII vets, and they grew up during the great depression. And those sweet jobs? Factory labor putting vinyl stickers on the sides of Chryslers for 10 hours a day in a dirty, shitty factory.

The words may change, but the song remains the same. Being a kid is easy. But every generation of adults has faced uncertainty and strife. You will be no different.

I have pretty much always worked. when I was 10 I started a business mowing lawns. I got between $5 and $10 per lawn. (Thats between $10 and $20 in todays inflation adjusted dollars). After that I got a paper route. It was hard work. Seven days a week I hauled a huge wagon of papers around my neighborhood, rain or shine. In the winter I dragged them in a sled through the snow at 5am in the freezing ass cold. I made about $150 a month ($300 in todays dollars). When I started high school I got a job at a restaurant next to my school. I worked 25 or 30 hours a week. I preferred working to school. By the time I left that job 5 years later I was making $7 an hour ($12 today) and they offered health care, which I didn’t need since I was still on my parents plan.

Fast forward 5 years to after college. I’m in Eugene, Oregon. That town has a shit economy even on the best of days, and at this point both the state and national economies are in recession. I’m painting houses under the table when I can get the work for $6 and hour ($9 today). However given that it rains for 9 months out of the year I’m not doing that too much. I’m designing posters for bands at $20 a pop (about $30 today) and I’m working in a crappy screen printing studio for a dirty old man making church Tshirts for the state minimum wage of $3.25 ($5 today)

I was 23, college educated, motivated, and I was uninsured and making less than I made in high school. In fact I was barely making more than my 12 year old self was able to pull in delivering newspapers. I was miserable. Living in a rented room for $105 a month, paying back student loans, and eating tortilla chips for dinner. It was the lowest I’ve even been and it went on that way for a couple of years.

What to do? The answer will be different for each individual. I moved out of that room, worked two shit jobs and couch surfed for months in order to save money and go to Europe. Upon my return I had nothing at all. No money, no possessions, nothing. I moved back with my parents, worked two jobs again, got my portfolio together and went to design school at CCA in San Francisco. It was do or die time. I borrowed tons and tons of money (about $90,000 in todays dollars), I worked one, two, sometimes three jobs and freelanced. I never slept. My girlfriend left, I never went out, I had no friends. I crushed every single assignment. I got straight A’s. And after 2 years I was hired directly out of the classroom by one of my professors into a position that paid very handsomely. By that point I was 28 years old and my career had finally started.

From there my career has been growing steadily. However, I’m like Sisyphus slowing rolling my career uphill and every time it gets a little bigger I have to push a little harder. My monthly bills are now more than I used to make in a year. I pay for a mortgage and health insurance on a family of four, all while trying to save so I’m not on the streets when I get old. The rich are still getting richer, the economy still sucks, but every morning I get up and fight and I go down swinging every night. Because being an adult sucks, but you don’t  have any other choice.

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FU Cloud

Every year I do the Flatstock poster show at Bumbershoot in Seattle. I always try and bring a new T shirt design to keep things fresh. Meet this years design, the FU Cloud. I guess it’s more subtle than I thought, I had quite a few people be all “Awwww, isn’t that cute… wait, what the fuck?” Anyway, they’re for sale on my site as long as supplies last.

Yea! Fuck You!

The shirts look like this

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