The weather has been unusually beautiful here in Vancouver over the last few weeks. It reminded me of of this illustration we did years ago for the Continuing Studies summer catalogue at Emily Carr University of art & design. Our old graphic design studio location was literally a brick oven. I remember that summer it felt like a million degrees in there (our current studio is much more comfortable, thank you very much).
I hope that wherever you are it is (almost) as beautiful as it is here. Get out and enjoy the sun!
My love of comic books is no secret. I have been purchasing funny books on a weekly basis since I was eight years old, and much to the dismay of my wife, my collection has ballooned to almost 20,000 issues. There is little doubt that my love for the comic book medium lead directly to my involvement in the graphic arts. When FanExpo was held this past weekend in Vancouver, anyone who has ever met me knew where I could be found.
I love comic books, but the fans that attended FanExpo really, really, REALLY embrace pop culture. The variety of costumes on display helped pass the time while waiting in the ridiculously long line-up to get into the convention centre. So many characters pulled from comic books, cartoons, anime, movies and video games… kudos to the amount of effort that Vancouver fans put into their costumes.
For anyone associated with the visual arts, events like this just can’t be passed up. It was visual overload and a great opportunity to be exposed to some really interesting material. The work that our graphic design studio produces is primarily based in print, and there was no shortage of interesting print matter to ogle. Great vintage posters, exciting books, wonderful packaging, and cutting edge illustrations; many created right in front of your eyes. Aside from an opportunity to find obscure comics or hard-to-find toys, it is a good chance to discover new inspiration. I was lucky enough to chat with the creators of some of my favourite comics and I even had Stan Lee sign one of my back issues. The guy is in his 90’s and he has more energy than my kids!
If comic books aren’t your thing (What!?!), FanExpo does a great job of offering a variety of pop culture interests, and the programming takes advantage of the TV, Film and Videogame talent that is a huge part of the industry in Vancouver. Great fun for kids of all ages. Maybe next year I’ll even bring mine along.
A few years back I discovered that I was colourblind. I was well into my design career at that point, and the revelation came to me as a massive shock. How could I have gone all this time without knowing!?! I had taken art classes all through primary school, attended two different post secondary institutions to study art & design, held jobs at multiple graphic design studios and advertising agencies, and it had NEVER come up!?! How could this have happened? I used to mock people who had “bad” colour sense and now the karma police had come calling.
My loving Mother dropped the bomb on me during a family vacation (“we had you tested when you were a toddler and you came up as colourblind”) and when I got home I did some digging online. I found a few examples of the Ishihara Test and sure enough, failed miserably. Those frustrating circles filled with various sized dots didn’t look like anything other than that. Guess I’ll never be a pilot now, let alone an astronaut… gee, thanks Mom.
In hindsight, maybe that is why I have always been drawn to bold, high contrast graphic work. Maybe it is one of the reasons my preferences skewed early on towards graphic design instead of fine art. I’ll never know, but I do know that being colourblind has never held me back. I learned early on never to trust my eyes anyway. I was taught to look at the numeric breakdown of CMYK process colours, spec pantone numbers and never to believe the colours represented on potentially poorly calibrated computer monitors. Perhaps that is why I got really good at two and three colour solutions. As every good designer knows, in order to create a successful piece of work, it MUST work in black & white before you even consider the application of colour. I always take pride in the fact that my designs would really pop in black and white (it will be great on a fax!).
Of course Sue will never let me live it down, and loves to rub my nose in the fact that “I can’t possibly spec anything to do with colours, because I’m colourblind”. Nevermind the fact that I had created award-winning designs all while never even knowing that I had trouble distinguishing between the darkest shades of red and green.
Besides, I figure if Graphic Design master Herb Lubalin could build such an illustrious career all while being colourblind, there might be hope for me yet.
With the weather finally warming up here in Vancouver, we have been indulging in many picnics. Even though I have been quoted as saying Just because it is sunny, it doesn’t mean you have to go outside, I do enjoy hanging out in the sun and snacking on great food. All the picnics got me thinking about this gem that I recently came across while digging through the vaults. This is my first printed work, back from when I was ten years old; a full page newspaper advertisement for Canada Safeway. The local paper where I grew up decided to hand over control of an entire edition to the students of my elementary school (ballsy!). Look at that hand-rendered typography, so ahead of my time! Easiest project ever, absolutely zero client revisions and no nosey “creative director” looking over my shoulder! My obvious career path was laid out before me.
I still can’t believe they actually ran it.
Enjoy the Sun!