Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Retraction - Imagine: How Creativity Works by Jonah Lehrer

Today, I unfortunately have to retract my previous statements and recommendation of Imagaine: How Creativity Works.  When I read this book I was impressed at the substantial scope of both the topics and people covered.  The comfortable pace and language made it an enjoyable way to learn about some truly fascinating ideas and, at the time, I appreciated the seemingly honest effort to objectively analyze the very personal and intimate moments of creation.  The most interesting part of the book (the part that hooked me at least) was the anecdote of a young Bob Dylan struggling with his own creativity.  As it turns out, the Dylan quotations in this opening chapter were fabricated and the entire validity of the book has been compromised. 

Though I am very disappointed that one of my recent favorite books has been discredited, I'm not going to stand on the proverbial soap box and berate Mr. Lehrer for making up these quotes, or lecture on ethics or the immorality of plagiarism (yes...even if it's with your own work).  Since the exposé he has made a public apology, resigned from his staff writing position at The New Yorker and jeopardized his own meteoric rise to journalism fame.  Furthermore, Imagine: How Creativity Works has been recalled by the publisher and has virtually disappeared overnight from bookstores, so I'm optimistic that the seriousness of this situation motivates him to straighten out these facts and be more accurate in the future.

Read the Tablet Magazine article for the full story as uncovered by Michael C. Moynihan.            

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Marketing for the Visually Inclined

Do the tomes upon tomes of marketing theory books at the library intimidate (bore) you?  Admittedly, their are some very useful marketing books out there applicable to illustrators and other creative industry professionals.  But if you have a limited time budget, check out the Noob Guide to Online Marketing for an aesthetic info-graphic of a marketing campaign's life cycle.  You may just find it useful...or at least entertaining.  Enjoy!

Monday, July 16, 2012

The Education of the Economic Draftsman

Have you made the upgrade to Adobe® Creative Suite® 6?  If you have, there are many free resources on the internet that exhibit the new features that come along with the new software - simply perform a search on Google, YouTube, or take a look at some of the free videos available through Adobe® TV in the learning resources section of their website.  While providing valuable information many of the free tutorials out there, however, are either very brief or tailored to a very specific function of the software.  These tutorials can be useful if you're diligent enough (and have the spare time) to find an acceptable curriculum amidst the many insignificant and insufficient "walk throughs" available.  But don't get me wrong, there are many applicable and professional quality tutorials out there for free and I frequently reference them. 
   Another possible solution?  Perhaps purchase one or more of the many textbooks that highlight, in depth, all the ins and outs of CS6.  Retailing at $30-40 per book will get expensive but the trade off is potential expert level knowledge.  If it better suits your personal learning style, this direction may be a perfectly viable option.  If these books don't fit into the budget, there are also many relatively inexpensive options obtainable in the periodical or news stand section of the local bookstore.  One that I recommend is the Creative Suite Masterclass put out by the makers of Computer Arts (pictured above).  This particular publication covers Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign and After Effects.  Lessons include brief overviews of the new features of CS6, the Top 50 master tricks for each program, in depth tool set breakdowns, and access to online video tutorials by industry professionals.  Note: This is a British magazine and the video tutorials are indeed performed by British design professionals - complete with very thick accents - so there may be portions of the tutorials that require playback to decipher what they are saying.  Also don't be distracted while reading as the British tend to favour the use of colour.  Priced at $25.99 (retail) the Creative Suite Masterclass can be seen as slightly pricy for a magazine, but if you look at it as a wolf in sheep's clothing...or a book in magazine format...the cost is easily justifiable.  If it's not your cup of tea..a-hem...there are many other publications to choose from.  Again, decide what works best for your particular learning style.
   The resources are numerous in this age of information and knowing, as they say, is half the battle.  The other half is positively applying this knowledge through experiencing and experimenting.  In comparison to picking out the proper learning materials, gaining a full understanding of the Adobe® Creative Suite® 6 is all about figuring out what works (and what does not) personally.  Persistently practicing will eventually lead to a comfort level that will make this particular software a very powerful extension in your creative arsenal.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Come and play at Illustration Friday!

Illustration Friday, the funnest creative website around, has recently undergone a make over.  Not only has the site itself gone though some changes, the formerly plain text emails have made the jump to more aesthetically pleasing and easily navigable HTML emails (complete with graphics, links, the weekly winner and, of course, the weekly topic).  So whether you're feeling bogged down or just want to have some fun, come check out Illustration Friday and participate in "a super fun weekly artistic challenge."       

*for those of us, including myself, who thought funner or funnest were unacceptable grammatically, here is an excerpt from my computer's dictionary.*

adjective ( fun-ner fun-nest) informal
amusing, entertaining, or enjoyable : it was a fun evening | what's the funnest part of wakeboarding for you?

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Compositional Warm-ups, the breakfast of champions

My sketchbooks are arguably the most important resources available to me in and out of the office.  Consequently, no matter where I am, there is always my travel size sketchbook in my back pocket (unless of course I'm drawing in it, then it works better open and in my hand).

Some of my Moleskine® cahier journals (travel and large format)

I like to start everyday with some compositional studies over breakfast.  In this exercise, I use simple shapes (circles and squares) just to explore randomly assorted layouts and relationships within these patterns.  By eliminating subject matter, I can focus exclusively on composition getting into a mindset that will transcend into all other drawings and paintings throughout the day.  Taking this fifteen or twenty minutes to explore visual rhythms often saves me valuable time later when working on more complex images, creating a somewhat subconscious recognition of what works and improving the caliber and speed of the overall editing process.

Note how the shapes of these studies are very simple and often not developed in quality.  As stated earlier, these are purely exercises in composition to "warm-up" for the rest of the day.  I like to think of it as stretching before a run. 

For more in depth studies and lessons on composition I highly recommend getting your hands on a copy of the book Composition by Arthur Wesley Dow.