Friday, April 12, 2013

Posts from Underground is moving...

Howdy folks!  This is going to be the last post of Posts from Underground on the Blogger network.  This is not, however, the end...Be sure to check out Posts at its new home for more ideas, stories, reviews and the announcement of the 2013 Typeface Tournament Champion.  Just follow the link and update your bookmark today.  A special thanks to Blogger and everyone who has stopped by to check out what I have to show and tell.  I'll see ya when I see ya!

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Monday, April 1, 2013

Typeface Tournament [Final Four]

After an eventful weekend, we have our Final Four in the 2013 Typeface Tournament.  One notable finalist, Interstate, had a nail-biter of a game against top seeded Frutiger.  After a completely shocking and dominating performance over Optima yesterday, Interstate advances to its first Final Four appearance in twenty years to face off against Bembo later this week.  Ninth seeded Calibri held on against Akzidenz Grotesk, a typeface that has strung together a couple of exciting last second wins in its previous match-ups.  The overall number one seed Helvetica had no problem disposing of Officina despite a horrific kerning accident that ultimately resulted in a broken descender.  A relatively close match, Helvetica rallied around their loss to pull away and take a large lead into the final minutes.    

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Font Frenzy!!! Typeface Tournament 2013 - [Sweet-Sixteen]

Typeface Tournament Bracket 2013
The NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament picks back up tomorrow with some sweet-sixteen action.  It's very easy to get caught up in all the madness this time of year, but don't forget to check in on the 2013 Typeface Tournament and root for your favorite fonts as they battle for the top spot!  Results will be posted weekly.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Appetite for Production

Working from home everyday can be arduous at times, however the privilege of being your own boss and the reward of controlling your own destiny is well worth the exhausting work, day-in and day-out.  One of the most difficult aspects to overcome at the home office is finding ways to stay focused amidst the many distractions that will entice you all day.  From time-warping internet sites to derailing emails, your office can easily become haven for unfavorable habits and inconvenient pitfalls that will only result in failure. 

I recently received a Red Lemon Club newsletter from Alex Mathers regarding his personal tip for increasing productivity:  Creating lists of tasks both big and small and prioritizing said lists to get important things done first.  I was delighted in the fact that I have been doing this (making lists) for years - it is also exciting to know other professionals share in my fervor for prioritizing!  Aside from this, I got to thinking about the other little things I do to produce more efficient results and success in my own home studio.  So here's a list...why not?

1.  Make a list of things you want to complete the previous night: 
  • Prepping for the next day will eliminate mundane or unnecessary tasks from your list.  Also, don't waste precious time from your morning routine figuring out what you should be doing all day!
2.  Get in a morning routine that preps your for work:
  • Get up early, eat a good breakfast, get out of those sweat pants, take a shower, brush your teeth and get that coffee ready.  You have a busy day ahead of you...this will get you mentally prepared for it.
3.  Set up office hours and stick to them:
  • 7:00am-3:00pm, 8:00am-4:00pm, 9:00am-5:00pm, etc.  Figure out a schedule that suits your particular needs, and don't be afraid of "overtime" because it's inevitable.
4.  Take a lunch break:
  • Take 45 minutes to an hour every day to eat something healthy and recharge for the second half of your day.  Also, be sure to eat somewhere outside of the will help to get a change of atmosphere for a bit.
5.  Get some fresh air, take a walk:
  • Coupled with the previous tip, this brief interlude can become just the thing you need to reset and be more productive throughout the remainder of your day.
6.  Set aside specific times to check and follow-up on emails:
  • Believe it or not, inbox notifications can be one of the most distracting events on your desktop.  When they do happen, take a quick peek at the notification pop-up to decide if it is urgent.  If not, disregard it until "email time."   
7.  Accomplish at least one thing everyday:
  • Nothing is more rewarding than the feeling you get from getting things done.  Getting at least one important task completed a day will keep you motivated to continue pushing through the tough times when all else feels hopeless.       
8.  Spend time with your loved ones every day:
  • Things can get hectic at times and projects can easily take control over your free time when you work for yourself.  Always remember what is truly most important and keep that separate from the trivial.

Make sure to check out Red Lemon Club for tips, e-books, and other valuable resources for creative professionals.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Book Review: Glittering Images - A Journey Through Art from Egypt to Star Wars by Camille Paglia

Exercising my public option.
   After months of waiting, the hold I had placed on this book finally came up at my local library.  Initially Glittering Images by Camille Paglia piqued my curiosity with its subtitle: A Journey Through Art from Egypt to Star Wars.  Since Star Wars is arguably the greatest modern epic saga (and my personal all-time favorite set of films) I was interested in Paglia's theory of how George Lucas stacked up to some of the most notable works/names in visual arts history.
   This book is a fast-paced survey; an excursion that takes the reader through many of the important eras of fine art.  The chapters, progressing towards present day,  each cover an artist and work of art that helped define its respective era in just a few short, and well researched pages thus making this book an overall leisure read.  I found myself reading a couple chapters at a time and letting the information marinate for a while - sometimes until the next day.  I even felt compelled to do some extra research on some of the outside works or events referenced within certain chapters as well.  The culmination is a climactic chapter, regarding the unprecedented genius vision of George Lucas that echos the very lightsaber battle scene it examines.  The entire body of the book is less than 200 pages, however it took me nearly three weeks to really enjoy and savor the finely rationed content.
   In the introduction of Glittering Images, the author states her intended purpose: "This book is an attempt to reach a general audience for whom art is not a daily presence.  [Paglia] has tried to chart the history and styles of Western art as succinctly and accessibly as possible" (xiv).  A noble cause, to say the least, to prove that art should be known and appreciated by everyone, "...not a luxury for any advanced civilization" (Paglia xviii).  In the most essential respects, this book will get people interested in art no matter what level of understanding one has of art history.  It is also guaranteed to generate interest in the reader to further research and discuss the topics presented, encouraging and re-establishing an inherent appreciation for visual arts...a gift that could inspire the next George Lucas, Jackson Pollock or Pablo Picasso to have the courage to challenge the norms and be a creative innovator.          

Friday, February 22, 2013

Pope Art

The Pontiff's recent abdication of Pope-dom created a media frenzy last week.  The shocking news of the resignation has stunned the Catholic Church as it has not seen a blasphemous act of this magnitude since...well, remember this?

I've noticed that many other websites and blogs have decided to showcase some of my favorite papal art before I had the chance, so I will spare you the re-posting of images like Valazquez's Portrait of Pope Innocent X or any of Francis Bacon's studies.  However, the rarity that a Pope stepping down from the pulpit coinciding with the nearest an asteroid has ever been to Earth (excluding the one that did in the dinosaurs, of course), I find it appropriate to leave you with Maurizio Cattelan's installation La Nona Ora (The Ninth Hour):

La Nona Ora (The Ninth Hour) by Maurizio Cattelan

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

The Economic Draftsman on Hardware Stores

In the introduction of the book Glittering Images: A journey through art from Egypt to Star Wars, author Camille Paglia states, "Artists are craftsmen, closer to carpenters and welders than they are to intellectuals and academics..."  An interesting thought to say the least and anybody who has set foot in a foundry or wood shop can verify the validity of this statement.  Approaching the actual creation of art with emphasis on craftsmanship will obviously improve the quality of piece being produced but it also opens up a new realm of cheaper materials that may have been previously overlooked.  Consider the hardware store...where prices are usually lower than the designated art store with similar products gracing their shelves.  You might also find that some of the products at the hardware store come in a "heavy duty" variety intended for a longer lifespan...another great way to pinch some pennies.  The variety of materials can be overwhelming at first, so on your first trip to the hardware store start with something small like sand paper or a paintbrush.  I encourage walking around a bit though before you leave because you never know what you will find.  And let's face it, almost everybody in there is wandering around too ashamed to admit they are lost.

Hardware store best buy:

Blue Hawk Contractor's Paper

Price: $11+ tax

   Drop cloth, custom stencils/masks, bristol, textures, wrapping for transporting paintings, drawing, etc.

Other notes:
   Still working my way through my first roll of this stuff...well over a year after I bought it.

By the way, as of this post I am still currently reading Glittering Images so expect a full review in the near far so good though.     

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

A concise discourse on philosophies

The Rape of Europa (Titian - ca. 1560-1562)

During my formal education, a memorable dialogue in my 2D lecture seminar took place that briefly touched on a notorious period of history, that being World War II.   This specific lesson dealt with the subjectivity of art and, more precisely, the particular preference of what Nazi Germany saw fit to be considered art at the time.  Now as I said previously, this lecture briefly grazed the Degenerate Art Exhibition, or entartete Kunst, of 1937; a traveling exhibition curated (and I use that term loosely) by the Nazi party to create a spectacle that virtually condemned all known modern art as sub-caliber work - hence, degenerate.

Fast forward to present day...where a much more patient, mature and considerably wiser version of Mike the Younger has imposed a self-initiated sort of master's program focusing on art history as a minor.  Naturally the curriculum includes The Rape of Europa: The Fate of Europe's Treasures in the Third Reich and the Second World War (Lynn H. Nicholas) as the short anecdote from the aforementioned 2D lecture left a inalienable impression on his malleable twenty-something mind.  The book itself is full of fascinating history and it reads quickly for the amount of information one will get from it.  There is also a film documentary version, made some years after the book was published, which is definitely worth a watch.  As my intentions for this post are not to review this book or movie, I will just say that there is much known now about the atrocities orchestrated during World War II, and furthermore, the cultural destruction that ensued during this era was unprecedented and will forever remain a stigma on humanity and it's capabilities.  Obviously the catastrophic loss of life is the indisputable tragedy involved with all warfare. Peripherally, the works of art created by those lives - whether paintings, architecture, music, film, writing, etc. - are the embodiment of our story as human beings and should thus be treated as such.  

Monday, January 7, 2013

Revitalizing the Spirit

Robert Henri - American Painter and Teacher (1865-1929)
Something that has become an annual ritual of mine is to reread The Art Spirit by Robert Henri.  Delivering seriously raw philosophy, indulgence of pure enjoyment and also the functionality of resetting after another hectic year winds down and a new one begins, I find it to be the single most important text that any artist can have in their personal library.  It serves as a reminder of why, exactly, we do what we do (generally speaking of course). This year I finally decided to purchase my own copy because, as the public library is great, I was getting tired of restraining my self from highlighting and writing notes in the margins of a copy I did not own.  Plus I wouldn't want somebody else to think that previous to them, a maniacal lunatic had borrowed this important book, consequently resulting in deterring them from reading it (that would be a absolute crime).  Henri delves deep into the artistic psyche providing philosophical commentary on lifestyle and technical approach, providing guidance to one exploring and experiencing the world through their unique vision.  Through a series of short notes, letters and lecture-like snippets the the definition of an artist begins to take form, also developing a safe haven for any creative who has felt alone or out of place on their own journey of expression.  It goes without saying that this is a critical book that I highly recommend.  I might also add that it would be extremely beneficial to pass this book along to close family members or friends who don't know exactly what it is you do for a living (and let's face it, that is pretty much everybody in your life, even your own parents).