Saturday, July 25, 2009

endless summer? I hope so

July 25th, 2009

My awesome board has arrived! It's a Rayne Hellcat with Randall R11 180 trucks and 75mm Orangatangs. The wheelbase is a little longer than the Big Red X and the board is a little wider. It is seriously the most comfortable board I have ever stood on. The trucks are incredibly turny, but still stable at moderate speeds. I'll need to tighten them up more for the big hills, but they have been great so far for riding downtown and hitting parking garages.

Look at is glorious.

I love the queen of hearts graphic on the bottom (maybe it's king of hearts, but I'm a girl, so I say queen). It came with a roll of clear grip tape, but I've always hated how clear grip gets nasty and grungy looking, so I decided to go with black instead then cut a design to make it more personal.

Here's a couple shots of the finished design:

It takes while, but it's not too bad if anyone out there wants to give it a try. The trick is to flip the grip over and sketch out your design on the back (in reverse/mirror image), then cut it from the bottom with an exacto knife. Grip tape eats exacto blades for breakfast so have extras on hand. Getting the tape on without ripples can be tricky. I've found that it's a lot simpler if you start at one end and peel away the backing as you go down the board instead of peeling off the backing all at once then trying to get the whole sticky mess to cooperate.

After the grip is stuck down, use your fingers to push it down around the edges all the way around the board. Instead of trying to cut a perfect outline with your exacto knife, run a screwdriver around the edges to score them (use the metal shaft, not the tip). The friction will wear away the grain of the grip tape and you'll be able to peel away the excess leaving perfect edges.

I'm looking forward to another few months of good skating weather so I can break it in properly. It's not a coincidence that I decided to take a week off work the same day this arrived. (^_^)

Friday, July 17, 2009

tracking language trends on Facebook

July 17, 2009

I'm probably a little late to the game, but I've just discovered a tool on Facebook that will help me track the popularity of my "10 Nicknames" note. (Quick refresher: the "10 Nicknames" note is a fun little experiment I cooked up to see if I could knowingly create viral content on Facebook). The tool I'm going to use is called Lexicon and it includes a search function that creates a graph displaying the the frequency of discussion for a topic.

Facebook says:
  • "Lexicon is a tool to follow language trends across Facebook. Specifically, Lexicon looks at the usage of words and phrases on profile, group and event Walls. For example, you can enter "love, hate" (without quotations) to compare the usage of these two words on Facebook Walls. You may enter up to five terms, where each term can be a word or two-word phrase consisting of letters and numbers."

When I'm ready to take a look at the data for my note (probably in a few more weeks), I can just input the key terms into the search box and see if there was a spike in usage for related language.

Huzzah! That's so easy! I love it! I exclaim a lot!

Then, once I have my fancy graph, I can decide whether or not to release my second note test (a boring note instead of a fun one). Based on the data from both notes I can hopefully create a baseline for future tests.

Here's a fun example from some of their suggested search terms. It is a side-by-side comparison of "party tonight" and "hangover." Notice that there's a spike in chatter about parties on the days leading up to New Year's Eve, followed by an even larger spike in talk of hangovers on New Year's Day.

Good times.

You can learn more about Facebook's other marketing tools on the Marketing Solutions page.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

hair know you've got it

July 16th, 2009

I promised photos of crazy hair and the dress I made, so here they are:

This was my hair test to see if I could actually make large hair happen without hair-frying disaster...or accidentally getting AquaNet in my eyes.

This is Cindy and me all dressed up with somewhere rad to go. I managed to break my necklace during the show (too much jumping around), but the dress miraculously held together, and the hair didn't budge.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Paint it Black and Post it Up

July 14th, 2009

In honor of the awesome Reverend Horton Heat show I'm about to see tonight, I'd like to talk a little about rock concert posters.

I love rock posters. The in-your-face artwork coupled with clean lines and bright colors catch my eye every time. A lot of the posters that I like are screenprinted or made to look like they are using PhotoShop effects (like grunge erasers or brushes). As in my own art, I appreciate the blending of modern and traditional technique.

Here are a few from The Rev that I like:
Any poster (not just a rock poster) has to be evocative. It has to draw in the viewer and provoke a response, and it only has a fraction of second to do so. In my case, the poster on the far right in the photo was enough to bring me to a complete stop while skateboarding by The Knitting Factory downtown. It instilled me with a strong desire to drink alcohol and rock out. A concert poster has the to make the viewer feel the music and want to see the show, or in the case of collector posters, remind them of a show they've already seen.

If you are designing a poster for a rock show, chances are that you'll choose a black and red color combination. Just for fun, I did a little sniffing around online to find out why this is such a popular choice. I already knew that black has associations with death and evil, and red is associated with blood, passion and sin.

What I didn't know, (or didn't remember from Social Studies class) is that red and black are heavily associated with socialist movements and anarchism. The Wikipedia told me the following things (thank you wikipedia, for you are a kind and generous god): "After the rise of socialism in the mid-19th century, red was used to describe revolutionary movements. Red and black are colors associated with anarchism, and, specifically, anarcho-syndicalism. Also, Black and Red, was a radical Marxist printers/publishers group that Fredy Perlman was involved with." So it makes sense that rock and roll music, which was considered highly radical and subversive when it first emerged, would carry associations with other fringe groups (fringe like on-the-edge, not fringe like cowboys).

As a recovering a goth/punk kid, I have a predominantly black wardrobe peppered with plaid and the occasional shiny vinyl. I could say that I'm just naturally drawn to these things, but it's more likely that I've been socially conditioned to liking them based on who I choose to hang out with and the music I listen to. I blame Johnny Cash and the Victorians for the black clothes. I'm not sure where to place the blame for plaid, but someone needs to take the fall for a pattern that flatters absolutely no one. Anyway, now I'm off topic. In keeping with tonight's rockin' theme, I made myself a black polka dot mini-dress that I will combine with cherry-red accessories. I'll also be attempting giant, rockabilly, pin-up girl style hair.

Photos should be up tomorrow for those who like a good laugh.

Further reading: is a fantasical site to check out tons of collector-quality posters. If you are just interested in looking at the artwork and not in owning an original, there are some great poster anthologies available at most bookstores. Check out The Art of Modern Rock or Swag 2: Rock Posters of the '90s and Beyond.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

You, by any other name.

July 7th, 2009

This is a social experiment of sorts.

A while back, I filled out a "25 things about me" note on Facebook. Unlike the countless surveys and product questionnaires that come through my mailboxes (real life and internet-based), I was excited to do it, I wanted to sit quietly for an hour and think about my responses. Each thing that I wrote meant something to me, and I wanted it to be exactly right...then I forgot all about it.

Until a few days later when I noticed something strange: Every person on my friend list had also filled out the note, and each one had obviously taken a sizable chunk of time to really think about what they would say.

Big surprise; we didn't all flock to fill out a note about Pepsi or Coke, we didn't rush to join groups for good causes (even if we believed in them), and we didn't clamor to suggest new flavors of chicken for KFC (at least I didn't); I filled out the "25 things" note because it was about me!

We love to make things about ourselves. In fact, (and this will blow your mind) sharing information about design and advertising is not why I like to blog. I like to blog because it's about me! Who's picture is that over there? Oh my gosh, IT'S ME! I love the internet!

I love to create online personas. I love to fill out the "About Me" section on a social profile. I love it when people comment on my silly status updates. If you aren't paying attention to me, I want to know why, and I want to know now.

...and I bet you'd want to know too.

I also bet (because I'm obviously the betting kind) that whoever created the "Farm Town" Facebook application is kicking themselves for not branding the experience. I'm surprised that no one thought to sell advertising space on a game that allows users to create tiny versions of themselves and live a virtual life. Virtual lives call for virtual products, and my Farm Town avatar would be just as happy to plant Del Monte sponsored corn as it would to plant generic corn. Perhaps my avatar would even pay a little more for the privilege of planting organic corn, if the option existed. However, if Farm Town added advertising now, I guarantee there would be an uproar, because you can't change the rules after the game begins. When corporations started moving into games like Second Life, users started moving out, or at least letting it be known that they weren't happy about the commercialization of the game.

Another popular game, YoVille, is branded to the hilt (300 yocash for $50, what a deal!). But it can be, because it started out that way. You can't walk your avatar two steps in the virtual world without tripping over a product or being bombarded with requests to invite your friends (and send them gifts with your virtual cash that's not so virtual when it comes it comes out of your real life bank account).

Work all day at your game, then trade your real money for fake money. Makes perfect sense, right?

Why do people put up with that level of advertising in a game? Because it's about them.

If only I could find a way to make myself about you...then you would be about me too. So here's a start:

Just for fun, I'm going to start a note on Facebook that asks people to share a little about themselves and watch to see if/how it spreads. A few weeks later, I'm going to start another note that asks about something that isn't personal (not sure what it will be yet), and I'll try to measure the difference in response to each topic (no actual science will be involved, I might make charts and graphs, but they'll be made from macaroni and Elmer's glue). So there's me, taking an active interest in you, in hopes that it will prompt you to take an interest in me (via my blog, or the band's webpage, or whatever).

I know absolutely nothing about what level of information other people are willing to share with the world, though it seems they will share anything (judging by what I see on most blogs and social networking pages). In order to make as accessible as possible for a large number of people, I'm picking something common and unoffensive (not "how many sexual partners have you had" or "what's your grossest habit"). Nope, nothing like that, I'm asking about nicknames.

All I want is a list of nicknames you've had over the course of your life, who gave you the name (if you remember), and the significance of the name. Simple, and all about you.

I'm going to try to observe and report the results by staring at my facebook feed and seeing who's posting, and maybe doing some Google searches (again, "selina science" - not science for realsies - science for winners).

Thursday, July 2, 2009

getting animated about illustrating

July 2nd, 2009

Lately I’ve been thinking about getting back into illustrating books. The two books I’ve worked on so far were really fun projects, but I didn’t actually have to work to land the job. The first book was part of my college credit, then we all just decided to stick together for a second book.

I’m very excited about getting into illustrating as of right now (that's how it usually goes when something is new), but I'm not sure how aggressively I want to pursue it in the long term. I might not have the stomach for this kind of adventure. Working with a client is very different than drawing for yourself, or even drawing for work at my day job. The scope of a project and the expectations of the client aren't always as clear with freelance work as they are with a 9-5 position. The procedures and task management systems in place at R&T make it pretty clear when work starts and ends, what the task is supposed to be, and what is expected of each team member. Freelance work is more like free falling off a cliff into a canyon of pointy deadlines. No one told me how to pack or deploy my fact...I'm not even wearing one.

I might go ahead and illustrate my own book then try to shop it around to a publisher. I did find some great tips on getting started with children's book illustrating on this website.

My book idea is an illustrated poem. It's somewhat of a nonsense poem, but it does have a message and I think it will be really fun to create the artwork. Since I've just started learning to work with acrylics, I'm going to try to do these will paint instead of my usual colored pencils or digital work. This is a great opportunity to push myself because I have nothing to lose.

I learned online today that a standard children's book is 32 pages because the pages need to be a multiple of eight to work best for the press (this is the same rule we use for our catalogs at Rings & Things). That's a whole lot of art.

My goal is to complete the first draft by the end of the summer (by September). Only time will tell if I actually stick to that goal, but I'm hoping that putting it in writing will give me extra incentive to stay with it.