Inspired by a Massachusetts Headstone, Q. Cassetti, 2011, pen and inkOnward! It was a quiet day yesterday with projects and nonpaying jobs. I worked on the Hangar work and Rob worked on the bathroom imaginings. Kitty slept and relaxed. Alex visited with friends. I got a little bit ahead, but now, back to the drawing board with late late thinking and amendments.

The snow is melting…as we continue to get icy flurries that dust the mud piles. We are looking at the season of mud in front of us…We all just hope that we can move forward with the brighter and longer days. We have had enough of the miasma of mud and ice.

Thanks to the intellectual salad bar that the iPad provides at quiet time, trolling or shopping for cool ideas surface things that are out there that are wonderful, interesting, useful and thought provoking. Here are some new cool discoveries:

In the tradition of Rip Van Winkle, I always find myself shaking my head and feeling like somehow I missed it again…and this emerging approach to type for the web and mobile devices (the WOFF Standard). The blog, “all Blogging Stuff” highlights some of these changes and resources for Web Typography in their entry (03/12/2011) “8 Essential Web Typography Resources.”

I also found this wonderful website: The Grid System, a resource and forum for grid systems. I love grids and the way it formats and puts bones into any publication or design program. And with a  Josef Muller-Brockman quote to open this site (I mean, he is the MAN)—how could any girl resist?

“The grid system is an aid, not a guarantee. It permits a number of possible uses and each designer can look for a solution appropriate to his personal style. But one must learn how to use the grid; it is an art that requires practice. ”   Josef Müller-Brockmann

83 Awesome Links for Cartography Geeks>>

Teehan+Lax speaks about “Designing faster with a baseline grid” by Pierre Marly and even provide a grid to download (a 960px grid system designed by Nathan Smith) as tryout.

Love the writing and simplicity of Graphic Mac/ Smart Typography Tips A terrific starting place. I wish I  had written this.

And, totally off topic, but part of the salad bar concept (this is the pudding next to the vinigrette), The Digital Atlas of Roman and Medieval Civilizations from DARMC/ Harvard.

And now, to move onward to cook dinner.

Let the Sun Shine

Sun illustrations by Alexander Girard.Sometimes the best stuff is the stuff you do when you back into it. I mean design/illustration work. Not, the car. I have parking lot and driveway accidents all the time (read, bang into stuff when you back into it…a millstone, a tree, you get the idea)—but I prefer to bang into stuff when I cannot figure it out. Case in point. I have been mullling over this image for a really wonderful company to be. Its a wood fired artisan bakery that will be using Farmer Ground Organic Flour to produce bread and pasta. The concept is way beyond just the food, but the community of supporters, believers and consumers in a socio-political way with the community driving the food and the food driving the community. I have been looking at type lockups with images and its clean and nice…but its bleh. However, after working on their website, thinking about content and grid, copy and images, this goes here, that goes there (the laundry sorting of content) within the context of a fairly tight grid….it came to me that I should make the mark more fun. It should have a “hand” that feels like a linoleum cut…with a more fun font…and then applied in a very clean, organized way. 

Thus, the inspiration for me goes in the way back machine to Alexander Girard, graphic designer illustrator for Herman Miller. Early in my career, I was inspired and bitten by Girard but had to put that passion in the back of my corporate mind. But now that I have been reborn as another person, my old friends can come to the fore especially now that the Eames and Girard are fashionable again. Out with austere, in with decorative! Yay and Yay again! House Industries has Girard inspired fonts (just purchased). I may buy the Eames collection too…as it really floats my boat. Saracen (a latin font) along with Acropolis and Knockout have been my go tos…and thanks to my mentor, Murray Tinkelman, I am thinking about what used to be called “display fonts” in a different way. I plan on using the blob brush/eraser/path tool to make a cruder version of what Girard did. Should be fun.

Monday first Monday in November.

Working a bit on the Star poster. Its a hand holding the star (which up until now, they have not done one like this)--with some little flying spirit effigies in the background. Not sure on the coloration, and may put a little banner with the word "Onward" or something along that line in the layout. I am planning on a tone on tone thing in the background/some floral insanity hopefully. But, this is the beginning (as you can see the star is still being worked on.

Yesterday afternoon, I generated dinner for the week: a pot of chili, 2 pans of lasagne, a shepherds pie (with leftover mashed potatoes from last week and the left over browned meat for the chili), along with roasting 4 chicken carcasses with leeks,carrots, celery and leftover parsley stems for stock. It was a cooking afternoon of cranking. I feel like the cook has been here and all I need to do is pop it in the oven and not have to scratch my head and wonder what I was going to serve up. It was a great exercise in opening up boxes and bags to also see what weathered the constant summer infestation of "flour" bugs. I just hate them...but, those bugs force one to review, compost and or devour quickly all flour related food as they have the ability to dig into any vessel (except for mylar sealed packages).

It was deadline on top of deadline today. So much so that I worried about it from around 3 a.m. until 5:30 a.m. without any real solution other than to call the client and ask her to help us prioritize the emergencies that were heaped upon each other. That drove a lot of sanity for us...and surprisingly, we got through quite a bit of the work that was there. Tomorrow, I feel I can catch up and get back to zero/ or at least a levelset I can handle. I laid out 2 dozen slides from scratch, amended a logotype for the Museum, reviewed a bunch of stuff, reconfigured final art for a tradeshow exhibit skin, and began a layout for a tradeshow "abstract" paper. Numerous emails and confirmations along with a few scheduled calls. Yikes.

And, now I need to worry about tomorrow. Also, need to worry about Christmas, cards and the whole shebang around that. And, did I mention the taxes due in January? It just keeps coming. Bring it on... I will try, try very hard, to be ready!

Wednesday catchup

Rapid fire blog entry this morning. Interesting news. I have my work on Behance, a cool creative resource/social networking site...and I got an interesting job (albeit gratis) that came across the email. There is The Star of Bethnel, a pub in East London that has a poster program that they ask international artists/illustrators to submit art for. They have a good deisgn firm doing the branding--and they came across my work on Behance and want me to do the December poster...anything I want. How fun is that...Rob thinks I should go totally Memento Mori on it... I am thinking more a la valentines with Fraktur angels as it is December and the English don't really have an issue with Christmas as the December Holiday.

Work here has been from fire drill to fire drill...the quick, drop everything approach to no planning and trying amidst the chaos to not let anything slip through the cracks. I have been carless for well on to two weeks which is making me a bit of a princess in the tower--- with work, cooking and general house stuff keeping me land locked. Timmy, our painter, spent the better part of Monday getting a small cherry picker into the back yard to paint the roof trim of the house. As I hung up the phone with another rush completed, my mother in law came in to tell me " Timmy is up in the air". What? And I need to be the adult for this too? So, I went outside to see that yes, Timmy was up in the air--with the cherry picker somehow stuck--locked so the mechanism wouldn't work. Everybody was hanging back...and yes, I had to be the adult. So, Timmy and I talked it through...and I tried a few things and managed to get the up/down mechanism unlocked so that we could get him down. Then, it was back to the other emergencies...not as scary as that...but still scary for the two hour turn arounds/bailouts that keep coming.

That is why the star project seems so fun. No emergency there.

Kitty is crazed with her play practices. Alex with Cross Contry training and trying to make up the work he lost last week with his ill days. Rob has left every morning before seven and this morning at five to get to NYC and back today. Its pretty much everyone nose to the grindstone.

This weekend we have a celebrated apple picking/cider pressing event that we have been included in...which should be interesting and fun. But first, we need to get through this week.

A Corner of the Garden

Snow. Freaking snow projected for today/tonight. At least two inches here. Over towards Cooperstown, the Central New York locus for snow, there are 10 inches planned with many of the schools in that area, calling a snow day for today! So, snow on the halloween pumpkin. The saddest picture for me are the little children in their special sparkly costumes that often they have to zip snow jackets on top of accompanied by rubber boots versus light little slippers. Really, the only costumes should be made to make the littles look like stuffed animals (with plush material) so a down coat could be stuffed inside...and a little tiger with boots is cute versus Cinderella in snow treads. Have to get the candy and cat litter. No, we do not give out cat litter. We fill lunchbags with an inch of cat litter and put candles in them (making a country lumiere) and have fifty of them line our front walk. Normally we have tons of carved pumpkins but time is short this year so four will have to do. We play spooky music and if the weather is nice, we have drinks and drinks to offer (this year we have a ton of left over cheese and crackers too) so the grownups often come and visit a bit before they go on their way. Its really fun and very Tburg. Many of our neighbors are convivial like this too, so its an open house throughout town.

Little visit to the House of Health today. Worth it. Lots of folks there--the black and red lady, the energetic lady who is one of the water walkers and the persistent lady who spends tons of time on the elliptical by the window where she camps out with food, drink, towels. She is totally set up. I enjoyed my time and feel stretched and more flexible.

Trying to get the numbers and charges from Hartford straight. Spent some time with their IT folks and managed to get all the email addresses, logins, and passwords straight. I know where to go for the finances and where to go for the email etc. Our faculty doesnt use Blackboard--they use OIL Paint instead. Speaking of computers, the MINI ME showed up on the front porch. It is a PC which makes it hard but its a SWEETHEART. I got the black one...not the pink, bronze or light blue one...but it is a real computer, has MSword (urg) and I can download mozilla and a itunes for travel. Its about as big as a National Geographic and about 2.5 x as thick. Lightweight and will do the email without a problem. It already has the wireless card integrated into the package so its pretty close to plug and play despite its right and left clickness I need to get used to. So, instead of writing blog entries on my phone (which I have done and will continue to do) I will be able to use a complete keyboard and not have to parse the blab that comes out of my mouth.

I was up early and thought about Adam and Eve and how Eve was derived from Adam. Adam's rib, Adam derivative...I also thought about how in Christian symbols, Adam is represented in Crucifixion scenes by a skull or partial skull at the foot of the cross. This depiction represented Adams fall from grace (as it is said) or fall into grace (I say) in his acquisition of knowledge. Why is it that knowledge is a sin? Yes, Adam and Eve did not do as they were told in 1)touching the tree of knowledge of good and evil and 2) eating the fruit of the said tree. To plead their case, if they were pure--God commanded them not to do these things and they readily accepted. They didn't even know they could choose. They could say no. They could have an opinion. They could act independently from their creator and maybe, jailer? Beyond the encouragement by the snake,what spurred them to act? They made the choice to disobey--and out of this disobedience they became more godlike in their ability to choose and their acquisition of knowledge of good and evil. I guess that is why they were locked out of the Garden to keep them away from the Tree of Life which would have given them immortality. I love it that Eve came from Adam's rib. Eve and Adam's dna must have been the same. How did God manifest this change. The book tells us that Adam took a nap, and the procedure to make Eve happened. Were there stitches? Did poor Adam hurt? Was it like looking in a mirror? If they were as uninformed (or simple) prior to their gaining knowledge, was it like my pets TJ and Mei Mei regarding each other, tolerating each other, coming up with ways to co-exist? I don't understand why knowledge was a bad thing for these elementary beings?

Where are the mice?

Finished up the first go on a small publication we do for the Museum and got the pdf out late yesterday. There are small pleasures in making all the pieces fit wheither it be a story too long or too short that have too many images or not enough. The redesigned grid works like a charm and is urban cool without it being unapproachable. So, that is on it's way. Need to work on a thankyou card for a client and some pretty scary charts/informational graphics that need to communicate some fairly "inside" information in a way inspired by three flipchart pages that sit atop my pile. Deep breath. I am probably making more of this project and just need to step into the mire and start swinging. Always feel better with action. I keep hoping the mice will do it when I am sleeping like the Tailor of Glouster. Nothing this morning!

Got out to Sheldrake to find our very important neighbor perched feet from our door with a computer picking up our wireless connection. There were complaints that the other signals they were pirating no longer existed so of course they were going to get ours. There was an air of absolute entitlement which, for this gal, really lit my fire. I don't know why this really ticks me off, but it is an invasion of privacy and the fact that the neighbor acknowledged we "caught her" versus just asking permission feeds my feelings. I have never really considered putting a password on our wireless connection, but now is the time. Or just unplug the wireless equipment before we leave the house. I have a real problem with privacy and entitlement. Big time.

Later that evening, we were eating leftovers disguised as pasta (which our boy A was shovelling in , platefuls) and a german lady came up on the porch and asked if we were renting rooms. No, sez us (thinking all the while that maybe we could get $80 for a night in our guest room, old sheets, clean towels) but let us help you find a place--which R did happily, drawing maps, calling our friends in Tburg for a late reservation. That was fun running the Sheldrake Triple A.

No new monkeys. I did one yesterday that I will scan and drop in later. More monkeys today. Kinglike monkeys...Monkeys in clouds. More farting around...but monkeys galore. I am enjoying this decorative world. Fun. Permission not to know how to draw....I guess.

More later>

Pink Sky

It's early. The pink tinged sky hangs over the silver lake...too cold to swim, but a confection to admire and think about.

Today is Wednesday. Middle of the week...but miles to go before the next Wednesday. More on the work front. Whaled on some newsletter mastheads that need to be produced three ways and elegant enough to carry the entire pub as it will be cut and paste layout by a marketing person...and not a designer. Will need to write some specs around copy, color and type size/weight, application. At least if we write and submit the controls, all they will need to do is distribute and hope all follow them. This sort of rogue publication "design" is a bit frightening, but it seems no one cares about something actually functioning and communicating, it is more tactical-- just getting it out regardless of content, message, and how that is portrayed. Man, am I sounding like an old fogey.

On the fun front, I have a picture to do for Ornamentapalooza, a November event at the Museum of Glass centered around..yes, holiday ornaments. Linear illustration, using their two color approach: black and chrome yellow (the 2300 degrees signature colors)which I have used for years. There is another card to do having to do with the inaugural cruise with Celebrity but the focus is unclear. I am not sure they want a Cassandra knock off...but hey. We'll see.

I am waiting for the tsunami book. I am also waiting to see if I have priced myself out of a job...but it's got to be soon as their deadline is the first week of September for a 300 pp. pub.And then a week or two of revisions and done. I quake in fear...either way. It's too much, too fast, schedule free( they dont believe in schedules or thumbnailing the entire pub.). How can we keep our arms around what we have and what we don't?

Here's something nice: blogs!

Some of my new best friends and classmates at the University of Hartford are now bloggers. Paul Z. who I admire tremendously from his work to this salient observations and understanding. He bursts with animation and laughs as does his work which always has a wonderful twist that makes one bellow aloud in it's expression. He is a big personality with big work to match. His Dogbabies project captures this spirit and promises to really be something quite significant. I love his painting and the wit he brings to that. It should be a fun year to see what happens with Paul and his work. I cannot wait! Paul is doing a lovely blog>> /">zillustration studio news. Paul gives us an entry every day and has surprised me with his MFA Student Profiles...where he highlights students from the Hartford program. First he did Chad Grohman and then me!I was thinking of doing a similar thing, but you know, his are so nice I think Paul has got the baton on this one.

Speaking of Chad Grohman, Chad started a blog remarking:
"I was inspired by my classmates in the Harford MFA program to start this blog. Ill be posting mostly images rather than writing. Some photos, but mostly images that I wouldn't put on my portfolio site that are off-style. I should say, not illustrator created, because its the same style mostly. Photoshop images, paintings, collateral, etc. Much of this will be about my time at Hartford and around the country."
And, he is...>> Check out the totally sweet picture of Obama (I think for the Obama Call for Entries). Man.

Linda Tajirian is a fellow graphic designer who has joined the Hartford program. Linda is also a graduate of the Hartford Art School, so she knows her way around professionally and when we all need help in Avon/Farmington/ West Hartford. Linda is fearless and created some really imaginative and quite interesting drawings around the topic of knitting during our July encampment at HAS. She too, was moved by this time we all had together and started her blog: Life's Journey Part 5 " The MFA She is giving us a sneak peak into her reference for the Vin Di Fate project. Should be a good one!

Jime Grabowski writes in her Nightlanding blog about her experiences, her work and thinking around the MFA experience. Her MFA Encounters page links to people and places she admires, has been taught by or has visited. Great list.

I am not sure if that is it...but it's all I could unearth for the moment.Take a look at all these interesting illustrators are showing and telling us. I am learning a lot. Plus, its a nice amusement during coffee breaks, if you have them.

More later.


I hate it when that dry little cough that hides in the back of your throat wakes up before you do...and then you are startled awake coughing and shaken. My head is splitting and sniffling. I guess it's Spring! Yeah for everything except for the malaise that comes from the coating of light green pollen that clings to everything. It is particularly noticeable on the car--but I think a claritin and some tea might help turn the tide. I hope.

I am working on a series of pared back images (trying to keep it to three colors) with an example of the work above. This is tough going...but challenging much like Scrabulous (if you like Scrabble...this is an elegant rendering of it).It is a bit of an exercise...but the image I just did of a buffalo is pretty good. What is interesting is that the process is changing for me. I work with a photograph and then dump the photo and start really looking at the shapes, at the solids and how the image is broken up. Then, I will redesign the shapes, cut into the big flat areas (as I am finding that the big areas unless intentional can be tedious and need to be broken up to keep the image interesting). I am outputting the image midway and working on top of it quickly with black and white gouache to take the image further. Then, I will freehand those ideas on the existing file--and if need be, do that again. I am intrigued by brush creation in Illustrator. I am making them and modifying them to keep a hand drawn look but cut a bit of the time I am spending on these images. It is really simple...and lets see what happens. This adding and subtracting--the cutting and the patching is very interesting and good training. I shouldn't say this as it is skill building. The Memento Mori black and white drawings were good training for this next step.

I am doing these simple (hopefully going simpler) images as they are strong and could morph to visuals for logos or symbols. I have done complex color images that are photographic....its how do you do that and translate the images without going geometric. Thus the little progression to get my eye "in" and technique further refined.

More later.

Slip slide

Hohlwein Poster
We woke up to two hour school delays due to ice. The trees are all bent over, laden with ice which can really damage them…so I hope the forty degree weather they are promising for later will take the burden off these poor things. Shady Grove is begging to have another cone thrown out into this mess—with her back legs scrambling to keep upright and not totally wipe out. R. has the tundrabus as the wonderbus is still at Winks, so I am landlocked with a nonfunctioning internet (power outage last night)…and I have done all the amelioration that normally works—so it may actually be a service interruption. The phone works. And I am canceling my haircut as I really value my limbs functioning—and shorter hair is not the beginning and end of this equation. I need to get the home team moving despite the later wake up. They are going to have a tough day with lots of work, play practices and finally basketball tournaments in Elmira (in the evening!!). I have the first of “get ready, here comes the college freight train” discussions later this p.m. Urg. And then there is summer to plan and pay for as well as taxes (everyone’s favorite), and committing to spring break.

Sorry for the caterwauling…I feel a bit better. Oh, and here is A. saying that school has now been cancelled. He is networking with his pals to validate that –and I think a call from me to the school secretary might be in line. A. is psyched. A day of movie classics here. I might as well start popping corn, ordering pizza and planning the teen party that will happen.

Ludwig Hohlwein
Compiled and Edited by Professor H.K. Frenzel
with an introdution by Dr. Walter F. Schubert
Translated by Herman George Scheffauer
Berlin 1926
Phonix Illustrationsdruck Un Verlag G.M.B.H.

Got the Ludwig Hohlwein book. It is a class on Hohlwein filled with colored plates, monochrome plates and copy (one side is german, the other English) referring to Hohlwein as a genius (as this book celebrates his 50th anniversary) who produced “kleingraphik” or small graphics/posters, and was best known for his involvement and inroads he made as a “Gebrachsgraphik” Or the author modestly refers to Hohlwein as the “most important Gebrauchsgraphiker of present day Gemany.” Here is what is said about “Gebrachsgraphik”:

“Gebrauchsgraphik”– even in German this word stumbles clumsilyover the tongue. The treasure-house of German speech will certainly not be enriched by it to any edifying degree. And yet this term expresses, objectively and technically, its inward and essential significance much more clearly than other designations such as “Reklame” or “Webekunst” (Advertising or the Art of Canvassing). For the second half of the word precludes all those auxiliary means of canvassing or advertising which do not originate in the graphic arts – such as the printed or spoken word, the film and whatever else may serve as a vehicle for commercial solicitation. And the first half of the compound word clearly defines its relation to the graphic arts themselves. "Gebrauchsgraphik" is not free "graphik" whose purpose is bound to a purpose, it is an artistic means for the expression of a definite intention towards commercial propaganda."

I am going to read and scan and share with you. I was stumped with the picture of a horse I was whaling on yesterday. I cracked open this book and I am back on track. Monochrome. Simpler but not as bare bones as Hohlwein...though I want to try that. I love the different lettering styles, his amazing sense of design and simplicity and his pared back narrative--in some cases little snapshots of Germany in 1920s (prewar energy) with domestic scenes that mirror some of the dutch still lives and personal lives imaged by Vermeer. i am not comparing the artists--just the way they capture domestic moments of making tea, looking in mirrors, quietly reading. An individual moment in a frame. A flicker of time.

Onward to horses.