Family Greetings in Retro Travel Postcard Style

Cards, Design, Illustration, New Piece, Print

Day Care Project final web

I worked on a project recently that was a lot of fun. A mother whose child attends a small daycare center wanted to pull together a unique thank you gift for the class’s teachers. She found a board she really liked on Etsy, and thought it would be fun to have pictures of the families to pin onto it. We got to talking and the idea expanded to be not just family photos, but vintage inspired travel postcard themed cards with a greeting of their choice on it. Each family had a fun story or background that we could highlight, so I whipped up a textured template (working with a limited palette that went well with the board she’d found) and I made a bunch of fun graphics to include on each family’s card. I also aged the photos a bit to make them fit in with the retro style a bit more.

Day Care Photos Lutz

Father came from Hawaii, and they love to surf!

They love to be outdoors, especially their garden.

They love to be outdoors, especially their garden.

Mom is from Trinidad and Father is from Norway, so they can never decide between skiing and surfing.

Mom is from Trinidad and Father is from Norway, so they can never decide between skiing and surfing.

Parents are from Taiwan and New Jersey - their love met in the middle. Can't forget the dog!

Parents are from Taiwan and New Jersey – their love met in the middle. They love biking and hiking, too.

All their love, from Switzerland.

All their love, from Switzerland.

We have a rivalry on our hands! Also, can't forget the dog.

We have a rivalry on our hands! Also, can’t forget the dog.

Both parents are basically professional dancers, both ballroom and swing.

Both parents are basically professional dancers, both ballroom and swing.

Can't forget the Frozen fans. (image blurred by family's request).

Can’t forget the Frozen fans. (image blurred by family’s request).

A very fun, personalized gift for the teachers. They loved it so much they plan on keeping it in the classroom even after the current class has moved on.

It was a lot of fun coming up with graphics for each family and having it work with the theme. I liked the color palette a lot, too. Would be fun to make more graphics like this.

Oh, here’s the backside, where the family’s wrote their personalized messages. Complete with custom stamp and post office marker.

Print

Austin’s Awesome

Cards, Design, Illustration, New Piece, Places, Print

Austin Thank You web

I recently spent a week in Austin and had such a fantastic time I decided to draw about it. Spending time with friends who just moved down there and knew the lay of the land was the added bonus, as we got such good insider knowledge on where to go (and eat!).

While my little illustrated thank you card to our fabulous hosts has a few inside jokes, for the most part, I think I captured the spirit of our trip with our adventures in learning the Texas Two Step at the honky tonkest joint I’ve ever seen, going to a UT Football game (the first time I’ve ever been to a college game, oh lordy), waiting in line for the most delicious brisket I’ve ever tasted, seeing the bats come out from under the bridge at dusk, enjoying live music and tasty beverages on Rainey Street, and playing a little bar trivia (and that’s not even mentioning the time we spent on the East side!). In addition, I thoroughly enjoy Austin’s mid-century modern style which can be found across the whole town in its architecture and interior design. Such a treat to see classic neon signage and amazing lettering used so well in so many places.  Such a fun place, I’d like to draw it even more.

Baby Shower Invite

Design, Invitations, New Piece, Print

BabyShowerInvite_06-13

I just finished up another piece, this time a baby shower invitation. The art direction was very simple: they are expecting a boy, the mom is using teal as her primary color, and she loves zebra stripes. So, working with that criteria, I picked a hue of teal I liked, paired it with a nice opposite  salmon-like tone, and threw in a nice warm gray/clay color to work as a neutral balance. To make the zebra striped background, I printed a 50% gray over the teal, as I thought black was going to be too harsh for anything baby related. The font I chose for the header is “Weston,” and I really liked how it was almost block-like, but still had the nice rounded edges. Literally reminding me of the blocks I used as a child. The body copy is “Banda,” which I felt matched the header copy, and looked complimentary to Weston when in lower case (the Weston I have does not have a lower case option).

Once we finalized the design, I gave my client 2 options. One was to just print the image as is, the other, more obviously awesome option, is to take that design and use cut paper to add some texture and dimension to the invite. My client readily agreed that the more tactile option was the way to go, so got to work converting my proof into the cuttable sheets based on the different shades of card stock I bought.

Print

While it definitely takes more prep, time, and glue, I find the results with using the combo of printing and cutting to be worth the effort. 

working

Blast from the Past! But Still Presently in Use Somehow

Print

FAA pilot's manual

I came across an amazing gem of retro graphic design and illustration not too long ago. I don’t mean to startle anyone, but not only is it deliciously retro, but apparently the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) still thinks it’s perfectly good to keep on using as their current manual for Aviation Weather For Pilots and Flight Operations Personnel. No but really, it’s still on their site ready as ever to be downloaded for consumption.

I mean, I suppose there’s no reason to change it though; the information about weather and flying probably hasn’t changed much since 1975. In fact, they make a point about it’s history and editions in the preface, which will no doubt serve as a viable excuse for this antiquated manuscript to remain a main resource for many, many more years to come:

“The publication began in 1943 as CAA Bulletin No. 25, “Meteorology for Pilots,” which at the time contained weather knowledge considered essential for most pilots. But as aircraft flew farther, faster, and higher and as meteorological knowledge grew, the bulletin became obsolete. It was revised in 1954 as “Pilots’ Weather Handbook” and again in 1965 under its present title.

All these former editions suffered from one common problem. They dealt in part with weather services which change continually in keeping with current techniques and service demands. Therefore, each edition became somewhat outdated almost as soon as published; and its obsolescence grew throughout the period it remained in print.

To alleviate this problem, the new authors have completely rewritten this edition streamlining it into a clear, concise, and  readable book and omitting all reference to specific weather services. Thus, the text will remain valid and adequate for many years.”

Indeed. It’s very efficient.

I’m in love with the exaggerated expressions on the illustrated characters, the limited tri-color palette, and the design decisions made based on that restriction. Having a lot more flexibility in this day and age to create documents like this both quickly and easily, I do admire the painstaking effort that must have gone into creating this manuscript. I does make me count my blessings that I get to work on a computer instead of a typewriter, but am also sad because there is something about this document that is so full of character that I just don’t see in most of the design work that surrounds us these days.

I hope you enjoy this little find. I’m showcasing a few of my favorite samples from the book, but by all means, please download it yourself to see it in its full glory, or perhaps you can catch a copy of your own out there, still in hard copy.

Texas Hold Em Poker Tournament Custom Card Deck

New Piece, Print

Every year the company I work at hosts a Poker Tournament Fundraiser for Relay For Life (American Cancer Society). A couple years ago, I made a poster for the event and designed a face card with the President/CEO’s face on the card and it was a huge hit. I had been considering making a whole deck of cards with faces of other people from office since, but never quite got my act together to put it together. This was the year it was going to happen though, even in true last minute fashion (isn’t there an expression that great things only get done when you don’t have enough time to do them in?).

The face cards are all of people whose faces most people who work there would recognize. The President and co-founders got the King cards, and the Jacks and Queens are VPs, with one exception being the Queen of Clubs who gets a spot as the official cheerleader for the Relay for Life event, as she’s very active in organizing events and getting people on board to donate. I modeled the cards after the classic “Bicycle” format, and used the colors of the company’s branding. I used the font “Helldorado” to get that western look with the typography.

Getting the cards to coordinate upside down and right-side-up and look the same was a fun challenge. I was more brazen with some designs than others, but overall was pleased with each of the designs. In the interest of sharing the joke with you, since you probably don’t know what these people look like, I’ve done a couple side-by-side comparisons so you can see where I drew the characters from. All of these were designed in Illustrator, and I more or less traced the faces with a .5 stroke to start, and once I was satisfied that I had included just enough detail, I finished off the designs with the neck/shoulders/patterns. I spent roughly 1 hour on each face card design (some more, some less). Most of the images I was able to pull from just 1 photo, but there were a couple that I pieced together from multiple photos to get the right look.

If you are very interested, I’ve posted the full pdf with all the final artwork for a full res viewing experience.

I was super happy with the vendor I chose to print these. There is such a smattering of custom playing card design/printing companies available on the web and I didn’t have much to go on, so was glad the gamble paid off when I decided to use them. How I got past their really terrible 1.0 website is beyond me, but again, they were great, so withhold judgment on the site.

For the record, the event these were made for was a huge success, and I believe raised nearly (or over) $7,000 towards this year’s Relay for Life Fundraiser.

Saga Motor Hotel, Pasadena

Places

This hotel was timeless, and by timeless, I mean totally dated. A relic from 1950 (60?), and loving it. I loved the typography of the name “Saga,” the two-toned peach paint job, the teal accents, cinderblock lattice walls, decorative concrete motifs, viking mosaic, and excessive use of palm trees. A total California retro gem. I was sad to see that they had attempted to update the interior of the rooms, so they weren’t nearly as cool.

My brother put me up here when I was down visiting in Pasadena, and I have decided it’s the only hotel I ever want to stay at again when visiting.

 

Pop-Up Invite

New Piece, Print

I have had the pleasure of making now 3 invites for my friend’s annual get-together called “Woo Camp.” It’s a casual get-together that he hosts at his family’s cattle ranch down in the central coast(ish) area of California. First year we did a printed piece that I created around the theme of National Parks. The following year, we went with a web based invite, and I played off the recently released film True Grit for that one. I built it using a web design software called Hype, btw, if anyone is curious <shameless plug for my friend’s software>.

This year, he suggested a pop-up and my mind went racing. First off, I hadn’t made a pop-up card since elementary school, and as you can imagine, most google searches for “pop-up” came back with mixed results – mostly for browser pop-up (ad) blockers. But it sure got me thinking about the possibilities. I played with the mechanics and then thought about how I wanted the overall piece to look. I didn’t choose a specific theme, per se, but did work with a limited palette and stylized my illustrations a bit to look mildly retro. I also used the font “Tribeca” (pretty sure it was a free font I had downloaded at one point), and I got a few comments on it looking like the Jurassic Park font, which pleased me just as well.

I am overall quite happy with the end result, but wish I had taken just a little more time to send out a “beta” to see how the recipient might try to open the package. I ended up gluing the piece to the hand made envelope, and it is not uncommon for people to rip open envelopes to get at contents, so I won’t be surprised to hear of people bemoaning their choice to hack the envelope off when they went to open it. As well, I included a set of pop-up pieces on the back of a fold-out map piece, and regret that decision because it inhibited the opening of the map completely, making that portion of the presentation a bit cumbersome. On a positive note, I am very pleased with how I came up with the “lounging” guy. He’s reading a book and leaning against a rock, and when you open the card, his legs go from outstretched to folded by way of a a groove in the bottom of the page. Because he was set at an angle, I also had to use string to make the folding action work, as a piece of paper was not able to fold neatly into the proper orientation. I am curious how many other pop-up card makers utilize string for the trickier mechanics.

One of the most important things to note about this project was that it was the reason I became the proud owner of a new die cutting machine. Mind you, when I started the project and came up with the concept to have 3 panels with all these separate pieces moving every which way, I had decided that I would cut all the pieces out by hand/exacto knife. When I went to show my prototype off to the client, another friend of mine mentioned her friend had a fancy laser cutter and that maybe she could get me in touch with her to try it out and possibly help with the project. Intrigued, I took her up on the offer and came to find out the machine was not some over-the-top expensive piece of equipment like a laser cutter, but in fact, a die cutting machine, a la “Midwestern Scrapbooking Housewife” as she explained to us. It’s extraordinary. I had so much fun, and was so relieved to not be hand cutting the 660 some odd pieces for this project (there were 30 invites total), and would recommend the same machine to anyone interested in something like it. The possibilities are endless (if you like working with paper)!

MAGIC!

Here’s a shot of my workstation while assembling these. Complete with pint of ice cream and iPad running a barrage of Ted Talks, mind you. Monotonous gluing and stitching requires such incentives to keep you going. I think I need to work on getting minions if I decide to do this again.


De Anza Chamber Orchestra Concert Poster, March 2012

New Piece

DeAnzaConcert_3-24-12

I used to play my cello in the local chamber orchestra, and have been designing their fliers for a couple years now. I have since lacked the time to commit to playing each quarter, but continue to do the fliers, which makes me very glad to still be a part of the group in some way. The latest poster was for a combo concert with the school choir and they were playing old English Madrigals so I played with some old English fonts and rolling green hills as the background. The only real requisite I have for these posters is to make sure they’re super attention getting, so keep the colors bright and have lots of high contrast. Well, and to make sure the info is accurate. That always helps when advertising. 🙂

Snippets of Solvang

Uncategorized


Last weekend, I took a little trip to LA, and on the way back to the Bay Area, I took my time stopping at some of my old haunts, and took a few pictures for posterity. The real treat was stopping over in Solvang, the cute little Danish town in the heartof the Santa Ynez Valley. I used to travel here when I was a kid, and remember loving the feeling of being immersed in this almost Disney-like fantasy world in the middle of basically nowhere. I don’t know what the windmill per capita ratio is, but I think it’s pretty high.

Aside from the cute fake thatched roofed houses, abundance of Danish pastries, and oodles of tourists, I also happened to notice all the beautify wood carved signage around town. There were many unique, hand crafted pieces that were very bright and bold that did a fantastic job of catching my attention, as signs are meant to do. Typographically, I think they’re lovely.