Dec 26, 2012

2013: Bring it On


Those who fail to plan- plan to fail, as the saying goes. I'm writing this as much for my own benefit as I am for yours. Ok, mostly mine.

With a new year comes new resolutions, or new goals. It's become a tradition of mine to post every year what resolutions I have for next year, almost as much as it is a tradition to see how fast I can break them. And I don't think I'm alone. Every year we delude ourselves that this year will be different, "I'm going to lose that weight/write that novel/climb that mountain/learn that glockenspiel," and then we don't. We slip back into comfort of being sedentary and anticipate that next year I'll do all those things, but right now I really need to catch up on my TiVo.

Whether or not I'm always 100% successful with my goals, I enjoy making them and think they're important. Last year I set a big goal and accomplished it, I designed over 30 book covers in one month. I plan to attempt that Herculean-lite feat again in 2013, but I think I'm getting ahead of myself. Here are some of my goals/resolutions for 2013:

1) Quote book 
As I have mentioned before, I love quotes. If you hadn't noticed, I also love graphic design. Combining the two for the first time ever, I'll be making a quote a day of 100 of my favorite quotes from January 1-April 10. (If I'm doing my math right). I'm doing this for several reasons.
One of my favorite graphic design heroes, Michael Bierut, has a workshop every year where students endeavor to do the same thing every day, and to document their works. While I'm not in New York, not going to the Yale School of Art and likely not going to meet Mr. Bierut anytime soon, I would like to attempt the challenge. I have most of the quotes picked out and surprisingly, only about 25% of them are by Oscar Wilde for the time being. You can follow them here on pinterest if you feel so inclined.
Another reason I'm doing this is I actually won't have any graphic design classes my final semester. While I'll have art classes, UVU decided not to allow me to take graphic design classes despite there being room for me to take them and desire to take them, as I am not in their BFA program. So I'd like to keep my skills sharp, as well as (hopefully) sharpen them in the upcoming months/semester.
It's a small thing to do, the 10 or so I've done before have taken less than an hour, so I'm hoping to be able to accomplish this on top of everything else I'm stacking on myself this semester.

2) Gradu-freaking-ate
I began college in 2000. I took breaks to go on a mission, raise money for marriage, put my wife through college, to have my leg put back together and other reasons. I've been a part time student the last 6 or so years, and now I'm finally ready to get my Bachelor's degree. I only need two classes to graduate, but because I feel like it's my last chance to take classes I actually want to take, and because my scholarship requires it, I'll be taking more. But, by the end of April, I plan to march clothed in the robes of a false priesthood and get a piece of paper saying I know art & stuff.

3) Get a Job, Hippie
Yes, I have a job, and a very good one. But the one downside is it's not Graphic Design, and unless something happens to their current designer (which I hope not but you never know) I'll be looking for a new job. Hopefully in state, though I'll be keeping my eyes open elsewhere. Let me know if you know anybody hiring a entry-level graphic designer willing to pay me to relocate. :)

4) Design, Design, Design
The more I do it, the more I love it. As I mentioned before (and I'm sure I'll mention again) I designed 30 book covers for aspiring writers as part of NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month. My response was so good last year and I had such fun doing it that I'm planning on doing it again. I also plan to be part of the actual 30 Covers in 30 Days program that The Office of Light and Letters (NaNoWriMo organizers) puts on every year. I'm also planning on doing the advertising posters for Touchstones, UVU's Literary Journal again, though just the posters, no typesetting/book design this time. :) Additionally, I'm working as Graphic Designer (Intern) for UVU's Woodbury School of Business. I've already designed a logo, several posters, web banners and an invitation for them. So I might not be taking classes but I should be doing plenty of actual design work.

And as a shameless plug, I'm available to do freelance work for you as well, just let me know what you need! :D

5) Sharpen that Saw
Ripping off the late great Stephen R. Covey and his Seventh Habit, I also plan to try to do things I usually try to do. General upkeep and whatnot
Read more, specifically read scriptures more.
Spend more quality time with my cute Danger boy.
Start meditating (TM) again.
Exercise (or just do one of my Wii Dance games for 10-15 minutes a day)
Eat less junk/fast food
Blog more

That's about all I can think of, wish me luck and my best and sincerest wishes to you as well! Happy New Year and all that!

Dec 21, 2012

2012: A Recap


It's been a wild and crazy year. My son fell out of a window and was all right, I turned 30 and it was all right, I got to/am getting to the point where I feel like a professional graphic designer, I found out I wouldn't be graduating in December, UVU made it their mission to let me know how little they think of me, I cried, I laughed, I loved, I learned, I lost a dance competition. And I now have a pinterest account.

The world hasn't ended yet, I thought it would have been funny if it had. I'm looking forward to people prophesying the next doomsday soon. Perhaps the coming of Smarch, or Casual Fribsday.

We kept the same president of the last 4 years, a sad individual slaughtered children and showed us the evil humanity can produce, but the teachers there showed us the greatness and heroism humanity can achieve.

I have/had 2 internships where I learned more than I have in most of my classes at school, and currently have hope that I may just yet have a job as a graphic designer someday. And I digitally painted an awesome toy pirate.

We made some awesome new friends, lost a few others to varying degrees of sadness, and managed to keep in touch with perhaps the most awesome of all. I also wore purple pants to church once.

I had the craziest semester of school ever and am stupidly setting myself up to have an even crazier one next semester. I'm sure you're sick of reading it, my one of one readers, but Fall of 2012 I took five classes, worked @ 30 hours a week, was the technical editor/graphic designer for the school literary journal, designed 30+ book covers in November, as still managed to be a husband and father. (How successful I was in the last 2 categories, you'll have to read Tracie's and/or Morgan's blog).

I created a facebook page for my graphic design business, a linkedin profile, I tweeted, blogged 24 times (my smallest # ever in the 6 years I've had this blog), and have a new portfolio website. Also, pinterest.

I finally finished 2 TV shows I started years ago. I finally saw the last season of Buffy: The Vampire Slayer (spoiler: it's awesome) and after like 10 years I finished the last season of Felicity (spoiler: it's dated and not as good as I remembered.)

I learned a lot though not where or what I always thought I would, I grew and saw my boy grow up and use the potty but still prefer to be changed (wouldn't we all), spent too much money, didn't exercise, read very little recreational-wise, and went to church more than the year before, but not by much. And my leg still hurts.

I'm looking forward to 2013. Not ready to post or think about my new year resolutions just yet, except for the big one. FRACKING GRADUATE FINALLY!!!!

Dec 17, 2012

Subterranean Schoolsick Blues


 My last semester starts in 3 weeks. I'm looking forward to it, and dreading it. Though not for the reasons you'd expect.

I made the decision earlier this year not to attempt to get a Bachelor of Fine Arts. One of the main reasons was it would add at least another semester to my schooling, and not only have I been going to UVU since 2006, but I've come to realize that they're not teaching me a lot of what I need to learn to be a success at that school, and so it's better that I get out and try to get a real job asap.

I need 2 classes to graduate, both upper level electives in the art department. Despite there being openings in several classes I'd like to take, I've been limited to take Illustration or Art History classes only. So next semester I'll be taking Flash Animation and Contemporary Art History, or Art History of the last 50 or so years. Not that useful to a graphic designer, but just wait. It gets better.

Because of my Pell grant, I actually need to take 4 classes or 12 credits, so there are 2 additional classes I need to take. Now, as stated, the Art Department generally and the Graphic Design wing specifically is not overly in love with Austin. I've requested several exceptions for me to be able to take upper level design classes and been denied. So, I've decided to take a Marketing class, and a Literature class. I'm looking forward to all of them, and am trying not to be bitter that elitist jerkwads are preventing me from taking classes that might actually benefit me, but then, I'm probably giving them too much credit.

Not to be bitter, but, what the hell. I'll be bitter.

One problem however is there's a writing class I'm also signed up for. I'm worried about having 15 credits as well as 2 part time jobs and a family to see. But I want to take them all. Part of me thinks I should drop the Literature class, part the Marketing, and part the Writing. (Another part wants to drop the art classes, but the biggest part of me needs to graduate and get out get out get out).

So the plan now is to take the classes for a week, see if I feel like they all will be manageable and advantageous to me, if not I'll drop one of the suckers like they're hot.

I don't think I've officially announced it on the old blog yet, but I did in fact get a paying internship at UVU's Woodbury School of Business Marketing Department. So when I say UVU isn't teaching me what I need to know and I need to get a job somewhere else, that somewhere else turned out to be UVU. However, as far as I can tell the WSoB has no interaction with the Art Dept, so I may actually learn a thing or 2 there yet.

That's all I got for now, thanks for reading, if you are, and remember: no tv and no beer make Homer something something.

My opinion on Opinions

This was something I started writing several months ago and for some reason it never got posted. For the few of you who still read blogs and the fewer still who still read mine, here's a bit on my opinion of opinions of one who my opinion of is smaller than his opinion of me. Opinion.

I overheard a conversation at school recently from my least favorite teacher ever to some of my fellow students.

This teacher was commenting on a student who had written a paper about an artist who the student didn't like and thought their work to be rubbish. The teacher's response was something to the effect of "once you become a rich artist who sells their paintings for millions of dollars, then you can talk."

So, in other words, you can write the paper with integrity or fail. 

To me, that's a huge load of donkey crap, as well as indicative of some of the things wrong at that school, or at least in that department. What they're saying is your worth isn't based on your arguments, or your intelligence but on your future success. (Success they have no way of knowing, naturally). Not only that, but basically, the teacher is saying you're not allowed to have an opinion unless yours agrees with me. That's pretty much par for the course as far as that teacher is concerned, but it irked me more than usual.

Some of you with insanely good memories may know I had a similar rundown with another teacher in the past. I think that event was much different, and I'll get to why in a minute.

College is supposed to be somewhere that you learn. Ideally, where you learn what you intend to do for a large percentage of your life. It's also where you acquire skills that are supposed to assist you no matter what you choose. One is having a difference of opinion and then supporting why. If you're not free to present a dissenting opinion, and give reason for it, then a large part of college and in some ways one of the most important parts, is null and void.

But what does it matter, as I haven't sold paintings for millions of dollars, and therefore my opinion is worthless. Never mind the fact that artists like Van Gogh never sold or only sold one painting in their life, who cares, he didn't make millions.

If money is used to value a person or their artistic integrity or worth, you'll find that we'll all be in debt. How dare you try to ascribe someone's worth or even opinions on what they make. I'm being careful not to mention that as a college professor, many graduating students are getting better paying jobs than you have, so you just made your own opinion invalid. But I would never say a thing like that.

Though my opinions of this teacher are less than glowing, I understand my low opinion of his opinion may stem from my loathing towards him. As Oscar Wilde put it, "Morality is simply the attitude we adopt towards people whom we personally dislike." It's true, I dislike this teacher immensely. My one redeeming thought is I'll soon be free forever.

Like a Bat out of Meatloaf


 The Semester from Hell is over. I can't remember the last time I was so relieved. (Probably the semester before). While it was a heck of a lot of work and insanity and spousal/parental neglect, I'm grateful for it, for several reasons. I did learn a whole lot, believe it or not. But mostly, I'm grateful for it because I realized if I can get through that semester with work, school and family, I can do practically anything!

For your sake but mostly mine I'd like to break down my classes, and then talk about next semester and a few other things.

First the worst: Graphic Design 2. I used to really like the teacher, now not as much. It went from unclear assignments to indecipherable. I'm happy with what I did on my final project for that class only. And, as several others of my classmates can testify re: their own projects, it's because I didn't listen to the teacher's suggestions. The assignment was to rebrand and repackage an existing brand. I chose to redo the logo and bottles for Masquerade Wines. I'd just as soon forget the assignment, but I'm happy with the end result, despite borrowing heavily from existing wine bottle designs. (My second-to-last presentation of the assignment is above, and imho looks nothing like canned corn or $5 wine. $6 at least.)

Second the best: Senior Seminar. The class got boring at times, it's true. But a lot of the lectures had to do with accounting and the business aspect of being a designer, which I find boring. What I did like was how much of the class was practical, I had to/got to brand myself, (that is, create business cards, letterhead I'll never use, envelopes I'll also never use, and a logo for me) I redesigned my resume into something I'm actually happy with, and created a portfolio website I'm not embarrassed about, or as embarrassed about as my last one. (You can see it here at austindm.wix.com/portfolio). The teacher was a lot of fun, really helpful and intelligent. Best of all, he was willing to compromise with students and let us know exactly what he wanted for us to do, a surprisingly rare skill in the UVU design dept. it sometimes seems.

Now the rest: That would be Art History: Renaissance, Intro to Museum Study, and Advanced Layout.

Art History was good. For the main research project I wrote a paper on Jacopo Pontormo, an Artist often classified as a Mannerist and I wanted to argue the case that he belonged to the Renaissance. After about page 2 (of 7) I realized that he actually WAS more Mannerist than Renaissance, so I had to B.S. my way through the rest. The teacher took pity on me and gave me a B-. I liked the teacher but I've had much better Art History teachers in the past. Nothing against this one, it's just comparing a Wendy's Hamburger to Red Robin. It's good, but it's not awesome good.

Intro to Museum Studies was a mixed bag. On one hand, I learned a whole lot about museums, their function and how they operate I never would have. On the other had, I think a lot of what I did wasn't so much meant to teach me and my classmates as it was to get free labor at the museum. Still, I'm mostly glad I took it but also glad it's over.

Finally, Advanced Layout. This went from my favorite class to biggest disappointment of the semester. I felt the teacher was eager to leave, but then, so was most of the class, before class was over. I stayed several times for one on one help with my magazine but the teacher never got to me. That's not anything against the teacher per se, except maybe their time management. In the end I just kind of threw it together and I think it really shows. The only 2 parts I'm completely happy with are the cover and the infographic. Perhaps not surprisingly, the 2 parts I spent the most time on. Like the rest of the semester, the best I can say about it is it's done.

My two favorite parts of this semester (besides the fact that it's my last fall semester EVER) were 1) Touchstones and 2) 30 covers in 30 days. Things that were not class related. I'm so glad I was able to do both of those, and wish I had done extracurricular things like it sooner, tho it's probably better that I haven't as I haven't felt like a "real" graphic designer until the end of last semester.

Touchstones was a beast but awesome experience and I got to work with some really talented people, specifically the inimitable Heather Duncan as Editor in Chief. My one regret is I wish they'd listened to me and got it printed at McNeil printing, but c'est la vie. It's still a great product and I'm proud to have been a part of it.

30 covers in 30 days was my favorite design project of the year. I'm already looking forward to doing it next year, assuming I can find another 30 NaNoWriMos who want a free book cover. ;) I'll also be designing one for the actual website, tho free, it should give me some good exposure, so I'm looking forward to that.

Now on to the new semester! Post #2 coming up now!

Update: in case anyone's curious, I got my grades today. They were all better than expected, so I'm posting them now for posterity:

Graphic Design II: B-
Art History Renaissance: B+
Senior Seminar: A-
Advanced Layout: A-
Intro to Museum Study: A
Not bad, especially when you factor in that I had a job, a family, and chose to layout a 130 page literary journal and design 30 book covers in November.

Nov 30, 2012

30 Covers in 30 Days

I am done! I set out to make 30 book covers in the month of November, and I finished at about 35! It was a lot of fun and I had a blast doing it. I enjoyed it more and learned more than probably about 80% of my school assignments, which is kind of sad, but I'm looking at the positive.

Thanks to all the writers who gave me the opportunity to design their book covers, and congratulations to everyone for writing their novels for NaNoWriMo!


Nov 12, 2012

What the HECK was I thinking?



November is supposed to be a restful month. I mean, besides a few loved ones birthdays, the only real holiday of the month is one we celebrate by overeating, then the next day overspending. Somehow I think it's going to be my most stressful month of the year.

Not only do I have to build my own portfolio website, a branding campaign for myself as a designer, write 5 papers on 5 local museums, design a product line for a wine company, and finish my fake magazine, but I've also got to layout and typeset Touchstones, the school literary journal.

Also I've been growing a beard for Movember, which is a sacrifice in and of itself, as it itches like the dickens (very itchy, that is), but more upsettingly, Tracie refuses to kiss me until I shave it, so I have to be content with hugs. It's nice that she's certifiably the best hugger in the world, but I do misses the kisses from my mrs.

Finally, some of you may know that November is National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo. I realized I wouldn't have enough time to write @ 50,000 words in 30 days, but I figured I could try to design book covers, 1 a day or 30 covers in 30 days. I toyed with the idea of designing covers for a collection of my favorite books, and/or design covers for stories I have or have yet to have written. But I decided to give a little something back to the NaNoWriMo community and design covers for those who wanted them for free. The initial response was decent, but it wasn't until yesterday that I had all the slots filled. If you'd like to see my progress or my finished work depending on when you read this, you can go here:

http://pinterest.com/austindm/30-covers-in-30-days/

Though this 30 covers in 30 days thing adds to my busyness, it feels good to give back, not to mention that it feels good to receive all the praise I do from the writer's whose book covers I designed. :)

anyway, I'm very very busy this month, which is good because I'm busy doing a lot of things I love, but it's still hard and stressful.

Oct 29, 2012

Midterms and Registration

I figured the month is nearly over and I haven't updated in awhile. I wanted to post on how my classes are going, what's up with life, and that I'm already registered for next semester. What's so awesome about that? Well, it's my LAST SEMESTER EVER!!!!!!!

So, as a refresher my classes I'm taking now are:
Graphic Design II
Advanced Layout
Senior Seminar
Art of the Renaissance
Intro to Museum Study

Graphic Design II: Possibly the most frustrating class of the semester. My first logo I spent time and energy and even a little bit of blood, sweat and a few tears, and got a B-. My second project I had no motivation to do and so totally phoned it in, got a B+. Learn your lesson, kids: Don't try. Looking forward to the next and last assignment of the semester: branding the crap out of a company.

Advanced Layout: My favorite class of the semester by far. It's amazing what you can accomplish when you have passion, ability, and a teacher who knows what they're doing. I did a photo shoot this week for the cover and one of the features, more to follow I'm sure. The main project is a magazine, mine is called Falstaff, it's basically a magazine made for Austin and by Austin.

Senior Seminar: A very helpful class, I really like the instructor and most of the assignments, but it can get boring, probably because a large % of the class is talking finances.Currently working on making my own logo and brand.

Art of the Renaissance: It's Art History, what can I say? Love it, know it, live it, breathe it. The teacher is fine, not incredible as some of the other AH classes, but at least she doesn't challenge my love of the subject as some design teachers have.

Intro to Museum Study: Challenging Graphic Design II as the most aggravating and Sr. Seminar as the most boring, there are some days I feel like the class should be called manual labor for college credit. It's cool to learn about museums "behind the scenes," but a majority of class time is often spent painting the walls, moving the museum objects, cleaning, etc. etc. I have no problem with work, but it feels like they're taking advantage of us a little in the name of education. How that's different than the rest of my experience at UVU I'm not entirely sure yet.

Here's a sampling of what I'm working on:


^This is my latest rendition of my self logo for Senior Seminar. I liked it until i looked at it here and saw it reminds me of a law office. I'll change the colors.

 ^This is a "support graphic" for the fictional technological device "Lango," a handheld translator. The support graphic is supposed to support both the logo and the product, I wanted to have 2 different people communicating and thanks to "Lango," understanding each other.
^Here is the current cover of Falstaff magazine. The photographer is my cousin Charlotte, the model is my other cousin Carrisa. I got to Art Direct a photo shoot that I might blog about later. I'm pretty excited with how awesome it's turned out.

So that's how Fall semester is going. But last night was early registration for Spring semester, and since I am a senior with only 2 classes needed to graduate, I got to register.

Because of my grant, I actually have to take 4 classes, but I decided to take 2 other classes, partially because I'm about as fed up with most of the art department at that school as I can be, and partially because it's my last semester of college so I'm going to make it count.

To graduate I'm taking Contemporary Art History from one of my 3 favorite art teachers, my favorite art history teacher, it should be awesome. I'm also taking Flash Animation, even though I said I wouldn't learn Flash as it's becoming obsolete, at least more so, it's one of the few classes I'm allowed to take to graduate.

I'm also taking Intro to IS/IT Programming which should be fun, I've heard the teacher is great & I'm getting sick of being the odd man out when 2 or more of my guy friends get together that's practically all they talk about, plus it will hopefully make me slightly more marketable.

Finally and most excitingly, I'm taking a Minimalist Literature class from my favorite teacher EVER. Not favorite Literature teacher or favorite college teacher, but favoritest teacher ever! It should be fun.

And that's school for me, thanks for reading, any of you who still do, until next month, happy Halloween and dia del Muerte!

Oct 6, 2012

Pinterest & Me

I've heard of Pinterest, of course. Even looked at it once or twice. Well, in my magazine design/layout class, our teacher assigned us to make a Pinterest account, so I did.

In addition to finding inspiring graphic design and art (I haven't really used it for fashion, decorating or recipes (yet)), I've also made a few quote images for it, that I would like to share here as well, for reasons. Some are my quotes, some are quotes from others, some are quotes I don't know where they came from so I take all the credit.







Sep 28, 2012

The Hush Sound Logo

For Graphic Design II, our first major assignment is to design a logo for an Intangible Product or Company. The teacher explained it "Madonna is an intangible product because you can buy a Madonna CD, but you can't buy Madonna." While some of us may have argued that example, the point had been made. Most of the class did logos for events or fictional companies, I decided to make a logo for one of my favorite bands, the Hush Sound. We were supposed to design a wordmark as well as a pictorial logo, and have them "go together."

After dozens of sketches and tries, I decided to make their logo an owl, as it's a silent hunter, as well as a cool animal. (the runner up was a "rest" in musical notation, but there wasn't much customization to a rest symbol.)

Below is my original wordmark, done by hand, followed by the evolution of the owl, to the finished product at the bottom.



Aug 29, 2012

Final Fall

This is my last fall semester in college. I took the summer off, and was actually eager to get back to school, despite the fact that I don't come home until 8 or 9 pm 3 days out of the week.

Here's my list of classes and my opinions on the class and instructor:

Graphic Design 2: The only class so far I've been to twice. Also the only class where I've had the instructor before. I like him a lot, he's funny though at times a bit tightly wound but great at helping us realize our potential and put forth our best work.

Senior Seminar: I thought it would be another lecture class, and fortunately such is not the case. It seems like we'll largely focus on what to do when we graduate, so we'll have projects like: creating a new portfolio website, refining our current portfolio, meeting with a graphic designer and interviewing them and having them critique your portfolio, actually doing a freelance job, etc. I like the teacher so far and expect to get a lot out of this class.

Advanced Typography & Layout: Possibly the class I was most looking forward to as I greatly enjoy Typography & Layout but also feel it's the area I need to most improve. The teacher is very smart and helpful and fun and in the running for favorite teacher of the semester. I've only been once so we'll see how it goes.

Art History: Renaissance: I needed another Art History class, this one won because 1) It meets only once a week and 2) It concerns one of my favorite periods in Art History that I feel most knowledgeable about, after Impressionism/Post-Impressionism. I'm headed there in about half an hour as of this writing so I can't say much about the teacher as I haven't met them yet.

Intro to Museum Study: As UVU has recently severely limited the choices I have in the classes I can take to graduate, this was another I chose because I'm slightly more than marginally interested in the subject and it also only meets once a week. That class is on Friday so again, I'll keep updated on what I think of the class and teacher in an upcoming post.

Those are all my classes, however I've also endeavored to undertake the position of Technical Editor for Touchstones, the UVU Literary Journal. So far I've done about 3 posters for them advertising their opening social, I expect to spend a lot more time at the end of the semester working on its layout and copyediting and things, which should be time consuming but fun, or at least another line of experience to add to my still tiny resume.

That's my fall semester, with that and working @ 30 hours a week, I expect to drink lots of caffeine and have at least 1 fit and tantrum before the end of it, but the end really is finally in sight!

**********UPDATE!**********

I've had Art History and Museum Study twice now. I like the Art History teacher, she seems to know her stuff and I don't. I've made several statements and observations that she and once the class disagreed with, but she didn't try to make me feel stupid, which I was grateful for, as I often do that well enough on my own.

Museum Study I think will be the most boring class and I'm kicking myself a bit with "what was I thinking!?" But hopefully it won't require much of me, the teacher is nice and very knowledgeable and looks a lot like Jane Adams.

Last Hurrah and First Hooray in a Hurry



Now comes the part where I remark how "bad" I've been about blogging, or the lack thereof. I've been debating whether to continue blogging or to just stop. I think eventually I'm going to make my own website I'm happy with and have a blog or journal there. In the meantime, Austintatious will remain.

My brother-in-law is serving a mission, and I try to write to him every week. It's good to keep up with him and get to see how he's growing and progressing and helping others while in God's service. On the downside, at least the miniscule-by-comparison blog side, it means I write all my news and thoughts to HIM each week, instead of on me blog. Still, things keep happening and I would like to post it on my blog because I'm still here, it's still here, we might as well get together once in awhile.

The Last Hurrah

We had a fairly uneventful summer, though Tracie and I were severely worried about BOTH of our jobs/job security for a chunk of it, all is currently well on that front. Mr. Moby continues to grow up and be cute, his language is still improving but still about a year behind where he "should" be.

Before school started we went on a "stay-cation," meaning we stayed at home but took time off work and did fun things in Utah.

Last Wednesday we went to the Thanksgiving Point Dinosaur Museum, which was a lot more fun than I expected. Morgan enjoyed it but was a bit apprehensive about all the giant fossils and statues, as he did not wish to get out of his stoller, except when we went to the dinosaur digging display, then he just couldn't get enough. We had a minor worry that we lost an iPhone, but it turned out to be back at home.

Thursday we went to the Salt Lake Aquarium, which, although it's a converted grocery store, was a lot of fun and really cool. It was very impressive what they were able to do with it, and a lot of fun. My favorite part was the otters. Tracie will have to tell you her favorite part, but Morgan's favorite was the miniature coral reef, complete with clownfish and blue tang (Dory). He kept shouting "NEMO! NEMO!!" Which was adorable. At the gift shop we bought a stuffed clownfish for Moby. Normally when we look at toys at the store he plays with it briefly and then says "all done!" But not this. When we tried to take it away he gave a stern "NO!" and kept giving the fish kisses. We also went to the chocolate shop across the street from the Aquarium and it was so good we may go back to the aquarium soon just for a chance to go to the confectionery again. The best thing imho was the honeycomb, which they for some reason call "seafoam." After that we went to visit my grandparents which was nice, they're some of the coolest and nicest people ever (wish a bit more of it rubbed off on me) and we had a nice visit with them.

Friday we were planning on going to the SCERA pools, 7 Peaks or Veteran's Pool but because school is started/has started they were closed or at least had their hours reduced, so we mostly lazed around, did some light cleaning and had some family over for dinner.

Saturday was similar to Friday, mostly lazy relaxation, we thought about going to the Lehi Rec Center pool, but that was closed as well, so we just went to our community pool. Morgan is a very good swimmer as long as he has his floaties on he can paddle and kick, though he mostly wiggles his body and pedals his legs like he's running under water, I'm still impressed. The only bad part about him taking to swimming like a fish (and I'm proud to say, like his daddy) is he used to hug me the whole time we were in the pool, now he can't wait to get away from me so he can swim. Oh well. Still love that guy.

That was our Stay-cation, now on to school, next post incoming once I write it!

Jul 3, 2012

My Name Is...


I've been a bit depressed lately for various reasons. Today I realized I haven't done anything that creative or artistic. So I dusted off a gift Tracie gave me awhile ago and decided to devote the month of July to it.

Project #1 is to create a brand for yourself. Being or wanting to be being a graphic designer, branding is kind of important. You're only supposed to spend a certain amount of time on it, I think it's much better than my first foray into designing for myself, but regardless, here it is.

Jun 1, 2012

Tolkien's Troubles

I believe in the special features/Appendices of the Lord of the Rings film trilogy a Tolkien scholar/biographer mentions something to the effect that Tolken and C.S. Lewis were disappointed that there weren't any stories available that they wanted to read, so they wrote them. I'm not a scholar of languages or one of the most famous atheists turned apologists nor author of two of the best known groups of fantasy novels in the world. But I do wish to read more blogs, and I've finished reading all of yours and still want to continue.

You may have noticed I've slacked on my blog lately. I like to imagine that everyone who reads my blog often wonders "What is wrong with Austin? He hasn't blogged in over a month! I hope he's ok. Also, if only there was some way to pay him in money or favors for the joy he gives me in reading his blog!"

Alas, there is not.

In June I'm again going to endeavor to write one story (likely not a novel as I prefer short stories and can't write that long anyway) every day for thirty days. I'm not sure what I'm going to write, which may be a bit of a challenge because I'm finishing writing this on June 1, but I guess that's part of the challenge. I hope so anyway.

In other news, last week my mom came to visit and it was awesome. In addition to cards and games we went to Thanksgiving Point and Salt Lake City. I miss my mother terribly but it was wonderful to have her visit. Moby especially had fun with his Nana, he even remembered her after it being nearly a year since we saw her last.

Re: school, 2 semesters left, (God willing), this summer I'm taking off so I can teach myself a few things, I plan for C#, novel writing, and Ruby on Rails. If I have time I'll crack back open my php and javascript for dummies books, but not likely. I also have a few graphic design projects for friends and family I'm working a bit on, one I'm actually getting paid for(!) so that's cool. I'll let you know more details later.

Our home is still in flux but it's a bit roomier now as we've loaned our couch to some friends for a few years until we get a bigger place, the living room seems massive now without it. Hopefully we'll be getting rid of Tracie's old desk as well. The office has been completely revamped and is about 80% done (Tracie may argue with the amount of done-ness, but I'd prefer I was 100% done, so I think it's a good compromise ;)) with 2 new desks, a new printer, my desk in a new place, another bookcase, the room painted, a futon or something similar in the near future, now we need to decorate it.

That's about all I can think of, til next month, oh, it's here!

Apr 26, 2012

Thoughts on turning Thirty


Some of you may know I turned 30 last week. I've gotten so used to birthdays over the past 3 decades I assumed it would turn out to be no different. But then it happened. I felt like a grown up. Not older, per se, but more mature. Fortunately since it happened I've completely recovered and am back to my old/young self again.

I considered ruminating on where or who I thought I'd be at age 30 compared to reality, but I fear that would depress you and I too much, so I'll focus on the positive. At age 30, I am a husband to the most wonderful and amazing woman I have ever met. I am a father to the most energetic and joyful son I've ever seen. I am a cancer survivor. I am a student. Whatever I wanted to be is behind me now, in the words of Popeye, I am what I am.

In a way it's relieving. For so long I kept planning who I'd be, how famous or wealthy or important I'd be that in some ways it kept me from living, at least living to the fullest. Now I can stop focusing on who I might become and simply focus on who I am and what I am doing NOW.

I'll end with a cheesy quote (my favorite kind) that, while cheesy, is valid: "We don't stop laughing because we grow old, we grow old because we stop laughing." May I never grow old, just mature, and always find humor in everything and anything life throws at me.

Apr 25, 2012

Digital Painting FINAL

Many of you have seen this on facebook but I wanted to post it here and to announce it's done, and the herald of my last project of the semester!!!

The assignment was to design a toy from Toy Story, at least that's what I thought, eventually most of the rest of the class just made some sort of toy, imho. My concept was to design a pirate from the same toy company that made Woody, Jessie and co.

His name is Mac Kang, also known as the Salty Monkey, buccaneer extraordinaire! Ain't he cute?!

Mar 23, 2012

Out of the Looking Glass and Out the Window


For those of you who have heard or haven't heard, a few weeks ago Morgan fell out of his bedroom window. He's fine now, it seems, though I'm still nearly paralyzed with fear every morning I open his door, afraid he's fallen out again but this time with his luck run out.

To set the record straight and to explain how lucky he is, how blessed we are, and how determined he is, I'd like to give my side of the story, how I've pieced it together.

Morgan often goes in his room, as most 2 year olds do, sometime in the afternoon for nap and/or quiet time. This particular Thursday he apparently climbed onto his ledge, (which we've known he can do for most of his life), but this time, instead of giggling and playing peek-a-boo, Morgan Danger the Determined One unlocked his window and slid it open, leaned against the screen and plopped out the window, onto the (thank heaven) soft earth below. Tracie was home in the other room and heard faint crying. I likely would have dismissed it at the neighbors' baby, so I'm so grateful it was Tracie who heard.

At an average Thursday at work, I received a phone call from Tracie. Normally I ignore it, as it's often Morgan who has ninja'd Tracie's phone away from her, but I stood up from my desk to answer. "Morgan fell out of the window."

"WHAT!?!?!!?!!?!?!?!"

After pacing down the halls at work, borderline screaming and on the verge of tears, I explained to my boss the situation and raced home, driving 60-70 mph down State Street. We took him to the hospital, seen right away by half a dozen medical workers. They checked Morgan out, had him walk around and promptly downgraded him from a severe risk, told us what signs of a concussion to watch for and sent us home.

I placed 2 screws in his window to ensure he NEVER does this again, as we've bought window guards (kind of like door-stops for windows) for every other window in the house, and amended to give our next child a more serene middle name like "Safety" or "Boring."

Thank you all for your prayers and thank heavens our little Danger Boy was made sturdy.

Rejected

So as some of you may know, I applied for the Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree/Program at University. Unless I'm being to subtle with my title and picture, you may have already concluded I got rejected.

I will try to repress the bitterness and betrayal I feel, and how I think marking someone's work's creativity as "weak" because you don't get it is not only not professional or not helpful, it's downright stupid. I will attempt to avoid that I think the majority of the teachers over the design department at the University are not only non-helpful, they are downright damaging to design students and possibly any human being they come in contact with. I will by no means make note of the fact that their "advice" for what they look for in a portfolio consists solely of what type of portfolio case to buy, or that constructive criticism consists of turning one's head slightly askew and remarking "I don't like it." Or "It doesn't work for me."

I won't say that aside from a few shining examples by adjunct professors, I've learned so little from the graphic design teachers at my University I think I not only deserve my money back, I and everyone else in the program deserve to be paid to have to sit through any amount of time with those individuals. I won't say that belittling a student for dropping your class because he has to have hip surgery should be a crime, and that just because you know how to design, it doesn't mean you know how to teach.

All I will say is that although I failed to get in to the program, I am still proud of what I turned in. It is the best work I have ever done despite their complete lack of empathy or assistance. I didn't fail, they failed me.

Mar 20, 2012

Talking Fannies

UVU annually puts on a production of the play "The Vagina Monologues." I've always been curious about it and late last week Tracie informed me that it was playing this Friday, and that we were going.

Being the member of the family that goes to UVU as well as one not unfamiliar with the UVU Box Office, it became my task to approach the ticket seller at the establishment one enters when wishing to buy tickets, and ask "May I have two tickets to see the Vagina Monologues?" Realizing just then what I was asking, and that I rarely say the word 'vagina' in a public setting, to his credit the ticket-seller appeared nonplussed.

(While it's true I don't use the word "vagina" in everyday speech, it should be noted I don't say the word 'monologue' very often either. Though I think most of us can agree that 'monologue,' while suggesting intimacy, is not quite as intimate or to some parties embarrassing a word.)

 They informed me that no, they were not selling them. I'd have to go to the Student Center to ask to buy them. Of course I did. If only so I could say the word "vagina" again.

So I went to the Student Center, not too long of a trip when you have a car and a handicap parking pass. I found the help desk, and asked a rather oblivious-looking attendant where I could purchase two tickets to one viewing of the "Vagina Monologues."
Me: Can I get tickets to the "Vagina Monologues" here?
Oblivious Help-Desk Attendant: (slowly) "Vagina Monologues?" I'm sorry, what's that?
Me: It's a play. About, well, I'm not entirely sure what it's about. That's why I'd like tickets. I think it must have something to do with the vagina. You know, from the title. I'll let you know more once I see it.
Oblivious Help-Desk Attendant: Well, have you tried the UVU Box office?
Me: Yes, as a matter-of fact, I did. They sent me to the Student Center. Where I now am. Is there somewhere else I can go to buy tickets for the "Vagina Monologues?" My wife has her heart set on seeing the monologues, I'm rather looking forward to seeing the--
Oblivious Help-Desk Attendant's Supervisor: You can buy them over at that desk over there. (Pointing stage right.)
Me: Thank you. (walking over to where I thought I was instructed.)
Ticket Salesman: What can I help you with?
Me: Two tickets to see the "Vagina Monologues," please.
Ticket Salesman: I don't think we're selling them here. We just sell tickets to the sporting events at this window.
Me: (becoming incensed) Well, would it be possible you ask one of your buddies in there if they know where you are selling them? Though they are engaged in conversation about how one band that will likely fall into obscurity is far superior to another band that will inevitably fall into obscurity, surely one of you knows where to find "Vagina Monologues" tickets? I've traipsed far enough asking for tickets to see "The Vagina Monologues" that I think I deserve them for free, at least a discounted rate.

(Actually, what I said was "Well Where CAN I Buy Them?!?!?!?!?" But I like the above response better. )


Ticket Salesman: Yeah, over there.
Me: (walking 'over there')
Friendly Student Employee: Hi!
Me: Hello. Can I get two tickets to the "Vagina Monologues," please?
Friendly Student Employee: Just one?
Me: No. Two. I'm not going alone to see the "Vagina Monologues," thank you. Even though I haven't felt so alone in all my life except when I had chemotherapy and my parents had other duties to attend to like care for my siblings or work to pay for the insurmountable medical bills, than I do right now.
Friendly Student Employee: Here's your tickets!
Me: Here's my money!
Friendly Student Employee: Enjoy the show!
Me: I have so far.

Mar 6, 2012

Life, the Austinverse and Everything


I figured it was time to post a bit more than just what I'm working on for school, but I'll do that too. Lately I've been working/obsessing with my portfolio. I have to submit a portfolio showing 10-15 examples of my best work to get into the BFA program. I have them all chosen, touched up and ready to be cut and mounted, something I'll likely spend most of tomorrow evening doing. I've shown my portfolio to two separate teachers who gave some good and some great advice on presenting and improving the images which I've taken to heart. A large chunk of me is afraid I won't get accepted in the program and have to settle for a Bachelor of Science degree, another equally large chunk of me is afraid I will get accepted in the program and have to be in school another semester. It's due on Thursday, I'll keep you all posted, those of you who still read this blog. :)

I'm still working at the same company I've worked at for about 2 1/2 years, about the longest job I've had by about 1 1/2 years. They treat me really well and I like or really like just about everyone I work with, though there's some frustration I've experienced lately having not heard back from someone who I heard was hiring a part time graphic designer, which is frustrating. (Hence the frustration.)

For my new year's resolutions, I doubt I'll be getting all A's this semester, I'll be surprised if I get more than 1, but I'm on track for my reading goal, I finished reading the graphic novelization of the Heir to the Empire trilogy, which was pretty bad. If anything all it did was make me want to read the real trilogy again, as it's a sad graphic novel that makes it harder to visualize something than the actual novel. The only way I was able to follow along at all was I was pretty familiar with the original story.

Speaking of Star Wars, I am currently addicted to and LOVING the new Star Wars video game/MMO: The Old Republic. Set about 3000 years before the movies, it's a whole lot of fun despite the fact that it's consuming much of my free time.

My next book is one I've owned for probably 3+ years, Conversations with the Dream King, a book consisting of Neil Gaiman interviews and interviews with writers and artists he's worked with. So far so good, I'll write a review of it in its completeness once I complete it.

While I'm so sick of school, from going to homework to thinking about it, it's still (sadly) a large part of me, so here's what I'm working on now:

Graphic Design I'm turning in a pictorial logo for tomorrow, it's for a pub I found online called the Horse's Replacement, it's a picture of a cow with a saddle.
Digital Painting we're supposed to design a poster using mixed media we scan in along with artwork done in photoshop, as well as showing a human rights issue, I was thinking something like Gandhi, but may do something more extreme like the Stonewall Riots.
History of Design we're finally starting to learn stuff I find interesting (it's all interesting, but this is more so) since we skipped the chapter on Futurism and Dada, we're talking about Swiss Design or International Style, which is cool and stuff you'd recognize if you saw it.
My internship at the family print shop is going well, sometimes they have stuff for me to do, other times I work on homework, but I'm still learning a ton which is the whole point of an internship, and I get to see family semi-regularly.
The lectures class is boring as usual, but at least I can visit with friends before they start, and more importantly, this is my last semester doing it.
And last but not least (not entirely anyway) weight lifting is what you'd expect, though I think I am losing some weight, that has more to do I think with what I'm going to talk about next than weight lifting.

For the last few months Tracie and I have been taking advantage of Bountiful Baskets, a co-op local group that buys produce locally and sells it to consumers. It's about $15 a week for $30-$40 worth of produce. We get to plan our meals based on what we get and are eating a ton more fruits and veggies.

Also, most of last week we were all sick, I think that had something to do with our losing weight too. We're all better now, thanks for caring, though my throat still hurts a little, at least it's good enough to go to work.

I really miss my family and wish they or we lived closer. Extended family and in-laws are great, but not the same and it saddens me that my parents don't get to see my son very often. Makes me sad they don't get to see their son (me) very often either.

Our house seems to be in a constant state of disarray, thanks in no small part to our adorable tornado Morgan Danger. He's very curious and wishes to be completely independent, but that means he makes lots of messes and with our work and school and other schedules, we get exhausted very easily and it gets hard to keep up with him. He still is very behind in talking but is always improving it seems, he's getting really good at mimicking words, but sometimes will just nod affirmatively instead of repeating you as if you say "you got the word right, good job, dad!" But I love him more than I thought possible, same goes double for Tracie. (the love part, she seems to respond negatively to when I try prompting her to speak.) Morgan watches too much tv like his daddy, his favorite shows are still Backyardigans, though he also likes Invader Zim which Tracie isn't crazy about, and Avatar: the Last Airbender which we all love. Seriously, I think it's one of the best shows ever. If you haven't seen it, watch it. He also loves watching "A Goofy Movie" and "The Incredibles," which is my favorite Pixar movie, and possibly one of my top ten favorite movies. Definitely one of Morgan's.
 He also loves drawing and fortunately mostly on paper, but he has drawn on the mirror and floor and table, but our good friend Mr. Magic Eraser has so far been up to the task.

That's all I can think of or all I want to talk about for now, thanks for still coming here those of you who do, most of whom I think have moved away or I'VE moved away, and all of whom I wish I could see more of. 

Feb 21, 2012

Designed Shapes

For my second foray into digital painting, we were assigned to make a poster advertising some exotic location, featuring an animal native to that area, and design it with simple shapes. In case you can't tell, I chose Brazil and a Parrot. I'm mostly happy with it, and by happy, I mean DONE!

Jan 30, 2012

Digital Painting - First Foray

As I think I've said, our teacher appears to have refused to teach us anything, so this is self-taught. The assignment was to create an expressive self-portrait, I chose myself as Mr. Potato Head, as one, I have a head shaped somewhat like a potato, and two, I often feel like I can change roles from artist to tech support, from loving husband to selfish gamer, etc. I decided to include the process from start to finish so you can see how I worked, and so I can keep a record of it for my own nefarious purposes.

Let me know what you think but be kind, remember it's my first attempt. :)



Jan 25, 2012

Graphic Design Vote


The time has come to help me decide. In my "Designing Brand Identity" (aka Graphic Design 1) class, we're redesigning a particularly heinous logo. I chose the restaurant "Salty Iguana," with the idea that if I can make this look good, maybe I can make anything look good.

I'm mostly decided on the appearance but need your help with the color. Let me know your favorite. Below is the original logo for the restaurant.

Jan 20, 2012

So, Austin, how do you like school? Well, I'll tell ye...

It's school. Nothing profound here.

If you're still reading, school is good but already hard. I'm closing out just my second week of this semester, let me tell you what I think:

Graphic Design 1 is a lot of fun, I think the teacher of this class is shaping up to be my favorite teacher this semester. He's adjunct faculty and cares more about us learning and experimenting so far than meeting some arbitrary goal of thumbnails. He is either under the impression that it's a branding class, but I guess I gotta learn branding sometime. All we've done so far is design or redesign company logos, which is neat. Not what I want to do, but neat.

History of Design and Visual Art is fun but a surprising amount of work. We've already had a field trip to the Crandall Printing Museum, written a 3 page research paper on a designer/printer/typographer of the teacher's choice (I got William Blake) and had a quiz. In some ways it's good but I prefer art history classes when the teacher lectures and we have 3 tests and maybe one paper like all my other classes, instead of 3 research papers, 4 assignments, 5 texts, and 6 calling birds, but oh well. It better improve my knowledge of type history I guess.

Digital Painting is cool and I have a bunch of friends in the class though I'm not sure I'm going to do well due to the teacher's teaching methods, or lack thereof. He seems to be more concerned with our artistic and conceptual sensibilities, not our mastery or proficiency with painting using photoshop. He has flat out stated he's not planning on teaching us any technique or use of the program which is really frustrating, as I thought that was why I was paying him. Oh well. One semester, and you can't love every teacher.

I'm also in my last semester of art lectures, once a week and an hour and a half every Thursday, shouldn't be too painful though I've never heard of any of the presenters except one, and I've only heard of him because I took a class from him.

To get the extra credit I need to qualify for my grant I'm taking another 1 credit class, Saturday Weight Lifting. Yoga was all full and all the other classes required too much cardio/leg mobility. I've only been once but it's just like you'd expect it. Lift weights for half an hour and chart your progress.

Finally and most awesomely I've started an internship at McNeil Printing, the family (in-law) business. I've been shadowing their Graphic Designer as well as being given little projects to work on. So far I designed a sticker for BYU's Athletic Department and a company's mission statement plaque. It's more fun than all my classes combined but it's unpaid and I'm only going @ 5 hours a week, but I've learned more there in going 3 times than most of my other classes in their entirety. So there's that.

That's my semester in a nutshell, I finally am beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel, hoping it's not a train, and am gonna do my best to get all A's like last semester.

Thanks for reading

Jan 5, 2012

2011 - We Hardly Knew Ye.

As one gets older, and distractions from living overwhelm us, we tend to complain how short the last year was, despite it was the exact same length of time as every other one. That being said, 2011 was really short, yo.

Can't think of the highlights month for month, summing up, it was the hardest/most credit filled year I think I've had, on top of working full or near full time, I got semi-demoted at work, we went on vacation twice to California, once to Arrowhead to be with my mom's side of the family and once to Stevenson Ranch to be with my dad's side of the family, as well as a trip to Zion's National Park to be with some of our friends, my skills in design have grown (imho) tremendously and my fear of getting a job has grown just as tremendously.  

osama bin laden, Helen Frankenthaler, Kenneth Mars, Elizabeth Taylor, kim jong-il, Peter Falk, Cy Twombly, Amy Winehouse, Patrice O'Neal, Steve Jobs, muammar gaddafi, Paul Beckstrom all died. Some of these people were viewed as monsters such as jong-il, bin laden and taylor, some were beloved such as falk and jobs, some should have seen it coming such as winehouse, and possibly frankenthaler, and one was like a third grandfather to me, such as beckstrom. I went through wikipedia looking up all the famous people who had die, it was depressing and quite extensive. Not gonna do that again, for at least like a year.

Morgan has grown into a hilarious albeit developmentally behind boy. We've had counselors and classes to help him and he's always improving but still behind which frankly pisses me off at certain gods and breaks my heart but I love him to death and he can do no (ok very little) wrong in my eyes.

Tracie and I are both still working in case you didn't know, 2011 I failed most of my resolutions except reading and getting all A's except for one stupid typography 1.

 I got my first graphic design job from a friend and fluctuate between thinking I'm the best and the worst designer ever and think this is enough for now. Happy new year everybody, let's hope 2012 is just the end of my twenties and not the end of existence. silly Mayans. They predicted our demise but not their own.