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 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.