Monday, November 26, 2012

Brands and Rebranding

Recently I completed my Masters of Fine Arts (MFA) in Media Design. My Masters Project was to take a real company and perform a complete rebranding. I chose Smashwords, the largest publisher and distributor of independent fiction and eBooks. I began by researching the publishing industry, Smashwords, and its competitors. I discovered what Smashwords key tenants were as well as a mission and vision. I created a new look along with a style guide and all new collateral including a logo, website, ads, widgets, merchandise, and more.

Along the way I learned a lot more about design, marketing, and strategy along with a lot of new programs and techniques.

Above is my project book detailing the process, reasoning, and results. Let me know what you think!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

An Illustrator who Designs or a Designer who Illustrates

In art school one of my instructors asked the class an interesting question: Are you an illustrator who designs or a designer who illustrates? It was an illustration class but our assignment was to design a personal logo with a matching set of stationary. Our instructor was an illustrator who had been paid to design a few brochures.

At the time I was an illustration major. I had been a graphic design major the first semester but quickly switched. So of course my answer was an Illustrator who designed. Being a graphic designer was considered a fallback for those who wanted to be creative and create art but couldn't.

The funny thing was I really enjoyed my graphic design class (the only one I took until my MFA almost 15 years later), and I was always sneaking into the graphic design classes to observe instruction, critiques, and presentations. Just a few years later I accidentally became a graphic designer/web designer and have been doing it for the past decade.

Looking over my work, I realized that the compositions I approached as a design turned out infinitely better than those I approached as an illustrator. I've also come to realize that design is just as much art as oil painting landscapes. The stigma wasn't from the discipline but the people who pursued it and the reason they chose to do so. Most graphic designers I know are frustrated artists--they chose graphic design because they couldn't do any other type of art but wanted to. My reasons were I stumbled into it accidentally and then discovered web design was art plus technology just like animation was, and art plus technology were two of my passions that go together amazingly well.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Digital Painting the Corel Painter way

It's no secret I love Pulp Art (Doc Savage, The Spider, The Bat, and more) and Boys Adventure Stories (Hardy Boys, Tom Swift, and more). I love the painted covers. I love the black and white pen & ink illustrations inside.

I've always wanted to create books like those. And a few years ago I published my first one. Pick it up if you haven't already. Links to Paperback and eBook versions are at I wrote the boys adventure type story (but for an older, more sophisticated audience), I drew the black and white pen & ink (and brushwork) illustrations for the interiors, and I painted a cover.

Ok, that last part I didn't do--not really.

I tried. I really did. But I just can't paint. So I did the best I could, and it turned out well, but.... I figured I would never have painted covers unless I hired someone to do them, and I really didn't want to do that. It was bad enough hiring an editor for my second novel. He did a great job and gave me numerous insights that have helped my writing tremendously, but I still want my work to be MY work--100% Jeff.

Then the other day I was watching several courses from (great site to learn to use graphics programs--get a subscription if you don't already). I discovered some really cool and amazing things that Corel Painter can do--things I had no idea I had software for. So I put the lessons to use.

Above is my latest work. It took several tries to get it right, but I think it turned out well. It looks like the background from Tarzan. I'm definitely going to try this technique to have a truly painted cover for my next work, The Green Bull (a Wandering Koala tale), and not just a wannabe painted cover.

I can't wait!