Archive for the ‘Design’ Category

It’s been a difficult time for me with the, not unexpected but bewilderingly devastating death of my dad and all of the other things that have been going on in my life, so that once again my posts here have been mute.

I’ve not drawn much, taken many photographs or really exercised my creative side recently. Saying that, I thought I would post about a project I’ve been working on and off for most of this year. It’s a post about working with a client who is foremost a friend – and that means going way above and beyond the normal bounds. Great slabs of this project did not have a brief so we made it up as we went along.

My friend Jane has been working on her book for over 5 years. Jane had assembled a hand picked team to help her realise her dream of writing and publishing a book about her work as a global advocate for women’s rights. My part was to edit a video to introduce Jane and her book to the Kickstarter audience who would successfully fund the project.

While waiting for the book cover artwork to arrive from Jane’s graphic designer I was asked to produce a quick mock-up of the cover for the Kickstarter site.

The picture Jane had chosen for the cover was a photo montage Nature Girls Jumping Janes by Martha Rosler. These are the designs I sent for approval.

Alternative mock up book cover

mockup no.1

Alternative mock up book cover

mockup no.5

Alternative mock up book cover

mockup no.4

Alternative mock up book cover

mockup no.3

Alternative mock up book cover

mockup no.2

After a bit more discussion this is what Jane went with – note the title change.

First book cover iteration

First book cover iteration

This led to me developing and organising the printing of advertising flyers based on this design for events Jane would be attending while visiting Australia. Not having access to a colour corrected high resolution image to work from was a pain as the only copies available were from the net and varied greatly in colour cast and size.

Once I knew that I would need to print from this image I selected one that I thought had the least offensive colour cast and prepared that one for print. Selecting the ideal shade of green to be used as the strap line under the sub title I thought was the end of my involvement.

Final cover using the Rosler image.

Final cover using the Rosler image.

Above is the final version of the mockup we used for advertising purposes.

Na-ah. Jane decided that she liked my cover treatment and wanted to use it for her book too. Okay!

The manuscript had cleared final editing, and was ready for typesetting. Jane and Thatch and myself had discussed the layout for the book, but I was not involved in the design at that point. When the initial layout arrived from typesetting, it failed to match the book Jane had in her head, Jane asked me to fix it for her.

Of course the Rosler image never arrived and no response came from her or her agent. As the deadline approached Jane had no option but to reconsider her choice of cover image. She sent me an image taken by mutual friends. This is where I went with it:

Alternative mock up book cover

Another mockup using a new image

But Jane’s editorial team shouted from around the world – “it doesn’t look like Jane!” So in a fit of early morning madness I made this:

Alternative mock up book cover

Could be Jane if you squint.

But after many hours of searching for the master image it failed as a contender and while Jane was delighted with the title treatment, the title was all I kept for the next bit. I took a stroll through some of my own images and picked a handful of them. Of those represented here, I sent only my favourite one to Jane as a possible starting point.

Alternative mock up book cover

From a selection of my images

Alternative mock up book cover

From a selection of my images

Alternative mock up book cover

From a selection of my images

Alternative mock up book cover

From a selection of my images. I love this one. I think it is beautiful.

Suffice to say that Jane is not into abstracts.

Just as everything was being finalised – happy happy! A painting that Jane had owned for 16 years inspired her. It was a bold and colourful statement that frankly I thought made a much better potential cover. Off we went again.

Alternative mock up book cover

Woman Drinking from the River of Life by Kay Singleton Keller

Alternative mock up book cover

Woman Drinking from the River of Life by Kay Singleton Keller

And again the worldwide chorus of Jane’s well meaning friends said, “no, no – Make the title smaller and stick the sub title up there too, but you shouldn’t cover the magpie!” Fortunately – I managed a work around that has silenced the critics and retained the integrity of a book cover where the title is more important than the background picture. Design by committee – nothing like it.

So here it is, in all it’s splendid plumage – the front Cover of Citizen Jane.

The final front cover

The final front cover.

In comparison the completion of the back cover was delayed by the wait for the high resolution image of Sybil Shearer. Unlike the Rosler image the MorrisonShearer Foundation responded to e-mails. So here finally, after several title and/or sub title changes, cover art changes, sundry delays and design by committee is the finished layout – more or less depending on the final width of the spine and with the addition of the barcode.

The completed cover for Jane's book.

The completed cover for Jane’s book.

The book is being prepared for print on demand via Amazon and will also eventually be available in assorted e-book formats too.
Here is a link to the Kickstarter Project where you’ll find the video. Citizen Jane: transformative citizenship – the book!
and this is Jane’s website where the book can be pre-ordered. Jane In the World

It’s a project that Thatch has taken and run with. Planning, organising and directing from the time of Jane’s early drafts through all stages including publishing and he has invested countless hours and much energy to bring all parts of the project to fruition. Jane wrote it and Thatch made it real. I’m just chuffed to have been a part of it.

Postscript: The first edition of the book is finally ready for publication. Last night I pressed the “go” button and we should be receiving a production copy in a week to 10 days time! Can’t wait to hold it and feel it and read it again as a real book rather than just on the screen.

Sometimes I think I misnamed this weblog – it might have been more correctly called Jools Procrastinates – not Jools Pontificates – although I do that too. I was wandering around the house today trying to settle on where I should start with my day’s work – there being several urgent possibilities but none that shouted – “Do Me First” or if they did, I wasn’t listening.

Cardboard wallet of Ian Bland's Angel in Reverse

Cardboard wallet of Ian Bland's Angel in Reverse

Instead my eyes were drawn to a CD lying discarded on my coffee table. The new CD by Ian Bland called ”Angel In Reverse”. It’s the third CD that Ian has produced that I have been involved in. The launch has been delayed until November but I’m not going to let that stop me telling you about it.

I’ve read articles written by designers and other creative folk who express opinions on mistakes that freelancers make and how to deal with clients. While I don’t disagree with their comments – they’re not always appropriate for the situation at hand. I’m not saying that Ian is difficult exactly, though he does have a vision that his designer has to work within – did I hear you say “Control Freak”? My job was to get the vision out of his head and onto paper via my camera and computer. Here is a taste of how it worked and some of what I have taken away from that process.

The CD in question had a tentative title for quite some time before the product was realised. Anyone who knows Ian Bland, even just a little – will know that “Angel in Reverse” does have a ring of truth to it. Convincing Ian though reminds me of pushing a very large rock up a very large hill.

Who is this Ian Bland person anyway?

Who is this Ian Bland person anyway?


Ian in the interim took to exercising his camera and flooded our shared Dropbox with the results. These pictures ranged from shattered glass to travels with Ian, from cherubs to tiles and textures of weathered buildings. Not satisfied, even more pictures found their way into our shared Dropbox. Not one of which was used. Emails and phone calls followed – treatments tried and rejected.
Shattered glass door by Ian Bland

Shattered glass door by Ian Bland

Were the cherubs too ecclesiastical? Would the appearance of his own likeness on the cover scare away his potential audience? These questions and others were the basis for endless discussion. After several lengthy delays and much thought – Ian had an idea. This one would supersede all the previous ones that both he and I had, and so we ran with it.

Cherub photo by Ian Bland

Cherub photo by Ian Bland

Actually he’d had a collection of ideas and they needed to be brought together. First, the deliveries from Ian began to dribble in – a few at a time. A man’s watch, an envelope containing a lock of fine hair, a dusty twist of frayed rope, antique hand restraints, road maps so fragile with age that they happily shredded as they were unfolded and a battered photo of Ian and his dad. Still the items kept coming – some used in the photo shoots, some not. I never appreciated what a hoarder Ian was, nor how useful that would now prove.

I set up my portable photographic studio in the lounge room. Repeated dismantling and repacking later I learned my lesson and left it set up until after the project went to the printer and I was certain that Ian couldn’t make any further changes.

Some of the type samples we explored for the lyrics

Some of the type samples we explored for the lyrics

The next thing was to agree on a printer and, since custom die-cut packaging was never in the budget – our options were limited and of course each printer we contacted worked to a completely different layout template. Meanwhile we went through the selection trials for a suitable typeface. StarBabeHMK had the winning combination of attributes, we both agreed on it, it was legible at small sizes and it was free.

I concentrated on the layout for the sixteen page booklet first. Ian Bland’s poetic volubility left me in no doubt that getting all those lyrics to fit into thirteen tiny pages would be anything but straight forward.

Alternative journal cover treatment

Alternative journal cover treatment

The cover for the booklet was where I expected to really make my creative mark. I had assembled a journal cover from photographic stock that I had taken over the years – I was very happy with the result, but, Ian wanted – something else. So the cover was redone using an old bookkeeping journal that Ian had sent in one of his mystery packages. The cardboard wallet likewise underwent uncounted revisions and variations pretty much until the day the artwork went to the printer.

Inside the cardboard wallet for Ian Bland's Angel in Reverse

Inside the cardboard wallet for Ian Bland's Angel in Reverse

Now that the project is finished I can view it all analytically. I enjoyed doing the artwork for this album. I can see the effort that both Ian and I put into it and I can see the flaws and missed chances too. I guess my ambivalence is showing. In any case an opportunity to work with my camera or a reason to muck about in Photoshop is not to be dismissed. As is finding a solution for issues presented by print media that are distinct from those I encounter in web design.

Here is what I learned from this project.

  • You can never check anything too many times.
  • Don’t be afraid to be assertive – that’s what you are being paid for.
  • Finally this quote sums it up for me: “Don’t try to create and analyse at the same time. They’re different processes.” The late John Cage.

Someone asked me recently why I didn’t post more often and I really don’t have a suitable answer. I thought that perhaps I should change my we(blog) name from pontificates to procrastinates – but it’s already been done. So much to do, so little time – but since I have put fingers to keyboard I will show you one of the things that I did this long Easter weekend.

The three finished projects.

The three finished projects.

The sun shone out of a cloudy sky as Thatch and I belted down the freeway towards the Dandenong ranges. It was to Belgrave in those hills that we were headed to visit with a friend, doll artist and all around talented person, Doreen Backway. I had taken some photos of Doreen’s work earlier in the year and decided that I really needed to do something with them.

A small portion of Doreen’s stash.

A small portion of Doreen’s stash.

We agreed on an interview (that will be in the post that follows this) and she invited me to her home to attend a craft class on anything I was interested in learning. Having no idea – I opted for something in clay.

Getting ready to begin.

Getting ready to begin.

Doreen has been making cloth dolls for some years and she has a workroom that puts my own modest little stash to shame.
Fabric competes for space with craft supplies, trimmings and tools of every description. Disembodied doll faces, hands and feet,
randomly peer from crevasses in the fabric cliff behind her desk.

Some of our cooked molded heads.

Some of our cooked molded heads.

My eyes enviously devoured the colour coded alladin’s cave of goodies. Doreen decided that we would be making wood sprites using molded polymer clay faces and twigs that she had collected from the garden that morning.

Detail of tree sprite by Jools.

Detail of tree sprite by Jools.

She generously provided detailed and patient instruction on how to use the clay and molds, while the clay was cooking we had lunch and then began the process of decoration using fabric, wool, paint, embellishments and anything else Doreen could think of to enhance the project that the three of us were engaged in.

Detail of tree sprite by Thatch.

Detail of tree sprite by Thatch.

Completed, the project was deemed successful by us all. Thatch and I had a great time. Thanks Doreen.

Detail of tree sprite by Doreen.

Detail of tree sprite by Doreen.

Logging off, Jools

Some years ago an exhibition of Amish quilts was put on display at the Victorian Art Gallery. It was viewed by the gallery as a stop gap between major exhibitions. I found it was an astonishingly beautiful and intimate view of a lifestyle that is foreign to me. Since then I have taken every opportunity to view quilts on exhibition whenever I can manage it.

I feel strongly that quilts are pieces of art and should be acknowledged as such. Technically there are hand sewn, machine sewn and many are a combination of both. There are those that are drafted by hand and those that are drafted by CAD software.

But to create a successful quilt there needs to be a combination of creativity, design, colour, technique and skill. The best thing of all about quilts is the fact that they have a purpose. It’s rarely design for the sake of it – quilts serve a practical purpose and are made to provide warmth or to be worn.

Right now I like to look, perhaps one day I’ll have a go at making one. Recently I went to a craft and quilt fair, spent nearly a whole day there and I took some pictures to show you something of what it is that attracts me.

This first, ia a prizewinner, no surprise really, it is a glorious piece of work of which I captured only a small part of a quilt called “Run for your life” by Jill Hessing.

Detail of turtles and heron from Run For Your Life Quilt by Jill Hessing.

Detail of turtles and heron from Run For Your Life Quilt by Jill Hessing.

My record keeping was a bit scrappy, but I think this next one is by Pat Stevenson called Sally’s Secret. It’s based on a traditional pattern called “Baby Blocks”. I love the use of colour in this geometric design.

Sally's Secret by Pat Stevenson.

Sally’s Secret by Pat Stevenson.

The next is a wholecloth piece, i.e. made from one piece of fabric and then quilted. It is a computerised design that was created on a longarm quilter rather than on a domestic machine like the previous two. Called “Feathered Roses” by Eileen Donnelly.

Detail of the computerised “Feathered Roses” a quilt by Eileen Donnelly.

Detail of the computerised “Feathered Roses” a quilt by Eileen Donnelly.

The next is the centre panel of a freehand quilt by Clare Fairless, the name of which I’m afraid is illegible in my notes.

Centre panel quilting by Clare Fairless of castle enclosed by dragon.

Centre panel quilting by Clare Fairless of castle enclosed by dragon.

I’ve also added another detail which would have been much better if I had not blurred the shot.

Detail of quilting by Clare Fairless.

Detail of quilting by Clare Fairless.

This next is from “Morris Gothic in Gold” by Judi Liebmann and is mainly appliqued.

Detail from Morris Gothic in Gold by Judi Liebmann.

Detail from Morris Gothic in Gold by Judi Liebmann.

This is sadly another not so sharp picture of the whole quilt. It impressed me for many reasons, it took my breath away and made me forget how tired I was after so many hours spent wandering around.

Morris Gothic in Gold by Judi Liebmann.

Morris Gothic in Gold by Judi Liebmann.

This next is the last one for tonight, I’ll put up some more in my next post eventually. This last one is quite a lovely design and if my notes are right is called “Woman Attacks Sewing Machine With Axe” by Cindy Cudmore. In the quiltmakers remarks she says. “Made from a Sara Nephew pattern. I bought a book and two rullers to make this quilt. They are not likely to be used again.”

Woman Attacks Sewing Machine With Axe by Cindy Cudmore.

Woman Attacks Sewing Machine With Axe by Cindy Cudmore.

Until the next post, logging off, Jools

One of the assignments I have this semester is to design some packaging.

So I am making a box of J’s, Jools Jewels, whatever. I’ve designed the box but the actual dimensions depended on the size of the contents.

I’ve had a back ache for the last few days, so I’d gotten a little behind in my work and instead worked my way through some more charcoal.

Jack O’lantern, jurassic dinosaur, jug, blue jay, jonquil, jaw and jaguar.

Jack O’lantern, jurassic dinosaur, jug, blue jay, jonquil, jaw and jaguar.

Today I painted my completed little J jewels and while I still have to make the 8th piece and finish the paint work on the others, I have enough pieces to get the size of the box sorted. I had really clear pictures of what my tiny sculptures were to look like and I can tell you that what I ended up with – is not what I visualised.

As the project continues I’ll keep you abreast of what is happening and how it is going. I have to the end of June sometime – not much time to complete this.

Logging off, Jools

You are currently browsing the archives for the Design category.

    Archives