Month: January 2014

Let’s Be Old Friends

Let's Be Old Friends

Another new Valentine’s Day card in the shop. Because stick figures want to grow old together, too.

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Will You Hug Me?

New in the shop: a non-heteronormative valentine card series, which I’ve been meaning to create for awhile now. After the surprise success of my “I Like Your Face” card, I decided to try my hand at some more stick figure designs. This particular one is fully customizable for gay, lesbian, and straight relationships, and you can choose to have your conversation heart say either “Be Mine” (classic) or “Hug Me” (my personal favorite).

Cute Gay Valentine

Cute Lesbian Valentine

Will You Be Mine?

Will You Be Mine?

Designing a Birdhouse

Now that I’ve got a few design classes under my belt, I thought it might be interesting to start sharing some of my work here. Today, I’ll begin with a project from last quarter: designing a birdhouse from scratch.

I’d never done anything like this before, so I initially found the prospect pretty overwhelming. But, as you’ll see below, it was actually a lot of fun!

Because an important part of this project was learning about the design process, I’ll walk you through all the steps leading up to the final product.

Step 1: Research.

I started by doing some research on existing birdhouses. What are the essential elements of a birdhouse? How crazy can you make a birdhouse and still have it look like a birdhouse? What’s already out there, pushing the envelope in the birdhouse world?

Birds-1

Vintage-Camper-Birdhouse-1

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To expand my imagination even further, I also looked for inspiration in things that were not birdhouses. My favorite thread of research along these lines involved architectural landmarks–what famous structures might look cool as birdhouses? What iconic buildings could I riff on?

Opera House

eng05parliamentbigben

jefferson-memorial-cherry-blossoms

Images: Cool Hunting // HiConsumption //  Into the Air // About.com // Sydney-City // Declan McCullagh

Step 2: Thumbnails.

Once I was satisfied with my research, I started creating thumbnails of possible birdhouse designs. In this step, no self-censorship was allowed–any idea, no matter how crazy, made its way onto the page. As you can see, I went in a lot of random directions.

Birdhouse design

birdhouse01

birdhouse04

birdhouse05

birdhouse06

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Open Projector Night

hammer museum open projector night

Yesterday, I went to the Hammer Museum’s Open Projector Night for the first time, and it was pretty awesome.

The event is basically like an open mic night, except for short films. Anyone can submit work–no longer than 10 minutes, in any format–right before the screenings start. Two minutes of each submission are shown, and then the audience raucously decides whether to keep watching or not.

I have to say, after spending over two hours watching short film after short film, the overwhelming feeling I came away with is, well, making films is hard.

Okay, I know that’s obvious, but when you let amateur filmmakers show their work to an auditorium full of people who have no idea what they’re about to see and have no reason to be invested in anything…suddenly, it becomes obvious in a really intense way. Every time a film falters, you feel it. And sadly, nothing makes you appreciate good filmmaking like watching bad filmmaking.

But at the same time, here’s the amazing thing…what is bad filmmaking, anyway? This whole experience reminded me of just how precariously a film can perch between horrifically bad and weirdly good. Sometimes a film can be poorly or bizarrely edited, or totally incomprehensible, or disgusting, and yet…still kind of awesome. That’s the beautiful thing. In the first few minutes of every film (or play or story), the audience is totally game to engage with just about anything you throw at them. (The best description I’ve found of this phenomenon is in Act I of the This American Life episode, “Fiasco.” If you haven’t heard it, you need to stop reading this and go listen to it now.) And the point at which the audience gives up on you is surprisingly far removed–provided, of course, that you don’t bore them. A bad film still has potential; a boring one is dead in the water.

But enough about bad films! The three audience-approved films that “won” last night were in fact quite good:

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Shuffler.fm is Pretty Cool

The other night, as I was streaming music from Pretty Much Amazing (pretty much the only music blog I know of), gearing up for a few solid hours of design work, I heard this:

And I was blown away. Who was this Katy B? She just turned a One Direction song that I’m vaguely embarrassed to admit that I don’t completely hate…into a One Direction song that I’m unabashedly going to say is pretty much amazing.

Needless to say, I practically tripped over myself to figure out how to favorite it. Quick, Michelle! Before the song ends and its existence is forever effaced from your memory!

At first, I was irritated to find out that Pretty Much Amazing’s streaming player is run by some third-party site called “Shuffler.fm,” which sounded suspiciously similar to Last.fm (a site that, unlike Pandora or Spotify, I could never really get into). But I was so desperate to favorite this song that I just went ahead and signed up.

And what do you know? I’m pleasantly surprised. Shuffler.fm is an online radio app that streams tracks from music blogs all over the web. What an ingenious way to discover new music–and music blogs! I also really love their site design–very clean and modern, but sort of warm and friendly, too. Here’s the front page:

shuffler.fm

And here’s a user profile:

shuffler.fm

I haven’t favorited many things yet, but you can follow me here. In the meantime, you know what I’ll be listening to.