Archive for the ‘ Uncategorized ’ Category

The Last Semester, part 1

I am currently in my third week of my last semester of college, and it’s feeling pretty good*. So much to do! So much I still want to learn… but I think this semester will be one for the record books (in a good way).

On one hand, I feel sort of overwhelmed with everything we have to do to launch ourselves as Real Designers in the world; and there’s a lot going on behind the scenes, in terms of… politics, and feelings, and perceptions of how our class is doing, and what the professors think of us. But on the other hand, so far I’ve been able to get all of my work done without much trouble, and there are so many nice things about my various classes.

Anecdote: today in class we were showing our first (VERY BASIC, JUST STRUCTURE) html assignment, and I was enjoying all the easter eggs I snuck in (hint: click on the “A” image). My teacher was awesome enough, after seeing where the “Tardies” section of the syllabus led, to propose that from now on whenever people are tardy, they have to perform that song. It is a good class.

Lovely things I am enjoying about school:
– awesome new professors
– FRENCH and BRITISH students in my US Colonial history class
– finding out that, at least so far, I actually like web designing!
–  getting work done BEFORE it’s DUE! what?

And with every day that goes by, I’m one step closer to a graduation that’s gonna get here before I know it!! I am so excited about that. I will probably be saying that a few more times, fyi. Last week I opened up my DARS report (it’s the compiled form we can look at to see what classes we still need, etc) and EVERYTHING WAS BLUE. That means that every single one of my requirements will, by the end of this semester, be completed, and I can graduate. After 5.5 years, that feels really, really good.

I’m also in the last stages of planning our Spring Lindy Hop Workshop, and that feels good too. It’s gonna be a blast, I think!

Well, that’s all for now. Just wanted to document the fact that, at least at first, my very last senior semester was enjoyable.

*Part of my happy is probably some left-over happy lindy hop glow, from attending a tiny but awesome workshop over the weekend. Seeing lovely friends, dancing with fun leaders, and improving your dancing & swing-out FTW!!


(And this is coming from a GoT/ASOIAF fan…)

The instinct that convinced someone to commit the image of Starks and direwolf puppies to film was a very good one.

The thing that bugs me about people who talk up George RR Martin to high heavens, is not that he’s bad (I enjoy A Song of Ice and Fire!), but that it’s often quite obvious that he’s the only epic fantasy author they’ve ever read. Yes, he’s good, but he’s not the only person to ever write AMAZING, beautiful, detailed fantasy worlds; with heroic and engrossing plots.

I want to say to them: “That’s not just GRRM! Welcome to fantasy.”

I hope that the popularity of Game of Thrones will create more room for fantasy as a genre to be taken seriously/let more people find the beautiful books that are out there for them, but I fear it will just serve to prove to people that SOME fantasy is NOT geeky, while the majority of it is.

/end of rant

The real question: is he *trying* to look like a hobbit?

On Music Videos, part 1

So this beautiful Swedish hiphop/swing band called Movits! just released a new video, and I think it’s such a sweet example of process. It’ll make more sense once you’ve watched the videos, so let’s just do that!

The first video I’m talking about was released back in February of this year, as the first single off their new album: (Notice Pontus Persson, and then I think Sakarias Larsson and Jessica Lennartsson? Awesome Swedish Lindy Hoppers, all of them…)

And here’s the second video, which they just released not even a month ago:

On their blog they call it “a little ‘behind the scenes’ video”, which is true, but I think also just a little humble! I love that they managed to shoot TWO fabulously cool, mind-bending* videos on the same set, at the same time. Terribly efficient.

Both videos are off the same album, “Ut ur min skalle”, or “Out of My Head”, which came out in April. I just finally downloaded the whole thing, and I am loving it!

*I spent the whole first half of “Na Na Nah!” thinking that the flannel guys were other people, and wondering if Sweden is just full of attractive hipster-like, well-dressed men. I eventually figured out it was them TWICE, but I’m still suspicious that Sweden is full of attractive men.

After having just enjoyed all of their tour vlogs, I have to say that that second video is remarkably true to life as a behind-the-scenes! Look how adorable (the bear dance is my fave):

Film Love

Why do I love shooting film photography? Why is it so much better/more beautiful/more satisfying than digital?

Let me allow Punam Bean, amazing wedding and event photographer, to put it much better than I’ve ever been able to vocalize it:
“Life is easier on film…we film shooters have a dirty little secret. Shooting film is easier. I shoot, the lab does their magic, and all the work is done. No photoshop required. It’s more expensive, but my quality of life is improved. And then everything else in the world I have to do with my images becomes easier because I don’t have to edit anything. Rich hues, balanced contrast, soft palettes are the standard. Once the photograph is captured, my work is mostly done…in my heart of hearts I know that holding on to the digital side of things is only as important as you make it. We all survived in the world a very long time before our fingers started doing the talking.”

There’s just something about film that makes photos more beautiful than digital. It’s easier to make art, with film and film cameras!

A few of Punam’s film images:

More from her about film, from an earlier post:

“For portrait sessions, and details, I’m almost always reaching for the Contax [her go-to film camera as of then: Contax 645 and 80mm 2.0]. There is something about the way the quality of film conveys emotion. I love it’s lightness and it’s intensity. The 80mm is so lovely because the shallow depth of [field] is so buttery and saturated. I like to shoot film when the lighting is right, and I have total control. Even when I’m somewhere where I have to work to get inspired, looking through my Contax helps me see things more clearly. It feels like taking the paint to canvas. When I get the images back from the lab, they are finished. I almost never have to do anything else to them.”

Fantastic article about design school! Although I have to agree with the comments, too, about point #4. Often times, the best professors are the ones who’ve been teaching for years. Being a good designer and being a good teacher are two different skill sets, and being one doesn’t necessitate that you are the other.

But that article still SPEAKS TO MY LIFE, and addresses many of the problems I see with the students around me. Some try too hard to do exactly what the profesor says; to please them, and so they’re not happy with their work in the end (YOU’re the designer, after-all, and you won’t always have a professor, so best start learning how to think now). Others barely listen to teachers at all, and come into design school with what they think are solid styles or ways of thinking, and can’t stop being proud for long enough to learn anything. Both paths seem to me to be limiting ways of schooling yourself.

On this note, I am super pumped about the new faculty in the uiuc GD dept. We have three new professors, and they all bring amazing things to the curriculum. Two of them are both great designers (one worked for Pentagram!), plus have been teaching for a while, so they know how to teach (one is just about to finish his Doctorate in design! rare butterfly). The third is fresh out of school, knows web design and interactivity, and also gives great feedback. Booyah 🙂

[Here follows a rabbit-trail about Type I class]

I hope the upcoming students appreciate what they have!! Can you imagine having KT for type I?? I mean, Jimmy was really good for me; he got me thinking in new ways, and just CREATING, and after that stress case of a year any class seems easy… but still. I’d love to learn about kerning and grids before I start trying to design things with type…

Although, I suppose grids and kerning and how to use InDesign are all sort of, technical things, that are in some ways easily learned. Jimmy wanted to push us in the art of DESIGNING, of image-making and free thinking. That was a good place to start. I’m just glad that we’re getting all the rest of the stuff that designers are supposed to know, now. 🙂

recently gathered goals

If I am still in Chambana next year, I’m going to:

– work at Living Letter Press
– be swing workshop chair again, and bring in Karen+Andrew, and either go for crazy and bring in Skye and Naomi, or also go for crazy and bring in David Rehm and Kate for a balboa workshop.
– See if Alisha wants to tutor me in Russian!
–  Intern at Spinlight?

But I’m also getting sort of interested in maybe looking at St. Louis… and of course, Chicago is always there, luring designers and artists to it’s bright lights and opportunities.

More plans to follow!


Oh Tenspeed Hero, you are speaking right to my very soul! Or at least, my circumstances.

This week, as I’ve been getting into the swing of school, I’ve finally gotten my new-to-me bike up and running, and have been experiencing the freedom and responsibility of having two wheels on campus. I’m new to riding a bike in an urban setting, and I don’t know all the rules… and I felt silly wearing my helmet. “Do people actually wear this?” I thought. “Am I the only loser wearing a helmet?”

bike paths on campus. photo found on flickr from user benchilada. thanks man!

When I was a kid and we were careening all over the neighborhood on our bikes, no one wore a helmet. We didn’t need to, we didn’t care, and the worst anyone ever got was scraped up knees (we got a lot of those.) But when there are cars involved, and rough ground, and pedestrians darting all around and walking on your bike-path (grumblegrumble); well, a helmet just makes more sense.

So I wear it, and hazard looking lame, because if I crash, I will be the one laughing then! (Well, I won’t be laughing; I might be crying, from the pain. But I will be glad that I was wearing the helmet, instead of looking cool*.)

Somehow though, the other day this knowledge just wasn’t enough to get over how lame I felt. So I told myself: “Andy wears a helmet.”** And then it wasn’t so bad.

*My helmet is pink though, and I wonder if it’s really the safest option….