Experimenting

National Analog Day

This post is a little late because I was waiting to develop my film before putting anything up. Below is just a sampling of the fruit of the Inaugural National Analog Day. The event began as wishful thinking in a Facebook post about living simpler, at least for one day, and reconnecting (to friends, oneself, nature, etc.) in a way that didn't demand modern forms of digital technology. Eventually, I was encouraged to pick an actual day and set up an event and National Analog Day was born. The event page explained the following initiative: "National Analog Day is about taking a day to get back to older processes, but also to appreciate life with the valuable, tangible, and at times higher quality things that are being lost in the shadow of a digital age."  Of course, the question arose, "What exactly is analog, and what does it mean to live that way?" "Can I listen to music?" "Can I drive a car?" I listed ideas for people to try, including writing someone a letter, taking photos with film, and enjoying the great outdoors. It was never meant to become a strict non-digital day, but it was fun to see how much everyone who joined the event were willing to actually try. Someone even listed the plans that she and her friend made in anticipation of the event:

My best friend will be visiting me that day and she’s the one that told me about (this). We have planned fun things so my 5 kids will be doing it as well — a walk in the woods, bike ride, and drawing topped the list of things they can’t wait to do! We’re also talking about flipping all the power off for at least 12 hours in the day if not longer and cooking on an open fire!

Plans like this and a general sense of enthusiasm really made the event more communal and exciting for me. I began to conjure up my own plans. First, to design and screenprint some postcards to send out to friends or to whoever requested one through the event page. Second, a weekend of camping in Yosemite and photography with my trusty Holga camera.

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 Here are a few snapshots of the process of screenprinting the postcards I sent to everyone in the mail. Grey ink topped with a blue/yellow split fountain

Here are a few snapshots of the process of screenprinting the postcards I sent to everyone in the mail. Grey ink topped with a blue/yellow split fountain

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Below are some of the better shots that I got with my Holga in Yosemite, one of the most beautiful and majestic places I have ever been to. I went with my parents, brother, and cousins. The photos are of our hike to Vernal Falls. I got some really cool light leaks and natural vignettes, reinforcing my love for analog (lomo) photography.

   Above: my dad sitting in the spot we stopped to eat lunch. Vernal Falls is in the background framed by the trees.

Above: my dad sitting in the spot we stopped to eat lunch. Vernal Falls is in the background framed by the trees.

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   My brother Ryan standing in front of Vernal Falls. Double exposure.

My brother Ryan standing in front of Vernal Falls. Double exposure.

 Vernal Falls, overlapping an image of the stairs leading up to it

Vernal Falls, overlapping an image of the stairs leading up to it

   The car broke down on the way out of Yosemite. Fun way to wrap up Analog Day! Yes, we had turn on the cell phone to call someone to jump the car.

The car broke down on the way out of Yosemite. Fun way to wrap up Analog Day! Yes, we had turn on the cell phone to call someone to jump the car.

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 This is Bi, a good friend of mine, who actually went shark fishing on the east coast on Analog Day. He caught 5 sharks!

This is Bi, a good friend of mine, who actually went shark fishing on the east coast on Analog Day. He caught 5 sharks!

To me, the event was amazing and is something that I would like to make a habit into. Maybe turning off my phone and getting outside to try something different once a month. Overall, 428 people attended the event, representing 11 different countries. I sent out somewhere around 30 postcards and received 3 in return (one of them delivered by hand on the actual day). I snapped 1 roll of film in one of the most beautiful National Parks in the US. And I can't wait to do it again! Here are some other stories from people who participated:

On National Analog Day, instead of logging on and plugging in, I unplugged and reconnected with the things I love; baking, reading books, interacting with family, and the day was very enjoyable and quiet. Nice change!
I had National Analog Day the hard way. We had a massive power outage. I don’t have any transpo and it was very hot, so I didn’t want to go any where so I just hit the pool and read a bit.

The Lost Art of Letterpress

Ah the smell of fresh ink on paper! A few days ago Joel Felix and I ventured to San Francisco Center for the Book to attend an Intro to Letterpress Printing workshop. It was so exciting to get to "know our roots" a little better while getting down and dirty with some real printing. We geeked out as we discovered cases full of some of our favorite typefaces cast in metal blocks — Futura, Garamond, Bodoni, Univers, and much more. We learned the basics of setting type (which took an unexpectedly large amount of time since it is so difficult to handle and has to be set upside down and backwards), as well as how to properly ink & operate a Vandercook cylinder press. The Vandercook is arguably the most popular letterpress machine, and is ideal for printing everything from invitations and stationary to larger for posters and broadsides. SFCB had four of these bad boys! I'd get one myself if it weren't somewhere around $10K to acquire one. Eeek!

I refuse to say that Letterpress is a dying form of printing. As we continue to move more and more into an age of digital printing, alternate printing methods such as letterpress and screenprinting will just gain value because of the unique and tangible characteristics they produce. It is not as efficient or cost effective, but then again, I'm beginning to believe that nothing worth doing is easy. Plus it is always fun to get away from the computer and get my hands a little dirty. Our small project this time was two greeting cards. Of course, we couldn't just settle for a typical phrase, so Joel came up with "You are the cheese to my macaroni" and I followed suit with "You are the butter to my biscuit." Both were set in the beautiful Bodoni Ultra face. We are thinking about selling them as a set. 

If you're interested, SFCB offers a variety of classes, including this 3 hour letterpress workshop a few times every semester. Registration was only $40, and once you learn the art, you can become certified to reserve time on the presses during open studio hours. If I lived in the city, I would be there all the time.

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Autumn Sky

I have been away from the blog (and work in general) for a while now, due to a long holiday immediately followed by a head cold. But I'm back! Today's work included a nice, hand-drawn script for local folk-indie artist Autumn Sky. I love doing stuff like this, but man is it tough to get right. So I have to deal with the imperfections. Until next time friends...

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Miami Horror Type Experiments

For the last few days, I've been spending a good amount of time concepting for a poster for Miami Horror, an indie-electronic pop band. I enjoy their music quite a bit so I am really excited. They have an energetic sound that is reminiscent of dance pop from the 80's, but lyrically they explore some pretty abstract and futuristic ideas. So, my concept is going to duplicate this visually: stylistically I want to reference the 1980's and have somewhat of a retro feel, but I want the content itself to have a more modern/post-modern look. To achieve this, I explored some really interesting & unconventional techniques in working with type, light, and texture. After choosing Neutraface (it has a really nice retro feel to it, but can still be interpreted to be futuristic by use of texture and style), I moved forward with experimentation — in other words, "the fun stuff." I love trying new things when the timeline allows it. Check out some of my process below. 

 Some of the type options

Some of the type options

 These were created by cutting the type out of paper, back lighting it, and then photographing it while doing a zoom blur with the camera.

These were created by cutting the type out of paper, back lighting it, and then photographing it while doing a zoom blur with the camera.

 More dramatic zoom blur with a slower shutter speed

More dramatic zoom blur with a slower shutter speed

 Angled zoom blur

Angled zoom blur

 This one was made by printing out what was created above and then photocopying it a bunch of times. Photocopies of photocopies, etc.

This one was made by printing out what was created above and then photocopying it a bunch of times. Photocopies of photocopies, etc.

 Another photocopy texture created by bending the paper as it scanned

Another photocopy texture created by bending the paper as it scanned

 These were created by putting an image of the type on a tv screen and then photographing it. I'm pretty sure one of these will make it onto the final poster.

These were created by putting an image of the type on a tv screen and then photographing it. I'm pretty sure one of these will make it onto the final poster.

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 A little formatting in photoshop, and I ended up with this

A little formatting in photoshop, and I ended up with this

Gracefully Complex

Last night we had a huge fundraiser out at Verge Center for the Arts (where Interval Press is located) in order to support the project and raise money for the next building phase — an exhibition gallery, offices, a print lab, and more studios! So Ben, John, and I decided to do a live silkscreening demo and give away a limited edition of Interval originals, based on our studio and some of our favorite sayings. I chose "Gracefully Complex," which is somewhat of an inside joke, but relates well to what wo do. "We don't know what we are doing, but we do it really well." We've found that most of the time the medium of silkscreening can be more complicated of a process than we ever really anticipated, but at the same time, it is very common to get those "happy mistakes" such as misregistration and unexpected textures that really give the prints a sense of charm and individuality. We've learned to fall in love with our mistakes, embrace our failures, and continue experimenting. Below you can see my process for what was my first attempt at a complicated hand drawn script, and after that I included some photos of the three of us in action in the studio. Check out the full gallery of photos from the event at the Interval Press facebook page. Cheers!

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