Sunday, September 26, 2010

A Post About School Stuff

I am still thinking up thesis topics. Inspired by this video which is long, but highly recommended for all of my designer friends back home, and by my role as head of IT for so many of my family members; I am toying with the idea of researching how people in older generations learn new technology. With modern medical advancements the senior population is going to be the largest part of our society in the very near future.

I have been spending a lot more time working in the studio engaged in collaborative efforts with the other grad students. It feels like the space is adjusting to its use.

The result of a couple of days of brainstorming.

Our living room (where I spend all of my time) was generously donated
by one of the other students.
One entire wall of the studio is made of yellowish, translucent fiberglass. 
This is what it looks like early in the morning when the sun is coming 
through the trees.

Also, if you're wondering what caliber of work they are doing here at Kent State just check out Jason Bacher's digital portfolio. He is one of the grad students who has risen from Kent's undergrad program and a fellow bad ass.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Mike's Place...

A restaurant so insane that it deserves its own blog entry.

Last weekend several of the grad students went on a kayaking trip (pictures arriving at a later date). Afterward we went out to eat and words cannot describe the experience so photos will have to do.

Yes, in that scene with an old barn there is a tiny head
banger, dragon, bus, WWII fighter, and X-wing.
Yes, there are two hundred items on that menu
bridging all cultural, geographic, and ethnic barriers.
Yes, that is a mannequin dressed as Elvis standing by R2D2.
Yes, that is a soap box car.

Yes, that is a poorly rendered 4/5 scale replica of an X-wing.

Local Signs

I find myself cruising around a lot in search of a unique dining experience. Today's journey (after another expensive trip to the famers market this morning) took me about 15 minutes east to the neighboring town of Ravenna. I have noticed that there are a lot old metal signs still up around here and I got some shots of a couple of them before I lost the light.

First though, a couple of type experiments:

I like how they randomly made the counter of that first o the shape of a
dog bone.
Note the subtle clues that this is a western themed bar.

Apparently drive in theaters still do pretty well here. People were lined 
up to the road waiting to get in. 
There are several drive in restaurants here too. This one is closed down,
which obviously lead someone to wiping out a corner post in protest.
Clearly the most awesome sign this side
of Las Vegas. Naturally this is where I
got dinner and I was surprised to find 
such good fried chicken up here.
The tables in the Eastpark restaurant are covered with ads. 
This is a good representation of their style: that rainbow 
gradient is relied upon pretty heavily. Money well spent 
if you ask me.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

The Kent Farmers Market

I got up early this morning and went to the farmers market. It was a good decision.

Everything was so colorful and vibrant in the morning light. When I started editing I realized that it was too harsh for my iPhone and most of the highlights are blown out, so sorry for the low quality of some of these shots.

A little natural vignetting.

No amount of color correction could do these plums justice.

That scale looks like it's weighed many a tater.

Kevin Noon sharpened my axe for $6 (it 
needed it). His business card is a label with 
his info adhered to a wrapped bandaid.

Kevin's files with corncob handles.

Mr. Wood, a soft-spoken and intelligent fellow. He had
endless binders full of prints made from his paintings.
There were hundreds of them ranging from realistic oil 
paintings and water colors to abstract digital pieces.

These guys know what they're doing. The gentleman on the left is a baker
and the one on the right was selling all organic spicy black bean patty 
sandwiches. He gave me a sample and it was incredible. 

Thesis Topics

I have decided to run my thesis research through this blog rather than have two separate ones. For those of you who have never had to consider writing a thesis it is a daunting and troublesome process (at least getting started is). Apparently Kent State is a Carnegie Level 1 research institution. I don't really know what that means, but I guess it's really good for people writing theses.

Our library is reportedly the tallest building in 
Portage County

A thesis is the documentation of an attempt at solving a problem through research and development. I am supposed to be coming up with possible thesis topics, but the trick is that it has to bear some meaning in the sort of work that I want to do. This research will factor heavily in being hired for a teaching position. So it cant be arbitrary. 

I have two ideas so far: how to prevent drive offs when fast food drive throughs take too long; and how to popularize the use of organic pork in small town southern BBQ (or, how to revolutionize  the modern pork industry). Obviously helping the fast food industry is evil, but I want to work in brand development for people with lots of money. Anyone who knows me knows that BBQ is a natural fit, but, as passionate as I am about it, I don't know if there is a career-long pursuit in that.

Unrelated to anything, here's this:

Ok, coach!

My stepdad built this from a kit. I really want one, but I doubt that I will
have much opportunity to ride when the snow starts falling.

What mystery illustrator created this piece when 
she was at Kent State? (Curtesy of Tom Mahon.)

Finally, some of you may have seen this website (don't click if you're offended by bad language) making the blog circuit this week. It was created on a lark by two of my classmates a few days ago and they already have like a million hits and thousands of follows and all that stuff. Pretty cool.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Infirm... er

I have been under doctors orders not to leave my room because I am highly contagious. So another week has passed with no academic progress.

During my thirty minute wait at the drug store I noticed that there seem to be a lot of small snack food brands up here (maybe these brands are in South Carolina too, but I have never noticed). Some of the package designs are pretty interesting when you see them on the shelf next to the major brands which, I assume, have been scrutinized in every possible way to attract the consumer's eye. Many of these seem unchanged for decades, some are very simple, some employ custom fonts or too many fonts in general. I would be really interested in seeing how some of these packages were decided upon.

Not to be confused with Snyder's of Hanover.
They love their pretzels in Hanover 
Almost like delicious little funnel cake niblets.
The secret ingredient: meth.
I think I have seen this brand back home.
I count eight fonts. That's five more fonts 
than the leading competitor for the same price.
Not to be confused with Snyder's of
Hanover. Those Snyders love their pretzels
(chips, whatever).
Look at the half-tone, circa 1983.
Check out that ligature between the t and a, 
I do believe that that is a customized font.
Who could resist that face? This also 
reminds me of the time that Karchie
was still working on one of these big
bags of popcorn two weeks after it had
become stale and after I had alerted
him to the fact (true story).
They're ok.
Wow. That's not Cooper Std, but it sure 
looks like it. They seem to be going for
an art deco sort of thing. I have to admit 
that I sort of like it though. 
This is my favorite. Strong color scheme; 
efficient use of graphic elements; and that 
is the perfect name for a potato chip brand.
Plus, I have always hated having to pronounce 
that e in "cooked."
Finally, you know you're not in S.C. anymore when the drug store has
a liquor section. It should be noted however, that this particular drug 
store also sells lawnmower parts.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010


I haven't gotten much done this week because of an illness that has kept me from leaving my dorm, so I haven't taken any exciting photos to share. 

I did just read this informative article for class which deals with the application of design principles across multiple fields in a practical way which seems much more accessible and realistic than the usual discussions on the subject. The most important and shocking lesson I have learned about grad school is that the purpose of what we do is not to design things ("artifacts" is the word used over and over), but to effect circumstances. Earning a bachelors, and even working, is all about becoming a professional, developing creative skills, and producing pieces. At this level, all of that is understood to have been accomplished and none of it is even discussed; the new goal is to use those tools to deliver unique solutions for any problem in any realm of society. To be a walking solution. This is so far removed from anything I was expecting that I truly have to redefine what it means to be a designer in my own mind. It is not a continuation of my existing education, but the beginning of a new one.

Also, I've started another blog that will be devoted entirely to my graduate thesis work. That link will arrive as soon as I finish the title graphic. Your nervous anticipation of its unveiling is palpable even from here.

Also, this

Thursday, September 2, 2010

A New Day

I got moved into the studio today and I feel a lot better about everything. I got a chance to talk with some of the other grad students and they were cool and very helpful. I didn't get much work done (by, "much," I mean any), but it felt good to get settled in and now I feel like I have a place to go besides my abysmal dorm room.

 The art building is a labyrinth. There are at least four sets of spiral staircases, maybe more. some classes are conducted behind wooden partitions, some held in open areas under balconies with people walking all around. It's a really energetic atmosphere and it makes me wish I were a teacher. I found one room filled with nothing but letterpresses.

My research class is devoted entirely to developing a thesis. Apparently, having grad students facing this prospect so early is something unique to Kent State. It's my biggest worry at the moment as I thought I would have more time to develop more of a scholarly, rather than a practitioner's, perspective of design.

The Grad Studio (most of it anyway)

My Spot

The Room o' Letterpresses