Friday, April 1, 2016

Things I have been doing in 2016 -New Ventures and Projects

I figured I would split up my 2016 blog post into two separate entries. It just seemed to make more sense to me. Last post was about trying to be a bit more real with any one that ends up reading this blog. I think that's about 10-15 people. At least that's what my blog stats tell me.

As I said before I have indeed been keeping busy. The first project that I have been working on since October is I mentioned this back in November and I am happy to say that it is coming along rather nicely. The website is up and running and I encourage anyone to go and check it out. Especially if you are into creating music. It has been a great learning experience for me using wordpress to create the site. I have used wordpress before to create my own website, but I have kept that much more simple using their own hosting and templates. With Expanding Sound we have purchased our own hosting, as well as a premium template. I now have many more options and tools available. Expanding Sound also has a shop, so I am becoming familiar with using certain plugins such as Woocommerce. The plan now for the site is to just continually add more and more content. So far I think our best performing video has around 5000 views. Not too shabby for a site that has only been around for 5 months.

The other project is much newer actually and is just starting out.  Recently my friend Stephanie (who is a talented painter) and her brother Joe reached out to me asking if I would like to help them with doing some "Paint Nights". If you are not familiar with what a "Paint Night" is, it's when you get a group of people together and show them all how to paint a picture. Usually there is also food and drink involved. If you have ever drank wine and painted while listening to music, you know how much fun this can be. Stephanie's Aunt was nice enough to host the party. It was actually on a Sunday and we dubbed it "Paint Brunch". With Stephanie taking the lead, myself and Joe assisting where need be, I would have to say that our first "Paint Brunch" was a success.

If you have been following me on Facebook or on Instagram I posted back in February about how I had a little art exhibit showcased at the Astoria Bank in Babylon for the whole month of February. Nothing too grand, but it was nice to see all of my artwork displayed like it was. Also it was the first time I had all of my monsters from previous "Big Snow Monster Jammin' Parties" displayed together. It was sort of a test to see if I could even display them in the setting that they were. Being that they are quite large and do not really have a conventional way to hang them. But as you can see from the picture below everything worked out nicely.
In other artistic endeavors I have been continuing making flyers for the wonderful Satellite Tribe music collective run by the awesome Pete Demaio. Wonderful group to be drawing for and I am truly grateful that they have given me the opportunity to create for them. I pretty much get the freedom to draw whatever I want and it has allowed me to really hone my skills with not just illustrating and digitally coloring, but I have been drawing my own fonts trying to step up my graphic design game as well. Below are some more of the flyers that I have been creating.

Pete is a fantastic musician who is in multiple bands and has also asked me to draw posters and logos for a few of his bands. The poster I did was for his band The Phantom and the Fox. A great band full of great people. I definitely suggest that you check them out.

The logos I did for Pete were for his band Golden Wave, which is also filled with awesome folks who output killer sounds. Again I was given pretty much free creative reign on the project. The only request I was given was to make it look a bit 90's. The image I was making was to be for a T-shirt. I had great time with it. My first thought when coming up with an idea for a design was of course the wave. But a typical wave is too obvious and is overdone anyways. I usually start most logo design work by just drawing the name. As I drew the name I thought of how I could incorporate a wave within the band name. Right off the bat, the "G" in Golden gave it away. I was able to create somewhat of a spiral like wave within the "G". Which then made me realize that a wave into a spiral is very much like something else that is called "Golden". The Golden Ratio.
So this was the first concept I came up with. Minus all of the color. It was just a straight pencil line drawing. Keeping in mind both spirals and waves, I thought I did a pretty good job of nailing an idea that really encapsulated what I was going for. Though it was a bit scarce in terms of color and depth. I also like to come up with simplistic symbols to represent brands. I think it's cool if something can be recognized by just a picture and not having it actually say what it is. Which is why I also added an actual golden spiral wave to drive home the point. Which in other iterations can work as a standalone graphic. 
Of course, even if I thought I nailed it on the first try I wanted to go further. Taking the idea and running with the whole spiral wave type look. I decided to beef up the text. Play around with it a bit more. Not have it so straight. So the second thing I came up with was this.  
This design was not so much about the spiral, as it was about something that could resemble a rolling wave. I also tried to make the word "Wave" be a bit more wavy. I enjoyed this one and thought it also had potential. And for some reason I really liked the placement of the "O" and how it rested on the "G". I also noticed that the "N" kind of resembled the head of a chameleon along with the tail being the the "G".  
Could it be done? Could I actually fit all of Golden Wave into the form of a Chameleon. I had to try. The answer was yes! And maybe you might say, "WTF does a Chameleon have to do with a Golden Wave?" The answer is nothing, but chameleons are fucking cool. And that's part of the point. I mean, I was able to keep the shape of the "spiral-esque" Tail. So it still keeps that in there. And Pete dug this one because it was more of an actual picture and not just text. In the end I gave Pete all three. I have to say I really liked the look of the chameleon too, but I still also loved the whole spiral, golden ratio, idea as well. My hope is that he can use the other Logo to perhaps reinforce the idea of a spiral being Golden Wave's symbol, maybe use it on facebook or on a sticker, and use the chameleon as the cool T-shirt graphic. I mean in the end that's his choice. And if you think about it, you can kinda make the connection. The golden ratio is hidden throughout nature. The chameleon's specialty is being hidden and the Golden Wave text is hidden on the chameleon. Or you could even say the golden ratio makes up things, and Golden Wave makes up this chameleon. How about it just looks cool?

Keeping with the theme of logos I have made a few more for another friend of mine. She is a sick DJ that goes by the name "That's So Raben". She was looking for something that was also reminiscent of the 90's, something that looked like the Beavis and Butthead logo. She is also big fan of Lisa Frank or she wanted something that looked like the "That's So Raven" logo. When she reached out to people on facebook, she needed something ASAP. I responded for the details. Now I really wanted to do something that looked like Lisa Frank's style and colors. But being that there was no Lisa Frank font that I could find, I would have had to draw the fonts which would have taken more time. I went with the "That's So Raven" look. She was extremely happy with it so I was pumped too. 

A few months went by and I wanted to see if I could indeed create a logo based off of Lisa Frank. I thought of it as a challenge and  quite frankly logo design is another skill I want to improve as well as expand in my portfolio.  This was a bit tricky to get right. There is no actual Lisa Frank font, so all I had to go by was the original Lisa Frank logo and from that image try to extrapolate what other letters would look like. It wasn't particularly easy and at first I tried to draw it out first and then tried to outline it in illustrator but that didn't work out too well so instead I did what I like to call photoshop letter reconstructing. Where I cut apart existing letters and stick them back together to making other letters. Taking guesses where need be. For instance, the capital "T" is sort of like the capital "F", the lowercase "h" is like an "n", the lowercase "b" is sort of like the "a". I would say that the most difficult letters were the "S" and the "o". The "S" because there was no other letter like it, it was a capital letter which meant there was no connecting it to the other letters and it wasn't going to look like a cursive letter, and the "o" because it wasn't going to be connected to the "S" and it was at the end which in my opinion meant it had to have a tail come off of it. In the end though I think it came out fairly decent. 

Another job that I took on this year was from someone that was sent to me by a good friend of mine. Mr. Chris Outridge, who is the head over at CEO productions. A lovely woman by the name of Julianna Backer who is a real estate broker needed a floorplan of an apartment retouched and made presentable to potential homebuyers. It wasn't something that I normally do however I have had some experience with both mechanical drawings and Autodesk CAD. After talking with her via email it was discovered that the job would not be as complex as I first thought. A few hours later and she had her floorplan. As I said I do not normally work on such projects, but I figured it was good experience and a skill that might prove to be again useful.

On a more personal creative note, I have been dabbling in comics for about a hot minute. Just a few panels long but it's something that I definitely want to explore more of. I figured I would post a little blurb about it. Maybe this is all you will ever hear or see about it or maybe more will come. Time always tells. The first one is just poking fun at the absurdity of some zine comics and how a lot of them don't even really make sense. To me they seem to more rely on gimmicky stylization and trendy pop culture references and less on actual wit. The second one sort of continues this idea but more so in the popularity of taking well known cartoon icons and perverting them in some way. Either with gore, sex, or drugs and using the combination of nostalgia and shock value.

Again it seems to be less about witty commentary and more about gimmicks. In my opinion, it almost seems formulaic.  And while not all artists are purposely taking advantage of this I find this sort of substance shallow. Not saying that all zine comics fall into this problem. I just find that a lot of them get praise or are considered cool by people. To me, there seems to be something bothersome about when a simplistic trick fools mass audiences. Maybe it's just me being frustrated for a lack of recognition when the easy road most traveled gets more attention than the one that actually challenges people. In the end I try not to judge too much. After all art is subjective and everyone is entitled to do what makes them happy. For me these comics were a bit of an experiment, one that went rather well, so I definitely think I will be trying to come up with other silly strange comic ideas such as the ones you see here.

I would also like to note that after the small but positive feedback that I received from those two comics and with the decidedly large amount of fun I had making them, I tried creating a comic in the similar black and white zine style you see above, but instead of making it quirky, weird, and gross I tried creating a more traditionally styled hero comic with a bit more of a serious tone. I decided to use a character that I have had for quite some time. His name is Jenkoso. It takes place some time in the medieval ages. Jenkoso was a man who lost his wife and himself to a fire caused by evil pillagers. He becomes a ghost that is kept between planes of the physical and spiritual realm. He soon finds out that an ancient being is the reason for his existence in between these planes and now must do the bidding of this being who also has granted Jenkoso special abilities and powers.

 With this story I have been writing it all down first in a notebook. Creating a much more coherent story, then taking that story and illustrating it panel by panel. I figured that not only would this be a fun experiment but it would also sharpen my storytelling and storyboarding skills. So far these two pages are all I have but I truly hope to start making more in the future.

At this point you might be asking, "Damn Remy, I thought you play music too. What happened to that?" I still do play, the band has had two shows so far this year. I also know that I keep saying that a full length fully recorded album will be coming out soon. However as they say, "Man plans and god laughs." My wonderful buddy and bass player Brendan had to take leave, so there has been a bit of a reconfiguration of the band. My other awesome bud Marc, who has been filling in for Jeff on drums has offered to play bass now for the band, since Jeff is back in town. Marc actually is a guitar player first, bass player second, and drummer third. A really talented individual he is. But at this point the band is now kind of regrouping gathering up the songs we have and getting a setlist ready to play out.

In the meantime I have been working on some songs by myself again and playing them out at open mics. These will most likely be songs added to the band set list in the future. My plan for recording is to get as many songs down in some sort of demo version so that 1. I don't forget them and 2. It is easier for me and the other bandmates to stand back and listen to what we have then pick the best 10 or so for actual recording.

Okay so I think that about covers what I have been up to since the beginning of the new year. Pretty exciting if you ask me. I actually didn't realize there was so much to write about. It serves me right though. I should be keeping up on this blog more frequently. I know I keep saying that, maybe it's not too late to make that my new year's resolution?

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