I personally like seeing process work from artists so hopefully I’m not the only one. About a year ago I made this logo for (you guessed it) Linda Mayer, who was just finishing her Real Estate agent training (or whatever it’s called. A course? Boot camp? Transformation?). I used to work exclusively with real estate agents so you’d think I’d know, and yet… Last month she emailed me for a full sized vector image of herself to use in her marketing materials. Here are the images from roughs, to linears (fancier roughs), to finals. THE ROUGHS Linda wanted a standing pose, with a waving hand, and her adorable shih tzu Chili in the picture, but on a layer she could turn off and on. I made them different colours so it would be easier for her to say things like “Give me the blue legs with the brown dog and the hand from the pink one,” rather than confusing language like “the first one vs the third one.” Which is almost exactly what she asked for. The differences are pretty subtle, since we went in knowing pretty specifically what was wanted. LINEARS After the roughs, Linda requested a different arm option, also on another layer, with her holding the house from the original logo, as well as a smaller fluffier tail on Chili (who is starting to look a lot cuter and more shih tzu-y than in the roughs). Linda didn’t mention the leash (I had it hanging down or wrapped around the arm), so I made an executive choice to stick with the straight leash, especially if the house was going to be included periodically. FINALS These were sent in and approved without changes! I made Chili’s leash orange to tie the room together (and to give some definition between head and body – being all black, I didn’t want Chili to look like a silhouette.) I know I had a hand in picking them, but I love these colours. Redheads always look great in teal. See these images in action (the logo is there, and I imagine the figure will be coming soon) on her website LindaMayer.com.
I recently updated a logo for a friend’s theatre production company. The old logo, in my opinion, was due for a change. I can say this because I made it. Like 15 years ago. It’s an especially humbling thing having to look back at your past work. My friend Brian (director of said company) still liked it (which is great), but for me, it was a lot like looking at your old haircuts or fashion choices; it’s hard not to be too critical, much more critical than you’d be of a friend. We can all stand to be better friends to ourselves, you know? So in the interests of not bashing my past self (she tried her best!), I’m going to post the before and after without a lot of critique of the past.
Boy, did I ever think this typeface was IT. Personality! Attitude! Quirkiness! These were the halcyon days of Homestar Runner, Ringer tees, Myspace. The wrist cuff was on it’s way out, but still lingering. We were basically living Book One of Scott Pilgrim. Quirkiness had yet to be dragged around the block by Zach Braff and Kiki D. (a.k.a. Kristen Dunst). It was still fresh. Was this even trendy, then? I have no idea. I have a keen eye for trends after they are firmly entrenched; a.k.a. I can see things when they are obvious. And sometimes before. Get your blanket statements here!
Unrelated: The playlists Rookiemag.com puts out are PRISTINE. Unpredictable. Perfect. They keep me going. This one is playing my heartsong right now. Remember when I made a painting of Tavi Gevinson (teen editor of Rookiemag.com), blogged about it and she commented on this very blog? IT HAPPENED. An internet connection away from Stardom.
So Brian (again, Skinny Walrus’s Big Cheese… or big Tusk if you prefer) had just asked me to update the existing logo to accommodate his podcast (listen to it!), but I took the chance to move away from the old typeface, which I felt had aged a bit, and to update the drawing…
which by all accounts is a lazy representation of a walrus, fun though it may have been at the time. Skinny Walrus has grown up and Brian was down to let me make the update.
I wanted a little more gravitas without sacrificing fun, and this drawing I did of a walrus pleased me – Walrusy, with cute rolls, a little classic ridiculousness (a walrus has this inherently), mixed with the respect that is any large mammal’s birthright. For the podcast: just add headphones.
Typeface: Any first year design class will tell you not to throw out the baby with the bathwater in a rebrand. Brand capital! Don’t lose it! Plus I didn’t want to sell out my old design for a few reasons: 1. I made it. (see the memorable “be a friend to yourself” diatribe above), and 2) Brian still liked it, so I didn’t want to toss whatever he had liked in the first place. Maintain the spirit, but refresh its hot bod. I also wanted to bring a more professional vibe, and I needed it to go with the walrus drawing, so it still required personality. GILLIAN EXPOUNDS ON TYPE: Talking about type is inherently difficult – poetic descriptions are necessary to communicate the subtle variances, unless you happen to be a human computer that could speak in curves and angles and geometricities (coined it!). And even then, you always wind up asking, “How does the type FEEL?” Heavy, light, playful, meticulous, authoritative, flighty? Does it have baggage? (A. Yes) What era is it associated with? Did some logo or usage make it famous? How would it be judged by laypeople? People of different genders? Businesses? Other designers? These poor little letters, dragging all of this around with them. NOW BACK TO THE REDESIGN
I tried a few things, decided on san serif to narrow it down, and finally landed on this (Intro Condensed Light). It’s clean, bold enough to be readable, light enough to land the “skinny,” and that detail on the “K” and the lone serifed “I” had a little of the old logo’s flavour.
I made this variant to have some other option than ICON over WORDMARK or ICON beside WORDMARK. Plopping horizontal logos into spots made for square or round logos (and vice versa) is such a pain, I like to have a few variations for different uses. Plus how cute is that walrus, just holding court in front of the words like he’s always been there?
We went from this:
If you are in Vancouver, or Saskatoon sometimes, check out anything directed by Brian Cochrane of Skinny Walrus. He wins awards, directs and acts, and also has a podcast and a brand new logo. You’re gonna be so into all of it.
The thing about working on great projects is that it leaves little room to talk about the great projects you’re working on. Same goes for great trips, and I have been privy to both, remedied in one blog post, right here, right now. (I will TRY to keep it interesting, but lord knows you will be skimming it anyway. HIDE NOTHING FROM THE LORD. Anyway, let’s get on with it) I recently contributed a comic to a BEAUTIFUL (yes, caps are necessary) private press anthology called Pack Mentality. It’s printed in the most stunning risograph you will ever see (by Toronto’s peerless press, Colour Code). I have it on international authority that riso has never looked this good. International authority? Who thinks they are hot stuff? ME. I DO. I whisked Pack Mentality away to rainy, moderately weathered London, England for the East London Comic Arts Festival (ELCAF), where it was summarily praised. Just look at it! Wouldn’t you? ELCAF was dreamy, by the by. I sat next to Joe Sparrow, and was flanked by some amazing Italians.
Hot Tip: The new trend is artist created Tarot decks. I saw at least 3 gorgeous decks from different creators. Stunning, and legitimately great idea. The whole show is hosted by NOBROW, and honestly, the people who put it all together were a DELIGHT. They took a lone Canadian under their wing, and we all drank pints and ate amazing thai food like only the British (and people who now live in Britain) can. Nicest, funniest, most relaxed people. Look at these beauties! Magic. Every one of them.
After that I went to Marseille! Beautiful everything! (Sky! Buildings! Sea! Vistas!) Terrible people! (Homophobes! Dickheads! Catcallers! Public Urinators!) The difference was insane. How can such rude, leering, mean frat boys exist in this exquisite place? It boggles the mind. Fortunately, I was there with a like minded friend and we foraged our own little way amidst street harassment, heat, and scooters speeding from the sidewalk through red lights into oncoming traffic. Insane.
The buskers weren’t even good. One dude hitting some drum thing with a stick. All day! Who is paying for this? Where is the showmanship? One juggler, standing next to two of his stoned bros, looking terrifying. Mothers were ushering their children away. Who would ever approach you with money?! Baffling. Poor Marseille. Poor Marseille that also has this, and this and this and this, all just lying around for you to behold. SO PRETTY. The plus side of this loose approach to regulation and law, is being able to go on board a tourist boat to the Chateau D’if: (Real location of the fictional Count of Monte Christo – one of my favourite books!), with your own wine ($4 for an excellent bottle), cheese ($3 for a sublime round), and glasses, and just enjoy them openly. It’s inconceivable that you could do such a thing even on the Toronto Island ferry. The big downside is the garbage and omnipresent smell of urine. OMNIPRESENT. Everyone is peeing in the street and it rarely rains. So you get a sort of piss-seasoned patina on EVERYTHING. And it’s hot everyday. So the whole city becomes an aromatherapy stone soaked with the piss of the ages, released by the heat. Welcome to sunny Marseille! But who can complain when you can swim in THIS water? (Everyone, is the answer.) London and Marseille were the big legs of my trip, but on the homebound portion, I stopped in Barcelona and Lisbon. Quick notes on each: Barcelona Impossible to walk even one block without seeing something amazing. SO BLOODY HOT. I am so intolerant of heat. This was a real problem and impediment to my enjoyment of its obvious beauty. Also the omnipresent message that Barcelona is VERY SAFE… but watch your belongings at all times. Don’t carry your passport or valuables with you. Just keep a wide berth around you and don’t let people brush up against you. Keep your credit cards in your butt crack and then wear a heavy coat to cover your butt. But, really. It’s very safe. I managed to not be robbed or pick pocketed in anyway, so I guess they were right. But my credit cards will never be the same… Lisbon I fell in love. The air is fresh, the colours are so… SO. Old buildings mixed with surprisingly clear and modern graphic design. The metro was so easy to navigate, a child could do it – No – The better acid test: a car-spoiled aging boomer could do it. The airport metro station had some of the most pleasing caricatures I have ever seen. And these are not vinyl transfers, they are TILED INTO THE WALLS. Each one is a notable Portugese figure – writers, economists, play-wrights, artists, scientists, etc. THIS is what well done tourism should look like: a classy, integrated, beautiful immersion into the culture that is interesting for its own sake, not for the social obligation a tourist must feel to stand and read some historical placard. It’s the perfect addition to their clean and amazing subway system – a sublime use of the line up every metro using tourist is forced to stand in to buy their (affordable!) ticket to get into the city. Look at these funny, expressive figures! Notice the subtle names below them! Figure out for yourself that these are famous figures! Ignite your curiosity about a city that asks you in with so bold and yet so quaint an invitation. I fell in love.
This was my room. It was 24 euro a night. I went to a market and ate the nicest lentil daal I’ve ever had, and drank a little cervesa for 1.50. There was a notable police presence, but I’d say the same for everywhere I was, except London. In Lisbon, from what my non-Portuguese speaking ears could tell, the people felt really comfortable giving the police what for. I saw two instances of people ragging out the cops in annoyed tones and receiving measured responses. So that’s something. Then home! I have to thank Jerkface readers for being so cool about the suspended break- as a web comic reader myself, I know it can be annoying to wait but I assure you I am grateful, and used my time to the utmost. Up next for me: I’m helping wunder-curator Mia Neilsen (of the Drake hotel) install her curatorial genius at the WAYHOME festival’s VIP tent. There’s an illustration for real estate agent Linda Mayer to go with the logo I made for her last year. There’s an update of an existing logo for Vancouver theatre company Skinny Walrus. Now, with a podcast! Oh and did I mention the anthology I’ll be doing with MARGARET ATWOOD? Not just her and I, of course. Hope Nicholson of Bedside Press has put together an amazing group of women writers and artists for the anthology The Secret Loves of Geek Girls, and I am delighted to be contributing a comic alongside amazing contributors like… well, have a look at the 200+% funded kickstarter (which ends this week, so get in on it while you can!), and be wowed. I am also going to be drawing another ending for Ryan North’s upcoming choosable path adventure. He did it with Hamlet. He did it with Adventure Time… now it’s Romeo AND/OR Juliet’s turn. Look for that in the foreseeable future.
I recently did a little cat portrait on illustrator.
Not much else to say about that.
Cats are nice.
It’s all in the title, isn’t it? Friend and designer Jill Holmberg tapped me to help out with some hand-drawn type for her client, an event-planning, PR-type company called Curated by M. Click to see the enlarged version.
For the second year running, I’ve worked on the holiday decor at one of Toronto’s cultural institutions, the Drake Hotel. Despite a sometimes… rowdy weekend crowd, the Drake has consistently excellent programming from exhibitions to performances to nebulous happenings. Enough about the Drake! Where’s MY STUFF? Here it is Ego, so chill out: You can see my contribution in the mural of the skinny dipping polar bear jumpers, and the various snow covered trees, both 3D and 2D.
I also did a paint-by-number themed window for the lounge, which I will post photos of as soon as I have some good ones, but you can see all of this in person with a warm (or cold) drink in hand at the Drake Hotel right now and until Dec.30th (ish).
Thanks to the Drake’s Mia Nielsen (curator) and Rea McNamara (assistant curator) for generally being very awesome.
Seeing my own artwork in print does not get old.
This summer I did another comic with the award-winning, magical author of SKIM and This One Summer, Mariko Tamaki. It’s a one-pager called Chicken Game and it’s in the Fall/winter 2014/15 edition of the Humber Literary Review. ON STANDS NOW!
Remember that messed up fad (in my school it was in Grade 8) where everyone in your school started choking each other to the point of passing out, just for fun? Aren’t kids great? Teachers would have to have “a talk” about how incredibly dangerous this is because somehow keywords like “choking” and “passing out” weren’t big enough clues. It seems like every kid everywhere had some version of this. This is what Chicken Game is about. There is some salty language, so be aware, read with care.
Nope. Not bored of seeing that yet.
There’s also an interview. With me! A little yakkety yack, a little blah blah blah.
Big props to amazing artist Adrienne Chalaturnyk, and librarian/hair queen Kathleen Scheaffer for their hand modelling. My hands are so tiny and mal-formed I am always in need of help in the hand drawing department.
I’m not going to comment further, but I made this drawing in response to the wonderful Dr. Nerdlove’s tweet:
… so i made this:
Which if you don’t know, is based on this:
I thought it was such a funny idea, but then got scared of some kind of retaliation… I am hoping I am low radar enough to not get noticed! Just what an artist craves! But it’s idiotic that I am afraid to post this, so I am doing it.
Keep your chins up, all you “SJW”s and “FemiNazis”.
Update: So far, the feed back is pretty much this:
Another piece I did for Normative! (click to enlarge) Technically there were about 9 different drawings, but this is a little combo platter I made for my portfolio site. Oh, did I not mention my portfolio site? Well, it exists. It exists BIG TIME. Have a click why don’t you. On it you will find many things you may have seen on here where they are inconveniently located several clicks away. On my portfolio site, you can take it all in at a glance by clicking the little grid icon. The internet makes difficult things (like looking at the internet) so easy. Enough about the internet! It gets all the attention! Pay attention instead to my character design above! Isn’t that woman’s cape stylish? She sure is using her smart phone to navigate a city! And that gentleman isn’t looking at lude photographs – he too is interested in the culture of a metropolitan area! Or in purchasing more striped sweaters. Technology wins again (the internet laughed)!
I did a sample piece for Normative, one of Toronto’s loveliest design agencies (firms? gangs? What’s the word here for a group of designers in a big office with a glass conference room that I once, without thinking, flipped the double bird through to two OCAD pals who were inside in a professional meeting. That’s the type of classy behaviour you can expect from Gillian Effing Gee). ANYWAY my sample piece (click to enlarge a bit):
It’s a bit rough, since it was (as mentioned) a sample. The client (who remains unspecified) didn’t use it, and I like parts of it, so here it lays. It’s meant to explain the use of a new computer, and if you can’t glean that perhaps we already know why it wasn’t chosen.