The Mac Lab

Tag: self-portrait

Best of Both Worlds (Week 13)

by on Dec.06, 2010, under Blog

jenny_s_sp_01_smThe Artist-scientist is one of the Jungian archetypes in mythology. Like all of these archetypes, the artist-scientist is an abstraction of life and the human mind. While never as common as archetypes like the child or the Hero, the artist-scientist is immediately recognizable. They are a builder, an inventor, a seeker, a dreamer, and a thinker. Distracted by their own thoughts, they frequently have to be pulled in out of the rain. They are simultaneously vastly knowledgeable and yet innocent, impulsive yet cautious. They represent the wonder to be found in curiosity, and the dangers.

Now I’m not claiming that anyone in the Mac Lab is a living, breathing, self-aware artist-scientist but we do seem to have more than our share of exceptional left-leaning thinkers thriving by putting their right-leaning brains to work. If nothing else, we’re giving the corpus callosum a good workout as we cross-pollinate the hemispheres.

If you re-examine The 5 Stages of the Creative Process, you may notice a theme similar to that of the artist-scientist’s. Do you see it? The artist-scientist is a creative thinker by definition. Lyall Watson nails one of his or her essential qualities with this gem from Beyond Supernature:

…a childlike playfulness which is one of the hallmarks of creativity. Consensus is rare in psychology, but most workers in the field agree that creative thinkers can be recognized by their ability to entertain wild ideas without feeling the usual need to pass judgment on them.

As you work on your projects today, consider how you might nurture your own childlike playfulness as you pass through the teenage rituals that mark days of this phase of your life. Saint-Exupéry’s Little Prince speaks the truth: One never knows.

We may indeed have a few polymaths, Renaissance men and women in our midst. Let’s hope he or she is willing to look beyond the latest craze to find the prize within this riddle:

Long ago, far and away, or always somewhere near
Conductor’s instrumental, sends notes to inner ear
Harmonic reconvergence, improvisation’s planned
To amend the broken page, pour melodies from band
Watering the wildest flowers, a second-handed chance
To trade in white-washed paddock walls, for suit and horse and lance

What starry-eyed boy or girl, dressed in grown disguise
Would spend so much time looking up, the ears, nose, throat, and eyes
Pretending to play doctor, while double-checking chokes
What’s it cost and what’s my change? the warted toady croaks
What distilled in beating heart, could cease and then resist
This night made for remembering, then good sun’s rising kiss
Dream Yet Complete

••••• ••••• ••••• ••••• •••••

Progress Report: Grades are on the door. If your name is in red, you weren’t in the pink last week. (If you don’t get that, 3 then Me.)

Edublog Awards: I had no idea we were even nominated. Apparently we made the cut and are now contenders for 2010’s Best Class Edublog Award. If you want to vote, do it from home or via your phone as there’s only one vote per IP address. Voting ends December 14.

Galleries: Looking to add exceptional Self Portraits to the gallery. A new Logo Gallery Post went up this morning with one lonely logo. Who will join Fadi with his or her own fabulous logo? Up Next: Posters (details coming soon).

Kudos: Special thanks to Jenny S for the image and inspiration for this week’s post. She’s one of the potential Renaissance individuals of whom I spoke.

1207: Don’t forget to check the Tip of the Day Archives. Today’s tip is an Illustrator Appearance Panel refresher.

100+ New Fonts: I tried to find some cool new fonts for you to use on your logos and posters (coming soon). If you don’t remember how to cycle through the fonts, you’re in luck. Yep! That video’s just for you.

On the Big Screen: Font Video Shorts Week. (Yesterday was too short for a short.) 😉

1208: Not a single student commented on the synchronous theme to one of yesterday’s tweets: Science + Art + Photography = Click

TOTD: Today’s Tip of the Day is packed with typographic goodness. Starter file.

On the Big Screen: Going gaga for fonts!*

*Okay, it’s actually Going gaga for a typographic family but that doesn’t have the same snappy sound. And a snappy sound is just what this video has! (Blocked, of course, at school.)

1209: I told the kids in 7th period that I heard some of you muttering: Why did he show that video?! Seriously?! Why show you a bunch of design geeks singing about a typeface? Because you’ll never forget it. Because every time you hear anything by or about Lady Gaga you’ll remember those geeks. And maybe you’ll even think about typography.

Geek Disclosure: BTW, I consider that appellation a compliment. Call me a geek anytime!

On the Big Screen: What may be my new all-time favorite music video featuring kinetic typography. (Blocked at school.) The musician has a terrific sense of humor and the digital artist loves Tron. What a dynamic duo! (Don’t worry, I bought the song so we can listen to it every day.)

Speaking of Dynamic Duos: Illustrator + Photoshop = A Wicked Tip of the Day! Note: I took it a few steps further after recording the video and came up with this. (And that’s why I’m wearing my DO IT IN LAYERS t-shirt today.)

Reminder: The Last Mac Lab Saturday School™ of 2010 [gasp!] is this weekend. 6:15 to 12:00 as usual.

1210: Am going to be interrupting you today. To make it up, next week will be (mostly) free from Skockobabble. 😉

On the Big Screen: Would you believe someone made a feature-length movie about a typeface? We’ll be watching a short clip but I’ll be playing the entire movie tomorrow during the final Mac Lab Saturday School™ of 2010. The movie begins at 8:30 sharp. No, you don’t have to watch it but anyone who does will see that it’s actually about typography, graphic design and global visual culture. Well worth the price of admission (hauling yourself out of bed to get down here on time). The microwave will be available for popcorn. (Bring your own bowls and napkins.)

Reminder: Please return any equipment or books you’ve borrowed so everything will be in order prior to Winter Break. Yes, I’ll let you check out equipment over the break (if you don’t owe time and/or you’re not in the red).

1211: Interesting coincidence that I ran into this after our Helvetica talk yesterday. How color affects our purchasing habits. Larger version. Wires in our heads?

Steam-Driven Workflow: This Tip of the Day is the first in a series of tutorials about pushing the Illustrator + Photoshop equation. Starter File.

Someone in Your Seat? Read the board and watch this video.

On the Big Screen: The world premiere of Gary Hustwit’s amazing documentary Helvetica. Well, it’s the world premiere during Mac Lab Saturday School™ (film starts promptly at 8:30).

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Gallery 032 — 1011 Self Portraits

by on Nov.01, 2010, under Galleries

max_m_sp_02_smThe 2001/11 Self Portrait Gallery is now live. Submit your entries and join the party!

1011 Self Portrait Gallery

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Multiple Artistic Personalities (Week 9)

by on Nov.01, 2009, under Blog

aaron_l_smA girl should learn to detect and watch that gleam of light which flashes across her mind from within, more than the lustre and the firmament of bards and sages. Yet she dismisses without notice her thought, because it is hers. In every work of genius we recognize our own rejected thoughts; they come back to us with a certain alienated majesty. Great works of art have no more affecting lesson for us than this. They teach us to abide by our spontaneous impression with good-humored inflexibility than most when the whole cry of voices is on the other side. Else tomorrow a stranger will say with masterly good sense precisely what we have thought and felt all the time, and we shall be forced to take with shame our own opinion from another.
Ralph Waldo Emerson / Self-Reliance (gender edit)

All of you should be familiar with that quotation. You’ve been instructed, twice now, to read this post. Yes, please read it again. Whether it’s for the first, second, or third time, you need to understand the 5 Stages of the Creative Process as we’re going to be using them the rest of the year. As the father of a daughter, I wish more of the quotations I post were gender agnostic rather than aimed at the guys. So, if you’re an XX chromosomer (girl) rather than an XY (boy), the sex-change operation (above) is for you. If you’re a boy, and the altered gender in the quotation bothers you, you’re a regular RWAC (Aaron L).

Speaking of Rebel, last week Theatre approached us to design the poster for their upcoming play. Our instructions (on Monday) were: Red jacket, no face, this information, and we need designs by Thursday. I tossed out the project to a few students and here’s what they came up with after only three days of work: Austin W | Christian L | Danny O | Philip B (and you’ve already seen Aaron‘s). They liked all of the designs but chose Austin’s because the play is about a teenager who’s about to explode and they liked the metaphoric look of his design. Austin’s frantically working on the redesign so we can print on Tuesday. Deadlines happen.

Now, getting back to Ralph’s advice to pay attention to our own ideas… Sherman, set the WABAC Machine to 1989…

I was browsing the used CD bin in a bookstore in Santa Cruz prior to the LPQ when I happened upon a recording by Heart. But when I picked it up, I thought, for a second, that it said Earth. What the?! Looking at the typography, it suddenly clicked and I had the coolest idea for a t-shirt design. I went home and sketched it out. Today, that idea is safe, somewhere, tucked away in a box in a corner of our garage.

Over the years I’ve returned to this idea several times but never acted on it until printing a few posters last year. They, of course, sit in a box on a shelf in the Mac Lab and haven’t seen the light of day since they were created. Because I recently talked about my belief in Richard Bach‘s declaration: You teach best what you most need to learn, I’m going to publish this idea right now. This is a painfully plodding rough cut of a much more ambitious concept that I’ll have to learn After Effects to produce. I’ve also ordered the first t-shirt with this artwork and will put it on the Mac Lab T-Shirt Shop for resale ASAP. (Redesigned store layout coming soon.) Since I know you’ll ask, yes, of course you’ll be able to design, print, purchase (about $20 with shipping), and wear your own custom t-shirts. Profits go to the Mac Lab Foundation.

That felt good. Now it’s your turn.

Next up are poster designs, the last shared project between classes. Those of you in 3D, listen to this: Keep it simple, elegant, and purely typographic because you’ll be taking it into Cinema 4D (that goes for your logos too). Please heed my advice or you’ll pay the price. Here are two examples of what you’ll be doing with your logos: Austin W and Trevor C (your typography will be better than those). Back to the posters. I’m opening this up to ideas beyond public service. What I care about is good composition and an appropriate message. Please read up on the Elements and Principles of Design before beginning (yes, there’s a lot of reading today). I’ve begun to set up third party galleries to give you ideas: 01 | 02 | 03. I’ll set up a couple of 3D galleries and add the links either today or tomorrow.

Mac Lab multitasking begins now. You must have an online portfolio (your Website). By Friday that portfolio will contain your self portrait, logo, and poster (coming soon). Don’t worry about finishing. Everything is a work in progress at this point. See the Project Page for links to assignments. In honor of James Cameron, I’ll be awarding extra credit for Avatars. Details will follow but you’ll be posting your proof, if you catch my drift.

Last for today, I’ve updated the time sheets (as I do every week) but this time I spent a few hours reviewing the district’s records. It’s your responsibility to check your balance (each week) and alert me if you think there’s been a mistake. For those of you who’ve cut class (according to the district quite a few of you have), the penalty is stiff. It’s your responsibility to clear truancies with attendance. I have no control over truancy records. If the district thinks you have one, you have one until you clear it. Friday is the D and F report deadline. I’ve scheduled a Mac Lab Saturday School™ for this weekend to help some of you avoid the infamy of inclusion. Look at the time sheets. Is your ID number red? See you Saturday at 7 am!

1103: Just a reminder to update your Websites. I’ll be checking them this weekend. Oh, and you might want to watch this video if you want to avoid inclusion on the D and F Report. What about the self assessment? Reminder about simplification: 01 | 02 | 03 | 04 | 05 | Please review this designer’s logos: 01 | 02 | You have to learn the rules before you can break them. When we break rules (and break them we will) we will break them intelligently.

Student Logos: Gallery 021 Where is yours?

1104: Someone from Dhaka (the Rickshaw Capital of the World and the most densely populated city in the world) in the People’s Republic of Bangladesh spent a few minutes wandering about the blog to bring us to 129 countries. I wonder what he or she thought of our little classroom in the Web.

Speaking of thinking, how about you? Do you think you understand the logo project? If you do, you’re one of the few. Please allow me to explain. <<< You should probably click that link and do what it says. You must understand kerning, tracking, and leading!

1105: We’ll hit our 200,000th page view this morning. (Sitting at 199,968 right now.) That count doesn’t include videos or JPGs. Just the blog’s self-contained pages. Update: 200,002 as of 5:58 this morn. A quarter million should happen in early December. The last 50,000 views came from 47 states (+DC) and 84 countries.

Reminder: Minimum Day/Parent Visitation Day tomorrow.

Hint: Sure hope you guys (my students) have read the instructions (above). I’d hate to be disappointed when looking at your Websites this weekend. That’s all. I’ll let you work now.

1106: Visitors from 134 cities in the United Kingdom have pushed Canada (107 cities) into third place in the global visitor standings. Jolly good showing from across the pond! Likewise, the folks in 81 Florida cities have moved past New Jersey (74 cities) to take second place in the US standings.

Mac Lab students have a growing global following! 😀

Welcome parents! Today the kids are updating their Websites using these tutorials (if necessary). Note: Use Working with InDesign — Take 2. I want to see works in progress and correctly formatted portfolios. See this video for details. (Correction: To change margins go to Layout > Margins.) Here’s the example site. Is your logo in the gallery? Get designing! (Use the graphic tips and tricks video.) And speaking of galleries, is your self portrait in this one? Let me know if you think it should be.

Free Software: Mac users, MacHeist is giving away 6 free apps. Offer expires next week. (Thanks, David!)

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The Fifth Element (Week 5)

by on Oct.05, 2009, under Blog

trevor_m_01_wip_smcommon sense. 1. Native good judgment; sound ordinary sense. 2. The set of general unexamined assumptions as distinguished from specially acquired concepts: Common sense holds that heavier bodies fall faster than lighter ones.
— The American Heritage Dictionary

So, which is it? Is common sense 1 or 2? Is common sense always a good thing? Does common sense always make sense? These are not rhetorical questions. Think. Answer! Which one makes sense to you? I’ve got to admit, when I first came across some of these quotations, I was puzzled. You see, my preconceived notions got in the way. I’d always been told that common sense was a good thing. And it seemed that I was missing it completely because when my dad would get frustrated at me (which happened quite often), one of his favorite rebukes was, “Gosh darn it! Don’t you have any common sense?” (He’d actually use a stronger version Gosh darn it! if you know what I mean.) I used to feel bad about it until I began to understand the dual nature of what we call common sense.

Abstract finger painted words, to dance the metaphor
Makes the rhyming reason, for those who will explore
Twenty-six, pick-up sticks, word pictures do you see
Common sense, evidence, in conflict do they be
Look the question in the eye, extract what’s make believed
Prism bends the lighted path, like notions preconceived
— Skocko / Dream Yet Complete

Do you get it? Did you even try? I know, I know… What’s this got to do with Digital Art or 3D? I’ll let Loren Eiseley help you to find the answer to that last question:

Is not the real business of the artist to seek for man’s salvation, and by understanding his ingredients to make himself less an outlaw to himself?

In the Mac Lab, you are an artist (Trevor M). The artist within, that quality of self which some of you are beginning to discover, will help you find success in your life’s journey. It’s one of the great secrets, as J.C. Kumarappa well knows:

If the nature of the work is properly appreciated and applied, it will stand in the same relation to the higher faculties as food is to the physical body.

I’ve just given you a precious gift. I have no idea if you’ve clutched it to your heart or rejected it without a second thought. Such is the life of a teacher. I’ll let Dan Simmons give it one more shot:

For our race to reach the next true satori, for us to move to that next level of consciousness and evolution that so many of our philosophers proclaim, all facets of human endeavor must become conscious strivings for art.

In return for your efforts to understand this post, I’ll share another secret with you today. Do you like movies? I do. I promise that when I show you how the Rule of Thirds works, it will wreck the experience… at first. Then it will open up a new level of appreciation for the art. I guarantee that you’ll love movies more than ever after adding the Rule of Thirds to your conscious awareness. Visual literacy, sometimes, is simply coming to understand what you already know. The trick, sometimes, is to free yourself of preconceptions. Don’t let your common sense get in the way.

1006: I talked all period yesterday about the Rule of Thirds so I’ll keep this short. If you didn’t read (or didn’t get) yesterday’s post, read it NOW. If your desktop isn’t set, do it NOW. If yours was set incorrectly, fix it NOW. If you’re reworking your self portrait (hint, hint), use the Rule of Thirds to create a better composition. I’ll work on the InDesign Website process today while you take care of business and the tutorials will be up tomorrow (if all goes well). Designing a Website with InDesign? Now there’s some uncommon sense!

Milestones: Yesterday the Republic of Paraguay became the 123rd country to visit our little blog. We also had our 10,000th unique visitor. Interesting stats about the last 30 days: 9,907 Visits from 95 countries including 49 states plus the District of Columbia (no West Virginia) accounting for 50,580 page views.

Peek at Photoshop World: I still have lots to tell you about it but here’s Scott Kelby’s take (do this at home or outside of class) Mean Scott Kelby | PSW in Pictures | Jet-Lag Monday | And oh do I have something to share about meeting these guys in McCarran International Airport. (Sometimes it pays to be too cheap to spend $4 for a little bag of Twizzlers.)

Featured Student Artwork: When Christian showed up at 6:25, I apologized and told him I had to rip his head off (the blog). I’d written the post but had to scramble to find new artwork yesterday morning because I’d been out of town (at PSW). Trevor M, a Mac Lab Rookie, is also taking an unusual approach to the self portrait project. Please note that this is a work in progress. When he completes it, it’ll be uploaded to the ’09 Self Portrait Gallery. Is yours ready for consideration? Show me! I’ll add any and all worthy projects.

1007: Man, you guys were high maintenance yesterday. Couple that with family obligations last night and an early morning in the Skocko household (the girls got up at 4:15 to head to YAT for Fox‘s early morning feature on Peter Pan, their latest production) and we get a one day delay on the Web workflow tutorials. No worries though as it’s very simple. All requirements for the progress report (next Friday) will be straight forward and easily achievable. Work hard, follow instructions, take care of your time, and you’re guaranteed and A or a B. (More details next week. If you’re working hard, don’t sweat the progress report, you’ll do fine.)

Teacher Angst: Over the past couple of weeks I’ve been oscillating between My plan is working perfectly! and What in the world was I thinking?! True, we are spending an inordinate amount of time on the Pen Tool and self portrait, but think about what else we’ve begun to learn about… Visual Literacy to Digital Literacy. The Rule of Thirds to the Elements and Principles of Design. We’ve touched on Color Theory and have repeatedly explored the Inspiration Section as I’ve hammered on the concept of feeding your right brain. (Soon, not today, I’ll require you to read about and embrace the 5 Stages of the Creative Process.) But most importantly, you’re beginning to understand that the Mac Lab is a different type of classroom. You’re learning that you’ve got to be self-motivated. You get to work at your own pace but you have to work hard. You’re coming to understand that moral and ethical behavior are required (admittedly, not a new lesson for everyone). You’re never finished in the Mac Lab! isn’t a whip to make you work harder; it’s a reminder that you can always improve upon your artwork. And speaking of that, just look at how much better this year’s crop of self portraits are compared to last year’s. (If you don’t see a big difference, wait a day or two as I’ve seen a whole bunch of others that are nearing the initial completion stage. Once again, the students raise the bar.) I’d love to feature your self portrait too. This project sets the tone for the rest of the year so you might as well throw yourself into it! Resistance is futile.

Visitor Update: The Republic of Yemen is our 124th international visitor.

Don’t Let Advertisers Poison Your Mind: Sequence of events: Ralph Lauren published a grotesquely Photoshopped image of a model. Photoshop Disasters republished the image, rightly pointing out the disastrous final result of a Photoshopper Gone Wild. Ralph’s lawyers hit Photoshop Disasters with a DMCA and his ISP automatically removed the offending image. (Make no mistake, it is an offending image, but Ralph and his crew are the offending parties, IMHO.) Boing Boing also ridiculed the image. Ralph’s lawyers struck again. Boing Boing fired back. Bravo! It’s high time the “fashion” industry is called to the carpet right here in the Mac Lab as well for yet another pathetic attempt to poison of the minds of our youth.

Hey, Ralph! If you want to make clothes for Barbie, switch to the toy industry. If you want to make clothes for women, try a little honesty in your representation of the female form. [END OF RANT]

1008: Yesterday, as with every day so far, I asked you to read the blog. Today’s no different. What is different is that today you have an assignment. Now, I realize that some of you don’t like reading the blog but I made it clear early and often this year that reading it wasn’t an option. If it was a deal-killer, I told you to take another class. If you don’t follow instructions today, you’ve got an extra hour. No debate. No excuses. No exceptions. Any questions? Good. Today you’re going to create and upload your own Mac Lab Website. If you do anything other than what I’m asking, you’ll receive a personal invitation to spend an extra hour in the Mac Lab. Watch this movie and do exactly what it says.

1009: Would you believe we’ve had visitors from 200 cities in California since April? That’s amazing to me but far less amazing than the facts in the second paragraph. Finish the steps from yesterday first then watch this movie.

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Learning to Fly (Week 4)

by on Sep.28, 2009, under Blog

christian_l_01_wip_smCome to the edge.
No, we will fall.

Come to the edge.
No, we will fall.

They came to the edge.
He pushed them, and they flew.
Guillaume Apollinaire

Christian L is a senior and a Mac Lab veteran. (He took 3D last year.) But before you judge his work in progress, you should know that he never had to complete (or even attempt) a self portrait last year. This is his first try. Interesting, isn’t it, that he’s taken a somewhat more ambitious approach than most first-timers? Why is that?

Not everyone “gets” the Mac Lab. It’s not so much a place as it is a frame of mind. It’s where students learn to stretch their creative wings and discover that they can, in fact, soar to previously unimagined artistic heights. Christian seems to get it. I wonder how high and far he’ll go this year. I wonder the same thing about you as well. That’s right. I know there’s an artist within every single one of you. I promise to do my part to free that creative spirit. Question is, will you do yours?

Trust is time to ask yourself, to find the strength to ask
Questions free the answering, unbinding them our task
Faith is time spent wondering, what we’re meant to find
Imagine it’s your purpose, adventure by design
Belief is time to listen, but who has time for that?
Especially when the answers, knock expectations flat
— Skocko / Dream Yet Complete

My guess is that Christian found the time to listen. My hope is that you do too.

Today’s Assignment: Before you do anything else, watch this movie and try to answer the question. Did you get it? If not, did you really try? Click and click for the answers. Now it’s time to set up your personal account on the computer. Watch this first (and please help one another) then follow these instructions (and please remember the name and password you use).

0929: I’ll be asking all of you to change seats shortly after the period starts so we can all learn to work across the network together. Meanwhile, begin watching this video.

0930: Continue Working. I’ll post more tonight from Photoshop World. If you’re stuck, ask one another for help!

1001: Rather than blog I had to answer piles of email last night. Sorry ’bout that. Here’s a peek behind the scenes. Here’s a Skocko D’oh! moment. And here’s your assignment for today. What are you waiting for? Get those beautiful self portraits up on your screens! Note: Put the maze up if that’s where you are. Everyone puts something up. Help each other, but if you’re helping, DON’T DO IT FOR THEM and never, ever move someone’s mouse. Talk them through it. Finally, a word to the wise.

1002: Good tidings arrived from the other side of the world. It’s Friday and I planned to throw in a report about yesterday’s Photoshop World adventures, and something really special… but it might be better for all if we just focus on the assignment for Monday (see yesterday’s post). Have you finished the assignment? (Trick question. You’re NEVER finished in the Mac Lab!) Improve upon what you have. Still looking at the default purplish desktop? Git-R-Done! (DO NOT explore that link in the Mac Lab. Click it. Get it. These aren’t the droids you’re looking for. Move along. Move along.)

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Learn it all.