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Illustration

3x3 Magazine: End of a (Print) Era

Posted by Rebecca Blake on September 20, 2013

We were sad to hear the news that illustration magazine 3x3 Magazine has put its last print issue to bed. The magazine has had a good run – in its 11 years of existence, 22 issues have been printed, featuring the work of over 60 illustrators, with hundreds more appearing in 3x3’s gallery, showcase, and spotlights. Although 3x3 is suspending print publication, there are plans to continue to promote quality illustration through its website, blog, books and annuals, and (as reported on their blog) “soon new offerings.” As publisher Charles Ivey wrote in his announcement, “There are projects lying dormant on my desk. Books I want to write, monographs to edit and design, podcasts to produce, apps to develop and design projects in the idea-stage that deserve to see fruition.” We’re intrigued to see what direction 3x3 takes.

The Interaction of Color: Truly Interactive

Posted by Rebecca Blake on September 17, 2013

Interaction of Color iPad app and book, © Yale University PressDesign students (particularly those of a certain age) are familiar with Joseph Albers’ tome, The Interaction of Color, published by Yale University Press. The popular reference is an explanation of Albers’ complex color theories, first published in 1963 and illustrated with 150 rich color plates. The Press recently released The Interaction of Color as an iPad app. The app contains the full text of the original book, including 125 color plates and 60 color studies. It’s enhanced with over 2 hours of video commentary and an interactive feature that permits the user to move and overly color swatches. Users can also create and save designs and color palettes into a format read by vector-based design software, such as Illustrator.

For those who prefer the feel of paper (and want to experience Albers’ work in the medium for which it was intended), the Press is also selling an affordable paperback release of the book, released in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the original publication date.Those with deeper pockets can purchase the complete edition as a two-volume set, including lush silk screens of the color plates.

Joseph Albers (1888 – 1976) was a Bauhaus-educated stained glass artist, designer, printmaker, and painter. In 1933, under pressure from the Nazi regime, Albers and his wife Anni emigrated to the United States. Albers became a noted teacher at Black Mountain College in North Caroline; his students included Cy Twombly, Robert Rauschenberg, and Susan Weil. In 1950, he headed the newly-formed Department of Design at Yale University, where he remained as a Fellow after his retirement. Albers is most noted for his work as an abstract painter and color theorist, particularly for his extensive series, “Homage to the Square.” During his diverse career, he created stained glass, designed furniture, printed woodcuts, and produced reliefs in rock and steel.

Below: The app includes interactive color-swapping and video commentary.
Images © Yale University Press.

Interaction of Color iPad screenshots © Yale University Press

Carrier Pigeon:  Giving Wings to Creativity

Posted by Rebecca Blake on August 29, 2013

Carrier Pigeon, CP9 art © Richard Kegler In 2009, a group of New York City-based artists, illustrators, writers and designers collaborated on an ambitious project: a commercially distributed magazine in which the artists would have complete creative control. A Kickstarter campaign the following year successfully raised printing costs to cover the first issue. The result is Carrier Pigeon, an approximately 100-page quarterly magazine featuring original artwork and text by both up-and-coming and well-known contributors such as Marshall Arisman. Each issue functions as a work of art, with the layout uniquely designed by that issue’s art director.

The perusing – or interacting with Carrie Pigeon goes far beyond the reading experience. Each issue incorporates tactile or dimensional features. For example, Volume 2, Issue 3, includes a magnetic pop-up paper sculpture by cover artist and painter Adam Lister; the issue covers images of sculptures which combine magnets with abstract paintings. The stories (fantasy, dark comedies, scifi, and other genres of fiction) are beautifully designed and illustrated with work in a variety of media, such graphite drawings, etchings, photographs, woodcuts, and paintings. Each issue also features six portfolios of international artists.

Now into its third year of production, Carrier Pigeon recently published their 10th edition, (the first issue of volume 3, CPX) and will be releasing it at the Governors Island Art Fair September 1st. The publication is a labor of love; the limited run of 1,000 copies is put together by volunteers and contributors, often in the workshop of printmaker and frequent contributor Justin Santz. The publishers hope to eventually have the magazine completely funded by subscribers, sales, and carefully selected advertising. Their vision is to keep the magazine as a creator-controlled, collaborative publication, one which “provides artists with a venue for telling stories in an undisturbed environment by fostering… unconditional artistic freedom in both direct subject matter and the interpretation of text.”

Above right: The front cover of the 9th issue, featuring three-color letterpress artwork by Richard Kegler. Below: The portfolio feature for artist Jennifer Ale from the 9th issue. All artwork © the artists.

Spread from Carrier Pigeon, CP9, artwork © Jennifer Ale

Comic Art, Clandestine Operations, and the High Cost of College Tuition

Posted by Rebecca Blake on August 27, 2013

Still from An auction of comic book art held in early August featured two works which played a role in the event which inspired the movie, Argo. The artwork was created by iconic comic book artist, Jack Kirby, the co-creator of Captain America, the X-Men, the Fantastic Four, and the Hulk.  After a long and prolific career at DC and Marvel Comics, Kirby left publishing to work in animation, creating storyboards and animation art. In 1979, he was hired by producer and visionary, Barry Ira Geller, to create storyboards for the film adaptation of Roger Zelazny’s scifi-fantasy book, The Lord of Light. Geller’s vision included a theme park, Science Fiction Land, for which Kirby created architectural renderings.


The movie and them park were never produced; under allegations of embezzlement on the part of Geller’s assistant producer, the entire operation was shut down. The project materials, however, were resurrected when CIA operative Tony Mendez contacted Geller’s make-up artist with a request for a suitable film project which would provide a cover story for a clandestine operation in Iran. The agency needed a film project to provide a cover story for a rescue operation of six Americans hiding in the Canadian embassy during the Iran hostage crisis. The script and Kirby’s illustrations for the Lord of Light – renamed “Argo” for the operation – were used as props. Iraninan authorities bought the ruse, and the Americans were successfully smuggled out.

Geller was kept in the dark about the operation and the role Kirby’s artwork played. In 1993, with Kirby’s permission, he sold the drawings at a Sotheby’s auction (ostensibly to pay for his son’s college education). Two of the drawings were snapped up by a young comic book artist and publisher, Jim Lee.  A fan of Kirby’s work — Jim Lee had started his career at Marvel Comics, where he worked on the revamp of X-Men — Lee snapped up the works without knowing the back story. When the tale behind the operation became public knowledge, Lee (now a co-publisher at DC Comics) realized the value of the work and put it up for auction — also to meet his children’s college costs. The artwork was auctioned off August 2 for purported total of $41,000.

While Geller wishes he had known the role Kirby’s artwork played in the rescue operation (and its true value) at the time he sold it, he remains upbeat about the publicity. As he reported to Wired Magazine, “I’m very, very happy, in fact, to see it in auction because anything that further brings notice and credit to Jack Kirby and his life is important to have.” The full story of the operation was covered in an extensive Wired article in 2007. In November of 2012, a documentary on the Argo backstory, “Science Fiction Land”, received full backing as a Kickstarter project and is now in post-production.

Above right and below: Two stills from the documentary, "Science Fiction Land", showing Jack Kirby's renderings for the theme park. Copyright © 2012 Flatbush Pictures | Brooklyn Film Networks, Inc.

Still from Science Fiction Land Copyright © 2012 Flatbush Pictures | Brooklyn Film Networks, Inc.

Mixed Reactions to Adobe’s Creative Cloud™ Subscription

Posted by Rebecca Blake on August 22, 2013

Adobe® Creative CloudTM logoIn the three months since Adobe® announced it’s discontinuing its boxed version (and perpetual license) of Creative Suite® products in favor of a cloud-based subscription service, reactions from professional creatives has been mixed. The move provides both a deterrent to the rampant piracy of Adobe® software as well as a more stable revenue stream, since currently many users are unable or unwilling to pay for costly upgrades. Adobe® has bundled significant additional features in with the Creative Cloud™ software sets, including integration of a personal portfolio site via Behance® Prosite, integration of Typekit® webfonts, syncing of personal settings, tutorials, and more.

A cost analysis of the individual plans show that for Adobe® product users who purchase upgrades frequently, the cloud subscription service will lower costs initially. CNET calculated that the Design Standard boxed set would cost $1,648 for the initial cost and one upgrade, versus $1,800 for three year’s worth of Creative Cloud™ – and that would include eight additional software packages (such as Premiere Pro®) and online services.

For those users who skip version upgrades as a savings tactic, the new model will be more expensive. (This savings tactic may have been on the way out. Adobe® attempted to offer upgrades to CS6 only from CS5 and 5.5, but after a firestorm of criticism, changed the policy in January to permit upgrades from CS3 and 4). Digital Arts calculated that the tipping point on Cloud subscriptions – the point at which the monthly subscription becomes more expensive than a perpetual license – is 26 months for a CS6 Design Standard and 38 months for the CS6 Design and Web PremiumCS6 Design and Web Premium. Students are impacted the most; the tipping point for CS6 Design and Web Premium Student and Teacher Edition is just 20 months at the student subscription rate.

The backlash against Adobe® resulted in an online petition asking Adobe® to “Eliminate the mandatory Creative Cloud™ subscription model.” Protesters have a number of concerns beyond the pricing structure, including worries that Adobe® will hike up the monthly fees at any moment, and concerns about Internet connectivity, access to files, etc. (Adobe® has addressed many of the misconceptions about the Cloud model in their “5 Myths about Adobe Creative Cloud™.”) As of mid August, the petition had gained 38,000 signatures. Some users have been turning to alternatives to Creative Cloud™ and Adobe® products.

Adobe®, however, has been on track with their projected subscription levels since the release of Creative Cloud™. In a mid-June MacWorld article, Adobe® reported a total of 700,000 subscribers, and expected to reach their target of 1.25 million subscribers by the end of 2013. So far, Creative Cloud™ seems to be a success as a pricing model. But as a solution for piracy, the jury is still out; one day after the official release of Creative Cloud™, a torrent link to a pirated copy was uploaded to The Pirate Bay. Reports are that the copy works fine.


Adobe® Creative CloudTM totems

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