Monthly Archives: April 2009

Seven Steps to Parody Design

The Call to Service

People love to steal cool glasses from bars. They break them, too. Some joints go through hundreds of glasses a year. One such place is the fabulous Bulldog in New Orleans.

They have a standing call to create designs for their pint glasses. If they pick your design, you get bragging rights to the glass, a free Bulldog t-shirt, and a gift certificate to use as you see fit.

Call to Arms

Call to Arms

I like parody, so that’s the direction I decided to take when creating the design I eventually submitted last week. Here, I’ll walk you through the process.

The Inkling

First, the general idea. I make associations…. (to be read in an echo-y voice, like dream sequence narration) “Bulldog. Pub. English. Bulldog…. Hmm…. An ‘English bulldog’ reminds me of Winston Churchill. Churchill reminds me of WWII, and that makes me think of those cool old morale (or “propaganda” depending on which side of a subject you find yourself on) posters. The kind from the war that reminded people to ‘do [their] part,’ ‘keep ’em flying,’ and (in Britain, anyway) keep a stiff upper lip in general.”

Putting all these thoughts together, I decided to create a design based on the look of a WWII poster, featuring a bulldog as the famous Winston Churchill “Roaring Lion” portrait by photographer Yousuf Karsh. According to legend, Churchill looks so pissed in this picture because Karsh had just removed the Prime Minister’s beloved cigar from his mouth. Ballsy move.

Legwork

I found images via Google, and damned it this bulldog doesn’t look just like Churchill. Look at the jowls, the frown and the shape of the head. Perfect.

Winston Churchill by Karsh

Winston Churchill by Karsh

English Bulldog

English Bulldog

First Draft

So I printed up the images and took them to the Starbucks located on the top floor of our neighborhood Barnes and Noble’s. Bookstore coffee shops are a great place to get work done. Seriously. Just ask Chris Brogan. There, wired on the magic bean and overlooking Broadway, I sketched away. Here’s the first run at it, from the original page in my sketchbook.

From my sketchbook. Smudgey!

From my sketchbook. Smudgy!

I put the cigar back in his mouth for effect. It looked better. Badder. I had a general idea of what those old posters look like, and I wanted to keep this one dynamic and simple. I only had black and white to work with. No shading, no colors. I wanted the name of the bar, The Bulldog, to be big and bold and at an angle, an effect often used in those posters. I decided to put a Union Jack flag motif behind Winston Bulldog. Then I thought, hey, how about something at the bottom… maybe a twist on an inspirational phrase from the Great P.M.? Oh, yeah… he had that excellent speech about fighting the Germans every step of the way…. On the beaches, in the fields, on the streets, etc…. something like that. Hmm…. This is about beer, though. And this bar is in New Orleans, where, indeed, you can drink beer on the streets. Streets. How about quaffing them (beers) instead of fighting them (Germans)? Yeah, that’s kind of clever. Clever enough.

Final Artwork

Sometimes going from a sketch in a sketchbook (usually done very loosely with no pressure) to final art (done in ink, under pressure to achieve perfection) can be a travail. Not in this case. I rocked it. It progressed quickly and much to my satisfaction. I scanned the inked drawing, adjusted it in Photoshop (to achieve pure black and white with no shades of grey) and was ready to create the final design.

Final Bulldog Art

Bulldog Art

More Research

I found (thanks again, Google) a couple typical WWII posters, which gave me a better idea of the font to use. I also snagged a generic Union Jack motif, and converted it to just black and white.

Poster 1

Poster 1

Poster 2

Poster 2

Union Jack

Union Jack

Putting it all Together

In Photoshop, I created a file and laid the Union Jack down first, then Sir Winston Bulldog, then a couple white boxes, then the lettering. I decided to go with the font “Impact” which is a favorite of mine. It reads well. It’s fairly close in look to the WWII posters’ letters (especially when stretched vertically). It’s strong, bold. It worked. Finally I added my name and the copyright (don’t forget that, my friends) off to the side. Saved it as a grayscale jpeg file and boom. Donesville.

Final Bulldog Glass Design

Final Bulldog Glass Design

The folks at the Bulldog liked it and will roll them out later this year. Don’t steal them, dammit. (I want some.)

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Group Show in Chelsea Opens April 16

Please join us this Thursday, April 16, for the opening reception of “Jazz and Art”, a group show at The Hudson Guild. That’s at 441 West 26th Street in Chelsea from 6 to 8 p.m.

jazz-flyer1

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Randee Silv Show Opens in Queens

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I like Randee Silv. I like her art. A lot. Hers is one of only three pieces we can hang in our pip-squeak Manhattan living room. She made the cut. Why?

She paints with feeling. And intuition. And rhythm and grace and simplicity and complexity. My wife Colleen fell in love with her work several years ago at the Ann Arbor Art Fair, about the time she was falling inn love with jazz. Which is fitting, since Randee’s paintings feel like jazz.

The one we bought feels like Coltrane. Others are more Ornette Coleman. They all combine intense skill and solid fundamentals with a flair for improvisation and personal expression.

She has an exhibit opening Saturday April 4 at M55 Art in Queens (that’s at the Long Island City Art Center, 44-02 23rd Street), with a reception from 5 to 8. The show runs through April 18. Check it out. We sure will.

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Filed under art in new york, Art Shows, Artists