Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Portfolio Site

Believe it or not, this is almost the whole shebang!

Bonnie Gail Cook: Designer and Writer

Enjoy :)

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Tuttin' Away


It wasn't impossible. I think it's a quick-n-dirty way to achieve the effect of glowing text if that's your prerogative. I did a humhum job of dodging the background so take that into consideration when tackling the project on your own. Despite the feats you conquer, crappy craft will come back to haunt you no matter where you try and hide. Overall, I like the effect. Who knows when i'll ever use the effect. Glow in the dark t-shirt business, perhaps?

Monday, April 27, 2009

Recipe for Insanity With A Side Of Disaster

To concoct insanity with a side portion of disaster, do the following:
Give two weeks to complete a portfolio website that, content and vision wise, should take a summer.
Add 21 hours of coursework.
Set timer to week before exams.
Mix in alcohol and lots of high-fat foods.
Bake in Senioritis because everyday you work on the project it is sunny outside.
Cook in insomnia and borderline meltdowns in a weeks time to translate your vision into the rigid and vengeful world of Dreamweaver.
Let cool only after eminent destruction lies ahead (exams from Hell).
Serve to the professor for a taste test, hopefully not too much will need to be revamped for the final recipe.

I'm exaggerating just a little, but it's not too far from the reality i'm facing. I know it'll be worth my time and my extreme panic-attacks in the long run, but right now I want my website concept to just fall in my lap rather than struggling to scan odds and ends, decide how large the site really should be, and perfectly mesh everything into the CSS format I want for the site's architecture.

My site feels like a jigsaw puzzle of pieces right now. I need to complete the complicated yet beautiful piece in a seamless and short-term manner. I'm living on a prayer right now. Seriously.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Student Showcase: The Last Four Sessions

Each year Peace College hosts a full day to celebrate the academic achievements of her students. Lunch is served on the lawn while there is music, dancing, and, for the past four years, sunny and warm weather. The four sessions I attended while at Student Showcase this year were also sessions that I was a part of in one way or another. Because of my academic love triangle with English and Graphic Design, I spent most of last Thursday running up and down stairs between the two academic departments, twice having to go to one late because of the one before bleeding over in time.

The first of the four sessions I attended was the Peace College Prism reading in the Main Parlor. I was the Design Editor for both last years and this years Prism. The Prism is Peace College's literary magazine and it's fascinating to look back on past magazines and see the different interpretations of the text. Unfortunately, Student Showcase is also the day that Dr. Duncan, the overseer of the Prism from the English department loses eight years of his life stressing over the Prism's last minute arrival. Of course they did as they always do and amongst a packed room, a panting pug, and an assortment of sugary edibles, people read aloud their poetry. Showcase always gives a great sense of worth for all the hard work that is put in throughout the school year. Seeing the Prism in its final form is perhaps the most tangible result of my endless hours pouring over the screen and my dorm room floor piecing together a fifty page magazine by hand. The second and perhaps most exciting part of my day's presentations was beginning upstairs as the reading began to get going on the Prism, so I slipped out the door with my parents close behind and made my way back upstairs.

Because I'm a lunatic when it comes to preparedness, my Graphic Design portfolio was meticulously laid out prior to me going downstairs for the Prism reading. People had been pouring in and out of the room so I quickly rearranged my disheveled work and tried to look as presentable as possible despite my skyrocketed anxiety attack being brought on by back to back presentations. My portfolio consisted mostly the things that I am also including in my digital portfolio online with a few additions. Most people gravitated to my book that I created a couple of years back, Homage to my Body. I feel like i'm starting to see a trend in what things of mine people see as exceptional and it has inspired me to make more books that I have had lying dormant in the back of my creative toolbox for the past few years. Other pieces that I included that were of interest were business cards, including my own, a packaging project for The Body Shop rereleasing a certain scent of soap, a completely number based calendar that I painted by hand and then worked with in Illustrator, a CD package, postcards, invitations, and several over ubiquitous designer type projects. I also managed to include in my portfolio presentation the newest Prism from downstairs, an exciting start to the session. Of course as luck would have it, my time overlapped yet again and I was as carefully as one can stuffing my portfolio into my laptop bag and running back downstairs.

I got to the door and Dr. Laskowski was looking over a presentation. I was obviously late. My parents and I among other stragglers stood patiently outside the door shifting our weight from one foot to another waiting for the presentation to end so we could make our not-so-sneak-attack into the classroom. Once the presentation was over and the low thunder of clapping erupted, the outsiders made their way in and found a nice cozy place in the corner of the classroom. Feeling like a herded animal mashed behind a classroom full of people and chairs, I tried to imagine in my head more space around me, and it was impossible to free myself of my claustrophobic tendencies. Five or six presentations later, I bolted to the front of the room and was glad to be free and capable of ranging in my domain of five cubic feet. I wasn't nervous about presenting, although I was pissed I forgot to mention Nell Gwyn and not long after my suave throw-down of the Seventeenth Century whore, the session was over. Time to head back upstairs.

The last session that I was part of was thankfully low-key. Upstairs in the gallery space hung several of my paintings and some other projects, including a photomontage that I created several years back in Drawing [it's a permanent installation]. Everything was looking good there and I eavesdropped on a few people talking about how awesome my paintings were before heading down to the Wellness Center to see the new work hung from the Advanced Graphic Design Studio class. Upon arriving I was bombarded with people that I knew, since I often spend mornings lounging around in the Wellness Center more frequently than a hypochondriac. The new work was strong and it was fascinating to see how differently the approach of the newer class toward wellness was than our class a year ago at Showcase. Some of my old art was still hanging so I went and paid homage to myself and felt good about yet another permanent installation and then as things began to wind down, walked my parents back to their car.

As the hot sun was blown across my back and through my hair in a mild yet beachy breeze, I took a few moments to reflect that my time at Peace was coming to an end, and that before long I would walk onto the stage on graduation day a student and leave it a graduate. I've just gotten a part time design job for the summer so that uneasy feeling of being asked "What are you doing after you graduate?" won't be so hard to swallow anymore. I'm still looking for more opportunities though and strangely enough, it seems like several will be coming from Peace College. This is as much a testimony as it is a plug; Peace College has been life-giving and life-changing. I can hardly imagine the summer is beginning so soon.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Portfolio Site Inspiration: MONDONGO

Sewn art is gorgeous. Check out the details--crucial!


Tutorial: Spraying the dissolve brush behind a cloud that reminds me of a night light

I enjoy the 3D effect that this tutorial allows and the simplicity of the tutorial because it focuses on a certain skill. I want to do this effect behind some type on a future poster now!

this text will magically take you to the tutorial site

Monday, April 20, 2009

What To Do, What To Do...

I am working currently with my images that I want to incorporate in my website. The photographs of my work are mediocre if they don't somehow embody the rest of the sites theme. I'm thinking about some kind of cool border or even some "default" sewn effect over the imagery (in avoidance of sewing down over 50 different images). Hopefully some solution will pop up epiphany-style soon!

Sewing Together My Portfolio Site

I've never sewn before. I surely have never sewn a website together...until now. Last night I planted myself on my bed with my miniature sewing kit and a jug of cherry Kool Aid and began working on my portfolio site's identity. Because of my concentrated interest in women artists, especially women who recreate conventional roles that have been expected of women, such as quilting, painting on pottery, or even ornately arranging found objects on window sills and on top of furniture. Women who inspire me are Sabrina Ward Harrison, the Sayre women, Toni Morrison, Joyce Carol Oates, Margaret Atwood, Zadie Smith...the list is exhaustive. What i'm drawing from these women is the shared theme of going beyond what has been a metaphorical barrier of what is possible for women to do. As a female artist and writer, I've surprisingly heard even in the 21st century stinging comments about where a woman's place is in both of these worlds. Strongly going against this stigma, my design portfolio has remnants of my cultural past as I have tried in my own vision to allow the vision of my feminine genealogy show through, but I have also worked tirelessly toward making something new and and original while managing to also hold meaning. A huge portion of my work is within the handmade tradition and I constantly am using found art of mine within my design process. The quilts of Gee's Bend is what I think of mostly when I look over my initial design concept for my website. The tradition of paint, sewn type, and other elements of image of women are important elements that I want to reverberate throughout my digital portfolio, but I also would like a sexless identity that reaches out to an audience that can appreciate the work without any necessary identity. I'm excited about where my site will go even though getting it off the ground so far has been in the most literal sense painstaking as I have prodded myself with the sewing needle several times. As a consequence, i've learned the value of a thimble placed on the right finger. Finding roots while finding an identity that accurately portrays the self is my mission and i'm trembling with excitement as I see myself allowing it to take form.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

New York: To and Fro

Easter Break was spent beyond the green grass of Peace College. My friend Natasha and I went to her home in New York City and it was nothing short of pure awesome. The road trip began as many do, with constant scanning of the radio to find the perfect road-tripping station of music and the often annoyance with the TomTom's yelling "LEFT LEFT LEFT" if we didn't turn quick enough off of an exit ramp. The excitement of the trip was amplified when a car was slowly creeping ahead of our car on I-95 Northbound. Because I love looking out of the window on a car trip, I couldn't help but notice not only the car but the two gorgeous men that were piloting the vehicle. The humor of the situation increased as their windows rolled down and so did my own. Numbers were exchanged and moments later I was making new friends. Apparently the Marines stationed at Camp Lejune had a holiday as well and many of them were heading home to New York for the weekend. Many hours later through traffic jams, tunnels, toll booths, gas stops, and occasional rain we made our way into the city. As soon as we arrived, I could feel the different energy of the city. It's exhilarating. Natasha's parents had take-out sushi and red wine waiting for us when we finally met our destination, a meal of championship. Considering we had arrived in New York around 11 pm, It is even more amazing that I didn't stumble into bed until around 6 am the next morning. The next morning really began in the early afternoon and I spent the day with Gratz and several renowned Pilates instructors doing a photo shoot. It was a 7 hour event, but it was amazing. Much of the day I was talking with the Art Director of Pilates Style magazine about the design work I do as a student and my interests beyond graduation. Besides making great connections, I also gorged on smoked salmon, four types of cheeses, rice crackers, grapes, strawberries, champagne, and Ferro Rocher chocolates. The night continued as we went to a friend of Natasha's birthday. The music was pumping so loudly that we could hear it about twenty floors below as we waited for the elevator. Needless to say, it was wild in the sense that the small apartment had about fifty guests and each one that was of age was toting a beer or some other form of alcoholic substance for the majority of the night. I helped myself to Coronas from the freezer and a plate full of homemade food. I danced for hours and hours and by the end of the night on the Taxi ride back to Natasha's home I could barely keep my eyes open. The last full day spent in New York was spent outdoors at a street fair that had vendors selling all types of trinkets and once again, food! Natasha and I tried about 10 different things to eat and I bought a warm hat because of the howling winds that were blowing through the streets. We found a Goodwill in New York after our adventure through the street fair. It was filled with designer clothing from Prada shoes to jackets that cost more in a second-hand clothing store than what I spent full price on the clothes I get from Target and Delias. The evening ended by a trip to the restaurant Serendipity. On the way there, we passed Zac Efron on the sidewalk. Honestly, I was buried in my cell phone when Natasha began poking me and telling me to turn around because the High school Musical posse had just passed, so essentially I saw him from behind, which is still good enough to possess bragging rights. The food at Serendipity was enough to make your face melt off. I had a monstrous cheese burger because most everything else on the menu was expensive and Tash and I shared a frozen hot chocolate, edible proof that God exists and loves us. We went over to Sharon (Natasha's friend)'s house again later in the night and hung out for awhile, this time in a completely different atmosphere than the night before. The next morning was when we left, which was in actuality 2 pm because of our exhaustion and Natasha going through her old room to find things to bring back for her new apartment. The trip back on the road was less eventful than the ride on the way up, despite a few crazies in Virginia and some hardcore jam sessions on the radio. Once we were back at Peace, I was happy and sad simultaneously. What could be more inspirational than immersing yourself into a culture that constantly pushes you to see the visions of other people whether through buildings, dress, art, or food. I'll be going back....soon!

Wireframe for Portfolio Site

Nifty Photoshop Trick

It's not often that you may run into a situation that could benefit from this type of application besides page layout or editing large numbers of a type of document, but when the time of opportunity arises, you'll be glad that photoshop offers this time-saving technique. Many photoshop routines can be automated. The times when I found myself using automation is when I was editing a large group of photographs to the same modification and then today when I needed to transform about 50 photoshop files from RGB to CMYK. Not that the task itself is difficult to do, but when you are crunched for time, it's pertinent to know a command that can get the job done. Getting your files together into one folder, you can begin the process of automation in the step-by-step that follows:
1) Open the actions palette in photoshop
2) In the action set folder you will be storing your actions. Actions have to be saved in sets, but it's not hard to do:
Actions are mini recordings (macro style) of commands (what you are doing to a document while it is in photoshop) By using automator you are short-handing what you do in one document to repeat itself into other documents so that you don't have to repeat yourself in each one. You create the action and store it and then when you are ready to apply the action to the batch, you simply press play. As mind-blowing as the concept of "recording" and "copying" yourself into commands in photoshop, it's surprisingly easy. Make sure that you record yourself doing everything you want done to a file and then closing it out in the end of the process so that your desktop is not a tsunami of photoshop documents. If you are going to apply this action to a really important group of images like I was earlier today, it'd naturally be a wise move to "test" your behavior on a small set of images before you let loose on changing a large group. For designers who already spend substantial amounts of time in front of the computer, knowledge of techniques such as automation can allow for important coffee or bathroom breaks, or perhaps even a brief session of facebook stalking. Either way, you cut time spent doing mindless alterations on the screen and you feel more awesome because you have expanded your knowledge to the tiniest increment of the omnipotence of photoshop.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Mood Board Idea

For my site, I think the stronger of the two mood boards is my idea of using a watercolor background with the "sewn" work into the page. It's reflective of my handmade style and my desire to collect objects and reuse them through my design. Wireframes to come!

Mood Boards for Portfolio Site

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Photoshop Tutorial 4

I'm starting to get it. This tutorial in particular pushed the skill of transforming text into shapes in order to achieve a 3D effect without having to draw in all of the lines perspectively or any other insane backdoor method. I liked that I played around with texture as well because I found myself not only working with the layers of making the piece (or the text at least) dimensional, I simultaneously was working with making sure that the texture felt reasonable as well. I think that this tutorial has an obvious skill to offer and if you were perhaps looking for a more faceted photoshop experience, more tutorials or a different one may be required. By the end of the semester, I want to have acquired enough photoshop knowledge that I no longer ignore the sad blue box on my dock, but instead, begin using photoshop for otherwise laborious tasks that I had been accomplishing by hand or by ineffective technique beforehand.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Mini Artist

The beginnings of my painterly passion :)

Sabrina's Studio

Talk about an inspirational space... Love it!

Portfolio Site Concept

Taking the recent Portfolio Review advice to show myself for the things I am most passionate about, I'm going to take the direction of making a website that is not the ubiquitous "vintage" site, but rather a reflective handmade site that feels like the design of my book Homage To My Body and the two years of the Prism literary magazine that I have designed. The site will be functional within the standards of CSS, but I want to make sure that it also is dimensional and feels like one of my found object style projects. A particular artist that I am drawing my inspiration from is Sabrina Ward Harrison. Her work is profound and if my site can ground even some of the type of energy that hers does, i'll be satisfied. In my site, I also will be focusing on making a tight portfolio rather than a larger and more expanded site like my first portfolio site. Mike (former President of AIGA-Raleigh) voiced the importance of not showing all of your work online so that there is more to offer once you are offered the opportunity of a job or a specific client. Between now and the rest of the week, my job will be not so much the gathering of my portfolio pieces, but instead getting a batch of strong digital images of the final products and begin collecting material that I want my site to be constructed from. It's strange to think about my collective process these days being as much a digital scavenge as it is one carried out through magazines and piles of other people's junk.