Saturday, March 6, 2010

Portfolio Preview

Need to find a job soon, so here's where the portfolio's headed

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Boredom is directly proportional to geekitude

I've noticed that when I'm on co-op I get bored easily. Moving to a place where you literally have zero friends is not easy, especially for the first month so, and you find yourself with an absurd amount of down time. While I should be doing something constructive with my spare time (I currently have two huge school things looming over me) I find that I am watching movies and, gasp, reading comic books.

I've never been afraid to call myself a geek. I can quote a few lines of Shakespeare, I know what "ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny" means, I'll talk for hours about why Star Wars is my favorite movie of all time, I can recite Willow in its entirety and I saw both Batman Begins and The Dark Knight twice the day they opened. But comics? They were always that next level of geek I wouldn't cross. One step beyond random trivia and one before Dungeons and Dragons. Then, mostly because covers comics along with movies and video games, I became curious. I kept reading articles about the graphic novels that were more than just superhero stories, blurring the lines between comic and literature. I had to find out for myself.

I've always been attracted to the images. The human body is an incredible work of art, and nearly everyone in a comic is a perfectly sculpted human form placed in impossible poses that accentuate and highlight that artistic beauty. The ability of the artists to bring these characters to life in this way blows the artistic side of my mind.

But are they more than pretty pictures? Yes and no...mostly no. I still hold out on going anywhere near picking up the latest monthly issue of (insert name)-man as they don't even attempt anything more than an quick story and a few splash pages. But the graphic novels, those written as a single story over a collection of issues, are crafted with much more purpose. They are where the critical and literary acclaim comes into play. I will admit that they have the makings of great story telling, but simply lack the depth of a true novel.

Take the Batman. When viewed through a lens that encompasses the entire collection of bat-mythology, there are some fantastic literary elements: vengeance born from tragedy, skewed justification of morally grey acts, an invented persona eclipsing a real one...These are the things of modern storytelling. But individual works fall short of exploring these themes with any amount of depth. They touch on them, but the reader must assume quite a bit about the writer's intentions if they wish to fill in the gaps with any amount of analysis. It's as if the true comic fans want so desperately for their domain to be accepted as literary art that they try to wring every drop of meaning out of the fifteen words in each panel. I've seen people tout "The Dark Knight Returns" as a quintessential example of postmodern literature. It's got great art and a sweet story but is so concerned with plot that it is only able to skim the surface of its themes.

Plot, then, becomes the downfall of any attempt at literary excellence for many graphic novels. Born from simpler ideas of telling stories of super men and noble crime fighters, graphic novels struggle to break from their roots. With only so much room on a page, priorities must be set. Sadly, story wins all too often, leaving character exploration behind.

Recent works have really pushed the visual boundaries, utilizing fine artists to create each panel as individual paintings. Perhaps the storytelling boundaries aren't far behind.

All that said, good graphic novels are still a quick, interesting read. Here's some, that I've enjoyed:

The only comic on TIME's list of the best works of English literature since 1923 - some really cool elements that break the normal comic book formula (e.g. entire chapters of fake books) - just try to forget about the giant squid (you'll know when you get to it)

The Dark Knight Returns
Probably the best example of all of the qualities that make Batman so unique (i.e. darkness, master planner, unwillingness to kill, etc.)

Superman: Red Son
I'm not a Superman fan, but Red Son, set in a world where Superman crash lands in Soviet Russia rather than the US, is an interesting take on the character reminiscent of Animal Farm.

Thursday, September 10, 2009


Got bored last night and started another character project, a snow sniper. Maybe I'll actually finish this one. I'm finished with the major values, but it still needs a ton of detail, some texturing, and a more dynamic lighting setup (I can hear Tony yelling "Warms and cools!")

Saturday, September 5, 2009


I've needed a new camera for ages and have been forced into borrowing in the meantime (thanks Sam and Sally.) I finally found a good deal on a refurb Sony dslr and took the plunge. I love new toys.

It occurred to me that I usually wake up for work before sunrise, so to kick off the holiday weekend I strolled down to Piedmont Park here in Atlanta and took some picture of the sun coming up over the lake. Check our the rest on my Flickr page.

Note: If you ever plan on photographing a sunrise, be sure to remember to bring you sunglasses.

Monday, August 31, 2009

New Portfolio

After working this weekend on an older project I wanted to put into the portfolio, I realized that I sucked more than I thought at sketching a year ago and need to put in quite a bit of work to get that project ready to show. I'll take those first couple of weeks in DesComm to work on it, but for now here is the newest compilation, complete with chair:

My goal was to give it a little more personal style, and I think the new color palette helps. Once I complete my last project, I'll have a wide enough range of designs to be able to tailor the portfolio to specific employers.

Last shot at the dream co-op. Even though "In [Obi-Wan Kenobi's] experience there's no such thing as luck," I could use some.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

What a difference style and design can make

James Cameron hasn't made a movie since Titanic. Considering it made over a billion dollars, I guess he has an excuse. His next effort, Avatar (due out in December), has been one of the most widely anticipated movies among the wide circle of internet movie geeks. That is, it was until Friday and the debut of Avatar's first trailer. Since then tones have changed from giddy anticipation to increasing skepticism.

Initial buzz surrounded the film's radical use of CG and 3D, which Cameron says has been in development for over 10 years. 90 percent of the movie is [supposedly] computer generated to photo-realistic quality, and Cameron claims it will usher in a new era for 3D cinema. Everyone was on board until last week's trailer.

So why the drastic change? Unlike my fanboy counterparts, I really didn't have any bias for or against the film leading up to the trailer and went in with an open mind. Am I still curious about the movie? Yeah, but by no means am I excited. My problem is that the images I saw did not live up to Cameron's claims of "photo-realism." Characters and story are much more important than pretty pictures, though, and this could still be a great film. I don't believe this is where the majority of the negativity is coming from.

My completely uninformed opinion is that people were turned off by the fact that the aliens look like pussies. Seriously, they look like Thundercats with down syndrome, and they're supposed to battle giant beasts and robots? An audience can't be expected to buy into that when they look like they would get their asses kicked by a spray bottle wielding eight-year-old?

Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe expectations were too high. Maybe Cameron will revolutionize the movies industry and go on to make another billion dollars. Who knows at this point. My money, though, is on the eight-year-old.

Been a while...

Sadly, this is the second time I've written this message. It's been almost two months since my last post. It's not that I haven't had anything to say. I'm just really lazy. In the next few weeks, before school starts, I will attempt to make up for it. As a little preview, here's what I plan on throwing out there:

- Star Wars Design - The Art of Clunk (provoked by John Scalzi's Guide to the Most Epic FAILS in Star Wars Design)

- Becoming an Instant Expert - How Industrial Designers' Research Methods Create Everyday Obsessions

- Opinions on some of the movies I saw and the books I read this summer (possibly:Terminator 4, Up, Bruno, The Hangover, Funny People, District 9, Transformers 2, Star Trek, GI Joe, Inglorious Basterds - Scott Robertson's Start Your Engines and Lift Off, The Simpsons and Philosophy, Batman and Philosophy)

- An updated portfolio (nearly finished - just need to back sketch on one more project)

- My adoration for the three An Evening with Kevin Smith dvds

- More props to Crossfit and Crossfit Atlanta

Until then, I'll leave you with a small sample of the new portfolio

Friday, July 10, 2009


Did my first successful, non-assisted muscle-up yesterday. I got to put my name on a board and everything.

Muscle-up demo

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

I haven't felt like this since...

There are very few things I get more satisfaction out of than physical exhaustion. If I'm sore, tired, limping...whatever, I feel incredibly fulfilled knowing I pushed myself beyond my limits. When I played football and baseball I took this feeling for granted. I am, however, no longer regularly beaten to a pulp and relish in any opportunity to regain this feeling. That being said, I feel like shit right now. My latest 3-day set of Crossfit was:

Max weight back squat, shoulder press and deadlift (new PR at 140 kg/308 lbs)

5 rounds for time: run 800m, 30 1.25 pood kettle bell swings, 30 pull ups

Run 10k

I was obviously sore from Monday, Tuesday was aweful (it took almost an hour whereas most Crossfit workouts take 20 min or less), and the 10k was the icing.

I've got a massive blister on my foot, my hands are torn to shit, walking is a chore and I doubt I could do a single pull up right now. After my run today I realized that this is probably the most physically strained I've been since the aftermath of the Flying Pig last spring, which is fucking fantastic. Crossfit is not simply a workout plan; it's a sport. I'm starting to love it as much as any other.

Crossfit Atlanta - the best part of my day

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Can I really force myself to do this?

I hated Transformers. I hate Michael Bay. I'm not sure if I've ever seen a movie that perfectly made for stupid people - not to mention the fact that it was made by one of the most arrogant men in the world. In no way shape or form do I want to support Bay or his franchise by seeing Revenge of the Fallen.

That being said, not going to see it is tearing me apart. One of my earliest memories is my absolute devotion to Transformers: The Movie, the 1986 animated feature based on the original cartoon. I LOVED THE TRANSFORMERS. Whenever my mom would ask me at breakfast what I had dreamed about the night before and I didn't remember, I answered with "I met Optimus Prime." I had the toys. I watched the show. It was awesome.

I have also come to respect good animation and CGI, having had a small taste of how insanely difficult they are, and watch bad movies if only to see good CGI the same way I would watch a bad movie if it had stunning cinematography. Needless to say, the effects in Transformers were spectacular, and they promise to be even better in the sequel.

I fear there is some inescapable force pulling me to the movie theater. Can I resist it? Do I really want to? Maybe I can somehow arrange a way to go, beat the shit our of Michael Bay as I leave the theater and take back the $9.50 he'll owe me. If only...If only...

Just try and tell me you didn't cry when Optimus Prime died.

P.S. My little sis really needs your prayers. I'll explain when it's more appropriate, but please keep her in your thoughts.