go home.

The blog of Hannibal, Missouri Artist William F. Leffert

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

On the future of art, digital displays, and copyright

Apologies for not posting anything for some time; I was preoccupied with other aspects of life, and felt I had nothing interesting to write about aside from my enjoyment of Laphroaig and the attractive women in my life.

Artists frequently find themselves at odds with the digital medium; it's cheap to display on (free, if you go with a decent free gallery site), doesn't decay, and allows interaction with fans in the form of comments/criticisms, typically.

Many artists, however, feel a distrust for the medium, so they watermark their works. I myself believe watermarking to be a detriment (see this post), and will only sign my pieces if I can find a tasteful way to do so. After all, with digital displays, it isn't like we've really got to worry about people making prints of the digital version and bypassing us, right? Stretching a common-size (500 pixel wide, we'll say) image to print 16"x20" just doesn't work.

Not now, at least.. but what about when displays become higher resolution? What then? What will we do when 200, or 300 dpi is the standard display size? Once that happens, our preview image becomes something that can easily be printed without any loss of quality, assuming the printer itself is decent.

This is assuming that displays will go this route; I personally would love to see 150-200dpi screens make their way into the spotlight. Who needs anti-aliasing on type, then?

Another possibility is that displays will become so large, that we will have to offer up larger images just to accommodate the fact that peole may be a good 5-10 feet away from their screen. Once again, shooting ourselves in the foot.

So, do we watermark? Do we attempt to create some sort of stifling DRM (read: no)? Or do we change the business model to suit the growing demands of the world (much like the music industry needs to)? perhaps all official prints would come with a seal/stamp/hologram/something else not likely to be duplicated, in order to increase their value.

Suggestions, please!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Case Study: Commissioned T-shirt design

Recently I was contacted by a friend at my college Alma Mater, Hannibal LaGrange College, about designing a t-shirt for the theatrical ministry group "New Edition". I had done some work for them previously (flyer design for a children's show for the theater department), but this would be my first paid gig.

Understanding that a number of the art departments at most schools tend to get the shaft on funding, I planned on cutting them a substancial discount - 75% off my normal rate for this type of job - with the hope of repeat business later on, as well as building contacts back up in the college. I don't normally do this, but I've been itching for something new to do, so this fit in nicely, and I wasn't going to have to spend much time on the design. 2 hours, total, is what I've spent thus far.

Requirements from the customer? Forest green background, one or two colors. Printer requirements? Not a clue. I'm used to dealing with this sort of scenario though.

I approached the first design with something akin to the Pepsi branding redesign; clean, minimalistic, and subtle. This is what I came up with. It's clean, and will be noticable at a glance (they do guerilla-style theater, including street performances, and travel somewhat frequently). It's something that people will be able to recognize and read quickly without having to stare too long. The symbolic detail becomes evident with a little creative observation; I'll leave that to you (it's a 3 step close proximity expression, see if you can catch it).

I went ahead and contacted the person in charge, letting her know that the first concept was ready for her eyes. She liked it, but was looking for something different. No problem, I planned on having to do 2, but would have preferred that the first one be accepted, for the obvious reasons.

She expressed an interest in the shirt I was wearing - A Manchester LTD shirt from The Buckle featuring a heavily distressed flourish design.

Not knowing what the printers could handle, I was a little strained as to what I could design. I allowed myself to mull it over during work, and came up with a couple ideas. Eventually, I figured out 2 concepts which could work, in theory; one featuring a heavily embellished Celtic cross and latin text with the New Edition name, and another one themed off of American Eagle/Aeropostale style distressed designs (older; early 00's).

The first idea proved to be too time consuming to implement, and I felt that utilizing stock art for it would be a poor move given that it would practically be the focus of the design. The second design was what I went with, and this was the result.

I'm now waiting to hear back from the client; with any luck, this will be closer to her desired end. While I prefer the first design, one has to remember that it's the client that makes those decisions. You just have to take your own initiative in order to ensure that you satisfy both their wants, and their actual needs.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The State of WFL: Long time, yes?

Sorry to neglect those who care to invade my life in such a way as to actually read these posts, but I've been busy..

..trying to be a stressed as little as possible.

I've been working on misc. projects for fun, and sometimes profit, but not a whole lot of public works. I've been playing a lot of guitar, working with friends on wardrobe consultations, and just enjoying life. I don't take enough time for that.

I have a gorgeous girlfriend, just so everybody is aware. I plan on taking pictures of her sometime.

The pinup calendar may be cancelled. I'm having a hard time working with some of my primary models, so I'm thinking that it may be a bust. I'll still do some pinup shots, but am no longer working towards the goal of a full calendar.

T-shirt designs have been coming, and I've got another one in the works themed similarly to this one I recently did.

I got an iPod touch for my birthday, and I'm very pleased with the device. There are a few things that still irk me about the tech, but it's better than any PDA I've owned (that's including the Palm TX).

Future works planned: I'll hopefully be showing off soon my latest contract web design, some new t-shirts, some new art, some pinup stuff, a new single (neoclassical shred - you can catch a glimpse of me improving over the orchestral part here), and whatever else I feel like cranking out. I may redesign classicwfl.com again soon after I finish the contract design.

That's all.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

More on Windows 7, new projects.

So, I've been working under Windows 7 for a while. Overall, I like it, but I've found one issue that's a minor nuisance.

When using Photoshop 6, combinations of modifier keys (shift, alt, and ctrl) can cause some hassle, especially when masking. I haven't isolated the exact problem yet, but just be aware of it. The problem more than likely will translate to newer versions, too. Haven't given Illustrator CS2 much testing yet (no opportunity to), but once I do, I'll be sure to share my results. Reason 3, aside from the icon rendering issue mentioned previously, seems to be working fine. No word on Cooledit Pro 1.2, but the basic functions work.

I'm working on redoing an old piece titled, "We Carry our Chains With Us". Some of my older fans may remember it; I discontinued it a while back after my style dramatically changed and had developed my technique to a little more refined state. This one will be a photomanipulation. Not sure if I'll offer prints of it; may just keep it a digital piece, because the original shot wasn't that great of a quality, and I didn't shoot in in RAW.

Hoping to pick up a new design contract here that'll either pay for a new camera, or a resonator (Republic Guitar's Resolian, a parlor-size metal body resonator). I'll probably go for the camera, because I'd like to pick up a 10-12mp with a better lens kit. I love my Olympus, but it's got a few issues, and 8mp is a little limiting for me. I'd like to get a little more detail out of my 16x20 prints, and the extra res will be good for my stock shots. The purple fringing in certain lighting on subjects gets old, and masking is a PITA when having to correct it. I'm looking at a few Nikons, because I've always liked the quality produced. Ideally, I'd like something that handles higher ISOs better; I want to do more night time shots with live subjects, but with my guerilla style, the ISO limitations on my Olympus EVOLT E300 just don't sit well. Recommendations are welcome.

Doing a freebie logo design for a local business, too. It'll be a bit of a rush job, but I'll be sure to post the proofs here once I get it done in the next couple of days, as well as the final. I wouldn't normally take on a freebie job, but I'm friends with the owners, and could use a good logo design project.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

The State of WFL: Tastes like entertainment.

I'm sitting here at my favorite bar, having just finished a burger, and decided I was overdue for one of these. Free, encrypted wifi FTW, thanks for Rumor Has It.

I'm shooting the first pinup calendar set Monday. I'll release the individual shots in a variety of formats - prints of each will be available, as well as desktop wallpapers, so your desktop will be able to match your favorite calendar girl.

Planning the calendar has been tenuous (sitting here trying to come up with sets that possess the right blend of aesthetics and eroticism is a little difficult), but worthwhile. I'll be doing video of a few sets, so fans can get an idea of how we do these shots. For those of you who keep asking: No, I don't need an assistant. I've got one photography student whom I'll allow attendance of one or two sets, but otherwise, I don't really need an assistant.

I shot some engagement photos recently. Here's a sample of one:

And another:

I'll be offering such services officially in the near future. I love shooting stuff like this in a lomo style, and figure it would be a nice alternative to what's normally offered in my area. I still do a few traditional shots (for family and wedding announcements in newspapers), but for the most part, I'm shooting the fun stuff. If you're interested and in the Hannibal area, hit me up. We'll set up a schedule and get it done, and I'll try to keep the rates cheap.

If anybody has a good suggestion for printers, please, do tell.

I've been using the Windows 7 RC for a few days, and enjoy it quite a bit. The UI is a much welcome improvement, even if somewhat subtle. It's fairly fast, too. I've only found a few minor quirks, and oddly enough, it's with the newer software I use. Cooledit Pro 1.2 (which I use for my multitrack recording, and have used for 6 or 7 yeras) and Photoshop 6 run flawlessly, while Illustrator CS2 forces W7 to switch to Aero Basic. It's a (relatively) smooth transition, but still a nuisance. Reason 3.0 also has a rendering issue with the icons above the piano roll, but nothing show-stopping, and it runs without a hitch thus far. More extended testing will be necessary, and if I have any issues with my regular production software, I'll be sure to let everybody here know.

Thank you, drive through.