Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy 2009!

I hope that all your dreams and wishes come true in 2009! May peace and happiness be your guides throughout the new year.


Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Strange Singles Ad

I've been on Facebook for several months now. Generally I ignore any ads on it. However, it finally started to dawn on me that all the ads were singles ads. I assumed this was because my status of "single" in my profile. So I turned off my relationship status and looking for, yet I continue to get the singles ads on the right-hand column. Most are "Over 30 & Looking?" and feature a photo of an attractive woman who is nowhere near 30. This is the strangest one I've seen, and I'm still scratching my head over it:
What the?! I don't even know what to say about this, other than how the heck did a photo of a dog replace a human in a singles ad? What are they really advertising here? Needless to say, I'm never going to use this dating service, as you might get a real dog for a date. 

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!

I hope that you have a Merry Christmas! 

Here's a cool link from the folks over at Mental Floss on about the first Christmas Card.

Want to give a meaningful gift this Christmas Day? You could always donate to one of my favorite causes and donate to Susan G. Komen for the Cure. (I don't work for 'em, but I believe in what they're doing.)

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

My Holiday Card - O Christmas Tree

So I've been planning this year's holiday card since last year. I had a few too many sketches from last year that I felt were cool enough, so I made life easy for myself this year and started from these sketches from last year:



I decided to "zoom in" on the what I call the "swirly" Christmas tree and use that as my base. At first, I envisioned my standard workflow of digitally inking my sketch and laying out flat color in Illustrator then taking that into Photoshop where I add lighting and texture. I reached my usual point of having all the flat colors laid out and I even made a Photoshop version of the file:


But something just didn't feel right (yes, the blue and purple, but I typically change my mind on colors in Photoshop, so that wasn't a big concern for me at this point). I set it aside and let the idea marinate a bit. I came back to it and added some more elements and details in Illustrator. And then more. And then I played with some of the filters to create a parchment-ish texture for the background.

Inspired by my success with the background texture, I attempted several versions of texture for the tree. However, after much experimentation, I couldn't develop a texture that worked for the tree (nor that matched my vision in my head). So I decided to continue the swirls inside the tree as its texture which unified the design better.

My previous 2 cards featured a dove and I decided to add it in to this card to keep with my tradition and to reinforce my wish for peace for the new year.

While I was skeptical of just leaving everything in Illustrator at first, especially since my work usually includes many different textures, I think the illustration is much better for it, and I might experiment more with creating those textures in Illustrator for future work.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Agile Design Tips

Eric Karjaluoto from smashLAB has an interesting essay on his ideas on ideas blog about how to streamline your creative process to be less rigid and more agile while keeping it efficient and productive. While the changes he suggests are small, I believe they make sense for the most part and I'm willing to give some of his ideas a go-round. What do you think? 


Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Just what they didn't want for Christmas!

I was out shopping the other day with a friend and we were looking at the Christmas stuff. Along with the typical Christmas lights, candy, and displays there was this:




I call him "Gansta Rappa Spuds Mackenzie", and he sings and lights up. He has either a gold or silver plated "grill" in addition to his way cool pimp-dog metal. Woo. Just want I didn't want for Christmas. I wonder how this one got past the suits and onto shelves.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Cool Last Minute Christmas Gift Idears for the Designer in Your Life

Are you a procrastinator? Me too, that's why Santa Nick's got ya covered on some cool gift idears:

For those last minute shoppers with some dough, here are some way cool gifts:
Vertical Blinds Lamp (very clever design and technology)

Gesture-Based Interface (Ok, this one's not out yet, but this is too cool, it could be the future of how we interact with electronics)

Flying Car! (Ah, my dream is nearly a reality! Too bad it's not a Delorean... :)

Oh, and if you do have money to spend, consider building a secret room in your house! I've got a buddy who has the skill. He did one for a friend's parents and it rocks! If you're interested, lemme know and I'll connect ya (serious inquiries only please).

And some more practical ideas:



And if none of those strike your fancy, you could always try something from Core 77's Ultimate Gift Guide

Good luck! This is the last weekend to shop before Christmas, so if you celebrate, this is your last shot to get that perfect give for the ones you love. Or you could hand make them something special, or fake it with a gift from an Etsy shop.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Today is the 60th anniversary of the signing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The folks over at Design Observer have a great article about it. Basically, UDHR is the new "Bill of Rights" for anyone, no matter what country they live in, for the 21st Century. Alas, its adoption is at an incredibly slow pace. Instead of bailouts, this is the issue every person on earth should be making noise about.

Improve Your Looks with Software!

Don't like the way you look? Want to have the perfect photo for your profile on Facebook or Match? Just use this brand-spanking new software developed in Israel!

Apparently these fine folks have figured out algorithms to "idealize" most anyone's face. Right now, it only works with hi-res, head on shots, so the technology has a ways to go. And while the software doesn't try to "enhance" every imperfection, I'm skeptical of the whole concept, and after seeing the sample image, I still prefer the original.


Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Great End Titles

I saw Madagascar over the Thanksgiving weekend. The original movie was good, not great, but it was entertaining. So I figured the second could be fun to see. I think it is one of the rare cases where the sequel is as good as, or in some ways, is better than the original. I really enjoyed this movie and was pleasantly surprised by the end titles. 

So few movies take the time to really make the end titles special. With animation in particular, I feel it is important to recognize all the hard work that goes into making a feature-length animated film. Kudos to Jamie Caliri  and his team at DUCK Studios on a job well done! Watch Madagascar 2 end titles here.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Poopy Packaging Idea

I was in Wal-Mart the other day buying Christmas gifts and I wanted to buy some chocolate for my dad. I went over to the holiday candy section and was browsing the selection when I came across this:
(apologies on image quality, I only had my cell phone camera handy)

What the heck? Who in their right mind thought this was a good idea? Eating "poo"? Really? I just can't see this leading anywhere good. Now Wal-Mart critics may be tempted to say "well it is Wal-Mart after all"… sadly, I found more of these poo'ing jelly bean farm animals on Amazon! Ug. I hope this is one trend that doesn't catch on.


Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Happy Turkey Day!

Crazy busy week this week for me. I hope everyone has a great Turkey Day. Don't each too much and enjoy time spent with your family and friends!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Friday Fun: Kleenex Typo

So as I ripped open my latest box of Kleenex® tissues the other day, I noticed that the strip with the tissue count said "180". I was a bit confused because I recently started buying the larger packages that I thought came 280 in a box. So I went and got another box. And sure enough, it said 280. 



So I put the boxes next to each other, and as you can see, it is a tad bit shorter, but that doesn't look 100 tissues shorter to me. 

Looks like somebody goofed. Oh well, at least they made me smile and got a mention here on Friday Fun.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Seen in San Diego

So I was on vacation to San Diego in mid-October. It is a beautiful city and my friend and I had a great time. And I was able to catch a coupe of signs that made me go hmm....

The first sign I encountered was at the parking garage. While the small sign says "push", the handle screams "pull!" So I pulled first. Then read. Why the hell would you put a handle vertically which is intuitively a pull handle on a door that you push? Geez, I felt like I went to Midvale...(bonus points if you get that joke... :)

The second sign was at the the Hotel Coronado. Here was the lovely outdoor dining setting...

But take a closer look....


So a) how the heck did the tables get on to the grass, and b) are the guests just going to float over to them?

Oh well, at least both of 'em gave me a laugh...hope you enjoyed 'em too!



Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Illuminated Wall Decor

This is one of the coolest things I've seen. It's glowing wallpaper lit with fiber optics, so the patterns actually light up on your wall. Very impressive!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Wal-Mart on Friday Fun!

I admit it, shop at Wal-Mart. I prefer Target, but sometimes what I need just isn't there. Luckily, the Wal-Mart closest to my house is one of the redesigned ones that is more pleasing to look at, at least from a graphic designer's point of view. 

I do hate the self-checkout systems, though. I've always been reluctant to use them. Maybe it was because I was a cashier for a few years back in the day. Maybe because to me it represents another erosion of service in today's "faster is better" world. But lately I have been caving in and using the self-checkouts because I've noticed that as I get older, I have less patience for waiting in line. 

So I scanned my few items through the self-checkout at my local Wal-Mart and was on my way. (Little did I know that the Marketing department had infiltrated the register system.) It wasn't until I got home that I looked at the receipt and laughed out loud (sorry for the crappy quality):


While I will admit that the self-checkouts can be fast, and possibly easy, I've never thought of them as fun! Silly me. Now when I want to have fun, I guess I'll just head to my local Wal-Mart and scan away!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Not-As-Upscale

From my friends over at HOW comes this NY Times (free registration required) article talking about upscale brands feeling the pinch of the financial "crisis". And they seem to be utilizing some low-end tactics to keep the customers coming: coupons and steep discounts. Is this a new trend until the financial storm blows over? For designers: how have your clients been reacting? 

My feelings are mixed on this one. Yes, I understand there's a lot of bad financial crap going on right now and we've all had to tighten our belts a bit. However, if you are an upscale brand and you are trying to convince people to pay more for your widget does it really behoove you to hook customers on discounts? 

I think that in the long term, upscale brands who switch gears and try to compete on price will end up hurting themselves and the perceived value of their brand. Sure, you will pick up new customers and keep current ones in the short term. But once those discounts disappear when the economy picks up again, people will feel like they've being ripped off. ("If x brand could take 50% then, why are they charging 100% more now?")  And those "cherry pickers" who come running to the sales most likely will run the other way when the prices start going up again. So the brand has not only lost current customers, they've lost "new" customers too. 

However, I do understand the need to actually stay in business. And my mother always taught me buy stuff on sale. So I really can't complain about saving some money. And maybe the folks getting these good deals will realize how great the products are and want to pay more for them when the prices do go up because of their superior quality. 

So what do you think? I'd love to hear your comments!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Lazy Cold Ohio Days

I'm sorry that I've been negligent in keeping up with this blog. I really have no excuse for not blogging. Other than it's been cold and I've been lazy. I think I was hoping to continue my vacation in warm and Sunny San Diego mentally now that fall temps have finally hit us here in Ohio.

Speaking of being lazy, I found this little bit over at Trend Hunter: the folks handling the covers over at Cosmo got caught red handed recycling an old photo of Britney Spears that ran in Esquire magazine 5 years ago! Whoopsy.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

All Hallow's Eve Eve

While I'm not a huge fan of Halloween, I thought I'd get into the spirit this year and post this image that I did a few years ago for a friend of mine who loves Halloween. Enjoy, be safe Trick-or-Treating, and watch out for the monster under your bed...

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Wire-Free Electricity

My inner science geek LOVES this story: Intel recently demonstrated wireless power. While it's not ready for primetime yet, it sounds promising and just plain cool!

Here's the link to the full story:
http://www.physorg.com/news138592657.html

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Greek Dressing

Batsakis Foods approached me to design their first product label for Andi's Authentic Greek Dressing. The client had two requirements: include the Greek Key and the blue from the Greek Flag (PMS 286C).

Of course, my first step was to visit my friend Dr. Google to research Greek history and culture. I’ve also been a fan of Greek history since college, so I dug into my old notes to see if there was anything interesting there. I think my favorite part was discovering the different patterns associated with Greek culture. I also learned that there are many ways to make a Greek Key. I never really understood or noticed the subtleties before, but I see them now and am still amazing at the versatility and creativity within just this one pattern element.



While doing my research, I discovered a really neat “flower” icon that I thought might give an interesting perspective versus the traditional Greek key. I also explored the idea of doing mosaic tiles, but quickly ruled it out as I couldn’t seem to get the right feel to the label. It just always seemed too cluttered and busy with the tiles there.




Oddly enough, the cream color was inspired by one of my Netflix movies. I for the life of me can’t remember which movie it was. All I remember is that the female lead worked for her parents in a cool little Greek cafe and the blue and cream colors were on the walls.

Using the Greek flag blue and cream as a base, I broaden the color palate out to five colors: Cream (PMS 1205), Burnt Umber (PMS 491), Olive (PMS 582), and Black. Burnt Umber and Olive were inspired by some ancient Greek pottery that I found in my research.



I complemented the traditional "Greek" typeface of Lithos pro with Trajan Pro to maintain a clean, upscale look for the label.

So far, the client has been extremely pleased with the results, completely selling out of 500 jars at the local Greek Festival.



All in all, I’m satisfied with the label. I wish I could have explored more untraditional type treatments that could have still given a Greek flavor to the label. And if I could’ve figured out the mosaic pattern or a way to incorporate some Greek text into the label, that would’ve rocked it. Oh well, maybe next time…

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Remember

This year marked the 7th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. To commemorate the solemn occasion, the folks over at Rule29 made a pin and were giving it away for free. I checked for strings, but couldn't find any, so I decided to take them up on the offer. I fully expected just the pin to arrive in a padded mailer. After all it was free.

What arrived was coolness. The pin was packaged in a simple box with custom imagery, and a hand-written thank you note from Rule 29's principal and founder, Justin Ahrens.

When I opened the box, there was another custom image that was attached to the pin, which made for quite a nice presentation when you open the box.


On the reverse, the symbolism of the pin was explained.


This was one of the best freebies I've ever received. What could have been just a pin in a padded envelope turned out to a pleasant and memorable reminder of how to present any gift, free or otherwise. Thanks to the folks at Rule 29, especially Justin, on a job well done!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

InfoHOTmercial

Just when you thought infomercials couldn't get any worse...I was flipping through channels the other day, and noticed that they had a "roundtable" discussing their product. I also noticed that four of the five people on the roundtable were attractive women. Three of the women were what I could consider to be hot. And then I saw that the one closest to the camera had the most cleavage showing. I guess they figured if the product couldn't sell itself, they'd help it along!

Sigh. At least I can just change the channel. Or turn down the sound... :P





Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Princess Luna

My dear friend Amanda got married this past weekend near Temecula, CA. As is my tradition, I illustrated a custom poem as her wedding gift. The first step is writing an appropriate poem. I went through several versions until I finally got it right.

Next, I started sketching out thumbnails for the illustration. I had great difficulty in deciding on a pose for the couple. A lot of the imagery that was coming to me was that of just my friend, which would make a great image, however, this illustration and poem is about the couple. So I kept researching and thumbnailing. It took awhile, but I finally found a pose that was perfect for the illustration:



Now that I had the poses down, I need to illustrate my friend Amanda and her husband-to-be, Patrick:


After the sketches were complete, I scanned them and began to digitally ink them in Illustrator:


After I finished inking and adding flat color for Amanda, I examined Patrick's some more and tried digitally inking him in, but the pose was just not quite right (as you can see below). So I had to go back and do a fresh sketch of Patrick in a slightly different pose.


Also, I noticeda few areas that would need to be cleaned up once I took the image into Photoshop:


I decided to make Patrick's post a bit more formal since he used to be in the Air Force, I figured a more "rigid" pose for him would make sense and also be a contrast to Amanda's more carefree pose. I inserted Patrick and the new pose was working now. I got him digitally inked. And then it hit me: in the poem, I made reference to Princess Luna's "silver wings". There were no wings in the illustration! So it was back to the research and sketchbook for me:


And now that we had Princess Luna's wings, I inked them and the illustration was ready. Well, almost…looks like Patrick is hiding, so I had to make a few adjustments before I took the file into Photoshop.

Once I got the flat color version into Photoshop, I added textures and lighting and arrvied at the final image:


I experimented with a new format for my illustrated poems this time around. I set the text in Illustrator and the brough it into Photoshop, where I applied the wing texture as a background to tie the two images together. I added a slight moon-like silver glow to the text in keeping with the "Princess Luna" imagery.


One of the things that has always bothered me about my illustrated poems is how the poem takes up space on the illustation itself. The new format allows the image to stand on its own, with the poem complementing it. With the new format, I'm mounting the illustration and poem to specialty papers that complement the color palate of the image. I received the wedding invitation just as I was searching for paper, and I was able to incoropate the colors from the invitation (or as close as I could get) into the background.

I'm really pleased with the new format that I've developed for my illustrated poems, I think it makes a nice presentation. Here is how the final 11x14 image looks framed:


To Amanda and Patrick, may your new life together be filled with happiness and love!

All sketches and illustrations, as well as the poem you see here are all copyright© 2008 Nicholas J. Nawroth, All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Off to Warm and Sunny California!

As autumn begins to settle in here in Ohio, I can only thing of one thing: thank God I'm headed to California today! I'm heading out to see a dear friend of mine get married near Temecula. I'm staying in San Diego since it is a bit closer to the wedding and I've never been there before. I'm excited, as many people have told me what a great city it is. I'm a bit crazy, though, I'm going to take tomorrow to drive up to LA to spend the day hanging out with some design friends. HA! Who am I kidding? By the time I get to LA, it will be time for me to turn around and head back to San Diego... :P Back soon, and bundle up all ye in colder climates…I'll bring back as much sun and warmth as I can fit into my suitcase!


Photo copyright ©Nicholas J. Nawroth. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Orphan Works = Bad News for Creative Innovation

Seems like any creative website these days is loaded with "act now to stop the Orphan Works bill" and "you're going to lose all rights to your work", etc. I'm sure if you are a designer, illustrator, photographer, or other creative, you've been doing your homework on this potentially devastating legislation.

For those who've been reading and are still a bit hazy or for those who are not creatives, I've done my best to uncomplicated the issue for ya:

Copyrights in of themselves are complicated issues and now the Orphan works bills are even more complicated. So what is all the fuss about? Basically right now anybody who creates anything owns it as soon as it pops out of their head into world. Every piece of art, design, illustration, or any photograph taken in recent times is considered "automatically" copyrighted as soon as it was made by whomever made it. No one is allowed ot

What will happen if the Orphan Works bill passes is that every creative will have to register all of their work in a proprietary database (maybe more than one) in order to keep their work from being used without their permission. If you don't register, or if someone's search is not "diligent" enough, then they can take the artist's work without their permission, alter it, resell it, etc. and make money off of someone else's hard work. Creatives make their money by licensing their intellectual property to clients. We didn't get into this business to sue people, we got into this business to create.

I predict this will kill creative innovation, many creatives will be forced to abandon their true passion in life for a job because it will be far too costly in both dollars and emotions for them to keep creating for a living.

Please, read more about how Orphan Works hurts creatives here (best Q&A I've found on the subject):
http://owoh.org/q-and-a.php

And please, if you or someone you love is a creative, tell your representative to stop this legislation now:
http://capwiz.com/illustratorspartnership/issues/alert/?alertid=11980321
(It's super-easy, you fill in your ZIP code and your name on a letter template, takes less than 5 minutes!)

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Always Practice Safe Labeling!

I've done a lot of product labels since becoming a graphic designer. I've seen the birth of the revised and improved Nutrition Facts and the rise of the allergen warning labels. I'm a fan of making sure that people who are allergic to certain ingredients don't get exposed to them. Especially those who have deadly reactions. However, what I find utterly ridiculous is the "over protection" that the government has seen to enforce: namely, that we need an "milk" allergen statement on a container of milk. What the heck? I'm pretty certain that anybody who is allergic to milk is going to avoid containers of it like small children avoid green vegetables. So I just had to shake my head, laugh, and take photos of my recent milk purchase...



Tuesday, October 7, 2008

CFC Update

As you may have read, I attended the first-ever Creative Freelancer's Conference this past August. I had a fantastic time, met lots of great people and was truly inspired. And I came home with a monster to-do list. While I'm nowhere near being done, I have reached some milestones. I've updated my online design and illustration portfolios and aligned them with my print portfolios, I purchased a new portfolio for my illustrations, I've finally entered all my business cards into my address book, and I've developed a new format for my wedding gift illustrations (I can't reveal this one until after the wedding...be on the lookout for my post about the Princess Luna image coming soon... ;) I've also had lunch with fellow CFC and Ohioan, Melanie, and I've updated my contracts. I feel pretty darned good about the progress I've made so far, but the road ahead is a long one and my path to becoming an independent designer is still a scary, winding road of uncertainty. I admit I'm having doubts. But I'm going to keep going forward. I'm not ready to leap yet, I've still got a few more steps before I reach the edge.

My new illustration portfolio:


Friday, September 26, 2008

Ike'd in Ohio



What was left of Hurricane Ike barreled through Ohio on Sunday, September 14, 2008.

Sunday, 9/14/2008: Day One
I went out in the morning and weed whacked and took care of my lawn. It was windy, but nothing too unusual, that is until about 1ish. That’s when the winds kicked up. These were the scariest winds I’d ever experienced. They gusted to 60 to 70 miles per hour from about 1pm to about 6pm. I brought mom her lunch about 2ish and noticed that my car shook when I was idling at the stoplight and that leaves sounded like pebbles pelting my car. Then I wen to my cousin’s house where I saw a large tree down that blocked their street at one end. As I was leaving, I saw a couple walking and had the woman be a tad slower, she would’ve been killed by a large branch that crashed down on the sidewalk right behind her!

I got home to find my cable was out and as I was chatting with my buddy on the phone about his lack of power, I lost my power just after 4 pm. I figured since the winds were so bad that they wouldn’t start repairs until at least 6 pm when they were supposed to subside. So I took advantage of the time by taking a nap. I thought I would be in luck for dinner since I had a gas stove so I got up from my nap and poured a frozen skillet meal into the skillet and turned the gas onto the stove and remembered that I had electric igniters on my stove. So much for a hot dinner, I ended up having dry Frosted Cheerios.

As the winds pounded my neighborhood, I worried how my new roof (installed in May of this year) would hold up). I think I ran outside every time I heard a crack! sound. Luckily, my roof made it through just fine. The only damage I had was minor. A large loose limb that I needed to trim off my peach tree came down as did a ton of branches. My landline snapped off at the pole. But I don’t have landline service, so that didn’t bother me at all. Well, almost, as I chatted the evening away on my cell phone, my battery was getting quite low. My hope was that I could charge it up at work the next day.


Monday, 9/15/2008: Day Two
So I wasn’t able to set my alarm clock since it had no power. I wasn’t able to set my cell phone because the battery was low and I turned it off for the night. So I got out my old Timex watch and used that to tell the time overnight and somehow I was able to wake up on my own a little before 8 am (my normal work day getting up time). I got dressed for work like normal because as an upscale grocery store, my day job never really shuts down. So I figured it would be business as usual. I went out and picked up all the sticks and collected them into a pile to break down later and did a bit of sweeping up. As I was sweeping, a neighbor passed by and we chatted and she said that she heard that it would take 2-5 days to get everyone’s power back on. I was in disbelief! “Nah, don’t tell me that!” I joked. If only I knew.

I was running a bit late for work now, so I hopped in my car and remembered that my cell phone was off. I turned it on to find a text message from work telling me not to report, no power. So I turned my car around (I was almost at work by this time) and headed to Meijer to pick up a car charger for my cell phone before it completely died on me. The first thing I noticed (other than the fact that 90% of the stoplights I had encountered so far did not work) was that the Meijer sign was gone, another victim of Hurricane Ike. When I arrived at the electronics department, I saw quite a few people milling about and discovered they had all plugged into the power strips to charge their electronics. Very clever, but I didn’t want to hang out at Meijer for 2-3 hours while my cell phone charged. Luckily, they still had a charger for my phone in stock. I bought a newspaper for the first time in years. From first glances, it appeared that the newspaper had lost power too since the paper was smaller and on the front it appeared they consolidated all the local papers into one edition. When I left Meijer, I noticed the line at the nearby McDonald’s was HUGE. I’ve never seen a line like that at that McDonald’s.

I had decided on my way over to Meijer that since work was closed today, I would drive around (while my cell phone charged) and take photos of the damage. So with my trusty camera in hand, I snapped some shots of the missing Meijer sign and the line at the McDonald’s and headed out for more shots.

As I drove around, it appeared that overall the damage was mostly trees, at least in my part of town. I also noticed the most of the stoplights appeared to be out across much of my area. It appeared to be very random, one block the stoplights would be on, the next they would be out. It was kinda eerie/odd driving around. The cloudy day also added a very somber mood. I drove past the Meijer again and saw that the lines for fas were pretty long and I was low on gas. I held out, though and found a gas station with pretty short lines.

I noticed that hot items were ice, flashlights, lanterns, D batteries, and coolers. The shelves at all of our local stores were wiped clean. The other thing I noticed was a distinct lack of utility trucks.

After driving around for awhile, I was getting hungry and my phone was pretty well charged so I headed back home and ate while trying to think of what to do next. Then it hit me...I could see a movie if the theater had power! So I headed over and sure enough, my local movie theater had not lost power! I saw the excellent move, Burn After Reading, which helped to brighten my mood on such an unfun day.



On the way home, I gave up and took the easy way out, I stopped at the still packed McDonald’s and got dinner. Once I got home and the darkness was settling in, I was running out of ideas on what do to. Then it hit me, I had a wooded train kit that I received at the Creative Freelancer’s Conference in August. My friend and speaker and all around awesome logo dude Jeff Fisher had been kind enough to give me the last one at the conference. So I decided now was a great time to put it together!


Tuesday, 9/16/2008: Day Three
Well, work was still without power on Tuesday, but I volunteered to come in and help prep the store for re-opening. That meant throwing way a lot of food that had gone bad as well as helping clear some tree limbs. As I was helping with the trees limbs, a co-worker used his truck to pull off a big limb. We hooked his truck up for limb number 2 and he drive forward and the back of the truck actually left the ground like in cartoons! What I wouldn’t have given to have had my camera handy. I told him to stop because I noticed that he was starting to pull the whole tree down into a power line. Luckily disaster was averted. While at work, I got a call from some friends who invited me to dinner that evening. How could I resist dinner with people who had power? (Literally, they had electricity, what a treat!)

Thanks to a very kind neighbor, she gave me what was left of her large bag of ice and it was such a treat to have a cold drink.

My friends offered me their washer and dryer and at this point I took them up on it since I was beginning to feel as if power might not return. It was great to visit and see my friends as well as to check my e-mail and to have lights after dark. It was also great to spend time with my godson (one of my friends’ three children).

Then I headed home, hopeful that I might have electricity. My hopes faded the closer I got to home as the same exact street lights that had been out on Monday were still out. And then I turned onto my block. Pitch black. I had to use my brights to navigate my own street! I admit, it was a bit depressing to return home.

My house and neighborhood were so very quiet without power. It was kind nice. I continued work on my wooden train. I realized that it must have been something like this for the pioneers. Dark nights in their homes with a bit of light to work by after nightfall and just so very quiet. What a disruption it must have been when the first electric light appeared. And the telephone. That must have scared a lot of people. If you were used to this dark, quiet world after dark, the sound of a telephone ringer in a lit room must have been shocking and awe inspiring at the time.



Wednesday 9/17/2008: Day Four
Work finally had power restored, so I went into the office for a full day. Still no power at home, so I took my cellphone and ipod to charge. It was nice to get back into a part of my normal routine. And it was good to hear from people that had lost power and had it restored, it gave me hope that they were really working on the problem. I was still a bit depressed about the thought of going home. I ended up running some errands and eating out to postpone going home (and to get something done). I was getting pretty frustrated at the lack of power at this point. But I kept working on the little wooden train, it was almost done now and that helped make it all better. I also stared writing down my to-dos for when power would be restored so I could get back up to speed quickly.



Thursday 9/18/2008: Day Five
Another morning without power. I got up and went to a full day at work. I was feeling more confident about power being restored since areas all around my neighborhood were getting power back. I got home and tried the automatic garage door opener. It worked! I had power! I was so thrilled!

Boy, what an experience it was to not have power for so many days. It was frustrating, but at least my house was still there and not flooded out like the folks in Texas. I did find ways to occupy my time. And I discovered that although I didn’t feel connected without power and the internet, I was. I spent a lot of time talking to people: in person or on the phone. I did things outside. Now a power outage of a few hours won’t seem quite as bad ever again.

BTW, a nod here to Coleman. I bought their Compact Flourescent 4D Battery Lantern and it rocks! It went the whole time of my power outage on one set of batteries. The light output was great enough to light up my living room, not exactly daylight, but very nicely from such a little lantern. I highly recommend one! (This was not a paid advertisement, just giving due props to a great product.)

View my complete set of Hurricane Ike in Ohio photos and videos on my Flickr page.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Excuse me while I do a bit of tooting!

I have been getting around the web recently!


My photos and blog review of the 2008 Creative Freelancer Conference was mentioned on the Creative Freelancer’s blog. (hint: look for Nicholas Nawroth)



I contributed a photo of the Creative Freelancer Conference to the HOW Blog about the conference. (For a complete set of my photos from the conference, check out my Flickr page)



I contributed photos of Esquire’s 75th Anniversary “e-ink” cover to the HOW Blog.



About the Creative Freelancer Conference:
If you're a freelance designer, photographer, writer or anyone else in the creative arts trying to make a living at it—or wanting to make a better living at it, with more time to actually enjoy the rest of your life—the Creative Freelancer Conference is for you.
*as quoted from the CFC website.

About HOW magazine:
HOW strives to serve the business, technological and creative needs of graphic-design professionals. The magazine provides a practical mix of essential business information, up-to-date technological tips, the creative whys and hows behind noteworthy projects, and profiles of professionals who are influencing design.
*as quoted from the HOW magazine website.