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:

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


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


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):

And please, if you or someone you love is a creative, tell your representative to stop this legislation now:
(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 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: