Tuesday, July 31, 2007

I've been meaning to do so for ages but I've finally managed to bring my long dormant webpage at www.scottsaavedra.com back to life. Visitors will find two galleries currently: one devoted to my design work and one to illustration. As soon as I get a chance I will put up another gallery of comic book-related stuff as well. As these things often are, it's a work in progress.

My first webpage went live around 1994 or so and was coded with my own two little hands. This time I took advantage of a couple of welcome assists to get my latest version up and running. Nvu is a free web authoring tool and while it was a bit dodgy here and there it was invaluable. Also of tremendous help was SimpleViewer, free from the talented and generous folks at Airtight Interactive.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Cars As Art & Art with Cars

Took the family to the Blackhawk Museum yesterday. You wouldn't know it from the name nor are their any clues on the grand building that houses the collection but the Blackhawk is a car museum. And a beautiful one at that. Every vehicle sparkles and shines like jewels which I suppose in a manner of speaking they are. I am not an automobile enthusiast but as examples of craftsmanship and design the cars, mainly touring and racing models -- some one of a kind -- from the '30s to the '60s, were quite wonderful. Also of interest: a small gallery of car-related art. Though not always indicated as such some of the paintings were obviously created for advertising purposes (fine artists of the thirties weren't too likely to paste photostats of branded tires to their work). Especially neat to see was the huge mechanically animated car product (forgot exactly what) salesman's display case and the creepy/funny yard-high 100+ year-old Michelin Man advertising model. Worth a visit if you ever find yourself in the San Francisco bay area.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Tony Salmons

My first--and currently defunct--blog, Comic Book Heaven, continues to get several hits a day (via Google image searches mostly) and on occasion old posts get fresh comments. Artist Tony Salmons recently added his two-cents to my brief recollections of our meeting with the late, great comic book artist/animation character designer Alex Toth years ago. I had forgotten that Tony was one of the fans visiting that day but I very much recall my exposure to Tony's work early in his career. It was via photocopies of his art that were passed around by other artists who would take turns eagerly devouring each and every brushstroke before reluctantly returning the copies to the original (lucky) owner. In those pre-Interweb days that was how you were exposed to new talent: you had to know someone who knew someone who knew someone else. Tony's art still impresses and you can see some of his more recent efforts here.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Business Card for a Supreme Commander

Assignment: Design a new business card for Dan Vado, "Supreme Commander" of SLG Publishing and make it look like it belongs to -- and I'm quoting from my notes here -- a "guy with space armies." Initially, I expected to kind of nail the assignment right away as it sounded like a fun thing to do but I stumbled a bit with my first couple of attempts, one of which is seen below:

The design was deemed "too Aryan" and got the thumbs down. But my next attempt nailed the look Dan was hoping for:

While I was happy to end up with a successful design I was sorry to see the SLG Logo Eagle get dropped as I had spent some time on it. But creativity is rarely wasted around here and with a few modifications the Logo Eagle will be appearing on the SLG staff shirts at this year's Comic-Con (click on the image to see it larger):

By the way, the Latin phrase frigus quam vos translates to "cooler than you" (I love the way Latin makes a jerk-y statement sound noble).

A couple of design notes regarding the business cards: The final card design was more successful in part because I spent extra time immersing myself in mid-century futuristic design. Advanced Google-fu is, of course, a major asset but a good old-fashioned personal morgue file/reference library remains an excellent way to get creative juices flowing in the right direction. Also: I knew what printer we would be using for the job (PS Print of Oakland, CA -- they do most of SLG's short-run color promotional material printing) so I checked their website for stock die-cut shapes and my early designs were inspired by what I found. And finally: I found this free textures resource extremely helpful.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Book Design: Sippin' Safari

Sippin' Safari is the new book (it shipped just a couple of weeks ago) written by noted mixologist Jeff "Beachbum" Berry, published by SLG, and designed by me. It's not the first book I've ever put together but it is my first produced in cover to cover color. If it weren't for the fact I was using Adobe's Creative Suite 2 on an Intel-based Mac (my worst software experience ever -- just a horror) this job would have otherwise been a dream and virtually stress-free.

The front cover (the right half of the above image) was designed by artist Kevin Kidney, about the time I finished work on the first few chapters. Kevin, who did some interior art as well, did a truly wonderful job. Jeff is a wizard at getting the best out of people (just check out the original photography in the book or the zombie make-up seen on the back cover) and Kevin's efforts were no exception. Unfortunately, Kevin's typography choices conflicted with some of the work I had already done. This really bugged me at first but ultimately I found that I preferred his choices and I tweaked my stuff to mesh better with his (when you're designing a book with material given to you rather than material you select you have to be willing to be flexible).

An example of Jeff getting better work out of people: My original contents page design was simply the text placed over a photo that we otherwise didn't have a place for. Jeff felt that a good contents page was vital to selling potential readers on the book. He had a point but since the contents page was one of the very last things I worked on I had to come up with an improved design a mere day or two before it all went to the printer. Thankfully, I quickly had the notion of creating a menu-like look (see image above). An obvious idea, really, and one I should have thought of much sooner.

Here are some spreads from Sippin' Safari:

As I said, all-in-all a fine experience. I think Jeff and I will be doing another book next year and I look forward to it.

(Sippin' Safari may be ordered direct from the publisher or the usual suspects.)